Archive for the ‘parent’ Category

The short, sacrificial life of a pet fish

March 2nd, 2015

We would have a memorial service for Olivia's three pet goldfish, but we can't find them. They died sometime in the last month, and there is nothing in the tank that even resembles fish carcass.

There might be corpses on the floor around the tank, but her room is a mess and a cursory look yielded nothing so far. One day, I'll be startled by a desiccated fish or two among the piles of crud on the floor.

These fish lasted three whole months. I'm surprised. The last time she had fish, she overfed them, and they polluted to death. This time, she ignored them, and they starved or committed piscine suicide.

I know trusting a seven-year-old with the care of another life is a faulty proposition, but you know that whole thing about teaching responsibility, yadda yadda. To her credit, she was very responsible for weeks.

It's not totally her fault, though. Her grandparents came for their annual snowbird visit from Denmark, and for six weeks, she was kicked out of her room. Since I wasn't entering her room either, I forgot to remind her to feed the fish.

After five weeks, it occurred to me that nobody's been feeding the fish. I know one might assume the residents of the room would oversee the task, but one would assume wrong. They didn't offer and we forgot to ask, so the fish suffered.

I went to check and found one lonely guppy, kind of pale, still hanging in there. Those guppies! Darwinism at its finest!

"Are you done with having fish now? Can I put this guppy in the outside pond?" I asked Olivia. She said yes.

These kid phases are so brief. The poor goldfish who sacrificed their lives so Olivia could satiate her "pet fish" phase.

The next day, I made sure to scoop him out and release him into our yard fishpond. It's a much, much nicer environment for him, with dozens of brethren, partial sun, and lots of hapless bugs to eat. "You deserve this, Buddy," I told the guppy as he swam out of the net.

Of course, my kid's always on a mission to get another pet, and lately the request has been for a puppy or kitten (despite the fact that we have a dog and cat.) If the former fish are any indicator: NO.

Chalkboard paint

February 23rd, 2015

When you walk into my house, there is absolutely no question a child lives there. Other than the fact that most of the time, Olivia's toys are scattered throughout all the common areas and several rooms and bathrooms, we now have a big chalkboard painted on the wall at the entrance.


It's something I've seen on restaurants, offices, and stores, and have been meaning to do... for three years. I got the can of paint immediately after hatching this brilliant idea. It just took me some 1,000 days to crack it open. Ha!

Meya and Olivia breaking in the new chalkboard.

Meya and Olivia breaking in the new chalkboard.

It happened one weekend when my friend Kalei came to visit and then got bored sitting around. Kalei is Type A, needs constant motion, but hates the outdoors.

"Do you want to do some craft project? We can go down to Ben Franklin and find something to make," I suggested.

"Crafts? No!" she rejected.

"Do you want to walk or hike?" I offered.

"No!" she said.

"Do you want to go to the beach or pool?" I said because I was getting desperate.

"Diane. Do you even know me?" she asked.

Then I remembered about the chalkboard wall. "Do you want to help me paint my entrance way with chalkboard paint?" I asked.

Kalei got excited, and that became our afternoon project. Claus supervised and mixed up the paint while we cleaned, taped, sanded, and painted the wall. We thought perhaps he assigned himself the good job as supervisor. I'm grateful to Kalei because if it wasn't for her, I know that we never would have done this.


I felt kind of guilty because Olivia would want to paint with us, but I've learned as a mom that my energy and time is unpredictable, so I have to strike while the iron is hot.

Olivia was out with the babysitter, so I texted the sitter: "The foyer paint is wet. Don't tell Olivia we did this without her. Tell her the Paint Fairy came."

Two coats later, it was done, and it works like a charm. It was covered with chalk drawings within five minutes of me declaring it dry and peeling the tape off.

I thought our family could use it as a little message board (one that doesn't get covered up with clutter or blown away in the breeze) but I see it's found a primary home as an art surface. And that works, too!

Chinese New Year's bottles

February 18th, 2015

For Chinese New Year, Olivia and I made our friends bottles. We bought teensy little bottles, colored sand, twine, and shells at the craft store and made it at home.


It is the perfect project for a seven year old. I don't know about your kids, but mine loses patience and interest very quickly with any kind of detail work, so something that requires just mixing together a few simple ingredients is perfect.


