Monday, October 24, 2011

Dear Jack

Dear Jack,

Your Papa had this great idea. He suggested that your family write a few words of advice to you now, as you embark on your life. So, last week, I sent out this email:

Over the past year and a half, my blog has become a record of some of my favorite stories and pictures. One day, I plan to put all the entries together into a book for Lilly and Jack. As little Jack has entered our lives, we have a whole new chapter ahead of us, and I'd love to start that chapter with words of advice from Jack's family.

So, if you have a few free minutes in the upcoming days, I'd love it if you could write a few words to Jack. As he starts his life, what would you like to tell him? Any words of wisdom? Advice? Feel free to be insightful or offbeat. He'll love it all. It doesn't have to be long or elaborate. But one day, Jack will be able to look back and see thoughts from his family during his earliest days.

Jack Peter thanks you :)

So, in no particular order, this is what your family had to say.


It's always so lovely to see your mother (my sister) do the things I suggest, as I'm sure you're reading this and wondering who had the vision to bring all these people and all this wisdom together. Well, your Uncle Joef just has a sense about these things (credit-taking is a vital part of any dialogue).

More seriously, though, the world you have just entered is truly unique, and I doubt you'll see love like this in many other places. This doesn't mean anything now, but it will--you're a lucky boy.

You and I have a lot in common: both October birthdays (welcome to the world of Libra balance), both Mets fans, and both with chatty older sisters--each of whom were born in April--who seem to have been intuitively trained to be talk-show hosts. I'm not sure when you'll speak your first words or what those words will be (maybe a question to someone in your family: "Do you ever stop talking?"), but I'm more interested in your first ideas. I wonder if they will revolve around Lilly and the many ideas she shares with the world in the same way Napoleon "shared" his troops with the Russians. I wonder if you'll learn the careful art of conversational mechanics from her and how you'll ultimately decide to find space for things you think and thoughts you have. Good luck, my young friend, like Marco Polo, I spent years crossing that same treacherous landscape, and like Marco Polo, "I have only told the half of what I saw." I'll tell you the other half sometime.

I wonder if you'll be a righty or a lefty, whether we'll have chats about baseball, and whether you'll fall into the doomed fanship of Philadelphia sports at the hands of your ever hopeful father. I wonder if you'll see your Gigi and Papa and see them the way your sister does: one with trust and as a source of calm, and the other as a slightly perplexing figure who seems to have been confused in his later years. You'll learn the word "camel" fairly soon, I imagine. I wonder if you'll look at your mother the same way I look at my sister: with deep love and amazement, wondering how someone can be so good at something they've never really been trained in. You have an incredible Aunt, too--someone whose relationship with the world you should come to emulate--and an Uncle who happens to be my best friend: always there for you, ferociously loyal, and poised for great things. This is turning into something much longer than it needs to be (a skill I learned from your Papa), and I haven't even mentioned the amazing other side of your family.

So let me say just this: the other morning I saw you for the first time, your big wide eyes in their early stages of examining the world. Never stop that. Ask questions and be inquisitive; feel the world and challenge it; read books and mark them up--never stop wondering why things are the way they are. This may annoy your Uncle, but throw yourself to the task of it. One day when you're fourteen or fifteen, we'll share a beer or two and talk about things, and I hope I see those same wondering eyes. Between now and then, keep smiling, don't fight the swaddle, keep the little mittens on until you know not to scratch yourself, and soak in the immense and unconditional love that surrounds you. As I said, you're a lucky boy.

Uncle Joef

Dear Jack,

Staying up late is overrated – nothing beats 8 hours of sleep. Do your homework. Diversify your portfolio and your resume. Don’t stock pick – just buy the index and hold. Vote Republican. It’s okay not to be in the cool crowd… all those kids end up peaking in high school anyway. Give your mom hugs, even when your friends tell you it’s not cool. A few close, unfailing friends are better than hundreds of acquaintances. Learn how to laugh at yourself. When you start to date, wash your hands - ickky, sticky boy hands are gross. Don’t string girls along – you’re either into a girl or you’re not… she’ll appreciate your honesty (eventually). Sometimes you have to wait a while to find love… it’s worth the wait.

