Aging Gracefully – No Way!

February 22, 2016

For anyone who is still in the dark and doesn’t know about my new book, my latest western, Loving Matilda was released February 9. See the end of this post for more info.

With that out of the way, I still have books to write. But I intend to spend a little less time writing for the next few weeks and spend some time taking care of some personal things such as housekeeping, which I neglect completely while writing. But when I look into the mirror, I think I need to spend some time on myself. What the heck happened?

I realize the house needs a new coat of paint in a few rooms. But it’s not so easy with one’s body, which is really a shame. A fresh coat of paint works wonders. I want the same results in a bottle of perfumed oil that I can paint on me!

Since I don’t have tons of money, I’m going to have to live with the changes that time has wrought. There’s nothing I can do about the fact that my face has decided it wants to become my chin. Who knew?

And my chin willingly is accommodating this southbound movement by turning into a wattle. Apparently, that will make me very sexy and attractive to female chickens. And considering I don’t have a backyard full of chickens, I’m not going to be feeling any warm fuzzies when I walk outside. Unfortunately, humans don’t find it as attractive as our feathered friends.

A few years ago, I woke up and discovered that I had bat wings or flying squirrel arms, I’m not sure which. They weren’t there when I went to bed. Then that feminine post-baby bump deflated and fell one night about 35 years after that child was born. After the fall, I had an “apron”. I’m getting seriously tired of body parts shifting position. What used to be here is now down there. Why is that?

Even the girls are in competition to see which one can make it to my waist first. You’d think they would be on my side. Truthfully, they are. When I lie on my back, they slide over and snuggle under my arms.

If it is supposed to be tight, it is loose, and if it is supposed to be loose, it’s so tight nothing short of extensive physiotherapy will permit its movement. First it was the knees, followed by the ankles, now it’s a shoulder. I need to replace a few things in the house. I’m not about to start replacing body parts!

My legs look great -in a pair of skinny jeans. Peel those jeans off and I have road maps. Blue and red legs are not pretty, but wait… With all the tattoos, I could just tattoo the names of a few cities on them and I’ll be with the times. This calf is NYC and here’s LaGuardia Airport.  This one is DC, and LA is over there on the other leg. That wide blue line is Interstate 95. A few stars for Points of Interest and I’m in style.

I’m officially old. It’s true. I was in a tiny, locally-owned restaurant and chatted with the young waitress there. She’s in her early 20’s,  going to college, just the cutest little thing, and as sweet as she can be. The last time I had seen her, a friend and I had stopped in one snowy evening. We were the only customers there. Well, this area never gets really huge snowstorms, but I was telling her about the last one I had been in. Apparently she went home and told her parents and younger siblings my story. When she saw me again, she couldn’t wait to tell me what everyone had said. Her recount to me was, I told my family about this old lady who comes into the restaurant and…

Omigod, she was talking about me! I’m not old! My hair isn’t gray. Okay, I’ll admit my hairdresser does a wonderful job of blending/hiding what gray I do have. It’s nothing more than a silver streak right in the front and a few threads here and there. I’m just not ready for silver hair. But silver hair does not make me old. I know plenty of people go gray in their twenties.

I refuse to be old! I’m not even old enough to collect Social Security. I married young, had my children when I was young, and I’m still way too young to be a widow. I’ve reached that point in my life where I’m young enough to do anything I please, and too old to do anything that I don’t want to do. That’s not a bad place to be.

drumsdrumsDrum roll, please!

Here’s my new book.

EA

Loving Matilda

E. Ayers

http://amzn.to/241E1cR

Matilda “Matt” Berwyn, forced to live disguised as a boy in a mining town, longs to escape and blossom into the female she’s always wanted to be. But her desire to leave Morgan’s Crossing escalates when she realizes she’s being stalked.

Stockyard hand Zeke Hillerman knows her secret and has fallen in love with her. He helps her flee to his parents’ home in the east to learn to be a lady, while he struggles to start his own ranch. As Matilda grapples with Victorian expectations of young women, Zeke’s plans for their future unravel, and he realizes that the cost of her ticket out of Morgan’s Crossing may have been his own heart.

