*I have a kagillion-googleplex pictures from the visit. I only included a few here, but here's a link to the Shutterfly album to view more:
In early March, my brother Adam and his family came for a visit! Because a 16+ hour car ride separates us - they live in St. Louis - we do not get to see each other as much as we would like. This was our first chance to meet their son, Julian, born this past June, and their chance to meet Leo, who missed meeting them two years ago by about a week and a half!
The "stair step cousins" are Aidan, 4; Hugo, 3; Leo, 2; and Julian, 8 months. (See how nicely our September baby will fit into this pattern?!) The boys had an absolutely wonderful time together, and it was so much fun to be able to see my children with my brother's children. We have a very small family, and although Adam (7 years my senior) has memories of time spent with our cousins, I do not. My uncle and his wife had separated by the time I came along, and I only vaguely know my cousins. Jeff, on the other hand, has a huge family with tons of cousins his own age. When we visited California last summer, I was so happy to see Jeff with his cousins and to know that my own children had the potential for such happiness, too....
Most of our time was spent at Grandma and Grandpa's house, who seemed positively delighted to have all four grandsons under the same roof. Highlights of our time with them included...
*Tractor rides! Grandpa cleared several paths through their windy 2+ acre lot and gave each trail a name like "Lake Loop," "Lower Woods Trail," and "Hawk's Point Extension." He bought a pull-behind for the tractor - ostensibly for hauling extra dirt and sticks or whatnot, but we know the truth - the padded carpet he throws in for comfort gives away his secret. The boys, sans Julian, usually sat in the back wagon all together, but sometimes one would join Grandpa to help him drive. Once, when no one was looking, I even jumped in the wagon for a ride! After being banged and bumped around, I marveled at how the kids could possibly enjoy this so much. Oh, but anything that is with Grandpa is the penultimate fun time, and what's a bruise or two?
*Dinner at Mellow Mushroom. This is something of a tradition, I guess, dating back to when Adam and Linsey visited when Aidan was a mere two months old. At that visit, Adam fed Aidan a bottle, and I later found out that Aidan was the newest baby either of them had ever held. Two-ish years later, we returned, now with Hugo, and again on this visit with Leo and Julian! The food was great, the beer, even better (from what I hear, at least) and the time we spent as a whole family was so much fun.
*Hiking at our nearby Rivanna trail. Our original plan was to head to Shenandoah, but bouts of stomach bugs and injured backs, plus pretty tired kids led us to revise our plan and stick a little closer to home. We were so, so lucky with the weather that week, and our hiking day was no exception. All of the kids are terrific hikers and clearly love to be outside exploring. Linsey helped us find arugula to eat, which Aidan thought was SO cool, and Adam and Jeff took turns impressing us with their rock skipping abilities. We had a delicious picnic lunch after the hike; it's amazing how much better food tastes when eaten outside and with those you love.
*We shared many great meals together, and I enjoyed hosting a dinner at our house. The kids all wore their "Covey of Cousins" t-shirts that they had decorated earlier in the week, and we even managed to get a picture or two without someone crying in it! Good food, good family, good fun.