Today’s trending twitter hashtag (at least on my feed): #firstsevenjobs

I’ve never been a pig farmer. Or an arborist. Or a ninja spy. My job history has been a little more . . . unremarkable.

  1. Babysitter  (AKA: child wrangler and entertainment specialist, AKA: poop removalist)
  2. Medical Transcriptionist  (AKA: listening magician)
  3. Piano Teacher  (AKA: ADHD focus-er)
  4. Secretary in the Computer Science Dept.  (AKA: nerd monkey)
  5. Secretary and T.A. in the Fine Arts Dept.  (AKA: Excel slave, with benefits)
  6. Director of a political lobbying non-profit.  (AKA: volunteer professional eye-roller)
  7. Orchestra Conductor  (AKA: unpaid comedic arm-waving jam captain)


Now, I’m a writer. (AKA: stretchy pants wearing crazy lady). But guess what, that means I get to take that list and turn my unremarkable job history into a feast for the senses!

*Side note: LONG POST. If you don’t care, don’t read. Scrollllllll to the next post about the time I forgot Easter and confused my children. Maybe someday my kids will forgive that day and read this.


Poop. Lots of poop.

Diapers, dog poop, clogged and overflowing toilets. A kid’s pet lizard pooped in my hand once. Then there was the time I was changing a diaper on a kid much too old for diapers and he sharted. On me. That was super fun. Mac n’ cheese will never be the same. Especially after the time I thought I added butter, but it was deceptively packaged Crisco. I’d never felt so judged, and by an 11 year old, no less. There was also the time I locked myself in a bathroom because a 9 year old was coming at me with a knife. He says he was joking. I sure as hell wasn’t sure.

But there were also giggles. And sweet forts. And preschooler dance parties (the best kind of dance party). There were theatrical productions from the dining room stage and borderline inappropriate hilarious I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I battles. And art projects. Lots of art projects.

At 16, I got a “real” job.

I did medical transcription at a Physical therapy office. Too many opinionated females in a small space (the front office). Drama, Drama, Drama. I focused on my job: old head-set, dictation pedal at my foot, listening to the stereo sounds of therapists rattling of strange medical terms in long sentences that they’re so used to rattling off it all sounds like one big long 37 syllable word. But I took anatomy that semester and figured it out. It was easier than figuring out the three ladies in the desks behind me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked each of them very much. Individually.

The biggest obstacle to getting those audio transcriptions typed out was the fact that the owner (and lead therapist, also a family friend) dictated during his lunch break. I got a lot of apple crunching sounds in there.

For some reason, when I think back on that job, the thing I remember the most was a pair of shoes I wore for just one day. They were made of either foam or wood pulp, I couldn’t really tell. I know that makes no sense at all, but that’s why it was so flabbergasting. What is this material!?

But that was high school, and I got depressed. That was my dark period. And I quit. Even though it wasn’t the job that was making me depressed.

The best paid gig.

Then, my longest standing job, which I come back to frequently ad still do to this day. Piano teacher. Teaching kids a skill that I hold near and dear to my heart helped pull me from depression. How can you be depressed when a perfectly innocent second grader finally gets that measure and pops up to you with the biggest smile, beaming with pride? You can’t. Joy is infectious. I did that through high school and into college. Highest per hour pay school gig out there, ladies and gentlemen.

I married my best friend (the man of my every dream), and sugar-momma’d our way through another year of college with nearly 40 students on my plate. But that didn’t last long. Because the best adventure ever happened.

The hubs got recruited to play basketball at BYU-Hawai’i. Hawai’i!! Who goes to college in Hawai’i!?

(There was the one day I worked as an elementary school aide, but it only lasted a day. So I’m not going to count that. Even though I still get a letter every year from the State of Hawai’i informing me of the $1.42 I earned towards retirement.)