 


It’s the New Year!

January 1, 2016

I had a manuscript that was on a deadline, and I was failing miserably to get it finished. Now it’s in the edit process which can also be hectic. But that is a hurry up and then wait. Life tends to insert itself at all the wrong times and this fall was one of those times. So I stressed and I wrote. I have no idea how many books I managed to turn out in 2015. I’d honestly have to look it up. Several books went to print, several were bundled, and in the meantime I was writing.

I’m not going to go through that this year. I’m putting my foot down and saying no! I do have an unusual chance to do something odd concerning our local newspaper, but I have to catch up on some other things before I even think about tackling that project. But ornament_hollythat project is calling to me.

The Authors of Main Street are already talking about a new Christmas project for 2016.  That’s a yes. But some of the other things? I’m slapping a big NO! on them.

Being an author means sitting in front of the keyboard and turning words into sentences and putting sentences together to form paragraphs, and paragraphs to chapters until I reach the end of the story. I’m a slow typist and that correlates into lots of hours of sitting. Sitting is not good for me. I need to be more active.  So I need to cut down on the number of projects that require me to sit here and type. No, I’m not joining the gym!coffee cup

But I do need a life. True, I do hang out with friends almost nightly at one of my local Starbucks. I guess you could argue that it’s having a life, but I want more! When I get into these writing binges, my housework goes out the window and never returns. Does a dirty, messy house effect a writer’s mind? I’m going to say no, I can ignore all sorts of messes and dirt, but I’d much rather live in a serene house that is clean. Well, it’s not going to happen by itself!

bedEver notice when you redo a room, maybe paint it and fix it all pretty, that you gravitate to the room? I have. That’s telling me that my mind wants to be in a clean pretty place. I can survive with this but I want that. I’m not going to paint this house by myself! Not with the super tall ceilings that I have. But I do intend to get it clean, organized, and probably painted. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and it has never been painted. Never!  The only way any of that will happen is if I get away from the computer for a few hours each day, because it’s such a mess right now that I couldn’t hire someone to paint it. (And I know someone who will give me a great deal on painting!)

Also I was given a fabulous camera. It’s an older model but I’ve used this camera for years so I’m comfortable with it. I want a chance to spend more time with it and take more pictures. This is something that my muse craves. When I grab that great pic, I get that Adrenalin rush of a junkie. Why not spend time allowing my muse to find beauty in all things? Plus it gets me out of the house – into nature, and places that I wouldn’t have gone when I’m at the computer. Furthermore, I’m sniffing some fresh air and getting some exercise.  I’m not against exercise, I just don’t like gyms. Go take a nature walk for an hour and not on some pretty, flat path.  You’ll get a workout and a big, fat dose of fresh air with Mothere-reader Nature.

And can you imagine how many books are on my Kindle waiting for me to read them? Not just books but books that I really want to read? I need to feed my mind with words other than my own.

I think it’s all beginning to sound as though I’m going to have a life beyond the keyboard. But don’t worry, I intend to keep writing. Maybe it will be one day day a week that I spend away from the computer and that coupled with a few hours each day taking care of my home, etc. will mean less hours to write. And that might count up to one less book a year, but I think having a chance to refresh my mind and body will be a positive thing both on a personal level and as an author.

I don’t make resolutions, I make plans!


