Ben Lobaugh Online

I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail

Clara's First Birthday

What My One Year Old Teaches Us About Reaching Our Dreams

Today more than two dozen friends and family gathered from all across the United States and even across the international border to celebrate the first birthday of my beautiful little daughter Clara.

As I pause to reflect on this last year of my life I feel myself a bit overwhelmed. They say having a baby is a massive change in life, and it could not be any truer. A year and nine months ago, my wife and I were on a sailing trip to the San Juan Islands of Washington state. The two-week vacation was just what we needed after two intense years. Alix had just finished her master’s program, and I was working a soul-crushing job to support us.

During that sailing trip, we had time to decompress and talk our short and long term dreams. The trip also coincided with our anniversary. We brought a bottle of wine along to celebrate. My wife is an extremely lightweight drinker, even just two sips of wine and she’s a goner! I am not kidding, anybody who knows her will vouch for that! After hiking one of the gorgeous San Juan Islands, and taking an icy cold swim in Puget sound, we settled into the cockpit of our sailboat for the evening and popped open the bottle, to celebrate our anniversary. I had only a couple of glasses, but Alix finished the bottle herself!! It was usual, but we did not think too much of it at the time. A couple days later as we made our way home Alix laid inside the cabin for the entire seven-hour trip, with what I assumed was a slight case of seasickness. A few days later she asked me to get a pregnancy test. I thought she was joking, but multiple tests were positive!

This was not part of the plan! We wanted kids, but our dream was to be more established in my real estate investing, and her new teaching career.

Clara was born on April 20, 2019. A beautiful and healthy little bundle of joy.

Our plans had been derailed, but for the moment I did not care. Watching Clara’s change week by week has to be one of the most incredible things that I have ever seen in my life. After a few months, she tried to stand by pulling herself up using a support, but she fell right back on her rear. She fell a lot, but every time she got right back up for another attempt.

Her perseverance inspired me. She never admitted defeat! Failure was not an option.

Failure was not even in her vocabulary.

Over and over she would attempt to stand up and fall, then attempt to stand up again. To her, falling was a minor bump on the road toward achieving her goal of standing.

Clara got me thinking a lot about my life and the excuses I make when it does not seem like something is going as well as I wanted to.

I have mentored and coached many people, and I see this common thread amongst the most successful- they never give up. Falling down is just a speed bump in their journey. Those that do not pick themselves up are never able to gain momentum toward their dream.

John Maxwell has said that a steam locomotive without momentum cannot push through a brick wall, however, if that brick wall is simply in the path as it is steaming down the rails toward its destination, it will smash through it with only a minor shutter, and continue on toward its goal. I saw that lived out in front of me every day for the last year.

Sometimes our plans in life take years to come to fruition. I’ve been around long enough to see the cycle play out several times, but seeing my child developing new skills every week drove it home on a much more compressed timeline.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. Whatever your dreams are, you need to be setting your sights solidly on them and believe in yourself. Power up your steam locomotive and burst through those brick walls. You will encounter setbacks along the way, but they are only bumps along the journey to reaching your dream. I believe you have what it takes. I know you have what it takes. If you will simply grab on and pull yourself back up when you fall then you can achieve your dreams and more

Fifth week update on the nano reef tank cleanup

The tank is coming along quite well! The ecosystem seems to have stabilized. I believe that between restructuring the sump, the Aiptasia-X, and a mess of new snails, that the recovery is guaranteed.

With the last update, I mentioned the Aiptasia-X. There are 3 Peppermint Shrimp in the tank and they could not keep up with the rate of spread of the Aiptasia. I dosed the Aips two or three times while they were still populating like bunnies. Since then the numbers have not gone up. The Pepps are not doing an amazing job of eliminating them, but they are not spreading either. It has been a couple of weeks since the last dose. Used it again today and I am not seeing any more Aiptasia.

With the Aiptasia under control, I turned all my attention to the algae infestation. You saw two of the rocks were scrubbed clean last time. That was done outside the tank. Because I could not get the bubble tip anemone off the other rock, I have been scrubbing it in place. While hunting for a cheaper source for snails, I came across Reef Cleaners. At first, I was thrown off by their low prices, but they have tons of great reviews, so I ordered from them. John at Reef Cleaners is great! Top-notch customer service. He even followed through afterward to ask how everything was adjusting.

The new algae crew consists of 2 Turbo Snails, 5 Astrea, 3 Trochus, and 2 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs. Together, they have been able to stem the tide of algae in the tank. I also tried blacking out the tank last weekend, which seemed to help.

This wall had the worst of it!

