Anyway, this is how everything turned out.

After obsessively checking for views re-reading old blog entries last week, I came to realize that a lot happened during my unplanned anxiety hiatus that I probably would have told you about if I hadn’t been so busy lying on my couch watching TV shows about people with botched plastic surgery. So before I jump right back in with well-spun tales of my exotic life (TODAY I FOUND A CUP FILLED WITH MILK SO SPOILED THAT IT HAD BASICALLY BECOME SENTIENT CHEESE), I thought I’d take a moment to catch you up on a few things.

  • After months of complaining about it, we finally did something about the lack of tumbleweeds of fur against our baseboards and got ourselves a dog. Her name is Penny and her hobbies include eating and subsequently pooping out socks, cat wrestling, and aggro-snuggling.

    Penny Coco

    Okay, so this is not exactly the best picture of her? But I feel it is an accurate representation of her daily life, and also a tender depiction of cross-species love.

  • In the time it took me to scrape myself back together, Addie finished kindergarten and first grade, and this year will be submitting her thesis on the rise of the novel in 18th century literature (I think that’s what you do in the second grade, right?). She is also still a Girl Scout, and has even camped out overnight, while I still have a panic attack every time I have to turn on the iron.

    Rosie, meanwhile, has not aged at all, nor hit any major milestones other than becoming super obsessed with the concept of growing boobies, so she’s got a lot going on right now, too.

    Rosie Bbs

    Rosie has been freeing the nipple since before freeing the nipple was cool.

  • Spoiler alert – I never lost any weight, and I forgot all the Spanish I learned, and my skin is worse than ever, but I did finally break down and start getting my hair professionally colored, so at least now I look like a complete mess with highlights.

    Stupid Arty Selfie

    This is supposed to be a super art-y selfie? But honestly I just sort of look like an elderly relative is talking to me about the importance of flood insurance. There is an alternate version with my mouth slightly ajar, like you see sexy ladies doing on Instagram, but on me it’s less flirty and more mentally unhinged.

  • Wow, okay, is this really all that has happened to me in the course of like 16 months? I really thought there would be more than this. I was counting on a whole big list of like awesome accomplishments and shit, but I cannot think of a single other thing. BASICALLY TWO BABIES COULD HAVE BEEN BORN IN THIS TIME AND ALL I DID WAS GET A DOG AND WATCH MY KID PROGRESS NATURALLY THROUGH GRADE LEVELS OH MY GOD ADULTHOOD IS A DEATH TRAP.
  • The other night I had a dream that I was riding the bus with President Obama, and he had full sleeve tattoos on both forearms, and one of the forearms just said OBAMA in really big ornate letters, and I was like, wow, one would not have guessed that he had these sleeve tattoos.
  • Oh! I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! That’s a thing that is definitely cool that you probably didn’t get to do! So there! I’m still relevant!

Okay, so it turns out that you basically missed nothing. Now that we’re all caught up, I can move on to all of my latest and greatest exploits.  For the rest of 2017, it’s nothing but life-changing middle-aged-lady magic! I’m gonna climb some stuff! Maybe symbolically…burn something, I don’t know. I’m gonna impress the shit out of you with all my amazing life events!

I’m gonna start with some sleeve tattoos. Or maybe a nap.

The Sleep Summit

While Ben was out of town last week, the girls evidently held a secret conference. I don’t know where I was—maybe on my 100th milk run of the evening, waylaid in the kitchen by an over-affectionate Coconut, who, unbeknownst to me, was acting under orders. The conference took place in Addie’s room. In attendance: Addie, Rosie, Chris and Martin Kratt, and seven thousand Shopkins.

Addie: I feel like maybe Mom has gotten a little too comfortable around here.

Rosie: I don’t know, I mean, I feel like we’ve done a good job slowly eroding her spirit, right, Chris?

Chris Kratt: TO THE CREATURE RESCUE!

Addie: Yeah, during waking hours. But then there are all those sweet, sweet hours after we go to bed when she has control of the house.

Rosie: I thought Mommy was a robot that turned off after we went to bed.

Addie: I used to think so, too, but then, one night, when I thought I could come to the kitchen and help myself to some mini-muffins, guess who was standing there, completely not a robot, and took the muffins from me?

Rosie: [Gasps audibly.]

Addie: So I’m telling you, we’ve gotta hit her where it hurts.

Rosie: The boobies?

Addie: No, her bed, moron. But also her boobies.

Shopkins: [Lay on floor, saying nothing, preparing to stab Mommy in the foot as soon as she dares enter the room after dark.]

And so it came to pass that every night for the past week, Addie and Rosie have come to sleep in bed with me at some point during the evening. Addie will generally wake me up to inform me that she has arrived; when questioned, she makes up an elaborate story about a bad dream involving a spider and glowing green eyes out her window and sometimes killer unicorns, which is pretty badass, because those guys would make amazing impaling machines. Rosie, on the other hand, sneaks in using ninja-like skills, wedging herself between Addie and me until we form a capital H.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to undo this—I assume there is some parenting book about how to get your children to sleep in their own beds, but I’ve gotta believe that their method involves me waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night, and I would really rather just end up relegated to eight inches of mattress at the very edge of the bed than deal with that noise. I just keep telling myself that eventually they would be caught dead than spend their evenings snuggled up with their mama.

Even if their idea of “snuggling” is really just “sleep-punching me in my boobies.”

How to paint pottery: a step by step tutorial

This afternoon, I went pottery painting with my mom and cousin. I am generally leery of anything that involves artistic skill, but I was hopeful, after my recent forays into the art world with the 100 Days project and the Bottle of Fun that my skills would have improved since my last attempt.

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“Shitshow,” paint and glaze on ceramic, Kim Oja, 2012

I decided that an updated family portrait was in order, as Rosie constantly points to this masterpiece and shouts “MEEEE!” (which I guess means that she can at least vaguely recognize that the adults depicted are supposed to be Ben and me, so that’s something?). Things started out so promisingly:

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Look at those heads! So round and perfect! I honestly should have stopped here, called it a minimalist representation, and kicked back and played Best Fiends until my mom and cousin were done. But then I immediately proceeded to fuck it up by attempting to give us bodies:

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I knew even as I was doing it that my sleeves were a huge mistake. I should have just had everyone standing with their hands behind their backs, which is how I have drawn basically every person ever, because arms and hands are hard. Now, I look like a braless woman with huge boobs flopping off in opposite directions. But this is folk art! I will persevere!

Meanwhile, my mom and my cousin Katie were working on their perfectly legitimate pieces of art.

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But instead I pressed on. Since matching clothes were a theme in the original portrait, I proceeded to continue the thread here.

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Okay, I made the puff sleeves work on my outfit. Other than Ben’s massive drop crotch, this was all going very well. But then– DISASTER!

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It turns out glasses are not nearly as easy to paint onto a plate as one might think! So now the rest of us are just chilling out with Batman. At this point, the pottery painting staff confiscated my plate for about 20 minutes to attempt to undo the damage I had inflicted upon my poor, unsuspecting husband. (They were kind of snide about it, too, I wanted to be like, you know, you don’t know for certain that my husband isn’t actually Batman.)

By this point, I was becoming impatient. Katie and my mom had turned in masterpieces:

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And I was waiting for the staff to attempt to salvage the remains of my Batman family portrait. When they brought it back to me with the top half of Ben’s head obliterated, I gritted my teeth and dove back in. Who needs shoes? We will rock bare feet rendered lovingly in the exact shape of baked potatoes! Hair is an abstract concept! Slap some retro typewriter stamps on that baby for added kitsch effect and call it good!

Finally, my masterpiece was complete.

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I feel like I did an excellent job of capturing the true personality and aesthetic of my children.

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Nailed it.

And in my opinion, the piece de resistance here is the cat, which I added only after Katie pointed out that my children would be super pissed if she wasn’t there. I tried using a stamp to just add in a rudimentary cat shape, but it came out as a black blob, and so I had no choice but to attempt to freehand this beauty.

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We had to leave our pottery behind to be glazed and fired, and, in my case, laughed at and mocked incessantly, and probably put up on several Pinterest Fail boards. We won’t see the finished products until Friday, but I’m assuming it’s not really going to help mine any, unless they glaze it so heavily that you can’t actually see the design underneath. But when it comes home, I will still hang it proudly next to our original family portrait, where it can be admired for all eternity until we put our house on the market some day in the future and the realtor demands I take it down because it’s scaring away potential clients.

My acceptance speech

Wow. I mean– wow. I really didn’t think I had a shot at winning the award for Grossest Night of 2016. Just– wow, thank you. Thank you so much.

But you know, I couldn’t have done this by myself. No, no, I mean that. So many things had to come together for this to happen.