Winter Dreams by Toca

December 12, 2015
skyPathArchesSo…
Like a region wrapped in grief
Temple starlings ruffle in the cool air.
Hands with pennies flatten to see
Lincoln or the wall.  Bright dreams clamor.
Dark dreams dig.
Along the road, bright morning, a skull on a pick-up holds
Roped to the grill a little off-center.
I can’t read to you with this voiceless speech
Tongue-tied dreamer.  The world has varied
And we are its disease.
A Nature Walk…
I have never seen an actual river cut through mountains to reach the sun.  In my mind’s eye, though, I see it.
I have never safely borrowed dreams, but where every word is just that, I cry like a wolf.
Stupendous deeds done by others are riddles on my blank slate.  It never quite washes clean anymore.  It did once.
I rule the rights the government withdraws these bitter nights.  There’s no rule really.  If you are quiet you can hardly hear it.
Disorder only bothers me now.  In trying to paint visions, I didn’t care.
My cats are solemn.  When I painted, they were alive.  Zoe batted a Christmas bow past the turquoise pillow which a Buddhist in my meditator gave me once.  Then Zoe watched and pounced.  Adonai Jai watched from the cat tree.
They are with me.  It was a mistake to stop.  If there are forests on those mountains I would go there.  But they’re rock.
There is a paper dragon in the wardrobe and you are on your own tonight.  The best course is through the woods, the woods continue…
file8591279120313winter woods
The Message:  Put your Art first.  Art is your version of God, your Creed.  To say your visions are just a sign of aging is absurd.  I will remake you.  I will make you whole.
A poet said about poetry that it was like our current day’s Creed.  She did not say it was our current God.  She spoke at Christ & St. Luke’s Church in November of 2015.  I can’t find her name right now, but she teaches in a small college.  I think it is in Philadelphia.
 

THOUGHT YOU’D ENJOY SOMETHING DIFFERENT. TOCA IS A WONDERFUL FRIEND AND POET.


Friends with Books & Writing Sexy

September 22, 2015

I have friends in this business and they often ask me to announce a new release. Tina Donahue is one of those friends. She’s part of a boxed set with some sexy-hot stories to warm you on these cooler autumn nights.

That’s my way of warning you that some of these books are probably hotter than most of my western readers prefer. I’ve warned everyone before that I have friends who write molten hot stories. I think that everyone has the right to write whatever they want and to read whatever they want!

Okay, if you’ve read any of my River City books you know I can write some very sexy stories. I just manage to do it without using certain words. Why? I don’t don’t like those words. Yet what makes certain books erotic are the words that are used. I’m not a prude, but when I write about love, those words don’t come into my head. Sex is a normal part of the whole courting/love process. Whether anyone indulges in the sex is a personal decision. Just as it is a personal decision to read about it.

If you read my westerns, they are sexy! I don’t ignore all those wonderful feelings. I think the difference is I don’t shove it in the readers face. The feelings are there, but the actions are not. In my more urban stories, such as my River City books, the reader will encounter the actions without the words that to me degrade the love. (Just my opinion!)

But boxed sets on sale for 99c are an awesome way to get to read a variety of authors for pennies a book. And I believe that the books in Falling in Love range from sexy to hot. I’ve not read any of these stories, so you are on your own! But I’m going to get my copy!

By the way, I don’t think any of these books are short stories! I think each is a full-length novel.

 

 

FallingInLove_BoxedSet_Kindle-1

Amazon: http://goo.gl/0orRn8

 AVAILABLE NOW – 99¢

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/Lvub_4ux_pw

 Recapture the moment . . . Falling in Love

Eight sensual, heartwarming contemporary romances featuring NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors.
WALK LIKE A MAN, a heartwarming novel by award-winning author Suz deMello
A heroine to root for, a wounded hero who’s pure fantasy, two lovable characters who can’t help falling in love . . .

MAKE ME BREATHLESS, a steamy novella by bestselling author Tina Donahue
Two rugged cowboys know what they want: the biker chick who just became their neighbor. Falling in love can sometimes happen for three, not just two . . .

COMMITMENT, a sexy romantic novella by award-winning author Ann Jacobs
For these long-time lovers, falling in love means learning that commitment doesn’t have to mean losing the magic they’ve shared . . .

LOVE ME NOW, a sexy novella by USA Today bestselling author Ari Thatcher
Long ago, he inadvertently overlooked her, but he can’t get enough of her laughter now. He’ll give anything now for a chance to earn her love . . .

