Sunday, May 25, 2008

On the move!

We did not realize that when Elizabeth started to walk that she would not want to stop! She used to be very content riding in her stroller or sitting in the family room playing with her toys but now all she wants to do is practice walking. After five minutes in the stroller she is ready to get out and walk and playing with her toys is not as fun as cruising around the house, requiring mom and dad's constant supervision. And no more sitting in church, just being interested in the music and the lady's hair in the pew in front of us. We are now the folks standing in the corridor, watching the little baby walk around during the service.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fly Fishing in Belize - Bonefish!

After three strait days of incredible diving in Belize, Kate and I decided to spend our last full day going at a little slower pace. Diving, it turns out, is exhausting - its sensory overload for a whole day. So while we have been having an amazing time, we thought we would change it up a little and enjoy another one of Belize's natural wonders - the fishing!

The coastal waters of Belize have hundreds of square miles of tropical flats which means tons of Bonefish as well as Tarpon, and the occasional Permit. We met up with a guide and headed out for a half day of fishing - our best bet was going to be Bonefish.Bonefish are amazing fish, I can definitely see the appeal to fishing for them. Its all sight fishing, you need to make nearly perfect presentations to the fish, and when they take the fly, hold on! When we first started out I had a little adjusting to do - these aren't exactly rainbow trout. They are nearly impossible to see, the guide however must have had some kind of x-ray vision and spotted them out as if they are wearing a neon signs on thier backs, meanwhile and I couldn't see a thing - even with polarized shades. He started calling out where they were: "10:00 - 40' out... a little further left... further left... NO! FURTHER Left... ok there... now drop it!" a couple of short strips of the line to work the fly (a Crazy Charlie) and FISH ON! Now when a Bonefish takes the fly, its almost like you were casting and hooked a stolen speedboat - the thing just takes your fly and never looks back until it completely runs out of gas. My first one took me well into the backing, then it just gave up and I reeled it in. Turns out it was only about 14" long!

Casting was a little difficult if you aren't used to casting a heavier rod at longer distances, the breeze was a bit of a double edge sword too. The wind on the water made it more difficult to see the fish - not to mention making casting more difficult, but without the breeze, wow, it was HOT!
Kate is a pretty good fly fisher but as I mentioned before, this was a bit different than nymphing for trout in Colorado. After some initial difficulty casting Kate got a little lesson from the guide and before long she had a tight line and a screaming drag!

We had a great day on the flats and thoroughly enjoyed our time in Belize. We got back to the dock just in time for lunch - fresh seafood of course - followed by a long nap! What a great way to wrap up an already spectacular vacation!
I think this one would make a cool postcard!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Diving the Great Blue Hole, Belize

While Kate and I usually use up all of our vacation each year, nine months of pregnancy and another 10 months of infancy with Ellie have led to a large stock pile of vacation time. Now that little Ellie is getting bigger we thought it was time to head out for a much needed getaway. We packed our bags and headed to Ambergris Caye in Belize for some wonderful Scuba Diving, Bonefishing, and some R&R. One of the highlights of our trip was a dive in the Great Blue Hole.
According to Jacques Cousteau, the Blue Hole is one of the top 10 dive sites in the world! The blue hole is about 300 ft in diameter and between 400 and 500 ft deep. The trip out was quite a ride and on a windy day, land lovers would be wise to stay back at the hotel. The boat ride was almost 60 miles and 2.5 hours each way and included two open water crossings which were quite rough.

Once we got there we had an extensive pre-dive briefing. We then suited up and jumped in turquoise water at the hole's rim and waited for everyone else before we began our descent. Kate and I dropped down to about 20' where we met the group on the sand bottom. We made sure we could all equalize ok and then with a few kicks we headed out over the ledge. From here the hole has near vertical walls and we dropped almost straight down staying about 10' from the wall. It was an eerie feeling dropping into the abyss below with seemingly no bottom. Letting the dive master lead the way I checked my depth gauge in amazement - 90', then 100', then at 110' the hole opened up with a large undercut with enormous stalactites hanging from the ceiling - almost 50' long and too big around to get your arms around. As we started to swim under the overhang and through the stalactites my dive computer alarm started to sound, we had just passed 130'. At this depth, "bottom time" will be very short - approximately 8 minutes and they went by very fast! We slowly started our ascent being very careful not to come up too quickly.

