My favorite….things I learned from my nieces and nephews

 Favorites month continues. Here is a list of (some of) my favorite things I’ve learned from the five crazy beings who call me auntie:

From Jake and Ryan: One of the boys’ recent activities of choice is to pull everything out of my purse and then out of my wallet, rinse, repeat. This can keep the boys both occupied for a good 20 minutes, and as anyone knows who’s dealt with 20 month olds, two of them- unless it’s knife-throwing or matches, you basically let the kid do anything that will keep him occupied for that long. I even bring two purses. You gotta think ahead with these guys. 


What I found out the other day was that Jake or Ryan,  I can’t be sure who, in his rifling, had discovered that in one of my purses or perhaps my wallet, there was a card that had my new bank account number on it.  This is ironic because this particular bank always requires me to put my whole account number on my deposit envelopes at the ATM, so on more than a few ocassions I’ve ended up going from the ATM , to back home, cursing, to look up my account number off a check, and then back to the ATM.   I’ve also  pre-filled out several envelopes – and I’ve forgotten them at home which led to more cursing. This has been an ongoing thing. And it turns out, the whole time, I had my account number with me.  That’s what I learned from Jake and Ryan is:

Sometimes you have the thing you need, you just don’t realize it.

This seems to be true  a lot in life. I have what I need, or can  make do with what I have if I improvise a little. Or I have what I need and don’t need to be conned by advertisers into getting something else. Or I can find what I need if I look harder. Or God has, if I may get spiritual here for a second, packed a spiritual pocket book for me with the stuff I need for a given ocassion, and I just need look enough to find it. And all the time, when I have what I need and don’t realize it or appreciate it or have the patience to search for it,  I cause myself a lot of frustration. So, breath, and look carefully, and pull everything out and shake the purse upside down if you need to. Good advice, Jake and Ryan, I will keep this in mind.

Oh, also, last week one of you left a weeble of some sort in my purse. I think it was the pirate. Remind me to give that back to you sometime. Holler.

Earlier this year, Lexi and I had some how ended up behind my parents at the playground. It was maybe Founder’s Day or in any case, there was some big thing going on down there and we had all stopped by. As she saw her grandparents up ahead, she said to me “I bet we can catch them if we run.”  Now, the last thing I was thinking of doing was chasing down the sidewalk, but since she brought it up, and since I do pay the gym forty bucks a month to prepare me for just such ocassions, I agreed and off we went. And we caught them. And that’s one of my favorite things I’ve learned from Lexi of late 

We can catch them if we run .

This is a lesson about confidence, optimism, and effort. I look at a lot of situations in life and think “I can’t do that.” Or “I don’t know if I can do that.” Or “I don’t think I should even try that.”  But what if instead I took Lexi’s attitude, looked at something I wanted to do, and then, with supreme confidence, said to myself I could in fact do that thing, if I pushed myself? Aren’t a lot of the things I think I can’t do in fact things I could do if I did the metaphoric equivalent of running? And shouldn’t I at least be a determined optimist and try my best?  I know I just joked about the gym, but the truth is, a big reason I started trying to get healthier was because I wanted to be able to literally, physically run with the kids, and it’s been a great blessing to be able to do so (and they run a lot!).  But I want to be an example to them with a different kind of running to – running in pursuit of things I want in life in the belief I can get them. Slow and steady wins the race, but you have to make sure you’re in the race.  And then, watch out if you’re up against Lexi ’cause that girl can run.

My nephew Ben has a well (VERY well) deserved nickname “Benjamin Jackson, Action Hero.” When he was younger, I called him a stunt baby. My dad referred to him as human bowling ball. There have been countless times when Becca has called me to tell me some insane thing Ben has done involving jumping, running, spinning, climbing, diving, or any of a wide variety of other such things. And there are many such things I’ve witnessed first hand. The kid is acrobatic.  It can’t be denied.  But Ben has another side, and I think it was expressed best by a conversation we had in September wherein he said: “I can stand on my head for 30 seconds.”  

 Ben has his own unique take on the world, and he isn’t afraid to follow it where it goes. Some people may say he’s zoned out and missing this or that, but I think sometimes tuning into your own imagination is a good thing; whatever he’s thinking about or focused on (except for some of the crazy cartoons he watches) is probably pretty worthwhile, too.  He comes up with a lot of inventive stories and a lot of good questions.  And that’s one big lesson from Ben:

Stand on your head.

There are two pieces to this lesson. One is you don’t want to go through life only seeing things from one angle, it’s important to switch it up sometimes – it’s important to recognize the importance of switching it up sometimes, standing on your head. The piece is, you definitely don’t want to go through life only seeing things from someone else’s angle.  Ben reminds me if I want to stand on my head to view the world, for thirty seconds or even longer, I should never not do it because someone tells me it’s dumb or silly or wrong or a waste of time.  I should have confidence in the worth of my point of view.  There is nothing wrong with standing on your head sometimes. Except that it’s bad for my neck and will send all the blood rushing to my head, but, that’s another issue.

A few years ago, I made a cd mix for the Jacksons. One song on it was this random one from the soundtrack of The Wild Thornberries.  It had a cool, upbeat African drum filled sound.  (Here it is …  ). And there was a line from that song that always reminds me of Sarah — “Emptiness is not for me.”   Sarah is not a sidelines kind of girl.  If there’s a conversation going on, she wants to be part of it. If someone new shows up, she wants to meet them. She doesn’t want to wear skirts because they slow her down. Whether it’s  getting totally absorbed in a book, recalling the minute details of her day on the phone  or running around being crazy and laughing, Sarah’s a positive, take-in-everything, adventure girl. And that’s the lesson from her-

Emptiness is not for me.

Sarah reminds me to enjoy life, participate, be excited about things, do things.  It’s a challenge to remember when we’re busy to see the magic of the moment. It’s tough to not get stuck in a rut where everyday is just another day. But it’s worth taking up the challenge to reject the mundane and the state of boredom and see all the opportunities and blessings of every day and take them on.

So, there they are, life lessons from the five coconuts– so much to be thankful for as Thanksgiving rolls around. Hope you have a good one!

Thanks for reading,



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