A KILLING TIDE, NY Times bestselling novel by PJ Alderman
He’s investigating a killing, and her brother is his prime suspect. Not the best timing for romance, but neither he nor she can resist falling in love, no matter what . . .

WORTH THE WAIT, a sexy novella by bestselling author Lynn LaFleur
Falling in love can happen at first sight. He does, and he’s determined to persuade the woman who’s given up on the emotion that Happily Ever After is not a myth, but a certainty . . .

IMPULSIVE PLEASURES, an erotic novella by award-winning author KyAnn Waters
Neither the difference in their ages nor the inconvenient circumstances that bring them together can make them resist each other. Falling in love happens when it’s least expected . . .

GEEK MEETS GIRL, a novella set in the world of sci-fi reenactments, by Kathryn Lively
A Time Lord, a Trekker, and a ghostbuster walk into a science fiction convention. One finds love, one finds trouble, one finds both . . .

Sensual Romances for Every Mood

Let me know if you buy a copy. Tina likes to know who is buying her books!

And let me know what your take is on sexy romances – just much do you like to read? Or as people say today, that’s too much information. What’s your preferred heat level?


The Faster I Go, the Behinder I Get

September 14, 2015

My out of control to-do list:

I know I must catch this site up to date!

I know, I know, I need to do my website, too!

My desk is a wreck with piles of papers that are threatening to fall over onto the floor.

The wreath on the front door needs to be changed from summer to autumn. That means the porch needs a good scrubbing before it gets too cold.

I have rooms in this old house that are begging for a deep cleaning and a coat of paint!

I have the edits that need to be done for my upcoming Christmas story. Oh, it’s cute. (Crossing my fingers that you’ll love this story.) Remember Frank from Mariner’s Cove?  The irresponsible cousin? Well, Frank’s grown up. He still loves motocross, but that accident took him out of competing, besides he’s not the right build for such a sport. Except he still loves to ride motorcycles!

Well, he’s back and the adrenaline rush that he once got from competing… Oh, he found it in the courtroom…for a little while. That concept of charging in for the win soon wore off. Now he’s run away to Mariner’s Cove to make some decisions about his life.

I have another manuscript (Clare Coleman’s story) partially written, sitting in the background that’s begging for time. I’m committed to three more stories, including a historical western that must be completed by various dates between now and spring

I’m playing with characters in my head for that historical western and just when I think I have a story – I back off from it. If I can get past one scene in my head, I think I’ll be ready to write it.

You know what a perfectionist I am. I don’t write fluffy stories. I have a wonderful female lead for this story. She’s cemented in my head. She’s feisty and gritty, has seen the tougher side of life. She’ll never be a prissy female. I love her! But creating a hero who is strong enough to handle her… I’m having my problems. So as they do in the theatre – it’s cattle calls, except they are in my head! So one scene and one hero.

Now let’s add some more real life into the mix. UGH! Yes, I have a real life, or at least, I’m supposed to have one, right?

I’ve got a guy working on my yard and I need to get him back here to do some more. He’s awesome! He knows my perennials when he sees them. He’s not cheap but he’s worth it. But I must be here when he’s here.

I also have the County Fair. I love the Fair! I’m the photographer for our local fair. I’ve been with the Fair in various capacities since before the Fair was reinstated in 1994. But being the photographer is the best job! I actually get to see the entire Fair, meet with people, and enjoy myself.

The Fair is one of those jobs that for a few days, I’m no one other than me. No one even cares that I’m an author. I’m just one more cog in the wheel that makes the whole thing happen. There’s a full year of planning and hard work that goes into the event, and the people who are doing it are friends.  Some are new and some are old.

Some have retired, declaring it’s time to let the younger ones do it. The Grim Reaper has taken a few too soon, a few have moved far away, including my very best friend, and several have had life changes that caused them to step away. So when I walk into a meeting, it’s filled with old faces and new.  But I love seeing those “old” faces.

