This is 10

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

This not-so-little-anymore person turned ten this week, and spent her birthday at the hospital, waiting for word on whether her great aunt had survived a massive stroke. 

From the in utero loss of her twin and my father's sudden passing, to my mom's medical scares and my aunt's uphill battle, this angel child knows far more about life, death and survival than most others her age. 

When she was born, I wanted to shield my daughter from the frightening realities of the world. 

But life is what happens when you're making other plans. 

In spite of everything, my 10 year old still finds joy in little things, plays like a trooper, laughs with her friends, dances like no one is watching and is excited to see the sun rise each day. 

She is my joyous old soul. 

And I want to be just like her when I grow up.

No, really.

And a Crappy New Year

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

"Having that pool skimmer in there really complicates things."

The plumber was bewildered, and he hadn’t yet discovered the paint roller extension pole.

It had been 24 hours since I noticed a puddle in the basement. The source of the leak was unwelcome, but repairable, according to my husband because a trickle from the sewage cleanout pipe was nothing a plunger couldn’t fix.

The plan was to remove the cap, eliminate whatever obstacle might be impeding the flow to the septic tank, replace the lid and carry on.

A gentle twist was all it took. From there, it was like watching a WWII submarine movie with saltwater gushing through breached pipes, drenching the actors struggling to shut valves with nothing more than wrenches and dangerously good looks.

There's One on Your Chair

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My mother and I were sitting in the magazine lounge of a library we had never been in before. We were waiting for my daughter to learn how to play chess because when you homeschool, you enroll your kids in strategic board game workshops led by cheerful retirees.

It’s in the handbook.

Fifteen minutes in, I noticed a little black fluff on the water bottle wedged in the outer pocket of my backpack. I could have left it alone but my phone battery was dying so I was looking for something else to do.