Maybe There Is An App For This?

Does anyone remember when I was all inspired and wrote the Parker handbook and some of you said it wouldn’t work?? Well….you were totally right! haha!

The idea was solid. I thoroughly enjoyed making my fancy schedule. I presented each of my children with a copy of the handbook and had them sign the last page, confirming that they read and understood it. I gave them a copy of the signed page and kept a copy for myself.

It included official things like a mission statement!

(Mission Statement: To live as a cohesive family unit, working together to take care of our home and each other; while having fun along the way.)

And it spelled out my expectations!

(Bathroom-At no time should there be any clothing on the floor or counter tops. Management (aka mom) will provide extra hampers or other options, if needed. All you have to do is ask. Not asking equals non-compliance. Once a week, bathroom should be cleaned. Cleaning involves cleaning the counters, shower, mirror, floor, and emptying the trash can.)

It went on for like 8 pages; explaining in great detail what their jobs were and what I expected from my “staff members.” It was pretty darn thorough.

So, anyway, I ignored their protests as I handed them out and felt like quite the genius. 🙂  But, I didn’t take one thing into account. One really obvious thing. I was making it harder on myself.

Did I really think that these kids of mine would follow the handbook without me constantly reminding them to follow it? Did I think they would take the initative on their own? Of course not! (Well, clearly, I thought it a little bit. Silly Emily.) And since I just plain stink at being consistent, it was a failure before it even started.

It went ok for a few days. Lizzie, as always, was the most cooperative. She did her jobs without complaint. William and Antwan moaned when I reminded them and sort of did their jobs. And then Kaleb explained that he didn’t think it made sense for him to have a turn cleaning the upstairs bathroom since he rarely uses it. He suggested that he have to clean the downstairs half bathroom instead since he uses it more often. I said that was fine. But guess who never bothered to clean that downstairs bathroom? haha

The other problem is that I fall into that trap of “Oh, I’ll just do it myself.” They make it so much work and it ends up being easier to do it yourself. This is a terrible idea. I’m sure that’s not news to anybody. I know that when I do it but I do it, anyway.  I end up tired and frustrated. The kids have won and they have learned a terrible lesson.

I know that it’s important that they do chores so they can learn responsibility. And I know that the bad lessons that they learn, like perfecting the art of slacking, will follow them into adulthood along with any good lessons that they learn. That’s what I worry about the most. I don’t mind doing the bulk of the chores (most of the time). It makes me feel like I’m really taking care of my family. But I also don’t want to raise lazy kids who will then become lazy adults.

Anyway, I guess it was all a waste of time. None of us are ready for a handbook. My new plan is to just go back to after school chores. I thought that they would like not having chores every day but I guess not. Schedule is clearly key here.

The one thing that I have learned is that I am not alone. My kids are not unusual. In short, the struggle is real and universal. That’s comforting, anyway. Misery loves company and all. 😉

I know I’m repeating what I said before but, I’ll say it again anyway. If you have cracked the code to get kids to do their chores and do them well, please do share. And if you have no idea how to accomplish this lofty goal, either, please, please share. My coffee and cry together invite still stands!

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We Call Her Ruby.

So I have a feral mama kitty in my dining room. It must be Tuesday, huh? I didn’t want a feral mama kitty in my dining room but you don’t always get what you want. But, I’m now really glad that I have a feral mama kitty in my dining room because she looks like this.

 

So here’s the story. I have been dying to foster a kitten again but resisting the urge as long as I could. There are so many kittens and cats in need of help, though, so I knew it would only be a matter of time, And then I get the facebook message from a friend asking me to share a post about kittens. I knew pretty quickly that it was all over for me and that I would be getting involved. I immediately shared the post asking for help with three kittens who were only 3-4 weeks and seeking a trap to catch the young and way too thin mommy so my friend could get her help. Almost as immediately, I was offering to foster the kittens because I “still had supplies,” anyway. (At the time, I didn’t realize that said supplies were still hiding in a moving box in the garage somewhere.) Anyway, fast forward to me acquiring two kittens (she kept one) and spending the evening bottle feeding them.

