Since my first trip out here to meet the family in 2005, I've been a human jungle gym for my five nieces and nephews (ages 3, 5, 7, 10, and 11). But since I'm now 28 weeks pregnant, I can't quite do all of the flips and spins and twirls and piggy-back rides to which the kids have grown accustomed. I can't pick up the 3-year old, but that's about it.
So today, we went for a walk to try to find the convenience store with three of the kids in toe. The road through the cabins took us up and down and up and down the various hills. We walked and walked and walked...and yet never found the convenience store. So we headed back to the cabin, with three now very tired, grumpy, hungry, and thirsty kids. So my husband, being the amazing uncle that he is, offered to carry the 5- and 7-year old up the hills. He even carried the 7-year old through the trees so that he could have a "real hiking experience". His reaction when he finally made it back to the cabin: "This horsie is tired!". He's now enjoying a much deserved relaxing soak in the hot tub.
It was very sweet to see him being so engaging with his nieces and nephews, and it is a nice little preview of what I can expect from him in the years to come. His mom tells stories about how his dad only looked into the crib at his oldest daughter (my husband's oldest sister) and said "Hi Baby" when the first child initially came home from the hospital. My husband is the youngest, and admittedly has not been around a lot of babies (he had already left for college and then active duty by the time that his nieces and nephews were born), but I'm thinking that he's going to be just fine.
As tiring as they are, these nieces and nephews are so precious, and are such a blessing. My 5-year old niece (the one who thinks that babies come out of the mommy's belly button) just came in from the hot tub to tell me that she doesn't want to be around the big boys in her "kini" (bikini). She's the same one who kept announcing that we each got "han-itizer" (hand sanitizer) in our stockings at Christmas time. My husband is especially fond of the 7-year old sweet-natured outdoor-loving nephew, who apparently was a lot like my husband as a kid. I really am blessed to be so accepted in this family.