Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Love

I realize that although I discuss the kids quite a bit here, I haven't talked much about the hubby lately. Today I've had extra reason to appreciate him. I was thinking how people can show that they love you in such quiet, subtle ways that mean everything.

Today we helped some friends of Nicole's move from one apartment to another. It was a lot of heavy lifting and going up and down stairs. Although I am wayyyyy better at that than I would have been six months ago before I lost weight (31 lbs so far) and lowered my BP, I'm still struggling a little thanks to a bum right wrist (Carpal tunnel) and some vertigo (nasty on stairs). My hubby kept passing me while he was in the midst of carrying couches and televisions and really heavy stuff and encouraging me to go rest and take it easy. When it came time to eat, he made his way through the crowd around the table and got me a chair. Brought me a glass of water without my asking. Gave me frequent kisses (and yeah, a few gropes). Asked repeatedly if I was doing all right.

All of that comes down to one thing . . . he loves me. I see that in his every gesture and I am so grateful for it. In his eyes, I truly am a beautiful, sexy, wonderful woman and it is a blessing to have someone see you that way. I have a good friend whose husband turns on the electric blanket when she is on the way home from work so the bed is toasty when she crawls in later. That is love. It is the love that lasts through the normal ups and downs of the relationship and the daily grind of life. It is the love that makes you look across the room and, just for a moment, forget about the fact that your back hurts, your bills exceed your income, the house needs a new roof and you aren't sure how to meet the needs of everyone else in the family, and smile at your partner because you know you're both very lucky people.

It's love. And wow, am I lucky to be one of those people.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who Needs E-Harmony when you have Alaska?

I'm long married and very, very happily so, but I have some advice for you if you're single and female. Get thee to Alaska, girlfriend. The men there are waiting for you!

Nicole has been in Anchorage for only a few days and is already a big hit with the men. She has been hit on more in four days than she was in Portland in four years. She keeps calling me to report in the latest compliment, pass, come on and offer. We had been told the ratio of men to women there was 50 to 1 and apparently that isn't an exaggeration. Between the fact that she is damn cute, her red hair and wild wardrobe have resulted in people stopping her on the street to tell her how great she looks. Snicker. What fun this summer is going to be for our girl.

As for me? I am managing to de-stress fairly well, thanks to IMing, texting, emailing, calling and writing. I can't reach out and hug her but we still laugh and make inside jokes and even watch the same TV episodes long distance and comment. And my, how her adventures are keeping us all entertained. She goes for training on Monday, if she isn't carried off by some Alaskan harem by then.

Other aspects of life are going fine. Work is worrying me a little because I haven't gotten many jobs for the rest of the spring and early summer, but I have hopes that it will pick up and in the meantime, I'm reading the want ads for just the right receptionist/front desk job.

Our spring is taking forever in Portland. We are making records left and right for the wettest, coldest months in years. Damn. I need sunshine. I need warmth. If you've got a little extra where you live, send it this way would you? I'd be happy to send you a thank you note in return. Or a wedding invitation if this girl gets any more popular in the Great North . . . .

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tami's De-Stress Techniques, Part 1

Yes, part one because I suspect I will be searching for many of these coping techniques in the five months to come.

So, here are a half dozen of my so-far discovered stress reducers:

1. Sit out in the sunshine and soak it up.
2. Write a long, long, long letter to the person you miss because it is a little like talking to her.
3. Take a hard walk on the track and go an extra lap to burn off some of that tension.
4. Hang out with your two sons who are bending over backwards to fill in that gaping hole in mom's heart.
5. Eat half a cookie . . . enough to enjoy the taste of it and not enough to feel guilty about eating it. Give the other half to a constantly hungry teenage son.
6. Appreciate the friends who have reached out to you to let you know they love and care and know what you are going through right now.

And yes, before anyone mentions it, I know there are some other fun, sweat inducing, grab your favorite partner, doe-see-doe ways of reducing stress and they will certainly be on a future list. Right now, I'm just working on finding some inner peace and calm. The other stuff will come later. (Do what you want with that pun.)


Today was a tough, tough, tough day.
I didn't sleep well, knowing that Nicole was leaving. We got up and went to get the rental car we had reserved. When we got there, we realized that NO WAY would three young adults fit in the back seat. To move up to the mini-van would almost triple the cost.
We decided to take our van and hope for the best.
We left and the ride was long but relatively stress free. We got to Bellingham with 90 minutes to kill before she boarded. That was one L O N G 90 minutes. We said our goodbyes and I lasted until she was on the deck, at which point I began to sob. That kept going for the next hour. Or more. the hugs her brothers and father gave her were so tender. The love all three men gave me afterwards was also. Caspian had to share his 18th birthday with his day and did so absolutely selflessly.
The trip home was long, long, long. I cried multiple times. We forgot to get our gas money from Nicole and came home on fumes. The constant worry over the van, and money and missing Nicole made for a rough time of it.
While we were gone, I was called by a woman upset with me for not paying an invoice I had received just the night before at 10 pm. I had no idea it was due immediately. She wanted me to, literally, stop my trip to Washington, find an Internet connection, and pay it. I was completely shocked as this was never mentioned when I had the computer repair done the afternoon before. I came home and emailed an apology, saying I was sorry about the misunderstanding and let's just say, the apology wasn't accepted and only seemed to accelerate the problem. This kind of disagreement makes my unbearably uncomfortable, but when you add everything else that is going on in my life to it, I am a basket case. And guess what? My computer isn't working again. Sigh.
My sons received birthday money in the mail today. Without a word, they handed all of it over to me to help the money crunch. That made me cry again. Good kids, these boys of mine.
I am so worn out, I am not sure I can get from the computer to the bed. I'm going to try though. Please send good thoughts my way because this woman is stressed out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Down to the Wire and It's a SHARP One

Apparently I've done something to piss off karma . . . . although what is is, I have no idea.

As if this week isn't hard enough with Nicole leaving tomorrow, we have had increasing vehicle issues such that this morning J said he doesn't trust EITHER the VW bus OR the van to make the 600 mile trip to Bellingham and back tomorrow. EEEEK. Money is very, very, very tight right now and I had no idea what to do. Made some quick calls and finally rented a vehicle for a decent price that will (barely) fit all of us. Normally we wouldn't all have to go, but hey, this is an important moment and we all need to be there.

Then, last night, I was informed that a computer virus had gotten through my anti virus software and infected the upstairs computer. As of now, 14 hours later, I still have no files up there and cannot figure out how to repair it. This is a disaster of pretty monumental proportions since almost every project I work on is saved to that hard drive. Coryn has been valiantly trying to figure it out but so far, no luck. Since finances are tight, we have no budget at all right now for calling our usual computer tech guy (and damn, Nicole isn't dating the guy who also helped us), so not sure sure what we will do there yet. Can't go without my computer as it is my livelihood.

All of this in the same week as taxes? Now, that just seems a tad unfair.

I humbly apologize karma. Please forgive me and make these next days a little easier. Not sure I can cope with many more complications.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

As Requested . . . the Orrs

Today my darlin friend AmiMental came over and took family pics of us. Why is it that she can get better shots of our family than anyone else on the planet? I suspect it is because most photographers do not love us, and she does. So, for your view pleasure, here are the Orrs. Haven't those children of mine gotten GORGEOUS? Oh, and that pic of the two women who look like they could be sisters? That would be me and the photographer, friends for life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Amazing Gift

Recently someone asked me what one of the best gifts I've ever gotten was. I was stumped for a while. In the end, what came to mind was not THINGS, but moments . . . the gift of love, time, humor, kindness.

Yesterday I got one of those gifts. One that I will treasure for as long this brain works enough for me to remember it.

Our family has taken the Amtrak train from Portland to Seattle a half dozen times. We always have fun. The train trip is as much, if not more, of the fun than getting to the city. We read, talk, sleep, write letters, play games, look out the window and just enjoy being together. One year we even took my mom with us and that was wonderful, albeit a little exhausting as we also took a wheelchair with us and pushed her in it since every trip includes a great deal of walking.

Yesterday I rode the train to Seattle again, but this time only with Nicole. She had bought tickets for a trip six months ago for her and Jon and since they were no longer together, she had an extra. She asked me to go with her in early January and I finally said no, because frankly, I didn't believe I could do it physically. Too many health issues going on and not enough energy.

About three weeks ago, I said I had changed my mind. I wanted to go. I felt far better and 30 lbs. lighter. I had struggling with vertigo for two weeks, but it was improving, so I said let's go.

So, we did. And the world saw that this was an important moment for us and so (1) my vertigo virtually disappeared, (2) I got a check in the mail the day before for some spending money, and (3) it was SUNNY in Seattle (even more surprising than in Portland at this time of year). Nicole and I both know that she is leaving in just over a week and that that moment is going to be agonizingly difficult for both of us and this was a chance to spend the day together.

It was a letter perfect day. We went to some great places, riding the Monorail, checking out the Space Needle, hitting a stationery store . . . . but even better, we laughed and cried and talked and then did it all over again. We laughed so hard, it hurt. We cried talking about the changes approaching. We aired fears and worries and reassured each other. We even managed to get completely lost, on the wrong elevator, and found it hysterically funny.

Coming home was sobering. This trip to Seattle had been what we focused on, letting her departure date fade into the near future, and now the trip was over. And you know, it's not going to be any easier to say goodbye to this child. Hell, I cry even typing the words. But I am also resting safe in the knowledge that the bond she and I share can weather any changes, any distance, anything. It is stronger than steel and absolutely cannot be damaged. It can shift, it can mature, it can deepen, but no mere miles will make even the slightest dent. And what an AMAZING gift that is, eh?

Tea in the fridge, darlin girl.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heading into Spring

We are seeing signs that spring really does plan to return to Portland this year. After the second wettest March in state history, the sun is peeking out now and then and making the colors of the jonquils, tulips and cherry blossoms sparkle and shine. Once again Joseph and I remark about the similarity of Portland in spring to a Candyland game board.

Other news . . . . I have hit 30 pounds lost now. This makes me exceedingly happy. Even better is that eating this way is getting easier all the time. That makes me ecstatic.

