The Next Great Adventure

So, we moved this weekend.

That’s right. We moved. We weren’t planning on it really, we were just going to get a few boxes out of the way, but a friend with a truck came over and one thing led to another and bippity-boppity-boo I suddenly looked around and thought “Oh no! What have we done?”

So now I have two places that are a wreck – the house is full of boxes and random stacks of cleaning/painting supplies, and the apartment has miscellaneous objects scattered around that either weren’t boxed up or have not yet been needed at the new house. I can’t get the apartment cleaned because I’m trying to sort out the new house, and I can’t get the new house sorted because I’m trying to go back over and clean the apartment. So it’s been an interesting few days.

I have to admit, there were a few moments in the moving process when I felt gripped by a sudden panic and an intense desire to put everything back where we had it. I liked our apartment, all in all. Everything was (mostly) organized and had a place, and I liked it that way. But, as the Mister has reassured me several times, it was time for us to move on.

We had our first great homeowners adventure immediately after our moving-helpers left, when I went into the guest bathroom and heard the distinct sound of running water, which seemed to be coming from the wall next to the shower (which, yes, was turned off). There was no visible dripping or puddling or signs of water damage, but nothing we did would stop the noise. So, after much banging on and listening to of the walls, I made an appointment with a plumber.

The plumbers came yesterday and, at first, thought replacing a few parts in the toilet tank would fix the problem. But the noise persisted. After an hour and a half and about 10 trips into the crawl space, the man finally diagnosed “house gremlins.” (Actually, it’s a long and complicated story, but essentially the toilet bowl is leaking directly into another pipe, so we hear the water dripping but it’s not actually leaking OUT anywhere and causing puddles or mold. So we’re just going to learn to ignore the noise and move on.)

So that’s done, but now my brand-new washing machine is making a terrible noise and I’m probably going to have to call Lowes and have them come out and look at it.

*sigh* Why did we do this again?

But really, hiccups and panic attacks aside, I really do enjoy being in the new house. Our bedroom is bigger, our closet is bigger, and we don’t have the neighbor’s unruly children running up and down the stairs right outside our front door (although there is a very suspicious poodle close by). The dogs are starting to settle in, I think, with Lucy adapting much faster than Meera, who is still sort of on a food strike.

Maybe someday we’ll have more than just the few badly-painted walls that I started the day of our closing.

Happy Tuesday,

The Missus (of a new castle)

 

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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?

Our Soundtrack – A letter to singles everywhere

I was flipping through the CD collection in my car over the weekend, and I came across a disc I had forgotten exists.

“Our Soundtrack.”

I put this mix together while in an old relationship and had forgotten it was still in the case with the others. Popping it into the player, I recognized some of the songs because they are still popular today, while others I’m completely rediscovering. I’m sure I painstakingly assembled this collection with an exact reason for each track selected. I’m sure it took me days, maybe even weeks, to decide on the final list. But to tell you the truth… I don’t remember what those reasons were.

There are only two songs of the 14 that I can relate to a specific event in that relationship, but the others are just music.

When I made that CD I was either 16 or 17, chasing a guy that I had to beg to love me at every step. Don’t get me wrong, we were wonderful friends and I cherish the many good times we had together, but I was also convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to spend my life with him (if only I could make him see that).

Over the two+ years that I tried to make that relationship work, I had so many adults smile their all-knowing smiles and tell me that I was too young to possibly have any idea what love was. They all told me that when I got older I would look back and realize that my childish infatuation wasn’t love at all. Well, I’m older now, and I still have to disagree. I hate when the older generation tells the younger that it doesn’t know what love is, and I hope I never laugh at my children and say those same things. I believe, even now, that I was in love at the time. I was in love with all the heart that I had at 17. It wasn’t reciprocated, and it wasn’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real on my end.