Looking up towards the surface, in the distant darkness of the hole, the outline of sharks start to take shape - Reef Sharks - about 7 - 9 feet long! They were circling overhead and the only way back was straight though them - no choice in the matter. As you can imagine this is a bit exhilarating, if you get over excited you can start to suck down your air way too fast and not have enough to complete your dive (remember we were still about 90' down at the time) or you panic and head up too fast and almost guarantee yourself the Bends and have a long and very painful 2.5 hour ride back to a decompression chamber. Best course of action: admire the view, stay calm, take your time and remember that if worse comes to worse, technically speaking of course, you only need to swim faster than your dive buddy.

After a couple of friendly encounters and with the carnivorous homosapious marine life we made it back to the sandy ledge at 20' to do a 10 minute safety/decompression stop. As with most deep dives, a spare tank and reg set were hanging from the boat in easy reach in case someone had sucked down the air supply - fortunately Kate and I still had about 900 psi left and were in good shape. With our safety stop complete we headed back up to the dive boat to get ready for the next dive. Once the last person was back in the boat, it was feeding time! The dive masters threw over the remains of last nights catch (fish heads and guts) and the frenzy ensued. Sharks everywhere! An exciting end to an amazing Dive.

More interesting info on the Great Blue Hole can be found here:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Look Out! She's Walking!

Grandma Smits was in town taking care of the princess while Kate and I were off 0n a much needed vacation in the Caribbean. I had a suspicion that Elizabeth might take her first steps while we were away - turns out I was right! Its a good thing Grandma was here to capture a few of them on video! She was pretty determined to get this walking thing going and just kept on trying. Of course Elizabeth's best bud Gregario has to be right there in the middle of everything - like I have said before, they are inseparable. Great job Grandma catching it on video!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Princess One Tooth

Elizabeth has her very first tooth! I think this picture pretty much says it all!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Best Friends

While Super Mommy was off playing war games with the United States Air Force, Elizabeth and I were here at home all weekend holding down the fort - We had a great time! Its funny what you end up doing all day when you spend it with a 10 month old...

Today the weather was nice and overcast, perfect for some outdoor photos; so Elizabeth, Gregario and I headed out to the yard. We had a great time, got some fun pictures, and Elizabeth found the she enjoys eating grass - or maybe she just enjoys playing a game called: I'm going to try to see if I can get my daddy going by eating grass over and over again... Anyway, the pictures turned out great and we thought we would share some of the results. We hope you enjoy them!
These two have been inseparable lately! One of Elizabeth's newest little tricks is to try to feed Gregario her finger food - crackers, cheerios, cheese, whatever, and she just thinks its the funniest thing ever. Gregario obviously enjoys it too. They got off to a rocky start when we first brought Elizabeth home from the hospital, but as you can see here, they are the best of friends!

Some times you just get lucky and get this kind of thing on camera!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Look what I can do!

It is absolutely amazing watching our little Ellie grow. It seems like in just the last few weeks things are really starting to click for her. Initially when she started crawling we had to set up a gate at the top of a small flight of stairs in the house but she hadn't really thought much about climbing the other flight of stairs. Then, one day she just decided to give it a try, the most amazing part was that once she climbed the first step just just kept right on going and never looked back, all the way to the top and with no help at all - i was just there to make sure she didn't fall. Her she is climbing the last step.

Ellie and dady after summiting her first flight of stairs!
Elizabeth has also started to wave her hand, she does it all with her fingers, no wrist, and when you wave to her, she waves back, only her hand is facing her and not you :-)
One of the newest tricks in Ellie's repertoire is to use the high chair as a walker and push it all over the living room on the hardwood floor. Gregario is never far away when this is going on - he is usually watching closely any Cheerios to fall off for an easy snack - its rather amusing to watch.
And her is her newest fun little trick! It won't be long now...

Don't worry, he's still Adorable!

We have received so many comments on how sad and pathetic Gregario looks after getting his summer cut. Don't worry, he is still just as adorable as ever! Here he is post hair cut: