Saturday, February 28, 2009

You Thought Wrong

People who have known me for a year or more have often commented that I am a nice person. In fact, several have gone so far as to tell me I am a good mother and wife.

They are wrong.
They might have been right once. They might even have been right 10 days ago but not now.
I am a terrible wife and mother.
Because, when my poor sick husband and daughter, my lifeblood, my loved ones, cough . . . . I have thoughts of murder. Mayhem. Mutilation. Other "m" words.
I love them beyond measure but as an auditory person, every time a person coughs, it's like being poked in the arm by a rude person or slapped upside the head by an annoying one. I'd like to ignore it. I'd like to overcome it. I'd like for my compassion and sympathy for their ongoing illness to sweep across me, wiping out the irritation.

It ain't happenin' yet.
Last night I slept in the living room so I wouldn't have to hear them coughing upstairs. Gave up the warm, roomy, cozy bed for the chilly, short, leather couch.
It was worth it.
Of course, it doesn't help that my sons are still coughing as well. It doesn't help that I wheeze whenever I breathe in and out and occasionally the wheeze blossoms into my own coughing.

If I could turn off my ears, just for a while, I would. If I could not wince internally every single damn time one of these people coughs, I would. If I could slip liberal doses of cough suppressant in their food, I would.

See? Told you. You thought WAY wrong.

Friday, February 27, 2009

SOSS (Send Optimism and Sympathy Supplies)

HELP! I've run out. I'm dry. The shelves are empty. The cupboard is bare. The larders are nonexistent. I need supplies. Send shipments. Spend the extra money and overnight them. The situation is dire.

I am out of good moods.
Happy faces.
Good sense of humor.
Snappy comebacks.

You see, eight L O N G days ago, L O N G days, the first of the Orrs got sick. It was Coryn, ironically, the one who leaves the house the least. That was Thursday. Then 48 hours later, my turn. Then Joseph. Then Caspian. Finally Nicole. Yes, the entire family, although SO FAR, the dog and cat seem to be okay.

And I've been a good mom, really. I've comforted and commiserated. I've hugged and held. I've made cups of hot tea and glasses of ice water. I would have also been a good wife, but when the husband is sick, he suddenly does not know me and withdraws, so I didn't get the chance. And I don't mind--honestly. These people are my lifeblood and I would do anything in my power to make them feel better but I feel like my reserves are gone. When I reach in to pull out some "I know you feel like crap and I am so sorry hon--what can I do?" I COME UP EMPTY HANDED.

So if you have to have some optimism and sympathy just sitting around, getting dusty and you don't really need it because your cupboards are well stocked, would you please send it this way? I promise I won't waste it. I won't spend it on drugs or alcohol (although it's tempting). I won't give it away or let it spoil on the shelf. I will put it into use immediately. Everyone will benefit. Bail me out, people. It's the spirit of the nation right now, RIGHT?

(I'll be waiting.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

State Shift

I am in a lousy place right now. I'm a few days post-flu, trying to get caught up on work and tired. I haven't slept all night in my bed for five days now. Each night something interferes. Last night I couldn't sleep through my husband's constant coughing. I started out being sympathetic, REALLY, but by 3, I was just chanting (albeit silently) PLEASE GO DOWNSTAIRS. PLEASE GO DOWNSTAIRS. Sigh.

He isn't telepathic . . which, for the most part, I consider a TRUE blessing. So, finally, I got up and went downstairs.

I thought about going to the comfy couch but knew that if any of the other sick people in the house were up, they would want to be in the living room, so I went in and laid down on my oldest son's futon bed instead.

Note to self: the bars of the bed frame are much more noticeable to an almost 50 yr old's skeleton than a 15 yr old's. I slept . . fitfully, shall we say. But I slept.

Then I got up and as I've worked, I watched others sleep, watch tv, nap, and I've heated hot packs, checked temperatures, expressed sympathy, suggested naps, brought ice water and REALLY focused on NOT getting bitchy.

I am losing the battle.
I wanna sit down on the floor and throw a fit.
I wanna cry and yell unfair, unkind things at people who don't deserve them.
I wanna sit on the couch and nap when I feel like it instead of work on assignments.

