Years ago, when Steve and I graduated college, we moved our little family (just Hallie) out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a job. As luck would have it Steve’s brother and his family lived out there as well. As we were transitioning to Wisconsin and trying to find a home, we lived in Steve’s brother’s basement for several months. This was overly generous on their part and it was the beginning of some of my favorite relationships. Our nephew was a senior in high school when we moved in and was getting ready to head off to college, and although our crossing was brief it was powerful. When we moved into our house, I remember him coming over to the house to help me paint Hallie’s room. We sat in that room talking for hours about how he saw the world and what he wanted to do when he went off to college. Before moving out there, I really didn’t know him so this time period was very formative.

Flash forward 15 years – and he’s got a family of 3 and another on the way. And when they told us they were coming to Arizona for a very short visit, we were able to convince them to stay with us and let ours kids build some relationships. This nephew is actually the oldest grandchild in the family. So it’s weird for my kids to think of him as their cousin, because he feels a little more like an uncle. And truth be known, he’s far closer in age to us than most nephews so he feels more like a brother – we were so excited for their visit.

Our time was short – 48 hours, so we had to be very strategic about what we could fit in. We were a little surprised they chose going to the lake for the afternoon because it would take hours, but I’m so glad we fit it in. We had a beautiful afternoon. The weather had started to turn cold, but we had a warm day – which still means the water was cold, which means I was not about to get in. But the kids all got in. Half the kids surfed, the other half went on the ZUP board.

Their little guy was confident he wanted to give it a try. And by the time it was his turn, his courage had dried up. We did our best convincing but he was not having it. I asked Hunter to get back out in the water to go with him. (Which also took some convincing because once you know how cold the water is, it’s hard to go back in!) And with Hunter as his partner, he was willing. It started a little rocky – Hunter was trying to figure out how to double ride the board, and their boy was still unsure as was evident by his bulging eyes. Eventually, they found their rhythm and he was all smiles. It was cute to see him conquer his fear and proudly wave at his parents in the boat. Their daughter on the other hand could not be persuaded to try!

We had boat dance parties and cheered on those that braved the water. The kids jumped in and out of the water so many times. And our nephew tried his hand at surfing and did amazing. An afternoon at the lake was the perfect activity with their family.

That evening, we made it to an ASU football game. Our nephew went to Stanford and he proudly walked into the stadium wearing his cardinal red – and we were proud devils. Only one of us could walk away that evening happy with the game – we were very happy!

Several family members joined us at the game: Steve’s dad, brother, sister and brother-in-law as well as 5 of our nephews, it was a family affair!

The next day, we had a family gathering with the extended family (although the ASU game could count for a partial extended family gathering!). Most of Steve’s siblings were able to gather to say hello and meet our nephew’s youngest child for the first time. It was such a great night for them to see the family. The live away from any family, so to come and see so many faces in such a short time was a treat. Their kids only have 1 cousin – so coming to Arizona, they gain more cousins than they can even name.

Their visit was too short. But we’ll take it. We capitalized every minute, talking into the wee hours of the morning. The kids played and had a great time.

Everyone connected.