I sometimes bead, so I happened to have little blown-glass sheep charms that I could wire wrap and attach to the outside of the bottle like a charm. This is the part where Olivia abandoned me to do all that tedious work.

Olivia enjoyed putting it together, though I was amused watching her as she started playing with the sand. I gave her a funnel to pour the sand into the bottle, and she experimented all kinds of ways with putting the funnel upside down, or filling the funnel all the way up and stopping and starting the flow of the sand into the bottle. Kid stuff - funny. Table was a little messy after, of course.

My bottle!

My bottle! My charm is a slipper.

The last step involved cutting out little strips of paper. The intention is that you write your new year's wishes on the paper, roll it up, put it in the bottle, and let it serve as a reminder to you all year long to achieve it. Kind of a Western version of a daruma doll.

I got excited about this craft project, so in addition to making mine, I asked Claus if he wanted one. He quickly answered no. Clutter and girly charms are not his thing. Then, Olivia decided she wanted to make one for Daddy, and he was all in. Cute.

So I've got my beautifully decorated new year's bottle, and I'm super excited about the Chinese New Year. 2015 so far has been fantastic, and I have high hopes it will continue through the Asian calendar!

Happy Chinese New Year!

A little tale

February 2nd, 2015

I was walking down the stairs in my house and hand my hand on the railing. My hand rolled over something rubbery like a rubber band, which is an unusual thing to have on such a diagonal surface - though not completely out of the realm of possibility for any house with young children, where all things crazy is possible.

I happened to look down and it was a baby gecko, and I had broken it in half as I rubbed my hand over it. Eew!

Baby gecko tail

Baby gecko tail

The body was discombobulated and trying to gather its senses to run away. The tail was doing that automatic wriggling-distracting-predator thing. I squealed. My daughter came running.

"What is it what is it what is it??!" she asked. I told her what happened. She laughed at my misfortune and called her dad over to come see.

Now, I am not afraid of many insects and reptiles. I have let a seven-inch centipede crawl on my arm before. I don't mind sharing my house with a cane spider. I'm cool with snakes. I will easily pick up a gecko or chameleon and put it outside because I think they're cute.

With etymologist Lee Goff. Centipede is by my wrist.

With etymologist Lee Goff. Centipede is by my wrist.

Close up of centipede.

Close up of centipede.


I have a neuroses about big, flying cockroaches, but that's about it. Oh, and the disembodied tail of the gecko. I do not want to pick that thing up. It's zombie-like. Makes no sense since I have no problem with the whole lizard, but phobias are illogical.

Claus holding the tail.

Claus holding the tail.

I asked Claus to pick it up. He complied but first, rolled his eyes and sighed with disappointment, "This is not what I thought 'getting a little tail' meant."

Houdini dog

January 30th, 2015

I love Inca. I just so love that dog.

We replaced an aging fence in the yard with a cinder block wall. It's lower than the fence, and we thought we designed it high enough to contain a Labrador, but low enough to not look like OCCC.

We were sort of wrong. It is high enough to keep Inca in, but it doesn't take into account her intelligence and determination.

Escape from Ako-traz

Escape from Ako-traz

We have been finding claw marks along the cinder indicating where she jumps repeatedly until she succeeds getting over the wall. It looks a little like a horror movie where people are clawing to get out of some creepy cell. Claus has been putting deterrents up but she just finds new spots on the wall to get out.

We have actually had to get creative to outsmart a dog. We know dogs don't like walking on grates (like sewer grates), so he was looking for some large wire mesh at the store (or hoping we know someone who has an old grate sitting around the yard). He put it horizontally in front of the wall.

The morning after doing this, he observed Inca. She ate her breakfast and then probably started planning her escape by going into the yard. There, she encountered the latest challenge to her freedom.

Claus said she actually sat down and stared at the mesh wire for about two minutes as if contemplating this new hurdle, and perhaps, brainstorming how to overcome it. Two minutes! What focus.

I imagined this in my head and laughed out loud. Inca. What a Houdini. We will have to work to stay on top of this because, while we might have a higher IQ and opposable thumbs, she has all the time in the world to sit around and plot her next move.