Unwilling Pet Sitting, and it’s Wigging Out My Family

Remember my friends Mary and Joseph?   Those aren’t their real names.  I just call them Mary and Joseph because I imagine that Mary and Joseph were a lot like this couple.

But after today I may have to change that.  After today, Fred and Ethel would be more appropriate.

On Tuesday, Mary and Joseph’s sons visited my sons and brought their hermit crabs with them.  Unfortunately, when the boys left, the crabs were left behind, forgotten.

The next morning, lo and behold, I see that the crabs are still in my house.  No biggie?  Yes, biggie!  Mary and Joseph headed out that morning on a 6 day road trip.  Um….what am I supposed to do with hermit crabs for the next six days?


Going for a walk.

We tried taking them on walks, but whenever we tugged on the hermit crab leash, they curled up in little balls. The boys refused to play catch with them.  Boy10 says they look like creepy bug-things and he wants nothing to do with them.  I don’t think the boys have anything to worry about.  The crabs just lie around blending in with the rocks.  Hermit crabs are pretty boring.

Since they’re so boring, I figured I may as well use them as subjects for some pictures.  But I would need an assistant.

Enter Darling Husband.

He agreed to help but then quickly realized he’d actually have to hold the crabs with his fingers.  His voice went up a good 2 octaves as he kept me informed of the actions of the crab while I focused the camera, “It’s moving!  It’s coming out of its shell! It’s trying to leave its shell and leap onto the floor!  Its claws are touching me!  They’re touching me!

I told him that they wouldn’t market hermit crabs as pets to children if we were in danger of being crushed to death in their mighty claws.


Mighty Claws of Death

And you know, I was ok with watching the hermit crabs until we received the following email:




Bryan, we left our hermit crabs at your house!!  Ugh.  So sorry about that.  We laughed so hard and then felt badly! :).

We will pick up our little friends Tuesday morning if that is ok?  They may need water here or there – but they have food in the cage.  The only special request is to please use some type of filtered water for them – their lungs burn otherwise with chlorine :).

Many thanks and sorry again! Have a great weekend!

Fred and Ethel


Did you catch the part where they “laughed so hard”?  I seriously don’t picture Mary and Joseph traveling through the holy land cackling at each other over leaving their pet hermit crabs at someone’s house.  “Zechariah is totally freaked out by hermit crabs!  Can you picture his face when Elizabeth shows him the aquarium?  Ha ha ha ha!”

Nope.  Mary and Joseph would never do that.  It’s Fred and Ethel from here out.

A Shoulder Shimmy, Chunks of Brown Sugar, and the Mayor is a Werewolf?!

Being sick for 10 days has brought me a host of problems.

I thought it took 21 days for habits to form, but that’s just not true.  It took only 10 I’m-sick-so-I-have-to-lie-around-on-the-couch days for my habit to form:  obsessive television watching.

Oh, save me from the television!

No, actually it’s not the television that’s the problem.  It’s the iPad.

Oh, save me from the iPad!

See on an iPad, you can watch Netflix all day and all night. If it was just movies, that would be one thing.  But no, it’s the tv shows that are the problem.  Each season of a tv show is basically a 22 hour long movie.

Oh, save me from 22 hour long movies!

With an iPad, you can slowly shuffle through the house idly kicking aside the couch pillows (lots of fort building in this house) and piles of legos (I strongly urge you to keep your shoes on when you pop in for a visit), carrying your iPad with you everywhere you go, watching tv.

I manage to get our 4-5 hours of homeschool in and then spend 5 minutes making sure we have clean underwear and clean forks, and then the remaining 18 hours and 55 minutes of the day are dedicated to watching Netflix on the iPad.  I’m not even sure whether or not anyone in my family has eaten in the past 5 days.  I think a long time ago I used to be in charge of cooking the food, but I just can’t remember.  I’ve been subsiding on bananas, some withered cherry tomatoes and cheese sticks.  From what I can tell from the mess in the kitchen, the boys have been eating chunks of brown sugar and raw ramen noodles.

