Here I am, at the end of a visit to Chicago, for my mother's birthday celebration with family. I saw siblings and extended family. We like an excuse for a party. I have been able to see my nephews, ages 5 and 2. They're so great. They're such good boys, with big smiles and hugs. We continued the family tradition where one (or both) of them is sick when I arrive, and then I get sick as a result. Ta da! (As the youngest would say, arms raised over his head in celebration of the milestone.) Just like with my Dad's big birthday bash in San Diego a little over a year ago ... I was sick, courtesy of toddler germs. Ah, well. The only option was to have no hugs. And that was not an option.
My mom has reunited with cousins and so we had the chance to meet new people too, in the midst of it all. It is amazing how connections do not cease even when time has passed. The cousins laughed looking over old photos, and the "baby" cousin said to my mom, "No wonder I thought you were so tall" (as we looked at a photo of him as a kid, about waist high to my mother, in her teens). I had a chance to see my uncle from North Carolina and his family as well, including a cousin of my own. It has been since 2008 that I'd had a chance to see them all, so this was good to see them now.
As always, I take home with me such good stories of sweet nephews...
Each morning the older one would make his way to my room in the early a.m., to see if I was awake yet. This woke me up. He was a master at convincing me that I wanted to get up with him while the rest of the house slept. This too is a family tradition of sorts over the last few years (once he had a big-boy bed and was able to get up on his own). I love this ten-to-twenty-minute detour - just the two of us - before the day begins. I asked him this morning if he had had any dreams in the night. He said he didn't remember them. Then he said something about science. I asked him what he meant. He said something about science, and kids dreaming - it was something he had read, or seen on TV. I was still confused. He couldn't remember the details. I like talking to him about his dreams. Sometimes the best information comes from dreams...
And the little one is just charming these days. He has a grand smile and a big hand clap. He gets more and more words as the days go by. He loves to emphasize in the affirmative. "Yesh," he will say when he agrees with you about something, or when you've accurately guessed the word he is trying to say, or the thing he wants you to get for him. And he holds no fear, that one. The boys were having a balloon fight - he didn't flinch. The cousins had just arrived, and he drove his new dinosaur toy across the lap of one of them (presumably so she would know that she was welcomed in his home).
Last night, the boys played hide-and-seek with an uncle (technically a close friend of the family, but a diehard uncle all the same). He raced and hid, and they did the same. They squealed and laughed as he played the game with them. The little one spent almost no time hiding - he prefers the hunt. It was nice to see the uninhibited joy on their faces - especially now that I no longer have the flu.
Oh, and Gonzaga got a number one ranking for March Madness. Did you see?