Just… ring… the doorbell…

I haven’t forgotten all my readers, I promise! The Mister and I are working on a few big projects around the house, and everything has unconsciously taken a backseat until those are done. But I’m here, I’m alive, and this morning, I was locked out of my house.

When I grabbed my lunchbox and headed out to the car (because my priorities are obviously in order), I briefly thought my arms should be heavier. Then the door clicked shut, and I knew.

You know that feeling when you suddenly become aware that something very bad has happened, and you know there is nothing you can do about it, but your brain is still in denial?

Yeah, that feeling.

When the door clicked shut behind me, my first words were, “No… no no no no no!”

Sure enough, my purse, with my house keys, car keys, cell phone, wallet and everything else essential to my day, was sitting at the kitchen table, three feet from the locked door I was standing behind.

I knew this day would come. I knew it. From the first day we moved into this house I knew the moment would arrive where I would stand in the garage and stare at my keys through the back window. And here it was at last. Had I prepared for it by putting a spare key somewhere? No. Of course not. That’s what a smart person would do. And you’re about to see I’m not exactly a smart person.

I wanted to avoid having the Mister come home from work to let me in, so my first impulse was to shake and rattle the back door to convince myself that I had, in fact, actually locked it behind me. (Yes, people, I do have a college degree.) Then I tried the front and back doors, hating myself for being a responsible home owner and locking the house up tight before I left.

Then I spent 10 minutes trying to open the back windows from the outside. (It cannot be done, which is both reassuring and incredibly frustrating at the same time.)

Then I walked a few houses down the main road to where some friends of ours live, not sure if they would even be home. All three cars were in the driveway, all signs pointed to yes, so I knocked on the door.

And I knocked. And knocked a few more times. And called their names and told them it was me. And briefly considered trying to set off one of their car alarms.

Nobody answered, so I walked back to my house and woke up another neighbor who was nice enough to let me call the Mister to come to my rescue. He came, he laughed, he went back to work. An hour after I left for work, I finally arrived at my office.

The first thing I did was send a message to my friends who didn’t answer the door.

“What good is it knowing people who live down the street if they won’t let you in when you lock yourself out of the house?” (half kidding. mostly kidding. I think.)

Response: “We didn’t hear you. You should have used the doorbell.”

THE DOORBELL!!

Why in the world did I not just ring the doorbell???????!!!!!

What in the world is wrong with me!??

I had actually, very briefly, noticed the doorbell when I first walked up, but I made the decision to knock instead. Maybe the brain cells that were awake thought that would be less rude, somehow? At any rate, I didn’t encode the information or go back to it when the knocking didn’t work.

Just. Ring. The doorbell.

Good grief.

 

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I’m baaaaaaacckkk!

So WOW this has been a crazy summer! I have been in my own house three weekends since the end of April, and two of those weekends were spring commencement and vacation Bible school, so really only the third one counted.

I didn’t make the trip home this many times in an entire year of college, if that gives you some perspective.

Between the MIL being sick (she’s been through a lot but is progressing well!) and all the weddings (Oy. All the weddings…) it’s been one rollercoaster of a summer term. There is only one more wedding to go – and it’s in the family!

My baby brother is getting married this Friday, and I am blessed to be gaining a sweet, wonderful sister-in-law. (Beware, sister-in-law, you will now be fair game for blog material.)

But after that, no more! If you’re not already on my wedding calendar for the year 2016, I’m sorry, but we won’t be attending. No hard feelings; I just can’t take it anymore.

[It just occurred to me… sister-in-law came into my life after I abandoned the blog for the summer… so poor thing doesn’t even know what she’s getting into. Oh well. So sad for her. No free passes.]

Also – if one more person comes up to me and says, “But your students are on summer break, right? You can’t be that busy,” one more time, I’m telling you, I’m gonna snap. All that material new freshmen get when they come to campus the first time, where do you think all of that comes from? The alumni magazine you get in the mail in September is not written by forest fairies, and who, exactly, do you think gets the course catalog updated and put in the bookstore?

Umm… yeah… that would be us.

 

How my fur-baby is teaching me to be a parent.

I’ve never gotten a Mother’s Day card. I’ve never had labor pains or contractions. I’ve never sat outside my baby’s door while he cried and prayed for him to soothe himself to sleep.

But I have comforted a scared baby in the middle of the night while the thunder rolls. I have rolled groggily out of bed in the wee hours to take care of bathroom needs. I have inspected poop and discussed bathroom habits at length. I have had a tiny head (or a heavy head, in recent weeks) fall asleep on my chest; I have also woken up with small feet in my ribs. I have taken my baby to sitters’ houses and to the doctor’s office and driven away while she cried and didn’t understand why I was leaving.

She didn’t come from my own body and I didn’t carry her for nine months, but she is no less my baby than someone else’s two-legged human child. And she has and is teaching me many things about how to be a good parent to those human children if and when they hopefully come along.

She has phases just like human children – she throws tantrums, she listens well sometimes and not at others, she is smart one day and sort of dumb the next. I have phases too; phases where I love her so much one moment and want to lock her in a box the next. I feel like that’s probably normal.

The phase we are in now is wanting to sleep on the bed at night, and I am learning a lot from the successes and failures of this phase.

She is allowed on the bed during the day, but has learned that she must (A) be invited, and (B) stay on the blue part of the comforter. These two things have been successful, although I don’t know how they stuck so well, but we at least have that.

In St. Kitts, she slept in the floor but would spend the last hour (between potty time and real waking up time) sleeping on the foot of the bed. When we came back to America, we decided there would be no dogs sleeping on the bed at all. This worked for a while and we didn’t have any problems. Then came the winter, when it was cold and I wanted to avoid taking her out to potty as long as possible. I found Meera would sleep longer and more soundly if we let her sleep at the foot of the bed; so we did. This also served the double purpose of keeping our feet extra toasty. When the summer started, she made us too hot and had to resume sleeping in the floor.

Well, she didn’t like that so much.

At first, she would give us the horrible pleading puppy eyes at bedtime and we wouldn’t have the heart to make her move. She got her way for a while. Then, she would start out in the floor but later disregard the “must be invited” rule and sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night when we either wouldn’t notice or would be too exhausted to bother trying to correct her. She won again. Now, most recently, she starts out in the floor and tries to sneak onto the bed. I make her get down and tell her to be quiet. She settles back into the floor for about 10 minutes before taking up a post near my head and groaning softly until I acknowledge her presence.

“Hush, Meera! Lie down!”

She resumes her silent staring. A few minutes later, the groaning starts again. “NO, Meera!” Silence. Then she’ll go around to the foot of the bed and try to make another sneak attempt where she doesn’t have to climb over me and might get away with it. The Mister wakes up irritated at this point.

“Meera! Get down! Shut up!”

This cycle repeats itself throughout the night.

On the one hand, I’m always tempted to just pat the mattress and let her win. It’s faster, easier, and I can go back to sleep without further incident. That little head curled up on my legs is so comforting. But there is always the inevitable moment hours later when I try to move my legs and can’t – there’s a very large, very solid object in the way. Said object is more than half my body weight and very, very warm. Said object is also, probably, snoring. You see, she observes the “stay only on the blue part” rule very well, and at night, when the comforter is pulled up around the Mister and I, the entire bed is the blue part… and she wants it all.

Down she goes into the floor again and the routine resumes. I don’t feel like we’re getting much sleep.

On the other hand, I can stay strong, be firm and say no. It won’t kill her to sleep in the floor or in the armchair in the living room. This, while painful for me now, is ultimately for her own good. Parents have to be the bad guys sometimes. If I let her win, she will run my life. I am her mother, not her friend. Be a parent, not a peer. Stay strong!

The voices in my head repeat these and other such cliches throughout the cycle.

In the morning, she’s always by my feet. I don’t know how this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow.

So, in summary, parenting lessons learned:

  • Don’t let the babies start doing things you don’t want them to do forever, because it’s harder to change the habit than to prevent the habit.
  • When you say no, mean it. They know when you are weak. Be strong!!
  • Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it’s hurting her.
  • Punishments must be consistent and predictable. She has to know that when she gets on the bed or knocks over the trash or doesn’t come when she’s called she will get a predictable, unpleasant result every. single. time. Not just sometimes, because she’s willing to play the odds. (See #2.)
  • I am a total pushover.

I think everyone thinking of someday having human children should have to train a dog first.

What do you think?

Holy Mackerel!

Operation In-law Week is off to a great start! Monday the four of us chartered a deep sea fishing boat for a half-day tour, and what started out as a rather boring loop-de-loop offshore turned into a battle to stay in the boat as a very angry mackerel tried to pull us all in with him.

We had expected to be taken to a particular fishing area and allowed to fish off the side of the boat until we caught something, but that’s not actually how it works. Instead, the captain rides back and forth along the coastline while the deckhand strings six poles and releases the bait into the water. Then, you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Then, with any luck, one of the poles will eventually jump. This is your cue to jump into the special reeling chair and take the pole handed to you by the deckhand and try to pull “your fish” into the boat.

The Mister reeled in the first fish – a large mackeral about 18 or so inches long. An hour and two lost bites later, his dad got to reel in a beautiful barracuda. Then, it was boring for a very long time. You can only play “i spy something blue” for so long.

As we were on our way back from Nevis, one of the poles jumped violently and everyone started. It was my turn. I jumped into the reeling chair and grabbed the rod that was handed to me… and immediately realized I am not strong enough to turn it. The Mister rushed over to help me, and even with the both of us reeling the fish was not ready to cooperate. It ended up getting so wrapped around another of our lines that the Mister had to reel in one rod and the deckhand had to reel in the other just to keep both lines from snapping.

This continued for a good ten minutes with no progress being made at all, so the captain finally came down to the deck to help. It took the Mister AND his dad reeling the first rod, the deckhand reeling the second and the captain leaning over the back of the boat trying to haul the fish in bodily to defeat it. Judging from the fight it put up, we were expecting a shark! It turned out to be a spotted mackerel almost two feet long, which the mister estimated to weigh close to 15 pounds. It was an exciting catch.

(Yes, at this point the captain is on the deck pulling in a fish and untangling line, so nobody is steering the boat. Which is why my father-in-law and I can now put “helped drive a fishing boat” on our lists of personal accomplishments. :])

We only kept the fillets from the big mackerel and let the captain and deckhand have the others. One fillet served all four of us! I roasted the pieces in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and we ate them with rice and some red potato wedges from Sunday’s big lunch. It was surprisingly good, and the Mister and I still have a whole fillet in the freezer for a rainy day!

Today we visited Brimstone National Fortress and Caribelle Batik, where they make a type of Caribbean dyed fabric. My legs might never walk another set of stairs again! Nevis is on the agenda for tomorrow, so wish us luck getting onto a car ferry that apparently leaves whenever it feels like it, regardless of the posted schedule. :/

Meera is getting to go play with Daisy and Penny – American dogs that belong to our friends – tomorrow, so that will save her from a whole day in her kennel. She’s really taken a shine to “Nanna” and “Big Dad” and hates to leave their sides. First grandpup is a success!

Happy mid-week to you all, and to all a good night.

Deck the halls with food and pastries, fa la la la la la la la la

Oh my goodness. I’ve eaten more food in the last week then I think I’ve had in a month on the island. That was the ultimate goal after all, so I am definitely far from complaining, but man! I’d forgotten there were so many choices in the world!

Red meat, flaky pastries, soft potatoes, fragrant sauces, dips and creams; meals served with complimentary rolls and cinnamon butter; steamed vegetables that don’t include pumpkin squash… It’s been incredible. I actually got to a point this weekend where I would have done almost anything just to sit on the couch and have a simple bowl of Captain Crunch cereal. We are so blessed to have friends and family fighting for the time to take us out to eat. My father-in-law has actually been keeping a list over the past months of places and foods that I’ve mentioned craving (which reminds me, never mention something unless you are one thousand percent sure you have to have it).

We are so incredibly blessed and happy to be home. Our first Christmas evening is tonight, with the rest of the Mister’s family exchanging gifts tomorrow and then meeting up with my side of the family starting Christmas day around dinnertime. It’s been a fantastic break so far and we still have almost two weeks until we return to what the Mister has been calling “the island of misfit toys.”

Meera, for those who’ve been wondering, is doing fine. She’s got a big yard and a half-dozen new friends to cause havoc with, so I’m more concerned about the girls watching her than I am about her. (And about the state of our old house, which has two dogs sleeping unattended in it until we return.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

There’s no place like home…

Being home at long last has been nothing short of fantastic. Everything from the crowd of family waiting for us at the airport to the naked trees to the easy turn of the wheel in my Honda to the quick and courteous service at various restaurants and shopping centers across middle Tennessee. I had finally adjusted to island life before we left, and now that I’m here I can’t believe what we have grown accustomed to.

I mean, when I walked into Firehouse Subs today in the ‘Boro a half-dozen people shouted, “Welcome to Firehouse!” I almost fell over in fright. If somebody yelled at me when I walked into Rituals Coffee on the island I would automatically start looking for whatever I had just done horribly wrong.

We’ve been to Cracker Barrel and Olive Garden and I’ve been eating myself almost sick since we got off the plane. The mother-in-law and I went grocery shopping today and the tremendous amount of fresh foods everywhere, in their fabulous array of bright, not-rotting colors, made me want to buy and cook everything in the store just because I could. And the cashier had a CONVERSATION with us! It’s unheard of; doesn’t she know you’re not supposed to acknowledge the existence of the person in front of you until it’s time to demand their payment?? The nerve of her.

Anyway, we have lunches and dinners booked with various family members throughout this week, and I’m sure the same will happen once we get to the ‘Boro starting Christmas day. It’s just such a good feeling to be home and sleep beneath heavy piled blankets and wake up to hot chocolate and the fluffy little dogs barking at the birds in the feeders.

Oh – and something else I’ve learned since we got home – it’s apparently much easier to ski on Wii sports if you do it with your butt in the air and don’t look at the screen. The Mister now holds the family high-score, but we’ll never let him forget how he got there…

The Making of Heirlooms

Today I started teaching my roommate, B, how to crochet. (Crochet is a yarn craft that resembles knitting except you use one hook instead of two needles.)

She’s been asking for a while and I’ve been meaning to sit down and show her, but neither of us has ever gotten around to it until today. So now there is a little line of loosely-woven single crochet stitches draped across a table in our living room – the beginnings of B’s very first potholder. I’m so proud. 🙂

I learned to crochet from my mother, who said “yarn over from back to front, back to front” I have no idea how many times when I was younger. I had a hard time understanding why the direction of the yarn made any difference when the product would turn out the same anyway. I remember making endless granny-square circles in ambitious baby-blanket projects that turned out big enough to cover entire beds. (Which reminds me, I made my aunt a blanket when my cousin was born that I don’t think I’ve seen since… I should ask her about that.) My mother learned from her grandmother who, I assume, learned from someone else, and one day I’m sure I will (attempt to) teach my daughter. So B is good practice.

I haven’t crocheted much in past years, but I’ve picked the hobby back up since moving to the island and having very little else to do with my time. I’ve made two baby blankets for my mother-in-law to give as gifts, several potholders and trivet pads, and a rabbit. (Actually two rabbits, but the smaller one somehow looks more like a lopsided gorilla and is therefore not pictured.)

Mr. Flopsy - my first ever crochet animal

Mr. Flopsy – my first ever crochet animal

I normally stick to blankets and other flat items, so Mr. Flopsy is my first foray into the world of three-dimensional objects. (He looks strange because he’s stuffed with balls of notebook paper, since I didn’t have enough cotton pads to fill him.) Mr. Flopsy has his flaws, but the goal is to get really good at it and then sell the animals here as children’s toys (but with cotton stuffing, this time).

All of this got me to thinking – I know how to crochet, but how many family talents have I taken for granted and never learned to do myself? One of my great-grandmothers quilts, and while I think this is an interesting hobby, I never took the time to ask her to teach me. Who will make quilts when her generation is gone? My other great-grandmother and a grandmother can sew and embroider things, and while I have reaped the benefits of their skill my entire life, I’ve never taken enough time to learn well. (I can sew in a straight line and whip-stitch simple holes in socks, but that’s about it.) Who’s going to take in my children’s pants and make my granddaughters creative Halloween costumes when they are no longer able?

I suppose my excuse is that life is busy, things come up and other things get forgotten in the rush, but we really shouldn’t take talents like that for granted. Very few people today have family heirlooms that are more than 4-5 generations old. New heirlooms have to be made and passed down at some point, but if none of us young people learn to do things like sew and knit and carve, who’s going to make those heirlooms? Do we really want to be a society of people whose most precious family possessions have the words “Made in China” stamped somewhere on them?

I think not.

So Google “how to crochet for beginners.” Ask your grandfather how he carved that wooden horse on the mantle. Learn something worth passing down, because that’s how you’ll leave your mark on the world when you go.

What crafty skills do you have? Where did you learn them? Have you created anything you think might withstand the test of time?