The other problem with being sick for 10 days is that there are lingering sinus issues.  Which means I can’t sing anymore.  Oh, I can sing, but it sounds like those dying giraffes I’ve told you about in the past.  When I try to hit the notes, my voice won’t work.  It sort of warbles and then slides into a wrong key–completely out of my control.  I’m afraid the kids might be scarred for life from hearing my pitiful attempts at song.

Then again it might not have been the singing that scarred them.  It might have been the dancing.  Hey, the theme song for the Iron Man cartoon is pretty catchy.  (Really.  Listen here.)  I sang along and couldn’t resist adding a little wiggle.  Boy10 turned an embarrassed shade of red, but it wasn’t until I got to the shoulder shimmies that Boy10 finally put his foot down and said, “Mom!  Never do that again!  Never!”  Boy7 just turned his head to the side and wept.

Speaking of singing, last night at Hair Cut Night, one of my friends was talking about going to a seminar for people who lead the music in churches.  At the seminar you learn how to sing prayers.

Which reminded me of my invisible friends.  Yes, I have invisible friends, what’s it to you?  There’s a homeschool forum website I used to liked to visit until tv took over my life.  After a while you get to know some of the people who post on it.  I call them my invisible friends. (welltrainedmind.com/forums.)

One of my invisible friends started a thread about how it bothers her to pray in front of other people. Someone else responded with…well, hang on and I’ll get the exact quote:

**I got asked to pray and was caught flat-footed at a district BSA meeting. Fortunately, this song popped into my mind:

So, let the words of our mouth

And the meditations of our heart

Be acceptable in Thy sight.

Oh, verai!

I actually sang it! And they’ve never asked me since…  **

I love that story, don’t you?  Can you see her sitting in her seat minding her own business, probably slightly bored, watching the meeting unfold? And then, someone turns to her and says, “Brunhilda, will you please lead us in prayer?”

And her eyes grow slowly wider and she stammers, “Uh…sure…” and closes her eyes.  There’s a beat of silence as she scrambles for words.  But instead of any intelligible words forming in her brain, all she can think of is the song.

So she sings it. Out loud.  Even the Latin bit.  In front of everyone.

And when she’s done, can you see everyone giving her sidelong glances, some confused, some amused, and her looking defensive yet trying to pull it off as if everyone sings when they’re asked to pray.  Can you picture the leader of the group quietly crossing Brunhilda’s name off the Lead Us In Prayer list?

Speaking of praying for people, those of you who attend my church know that Darling Husband is on the church board and this past Sunday the board members and their spouses prayed for people during the church service.  This was our last time praying though, because Darling Husband’s term as a board member is up and he wasn’t voted back in.


No, no, he’s ok.  We’ve done more jobs in churches than you can shake a stick at.  He’ll find something to do to make himself useful.

Back to Sunday:  after we prayed for people, the pastor thanked Darling Husband for his time on the board and unexpectedly handed us a little envelope as a “small token of thanks.”

I’ve always wondered what was in those little envelopes. I don’t know what’s been in other people’s little envelopes, but you’ll appreciate the love and care that went into picking out what went into our little envelope.  We waited until we got home to open it. Look at what it is:


A Li’s Buffet gift certificate.  (!)  Incidentally, we already had plans to eat at Li’s Buffet that very afternoon.  See:


And now I have to go because Katherine is back and she looks just like Elena and is doing Very Bad Things pretending to be Elena and trouble is brewing.  Big, big trouble.

The Bat Cave, Zombies, and Laser Noises

So, Vince stopped by on Tuesday evening.  Darling Husband and Vince hang out every Tuesday and either go for a healthy walk or eat fattening Italian food.  You just never know–will they weigh less on Wednesday morning or more?

We started being friends with Vince because we have similar tastes in tv shows.  And we stayed friends because Vince has an amazing Bat Cave in his basement.  His house is an old farm house built sometime in the 1800’s, but if you open an unassuming door and walk down a creaky set of stairs, you’ll find yourself in a subterranean lair.  It’s like a maze down there.  I’ve been lost in that basement for hours.  Vince finally had to have all 41 of his children form a chain, holding on to each other’s hands, to find me in the maze.

And in a secret room in the Bat Cave, in special filing cabinets, Vince houses every single edition of various super hero comics from 46 a.d. until now.

