Monday, January 28, 2008

Catching up

So, for months now, I've been wanting to create a blog. I figured, it's an easy way to connect with friends and family and all of our extended Army "family" members that are spread out across the US. With working and trying to raise Aiden and running an FRG and volunteering at church and all of the other STUFF I do, I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like to email and chat and call all of our frinds and family. So FINALLY, after months of delays and putting it off and forgetting, I've gotten it done.

And now, here I sit, wondering...what was I thinking?? Is our life really all that interesting?? Does anyone even care what goes on in the Parker household? I said I would do it, I hade made a New Year's resolution to do it, and now it is done. Cross it off the list, check the box...but will anyone really ever read the thing except my mother? I guess only time will tell. So, this may be the most infrequently read blog in the history of the world, but here goes.

I guess I'll start by setting the scene and giving a little history to those that haven't heard from me in a while. 2006 was a momentus year of changes: we moved back to Texas after years of being away from family and friends, only to realize that most of our family and friends had moved away while we were gone, so we were really no better off than when we had moved to strange cities with the Army. Granted, we knew all the cool restaurants in nearby Fort Worth, could (mostly) find our way around without a map, and had my brother living close by and our parents living in the state, but our grand return home wasn't as grand as imagined. We started getting settled in and Aiden, who had just turned 2, was running me ragged. We began making new friends and life was good. Then, as it always tends to do, tragedy struck when we least expected it. My brother, Ryan, who had just turned 25, was in a motorcycle accident in early August and was killed instantly. A phone call in the middle of the night changed my life forever.

I was thrown into a deep sadness, but Aiden was my lighthouse that kept me from getting lost in the sea of depression. I kept myself busy taking care of him, trying to see the world through his eyes--enjoying the small pleasures of this world--instead of focusing on the sadness and uncertainty that now echoed through my life. As some wise person once said, time heals all wounds--and although I am in no way the person I was before that day, the wound has healed nicely, but I will always carry a scar.

The year marched on. I began looking for ways to earn a little extra cash, to help us save up money to fund kiddo #2 (which we were hoping to start trying for) without having to dig into savings. I wrote freelance for a while, but I was finding it hard to find time to write with a 2 year-old begging for my attention all day long. I got a gig teaching at a local college part-time, in the evenings, which then fell through due to lack of enrollment for the class. I toyed with the idea of a gift basket service, but abandoned that one due to the expense of start-up. I felt like a high-school senior, trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I came up blank. I was already doing what I loved (being a mom), but that didn't pay very well, so I struggled to find something I could do in my spare (HA!) time.

Then I decided that the best thing to do would be to jump in and start working full-time, just for a year or so, to pay off our Jeep, save up cash for a new, bigger family car, and put some padding in the savings account for kiddo #2. Aiden seemed to enjoy the Mother's Day Out program he was attending, so I figured he would adjust well to full-time preschool. About the same time, we found out Brad was going to take command of Plano Recruiting Co., located in a suburb of North Dallas, so I started looking for a job in that area. We bought our first house in February of 2007 in Wylie, TX, a neighboring city to Plano, and I got a job at Kaye/Bassman International as an Executive Recruiter. It looked like things were finally falling into place.

But, wouldn't you know it, life threw us a curveball. We moved into the new house in March, and while unpacking some boxes, I stabbed myself in the left hand with a pocket knife and ended up severing the nerve to my thumb. I had to start my new job in a cast, and ended up having surgery just a few weeks later. After months of painful physical therapy, my hand finally got back to "almost" normal. But by that time, I was working 50-60 hours a week at a new job, living in a half-unpacked house full of boxes and trying to juggle a family and a career. I tried making some adjustments to my work situation, I tried every possible incarnation of my schedule that I could, but I had no time for anyone--Aiden, Brad or myself. Aiden wasn't adjusting all that well to his new schedule--he cried for me every morning when he woke up, but I kept hanging on, thinking it would magically get better. I worked this crazy schedule for 7 months, and then realized that I was miserable, no amount of money was worth this, and walked in to quit my job. Luckily, my boss offered me a part-time position, and since November, I've been happily working 3 days a week. I won't get rich, and kiddo #2 will have to make do with a few hand-me-downs--but I will get to see my kid grow up (and manage to stay sane in the process).

I'm always hearing women talk about finding balance in their lives, like it is some magic formula that, once discovered, will equate to perfect harmony. Well, in the last year, I can tell you with 100% certainty that idea is a load of crap. Balance is something that is never acheived. Every day, different parts of my life grab for my attention--and I have to shift my priorities accordingly just to stay upright. Some days, Aiden needs more from me, some days my job places extra demands on my time, and other days, I have to make my marriage the priority. But, at least now I've learned how to prioritize my life.

So, here we are in the present. We're living in Wylie, making friends, getting involved in our community and really enjoying family life. We're trying for baby #2 (Brad's favorite part of the process). We've found a church we like and are getting involved there--Brad and I are on the leadership team for the Life Stage 2 group (basically the 20's and 30's). Things are hectic, and we have our ups and downs, and I worry how I'll ever handle 2 kids, with Aiden being such a rambunctious kid, but I'm pretty content right now.

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Want to hear more about the Pack?

Check out A Belly in Bloom, a page devoted to Angela's pregnancy with Aubrey. You can see belly pics, sonograms, and learn more about how Aubrey (formerly known as "The Bean") came to be the lovely little girl she is! You can also find Angela's favorite recipes and newest food experiments at Cooking with the Parker Pack.