Nerd monkey

My first Hawai’i campus job was as the Administrative Assistant to the Computer and Information Sciences department. Those guys were cool. Super weird, but cool. I had to figure out how to communicate with computer nerds. And accounting. Because the main secretary over the entire “Business and Computing” college apparently wasn’t detailed enough in her budget reports. We both rolled our eyes over that one. No, no, the computer guys wanted details. From every angle. I became intimate with Excel. But at least I had my own office with a plaque at the door.

One professor had canned refried beans every day for lunch. (I’m implying something here for you, dear readers.) At least his office was down the hall a little ways. Man, those guys were quirky. But endearing. I wanted to pull my hair out on a weekly basis, but I loved ’em.

Excel master/slave.

The university was making huge changes. Business and Computing got a little too political for me. So, I transferred to the Fine Arts department; I was a music major after all. I mean, this was my chance to work for my professors! Oh the things I could learn! Oh the brownie points I could earn!

When their head secretary found out I’d been doing the computer nerds’ budget, she about cried. It was her least favorite part of the job. I’m a perfectionist and I saw the Fine Art’s budget disaster and just couldn’t say no. So instead of taking it easy at a quiet front desk a few hours a week, I was back to accounting.

I’d been intimate with Excel before, but now I was reprogramming that thing into submission. I dominated Excel. And a few of my professors might have hated me for it. “Professor So-And-So? That such-and-such you need for the studio? Well, um, you don’t exactly have the money for it. Maybe you could ask for a transfer of travel funds into your supply fund? But you’d have to adjust your upcoming trip.”  I mean, I was a super obnoxious student getting waaay in the way. “Just doin’ what I’m told.”

Me: “Don’t forget I need all of your receipts!”
Every professor in the department: “I can’t find it.”
Me: “… I’m going to need you to fill out this form…”

Super fun, guys. I was every professor’s dream. Wah-waaahhh. 

But that was the first year in over a decade they actually knew how much money they’d spent before the next year’s audit. So there’s that.

A nice change-up!

Because of my course of study, there was one particular music professor I’d had for most of my music classes. Dr. B. And he was awesome. And just my luck, he needed a T.A. My job got better after that. And I was back to teaching music, which I missed desperately. (Teaching music … grading assignments … okay, lots of making copies, but it was a break from budget!! And I got to tutor!)

One day, while working on a piece for Dr. B.’s composition class, I just couldn’t concentrate. I daydreamed my way into procrastinating that composition and instead typed out the beginning of a little story about a high school girl with incredible, magical underwater abilities. I took a creative writing elective the next semester and worked on it some more.

The hubs and I had our first daughter, we both graduated, and sadly, had to leave. As much as we’d missed our families back on the mainland, we both weren’t ready to say Aloha to the island.

Aloha O’e

Back on the mainland, I was a new mom times two and a grad student. But I got back into teaching piano. There was the time a student of mine (after finding out I was pregnant) creepily told me, “Wait, wait, wait . . . you did it? The S-sssssss word?”  I’m pretty sure he had Asbergers. It was a very interesting, delicate conversation.

I went through a few more dark periods. One with each pregnancy. But that’s a conversation for another day. And I’m a stronger woman because of it.

And then the best thing happened!

It was 9:30 pm and I had a big paper due at midnight for my master’s program. But I really didn’t want to write it. Like, really. I noticed an icon on my desktop for that mermaid-ish story I’d worked on in college. I pulled “Haelo.docx” up instead. Because, you know, priorities.

At 11:00pm, I forced myself to shut down my creative pursuits, and got back to work on that stupid grad paper. I think I got it submitted at 11:58pm. It wasn’t very polished, but it got an A. Haelo got a lot more attention after that. Though I did graduate with honors, I’m pretty sure I had candeons on my mind for most of that Public Administration degree.


