Tag Archives: family

ABCDad

Dear Dad,

I’ll admit it: You are pretty cool. Sure, you might embarrass the hell out of me from time to time and have the cheesiest jokes; but, you’re also one of my biggest supporters, best coaches, and closest friends.

When I think of what a good dad should be, I think of you. Yeah, you don’t know what to do if I randomly burst into tears or understand why I need so many different pairs of shoes, but you’re one of the best people in my life. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

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In case you’ve forgotten how cool you are, I’ve created a list to remind you:

A – Altruistic. Thanks for teaching me to put others before myself. I grew up watching you care for the people around you–whether that be our family or friends or even someone we didn’t necessarily know. You make time for people who need it. You offer a helping hand where you can. You’ve been an example of kindness since my first breaths.

B – Buoyant. To be buoyant is to be characterized by liveliness or lightheartedness. And that you are. I can always count on you to crack a joke or make a funny face. People gravitate toward you because of your lightheartedness–as seen by your wide and far-reaching friend circle.

C – Coach. Dad, you took the time to teach me the rules of the game (any and all.) You encouraged me to try any sport that I found interesting. You practiced with me on and off of the court/field so that I could be successful and skilled. It takes a lot of patience to work with kids, especially ones who get frustrated when they’re not great at something; Yet you always encouraged me to keep trying until I finally did get it. You even volunteered your time to coach middle school girls’ basketball. That alone deserves an award.

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D – Daring. When faced with a choice between easy and challenging, you push yourself. I watched you leave a company after many years of commitment with the aspirations of more. You stepped out of your comfort zone and worked your ass off to provide for our family. You took a chance on yourself and persevered through tough times. Because of you, I know that I too can dare to expect more than easy and comfortable in my life.

E – Ethical. You’ve taught me the difference between right and wrong from a young age. You are honest and always do what’s best for the whole.

F – Friend. I think that this is one of the best words I can use to describe you. And I think many others would agree with me. I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of friends you have in your life. I grew up surrounded by amazing, wonderful, and kind people because you know how to pick good friends and you continue to be a good friend. Not only are you my dad, but you are also my friend, too. You are my sounding board and supporter, and I love you so much for that.

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G – Generous. You are a generous person. If someone is in need, you help in big or small ways. I’ve grown up watching you volunteer your time and energy at multiple organizations because you wanted to make a difference. You think beyond yourself and care for others in whatever way you can.

H – Hardworking. Dad, you are honestly the hardest working person I know. Whether it be getting stuff done around the house, sports, or work itself–you make sure that the job is done and that it’s done well. You hate when I say, “It is what it is,” because in your mind you can always work to improve whatever the situation is.  When you set out to start your own business, you put in hours and hours (and still continue to) of hard work to build something you were proud of. Four offices and a million hours later, you’ve established a successful and growing business that anyone could be proud of.I’m fortunate that you’ve instilled that work ethic in me, too. You pushed me to try my best at everything I’ve set out to do and it’s made me a better person.

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I – Intelligent. You’re a smart cookie–even if I don’t like to admit it. You know more random facts than most people I know and that’s pretty cool. Throughout the years you’ve taught me more than I think you’ll ever know.

J – Judicious. You use good judgement and common sense. You are a practical person. This is another quality that has made you successful throughout the years.

K – Kind. You can make friends with anyone you meet. I used to hate running errands with you when I was little because I knew it meant that we would bump into someone you knew and a five minute task would turn into a half hour. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned to appreciate and respect this quality about you a lot. You genuinely care to know how people are doing and can always find a way to make conversation with whoever your path crosses.

L – Loving. The boys and I are so lucky to have grown up in a loving family. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but you and mom have always taught us to overcome our differences and love one another. I’ve had an amazing example of love throughout my life because of you and mom. I’ve watched you come home from work and give her a kiss or hold hands walking down the street for 24 years now. These actions, though little, mean so much. Your example of love has set the standards high for my own.