SO, it's time for a "State Shift", a term that I've come to know means changing your mental status from where you know it shouldn't be to where you would prefer. I am doing this through a relationship "meme" that I found on another blog site. I thought it might make me focus on the better stuff going on in my life instead of the pissy little crabby details I am seeing now. Wish me luck.

How long have you been together?
My husband and I have been married for 26.5 years. He was 30 and I was 23 when we got married.
How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Heehee. Well, . . . . I knew him as my doctor for a few weeks. I knew his as a potential life mate for 16 days between first official date and getting engaged. We didn't waste any time, did we?
Who asked whom out?
That's a tough one. I called him with the intent of asking him out but before I worked up the nerve, he asked me.
How old are each of you?
He's 57, I'm 49.
Whose siblings do you see the most?
We live 2000 plus miles away from our respective siblings, so neither of us actually. However, when we lived in Indiana, we definitely saw his more than mine. I only have one and he has three. We lived an hour from mine and in the same city as his.
Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Hmmm. I am guessing he would answer this question differently than I would. I guess, as a couple, one of our hardest issues has been food. He tends to want to follow some pretty unusual or challenging diets/eating patterns that I don't enjoy and usually have to pull the children kicking and screaming on but other than that . . . we agree on almost everything so we have few issues.
Are you from the same home town?
No, our hometowns were both in Indiana, but about an hour apart.
Who is smarter?
We're equal but show it in vastly different ways.
Who is the most sensitive?
He's a man. Isn't it obvious?
Where do you eat out most as a couple?
A local, family owned diner called the Kettle Inn.
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
We've never left the U.S. . . other than a honeymoon in the Bahamas, so I would say moving to Oregon qualifies.
Who has the craziest exes?
Neither of us. We have old boy/girlfriends but they haven't been a part of our lives for so long, it doesn't matter. After 26.5 years of marriage, who remembers them anyway?
Who has the worst temper?
He does, for sure. It doesn't appear very often--mine is much more likely to pop up, but when it does, GET OUT OF THE WAY.
Who does the cooking?
I'd do more (actually would love to do a lot more) but he never likes what I make, so he does.
Who is the neat-freak?
Him, him, him. He's not my obsessive/compulsive parents but I know he would be much, much, much neater if I wasn't around to screw it up.
Who is more stubborn?
So there.
Who hogs the bed?
Neither. We both scooch to the middle so we can touch as many and as much places as possible and stay there most of the night.
Who wakes up earlier?
Definitely him. I prefer to go to sleep about 2 and wake at 10 and he'd prefer to go to sleep at 10 and wake at 6. We usually meet somewhere in the middle.
Where was your first date?
A pool party at my house and then out to the movies.
Who is more jealous?
Me, a 100 times over.
How long did it take to get serious?
We could have measured it in hours.
Who eats more?
He does. Who gains the weight? I do. It sucks.
Who does the laundry?
I did for all of the years when kids were in diapers and 16 outfits a day. Now, he does. He is MUCH better at it than I ever was.
Who’s better with the computer?
Me because I spend WAY more time on it.
Who drives when you are together?
ALWAYS him. If you see me behind the wheel, assume that he is terribly ill, unconscious, a clone or has a gun to his head.

Well hey, that helped. I am chuckling now. Of course, the image of gun to head probably shouldn't make me smile THIS much. Just kidding darlin. I love you to pieces. I'll hang in for another 26.5 years ok?

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's a Double Ugh

He started getting sick yesterday afternoon. Now we are both sitting (lying) here with temperatures and coughing and moaning and groaning and not sleeping. I've had more fun. This stuff really is wicked. The body aches are some of the worst I have ever known. Just think of all the character I am developing through this . . . somehow . . . right? Please?

So, that's my update for now. Sick son is almost completely over it. Sick husband will most likely peak out today. Sick me is just trying to forget I'm sick and get back to work to make up for what I missed doing over the weekend. Other son and daughter remain (knock on wood) healthy and we would all like to keep it that way.

Send healthy thoughts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Where is it written that after we lovingly and sweetly help our children through a bout of illness that mother must get it also? I think that we should be exempt since we are the ones applying hot packs, bringing medicine, making couch beds and all of that for the sick child. Yet, here I am, dealing with the headache, couch, incredibly sore muscles and temperature that my youngest was so kind to share with me when he was finished with them.


