We have this game we play at dinner called “Best & Worst,” where everyone at the table shares the best and worst events of their day. Today, hardly anyone had a worst to share. Maggie’s worst was scraping her knee when she fell off her scooter, and my worst was forgetting to take towels to the pool. None of the other six people at the table could think of a bad thing that had happened to them all day. Good stuff!
We are in the midst of our fourth annual “Cousin Week.” Our family is sadly spread out: we live in Anchorage, my brother’s crew lives in Missouri, and my folks and younger sister are still in Nebraska. To compensate for the distance, we make a point of getting the kids together for a gigantic week-long sleepover at their grandparents’ house every summer. Cousin Week!!
The kids love the tree in Nola's front yard!
Honestly, this week is a highlight of my year. My brother’s girls are an absolute delight, and it gives me such joy to see the instant bond the kids have with each other. Every year it takes about five minutes for them to reconnect. They are family, and they know it.
I have many friends who regularly travel to exotic locations. It sometimes makes me feel a bit unworldly, hearing about their adventures. Part of me (a large part!) envies them, but I have yet to choose those trips over this week I get each year with my nieces. Back to Nebraska. Back to country roads and corn. But, most importantly, back to family.
It takes about six hours to drive from my parents’ house to my brother’s, so we often meet halfway in Kansas City for a quick kid swap. This year I decided to drive all the way to Jeff City to kidnap his girls. It gave me a weekend with his family down there, which is rare since he works crazy hours at a car dealership and seldom has enough time off to come back to Nebraska these days.
The time in Jeff City was perfect. We headed to a pool, grilled burgers and brats, sat around a fire pit, drank too many beers, told childhood stories, mentored our wayward younger sister, played board games, and fed some ducks. No amusement parks this year – just some low key family time.
Maggie lost a tooth down there, while Sam earned the nickname “Fang.” (His front tooth is still dangling, and he actually answers to “Fang” now.)
Maggie is down a tooth, but Sam still has the Fang...
So back to today’s very-good-no-worst-day. It started with a pancake breakfast and unpacking. From there the kids climbed a tree, ate lunch at Runza, bought supplies for tomorrow’s lemonade stand, and headed to the Splash Station Water Park. Madi was finally tall enough to do the big slides, and she proudly conquered the Blue Slide everyone says is so terrifying. About five times!
Sam might be scared of pulling his teeth, but he did do the lily pad things for the first time. He was proud of his successful traverse, but did admit that he is not yet ready for American Ninja Warrior:
Maggie did them too, but my favorite pool picture of her past few days was actually down in Jefferson City. She now jumps off a diving board all by herself!
After the pool fun, my parents cooked one of their amazing meals. Dad grilled the chicken, Mom chopped the salad, and Grandma Quigley joined us for the evening. That would be great-Grandma Quigley to all these kiddos:
The kids played tether ball, shot hoops, and started on a scavenger hunt my mom has spent hours putting together. After dinner it was time to assemble the swimming pool. Dad was supposed to pick up a “kiddie pool” from Menard’s today, but he went a little overboard:
The hose has been running for hours and there are only a few inches of water in the bottom of the pool. We will leave it on all night and see what happens. Stay tuned!
I told Dad I was jealous. “Think how much fun we could have had with this growing up!” I declared.
“Well, you were just my kids,” he responded. “This is for my grandkids.” Well okay then!
The night ended with showers, milkshakes, and Maggie falling asleep during Chapter 1 of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (this year’s Cousin Week Read Aloud).
So yep, a pretty perfect day. And the week has only just begun!