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M – Multifaceted. You’re good at many things. As told by this list.

N – Neighborly. As I’ve mentioned above–you’re a good person. You help when you can. You do what’s right. Any one would be lucky to have you in their corner. And lucky for me, you’re stuck in mine.

O – Open. You are not afraid to tell it like it is. I don’t always love to hear what you have to say; But, for the most part, I appreciate having someone in my life who isn’t afraid to give it to me straight. On more than one occasion you’ve given me the reality check I need. You level with me when I need it.

P – Permanent. You are a permanent and important fixture in so many peoples’ lives. I know that whatever road life takes me down, you’ll always be there. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you in it and I’m so glad I’ve never had to. I love knowing that you will always be there for me–even when I’m far away.

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Q – Quick-witted. You’ve always got a quick response for everything. You make me roll my eyes on occasion, but I’ll admit it, you’re pretty funny.

R – Reliable. I know that I can count on you. If you say you’ll do something, you’ll do it. You follow through and have always taught us that we should do the same. You would never turn your back on someone. I feel lucky to know that you’ll always have my back.

S – Sarcastic. Thanks for passing that on, too.

T – Thankful. This is something I am because of you. I hope this list gives you an idea of how much I appreciate all that you do and all that you are. You have always been one of the most important and influential people in my life. You have many qualities that I aspire for. To have known you since my first breath is a lucky, lucky thing. I couldn’t have asked for a better dad.

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U – Understanding. Once upon a time, when I may or may not have gotten my second speeding ticket in the span of a month, I cried to mom because I was scared of what you might say when I told you. When I finally mustered up the courage, all you said was, “Shit happens.” You’ve been witness to my mistakes, but you’ve never put me down because of them. You’ve taught me how to laugh it off and learn from it. I’m thankful for a dad who has allowed me to spread my wings, but who will always be there with open arms when I fall.

V – Values. Thanks for teaching me right from wrong. Thanks for teaching me to appreciate the good stuff. Thanks for teaching me what is truly valuable in life.

W – Wise. Not only are you intelligent, but you are also wise. You have experienced a fair bit of life and are better because of it. You have weathered through whatever storm life has thrown at you and come out stronger in the aftermath.

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X – (E)Xcellent. You’re going to have to cut me some slack here–there aren’t many great X adjectives to choose from. You are an excellent person, friend, husband, and father. Anyone who knows you is lucky.

Y – You. You are you. And I love that.

Z – Zero. There are zero other people in the world that I would want to call my dad.

I don’t tell you often enough how thankful I am to have you in my life. So although I can’t celebrate this Father’s Day with you, I hope this list begins to express how great you are and how lucky I feel to call you my dad. Thanks for being who you are and inspiring who I am. You are truly one in a million.

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Love,

Your baby girl

 

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I know I’ve said it before, but let’s be honest–I could never really say it enough.

Thank you.

Thank you for carrying me for nine, long, uncomfortable months. You took care of me before you knew who I was, before you had seen my face, and before you had heard my cry. You loved me unconditionally from the start, and that’s something I could never say thank you enough for.

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Thanks for putting up with sleepless nights when I finally did arrive. You held me close while I cried. You put my needs before your own. And you did all of this while caring for another two crazy children, managing a home, and working. I’ll never know how you survived it.

Which leads me to my next thank you: Thank you for raising a loving family. Do we all get along 24/7? No. But for the most part, I’d say we’ve got it pretty good. You’ve performed a juggling act for the last 28 years and managed to raise three kids who aren’t half bad (biased opinion.) You gave me my first friends–even if the boys didn’t always let me play Power Rangers with them in the backyard. You’ve also given me a beautiful example of what love is. Growing up, I watched you and Dad care for one another, work out your differences, and hug and kiss every night. Because of you, I know to be picky with who I choose to spend my life with. Because of you, I know what a happy family should look like.

