tokyo cherry blossoms (3)Just returned from our long awaited, with more than a little trepidation, family trip to Washington to visit Gramma and Grampa. The trip was a stunning success from my point of view, and I think the kids had a really good experience.

Things started off a little rough when we weren’t able to rent our car at the airport since the credit card didn’t have the same name as the only one of us who had a valid driver’s license. My Maryland one expired years ago, and I didn’t bring my Israeli one because I had planned to renew my local license and figured not having a license would get me to do it. Wrong, I never did get around to renewing my driver’s license. Apparently I need to retake the written test since mine expired more than a year ago. Ugghhh, ok, next trip.

But we soon put that behind us, when my  mom took my dear husband (DH) to rent the car in her name the following morning. From there things only improved. First, the house was huge, with plenty of room for the kids to play and sleep in various beds and arrangements. There was also a huge back yard with a deck for the grown ups to sit on, and a perfect area for playing soccer. When my sister and her family arrived the following night, my kids had already explored their new digs and marked some territory.  It was a great idea to rent a house together since the kids could play together anytime, and we didn’t need to plan and drive for them to just fool around with each other.  Of course, two very different families living in close quarters will invariably find areas of difference. Apparently I have a unique neurosis when it comes to laundering my family’s underwear with towels that have been used on the floor. I don’t mix any fabrics used to clean house, especially the floor, with my clothes or even with towels I use on face or body. Anything that goes on the floor can get laundered together, but not with cloth that touches our body. So now I’ve learned this makes me a little OCD with a slightly weird laundry fetish. Sometimes you need family since no one else will tell you these things.

But the house was great, even if it wasn’t particularly clean, and had a serious ant issue. Still, it had a nice deck, and we had great weather, making it the perfect place for the grownups to hang out while the kids knocked themselves out in the back yard. Once both our families were in place, we had Grama and Grampa over to sit on the deck and watch the children frolick. We got lucky since the grandparents brought over a badminton set, with net and extra ball that can work for hand ball over the net too. Or soccer. The kids seemed to find soccer balls everywhere.

The kids got along fine despite the language barrier. Poor Matan was just beginning to feel that people understood him in Hebrew, and suddenly he’s speaking and no one can answer him coherently. But after the first day or two, they got past language and had a really good time together. Normal sibling rivalry over new friends, but overall it was a very positive experience. Grama and Grampa also came over to babysit once, and on another occasion they even ventured out to the park alone with my two.  Both Karen and Matan began to bond with their American grandparents really nicely.

Once the first week was over, the kids were sad to see their playmates go, and sad to leave the big house (kids didn’t seem to mind the ant infestation as much as we did). We moved to a smaller, cleaner basement apartment in Takoma Park. It was a nice area, and we took some long walks down Sligo Creek trails. We spent more time with Grama and Grampa, and K even slept over at their house one night. She really wanted to, and we saw no reason not to let her, since my mom seemed ok with it. She called us once at night telling us she was a little afraid. We offered to pick her up, but she decided to stay. In the morning, they took her out to IHOP for a syrupy breakfast of pancakes and goo. Mom reported to me that K became very hyperactive by noon when she hadn’t gotten her meds. Mom saw a marked difference in K with and K without meds, at least when it comes to the hyperactivity. Then again, it could also be the sugar.

We had a relaxing last few days, mostly spent as a family. I was especially pampered since DH would wake up with Matan, and the two would go driving to find the nearest Dunkin Donuts so I could satisfy my craving for Bavarian Cream donuts. It was nice to also spend downtime with my mom, where she wasn’t worrying about preparing a dinner, getting something planned or in motion. We were able to just visit and spend time with her and her husband, in a very relaxed, non neurotic way. The first week they spent time at our house, enjoying the deck in the nice DC spring weather, and during the second week we visited them. It was quite nice both for us and the kids, who clearly bonded with Grama and Grampa!