1. kateS
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:42 am

    Nothing quite like torturing a little brother…..


  2. tammigirl
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:45 am

    You are a FANTASTIC sister! If I had a sister I would want her to be just like you! I notice your dad has no iPhone. Did he lose it a.g.a.i.n.??


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 5, 2014 @ 10:12 am

      Are you familiar with the lyrics to The Jungle Book song- “Bare Necessities?” There is a line that says–”Forget about your worries and your strife.” Matthew used to sing it–”forget about your worries and your wife.”

      I couldn’t quite work that into the story, but needed to tell someone, apparently.


      • tammigirl
        March 5, 2014 @ 10:56 am

        I think it only fitting for me to be the one you tell.

        Auto-fill just put my phone number in the ‘Your Website’ box. How did that happen? I dunno!


  3. AmyEbbertHill
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:50 am

    The only thing missing is the Disco Ball!


  4. Laurie
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:50 am

    Clearly, this is all about love. You’ve simply included all the things he loves most in life.

    Matthew, loving Barney is OK. Don’t let anyone take him from you. I’m assuming you just had an early love for paleontology though, right?


  5. Alex
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:54 am

    Oh man, I love this. It reminds me of my sibs. Just this week, my sister and I dressed up like Soviet-Era chanteuses and sang Disney’s the Circle of Life, recorded it and sent it to our (not-nearly-amused-enough) brothers.



    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 5, 2014 @ 9:57 am

      If required, my brothers and I could go on tour tomorrow–performing The Jungle Book from beginning to end, we would not even need to practice.

      (Not that they would. Which is why I always wanted sisters.)


      • Alex
        March 5, 2014 @ 10:42 am

        I will be your honorary internet little sister. For one thing, I have an excellent King Louie voice (no one agrees with me, but they are probably just jealous). And for another, I feel like we could engage in shenanigans that *my* little sister isn’t ready to commit to.

        And you could teach me how to tie a bow properly. *hangs head in shame*


  6. JamieAbe
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:54 am

    I seriously think that this is perfect!! I hope he appreciates this as much as he should. And, I was loving the description of the hotel water. Its never bothered me before, but somehow I know exactly what you’re talking about.


  7. Jann from Newton Custom Interiors
    March 5, 2014 @ 9:59 am

    Can I just tell you that I so look forward to your posts. They always make me laugh out loud! I think it’s great that you spent the time making this for your brother. Fabulous!


  8. My Crappy House
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:22 am

    Lisa Frank would be proud. Well done!

    P.S. Bring your own water glass to the hotel. I saw an exposé on how staff usually cleans those glasses and it involves Windex and a paper towel…


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 5, 2014 @ 10:24 am

      Please. I bring my ENTIRE house to hotel. I should just buy a Winnebago and be done with it.


      • Alex
        March 5, 2014 @ 10:44 am

        Horrifyingly, a friend pointed out that certain cultures spit frequently, and probably the carpet is full of old saliva. I abominate hotels and have OFTEN wondered how they get hotel water to be a different consistency and smell than ALL other waters.

        Horrifying thought: taking a bath in a hotel. Gag.


    • tammigirl
      March 5, 2014 @ 10:58 am

      This is why I always travel to a hotel with my own dish washing supplies. No lie!


    • Lori
      March 5, 2014 @ 11:53 am

      OhMyLord! Ya’ll just ruined me for staying anywhere but the Ritz-Carlton!! My travel budget (which is zero right now) thanks you. You could take a bath in a pond and get better results!


  9. Mary Engelbreit
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:23 am

    I love your blog—it always makes me laugh out loud. And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who dislikes traveling and leaving all the familiar comforts of home, even though I have to do it way more than I would like to. Why do people think it’s glamorous or fun?? It’s a mystery.
    I hope your brother loves his Screensaver-Of-Love. It’s fabulous!


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 5, 2014 @ 10:48 am

      I will now get 57,000 emails saying – DO YOU KNOW THAT MARY ENGELBREIT COMMENTED????????????????


      • tammigirl
        March 5, 2014 @ 11:00 am

        OH. MY. GANACHE!!!!!

        SHE DID!! SHE DID!!

        I just died a little. I also palpitated more than a little.


  10. Connie in Hartwood
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:30 am

    Have you been to Haven before? I haven’t but I am considering it this year … if only to use it as a long weekend away from home during the summer doldrums. I’m not into blogging for profit or into the inevitable hot-new-thing in trendy home decorating, but it could be fun try something out of my comfort zone to meet some new people.

