While Mom and Dad are Away, the Dudes Will Play

When Dave got home from work on the Friday before we left for Hawaii, he said, 'Yay! We're officially on vacation!' I had to disagree, I still had hours of work ahead of me to prepare for being gone for the week, albeit largely by my own choice.
I feel like I had been sharing tips and tricks with my mom for the past month. I mean seriously though, I know the boys would've been fine regardless; my mom is more than qualified to take care of them. I just wanted it to be as enjoyable of a week as possible for her and Linda so I tried to think of all their little quirks and everything that was part of their routine so that if things were kept fairly normal for them, hopefully they would be in the great spirits. So about 90 pages later (well, more like 6 or so...), I was able to detail out their schedule, the activities for the week (MyGym, swimming, etc), everything about food and what they like to eat, how much, what to serve at different meals, etc., and little reminders about our house. It definitely took a lot of time, but I think it gave me a peace of mind that I prepared them as best I could to hopefully keep things running smoothly with the boys.

Next up, prepping the food for the week. Jessica came over the night before we left and I think I was in the kitchen for about 5 hours cooking and baking. Recipes below. Finally, packing my own stuff and then the morning that we left, getting everything ready for the day for the boys and getting their laundry put away. Once we got in the uber to the airport, or actually, more like when we sat down on the plane, then vacation had officially began.

Dave and I were so excited for this trip, but really didn't spend much time thinking about it beforehand; obviously it appears I was much more focused on how the boys' week would go. This was the first time both he and I were away from the boys at the same time and honestly, I didn't give it a second thought. Sure, there was a lot of prep involved and I worried a little that they would be clingy when we got back, but I figured the boys would have the time of their life having adventures with the grandmas all week.

We are so lucky to have two wonderful, involved grandmas who jumped at the chance to spend the week with the boys. Originally, I asked my mom to do it and while she gladly accepted, she didn't admit she was tentative until Linda volunteered to come help and my mom jumped at the chance to have some help. They're a great pair, get along well naturally and seemed to have an unspoken trade-off of responsibilities throughout the day with the boys based on what each of them said.

So here's a recap of their week from Linda.

Monday: After Mom and Dad left for the airport, Dedee finished getting everything ready and kept with the normal routine - out to South Beach Marina playground to see all their friends. The boys played well and then headed to Crossroads for lunch, getting their egg-bacon-cheese burger like normal. Naps went well this day and when I arrived to the house about 2:30, both boys were sleeping so Jeanne and I caught up and shared stories till I heard the first little voice from the bedroom.  It was hard to wait, but I wanted to be sure they were really awake and not just stretching:) William woke up first.  My biggest fear was that they would not recognize me and that they would be sad or frightened when they saw me.  No worries!  William snuggled right into my arms and we sat on the floor and cuddled while Baby Einstein’s Old MacDonald played on the tv.  What fun. I love those baby smells and baby snuggles.  You just can’t get that on FaceTime!   George woke up next and although he is not the snuggler William is, he was happy to see me and we started to play with the cars and of course they each had several books that they wanted Ma and Jeanne to read.

The boys were glad to greet Jessica when she arrived at 4 and since Jeanne had a church meeting that night, I reassured her that we would be fine and she could go to the meeting.  So the boys  went to the park with Jessica and I unpacked, settled in for the week, and walked to Crossroads Cafe for a Ciabatti sandwich.  Bath time is ALWAYS a big , fun time so I peeked in and watched them play in the tub and swim and blow bubbles for me.  How cute! They were so proud of themselves and obviously love this time of the day!  I know this is dad’s favorite activity, but they were happy and to my relief didn't seem to be missing mom and dad. They were just having fun playing in the water! Then  bedtime…actually went very smoothly.  Jessica encouraged me to read them a book and say goodnight then as I left the room I could hear her sing them their goodnight song.  Very Sweet! I was in bed by 8:30…I stayed on Cincinnati time.  It helped with the 6:15 wake-up call in the morning;)

Tuesday morning I was up early…so I had time to dress and have some juice before the boys stirred.  They are so sweet in the morning.  I LOVE morning time!!! We snuggled in the living room and watched a little Baby Einstein for about 15 minutes while they had some milk and woke up.  Then it was BREAKFAST time!  What fun.  They had the Lumberjack breakfast!  They would eat up the delicious treats Lauren had ready for them as fast as I could put them on their tray.  What a fun morning!  When Jeanne woke up…we cleaned up a little, dressed…and off we went to My Gym and a play area called Recess. What fun at My Gym…off go the shoes and off go the boys!  They love climbing and the equipment and interacting with the other children.  The staff changed the activities about every 5 - 10 minutes so there is always something new to try.  I am glad both grandmas were there so we each could shadow one boy.

