A Thanksgiving Cousin Cornucopia

Been thinking all week about what to write; there are so many things I am deeply thankful for. But, in the end all I wanted to  do was look at my pictures over and over again.

This week was all about cousins and family. I have been so very blessed in this department! I’m just going to leave the pictures here for future viewing pleasure. It’s been a beautiful week.

Hiking Ranch San Antonio: California cousins forced East Coast Cousin Cathy outdoors into NATURE.

Hiking Castle Rock: More forced nature-ing for Cousin Cathy.

Thanksgiving feast: So much delicious food and good people!

Cousin Camping Trip

About one month ago, we had an epic weekend camping at Butano State Park with a few of my cousins and their families. I loved watching Carter play with his bigger cousins. He sang “Shut Up and Dance” karaoke to them in their tent. They found over 100 banana slugs. They climbed logs and ate marshmallows. Carter’s sweet cousins took such good care of him.

Also, lesson learned. Camping with other kids makes life so much more relaxing for me and Andy. We had an amazing time. We hope this is a tradition we continue for many years to come!

A Cousin Wedding Reunion

Every few years, my family gets to reunite at a family wedding. I look forward to our family gatherings with gleeful anticipation; reunions with my 22 Chen cousins are always sprees of unfiltered, face-stuffing fun and laughs.

This year, we gathered to celebrate my cousin Spencer’s wedding in DC.

We took a red-eye (with a layover!) to DC. This is how we felt afterwards:

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Nevertheless, we powered through the day. Naturally, our first stop was for fatty sweets; we stopped at Baked and Wired for some yummy cupcakes. Then, we pushed on at the National Zoo. I got it into my head that needed to see Bao Bao, the panda, and it was worth it!

The wedding day included a cousin brunch, the wedding ceremony, and hallelujah! a cousin trip to Cafe Rio, which apparently exists in DC. Carter loved loved loved playing with all his cousins. Andy and I loved the older cousins who took care of Carter for us!

All I can say is this wedding had a Star Wars theme, a Star Wars cake and blinking light sabers on the dance floor. Also, the happy coupled danced to the lantern song from Tangled and there was a little kid karaoke of “Let it Go” from Frozen. So, basically this wedding ruled, even though my pictures didn’t.

After the wedding, we pulled off another marathon day starting with a cousin brunch (surprise surprise), church, the Air and Space Museum – where Carter continued his tradition of pooping outside National landmarks – a failed attempt to see more National landmarks (it was too hot), shuttling people to the airport and then dinner with my aunts and uncles. Carter loved sleeping at “Ava baby’s house” and playing with her…and all of her toys.

I feel so blessed to have such an amazing and tight-knit group of cousins. I can’t imagine life without them. I can’t wait until the next family wedding! Who’s up?

 

 

 

Carter Turns Two

The little booger turned two. Time is going too fast. Here are some things I want to remember about him at this fun age:

He loves basketball and will turn anything – or anyone – into a hoop. This is his primary obsession. After watching the Olympics, he started to jump off steps and say “gymnactiks” and do “pinnies” around on the ground like the men on pommel horse. He also started practicing track starts and running off, telling everyone he’s “so fast!” He loves lights, spinning fans, helicopters, trains and pretending to drive my car.

His favorite color is pink. He loves pink colored pencils, pink crayons, pink flowers, pink clothes, pink balloons, pink balls. He always picks out the pink thing and wants that one. Someone asked me if I trained him to like it to defy gender-norms, but no, he loved pink on his own and I hope no amount of peer pressure will change that.

His favorite lullabies are church hymns, “Amazing Grace”, “Lean on Me”, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, three random songs I learned at Japanese camp in high school, and songs from the musical, The Color Purple. He either asks for songs by name (“Lean on Me” = Lemolemolemo, “I am a Child of God” = Im a Chango, “Love is Spoken Here” = I See Mamo) He knows a lot of the words and, on my favorite days, will sing-yell along with me.

He loves my muumuus and pajamas. Specifically, he likes to wrap them around himself or use them as blankets. This started one night when I wasn’t home, but has now progressed to him demanding the pajamas straight off my body for snuggling purposes. He also loves to bury himself under a big pillow before he goes to sleep. It’s twice his size, and has become a bedtime necessity.

He is a sponge-parrot. He soaks up everything he hears and remembers it weeks later. He speaks three languages – Chinese, English and Spanish – and knows when and with whom to use which one. He also remembers names and cars. Sometimes he lays in bed and starts saying the names of everyone he’s ever met. If he’s met you once for at least 20 minutes, he’s probably asked to see you again, said your name before bed and practiced saying it during the day. He also probably knows what kind of car you drive. He does not get that from his mama.

His favorite song is “Shut Up and Dance.” He asks to listen to “Shutup Ance” at least one million times every day. This has devolved into just straight up “Shut Up!” and after several heart to heart conversations about using this phrase, has turned into, “Shut Up!…don’t saaaaay thaaaattt.”

He loves to dance. He climbs on top of his toddler table, squats low and waves his butt back and forth. This is what he calls a dance party. He gets it from his mama.

He loves to pray and read the scriptures. He loves to bow his head and say, “So grateful today” and “AMEN!” with real gusto. When he picks up scriptures, he flips the pages and says, “Jesus God. Jesus. God. And. Prophets. And. Jesus. God.” Then he asks to look at pictures of the temple. Heart. Melting.

His face lights up when he sees me and he runs super fast into my arms yelling, “Mommy’s here!!!!” if we’ve been apart for an hour or more. This is the best. I will probably want to remember that he did this once, because I know it won’t last forever.

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He has changed my life in more ways than I can count. Andy and I can’t imagine life without our little Boogie. He makes us laugh with real joy. He makes us whole and reminds us what matters most. We love him with a love deeper than anything we thought possible and are so grateful to Heavenly Father for sending us this crazy, goofy, sweet, loving angel into our lives.

We had a little birthday party for Carter, themed “Carter’s Having a Ball!” in honor of his love of all things ball related. And his love of dancing. And his love of generally having fun. It really takes a village and we are blessed to have such a wonderful one supporting our family!

The Bradshaw Clan in Park City

Two weeks ago, the entire Bradshaw clan descended upon Park City to wreak its own special brand of havoc on the land. All seven Bradshaw boys, spouses, a gaggle of nine little children, two grandparents, a granduncle and the occasional visitor filled a cabin for a week of crazy.

Andy and I drove to Utah with Carter, the best road-tripping toddler on the planet. We stopped in Tahoe to visit with dear friends who were serendipitously in town from Oregon. We braved a night at Circus Circus in Reno to break up the drive.

The week in Utah is a blur of binge-watching Olympics, hot tubbing with kids, cooking, eating, visiting friends, playing in the reservoir, eating Cafe Rio, BBQ-ing in the rain and hanging with family.

And of course, the requisite Bradshaw Boy awkward family photos: