If you take your Nine-Year-Old to the Shedd Aquarium…

She’ll ask you to take a picture of her by the growth chart, and you will be shocked to discover that your baby is now almost 4 and a half feet tall. 

She’s not even standing up straight. I think she’s trying to spare me the shock of it. (Photo: Shala Howell)

She’ll try to distract you from marveling over her own size by saying the words “Look, Mommyo, these spiders are as big as cats.” And then she will engage you in a spirited discussion about whether or not the word “tiger” belongs in a spider’s name. 

You will both be relieved to finally reach the tanks full of fish, where you will finally remember that you are carrying a camera.

Photo: Shala Howell

There will be lots of pausing as The Nine-Year-Old takes extensive notes. She doesn’t want to forget any of it. Even the bits you’re much happier forgetting all about. Like the fact that there are spiders in the Amazon with “tiger” in their name. 

But finally she’ll move on to the Amphibians exhibit, where you will both marvel at brightly colored itty-bitty frogs…

The yellow frog is actually a Harlequin frog. The others are the dart frogs (Photo: Shala Howell)

Solomon Island leaf frogs…

Solomon Island leaf frog. While writing this post, I just realized for the first time that there are two frogs in this picture. That’s some great camouflage! (Photo: Shala Howell)

Giant toads…

Cane toad. Nine-year-old provided for comparison purposes. (Photo: Shala Howell)

And your first newt…

So that’s a newt! (Photo: Shala Howell)

Well, Mommyo’s first newt. The Nine-Year-Old saw one as a mere Five-Year-Old on a nature hike at Moosehill.   

They’re so cute The Nine-Year-Old wants to adopt one. I’m sure you know where this post is going. 

The Nine-Year-Old, made wary by her previous experience keeping crickets in a house full of cat, “Mommyo, do cats eat newts?” 

That, my dear, is a Caterpickle for another day. Fortunately, because all these photos are about to break my iPad. 

Only two more weeks until I can use a real computer again. 

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