William is very nimble…he is a great climber and loved the little tunnels and cars. George had fun with the ball pit and swings.  Such a great activity for the boys to burn off some energy.  Then Jeanne knew about Recess play area and we had another great playtime.  There was an area in the back of the room…a little tunnel with doors and windows…just big enough for the boys and they LOVED running in there.  They could push the buttons and change the lights from green to blue and then Geo found a wooden cart to push in the tunnel and he was a very happy boy!!!!  We ate lunch at Recess and headed home.  William took a big nap but George could not settle down so Jeanne took him for a walk in the stroller and he slept for about 30 minutes.  Jessica arrived - Jeanne left to go to Jon’s house - I had dinner at the House of Hunan.  As I was sitting by the window,  Jessica walked by with the boys in the stroller.  She did not see me but William did.  I wish I had a picture of the double-take when he saw me. They did their nighttime routine and went to bed.  Another TERRIFIC day!

Wednesday we played around the house in the morning because we were going to the Academy of Science and it didn’t open till 10:00.  But…we all needed a little down time to play and just hang out.  The boys really do play with their toys or read books very nicely.  I am impressed with their attention span.  They really do not play together…but more side-by-side.

The Museum was fun…we had lunch in the cafe…the boys devoured an organic grilled cheese sandwich…then we went outside for a little exercise. Nap time was a little challenge even though I tried to give them some quiet time before their nap.  They were both playing in their room ( I have a funny video of them laughing and playing in their beds and peeking out the window at the construction guys).  It is hard to be serious when they are doing this because it is so funny!  Big news of the day…when I went in to check on them (for about the 10th time) George was out of his crib.  UH OH!  William was sleeping and so I brought George in the living room with me and we played cars.  When Jessica arrived George ran to the bedroom and woke William up.  Needless to say W was not in a very good mood, but he got in the stroller and we all went off to Music Class.  That was fun to watch.  Lots of activity and George shakes that middle finger and says “NO NO NO” as he approaches the drawers or gate.  Too funny.  William just flirts with all the ladies in the class!!!!

After class Jessica took the boys to the park and I went to a restaurant on 2nd street to get a take-out order.  Jessica was really late returning.  I was worried and about to call her cell phone when she came in the door.  Turns out she found a wallet on the street and called the owner.  It belonged to a government worker who was on a bike.  She was very happy Jessica called her and the delay was a result of Jessica waiting to give the wallet back.  Apparently the lady wanted to reward Jessica with a drink…uh no…stroller full of boys!  But the boys settled into their bath an bed routine and we ended another good day.

Thursday was great.  Once again we played in the house for a while after a terrific breakfast.  Then we went to a park opposite the Ferry Building.  Jeanne forgot the lunch she had packed…but it worked out great as there were vendors selling food at the Ferry Building.  I stopped at a cheese stand and the gentleman walked me down to the veggie/fruit stand to pick out the sweetest grapes and then sold us the cheese to go with them.  Jeanne bought some bread and I got a pork sandwich.  What a lunch!!!  San Francisco style!!!  But on the way home we stopped for the best part…Apple spice gelato…yum!!!!  The vendor knew the boys and they knew the stand.  As we approached both Geo and Will pointed and indicated “More..More”!  She only had sugar cones for their treats..no cake cones - the boys loved them!  We didn’t hear a peep out of them all the way home:)  But they were coved with sticky gelato so I plunked them into a nice warm bath tub just to rinse off and it work out well as it helped them to settle down and they took a very nice nap.    Jessica arrived and we walked together to the Safeway to get Ma’s “White donuts” for breakfast Friday morning.  (Zach and Lizzy loved having this as a special treat in Cincinnati …so fair is fair…G and W would have some too!)  The boys then went to the park and I went to Crossroads for a chicken crepe.   


Friday was the last day.  I am getting sad.  I have had so much fun with the boys and Jeanne and Jessica.  But no time for tears, we were off to the pool for swimming lesson.  Jeanne was the driver on all our adventures, but this was the one she was not sure of and when we arrived she raised her arms and said  “Thank you Jesus…we made it”!  I didn’t realize we were lost…the boys and I just enjoy the ride in the back seat taking in all the San Francisco sights!!! They swim with goggles and fins.  Too funny.  And you better hold on tight as you approach the water…they are ready to jump in.  No fear! Great little swimmers! About the last minute of class, William was done and indicated he was hungry…so we showered, and dressed them and put them in the play pen provided while we got dressed.  Apparently they sweet talked a little girl to share her juice with them…and so we share our cheese with her…good job boys!!!  We had lunch on the Presidio…and took a picture for grandpa because that’s were he was stationed in 1970 and 1971 with the Army reserves.  It was his first visit to San Francisco and that’s when he fell in love with the city!

The boys were not interested in dinner Friday night…I guess we had too many snacks on the way home from swimming class.  But bedtime was easy and I moved into the big bed in their room because mommy and daddy are coming home tonight.  It is kind of bittersweet.  I just rested for a while watching them sleep trying to store all the sights and smells for those long months when we are apart.  They are angels.  I Love William and George and already miss them.  But…they will be down to see us in Florida.  Sleep tight babies…

A note from Ma:
To my sweet California grandsons,   What a wonderful week we shared.  We had so many adventures.  I was so happy to see all your favorite places and be a part of your lives for a short time.  I know mommy and daddy missed you,  but it is great for them to have a little ‘grown-up’ time and for us to have a little Ma time!  I will remember our time together forever...I hope you remember me as well.

William: your smiles are dynamite.  You remind so much of another little boy in my life.  You are clever, cute, funny, happy and when you run or shake that little head and that beautiful hair flies around I could just melt.  You are quite the talker and when you figure out how all those sounds go together to make words…look out!  You love to snuggle and laugh and so do I.   Tickle time and bath time are the best.  You know you are a superstar and you are happy to either play by yourself or share with Ma.  You often walk away from a challenge with George, peace and harmony are important to you.  You LOVE books and stories.  I can’t wait till you write Ma a story…maybe a Choose Your Own Adventure like your dad.  Thanks for such a great week.  I love you William McDowell.  

George: you are such a serious little guy, but when you share one of those big George smiles they are the best!  You remind me so much of the Grote boys.  Grandpa George would be so proud of you and your mechanical skills!!!  You study everything and in one or two tries you have conquered the task.  You LOVE your trucks and the construction men and you believe in routines.  We couldn’t leave home without a trip down the street to see the work crew in action.  We loved reading Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site…and then peeking out the window to say goodnight to the guys.  Even though your favorite word is “Mine” you are a good playmate with your brother William but look out when you set that little mouth and make a decision.  You are a very determined little boy!  Thanks for sharing those big laughs and smiles with Ma.  I love you George McDowell.

Thank you so much to Linda and my mom. What a great week! Those boys got spoiled with all the adventures and attention with next to no side effects of that 'spoiling'. They did learn a new word, 'show', as in 'tv show', and now point to the TV constantly saying 'show' so we've reeled it in a bit on the TV, but they adjusted back to the routine with mom and dad really easily. They were very clingy on Saturday and Sunday though, especially with Dave. I don't think he could go to the bathroom without them whining 'Dada, Dada', especially William. I was worried about how they would do Monday when Dave when to work, but they were great, we blew kisses to Daddy and opened the door for him to leave. Once we closed it, it was business as usual, back to playing.

What We Ate - September 29-Oct 5

As I didn't ask the grandmas and Jessica to keep an exact log of what they ate, I'll just highlight out some of the food I prepared and anything they mentioned that was new that they had.

New dinners:
Spaghetti squash lasagna bowls (recipe)
Beef and bean chili (adapted from this recipe)
Cheesey Turkey Meatloaf Bites (adapted from this recipe, added zucchini)

New desserts:
White donettes
Apple spice gelato from our favorite stand

I also cut up and froze a bunch of grapes, perfect to grab and go. I made a big batch of zucchini pancakes (recipe here) to use up several zucchini and also a raspberry bake (featured here).

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