We spent a few days this week with my brother and his family. It was a wonderful trip. I love spending time with them. My brother has three kids - they are now 10, 10 and 12. I was fortunate to live near them when they were young and spent a lot of time with them. I miss them very much and really enjoyed getting to spend this time with them. I love seeing the people they are becoming. They are great kids. I love watching them with my kids now and being the "big cousins."
It's fun to watch them because their family is in the "next stage". They are beyond the preschool and toddler years and are now in the "tween" years and quickly approaching the teen years. My sister in law has always been a mentor to me in many ways. I have learned a lot from her. We joked that kids problems may change as they get older but it's always something with kids and parenting.
I love watching them as a family unit. The "family unit" is so important to me. Every family is so uniquely different and special. They each have their own traditions and special moments. It's fun to learn about their family traditions - ranging from Christmas morning, going out to dinner, getting ice cream or going on vacation. The kids are old enough to know these traditions and these moments are important to them. My brother and sister in law have been married for 18 years now and have more history as their own family just the two of them and now the five of them then their own individual families. I have learned that so much of being our own "family unit" is taking a little bit of both of our individual families growing up and making our own.
I love my kids in the chaotic preschool / toddler stage we are in now and am appreciating every moment. I know that it won't last forever. After spending time with my nieces and nephew this week, I am reminded that it always just keeps getting better.