The Adventures of Kiki & Coco

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This weekend I found myself traveling to Memphis alone, not for an assignment, not for editorial research, but to spend time with one of my oldest—and dearest—friends and her two little girls. Oh, and they all just happen to be related to me, which is just an added benefit. Plus, they’re about as cute as they come.

What can I say? Our family produces pretty, curly-haired babies. Smart ones, too. Here’s what McKayla said she was going to do with the $25 birthday money her “Big Daddy” (my 90-year-old grandfather) sent her this week for her fourth birthday.

While my sole sibling, Kari, was six years younger than me—a favorable age difference, if you ask me—I still enjoyed the benefit of having another “sister,” Rebecca, who was more or less my same age. My mom’s only brother had twins who were just a year ahead of me in school, and seeing as my grandparents lived down the street from us growing up, the three other grandchildren frequently came to town for holidays and summer breaks.

I could never say Rebecca’s name as a child, so from the time we were toddlers, she became “Coco,” and my name proved too difficult for her to pronounce as well, so I was always “Kiki.” We still go by these monikers today, much to McKayla’s dismay. “Stop calling my mommy ‘Coco!'” she demanded of me this weekend. I said sorry kid, but that’s never going to happen.

We may have had our squabbles when we were wee tots—or rather, Coco, who still is on the edge of being vertically challenged at 4 feet and 11 inches, was wee; I was always abnormally tall for my age until I hit fifth grade—usually over Putt-Putt or some other equally competitive endeavor like vying for our Dede’s attention, but we were the best of friends from middle school on. I was in her wedding, she would have been in mine had I included a bridal party, and we see each other every chance we get. Now that I’m in Tennessee, those occurrences are more frequent than not: We went to Memphis in December, her family came to our neck of the woods in January, we all went to Bourbon Country in May, I went to them this month, and in July, we’ll all spend a couple weeks at the beach in Florida together.

And now Coco has the cutest children on Earth, McKayla and Margaret—and the most fun husband/kindest dad John—and as he was traveling in Europe for two weeks, I figured I’d pop by for a couple nights and see my favorite girls, as well as provide Coco with some much-needed “adult” company.

And if I’m being honest, I was overdue for some much-needed “girlfriend” time, too.

And we played hard. We drummed. We danced.

We ate PBJs and Goldfish and drank lots of Capri Suns. We tended to the garden.

We—OK, they (otherwise it’s a little bit weird)—ran around naked in the front yard. As Coco scolded them, “girls, we don’t play outside without our clothes anymore. We live in Germantown now.” Ha! Yuppie.

We watched a whole lot of Yo Gabba Gabba! (I’d still like to meet the drug addict who was high when creating that show. It’s just plain bizarre.) We sang loud—some of us louder than others.

We had pool days. We ate at the girls’ favorite Mexican restaurant “Elmo Cow.” We FaceTimed SVV and Uncle Andrew. Marg and I spent some one-on-one time together while Coco and McK went to see Brave.

We (the adults) drank our signature drinks, Dickel and Drops, after they (the girls) went to bed each night. I wish I could have stayed longer but—vague alert!—there’s a whole lot going on in these parts in the career (and house-hunting) corner. Someday I might share. But not just yet.

And so on Saturday, I drove the four hours back home, delivered the cherry tomatoes that McK grew and picked for SVV and Big Daddy, and got an influx of texts from Coco saying there was one mighty disappointed four year old come 3:01pm when she awoke from her nap. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me the tiniest bit pleased (though sad at the same time, as I wish I could see the girls more frequently or “stay for 10 nights” as McK requested).

Increased family time has been one of the best things about our cross-country move, though I know some of you thought us insane for leaving California for the sticks. (We have not regretted the decision even slightly. Not once.) And since SVV and I don’t want children of our own—to all you skeptics, no we have not changed our minds simply because I love, adore and spoil rotten my surrogate nieces, and no I don’t think you’re going to change our minds for us anytime soon—it’s so nice of Coco and John to offer theirs up for borrow when I am in need of some M&Ms in my life.