It's not the consuming horror of the stomach flu. It's not the blinding pain of post surgery. It's just the "I feel like someone ran over me with a steam roller last night and lingered on my head" sensation. Plus, there's this cough and as my family is fond of reminding me, when Mom gets a CHEST cold, it's a BIGGGGGGGGG problem. :)

So, I am trying valiantly to get over this fast because I have work due this week that I had planned on covering this weekend and didn't. At the same time, I am even more valiantly wishing and hoping that Joseph doesn't get this. Did I mention that the only thing WORSE than your kids and yourself being sick is having a sick husband? Yup.

That is a super ugh.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do YOU Do This?

Each family is, of course, very unique and has its own peculiarities. However, lately we have started to wonder if some of the things our family does and takes for granted is or is NOT done in other families. So, let us know:

1. Do you share food, i.e. do you mooch off other family member's plates, asking for a french fry or six, reaching out to try something new, etc. ?

2. Do you each have your own drinking glasses at the table? Do you ever let someone else drink from your glass?

3. Do you talk, laugh or otherwise communicate while watching tv shows or movies together (at home, not in the theatre)?

4. Do you ever/never/always share your bedroom with any/all of your children?

5. Do you avoid letting your children see you or each other without any clothes on?

6. Do you think that you are the only normal family you know and everyone else is bizarre?

Please let me know. Feel free to be anonymous if you prefer. Although somewhere, someone WILL know how you are. (Wicked laughter)

Wife Needs Advice

Okay wifely people, I need to hear your opinions on this one.

I adore my hubby. I think he is one of the finest people on the planet. He is my friend, my life partner, my lover, my mate, my chauffeur, my confidant. I really am so lucky to have him walking beside me through life.

That aside . . . . my husband has a beard. Now, this is a good thing . . . I like facial hair and every serious relationship I ever had with a guy, the guy had a beard. I find it very attractive and masculine. I wouldn't ever want my hubby to shave his beard (although having never seen him without one, I must admit to curiosity as to what he would look like).

However. . . I like a short, neat beard. I think long beards look best on Santa, primitive mountain men and grandfathers who are also widowers. I just don't find them attractive. For 26 years, my hubby's beard has been short and neat. Over the years, the brown has turned to gray and it looks nice--distinguished. However, in recent months, he has decided to let it grow out. It is already down to his chest and . . . . I really, really don't like it. I mean, he is so good looking that there is nothing he could do to NOT be, but . . . I think he looks way better with it trimmed. To me the long beard symbolizes . . . old instead of sexy. Fatherly instead of lover-ly. :)

He knows this. I haven't been subtle about it. In the past, whenever I mentioned it was getting long, within a day or so he would trim it. It always made me smile because I liked it that he cared about my opinion and preferences. Just like I stopped dying my hair or getting it styled years ago because he liked it that way. (I like it too now, although it took some time. Years and dollars in salons take a while to get over.) It is important to me that when he looks at me, he likes what he sees. If he wanted me to do something that I was violently opposed to, I wouldn't do it because, ultimately, it is my opinion that counts most in my appearance, but otherwise, if he has a preference, I try to meet it. Over the years, our preferences have almost always been similiar, so it has not been too hard to follow.

Until now.
I don't like the beard.
I don't like it that he knows this and doesn't change.
I don't like it that the issue upsets me.
I don't know what to do.
So, you wives out there (or heck, husbands or whatever!), can you share some advice? What would you suggest? Learn to live with the beard anyway? Overlook it? Am I just being too demanding?
Thanks. Guidance is appreciated.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes . . . or Pre-Teens

My husband is a good cook. He tends to cook healthy food with a capital H, so sometimes it isn't POPULAR food, but it is good food. Anyway, one of his most appreciated and skillfull dishes is called heroin wings. They have that name because they are so good, you become addicted and want more, more, more.

The other day, our youngest (almost 13) woke up to smell these wings baking in the oven--a truly delicious smell, I guarantee you. He took one sniff and then stated one of his best lines ever: "Ah! The sweet smell of heroin in the morning!"

Child Protective Services hopefully missed that one.

