Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Punky!

This Wednesday was Punky's 4th birthday. To celebrate, we took the kids out to dinner at Applebee's with the Gellar family. Joey Gellar is Punky's classmate at summer camp. His older brother Matthew is Russell's classmate at camp as well, and is also on the autism spectrum (although he is very mild). Later in the week, we had birthday cake with cousins Andrew and Ethan at their house in San Jose.

The good news is that we did not go over the top with the kids' birthdays this year, and we still had a good time with family and friends. That's the way it should be.

Punky holds up a birthday present--a set of Pokemon toys from the Gellars--as Russell sips his milkshake

Punky inspects his birthday cake as Russell gets ready to blow. The "4" candle was used previously at both my birthday and at Jenny's, too

The birthday party at Applebee's

The birthday party at San Jose

Punky's San Jose birthday cake was topped with four Pokemon characters. Both Punky and Russell are clutching "pokeballs", a device used by Pokeman trainers to store Pokemon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Bought A "New" TV (for $20)

We've been a one TV family since the beginning. Our TV is a 20-inch Mitsubishi that I bought back in 1989. I still have the original remote control, although the only numbers that still work are 0, 1, 4, 7 and 9. Luckily, the volume and channel up/down buttons still work.

On weeknights, Jenny can usually be found in the living room watching her favorite Chinese and Korean soap operas. With only one TV, this leaves Russell and Punky with the option of watching their favorite videos on either my computer or on the portable DVD player with a 7-inch screen.

I'm in no mood to see the Brewster Boys break another computer or ruin their eyes staring at a 7-inch screen, so I broke down this weekend and bought a used 13-inch Panasonic TV/VCR combo. Originally, I went to WalMart to see what they had on sale, and the lowest priced TV they offered was $250, an LCD model. They no longer sell CRT-type TVs. So I went shopping on Craigslist and found a nice used model for sale.

Now, I need to buy a used Nintendo 64 and Pokemon Stadium game for the boys.

Cross-posted at my "Low Impact Man" blog.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New Jersey Trip Report, Part 2

The second half of our New Jersey vacation was the much-anticipated trip to Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. It was the third summer that we've spent at the beach house rental, all with my sister Cindy and her family. This year, my parents came along after much prodding from yours truly. With each passing year, the Brewster Boys have come to love the ocean and their East Coast cousins. It's easy to understand why. The weather is always perfect, the ocean is cool & refreshing and no one has a worry in the world.

At the beach, Russell has become more daring with wading into the ocean alone. Punky still does not like the ocean and prefers to build sand castles and moats. This meant that I spent most of the beach days with Russell, Jimmy and Timmy in the ocean while Punky and cousin Dana hung out with the moms at base camp, digging in the sand.

This year, the Brewster Boys discovered Pokemon and video games, thanks to their cousins Jimmy and Timmy. I was surprised how quickly they took to playing Pokemon Stadium on the "old" Nintendo 64 in the rental house. At times, I could not tear them away from the game consoles.

We've been fortunate these past 3 years that my sister Cindy has been able to reserve the beach house and make the logistical preparations for this trip. But lately, she's grown tired of the massive effort needed to bring her family down, so she's mulling a simpler vacation spot for next year. When I mentioned to cousin Jimmy and Timmy that this might be our last vacation at Long Beach Island, they protested loudly. This was seconded by the Brewster Boys, who love hanging out with their extended family at the Jersey Shore more than anything else in the world.

Punky looks intense during a Pokemon battle on the Nintendo 64 as cousins Timmy and Jimmy look on

Russell relaxes in the sand during a break from the ocean

This year, Russell was not afraid of venturing on his own into the ocean

Punky prefers staying dry and would rather run along the beach

My father in front of the beach house

Five cousins atop a lifeguard chair at Long Beach Island