Monday, August 30, 2010

Fish Update

A lot has happened with Conner's little pet fish since I last wrote about them. Spotty was renamed Bufford (after the bully on his favorite TV show Phineas and Ferb, because Bufford had bullied Mr. Red around when he was sick). But a couple of days later Bufford died. Somewhere along the way, Mr. Gold's name was changed to The Golden Retriever - sung like "The Masked Retriever" on an episode of the Backyardigans. Conner sang his name everytime he said it - but thankfully he didn't require that everyone sing it! But alas, The Golden Retriever (hear me singing) died, too. All that was left was Phineas Fish (whose name had been shortened to just "Phineas"), who was already a replacement fish.

At this point we decided that Bufford and The Golden Retriever shouldn't be replaced immediately. We needed to figure out what we needed to do differently. Upon closer inspection, we realized that the filter/pump wasn't working quite like we had thought it would, and that we perhaps needed some more oxygen in the water. So we bought an air stone volcano thing and waited.

Phineas made it for a full week. Conner took good care of him, feeding him at the right times and even reading a few books to him.And Phineas didn't just make it - he survived Josiah's eager help on several occasions. One morning Joey fed Phineas 2-3 weeks worth of food at once. And another day he found the net and was trying his hardest to catch him. And then we realized that the filter that is supposed to last several weeks, was already full (thanks to, I'm sure, three dead fish and a massive over-feeding) and not functioning properly.

So yesterday we decided to completely clean out the tank, fill it with fresh water, and get Phineas a couple of friends. We had added the little drops that take the chlorine out. And while Bret and Conner were at the pet store getting new fish, Joey proudly came to me with the empty bottle of drops. "I give Phineas some mo watah!" Yup. He had dumped the whole bottle into the tank.

Phineas had made it through so much. There was no way I was going to let him go now. Luckily, we had already been preparing to clean the tank out, and had some chlorine drop-treated, room temperature water sitting there ready to go. So I grabbed the net, fished him out, and dumped him in one of the pitchers of water.

And he made it! Bret finished cleaning the tank, added the new fish - Candace, a red platty and Perry, and little suckerfish catfish thing, both named for more characters from Phineas and Ferb - we put everything away where Joey can't get it (we think, anyway!), and they all made it through the night!
Then this afternoon we realized that Candace had some kind of yucky white stuff on her nose...which we learned from Poppy is probably Ick. We've treted the tank...and we'll see...
To have been so careful to do everything right, this has really been a huge adventure!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Caught Up!

The summer got busy. And crazy. And I got behind on a lot of things. Including my blog.

But things started to turn around, and I set a goal for myself of getting caught up again before school started.

I didn't quite make my goal - but I did get caught up before September started!

Most of the big event-type posts that I wrote were put in the most recent spot on my blog, and then a few days later I changed the date on them so that they would more accurately reflect the summer.

Sooo...if you're one of the two people that like to make sure you read everything that I put up, you might want to glance back through the summer, particularly July, when I think I got the most behind. :)

As always, thanks for reading and keeping up with the Wellsbrothers!

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Conner's King - I Mean DONKEY Kong Birthday

We celebrated Conner's birthday with my family today. Nothing big or out of the ordinary - everyone just came over to Mom's and Dad's to hang out, eat hamburgers and hot dogs and grilled bacon-jalapeno-cream cheese-dove and birthday cake. But those are still special times and we have tons of fun!

The boys played in the waterpark. It was probably the last time to get that out until next summer. They had a good time - and played really hard - for the first few minutes it was out. Then Micah got mad about something and Conner wouldn't stop picking on him and Joey got cold (yes, cold in August - there was a wonderfully nice breeze this afternoon!)...and the waterpark fun didn't last much longer after that.

Here's the funny about the cake - a couple of weeks ago when we asked him what kind of cake he wanted at BooBoo's, Conner said King Kong. I didn't have any idea where this had come from, and wasn't even sure if he knew who/what King Kong was. "Yeah I know who he is. He's a big ol' gorilla!" That sounded like about all I knew about him, too! So BooBoo ordered a King Kong cake. But then last night when she called to make sure it was ready, she realized that she had ordered Donkey Kong instead of King Kong. :) They're both gorillas, and Conner loves Mario World so it turned out fine. We just got a lot of laughs from it!The "Happy Birthday" song lasted longer that usual. Yogi went on and on with "...and Frankenstein on Channel 9" stuff, and Conner was getting impatient for the song to stop so he could blow out the candles...which of course just made Yogi go on even longer. But then Conner again let his brothers help him blow out his candles. He's been so sweet to share those candles this year! Conner got lots of cool stuff, and he was very, very, very excited (and loud!) about everything he got. And of course, Micah and Josiah got a couple of little things, too.
Happy birthday, Conner! Thanks everyone for all of his goodies! (And I'm glad it's officially over! :)

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Speechless...Other Than A Whispered "Amen"

I try to get up before the boys everyday, to have a little quiet time, get myself ready in peace and to get a jumpstart on the day's to-do's. The other day I had a particularly meaningful email sitting in my inbox, and was thankful for the chance to read it in peace instead of in spurts between moments of craziness.

This is from a guy I went to jr high/high school with. We weren't really friends, didn't really run around with the same crowd. But when he friend-requested me on facebook a year or two ago, I immediately remembered him. I don't know many of the details, but I don't need to - he and his wife lost their baby boy at the end of July, I believe it was just a few days before he was due. There aren't many things that prick my heart quite like the death of a baby - especially when it happens to someone I know.

I use facebook and my blog just like the average joe - but I also try to be intentional about minstering through this social media, too. I try to be transparent in my life as a young mother, a wife, a family in ministry. And every now and then, I find out that some silly (or not-so-silly) little thing that I said or did really ministered to someone. I've been told by a few that just having a glimpse into our lives gives them hope, inspires them, makes them feel like they're not alone, or even just a laugh when they really needed one. And if a handful of folks see the light of Christ shining in me in this way - it makes it all worth it.

Then on Tuesday, which happened to be the 20th anniversary of the day that I was baptized (actually, I'm pretty sure that it was no "coincidence"), this is the much-needed affirmation that I received, via a man that I've had very little direct contact with:

Okay - I know you don't really know me at all. But, I remember you very vividly in the 8th grade, as I do almost everyone at GR. That year was one of the most influential times in my life. I know those that grew up there couldn't wait to leave the small town. But my last school had over 3000 kids in it... so, it was nice to know and be known for once, and have a chance to succeed rather than watch my back.

I just wanted to share with you why I was excited to connect with you on Facebook, though hardly ever a word has been spoken between us. I have at times peered into your life from a distance and I have found joy in watching you raise your kids. It's been humbling to learn of your struggles as your life is devoted to ministry. How I have at times struggled with finances, while your husband will go knock on doors and sell shingles in order to provide. I shared with my wife when you posted about your MeeMaw "dancing with her Jesus now" and it brought tears to both of our eyes. A very inspirational response to the situation.


When we found out we were pregnant, I often read your blog to get an idea of what I was in for. I have no idea how to take care of a kid. I often found inspiration in some of your crazy stories, and eventually determined that I could do this.


Since losing our son, I have come to realize that God had been preparing me for some time now. He taught me how to be a father and gave me opportunities to imagine what my life would look like. All this was so that my heart would grow and I could bond with my son in the few short hours I had with him. He also taught me how find hope and joy in death, and to truly rest in His peace.

So, I guess all this to say... you never know who you might minister to in what wacky way. But I appreciate that I've had this opportunity to learn more about you and your family. Continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit that you don't miss opportunities to be a witness.

Thank you, also, for your condolences. I was surprised to see your comment on my post and grateful that you would take the time.


Again, I know that your memory of me is foggy at best, but thank you for "accepting" me and allowing me to find encouragement from time to time through your encounters.


May God bless you and your family.

And still, I'm left pretty much speechless - other than a whispered "Amen," a feeling of gratitude for being ministered to by a friend in mourning, hope for his family to find peace, and a quiet plea for the Lord to continue to use me...
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homework

At Conner's school, all of the first graders have an "agenda" that they have to bring home everyday. It's the way for teachers and parents to communicate, where homework assignments and important papers are kept, etc. I think something along those lines is probably pretty standard.

Well Conner forgot to bring his home yesterday. I didn't know what kind of penalty there would be if he didn't have my signature in the right spot on his agenda, but I didn't figure it would be too bad during the first week of school. What I was concerned about what that this is the first week of school. There's no way there weren't papers that needed to come home. And I had no idea what to expect on homework yet - except that there would probably be some at some point.

So today when he came walking out of the school building with not even his backpack, we had a talk. I couldn't put fresh cold water in his water bottle if he didn't bring it home in his backpack. I couldn't clean out his lunchbox if he didn't bring home in his backpack, and it would get nasty. He was gonna get in trouble with his teacher if he kept forgetting his agenda. I walked him back in to get it - but with the understanding that we were not going to do this everyday. This is something that he's really got to remember on his own.

Of course there were papers for me to fill out and sign. And a tshirt order form that was due in a couple of days. And homework. Due tomorrow. That he really should have started yesterday. Uggh.

It was only spelling homework. But it wasn't the kind of spelling homework that I remember having. This was a tic-tac-toe grid, with a different spelling activity in each box. On a normal week, he would bring home the list of spelling words on Monday, complete one box Monday, Tuesday, and Wedneday to make a tic-tac-toe, take a practice spelling test on Thursday, and turn it all in on Friday. But this was a short week, made even shorter since the homework wasn't assigned until Wednesday. And even shorter since the homework wasn't brought home until Thursday. Oh, and if they do extra work and complete all nine activities, they get a little surprise. So guess how many Conner of course wanted to do?

I think he picked the hardest, most time-consuming set of activities possible. The first one was to write his spelling words with yarn and glue it to a paper. There were only 8 words, and they were all only three letters or less, but gosh it took a long time!About 30 minutes into it, and only two words to go (while I was trying to fish out some of the 2 or 3 weeks worth of food that Joey had given Phineas Fish earlier in the day), apparently his hand got into some of the glue and it smeared the yarn everywhere. He got frustrated and crumpled the paper up and threw it away.

Normally I would have had him dig it out of the trashcan. But with the wet glue and yarn pieces, it would have taken just as long to repair as it would have to start over. Luckily, his eight words were on two pieces of paper, so he still had four of them done. Fifteen minutes later (making this assignment worth 45 minutes so far), he still had two words to go. But he obviously needed a break and I needed to get dinner started.

A little while later, I realized that I hadn't heard from Joey in awhile. This is never a good sign. And sure enough - I found him at Conner's homework table. Extra glue was dribbled all over the paper, and he was cutting a piece of yarn into shreds over it. While I was impressed at how well he had been paying attention to what Conner was doing and able to duplicate it, I was near panic. Conner was not going to take this well. But luckily, his work had been untouched, and I was able to pretty much wipe all of Joey's off.(Yes, he's naked. That just adds to the drama, doesn't it?!)

Joey and I had some serious words, I shut the door to the bedroom, and we ate dinner. Then it was time for Conner to hit the books again. I told him that I was pretty sure that there was no way that we were going to get all nine activities done at this point. And I made sure to point out that if he had remembered to bring home his agenda yesterday, it might have been a different story. He was a little bummed about not getting a prize, but was already tired enough of it that he was just ready to finish the three activities that he had to. (Hopefully this will work out so that he will remember his stuff better next week!)