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You cared for me when I was sick. I know I’ve thanked you for it, but I’ve never TRULY thanked you for it. Kids are sticky and messy to begin with, but you’ve dealt with the worst of the worst. Thanks for holding my hair, taking my temperature, and squeezing my hand during those seriously awful strep tests.

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Thank you for nurturing my growth. You made sure I ate well, played often, and slept peacefully. Beyond just my physical needs, you encouraged me to find my own interests, use my imagination, foster meaningful relationships, and chase my dreams–no matter what those were at the time. Because of you, I’ve always felt confident to go for what I want. You taught me that it’s okay that not everything comes easily. You sat with me when I needed extra help and you smiled proudly when I did it all on my own. You gave me the courage to spread my wings and become who I am today.

You’ve led by example. You went back to school, changed your career path, and proved that you can be whatever you want to be at any age. You’ve been understanding of my indecision as I’ve aged. You’ve talked me through my options and you’ve never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to (except swimming lessons–but in hindsight thanks for those too.)

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Thanks for never saying, “I told you so.” You watched me mature and make choices that I don’t look back fondly upon. You stood (stand) there patiently during sassy days. You listen while I complain about things gone wrong. But never once have you made me feel worse about my short-comings. Instead, you make me laugh. You help me see the positives in bad situations, the humor in unflattering fashion, hair, makeup, etc., choices, and the benefits of all I’ve been through. Thanks for continuing to do this at every stage of my life.

Mom, you’ve stood/sat/laid beside me during my darkest hours. From grief to heartbreak, you’ve been the one to rub my back, hold me close, and tell me that it will all be alright. You’ve cried with me. You’ve talked me through the tough stuff. And you’ve always been there for a hug when I need you the most.

You’ve also celebrated with me during the happiest of times. You’ve been a listening ear to all of my good news. You’ve shared my excitement over new beginnings and adventures. You’ve laughed, danced, and jumped with me through all of the fun stuff.

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Thank you for all of the times you make me laugh. There’s not much I love more than laughing hard with you–especially when the Tierney snort comes out. You and Dad frequently tell me that I’m weird, but it never stops you from joining in on the weirdness with me. You allow me to be goofy and sarcastic. You don’t get freaked out by my strange faces. And you laugh at my stupid jokes. Not all moms are that cool.

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You have always encouraged me to be open and honest with you. I know that I can come to you with literally anything. I love that I’ve never felt the need to hide anything from you or to be embarrassed to tell you something.

Momma, not only are you my mother, you’re also my best friend. We’ve been lucky to have always gotten along well. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten to really know who you are as a person–not just as my mom. And I’ve got to say, you’re really great. You’re my go-to shopping-partner, play-seer, bike-rider, adventure-goer, and couch-lounger. We’ve had some really great times throughout the years. From traveling the world to laying in the living room, your company is always enjoyable. With you I can sit in a comfortable silence, sing my heart out to the radio, or talk until I run out of breath. I’m so thankful to know that that will never change.

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I cherish you and all you’ve done for me. There will never be a day in my life that I won’t be thankful that God gave me you. Without you, I wouldn’t be me.

From the bottom of my heart: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

With all my love,

Your baby girl

 

 

22 Things I Learned on my First Holiday Away from Home

One of the biggest hindrances for my decision to move to Thailand was the thought of missing some of my favorite days–especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. And while realistically it is only a few days on the calendar, it is much more than that for a sentimental girl like myself.

Being away for the holidays means missing out on time spent with loved ones, good food, laughs, and the festive spirit. I don’t hear the merry tunes or see the beautiful decorations. It means I save money on presents, but don’t see my family’s smiles when they open gifts chosen specifically for them.

Being away for the holidays in an Eastern country, means even more: No tinseled trees or decorations, no fancy cookies, no seasonal drinks, no lights on the houses, no shopping, no wrapping, no singing classic songs, and no talk of mass or Jesus’ birth. Christmas in a small town in Thailand is practically nonexistent.

