Thursday, March 4, 2010

In praise of cousins

Who would have thought that my sister and I would end up with three boys apiece, after we both faced serious infertility issues?

The friendship and love our boys share warms my heart. They have such a wonderful time together and rarely fight.

Garrett went through all of his cars and trains and chose several for each of our a little plastic bag. Even the 13-year-old got a bag of carefully chosen vehicles. Nick was delighted to discover that his contained a few Thomas trains. So sweet!

Nicholas holds claim to his cousins by informing Kieran that they are "his" cousins and no one else's.

Daniel was thinking about trying out for a play at his school, and as he was deliberating about it, he told his parents, "I'm going to call Kieran to ask his advice." Of course, Kieran told him to go for it!

Perhaps it's partly being boys, but none of my kids have true "best friends." Chris and Kieran have lots of kids they call their friends, but no particular favorites seem to come out. At age 3, Nicholas is still into parallel play, even with a little boy in his school with whom he had a playdate last week--he calls Asher his friend, but they don't really play together much.

But it's completely different with their cousins. The boys truly adore each other. When they hear the cousins (and of course aunt and uncle!) are coming, even middle schooler Christopher is excited. It's clear to me that they are each other's best friends.

When my kids are happy, I'm happy. And when they feel loved and cherished by other people, it truly makes my heart sing.

Kieran showing off his new bike riding skills--Mike took his training wheels off a few weeks ago, and he caught on to bike riding on the first try!

Cousins on the swings--with Uncle Mike doing "underdogs"!

Ryan--second oldest of the boys and the most polite child I know!

Daniel--master at the monkey bars!

The generous (and athletic) Garrett

The showman Kieran

Not only are cousins special, but aunts are pretty amazing too!

Another thing that has made my heart sing in recent weeks is getting reconnected with my beloved cousin Tim. We hadn't seen Tim and his family for six years until last month because of a falling-out with our extended family. We met for drinks in Sellwood in February, and chatted nonstop for a couple of hours, catching up. Driving home that evening, I realized that a hole in me had been filled that night. I felt so content and peaceful to be reconnected to him. He's always been one of my favorite cousins, and I realized how much I missed him and how at ease I've always felt with him.

On Saturday night Tim, his extremely talented and creative wife Ginger, and their nearly-15-year-old daughter Victoria (who we hadn't seen since she was 8!) had us over for dinner. When I say us, I mean all 12 of us--our family, Nadine's family, and Mom and Dad. It was so wonderful to see them all again--and brave to take us all on at once!

When we walked in the door after Tim had reintroduced himself to our kids (he'd never met Nicholas), he ushered them into his house and told them with an evil smile: "Welcome to Casa Timmy! Break things!" Talk about putting them at ease. The next day Nick told me that he wanted to go back to my cousin's house!

This is a tea towel hanging in Tim and Ginger's kitchen--Ginger explained that our younger cousins, Anne and Elena, had decorated it for a wedding present for them. The funny thing is that it was a dirty or stained tea towel before it was decorated! Now it is framed and hung in a place of honor.

Ginger has always been extremely creative, but I don't think I've ever been in another house at which the decor appealed to me this much. She has the same eclectic, ethnic decorating taste that I do. I want her to start doing a blog and documenting some of her creative ideas. She loves to revitalize old items with spray paint! It was so great to catch up with her and get reacquainted with Victoria, too, who has turned out to be a sweet, blue-haired young woman! We were impressed that she and her boyfriend hung out with the rest of us much of the evening. That's saying quite a lot for a 14-year-old.

Ginger, Tim, and Victoria in their kitchen

So it was a wonderful cousin weekend! Looking forward to many more fun memories in the making with amazing cousins.

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