I mostly sat with him - I'm sure in a few weeks he'll be an old pro, but today anyway, he was really needing some supervision. And soon I realized that Joey wasn't watching Backyardigans like I had thought. You guessed it - he was at the fish tank, but not feeding it this time. No, I had put the fish food away...this time he had the net and was trying to catch poor Phineas Fish. Good grief. Poor Conner.

I lost track of how long it took us to finish all three assignments. But the total work time was probably an hour and a half or longer - not what I had expected for a first homework assignment!

I knew that homework was coming this year. And I had made preparations - Conner has his own little homework table in my bedroom where he can be away from his brothers (he shares a bedroom with Micah) and the TV. And I knew that reigning in Joey while I was helping Conner was going to be an issue. But I somehow hadn't figured on the first night of it going quite like this! Hopefully he'll do well on his spelling test tomorrow, and we'll see what next week brings...

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Shirt That Conner Picked

When Pam took me shopping the other day, we were crazy enough to take the Wellsbrothers and their cousin with us. The preschool that I will be teaching at is called Noah's Ark Learning Center, so each class has an animal mascot/theme. I've chosen rabbits. So we had the boys looking through the clearance racks on the off chance that they might find a tshirt with a rabbit on it, while I actually shopped.

Then, while I was in the dressing room, Conner came running to Gammie with a shirt on a hanger. "Oh Gammie, we have to show Mommy this one. I know it doesn't have a rabbit on it, but she'll love it."

On the hanger, it looked like a shirt that belonged on someone with short curly white hair, and should be paired with elastic-waisted jeans. Pam cringed and did her best to nicely explain. "But Gammie, won't her eyes look so beautiful when she wears this shirt?" He got her on that one (how could she say no?!), so they came to find me.

And...to make a long story short...after a lot of talking, a "false alarm" when we thought the shirt was missing a button (turns out "someone" had missed a button when they were buttoning it)...and then tears that the beautiful shirt was broken and I wouldn't be able to wear it...well, the shirt was the right size and 70% off so it came home with us.

So I wore it the next day, and when it was paired with bermuda khaki shorts instead of elastic-waisted jeans, it looked a little better than I had even dared to hope.

Conner was elated when he saw that I was wearing it. "I knew you'd like it, Mom. Your eyes look so pretty and blue!"
So...I'll proudly wear the shirt from time to time, just like mommies wear fruit loop necklaces and spiderman stickers. And if you see me wearing the floral Hawaiian-ish shirt that's a little different from my normal choice of clothing...well, you're allowed a little laugh inside. :)

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Conner - Welcome to the 1st Day of 1st Grade!

Today was a big day! Conner turned 7, and it was his first day of first grade.

We woke him up with a verse of "Happy Birthday," he fielded a couple of birthday phone calls...but then we had to get back to the real world of getting ready for school.

Burleson ISD is requiring the students to wear uniforms this year. It's just solid colored polos, khakis, and tennis shoes - but still, it's kind of a big deal. He picked a red polo and navy shorts for today. And then, even though we had talked about it and practiced it a little, the tucking in of the shirt gave us a little bit of trouble. I'm not real sure of the reasoning behind having to tuck the shirt in, especially for the younger kids - tucked in shirts are hardly even professional dress any more, and these younger kids hardly even know what it means to tuck in a shirt...but we're playing along and at least sending him to school that way. I have very little expectation of picking him up at the end of the day with his shirt still neatly tucked in. :) And then there was the belt...but we got him all put together and able to get himself apart and back together for bathroom breaks.

We left in what should have been plenty of time to get him, his extra school supplies (that we found out that he needed at Meet the Teacher), and birthday cupcakes to his classroom before the7:45 am tardy bell (gosh, that's early)...but traffic was much worse than we remembered it being. He ended up being late to school on the first day - which was a much bigger deal for me than it was for him. He didn't care, I'm not sure if he even really knew. But I was just horrified.

