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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: Goose Bumps
By Joanne Sher


Kids' feet give me goose bumps. Eyeballing the soft skin on those tiny wiggling toes, smooth arches, and adorable ankles will make me smile for a week. And if I can actually tickle them? Paradise. If, God willing, I ever have my own children, they will only wear socks, much less shoes, when absolutely necessary. Well, at least until they're in school.

That won't be an issue any time soon, though. Despite my youth (really, 40 is NOT old), I'm considered the old maid of the family. I'm sure it's partly because I AM the eldest sibling of the five of us, and the only one without kids of her own. Steve and I tried for years, of course. But then he got sick and went on up to heaven without me a year or so ago (actually, 1 year, 1 month, and 15 days, but who's counting?). So now I'm alone.

Actually, that's not exactly correct. While I am the only human who lives in my home, it is rarely empty. In addition to Slinky the cat (and the half-dozen mice she refuses to catch in the attic - oh, and don't forget the dust bunnies), there is hardly a day when I don't have a little one speeding about my living room, jumping on my bed, or generally pilfering through my things.

With nine nieces and nephews, most preschool aged or younger, I almost always have a sibling with an emergency, crisis, or scheduling conflict that can easily be remedied by Auntie Jen.

Monday afternoons are filled with curls and somersaults (and homemade chocolate chip cookies, of course) when Penny and TJ take over the house while Mom's at her Bible study. We play leapfrog in the living room and tag in the back yard, and then catch our breaths at the kitchen table with a sweet treat and a side of milk. My baby sister Sarah gets her "Bible feeding time," as she calls it, and I get my weekly workout.

Wednesday afternoon is grocery shopping, and Joshua, Cindy and Makayla wouldn't miss it (Their mother, my little brother Kevin's wife, is grateful for that. With her crazy work schedule, plus watching the kids, it's her only time to be by herself). We skip down the grocery aisles, play catch with the boxed items, and pick up plenty of snacks along with the necessities. Makayla lives for putting the goods on the conveyor belt, and Joshua is an expert bagger: for a seven-year-old, anyway.

And then there's Thursday morning, when Lizzie and I have our time together while Elise is at Pilates. We build castles with blocks, play dress-up, read books, and chat (as much as you can with a three-year-old). She's been talking about the new addition to her family a lot lately. Makes me remember I'll have a new one to dote on in a month or so. She seems a bit leery of sharing her parents. Anyway, all I have to do is remind her she'll be staying with me while Mom's in the hospital and her worrying vanishes into a fit of giggles.

Fridays are another matter. I give each of my siblings a date night once a month, so every Friday evening there's a slumber party at Aunt Jen's for one set of kids or another. We watch movies or play games or tell stories, then snuggle up together in sleeping bags in the master bedroom and snore away. The parents generally join us for breakfast the next morning (I've noticed that my brothers and sisters are always smiling wider when they pick them up than they were when they dropped the kids off).

Of course, there are always the emergencies when I watch a handful of nieces for a doctor's appointment or pick some up from preschool (I am probably the only childless adult with an 8-passenger van). When there's a crisis at home or an ER visit is immanent, I'm your man.

People sometimes ask me if I miss having my own children. Sometimes, but I'm not sure I'd necessarily be any happier or fulfilled. No, I may not have my own little ones, but if I did, how would I make time to be Auntie Jen? I have twenty little feet pattering through my house during the average week, and I get to see them all.

Of course, they can't come in unless they leave their shoes - and socks - on the porch. Gives me goose bumps every time.

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This article has been read 1189 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/24/08
What a perfectly delightful aunt. Great story and I love how you toe-tied it together (hehehe).
Sara Harricharan 04/25/08
Awwww! What a cute story! I can hardly imagine twenty-feet pattering barefoot through the house-but you make it sound delightful! Great job! It seems like Auntie Jen is a full-time job, with lasting benefits and memories to boot! ^_^
Martha Davis04/25/08
You sound more like a grandmother! This story is wonderful, and your nieces and nephews are truly blessed!
Debbie Roome 04/25/08
Lovely story and well written.
Laury Hubrich 04/26/08
This one certainly did give me goose bumps! What a great auntie! Very good writing!
Beth LaBuff 04/26/08
I love the "dust bunnies" that keep you from living alone. :) Enjoyed the "side of milk" and the "weekly workout" comments. What an auntů you are every sister's, brother's, niece's, and nephew's dream. I love the image of the aunt with an eight-passenger van. :) I had to smile at your "I'm your man." Fun, fun, funů Can I adopt you?
Yvonne Blake 04/26/08
Bare feet... don't you just LOVE going bare foot? I loved your descriptions.
Patty Wysong04/26/08
I love the voice here--it's great. Totally engaging and so fun. I loved the last two paragraphs and how you tied it all together so nicely. Great job! I loved it!!
Joshua Janoski04/27/08
I loved how your beginning and your ending fit together so nicely. You sound like an awesome aunt, and even though you may not be their mother, I am sure you are having a huge (and positive) impact on your nieces and nephews lives that will help them grow into the adults that God wants them to be.

Wodnerful story. I enjoyed every line of it. :)
Betty Castleberry04/28/08
Aunt Jen is definitely an "A" list aunt. What fun for her nieces and nephews. I'm not sure you need all the parenthesis you've used. I think most of the phrases would be fine as sentences without them. That is very minor, though, because this is a delightful story. I will remember Aunt Jen for a long time.
jodie banner04/28/08
What a blessing you are to youe brothers and sisters. Very well told.
Betsy Markman04/28/08
A very enjoyable read, and the final two-sentence paragraph was absolutely perfect. That's fitting for what sounds like an absolutely perfect Aunt!
Jan Ackerson 04/28/08
Oh, I love footsies, too! This is so cute, and I'm just imagining a chunky little baby foot while I'm typing this. Awwwwwwwwwww.
Karen Wilber04/28/08
Hey, unless I read this wrong, Tuesdays are free. We'll be over at 9. ;-)

Delightful story. This woman has STAMINA. :-D
Loren T. Lowery04/28/08
It looks to me as if this auntie has found her calling and God had a big part in it matching the needs of all involved. Great story, loved the way it flowed with hints of humor thrown in to spice it up.
Chely Roach04/28/08
This was a GREAT 1st person piece. I LOVED it.
Oh, and the little feet thing! I am addicted to baby feet. I kiss four of them several times a day!
Catrina Bradley 04/28/08
Delightful! Makes me yearn to live closer to my nieces and nephews. Sigh. Very engaging voice and the story moves right along. Mmmm. Baby feet. :)
Willena Flewelling 04/29/08
I'm still chuckling over the first paragraph, which is a great intro to a wonderful piece!
Debbie Wistrom04/29/08
Charmed the socks right off of me.....how fortuante everyone in this family is. Such a blessing, to be used like this, for His glory.
Dee Yoder 04/29/08
Love the gentle, warm manner of relating in this lovely, lovely story. Love the Aunt's character and her way of taking lemons in life and making lemonade! It's a win-win for all concerned. I hope I get to be a grandma with this much kid activity going on!
Peter Stone05/01/08
So refreshing to see an article written from the aunt's perspective. I really enjoyed reading about her busy life with nine nieces and nephews, and a great touch with the kidlets footses sown throughout.