I think that one of the reasons I have always wanted a big family of my own is because I came from a big family. There are five of us kids and just about all of my happy childhood memories involve at least one of my siblings. Each one of my siblings is my favorite for different reasons. I feel like I am very close to each of them and I hope they feel the same way about me :) I've learned so much from them and I can only pray that my children will feel the same way about each other when they are grown. Since I'm awful at verbalizing my feelings for people, I'm going to "blog" it for the entire world to see. Chances are, my siblings will never read this :)
Neil...one of my earliest memories of you is "pulling the rope" while listening to "Axel F". How 1980's is that? I loved listening to MC Hammer in your room with you and Stewart and watching you play basketball on your Nerf hoop :) I have always looked up to you and I find myself still seeking your approval. I always ask for your advice on everything and I take it to heart. You are the epitome of common sense, in my mind. Your work ethic and the way you raise your family is such an inspiration to me. You have taught me more than you know, just by me observing you. Not only do you talk the talk, you walk the walk. I can say that about very few people. You have never told me what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear and I appreciate that so much. Thank you for having a marriage that I can look up to and thank you for treating Jill with love and respect. Your boys will thank you for that someday, and so will their wives :) You are an awesome big brother and I miss you so much...but watching you on TV every week helps :)
Jessica...you have always been like a second mom to me, mainly because you protected me from Meri when we were kids! Ha ha :) I always thought you were so cool and so pretty and I wanted to be just like you. I even had Mom give me a perm so I could look more like you :) You have been through so much and yet you have stayed sweet and kind. You are patient and loving with your kids and everyone else's for that matter! You are such a great teacher because you have such a big heart and you genuinely care about others. I have so much fun with you, especially when we're watching "Friends"! I love that we laugh at the same parts :) I love that we can relate just about every life experience to a "Friends" episode! I like to think that because of your relationship with David and Laura, Ryan and I are married. Thanks for being their babysitter all those years! You are such a sweet, gentle person and I love you for that. There aren't enough kind words to describe you. You deserve nothing but the best things in this life. You remind me of the woman in Proverbs 31 and I know your children will think that too when they are older. I am so happy you live so close now and remember I am always here...especially when you need a "baby fix"!!
Meri...even though I'm pretty sure I can outrun you, I'm still scared to death of you. Ha ha! I only say that because I know how mad it makes you :) You are one of the toughest people I know. I love that you are as honest as you are and you don't take any mess from anyone. You are one of the most loyal people I know and one of the most generous. I know if I needed anything, you would be the first one here. You have the perfect balance of toughness and soft-heartedness. You don't allow people to walk all over you, yet you are quick to help those in need. You share your talents with others, like your baking and cooking, and you have made it your ministry. You took it upon yourself to help take care of your friend when she was sick and you raised money for another friend whose son was sick. That speaks volumes of your character. You have been through some of the most trying times anyone can ever experience, yet you kept your sense of humor and came through it as well as anyone could. You hate to see people suffering and you always do your best to take care of others. I love how you put your heart and soul into everything, from raising your family to baking a wedding cake for someone. Your love knows no bounds, no conditions. I love that you were with me when I had Anne Claire (and I love that you cried because it hurt you to see me in pain...THAT is love!) and I love that you and I can sing any Lionel Ritchie song. You are "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady". Ha ha...I had to do that :)
Stewart...there is no one on this earth who can make me laugh as hard as you can. You can take any situation and turn it into something hilarious! I like that you get my sense of humor and I have so much fun with you, no matter what we do. You truly are one of my best friends. I feel the overpowering need to protect you, even though you are an adult :) I want to scratch someone's eyes out when I feel they've done you wrong, but I know you have to fight your own battles :) You are such a good uncle to my girls and I know you will make an awesome dad someday. I love that you can play pretty much any song by ear and I love that you picked out the notes to "Blackbird" for me a few years ago and let me sing along in the most tone-deaf voice! I appreciate that you let me watch basketball with you at your house, even though I know I talk too much during the games. Thank you for always being there for me and for stopping me when I give you unecessary details in a story! You are a good, kind person and I know there is a girl out there who is going to love and appreciate you. And just know if that girl ever does you wrong, I'll be there to break her legs.