Spending Time With Your Children: Guest Blog

Today I would like to introduce everyone to a friend of mine!

Meet Ricky.

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Daddy to Aven, boyfriend to Lindsey, and entrepreneur.
Derek and Ricky have known each other since they were kids so it was pretty cool when we found out we were going to be having our sons only two months apart.

Ricky recently approached me about doing a guest post and I was happy to oblige.
I love connecting with other people and that goes for the rest of my readers too.
If you’re a fellow blogger or even if you’re not and just have something you’d like to share, please feel free to message me and I would be happy to have you do a guest blog!

I enjoy Ricky’s blog as it is filled with lots of uplifting, motivational posts.
He really has a knack for inspiring people and I encourage you to check it out.
(If you would like to read more, you can hop on over to his blog here!)

Enjoy!

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SPENDING TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN

As kids, spending time with mom or dad was a magical time.
Every child looks at their parents like they are true super heros.
They hang on every word of advice their dad offers them.
While being overwhelmed by the amount of love and joy their mother gives them.

Having a strong and powerful relationship with your children is essential for them to grow and become the best they can be. Parents play such a vital role in the development of their kids, whether thats a good role or a negative one. In today’s society A lot of families have lost that special touch. We are living a a fast pace environment, Where sit down dinners turned into fast food drive throughs. Where sharing stories of our day turned into staying silent and watching made up stories on television. Where spending time with our children was only the drive from home to the daycare.

A huge reason I believe this is happening is the demand of providing a life in today’s world. We need money for everything. Even for basic living sources such has water, food and shelter. What makes it worse is most are only taught how to work for money instead of having money work for them. With most jobs barely offering enough money to get by, most families are forced to have the father and mother both work long hours, almost every day, every month, year and year again.

To me this is unacceptable. That is why I have looked for opportunities that will allow me not just financial freedom but time freedom. I don’t just want to stop there either. I want to help as many other people and families achieve the same type of freedom. To bring back the comfort and joy of being a connected and unified family.

Wouldn’t you rather be the coach then the parent in the stands or the one that is at work?
Wouldn’t you rather be the one cooking your kids meals then a fast food restaurant who has signs warning of chemicals that have been known to cause cancer?
Wouldn’t you rather spend your time with your kids and your family then at some job?

There are more efficient and effected ways to earn an income while not sacrificing precious time in your children’s lives!

If your interested in hearing about these opportunities please contact me at: https://www.sfacebook.com/onethought11

Father’s Day

When I fell in love with Derek it was that last night in Vegas, I’m all in kind of love.
We were high on the excitement of each other and drunk on our passionate love.
Only unlike Vegas, we didn’t come home ashamed and broke.
Instead, we were rich with love and found ourselves in a forever honeymoon.
I didn’t think it was possible for love to be any stronger than ours already was.
And then we became parents to our son.

This past (almost) year watching Derek transform from my husband to my husband AND the father of our child has been breathtaking.
I never doubted he would be a wonderful father but I still find myself in awe of him.

I have literally never seen a child in my life get more excited to see their father than Declan does every day when Derek gets home from work.
It’s easy and often expected for a dad to sort of sit on the sidelines and let the mom be the parent.
So I know how fortunate I am to have a partner who is so hands on not because he has to be but because he wants to be.

I have always loved Derek.
But the love I have for him now as I have watched him father our son has surpassed what I ever imagined was possible.

There’s so much more I want to say but I’m finding myself unable to put it into words.
It is very rare for me to be speechless but when it comes to this I just am.
So I will leave you with some photos that speak louder than my words ever could.

Happy Father’s Day my love.

I am honored to parent our child by your side.

Dad Vs. Father

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The title of this guest blog simply sums up a majority of my childhood.
For 14 years I didn’t know my biological father.
I knew of him, but I didn’t know him.
But on the other side of that, for 14 years I grew up knowing one amazing dad who loved me, raised me, educated me, and helped mold me into the man I am today.
Even after the 14 years went by and I eventually met my biological father, today I still don’t “know him” about as much as he doesn’t “know me”.

