Dan and Hannah Spend Thanksgiving Tuesday with Owen and Max

It came out of nowhere.  Middle of the night darkness made it all the more surprising.  This never happened before.  Hannah and I had no time to think.

Buck O and M Halloween

But let me set the scene.  For the last year and a half, Hannah and I have spent Tuesdays with our grandsons Owen (3) and Max (18 months).  Let me tell you, grandparenting is all it’s cracked up to be.

After driving an hour from our home on the coast of Maine, we arrive to Molly and Tip’s place in Chelmsford, a suburb of Boston.  Lunching with the boys and Tip, we are soon off on one of our weekly adventures.

Imajine That indoor playground

Imajine That indoor playground

In warmer weather we go to local playgrounds and then to a nearby library.  Last week with winter coming, we spent the afternoon at Imajine That, an indoor playground in a remodeled mill on the Merrimack River in nearby Lawrence, MA.

Today we begin at Wegman’s grocery store some 12 miles away in Burlington, MA.  Wegman’s has it all for preschoolers.  Lifting the boys into a grocery cart with two steering wheels, we arrive just before 3P to see the mechanical rooster come out of its “barn.”   Both boys are enthralled, though Owen holds his ears.

A Wegman's lobster

A Wegman’s lobster

At the back of the store, we all stare up at the model train that runs twelve feet above our heads.  Later the gracious fish counter guy pulls out a lobster to show Owen and Max.  Soon we are off to the bakery where the boys scarf down a chocolate chip cookie.

Then it’s the active indoor experience we all love – riding the escalators up and down.  Four, five, six times.  Back in the car, we are off to the Chelmsford Public Library where Max explores the book aisles with me in tow while Owen listens to a story on the computer and then another read by his Omi.

Buck Family pic

Once home around 530P it’s dinner time for Owen and Max.  As an incentive for Owen to finish his fish, corn, and yogurt, Molly or Tip read a story during dinner time.  Tonight it is Monster Needs a Party.

Then Hannah and I get to put the boys to bed.  I take Max, change his diaper, and get him into his pajamas.  I quasi-read a story to him, but soon he is more than ready for his crib.  Hannah supports Owen brushing his teeth and reads another Monster story to him.

Buck O sleeping

With the boys quickly fast asleep, Hannah and I red wine it with Molly and Tip, checking in on all our lives over the past week.  Usually Hannah makes a dinner for us all, but tonight we feast on the humongous subs from Wegman’s.  (So large that a third of one fills me up.)

By 9P we are on I-495 north heading for home.  Usually I listen to Pandora (Richard Harris or Dionne Warwick) while Hannah naps.  Tonight we both listen to a CD of Rev. Ogun Holder of Unity on the River (Amesbury, MA) that we were given when we visited that church for the first time just two days ago.

The Rev draws us both in and soon I’ve turned off I-95 onto Chases Pond Road where we live.  Still listening, I turn on our Hyundai Elantra’s bright lights to better see up our quite dark and winding country road.

Buck deer itself

And then biggest buck I have ever seen darts across the road right in front of us; so close I can see his right eye.  I brake quickly, but not so hard that we skid.  I have no time to think; I just react.  As you can imagine, the buck is gone in an instant.

Where I once might have gone to what could have happened tonight (playing the fear card), I just drive on another hundred yards more and turn left into our driveway.  I am surprised I am not shaken as I once might have been.

Tonight I just think about what happened and it’s gratefulness that I feel.

Grateful that the buck didn’t die crushing our car.  Grateful we can just go to bed without a major incident.  Grateful for the blessing that is being in the lives of our grandsons, Owen and Max.  Grateful for the friendship we have with Molly and Tip.

Not thinking in fear about what might have been, but being so very thankful.

Dan and Hannah – Weekend with Owen and Max

Mom and Dad 1Thank you Mom and Dad.  Years ago, you gave Hannah and me the gift we needed most – taking our young kids for a weekend while we got away.   So….

Owen with Mom and Dad

Owen with Mom and Dad

…when Molly asks if we are free to take two year old Owen and six month old Max for an early November weekend so she and Tip can getaway to Vermont, we are all in.   As a woman who has “yes” on the tip of her tongue, Hannah regularly leaps before she looks. I’m becoming a better leaper as I learn from an All-Pro.

Max as caterpillar in a costume made by his Aunt Robyn

Max as caterpillar in a costume made by his Auntie Robyn

I would tell my friend Joe, you are living the dream having your grandkids down the road. Well, now we are too, since the Family Rawding moved back to New England from Virginia four months ago.

