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Learning Laboratory: Family

Lily, ecstatic to be holding my sister's newborn son

I’m a huge fan of educational books, toys, and outings. But some of the best learning happens through day-to-day interactions with family. I loved seeing my children learn from family members during our trip to Utah last month, and here are some of the highlights:

  • Watching my usually reserved children jump into play with their cousins, whom they hadn’t seen for over a year.
  • Lily’s delight over my sister’s newborn son, and her attempts to educate both of my sisters with babies on the proper care (from a toddler’s perspective) of the very young.
  • Seeing how quickly my children were able to learn and recall the names of all 20 relatives we were staying with (my parents, nine siblings, four nephews, two nieces, and three in-laws), as well as my four grandparents.
  • Hearing Emma correctly identify the various musical instruments (violin, viola, and cello), and watching her play her first game of chess. She has played several chess games with Mike since coming home!
  • Johnny’s absolute delight in snowball fights with his uncles and dad.

We also took the kids down to the ranch where one of my sisters is living, and they got to pet a real live horse, see some cows, and learn just how stubborn a calf can be! I learned a few things also:

  • I can still play the violin, and should probably try to play mine more (once I replace its broken bridge).
  • The delight of the three ladies sitting in the front row at the care center where my grandpa is recovering from a botched hip replacement is well worth facing my inadequacies regarding my violin-playing.
  • My family is awesome. Well, I already knew it, but it’s true.
  • Travel with children is exhausting, but worth it.

What does your family teach you?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

17 thoughts on “Learning Laboratory: Family”

  1. You know, I was just sitting here thinking, “wow, I can’t believe Lily holds a baby like that”, and then I realized my Jack was only one month older than Lily in the above picture when Jesse came home. Time passes so fast Mary Anne!

    This is a super sweet picture. I like it so much.

  2. Elisa | blissfulE

    What a wonderful reflection on your family holiday! It sounds like your preparation before the trip – putting names to faces – paid off with your kids quickly jumping into play and remembering all those names. How exciting that Lily is so into babies, that Emma enjoys chess, and that you’ll be putting your violin back into commission! :)

  3. joyce:waddleeahchaa.com

    My Dad taught me to play the piano and now he is teaching my grandson, his great-grandson. Music is such a big part of our family! Thanks for visting us and good luck on winning the 2011 books, charts and stickers giveaway. joyce :)

  4. How exciting that your kids get to interact with all relatives frequently. It must be very fun to come from such a big family (spoken from a single child point of view :))

  5. Wonderful post, MaryAnne – you always have such a great outlook on everything! I’d be hunting for a hole to climb into and some aspirin to keep me company there. :) Thanks for a great reminder of how important and great family really is! That picture of Lily is priceless – she’s an adorable girl!

  6. There really are a wide assortment of things to be learned from family. Sounds like an amazing trip

    1. @Christy – I’m afraid I’m not very good; a few of my sisters play really well, though!

      @Jenny – Emma wasn’t into babies, either. It’s very fun to see Lily’s enthusiasm!

      @Natalie – I think many of the benefits of growing up in a large family come in adulthood, although I did enjoy it as a child also. Mike’s from a family of two, and it’s an equally lovely but very different kind of family – different benefits and different drawbacks.

  7. That picture is too cute! Abby was never into babies and would keep her distance for the most part.

    I am so glad you all were able to go see the family and make such great memories!

    1. @Quadmama – Lily LOVED Baby A – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a child quite so taken with a baby!

  8. Two Chicks and a Hen

    My kids are having their family learning laboratory right now :). It’s amazing how quickly they warm up to family even after not seeing them for a very long time.

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