When life becomes normal

One of the more difficult things about keeping the blog alive is finding topics that are relevant as well as interesting to my readers. I’ll contemplate a few current events, the political climate, and life then quickly realize one is always negative, the other is outright scary, and well, life is kinda boring. Not necessarily boring to me, but how much can one actually write about cats, dogs, and chickens? That’s pretty much what our lives have become. Not that either of us are complaining. If anything I think we’ve found some sense of incredible comfort in this simple little life of ours.

A few days ago I posted several photos of our pets on Facebook just hanging out in the backyard; running, playing, and doing doggie stuff. It made me realize their every moment of happiness is totally reliant upon my husband and I. They eat well, sleep well, and play with a smile on their face because we’ve provided that. It took me back to a time not so long ago where my days consisted of planning world travel while getting Botox. Not that dogs playing and Botox are even remotely related. But one has so little meaning in the big scheme of things while the other is suddenly my entire world. My husband and I have postponed and cancelled more vacations than I care to count because we just didn’t want to be away from the pets. Yeah, sounds crazy to some. But as happy as I like to think we make them, I know, without a doubt, they’re a huge part of our happiness as well.

See? This is one of those posts with absolutely no point and no real topic.

Ayam Cemanis. Yes. I raise exotic chickens from Indonesia.

The most emotional week of my… life?

If any of you still read my blog you’ve certainly noticed my blogging has come to a crawl and more recently, a standstill. I only blog from my laptop; I’m not one of those tab bloggers and probably never will be. I can only read news, check blogs, and work from my laptop. Everything else is done from the phone or tab. And considering I haven’t been on my laptop in over a week, I haven’t read the news, checked blogs, or even worked in a week! Much less written a blog post.

When my husband and I were first together there was a lot to blog about. New love, new life, new experiences. I found a lot of people were curious, would send emails with questions, and that would prompt another blog topic. Well, the same happens today but how much can I really say about my marriage without setting up video cameras in our home?

The positive side was that during that time life was so calm. Everything I had ever wanted seemed to be happening. No stress. No worries. And just genuine happiness. Again, not the greatest blog material. Surely my oh-so-chipper happiness gushing gets boring. If not sickening.

Well, none of the great happy stuff has changed — for years. Which sounds like the perfect life but I’ve recently discovered that’s not the case at all.

This past week was perhaps the most emotionally draining and painful week I’ve experienced in, well, for as long as I can remember. It felt as though the unfortunate incidents just wouldn’t stop coming. And with each one I felt more and more weak and helpless. It’s as if the ‘perfect life’ provided such a sense of comfort that dealing with tragedy was overwhelming. To the point I found myself unable to breathe as pain filled my already heavy heart. And now, I find myself bracing for the next big hit, wondering if and how I’ll even handle it. There are some things even my husband can’t fix.

Last week started off as normal as all others. Puppies (we still had 3 from the litter) running through the house, destroying everything in their path, but giving enough snuggles to make up for the damage. My husband doing his MIT coursework and working much of the day. And me chasing puppies, feeding cats, and walking dogs in between trying to be productive. My husband helps with the pet care taking but I try not to bother him when I know he’s studying or working on something important.

By mid-week anything resembling normal was about to change without notice.

First, Melicka (our Lab who currently owns my husband’s heart) was hit by a car with my husband and I standing right next to her. We saw it coming. We saw her running towards the road, the car coming at a high rate of speed, and us standing there helpless. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my life. Fortunately it looked much worse than it was. After a day at the emergency Vet and several days of recovery at home, she’s back to being herself other than some slow healing eye injuries.

During that incident we had been standing outside with the dogs and 3 of the puppies. I jumped in the car as my husband loaded our dog into the back so I could rush her to Vet as he stayed behind to look for the 3 puppies that had seen the incident and were scared away into the woods… deep woods. We were certain our dog was going to die and the 3 puppies would be lost in the woods and freeze to death overnight. I can’t even express the sickness I felt. I wanted to fix everything but had the power to do nothing at all. (The puppies were found within the hour. Cold and scared but perfectly fine)

A couple of days later, and while still nursing our baby back to health, it was time for the remaining puppies to go to their new homes. They’ve been with us for 3 months. We’ve become attached. We love them as if they belong here — regardless of the stress and destruction. So, off they went. We’re certain they’ve gone to fabulous homes and remind one another of that fact a number of times a day. But it still feels like a huge loss. I find myself needing to see their faces and know they’re happy. And yet again, nothing I can do but try to take comfort in the choices we made regarding their re-homing,

