Tag Archives: kids

This Week’s Top Five Things the Made Me Think, WTH? (Bonus Track Included)

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This Week’s Top Five Things the Made Me Think, WTH? (Bonus Track Included)

 

  1. While eating Chinese food with my husband, Kevin, and daughter, Sophi, I shared a story, thought, idea, comment or theory (or a combination of all these) in my  rapid succession fashion.   Sophi took a bite of her Orange Chicken as if she was considering my thoughts and then states matter-of-factly, “I am pretty sure that you definitely fall somewhere on the autism spectrum”. — WTH??cookie
  2. During a meeting at work, where I was presenting some pretty important concepts for our product to a member of our Development team, my cell phone vibrates and it is my oldest daughter, Riley, calling. She usually texts, so I answered it thinking it must be important. This is our conversation:

Me:  Hello?

Riley: Mom, what are you doing?

Me: I am at work. What’s up?

Riley: I am sad.

Me:  What’s wrong??

Riley: I just walked ALL THE WAY ACROSS CAMPUS to the ONLY vending machine that has my favorite snack and they are out of it. — WTH???

baby rays3.   After a quick stop at the grocery store, my son Evan called me into the kitchen. He then systematically told me how I botched the entire trip because I failed to get Mountain Dew and I “carelessly bought HONEY Bar-B-que Sweet Baby Ray’s and not the original. That is not acceptable.” — WTH??

4.  While driving  Sophi to school this morning, I was traveling down the highway at a good clip and a white van pulls out in front of me. I brake hard to keep from getting up close and personal with his/her bumper and then quickly passed her. He or she laid on her (yeah I am thinking it was a she) horn like I was a maniac for passing. Are you kidding me?? You pulled out in front of me!! — WTH??

5.  On the eve of the anniversary of the attack on 9/11, I am appalled by the protesting that continues in Ferguson, MO. Thirteen years ago, we were a nation united. We lifted one another up. We prayed together, remembered together, and we picked up the pieces together. We mourned the loss of lives across the blurred lines of the human race. Our flags were flown high, we remembered to say ‘I love you’, we restored a sense of community. Gradually, we have put the walls back up. There looms a real and vibrant threat to our America and yet there are those who choose to wage war within the confines of their own WTHcommunity. There is no greater power we can give those who encroach our borders intent to destroy our homeland than to present as a nation divided. Stand on principle, but don’t throw it through a store window and grab 30 pairs of shoes. Use your right to freedom of speech to whichever end you wish, but let’s be clear– if you exercise that right in the middle of the interstate and I am trying to get home from work, I no longer give a shit what you have to say. — WTH???

 

Bonus Track: Kevin was leaving the house Sunday evening and he called to tell me there was a calf on the wrong side of the electric fence. He asked if I would go out and put him back in the field where he belonged. I had my workout clothes on, so I kicked off my running shoes and donned my boots and headed out to get the job done. He told me to grab the orange plastic handle on the fence to unhook it. I did and my hand slipped and I got the piss shocked out of me. Much to my amusement, Sophi captured the whole thing on video. When I asked her why she was videoing me she said, “I had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well.” —-WTH???

Watch for Falling Rock

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It was an ordinary road sign; A warning of caution for the possibility of ‘Falling rockRock’. For me, it was memory triggered—a story from long ago that resonates with the little girl I once was. It was a time when my heart was curious, untainted and not yet scarred cynical by the jarring of life’s potholes.

Before I was old enough to attend school and many summers of my youth, my grandparents took me camping. We would wind through the foothills and mountains of the Ozarks to lakes with names such as Wappapello, Bull Shoals, and Table Rock. We would ride in the cab of my Grandpa’s yellow Chevy pickup truck down the endless twists, turns, and hills of the two-lane highways. The windows would always be down and there was a worn spot in the floorboard where I could see the highway passing beneath us. There was always a pouch of Red Man tobacco in the side pocket of the door and a tin can just beneath Grandpa’s seat, which he used as a spittoon. The smell of the tobacco in the foil pouch is something so ingrained into my childhood that just typing the words creates an olfactory memory so strong it makes my heart ache. For me, getting there was a huge part of the adventure.

