Saturday, February 27, 2016

Second place!

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

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

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

Here is Josh after his big win today!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

New hair!

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

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



Monday, February 15, 2016


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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Our sweet Clarissa turned seven today! Where has the time gone?! She has been SO excited for her birthday this year! I think she's been counting down since Christmas. Last weekend we had an early celebration and I took her and her best friend Sophia out for a girls day. We got mani/pedis, we went out to lunch and I took them to a pottery painting place and they painted owl piggy banks. We had such a great time! 

This morning she woke up bright and early to open presents. She got a new bike, and then it snowed last night, so it may be a bit before she can use it! She also got a new outfit and some more art supplies, which our house is now overflowing with. She loves art, so I just keep buying her more paints and markers and paper and crafty things. She loves stuff like that. 

She wore her new clothes to school and I curled her hair, which I only do for special occasions and she bounded out the door super excited to take birthday treats to her class. 

I try not to get all emotional on my kids birthdays, but I always do because they just grow up so darn fast. And I especially do on Clarissa's birthday because I can't help but think of her birth mother and what she must go though every year on this day. It's a celebration for us but probably a sad memory for her. I hope that she has found peace and I hope one day I can hug her and thank her. Clarissa is an amazing kid. 

So in honor of Clarissa's 7th birthday, here are seven things I love about her. I can think of about a hundred, but I'll keep it to seven. :) 

1. I love Clarissa's enthusiasm for life. She is so excited to do whatever we're doing. If I ask her if she wants to go to the grocery store with me, she jumps up and down like I invited her to Disneyland, lol. She doesn't care what we're doing, she just wants to be along for the adventure. 

2. I love how loving Clarissa is. She doesn't let anyone leave the house without giving them a hug. She loves to snuggle and she loves hugs. She gives the best hugs ever. 

3. I love that she and I share a love of books. I have been waiting my whole life to share my favorite books with my daughter, and we're finally reaching that point. I have so many things to show her!! 

4. I love how artistic Clarissa is. She is constantly drawing us pictures, painting, and creating things. When she runs out of stuff to paint, she gets extra creative. I noticed that yesterday she painted an empty toilet paper roll. When all else fails, she will also go find rocks in the backyard to paint.  I'm constantly buying her paper, but she goes through it so fast that she's always running out. But lack of supplies doesn't stop her creativity. She finds a way. 

5. I love how girly she is. That has been a constant source of amusement for me since we brought her home. I've always been somewhat of a tomboy, but Clarissa is all girl. She loves clothes, she loves jewelry and she loves anything pink and sparkly. She can put an outfit together better than I can. I love her spunky personality and how she lets it shine.

6. I love what a daddy's girl she is. She runs to greet him when he comes home from work and you can often find them in the kitchen together baking treats on Sunday afternoons. She is so cute with Shawn, she has him wrapped right around her little finger. She has really brought out something sweet in him. 

7. I love how funny Clarissa is. She has a great sense of humor and the best laugh. I love to get her giggling. She is such a happy kid, always in a good mood and always making us laugh. She is sunshine in our house. 

I could go on and on about all the great things about Clarissa. I especially like to share them on this blog because so many of you were here for our whole journey. Remember all those days we waited for her and I wondered what she'd be like? I love to look back on my blog and remember those days. She was loved and hoped for before she was even born. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to raise her and be her mom. I'm excited to watch her grow up, but hopefully not too fast. :) 

Here is a picture I took of her before she left for school this morning. I love her so much! Happy birthday, sweet girl! 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Math update

I'm now about a month into my math class and I'm here to report that maybe, just maybe, I don't hate math as much as I thought I did. This is a major life breakthrough for me! I never ever thought I would change my opinion of math.

