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Lessons learned...

Not sure when it exactly happens but sometime around Thanksgiving I blinked and I was suddenly surrounded by and in the FULL BLOWN Christmas season.

I shouldn't be but am always amazed at how quickly time goes by...
I feel like it was just yesterday we were enjoying the warmth of the summer and now we are hunkered down ready for the snow to come. Any day now, my son inherited my patience...

There is something about this time of year that is special. I believe it to be a combination... We spend time celebrating our Savior, we get to spend extra time with all of the people we love the most, and CHILDREN. Children make this time of year extra special. It is magical for them which makes it magical to me.

Just like anything in life there is the flip side. This time of year also comes with sadness. It is a time when I miss the ones who have left us. I guess I should re-phrase this a little bit. I miss them all daily but the holidays seem to bring out how much a little more...

Lorriane Cushing
(Great Grandma)

I had my heart broken for the first time when I lost my Great Grandmother. 
She was 81 years old when she was called home to be with Jesus. 
I was young but remember the day we lost her as if it was yesterday. 
Prior to losing her I would talk as if she would live forever and she would gently smile and say something sweet about how she would more than likely not be around... I thought she was crazy because I could have never imagined life without her.  She might have been 81 but she was the pillar of health. 
She even hit the gym and worked out up until the day she died (water aerobics - Heck Ya)!

Her funeral was a surreal experience. I felt sad and honored in the same breath.
I was a child but when I think back on this day I remember how I felt walking into the church as a family. I knew we were all sad, we would all miss her but I mostly felt proud to be walking into the church with this group of people whom I get to claim as family. 

One of the many family traditions... Christmas caroling. 
My Great Grandmother is in the teal bottom, left
My Dad is the one with the crazy hat and I am somewhere in the back wearing a Santa hat. 

I am sure I complained about this when I was a child but some of my best childhood memories include bailing hay at her farm, learning how to sew on her machine, and crocheting who knows what! 
At her house was where I got my first taste of creating things with my hands. 

To this day I can not have a jolly rancher without thinking of her (she carried them always - lemon is my favorite... If you were curious)

Perry Sundin
(Horsey Grandpa)

I called him Horsey Grandpa - for the obvious reason but I will go ahead and state it anyway... 
He had horses. I know, I was a really creative kid!

There are so many things I could share about him so I will keep this as simple as I can. 
Bottom line. I am so incredibly thankful for the lessons that he taught me about life. 
These lessons allow him to live on. 
My children never had the opportunity to meet him but they are taught similar lessons through me (thanks to him).

First (big one): FAMILY is not defined by blood.
He married my Grandmother before I was born. 
Growing up I never knew that she wasn't actually my biological Grandmother. I mean I knew she wasn't my Mom's Mom... But she was still my Grandmother. I was young I didn't need to understand how it all fit together. 
It didn't (doesn't) matter. 
All that I knew is that they loved me and I was their granddaughter
This is powerful. 

We love our Horsey Grandma. 

Pictures at her house... A little slice of heaven on earth or as Greg calls it Gods country!

I am good enough. 
I know that is a big statement..
Just imagine me as a teenager... I cant decide if I should be a red head or a blonde (yes. I actually dyed my hair red for a hot minute). I wear makeup, I get fake eyelashes, and fake nails .
I love my grandparents so I cruise up to their house and he just shakes his head and asks me over and over again why am I trying to be a "fake" version of myself... "Just be yourself".
At the time. I am sure I just rolled my eyes and laughed it off because he couldn't possibly get it. 

Fast forward and here I sit. The adult me. 
He got it and I hear him LOUD AND CLEAR. 
I didn't need to be a "better" version of me. I just needed to be me. 

I hope to raise my daughter this way. I hope she grows up to know how beautiful she is without putting on a mask. She is beautiful just the way God created her. 
She is perfect. She doesn't need anything extra. She just needs to be herself!

Kendall is 20 months old. This might be a shocker but I haven't pierced her ears. My stance around this is blended by the lessons my Horsey Grandfather and my Dad taught me. 
Today as little girls grow up they are given way to many mixed messages about who they should be and how they should look. Kendall is not exempt and eventually she will be tangled up in this but I didn't want to start to muddy the waters. She can get her ears pierced someday. When she is ready. I will gladly take her to get one hole in each ear. 

So before I end this nice little " I am good enough" lesson I should go on record and say the following before you all jump down my throat... 
I still dye my hair (always will) but I don't have fake nails, I don't do the fake eyelash thing (although I am tempted), I don't tan (I embrace how white I am) and although I like to get dressed up I prefer to be dressed down and outside. 
My stance on make up... It is FABULOUS but it should highlight your beauty not cover it.

I can only imagine what it will be like as a parent raising my own children through the teenage years let alone someday watching my Grandchildren stomp through the house... I am sure all of our Grandparents have had many laughs watching us grow up!

When you fall - GET BACK UP
Last one. Then I move on. ( I told you I could go on and on)
Picture the most amazing summer day in WA. The year is not important but it is important to note that it was the summer between my 8th grade and freshman year. In fact two days later I would be officially in high school. 
I was so excited and like most girls I had even picked out just what I would be wearing (it was lime green and it was going to be amazing). 

On this fateful day I spent the afternoon at my Grandparents house riding horses. (of course)

It was at the very end of a perfect ride and my horse decided to take different turn and he walked right under this LARGE tree they have in their front pasture.
This unprompted turn caused me get fall off this large horse but not without the tree having the last laugh leaving its marks on my arms and chest. I guess it the horse and tree both won. I was the loser in this fight.

There I was laid out on the ground. 
After assessing the situation, asking me a series of questions (through a few tears shed by me). My Grandfather realized that my "wounds" were surface level and I would be okay. So he told me to get back on my horse. Was he crazy. Did he not just see my back roll off of the horse. I am bleeding - HELLO. You want me to do what?
Needless to say. I though he was crazy. I just fell off a horse. It drew blood. The ride was over. I did not see the point of getting back on. 

Regardless. You didn't really argue with the man so I got up and got back on. 
At the time I thought that was annoying but now I get it. 
If I had not gotten back on that horse in that moment I might not have ever gotten back on a horse in my life.
That would have been sad.

But this lesson is so  much deeper than getting back up on a horse. It is about getting back up when you fall. PERIOD!

Now. Let me circle back to the first day of my Freshman year. I did wear that lime green top even though it nicely displayed my war wounds from falling off that horse.
This was also the first day that my future husband would come to know of my existence. Funny he doesn't remember these wounds but he does remember my Grandfather and I am thankful they had the opportunity to know one and another even though at the time Greg was "just my high school" boyfriend.


I cant lie. This was more emotionally taxing than I anticipated.
I have several other loved ones that I have failed to write about tonight. I guess I am going to have to save them for another night.

I will also update this posts with better photos. These are the only ones I had saved on this computer. Trust me I have some GOOD ONES!

I hope during all of you hustle and bustle this holiday season you take time to reflect on the ones in your life who taught you the lessons that helped shaped who you are today!



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