Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pictures!

To make up for my lack of blog posts lately, here are some pictures from today.

Today is Clarissa's foster mothers birthday. I have made sure to keep in touch with her over the years. She really struggled after Clarissa left them and it means a lot to her to get photos and updates. She doesn't speak English, so I mostly just send her photos so she can see Clarissa as she grows.

Today for her birthday I decided to write her a little note in Korean and have Clarissa hold it up in a photo. Which is somewhat tricky, since I don't speak Korean, but I do know how to Google Korean words, so we did our best. :)

The phrase Happy Birthday is actually kind of long writen out because you have to add an extra word on the end to make it formal when speaking to someone older than you, and I knew that Clarissa would never be able to make all those Korean characters. So I just had her write the word birthday. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what it says, lol. I showed her how to write the characters and she copied them and did a good job! Then she drew some pictures to decorate it.

Then I decided to go for it and I wrote out the whole phrase. It's hard when you're not used to writing in Korean! I always have a fear when I do things like this that I'm going to make the wrong character or something and change it to a whole different word. Like I think I'm saying happy birthday but it really says stinky socks or something, lol. I have no idea what I'm doing.

Clarissa calls her foster mother "Hanguk Omma", which translates basically to "Korea Mom". When she was living with her foster parents, her foster mother taught her to say Omma, which is mom, and that's what she called her foster mother. But when we went to Korea get her, everyone kept calling me Omma, since I was her new mom, and I could tell that it kind of hurt her foster mothers feelings a bit. So in the very limited Korean I know, I pointed to her and said "Hanguk Omma!" and her face lit up. She liked that and we've called her that ever since. A kid can't have too many moms in their lives.

Anyway, I tell you this story to tell you that I'm pretty sure what I wrote across the bottom says "Happy Birthday Hanguk Omma". If it doesn't, I'm sure she'll at least appreciate the attempt. :)




Also, this evening we carved pumpkins. Much fun was had by all.








Come back tomorrow for Halloween photos! Josh is having a party here tomorrow night. A house full of teenagers. Scary! :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkins and headaches

I've been meaning to make a blog post for weeks now. In fact, I have sat down and started blog posts several times and then I get interrupted or realize I'm rambling aimlessly and abandon it.

But here I am, making a blog post, and I'm determined to see this one through.

We've been extremely busy lately, but not doing anything terribly exciting. The kids have been really busy with school lately.

Now that Josh is in high school I I feel like I'm seeing less of him and when he is home he's completely swamped with studying and homework. He knew that this excellerated high school program was going to be intense but I think it has still surprised him how much work it actually is. Gone are the days of easy A's. He's working his behind off to maintain good grades now. Hes doing great and he's up to the challenge, but it's definitely a challenge. And in between all the school stuff, he's on the academic decathalon team, he's taking a hand to hand combat class once a week after school, going to the gym in the mornings at 5:30, working on his Eagle Scout requirements and participating in his church youth group. Oh, and dog sitting for the neighbors while they're off on their travels. I don't know how he does it all, but he has kept up with it and it doing well. He's also planning a Halloween party at our house for halloween night. He can handle all the academics but I don't want him to spend so much time working that he forgets to have a fun teenage social life, so I decided to have a party. He's inviting friends over for pizza and a scary movie on Halloween. He's really excited about that.

In Matthew news, he has joined the chess team at the middle school. He had never really played chess before but he played it at school one day and loved it so much that he decided to join the chess team. He had his first tournament last weekend and had a really great time. We're also getting ready to start him with a new piano teacher since his last piano teacher just left to do missionary work in Peru. So he's had a break from piano for a few weeks while we sorted that out, but he's excited to get back to that. He has adjusted really well to middle school and seems to be doing well and enjoying it.

He's currently reading the Hunger Games series and the rule in our house is that you can't watch movies based on books until you read the book, so as he has finished each book we have had a movie night to watch the movie. He's now on the third book and is anxious to finish it so he can see this one in the theater with us next month.

We've actually had a lot of fun with our little family book club this year. We've been reading books and seeing their movies all year long. Shawn and the boys did Enders Game, Josh and I did The Book Thief and Divergent, Matthew is doing the Hunger Games (well, I'm doing it with him but I've already read them), I did The Fault In Our Stars, and then we all read and saw The Giver last month and this month we all read The Maze Runner and saw that movie a few days ago. It's been a really fun way to bond with the boys. We're currently on the hunt for our next book.

