A few of my tops with Rex

It’s already practically mid-January and the days are disappearing faster than a tray of lemon tarts on Thanksgiving. We try so hard to convince our kids to not fight. Like a few weeks ago during the holidays, my Christmas mantra was, “All I want for Christmas is love, you little rats!”

We had an almost perfect shopping trip one afternoon before Christmas. I had to go to Sam’s Club because we were out of dinner food (hot dogs and chicken nuggets), and lunch food (hot dogs and chicken nuggets), and quite frankly, there was a mammoth sized laundry pile just waiting for me at home. Not ready to climb that mountain.

Miraculously, my four kids joked and laughed the entire way through the store with nary a sassy word. It is possible that this moment of joy was, in part, due to Georgia choosing to ride in the cart and play on my phone.

“Mom,” June said in the paper plate aisle, “Who’s your favorite kid?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” I said, “Definitely Rex.” This was met with a cacophony of dismay.

“What?!” Georgia said, shooting daggers at me. “Oh great. You just HATE me!”

“Wait,” Harry said, “I thought I was your favorite?”

“Stop!” Rex yelled, “Mom, please don’t say that! Just say we’re ALL your favorite kid!”

I smiled at this and looked down into June’s lovely green-eyed, freckled little smiling face, and was delighted to see that she is apparently my only child who is confident in her claim to my heart. “Yeah,” I said to her with a wink, “Definitely Rex.”

My favorite Christmas moment, though, was Christmas Eve when we got to church in Elma and ran into my brother, Steve. “Hi, Rex!” Steve said.

“Oh, ah, hi! Do I know you?”

“Rex,” I said, smiling and nudging him, “This is your Uncle Steve, my brother.”

“Oh,” Rex said to him. “So, are you a Valentine?”

“Rex!” I was feeling embarrassed at this point, “Of course! He’s my brother!”

My sweet autistic 12-year-old, who has not only met his Uncle Steve literally dozens and dozens of times, but even looks like him, looked over at me and said, “Wait, are YOU a Valentine?”

That afternoon Rex and I were up wrapping presents. “Look,” I said, “Let’s just review the family song about your aunts and uncles before the Christmas party tonight.” Years and years ago I made up a simple little ditty to help my littles learn the names of my 10 siblings. It’s worked miracles on family visits.  “Okay, I’ll start you off. First there’s Koni…”

Blank stare.

“Come on,” I said, “next it’s one of my brothers…”

“Hmm,” Rex said, “Otto?”

Otto? OTTO? “No Rex, there is no Otto in our family.” I started to sing the Mommy’s Sibling’s song as a refresher. “Koni, Bart, Bruce and Steve, Marilyn, Kerry–let’s just stop there. Okay, repeat those back to me.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s see here, ah, Koni, Bart, Chris and Steve…” Chris? Really?

“No, Rex, there’s no Chris in our family. It’s Bart and Bruce, no Otto, no Chris.”

Living away from family is tough on the little things, like name recognition. Or just names in general. Either way, in Vegas we live, and for the time being, in Vegas we shall stay. It was sure wonderful to get all those Valentine hugs, though.