Friday, February 28, 2014


This is what it looks like when you take the middle braid out first.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kids Will Be Kids

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Yesterday Elsa didn't eat her breakfast. It sat, untouched, even though I told her over and over again that she needed to eat. It wasn't that she wasn't hungry, because she told me the moment she woke up that she was. She simply didn't want to eat it.

I didn't discover said full-bowl until after she was gone to school, so I decided that when she returned home she would be the recipient of one of my world-famous-lectures. I've mentioned those before, right? Of course this time I would be giving one that I have given many times over to her big sisters. The kind that starts something like this, "There are many starving children in the world and it is disrespectful to them to let food go to waste...."

As I said those words to her I couldn't help but realize the irony; that she, a very short time ago was one of those children. What it really goes to show is that kids are kids. I always blamed Alexandra and Lorelai's somewhat-spoiled-ways on the fact that they had never gone without; that they had always had their every need and want. But now I know that it must be human nature to get ... oh shall I say ... picky.

Elsa was very receptive to my lecture and was quite apologetic for refusing her breakfast. She gave me a big hug and promised to always eat the food I provide for her. Then I did the only thing that was left to do - I made her another bowl of oatmeal. ;)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lisa's Finishing School Part 4

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On Saturday afternoon the children and I (plus two favorite friends) went to listen to the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers perform. It was a true treat for me as choral music is my absolute favorite - like a delicious feast for my ears. Honestly, I can't get enough of it - especially a group as well trained and rehearsed as the Mastersingers. Saturday's performance was purely a cappella and featured music by Carlo Gesualdo as well as local composer, Reginald Unterseher. 

Up next: The girls (minus Elsa) will be attending a performance of Shostakovich's Symphony #1 this Saturday. In preparation for the concert, we have downloaded the music and will spend the remainder of the week listening to it as we eat breakfast, do homework, drive around town, etc. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that music is more enjoyable when it is familiar. So my plan is for the girls to know Symphony #1 inside and out before the downbeat on Saturday night. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Mama Can Braid

I did it! And let me tell you - it was not easy. Elsa's hair is so short that I could barely manage it with my fingers. Plus, every time I would part her hair it would boing back like no part ever existed. But...I persevered and I am pleased as punch with how it turned out! I mean, it is far from perfect, but for a first try I would say it is admirable - especially considering my white-mama status.


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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Then & Now

February 2011

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February 2014

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Things that change:
~Hair color

Things that stay the same:
~Elisabeth's baby-ness (if that makes sense)

Have I mentioned lately how much I love having a forever baby? 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

After School Snacks

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I think my favorite part of the day is when the children get home from school. Before I leave to pick them up I like to run the vacuum and make sure the house is straight and orderly for their return. I'm not sure they really notice, but even so, I think it must feel relaxing to return home to a tidy and comfortable space.

Lately I have been preparing snacks for the girls. I had gotten in the habit of letting them fend for themselves - but that had led to nonstop grazing and snacks that were just about the size of a full meal. I've been focusing a lot on foods these days (more on that later) and so I decided to start making afternoon snacks that were a) an appropriate size and b) healthy and balanced.

As for Elisabeth - she gets an afternoon snack, too. By way of g-tube, of course!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two Worlds Come Together

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Before going to Ethiopia in August I went around the house and took pictures of everything. And by everything I mean bathrooms, dogs, toys, bedrooms, etc. I also took pictures of our family at the water park, and of the girls doing activities like gymnastics and guitar. Then I printed them all off and put them in two pretty little albums.

On that first trip we were able to spend five days visiting Elsa. We also went to court where she legally became our own. But then we had to say goodbye for a short while we awaited her visa from the US. That's why I wanted the photo albums; something tangible for her to hold and look at; a reminder that we were coming back to bring her to our little corner of the world.

When we got to the orphanage there were albums everywhere; prized possessions of children who had already met their forever families and were awaiting their return. It was fun to see all the albums and to watch the children 'showoff' their families to each other. Here is a picture of Elsa [wearing Donald's hat] looking at one of her photo albums with all her friends looking on.

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It was heartbreaking to say goodbye at the end of that week. Elsa was in tears as we left. She told the orphanage director (who then translated for us) that she 'wanted us to stay with her or take her with us'. She didn't want to wait. But, unfortunately there was no way around it. So we left, promising her that we would be back soon.

Three months later it was time to return. When we arrived at the orphanage the albums that were new and shiny just one season earlier were battered and falling apart. A sure sign that she had looked at them over and over and over again.

It wasn't until recently that I flipped through one of those albums again. You can imagine my surprise to see that there was a small picture of Elsa taped into the corner of our family picture: 

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My heart melted. First of all, Elsa looks so young in that portrait - which thrilled me since I don't have any baby pictures of her. Second, it was so sweet to see that she had put herself into the picture. At first I thought one of the nannies had done it for her, but she immediately corrected me when I asked about it, "No, I did it."

Naturally, my next question was where did she get that picture of herself. Her response surprised me. She told me that when her mother came to say goodbye to her (in July) she gave her three pictures. That was one of them. I asked Elsa about the other two but she doesn't know where they ended up, which is understandable in the organized chaos of an orphanage. My heart broke a little as I imagined her mother seeing her that last time. I honestly can't fathom what she must have been feeling or how she had the strength to walk away.

Elsa is a brave little girl. She is a strong little girl. To take a farewell gift from her biological mother and attach it to a picture of her new family shows her willingness to accept change. She talks openly with us about her past and has very fond memories of her early childhood. She doesn't mourn for the life she left behind, but rather appreciates it. Indeed, I think she has found a healthy way to balance two worlds - one that holds her roots, and another that holds her future.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's + Lisa's Finishing School Part 3

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Another first for our sweet Elsa - Valentine's Day! We spent the week leading up to it reading Valentine's Day books from our bookshelf - like The Day it Rained Hearts and Funny Valentine. But even then, I don't think she knew what to expect: cards and sweets and little gifts! She probably thinks that life here in America is one continuous party! (Maybe it is...)

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Last night was our monthly etiquette dinner with the children. We kept with a Valentine's Day theme and it turned out simply lovely! I especially love my new table cloth.

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I was quite pleased with how that center piece turned out. A friend had shared with me a photo of something similar and I knew I had to give it a try. So I stayed up late on Valentine's Eve and created my own paper crane tree. Now the wheels are really turning...I keep thinking of all the different color combinations I can do - this is going to be fun!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Me: Elsa, you are full of love. 

Elsa: What is 'full'?

Realizing immediately that 'full' was a brand new word for her,
I grabbed two glasses, filling only one with water. 

Me: This one is full. This one is empty. You are full of love, just like the glass is full of water.
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Happy Valentines Day!
I hope it's full of love!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Love G-Tubes!

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As it turns out, it is Feeding Tube Awareness Week. Now, I'm not quite sure why we need a Feeding Tube Awareness Week except that everyone loves to have a cause these days. So why not!? We all  know that I am the biggest g-tube fan out there - so I say, let's give it a week of its own!

Elisabeth had her G-tube placed in May of 2010. In the months prior to that she was struggling to swallow as a result of seizures. We watched as she lost weight and knew it was time. For our family it wasn't a difficult decision. Nor was it scary. I've encountered many parents who struggle with the choice; many who feel it is a sign of giving up, even failure. But I don't see why.  G-tubes are a gift! What a blessing it is to have a way to feed Elisabeth even though she cannot feed herself. And what comfort it brings to have an easy way to give her the medications she needs to help control seizures. There is nothing to be sad or scared of. G-tubes are the best!!

Here is a diagram showing where a g-tube is placed on the abdomen:
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It is quite simple, really. A button is placed that goes directly into the stomach. Just open the cap, attach the tube, and pour the food right in. Easy peasy!

Now, as for Elisabeth's diet. I spent two and a half years feeding her pediasure. Then one day I finally got the courage to try making her food myself. I followed a recipe and made a weeks worth at once. It was - shall I say - a big production. One day shortly thereafter, the light bulb went on: when my other girls were five I didn't sit and count every calorie they took in, I simply made them well balanced meals. I suddenly realized that I could do the same for Elisabeth. It didn't have to be a calculated recipe where I counted calories and made a weeks worth at a time. I could just take what I had on hand, throw it in the blender, and feed her!

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Best decision I ever made.

Typically, I will do something like this: throw in a banana, some spinach, maybe some chicken, a hard boiled egg, peanut butter, applesauce and water. Then I hit liquify and voila - a few servings worth of food. Elisabeth eats healthier than anyone else in this house, I tell you! And the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing that I am giving her whole foods and not something out of a can is incomparable. Elisabeth is my everything and she deserves the best. 

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 [Feeding time.]

I love g-tubes!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Apple Cup Invitational

Lorelai Leigh
Wenatchee, WA
February 8, 2014

Beam: 8.375

Bar: 8.45

Floor: 8.4

Vault: 8.675

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Elisabeth's Happy Place

Tucked into the corner of my bedroom is Elisabeth's bed. We moved it there 2011 before my spinal surgery so that I wouldn't have to carry her up and down the stairs. I am not sure we necessarily planned on leaving her there permanently - but it ended up being the best place for her.

You see, it brings great comfort having her so close during the night.  Her breathing pattern changes when she has a seizure and it always wakes me up. When that happens, I bring her into bed with Donald and me so that I can snuggle her and tell her that everything is going to be okay.

Elisabeth loves her bed. It is her happy place. She used to be content to sit on her rug in the family room and play with toys, but not so much anymore. I think sitting on the floor has just become uncomfortable with her scoliosis getting so severe. As an alternative, I put her in bed to play. It is much softer for those times that she loses balance and topples over (about every minute!).
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Everybody has a happy place.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The New Phone

I was due for a phone upgrade and so I took advantage of a deal on to buy a Galaxy S4 for a penny! Of course, then I needed a new phone case. So I used a gift card from my brother, David, to get this sweet little thing:

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I am absolutely in love with it.

And the inside gets even better:

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Something about that fabric reminds me of my childhood. I am pretty sure I had a white dress with strawberries on it when I was one or two.

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Once I had the phone and the case, it was time to start thinking about images for the phone itself 
(this is the kind of thing I have so much fun with, can you tell?)

I chose a pink rosebud wallpaper that went well with the motif of the case:
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 For my lock screen I found this little number:
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I absolutely adore this picture! 
 I want to hop right into the drawing and float away in one of those hot air balloons.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

First Snow!

Nothing quite compares to a fresh blanket of snow covering the earth.
Everything is so bright, so clean, so quiet, so peaceful.

This past week brought our first snowfall of the season - and another first for our new little Elsa. Life here in this corner of the world is vastly different from the country she left behind. She has accepted the change gladly; ready and willing to embrace this new place that she calls home.

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 And for the finale...
Lorelai threw a large ball of snow up into the air!

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After it came back down she looked pleased as punch. 
I can't say the same for Elsa who was too close to escape the downfall!

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