Archives for posts with tag: swimming

In response to the daily prompt word, which was Float

girl_floating-ocean-1

Around 10 years ago, we were on our yearly family vacation in Palm Coast, Florida visiting my dad. Our beach of choice while we are down there is Flagler Beach, a) because it’s right down the road from his house, and b) because it’s just an awesome beach.

My girls were young, and were playing in the surf under the watchful eye of their dad, and I decided to swim out a little.

A little.

I was treading water and decided it was time to head back in. I start kicking and paddling, and realize I’m not really getting anywhere. Every time I point a toe down to feel the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, all I feel is ocean.

I looked at a dude on his surf board, who was only a few yards away. I thought to myself, “should I ask him for help?” At this point I was very jealous of his floatation device. He could sit there cool as a cucumber, while I was beginning to feel the warm seed of panic growing in my lower belly.

Was I caught in a riptide?

rip-current

And then I remembered my father, who always said if you can’t get back to shore, swim parallel to the beach and eventually you’ll be able to make you way in.

For the next 5-10 minutes I floated and swam, floated and swam parallel to the shore, but moving slightly toward the beach with each kick and stroke. And finally, I could touch bottom. I lumbered my way through the surf and onto the beach where I heaved an audible sigh of relief.

I was safe, and I did it on my own. I didn’t need to be rescued by either surfer dude or the lifeguard. I walked back to where we were sitting…I was a good 75 yards down the beach…and plopped into my chair, out of breath. I told my sister and nieces what had happened, but seeing that I was back safe & sound, they didn’t make much of it.

But it had frightened me. I doubt either of my girls would have been able to keep cool and figure their way out of it. Now, I repeatedly tell them the same advice my father gave me every single time we are at the beach, and I encourage them to bring a boogie board with them in the water just in case.

And I watch them very closely…from the beach.

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our pool

We were stuck in the house for the past 3 days. From either bad weather or illness I’ve been stuck in my little house since Tuesday. Today dawned sunny and bright, and while my youngest’s tummy was still a tad rumbly today, we thought we’d risk a trip to the pool.

I spent most of my summer vacation at the pool growing up. It was only a short walk down the block from my home, and our family got a membership every year. My kids? not as lucky. Our pool is more than 2 miles away, and we only buy a passbook that lets us go around 6 times over the course of the summer.

We also have a lake that has 4 beaches, but I like the pool better. It’s cleaner – the water is clear and blue and refreshing. There aren’t leaves floating in it, and you aren’t likely to step on something that you can’t identify. Don’t get me wrong, we use the lake often – way more than the pool. I just like the pool better.

It was crowded today. We had to park in the far away lot and hoof it. There were no tables to be had, and we were lucky to find two lounger chairs that we could easily pull together to make our home base. We always get a table – I will watch like a hawk until one opens up and then snag it. But today I didn’t mind our little set up. I was poolside, and I had a lounger – I could lay on my back or my belly (in theory, anyway.)

In the past the pool was a drag. My youngest was too young to be trusted in the water without adult supervision (mommy) so someone (mommy) always had to be in there with her. Now? I love the pool! I can sit in my chair and read, and take a dip when I begin to feel like a medium rare porterhouse.

The girls? They can take care of themselves now. I just need to be in glancing distance.

The kids jumped in the water and I gingerly settled into one of the loungers – it made an uncomfortable groan, hence my use of the word “gingerly.” Nothing, and I mean nothing would be as embarrassing as me breaking a chair at the pool, unless my boobs fell out in the process. That might make me put a for sale sign in my front yard and relocate.

Plus they are low to the ground. I realized this when I tried to get up for the first time. Trying to raise my ample carcass out of that lounger was no easy feat. I tried to do it quickly and as inconspicuously as possible. By the end of the day I had a system down that gave the illusion that I had a modicum of grace.

My book, a loaner from the library, was difficult to read. It’s gigantic, first of all (Plains of Passage – book 4 in the Clan of the Cave Bear series) and therefore was hard to hold without cradling it against my body – which was wet. Thus, the pages would get soggy. I have too much respect for a library book to mistreat it that way, unlike the previous reader who thought turning pages with fingers coated in Cheez Doodle dust was A-OK.

So I put the book down and just observed humanity – fun in the sun poolside humanity.

