Monday, July 26, 2010

Under the Boardwalk

Sorry for the delay in posts, but I have been on vacation. The whole family went down the shore for a week of surf, sand, sun, and fun. My husband only checked his CrackBerry every two hours instead of every half-hour. I would have preferred the damn thing get turned off entirely as it would make the entire beach bag shake with is constant new e-mail alerts, but I suppose I should be glad he didn’t figure out a way to waterproof it and attach it to his bathing suit.

The hotel we stayed at was awesome. A kiddie pool with slides and lazy river, a family pool with swim-up bar, daily kid’s crafts, and you could walk right out of the hotel and onto the beach. What more could you ask for? Our room was on the 12th floor and we had good views of dolphin rush hour (9 to 10 am, Wednesday only), the invading alien armada (11pm Tuesday night), and biplanes that flew so close I could have asked the pilot for Grey Poupon.

Bathing in general was kept to a minimum. The jetted whirlpool tub seemed really inviting the first night, but after it developed a fine layer of sand, it really lost its allure. In fact, the damn thing was so high and so deep that it required I turn into Ms. Fantastic with bendy, stretchy arms to actually reach and clean two small children. My usual backup plan of just standing them in the shower was thwarted by a low pressure rainforest shower head. Spray bottles produce more water than that shower did. In fact, I learned early in the week that the outdoor hose the hotel provided to guests was better at removing sand than any indoor plumbing they provided.

Cooking was also kept to a minimum, but that was not the initial plan. Our first day, we stocked the fridge with morning essentials so that the entire family would eat a large, yummy breakfast of eggs, toast, and chocolate-chip pancakes cooked in the fully-stocked galley kitchen in our suite. As it turned out, their cookware was horrible and I couldn’t get a pancake to unstick and actually flip to save my life. My husband’s efforts at trying to fry an egg were similarly unsuccessful and the length of time it took for our toaster to crisp a piece of bread could be measured in five-minute increments. Cereal and muffins for everyone!

We took the vacation very seriously. We were at the beach every morning and the pool every afternoon. I’m honestly surprised the lot of us didn’t wind up with diaper rash considering we spent an entire week in damp drawers. My son graduated from eating sand to actually playing in it but never made if further than his knees into the ocean. We tried, he cried. He did enjoy finding seashells for me and proved adept at dropping them into my pockets for safekeeping. By mid-morning, I had pants full of sand and pockets filled with shards. My daughter attempted body surfing, but was limited by the amount of actual surf. Afternoons were spent either at the kiddie pool or the family pool where decked out in giant yellow swimmies, my son floated in the water like a duck, turning this way and that at random and occasionally stopping to tread and drink the water. My daughter just begged to be tossed. It is disturbing how satisfying it is to really throw a child and how satisfying her sputtering splash can be.

My daughter also attended at least one class per day at the hotel. Cooking, clowning, and crafts were her respite away from us and, to be honest, ours away from her. A five year old requires a lot of energy, especially when dealing with her from the moment her eyes open to the moment they close (one bedroom to rule them all). At the very least, her classes allowed my husband and I to enjoy a few kid-free hours (The boy was too young to attend.) What did we do with them? Well, read, of course! Duh. Her classes usually coincided with his naps (when he deigned to take them). A napping child only provides so much freedom. My husband read at the swim-up bar, I read on our balcony. As tempting as any other activity might have been, I’ve been walked in on once before, and what can be forgotten as a dream cannot be denied by a head poking out of a pack-n-play in broad daylight.

We mostly skipped the boardwalk this year due to excessive crowds. No one missed it. Sure, a night of skeet-ball, the Ferris wheel, and crappy food would have been fun, fighting the throng for it wouldn’t have been. And while my husband seemed to briefly forget that kite-flying is not a competitive sport and that his sand castle crew were not union and could not be controlled, he did seem to relax and enjoy the week. We kicked four bottle of sunscreen, successfully avoiding any burns, and at least a pack of swim diapers, successfully avoiding any pool-related accidents.

All in all, a good time was had by all. Next up, a short family weekend in the Poconos and then (hopefully) weekly one-day outings until the summer ends and the school year begins. I don’t require much – I’m not a fan of long plane rides, exotic food, or outdoor adventures. Give me a warm sun, a cool pool, and room for my family to splash and I am one happy woman.

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