Cousins

My cousin Mary Jane and her daughter Suzanne drove down to see us one night. We ordered cheesesteaks and Mary Jane brought us some delicious homemade Napoleons. It was great fun to catch up on news and we shared lots of memories and laughs.

Mary Jane is the daughter of my Aunt Jane, my dad’s sister. Jane had a twin, Catherine, or Cass as she was better known. They would have been 100 by now but both have been gone for quite awhile. My cousin Mary Jane is a bit older than I am and I remember looking up to her and my other cousins her age as the “cool teenagers” when I was a wannabe. They were always lots of fun. Suzanne, her daughter, is a school teacher and soon to be a grandmother herself. I never really knew her till the advent of Facebook and then we became pretty good “cyber friends” if nothing else. LOL

Meanwhile, if you remember the saga a few posts back about buying Mom a printer, we decided to get it set up for her and that was another fiasco. It started out fine; I downloaded the app and began setting it up, connected to her internet, told it what to do, and got to the part where it said “install the set up ink.” Well, when Rich had opened the box, he claimed there was no ink in it and “good thing we bought this other ink,” which he installed. Suddenly everything quit and we could not go any further. I was setting it up through Mom’s laptop so I switched to her iPad to see if that would make any difference but it did not. Then I tried her phone, to no avail. I tried uninstalling the app and starting over. Nothing. Rich got disgusted and said he was going into the living room because we “didn’t need him anyhow.” He was walking out of the room when Mom started digging through the box and found the set up ink. We all started laughing but still did not think that would matter…till Rich did some research online and apparently, yes, you do need the SET UP ink to finish the SET UP. Who knew? Well, probably anyone with more electronics savvy than us, but we were not clued in. So I started over once again, we took out the new ink and put in the set up ink when it was time, and voila! The printer worked. Whew. That was a long, drawn out ordeal and I was SO frustrated.

Funny sidebar–after we got back home, Mom said it was not working again. OMG. She eventually had to call her “IT Guy” who has helped her with computer issues over the years. He came over and said there was some sort of problem with her router extender in the bedroom (where she has the printer) and had to set the printer back up with her internet. It was trying to connect with the main internet in the living room instead of the extender. Not sure if that’s something we did wrong (probably, though it did work when we were there) or if something happened after we left but all is now well in the world of printing at Mom’s house…till next time.

Shopping, Navy Pier, and Family

We went back to the mall we had passed the first night when it was closed…the kids wanted sweatshirts or other souvenirs to take home. We had to wait for the stores to open and then the girls couldn’t find a thing they liked. ūüôā Aidan got some sweatpants. The girls had seen a store at Navy Pier that had JUST the sweatshirts they wanted but, again, it was closed when we were there. I had told them if we couldn’t find anything they wanted in the stores near the hotel, we’d walk back over to Navy Pier. So….off we went.

It was a good little walk to the Pier and we saw a crazy guy swimming in the cold water! He did have a wetsuit on.

We had some lunch and then some “dragon’s breath cereal” for dessert. The girls found the sweatshirts they wanted and Aidan got a snow globe that his night manager had requested. We walked back to the rides and the girls were VERY excited to see that the swings they wanted to ride the other day were open this time. We had bought a “city pass” which allowed us a certain number of rides but the pass was only good for the previous two days. Rich was just going to buy the kids a ticket to ride the swings but I thought I would ask someone at the ticket counter if we could still use our pass since the ride was closed for high winds when we were there. The woman didn’t even let me finish my question before saying, “yes, go ahead, just tell them you have a pass!” Ally and Elle were very excited and Aidan less so, but he decided to ride as well. The girls loved it and wanted to go again, but I didn’t know if they could since we’d already used the pass. But the guy told them to come on so off they went for a second time, with Aidan sitting it out.

Later, we met up with my cousin Lisa, my cousin Bill and his wife Patt for a great dinner, lots of laughs and conversation. We never got to see our Chicago cousins much growing up but we still have a connection and enjoyed catching up! Bill is the son of my Aunt Cass, my dad’s sister. Lisa is kind of a long lost 1st cousin once removed–the biological daughter of my cousin Tish who had Lisa at a young age and gave her up for adoption. I don’t actually know the whole story except what I’ve heard from others but apparently after Lisa was grown up, she was able to find our family and has become close with the Chicago clan. I’d met her once before and we are kindred spirits in many ways–really glad she came out to see us! Some of my other cousins were going to come but sadly my cousin Cate’s long time partner Howard had just passed away and his funeral was the day we were meeting. We’d actually met Howard on one of our other trips to Chicago and he was a very nice man.

