Monday, April 25, 2016

Decisions, decisions...

So much to talk about today.

First of all, the new semester is in full swing and I'm now fully immersed in an intro to writing class. This week we have to write a love letter to an object. I'm a decent enough writer in general, but I'm already stuck on this assignment. I'll get there.

One interesting thing we're doing this semester is that we have been assigned a speaking partner in another county. This program that I'm doing is though our church university and it extends outside the country. There are groups all over the world doing the same program I am through this college. One of the goals of the international students is to strengthen their English speaking skills, so during this semester of English, we have all been partnered with someone in the program in a different country and we are required to Skype with them for 30 minutes each week so they can practice speaking to someone in English. I have been partnered with a woman named Jessica from Brazil! Our first Skype session is today, so I'm a little nervous about that. Hopefully this will be a fun experience.

Second story, Clarissa has been working on losing her two top front teeth. The first one came out a couple of weeks ago, but the second one was still hanging on. Then she tripped and hit her mouth on the side of my bed the other day and knocked the remaining tooth sideways a bit, but it still wouldn't come out. So it's been kind of comically hanging in there sideways for the past week and we've really been working on trying to get that thing out. One sideways front tooth is not a good look, lol.

Yesterday we were at church and she was in the children's meeting and Shawn and I walked past the room and when one of the leaders saw us she ran out with Clarissa's tooth in a tissue! Apparently it had started to bleed a little so the teacher took a look at it and it was so close to coming out that she just popped it right out! Finally! Clarissa was so thrilled to have it out, she couldn't stop talking about it all day yesterday. It was quite an event.

So now she has no front teeth, which I actually think is adorable. Seven year olds are the cutest with all those missing teeth. I feel like it's the last moment of looking like a little kid before their big teeth start coming in and they start looking like big kids.

So we did a photo shoot yesterday so that I'll always remember how cute she looked with those missing teeth. She's growing up so fast! with Clarissa being the youngest, I'm very aware that every milestone is the last time. It makes me a little sad!

But how cute is she?!!


So now onto Josh's big news! He has been working on a documentary for National History Day for most of the last year. He has put an incredible amount of work into it. My brother, who is an awesome musician, wrote an original song for the background, we have a friend with a recording studio who let Josh record all the dialog so it sounds great, he interviewed someone from the state historical society, he has done a massive amount of research and he has just put and incredible amount of work into it. He has worked and reworked it for months.

It went to the regional competition last month and came in second. He took the critique he got from the judges and came home and reworked it a bit and last weekend it competed in the state competition and came in first place! He's going to nationals!

So here's where the decisions come in. He has had his June trip plans carefully figured out for months. He was supposed to go on an east coast trip with his school for nine days at the first part of June, have a four day wait in DC, which is coincidentally when and where National History Day nationals are, and then he meets up with his Normandy team in DC and flies to France.

Well...that has changed. The east coast trip got moved ahead four days. Which means there is no longer a four day wait between the two trips, and which also means that the east coast trip is at the same time at National History Day finals. Crap crap craaaap. So this means that either he is going to have to cancel the east coast trip that he is so excited about, or he's going to have to decline to participate in NHD nationals with the documentary that he has literally spent a year working on.

At this point I think he has decided to cancel the east coast trip so he can compete in NHD but it's all still up in the air. He has a few more days to decide, but we're still trying to figure it all out. It's all kind of a mess at this point. We're trying to figure out who is going to go with him, where we're going to stay, etc. We're considering taking a side trip to NYC so that at least he gets to experience part of the east coast trip he's going to miss, but I'm having such a hard time planning a trip to NYC. I'm not sure if it's realistic now with the time and budget we have. I can't really miss school, so that's an issue, NYC is insanely expensive and trying to find a place to stay is complicated, and at this point I just don't know what's going to happen. I'm a little stressed out about it to tell you the truth. What may end up happening is that Shawn and Josh may just go to DC for NHD and then Shawn will leave Josh there to meet his team for France and them come home. Or I may go, or we all may go to NYC or Josh may change his mind and go on the east coast trip...who knows. But we have to figure it out soon.

Anyway, in the scheme of stress your kids can give you, I guess I can't really complain about this one. Josh reminds me of that every time his schedule stresses me out. There are worse things in life than having an overachiever teen, I suppose.