Maybe some day I’ll write a series of books all based around a county fair. (I live in the east. We have farmers, not ranchers.) But I love our farmers. A little rain never stops our farmers – those city folks stay away if rain is predicted, but not the farmers. They aren’t going to melt! They are there to have fun! They work hard and play hard.

I also love the bull riding! Okay, I’ll admit I have this cow thing. It comes from being raised in dairy country.  There’s something extra special about playing with a calf and letting it suck on your fingers. But those bulls are raised to perform in the ring. They aren’t friendly!

BTW, I’ll let you in on a secret about bull riding.  Those four-legged boys know that when they go back to the pen after their performance in the ring, they are going to get a treat! Yep, it’s waiting for them! But they also seem to enjoy the noise or maybe they don’t. Anyway, they aren’t always good about going back. And don’t ever think that they won’t hurt the people who work with them! They are not pets. When you see those folks scrambling, they aren’t faking it! Riders get hurt, clowns get hurt, and even judges get hurt! I swear bovines are not the smartest of creatures. They fall on the low end of the scale for intelligence.

Oh, here’s another secret. There is a rope that goes around the bull’s abdomen. It’s what the riders hang onto with one hand. Many people think it wraps the bull’s…male anatomy. Nope! It does fit the narrowest part of their underside. It has to do that.  The bull rider can’t have it sliding around, therefore it must wrap the skinniest part. But it’s not there to hurt the bull. Although I don’t think the bull is real fond of having a tight rope around him. Would you be? I don’t think so!

Did you know that the bull earns points, too?  He’s as important as the rider. And if he earns enough points, he can go pro, too! That makes the bull’s owner happy.

I love the chickens. I’m drawn to certain breeds. If my memory serves me correctly, it’s the Polish chickens that always look like they are having a bad hair day. Seeing them just makes me laugh. There must be hundreds of breeds and for fun, people collect them.

And I love watching the children. The 4-H kids as they show off their lambs and goats, and the children who have never touched a farm animal. Some great photo ops there!

I’m very partial to that whole Ag (agriculture) area because for years it was my area. I was the chairperson in charge of it. I grew it from one small tent to several large ones with a chairperson for each tent. I’m definitely a proud Ag “parent” when I see all those big tents today.

So this week I will take something like 800 photos a day and then I must whittle  all the photos down to about 100 great ones. It’s a huge job that must be done in a very short time.

I think I’m off topic!  Oh, well my point is  my to-do list is getting way too long. And considering this is my county fair week, I have plenty to do. So anything that isn’t directly related to the Fair is pushed to one side. This is my week to give back to my community.

I intend to enjoy this week as I have done for the last 23 years.  I don my western hat, and my denim shirt that says photographer, arm myself with a couple of cameras, and pack a bag filled with lens, batteries, etc. My muse gets yanked in a different direction and recharged. I see old friends who I haven’t seen in a year and I make some new ones!

When it’s over and all the photos are filed, I’ll be exhausted and facing my to-do list which has lost a week. That will put me further behind. But I promise I’ll post a few photos.


Classes on Writing a Novel

September 5, 2015

The Portsmouth, Virginia library system is sponsoring a series of classes on writing a novel.

So many people think that writing a novel is easy. It’s not. Some will say there are rules for writing. That’s somewhat true. There are things that make a novel great and if you want to call them rules go right ahead. But these elements make a difference between road DSC09455-Bho-hum and oh-wow!

Lots of people think they have a great idea for a novel, but they have no idea where to begin. That’s where this class comes in handy. A story is like a road trip. You need to avoid the congestion and detours, cope with the flat tires and other things that are beyond control, and create a cohesive, compelling story. You want your readers engaged and enjoying every minute of their journey through your book.

Now here’s the fun part! It’s FREE! That’s right. FREE! Why? Because the library is library file8411260069817sponsoring it. They don’t charge! Colleges charge. Individuals charge. But libraries are there to serve the people, and they don’t charge! So this is a SUPER deal!

write file7391308350582You have the story in your head. This class will teach you how to put your words into a novel that people will love! Because in this day and age, anyone can put a bunch of words together, and call it a book. Creating a story that people will love takes effort!