Water changes are much better also! Before, the water I was pulling out was a dark muddy brown. The last change was nearly transparent.

The Bubble Tip Anemone now looks very healthy and happy. During the day it has been sticking out loud and proud. No more hiding inside the rock. It is good sized too, maybe five inches across.

Oscar, the Emerald Crab has been hamming it up on Instagram. 48 followers in just 13 days! https://www.instagram.com/crabnamedoscar/

All in all, the tank is coming along well!

 

 

Third week update on the nano reef tank cleanup

This week spelled out a lot of change for the saltwater nano reef tank. The transformation has been quite dramatic. Here is how the tank looks today.

Nano Reef Cleanup - week 3

versus how it looked three weeks ago.

Nano Reef Tank Crashed

The two rocks on the right were rinsed in fresh water, and then left to sit for a couple of weeks before a good scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush. I did not know one of them was purple! It is a beautiful vibrant purple.

The rock on the right was cleaned up quite a bit more too. The three peppermint shrimp have not been able to keep up with the Aiptasia blooms, so I picked up some Aiptasia-X to help out. I had been avoiding this product because the process of killing Aiptasia with it is a manual one. It comes with a syringe that is injected into the mouth of the Aiptasia. A cumbersome process. It worked really quickly! I am a fan of Aiptasia-X now.

Here is a photo of the rock before an application of Aiptasia-X, and again a couple hours after.

The Rose Bubble-Tip Anemone is looking happier by the day.

The crab is still my favorite. We named him Oscar, and he now has his own Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/crabnamedoscar/

Found a gnarly Bristle Worm also. Attempted a couple times to catch it, but for now it seems it is determined to remain.

Some more photos around the tank:

Second week update on the nano reef cleanup

Today ends the second week of the new saltwater nano reef tank. Here is the update on the cleanup project.

The tanks started out overgrown with algae an aiptasia. The tank had crashed. Here is a photo of how it started.

Nano Reef Tank Crashed

I am dedicated to bringing this tank back up to snuff and giving it back to my buddy looking like the beautiful reef it should.

I started by removing all three large rocks for cleaning. The rose bubble anemone refused to be moved, so I wound up leaving that rock in. You can see the anemone on the left most rock in the above photo. Leaving that rock in has made the revitalizing of the tank more difficult as I have been unable to simply kill off and scrub it like the other two rocks. Minor speed bump!

Later, I took a good look at the default sump configuration and was not too thrilled with what I saw. The built in sump is convenient, and certainly makes this tank much easier to maintain, but it has not been doing a great job out of the box. There are three chambers, in the first chamber was nothing but water. The second chamber held a highly porous black sponge that contained a tiny bit of activated carbon and even less bio material. Not nearly enough bio material to build the level of beneficial bacteria I would like to see.

For the short term, I need to be collecting junk in the water, which the black sponge cannot do. I pulled that and the carbon out, then dropped the bio material to the bottom of the second chamber. Then I took filter floss and stuffed the second chamber full. The first chamber was still empty. Here is a photo of the water change 2 days after updating the sump. The filter looks whiter than it really is in the photo, it is dark brown.

Yowza! That is some gross water!

Both chambers one and two now are packed with filter floss. More bio media should be arriving shortly, and that will fill most of the second chamber. There are other specialty saltwater gadgets that could be used, but I am attempting to keep this as simple as possible.

The sump pump was also replaced. It had an anemic 80 gph pump in it. Or at least it felt like the same output as my other 80 gph pump. A 200 gph pump replaced it. This provides much better flow that everyone in the tank seems to be enjoying. The water is much cleaner as well.

Onto the critters!

Removing the other rocks helped the stock feel much better. Everyone is more active now, especially the shrimp, which had stayed in one place for the most part. I also picked up some cleanup crew to assist:

  • 10 Trochus snails – general algae eater
  • 3 peppermint shrimp – aiptasia eater
  • Emerald crab – bubble algae eater

The anemone was looking depressed initially. I fed it some brine shrimp and the next day it looked better. I have been feeding it directly every other day and it is looking happier now. It has fully emerged and opened up, and it’s arms are floating up again.

I have been heavily consulting with a couple pro saltwater buddies, Josh and Jordan. Their guidance has been invaluable. Barrier Reef Aquariums has also been critical to the success of this rehab. I highly recommend you check them out if you are in the Seattle area.

Here are some photos of the tank now:

Click on this link to see a video of the Emerald Crab dining on some algae.

Emerald Crab

I was avoiding getting a crab, but since I put this Emerald Crab in the tank she has become my favorite! Fascinating to watch.

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