Last week we were in Ocean City, NJ at the beach house my Mom rents every year. It was our fifth year of this new beach family vacation tradition. Mark’s mother’s family were big beach goers and when Mark told stories of having family beach outings I wanted that for our family – the tradition, the quality time, the nostalgia, the fun - and after I got pregnant with Noah I suggested it to my Mom. Lucky for us she wanted in on that too. And now it’s five years in and it’s something I really value – not just for a week away but for strengthening family bonds. And of course also testing them – it can be a bit trying having a bunch of people all staying in one house, wanting to do things their own way and having their own expectations. I know I have my own moments of childish grumpiness but we’re family and we all want everyone to have a good time so we all try to reign them in and remember that we love each other anyway. And what stays with us after the week passes are the lovely memories of kids playing, growing, and spending time with family. Cue the schmaltzy music. Each summer at the beach I remember the year previously and am blown away by the changes. Noah has grown so much in the last year – shedding the last vestiges of babyhood and becoming a little boy. And of course most notably was that last year I was a hugely pregnant woman and this year there is Ray prancing down the beach. It really has flown by – especially when measured in beach time.
Here are a few of the more notable things about our week:
- There is an entrance to Congo Golf where we hit the beach at 12 Street. Most notable about this locale is the large helicopter perched over the roof with two animatronic gorillas that talk and sing songs. Noah LOVES these “monkeys.” Every time we would go near them he would comment on what song they were singing. And he was so obsessed with them that Mark promised him he’d put the four songs that they sing on his Ipod when we got home. I’ve listened to “Noah Mac’s Mega Monkey Mix” at least ten times since we’ve been home. And for those of you dying to replicate this playlist for your very own the tracks are “Hot, Hot, Hot,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “The Banana Boat Song.”
- Last year our plan to take a boat trip got squashed because of an evening of thunderstorms and since Noah still wanted a ride on a boat I was intent on taking one this year. When I saw a flyer for a “Pirate Adventure” riding a pirate ship on the bay I knew Noah would love it. Of course because of the price only one of us could take him and since it’s always easier for me to take Ray (because of the Mama stage, the nursing, etc.) I always get the infant end of the stick when we divide and conquer. But I HATE to miss out on things. I love to see Noah take something like that in but I bowed out gracefully – and only violently insisted that Mark take insane amounts of pictures and video so I could experience it later. And what an experience it was. There was face painting, sea chanteys, water cannons, a pirate battle, a map and a treasure. Noah took it all in with a very serious expression – he had to concentrate to remember every detail. Staff member Matey Matt apparently commented several times on how he wasn’t smiling. But I assure you he enjoyed every minute of it. And Noah was so excited to show me the pictures. And then to Grandma. And to Nana. I think we will be knee deep in all things pirate for quite some time. Yesterday Noah gave a businessman a good chuckle when upon hearing that I intended us to share the ice cream we were on line to purchase Noah said “Pirates don’t share.” He’s also told me recently that pirates don’t say please to which I responded by telling him that pirates never disrespect their Mamas. But the weirdest and oddest thing that has happened is after seeing a particular homeless man with a red kerchief on his head he now seems to think that all vagrants are pirates. I should have corrected him but it was so darling I let it stand for the moment.
- Noah also mini-golfed for the first time. (And again I didn’t get to go. Boo hoo.) Though sometimes it may have resembled hockey more than golf, he learned a bit and enjoyed himself even more which is really the point. And he even got a hole in one. Afterwards he was asking to golf at every other course on the boardwalk.
- Ocean City is a dry town which means not only no liquor and drunk teens on the boardwalk but also no gambling and games of chance. Thank God for that because we waste more than enough money on the amusement piers. Good lord what a racket those things are! And Noah is all about the rides. And not just the kiddie ones where you drive in a circle and beep the horn either. He rode the serpent mini-coaster 4 times, climbed around in the fun house and obstacle course, tackled the junior bumper cars and even rode the swings. I always loved rides as a kid but oddly enough since having Noah I am far more cautious and even more nauseous. It makes me both nervous and proud to see how bold he is. And that look of joy on his face is priceless – ticket prices be damned.
- For two nights my Mom’s husband Larry’s daughters and grandkids stayed at the house. Those were hands down the most exciting for Noah. He had so much fun playing with his cousins. Jumping in the waves, playing in the sand, going on the rides – together. He really was a bit depressed after they left.
- Noah is in love with the ocean. He was constantly in the water, begging to be taken deep into the waves. He jumped, boogey boarded and was waterlogged a few times but bounced back quickly. Ray was equally in love with the sand. He was covered in it from head to foot. He’d dip his food in it before putting it in his mouth. He rolled around in it naked and content.
- One very unfortunate thing about the beach this year is that my Mom was saddled with horrible back pain the entire week and it really hampered her enjoyment of her vacation. She wasn’t as able to spend as much time cavorting with the kids, walking on the boardwalk or shopping as she would have liked. And though she was really in some severe pain she just kept pushing herself and we’d all be scolding her. It had her a bit down in the dumps which I could totally understand because it was very similar to how I felt last year when I was pregnant and having a lot of early contractions. It really sucks to be limited and feel like you are missing out on the fun. Her back is doing a bit better now and we hope that she’s as good as new very soon.
- Ray is a ladies man. That little man got insane amount of attention at the beach. Large gaggles of bikini clad teenage girls would stop to ooh and aahh at him. Waitresses would marvel at his hair, his eyes, his huge smile. And he ate it up. What a flirt.
- New on Noah’s photo flickr button to the right of the page you will notice photos Noah took on a walk to the bay with Mark. He took 100 photos on that walk – but I whittled it down to the best of the best.
And now vacation is over. It always sucks a bit to come back from vacation. Luckily Noah started his summer camp program this week so we had that to look forward to. For the next two months he has school from 10:15 to 12:45 three days a week. Twice this week I was able to take Noah to school and put Ray down for a nap and READ for a whole hour! Damn that felt good. I always feel so guilty reading – like I should be cleaning if I ever get free time (HA!). But reading is really important to me. So much so that I’d say it is one of the things that makes me ME and I really do need to make time for it. As for what I read - I favor literary fiction set in different countries and different time periods so that I can accidentally learn a few things while following the plot. And TRAVEL – I like to feel like I’m traveling when I read – to China, to Africa, to Europe but most of all India. Just last week I finally finished The Inheritance of Loss and now I’m halfway through Eat, Pray, Love – which is really making me feel like I have to get back into a yoga practice, after of course eating insane amounts of pasta and gelato.