Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I almost wrote Monday. My brain is having a hard time comprehending that it's Tuesday because everyone was home yesterday.

So here is how my morning went. I got up to kids running crazy through the house, hurried and got dressed for the gym, made sure everyone was eating breakfast, made everyone's lunches, realized that I was out of shampoo and conditioner in my gym bag so I refilled my litte bottles, wrangled Clarissa and managed to pin her down to do her hair while trying to sign the kids homework, told the boys to get their shoes on about 40 times while frantically searching for Clarissa's shoes, packed Clarissa's diaper bag for the gym, realized that that we were totally late, pushed everyone out the door into the car, while carrying Clarissa, my gym bag and the diaper bag, drove them to the bus stop just in time to watch the bus pull away, at which point I realized that there was no way I was going to make it to the gym in time for water aerobics since I now had to drive them to school, so I drove behind the bus through road construction to get the kids to school, and then drove home, tried to get Clarissa out of the van with the gym bag and the diaper bag, which apparently offended her somehow (I think she wanted to get out of her carseat by herself and I picked her up, which made her mad), so then I had her throwing a full blown tantrum in the garage while I tried to get her, the diaper bag and the gym bag into the house, at which point I realized that the garage door into the house was jammed (it sometimes does that and it feels like it's locked for some reason even though it's not) and I didn't have my house key to get in the front door, so I said lots of naughty words to the door while Clarissa sat on the floor of the garage and cried until I finally pried the door open and we went inside. I tossed my gym bag in the laundry room, hung the diaper bag on the hook, let Clarissa finish her tantrum and sat on the couch and contimplated going back to bed and starting over.

Awesome morning.

Unfortunately going back to bed wasn't really an option so I cheered Clarissa up and we sat on the couch and watched Sesame Street instead of going to the gym. I'm bummed that I missed water aerobics today. The crazy Molly Shannon lady teaches on Tuesday.

Fortunately my day has gotten slightly better since then. Shawn came home for lunch and brought me a yummy salad, which was nice. Now Clarissa is taking a nap and I'm sitting here listening to the Wicked soundtrack and enjoying a quiet house for a little bit before the boys come home.

We did have a fun day yesterday. We took the kids to the zoo for a while until it started to rain and then Shawn took the boys to Kung Fu Panda 2, which they really enjoyed. We were hoping to spend some more time outside but the weather just didn't cooperate. I think the kids had fun anyway though. Michael asked if he could call his mom last night to tell her about his day, so he must have had a good time.

This morning Clarissa got frustrated by something and she threw her hands up and said "Oh, geez!" lol! It sounded so funny coming out of her mouth. She's such a parrot. She's finally starting to speak in longer sentences now and I just love talking to her. She's really funny.

So there's my update for the day. I'm going to go paint my toenails and bask in the peace and quiet a bit longer before the kids get home. And tomorrow morning I'm going to make it to the gym if it kills me!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Shawn just took the kids to an activity center to run off some energy and I stayed home to work on some church stuff I need to do. Only I opened my computer to work on it and got sidetracked and now I'm blogging instead.

Speaking of church, I was recently asked to serve as the secretary in our church Young Womens organization, which I'm really excited about. Everyone in our church is asked to volunteer in some capacity and they switch it around every now and then. I've been working in our church nursery and now I'll be working with the teenage girls. I'm really excited about it! I was active in the program when I was a teenager and it's fun to be a part of it again. I'm supposed to be sitting her putting a calendar of activities and a birthday list together, but my blog was calling me. :)

I actually don't really have anything specific to blog about. When the house is quiet and peaceful like it is now it puts me in the mood to write but at the moment I can't think of a topic. Nothing is new since I last blogged except that I went to the mall last night and bought new plates.

We've had the same dinner plates for years. Like a ridiculous number of years. I'm pretty sure they're older than Matthew. The other day I was noticing that they're starting to chip, we're always running out of bowls because some off them have broken and last night I decided that it was time to go buy new plates.

For some dumb reason Shawn and I decided to take all the kids to the mall to help me pick out plates at Dillards. Four bored kids in the breakable section of a department store for an hour? Sure, that's a great idea! Sometimes Shawn and I are dumb. :) Fortunately all the breakables survived and we picked out some really great plates.

Our old plates looked like this:

They were totally my style 10 years ago when our old house had more of a country theme. I don't particularly like them anymore and they don't really match my style or my current house at all. I've been meaning to get new plates for a long time I just never got around to it.

Our new plates look like this:

I couldn't decide on a color so I got both of them. I really love them. I loved opening my cupboard this morning and seeing new plates in it. I think they will serve us well for quite a while. They'd better because at the rate I replace my plates it's going to be a long time before I think about getting new ones.

Let's see, what else is new around here? Things are still going pretty good with our exchange student. He's a busy, energetic kid so he's keeping me on my toes, but the kids are having a really good time with him. He had quite a Wii tournament with Matthew today.

Shawn doesn't have to work Monday because of the holiday so we're hoping to take the kids out and do something fun for the day. I'd really like to drive up into the mountains but the weather hasn't really been cooperative lately and we don't really want to go up there in rain. We may have to find some indoor activities to do until the weather improves. It's been such a cold, wet spring here. I usually love rain but I think we're all ready for a little sunshine.

Well, I've failed to come up with anything too exciting to blog about so I think it's time to wrap it up and go to my church projects. I've got to take advantage of the quiet house while I can!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Well hello ab muscles!

I went to the gym this morning, worked my butt off at water aerobics, came home, sat down on the couch for 20 minutes to read with Clarissa, got up to answer the phone and my ab muscles hurt so bad I could barely stand up! My first thought was "OUCH!!" and my second thought was "YAY!"! :) There's some pleasure in coming home from the gym and feeling sore muscles. It makes me feel like all the work is getting me somewhere. It motivates me to keep going. We had the crazy Molly Shannon teacher today. She makes me laugh. I always look forward to her classes!

My other exciting news today is that this morning Josh was awarded a presidential academic acheivement award! They had a little awards ceremony this morning and he got a pin and certificate and a letter signed by the president. (Well, OK, not an actual ink signature, but still.) I'm so proud of him, that kid never ceases to amaze me. He's awesome and I'm lucky to be his mom. I'm having a hard time with the fact that he's now down to his last few weeks of elementary school. He starts middle school in the fall and it's still totally freaking me out. They really do grow up way too fast.

I'm trying to think of something else to write about, but that's pretty much all I have to say and all the time I have to say it! I'm off to get the kids some dinner and then I think we're going to have a movie night. Shawn has a chuch meeting to go to and I need a little peace and quiet around here. Let's hope a movie and some popcorn does the trick! :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

La Vida Loca

Remember at the beginning of the month when I said I was going to post a photo a day for about 18 days? Boy did I do a great job accomplishing that little project! Those were 18 exciting days, weren't they?!

Ok fine, it was supposed to be 30 days and I kind of suck. I was having so much fun with it at first and then life sort of got away from me the second half of the month. I'm notorious for starting projects and never finishing them. It's a sickness. :)

I was doing really great on my "30 days to a better me" project until all the kids got sick and then they got better just in time for our exchange student to get here and life sort of got a little crazy. I'm getting back on track, I just took a little detour.

Life with our exchange student Michael is going pretty good, but it was an adjustment for the first couple of days. He had a really hard time adjusting to the time change at first and he didn't sleep at all the first night he was here. It was kind of a rough night. He's adjusted better now though and he's sleeping OK.

He gets along well with Josh and Matthew and they're having a good time. It's always an ajustment having someone else living in your family though. It has thrown off our routine a bit, which is an adjustment for me because I'm such a creature of habit. It has taken a few days to get Michael into the routine and to get used to how we function. It's only one more kid in the house but it feels like 50 times more work. Not in a bad way, I'm just really busy and life is more hectic. My kids are more wound up and hyper with a friend in the house and it feels like one big party to them, so getting them to focus and get homework done, practice taekwondo and do the other things that we routinely do around here has been harder. Keeping Michael entertained while trying to keep our schedule on track has been trickier than I thought it would be. He seems to be having a good time though. He's making lots of friends at school from what I can tell. Josh says that he's really good at soccer so all the boys want him to play soccer with him at recess.

One thing I've been amazed about is how well he's adapted to American food. When Melissa was here I had a hard time knowing what to feed her at first because our food was so unfamiliar and different to her. I ended up going to the Korean market and buying her some kimchee and other Korean foods to help get her through. Michael has loved every thing we've fed him and doesn't seem to want Korean food at all. In fact he said he doesn't really like kimchee or spicy food, which boggles my mind. I didn't think there was such thing as a Korean who doesn't like spicy food or kimchee, lol! How does he survive in the land of red pepper paste and kimchee with every meal? I don't know, but he seems to like our bland American food. I'm having no problem keeping him fed!

Today was my first day back at water aerobics. I had to take all last week off because of sick kids and I took yesterday off so I could get Michael settled in at school. I was happy to be back today, I really look forward to going. It's amazing what a stress reliever it is for me. I really should have signed up for the gym a long time ago.

All in all, life is going good these days I'm just really busy and trying to keep up! I may or may not finish out my 30 day photo challenge. The last week has been really crazy and busy and by the time the evening rolls around I'm too tired to come up with something creative. Now that things are settling down a bit with Michael I may have time to get back to it.  We'll see. If not I'll pick it back up after Michael leaves.

For now I'm going to get the kids in bed and then crawl into my own bed and get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow is another busy day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


This evening we picked up our Korean exchange student! All the kids in the exchange program choose American names to go by while they're here and he has chosen to go by Michael. He's 12 years old and in Korea he's in the 6th grade but they always move the kids down a grade while they're in the US so he'll be attending 5th grade with Josh while he's here.

We picked him up at the airport around 7:00 this evening and the whole time we were in the car on the way home he kept telling me excitedly that he had presents for our family. As soon as we walked in the door he immediately opened his suitcase and started pulling out gifts. Holy cow, it was like Korean Christmas at our house! I think his mom sent every souvineer in the entire country in his suitcase, lol. He gave the boys really cool t-shirts and socks, some Korean coins, lots of cute pens and other fun school supplies, he gave Clarissa the cutest sandals that fit perfectly, Hello Kitty socks, clips for her hair, he gave Shawn a credit card holder, a keychain, a neat Korean pencil cup...the gifts just kept coming and coming.

Then he gave me an absolutely gorgeous jewelry box, which I was so thrilled to have because I looked at jewelery boxes just like them in Korea and thought about buying one! He also gave me a beautiful necklace, a keychain, some beautiful Korea fans, the absolute cutest fridge magnets that look like Korean food and several other little things that I can't remember at the moment. He just kept pulling more and more things out of his bag! For someone who loves all things Korean as much as I do it was pretty fun, lol. I love anything that comes from Korea. Oh! He also gave me several packages of seaweed, which made me and Shawn giggle because it's the same seaweed that they served us at practically every meal we ate in Korea and it was just too salty for me so I kept sneaking mine on to Shawn's plate when no one was looking, lol. It brought back a fun memory.

Once we got all the gift giving out of the way we showed him around the house and once he realized that we have a Wii he was pretty much feeling right at home, lol. He went right down to the basement to play Wii with the boys and they bonded over that pretty quickly. When we had Melissa here a few years ago it took her some time on the first day to warm up, but it took him about two minutes and he was off playing with the boys like he'd been here for a month.

He's sleeping in Josh's room while he's here and we moved Josh down to the spare room so Josh helped him get unpacked and put his clothes in Josh's closet and then they got ready for bed. I decided that we'll skip church in the morning so that he can sleep in. I'm sure his internal clock is all messed up and he has to be exhausted.

He seems like a really sweet kid, just super busy and energetic like literally every single other Korean person I know, lol. I think we'll have fun with him while he's here. He seems to get along well with the boys, which is great. I hope that continues to be the case!

One thing I thought was really cute was that when we were at the airport the guy that runs the exchange student program gave us the calling card info so that Michael can call home while he's here and said that all the kids needed to call their moms tonight to let them know that they arrived safely. When we got home I mentioned calling his mom and he said that he'd do it later and didn't seem like he was in any hurry to call home. I finally told him that it was time to call and he stopped playing with the kids long enough to make a quick call. I was a little surprised that he didn't seem at all homesick or eager to talk to his mom.

Then when it was time to get ready for bed I got him all settled in Josh's room, told him goodnight, closed the door...and two minutes later he came out and asked if he could call his mom again. He just wanted to tell her goodnight. I think once he slowed down and had a minute to think about it I think he missed his mom more than he thought. He's doing good though, I think he's going to be fine.

Anyway, now it's late and I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed. It looks like we've got a busy month ahead of us!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Calgon, take me away

I'm having one of those weeks that every mother is familiar with. You know the one, where you're holding a screaming toddler who is really mad about something you can't seem to descipher while stepping on spilled crackers that someone didn't bother to clean up while arguing with your tween about what he can and can't watch on TV and in your brain you're dreaming of sitting on a white sand beach somewhere in a different zip code than your children with nothing but silence and some lemonade. I love my children dearly. Most days I just want to hug the stuffing out of them. This week....well, a quiet sandy beach sounds awfully nice. :)

Both boys stayed home from school again today because they both still had slight fevers this morning, but by about 10am the fevers were pretty much gone and they were both feeling better and then they were really bored. In the midst of the "I'm really bored and there's nothing to do" whining, Clarissa chose this morning to have a whopper of a toddler meltdown about something I'm still not clear on. After several days of being cooped up in the house I think we were all a little on edge this morning. Poor Shawn called in the midst of the family meltdown to see how my day was going, lol. I may or may not have told him. Loudly. :) He's a trooper, he came home for lunch and picked the kids up and took them through the McDonalds drive-thru and gave me the few minutes of peace and quiet I needed. I took that time to decide that I wasn't going to pack up and find a deserted beach after all and we were all much happier this afternoon. :)

Tomorrow the boys are going back to school, I'm going back to the gym and things should finally go back to normal. It's just been a long week for everyone around here.

So today I'm cheating on the photo again. I'm cheating so bad that this isn't even a photo. It's a scan of a drawing that Clarissa made this morning. I suppose I could have taken a picture of it but you wouldn't have been able to see it as well and this was too cute not to share.

Clarissa absolutely loves to draw and color. Neither of the boys had any interest in coloring when they were two, so I've been surprised at how much Clarissa loves it. We sit down at the table with crayons and paper together and color a lot. I also have a drawing app on my ipad and she loves to sit with me while we draw pictures.

One of the things she always asks me to draw is "happy". That means a simple happy face. I draw each part of the face and we name each feature. Eyes, nose, big smiley mouth, ears and hair. Sometimes she wants me to hold her hand and guide her while she draws it. I draw her a million happy faces a day. Sometimes I throw a sad face in there and it makes her giggle. :)

So today in an attempt to stop the toddler meltdown I asked her if she wanted to color. I got her some paper and some crayons and sat her down at the kitchen table so I could have a moment of peace and quiet. A few minutes later she came over to me and said "look mom! Happy!"

And what do you know-that kid drew a happy face! All by herself! It was just the head and eyes and mouth (which doesn't look all that happy, lol) but I had no idea she could do that all by herself! I was super proud of her. A happy was just what I needed today. :)

So here it is, Clarissa's masterpiece. The bottom is something else, I believe she said it was flowers, which is something else we draw together a lot. I love that little girl. She always knows how to put a smile on my face. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paging Dr. Wendy, please report to the family room...

This morning I woke up pleased to see that Clarissa was feeling better and then Matthew woke up with a fever and a really bad headache. I sent Josh off to school, made Matthew a bed on the couch, put on some old Nickelodeon cartoons for him on Netflix and then got a phone call from school that Josh was in the office with a fever and a headache. So Shawn went and picked Josh up from school and I got him settled on the couch by Matthew. And then the puking started. Josh hasn't thrown up yet but Matthew's stomach certainly isn't happy today.

It's been a looong morning. Clarissa is bouncing off the walls because she hasn't been out of the house in three days, the boys are miserably sick and cranky, my house is a wreck, I need a shower, I haven't been to the gym all week and I'm starting to stress out about getting the kids better and the house back in shape before our exchange student gets here on Saturday. I'm hoping and praying that I don't get the kids sickness in the meantime.

For the moment Clarissa is taking a nap and the boys are content on the couch so I'm taking a much needed moment of quiet and I thought I'd get a quick blog post in while I can.

Todays picture of the day is a total cheat, but given the way my day is going it's the best I can do. I didn't take this picture and it wasn't even taken today. Last week I got a call from my grandma letting me know that she was in town visiting my aunt and uncle and she wanted to know if we wanted to go to my aunt and uncles house to visit her. I don't see my grandma (or my aunt and uncle for that matter) nearly enough so we were really excited to spend the evening over there. Some of my cousins and their kids were there, which was really fun. We had a good time catching up with everyone.

I was dumb and didn't take my camera but my uncle had his and took a picture of my family with my grandma and he e-mailed me the picture today. It is really rare for my family to all be in a picture together since I'm usually the one taking the picture! So here's my cheater picture of the day. :) Let's hope tomorrow is a little less crazy and I can get my camera out for a real photo of the day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I just went out to check on the baby birds and they're gone. With Clarissa being sick the last couple of days I haven't been outside checking on them much and I missed watching them learn to fly. I hoped to get more picture before they left. It's amazing how fast they grew and flew away! I'm going to leave the nest there and hope that another bird family moves in someday!


Clarissa is still sick today. This morning she had a fever and was super cranky and when I asked her if she had an ouch she pointed to her ears, so we packed her up and took her to the doctor. She has the beginnings of an ear infection but we caught it early. I think this is the first ear infection she's ever had. In the year and a half she's been home she's been sick only a few times. I spent most of the day laying on the couch with her. When she doesn't feel good she just wants to be held all day. I love snuggling with her but I sure didn't get much done today!

