Country Cousins

One of our must-do's this summer was to steal Ammon and Tenley, our niece and nephew, for a visit.  They made the trip from rural VA to see their city cousins all by themselves (and with all their emergency money in tact).  Their arrival coincided perfectly with Eric's return from a conference in Chicago, so it was an extra joyful reunion.

We have had So. Much. Fun.  First of all, apparently, having a nine-year-old girl is not at all the same thing as having a nine-year-old boy (love you Briggie!).  They do crazy things, like willingly feed the baby her oatmeal, push the stroller and fill sippy cups with milk.  Amazing.

Since Ammon and Tenley's parents are former Durhamites, we took in a Durham Bulls game with some fellow Blue Devils and neighborhood friends.  Unfortunately the Bulls got crushed by the Gwinnett Braves, but we hardly noticed with all the fun we were having (and all the emergency money we were blowing on souveniers for friends back home).

We've been to the pool (these kids can really swim- I need to get mine some lessons!), the planetarium (yeah, I fell asleep), the velodrome, and have plans to squeeze in a few more adventures before they leave us on Thursday.  And there may have also been brief incidence of dumpster diving- for which I blame my sister-in-law, who has quite the history of dumpster-diving during her Duke days.

We'll miss them terribly (I even found myself canceling a long-awaited shopping trip with a friend because it falls on their last night here), but we're so happy to have discovered that cousin-swapping trips are not only possible, but a win all-around.  Since I love my own cousin like a sister, and grew up spending lots of time with her even though we never lived close, it's a big deal to me that my kids get the chance to do the same.

Also, I just really love being called "Aunt Katie"- it has a nice ring to it:).


Eleanor, one

I was a mother of five days when a lady approached me in the grocery store to fawn over my tiny, probably underdressed baby boy.  Oooooh!  He's just precious, she said.  I'll bet you can't even remember what life was like without him!

The thing was, I was 21 years old and in total shock.  I didn't understand what had happened to my life, my body or my still-new marriage.  Oh yes I can, I thought.  I remember it VERY well!

The fourth baby is different.  Sometimes ignored, neglected and just plain unnoticed, I often try to convince myself that all of that is made up for by the fact that the nervousness and inexperience of early parenthood will never touch her.

Eleanor is Eleanor, and by now I understand that I'm not so much a sculptor of human life, but a cultivator.  That little seed of a baby will grow into the woman she's meant to be- all she needs is a little encouragement, love and protection from me.

This much has become clear over the past few months.  That easy-going little baby is turning into a determined, stubborn, adventurous girl.  Just the other day she was crawling around on the floor at church, and when I tried to block her from the bathroom door by standing in front of her, she simply lowered her head and barreled into my legs.

She's walking now, less like a zombie each day.  She rotates her chubby little wrist back and forth in a cute wave when saying hello and goodbye.  She loves tomatoes and broccoli, but hates carrots.  She loves the ocean and all things water-related, including plunging her arms into the toilet every chance she gets.  She feeds her baby doll and pats the dog.

I can't imagine my life without her.



The neighborhood gang has raked in a fortune selling lemonade on the corner these past few months.  It's always a huge production wherein some kids are assigned to sign-making, some to scrounging supplies from the various mothers and some to making the actual lemonade.

Marley is a key contributor, drawing in potential customers with a smile and a bounce of her curls.  Once they told me she had brought a killing by standing at the corner shouting "WEMONADE!"

Then later, Brigham confessed she knew how to pronounce the word correctly, but he'd suggested the lisp for effect.