Pictures of my nephews (& one of my niece) sleeping

‘I love ____ the really, really most’

When my sister was pregnant with my nephew Adam, I remember thinking, “I’m glad I got to be Isabella’s godmother because she’s obviously cooler than this new kid is going to be.”

Memories of our "horsey ride" through Central Park.
Memories of our “horsey ride” through Central Park.

When my brother and sister-in-law told me they were expecting Nolan, I thought something similar. Well, this new kid can’t possibly be as much fun as Isabella and Adam.

Turns out I was wrong. Twice.

Isabella is awesome. When she was two or three, she made up a little song that went something like this, “I love Candace. I love Candace. I love Candace the really really most.”

When she was about 18 months, she played a little game called “where go?” In which she would open a drawer, toss her teddy bear inside and then ask us, “where go?” If we didn’t respond right away, she’d try again, “Where go bear?” We’d all put our confused faces on until she opened the drawer and produced the bear. “Oh! There’s your bear. You found it. Good job!” She’d beam. And repeat.

Isabella is very grown up. She speaks well. She’s polite and asks how I’m doing when she calls me, but she still acts like a little kid.

"wacking ch-ah, wacking ch-ah"
“wacking ch-ah, wacking ch-ah”

Adam is my cutie muffin. Just recently, Kelly bought mini muffins and Adam asked me for a “cutie muffin.” Yes, you may have a cutie muffin. And a new nickname. But Adam really stole my heart after I visited once. My sister reported that Adam kept asking where Candace went. He told her they needed to drive to New York to see me. Another time, we were at a family gathering and he asked my aunt Sharon to help him find “my Can-nis.” He might have wanted me because I had given him an M&M, but I’m happy to buy “my Adam’s” love with chocolate, if that’s what it takes.

He also sang me “You Are My Sunshine” once. But he doesn’t like it when I call him Sunshine. “Nooo! I not your sunshine. Bella is!”

Almost a year ago, Nolan came along. We mainly have a Skype relationship. Man, is that kid ever cute. He didn’t care so much for me when I visited him in July, but I got to video chat with him on Sunday. He made my ice-cold heart melt when he was chilling on my brother’s lap, drinking his bottle. He was kind of milk drunk, but he kept his eye on me on the laptop screen and waved at me with one chubby little hand while the other gripped his bottle. And he sticks his tongue out. That’s some cute stuff right there.

I will not rest until you like me, Nolan!
I will not rest until you like me, Nolan!

It’s true what they say, with each new love, your heart just grows a little bigger. There’s no finite amount that has to be divided.

Auntie’s buddies

Don't mess with them!
Don’t mess with them!

See these faces? I love them unconditionally. I would do anything for these kids.

They’re also the reasons work has been so difficult for me lately. It was so hard to report the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, look at pictures of 6-year-olds who were killed and not think about my own sweet niece. I wanted to turn off my computer, run to her house and make sure was safe and happy and never sets foot in an elementary school.

He charmed Mama's cousin Kira into giving him a lift.
He charmed Mama’s cousin Kira into giving him a lift.

This weekend, I was at my brother’s house. He had the local city council meeting on TV. Residents were asking the council to put in a stoplight, lower the speed limit on or build a pedestrian bridge over a busy road that separates their neighborhood from the elementary school, gym and playground. A little kid was hit by a car in the dangerous crosswalk recently.

OMG! If a car hit one of my little buddies, Auntie Candace would move to that town, run for mayor and commission the damn stoplight myself! And you know what? If I were mayor everyone who asked for a stoplight or bridge to protect children would get one.

I’ll do anything to make sure those kids know they’re loved (short of moving to rural Maryland or suburban Minnesota). I joke that I buy their love at Toys R Us or Target, but they’re actually pleased on the cheap. The big one is thrilled when grown-ups want to sit on the floor and play ponies with her (it used to be princesses, but she’s over them). The middle one is really too big to be carried, but he knows his auntie will sacrifice her back health to carry him home from the park. Secretly, though, it’s because it’s the only time he cuddles, and he’ll be too big for that soon.

The little one is into peek-a-boo and clapping. He’ll have more sophisticated tastes soon, I’m sure.