As we walked into the building, they had already begun the announcements. And they were announcing the August birthdays. This was huge - last year on Conner's birthday, school hadn't started yet. And when he realized that he wasn't going to hear his name on the announcements for his birthday he was pretty upset. So I made a special phonecall up to the office to find out if they would do a special summer birthday announcement, and when. But wouldn't you know it, on the day that his name was announced, his teacher said that he talked through all of the annoucements, and missed it...and then cried and moped around the rest of the day. But thankfully, I was able to make sure that he was listening, and he had just sat down when they called his name. Whew!

Then Conner got started with his papers,

Bret went to work, and the little brothers and I headed to my classroom to do some work. After a very frustrating experience with a cheap stapler and a bulletin board, we were happy to leave a little early to go eat lunch with Conner! Us eating lunch at school with Conner is probably even more exciting for Micah and Joey than it is for Conner, so it's always fun. Conner got to pick one person - anyone from the entire 1st grade to sit with him. I almost laughed out loud when he sat down with the girl that he "didn't like," that he was "not happy" about being in his class. :) Isn't she cute?

Then before we knew it, school was over, Conner was home (he said everyone being dressed alike made it hard to find his friends at recess! :), the afternoon was over (but not without a surprise visit and gift - a Field Guide to Insects!! - from sweet Mrs. Debbie), and it was dinnertime. Chicken fettuccini alfredo - one of Conner's favorites!, and since he had told me on Saturday that he actually doesn't really like birthday cake that much, birthday cheesecake with blackberries for dessert.Then he opened presents - a desk lamp that he was very excited about putting on his homework table,several Star Wars toys (look how excited Bret is that Conner is so excited about those!),and a little thing for Joey and Micah, too.Connerbug, I still just can't believe that you're seven years old and in first grade. I don't know what happened to my sweet little chubby-cheeked smiling baby...but I'm so proud of the kid you are now and the man you are becoming. I'm very thankful that I was blessed to be your mom.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Last Day of Summer

Well, today was the last day of summer, school starts tomorrow. I start preschool tomorrow, too - I'll be up working in my room on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a couple of weeks until my school begins after Labor Day. I was feeling like we needed to let this crazy summer go out with a bang. What could a tired mommy and three crazy little boys do that was fun and exciting...and easy and cheap?

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has a great children's museum that we've been visiting often. And in front of the museum is a big fountain that the boys always ask to play in. And I always say no, maybe next time. So I decided that today would be the day. To make it even more fun, we invited the Chappotins to come with us.

When I told the Wellsbrothers about our plans, Conner was very excited...so of course Joey was too. Micah, however, was confused. "What fountains? I don't remember any fountains." I assured him that when he saw them he would remember.

Then when we walked up and I pointed them out, he said, "Oh, the geysers. Yeah, I want to play in the geysers!" :)They had a lot of fun, especially putting their shoes in the middle of the fountain, just to watch them shoot up to the top and linger there before falling. I consider the task of letting summer go out with a bang a success!

I was glad that we had taken the opportunity to play in the water this morning. I had been thinking I would take them swimming in Mrs. Debbie's pool after Joey woke up from his nap...but on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year - 108 degrees here - it was too hot to even go swimming. So instead of swimming, I did some work for my class, and we told Conner's summer mohawk goodbye.
And then we fed the boys dinner, bathed them, read to them, and had them all asleep by about 8:00. Tomorrow's a big day...goodbye Summer 2010, along with all of your craziness - but not the memories!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Little Swimmers

It is simply amazing to me as I watch my kids swimming today, to think about how far they've come over the summer.

When we started swim lessons back in June, Conner could swim okay, but I certainly would never just turn him loose in the deep end of a pool. Micah could get around all over the place with his puddle jumpers life jacket on, but don't you even think about getting his face a little bit wet. And Joey didn't really want to get in the water at all.

