Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Boy Meet Fish

My daughters and I have been learning about marine animals for the past few weeks in school, so we decided to take a trip to the Denver Aquarium and see the live animals. It was Blake’s first time.

The Denver Aquarium is set up so that you can “follow” the paths of two different rivers. The single, connected path leads you first to the Colorado River, where you are introduced to carp, otters, cat fish, trout, rattle snakes, flash floods, sea turtles, nurse sharks, and many other fish. The second follows a tropical river with tropical fish and a tiger, leading eventually to the “Ocean” where you see sharks, rays, sea horses, star fish, anemones, jelly fish, and more.

Blake was wide eyed from the first tank, and he wanted out of that stroller immediately. (He never got back in.) From one tank to the next, he would run right up to the glass, stop, and stare motionless for minutes at a time, until we pointed to the another tank. He was fascinated. Big fish, little fish, red fish, otters. . . everything caught his eye and held it (including a tree which he ran around and around for a few minutes). Blake, the child who usually runs ahead of everyone, was constantly the last to move on. Only when we stayed too long at the shark tank did he start jumping off of the benches and running in circles.

Oh, the girls enjoyed it too. Sierra remembered the last time we came and was excited to see the tiger again. She got to see it jump into the water right in front of her to get it’s chew toy. At one tank, Bailey saw a neon green eel swimming right behind my head as I was taking pictures. (She thought it was going to get me.) They got to touch a starfish and a sea cucumber, crawl through a “coral cave”, see sea horses, and watch the sharks swim by.

Hardly anyone was at the aquarium that night. We were six of about twenty people (with three of the five kids). We got lots of extra attention because of it. One of the workers, an older gentleman, would often stop and tell us interesting facts about the animals we were looking at as he patrolled the area, back and forth. He seemed to know an awful lot. The girls also got to spend as much time as they wanted touching the starfish and sea cucumber. It was dark though. The aquarium uses a lot of sky lighting, and it was overcast and dark outside. I actually liked it, though it made taking pictures more complicated. It felt more intimate, more real.

When we stepped out to the manta ray pool, the last stop, Blake became fascinated once again. They have the rays swimming around in a shallow pool where you can feed them and “pet” them. Bailey would stretch her hand out, straining to touch one, then pull it back instantly upon contact, afraid it would bite her. Sierra was braver, pulling back only when one started flopping at the edge of the tank right in front of her. But Blake… oh Blake, tried to jump in with the rays and go swimming. My brother barely caught him in time to prevent a spread eagle belly flop. He kept a tight hold on him from then on, though Blake continued to try and swim with the rays. He splashed, touched, grabbed, and did all he could to play with the “fish”. The worker was staring open mouthed at the boy after a while. I guess she’d never seen a kid so exuberant about the manta rays before. Amazingly, we were able to keep him mostly dry.
A toilet stop and a romp through the gift shop later, we were headed home. Definitely a night the kids will remember.

I did it! Sort of.

I did it! I reached my goal of reading an average of a book a week this year! Well . . . that is . . . if you count all of the books that I read more then once.

One of my friends had the great idea of reading a book a week this year, and I thought that I would see if I could do it too. My reading list was nowhere near as ambitious as hers was, but I still had a lot of fun, and read some really good books.

Officially, I only read a total of 48 books, four shy of the required 52. However, if you include all of the books that I read more then once, I read 60. Got that? 60!!!

Here are some of my favorites:

Eat, Drink, and be Healthy
Wuthering Heights
Jane Eyer
The Brothers Karamazov
Pride and Prejudice
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Mara, Daughter of the Nile
Howel's Moving Castle
Twilight (and series)