the far-away aunt.

I have one niece (Ally) and two nephews (Cameron and Jake). One I've known since the day he was born, and two joined our family unofficially a few years ago, then officially in April when my sister Katie and her boyfriend Vince got married.

Katie and Vince decided to have (relatively) small ceremony in April, then celebrate with a big barbecue/reception in their backyard this weekend. Since I'll be in town for the party, and since I couldn't be home for his actual birthday, Jake and I have a breakfast date Saturday morning.

Its hard, being an aunt from far-away. I lived near Katie when Jake was born and for the first three years of his life, and leaving him was hardest thing about moving a few hours away. In fact, he's the only person I cried about missing. I loved being a part of his day-to-day life, and even though I see and talk to him often, its weird not being able to first-hand picture some of those milestones.

When Vince and Ally and Cam became part of our family, that was difficult in an entirely different way. With them, I had to try to get to know them, and let them know me, but only in a few snippets of time here and there. I'd often go months without seeing them, just because my trips home didn't line up with their weekends with their dad.

I make it a point to spend time with them when we're in the same place, when we're all there or here. Its the in-between times that are tricky. I'd love to pour into their lives every day, but it requires a lot more intention when our lives don't intersect on their own.

That's why I'm thinking about making this birthday-date thing a habit - a chance for one-on-one time with each of them, as close to their birthdays as we can make it work.

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