  • There was a deeply tanned woman in a black bikini. She had to be in her last week of pregnancy, and she was absolutely beautiful. Bronzed and oiled and all belly. And in a bikini.
  • I love that run/walk thing kids do when they are trying to get to the snack bar or the diving board as quickly as possible without actually running. Because we all know running on the pool deck is usually #1 on the “no-no” list. If you run, you get the lifeguard whistle. But let’s face it, they aren’t fooling anyone. That quick-step shuffle will usually get you a whistle and a warning just as fast as you would if you were in a full-blown sprint.
  • When did kids start wearing goggles…no, requiring goggles? When I was a kid I did 7 hours worth of under water acrobatics without the help of goggles. Yes, I went home with eyes red as beets, but that was your battle scar from a day at the pool.
  • My daughter did her first front flip off the diving board today and landed flat on her back – which is pretty much what we all did when we did our first flip. She wanted to cry, but didn’t. She also lost her earring in the process. Yeah, she hit hard. I’m amazed and proud that she did it with no hesitation, though. Last year I had to bribe her with cash just to jump off the board.
  • I’m thankful for spray suntan lotion. I can re-apply in seconds.
  • Laying on your stomach in a hard plastic lounger is not comfortable, especially if you try to read at the same time. Getting up from the lounger while on your stomach is no picnic either. Duly noted – that act may not be repeated.

But now I’m home…tanned, cool and clad in shorts and a tank top. I’m burned in a few places (I guess I didn’t reapply as diligently as I should have) but that’s okay. We got out of the house, and into the sun.

It was a good afternoon.

The Rivanna River runs through the town/county I live in. Many people canoe on it and fish in it, and this weekend I took my first swim in it.

And my last.

A few years ago I look my girls on a hike along the Rivanna River, and at one spot there is a little beach where it’s fun to skip stones and slip your feet into the water. I had told my husband about it, and he was naturally intrigued. He loves all kinds of fish, frogs, turtles and other pond/river wildlife.

So one day when the kids were bored and hubby wasn’t sure what to do with them, I suggested he take them to the Rivanna to explore and wade. He did the trip one better. He clad the girls in old sneakers and suits and took them swimming in the river – it was an outing that they utterly adored.

They told me that I had to come the next time they went – that it was so much fun. My main goal in going was to gather some river stones for use in my garden. With the weather as hot as it was we decided to go this past Saturday afternoon.

The beach my husband took us to had quite a few people there. It was tricky to get to the main part of the river – we had to pick our way from the concrete boat launch to some slippery-looking boulders and then wade through calf deep water to get to the stretch of pebbly shoreline that ran along the widest stretch of water.

Once we put our bags & towels down, we headed out into the water. It felt wonderful for the first few yards. Then the river bottom got very rocky and very uneven. Every single step was  a mystery in elevation…I’d be ankle deep one second and then up to my waist the next. I found it extremely unnerving and annoying. Not to mention the fatigue – my body was in a constant balance check and soon I got tired of battling gravity.

I tried to just swim, but when I’d hit a low spot my belly & knees would knock against the rocks and logs on the bottom – and it would kind of freaked me out. I don’t know why but the thought of my bare skin touching the algae covered river rocks skeeved me out.

I moved over to the level, sandy portion of the river and hung out for a while. Hubby and my youngest made their way down to a tiny little rapid just below the beach, so I carefully picked my way closer to them so I could watch and we could chat.

I was standing in calf-deep water watching them enjoy the rushing water of the little waterfall, when I felt a pin prick on the back of my knee. I absent-mindedly brushed it away just to feel another prick right after it. I swatted at my leg with a wet wave of my hand, and then felt another prick at my other leg.

I look down and there is a huge horse-fly treating my leg like it was a $5 footlong. Mother fuckers! I frantically begin swatting at both my legs, which now have several droplets of blood forming on them.

I marched unsteadily to the shore where I surveyed the damage and rubbed my wounds. This trip had just gone from so-so to sucky. The fork was in. I was officially done.

I sat on a towel and people watched – I had forgotten  my book which was an error of monumental proportions. I got up and searched for stones, took some photos, and waited for Hubby and daughter to return from their swim down the river.

When they got back, my little girl caught some tadpoles and a crayfish for our pond –  this was a Godsend because we really couldn’t keep them in the small container we brought for too long. Our trip to the river was going to be ending very soon and I was enormously thankful, even if I did get a few dirty looks from my husband. He was having fun and did not want to leave.

