Monday, August 22, 2016

Back-to-School Traditions

I'm both sad and excited about this year of school. This little guy

is now a great big 5th grader.
Where has the time gone? On the first day of every school year, Boogs has stood in front of our door. Look at how close he is to reaching the little window on the door. There are days when I wish I could put a brick on his head to keep him from growing up. I am proud of the funny, kind, intelligent, sweet, goofy kid that he is. He is at that in-between stage of being a little kid and a big kid all at the same time. Boogs did let me make him our traditional first-day-of-school lunch based on the book The Kissing Hand. We have done this every year since Kindergarten.
I traced Boogs' hand onto the bread to make his ham & cheese sandwich. You can see his other first day Kissing Hand lunches in last year's post HERE.
When we leave campus after the first day of school, I take Boogs to a bookstore and let him pick out a book. I never can guess what he will choose. Here are pictures of his kindergarten book choice and today's book choice. (Maybe I am feeling this nostalgic because this is his last year of elementary school.)

I like to have loads of family time the last weekend before school starts. This past weekend was no different. Boogs and I went for an early morning walk on a trail near our house. We stopped and looked at all of the signs telling about the caves in the area. The city has put grates over the entrances to keep people from crawling down into them and getting lost or stuck.

We left the trail and headed to a little park to play for a bit before heading back home. We made it home just in time to beat the rain. We went to the movies and saw Pete's Dragon.
The J-boys and their dad (R) invited Boogs over Saturday afternoon to learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons. The boys are so excited. R told me it was a sneaky way to get the boys to do research, reading, math, and maybe a little chemistry. They are planning on meeting once a week to continue the game. When we got back home, we found that my sister had left this on our porch:
Boogs thought it was so neat that she crocheted a dragon for him on the same day he started learning how to play Dungeons and Dragons.  Thanks Aunt M!
Daddy took us to Main Event on Sunday morning. We bowled, went rock climbing, played laser tag, and played video games. We love it when Main Event has their summer fun pass.

After lunch, Boogs asked if he could go home and find a spot to read. He wanted to have a peaceful afternoon/evening to get rested for his first day of school. It is time for our adventures to slow down and settle into the new school year. I already miss our lazy summer days. There are 179 school days left until summer vacation 2017.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Last Bit of Summer

I went back to work this week. It was a busy summer. Last week, Boogs and I enjoyed a few summer outings while my husband joined a new company and went back to work after taking off for ten weeks. I took a picture of him like I do with Boogs on the first day of school. Isn't he cute?
Boogs completed his second week of diving board class. Boogs met his goal of doing an eggroll dive. He LOVES taking this class and I love watching him go off the diving boards again and again.
Every year he looks forward to the last day of class when the coaches throw towels at the kids as the kids jump off the diving boards. It is hard to time it just right to catch the towels.

One day after diving board class, Boogs invited a friend to go with us to the Austin Nature and Science Center. We love going there to examine all sorts of exhibits.
There is a great little trail outside to spend a little time in nature. The last time he stood under that rib cage statue, his head did not come close to reaching it. Boogs still loves being buried in the sand.
I made sure Boogs and his friend brought an extra change of clothes because I knew they would not be able to resist getting in the water.
We love the outdoor man-made creek. It is so much fun to move rocks, to build, and take apart little dams. Boogs tried to see how big of a splash he could make in one of the ponds. The boys were both soaked by the time we had to leave. So glad they had dry clothes.
We had 23 days of 100 degree (or higher) weather this year. Last Friday's temperature reached 105 degrees F (40.5 C). It started raining on Saturday and has been raining since then. The high temperature for the majority of this week has been in the low 80s. What a difference! I am hoping the rain clears up before the students come back to school on Monday.

I can't believe summer is really over. I am looking forward to another great year of teaching and hoping Boogs has a fantastic 5th grade year.

