Monday, May 30, 2011

An Anniversary . . . . . Angsting . . . . and An Event

Today was the 29th anniversary of Joseph and I's first date. Periodically, throughout the day, we have reminisced about what we were doing 29 years ago . . . getting ready for the date, saying hello, going to a movie, kissing goodnight . . . for an hour. :) Those years have certainly flown by. I miss the 23-year-old me, but I much prefer who I am now.

The day was spent doing a number of things, including going to the Life is Good conference in Vancouver. It started on Thursday and ended today. It is always so refreshing to be immersed in hundreds of people with the same basic mind set about parenting and education as your own. I am continuously amazed at the unschooling community and the families in it. The love, the trust, the communication, the connections and the bonding are truly inspiring. The classes and workshops, even though I've been unschooling for 25 plus years, are still enlightening and empowering. I walk out feeling energized and loving my children even more than usual. This year was sobering, however, because instead of four kids with me, or three, or two . . . I had one. And that one was completely independent. He stayed in a hotel room with friends, checked in now and then for food and then was off again. He had an AMAZING time and I was thrilled for him, but will admit I cried more than a few times over the fact that I had no little ones to hold and chase and nurse and carry and play with and change. There were lots of them there and I considered wearing a sign that said, "Grandchild deprived. . . will hold your baby for free for as long as you need me to." I was afraid people might think I was a tad odd, though.

We got to see Caspian today, which was wonderful. We took up some items he needed (warm coat, more socks) and stuff he wanted (snacks, books) and visited for a little while. He already looks older and is tickled that he got the chance to use a chain saw already. (shudder) He is sick of rain and living in a tent already so I am hoping the weather gets better for his sake. He took us on a walk to see the outhouse and all I could think was, NO THANKS. Did I cry when I said goodbye to him this time? I bet you can guess.

Wonderful anniversary . . . . amazing conference . . . . and a daughter in Alaska who is struggling so much that she is never off of my mind. Her job is proving to be wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more difficult than we had imagined, in terms of rough co-workers and unbelievably demanding work (4 hours at a time of doing dishes . . . 14.5 hour days . . . ) I am listening and commiserating and doling out advice when asked and just hoping she can get it all figured out. I am also duct taping Tiger Mother's mouth so she stays out of it. Grrrrrrrrrr.

So a busy time indeed. Hard to believe June is almost here, especially since the weather has been cold and wet and very March-like. Helps me keep working instead of playing in the sun though.

Stay tuned. More life to follow soon, I'm sure. In the meantime, send my girl in Anchorage some good thoughts, ok?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Left my Heart in San . . . No, in Anchorage and Rhododendron

I have recently learned something about myself. I am not ready for my children to be adults. I know that I don't have any choice. I know that they are turning into fabulous human beings that I am proud of. I know that growing up is inevitable. I know that I LOVE these grown up people they have become. But since growing up also seems to mean GOING AWAY, I am voting against aging.

Today we took Caspian to Rhododendron, Oregon to a 55-acre farm that is having young people from all over the country come out to help them with building yurts, landscaping gardens, clearing forest and lots of other major outdoor projects. He took his tent, sleeping bag, suitcase, and iPod. We got there and got the tour and it is a beautiful place indeed. Huge mountains surround the area, covered in blankets of pine trees. The team will spend the summer turning rough country into a future resort/retreat and the work will be HARD and physical and exhausting--and I suspect he will absolutely love it. That will come. . . today he was just understandably overwhelmed at the barrage of information they were giving him.

I followed him on the tour, taking pictures, oohing and aahing over the scenery, nodding politely at the details of their projects and at the same time wondering just why the HELL these people expected my little boy to be able to do any of this stuff. Then I looked at this big 18 yr old man in front of me and realized that I was the only one seeing that little boy standing there. Everyone else saw this muscled young man and I saw this tiny, tow headed prankster.

When it came time to say goodbye, I found myself fighting the same tears I just went through with Nicole a month ago. How can you be SO happy and excited for someone and so heart broken at the same time?!? How can you want to admire their stepping out into the world, while you really want to super glue them to their rooms? I've never felt such ambivalence in my life as saying goodbye to my children.

I will cope. I will adjust. I will cry less. I will keep busy. I will buck up and be a . . . . mom. But I've already warned Coryn that if he even mentions going anywhere, I will have to hurt him. He does not look frightened. Sigh.

I am sure any day he will say, Hey mom . . . . can I go . . . . and I will say, of course and help him pay the bill, pack the bags, make the plans and walk out the door.

Then you can just stop by and see me curled up on the couch, crying and wondering just what the hell I am supposed to do with myself without these people in my house to pester me and remind me that they are hungry AGAIN.

Bring chocolate.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mother's Angst, Update

My mind kept wandering today as I knew Nicole was talking to her supervisor about her struggles and I wanted so badly to know how she was doing. When she called, I couldn't grab the phone fast enough. It turns out that at least three other people had noticed how unkind a co-worker was being to Nicole and had reported it. This was validating, of course. We tend to think we are being oversensitive or taking things too personally sometimes, and so it helped to know that Nicole's assessment of how she was being treated was accurate. The supervisor stated that the combination of these two was a dreadful one--very different personalities and work styles. She agrees that ultimately a transfer is the best idea and I am betting that will happen. In the meantime, the employee is being "talked to", which may help but I suspect will only make this co-worker more hostile.

In the meantime, Nicole is hanging in there, being stubborn and determined and very unlike the word her supervisor described her as ("meek"). So keep those prayers and good wishes and thoughts heading our way and I will keep you updated on the situation and the mama's angst.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Motherhood ain't for Sissies

There is little in life as disturbing and unsettling to me than any of my children being in mental and/or physical discomfort. Right now I'm juggling a bit of that and it reminds me that being a mom ain't easy. Every gray hair is earned.

So, having Nicole 2,500 mile away is really, really hard but if she is horseback riding and making friends and getting flirted with, it's bearable. When she is going to work and being mistreated by co-workers and putting in 15 hour days, it's not so bearable. She is working in the kitchen with the head cook who happens to be a . . . . well, fill in your favorite word for unpleasant female. She is rude to Nicole, insults her, ignores her and generally makes her very long days much longer. Nicole has done everything she can think of to cope with it, but is running out of options. Tomorrow she meets with a superior to ask for some guidance and we are all hoping that that turns out to be the solution. I suspect a transfer to a different team will be the ultimate solution, but we will see. In the meantime, Mama is angsting like crazy for this girl so far away.

Caspian is doing well but is getting ready to leave for the summer and I am not ready to send him off. Coryn is doing well. . .counting the days until Memorial Day weekend because we are going to the Life is Good unschooling conference and he looks forward to it all year.

I am doing well although swamped with work. The last few days have been really lovely and so Joseph and I have been sleeping out on the back deck under the stars. We have an air mattress, lots of cozy warm blankets and it is so lovely . . . I think people think we are nuts but there are no bugs, no morning dew . . . the only thing there is is this DAMN BIRD who greets the dawn by making this incredibly unpleasant squawking noise about three feet from my head. I would sic the cat on it, but the cat is usually curled up next to me on the mattress sleeping thru it all.

So that's life. Oh, although the diet is not as strict as it was, I am sticking to it pretty closely. As of today, I have lost 33 lbs. It's painfully slow, but it keeps trickling down and that makes me happy. Until I think about Nicole . . . . and then Mama ain't happy for long. Keep your fingers crossed for her, say a prayer, throw the runes, whatever you do (assuming you weren't taken up in the rapture today, that is, snicker) and send her good thoughts, ok? Thanks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Whazzup with the Orrs

Life in the Orr house is coming along well, albeit a tad hectic. Latest news includes. . . .

Joseph finally found out why the VW Thing was not working properly. It was driving him nuts and he had replaced everything he could, read about it online, posted on forums and called friends. At last he has it figured out. We indirectly rejoiced for him.

Nicole's adventures in Alaska continue. She is finished with her training and then she got a week off. She has spent it in Palmer, staying at a horseback riding farm. She has been riding for hours every day and seeing amazing sites. She has also learned to do some cooking and baking, has fed chickens, entertained a persistent kitten, and learned coping skills for living with a couple that tends to fight quite a bit. She returns to Anchorage on Monday, and starts work on Tuesday. Then, she works three days, gets two off, works three, two off, and so on. As an assistant prep cook, she will prepare plates and foods for the servers to take out to passengers.

Caspian leaves on the 24th (only 9 days) for his summer at the organic farm. He is getting eager and already wanting to pick a suitcase and start packing. I admit I am loathe to see him pack bags as I shall miss him terribly, but I am also happy for his upcoming adventures.

Coryn is looking forward to camp in August but worrying, along with his parents, at how we are going to afford it. The balance must be paid by the first of June and since they combined sessions this year, the price is a WHOPPER. I've been trying to save it but it has not been successful as of yet. I keep hoping someone will pay me more or extra or early or something, but we will see.

As for me, I am doing fairly well. I recently was given FOUR new jobs and of course, they aren't due consecutively but simultaneously and it will be quite the challenge to keep up with all of them. I will do my best, but I am guessing the coming two or three weeks will be stuffed full of stress, chocolate, pressure, deadlines and coffee. If I can make it through, I will have earned a bundle and have learned quite a few new skills in the process. I just hope I won't go crazy at the same time.

That's all that is new at the Orr House. If you stop by, leave a message. I always enjoy checking who has come by to see me (except for those damn spammers, that is!)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blessed Mom and Wife

As you probably already know about me, I write a lot of letters. Some of the people that I write to are single men. NO, not that kind of letter writing! Sheeesh. These are just guys who actually like to put pen to paper and I appreciate that. I write to them and we talk about all kinds of things. One topic I've asked them about is marriage and family. As a person who cannot fathom going through life without either one, I am curious about those people who make the decision to not marry or have children.

I've been amazed at what I've heard from these people. It doesn't seem to be a case of they didn't find the right person or they almost married and something went terribly wrong. Instead, these men have deeply cynical viewpoints about what marriage is. One wrote, "I don't want to live a life of someone telling me what I can do and say. I don't want to get permission to make a decision." Another stated, "I hear about all the stress and anger that comes in marriage and trying to raise children, and I am grateful I never had to deal with that." Apparently their role models for marriage must have been pretty lousy.

