Monday, April 30, 2018

Clarissa

I’m terrible about updating, so instead I’m sharing a recent photo of Clarissa. I love this beautiful girl!

Untitled

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Long time no blog

My poor abandoned blog. Life has gotten away from me in the past year and blogging just hasn’t been a priority. I miss it. I loved having this outlet to write down my thoughts and I love all the people who followed along with me.

So for those of you who still check in, here’s an update.

I’m now a senior in college! A few years ago the idea of going back to college seemed terrifying and impossible. And I’ll be honest, some days it still feels terrifying and impossible, lol. But I’m rocking it! I took 41 credits last year, and I have gotten an A in every single class I’ve taken since I went back to college. I’ve never been a straight student in my entire life. If I had realized how good it feels, maybe I would have tried a little harder in high school, lol. I’m working my behind off, and it’s hard and it’s stressful, and there are so many days that I want to quit, but I’ve also never been more proud of myself in my whole life. I’m doing the thing I always dreamed of doing.

I’ve been taking a heavy full time class load for the past year and a half or so, but now that I’m doing to my last few classes, I’m slowing it down this year. I’ve hit the really heavy senior level classes and they are kicking my behind. And I’m also working and juggling three kids with very busy schedules, so I decided it was best to take these last classes a little slower. So I’m only taking two classes right now, but they’re both hugely time consuming and stressful. I’m taking a psychology research methods class and we’re actually working on writing a research proposal all semester. It’s fun and hard and stressful and interesting and complicated all at the same time. I had to write a huge section of it yesterday and last night as I was reviewing it,  I had a moment of “I WROTE that?!”. I’m doing things I never thought I could do. Two years ago even reading a research proposal would felt over my head. Now I’m writing one.

So I’m going to drag my last classes out over the rest of this year, and then I’m planning to start grad school next fall. I can’t believe I’m even talking about grad school. I’m nervous and excited!!

I’m also still working a few hours a day at two different high schools and I love my job!! I love working with teenagers. This job has taught me that I think I’d really like to focus on tenagers when I start looking for a therapist job after I graduate. I don’t know exactly what direction my future career will take yet, but this job is helping me to see where my skills are, and I’m grateful for that.

One thing keeping me busy lately has been helping Josh with college applications. He graduates in a couple of months. I think I’m still in denial. When I started this blog, he was eight! Now he’s getting ready to pack up and leave home soon. He’s doing amazing, it would take me all day to list all the awesome things he’s been doing. He’s the senior class president, president of the National History Day Club, he’s headed to state for Academic Decathalon in a few weeks, he’s in the National Honor Society, he was selected this year as a student ambassador for the National WWII museum...the list goes on. He has been giving community presentations on honoring or veterans, and was on a local news program a few weeks ago talking about the student Ambassador program he’s involved with. On Monday he’s going to be the guest speaker at the state Capitol and will be speaking in front of the governor. He also just found out that he won the Billy Michal leadership award from the National WWII museum, and they’re flying us to New Orleans in June for the awards ceremony. I’m so proud of that kid.

So he’s been applying to college, and it’s been a long process. He’s been accepted to every college he has applied to, but he’s likely going to go where the money is. Scholarships are coming in, and it looks like Utah State is probably going to be the winner. He’s already got scholarships from Utah State, but we’re waiting to hear on a great big one that will send him full ride for four years. You just can’t beat free college. If he gets it, and his chances are good, I think that will seal the deal for Utah State. I’m having a really hard time with this whole leaving home thing. I’m trying not to think about it too much.

In a few weeks we’re taking him on a graduation trip to New York City, which we’re really excited about. He has wanted to go for years and this will be a fun opportunity to spend a week with him, making some memories before he heads off to college. I’m also excited because I’m finally going to be meeeting my college mentor in person, which we have been trying to make happen for a while! That’s going to be a big deal for me, so I’m looking forward to that.

In Matthew news, he’s still playing the piano, and he’s amazing! I could listen to him play all day. He’s started high school this year at the same school Josh is at, so that’s been really fun for them. He’s the freshman class president this year and is getting ready to campaign for sophomore president in the spring. He’s also in Academic Decathalon, and he and Josh have been working in a National History Project documentary together. If it wins, they’ll be headed to Washington DC together this summer. Josh had made it to nationals the last two years in a row and he’s really hoping that they make it together this year.