So the question of what makes a Dad a Dad and a Father a Father periodically comes to mind.
One of my biggest goals in life is to ensure my son and any other potential children (wink wink babe) Andrea and I share never have to ask this question or rather never have to compare the two words.
Everyone can look up the key differences or explain their personal opinion of which one is what.
I took the liberty to help fortify what we already know:

“Key difference: A father is the male parent of the child; its progenitor. They share DNA with the child, but he may or may not share responsibility in the child’s growth and development. Dad is a term of affection and familiarity. Dad is someone who actively participates in the child’s growth and development.”

We have often heard others say “any guy can become a father, but it takes a man to be a dad”.
This holds true in my life as well as my wife’s.
We both experienced a father and a dad type scenario.
Being a Christian it seems odd to me that the word Father doesn’t hold a stronger meaning as I believe God is actively participating in my life, but that’s a whole other conversation.

So today being a father and a dad I can honestly say I wouldn’t know how to be one without the other.
I have seen my fair share of Fathers and others who are Dads.
After watching Declan grow on a daily basis one of my biggest nightmares would be someone else raising my son while I sit back and neglect my responsibility, my son, my legacy.

Declan has taught me a whole new level of love.
I cannot say it’s stronger than what I feel for my wife, but it’s a different feeling of adoration/responsibility that’s fills every fiber of my being.

Watching his face light up when I walk into a room makes me instantly happy, no matter the mood I was in prior.
Watching him crawl/walk towards me in pure excitement because he wants his “dada” melts my heart.

These moments us “Dathers” (Copy right) get to experiment simply make me feel sorry for not only the children who never get to express that excitement towards a Dad, but for those Fathers who have chosen/failed to become a Dad.

I promised myself way before knowing my biological father that I would never be just that.
I would be more than a Father.
I would be forever involved, forever dedicated, and forever in love with my children.

Ironically today the story of Peter Lanza, the Father of Adam Lanza who was responsible for the Sandy Hook tragedy, said he wished his son had never been born.
As tragic the event was and as devastating it was for the parents, families, and friends of the victims this comment sickens me.
Adam Lanza had some serious mental issues as many psychopaths do, but this statement his father made really makes me think the boy needed a Dad.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that would of solved his issues or prevented the tragedy, but for a father to reject the love he once felt for his son seems an impossible task for me.

The love I have for Declan seems irreversible.
I have not walked in Peter Lanza’s shoes and I can’t imagine ever having to.
But I know that today the love I have for my son will go with me forever.
I will never be able to change how I felt yesterday or how I feel about my child today.
I know I will never be able/want to change being his Dad or the love we continue to share daily.

Declan will never have to compare the two.
More importantly he will never have to see them as different meanings.
My goal is to ensure he understands the two go hand in hand as God intended.
When the Father created He ensured Declan would have a Dad.

I challenge any of you who know a father or may be a father to unite these two words not only for every child’s sake, but for the potential Dad’s sake.

No matter your situation whether it be a separation, divorce, heck a one night stand in Vegas that led to another life being blessed on this earth.

Go and be a “Dather” because as much as the child suffers from not having one, in the end it’s the Fathers who are/have been missing out.

The Dads are just smart enough to know it and that’s why they are picking up those precious pieces.

Daddy Diaries: Our Phoenix

Today I strolled into work the same way I normally do. I Walk into my office with a quick insult/jab at my production manager, a breakfast smoothie in hand, and right to checking my emails to plan my day at the shop.

And today the first email I saw was from my lovely wife (see single/engaged men how I keep that going?)

“Write a blog post today. I love you”

To be honest I have been trying think of what to write for a “guest” post for a while now. Ironically enough today is 9/11 and my first thought this morning when I woke up was “wow I can’t believe it’s been 12 years since such a heart sinking moment happened”.

I remember where I was as I am sure many of you do as well.

I had ditched school and came back home thinking my aunt had left for work. When I walked into the apartment she was standing there in the center of the living room and didn’t notice me come in. I walked over to her to give some excuse why I wasn’t in class, but she didn’t even look at me. I then saw the horror on TV as the first plane had just struck and before I could wrap my head around where it was and what was going on the second plane struck more than just the south tower, it struck every emotion in every man, woman, and child at once.

