Warning - Rob is writing this and is getting nostalgic about family. Reading on means you are okay with Lovefest '10 and pages of writing. You've been warned.
For the past two weeks my sister Penny has been in town with her two boys, William and Neil. This past weekend her husband Stephen joined the group, bringing the Houston family total to 13 1/3 people, counting little fetus Annyong. We had the opportunity to get together as a big family three times, once a week ago for barbecue and swimming here, and twice this weekend for swimming and pork tacos up north and Star Pizza in town. It all went too quick.
Penny is one of my best friends. I'm very lucky to have two siblings who I genuinely love being around, who always included me despite our big age gap. Those years separating us very quickly disappear whenever we're around each other as we tend to regress, except when I'm officiating a marriage or something. Penny is the first person I told when I decided to propose to Noelle, she's been an adviser (or teller) for so many decisions in my life, and even leaving a message on her cell phone is a high point of the day for me. Having her live in California sucks quite a bit.
Her boys are growing up so fast and establishing their identities without me there to give little nudges or noogies, and that also sucks. Jackson enjoyed spending time with them so much that he screamed when they left our house. Jackson loves his cousins, whether they're ten and Godzilla freaks, twenty and Korean soap opera fans, three and OCD about organizing Thomas trains and toys, or almost two and capable of communicating joy and anger through a series of shrieks and head-buckings. As I've said before, I have always wanted more opportunities to know my own cousins (hi Kirsty and Bridget in Scotland!) so seeing the five cousins all together made us very happy. It made Jackson happy too, except in this picture.
Let's try a young cousin shot where Jackson looks happy enough hanging out with Neil and William. He's actually being held by me in this picture, so find another Exhibit A, CPS.
I'm lucky also to have four amazing new siblings in the past few years who I love having as my new brothers or new sister. Noelle's brother Stephen is going to end up the star of this blog with all he does for Jackson and us and her brother Joseph has always helped make me feel like part of the family even if I am awful at actually shipping his gifts up to Chicago. Melissa, my brother's wife, is one of the best people I've ever met, fun and sweet and silly and sensible, but I love her most for how happy she and my brother are all the time. (Also, in the pool, she is okay with being elbowed and trying to dunk me. We're savages in the swimming pool and she's one of us.) And then there's the other Stephen, Penny's husband, who not only makes my sister so happy but also makes a hell of an uncle and dad. I loved getting to commiserate with him over Star Pizza about the things that have changed since fatherhood struck us but also getting to share in the actual pure joy that is being a new dad.
I love our family as individuals and as a group and feel so blessed to have had the past few weeks to remind myself how much they mean to me. We look forward to more times together.