Saturday, September 25

Counting My Blessings: Family

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about thankfulness and promised I would have a little more to say...particularly in regards to family, friends, neighbors and church. I'm starting here with my thoughts on family...

 The biggest portion of my gratefulness this year has to do with being closer to some of our nuclear family; for me, namely, my siblings and parents. This was none too evident two weekends ago as we all packed up (Scott, I and the girls, my sister, her husband and her two small boys, my two brothers (one with his wifey!), and my parents) and towed a whole lot of stuff to a campground about 45 minutes away. It was a first ever "family vacation" with extended family (spouses and grandchildren now included)...though I am a bit hesitant to call anything resembling camping with four children 3 and under a 'vacation' it was fun and a great time for family connectedness (you can see the kiddos in the picture above).

No worries, we stayed in cabins with toilets, full running water and electricity! Ava was pumped to sleep in her bunk bed (though I nixed letting her sleep on top for fear of a loud thump in the middle of the night). Nonetheless, my brothers both commented on how camping with small children was MUCH different than camping with adults and that while they were both enjoying playing with our adorable munchkins I could see relief on their faces that they didn't have to do this 24/7 at this stage of their lives!

It was a ton of fun to see my girls play so well with my sister's kids; especially our oldest kids, Ava and Noah-- they were quite funny. They chased and ran and wrestled and contemplated climbing trees together-- and Ella threw herself into the fray whenever possible. Our brothers did a great job in their role as uncles-- tossing kids, throwing footballs, chasing them around.

This was all possible because we live near all of them now. In the past, our trips to Buffalo were divided between seeing Scott's family and seeing mine-- making separate family vacations and get-togethers a challenge because one only has so much vacation time from work and time to commit to traveling.

It strikes me as funny that I was SO ready to move away from my family 10 years ago and then you have children and you somehow seem to gravitate back to them.

I think I actually VOWED that I would NEVER, EVER live in Buffalo again. But, once you have children the lure of a big city doesn't seem to matter as much. The idea of a more glamorous job became inconsequential, and my envy for people who lived near us in Massachusetts who had family near them seemed to grow with each day of motherhood.

I think it got to the point in which Scott and I were almost keeping tabs on how often the grandmother of the children who lived across the street from us came over to babysit....

"Scott, look, she's there AGAIN!"

(And now my poor mother is probably saying the same thing between babysitting for me and my sister..."Oh, boy, they're calling again!")

So, all in all, to the inquiring minds who want to know: Are we happy we made the decision to move closer to family, a.k.a. back to Buffalo? 

Yes. We are. Because sometimes relationships mean more than regions (like our love of New England).

I love that my sister can call me on a whim and say, "Hey, bring the girls over for lunch after preschool" and that her son Noah looks forward to it all morning and shrieks with delight when Ava walks in the door because he KNOWS Ava...he has a relationship with her and they LOVE to run around together (and drive each other crazy sometimes! It's part of being close!)

I love that the girls both say, "Yay, Grandmas" when we pull into my parents driveway without any prodding on my behalf.

I love that Ava jokes and calls my brother Aaron "Bubba" because there is a familiarity with him and she can joke around.

I love that my mom, sister and I have done an ongoing book/bible study together.

I'm grateful that my girls have gotten to go to my grandmothers house and play in her yard and have dinner with her on a more regular basis so that they will have memories of her as they grow up.

In addition to my family Scott's Dad, his Dad's wife, his 14-year old sister, his aunt and his grand-father all live close by. We actually went out to a very nice dinner with Scott's family last night to celebrate his grandfathers 88th birthday! How cool that the girls got to be a part of that--whether they remember it concretely or not I am convinced that all of these experiences become part of their foundation, their sense of who they are and what their place is in this world. I'm glad the girls have closer relationships with them as well...that they know them, their houses, and have shared dinners and celebrations with them.

Is all is possible when you live  more than 400 miles away? Sure, close relationships are totally possible from a distance--the girls ADORE the rest of Scott's family who live out of town-- his brother and brother's girlfriend, his sister and her husband, his Mom (who we do get to see quite a bit despite distance)-- we Skype with them, see them at holidays, are actually taking a trip to Ohio to see a bunch of his family next weekend.

I'm just glad we only have to travel to visit part of our family and not all of them...ya know? That it is not as it used to be where we would spend 4 days in Buffalo and be in a frenzy the entire time we were here-- trying to figure out who to see when and how to balance it all and trying to get the girls to take naps, etc. By living close much of our time is spent in more relaxing ways, it is more quality time, it's more engaged.

So there it is! If you live away from your family and were ever wondering about moving closer those are my thoughts for now...sure, it also comes with it's own set of complications (don't all families no matter how the cards are dealt?!), but it's good...and we're happy...and it works for us for now.

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