Wednesday, October 1, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part 4: Happiness

Dear Priya,

Strap in, kid, because this is a long one but it's so important. I'm not the smartest or most edumacated auntie in the world but this is the most significant thing I've learned in 37 years. Do yourself a favor and believe me.

76. Being happy is the hardest job in the world, but your most important.

Once upon a time in the olden days I worked at a job that paid me a lot of money. I worked really, really hard there. Long days and as much passion as I could muster. The boss was charming but infuriating and he promised us the world.

He was a liar and a cheat and he stole from people. The company struggled and it made it very hard for people to work together and get along. The only way to get things done was to be a bossy cow.

So I was.

There was a joke at that company in the wintertime.

"It's bitch-ass cold outside," someone would say through chattering teeth when they came inside.
"How cold?" Anyone would chime in with this.
"Colder than Trish in a production meeting." They all knew that answer, too.

I hated myself. I hated my life. I hated feeling like I had to be mean every day. I hated working for a man who continued to disappoint me with his morals and his character.

I blamed everything from my terrible knee to my bad relationships to my hard unfair job, but it turns out it was my head. I took on an even harder job - being happy.

Despite the surgeries. Despite the long hours. Despite the paycuts.

Despite every single shitty thing going on and there were so many, Priya. There still are. But that's the trick in life. There always is terrible stuff*.

You have to find those joyful moments mixed in.
Exhibit A
Chubby thighs and straggly hair
but mostly you just see a heart
broken wide open in love.

You have to look for them and hunt for them and sometimes just imagine them and you have to do it diligently, every single day. Until one day it becomes automatic. Then keep doing it, even harder.

They will grow and become easier to find and they will sustain you. Sometimes it won't feel like there are enough of them and other days the abundance will blow your mind.

These moments are what will teach you how to love yourself  - and you have to or you won't ever be happy. Because you won't be able to give your all to anything until you take care of Priya first.

Sometimes you just won't know how.

Hug your Mom. Then hug your Dad. Write it out. Draw something. Read a book that inspires you. Sing a song, or listen to one of your favorites. Go for a run. Meditate. Take a warm bath.

Call your auntie. I will walk from Wisconsin to Minnesota to help you if you need me, but I'll probably have a heart attack a few miles in so please reserve this for the direst of emergencies.

And ask for help if you ever feel truly alone. Family. Friends. A temple or church. A professional. A helpline. A stranger if it's dire.

You are never, ever alone and now that you're here this world will never, ever be better off without you. But you're not crazy if you wonder about that someday, especially around the time you get boobs and your dad suddenly starts patting you on the head instead of hugging you. When boobs grow your brain leaks down out of your head to fill them out and you feel insane. Life is utterly impossible. Nobody else could ever understand.

But you are wrong.

There is never a situation that can't get a little bit better, a little bit at a time.

Being happy is the hardest job in the world but you can do it. I know you can. Just never stop looking for joy.


Love,
Auntie

*P.S. Karma bit that boss in the ass. It bit me, too. I complained about that job and how it wasn't enough money and I hated it so much. Now I have no job and no money and I hate that, too. But it doesn't own me and nobody would ever accuse me of being bitch-ass cold again. I got help for my depression before it was too late. 

I asked for help.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part 3

Dear Priya,

I would have written sooner but I've been very busy counseling middle schoolers, which brings me to our next lesson.

51. Girls are mean. One day you'll be in middle school and you'll come home crying because your very best friend in the world turned on you. Suddenly she's your enemy and she's ruining your life. Be strong and remember that true friends will never, ever intentionally hurt you.

52. Be nice even when someone is being mean to you. It confuses them.

53. There will be days in your life where you are certain that you will die of embarrassment. I promise that you won't.

54. One of the best things about awful things happening to you is that someday you can use those lessons to help make someone else feel better when that same awful thing happens to them.

55. When you make that person feel better, you'll suddenly realize that you're grateful for that terrible thing that happened to you.

56. Speaking of gratitude, it's the most important thing in the world. Always be thankful for what you have. Say it. Think it. Write it. Live it.

57. On days where there is nothing to be grateful about, try harder. There is always something.

58. Dance wildly.

59. Do what you love. If all the other kids want to play basketball but you want to ride a unicycle, go ahead and ride that thing. Someday you'll be too scared to try such things, so take advantage of your dumb fearlessness before you outgrow it.