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It wasn’t long before they were eating on their own and I was hearing that a neighbor had caught the mama and another kitten. And it also wasn’t long before I was being asked to take them, too.

And, man, I didn’t want to.  While I have great history with socializing frightened foster cats, I had zero experience with truly feral cats. But, that didn’t change the fact that they needed me and I ended up welcoming a very angry mama and a very timid baby. When they wore leather gloves to transfer her to my kennel, I was quite confident that I had put myself in for a very bad situation. I wasn’t completely wrong but I wasn’t completely right, either.

So we learned quickly that mom and her babies would remember each other.

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But, we also learned that being around her babies put Mama in defense mode and made the kittens nervous by her growling and attempted scratching. So after trying it both ways, three kittens ended up chilling in the bedroom with Lizzie while we wait for them to be old enough to be adopted out. And I have been “romancing” Mama kitty every since.

Have I mentioned that Mama is practically just a baby? She never got to be a cat and that’s just not fair. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting outside the kennel, trying to bribe her with treats. I started with dropping them in and eventually tried to hand feed her through the kennel door. And this feral kitty took a treat from my hand! And many more treats after that.

It progressed quickly after that. I was soon able to open the door and hand feed her. And she would cry for me (or maybe the treats) when she heard me coming down the stairs. Feral mom was becoming a cat. But, there was still a clear line that I wasn’t to cross. Assuming that I didn’t want to be scratched, that is. I think we all know that I have gotten scratched, ha.

Then I had a busy few days and didn’t sit with her like I had been. The regression was quick and obvious. She didn’t want treats, she didn’t come to the door when she saw me, she was hissy again and she wasn’t eating as much. 😦  I went to bed that night feeling discouraged.

But, that morning, I made a point of coming to her and sitting down. I brought her some food and treats. It was apparently, that moment when something clicked because when I opened the door, she was ready for me. She ignored the treat and nuzzled my hand. What??

I sat there petting her for a minute, amazed that it was happening at all and then because I sometimes have no respect for boundaries, I picked her up. And she let me!!

I held her a for a moment until she realized that it was happening. She started to squirm so I immediately put her down. Once she was safely inside the kennel, she, of course, drew some blood. Small price to pay! 😉

By the end of the day, we decided to let her explore the house and that’s where it stands now (or the now when I wrote this, anyway.)  She’s wandering the house, avoiding me. She’s not taking any chances that I’ll put her back in the kennel, I suppose. 🙂

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I’m just so amazed at her progress and so happy that she might get the chance to be the cat that she deserves to be.

And, as for the kittens, they are, of course, ridiculously cute and being taken care of by Lizzie’s cat, otherwise known as Uncle Xander. 😉

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Holding My Son’s Hand

 

You know how they say that you should treasure those moments when your child wants to be close to you? How you shouldn’t be annoyed when they climb on your lap or grab your hand? It’s true!

It’s also true that the lack of personal space and the constant pressure is exhausting so this is not a post about how you are wrong to be frustrated by it. But, man, what I wouldn’t give for one of my kids to plop on my lap when I’m not expecting it right now. (Well, not right now. Maybe after I have finished breakfast and this post, so kind of right now!)

After reading a poem about how you never know when the last time is, I have made a conscious effort to be aware of the moments more. Especially with Antwan. Antwan was the one that would still hold my hand in the parking lot. He would instinctively grab it, even though, Lizzie doesn’t any more and he is 12 so  he could obviously handle the walk to the store. But, I absolutely love it. I would squeeze his hand and dramatically feel his hand in mine. I know that sounds cheesy but I’m a little cheesy. 🙂 One day, recently, I commented that I loved that he would still hold my hand. Yeah, I think that was a mistake. I made him aware of it. And just like that, with me barely noticing, he stopped holding my hand. I’m not sure exactly when it happened. Only that I failed in being aware of the time that was the last.

