Tag Archives: Family Fridays

Family Fridays: No Matter What

“Cousins are usually the first friends we have as children. No one will understand your crazy family like your cousins do. No matter how long it’s been, cousins can pick up where you left off. They are your heart, your soul and understand you better than anyone.” 

All of my cousins have a special place in my heart. Cousins can offer an outside perspective that parents and siblings often can’t. I am fortunate enough to have the greatest cousins ever, in particular an older cousin who has become my big sister over the last 13 years.

AmandaAt 10 and 13, neither of us were sure of anything. We were young and impressionable, without any care in the world. We spent the majority of our weekends together, took vacations together and grew up side by side, there for each other whenever necessary. Now at almost 23 and newly 26, life certainly has changed, I’d like to think for the better.

As kids, we were too mature for our age, over-thought things and were hypersensitive. As adults, those qualities are still there but we’ve grown up and learned to manage ourselves, each other and our families. I’ve seen Amanda grow up, be successful (the girl is already getting her second Master’s degree!), fall in love and genuinely be happy, a foreign concept for us at 18. She works hard and has earned the right to be happy and to live her own life; that’s kind of difficult with our family. I am constantly inspired by my cousin, her ability to fight for the things she wants and the way she lives every day to the fullest.

As we grew up, things that we couldn’t control changed. Our once seemingly perfect family has changed It has been a challenge to stay sane and keep our relationship grounded. But, from a young age, we stood by the ‘no matter what’ principal. No matter who said what, no matter what happened, we trusted one another. Today, that hasn’t changed. It’s something we believe in and will follow forever.

There are so many songs that have turned into anthems for Amanda and I. The list is long and continues to grow. However, one song consistently reminds me of my cousin and of everything she’s taught me. There have been so many lessons learned but most importantly, Amanda has taught me to live everyday, to make myself happy first and to not waste it.

Family Fridays: Opposing Views

The older I get, the more distinct my views become on certain topics. These views changed over time and can be influenced by the life phase I am currently in: young adult just starting her career with a significant other or children. I’ve also noticed that my views, at times, conflict with what my family believes or has taught me. The next three Truth Challenge prompts address some of these views:
Marriage-Equality-Words
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Marriage is a commitment between two people in love, regardless of their gender, race or anything else.  No one has the right to dictate who you should love, marry or spend the rest of your life with. I have met plenty of gay couples who support one another, have completely healthy relationships and are raising children better than some heterosexual couples. I firmly believe in marriage equality for all.

Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Have you heard of the phrase, “Religion and politics are the two things never to discuss at the dinner table?” Well, my family has broken that rule multiple times. Religion and politics are two very personal, sensitive topics. Again, no one has the right to judge your personal choice like how you practice your religion or who you vote for. I was raised Roman Catholic but have an issue with the man-made rules of the church, like annulments. However, I do believe in God, who has blessed me with all of the amazing things and people in my life. Because of this, I try to go to church as much as possible to say thank you.

My interest in politics has grown immensely over the last couple of years. I think this is partly becausevote I’ve been able to vote during the elections. I enjoy watching the debates, hearing the proposed plans of candidates and educating myself on our nation’s issues. My biggest issue with people and politics is that people will vote just based on opinions or appearances rather than facts. Please educate yourself before voting!


Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
My views on drugs and alcohol has changed drastically in the last year since my family has been personally affected by addiction. I try not to judge people because addiction is a sickness that requires medical help just like any other disease. I do have a hard time with people who don’t take accountability for their sickness and do not fully grasp how their actions affect other people. That being said, it is your body so do with it what you’d like. Since alcohol is a legal substance once you are 21, I am all for enjoying a cocktail every now and then. Everything in moderation!
One challenge of growing up and forming my own opinions is that my family members don’t always agree with me. Some can still have intelligent conversations even though our views are different. Others are so militant and stubborn that it becomes a streaming match when any of the above are discussed. In the end, everyone, including family, needs to respect one another’s differing viewpoints.
How do you handle opposing viewpoints with your family? Is it a challenge?