Then we spent a day swimming at the BRiCk, with Joey in his puddle jumper. Apparently, he learned to trust it during those couple of hours, as he played around in the (to him) waist deep water. Because the next day when we got into Mrs. Debbie's pool, Joey spent an entire hour jumping in, popping up out of the water with a huge smile on his face, swimming to the steps (kicking his feet and moving his arms like he was learning in swim lessons), climbing out, and doing it all over again. And over and over and over and over again. He slept good that night (and more than filled up his pull-up - he must have drinken about a gallon of water everytime he jumped in!) The transformation in a day was just incredible. Since then he's slowed down on the jumping in over and over again...but he's definitely mastered swimming with his puddle jumper on. I don't worry about him much as long as he's wearing it. He's had lots and lots of fun in the pool this summer, and it's been nice to not have to worry about him so much.

Conner learned a little bit in his swim lessons, but really more than anything, I think it's all the practice he's gotten this summer that has helped him improve. Nowadays we don't see his head in the pool a whole lot, instead we see his feet as he's going under to get his diving toys. I don't worry about him just a whole lot, either. He swims all over the pool, even in the deep end, and does great. I wouldn't turn him loose in a big public pool yet, I'm not real sure about his endurance (or common sense on knowing when he's tired and needs to take a break), but in Mrs. Debbie's backyard pool he's become quite the little fish.

We hadn't seen much change in Micah though...until yesterday. He asked for a pair of goggles and suddenly began trying to look underwater. He quickly became frustrated though, because he kept getting water in his nose. So I showed him how to hold his nose...and suddenly he was swimming all around Mrs. Debbie's little hot tub - but he didn't know it. And there was no convincing him of it. :)

Still, his confidence was increasing, and he asked if he could play on the steps in the big pool. We said sure, and knowing how quickly the water begins to get deep, let him play but watched him very closely. And sure enough, he got busy looking at the floor of the pool, lost track of where he was, and suddenly couldn't touch the bottom any more. He panicked, began kicking his feet and waving his hands, and before I could get to him, he had swam his little self to the side. It was thrilling and scary all at the same time. And the great thing was, after he had a minute to calm himself down and realized what had happened, he was convinced that he could swim, too!

It takes a few minutes of playing around in the smaller hot tub each time, but eventually Micah builds his confidence back up, and will swim to Bret or to the wall of the pool now days. We knew he could do it all summer, we were just patiently waiting for him to convince himself of that. Once again, the transformation has been pretty incredible. And, as if we needed to add any other skills learned to this already impressive set, there's still another. Uncle Adam swam with us a couple of weeks ago...and he and Daddy introduced the boys to chicken fighting. Great. It makes mom a little nervous...but they had a great time. It is such a joy to be able to watch these boys grow up and get strong and learn. It's been a long and hard summer, but I'm thankful that I got to spend so much time with them and doing just that. I was amazed at how much the boys learned in swim lessons and in the pool last year, and barely dared to hope to get the same results. Now, after another amazing summer, I think I'm gonna dare to hope the same for next year. Conner, Micah, and Josiah, I am so proud of you!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spotty, Phineas Fish, Mr. Gold - I Mean The Golden Retriever, and the Late Mr. Red

Earlier in the summer, Conner told me that he really, really, really wanted a pet fish for his seventh birthday coming up. I immediately picked up the phone and let him call Poppy. Poppy is a bit of an expert on fish and aquariums...and Bret and I are not. We knew that Poppy would set him up with exactly what he needed to get started.

So for the rest of the summer, Conner has been living in suspense, wondering if he would get any fish for his birthday or not. He helped me clear out a great little spot on his desk so he'd be ready, "just in case" he got some.

When he woke up this morning, he knew today was the day he'd find out. Gammie and Poppy were on their was here to play putt-putt with us and celebrate Conner's birthday. (Read more about that here.) And of course, he was not disappointed. He got to open a big box containing an aquarium right off. Then he opened a few more fish supplies presents, we got the tank set up, we went to play putt putt, and finally we were off to the pet store.

