by MomJovi on July 20, 2014

<taps mic…Is this thing on?>

I’m back from one of my unintended six weeks hiatuses. I just can’t seem to get my crap together lately, huh? One of these days. One of these days.

I’m not sure if you want them or not, but some Costa Rica recaps are coming. Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not. But I’ve got a dream!

As usual, though, the best places to keep up with me lately and my sometimes sitcom-esque life are on Twitter and Instagram. If you follow me on either of those platforms, you’ve likely seen me posting recently about #ProjectTadpole. If not, allow me to enlighten and amaze you with good idea that quickly spiraled out of control.

We’re in the process of putting in a pool in our backyard. Yay! We’ve been in our “starter” home for 11 years now (well officially as of next month). To be honest, we never thought we’d be in our smallish home this long. But the economy combined with some uncertain job times for both of us left us here. In the meantime, our little bedroom community has exploded and now there’s no place we’d rather live in the Central Florida area.

But that also means we’re already priced out of our neighborhood. Frankly, though, we’re not really itching for a bigger house. Our little 1940s era bungalow seems to suit our family of three just fine, except for one big flaw — we only have one not-very-big entertaining area. It’s been OK until now but I’m already looking ahead to the days when E will have friends over and want some level of privacy but still be someplace where we can keep an eye on her. It’s all about preparing for the teenage years. Am I right, parents?

After years of discussion, debate and dreaming, this summer we finally decided to take the plunge. Note to our future selves: starting a pool in June was one of our dumber ideas. If there ever is a next time, this project will be done during the DRY winters. The rain delays are getting really frustrating.

Even though it’s felt like it’s been going on forever, in just six weeks our yard has evolved from an unused blank space to a full-blown construction project with a future.

pre pool yard

pool grid


pool-deep end

pool with fence

I really should go out there and move that red ball, huh?

For about three weeks, the project has mostly been stalled due to rain delays. Some things have still been completed, such as the plumbing and electrical, but we’re still not sure yet when the deck will be done. HOPEFULLY later this week.

The delay has been much appreciated by some species at least — frogs. For about three nights, I felt like I was back in the Costa Rican rainforest. Those damn frogs sang and croaked from dusk til dawn. When we went out to inspect one morning, it was like a Biblical plague — we counted at least a dozen frogs hanging out in the pool. As we were looking at them, I started noticing these huge clouds of black specks around the pool. We’re talking tens of thousands of seed looking things attached to long strings.

“Are those eggs?” I fearfully asked my former environmental studies major husband.

“No, there can’t be that many of them.”

Oh how wrong he was. Within days, our pool was teeming with thousands and thousands of baby tadpoles. At least one of us was thrilled. Who needs a creek?

E fishing for tadpoles

Yeah, do you see those big black areas in the water behind her? Those are schools of tadpoles (are they schools?).

We agreed that she could raise a few of them in a tank in her room. But then she started worrying about what would happen to the other bazillion of them, especially since one of these days, the pool will be drained and cleaned before the bottom finish can be done.

When she learned that most of them would die, well, that was just not acceptable to our animal-obsessed kid. And thus, #ProjectTadpole was born.

E and her father decided to hold a tadpole sale in our front yard. And since we’re in the midst of the worst part of Florida summers, we knew we needed something else to draw people in. At our neighborhood Fourth of July party, our friend had a snocone machine and it was a HUGE hit. So they came up with an idea for the World’s First Snocone/Tadpole Stand** (until someone can prove us wrong).

Sidenote: there’s been a lot of debate in our house over the proper spelling. Is it snowcone (as I maintain), snow cone, snocone or sno-kone? We ordered cups and syrup on Amazon and one place called it sno-kone (which I think is more of a brand) and the other uses snow cone. We came up with a hybrid to settle all debates — snocone.

For the past couple weeks, E and her father have been in full-blown #ProjectTadpole planning and prep mode.

First, they captured three huge containers worth of tadpoles to nurture for the sale.

