First let me explain what a baby-moon is. Before their first child arrives, couples take a weekend away as a sort of “honeymoon” before they dive into full-time parenting. In this variation, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip are going to a West Virginia bed and breakfast for one last weekend alone before their second child is born in May. While they are away, Hannah and I will rock the house with our 18 month old grandson Owen.
During this never-ending winter, traveling is a roll of the dice. The day before we are to fly from Boston (Logan) to northern Virginia (Reagan) we learn that Jet Blue has cancelled every single Logan-to-Reagan flight. Ticketed for the first Jet Blue flight on Friday morning at 615A, we wonder what the ten inches of Thursday snow will mean for our plans to fly south. Crossing our fingers has worked in the past.
Besides confounding our travel plans, the snow has a financial cost. We have a Comfort Inn room at a discount that is non-refundable, non-transferrable, and worth diddly do if we don’t show up. We’ve prepaid for shuttle parking at Park. Ride, and Fly three miles from Logan. And without our driveway being plowed by our friend Dave, we aren’t flying anywhere anyway.
Snow in the abstract might sound romantic to those living in California, Florida, and Arizona. You see the storms crossing the northern part of the country on the Weather Channel, but you don’t feel our pain. I certainly didn’t when we lived in Arizona. Your weather was just a TV show in my mind.
Come late February the nasty three (the cold, the dark, and the snow) can get old. Real old. Senior citizen old! Hannah and I no longer have the fire or the desire to shovel our 150 foot driveway from top to bottom when the snow exceeds 8”, as we have done for some 30 years. Dave’s plow has been a welcome relief to our once strong backs and youthful exuberance.
As it turns out when the Friday alarm sounds at 245A, a quick check of my iPhone shows that the flight is on. Driving on still wet and sometimes icy highways and city streets, we arrive at Park, Ride, and Fly in Revere, MA by 430A for the shuttle to Logan. Since conditions require the de-icing of the plane, we take off twenty-five minutes late and still arrive in Virginia by 830A! I can’t imagine where we’d be if we had driven the 550 miles through the storm-ravaged, megaplex of spaghetti (i.e., highways) in the Northeast.
With Owen at daycare and Molly home because of a snow day from her teaching position (Virginia is a hoot when it comes to snow days – 2 inches and all hell breaks loose), we three head to the gym; later Hannah and I nap to make up for our short night.
With three days and two nights ahead with Owen, we have plans for the zoo on Saturday and then the National Building Museum Sunday. When the time comes Saturday, we pass on the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington with our friend Amelia since the temperatures are a Maine-like 30 degrees mid-day. Hanging out with Amelia and our grandson Owen in his living room of balls, blocks, stacking cups, and puzzles, we are in the presence of a smiling eighteen-month-old who sees the world as his oyster.
On Sunday, we head off to the National Building Museum made for kids under ten. Driving a simple twenty minutes from Virginia to our nation’s capital on a February Sunday morning of little traffic, we meet our friend Ellen who has taken the Metro within a couple of blocks of the majestic building that once housed the offices for the administration of Civil War Pensions. After the Civil War, the United States Congress passed legislation that greatly expanded pensions for veterans, their widows, and orphans.
Immediately it hits me that the idea behind this museum is brilliant. Where can parents take preschoolers in winter, even if it is the northern South of Washington, DC, where it’s warm and engaging? For a mere $8 for adults, $5 for seniors, and no cost for those under 2, the price is right as we enter a hall of wonders for the preschool set. First we head to the Play, Work, and Build area on the second floor.
In a room that seems to hold 100+ kids and parents, we find Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and blue foam building blocks aplenty. Owen goes immediately for the Tinker Toys. For most of the next hour he holds on to it dearly.
At the blue blocks Owen finds a foam blue ball. Other kids, even parents, want it. When he finally rolls it down the sloping chute, instantly another kid grabs it. Owen looks quizzically. The foam ball is gone and Owen just moves on.
Just after noon, we enter the Building Zone, a play area designated for 2-6 year olds; the number of kids are limited to around 20. It looks like Owen’s living room of chaos and toys only on a grand room scale. When we open the gate, Owen sprints for a truck. Though he’s missed his morning nap, the shapes, sizes, and colors grab hold of his attention for the next hour.
The National Building Museum is the bargain of a lifetime for the preschool set and their adoring grandparents. It’s funny for the last year and a half of his life how Owen continues to be the cutest, brightest, sweetest grandchild in the world (tied for first with every other grandchild)!