Of All the Houses in All the Towns in All the World, You Had to Stumble Into Ours

I often have mom-moments when I’m incredibly proud of something the girls do or say. It’s fascinating to see their little personalities come out and for them to have certain reactions and responses to things that happen in their lives without my prompting.

Chubs is still on a meat strike because she doesn’t want the animals to die. She cries when she sees an elderly person struggling to get around. I’m impressed she was able to develop such compassion at 5 years old for animals and the elderly.

When Chubs gets hurt, Princess Roundhead quickly collects Chubs’s blankie, an ice pack and her favorite stuffie du jour. It’s very sweet to see, and it makes me feel for a fleeting moment like I’ve done something right.

Where I end up stunned at the depth of my pride is when they do something that I know is a direct result of what we’re teaching them. It’s no secret we are animal lovers. In the last two months, we’ve rescued a paralyzed squirrel, saved a mouse in the house with a humane trap and now, we can add yet another animal to our list.

The other evening Princess Roundhead ran into the house yelling, “We need a towel and a box or something to put a bird in!” I said, “What’s going on?” She said there was a bird with a broken wing that was under my car.

Christ. I was busy. I have two listings that hit the market this week, one coming up in a couple weeks that I’m preparing, two that have been on the market and several new buyers looking for homes. I was like, Mama don’t got time to save an injured bird.

I sighed, put the laptop down and began the bird rescue process. It didn’t look good, definitely a broken wing at the very least but the bird was in peril. We called the Wildlife people and they came to collect him. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Just like with the squirrel. Princess Roundhead was late for her gymnastics class so she could save the bird and yes, I was very proud of her.

I mean, until the next morning when they woke us up like this.

Mama’s no longer proud. She’s pissed off.

Mama’s no longer proud. She’s pissed off.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure the neighborhood animals have meetings where they spread the word - when it’s time for medical assistance, stumble, hop or drag yourself down to the house with the flamingos in the front and the child body chalk outlines on the front patio.

Chirp chirp, it’s those suckers over there who run the wild animal infirmary! C’mon! There’s an Amazon box in that house with MY NAME on it.”

Saying Goodbye to Some of Our Family Pets and Other Animal Stories

Well, even though they live at the beach, it seems that when hermit crabs are out in the sun, in the new glass aquarium you bought for them, they can roast and die pretty quickly. If you haven’t fallen into a coma reading about our summer of crab mishaps, there’s more.

Unfortunately, Princess Roundhead’s crab Woody perished, along with Sandy. There have been lots of tears about Woody and I admit I’m also pretty bummed. I left the house last Sunday morning to show a house and they were all partying as usual, and I came home to continued partying. Then a few hours later I told the girls to check on the crabs and Woody and Sandy had exited their shells and died.

I don’t think any of us had any idea they were in danger, and we all felt horrible. It seems it was the combination of the sun, maybe the glass cage, and that they were low on water. We were all very sad. Princess Roundhead loved Woody, and all this madness started because of Woody. Because he “needed friends.” Yikes.

We’re learning about loss though, and the girls are starting to understand more about animals. We went to Costco to stock up on food for the girls going back to school. When Real Estate Dad rolled through the frozen meat aisle and around the corner with Chubs in his cart, she was crying. I asked what happened and he said they passed the aisle with the frozen lamb.

Chubs made a proclamation that she doesn’t want to eat any animals. Well, I can’t blame her there. If it once walked, I don’t eat it. She was then able to use this to her advantage, as she later ordered a Happy Meal with Chicken Nuggets, but refused to eat the chicken. She enjoyed the toy though. She followed up by asking for a cookie. So we have some work to do obviously, but I’m still happy to see them forming their own opinions about animals and deciding what is right for them and what they believe in.

Meet Our New Family Pets - Part Deux

Okay, just like the hermit crab races that occur at our house now, let’s get this story to the finish line.

After we came home with the three hermit crabs, Woody, Violet2 and Sandy, we resumed vacation-life. If we wanted to go to the rides and games though, we had to walk down the boardwalk. And this necessitated passing the tourist-trap store that sold hermit crabs. These are the sickly hermit crabs, the ones that lure you in with pretty painted shells but that don’t live long - at least if you believe the online reviews. This is why we went to the other store for our hermies. And as a Realtor, I am all about online reviews because mine are ace. The hustle is real.

It’s hard to not stop and watch the crabs. They crawl all over the cage, partying like it’s 1999. Like you’re walking down the boardwalk in search of Funland and you hear the uunch uunch uunch of club music and follow the strobe lights right to this giant, hermit crab nightclub. Princess Roundhead and I peered in and they were all partying hard. Except one. He appeared to be asleep.