In Clarissa news, she's doing great! I actually feel really bad that I didn't make a blog post last week, because the 15th was the five year anniversary of bringing her home from Korea! It's been FIVE years since we made that journey to Korea, can you believe it?! Time has flown by so fast. I didn't make a blog post about it because I've been sick, which I'll get to in a minute, but it was definitely on my mind last week. Clarissa is doing amazing and she's growing and learning and is so much fun. She's liking Kindergarten, but according to her teacher she's really shy. We're working on that. It's funny to me because she'll talk your ear off at home. She's full of energy! But at school I guess she has been much more quiet. She seems happy there, just a little reluctant to speak up. We're working on it! But she's doing great academically, she's reading, she loves the little homework assignments she gets to do once a week and generally seems to enjoy it there. She's also still joined at the hip with her friend Sophia, which I have enjoyed. They're adorable.

So back to me being sick...I've been sick. :( Clarissa had a little cold a week and a half ago and I think I got it from her, but it's been really weird. It was more of a chest thing than a head cold, but in the last several days I've had some sort of crazy sinus headache. At least I think that's what it is. Either that or a migraine that won't go away. It's the kind of headache that gets worse when you bend over or move your head, so that to me is a sinus headache, but it's been really severe. I'm fine when I'm laying down, I just can't get up or my head pounds. Saturday we had promised the kids that we would take them to Maze Runner and Shawn's work had a party at a really fun corn maze/pumpkin patch place that we really didn't want to miss, so I medicated myself enough to get through that and we had a great time, but yesterday it was so severe that I couldn't get out of bed at all. Last night I stood up and it was pretty much the most severe headache I have ever had. It was awful.

I feel like it's a sinus thing that is going to pass so I'm dragging my feet about going to to doctor, but if it's not feeling better soon I'm going to have to drag myself over there. It's slightly better today. I hope the worst of it is over.

So that's the update on us. While I was at the pumpkin patch on Saturday I made the kids pose for pictures, which they hate, but they were good sports. I actually took a whole bunch of fun pictures there, but haven't felt well enough to go through all of them yet. But here are their fall portraits. I love those sweet faces. They grow up too fast!

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And also, just for fun, here are my halloween themed nails! I haven't posted a nail update in a while! :)


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Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday

So this was the week that everything broke. Our washer broke, the van got a leak that ended up being a broken water pump and our hot water heater died.  Bad things come in threes, right? That means we're good for a while? Because seriously, it was ridiculous.

So we got a new washer (actually a friend of mine just happened to be getting rid of a really nice washer right when ours broke, so that was awesome) the car spent two days in the shop, and this afternoon the plumber was here installing a new water heater. We're all fixed now. I'm hoping to keep it that way.

Tonight the boys are at a scout campout. I try to be a good sport about scout campouts. They're good for the boys and they have fun. But honestly, I spend my night worrying if they're warm enough and if they ate enough for dinner and if they brushed their teeth and if they remembered to wear socks to bed so their feet don't freeze and if the other boys are being nice to them. My night feels weird when they aren't here to say goodnight to. It's kind of hard for me to let me kids loose in the world, so I force myself to do it because it's necessary, but I'm always a little antsy until they come home. I'm sure they're fine and I feel better that Josh is there for Matthew because he's much more experienced at these campouts. I'm sure they're having a great time. I'll just feel better when I see their faces tomorrow.

So speaking of Matthew, here's my mom brag for the day. That kid is doing AMAZING at the piano. Like, seriously knocking my socks off. He's been playing a new song for the past week and I've heard it a million times now but hadn't actually watched him play it. Today I was in the living room while he was playing so I stopped to watch and holy cow, that kid has amazing fingers! He's only been taking lessons for barely four months. He should still be doing one handed Row, Row, Row Your Boat songs. It should still be kind of painful to listen to, lol. But his teacher has to keep skipping through books because everything he gives Matthew is too easy. He just GETS the piano. He has taken to is so naturally that it's really been amazing to watch. He plays before school, after school and every chance he gets. I absolutely love listening to it.

So I took a quick video today because what he was playing was pretty awesome. Watch his fingers go! I'm really proud of him!

http://youtu.be/BHvWkjt4RnM



Friday, September 19, 2014

Friends

It was a fun day of friends for all the kids. Clarissa's best friend came home from school with her today and spent the afternoon at our house. They are SO ridiculously cute together. Listening to their conversations cracks me up. They're just so sweet and they play so well together. Those two are practically joined at the hip.

