Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Erika!

My sister, Erika, was my very first best friend.  She and I are a little less than 2 years apart and to say that we did everything together is an understatement.    Since we were so close in age, Erika wanted to do everything I did.  My mom who always wanted to be fair, treated us like twins...if I got something, Erika did too, only usually in a different color.  She even dressed us alike. 

Let me just say that having her as a sister, there was NEVER a dull moment! 

If you've ever met my sister, you would probably never guess that she got off to a late start talking.  She wouldn't speak clearly and instead of talking, tried to get away with some kind of baby babble well into her second year.  My mom would ask her what she wanted, trying to get her to talk and Erika would respond with some incomprehensible gibberish and she would say, "Erika, I don't understand you".  Well, it never failed that I would jump in as the big sister and tell my mom exactly what she wanted.  I understood her and I did not realize that my mom was simply trying to get her to speak clearly.  To some extent, this even happens to this day.  I understand her more than most people and usually know how she is feeling or what she is thinking before she can even verbalize it.

Trying to pick a story or two from our childhood to put in this post has been difficult.   We have so many funny memories that we desperately need to get documented before we forget them (if we haven't already).  This is one of Erika's favorite stories, and I'm sure she is expecting I put it in here.  I've never written it down before, so we'll see if it is as funny when you read it as it is when you hear it.  In December of 1987, when I was 8 and Erika was 5 years old, I broke my elbow.  At this point, Erika and I had bunk beds and I normally slept on the top bunk.  However, since I required surgery and had 2 pins in my elbow, a soft cast, and could not bend my arm, my mom put me on the bottom and Erika on the top so that I wouldn't injure myself further trying to climb up and down the ladder.  In the middle of the night, I woke up having to go to the bathroom.  Several things hindered me from going on my own - I couldn't get up out of bed on my own without hurting my elbow and I couldn't pull my pajama pants down (or back up) by myself, so I called out for Erika to help me.  After calling her name three times, I got a groggy response and told her that I needed to go to the bathroom, she said okay, and the next thing I heard was a huge THUD!  When my mom ran into the room, Erika was still laying face down on the carpet trying to figure out what had just happened.  She had totally forgotten that she was on the top bunk and just stepped out as if she was on the bottom.  Fortunately, she was just fine, and now we have a hilarious story to tell our grandkids.

As with most siblings...we had a few years where we didn't get along quite as well as we did in our younger years.  She didn't much care for my advice and I didn't like that she wasn't accepting it and abiding by it.  BUT as we got older, we found a mutual admiration for each other.  I hope she realizes now that my "advice" was given purely out of love and not some sick need to be right all the time.  The last year and a half or so, during the last few months of her pregnancy, and since John Patrick was born, we have been closer than ever.  We love taking the baby and our little cousins, Bianca, 4, and Alexis, 2, to the park, Chuck E Cheese and Disney on Ice together.  It is rare that we go more than a day or two without atleast talking on the phone and we see each other atleast once a week.

Erika has turned out to be such a great mother!  I am so proud of her and John Patrick definitely loves his mommy!  She goes above and beyond to make sure that he has everything he needs, no matter the circumstances.

Erika, I am so proud of the mother and person you are.  Know that if you or John Patrick ever need anything at all, I am just a phone call away. 

I love you both so very much.

Happy Birthday!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bianca!

Oh my sweet, sweet Bianca!  I can't tell you how much I LOVE this girl!  Just thinking of her makes me smile!  Today, my precious cousin turns 4 years old!  I have so enjoyed the past 4 years with her. 

She is definitely one of the sweetest, smartest, most beautiful little girls you will ever meet!

Most of you know the story behind why Bianca, I believe, was sent to us by God.  If you don't know, it's definitely not a story I'm going to post, but one that I can tell you over coffee one day.  Bianca has definitely filled an enormous hole in the hearts of many.  She brightens up any room and just being with her makes me totally forget any of my problems.

One of my favorite things to do with Bianca is to teach her songs.  During Christmas of 2008, before Bianca turned 3, we started singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".  Let me tell you, that we sang that song over and over year round, and by this past Christmas she had pretty much gotten all the words down.  Back in November, I was able to record her singing the entire song. 

She's so funny, you can see she did NOT want me to help her at all!  I am so happy I was able to capture that because now, only 4 months later, she now knows all the words!

When I say she's smart, let me tell you, I'm not exaggerating.  She speaks mainly Spanish, and it is quite often when she actually teaches me a word I do not know.  She has also corrected my pronunciation of Spanish words on several occasions!  She has also (mainly by watching Blue's Clues and other shows of the sort) picked up a great deal of English on her own.  It's so funny hearing her speak in English and wondering where she got that from.