In Clarissa news, can you believe she’s NINE?! Time has flown by way too quickly. She’s doing amazing. I still feel so lucky to be her mom. She’s sweet and creative and artistic and funny and awesome. She loves to create things. Anything artistic or creative is her happy place. She loves to draw, she likes to decorate things, she loves clothes. She tells me that she wants to be an artist or a baker or a clothing designer when she grows up. I love watching her talents develop. She’s such a sweet, loving, easy going kid. She’s a joy to raise. She’s a constant ray of sunshine in our house. Whenever any one is sad, she’s there with a hug. I love that kid so much. I love looking back on our adoption journey. It turned out better than I could have even imagined. I’m grateful for her every day.   Her big project right now is memorizing her times tables. She struggles a bit in math, so it’s our family project to help her pass off all her times tables at school. She’s on 7’s now, and when she passes off her 12’s we’e going to take her to get her ears pierced to celebrate. She REALLY wants her ears pierced, so that’s motivating her to keep working on it!

In the midst of all this craziness with school and my job and the kids, we’re also in the middle of a kitchen remodel. We had a water leak last year and insurance is replacing the floors. We thought we’d just put in new flooring and call it good, but we couldn’t find flooring that matched the cabinets, and we really don’t even like the cabinets, so we didn’t want to match flooring to cabinets we don’t like. So that led to painting the cabinets, which led to needing new appliances, which started a whole change reaction, and long story short, we’re remodeling the kitchen. So my house is currently torn up and it’s chaos around here right now, but I’m starting to see a light at the end of tunnel. We’re getting close to being done, and it’s looking amazing. I’ll try to remember to come back and post before and afters when we finish. There are a bunch of random photos I’d like to share to catch up my blog, so I’ll try to get back and do that.

So there’s our update! Life is insanely busy right now and school is kicking my behind, but I’m doing awesome, Shawn and the kids are great and life is good around here. I’ll try to come back with an update in photos soon!




Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mi Vida Loca

You guys. I’m tired.

First of all, the job is going great. Having to go to work everyday is a gigantic life change, and trying to juggle it with school is making my life extremely complicated, but the job is awesome!

I work at two different schools with three different teachers in four different classes, and the program is new to the district, so right now it’s a LOT of chaos while everyone figures out how this program is supposed to work. Each teacher does it slightly differently and each class has a slightly different dynamic, so I’ve had to adjust to a lot of things all at once. It’s still kind of stressful for everyone while we figure all of this out. But overall, the job is awesome! I get to sit in a classroom with teenagers and brainstorm their problems. That’s kind of the thing I’m the very best at. Unlike a lot of people, I actually love teenagers. I like their sassiness, I like their energy, I even like it when they sit there and roll their eyes at me, because that means I get to work on getting through to them, and I like that!

My job consists of working in small groups of kids and they take turns presenting a problem that they have come across in another class, it could be a math problem they got wrong on a test, a science concept they’re stuck on, it doesn’t matter, they bring a problem and then we work as a group to help them work through it. Not by showing them how to get the answer, but by asking them a series of questions to help them figure it out themselves. Things like “what do you already know about the problem.” “What resources do you have with you that might help you solve the problem?” (ie, did you bring your math book or your science notes?) or “based on what you already know, what do you think your next step is?”. We basically help them brainstorm problem solving techniques until they can find a way to solve their own problem. This program is designed to target the kids who give up easily. Kids who don’t have a lot of resources and might drop out without intervention. This program gives them the skills and confidence to keep going when they want to give up. The goal is to get them to learn to problem solve on their own, to get in the habit of seeking out resources when they have a problem instead of giving up and to learn critical thinking skills that will get them through high school and hopefully on to college.

So it’s really fun because the problems are constantly changing. We walk someone through working out a math problem and then we might immediately switch to helping someone figure out a method for memorizing Spanish verb conjugation. You never know what’s coming next! It’s fun in that way. The kids are always hesitant at first, but then they get really into it. Watching someone who is convinced that they don’t know the answer have a lightbulb moment and realize that they actually CAN figure it out is the best thing.

The other day I had a kid who just wasn’t able to figure out a problem, but he kept referencing what his teacher had said about it. So I said “ok, so explain it to me exactly the way the teacher explained it to you.” And 30 seconds into his explaination the lightbulb went on and it just clicked. He realized knew the answer, he just needed to talk it all out. I love it.

So the job is great and it’s the perfect job for me right now. However, trying to fit it into my already crazy life has been hard. It’s taking away a lot of my study time, so I end up putting a lot of stuff off and then cramming it all in when I have time, and that’s really hard. My Saturdays are now packed  with homework.

