Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Sound of Summer

Its sound can stop one's running feet in his tracks, causing them to find a more leisurely stride.

Its sound clears hands from the railing that helps others find their footing on a slippery slope.

Its sound brings the sight of simultaneously exploding geysers and the sudden calming of tumultuous waves.

Its sound coincides with the rumblings of thunder, when dark clouds signal an oncoming storm beyond the simple shower that would have otherwise kept the sound from being heard.

Its sound comes from the one called to serve and protect in the fast lanes and slow shallows of the summer life.


Time to go back in the pool already...?!

* * *

The lifeguards' whistle is leaving quite an impression on us this summer, can you tell?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Very Appeeling

If you follow CJ's blog, then you already know about this story. (This is what happens when there are technical difficulties at home, and someone is borrowing your laptop. Swiper, no swiping posts! Love you, CJ!)

So, CJ's Vacation Bible School group--the big kids--had a missions rotation in with their morning schedule. The entire VBS collected school supplies to pass along to children in the Richmond area who cannot afford their own. (Read friend Cassie's post to learn more about one of these beneficiaries--the Free Market.) CJ's group had the task of cleaning up and re-packaging the donated, used supplies into something usable and wonderful.

We have had an old gallon container filled with broken crayons for a number of years now. At one point, a teacher of CJ's had a resource that would take the crayons if they were peeled of their labels. We tried to accomplish that, but it proved monotonously difficult for a second grader and her mom! So, we stowed them on the craft shelf.

When I heard about the missions focus, I thought about those crayons, and suggested to CJ that she bring them in and propose to her group that they melt down the crayons and make new ones out of them.

Ecstatically, she shared the idea with the group with the start of the VBS week. By the end of the week, she had brought home all the broken crayons collected that week.

Oh! A life lesson I hate to admit occurs more often than seems fair--If you suggest it, it is yours!

But, CJ remained encouraged, peeling papers and separating all of the crayons into color groups. I was encouraged, too. We will do this!

If you read her post on this, you know she suffered an "injury" caused by overpeeling. "Why are these labels so hard to get off?" she asked repeatedly. Two reasons, I said. One, so that kids will know what color they are coloring with. Second, and most important, so that kids will know who made the crayons. (True, yes?)

Into the oven...Melting at 200 degrees for 20 minutes or so.

Cooling down.

Good enough to eat? Don't look for peanut butter in there!

36 fabulous colors!

Boxed and ready for someone special!

And I'm proud of my girl for hanging in there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Raining? Let it Pour!

Years ago, my sister gave us a beautiful cream shower curtain. It was one that she was giving up, and I was glad to take it. It had lots of lovely trim on it, and I knew it would look great wherever it went.

When we moved into this house, the only place for the shower curtain was the girls' bathroom. Nothing wrong with that, except for a long while, we were giving only baths in the "splashing" tub, and the shower curtain was more of a nuisance than a helpful feature.

When CJ started taking regular showers, and we had turned the bathroom into a beachscape--with the girls' sealife art, their photos at the beach and real shells, I thought it might be time to bring the shower curtain back. After a summer at the beach, one in which we had tie-dyed T-shirts, I thought it would be cool to tie-dye the shower curtain blue, to match with the wavy look in the tub room.

Hardly an expert at the science of tie-dying--and there is more science than art, it turns out--I dyed the curtain. It was an awesome blue, and the rubber bands left some neat patterns. The next step was to wash the curtain in the washer. It was after this step that I realized a small problem. The shower curtain was not 100 percent cotton. In fact, it's 100 percent polyester! Think about trying to dye plastic. Hmm.... Blue dye ain't tomato sauce, and I was losing color!

Then, inventing what I thought would be a way to save what dye had managed to be absorbed (into what, I don't know), I ironed the curtain! The iron left quite an impression--literally!--in several places.

I put the shower curtain away again.

* * *

Last week, we had a nice afternoon rain shower than kept us all inside and itching for a project. I pulled out the shower curtain.

"OK, girls! Let's paint!!" I said.

I brought out every bottle, tube and marker of fabric paint that we own, and let the girls have at it.

