I’d like to introduce you to a new member of our family:

This is Sameer.

He is our Muslim betta fish.

“How,” you might ask “did you acquire such an attractive Muslim betta fish?”

Well, there’s a story to it, you see…

We’ve lived across the street from one of Lolly’s close friends Kadri for years now. Kadri is from Washington (and, true story, went to high school with Mackelmore) but her husband and his family are from Syria. They are Muslim, which basically means that playdates between their son Sabah and our Viva (who are the same age) often transform into complex religious explorations involving debates like “Is there, in fact, a Santa?” and “Will there be TV in heaven?” and “Is Allah the same as Heavenly Father?” as they swing together at the park.

Our favorite story was once, before we knew Kadri well, Sabah came over for a co-op preschool with several other kids in our LDS ward. During the course of the class, Sabah noticed a picture of Jesus on the wall and Lolly overheard him ask the other kids “Hey, who is that?” Lolly froze. She imagined Sabah going home afterward and saying “We learned about Jesus in preschool today!” and that Kadri might think we were using this preschool co-op as some kind of awkward, horribly deceptive proselyting attempt.

Just then, another boy chimed in. “That’s Jesus. He’s just a guy that goes to our church.”

Whew. And also: hilarious.

(Side note: Muslims have a great respect for Jesus, so we weren’t concerned that Jesus was being mentioned as much as that it might look like we were trying to indoctrinate under the guise of a “pre-school…”)

Sadly, Kadri and her family are moving because her husband finished grad school and has found a job in another state. We’re going to miss their family a lot! But the other day Kadri called with a question.

Kadri: Hey, do you think your girls would like to adopt our betta fish?

Lolly: Sure!

Kadri: You can change his name if you want.

Lolly: What’s his name?

Kadri: Well, it’s Sameer. Spelled S-a-m-e-e-r.

Lolly: We’ll totally keep his name!

Kadri: Okay, cool.

Lolly: And don’t worry. We’ll let him keep his religion as well.

Kadri: *laughs*

We figure it’s the right thing to do. Especially since Felix and Alex, our unisex (aka we don’t know their genders–in fact, they might even be gay) parakeets are Catholic. They hail from South America. Well, actually, they hail from a pet store, but we’re pretty sure they hail from South America originally.

They really, really love each other.

I think we can all agree that even though (and indeed, because) we come from a mixed-faith household, we all owe a debt of gratitude to this great nation of ours.

So the humans of our home, as well as Sameer the Muslim betta fish, and Felix and Alex the gay Catholic parakeets want to say:

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!!