14 July 2012
This year, Fiona reached the big oh-two. We decided to go to the beach again, which, I suppose, means that we will be going to the beach for her birthday for the rest of her life. Which will be just fine as long as all of the birthday beach trips are as awesome as this one!
The one downside of the trip—which I will mention first, to get it out of the way—was the unfortunate bathing suit situation. We hadn’t been to a pool all summer, and therefore hadn’t bought Fiona a new bathing suit. So two days before the big event, I took her to a few stores that I felt certain would have a reasonable selection. Some of them did not have a single bathing suit. That did not bode well. Since I was already frustrated, I didn’t want to go all the way to Target only to discover that they also had a lousy selection that late in the season, so I tried JCPenney. The only true one-piece suit that they had in her size had a nice pink and green floral pattern … and also a big pink tutu. How embarrassing. I planned to take it off, but didn’t have time, and she seemed to like it. I guess I can’t win them all.
A week or so before Fiona’s birthday, Dustin read somewhere that Google Wallet was organizing a travel package to the beach at Long Branch, New Jersey, on Saturday, 14 July, which was perfect timing (Fiona’s birthday is 15 July). Apparently they would be giving out tickets to people who went and saw a demonstration. I thought we were going to have to install Google Wallet on our phone*—it’s some sort of app that allows you to use your smartphone like a credit card—and they would give us a sales pitch before giving us one free ticket (since we only have one smartphone). Nope. All we had to do was go to Penn Station and stand in the New Jersey Transit concourse, and people in Google Wallet T-shirts came over and said, “Do you want to go to the beach for free? Okay, let me show you how this works on my phone!” They used their own phone and gave us three free round-trip tickets, plus beach admission. It was great. And they weren’t just any old tickets: Google had actually chartered a train! Everyone on the train was wearing Google sunglasses (free), there were Google Wallet beach balls on all the seats (free), the Google people came around with snacks (free). It was awesome. And, since they chartered it, it was a direct route with no stops after New York and Newark. Fiona loved it. We blew up every beach ball near us, and she used them to fill a nearby area for stowing luggage. She hammed it up when the Google people came by to take pictures.
The beach was also great, of course. This time around, Fiona was much more aware of what one does at the beach, so she wasn’t mad when we suggested she leave the sand and go play in the water. We went out and played in some real waves, which she loved. She found a few mussel shells, but she wasn’t as interested in them as I thought she might be.
We found a bakery that sold some delicious and/or lovely cupcakes, and brought a few back to our spot on the beach after lunch. Dustin and I both chose cupcakes whose taste we thought we would like, but for Fiona we picked one whose looks we thought she would like: a “tie-dye” cupcake whose frosting can best be described as neon. It was tricky to light the candles we had brought, since it had gotten rather windy, so Fiona and I sheltered the flame by huddling under our huge red towel, and she was able to blow out the candle herself (without help from the wind). Sure enough, she loved the cupcake and ate it much more daintily than she did last year’s cupcake-on-the-beach. She didn’t finish it, though, so Dustin and I both had a taste. It was pretty lousy, as one might imagine of a fluorescent pastry.
After eating our cupcakes, it was time for one more dip in the ocean to clean off the frosting that was smeared all over Fiona’s legs, arms, and face, and then we packed up our things and went to the showers to get slightly cleaner. We wrapped her in a towel when she was done with her shower, and I carried her out to the sidewalk as she called weakly to passersby for help. I guess she didn’t really like being wrapped up like a sausage.
Predictably, Fiona fell asleep in her stroller on our way back to the train station, still in nothing but a diaper and a beach towel. She slept most of the way back to New York, but she did wake up in time to entertain some Jersey girls on their way to the city for a night out on the town.
The next day, a few friends from church joined us for a real cake (not overpriced, and definitely not neon and fluorescent) and, after blowing out her candles all by herself, Fiona had three small slices for dinner. After all, you only turn two once.
* Dustin’s note: Our phone—which uses Google’s Android operating system—actually came with Google Wallet installed.