A little bit of family love never went so far…

We have flown 11,000 kilometers to visit our San Francisco contigent, which includes my half brother’s family and my half sister’s family. I never thought this trip would be possible given our meagre income. However, my mum and dad visited San Fran earlier in the year and on their return decided to send Elka and me to meet Elka’s cousins. Boy, am I glad they did.

Little Mr G is 3 and a bit and his sister, Little Miss P, is 7 months. Both are sweeties. Mr G met Elka when she was first-born, and once again when she was 8 months. He has spent a lot of time talking about her since. And here she is in his very own home – flesh and blood. Mr G likes to shower her with kisses and hugs, persistently, and Elka, being a space conscious gal, has decided to accept his affection only sometimes, which can be a cause for concern. Many a time, she does a mighty protest, which only makes her cousin want to hug her more.

Little Miss P is too sweet. She has a shock of chocolate locks and vivid blue eyes. When she looks at you, she beams, then laughs, and you can’t help being enamored by her. She just rolls around on the floor while the big cousins sort out their stuff.

Elka’s other special cousin, Little Miss F, lives in the heart of the bay, and is a little doll. She is almost the same age as P. The other night, us sisters + mum celebrated the night with wine and yummy food, while the little Miss F gazed at us, so sweetly, so mildly. I don’t think I have heard her cry once. She is a wonder.

Elka is obsessed with the babies. I am not surprised, as she spends her life mothering plastic dolls bought from Vinnie’s. Her face lights up, and she will drop anything, even a tussle with Mr G, just to sit and gaze admiringly at the bay-bees, as she calls them, in a thick Australian accent. The only way I managed to make all the presents for family before we left was to tell her they were for the babies, so she stood by me in solidarity and talked about “Holding bay-bee” and “Ahhhh…sing Alleluya?” “Yes, my sweetest of peas,” I would respond.

And when not having little tussles, the bigger of the cousins, Elka and Mr G, have a riot together. They have sat outside each night at this cute little red picnic table to eat their dinner, which is more a case of run-and-throw-a-ball-and-chase-each-other than dinner. I captured a little scene of the two of them bouncing balls in a terribly smart shopping mall in Marin County, running around each other like crazy, and squealing. It’s not all fun and games…they have been educating each other as well. Elka has taught Mr G and thing or two about stuffing wild and exotic foods like cucumber in his mouth. “Watching Elka eat, Mr G?” is a phrase commonly heard during meal times. And Mr G has taught Elka a thing or two about tooth brushing and going to bed in a normal fashion. Seeing G brush his teeth was very inspiring, apparently, and we got a good 3 minute toothbrushing in this evening. Farewell thee tooth decay! Thank you G!

And another big thank you to G from Aunty Me for inspiring a sweet bed time routine. If there has been one very repetitive theme on this blog, it has been that of sleeping. Phew! It’s been a mission for me…and Elka too I suspect. I have long been convinced that the issue has been that Elka was born with a defective lie-down-and-relax gene. Lying in a bed has always seemed to be a torture for her. But seeing that Mr G sidle up to his beautiful, comfortable looking bed with his sleep sheep going and his night-light on, and what the? going to sleep! deeply inspired me at least. After lying with Elka for many many many (every) night for almost an hour some nights waiting for her to go to sleep, I have finally cracked it. The other night I gave her a dose of relaxing herbs in her milk, did the whole bed time routine, and turned on her new stars (care of Aunty Starrs) and her sleep sheep, saturated her dolly in lavender oil and lay her down with a bottle and a little drop more of calming potion. I’m not giving any one of these things credit, because I am scared too change one, but the combination worked, and after two attempts to leave the room, I quietly excused myself. The very very docile Elka protested for about 5 seconds, then must have fell asleep, because that was that. She didn’t wake up again. We have done the same thing three nights in a row now…and fingers crossed, but I think Elka and I have just passed the biggest milestone of our life together.

We don’t have much in the way of cousins for Elka at home. My brothers don’t seem to be in any want or state to be procreating. Sadly! I have fond memories of my youth growing up with cousins. Rolling around paddocks, ganging up on each other, writing and performing plays and choreographing dances to Michael Jackson songs (much to the amusement of our parents)…Gone are the days. I have consciously surrounded ourselves with friends, who I hope will play a cousin role in Elka’s younger life. Until another sneaky trip to San Francisco comes our way, that is…Always keen. Just saying.