My wheels began to turn in my head this morning on my way in.

My son will hopefully never have to experience such shock and horror, but then again how many other shocking tragedies have come up since.

School shootings, theater shootings, bombings, riots, natural disasters, wars, etc…

All these terrible things on our planet no doubt strike a chord with any morally sound person and now as a father they terrify me.

My son will most likely have his own moments of heart dropping sadness. My son will no doubt have his own opinions on these matters and what “could have” been done to prevent them, who is to blame, and how to stop them from happening again.

 This long intro was my thought process on way into work this morning and leads me to what I would like to share today.

This world is full of scary and painful things no matter what corner of it we may live.

But now as a parent my glass has shifted more to the half full side.

Every day new diseases are being cured. More and more cancer patients go into remission. And if 9/11 taught us anything it was people have a natural survival instinct that binds us all together. We come out stronger from each and every storm we weather together.

And that’s how I plan on raising my son.

Andrea has always been the optimistic one between the two of us while I have always been the half empty glass. As a father I have decided not look down, but to look up. To believe in God and his plan that works through our lives. I would never want Declan to experience such horrors, but when the days come I want him to have hope, to have love in his heart, and compassion for his fellow man. I want him to rise above the situation and understand united we all stand. Together New Yorkers persevered as the world embraced them.

I have no doubt my son will be an amazing man one day. He alone has made every sacrifice in my life worth every second of pain. If you have followed Andrea’s blogs then you know the pain she and I went through. Declan in a way is Kinlie’s phoenix.

For people who are not nerds a phoenix must die to be reborn from his own ashes.

My son is the good in which came from the most painful experience I have ever been through.

He will no doubt one day hear about his sister and that God needed her to be with Him in order for Declan to be with us.

I want Declan to know that hope is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than pain. And standing together as his mother and I did and on a larger scale the American people did is much stronger than standing alone.

So here’s to You Son as life may throw turmoil and chaos your way your mother and I know you will persevere.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 

Daddy Diaries: Dear Declan

A year ago today we announced our pregnancy with Kinlie.

I was barely 8 weeks but we had just gotten our announcement photos back from the photographer and our first dr. appointment went well so we decided to go for it an spill the beans.

My Facebook picture post went a little something like this:

“Since April Fools is over you’ll believe us when we tell you this: WE’RE PREGNANT!!”

It’s astounding to see how much we have changed in the last year.

To see all of the things Kinlie taught us and continues to teach us day in and day out.

We are no doubt better from her existence in this world, brief as it may have been.

I don’t know what kind of mom I would have been like for her, nor do I know what sort of dad Derek would have been.

I like to think we would have been two peas in a pod and that caring for her would have just come naturally.

But thanks to Kinlie, I know what kind of parents we will be for Declan.

We saw first hand how fragile life is with her, something that we will remember every day of Declan’s life.

I find it very fitting today to share with you a letter Derek wrote to Declan.

So without further ado, here is the second addition of Daddy Diaries.

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Dear Declan,

This month brings us closer than we already are.

You have already made it clear you know my voice with your kicks and I can now see your movements in your mommy’s belly.

But what brings us closer is the celebration we have together in a few weeks.

We celebrate you!

We celebrate the life you are destined to live to the fullest.

And in the back of my mind we celebrate ME.

My birthday is the day after your baby shower.

The day where all my birthday presents  (If there were any at 26)

Turn into Declan presents.

Mom might say I chose your baby shower to “kill two birds with one stone”.

But no I chose it on purpose.

I chose to celebrate my day of birth with my son’s day of recognition.

People will come far and wide for a life as precious as yours.

My friends will be there.

 Mommy’s friends will be there.

And an endless amount of love will be there for you my son.

I made a promise to myself and to God the day we lost Kinlie Marie

That I would raise our next child not as my own,

But as Gods as he intended.

Declan you and I will share a tremendous amount of love.

And we will share more than just memories we build together.

People constantly ask me if “I’m ready”

Again my answer is “no”.

How could anyone be ready for such a challenge?

But I am as ready as they come as I have already taken the hardest step.

I have committed myself before the Lord to guide you the best I can.

To walk with you in His light.