It was our last night in Chicago and we were already getting sad that we were going to have to leave! We all had such a great time and it was so much fun hanging out with the teenagers!

And Aidan Turns 18!

Aidan’s birthday isn’t till the end of March but we always celebrate with him when he comes for Spring Break. This kid was my first grandchild, a boy born after I’d only been a mom to three girls. We had to learn all about boys and in addition to his mom, his two aunts and I always considered him “our boy.” We told him every day how much we loved him and what a happy baby he was. This turned out to be true and he’s always been a calm, peaceful, mostly happy child and teen. He has a kind heart, he works hard in school, holds down a job at McDonald’s, loves video games, hanging out with friends and riding and racing at the motocross track. We sure do love him and can’t wait to see what his future holds.

His parents came to town for the weekend so we had a nice birthday dinner together and the requisite ice cream and cake celebration after. The next day they continued their annual tradition of attending the big Supercross competition in Arlington while we took the rest of the kids to our old haunt, 7-11, to get snacks (completely remodeled since the pandemic…we hardly recognized it!), to the park, on a walk, then to see “Tom and Jerry” at the movie theater.

Lunches

Mom belongs to the Red Hat Society which holds a monthly gathering at someone’s house, at a restaurant, or off on an excursion somewhere. ¬†This month, they were meeting at an Italian restaurant and I tagged along, decked out in Mom’s extra regalia. I know some of the ladies already, including my Aunt Jeannette (Mom’s sister) and our long time family friend Edna. ¬†I had also met many of the other members over the years including one memorable meeting at Mom’s house a few years ago where Chef Rich prepared a lovely luncheon that they are still talking about. In fact, I think they were kinda disappointed that I attended this time instead of him. ūüôā ¬†It was fun to see everyone and to chit chat over some fabulous Italian food.

My cousin Pat had Mom and me over to her house for lunch along with her mom, my Aunt Jeannette. ¬†Patty and I are a year apart and were always partners in crime growing up when we had a chance to get together. ¬†She lived in NJ and I was always moving with Dad being in the Air Force but we got to spend vacations and other occasions with each other. ¬†We also had a couple of years together as youngish adults when my ex and I lived in NJ for grad school. ¬†Although there’s a lot of time and distance between us, we always pick back up and have a lot of fun visiting. She has a gift for story telling and a great sense of humor, plus we have a lot of shared family history. Hard to believe those little girls are now in their 60s. ¬†ūüôā

Cousin Time at Fort Worth Stockyards

Susan and Corey had to make a trip to Fort Worth for an appointment on Monday and the kids were out of school for MLK Day. ¬†They asked if we could meet them there to keep Aidan and Ally occupied for a couple of hours till they were finished. We told them we’d still have Beck and Jack but it would be fun to have all of the kids together for a little while. ¬†After a quick drive over to Fort Worth, we got Aidan and Ally and took all four kids to the Stockyards to wander around. ¬†They had a ball as we went through the museum, had burgers for lunch, rode some of the silly 50 cent kiddie rides, and went through the petting/feeding zoo. ¬†Rich and Aidan waited outside while I took the younger ones in to pet and feed the animals, which was a blast for Beck and Ally but not so much for Jack! Could have saved my money on him because he was afraid to get too close to the animals and didn’t want to touch them or feed them. ¬†But I think he still had fun walking around and watching from a distance. ¬†After a couple of hours, we met back up with Susan and Corey and they headed home to Clyde while we took the boys back to Dallas. ¬†Jack fell asleep in the car and continued to sleep for awhile at home. We had dinner, cleaned up the house for their parents’ and sister’s return later, bathed, read books, and off to bed.

Beck sleeps with his door open but we always close Jack’s door so he won’t wake up if there’s any noise in the house. ¬†At one point I thought I heard a door slam upstairs but I figured it was Beck going to the bathroom. ¬†Quite late, around 10:30, I went to check on the boys and noted that Beck’s door was shut. I went in to make sure he was okay and he was snoozing away in bed. ¬†Then I spied Jack sitting on the floor playing with Legos! ¬†Little stinker! I took him back to his room and let him bring some of the Legos with him. ¬†I told him he could play for a few more minutes, then get up in bed and go to sleep. ¬†After awhile, I heard the door slam again and went back upstairs to find him in Beck’s room a second time! ¬†I returned him to his room (meanwhile Beck is sleeping through everything) and told him he needed to get to sleep. ¬†He said he “had to finish!” his Lego building. ¬†Funny boy! ¬†After a minute or two, I told him to get up in his bed and he complied. ¬†He had taken a bunch of toys out of a drawer under his bed so I started putting them away. ¬†He said “No, leave it!” LOL I said we wanted to have things picked up when Mommy and Daddy got home so he agreed.

