Monday, July 28, 2008

Greetings From Alaska

So I’ve been neglecting the blog lately because we have been on the road (so to speak, since we abandoned our car in St. Louis) for the last week. We drove from Ohio to Illinois where we stayed for one night, and then over to St. Louis where we stayed for two nights. Then we flew from St. Louis to Dallas and from Dallas to Anchorage.

All of the traveling went beautifully. Really, two years ago I couldn’t have imagined that we could drive for hours and hours and fly for hours and hours and our kids would really just behave perfectly. They ate snacks and read books and drew pictures. They watched a part of a movie on my laptop, but stopped when the headphones weren’t working properly. When we told them to nap they closed their eyes and napped.

In central Illinois we stayed with Craig’s aunt and uncle and we visited Craig’s paternal grandmother. In St. Louis we stayed with Craig’s cousins, visited his maternal grandparents, and hung out with his sister. Here in Alaska, we have been busy visiting with the usual—Craig’s parents, my parents, all of my grandparents, various cousins and aunts and uncles, my brothers and sisters. And for the first time since my brother Joe’s wedding five years ago, we have gotten to spend time with my brother Joe, his wife, and his three step-daughters, all up from Utah.

Henry has been overwhelmed at times. “No more grandmas!” he sobbed when he woke up at his great-grandparents’ house in St. Louis. And when my parents, who picked us up from the airport, dropped us off at Craig’s parents’ house where we are currently staying, Henry moaned, “THIS grandma is worse than THAT one!”

But both of them, now that they have adjusted to the time difference and have caught up on their sleep, are acting like this is the thing they have been waiting for all of their lives. In the past, Luke has tried to create some extended family for himself. He recently began calling my good friend Nancy’s daughters, Emily and Hazel, his cousins. He played with them nearly every day from birth to age three, after all, and we meet up with them at least a few times a year.

But finally Luke and Henry have real cousins. All girls, ages 10, 13 and 16. It is a match made in heaven. They play and paint faces and dance and practice kung-fu and put on magic shows. The girls beg to take care of the boys and the boys adore the attention. Craig and I have gone out for walks, gone out to lunch, hung out for whole afternoons in the same house as our children without seeing them.

I think I understand people having large families now. I could have six or seven kids, I think, if I had extended family around to help. To fill in some of the blanks. To keep me company and to enjoy my kids while I bear witness—preferably with my feet up and a drink in my hand.


Jenny said...

Very poignant post for me, Ser, as I'm just beginning to contemplate the implications of staying here for awhile. I love Henry's comments about "No more grandmas!"

Anyway, I miss you and tried to call, forgetting you were away. Hopefully we can chat when you get back. Please let Mara know that we would LOVE to have her and are moving September 1. I liked her a lot when I met her--she felt totally familiar, to me, almost like family. Of course that makes sense, since you all are "my people."

Nancy said...

You've described perfectly why I love Brian's Missouri family so much (except for the drinks, alas!), and why it is such a thrill when I have events with my "new" cousins.

And I'm very glad for both my girls' sake and your boys that when you come back home, we can arrange another visit with the friend-cousins. It's actually an apt term, because they're related through their mothers. Thanks! :)

Molly Sabourin said...

What an awesome trip and beautiful family photo!

so yung wilson said...

This is my 3rd day trying to comment on the blog. The first two comments were full of wit. To sum up what I wrote ... Henry makes me laugh, glad the boys are getting so much attention with the added benefit of some respite (ouch, is that the right word ... but it is, isn't it?) from full-on parenting. Say hello to everyone for me too.