Next to the comic book collection is his collection of various tv series which he never, ever, ever lets anyone borrow.  Never, ever, ever. (Getting back together.)

Except for the one time he let us borrow Lost.  Oh yes, we’re just that special.  But don’t tell anyone.  Because he never, ever, ever lets anyone borrow his tv series.

So…he stopped by on Tuesday and tried yet again to get us to watch The Walking Dead.  We’ve been down this road with him before.  We tried watching an episode or two, but it was just so gory that we stopped.  But in his rapid fire way, Vince kept going on and on (and on and on) about it.  “Oh, it stops being so gory!  I mean, I guess there are a few more gory scenes in a few of the episodes…and you can just fast forward through those,”  and he scrunched up his face like it’s the easiest thing in the world to fast forward through the one or two gory scenes, and aren’t we so silly for not thinking of it ourselves.

Darling Husband ventured, “I think if we fast forwarded through the gory scenes, there might not be much of the show left to watch,” and Vince poo-pooed that idea.  “No, no!  Lots of story!  Lots of character development.  Just watch it.”

So, I tried it again.  I didn’t make poor Darling Husband watch it.  He hates gory stuff.  Just hates it.  If I asked him to watch it, he probably would have, but then would be subjected to all the gory stuff he hates.

Netflix picked up right where I left off 5 months ago, right in the middle of an episode.

Right when Rick and his family are reunited.

And then I was hooked.  Shane sure looked unhappy to see Rick.  OooOOooo.  That’s trouble brewing right there, let me tell you.  I simply had to find out what happened next.

And since Tuesday, I’ve watched all of season 1 (just 6 episodes) and all of season 2 (13 episodes)

For the record, Vince was wrong and Darling Husband was right.  There are thousands of gory scenes in every single one of those episodes.  Lots and lots of blood and lots and lots of guts.  There are blood and guts everywhere.

And after watching 18 gory episodes with zombies jumping out at someone every other minute,  I kinda felt creepy driving around in the car tonight in the dark.  I’ve told you about driving around up here, haven’t I?  In case I haven’t, here’s what it’s like:

I came from the Baltimore suburbs where there are street lamps every 5 feet.  You can’t spit without hitting a street lamp.  I’ve seen men spit, hit a street lamp, and the spit ricochets back and hits them on the forehead.

But not here.  You can drive for miles and miles and miles without seeing a single street lamp.  Or another car.  And did you know that when you drive around without street lamps or cars that when you look in the rear view mirror, all you can see is black?  Pitch black in the mirror.  So, if there’s someone, or something, in the back of your car, you’ll never know until, “Ahhhh!”

Speaking of driving around in the car, I was driving around in the car tonight because it’s grocery shopping day.

Of course it’s grocery shopping day today.

See, today was 56 degrees and sunny.  I actually sent the boys outside to play. They hate being sent outside to play and would rather lounge around inside making laser noises at their toys.  They can spend hours holding a single lego toy and making laser sounds at it.  Seriously. (100% true.)

But it was so nice that after school I sent them outside.  And I thought to myself, “Instead of taking them grocery shopping this warm, sunny afternoon I’ll let them play.  I’ll go grocery shopping this evening.  I’m so glad that I won’t be grocery shopping in the rain for a change.”

At 7:49 p.m., I opened the door to the house ready to head to the grocery store and saw that the sidewalk was glistening.  Glistening?

Yes, glistening.

With rain.

As I left the house I ranted, “I don’t believe it!  It was warm and sunny 45 seconds ago, and now it’s raining.”  Boy7 hollered from the bath he was taking, “Mom!  of course it’s raining!  Don’t cha know?  It’s grocery shopping day!”

And by the time I left the grocery store?  Snow.


Here’s a picture of Boy7 last Friday bringing in the groceries for me.  In the rain.


And now I have to go research where I can get the first 9 episodes of The Walking Dead, season 3, so I can watch them all tomorrow.

What I Learned about Fashion from Hockey Movies and Football

Sick people are really boring.  I should know because, as you know, I got sick a week and a half ago, which is rare for me.  And as you all further know, I’m a complete baby when I’m sick.