The fun part of this is that the classes are in the afternoon, which allows those who live further way to make the trip to Portsmouth, VA.  Four consecutive Saturdays, starting September 26, will guide you through writing a novel. The facilities are fantastic! So bring your laptop or paper, and be prepared for a wonderful writing road trip to success!

Do you have the next best-selling novel in your head that’s begging for you to write it? Sign up for this series of classes. Class size is limited. So sign up today!

http://www.portsmouth-va-public-library.com/blog/navigating-the-novel-writing-classes/

I’m cross posting this information to my blog. Please feel free to pass it along to anyone you know in the area. This is a fabulous set of classes for the newbie or a seasoned writer, and it’s FREE!


Vacation, Beach, and Children

August 3, 2015

(Re-blogged from the Authors of Main Street. Why write two different posts?)

It’s almost hard for me to comprehend not being at the beach, but I’m sure there are tons of children and adults who will be visiting the shore for the first time ever! For one of our authors here on Main Street, this coming week will be a family vacation to the Atlantic coastline. As we all wished her a wonderful holiday, I began to assemble what I thought everyone should know about traveling with children and the beach. I grew up going to the beach in the summer. And as I’ve probably mentioned, I was a surfer. Then as a teen, I moved to an island off the coast of New Jersey. I was in heaven! After I married, we moved to the SE corner of Virginia, where Virginia Beach provides some wonderful beaches tucked to the Atlantic by the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. So taking my kids to the beach was quite simple.

When you grow up with easy access to the beach, you do things almost without thinking. You assume everyone knows, but they don’t! So here are my tips for traveling with children especially for those headed for the beach!

 

Getting There:

  •  Turn off the DVD!
  •  Grab up a handful of plastic poker chips. The cheap ones from the dollar stores work just fine. (I’ll explain as I go. I know I was a bad mother. I even taught them to play 21. It sharpened their math skills.) Issue each child a few poker chips. Color doesn’t matter.
  •  Windows are there so children can look out and actually see something!
  •  It’s time to sing! I promise 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall can kill some time! And it teaches them to count backwards! Okay I really was a bad mother. I should have sung 100 Bottles of Milk on the Wall. But my kids learned to sing beer. They thought it was funny. If they goofed up and said the wrong numeral, they have to give up a chip. If you goof, you have to pay each child a chip.
  •  License plates are a great way of keeping them glued to what is around them especially if you are driving on a boring super highway. The person who can spot the furthest state/providence/county (must be verified) gets a chip. They learn a little geography doing this. If they are old enough to write them down, the one who sees the most plates gets a chip.
  •  And the ABC game, I’d forgotten until Pepper brought it up, is quite simple. They must do it in order. A is for automobile, B is for boat or billboard, C is for cat, chicken, corn, or cotton in the field. Take turns and each must find/see whatever starts with the next letter of the alphabet. It’s not easy! Oh, it starts easily enough, but after a while there are few letters that seem almost impossible. If they give up, they have to give up a chip! Then move to the next letter. I always allowed Dairy Queen (an ice cream/fast food restaurant here in the USA) for the Q. The X is another killer! It’s up to you if you will allow Exxon or FedEx – I figured it wasn’t exactly cheating – at least they found an X.
  •  Always travel with pillows and blankets.
  •  Super cheap cameras! There are tiny key-chain style digital cameras. Let them take pictures. A three year old can take a photo. These are their memories of their trip!

