Getting What You Want And Not Wanting It.

I want to be happy. I want to feel fulfilled. I want to figure out what my passion is and follow it.

But, I’m not. And, I haven’t (yet).

A couple of months ago, I started working. It’s not because I wanted to. It’s not because I thought I needed time away from my kids. But, I wanted to contribute financially. I wanted to help us pay off our debt so we can finally buy a house. Brian works his butt off but there are six of us. That’s a lot of us’es! So, I interviewed for a few things and when I interviewed to be a supported living coach, a position that I had held and loved before the kids, it seemed meant to be.

Before I go on, let me explain what the heck that is! A supported living coach assists adults with disabilities with living independently. That could mean taking them grocery shopping, explaining mail, helping with doctor appointments or anything that is part of life. Sometimes it even means going to movies.

Anyway, as I talked to my future boss, I remembered why I loved the field. I liked her immediately and loved the fact that she brings her dog to work. I left feeling really good.

It wasn’t long before I got the call back but here’s the twist, she wanted me for a different position. She basically wanted to create a new position. She wanted me to coach a couple people, but also work on quality assurance and oversee their new transportation department. She said she needed a right hand person. Talk about an ego boost! I was pretty excited and digging the fact that I wouldn’t be driving around all day, every day.

So, I got ready to start my job. As they trained me in all kinds of interesting managerial stuff, I realized how much I liked talking to grown-ups. I was exhausted but felt intellectually stimulated. I felt so….relevant. I hadn’t realized how much I needed it. All three kids were in school, I was succeeding at work, and we were slowly but surely, getting better financially. It wasn’t perfect but it was close. And then one of the coaches quit.

And then my boss needed someone to cover those people. And I was blindsided with basically a demotion. Now, that wasn’t how it was meant. She just had a list of people needing services and it was more crucial than my new hybrid position. I’m sure she didn’t think it was going to bother me since I had originally interviewed for that position. But, the thing is I was happy. I had found something that I didn’t realize I needed. And, I was going to lose it.

So, suddenly, I found myself out in the field full-time with no reason to go to the office and talk to the people that I had bonded with. If I had to stop by for whatever reason, I would find myself interrupting their meetings instead of attending them. I felt like I had been kicked out a club. Yeah, I know, my reaction might be an over-reaction. But, what are you gonna do? It’s my reaction.

Anyway, I had to get over it (or pretend to) and remind myself that it’s a job. And, there are a lot of perks to making your own schedule and working with very little supervision. I don’t have to elaborate there. 🙂   But, I’ve also discovered that it’s not the same. Being in charge of 8 people’s quality of life is way more emotionally exhausting when you have to then go home and be there for your children. And, in general, their patience is on level with my own children so….

So, here I am. I’m driving around town, wearing myself out, and being constantly reminded that my back doesn’t like being in a car all day. I’m in a constant battle with myself and my id. I don’t want to waste my life doing something that I don’t love but I also don’t want to waste my days constantly struggling. So, I’m trying to hang in there.

It really isn’t horrible. I don’t want to make it sound that way. I still love my boss who I never get to see and the office dog that used to hang out by me while I typed.

I enjoy working with this population and I love that I can stop in the middle of the day, take a long lunch, type this blog post, and no one cares. But, this break is also brought to me by one of my guys who bailed on me and I don’t have time to squeeze in anyone else before picking up the kiddos from early release. Either way, I’m enjoying my KFC because I will be scrambling to get the required hours with him later.

They say that if you do something that you love, you won’t work a day in your life. I can’t relate, at this point. But,  until I get paid to tell everyone what I think of my new job, in great, dramatic detail; I guess I’m stuck with working many days in my life. But, I’ll try to remember to appreciate those good moments. I’ll try to accept things I can’t change and look at this job as an opportunity to change what I can. And, not to state the obvious, but I get to do something that really matters for some people who really matter, in the meantime. 🙂

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Do I Love My Kids Enough To Let Them Go?

I always loved watching those shows where people reconnect with their birth families. It’s so amazing to see it when families are back together. But, then I adopted kids. I don’t know if I could be like those moms on tv. I don’t know if I could give my blessing. Well, I don’t know if I could give my blessing and mean it.