This post is linked to:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Live Aboard Scuba Diving Adventure

I became certified for scuba diving in April of this year. Last Monday, I went to class to receive my certification as an Enriched Air Diver (Nitrox Diver). This means I can use a special mixture of gases in my scuba tank to extend my dive time at depth longer than allowed by the no-decompression limits of air. My husband and I took the Nitrox class together so we could go on a live aboard scuba diving trip. My husband has been a scuba diver for over 20 years.

We booked our trip with The Fling Charters dive boat. You can see a couple of videos about the dive boat by clicking here. We drove to Freeport, Texas on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to board the boat Wednesday evening. The Fling is a 100 foot boat which held 26 divers and 6 crew members for this trip. The Fling takes you out to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary located about 110 miles off the coast. That is a long way out.
I was really nervous about this trip. My husband asked me what my number one fear was for our trip. I told him I could not narrow it down to one thing. There are so many to choose from - lack of experience, diving so deep, getting the bends, being on a boat 110 miles away from help, seasickness, communal living, the tropical depression brewing in the Gulf (named Earl), getting lost, fighting the 4 to 5 foot waves to get back on the boat, running out of air, being attacked by a shark, messing up other people's vacation, and being left at sea (to name a few). He said his only fear was seasickness. I am an inexperienced diver with only 15 dives since I have been certified, with my deepest dive being less than 50 feet. The reefs at Flower Garden Banks start at 60 feet and go down past 100 feet. I do have an adventurous side, so I agreed to go.
The boat loading process started at 7:30 p.m. and was extremely well run. Everyone left their gear on the dock while they went below deck to grab a tag off of a bunk. Your bunk tag number became your number for the trip. You took the tag to the dive master, filled out some paperwork, then brought your gear aboard. Their was a briefing about rules, safety, and crew members before we headed out into open water.
My husband had #9 and I had #10. We only had to share the cabin with one other person. Yay!

My husband and I enjoyed sitting on the top deck to watch the sunset and the stars before heading to bed. The amount of stars you could see were amazing. I saw three shooting stars our first night on the boat. I had to take Dramamine for motion sickness for the 7 hour ride out to Flower Garden Banks. I liked that they planned the long trip out during sleeping hours. It really helped pass the time and cut down on motion sickness.

I woke up around 5 the next morning. The crew served a continental breakfast starting at 5:45 so divers could have a bite to eat before the 7 a.m. dive. Dive Master JT was extremely professional and safety conscious. I really appreciated his demeanor. JT's dive briefings were very clear. I loved his drawings on the whiteboard.
This is what the dive board looked like for the last two dives of the trip.
We lucked into some amazing weather. The tropical depression they were predicting did not cause any high waves in our area. The waves were only about two feet high on our first day of diving. That really helped calm some of my fears. My underwater camera only works to 55 feet, so I did not get the chance to take any underwater photos. My husband bought a GoPro and used it for the first time on this trip. The following pictures are a mix up of photos from all 7 dives we made on Thursday and Friday.
That first step off the boat seemed like a long way down. You plunged underwater, came back up to signal "ok", then you hung on to the yellow rope to follow it to the line attached to the ubolt. JT stressed that divers were to follow the rope and not drop off it before the anchor line because a current could push you way off course. He told us about a diver who dropped down, instead of using the line, and was pushed almost two miles away by a strong current. They had to deploy the dingy to retrieve him. JT does not like deploying that dingy. I used the yellow rope as my life line.

My husband and I did not have any problems while we were diving. I was very anxious during the dives. That caused me to run through my air very quickly. We averaged about 30 minutes a dive. I usually got back on the boat with 500 psi left in my tank. My husband usually came back with 1200 to 1500 psi. Poor him. I told him I could sit out some of the dives so he could go with more experienced divers who would have more bottom time. He said he wanted to dive with me and did not mind the shorter dives. Oh yeah, I did have one problem. My mask got knocked and slid off my head when I was trying to come up the ladder after the third dive. Fortunately, one of the crew members went down and got it for me. That would have really ruined the trip if my mask could not have been recovered.
My husband did not take the GoPro on all of the dives. He mostly shot video and we pulled some pictures off of it.
There were turtles, sand sharks, different kinds of coral & limestone, rays, and lots of different kinds of fish.
The schedule on the boat day 1: continental breakfast, 7am dive, breakfast, 10:00am dive, snack, move the boat, 1:15pm dive, lunch, move the boat, snack, 4pm dive, dinner, 9pm night dive, ice cream sundaes and brownies. We did five dives on Thursday. The weather was perfect for everyone of them.

I did not want to go on the night dive. Just thinking about it scared me. My husband talked me into it after he agreed that we could just go down the rope, touch the bottom, and come right back up. I told him I was not going to let go of the ubolt line at the bottom so I would not get lost in the dark.  I can't believe he puts up with me sometimes. We did go down to 78 feet. I went ahead and let go of the rope. We swam two circles about twenty feet away from the rope. We were able to see a few fish with our lights and then we came back up to the surface. Our night dive was only 24 minutes long, but I did it. After the night dive, we sat on the top deck stargazing in the beanbag chairs. It was really relaxing.
During the night they moved the boat to a different part of the reef. The weather started to turn a bit and the boat was really rocking. I am so glad I had a supply of Dramamine. I went up to the upper deck to watch the sunrise.

As they sun came up, I could see storm clouds off in the distance on three sides of the boat. The water looked pretty choppy.

I decided not to go on the Friday morning 7am dive. I was worried I would have too much trouble trying to get up the ladder back onto the boat at then end of the dive. I asked a group of three divers if my husband could tag along with them since I wasn't going. They were happy to buddy up with him. He was still able to go on the 7am dive and had a good time.

The weather cleared up a bit and the waves were back down to 2 - 3 feet so I went on the 10am dive. It was the last dive of the trip. I am glad I was brave enough to do six deep-water dives in two days.

It took about 5 hours to get back to the dock after the 10am dive. My husband and I found ways to keep busy. We had a message in a bottle kit that we received as a Christmas present. My husband came up with the message and then we tossed it overboard.
He ended up taking a three hour nap. I slept for about an hour, chatted with the other divers, and then read a book for a couple of hours.

It felt like we were gone from home for a really long time when it was only 2 1/2 days.
 I have to admit, I was happy to see the dock and get on solid ground for the ride home.
Thanks Sweetie for taking me on an adventure of a lifetime!!!

First Week of August

Whew! The first week of August was certainly a busy week for our family. Boogs started a two week diving board class on Monday the first. This is his 5th year taking this diving board class and he loves it!!! Every year, he takes the class with his friends Z & E. Last year they complained that they did not get enough diving time. This year we signed them up for two hours of classes each day for two weeks. They are very happy with the extra diving board time. Boogs does not feel like he has truly experienced summer until he has had his two weeks of diving board class.
On Monday, they spent the class getting used to diving again. Then we went to the park to play for a while.
By Tuesday, Boogs was comfortable enough to start working on his high dive skills. He said he is going to focus on keeping his feet together better.
He also spent time with Coach Will working on his back dive.
He got the hang of it pretty quickly.
Click photo to enlarge
By Wednesday, Boogs high dive was looking much better. Boogs told me his goal is to do an eggroll dive by the end of the week.
After diving board class and playground time on Monday, Boogs had a babysitter. My husband and I went to a class to get certified for scuba diving with a Nitrox tank. 

After diving board class on Tuesday, we went out to lunch with Z & E. Then Boogs had to hang out in the lobby of a lawyer's office while my husband and I had our wills made and signed. My husband and I were leaving on a scuba diving trip on Wednesday, so we wanted to be sure Boogs would be taken care of if something happened to us.

We took Boogs to diving board class on Wednesday and watched his first hour of diving. Then, my husband and I got in the car to head to the Gulf of Mexico for our next diving adventure on a live-aboard dive boat. Boogs spent the night with Z & E and then went with them to diving board class the next morning. On Thursday, my parents went to watch Boogs dive. They took him home with them after class. They sent me a couple of pictures of their hike into Longhorn Caverns. They kept Boogs until we returned late Friday night. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Click HERE to view the post about our scuba trip.

This post is linked to:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill