To My Nieces And Nephew, Who Taught Me Love

To My Nieces And Nephew, Who Taught Me Love

I learned to love because of you.

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When I was 11 years old, there was no part of me that thought I could even begin to love in the deepest form possible. I thought that love was reserved for the person you marry, or the children you might grow up to have. Looking back, I laugh at my naivety in believing that love is 'reserved' for people.

While yes, I love my parents and my family with my whole heart, it wasn't until I held my first niece in my arms that I loved with my entire being. I didn't know what to expect when my dad was driving me to meet my niece for the first time on December 23rd. I was only 11, being an aunt wasn't something I had ever truly thought about so young.

Holding my niece in my arms that day, I didn't care what being an aunt was supposed to entail, all I cared about was making sure that the little girl I was looking down at grew up knowing she is so immensely loved.

My second niece was born in 2013. I have to admit, and I feel that I can now, that I was scared to have a second niece. What if we didn't connect? What if it felt different watching her grow up, like we weren't as close? What if I couldn't love her the way I so immediately loved my first niece?

As I walked into the hospital room, I remember those being some of my last thoughts before I saw her. All of those completely idiotic thoughts melted away when I saw her. I thought my heart was going to feel like it was divided into sections for these two girls, but what I realized in that moment is that I had two hearts. However, unlike the one inside my body, these two little girls were the physical embodiment of what keeps me alive.

So here I was, for the third time, going to the hospital awaiting to see if my sister had given birth to another girl or maybe this time a boy. "It's a boy!" was the first exhilarating thought I had when I found out. "Oh no, it's a boy!" was the second. "I don't know a single thing about boys!" was the third. And then I held him. I don't know why I still had doubts, because the third times the charm right? But I was still terrified that I wouldn't be able to love more.

I remember the day distinctly that my sister and her kids were spending the night. My nephew was still only months old, and as my mom and sister were getting my nieces ready for bed, I was told to keep my nephew occupied. Up until this point, while I loved my nephew enormously, we hadn't connected, and I was terrified we never would. I took him into my room, and we sat down in front of my mirror, and as I made faces at him, he laughed at my reflection. It was in that exact moment, that I grew a third heart indefinitely, because my nephew and I had bonded in a way that we had been missing.

To this day, with a seven year old niece, five year old niece, and two year old nephew, I can honestly say that I have learned to love deeper than the deepest love imaginable. I have learned to love with my heart outside of my body, something I didn't even know was possible, but also something I would not change in another world.

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14 Fraternity Guy Gifts Ideas, Since He Already Has Enough Beer

Frat boys are a species of their own and here are some exciting gifts they will be ecstatic to receive!

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What more do frat boys love than alcohol, partying, and just acting stupid? Here are some gifts that help fulfill all of those needs for the frat boy in your life!

1. Beer holster belt

Whats better than one beer? Six beers! This fashionable camouflage accessory can be used for tailgates, beach days, formals and everything in between.

Price: $8.49

2. Phone juul holder 

You know those cardholders everyone sticks on the back of their phones? Well, now a Juul holder for your phone is on the market! This will save your favorite frat boy from ever again losing his Juul!

Price: $10.98

3. Animal house poster 

This Animal House poster is a classic staple for any frat boy. This poster will compliment any frat house decor or lack thereof.

Price: $1.95

4. The American Fraternity book

Does the frat boy in your life need a good read for Thanksgiving or winter break? Look no farther, this will certainly keep his attention and give him a history lesson on American fraternity heritage and tradition.

Price: $28.46

5. Beer pong socks 

These snazzy socks featuring beer pong will be loved by any frat boy. As for the way to any frat boy's heart may, in fact, be beer pong.

Price: $12.00

6. Condom case

This condom carrying case will not only protect condoms from damage but also make frat boys more inclined to practice safe sex, which is a win-win situation!

Price: $9.99

7. Frat house candle

Ahhh yes, who does not like the smell of stale beer in a dark, musty frat house basement? Frat boys can make their apartment or bedroom back home smell like their favorite place with the help of this candle.

Price: $16.99

8. "Frat" sticker

Frat boys always need to make sure everyone around them knows just how "fratty" they are. This versatile stick can go on a laptop, car, water bottle, or practically anywhere their little hearts desire.

Price: $6.50

9. Natty Light t-shirt 

Even I will admit that this shirt is pretty cool. The frat boy in your life will wear this shirt at every possible moment, it is just that cool!

Price: $38.76-$41.11

10. Natty light fanny pack 

This fanny pack can absolutely be rocked by any frat boy. The built-in koozie adds a nice touch.

Price: $21.85

11. Bud Light Neon Beer Sign 

A neon beer sign will be the perfect addition to any frat boys bedroom.

Price: $79.99

12. Beer Opener

Although most frat boys' go to beers come in cans, this bottle opener will be useful for those special occasions when they buy nicer bottled beers.

Price: $7.99

13. Frat House Dr. Sign

Price: $13.99

Forget stealing random street signs, with this gift frat boys no longer have to do so.

14. Beer Lights 

Lights are an essential for any party and these will surely light up even the lamest parties.

Price: $17.19

Please note that prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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Just Like Distance, Christmas Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

The holidays are about so much more than gifts and great food.

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My family is the most important thing to me, besides my faith of course. I grew up constantly surrounded by my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Needless to say, we're all extremely close and that happens even more so during the holiday season.

I've come to learn in the past few years that our long-standing traditions are going to have to change slightly, now that five of the eight cousins are out in the "real world."

I, for one, do not like changing traditions. I like things to be kept the same, everyone is together and no one has to miss out. But, I had to learn the hard way that my feelings about tradition had no effect on being able to take off work or book a flight.

Last year was the first year I was "by myself" on Christmas morning. It was just my parents and me, which is fine, but I didn't like the attention just being on me. And to be honest, I was incredibly sad. It had dawned on me in the middle of opening presents that my sister and her husband weren't there to celebrate with us. I had never spent a Christmas without her and I always enjoy spending time with my brother-in-law, so not having them there was difficult.

My mom and sister tried to explain that because they have a life together, they were going to start making traditions of their own and they would have to find a way to split time between both of their families. I understand that, but it's hard having things change after they have been a certain way my entire life

It's also still hard to get through Christmas without my dog, as simple as it sounds. Buddy was the first one down the stairs Christmas morning and he was more excited than my sister and I combined. He loved sticking his head into the box of toys and pulling each one out, or ripping open his box of treats to eat. No longer having him there to fill our morning with lots of laughter and kisses, is one of the hardest things for me to do.

This year, to spare me from dealing with the crises, my mom decided that we would have our own "Christmas Morning" when my sister and her husband come into town for our family Christmas. While it may not actually be on Christmas day, it will feel just as it should with music, the fireplace on, and my family together under one roof.

The holidays are about so much more than what you get wrapped in a bow or what delicious food you gobble down at Christmas dinner; it's about being with family and enjoying every second you have together.

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