160 hours at the Jersey shore

I am back today from a week-long (Sun 5 p.m. to Sun 9 a.m.) stay in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. My family has gone there more summers than not over the past decade, so we know the rental market well! This summer we rented a rather large (if rather old) place that was right on the beach. My entire family joined us: my mom and dad, my older brother and his family, and my little brother. We were celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

The view was pretty spectacular. We would just sit on the huge porch and look at the beach and the sky. We had pretty good weather much of the time, and even one time we didn't have good weather -- a huge thunderstorm -- was pretty cool because the lightning was as good as fireworks.

Of course, there were still the hassles of having a 2-year-old. He did not go down easy; one of us generally had to lie with him for him to fall asleep, which means we'll be facing a hard weaning from that this week. The front porch had a gate, but of course he figured out how to open the gate, so he'd often run into the yard, right by a fairly busy street. But he was the only really little kid at this family gathering, so my parents (and brothers) helped with him quite a lot. He and grandpa had special fun taking walks to get cinnamon rolls in the morning!

A few other highlights:

Ice cream at Day's. My favorite ice cream spot. It was a nearly nightly activity to walk there, wait in the line, and get a scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream in a sugar cone.

Running on the beach. Some days I ran on the board walk. Others I ran barefoot on the sand. My little brother ran with me twice and my 10-year-old ran with me once. He did really well! That day we did about 1.5 miles, alternating running and walking.

Seeing my big kids play together. The 5-year-old and 7-year-old had particular fun building sand castles. My 13-year-old nephew spent some time boogie boarding and wave jumping with my 10-year-old.

Cross-breezes through my bedroom. We didn't really use air conditioning, given that there were lots of windows and we were right on the water. There was a great cross breeze through the bedroom where I slept and while I didn't get many lazy mornings in bed enjoying it, I did take a lovely nap in the just-slightly-cool air -- heavenly. I have a vision of someday having a bedroom I use frequently that's on the water during a period of life when I can just lie in bed snoozing in the AM. Or napping whenever I feel like it.

Finishing Kristin Lavransdatter. All 1124 pages! I really got into this story of a headstrong woman living in medieval Norway. While the length is intimidating, if you think of it as 3 books (which is how it was originally published) then it's more doable. I set a goal of reading 100 pages a day, and that's about the pace I kept, with a few longer days pushing me to finish it in 9 days or so.

Family photos. My sister-in-law hired a photographer to come take shots of all of us on the beach. We wore white shirts and blue jeans. The light was great, so here's hoping they turn out well. My niece braided my 5-year-old's hair and she looked so pretty. I really need to learn to do that.

Lots of walks. Ocean Grove is extremely walkable, so there were lots of opportunities for short jaunts: around town, to ice cream, on the boardwalk, down the pier, on the beach.

Family stuff. I gave my parents (and other family units) copies of the Shutterfly book I made highlighting their 50 years of marriage. We toasted my parents with Dom Perignon. There was no liquor at their wedding 50 years ago, so this was a little different! My mom did a game where she brought baby photos (printed in black and white) of all 14 of us, and we had to guess who was who. My sister-in-law and I were both 14 for 14. No one else was close. I will admit that telling all three of my sons apart takes some work. I'm not sure my husband even got those right.

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4 Responses to 160 hours at the Jersey shore


  1. Connie C says:

    Sounds like a lovely time! I love the game idea!

  2. Byrd says:

    We took a family beach house style vacation about a month ago with our two year old, my dad, my sister and her boyfriend. I’m convinced that extended family vacations are the way to go with kids that age. My husband and I were able to mentally relax for maybe the first time since she was born. Baby girl also bounced back really well from weird sleeping habits during the trip – hope your experience is the same!

  3. Nancy Sheed says:

    Sounds wonderful. I will happily teach you how to french braid! I had 3 little sisters!

  4. kathi stanley says:

    Vacation sounds wonderful. Creating memories for your children is so special. My husband’s family had a house in Lavalette, which he always spoke fondly of.
    Enjoying updates on your reading list. Currently reading, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. You might want to add to your list if you have not already read! Long but a great read.

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