Within minutes, we had an abstract beach scene, with sandcastle, boardwalk, shells, handprints in the sand and the brilliant colors of a tropical beach umbrella.

"You hung it up?!" said CJ.

Probably a better choice than putting it in the washer. Enjoy it while it lasts, girls.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Beachy Keen

"We went to the beach...just Grandma and me."

So begins the Mercer Mayer book, Just Grandma and Me. Since 2001 (minus a year in the mountains), we have joined my Mom and Dad, and my sisters and their families, on a beach vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I have never loved the beach more.

This year, I marveled at how big all the kids are (and how did
that happen!?). Back when they were all in the single digits, we wondered if they would ever put a toe in the ocean.

Now, we have the "Surf Club" (as CJ profiles on her blog). Indeed, for CJ, the board isn't attached to her wrist so much as she is attached to the board!

That is, until the wind seizes the board from the sand.

RJ2 spent lots of time in the water, with me running behind her in case she forgot to watch for a wave. (Yes, I did manage to find time to sew up my SPF40 waders to wear with my rash guard. SO COMFY!) She made the lovely discovery that sand doesn't only feel good between the toes when you're running away from mom, but it makes an excellent canvas for drawing people.

She cooled everybody down with a squirt bottle. And it's a good thing I can still catch up with her, because not everybody she tried to squirt was in the family. (My niece is about to get an earshot here!)

RJ2 also shared a few lines from Just Grandma and Me with a young woman in a lounge chair and felt it necessary to act out the lines "then I covered her up [with sand] and tickled her toes" on the gal, who giggled sweetly with her girlfriends. ("C'mon, RJ2--let's go!!")

My hubby worked his magic with the sand as well.

There were other moments in the sand.

The path to the Jockeys Ridge dunes begins with a beautiful boardwalk through some dense greenery. It's the place to catch your last cool breath before you head out into the "desert." Unfortunately, within a step of this photo, RJ2 started her version of basketball sprinting drills--back to the start, forward to the dunes, back toward the start, forward toward the dunes. In the excitement (i.e., panic), I lost the string to her Super Grover kite. I'm sure the yellow-rumped warblers who call the green thickets their home will make good use of it in a nest someday.

We did make it to the dunes.

And we needed to take in the moment, apparently.

The kids flew their kites, which is the real reason they come to Jockeys Ridge. As my Dad said, when asked how the trip was, "Kites go up. Kites come down." And tired kids, parents and grandparents go refuel at Five Guys.

The girls found the strength to pose for a picture together before we left, but didn't have the energy to smile.

OK...time to go, then.

A bunch of the kids went on their annual fishing and crabbing excursion to the inlet by the Currituck Lighthouse. Lots of nibbling, but nothing that stayed on the line for long.

The rest of us went on a new side trip to the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. I had read an article in Family Fun--complete with boardwalk picture through the woods. It was awesome!

I had told RJ2 that the boardwalk would end at a beach, so she decided she needed her bathing suit. I was wrong about the beach at the end. The walk ended with deck seating into the inlet, but she forgot about the beach by the time we got there. (Plus, my sister brought snacks!)

We saw great wildlife.

There is an offshoot from the boardwalk trail that leads deeper into the woods, through pine trees, white oaks and other coniferous trees. The little ones weren't up for going another hour into the woods, so we gave it up for next year. (I'll be back! And I think we'll have some crab fisherpeople joining us.)

We were in a new beach house, for us, this year, and the backyard proved to be an outstanding volleyball court. With 19, you can form two teams and still have some people available to blow giant bubbles over you.

Grandma brings (...mails....) sweet surprises--like homemade whoopie pies from a bakery in Maine! (Raspberry cream is amazing!)

Kids actually sleep sometimes.

And everyone has a good time!

(Thanks again, Mom and Dad.)

"We had a good time at the beach. Just Grandma and me."

Monday, July 13, 2009


Made it home from the annual family beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Lovely weather!

Rash guards are COOL!

Ice cream on check-out morning is still a highlight....

More to come

(And, yes, my anklet is on!)

P.S. Horseshoe crab shell is real. Unfortunately, the crab didn't fare as well. (Did you think I would pick it up otherwise?)