The Shelly Seashore

September 4, 2017

The Shelly Seashore

In Sisters at the Seashore, the Funny Sisters, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill visit the seashore with Mom and Daddy.

Like the Funny Sisters’ home, this seashore is actually a real place!

As a family, we end up meeting our family at this specific beach because it’s closer to most of them.  It isn’t the girls’ favorite beach because of the tiny broken shells that replace sand as the shoreline.  They have a special nickname for it: “the shelly beach.”

Whenever we go there, these shells get everywhere!  They get stuck in between toes, in bathing suits, and I think they even use the salt as a glue to attach themselves to human bodies.  Oh, there’s a beautiful stretch of pretty white sand up to the waterline, but past that are tiny shell fragments that carpet the beach even out into the water.  One must carefully step so as not to cut the bottom of one’s feet.  The good news is that, just like a carpet, the shell blanket is not very deep.  Usually, someone has already shuffled their feet through the shells like a bulldozer to make a thin shell-free sandy path into the water.  We look diligently for these tiny safe-foot-paths.  If we can’t spy one, we make one.

The water here is slightly greenish and usually clear enough to see various sea life in the shallows.  Often as the tide changes the younger girls will dig for various mollusks and crabs.  These tiny creatures are usually less than a quarter of an inch in length!

Once, though, we saw a giant conch!

Rebeccah loves to collect very small complete shells; these you have to uncover in the sand as the water grounds them to fragments quickly.

This is the beach that the Funny Sisters visit.  We have many fun cousin-time days here!  Because of the unique properties that make this one of my favorite beaches to play at, North Vilano Beach at the walkover has become “the beach” for the Five Alive series!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

The Board

August 13, 2017

The Board

The fun of off days is being able to spend time with family!  After I got done working Saturday, we planned on meeting up with Aunt Becca and Anastasia. (Jillian calls her “my almost-my-age sister cousin” because Anastasia is 4 and Jillian is 5.)  Our start time got delayed, as usual, but that happened on both ends. (Secretly, I love it when that happens! It’s like it was orchestrated!) We were “sardined” into the van with sand toys, boogie boards (which originally belonged to my sisters and brothers), towels to line seats, the canopy tent (usually used for craft and book shows), and two camp chairs.  Oh yes, and add the apples and cherries from our 3-minutes stop by the Produce Market.  (Our part of the snacks – we remembered Lucas’ water cup but forgot the gallon of water.)

And we had the surfboard.  THE.  As in, there is no other like it.  It was my Dad’s ages ago.  He rode it up and down A1A before the overgrown beach houses obscured the ocean view.  It is bright yellow with a blue “arrow” on the front. (The girls claim this gives it extra speed.) It has a few bumps and dings – yes, see that?  That one was from my only-ever attempt to stand at North Vilano Beach where the wave dropped me on the shells.  I like to call it “mine” but invariably it is referred to as “Granddaddy’s surfboard,” because everyone knows where it came from.  Christina tries to call it “mine” and Kimberly is starting to call it “mine” so maybe that is the official name, “Mine,” since I’m not done with it yet!  Honestly, we compromise; it is “ours,” and we all love to share it.

When our sardine can turned into the beach park north of the pier, the girls spotted Aunt Becca’s car behind us and started screaming, “Yeah! Aunt Becca!” and “I see Grandma’s hair!”  Lucas napped through all of this commotion.  We played musical parking spots until we found two side-by-side and the troupe tumbled out of the vehicles, hugged and squished each other in greeting, grabbed their assigned items, and paraded up the walkover to the beach.  Lucas and I took up the rear, but Grandma stopped to help another little one.

Lucas spied Grandma.  “Mommy!  MY GRANDMA is HERE!!”  That woke him up!  Anastasia ran past and he squealed “my ‘STASIA!”  Now squirming with excitement, he heard my sister.  “Mommy!  Grandma!  My Aunt Becca HERE!”  He didn’t get down, but twisted around to see her.  “Mommy, THE BEACH!” He yelled as we started going down the walkover steps.  He then announced to everyone else who chose to hear that he was at the beach and named everyone he came with in a very quickly smashed up string of excited words.