And to never give up on you or abandon you.

My excitement grows with each day that passes.

With each craving your mommy has.

With each kick you “allow” me to witness.

I’m anxious to see who you look like more.

To see your personality develop.

To see what talents you may possess.

And more importantly to see where the road will take you and I.

In 2 weeks and 4 days you will get to meet your grandparents

And we all will have the luxury of seeing you again in 3D.

Our excitement cannot be measured.

And neither can our love for you my son.

May God bless you throughout your life

As he has done for your mother and I

In the form of you

Our blessing. 

Facing Giants

So I did it.

I faced my biggest fear yesterday:

My biological father.

And then today I realized something.

He isn’t my biggest fear, he’s my longest fear.

The hours leading up to the party were filled with a million different thoughts.

I tried to map out each possible scenario in my end, as if I actually thought I would be able to prepare myself.

Throughout the years I have accumulated a collection of letters, songs, and poems that I’ve written to and about him.

I’ve always said I would give them to him if/when I ever could so that he could see the pain he caused me.

So he could know the damage done.

Most were at my parents house still boxed in their garage somewhere, but I had a handful at home and Derek suggested I take them with.

“It may be your only chance.”

I skimmed over each one as I neatly pressed them into a folder.

Some mean.

Some ruthless.

All sad.

Age 11:

“This is your daughter Andrea in case you don’t remember me. I’m eleven years old. I miss you and all but I want you to know I think you’re a jerk…”

Age 13:

“You’ve missed out on so much. You probably don’t even know that I’m an honor roll student or that my friends and I are forming a band and hope to become famous…”

Age 16:

“I would write you a letter, but my mother told me not to talk to strangers…”

Age 19:

“You plague me…”

When I stepped out of our truck once we got to the retirement home I was bombarded with emotions.

Rapid breathing.

Tears.

Fear.

Derek pulled me aside and gave me a pep talk.

“Come on mama, pull yourself together. You’re okay. It’s going to be just fine. Be strong for your brother. I’m right here with you, don’t worry.”

I composed myself and we walked inside.

He wasn’t there yet.

A sigh of relief.

We greeted everyone and my aunt came over to us and asked us if we were ready.

“I’m not sure, I guess we’ll find out.”

Grandpa was brought in and we were all instructed to yell “surprise!” at the 80 year old man.

But I froze because as grandpa walked in, so did Kevin.

My biological father.

The man I had not seen for over 18 years.

He was wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a beanie.

This angered me.

I thought to myself:

Wow. This man is seeing his children for the first time in 18 years and he didn’t even bother to put on a semi-decent outfit.

But really, what wouldn’t have upset me in that moment?

I was scared shitless and looking for any emotion to cling to other than sorrow.

I avoided eye contact like the black plague.

Finally he was within arms reach of us and made the move to say hello.

A handshake and a barely audible hello escaped from me.

We ended up outside for a while talking to my cousin who had a similar experience with his biological father just five years ago.

The fresh air and conversation calmed me and we went back inside.

He sat a table away from us, closest to me and I could feel his eyes on us with every word we spoke.

I felt my heart begin to soften as I thought of Kevin not as my bio-dad, but as a person.

A person who lost everything.

A man who has spent the greater portion of his life battling demons, and losing.

Suddenly I felt horrible for him.

I couldn’t imagine being in his shoes.

Sitting less than 5 feet away from his children and feeling that there was nothing he could say to us to make us accept him, forgive him, or love him.

Like a child being too short to reach the cookie jar.

I went to the bathroom and made a decision that I would initiate a conversation of sorts.

Something small, but a gesture of kindness.

When I came back, I turned in his direction and spoke.

“So you are planning on going back to school?”

“Yes, at the end of this month. How have you been, what’s new with you?”

Well let’s see, what have I been up to for the last 18 years?

I kid, I didn’t say that.

Instead I replied that I’ve been working and that I was pregnant with a baby boy.

“I didn’t know. Wow, a baby boy. Boys are easier than girls. You were a big baby. 9lbs 13oz.”

It took me back when he recited my size.

I awkwardly made a joke about coming out with a full head of hair, he told me he had the flu, and our conversation pretty much ended after that.