Love, Aunt Loiny


I turned twenty-four earlier this year. From time to time, when someone asks me how old I am and I tell them I'm twenty-four, I think back on those past twenty-four years and how quickly it all seems to have gone by. I think about how those years had a little bit of everything in them; how I've gotten to watch my sister get married to your Dad, as well as become a mother, how I've finished an Ironman with your Grandfather and Dad and your uncle Joseph [ask uncle Joseph about his drafting penalty], how I've visited your Aunt Ellie in Guatemala and been amazed at how well she speaks Spanish, how I've grown to be slightly taller than your Dad [no matter what he says], how I've sat on a beach in Indonesia next to your Grandmother and eaten fresh pineapple, and how I've even held your big sister Lilly, when she was a brand new baby. I've had a great life so far, Jack, and I have no doubt that your first twenty-four years will be just as fun, just as memorable.

And without a doubt, the biggest and most important part of my first twenty-four years was the time I spent with my family. We always sat around and ate delicious meals that your Grandmother cooked, and we'd talk and laugh, and sometimes your Grandfather would give these "after-dinner lectures" that I never listened to as well as I should have. I always tried to compete with your Uncle Joe, but I could never seem to beat him until he left for college. I jumped on the trampoline with your mother, and once even managed to talk your Grandmother and Grandfather to come out and jump. I remember meeting your Dad for the first time, and how nice he was to me, and the way he looked at your mother. I have hundreds, probably thousands of little memories like these that are all stored away somewhere and are so special to me.

I guess what I'm saying, Jack, is that when I look back on these twenty-four years, I don't remember what grade I got in math class [though I'm certain it wasn't very good], or how tall I was when I was twelve. I remember the time I spent with family, with the people I love. I remember the big mistakes I made and what I learned from them. I remember looking up in the stands when I played football and seeing your Grandfather and Grandmother cheering and feeling so proud.

And so as you start writing your own story for your first twenty-four years Jack, you're lucky enough to have what I had -- a family that loves, supports, and believes in you. If I could go back and start over again, the only thing I would change is that I'd listen to my Mom and Dad a little more. I'd tell them that I loved them a few more times. I'd give them a hug every now and then for no real reason. I'd spend a little less time playing video games and more time bugging my sisters. Nothing matters more than your family. Sometimes it's nice to let them know that.

And one more thing, Jack. I grew up with your Mother. She is an amazingly kind and thoughtful person. She also happens to be incredibly determined and stubborn [just like your Dad]. My last bit of advice is to not argue with her. Trust me, Jack. You won't win. I tried my entire childhood and wasn't able to triumph once. The best I could manage was to lose gracefully. I have high hopes for you, but I'm not sure even a boy as talented as you can manage that one.

I can't wait to see you on your twenty-fourth birthday [I'll be forty-eight then... and Lilly will be twenty-six!], and we'll read this letter and laugh about how much has happened and changed since then. We'll see if your Grandfather has any hair left [he doesn't have too much left now]. But one thing will never change in those twenty-four years, Jack. No matter where you go, no matter what mistakes you make, no matter how tall you are, no matter what your grades are, no matter what your hair looks like, no matter whether you're an astronaut, a star athlete, a brilliant student, an aspiring artist -- your Dad, your Mom, your sister, and all of your aunts, uncles, and Grandparents will always support you. We will always be there for you. And most of all, we will always love you.

-Your uncle Ed.

Dear Jack,

I am writing to you on a computer via email to your mom’s blog… three things that did not exist, nor had anyone even dreamed of, when I was your age. ‘Apple’ referred only to fruit and ‘Windows’ were something that you looked through. What will be in existence when you are old enough to read this on your own is limited only by the imagination. These thoughts of your future bring me to some special wishes for you.

What strikes me most about successful people is their obvious delight in what they're doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others. So, as you grow through the years, make sure you “do something you love”! That’s what Steve Jobs, the man who made ‘Apple’ famous for being more than fruit, advised students in 2005 and it is what I wish for you…. find something you love to do in life!

My second wish for you is that you remember your mom and dad are your first and best teachers; learn all you can from them. You can always count on them to tell you the truth and they are there to give you their best advice… even though you will not want to hear what they have to say when you are a teenager. You will be amazed how smart they become when you get older and have your own family!