The great thing about working for the school though is that if the kids aren’t there, I don’t have to be there. So any teacher work days, snow days, holidays, etc, I get the day off. There tends to be several of those throughout the year, so that will help. I get thanksgiving week off, a long Christmas vacation, etc. School jobs are awesome in that way. So I look forward to those days. I will get some breaks to help lighten the load a bit. I know that tons of people work and go to school and raise kids. It’s just new for me. I’ll adjust.

And to add more craziness to my life, I recently signed up to foster kittens for a local cat shelter. I currently have three of the cutest four week old kittens living in my basement. It’s kind of like having a house full of toddlers, and I really don’t know why I’m taking it on in the middle of everything else, but kittens are cute and I couldn’t say no. It’s extra work, but I get to cuddle with kittens, and that’s kind of my happy place.

So things are good. Crazy, busy, insane and I think I might drown, but you know...it’s fine, lol. It’s good stuff, just a lot of it. I’ll survive. :)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

I got a job!

On another edition of “can my life get any crazier?” I now have a job!

So part of my college experience has been putting together a LinkedIn profile and starting to gather stuff for grad school applications. And what I have discovered during this process is that I have NOTHING. I haven’t worked in 17 years. I have no experience, no professional contacts, pretty much  nothing.

So I’ve been going to my mentor in a panic and he reassured me that it’s fine but has encouraged me to find something to put on a resume. I’ve been thinking about doing volunteer work or something, but I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to even look.

Then a few weeks ago I stumbled across a listing for a job with the school district. I wasn’t really looking for a job, but this one caught my eye because it sounds exactly like something I would love to do. They’re starting a program in our district for high schoolers who would be a good fit for college in theory, but aren’t currently doing well in school for one reason or another. They identify those kids and offer them an elective to help them get on track for college. The class has a teacher, but they were looking for someone to be kind of a mentor for the program. To work with the kids, encourage them, help them in the classroom and facilitate group activities. The job listing said it was part time, two days a week, which would work perfect with my schooling.

This is right up my alley and exactly the kind of thing I’m good at. I love working with teenagers, and there’s no one who understands struggling to get on track for college better than me! Being the mother of teenagers, a college student myself, and working towards a counseling degree, this job was perfect for me. So on a whim, I applied. I haven’t applied for a job in 20 years, and to be honest I didn’t think I was going to get it. Every stay at home mom in the city wants a part time job with the school district. I assumed they’d probably get a hundred appplications, mine would get lost in the shuffle and I’d never hear anything about it. My application was almost embarrassing, because there was no job history on it or anything. I didn’t even submit a resume with it, because my resume is basically blank at this point. But I did really play up my schooling, because what I’ve been learning in school right is right on point with this job. I’m a great candidate in that way.

A week went by and I didn’t hear anything, so I kind of forgot about it, and then I got a really bad cold and was miserably sick in bed for a few days. Then, in the midst of my cold medicine induced haze, I got the call that they wanted me to come in for an interview, and to submit a resume. I was really sick, but not going to pass that up, so I agreed. I spend a frantic day putting together a resume. I shoehorned any possible relevant information on it and emailed it off.

The next day I drug myself out of bed, got dressed up and headed off for the interview. I was still getting over a cold, and I had that cold medciney head in the clouds feeling, but I was so determined to pull it together. I walked in there and it was a panel of three people. Two vice principles and the coordinator of the program. I haven’t had a job interview in so long, and I’m so not good at this. It was scary!

But they started firing questions at me, and it was actually really funny, because it turns out that school has totally prepared me for this. I answer essay questions for school all day long. I have answered a billion questions about child development, socialization in schools, community intervention and every other related topic over the past year. They started asking me questions about motivating teenagers and college related stuff, and my school training just took over. I knew stuff I didn’t even remember I knew, lol. Thank you college! I felt like it went really well.

And apparently so did they because they called me the next day and offered me the job! But here’s the problem. It’s not two days a week like the job listing said. It’s every day for a few hours in the afternoon. That’s tricky for me because of school. I do homework all day while my kids are in school. That’s precious study time for me. And now I’m going to lose a good portion of that time every day. I’ll be honest, I’m still not totally sure how I’m going to pull it off, but I’m going to make it work. Plenty of people work and go to school. It’s just new for me. This job is perfect for me, it will help so much with grad school applications, and the little bit of extra money will really be nice. I’m just going to do it and make it work somehow. Life is about to get a little crazy.

