Saturday, October 09, 2010

Our Favorite Dude and His Awesome Family

Before Bird House, Garage Mahal, before Tree House, before El Rancho... way, way, way a long time ago there was Neptune, the little cottage by the sea. And I do mean little. Grandma and Grandpa lived with us, and when we needed to destruct and reconstruct seventy-five percent of the little house, we called my cousin Gabriel, and his buddy Bryan, and they came to live with us and help with the work. They got around town on skateboards, subsisted on Juanita's burritos, and earned the absolute adoration of William and Alex, who dubbed them The Dudes.

The Dudes were epic, cool, awe inspiring heroes of my young sons' lives. In the time they spent with us, first in a tent, then sharing the room with Alex and William, our kitchen was gutted, the outside walls were torn out, the carport was demolished, the fence replaced, the sewer main updated, windows ripped out and replaced... every project made way for a new project, and the 1200 sf abode was transformed over about a year. In the same year, Max was born. Did I mention we were in two bedrooms, with one bathroom, and no kitchen? But no matter how tight the quarters, no matter the chaos, William and Alex were never dismayed or distraught so long as they had The Dudes around.

And. I can honestly say I miss those days. The Dudes were family, dear family.

And. Time passed. People moved. Gabe married. And then...

Ashlie and Gabe had Katalina.

And. Time passed. People moved. And then...

Ashlie and Gabe had Austin.

And now our favorite Dude was a family man, and we were living far apart, and more time passed.

And our WAM grew to a WAMMO when Maria joined our family.

This week Gabe and Ashlie and their little dudes came to California for sunny days at the beach, and meeting family, and vacation revelry. For goodness sake, why did this take so long?!! How could we have let so many years pass without getting together sooner? No matter... the easy fun and happy time we spent together, it was as though no time had passed, and we were long friends since for always.

My surfin', skatin' cousin's dream come true: His beautiful family in wetsuits and loving long days in the Pacific Ocean. I adore this picture, and the wonderful way it reflects who they are, and the good time we were having.

We had so much fun. The children were instantly the best of friends, sharing plans and toys, and laughter. Katalina and Austin, being eight and seven respectively, were inspiring, caring companions to their younger cousin Maria. They played together so sweetly, there was nothing left for us to do, but join the fun, or at least sit back and enjoy.

This is a darling boy. He can do cartwheels. He drew amazing pictures of his family at the beach, snorkeling, in the tide pools. He showed us his walking handstands, and this grin, which is so much like his daddy's that I am transported back to 1980-something when Gabe was a little dude.

If I wrote this post yesterday I would have gone in to great detail about the amazing change of tide, when the weather turned from a cold and wet autumn, to crystal clear and sun drenched summer weather. The waves were boogie board perfect, and then the tide went down and there was marvelous beach combing! If it were yesterday... but now I can only think how sad I am that they have already left. I am sad. Maria is devastated.

Sweet Austin. We love you.

Dear Katalina. We love you.

Serene and graceful, so like her mommy, Katalina was a patient, willing friend. She and Maria, and Austin were never far apart... whether drawing, or surfing they happily played together. She dances, and draws. Easy going, like Austin. It was simply a pleasure to be in her company, and hearing her stories. I am going to wait and see if a book comes of Pepper's Big Adventure! *wink*

My cousin Gabe is smart and so nice, funny too. In nineteen years of parenting, it never once occurred to me get my babes in wetsuits. Gee whiz... keep them warm in the surf? I thought blue lips, goosebumps, and trembling were just the price you paid for a day at the beach! Lucky kids, Gabe was on the job. He rented them wetsuits, and I doubt any of my children has ever had a more comfortable California beach day. Plus: Little dudes in Wetsuits = Super Adorable.

See? Little dudes in Wetsuits = Super Adorable.

They said "pass" to amusement parks and only ever wanted the beach. Beach. Beach. Beach! We were so relieved the sun shined.

They soaked up as much of the Pacific as they could, teaching Maria how to catch a wave, sharing their boards. Thumbs up.

Katalina and Austin took turns sharing the two boards with Maria. Ashlie and Gabe took turns watching all three children when (three times) I left the beach to do school/camp pick-ups! Gabe made the food run, the sand-toy run, the wetsuit run... the in and out of the surf runs, and I think he even surfed! Ashlie looked like a totally natural dudette! easily jumping waves and wrestling wetsuits and sticky sand off the kids.

Well. They are headed back to Colorado. Sigh. Can you guess where we are eager to get to? Maria wants to be in the company of her bestest friends as soon as possible. Oh dear. Even now she has teared up again. I hear her telling Alex, in her saddest small voice, of her heartache. My heart aches too. I already miss our favorite dude and his awesome family.


Rois said...

Hooray for Cousins! We were recently reunited with some lost but now found cousins and it has been the best thing in a long time.We all just instantly bonded and it is so good.

I hope you guys make it to Colorado soon.

Alison said...

Wow, what a memorable good time. And what a good-looking, fun family. I miss them too! :D

dizzy_izzy said...

Sounds like an amazing time with some great people! Hope you guys make it out to CO soon to see the Dudes!

CarrieMarie said...

I love hanging out w/ my cousins, too! Looks like everyone had fun fun fun! : )

Laura Jane said...

Wow what a fabulous family of dudes!

I can see why you would miss them.

Wetsuit rental - who knew? GREAT idea Dude!

mtnchild said...

What a wonderful visit you all had. I can definitely see a trip to Colorado coming up next summer ... or sooner? Have Maria write letters/pictures to the Dudes. I'm sure they will enjoy them, and I know Maria can draw pics of the beach and everyone playing...

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

We miss them!
Maria has a stack of letters already!
There really is something exceptional about cousin play.