Thursday, February 4, 2016


Our sweet Clarissa turned seven today! Where has the time gone?! She has been SO excited for her birthday this year! I think she's been counting down since Christmas. Last weekend we had an early celebration and I took her and her best friend Sophia out for a girls day. We got mani/pedis, we went out to lunch and I took them to a pottery painting place and they painted owl piggy banks. We had such a great time! 

This morning she woke up bright and early to open presents. She got a new bike, and then it snowed last night, so it may be a bit before she can use it! She also got a new outfit and some more art supplies, which our house is now overflowing with. She loves art, so I just keep buying her more paints and markers and paper and crafty things. She loves stuff like that. 

She wore her new clothes to school and I curled her hair, which I only do for special occasions and she bounded out the door super excited to take birthday treats to her class. 

I try not to get all emotional on my kids birthdays, but I always do because they just grow up so darn fast. And I especially do on Clarissa's birthday because I can't help but think of her birth mother and what she must go though every year on this day. It's a celebration for us but probably a sad memory for her. I hope that she has found peace and I hope one day I can hug her and thank her. Clarissa is an amazing kid. 

So in honor of Clarissa's 7th birthday, here are seven things I love about her. I can think of about a hundred, but I'll keep it to seven. :) 

1. I love Clarissa's enthusiasm for life. She is so excited to do whatever we're doing. If I ask her if she wants to go to the grocery store with me, she jumps up and down like I invited her to Disneyland, lol. She doesn't care what we're doing, she just wants to be along for the adventure. 

2. I love how loving Clarissa is. She doesn't let anyone leave the house without giving them a hug. She loves to snuggle and she loves hugs. She gives the best hugs ever. 

3. I love that she and I share a love of books. I have been waiting my whole life to share my favorite books with my daughter, and we're finally reaching that point. I have so many things to show her!! 

4. I love how artistic Clarissa is. She is constantly drawing us pictures, painting, and creating things. When she runs out of stuff to paint, she gets extra creative. I noticed that yesterday she painted an empty toilet paper roll. When all else fails, she will also go find rocks in the backyard to paint.  I'm constantly buying her paper, but she goes through it so fast that she's always running out. But lack of supplies doesn't stop her creativity. She finds a way. 

5. I love how girly she is. That has been a constant source of amusement for me since we brought her home. I've always been somewhat of a tomboy, but Clarissa is all girl. She loves clothes, she loves jewelry and she loves anything pink and sparkly. She can put an outfit together better than I can. I love her spunky personality and how she lets it shine.

6. I love what a daddy's girl she is. She runs to greet him when he comes home from work and you can often find them in the kitchen together baking treats on Sunday afternoons. She is so cute with Shawn, she has him wrapped right around her little finger. She has really brought out something sweet in him. 

7. I love how funny Clarissa is. She has a great sense of humor and the best laugh. I love to get her giggling. She is such a happy kid, always in a good mood and always making us laugh. She is sunshine in our house. 

I could go on and on about all the great things about Clarissa. I especially like to share them on this blog because so many of you were here for our whole journey. Remember all those days we waited for her and I wondered what she'd be like? I love to look back on my blog and remember those days. She was loved and hoped for before she was even born. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to raise her and be her mom. I'm excited to watch her grow up, but hopefully not too fast. :) 

Here is a picture I took of her before she left for school this morning. I love her so much! Happy birthday, sweet girl! 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Math update

I'm now about a month into my math class and I'm here to report that maybe, just maybe, I don't hate math as much as I thought I did. This is a major life breakthrough for me! I never ever thought I would change my opinion of math.

When I was growing up, I struggled in every single math class I ever took. I don't really know why, I think I just got behind somewhere and never caught up. It was embarassing for me as a kid. I was SO bad at math. I just didn't get numbers. Give me any other subject and I'm fine, but put numbers in front of me and I panic. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. I barely passed algebra in high school and in fact, I think I flunked a semester of algebra II, so when I was a senior they realized that I was one math credit short of graduation so they put me in a super dumb business math class for people who needed a math credit and can't math. We basically learned how to balance a checkbook all semester, which even I can do, and the textbook had all the answers in it, so you basically couldn't fail. That is how I got through math in high school.

When I went to college the first time, back when I was 18, I was terrified of having to take a math class. I did a year of college and purposely didn't take math because I knew I wouldn't be able to pass it. But if I had gone back for my second year, I would have had no choice but to take it. I dropped out before that happened.

All through my adult years I have avoided math whenever possible. I can balance my checkbook and take care of our finances, but beyond that, I don't math. Fortunately I married someone who is awesome at math, so on the rare occasion I have to figure out something more complicated than addition and subtraction, I make him do it for me. I feel like my fear of numbers has been this big shameful secret my whole life. I panic whenever I have to figure out a math problem. I avoid it like the plague.

