Thursday, January 30, 2014

Buy all the books!!

Ok, so the January blah's have hit. Ugh. I'm in fake it till you make it mode. I need sunshine.

But in an attempt to shake the blah's, we took a family trip to the bookstore last night. Nothing cheers me up like a room full of books. The boys got Barnes and Noble gift cards from my mom and stepdad for Christmas this year, so we decided to take them on a little spending spree with their money.

What I realized immediately is that we don't go to bookstores and libraries nearly enough, which I'm ashamed to admit. For someone who loves big rooms of books as much as I do, it's weird that I don't spend more time there. Our house is full of books and someone is always reading something,  but most of the time it's easier just to order them from Amazon or get the digital version for our plethora of Kindle capable devices. I'm a big fan of Kindle books. I should be taking my kids on weekly trips to the library, but they have school libraries and we can check out e-books from home and we always have books available, so it just never happens.

But last night at the bookstore was pretty awesome. Josh likes to read fine, he reads a lot of books for school but it's not his favorite thing to do for pleasure, but Matthew is my book reading kid. Matthew inherited my crazy love of books. Matthew is the kid who will read all afternoon and then lay in bed at night and read until someone finally comes and forces him to turn off the light. Matthew walked into that bookstore last night and literally gasped. And my heart melted because it's exactly what I do when entering a big room full of books. That is my child.:)

We went over to his age appropriate book section and I told him he had $30 to spend and to have fun choosing. I thought he was literally going to die from excitement right there on the floor. He looked like he just wanted to inhale all the books. I know that feeling. Seeing that same reaction in him made my heart smile. It's not like the kid never gets to pick out books. He goes to the school library once a week. He picks out books all the time. But getting to buy books at the bookstore is way more fun. It's a book lover thing.

Josh wandered off to find a book for a book report, Shawn looked at books with Clarissa and I got to help Matthew narrow down the choices for his books. Hanging out with a fellow book lover at a bookstore is kind of the best thing ever. We looked all all sorts of books, looked at prices to find the most bang for his buck and had a grand time. He finally picked three books and I left him to go help Clarissa for a minute.

A few minutes later Matthew came running over all excited that he had found the shelf with one of his favorite book series and he was so excited he could barely get the words out. Then I remembered that he still had $10 that he had gotten from Shawn's dad for Christmas. I told him to go pick out another book. I think his head almost exploded from the excitement, lol. Shawn and I got a good chuckle out of his enthusiasm. You would have thought that kid had never seen a book before for as excited as he was at the bookstore. I loved it because it was like watching myself as a kid. I used to constantly beg my mother to buy more books. Getting the Scholastic book order form was like Christmas. I would spend hours examining it and picking out the perfect books. When I was about Matthews age I spent a weekend developing a card catalog system for all my books on the shelves in my room. Nerd alert. :)

So we all had a fun time picking out books. Spending the evening at the bookstore was the perfect family activity with the kids and a nice way to break up the January blah's.

We got home and Matthew immediately started reading. I don't think I'm going to see much of that kid for a while. Not without a book in his face, anyway.

I got a Korean novel that has been translated into English called Please Look After Mom that looks interesting. I think I'm going to bury my own nose in a book today. Maybe I can read away the January blah's. February is almost here! Yay! :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The B

So we had a teenage trauma this week.  The semester was over on Friday and Josh's lifetime streak of straight A's came to an end. He got a B in honors science. And he was crushed.

Josh is a type A personality to the extreme. He lives by schedules and checklists. He is organized and responsible and an overachiever. He's been that way pretty much since birth. He used to make little checklists and to-do lists for his day when he was in kindergarten. Sometimes when I'm super busy I have him make to-do lists for me. He's the best personal assistant ever. :)  When he grows up he wants to be an actuary because it's a math based career full of charts and checklists and statistics. That's Josh in a nutshell.

So part of being a overachieving type A personality is getting straight A's. He's been a straight A student since...always. When it comes to school I almost never have to get on him about assignments or homework. He's got it covered. If there is a book report due next month he reads the book in the first four days it's assigned, does the report and has it turned in by the end of the first week. Procrastination is not a concept he grasps, lol. (He didn't get that from me, by the way. I practically invented procrastination. Josh is a mystery to me, lol.)

So anyway, this year he's in three honors classes. English, math and science. He's been doing great in all three, he loves them. I check his grades online periodically and they're always A's. He had a goal of getting all the way through middle school and high school with straight A's.