Set up was fast and the children launched into the ocean in twos and threes while the adults paused to relax and say hello in the shade.  Lucas discovered Anastasia’s sand toys.

Jillian and Anastasia hit the surf on boogie boards.

One visible head is part of the three heads in the distance belonging to Jaquline, Kimberly, and Rebeccah.

Christina took the surfboard out and after a couple of rides to discover the safety of the sand bar and how shallow the water actually was.  She started giving tandem rides to the older girls and “baby wave rides” to the littler ones.  Mom got to tow the middle ones out one at a time to catch waves.

When everyone paused to refuel, the surfboard doubled as a comfy sand-free bench.

We enjoyed rain in the water and played shipwreck.  The two littlest were in a boat, the others on boards, and Rebeccah, Christina, Aunt Becca, and Mommy guiding and swimming out “in the deep” just before the sandbar.  We pretended we were shipwreck survivors trying to navigate the waves (as if there wasn’t a beach 20 feet away) and keep each other afloat while Grandma watched for approaching ships and held down the fort. (Quite literally, as the wind was picking up the canopy!)  Christina, Jaquline, Anastasia, and Lucas built a big hole in a tide pool and played like the Funny Sisters in Sisters at the Seashore. (Lucas kept jumping in it!)

Join us next time, another adventure awaits!  (And everyone slept all through the night!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Investigating

July 25, 2017

Investigating

One of the things I love about writing anything factual, like the Home Edge Readers, is the research and investigation I get to do.  I love to learn about something new.  I enjoy compressing it into a compact form yet still managing to include most of the important facts and unique terminology.  (Like “rift” or “Plinian explosion” in volcanology.)

As a Mom, passing on the love of learning is my passion.  Children are normally curious.  I don’t want to squash that.  I want to build on it.  I want them to always look at the world with wonder and ask questions about whatever they want to know.  If they want to know about something, I want them to investigate: read, touch, listen, explore, and learn.  By definition, this is true science: the observation of the world around us.

Early scientists from all cultures (even if they were still called by some title other than “Scientist”) observed and wrote or drew about the world around them.

When I watch children learn, they observe, draw, write about, build models of, manipulate, and ask questions.  Our natural curiosity needs to be fed so we always want to learn!

Consider this beach day:

The water was cold so only the older girls were in the water deeper than their ankles.  Lucas seemed to smell the November cold.  (That’s Florida cold, though, as you can see they were in bathing suits!)  He didn’t even try the water.  He started off by chasing gulls.  Seagulls in Florida have learned the art of evasion.  I think they laugh at these funny miniature humans racing toward them making odd animal-like shrieks.  They watch until just the last moment, and hop-fly about 50 yards away.  Their bright black eyes challenge said little human as if they are saying “you can’t catch me!”  Of course, without adult intervention, Lucas would chase a single seagull until he dropped from exhaustion. (Maybe this is a seagull’s crab hunting technique?)

But as Lucas starts chasing, he steps in a squishy, odd thing he hasn’t touched before.  Two crabs race out of the seaweed and waddle into the water.  Lucas jumps off of it and dances around it, laughing.  Jillian joins him and pokes it with a small piece of driftwood she’s picked up from somewhere.

“What is this, Mom?” Jillian asks.  So I explain its seaweed washed ashore after the storm.  They spend about ten minutes poking, prodding, lifting, and observing that one clump until Lucas is sure it isn’t dangerous.  Now he uses his new knowledge and seaweed clumps become toys!

Jillian and Lucas built a seaweed mountain that stood as tall as Lucas, but they weren’t faster than the tide.  They also watched the ocean “eat” the seaweed a few strings at a time and carry them off.

