By: Mary Fran Bontempo


Beach Chairs Watching OceanOkay, I’ll admit, the title of this post is a little sneaky. Because I’m really talking about the things I have to do before your summer vacation–the one you would take at my house.

I’m happy and blessed to be able to spend summers at the shore, where I gladly play host to family and friends whenever possible. When people get to enjoy a break at the shore, and I can provide a roof, a shower, a meal, beach chairs, towels, beach tags, etc., etc., it’s something I do willingly.

Willingly, but not without a little effort.

See, this is my house, where I live, which, as any woman who runs a household knows, means all sorts of stuff, usually having to do with bleach, cleanser, a vacuum, a washing machine, and any number of things that do not directly involve sitting with my toes in the sand.

This week, to coincide with my sister’s week at the shore (she does not stay at my house, bless her), I’m playing host to my mother, my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew, along with my two daughters, one of whom is flying in from Florida, so we can have a week of togetherness. (Notice who is missing from this equation? My husband, who vanishes faster than Harry Houdini when company, i.e. family, arrives. He will be back home, “working.”)

Before everyone arrives, however, a few things have to be done:

  • Strip beds and wash sheets
  • Wash bathroom and beach towels
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Dust and vacuum bedrooms and living areas
  • Restock soap dispensers
  • Restock toilet paper
  • Restock shampoo
  • Restock toothpaste
  • Clean and restock outdoor show with above items
  • Plan meals and snacks
  • Grocery shop
  • Vacuum and organize back porch
  • Make sure bike tires are pumped and full
  • Grocery shop again after forgetting milk, cheese and kitchen trash bags
  • Make beds
  • Cut giant watermelon and put in containers for easy snacking
  • Check beach chairs to make sure none has rusted out, which will cause someone to be unceremoniously dumped on his/her bum when it breaks on the beach
  • Grocery shop a third time after forgetting paper plates, napkins and more toilet paper
  • Drive over bridge and stock up on wine and beer (Ocean City is a dry town, requiring a trip to “the mainland”)
  • Fight traffic back over bridge and back into town
  • Open wine early
  • Find the damn beach tags
  • Buy mattress topper so the bars in the sofa bed won’t cripple whoever draws the short straw and has to sleep on it

I could go on, but, well, you get the idea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m only about halfway through my list and people are coming tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll get everything done and be able to stay awake while they’re here. If not, I hope they have fun. There’s nothing quite like a vacation at the shore.