WARNING:  This is a little mushy.

My cousin and his wife have a little girl. It’s been some time since we had a toddler in our family, not since my own niece was two or three, which was eight years ago.  Now, we have Charlotte (and a baby brother on the way!).  She is a 19 months old and I love to watch her play, discover and learn.  Her grandmother was reading her a book and Charlotte would intently stare at the pages pointing at the pop-out pictures with her tiny little finger.  The next minute, she would run around the house laughing and chasing the dog hoping to put stickers on the unsuspecting canine. She has a sweet little voice and utters several words – “book” being one that she repeated often. (It’s no wonder since her mother is a teacher and her grandmother is a media specialist!)  She is happy and bright and ready for the world! It was really delightful to see and spend time with her, which is something we need to do more often.

When I was younger, my family was always with my cousin’s family.  My dad and my cousin’s dad are brothers and we were together all the time. I think we saw each other at least once a month and when we moved closer to them in Pennsylvania, we saw each other several times a week.  I am the oldest of my cousins, but never thought of them as nuisances. I always loved playing with other kids and being with my family.  One of the greatest things we all did was vacation together.  We all love the beach and would venture down to Wildwood, NJ, Ocean City, MD and various North Carolina beaches (where we would get to see my other aunt and uncle, whom I love dearly).  We would spend our days pretty much the same way every year, no matter how old we were.  The kids would get up and get dressed immediately, the adults would also get up and put their bathing suits on and then we would go out for breakfast. We would all eat quickly so we could get to the beach.  While my dad and uncle went into  the ocean with all of the kids, my aunt and mom would sunbathe.  After a while, we would take a break to eat lunch and often go to the hotel pool in the afternoon.  But, other times we stayed at the beach.  As we all got older, I would read a book and relax while my dad, uncle, brother and both cousins would build an elaborate sand fort.  They would spend hours constructing it with a trench in the front to keep out “the enemy” which was of course, the tide.  After most people left for the day, we would sit on the beach at that magical time very late in the afternoon/early evening where the sun goes down and the temperatures dip just enough to have to put something on to cover your bathing suit.  We would watch and wait until the fort was overtaken by the enemy (who always won) and then go back to our rooms, shower, and hit the boardwalk. There, we would enjoy the smells, food, games and rides.  We would go to bed exhausted but exhilarated and get up the next morning to do it all again.  Family vacations are some of my most treasured memories and I hope that there will be new ones made in the coming years.

I have always loved being around my family. They are easy-going and fun and we genuinely LIKE each other as well as love each other.  We like to laugh, play, and eat. We enjoy swimming, the sun, the sand, the beach and of course, each other. We not only enjoy reminiscing about old times, but look forward to making new ones. My cousins and I have entered a new state in our lives. We are all adults and are making our own memories, getting together for dinner and drinks as we realize that birthdays and holidays are not enough to really keep in touch.  Thankfully, the new husbands and wives also get along and have become wonderful additions to our family.

As new generations of my family come into the world, there are new memories to be made.  And I know they will be made together – as a family.

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