When the cousins came

One of my favorite books children’s book is called When the relatives came by Cynthia Rylant

This is a delightful story about how aunts and uncles and cousins all travel in one big station wagon from Virginia. They fill the house with laughter, hugs, and fun!

This week my sister Molly and her 3 kids came to stay at our house from Monday nap time to Wednesday nap time( read here blog post here) . That is 7 kids 7 and younger in one space.  We had our own little version of when the relatives came.

Here are a few things we did when the cousins came.


  • Played with indoor toys: dollhouse, bug trucks, lego cars, etc….
  • Reading books in the shade
  • Crying
  • Girls playing Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Random people getting hurt
  • More crying
  • Henry decided that he didn’t like Molly holding Amelia
  • Spotting hot air balloons
  • Went for a walk in the field.( Chris mowed in walking paths)
  • Had watermelon for dessert
  • Fed chickens watermelon scraps
  • girl sleepover with Anne in their room


  • Meet more cousins and aunts in the park to watch a play ( Read Ashley’s Blog post here)
  • Eat a picnic by the park’s flower beds
  • Celebrate Darin’s 16th birthday
  • Try not to lose children in the sunken garden
  • Laugh, smile and be oh so happy for family
  • Go swimming in the indoor pool
  • Meet cousin Ross- bonus helper at the pool
  • Swim, warm up in towels, rebound, swim some more
  • Confuse Henry about who is mother is (Darn those sisters they all look alike)
  • Snack time
  • Naps in car rides home
  • Transition video for the tired
  • More indoor playing
  • The Anne and Norah put on a play.
  • Playing on the swing set and doing trains down the slide
  • Put REALLY tired children and parents to bed


  • Catch up day
  • Quiet self play indoors
  • Kickball game with Aunt Molly
  • Over an hour of the girls playing baby dolls and house
  • Boys were wearing fire hats and playing with cars!
  • Lunch
  •  & Goodbyes

I texted my sister  after she left that these days are really hard as a mom ( the crying,  the feeding, the whining , the hurts and the fights) but they are the best( everything else:)!!

Family, Kids

The Little Cousins

In my family there is an age gap of 15 years between my eldest brother and my youngest sister. Growing up we were spaced out and that translated into many years of grandchildren for my parents and now my mom.

My younger sister Molly and I have birthed a little tribe of children and it’s always an adventure when we get together. This week Molly and her three children came over to meet Amelia. They all wanted to hold her while she was still so small and new.  That meant that we had a very fun and excited group of 7 kiddos. Aged the following ( 5 days, 10 months, 2 years, 3 years , 4 years, 5 years, and 7 years).

The day was fun, sweaty, loud, filled with play, dirt, injury and lots of cousin love.

They played hard until then sun went down and way past tired boundaries. Leeland kept getting hurt every 10 minutes and we ended the day with a text to Aunt Laura to ask about signs of a concussion. We were in the clear but boy do boys play hard.

Funny things:

  • Leeland said,” oh cute! Now Henry has a baby friend!”

  • Watching Leeland Henry and Peter all sit around Amelia

  • Anne wore her dress that Grandma Wilken made and soon all three of the girls came down in their matching dresses.

Next Time There Will Be One More

Last week we took the opportunity to do a little traveling. The motivation behind the trip to my mom’s house and to the cabin was the fast approaching due date of this little baby on June 9th. We knew that the next time we travel to Grandma Wilken’s house and Grandma and Grandpa Maloney’s Cabin there will be one more.

there will be one more little cousin in the mix when my sister and I get together

the adults will be that much more outnumbered

a baby’s schedule will dictate our schedule a bit more

6 hour trips to the cabin won’t be able to be made in the truck

less sleep will be had by Chris and I

we will be maxing out the number of people that should sleep together in one room unless you are Pa and Ma Ingalls living in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.


there will be a little one to cuddle, love, and hold

At Grandma Wilken’s House Leeland got to ride along with Uncle Bryan on the mower and pick up sticks. I gave tons of Rhino ATV rides to all the little cousins.  Mom, Molly and I took the kids swimming at the hotel pool on a particularly cold day.  We did played Easter games, read Easter books,  and played hard.  We packed up and went home only to repack and get ready to go to the cabin.  My philosophy is that if you are going to disrupt the normal schedule you might as well put it together in one week.

The next day we packed up for the cabin with Chris.  Grandma and Grandpa Maloney where up and ready to greet us when we arrived at the cabin! The weather was beautiful for this time in April. The ice was off the lake so Chris and Grandpa could put in the dock.  We visited the Head Waters Science Center in Bemidji, MN. We got in for free with our Science center membership.  There was animals to hold and look at.  It was a simple afternoon of fun.  For the first time we also got to experience a beautiful Easter Morning up at the lake. We visited a small church, with a nice short service on Easter morning. We played at parks, and ended the day playing rounds of Skip-bo. It was a pretty perfect week if you ask me. And next time there will be one more!!