I sent them outside to play for a while and after a bit they called to me to come see what they made. Thy had done a huge chalk mural on the steps. The colors were actually really pretty, it looked cool, but they were completely covered in chalk. They came in the house and there was literally a chalk cloud swirling around them, lol. So I had to take them out back and hose them down a bit and I had them change clothes so they could come back in the house without covering my whole house in chalk. It was pretty funny, they had an awesome time. 

Here is a picture of them with their chalk creation. I just love them! 




Then the boys came home from school and decided to celebrate pirate day at Krispy Kreme. It's national talk like a pirate day, and anyone who goes into Krispy Kreme dressed like a pirate gets a free box of donuts. Free donuts kind of blew my kids minds, so they went to work putting together pirate costumes. They called a friend to come with them and that friend called a friend and the group kept getting bigger. Josh has a new girl who is his friend but isn't his girlfriend, and he texted her to see if she wanted to come and she met them there with her two brothers. So it ended up being this big fun group going in to Krispy Kreme to get their free donuts. So fun! 

Here's their group:


Once they got in there they saw even more people they know, so it really ended up being a fun afternoon for them. Josh ate so many donuts I can't believe he's not puking! Oh, the joys of being a teenager and being able to eat whatever you want. :) 

So it was a fun friend filled day for my kids. Seeing them enjoying time with their friends makes me happy! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

High school

So last night was back to school night at the high school. It was an opportunity for the parents to go to each of their kids classrooms and meet their teachers and hear a little bit about what they'll be doing this year. I've done elementary school and middle school back to school nights a million times now and I know everything there is to know about those schools, but I'm was kind of excited to go to the high school BTS night for the first time and see what's happening over there.

It's an interesting experience because they give you your child's schedule and you pretty much follow it through their school day, tying to find their classes before the bell rings. I was totally late getting there because traffic was bad (Josh told me I should have gotten detention for my tardy, lol) so I missed the opening welcome thing from the principal and then Josh has a religious class off campus first period, so I ended up rushing to get there and then sitting for a bit since there was was no meet the teacher thing for his first class.

But then things got moving and I made it to his second period class. It's a super cool art class and I really liked his teacher. He reminded me a bit of the hippy counselor on Freaks and Geeks. You know that guy? He sings to the class and gets really excited about their creative flow, lol. He was cool, I could totally take an art class from that guy.

The thing that I picked up on from all his teachers last night was how excited they are to be teaching there. It's a really unique college prep high school full of overachievers who have chosen to be there and it's just such an amazing environment. The kids are all excited to learn, which makes the teachers excited to teach, which makes the learning environment so much more enjoyable. I've met some teachers in my day who just look totally beaten down by the public school system. They come out of  college so excited to teach and change the world and after years of discipline problems and kids who don't want to learn, they burn out. These teachers all seemed so excited and enthusiastic.

I went to his english class and seriously, sitting in that room made me want to go back to college SO bad. I always loved english when I was in school and his english teacher is really dynamic and interesting. The classes last night were just ten minutes long but that guy totally had my attention. They're doing To Kill a Mockingbird this year, which I'm really excited about. They'll be doing Hemingway and Shakespeare and I had this moment where I was all "Yay, we're doing Hemingway?!" And then I was all "oh, right, I don't go to this school." lol I'm totally going to read along with Josh. I'm excited to read To Kill A Mockingbird with him and discuss it.

Because it's a college prep school and their junior and senior years are essentially college classes, they cram all four years of high school into the first two years. So I discovered last night that his history class this year is actually sophomore and junior history crammed into one year during their freshman year. They still learn all the same things but because they're all honors kids, they can get through it a lot faster. So if he quit this school after the end of this year and went back to regular high school (which he's not going to do) he would actually already have his sophomore and junior history requirements met. It's a really intense pace, but he likes things like that.

So getting to go to all of his classes was really cool and made me really excited for what he'll be doing this year. I adore that school and I feel so lucky that it's an option for him. It's kind of a big deal for me that he's there because I finally feel like we have him where he needs to be.