That includes taking pictures. I took a quick picture of the salad I made for lunch. Lame, but's it all I could manage! It was a good salad though. Here's the recipe!


Monday, May 16, 2011


I totally flaked on the picture yesterday. I had plans to go outside and take some yesterday afternoon but it was rainy all day and I just never got around to it. That's a lame excuse. I tend to not be very productive on Sunday afternoons.

This morning I woke up thinking I'd get ready to go to the gym but Clarissa had a fever so we stayed home. I don't know what's up with her, she's acting happy enough, just a little tired and she was pretty warm this morning. We spent the morning cuddled up on the couch watching Sesame Street and reading lots of books.

On another topic, I've spent the past few weeks researching cures for the heartburn and acid reflux I'm still having problems with. I had to go off the medicine I was on because of the heart problems it was causing but when I went off of it all the stomach issues came back. I've tried a bunch of different kinds of antacid medications and I can't take any of them because for some reason I have severe side effects to them. I also don't really WANT to take medicine for it, I want to fix the problem.

I've tried changing my diet, chewing gum, reducing stress, eating lots of apples and about a million other suggestions I found on the internet. Nothing helped. I've been having all sorts of various stomach issues for months and I'm tired of it. I was getting ready to make an appointment to have a bunch of expensive GI tests done.

Then last week I came across some articles on Aloe Vera juice. Aloe Vera is an amazing healing ointment on the outside of your body, so the thinking is that by turning it into a juice and drinking it it can heal the inside of your body as well. There's actually some interesting research on all the things that it can heal. I did a lot of research on it and decided that it was worth a try so I went out and bought a huge jug of it at Walgreens. I drink four ounces of it in the morning and four ounces at night. It doesn't taste great by itself but it's not bad if you mix it with a little juice. After taking it for a few days my stomach issues were noticibly better. Then I added acidophilus and papaya enzyme and for the first time in months my symptoms are almost completely gone. I feel a million times better. I wish I had tried this a long time ago. One of my "30 days to a better me" goals was to figure out what was up with my stomach and fix it. I will definitely be a better me if I'm not in pain all the time!

Halfway into my 30 day experiment things are going really well. I've rediscovered my love of photography, I've reduced the stress in my life, I've gone back to the gym, I fixed my stomach problems, I'm making an effort to step outside my comfort zone and say yes to things I've been saying no to and I'm a lot more enthusiastic about life again. It's good!

Saturday our exchange student gets here (one of the things I've been saying no to and decided to say yes to!) and we're getting excited. We don't know anything about the student we're getting other than it's a boy. We're supposed to have more information by Wednesday. The boys are especially excited about it, I think this is going to be a fun opportunity for them.

OK, so now on to today's photo! I went out and checked on the baby birds this morning and I can't believe how much they've grown! Less than a week ago they were ugly little featherless creatures and now they're getting fat and they have lots of feathers! They almost don't fit in the little nest anymore! It won't be long before the mama bird is teaching them to fly. I'll miss them, I've really enjoyed checking on them every day.

Check back tomorrow for more pictures!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun run

This morning the boys participated in a school district fun run! They had a great time!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Technical difficulties, please stand by...

I bet you're wondering where me and my photo a day challenge have been! Tuesday I completely spaced it and forgot to post something and then Wednesday night I went to post and Blogger was down and it was down until today so I wasn't able to post.

But now I'm back and I have a ton of pictures to make up for the ones I missed!

But first, here's what's happening here this week. The gym is going great, I went every day this week except Tuesday. I'm loving water aerobics and I'm having a great time with it. They have three different instructors who teach the class very differently so it's been fun this week to try out all three styles. On Monday and Wednesday they have a pretty standard water aerobics class. The first half is cardio and the second half is toning exercises with pool equipment. That's how they did it at the YMCA and that's what I'm used to. I didn't go on Tuesday and when I went on Thursday and went to get the pool equipment at the beginning of class I was told that the Tuesday/Thursday instructor doesn't use the equipment. I was kind of bummed because I like the toning exercises.

And then the instructor came out!! The lady who teaches that class looks like Molly Shannon and acts just like every crazy, hyper character that Molly Shannon has ever done. She was an absolute crack up and I don't think I've ever had so much fun at water aerobics! She played really fun, high energy songs and it was almost more like a water dance class. We did these super fun, crazy dance moves and she made us sing along to the music, lol. I was It was ridiculously fun, I can't wait until Tuesday when I can do it again!

The Friday class is taught by an instructor with a totally different style. There was no music and she was a little more serious and we spent the entire hour using the pool equipment doing toning exercises. It was a great class and I got a lot out of it but it wasn't as fun as the Thursday class with the crazy Molly Shannon look alike. It was a great workout though and my muscles are definitely feeling it! It's actually really amazing what you can do in the pool with floatation equipment. We use styrofoam barbells that weigh practically nothing outside of the water, but they're super buoyant so when you push them under the water there is a lot of resistance. So it's kind of like lifting weights under the water. With other equipment we did a lot of leg and ab exercises, including crunches, which you wouldn't think you can do in the water, but you can!

I'm really glad that I've gone back to the gym. I should have done it a long time ago. Clarissa absolutely loves the child care center there and I love being able to exercise and then take a shower and do my hair and put makeup on without a toddler hanging on my leg.

In other news, our dryer broke the other day and we've spent all week trying to figure out what's wrong with it. We finally decided it was unfixable and broke down and decided that it was time to buy a new washer/dryer set. We just spent the evening shopping for a new set, picked one out, scheduled delivery for tomorrow morning and then came home and promptly figured out what was wrong with the dryer and it now works. So I guess we're canceling the delivery. I'm happy and sad about it. I really wanted a new washer and dryer but I didn't particularly want to pay for a new washer and dryer right now, so I guess I'm glad that we don't need to. We'll make do with the ones we have for a while longer.

OK, so my third story brings me to my pictures of the day! I went out to check on the birds nest in my tree yesterday and there were two baby birds sticking their little heads out of the nest!! I spent all afternoon out in my yard with my camera yesterday. It was truly awesome. It was a gorgeous day, there were baby birds in my tree and the lilacs are blooming in my yard so it smells like heaven back there. Three ingredients for an absolutely perfect afternoon.

I am really proud of these pictures. These are the kind of pictures I used to take before my long hiatus and it feels good to be doing it again.

Then today I spent some time doing some ultra close-ups of the kids. When I went to get Clarissa up from her nap she brought me her stuffed rabbit, which is her prized posession, and said that he wanted to take a nap. A friend of ours gave her the rabbit for her first birthday and we named it Toki, which is Korean for rabbit. She takes that thing everywhere and she's really cute with it. She brought me a big pillow and some little blankets and we tucked Toki in for a nap. Then she decided that he needed a pacifier and something pretty for his hair so we added that. It was so cute that I decided that I needed to take a picture.

Awesome. :) Doesn't he look cozy?

Then since I had my camera and I really love the light in Clarissa's bedroom I started taking pictures of her. She's notoriously difficult to get pictures of but she did cooperate a little bit today. I've been wanting to take some close ups of her and today she seemed to be in the mood to do it. We had a lot of fun and then the boys came home so I took some of them too. I think I've taken more pictures in the past two days than I took in the last six months! It's been awesome!!

Check back tomorrow for more pictures! :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back to the gym

As part of my 30 day "become a better me" program, I joined the gym. When Matthew was a newborn we joined the YMCA and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Getting out of the house every day and getting into an exercise routine was really great for me. But them we moved to this house our mortgage payment was a lot bigger than it was in our old house so we had to give a few things up and the Y was one of things we had to sacrifice.

I've really missed it and I've been meaning to sign up for a gym again for quite a while and it just never happened. But then we recently found out that Shawn's work is now offering a discounted gym membership to their employees at a gym not too far from here and it's super affordable so it was the perfect opportunity to sign up.

I signed up last week and then I drug my feet about going all week for some reason. I just couldn't get started. But I decided today was the day and I packed up my gym bag and Clarissa and I went to the gym this morning. They have a great child care center that she was super excited about, so I think she's going to enjoy the gym as much as I am.

This morning I did a water aerobics class. I did water aerobics at the Y and I really loved it. I'm always a little embarrassed to tell people I do water aerobics because I think it's seen as an old persons class. OK, so today I was the only person in the pool under 50.  The reason older people take water aerobics is not because it's easy, it's because there is no impact on your joints. But I think people see a pool full of grey haired people and pass on it. It's actually a really great way to exercise. You do the same exercises you would do in a regular aerobics class but the resistance of the water makes it even more effective. Plus I just love being in the water. It's super relaxing to me. When I was a kid I spent practially every day in the summer in the pool. I used to be a really good swimmer but I rarely swim anymore.

So today it was me and a group of senior citizens hanging out in the pool. Yes, I'm super cool. :) Oh, and I packed half the house in my gym bag and forgot to bring a towel and there isn't a single towel to be found in the entire gym. So not only was I the only person in the pool under 50, I was the big dork trying to dry myself off with my clothes when it was over. Awesome. Go ahead, laugh.

Tomorrow I'm going to go back and do it again (and this time I'll bring a towel). My goal is to go every weekday if I can. I can't do water aerobics on Wednesdays because the boys leave for school a little bit later on that day and I can't make it to the class in time but I could do the bikes or the treadmill or something. It will be good for me to get out. I spend far too much time at home lately.

So with that story out of the way, here is my picture of the day. It's a snapshot I took of the kids a little bit ago when we were having scripture study. I love my kids. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!

I've had a great Mothers Day this year. Shawn always goes out of his way to make it a special day, which I really appreciate. I slept in late, got chocolate at church, my favorite food for lunch and lots of hugs and kisses from the kids. Shawn bought me a wireless printer for Mothers Day which probably sounds like a weird Mothers Day gift but it's exactly what I wanted! I can now print from my iPad, which I'm way excited about. The kids also made me some cute gifts at a school that I really love.

I love being a mom. I'm lucky to have the three greatest kids in the world. Mothers day also makes me think of my own mother and how much I appreciate her. I may have given her some grey hairs growing up but she still puts up with me. :)

Anyway, in honor of Mothers Day my photo of the day is me and the kids. I suppose I cheated today. I set up the shot but Shawn actually pushed the button, so technically I didn't take this picture. Close enough though, right?!

Happy Mothers Day! :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Crap, it's 10:30 and I forgot to take a picture!

I was just about to go to bed and I realized that I forgot to take a picture today! So I grabbed my camera and ran downstairs and took a few super quick pictures.

So here is what is going on at our house at 10:30pm on a Saturday night:

                                                  Matthew should have been in bed an hour ago.

Josh fell asleep on the couch.

Shawn is trying to fix the dryer.

And now I can go to bed! :)

My adoption rant

Ok, first off, let me just say that I have a lot of respect for the Korean government and I will be forever grateful that they have allowed me to parent one of their beautiful children. Having said that, I'm a little angry at the Korean government today.

Here's what's happening with Korean adoption right now. Over the past several years international adoption has become a bigger and bigger issue in Korea. The Korean people (rightfully so) are not happy that so many of their children are being adopted overseas. I can totally understand that. As much as I love Clarissa and I'm so glad that she's a part of our family, I do agree that a Korean adoption in their own country would be the best thing for those orphaned children. Korea is not a poor third world country. They're a very self sufficiant wealthy country full of strong families who could provide for orphaned children.

The problem is that Koreans place a lot of value on their bloodlines and raising a child that doesn't carry on their bloodline is considered shameful. Adoption is not widely accepted in Korea. I have read articles where they talk about couples adopting in secret, women wearing fake pregnant stomachs so that no one would know they adopted, one man telling his family that their adopted child was the product of his affair because an affair is less shameful than an adoption, etc. If it is known that a child is adopted in Korea they usually live difficult lives. It can be harder for them to marry, to find a good job...so many times it is kept a secret from them and from everyone else.

