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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Full Suburban: A conversation with my personal Yohana assistant

This sign explains Julia Ditto’s life with six children in Spokane Valley.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

Last week, I read an article about Yohana, a new personal assistant app targeted toward busy moms. In a nutshell, Yohana uses the magic of technology to connect its subscribers with real, live people who can help them complete all sorts of tasks, from planning their kid’s birthday party to scheduling a haircut.

I couldn’t help but imagine how the conversation between me and my personal Yohana assistant would go.

Me: Hello, Imaginary Yohana Assistant! I’m looking for a little help with some tasks. They’re all pretty mundane, nothing too complicated, but I just can’t seem to get on top of any of them. Can you help?

Imaginary Yohana Assistant: Definitely, Mrs. Ditto. How can I help?

Me: OK, first off, I just got a note home from my son’s teacher asking for parents to send in snacks that she can hand out to the kids midday when they’re all falling into a hungry rage.

Assistant: That’s no problem. What kind are we talking about?

Me: You know how you get when you’ve been running errands for seven hours and you forgot to throw a granola bar into your purse before you left home, and all you can find to eat is a couple half-melted Starbursts that your son left in the middle console of your car? And so you eat those, but it does nothing – like nothing – to even approach handling how hungry you are, so you start fantasizing about the McDonald’s fries that you don’t have time to stop for, and your hands get kind of jittery, and you yell at people because they’re using the center lane improperly, and life in general just kind of feels impossible? I’m guessing it’s that type of hunger.

Assistant: I meant what type of snacks.

Me: Oh. I don’t know. Cheez-Its?

Assistant: Got it. I will have 25 individually packaged bags of Cheez-Its delivered directly to your son’s school by tomorrow afternoon. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Me: Wow. That’s, like, amazing. Nothing in my life ever gets done this efficiently. The other day, I walked into my kitchen to load the dishwasher, and 10 minutes later, I was browning ground beef, renewing my car tabs online and playing a round of Uno with my first-grader. It’s like a madhouse over here all the time.

Assistant: Mrs. Ditto, is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: Actually, yes. What’s your policy on hemming pants? I’ve got a stack of pants that are way too long for my boys, and while I technically know how to do it, I’d rather jab my eyeballs out with a barbecue skewer than tackle that job.

Assistant: Well, I don’t personally hem pants, but I can certainly find you the name of a seamstress in your area who can take care of that for you.

Me: OK, sure. When you contact her, can you see if she’s also able to sew up a tear in a winter jacket from when my son went sliding on the snow like a penguin and caught his coat on an exposed bush?

Assistant: Certainly. I’m just typing this all out so I can make sure to give the seamstress accurate information. Where did the tear happen exactly?

Me: On the hill in front of our house, just to the left of the broken sprinkler head and to the right of where we found a deer skull a couple years back with antlers and everything. It was super gross; my kids wanted to mount it on the wall.

Assistant: I meant where on the coat is the tear.

Me: Oh. By the left pocket.

Assistant: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Me, looking furtively around, even though I’m alone in my house for three more hours until my kids get home: Do you ever, you know … arrange for the delivery of … Costco cakes?

Assistant: Of course, birthday parties are one of my specialties.

Me: No, this would be on the down-low, just for me, you know?

Assistant: You’re going to eat an entire Costco cake by yourself?

Me: It will be over the course of a few days, but yes. Can you help?

Assistant: That’s what I’m here for.

Me: You’re worth every penny, Imaginary Yohana Assistant.

Assistant: I know.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at