The time has gone quickly. It feels like yesterday I brought you home from the hospital. Those were the days! Lack of sleep, bottles and nursing, changing diapers and making sure you were safe and secure and most of all loved. I have given you the best of me for the past almost 19 years. The top 10 things I want you to take with are as follows:

  1. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. YOU are fighting a battle and if you are kind, people will be kind to you.
  2. Make friends. Remember there will be a few very special friends that will go to battle for you, they will have your back no matter what. Then, there will be a lot of “people you know” who will say hello, spend time with you but when the going gets tough, they will not be among the few who have your back. That is OK; learn to walk forward and lean on your tribe.
  3. Just because it seems like fun at the time, it may not be the best choice. Have fun but remember you reap what you sow. For every action there is a reaction, make it a good one!
  4. Keep your living area clean and organized. Yeah, I know it is easier to just live like a pig, but pigs smell and do not have much of a social life!
  5. Focus on your big rocks. The do or die stuff comes first, the particles of sand that really do not matter can wait. If you have a test, study and prepare first, then socialize. Procrastination just brings stress and the results are never what they could be.
  6. Eat healthy. Sure, indulge in some fun fried, salty, and sugary foods occasionally, but remember that eating well is a form of self-respect. You get one body and you are young. Treat it well.
  7. All those lessons your parents taught you are relevant. Dig into that toolbox when you are making a decision. When in doubt, call, text, Snapchat . . . just ask and your parents will gladly listen and guide you through the tough big ocean you might find yourself navigating.
  8. Explore! You are in a new city; see what wonders are hiding in the streets.
  9. Come home. Home is where the heart is, home is where you find love and security.
  10. Call your mom!

Son, for the past 19 years, we have prepared for this next chapter. I am not sure I will ever be ready. Know this, “As long as I am living my baby you’ll be.” So, when I call and text and Snapchat, know it is because I love you and need to know that you are OK. I know you will be but humor your mom and let her know you are fine and that you love her, it’s the right thing to do!

Always remember we love you and we are proud beyond words of your accomplishments. We are very excited to see your new chapter and the adventures it brings to you.

Ranae Aspen

Ranae Aspen lives in the middle of Nebraska in the heartland of America. She shares her home with her husband Dan, and teens Daniel and Leslie. Sunset Acreage is home to fruit trees, chickens, cats and rescue dog Sampson. Ranae is passionate about sustainable living and sharing her life’s journey to help others thrive in this crazy thing called life. She loves writing!  You can connect on Facebook at  You can also find her blog all about Sunset living at .