My baby sister

Life has been a little busy this month and I both welcome the daily chaos and curse the lack of the mundane. This week has been especially busy as we prepare for the coming week’s festivities – my baby sister’s wedding.  One of the ways I have been trying to prepare is by writing out my Maid of Honor speech. Though I have written and spoke a few before, this step always gives me pause. I want it to be creative, meaningful and with just a hint of humor. In preparing for this speech, I’ve been reflecting on our childhood and recent years with my baby sister.

I remember the moment my mom told me she was pregnant with her. I recall looking up to my mom as she sat on the wooden bench in our kitchen, her dirty blonde hair laying just below her shoulders. My big sister and little sister stood on either side of me as we listened to the exciting news.  I remember watching my mom’s belly grow with my sister inside of her. I don’t recall the moment she was born but I know the days following…picking her up gently from her crib and changing her cloth diaper. Bringing her upstairs with milk to watch cartoons with me on an early Saturday morning. I remember the way she always wanted to be around her sisters. The way she played softball always amazed me, like it was second nature for her to hit that ball across the entire field. Her laughter has always been infectious and I find myself looking forward to the moments that she can still make me giggle. I once worked at a before-school program that she attended and I distinctly remember how much I admired her determination to do the right thing and stick up for others.

After I moved to Florida, she would visit and we would stay up all night playing board games by candle light when the storms knocked the power out. We have countless memories of the beach, spotting dolphins & manatees and watching the sunset. My visits to Georgia are filled with tours of her town, shopping sprees and ice cream. She always has a list of things for us to do together so she can show me the town she loves so much.

All of these memories fill my heart and yet I know that we still have an entire lifetime of more memories to make together. And though I don’t want time to pass too quickly, I cannot wait for all of the incredible journeys that are ahead of us.

Though I have not completed my speech just yet, I find comfort in remembering all of these priceless moments that I have been so blessed to have with her.

Tell me, friends…what do you think makes the best wedding speech?

Sister snuggles x 4

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Growing up with 3 sisters, we had our moments of anger, frustration and tears. We had one and a half bathrooms, we shared bedrooms for many years and we had a minivan that we crammed into for weekend road trips.

Despite age differences, we were all close. We stood up for each other when needed, cheered each other on during games & practice and when we were lucky, hung out at each other’s sleepovers. It wasn’t until my baby sister & I moved away that I truly understood how important my relationship was with my sisters. I had only ever known it being there physically and without it, I needed to adapt and learn how it worked long distance.

Sure, we all talked when we could, visited when able and called every holiday. We have continued to be there for each other for every marriage and every baby. But there is one thing that I never truly understood the importance of and that I took for granted when I lived in New York.

Sister snuggles.

They are the moments on the couch, where there are legs hanging off and we aren’t quite sure which leg belongs to who.

They are the funny moments that make you laugh so hard your abs hurt.

They are smiles so big that your cheeks are sore and yet you can’t stop smiling.

They are conversations that you’ve had 5 times and yet can’t stop talking about because the 4 of you keep distracting each other.

They are hugs and cuddles that I couldn’t live without.

Today’s second blessing is my sisters.  Each one of them brings a different perspective, a unique idea and a creative outlook. Each one I am blessed to have in my life. This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend 3 whole days with them. And oh, how wonderful it was.

*Pictures include our sweet momma and Kate Sr, our newest honorary sister!

Rachie

When we were younger, my little sister and I shared a room. I remember when that room was filled with a full size bed that we shared and we all traveled to the local furniture store to pick out bunk beds. I was so excited to have the top bunk! This lasted a while but eventually I moved into my own room. Wanting to embrace my newfound dependence, I refused to let Rachel sleep in my room at night. She would try to tattle on me to my parents but would eventually retreat to her room.

Most mornings though, I would awake to her sleeping in my bed.  Her feet would be next to my head and she would be snuggled up to my legs. Some nights I would even find her and my baby sister tucked into my twin size daybed!

I remember being so angry at the time, but looking back, it is a memory that I cherish. Last night, my sister traveled to Florida to celebrate her birthday. We spent the day together and shared many laughs.  Neither of us could remember the last time we spent her birthday together!

The day was filled with lots of dancing with our boys, fishing (Joe taught us lots!), delicious food, walks with our momma and of course sister snuggles. What a great day!

Each day I find myself more and more  grateful for the everyday moments that make lifelong memories.

Pumpkins

Behind their yard, my grandparents grew a vegetable garden. My grandfather would plant rows and rows of all types of vegetables and they grew like weeds, thanks to the love and care that he gave them. I’ve never seen such a massive vegetable garden. My grandfather would send home anyone who visited with a basketful of the freshest vegetables. Toward the end of the vegetable season in New York, he would grow pumpkins.

Every year, a few weeks before Halloween, all of the cousins – dozens and dozens! – would venture over to my grandfather’s house and pick out their absolute favorite pumpkin. The one that would be theirs this year. There were dozens upon dozens of pumpkins to choose from; more than enough for everyone. But there was always that one…the one that we each knew was perfect for us because we were able to pick it out ourselves.

I remember running amongst the rows of pumpkins, determined to find the one that I loved the most. Sometimes it was small and round, other times it was fat and heavy. I would move it around in the dirt to see if it had any imperfections. I would try to lift it and it would take all of my might to pick it up – and it wasn’t even done growing yet! Once I was convinced that I found the perfect pumpkin, the one that was just right for me, I would let my grandfather know. He would pull out his pocket knife and carve my name in it. Not too deep, as to pierce through the pumpkin, but just enough for my name to be visible. Over the next few weeks, the fresh carving would start to heal and the pumpkin would continue to grow with it.

When it was time to start carving our pumpkins for Halloween, my sisters and I would return to the vegetable garden. We would run through the pumpkins once again, past the names of all our cousins etched into the bright orange skin, trying to remember exactly where our perfect pumpkin sat. By this time, our names had become a part of the pumpkin. No longer an open wound but instead a brown scar, healed by time.

Today, we cut open one of the pumpkins from our hayride (late, I know). We scooped out all of the seeds and set them out to dry overnight to bake tomorrow. The other pumpkins? They’ll be placed out on the side of the house to decompose, with the hope of growing new pumpkins next year. Perhaps one that is just right for Jacob’s name.

Sister snuggles

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Growing up, I was often known as Sarah B’s little sister. My big sister was my protector, my confidant and my go-to for advice or tough love. She was always there when I needed her, even during the times that I didn’t realize it was exactly what I needed.

When I was first diagnosed, Sarah didn’t hesitate. She immediately began making plans to care for me during treatment, making the phone calls to our loved ones to share the news and researching how to best help me through it. I have always admired her strength and ability to attack whatever comes her way. She has always been, and will forever be, a woman I look up to whole-heartedly.

Yesterday at my hydration appointment, we had a new (to me) nurse. While hooking up my fluids, she looked at me and asked “Are these your parents?”

Joe, Sarah and I stared at each other for a good 30 seconds before we all burst out laughing. No response seemed appropriate other than laughter. When we caught our breath, the laughter was followed by Sarah stating, “Well, I act like her mother so it’s fitting.” That made us crack up even harder. We continued to laugh about it throughout the entire stay at the center.

After the fun of the hydration appointment and my shot, we ended the day with sister snuggles on the couch while little man slept between us. There is nothing quite as wonderful as sister snuggles!