At home, for many days later, Jillian drew her impressions of seaweed.  Whenever we watched ocean documentaries, she would spy seaweed and yelp, “that’s seaweed, I know that!”

She “knows” seaweed because she explored it and played with it.  I want my children to know anything they want to learn about that completely.  To have touched, tasted, researched, and immersed themselves in it.  It doesn’t matter if the subject is baking, gardening, crocheting, fractions, nouns, writing letters, raising chickens, equations, times tables, letter sounds, zoology, biology, or whatever they want to learn.  I want them to dive into it and “know” it.  I figure the best way to teach this is to show them that I learn this way too.  I let them see me looking things up, studying various recipes before I attempt a dish, reading their algebra books ahead of them to “relearn” it, searching with them when they have a question I can’t answer, and researching for my books.

I want learning to be a passion for them.  Because once you discover a love of learning, you will always be investigating new things!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Baby-Surfing

July 19, 2017

Baby-Surfing

Certainly you’ve heard of surfing.  You know, the ancient art of riding a plank of wood on the waves?  Then we created lighter, smoother, conventional surfboards so we didn’t get splinters in our feet or stomachs and we weren’t worn out after dragging our plank to the ocean.  

What if we forget our surfboard?  Or, in our case, we decided to go to the beach on the “spur of the moment” and happen to have bathing suits because it’s Florida and a bathing suit is standard wear.  Then there is always your body!  ”Body-surfing” is when you catch the wave like a dolphin, with just your body!  You dive into the swell and the wave picks you up and carries you until it breaks, sometimes all the way to shore!

But have you ever heard of baby-surfing?  That is when a baby with monkey-grab-on power rides mom when she’s body surfing.  Lucas invented baby-surfing when we went to the beach.  (I’m sure it’s been around as long as surfing, but for us, it was a new concept!)  

The beach was gorgeous.  It always is.  The tide was coming in, almost high, and the waves were breaking in long, straight rows.  Perfect!  Before Lucas and I made it to the water, the girls were already body-surfing and their laughter sprinkled through the air like sunbeams reflecting off the water.  Jaquline is obsessed with “getting tube” – her term for catching the wave before it breaks and riding through it as it closes.  She is so light and fast that she can usually do this even with smaller waves.  

Lucas clung to my back and shouted “surfing!”  

He’s ridden the board with us before, but not body-surfed as he isn’t a fully independent swimmer yet.  (He knows how to hold his breath, paddle and kick, and get upright, but not really swim yet – he is just two.

But Lucas LOVES the ocean!  Well, Mom and Daddy went surfing all the time while dating, and the board he rides on is Granddaddy’s, so he gets it naturally.

The waves weren’t rough.  They were about a foot and a half, maybe two, but even Jillian (who is five) was body-surfing them.  So we jumped in!  We only had to go out about thirty feet to catch them.  The water was refreshing and about waist deep to an adult.  For Rebeccah it was waist deep, but for Kimberly and Jaquline it was eight-ball high (midway between waist & shoulders).  

“Whoooo-eeeeeee!” Lucas hollered as we caught the first wave – about a 20-foot ride.  I stood up and Rebeccah asks, “Lucas, did you like that?” 

Lucas let go of my shoulders and yelled “AGAIN!!” His legs were still locked around my waist but he threw his head back into the next wave.  As he popped out of the water he shook his spiky blonde hair and shouted, “AGAIN!  SURFING AGAIN MOMMY!” 

As an infant of 8 months, this beach baby started trips to the beach by racing into the surf, getting tossed back, and getting right back up and running out again!  This is the way of Lucas, so much adventure in that tiny package!  

Every time we caught a wave he whooped and hollered like a rodeo cowboy.  Every time I stood up at the end of a ride, he hopped up and down while still clinging to me and yelled “AGAIN MOMMY!” or “SURFING!”  Every time one of the girls caught a wave as we were trooping back out, he joined me in cheering them on.  