So...now I have a job! I start in a week. I haven’t had to go to a job everyday for almost two decades, so this feels really weird. I need to go shopping for work clothes, because I live in yoga pants and I have no idea how to dress professionally for a job. But I’m really excited about this! This is probably the first job in my entire life that I’ve ever actually wanted and had specific skills for. I’ve had plenty of jobs in my life pre-kids, but they were all just random entry level jobs I took because I needed money. This is the first time I feel like I’m actually going to do something that I’m good at, trained for and genuinely enthusiastic about. That feels really good. I genuinely want to help motivate kids and help them get on track for college. If there is anyone who understands the significance of a college education, it’s me. And while this job isn’t counseling, it’s somewhere in the realm. It’s the opportunity to help people, and that’s what my goal has been all along.

So that’s what’s new with me! Life is about to change in a big way, and I’m nervous and excited! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I'm back!

I appreciate everyone who posted on my last post and said they were still reading. I hate that I've abandoned my blog. I love having the history of my family written down, I'm just having a hard time getting here to do it.

So here's what's going on with us lately. Clarissa is doing amazing! This summer we had a friend come back from living in Korea and she offered to teach Clarissa some Korean over the summer. She was so great with Clarissa, giving her lessons about Korean culture, teaching her the Korean alphabet and some Korean words. Clarissa really loved it! Then at the end of the summer our friend moved to go to college and Clarissa lost her teacher. There is a very small Korean community here, so finding another Korean teacher seemed impossible. But then an opportunity fell in our laps! We found a Korean organization starting up Korean classes! Three hours a week Clarissa goes there and learns the language and the culture. It's taught by Koreans and there are other Korean kids in the class. This is such an awesome opportunity for her! She's so excited about it.

Clarissa is in third grade now (can you believe it?!!) and she's loving school! She such a happy, easy going kid. She loves art, she likes to read, and she's obsesssed with clothes, so she's so fun to shop with! She's doing awesome, everything is great with her.

In Matthew news, he just started high school! He's going to the same honors high school that Josh goes to, so they enjoy being in school together for the first time since elementary school. Josh is a senior this year and ran for senior class president last year and won, so he has talked Matthew into running for freshman president so they can hopefully do student council together. So he's been campaigning all week and we find out tomorrow if he won. It's been an exiting week! Matthew is also still playing the piano, and he's SO good now! He's working on a version of Bohemian Rhapsody for his upcoming piano recital and it sounds amazing. I'm loving it. He's doing great, everything is going well in Matthew's life.

In Josh's world, things are crazy busy! He's a senior this year and he's in about a million clubs and activities. He also works at Shawn's pharmacy after school, so between all of those things, I feel like I hardly ever see him anymore. I know that this is the way things go with kids, they become more and more independent until they finally leave home. But I'm not going to lie, it's been hard for me! Josh and I are really close and knowing that this is his last year home before he goes out in the world has been kind of tough for me. He's doing awesome and I have no doubt he's going to go out in the world and do amazing things, but I'm going to really miss him. I'm trying to soak up as much as I can this last year before he goes. He's doing a dual enrollment program where he's taking college courses at his high school and he's on track to graduate with over 70 college credits! So he'll graduate from college with his associates degree at the same time he graduates from high school in the spring. Right now we're getting ready to start college applications and wherever he gets accepted, he'll be going in as a junior. This has been a great start for him and he's really looking forward to what's next. He plans to major in something math related, probably applied math, and work towards becoming an actuary. Big things are in store for that kid!

Shawn is doing great, work is just super busy for him. Managing a very large, busy pharmacy is a challenge at times, but he loves his job and is great at it. So he's stressed, but things are good.

As for me, I'm still plugging along with college! I started a new semester this week. I'm not going to lie, I'm a little (lot) stressed. I took classes over the summer, so I really haven't had much of a break all year. I'm trying to get through school as quickly as possible, so I'm just cramming classes in as much as I can. It's a lot. I'm liking what I'm learning, it's just...a lot. The first week is always the worst. Getting used to new rules, new books, new assignments, new teachers. It always takes me a bit to adjust. But I'm doing great, I'm getting straight A's every semester, so things are looking good. I have about a year and a half left before I graduate, and I'm already looking at grad school. Going back to school has been a life changing experience for me. Stressful, which explains my lack of blogging, but it's been good. I know I'm headed down the right path and I feel good about how things are going. I'll just be really really glad to be done someday!!

