Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas at Home, Part II

I wanted to do something a little different this Christmas. I am envious of those who can spend days baking every kind of cookie and confection to present with a plate and a carol. I just don't have that kind of energy. I felt my culinary contribution this Christmas need to be based on Christ's ministry on earth. Focusing on Him resonated with me more than any other. So, I pulled out my most prized recipe book from Alaska and got busy.

I love this charming book. It has recipes from my high school librarian, my violin teacher, my favorite Alaskan artist and many Alaskans who I've read about and admired. So loved is this little sugary wonder, it opens automatically to my favorite recipe: Fiddlehead Ginger Crinkles. I don't let them get crinkly, so I would actually call them "chews."

And they cut great with a cookie as the ginger chews would be my "fish." (I would think a nice round porgy or snapper-like fish would have worked, but the only fish cookie cutter I have is a king salmon. It worked though.)
For the loaves, I made some mini-pumpkin variety from my beautiful Bon Appetit cookbook. Since we were delivering this to fellow Latter-day Saints, I also included a brief perspective written by one the leaders of our Church, President James E. Faust. Its from his book, Finding Light in a Dark World. I enjoyed reading his words because his outlook provides a sweetness that will not go away. One bite of this morsel of knowledge and we are reminded of why this season of remembering Christ's advent and arrival into the world is so important.

He wrote: "In our time, we seem to have forgotten the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes in favor of the miracles wrought by the mind and hand of men. I refer to the marvels of modern transportation and the increasing sophistication of all scientific knowledge, including the new electronic highway. We have forgotten that this amazing knowledge comes to mankind only as God chooses to reveal it, and it should be used for purposes nobler and wiser than mere entertainment. This knowledge permits the words of the prophets of God to be bounced off satellites hovering over the earth so it is possible for much of mankind to hear their messages.

"With this great knowledge has come also some skepticism about the simple and profound eternal truths taught in the miracle of the loaves and of the fishes—namely, that God rules in the heavens and the earth through his infinite intelligence and goodness.

"We are also to understand and remember that we too, like the lad in the New Testament account, are the spirit children of our Heavenly Father and that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior, and the Redeemer of the world. We believe that in the centuries following the establishment of his kingdom upon the earth, the doctrines and the ordinances were changed, resulting in a falling away and the loss of the keys of priesthood authority from the earth.

"A miracle even greater than that of the loaves and the fishes was the vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who saw the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York. Subsequently the keys, the priesthood, and the saving ordinances were restored in their fulness, and Christ's church was reestablished in our time. Thus God has again fed us and filled our baskets to overflowing."

Elf Yourself Link

We had so much fun this Christmas, we decided to dance!
(Thanks, Liz, for making us look so darn cute.)

The Cup Trick

This is my first attempt at editing and posting with our Canon Elph. Pretty easy...I tried a bit of editing too. Its very elementary, but fun. The girls were eating lunch at Grandma and Pop's house on Long Island. Sadly, they weren't there, but I'm sure they were enjoying the squirms and wiggles of Isabelle in Alaska. Here's what they missed:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas at Home, Part I

We are relishing in the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. And we're enjoying staying home for it all. The snowstorms and windchill here in the Northeast have made staying indoors so attractive and inviting. We've only gone outside to play once. Its just too cold, especially for two little people who don't walk. Still, we're enjoying making memories and remembering (and rejoicing) that we got all of Esra's appointments finished before winter officially rolled in.

So, my favorite part of Christmas is pulling out the Nativity scenes. Especially the one I bought in Jerusalem. I bought this set specifically for my future home and family. Esra finds satisfaction in inspecting the pieces and putting them in place. So, while the girls were keeping busy, I did a few artistic shots of this olive wood set modeled amidst the bows of the tree and lights.

I should have known that they were getting into trouble...It was too quiet!

Also, Christmas came a little early here, as the IKEA elves couldn't resist assembling things right after arriving from Sweden (via New Haven). The girls got a little table with two chairs to go in their playroom. And I got a gorgeous, indispensable, been-eyeing-one-for-twelve-months kitchen island. Oh, its a thing of beauty. And more storage!

Almost Finished

The new blog design is almost done. Just a few tweeks here and there plus making the sidebar headers. Chris did a superb job with the colors and style...See it here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boston and Blessings

The trip to Boston went well. Yep, Esra made it to the MRI! Oh, frabjous day! Calloo! Callay! They did diagnose her with Chiari (KEY-ar-ee) Malformation, Type II. We could only assume she had this condition, since many children with Spina Bifida do. But we needed the imagery to confirm it. The Neurosurgery Attending didn't feel that she needs surgical intervention now, but he said he wanted a second opinion from his colleague who oversees the Spina Bifida clinic. We'll be going back for clinic (and ENT, Pulmonology and, possibly G.I.) in February. Anyone want to come?

