Monday, December 23, 2013

… a little bit of childhood...


Holy blog hits people!  I've been overwhelmed with this outpouring of well wishes and celebrations over the news of the hope I have been given to hang onto through this next phase of my cancer journey. I have many hurdles to get over still, but I'll swing from that thread of hope and keep praying it's enough to see me through.  I wonder so often who all of you are?  My blog seems to be going out to all corners of the US and beyond, and my boys and I love to see the places that pop up.  We have no clue who most of you are, but we are so honored to have you follow our little story.  

My email is vwestra14@gmail.com and if any of you who are new to us want to drop us a line- we'd be thrilled! 

Thank you! 




“Nobody will understand the craziness of your family better than your cousins”

The photo says January, 1972.  I imagine it could have been my brother's birthday.  These are just a few of my cousins- back row, Pam, Rob, and his brother David.  Front row are me, and then my cousin Jennifer (sister to Pam) who was born just 11 days after me in July of 1967.

All together, we were a crew of 19.  Can you imagine our family gatherings?  It often included a large portion of us.  I don't recall having a birthday party with friends until I was much older- my cousins were always my party guests.  





Flash forward to 2013.  I'm not even sure what year we started gathering again at Christmas, for a "cousin's party." Rick and I had moved to Idaho and would make sure that we were back in Minnesota in time for the gathering. 

I've  blogged with lots of photos/stories a couple of times: 2008 Cousin's party, and in 2009

Over the years our group just continues to expand.  These are my 2 of mom's (3) sisters, on either side of her, Carol, then Marlene.  

Marlene is about to go from being a "super" Grandma, to a "Great" grandma in March- by not just one of her grandchildren, but two of them.  



What we enjoy so much now, is that while the "big kids" get to be finally be upstairs, its our own kids who go downstairs and hang out, much like we used to.  They are second cousins, but really?  My kids just think they are "cousins."  Truly, does it matter when you are family?


“A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

I took just a few photos at our cousin's party last weekend.  I was soaking it all in.  Here I am with Kaelyn, my cousin's daughter.  We were quite taken with the fact we matched our outfits perfectly! 



Lauren and her cousin Lindsey.



Stephanie, Amanda, and Kaelyn.




Jennifer- my cousin from above, with her daughter Lauren.  I noticed while Jennifer's hand was in Lauren's hair, Lauren's hand was on Jennifer's coat tag.  

I didn't move from my perch on the couch most of the night.  I wouldn't have missed the gathering for anything, but I was clearly fatigued and content to sit.


“Cousins by chance, friends by choice.” ~ Proverb



I did manage one quick trip downstairs where all the action was taking place.  Colton, playing with his cousin Keenen.  These two see each other at school every day and both play hockey. 


A couple of years ago I blogged this and still stands true today:

I think by the end of the evening I had a fairly firm grasp on just what it means to be part of this family.  Here is what I came up with.  Its a sort of a "You might be a Brainerd if ..."
  •  you have had your gallbladder removed or... (Dot, Carol, Mary Ann, Pam and myself.)
  •  you have been told you need to have your gallbladder removed but are too stubborn, or scared to actually have the surgery... Marlene AND now Jennifer.
  •  you aren't sure you want to travel too far because you don't know how far it might be to the nearest  bathroom...  ( I am so not naming, names on this one, way too many of you to count) 
  •  unless, the exception to #3, you are asked to go to the casino.  Then no distance is too far to travel!
  • start a story and lose your train of thought half way through.   
  • know a good "throw up" story...  (sorry Lee, wouldn't want you to feel left out) 
  •  know what uff da means and use it frequently while talking.
  •  have eaten lutefisk... and then said uff da.  
  • can only pronounce wrestling as "Wrassling." 
  • know a good joke and it begins with "Ole and Lena…"  




My cousins and their families along with my aunts and uncles, have blessed us over and over again.  They've provided numerous meals. Giftcards for whatever we may need.  Brownies and cookies and treats.  We had help with new floors for the kitchen and living room.  We got help with our computers. Whatever needs we've had, they've been met.  

We're feeling so blessed by so many.




Here is another small sample of gifts and thoughtfulness that have streamed through my door:

Thank you Konvalin family for the courage bracelet with the breast cancer ribbon on it.  I love how dainty it is and I am happy to wear courage as a reminder of who I want to be.  


How sweet is this angel?  Thank you Stavenger family for all you do to continue to bless me! 