So when I decided to go back to college, I knew that math was going to be my biggest hurdle. I've looked over the classes I'm going to have to take and most of them look awesome, I'm actually really excited about school. But I knew math was going to be a major problem.

I signed up for this year long reintroduction to college program mostly because the school discounts my future tuition if I take it. If I jump through their hoops for a year, I can get a big discount on my bachelors degree, which is what is making going back to college finacially feasible for me. I didn't particularly want to do this program, but it felt like the only way to make college work for me, so I decided to just tolerate it.

But it turns out that it's the best thing I could have done. The classes we have to take this year we designed to reintroduce us to school, so they start out really basic. Last semester was a little bit too basic for me and I was a little bored, but this math class is the best thing that could have happened to me. It literally started us over with elementary school math. They teach this class like you've never taken a math class in your life. Which is basically where I feel like I'm at, to be honest. We started with addition, subtraction and times tables, like 3rd graders. It's moving along pretty quickly, but it's retreaching us everything. I've spend the last two weeks learning how to work with fractions. We added, subtracted, multiplied and divided them, we reduced them, we made story problems with them, we turned them into percentages, I FINALLY, for the first time in my life, completely understand fractions. I can pass a test on fractions like a champ. It's like a miracle.

And now we've moved on to exponents and order of operations. This morning I practiced solving multi-step problems. Matthew is home sick from school today and he had to come in and help me work through a few of them when I had a question (he just has a cold, I didn't drag him in here off his deathbed or anything) , but I GET it! And not only do I get it, I almost sort of like it!! I can sit down with a worksheet full of numbers now and not panic. Sometimes I'm a little slow still, but I can actually do it! And not only that, but I'm sort of excited to see what we get to do next. Now that I get it, I want to learn more. I figured that the most I could hope for was to simply tolerate this class. I hoped I could at least pass it and just get it over with so I could move on. I didn't think there was any chance that I would actually enjoy it. But the more it goes on, the more I have to admit, I almost sort of like it! I like math? How is that possible?!

Because I have spent my entire life feeling like my fear of math was a big embarassing secret, finally learning how to do it and getting over that is a gigantic relief. You have no idea how great it feels to be doing this and actually understanding it. I realize that I'm literally bragging about knowing how to do middle school math, and I know that sounds completely ridiculous, because I'm only doing somthing that I should have already known how to do anyway, but I couldn't do it before and now I can and that is huge for me. I was convinced my entire life that I couldn't learn math and at 40 years old I have proven to myself that I can.

As far as I understand at this point, this is the only math class I will have to take to get my associates degree and for my bachelors degree the only math class I have seen on the list is a social statistics class that actually sounds sort of interesting. So I don't think I have to take much math past this class. But I am really grateful to this class for giving me the opportunity to start over and finally learn basic math. I'm confident now that by the end of this semester even algebra won't be scary to me anymore. I don't have to spend the rest of my life embarassed and avoiding math. I can actually DO it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quick update

Two weeks into my diet and I've lost 7 pounds.
Three weeks into my math class and I've aced all the quizzes and I'm now fairly confident that I could pass a middle school math class. Seventh grade, at least!
Almost four weeks into January and I'm actually not curled up in a corner waiting for the sun to come out.

So far I'm kicking 2016's butt. Go Wendy. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The accidental pants

This is the story of how I accidentally bought pants and went on a walk, lol.

I went to Target last night. On my fitness kick I'm trying to get more steps in so Shawn and I went to Target and wandered around for a bit. While we were shopping I stopped to buy some yoga capris because I like to wear them around the house during the day. They're comfortable and I feel like I'm in my jammies, but I look like there is a possibility that I was exercising if someone comes to the door, lol.

So at Target I grabbed what I thought were black yoga Capri pants, but somehow I don't know if grabbed the wrong ones, or what, but that's not what I came home with. When I got home and pulled them out of the bag I realized that what I really bought was stretchy black legging running pants. Like  yoga pants, but sleek looking leggings with little reflective patches on the side so people can see you if you're jogging at night. They have zippers on the ankle and a zippered pocket in the back to hold your keys while you run. They look like serious exercise pants for people who do serious exercise.  I don't own pants like that. I don't really need pants like that. I walk on my dumb treadmill in my basement in my yoga capris that are only one step up from exercising in my pajamas.

But I put the new pants on to see what they felt like and suddenly I felt...exercise-y. Like I put the pants on and suddenly I looked like someone who might go running. I'm not gonna, but I looked like I might, lol.

This morning I had to walk Clarissa to the bus stop. I decided to put on my new exercise-y pants. And because I forgot to leave my fancy walking shoes in the basement by the treadmill the other day, they were in my bedroom and I put those on too. I looked like I was ready for some exercise.