I know it's just a big old mom brag, and I don't mean it to be, but Josh is a kid who taught himself to read at three, was writing poetry at five, wrote a 22 page autobiography at six and has basically been chomping at the bit to learn since he could speak. You would think that would make for a very easy kid to raise, but actually not. I have really struggled a lot over the years about what to do with him. We took him to a psychologist when he was six to have him tested because I needed to know what we were dealing with to decide what to do about schooling and he tested at a sixth grade level in reading and writing in Kindergarten. I remember his Kindergarten teacher apologizing to me that she really didn't feel like she was teaching him anything. If she ever had to leave the room for something she would hand a book to Josh and have him read to the class while she was gone, lol.

This has been a bit of a struggle throughout his schooling. School has always been really easy for him. In middle school he would get his work done so fast that he would always ask his teachers if he could go to the library where he's been working on writing a novel and he would work on his video projects. In math his teacher would have him tutoring the ESL kids because she couldn't keep him busy. He's the kind of kid who will make sure that he's busy no matter what, but school has always been a bit frustrating for him, and that has been hard to watch because I have questioned myself for years over whether there was something more I should had done. It has been a tricky situation.

So now here he is at this school that goes at a crazy fast pace and they pile on hours of homework a night and there are almost no electives and he is THRILLED! And I am thrilled because finally I'm not worried about him anymore. I finally know that this is where he needs to be. It's kind of a weird moment as a mom that I'm hugely relieved that school is hard for my kid, lol.  He comes home happy and excited and he is challenged and it's going to be hard for him and he WANTS it to be hard, and I want it to be hard. I want it to kick his behind, because school should challenge you, especially a kid like him who has been desperately seeking a challenge. His days of easy A's are over, and I'm excited to see him working hard for his grades. This is going to be a very different experience for him. He's a little fish in a big pond now and that's actually a good thing. He will be challenged to keep up and he needs that. If all goes well he will graduate high school with his college associates degree, and that will be a major accomplishment. I'm excited for what lies ahead for him.

In his spare time he has signed up for the academic decathlon team at the school (which they call Acadeca), which is like quiz bowl. They're given a topic for the year, this year it's renewable energy or something like that, and then each member of the team takes a specific area of study and researches the crap out of it. Then they go against other schools and there is a regional and state tournament and then a national tournament. There aren't many freshman on the team, so this is kind of a learning year for him, but I'm excited to see what he does with that in the coming years. Doing research in your spare time and going up against other smart kids to see who is smarter is what qualifies as sport at that school, lol. Also, like half the school is on the debate team, which makes me laugh. Josh isn't doing debate, but I guess the group is huge. That's what these kids do for fun. And I love that.

So I know that was a lot of blah blah blah mom brag, and I know that it's not interesting to anyone but me, but I like to write these kinds of things down for my kids. I want to look back and remember these days and the big moments and exciting achievements in my kids lives, and I want them to read it some day and know how exited I am for them and how proud I am of them. The best part of being a mom is watching your kids grow and succeed and watching them spread their wings and fly.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy birthday Shawn!!

Today is Shawn's birthday. And in typical White family fashion, we're basically on day four of the celebration, lol. This past weekend we had a Shawn weekend and he picked all the activities for the weekend. There was a Dr. Who Marathon, a large breakfast, a Wii tournament....we had all sorts of fun.

Then today on his actual birthday we decided to go to a movie. We have started a fun tradition with the boys that whenever a movie comes out that is based on a book, we all read the book and then go see the movie. Our latest book was The Giver. Josh had to read it for school last year and really enjoyed it and the rest of us read it this past week. Actually, I read it this afternoon. I've been so busy that I haven't had a lot of reading time, so this afternoon I crammed the whole thing in in one sitting. It's not a long book, thank goodness!

We all really enjoyed the book and were excited to see the movie. When we got to the theater we were the only people there. It's super fun to watch a movie in an empty theater. It felt like we got our own private screening. We had a great time and really enjoyed the movie. It was different from the book, but different in a good way. I liked it. The next book on our book/movie list is Maze Runner. I'm excited to read and see that one!

Then we came home for cake and ice cream. German chocolate, Shawn's favorite. The birthday extravaganza isn't over yet. Friday night the two of us are going out to his favorite restaurant for dinner. Birthday celebrations go on for days in this house, lol.

So hopefully it has been a fun birthday week for Shawn. I love him and I hope he knows how much we appreciate him. He has been working so much this past month that he really needed to take a break and do something fun.

Happy birthday Shawn! :)