I was up before the sunrise the other day, with Rick out of town I was in charge of all the morning duties.  These beautiful flowers arrived the afternoon before- but I awoke to the sun starting to stream in through the window and I got to seem them in all their glory.  Thank you to the Moilanen family for their continued thoughtfulness!! 






I have had some pretty amazing emails and phone calls as of late with more things to come in the following weeks and months… 

God's blessings to you all as we prepare to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus!  








22 comments:

  1. My dear Vicky,
    I wish you and your beloved ones a merry and peaceful christmas. "May your days be merry and bright"
    All the best for you...hugs and kisses,
    Barbara

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    Replies
    1. Barbara- so perfectly said and I wish the very same to you and yours!

      Hugs to you!

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  2. So happy with you, sweet friend! I am looking forward to our New Year's coffee! Until then, enjoy your family and thinking up your word for 2014! XXOO Merry Christmas!

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    1. Ahhh- yes the word- the word! No pressure, right? Coffee and lots to talk about in the New Year- I too look forward to that! Merry Christmas friend!

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  3. I remember our family gatherings over the years at Christmastime and birthdays. They looked a lot like yours with aunts, uncles and cousins filling whichever house we were celebrating at. Merry Christmas a very blessed New Year, dear friend! xxoo

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    1. Merry Christmas to you and yours Eileen!! Lots of love and wishes for a blessed New Year as well!

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  4. What a great post vicky ! Hope you keep feeling better and enjoy the holidays with your family.
    xoxoxoxo
    Merry Christmas !!

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    Replies
    1. Merry Christmas to you and yours Vic!

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  5. Oh how wonderful! do you realize...some people DONT have cousins??? My mom was a only child...my husband is a only child...so cousins are few and far between....this made my heart smile...I didn't realize until this moment...as big as my family is...we lack on the cousin spectrum!
    Merry Merry Christmas Vicky Dear... May all your dreams come true! Hugs and love!

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    1. I am blessed with family Peggy Sue- on both sides- I have 13 cousins on my father's side of the family. Rick has even more!! Merry Christmas to you and yours Peggy Sue!

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  6. Replies
    1. Merry Christmas to you and yours Karen!

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  7. Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you, sweet friend.
    Love,
    Jackie

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    Replies
    1. Merry Christmas to you and yours Jackie! Blessings in the New Year as well! Love you friend!

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  8. Replies
    1. Merry Christmas to you Ana Cristina!

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    2. :-)

      ┊ ┊ ┊
      ┊ ┊ ★
      ┊ ☆

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  9. Wishing you and all of your family a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! Hugs to all from Illinois!

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  10. You have captured the special bond of cousins so very well. I, too, remember traveling to Jamestown, or Mandan, or Killdeer, ND to spend time with my dear cousins. It's a bond that is just "there" - you never have to work at it. I am so glad you got to spend some time with your cousins, creating yet another memory and just enjoying being together with those who truly know and love you.

    I continue to hope and pray that all is going well. I'm praying for NED, but also that you are feeling well and enjoying the love of your family and friends this holiday season.

    I am looking at a beautiful vase on our coffee table that says "grateful for simple blessings". What a lovely reminder of the true meaning of everything in this life. I love it so much! Thank you!!!

    Wishing you and your family all the very best this Christmas. You are always in my thoughts and prayers!!!

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  11. Vicky,
    As one of the cousins, I can say you capture it perfectly-every time you write about it-whatever "it" is. Thanks so much for bringing the memories back to life.!
    Happy Happy Holidays to you!!
    Cherri Z

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  12. Loved this post and especially the picture of you as a little girl. I swear, Vicky, you look the same. Maybe a FEW changes but that same twinkle and mischievous grin. And I've been reading about the cousin time since nearly the beginning, I think, and I continue to love it and admire you all for making it happen.

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  13. I wash catching up on your blog entries after Anne V sent me over to your blog. Feeling very connected with you (I'm a 15-yr survivor but had only a lumpectomy, lymphnodes and radiation) tho my cancer was not aggressive. Still...it is life-changing.
    Then I came across the uff-da and lutefisk and figure you're norwegian and living up in Minn or there abouts. Actually my heritage is German, Swedish, Irish and Canadian French but I have Norweigan relatives and friends. And You reminded me of home. I'm an Army wife (retired now after living in 14 homes in 20+ years) and living now in Fort Worth. So I miss my home and family, espec at this time of year.
    Anyway, you gave me a sweet trip back thru my memories this evening, Vicky. Thanks, and God bless you.

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