I grew up with the security of unconditional love from extended family members. I want my children to get that same kind of love – the kind that only grandparents can give, the absolutely selfless and unconditional kind, the kind that has the license to spoil grandkids (within reason)…and to have uncles, aunties, and cousins around with whom they can hang out, learn about life, living, and relationships.
My kids have had the most amazing few days with having their grandparents who visited us for Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving this time. We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last month. As a multicultural and multiracial family, we celebrate a lot of different occasions. The months between October and December are especially busy.
Aaron took the entire week off and so we got to do a lot of things together as a family this Thanksgiving week. Most importantly, the kids got really good quality time with their grandparents as well as their dad.
Over the weekend, thanks to the rains, TJ got to go looking for muddy puddles with Grandma and Grandpa. He had a blast jumping into little watery puddles and on one of the relatively dry walks back home, he even got to pick pine cones with Grandma. What joy to be able to have these fun experiences with one’s grandparents!
On Monday, Aaron and I snagged a date night. We went to see Dr. Strange and with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the title role, I knew that I would love the movie even before I had seen it and I wasn’t disappointed.
On Tuesday, TJ had school. Because I always have Baby E attached to me, either on my hips or to my front in a baby carrier, and have to rush home to get her to nap after dropping him off to school, I never get a chance to stick around with TJ like some of the other parents do. I also never get to spend time with him at StoryTime during which parents are invited to hang out with their kids.
This day, I left Baby E at home under the loving care of her dad and grandparents and not only dropped TJ to school, walking up the sidewalk, hand-in-hand with my little boy, I also got to stick around for storytime. My chest puffed with pride when he was able to answer all of the teacher’s questions pertaining to the book being read (Brown Bear) like identifying the right colors. It was fun to spend those few minutes with TJ and he loved it too. I could tell that he enjoyed having me there. It was a different experience for him, one that he clearly appreciated even though he couldn’t really articulate that sentiment.
After returning home and putting Baby E to nap, Aaron and I ran errands. After last night’s date night, we actually liked the normality of running errands together. Life with two kids has really separated our chores’ list and we often divide and conquer the nitty-grittys of everyday household functioning. I do the majority of the running around like groceries and such and whatever else needs to be done is filled in by Aaron as needed. This was the first time, in over a year and a half, if not longer, that we were going to a grocery store, a post office, filling gas, buying a light bulb to replace a broken one, and donating stuff to Goodwill, together. Nothing special or sexy about running errands and yet, we actually liked it immensely. Just being able to behave like how we did before we had kids, to relive mundane activities from our past pre-kids life, was fun, relaxing, and yes, enjoyable, thanks to grandparents’ babysitting.
On Wednesday, we went on a short hike nearby. We went on the same but a longer hike last year this time with a pregnant me and the grandparents. Since E’s birth, the four of us have gone on this hike a couple more times with E cosily asleep in a baby carrier on me. This time, she was awake and alert the whole time. Still in her baby carrier, Ergobaby, she was keenly interested in everything and watched wide-eyed, the bounty of nature surrounding us all.
It was cool when we first got there. There were predictions of rain as well but we dared the hike anyway. Within a few minutes of us having parked our cars to begin our hike, the clouds parted ways, revealing the magnificence of the sun.
After our hike, we headed to a very popular dim sum restaurant in Milpitas to meet friends of my in-laws and oh what a great meal we had! This was the first time we were out with both kids together. I did take the kids out once, all by myself, and successfully ate at a restaurant, Cheesecake Factory, but this was the first time, we had both kids on high chairs, eating their individual meals. TJ ate what we all ate, while E ate some of her food I had brought from home and some of the dim sum we were all eating. Except for TJ refusing to use the public restroom and getting scared of the loud flushes and hand dryers, we had a great meal. We were even able to return home and make the kids’ nap times only a little off schedule.
In the evening, encouraged by the grandparents, we even squeezed in a quick dessert date night – at the Cheesecake Factory. I had my usual favorite, Kahlua Coffee and Aaron his, Oreo Dream. Yum and Yum.
Thursday being Thanksgiving, most of the cooking was to be done in the late afternoon so we had time in the morning to do as we pleased. We decided to spend the morning picnicking by our local community center’s sprawling lawns, playground, and pond and had a really fun day. Some of the best and most memorable days are unplanned, casual outings with family, just hanging out, without the urgency of time, or fear of looming work stressors.
Baby E got to experience a swing for the first time while TJ got to explore his usual playground differently with grandpa and grandma. Thanks to the grandparents spending time with TJ, Aaron got to be there with me and Baby E at her swinging experience which he would have otherwise missed, having to run around TJ.
Both kids did really well on the picnic blanket. Baby E’s very first picnic was when she was just a little over a month old when we picnicked by a different pond. She was such an itty-bitty little baby then. Fast forward 6-7 months and here we are, Baby E sitting comfortably by herself, trying to feed herself and grabbing at everything around her, rolling on her tummy and rolling back, just having a fun day with her family.
Later this evening, we enjoyed a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by grandma. A fun thing that happened was when TJ asked to have some wine. At first we said no (obviously!) and joked that had we been French, he’d probably have already tasted his first wine by now. We figured we could give him some water in a wine glass. Then, I had an idea. I gestured to Aaron to pour him some POM (Pomegranate Juice), diluted of course, and have him try that, instead.
Really thinking he was having wine, which he really had no idea what that even was – it was just something he had heard us mention and which piqued his interest enough to have him want to taste some – he had a funny expression on his face after his first sip. Very adorable. The sour-sweet taste of pomegranate juice tickled his taste buds in the right places.
Finally, on Friday, we did another hike, this time, at Alum Rock Park, and one of its picturesque trails. Both sides of the trail were lush with different varieties of greens, including ferns and moss. The stream of water from the brook on one side added to the tranquility of the walk.
Along with Grandma and Grandpa, Baby E in her stroller, and TJ, Aaron, and I on foot, we walked a little over a mile. TJ did amazing, walking pretty much the entire hike all alone, running, jumping, exploring, and just basically, enjoying the loving company of all his favorite people.
It’s amazing how time flies when you are making memories and having fun. We had a wonderful week and just seeing our kids with their grandparents makes us want to move closer to family and we might just do that.