Project Tadpole

A friend had recently used that mini aquarium to raise their tadpoles to frogs and said it worked great, so that’s what we decided to use for E’s. Plus, it has a lid to contain them for when they reach the end stage — hopping frogs that I’m not really anxious to have jumping around the house.

Our favorite vet (Dr. Google) told us the best thing to feed tadpoles is boiled and chopped lettuce. I hate the taste and smell of lettuce (yes, seriously. And don’t say it doesn’t taste like anything. It tastes like lettuce and it’s gross. Trust me, I’ve spent 30+ years trying to force myself to like it and I give up) so you can imagine how much I’ve enjoyed the smell of hot, boiling lettuce.

Eventually we discovered you can also feed the tadpoles dried seaweed or plant-based fish flakes from the pet store so that’s been MUCH easier. In any event, E’s tadpoles are thriving. They’re growing really big and we’re watching their bodies transform on an almost daily basis.

The first batch of sale tadpoles didn’t fare as well. I think it’s because we were keeping them in the garage. One morning we came out and they were all dead. Oops. Thankfully, we have a steady supply of them. A few days before the sale, we scooped out another big container of them and this time kept them outside in the shade.

The nights leading up to the sale were dedicated to sign making.

Project Tadpole

The night before, I did some promotion on my personal Facebook page because we were (rightly) worried that just seeing Tadpoles/Snocones For Sale probably wouldn’t bring in a lot of foot traffic. Thankfully, I have some suckers, er, I mean awesome people for friends.

Project Tadpole

On the day of the sale, we set up a few signs near our street.

Tadpoles for Sale

Snocones for Sale

We opened up for business at 11:30 and waited for the customers to come streaming in.

Project Tadpole

The biggest boon to our little stand was the fact that we had a crew there working on the pool on Saturday. They were our best and most frequent customers. They were very sweet and kept trying to pay for each snocone but we only let them pay for their first round. After all, they were busting their asses all day on a hot Saturday, so unlimited snocones was the least we could do.

I’m not sure who had more snocones throughout the day, them or E. OK, E. Definitely E.

But our friends also came through in a big way. Most of our customers were friends and even though they’re probably so annoyed with me now about their sudden summer science projects, I think all the kiddos had a really fun time.

Project Tadpole

Hey, we did our part by handing out Tadpole Care Sheets to help make the process as easy as possible. And I’m pretty certain we didn’t even accidentally put a tadpole into a snocone once. Win!

Actually our funniest customers of the day were these two hipsters who I think got lost on their way to Brooklyn. They said they were intrigued by the signs and were hoping for some sort of tadpole infused snocones. They were kidding … I think. But they sure did take a lot of pictures of the set-up and I keep searching IG and Twitter to see what they had to say about it. Somehow no one Yelped the event. Rude.

At the end of the day, E had made about $40. And since we’re such kind parents, we didn’t even require her to give us a cut toward our expenses.

She did awesome though. She was on top of every fulfilling every snocone order and I only had to help her with the math for making change once or twice (but mostly that’s because we have very generous friends who kept insisting they didn’t need change). But in the days leading up to it, she was a part of all the prep work and helped with all the clean-up.

As a reward, I told her she could spend half of the money on toys and the other half went right into her piggy bank, aka her Duke Fund.

And because I was in such a good mood from a successful day of parenting, I didn’t even argue with her when she picked out a Sofia the First tiara set and flying fairy.

Project Tadpole spoils

You can’t win them all. But I also love the chain of events our little lesson in entrepreneurship set off. I’ve already heard from two moms that their kids are scheming up their own stands. There even rumblings of a minnow stand.

And does anyone know if one needs a license to sell grown-up boozy snocones? I’m, um, asking for a friend and not at all because that’s what all of my friends were demanding.

Have you ever had any kind of front-yard stand? This was my first as either a kid or adult and it was a blast. What else can we sell? And does anyone want a tadpole? 


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