Planes, Trains and Automobiles to Arizona for Thanksgiving

Just stirring from their naps, in my parents’ extra room somewhere in the desert of Arizona, my two kids are greeted by their four cousins for the first time in their little lives.  All four kids (ages 2, 4, 7 and 9) wander in as my two pop heads out of their pack n’ plays and wonder WHAT IN THE WORLD?  My boy starts flailing and laughing uncontrollably as we all look on and break the smile and “AW”-o-meters.  My girl is always a bit more hesitant and harder to win over, but when it happens, it’s so worth it.  It happened fast. As if they’d known each other their whole lives and were just waiting to meet again.  My heart exploded 853 times.  On the first day.

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Cousins.  Seems like such a simple thing.  Seems like everybody has them and knows the connection.  Yet, I never really did.  Not in a traditional sense anyway.  So the fact that my kids have 4 cousins, my brother’s kids, is astounding and SO COOL.  But until last week they hadn’t even met. Only on Facetime and that’s not quite the same now is it.  The three babies met for a couple hours last year when my sister-in-law came to Chicago with their youngest, but the rest of them, not ever.  My parents live in Arizona and my brother and his 4 kids live in California, so we all convened at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving.  And for all 6 cousins to meet and party for the first time.

It was incredible.

The flights were not incredible.

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But I’m not going to go into that now. Let’s just say my wonderful saint of a husband and I are making up, “WE TOOK OUR 2-YEAR-OLD TWINS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND BACK ON AIRPLANES AND ALL WE GOT WERE THESE LOUSY T-SHIRTS” t-shirts as battle scars.  That, and the actual scars we received from this trip.  You won’t see pictures of the epic tantrum because I locked myself in the airplane bathroom until it was over (NO I DIDN’T but I wanted to). I’m compartmentalizing hard on the flight thing, so I just remember the great parts of this trip.  I’m super proud of us that we did it, and grateful for the opportunity.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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My parents were just in awe the entire time.

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Mostly because their house was being destroyed.  But more so because they had their two kids with the spouses that they adore and all 6 – SIX – grandkids at their house at the same time.

What is a cousin anyway?  A cousin is a friend and a playmate.  A cousin is somebody who has shared family and experiences.  A cousin is somebody who will get all the inside jokes that only family will ever get.  They might even look a little bit like you for some weird reason.  Or not at all.  A cousin is somebody you will keep in touch with and hopefully have a lifelong bond with no matter what.  Not always, but hopefully that’s the case.  A cousin will teach you things.  Like how to blow bubbles and how to play soccer. They will teach you about sitting still for a photo and walking in a straight line without screwing around too much.  They will teach you that one day when you are a bit older, ALL YOUR TEETH FALL OUT one by one and you get new bigger ones in their place. A cousin will teach you that you might need to wear glasses one day and that’s cool.  Or not.  A cousin will tickle you and show you how to climb the great big playground equipment that you can only dream of right now.  They will think you are pretty hilarious when you act silly and so they will encourage you to do it again and again even through your parents may want you to stop.  But it is pretty funny and so we all laugh anyway.  The big kid cousins help take care of you and watch over you so you are protected and well cared for.  The little kid cousins are happy you are around to play with.

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I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that we did it.  We did a photoshoot while there and in between the kid wrangling and STAY OUT OF THE DIRT and DON’T EAT THAT we got some incredible pictures that we will have forever and I’ll always remember this last week.

My dad worked for months on making this compilation video of all the kids and all the adults, each with their own section and songs that are special to each person and couple and it was AWESOME.  We all watched it Thanksgiving night and we will have it forever.  He did a great job on that labor of love.

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My husband may divorce me from the hell that was the airport/airplane part but the rest, well, the rest was simply magical.  Family time can be treacherous.  And we had a few stressful moments last week, but the good, man, the good will always remain.  I am so grateful for this family we have. For these kids. These 6 beautiful, healthy, happy kids.

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I am so thankful I got to spend time with my nieces and nephews that I hadn’t seen in way too long.  This is the post I wrote about my oldest nephew a couple years ago.  THAT KID.  And his brothers and sisters. They are just awesome.  AND THEIR PARENTS.  My brother and sister-in-law are some of my favorite people.  Amidst the chaos and laughter there were moments of just, CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS that took my breath away.

We have such a small family and now all of a sudden are these SIX GRANDCHILDREN for my parents.  Nobody is more astounded than they are.  Not for one second do we take this for granted.  This is the dream. This group of people that I call family.  This is the group I lost for a while. But they stuck with me and loved me through it all and here we all are today.

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This is the stuff.  This is the magic.  All the months of planning and preparation and worry about traveling with kids is done now and we’ve done it.  We’ve got the memories and the close to 1000 pictures to tell the tale.  We have cousins.  We have Aunts and Uncles.  We got to play with Sophie, my parents Boston Terrier, (Sophie – “DIDI”) all week and the kids were so enamoured.

WAIT UP GRAMMY AND DIDI!

My parents didn’t travel to us, which they do every 2 months since these babies were born, but we traveled to them.  It meant the world to them, and my mom said, “Don’t get us anything for Christmas because this is our gift.” OK.  Done.  WINK.  I can barely talk about all this without getting a lump in my throat.  My parents are the same way.  Like, when we would stop and hug during the week, we couldn’t do it for too long or the waterworks would start.  I wish I could show you the picture of my parents with all 6 grandkids crowded around them. But you know, anonymity of kiddos.  It is THE BEST.

As grand as it all was, man were we glad to get home.  What did we do that first night as we collapsed on the couch after the kids fell asleep?  We watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles OF COURSE.

THEN on Sunday, our other favorite Aunt Kelly (my husband’s sister) came over and helped us do Christmas lights.  She’s been in Paris for two months living her dream and we are happy to have her back.

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SO MUCH GRATITUDE all around.

And THAT’S what I did on my Thanksgiving break.  Now.  If only I could get a vacation.  I’m joyously exhausted.

 

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