Scuba diving in the Kerama Islands

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I got scuba certified in Arizona. Seriously. So trust me when I say that I have been very eager to go diving since we arrived here last summer. But of course, we had a newborn; we didn't have a house or a babysitter; and then Paul deployed.

Fast forward to now: we have a happy toddler who loves her amazing babysitter, a home, and Paul is back from Afghanistan! So recently we hired the amazing babysitter for the entire day and took a dive trip out to the Kerama Islands. The Keramas are a group of 22 islands, mostly uninhabited,  which are surrounded by breathtaking reefs, unimaginably pristine beaches, and water the color of coolaid. I still can't get over the color of the water -- even being there, it didn't look real.

As if that weren't incredible enough, the visibility underwater was around 100 feet. 

The reefs are simply amazing -- the quantity and variety of fish, coral, and invertebrates we saw was unreal. These few pictures sadly don't do it any justice at all.
(Fun-and-not-at-all-nerdy fact of the day: water acts as a light filter. The deeper you go, the more colors get filtered out, starting with red, then orange, then yellow, etc. By ten feet, most of the red is gone. So down at 60 feet, everything starts to look pretty washed out and blue, especially to a camera with no flash.)

We saw thousands of fish: butterfly fish, parrot fish, picasso triggerfish, anemonefish, sergeant majors, moorish idols, and hundred more that I can't identify by sight. We also found a small octopus and three turtles, but sadly missed the (friendly) shark that the other group with us happened upon.

Now that I have been in the water, it's going to be hard to keep me out of it. Our babysitter is going to make a killing this summer!

Avery is 1!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can you believe this beautiful girl is 1 already? We just can't get enough of her. She is so spunky and spirited; she keeps us on our toes and cracking up all day long! 

Toddlers sure have a bad reputation, but Avery the Toddler is so much fun. She has her opinions about things, to be sure, but she also is full of charm and character! And energy!

This child is in motion always. She was an early walker and has graduated to running, jumping, spinning in circles, running sideways and backwards, and all conceivable combinations of the above. Oh, and don't forget somersaults. You never know when she is going to feel the need to hit the floor and do a somersault: in a restaurant, on the sidewalk, at the park, on the couch, in the bath. I wish I were kidding.

She also LOVES balls. She likes to throw and kick them, mostly. Beach balls, tennis balls, soccer balls - if it is spherical, it is her favorite. Mostly thanks to the 3-packs at the 100-yen store, she owns around 20.

If we can get her to slow down long enough, she also really enjoys playing with blocks and reading books. But usually she is just a blur with a trail of cracker crumbs who begs to go outside and isn't content unless the contents of every cupboard and drawer in the house are strewn about on the floor.

Did I mention that she talks? Because she does. A lot. As in, constantly. She keeps up a running narration about everything that she sees, hears, and thinks about. If she runs out of words, she just keeps repeating the ones she knows....over and over and over forever. If you fail to acknowledge her chatter, she will keep repeating it at increasing octaves until she reaches a pitch only audible to bats and dolphins. A typical discourse while on a walk might go something like this: "Bird. Bird! Birdbirdbird! Airplane. Airplane? Airplane. Flowers! Flowers! Airplane! Puppy! Puppy! Puppy! Park? Park? Airplane! Helicopter! Outside. Ball! Ball! Ballballballballballballballballball! Park?"  Her pronunciation is adorable, too, of course. Gacka [cracker], chockit [chocolate], joosh [juice], shoosh [shoes], cock-cock-o [helicopter], ah-din [all done], and buh-boo [baby] are some of my favorites. I also love "din-stuhs," which is how she says "down stairs," but actually means, "Let me play on those stairs!" She is currently learning body parts (watch your eyes!) and animal noises. She bah's like a sheep, quacks like a duck, and makes some pretty cute monkey noises. 

Her favorite foods are...everything. Seriously. She eats everything. If she had to narrow it down, I suspect she would choose "blues" [blueberries], carrots, strawberries, graham crackers, pretzel sticks, guacamole, and especially whatever I am currently eating.

As you can see, she also enjoys the beach. She will happily spend all day splashing in the water, collecting various pieces of flotsam and jetsam, pointing out all the "ish! ish!" [fish], and snacking on sand and sea shells.

Daddy is the coolest, of course. Once 4:30 rolls around, every car door that closes within hearing distance is answered with, "Da da?" I am around for comfort, food-making, and interpreting, but dad brings the fun. She follows him around all evening, making him read her books and kick the soccer ball with her. If he pauses for even a moment, she is in his lap.

I mentioned her opinions, too, right? She does have several of those (a preview of the coming months, I know). The strongest of them involve riding in shopping carts (she prefers a position that can only be described as "The Titanic," but which is lacking in the safety department); getting dropped off in the children's room at the gym; and feeding herself. (For the record, she will starve before allowing someone else to feed her; and she won't eat anything unless it is on or in a dish and she is holding silverware in her hands, however inept at using it she may be).

But mostly she is just the most fun and delightful little person to be around. She thinks everything is funny, and loves to make people laugh by being goofy. She has the sweetest disposition. She loves snuggles and kisses. In fact, she often climbs into our laps and asks for kisses by putting her cheek to our mouth and smacking her lips. We are always happy to oblige. She may be active and opinionated, but she is also affectionate, adorable, loves to please us, and is overall our favorite little toddler in the whole world. This is definitely a fun age!

I never get tired of looking at and kissing this face.

Splashing in the rain

Monday, April 7, 2014

In case you haven't heard, Avery is totally obsessed with shoes. Her very favorite pair or all are her rain boots. Since growing into them, though, she hasn't had any good opportunities to test them out. But she lucked out this week with a well-timed tropical rain storm that hit just as she woke up from her nap. She was so excited she ran to the front door and kept asking, "bye bye? bye bye? bye bye?" I couldn't say no and she couldn't believe her luck!

"Really, mom?"

 She's a natural!


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