60. Phones down at the table. Seriously. If someone took the time to cook you dinner, you can take the time to talk to them while you eat it.

61. Don't be afraid to get hurt. Skinned knees and bruised elbows mean you tried something.

62. Get lost in magic. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny won't visit you forever, so feel free to squeal joyfully when they do.

63. It's totally acceptable to wake your parents up at four AM on Christmas morning. They can sleep later, you have presents to open.

64. Your imagination is perfect. Now exercise it, so it stays so strong.

65. Sit in someone's lap when they read to you. It makes the story even better.

66. Do not follow that last piece of advice after age five.

67. Draw on the walls.

68. Don't pull Morgan and Bailey's tails.

69. OK, you can, but they might bite you.

70. Farts are always funny.

71. Practice giving. Give your time, give your effort, give your love. You never know when one kind act will change someone's life.

72. Love people's guts. Their insides. Don't worry about what they look like or if they are different in some way. See their hearts instead of their bodies.

73. When you sing, do so with gusto at the top of your lungs.

74. Enjoy the snow now. Someday it will mean shoveling and horrid commutes instead of snowmen and hot cocoa.

75. When your daddy asks why the hell you want dance lessons, simply explain you want to be just like him.



That's all for now, sweet baby girl Priya.

Love,
Auntie

Sunday, September 28, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part 2

Dear Priya,

My favorite guy and my bestest girls are fast asleep and I'm puking too much to try to go to bed so I thought we'd best continue our lessons.

25. School is so lovely, enjoy it. Soon enough you'll be grown and believe me, that's no picnic. Soak up everything you can in school and respect your teachers. One or two of them will undoubtedly change your life in a huge way.

26. Makeup. You should only use it if it makes you happy and you should always skip it more often than wearing it. You are beautiful exactly as you are.

27. You'll see that people spend a lot of time playing with tiny machines. Put them down and make something instead. Being creative will help you grow. Also, this will be much more fun at Auntie Tricia's house because I have all the good art supplies and your dad sucks at art. 

28. Your mom is magic. She has superpowers that nobody else in your world will possess - she can make your ouchies better with a kiss. 

29. Nana is a sucker. She'll give you the moon and stars and treats and presents so long as you let her cuddle you. Don't tell her I tattled.

30. Grandpa Wild is the funny one who doesn't like to pick you up but tweets about you a lot. I know he loves you madly because he joined Facebook* after years as a holdout - he didn't want to miss a single picture of you. 

13. It's OK to eat dessert first sometimes.

23. I'll probably always feed you dessert first. Don't tell your mom and dad.

33. You are half Indian which means you should wear a sari and a bindi every chance you get because they are so much more badass beautiful than our white mutt clothes.

43. A little bird named Scout suggested to me that you will be a dancer. It's important that you start by age three because she had a vision of you as a world-famous breakdancer and your training must begin promptly so you can hit the competition circuit by first grade.

35. Beets are delicious. Your dad will lie about this, but they're good for you so eat as many of them as you'd like. Please request them frequently and report back to me.

36. Even though they are delicious, beets are not in fact candy. Nana lied to me about this when I was your age and I fell for it for a year until someone gave me M&Ms. That was 365 days of chocolate opportunities wasted. The moral of life lesson number 36 is that you really can't trust Nana.

37. Jumping on the bed is pretty joyful. Go for it.

38. Swimming is even more joyful than jumping on the bed so you should spend lots of time in the water. 

39. Also, bathing suits.  They fit perfectly until you're about twelve when suddenly your body boings out in weird directions and after that you'll declare every suit you ever wear to be ugly. That suit is fabulous and anyhow, who cares? Get back in the water and enjoy.

40. No. That doesn't make your butt look too big.

41. Santa is totally real but he's a spirit who lives in people's hearts and they express it around the holidays by lavishing you with gifts. It would be super creepy if a fat old man broke into your house in the middle of the night and ate your food, even if he did leave presents.

42. While we're on the subject of presents, a  PSA: Never agree to free kittens and candy. I mean it, Priya, that's the biggest rule. I'll whoop your tiny butt if I see you so much as look at someone offering them.

