Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two new friends

Sometimes things go from "oh, I'll wait to blog about that" to "done" too quickly to keep track.

Let's back up.  A thousand years ago (or maybe just 2) Katie earned herself a much coveted fairy garden.  (See here)  The garden lived outside for that summer and had many fairy visitors who left flower petals, acorn caps, evergreen-stem brooms, and other oddities lying about on occasion.  It was then left out far too late into the fall and died.

This past summer Katie revived it and filled it with new plants, and it was, again, a collecting place of nighttime fairy socialization.  When fall came, we debugged it and moved it up to Katie's room.

Now enter the pets.  Every time we went to a pet store, Katie would stop and coo over the female betta fish until I hauled her away.  This fall, she had saved up enough money from various chores and gifts to afford a fish, the tank, the food, and some tank decor and I was out of excuses.  So Pearl -- an all-white female--came to live in the fairy garden.  Katie adored her and spent several minutes each morning and evening checking on her, talking to her, drawing pictures of her, and fussing over her feeding days.  Unfortunately, our house is draftier and chillier than we gave it credit for, and Pearl died one morning just a few months after we brought her home.  Katie was devastated.  We buried Pearl in the garden and marked it with a sea-shell and put the tank away for awhile.

Jorge, of course, was absolutely dying of envy every moment of every day.  Even when Pearl died, he was jealous of the attention and concern Katie got.  It's so hard to be 18 months younger.  He begged for a fish and had more than enough money to buy one, but I pointed out that August shares his room [August + fish tank - constant supervision] = disaster.  We spent months trying to figure out how we could make that work.

Finally, this past weekend, I took Katie and Jorge to a pet store.  I wanted to find a little bigger tank that could accommodate a heater and maintain a better temperature consistently in Katie's window-sill garden.  Then we checked the wall of Betta fish and fell in love with our new friends.

I'd like to introduce Shimmer (a white/red veil-tail female) and Rocky (last name: Balbetta) (a gray/blue/brown double-tail male).

Rocky Balbetta

For now, Rocky lives in the kitchen in a full gallon bowl, so he's not much more trouble than a gallon of water just sitting out.  He's a very cuddly fish--that's right, cuddly--and prefers to snuggle into the leaves most of the time.  Eventually, when August is fully out of diapers and we can remove all the diaper related things from the dresser top, we'll move Rocky's bowl to the boys' room.  That excuse should buy us another month (at least) and let the novelty wear off.

Shimmer lives here, in Katie's fairy garden.  There is a winding path leading to the tank viewing area and also over to a relaxing spot under the trees.  Shimmer seems to enjoy the view, too.  (She overlooks Pearl's grave.  You can't have it all.)

The fairies were apparently quite happy to have a fishy-friend back and left a welcome sign for her.  Katie was thrilled and left an introductory note: "This is Shimer.  Thank you."

Katie is obviously a little less in love with Shimmer than she was with Pearl.  It's hard to see her guarding herself after the full-hearted love she poured out for Pearl.  All part of growing up, but never easy.

August is wildly in love with both fish but especially Rocky.  He can be distracted away from anything he thinks he needs to be doing by offering to go check on Rocky.  And then he sits and chortles away as he watches Rocky huddle in a leafy hide-out and stare back.

For our part, they don't add to the hair, don't wake anyone up at night, and the kids can handle the weekly tank maintenance, so they're just about perfect.


  1. What exactly does weekly tank maintenance consist of at your house?


    1. The weekly maintenance is to use a dedicated turkey baster to remove about 75% of the water with a focus on the stones. That goes into a container and used to water the plants (Katie just squirts hers directly into the fairy garden). Then they refill it with a pitcher of room-temp-ish water that has been sitting out for the 20 minutes or so it took to empty the old water. I may encourage them to use a paper towel to lightly wipe down the walls of the tanks occasionally but so far we haven't noticed a need for that.

    2. Clever! Much easier than transferring out the fish. Thanks for the idea!

  2. I loved this comment on my blog. Thank you! There is the perfect space for this under Ari's bed.