Then this week came along. The last week of the semester. He was assigned a big project in honors science that was worth 100 points, which was the biggest project of the semester. 100 points had the ability to shift his grade an entire letter grade. It was a big deal.

And somehow, I'm still not really sure what happened, he messed up the project. The kid who follows directions better than anyone I've ever known didn't understand the project, or left something off or something. He made a mistake, something catastrophic happened and he got a D on the project. And it dropped his final grade from an A to a B. He panicked and went and talked to the teacher and offered to do an extra credit assignment, but in honors classes there aren't a lot of do-over. The B stands.

Let me be clear, I'm totally cool with a B. I know how hard that kid works. My biggest worry about him is that he works too hard sometimes and forgets how to be a kid. There's nothing wrong with a B. We do push out kids to do their best when it comes to academics, but we don't demand perfection. If they try their hardest, I'm good with whatever the outcome is. And I know that over the semester be tried hard. It was just that one project that somehow failed. It happens, it's OK.

But it's not OK to him and the poor kid was crushed. I felt so bad for him on Friday when he realized that there was nothing he could do to fix it. He ended the semester with all A's except for that one B. He looked so defeated when he came home. It was one of those moments as a parent where I just wanted to fix it for him. Call and beg the teacher for extra credit or something.  But I didn't because I don't work that way and I try to teach my kids that actions have consequences and he legitimately did earn the low grade on the project.

I gave him one of my famous mom pep talks about how in life we can't be expect ourselves to be perfect all the time and all we can do is learn and move on and not be so hard on ourselves. I was careful not to make him feel bad because he already feels bad. It was a hard moment as a parent.

He was pretty mopey so Friday night we bought ice cream and toppings and made gigantic ice cream sundaes and watched The Middle because it makes him laugh. Only for that kid would I have ice cream sundae night for a D on a project and a lower than expected grade in a class, lol. I would normally not celebrate a D on an assignment but with that kid sometimes the best thing I can do for him is to help him cut himself some slack and relax. One bad grade isn't the end of the world. Knowing him he'll just work that much harder next semester.

So that's what's been happening around here this weekend. It's Sunday and he's still a bit mopey. I'm giving him the weekend to mope about it and tomorrow it's time to pull it together and go back in there to start second semester. He'll be fine once he gets busy with his new classes.

There is only one week left in January. We're in the final stretch. It's cold, it's grey, it's starting to wear on me like January always does, but it's almost over. I did good this year. Soon we'll be moving on to February and we'll be celebrating Clarissa's birthday (she'll be five, can you believe it?!) and Valentines Day, which always makes me happy. Good things are ahead. I can't wait! :)

Monday, January 20, 2014


It's January 20th and I'm still pushing through January without my usual January meltdown. We're headed into the home stretch, I think I'm going to make it. :)

I have a few things to discuss today. 

First of all, the new basement TV room has been life changing. Our kids have friends over almost every day now and I'm loving it! I have always wanted to have the kind of house where all my kids friends congregate. I always imagined that when we had teenagers we'd have a house full of our kids friends. I want that. I want our house to be a place where kids can come to hang out. But up until now it really hasn't been that way. The boys had friends over occasionally but not very often and there was never a good place to hang out that wasn't right in the middle of everything. 

Now with the basement room finished kids are in and out of here all the time. The boys are asking to invite friends over almost every day and kids are calling and asking to come over. They love it because it's a nice space with a big TV for video games and hanging out and I love it because all the noise and chaos is contained in the basement. I also get a chance to get to know my kids friends better and keep an ear on what's happening. It's better than always sending them somewhere else and never knowing what's going on. It's working out really great. The kids are home today because of the holiday and there have been friends down there all day. 

Second, my mom and stepdad came over on Friday and spent the night while my stepdad had meetings in town. It was fun to see them and spend some time with my mom. We don't see them all that often, so it's always nice when we get to spend some time with them.

Third, I have a fingernail update. I haven't posted nail polish photos in a while because after a year and a half of having awesome fingernails, they've been giving me problems lately. They keep breaking and peeling and won't grow like they were before. I think I overstressed them with way too much polish and acetone. Nail polish is pretty, but it can't really be good for your nails, especially for as often as I was changing polish colors. 

So for the past couple of months I've been trying to get my nails to grow again. I cut them all off and started over but they have been breaking and chipping before they could get very long. I decided to give nail polish a break, but that didn't help and I almost can't stand to have unpolished nails anymore. It feels weird! 

So I decided to look into gel polish. In case you're not completely obsessed with nail polish like I am and don't know about gel polish, let me tell you all about it. :) It's special nail polish that is cured under a UV light, which bonds it to your nail and lasts for weeks without chipping. I've known about it for a while but I was never interested before because I love changing the polish on my nails so much that I never understood why anyone would want the same color on their nails for weeks at a time. I get bored after about two days and I love repainting my nails all the time. Which is probably why my nails are all messed up, lol. 

But I finally decided that maybe gel polish would be good for now to protect my nails and keep them pretty while giving them a bit of a break from constant polish changes. 

You can get them done at most salons but I don't really like having my nails done. I'd rather do them myself. So I researched the UV lights and all the supplies and on Saturday I went down to Sally Beauty Supply and bought all the stuff I need to do gel nails at home. It's a bit expensive to get started, but I figured if the results are good it would be worth it.

So I spent all Saturday afternoon giving myself a gel manicure. It's a bit time consuming. It requires a special base coat, two coats of polish and a special top coat, which all have to be cured under the light after each step. It's also a bit trickier putting the polish on because once it's been cured, mistakes can't be cleaned up. If you accidentally get some polish on your cuticle, it doesn't easily come off. 

So I went slow and followed all the directions and when it was all done I was super happy with the results! It's shiny and pretty and I can tell that it's going to stay on for a while. Regular nail polish starts chipping after a few days. This stuff is supposed to look like new for a few weeks. I'm on day three and so far so good. Hopefully it will protect my nails so they can grow. I've missed my long nails! 

Here's a photo of the results: 


Not bad for my first try! I'm loving the color. If I have to wear the same color for a few weeks at a time, this is a color I won't get tired of. 

So things are going good here. I'm surviving January, my basement is full of neighbor kids, my fingernail crisis has been averted and it's all good at our house! :) 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


The calendar may say January, but the sun didn't get the memo, because it was a beautifully sunny day today. January is half over and the January funk hasn't set in. I think by some miracle I may actually make it through January this year without wanting to pull the covers over my head and never come out! Yay!

Today I was feeling so good I decided to take Clarissa to a movie. Pretty much ever since I knew we were going to be adopting a girl (which was like, seven years ago, by the way. Mind blown.) I have imagined having a daughter that I could do fun girl bonding activities with. I absolute adore my boys and I love doing fun things with them, but Shawn and the boys have their fun boy activities that they do together and I have dreamed of having a daughter to do girl things with.

Today that dream finally came true! Clarissa will be five in a few weeks and she's finally getting past that crazy toddler stage and is becoming so much more fun to take places. It used to be a pain to take her to the movies. She's a high energy kid and sitting quietly isn't usually her strong suit. But now that she's getting older I decided to give it another try. Everyone has been talking about the movie Frozen and Clarissa is super into anything princess related, so I knew if there was any hope of her sitting happily through a movie, this would be the one.

So while the boys were at school I decided the two of us would go off for some girly fun and we went to see Frozen. I don't usually get super excited about Disney movies, but I've heard how good this one is and I've been really looking forward to it. It didn't disappoint! I absolutely loved it! Clarissa did awesome, she sat happily through the whole thing, laughed at the funny parts and really seemed to enjoy it. It's a sweet story about sisters. I like that Disney isn't all about princesses being rescued by their princes these days. This was a sweet movie about love saving the day, but it was about sisterly love, not about a girl being saved by her prince. The end made me cry because I have sister issues. Plus, I'm a big baby and everything makes me cry.

But I loved the movie, I loved spending the afternoon doing something girly with Clarissa and I loved that the sun was out today and it made me forget that it was January. All in all, a pretty awesome day. :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Josh's video!!

Here it is, the debut of Josh's video. Feel free to vote if you want. You can vote 10 times a day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mission accomplished

I've been getting stuff done these past couple of days. So far dreaded January is actually going quite smoothly and I feel like I'm crossing things off my to-do list, which always feels nice.

I did some reorganizing of my closet yesterday, which has been on my list for a while. I filled a whole garbage bag full of clothes to donate. That project was overdue.

Today I got Josh and Clarissa's applications submitted for their lottery schools for next year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they both get in. This is kind of a big deal to us, and it's going to be a huge bummer if either of them don't get in. We'll find out in February.

