Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Guitar Recital

This time of year means banquets, assemblies, parties....and recitals. Here is Alexandra at her guitar recital last night. The best part - aside from her stellar performance, of course - is her slight head nod at the end as she walks away. I love her confidence and seeing her acknowledge the audience.

And just because...

Look at this picture Lex took of Brigitta yesterday:

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A dogs life!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Jesus vs. Elsa

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[I walked by a tree at the nursery a few days ago and saw this cherry hanging all by its lonesome. 
I snapped this picture and thought it turned out beautifully!]

A few Elsa quotes from yesterday:


"I am glad I came here. I have a good family."

I pretty much melted when she said that during dinner. I am grateful that she has adjusted so easily to life here in America and in our home.


"Does Jesus have powers?" "Yes," I answered, to which she responded, "Like Elsa?"

To be clear, she is referring to Elsa from Frozen. Hearing her relate Jesus to Elsa totally had me chuckling.


"I like being Ethiopian, but I wish a had light skin and long hair."

First of all, hearing her say something positive about her Ethiopian heritage is new progress. Since moving here, she has wanted nothing to do with Ethiopia... would even shudder at the mention of it. So I am thrilled that she is at a point where she can love life here in America, but not turn her back on her roots. 

Second, I took the opportunity not only to tell her how beautiful she is, but to teach her that it makes no difference what color your skin is, but rather what's in your heart, how you treat others, what you do with your life, etc. In the end, she understood - and more importantly - agreed.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Post About Falling. And Tea (with jam and bread).

of a fall:

  photo e585e5a7-defb-4420-af93-e6d07178208a_zps459a4301.jpg  photo 2b58557e-b689-4ee9-8727-9d67d2eba174_zps9937ca1d.jpg  photo 20b106bc-ec1c-4959-9a9a-7c32f594f1f4_zpsf5787241.jpg  photo 2311c8b7-3198-4968-a13f-90a19bd278d3_zps59e036c6.jpg  photo 65e7648f-9255-4f92-8c98-ea119fb46cb3_zps3e88659b.jpg 

No matter how hard she tries, Elisabeth simply can't sit up anymore. Not longer than five seconds, anyway. Such is life when your spine is so very, very crooked.

In other news...

Rehearsals for The Sound of Music are going SO well.
Here is a little snippet to get you excited (as if you weren't already):

Little known fact: This reprise of Do-Re-Mi is my favorite musical number in The Sound of Music. Something about the sophistication of the music paired with the silliness of the words just speaks brilliance.

Also: You might notice two lines of Von Trapp children, that is because the show is double cast: a blonde set and a brunette set. They are splitting the shows, each taking three. Alexandra is Marta in the brunette cast. She is standing behind the girl in orange, second to the left.

Tea with jam and bread! 
With jam and bread! 
With jam...with jam and bread!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thoughts on Aging

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I was chatting with a woman last week who cares for a disabled man in his mid-twenties. According to her description, he sounds quite similar to Elisabeth.

Here is the interesting thing - she said that even though he is in his mid-twenties, he still looks like a ten year old. I looked at Elisabeth, she is six now, but still looks very much like a baby.

This got me thinking...

How do we age? Why do we age?

Elisabeth and this man both look years younger than they are; they have the mental capacity of babies; they don't process thoughts and ideas; they don't feel stress, anxiety, fear, or a host of other emotions. In short, they are in a permanent state of infancy.

So maybe it isn't the passing of time that ages us, but life experience. And when life experience is limited - as it is with Elisabeth - you are left with a body that grows, but does not age. 

Make sense?

 photo 54d72114-a716-45e9-ac21-12f330dc3362_zps91ec685f.jpg 
My forever baby.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


All the great ones are adopted.

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Speaking of superpowers... 

Our favorite thing these days is to pretend that Elsa is THE Elsa from Frozen. For example, if we are outside and it's really hot I'll say something like, 

"Hey, Elsa, do you think you could cool it down a bit, maybe make a little snow?" 

"But I don't have powers." 

"Is your name Elsa?"


"Then you must! Come on, I know you can do it, you don't have to pretend with me."

"But I can't! I really don't have powers."
(All said with a smile on her face)

Or....if we are in a building that is really cold:

"Elsa, it is freezing in here! Do you think you could make the cold go away? I mean, I know the cold never bothered you anyway...but just this once, could you warm it up?"

"But I can't! I don't have powers!"

"Come on Elsa, you can do it! Love can thaw a frozen heart."

And so on and so forth. Let me tell you, having her move here the same week that Disney's most popular movie in forever was released was quite fortunate - given that she shares a name with the star of the show.

Funny story:

Alexandra's classmate, Anna (pronounced the same as in the movie Frozen) actually said, "Why do you call your sister Elsa? Is it because the movie?"

Ha ha! Lex said, "Because it's her name!"

I told her she should have asked her why people call her Anna.


