Though I've never quite confirmed it, I'd venture to guess the most hectic part of my sister in laws day has got to be her mornings--which is a big statement considering she works in a day care.

Waking up long before the sun peeks its bright face over the horizon, she rolls out of bed and into the truck to drive my brother to work. Their morning "date" as it is often referred to as, consists of a short dash to grab a cup of timmies before the short zip to work and back home again.

From there, she gets herself ready for work just in time to realize that her scatter brained sister-in-law is still half unconscious in her room, completely oblivious to the fact that her alarm clock and cell phone alarms have both been going off for 20 minutes—after  she hit snooze for the seventh time, so she runs to my room, wakes me up, dashes back upstairs, starts making lunches, spends 10 minutes talking to this half awake scatter brained red headed as I get ready at the dining room table,  while simultaneously packing lunches; stopping to help fix my hair and offer a hug when this half awake grumpy redhead throws a comb across the living room out of frustration and begins to pout. After I rush out the door—coffee in hand courtesy my sister-in-law’s morning date—my sister then takes a quick mental scan, and at least twice a week realizes what I forgot—bolting out the door just in time to wave me down before I dart to work.

From there its quite simple—a fourty-five minute marathon consisting of getting two, tired, grumpy twin teenagers up, ready, dressed to the nines, and dropped off at school with hair straightened and styled. Leaving her just enough time to take a half a breath and continue on her way to work with screaming children all day.

While this scatter brained red head adores the sometimes taken for granted luxury of having an extra wake up call on those mornings where the phone and the alarm just don't cut it-- it was the morning after I spent until the late evening at the hospital with my grandfather, .minutes before my alarm blared in my ear screaming at me to start my day, that my heart received a much needed wake up call of its own.

Unlike my standard morning routine of battling the alarm clock armed with a snooze button, until my sister pokes her head in the door to make sure I'm up, I woke up to my sister, quietly curled up beside me on my bed, gently stroking my hair, asking with an unsurpassed sincerity in her voice; how I was holding up, how grandpa and the family were doing, and making sure I was ok to go to work.

The kindness and love portrayed in her simple actions were more of a gesture to me then I think she ever realized. She broke the routine, paused in the midst of chaos, and took time out during her most hectic time of the day to stop in her tracks, curl up beside me and comfort me when she knew I was having a rough go of it. A kind of wake up call I'd never expected and have never been more thankful to receive.

My sister-in-law’s wake up call was a crystal clear reminder of the way that Family most certainly stretches beyond the boundaries of blood and heritage.  Where love becomes the bloodline we share, and our heritage is one of trust, compassion, forgiveness and understanding. Family trees are built of  memories shared that blossom and grow, and our roots become firmly planted through the time that is shared, both good and bad—in the moments when tempers flare, and patience runs thin, to the times when laughter, joy and tears are shared.

From the outside looking in, this woman is my half-brother’s wife. Period.  But behind yellow doors, she is my sister, my confidant, my partner-in-crime, and one of my dearest friends.  I couldn't be more proud to call her my family.