My youngest daughter Stoli is in Juneau waiting to have a baby and visiting with her oldest sister Eliza, so their children, the four cousins, are hanging out.They will have been together about a month on Sunday. I think the initial novelty is wearing off. No, you can’t have ice cream again today.  Yes, we are taking naps this afternoon. We have already passed all the birth dates in the very loose family betting pool, even though he is not late yet. (Yes, we know he’s a he.) His offical due date is a few days away but everyone thought he’d be early since his sisters both were.

Stoli’s other sisters JJ and Sarah suggested nicknaming him Jesus if he is born on Easter. What about Bugs, as in Bunny? JJ, Stoli, Eliza, and Sarah’s brother Christian was often referred to by his sisters as the Christ child when he was young. We mostly called him Crisco, or sometimes Crash and still do, when it is just us. Joanna is sometimes JJ, but in the family it is pronounced the Spanish way, with a silent J, as in Yay Yay. Then also, Eliza is Lila Lou, Sarah is Sarah-ba-dera or Sweet Sarah, and Stojanka is Stoli and also Stoli-o-lee or sometimes even Stojankavitch. Do all families do this? What matters most is not the funny names we call each other, but that when we use them we are saying “I love you” and you are one of us. We are in this together, always.

I know that Stoli’s wait seems eternal right now. She has been trying to end it by climbing stairs and marching up hills, but so far, he’s staying put. All that will be forgotten after he is born.

Well, hopefully not all.

There is magic now in recalling those dreamy long ago days and nights of wonder back when I was still floating on the surface of this life, before cribs and bunk beds, pre-school and the Tooth Fairy, before birthday candles and bicycles, ice skates and basketball practice, graduations and weddings, puppies and gray muzzles, before grandchildren, back when my grandmother was called GiGi, and my mother Grandma Sarah, way back before I was the oldest woman in our line, and swimming like a reversible  whale towards today, with whatever would be–the beginnings of this family of ours– swirling and diving and back flipping in the ocean inside of me.