After watching for a while and seeing all the other crabs crawl over him, trying to steal his shell, Princess Roundhead and I decided to call for help. I was a bit inebriated so I wasn’t sure I trusted my judgment here so, fantastic mother that I am, I sent her in to the store. I could hear the whole thing though, and the conversation went like this:

Princess Roundhead: “My mom thinks this hermit crab is dead.”
(I had two thoughts when I heard this. First, I was really proud of M that she went by herself to ask for help. Second, when I heard her say “my mom,” I was like, “Whoa. I’m someone’s mom?” It still honestly catches me off guard sometimes and it had nothing to do with the Mermaid Water I was swigging down.)
Employee: Everyone think dead. But asleep.

These beach stores are manned and womanned by Eastern Europeans in the summer which I guess explains the terse, deadpan response and lack of crab knowledge. He finally relented, removed the crab from the cage and went into the store with it. Then he came back out, made the slicing motion across his neck and threw it into the dunes. Ugh. Thanks for breaking my kid’s heart, asshole.

The next night we walked by and one of the crabs was out of its shell. He was walking around looking for a new shell but there was no new shell because these people don’t actually care for these crabs, they just toss them in and hope people buy them. We tried to flag down help but they legitimately did not care about the crab. They said he would figure it out. Crabs are in danger when they are out of their shells, and this little guy was looking for cover. He finally went to hide under the giant food bowl.

Since no one at the store cared very much, I opened the cage despite the signs with warnings not to, and put a few shells in next to him hoping he would get his ass into one pronto. Nope.

This went on for probably half an hour. Every time we asked the employees to do something they just shrugged with the apathy of someone who would make a slicing motion across their neck when confronted with a dead crab. I told the Princess we needed to walk away, it was our last night of vacation and Real Estate Dad and Chubs were waiting for us to go do the rides. We made it about 15 feet.

She burst into tears. She said, “Mom, he’s like Ziggy! You saw Ziggy in the shelter and he was scared and going to die and you saved him. I want to save him!” Well shit. She had me there. This is the exact lesson I have wanted to ensure she learned early and often - compassion for animals. Real Estate Dad and I looked at each other, and we schlepped back to the store.

We put the new one into his own cage away from the other three and Real Estate Dad performed a shell-ectomy. He deposited him into a shell to see if he would take to it, and he did. So far so good. Today we got a 10 gallon aquarium delivered and now all 4 hermies have been put inside. They are loving life, checking out their new digs. Violet2 has abandoned her Spongebob shell for one of the new ones, and the four of them officially outnumber the dogs.

Humans: 5
Crabs: 4
Dogs: 3

I may have to even out the species counts in the house.

This is Sandy. She likes long walks on the beach and sunsets.

This is Sandy. She likes long walks on the beach and sunsets.

Small red shell is Shiny the rescue crab, who almost died without a shell. Violet2 is to the left. Woody is in the back, saying, “I hate all of you. I NEVER WANTED A FRIEND!”

Small red shell is Shiny the rescue crab, who almost died without a shell. Violet2 is to the left. Woody is in the back, saying, “I hate all of you. I NEVER WANTED A FRIEND!”

Meet Our New Family Pets!

Last summer, Princess Roundhead and Chubs made us that deal that if we got them hermit crabs then we didn’t have to get them American Girl Dolls. We fell for it, got them their crabs and then we ended up at the stupid American Girl Doll Store anyway to spend part of their college fund on dolls no one plays with anymore.

Chubs’s crab died a few months later. Thanks in part to my heating pad contraption, Roundhead’s held strong through the winter and spring. I hoped that Woody (yes, that’s her name) would survive until summer and she did. (We don’t know that it’s a girl, that’s what Roundhead wants to believe.)

We went to Rehoboth last week and I told them to bring Woody. We were going to talk to the crab people to find out why Woody was pretty inactive as of late, and why she hadn’t ever changed shells like they are all supposed to do. At the store that’s most well known for selling healthy crabs and where we got Woody from, they said, “Oh, she needs a friend.”

For Fuck’s Sake. Of course she does.

Chubs picked a blue sponge bob shell crab, and named her Violet. Here she is! Everyone say hi to Violet!

Hello everyone! I’m Violet!

Hello everyone! I’m Violet!

If you didn’t say hi to her you missed your chance because she’s dead now.

You see, Violet was not in the cage the next morning. We weren’t sure where she could have gone because as you see the cage has plastic sides. It isn’t exactly one you can climb out from. We were staying on the 4th floor and left the cage on the balcony so the hermies could enjoy the heat. We all looked over the balcony and thought, “No, she didn’t…”

We went downstairs to scour the boardwalk and Princess Roundhead said, “MOM! LOOK!” She handed me a tiny piece of a blue shell. We called in forensics and while the tests were processing, a nice man walked up to us and asked if we were looking for a hermit crab. I actually looked at him suspiciously and said, “What makes you ask?”