    I find that it is really fun to ‘meet’ some other attendees before the actual event, to shorten the acclimatizing curve that inevitably leads to awkwardness at a conference where I don’t know anyone … works well for high school reunions, too. Provides a safe place to dock in a sea of unfamiliarness.


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 5, 2014 @ 10:40 am

      I haven’t been before… I almost went last year, but reverted to my comfort zone. (And afterwards was irritated with myself for being so committed to never trying new things.)

      Plus, shamefully, I have never been to Atlanta, despite being Scarlett O’Hara for Halloween MANY years in a row.


      • Jan Hebert
        March 5, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

        Tell me, please, that you used yards and yards of velvet drapery and a curtain rod across your shoulders…

        Love your blog!


  11. Lisa @ Practically Perfect Home
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:35 am

    My sister and I made curls out of yellow construction paper and bobby pinned them to my brothers head when he was ~5…he’d kill me if he knew I shared this with everyone and their mother! Haha! The entire purpose of family is to embarrass each other, right?!


  12. Rose
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:39 am

    Oh man. I’m sure Lisa Franks’ heart is swelling with pride right now. LOVE this.


  13. Vanessa
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:46 am

    Ahhhhhh…siblings! So when I was little we lived in Escondido, CA (outside of San Diego) and every time we drove anywhere even remotely near the border of Mexico (as in even a half an hour away) my blonde haired blue eyed sister would tell me, her brown haired brown eyed little sister, that the police were going to think that my parents were trying to smuggle me in illegally and so I needed to lie on the floorboards of the car and be very quiet so they wouldn’t take me. I think you and she would get along very well! 😉

    P.S. You just CANNOT go wrong with unicorns, barney and cats!


  14. Joy
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:11 am

    As a diabolical older sister, I realized that you may have forgotten something really important.

    You must IMMEDIATELY either delete all the other photos and blank backgrounds or password lock the background so he can’t change it!



  15. Maggie
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:19 am

    I was so super excited to see a new post in my Inbox this morning as MY Pinterest account was also hacked and apparently I also reside in Paris! And this was, of course, a bummer to me and my Pinterest love. However, it’s good to know we can both bounce back from this. You, in the form of an amazing background and I, in the form of conning my high school Spanish students into learning all morning. It’s a win-win for us both.


  16. Jenny
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:46 am

    I obviously missed something here. My older siblings weren’t nearly as fun and funny with their torture forms as you are. Most of them weren’t funny at all. But I do recall that on my 16th birthday, my best friend and I went with my parents to the local 5-star hibachi restaurant for dinner (HUGE deal in 1979), and while we were out, my oldest sister (who was 14 years older) stopped by the house to leave my present. She had forgotten a card. But she saw my friend’s carefully-chosen sentimental-drivel card on the table. So she found a pencil, crossed out Amy’s name, and signed her own. I thought it was the funniest thing anyone had ever done. My friend was not impressed at all. But none of my siblings have ever created anything REMOTELY as fabulous as that wallpaper, so I bow to your sibling greatness.

    Now I am off to check my Pinterest account and make sure I have not moved to Paris, too.


  17. Garden, Home and Party
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:55 am

    We still tease both of our son’s (ages 35/31) about a whole host of embarrassing childhood passions…a He-Man bicycle and /Star Wars characters for the oldest and enough sports cards collected we could cover the earth them for the youngest!

    Can I come visit you in Paris?



  18. Lorrie
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:57 am

    What you have done for your brother is far better than any family therapy group could have done! And, of course, for a lot less $$$. As for the hotel, have you considered staying at a B&B instead?


  19. heather
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:57 am

    your posts make my day. i love the screensaver and the breakdown of what it means. i do hope you take the advice listed above and password lock that shiz. lol. when are you giving it to him? i would love to know his reaction. lisa frank sparkle rainbow unicorns 4 EVA.

    i also got hacked from pintrest. also from paris. i found out a lot of people did too. so weird.


  20. Janice
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:58 am

    Don’t like hotels..consider VRBO. Vacation rental by owner. People have places they rent out. I’ve stayed in a few very nice places. People also give very honest reviews which I found very helpful.


