Ghost Town

September 10, 2017

Ghost Town

Walking through our town, we felt like we were in a ghost town.   The streets, normally flooded with tourists, were instead empty.

In between the bands of rain, what started as gentle winds of about 15 miles an hour began building strength.  By the time we walked from the Village Inn to the Fort, the winds were tossing waves over the seawall and shooting spray and rain into our faces like atomic arrows.

At the wooden walkway at the north edge of the Fort, we stopped to watch the ocean beat against the seawall.

Lucas spied every vehicle that slowly drove down the small river that used to be Avenida Menendez and squealed “Big truck!” or “Police truck!” (Sport utility vehicles are trucks to Lucas.)  Three or four big jacked-up trucks moved through the river.  A police SUV appeared to be patrolling.

The girls raced up the Fort’s hill.  The walkway was underwater!

We didn’t check the depth, but the people behind us with the cute black and brown dogs were wading along the walkway up to their knees!

 

We stood on the Fort hill and surveyed the area of downtown in our sight.  Outside of those few vehicles, there were only a handful of scattered walkers.  (Our party of 8 made up about 50% of the walkers.)  The beautiful city was boarded up and sandbagged.  Colorful tape blocked the few windows that didn’t have boards or shutters.

After spying water in the moat, the girls decided not to roll down the hill because of the giant “lake” of water.

So off we went toward St George Street. (Back toward the car, because now the icicle raindrops were “too hard.”  This also meant no more pictures as our camera isn’t waterproof.)

On our way back home, Rebeccah said, “Mom, that was like a real ghost tour through a ghost town.”  With that began the ideas for what will soon  be released as another in the Five Alive: Funny Sisters series!  Gale at the Ghost Town

We left praying for those who would be affected as the flooding we observed was over 12 hours before the storm’s highest winds and storm surge were to reach us – and our city wouldn’t be the hardest hit.  Hurricanes display such raw, natural power that a mere human can only stand in awe.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Eclipse Adventure

August 25, 2017

Eclipse Adventure

This story all started about six months ago.

We discovered that there was to be a full solar eclipse!  Since the viewing area where we could see the totality of the eclipse was only a four hour drive away, we decided to take a road trip.

At just after midnight, in the wee hours of August 21, 2017, we loaded the last of the snacks, water, and spare clothes into the van and began our journey.

About 5:30am we pulled into a truck stop next to a Shoneys and woke everyone up in turns.  Lucas was already up, racing around the van expelling some magical two-year-old energy.  Mommy took Lucas and Jillian to the potty where, on the way out, Lucas spotted a policecar and shrieked “Wow!  Police car!  Cool car!”

Owner of said car (a tall, probable ex-football linebacker) growled playfully, “you noticing my car, buddy?”

Lucas played shy for a few seconds, then said, “Policecar, where green men?”  (This almost stumped me… until I realized this officer had a black uniform and our St Johns County officers wear green!) So I told Lucas this policeman wore black clothes instead of green, and yes, it was his car.  Lucas grinned at the officer, “police car!”

“High five for my cool car?” The officer grinned.  Lucas screamed “High five!  CAR!”  This made everyone laugh.

Since we were less than 5 miles from Santee State Park, our original destination, we found star constellations, played guessing games, and chatted about the science behind eclipses.

Finally, tummies growling like we had swallowed starving lions, we joined the small mob that entered the Shoneys as the sweet hostess unlocked the doors.  Even Lucas’ policeman friend had mentioned that it was a great spot for breakfast.

Breakfast was yummy!  Lucas’ new food word is “disgusting!” (Lucas was eating an apple and someone said “don’t eat the seeds, they are disgusting” so Lucas has this new word on continual repeat.)  Lucas would taste something, say “dis-gust-ing!” and chow down on said food item.  Lucas seems to think “disgusting” means “yummy.”  (Our waitress caught this two or three times and tried not to let everyone see she was giggling.)

Sip of chocolate milk.  “DISGUSTING!” Big grin and

he drained the cup.  A mouthful of bacon.  “DISGUSTING!” and the rest of the bacon vanished from his plate, Christina’s plate, and Mommy’s plate. (We were his left and right neighbors.)  The girls would say “Mmmm!  Yummy!” in an attempt to make Lucas follow their example.  But Lucas is at the stuck-on-one-word-for-weeks stage.  Finally he heard the vroom of a big truck.  “BIG TRUCK” and that was the end of “disgusting” for a while.

We ended up in a huge parking lot next to a giant waterslide and pool complex about a mile from the Dollar General and Food Lion down a lovely sidewalk bordered with assorted wildflowers, quaint houses and yards, and huge pine trees.  There were a scattered few vehicles with others camping out in the wide open space.  The city hall had a much larger audience (an entire field of cars!) as they were doing music and entertainment leading up to the eclipse.

Including finding this almost 4 inch insect!

After a full morning of games, exploring, and resting, the moon began to slowly cover the sun!  Lucas napped up to the last ten minutes before totality.  It was amazing!  At first, we could barely tell through our dark glasses that anything was different, but within the next few glances, the girls cried out things like “it looks like a pac-man!” and “it’s an eye from the science book!”  We had read legends from various places and their favorite was one where the sky dragon swallows the sun but it burns the dragon up and reappears.

Through the glasses, half of the sun was gone.  Everyone jumped up to look again.  Between peeks, we hid from the ninety-seven-degree heat by ducking into the van with all the windows open, explaining and discussing the phenomena as it was happening.  Then it happened.  The air began to cool.  The colors of the cars and grass lost their vibrancy.  We grabbed our glasses. This glance was a few minutes before the total eclipse.  All of the sun was shadowed except for a sliver of a crescent.  The dark came.  Lucas had finally woken up and was playing with rocks.  All the girls and Mommy and Daddy got him to look at the sun – he was hooked!  He pointed out the stars (two visible planets in the sky) and the fireworks (lightning in the distance) and “Puppies!” (three or more dogs howling and whining)  For what seemed like an eternity, we listened to birds and insects who perceived it was night time.  Everyone was excited but quiet.  Then the shadow started to ease off.  The entire parking lot exploded in applause, whistles, and exclamations – praise, thanking God for letting the light come back.  Children danced!

We loaded up our van and headed out.  We excitedly replayed our video recordings, discovered stars in our photos of the total eclipse, sang fun songs, and chatted on and on about the fun experiences of the day.  Everyone agreed seeing the total eclipse was well worth the half-day drive.  We even started making plans to road trip to the next one!

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

Imagination Playtime

August 8, 2017

Imagination Playtime

This morning was a surprise of miniature proportion.

First off, when I stumbled into the kitchen to start my coffee at 5:20am, my preteen was awake!

Secondly, the playroom was spotless (toyacts was creating a few new videos in the playroom the previous night).

This sparked an idea.

“Let’s play legos, want to build something together?”  My suggestion was met with rocketing jumps where my five foot tall eleven-year-old banged her head on our roof.   “Yippee!  Ouch.”

We discussed all things building; like which pieces came from which sets, which sets were missing pieces (thanks to the vacuum, Sheba’s mouth, or teething younger siblings; Rebeccah is the lego master and knows where everything went – much like me with my childhood bricks), and whose head and hair I had mismatched on my mini-figs.  (Once, I had Elron’s hair with Commissioner Gordon’s head, the result looked like a sweet old lady to me.)

Our building progressed to a tree fort with crazy entrances and exits, three towers, complete with the tallest one having a princess locked inside where her puppy is trying to save her while the Barbarian ax man is considering Chinese food. (See picture, if you can find it!)

The blue magician conjures up a storm and an adventurer seeking the everlasting flame (in the bowl, middle, second tower) will accidentally be shot by a kid bowman’s awry trick shot from the top of the bridge.  We goofed off until it was almost lunchtime.  The girl elf hair ended up paired with a repaired face that looks like it has feathery bangs to make a crossbowman.  (She was going to be an archer – my favorite – but the hair wouldn’t fit with the quiver and I couldn’t have her without ammo!)

I love delving into imagination (last night it was duplos to build tunnels for Lucas’ train and car tracks) and discovering how my kids’ brains see problems.  Building blocks bring that out.  They help teach children to think around their problems (yes, that they created, like “Mommy, I want two cars to go under it!” Jillian, last night.  Or “How are we going to camouflage this huge tree fort effectively?” Rebeccah, today.)