So that's what's happening here. Clarissa has no teeth, I'm writing a love letter to a tree (or my pillow? Or chocolate? Someone help me out here.) Josh keeps winning things and we may or may not be taking one or more cross country trips. I'm exhausted. And now I'm off to skype with a stranger in Brazil. My life is never dull! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Two down

I have two very small reports to submit tomorrow and semester two is officially DONE! I took my math final last week and got a hundred percent! I got an A in math!! Me! An A! I literally didn't think it was possible, but I did it. 

The first half of the math class was actually really fun and I loved it. The second half got into algebra and I had to confront some math anxiety I've been harboring since high school. Josh had to tutor me through most of it and there were more than a few times I wanted to toss it all out the window and give up, but I'm happy to report that I have beaten the beast and for the first time in my life, I can actually do algebra! I'll probably never be great at it, but I can do it, I can pass a test on it, and I survived a semester of math. I'm actually ridiculously proud of myself. I know it was just a basic math class, but math is hard for me and I conquered it. I did the thing I didn't think I could do, and that was a confidence boost that I really needed. 

So now I get a glorious week off and then we start up semester three. I'll be taking a religion class and an English class. English has always been my strong subject, so I'm not too worried about it. It's a lot of writing, and I do that for fun, so I should be good. 

That semester ends in July and then we graduate from this program. I'm so glad that I chose to do this program. It was a really great way to ease back into college and I feel so much more prepared to start full time in the fall. 

And speaking of that, I just spent the morning applying to college! The college I'm going to is the same one associated with this program, and I automatically get in if I complete the program but I still have to go through the application process so they can verify that I meet the requirements and formally accept me as a student. So it's more of a formality, but I spent the morning filling out application forms online. This is actually the same college I went to after I graduated from high school in the 90's, so it's actually sort of interesting to have it pull up my original information with my maiden name and kind of revisit some of that stuff. That year of college was kind of the year that things all started to go wrong back then, so it's actually a bit of a painful memory. Some of it was good, but most of it was a really ugly year for me that kind of kicked of a string of ugly years that followed it. Life after high school was bumpy for a bit.

But sometimes in life you get a do-over and I feel like this is mine. I never thought I'd be back in college, especially this college again. But here I am, and I'm determined to do it right this time. This is my do over and I'm grateful for it. I'm finally going to do what I should have done 20 years ago, and I'm really excited about it. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Whew, it's been a whirlwind around here lately. Everyone is so busy and running in a million different directions. I keep thinking things will slow back down, but it never seems to.

After making so much progress with all my life goals lately, I've been feeling a little stuck this past week. The weight loss has been going great, I've lost 13 pounds, but then I plateaued and I just keep gaining and losing the same pound. That happens sometimes and I know it will pass, but it really frustrates me. I took a couple of cheat days out of frustration and I know that doesn't help matters. I feel back on track and I'm going to push through it, but I've hit a bit of a low spot this week.

And math seems to be the same. I have absolutely loved this math class all semester up until recently.  I've learned a ton and I've been so proud of myself for doing things that I never thought I could. But now we're deep into algebra and I'm SOOO burned out. We're getting into the stuff that I failed in high school and I'm remembering why I failed it the first time, lol. And really, I'm doing fine, I'm actually getting a good grade in the class, but I'm struggling a bit to keep on top of it. I really struggle with algebra. I'm doing better at it than I ever have in my life and I'm amazed at how much I've learned, but I'm starting to count down the days until it's over. My life is consumed by algebra lately. The class is really fast paced and moves on quickly to a new concept each week and each week I struggle just a bit more to keep up. Shawn and Josh are tutoring me, which is the only way I'm getting through it. Thank goodness for them, they have been a lifesaver to me this semester. There are only four more classes left, three more weeks of class work and then the final, so the end is in sight. I'll make it and it will be fine, but I'm kind of limping to the finish line. I'm honestly so glad that I took this class, because finally confronting my fear of math has been great for me, but I'm ready for it to be over. I'm just burned out and exhausted. I can not solve for X one more time. Can't do it. I'm tired.

