Thursday, January 6, 2011

The most loved fish

The villain



The hero


I just had to record this story for the ages. Anyone reading this will conclude that I am certifiably crazy, but none-the-less, here is is:

A couple years ago we got AJ 2 guppies. They had a normal suburban-fish life, living in a bowl, no worries. Then, as AJ is wont to do, they were forced to entertain various house-guests in the form of wild minnows caught from the local pond. These minnows were not kind to their hosts and before I realized the bullying that was going on, one guppy had been consumed and the second was a sad shadow of himself, having had all of his fins chewed off. Obviously, the animal lover in me reared it's indignant and compassionate head. The minnows were relegated to the outdoor pond, and the poor little finless guppy was waited on hand and foot in his very own new high tech aquarium with perfect guppy settings. So that is how the guppy slowly regrew his fins and health. Yet he seemed to lack his old swimmy vitality. After many, many months I concluded he was lonely.

So, realizing he was pining for company, I rushed to the pet store and brought home two lovely and buxom females. As anyone with aquarium fish knows, you must first float the bag of fish in the aquarium water to let the two bodies of water equalize before releasing the fish into the tank. As I set the bag of fish into the aquarium, my lonely little guppy began the most spastic and erratic of fish movements I have ever seen. I watched transfixed as he repeatedly butted into the bag and performed his crazy dance over and over again for the attention of the ladies who, I must admit, seemed quite enthralled by the weathered and handsome stranger.

As you can probably guess, the moment I released the new fish into the tank there was a swirl of vigorous, shall we say, activity, followed by some very fulfilled looking and radiantly glowingly guppies.

Over the next several days I watched this happy trio ALL the time. I swear the whole house had a content, peaceful vibe flowing from that tank of water. My friends were all forced to listen to the story of my amazing saved-from-the-bring-of-death-hero-guppy-turned-family-man and I am sure they were all considering an intervention ending in me being dragged off to the the insane asylum.

Well, this happy family has done very well for themselves. Over the last year or so they have parented probably 200 offspring who are all living, seemingly quite happily if not a bit crowded-ly, in the same tank. I still watch my special guppy all the time and smile about how his life ended up with his vast brood around him, he certainly was rewarded for his early trials.

Okay, so now begins act two of this aquatic drama. Last summer the kids enjoyed crawfishing. And, as is almost always the case, if AJ can catch it - it becomes a pet. So last summer we gingerly introduced 2 baby crawdads to this very busy aquarium. My secret hope was that they would eat some of the baby guppies before I had to take any drastic measures. But everyone seemed to be living together very peacefully for several months. Only recently has one of the crawdads become much more aggressive. He routinely sits on a certain rock, pincers poised still and deadly until - snap - he goes for a guppy. As with all interesting animal behavior - I can't get enough. I have watched him do this for hours, amazed at his patience and equally amazed at the guppies' uncanny escapes.

This morning, Jack's crawdad was in his usual place, pincers raised, and so I stopped to watch the hunter in action. He grabbed and missed a couple times, and I was just about to head out when - snap! He had one. But, my heart fell into my stomach... I IMMEDIATELY knew for certain that the one out of a hundred fish he had caught was my handsome hero. I grabbed the first long thing I could reach (a hairbrush of all things) and threw open the lid and smacked the crawdad on his big vicious head. In all of the chaos the crawdad fled into his cave and I couldn't find my guppy. I feared he had been dragged into the crawdad's den to be eaten. I know this is crazy, but I felt so sad at that moment. We had been through a lot together! To go through all of the highs and lows of his life only to be snatched and eaten by an enemy I had placed into his home to (hopefully) eat his grandchildren! It was too much!!! But after searching through the 100s of darting fish I saw him hovering in the corner, obviously injured or in shock or dying. I immediately removed the guppies AJ has in another smaller tank (I know it is out of hand) and ever so carefully fished out my guppy and eased him into his own tank to either quietly recover, or die in peace. I left him there as I had to go out to run errands, fully expecting to come home to a little floating corpse. A couple hours later, I got home, dropped the groceries on the table and rushed to the tank to find... a perfectly healthy little guppy swimming around without a care in the world most certainly wondering where on earth his buxom ladies have gone.

