cousins

August 16, 1964

August 16, 1964

With K cousins circa '64
With K cousins circa ’64

 This crazy exploration was my first and only opportunity to do something like this – I wouldn’t consider it in Los Angeles but the risk seemed marginal in Graettinger, Iowa.

With O side of family, circa '64
With O side of family, circa ’64

This type of adventure holds enormous appeal for me. I’ve read novels based on groups of kids exploring abandoned buildings. That’s why it’s so disappointing I don’t recall a single thing we saw inside the Hawkeye Apartments (and naturally I didn’t make notes about that).  Let’s call this Missed Opportunity #1,

Lake Okoboji

Missed Opportunity #2 was not choosing to fly with my Uncle Gilford in his small crop-duster plane.

Missed Opportunity #3 was my total inability to water-ski. I think the problem was that even though I witnessed my sister Janet gliding across the surface of Lake Okoboji, deep down inside I did not believe it was physically possible for water to support my weight. It was my lack of faith, not my total lack of coordination, that doomed me to failure.

With Grandma O
With Grandma O

In keeping with my soon-to-be-standard practice of quitting any activity that I stunk at, I never attempted to water ski again.

 

December 11, 1993

december-11-1993 

Alex demonstrates an early interest in high finance.
Alex demonstrates an early interest in high finance.

I’m not a geneticist, just the mother of three, but watching three distinct personalities emerge straight out of the womb convinced me nature matters more than nurture. Based on my empirical evidence (Chris, Sam and Alex, to be specific) I believe we’re born with most, if not all, of our personalities intact. As the above entry illustrates, from an early age Alex appreciated the value of money and paid attention to it. To this day, Chris and Sam barely give it a second thought.

Alex playing with the bank he got for Christmas.
Alex playing with the bank he got for Christmas.
Bree, Carly and Sam dance "The Chicken". Connor, in walker, doesn't know what to think.
Bree, Carly and Sam dance “The Chicken”. Connor, in walker, doesn’t know what to think.

For a while, Alex and Sam (born 14 months apart) shared the same crib, sometimes in shifts. Sam needed to be surrounded by all of her plush animals. As soon as I placed Alex in the crib, he methodically hurled them out – he preferred a more pristine, austere environment.

All of the Knutsen cousins grouped together.
All of the Knutsen cousins grouped together.

Sam and Chris bear a strong physical resemblance – some people mistakenly assume they’re twins – although she’s much closer in age to Alex.  While Chris is close to his siblings and cousins, the seven-year plus age gap between him and them kept him out of most of their fantasy games. Of course, I’m prejudiced, but IMHO all three of my children are brilliant and beautiful, as are their cousins Caitlin, Connor, Bree and Carly. (This is not to dismiss their Fresno cousins Jeffrey, Michael, Martin, Mark and Aida – but since my sisters and I live within a five-mile radius, they see a great deal more of their cousins on the Knutsen side.)

The cousins love this "Arm in the Air" salute; it shows up in a LOT of photos. I still don't know what it means. From left to right Sam, Bree, Alex and Carly.
The cousins love this “Arm in the Air” salute; it shows up in a LOT of photos. I still don’t know what it means. From left to right Sam, Bree, Alex and Carly.

This little coterie of cousins shares a strong creative streak. Tucking scarves in back of their jeans to serve as tails for a game of cats provided hours of entertainment. One year, Sam flew home from college with a scarf-tail tucked in back of her pants. It delighted her when little kids in the airport spotted her with excitement. “Look, Mom, that girl has a tail!”  She’s more concerned with looking interesting than she is afraid of looking weird. (And by now it should go without saying, looking “interesting” does not mean fashionista-interesting. Quite the contrary.)

Not likely to be on the cover of VOGUE anytime soon.
Not likely to be on the cover of VOGUE anytime soon.
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