Sarah, Miles and Elle got home around 12:45 AM so it was a long day and a late night for all of them. ¬†They had a great time in Vegas; the girls had a tough soccer tournament but held their own and Elle made 4 of the 6 goals that their team scored throughout the tourney. ¬†We’re proud of that girl!

After chatting a few minutes, Rich and I came home and collapsed in bed! I had to get up early for my volunteer work so it was a short night of sleep. ¬†Another successful babysitting gig in the books! ¬†ūüôā

Cousins

There are 31 first cousins in my generation of my father’s family. ¬†My dad was the youngest of 8, well, really 9 because one child (Robert) died as a baby. ¬†There were five females: Elizabeth (Liz), twins Jane and Catherine (Cass), Mary, and Teresa and three males: Harry Kirby, known as Kirby, George, and my dad Joseph (Joe). ¬†They had a rough life growing up; my father’s mother died when he was a baby and his older sisters helped raise him and his next older brother, George. ¬†Their father married a woman with children of her own and according to family lore, life became the stuff of cliched fiction with the stepmother favoring her own kids and leaving the stepkids to fend for themselves. ¬†One story states that she would often get upset with the youngest two boys and sit them out on the front stoop with their belongings so one of the married sisters would come and get them. As an older adolescent, my dad lived with my Aunt Jane and Uncle Charles till he joined the Air Force at the tender age of 17. Now most of these family members are gone except for Teresa, Mary and George. ¬†My dad died first, at the very young age of 42, from lung cancer. The rest have passed on as they became older and suffered health issues. ¬†I really miss all of them and have fond memories of that generation of “Rices.” It makes me sad to know that there is so much information and history that is lost to us and I wish I had taken the time to learn more from my dad, aunts, and uncles when we were all younger. Here are a few recent pics of just a handful of relations.

 

 

Most of my cousins grew up in New Jersey, some within a few miles or a backyard of each other, while my family lived a nomadic Air Force life, only returning to New Jersey on vacations and between assignments. ¬†We also had our “Chicago cousins” — ¬†Cass’ eight kids, whom we only saw rarely, and Uncle George’s kids who lived in Utah so we hardly knew them at all. ¬†But mostly I remember the NJ cousins and as a kid I was quite envious that some of my cousins seemed to be best friends and did a lot together, while we were the outsiders who only came to visit on occasion.

Over the years we’ve had a few reunions that many of us attended and I regularly see many of the NJ cousins to this day when I return to see my mom. ¬†We aren’t the best at keeping in touch but thankfully some of us are on Facebook and get to follow each other’s lives a little bit that way. ¬†And sadly we are all getting older and we have already lost a few cousins.

Recently my sister let me know that one of our cousins and his family were coming to San Antonio because their son was completing basic training in the Air Force and would be graduating.  So Rich and I decided to drive out and visit for a couple of days.

My cousin Tim is my Aunt Mary’s youngest son. ¬†Funny side story: ¬†His real name is Thomas but when he was a child, he was very small so everyone called him Tiny Tim which got shortened to Tim. ¬†I always knew him as Tim and never knew the story behind it–just thought that Tim was his given name. ¬†When I was visiting in NJ not all that many years ago, a bunch of us had gone to a softball game and then back to Tim’s house. ¬†I heard his wife Brandi call him Tom and I thought I had misheard. ¬†Then someone else called him Tom and Brandi called him Tom again and I finally said, “Did you call him Tom?” ¬†She said, “Yes, that’s his name!” ¬†What?? I always thought his name was Tim! So they explained that they’d originally met when they worked at the same place where he’d been hired under his official name and everyone there knew him as Tom. ¬†She had always known him as Tom and most of their friends call him Tom. She laughingly said, “Your whole family calls him Tim but all of us around here call him Tom.”

We had a great time in San Antonio with Tim/Tom and Brandi, their daughter Veronica and their son Trevor, new AF airman Aaron and his girlfriend Jamie.  My sister had a potluck dinner on Saturday attended by her daughters Alana and Rachel and their hubbies and kids, her son Ryan and his wife and kids, her son Eli, and her ex-husband Alan, along with Rich and me and the NJ crew.  We enjoyed good conversation and catching up with my nieces and nephews and all of their adorable kids as well as the cousins.

 

 

Once upon a time I had an idea that it would be a cool project to photograph and interview each of my first cousins and put it together for posterity. I suppose I could have started this weekend but it didn’t even occur to me. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Maybe on the next NJ trip!