It also doesn’t mean it was the kind of love to last forever – not all love does. One of the most important things that relationship, and that boy, taught me is that love isn’t meant to be something you work for. Yes, you have to work on it constantly, feed it and help it grow every day, but it’s not something you should have to grovel for, collect scraps for. I never had much luck with boyfriends in high school or in college; I think I killed the potential by trying too hard. (That mixed CD, for example, probably wasn’t a good idea.) But all those failures only taught me what an amazing thing it was to meet the man who is now my husband and be able to have an easy conversation, not feeling like I had to be constantly witty, not being bothered by the fact that my hair hadn’t been washed in two days. If I hadn’t had that first sort of relationship, I may not have recognized how special the second was – and still is.

So this is what I want any unmarried person who might be reading this to know: You don’t know what your future holds, and if it doesn’t hold that guy or that girl you’ve been trying to catch for years, then that’s ok. Because you know what? There’s a reason for that. Love can be real in many forms, but love is only lasting if you didn’t have to beg and plead for it in the first place. If you have to come up with a list of reasons why that person should want to be with you, then you are better off waiting for someone who knows those reasons on their own. I promise; I’ve made those lists and had those arguments and I can tell you that it’s so much better knowing you were enough all on your own.

I don’t have a CD of mine and the Mister’s soundtrack, but if I did, it would include the sound of canoe paddles splashing in the Duck River as we go backwards through the rapids; the excited bark of our dog as she chases him through the backyard; and probably my laughter as he threatens to put ice cubes down the back of my shirt. It would also have arguments and door slamming and the angry rev of an engine. It’s been put together on the fly – as life happens on its own. It’s not painstakingly assembled, and it’s not labeled with perfect sharpie hearts and swirls. It’s made from real life – real love and real mistakes – and it’s so much better that way.

How old am I?

Last week I was trying to figure out the age of an old friend and was using the ages of other old friends as benchmarks. The conversation with the Mister went something like this:

“So his brother was a sophomore when I was a junior, and he is a year older than my brother, and my brother is going to be … [math in my head] … 22… 22? That can’t be right, because I’m only… wait… how old am I?”

Yes. I actually and honestly did not know. The Mister said, “Well my birthday is on Sunday and I’m going to be 25, so that makes you….?” He waited for me to answer.

I didn’t.

“24,” he said. “That makes you 24.”

Oh. Really??

When did I reach a point in my life where I not only don’t really care how old I am, but I didn’t even KNOW when prompted?

I can’t figure out if that’s normal or just depressing.

I guess I don’t really need it anymore though. It’s been more than a decade (wow, can I really say decade?) since someone crouched down in front of me and asked, “And how old are you, sweetie?” I mean, sometimes people at doctor’s offices need to know for whatever reason, and I suppose I give them the right answer, but if I hadn’t been born in a year ending in 0 – thus making my age match the last digit of whatever year we are in – I probably wouldn’t even be able to do that.

I’m me. I’m a young adult. So does it really matter? I’m inclined to say no, because the next time I need to know, I’m just going to ask my husband because Mr. Smarty-Pants seems to keep up with that sort of thing.

[And no, I probably won’t know off the top of my head how old my children are either. They’ll just be “babies” or “toddlers” or “in middle school” or whatever other obvious stage they’re in at the time and that’s what I’ll have written on their birthday cakes too. It just makes everything easier.]

Happy Wednesday, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person

Obviously my wife didn’t marry the “wrong” person (haha – get the joke, people), but these are excellent thoughts by somebody that I don’t know, but I already respect just from reading this. Enjoy.

-the missus

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person.

The future prepares us for who we will be, but the past has made us who we are.

It’s been a long, hard week at the Nut House. We are excited about the adventure ahead, but unfortunately that involved leaving behind a lot of the people, places and things that have helped us both come into our own these past few years.

I had originally planned for this to be a long, sappy post – a tribute to all the most important people and places in our lives – but no matter how hard I work to find the perfect words, I know I will never be able to properly describe and thank all those people I hate to be leaving behind. The friends who have built us up in hard times and been there to laugh and cry with us through everything; the coworkers who gave us our first chances out in the real world and always believed in our abilities; the places where memories were made, promises kept and new beginnings started… I could never do it all justice.

So after loading up our first married home (it somehow took five hours to load the uhaul trailer and three vehicles crammed to the brim), sorting our belongings three times for storage, having two complete emotional breakdowns and one last long, exhausting trip back to Middle Tennessee, we are finally (almost) ready to start this next leg of our journey. We spend this week with the Mister’s family and next week with mine, and then we leave.

**On that note, the Mister did find out today that he has been moved up to be a regular first semester student, instead of having to take the vet prep program first! So we’re saving thousands of dollars in private loans, three months on the island and lots of extra headache, so that’s the good news in all of this.**

Martin will never be the same again, but the memories we’ve made and the people we’ve known there will continue to shape us and the choices we make through the rest of our lives.

In the words of one of my favorite Broadway plays:
“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true. But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you…

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part, so much of me is made from what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart. And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend…

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
“For Good,” Wicked

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Confessions of a Future Vet School Wife

So last Thursday was a pretty typical day, until the phone call came.

“Honey? Guess what?”

“What?”

“I just got a phone call from someone on behalf of Erica Wasserman. I got in to Ross vet prep.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. We’re going to vet school!”

“Holy crap.”

*Hang up phone. Burst into tears.*

Yeah… not exactly the celebratory happy dance I was expecting to do. I want the Mister to go to vet school. I had finally gotten used to the idea of moving to the Caribbean (or so I thought). But the practical part of me was still preparing for plan B in case he didn’t get in. I’d been scanning potential job options and apartment styles, and thinking about puppies and babies – all the things I wanted out of the next phase of our lives. I guess I never stopped to think about how, if he did get in (and deep down I knew he would), I’d have to give all that up. At least for a while.

I cried for the high-profile job I always pictured myself having and I cried for the three-year gap in the impressive resume I’ve tried so hard to build. I cried for the amount of debt we’ll be in and the distance between us and home. I cried for the babies we’ll have to push back that much longer. And every “excited” phone call I made to parents and relatives made me cry that much more. I was determined not to let the Mister know that I wasn’t jumping up and down on the inside, but I did finally break down in front of him. I felt horrible for ruining his special, long-awaited acceptance day, but I couldn’t help it anymore.

I was giving up my life.

But I slept on it Thursday night and by the time I woke Friday morning I had come to a sort of subconscious clarity.

I’m moving to a place of indescribable beauty; a place tourists visit and wish they could stay, and I’ll get to watch their cruise ships leave as I call the island home. I’m going to have all kinds of cool stories and pictures to share with friends and family and to someday tell my children. I won’t have an awful gap in my resume because I’ll be able, hopefully, to work with the VIP spouses’ and children’s group to plan their social events and recreational activities. Hey, that’s PR too, isn’t it?

And maybe that big corner office isn’t as glamorous as I’ve always thought it would be. When we get back, I want to have babies, and that office often comes with long, unpredictable hours, phones ringing in the middle of the night, and un-family friendly schedules and responsibilities. Is that really what I want? And is it even about what I want, at that point?

More importantly, the Mister is going to get to go to vet school – the only thing he’s dreamed of doing since he was young. I should be grateful to the admissions committee for seeing his potential and giving him the opportunity to chase that dream when state-side schools wouldn’t give him a second glance. He is going to be a fantastic vet.

But most importantly, I also realized that I’m not giving up my life. It’s not my life anymore; it’s OUR life, and I promised to follow him for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, through sickness and in health. I promised to laugh with him and cry with him and be the soft place for him to land. I “gave up” my life almost a year ago, and the “our life” we’ve been living since has been wonderful. What’s to say the “our life” of the future won’t be just as good?

Sure we’ve got challenges ahead of all shapes and sizes, but we’ll figure out how to beat them one at a time. And who knows, maybe we’ll just learn something along the way. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

Advice about traveling, living as an ex-pat and handling veterinary school is all appreciated.