And that, my friends, is what I call a happy ending.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cascarones and a turtle

We spent the morning dying eggs and then a quick tadpole hunting trip turned up the first baby turtle of the season!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Angel's


We met up with some friends to kick off our "spring break week" Friday night at Angel's on the way out to Marble Falls... what a cool spot! The grown-ups got to visit around picnic tables while the kids roamed about and swarmed in, over, and under the playscape. The music was a bit obnoxious (didn't realize it was super-loud-and-annoying-toddler-Friday) but the company was great! We will definitely be back!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bird Brain


Tomorrow is crazy hat day at LPE, so I set AJ loose with a bucket of puff balls and a foam visor. From right to left: hummingbird (behind the penguin) penguin, sandpiper, turkey & chick, cardinal, blue jay.

AJ was also chosen this week to make the cover for the book their class is publishing for the school library. She is quite an artist.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Basketball


AJ did NOT want to do basketball... but I made her and my reasons were that she hates being hot (indoor/water sports are the way to go here) and of course she is going to be very tall. So basketball seemed like a good choice... right?

Well, from the start it did not go well. Due to a miscommunication she did not get on the team with a bunch of her friends. I was worried she would be too timid with girls she did not know, playing a sport she had absolutely no exposure to. And I was 100% right. The first few practices were agony. She felt very self conscious and nervous and wanted to quit. Thankfully her coach is probably one of the kindest people I have met, very encouraging and very good at coaching girls in basketball (he has 3 girls–all basketball players.)

After a couple of practices and one (not so great) game AJ began to come around. I could see from her body language that she was feeling more self assured and comfortable, and then all of the sudden... she was good. I mean really good! She was scoring points and winning the drill-games they play during practice. She was picking off rebounds left and right, beating girls to the ball and not backing down. I cannot fully put into words the transformation that has taken place in the last 2 months. She can't wait for practice, she loves the games, and even though they don't officially keep score (of course the parents do) she wants to know who won, who got the most points, rebounds, assists, etc.

And here is the value of sports. Swim team transformed AJ into a competitive, self confident, winning-machine, and I can see that light in her eyes with basketball now. She has made a bunch of new friends (I am now so glad she didn't make it onto the team with her girlfriends) and learned yet again that she can do something hard and scary. Sooooo proud! As a shy kid myself, I know how difficult these things are, and she has come out on top. And Coach Avery... you are the best! And I hope this is the start of a very fulfilling sport for her.

LOVE that girl!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

How First Night devolved into a bank heist... Jack and AJ style

We stopped by Walmart to pick up some New Year's hats for the kids to wear to Austin's First Night. So they picked out some cute silver 2010 top hats. So far, pretty normal. Brett wanted to pick up a beanie so we stopped to grab one, when AJ's eyes popped open, "Are those 'robber hats'?!?" You can see where this is going. They quickly negotiated the terms of exchanging the 2010 hats for the robber hats with arguments along the lines of "these are much warmer," "we can wear these all the time," and "we can sneak around." So we walked out of Walmart with two masked heisters in tow.

A couple hours later we were in downtown Austin hunting down a good spot for the parade. We found a nice slice of curb with a big empty area behind it... perfect for the kids to run around and be wild waiting for the parade to start. After settling in a little bit Brett turned to me, "Um... look what that building is." We had unleashed our masked bandits in the entryway to Austin's prominent Frost Bank. Needless to say I nearly gave myself an aneurysm watching our mini burglars sneaking around playing robbers on the bank's front steps.

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I've said it before and I know this is not the last time... I've got two of the weirdest kids on the planet. Never a dull moment with those two left to their own devices. The best thing to do is just give them the reins and see where it leads.