Today we also finished filming Josh's anti-drinking PSA. He has been trying to track down a police officer for one scene and he finally managed to get his school police officer to help today. Josh got permission to get out of class and I went over there to run the camera. It actually went really well. The police officer was really nice and turned on his police car lights and we filmed him fake arresting one of Josh's friends for having alcohol in his backpack. He handcuffed his friend and put him in the back of the police car and then let Josh sit back there. It was kind of entertaining for them to experience that. I told Josh that had better be his first and last time in the back of a police car, lol.

So the filming of the video is officially complete and now Josh just has to get it edited and submitted. I'll post the video once it's submitted. I'm pretty proud of him, he has worked hard on it and it's been nice to see it come together the way he wanted it to.

So so far it looks like January is off to a nice start. I may survive this long dark month after all! :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Well, our two weeks of fun are pretty much over. Everyone goes back to school and work on Monday. Shawn actually thought he had to work today (he only works occasional Saturdays) but he got all the way over there and found out that he had his schedule wrong and another pharmacist was working. Oops! So we got another day home with him, which made us happy.

Today I've been helping Josh with a big project. He's entering a video contest about underage drinking. He has to make a PSA commercial about why he chooses not to drink. The concept he came up with is great but it's been a bit difficult to pull it all together. We filmed the majority of it yesterday and he edited it this morning. He needs to film one more scene, but it's the trickiest one because it involves getting a police officer involved and we've had a hard time tracking one down who can help us. His school resource officer will do it, but he'll have to wait until next week and we were hoping to get it done earlier. He still has time though, so it will be fine.

What he has done so far has been pretty great though, he really loves the editing process especially. I love that sort of thing too and I love that he and I share so many interests. We both like techy computer projects and we had a fun time today working on voice overs and editing audio clips. I could spend all day blissfully playing with stuff like that and so could he. We figured out how to take the background noise out of the dialog in the video and he recorded a voice over that came out really great. We were both super excited about it, it was a fun afternoon.

Everyone always talks about how stressful it is to raise teenagers, and I know I still have a lot of teenage raising ahead of me, but so far I actually enjoy my kids more and more the older they get. Josh will be 14 in May and so far we're not going through a lot of teenage drama. He's actually quite enjoyable to hang out with!

(I promise to go back and read this post and remind myself that I said that when I have a particularly stressful teenage parenting day, lol.)

So now that our Christmas vacation is wrapping up, it's time for me to start looking ahead at what is coming up in the next few weeks. It's officially January and if you know me, you know that I hate January. I'm determined to power through it and not hate it this year, but I always say that and I usually still hate it, lol. I'm busy this month though, so maybe I'll make it through it this year.

The first thing I have to do when school is back in session is get the lottery process started for Josh and Clarissa's schools next year. School around here is a weird thing. We are really really lucky to have some awesome public schools in our area and we have several choices as to where to send our kids, but the specialized schools work on the lottery system. The elementary school that Josh and Matthew have gone to is a technology magnet. It's a great school and the kids have loved it there but you have to apply and get in through a lottery process and with Clarissa starting Kindergarten in the fall, we've hit the application time.

It's kind of ridiculous that I'm stressed out about getting my kid into a good Kindergarten. I'm even applying to a back up lottery school if my first choice falls through. School was much simpler when I was a kid, lol.

We're also entering the lottery process for the high school Josh wants to go to next year. We have an amazing public high school available to us that if he gets in will allow him to get his high school diploma and his college associates degree at the same time. When he graduates high school he will have already completed two years of college. It's a small school full of all honor kids who love school the way Josh does. It's a great opportunity for him and he really wants to go. I'm just crossing my fingers that he gets in. You have to meet certain requirements to apply, which he meets, but then it's a lottery to get in. The application process starts Monday for both Josh and Clarissa's schools and the lotteries happen in February. They basically pull names out of a box and you just have to hope they pull yours.

Matthew is the only one I don't have to worry about next year. He will be attending the same middle school that Josh currently goes to, which is just our regular neighborhood school, so there is no application process. With all three kids moving up to new schools next year, it's going to be a crazy time!

The other fun thing I'm looking forward to this month is that I'm having an Heirs viewing with two friends in our new basement TV room! I've convinced two friends to watch it with me. We're planning to get together several times in January and watch the whole series. I'm still in Heirs withdrawal mode, so I'm excited to watch it again!

So with video editing, school lotteries and Heirs viewing parties on my mind, I'm going to push through January. I've got things to look forward to. I'm going to beat January this year. :)