I’m glad both my girls and my husband enjoy the river. When I think of my childhood in New Jersey, if you weren’t at the town pool, you weren’t in the water. But my kids have so many wonderful options – our community lake, the pool and now, the river. I’m glad that they will think back when they are grown and have great memories of afternoons spent splashing in our area’s natural waterways.

Not me, though. I think I’m going to stick to the pool.

You guys keep the sharks away, right?

After two consecutive days in the water and sun, my family and I decided to not spend the entire day at the beach and opted to go for an hour or two in the morning.

Well, that was before some unexpected company showed up.

We arrived at Flagler Beach at around 10 am or so and enjoyed over an hour of your general Atlantic Ocean horseplay – I even managed to body surf a bit with the use of a borrowed too-small for me boogie board.

I then told my husband that we should probably think about packing it up soon, and sat down to read my book. I knew it would take him and the girls a full 15 or 20 minutes to tear themselves away from the ocean. I was awakened from my reading induced coma a few minutes later by the sound of my oldest daughter calling out to me. Upon looking up, I saw an empty ocean, with throngs of people standing on the shore and pointing their fingers. It was then I saw them.

DOLPHINS!

Not just one, but a pack of four! I grabbed my camera, and ran down the beach. I shot some decent footage of my family in the foreground and the dolphins in the background. After I shot enough tape to satisfy the National Geographic, I walked the camera back up to our blankets, grabbed a boogie board and headed for the ocean. I did not want this opportunity to pass by with me holding a camera. I wanted to get OUT there!

I was afraid that the dolphins would leave before I had a chance to get into the water. Plus I was dragging two boogie boards with me. I waded out into the ocean and was in the middle of telling my oldest to grab a boogie board when a huge wave came and knocked the boards out of my hands. Shit. I then had to turn around and chase the boards that were floating back to shore. What a waste of my time! Why wasn’t anyone in my family helping me? Oh that’s right! They are watching dolphins! Let mommy chase down the boogie boards she thoughtfully brought for them!

It was no easy task I can tell you that. As soon as I’d get close to the board, a wave would come in and push it further towards the shore. Grrr! Once both boards were in my clutches, I waded back out into the ocean. I have to admit I purposefully steered clear of my family. I was a bit miffed that they didn’t bother to help me, so I hogged both boogie boards until one of them swam over to me to get it.

This man from Brooklyn and I were the farthest ones out when suddenly a dolphin popped up about 10 feet away from me! It was so thrilling! My youngest swam out to me after that on her board and we floated around watching their fins popping up out of the water here and there, closer and then farther away. It was hard to see them at times because the waves would bob you up and down and you could only see them when the waves had you up high. At one point we bobbed up and there was a dolphin fin around 7 feet away from us!

It actually scared my 9 year old who can only equate fins with sharks. I told her it was fine, and that dolphins help keep sharks away from us – I don’t know if that’s an old wives tale or what, but she felt considerably better after that, so who cares.

And then they just swam away. It was great though. We had roughly 35 minutes with them and it was free of charge. No Marineland or Sea World fee to pay – just dolphins in the wild and a bunch of awestruck humans.

The one bad thing? The hour we meant to spend at the beach turned into almost 3 hours. My face and shoulders are pretty burned, and to make matters worse I had my big black sunglasses on the whole time, so I now resemble a sunburned raccoon. Oh, and my nose looks like a plum.

But it’s sooooo worth it. My kids and I will remember that experience forever.

By the Sea by the sea by the beautiful sea

Today was our first official day of vacation, and we spent most of it at the beach. The morning started off cloudy, which was kind of a bummer as we wanted to get to the sandy dunes of Flagler Beach as early as possible.

After breakfast I decided I could care less if it was cloudy out and we packed a lunch and headed for the ocean. I was glad we did. As many years as I have been coming down to Palm Coast to visit my dad and his wife I always forget that the weather at my dad’s house may not be the same weather at Flagler, a mere 6 miles down the road.

The beach was overcast, but was far from cloudy. I immediately grabbed for my can of sunscreen only to realize my husband must have broken the nozzle…it would not emit the fine spray of SPF 50 protection my skin thirsted for. Instead, a thin drizzle of watery lotion spurted out. I guess beggars can’t be chosers. I slathered both kids with it in the hopes it would be enough protection.

And boy did the sun come out. I, counting on cloud cover, did NOT bring my sunglasses or bother to put contact lenses in. Needless to say I was blinded for a good part of the day. I did go to the car and dig out a crooked, dirty, VA State Trooper hat out of the trunk and spent the remainder of the afternoon looking like a real fashion plate on the beach. But at least I had less of a glare after that.

It got hot too. But, not wanting to lose my prescription glasses to waves of the Atlantic Ocean, I didn’t venture in past my hips. The water was amazing. Cool enough to refresh, but not so cold that you took 45 minutes to ease your way into the water. With the exception of the 15 minutes they took to eat their lunch and feed the birds, my kids were in the ocean for the entire 4 hours we were at there.

As I watched them boogie board and frolic in the water, it brought me back to the years I spent at the beach as a kid. We went to Martha’s Vineyard, where the water was MUCH colder and MUCH rougher. And, just like my girls, I spent the entire time at the beach in the water riding waves and getting bamboozled and having a freaking blast.

I’m glad I can give my kids the same kind of vacation that I remember as a child so fondly. It makes me feel great. Now, the girls are in the pool awaiting showers and dinner. I do believe they may sprout gills by the end of our time here.

And tomorrow? Mom wears her contacts, her sunglasses and gets busy with a boogie board.

Wish you were here!

One week to go! One week until I get the hell out of dodge and head to casa del Pop-Pop in Florida.

There’s a lot to do in preparation. I have a butt-load of work to get done at the office, but thankfully my boss procured the time and talents of my ex-coworker to stand in for me while I am away. That’s a serious load off of my mind, but I still have tons of prep work to do nonetheless.

Yet, my mind is in “who cares” mode. It will all get done, and then I’ll have 6 days to do nothing but drink, swim and be a mom. My first real time off since the summer of 2009.

I just wish my sister and her family could come too. It’s always a lot more fun with them around. However, I will have my other sister there – she lives nearby – and makes a mean Cosmo.

Good thing I started to like Vodka again.

Wasn't this the naughtiest of ad campaigns?

I attempted to work this morning, but the server at the office crashed and my computer, which I access remotely, froze. I contemplated making the 30 minute drive to town to see if I could restart, thus allowing me to get some ads built while at home, but instead muttered “fuck it” and began making breakfast.

My Sunday was not going to be spent obsessing over ads that nobody seems to care about but me. I have a grueling week ahead of me no matter how much I try to get done in advance, they always manage to find ways to pile more work on. Not this time buster. This Sunday belonged to me.

I watched my missed episode of “Ryan & Tatum” on the OWN channel. I played 1 vs 100 on facebook. I made bacon and hashbrowns and cooked eggs to order for my girls. I did laundry and got caught up in a really bad Tori Spelling movie on ABC Family. Before I knew it, noon had arrived. The girls wanted out of the house so we headed for the  pool.

I used to hate going to the pool. But now my girls of of the age where I don’t have to be in the pool with them. They still want me in the pool with them, but I have explained that after almost 10 years of aquatic baby-sitting for hours at a a time, it is Mommy’s turn to sit and read and bake in the sun. And with this new plan, the past few trips we have taken to our community pool have been absolute heaven.

I like to read. I usually don’t get the chance to just sit and read, especially in the summer, except for when I get into bed. Unfortunately, I fall asleep after roughly 4 pages, which makes finishing a book a long and tedious process. Is it any wonder why sitting by the pool on a lounge chair glistening with SPF 40 sunscreen is a far more alluring scenario in which to dive into my latest novel?

Of course I would get hot. But no problemo! I simply (ok, not so simply) haul my carcass out of the lounger, and sink into the cool, clear water of the pool. At this point my daughters accost me and we must play some form of water sport, whether it be swim through my legs or dive off my shoulders. Eventually I get splashed or my glasses get knocked off and them it’s “game over.” I head for the nearest ladder and sink back into my lounger and my book, trying not to get the pages and book jacket too soggy.

We stay through 3 adult swims, and then head home. I think 3 hours at the pool is long enough – just enough to get that baked sensation that feels so good once you are home and dry and drinking a glass of wine.

I’m so glad the work server crashed. It’s been a good day so far.