Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Update

I'm not even sure if anyone is reading my blog anymore. I know I've kind of dropped the ball on it. Life got crazy.

But I wanted to update you on something important, although I apologize that it will be a little vague and short. We have been communicating with our adoption agency recently and we have had the opportunity to open Clarissa's adoption. Her birth family contacted the Korean agency a couple of months ago and requested contact and we have agreed. As much as you all know that I'm long winded and can't give a short explaination about anything, this one will be short, because I'm tying to protect the privacy of everyone involved. 

Basically, due to some complicated circumstances (that are all fine and good, just complicated), I am communicating with Clarissa's birth aunt, not her birth mother. The agency has decided that this is an acceptable situation, and we have agreed, so they have backed out of it and I am communicating directly by email with Clarissa's aunt, who speaks English. We have received a few photos of her birth mother and we are slowly getting to know each other. 

Right now it's pretty much just me and the aunt in email, and it will remain that way for the time being. Clarissa knows, her birth mother knows, but right now it's just me and the aunt having some conversations and getting to know each other. 

It's a sensitive situation for all involved and opening an adoption 8 years in comes with some adjustment, but I'm grateful for this opportunity, and we are starting very slow and seeing where it goes. I will probably not mention much more about it, because at this point, it's Clarissa's story to tell, not mine, and it's important to me to protect her privacy. 

I will say that this is extremely rare are hardly ever happens. The official situation in Korean adoptions is that they're all closed until the child turns 18, at which time, if they choose, the agency will open their files and help them try to contact the birth parents, but more often than not it's unsuccessful. Having an option Korean adoption while the child is still young is pretty rare, and is basically just handled on a case by case basis when it comes up. So here we are. 

I could go on for pages about this to be honest, and I'm holding myself back from saying all the things I really want to say because I really do want to maintain everyone's privacy and this just doesn't feel like something to share publicly. But needless to say, there are lots of emotions happening, some questions have been answered and we're all still getting used to this new development. I'm grateful for this opportunity. I have always said that one day I wanted to hug the woman who gave my child life and tell her thank you, and now I know that there is a possibility of that actually happening. An in-person meeting is likely eventually, but not for a while. But we're all open to it when Clarissa is older and decides she's ready. 

Until then, we are getting to know each other and we're grateful for the things we've learned and the connections we've made. I have always said that adotion is both beautiful and heartbreaking, and both of those things have never been more true to me than the are right now. It's been an emotional few weeks.

So there is that story. I'm sorry it's vague. Maybe some day Clarissa will want to tell the story in her own words. But for now, I'm just feeling really grateful for all the love she has in her life. She is loved by a birth family, by a foster family, and is so loved by our family. There's no bigger blessing in life than the love of family. 

Here are some photos I took of her yesterday. I love this girl with all my heart. 

Disney

clarissa1


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Victory!

It's a big day at our house for two reasons.

First of all, Josh ran for senior class president last week and found out today that he won! I still can't believe he's going to be a senior next year, but if it's happening, I'm really excited that he gets to be the president!  Big things are happening for that kid!

The second piece of news that happened today is that I got my Associate degree in the mail!!! I have a college degree!!! I'm currently working on my bachelors, so I technically don't really need my associates, but I realized recently that I had met the requirements for it so I decided to go ahead and apply for it. It won't do much for me, it's more of a personal milestone. I have lived the past twenty something years feeling bad about myself that I never got a college degree, and the more years passed by, the more certain I was that it was never going to happen. But today I took that diploma out of the envelope and held it in my hands. I officially have a college degree. Granted, a little one that won't do much for me professionally, but it's a huge milestone in my life that for a long time I thought I'd never reach. So I'm feeling pretty great today. It's a little stepping stone on the way to bigger things. It's a reminder to me that I'm getting somewhere and that I can really do this. I'm proud of me.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we haven't heard anything from Clarissa's birth mother yet. I'll keep you posted.

I'll be back later with more stuff, but I wanted to make sure I documented our exciting day! :)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I'm back!