Family Fridays: Love You More

I wonder if my dad thought he’d get away with having a birthday and not getting a blog post. Who is he kidding! My own personal superman stands well over six feet tall and has a demanding presence. But, when you have a conversation with the man I call dad, you see how he is a gentle giant…or when in a bathrobe, Tony Soprano.

twinsI am fortunate enough to both look exactly like my dad and share some of his personality traits. He has taught be so much about life and family. Here’s the most important life lessons I’ve learn from my dad.

1. Respect: Since we were old enough to talk, my dad practically forced us to call family friends Mr. and Mrs. Please and thank you had to be used in order to receive anything. You call your grandparents often, never miss anyone’s birthday and show up for Sunday dinner. While we all, including my dad, catch an attitude sometimes, he raised us to respect others and ourselves.

2. Generosity: My dad has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. He literally would give you the shirt off his back. He will come to your games, help you financially and put your happiness before his own. He loves to make people happy, a trait I know I inherited from him. I have his big heart too, always willing to do for others before myself. Both Dad and I care too much, become over-invested and end up disappointed because not everyone is like us. It certainly is a learning process.

3. Sports: I can remember listening to WFAN, the fan radio station from about four years old until now. Thanks to my dad, I understand terms like power play, ERA and safety but also can throw a baseball, and do well in fantasy football. He had me at games, teaching my players’ names at only a couple of months old. He also instilled in me a love of sports, mainly softball. You could find Papa Crispino in the outfield with his cigar and sunflower seeds, keeping my stats. No man was prouder when I hit my first home run freshman year of high school. Through playing sports, my dad taught me never to quit, to give up and to always be a team player.

4. Music: Obsession with Billy Joel? Thanks Dad. When the fan wasn’t on in the car, Billy Joel, Kiss, Thedad Partridge Family or Barry Manilow were on the radio. River of Dreams was my dad and mine’s first song that I completed mess up the lyrics to. I even made him sing Celine Dion at my Communion party. My dad taught me to appreciate good music, the classics and sing as loud as I can with the windows down.

5. Love you more: Since I was about five, my dad would end every phone conversation with “love you more.” He still does it all the time. He also means those words like no other dad does. He loves me (and his other three children) more than life itself. He is extremely proud of me and says it to everyone often. Despite being severely overprotective, he has showed me what unconditional love is and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Below, I share with you the song “Cinderella.” I’ve never considered myself a princess, but I’m sure my dad does. I don’t know if I’ve ever asked him to dance, but at any and all parties we go to, he makes sure to squeeze in a slow dance with me. Even superman likes to dance sometimes.

Family Fridays: Reverse Mentoring

Within the last week, I’ve spoken with some of my younger friends who were seeking advice. The schoolinspire year has ended and many of them were contemplating next steps to take during the summer. I enjoyed our conversations and they generated some mentoring concepts that inspired today’s post.

Sometimes mentoring can seem like such a formal process. In my opinion, mentoring is a fluid process, a mutually beneficial relationship where both individuals, who are proactive in bettering themselves and each other. Taking this into account, anyone can be a mentor. It is true that someone older than you might be of more help. But everyone has different experiences to share. Case in point, my almost sixteen year old cousin, ToniAnn.

TonToniAnn’s Sweet 16 is tomorrow night and I know she is extremely excited. So I am! ToniAnn and I have a great relationship: we trust each other and can talk about almost anything. I pride myself in having this type of relationship with all my younger cousins. Within the last several months, ToniAnn has lost forty pounds and looks incredible. She has inspired me to get healthy and it never give up no matter how hard life gets. While seven years younger than me, my amazing little cousin has mentored me and called me to take action in my own life.

Sometimes we don’t look to younger people for advice because we don’t think they’ve had the necessary life experience to understand our situation. This could be true in specific situations like I’ve never been married so I can’t give my married friend specific advice on her marriage. But I can listen, which can be almost just as helpful as providing advice. If we restrict ourselves to only using older people as mentors, we will limit the guidance we receive. We need to be open to all perspectives including ones of those younger than us. ToniAnn has proved that age is just a number; anyone can inspire.