When I was growing up, I struggled in every single math class I ever took. I don't really know why, I think I just got behind somewhere and never caught up. It was embarassing for me as a kid. I was SO bad at math. I just didn't get numbers. Give me any other subject and I'm fine, but put numbers in front of me and I panic. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. I barely passed algebra in high school and in fact, I think I flunked a semester of algebra II, so when I was a senior they realized that I was one math credit short of graduation so they put me in a super dumb business math class for people who needed a math credit and can't math. We basically learned how to balance a checkbook all semester, which even I can do, and the textbook had all the answers in it, so you basically couldn't fail. That is how I got through math in high school.

When I went to college the first time, back when I was 18, I was terrified of having to take a math class. I did a year of college and purposely didn't take math because I knew I wouldn't be able to pass it. But if I had gone back for my second year, I would have had no choice but to take it. I dropped out before that happened.

All through my adult years I have avoided math whenever possible. I can balance my checkbook and take care of our finances, but beyond that, I don't math. Fortunately I married someone who is awesome at math, so on the rare occasion I have to figure out something more complicated than addition and subtraction, I make him do it for me. I feel like my fear of numbers has been this big shameful secret my whole life. I panic whenever I have to figure out a math problem. I avoid it like the plague.

So when I decided to go back to college, I knew that math was going to be my biggest hurdle. I've looked over the classes I'm going to have to take and most of them look awesome, I'm actually really excited about school. But I knew math was going to be a major problem.

I signed up for this year long reintroduction to college program mostly because the school discounts my future tuition if I take it. If I jump through their hoops for a year, I can get a big discount on my bachelors degree, which is what is making going back to college finacially feasible for me. I didn't particularly want to do this program, but it felt like the only way to make college work for me, so I decided to just tolerate it.

But it turns out that it's the best thing I could have done. The classes we have to take this year we designed to reintroduce us to school, so they start out really basic. Last semester was a little bit too basic for me and I was a little bored, but this math class is the best thing that could have happened to me. It literally started us over with elementary school math. They teach this class like you've never taken a math class in your life. Which is basically where I feel like I'm at, to be honest. We started with addition, subtraction and times tables, like 3rd graders. It's moving along pretty quickly, but it's retreaching us everything. I've spend the last two weeks learning how to work with fractions. We added, subtracted, multiplied and divided them, we reduced them, we made story problems with them, we turned them into percentages, I FINALLY, for the first time in my life, completely understand fractions. I can pass a test on fractions like a champ. It's like a miracle.

And now we've moved on to exponents and order of operations. This morning I practiced solving multi-step problems. Matthew is home sick from school today and he had to come in and help me work through a few of them when I had a question (he just has a cold, I didn't drag him in here off his deathbed or anything) , but I GET it! And not only do I get it, I almost sort of like it!! I can sit down with a worksheet full of numbers now and not panic. Sometimes I'm a little slow still, but I can actually do it! And not only that, but I'm sort of excited to see what we get to do next. Now that I get it, I want to learn more. I figured that the most I could hope for was to simply tolerate this class. I hoped I could at least pass it and just get it over with so I could move on. I didn't think there was any chance that I would actually enjoy it. But the more it goes on, the more I have to admit, I almost sort of like it! I like math? How is that possible?!

Because I have spent my entire life feeling like my fear of math was a big embarassing secret, finally learning how to do it and getting over that is a gigantic relief. You have no idea how great it feels to be doing this and actually understanding it. I realize that I'm literally bragging about knowing how to do middle school math, and I know that sounds completely ridiculous, because I'm only doing somthing that I should have already known how to do anyway, but I couldn't do it before and now I can and that is huge for me. I was convinced my entire life that I couldn't learn math and at 40 years old I have proven to myself that I can.

As far as I understand at this point, this is the only math class I will have to take to get my associates degree and for my bachelors degree the only math class I have seen on the list is a social statistics class that actually sounds sort of interesting. So I don't think I have to take much math past this class. But I am really grateful to this class for giving me the opportunity to start over and finally learn basic math. I'm confident now that by the end of this semester even algebra won't be scary to me anymore. I don't have to spend the rest of my life embarassed and avoiding math. I can actually DO it!