Posts Tagged 'Zach'

Scuba Diving Class 2 – Two Open Water Dives

This is Part 2 in a Series. Read Part 1 HERE.

Did I mention how terrified I am to scuba dive? No? Well, rest assured that I told my instructor. And Zach. And Kate, the other student diving with us. Here I am, yesterday morning, having problem after problem with pool gear. Mask too tight, respirator too difficult to breathe through, can’t get properly weighted. Bleh. Still. Not giving up yet.

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Then we spent time calculating nitrogen concentration in one’s body, safe dive times, etc. I liked this because it was math-y, and also showed that dive sickness is avoidable, and not just a matter of chance circumstance. We got onto the boat for a 40 minute ride out to Sand Key, part of the coral barrier reef 7 miles from Key West. I cannot imagine a prettier day on the water. Calm and glassy and teal.

The crew had the tanks all lined up.

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We squeezed into wetsuits and hoods. This is Zach making his “THIS IS AWESOME” face.

1-pre dive zach wetsuit

This was the view off the side of the boat. Those greeny patches? They’re corals 20 feet below.

1-pre dive water view

My nerves kicked in while strapping up. I actually had to put on a ton of gear and then just JUMP off the side of the boat. It took a full 2 minutes of hyperventilation on the “gangplank”, and ultimately I asked Rick, the first mate, to push me off. Once in, I had a bit of a panic, until Zach saw a loggerhead sea turtle 20 feet away on the surface, and I realized that I needed to get under that water. Here’s a bit of bubbly surface panic, but check out those fish! They kept coming close, giving me curious side-eyed looks:

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I clutched the rope, all the way down to 5 feet, adjusting and readjusting my mask, my respirator, and finding all my gauges. I hovered there with Duane, the instructor, while Zach sort of paddled around nearby, getting his bearings. I realized I needed to cry, and then prompltly discovered that there is no crying in scuba diving. I surfaced, jittery, breathed a bit (but didn’t cry!), then went back down. Slowly, slowly descending to 16 ft, whimpering and grasping at my teacher’s jacket, bug-eyed with terror.

2-dive bug eyed terror

Duane had a tablet for communicating, so he wrote encouraging things like “slow down, you’re doing fine” and “no drills yet, this is the fun part”:

3 dive notes

It took me ages to relax and let go of that rope, and then I was only willing to swim in circles around it. Finally, I calmed down and we set off to see all sorts of fishies and corals.

3 blue fish

Zach gave me the camera, which was soothing, and took my mind off basic breathing. Time was almost up, so we went to the back of the boat and rested with our knees on the sandy bottom. Zach did his drills, taking out his respirator, getting it back in, and clearing the water from his mask:

2 respirator

We surfaced and I said something I never thought I’d say “I didn’t want to come back up.” We climbed aboard the Sea Eagle and the crew switched up our gear for fresh tanks.

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Then we cruised to our next spot. I noticed that my hands were really itchy and tingly. Duane said this was from hydra stings and fire corals that grow on the ropes. A good lesson…I won’t be clutching the rope next time. The second plunge was much easier, though I still asked Rick for a tiny push; it’s psychologically pretty difficult to jump in with that much gear on. It just seems impossible that you’re going to float.

On this dive I got comfortable faster, and did my own drills of taking out my respirator, tossing it behind me, relocating it, and putting it back it. Then we just cruised and swam and took pictures of pretty things. Our coral reef is gorgeous.

2 reef

I didn’t think I could do it, truly. Zach says he knew I was capable, despite all my worries, because he’s seen me work through all kinds of fears.

3 feeling groovy

A brave new adventure! Two more dives next week, then I’ll be a card-carrying, PADI-certified open water diver. This time, I can’t wait to go back under. Zach was glad to send his 20s off with a bang. Happy 30th birthday today, mister!

4 after diving

Scuba Diving Class 1 – Pool Time

This Friday is Zach’s 30th birthday, and in a few weeks, my 38th. So we decided to get scuba certified, something we’ve been talking about for at least a year. Let me just be clear that I am scared to death of scuba diving.

Yesterday morning, Zach had to take off his mustache.

shaving to scuba

Then we biked over to the Captain’s Corner dive center, and found this behind a white picket fence:

scuba path

We waited patiently for our instructor to arrive:

waiting to scuba sara

waiting to scuba zach

After paperwork and intros, we watched videos and reviewed text for a few hours. We took a stretch break and popped over to a new Italian coffee shop that is open until 10 ish at night. Newly established, it’s the only late-night coffee shop in town! The delicious latte helped us power through the rest of lessons.

Then, it was time to squeeze into wetsuits and gear up for a pool dive.

zach squeezing into scuba wetsuit

Turns out that one wetsuit wasn’t warm enough for either of us, so we both put on a balaclava-looking layer.

