Oh, and I'll throw in a cute little spring lamb, too!
It's always such a treat to be reunited with extended family members we don't get to see very often due to us living far apart from each other. When our four children were born, Jamie's family and mine lived in the same city, and we all shared many good times in those early years of the kids' lives. I love how the four cousins just pick up wherever they left off each time they're together again now; time and distance don't seem to have any effect on the special ties they made all those years ago and still have to each other. I love, too, how seeing my nephew and niece gives me a chance to replace the mental images of them I've lovingly stored in my mind since our last visit with new pictures, ones that reflect how much they've grown and changed. When I think of Ryan now, I'll see a more mature version of his sweet, freckled face and hear his smart and sensitive words in the conversations we had this week. I'll remember Megan's shy, cute grin, which has now lost all traces of babyhood, and I'll see the twinkle she had in her eye whenever she was around our pets. The only sad part about seeing these wonderful kids and their dad is that it made us all more keenly aware of how much we miss them when they're not here anymore.
The weather changed drastically this morning; gray skies and thunder and large drops of rain rolled in as Jamie and the kids, the boys and I were saying our goodbyes. It was as if Mother Nature was sensing our collective wistful mood. Once the cousins' vehicle disappeared from view, Noah retreated to his bed once again where he moped and read for the rest of the morning, and Will wandered the house for a long while, sadly repeating that he just didn't know what to do. Personally, I've been finding the house a little too quiet and rather empty with only three of us in it today. We are all so very glad, though, that we had the chance to spend a few truly delightful days with family. Our memory banks are now once again full with a beautiful collection of warm, sunny moments we will hold very close to us until we can all be together again.