There's No Bond Quite Like A Cousinly Bond

There's No Bond Quite Like A Cousinly Bond

Growing up with cousins makes holidays, birthdays, and everyday life more of an adventure.

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I am one of the lucky ones to have cousins on both sides of my family. On my dad's side, I have cousins that are older, as well as the same age as me. They went through everything before I did. When I was a little kid, I always felt like they could do no wrong. My cousin, Kadie, would pick me up from school and I always felt so cool just because I was hanging out with her. We always bonded over our similar music taste. Her younger brother, Caleb, is only two years younger than me. This meant that we always got to go to the same schools and have some mutual friends. It was nice to have someone at school that would always have my back, no matter what.

On my mom's side of the family, I have four cousins that are twelve years old or younger. Julee and Jamee are twins, but couldn't be more different. Julee is really into art and gymnastics. Seeing her learn new tricks and watching how excited she gets to show them to me will NEVER get old. Jamee likes to sing and dance and I'm convinced she will be a star one day. We could talk for hours about what music we are listening to these days and which artists are our favorites.

Trey and Jack are the youngest and have more athletic abilities than I can ever dream of having. They can beat me in baseball, soccer, kickball, and more. As rough as they are on the field or court, they will always be my sweet little guys. Luckily, Rylee is only two years younger than me and we get closer and closer every day. We're always "beating each other up" and making jokes. Our moms always claim that they are going to stop taking us out in public, but we're just having fun!

Don't take your cousins for granted. My life wouldn't be near as fun without all of mine.

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Dear Mom, Now That I'm Older

A letter to the woman who made me the woman I am today.
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Dear Mom,

Now that I'm older, I definitely appreciate you a lot more than I did as a kid. I appreciate the little things, from the random text messages to constantly tagging me on Facebook in your "funny" photos and sending me pins of stuff I like on Pinterest. Now that I'm older, I can look back and realize that everything I am is all because of you. You've made me strong but realize it's okay to cry. You've shown me how a mother gives everything to her children to give them a better life than she had, even when she's left with nothing. And, most importantly you've taught me to never give up and without this, I would not be where I am today.

Mom, now that I'm older, I realize that you're the best friend I'm ever going to have. You cheer me on when I try new things and support me in deciding to be whatever person I want to be. Thank you for never telling me I can't do something and helping me figure out ways to be the best woman I can be. Your love for me is unconditional. They say true, unconditional love can only come from God, but mom, I think you're a pretty close second.

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Now that I'm older, I don't get to see you as much. But not seeing you as much just makes the times I do get to see you the absolute best, and I look forward to it every time. Now that I'm older, I'm not going to live at home. But, I promise to always come back because I know the door is always open. Your house is always going to be my home, and no other place is going to be the same.

Now that I'm older, I realize how much I miss you taking care of me. I miss you making me dinner, making sure I was doing well in school, and taking me to endless appointments. I miss you waking me up for school and then waking me up again because I didn't listen the first time.

But, Mom, now that I'm older, I can see all that you've done for me. I can look back and see how big of a brat I was but you still loved me (and let me live) anyways. I can understand why you did certain things and frankly, you're one bada** of a woman.

To have you as my mom and my best friend has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So, Mom, now that I'm older, thank you, for everything.

Love,

Your Daughter

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10 Things That Happened When God Gave Me A Little Cousin

Because they're not just family, they're a blessing.

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I lost my Grandma when I was ten years old. She was the woman I looked up to and as I continue to grow up without her, the more I admire her strength. After losing someone so dear to my heart, it felt like a piece of my world had gone missing. A year later, God blessed me with a little cousin, Emma. Here we are seven years later, and she is exactly what I needed after losing my grandma.

1. I felt like I finally had another "sibling"

The day Emma was born, I immediately took the role of "big sister" and not just because we both only have brothers. Yes, I take it upon myself to paint her toes and go shopping with her simply because that's what we do best.

2. I began to spoil her

From the minute she was born, I couldn't help but go through the baby aisle at Target and grab the cutest new outfit for her. Even now, her big and sweet brown eyes always convince me to buy her that unicorn bath bomb or get her a shirt she spies at the store. Of course, every dollar is worth her big smile.

3. I found my best friend

I could talk with Emma all day long. Listening to her chatter about school or her new toys makes me smile from ear to ear. I could tell her anything and I know she would try her best to understand everything even if it's over her head. I see her as much as I can and miss her like crazy if it's been too long. Yes, she takes up 90% of my camera roll and there's nothing better.

4. I knew what pure joy felt like

I'm not sure the first time I realized it, but in the past seven years I have had multiple "Kodak moments" where my heart feels completely full. Maybe it's her laugh when I tell her a joke or the way we share fun memories together. Whatever it is, I'm a lot happier because of Emma.

5. I started to smile more

Nothing makes me smile more than seeing Emma after a long hard day. Hearing her laugh, going on adventures together, and having countless sleepovers is always the highlight of my day/week.

6. I became more selfless

Emma has taught me that sometimes you should play dolls with her even if you don't want to. You do the right thing even if it isn't the easiest and always think about others before yourself. There has been times when I'm crying and she will immediately stop what she's doing to come sit next to me and hold my hand.

7. I learned that she is who I want to be when I grow up

Even though I'm older than my sweet little Emma, I definitely look up to her. You don't meet very many completely selfless seven-year-olds. I'm lucky enough to know one. Emma would do anything for anyone, she always sees the best in things and is full of faith. She's smart, funny, and extremely outgoing - everything I desire to be more of.

8. I changed the way I looked at the world

Kids often show us that life can be a lot simpler and a whole lot less complicated than we make of it. Emma's innocence has shown me that sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and simplify everything I can.

9. I learned a lot about my faith

You've probably heard about the "faith of a child" and having Emma around certainly has made an impact on my faith. She memorizes Bible verses left and right and loves singing hymns. Seeing such a young heart that is full with God's love is truly inspiring. She is a constant reminder that God is certainly good.

10. She became a reason I needed live

When God blessed my life with Emma, He definitely knew I needed her more than she needed me. Struggling with depression makes life challenging, but she always happens to be a cure when I need it. Once I was at an extremely low time and contemplating suicide when someone reminded me that Emma loves me. Emma needs me around. The thought of her never understanding why I died absolutely struck me. Even on the toughest days, a FaceTime call to Emma or simply browsing through pictures of her brings a smile to my face.

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