Romance LIVES

Take heart, ladies (and gents). Romance has not died a generation or two back. Nope. It lives in the young people of today.

Case in point. (No, this isn't me, as will become clear.)
She wanted a good Valentine's Day. She had never really had one before. Sure, she was young and there was time but many girls, from the age of 12 on, knew that Valentine's Day could be special if you had the right person to share it with. By the first week of January, she had already crossed the words out of her date book and calendar. She decided she might have to boycott Hallmark (although chocolate was still permitted).

And then she met a boy.
And not just ANY boy. A boy who was taught (by some wise soul) that girls love romance. He showed many signs of it on each date, but he was building up to Valentine's Day.

First, he called her mother and explained the plan. He wanted to tell this young woman that he was going to be out of town for the weekend for work and then, behind her back, he would make special plans for her. He would arrive for her before sunrise and take her to the park to watch the sun come up because this girl once told him how much the sunrise meant to her. Then, he would whisk her away for the day to someplace new and fun. Would mom help? Well, YEA! This kind of lying is the good kind. For five days, much scheming took place.

Said young woman was mighty disappointed that she would not have a date on Valentine's Day but being a supportive girlfriend, she told him she understood. She hid her sadness, even from her mother, who saw right through her facade. In fact, she worried that he would feel so bad that it would ruin his weekend and so tried to say whatever he needed to hear to make him feel less guilty. Mom just snickered.

On the morning he was to "leave", Mom, Dad and girlfriend picked him up and took him to the airport. He had a suitcase. He was dropped off at departures and as the sad girl and her family drove away, his sister in law picked him back up and took him home. Throughout the day, he texted and called his girl, sending her a picture of L.A. as he "came in for a landing" and even turning on a couple of radios loudly so that it would sound like he was standing in a busy airport.

Mom, in the meantime, schemed so that said daughter would sleep in the living room that night (wearing flannel PJs, of course) and the next morning, just as planned, Mom snuck down at 6:50 a.m. and woke her daughter. "You have a visitor, sweetie" whispered to a numb, sleepy girl.

The front door was opened and there he stood, leaning on the doorframe with a bouquet of roses and a red heart box of chocolate in hand, front light shining down on him like someone from Hollywood had positioned everything for the perfect Valentine movie moment. Even mom caught her breath at the romance of it all.

So, Happy Valentine's Day everyone. May it be full of hugs and kisses from those you love. May you be someone's Valentine. And may romance find you, whether you are new loves, old loves--or just hopeful loves.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Morning Ritual

My family does not have a lot in the way of traditions. Sure, we have some that have developed over the years, but considering there are six of us and almost 27 years, they are rare.

One tradition that has established itself in the last year or so for Joseph and I is the morning paper. We've never been current events people. Sure, we watched the main headlines but we aren't politically inclined most of the time and we don't have set causes that we follow closely. Most of our headline reading is online at CNN and the like. However, we started getting the local newspaper a year ago because of . . . . the editorials? No. The sports coverage? Heavens, no. The tv listings? Hardly.

No, we got it for one reason: the comics. We have always loved reading the comics and this tradition has grown out of it.

When our oldest was little, before she could read, she would crawl up on Joseph's lap and he would read the comics out loud to her. It was very sweet to watch. He would point to each panel and use different voices to read the characters. She would giggle even when she had no idea what the comic even meant (challenging to understand Doonesbury at 4!) and I knew it was just because she loved sitting there with him.

So, fast forwarding to today. . . . each morning, we meet at the kitchen table (usually around 9:30) and together, we read the comics. (No, I don't crawl up on his lap to do so as that would lead to things other than reading the comics) Normally he has been up for an hour or more by the time I make an appearance, but he waits to read them until I get there. If one of us happens to read the comics first, without the other, we usually check in to make sure everything is all right--no one is upset, right? Whew.

So, on the average morning, I sit next to him and it begins. He pulls out the correct section ("How We Live") and turns to the comics page. He tears it in half and always gives me the page that has the most comics on it. Although he tends to read each comic, I just read the ones I like.