For the first 10 minutes, I struggled against having my mask flood with water whenever I took out my respirator and put it back in. Duane, our instructor, got me a smaller mask and I was OK.

sara scuba ok

Then, I struggled trying to sink to the bottom, so Duane added more weights. Here’s a video taken about 45 minutes later, after I stopped panicking and finally caught on:

Zach went diving for the first time last year in Israel, and he was a natural.

zach in the scuba pool

But needed Duane’s help getting out of the heavy gear!

heavy tank zach

A friend had the Boogedy for the afternoon, so after dive class we took ourselves to Santiago’s Bodega, one of my favorite restaurants in town.

Happy Birthday to us!

santiagos after scuba

I went home and the real panic attacks started during the huge lighting/thunderstorm we had last night. I kept imagining all the horrible things that could go wrong! I’m not giving up yet, though, because I haven’t even seen any good stuff. The bottom of a pool isn’t exactly thrilling, but I’m sure seeing dolphins, sharks, fish, and coral will be!

Dive Class 2 happens tomorrow. First pool time, then books, then our first open-water dive. I’m not so sure about this yet….

May trip to Chicago

At the beginning of May, we headed up to Chicago so that Zach could go to a work conference. We went early in order to visit his sister and her family over the border in Indiana for a few days. Here are some photos of our adventures.

Our first visit to Lake Michigan. The Boogedy couldn’t believe that water got that cold without being ice.

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Zach and The Boogedy and Cousin J jumped all over the giant dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park.

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We went for a short hike at Coffee Creek, where we found an earthworm and offered Zach’s sister Sarah $50 to eat it. She declined on the grounds of being vegetarian. Later, though, she confessed that worms just give her the heebie-jeebies and it was all she could do not to gag at the mere thought.

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I picked dandelions during a walk through the neighborhood and braided them into a sticky crown for Prince Charming.

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The next evening we went back to the lake with the whole family and searched the pebble zone for perfect “skipping stones.”

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I can do it:

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But Zach has better…style:

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After Zach left for the Windy City, that left me and the Boogedy with a few days to spend with the cousins.  We went to iCream, where you can design your own ice cream. You choose your base (ice cream, non-fat, soy, yogurts), your favorite flavor, your favorite color (it’s very popular to choose the “wrong” color for a familiar flavor), and toppings. Here is the Boogedy, and cousins S and J, waiting for their treats. The little boys are thrilled. Anyone with a teenager knows that the big kid is playing video games.

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Here the worker is adding the custom mixture to the Kitchenaid. On the left you can see the vapor from the addition of Liquid Nitrogen (!), which freezes the ice cream fast.

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I chose Key Lime with graham crumbs on top, dyed purple. You know, because that’s just not right. I got the serious jitters from this snack. And I mean bad. I wonder how much sugar or chemicals this had! Aside from the fun-factor, I wasn’t impressed at the deliciousness.

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After the treats, Sarah and I took the boys to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which was very nice. I loved taking a spring vacation. Before I moved to the tropics, spring was always my favorite season. Nowadays, I don’t get to see tulips, daffodils, and chartreuse willow trees. It was lovely!

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Sarah drove us home via the scenic route, along Lakeshore Drive. She used to have an apartment in the John Hancock building, the one with the two antennae.

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These boys are the giggly-est, and did great on all car trips.

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Sarah, Todd, and I hung around drinking Lattes (from Todd’s super-fancy espresso machine) and Greyhounds (fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and vodka) and letting the kids play. We’ve known each other for about 18 years, and it’s always fun to catch up.

On our last day of vacation, we all headed back into town to meet up with Zach and walk through Chicago. We loved The Bean, though I kept losing track of my kid. It was very disorienting.

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Then, we walked along the Magnificent Mile to the John Hancock building, where we rode the elevator to the 96th floor for drinks! I look relaxed in this photo but I was WRECK. I don’t care for heights and the view was, literally, breathtaking.

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I love visiting family. Thanks for hosting us Sarah and Todd! I am looking forward to a big family reunion in scenic Southern Utah later this month, and short jaunt afterward to Texas to visit my sweet mom and sisters.

I made a delicious braided bread braid filled with sweetened cream cheese and homemade lemon curd a few weeks back. I shared some with Paige because it was too pretty to keep to myself. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite websites for great food.

Here are the spotty orchids currently in bloom by my front door.

I took the kid and dog to the playground 3 or 4 nights ago and stood on a fire ant hill. Fire ant bites form pustules that sting and itch like mad; if you scratch them, they pop open and spread sticky gold fluid all over and they just itch more. Look how far the redness extends…you should see the toe with FOUR bites on it!! Fire ant stings peak at 48 hours for me, so 6 hours after this photo was taken, I was begging Zach to PLEASE find the anti-itch spray so I could get some sleep!

This is my Sunday view. Looking at the washing machines, and eating bread and butter from Sandy’s Cafe.

This rainy day photo was taken back at the beginning of the rainstorm that caused the flooding. We were tired of being cooped up inside, so we took our umbrellas for a walk to the pier.

Despite the rain, the water was crystal clear, and we could see Parrotfish down amongst the rocks! Hmm, he is hard to see in this picture. Click here for someone else’s better photo.

I pulled over on my bike to take a photo of this glorious passionflower vine in a pot.