The other problem is that single mothers who choose to keep their babies receive absolutely no help from the government. It's not socially acceptable to be a single mother in Korea so if they decide to do it they're on their own. Without government assistance most single women feel that they have no choice but to place their babies for adoption.

So due to the fact that there are an abundance of babies placed for adoption and the fact that few in Korea will adopt them, the government has no choice but to send them overseas. Korea has one of the oldest and most respected international adoption programs in the world. One of the reason we chose to adopt from Korea is because their adoption program runs so smoothly and for us it did go smoothly. From start to finish our experience with Korean adoption was wonderful.

But in recent years the Korean government is getting more and more flak from the Korean people about their international adoption program. Many in Korea are calling for an end to it completely. Honestly, I would love to hear that the attitude towards adoption in Korea had changed so much that international adoption was no longer necessary. Change is happening in Korea but it's been slow. The Korean government has programs in place to encourage adoption and they're working hard to make adoption more accepted and less shameful and it's working. The number of domestic adoptions in Korea is rising every year.

Unfortunately it's not rising fast enough and the government is feeling a lot of pressure to do something about their overseas adoption program. Their solution has been to introduce the dreaded quota. People adopting from Korea right now fear the quota, and for good reason.

In order for the Korean government to show their people that they are sending less and less children overseas, they came up with an Emigration Permit quota for adoptees in 2007. Children leaving Korea to be adopted overseas have to be issued an Emigration Permit (EP) to leave the country. The Korean governments big idea was to grant 10% fewer EP's every year starting in 2007. They only allow so many children to leave the country every year to be adopted overseas and once that quota has been met the remaining children have to wait until the next year to be issued their EP. That looks great for their numbers. Now whenever there is an report on Korea's international adoption program the government can pull out their numbers and show everyone that there are fewer and fewer children being adopted overseas every year. Well, yes, technically it's true. Fewer children are being sent overseas every year but that's only because the children that don't make their numbers look pretty are waiting until the next year to leave.

The first few years it worked fine enough. Clarissa's EP was issued in July of 2009 with no problem. The EP quota wasn't really even on my radar of things to worry about. The available EP's are divided among the international adoption agencies. We worked with the biggest agency in Korea, which gets the most EP's allotted to them. The smaller agencies are allowed fewer EP's. For a while the EP quota seemed like kind of a myth. Something terrible you heard about but never actually saw.

But pretty soon the cracks in the EP quota plan started to show. The smaller agencies started to run out of EP's before the end of the year. At first it was close enough to the end of the year that it wasn't really a problem and the delays were slight, but it got worse and worse and eventually there was a huge backlog. What used to be a 3-5 month wait after referral to complete the paperwork and bring a child home became a six month wait. And then an 8 month wait. And then the backlog was so big that when the new EP's were issued starting in January they had to use the majority of them up just to clear up the backlog from the year before.

Last year the second largest adoption agency in Korea ran out of EP's in April. This year? They're now officially backed up an entire year. They're reporting that anyone who received a referral through that agency after December of 2010 will not be issued an EP until sometime after the new year in 2012. That means that people will be given the photo and info of their beautiful baby and then they will wait 12-14 months before they can actually go bring that baby, who will no longer BE a baby, home for no other reason than the fact that the Korean government refuses to grant them the permit that would allow them to leave the country. Babies are not referred for international adoption until they're at least 5 months old. If they're matched with a family at 5 months and they have a minimum 12 month wait to come home, that means that the child will be 17 months old at the very earliest before they can finally join their family. In the meantime they spend those 17+ months old in foster care, bonding with a family they will have to be seperated from.

That is absolutely unacceptable. This doesn't personally affect our adoption, of course, because our daughter came home a long time ago. But it makes me angry for all those families who are waiting month after month for their child to join their family. It makes me angry for those babies who will have to go through the trauma of being seperated from their foster families after so much time. It makes me angry for the wonderful foster parents who will grow that much more attached to the babies they eventually have to pass on to their families. Seperating Clarissa from her foster parents was one of the most difficult moments of my life and Clarissa was only 8 months old. I can't even imagine trying to do the same thing with an 18 month old.

Something has got to change. The Korean government has got to put a stop to the EP quota. In an effort to make their numbers look pretty they're making the situation much worse for the children and the Korean people really have no idea this is going on. It's time for them to stop trying to save face and start working in the best interest of the children. More Koreans are adopting every year and in time the numbers will get better on their own. I truly believe that there will eventually be no need for an international adoption program in Korea and that will be a wonderful thing, but it needs to happen naturally, not because the Korean government forced the numbers.

Truthfully I don't really know what I can do about it, other than rant about it on my blog. The Korean government certainly doesn't care what I think of their EP quota. But I think people need to know what's going on. I think the Korean people especially need to know what's going on. Orphaned children need homes and if there are homes available to them they need to be placed in those homes ASAP. There's no time to discuss whether those homes should be in Korea or overseas when there are actual children waiting for families.

I pray for those children waiting for families and for the wonderful people waiting to adopt them. I hope that the Korean government recognizes the problem and works to correct it and those children can join their forever families soon. Something has got to change.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 6

First of all, I have exciting news! We got a call from the exchange student agency that placed Melissa with us a few years ago and they asked us to take another Korean exchange student for four weeks and we accepted!

For those of you who weren't here when Melissa was staying with us, our kids elementary school has a sister school in Korea and there is an agency that sends Korean elementary school students here to experience life in the US for a month. We had a 10 year old girl named Melissa come stay with us a few months after Clarissa got here and we had a good time with her. She went to school with my kids everyday while she was here and pretty much just lived like a member of the family.

They've asked us several times since to host another student but life has been too hectic here and I just really didn't feel up to it. They called us again today though and said that they're trying to place two more boys that are coming in a few weeks and wanted to know if we would take one. I talked it over with Shawn and he was fine with it and then I asked the kids and they literally jumped up and down with excitement and begged me to do it, so I decided to go for it!