After graduation, I decided to step lightly into the local political world. I had a goal of becoming a political advisor or speech writer for a senator or diplomat, but knew that was years down the road. I somehow ended up as a non-profit lobbying Director. I still don’t know how that happened. I was sitting, rather quietly, at a Christmas brunch for the organization, minding my own business, sitting in awe of these incredible women, and walked away with an invitation to take over a particular chapter. They didn’t know me from Adam. I think they were crazy. Or desperate. It took me a few months to accept.

I wasn’t ready for that post. Technically, I think I’m still in that post, because my attempts at passing the torch haven’t been successful. I can’t say no. I really need to work on that. But I don’t trust myself to not roll my eyes in a very inconvenient moment at an important meeting one day. Even state Congressmen and women I’m supposed to support have jaded me. There’s a lot of crap in politics. Speech writing would be fun. Dealing with multiple politicians at once is not fun. Ever.

I’m surprisingly diplomatic. Very careful with my words. But a little voice in my head is starting to get feisty, and I’ve got to get out.

Jam sesh.

My sister recently wrangled me into starting a community orchestra. This is the absolute funnest job I’ve had. The music is a blast, the musicians are fun, and they laugh at my jokes. It feels like a huge jam session mixed with dancing, because you can’t direct some of those pieces without a little bit of dancing. It’s just too fun. At the same time, I’m a thrifty tight-wad and can’t afford huge symphonic sets of sheet music. So I buy the parts for strings and arranged the parts for brass and woodwinds myself. It’s stressful, and takes up time I don’t really have, but it’s keeping my composition skills from wasting away into “something I used to know how to do.”

We’re currently working on an Appalachian backstep, a Lady Gaga jam, a bit o’ Disney, the get-up-and-shout “I Will Follow Him” from Sister Act, Debussy (Satie’s Gymnopedies), and . . . The. Tango. <– the funnest thing I’ve ever jammed on in my life, and that includes my time in a hella-awesome Caribbean steel pan band. (Youtube video)

Now I’m a writer.

And the best part is that I don’t feel like a poser admitting that! It is an incredible creative outlet for a busy mother of three. That little story I started in college, worked on as a grad student, and finished in whatever meager spare time I had inbetween potty-training, dinners, and church service, is PUBLISHED! And I want to scream into a pillow at how good that feels!


A milestone! After so many nights of feeling exhausted. So many mornings waking up knowing I was farther behind than I was the day before. Too much, too many, too little, too late. But then, I remember my favorite quote.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” – Gina Carey

Life is funny sometimes. I’m going to look back on this post ten years from now, with more jobs added to the list, and smile. I have no idea where life is taking me. But I’ve got a best friend / husband / co-parent dreamboat at my side, three incredible kids, a strong spiritual foundation, and just enough gumption to march forward with a wink.

Laugh, guys. Laugh when you think you can’t. Collect your experiences. And wink. Because there’s more comin’ down the road.

And if you want to check out my author website, where you can read the first chapter of Hiding Haelo, you can do that here. And here is a link to Hiding Haelo on Amazon.

Pee-Pants. A horror story.


PEE-PANTS Horror StoryIn case you were wondering what I mean by said “pee-pants,” we’re speaking of toddler/kid night time pull-ups. And, dear readers, PULLS-UPS ARE THE KINGS OF THE NECESSARY EVILS.

They’re disposable (yay!) and suspiciously expensive (boo.)

They’re easy for kids to pull on (yay!) except every 3rd time, when they rip up the side (boo) and render themselves useless. Unless you’re a parent willing to use duct tape. No comment.

They’re everywhere & always within reach (yay!) until it’s two hours past your adorable hellion’s bedtime and you discover you’re all out (major boo).

But dear readers, let me tell you a horror story.

It happened on a very recent dark, stormy night. We did laundry. More specifically, we did the kids’ laundry. If you know where this is going, then shame on you for not warning me ahead of time.