The Boogedy went to the new office with dad to help run network cables after Goombay Festival. This activity was deemed more fun than the festival itself, so much so that he forgot his tummy ache, which he’d had for days, and which the funnel cake and hot dog did nothing to stop.

 

 

Minkies

When the Boogedy was little, he called his favorite food “minkies”. We still call mangoes “minkies”.  Now we live somewhere that gorgeous, ripe mangoes literally fall at our feet. Look at these beauties! The flavor of these doesn’t even compare to grocery store mangoes, even the best you’ve ever had.

Zach is going to get allergic, just like my poor sister. Gluttonous mango-sticky-face!

The quilt in the top photo is “Mad as a March Hare”, made for me by my mom in 2004 when I lived in grey San Francisco.

New Games to Play

I spotted this game while looking for parking the other night. It was displayed on a table for FREE! This is a product that has been “girl-washed”…a toy that I’ve only ever seen in bright primary colors is now being marketed to the princess set. I found this a little bit gross, but will admit that I LOVE valentines day colors.

Prickly Pile Up is a game we’ve had for a year, but the Boogedy is just now getting enough fine-motor skills to enjoy it.

The game of setting these dice into patterns was good for a full hour of play. He got really upset if I messed this up. So I couldn’t help but make some of these “twos” when he wasn’t looking, just to see if he would notice.  He noticed.

This is not what the health department means when they offer free safety checks for carseat installation.

All of my neices and nephews should recognize this type of two-string pull-toy. Mom and Dad made chunky wooden ones shaped like stars and other fun stuff. This is a light-weight fairy at my friend Miss C’s house!

Last week when I went to the laundromat, I heard an adolescent chicken outside, in a panic….sqeaking for his mama. I found her inside, atop the laundry cart. Was she trying to teach him a lesson about staying close? She flew back out to lead him around a moment after this photo was taken.

Miss P got a package from her mother while I was at her house…a childhood Sunbonnet Sue quilt her late grandmother made. Now it will rest on the bed of one of her adorable girls!

 

 

 

End of Season Fun

We decided to go have some fun this Labor Day weekend, as we understand it’s the last hurrah before the tourist season ends here. We stood in line for half and hour to do something I’ve never tried, bungee trampoline. It was so cool, and nauseating, and exhilarating, and giggle-inducing, and made my palms all clammy.

But I learned to do a backwards somersault!

Zach was able to go frontways and backwards, but I couldn’t get my camera to get him in action.

We convinced the Boogedy to go on a bouncy, inflatable slide. He kept asking if it would pop, so we told him it was a pillow and pillows don’t pop. He eventually got spooked and wouldn’t go any more. He’s spent today talking about how he doesn’t want to go in bouncy castles again. We praised him for being brave and conquering his fear, rather than dwelling on the 12 dollars we spent for him and Zach to go down a SLIDE.

And for Alexis, pictures from Oishi Thai, our favorite local restaurant, where everything is good. So good, in fact, that we order something different each time (managing to branch away from my standby…green curry).

Bottomless Iced Tea

Tom Yum

We ran through the sprinklers, too.

Family Weekend

On Wednesday, the Boogedy was babysat and we walked to our beach for a lovely sunset

And went to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, where they cook the food on the grill at your table. I did not photograph the chef, but will show you the fountain outside.

On Thursday, we found a listless frog on our porch. He allowed his head to be pet, and I picked him up and placed him under the bushes. He wasn’t there on Friday.

On Friday I took Zach a picnic lunch at work. It was pouring rain, so we asked permission to sit at one of the tables outside the coffee shop, under the eaves.

On Saturday, we rode our bikes hard for 8 miles, then stopped at Thomas’ Donut Shop across the street from the beach.

And tried something I’ve never seen in donut form, Red Velvet.

We bought an umbrella because the rain has started to be just a little chilly, and it looked like it wouldn’t stop.

While we were at the farmer’s market picking up raw milk, the Boogedy rolled down the grassy slope in the rain, getting completely soaked.

There was some puddle twirling and jumping.

And we grabbed Pizza at Brunos, which has the most wonderful garden/swamp in the back of the building.

To finish the day, the dog was wrapped in blankets and piled with pillows.

And dad was forced to take his own medicine: The Bravery Test.

Outdoorsy

A visit to Camp Helen, a Florida State Park near our home.

This is a dune lake, separated from the gulf by ephemeral dunes…you can see the gulf as the horizon. The sign in the lower right talks all about respecting the alligators who live here. I admit to being a little ‘on edge’ for the remainder of this walk.

The Boogedy wanted to see the ‘sparkle water’.

And Zach wanted to put up his feet in his new Five Finger shoes.

The Boogedy is always looking for spiderwebs. Guess how many he found on this rocking chair.

extreme closeup of a sidewalk frog:

and a seafoamish, mossy-licheny thing growing in clump colonies:

Too Much Fun

The fountain with a button to push (that’s the very best part)!

Enjoying someone else’s digging:

Zach surfing before the storm hits:

Zach looking for a lost beach umbrella on the dunes:

taking dorky self-portraits at dawn:

Making homemade pasta:

Mushroom-garlic-three-cheese stuffed raviolis in chicken soup!


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