Monday, July 30, 2012

I have a draft!

Three and a half years, one move, one job change, two titles, seven chapters (plus intro and conclusion), and 297 pages (plus bibliography and appendices) later, I finally have a complete draft of the dissertation! Now don't get me wrong, I still have a long way to go--editing (if I ever get comments back from my supervisor), formatting, creating all the preliminary pages, etc.--but I HAVE A DRAFT! I can't contain my excitement! The light at the end of the very long dissertation tunnel is getting bigger - very soon you'll have to call me Dr. Barb! :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Aboard the "Island Time"

While we were in PCB, we decided we wanted to take a boat trip to Shell Island and have a chance to swim with the dolphins. After some research, we decided to go with the Island Time, a 55-foot catamaran - it was a 3.5 hour that included snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins. We didn't realize until we got there that they don't actually dock at Shell Island, but that didn't keep us from having a fabulous time. 

The boat ride was smooth and easy, with fun music and a hilarious crew. Our first stop was about an hour of snorkeling out in the gulf. We all had fun, even though only Dad is really comfortable with the equipment. We used mom's shelling net and scooped up some rather large shells, and Dad even saw a small octopus in a cinder block on the ocean floor. 

Back aboard the Island Time, we sailed out past Shell Island and found a pod of dolphins playing in the surf. The boat stopped, and we all piled off again hoping for a chance to swim with the dolphins. Only a couple of them came close to us, and nobody in my family actually got to touch them. It seemed like no time before the captain said it was time to go. Ben and I got back on the boat, but Mom, Dad, and a few others took their time and a really big dolphin came rather close to them. Dad was actually the last one back on the boat, and he was almost close enough to touch the biggest dolphin the crew said they had ever seen. It was so cool!

Finally, we headed back to land, graced by a gorgeous sunset and followed by a swarm of seagulls begging for the sandwiches the crew served us. Keeping things lighthearted and fun, the crew ran a hula-hooping contest, followed by a conch-shell blowing contest. Dad participated in the latter, and though he didn't win he sure made a loud sound.

It was an amazing evening, tons of fun, and perfect weather. If you're ever in Panama City Beach and want to take a boat trip, I highly recommend the Island Time. I'd go out again today if I could!

Somewhere UNDER the Rainbow!

Our first afternoon at Panama City Beach, we kept watching storm clouds off in the distance. It never rained where we were, but we could see the rain out over the water. Then off on the horizon we saw a little glimmer of a rainbow, and oohed and ahhed over it. Then mom and Ben went walking and Dad and I went back to our books. I looked up a few minutes later to see that the rainbow had not only grown much bigger and brighter, but it was a double rainbow! Of course, I grabbed my camera to take a few photos, and walked down the beach to see if I could get the whole thing in one frame. Nope, it was so big I never could get the whole rainbow in a single photo. The longer time went on, the more it seemed to grow, and we could actually see both ends of both arcs, one end out over the water, the other off toward town. I have never seen such a bright, huge, and gorgeous rainbow. Dad said God must have really been trying to make a point to someone that day. All I know is you can't possibly see such an amazing sight and not believe in the Creator.

"I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my permanent promise to you and to all the earth.... When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth." Genesis 9:13,16
Here's a short video - the only way I was able to capture the whole rainbow.

Panama City Beach 2012

While I was at home, my family decided to drive down to Panama City Beach, FL for a few days of beachfront fun. We were all excited to get to the beach. Even though I enjoy the beach, I usually refuse to get in the water because I don't like it when I can't see what my feet are touching. But the water was SO clear and beautiful that I didn't hesitate to get in (the fact that it was rather hot didn't hurt either). We had four beach days, and all thoroughly enjoyed hunting for the perfect shells (we found tons!), playing football in the water, boogie-boarding and fighting the large waves on the last day, walking the beach, and just relaxing in the sun and sand. We had a great time together, and none of us really wanted to leave.
Dad hunting for shells underwater
Playing football in the surf
Look how clear the water is!
This is the life!