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10.09.08

Life With 6 Kids, 20 Finches, and a Franken-tortoise

The Project Runway star on her household’s spectacularly lopsided animal-to-human ratio.

My apartment is a zoo, and not just because I have a house full of boys. There are also actual animals that add to the chaotic menagerie. I have successfully denied the kids anything large that would really require care, like a dog, but the small animals keep making their way into our household.

We have a goldfish named Bubble Bath who swims in a vase on the kitchen counter. A crazed, insomniac hamster spends his nights running in a squeaky wheel and his days attempting to eat his way out of his ten-gallon glass aquarium home. There is a large antique birdcage with 20 finches ready to inform anyone within earshot that the sun has come up. I am surprised they have the intelligence to do so because we started with a pair, and those fecund little birds have multiplied into what is undoubtedly the most inbred, genetically mutant tribe since the Kennedys. My favorite pet is Frank, short for Frankentortoise, a five-year-old red footed tortoise that has free rein of the apartment and a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” potty policy. Don’t ask me where he does it because I can’t tell. Finally there is Princess, a class rabbit that came home during Christmas vacation and never left.

My favorite pet is Frank, short for Frankentortoise, a five-year-old red footed tortoise that has free rein of the apartment and a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” potty policy.

Princess has issues. I was not around during her formative years, so I don’t know the root of her problems, but she has so much anger and is so aggressive that the killer rabbits from Monty Python have nothing on her. Unlike Frank, who has free rein-most favored status, Princess roams free because we are afraid to come in direct physical contact with her. She has a cage where food, water, and a litter box are provided for her, but she enters only at her own discretion.

Much like the monkey exhibit at the zoo, anyone entering my apartment is, no doubt, affronted by the noise and malodorous atmosphere of the place, but I have been here for a while and have grown accustomed; I barely notice it anymore. I do come across the occasional turtle turd, or rabbit poop, but I tend to get preoccupied, especially if there is someone else on the clock performing domestic duties. I always keep one ear open to what is going on, but I try to involve myself as little as possible during working hours.

“Mmmm, Cocoa Puffs.” I heard my six-year-old son say, as I sat at my computer, intent on my keyboard and semi-oblivious to my surroundings.

“We don’t have any Cocoa Puffs,” I thought to myself as I continued to click away. And then it hit me. It was a delayed reaction and played out in slow motion like those bad TV scenes. “NOOOO!” I yelled as I snapped out of my state and turned just in time to see my son pop a poop into his mouth. It was too late.

I suspect that child is off breakfast cereal for life.