My Midsummer Giveaway Winner…

True Random Number Generator


I Hate Sunscreen

Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55, 70 & 85

There, I said it out loud.

I hate putting it on, I hate the feel of it on me, I hate moisturizers with sunscreen in them. I simply won’t buy those moisturizers, and my face seems no worse from having been naked to the sun thus far. I just don’t like the way my face feels when wearing makeup over sunscreen. All I can think about is ‘when can I wash this all off?’ I’m constantly aware that I’m wearing sunscreen under my makeup today and my skin feels tacky to the touch from all the product.

When I’m wearing sunscreen, even a sunscreen buried within moisturizer, I can always pick up the scent of the sunscreen which is a huge turn-off to me.

Sure, I’ll use sunscreen if I’m going to the beach, the pool, or any time I’m going to be out in the full sun. It’s a brutal sun, here, and I know my skin needs the protection. But, god, do I hate the greasiness that accompanies a full body application. It’s just so uncomfortable, wearing that body grease…being careful not to brush against anything in the house on the way out; getting the ink from a beach magazine smeared all over my hands and legs when pages meet slick skin. And if you’re driving to your destination, then it’s all over your car seat unless you cover it with a beach towel. What a hassle!

A couple of years ago I found a single sunscreen product that I can tolerate: a Neutrogena brand, advertised as a ‘dry’ sunscreen, and my goodness, it is. I actually wear it under makeup and it works! I’m not constantly wanting to wipe it off my face. It’s truly not greasy; nothing rubs off on me! I can actually put it on and forget about it. My kids, who protest the wearing of sunscreen out loud whereas I keep my loathing to myself, actually don’t mind the Neutrogena either. Of course, it’s not cheap and it’s never on sale. But for me, it’s worth it.

I probably will never wear sunscreen as a matter of daily habit. I’ll be one of those who applies it only when she’s heading out to be full on in the sun but thank goodness for this product because I can wear it, and my MAC, too. And people who really know me, know that this is just the way I roll.

I love being out in the sun and feeling it on my skin. It’s not about tanning, though I did that enough when I was younger. I’m careful about using sunscreen but I’m not hypervigilant about it. I don’t avoid the beach during midday or make my kids wear long-sleeved rash guards. Perhaps this makes me a shoddy mother, but when I balance the amount of time we’re really out in the full sun during the heat of the day over the course of a summer, it’s not all that much.

But I won’t deny it and I’ll say it again: I hate sunscreen. If you’ve got any recommendations for a good quality, dry sunscreen, I’m listening.

Maybe Neutrogena would like to be my corporate sponsor?

Welcome to San Pablo Island

Did you know that the cities of Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach in Duval County, and Ponte Vedra Beach, South Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano Beach in St. Johns County are all on a barrier island? It starts at the mouth of the St. John’s River and continues south for about 30 miles, to Vilano Beach, where it ends as the intracoastal waterway separates it from the mainland that is St. Augustine.
Last night, the Atlantic Beach City Council passed a resolution proclaiming its support for this island to be known as San Pablo Island. This makes historical significance for many reasons that I won’t bore you with now. But it matters, I think, that if you’re going to name an island it be something relevant.
The name of the island isn’t going to change anything. The island cities will carry on as before. We will still be ‘the beaches’ of Jacksonville. It’s just that now, going forward, there’ll be an effort to formally name this spit of land-in-the-sea where we reside, so that maps of all ilk will show an actual name for our region! The people who live here have always had an island sensibility…but no name to put to it.
Today is the first step toward our becoming San Pablo Island. Atlantic Beachlife on San Pablo Island.
I like it.

Gold Head Branch State Park

Gold Head Branch State Park is probably like hundreds of state parks across the United States. Our afternoon there was probably like thousands of other afternoons passed by good friends together in any one of these state parks.

Here are some pictures of ours, memorable to us, and poignant, for one. It was here that she passed many a summer weekend together with her family. But that was long ago, when her parents were both living and she was just a girl.

She planned our daycation afternoon at Gold Head Branch with an eagerness I recognized only after we’d been there a while. At first I didn’t understand why she’d wanted to go to this place, so far from the sea-breezy coast, on a hot July day. We were three moms in three cars with nine kids between us. We drove 70 miles from Atlantic Beach to this state park, south of Middleburg, Florida. When we saw this slender doe as soon as we entered the park my mood changed. It’s always a little magical, spotting a deer in the wild.

Deer sightings are common along Michigan highways; in the nine years I’ve lived at my Florida beach the only deer I’ve seen were those glimpsed during my summer vacations in Michigan. So my daughter and I – the only occupants of our car – gazed at this one for as long as she let us. We stared each other down for about two minutes; then she got bored, and bounded off into the trees.

Down by the small lake about two miles inside the wooded park, my nostalgic friend was beaming, lit from within with her own memories. Nine kids played in the water; it was a carefree summer day. As we sat together on the ordinary dirt-sand beach I listened to her stories and I understood that she was sharing something precious to her. I realized that Gold Head Branch was her Sleepy Hollow (my family vacation place on the shore of Lake Michigan in South Haven)… and if you are lucky enough to have childhood memories that make you smile the way she did that day, then you’re lucky enough.

It was easy to imagine Gold Head Branch being the same 70 years ago as it is, today. It’s a simple park; unharmed acres of trees, trails, lake, ravine, streams. Cabins and canoes. Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the cabins rent for $60.50 – $99.00 ( two are ADA accesible) and have been updated, but are modest structures in keeping with their origins. Perfect for people who love the outdoors, but not camping (hello, Jeannie).

The day was one of pure kid fun: swimming; chasing turtles; canoeing; hiking a wooded trail; eating a picnic lunch; climbing down the ravine and tromping in the cold, clear, shallow stream as it threaded its way through the green woods near dusk.

It was so easy to imagine other generations of kids, decades ago, doing the same thing. Or my friend and her family, making the memories that filled her eyes with happy tears, on this afternoon.

(because the day had such a nostalgic quality to it, i processed several shots in sepia tones)

The beauty of friendship is the sharing of our stories. And now that my kids and I have some Gold Head Branch memories of our own, I’m passing them on…to you.

Align Center
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Don’t forget to share your summer memories or plans on the previous post ‘My Midsummer Giveaway’ in order to be part of the “drawing” for the leather-and-pearl bracelet of your choice on Saturday, August 1.

My Midsummer Giveaway

Here we are at midsummer already. I’ve visited other beaches; swam in cold, clear freshwater lakes; tromped in a stream at the bottom of a wooded ravine where I felt like Huck Finn; canoed for the first time ever (really!); went home to my great lake, the Great Lake Michigan. That’s where my beachlife/beachlove really began. I swam in 55 degree water. (Whoever said the springs of Ichetucknee are cold at 72 degrees?!)

Regardless of those incessant, chirpy television commercials (I hit mute) advertising ‘back-to-school’ already (I knew they’d begin before the 4th of July decorations were put away) and despite our school’s too-soon first day on August 13 …it is still just summertime and nothing’s going to spoil that mood here at Atlantic Beachlife. We’ve got lots of summer left to live, excellent daycation places nearby to explore and tell you about, not to mention the freedom from school and routines and aaahhh… (I can pick up the school supplies in between trips to the springs and the pier or from where ever we are wandering.)

Therefore, in honor of midsummer, I have the pleasure of announcing my first giveaway. Yee-hah! My friend Mickey of Nicholas Landon Jewelry ( creator of original and unique nautical-inspired jewelry, has offered to gift your choice of either her very cool Cape Cod Pearl and Leather bracelet:

or this unique pearl and leather personally monogrammed piece:

Aren’t they great?

A few months ago, after browsing her site several times, I finally bought one of her necklaces. Then I acquired another one (funny how that happens!). Any of her jewelry pieces are perfectly understated yet distinctive, and can be worn with a bathing suit or a dress. I was initially attracted to them because leather grows softer, and pearls, more luminous with time and they can be worn in the water: fresh, salt, chlorine, or the shower! I love diving into the surf here in Atlantic Beach and I wanted a small but lovely bit of jewelry to wear every day, no matter what I’m doing. It needed to withstand salt, sunscreen, and sand. My Nicholas Landon pieces really fit the bill.

I’m not the only one who recognized their cool, nautical vibe: earlier this summer her Cape Cod Pearl and Leather bracelet was chosen by Jessica Romm, style editor of Food and Wine Magazine as part of a summer-themed feature in the July edition! And, prior to that honor, the Montauk Yacht Club in New York hotel placed an order for several pieces to sell in their gift shop.

So, take it from all of us, a piece from the Nicholas Landon Jewelry collection is the perfect summer accessory for beach-lovers everywhere. And when summer’s gone, I know I’ll keep on wearin’ mine because when you’ve got leather and pearls, well, it’s just seasonless, really. And if your beat is really more street, I’d call her stuff urban-edgy, too. It defies genres. Win one, and buy a few more…they’d look so great in worn in multiples too! (I’ve just given myself an idea…)

The winner of the Atlantic Beachlife – Nicholas Landon Jewelry giveaway will be announced on Saturday, August 1, by a random drawing of a number from the total number of comments on this post from the random number generator at You know the drill. To increase your chance of winning, it’s all about the comments, baby. You can make a comment each day on this blog post: tell me what you’re doing to enjoy the rest of your summer, or note a favorite summer memory; or comment about Atlantic Beachlife in general (that’s one chance). You can jump over to Nicholas Landon Jewelry and read all about the Cape Cod Pearl and Leather bracelet and check out her other creations while you’re at it. Give her some comment love, and come on back here and tell me so (on this post, remember!) and you’ve got yourself another chance. So there’s two chances per day right there. (Okay, it’s a lot of commenting back and forth, but giveaways are fun and I like hearing others’ ideas for summer fun.) Want another chance? Write about the giveaway or link to it on your own blog, or write something about Atlantic Beachlife or Nicholas Landon Jewelry once a day (now you’ll have to get creative!), come on back and tell me about it (on this post) and you’ve got yourself another one chance. So, you’ll have three chances each day to rack up the numbers and increase the odds in your favor. Finally, and you can only do this once, join Atlantic Beachlife as a follower (but please, only do this if you really mean it…stay because you like it here, not for the freebie…I don’t like to think of myself as begging for ‘followers’!) and tell me so via comments and you’re in for another chance.

Let’s have some fun with this. It’s summertime, people! Let the game begin!

When Someone You Love is Leaving

A person, very dear, is on his final journey.
All his family is gathered round. He is resting in his own home, where he raised his five children, with his loving wife and best friend. Fifty-seven years of love; five children, eight grandchildren. Every one of the children and grandchildren, individually, have their own, deep relationship with him. Although he has come full circle, a life well-lived and nothing left undone, it is not easy to say goodbye.
He has passed very quickly from what appeared to be good health, to being near death. He has had time to give his final thoughts to those closest to him. He has had meaningful conversation with his priest. He knows his family is gathered near. Now he is peacefully passing from this world to the next.
It is an anxious time for families who stand, in good health, beside their declining loved one, while that person changes from someone to they talk with, to someone they talk about. When a loved one is hovering seemingly between two worlds, it is somewhat reassuring when they do not appear distressed.
It can be a tense time for people, waiting, as their own relationships can be strengthened, or tested. At a time like this we truly walk in faith, and remember the things that the loved one has taught us. Now is the time for the next generation take its place at the head of the line.
What a time it must be, though, not for the children so much as the spouse, the one who is watching their beloved, go. It is their life that changes so much, going forward, and often at a time when they themselves are most vulnerable to the effects of physical aging, loneliness, and perhaps, some fear about what will become of them, too?
You can only believe, if you do, as I do, that God is merciful and will be faithful to the most vulnerable among us.