The buzzer buzzed oh-so-innocently and hubby got up from the couch where we were watching reruns of “New Girl” to forward that load to the dryer. I heard the washer door open, then an incredibly long silent pause. No sounds of sloshing wet clothes. No little “hmphs” from Nick begrudgingly bent over transferring those wet clothes to the dryer. Nothing. Sickening silence.

Then, the dreaded, “honey . . . ?”

I didn’t move. Maybe if I just pretend I didn’t hear it, time will rewind and fix whatever horror it is. 

“Seriously. Something is wrong. Come look at this.”

Nope. Nnnnnope. Nothing is wrong. Everything is just fine.

“Tara. There is something seriously wrong with our washer.”

I blew out a sigh, bid Schmidt to wish me luck, and trudged into the laundry room WHERE FREAKIN’ SLIMY SNOW AWAITED ME.

I kid you not. Little, clear-ish/white-ish slimy pellets of snow were spilling out of the washer and clinging to the wet clothes.

“I don’t want to know what that stuff is,” said my dashing, debonaire, total scaredy-pants husband.

I bravely picked up a clump and squished it between my fingers. Then images of a long-forgotten Youtube gardening video flashed through my mind. A video where the crystals inside of diapers are soaked with water and placed in the soil, thereby providing a source of water for thirsty plants and also preventing overwatering.


My son’s ***PEE-PANTS*** literally expanded to 5 times their normal size and violently disintegrated.

With more attitude than was probably necessary, I impatiently carefully removed each article of wet, slimy clothing and shook out slimy crystals all over my laundry room floor, then threw them in the dryer. We plugged a wind-turbine in front of the washer to dry out the crystals and hoped (or just pretended) the clothes now in the dryer wouldn’t do any damage. “This thing is under warranty, right?”

Nick vacuumed out the dried crystals in the morning, and the kids clothes are no worse for wear. (Though I cannot attest to their emotional and mental state.) I still haven’t tried to use the washer or dryer since. Too scared. Should we take bets on how long I can go without doing a load of laundry in this house??

Moral of the story: warn your kid not to put their pee-pants in the dirty clothes. And warn yourselves to be on the lookout for the little disposable traitors when throwing in a kids’ load late at night in the dark.

Stupid pee-pants. Stupid, stupid little pee-pants.

*If someone dares make a joke about them not being “little” pee-pants when they’re five times their normal size, I will publicly unfriend you.


The Lasering of the HooHas


Yes, this post is probably too-much-information. But, dear readers, the world needs to be warned.


Once upon a time, *someone* (eh-ehm) saw a killer Groupon deal for laser hair removal. Though it took some minor sisterly manipulation, she managed to convince her two sisters to join her in an adventure. The three of them then scheduled their appointments for “the lasering of the hoohas.” Yep. Go big or go home.

Each sister had the same procedure, the same number of follow-up visits, and received the same advice and instructions. However, each had a very different experience. In order to protect the not-so-innocent, names will not be assigned to each hilarious tragic mishap. Hopefully our combined lessons-learned will save you from an equally humiliating memory.

If you laser your hooha . . . 

. . . remember that you only need to undress from the waist down. When the technician comes in and seems surprised at your state of complete undress, then has to ask you twice for clarification on what exactly you want lasered, you will eventually realize where you went wrong. In this sister’s defense, there was a modesty towel provided that appeared to be meant for whole torso cover-up, which seemed like enough cover at the time.

If you did indeed strip completely . . .

. . . don’t admit it to your sisters. Who then gossip and giggle about it with their technicians. Like a bunch of nosy old ladies at the hair salon.

If they tell you to shave everything the day before your appointment . . .

. . . they mean EVERYTHING. Because when that laser beams upon a not-quite-so-shaven spot in your nethers that you probably didn’t even know existed, it will hurt like the dickens. The DICKENS, I tell you. You will see stars. Galaxies. Undiscovered universes.

If you have a known skin sensitivity . . . 