As amazing as adoption is and as glad I am that we went this route, you give up a lot when you adopt. You give up the ability to take it for granted that they are your kids. You give up being normal. You give up knowing that your kids love you as mom and dad completely. When you adopt transracially, you give up the ability to blend in.

When you adopt, you live with society’s notions and stereotypes. Do you love them “like your own?” Are they “real kids?” What about their “real mom?”

It goes without saying (but I will, anyway!) that to me, it’s worth it. I just want to make sure that I put that out there.

In general, people don’t ask about us anymore. I assume it’s because it’s so obvious that we are mother and son/daughter (or father and son/daughter). Or maybe it’s because it’s becoming more common or people are getting more tactful. Who knows?

But, once in awhile, like the other day, someone will ask. And it will get me thinking again.

It’s never tentative like it should be. (Honestly, I don’t mind answering a polite question.) It’s almost always abrupt.

This time, on the way out of the grocery store – “Are they foster kids?”

I answered like I always do when questions like this are asked, I said – “No, they’re mine. All mine.” and then I squeezed Lizzie and Antwan’s hands a little tighter and felt proud of the fact that they are in fact mine.

Neither Antwan or Lizzie seemed bothered by the question and I was left hoping that my carefully worded response had the desired effect on them. That it made them feel wanted.

It’s not the end of the world and it’s still worth it, but it is reality.

But, what would feel like the end of my world would be the day that one of my kids wanted to find the birth family. It would be understandable but it would suck. Just suck. After years of trying to have kids and then become parents to these kids, to be reminded that they are not all mine would be really hard for me.

Of course, there’s an extra layer to our story. At the last update, the biological mother was not any more “together” than she was before. (And, that’s all I will say on that topic.) And, at the last update, William and Kaleb had nothing but contempt for her. Lizzie and Antwan don’t have an opinion at all. Or don’t seem to, anyway. So, I’m thinking that this is not a scenario that I will be dealing with any time soon.

But, what do you do? What do you do when the kids that are yours, all yours, don’t want to be? How do you make peace with that? How do you deal with working so hard for them to exist in your life and then find yourself demoted?

There’s no ending to this post because there’s no clear answer to the question. I would want to be a noble person and handle it well, but I don’t think I would. But, I guess I would handle it one way or the other because I would have to. I signed up for this mom gig. And, I’m supposed to love my kids unconditionally. There are no rules about how they are supposed to feel.

Actually, that wasn’t a bad ending.

If anyone has any experience with this from either perspective, I’d love to hear!

A DIY Kit That Even I Can Handle.

So, Lizzie and I got to make lip balm! Candy of geekmamas gave us a “do it yourself” lip balm kit from Kiss Naturals.  It comes in an adorable package and has everything you need to make your very own lip balm. 🙂

I have to admit I had the kit for several days before we finally sat down to make the lip balm. I had trouble finding time because I wanted it to be perfect and I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t rushed. But, as a result, I frustrated Lizzie slightly as she waited to do it. The other day, I promised myself that the day wouldn’t end without all natural lip balm in our lives so I sat myself down with my girl and we got started. I soon learned that these kits don’t take a huge amount of time, but they do take enough time for you to reap the benefits of spending time with your child. 🙂 And I was reminded of how it’s more important to have the moments with your little ones (or anyone, really) than to plan the moments with them. So, I guess you could say that I learned way more than how to make lip balm.

But, back to the lip balm!

Like I said, the packaging is super cute and the directions come in both English and Spanish. The process is broken down in really easy to follow steps. So simple that my daughter was able to make the second batch all by herself. 🙂

The kit that we used makes 6 lip balms: 3 tubes and 3 containers. This is so all-in-one stop that it even includes a measuring cup and spatula.

I’m now going to summarize the steps! There’s some Safflower adding, beeswax adding, mixing, flavor adding (Bubblegum and Boysonberry), melting, and pouring. Then a handful of minutes in the fridge and you have lip balm! There might be a bit more to it, but you get the idea.



Saaflower Oil



Beeswax





Adding the flavoring


My favorite part, of course, was watching my daughter and her reactions. 🙂



On a side note, the tray (above) makes a great holder to reduce the risk of anything getting spilled.

And since it’s all natural, no crazy chemicals are going on my Lizzie’s lips.  Or mine, for that matter, because you know that I had to try some!