So, we decided to do things a bit differently this trip: we took the train and I played tourist, briefly. The girls were fantastic travel companions.

We traveled very light, only taking a suit case and the Phil and Ted stroller. We didn't even bring Esra's wheelchair.

It all worked...While Esra slept off the anesthesia in the ICU, Estelle and I explored the Freedom Trail and enjoyed the city and all the seasonal sights and sounds. We didn't savor too long though. The wind bit our noses and nipped at our heals all the way back to Children's.

Now, we are settling into a nice winter's rest, after ramping up for six weeks doing our most vigilant to keep Esra away from germs and foreign bodies. Staying sequestered at home was the best way to stay well, even though she still went to pre-school and we attended the Sacrament (Communion) portion of the Sunday Services. We even made a button for Esra to wear at church. It said "Please don't touch me. I'm feeling sensitive today." It wasn't very successful, as the only people who wanted to touch her and love her are the ones who can't read anything without reading glasses.

Our list of tender mercies is growing...First, there were the gymmats and corner seat. Then it was the tuition for preschool, Next, it was the wagon. Now, a group of three families is giving Esra a sand/water table for Christmas. And our application to a local non-profit to fund a hand-powered tricycle was approved yesterday. (There is even talk of acquiring a used power-chair from a little girl who has outgrown it. More to come on that soon...) Most of these items have come to us through a very intuitive and giving woman. She sees our need and helps us fill it. The other items have also come to us through equally hard-working, dedicated professionals and community memebers who care about Esra's well-being and success. We are blessed.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The concert was a great success...the girls even sat through most of it. And I survived standing for over 90 minutes. It was tough. I could see Sam and the girls from where I was in the choir. It was neat to see their smiling faces in the audience. And they made lots of friends around them. They started squirming right as the Hallelujah Chorus was about to begin. (Note: we only performed the first part of Messiah! Much shorter than the all three parts. I was so tired and we only sang six pieces. But the soloists were such a treat!) It was such a great way to start the Christmas Season.

Deck The Halls, Everyone!

holiday project

Visit my new creative blog to see what I just finished over the holiday weekend...

Oh, and don't forget, I will be singing in the Handel's Messiah at the Noank Baptist Church is tonight at 7:30pm.

Also, I will be performing O Holy Night on the violin this coming Friday, Dec 5th at 7:30pm at the local LDS Church's 2nd Annual Choir and Creche Festival.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Wheels are Turning

I have begun to research the pros and cons of a power chair for Esra. So far I have received great resistance from her early intervention team to pursue one so early in life. But my belief is that exploration is learning and cognition comes from investigating every aspect of one's environment. Certainly, Esra is limited in her exploration because of her devices. I want to include her in family work and that just isn't possible with the devices we have. Last year, I stumbled upon a fantastic chair that is made in the U.K. Its called a SnapDragon...I have yet to convince Esra's therapists about its advantages.

The main reason for disagreement from the team is the need to build her upper-body strength. But with the mobility emphasis put on building physical capacity, what is being done to ensure the building of her congnitive and emotional capacities, without continued, almost constant one-on-one supervision? In her devices, she must constantly be monitored. Nothing stays in her hands for long, everything falls or is thrown to the floor because there is nothing to support, and nothing can be accessed with out assistance. And what about learning to bake and wash dishes, sweep and dust, set the table? Certainly wonderful activities for a toddler to participate in. With that in mind, I feel strongly that I should proceed with my intuition to, at least, learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of a toddler-driven power chair.

For those of you who do not know, my daughter has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, Chiari II, speech delay, uses pigeon ASL, cleft palate, heart defect, sleep apnea, neurogenic bowel and bladder (incontinent), can't sit independently, is non-ambulatory (doesn't walk or stand) and overall is about 6-9 months behind her peers. She goes to an early intervention pre-school twice a week for four hours each day. She is in class with normally developing peers. Currently, she uses a manual chair (Quickie) and a mobile dynamic stander (Rifton). Both are servicable, but certainly they only help to move her and put her in place to play at a surface that has nothing underneath it. Even though she is greatly constrained by the bulk and radius of the chair and stander, she can navigate a room with ease. She has excellent hand-eye coordination and can manuever 360 degrees through most flat, home and community environments.

So, back to the SnapDragon. There are only a few families in the U.S.A. that have one of these chairs. I found one. And I'm so inspired by the parents and their little boy. The mom is an artist. She is an exquisite print designer and letterpress artisan. Her combinations in line and color are pleasant and peaceful. I so want to emulate that. Especially, because she, too, is dealing with the needs of a physically dependent person, who daily needs can eclipse much of ones desire to create. She's got my wheels turning, in her ingenuity to find the right tools to take care of her little guy and in keeping her artistic drive spinning.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A New Design

Peeps, exciting things are happening here at BWIG.

Chris Jenkins, a very talented Las Vegas-based photographer and creative mind, is putting together a blog design for me. I'm so thrilled. There is a sneak peak at the finished product on her blog. Since the title is based on song about a very charitable body of water, I wanted to incorporate blue and water into the new design. I think it will all go nicely with the sessions shots that Chris took of our family while we were in Las Vegas this summer.

So, while we wait for the artistic alchemy to come together, I'll show you what is happening at our house:Enough said...oh, plus Esra's runny nose has returned. (I'm debating whether or not to tell the MRI folks about it this time. We've rescheduled her brain and spine MRI five times now all because of this perpetual runny nose...I'm under-the-weather too. So, once the clouds part around my head then, well, we'll see.)

Friday, November 14, 2008


My friend Catherine, who I met at the BYU Jerusalem Center, has an endearing list on her blog that she entitled, Thank"fullness". It has many wonderful things on it that I think most sane, quietly living person puts on their thankful list. But she also highlighted things that I hadn't considered being thankful for because took them for granted. (And they are just fun and quirky and put a smile on my face just thinking about them.) Like...

The occasional finger lick while baking

The circle of fifths

Never having a lack of things to do


Challah bread.

What are you thank"full" for?

A Little Article I Wrote

So, yesterday, while Sam was nodding off in the JetBlue terminal in San Diego waiting to catch his flight back to Boston, I ventured out with the girls into the misty darkness and went to Spouses Club. I haven't done anything like that for awhile. There were a good number of ladies present, as well as a few other children there, so Esra and Estelle were kept busy. But still, I did more chasing of them than participating in the meeting. However, I did go for a specific purpose: to suggest a charity for them to support this year and also give some ideas on fun activities to do next year, too. I gave my two cents and had a nice time. They are all great ladies and dedicated wives to their men in uniform. Anyway, they also asked for article submissions for the monthly newsletter. I thought I'd share what I came up with since it was fun to write about places that I go to happily and frequently.

Around Town by Peggy

I am not too earthy, but I am concerned about my health and the well-being of my family. So, lately I have been seeking out more organic and holistic products, buying local and supporting local businesses. Here are two places that I've discovered.

The first place, Treehugger Organics, is a fun and funky new salon. Located off of State Street in Downtown New London, this hip salon is run by a wife-husband team. They specialize in all-natural products, no chemicals and a great fun vibe. They even compost all the clipped hair at the end of they day! I love going there and chatting with Gina, the owner, about family, homeschooling (salon-schooling for her), farmer's markets, gardening, home design, IKEA, etc. They also have a fantastic boutique of local artisan soaps, hair products, plus Gina's custom-made baby slings and clothe diapers. You can even book an appointment online. Treehugger is truly down-to-earth. Check it out.

The next place, SE CT Therapy and Wellness Center, has greatly improved my oldest daughter's health, who was born with life-threatening birth defects and now has multiple delays and uses a wheelchair. If you are feeling like the NACC leaves too much to be desired, then fill-in the gaps with the Center's services offered in Uncasville, just up Route 32. This, too, is a family-owned venture run by a mother and her two sons. They provide both conventional Physical and Occupational therapy, as well as Cranio-Sacral therapy and other holistic therapies. My daughter participates in Cranio-Sacral therapy. What a difference it has made! She has regained more leg movement and sensation after six months of treatment. The Center also offers homeopathic and fish oil nutritional support. They also have a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist, as well as a Massage Therapist. Even better yet, they take Tricare Prime and Tricare Standard! What's not to love?