43. Nothing in life is free.

44. Also, some custodians have Priya-triggered dynamite inside them and if you get within ten feet you'll both be blown to smithereens, so avoid all janitors in general. Just in case.

45. Try every food once. Except for bananas and ketchup and that one fish they serve in Japan that supposedly tastes amazing but poisons you to death if the chef cleans it just a smidge off.

46. Using a sheet to parachute off the garage doesn't work.

74. Neither does lying. You'll get caught every time, so just be honest.

48. Karma. It doesn't often come swiftly but when it does it's worth the wait.

49. Always jump in the puddles.

50. Family** is your greatest gift and every single person in your family can teach you something.

I have to go to bed now, baby Priya. We'll finish this another day.

Love,
Auntie

*Facebook is an app from the olden days before people connected by transmitting code to one another's GPS implants.

**Your particular family includes an accountant, a nurse, an engineer, a speech therapist, a writer, a unicyclist, a comic, a stage star, a princess, a soccer player and the Giving Tree. You're basically covered.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

101 Life Lessons

OK, Priya, I'm on shift now so your mommy can sleep.  I know your belly is full and your diaper is not, so let's see if I can write this before you fill those pants again. In no particular order, here's what you need to know about life.

1.  Nothing in life will ever be fair. It's OK to pitch a fit, but then you must move on.

2. It's more important to be nice than to be right.

3. Never miss an opportunity to giggle.

4. Get hurt. It means you tried something.

5. If you start shaving your legs at age 10 and do so daily until you croak you will waste approximately 82 days of your life shaving. Is it really worth it? Only you can decide but I owe you the facts - men don't notice or care anyhow.

6. Be thankful. The more you are, the more you become.

7. If I ever catch you smoking I'll make you eat that cigarette. Then I'll watch you puke. Then I'll say you're welcome.

8. Your daddy will want you to love sports. You'd best just humor him, it'll make your life easier.

PAUSE FOR 3:15 AM FEEDING

9. Cheese goes on everything.

10. Being a grownup sucks. Take your time being a kid.

11. You will never regret time spent reading an old-fashioned paper book.

12. Animals make the world better. Also, you need a puppy.

13. Your first heartbreak will not, in fact, kill you. I promise.

14. Naps are awesome.

15. Farting really does feel as good as the look on your face when doing so would indicate.

PAUSE FOR 3:45 AM SHITSTORM

16. You are never, ever alone.

17. Brains before boobs. Except for right now, while boobs are your God-nectar.

18. Go ahead, have that brownie. That's what Spanx are for.

19. Always be curious.

20. It's quite rude to shit your drawers immediately after I change them and resnap your onesie.

21. Boys only complicate things. Climb trees instead.

22. Hold a baby any chance you get. It's free therapy.

PAUSE FOR 5:00 AM FEEDING

23. Always make time for your friends. They need you more than you need to check off whatever that thing is on your to-do list.

PAUSE FOR SHITSTORM ROUND 2

24. Bananas are one of the first things your parents will try to feed you. Just scream bloody murder until they give you something good.

25. School is....

FUCK IT, AUNTIE NEEDS A NAP...TO BE CONTINUED







Friday, September 19, 2014

Dear Priya - Meet your Mommy

Dear Priya,

I meant to write to you sooner to tell you about your mommy but there were volleyball games and unicycle lessons and karate and vomiting and homework and lost hairbrushes, and clogged toilets fighting and giggles. And eleven loads of laundry.

See, this is what life is like with a family. It's loud and frustrating and hard and awesome and spectacular and wonderful - sometimes all at once.

Soon your mommy, Reena, will be so exhausted she won’t know her head from her booty*. But before she gets to permission slips and VID (Very Important Drama), she has to get through a few years of screaming, crying and poop. Er…um…just kidding. Those things might not end.

Here’s what you need to know. Reena is a strong, beautiful, smart Indian woman. She’s your salvation in the tanning department. She has a postgraduate degree, giant brown eyes and excellent manners. She looks pretty in every color – so will you.

Your mommy likes things organized. And neat. Really organized and neat. In fact, hold off on that walking thing as long as you can because it all kinda goes downhill from there. At least in the mess department.

