Friday, April 4, 2014

Steal Like A Daughter: 7 Things My Parents Taught Me I Intend To Run Off With.

I am not an actual thief, however I think I would be a good one. Mainly because I am both sneaky, innocent looking and a high risk taker. Growing up my parents taught me things I plan to take with me into my future. Below are those "things"

1. Dogs Are The Best Pets And The Best Kind Of Friends 

            I will always remember getting my first dog in 3rd grade. My dad took us out of town to a little house that had a litter of full breed black Labradors. My dad knelt before all the puppies and the one that came forward boldly and full of excitement we took home. I was obsessed with Charnie (we named her this Russian name as it means black). I wrote a whole book on Charnie complete with pictures I drew. My parents lamented it as they were so proud of my first book. I thought they practically published it for me! Charnie was like my adopted black haired sister. She would sleep next to my bed during thunderstorms, she would run with me on endless dirt road roads as I trained for track in school,  she would bounce up and down upon my coming home arrival, she would come as soon as I called for her out of desperation when I was home alone and would bark like she was going to rip stranger danger's throat out (though she never actually would). She never lied and had the worst poker face. Sometimes her face just looked full of guilt and then I would know…she found my chocolate stash... and ate all of it…

2. Eating Well Is Important

            Since my dad is a diabetic my mom always cooked really healthy for us growing up. I was the kid who brought the sack lunch with carrots and cucumbers and whole wheat bread while my friends munched on fruit roll ups, Cheetos, white bread and oh Lunchables…nothing made me more jealous than Lunchables! In hindsight I am very grateful my mom cared more about giving me what I needed nutritionally so I would have the energy my growing body craved, more than what my friends thought. 

3. You Can Always Be Thrifty

            Growing up we always had enough money. However we rarely went out to eat or went to the theater. We shopped at thrift stores. We bought things on sale. We went to farmer's markets and cut down our own (free!) Christmas tree on our land. We played cards or went on nature walks. My parents saved often so we could go on family vacations where entertainment was seen as special and not just the usual. I think being thrifty can always be hip. Scott and I work hard to do thrifty activities as entertainment. We never pass up a forgotten penny on the sidewalk.  I am grateful that I was taught to use my imagination and within that developed a world of creative ideas. I realized the best ideas are not bought or shopped for, they're already inside of me and the people I care about. 

4. Never Underestimate The Power Of Nature 

            I was taught to recycle, never litter, and to give back to nature. My parents encouraged us to play outside rather than inside. At times, I'll think back to the land we lived on and realize that nature is my favorite type of amusement park. It was full of trails, water, wildlife, secret spots, places to hide for capture the flag and flashlight tag. We picked berries for ice-cream from mulberry bushes and had a large garden. Today I am sincerely grateful to be living in San Diego where it’s sunny almost every day and I can get my fill of vitamin D by stepping outside of the office for even a half hour. Over the holidays I love going home to the Midwest where I get my fill of snow and freezing temperatures while enjoying nature’s beautiful seasons.

5. Reading Is A Hobby For All Ages 

            From the time I was little my parents read to me every night before bed. We read Dr. Seuss, Berenstein Bears, and Corduroy. I would fantasize about staying at a mall all night or growing up in a tree house. As far as buying goes my parent’s “soft spot” was always books. Whatever books we put down on our Christmas list we would usually unwrap under the tree. I would often wake up to my parents reading with morning coffee, and as I got older and stayed up later would find them reading before bed. Now Scott and I read to each other and love sharing quotes from our favorite books. As I started  therapy with at-risk and low-income adolescents I realized what a rare treasure it was to be able to read anything and everything. I often read to my clients in session inspirational stories or classic tales as many of them did not grow up being read to. Research shows that reading boosts the brain pathways. Readers are said to listen better, and process speech faster. Research is showing that kids who have lived in “enriched environments” where reading was present have thinner cortexes later in life. Thinner cortexes have been linked with higher intelligence! I am so grateful my parents saw the importance of creating an environment of reading. Okay, now I will get off my soap box!

6. Siblings Are Lifers 

            My parents always taught me to get along with my younger sisters. They taught us to share, to say “I’m sorry” and to be inclusive. My parents told me we could be best friends. I watched both my parents plan trips with their siblings. I watched their loyalty and love to their brothers and sisters. It made me think that no matter where my sisters and I ended up someday we would always be close. Today, this is so true as my sisters are my best friends and my biggest cheerleaders and greatest fans. I really improved on sharing too. Although as I got older it was more exciting to share clothes than toys. Now when my sisters come to visit we can’t wait to swap clothes.

 I may have bought this dog for my sister's birthday and then traded her for my old weird dog to have the new one….
 Apparently some things never change, I'm still stealing my sister's gifts….

7. Road Trippers Rock

            I grew up taking road trips everywhere. And by everywhere I mean everywhere. From Nebraska we drove to Tennessee to Virginia. We drove from Nebraska to Alaska (plus a little boat ride) From Montana we walked to Canada. I drove to Minnesota to California. I have been to 40 of the 50 states and that is not because of airports that is because of driving. My parents would take us on long road trips on our Christmas breaks, spring breaks and summer vacations. It is some of my favorite memories. My sisters and I would sit in the back and read or write and talk about the strangest and most random things to pass the time. We would play the alphabet game as a family, hang-man, and “going on a picnic” game. We would make goals and stop at funny gas stations and creative rest stops. We would try different kinds of food and coffee. As a child I hated getting up early and today I STILL hate getting up early. The only time in the world I actually I enjoy getting up early is when I am going on a road trip. I will get up at any hour to go on a trip. Scott and I have started getting up at 3:30am to make it up to Yosemite for Thanksgiving from San Diego and it something I look forward to for months. Thanks to my parents for fostering an adventurous and traveling spirit in me.

One of our first vacations to San Diego from Nebraska. We stayed at beautiful Sea Port Village. 

* Disclaimer: My parents taught me a lot of other things that are not listed above such as how to count and the alphabet. They also introduced me to Jesus. However I don’t need to steal Jesus because Jesus shares! J