I only have one picture of Conner looking at the fish, and sadly, no pictures of him proudly holding a little bag with fish swimming inside. We were told that it was against the (un-named) pet store's policy for photographs to be taken inside the store. We never did get a good reason for why...but that's what we were told. When they told us that though, I already had one. And I'm not deleting it. So here's Conner shopping for his first fish:

That kind of makes me feel like sticking my tongue out and saying, "Nana Nana Boo Boo." :)

Conner really did some good shopping. He read the names of all of the fish, Poppy helped him know if the tank he had gotten was big enough for them (it's a kind of small tank for a kind of small kid in a kind of small room in a kind of small house)...and we ended up with a Red Mickey Mouse Platy, a Gold Mickey Mouse Platy, and a Dalmation Molly.

If you're like me, you just said, "A Mickey Mouse fish? What's that? It's a little fish that actually has little spots on its tail that look like Mickey Mouse.

What a perfect fish for a kid! Conner was very careful with his bag of fish. He let them ride in the basket until we were out of the store, then carried it with both hands through the parking lot, and let it sit in his lap on the way home. And as we drove home, Conner was very sweet to explain to the fish that they were his now. He would be taking care of them at his house, and he was going to make sure that they had everything that they needed.

When we got home, the tank had already been put together and filled up with treated water, so that it could be room temperature. As Poppy had taught him, he set his bag of fish in the aquarium water for a little while so that they could acclimate.

He was so sweet, he sat in his room and watched them and talked to them for the whole twenty minutes of acclimation. As he watched them, he began to become a bit concerned. Spotty (the Dalmation Molly) seemed to be picking on Mr. Red and Mr. Gold (the Mickey Mouse platys). He was right. Spotty was definitely being a bully. And upon closer inspection we learned that Mr. Red really didn't seem to be looking too good. And by the time the acclimation was over and the fish were realeased from the bag, it became obvious why Spotty was picking on Mr. Red.
That's Mr. Red laying there on his side on the gravel. He was barely alive at this point. Conner was beside himself. After so much talk about needing to be responsible, that it was his job to make sure that his fish had everything they needed so that they could be healthy...in tears, "But I took really good care of them. I didn't shake the bag like in Nemo. I don't know what I did wrong. Poor Mr. Red! This is the worst birthday ever!" It was pathetic, I'm tearing up now just remembering.

But after we explained to him that sometimes fish are alrady sick in the pet store, and that this wasn't his fault, he seemed to be a little better. And when we explained to him that it happens so much that the pet store had even given us a 14 day guarantee, and that we'd go get him another one in a little while, he was better.

We ate our cake, and Conner decided that he needed to share half of his cake with Mr. Gold and Spotty. Knowing that only fish food goes into the aquarium, not people food, he just put their piece next to the aquarium so that they could enjoy it by just looking at it. :)So after cake, and after Gammie and Poppy left, Bret took Conner back to the pet store. He came home with another Red Mickey Mouse Platy, this time named Phineas Fish. (As in the Disney's show Phineas and Ferb - Phineas has red hair.) And somewhere along the way, Mr. Gold's name was changed to The Golden Retriever - sung like "The Masked Retriever" on an episode of the Backyardigans. I'm not sure yet if we'll have to sing his name everytime we say it. That could get old. :)

We were all relieved when Phineas Fish made it through the acclimation process, and even had a little snack. A little later when it was bedtime, the boys decided to use the light of the aquarium as a nightlight, and lay down where they could watch Spotty, Phineas Fish, and (hear me singing) The Golden Retriever swim as they went to sleep.

Thanks Gammie and Poppy! And thank you Bret, for being willing to take the lead on being the fish-taker-career-of parent. Hopefully they'll all make it through the night...

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Conner's Almost-Birthday Party

Conner's birthday is on Tuesday...but the celebration has already begun! Usually, instead of having one party that's so big and crazy that I don't enjoy it or even know what's going on, we just have two little family parties - one with Bret's family and one with my family. And today Gammie and Poppy came to party with us.

Last spring sometime, Bret took Conner and Micah to play putt-putt for the first time. They had a blast - so much so that Conner declared then that he wanted to do that for his birthday...and three or four months later, in the 104 degree heat, that's what we did.

But, because of the special present that Conner had asked for back at the beginning of the summer, we had to open presents first. And, drumroll please...he got a fish tank! As soon as Conner started talking about wanting a fish for his birthday, we knew Poppy was the one to ask. He's quite the expert on fish and aquariums. We knew he would get Conner set up with exactly what he needed. Can you tell that Conner's excited? :)

He opened a few more presents - gravel for the tank, some water drops, some fish food...and then was promised a trip to the pet store after we played putt putt. And then all three boys got some bouncy balls, with little bugs in them!

But, before we could play putt putt or go to the pet store, the aquarium had to be set up. It had to be put together, the gravel had to be washed, and the water had to be treated and given a chance to get to room temperature. And in the process, Conner was taught many of the ins and outs of being a fish owner. (Isn't Poppy great?!)

Then we were off to lunch at Subway, followed by putt-putt. It was really hot, but we had fun. (Thank you Bret, for packing the ice chest with water and lugging it around!) Conner was quite the expert, making sure we knew where each hole was, and what the obstacles were. Micah actually hit several really good shots. This was Joey's first go at putt-putt. (Yes, rubber boots were his choice of shoe for the occassion!) He quickly figured out that the stick was to hit the ball with, and after a couple of lessons on how to hold it right, he decided that was for the birds. He ended up just walking around, laying his ball wherever he wanted, and swinging his putter with one hand until it hit the ball somewhere.
Conner really, really, really wanted to play 40 holes of putt-putt today. But after the first 18, we went in to cool off, got a cup full of nickels for the nickel arcade...and I think he kind of forgot about putt-putt. :)
Bret came through for the boys and hit the jackpot on one of the games, so they each ended up with a couple hundred tickets to "spend" at the prize counter.
Two punching balloons, a whoopee cushion, and six plastic snakes later, we were off to the pet store. You can read more about that here. (The fish have ended up being an entire story on their own.)

Once we got home from the pet store and got the fish taken care of, it was time for cake. Conner and I had talked about making some really cute gold fish bowl cupcakes, but when we went to WalMart to choose a cake for his real birthday, the cupcakes became old news. He wanted a Star Wars cake. But they didn't have what they needed to make one of those...and so we ended up with a dinosaur cake, complete with a volcano. (I think this choice was probably influenced by the Land of the Dinosaurs experience...)

When I opened the box, I immediately saw that the volcano didn't have any lava in it like the picture had shown. Since that was one of the main reasons Conner had chosen this cake, we couldn't let him see the lava-less volcano! A little strawberry jelly and a couple of minutes later, we were set:

And it worked! He was very pleased with the volcano, especially when we put all seven candles inside of it so that there would be fire coming out. :) Then we started singing happy birthday, and as excited as he was about the huge flame coming out of the volcano, somewhere along the way he decided to let Joey blow his candles out. But the flame ended up being so big that Joey needed a little bit of help from his big brother anyway, so it all worked out in the end.
We ate our cake and ice cream, and Conner, being the good fish owner that he already is, decided to set half of his piece by his fish so that they could enjoy it, too. (We had already made a big deal about telling him that only fish food could go in the tank, not people food.) And then the party was pretty much over. Gammie and Poppy left, and Bret took Conner back to the pet store. (Ya gotta read about the fish!) When it was bedtime, the boys decided to lay down where they could watch Conner's new pets as they went to sleep. :)
What a great, fun, wonderful day. Thank you, thank you Gammie and Poppy for sharing it with us and making it happen! Poppy, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and taking the time to teach Conner. This will be a birthday that he will remember for a long time, I think.post signature