Also Reena is a worrywart*. This means you will say but moooooom, everybody else gets/has/does about fourteen times a day. And it won’t be fair, because life is not.  And there will be a lot of VID in your life. I can't wait to hear about it. When Mom gets tired of it, you come see me.

Reena is traditional and modest, so please don’t think you’re getting away with those shorts, young lady. A cami is not a shirt, jeggings aren’t pants, and no – you can’t have a tattoo! Because Mommy says so, that’s why! She always looks lovely so borrow something from her closet if you need to. Class never goes out of style.

You’ll need to prepare for something weird that happens when you are in double digits – you will be horrified by everything your mom does. Nothing she cooks will taste good, and nothing she does will be right. You have ten good years to get in your snuggles before this happens, though, so hop to it.

I have a secret about cuddling.

It’s just as delightful for the mommy as it is for the kid being snuggled, and it’s the probable reason you children thrive as a species. Otherwise we’d have accidentally on purpose smothered you all generations ago.

Aunties are excellent airbags in case of a Mommy Malfunction. When Reena crashes, I get to step in
and shnoozle you myself. This is for her sanity and your safety.

I will never be as well-mannered as your mother or as organized, and I will certainly never be that tan. But I have it on good authority that I’m so much comfier to lay on than a mom. My friend’s son told me that when he was three, and he said it with such bliss and wonder that I almost forgave him for calling me fat.


I’m a little rusty we'd better practice snuggling this weekend.

Love,
Auntie



Booty – this is the cool way to say BUTT.


Worrywart – a person who loves you SO MUCH that they constantly imagine all the terrible things that can happen to you in this world and panic about it. Try not to worry, Priya, most of the bad things that you worry about never happen and the awful things that do happen weren’t what you were expecting anyhow, so you’re still unprepared. My advice? Learn to laugh. Laugh at yourself and laugh at life. Laugh with love, though, don’t laugh at other people and hurt their feelings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Letters to Priya - Meet your Daddy

Dear Priya,

I have so much to tell you that it’s hard to know what to say first, but I think you need to know that life sucks and so do people.

You will get hurt and life isn’t fair and you will fail and you will basically never get what you want. People will lie to you, hurt your feelings and make you so angry you might bite them. Please don’t do this beyond age two, it’s really quite unacceptable but I totally get it. I may or may not have been a biter, too.

Your daddy will be so mean to you sometimes, you’ll want to scream. He will grumble and yell when he’s mad and he won’t always know how to talk to you, because you’re a girl. 

He farts a lot, honey. I mean – ask your mom…it’s bad. When you’re little you’ll think it’s hilarious but then it will totally embarrass you and quite possibly ruin your entire life because he totally won’t understand. Just be sure to ask for dance lessons, Priya, it’s the best revenge. Trust me. He won’t be able to say no and he’ll hate every second of it.

But your daddy split wide open when he met you. He croaked like a frog. They say ribbit. That’s what he does when he’s totally in love. He did it when he married your mom. He will teach you everything you never wanted to know about sports, and you need to pay attention even if you don’t like sports at all, because you will learn about teamwork. He will teach you respect and honesty and most importantly how to be fair.

Something else you should know about your daddy is that he knows how unfair life can be. He has had troubles in his life. He loves baseball and missed out on his last year to play it after a knee surgery. It changed his body, his friendships, and hardest to take – his expectations for himself. This means learning to roll with the punches.

He also lost something far worse than the chance to play baseball. In college he lost his best friend. Not lost like your homework that you don’t want to dig through your backpack for, lost forever. His friend was murdered, but we don’t need to tell you what that means just yet. All you need to know today is that it changed your daddy’s heart. He knows that life is fragile and that sometimes bad things happen to people even if they are big and strong and think they can protect themselves. 

This means you need to accept that your dad is always going to be the strictest dad in the whole world. It will be unfair and he won’t get it and your friends will ALL have nicer dads, but know this.

He loves you more than he knew it was possible to love.

That’s why he will be so terrible, awful, no good and very bad. Because it is his job to make sure you grow up into a strong, good, kind woman and he takes his jobs very seriously. And someday when you are old like we are now, you will know that everything you thought was terrible, awful, no good and very bad was actually pretty fucking awesome.

Love,
Auntie

Roll with the punches – this means that every time life doesn’t go your way, your job is to smile, laugh or cry – and then  move on.

Fucking – this is a terrible word that truck drivers and aunties use and you are not allowed to say it until you’re 18, except for one free pass that ought to be used at age two for maximum comedy impact. Auntie suggests you use it when you’re out in public with Mommy and Daddy.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Letters to Priya

Dear Priya,

You're a bitchalicious little diva already, aren't you?

I was trying to have a sleepover* with my friend Leslie and you totally screwed me out of a girls night. You wrecked my Sunday plans, too, also with friends. We'd been looking forward to it for ages, but don't worry about me. You kept me up until 4 AM and I haven't settled down since you arrived.



I'm going to tell you a secret, baby girl. I wasn't prepared to meet you.

See, I'm not well - that's why I talk funny - and I've had nightmares for months that the infections would overrun my system and I'd kick the bucket before you were fully baked. Given my certainty of my own impending demise, then, you can understand my shock. You came early and/or I didn't die!

And then....I held you.



My ovaries twerked**, my heart inflated like Goodyear*** and my eyeballs exploded. They were leaking for weeks (my eyeballs, not my ovaries), but you broke the main.  In fact, you broke a water main in your mommy's pants, too. Again with this diva nonsense.

So, I'm your auntie - the warm, squishy one who keeps kissing your nose. The bony pretty auntie is Reepal, but I'll just tell you now that I'm a better cuddler. It's the fat. You'll see soon, when your thighs chunk up and you wonder why we're all hugging you. 719 times a day.

I used to do things, baby Priya. I had a job and a car. And a fat cat (see above, re: cuddles). I even wrote a book.

Then I got sick and sad or sad and sick and I stopped writing.

I ran out of positive things to say, and Nana always told me that if I didn't have anything nice to say to keep my mouth shut. (Speaking of which, you should try keeping your perfect little mouth shut for a minute, huh? Give mommy a break for an hour or two?)

I've been hurting and hopeless and ready to summon Kevorkian lately. I have an infection in my body and in my brain and sometimes it makes it hard to see. Hard to see positively, and hard to see literally, but we'll discuss spontaneous blindness at a later date, perhaps over toffee**** when you're of age. Say, two?

All of this sad talk is merely to circle round to my point.

I guess I needed hope, Priya. I guess I needed some unabashed joy. I guess I needed a wild new love, and a place where I fit. I guess I needed a shot of happiness so pure that I got caught having a dance solo with the broom in the kitchen today.

You gave me everything I never knew I needed. I will give you my love, plus some glitter******.


Gimme back my heart,
Auntie Tricia



I have to start teaching you shit, so expect footnotes in all letters going forward.

*Sleepover - verb - a critical overnight event held semi-regularly to grout friendships

**Twerking - verb - a wildly popular and sexually aggressive dance move that involves gluteal seizures

***Goodyear - pop culture reference - a blimp, also known as a way to send a mass message that disappears in the prehistoric times before Snapchat

****Toffee - noun - coffee (as pronounced by your cousin Keya)

*****Glitter - family reference - we're big on jewels








Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Healthy: You're Doing it Wrong

So I wrote a literary masterpiece that won me a juicer. Pokey (my amazing acupuncturist) upgraded hers and offered her spare to the writer of the best poem. I wrote a rap about vomiting constantly and how juice would be easier to upchuck than food, and I was prepared to stutter-bust the rhymes on video if need be.

Of course I won.

I assembled it excitedly, envisioning a rosy healthy family toasting with our juice glasses before heading off to win a triathlon or at the very least a beer or bacon fun run.

Cukes from the farmers market. Spinach. Apples, carrots and pungent mint leaves. Beets and blueberries. Into the Breville it went and the girls shocked me by drinking green juice without being first strapped to a chair. I could practically feel our immune systems smiling.

Then we sat down to eat pizza and watch Big Brother 16 (which you can thankfully appreciate without seeing the first fifteen seasons).

This morning I juiced again. We experimented with different combinations and the girls even recorded their own custom recipes. At one point I caught myself sampling a blend and thinking it would be further enhanced by a shot of Grey Goose but then I remembered they are children and also it was eight AM.

Then the kids buried their pancakes in a veritable avalanche of Redi-Whip.