Treehugger Organic Salon
13 Washington St, New London

SE CT Therapy and Wellness Center
303 Norwich New London Turnpike, Uncasville

Sunday, November 9, 2008

To and Fro

We have some great news. We're free! Free to roam and play that is....For the past two years we've been trying to overcome living in a three-story house thats on a hill while raising a child using a wheelchair. Comings and goings at our house has been difficult to say the least. In order to get to and from the car, we'd have to enter the road. And our little country road is very busy! So, our solution was to install a walkway from our porch to the driveway.

Sam really did a tremendous job, with the patient guidance and support of my dad. (Thanks, Dad, for the support to get this started!)But he also received some indispensable help from six really great guys from the various wards we've been associated with. I think he feels comforted that he can call each of them "friend" before he calls them "brother". (Thank you Brad, Miguel, Spencer, Joe, Chad and David for all the time you took away from your family and personal endeavors to assist our family.) Sam learned a lot from this project and I think he is very pleased with the outcome.

Come on by and take a walk down the path and invite Esra to come out and play.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Dealio

So, here's the dealio on why I took down all the posts on my first blog. Well, I was getting some very strong impressions to take my children's names and pictures off the internet. First, I should have know better when I chose a blog name with the word f-r-e-s-h in it. Silly Peggy!

Initially, I just tried changing everyones names to aliases. They were so cute, too. (I was Pearl, Esra was Ra-Ra, Estelle was L.L. and Sam was SuperGuy.) But even that change didn't feel adequate. Thanks to the Feedjit widget, I could see the search phrases that were bringing up the blog on engines. I didn't get good feelings when I saw search terms that were not looking for entries about sleep apnea and the cutest ankle-foot orthotics ever. These sites were from places in Africa and Europe. So, maybe it was just bad English. But, talk about icky feelings. I had to respond. And the only way I felt comfortable was to take down all of the content associated with the blog.

So, I chose a less nefarious title based on another lovely song, "Give, Said the Little Stream".

The verse goes, "I'm small I know, but wherever I go the fields grow greener still." Really sweet. And if some demento comes to this site looking for who-knows-what, I guess I should just give up the whole blogging thing. But I totally understand now when my friend Jessica does her own MS Word version of a blog that gets sent out through email just because she does not want her children names or likenesses on the internet. I completely admire her for blogging anyway.

Well, that's the dealio. On to dinner.


I've been doing a few things differently lately. Not a lot, but enough. (Didn't Albert Einstein say, " The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting the different results"?)

First, welcome all of my FC Readers. You are the best! Today is a new day and I'm glad you're here. Format and design kinks are still being worked out but its time to press forward. So, we're going a different direction by splitting the blog into two. But Wherever I Go (BWIG) will peak into the everyday life of my family, while FC will highlight people, events, writing, photography, art that encompasses the journey to find courage and keep it fresh.

Back to my topic...Sam was released from his calling in the Spanish-speaking congregation on Sunday. What a relief. I feel like the flood gates of creativity have burst open. Knowing that he will be home and available is helping keep my anxiety to a minimum and heightening my interest in doing other things beside waiting for him to come home. Still, I think medication is in my future. But it can wait just a bit longer.

First, I got a fantastic digital point and shoot from my mom for my birthday. So, I'm actually enjoying taking pictures again.
Here are some pictures from this week:
Sam is installing a pathway so we can get to the car without going onto the road. He is working with Miguel, a friend from the Hispanic ward, who is a very talented brickmason.
Esra spotted this carriage in the shed and loves for Estelle to push her around in it.
While Sam works outside, Estelle like to watch from the screen door.

Second, I signed up to sing in the Handel's Messiah. Three rehearsals (Nov 16, 23 and 30 from 4-6pm) and one performance (Nov 30 at 7:30pm). Its at the Noank Baptist Church. Come and sing with me!

Third, I test-played some violins and bows this week. My favorite was a John Cheng 1737 Guarneri Violin and a Guy Laurent Two Star Bow. It was so fun to try out new instruments. I was lucky to inherit my violin from my Grandma Peggy, but I've never chosen an instrument to fit me. I've played the same instrument since I was seven years old. As of tomorrow, that's 23 years people! Sam says he'll help me buy a new violin and bow when I'm ready. How exciting.

Fourth, I researched local violin teachers in the area. I found a teacher at Thames Valley Music School which is on campus of the college where Esra goes to school. The teacher's philosophy resonated with me. She supports playing an instrument for pleasure versus soloing, getting young children involved in the music of our lives and the ever-nagging back problems that come with a life-time of practicing.

Fifth, I'm performing a piece with a talented mom and pianist in church on Sunday.

I hope I don't make myself insane by adding all of these things, but I think we're going in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008