As we read, we forewarn the other one of what's coming when we switch pages. He will say, "You'll love 'Adam at Home' today" and I will say, "I am worried about Sally Forth's husband". We both chuckle over "Luann" and constantly miss "Foxtrot". We read "Baby Blues" and remember when we had babies in arms. We read "Zits" and constantly see our own kids mirrored in Jeremy's teenage antics. We read "Pickles" and realize how much their relationship reminds us of our own. We then switch pages and soon are chuckling at the very thing the other one predicted we would. Occasionally, I cut one out and put it on a child's door or slip it into a letter I am writing. Later, off and on, Joseph and I will discuss what is happening in a comic strip and wonder/worry/chuckle about what is happening to the people in it. I realize that, in many ways, those characters are quite real to me.

Of course, once the comics are over, we tend to move on to other sections. I usually read the rest of the "How We Live" section because I like reading book and movie reviews and am always looking for play reviews. Joseph tends to go for the sections on food and cooking, as well as anything science-related. Almost without fail, he will find something that he needs to read out loud to me. I love that when he discovers something fascinating, unusual or surprising, he wants to share it with me. I grin inside because I remember my dad doing the same thing to my mom when he read the paper. It drove mom nuts (she hated being read to) and although I admit there are times when I am trying to focus on something else and his reading the fourth thing out loud to me is slightly irritating, I also know that I wouldn't trade those moments for anything in the world. I always want him to turn to me first when he wants to share something.

I love our morning ritual. I think it speaks volumes about our relationship. As we read, our feet are usually intertwined under the kitchen table and our hands tend to reach out and touch here and there. Spending the first minutes of the day alone with my husband are precious. That's a ritual I hope I can do for another 50 years.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Time of Transition

Anyone out there who has had a baby remembers what the transition part of labor is like. It is challenging, to say the least. You have to work much harder at relaxing and breathing and it would be a bad time for anyone to say anything to you other than to say how incredibly great you are doing and how the baby will be here VERY soon. (The only time I've EVER struck out at myhusband was during transition with my 4th--I needed to release some incredible tension and discomfort and so I proceeded to punch him in the stomach. Still saying sorry 13 years later.)

I've recently realized that I am in a time of transition now also. And while it certainly is easier on me than the former kind, it carries its own challenges.

First of all, I am about three months from turning 50. Good gawd. FIFTY! How did that HAPPEN? I mean, sure, it beats the alternative, but 50?!?! Half a century? I'm NOT ready for that.

Secondly, my kids are just becoming these amazing adults. Jasmine has been on her own for six years. She is married, has developed a career, owns a home. Although we talk now and then, I know that I am not necessarily a needed person in her life now. That makes perfect sense--or would if I could just forget that wonderful little girl I used to spend all day with, cuz I miss her bunches.

Nicole is 18 and on the edge of taking off into a world that yes, still includes me but moves way beyond me. I know that she and I will be close forever and ever, much like my mom and I were, but I also know that she is entering a phase of life where I have to retreat to the background and let her do her own exploring without my direct guidance (note: not without my advice, of course!). I love watching her coming into her own. I've helped her weather some boyfriends that have been alternately oblivious, tender, naive, genuine and insensitive. Now she is with someone new (and you know who you are!) and I admit that I am enjoying her giggles on the phone from down the hall, our late night whispered conversations when everyone else is sleeping and of course, helping her figure out what to wear for the next date.

Caspian is almost 16 (egads) and in April, he will be taking a plane to the east coast to stay with friends for two weeks. Doesn't that sound dangerous considering he really is just this little tyke with a mop of white hair, the world's most charming grin and a passion for vacuum cleaners? Oops, I guess he left about 13 years ago. Sigh.

Coryn is as tall as I am now. We are eye to eye. He is extremely funny and although I still see flashes of the little boy that smiled every time someone pointed a camera his direction, they are slowly being replaced by flashes of the man he is becoming.

I've lost both parents in two years. That is a loss I still grapple with on a daily basis. I miss them so much and I keep hoping that time will dull the ache, but it's clearly a slower process than I had realized.

My career is transitioning a bit, I think--primarily because of the tight economy. I find myself stretching out in directions I haven't before and learning to go back to the conservative lifestyle that I had hoped I left behind five or so years ago.

It helps me to remember that just like transition in labor, transition in life often results in a wonderful gift when you get through it. I can sense the gift somewhere in the future but for now, I am wincing at the discomforts of now.