The guy at the agency read me the profiles of both boys and let me choose which one we wanted. I asked him if it mentioned if either boy takes taekwondo and it didn't but he's going to find out on Monday and let me know. If one of them is into taekwondo we want that one because I think that will be extra fun for my kids and probably fun for the Korean child. Most boys in Korea take taekwondo so I'll be surprised if neither boy takes it. It would be fun to take him to taekwondo with the boys. The Korean instructors there would be really excited to have a Korean taekwondo student visit!

Both boys are in the fifth grade so whichever one we get will probably be in Josh's class, which will be fun. They try to put the child in the same class as the host child whenever they can.

Whoever we end up with will arrive on May 22nd and leave June 21st. It will be really fun for the kids. It will make life a little more hectic for me, but I think it will be worth it. It's a great cultural experience for the boys. They learned a lot about Korea when Melissa was here.

So with that news out of the way I can move on to my photo of the day. I kind of struggled with motivation today and drug my feet a little because I couldn't think of anything good to take a picture of. I wasn't feeling creative today at all. I finally decided to experiment with a photo I've been wanting to try for a while. Frankly, this photo has been done to death. If you're in to photography at all, chances are you've seen it done. I've seen it a million times and I've seen it done much better than I did it. I''m not super happy with the results and probably wouldn't have even posted it if I didn't need a photo for my challenge, but I guess it turned out fine enough. It looks like a really easy picture to take but it was harder than I thought it was going to be! The pencils kept rolling all over the place and just when I would get them perfect my camera strap would dangle and knock one or my knee would hit the paper and make them roll around and I'd have to reposition them again. I also really struggled with the lighting.

I managed to get one that looks half decent though, so here it is. I might revisit this idea someday and try it again.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Josh!

Today it has been officially 11 years since I became a mother. I can't believe my little baby is eleven years old! He set his alarm for 1:20 this morning so that he could watch himself turn 11. I love that kid.

In honor of Josh's birthday, here are 10 things I love about him:

1. Josh taught himself to read at three and by the time he was six had written a 20 page autobiography (seriously!). That kid is crazy smart and I love watching him learn.

2. Josh loves to write stories and draw comics. He wants to be a writer when he grows up, which makes me smile because that's exactly what I wanted to be when I was his age.

3. Josh is a fantastic brother! He and Matthew are best friends and I worried about how bringing another child into our home would change the dynamic around here, but he fell in love with Clarissa from the moment he first saw her at the airport. He was the first one to get her to smile and he still makes her laugh every day. He's amazing with little kids. He's going to be a great dad someday.

4. Josh has a great sense of humor. He's the family clown!

5. Josh is extremely compassionate. I love how soft hearted he is.

6. He's awesome at taekwondo! When he first started he was not very coordinated or flexible and really struggled. A year later he can kick his leg over his head and you should see that kid jump! He has worked so hard and he has amazed me at how much he has improved.

7. Several months ago our church asked the children for volunteers to start a childrens choir that would sing one Sunday a month at a retirement home. Josh was one of the only boys that volunteered and he spends one Sunday morning a month sitting through an extra church service so he can sing in the choir. He didn't get his talent from his parents but that kid can sing!

8. Josh's first word when he was a baby was hi. Every time we went out in public he would wave and say hello to everyone and everyone would stop and talk to him. He still loves to talk to people. Sometimes I have to beg him to STOP talking to people, lol.

9. That kid knows his way around a computer like no one else. He makes the most awesome movies and videos that crack us up.

10. He loves Legos and builds really creative things with them. I'm always excited to see what he's going to come up with next!

Ok, so there are 10 things I love about Josh. My pictures of the day are actually really not that great, but I'm in a big hurry so it's all I've got. We're on our way to a friends house to have a Cinco de Mayo party with birthday cake for desert. I'm going to get better pictures of Josh and the cake and everything at the party but It's going to be a busy night and may not have time to post them. So in the interest of getting a blog post done for my photo challenge, you're just going to have to make do with the two picture I snapped really quickly. I may post more if I get home in time tonight.

Happy birthday to my sweet eleven year old! I can't believe how fast he's growing up!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Nest

I was trying to think of something to take a picture of today for my 30 day challenge and I remembered that we found a bird making a nest in a tree in our yard a couple of weeks ago so I went to check it out. It's about seven or eight feet up in the middle of a big pine tree in our backyard, so it's not very easy to see but I could tell that there was a robin sitting in it. She promptly flew over to another tree when she saw me poking around.

It was too high for me to really see what was in the nest so I was off to find a ladder. Back when I used to do a lot of art and nature photography I used to do stuff like this all the time. I was always balancing on the top of ladders, crawling in the dirt, hanging over the side of bridges, trying to get into trees...I forgot how much I loved it. It's been ages since I got my camera out for anything other than taking pictures of the kids. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was carrying my ladder across the yard to climb into my pine tree to look at a birds nest. It's pure bliss to me.  The sure cure for the stress in my life.

I positioned the ladder under the tree and climbed up to the top to see if I could see into the nest. It's at a really difficult angle to see though and I scratched up my hands and arms with pine needles trying to move the branches out of the way to see better. As far as I can tell I think there are four beautiful blue robbin eggs in the nest. Yay for baby birds!

I was trying to hurry because the mama bird was watching my every move and I'm sure she wasn't happy with me. I made sure not to touch the nest or get too close to it. I couldn't really get that close to it anyway. Pine trees are really hard to maneuver around without hurting yourself! I'd have no one to blame but myself if I fell off the ladder and dislocated my shoulder. :)

I didn't really get the greatest pictures, but I tried. I was balancing on the very top of the ladder while trying to hold my camera steady in one hand and trying to move branches out of the way with the other and it was tricky. I think once the babies are born I'll be able to get some pretty great pictures though. Once they're sticking their heads out of the nest I should be able to see them really well.

After taking a dozen pictures or so the mama bird started squawking at me and that was my cue to get down and leave her alone. She chewed me out all the way back to the house, lol.