  21. Kimberly ~ SerendipityRefined
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:04 pm

    Your brother may be living a dual life as my brother Tom. Does he have brown hair and blue eyes? Is he in his 40’s? Perhaps he’s found a way to time travel back and forth between whereever he lives and Illinois (thus explaining the fact that we both appear to have a brother who is the same person). Thanks for the unicorn photo…and the barney song which will now be stuck in my head for the rest of the day….it’s such a nice break from the “Happy” song which has been stuck there since the Oscars on Sunday…I was getting tired of dancing every time I stood up. 🙂


  22. Michele
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

    Not too ashamed to admit that when I was a 19 y.o. nanny I became addicted to Barney. Even now, way more than a decade (but how much more I can’t reveal), on Saturday mornings, I annoy the heck out of my husband singing the Barney-Clean-Up Song. Of course, it is only to encourage him to help with the cleaning (which never works – he removes himself to the office). Please-oh-please do a follow up with Matthew’s reaction to your Kingdom-Mirror-of-Awesomeness-Screensaver!!!


  23. Stephanie
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

    Aren’t much-younger siblings just the best? My sister is 12 years younger and I absolutely adore her, more than anyone else except my husband. Of course that does not mean that I don’t give her grief about her childhood obsessions, particularly New Kids on the Block. That was an especially effective form of torture when she became a rather goth-y teenager.


  24. Princess Mom
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

    You really need to check out VRBO.com or Flipkey. Staying in someone else’s vacation home–while the someone in not there, so you don’t have to be polite and unobtrusive–is the *only* way to travel. I stayed in someone’s vacation condo, with TWO balconies, in the French Quarter a couple weeks ago. When I sat out on the balcony, people walked by and were actively jealous at my fantastic life. I’ve done this several times and never once had an icky, dirty place. On the other hand, I stayed at a Comfort Suites a week ago and my skin is *still* dry and itchy.


  25. LibraDesignEye
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

    Something you need to know – there is an entirely famous (have been written up in USA today, slate, the guardian,etc.) ‘have their own annual convention’ category of
    “boys who love my little pony”
    (grown up boys, many of them straight). You may not be aware but the ponies have a strong resemblance to this image. These guys are called “brony(s)”
    How do I know this? One of my lovely barely adult sons (still in college and on the payroll) IS a brony. In fact, he writes brony fan fiction that is dark, adult and somewhat racy (for grownups) that many followers read. I do not, as, like most mothers, I would prefer that my sons knowledge of racy things stays hidden to me. But I do take this as proof that we did not scar him with too many manly requirements.
    So, perhaps your brother too is a brony, or perhaps he would be appalled to discover that his screen saver has brony overtones. Or perhaps he would like to find the fan fiction written by Idylia and become a fan.
    We must be related.Or if we aren’t we should be. Family and humor must go together for us to continue to perpetuate the species.
    p.s. princess mom is right. Bed and Breakfasts are also usually immaculate and walkable – try something new and have a great time.


    • MissFifi
      March 6, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

      And just so you can all enjoy it, here is the trailer for the Bronies Documentary!


  26. judy
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

    Oh my- Our family trip from Virginia to Seattle, Washington and back in 21 days involved a hellish number of motel stays and meals in -gag-restaurants without a GPS and no real pre-planned itinerary- so A Nightmare! The worst was a room so dirty we called the front desk and demanded a room change. This is after checking in @ 2:30 am…..for some weird reason I decided to check under the TV stand before departing dirt central and spied a large deposit of petrified dog crap-how a huge! Dog got its butt under there is beyond me unless the housekeeper just kicked it under there? We walked out without even asking for a refund. I honestly was afraid I would throw up if I didn’t get into fresh air. We kept driving till we found a very expensive place-we needed( 2 rooms) slept for 9 hours straight- missed the free breakfast. The reason for this dumbness? I am terrified of flying, but thinking back a quick death would have been less painful than this trip.


  27. Jackie
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

    I too had my Pinterest hacked. Pinterest contacted me to suggest that this had happened and that therefore I needed to reset my password. Skeptical as I am I did not click the link in the email, cuz, you know. I logged directly into Pinterest and they said the same thing. So I reset my password and found that they had added a suspicious URL to my bio and set my location to Paris. I *almost* left the last one in place.

    I think this came about due to the Apple iOS security issue. If you guys haven’t yet, please go look for and install the update. But backup your iDevice first as occasionally it “bricks” the device–happened to a new iPhone 5S–but you can google how to reset it. And if you have Macs please update your OS there too. Google it, this is a real thing.


  28. Laura
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

    I am saddened by this, because for the life of me, I don’t understand why unicorns are funny. I sent a screen shot of this to my daughter who thought it was HulLLLARIOUS!!! and she was completely delighted. I guess I’m just old. SIGH. OTHERWISE, I love everything you do.


  29. nickie
    March 5, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

    Love the family collage ! Totally agree with you on the whole hotel shower thing . I have travel all over the world and do you know what I look like in all the photographs ? 10 years older with a pony tail. I bring mountains of products a outrageously expensive hair dryer and straighten iron, bought in Europe ,and every day frizz and fine lines. I sound a bit high maintenance in this comment and I am…. Us at the tail end of honeymoon, I am decided if I should cut my hair or it grow out “how do you like my hair best?” Husband in a flat sarcasitc voice” A pony tail”.


  30. Toni
    March 5, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

    Your brother will feel the love, after he gets over his embarrassment perhaps! :o) Don’t count on him leaving the screensaver up forever however!


  31. Heather
    March 5, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

    HA! This is totally something I would do to my brother…and sisters. We routinely snatch each other’s tablets/iPads and take random ugly photos and set them as the background.

    Ah, sibling love… *sigh*

    If Matthew doesn’t leave that brilliant image as his background he doesn’t deserve the computer…lol


  32. Sue
    March 5, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

    I have a little brother years apart too. He loved the Smurfs. I have one of his Smurf characters in my office desk drawer that I refuse to return to him. Hotels…then there is all the dead skin cells from previous guests lying everywhere to think about. I now understand Howie Mandel after staying in hotels.


  33. Brynne@TheGatheredHome
    March 5, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

    #1: I just bought my ticket to Haven today. I wasn’t going to go – travel anxiety, social anxiety, money stuff – and then I clicked “purchase” before I could talk myself out of it. I am thrilled and also slightly freaking out because of the whole road trip across the country and meet strangers thing… Thankfully I am at least not disturbed by the the grossness of hotels 😉

    #2: My Pinterest account got hacked too! I didn’t have the foresight to grab a screenshot though. They changed my location to Paris as well.

    #3: Your unicorn picture is amazing. I love the attention to detail 🙂 I hope you print it on canvas and give it to your family members as a Christmas present and then guilt them into displaying it on their walls!


  34. Krista
    March 5, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    Another reason why I love you- unicorns! I just recently got a large gold unicorn head that is on my wall- in it’s awesome glory. Unfortunately I have had to explain my art/vision to many. People have deer heads, what is the big deal about a paper mâché unicorn head?!


  35. JWC
    March 5, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

    Love the site but wonder if the non progression into the much anticipated kitchen might be causing a drop in membership. Kitchen, kitchen, kichen.

    Even more ideas about the kitchen, are good. Would you and hub treat yourselves to a contractor and team? Sure earned it.


  36. Valerie
    March 5, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

    I’ve been telling everyone for years that my little brother is actually the older sibling. It helps that he’s starting to lose his hair. As long as I can get away with that, I will, especially since he’s electronically-challenged and does not have a computer screen for me to play with. But oh, the fun I would have!


  37. Robyn
    March 5, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

    I laughed so hard when I read this post! My daughter LOVED Barney when she was little, I can still sing the theme song. She also went through the Lisa Frank stage, (and I with her, I love all things glittery, pink, and stickered) and I agree wholeheartedly that your brother’s screen saver would make Lisa proud. It’s amazing. I love your pets with halos :).


  38. Priscilla
    March 5, 2014 @ 11:23 pm

    I love that I’m not the only one from a wacky family. I was in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago with my daughters (aged 21 and 18) and I woke up at 3.00 am thinking I was having a terrible nightmare. Turns out it was just my tipsy daughters who’d decided to watch the movie “Anastasia” and have a bit of a singalong!!


  39. Ellen
    March 6, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    I think every brother, from the beginning of time, has loved tormenting his sister(s)! When I was a teenager, I got a beautiful new bra that was lacy and gorgeous. It wasn’t until I had been wearing it for a while that I realized that lovely lace was stiff and scratchy. I was trying to discreetly scratch, when my brother noticed and asked, in his loudest voice, if I had an itch? Luckily, this took place at home but I come from a large family so it was still very embarrassing.
    Knowing my mom had just loaded this same brothers gym bag with his clean football gear for the football game the next day, I made some adjustments to his jock strap. And yes, I sewed lace all over that thing and stuck it back in his bag with all his gear! He didn’t speak to me for a very long time. Let’s just say I’m lucky to be alive to tell this story!


  40. Brian Smingler
    March 6, 2014 @ 11:56 am

    Oh, I was almost rolling on the floor laughing about the Barney socks. It is amazing how ones siblings will never let something like that die and go away and you know you are going to get the same response every time you pull it out of the hat.
    As much as I enjoy your saga’s acquiring the best that Craig’s List has to offer this was over the top funny.


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