I may be Finley's biological Aunt, but I also get to call these great people my nieces and nephews, and I love them just as much! Olivia, Jack, Keaton, Austin, and Sarah, today is your day! I'm so thankful for the five of you.
Olivia and Jack are two of the funniest children I know. Here's a great Olivia story for you, as shared by my sister-in-law, Laura. It happened in the car one day, heading to a family event where Ella would not be there.
O: Will Ella be at Mamaw's today?
L: No, she's with her mom today.
O: I thought Erin was her mom.
L: No, Erin is her stepmom. Ella's mom lives far away and Ella stays with her most of the time.
O: (thinking) I want a stepmom, too!
L: I'm not ok with that.
O: Then maybe Erin can be my stepmom, too!
These kids can make me laugh like no one else. They're sweet and loving, generous with their hugs, and so excited when they get to see Ella. I love being around these two.
Keaton is an only child, and I love to hear him giggle. We have a little game we play where I'll yank him up into my lap and kiss on him. He says, "Ew, yuck!" and wipes it off while laughing hysterically. My goal is to kiss him either in a spot he can't reach or so many times he can't get them all off fast enough. He's growing up SO fast! This kiddo was born just a few months after I got to Paducah, and I can't believe how much he's changed in those 5+ years. He adores Ella, cries when he has to leave our house, even. They look like siblings and are just as close. He's a fisherman, lover of trains, Kindergartener, soccer player, Snoopy fan, and - most recently - a hunter. He can't wait to "pow" his first deer.
And then there's the big two! Technically speaking, there are three, but I barely know Micah, so this is devoted just to Austin and Sarah. If there were any two people in my extended family who should have been reticent about getting a new aunt, it should have been these two. I didn't even meet them until Chris and I were fairly serious. Austin is at UK now, which is fantastic! We love the opportunities we get to see him. He's great with his young cousins, he's smart, easy to talk with, and an overall delight. While it's been a little strange for me to get used to having a 19 year old nephew, I love it.
And then there's sweet Sarah. Oh, how I love this girl! Fourteen is such a rotten age to have to be a girl, and I just want to whisk her into the future sometimes so she doesn't have to deal with it all. I promise, Sarah, it gets better. Keep making smart choices, keep your head in the game and your priorities straight, and it'll be ok in the end. You've got so much potential, and I'm excited to see the woman you're becoming. I love you, lady!!!
I love being an aunt to these people. They're so much fun to be with, and they bring a whole different dynamic to my life. I didn't realize I was missing so much before I had nieces and nephews, but I was. It's one thing to be an aunt to my sister's newborn baby; it's a whole other thing to have a niece I can chat with while lounging on Papaw's pontoon in the sun. It's a rich blessing to be related to them, even if only by marriage.
Thanks, gang, for taking me in so easily. Thanks for making me feel like as much of an aunt as the ones you've had a lot longer.
Love you all,