Friday, May 30, 2014

Big Families are the Best

There's a lot to love about being part of a big family. I am the fifth of my parents' eight children. Sandwiched between two brothers, I've always been a tomboy. I'm sure that life was an adventure for my parents when we were growing up. With 19 years between the oldest and youngest, there was always something going on.

The oldest and youngest in our family are girls, as are the three of us in between. Because of the age gap, there aren't many old family photos with all of us girls together. This photo was from my wedding in 1975.

This photo of me with my three brothers was also taken at my wedding reception. I look thrilled to be surrounded by the guys of the family!

We have more photos of the three middle sisters taken over the years than of all five sisters. My sisters Kathy and Debbie live near my parents so we get together more often. My oldest sister Sue lives in Hawaii and my younger sister Nancy is in Arizona so we don't see each other very often. This photo was taken in 2011 and is the newest sisters photo in my collection.

My youngest brother Pat also lives near my parents, but my older brother Bob and my younger brother Mike are both in Colorado. The newest brothers photo was taken in May 2014 when all of us siblings were home at the same time.

In a big family, you always have friends to do stuff with. My three brothers were my closest companions when I was growing up. We rode bikes, climbed trees and got into trouble together.

My three older sisters are close together in age. Sue and Kathy are only a year and a few days apart and Debbie was born a couple of months before Kathy's third birthday.

My sister Nancy was born in Alabama. I was in fifth grade at the time and my oldest sister was in her first year of college. Nancy was like a little doll to the rest of us. My sister Debbie gained lots of mothering experience with Nancy that prepared her to be a mom to her five children.

Older siblings teach you new things and take you along for new adventures. Older siblings have got your back if someone tries to bother you, but older siblings also delight in picking on their younger siblings.

Younger siblings are fun to play with and pick on. It's never quiet in a big family, but that's okay. The more, the merrier is what they say and I agree.

Big families grow even bigger when the kids grow up. This family photo was taken in 1997 with all eight of us kids and most of our kids. Debbie had five children, Bob had four, I had three and our youngest three siblings hadn't yet started families.

By the time of our most recent family gathering in 2004, our family population had exploded. Our parents were the grandparents of 24 grandchildren and had one great-grandson at that time. Our jobs and family commitments and the distance we live from each other make it difficult to find a time that works for all come home at the same time.

We often take pictures of my parents with their grandchildren whenever there's a gathering. Here my parents are posing with their two youngest children's kids. Pat's kids are Zach, Tom, Maddie, Katie and Marcus. Nancy's kids are Jordan and Nathan.

Even though my parents' grandkids don't all live close to each other, they love spending time together when they visit. My sister Debbie's youngest daughter Becca is close in age to our youngest siblings' kids. In this photo, Becca poses with Pat's kids and Mike's three kids: Sydney, Nick and Tyler.

As adults, we enjoy spending time together. Seven of the eight of us came home in December 2007 to celebrate a belated Christmas with our parents.

My parents' grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were in town posed for this photo. It's hard to get everyone to look at the camera and even harder to keep the boys from making faces.

Big families really shine during special occasions and events. We were all on hand for our sister Nancy's wedding in 1994. Like many big families, the older siblings in our family helped raise our younger siblings.

Our parents did a great job raising the eight of us. Mom always said that she raised us to be individuals, not peas in a pod. Mom and Dad set wonderful examples for us, teaching us to love one another and to help others. Big families are the best!

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