Monday, January 14, 2013

I Snuba, Doba Youba?

I know I said I wasn't going to brag about our awesome trips in December.  But I do have to just mention one little bitty tiny thing we did that was amazing: SNUBA!

What is snuba, you ask?  It's a cross between snorkeling and SCUBA.  You get to go down about 20 feet under the water with a regulator, like they use in scuba diving.  But instead of carrying a big oxygen tank on your back, you have a long hose that connects you to your tank, which is floating on a raft on the surface.  If you're lucky, you'll get tethered to a timid couple who will swim 20 feet behind you the whole time and you'll get to pull the raft along like you're in the ocean Iditarod.   There is no certification necessary.  They give you a 1/2 hour training, and you get to see whether you're prone to claustrophobia or hysterics! 

We did our dive at Coki Beach, on St. Thomas, with Virgin Islands Snuba.  Our guide, Tammy, was awesome. She was very patient and thorough in training us.  She waited until we were comfortable with each part of the process (learning to breathe with the regulator, learning to clear our ears, learning to hover in the water, learning how to get the sand out of our shorts, etc.) before we went on with the next step.  It did take a little getting used to: having those loud bubbles going past your ears, and breathing V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y, and equalizing your ears as you submerged.  But once you got down there, you just forgot about all that and surrendered yourself to the amazing world around you.

It just so happens that I have a totally irrational fear of open water.  Well, maybe not so irrational.  It probably stems from the three or four times we ALMOST SANK while sailing in Lake Huron growing up.  ("Hey, Ari.  Go below and see if there's any water filling up the galley." My dad literally said those words to me. On more than one occasion.)  If you haven't sailed in Lake Huron, let me tell you: You might as well sink in the North Atlantic.  It's about that big, and definitely that cold.  Standing on a rocking bow during 15 foot swells trying to change the sail with nothing to hold onto and waves lapping over your feet every time you crashed down a wave's trough might just give you a slight fear of open water.  MIGHT.  Well, that and SHARKS.  No, there are no sharks in Lake Huron, it's true.  But I've watched enough seasons of Shark Week to know that you can't even wade waist deep in the ocean without advertising your thighs as appetizers.  So anyway, if I've been a bit nervous snorkeling before, you would understand, right?  It's easy to get carried away by the beautiful fish and coral and then to suddenly realize there could be a shark coming straight for you and start flailing about hysterically.  Not that I have.  No, I'm just saying one could and it would be understandable, right?  Well, I never got that feeling when snuba-ing.  Somehow, being under the water where you can see your enemies coming at you makes being in the water a lot less terrifying.

And, as it turns out, the only enemies that came at me on our dive were some angel fish and a remora.  A remora, in case you don't know, is one of those parasite fish you always see sucking onto a shark, or sometimes a whale, cleaning off all the slime for them.  This one had no shark attached, thank goodness.  But it was very big and very intimidating anyway.  I managed not to scream under water and flee to the surface.  I hear the bends isn't so fun.  So I just kept swimming.  (Away from the know, just in case it decided to go shark browsing for a shark.)

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend you try SNUBA next time you're somewhere tropical.  It's all the fun of a dive without the training/certification.  Although, you could say I got bit by the dive bug, because I think I'm going to have to sign up for real dive certification classes.   They do that here in Utah, right?   'Cause Lake Huron is definitely OUT.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas-ish News Letter

I sent out probably my suckiest Christmas card in years this year.  No offense to Big Daddy.  He was a champ in making it up exactly to my specifications.  It was a cute card, don't get me wrong.  But #1) we had no official family photo to put on it.  Granted I was spared the usual histrionics that take place when I say it's time for family photos.  And the kids were glad to miss out on them too.  But it's still nice to have at least ONE picture in a year where all five people are looking in the general vicinity of the camera.  But this year, it just never happened.  Instead I took some pictures of Big Daddy and the kids in the yard after church one day when the leaves had fallen and the light was golden and no one had spilled spaghettios on their church clothes yet.  And then they turned out so good I made him take a picture of vaguely the same area of the yard, somewhat out of focus, and 1/8 the size of the ones I took of the rest of the family.  But whatever.  So the picture I sent out is actually one of the rest of the family... with me photoshopped in.  Thank goodness Big Daddy is a photoshop genie!  Thank goodness we happened to be wearing semi-matching clothes!  Too bad Pippa wouldn't look in the general vicinity the camera.  But you take what you can get when your photographer is you and you have 30 seconds before everyone wanders off in search of spaghettios.   B)  I forgot to write our names.  I mean, the card said "Merry Christmas.  Love,  the T_____s."  But that's it.  No list of my kids' names, no ages.  Nothing.  Not even a personal note.  I kinda forgot that part in my rush to get the cards mailed out.  See, we were going out of town twice between Dec 4th and Dec 19th on two amazing trips that I'm not going to tell you about because, come on,  I'm not here to brag (but , oh my gosh, St. Thomas was  totally AMAZING!!!)  and I knew if I didn't get them out before we left, they would never get out at all.  At least not before they became Valentine's cards.   3) There was no Christmas Newsletter.  I like the Christmas Newsletter.  Some people don't.  I do.  Christmas cards might be the only thing I hear from you or you hear from me all year, so you might as well tell me how old your kids are now and list all the great achievements they've made in the last 12 months so I can tell you how smart my kids are and how many more achievements they've made in return.  But this year there was no time for a Christmas Newsletter.  I had to get the Christmas card in the mail before we left, which means I would have had to do that on top of doing all my Christmas shopping ahead of time, getting Beck's birthday stuff done ahead of time, decorating for Christmas, and packing for 4 people.  Ya. Nope.  The Christmas Newsletter just didn't happen.  But lucky you!  You get to get it now!

The T_____s Christmas Newsletter 2012-ish

Big Daddy:  Big Daddy might just have had the best year of his life.  I think he got to go to Cancun, and the U.S. Open, and on an all-expense paid trip to play Pebble Beach and the other two, not-quite-as-brag-worthy golf courses nearby, AND got to go to St. Thomas with his hot wife and no kids.  PLUS, he got to start working twice as many hours, commute 4x as many miles, and move our entire house for the 2nd time in two years.  Lucky guy!  He squeezed a bunch more free golf in there too, so don't feel too sorry for him.   Plus, his invention, the CutterPillar, has really taken off.   Please, Someone, buy him out for millions of dollars so we can sit on a beach in St. Thomas and sip piƱa coladas for the rest of our lives!

Me:  Well, my year see if I can remember anything.  I swear, by your third child, it all starts to blur together.  I can perhaps at least get relative with 2012: Fewer diapers, more crayon on the walls, less getting up in the night, more getting spaghettios off the ceiling, less driving kids to and from school, more kids in school, less weight, more hair, less square footage, more character, less carpet to vacuum, more tile to scrub, less weeding, more bathrooms to scrub, fewer leaves to rake up, more stairs to climb.  Cheese Fantasy Camp (awesome).  Stained Glass Class (awesome).  Also, I gave up on ever having straight hair again and embraced the curl completely. 

Daphne (AKA: Mini-Lorie), age 7 1/2: Daphne is our incredibly imaginative, creative, artistic, utterly unfocused, unruly, unconventional, interesting, one-of-a-kind child.  She is crayon/marker/pen in hand about 95% of her waking hours.  And she is good!  She really captures things amazingly well for a girl her age.  She's observant and sneaky clever.  She's tiny, but bold.  She absolutely LIVES for all things animal (particularly if they have unusually large eyes).  People? Meh.  Daphne loves to talk.  And talk.  And talkandtalkandtalk.  She'll gab your ear off unless you wander away while she's distracted, or run away pretending to have diarrhea. Not that I have done that!  Or would ever do that.  Ever.  Really.  I'm just giving you a good out in case you ever need it.  (USE IT!)

Beck, age 6:  Beck is our resident smarty pants.  He takes after his mother, (blush) .  Ok, AND his father.  Really he has the best of both of our brains--he memorizes everything instantly, just like me, and he wants to know everything about everything around him, just like me, and he loves school and pleasing his teachers, just like me.  But he's not retarded at math like me.  He got his dad's genes for puzzles and numbers and working things out in his head.  He likes to take things apart and know how things work, and, just like Dad he can put them back together (unlike his mom).  He could read before he started Kindergarten this year and reads at a 2nd grade level now, half way into the year.  He's a mama's boy, which I'm absolutely 100% fine with.  He ruthlessly teases his baby sister and his big sister and doesn't stop until somebody screams and then mom screams. But otherwise, he's endearing, and quiet, and sweet, and utterly charming and lovable.

Pippa, age 1 1/2:  Pippa is a busy busy child!  I want to say she walked for a week.  She learned to crawl, eventually learned to walk, and a week later she was running full speed.  She climbs all over everything, leaps from couch to couch, throws herself on the ottoman, bounces off, and begins again.  If she falls, she doesn't bother to stop and cry.  She scales the toilet to get on the bathroom counter and play in the water.  She's figured out how to drag things around that she can climb onto to get on the kitchen chairs, to get on the bar stools, to get on the bar, to dump out all the salt!  Despite the tornado that she is, she is SOOO cute.  She's our fairest child, with that strawberries-and-cream skin she did NOT get from sallow me.  She has strawberry blond hair and some shade of eyes I cannot describe other than to say it's NOT brown.  It's sort of greyish, greenish, hazelish, beige.  She jabbers a lot.  She loves to dance (ask her to do her Just Dance impression of Avril Lavine's "Girlfrend."  You'll die at how good it is.).  Pippa loves to copy her siblings.  And parents.  She carefully watches everything we do and then a minute later, she's trying it out too.  We have to be careful what we do and say in her presence!  Pippa is fun and sweet and a holy terror all at once.  She will be our most adventurous child, we're sure.

Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for our new carpets), we lost Flossie, our cat, this year.  Lost her to the pound, that is.  Don't tell Daphne.  She thinks Flossie lives with another family who is taking really great care of her.  But Flossie's 2-year, urine soaked nervous breakdown from our last move meant she couldn't move with us here.  We all cried, and we'll miss her. Sort of.   But the kids are mollified by the promise that when we build our dream house, it'll be filled with, to quote Daphne, "two dogs and two kittens and a turtle and a parrot and gerbils and a sugar glider." (Never heard of one?  Trust me, it has huge eyes).  Ha!  Maybe a turtle.  We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, we're loving it here at our new house.  This part of the valley agrees with us.  It's quaint and old but more cosmopolitan than our last two towns.  It's got a great library, some wonderful local restaurants, lots of big, shady trees, a grocery store with plenty of spaghettios, and a cheese island the size of Manhattan, some very nice neighbors, and it's close to the freeway (although not near Big Daddy's work.  But what does that matter with a cheese island that size??).

We love you all.  And we miss most of you.  Call us. Email us.  Come over for a game night!  Come over and dance to the Wii with us.  Come over for dinner!  We're having lots of great cheese....and spaghettios. 

Merry Christmas!

The T______s.