Manfrengensen was watching the start of the All-Star game with the boys. At the beginning they did a tribute to America’s real-life “all-stars,” and they had all five living presidents appear during the presentation. When Bill Clinton came on, Clooney exclaimed, “Hey, I know that guy! He was on The Simpsons.”

bill clinton simpsonsSee, it’s educational.

We just got back from one of the nicest family vacations ever. Just went down to the beach, stayed at my parents’ place. It was actually really relaxing, though admittedly, Manfrengensen did most of the work. He’s the guy who packs everything in the Wonderwheeler and hauls it all down to the tide’s edge.  He does it all, takes chairs, buckets, boogie boards, sets up the umbrella. He made lunches for everyone too, and packed them in the cooler. Why is it that sandwiches always taste better on the beach? (Edison says it’s because of the sand factor. Get it? Sand?) Manfrengensen is some kind of husband, let me tell you. He would let me sleep in every morning, while he took the kids out to the playground and then around to the Wawa for donuts or soft pretzels depending on their personal preferences. Then he would bring the kids home, where I was often still working on my morning coffee. He’d take a brief rest, and within the hour he’d start packing that Wonderwheeler.

And he hardly Eddie Haskelled me at all about how my only jobs were applying everyone’s sunscreen and packing the sweatshirts with our books (I always packed his though, unlike me, he never seemed to have time to read on the beach) into the tote bag, which, eight days out of the eleven, rode to the beach with the rest of the gear on the Wonderwheeler.

We had perfect weather, though the wind was a bit brisk a few of those days. The final Sunday was the best one though and the water was absolutely perfect for sea bathing.

Let me see if I can draw you a few postcards:

Took The Princess with me to find myself a new bathing suit. She was pretty good in the store and “helped” me pick out one that I was happy with. Later that day, when she put on her own suit in preparation for the beach, she went straight over to the full-length mirror, turned around and pondered how her butt looked in it. Osmosis, I guess.

All five of us played skee ball side-by-side one chilly afternoon on the boardwalk. Later we went to an amusement park where we got $50 worth of tickets for the rides. Those were gone exactly 32 minutes later.

Clooney, the social butterfly, moving from one set of kids to another on the beach, often spending more time talking their parents’ ears off than the kids’. Even the lifeguards know him. In fact, one day when he’d ventured too far over in the water, rather than blowing their whistles, the guards just yelled, “CLOONEY!” and then pointed to where they wanted him to be.

The Princess, learning how to boogie board, the same way the boys did, just waiting on the sand for the tide to come and give her a ride. Each day, she would go a little further out. One day she was even bold enough to follow Edison out a little too far. We were watching closely, of course, and just as Manfrengensen was getting up to call her back a bit, she got clobbered by a wave and went under. Edison quickly pulled her up, and then we took her out to calm her down. She had kept her mouth closed (so those swim lessons are paying off) but she was a little freaked out by the experience. She did get back on the board later, though. She’s a trooper.

Overall, just a great week in the life of this little family. Great routine we’ve developed with getting to the beach, the kids playing there, keeping our eyes peeled for the ice cream man, The Princess sleeping in her little tent, then home for showers, dinner, and walking for more ice cream. (Ice cream two times a day! If not always for myself – still watching those calories- at least for the kids. But even for myself, it was nice to have a week where my toughest decisions involved weighing the caloric content of the Choco-taco over that of the frozen Snickers ice cream bar.) The simple life, perhaps, but one full of lots of laughs and lots of fun. Who could ask for anything more?

p.s. – I also had time to read two books and part of a third while we were away. You can check out my thoughts on those on the “Books 2009” page.

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