He said they found it earlier that day. I asked if Violet was in the E.R. but he said she was in the morgue, a.k.a. the patch of dunes by the building. He brought us over to her final resting place. I was convinced she was alive but Real Estate Dad was like, “Melissa. She’s dead. Give up.”

“Aren’t You People Supposed to be Animal Rescuers???”

“Aren’t You People Supposed to be Animal Rescuers???”

Anyway, poor Chubs. We told her we would get her another crab, so back to the store we went with our saga of how Violet committed suicide. Somehow we ended up buying not one but two crabs. It seemed a better way to hedge our bets in case one of these two decided to tell the world to fuck off.

And that’s how we came home with 4 hermit crabs.

Right. The math doesn’t add up.

We brought Woody to the beach = 1 crab

Bought Violet = 2 crabs

Violet committed Suicide = 1 crab

Went to replace Violet, came home with Sandy and Violet2, plus Woody = 3 crabs.

This story is already long enough. I’ll finish the rest later.

How the Terzis Family Landed in Disney Jail

Apologies. This one is long overdue.

The day after Real Estate Dad and I were married, we were at my parent’s house. Someone started talking about the time we ended up in Disney Jail. Real Estate Dad listened to the whole story and very calmly looked over at me and said, “I see you saved the really scary stuff until after I was locked in.”

Growing up, our family vacations were nothing short of epic. Not epic/amazing but epic…uh…memorable. The real decision maker on these vacations wasn’t even a member of the family. It was my father’s wallet. The wallet would only let us to do things where we could “get our money’s worth.” Like when the 5 of us would squeeze into one crappy fleabag Motel 6 room for $16.95. That was considered a steal. Before we checked out, we would take all the leftover tissue boxes “for the car.” If we were lucky, we would leave without lice or bedbugs. I still shudder at some of this.

On our arrival to Disney World on one such vacation, Gloom and Doom sent the three of us to the hotel game room. This was the only time they would ever encourage us to go to the game room, but it’s not like the wallet had to fork over any money. We would just go in and look for wayward coins in coin-return slots or on the floor. Don’t judge, once I found $20!

The reason for the game room strategy was because they were securing our hotel room and then the Magic Kingdom tickets. It’s much harder to shave years off the lives of children who keep showing up at the desk to ask if we can leave yet.

Back then, the tickets were a paper square and they had lines for “Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.” For many years my parents would buy 1 pass with 3 days on it and 1 pass with 2 days on it, and that was our admission. I understood two things about this situation:

1) Gloom and Doom said since there were no multi-day discounts, this 2-ticket method was the same price as 5 separate passes but just less to carry.

2) Number 1 could be a Gloom and Doom lie.

We went to the turnstiles at the front of the Magic Kingdom. My mom and I were using the 2-day pass and my dad was taking my brothers to another turnstile with their 3-day pass. The underpaid employee at Doom’s turnstile didn’t approve of the “stamp for three of us” situation. She called foul and we were being told we couldn’t enter the park. What? No Thunder Mountain? No Mr. Toads Wild Ride?

To this day, my dad is a very calm and level-headed man. It’s a personality trait that served him well for six decades in his career as an attorney. We knew he would solve this.

He yelled “RUN!”

I watched one of my brothers and his long legs go galloping into the park. My Dad took off in a different direction and my other brother followed suit.

And then was Gloom. Stuck with the dead weight. All 40 lbs and 8 years of me. They knew we were together. We were detained by the Mickey Mouse Police. They brought us to some room and told us to stay seated until they came back for us. They were on their Disney Walkie-Talkies alerting Mickey, Donald and all the other characters to be on the lookout for 3 absconders.

Somehow Gloom sprung us. See, the Disney law isn’t really the law. They’re just the characters without their costumes. When they weren’t looking, Mom grabbed me by the hand and we escaped. My parents have balls, you have to hand it to them. They literally did not give a fuck.

I said, “How are we going to find everyone else?” She said, “You know your father. He’ll be at the Crystal Palace eating eggs and sausages.” And he was. As were my brothers. You have to wonder about a family scattered faster than roaches when the lights go on, and know each other well enough to find each other without cell phones.

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She's Not Dead, She Just Fell Over and Looks Dead

It is rare that I look back on a day and say, “Good parenting today, Melissa.” Mostly I feel like I’m just getting by on fumes and promising myself I’ll do better tomorrow. I’ll get back to this in a moment.

There’s a postscript to the story of the paralyzed squirrel. We ended up finding him. When Chubs and I were squirrel-hunting the other morning, a few neighbors saw us. You know that part of your brain that tells you, “hey, we really shouldn’t share this with other people because it makes us look crazy?” That part of my brain is busted.

I told everyone I saw about the paralyzed squirrel and it didn’t backfire! Later that day one of them found him!

I ran to grab a crate while New-Summer-Nanny called Washington Humane. Then, New-Summer-Nanny, the girls, our neighbor and her kids and I ran and scooped him up in a towel. We put him in a plastic container inside the crate and waited for help to arrive.

We all hovered around him trying to help. Princess Roundhead ran inside to get nuts, carrots, apples and water. We were outside with him just waiting. He got stuck in the towel we attempted to help him get free. It didn’t go so well.

Go the hell away! P.S. I’m a girl!!!

Go the hell away! P.S. I’m a girl!!!

The animal rescue people were madly efficient. They came within 15 minutes and whisked her away, saying they refer these cases to the wildlife division.

I know. They probably euthanized her. I don’t want to think about that. I’d like to think that she’s scooting around their offices with little crutches or a tiny squirrel wheelchair. (It can happen! Google it!)

After the girls went to sleep that night, I thought about my feelings for animals. I didn’t grow up with pets or any sort of love for animals. My parents viewed animals as another mouth to feed and something to take care of.

But, as we all do, I always look back on how I was raised and what I want to do differently with my own kids. One of those things is making sure the girls learn for compassion for animals. Seeing the concerned looks on their little faces worrying about the squirrel, it registered that I accomplished that. I gave myself, our friend and New-Summer-Nanny a virtual high-five. We taught the kids something important the other day - something that matters.

Whatever You Do, Don't Open the Box

Summer is off to a good start. The first week it pretty much rained on and off, just enough so the kids couldn’t go to the pool, I had clients who walked away from a death-trap-money-pit house and the Pro-Terz clan went to another Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Sort of.

It’s not really like the movie. This wedding was Real Estate Dad’s nephew (I can’t call him my nephew because he and I are closer in age than me and Real Estate Dad) (I don’t always get married, but when I do, I prefer them older) (Stay thirsty, my friends.) Anyway, there wasn’t much big and fat about the wedding. They didn’t have a large bridal party (thank god because am I the only one who hates the dozens of drunken introductions of people no one knows?) The bridal party was just a few of their closest friends. The reception was outdoors.

We were 2 hours late because: traffic. I’m sure I’ve spent more time in my life sitting in traffic in that painful stretch of the last few exits before the Bay Bridge than in all the world’s 7-11’s combined. Unfortunately for us, we disappointed Bowie. We did not get to the church on time so we went straight to the reception.

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Princess Roundhead and I were milling around the various tables they had set up with pictures and guestbooks and such. We came across this nice little carved wooden box the size of a shot glass. Princess Roundhead was like, “Does this open?” I said, “I don’t know, let’s see it.” We were both grabbing at it and fiddling with it and she was like, “I want to know what’s inside!” It appeared to slide but also it could have lifted like a lever. She tried. I tried. We couldn’t get it open.

The groom came over and said, “Ooh, guys don’t open that.” We looked up like, “Buddy we’ve been working on this thing for a full five minutes and you want us to abandon ship now?”

He said, “There’s a person in there.”

Well crap. A sign or something would have been nice, because they invited the child I call “a Bull in a China Shop” and her relentless mother. Actually, the child wasn’t really invited but that’s a whole other story. I’m not good at following directions. Or getting places on time.

I went over to tell Real Estate Dad how our daughter and I really could have gotten ourselves booted out of the whole shindig and I swear to you, that man does not let the truth get in the way of telling a good story. He buzzed around the entire reception like god damned Sophia Petrillo, telling everyone that his wife and eldest daughter almost set the bride’s father free.

By the end of the night, the Greeks were coming up to me howling, “DID YOU HEAR WHAT YOUR DAUGHTER ALMOST DID TO THE BRIDE’S FATHER????” Yes, because a) I WAS THERE and b) WHERE THE HELL IS PROAKIS. RIGHT. NOW.

He took his little one-man act over to the bathrooms. Because these were the bathrooms.

If this van’s a rockin, don’t come a knockin

If this van’s a rockin, don’t come a knockin

Real Estate Dad could not resist. When the girls or I were in here, he went running to the back like the bad kid in the back of the school bus and pushed on the side so we would rock back and forth. A few drinks and a shot of Ouzo later, I enacted the payback.

When he came out he said the vase of flowers tipped over and everything fell off the walls.

The second week of summer was better. We have a new Summer Nanny who is Chubs’s old Year-Round Nanny and she never calls in dead to work! I had two buyers close on houses in week 2 of summer, other clients get a super cute house under contract, and a few other buyers lost houses. Real Estate is still plugging along.

Today we started week 3 of summer by finding a paralyzed squirrel. He got away from us (don’t ask) but we’re going back out to look for him. Poor guy.