Today I am thankful for my nieces and nephews.

I love kids. Jen and I have been working with kids, together and individually, for a very long time. Of course, we have our own kids, but we have also taken great delight in our nieces and nephews.

I remember vividly when our first nephew, Christopher, was born in 1996. Jen and I were housesitting for my sister and her husband while they were at the hospital. Chris is now, unbelievably, sixteen years old. He has become a monster of a young man, at slightly under eight feet tall. I exaggerate, but he is seriously tall, like his dad. I love that Chris and I can talk about nerdy things like PHP and JavaScript and CSS.

Chris’s younger brother is Ben, who was born a few months after my daughter. Ben was built like a barrel as a baby, and I predicted he would be a linebacker. I wasn’t too far off, as he is definitely an athlete, although he prefers baseball and basketball. But, lest you think he’s just a jock, I’ve never seen anyone dominate the Nintendo Wii the way Ben can. That and Bop It. Watching Ben play Bop It can be a zen experience.

My niece Emmi was born shortly after Jonathan moved in with us. I take great pride in having been Emmi’s favorite between Jen and me. Any time the extended family was together, Emmi would see me across the room upon arrival and shout, “Uncle Brad!” before making a beeline straight to me. That used to drive Jen crazy since she’s used to being any kid’s favorite person. I honestly think it’s because I’m bald and I was easier to pick out across a crowded room.

Which brings us to Cate, Emmi’s younger sister. She definitely stands in contrast to her sister. Where Emmi is bold and adventurous, Cate is more reserved. Where Emmi is rough and tumble, Cate is (usually) more gentle and delicate. She’s a beautiful child, and she has a wonderfully adorable voice that can alternately bring me to laughter and tears.

Naturally, I love my own kids with all my heart. But these four – Chris, Ben, Emmi, and Cate – I love them, too.

I am thankful for my nieces and nephews.

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