This past week we celebrated two special birthdays in our family–my niece and nephew Arya and Alex!

Happy seventh birthday, Arya!

Arya is the oldest of the Boltz cousins. From the time she was born until she was two, I got to see her multiple times a week. She called me “Aunt Yiz,” and I introduced her to the music of Mika and David Bowie. At the time, all I needed to do to cheer her up from a bad mood was grab my phone and play the “Let’s Dance” ringtone. I’m not sure that she’s still interested in either of those musicians, but she definitely has things in her life that she just loves. Specifically, animals (and has an encyclopedic knowledge of many of them) and art. It makes sense that she has artistic talent–after all, her mom Karen is an incredibly skilled artist and photographer. Her skills are really impressive, though. I can’t tell you how many times I have picked up a drawing at her house and said, “Wait, WHAT? She drew this?!” Arya is also sweet with Ruthie, who adores her and would follow her anywhere. Watching them play together is adorable and funny.

Happy fourth birthday, Alex!

Alex is the second oldest cousin in the family. He is funny, rambunctious, smart, and rough-and-tumble. He’s the kind of kid who goes and goes and goes until he crashes, and he’s so cute when he crashes. I have seen him asleep in his mom or dad’s arms countless times, usually after some busy day when he just couldn’t be bothered to slow down or take a rest. He plays with Ruthie, too, and is starting to figure out that you have to play a little differently with your little girl cousin than you would a neighbor or friend or big sister. These days, they play nicely together, rather than the two of them stealing toys from each other and crying about how unfair the other is. It’s a big, pleasant improvement. I lived in New Hampshire when Alex was born in Indiana, and I’m so glad that I got to move home early enough in his life to get to know him as a little boy, not just as a big kid.