My grandparents, however, probably remember it a little differently. In fact, here are some endearing things I remember my grandma saying during our ‘adventures’: “You move around more than a worm in hot ashes.”

“If you don’t sit still, I am going to sit you out on the side of the road and I might not even pick you up on our way back through.”

And the number one thing that my dear sweet grandma liked to say to me is:

“You are worse than black chicken $hit. Has anyone ever told you that, because it’s true!” (Why yes, Grandma. I believe you told me that at mile-marker one-thirty-two. Right before you threatened to put me on the side of the road).

 

Evidently, I liked to chatter. Evidently, I chattered a great deal.   Grandpa would also eventually tire of my endless prattle and intervene right before grandma traded me to a band of gypsies for a one eared billy goat (her idea not mine). Grandpa’s most genius and long-standing method of stifling me on a road trip was telling me the legend of ‘Falling Rock.”

 

Grandpa: Poncho, can you read? (Grandpa called me poncho because I always wore a little blue poncho. It was the seventies.)

Me: Grandpa, I am five years old. Of course I can read.

Grandpa: Well, tell me what this sign says up here.gpa

Me: It says, “Watch for Falling Rock”

Grandpa: Do you know why that sign is there?

Me: I don’t know. Because rocks might fall out of the sky and land on us.

Grandpa: Don’t tell me you have never heard the story of Falling Rock.

Me: Tell me.

Grandpa: Are you sure you have never heard it? I thought everyone knew about Falling Rock.

Me: No! I haven’t! Tell me, Grandpa. Please!

Grandpa: Many years ago, there was a brave Indian Chief. He had a large tribe. He never had a son. He only had one daughter. He named her Falling Rock and she was the Indian Princess and was loved and adored by the entire tribe. The Indian chief loved her more than he loved anything in the whole wide world. Falling Rock loved to explore the streams and caves around her village, but one day when she was about….how old are you, Poncho.

Me: Grandpa, I am five years old.

Grandpa: Yes, she was just about your age. Five years old, maybe six at the time…well she wandered too far from camp and she got lost. The Indian Chief and the tribe and even other tribes in the land searched high and low for Falling Rock, but she was nowhere to be found. The Indian Chief spent the rest of his life searching for her and he put up these signs along the road to remind people to keep an eye out for his lost Indian princess.

Me: He is still looking for her?

Grandpa: Well, the chief died of a broken heart, but his tribe is still around here and they promised they would never quit looking for her. Do you think you could keep an eye out for her while we drive??

Me: Yes!!! I will watch for her.

Grandpa: You have to watch very closely and pay attention. She could be anywhere along here.

 

And so it was…I dutifully scanned the tree lines, the ditches, and passing barns for the little Indian Princess. This was our routine and we continued this way as we would wind down the Missouri highways. I held onto this notion of a lost Indian princess long past the point my logical mind knew better. It was something I believed in longer than Santa or the Easter Bunny. It was time and space and sights and smells that I longed to keep alive. Maybe that’s why I kept searching for her for so long. It wasn’t about finding the lost Indian girl, it was about preserving something fleeting that I knew was eventually going to pass.

It was an ordinary road sign.   Sometimes the ordinary things fill in the spaces of my heart in extraordinary ways.

It’s a Heart Condition

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I have a relatively high aptitude for imperfection. It’s no secret that I have fumbled my way through life and managed to mess up things on a pretty routine basis. Based on my predisposition for blunders, one would think I would have a high tolerance for others acting a fool. Most of the time this is completely true; I have a high tolerance and understanding for the human condition. This weekend was not one of those times.

