Thursday, May 5, 2016


Today is Josh's 16th birthday! SIXTEEN! I still can't believe my little boy is that old. That was the fastest sixteen years ever. 

Josh is an amazing kid and I am so lucky to be his mom. Josh is my type A child. A list maker since he was a toddler, he's the most organized, driven person I know. When Josh sets his mind to something, he sees it through. Shawn and I have often said that we didn't really raise Josh, we simply got out of his way, lol. He's always got a plan and a project and a goal and a pile of checklists to help him get there.

Josh is funny and kind and sweet. When I'm having a bad day, he's the first one to ask how he can help. 

One thing Josh especially loves is chocolate, so in honor of his sixteenth birthday, I gave him a chocolate themed day, which was topped off with this cake. I made it while he was at school today and couldn't wait for him to get home and see it. His reaction didn't disappoint! He was more excited about this cake than I think I've ever seen him about anything in his life, lol. If you want to win Josh over forever, chocolate is the way to do it. :)

So happy birthday to my sweet boy. He may be almost six feet tall, but he's always going to be my little boy. I love him so much! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Decisions made

My hair is red, plane tickets are booked. Oh crap, I have to get on an airplane in a month. Cue month long panic attack.

And even more decisions

So much trip planning this week! So Josh has decided to cancel his class trip to the east coast so that he can compete in National History Day nationals. It was a really hard decision and there was much discussion and debate, but in the end he just felt that he had worked too hard to get to nationals not to see it through. He can travel to the east coast any time, but he may never have another opportunity to compete in nationals.

So this week we're trying to pin down our plans, and it's been really complicated. The discussion for a while was who was going to go with him. Just Josh and Shawn? Just me and Josh? Shawn, Josh and me? Costs were a factor for us all to go. I would miss school, and that's an issue. Shawn would miss work, and that's sometimes tricky. I've been to DC before and Shawn hasn't so I would rather him get the opportunity to go. I hate to fly, so that's an issue. We've gone over this a million times at this point.

Finally I THINK we've decided that Shawn and I are both going with Josh. It's a big deal for Josh and I want to be there. It will be fun for us both to go.

Now the trick has just been figuring out flights, which has been ridiculously complicated. Part of the issue is that Josh isn't coming back with us. We're all going to fly to DC, participate in NHD, and then we're leaving Josh there to meet up with his France group and Shawn and I are coming home without him, and he needs a flight out of DC two weeks later when he gets back from France. But it needs to coordinate with his teachers flight, and it needs to be timed just right to meet up with when they're getting back from France, which isn't working so well. He may end up spending the night in DC with his teacher, which is awkward of course, so they're getting two hotel rooms, and it's all just a lot to figure out and coordinate. I was on the phone with his teacher at 11:00 last night trying to figure it out. Plus when we priced flights going to DC, it was significantly cheaper for us to go a day early, so we're trying to work all that out.

So basically this has just been a really complicated, stressful thing to figure out. There are a whole bunch of independent parts that needs to coordinate perfectly together for all of this to work and I'm having a really hard time making it all fit. Somehow we're all going to get there and I'm sure we'll have a great time, but the planning of it is really stressing me out.

And I'm juggling that right now with some other stress I have going on. I've got a lot of school stuff on my plate this semester. The religion class I'm taking this semester is more complicated than the previous classes I've taken, and it involves a bunch of little projects that I'm still trying to figure out. It's a bit of a confusing class and I'm frustrated by it. We take turns teaching the class during the semester and at the last minute they asked me to fill in for someone and teach this week, and I'm not really prepared for that at all, so I'm stressed about that this week. My mind is on trying to figure out plane tickets to Washington DC right now, school is taking a backseat for a few days.

Also, if I get plane tickets to DC, that means I have to fly on a plane. Uuuuggghh. I have to REALLY want to go somewhere to tolerate getting there on a plane. So I'm already stressed out about the fact that I have to fly next month. I have to really mentally prepare myself to fly. I wish I didn't hate it so bad, but I just despise airplanes. It's probably my number one anxiety trigger, and I have a lot of anxiety triggers. Knowing I have to fly is like this THING looming over me. I'm super excited to be in DC, but getting there and back is already making me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of decisions, I have a hair appointment this afternoon. Should I put the red highlights back in? I think yes, but I haven't decided yet.

If this blog post is jumbled, it's because that's the way my mind is functioning today! Airplanes, school assignments, hair appointments, hotel reservations, teaching the class, whose going to watch Matthew and Clarissa while we're gone, Josh flying home with his teacher, I need to find a time to meet with my Brazilian English speaking partner this week, oh crap, I have to fly on an airplane!!! That is what is racing through my head today. I need to sit down and look at hotels, but I can't because I have a school lesson to plan, but I can't concentrate on that because I'm having airplane anxiety, and I don't have time for any of that because I have to figure out what to do with my hair before my appointment in a few hours. It's 9:30 am and I think I need a nap and some anxiety medication.

I keep telling myself that all of this is going to work itself out, and it will. Maybe it's a good thing I have a hair appointment today. My hair lady is like my therapist. It takes a long time to highlight my hair, we should have plenty of time to work my life out while I'm there.

Ok, so now I'm going to go attempt to do some homework. First things first. If I get school out of the way I might just be able to focus on trip planning this afternoon after my hair appointment. Oh crap, I think I have to fly on an airplane. Deep breaths.

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!