You can get your own on their website or on amazon. They also have other fun kits like make-your-own soap and bubble bath.

I guess I should get one of those soap kits now so I can then make my daughter wash her hands! haha.  (The things you notice too late!)

She’s been bringing them everywhere!

Thank you, Candy and Kiss Naturals. for reminding me what’s really important in life: time with your loved ones and shiny lips. 🙂

 

To Live Is To Change.

I don’t generally like change. Or change that doesn’t involve chocolate or a new pet, anyway. But, the last couple of weeks have been full of change.

After a lot of soul searching and discussing (some might say that I nagged), we made the decision to send William to a very small k12 private school. The thing about this school is that it’s on the westside. And we are not. We are about 45 minutes from the westside, actually. But, after learning about the school’s small class size, individualized learning options and familiarity with kids with special needs; it seemed worth the drive. I also love that the school is more diverse racially and that a teacher and the pastor have both adopted from foster care (one of them transracially like us). All these things convinced me that it was worth driving him across town for their “new beginning.” (That’s the name of the school, by the way.)

As you can imagine, William was not happy. He didn’t want to leave his friends at public school. But, sadly, after a year of different behavior issues and lousy grades, he didn’t really have a lot of room to complain. Not to suggest that he didn’t, haha.

So he went. He had a way more positive attitude than I expected and even cooperated with a first day picture! 

And his first week went well despite his negative opinion of this life change.

We learned a couple things. He looks spiffy in a uniform; even if he didn’t want to wear one

And we learned that despite their typical private school rules, they were willing to be flexible at times; like when your kid shows up with no shoes, for example.  Because on the third day, William  announced that he didn’t have shoes when we turned on the road to his school. Embarrassed, I went in and asked what their “no shoes” policy is. They took pity on me and said he could come in since he had socks and we live so far away. Naturally, when I went back to the van, I discovered that he was in fact not wearing socks, either. I woke up the sleeping Antwan with “Antwan, give him your socks!”  To Antwan’s credit, he did, right away. Antwan later said that he was too tired to argue, haha.

That was Wednesday. Friday, he didn’t grab his lunch box and I had to call and ask them if they would feed him. They assured me that they would give him pizza and I assured them that I would bring pizza money when I picked him up.

Meanwhile, we were thinking of sending Antwan and Lizzie, too. Antwan misses school and I think Lizzie could benefit from someone else teaching her. Where as Antwan is academically motivated, Lizzie would rather focus on the animals….and so would I. 😉  Anyway, William was able to get in on a different scholarship, but we are waiting on financially based scholarships for them.  Because even the cheapest private school in town is still a private school. After being waitlisted due to lack of funds on their end and having to reapply elsewhere; we found ourselves with a 10-12 week wait. (It’s been 3.)

So, we wait.

Also, meanwhile, I started casually looking for a job. Feeling painfully aware that we really need to bring more money in, I sent out a few resumes. When I got a call back the very next day after sending out my first, I had to face the fact that it might actually happen and before I was ready. And before I knew it, I found myself interviewing for a few different jobs in the non-profit world. They were all intriguing but one stood out as the best fit. Thankfully, they agreed. 🙂  It should have been obvious that I would end up there because it is located across from one of my all time restaurants, Beach Road Chicken. I joked to Brian that it was fate. And when I walked in for the first interview and was greeted by an office dog named Mischa, I couldn’t hide the crazy dog lady inside me. She obviously sensed it too because she sat by me and “let” me pet her while I interviewed. It’s no wonder that it went well. 😉

Anyway, I left there, feeling good and a few days later, as my son was eating “I’ll pay you later pizza,” I went in for a second interview and was offered the job.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about going back to work but I’m going for it. 🙂

So, William is in a new school and I’m in a new job. Lizzie and Antwan are still technically homeschooled until the scholarships come through.  This means two things. One, I didn’t plan this well and two, for the next several weeks, I’ll be begging my family and friends for help with them.  (If I have your number, you might want to start ignoring my calls, haha). And, poor Brian’s days off just got a whole lot busier….

I guess this is officially a new chapter in our lives. Hopefully, it’s a good one. 🙂

Don’t Yell At My Son.

“Don’t yell at my son!”