I definitely cherish every minute I have to spend with her.  I hope she knows how much I love and adore her and just how much she means to me.  How I wish there were more time for me to take her to Chuck E Cheese and the zoo every weekend and spend more time with her, but that only makes our time together even more special!

Bianca, I love you more than you will ever know!  I look forward to every trip to the zoo or to Chuck E Cheese and I look forward to all the new things you will want to do as you get older.  You never cease to amaze me with how smart and kind you are.  You truly have a piece of my heart!

Feliz Cumplea├▒os! Te quiero mucho!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Amanda!

My baby sister, Amanda, is 23 years old today.  I can't even believe it.  If she's 23, that means I'm - well, let's just say it means I'm older than she is. 

Amanda was my baby.  I hated to leave her everyday to go to school and really looked forward to coming home and hearing every single detail of my mom's day with her.  Everything she did amazed me so.

My mom started working out of the house when Amanda was little, and I was left in charge.  This meant that I was able to discipline her.  Funny when your older sister is able to spank and ground you, but that's the way it was for poor, little Amanda.  I'll never forget one of the first times I spanked her and I had to run out of the room and cry!  I couldn't stand to see my baby hurt!

We did everything together.  I taught her how to say her ABC's, how to read, how to swim, how to ride a bike, and how to hide from and get away from strangers.  I taught her all of the states and their capitals when she was 3 years old (she was one smart kid!), and when I got older and wanted to go out with friends, she came with me, which I guess has stuck, since even to this day if I don't want to go somewhere by myself, I call her.

Amanda and I have always had a very special closeness.  When she was eight years old, she had to have surgery to repair her ear drum and have her adenoids removed.  The family waited anxiously in the waiting room to hear from the doctors to know that she was okay.  When the nurse came out, she asked "Is there a "Tina" out here?"  We told her that I was "Tina" and she said "Amanda is asking for you."  Although it might have stung my mom just a little that her baby was asking for me instead of her, I'm sure that she was happy to know that her daughters have such a special bond.

One evening when my sisters and I were at a friends house, I went for a walk around the block with Erika and the 2 older friends.  Amanda begged to go, but I told her to play with her friend and that I would be right back as I just wanted the "big kids" to go.  Apparently, not long after I had gone, the little boy that Amanda was playing with swung a metal bat and hit her in the head.  When we got back from our walk, I ran into the house when I heard her screams.  The lady that was watching us had a bag of ice on her head and she said that she had been screaming for me since it happened.  I felt so bad that I didn't let her come with me.  I just knew that if I would have let her come, she wouldn't have gotten hurt and I felt horrible that she was crying for me and I wasn't there.  My "motherly" instincts came naturally when it came to Amanda.  God definitely knew what He was doing when he surprised us with her!

Things haven't always been peachy between Amanda and me.  I think with every "younger sister/older sister" and "mother/daughter" relationship there is usually a period of time when personalities clash.  Not to mention that I never wanted to see Amanda do anything that would be bad for her.  It really is so difficult to see someone you love so much doing something you know is going to turn out badly, especially if you have gone through it yourself and are wanting them to learn from your mistakes or hear your advice.  There were several instances when Amanda went in a direction opposite from where I would have liked.  Where even though I begged, pleaded, bribed, yelled and cried for her to do one thing, she did another.  It was those times, I think, that have made us closer.  I have ALWAYS told her what is on my mind, and regardless of whether or not she agrees and/or listens, she knows that no matter what she does or decides, I will be behind her 100%.  It has also been nice to see/hear her use my very same words of advice now.  When I ask her "So, you were actually listening?", she always says, "Tina, I always listened".  It is nice to know that even though she didn't always do what I wanted for her, she was listening, and didn't just think that I was some crazy, raving lunatic!

About a year after Larry and I were married, and 6 months after we moved into our new house, Amanda moved in with us.  It was SO much fun!  She was the best roomie ever!  We (yes, even Larry) really enjoyed having her with us for that year.  Too many funny things happened while she lived with us to put in this post, but one thing is for sure, Larry, Amanda and I will never forget that year!

Over the years, the "Titi" turned into "Tina" and before I knew it, my baby was all grown up!   Fortunately, she will ALWAYS call me Tina, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  As a matter of fact, when she was in Junior High, she tried to call me "Christina" one day and it was horrible!  If she started calling me Christina now, it would be like you calling your mom by her first name instead of "mom".  To me, it is just a constant reminder of our close relationship and it is a reminder that I love to hear!

Amanda, you have turned out to be a beautiful, fun, loving, mature, responsible woman.  I hope you know that I will always be here for you.  Know that I will always be honest with you and that I absolutely want the best for you. 

I love you so much!

Happy Birthday!!!