Nothing brings out the ridiculousness in people like youth sporting events. It’s like a convention for short-sighted delusional parents. The dads of the quick-handed 8 year olds or the off-the-growth-chart-early 12 year olds are compulsively barking from the bleachers to their obviously superior genetic offspring. The same DNA patriarchs can often be found red-faced and berating the inexcusable effort of a well-intentioned aspiring athlete. And the moms…they can be categorized into a few different groups:
1. The Maniac Mom-yells at the ref, the coach, her kid, other kids and parents. Usually she has poor grammar and is wearing ill-fitted yoga pants.
2. The Hoity-Toity Mom- Well groomed and manicured with expensive handbags and shoes. She will quickly tell you how great her child is, how much exclusive training he/she has had, and will eventually crack like an egg and yell unabashedly in frustration if the momentum shift too far in the other direction.
3. The Annoyingly Celebratory Mom-They travel in packs. They have matching team gear and loudly credit one another on the respective child’s performance: OMG, Gladys. Ashley’s shooting just like she did in that game against the Lions! That camp you sent her to is paying off—or— Beverly, what have you been feeding that boy, he has gotten every rebound. Annoyingly Celebratory Moms continue to scream and cheer, even when their team is decidedly better and up by 20 points.

Sadly, this seems to be the norm; the status quo of youth sports in these United States of America. There is an epidemic of perspective lost. I saw a Facebook post last week about a parent screaming at a 14 year old line judge at a volleyball flagtournament. Three weeks ago, my son stood up for one of my husband’s players when a coach from the other team was screaming at her and the opposing team’s parents in the stands turned into a spider monkey posse against my son. Note: My son’s response escalated into the realm of inappropriateness, at which point I was accused of being a $hitty parent by group of vigilante strangers. Evidently, losing makes them CRANKY. Two weeks ago, my husband had to call the police at the tournament our club was hosting because an unruly parent refused to leave after being ejected by the referee. Someone hand me my red flag, it’s time to wave it.

This weekend was a tough one. His team played and lost to the cranky team with a band of misguided parents backing them. After the game, one of our players was on the phone talking to her dad and was overheard saying, “We played bad. We just lost to a team we usually beat by thirty.” One of the Moms from the other team stopped and snidely said, “Yeah….but you didn’t beat them today.” Like an idiot, I piped up and said, “Way to be classy, lady,” and just as the words rolled off my tongue, I saw a little girl playing near is. She was probably seven, her eyes were bright and her smile wide. She reminded me of a place I had been and more importantly, of the person I want to be. I turned and walked outside.

Her name was Annette. I met her in a village on the outskirts of Kampala in Uganda. She was small, beautiful, and smart. She was also hungry. She was hungry for food, but she was also hungry for affection. I was fortunate to be able to annette2give her both. For an entire day, she wrapped herself in all the love and attention I could give her. She slept on my lap and I kept the flies off of her face and traced the creamy softness of her skin in the heat. I met and loved on so many children during my short time in Africa, but this one left a mark on the tender flesh of my heart. Seeing that little girl at the basketball game who so resembled Annette, caused a knot to form in my throat and a lurch of regret in my heart.

I was reminded how easy it is to lose perspective and to get sucked into the craziness of the world around me. Flexible is something I strive to be, pliable is something I resist being. I don’t think it is ironic that a poor bright-eyed child from a village 8000 miles away is helping meannette3 to strive to be a better person. I think it is powerfully purposeful. It’s a shameful part of my character that I would need to be reminded at all.

Perhaps, this post is nothing more of than an expose of my judgmental spirit. After all, it isn’t nice to generalize people at youth sporting events into categories. The truth is, there are many times when I could easily be grouped in with the ridiculous people. Sometimes it’s difficult to see when I am in the midst of the madness. It is much easier to see when the truth is reflected in the memory of the face of a hungry child. Today I remembered what is important. It isn’t about the score or which kid is bigger faster or better. It’s about being human and teaching kids the values you want them to have both on and off the court. Reaching down to help a fallen opponent is every bit as significant as reaching out to a hungry child in a village on the other side of the world.

As adults, we set the tone. We lead with our attitudes, good or bad. At times, I am annette1guilty of joining in the frenzied actions of the ridiculous people, but I am learning. For today, I listened to my heart. It’s a heart condition, of sorts. Isn’t that’s what it’s called when your heart doesn’t work the way it used to?

What Lies Between the Hectic

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What Lies Between the Hectic

I am guilty. I live life too fast, take on too much and try to cram way too much activity into an incredibly small space of time. My mom used to say I went at everything half-cocked and half-assed, which is more or less true.
This weekend was an action-packed full-throttle weekend. Now it’s Monday and I am tired, my laundry situation is critical, and I am bummed because I missed two of my favorite little guys’ birthday party. However, I did manage to attend one day of a two day track meet, coach four basketball games, watch at least six more basketball games, cook one decent meal, discard another perfectly good meal by accident (sorry, Kim) and remembered to buy dog food and people food at the store yesterday evening.
I need balance. I have never had it. I am an unbalanced individual. My children are unbalanced. Most of our meals are unbalanced. My husband, Kevin, is the only thing consistently centered and balanced in our household. We are like a bunch of spastic little electrons spinning around him. He is our nucleus.
There are kids, dogs, cats, laundry, sports, and chaos happening all the time and there is always at least one person claiming to be on the verge of starvation at all times. I look around at other families at the youth sporting events and envy the collective manner in which they seem to have it all together. I imagine their dinners with foods from all the food groups, all the laundry folded and tucked away, and everyone waking in the mornings to the smell of bacon frying. It’s a far cry from my reality. In my world, pizza is counted as a healthy choice, even if it has zero veggies on it. The Thurman’s battle over the last clean towel before anyone would actually put of load in the washer and we usually start the mornings, with: “Oh $hit! (fill in the blank with any of the following:
a. We over slept
b. There is no more hot water.
c. The dog threw up on my pillow.
d. Does anyone know where my (track shoes, backpack, phone, hairbrush, etc.) is?

socksThis is NO LIE. Sophi has gone to school, not once, but TWICE without wearing shoes! She realized it when she was almost to school, but Kevin was getting onto Evan for one thing or another and so she chose to stay quiet. She hops out of the car in her socks, walks into school, and has the school secretary call me at work. The secretary said she had worked at the school for thirty years and had kids forget all kinds of things, but this was the first time she had ever encountered a kid who forgot to put on her shoes! (We Thurman’s like to set the bar really high). Sophi explained the situation, “Well, I put my shoes by the door and I grab them when I go out the door. Sometimes my ‘go’ gets ahead of my ‘grab’.”
Riley, my oldest, called to say she was coming home from college yesterday for an impromptu visit. This kicked me into ‘Mom mode’ and I went to the store to get people food (and dog food) and threw together a meal that included almost all of the food groups. Right before I finally closed by eyes last night (actually, it was early this morning before I got to close my eyes), I reflected on the best parts of my weekend. I concluded these were the best parts:
ariley• Snuggling with Riley and watching a movie long after I should have been asleep.
• Seeing my crew of young girls come together as a team and win will grace and lose with grace.
• Laughing at my son, Evan, as he entertained us with his unique and totally inappropriate sense of humor.
• Celebrating Kevin coaching Sophi’s team to a sweet tournament victory.magic
• After calling Kevin a maniac for tickling me until I screamed, he calmly asked me to give him a definition of a ‘maniac’. After my in-depth definition of a ‘maniac’, we lay there in silence for a few seconds. Realizing that I had just described myself to the letter, we both burst into laughter.
sophevanLike so many families, we are constantly on the go. We often let our ‘go’ get ahead of our ‘grab’. Sometimes, it seems like life is lived at a frantic pace, but I know better. There are those things found in the moments between the hectic that really count. The snuggles, laughter, love and smiles are the moments that matter. More time is something I wish for, but I have found I don’t really need more time; I just need to carve out more moments between the hectic.

This is How We Roll

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This is How We Roll

There are so many things I do that irritate my family. I sing and dance in the mornings…I can’t really sing or dance, but it doesn’t keep me from trying. My son has informed me on more than one occasion that he doesn’t like to ‘chit-chat’ in the mornings, so I am pretty certain that my song and dance routines put him over the edge. The other things I do which drive my family crazy include, but are not limited to:

  • I consistently send text message without getting right to the point.  Evidently, I should refrain from textual speak like I am initiating a conversation.  I have been instructed on several occasions to just “JUST SAY WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!”

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  • I concoct grand adventures the dogs supposedly go on when we are gone or sleeping.  Cooper, our Yorkie, has worked Intel for the FBI and also has been on Dancing with the Stars.  They must now know what it’s like to have an imagination stuck in overdrive.
  • I watch Finding Bigfoot
  • I tend to give them unconventional advice and useless information. (Please ignore my incorrect language usage)

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  • I accidently break the rules (important ones).  Like bringing ammunition to school in a gym bag.

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It wouldn’t exactly be fair for me to take credit for all that is annoying.  These little darlings have a few little quirks that get under my skin as well.

  •  Nine out of ten text messages Evan sends me are on the subject of food or that he is officially starving.
  • Sophi doesn’t put a lid on makeup, toothpaste or deodorant.  (OMG this drives me nuts).
  • Riley always looks like a million bucks but leaves a DISASTER behind while getting ready (category 4 hurricane, this one is).
  • None of my children believe in the possibility of Bigfoot.
  • They all say, “We can tell when Dad goes to the store because he buys good food” (donuts, chips, candy, cookie dough….)
  • The NUMBER ONE thing that is maddening beyond words:

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I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  It isn’t perfect, it’s just how we roll.

 

 

 

 

 

The Broken Swan this Side of Heaven

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My family had to say goodbye to a fantastic lady today. After 95 years, my grandmother, Violet Stephens, ended her journey on this earth. This special lady left this world just as a person of her caliber should have—surrounded by people who loved and adored her. I wasn’t there when she passed, but I did love and adore her. I was fortunate that she spent the last year living in the nursing facility where I work. So, I got to see her and hug her and kiss her anytime I want. She was precious.

The truth is, she wasn’t even my biological grandma. I was a step. Sometimes that can be complicated. I was 13 years old when I became her grandchild and there was little else more complicated than I was at that age (except for maybe ages 15-19). It wasn’t complicated for Grandma. She just lumped my sister and me in with the rest of them and loved us like she had been there when they cut our cords. I would like to say it was because we were so special, but that wasn’t is at all. It was because she was special.

Grandma was a gentile sprit and kind nearly to a fault. She was the type of person who would go out of her way for other people and wouldn’t expect anything in return. She was someone I didn’t want to disappoint, because she was just such a doll. Once, when my sister and I were spending the night with her and my grandpa, she brought us a flashlight. She said, “Girls, I am giving you this flashlight so you won’t get lost if you have to get up in the night to use the bathroom.” I can’t really capture how endearing this gesture was. The bathroom was literally three steps outside the room where we were sleeping. The house was tiny and cozy and there was exactly zero chance of us getting lost. She was precious.

There was something I should have told Grandma and I didn’t. This isn’t like me at all, because I am pretty forthcoming about my plethora of blunders. I was sixteen and attending a family gathering at Grandma’s. Nearly everyone had congregated in the backyard and I had made my way to the sit on the front step. I was sitting next to a concrete planter that was fashioned into the shape of a swan. It was full of blooming red flowers and I casually reached up and put my hand around the beak of the swan. A good-sized portion of the beak broke off into my hand. Looking back, I know that Grandma would have just brushed it aside had I taken the beak to her and told her what had happened. But I didn’t. I did what I sometimes do in sticky situations–I improvised. I used the gum I was chewing to stick the beak back into place. I am normally not a good secret keeper, but I kept this one for a long time.

Twenty-six years have passed and as of yesterday, that swan with the bum beak was still sitting in front of Grandma’s house. I came clean to my sisters and my step-dad a few years ago and they have all teased me about telling Grandma I broke her swan planter. They never told either. I should have told her. It wouldn’t have mattered to her. It mattered to me.

A few months ago Grandma became very sick and we had to take her to the hospital. I went and sat with her until my aunts and uncles could get there. She was weak and barely able to stay awake or talk. Several times she opened her eyes and I would smile and say, “Hi there, Sleeping Beauty.” Each time that day she said the same thing to me: You aren’t my real grandchild. You aren’t my great-grandchild. You are a really great grandchild. She had never said that to me before that day and never said it to me again. I should have told her then I broke her swan.