The same day all the puppies left for their forever homes one of our cats went missing. Sheikha. My little white Arabian Mau my husband rescued from the abusive little kids of Kuwait. The one who flew (along with our other cat) all the way to America with us. She sleeps under the blankets next to me. We have a song we sing together. And she has a special spot in my lap she snuggles in when she’s cold. There are no words to describe the love I have for this cat. We called her, we looked for her, we drove around for hours… no sign of her. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t concentrate, and I burst into tears every few minutes thinking I might never see that little face again. Buuuuut, when I had finally accepted I was going to have to get some sleep I saw her beautiful little face at the back door. I cried again… happy tears. My world fell back into place as quickly as it seemed to be falling apart.

As of today everything seems to be going along normally. Other than the unexpected snow storm (I’m sooooo over winter already). But I find myself just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. And all of these ‘tragedies’ were all animal related. Some people would think, ‘What kind of tragedy is that?’ But for us animal loving pet owners it’s crushing. Especially when it all seems to happen at once.

I recall several years ago, before meeting my husband, life wasn’t perfect. I faced a number of challenges, dealt with a bunch of crap, and had to solve every problem on my own. But I did it. And I like to think I did it well. I felt as though I had some form of control over my life. Or at least my emotions. I allowed a very carefully chosen crowd into my life, those I could trust wouldn’t hurt me (made a few mistakes there). And kept everyone else at a distance. I was well protected, even if it meant controlling every aspect of my encounters. And then along came my husband. He made me realize how easy it was to love and love deeply. He has never, not even once, hurt me. He makes sure I don’t worry, stress, or feel anything that might ‘bother’ me — it’s an Arab man thing. And I’ve gotten quite comfortable. Perhaps a bit too comfortable. I’ve sacrificed control for love. I no longer keep my emotions tightly within. I’m pretty much a fountain of overflowing love and feeling. It makes me vulnerable and I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that.

Is it best to keep our feelings to ourselves as a preemptive defense mechanism? Or is feeling the bad along with the good just part of life? If so, then all the dreams I had of ‘maturing into a comfortable, carefree, stress free life’ were just that…dreams.

The challenge of re-homing

I’ve often said I prefer animals over people, and sorry peeps, that hasn’t changed. There’s no love like the love of a pet; unconditional. I would say they ask for nothing in return but I know better… we currently share a home with 11, yes ELEVEN pets. And let me tell ya… they have some serious demands but I can’t imagine anything else I would rather be doing right now (typed as I hold a cat back from walking across the keyboard).

When Sultana arrived from Kuwait in late October she had packed a little too much baggage that no one was aware of. By early December, and without notice, she gifted us with 6 little bouncing bundles of love. Even our Vet who had seen her just 3 days earlier was surprised. She hid her pregnancy rather well.

Mommy & Son

Mommy & Son

Since having the puppies Sultana has come out of her shell, embraced her new home with us, and her personality is really shining through. She’s a true pleasure to watch. Yet at the same time her babies have also taken on personalities and become a very special part of our family. Hubby and I have had numerous conversations about the possibility of keeping them all. We have the land, we have the space inside the home, we have the means to care for them properly, however, what we don’t have is more room in our bed! And realistically keeping 6 puppies would just be too overwhelming. They’re only 7 weeks old now and already into absolutely everything they’re not supposed to be into. Cat litter? Yummy. Shoes? Yay! Every electrical wire in the house even those well hidden? Found them. Bones, chewies, and toys? Eh, not so much.

So, we’re left with no other option than to re-home. I can honestly say this is one of the most daunting, emotionally draining tasks I have ever taken on. You want to be stalked by me? Ask for one of our puppies. I’ve had a number of people contact us wanting a puppy who sound absolutely lovely and like a candidate to be considered. I get their full name and explain I’ll get back to them with further information. During that time I Google them and review every single little piece of internet activity they’ve ever been involved in. And people thought my hiring process was tough. Ha! I’ve reached a whole new level of scrutiny over here. Maybe I am being unrealistic and maybe the ‘perfect’ homes just don’t exist. But what’s the absolute worst thing that could happen if I can’t find ideal candidates? We keep them until we do find the right homes.

