Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Built In Best Friends

When I was growing up, I never spent much time with my cousins, and so didn't know any of them very well.  I always thought it was because they were so much older than I was and they lived so far away.  I have suspected for many years and am now finding through my own kids, that age and distance don't matter that much, and I missed out on some built in best friends.  My kids only see their cousins once a year.  My brother and his family live overseas and my husband's brother lives in Miami. We only get to see these people in the summer, and usually only for 1 or 2 weeks.  We do our best to make the most of the time that have together.

My brother has three kids: Jake is 13, Jessica is almost 11, and Nathan is 5; much older than my kids.  As it turns out, the difference in age doesn't seem to affect them much.  Abby, who just turned 7, and Nathan are very close.  But, Abby also spent many hours fishing with Jessica.  Eli, my 4 year old, absolutely adores Jake, who happily basks in the hero-worship.  Though there is 9 years between them, they already have a bond that will span the years.  Jonah is still so young that he just trails along behind them all, but I'm betting that as the years go by, he too will develop lifelong bonds with his much older cousins.  My husband's brother has a daughter, Samantha, who is 8.  Of course, she and Abby are like sisters, but she also dotes on the little boys.  All 4 of them have already formed precious memories together.

A few years ago, my sister-in-law made some very cute snacks.  She made muffins in ice-cream cones.  My daughter thought they were the coolest thing ever and still remembers them to this day.  We decided to welcome her cousins, Jake, Jessica and Nathan, last week with a batch of these fun treats.  I was seriously lacking in time, so I broke one of my cardinal rules.  We used a box mix for the muffins.  ::::::GASP::::::  Please don't judge me.  I had Abby read the directions on the box and tried to allow her to take the lead in the project.  I could tell that it is time to get back on track with her reading.  Apparently the sun and altitude have taken their toll on her as well!  She did make her way through the three step directions, but it was painful.  Thankfully, she has retained her ability to comprehend and was able to tell me what tools and ingredients we needed.

All three of them shared in the beating of the eggs.  We used a big bowl, so Jonah was able to use his somewhat violent and clumsy technique without sloshing egg all over the place.  Eli no longer swirls the bowl around as he mixes which keeps my heart beat closer to normal, and Abby has been trying very hard to master the art of making those small up and down circles we all use to quickly beat eggs.  Abby stirred in the mix while the boys set the cones in the muffin cups.  I'm still not ready to let any of the kids pour batter, so I filled the cones and then very carefully transported them to the oven.  Amazingly, all three of them gathered around the oven window and watched as the muffins slowly rose.  Thirty minutes later we had 12 perfect muffin "ice-cream" cones.

My kids devoured all of our special welcome treats before their cousins even arrived.  We had thought to make more, but once everyone was here, all thoughts of baking were dismissed in favor of getting reacquainted and playing the games they made up together last summer.  As usual, we crammed a year's worth of fun into one week, and before we were ready, it was time for them to go.  Though our hearts ache in their absence, we are also anxiously anticipating the upcoming visit with Samantha and her dad.  I feel truly blessed that our kids have these times with their cousins.  Even though the time is short and their ages range from 13 to 2, they still have their built in best friends.

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