As New Year's Day marched on, so did the next day, and the next. The excitement of the holidays was a distant memory, and most people were back at work on on the second day of January.
Richard needed his car Friday morning, so I drove myself to his house on Thursday night, with my trusty overnight bag, and slept in the spare room. Everyone held their breath, but a repeat performance of my incapacitation was not, thankfully, on the cards. Although I heard Ollie cry a few times, I had a good night's sleep, despite having to share the bed with a seven foot stuffed bear!
Steph's first appointment was at 10am, and at 6:30, I sent her back to bed and while Richard made me a cup of coffee, I gave my grandson his early morning bottle of milk. Grandma was on duty, and we were going to have some fun! I was, at last, going to spend a day with the 'apple of my eye'. After seeing Steph off the premises, I set about doing some washing up, and then heard Ollie''s dulcet tones, which meant that he had woken from his morning nap, and was going to want some more milk. This was in the kitchen, ready to be made up. I looked at the bottle containing the water, and the receptacle holding the powder, then removed the lid on the latter, and tipped the formula into the former, with not much efficiency. It occurred to me afterwards, as I wiped up the residue, that the strangely shaped lid, which I had removed, was so shaped like a funnel, so that the formula could be carefully poured into the water. Live and learn!
Having laid the baby on a blanket on the floor, I set about responding to emails. It took me no time at all to change my plans, as I realised that I was missing out on some quality time. By the time Steph arrived home, Ollie and I were rolling over on the blanket, and making very strange noises. Her first reaction was, 'I have to take a picture of this to send to Rich!' The bonding session was a success and I was a very happy grandma! We were going to continue our day, going shopping!
Loading up the car, and driving to the mall did not take long. The traffic once inside the complex was horrendous, and the police were directing vehicles in a direction that most did not want to go, but had to comply, as their preferred exit was already at a standstill. We hoped that when we left, the traffic would be less congested, as our preferred route was the one where no cars were being allowed to go. Everyone wanted go where they were no longer permitted, due to major congestion, and the car in front of us sat stationary for some time, before realising that there would not be a break in the line heading in the opposite direction, so that she could drive into the car park, one that she would be unable to enter, due to the queue that was already blocking the cars that were attempting to exit. It was a vicous cirlce! Steph, void of patience, slammed her hand into the centre of her steering wheel, which caused a blast to erupt from her car, and shocked the driver in front, out of her stupor. She started to move forward but was obviously not familiar with the rest of the complex, as she drove forward just a couple of inches and stopped. The hand went to the centre of the wheel again, and on the second 'trumpet call', the lady moved a little quicker.
Having the 'baby on board', the opportunity to park in a special 'mother and toddler' section was a blessing. However, there were many people with toddlers visiting the mall, and we had to wait for one to return to their vehicle. Fortunately, this did not take too long, and we waited patiently while the buggy was emptied, disassembled, and packed away. Suddenly, the lady whom had been the cause of disruption appeared and was heading directly for the spot that we had been waiting for. I am not sure for whom I felt more compassion. Steph was rather emphatic in her tone, as she shouted at her old adversary, who did not have a child in her car, that the spot that was being vacated, was ours. We had been waiting. I looked at the family trying to exit the parking space, and wondered if they realised they were now the reason for a war between shoppers, and would at some point have to relinquish their most coveted alcove probably inciting a small riot. They, of course, could not move, as there were two cars blocking the said coveted alcove! I was just about to jump out of the car, and stand in the space that was being vacated, to ensure that we did, in fact, win the prize, when the third trumpet blast sounded, and the woman in the opposing vehicle, who probably was now ready to give up on the idea of shopping, appeared to concede defeat and drove around us. We then noticed that there was another family walking towards a car, and she was going to claim the soon to be free spot. Steph was still adamant that she should not be in the vicinity as she did not have a child, but chose to let it go, 'this time'. Steph later told Richard that his mother had seen a 'completely new side' to his wife!
The trip to the mall was confirmation, should there not have been enough, that the season of goodwill had gone for another eleven months, and been replaced with the season of 'exchanging'. The queues for 'returns' were much longer than those to 'purchase', and everyone had their heads down, looking at their shoes. I am going to make a judgment call here, and suggest that it was not because their spirits were no longer joyous, but because they did not wish relatives to see that the 'pandora' charm, so purposely picked out, did not depict any aspect of their life, and they did not wish it to hang from their wrist!
After a quick lunch, visiting a few stores, and buying some groceries, we left. The traffic was still very heavy, and our space became the location for another episode of 'road rage', but we did not stick around long enough to see which victor gained the spoils! We crawled along the exit lane, and hoped that the overpass leading to our preferred route would be clear. Ollie started to moan, then started to cry, then started to scream. He did not like being in his car seat, facing the opposite way to which we were driving, and certainly did not like being alone. I offered to get into the back and sit with him, and after a couple of minutes, Steph agreed that it would be a good idea. 'I thought you would use the doors', giggled Steph, as I undid my seat belt and launched myself into the back of the car, head first, with my feet in the air. It took me longer than expected to contort myself back into a sitting position next to the baby. I am not as limber as I once was, and the space in the car was not as large as it looked! However, whether the baby found it quite entertaining, or bemusing, was irrelevant, as it did he trick, and he became calm, and before long, fell asleep.
Richard arrived home later, to find all three of us on the floor, rolling over and making strange noises. What a happy family picture we were!
I took the car back to my mother's house on Friday evening. Saturday was going to be another reunion day. I was meeting up with Lesley and Sheri, my dear old friends, and we were going to have a late lunch in Radlett. We spent three and a half hours eating, chatting, and generally enjoying each other's company. I still find it hard to believe that Lesley and I met half a century ago, this year, and although we did not meet Sheri until we were in our teens, the conversation flowed as if we had only saw each other yesterday! This is true for when we meet with all our old school friends, and I feel truly blessed to still be 'in touch' with so many!
Sunday was another family day. Richard and Steph arrived a little after 11, and Elise came shortly before noon. Cousins Lesley, Charlotte and Natalie landed at around 12:30, and we enjoyed an afternoon of cooing and making the baby giggle, as well as reminiscing with a few old family favourite tales. After everyone left, mum and I cleared away the surface mess, and I drove Richard's car back to his house. I spent the first part of the evening skyping with Dana, as Richard was facetiming with his sister. It was a little concerning, as Richard had control of my phone, and threatening to access my 'apps'. Unfortunately, for him, I do not access social media on my phone, and there was little he could do, 'on my behalf', to shock my friends by updating any status on my 'facebook' page, or the like. He did change my 'screen', picture from the one Samantha had added when I first bought the phone, (of her and Dana screaming) to one of him and Ollie. That was acceptable. Janice came round a little later, and we enjoyed a 'grandma's evening', even though Ollie was in bed! Dinner was delicious, compliments going to my daughter-in-law for her scrumptious repast. We had a cup of coffee, and demolished a box of chocolates, before Richard drove me home shortly before 9pm.
Steph was not very well on Monday morning, and although this was rather unfortunate for her, it afforded me an extra day doting on my grandson. After cleaning the lounge and dining room, at the bungalow, and turning the cushions, in case a sliver of something should have flown from the dining room table into the general direction of the sofa, mum drove me to Bushey. Once again, I packed Steph back to bed where she slept for a few hours, When she awoke, she felt refreshed, and well enough to drive me back to Radlett, where I stayed for the duration of the evening. Richard stopped by after work, and I made him some dinner. We hugged, and I cried, as we said our farewells, and he ventured out into the night, to go home and be with his wife and child.
The taxi arrived on Tuesday morning and I loaded my cases into the back of the car. The trip to the airport was very quick, and I went to the new lounge in Terminal Two. I ate a very hearty breakfast, followed by a couple of sandwiches and some cheese. Knowing that I would have lunch on the plane, I rationed my intake accordingly. A young man, sitting to my left, watched as a rather attractive young girl walked past with a luscious looking pastry. He commented that it looked 'yummy' and he had not seen it on the 'counter'. She, rather flippantly, told him that they were in full view if he looked. My motherly instincts told me to let him know exactly where they could be found, but the cupid inside of me told me to 'hush', as he was no more interested in the dessert than she was in him. His advances were thwarted, and he sat looking glum, not even venturing to drown his sorrows in the cream tart that had been the initiation of the failed flirtation.
The flight home was ten hours. The cabin crew were all very caring and delightful, except, of course, the one to whom I had been assigned. Whilst everyone else was treated with dignity and respect, she obviously had a problem with the one who was most polite to her. 'You want what?' was the abrupt answer I received when I asked, most congenially, for 'a third of a glass of champagne topped up with cranberry apple'. No one has ever misunderstood that before! My dinner was almost thrown at me, and the cheese course was little more than rind. (Yes! I did write and complain! ) Due to the fact that I was a sardine, I chose not to make an issue of it whilst in the 'tin', but sat quietly and waited for her to take a break before requesting another cup of tea! I watched five movies to while away the ten hour flight. Immigration was a little challenging, as the officer looked questionably at my credentials. However, when I realised that I had given him an expired card, instead of the current, permanent, version, all was well, and he wished me a good day, safe journey, and although did not welcome me home, bade me a happy new year, as did the custom's official. I hauled my luggage onto the conveyor belt, to be sent to the next flight, received raucous laughter from two elderly ladies, as I announced, 'I am getting too old for this', (as my carry-on bag fell to the floor, causing me to have to jump out of the way,) and made my way to the next round of security. Eventually the flight to Austin was called, after I had partaken of my bi-annual snack of hot chocolate and a banana in the lounge at Houston, and I sat down in the front seat on the plane, welcoming another bi-annual tradition of a 'bailey's on the rocks'. After watching an episode of 'Genius Kids', where the mother of the winner assured everyone she was not a 'pushy mom', but insisted that her child could do better, and needed to study more, (he received 100% in everything, but hesitated over one question,) I exited the plane, being thankful that I was (at least in my eyes) normal!
Dana was at the top of the stairs to meet me, and we were home within an hour of my touching down on the runway. I fell into my comfortable bed, and slept through until morning. Dana left for work, and I drove myself, in my car, on the 'wrong' side of the road, as has now become second nature, to enjoy a cup of coffee with Joe, and then went to have my nails painted with very glittery polish! I was back!
The Legislator has resumed, and the new session is now in progress. January is steaming ahead, without a message of caution, and once again, time is marching on. My weekend has been hectic, and I am going to have to endure a full week of work (oh poor me!) but there is a 'bank holiday' on the horizon for next weekend. With Samantha and Edward moving into their new home, and clearing and cleaning on the non-appetising, inedible menu, I think my most relaxing time in the next seven days will be when I am about to write .......... another story!