In random news, our garbage disposal broke a few weeks ago and ruined our hardwood floors, so we're currently working with the insurance company to sort that out. That's a mess. Right now I'm also working on planning a trip to NYC in the spring with Josh. I promised him a senior trip and I'm working my hardest to make that happen in the middle of the rest of the craziness. While I'm in NYC I'm also going to finally meet my college mentor in person, which I'm excited about! We have big things coming up! Now if I can just find time in my crazy busy life to make them all work! Life is crazy but always exciting! :)

Here's a family photo I took on a recent getaway to the mountains!

FamilyFall2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Update

I'm not even sure if anyone is reading my blog anymore. I know I've kind of dropped the ball on it. Life got crazy.

But I wanted to update you on something important, although I apologize that it will be a little vague and short. We have been communicating with our adoption agency recently and we have had the opportunity to open Clarissa's adoption. Her birth family contacted the Korean agency a couple of months ago and requested contact and we have agreed. As much as you all know that I'm long winded and can't give a short explaination about anything, this one will be short, because I'm tying to protect the privacy of everyone involved. 

Basically, due to some complicated circumstances (that are all fine and good, just complicated), I am communicating with Clarissa's birth aunt, not her birth mother. The agency has decided that this is an acceptable situation, and we have agreed, so they have backed out of it and I am communicating directly by email with Clarissa's aunt, who speaks English. We have received a few photos of her birth mother and we are slowly getting to know each other. 

Right now it's pretty much just me and the aunt in email, and it will remain that way for the time being. Clarissa knows, her birth mother knows, but right now it's just me and the aunt having some conversations and getting to know each other. 

It's a sensitive situation for all involved and opening an adoption 8 years in comes with some adjustment, but I'm grateful for this opportunity, and we are starting very slow and seeing where it goes. I will probably not mention much more about it, because at this point, it's Clarissa's story to tell, not mine, and it's important to me to protect her privacy. 

I will say that this is extremely rare are hardly ever happens. The official situation in Korean adoptions is that they're all closed until the child turns 18, at which time, if they choose, the agency will open their files and help them try to contact the birth parents, but more often than not it's unsuccessful. Having an option Korean adoption while the child is still young is pretty rare, and is basically just handled on a case by case basis when it comes up. So here we are. 

I could go on for pages about this to be honest, and I'm holding myself back from saying all the things I really want to say because I really do want to maintain everyone's privacy and this just doesn't feel like something to share publicly. But needless to say, there are lots of emotions happening, some questions have been answered and we're all still getting used to this new development. I'm grateful for this opportunity. I have always said that one day I wanted to hug the woman who gave my child life and tell her thank you, and now I know that there is a possibility of that actually happening. An in-person meeting is likely eventually, but not for a while. But we're all open to it when Clarissa is older and decides she's ready. 

Until then, we are getting to know each other and we're grateful for the things we've learned and the connections we've made. I have always said that adotion is both beautiful and heartbreaking, and both of those things have never been more true to me than the are right now. It's been an emotional few weeks.

So there is that story. I'm sorry it's vague. Maybe some day Clarissa will want to tell the story in her own words. But for now, I'm just feeling really grateful for all the love she has in her life. She is loved by a birth family, by a foster family, and is so loved by our family. There's no bigger blessing in life than the love of family. 

Here are some photos I took of her yesterday. I love this girl with all my heart. 

Disney

clarissa1


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Victory!

It's a big day at our house for two reasons.

First of all, Josh ran for senior class president last week and found out today that he won! I still can't believe he's going to be a senior next year, but if it's happening, I'm really excited that he gets to be the president!  Big things are happening for that kid!

The second piece of news that happened today is that I got my Associate degree in the mail!!! I have a college degree!!! I'm currently working on my bachelors, so I technically don't really need my associates, but I realized recently that I had met the requirements for it so I decided to go ahead and apply for it. It won't do much for me, it's more of a personal milestone. I have lived the past twenty something years feeling bad about myself that I never got a college degree, and the more years passed by, the more certain I was that it was never going to happen. But today I took that diploma out of the envelope and held it in my hands. I officially have a college degree. Granted, a little one that won't do much for me professionally, but it's a huge milestone in my life that for a long time I thought I'd never reach. So I'm feeling pretty great today. It's a little stepping stone on the way to bigger things. It's a reminder to me that I'm getting somewhere and that I can really do this. I'm proud of me.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we haven't heard anything from Clarissa's birth mother yet. I'll keep you posted.

I'll be back later with more stuff, but I wanted to make sure I documented our exciting day! :)