So I walked Clarissa to the bus stop and got her off to school and I walked back home and as I was walking and feeling all exercise-y in my new exercise-y pants and my walking shoes, I figured, what the heck, maybe I should take a walk around the neighborhood. So I grabbed my phone, found a podcast that looked interesting, stuck in my headphones and went for a walk. I walked for a half hour, listening to the podcast, enjoying the neighborhood, getting some fresh air and it was a million times better than my crappy treadmill in the basement.

I came home feeling awesome! It turns out that some fresh air and a long walk was just what I needed.

So I'm keeping the accidental pants and I think I'm going to start going for a nice walk in the mornings instead of fighting the treadmill. Me and my accidental pants are going on an adventure together. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Out of shape

I'm making big life changes right now. Losing weight, getting in shape and learning math is kind of kicking my butt right now.

Yesterday I spent the entire day learning math. I sat down at 9am to do my assignment and take a quiz and at 3 in the afternoon I was still at it. My kids were off school yesterday, so at one point I had Matthew in here tutoring me. He's 12.  You guys. I make it sound like I'm learning string theory over here for how hard I'm struggling with this, but it's literally middle school math. Yesterday Matthew tutored me on decimals, fractions, percentages and negative numbers. He's in 7th grade and he's super good at this stuff. But I was bad at it in 7th grade and I have avoided doing math of any sort for pretty much my entire adult life, so my brain is out of shape when it comes to numbers. It took me all afternoon yesterday to grasp converting a fraction into a decimal. I'm embarrassed to admit how much I struggle with even simple math.

I did eventually get it and I got a 100% on my weekly quiz, but it was not without struggle. I was mentally exhausted by the end of the day. I feel like I'm revisiting a lot of long repressed issues with math. I really stuggled with math as a kid. I never took a single math class growing up that wasn't extremely hard for me. And I had kind of forgotten what a struggle that was for me because it was so long ago, but being back in a math class is kind of bringing it all back. My brain just does not process numbers. I don't get math. I'm determined to do whatever I have to do to get through this class, but I'm hoping and praying that this is the last math class I have to take, because it's ridiculous how much of a struggle it is for me. I feel like a fairly intelligent person most of the time, but taking this math class is certainly knocking me down a few pegs, lol.

I'll get there. My family is supportive and I'm determined to learn, so one way or another I'll get though it. The best part of this is watching me kids be my cheerleader for the first time. I'm kind of a strict parent when it comes to school and we have high expectations of our kids. They're expected to work hard and I'm always there giving them pep talks and cheering them on. It was kind of funny yesterday when I was struggling and Josh sat down with me and talked me though it, exactly the same way that I have with him so many times. He reminded me that it's OK not to be perfect but that it's important to try your best. How many times have I said that to my kids? About a million. I kind of loved that he was putting it back on me. Knowing that it was time to practice what I preach helped me to keep going when I wanted to just drop the whole thing in the nearest trash can. It is OK not to be perfect, but I'm going to try my best.

So while I'm working out my out of shape brain, I'm also working on my body. We're about a week into the diet and things are going good. I've already lost five pounds and I'm back on the treadmill. I hate the treadmill. I would rather do just about anything (well, besides math) than get on that stupid thing. But I also want to be strong and healthy and right now that's what I have to do. Once it gets warmer I hope to get back out on my bike, but for now the treadmill is the best option. I always have to remind myself that I hate it when I'm doing it but I feel SO great when I'm done. I feel strong and accomplished and happy, and I like feeling that way. The fact that it's the middle of January when I would normally be curled up with a book waiting for the sun to come back out and instead I'm exercising and fighting my way through a math class makes me feel proud and accomplished. None of this is easy for me. Frankly, it's kind of embarassing how hard it is. But I'm doing it and I feel good. I mean, I hate it most of the time, but I feel accomplished. I feel strong and brave and capable, even though basically all I've managed to accomplish is pass a quiz on fractions and lose five pounds, lol. But those things are hard for me and I'm pushing through it. And I'm proud of me.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Here we go again.

So, I'm on a health kick. Go ahead, I'll wait while you laugh. :)

Shawn's work is taking part in a city wide weight loss challenge that is sponsored by a hospital here. They put a team together and Shawn texted me from work a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to be on their team. Do I WANT to? No, not particularly. Do I NEED to. Yes. So I'm doing it.

So basically people form teams and they go get officially weighed in at one of the participating businesses around town and then for the next five months we diet and exercises and we have to go weigh in again once a month and the team that loses the most weight by the first part of June wins money. And in the meantime they're offering free weeks at different gyms, free fitness classes, free nutrition classes and a bunch of other fun little incentives to keep the progress moving.

So we went last night and did our first weigh in. Ugh. That's all I have to say about that. Remember when I started riding my bike and running and I lost all that weight and I was so happy and then I crashed and burned? I'm still mad at myself for giving that up, and I dread starting over. I've tried to start over a few times and I just couldn't make a it stick.

