Sunday, August 28, 2016

First Week of 5th Grade Lunches

Back to school means that it is time to pack lunches every day. I started packing themed lunches for Boogs on his first day of kindergarten. Now he is in 5th grade. He told me he still appreciates themed lunches "every once in a while". Cool! I get to make cute lunches until he tells me he is too old for them.

I made his first day of school lunch based on the book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. In the book, Chester the raccoon is comforted on his first day of school by his mother. His mother places a kiss in Chester's palm to remind him of her love throughout his first day of school. This story has become a tradition in our house. We read it the night before school begins and then I turn it into a lunch for the first day of school. In the lunchbox: ham & cheese hand sandwich (I traced Boogs hand onto the bread), fruit leather heart, yogurt, berries, and salad with a radish heart.

Boogs lunch for his second day of school was a quick thrown together meal. In the ELB lunchbox: peach slices, carrots, hummus, pistachios, roll, cheese, and salami.

ELB Lunchbox of love: cheese stick, yogurt pretzels (they kind of look like hearts), almond butter & jelly sandwich, raspberries with chocolate chips, and salad with a red pepper heart.

Greek Myths: A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I bought this book last year and put it in Boogs' bookcase. When we were trying to decide what book to read for our bedtime story book last week, Boogs pulled this one off the shelf. In writing this book, Hawthorne tried to make Greek Myths more accessible for children. Boogs was tickled by the descriptive language Hawthorn used and sentences that we could not read in one breath. Here is an example: It is greatly feared that the Three Gray Women were very much in the habit of disturbing their mutual harmony by bickerings of this sort; which was the more pity, as they could not conveniently do without one another, and were evidently intended to be inseparable companions. (Did you just try to read that in one breath? Any luck?)

We still have a few more chapters to go to complete this book so there will probably be a few more Greek Myth lunches next week. 

Boogs enjoyed the story of Perseus' journey to bring the head of Medusa to his king This lunch includes some of the trials Perseus encountered on his journey. In the ELB lunchbox: salad, blueberry darkness, strawberry enchanted wallet, eyeball pick which The Three Gray Women shared amongst themselves, marshmallow with the Three Gray Women, Perseus Cheezit crackers, Babybel Medusa with spinach hair, and Pocky Stick sword.
This is the illustration in the book in which Perseus presents Medusa to his king.

Another myth we read in this book was the story of King Midas and his Golden Touch. King Midas was so greedy that he asked for the power to turn everything he touched into gold. This power did not turn out as wonderful as he hoped it would. In the Easy Lunchbox: salami turned into gold cheese, golden apricots, golden lemon yogurt, Goldfish Crackers, orange slices, and golden yellow pepper flowers on top of salad.

Easy Lunchboxes (also known as ELBs) are my go to lunch box to use when packing lunch. I love the three compartments and the easy open lid. Boogs enjoys being able to see all of his lunch at once. You can purchase ELBs HERE.

You can see over 500 of the story themed lunches I have made my son by clicking HERE to visit My Story Themed Lunches board on Pinterest.

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.

This post is linked to:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill

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!!!