Approach all you do with a sense of humor, as it will serve you well. Your dad is a schmoozer and jokester (he learned this from Pop) and all through school used to pride himself on his ability to charm his teachers (and me) with his sense of humor… it worked for him… just ask your mom. Clarks love to laugh as we tend to not take things too seriously, so I wish you many years of laughter and carry on the Clark sense of humor.

Finally, my last wish for you today (there are more to come later!) is that you know your family loves you, unconditionally. No matter what mischief you might encounter as you grow older such as climbing and falling out of trees with your older sister and end up with stitches in your forehead, or deliberately driving slowly to school to make your sister late … again or commenting on your sister’s geek boyfriend’s choice of sneakers or get caught on the Mods with a beer when you are a freshman in college, just remember, no matter what you do…. we love now, we will love you always.

With love, hugs and kisses, Meme

Dear Jack,

The day you were born, I was overwhelmed with so much happiness for you and for your parents. I don't normally feel so much emotion when a baby is born so it made me stop and think about why. I felt this happiness because I've been able to watch a bit of the love that overflows out of your parents for Lilly, and now for you. I feel such excitement for your life because I know it's going to be amazing! It can be whatever you want it to be and that's pretty powerful. My hope for you is that you never take the love that is so abundant in your family for granted and that you are able to go out into the world, as they have done, and multiply that love with the people around you. I hope you find many more people who are able to share their heart with you in return.

I hope your heart never learns what it means to be afraid because you surround yourself with people who protect it. I hope you deeply treasure the people who love you and realize how lucky you are - it's a gift to be so deeply loved. I really look forward to watching you grow and getting to know toddler Jack, little boy Jack, teenage Jack, and one day adult Jack. May this be a beautiful journey.

And because you're part of the Stephens/Clark tribe: May you learn to be even more sarcastic and ridiculous than those before you. ;)

Love, Liana

Dear Jack,

Today you are 8 days old. I am 20,117 days old. This means that I have considerably more experience than you do. I can’t say specifically what I have learned in the 20,109 days that separate our births, but four things come to mind, and I think they are worth sharing, so you can reflect on them when you a little older and trying to make sense of the world.

The first is that you should enjoy your childhood and make it last as long as you can. People will tell you to stop being childish, as if childhood were a bad thing. They will tell you not to do some things without a grown-up. They will suggest that you behave in a more mature way. There is some truth in all this, but the danger is that you feel you should skip through childhood and try to be an adult too soon and then, too late, you realize that you will be an adult for the rest of your life and that it is not quite as wonderful as you had thought. Take your time. Stay new and fresh and don’t feel you have to know the answers to questions like “what are you going to do with your life?” because the answer -- if there is one at all -- changes. If you doubt the hazards of being an adult, just catch an early morning commuter train some time, or watch the faces of people in their cars in traffic, and see how they frown. Something happened to them along the way from childhood to being an adult. Approach that transition slowly and carefully.

The second thing I’d suggest is that you learn early not to share your toys, but to give them away. Too many people spend their lives trying to get things -- cars, houses, clothes, furniture, stuff -- and eventually, it owns them. There is an old truth that it is only by giving that we receive, and that wealth is not in having more but in needing less. Start early, and keep it simple. Give things away, and enjoy the smiles and happy moments that no toy or possession can ever bring. I know this is a hard thing to understand, but it is the truth. This leads to the third thing.

What matters most in life are the love of family and friends, and the special moments together and, at times, alone. It is not possessions or job titles or what people think of you. It is being able to look at your family and know that they are always there for you, never judging, always supporting, as you are for them. It is the smiles and laughter at Christmas and birthdays and any time you are together with the people you love. Too many people lose sight of this and think that an expensive watch or car or house will make them happy. It won’t. You are fortunate to have a wonderful mother and father and sister and cousins and Gigi and Mimi and Pop. So, love your family and friends, and look for opportunities to do something good for them. As you get older, and you have this reservoir of love to draw on, you will be the wealthiest of men.

Finally, be true to yourself and your heart. This can be a huge challenge. Many people say it; almost no one does it. Follow where your dreams lead, and do so proudly and with courage. Better to struggle with what inspires you than be comfortable in what bores you. You are the only one of you the world has ever seen, so why should your path in this world be the same as anyone else’s? Is the route of school, college, job, marriage, house, children, retirement, the route for you? Maybe so, maybe not. Perhaps yours involves inventing things, or traveling to places, or writing, or any of a thousand other things. Only you know. Live your life without limiting yourself to what others tell you is realistic or practical. Those are the words of lost dreams, of despair, of mediocrity. You have one life. May it be a long one; even more important, may it be one filled with love and truth and passion.