Oh, and don’t forget the sharks patrolling the island fort (notice the blue water on the plates?) as Rebeccah claims the most important part of any lego set are the critters included.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Doing the Boogie

August 6, 2017

Doing the Boogie

Wild edge of tropical storm winds and the distant threat of rain do not deter my kids (or me) from the ocean!  So with a scrap of time before dusk, despite the rain (we’re going to get wet anyway) we were the one crazy group playing on the seashore.  There were three or four surfers and a couple in bathing caps with frog flippers who would walk way north of us, swim out, and less than ten minutes later be south of the pier!  I pointed them out several times as an example of the strength of the ocean.

We like to stand in the edge about ankle deep and let the ocean yank the sand around us, bury our feet and ankles, and giggle at how far we move.  The bigger girls get about knee-deep and toss themselves into the breaking surf.  It’s fun, sandy, and exhilarating.  Jaquline, Jillian, and Lucas divided their time between building wet sand forts, watching the rain wash the shells into the wave’s path, and “doing the boogie.”  According to Jillian, this is lying on a boogie board in the sand and waiting for the wave to pick you up and swirl you around for a few seconds while you scream.

We get to play until the first lightning bolt shows up or when it gets close to dusk.  Everyone watches for lightning.  Three other kids joined our group and they spread out like squealing smidgens jumping into the tumultuous white water.  We always talk about the ferocious power of the water on days like this.  One of the girls inevitably drones “see the power of water” in a deep dragon voice.  They create obstacles for it out of shells and sand.  They watch the waves rip entire mountains of sand like a hungry vacuum and suck it out to sea.  They are doing construction near where we play so even bits of rock are grabbed and siphoned out to sea.

Rebeccah says the ocean reminds her of God’s power.  It’s vast, almost everywhere.  Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water.  It can be calm and friendly and is the safe harbor for thousands of creatures.  It can be rough and destructive – nothing can stand in its way.  But after the destruction, the beach is always better.  Cleaner.  Smoother.  She says it reminds her of how when we surrender our mess to God, He demolishes it and restores something better than what was before.

I love that thought.  The ocean always astounds me.  I respect its power and love its beauty.

Lucas sees fun.  That is all.  He sees “doing the boogie.”  Of course, on wild windy days, he only “does the boogie” board with Mommy or big sister holding his back and the boogie board string.  Lucas has such trust and he doesn’t need to analyze everything to appreciate it.  Sometimes I wish I could step backward into that trust.  Turn my analytical mind off and just bask in the fun.  Sit on a boogie board and giggle when the waves try to move me.  Okay, maybe that just works for those who can’t order off the big kid menu yet.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Filling Big Shoes

July 31, 2017

Filling Big Shoes

We are always trying to be like someone.  Lucas is two.  He is always trying to do “like Daddy” or “like Becky” (what he calls Rebeccah sometimes) or “like you do.” (that can be anyone)  When Daddy got his hair cut, Lucas wanted “Daddy hair.”  When Jillian is coloring, Lucas wants to “color like big me.” When Christina is cooking bacon – BACON!  Lucas pulled out the bacon from the refrigerator before Christina had finished putting the pan on the stove!  He was jumping around, yelling “BACON!  My BACON!”  (We’ve never seen him this excited over food since the last night we made popcorn.)  After discovering that the pan was too hot for him to play with the bacon, he ran through the house telling everyone “Tina making my BACON!” and jumped on Daddy yelling, “BACON!  Me eat BACON DADDY!”

Although we girls laugh, I see this passion for food rather neat.  Lucas does everything with 110% excitement and passion.  He likes watching Wild Kratts.  When that comes on he jumps up and down and yells, “YEAH!  Animal movie!”  (Actually, that can be any well-done nature documentary that shows actual animals – I can’t wait to show him “A Zebra in the Kitchen!”)  He dances with joy when he’s happy.  He wants to be like everyone around him.

We were getting ready for a date one night and Louis set his Sunday shoes down in Lucas’ reach.  (Lucas had a pair of black dress shoes that looked like Daddy’s.)  Lucas climbed into them and said, “my Daddy’s shoes!  My shoes!”  He walked around the house for a while telling the girls “Me Daddy in Daddy’s shoes.”  Of course, they played along with this asking, “Daddy, can I go…”  Lucas has learned to laugh and say “why?” with his lips stuck out.

