Cheesecake Does Good Like a Medicine

The last thing I'd ever want to admit is that I could be disappointed about a Christmas day.
So, I won't.
But, i will say that we have a child on our hands who:
1. does not understand what a gift is.
2. after seeing a few gifts opened does not think to herself "huh, there are toys in there...man...this is good!"
3. would rather walk around in any part of the house as long as it is not the room where gifts are being opened.
4. would rather read a used book she got 4 months ago than play with anything mommy gave her for Christmas.
Cheer me up with some memorable reactions your kiddies had, ok?


What's Your Christmas Eve Tradition?

Tonight before bed we'll be reading The Night Before Christmas. Tim and i have been doing this since we got married. The copy of the book we have is the same one I grew up with. It is actually a pop-up book. I remember having it as a child...opening up the little window on the house when the guys peeks out to see Santa...spinning the wheel above the children's bed as they dream of sugar plums...pulling the tab that makes Santa disappear up the chimney.
The funny this is that I always have to search for the book on Christmas Eve. I can never remember where we left it the year previous! One year we read it in bed and actually left in under the bed until the next Christmas. It was easy to find that time...but this year i started looking for it early, and it is ready and waiting for tonight.
What is your Christmas Eve tradition?


Crazy Lights

I love Christmas lights...always have...and I totally plan on going nuts with them when we have a house. But, for now, here is all I can do:

There are red lights around our door...you'll just have to take my word for it.
Anyway, there are two places in our neighborhood that have become a tradition for us to visit at Christmas. The first is off of Saal. The decorating spans the yards of two corner houses and includes a collection of every Christmas blow-up made. (The also do a Halloween display, too.) The second is near the Sterling Heights library and is decorated from roof to lawn and also includes music. I don't think all the lights were turned on when we visited it this year, but I can't imagine that the power grid could handle it all being on a once. I counted over 20 spotlights alone. The picture doesn't show it, but when you pull up to the house at night, it looks like it is day time.
And, for the record, I don't plan on decorating our house with the same style of lights!


Taking TIme to Smell the Snowflakes

The past nonth has been so busy for me, although I can't really say why. Between my scuba class and all the events (and chores) that go along with Christmas, I don't think there has been a day that Lorelai and I haven't left the house at least once.
Until yesterday!
I had my heart set on enjoying the snow with her, and we did just that. Even last winter (when Lorelai was 6-8 months old) we made a point to take her out in her little sled. I don't think she gave a rip about the whole experience, but we were the proudest parents around. One of my favorite things about being a mommy is having the excuse to play in the snow again.

I think we may need a bigger sled next year!

A Thousand Words Thursday

as the song goes...
"...the prettiest sight you'll see is the holly that will be on your own front door..."
The kid is pretty cute too ;)
for more, click here


Santa Take 2

On Monday we decided to take Lorelai to see Santa. To save ourselves some time, we opted to take her to a close-by mall. I won't say where (*cough cough* it rhymes with "steak lied"). I don't want to get into the details, but basically we encountered the worst-behaved employee of 2009. I left in tears and marched my rear over to the mall management office as fast as my feet could carry me and filed a written complaint. If you know me, you know that I am pretty anti-confrontation, so, that should tell you that this was B-A-D.
We had gotten our Santa photos, but Tim and I were NOT happy. The encounter ruined our whole day. I guess most people would just let it go and move on, but I couldn't even bear to look at the pictures. There was no way I wanted those photos be be a part of our family collection (I have yet to upload them or even look at them).
I just couldn't move on until we had the Santa experience Lorelai deserved, so, on Tuesday we set out for Sommerset Mall (where we took Lorelai last year). The experience was everything we hoped for and more. Sommerset doesn't do santa like the other malls. For one, you don't wait in line. When you arrive, they tell you when the next available appointment is. This gives you time to finish your shopping while you wait (and man did I hit a monster deal at the Gap!). All the Santa employees are dressed up in Renaissance outfits to complement the huge castle set. You pay a small fee (which goes to charity) to take your own photos. When it is your turn to see santa, they announce each child's name (with the addition of "lord" for the boys and "princess" for the girls. Sommerset's Santa really must be THE real deal because man, is he jolly. The employees were fab in helping us get the closest thing to a smile we could get out of Lorelai.
Once you are done seeing Santa, they give the kids 3 silver coins. You can then spend the coins at various stores. For example, Pottery Barn Kids gave Lorelai some stickers and Mrs. Fields gave her some cookies.
I know some of you will think I'm silly for placing such importance on Lorelai's Santa visit, but, well, we all have our traditions. I can't really explain why it's so important to me. I will say that we left our second Santa visit feeling like a King, Queen, and Princess :)


A Thousand Words Thursday

As I snapped this pic, she said "cheese" for the 1st time.
For more, click here


My Big Scuba Weekend!

