Thursday, January 31, 2008

Long Beach Island, 2007 Trip Report

Note - I've meant to post this trip report from our 2007 summer vacation in Long Beach Island (New Jersey), but was too busy to remember until now. So for historical purposes, here are the details:

Russell enjoys his first glimpse of the beach on the night of our arrival

Punky checks out the fine sand on Long Beach Island

The Brewster Boys check for buried treasure

My father inspects the family beach compound

A favorite activity: Russell and Punky place sand into buckets of sea water

We've now spent our last two summer vacations at Long Beach Island in New Jersey (Beach Haven). This year, my parents stayed with us--in addition to my youngest sister and her family--during our 3-night stay at the New Jersey shore. I have to say it was very relaxing and a lot of fun.

We stayed at a house rental 3 blocks away from the beach in Beach Haven, on the southern end of Long Beach Island (LBI). Nothing fancy, but with all the comforts of home and a fully-stocked kitchen. Along with my parents, we hung out with my sister Cindy's family (3 kids: Jimmy, Timmy & Dana, and husband Pete) in a 4-bedroom/2-bathroon house. The house is about a 3-minute walk from the beach. Conveniently. there was game room with a foosball table and old Nintendo game console, so when we didn't stay at the beach, there was plenty of things to do in the house. I'm happy to report that the Brewster Boys got along great with their cousins.

Going to the beach is like going camping. You bring your umbrellas, buckets, cooler (food & drink), beach towels, sunscreen, flip flops, etc. in a large wagon. Or drive in Cindy's minivan, if you are lazy. Although the beach wasn't crowded, we were sure to arrive early to stake out a prime spot near a lifeguard. There's no boardwalk on LBI (thank goodness). And so once you are there at the beach, you feel as if you've been transported to heaven on earth. Just you, the fresh sea air, the white sand and the ocean waves. And the kids, of course.

Each day, we arrived at the beach at 9AM, and the kids would get right down to enjoying themselves. Punky focused on building sand castles and digging holes on the beach. Russell usually dragged me to water's edge, since he enjoyed having the waves come crashing down on his legs every few seconds. Jenny and my parents aren't big fans of the beach, but they came along for the ride and luckily for us, the biting sand flies did not make an appearance this year.

Meals at the beach house were all home-cooked, except for one night of take-out from the local seafood stand. This meant that Russell did not vomit during the entire trip. About the only things that didn't go to plan the whole time we were there was the loss of a toy dolphin from cousin Jimmy's collection and pair of goggles. Russell was holding the dolphin when a wave came crashing in, and he dropped the dolphin into the water. Jimmy also dropped his swimming goggles in the ocean. In both cases, the objects disappeared into the surf within a few milliseconds. Which is another reason we always make sure that we are close to a lifeguard.

In 2008, we plan on going back to Long Beach Island and staying for a day or two longer. The Brewster Boys are already asking when they'll be able to return.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Praise of Punky, Chinese New Year's Edition

Check out Punky's Chinese New Year's outfit. It's a bit early, but Punky wanted to show off his new Dragon tunic at dinner with his grandmother, cousins, aunts & uncles.

Punky with his grandmother

Punky and his mom are both wearing their Chinese New Year's tunics

Monday, January 14, 2008

Christmas at Home

We had a very low-key Christmas at home this year. We had a tree, of course, and presents only for the kids. Their aunts, uncles and cousins also sent presents, but overall the gift count was pretty low.

It also happened to be the first time the boys were introduced to Santa Claus (at our local shopping mall). The boys were a bit wary about the white-haired, bearded St. Nick, but eventually, visions of Christmas presents won the day. They helped to bake cookies and signed a letter to Santa Claus, making their wishes known. Russell wanted a Handy Manny toolbox and Punky wanted a "humongous whale". Santa complied and left his calling card.

Russell poses in front of the Christmas tree

The Brewster Boys strike a pose

Santa left a letter to the Brewster Boys, thanking them for the cookies, along with a picture of their earlier meeting

The Brewster Boys are all smiles on Christmas morning