And I tried to get it back. I grabbed his hand a couple more times. He let me but he didn’t squeeze back. It no longer felt like I was holding my little boy’s hand. It felt awkward. So I stopped.

He is becoming a teenager. Things are changing. For Lizzie, too. Even though, these are my youngest, I feel like I’m going through the transition for the first time. Kaleb was already a teenager when he showed up. William and I had a tumultuous relationship before and during his transition to adolescence.  But, Lizzie and Antwan, they were babies, just a day ago, weren’t they?

As much as it’s hurting to lose my babies, I can’t stop it. It sure doesn’t help to know that they are moving into the worst part of it all. Adolescence. Ugh.

I would say that I wish I had cherished the moments but the reality is, I know I did. I remember reminding myself to be in the moment and I feel like I was. But, it still amazes me how far away those moments feel now. So now, I have to cherish these moments.

Now the other day, when I dragged the three of them off their electronics to make them eat with us, it didn’t feel like much to cherish (especially since Antwan defiantly ate in the kitchen) but it was. William and I chatted about the dogs and the cats as I thought how amazing it is that we have gotten to this point. And after Antwan spent the rest of the evening perfecting his teenager routine, he knocked on my bedroom door, way past bedtime, and said “I want the dog.” (“The dog” is Captain and Antwan and I are in a constant battle over who gets to sleep with him, haha.) I opened the door and looked at my baby man and asked him if he was going to at least apologize for how he had been acting.

Then he smiled that smile that melts my heart every time and he said, sheepishly “I’m sorry.”  I demanded a hug because I won’t miss an opportunity! And he hugged me, a real hug. A hug that reminded me that he is still my little boy. I happily (mostly) handed over MY dog and all was right in the world. For the moment, anyway. 🙂

 

It’s going to be a challenge. Changing with the changing relationships. Finding different ways to connect. Accepting that they just aren’t going to enjoy the same things that they did before. And then cherishing the upcoming moments, too.

I guess the lesson for me and all of us is to be in the moment; you’ll be sorry if you’re not. But then, make sure to be in the next one because it’s the only one you’ve got. And, for the love of God, if you are lucky enough to have a 12 year old who will still hold your hand, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND ENJOY IT! 😉

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Life Lessons

Once a month, William and Antwan have to do a check up before they get their monthly prescriptions. The med checks are routine and no big deal but it’s still a hassle. A “fun” thing about my doctor’s office is that you are required to confirm that you are coming or they will actually cancel your appointment, They will give you the reminder call the day before and as long as you confirm, you’re good.

I always make sure to confirm but what I didn’t realize was that they had the wrong number on file. So I didn’t get the confirmation call and more importantly, I didn’t notice that I didn’t get the confirmation call or remember to call myself.

So when we showed up, (late, of course…), I was told “There are no appointments today.” She paused as I looked confused.

She continued “You didn’t confirm so I gave away your appointments.”

I was getting a little frustrated and explaining that I didn’t get a call as she was adding that she did have the prescriptions for me. We figured out that they had the wrong number and updated it, etc, and it registered in my head that none of this mattered because I had what I actually needed.

So, I thanked them for giving me the prescriptions and said we would see them next month. Around this time, William wandered up and said “So we don’t have to do the appointment? That’s just amazing, Mom.” haha.

A few minutes later, we were heading home, way quicker that we expected. I had the boys’ medicine all set for the month, we hadn’t gone through the trouble of seeing the doctor, and I was able to make it on time to my work appointment.

I’m sure they wanted to make a point and teach me a lesson. I definitely learned a lesson but probably not the one that they wanted me to learn! haha!

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You Just Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings.

My cousin died. But please don’t express your sympathies to me, I hadn’t seen her in years and years. I’m still sad. But I’m more sad for her immediate family because they have to go through IT. Through the loss and the change of definition of what daily life entails. Through all that stuff that really, really sucks.