As I watch my 6 babies run around here with nothing but love in their hearts (and the desire to chew shoes), I realize how much purpose they’ve given me. At a time when I desperately needed to be needed they came along and filled that void (Hubby ‘wants’ me, he doesn’t ‘need’ me, totally different). I may not manage huge departments, or write government policies anymore but I do still play a very important role in life. And the unexpected arrival of the puppies has been a stark reminder of just that.

Sometimes what we’re really in need of is given to us in the most unconventional ways at the most unexpected times. And as lovely as that is, Sultana’s spay appointment is already scheduled for March πŸ™‚

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a quick update on life in general.

Well hello there, readers! It’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve sat down and invested in a blog post and sadly this one isn’t going to be too lengthy either.

First and foremost, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday with loved ones doing something you truly enjoy.

For the past several years I’ve managed to spend my New Year’s Eve in Dubai, London, NYC, and Abu Dhabi. This year, as the date got closer, neither of us showed much interest in going anywhere other than the couch. So we decided to make our favorite snacks and spend the evening watching the Twilight Zone marathon while playing with puppies and snuggling with the other pets. Yeah, we’re those people now but it was really an awesome night.

Speaking of New Years… resolutions. I’m not one to jump on the resolution bandwagon as it’s really just a way to set myself up for failure. Therefore, I’ve decided this year is the year the only thing I change is my outlook. Yeah, I’m quite the positive woman over here, but there’s always something I could see with new eyes and change the way it affects my life. So far so good… day 2! πŸ™‚

There are a number of things I’ve been wanting to blog about, such as; how to really buy happiness, a great new blog I’ve found, the growth of our puppies, and celebrating our 3 anniversary dates (yes, we have 3). Hopefully I’ll have a bit more time later in the week to get caught up.

Perhaps I should have had ‘blogging’ as a resolution.

Meeting a blogger…getting a friend.

A few years ago I posted about a blog I really enjoyed reading. Since losing all my previous content I can’t link back to that post.Β She’s a wonderful American woman married to an amazing man and living in Kuwait together. They both have a soft spot in their hearts for animals which can lead to having a personal zoo if you’re not careful. Especially in Kuwait where animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse are rampant.

Currently this lovely couple is home to 6 dogs and a cat. Yes, SIX dogs! Like most expats they live in an apartment which isn’t the most ideal situation for being the local animal rescue. Her entire day literally revolves around animal care from their first feeding in the morning to their daily run in the desert. She even made them seat belts.

I remember when they got their first puppy and she blogged about her new little baby (Mushkila). The intention, I do believe, was for them to keep this puppy and give it a forever home. Then along came their ‘temporary rescues’ one right after the other. Anyone who loves animals, lives in Kuwait, and gets their hands on a rescue rarely has the heart to re-home them. Especially back into the same environment they were just rescued from.

Several months ago the wonderful woman behind the Great Adventure blog had mentioned her desire to find good homes for at least 4 of the rescues. She wanted them to go to a home they could live forever with a family who loved and appreciated them the way they should be. She even offered to ship them anywhere in the world just to ensure they have good homes. Her kindness is unmatched.

I mentioned the situation to my husband who agreed having another dog wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Melicka could always use a friend (the cats need a break) and someone to run around our massive property with. I told the lovely blogger our situation and gave a little background on our animal personalities and asked her which dog she felt would fit best into our family.

Long story short… they’ll be arriving next week! She and her husband have managed to get Health Certificates, crates, and airline tickets for 4 dogs (and themselves) to fly to the US and live out their lives with loving families. This logistical nightmare is certainly very costly for them accompanied by quite a bit of stress. But at the end of the day I believe they would do anything to ensure their rescues have good homes. We’ll be taking one, and the other 3 are going to different homes around the US. My husband and I will be meeting them in DC to help out with crates and transportation, or anything else we possibly can.

Over the years I’ve met several bloggers and generally find myself initially drawn to their blog for the same reason I meet them in person; positive attitude with a good heart. We’re looking forward to our little ‘road trip with a purpose’ next week.

Blogger’s Block

It isn’t that I don’t have things to blog about and even the photos to accompany the topics. It’s just that we’ve been so incredibly busy that I can’t seem to sit down, compose a few paragraphs, and complete a post. Therefore, I’ll throw these few sentences together for now and hopefully manage to do a proper post in the near future.

Life is fabulous; we’re really starting to enjoy the outdoors more since Spring weather finally arrived. We’ve been planting, trimming, cutting, and landscaping like crazy people who have never seen greenery. And it’s fun!

