Easter with Family, and Helping the New Mom

On the second day of April, I rose at six, pounded out ten miles on the bike, drove to the airport, and flew to Washington Dulles. I was excited on many levels, mostly to see our new granddaughter Carson Olivia, born March 15. Linda flew to Reston a week earlier, to help out. It was Good Friday, and I spent some time on the flight thinking about faith and service; for the last 20 years, I have firmly believed that Jesus’ main lessons to us are not that many, and not that hard. On that day, it was about selflessness, the Son of God saying “well, the charges against me are bogus, but I will give myself up, all of me.” Serving others is a duty all of us should embrace; along the way, we learn the joy of it, too.

I was surrounded by new life – a 10-month across the aisle, a 14-month-old in the next row (and her mom pregnant), two little ones in the row behind. All those youngsters heightened the anticipation of seeing our two.

We landed at 1:30, in no time Robin zoomed up, and we were at their house in 10 minutes.

Cherry blossoms in front of Robin's and Brett's house


It was nap time, but soon the new life came to life, Dylan up from her nap, three-week-old Carson squalling for milk. Dylan had last seen me at Christmas, and was initially shy. That lasted less than 20 minutes, and in no time we were out in the fresh spring air, walking along one of the many wooded walking/biking paths that make Reston such a nice place to live. I was walking, but Dee-Dee was riding a tricycle with a long handle that I pushed. We soon came to Stella, a border collie holding a soft “dog Frisbee” in its mouth. Stella’s owner gave me the go-ahead, and I tossed the disc many times, delighting Dylan (and me). We moved east, admiring a small creek, chirping frogs, and lots of squirrels, visible then not – prompting Dylan to ask “Where’d he go?”

Robin and Brett needed a night out, so Linda and I pitched in with feeding, bath for Dylan, story time.

Linda (Nana) and Carson

They were home by 8:45, and we peeled off, but not before I heard the best words for a long time: Robin asked Dylan if she could say good night, and she replied “Good night, Pots” (I am Pops, but that’s close enough, plus I kinda like being like a sturdy and well-worn cast-iron pan). Linda and I checked into the Hyatt Reston, less than two miles from their house, had a noisy Italian dinner (the restaurant fire alarm could not be disarmed), and clocked out. Saturday was more of the same, walks (this time to the playground, big fun on swings and slides).

Uncle Jack and Carson

Jack arrived, fresh from a visit with a buddy in the area. High point of the afternoon was drawing with sidewalk chalk in front of their house, Dylan urging more chicks, bunnies, and flowers with a simple plea: “Pots, draw?” What a cutie-pie.

Easter Sunday morning, Linda and I got up at 5:30 and drove into Washington for 8:00 service at the National Cathedral, a wonderful experience. We drove back to Reston, met the family, enjoyed a swell brunch, and Jack and I flew home at the end of the day.

Entry doors, Washington National Cathedral

A week later, on Sunday the 11th, I was back with Robin, Brett, and the two girls; it was my week to help out. I approached the time with some trepidation, and by two on Monday afternoon my concerns were validated: this was hard work. I called Linda and repeated one of my firm beliefs: if men had to do the childbearing and the child-rearing, the species might disappear! Monday was a stay-at-home day, except for a morning trip to a “kid gym.” Tuesday was busier: drove Dylan to pre-school, and Robin took her to an afternoon play group. Both days, I spent a lot of time with Carson the newbie, feeding, changing, holding (she does not like to be alone). Was asleep by 10:10 the first three nights.

Dylan climbing at the kid gym

By Wednesday morning, I was getting into the groove, the routine. Dylan and I spent a couple of hours at the Udvar-Hazy Center, part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, basically an enormous hangar south of Dulles Airport (and less than ten miles from home).

Dylan and one of my favorite jets, the Boeing Dash 80 (1954)

Dee-dee had been there a few months earlier, and she was excited to be back. “Airplanes!” she exclaimed, again and again. And of course the Transport Geek enjoyed being around all those flying machines, civil and military – the SR-71 that flew from L.A. to Dulles in just over an hour, whoa; the Enola Gay that visited enormous hurt on Japan but spared lots of American soldiers and sailors; the Concorde, the Space Shuttle, and more. My fave, though, was the Dash 80, built 1954, Boeing’s very first airliner. It made me smile. I took a picture of Dylan, tiny, standing in front of it. And I thought two things: how much great good has flowed from that invention; and how lucky I have been to have been part of the business that brought all that good.

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After afternoon naps, the three girls and I piled into Robin’s car and motored to the mall, to the L.L. Bean store, to make a couple of returns, and an early dinner. A great day.

The next day went fast. Every Thursday morning, a nice Chilean lady, Miss Erika, takes care of Dylan and Hudson, another toddler, in the morning, so moms get some time off. That day, Robin, Carson, and I went to Starbucks for a break, then to Carsy’s one-month check up with Dr. Ruth Hunt. Good numbers, including two pounds of weight gain. Dr. Hunt’s sure hands and eyes reminded me of my appreciation for docs. Dylan and I spent a long time at a small playground a four-minute walk from their house, back to the routine from earlier in the week: first the swings (after putting her in a kid chair swing, she would point to the adjacent bigger swing, and say “Pots, try?”), then the slide, carrying two handfuls of pine cones to the top and sending them down before we descended, again and again; then back to the swings, “Pots, try?” The afternoon ended with a long walk along wooded trails. On the way back, we tossed the dog Frisbee to Stella, like we did a fortnight earlier. And at seven, the fifth bath of the week, a pretty wild time, with splashing and bath toys, small balls flying around the tub, and your correspondent banging out rhythm with plastic cups on the tub wall, Dylan squealing and bouncing to the beat. “Pots, again?” “Pots, one more time?”

Friday morning, I was a little sad. I had gotten pretty good at all those tasks, getting Dylan’s juice and breakfast together, making coffee, changing diapers. I hugged everyone, Brett drove me back to Dulles, and I flew home.

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