Meet Grace, Niece #4

Now I could just stop right here and let y'all coo and gaze longingly at that sweet face, because really?  Is she not just the sweetest thing.  Let me answer that for you, yes, yes she is.  I was smitten at our first meeting.  Of course I must clarify that I have said that about every one of our nieces and of course our one and only nephew too. 

I was privileged enough to fly out to the West coast and meet this bundle of joy and spend some much needed time with her big sister and brother.  Her Mommy needed to finish her last week of school and me?  Well I was able to be fun Auntie and love on these three for a few days.  We visited parks and  played in the back yard and had interesting dinner table discussions. 

Emme, who is now three years old, asked me to read her stories every night.  My heart melted.  We would sit and snuggle and read.  Oh no, that's not what happened.  This girl is imaginative and energetic and fills her house with intellect and bursting joy.  So we didn't quite snuggle, I read and she listened while talking to her toys and doing somersaults on my bed and occasionally coming in close for a squeeze or a moment of stillness.  She is amazing.  On my last day I decided her and I needed a donut date.  There is just something about California donuts that don't compare to any others.  Yes, there may be a slight donut obsession.  I'm blaming that one on my Daddy.  Anyhow, we walked to the donut shop.  Actually I walked with a monkey of a girl on my back.  Giggling and observing and having deep discussions about how you must have chocolate milk with your donuts.  I obliged of course.  Fun Auntie.  That's me.  We ate our donuts and drank our milk and then in the most matter of fact tone Ms.Emme said, "Auntie, can we just sit here and talk?".  Ugh, how old are you?  We did.  We sat and chatted and laughed and in that moment I realized just how special it is that this girl calls me "Auntie". 

Then there is Mr. Colin.  Huggable, content Colin.  A boy who is learning to explore and feeding himself, he follows his sister everywhere and is learning the world around him.  You can almost see the questions being answered in his expressions.  Colin was a bit underweather and so I took him to the pediatrician along with Gracie.  Interesting.  It had been a while since I had an infant carrier and car seat in a vehicle I was driving.  I relished the time together with him.  Reading books, writing on the chalk board and being the recipient of some Colin love. 

Have I mentioned sweet Gracie?  She is just as precious as she looks.  On our last day together we sat and stared and cooed and solved the world's problems, her and I.  She may not remember our first meeting but it will forever be engrained on my heart. 

*when she is sleeping she does this with her hands, had to capture it

Maggie and I decided that the farmers market would be a fun outing for all of us.  So one afternoon we visited downtown Anaheim and walked the streets.  There was fresh fruit and veg, flowers and tasty sweets.  We stopped and sampled and took  home some of the sweetest strawberries that I have had in a very long time.  Remember what I said about the CA donuts?  Well strawberries are right there with them.  Emme chose flowers for Daddy too.  We played on the rocks and danced and imagined. 

To summarize, the days spent with the Strand family were special, joyous, busy and filled with memorable moments.  I was also forced to recall some of our younger years with four kiddos under the age of five.  The flood gates opened and I was inundated with snap shots of the  Things during the toddler years, visiting stores with them, hoping there were no tantrums.  Praying I could check off our grocery before nap time and then just staring lovingly at them while they rested and wondering what on earth I ever did to be blessed with the four of them.  Good times.  I absolutely love these five Strands and am so grateful I was able to live some life with them. 

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