Last weekend, I got a Facetime phone call on my phone. (If you're not familiar with Facetime: it's the iPhone's version of Skype...video chatting on a phone.)
It was our favorite east coast cousin, Anastasia.
My girls quickly clamored around the phone to talk with Stasia. To adult ears, the conversation wanders from topic to topic without any transition. A lot of the conversation centers around making silly faces at each other and talking about Disney princesses. I was going to grab a screen shot of all of them talking to each other, but Addie didn't have a stitch of clothing on--par for the course with 3 year olds--but being almost 3 herself, Stasia didn't seem to think it was unusual. She's cool like that.
After they got off the phone, Addie asked, "Can Stasia come over next week?"
"Well," I said, "I don't think so. She lives far away."
"How about Friday? Can Stasia come Friday? Pleeeeeease?"
It's hard to convince a kid that Massachusetts isn't easily accessible for playdates, especially since her other frame of reference is having cousins who live next door. Traveling 3096 miles to see your cousin is hard to make sense of. But Addie is persistent. She asks at least once a week.
I always say, "We'll see," to make it easier, although one time I got to say, "Yes. Stasia can come over on Friday."
The week before Halloween, Jason's brother Nathan flew out with Stasia for a week-long visit. So much happiness.
Although Addie and Anastasia are pretty crazy about each other, Stasia and Jules have a unique bond between the two of them. Last year, Jason's mom took Jules with her when she flew out to Massachusetts to visit Stasia. That week of hanging around each other was something special for both of them, and Jules loves her role as the admired older cousin.
We've been fortunate enough to see Stasia twice this year. Nathan, Carolyn and Stasia were able to meet up with us for a few days when we were in Florida this past summer, and it was fun watching the girls tear around DisneyWorld together.
But, really, it's just the every day stuff that's the most fun. Going to the park, watching movies together, driving the quad around the farm, piling leaves into imaginary birthday cakes.
Even though Stasia lives far away, we make sure to talk about her and Uncle Nathan and Aunt Carolyn so the girls are often thinking of them. My girls only have 5 cousins, the four who live next door and Stasia. Stasia only has my girls for cousins.
Every cousin counts, but when you don't have very many cousins to begin with, then they count super duper extra.
So we all make an effort to stay connected with periodic visits and Facetime conversations with each other. The plan is that someday my girls will be able to fly back east by themselves for visits; and someday Stasia will get to fly here and spend summer afternoons at the creek.
Chances are, we'll never live on the same sides of the country, let alone next door to each other, but that's when you learn to make it all count. Every visit will be memorable, which is its own kind of awesomeness too.