I happened to be on the phone with my mother a few days ago and mentioned how sick I was.  I told her how I had to lie down for days on end resting and napping.  She said, “What was wrong with you?  The flu?”

I told her that I’m pretty sure it was just a really bad cold.  She started snickering.  “A cold?”  To defend my honor I told her I had a fever, too.  She stopped snickering and said, “Oh, a fever.  You poor thing.  Well, that makes a difference.  Was it a high one?” I told her, “100.4.”  She misheard me and said, “104?  Well, no wonder…”  “No!  It was 100 point 4.”

And that’s when she burst into unrestrained laughter.

All she could come up with was some nonsense about being “in the hospital with internal hemorrhaging on Christmas Eve and still recovering a month later from the loss of blood, but even then I didn’t have to lie down and nap for days on end.”  She kept laughing until she couldn’t breathe.

I was so glad I could bring joy to her life, what with her recovering from her stint in the hospital.

Of course, it was after I talked with her, and thought I was on the mend, that my normal cough developed into the Cough of Doom.  If I lay perfectly still, like on a couch in front of the tv, the cough would go away.  But if I stood up, like to get to the box of Junior Mints, the Cough of Doom would come rushing in full force.  Every single breath for the past 7 days has been painful and I could hear horrible rasping noises when I breathed deeply.  Darling Husband could hear the noises from across the room.  Kinda scary.

I’ve been forced to lie around napping and coughing and making pathetic whimpering noises for the past 10 days of misery.  But I’ve learned a few things while I’ve been sick.

First of all, I really, really, really enjoy lying around watching tv and eating Junior Mints all day.  When I’m not sick, I tend to be a somewhat hyper and driven person.  I once told a co-worker that I’d love to retire and lie around somewhere warm for the rest of my life.  He said, “No you wouldn’t.  You need to have things to do.  You’d get bored.”

He is so wrong.  I laid around for 10 days taking naps and watching tv and it never got old. Seriously—it never got old.  The only productive thing I did was to clear out about 700 items from my Netflix streaming queue.  But then I had to take a bracing nap after all that productivity.

The second thing I’ve learned is never trust Rob and Jo-Ann when they tell you a movie is good.  They told me Attack the Block was a good movie, albeit a bit gory.  It was an alien movie, so I settled down hoping for a movie like District 9.  What I got was Killer Klowns from Outer Space.  What a disappointment.  Darling Husband said, “Well, what did you expect from an alien movie made in the 80’s?”  I said, “Dude!  It was made in 2011!”  And he looked confused and crushed and said, “But…but…the music!  There were…synthesizers!”  That’s right people.  Synthesizers.  It was Just That Bad.

I’ve also learned that men had really long legs in the early 80’s.  How do I know?  Because I watched about 20 minutes of Miracle on Ice and those men had really long legs.

That was another bad movie.  No wonder I had to take so many naps.  All those bad, boring movies really wear a body out.  Maybe Miracle on Ice suddenly got better 21 minutes into the movie, but the first 20 minutes were pretty bad.  There were about 500 characters that I couldn’t keep track of and they all randomly skated around a hockey rink looking slow and bumbling.  The coach yelled a lot and absolutely nothing happened.

I was feeling really bad the day I watched A Miracle on Ice and was wishing I could take a nap, but I was afraid I’d have nightmares about those men and their long legs.  All 500 characters, except the coach, wore painfully tight jeans and it made their legs look freakishly long.

Speaking of men’s legs, I’ve also learned that black really is slimming from watching football.   That wasn’t this week that I learned that.  No, I watched a few minutes of a football game, once, about two years ago. One team had white pants and the other team had black pants.  The football players with the white pants had legs that looked muscular and strong.  The football players with the black pants had legs that looked small and delicate. Football players aren’t supposed to have skinny bird legs, so, like Moses turning aside to ponder the wonder of a burning bush in the desert, I stopped to watch the game long enough to figure out why one team was so delicate looking.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was the black pants, slimming their legs.

