Friday, May 18, 2012

Max: A Shark Bit My Head Off

Meet Max.

Our four-year-old cousin's cuteness can only be matched by his imagination.Conversation recorded on his dad's Facebook:

Max: "Dad, have you ever seen a sock?"
Dad: "Yea, I've got some on my feet right now."
Max: "No, a sark. Have you ever seen a sark?"
Dad: "What's a sark?"
Max: "You know...a sark sims in the ocean."
Dad: "You mean a shark? No, I've don't think I've ever seen one. How about you?"
Max: "I was simming once and sark bit my head off."
Dad: "Get out of here. Then what happened."
Max: "I went to a sark doctor and he sewed a new head on me and gave me new blood."

We visited Max and the Clegg clan a few days after the "biting incident," and you can see his head was still fully intact. (Apparently, his doctor did good work.)

We scheduled a 24-hour layover to visit our Clegg cousins in New Jersey prior to our Dominican Republic trip. They opened up heart and home, giving us the "honeymoon suite" of their gorgeous Victorian mansion. Although we only got to spend four meals with them, we felt a special, welcoming feeling in their home - laughter, love, games, and random quotes from hilarious little kids. Neither of us wanted to leave.

Max and Caleb fell for Ryan fast - between his backflips on the trampoline and playing "monsters," they couldn't get enough of him. Max would come find Ryan, out of the blue, and say in his adorable way (without the "r") "I wuv you, Wyan." Insert heart, officially melted.

Led by brainy parents, they're an incredibly intelligent family. Soon to graduate high school, their second daughter was studying for not one, two, but FIVE AP tests, and has recently been accepted into top-tier universities, including M.I.T. and BYU. The smarts start young at their place. Their seven-year-old wowed us with his Monopoly skills and astute reaction to his dad's purchase of Mediterranean, "You paid $600 for a FLEABAG property!?"

Check out their home. This Victorian beauty is more than 100 years old, filled with charming quaintness. For example, Carly showed me the numbers on their bedroom doors, remnants of a previous owner's attempts at a boarding house. Uncle Carl told us it has 56 (or 57?) windows, and nobody even builds with 12-inch sturdy rock walls like theirs anymore. I was particularly a fan of Aunt Delite's dinner bell, used to summon kiddos at suppertime. The Cleggs live in an ideal little town a couple blocks from a nice lake and lovely historic neighborhood for family strolls.

As East Coasters, the Cleggs live near national monuments, tourist attractions, and historic wonders - a couple years ago my mom and I spent a lovely day visiting the Statue of Liberty with them. On this visit, they took Ryan and me to see George Washington's headquarters at Morristown. We ate a picnic lunch. Then while DeLite nursed baby Benji, we played tag with the other kids at Jockey's Hollow.  I remember hiding with Rebecca behind an old tree stump. We were traipsing on fields where hundreds of troops were stationed for dreary winters during the American Revolution.We explored an old barn and meandered through a reminiscent garden, featuring olden-day herbs that were once used as a homegrown pharmacy. It was a happy day; we couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more.

Just yesterday Ryan told me, "I love them all. I can't wait to go back and visit again."


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