I feel so bad that my blog has been neglected. Over the past several years this blog has been a lifeline to me. I needed a place to write things down, sort out my thoughts and record our family's moments, and I have loved it. I still love it, I just never seem to have the time to sit down and write anything anymore that isn't being turned in for a grade. So my blog sits abandoned and it makes me sad.

So I'm here today to update. I have tried to update a few times over the past couple of months, but I have so many things to discuss that I never have time to finish a post. So I will try again. Here is an update on my life.

Winter semester ended two weeks ago. The fact that I pretty much didn't make a single blog post the entire semester should tell you how things went, lol. I was SO busy! I took 14 credits, which was the most I've ever attempted at once. I know that's not a crazy high amount for a college student, but it was a lot for me. I am proud to say that I ended the semester with straight A's, but not without a lot of work and a few breakdowns along the way!

The biggest news from last semester was my stats class. I have feared stats pretty much since I started college at 18. All I've ever heard about it is that it's hard. And everyone was right, it is! I went into that classs just hoping not to fail. Then they put us in manditory study groups and I grumbled about that because online meetings are such a pain. We had to meet twice a week in Google Hangouts for at least an hour to do some assignments as a group. At the beginning of the semester the idea of two long online meetings a week was pretty much my worst nightmare. Then I met my study group. It was three other women who are moms with kids at home like me, all marriage and family study majors, all scared of stats and hoping not to fail. I scored the BEST online study group I could ever have hoped for. Over the semester we spent a ton of time together in online meetings and group texts. We started out learning stats together because we had to, and by the end of the semester we were group texting just to check in with each other and discussing life and family. I love those women. I thank my lucky stars that I was forced to study with them. So we kicked butt together in that class. We spent a ton of time in our meetings learning together, supporting each other, teaching each other, and getting through all the hard parts as a team. I could never have passed that class without them. We celebrated our successes together, cheered each other on when it got hard and in the end, all four of us got A's in the class. I love those women. Because we're all in the same major, we got together and discussed what else we can take together, so this semester I'm in a class with one of them, I'm doing a short summer class in August with another one, and in the fall all four of us will be back together for another really hard class that we're all dreading and determined to get through together. Those women are such a blessing to me. I have no idea how I would have survived stats without them, and I'm so grateful that I still have them with me going forward.

So in related news, near the end of the semester we got some info from the school about the  internship for our degree. Originally, everyone was expected to do an internship as part of the marriage and family degree. You basically needed to find a job in marriage or family related field for a semester. I've been dreading this. It's a big time commitment for not many credits, so you basically have to take it by itself, which adds a semester to your schooling, and without a degree there's not a whole lot I'd be qualified to do, so I was just planning to see if I could volunteer to do paperwork in a counseling office or something.

But a month or so ago they announced an alternative to internships. You can still do an internship if you want, or you also have the option of taking a certification course from one of a few different options they provided, and that would take the place of the internship. One of the options was to take a seminar from the Gottman Institute on the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage work, and get certified to teach workshops on the book. I just spent last semester studying that book in depth for my marriage class and I'm a huge fan of it. John Gottman wrote the book, and he started the Gottman Institute, which is basically a marriage research and education institute. I've been really interested in eventually training at the Gottman Institute anyway, a lot of therapists doing marriage counseling training there, so when I got the opportunity to skip my internship and take a seminar on my favorite relationship self help book instead, it was a no-brainer. I was on it.

We got the information at the end of March. There was a seminar taking place in Seattle on April 1st. It took me about five seconds to decide that I was packing up and going to Seattle for that seminar! The good news was that one of my awesome stats buddies lives in Seattle and she was totally on board, so we decided to meet up and do it together.

So at the very last minute, right before finals week by the way, we decided to make a family spring break trip out of it, and we jumped in the car and road tripped to Seattle. It was right before finals, so I was swamped with school, I actually got a bad cold in the middle of it that got really bad in the middle of the trip, and we got stuck in a horrible storm going over a mountain pass on the way into Seattle and thought we might die, but we had the best time! We went to the top of the space needle, we watched them throw fish at Pike Market, we went to the pop culture museum, we took a boat ride, and then Shawn entertained the kids for a day while I met up with my stats friend and took a very long all day seminar and got certified to teach classes on the Seven Principles book. I can run workshops on that book now. I don't really have any plans to do that at the moment, but I could if I wanted. But because I did it, I got my internship waived and shaved a whole semester off my bachelors degree. Totally worth it. The seminar was great, I am likely going to be doing more Gottman training in the future. Plus I got to meet my awesome stats friend in person, and she's even more awesome in person!

So after all that craziness, I took my finals, got straight A's, took a glorious week off, and now I'm back at it. The new semester started this week. I'm only taking four classes this semester instead of five, because this semester goes into the summer and it's going to be harder for me to get everything done when my kids are bome and we have summer activities. And frankly, I needed a break. School is good, but it's exhausting. Plus I'm a junior now and I'm getting into the harder classes, and some of the stuff I have coming up is going to be really time consuming and stressful. I'm tying to balance out getting this done as fast as I can with still managing not to burn out and fall apart. It's tricky.

One class I'm taking this semester is more for personal enrichment than academics. I need to take five credits of any elective at some point, so this semester I'm taking a two credit heath and fitness classs. We're basically getting graded on diet and exercise for the next 14 weeks. After sitting in my house doing homework for the past two years, I need this class. I need the motivation to get off my behind and get active again. So I'll be getting my bike out and hopefully doing some fun stuff this semester. I'm looking forward to that.

So things are good with me. I'm busy, occasionally, burned out and exhausted, but I'm hanging in there. Last week my mentor emailed me a copy of the email I sent to him two years ago when I first told him that I had decided to go back to school. He thought I might want to be reminded of how far I've come. The email I sent to him when I started this kept talking about how scared I was of failing and how I wasn't sure if I could do it. I remember being terrrifed of taking the first step and giving this a try. I thought I was going to crash and burn. You guys, I got an A in stats this semester. In fact, I've gotten an A in every single class I have taken since I went back to school. I'm not failing, I'm doing awesome. You have no idea how good that feels!! I remind myself of that every time I want to quit. Which I won't lie, is sometimes a lot, lol.

In family news, Josh went to prom recently. Another milestone in his life, and another moment for me to contimplate how fast this whole parenting thing is flying by. He'll be a senior in the fall. I can't even think about it. In other exciting Josh news, last weekend he won first place in the documentary category at the state National History Day competition for the second year in a row!! He's off to Nationals in Washington DC again in June! Last year Shawn and I had the best time in DC with him, but I think just Shawn is going to go with him this year. I'll be in the middle of the semsester and I just can't get away. But his documentary is awesome and we're excited to see how it does at Nationals!

In Matthew news, he joined the middle school tennis team! We are not exactly a sporty family, so this is kind of our first experience with a kid participating in a sport that isn't academic! He loves it, it's been really fun for him. I'm proud of him for getting out there and giving it a try! We also got him registered for high school recently. He'll be attending the same high school that Josh goes to, which I'm really excited about! We've been really happy with that school and I'm excited to have the boys together at school! They haven't gone to the same school since elementary school, and this will be the last time we ever have two kids at the same school, unless they decide to go to college together or
something.

In Clarissa news, I actually have some big news that should probably be it's own post, and I apologize for burying it at the bottom of this long post, because it's kind of a big deal. We got a call from the adoption agency last week. Her birth mother is asking for contact with us. This almost never ever happens with Korean adoptions. Korean adoptions are closed. We don't even know her birth mothers name. We don't know what this is going to mean yet. Honestly, I haven't even told Clarissa yet, so maybe it's premature to announce it here. What I know now is that last week I wrote a letter to her birth mother, as requested, and I included recent photos of Clarissa. The agency will be send it to Korea, it will be translated for the birth mother and she will have the opportunity to write back, which will be translated to English and sent to us. After that, I don't know. The agency said that it's rare that this happens, so for now it will all go though the agency, but that if things go well, they may connect us directly and back out of it. This is all kind of a tricky, sensitive topic for everyone involved and I don't really have any information yet, so I've kept it kind of quiet until we know more. I decided not to mention it to Clarissa until we receive a letter and I have a better understanding of what the situation is. I'll hopefully hear something in the coming weeks, and I may share the basic story on my blog, because this blog was originally made to tell Clarissa's adoption story, and I'm hoping this is a great postscript to the journey, but given the sensitive nature of it and depending on how Clarissa feels about it, I may not share the details. I'm still waiting to hear. To be honest, it's a lot to process emotionally. I'm happy about it, but it's tricky, and I still don't know where it's going to lead. We'll see. Clarissa is doing great and growing up so fast! She's amazing, I love that kid.

So that's us. We're happy and healthy and busy. I almost hate to blog anymore, because I feel like all I do is come here to announce that we're busy, but...we're busy, lol. Just living life and surviving school and watching the kids grow up far too quickly. Life is good. I'll be back with more hopefully soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winter

So, this winter can pretty much be summed up in one photo.

Winter5

It snowed. And then it snowed. And then the kids had five snow days. And then it snowed. And then it rained and everything turned to ice. And then it snowed. As of yesterday, this has officially been the snowiest winter in Boise's history. You probably think that we're used to snow, because we live in Idaho, but Boise is in the corner of the state that has warmer weather. If it snows here at all, it usually only lasts a day. Last year it snowed once, and that's pretty typical. Winters here are dark and grey but not usually snowy. Except for this one. I'm so over the snow. We all loved it at first because it was a novelty, but now everyone is getting pretty grumbly about it. 


And unfortunately, snow means slippery roads and unfortunately for Josh it lead to a car accident yesterday morning. He's fine, but it may have totaled his car. We're still waiting to hear. It was a scary phone call to get first thing in the morning. He was on his way to school to take his semester finals when the accident happened. He really couldn't miss school so after they dealt with the police and the tow truck and everything, Shawn drove him to school and he took his finals still pretty shaken up. I felt really bad for him. He was a trooper, but it was a tough day. So now we're dealing with insurance and figuring out what's going to happen to the car and all of that. it's only Tuesday and it's already been a long week. 

School is back in session for me and I'm hard at work this semester. I decided to take 14 credits this semester when I had previously told myself my limit was 12. It's pretty much kicking my butt like I knew it would, but I'm trying to hang in there. Part of the stress is that one of my classes is statistics, which is notorious for being particularly difficult. This is my third math class in the past year. Which, really, when I look back at how much math I've learned this year, is kind of awesome. I failed math so hard in high school. I was honestly convinced that I wasn't capable of learning it. Now here I am learning it and actually not doing so terrible. I mean, I'm not great at it, and probably never will be. But I can learn it, and I'm even getting through statistics. I alternate between being exhausted and frustrated to being ridiculously proud of myself. It's hard, and sometimes I hate it and want to quit, but then I see myself understanding something I didn't think I could get and the sense of satisfaction I get from that is huge. The greatest thing about statistics has been my study group. At the beginning of the semester they assigned us to mandatory groups and we have to meet via webcam twice a week for an hour all semester. I reeeeally didn't want to do it. I have not had awesome experiences with online group work so far. But I met with my group the first week and it turns out we're four moms, all going back to school later in life, all with the same major and all with the same fear of statistics. I absolutely adore those women. We're kicking statistics butt together, lol. So I'm going to survive this. I may not love it, but I'm going to survive it. 

My other four classes are going pretty well. It's a ton of reading and quizzes and papers this semester, but I'm keeping up. It's an all day every day job to get it all done, but it's quiet here during the day with the kids gone, so I'm able to get a lot accomplished. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm getting there.

Everyone else is doing good and keeping busy. Same old stuff, we're just plugging along. I feel bad that I haven't posted on my blog much lately, but honestly all I really have to say is that I'm busy with school and we're all doing well. If that should change, I will be back to let you know. :)