The Rawding Boys

The Rawding Boys

With Molly teaching in nearby Lexington, MA, Tip stays home with the boys. That decision opens the door for Billerica Tuesdays. Driving 65 miles south from our home in York, Maine, throughout fall afternoons we usually take the Rawding Boys to the playground and the Billerica Library.

But for this first weekend in November, the forecast is nasty – rain, maybe snow, high winds, and cold temps in the 30s. The playground is out. But we have sunshine and rainbows in the form of Wegman’s, a Super Duper Grocery Store. It has four rockin’ features for every grandparent of a two year old.

Nov 7 train at Wegman'sModel trains. Wegman’s has a thirteen car model train running above the dairy section on a constant loop in the back of the store. Enthralling for two year olds, the train’s whistle blows as we can watch the train go ‘round and ‘round like the wheels on the bus.

Nov 6BB O shown lobsterLive lobsters. In a glass tank on the shopping aisle, lobsters climb over each other. Today the seafood manager pulls out a lobster for Owen.  Employees aiming to please is the vibe at Wegman’s.

Cookies.   Without missing a beat, the pastry chef opens a plastic container of new cookies and offers a chocolate chip one to Owen.  At two, Owen sits in the grocery cart nibbling his cookie for a good two aisles worth.

Nov 7B O and H on escalatorEscalators!   The piece de resistance.  Taking my hand, Owen lights up as we glide up this Disneyland ride for a two year old. Jumping off the escalator at the top, he leads me on the return trip down. Without missing a beat he grabs his Omi’s hand and does it again.

Nov 8C M sleeping on floorAs all parents and grandparents can imagine, we do not mess with Owen’s nap time.  Back by noon from Wegman’s, we feed and read to him; then we all have as much quiet time as Owen deems reasonable.

Nov 8B D feeding MMealtime for Max is simple – eight ounces of Molly’s milk from a bottle. Not into solid food or formula yet, he polishes off four to five bottles per day; he chugs it down with rounded belly and a milk-logged look. Owen is a little different.

Nov 2 Owen in high chairAs he sits in his high chair, Owen knows what he likes and doesn’t like.  When he says, “I don’t want that” or “no thank you,” we have learned to push his food to the center of the table. Usually within 15 seconds he reaches for it anyway and starts eating.  At Saturday breakfast we play this game as he knocks down cantaloupe slices, scrambled eggs, yogurt-buttered toast, and Craisins.

Nov 3B O at sink excellent oneOwen loves to stand on a chair next to his Omi “cleaning up” or “making oatmeal” in the sink by sloshing around in the water. For 30 minutes he splashes and asks us to guess where things are (e.g., Where’s the water? When he covers the half cup measure of water with a lid). He takes such joy in it; and as two year olds will do, he will ask it ten times in a row.

Nov 4 changing padThis weekend I finally step up and start changing diapers. About time is an appropriate response. In the past, I’d read to Owen, sing with him, put on his clothes, but I left the messiness of changing to Hannah.  Moderately competent, I now clean with fresh wipes, spread the butt paste, sprinkle baby powder, and attach the diaper.  Sorry, I don’t take these talents on the road.

Flipping over from front to back and back to front, Max can cover the entire living room floor. Smiling from 20 feet away, he has inherited the sweet disposition of his maternal great grandparents, Jean and Dan.

Owen spontaneously reading a book to Max

Unprompted, Owen reads to Max

Since Molly and Tip have been reading to Owen since he was a baby, reading is soothing and comforting to both Owen and me. Snuggled as one, he and I read the Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (who knew?). We are introduced to playful stories that interest kids and adults alike: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dawalt and The Three Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague.

Owen and Max's mom and dad getting away to Camel's Hump in Vermont

Owen and Max’s mom and dad getting away to Camel’s Hump in Vermont

After arriving at 730A, we finally put the boys to bed twelve hours later on this Saturday night of Daylight Savings Time.

I love when the time changes and we gain an extra hour said no grandparents ever when taking care of their grandkids!  Though others may get an extra hour of sleep, preschoolers arise an hour earlier for the next week or two.

Nov 5 Wegmans balloonsClicking glasses of Shiraz, Hannah and I sit together, surprisingly not wasted or fried at all. It’s been very cool being with Owen and Max.

Even with the forecast of snow, winds, and rain for Sunday; we have a plan –

Wegman’s!  God Bless you Wegman’s.