When we were leaving, I went for the handshake but he came in for a hug.

I’d like to tell you that we had a long emotional embrace but instead I did the uncomfortable one armed hug and it was one of the strangest moments of my life.

Derek asked me if I was going to give him the folder and I told him I couldn’t.

It didn’t feel right breaking an already broken man.

And in that moment I felt like I could burn them all and never look back.

It’s not about me.

It’s about him.

He is the one who is lost.

I am found.

He is the one who is weak.

I am strong.

And in this I realized that this giant I have been afraid to face since I was seven was nothing more than a mirage.

A clown’s mirror, making him seem bigger than he really was.

I don’t know where he will be in a week, a month, or a year.

But I hope that he can find the strength to face his own giants.

And then, who knows.

Here’s to facing giants.

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Daddy Diaries

Today’s post comes to you straight from the papa bear himself, Derek.

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I made this fancy shamcy titled picture because personally I LOVE when Derek guest blogs and I’m hoping to turn this into a little monthly segment.

He is just finding that out now as he reads this published post since I didn’t inform him or ask him first.

:)

But enough from me, here is a beautifully open and honest post from my wonderful husband.

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A couple weeks ago my lovely wife (unmarried guys learn that move quick) asked if/when I would post another guest blog.

 I guess to be honest I haven’t really thought about it.

I guess I haven’t really thought about being a dad much, if I’m now all of a sudden being honest.

But recently Andrea and I have both had to face some demons of our own.

Andrea and I both grew up knowing, loving, and calling our un-biological fathers “dad”. Karl has been the inspirational father towards Andrea as Dennis has been mine.

I guess I should explain my half as Andrea so bravely touched on her own story.

My story while it has the same ending in having another man become our father has a different approach to where it began. My biological father never married my mother and my biological father was never a part of my childhood.

I met my biological father (notice I say biological a lot) when I was 14 years old. I was in 9th grade and living with my aunt and 6 year old brother on her couch. I came home one day to her asking me what I would think if I could meet him.

 I laughed and said “well I have gone this long why would I care”.

But I did.

I cared a tremendous amount for some odd reason. As Dennis was my father, my dad, my role model…I still had this mysterious gut wrenching feeling of “why would he not want me in his life”.

Please note my mom always responded with “it’s not you he didn’t want, it was me.”

Today the feeling has become a mutual feeling of “why would I want you in my life”.

That’s another story for another time.

Within two days of this conversation I came home from school and was eating a bowl of cereal when the phone rang. My aunt yelled “Derek someone is on the phone for you.”

This was the phone call I had wanted my whole life. This was the phone called I never thought would happen. And much like Andrea, this was the phone call I was terrified to take.

Much went on within the next three months before I moved in with my “new” family. I came to realize I had an opportunity with them, to start fresh, to change my life forever…so I did.

I moved in with my “new” family February 9th 2002. 11 years ago and some change.

Both my “new” family and I made some drastic changes to accommodate one another. A child does not see what the parents have to go through. My biological father having to explain to his wife and 5 year old daughter he has an illegitimate son probably was quite the convo.

I had to explain to my best friend and my little brother I had to go…I had to leave him behind on that couch…I had to make one of the hardest decisions a 14 year should never have to make.

But let us fast forward before I finish this novel.

I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t go back in time and reverse one second of the journey.

My bio-dad (as Andrea calls him) may or may not ever be a part of my future. He and I may have gone our separate ways. But the journey that man brought me along for has in some way shaped me. And I cannot repay that.

I guess this guest blog is not just for Andrea to know how strong she is, how proud I am that she is standing up to her biggest fear (minus sharks and spiders of course), but it was for me to finally come out with it…that I too am terrified.

Terrified Andrea may get hurt more.

Terrified of the relationship with my own bio-dad and how it may be if we too were ever to face reconciliation.

However I am not terrified of being a dad.

 Not the responsibilities of guiding him, loving him, watching him grow into a better man than me.

This is something fear will not play a part of.

My dad Dennis taught me well. Since the day he met me he knew I was his son for life.

My dad was always there, my dad is still here, and my dad is my constant reminder to always place this little man before me at every turn.