As I stated in my last post, I'm working my way towards becoming a PADI certified open water scuba diver. This past weekend was part 1 of my open water training. On Saturday, I was in the classroom from about 8:30 am to 11:15 am. After lunch we all met up at Oakland University's pool where we had to pass a variety of scuba skills.
Let it be known that I have never been the type to swim laps for fun. I had read in my PADI book (yes, I also had to read a 250 page book and watch a few hours of instructional DVDs before the class) that there would be a swim test before the pool training began. I looked at it with a bit of dread, but figured that since I had already paid (a lot) for the class, they couldn't possibly turn me away, right? I kinda figured it was something they'd skip over anyway.
We started off the pool training with our swim test. I had to swim 200 meters and then tread water for 10 minutes. Thank God above that I was somehow able to accomplish both (because I never had before!).
So, next we suited up in all the gear.

Let me tell ya, all that gear adds up to be HEAVY. Not quite sure how I'll manage to suit up on a rocking boat in Jamaica.
I knew many of the tasks we'd have to prove we could do, and I'll admit that some of them really intimidated me. For example, when you scuba dive, you wear a BCD (buoyancy control device). Basically it is a vest that you can inflate and deflate with the touch of a button (because it is hooked up to your air tank). One of the tasks we had to do involved going to the bottom of the pool, taking our regulator out of our mouth, and orally inflating the vest underwater. Imagine going to the bottom of a pool, removing your air source from your mouth, and blowing up a balloon. Dude, I was kind of afraid I'd somehow drown myself!
I am proud to say that I and my classmate successfully performed ALL the necessary tasks and that our instructor was really impressed with our performance. Yeah!
The scuba training really stretched me much more physically and mentally than I thought it would. I have gained SO much self-confidence and self-reliance that I didn't have before. Knowing that I can take care of myself in potentially risky conditions has been very liberating for me. I can't wait to continue my training. I successfully passed all my quizzes, my final and all my confined water dives this weekend. Next up, I'll need to make 4 open water dives with an instructor or dive master. I'm hoping to do 2 dives in Jamaica in February and do the other two dives in Michigan in the spring (need more training before I can do ice diving).

My instructor, helpers, and classmate were all fab!

A swim team was practicing while we were training...we just swam right under them!

My buddy kept reminding me that "thumbs up" does not translate to "good" in scuba hand signals...it means "ascend". Obviously I hadn't yet gotten the message in this pic.

This was the last task we had to accomplish. Our instructor turned off our air so that we would know what it feels like. He said he has never seen 2 girls last longer with shut off air. Ha!

Class is more fun underwater!


Up Next: Sucba Diving

Monday was my adventure as a Salvation Army bell ringer. I refuse to write a post about it without the pictures Tim took of me. Currently, my camera is in Mexico, so I will get to it later this week.
Anyway, next on my list of "always wanted to do that" is scuba diving. How I came to desire to accomplish this is a little complicated.
Three or four years ago, Tim and I went camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I had never been there before and fell in love with the place. If you have never been there before, let me tell you that it's gorgeous...way picturesque!
One of the things I really wanted to do while in the U.P. was to get lost in the woods and have to take a ride from a stranger who lived in a shack in the woods.
No...that wasn't it...although that did happen.
What I really had my heart set on doing was swimming in Lake Superior. For the record, They really should rename it Superior Ocean or Superior Sea, because when you first arrive at it's shore, it looks WAY angrier than your typical lake. Twenty foot waves can happen during storms and waves over 30 feet have been recorded. Add that with the fact that the temperature in the lake ranges from 32 degrees in the winter to 55 degrees in the summer, and you've got yourself an exciting experience.
So, one evening during out trip, Tim and I went swimming in Lake Superior. It was awesome. The water was icy and there were some pretty good waves. I didn't know if the lake wanted to spit me out or suck me in.
Once I was hooked on the awesomeness of Lake Superior, I next became hooked on the idea of all the shipwrecks it holds. The Great Lakes in general stay so cool that there are thousands of preserved shipwrecks beneath it's surface.
I began reading books about Great Lakes shipwrecks, but eventually, I got to the point where I wanted to see these things for myself. I mean, Imagine diving 25 to 60 feet below the surface of Lake Superior and coming face to face with a 525 foot steam ship on which 12 of its crew died. And, don't forget that the visibility in the Great Lakes isn't exactly the same as what it is in your bathtub.
The thought kinda scares the crap out of me, too.
So, the other week I was feeling kinda bored and I thought, "What am I waiting for?!? I should learn how to scuba dive!"
I looked up some of the local dive shops and signed up for the open water certification course. My classes are this Saturday and Sunday. I have to read a book, do some homework and watch 2 DVD before then (which is what I really should be doing now). If you want to see me look all awesome in my gear, come to Oakland University on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I'll be learning scuba diving in the pool!