Last week my big sister celebrated her birthday.

We were lucky enough to be at the lake with her the week before her special day.  Our family has traditionally been together for a vacation in July, so when the kids realized the timing they got super excited about baking her a cake.  You know, since she’s the Cake Boss and all.

It was such a lovely sentiment, really, except I’d learned that my sis was not only making my niece and T-man their birthday cakes but Bear would get one as well (since we’d missed getting together in May this year).  So we were already looking at three major cakes, and if you don’t know what I mean by that then read my previous Cake Boss post here.

There were only going to be nine people in the house that week – how much cake could we possibly eat?!  That turned out to be a non-issue in the end, though.  Because apparently my kids can eat an extraordinary amount of cake.  Daily.

So I encouraged the kids to surprise her with a birthday treat but to make it special, maybe bake some birthday cookies or brownies instead.  I thought I had them at Snicker Doodles for a minute but then they went right back to cake, so I drew the line and gave them the materials for cupcakes.  It was a decent compromise…cake they could decorate, but in snack size portions.

Well, they would have been snack size portions if Bear hadn’t misread the directions stating “fill 1/2 the cup with batter” as “1 1/2 cups of batter.”  As a result they were some pretty big cupcakes; on the plus side, that meant there were only 12 of them.

At any rate, this post isn’t about cake.  Or cookies.  Or baking in any form, kid-driven or otherwise.

It’s about my way-awesome sister.

Bee’s about three and a half years older than I am, so for most of our childhood we were in entirely different stages.  When I was toddling around, she was already in school.  By the time I hit mid-elementary school she was in junior high, and she’d moved on to high school before I entered ninth grade.  We followed this pattern for high school and college, too, so our lives have resembled a game of hopscotch.  She’d jump three squares and I’d jump two, following in her footsteps.

My big sis had the job of paving the way for my brother and me, and this role brought a lot of scut work along the way.  She was the oldest child of three in a navy family, so there were a lot of times when she’d catch more responsibility than she probably should have.  Dad was away and mom had her hands full with a new baby?  Then guess whose little sister tagged along when she went out to play?  Yep.  Big sis.

I doubt Bee could even begin to count the number of times she heard “Watch ____, I need to…” in her life.  Frankly, it’s a miracle she didn’t end up hating us both for sucking the fun out of her childhood.  But by a grace I can’t even begin to understand, she didn’t end up holding that against us (not that I remember, anyway).

My memory closely resembles swiss cheese, so I don’t have perfect recall of my childhood. I’m sure we fought; we are sisters, after all.

But these are just a few of the childhood reasons my sister is way-awesome:

  • She held my hand in crowded places, and I trusted that she would never let go.
  • We sold Girl Scout cookies together.
  • She passed her Barbie dolls on to me when she’d outgrown them.
  • She wrote me letters – yes, people, actual honest-to-God U.S. Postal Service MAIL – while she was away at college.  I was really drifting in those days, and just hearing from her made me feel grounded again.
  • No matter what was going on in her life, I always felt like I could go to her if I needed someone.  Not that I was great about doing that…but I knew I could.

Bee and I have grown closer as the years have passed, and by some beautiful cosmic turn of events we now live within an hour of each other.  (My military friends who are scattered throughout the country know what a miracle this is.)  We’ve had a chance to grow into friends, and I know I’m incredibly lucky to have her.

Some of the adult reasons my sister is way-awesome:

  • I was in college when she got married, and I was quite possibly the crappiest maid-of-honor ever for her.  I was distracted by school and had no idea what a maid-of-honor should have been doing, but she never once told me I sucked.  Thank God she had a great group of friends who stepped in for her.
  • She always listens when I need to talk.  Always.  Even when Bee’s got a dozen fires to put out in her own life, she makes time for me.
  • She walked the entire “we want a family” path with me.  She patiently listened when that was what I needed, and when it was time to create family albums for the adoption agency she spent hours sharing her scrapbooking skills.  Really, it was her creative voice that first helped us reach out to birthmothers, and that’s what led us to T-man and Bear.
  • I’m truly in awe of the woman she’s become.  Bee is strong, compassionate, and committed to her goals.  She’s an incredibly smart lady who stands up for herself and encourages others to do the same.  She’s setting an amazing example for her daughters of what it means to reach your full potential.

All these years later, and I still hope I’m following in my sister’s footsteps.