Maybe it was parents, Maybe it was neighbors or friends, or more likely, some of the couples you see on television. Fortunately, both Joseph and I have had great role models for marriage. Both of our parents were married for more than 50 years. Perfect marriages? Hardly. No such animal, methinks. But strong ones with lots of love.

If I could do my life all over again, I would certainly make some changes. I'd spend more time with this person, less with this one. Study less and travel more. Worry less and celebrate more. But there are a couple things I wouldn't change at all. I wouldn't change who I married (although wish we had met earlier) and I wouldn't change having four children. I might have done everything I could to hold on to the oldest one, in hindsight, but I wouldn't give up the years I had with her for anything. And the other three? I cherish every day. They are all blessings. I feel sorry for those lonely guys that they don't know how it feels to have someone who loves them put their arms around them and reassure them that everything will work out fine. A child's hand in theirs. A close bond of years. A whispered "I love you" in the dark. A child's voice on the phone calling you "Mom" (or "Dad"). An internal knowing that part of you goes on forever.So, on Mother's Day, I will be grateful for my own mom (pictured here, and man, would she be upset that I put her picture online when her hair and makeup wasn't perfect. . . but this is how I remember her), my mother in law, my friends who are moms, my children and my husband. Live alone? Please--no. Never. I'm the blessed one.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Birthday Post, Part 2

I came downstairs and found a post it note on my monitor telling me to look at my keyboard.

"Step One," it read. "Look at the back door."
It had another note, which read, "Step Two, Look at where dad keeps the plates"
Sure enough, note three which stated, "Step Three, Go to the restroom and look at the mirror"
(And yes, it could have then said something wicked about see the old woman's reflection there, but it didn't.)
Post it note #4 read, "Step Four, go to where we keep the tea".
Number 5 stated, "Go to Nic's room and look at the back of Nic's door"
Number 6 read, "The last one. Step Six, look in the crock pot"
Inside the crock pot was the last note saying, "Happy Birthday Mom" and a beautiful necklace I had admired week's ago in a store.
This gift was from my son, Caspian. The one who hates to write wrote out those notes and taped them around the house. He touches my heart.
They all touch my heart.

Oh, and Nicole's gift to me . . .she bought it before she even went to Alaska. How is that for planning ahead? It was one plaque that reads, "Danger Mother at Work!" and another that describes that once we were just mother and daughter, but now we are blessed enough to also be friends. Both go in my office where I can see them every day

What I Want for my Birthday

Today is my birthday and I am 52. Already I've gotten several birthday cards (my favorite being the one next to my pillow this morning from my hubby with the world's sweetest note in it) and I was serenaded at 12:05 a.m. by two teenage boys, a husband and a daughter on speaker phone from Alaska. I received some most welcome chocolate from amimental (which I am rationing out to myself) and a wonderful box full of goodies in the mail from a friend in Texas.

Although I will work today, I will smile to myself, knowing it is a special day. And I will deeply appreciate every gesture, every note, every card I receive, knowing they were given to me with love. So, here is my brief indulgence in wishing . . . . The four things I wish I could have for my birthday this year are:

1. my mom and dad calling me to sing to me, usually off key but charming and heartfelt
2. Shayne sending me one of his amazing handmade, painted cards
3. Jasmine sitting at the kitchen table and sharing a piece of cake with us
4. Nicole hugging me when I come down the stairs this morning

For various reasons, I will not get these four things, but that's ok too. I had them once and I hold them all close in my heart, so they are still there.

Of course, a check in the mail so I can breathe a little easier would brighten the day as well :) but if not, we will deal with that too. And I will keep smiling because today is my special day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

18 and 15

Somehow birthdays just have the ability to make you aware of the time passing, don't they? Remember those pics I posted a few days ago with my grown up sons? Well these pics remind me of how they looked . . just a few days ago .. .

April 22, my son Caspian turned 18. EIGHTEEN. That simply seems impossible. He has been looking forward to it for ages because so many more opportunities open up at that age. In three weeks, he will leave to go to Zig Zag, a small town up on Mt. Hood, where he will spend a great deal of the summer living in a tent and building yurts and fences and a stage out on an organic farm with a group of other people. Why is it that I can help him get ready for this but whenever I look at him, I still see the white-haired toddler who loved to hide between the refridgerator and the stove?

And today, Coryn, the "baby" turned 15. FIFTEEN. Just . . . when? He is this tall, handsome young man like his brother (the two used to be asked if they were twins . . . now that they are almost adults, they are being asked again. They still bristle at the idea.) Yesterday I watched both of them helping friends move and lifting and carrying boxes and furniture and being MEN instead of my boys.

And just to enforce the idea of time passing, I turn 52 on Tuesday. Eeek. I swear I only feel 35 (on most days). When did those 50s sneak in there?

Ah well, they say time flies when you're having fun and if my years are going by this fast, then it simply means I having one wonderful life. That's a nice gift indeed.