It has been a busy summer around here. I still can't believe we are starting school again on Monday! The kids are excited, so am I, but it's always interesting to see how everyone will settle into the new year.
My cousin from Germany and his family were out here in the Western United States, traveling through Arizona, Utah, and California by RV for three weeks. Coincidentally, their journey both began and ended in Phoenix. They booked this trip just a few weeks before I happened to find him on Facebook, so it was funny how that worked out - he had no idea I lived out here.
We got to spend a couple of days with them both before they started out, and after they got back from their 2,400 mile round-trip. It was such a rare treat to have visitors from the old country, especially such sweet ones.
Do I ever get homesick, you may wonder. Well, imagine if you were born and raised here in the United States, and for some reason you ended up moving to a totally different part of the world, where nobody spoke your language, the culture was different, you had no relatives or friends, and the food was awful. Would you get homesick, no matter how many problems your home country has? Sure! Now add to that limited opportunities to travel overseas due to finances, family size, and TSA grope-downs, and you get the full picture.
All that to say, seeing my relatives, and getting to speak German with them, was a huge treat.
On my mom's side of the family, I have four aunts and one uncle (my grandmother had six children in all). This was the oldest son of my oldest aunt. I did spend a lot of time with my cousins growing up, as we would often spend our summers together. So I was thrilled my cousin brought me this picture of all of us together in one shot: my grandparents, their six children, their four spouses (my uncle is mentally handicapped and never married, and my youngest aunt was still single at the time), and their children. Eventually, there would be 13 of us cousins, but at this time there were only 8.
Did you spot me? I am the one on the far left in the front, with one of my brothers next to me. My mother is the second lady from the left in the back row, and my Dad is to the right of her (Nice beard, Dad! Those were the days, huh?). My oldest brother is right in the middle, in front of grandma and grandpa. Those two were like the best grandparents, ever. I have so many childhood memories of spending my summer and Christmas breaks at their house, or of them coming to visit us. My grandpa passed away when I was 11, and I would so love to be able to talk to him today. My grandma just passed away last year. I am thankful that our oldest four children got to meet her on our last trip to Germany. The cousin that came to visit is the one sitting on the far right in the picture.
I think I shall go to the German butcher and the German baker in town today to drown my sorrows in chocolate and smoked ham.