Buddy, the leopard gecko joins the family. 

This little guy joined our family on Sunday afternoon. Mario has been begging for a gecko for months. We considered one as a Christmas present but then decided against it because Mario didn’t plead and beg for it the week before Christmas. But then Mario broke his arm on New Year’s Eve; and he had nothing better to do than to dream about getting a new pet. 

He’d been talking about killing off his two fish for a year (we had told him in the past that he didn’t need a new pet because he had pet fish). Ri finally had heard enough and adopted his fish so she didn’t have to fret for their lives any longer. Now she has four fish swimming around in her room (Jon is known to pull up a chair in her room and watch them). 

So between the broken arm, the fish adoption into Ri’s room, and Jon and mine’s inability to say “no”, we ended up at the Captive Bred Pets Store after Maria’s basketball game on Sunday. The store is tucked away off Morse Road and houses a ton of reptiles, mostly big ol’ snakes. The dude (and yes, he was all “dude”) working at the front desk got peppered by questions from Mario. 

“Where’s your leopard geckos? Do you have their supplies? How many do you have?”

The dude shook his head and mumbled “we don’t have any of those geckos right now.”

Mario was devastated and holding back the tears. Maria immediately turned to me and fought for her brother.

“We need to find another store to buy Mario’s gecko. We can’t go home until he has one.”

I, on the other hand, felt blessed. Oh well, we tried, Mario. Now let’s head home and stare at the fish and be content with Rocco…. Well, not exactly. Jon and I both looked at Mario’s sweet face and knew we’d need to go someplace else.

So we hit Petland. Others had warned us not to go there to buy a gecko. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Mario ran to the gecko aquarium and Ri got a manager to help us. Mario picked up a few of them and then landed on his favorite. He affirmed that the one he was holding so gently was the one he wanted. 

We bought all the accessories and the live crickets and mealworms (not as gross as you’d think) and we’re off to the house to introduce the gecko to Grandview. Mario still had not chosen a name when we arrived home. I had fought for Clem after my grandpa but he nixed it. Ri mentioned a few but he didn’t like hers either.

Jon had to go back to the pet store because we had gotten the wrong size heat pad. This caused severe worry with Mario who was worried that his gecko would get too cold. Maria ran around to get blankets to wrap his box in while we waited for Jon. I went downstairs to get some water and when I returned, I learned our gecko’s name was Buddy. Maria informed me that Mario kept calling it “little buddy” when he picked it up or petted it so she suggested he just call it “Buddy.” Mario liked the idea and hence Buddy was its name. 

Jon arrived home and got the heating pad under the aquarium. He and Mario prepared the sand and vermiculite and housing quarters for Buddy. When they were finished, I was beckoned to Mario’s room. There stood Mario proud as a new papa letting Buddy climb all over him.

I couldn’t get over how personable Buddy was with us. He just climbed all over Mario and then sat in Mario’s palm and let Mario pet him. Maria begged to hold him and Mario finally relented. Buddy was just as good with her. He climbed up her leg and chilled on her arm while she stroked his skin. He won over our hearts by night’s end. Jon and I find ourselves checking in on Buddy as well as the kids before we go to bed at night.

And Mario is just precious watching over him in the morning and evening. He talks to him every morning before school and gets him out to play. He runs home from school to fetch him and say hello. We had to tell him that he still needed to pay attention to Rocco who felt a bit left out last night when the kids pushed him out of Mario’s room so they could get Buddy out. But Mario quickly explained to Rocco that he loves him just as much as he always has, it’s just that “he has to welcome Buddy to our house since he’s so new.”

Rocco understood, we are sure.

Hamsters, pups, oh my…


I could offer Maria and Mario a round trip vacation to the Bahamas, a trip to Disney, or a new bike, and they’d still pick a trip to Petland over all of them. They have loved that store since they were toddlers. They find so much joy when they walk in the door between the dwarf hamsters (Mario’s favorite), the pups (Ri’s favorite), kittens, bunnies, and gerbils. We made a trip up there on Sunday morning because we had to buy party supplies for Sarah’s shower at Party City, which is right next door. Ri has a future in party planning, for sure. She worked on invites at the house and when we got to Party City she immediately moved to the decorations aisle to coordinate themes. We would have spent $500 on decor if she had her way. She couldn’t stop herself: “this is adorable; we need these steamers; these games are a must….” Meanwhile, Mario found himself some killer gold glasses. He wanted gold glitter to spray in his hair but I refused.

A piece of bubble gum made up for the glitter. We delivered our bundle of party goods to the car and headed into Petland. Ri darted for the pups and Mario rushed to the dwarf hamsters. He yelled for me to come over to him “mom, there are six of them and they are sooo cute!” He could stand there all day and pick them up, put them in their wheel, pick them up again, put them in their wheel again….I was tempted to buy one but realized I was reliving my childhood and my love for hamsters (supposedly I was allergic and therefore had to give away my hamster after days of nurturing it, and yes, there were years of counseling over that). But now that I’m the one that would have to clean the cage, I don’t have as much of a desire for one. I told Mario he already had fish to love. His response: “As soon as my fish die, I want this hamster.”

Those fish of his need to watch out. Ri found herself a little chow puppy and loved on it. However, when I commented on how cute it was, she promptly replied “not half as cute as our Rocco.” She is loyal to the bone.
She and Mario had a blast with the pups. One little sprite fella wouldn’t stop biting Mario’s shoelaces and jeans. Mario loved it and purposely darted all over the space to play with it. He was belly laughing so hard I thought he’d hyper-ventilate.

It’s great to know that we can find so much happiness in such a tangible trip. And one day, when fish have traveled to another place, we may have a hamster in the house.>