Thursday, July 26, 2012


This blog is about books, not about my crazy personal life.


Battle of the Books Round 2 has fallen by the wayside. At least for the deadline I had set. There are three reasons for this. The first is the start of school. All of the sudden there are schedules and there is driving. Lots and lots of driving. The second is that we are giving up—forever!—processed foods, which means I am suddenly cooking and cooking and cooking. Well, mostly chopping.

The third reason is that we went from a three pet household to an eleven pet household over the past three months. Yes, we are now one of those people. We had a cat and two birds; then we got two dogs. Then we went to the pet store last Saturday (I think, it's all a blur) and got a rabbit, two rats, and three beta fish.

One beta fish has swum back home to heaven. Sam changed its water and put the fish in the chlorinated water before he de-chlorinated it. Oops.

Then one rat escaped, and the next day the other did too. Then came the night of the living rats. I have to tell this story on this blog, if only to warn future generations about the pitfalls of rat ownership. And child rearing. And marriage in general.

At the pet store, the young pet store employee informed us that she was an expert on rats. After all, she owned some herself, and we watched as she and another pet store employee argued about whether or not we should get a small rabbit cage or a tank for the rats. No one mentioned the possibility that the rats could climb through the bars of the cage and escape. They did mention that the rats would one day outgrow the tank and they didn't have a larger one, so we got the cage.


Rats can climb through cages with bars wider than half an inch. At least our rats can. After the first rat (Scabbers Lupin) escaped, we did nothing about the cage situation because the second rat (Comet Willie) (Keep in mind with these names that these are both GIRL rats), seemed to have no desire to leave the cage. Until one night when she did.

Well, I thought these rats were dead. For several nights there was no sign of either of them, although I thought I might have seen something scampering across the floor of our closet one afternoon. But I decided I was seeing things.

Several nights later, Lucy, our ten-year-old, came into our bedroom at two o'clock in the morning, crying because a rat had just scampered down her arm onto her bed where it stopped at the foot of the bed to recite some Julius Caesar (e tu Brute?).

She was obviously hysterical, and since Lucy tends to be nervous about many things, I gave her a loving but firm ten minute lecture about how her arm was way too skinny for a rat to scamper on, and why would a rat do that anyway? To torture us humans while we sleep? (The answer to that is yes)

As I finished the lecture, Lucy and I turned to the doorway, and there was Comet, staring mockingly at us before scampering into the boys' room (I have to use the word scamper a lot, because that is exactly what rats do.).

Soon, Sam, Calvin, Shaemus, Flannery, Lucy, and I were tearing the room apart trying to find Comet. But this is what tearing the room apart looked like: Sam wandering around the room with a garbage bag in his hands, muttering about what a disaster the room was and how we'd never find the rat until it was perfectly clean; Shaemus trying to squeeze under the bed only to inform us multiple times that, "I keep running into that black thing and it bangs my leg, ow!"; Flannery staring bemusedly at us all, just happy to be awake at two in the morning; Lucy screaming because she kept thinking the rat had in some way touched her skin; Calvin saying, "There's no sign, there's no sign!" while not really looking at all; and me sitting in the doorway, blocking the way with a pillow. Just in case. Just in case of what, I'm not sure, but I was too tired to do anything else. Except laugh. I was also laughing, especially when Sam ordered me to get up and go get my glasses so I could help. Having my glasses on was not going to help.

At one point Comet snuck into the cage of her own free will, but we somehow managed to lose her again. Finally, after a good hour of this, I announced that we were all the worst rat hunters in the world and it was time for bed.

Ten minutes after we were back in bed, Lucy screamed, "Mom, Scabbers (the other rat) is sitting on my bookshelf. I'm not making it up. I swear. Help!"I ran into her room to see the rat sitting on the bookshelf, possibly endangering my books, and, lo and behold, there was Scabbers, scampering across Lucy's floor.

So Sam and I and everyone else attacked Lucy's room, moving all the furniture to the center of the room to catch Scabbers. Lucy's room is always clean, so Sam did not have to mutter about cleanliness, but he did at one point suggest taking apart the bed and moving all of the furniture out into the hallway so nothing was in the room. Then we could catch the rat, he explained. I decided he had gone temporarily insane and we weren't going to catch any rats that night. I ordered everyone to bed. Again.

I'd just fallen to sleep, when I felt our bed being moved. Sam was muttering to himself and turning the light on and shoving our bed around and muttering some more. "What's wrong?" I finally managed to say. "A rat was on my face," he said quite angrily. "Nibbling my ear." Not sure if this was truth or temporary insanity, I started to giggle, because either way it was pretty funny. Sam did not giggle, but he went back to bed.

Maybe ten minutes after this episode, we heard a crash in the boys' room. Sam leapt up to see what was going on. I stayed in bed with a pillow on my head. I didn't care any more about the rats. I didn't care about much of anything.

"We caught Comet," Sam announced after who knows how long. When I didn't respond, he (rudely) lifted the pillow off my head to tell me so.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"In her little cardboard box in the bathroom," he announced, sounding as proud as a successful rat hunter ought to sound.

Around 5:30am that morning, I heard this exclamation in the bathroom. "She's gone! Mom, Dad, Comet's gone again! She must have fallen into the toilet!"

Upon inspection, it was discovered that Comet had not fallen into the toilet, but she had chewed her way through the box. She was gone again. A great depression settled over the house.

After a day of no sightings, night began with a great deal of nervousness on Sam's part. He did not want rats climbing on his face again. But he eventually managed to fall to sleep. I chose to sleep with a pillow on my head the entire night for several reasons. The children were too exhausted from the previous night to wake up with any rat exclamations. And nothing happened.

The next morning, I was pretending to do an aerobics video downstairs when I heard some shouts and crashes above me. I ran upstairs (without pausing my aerobics video because then I wouldn't have to work out as long) to find the doorway blocked off and Sam attacking the closet. "He's there!" he called, right on that hanger. "There he is!" "He's right there!" "Get him." (Please remember that these are GIRL rats). Sam looked at me when I asked him if he would get dressed (he was in his underwear) so he could take our daughter to middle school and said, "I have to catch this rat. Now. I have to." There was a strange look in his eye, so I left. I finished exercising (sort of) and took Mary to middle school.

I came home to find that:

a) Comet had been found and captured
b) Scabbers had also been found and captured
c) They had been living together at the top of our closet
d) There was rat poop everywhere in our closet
e) All of the contents of our closet were on our bed
f) Sam had to go to work

So, we have two rats now in a glass tank, and unfortunately, they are never going to leave that tank again. Never. Unless anyone would like them? They're quite cute...

(I must also insert here that after my girls' chamber music concert that evening, I came home to find a completely cleaned out closet. Thank you, Sam!!!! The rat poop was gone as well as lots of unnecessary clothing—a benefit to rat hunting I'd never considered. What a good husband!)


  1. THANK YOU!!! I loved that post so much. And it's one more reminder of why I won't let our kids get pets. I love your family. In fact, the other day we watched an old home movie of Easter 2006 and all the kids were looking for Easter eggs in our backyard and Sam and Lucy were in the video. Really made me miss you guys.

  2. P.S. I love that you were pretending to do the aerobics and that you didn't pause it. No wonder we're friends.

  3. Oh, Lindsay! That was the funniest thing I've read in a LONG time! I love your descriptions of Lucy and Sam throughout the whole post... so funny. My sister had a pet snake that got loose in the house once (we never found it), and it gave me nightmares for a month. Poor Lucy... :)