First, I’d like to thank my phone, for allowing me to somehow time travel to 2 am without actually accomplishing anything. I don’t even know how you do it– I just agreed to play a round of Best Fiends and then check Facebook, and suddenly I was buying a cat litter pan on Kickstarter and reading an article about the rise of the authoritarian in American politics and it was four hours past my bedtime. You’re amazing. A treasure. Thank you.

And Rosie? I definitely couldn’t have done this without your sudden and violent Exorcist-inspired vomiting an hour after finally shutting off my brain. Coating your entire crib with a thin layer of raspberry seeds and congealed chocolate ice cream was inspired, but it was your geyser-like eruption in my bed that really took it to the next level.

Thanks to my sleep-deprived brain, who thought it would be a good plan to just throw a blanket over the vomit and move to the other side of the bed, so I could find it in the morning. I especially enjoyed finding this debacle when I woke for good three hours later, because nothing says good morning! like dried, crusty vomit pasted to your sheet under a fuzzy blanket.

Major props to Coconut, who took it upon herself to burrow under said blanket and roll around in the dregs of Rosie’s mess, and then curl up peacefully to sleep on my pillow. Your contribution cannot be overlooked.

And of course, my undying gratitude to the hose on our utility sink. You only have one speed– out of control hydrant– and it was your wily escape from my grasp that sent water and vomit chunks flying around the entire basement and into my hair and possibly my mouth, but I’m not willing to accept that that really happened.

Thank you to my stupid plan to drop Addie off at school rather than just take her to the sitter to catch the bus, and thanks especially to Addie, for failing to remind me that her snow gear was still at the sitter’s until we had just pulled to the front of the drop-off line.

Thank you to the woman at the front desk of Addie’s school who couldn’t conceal her disgust for my vomit hair, which I had forgotten about, because why would it have occurred to me that I might actually have to leave my car?

There’s just something so special about when sleep-deprivation and vomit come together, and last night, we made magic. Even now, after the sheets and the blankets and the duvets and the cat and the basement walls are all washed and clean, I can still smell the sweet tang of success.

It smells like curdled milk.

Addie Oja: YouTube Sensation

It is completely natural, as a first-time parent, to assume that you will not fall into the same traps as every parent to ever come before you. Sure, it seems like everyone else’s kid only eats chicken nuggets and hot dogs, but your kid will be different– your kid will eat off the adult menu at a sushi restaurant and everyone will be like, “my goodness, what a little champion among men! You are clearly the greatest parent of all time– I DEMAND you write a book with all your secrets,” and you will laugh and say “oh, no, there’s no secret, we just don’t offer any other food options– we make this child fit into our lives, not the other way around.” And then everyone will applaud, and you will probably win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Or, more likely, your child will stage a hunger strike that goes on for days, and your only options become mac and cheese or death. And it’s not even going to be the good mac and cheese, it’s going to be shaped like Spongebob Squarepants and colored florescent orange.

I think new parents face this dilemma on a daily basis– this one, or any number of others like it. YOUR child will only read classic literature from a very young age, and will already have the entire Harry Potter series under her belt by the third grade (most of which she read by herself, because she’s also a genius). Never mind that right now, MY child will only read one book– something called “Biscuit Makes a Friend”– over and over and over again. One day she may also put her clothes in the hamper without being threatened with amputation, or make it through a trip to the grocery store without imploding when I won’t buy her a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles snack saver. But that day is not today.

No, today was the day I helped her make her first egg surprise video.

If you are a parent and have somehow avoided these up to this point, then congratulations– you really SHOULD write a book with all your secrets (unless your secret is “Don’t let your kid play with the computer,” in which case I will just be ignoring your advice outright). But if you’re anything like me, you were powerless to stop the creep of these videos into your every day life.

The premise is eerily simple– someone, usually a grown-up who probably never has sex with anyone ever, presents a series of plastic Easter eggs to the camera. And then opens them. And there are toys inside. And then we gawk at the toys. And that’s it.

It is really, really creepy.

Of course, there are more variations than just that– sometimes, the eggs are hidden inside inflated balloons, so there’s also the delightful treat of hearing balloons popped before you get to the big toy reveal. Or sometimes, they’re in a kiddie pool, and the star of the video has to go wading for them. Sometimes, the star is just a disembodied, vaguely Asian female voice with a fancy manicure. Sometimes, it’s a man in a really shitty Spiderman costume.

And sometimes, it’s my five-year-old daughter.

To be fair, Addie has moved on to a different, slightly less creepy iteration of the egg surprise video– it’s an offshoot of the genre in which people watch as you build Lego sets. Addie had a pet hospital she wanted to show off to the world, so she disassembled it before even asking if I’d be willing to act as videographer in this scheme. I readily accepted, as it was a family activity we could do together that allowed me to just sit very still and make no noise, so we staged the set in our dining room, and Addie made the magic happen.

As I was filming, I took a moment to appreciate how much work must actually go into these egg surprise videos. Most of the other videos, for instance, didn’t have a backdrop of sun-faded school art, or a cat that appeared halfway through and started eating out of a discarded yogurt container, or a baby intent of providing her own DVD voice-over narration. They also starred narrators who actually knew how to assemble the Lego project in question, and they did not end with a completely unrelated set piece about something called Fart Goo.

The finished product was a triptych of videos so flawless in their amateurish nature that I am certain that we are going to be a write-in for the best film short category at the Oscars this year. When the accolades come rolling in, I fully expect my name to be up there with Scorsese, Spielberg, and the guy who directed Sharknado. 

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You gotta stick it out for the big fart goo finale

From what I understand, people are making millions of dollars a year creating and starring in these egg surprise videos, but I don’t think Addie is going to be one of them, at least not yet. It’s not exactly the life path I would have chosen for her, but I like to let my children spread their wings wide like eagles, and soar through life at their own altitude.

I also almost exclusively feed them dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and raspberries for every meal, so I might not be the best judge of these sorts of things.

Killer Coconut

While the rest of the nation prepares for the biggest sporting event of the year, we Ojas are gearing up for a more insidious battle: humans versus cat.

This is our cat, Coconut. She wants us dead.

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I’m not really sure why. We treat her really well. She eats Iams cat food, which is probably of better quality than like 60% of what I feed my kids. I run the sink for her each morning so that she can drink fresh water, and I even let her sleep under the covers, even though she is a champion farter.

But for whatever reason, she is hell-bent on our destruction. Sometimes she’ll be subtle about it, weaving in and out of our feet as we climb the stairs to the basement, acting all shocked when we squawk in protest as we almost tumble to our deaths– “OMG, my bad, I didn’t see you there even though you are 40 times my size! Share the road, asshole!” But sometimes, she doesn’t even try to hide her intent from us. The other day, I watched in horror (and by horror I actually mean “really wished I’d gotten this on video because it was so funny) as Coconut charged an unassuming Rosie as she strolled through the kitchen, delivering a flying kick to her midsection and knocking her to the ground. I swear, she stood over Rosie for a good few seconds before scampering off, looking exactly like that famous picture of Muhammad Ali, but if Ali were a tiny cat and Liston were a pantsless baby flailing around on his back like an overturned turtle.

I really wish I could figure out why she insists on doing this. Maybe she spent too long terrorizing this Wild Kratts playset and developed a taste for human blood.

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The one guy left standing is like “YES… LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU.”

Or it could have something to do with the fact that Rosie insists on carrying her around like this:

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But whatever the reason (spoiler alert: it’s the “being carried by the neck” reason), we now live in a constant state of readiness for Coconut attacks. Everyone knows not to walk in bare feet within eight inches of a piece of furniture under which a cat could be lurking. Ben and I are working on toughening up our leg skin to better withstand the constant attempts to climb us like water towers, and I’m considering equipping Rosie with airbags. We also have to keep all beverages above eye level, as Coconut will make every attempt to poison any cup she can fit her head into (I caught her drinking leftover whiskey this morning like a boss).

One would think that it would be an easy decision to get rid of a cat that was clearly trying to wipe you out of existence, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. When not attempting to kill us, Coconut is actually quite delightful– a loud and generous purr-er, she is all about cuddling down for the night while you read or watch a movie (but she will FUCK YOU UP if you try to cross stitch, because she HATES DIY). Plus, she has the distinction of being our first cat after the awesomely-named but ultimately deeply unsatisfying Yoko Oja, who lived under our bed for five days before making a break for it and (I’m assuming) almost immediately being devoured by coyotes. So it’s not hard to earn the love of a family whose last cat hated them so much that it chose certain death over spending time with them.

So we’re keeping her. I am well aware that it is not wise to bed down with a pet who spends most of her time staring at me as I sleep and thinking “soon.” But I also know that she makes a killer snuggling partner, and if I’m going to die, I’d rather do it with the sound of helicopter purring in my ears.