One of my fondest memories as a child were of summertime. Each summer, my siblings and I would spend one week with my cousins at their house in Ohio. It was always so much fun. I remember counting the days until we were all together again. We would go to Kings Island (an amusement park near Cincinnati), hike along old Indian trails, play games inside of the gymnasium at Cedarville College (now Cedarville University) where my uncle was a professor, catch lightning bugs outside at dusk, play hide and seek in their yard. The goods times were seemingly endless. And then we would switch. My parents would come pick up my siblings and me and take my cousins home with us where the fun would begin all over again. Except for some reason it was always more fun to be at my cousins’ house. New environments are always more fun, I think, than the same old familiar one. For a while anyway.

Now that I am a mom, I am making it a purpose that for at least a few days each summer, I take my older nephew and nieces (Ryan who is almost 15, Becca who is 13 1/2, and Elizabeth who will be 7 in August) and keep them with me. We play in whatever way we can and my own kids (Molly, age 7 tomorrow and TJ age 6 on July 27) are starting to expect it too. But I’m still not sure who enjoys it more: the kids or me!

This year, my brother (the father of Ryan, Becca & Elizabeth) and his wife, Ann, kept my kids for two days. It was the first time and my brother loved it. I was thrilled. My brother also has 2 younger children, Maggie, aged 4 1/2 and Nathaniel who just turned 4 in May. They are both Down Syndrome babies. Maggie is their birth child and Nathaniel was adopted from Ukraine in December of 2003. So my brother & his wife have their hands full 5 times over. The 2 oldest are very active in tennis, band camps, mission trips, gymnastics, pageants, etc. The 2 “babies” (as we call them) are in to everything and are true partners in crime. So it meant the world to me that my brother and his wife willingly kept my kids for 2 days…and actually enjoyed it!

Now I am going to make it a solid tradition I think. Summer time = Family Exchange time. I can’t think of a better way to pass the lazy summer days away!

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