Nicole's moving plans are starting to escalate. She is cleaning up her room so she leaves it in good shape and finds exactly what she wants to take and not take. I am focusing on her happiness and will let the other stuff come later. When I'm ready. Yeah. Right.

She and I are taking the day to go to Seattle next week on Amtrak. That will be wonderful and fun and bittersweet and poignant. It is the first time we haven't gone as a whole family so that will be odd, but it will also be nice to shop where we want to without keeping the menfolk a'waitin for us.

Vertigo is better--not gone--but better. Joseph is sad because he likes it that I had to keep reaching out and grabbing him for balance. Of course, he liked some grabs far better than others.

That's the picture at the Orr house . . and speaking of pictures, we have asked our all time favorite photographer to come to the house before Nicole leaves to take a few new family portraits. We have changed quite a bit since a year ago when she took them. There is 100 plus pounds less of us, to start with. Plus the boys are TALL, Nicole's hair is longer and RED, and Joseph and I are just a tad grayer. The happiness shines through though.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Out of Limbo . . . Stalled in Vertigo

Well, limbo has FINALLY ended, which is good because damn, it's hard on your back, ya know? As of yesterday afternoon, our Miss Nicole has been hired to be prep cook in the kitchen on board the Alaska Railroad. She will begin the first of May, so has to leave on the ferry to get to Anchorage on April 22 (her brother's 18th birthday). We will be driving her the five hours to Bellingham, Washington to get on the ferry. I will not, not, not, not cry until she is out of sight, then all bets are off.

I remember saying goodbye to Jasmine years ago when we took her to the airport and she flew to New York to stay with a camp friend. I smiled and waved and then, as soon as she was out of sight, I put my head against the window and sobbed. It is hard to let these precious creatures go.

Having Nicole leave taps into feelings of another daughter I was close to once and who left. . . and who I miss every single day. I know that Nicole and I will call, IM, text, email and write letters all the time but damn, it ain't the same thing as sitting next to each other on the couch and giggling and watching "Supernatural" and writing letters. I won't be able to reach out and touch her. I will be surrounded by testosterone, all of whom love me, but none of whom understand girl codes like . . . talking with our eyes instead of words, splitting a cookie so all of the calories fall out first, and crying at the same commercials. It is really hard when your best friend and your daughter share the same body and decide to move to Alaska.

The job sounds so exciting and I really am thrilled for her. I just need to get my heart to match where my head is and all will be well. I will dive into work, spend more time with Joseph and the boys, read more often and keep the Alaska post office hopping to keep up with letters and packages. I will adjust . . but first, I will mourn and I think that's ok. I am giving myself permission.

Last night, a friend told us that the average ratio of men to women in Alaska is 50 to 1. If the girl was excited before, she is ecstatic now. We've already had the birth control/safe sex talk, so when I raised my eyebrows at her, she knew just what I meant.

So, the next few weeks will be interesting ones that go by tooooooo fast. I am on day five of having vertigo. I tried standing in place with eyes closed today to see what would happen and there is no doubt I would go down if a trustworthy husband wasn't standing there to stop me from falling. So, I guess I won't be operating any heavy machinery this week. Darn . . . so much for that forklift.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vertigo, Limbo and Changes

These are dizzying, frustrating, challenging times, my friends. Top issues going on these days . . .

First, I got hit with a vertigo attack three days ago. Not the crisis level attack where I am vomiting and shaking and crying, but the afraid to turn head, stand up, lie down, move kind. If you've never had vertigo, it really is quite the experience. A scary merging of being drunk, dizzy, free falling, and in outer space where there is no gravity. You turn your head and the entire planet moves in a different direction. Nausea. Eyes jumping left and right out of your control. You get afraid to move at all. Little wonder I haven't driven in over a year, eh? Cannot imagine what might happen if I had one of those while behind the wheel. Wait. Yes, I can imagine it which is why I don't do it.

Second, we are living in limbo. Nicole was interviewed Wednesday for the job on the Alaska train. It was the second interview. They loved her and said she would know about the job on Friday. We waited and waited and finally called. She was told that they were calling with job offers that afternoon . . . and she was "most likely" on the list. . . but if we didn't hear, they would call for sure on Monday. Yes, Monday. Makes for a long weekend not knowing if she is supposed to be packing for Alaska or not. It is such a huge life change, it would be nice to know if it is happening or not. Sigh. Monday.

And finally, the changes (as if those weren't enough . . . ) We just changed cell phone services and we're all trying to learn how to work these new fangled things. Two of us got touch screens . . . and I just keep yelling, CORYN, how do I work this thing . . . makes me think of George Jetson on the treadmill calling for Jane . . . and how old that memory makes me. These phones make me feel old too. Technology is moving a little too fast for my comfort these days.

Everything else is going okay. Work is continuing to tax me (and don't even get me started on the topic of taxes themselves) and I am currently writing more than 800 assessments that are making my eyes cross and my fingers fall off. . . I'm on 350 and counting.

Thanks for stopping by. Leave me a comment so I know it was YOU.