At her funeral, my mom (who is a dynamic speaker) shared that my Grandma had left a note to her and my step-dad on a visit to their home about fifteen years ago. It was also something Grandma hadn’t spoken to them about before or since she left it. It was a request to have the following poem read at her funeral:

“Miss Me But Let Me Go”

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little-but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me-but let me go

For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me but let me go.

Author: Anonymous

My Grandma didn’t have many worldly possessions. She didn’t need many. She was content in her family, faith and community. I am a step. Sometimes that gets complicated, but I have decided to ask for the broken swan. I think it would look lovely on my porch with the flowers blooming and a broken beak. Moreover, it will serve to remind me to strive to be more like her. Maybe I can choose to focus on the good in people, to serve others more and to put God and family first. I get that wrong a lot of the time. She got it right. If I am entrusted with the planter, I hope Grandma knows it will be the most treasured broken swan this side of heaven.

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Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

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Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

Today was one of those days, when I question my parental aptitude. It was a day of kidpiesecond-guessing my maternal competency and sorting through my stacks of ‘should’ve, could’ve wish-I-would haves’. There were many years that I would allow guilt (perceived or genuinely earned) to consume me. I would sling that heavy bastard on my back and lug him around with me. Several years ago I decided on a lifestyle change. With a steady diet of personal reflection and regular exercises in what can I learn from this, I have trimmed down the guilt-weight. With that being said, there are days like today when Guilt knocks me down and his stupid friend, Doubt, sits on my chest and I can hardly breathe.

My three children are so completely different from one another; it is almost a stretch to think they share any of the same genetic material. When my oldest, Riley, was born I could sit her in her highchair and clean the entire kitchen and she would entertain herself with little toys or finger foods. I could put Evan in his highchair and he would beat on it, throw things, or rock it so hard it would almost tip over. Sophi would stay in her highchair for about 2.7 seconds. Even when buckled in, she would Houdini her way out and be out of sight before I could turn around. From the naked mole rat stage to their current stages of development, they have been utterly dissimilar.

So when one child feels slighted by the attention, treatment, or overall parental nurturing, it is like a stake to my heart. I immediately feel compelled to justify my parental portions. Mentally I start making note of the pieces of my love, discipline, and attention. I become totally aware that there are absolutely no ‘do-overs’ in this life and there is a good chance that I need a flippin’ do-over. The pieces of my pie are not cut and served in three identical portions. I screwed up serving my parenalt pie. Doubt is sitting squarely upon my chest.

I have been trying to get a good foot-hold on this parenting gig for over 22 years now. The mistakes I have made are many and being double-teamed today by Guilt and his fool-ass friend, Doubt, is a crappy way to start my week. There is a lot of week that I have to get through and there is a lot of fight left in my imperfect mom-self. It is time to pick myself up and dust myself off and own this Mom-thing. So, I might go down, but I am going down cutting this pie the best way I know how.

What I want my children to know:

1. I am so far from perfect that if you could buy parents, you would probably find me at the Ninety-Nine Cent Store. My love for you is not flawed. It is the best thing about me.

2. The decisions I make about your siblings is independent of the decisions I kidsmake about you. I wouldn’t put diesel fuel in a car that runs on unleaded. It doesn’t work.

3. You didn’t come with a manual. I have done my very best to make you feel loved, safe, and adored. You are loved, safe, and adored.

4. Life is not fair. It is never going to be. I have not treated you equally. I have, however, loved you equally. It is the only perfect portion I have to offer. I will never waiver on loving you each with every fiber of my being. This will be true forever.

5. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. Your siblings are not perfect. Life starts to make sense when we can look past one another’s imperfections and focus on the ‘good stuff’. Sometimes you have to look for the ‘good stuff’.

6. My days are numbered. I cannot live forever. Love one another. Forgive one another. Keep one another safe. If I can leave one legacy, it would be for you to always share the love I have given you with one another. Life is too short to fight over pie.