48 hours in Albert Lea

Last week we got to spend a 48 whole hours in Albert Lea visiting my sister Molly and her family in their new house.  We had five kids under the age of six. We packed a lot into those days and made the most of them! Here are some of the highlights

  1. Jumping in a Leaf Pile-  On one of the days it was about 4:00 and starting to get dark but we loaded everyone up in the vans and drove a few minutes away to a park. Norah fell asleep on the way over. They played for a few minutes on the equipment but what they really enjoyed was making a leaf pile and jumping in it.  Molly only has trees with needles on it and I only have leaves with Chicken poop on them. So everyone enjoyed a clean pile of freshly fallen oak leaves.
  2. Amazing Story Time at Albert Lea’s Library- Their library only took a few minutes to get to from Molly’s house (the girls said it was a short trip!) It overlooks the lake and is right by Fire station so we got to see a huge new firetruck through the window.  I had heard my sister rave about all the things that their story time does. It was like a free mini preschool.  Songs, felt poems, learning about order, shapes, numbers, colors, fall theme. We read stories about squirrels, did shaky eggs,  had a snack and made squirrel crowns. AMAZING!!!!!!!
  3. Making cut out Sugar Cookies- We knew we were going to have a tea party and so Molly premade some sugar cookie dough. Monday I helped kids roll it out and cut. Then we baked them. Tuesday morning we had a frosting party and they were rock stars at frosting cookies. We ate them with our tea party, and yes, they didn’t have to wait until dessert to try them:)
  4. Our November Poetry Tea Party- This was a huge success and it was all due to my mom. Last month we had started doing Poetry and Tea Monthly for school. I told my mom that we were going to try to have a tea party at Molly’s. Here is her text that she wrote back: ” Okay I got the scoop on the tea party. I will bring finger sandwiches and cubed cheese and apples to slice up, fancy tablecloth, fancy dishes for the girls. The boys get plastic. Small teapot for hot cider if some want that stead of cocoa. Molly wanted me to bring grandma’s book of poems and will bring What a busy day, many nice poems with pictures for this age. Sounds like fun.”  We had the table all ready to go before story time and then Peter slept through our tea party.  Anne got to try hot cocoa for the first time and sipped it before Molly had a chance to get the hot water.  Mom brought our special tea party swords to stab cheese and fruit. Leeland ate a whole container of raspberries with that sword.   After a few minutes of eating Norah said, “Aren’t we suppose to be reading Poetry?” Molly had Yo Yo Ma playing in the background and read poems from Shel Silverstein.  It was perfect, memorable and will be hard to top!
  5. Making Celebration Crowns- Molly and I are both in MOPS this year and part of our theme is “Celebrate Lavishly”. We decided to make crowns to celebrate that we had gotten together every month this past year.  I printed off thumb nail pictures  from each month and we added them to the crowns that Molly made and labeled each with the month.  The kids loved to wear them throughout the time there. It is a sweet remembrance of our time together over this last year!
  6. Going to Molly’s Sing n Sprout Class- My sister teaches a Chrisian music class in Albert Lea. We got to go to her last class. It was so much fun. I was out in the hallways most of it handling Leeland and Norah Meltdowns. But other than that.. a great way to end the 48 hour trip!
  7. Playing- Playing at a new space with cousins, watching different cousins pair off and play or help each other.  Yes, there were bad attitudes or crying but for the most part that’s pretty normal as our days go.  It’s fun to play in someone else’s backyard or read a book and sit on someone else’ s lap.  When we first got there all my kids wanted to hold Peter. Leeland even sat down and patted on his lap to have Peter sit there. It was precious.
  8. Mothering together – Molly and I both quickly noticed how much easier the day was when you have a fellow Mother by your side. Someone to help clean up while the other plays with the kids, someone to talk to and craft with, someone to have patience when you no longer do. It was a blessing to be able to do that and can’t wait to see them all next week for Thanksgiving!

A Year with the Cousins

Family is important. I love my family, my extended family, my siblings, cousins, mom and so on.  I remember that after Dad died lots of people would comment on the Wilken Family.  They would mention how lucky we were or comment about our closeness. My response in my head is always, “it’s all about choices!” People have lots of choices.  We have choices on how to spend our time and who to spend it with.  That year after my dad died the Wilkens were together a lot.  We gathered together for almost all major holidays, including a trip to the Wisconson Dells, birthday gatherings, 1st birthdays parties, July 24th, and weekends to Fairmont to help around the farm.  We choose to spend that time together, loving, and helping each other.

I think during that year my sister Molly and I realized how important it was to make sure that our little kids had “cousin time”.  We saw how much our little ones ( ages: 3, 1 1/2, 8 months) remembered and knew each other because we had spent the time to get together. They would call them on their pretend phone. They would recognize them from pictures.  They would want to skype with them.  They did these things because we spent the love language of little ones: TIME.

I wanted to take time and reflect on the past year, as Molly and I got the children together every month to see each other.  I was going to try to just put one picture of all the cousins from each month. However, they are never all in the same picture and they are just so dang cute it was hard to pick just one picture.  So without further delay here is our Year with the Grimmius cousins –with lots and lots of pictures!

A visit to Albert Lea to go to Molly’s Sing and Sprout Class. First we stayed in Fairmont with Grandma and then we drove over to Albert Lea to let the kids go to the music class she teaches. The girls loved to join in and Leeland and Peter both napped through the class.  Then we went to Molly’s house for an indoor picnic, and playtime. They played dress up with all the fun clothes, read books in Anne’s room and had a ball!

Christmas With the Wilkens and Anne turns 2! That was a very fun Christmas.  Lots of little ones. We did a cousin gift exchange, we went bowling with everyone. we took a tour of Uncle Larry’s Bike Shoppe. Anne turned the big TWO!

Molly come with Anne and Peter and stayed at our house from Monday Naptime to Wednesday Naptime. Big highlight was going swimming at night in the LuVerne pool! Blog Post Here!


Girls Weekend in Fairmont. We met for a day in Fairmont and my sisters, mom and sister-in-law , and Peter made our own silver bracelets.  It was something that I’ll never forget. Chris and Ryan watched our kiddos for us while we were gone!


A meet up with Molly and I and the kids at Grandmas House.  Usually March tends to get long. We all are itching for Spring and Summer and lot so gross motor play.  Grandma also pays for us to go and swim in the Holiday Inn Pool.  This year Uncle Bryan came and we celebrated his birthday. It was Bryan and the five little kiddos five and under. We also noticed that Anne was starting to want to play with the big girls and Leeland noticed that Peter was sort of interesting to play with.

Molly and the kids and Mom came over to see Ashley in her musical.  We got to babysit Peter while they went to the show.  We had a great time.  Molly and the kids slept downstairs and Lillian gave Grandma her bed to sleep in.  On the way home we went swimming in LuVerne.


This month the Wilken Family gathered at the Hawkin’s house to celebrate cousin Logan’s graduation from High School.  The kids enjoyed a big bowl of M&M’s and Peanuts (minus the peanuts) . There was even a Soft ball game and cute little cheerleaders! Then the next day we went swimming in the LuVerne Pool swimming with the Grimmius Family.



Peter’s Birthday Party and Dedication in Albert Lea.  I took the kids with me and went to Fairmont for the weekend.  Then early on Sunday morning we left the house to go to Church to see Peter Dedicated and have his birthday party.

Wilken Weekend in Fairmont .  This year some fun memories was seeing all the little kids in the kiddy pool that mom bought, watching Leeland show his cousin Peter how to put rocks in a bucket of water, and  watching trying to watch the fireworks with 5 little kids on the edge of a lake embankment. Blog post here


This month was back to back weeks of Fun in Fairmont.   The week of the 14th I went to Fairmont with the kids and helped mom while Molly and Ryan moved.  I met Molly on the interstate and picked up Anne and Peter. It was a funny exchange.  Peter slept. Anne and I listened to music.  We did Rhino rides and played with cousin Ross.  Then Ross met both of our families at the beach so the kids could go jet skiing with him. It was just one of those perfect days. It was beautiful out and your twenty something nephew wanted to hang out and play with his little cousins. It made this momma’s heart proud!



The Martin County Fair was amazing this year. The kids did tons of rides.  Spent endless hours in the Agricultural Learning Building, where they played in a huge pit of corn.  Lillian and Norah drove Anne and Leeland in a little ATV haybale race.  Leeland even made it into the Newspaper.  Lots of memories this year from the Fair.  Read Molly’s fun Fair post here.

Lillian turned 6 years old.  We met in LuVerne to celebrate at a park.  The Grimmius family also made the journey over.  Favorite memories from this day were: watching Leeland and Anne play. They would go up the play equipment and then wait for each other at the top and then slide at the same time.  If one of them got their first they waited for the other, the kids also worked their way through the vast play equipment in the park. We started the day at one side and then ended at the other. Leeland, Anne and Peter loved the little horse merry-go-round.

We went to Fairmont to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday.  The only present she requested was to have a picture of all of her grandkids all together! Mission accomplished.



The kids and I went over to Albert Lea to stay at the Grimmius house.  We hadn’t gotten a chance to see their new house yet and we were all excited to celebrate a whole year of cousin time.  We stayed from 1:00 on Monday to 1:00 on Wednesday.  Some of of the highlights included: Making celebration cousin crowns, going to Library story time, poetry tea party with Grandma, walks, parks, and going to Molly’s Sing-n-Sprout class. (Blog post here)