The Time My Mother Tried To Start a Zoo

It began very innocently, in the way that these things do; my family had two children, a cat and a dog. A reasonable collection of small beings. But then a Petsmart opened in our city, and suddenly exotic animals that my sister and I had never heard of before, let alone seen, were on display.

This was how my family ended up with a skink. For those of you who have no idea what a skink is, you’re not missing out on much. It’s a lizard, it moves little and doesn’t cuddle at all.


You know the saying “More fun than a barrel of monkeys”? picture the opposite of that and you have this pet. Also my sister’s skink was not this fat. It was hypothesized that the lizard was terminally depressed and consequently wouldn’t eat much, but we had no way of knowing this because again, it was a skink. (Photo Credit:

However it was my sister’s pet and she enjoyed it. My mother spent my childhood encouraging my sister and I to hold scaly creatures whenever an opportunity presented itself, so she was quite pleased with the new acquisition. My father, by contrast, was indifferent to the skink but he recognized that it made my sister happy, so he tolerated the reptile.

Lizards, like all creatures, must be fed regularly. Tragically they don’t eat normal things from the corner store, like kibble. Happily, this reptile ate crickets. I’m not sure how I would have felt about a pet that ate baby mice. I would have worried about it escaping and mistaking my ear for a tiny rodent in the middle of the night.

Anyway the next week, back to Petsmart we went in search of crickets to feed the skink. This was where I saw a kitten. A lovely black kitten that purred and just wanted to be cuddled. My sister and I begged, pleaded and convinced my mom that it was only fair that I get a pet given that my sister had gotten a scale-covered, cricket munching paperweight.

“A kitten is different from a lizard” my mother argued, she turned to my sister “Are you sure you won’t be jealous?”

“No. No!” we cried, “It’s perfectly fair!”

That night, for the first and only time in our lives, we met our father at the door when he arrived home from work. “How was your day?” my sister and I asked sweetly. “What did you do?” my Dad immediately sensed something was up. Then Splat our new kitten slunk around the corner. “You got a cat” he said flatly.

All in all, my Dad took the new addition well, probably because he didn’t realize this cat’s penis was going to cost him two grand a decade later. (In case you missed it, I wrote about saving a cat’s genitals in “The 2,000 Dollar Cat Penis” it remains the most heroic act of my life and probably would have been the most questionable expense on my Dad’s credit card if vets itemized their procedures, rather than lumping them under the company name.)

The next night, as predicted, my sister was in tears, “Unwashed got a kitten and all I got was a skink” she cried. Back to Petsmart we went where we picked up the kitten’s brother who was still up for adoption. Ever the peace keeper and having never been a lizard lover, my father understood this decision and took it in stride.

But the skink lived on, and thus the next week, back to Petsmart, my mother, sister and I went, in search of more crickets for the once beloved but now essentially ignored reptile. Because Petsmart with all of it’s animals and new products was less of an errand and more of an outing, once again the three of us stopped by the adoption centre where they had cats and dogs. Before approaching the aisle, my mother turned to us “Just so you know, we’re not getting another cat this time.”

That was when my mother saw him. It was less of a dog and  more of a horse, a fully grown St Bernard lying on it’s side placidly while a toddler crawled all over it, sticking his baby fingers into the dog’s eyes and nose. The well trained dog didn’t move, it didn’t even growl, it only looked up at us helplessly as if to ask “Please do something but I understand if you are too busy”.

“I want that dog” my mother said, which wasn’t surprising, as a teenager she had loved and ridden horses and it was easy to confuse the two species given the canine’s size.


Add some long fur and a squirming toddler and you have that docile St Bernard. (Photo Credit:

“That is the most perfect, well behaved dog I’ve ever seen” she said, still staring at the toddler’s two hundred and fifty pound fur playground. We continued on down the aisle to procure crickets for my sister’s dull, sun lamp loving pet and while we walked, my mother reasoned aloud why she should or shouldn’t buy the dog. None of her reasons included the pools of drool the breed produces or the sheer quantity of food it would need, or the exercise it would require, it all boiled down to the number of animals and small creatures we already had in the house. By the time we walked towards the cash register, my mother had talked herself out of it.

But the dog had moved from the adoption center, clearly the store was trying the hard sell, impulse buy technique, by placing him right next to the exit. “Buy a small cat toy and a St Bernard on your way out” the product placement silently screamed at us.

“I need that dog” my mother was back to the edge of indecision, my sister and I realized that we were one encouraging statement away from sharing the back seat of the minivan with a furry horse.

My mother gazed at the animal longingly with warmth “I would be in so much trouble”.

As much as I wanted to ride the well behaved canine to school, and snuggle next to the furry giant at night, I could picture my Dad’s reaction and the new rule that only he could buy crickets. “I don’t think Dad would be happy” I said.

As it was, describing my family’s pet situation was a bit of a joke for a long time: “We have three cats, a dog and a skink.” After one of the cats and our beloved golden retreiver died, (The skink supposedly died too but it was difficult to tell, as it never moved much in the first place) my friend admitted to me that my family’s house always smelled vaugely like a zoo. I can only imagine how a over-sized St Bernard would have added to that. That being said, whenever the story is told, my mother sighs dramatically and remarks about her regret of not coming home with the St Bernard.

Happy Birthday Mom, I hope you get something as wonderful and lovable as the St Bernard that got away.


Taking Shots with Half Naked Men in Public

Wow, that title makes my life sound excessively sexy and exciting. Also possibly like a frat party. I should clarify; the shot in question was a flu vaccine. However, the half-naked man was NOT my husband and I did get in a bit of trouble for it.

Tex is all about prenatal care which was how I found myself at a flu vaccination clinic the other week. Normally I don’t patronize those types of places but not because I agree with Jenny McCarthy,


No one should agree with this woman, she has a high school education, it’s like asking the kid serving you fries at McDonald’s how one should treat melanoma and then being surprised when the only suggestion offered is “More salt?” (Photo Credit :

more because I am a first rate wimp. The world’s greatest wuss. More cowardly than the cowardly lion when it comes to needles or any item being stuck into my skin, this is unfortunate because pregnant women either receive needles or are poked with needles every other day it seems.


I’m with you buddy, the world is a terrifying place, now hold still so I can use you as a shield to save myself from that phlebotomist. (Photo Credit:

Previously, if forced to get a needle for any reason, I would situate myself next to a tearful looking toddler, shore up my courage and say to myself “I am braver than a two year old”. It works, sort of; course the whole process is far more effective if I excuse myself to perform muscle poses in the bathroom mirror beforehand.


Arnold once made a needle cry, that’s how tough he is and thus, by virtue of flexing my bicep, I am therefore equally hardy and brave. (Photo Credit:

So there I was waiting with a bunch of people whose spouses probably told them they were going out for fro-yo but ended up in a line to be responsible citizens instead, when suddenly there was no line. “You go first” I said to Tex. I may or may not have shoved my sweet husband towards the nearest, unoccupied registered nurse.

“You don’t need to wait, I’m free over here!” A cheerful, well-dressed woman called to me. My time had come, and there was no child around to compare myself to, all I had was a quickly growing ball of fear and panic. That was when the construction worker at the next station over started stripping. I was so distracted by the sudden appearance of a whole lot of skin that I sat down next to the nurse without any encouragement.

“Is he going to take it all off?” I asked the nurse. “Oh no, we tell them that we just need access to an arm but some guys just remove their shirts.” It wasn’t a toddler with a quivering lip, but it would do. I focused all of my attention on the construction worker’s bare back while the nurse tried to make small talk. “So how far along are you? Who did you come with?”

“Seven months and my husband, coming here was his idea- I wanted pop tarts sprinkled over frozen vanilla yogurt” I answered, still staring at the man’s back trying to imagine a circumstance where I would knowingly strip in public as opposed to all the times where I accidentally flashed the elders in church.

“Avert your eyes!” the nurse chastened me “You’re a married woman!” She said this while wielding a needle that she was about to plunge into my unsuspecting shoulder so I continued to focus all my attention on the impromptu Chippendale while explaining that I was the world’s largest suck and it was serving as my distraction.

The man stood to get dressed at the same as the nurse stuck a band aid to my arm. As he dressed and I followed Tex to the exit, I said a silent word of thanks for random half naked men. I’m fairly sure that doesn’t count as adultery, only wimpery.

Your Pregnancy Week By week

Week 1

Nothing has happened yet. However this still counts as week 1. It’s a little baffling, but treat it like the FREE space on a BINGO card- say thank you and don’t ask questions because it’s going to get a lot more memorable real fast.

Week 2

You ovulate this week, you also go on a trip to see a friend and drink two and a half glasses of wine. You will feel guilty about this indulgence, possibly forever. You also walk twenty kilometers while sight-seeing with said friend. Just like the booze, get ready to kiss all of that activity goodbye.

Week 3

Again, kind of like week one, take it as a gift.

Week 4

Hurrah! You are late. But a pregnancy test reveals that you are NOT pregnant. You sulk by having a glass of wine with a friend. You thought you felt guilty about the other glasses of alcohol? This one will haunt you for at least a year.

Week 5

Your spouse claims that you have been more moody and unpredictable of late and points out that the Party Crasher has still not arrived. You respond by stating that your behavior has been perfectly reasonable and to emphasize your point, punt the kitchen strainer across the apartment. He offers to take you out for ice cream, you accept graciously by gnawing on his arm. The pregnancy test that you pick up on the way home is positive. You apologize to the kitchen strainer for kicking it.

Week 6

There is no recollection of this week- you are asleep.

Week 7

See above. Although your partner claims that during this week, you woke him up in the middle of the night, completely hysterical because you hadn’t thrown up yet and you heard somewhere possibly from the Howard Stern show, possibly from your mother that nausea is associated with smarter babies. Regardless, it was an extremely reliable resource and you were inconsolable.

Week 8

On Sunday, you decide to change up your worship habits, instead of praying, you puke in Jesus’ garden, but it’s ok, the Lord appreciates all of our gifts. You’d feel mortified about your actions if you hadn’t of fallen asleep five minutes afterwards. Your spouse for some reason is relieved.

Week 9

Special Discovery: You read the “What happens to your lady parts” section of the pregnancy book. It’s like the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan but for genitals. You spend the next week cheering up your WooHoo to assure it of its continued role in your life; “Vagina no matter what happens after the baby and I split; I will still love you.” Luckily vaginas can’t read so it has no idea what’s in store for it, which is probably a good thing.

Week 10

The exhaustion continues. At work, during lunch while you are quietly eating your sandwich and trying not to fall asleep mid-bite, Sheila from accounting asks “Wow, do you feel as tired as you look?”


To Sheila


I hate you

From Unwashed

Also, yes.

Stay tuned for weeks 11 to 40. Spoiler alert! There is a lot more vomit in your future.

The Chocolate Wars

Left to my own devices, I would be one of those people featured on TLC’s “My Six Hundred Pound Life”, I’d also have gestational diabetes and my tiny fetus would be a peep.

"Congratulations, it's a .....yellow chick?" (Photo Credit :

“Congratulations, it’s a …..yellow chick?” (Photo Credit :

This is how dangerous my sweet tooth is. It’s so deadly that it’s less a sweet tooth and more of a glucose-hungry, sweet fang.

To combat this need for all things made of high fructose corn syrup, I used to eschew all yummy items at the grocery store. If it tasted good, it couldn’t be found in my pantry because then I would eat it. All of it. I may be small but don’t doubt my ability to consume a 140 piece sampler palate of Russell Stover’s finest by myself in one sitting.

Who am I kidding? I wouldn't even need to sit down to finish this box. (Photo Credit : bostonmagazine,com)

Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t even need to sit down to finish this box. (Photo Credit : bostonmagazine,com)

This system worked well until I moved in with my husband.

Tex is blessed with the kind of metabolism that allows him to eat an entire pizza, a family size bag of Oreos and still have room for supper while still fitting into his Wrangler jeans. Thus my habit of not having junk at home quickly fell by the wayside. At the same time, Tex discovered that while I would happily hand over seven eighths of a pizza to him, if he turned his back for even one moment, all his cookies would have mysteriously disappeared.

So began the chocolate and cookie wars. The last battle ended with the key to the gun cabinet, where the cookies and all delicious goods have been stored for months, being locked in its own lock box after there was an Unwashed break-in to the gun cabinet during a frantic, late-night search for Mr. Christie’s best.

Not surprisingly, Tex was concerned about Halloween. Being an engineer, he likes to be prepared, so we had purchased the necessary candy a couple of days in advance.

Tex “I’m keeping the candy in the car, there isn’t enough room in the gun cabinet for all of it. Is it going to be safe here?”

Unwashed “Mmmphes?”

Tex “How did you manage to open one of the boxes and eat some already?”

The answer- I’m a chocolate ninja. I further proved this the next day when I got up early and decided to have Snickers for breakfast, so I grabbed my car keys and trundled outside. Tex figured out something was up because the door was unlocked when he woke up. This led to my car keys being confiscated until after Halloween.

The next morning I got up, again hankering for a sugary hit, but without car keys. Tex is both intelligent and devious; there were any number of places he could have put my car keys, however he is also an engineer which means there is exactly one place where he would have put his keys.

At ten to six on Saturday morning, I snuck silently into the bedroom and stole Tex’s keys out of his jean pockets. Then I quickly made my way out to the car and snaffled chocolate to my heart’s content. After sneaking his keys back into his jeans, I locked the door to cover my tracks, but was later busted when Tex spotted the wrappers in the trash.

Regardless, I believe I won this particular battle.