  • June 25, 2012

    How sweet!!! It’s so nice to have such a great bond with your cousin and your nieces are so adorable. We are creating our own family bonding time right now in Thailand too. I so wish we live closer to them seeing how much fun my kids have playing with their cousins!

    • June 25, 2012

      Awww, I look forward to reading all about it–and seeing the pictures!–on your blog. I’m hoping you guys have an awesome rest of your trip. Fittingly, I’ll be in the ATL next week while you’re overseas!

  • June 25, 2012
    John Rawlinson

    Just what a homesick Eurotraveler needed! I’m jonesing for some M&Ms and a little hot Coco too!!

    • June 25, 2012

      Um, best band name ever? I think so. “Hot Coco and the M&Ms!” Love it. You so clever.

  • June 25, 2012

    You sound like the most fun aunt ever! And when are ya gonna tell us about these vague career/house/etc goings-on?!

    • June 26, 2012

      Re: house, soon, I promise! Just finished the home inspection and now have the appraisal left, and if that goes through, we will be home owners! I am very concerned about jinxing it, though, as we had one big deal fall through this spring.

      Re: career, at the end of the summer. We are going through an entrepreneur boot camp for the next two months, and once that’s done, I think we will probably be comfortable sharing those plans!

  • June 25, 2012

    Adorable and just enough cuteness to enjoy it and then leave 😉

    • June 26, 2012

      This is why we’re friends–that is precisely my approach to most children!

  • June 25, 2012

    Seriously dying of the cute over here! They are so stinking precious … can’t imagine why you adore them so much 😉 Oh, and CANNOT wait to hear what kind of “news” you’re keeping us in the dark about!

    • June 26, 2012

      Can you imagine Mayhem with them? The Triple Ms = Triple Threats. I kind of need that to happen now that I think about it.

  • June 25, 2012

    Even though I’m sad you’re not here in California anymore, it looks like TN and family are treating you well 🙂 You look very happy.

    • June 26, 2012

      Yes, we are! I think the South suits us just a wee bit better… Though I need to meet LG next time I’m out. Can’t believe that still hasn’t happened!

  • June 25, 2012

    I love this- they are precious! My cousin is one of my best friends as well. Her three year old is the biggest joy! We love him so much it’s ridiculous.

    • June 26, 2012

      I think having (surrogate) nieces/nephews is even better than kids of your own–all the fun and joy, none of the responsibility 😉

  • June 25, 2012

    Sounds like you guys had a great weekend! I love hanging out with my friends’ kids – all the fun, none of the responsibility!

  • June 26, 2012

    Just plain jealous,,,

    • June 26, 2012

      You were invited! You just stood us up =(

  • June 27, 2012

    What a fun weekend with some adorable little girls – It’s nice that you are living closer and able to see more of them now! My family isn’t close by and I love it when we do get together for my girls to hang out with their cousins.

    And don’t let anyone pressure you about having kids if you don’t want them. Kids are a ton of work – physically and emotionally – and having them because it’s what’s expected is definitely not a good idea. You and your husband know what’s right for you and that’s the only opinion that matters!

  • June 27, 2012

    This is precisely why I’m enjoyed my “New York-based” summer so much… indulgent time with loved ones! Of course I’m spending barely any time at all at home… I write this from a hotel room in Iceland!

    PS: Love your child-free lifestyle. I have similar views at the moment but no one really takes it seriously as I’m quite young. Who knows, I might change my mind someday after all so I try not to say anything about my future with too much conviction!

  • June 28, 2012

    Looks & sounds perfect! 🙂

  • June 28, 2012

    Oh my word, these kids are adorable. Kali and I always joke about how terrible it would be if we had a baby and it ended up being ugly (seriously, some babies look like aliens), but that’s probably not even possible because we’re just so dang cute. 😉 ANYway, curly haired kids are the cutest thing ever.

  • July 2, 2012

    Eff yes to surrogate nieces and nephews to spoil in lieu of having our own babies! Best thing ever!

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