Businesses are going great. We’ve even managed to expand one of our businesses yet again! We now have merchandise available in 3 locations in Kuwait, 2 in the UAE, 1 in Saudi Arabia, and now 1 in Qatar. I’m also currently working on prospects in Bahrain and London and hoping to get good news by the end of next week. The other businesses are keeping me so busy I’m contemplating the idea of bringing more staff on board. Preferably an organized numbers person — something I’m not.

Family in US and Kuwait are doing wonderful. I suppose I’ll always live my life missing someone on one side of the world, but at least I’m adapting. I find myself constantly missing my in-laws but we do talk to them daily on Skype so that’s comforting. Definitely not the same as being in the same room and devouring my mother-in-law’s delicious cooking, but for now at least we’re able to communicate regularly.

Pets are thriving. Melicka and Sheikha have bonded and become quite close though Amira is still a bit leery of Melicka’s big feet and clumsy movements. However, Amira is perfectly capable of handling the situation with poise… and a few slaps to Melicka’s nose. They’re also enjoying the warmer weather and spend much of the day outside hunting anything that moves, including leaves, blades of grass, and birds they have no chance of catching.

Catching up with old friends. Since getting a little more organized around the house we’ve been investing a bit of time in socializing. Connecting with some of my old friends who have never had the opportunity to meet my husband, as well as meeting new people on a regular basis. I forgot how good it feels to have a real social life not segregated by society.

Road tripping! Though we haven’t taken any road trips yet we definitely have a few things planned for the near future. The nice weather makes getting out and about a lot more fun. I planned a NYC getaway before even leaving Kuwait, but the ‘longer than expected’ Winter weather forced me to delay our plans for a few weeks. Instead of going this month I’ve rescheduled for the middle of next.

We’re incredibly blessed and life really is good. I sometimes forget to take a moment and appreciate it to the fullest. It’s like I’m going through the motions and forgetting to truly experience every event. I would like to say we’re going to spend the weekend forgetting about business and simply relaxing, but I know better. Though I’ll definitely ensure we take some time out to reflect, review, and appreciate it all.

The ‘Perfect’ Puppy

Several weeks ago I posted about our new puppy Melicka and how I was certain her goal in life was to drive me completely insane. I consider myself a rather experienced puppy owner and definitely an animal lover. Being out of options when it came to pets just wasn’t me. I have endless patience during their training and adapting period yet Melicka managed to test that.

We had good days and bad days… then some more bad days. The words, ‘no, stop, and leave it’ had me questioning her ability to even hear me. The Vet assured me she wasn’t deaf. OK, consistency… maybe I was the problem.

Long story short, we now have the perfect puppy! Eh, perhaps that’s a little overzealous. We have a great puppy!

All shoes are in tact, no more spilled coffee, throw pillows are no longer discovered all over the house, and my slippers are always right where I left them. Sheikha (the cat) even plays with her often and they have truly bonded. Amira on the other hand… not so much.

Looking back over the past 2 months I realize the problem was never the puppy, but it was me. It had been over 10 years since I had trained a puppy and all I really remembered was the result, not so much the process. Once I realized it was my responsibility to learn her behaviors and ‘indicators’ (needing to use the bathroom, wanting to play, etc) and not her duty to learn my behavior, things went much better. She still struggles a bit with a few verbal commands but we’re already working on hand commands for things such as ‘sit’ and ‘outside’.

She’s still only 11 weeks old so I really look forward to what the future holds for us. She’s proven to be such a smart girl and managed to fit perfectly within our family unit. We’ve even toyed with the idea of working towards a ‘service dog’ certification with a focus on terminally ill children. We’ve definitely made progress.

‘Melicka and Me’

Ever see the movie Marley and Me? You know, the one with the big, bad behaving yet lovable yellow Lab? Well, I’m currently living the female version over here, hence ‘Melicka and Me’.

Note: Her name is pronounced mell-ick-a, not ma-leek-a. I had initially spelled it ‘melika’ but the Receptionist, Vet Asst., and even the Vet continued to call her ‘ma-leek-a’ so I’ve changed the spelling in hopes of clearing up any confusion. Melicka, Amira, Sheikha — yes, we have a theme going on with pet names. However, she’s taken on the nickname ‘cray cray’. The ebonics version of a new level of crazy. Rest assured she’s not the least bit offended, she doesn’t even know her real name, much less her nickname.

