You Don’t Want My Christmas Card

Every year I think about sending a Christmas card… but, I don’t do it.

The last time I sent out a Christmas card, it was 1996 and it looked like this—

First Christmas

First Christmas

Yes, that is Leah. She’s a week old… well, not any more. She’s actually 13 and that photo just got me thinking that I should probably send out a card JUST so people know we don’t look like that AT ALL.

I am terrible at sending out Christmas cards. The worst part is, I WANT to be good at it. Every year I buy cards. Sometimes they even have the sticky place to put a photo, because I fool myself into believing I might really pull that off too!

Good Intentions

Good Intentions

My cousin Jen has it down. Hers is always the first card I receive each year. She must do them while we are all taking our turkey induced nap on Thanksgiving.

Perhaps, I should pride mine in being the LAST card people receive… or as reality would have it, the last card they don’t receive. (sigh) I am not good at the Christmas card thing and I should accept it.

Please don’t suggest I email a card, because really… emailed Christmas cards don’t even count! That’s all I am going to say about that.

This year, I sat down with Aaron and mused at the possibility of writing one of those AWESOME Family Christmas Letters. Now there’s a commitment!! I secretly believe some marriages end over those annual productions. I opened the 2009 calendar to see if I could remember what we actually did this year. GAH! First of all, my calendar is 4 feet wide and 3 feet high. The boxes are crammed full of appointments, flight numbers, and the school holidays are highlighted, so we don’t forget and accidentally drop our children off. I could hardly decipher the information, let alone organize it and make it sound lovely.

Be Very Afraid

Be Very Afraid

I tried to conjure something up from the top of my head but the good was TOO good and the bad TOO bad. Continue reading

A Croatian, Two Americans and A Turk Go Diving

Aaron and I went to Aruba.

Wish You Were Here!

Wish You Were Here!

I know! Don’t hate me! I didn’t even want to tell you.

You know how I love a good deal? Well, I also hate losing money. We had some international airfare that was going to expire, since I cancelled a trip in order to stay home and shoot Baby Signing Time 3 & 4. The trick was, the airfare was going to expire February 8th and we had to use it to go somewhere international AND we couldn’t transfer it anyone else. See! My hands were totally tied. 🙂

Add to that, Aaron and I don’t usually take long trips. We take little bursts of trips. Like 2 nights in Boston or 2 nights in San Francisco, just long enough to remember that, yes, we still like each other, but also short enough that our family members don’t disown us when we leave them to care for our children. Oh, and also, not long enough for Lucy to get too sick. Lucy almost always gets sick when we leave… wouldn’t you? Think about it. If you completely relied on others for your daily survival and the two people you trusted the most left… wouldn’t your system get thrown off a bit? Mine would. Lucy’s does.

When Leah was 2, Aaron and I went to Hawaii for a week. Other than that, Aaron, Leah and I went to Africa last year for 11 days, Lucy was sick at home through most of it. Last November, Aaron and I went on a business retreat to Mexico for 6 nights and Lucy was sick for most of that as well.

So, how do you balance not losing money, getting a good deal and trying to enjoy yourself while you are pretty sure at least one of your children is suffering and causing all of those around her to suffer as well?

You don’t. It doesn’t always balance. You might as well go to Aruba!

As you may have read, I recently certified in SCUBA, and I live in Utah where it is pretty cold, so I figured we’d go somewhere warm and SCUBA-worthy. Somehow we settled on Aruba. Why not? (If you haven’t read my adventures in SCUBA, stop here and read this. Seriously, it applies to this post in an embarrassingly ironic way)

After nothing but beach the first day, we signed up to dive with Mermaid Divers for three consecutive days. Our dive master, Bero was from Croatia. It took full concentration to get all the details and instructions, with his strong accent and over the roar of the boat engine. We did two dives each day. Day one was great, (Antilla Wreck and Pedernales) but, didn’t seem to compare to our dives in Cozumel. Was it the dive or that I just couldn’t seem to relax? I was worried about forgetting something. It had been three months since our last dive. I was glad we would be diving again the next day, so I could chill out. It was good to dive again and the watermelon was great.
post-dive-watermelon

The following day there were only a few divers. We hit it off immediately with a guy named Kenan. Who we accidentally called “Kenneth” for 2 days. Oops! Kenan is from Istanbul, not Constantinople. (Ha ha! Now the song is going to be stuck in your head!) We found ourselves laughing about everything with Kenan. The dives were great! (J/C Wreck and Plonco) We saw a turtle, an octopus, and I even got stung by a jellyfish! How’s that for adventure?

We rented an underwater camera for our second and third dive days.

J/C Wreck

SCUBA Rachel

SCUBA Rachel

Rachel and Propeller

Rachel and Propeller

J/C Wreck

J/C Wreck

Plonco Reef
turtleoctopusrachel-and-aaron-divesea-star

The third and final dive day, we were happy to find that Kenan was diving with us again. This time, I wasn’t worried at all. We were still laughing and having a great time. We started the day off with our deepest dive, (Mas Bango) dropping to 125 feet!

Show off!

Show off!

Again, the dive was beautiful! We didn’t spend the whole dive at 125 feet, the area sloped up, so after a while we were at 60 feet. The area continued to slope to safer depths… And then it happened…

No, there was not one stinking shark the whole time, so DON’T get excited. Which reminds me, Bero, the dive master had said that usually on this dive there is a shark that he can approach, roll over and “hypnotize” as it floats sleepily on it’s back. I was DYING to find that shark, because that photo-op… me holding the hypnotized shark, would be PRICELESS after my last SCUBA post. Priceless! But we never saw it 🙁

Like I said, then it happened…

Wait, before I tell you what happened, you need to know this: When you dive down 33 feet, that is called 1 atmosphere and if you had a cup full of air, the air would compress in one half. If you continued down another 33 feet, that is another atmosphere and the half-cup of air would compress in half again, which is only one fourth of the previous compression. This continues, compressing the current amount of air in half and so on. The OPPOSITE happens when you come UP from depth. The air expands at that same rate, this is why when you ascend you let out all of the air in your BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and swim up to the surface, blowing air out of your lungs all the way. You get rid of the air in your BCD and lungs, so it doesn’t expand and rocket you up to the surface, damaging your lungs.

And so… at around 30 feet, Aaron and I were taking pictures. Then Kenan motioned that he would take a picture of me and Aaron together. So, we all got vertical. Meanwhile, vertical, whatever air was in our BCDs is now all together at the top section of our BCDs. Then I took a picture of Aaron and Kenan. We were busy taking pictures and we were paying little attention to our gauges. Then, Aaron takes the camera while Kenan and I pretend to make out. And all of a sudden we realize that we have all accidentally SURFACED!!!!

Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death

I cannot write what was going through my mind, but I am sure you can imagine, lots of “HOLY’s” “OH MY’s” and “WHAT THE’s.” Aaron turned and dove back down fast. He had been reading a book called “Shadow Divers” and was all too familiar with what can happen if you surface too quickly or do not do a safety stop before surfacing.

I was stunned, looking at the sun shining through the water. The surface was only a foot above my head, at the most and I was still moving toward it. My mind was racing. Are we going to get sick? Am I going to die? Is this it? This is how I go? I die pretending to kiss a Turk under water? How absurd! How deep were we? Is the dive over? Can I dive back down or will that make things worse? I reached up and released the air from my BCD and sank back down, to the bottom with a hundred questions in my mind. There was only one thing I was sure of… one angry Croatian was waiting for us at the bottom.

Bero isn’t fluent in sign language, but he didn’t need to be to get his point across. He jabbed his pointer finger at his palm to scream; “LOOK AT YOUR GAUGES!” and then he jabbed his finger at his temple, seeming to scream; “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” He repeated these signs, over and over and over. I lowered my head and nodded. I was suddenly 6 years old and was SO busted! (Deservedly so.)

Aaron, Kenan and I continued the dive somberly. We were not smiling. We were not laughing. No one was taking pictures. None of us dared to look at each other. Each of us stayed uncomfortably close to the dive master. I imagined they were berating themselves, like I was. “That was SO STUPID!” “That was TOO close!” “That was NOT cool!” I could still feel my terrified heart pounding. I reminded myself to calm down and breathe slowly through the remainder of the dive.

After our three minute safety stop at a depth of 15 feet, the entire group surfaced. I was already bracing for the verbal reprimand. It came. Again, I nodded and mumbled quietly. “I know. I am sorry. I understand that was dangerous. I know. No, I was not paying attention. I know. I know.”

I felt sick to my stomach about the dive. I thought about just skipping the final dive, waiting it out in the boat. Then an image popped up in my mind; I was 16 years old, and I had just been thrown off my horse. I stood up in the arena, dusted myself off and I NEVER, ever got back on my horse again.

I closed my eyes tightly. Then I opened them.

And then… I switched out my tank, checked my gear, suited up and I stepped off the back of the boat into the turquoise water.
rachel-descends