Sunday, February 15, 2009

Seven Questions...Sister Strength

Do you ever wish you had a big sister who could give you wise advice? Or a cute little sister to keep you hip & happenin'? Meet the Bossy sisters. Five ladies who blog together sharing all kinds of sisterly wisdom. Today they share their style.

#1--First of all, please introduce yourselves. Who is the oldest, the youngest. Who is an in-law and who is a "blood"? Do you live close to one another or across several states? How often are you all together?
We are four sisters plus a sister-in-law. We all grew up in Boise, Idaho. Robin is oldest, and thus naturally bossy. She is also an awesome gardener, amazing cook, and the life of the party. She lives in Colorado with her handsome husband and 2 boys (her two older children have already left home). She takes credit for Bossy because she bossed us all around to make us start this blog. The rest of us wanted to do it but needed to be bossed to make it happen!
Robin, KK and David

Kristen is next, three years younger than Robin. She still lives in Idaho with her family. We sometimes call her KK because those are the initials of her first and middle names. Kristen is an amazing working mom who also manages to quasi-homeschool one of her boys! She is warm, funny, and strong, and actually not all that bossy. She loves swimming in her pool and is devoted to her sons.
Sally is 6 years younger than Kristen. She lives on the west coast with her family and would love to eventually move back to Boise. Sally has an MBA and recently left a career she loved to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. She is very happy being The Mom. She loves to read, travel (when she can), listen to music, and eat at funky ethnic restaurants.


Melissa is next in age—less than a year younger than Sally. Melissa does not share genetics with the rest of the Bossy sisters, but she is 100% family. She is married to our wonderful brother David, who (in birth order) comes between Robin and KK. Melissa lives on the East coast with her family. She is the mom most of us aspire to be: patient, loving, thoughtful, fun, and hard-working. She dresses her children alike in the most adorable way (she is not the only bossy sister who has this disease) and is a talented photographer. Melissa is a dancer at heart, Sally saw her perform many times back in the day, and the girl has moves.

Emily is youngest, 6 years after Sally. She lives in the Midwest with her family, where her husband is getting his PhD. Emily is artistic, loves music, and is a dedicated mom. She reads voraciously and recently finished a graduate-level literature class just for fun! She has lived in London and Tahiti. Emily is the most stylish and we adore her as the baby in the family.


Between the 5 of us, there are five mothers, three teachers, two Master’s degrees, 16 children from age 1 to 20, five devoted church-goers, and five great friends.
None of us lives in the same town, or even state. We are hoping that Emily and Melissa (and David!) will come back to the western half of the US.

We keep in touch three main ways:
  1. We have a private web message board that we use frequently—most of us post on it daily, it’s almost like a continuous chat board.

  2. We try to get together every year in Idaho on the Fourth of July for a big family reunion, but often someone is missing.

  3. Now we blog together! Our blog was inspired by our message board, which has been our go-to place for most of our parenting, relationship, cooking and all other questions over the years, and we thought it would be fun to do a blog that our friends and family could enjoy and contribute to as well.

#2--Sister relationships are often complicated. How do you deal with rivalries, competition and jealousy? What are your secrets for getting along?
Robin: I don’t think we are typical sisters. We are all very different, and those differences could cause conflict. But we value our friendships highly and that makes it easy to put aside annoying differences, ignore any hurtful things (all of which are unintentional), and be generous in our judgment of each other.
Kristen: Mostly, we don't compete. Although, I am secretly jealous of all of my sisters, what with all their amazing talents, intelligence, beauty, social competencies, and generally excellent home decorating skills. I mostly just do what they tell me to (they can be pretty bossy - there is one who is the bossiest, but I won't say who).
Sally: We are very good friends and we sincerely appreciate each other. When we are together we never have fights, we never exchange insults or mean looks, there’s never been any shouting, rolling eyes or talking behind each other’s backs. I think we owe our parents for raising us in a loving home where we valued each other, but we also each deliberately make efforts to see the good in each other and invest in our relationships. My only concern about our family is that I hope our brother David doesn’t feel left out. He is an awesome brother in a family of sisters and he has been a strength to each of us sisters at different times, and a great and fun friend at all times.

#3--How have you made new sisters (i.e. sisters-in-law) feel part of the fold? What have they added to your family?
Melissa: I am the only in-law. From day one, I have felt loved and accepted. This family doesn’t exclude. I think part of what made me feel so welcome is the Bossy-ness of these sisters. "Melissa, Come here. Sit by me. Shop with me. Chop these onions. Set the table." They helped me be involved by telling me what to do. Now they say things like "Come sit down, let the cousins keep track of your kids. Rest, Relax."
Melissa is the SIL and we thought she was perfect. So we were a little hesitant around her at first. (When she told me she loved mopping – I was worried that we would NEVER get along.) But then, one time, she cursed and then we KNEW she wasn’t perfect. We all fell even more in love with her.

Kristen: I think that letting our kids loose on Melissa helped her to feel like she belonged. What has she added to our family? Melissa adds the sugar. Goodness, she is sweet! I still haven't ever heard her swear. But I have seen her get angry which was so nice...I was worried she was a fairy tale.

Sally: I knew Melissa in high school, but not super well. I saw her a year or so before she met my brother and I remember thinking that I should set her up with David, but I just didn’t. David is really funny and smart, a good man who deserved a wife like Melissa! But I never followed up. When he told me he was going to marry her I literally jumped up for joy! She is the real deal. Fun to be with, smart, what is not to love? She is empathetic and understanding, and also inspiring. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a woman who so fully savors the daily pleasures of being a mother. I am so grateful for Melissa. (P.S. I also remembered when she swore. We were at Blockbuster and she was quoting a movie. It was awesome.)

#4--Sisters share parents, bedrooms, toys and clothes. Now that you are all grown up, what are your favorite things to share with one another? Will each of you name a book, a recipe, a tip or a secret that one of your sisters has shared?
Robin: One of the reasons we wanted to start the Bossy blog is because of all the great things we share. Sometimes my sisters will say “You need to buy that necklace for yourself”, or “This is the book that will change your life”. But more often they share their experiences, their emotions, their ups and downs. And it lets me know that I am normal and that they love and trust me to share.
One time we were talking about how we cry at the wrong time – like at a parent teacher conference, getting a speeding ticket, confronting an authority figure. Sally told us to take a big breath when that happens. Breathe deep, she said, and you will not cry as hard. It really has made a difference for me.
Kristen: Okay, I bet that my sisters will say they like to share recipes, but I don't like to cook. I occasionally do it, and occasionally use one of their fabulous recipes, but that wouldn't be a favorite thing to share. Good grief - they do share a lot of recipes! I love to share parenting stories, travel tips, spiritual experiences, and vacations. Vacationing with my sisters is the best!
Robin has shared her family's tradition of having a yearly family theme...which we have adopted.

The Bossy Clan

Melissa: My favorite shared thing is the parenting advice. These women are amazing parents and have such fresh eyes on the challenges I face. I can always count on them to sincerely think about the dilemma I have and give me an honest and sincere idea on how to handle it. My favorite book shared is THESE IS MY WORDS.

Sally: All of the Bossy sisters share valuable advice with me. On top of that, Emily has shared lots of great music with me (latest band: Chromeo). Emily also introduced me to my favorite pork recipe. Robin is an excellent resource for parenting advice and food! Robin also helped me landscape the yard of my last house and taught me quite a bit in an intense full-day gardening bonanza. Kristen has given me excellent advice about meeting the academic and emotional needs of my children, for one child in particular about 2 years ago. Melissa’s recipe for home-made rolls is now my go-to recipe and I make them all the time! Plus she gives great parenting advice and her personal blog inspires me to enjoy my children and laugh.

#5--Can any of you remember a time when a sister came to your rescue? How did it change your relationship?
Kristen: Many years ago, during a particularly bad time in my marriage I called one of my sisters while I was in London, it was about 3:00 in the morning her time. I was sobbing and desperate. She talked me through it and helped me through the following months of difficulty. How did it change our relationship? I guess that was when I realized I could call her about anything. I trusted her completely and I knew she loved me and was looking out for my best interest.
Melissa: Me, Me! I win the award for needing rescue the most!!! For all of our married life Dave and I have lived away from our families, but the past 7 years we have been on the East coast. When we were pregnant with Genevieve, our third, doctors told us that she had major problems and if she did make it, that she would have many physical challenges, but we didn't know what they would be. Eve was born with a Tracheo-Esophageal Fistula. After much fasting and praying, she had a successful surgery and was on her way to a healthy normal life. However, she was left with an extremely compromised trachea and very, very vulnerable to respiratory illnesses.

At 3 months old, Eve got very sick and ended up in the PICU at the local Childrens Hospital. (Via Life-Flight from the grocery store parking lot! Exciting!) We were there for a month, with her on a ventilator with a very uncertain future. Here is where my Sisters stepped in and Rescued us. Emily and Kristen each came to take care of us, they tended and played with Michael and Jane. They cooked, read stories, washed clothes and LOVED and comforted my children while I was at Eve's bedside.
During Kristen’s visit, while I was sitting at the hospital watching a machine breathe for my baby, I got a call from Kristen. She very calmly informed me that termites had swarmed in my kitchen, but she had things under control, could I remember the name of our pest control company?

We are talking THOUSANDS of termites coming out of a wall. She was trying to suck them all down with a vacuum, while she was dealing with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Amazing. Both Emily and Kristen sat with Eve in the hospital and worried with us.

These truly are my sisters. They all helped in the way they could--Sally used her frequent flyer ticket to get one of them there, and Robin watched KK's boys so she could come watch my kids and I think also gave FF miles. I still cry when I think of what their support meant to us in our time of sincere need. I remember when I saw KK after she arrived, she hugged me and I totally broke down and sobbed. It was like we had someone there to help hold us up and I didn't need to pretend to be strong.

#6--What lessons (direct or unspoken) have you learned from your sisters? Any good advice you can pass along?
Robin: My sisters have taught me the importance of being kind. Assume best intentions – don’t look for the slight. Have a forgiving nature. And listen – really listen to what is going on – and don’t be afraid to jump in and kindly boss a few people around.

Kristen: I have learned to not sweat the small stuff. I've also learned to prepare in advance for opportunities that may come up. Laugh whenever you get the chance, it is good for you in every aspect. Plant in the spring, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot - it will make you feel better. Any good advice I can pass along? Remember that other people are not thinking about you, talking about you, or judging you nearly as much as you might think they are, in fact, they are probably not doing it at all.

Kristen & Son

Melissa: HAVE FUN. These women don't take life too seriously. Being with all of them together is a delight. I laugh till I cry.

#7--Finally, how can we help our daughters/nieces/cousins form strong female relationships? How do you encourage the next generation of Bossy girls to interact and get along?
Robin: This comes from looking for the good. Build nurturing relationships where people are safe from criticism (a little gentle teasing can happen after people know they are really loved). Let your sisters know how wonderful they are. They probably don’t hear that from very many people, and they need to hear that. You can be a light and bring love and joy to them by simply loving them fully, and not being afraid to show that love. And once they know you love them…then you can be a little bossy.


Kristen: Be compassionate to each other. Laugh together. Realize that your reality and theirs may be very different, don't judge.
Melissa: I think we do all we can to foster friendships. We set the example that near or far we can be there for each other and stay close. I also think, that these little and big cousins realize that being FAMILY is more than being a friend. When we have had a chance to spend time with cousins, they jump immediately into playing and loving each other. It isn't like with a new friend that takes some time to settle in. I think these girls (and boys) know that families are there for each other, unconditionally. At least I hope they do!

Emily with Sally

Sally & Emily: What they said.

Thank you, Bossy ladies!
p.s. Will you adopt me?
To be bossed around on a daily basis, add the Bossy website to your daily rounds. This post of Robin's was one of my faves.


Sally said...

Thank you, Gabi! It is an honor to be interviewed on your blog. :)

Jeanelle said...

There is nothing better than sisters, is there? What a wonderful interview! Thanks for introducing us to another fun blog.

diane said...

I love Bossy...probably because I am bossy. The Bossy sisters are smart and sweet.

Kristen said...

Thank you so much Gabi! This was so fun to read. It was like learning even more about the sisters I love so much! Come join us anytime! All are welcome!

Melissa said...

Thanks Gabi! I married well didn't I? :)

Linda said...

Thanks for the interview with these 5 AMAZING sisters, all my daughters. I am truly blessed.

Lauren in GA said...

Another great interview, Gabi!

I laughed at how they were afraid that David may feel left out. I understand what that can be like because I often call my brother's house just to talk to my Sister-in-Law, Amy.

I loved reading how they are such a support to each other...even in the face of a termite invasion.

I also laughed at how Robin said that she wasn't sure if she an Melissa would get along becasue Melissa admitted to loving mopping.

Amazing ladies, all of them!

wenderful said...

I love the Bossy blog so it was fun to learn more about these sisters.

martha corinna said...

I loved reading this. So many inspiring ideas to strengthen my relationship with my sisters. I also have(daily)wondered how to help my brother's wife, and 2 brother's soon(hopefully)to be wives feel like I adore them(because I do!)and that they are a part of the family.
Great interview!

Ilene said...

Ah, now I need to call my sister.

Robin said...

Gabi - I feel famous now! Thanks so much for interviewing us. When I consider the amazing women you have interviewed, I feel very flattered and honored!

Emily said...

Gabi, this was so fun to read, thanks for interviewing us! It's nice to have specific questions to make you formalize your thoughts about things that are important in your life. I really enjoyed reading it.

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