With much excitement and some apprehension, I headed to Savannah, Georgia, a couple of weeks ago to stay with Walker and Lauren while Brent and Katie enjoyed a much needed vacation.
I was excited to see my two oldest grandchildren, but at the same time I was a little nervous. I would have them by myself for four days and three nights, and it had been more than 25 years since my own children were that age.
Here's a quick look at how we passed the time as well as some of the things I learned, or relearned.
Lesson #1 – Something is bound to go wrong. Shortly after Brent and Katie left on Friday morning, I discovered that the toilet was not flushing properly. Since they have only one bathroom, it was mandatory that we get that problem fixed immediately, or we were going to all be using Lauren’s little potty, and I would be digging a hole in the backyard to bury the waste.
Fortunately, I had spotted the plunger the night before in anticipation of trouble. So I got busy and soon had it working every other flush. We limped along like this for about 24 hours before things got back to normal.
Lesson #2 – Sometimes more than one thing goes wrong. On Saturday while the kids were napping, I gathered up all the dirty clothes and decided to wash a load. The kids were going through several outfits a day playing in their new sand and water toy (more about that later), and with the unseasonably warm weather, they were running out of things to wear.
The washing went just fine, but now I had a huge load of wet clothes and a dryer that was making a funny whining noise and just sitting there blowing hot air without tumbling. Next door neighbor to the rescue. Odette was kind enough to let me bring my wet clothes to her house, and even though I contacted the property manager about the broken dryer, I was pretty sure it wouldn't be fixed before my babysitting duties were over.
Lesson #3 – Sand and water do mix. For Christmas LBeau and I had given the kids an outdoor sand and water table. The crab side holds sand and the fish side holds water, and it came with all sorts of boats and buckets and shovels and scoops.
Since it had been sitting in my basement waiting for my trip to Savannah, this was the first chance the kids had had to enjoy their new toy. The weather cooperated beautifully with temperatures in the 70's and 80's, and on Thursday afternoon we had it all set up.
The picture on Amazon.com showed one child playing with the boats on the fish side, while another child made starfish with special molds on the sand side. Well things don't happen just like that in real life. The starfish molds quickly became scoops to transfer the sand to the water, and we ended up with something that looked like this.
The important thing, however, was that the kids had a blast.
Lesson #4 – Outings with the kids can be a lot of fun but require even more planning. On Saturday I made plans to take the kids to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. I would need to take the double stroller, which was in the storage shed, but I wanted to make a dry run to be sure that I knew how to fold it up and how to open it properly. With my luck, I would get there and wouldn't be able to figure out the stroller. Turned out to be pretty simple.
Next I had to pack provisions—diapers and wet wipes for Lauren, sippy cups with water for both kids, and plenty of snacks (granola bars for Walker and Goldfish for Lauren). I found a tote bag for all of that stuff, got the kids strapped into their car seats, and off we went. Halfway there, I realized that I had forgotten hats and sunscreen. So much to remember. I did later discover the sunscreen in my purse, and the Wildlife Center turned out to be quite shady for the most part, so all was well.
Although the bobcat was in hiding, we enjoyed watching the new baby bull, the fox, the deer, the hawks and eagles, the bison and the tortoises. Walker thought the rooster was a little loud.
The trip home, however, turned out to be the biggest challenge. We had barely gotten started when Walker announced that he had to use the potty, even though I had given him an opportunity before we loaded up. Before we even got off the Wildlife Center property, I pulled into a side road, got him out of the car, and there he went on the side of the road. Little boys are so easy!
Back on the road, I looked back to see two little heads nodding and eyes closing. I was determined to keep them awake. We were not going to miss naptime, because I needed a break!! So we started singing every verse we could think of to "The Wheels on the Bus." We even made up verses—"The daddies on the bus say, 'Go Hogs, go…'"
Lesson #5 – Cheerios should be a food group by themselves. Walker and Lauren are not particularly picky eaters. We had lots of eggies, peanut butter (sun butter for Lauren) and jelly or honey, strawberries, blueberries, Craisins, cheese quesadillas, carrots, pizza, hot dogs with dip-dip (catsup) and even edamame, but Cheerios were a favorite. Lauren could eat three bowls for breakfast and still have room for scrambled eggs and toast.
I even found myself enjoying a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast and sometimes lunch. They were quite good, particularly when I added a scoop of Katie's homemade granola.
Lesson #6 – It's probably not a good idea to let your 22-month-old granddaughter play Balloonimals on your iPhone. If you're not familiar with Balloonimals, it works something like this. You get a long skinny balloon, and the idea is to blow on the bottom end of the phone to blow up the balloon. You then shake the phone until the balloon turns into an animal which does all sorts of tricks when you pet it. Then you can burst the balloon animal using a special pump.
Lauren was fine with the shaking and the petting, but she wanted to cover the whole end of the phone with her mouth to inflate the balloon. So after a couple of times playing with this app, I started getting weird messages popping up on my phone—"Charging is not supported on this device." The thing was, I wasn't even trying the charge the phone. I decided the real problem was probably baby spit, so Lauren had to confine her iPhone time to Talking Tom. Sure enough, after a few days the weird messages went away.
I could go on and on with lessons learned—an almost four-year-old is a great interpreter for an almost one-year-old, it's great to have a park within walking distance of your house, Crayola No Mess markers are a wonderful invention, and grandparents still have the right to spoil their grandchildren. I'm sure, in fact, that we watched way more Thomas the Tank Engine, Veggie Tales and Leap Frog videos than Brent and Katie allow.
Perhaps the greatest lesson learned was a new-found appreciation for my own mother and mother-in-law, who kept my own children on numerous occasions when LBeau and I would be out of town. My hat's off to the two Memas. I know my boys must have worn you out, but I also know it was a good tired.