This class is over the first part of April and then I have a week or so off and then I start English. Finally, a class I'm good at! We'll be doing a lot of writing. I can totally handle that. That class goes until the end of July and then this year long program is over and I will graduate with a certificate, which basically means nothing except that I completed the program. But I will earn 15 credits from the year and completing the program makes me eligible for automatic acceptance into the college so I can start working on my bachelors. So starting in September I'll be going full time online, taking classes towards a bachelors in marriage and family studies. That should take me two or three years and when that's done I'll hopefully be applying to grad school to get my Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling, which will take me another three years.

So I still have a long way to go. But right now my focus is just making it through another four weeks of math. I can do it. I'm pretty sure I can do it. I don't really have any choice but to just push through it and get it done. Four more weeks. I just have to make it through four more weeks.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Second place!

Today was a big day at our house! Both of the boys competed in the National History Day regionals. Matthew wrote a paper and Josh made a documentary. This is the first time they've both competed together in anything, so that was fun!

In the end, Matthews paper didn't win (but I still think it was awesome!!) and Josh's documentary came in 2nd place! That means he's heading to state in April. Yay! We're really rooting for him to make it to nationals, because it just so happens that nationals is in Washington DC the four days in June that Josh will be stuck in Washington DC with nothing to do between his American History trip and his France trip! It's a great documentary, I really think it has a chance to compete. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

So he has the state competition for that in April, but first he has the state competition for his schools academic decathalon team in March. He's competing all over the place! Academic competitions are our family's favorite sport! :)

Here is Josh after his big win today!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

New hair!

I don't think I've mentioned it on my blog, but in my quest to be brave and try new things, I've been trying out new hair. I went blondish for a little bit and decided that didn't feel like me, so I went really dark for a few months and that didn't quite fit, so now I'm trying out red! I went to my hair lady yesterday, and decided on a whim to try out some bold red. I've been going to the same stylist for 16 years, so at the point I trust her to play around with new things. I used to be terrified to color my hair, but now it's kind of fun!

I took some photos today and not only am I liking the red hair, but when I was going through the pictures I think I could finally tell that I'm losing weight. These pictures don't make me cringe quite as much as some that I've seen of myself lately, lol. I've lost 12 pounds! Yay!



Monday, February 15, 2016


I have now been dieting for a month and I have officially lost 10 pounds. Yay! :) I lost the first 7 or so really quickly and then I just got stuck for a while. I kept gaining and losing the same pound for almost two weeks. It got so frustrating that I really wanted to quit. But I didn't quit and now the scale is moving again and I'm feeling really proud of myself that I pushed through the frustration. My pants  are starting to feel loose, which is always a good thing! Shawn is also dieting and we've been losing at about the same rate. He also hit 10 pounds yesterday. We're off to a good start! This diet challenge goes until June, so we still have a ways to go!

Yesterday we had a really cool experience. A couple of months ago they were asking at church for two people to volunteer to help with a church service at the state prison. Part of my goals to change during this whole lose weight, going back to school life change I'm working on is to work on my public speaking skills. I absolutely hate speaking in public. It's something I have always stuggled with. But the Thursday night class I take as part of my college program is forcing me to speak in front of the group and I know that when I hit the masters program especially I'm going to need to get used to it, so I decided to be brave and volunteer to speak at the prison, and yesterday was the day.

So I wrote a 20 minute talk on the life and teachings of Jesus and yesterday Shawn and I went out to the prison. And honestly, it was a bit life changing for me. We spend some time in the women's prison, and I know this is a weird thing to say because it was prison, but I kind of loved it there. Because my future career goals involve helping people and working with people who have struggles in their lives, I was really interested in what kind of programs they have out there for the inmates. This is the kind of thing I love and that I'm really passionate about. I got to talk to some of the women for a few minutes after the church service and they were all so sweet to us, I really wished I could have spent some more time with them. It's experiences like that that confirm to me that I'm headed down the right career path. I went home and looked up volunteer programs at the prison and I think I'm going to see if there is something I can do there to volunteer. They do have all sorts of volunteer opportunities out there. I just felt such a connection to those women and the need to help in some way.

So things are going good right now! We're busy with life, losing weight, going to prison. You know, normal stuff. :) Life is good, ten pounds down and I'm going to keep going!

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!