My nephew is turning 17 today.  I find this very difficult to wrap my head around.  Only slightly less difficult than the realization that next year, he’ll be 18.  While he is turning 17, I’m turning into one of ‘those’ Aunts…wanting to tell him about how I remember the day he was born.  And how he had quite the cone head from the bungee jumping exercises on his way out.  And how his infant smile filled my heart with warmth.

I find it impossible that 17 years have passed mainly for one reason.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten any older, so I’m not sure how he did.  Very suspicious.  Maybe the air is different in Pennsylvania.

I count my blessings everyday that my nephew is who he is.  And that he still considers me to be cool enough to hang out with (or at least he lets me believe that).  Hanging out with him has become more of an exercise in danger over the past few years, but still, I’m in.  What’s a few bee stings, after all?  Or who is really going to remember which one of us fell into the Neuse River on a nature walk?

He’s grown up to be one of the most caring, sensitive people I know.  Super protective of his friends and family.  And he’s inherited the family sense of humor.  The one where things are funny, even if they aren’t.

Just this week, my brother and I were talking about how my nephew’s suddenly bloomed into this responsible, logical sounding person.  Where’d that come from?  Fortunately, he came home the next day with these:

Can you see the giant earrings?  That’s a new addition.  Whoopsie. 
And when my brother asked me my thoughts…well…I’ve got a few tattoos and five holes in my ears…so I’m pretty sure I don’t have a dog in this fight.  It did make me chuckle though.  It’s a moment that reminded me that he’s still my slightly nuts, slightly spontaneous nephew – not yet a grown up, but getting close.
And we’ll probably survive the earrings.  
Life at the ranch continues.  A full house of cats and dogs who are rapidly training me how to behave.  I’ve now taken to mumbling “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” over and over while I squish my way onto the couch between four legged creatures.
I’m not sure I’ll be giving the kitten back.  I mean, just look at him:

Or what about this:

Or this:

Clearly he is very happy at my house and enjoy snuggling with me more than anything in the world. 

The week’s been mostly uneventful – except for some canine mood swings.  Did you know dogs can wake up cranky just like people can?  We started out the week with a hunger strike by Bogey.  For a few days in a row, she flat out refused to eat her breakfast.  Flat out refused AND offered up a look of disgust that I was evening offering her some kibble.

Yesterday it was Hacker’s turn.  She wasn’t interested in any of the morning walks (or more importantly – the business at hand).  She wouldn’t be taking her morning vitamins, thank you very much.  She practically shoved me out the door to work. 

This morning was the first ‘normal’ day of the week.  All dogs happy.  All dogs fed.  All dogs walked successfully.  Now if I can just convince them to sleep in tomorrow, we’ll be in business.

Finally, I guess I’d feel funny writing a blog this week without mentioning the 9/11 anniversary.  Although to be fair, I think I’m going to do my best not to get wrapped up in all the coverage.  Which is already proving difficult as it seems to be on every station.

The truth is – the day can still hit my stress button even though a decade has gone by.  I will never forget the phone call from my brother announcing a plane crash.  Or waking up my sister and her husband (I was visiting them at the time) to turn on the news.  And then realizing that it was just one plane crash – but much, much more horrific.

The days that followed were a mash of sadness and fear and trying to figure out how I was going to get home to North Carolina (I did finally, by car, thanks to a Chad-Mom-Kathy shuttle).

I know we all have our own stories about that day.  I’m just not sure, for me, that it’s healthy to watch news story after news story after news story.  I remember.  But I’m not sure I want to get back to that place of despair that the endless coverage is bound to bring up.  It’s not that I don’t think the anniversary is deserving – it’s just my choice.

I remember.  And I know you do too.  I’ll wear my red, white and blue proudly on Sunday – and send up a prayer of thanks and remembrance.  And that will be enough for me.

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