Andrea lucked out when she came into Karl’s life. Her dimples and warm heart accepted him just as fast as he embraced her as his own, his daughter, and his sweetie.

I think I am about as ready as Dennis was when he unsuspecting fell in love with me at 3 months old. Declan doesn’t know it, but my life has already changed for the better.

I can already see us playing catch, riding bikes, building a tree house, and yes of course rooting for the Steelers every Sunday morning.

To sum this whole mess up Andrea and I may not have had much training from our bio-dads, but I think that’s ok.

Because what we got instead were two perfect examples of pure love from men who morphed us into who we are today.

And that is what my son will hopefully be thankful for!

Here’s to men that choose to be Dads.

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Love You Through It

This post is long overdue.

I spend the majority of my time posting about my mom but have somehow left out a vital character to the equation: My dad, Karl.

Daddy and Me

Twinsies, right?

Okay, you caught me. He is not my birth father, but he is and has always been my dad.

Things You Should Know About Him:

  • He is probably the only Mexican you will ever meet who hates both cheese and spicy food
  • He has about 15 jokes total. [Seriously, that’s it] And he tells them like they are new every single time.
  • Eating an entire bag of Brach’s Old Fashioned Marshmallow Eggs is his favorite Easter pastime.
  • He tries to hide it, but he has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.
  • He is one of the hardest working people you will ever meet.

True Love and Awesome Hair

My parents have the kind of love that everyone dreams of.

They are that couple you roll your eyes at in the restaurant because they are making goo goo eyes at one another.

Love like theirs is pure and powerful.

I don’t take this for granted.

I know that is was a luxury for me to grow up around such a rare couple and to have an up close view of what true love is.

I was able to marry a man who makes me feel just like my dad makes my mom feel, and I thank my parents for showing me that it existed so that I didn’t settle for anything less.

Recently I have been up at night thinking:

What would I ever do if Derek was in my mom’s place and I was in my dads?

I admire my dad tremendously.

Good day. Bad day. Worse day.

It doesn’t matter. He is there for my mom.

It is an extraordinary thing to see such selflessness in a person day in and day out.

Ever since my mom was diagnosed my dad has been nothing but supportive.

He’s left work early to take her to almost every single appointment she’s had.

When they found out she would be in the hospital for a few weeks he took her shopping to buy a bunch of new pajamas, so that she could rock the hospital in style.

And when she lost her hair to chemo and shaved her head he shaved his the very next day.

Dad’s words: “Me and my love”

 I believe that you can learn a lot about a person from the stories that others have to tell about them.

One of my favorite stories:

When I used to live with my parents my mom didn’t get home until about 7-8pm every night from work. My dad worked earlier hours than her, so he would be home from about 4pm on, patiently waiting for her to come home. One day I was dressed up in heels and all for a forgotten reason, and I came home around about 6:30pm. As I unlocked and opened the door I saw my dad standing with a big smile on his face. When he saw it was me however, he sighed, sat back down, and said, “Oh. It’s just you.” I laughed and sarcastically said, “Gee, thanks dad.”

This happened on more than one occasion and while I always thought it was the funniest thing, seeing how disappointed he got that it was “just me” I also thought it was incredible seeing his face light up like that at the mere thought of it being my mom.

Remember earlier when I said my parents are the couple that “make you sick”?

Check this out.

Whenever my mom and dad are meeting somewhere, say a restaurant, and my dad gets there first he goes up to the host stand and says something along these lines:

“My beeeeeaaaauuttiffuul wife will be meeting me here. Don’t worry, you’ll know her when you see her. She will be the gorgeous blonde, the most beautiful woman in the world.”

I’m drop dead serious.

He does not give them her name nor does he give a relevant description.

Best part?

They always know exactly where to point my mom when she walks in and they ALWAYS tell her how sweet her husband is and what he said about her.

There is a song that just came out by Martina McBride and I feel that is defines my dad to a T.

There’s a line in it that says, “She said, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore.’ He took her in his arms and said ‘That’s what my love is for'”

I don’t know what the future holds for my mom and my family.

But I do know that whatever it is my father will be right there loving my mom through it all.