One of the biggest learning opportunities in my life was getting married. Becoming part of a different family opened my eyes to new ways of doing things that I had never considered beyond my own up-bringing. One example of this is extended family.

I thought of my extended family as being my parents' cousins, aunts, uncles, etc... I thought of my cousins and my aunts and uncles as family. We spent almost every holiday, major or not, celebrated birthdays even went on a few trips together. It was all that I knew and of course it was the best way to do things.

My husband on the other hand, didn't even know all of his cousins - or barely. He was close to a few, but family gatherings were mostly limited to siblings and even now just major holidays and major events call for get-togethers. This was something I had to get used to.

This is only 1/3 of us.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of times spent with my cousins: going to Kings Island, the zoo, watching the fireworks on the 4th of July, picnics, Christmas caroling, sleepovers or begging at the end of the party to have a sleepover, pool parties at the Swim Club, playing volleyball in Grandma & Grandpa's backyard... I could go on and on.

Even to this day, I am still close to my cousins. I love that I can see their kids growing up and while we don't get together as often as we used to, I still clear my calendar when my out-of-town relatives make the trip.

I felt a little sad that my own kids didn't have this sort of relationship with their cousins. I was so excited when we had the opportunity to take a family trip with some of my husband's family. Unfortunately, not everyone could go, but 4 out of 6 + grandparents isn't too bad.

We rented a house in Charleston, SC and the kids had a blast. It was awesome to see them getting along, playing, laughing and just having kid fun. I do wish the weather had been a bit nicer, but as you can see we made due.

I have to admit, at times the house felt a little small and it was nice to get home, but helping foster these bonds was worth all the work to put the trip together. I would and will do it all again.


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