We bought and set up our fish tank nearly eight years ago. The beginning was rough. We went through a lot of fish during the first few weeks. Eventually, they started to thrive enough to build our confidence and we stuck with it, replacing any fish we occasionally lost. (That’s how we ended up with puffer fish and a short-lived second tank. Oh, thank goodness we held on to that second tank.)

Monster was our longest and most industrious resident. He’d lived in the tank around six years. And he was nearly 9 inches long at his death, thanks to all that algae eating he did. Maintaining the fish tank had always been a big job and after he died, it became really overwhelming, even with his tiny replacement, Monster, Jr. bottom-feeding his best. So, I decided to stop replacing the fish when they died with the plan that once the last one expired, the tank would go away. But our population held strong at four fish – two catfish, one pink tetra, and Monster, Jr. – for about two years.

One day over the summer, Jack saw me clean the fish tank. Maybe he’d never really noticed it before, but from that moment, it became his personal mission to explore it. He took every opportunity to get his hands in there. He’d yanked up the bubble stone and knocked over the decorative rock countless times trying to pet the fish. And every time I’d reset the tank and scrub him up, I’d reaffirm my position that once the last fish was gone, so was the tank! I WAS DONE.

As much as I wanted to be free of the fish tank, I never wished for any of the fish to die. But it happened soon enough. A catfish went first. By the time the kids were going back to school, Monster, Jr. had disappeared. We never even found his body. And at the end of September disaster struck.

Aquarium Disaster

Jack added to the tank some toys, snacks, my hairbrush, and we relocated the remaining fish to the our smaller, second tank. Julia and I tried to make the transition smooth, but fish don’t handle stress all that well and a short month later, the final two were gone.

I waited for the weekend to take down the tank. It was bittersweet as I removed the heater, the filter, and the bubble stone. Who knew having a fish tank would be such an adventure? I lifted the decorative rock and tilted it to let the water run out of it’s hollow insides. I gave it a little shake to get the last bit out and PLOP! Monster, Jr. fell into the water. ALIVE.

Monster, Jr. upside with the infamous rock

I screamed, of course, and everyone came running, but I had no words. I just stared, open-mouthed and pointing at the tank. That fish had been inside that rock FOR MORE THAN TWO MONTHS. He survived in there more than an hour OUT OF WATER when I was cleaning the old tank and setting up the new one. IT WAS A MIRACLE. And now, two weeks later, the tank is spotless, the fish is big and lively, and I realize we are never, ever going to get rid of that damn fish tank.

All a Flutter

by Leslie

We love butterflies. We’ve watched ’em grow and let ’em go lots of times. In July, we had the chance to visit a traveling butterfly exhibit and spent some time in a butterfly house.

Julia at the butterfly exhibit

We were able to get a close view of them by offering q-tips dipped in watermelon juice.

Jack and the butterfly

The butterflies landed right on them for a drink.

Phoebe and the butterfly

There were so many different kinds in all colors and sizes.

Lucy and the butterfly

Everyone wanted to catch a Monarch.

Julia and the butterfly

And everyone did.


We also made crafts, had our faces painted, and enjoyed a picnic lunch.

Lucy and her butterfly craft

We will definitely be going back next year.

Bee the Flower


by Leslie

This is Fluffy Ufferton, the most recent addition to our indoor cat gang.

Fluffy Ufferton at the piano with Julia

He loves Julia.

Fluffy Ufferton loves music

He really loves Julia when she plays the piano.

Fluffy Ufferton loves Julia

And she loves him back.

This place has been quiet for 33 days, which is the longest I’ve ever gone without publishing something here. I might have gone longer had I not decided to make heart-shaped Jell-o cookies in six different colors for both Julia and Lucy’s Valentine parties at school.

Jello Cookies for the Valentine Parties

Look at them!

Okay, they don’t look like much, especially compared to Helen’s. (I found the recipe on her blog.) But they tasted great. And they were a lot of work, which is why I’m showing them to you now. They represent an entire day of my life.

Along with the cookies, the girls took the valentines they made for their classmates to school. Lucy made handprint hearts.

Lucy's Handprint Heart Valentines

Julia made origami lollipop hearts.

Julia's Origami Heart Lolipop Valentines

Meanwhile, these two have been sleeping together.

Kitty love

*Remember that song?

Cats of all kinds.

by Leslie

Julia and I don’t have the best track record when it comes to Valentine boxes.

Remember The Unicorn? I don’t even have a picture of last year’s box because it was supposed to be a cat that ended up looking like a bunny and it was at the last minute and the arguing and whining distracted me from capturing that beautiful memory.

This year was much more successful. I did not argue or whine! Mostly, I stayed out of the way and let Julia do it herself. I did give her a deadline (we’re just no good at the last minute stuff), helped her Google for ideas (she liked the Valentine Kitten box from Calling All Sleepyheads), and dug up some supplies. Then she created this:

Julia's Valentine Box

She is exceedingly proud of it.

Meanwhile, I took my favorite picture ever of my real cats Picasso and Holy Guacamole!

Picasso and Holy Guacamole!

I love this picture because it captures so perfectly the dynamic of their relationship which is:

Idiot cats

keep looking »