Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year In Review

Now that the new year is upon us, I thought I would reflect a little on what has happened over the past year.

If you've been around my blog for a while, you know I always like to give our years some sort of a theme or a title. Usually I can sum up the year in one word. But looking back on this year, I'm not exactly sure what stands out, except that this was the year we were really really busy!! Maybe I could sum it up by calling it the year of growth. I think everyone in the family had a lot of personal growth this year. 

For Shawn it was his promotion at work. Last January Shawn was promoted at work and now he's the boss. This year has a been a bit of a struggle for him as he's had to make a lot of changes at work and deal with some difficult situations, but he has learned and grown so much from it. He's really good at his job and I'm proud of him for how hard he works. He's really had to stretch himself this year to deal with all the work changes, but he has done a great job. 

For me the defining moment of this year was definitely going back to school. That has been a huge thing for me. So far the classes aren't hard, but just being brave enough to give it a try was hard for me. My self confidence has grown leaps and bounds as I have realized that I really can do this. Deciding to go back to school was the first step in finally completing a goal I set for myself over 20 years ago. I'm finally doing the thing I always wanted to do, and that's huge for me. It's scary and it's overwhelming and it's requiring me to step way out of my comfort zone, but I'm doing it and I'm proud of me. :) 

For Josh I feel like I could write ten pages on how he has grown this year. That kid is going places. He's getting straight A's in a very difficult academic program, he's the editor of the yearbook, he is competing on his schools academic decathalon team, he made a fantastic National History Day documentary that he's excited to enter into the competition in February, He's finishing his Eagle Scout project, he's doing volunteer work for the Leo Club, (which is the junior Lions club), and he was one of 15 kids in the country chosen to go to France this summer to study WWII. And when he's not busy with all of that, he has a fantastic group of friends and he has a very active social life. I feel like I don't see much of him these days, but he's spending his time doing great things and I'm so excited to see where it all takes him in the future. He has big plans and I have no doubt that he'll accomplish whatever he sets out to do. 

This year has been a fun year for Matthew. I have seen amazing growth in his piano skills!! A year and a half ago he couldn't play anything and now he's performing for people every chance he gets and he even wrote an original song. My mom and stepdad left the country 18 months ago to do missionary work. When they left he hadn't started piano lessons yet. They just got back from Malaysia two weeks ago and are now living back in my hometown, and Matthew is getting ready to play the piano for their church congregation next week. They haven't heard him play yet, so he's really excited to perform for them. Matthew turns 13 this coming year and we'll have another teenager in the house!! Speaking of a year of growth, Matthew's doing a lot of physical growing these days. He's starting to hit the crazy growth spurts and all those surprising changes that come along with puberty. He would hate that I just said puberty. Sorry Matthew. :) 

Clarissa is making great strides academically this year. She has really started reading and has discovered that she loves books! Which I'm super excited about because I only have about a hundred books that I've been waiting for decades to share with a daughter. We're going to have so much fun delving into the Ramona books and Pippi Longstocking and all the other awesome books my boys never wanted to read! She also started tap and ballet this year, which she has really enjoyed! I have enjoyed watching her learn and grow so much. She's so creative and artistic and I have really enjoyed watching that develop. I can't believe how fast she's growing up. It still feels like yesterday that we were waiting for that referral call.

This year was also the year of the vacations. Shawn and I went to Mexico to celebrate my 40th birthday and we took a really fun family vacation to Oregon. I put my feet in the ocean twice this year! When you live in Idaho, that doesn't happen very often!

So overall, I would say this was an extremely busy year of growth and new adventures for our family. i will look back in it as a good year. We managed to get through it with no major traumas or crisis and we all learned and grew from our adventures.

So goodbye to 2015. I will remember it with fondness and I'm excited for all the adventures to greet us in the coming year.

Happy new year to all my blog readers. Thanks for checking in with me. :)  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Passports and driving and blood drives, oh my!

Life is busy at our house these days! We had a really great Christmas and had some time to relax and spend time together, but I feel like we're back in busy mode again already. 

Last night we got to do a really fun thing! Shawn bought me tickets to the So You Think You Can Dance tour and we got to go last night. I never watched that show before this season, but this season I watched because one of the contestants, Jim, is the son of one of my internet friends. Jim is a Korean adoptee and an absolutely AMAZING dancer. Seriously, the best. I could watch him dance all day. If you've never seen him dance, Google him, he's fantastic. I've known his mom for several years through an online Korean adoption group. So I turned into the show this season to watch him dance and cheer him on. He came really close to winning and he got to be part of the tour that the top 10 contestants get to do, so last night we went. And when Jim's mom found out that we were going, she asked him to get us meet and greet tickets! So last night we went to the show and then got to mingle with the dancers after the show and we got to meet Jim. He's even cooler in person, it was a really fun experience! 

Then today Shawn had the day off and we decided that we'd better get started on Josh's passport so he can go to France! I still can't believe that kid is going to France. We needed to get it done today because his acceptance paperwork has to be submitted in a few days and we have to have proof that he either has a passport or is in the process of getting one, but trying to find a passport office that is open and taking appointments during the Christmas holiday was trickier than we thought. We called around and decided that our best bet was to drive to the next county to do it. So we took a drive today to get the paperwork done. 

When we finished up at the office, Shawn suggested that Josh drive home. Josh has had his learners permit for about six months and can actually get his licence now, but he's supposed to do 50 hours of supervised driving with his parents first, and he doesn't have all the hours in. So he decided to drive the half hour home. On the backroads, because I'm too chicken to drive with him on the interstate! Josh actually is a pretty good driver. He's cautious and follows the rules. He does fine, I'm the problem lol! I am a huge chicken about driving with him. It gives me the same feeling that flying on an airplane does. Just a complete lack of control of the situation and like my life might end at any moment, lol. And again, Josh drives fine! It's not him, it's just me. And I don't like to drive with him because I'm afraid I make him nervous. I try to stay calm, but new drivers have no defensive skills and driving is just sort of scary. I don't really even like to drive myself all that much. 

But Josh drove us home today and he did absolutely fine. I survived, no one crashed the car or had a panic attack and it was all good. I'm proud of Josh for being a good driver and I'm proud of me for not being a big baby about it, lol. 

But while he was driving, I had a moment. When Josh was a toddler, before Matthew was born, I used to take him to the library several times a week for story time and just to get out of the house. There are a few libararies not too far from us, but I liked one a little farther out because it had a good story time lady. So I used to drive out to the library on one of the backroads with Josh all the time. And to this day, any time I drive down that road, it reminds me of when I used to take Josh to the library.

Well, today Josh drove ME down that road. That little boy I used to drive to story time is now driving me. And I had a moment where I realized this and saw how all the years had flown by and if he hadn't been driving at the time I think I would have hugged him and sobbed about all this growing up he's doing lately. Where did that little boy go? I swear I was just buying him Thomas trains and washing his ratty old blankie yesterday. At least it FEELS like yesterday! Now he's practically six feet tall, driving cars, going to France, talking about college and my sweet little boy feels all grown up! I'm so excited for him and SO sad at the same time. No one tells you about this part of parenting. Everyone tells you about the first part. The baby years, the toddler tantrums, all of those things. But no one tells you that one day you're going to be driving down the road and realize that the little boy in the backseat is now driving the car and that it's going to break your heart a little bit. I'm not ready to see my kids grow up. I'm not ready for this part yet. For a little second I wanted to cancel the passport and make him get out of the drivers seat and make him be little again. But unfortunately life doesn't work that way. Time moves on and your babies grow up. And truthfully, it's kind of amazing to watch. But it hurts a little bit too. 

And one more sign of growing up is that he's also right in the middle of his Eagle Scout project. He's putting together a Red Cross blood drive. It seemed easy enough when we came up with the idea, but wow, it's been a huge undertaking. He has signed up 95 people to give blood on January 9th and he's working on getting food donations and other things organized for the day of the drive. It's a huge job and it's really keeping him busy right now. I'm proud of how he's really stepped up and he's doing great leading a large committee of people to get this thing going, but I think we're all going to be glad when it's over. It's taking up a lot of his time right now. 

So that's what's going on in the life of being the parent of a teenager right now. People always talk about the teenager years like they're terrible, but I have actually loved raising a teenager. Despite the terror of driving with him and the sadness I feel about how fast it's all going by, so far the teenage years have been my favorite part of parenting. He's a great kid, he makes it easy. 

But I'm still not all that excited about getting back into the car with him. :) 

Friday, December 18, 2015

One down, a whole bunch more to go!

I am happy to report that I have officially completed a semester of college. Yay me!!! It was only two classes and they were ridiculously easy, but I did it, I got A's in both class and I'm feeling pretty good about myself today. :) Going back to college is something I've always wanted to do and never thought I could. So having one semester behind me, even an easy one with only five credits, feels like a major accomplishment.

I'm off for a few blissful weeks for Christmas and then I start a new semester in January. It will just be two classes again, a math class (eek!) and a religion class. Then I have one more semester of this slow track next summer and I can finally be done with this part and start the full time program next fall. I still have years of school ahead of me, but I have proven to myself this semester that I'm not too old to learn and I have more confidence in my ability to keep going. I can do this! :)

In other news, It has been a week of Clarissa performances! Wednesday night she we got to watch her  sing Christmas songs with her class in a really cute school Christmas program. Then last night was her dance recital. She has been taking tap and ballet from a teenage girl down the street this year and she really loves it. They had a really cute recital last night. It was fun to see what she has learned. I can't believe she is going to be seven in February! Time is flying by so quickly! She's doing great, she's loving school, she's joined at the hip with her adorable best friend and she's counting down the days until Christmas! I sure do love her! Here's a picture of her at her Christmas program!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Vive La France!!

JOSH IS GOING TO FRANCE!!! We got the call a few days ago but they told us not to mention it because they were still notifying people. It's been killing me to keep the secret! :) But this morning we got the acceptance paperwork and they told us it was OK to share the news, so here I am!

So in case you missed the previous post, a couple of months ago Josh was approached by one of his teachers to apply for the Normandy Institute program. It's through the National History Day organization. Every year they take 15 student teacher teams on a two week trip to France to study WWII history. It was a big application process and we had no idea if he even had a chance. But a few days ago he got the call! He's going to France! He's over the moon excited. It's major news in our family! :)

It's all expenses paid for two weeks in June. They things they get to do there sound amazing! I'm am SO excited for him that he has this opportunity! If you're interested, here's a video about last years group and what they do there. I can't believe he's actually going!! YAY!!!