I'm four days into my photo challenge and I'm remembering all the things I loved about photography. This has already been really good for me. I'm a little rusty but I'm having a lot of fun. Check back tomorrow for day five!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Glove

I was digging through my memory box yesterday and I came across the baseball glove my dad bought for me when I was a kid.
My dad was a big sports fan. Actually that's a gross understatement. My dad was the biggest sports fan there ever was. :) He was very athletic, played high school sports, dreamed of being a major league baseball player, coached all our teams as kids and knew more sports trivia than anyone I had ever known. He's the reason the local radio station that used to give out prizes for daily sports trivia questions had to institute a rule that you could only win once every 30 days.

When he and my mom got married he couldn't wait to have kids so he could share his love of sports with them. I'm sure he had dreams of playing catch in the backyard and cheering from the stands as his athletic children dominated the varsity teams. Unfortunately he fathered three of the least athletic people you'll ever meet.

My sister was born first and she was petite and girly and defiintely not going to be sliding through the dirt into home base any time soon.

Then I was born and as a kid I was tall like my dad, more athletically built and a total tomboy. I think he had hopes that I was going to be his sports star. When I was probably about seven he took me to the sporting goods store to buy me my first baseball glove. It was almost 30 years ago and I can still remember every second of it like it was yesterday. He was really excited about it and I remember trying on lots of different gloves looking for the right fit.

We finally found a beautiful blue suede glove that was perfect. I remember that I liked it because it was so soft. We took that glove home and played catch in the backyard many times. Over the next few years he coached my t-ball teams but unfortunately I didn't inherit his baseball talent and I finally asked to quit. I''m sure he was dissapointed.

I never really played sports after that. I was always really tall and people used to asked me constantly if I played basketball and it used to drive me crazy. My dad taught me how to shoot a basketball, of couse, but I was never good at it.

Five years after I was born my dad was finally blessed with a son. There are some really cute pictures of my brother as a baby wearing a little baseball uniform. I'm sure my dad thought that he was finally going to have a child he could play sports with. Unfortunately it didn't happen. My brother has so many amazing talents but sports really isn't one of them. He's incredibly musically gifted and I'm super proud of him. He can play any instrument he picks up, which I'm in awe of. He played t-ball and basketball as a kid and my dad coached his teams but eventually he asked to quit too. There would be no sports stars in our family.

My dad was a good sport (ha!) about it and he always encouraged us to do what we were good at. We had friends of the family who had kids who played high school sports and my dad would always go to the games and cheer for them. He also played on city baseball teams every summer that I can remember.

I never played sports again after a few years of t-ball but I always hung on to the baseball glove my dad bought me. It brought back good memories of playing catch with my dad and even when I was young I knew how much it meant to him to buy it for me.

My dad died when I was 20. I miss him so much. He never got to meet his grandkids. My kids would have loved him. I don't have many tangible reminders of him anymore but I still have that glove and it still makes me smile every time I see it. I always kind of thought that maybe I'd pass it on to one of my kids if they were lucky enough to inherit my dads amazing athletic ability. Unfortunately baseball has never been something my boys have been interested in so the glove stays in my memory box where I can get it out and look at it when I miss my dad. The color has faded and it's not as soft as it once was, but it's a priceless heirloom to me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The little vegetable that could

Look at me, I actually followed through on the photo challenge for two whole days! Way to go, Wendy.

Today's pictures come to you from my backyard. Last spring we had big plans to plant a square foot garden in big garden boxes. We bought a square foot gardening books, lots of seeds, I researched it on the internet for weeks and I was super excited about it. Well, then to make a long story short the garden boxes were delayed and didn't get done until the first of July and it kind of derailed our plans a bit because that's kind of late in the year to plant some of the vegetables I was planning on.

I decided to give it a try anyway and I went out there in the 100 degree heat to plant seeds in my new garden boxes. Over the next several weeks I watered it carefully, I checked it every day and the only thing that grew was a few very sad pea plants. We had enough to harvest a side dish for about one person if they weren't too hugry.

I gave up and decided to give it another try this year and I'm going to get out there and plant my seeds in the next few weeks.

A couple of weeks ago I went outside to look at some spring cleanup projects and happened to peek in my garden and lo and behold, there was a little plant peeking up through the dirt, and here's what it looks like today:

I actually can't remember what I even planted there, but it's lettuce, right? Bless it's heart, it survived the hot summer, the frozen winter and decided to pop up its little head in the spring. Whatever it is, I'm sure I planted more just like it in the general area and none of its friends decided to grow. Way to go, little vegetable.  I'm proud of it for hanging in there. :)

I took the picture and then was coming back in the house when I ran into this little guy, which I'm not nearly as proud of. I'm kind of picky about my lawn. I like it green and weed free. I suppose I should be proud of this dandilion for surviving the cloud of chemicals that was sprayed on the lawn to keep it from growing. I'm sure he had to work as hard as his leafy green vegetable friend to grow. Maybe he survived to be a photography prop. That was nice of him. :) I'll apologize to him later when I spray him in his cute yellow face with weed killer. :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

30 day photo challenge

OK, so in an effort to pick up my camera more often I've decided to challenge myself to take at least one picture a day for the next 30 days and post it on my blog.

I can't guarantee that they're going to be good pictures. They might be great pictures shot with my good camera, they might be crappy pictures shot with my cheap point and shoot camera at 10pm when I realize that I forgot to take a picture or they might be pictures shot with my iPhone at the grocery store, who knows. But for 30 days I'm going to take a picture of something and post it here. I'm trying really hard to tap back into the creativity and enthusiasm that I feel I've lost lately. I'm on a personal betterment program. :) I'm taking pictures again, I'm joining the gym, I'm planting a garden, I'm going to read all the books I've been meaning to read but haven't had time for...maybe I'll be a whole new me in 30 days. Or maybe I'll still be the same me but with lots of new pictures and some carrots in my garden. Either way, it will be good.

So here are todays pictures. This afternoon Shawn was playing with Clarissa in the living room and she was begging him to play horse, where she rides on his back. She begs everyone to let her ride around on their back and once you start she won't get off for a really long time, lol. I was having a good time watching them play together so I got out my camera and took a few pictures. There's pretty much nothing I love more than watching Shawn play with our kids. He's a great dad.

Check back tomorrow for day 2!