Friday, March 22, 2013

As-tu un animal?

It has been a long hard road, but finally we have made it. Between the children and myself, the many hours of hard work and concentrated effort have paid off. At last. We have chipped away, we have niggled and we have wriggled into any gap that dared to show itself. Indeed on more than one occasion there have been tears. But on Saturday we declared ourselves victors! 

We can now proclaim ourselves to be...........PET OWNERS!  
(The defeated opposition? Daddy!)

Oh, yeah! There's no standing up to the three of us when we band together! And so it was on Saturday morning that we walked into PetCo exchanging high 5's and slapping each other on the back. "Show us your bestest fish!" we announced.

I know, fish? But it's a start and the children are delighted. Once we got passed the quite substantial attitude on display from the shop's staff ("You're not planning on putting fish in that tank today, are you?"), we  had fun picking out just what we wanted.

Never one to do anything by halves, Jodi had done his research and decided on a 29 gallon aquarium, fresh water, no stand, and yes, we know that you have to give the water 24 hours to get up to temperature before you put the fish in. (You're not planning on selling anything to anyone with that attitude today, are you?) We chose a sunken pirate ship, naturally, and a faux log with plenty of hiding places (I told you we'd done some research!) and plenty of pretend plants so we don't have to deal with too much algae build up (See? See? They didn't employ ALL the smart people in this pet shop!) Jodi selected a tank which came with a filter, heater and thermometer so we just needed some food and, eventually (obviously not right now, as the water won't have had time to heat up) some fish.

We set the tank up in the sun room, not in direct sunlight of course, and filled it  with the rinsed gravel, carefully washed ornaments and 'plants' and some of the coldest water I have ever had the misfortune to carry about in a bucket. We took the water from the outside taps meaning it came straight from the well before being messed about with in our complex filter system.  I swear it was 6 thousand degrees below freezing outside and snowing, damn it.

The children and I went back to choose the fish on Monday, which had given the water in the tank plenty of time to get up to an electricity draining 75 degrees F. We were greeted by a lovely sales assistant this time, who gave us her very best information about The Right Fish For Us; Yes, you can have 6 fish in that tank but don't buy them all at once, only buy 2 today. No, you can't buy a sucker fish today, you have to let the algae build up first. No, you don't just feed them once a day, go for twice or three times. No, don't choose Tetras they're not as hardy as the Molly or Platy varieties.

So we took a few minutes to have a look and decide which ones we wanted.

A different sales assistant came over when we looked ready. and had her say; Yes, 6 is a good number, of course you can buy them all today! A sucker fish? Sure! Just get some algae pellets so he's definitely got something to snack on. No, strictly once a day only for food! Molly, Platy or Tetra, they'll all do equally well.   


We did what anyone would do with a bit of background knowledge and conflicting advice: we believed the bits that suited us best. We bought 5 fish; a pair of Dalmatian Mollies, a pair of Sunset Fire Wag Platy, and a sucker fish, mainly because they are pretty (except the sucker fish, nothing pretty going on there). And they all survived the journey home. Phew!

On Thursday, Meg and I went back to PetCo, not to return any dead fish, they're all still eating and pooping in our tank, but to buy a pair for Meg to have as her own. She chose a pair of tiny orange Sunset Fire Platy and named them both Nippy. They too made it into the tank alive, and seem to be flourishing, along with Spit and Spot, and Falcon and Skywalker. Bet you can't guess which fish belong to Finn?! Ole Suckerooni is still hanging out under the log, we think; he's not very social but he hasn't floated to the top yet either ........

The kids are both fascinated by them,  but Finn is particularly pleased. In French lessons, instead of being the only child to say 'Non, je n'ai pas d'animal,' he can now proudly proclaim, 'Oui, J'ai sept poissons!'


It's better than telly!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Independent woman!

My darling daughter! I thought things had gone a bit quiet one afternoon.......when I investigated, this is what I found..........."I'm hungry, Mummy!" by way of explanation.  So I see.

Friday, February 15, 2013

For the love of.......


We took a trip to Washington, DC over New Year and as it is a remarkably long way, we broke up the journey at Hershey, Pennsylvania to soak up some local culture, which just happens to be chocolate!