In the way a child wants to be like their parents, grandparents, or big siblings, we should want to be more like Jesus.  It may be comical for us to see a toddler in big shoes, trying to fill them, but being woefully short, but in the same way, we do not start our journey of faith fully filling the “shoes” we perceive ourselves trying to fill.  We aren’t perfect.  We try to walk as close as we can to Jesus.  Our aim is to fill the “shoes” God has given us.  Our role, our mission, our goal.  Our life here is a gift and we should enjoy it with passion!

Sometimes it’s rather funny what type of thoughts I have when I watch my toddler on his exploration of life!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~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

DVD Books

July 23, 2017

DVD Books

I’m one of these people who loves real books.  The smell, the weight, the way my finger anxiously waits behind one edge of a page while my eyes finish it quickly – I’m immersed in the writer’s world and feel like the book surrounds me.  To me, nothing will ever replace the printed book.

I’m also a computer programmer; I understand that as the paradigm shifts with new technology some things go extinct.  We shifted from room computer brains to a tiny chip stuck in a device that fits in our palm – and this tiny smart phone is smarter than the room-sized computers!

Thus, I am a paradox.  I collect and buy print books but publish ebooks.  I love writing using colored pens in notebooks but I can format .docs and .pdfs for ebook and print submissions (everything is submitted electronically now).  Remember typewriters?  I skipped those completely.  So I’ll explore any method of presenting my books to my audience.

I have audio-books (The Home Edge Readers) as the short lecture format was easy to read.  The purpose of this custom series is to teach students new terms – so audio was a good idea as they can hear the terms pronounced.  My father is a wizard of production; he produced these.

He had another wizard idea and asked for all my rough pictures and illustrations for Long Tail.  I emailed them to him and he produced a DVD Book.  Basically, this is a DVD (plays in any normal DVD player) with the story coming up as one page on a screen with illustrations, printed words, background sounds, and audio text.  (“Grandma Pearson” reads the story as the words are on the screen.)  My girls loved this!  (It is now what Lucas calls “grandma chicken movie.”)

Vivid colors grab the audience’s attention.  There are rooster crows, farm sounds, running feet, and other background noises as the narrator reads the text that is printed on-screen.  Older children read along (like a sing-along-song video) while the activities and changing screen images keep the younger ones’ attention.

Further projects are on the way, but for now “Long Tail and Red Hawk” is our pilot DVD Book.

It’s another way to read a children’s book.  I like to compare it to a graphic novel with narration.

It’s entertaining, short, and fun.  I even catch my teenager sitting on the edge of the couch or leaning behind it, pretending she wasn’t watching the “kiddie movie” when she sees us notice her.  For about fifteen minutes, they enter Long Tail’s chicken world and they are hooked!

Learn more about it (and try it!) here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/187678255/

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~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

Capturing Places

June 24, 2017

Captured Places

Have you ever walked through a place you loved so much you drew scale drawings of it and built models?  I love architecture.  I plan each building and area – in most of my stories, even down to the plants and what color flowers are in season!

Once, I walked through a house with my parents.  This house was three levels with huge seat windows in every upstairs bedroom – the architecture of its large, open, bright rooms inspired the castle rooms in The Princess and the Swans.

The drab gray stone buildings in the K’vell training complex in Web of Deception came straight from a series of compact, functional, barracks-style buildings on an old property we explored once.

The Ann, Mary, and Susan Mysteries take place in my second-favorite childhood home.  The inside of that house is exactly as it is in real life – including the wrap-around second-floor deck and the loft-lookout bedroom on the third floor.  I added the aviaries, fields, and barn the way I wanted them (the only real-life outdoor structures in the stories are the dilapidated pool and the little next-door house) but even most of the bushes the girls hide in are on the real-life property.

In the Adventures of Long Tail, the chicken yard is exactly as we had it in the house Kimberly and Lucas were born in. (But the time stamped in those books is just before Jaquline was born.) Even the hen house is set up exactly as we had ours with the 4-level biddie brooder and incubator on top.

For me, it helps to visually see places in my worlds.  Lego bricks are great for scale buildings!  I even make maps and blueprints for most worlds and buildings so I never mess up my directions as I bounce from one storyland to another.  Continuity is very important to me (my perfectionist nature, I guess, but seriously… if Long Tail’s hen house was different each time, or if Ethan went down a different corridor each time to get to the Observation Deck, wouldn’t that be odd?)

Writing also helps me capture the best of places I remember (or dream up).  If I love a house, shed, barn, park, or yard layout, it will be in a book someday!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart