Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Summer to Remember, Part 5

Next, we visited my friend Jeff and his family on Long Island. I hadn't seen him in years. The kids enjoyed the visit, and surprisingly, we're afraid of their 2 dogs.

A Summer to Remember, Part 4

After a week at the beach, we went home and celebrated Punky and Jimmy's birthdays at my parents house. All the Chen, Pupalaikis, Chang and Myers cousins were there.

A Summer to Remember, Part 3

At night, we went to the beach to catch some more waves, which the kids loved. It's really great to stay at a beach house that's next to the ocean.

A Summer to Remember, Part 2

Later in the week, we discovered that a water park was located only 5 minutes further south on the island. Rather than spend another day at the beach, we decided to try the water park. I was glad we did. It was a lot of fun and the kids got a thrill out of sliding down a long water slide and a series of lazy rivers. Although we were there only 2 hours, I'd have to say it was probably the highlight our trip. That and the fishing and the wave hopping we did on the beach. And don't forget the sea shell collecting and sand castle building. We'll be back again next summer (2010)!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Summer Vacation to Remember, Part 1

For the 4th year in a row, we spent our summer vacation at the Jersey shore with my family back east. I'd like to think that this will be among the fondest memories that Russell and Punky will have of growing up. They've become used to seeing their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles every summer under the best of circumstances--at the nicest beach in the world (Long Beach Island) with no school or homework (mostly).

This year, I was able to rent a house only 7 houses away from the beach at Beach Haven, Long Beach Island. What a find! In addition to being convenient to the beach, it was air conditioned with all the comforts of home. It was also only a block away from the Wawa store where I seemed to stop by nearly every day for ice cream and Wawa Peach-flavored Ice Tea.

Of course we spent lots of time at the beach, but this year we added fishing to our list of activities. With the crab cage, we actually caught several spider crabs and a small (4 in.) striped bass that we had to throw back. Punky was especially thrilled with catching things, but disappointed that we couldn't keep them. Russell just wanted to hold onto his fishing pole and reel in imaginary fish.

Our first few days in Long Beach Island were perfect. Great weather (it had be unseasonably cold at the shore this year), uncrowded beaches and an unexpected visit from cousins Max and Megan at the beginning of our trip. Later, we grew adventurous and decided to try a few new things before the end of our week-long vacation.

The house we rented in Beach Haven

The Chen and Pupalaikis boys enjoy the waves

Punky inspects the catch of the day: a striped bass

Getting ready to go fishing

The gang is almost all here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What We Do For Fun During the Summer

The answer to this is "not much". Lots of Nintendo, but recently bowling and fishing (watching, not catching), and movies. Recently, the boys saw "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and loved it.

Russell plays Nintendo 64 with Savannah and Bethany

Punky has trouble holding up his bowling ball

Jenny shows decent form on her way to bowling an 81

Russell grabs his bowling ball and heads for the lane

Punky plays with his Ice Age toys from McDonalds

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Pool Party to Remember

We had a great pool party this past weekend with Brewster Boys and their cousins and friends. It wasn't a birthday party, but basically that's what it ended up being. The kids spent almost all of their time in the pool all day, so that meant I could relax and talk to our guests without getting interrupted. It just might be the best $40 I've ever spent.

Punky squirts the hose as Russell and Bethany respond with their water guns

Punky cries after being hit by the water guns

Punky ventures into the pool with the hose for protection

Punky blasts Bethany with the hose as she lies down in the pool

A good time was had by all

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Russell's 7th Birthday: A Weekend in Reno

In what is now an annual tradition, we spent Russell's birthday weekend away from home in Reno, Nevada. We chose Reno because we were fortunate to have been given a free room by Jenny's college friend Christine. After a 5-hour driving ordeal through the Sierra Nevada mountains, we arrived at the Peppermill Hotel & Casino, one of the newest properties in Reno.

Except for a brief jaunt to Circus Circus, we basically did not leave the hotel during our 2-night stay in Reno. There were plenty of restaurants, entertainment, and of course, a huge heated swimming pool to keep up busy. At night after putting the kids to sleep, I took about an hour each night to play the slot machines and keno (for the first time).

From my perspective, the trip was a success. Everyone had fun and we enjoyed hanging out with Jenny's friend Christine and her family. I must admit that I really do miss hanging out at casinos every now and then.

The iconic entrance to Reno sign

The entrance to the Peppermill Hotel & Casino

Jenny makes a toast to our friends at the Oceana Restaurant at the Peppermill

Our suite at the Peppermill

Punky tries his hand at driving a video game while holding onto his dinosaur

Russell rides the Harley video game

The Brewster Boys underneath the elephant at Circus Circus

The Brewster Boys are all smiles before heading out for the pool

Video of Russell's 7th Birthday Party on the Last Day of School


Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday Russell

This Friday was Russell's 7th birthday. Rather than hosting a party at our home or a kiddie palace (i.e. Chuck E. Cheese or Pump It Up!), we decided to have a birthday celebration at Russell's 1st grade class on the last day of school (the same day as Russell's birthday). This is the 2nd year that we've done this.

Russell's classmates are a great bunch of kids. Many of the kids in Russell's class are recent immigrants or from families of modest income, so I was especially glad that these kids would be attending Russell's party. Aware that Russell is "different", several of the girls look after Russell like a little brother. They help the teacher when needed, and often guide Russell during classroom assignments.

For the party, we brought a SpongeBob cake, pizza and goodie bags. As I brought the pizzas into the classroom, Russell's classmates all turned around and shouted together "Pizza!"--as if on cue. For his last day of 1st grade, Russell was King of the Classroom.

Jenny lights the birthday candle as Russell and his excited classmates look on. That's Punky on left watching the lighter flame.

Russell prepares to blow out the candle

The SpongeBob birthday cake

Russell and his friend Christopher, whose birthday is only 11 days after Russell's

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Russell Laments the Loss of Pokemon

As readers of this blog are aware, Russell is a huge Pokemon fan. It was one of the few reliable means for me to verbally engage him on a regular basis--we played games, battled on Nintendo, read books, watched videos and showcased his Pokemon collection. It is one of his pure joys in life

Late last week at school, Russell threatened a teacher with a "body slam", which is an "attack" by his favorite Pokemon Pikachu. Prior to Pokemon, he would typically say he would "hit" someone, if they made him angry, so this was not unusual for him to verbalize in this manner.

Unfortunately, this caused Jenny to overreact by taking away virtually all of his Pokemon--the toys, Nintendo 64 and Pokedex. Russell was quite saddened by this loss, and he reacted by drawing in our bathtub with soap crayons. I hope Jenny reconsiders her drastic move. He cries to me at night when I put him to sleep.

Russell loves "Hitmonlee", and a representation of his blue drawer, which formally contained his Pokemon collection (three circles are the knobs)

To the right are several Magnemites, and a pokeball on the bottom left

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Not Quite Summertime

Last weekend was so hot, that we sped down to Toys R Us (the kids' favorite store) and splurged to buy ($40) the last available small inflatable pool. Unfortunately, we only got to use it for one day before Global Warming ended and we hit a mini Ice Age--which still continues to this day.

I hope we get to use it again, because it took me about 40 minutes to blow it up with a bicycle pump. I was pooped afterwards. Anyways, here's the least embarrassing shot from our one day with a backyard pool.

It's nice to have a pool in the backyard

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Planet Pokemon

About 2 weeks ago, I bought a used Nintendo 64 from eBay and installed it upstairs in Punky's room. Now the Brewster Boys can't get enough of playing Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Stadium 2. Even though its a 10-year-old console, the games have held up very well over time and very much resemble the current Pokemon Battle Revolution game on the Nintendo Wii.

Every night, we play about 30-45 minutes of the Nintendo together (just me and the boys) and have a good time battling against the computer. Russell's favorite Pokemon are Pikachu, Charmander, Clefairy and Gloom . Punky's choices are much less diverse: Bulbasaur, Ivysaur and Venusaur. I like Pidgeotto, Drowsy and Voltorb.

A few years ago, I'd watch my nephews and nieces play Pokemon on their Nintendo 64, Gameboy and DS and not understand a word of what they were talking about. Now I understand most everything they're saying. I'm hooked.

Nintendo 64 game console

Pokemon Stadium game for the Nintendo 64