It's probably for the best that I didn't carry them and wasn't around during their critical formative years. I'm relieved that their limbs have already developed properly and I figure that their brains function to a level where if I stunt them at this point, they still have a shot in life.

I'll drink (juice) to that.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Message from the Lord

I open my eyes to four little girls proclaiming their starvation. Pancakes, debate, dishes, philosophy, two snacks, four loads of laundry.

My right hip and knee feel like someone is twisting knives inside them, and I can barely walk.

"Can we go to the park?" They ask.
"Sure!" 30 minutes of peace and quiet? Don't mind if I do.
They return six minutes later because Little fell off her bike and landed in a mud puddle.

Commence load five of laundry and make lunch. Spill entire box of macaroni noodles on floor. 
Sweep and curse.
More debate, town gossip, proclamation that Zac Efron isn't even hot, dishes.

"Can we go back to the park?" They ask
"Sure thing..." 30 minutes of peace and quiet? Don't mind if I do.
But wait! Somehow during the three and half minutes they weren't eating or shrieking, someone spilled a bottle of nail polish.

They spilled it on the carpet.
And the tile floor.
And the rug.
And the door.
And the counter.

And even on the motherloving cabinets
It was like Jackson Pollock vomited hot pink.

Then the cat vomited hot brown.

Which to clean first?

I went for the nail polish and let the cat nibble at her homemade delicacy.

After cleaning barf and nail polish and various other bodily fluids and hazardous materials, I sat down to take deep breaths. 

Reclaim my inner zen. And - you know - check Facebook. Where this was waiting for me:


Very funny, God. Very funny.



















Friday, August 1, 2014

I Did Math and Threw Up

My brother is an accountant by life and by trade. As a child, he lined toys up and counted them. He loves spreadsheets and knows his bank balance to the cent. His small motor skills suck and the only thing he can draw is a baseball diamond - stick figure style and horribly out of perspective.

I colored a lot. I can do a kabillion kinds of crafts but I regularly screw up anything involving numbers. Luckily my bank balance is always roughly nothing which is pretty easy to remember.

It turns out his accounting degree provides more stability than my talents with scrap paper and glue*.

Today I did math and threw up, which is my segue to the latest edition of My Life by the Numbers.

SIX - The number of antibiotic prescriptions I have to pick up today and add to my regimen.

A SHITLOAD - The number of pills those prescriptions will equal each day. Cheers to hoping I can keep them down.

24 - The number of times I've moved in my life, and I'm doing it again in a few weeks. God Almighty, I'm sick of moving. Let us now pray that my man loves me as much as I think he does.

TWO - The number of times I've thrown up today and also the number of naps I took yesterday. Not bad.

NINE - The number of pages in the Function Form I had to fill out today regarding my alleged medical condition.

ALMOST NONE - The number of times I've blogged - or written anything - lately. Mostly I'm too depressed and or busy barfing or playing with the helping parent the girls.

$3234 - This is the price of a migraine that has you blinded, vomiting blood and thinking you're going to die. Mama Bird dialed 911, the (allegedly hot) firefighters came and revived me, and now I have the bills. For that price I should have been able see them and they should have danced.

So, yeah.

I did that math and then I threw up. The two may not be unrelated.

I have to put down my checkbook and medical bills and do good math for a while. I still laugh 17** times per day and I know I'm lucky to be so loved.

Soon I get to be a Party of Ten. Just me, my guy, his two girls, the cat, two guinea pigs, two hermit crabs*** and our Potential Dog.

And soon after that, Herm will be born. I will have ONE niece or nephew or niece****. And even though I'll be Crazy Auntie Tricia,  we know the kid will have fun with me playing with scrap paper and glue. My brother can handle the math.



*Not hot glue. I always burn my finger.

**That's an estimate. I lose count after three or four.

***We never know. They always look dead until they decide to waddle around for a minute and a half.

****Not that I'm leaning toward a girl because I really want to buy ruffle-butt things.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Everybody Poops

The girls have wanted a dog for ages. Seriously - at least a year - which, in iPhone times, is equivalent to at
least three years. We spent a week up north and the resort owners have a dog.

All week we heard how great dogs are and what amazing dog owners they will be, so I decided to test them.

Enter Dozer.

Dozer is pretty much the best dog in the world. Calm, well-trained, doesn't bark, submissive.

The girls fell in love. Brushing him and throwing the ball, giving him treats and applauding his tricks. We went to the park, we went on walks.

Once a week here we have Poop Camp, which means cleaning the cat litter boxes and the guinea pig cage. We discussed family responsibilities, as they fought tooth and nail over who had to carry in the bag of guinea pig bedding. I pointed out that I don't even like their guinea pigs, but I help them clean that funky-ass cage every week.

"Then you can carry in the bedding," suggested one kid.

This was not how I imagined things. Instead I handed them plastic bags and began pointing out piles in the yard.

Much wheedling and bickering commenced. It was critical that the number of turds were fairly divided and negotiations turned tense. It went unnoticed that I matched them two turds to one. I even picked up the fresh warmies.

As they gagged dramatically, I reminded them that if we get a dog, this is something we get to do every single day. Steaming summer piles and frozen winter piles.

Suddenly their love for Dozer diminished and they changed the subject. "Let's go swimming!"


Dog Test Results: Epic Fail

I miss my imaginary future dog already.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Ode to SuperMoms

Let's go to the lake, I said.

Let's take the girls, I said.

It will be relaxing, I said.

As a singleton, going to the cabin meant laboriously packing the essentials: clothes, swimsuit, vodka.

As a pseudo step-monster, I've been packing for a week. An infinite number of tiny panties, bug spray, sunscreen, towels, goggles, books, puzzles, games, crafts and food. Oh - and a 79-piece first-aid kit that I expect to use in its entirety.

I made a detailed list of items each girl needed and told them to please go pack. When I came to check on them I was informed they had no clean underwear, their clothes don't fit and also, critically, does the cabin have wi-fi? Then the 11-year-old zipped the 9-year-old into a suitcase and called it a day.

We're at T-minus 48 hours and I'm fairly certain we're prepared. I have approximately two U-haul loads of shit packed. I just need to add the last minute items - food, meds, and the 412 items the girls will undoubtedly unpack tomorrow.

Yesterday I accompanied the girls and their mother to a dance competition. If you don't have a child in dance, let me explain: 800 squealing girls, 14 hours and all the glitter in the world. Seriously. There's a shortage now.

I marveled at how Autumn had come prepared for every conceivable issue - extra clothes, snacks, picnic lunch. She didn't even take Xanax (or if she did, she didn't tell me - or share.) She makes it look so simple. By the time we got home I was so exhausted I was seeing double and I slept until 2 PM today then spent the afternoon doing laundry and vomiting.

She? Got up this morning at 6 AM and went to work.

She is not human. She is SuperMom. And a kind one, at that. Normally Fridays are our night but she offered to take the girls so Paul and I could have date night tomorrow.

Date night will be amazing. We have reservations with the couch, party of two. I fully expect we'll both be sound asleep by 7 PM.

Because come Saturday? We're off to the lake...to relax.

I am not a SuperMom, or even a mom. I love those girls to the moon, but as I delve deeper into this world of parenting, I am constantly reminded that I will never, ever be as good at this as she is. Today I congratulated myself for finally figuring out how to tell their underwear apart - we just bought new ones and I marked them with a Sharpie. I was so proud of myself and it only took me a year to figure it out.

I just pray I can get through next week without causing irreparable damage to her two beautiful children.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What Could Go Wrong?

It's a sweet, sunny Friday in sweet, sunny Wisconsin.

This summer I'm helping watch my boyfriend's girls since he - you know - works. Both he and the girls' mom have full-time jobs and I don't, so I offered my dubious housewifely services. These consist of:

 - Refereeing and mediation
 - Spreading nutella and toasting bread (only the good bread)
 - Random somersaults with the girls
 - Cleaning various owies and praying no stitches are needed

Last night the girls called to ask if they could have friends over today.

Of course.


But then it hit me.

Four girls, ages 7-11...

Friday the 13th...

Full moon...

What could possibly go wrong!?

In 120 minutes we've choreographed and filmed four videos including American Idol auditions and a red carpet appearance, had two snacks and been to the park twice. It's 9:26 AM and so far there have been no casualties. I consider this a win.

Check back at 5:00 PM. I may be howling at the moon.
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