family ~ wait, i’m a cousin?!

i have a passel of posts planned for the next week or so, to share about our trip to central new york to visit my family. i took many, many photos with my new camera, and mine were not the only fingers clicking that shutter. the week flew by so quickly that a little reliving via blog is definitely in order. and of course the obvious place to start is with the reason for the pilgrimage: family.

185 sandbox2

191 sandbox3

266 bob books to g and g

reading to grammy and grampy

this was my first time meeting my younger nephew (we’ll call him mario; not his real name), who is two and three-quarters. my older nephew, luigi (also a pseudonym), was five months old the last time i saw him, and is now one month shy of five years. both mario and luigi had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of cousinquinn, and they were thick as thieves as soon as they got in range of one another. grammy and grampy’s house is well equipped for kids, with sandbox and playhouse, giant bin of legos and lots of toys, cabinet full of board games and puzzles, and of course boundless love for their grandsons. there was instant harmony among the boys, and all the adults had a lot of fun observing the dynamics of their individual personalities interweaving. after one of the only scuffles over a toy, i reminded the boys that they are cousins, and that cousins are more important than toys. luigi looked up at me, after months of referring to quinn as cousinquinn, and remarked, “wait, i’m a cousin?”

413 bc house18

277 walking

368 battleship

amusingly, i was more often than not “cousinquinn’s mom,” while cousinquinn was sometimes alternately called “aunt mary beth’s son.” they knew who rich was ahead of time as well, though in a pinch, they had no qualms about asking me for a reminder: “i need this guy. who’s this guy again? i need him to open the big lego box.”

562 french horn

557 bob books grammy

these boys are three of the most articulate little gentlemen you could find. it was just so neat to hear their choice of words. in mario’s case, his not-yet-three voice and sayings slayed me with cuteness every time. it is very interesting to get to know small people being raised by my very own brother, and notice such similarities in our offspring. i am so grateful to my sister-in-law for making sure there was time each and every day for the cousins to spend together.

Picture 608 over the rise

Picture 613 jump

Picture 622 walk

Picture 624 uncle t

luigi seemed to regard me as an extension of his parental pool of adults right away, while little mario was more reserved for the first day or so, and kept his distance, eyeing the crazy lady with the camera a little warily, though this probation period did not apply to cousinquinn, who mario instantly adored. by the last night we were there, however, he was crawling underneath my legs ever so slowly, purposely eliciting tickles, and when i asked him after dinner if he was ready to sit with grammy for a story, he said, “no, i’m ready to flush the poop upstairs.”

“oh, do you need a diaper change?” i asked. “should i ask mommy or daddy to help you with that?” (i presented mommy or daddy as an either/or choice, assuming he’d be most comfortable with one of them.)

he replied, already on all fours halfway up the stairs to his preferred bathroom, “you can do it, mawy beth!”

thus was i accepted into mario’s inner circle of approved adults.

Picture 687 tired hikers2
Picture 697 cousins

Picture 711 walking home

it was so neat to see my brother and sister-in-law employing a gentle parenting approach, and watch how their boys seem so self-aware, vibrant, engaging, emotionally intelligent, and confident in their parents’ love. one day when i had a dear friend visiting, mario again seemed a bit reserved and did not want to be spoken to directly by the new people, and turned to his mom saying, “i just got shy mommy.” his method of self-soothing is about the cutest a toddler has ever invented, and he calls for a “bop” whenever he feels nervous or tired. he defines a bop as one of his mom’s shirts- any of her already-worn shirts that carries her scent. most of the time, holding a non-specific bop up to his nose is plenty comforting for mario. on occasion, a more heightened sense of stress may lead mario to insist on a purple bop. late in the evening the last night we were there, perhaps due to a week of overstimulation, overtiredness, and family gatherings every night, i heard him exclaim, “i need three purple bops!”

Picture 1210 kid plants

Picture 1233 q ready for second ride

mountain coaster; good for neuron organization

Picture 1214 nap

a week of solid grandkids takes its toll; sunday nap

although the week was bursting at the seams full of activity and we ended up a little short on sleep due to red-eye flights and time zone adjustments, i felt like i got a lot of good down time to relax. i think this has to do with the fact that quinn so thoroughly absorbed himself into the family that i barely heard from him. at home, he would never go 30 seconds awake without coming to wake me right up, but with grammy already up and about, he forgot to even think about waking me. he sat in the same seat at the table each meal, in spite of the fact that i was across the table from him, and the aunts or uncles near him revolved depending on who was over that night. he seemed to sense that they were all tripping over themselves to shower him with love, and he reveled in it. he also seemed to thoroughly enjoy the house i grew up in, again sensing it as an abundantly safe and happy place. his first night there, he slept 14 straight hours in my brothers’ old room, peaceful as can be. especially for a guy who is sensitive to changes in routine.

Picture 1265 music

Picture 1523 grampy chess

meanwhile, i had time to practice my photography and gardening skills. i took walks whenever i felt like it, and strolled outside to weed around the blueberry plants without needing to notify quinn whatsoever. (this is something i cannot do at home!) i had time to weed my mom’s vegetable beds (made from repurposed stock tanks), put her new bleeding heart in the ground, and dig around here and there whenever the spirit moved me.

Picture 997 mb and dad

my dad and me inspecting his alfalfa- family resemblance? photo credit: rich

of course most of the time i wanted to be there in the midst of the family, soaking in all that mutual affection. rich was rapidly absorbed as well; each of my family members took a moment to let me know how much they like him, and he told me he felt comfortable with my family. the way the children seemed to find all of us adults rather interchangeable was the most potent evidence to me that it’s a comfortable family to be a part of.

513 mb and rich3

510 mb and rich4

529 mb and rich1

photo credit: my sister in law

i know my little family will look forward to our next visit to our new york family!

Picture 1452 my fam

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8 comments to family ~ wait, i’m a cousin?!

  • Princess Daisy

    Thank you for capturing parts of your trip so beautifully! It was fun to read, and revisit memories (from last week, hehe), and see pics of Luigi and Mario with CousinQuinn 🙂 along with the rest of the fam. I look forward to the next installment! Of this blog, and of the next visit!

  • tim

    lol, i can only assume by family resemblance you meant belt buckle resemblance. barf at the three nuggets walking ahead next to each other. and the pile monster. and literally every other picture also.

  • lb

    So lovely to see Ma and Pa looking so well 🙂 I still have the card they sent me after Katrina. Glad ya’ll had a such a good time- hope Pa got the guitar out to sing “the old lady who swallowed the fly” 😉

    • ~mb~

      i am not sure he sang that one, but he did do the very unfortunate man, which lauren requested prior to the trip (uh, yeah, even though she wasn\’t there for it. lol) mom groaned and begged him not to, but of course he did anyway.

  • […] you have already seen more than enough photos from new york (if not, start here), i am posting one or two here that were specifically learning-oriented. and maybe a few others i […]

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