The Beach!beach DSCN0820

  • When taking the kids to swim at the beach, make certain that they have the brightest swimsuits. No cute blue, white or green ones that allow them to blend in to the ocean! You want florescent orange, brilliant yellow, day-glow red, and super hot-pink ones. When searching the beach, you want your kids to stand out!
  • Pack baby powder! And a bottle of alcohol. Baby powder removes the sand from the body especially the toes! Flip-flops and sandals feel horrible when there is sand between the toes! Or between the feet and the straps. Alcohol is for everything from cuts to jellyfish stings. It’s cheap – don’t dab, just pour.
  • Bring lots of sunscreen. I love the new ones that come in colors. You can see if you’ve missed a spot when applying. Okay, you’ve now painted your child pink, purple, blue, or green. Of course they look like freaks. It goes away in a few minutes and they will return to their normal color. Be careful, there is a one that does hold the color, but it’s meant more for those who live in the sun such as lifeguards. Don’t forget to do the part or cowlick in their hair, and to go under their suits. Bathing suits have a strange way of slipping down or riding up. And Mom, get your cleavage! OMG! It hurts if you get burned there! There are spots down there that have probably never ever seen sunlight!
  •  Oh, and salt water will remove sunscreen so darn fast! Reapply frequently. I don’t care what the bottle says. The ocean is full of sand and it just lightly sandpapers off anything on the skin! Reapply when they get out of the water! Remember, when at the beach, they are probably getting triple the amount of sun compared to what they would get in their backyard or neighborhood pool!
  • If the children have blue eyes make certain they have sunglasses – it’s harder on blue-eyed children than brown-eyed ones – same goes for adults! Be prepared. Someone will loose his or her sunglasses. Cheap ones work just fine on the beach. The sun is reflected off the water and the sand! But reflected sun in their eyes will make them tired and cranky.
  •  And, Mom & Dad, don’t forget to wear sunglasses – good ones! Trying to look across the beach or into the water to see your children with all that glare… Nope! You need good sunglasses that will cut the glare. You need to see your children. Wear a really cheap pair in the water if you don’t want to take your shades off. The ocean has a way of snagging that favorite pair of sunglasses!
  •  If you have three children, but only two adults, take turns taking them out into deeper water. Let the other two splash and play at the edge. No deeper than their knees while an adult takes one out. Mine could swim, so tossing them into the waves or letting them body surf towards shore was fun. (They have to hold their body very rigid with their hands stretched in front of them to body surf. And I guess it helps to know exactly when to push them in front of that wave.) If they aren’t swimmers, just let them jump the waves while holding your hand.
  •  Never let the children sit in the sand where the water rolls up onto them. That will pack 5 pounds of sand into their bathing suit bottoms and stretch it out of shape! Have them sit on their knees. That also means they can rise up faster if a bigger wave washes onto them.
  •  Ask the lifeguard if there is a shelf where the land drops away, sandbar, or anything you should know about. Each beach is different and most of the time lifeguards are assigned to a particular beach. They know the water and where it drops off or if there is any undertow. (I promise, most lifeguards are very well trained!) Where there are waves, there will be undertow. Most beaches will shut down if there is sufficient undertow to be a problem. But it can happen quickly and without warning. Never go out where you cannot touch the bottom!
  •  Take an overcast day and people think they won’t get any sun. Ha! You can burn quicker on an overcast day. Some people think thebeach_DSC3081 clouds filter something out which allows the burning rays to come through. (I have no clue!) See that person who is fried to a bright lobster-red crisp? TOURIST!!! But sometimes people just don’t know. Ever try to get a severely sunburned child to sleep? They are miserable! Prevention is everything! Sunburn is just as bad a burn from anything hot. Pink is a first degree. A burn that blisters later is a second-degree burn (quite common among sunbathers) and third is an instant blister. Those with super fair skin, usually found on blondes and redheads tend to have third degree burns.
  •  Mom, if you are pregnant…beware! I’m not sure what it is about the female body and hormones, but you will burn like crazy if you are pregnant! Read over all medications, including birth control before you hit the beach!
  •  If someone does get burned…Apple cider vinegar feels good and is cheap! Aloe straight from the plant or a bottle of pure Aloe juice is the most healing. There are also commercially prepared sprays available at any drug store.
  • Bring a couple of long-sleeved shirts with you. I promise someone will start to burn and those long sleeves will keep everyone much happier! Grab hubby’s long-sleeved, dress cotton shirt. It’s a great beach cover-up! It’s sexy, and with those long tails, it can hide all sorts of bumps, bulges, cellulite, and extra pounds!:-)
  •  Always make sure the children have bathed after being in the ocean. A shower may work fine for adults, but children usually do better with a bath, especially little girls. (They have all those little nooks and crannies where sand and seaweed will get caught.)