As I remind myself that there will be many more Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Years to come, I’m thankful for the many things I’ve learned while away from home during the holiday season:

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1. New friends become your family.

I came into my TESOL program knowing only a few names and faces from brief Facebook conversations. From the first day in Bangkok I met people I knew would become great friends. I feel beyond fortunate to have spent each of my holidays with these amazing people. The laughs and adventures shared dimmed the sadness of missing home. While they were unconventional holidays, they are ones I will never forget because of the people I spent them with.

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2. Online shopping is a wonderful way to participate in your family’s gift exchange.

In my house, Christmas day tradition involves waking up early for an hour or two of immediate family time before the troops come rolling in. We open our gifts and toast to another year with mimosas. The idea of not participating in this tradition didn’t sit well with me. Shout out to the wonderful World Wide Web for allowing me to participate in giving, even in a small way.

3. FaceTime is the best invention in the world.

Again, God bless the world of technology. I can’t imagine this time away without the ability to see my favorite peoples’ faces regularly. I was able to join the celebrations on a few occasions, and while it gave me serious surges of homesickness, it was comforting to still be able to connect with my loved ones.

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4. It’s an equally emotional time for those at home.

I won’t lie, I had some bad days over the holiday season. Sure, I kept myself busy, but it didn’t stop me from missing everyone around the world. Sometimes when you’re the one away, it’s easy to forget that you’re not the only one feeling down during this time. Nothing gets you crying quicker than having your dad tell you that Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without you. I was reminded that I wasn’t the only one feeling the distance.

5. 85+ degree days can make you forget what MN December feels like.

I see pictures of the snow and read about the cold, and think, “Wow, that sounds refreshing.” Then I slap myself. One of my Thai teachers says there are only two seasons in Thailand: Hot and very hot. She’s not kidding. The heat actually helped make these days easier for me. I certainly do not associate 85 degrees with Xmas, so it was simpler to forget what month it was exactly.

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6. Brunch that includes macaroni and cheese is equally as delicious as the feast your mother prepares (or at least close enough.)

I love brunch, but I especially love Christmas brunch. This year I treated myself to macaroni and cheese at 9:30am. Sounds kind of disgusting in hindsight, but when Western food is limited, you take what you can get.

7. It’s OK to splurge on unhealthy Western food to ease your homesickness.

While eating local food is definitely the most cost-effective route, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to treat yourself to the more expensive pizza and cake on Thanksgiving.

8. It’s OK to be a little sad. It means that you’re lucky enough to have people to miss at home.

While traveling and working abroad looks glamorous from the pictures posted on social media, it is not always the reality. I didn’t post pictures of the nights spent in my dingy hotel room reading letters from loved ones and missing home. These moments are important to understand and embrace. Sadness is okay. It only means that I’m fortunate to have people and traditions worth missing.

9. You can’t expect your day to feel the same as it would at home.

I filled Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with fun activities, but the days still didn’t resemble anything like they would at home. The cool thing about this is that I now have a year in my life that is completely unique to all others. I also have all the more reason to be excited for a return to the norm next year.

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(Decorations found in the primetime tourist spots. Thanks, Phuket!)

10. Life at home does not pause just because you are not partaking in it.

There will still be parties, events, laughs, and memories made while you are away. It’s one of the sacrifices of exploring the world.

11. There is nothing wrong with that.

You’re busy seeing and doing new things, becoming a new person, making new friends, learning new facts. It would be unfair to think that everyone else isn’t doing the same thing. As someone with a horrible case of FOMO, I sometimes struggle with missing out, but I am so happy for the new adventures my friends and family have started since I’ve been gone. With or without my presence, life goes on. Just as those closest to me were excited about my new adventures, I am excited for theirs.

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12. Christmas songs aren’t the same when you sit in a hot apartment, void of decorations.

I spent Xmas Eve doing laundry and cleaning my room. Exciting!!! I played the classics in the background, but it was not the same as listening to them while decorating the house or baking cookies with my mom.

13. You find a new appreciation for a white Christmas.

December and snow belong together in my mind and always will. Don’t get me wrong though, this does not mean I miss freezing my ass off (or shoveling.)

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(Winter 2015: I can’t remember what this feels like.)

14. The Grinch might make you cry.

Like I said, the holidays made me a bit emotional. After FaceTiming the fam jam on Christmas and settling in for the night, I turned to my beloved Netflix for a pick-me-up. Turns out The Grinch can actually make you tear up. As the movie says: it’s not about presents, it’s about love. And luckily—presents or not, near or far—I am so blessed with a lot of it. Thank God I didn’t try to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

15. Laughing is a wonderful way to pass your time.

Seriously.

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16. Crying because of laughing is an even better way to pass your time.

There were sad tears shed, but there were also many tears shed from laughter. These are the moments I will remember and cherish most from my year away. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the people who helped make this post possible.

17. Seeing familiar faces is the best thing ever.

I was fortunate enough to have some of my best friends visit over the New Year. I can’t tell you the anticipation I felt the week leading up to their arrival. I screamed, I jumped, I cried at the reunion. It’s the best feeling knowing that time apart will never break bonds like these. It was cool to show off the places I’ve been and the culture I live in. Having that small comfort of home during such a fun season was really a blessing. Thanks for flying 8,700 miles to ring in the New Year with me.

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18. It’s extremely heartwarming to be wished a Merry Christmas by someone who doesn’t celebrate it him or herself.

My students and co-teachers do not celebrate Xmas, or even know much about it. So to be wished a Merry Christmas by these people was very sweet.

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19. Which reminds you how important it is to have tolerance and respect for different cultures and traditions.

My school put on a Christmas production that included songs, a skit, and many, many Santa hats. They will also do this for Chinese New Year, even though they don’t celebrate it themselves. While it is not their religion or tradition, they respect that it is someone else’s. With all the political turmoil happening around the world right now, it seems so rare that we see such regard between differing cultures. My time here has reminded me that just because something is different, doesn’t mean it is wrong or unequal. I have such an increased respect for cultures different than my own. And it was a very heartwarming feeling to have that reciprocated back through my kids’ seasons’ greetings. We should all be more like them.

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20. Pinterest is a dangerous place when all you want is delicious treats.

I don’t have a refrigerator, kettle, stove, oven, microwave, anything resembling a kitchen appliance in my room. Now I don’t cook frequently at home, but I never realized how much I love having the option. During off periods at school, I’d find myself perusing Pinterest and would spend the rest of the day with my mouth watering thinking of the sweet treats I wasn’t eating.

21. Amazing family and friends are the true reason being away is so challenging.

While I did miss the traditions, what I missed the most were the people I spend each of those days with. I missed my dad, mom, and brothers. I missed my extended family that I so infrequently see. I missed my Prior Lake crew, which truly is an extension of family. I missed my PL Gang or Die and my UST Betches (classy group nicknames, I know.) Sure, I would have loved to be stuffing my face on Thanksgiving and sharing presents on Christmas, but what I missed most was the people I spend that time with.

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22. New friends can give you one of the most memorable holiday seasons yet.

I’ve been places, done things, eaten food, learned tidbits, and met people that I never even knew existed before October. While the holidays weren’t what I am used to (and I am extremely excited for 2017’s season already,) I am so grateful for all that I have been able to experience. No other year will be like 2016 and that’s all due to the amazing people I spent it with. I am so thankful for the friendships, laughs, and memories created on this crazy journey.

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In the end, I’m glad I didn’t let my fear of missing out keep me from this adventure because Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are truly just days on the calendar. What makes them special are the people you surround yourself with, and I can easily say that I am blessed with the best—near and far.

Now I just have to get myself through the Twin’s home opener and the 4th of July and it’ll be smooth sailing.

Happy belated holidays, reader!

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