The past couple of months have been one of the best summers of my kids' short lives. My sister Julie has been visiting from Texas with her 5 kids since the beginning of July. We have packed in lots of cousin and sister time while they were here. Of course to kick it off we spent that week in NH together, but once we got back we saw a lot of each other: they spent the night several nights, we went swimming, the oldest three and my dad joined us for free movies a couple of times at the movie theatre, we went to the huge castle playground together, we went over to my parents' house for short visits, the kids and E went to Sunday School together, Amanda celebrated her 9th birthday with a party at our house, they joined us for playgroup one Tuesday, we had a girl cousin picture session at the mall, the guys even had a babysitting night where Rob, Rusty, and Ed watched the children while Julie, Katherine and I went to a cousin's bridal shower. And Julie and I spent countless hours reminiscing about the past, talking parenting talk, discussing current family issues, and just laughing and having fun together.
Last night we had a final big family dinner at my parents' house before saying goodbye. It was a tearful farewell for Julie and me as we hugged each other and the kids goodbye. Many times the past few weeks we have talked about "next time" they visit the kids will most likely be three years older, since that is usually how long it takes for them to save up enough to fly everyone here. I guess it really hit both of us as I handed K over to Julie for one last hug, and she and I both realized this would be the last time Julie hugged baby K-- next time she would be a big three year old. We both kind of looked at each other and welled up as we hugged and Julie said," This is a testament to God's redeeming work in lives, because I wish we could live near you." I agreed, as our relationship hasn't always been close, and commented," So you don't want to karate chop me anymore?", a reference to our first meeting when she threatened to karate chop me if I did anything to bother her little sisters (Katherine and Sandy). I kept trying to convinced her that they need to move up here to PA, but I don't think that will happen. So maybe our family will have to plan a trip down to TX to visit sometime in the next couple of years. E said it best on the way home when she said, "I wish it were the Fourth of July again".
Watching the Parade:
After a swim in NH:
Swimming at Aunt Linda's
K and Aunt Julie:
Our Family (minus Andrew, Erin and the Laiyus):