Dear Jack,

In life, aim for negative splits.

In other words, make each step better than your last.


Uncle Duane

Hi Baby Jack.

Something you definitely need to know: when Lilly has her backpack sitting in front of the door before school, it's because when you call her to move it out of the way, she will then be the first out of the door and get the front seat EVERY morning! Also know that Gigi's patience will never run out, nor will Papa's magic tricks. Your mom and dad could not love you more, and your big sister will always be there for you. Travel. See the world. And if you ever need help because Latinos are heckling you on the street, you can always call your Aunt Ellie.

Dear Jack,

As I'm writing this, you are now officially 8 days old. Congrats! In fruit fly age, you'd be 19 years old, so let's fast forward and I will speak to you as if today is your 19th birthday - not because I view you as a fruit fly, but come on - babies can't read.

Respect your parents. There will actually come a point in your life when you will enjoy going out to dinner with your parents, instead of feeling embarrassed by them. If this hasn't happened yet - it will happen soon, especially since you're probably a freshman in college now, so you really appreciate a free meal. You should know that your parents were pretty cool people at one point in their lives (they still might be, but I'm writing this in 2011 and I have no clue what happens in the next 18.98 years). They've been down the same road as you, so don't be foolish enough to think that they don't know what you're up to - with a name like Jack Clark, you definitely like to party, so don't even think about having a few and getting behind the wheel of your flying car. Listen to your parents - whether you believe it or not, they do actually have your best interest in mind.

Find something you love to do, and do it! The more you love it, the more you'll do it, and the better you'll be at it. And, the better you are at it, the more you love it! Confused? Don't be! It's a big, giant love circle. This formula works even better if it's something you can do for your whole life - like playing music or golf (do you guys have moon golf yet?). It doesn't have to be a career, but it could always turn into one. It can be your own quiet escape from the rest of the world, or it can be something you share with others. However, with a name like Jack Clark, I definitely picture you up on stage. "Aaaaanndd Jack Clark on the drums!" Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? (You're welcome, Jim, Amelia, and your neighbors)

Lastly, once you are able to, get a dog (specifically Labrador Retriever - see Clark family dog history). Your dog will always be happy to see you, and they also work well with the ladies. I had a pretty burly mountain man beard going on when I met your Aunt Sarah (Ween), but I was still able to snag her with an invite to pick out a lab puppy with me. And, the last 19 years have (hopefully) been great to us. That reminds me - you should grow a burly mountain man beard as well. You're in college - the only socially acceptable time to grow your hair out and stop shaving! And, if you were lucky enough to get your Dad's genes, you could even go by the nickname Dark N' Stormy (Ginger beard - ginger beer, I'll explain later).

So Happy 19th birthday, Jack Clark. You're a very lucky guy to have been born into such a great family, and I hope you appreciate it!

Love Ross

Dear Jack:

Welcome to the world! Connecticut is a nice place to start, and who knows how many states, countries, continents and miles you will have traveled by the time you are someday writing a letter like this to your own grandkids.

You’re already a winner….you have the most terrific, loving family in the world, most whom you haven’t met yet. You’ll have many friends as you grow up, but nobody will be cheering harder for you or standing by you more than your own family.

To celebrate you, the newest Clark, here are a few thoughts you can tuck away for later when you’re able to read your Mom’s postings for yourself.

First, let’s talk about ice cream. It’s not possible to overrate ice cream; the perfect blending of nature and technology. It ranks right alongside the development of the microprocessor, the decoding of DNA, the discovery of the atom, and cultural achievements like the launch of The Simpsons and South Park. I can’t wait to share a bowl with you soon. On second thought, forget the bowl…we’ll do it Clark style; two spoons digging right out of the bucket. I recommend any Vanilla-based flavor, but you’ll find your own path. When you’re older, you can pair it with a nice cold Sammy Summer Ale.

You and Lilly will need a dog…sooner rather than later. They don’t care if you’re dirty or if you smell. Best part: they’re always glad to see you walk through the door….you can show up 20 times a day, and for them, it’s always the first time.

Stay excited about school, tackle the hardest homework first, and ask questions. Your higher education will give you options…the harder you pursue it, the more doors will open for you. A semester abroad will give you fresh perspectives, but don’t tell your Mom & Dad that the courses overseas are tougher than at home. They know better. Set the bar high, but don’t worry about failing once in a while….it only means you’re getting closer. Your Mom & Dad will make sure that the compass in your head is set in the right direction, so go ahead and listen to others’ opinions, but follow your own instincts. Stay close to your good friends …you’ll have many chances to make sure your paths keep crossing through the years.

I hope you get involved in sports early….they’re fun and they pay great dividends. You’ll probably excel in one or two, but try them all so you can appreciate the talents of others. When you get a little older, I recommend that you give rowing a try. It’s already in your genes. If you reach 6’4” or more by high school, put away the oar and pick up a basketball. You can row later.

Wherever your talents and career take you, do it with passion. Try something that makes you uncomfortable once in a while…it’s good training. If you find yourself in a position of leadership (and you probably will), others will look to you for your confidence. Be sure to give credit generously to those who supported you and helped get you there. Keep it all in balance. You’ll know you’re on the right path if you’re sitting in a board room some day and are equally at ease whether you’re talking to the CEO or the janitor.

Money is important, but it’s not the most important report card. Your most precious commodity is time, and you should spend as much of it as possible with your family and friends. That advice was given to me years ago by Barbara Bush, the First Lady and wife of a well-respected President.

Speaking of money, when you begin your career, pay yourself first… Don’t just save it…..invest it. Don’t panic at the global market swings. Everyone will tell you “it’s different this time”. Guess what…’s not. Do your own homework and check what you hear. Live below your means. Learn to enjoy breakfast at Joe’s in Wayne as much as dinner at Il Porcospino in Florence

Now, the most important part. When you find your future wife some day (and you will know it when she shows up), be more ambitious for your marriage than for everything else you do. And on the day you become a father yourself, you’ll know you’ve really reached the top. Just make sure it happens after you’re married.

Your religious faith is a gift, and there’s a whole Church standing behind you in the toughest times. Embrace it. God dishes out nothing that you can’t handle, although it doesn’t always seem that way. A good sense of humor can get you through a lot.

Finally, you’ll soon learn about a lake called Winnipesaukee in the mountains of a state called New Hampshire that is absolute magic. It’s a place where the water is blue and clear like nothing you’ll ever see anywhere else. You have no idea how much fun you’ll have learning to swim, fish, ride boats until the sun sets, and watch the sky light up at night on the 4th of July….and playing a card game called Setback that our family invented. All simple stuff with your family and friends, but it never gets old. I can’t wait to teach you to water ski. It’s easy….just keep your skis straight and your knees bent coming out of the water. We’re behind you all the way.



Dear Jack,

First: be confident. If you think you are awesome you will almost certainly be able to convince at least part of the world that it's true. Second, and more importantly: be nice to your older sister. One day she will have friends you want to date, and if you're a jerk, she will crush your dreams.

Uncle Jeremy

Darling Jack,

Welcome, little one, to this world.
You were born into a family so full of love.
May your roots sink deeply into this strong and loving foundation so that you can sprout and blossom, develop and grow, knowing always, that the love and support of your family will always surround you.

As every new day dawns may you always keep your childhood playfulness, your creative powers that allow for such wondrous expansion and your ability to be your real uninhibited self. This true, beautiful, wonderfully individual Self is your greatest gift to this planet.
Throughout your evolving life, you may choose to walk on lots of different paths. I strongly urge you to feel deeply, and choose a path...with Heart. Being with, and leading with your true Self may prove challenging at times. It is, however, the way to find inner peace, harmony and balance.

Treasure your individual Spirit. Nurture it and grow strong with it in love, compassion and kindness.
Surrounded with, and full of love there is nothing you cannot be or do. There are no limits, only those we place on ourselves.
There will be sad days in your life. That is inevitable. The trick is to be the happiest sad, you can possibly be. This may sound weird to you. Trust me, it really works! So,
May you smile often, laugh even more often
May you always, always, BREATHE with a full, free and aware breath
And may you develop the wings to soar as high as you can possibly imagine and way beyond.

