Monday Memories [21st Birthday Edition]

It’s a happy Monday over here for the McGraw family! Someone we all know and love is turning 21 today…

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…is he not the cutest thing you have ever seen?!

My brothers are so very important to me and I am glad that we grew up with parents who cherished their relationships with their siblings. If we didn’t see how important that was, maybe the three of us wouldn’t be so close. Somehow, we have learned that no matter what is said and no matter what happens, we will be there for each other. That is the best gift ever.


If I had to be stuck on a desert island with two other people, I would pick my brothers. The funny thing is, the three of us are nothing alike and I think that is why we get along so well. Jake is adventurous, Alex is hilarious, and I don’t really know what I have to offer…I’m just along for the ride. 😉 Alex and Jake have a special bond because they are brothers and Jake and I have a special bond because I was the oldest and I liked “taking care” of him when he was younger (hey, I still do that now…). But Alex and I have a special bond because he made me a big sister. I was 3 years old when he came along and I was so excited to have someone to play with. I have vivid memories of making him watch “Wee Sing” sing-a-long VHS videos with me and playing all of my imaginary games…house, school, the whole nine yards.


Alex was just the person I needed because while he was adventurous and loved playing outside, I was a total girly girl and would have rather played indoors! My favorite memories are the many hours we spent outside drawing sidewalk chalk roads for our bikes, playing in the creek behind our house, and getting all the neighborhood kids together in our front yard to play kickball or hide and seek.

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While we definitely had our own friends, sometimes our friendships overlapped. He called my best friend Stefanie “Fluffy” and I loved playing with his best friend Nick’s little twin sisters. 🙂


When we were at the beach this summer, our family kept telling lots of “Remember when…” stories because we have been to Wildwood, NJ so many times! Alex and I were trying hard to remember life without Jake, but it was really hard! Jake was born when I was 7 years old and Alex was 4 years old, so we should have lots of memories just together…but somehow, they all include Jake. Which he is totally fine with. Hahaha

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When we were in elementary school, we bickered like cats and dogs. We were part of an after school bumper bowling league and I remember my mom always reminded us to be nice to each other “in public” because I guess she was afraid we would be mean to each other in front of people. We always told her, “But we’re nice to each other there. We take care of each other and share our french fries.” Hahaha

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One of Alex’s favorite pastimes was hiding behind a door…standing in my closet…laying under my bed…sneaking just around the corner…and then jumping out and scaring the shit out of me as soon as I entered the room/stairwell/bed. To this day, I am easily startled, so needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of his favorite game way back when. 😉


My very favorite memory with Alex is making our Dad hate the movie “The Parent Trap”. When Alex was 5 years old, he and his best friend were racing their bikes around our driveway and Alex turned too wide and ran into the small strip of brick in between our garage doors. He tore his lip and messed up his teeth pretty bad. He needed stitches! In his school picture that year, you can tell something happened to him! But I am pretty sure for the next week after that little accident, we ate our body weight in Welch’s grape and raspberry popsicles and we watched “The Parent Trap” over and over and over again. There are some movies you can just do that with. 🙂 To this day, I love it, and I’m sure if you ask my Dad, he would probably say he hates it! Haha



Once I got to middle school, Alex and I had totally different social lives. I was my regular introverted self and he was his regular outgoing self. Luckily, we were always the best of friends when we were together. We spent a lot of time with our family and I was his number one fan at baseball and basketball games. 🙂


We even got to spend one year together in high school! I was a senior when he was a freshman. We both went to Homecoming that year, too!


He got really tall and most people thought that he was older than me. When I went on college tours, the tour guides ignored me and would ask what he was going to study. But my very favorite were the people who would mistake us for dating. Ha!


Once, we were riding this Surrey bike in Wildwood and Alex was driving us down a ramp from the Boardwalk to the street. Though this bike has two steering wheels, only one of them ACTUALLY steers the bike and that person also controls the bike. Lucky me, Alex was driving. In his brain, we were going to go full speed ahead down the ramp, but I was having a fit and trying to slow us down before we crashed. As we argued and I tried to reach across him to control the brake, someone commented that we were too young to already be acting like an old married couple. Hahaha!


We did not die. We made it to dinner that night:)


Alex has a huge heart, is so smart, and has that extra little dash of confidence that lets him do what he really wants to do no matter what anyone else thinks. I envy that and wish I were more like him in that respect!


He loves driving (his car and anything else)…



He loves his dog, Amigo…


…and he loves Pittsburgh sports. Steelers games are our happy place. 🙂


The day is finally here, Alex! You have been waiting for your 21st birthday forever. You are now officially an adult. I love you so much! Happy Birthday! Have the best day!

