We are home after most of a week visiting Grandma E and Deb and various other friends in the town where I went to college and then grad school and then stuck around a little longer after that. It was great--lots and lots of kid-centric fun, followed by evening knitting on the couch, and with the added bonus of other adults around to do baby-chasing duty occasionally. I want to blog about it all more fulsomely, but right now I have a kitchen to clean up, and I want to upload all the pictures first. So, in the meantime, this, b'kitzur, is what we did:
Sunday: Woke up at 3:45 am to get a 4:30 cab to the airport for a 7:00 flight, with a connection in Philly that was to have gotten us to our destination by around 1 PM. Instead, spent the entire day at Philadelphia airport, with occasional calls to local friend K, who would have let us sleep on her floor if we'd gotten stuck overnight (but, nice as it would have been to see her, we are still glad it didn't come to that). We were supposed to have a 2-hour layover; thanks to a thunderstorm that closed the airport, it turned out to be 11 hours. The kids behaved better than many of the grownups we saw. This is not saying as much as you might think.
Monday: The beginnings of serious Small Boy Fun. Grandma E's son-in-law Charlie came over with an honest-to-goodness functional steam engine. He fired it up and drove it around the house and let the boys ride on it. Then he let Barak drive it. They both worship him now. The next day, when Charlie pulled into the driveway (sans steam engine), I heard Iyyar say, dreamily, "I want Charlie to come back. I want him to come back wif his steam engine."
Then Grandma and Iyyar and I went down to the local natural-food coop to get various kosher and dairy-free items, plus the popsicles I had promised the boys in reward for their relatively spectacular behavior the day before. We put Abba on a bus, because he was going to visit his own grandma for a couple of days, and then came back up to Grandma's, where we then loaded carseats and kids into friend Deb's car for an afternoon at her house spent splashing in water barrels, eating blueberries directly off bushes, harassing cats, bonding with bunny rabbits and, finally, building with Lincoln Logs. More on all of this later.
Tuesday: Morning at farmer's market, including a visit to the Twisty Balloon Man, who made a dog on a leash for Iyyar and a pirate sword with belt and holster for Barak. The dog, sadly, did not even survive the trip back to the car; the pirate sword made it to lunch but not beyond. Alas. Lunch of fabulous farmer's market corn (cooked in the pot Grandma E bought and kept new just for us--we are not worthy), green beans, peaches, and the cucumber we'd brought back from Deb's garden the day before.
Afternoon included a trip to the park with sprinklers, checking out the playground equipment, and general running around; then back to Grandma's for a dinner of yogurt, and then bed for the boys and a visit from some members of my old spinning guild for me. Lots of fun and a sleeve and a half knitted on current baby sweater.
Wednesday: morning spent running around Grandma E's enormous backyard with pasture, collecting walnuts from the tree and driving toy cars in the grass. Lunch at the waterfall with boys and a friend from a short-lived Job from Hell I had in New York (only good things to come out of job: said friend, and the discovery of an awesome kosher vegetarian Chinese place). Then we went over to Saba and Savta's house (TWO sets of honorary grandparents--my kids are doing pretty well, wouldn't you say?) for spaghetti and meatballs and playing-with-toys. I really want to blog about this further--much to say there, mostly about the workings of the busy mind. Saba went to pick up Abba at the bus station in time for dinner.
Thursday: left Abba, who did not fit in Grandma E's car, at home with his books while we went to Deb's local fire station for a privately guided tour of same by her brother-in-law. He opened all the bay doors, drove a truck out into the parking lot, and let the boys climb all over it--and try on fireman coats AND hats and even showed off his thermal camera. Boys were so stunned and awestruck they barely managed a thank-you at the end. I heard all about it later, though.
Back to Deb's, by request of boys, but by way of her friend up the road who has sheep AND goats AND chickens to feed. My own grandmother kept chickens until I was well into my 20s and one of the great highlights of visiting her as a child was getting to feed them and collect the eggs, so it was really nice--and a little melancholy for me--to watch the kids entranced by these ones. Then back to Deb's for a lunch of blueberries, directly off the bushes, hard-boiled eggs (including one from a chicken of our recent acquaintance), peanut-butter sandwiches and what Iyyar calls "tomato chips" (Bearitoes, which you can't get around here but I really like).
Off to the university campus, via the local yarn store (I got a magazine and a ball of sock yarn), where we met my friend Zhenya (old friend from my very first Russian class there). Ice cream for the dairy-tolerant and a popsicle for Iyyar, a walk around the gardens, and a visit to the Echo Tunnel. A very loud visit.
Then home to Grandma's, where we discovered Abba with meat tenderizer plastered on his face from a yellowjacket sting incurred while reading outside at the picnic table. Dinner of the last yogurts in the fridge for the boys, then baths and bed; Grandma E and I shared the box of tomato soup I'd bought on our first day, then there was laundry and packing and bed. Another 4:45 am departure, but a much smoother trip home; everything was on time, it could not have been easier, and we were back in our own home by 1 PM. I took a solo trip to the rarely-visited supermarket for supplies, then made bagels for Shabbos, with Barak watching from the kitchen table.
"Imma, when are we going back to Ithaca? I want to go back there. Can we go back soon?"
Can't imagine why he'd want to do that. Can you?