Today is the 13th birthday of Niece #1. I am in disbelief that this day has arrived. My girl is an official teenager. How does this happen? Where have I been? I have not aged a day…. STOP LAUGHING, ED!

I have a total of seven nieces and nephews. I love them all, but I would be lying if I said that I did not have a special bond with Nieces #1 and #3. I think that this is mainly because I spend so much time with them. Ed and I lived next door to my brother and sister-in-law for the first couple years of her life. She was the first one that I have had around since birth.

To be fair to Nephew #1, he is a very cool person. I am very proud of him. But he came into my life when my brother and sister-in-law got together. I think that he was 7 at the time. And it was so cool to have a kid in the family. Now that he is 21, and on his own. It is a different relationship now. So Ben, Cheers to you!

Anyway back to Niece #1. I have literally watched her grow up for an incredible 13 years now. And I am in awe of her. I dreaded, for a time, her getting older. And there are things about the freckled, toothless 5 year-old that I miss. But she has become such an incredible young lady. I could not be more proud of her in every way.

She is smart, funny, compassionate, caring, athletic and sweet. I don’t miss any of her games in the four sports that she plays, if I can help it. I love that she has known since age 3 that she wants to be a veterinarian. I love that she finds every way possible to keep that dream alive, even in Jr. High. I love that her New Years Resolution was to get A+’s in all her classes, instead of her regular straight A’s. I love that she challenges herself to do more community service than she needs to for school, just so she can help people. I love that she still wants to hang out with her aunt from time to time.

So my amazing Noodle! Happy Birthday! I hope that you always know that I love you more than most anything in the world. And I look forward to the day that you take care of me when I am old. You are truly a beam of light in the world. Thank you for giving me hope in your generation. Thank you for loving my crazy dogs, and taking such good care of them. Thank you for sharing my love of reading, even if you do read faster than me now. I look forward to more pedicures, movies, games, trips and text messages just when I need them. And I am so blessed to know you and be your aunt.

[wiping tears] TA- DA!