But life has given me another opportunity to start over, so here I am. Will I be successful? I have no idea. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm super gung ho and ready to tackle this, but I am willing to give it a try. Just like going back to school, I'm going to take it one day at a time and do my best.

But one thing that is giving me motivation is a trip Shawn and I may be taking in June. Josh has his two big trips coming up. He's doing an American history tour of the East Coast at the beginning of June, and that trip ends in Washington DC and his France trip starts in DC four days later. So Shawn and I have been kicking around the idea of flying to DC to spend those four days with him and then getting him off on his France trip and then going to NYC for a few days. Shawn has never been do New York City and would love to see it and I have talked to my mentor (who lives in NYC) about the possibility of us meeting up for dinner while we're there, which I'm really excited about!

So we're tentitively planning a trip for June, which is right when this fitness challenge ends. It would kind of be a fun incentive for us to work really hard on diet and exercise for the next five months and then reward ourselves with a fun vacation. I'm still trying to decide if I can justify the expense when we have college tuition to pay for and some other things coming up this year, but I think it would be a fun adventure for us so I'm trying to budget and figure out the logistics and see if I can make it work. We would fly into DC, spend four days there with Josh, get him dropped off with his France group, take the train or the bus to NYC, spend a few days there and then fly home from there. I've been pricing flights and hotels and trying to figure it all out. I'm pretty sure it's going to happen, but I'm still researching it. It would be a fun weight loss incentive, and it would also be right before our 19th wedding anniversary, so it would be a fun little anniversary trip.

So that's what I'm working on right now. This is a terrible time for me to start my fitness goals, because it's January, and if you have followed my blog you know how much I hate January! We've reached the really bleak part of winter. It's cold, it's dark and it's grey. Trying to motivate myself to jump on the treadmill and eat right when I really just want to stay in bed and eat comfort food is a struggle for me. This would be easier if I was starting in the spring when the sun comes out and I'm a little more lively, but I'm going to give this a try. It helps that Shawn and I are doing it together. I texted him from the treadmill this morning and he cheered me on. Today has been a good diet and exercise day. I will strive for the same tomorrow.

So right now I'm taking a math class, I'm on a diet, I'm back on the treadmill and it's January. It's like the perfect storm of suckage, lol. That's pretty much a list of all the things I hate, all at once. But I'm hanging in there! I'm taking life one day at a time and I'll do my best. If I stick with it, things will be looking pretty good in a few months. I'll get there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I would like to make an announcement...

...I just got 100% on my first math quiz. Go ahead, I'll wait while you all cheer for me. Lol

So I'm taking math this semester. I. Hate. Math. Hate it. I've hated it since I was a kid. I'm a reasonably intelligent person in every other area, but my brain just does not process numbers. I've struggled with every math class I've ever taken, and one of my biggest fears about going back to college was having to take math. I avoid math like the plague. I break out in a cold sweat if I have to figure out a tip at my hairdresser without a calculator. My brain doesn't like numbers. Like, literally I'm more terrified of taking this beginning math class than I am of writing a masters thesis. I will happily go to grad school, just don't make me take algebra.

This math class I'm taking is a reintroduction to math. Probably the easiest college math class you will ever find anywhere. Literally, our first assignment of the semester was a refresher on times tables. By the end of the semester we'll be doing algebra, but we're working up to that. So...yeah. It's not like I signed myself up for calculus.

But still, I have been dreading this math class. I wake up every morning this semester and my first through is "Crap. I have to do math today." From now until April I'm just going to be one big ball of math anxiety.

But I'm brave and I can do this, so I have enlisted my kids to tutor me, because fortunately they inherited Shawn's math brain and they actually love math. The whole family is all about helping mom pass a math class right now.

This morning I had to take a quiz. And you would laugh if you saw this quiz because it was ridiculously easy. But it's still numbers and numbers are not easy for me. Even easy math isn't easy for me. So I watched the video of the instructor explain it and I did the practice questions and I worked really hard on it all morning. And I took the quiz....and I got 100%! And I'm not going to lie, I cried. I mathed! All by myself! I'm not sure if I've ever gotten 100% on any math quiz ever in my life.

I texted Shawn at work to announce that I passed a math quiz. I'm making a blog post about how I passed a math quiz. Is it a thing to send out a press release about how I passed a math quiz?!

I passed a math quiz. I ACED a math quiz. Sure, it was barely middle school math and I should probably be embarrassed to even admit that I'm this proud of acing a quiz that any 12 year old in America could probably do in their sleep, but math is hard for me and I have spent my whole life convinced that I can't do it. And for this one week, this one day, I did it. And next week I'm going to work hard again and maybe I'll ace another one. I might actually make it through a math class without a nervous breakdown, lol.

I aced a math quiz. Go Wendy. :)