The reason that it is relevant to me is that it is a life lesson. You see, I was supposed to go to visit last month. My cousin (her daughter) is the one that I know the best and she was in Orlando visiting her mom and other family. I had planned for months to go but when the time came, I flaked. That’s not an entirely true. I had a reason. I’ve been having issues with my back that have been getting worse and worse. (That’s one of the reasons that I haven’t blogged much, I’ve been preoccupied with my pain. As the only one who has ever experienced pain, I’m sure you are in awe of my strength in typing now, haha.) Anyway, I had an MRI and have an upcoming neurosurgery appointment to look forward to. I also started to become keenly aware of what would aggravate my back. Those things include being in the car too long, sitting too long, standing too long, doing anything too long, resting too little, resting too long. But, especially the car. So after postponing and postponing, I ended up not going. Susan was very understanding and reassured me that they would most likely visit Orlando every year since her mom lives there now. I took comfort in that and told myself, next year for sure. Well, the day after Susan and family headed home, she passed.

There are many things to take from that. There is the obvious sadness that my cousins are feeling now. It makes my heart hurt so much for them. There is the sadness that I feel at not seeing her one last time. (But, again, I don’t want anyone to give me any sympathy. Save it for them.) There is the reminder of a feeling that I don’t need reminding of; the feeling of what it feels like to lose someone suddenly. And there is the lesson. An important lesson.

Don’t wait.

Don’t take a moment for granted.

Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you could do today. (Unless it’s housework, of course. This really applies to people and experiences. But, then again, you don’t want to be caught with a messy house so take it how you want.)

Basically, carpe diem.

You really never know when your last moment is that last moment. I know that my cousin is so grateful for that last Orlando trip. But I also know that she stills wants more. I will always regret not going. I will regret not making the sacrifice of the pain that I would have been in the next day so I could have recconected with her and all my cousins, so I could have met my baby cousin and been part of her first birthday celebration, so I could have watched my kids play with their cousins. So I could have had all those memories.

My regrets are nothing compared to what my cousin’s immediate family is going through and I keep saying that because I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t realize that. But, I do take a lesson from it and maybe my cousin, Essie, would be proud that she left such a lesson behind. Because as I understand, she was often in pain, but I also saw a video of her riding a Dumbo ride at Disney World on the day before she left this world. That is some top notch carpe diem-ing, Essie, top notch.
So this is my vow. I will try a little harder. Over-think a little less. Drag myself out of the house a little more. (Yeah, I said a little. What can I say, I really like my house!) I will make the now into the moment, instead of waiting for the right moment. I will seize those moments, take those leaps, eat drink and be merry. And, you should too! Because as it turns out, you really don’t know what tomorrow brings.

And I will hold my family in my heart as they go through this incredibly awful part of life.

Brian Is Their Father.

I was scrolling through facebook which is definitely one of my favorite hobbies and I saw this meme.

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Well, I was about to make a silly comment about how I had no choice because he lives in the house and then it hit me. Brian is their father. My mind never went to anything but that. Yes, someone else did their biological part to cause their existence but Brian is their father. It made my heart happy to know how little I focus on the fact that they are not genetically ours. I am aware that they aren’t and I am proud of our adoption story but it only partially defines us. And I know that Brian feels the same way.

I was having lunch with a friend, the other day. He was talking about his kids and how he relates to his son’s emotional reactions to life because they are similar to his. He said something to the effect of “Well, it makes sense, our kids (referring to both of us) have our genetics.”

Then he realized that it wasn’t true for me. He had the same delayed realization that I did because sometimes I forget, too. haha. We then spent a few minutes agreeing with each other that my kids would pick up on our tendencies just by being in the same house. He might have thought he upset me but he didn’t. Even though, I have my moments of forgetting; it doesn’t hurt me to remember. It was all good and all true. Our kids are so much like Brian and I in so many ways, not all of them good. 😉

I know that there are different schools of thought about adoption. They say it’s loss. And I know that’s true in some ways. I know there are different reasons that children end up adopted. Some sad, some noble (when the parent is trying to do right by the child), and some unavoidable. I know that there is often trauma around it and it can truly be heartbreaking. I don’t want to minimize it.

