Following the family theme, let's discuss cousins. I have lots of 'em. I have a combined total of 16 first cousins. I love them all and actually like them all, too. Although many of them live far away (um, like CHINA far away), I still consider us close. My mother's sister, Becky has four children and her brother, Mike has four children and we all grew up in Alabama. I have the most memories with these eight....summers in Selma, Alabama jumping in heaping piles of cotton seed and Vacation Bible School parades through the small town of Benton. Games of Sharks and Minnows in the pool and nighttime games of Blind Man's Bluff. Hopping hay bales and riding horses until the sun finally fell around eight p.m. Then the holidays and family beach trips with all of my mom's side--her four brothers and sisters and children, where you have to have a sense of humor, quick wit and a sharp tongue just to make it through dinner. If me or my cousins ever brought a quiet boyfriend/girlfriend to Thanksgiving, the relationship ended shortly thereafter. If you cannot hack it at a Gallagher event, you aren't gonna make the cut. There is always laughter---a lot, usually at someone at the table's expense and you learn early the best defense is a good offense. It must be all that Irish Kennedy-Gallagher blood in one room.
My dad's side is equally as close in just a different way. My dad's brothers are two of the funniest humans alive, although their humor is not the Irish humor of the Gallaghers'. It is stories and jokes and puns that keep you laughing until your sweet tea travels through your nasal canal. It is staying after dinner for hours just to play the latest "figure it out" game or talk Auburn football. My three cousins on that side are all younger so my memories are less "growing up together" and more "watching them grow up." I was excited when my cousin Ashley moved from Texas to Alabama during her high school years and was able to spend more time with her than ever before. Sadly, I was only able to watch my Chase-meister grow up to be a teenager as he unexpectedly passed away this past June.
At Chase's devastating funeral, I realized too late how cherished cousins and extended family are. I decided that no matter what I had to do, Emma Kate was going to be close to her cousins, which as of now stands at 3.5 (three boys that belong to my older brother and one girl on the way).
I fell madly in love with Joseph (JoeMan) the first time I met him, when he FINALLY decided to join us on this earth after a grueling 3-day labor. He stole my heart from his first cry and he still has me wrapped around his finger. He was the first in our family and at the time, I did not know unconditional love for a child until he was born. Wow, it was powerful. Joseph is smart beyond his seven years. He is an equal mix of his momma and daddy. He has a sweet, caring nature like no other little boy I have ever known and he should be the poster-child for "great cousin." He adores Ashley and Emma Kate and the feeling is mutual.
Matthew (MattMatt) is the blond-haired, spitting image of his daddy at that age. He is competitive and athletic. He is one who contemplates everything-- who will fool you into thinking he has forgotten something and then spontaneously bring it up three days later. His blue eyes are breathtaking and he gives great hugs.
Baby Sean is not going to be Baby Sean much longer. He is younger than Emma Kate by 9 months (I think we gave the couple baby fever when EK was born). He is the happiest baby I have ever known and when he smiles, which is often, you would give him whatever he asked for.
These kiddos lived in Montgomery and when they finally made the move to Helena to be near us, we all packed up and moved to Auburn. The one regret I had about moving was that Emma Kate would not go to church every Sunday and see her cousins like she did for the first year of her life.
So, naturally, if we are going to be within a 30 mile radius of Birmingham, it is an absolute that I am going to see these boys (and soon to be girl). That often consists of a quick run to the park or us catching the last 30 minutes of a tee ball game, but we take what we can get.
Maybe one day they will move into our little nook of the world, Eagle Ridge (there are still some lots available!!) but until then, these little mini-trips will have to do.