Family Fridays: The Sunshine of My Life

Nine years ago today, a little boy with the sweetest smile was born. He stole my heart from the minute he wrapped his little finger around mine. Now, as a boy not a baby, he still is the most loving little man I’ve ever met.

Antonio1Maybe I’m biased, but how could you not fall in the love with the face you see to the left. That is Antonio, with his wild child hair and larger than life smile. He was about three in that picture but is still the same. Ask anyone who has met him even for a second and they will tell you how sweet and lovable he is. It’s true he’s a bit rougher than when he was younger. But, I still get hugs and cuddle time. He promises me that he will always hug and kiss me, even when he’s a “big boy.” I hope to the high heavens he will.

By now it’s clear how much I love my siblings. But, I’m not sure it’s clear how much they love me. Antonio loves me when I’m with him, when I’m gone, when I’m unhappy and even when I’m mad. He loves because I’m his big sister, not because I have a great job, or because I’m a good listener. He loves me just because. There isn’t any pressure to show up, to act a certain way or to be anyone but me. Spending time with him is the best stress reliever and lets me be a kid all over again.

I can’t believe my little man is nine years old today. Time certainly flies just a bit too fast. But, I have such an amazing relationship with Antonio that I kind of comfortable with him growing up. Whenever I need a laugh or want to shoot some hoops, I can count on Antonio. He truly is the sunshine of my life. Happy Birthday baby boy!

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Family Fridays: The Power of People

HigherI think I’ve mentioned this quote before on the blog. I believe in what it means and lived it out firsthand last week.

Self-confidence is has always been hard for me. I’d like to believe I’ve become better over the years, but I know there’s still room for improvement. Additionally, I can keep myself motivated usually because I know someone else I respect is relying on me. When all of this is taken into account, it’s easy to see how working virtually can be a struggle for me sometimes.

I was lucky enough to be with my entire team last week and reaped the benefits in more ways than one. Everyone had such a positive attitude that was contagious. You couldn’t help but feel happy and excited about the work you were doing. Each of us demands excellence and holds one another accountable. When excellence is a requirement, everyone strives to be better, reach higher and push themselves further.

More than anything, I completely felt part of a team, of a family last week. I’m finally comfortable andwe-are-what-we-repeatedly-do have earned my wings so to speak. We are like a family: we have each other’s backs, talk one another down and genuinely care about each other’s well being. This new family also continuously challenges me and pushes me far outside of my comfort zone, helping me to grow both personally and professionally.

The people you surround yourself with both at home and at work absolutely impact your attitude, behavior and decisions. Take advantage of this and use their positivity and ambition to thrust yourself forward. Remember to thank them occasionally too…a big thank you to the team I was with last week!

Family Fridays: Sister, Sister

As you may have noticed, I like to write posts for people’s birthdays. I feel like birthday shout outs are simple ways to thank the people who keep me going. Tomorrow is a very special someone’s birthday so here’s her shout out.

little samMy little sister Samantha turns ten tomorrow. I really am not okay with double digits and often wonder where the time has actually gone. I can replay every detail from the day Sam was born, from what I was wearing to what I watched on television that night. Excited was an understatement; my cousins wanted to tranquillize me! For the longest time, I wanted a baby sister, though I’m not entirely sure why. I saw sisters and how special of a bond they had and wanted that too.

At first, that bond revolved around playing peek-a-boo and teaching Sam a variety of cheerleading moves. Yes it’s true, I was showing her motions before she could walk. There’s 13 years between Samantha and I so we’re both in very different life phases and probably always will be. But, the older she’s gotten, the more we talk about life, about school, even about work. She is wise beyond her years and is the toughest little girl I know.

samSam certainly walks to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t care what other people think and will tell you exactly what’s on her mind. She’s a lot like grandma in that sense. She reminds me a lot of myself; the way she knows the words to every song on the radio or how she loves to perform for people (dancing and doing cartwheels in my living room). She likes things a certain way, very particular about how she organizes everything, just like her big sister.

I can’t believe Sam is going to be ten tomorrow. I have had the best time watching her grow up and am so lucky to have such a crazy, fun little sister. I can’t wait to see how our relationship continues to develop within the years to come. Happy Birthday Sammie Girl!

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