With much love and infinite gratitude for your arrival,
and of course, lots of hugs along the way,


Dear Jack,

My best piece of advice to you as you start out in this world is... Be a dog person. People who love and own dogs are more agreeable and social in life. This means you will get along better with others and have a great number of friends (especially if you end up with your Pop and dad's quick wit and ability to schmooze). People who love and own dogs are more conscientious and thorough in life. This means that you will pay attention to details, which is particularly important in your school work (you come from a very smart family). People who love and own dogs are loyal. This means that you will bond with and always be there for your family, your friends, and perhaps more importantly, your favorite sports teams (note that your dad is a fan of the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers... you can pick the Celtics over the 76ers though). People who love and own dogs exercise more in life. This means you will be healthy because you will get outside and pick up a basketball, go for a run, or throw a football (it doesn't mean you have to run an Ironman like your dad but I am sure he will support you if you decide to do that). People who love and own dogs have less stress in life and actually live longer. This means that you will be a happy person who will be able to take care of your parents in their old age like they are taking care of you now! Perhaps most importantly of all, people who love and own dogs go to UConn for higher education. What more can you ask for in a mascot than the UConn Husky? Just in case you need some convincing though, while it may not amount to more than pocket change by the time you are of college age, I promise I'll give you $100 cash the day you start your freshman year at UConn (We aslo win championships. Come be a winner!!).

Your Aunt Liz

PS When you start your freshman year at UConn, your cousin AJ will have just graduated, but your cousins Lauren and Paul will be there to party with you.

Dear Jack,

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy your youth. Play sports, get dirty, and don't be in a hurry to grow up. Enjoy the days of making after-school snacks with your siblings.

Don't worry about the future, or get worked up over the small stuff. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. I remember being at Penn State and having a bad day once, so I emailed your dad. He told me "Save your worrying for later years, when you are married with a mortgage, hate your job, you are overweight, and have kids that resent you." Of course, this is NOT how your dad feels about his life! His point was not to worry or stress about the small stuff. Keep things in perspective!!

Do one selfless thing everyday. Hold the door open for a stranger, email an old friend, call your grandparents and tell them I love you.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours. Meme always said, "you have to date a few bad ones to really appreciate the Good One." Don't be in a hurry to find "the one", but when you do, don't take that person for granted.

Floss. You only get one set of teeth, take care of them. Ask your parents for braces at a young's no fun having them when you are older. And never try to open a beer bottle with your teeth- I promise it won't end well.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself. One of my favorite sayings is "this too shall pass". When things are going well, be humble and grateful. When you're in a rutt, keep your head up and know things will get better. Lean on family and friends for support.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults.

Exercise and stretch. You come from a very athletic family, but if you ever want to skip the run or bike ride, come find Ween and Ross and join us for a bloody mary. Better yet, a White Russian.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life, but be ambitious and try your best. Do your homework and appreciate going to school. Not everyone has that luxury. Don't be mad at your mom and dad if they don't let you go out on school nights. Later on in life, you'll appreciate how hard they pushed you. Trust me on this one.

Go to college, and do a semester abroad. You'll never have the chance to spend 6 months in another country again on your parents' dime.

Get plenty of calcium and eat well. But don't feel guilty about stopping at Wendy's every so often.

At one point in your life, own a dog. I promise you they are the best friend you could ask for.

Be nice to your siblings, they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. Nobody exemplifies this better than Meme and Pop, and hopefully one day you will join the Villanova gang in a round of Cups. And don't be embarassed to tell your friends you love them.

Travel. Go outside your comfort zone and meet new people. But always remember who you are and where you came from (Pop's last words to me when I left for college). And always make time for New Hampshire, I promise you will create some of your best memories there.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, taxes will always exist, and if the government is giving away free money, you will never be a recipient. Read the Wall Street Journal. This will save you from making an embarassing mistake one day, perhaps confusing Warren Buffett with his brother Jimmy.

Respect your elders. Stand up and introduce yourself when someone enters the room. Take off your hat when eating. And use Mr. and Mrs. when talking to adults. When you start to date, parents will be impressed with your manners.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.

You can take my advice or leave it, but trust me on the sunscreen!!

Welcome to the world Jack!
Love, Ween

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