But, I can’t speak to that. I haven’t been on that side and I never will. And it definitely doesn’t change the fact that I’m so glad that we did it. I know my kids are happy and that’s everything.  Or in William’s case, as happy as a teenager can be to be with his family. 😉

If you are out there and wondering if you could love a child who is not yours biologically. I mean, could you love them enough? Could you accept them as yours? And feel the love that you would feel if they were biological? The answer is yes.

Yes, you can. I assure you that you can love them enough to want to strangle them, just like you would a biological child. 😉 You can love them enough to be hurt when they don’t want to hold your hand anymore or just want to stay in their room on their tablets. You can love them enough to cry when they get an award at school or when they wandered too far in the neighborhood and your mind went to worst case scenario. You can love them enough to get true happiness from the simple things like baking cookies together, hearing their stories about rappers and youtubers that you’ve never heard of or hitting a beach ball up and down the stairs with them while praying it doesn’t hit the lamp. You can love them enough.

And, with 400,000 children in the foster care system who won’t be yours genetically but could be yours in every other way, why not prove my theory? (Come on, you know I had to work it in!)

Meanwhile, I want to bask in the awareness that I absolutely, completely, one hundred percent, love my children as my own. Because they are.

 

Nah, We’re Gonna Need You To Stay.

So I have quit my job several times but it never takes. The first time, I was offered part time instead. When I still found it hard to keep up with because we were moving, I quit again and it was suggested that I hang in there until after the move and see how I felt. When I decided that it was just plain time because I was tired of trying to juggle all the time, I quit again and I was asked to just work with one individual (who happens to be my favorite) and then I went ahead and offered to stay with one other individual, too (my other favorite).

Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to work full-time. I do know what I was thinking but I don’t know why I thought it would work. I was trying to get us in a better place financially. But, I have been miserable for most of the time. This has nothing to do with the company or the job. Full-time out of the home work is just not for me. Frankly, neither is part-time. But, I do adore my two guys who I work with so what are you gonna do? Once they are in your heart, you are stuck. 🙂

I should clarify, I work with adults with disabilities. This is something that I have had a passion for, basically, always. So it’s definitely rewarding. It’s not, however, financially lucrative.  And now that I am down to two people, I am going to have to make some adjustments like staying off of amazon. I’m kidding, I’m not going to be able to stay away from amazon so I should probably figure out a different way to make my money last longer. 🙂 And, I’m determined to do so.

For starters, I bought a Budget book! Yes, from amazon.

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There are all kinds of pages for writing down bills, budgets, daily spending, etc.There are pockets for receipts, bills, and coupons. And there’s a cute little ribbon to hold your page.

The irony of spending money on a budget book was pointed out to me (by my mom) but you gotta spend money to make money, right? I also got envelopes so we can try the cash system. If you don’t know what that is, here is a quick rundown.  Put money in separate envelopes like food, gas, eating out, etc. Only use what you have in that envelope for that expense. Don’t borrow from other envelopes and don’t spend any more when you don’t have any cash left in that envelope. It’s evidently a good way to keep track of what you are spending.

And, I’m getting back into coupons and ad watching. And, I’m all over reward points!  In the last few days, I racked up 2400 points at Winn Dixie, 3000 at Walgreens and 1580 at PetSmart. I admit it, I’m very proud of myself. 😉

So, I’m wondering, would it be helpful or interesting or entertaining if I shared my money saving finds? Would an Economical Emily section be something that people would read?

If so, I’ll blog about it (or maybe just facebook about it) and it will hopefully inspire others while keeping me on track. If not, I’ll keep my inevitable massive success to myself. 😉

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