Hershey, as you may well know, makes these:

But did you know they make them this big? (This one's for you, Mutti!)

There are loads of things to do at Hershey World, educational and otherwise. I'd advise you not to ask Meg about the singing cows on the train ride round the 'factory'. She is still confused about how they were taught to sing and who looks after them while they are working........

We opted to bypass the educational and head straight for the delicious. We donned the appropriate amusing attire and licked our lips in anticipation of designing our own chocolate bars.

It works like this: you choose the chocolate you'd like for the base of the bar, and a selection of chewy and/or crunchy bits to go in the middle, then follow your bar along the conveyor belt as it's put together and covered in milk chocolate before being boxed and wrapped in your own carefully designed packaging.

We only made three as per bar they are quite expensive  - $15 each in fact! Expensive enough for some of us to look quite concerned as we are doing our 'Chocolate Factory' soft shoe shuffle!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Oh Crunch!

I went to my first ice-hockey match at the weekend. That's not strictly true of course,  I have watched a high school match and I have sat through Finn's team 'playing' oh, so many times, but until Saturday I had never experienced a head to head between two professional teams. The Syracuse Crunch were the home side and last week they were facing their nearest big city rivals from Rochester. Two local cities meant lots of fans from both sides and the arena was full.

Ice-hockey is fast. So fast in fact that if you keep your eyes on the player with the puck, as soon as he passes it, the play is lost to you, or to me anyway. I found out very quickly that the best thing to do is keep a broad view of the whole rink, that way you can follow the play as it happens and not spend the whole game two shots behind the puck. Luckily for me we had seats way, way up so it was easy to watch all the ice at once.

There were a few things I had expected to see, I've watched enough American TV to have picked up a few hints, but a couple of things caught me by surprise. Kissing Cam was one. I don't know if this happens anywhere else but it would appear that during this particular phase, if you notice that the big screens are showing you, you must turn to your significant other and....well....kiss. Everyone knows about the music they play at hockey matches whenever anything significant happens, or just, like, all the time, but did you know that groups of the crowd get up and dance like lunatics at this point? Well, they do. Or at least the group of pre-pubescent kids in front of us did. I thing it was mainly a ploy to get the big screen cameras to zoom in on them, and with the amount of unsuitable hip grinding going on it is surprising that they didn't.

The range of reactions from the crowd took me back a little. There was some clapping and cheering from the Rochester fans, (they scored four times), a lot of gasping and groaning from Crunch fans (after about a million shots on goal they scored once), and a seemingly continuous banging together of the inflatable, plastic sausage things. There was one moment, however, when the entire arena errupted: the crowd leapt to their feet,  they roared, they waved their arms, they stamped their feet, and for a few moments nobody left their seats in search of beer and hot dogs. The occasion? Was it the late appearance of the somewhat lacklustre Crunch cheerleaders? No. Did the concession stands announce that they were no longer selling junk food, only veggies and hummus? No. This is what happened.

Two players collided, there was a stick involved somewhere and a whistle was blown. One pushed the other, he pushed back and it was on. Gloves were thrown on the ice, helmets were torn off and flung, and fists were raised. I kid you not, these two immensely well paid, grown up men from the 21st century circled each other with their dukes up. Then they went for it! Proper fighting! At a sports event between people who were quite old enough to know better! Punching and pulling shirts and more punching.......You can see why the crowd was enjoying it so much, can't you? And the funny thing is, if there is anything at all funny about men behaving this way in front all a paying crowd, is that the unwritten 'Code' means that referees don't have to intervene until or unless the players throw each other on the floor, (which is when the sharp blades they have tied to their feet could inflict some serious damage I suppose), or it is deemed that one of the players has taken enough of a beating. Yikes. It is a draw for the sport apparently and many fans go to watch matches purely for this 'entertainment'. Teams even employ 'goons' especially to fight for them (with little or few penalties inflicted) and a number of fights are prearranged. Prearranged fighting! Now do you understand why Americans don't really enjoy soccer?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Christmas.


Jodi found his perfect tree, Finn was delighted that Santa brought him his longed-for hat, and Meg found it all so overwhelming.

Finn proudly played a Wise Man in the pageant, Mummy managed not to cry while the children sang Away in a Manger, and we remembered what Christmas really means.