Friday, September 5, 2008

The Ins & Outs of In-laws

"Family faces are magic mirrors.
Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future.
We make discoveries about ourselves."
-Gail Lumet Buckley
One of the things that Jonathan and I are most grateful for in our marriage is our families. We have been surrounded by people throughout our lives who have loved us, grounded us, played pranks with us, laughed with us, and supported us when life's journey wasn't easy.

We really are blessed.

When we first met, it seemed like we came from different worlds and meshing them might be a bit of a challenge. In time, though, we realized just how closely our families aligned.

Being an only child (J) and one of two adopted kids (me), you realize just how lucky you are when you have extended family that really is just

There were a number of random the fact that we both have family that farm back in Iowa (about an hour-ish away from each other). That my aunt and uncle used to come out each year to Sprouffske Trees to buy their Christmas trees. That both of our parents married in 1970. That all four sets of our grandparents and our parents never divorced each other.

When my Grandma told me that she and Grandpa wouldn't be able to make it out for our wedding (because of the difficulty of traveling with an oxygen tank), Jonathan made it a priority for us to fly back to Iowa last fall so he could meet them. I will never forget Grandma's priceless quote (after all, she is my mom's mom!)... "Shelley, it will be nice to see you, yes, but the person I really want to see is Jonathan!"

I remember how incredibly loved we felt when we showed up in Iowa, and my uncle hosted a BBQ at his house and all my aunts and uncles showed us, as well as most of my cousins and their families. The next day, we travelled to meet Jonathan's family, and again, we filled a giant table at the BBQ place in Ames. His cousin's family had made it a priority to spend that time with us.

Everyone together.

It was one of the reasons that we did the Mausski Bowling Extravaganza, the night before the wedding. We wanted everyone to be able to meet, hang out, eat, play, and see a little into the lives of our extended family and friends that they hadn't met yet. You could tell which fam people belonged to by their glow in the dark necklace (red = Mauss, blue = Ski). Family from Hawaii to the midwest, all together.

What I love is what we learn about each other when we spend time with each other's family. Like how Grandma shared with him my penchant for running around naked (yes, when I was a little child. Not so much now.). And how Grandpa finally found his long-lost cribbage partner.

But really, it's a glimpse into each other's lives that brings depth to our relationship.

Honestly, I didn't know quite what to expect when I moved to the farm. Our closest neighbors are all family - 3 sets of aunts and uncles, and 4 families of cousins. I was a little jealous of Jonathan, since most of my extended family is back in Iowa...and I'd never had the opportunity like he had with such close family.

Two weeks ago, we had an impromptu BBQ at the house, where we hosted 21 Sprouffskes for dinner. I'll be honest...what could have been an overwhelming experience was one of the best evenings we've ever shared together. Knowing that my health hasn't been great lately, Auntie Karen and Uncle Johnie showed up with an abundance of folding tables and chairs (yes, I am sure we have some, but locating them could take until after Angus is born!). Uncle Bill and Auntie Nancy brought a huge bounty of vegetables from their garden, since they'd known about my problems with wheat and dairy. And afterwards, the entire kitchen was spotless. Everyone pitched in and it was done in a flash. You would never have known how full the house was.

The girls all played the Wii, and Auntie Sandi even broke out her famous moves to a little Dance Dance Revolution. The adults talked and talked on the deck, and we celebrated Cassidy's birthday. I learned that my ability to make yummy mountain dew apple dumplings earned a spot in the Sprouffske fam for life.

It was that night that Jonathan and I sat on the deck, after everyone left, and realized just how lucky we are.

Angus is going to have so much fun with cousins, aunties and uncles, Grandma and Grandpa, Grammy and Gramps and everyone in between. Each person brings something to our lives that we would miss, should they not be there. While both of us want to parent to the best of our's through the extension of our families that Baby Ski will learn about love, how to fish, how to forgive, how to raise Christmas trees, how to share and how to experience life on a greater level than just Jonathan and I can teach on our own.

And that is a gift we can never take for granted.

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