How Many Times Will I Say "Class Mom" In This Post?

Another weekend down for the real estate family.

I volunteered to be Class Mom for both Princess Roundhead’s 2nd grade and Chubs’s Kindergarten. The good part is that I’m co-class mom for both classes with my mom-friends. That makes it much more tolerable. The bad news (for my co-class-moms) is that I’m the asshole and they are the respective nice ones, so, they’ll be consistently mopping up behind me. Both the girls have amazing teachers who I love, so truthfully I love being involved to help the teachers and spend more time with the kids. But there’s a definite downside.

So, you know when you get to that part where you can’t do something yourself and you need other parents to volunteer and they could not give two shits that their help is needed? That’s the part that irritates like a plastic tag in your cotton underwear.

I was chatting with one of the moms who I was co-class mom with last year. This year our girls are in different classes but she’s Class Mom for her daughter’s class. We were sharing Class Mom woes on the playground on Friday. (I know, I’ve become every cliche possible right now.)

She told me that a parent came up to her and said: So you’re the Class Mom?
Her: Unfortunately.
Him: Why do you say that?
She then lost her filter and said: I didn’t want to do it but no one stepped up. People seem to not understand that the reason Stoddert is so highly desired is because the parent involvement got this school to where it is now but it’s the same people doing everything. No one volunteers for anything. People think all this just happens magically. Bit it all falls on the PTO and the Class Moms to do it.

Well, that was refreshing. I was shocked she actually said it. I didn’t even do it justice in my written version. The way she conveyed it was so satisfying, I was looking for a cigarette to light. I’m good at being passive aggressive in emails or on this blog, but to say it to someone’s face? Hell yeah! She said he slinked away with that “sorry I asked” face.

This weekend was the Fall Festival. Think: food trucks, bounce houses, pumpkin painting. Last year if anyone besides me recalls (#StillBitter) the Class Moms of Pre-K were told a week before the event that it was “customary for the Pre-K to run the costume shop.” Not many people signed up to wo-man that booth and this year was no different. I saw the two class moms sitting there all day because no one else in their class volunteered.

I hate people. Did I ever say that I hate people? I hate people. Between this and rescue it’s hard not to hate people.

We had much of the same for our Kindergarten class sign up. Less than half of the families signed up to help watch our oversize Connect-4 game. I emailed the entire class on Friday night and asked how it could be possible that less than half the families would volunteer, and to please take a look at the list and sign up for a quick half hour shift.

Not. One. Additional. Person. signed up. NOT ONE. I could smell them through email, heating up their queso and turning on the football game.

I get it, you’re soooo busy. But I too am working 55-60 hours a week, helping run a dog rescue, getting a podcast off the ground and raising 2 kids. My house hasn’t been clean in a year, I can’t remember the last time I went to the grocery store, I’ve seen zero shows on Netflix that everyone is raving about, Chubs told me I’m never home (again,) and we only get help from a nanny for 2 afternoons a week. And now I decided to train for a 50 mile walk this winter. Suck it. We’re all busy.

And if you live in Glover Park you are probably familiar with this other thing we have to contend with known as the Russian Embassy. They mysteriously installed cameras all over Glover Park, but when contacted about it to ask if they would release footage if there were a crime caught on the cameras, they SAID NO (allegedly, according to list-serv mania.) To add that insult to injury, the other problem here is that their children also get a seat in our public schools.

This may not be a popular opinion, but being that I have State Department clients and friends who have shipped out to other countries and whose children went to the “American School” in that country, I fail to understand why children of Embassy Parents who are here for just a year or two have just as much right to a seat in our schools as the people who live here, pay taxes here and contribute to the city. Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow a DC Resident who is “out of boundary” into the school than someone who is here temporarily and has zero interest in our city?

Like I said, not a generally popular opinion but the school is massively overcrowded. The teachers and our kids are suffering because of this. It really makes private school look better, honestly.

I’d like to say I’m now retiring the phrase “Class Mom” but I’m pretty sure we all know that’s not true.

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.


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.