So yeah, me and ‘cray cray’ are living a real, live comedy movie together. I assumed the first few days were just an adjustment period and things would settle down soon. After all, I really am quite an experienced puppy owner and have trained previous pets extensively. Labs have a reputation for being such great, easy going, fabulous family dogs… how difficult could it really be?

Oh. My. God.

Fortunately she sleeps really well through the night… as long as she’s in the bed taking up as much room as she possibly can. I often wake up gasping for air realizing she’s sleeping with her head on my face, or I wake up to find my husband sleeping on the bottom corner of the bed in the fetal position. But hey, she does sleep through the night!

Amira (the cat) determines the time I wake up in the morning by sitting on my pillow clicking her nails as loud as she can until I start to move. In turn waking up Melicka and Sheikha.

Let the games begin!

While heading to the back door grab a can of cat food, feed and water the cats, run outside with Melicka, long walk around the property (fortunately she’s good about going outside for the bathroom), come back in, feed Cray Cray, start coffee if we didn’t program it the night before, clean up dog toys, shoes, clothes, and any other damage from the evening before, run back outside with the puppy, come in to grab a cup of coffee, clean up anything she’s messed up while pouring coffee, clean up cup of coffee she’s knocked over while cleaning, pour another cup of coffee, feed cats again, clean up 2nd cup of coffee (I’m learning to keep it in the kitchen until all tasks are completed), take away whatever she’s chewing on that she got while cleaning up coffee, take her back outside, chase her around the yard to take out of her mouth whatever she found and can’t have, go back inside, start breakfast, clean up whatever she’s torn up while breakfast was cooking, play with her in hopes total exhaustion will take over, get cup of coffee when Melicka falls asleep, sit down, drink coffee. By this time it’s 6:30am and the sun is coming up. She takes a 20 minute nap and then it starts all over again.

Tasks such as showering, work, checking emails, or blogging all get squeezed in throughout the day — after my husband wakes up and ‘babysits’. We’ve left her with other family members when my husband and I are going out at the same time, but we’re now to the point of getting outright refusals. Not the polite, “So sorry, I’m busy” refusals, but the, “Are you crazy?! Oh noooo! Never again! Don’t even think about asking me to babysit her!” refusals. This coming from serious animal loving family members.

So, after almost a month of insanity I’ve given in and decided we’re going to puppy training class. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve trained a puppy, perhaps I’ve forgotten certain techniques? And what pup can’t benefit from socialization in a class with like minded friends? Let’s just hope she doesn’t get us kicked out of class πŸ™‚ She’s proven her ability to drive people insane.

At the end of the day, when she’s finally exhausted and passes out on my feet, I remember there’s not much that can compare to the unconditional love of a dog. Yeah, she makes me crazy and certainly keeps me busy, but I can’t imagine any better way to spend my time. I know the day will come when the puppy energy will be gone and I’ll miss it. So for now I’m embracing our crazy days filled with unbridled energetic mornings and snuggle filled nights.

When does that obedience class start?


Our First Snow

Life in America together has consisted of a lot of ‘firsts’ for my husband and I. Though he’s been to America before and experienced many of our ‘firsts’ we never experienced them together, so they still get labeled a first.

Our first taste of real Mexican food, our first trip to Walmart (yes… I do shop at Walmart), our first puppy who deserves a post all of her own, and as of yesterday, our first snow.

My husband isn’t one to get overly excited about anything. He’s calm, patient, and doesn’t squeal with excitement the way I do. He doesn’t lay in bed and giggle like a child while wrapping up in the blankets on a cold night, nor does he flap his hands like crazy when coming across glitter candles on sale the way I do. However, when I woke him at 7am yesterday morning to witness the enormous white flakes slowly covering our land with beautiful powdery (yet wet) snow, I definitely saw some excitement. He even verbally expressed how much he ‘loves life’ as we were heading out for lunch to a fabulous little place on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, another topic deserving of its own post.

While taking Melika the puppy out in the snow several times we realized she absolutely loves it. More so than we do. She ran, jumped, played, slid, and ate the snow while we stood perfectly still freezing to death hoping not to fall as it was all turning to ice. The cats, Amira and Sheikha, wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and stayed behind to watch through the window.

Overall it was a wonderful day of snow, puppy play, and firsts while being observed by two warm cats peering through the window.