The words echoed in my head and a combination of pride and panic filled my insides. In the past, when things had gotten heated with Brian and anyone else (as will happen at some points in life), I had only panicked. I went right to the “don’t cause a scene” mentality. But, on this night, it was warranted.

It was right after bedtime, we thought we were basically done for the night. We were chatting with Kaleb about who something or other. Then the neighbor called. She never calls. My first impulse (always my first impulse) was not to answer. I’m one of those “just text me” people. But, it was weird that she was calling so I knew I couldn’t completely ignore it. Kaleb stepped in and answered. She instantly hung up and called again. Before I could answer, she texted. When, in all honesty, I texted back and told her that I was at 1%, would charge for a few and call her back; she said no, call her now. Now I wasn’t really aware that you could order your neighbors around but I dutifully called.

I have to be vague now because, even though, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog, but you never know. And, I’m not trying to gossip about others, in any way. But, since I was there, I feel it’s my story to tell, too.

Anyway, let’s just say that there had been an incident. She had found her sons in possession of something. It was something on the low end of concern (comparatively) but still not a thrilling discovery. Her sons immediately blamed my sons. Which is pretty typical. They were taken at their words and I’m told that her husband is coming down to find Kaleb, question him and call the police if he didn’t cooperate.

As I’m trying not to freak and asking her what “cooperate” means, I’m learning from Brian that Kaleb had gone out for a walk. Flash forward to me calling Kaleb in a panic and saying “Make it right. Apologize and make it right.” I was less interested in who did what and more interested in keeping the situation under control. Flash forward again to me calling her back and hearing that Kaleb is there and hearing A LOT of yelling.

All I knew was that I had to get my kid out of there. I was imagining worst case scenarios and only cared about keeping him safe. Thankfully, Brian had the same thought and we went down the street to get our kid.

As luck (or not so much) would have it, our kid was not there when we got there and we were invited to come in so we could “talk.”

We didn’t really want to talk. Not when everything was heated and so confusing. But, we went in, anyway. Brian said lots of smart, calming things as I just stood nervously. My eyes darted around the house and I wished that my house would look so put together when people come over unexpectedly. I wished folded laundry on the couch was the only thing that I would have to move. I noticed that she had lost a lot of weight and I resisted the urge to blurt it out. And I wondered where the baby was.

Side note: These are Emily defense mechanisms, through and through.

So, as they were talking, Kaleb came back. I don’t know why but suddenly, he was there, sitting angrily in their kitchen. And he was so angry. Really angry. He was breathing heavy, his body was shaking, his eyes were so bulged that, initially, I thought he had gotten hit. He looked like Bruce Banner before becoming the Hulk.

I rushed over to make sure he was ok as I told him “We are not here to gang up on you. We wanted to make sure you are ok. Are you?”

Not long after, we are all in the kitchen. Kaleb starts yelling, complete with many expletives, that he didn’t do it. (I instantly believed him, by the way. I didn’t believe that he was completely innocent but I believed he was innocent of what he was accused of.) Then the husband starts to yell at him, also with plenty of expletives. I don’t remember what he said but it was loud and it was scary.

And then, Brian stood between them, pointed his finger and said, loudly and resolutely “Don’t yell at my son.”

Time froze. This was the moment when this man could have decided to hit Brian, it could have gotten out of control, weapons could have gotten involved, anything could have happened. And, like I said, as I panicked, I was so proud.

After all the transitions and challenges, we had gotten to a point that he had his son’s back above all others. And that’s how it should be. That doesn’t mean that our kids are free to do whatever, but my husband protected his son and I was so proud.

Anyway, the rest is a little fuzzy. He said that Kaleb shouldn’t yell at his wife (which he technically wasn’t but whatever), Brian repeated himself, their son came out into the living room very loudly and very upset, the husband said we should get out of his house and we said we’d be glad to.

Once outside, I hugged Kaleb a million times, we got some clarification, and we later told our kids not to hang out with them anymore and I’m fairly confident that they told their kids the same thing.

We headed home but not before I said to Brian “I know this is a bad situation but that was so hot!”
He said I was weird but kissed me back, anyway, haha!

As I left, I told her that we would talk tomorrow when things were calmer. But when tomorrow came, we had a life to lead. We were heading to my mom’s and calling to discuss the situation was the farthest thing from my mind. Apparently, from theirs, too. I think we have all decided together without a word that we should parent our own children and move on with our lives.

The moral of this story is not that you should expect kids to mess up and you shouldn’t assume that your kids are telling you the full truth when they do mess up. I know mine don’t. It’s not even that you shouldn’t yell at other people’s children.  Those are all true, of course.  (But I get that they were reacting and just plain freaking out.)

My take-away is that I love my kids. I know my kids will lie to me and mess up and I love them anyway.  And, I love my husband and I know that he will protect his family. (I hope Kaleb took note of that, too.)  And it has made me feel even more protective of my family, too.

Every time, I tell this story to my friends, I can’t resist gushing about how hot it was when Brian stood up to him. I’ve heard more than once, that I’m weird. 😉  Weird or not, in my head, I’ve turned this scary, dramatic incident into a relationship builder, not just with my kids but with my husband.

Hey, we’ve been married for 14 years…..whatever it takes, folks, whatever it takes!

The Almond Company’s Almonds. It’s Like A Treat Bag For Humans!

Like every family, we have many different tastes. We range from Lizzie and Brian who like most things and me and Antwan who dislike most things. William and Kaleb are in the middle.  But, in my determination to get an honest review of my latest product, I didn’t explain to the youngest three what they were about to try. I simply said “Here, try this!” and for once in their lives, they just followed the direction without asking questions! Brian and Kaleb, however, knew what they were trying. But, you know what? They all liked it!

Including Antwan!  I think he was just as surprised as I was, haha.

California Crown Cinnamon flavored almonds. It seems like that would be for a very specific palate but, apparently not because each and every one of the Parkers was asking for more.

I heard comments like “I like the cinnamon!” and “These are good!” and in the words of a big kid, also known as my husband, “Gimme, Gimme.”

I wouldn’t recommend eating them around dogs, though, because if your experience is like mine was, your dogs (and other people’s dogs) will think the shiny bag is a treat bag for them, not you. 🙂

                                                               Hey! Are those treats??


 

As a devoted, lifetime “nut of any kind” avoider, I held out as long as possible to try these. Actually, it’s possible that I’m just now about to try one, for the sake of the post. For the record, this is no reflection on the almonds from the good people of The Almond Company, this is a reflection on me and my ridiculousness!

Ok, it turns out that they are really good! The cinnamon taste is totally yummy and distracted me from the fact that I was deliberately eating an almond. 😉

So, if you want to satisfy your family, your friends, yourself (or apparently, your dogs) you can get these cinnamon flavored almonds here! And, if cinnamon isn’t your thing, there are a bunch of other options.  I might have to try the chocolate coated almonds next because chocolate. 🙂

And a big thanks to Candy from geekmamas for keeping me hooked up with yummy stuff to try!

 

These Are Not Scruffy Looking!

In an effort to be a creative and fun mommy, I ordered a Star Wars ice tray! I thought we could experiment and put different things in it.  And, we did. 🙂  I thought we’d start with ice but naturally, my two youngest had other ideas. 🙂

You can click here to watch a short video of their explanation! 😉  —Applesauce Star Wars since I haven’t successfully added it into the post yet, haha. Sadly, the force is not with me…

(I take it back! I think it worked but I’m leaving the link in, just in case.)



Star Wars Applesauce-style? There is a great disturbance in the force!

Then Lizzie wanted to make hard candy. I had no idea how but that’s when I discovered that my girl actually knows how to make it. It started with sugar and water brought to a boil. She did it all herself except for when she left me in charge of watching the pot of boiling water while she played the xbox for a bit. 🙂 She instructed me to let her know when it turned yellow. I did and she got back on the job.

Much to my surprise, it really did turn into hard candy! Millenium Falcon shaped hard candy that would have made Han Solo proud! Apparently, we have 5 minute crafts to thank for that. 🙂

Step 1: Boil sugar water.

Step 2: Pour it in and then let it sit.

Step 3: Remove your super cool candy from the mold.

Step 4: Feel very proud of yourself. 🙂

She was the learner, now she is the master….

No one has been interested in making Star Wars ice….except for me. But, it has definitely made my Cherry Coke look way cooler.

They were however willing to play with it.

Now Lizzie has ordered soap base with her allowance so there will soon be Star Wars soap in our future! I DON’T have a bad feeling about that…. 😉