One of our summer traditions

The past three summers, the girls and I have loaded up and taken a few days to visit the cousins on John’s side of the family. It’s fun for all of us, as I love my sisters-in law as if I’ve known them my whole life and I consider them friends as well as sisters. It goes without saying that the kids love the play non-stop for a few days. Since Waco is an hour and a half from our house and halfway or a bit less than that to the metroplex area cousins, it’s a great driving break for us to stop at the Mayborn, which is our favorite nearby children’s museum. This year, we added lunch at the American Girl Store to the plans. I admit that I’m more into the whole American Girl doll thing than either of the girls. Caroline has a historical doll, and Elizabeth has a Bitty Twin and will get a historical doll for her fifth birthday. They each got to pick an outfit — a roller skating ensemble for Caroline’s doll and a swimming outfit for Elizabeth’s — at the store, and we had lunch (party of eight plus two babes in high chairs. It was crazy.) The whole week was crazy, and it always is. We spent the first night with the Boatners, swimming and playing. Day two, we met the Foleys at the AG store and then headed to their new house in Bonham and the Bindels met us there. Then we had a huge sleepover with not much sleep and lots of play and lots of love (and some fighting and crying, if I’m honest.) On the third day, the girls and I said goodbye to cousins and headed to Hillsboro for a night at the Hamptom, swimming, and cable TV. Then we spent a few hours at the Mayborn on the way home. We went to the special exhibit, Goosebumps, and I’m so glad I added that to our tickets. It was pretty cool! The girls and I all faced the fear of falling and had our facial reactions recorded. The clip here is of the video playback of our slow-mo falls. (I will do my best to stop licking my lips after seeing that in slow motion. <shudder>)

Bindels falling backwards, arms strapped by our sides



Family Portraits

Happy Birthday to me (about three and half months belated)! I asked for and received a family session with my dear friend and neighbor, Katie Starr Photography, for my birthday. Finally, dusk and schedules aligned so that we could have our session this week. I love them! Katie is talented. My husband and children are beautiful. And Photoshop (and a trained and talented user of such powerful software) is AMAZING! I wanted our photos are in front of our home. It’s a part of our family, too.






One of our summer highlights has been visits with the cousins. This past weekend, when we made our semi-annual trek to Wichita Falls, my sister-in-law Carlye told me how great it is that we bother to visit like we do (considering John’s less than idea family situation growing up). I told her that it is for the kids–I want them to have time with their cousins, and the kids had nothing to do with bad decisions adults made when he was a kid. Carlye didn’t really get it. She just has one cousin and didn’t really grow up with her (or him…not even sure which.)

But for me, my cousins were such a part of my childhood. I cherish those memories of swimming, playing in the yard, sleepovers, putting on shows, going to the lake or hunting or Turkey Creek, singing loudly in the backseat of the car. We all lived within minutes of each other, though. I want my girls to enjoy their cousins, too, even if it involves a five hour drive a couple of times a year.

Me, I had sixteen cousins on my mom’s side. These were the ones in town that I really grew up with. My dad’s side is a little more complicated (my dad and my husband share the bond of screwed up childhoods). On his side, I have eight cousins, but we really only knew of three of them at the time. (Two of my dad’s younger siblings were put up for adoption at birth and found him later.) I have fun memories of visits with them, too, every couple of years–vivid memories of three-day car trips to California!

My girls have two (girl) cousins on my side. And on one of John’s sides (two families due to adoption), they have six (girl) cousins. And on the other side, they have ten cousins (and one on the way.) Again, we don’t see one of these cousins (again, due to adoption) or another six, since they live out of state. So on that side, of the three we see: two girls, one boy.

Basically, GIRL COUSINS ROCK! Caroline has three same-age cousins (all five to six months younger than she is). Elizabeth has one same-age cousin and two more within a year. These girls have fun together!