Look at this skinny leg:


This is a picture in a Children’s book from 1916.  It’s supposed to be Cinderella running away from the ball.  My mother and I would pull out this picture from time to time and stare at Cinderella’s leg and cackle at it until we were choking.   The longer you stare at that leg, the funnier it gets. Go on, stare at it for a few minutes.  Try to picture the entire leg.  Now, picture both legs.  And picture her standing on those spaghetti legs in a pair of shorts.  If that doesn’t brighten your day, nothing will.

Chocolate Mug Cake and Smashed Lemon Cookie

I wasn’t going to bother writing a post today, but look at what Gerhard brought to us just now: _DSC3094-small

Mug cakes.  Mug cakes?

Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I never had.  He just dropped them off 2 minutes ago.

Oh, look.  Darling Husband brought me a treat, too.  A cookie that got smashed in his pocket.  That way, I don’t have to chew so much while in my enfeebled state. _DSC3097-small


I managed to wash my grimy sick-clothes in boiling hot water today and washed a load of dishes in the dishweasher today and I even washed myself today.  In between all the washing I read a book about someone being wrongfully imprisoned in a French prison.

I’m never going to France.

It’s Ok to be Pathetic Every 40 Years or so, Right?

Look at this:


You may think it’s simply a picture of a cool retro-looking bit of Tupperware with some chicken gnocchi stew in it, but you would be wrong.

This is a Gift from the Angels.  This is Life Abundant.

This is soup from Gerhard for his sick friend.

I’m sick today.

Did you read that?

I’m sick today.  This rarely happens, people.   Well, I get sick maybe once every forty years or so.  Did I tell you about the time I got laryngitis and called my doctor for an appointment?  The receptionist looked up my file, saw that I hadn’t been to the doctor in forty years, and said, all suspicious-like, “Ma’am, what other doctor have you been seeing?”

I kept croaking out, “No one!  I haven’t seen anyone!  I just don’t get sick!”

She gave me an appointment but it was under great duress.  You could tell she just knew I was lying and hadn’t been able to get an appointment with the Other Doctor that I’d been seeing.

You know how they say “men are like this and women are like that” and you can fill in the blanks for “this” and “that?”  Like, women can multitask and men can’t.

I’m not sure how much I buy into that.  I mean, I can’t multitask worth beans and half the things men are supposed to do, is what I do.  Today is a case in point.  You know how they say that men turn into babies when they’re sick?  That’s not true at all of Darling Husband.  He’ll be out there with a fever chopping wood or working on the car or something.

But me, on the other hand, I’m a total baby when I’m sick.  It’s just embarrassing.  Today I’m sick and I’m whiny and pathetic and have even been whimpering.  Whimpering!  And taking long naps and staring into space with my mouth gaped open.

The thing is, Darling Husband has an annoying tendency to get sick the same day that I get sick.  Totally not fair! So here we are today with the same temperature and symptoms and what does he do?  He goes to work!  But I’m sitting here dizzy and feeble and whimpering.

Then again, I sort of went to work today.  You know how I assess essays that people write for a test prep class?  Usually the students don’t bother writing their essays, or I get one every few days.  But not this time.  This time all 60 billion students are sending me reams of essays.  It’s like the scene in Harry Potter where Harry gets all those letters from Hogwarts.

Anyway, I’ve been moaning and whimpering and looking pathetic and unwashed….  Unwashed?  Oh yeah, I was sick yesterday, too.  I haven’t bathed since Saturday morning.  Very un-American like of me and I’m feeling pretty grimy, being on day three of no bathing.  I’ve been alternately sweating and freezing non-stop for the past 48 hours and I’m sure I’m just disgusting by now.  Gerhard took one look at me and beat a hasty retreat.

But let’s stop talking about that and talk about the soup.  Oh, the soup!  Because in the middle of all the whimpering and unwashed pathos, Gerhard arrived with soup.  I’m telling you the truth, I’m on my second bowl of it and I swear I’m already 50% better.  Really.  It’s making me better with every single spoonful.

Gerhard—thank you!

P.S.  G: Darling Husband can’t place the spices and he’s usually good with that.  Is there white pepper in there?  And what else?



Before I got completely sick on Saturday evening, I played some Star Wars Monopoly with friends.

In the end, Darth Vader won the game and the Wookie came in second.  Vader is like that.  He just wouldn’t let the Wookie win.