Beach Babies.

Summer Bucket List item #1

Last week we were finally able to squeeze in another day at the beach! Hurray! My sister and her husband had rented a condo at the shore for the week and invited us to come hang out so Hubby, Miss D and I packed up the car and headed south. Sadly our young Mr D had to work so he missed the sun and the sand this time.

My niece and her 8 month old little boy were staying at the condo with my sister so they came to the beach with us. As we sat there watching the baby enjoy the sand and the water for the first time, I started thinking about what a different experience the beach is for children than it is for adults. For grown-up me it’s all about soaking up the sun and relaxing with a good book and a cold drink. I find the smells and the sounds calming and rejuvenating but as a kid it was a totally different story!

When I was young, we vacationed at the shore for three days every summer. That was the amount of time my dad could stand staying in a motel! I guess he was a homebody like me. Anyway, on the ride down I couldn’t wait for that first breath of sea air. I would stick my head out the window breathing in the ocean scent, my body humming with excitement! I couldn’t wait to get to the beach.

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I love to swim and did go in the water but the ocean is a little unpredictable and I often found myself getting knocked over by a wave and ending up with stinging eyes and a mouthful of sand, so most of my day was spent creating in the sand. I realized, quite young, that you could build almost anything out of sand if you had the patience. The more sand toys the better. Anything became a mold for sand and I remember my mom saving empty containers for weeks before the trip so I would have lots of shapes and sizes to choose from. No store bought castle shaped buckets for me!

I usually built a castle as expected but I didn’t stop there! My most favorite thing to build were giant faces in the sand. I used to think that it would be fun for the pilots in the little planes that flew past the beach towing the advertisement banners to have these funny faces looking up at them. You know, give them a laugh!

I also built huge fortresses with underwater tunnels and pools made of clam shells as well as giant fish and turtles. My sand art was nothing like those amazing sand sculptures you see on the beach sometimes but they sure kept me busy for hours and hours. My parents would have to drag me off the beach at the end of the day.

When my kids were little and we went to the beach we built things in the sand too but I think as a mom I was more preoccupied with keeping them safe and happy. I didn’t get overly creative. Besides, Hubby and Mr D were usually more interested in beach sports than beach art so it was just me and Miss D left digging in the sand. I do remember a summer when Miss D was about five a group of young girls ask if they could make her a mermaid tail out of sand. She was thrilled when they finished burying her from the waist down!! Those were my kind of girls!IMG_1527

Maybe now that I am older and more relaxed on the beach I can revisit my passion for sand art. My niece’s son will be ready in a few years to help me scoop, pack and build.

How about you? Were you a beach baby?

Y is for Yard

I love my yard.

I love my house too but this time of year the yard is my most happy place. It’s not that it is an especially large or fancy yard. There is grass and flowers and trees, like you would expect, but it’s more than that. It’s our little piece of land. It’s green and alive. 

 I think this “yard love” must be something that came from my dad. He was the only one of his siblings to leave Philadelphia and haul his family across the Delaware River to New Jersey because he wanted a house in the suburbs. Mostly, I think, he wanted a yard.  Growing up in a tiny row home with no outdoor space except the front stoop and the alley between the house and its neighbor may have fueled this desire.

My parents bought their piece of suburbia in 1956. It was a brand new 3 bedroom rancher, costing four thousand dollars secured with a loan from the VA. The lot was a pretty good size but it was bare except for the new sod so dad planted some trees and put in some shrubs under the front windows. We also had blackberry bushes that grew wild along the back. That summer he bought a lawn mower and a grill and invited all his brothers and sisters to come down for a BBQ.

The next year they put up a fence and a shed and a few years later, an above ground pool. My dad worked as a truck driver in the city. This was sweaty, hot work in the summer so every night he would come home, put on his swim suit and dive in that pool before we even sat down to dinner. I like to imagine him floating around, looking up at the blue sky and thinking “Ahh! This is the life.”

I’m channeling that same sentiment when I sit looking out at our yard. I admire how lush and green the grass is and how big the nectarine tree that my husband bought me a few years ago forMother’s Day is getting. I remember all the birthday parties our kids have had out there and how many holiday BBQs  we’ve celebrated. It’s my little paradise. My Dad would have loved it too. 

Q is for the Quick Brown Fox…

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The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

How many people recognize that sentence? Probably quite a few hands went up.

According to Wikipedia….

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is an English-language pangram—a phrase that contains all of the letters of the alphabet. It is commonly used for touch-typing practice. It is also used to test typewriters and computer keyboards, show fonts, and other applications involving all of the letters in the English alphabet. Owing to its brevity and coherence, it has become widely known.

Okay, now, how many of you practiced that sentence on a manual typewriter? Hmmm. Lots of hands went down!

Students still learn touch typing only now it’s called “keyboarding”. I tried to explain to my third graders what a typewriter was one day. I was met with a lot of blank stares. I could have confused them further if I’d told them that my older sister learned shorthand when she was in school (Shorthand?) and then used touch type to translate her shorthand.

I can touch type pretty quickly and it’s definitely a very useful skill. Hubby uses a rapid-fire, two-finger, hunt-and-peck typing style. Not sure what class he took. There is no denying that computers and word processing make writing documents easier and more convenient but sometimes I still get nostalgic for the old days….

Remember those little strips of white paper you could put under the keys to correct mistakes? And who could forget good old Liquid Paper! Then there was the neat way the keys would all jam up if you hit them too fast. I can still hear that little bell that rang when you reached the end of the page. Each and every time you reached the end of the page.. Ahh, memories. Of course after so many years typing on a computer keyboard, I’d probably sprain my fingers if I tried to push down regular typewriter keys again!  I guess there’s a lot to be said for progress after all.

I is for Information

Hubby and I love to watch the kids roll their eyes whenever we start a sentence with “When I was a kid….” so I think I will dedicate this post to them, just for the fun of it.

Gathering information sure has changed. When I was a kid we couldn’t just turn on the computer or our iPhone and search Google. No sir. We had to work a lot harder.

I wonder if anyone under the age of 25 can tell me what these are:

These were the Google And Wikipedia  of my childhood. If you had to do a report for school about the rain forest or you needed to know the population of San Juan then you whipped out one of these babies. They are called encyclopedias. Say it with me…encyclopedias. If you were lucky, mom and dad had invested in your education by purchasing a set of these information pods. If not, you hauled yourself to the library and found a set in the “reference” section. That meant you could look at  them while you were in the library but you couldn’t check them out. I remember scribbling down as much information as I could before the library closed. Occasionally I would have to ask the librarian to make a photo copy of a page for me to take home but that cost money.

Here’s another one:

The card catalog and the exciting Dewey Decimal System. Each drawer contained a little GPS to the information you required. There was always a little box of scrap paper on top of the cabinet so you could write down all the numbers you needed. These days you can find card catalog cabinets in antique stores. Some people use them for sewing or craft supplies.

Here is my favorite:

The microfilm viewer. These babies were used to view information that the library didn’t have room to store in paper form. I remember using them to look up old newspaper articles that had been photographed and put on a long spool of film. You had to load the film and then crank the handle past various articles till you found the one you wanted. They always had a funny smell, kind of like my dad’s old super 8 movie camera.

So the next time my kids whine about how slow the Internet is or how the copier/scanner is low on ink, I’m going to pull up this post and say “When I was a kid…”. 😄