#76 Realize That Your Life Is Bigger Than The Box You Will Be Buried In

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Hey Girls,

The above picture is what physically remains of my grandpa, your great grandpa. He passed away last month as peacefully as anyone could hope with your Ba (Grandpa) by his side. He was cremated and packed neatly in that box for burial. At the funeral I commented to your father that it was strange to think that all that was left on earth of someone who was just living, now fits in that box. However, I was wrong.

Your Great Grandpa might have had his physical presence with us diminished, but he is still here. He is here in the way that your Grandpa is so extremely generous. The way he values family over money and loves all sorts of sports.

He is still here in the fact that somehow his pet Dachshund still lives with your Nana and Ba. He always owned one of them for as long as I can remember.

He is here in me – in the way I love to take walks on beautiful days and enjoy sitting around a campfire like I did with him when I was much younger.

He is here in you – the blue eyes, the goofy personality.

I hope that as you grow and live your life you will realize that who you are, and your impact here on the earth will reach beyond your life and beyond your death. Your ashes can be packed and put on a shelf or in the ground, but your life and the choices you made, the family you did or didn’t raise, the people you touched with your actions, they will all live on. Your life is bigger – so much bigger – than your physical existence. Don’t be limited by the box, because you certainly don’t have to be.

This post is to you Grandpa and all the living you still have left to do in the hearts of those who love you!

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Meeting Sinclaire 2014
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Meeting Karrigan 2011
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#73 Tease your sibling a little – and love them a lot!

It is now officially official Karrigan – you will be a big sister in July! I wish I could say at this point you are excited but truth is you really have no idea what’s going on and when you do figure it out you are still in the “denial” phase…you fervently assure me that I will  NOT be having a baby and you will NOT be a sister.

I hope you warm up to the role a little. I’m assuming you will.

One thing I already know about you is that you have a giant heart. You know how to give really sticky slobbery kisses that burst with love and hugs that could strangle a python. You also know how to throw a punch. I’ll be the first to admit I know absolutely nothing about being a sibling – I don’t have any. What I do hope though is that when this little one comes along and you both grow to be not so little, that you will love each other.

I want you to be siblings – that means I understand that you won’t always like each other – that there might be an argument or 30 to settle. I even know that at some point you will probably tease your younger sibling without the mercy I would like you to show. All I ask is that in return you love them. You can get mad when they break your toy, or read your private messages to friends, or borrow something of yours without asking. You can roll your eyes when they say something you think is “childish”. You can even be upset when heaven forbid they get to do something fun and you don’t. Through it all please love them.

Love your little sibling enough that when they are scared of something you comfort them. Love them that when they get picked on at school you stand up for them. Love them enough that when they beat you at something you have always been the champion at, you can tell them good job. Love them enough that you build more bridges in your relationship than walls. Love them enough when they infuriate you that you learn to truly forgive.

Know that when it feels like you have run out of love for them – you can come to me and borrow a little of mine – because I promise I have an overflowing amount of love for BOTH of you already.

Yep..it is me at 14 weeks with #2…I don’t know how to smile and take my own photo at the same time.

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*A Note*

It serves to be said that I have been rather “un-bloggy” lately. I’ve been wanting to revive my blog for some time but never knew what was missing. I’m still not sure I know. What I do know is that we recently announced we are adding a member to the family! I’m not sure how that will be reflected here but I’m sure it will. I’ve missed this blog,  I’m sure that some day my children will have wished I stopped with the advice at the last post. To Karrigan’s younger sibling – the previous posts were written with her in mind but I’m sure they apply to you too 😉

*****

 

#72 About That Day In 2nd Grade..

I was speaking with some of the smartest people I know — camp counselors– about advice they would offer you after having gotten to know you these past few weeks. They came up with a good one.

Almost every little girl has that day..usually sometime around 2nd grade..where they come home feeling as if they have not a friend in the world. I’m not sure if it happens to boys–but having worked with girls I KNOW it does happen to them. When that day comes, please know that you DO indeed have friends. That the friends you have in second grade are going to be different than the ones you have later in life (Even if they are the same people, they will change in personality over time). That when your friends seem to have abandoned you, that you have a family that always has your back.

They also want you to realize that a friend is more than someone who likes all the same things you do, who agrees with whatever you say, and who you never argue with. A friend is someone who you can bounce ideas off of, whose shoulder you can cry on, who you CAN argue with but accepts your differences and loves you anyways. A friend is someone who will tell you if your make up causes you to look like a clown more than a person (but isn’t too embarrassed to be seen with you either way). A friend doesn’t need conversation to feel comfortable and a friend is something you will always have if you just know where to look.

Right now you are lil miss independent. You like friends but if you have to go it alone at something you are fine with that. You play by your own rules. When that day in second grade comes, and I hug you and my heart breaks a little as  I feel your lonely ache–I promise to remind you of how awesome you are, to encourage your independence, to not hate the girl (or boy) who made you cry –especially when you are “best friends” again the next day, and I promise to be a good first example of real friendship and rest peacefully in the confidence that one day you will realize that even in your loneliest moments you had friends in the wing. You just had to be willing to look.

 

#70 Be Present-Be There

At my work lately we have been talking about “being there”, or as some would put it, being present. Daughter, I challenge you to  be consistently present in the moment. In right now. I know that you are young and the future stretches out before you like a rolling green field just waiting for you to run through it. It’s a bright future. One that I want you to get to enjoy–but there isn’t nearly enough that can be said about the power to be happy, present, aware, and appreciative of the exact moment you are in.

I am telling you this because it is something that I personally have always struggled with. As your mother I tend to get caught up in what will be happening tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on. I often get so focused on the things that are coming up I don’t get to enjoy what I have right now. Then the moment is gone.

Thankfully, you and all your toddler awesomeness has begun to help me stay in the moment. At two years old you are so observant of everything. You don’t even have the real ability to worry about the future, only the ability to live for right now. It’s beautiful. It’s eye opening. It is a trait I want you to carry with you as you grow. There will be times where you must plan and think ahead but I want you to guard that section of your heart and mind that has the ability to take the current moment and live in it, to be present and making the best out of the very minute you have. Enjoy now, trust God with the rest.

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#68 Know That It Is Okay To Say “No!”

In three days you will be two, but if you ask me — you have been two for a while now. Part of being a two year old is exerting your independence, and right now you really love to do that by professing just exactly what it is you won’t do. The word NO is common from you and while at times I have to bite my tongue to keep my thoughts on your independent mind in check – I hope you always know that sometimes it is okay to say No.

It is okay to say no when you’re tummy is full and you don’t want to eat anymore.

It is okay to say no to the dog who won’t stop licking your face.

It is okay to say no when tempted to make fun of the outcast in class.

It is okay to say no when you are sad or mad and someone asks if you feel alright.

It is okay to say no when you feel pressured by friends to dress in a way that doesn’t suit your style.

It is okay to say no to alcohol, cigarettes, or other physical and mind altering substances that are offered to you by people posing as your friends, coworkers, or role models.

It is okay to say no to a social invitation if you don’t feel comfortable with the location, you need some alone time, or you have a test to study for.

It is okay to say no to joining a new club, being in the school play, or joining a sports team when you feel your schedule is already full enough.

It is okay to say no to boys, girls, or any adults who ask to see or touch parts of your body that makes you feel queazy, insecure, or unsafe.

In a world where people have so much pressure to say yes to all of the above things and more. I just want you to always remember that sometimes it is okay to say no.

#67 Don’t Ask A Question If You Aren’t Ready For The Answer

You aren’t four years old yet — but my experience with four year olds is that they ask a LOT of questions. You know what I like about them though? They ask all those questions and they truly want the real nitty gritty answer. It is often the parents or adults who feel awkward about the question asked, and skirt their way around answers when most four year olds I know could more than handle the truth. I wish I could say the same for adults.

Life is full of questions- tough questions at that. Where do babies come from? Where does my dog go when it dies? Am I proud of the person I am becoming? Why did I not get the job I applied for? Now that I have this job WHY did I apply for it? Does he love me? Do I love him? How are you? No REALLY how are you? Do I go to college? Where? Is it time to put mom in a nursing home? Will I be able to retire one day?

You get the point.

I’m making you a promise right now that as you begin to face life’s questions –simple and complex– I will always do my best to be honest with you. To give you the straight answer, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll help you find it. Please be prepared though, because I do not promise to give you the answer you would like, hope for, or desire to hear — if it would be telling you a lie. Don’t think you want an honest answer? Then don’t ask.

I want you to always inquire, to desire to know more about the world around you and yourself. However, the world doesn’t need any more people asking questions who don’t have a thick enough skin to handle the truth. I’m not saying that the answer to every question is something bad or grotesque or discouraging, I just want you to be prepared incase you find out something you weren’t expecting. Ask questions–learn–be pleased with the good and struggle your way through the bad. Just make sure that when you ask, you have your ears and heart ready for the answer.

#66 On a day-to-day basis..keep the makeup simple!

Though I don’t even come close to wearing it every day — I love makeup. I think it is fun to apply and play with. As you grow I’m sure you will discover it to some extent as well.  My number one advice to you is that no matter how much makeup you have on, keep it simple. I understand that there are times where you might get a bit “edgier” — with purpose — but looking like this:

Photo from fork.com

Is rarely conducive to one’s professional development or every day life in general. You are young and you are beautiful. Use your make up to accent the features you have that you already love. Never use it as a way to cover up the beauty God gave you naturally. You won’t be wearing makeup for quite some time but when you do, make sure to take a moment to look in the mirror. Make sure that under that layer of lipstick or eye shadow that you still see YOU. If you ever come to me looking like a clown instead of my beautiful and fresh faced kid/young lady — I will be the first to let you know! Leave the clowns at the circus.

 

#65 Use More Than Dollar Signs To Assess Value

This past year your father and I have had to consistently ask ourselves what things in our life have the most value. We certainly aren’t made of money and when bills pile up, namely those student loans that allowed us to experience some great years that helped to shape who we would become–both in and out of the classroom–it is often easy to start adding $ signs to find value in the things around us. If that wasn’t enough, the media, internet, advertising, and just about every piece of printed material out there is in one way or another telling us to place value in life’s monetary gains and “status symbols”.

I won’t lie, a Corvette would be nice, and probably have at least some temporary value to me. However, every time we sit down and really talk about it, your father and I consistently find that the most valuable things–the things WE want to invest in– have no dollar value attached to them. The things we find most valuable to us always tends to be our faith in God, our positive relationship with each other, YOU and being active participants in your life our pets (and yes they DO require a dollar commitment), satisfaction withour jobs, and also our relationship with friends and family.

Before I start sounding like a feel-good family TV show (or maybe I’m too late for that), let me tell you that keeping the VERY valuable things the center of our focus isn’t always easy. THey aren’t valuable in a measurable way that perhaps an expensive piece of jewelry or set of new top of the line golf clubs are. However, their value is measured in the way these things make us feel, the way they keep our hearts living passionately, the way that they give us constant peace of mind.

Whenever I contemplate getting a higher paying job — that would allow us some “valuable”items – I realize that it would take me away form you and also away from a job that I have now that I really love. No amount of money could make me feel as good as spending a day with you–and working at a job where I feel I really have a chance to make a difference in the world.

My rambling is about done. What I’m trying to say is to always make sure when you consider what is valuable to you — look deeper than the attached % sign. WE all love new “things” — and I’m not telling you to never splurge. Just always remember that value can be measured in laughter, hugs, kisses, hear warming (and a few heart-wrenching) moments — it can be measured in time with a good companion and in so many ways that dollar signs can never add up to.

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#57 Don’t Use The Distance Around Your Hips or Number On A Scale As The Value Of Your Worth

There is something to be said about weight and body size in relation to health. However there is no reason that you should let physical numbers determine your value as a human being.

Women (and men too!) are under pressure every day to look and be shaped a certain way. What that shape is, depends on a lot of things including peers, career, and the media. According to your father’s career he should be rather rotund from eating a lot of donuts but if you ask GQ he should be lean and wearing jeans that cost a couple hundred bucks. However neither of those expectations will ever define or fit your father.

I never want you to fall under the illusion that the only thing valuable about you is your size because it couldn’t be further from the truth. As you get older you will feel it–that pressure to fit some mental image of the way you should look that often times is unrealistic. I just want you to remember that value comes from relationships with friends and family, a faith in what you believe, leaving a mark on this world that will last forever, and living your life with your heart. Obesity isn’t healthy and it can lead to an early death, but plenty of young women have succumb to the illness and tragedy of going too far the other way. Every minute that you spend looking in a mirror criticizing your growing and changing body is one that you are missing out on a world of opportunity away from your reflection.

Already as your mom there is no value that can be placed on your head. You are irreplaceable to me and to God. You need to be irreplaceable to yourself as well. I want you to be healthy and I understand that neither you or I will always love our appearances–I also want you to know that there is much more to your life and to your worth than what you wake up and see in a mirror.