. . . mention this to the technician BEFORE you slather on the numbing cream. You might break out in a severe rash. There are other options. Like ice. Or a strip of leather hide between your gritted teeth.

If you think you might have a severe skin reaction . . .

. . . don’t schedule a date for that night. Or any of the next 5 nights. And we come from a traditional, religious family, so this has nothing to do with sex. I’m just talking about normal functioning in front of the opposite gender. Walking, sitting, getting in and out of cars . . . all things that will make you move like the zombie in “Hocus Pocus” if your crotch is on fire. Even with a best-case-scenario and a high tolerance for pain, your date will at the very least think you’re constipated.

If you do have both a severe skin reaction and an unfortunate date planned that night . . .

. . . don’t wear tight pants. This should be common sense. Apparently us sisters aren’t always running on all cylinders in the common sense department.

If you break out in a severe rash . . .

. . . don’t wait 3 days to see the doctor. That’s just 3 days of unnecessary discomfort. “Discomfort” is probably putting it mildly.

If the doctor tells you to put “Di-syn-et? Des-ri-tyme? Da-resi-tin?” on it . . . 

. . . he means Desitin. Which is diaper-rash cream. Which you can buy at the grocery store. Or borrow from your sister’s diaper-bag. But you probably should have asked the doctor to clarify this when you were confused so it didn’t take you an extra day to receive relief.

If you need Desitin, like immediately . . .

. . . find a bathroom to lather yourself. Don’t do it in a car, without tinted windows, in the mall parking lot. Especially with your sister cracking up and making a scene in the next seat.

If you can’t sleep at night because your lady bits are on fire . . . 

. . . try turning up your ceiling fan to full blast and strip down to a half-birthday suit. Then sprawl out on top of your covers. I’ve heard this helps.

And finally, If you did indeed suffer from a severe, toe-curling allergic reaction . . . 

. . . DON’T USE THE DANG NUMBING CREAM AT YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT! It shouldn’t have to take you a few sessions to realize that the cream was your fatal mistake.

So ladies, if you’ve been contemplating taking the Brazilian laser plunge, please take a moment to truly internalize any possible ramifications. Hedge your bets, and prepare.

Maybe pre-purchase some diaper cream. Just in case.

World War III


We might not survive this day, dear reader. It is World War III over here. Screaming toddler, sassy 5 year old, messes beyond the capabilities of FEMA, bribes, threats, revoked privileges, “time-in” that quickly escalated back to the old school time-out . . . all things I’m going to regret in the morning.

Today has not been my best day as a mother. And it’s barely noon. Somebody say a prayer – there’s a good chance mine are struggling to be heard over the scream-whining of my littles. I may be only one step above bed rest at the moment, but you’d think I could at least keep things recognizable.

I could tell you the whole story, but I think my husband’s response to my text sums it up nicely.

“As long as everyone’s breathing and not bleeding.”

What a trooper.

So you know what I did? 30 minutes ago I gave up. I took myself and my unborn child back to bed. The kids officially have free reign. My knives are out of their reach, the pool fence and back door are locked, and my bedroom door is open.

And guess what. By the time I got to this point in my blog post, the house is filled with sounds of toys being put back in their rightful place. My kids are getting along as they put the war to rights, probably signing a peace treaty as we speak.

This is totally not where I thought this post was going.

My conclusion? Either 1) an angel came by and whispered in their ears some heavenly, secret phrase that suddenly inspires obedience and responsibility; or 2) I was the problem.

Yeah, totally not where I thought this post was going.



That moment after picking up your toddler son and sitting him in your lap while you finish up just one more paragraph, only to discover the reason he came to you in the first place was because he needed his bum wiped.

Then the moment after changing your own pants, wiping up your son, and washing that poop smear from your forearm, that your daughter points out the little tiny glob on the bathroom floor that you just stepped in.

This just got real.

Mother/Writer hybrids out there, don’t pretend this type of thing hasn’t happened to you.