If there's one thing that could warm your heart quicker than a cup of hot chocolate, it's the snuggly hug your little love throws around your neck to show their fondness for you.

There are great rewards of being an aunt, but it can be tough work.

You have to spoil them with all of the love in the world, feed them plenty of treats that their parents would kill you for offering them because they're bouncing off of the walls, and yet, you also have to discipline them when you know that they need to be corrected. An hour with your niece or nephew equates to a day's worth of work. But it's all worth it for the sugary smile they flash at you.

My 2-year-old nephew, Brick (Bryxston), is the apple of my eye. I would do anything for him. I love the way he gets excited about balloons, and how horses are his favorite animals (he can imitate a scarily realistic horse whinny). I find his hobbies -- the way he lights up at the sight of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, bubbles and playing with the dials on our record player -- to be all of the entertainment I would ever need.

One of the greatest rewards of being an aunt is watching my nephew grow. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing Brick form his own thoughts and sentences, and learning how to express himself.

I get the pleasure of teaching him little tricks to get through life safely and happily. Such tricks are memorizing the ABC's and comprehending colors. He seems to be making good progress towards his learning skills, but every once in a while, he thinks the color red is the letter nine.

Like I said, tough work, but it's tough love.

I'm not going to lie, Brick was a stubborn little boy for the first year of his life. He wanted nothing more than to hang with his dad (my brother), but the more my other siblings and I stayed put, the more he wanted us to sit on his favorite blanket with him or fight the monsters living in the dark.

A nephew or niece's curiosity can be a handful, and it's up to aunts to keep them grounded. Even recently, my nephew grabbed scissors of the table. Knowing that he was too young to be handling them, I took them from him. In return, I received a screaming 2-year old. Oh, the joys of technical motherhood.

However, my boy got a sense of how dangerous knives can be, and he finally stopped making a pouty face at me.

I am so proud of my handsome little man, and I can't wait to witness his achievements in the future. And as an aunt, I'll always be a step right behind him just to make sure he's OK.

There truly isn't anything greater than the rewards of aunthood.