Naps, Evenings, and Meals:

  •  Plan for the children to take early afternoon naps. Or what we called siesta! My girls had to be quiet. Maybe watch TV in the hotel room? Or you could go completely quiet and have them read or do puzzle books. Do this hotel time at 12:30 until about 2:30. After siesta they can do the beach thing again. You don’t want them out during the hottest, sunniest part of the day. This also keeps them out of the strongest sunshine. If they are older, try visiting a museum or a lighthouse.
  • Be prepared to get chilled in the evenings! Extra warm skin from the day’s sun and a cool breeze off the ocean is a recipe for getting the chills. Someone will wind up with the shivers and blue lips! And I’m not talking about blue from the cotton candy.
  •  If there is a boardwalk, let them do it at night! The lights, the sounds, and the fun! A few rides and they are in heaven! There’s something about cotton candy, saltwater taffy, fudge, etc., while walking the boardwalk! It will never taste better! Try not to buy cotton candy on a really humid night! Oh does that turn into a sticky mess! If they get it in their hair, it will wash out! If it goes down the front of that pretty white dress, it usually washes out without a problem. It’s sugar and food coloring! (We won’t discus red food coloring, which seems to stain everything!)
  •  Remember, it’s vacation. Try not to fuss too much. If all they want is french fries for dinner – it’s vacation. It’s a few days. They aren’t going to get rickets from it or die of malnutrition! If they are really picky eaters consider getting one plate of food and an empty plate so that the food can be divided or order off the appetizer menu. My kids hated the children’s menus. They wanted the good stuff! Don’t buy what they won’t eat! If they want codfish balls, and crab cakes let them eat it! I had one that would inhale a 1/2 pound of shrimp and one that wouldn’t touch seafood, Chinese, hamburger, hot dogs, or pizza. Go figure! I’d rather spend a little more and have them eat it, than to fuss when they refused something.
  •  Ask! Most restaurants can fix the tuna without blackening it! They can fix a steak without seasoning, etc. If your kids drink skim milk and the restaurant is serving 2%, the kids will balk! ASK!
  •  Kids feel stuff. If you are uptight, they will be uptight. Remember it’s a vacation. It’s supposed to be fun! It’s supposed to be filled with good memories, and lots of giggles!

Back to those poker chips! At the end of each day, give them some additional chips. If they’ve been extra good, they get five chips. If they had a melt down at breakfast, they get four. Tell them why. But give them a chip just because you love them. On the last day or evening, allow them to turn in poker chips for fun stuff. Let them buy that silly, twirling, whistling, whatnot with their chips! A value can be assigned to the chips depending on your budget. That twelve-year-old daughter might want a puka bead necklace as her souvenir, whereas a son might want a plastic shark! This is their decision and let them make it. It’s their money that they earned. It gives them a chance to understand value and earning something. And it’s a great bribe!

Take advantage of whatever the area has to offer! If it’s morning bike riding on the boardwalk or an aquarium, do it and have fun! Mornings on the beach and afternoons at the hotel pool, and if you think you are tired at night? For every step you take, they have taken probably two or three. If their idea of a perfect dinner is pizza and yours is lobster, have the lobster one night and pizza another. Everyone is supposed to have fun on vacation!

Will things go wrong? Of course. There is no such thing as a perfect vacation, especially with children. The number of things that have gone wrong while I was on vacation would fill a book and no one would believe me. (A crash landing in a jet? Yep!) But I promise a vacation is what you make it. So be sure to bring your sense of humor, look at the bright side, and count your blessings. At least you aren’t home looking a the same old walls!


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