Thursday, November 29, 2012

family love

When we touched down in Cleveland, after spending five days in Northern California for Thanksgiving, we anticipated snow on the ground.  Anticipation led to disappointment.

Cold, but no snow.

I suppose it was an appropriate transition, since we had just left blue sky 65-degree weather.  It was the kind of cool-warm we last felt in Spring.  Chris and I don't mind freezing, but the sun was welcomed just the same.  It allowed for long walks around the neighborhood and afternoons in the park, wearing only a light sweater and jeans. And any chance we get to see Chris's mom makes my heart happy. She is a dear woman, who makes the best chocolate chip cookies (a large batch was waiting for us at both houses we stayed in) and pie and soup and sweet potatoes and lasagna and flan (etc., etc.), all from scratch.  Thanks, Mom!

We started our vacation in Roseville (just outside of Sacramento) with a handmade watercolor "Welcome" sign made by Chris's sister's family.  This is not the sister I visited in Chicago, this is the other sister, the oldest of the two.  She and her husband have four children: two older (ages 18 & 20) and two younger (6 & 8).  The older two visited us here in Ohio last year and are still two of my favorite people to hang out with.

Elanor spent a few months this year teaching at an elementary school in Africa, and Nathaniel has traded his Akron plans for opening his own parkour gym in Sacramento.  If you don't know what parkour is, do a Google search or a search on YouTube.  It is amazing what the human body can do!  Nathaniel has fallen in love with the sport and is now teaching youth at Free Flow Academy.

You can watch him here (he's wearing the black shirt with red sleeves) and here.  The second video is one I took on my phone at the park.  Nathaniel ("Coach Nate") was there to practice with a few of his students, so we went to watch.  Before the students arrived, he and his sister, Elanor, showed us their moves.

Brother-Sister Parkour Team - totally going viral.

The second morning began with a cup of coffee and the younger two wanting to play board games with me.  First it was checkers, then it was the game of LIFE.  I haven't played LIFE in years, but they were quick (and eager) to remind me of the rules. About an hour in, I was an artist living in a log cabin, married to a guy named Larry.  I may or may not have had twins.  It's hard to remember with how excitable the kiddos were during the game.  If I could bottle up that energy, I'd be a millionaire.  As it was, I was only bringing in $30k per year.

I'm feeling good about my future.

On Thursday, the eight of us piled in to a minivan and drove the two hours to Burlingame (just outside of San Francisco) where Flora shares a house with Chris's brother and his family.  The main event wasn't the turkey, it was the baby.  Jonathan and his wife, Lauren (Ren), gave birth four days prior to their daughter, Olive Abigail.  She is the third girl in a pool of ten grandchildren.  Yet another birth I wasn't present for (she also decided to arrive earlier than expected), but I forgave her when I laid eyes on her for the first time.  Beauty!

Over the last two days we were in town, with a 4:30am departure Saturday morning, we made the most of our time together in conversation, games, pillow fights, movies (go see the new Lincoln film!), eating, laughing, telling stories, and the obligatory In-N-Out run.  It was fun calling my Seattle family on Thanksgiving Day, and bringing them in to our festivities.  Everyone was so good to us last week, generous and kind.  Mom, Harold, Cynthia, Elanor, Nathaniel, Daizy, Kevin, Jonathan, Ren, all of the little ones, and the relatives in Chicago and Argentina that we saw via Skype = blessings!   

I hope your holiday was filled with sweet sweet joy, and that you're as fat and happy as we are. 

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