Mom would say stuff like: “Yeah, Jillian!”  ”Good job, Jaquline!”  ”Grab it, Kimberly!”  ”Nice! Rebeccah!”  

Lucas would shout: “Wheeee!”  ”Whoooo!”  ”SURFING!”  ”YEAH!”  ”BECCA!”  (Since we call my sister, “Aunt Becca,” he shortens Rebeccah’s name to “Becca” sometimes too.)

After about an hour or so, (No one in the ocean pays attention to time – they are having too much fun!) I felt Lucas falling asleep.  ”Are you ready to go build sandcastles?” (Trying to get him to the beach, he loves building – and demolishing – sandcastles.)

“No, Mommy,” he’s clinging to me like a monkey still, his voice sleepy slow, “SURFING!”  

End of the next ride, “Are you ready for food, Lucas?”  (Food usually gets Lucas’ attention away from anything else.

“No, Mommy!  AGAIN!”  

“Just one last ride, okay?” So one last ride, one last “Baby-Surfing” ride.  This was the biggest of the day, we had to go quite a bit farther out to catch it (as the tide was turning, the waves were breaking farther out, but the water level still wasn’t any deeper), but what a thrill riding it back in!  Rebeccah, Kimberly, and Jaquline joined in the last big wave – we rode it all the way in.  (Of course, the girls ran right back out for “just one more.”) Lucas was asleep before we got to the van!  Christina commented, “wow, Mom, Baby-Surfing wore Lucas right out.”  

Perfect trust, perfect fun, perfect day!  Thank you, Jesus, for the awesome rides!

Thanks for reading!

Talk at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Sand

June 12, 2017

Sand

It was a busy, start-at-3am kind of day.  We’d planned on going to the beach but it was almost 6pm and I was still working.  Unpacked boxes stacked in precarious towers in what would be the music nook – if we ever got the piano, drums, guitar, bass, and other assorted nose-makers from storage.  The front room resembled tornado-aftermath footage; shoes without their organizer spilled from the single tomato box, book boxes sat about, awaiting the arrival of a bookshelf, folded clothes waited delivery on the couch, and the dogs, exhausted from barking at every neighborhood squirrel since noon, were sprawled out like black rugs.

I knew we’d been working all day, but while trying to conquer the nightly result of supper, a quick glance at the chaos that reigned was rather disheartening.  It seemed that mood of disappointment had rubbed off on everyone.  Toddlers and preschoolers generally act out when they are upset and the older ones appeared to feel like they’d worked all day for a vain goal (the beach).

The cool thing about Florida is that even an early April sunset is close to 7:30.  The neat thing about technology is that everything for my business can be done from one phone; even on a busy night.  A super thing about our crew is the ability to grab-and-go and pack the van in minutes.

We went to the beach.  We hadn’t been to this beach since the previous summer, after Matthew (for non-Floridians, that’s “Hurricane Matthew”) when our beach spot was covered in debris.  “Our spot is back!” Yelled Kimberly.  We parked at our little spot (not legally ours, just where we always try to park) and the beach was beautiful.  The beach is always beautiful here.  It felt like my soul was refreshed just by walking in the sand.  The water was Florida cold, but we’ll get in the ocean in mid-winter and love it.  Lucas and I didn’t go deeper than ankles, but that was because I was dispatching and the surf was rough.  (Lucas loves the rough surf when the water is warm, not a huge fan of it when it’s cold)

We spied fishing boats and Lucas showed everyone the stars as the brightest ones greeted the approaching night.  We took several relaxing pictures.  I realized I had been allowing the normal side-effects of moving to control my attitude.  I should be more like sand; it moves, being formed and shaped by outside forces (kid’s hands, animal feet, car tires) but returns to normal easily.  I should let God be the waves and smooth the roughness of my irritation and frustration away so I’m smooth and even again.

Smooth and even feels so much nicer than frustrated and irritated.  I love how God uses His creation to remind me to slow down and enjoy life!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later,

~Nancy Tart