Thank you SO much to our friend, Mandy, who ordered this shirt for Elsa! 
She loves it!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Variations of Shel Silverstein Poems

I realize that childhood is quickly slipping away for my older girls, and so I make sure to really soak up moments like this:

  photo e86e55db-c952-49bc-bc8f-dc4913c6bd28_zps5b42e6d1.jpg  photo 204bdcf8-bc37-488c-83e2-26b1ac837ddc_zpscc18b399.jpg 
[My playbill.]

And here is just a snippet of the show I was presented:

How do kids come up with these ideas? I thought it was a brilliant way to spend their afternoon. I was also impressed with the title - Variations of Shel Silverstein's Poems. Not just Shel Silverstein's Poems...but variations. These girls are smart cookies!

As I watched them perform, alongside our neighbor, Emma, it immediately reminded me of a post I wrote last summer titled, Every Penny Counts. Go read it - it'll make this moment of seeing Elsa and Emma playing together even that more sweet.

On a completely different note: 

They were in need of a translator at church yesterday for a man that came in and didn't speak a word of English. Alexandra immediately stepped up to the plate. Oh, you should have seen her beaming all afternoon - she was so proud of was I. 

Before I ever had children, I knew I wanted them to be bilingual (or more). I didn't know how I would make that happen, speaking nothing more than English myself, but it was a dream I never lost. Then, a year before Alexandra entered school, I learned that our district had started a dual language program where the children were immersed in Spanish. It was a literal dream come true for me.

Here we are years later...Alexandra is getting ready to enter middle school next year and is completely fluent. Outside of school she doesn't have many opportunities to use her Spanish, so yesterday was a great testament to her that being bilingual truly will be beneficial in her life.

Oh, and I must add that as we drove home from church Alexandra said it reminded her of the I Love Lucy episode, Cuban Pals, where Ricky is translating for Lucy and his friends visiting from Cuba. I've told you before, we pretty much relate everything in life to I Love Lucy. Needless to say, we promptly came home and watched it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Around Our House

***I logged into my blogger account and saw that I have 1781 published posts. Then, randomly, I noticed right below that it said I had 1 draft. ???. I clicked on it and found this post, sitting there, waiting to be published for over two years. I have no idea why I never did. And I can't believe that I didn't notice it in my draft file.

Regardless, here it is, two years in the making...

[Both real....and origami.]

[All the origami flowers were made by my friend, Justyne. I love them; they are colorful...and don't wilt.]


Also in the 
Around Our House 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Hershey Track and Field Games

Elsa and Lorelai participated in the 2014 Hershey Track and Field Games yesterday. They had some stiff competition, but Lorelai still managed to win 3rd place in the 50 meter dash! And while Elsa placed in top 5 for her age group, I think this proved that long distance is her strength, which isn't surprising when considering her Ethiopian heritage. (refer to jog-a-thon post)

  photo 20cdda89-d13b-4e7e-a6f3-07d37f724583_zps8e4a5d7f.jpg 
Elsa Lelise, second from left, 100 meter dash.                          [Photo courtesy of Charlene Hardy.]

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Here she comes!                                                                                  [Photo courtesy of Charlene Hardy.]

  photo 35886b65-c65b-4c39-9bc9-785c0f60e08a_zps4a307083.jpg  photo d28b4a2e-f1ff-409f-9daa-328f19e768c0_zps574c8559.jpg 
Broad jump.

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Discussing running strategies with her Pops.

  photo 999f7c1f-bedd-4279-b624-17769ef31000_zps05812c86.jpg 
Elsa and Lorelai with lifelong friend, Tessa.                              [Photo courtesy of Charlene Hardy] 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Growing Out My Hair - An Update

So, on New Years of 2012 I decided I was going to let my hair grow out the entire year and document it month by month. It started out reeeeaaallly short and grew a considerable amount - as is evident in my final post of that series. That was the end of the dedicated posts, but regardless, I kept growing out my hair. In fact, I let it grow another whole year and then finally trimmed up the ends a few days before Christmas. But other than that trim five months ago, it's just kept on growing.

The thing is, I rarely wear it down. Usually, I braid it or stick it back in a bun. Lately, I have taken to putting my bun off to the side, like so:

 photo a590ae39-6be7-46f8-9b29-8e29dabbab1d_zpsee3f9d09.jpg

 It feels very Spanish and has me longing for a trip to Madrid. 
Hopefully soon...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Team Banquet

Lorelai's gymnastics team held their annual banquet last night to honor the girls at the end of the 2014 competition season. This was Lorelai's first season competing and we saw tremendous growth between the first and last meets. These girls put in hours upon hours at the gym - and it shows - Lorelai is literally a solid mass of muscle!

I am so proud of Lorelai, at the skills she has learned this year, as well as her ability to carry on during the times that it seemed too difficult to handle (think 3 hours straight of conditioning.)

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Lorelai Leigh, being recognized by her coach, 'Froggy'.

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The level 3 competing team.

  photo 70a51ad1-d1ca-404b-a5e2-98538f8feb4a_zpsf8a98612.jpg 

Enough fun, now back to the gym! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Single Image...Or Two

Sometimes you capture a moment that encapsulates the pure joy of childhood in a single image:

 photo aeae1f8a-d88a-4122-8ca2-7cf6ba276699_zps65020f2c.jpg

Sometimes you capture two:

 photo a58e1502-2f02-43d4-9207-7a0f9d8b05d6_zps32e330de.jpg

In other news, I have been obsessing over the 3rd movement of Mahler's 1st Symphony the past few days. There is some quality to it that makes me want to climb right inside. I'm not sure that makes sense - but it does in my head. I just want to become part of this music. I want to go away to where it takes me. It is just that brilliant.

Have a listen:

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Post About Beans

Lately, we've taken to making our own 'refried' beans. They are delicious! The girls and I are big bean eaters, and we agree that they are just as good as beans you would get at a Mexican restaurant. And the aroma that fills our house while they are cooking....mmmm....

Here's what we do:
  • Soak 2 lbs of pinto beans over night.
  • Rinse beans and put in crock pot.
  • Add one chopped onion, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tbsp salt, 4 tbsp minced garlic.
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  • Add 5 cups of hot water.
  •  Cover crock pot and put on high for 4 hours. Cook an additional 2 hours on low.
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  • Mash with potato masher.
  • Divide into containers and store in fridge for up to two weeks.
  photo 487fa81e-e1a7-472c-b1e6-cd1e7e58c169_zpsd8093693.jpg 


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lisa Sorenson, Violist

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A year ago this month I played viola in an orchestra for the very first time. I had always been a violinist, but they were needing extra violas and asked if anyone would/could play viola for that concert.

I debated in my mind. I had a viola - I got it for my 16th birthday - but I had never played it. Truth be told, I didn't even know how to read alto clef, which is the clef which viola music is written. But even so...I thought I was up for the challenge.

So I quickly tried to retrain my brain to read alto clef. At the beginning it was somewhat like reading a foreign language. I was slow. I was confused. But little by little I started to become more fluent, so to speak. And as I became more comfortable with alto clef, I started to fall in love with this instrument I had ignored for some 17 years.  By concerts end I had made up a mind, I was there to stay.

I love playing viola. Something about it just invigorates me! I am not sure why I feel such a difference, after all, viola is played in the same manner as a violin - it's just a little bigger. Perhaps it's the deeper, richer tone. Or perhaps it is sitting in the middle of the orchestra where I can hear and feel the complete balance of music around me.

Whatever it is, I love it. I love playing viola. And I love that I have started to get more job offers to play viola lately than violin. Word is spreading: I am Lisa Sorenson, violist.

**** I will be performing viola with the Mid-Columbia Symphony tonight. Mahler's 1st Symphony is on the program and it is AMAZING!! Please come. Details here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Half-a-Year at Home

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6 months ago today, we pulled into our driveway after traveling halfway around the world and back. With us was the newest member of our family, Elsa.

I thought today would be the perfect day to share some images of those first moments at home.

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Entering our house for the very first time:
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There was so much to take in, furniture, toys, clothes, books, dogs, electronics, cars...  photo 52afa4d9-d3bc-4734-ad19-56eb6f72a9db_zpsa3382901.jpg
[Taking her to see her new bedroom.]

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And then a peek at Alexandra's room...and the computer room:
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Then the girls bathroom...and back downstairs again:
  photo ce57e855-cbf9-41a4-bdf0-ae00e0edca89_zpsa7b5aeb8.jpg  photo 330bdae6-143c-47f2-9e98-60b1903ac79d_zpsf264600d.jpg

Next up, a visit to the parlor and a quick xylophone tutorial:
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After her brief music lesson, it was off to the kitchen, where gifts, flowers, and a cake awaited her:
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[Our family tree has six birds on it now!]

Finally - and perhaps most importantly - off to meet Elisabeth!
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Once the house tour was done, the playing began:  photo 6688bb6f-9cb4-479d-a910-dfdae9ce1c5b_zpscabf38cb.jpg

Since we began the adoption process, nearly two years ago, I have had the words to the hymn Because I Have Been Given Much continually in my mind.

Because I have been given much
I too must give
Because of thy great bounty, Lord
Each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me

Because I have been sheltered, fed
By thy good care
I cannot see another's lack
And I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread
My roof's safe shelter overhead
That he too may be comforted

Because I have been given much
I too must give
Because of thy great bounty Lord
Each day I live
I shall divide gifts from thee
With every brother that see
Who has the need of help from me

Because I have been sheltered, fed
By thy good care
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
my roof saved shelter overhead
That he to me be comforted

Because I have been blessed by
thy great love dear Lord
I’ll share thy love again
According to thy word
I shall give love to those in need
I’ll show that love by word and deed
Thus shall my thanks be thanks in deed
I am lucky to have a family and a home. 
I am fortunate to live in the United States of America.
I am blessed to have food, clothing, healthcare, and an education. 
And I am honored to share it all with Elsa.

  photo ccfbe55e-1a3e-4a5c-853a-3103191d7b6b_zps0b4bd6bc.jpg 
[Elsa Lelise, first day at home, November 16, 2013.]
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