Sunday, October 12, 2008

Something fishy's going on

Remember Blue Blue? You'd think we would have learned, but we're attempting fish experiment # 2 (Electric Boogaloo!)

Clay wanted a dog, and when we told him no, he shifted focus and again asked for a fish. We agreed, figuring that if we got a proper aquarium, a couple of fish could be peaceful and an interesting science project for the kids. But, we wanted it to be something Clay had to work for, and so we told him that we'd get an aquarium after he learned his next violin song, Lightly Row, well enough to perform in a recital. I figured it would take him until Christmas. Of course, I overestimated. Clay worked on it for one month, and he's performing it in next weekend's recital. So, we've started preparing for a fish house.

All in all, I think we should have okay'ed the dog instead. We went to the pet store on Monday and bought a tank, filter, gravel and conditioner. This cost us $80. I balked at the stand b/c it was only a 15 gallon tank, and I figured we could find a nice flat surface for it. As we left the store, the sales clerk called helpfully: "Don't forget to make sure the tank is perfectly level. One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, and a 15 gallon tank that isn't perfectly level will have too much stress on the joints."

Okay, so the quick math meant we had to find a spot for 130 pounds of weight contained in a footprint of 24 inches by 12 inches. We had nothing.

Tuesday, Mike went out to find a stand. He found one for $90, and tried to put it together before I got home. Half of the cam connectors broke, and somehow he got one of the dowels in the wrong hole and couldn't get it out. By the time I got home he was wild eyed and tousled, looking like the wild man of Borneo. I sent him out for more cam connectors and tried to get the dowel out. Clay hopped up and down eager to set up the tank. He helpfully went and put on his play tool belt, and offered us his plastic hammer for dowel dislodging. By 9 p.m., we had the tank set up, and an overtired little boy who didn't understand why we still had no fish.

Wednesday night, we went to a pet store recommended by a colleague. Goldmine! These folks were GREAT. We looked at all their freshwater tropicals, helpfully color coded by temperament and ease of care. We were focusing on the black and yellow labeled fish. "Peaceful" and "Easy" said the legend, and I started humming the Eagles. We grabbed a heater (because it was clear that freshwater tropicals instead of goldfish were the way to go) and some plastic plants. I had originally thought live plants were what I wanted, but the sales woman suggested I stick with plastic until we knew what we were doing. Clay grabbed a sunken ship and two pirate skeleton figurines. The sales woman said we needed a bacteria conditioner. Total with a 10% "new customer" discount: $75.

Have you been doing the math? We're now into this simpler-than-a-dog pet project for nearly $200. And we have yet to buy any fish.

Saturday after violin, Mike and Clay went back to the pet store. We were going to get some fish! Upon everyone's advice, we were only going to get 3 little fish. We would add two or three fish for the next several weeks until we had about 10-12 fish total. An hour after they left, Mike and Clay returned witb 3 neon tetras named Roger, Pete and Keith. We introduced them to the tank per the store's instructions and then we spent the rest of the afternoon just looking at the tank. It was all worth it! Last night we turned off the light and said goodnight to the band.

This morning the boys and I said good morning to the fish and had some toast. A little later we checked on the tank and strangely, the trio was now a duet. Mike took a look but the third, which we figured was Keith going on a bender, was still MIA. We figured he was enjoying the sunken ship, and I went off for a shower so we could get to church. As I was drying my hair, Mike came in the bathroom and said he'd found Keith in the filter. Dead. We put him in a little cup to return to the store, which was closed today. However, Mike went to PetsMart this afternoon to replace him. We didn't want to upset Clay.

Neon tetra #4, "John" was introduced to the tank at 2 pm this afternoon. At 3:30, another tetra bit the dust, for lack of an aquatically appropriate metaphor. Perhaps little Pete, for lack of his namesake's guitar, used a pirate skeleton instead and little John couldn't handle the stress? I dunno, but Clay noticed this time, and much wailing and teeth gnashing ensued.

I was concerned that we were really doing something wrong, but I couldn't figure out what. We had the water tested, and it was fine. We were introducing fish slowly. We chose easy fish. Finally a couple of comments on an aquarist's bulletin board told us the ugly truth: "Tetras: they'll either last forever or will die on you in a couple of days".

Indeed. Statistically speaking, that's about right. We bought 3 + 1 tetras and now have two. Both tetras and rock stars could use an intervention.

True Confessions

Tonight at dinner Clay had to get something off his chest.

"Mommy, do you remember a few weeks ago when I told you that my favorite color was blue and not red? Well... I was wrong. It's really red. Sorry."

Glad we got that straight!

Friday, October 10, 2008

We interrupt this crisis for a momentary diversion

Never mind that the world's economy is on the verge of collapsing...

Or that this presidential election is getting uglier and uglier...

Or that my diet is completely derailed and I'm a little depressed...

I give you a boy and his bubble mower!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Something to Celebrate

Ooh! But here's hope for our future.... Clay's READING! He's recognizing so many words, and I just couldn't be prouder. Every night he goes through his library book and sounds out new words. This week he's reading Red Fox and His Canoe.

And Drew! Drew's doing so well in preschool. Mike says that now when he drops him off, Drew says 'Bye Bye Daddy', and if Mike doesn't leave immediately, Drew comes back and says 'Daddy, kiss. Bye bye!'.

Plus we moved him to a big boy bed tonight. And just like that, I'm out of babies...

My head hurts

I just finished watching the VP debates, and now I need to crack open a great big bottle of Advil. I'm just so sad that I can't get excited about any candidate. And I have to wonder if this is a sign of the times? Are the days gone when the average person (Joe Sixpack as Sarah Palin says ad nauseum... ugh) can't get excited about a candidate? Has the media killed our enthusiasm with constant overexposure? CNN had a 'special' for HD viewers... in the side bars you could watch SIX pie charts with analysts 'scoring' the candidates during the whole shebang. I'm a little cross eyed now... and my head hurts from trying to count the score cards., I had thought, would have an online discussion going. Nope, they've moved into 'tweets', which I just can't take seriously. CBS had a little game where you could pick which state would go to which candidate and watch the electoral votes build. ABC and NBC had live blogs, but they weren't refreshed all that often. I should know. I clicked 'Refresh' so much my index finger is a little sprained.

We are on the verge of something truly historic... for the first time we will NOT have two white guys running this country. So why am I all 'Meh' about these choices? Electing a president should be about voting for competence and intelligence. Instead it's a popularity contest. Our parties have embraced mediocrity, and that's all I see whenever I listen to the radio, watch TV, read the paper, surf the 'net. Disappointing.

Of course, I could be just completely pissed off that my retirement accounts have lost 10% of their value in September. Oy vey. Forget the Advil. Somebody hand me a drink.