Friends + Fruit + Favorites, Oh My

Like Jamie over at The Celebrating Momma, I believe that you should do a little celebrating every day…not just when Friday rolls around. Although Friday usually does bring some pretty fun times. 🙂 My favorite day of the week is actually Thursday because it’s full of anticipation of good times ahead and everyone is usually still super productive. Even ABC jumped on board with their super amazing TV shows. #TGIT

Anyways, Jamie’s post this week really spoke to me. I was feeling all kinds of anxious and overwhelmed about certain decisions in my life and I kept going back to God asking…what are you doing? Why aren’t things happening? Where are you going with this? Why isn’t it happening MY WAY?

I was sort of asking the right questions. But I wanted to be in the driver’s seat of life, and I am not. I should have been saying…show me what I can do here. Let things happen in your time. Here are my fears…you will make them right. I trust you.

Instead of beating myself up for not trusting the Lord earlier, I’m going to celebrate my favorite moments. 🙂

– ONE –


It could be argued that my favorite food is peanut butter, but is that really even a food? 😉 Come summer, I am all about the fruit. Put pineapple and strawberries in the same container and I am in HEAVEN. The juices mix together and taste so fresh and delicious! Last weekend, my mom and I made these fruit kabobs for me to take to the Kenny Chesney tailgate. Tailgates are also my favorite because they usually include chips and buffalo chicken dip, but I’m that friend that shows up with fruit kabobs and a vegetable tray and turkey burgers. Yes, yes I did.

– TWO –


On the note of Kenny Chesney, these are my favorite people. A big group of us tailgated for a few hours before the concert…eating, drinking, playing corn hole and Kan Jam…there was also laying in the grass (as seen above) and ten people in my Jeep Patriot at one point. Ha! It was HOT and sunny last Saturday but there were scattered torrential downpours. Not scattered showers. It would go from sunny to literally WATCHING the clouds roll in…and then it would pour for a solid ten minutes…and then it would get sunny again. An adventure for sure. 😉



If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me geeking out about my succulents the other night. I found these little beauties at Trader Joe’s the other day and I was SO HAPPY because from what I have heard, they are pretty low maintenance…as in, I don’t need to water them 24/7 for them to survive. If this is inaccurate, please don’t burst my bubble. Hahaha

Fresh flowers in my apartment is my favorite, but I don’t like how quickly they wilt and die. Hopefully I have better luck with these plants!

– FOUR –


National Running Day. Need I say more? Running is my favorite. If running isn’t your jam, today is National Donut Day. Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts are giving out free donuts. You’re welcome. 🙂

– FIVE –


Throwback pictures are my favorite. Do you have the Timehop app on your phone? You can link it to your social media accounts and every day, you can see what you posted on that exact day in previous years! I love checking it out every morning. 🙂 This picture was taken five years ago…I can hardly believe it. My little brothers are both 6’5″ so seeing Jake (my youngest brother) looking this little makes me feel all the feelings! Ha!

I remember this was during the last week of school…you know, those days when you don’t want to go because everything of importance is over?? My mom is a teacher so she went to work but I was allowed to stay home because I was a senior and we LITERALLY had nothing to do except practice for graduation! Somehow, the baby of the family convinced my mom he should also be allowed to skip school. I guarantee when I was eleven years old this never would have happened. #babychildproblems But since I was essentially “babysitting” and my friend and I wanted to make plans, we took this cutie to the Pittsburgh Zoo. Our other brother was hanging out with his friends on this day…but we had so much fun at the zoo and we took so many pictures! I hope my brothers both love hanging out with me as much as I love hanging out with them. 🙂

– SIX –


Last weekend, my dad, my brother, and I went to brunch at Eat ‘N Park. It’s definitely one of my favorite restaurants! I love their omelettes, their salad bar, and of course, their Smiley cookies. I guess you could call this a chain restaurant because there are several locations…but it’s kind of a Pittsburgh thing! Randi will know what I’m talking about. 😉

When you’re a kid, this restaurant is the best because you get a FREE Smiley cookie after you’re done eating. Me and my brother Alex definitely tried to pretend Jake was a “kid” for a lot longer than he actually was so we could get free cookies! Recently, I bought a Smiley mug (in Pittsburgh colors, of course) so I can represent my favorite place while I’m at school…but last weekend, I discovered Eat ‘N Park now makes K cups and my day was made. I might have to go back and stock up! I don’t usually like black coffee, but this is so good with just a little bit of Splenda!



One of the first Pinterest snacks that I pinned many moons ago was a such a success that now my mom and I have the recipe memorized. Energy balls are my favorite. Energy balls that aren’t rolled into balls yet are just plain dangerous.



Summer gives me a lot of time to shop. This is not a positive. One positive thing is my tank top from Target was on clearance…so that makes it all okay, right?! Jake is super into brand name clothing. I like nice clothes. I don’t really care where they’re from as long as they’re pretty and they make me look good. Ha! Anyways, when I was in Atlantic City recently, I went to the True Religion store to browse around for him. While my mom and I were sending him pictures of clothes in the store (yes, we were those people), the sales woman was accosting me because all the shorts and pants were $50 off for Memorial Day.

Well. True Religion clothing is expensive and even at $50 off, I am not spending that much on shorts. It’s just not enough fabric to be worth it. Ha! So this woman convinced me that I needed to try on these jeans and really all I wanted to was go shop at the boutique next door. But I tried the beloved jeans on, and as Sheaffer would say, “they’re like buttah.” My new favorite.

Tell me about your week!!!


Linking up with these lovely ladies. If you’re a blogger, join us in sharing your five favorite things from this week!



Throwback Thursday: Birthday Edition

There are few people in this world that I love more than I love my two brothers. Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest, maybe it’s because I grew up with parents who were really close to their siblings…whatever the reason, I am extremely protective and proud of my little brothers.


New York City 2013

Family is great like that. Knowing there are people in the world who will love you no matter what kind of mood you’re in, no matter what you say, no matter what you do. You are loved. If we’re lucky in life, we even find a few friends that are as great as family. When I find those people, I never let them go. 🙂 But family is different. You certainly don’t get to pick who your siblings are, and I know that I am lucky to have the close relationships that I do with my brothers. We are all so very different, but I think that’s part of the reason why we like each other…and part of the reason that we are who we are. Plus, we always have so much fun with each other.


Alex, Me, and Jake: Wildwood 2013

Today, it’s all about the baby of the family…Jake. His birthday is on Sunday and I am feeling nostalgic, so I started looking through old photos! I am 23, Alex is 20, and Jake is about to turn 16. I know from pictures and stories that I was really excited to be a big sister when Alex was born. I couldn’t wait to have someone to play with! He was always game for my imaginary games…house, school, you know. The fun kid stuff. 🙂 And Alex was always good at making me go outside and ride bikes or play in the yard. We complemented each other well. But when Jake was born…that was different. I was 7 years old at the time, so I actually remember being excited about a new sibling. Alex, of course, wanted a brother, and I, of course, wanted a sister…because I already had a little brother and who needs more than one of those?! 😉


It was Monday afternoon…I was in first grade…in library class…and I was actually taking a book off the shelf when my teacher told me I had a new baby brother. The details that I remember make me laugh! How does your brain decide what to remember?! A baby brother was a-okay with me…then I didn’t have to share my room. 😉


Jake was my favorite little person to play with. I didn’t need my baby dolls anymore because now I had one of my own! Three can be a weird number…but we always played well together (for the most part) and we learned how to handle the number three. Alex and Jake are (obviously) closer in age and boys…so they have that special brother bond. But there’s definitely a special brother-sister bond and a special older sister bond that I get to have.


When Jake was little, my parents told him all.the.time. that they sprinkled “little dust” on him in his sleep so that he would stay the baby forever. Usually we all laughed when they said this, and then it got to a point where it made Jake cry because he didn’t want to be a baby forever! Hahaha

There are a few pictures of Jake and I from over the years that almost look like they have been replicated…and it’s so crazy to see how the two of us have changed!

From biking…



…to boating…



…to selfies…



…to Steeler games…



…to band concerts at school…



…little dust be damned! Look how big he got! Not going to lie, the band concert picture is one that I made him replicate. The others are ones that I found in our photo albums that just happen to match…but when he played his last band concert in middle school, I knew we had to get another picture so we could put them side by side. 🙂 It’s weird to be the big sister sometimes because you see your younger siblings become who they are going to be! I remember being so annoyed when Jake finally got an opinion on what radio station we listened to in the car. Hahaha

One of the best things about Jake is just getting to hang out with him! Just like Alex complements me, so does Jake. He and I are nothing alike and yet we like and do so many of the same things.

We both like to eat pizza…


…and ride bikes still…



…but he likes volleyball. And we know that I have no team sport coordination. But I am a really good cheerleader, so I watch. 🙂


He doesn’t love to run so much, but he does love to run with me!


Siblings who work out together…are beasts.


He loves heights and SkyCoasters and all things scary…so sometimes I’m a daredevil too.


And we do all things ridiculous. Like playing on playgrounds and crawling in tiny spaces. Because life is too short not to have fun.


How did we ever fit in that doorway?!


Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum: Baltimore 2014


Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum: Baltimore 2014

On Sunday, the boy turns 16. Ah!!! I am always so sentimental for birthdays. How are they this old? How did they get this big? You know, all those silly questions adults ask ME when I have a birthday that typically are very annoying…yeah, I go and do the same thing. I hate when other people make a big deal about how “big” I am, but when you are the big sister watching people grow up, you’re allowed to be sentimental, right?! After all, I taught him everything he knows. 😉


I have two younger brothers…but I only have one YOUNGEST brother…and Jake is the best at that.


4th of July 2014: Washington, D.C.

He is super smart, funny, and inquisitive. He listens to horrible rap music but I forgive him because sometimes I like horrible rap music. 😉 He makes me go in all the “boy” stores at the mall but at least he comes to the mall with me. He has made me come to hate the show Ridiculousness but come to love the show Bones. Everyone needs a little mystery! I love him so much. Happy early birthday, Jake!