Turn Around and Swim

Life | Lessons | Laughter | Love


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It’s Gonna be a Bright, Bright, Bright “Sunshiny” Day

I was nominated for the SUNSHINE BLOG AWARD!  Thank you http://multifariousmeanderings.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for this award, which is given to bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others!

                                      

Rules to Accept the Award

  1. Include the award logo in a post or somewhere on your blog.
  2. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  3. Nominate 5 other fabulous bloggers.
  4. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.
  5. Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

1. What is a favorite childhood memory?  Sitting on my front porch after bath time with my parents and brother eating ice cream.  It was the time of the day that we all got back together as a family and just shared stories and thoughts. 

2. What is a real fear you have?  Something happening to my children.  I cannot imagine my life without them.  I want to protect them forever!

3. How would you describe yourself?  Very energetic with an enormous amount of passion for life, my family and friends!

4. What is your style? It depends on the day’s events.  I can go formal cocktail, get down and dirty in jeans or strut around in yoga gear.

5. What is your favorite breakfast food?  Kale, berry, flax, Kefir Smoothie and two egg whites.

6. What are some of your hobbies?   Sports, exercise, nature, reading, arts, socializing.

7. If you could tell people anything…what would be the most important thing to say?  You have one life, live it to the fullest!

8. What is one of your “passions”? To travel the world

9. What is one truth that you have learned?  Never judge.  You never really know what someone else is going through until you walk in their shoes.

10.   If there is one place in the world you could live, where would it be?  Italy

In no particular order, my nominees are:

1.  http://cynk.wordpress.com/

2. http://definingmotherhood.wordpress.com/

3. http://lostgenygirl.com/

4. http://crashleadership.com/

5. http://theviewfromhere.ca/

 Thank you again and to all of you following my blog, I also thank you! 


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Red, White and You!

This is absolutely my favorite weekend of the year!  The official kick off of summer!  In the Northeastern parts of the country, the first plantings of the garden get folded into the soil and the sounds of children echo across the yards.  The pools are officially open for business and we start to have more warm days than not.

Memorial Day weekend deserves that honorable mention for all things it represents.  Early sunrises and the morning dewCatching fireflies at dusk.  Bonfires and s’more making and sporting a sun-kissed glow.  Balls cracking on bats and bicycle rides in the park.  Children running through sprinklers and patriotism.  I can go on and on.  So with all things warm and sunny, I thought I would share my official kick-off to summer guide.  Now remember, don’t forget your sunscreen!

The Unofficial Guide to Kick-Off Summer

Dare to bare!  Nothing says summertime like shorts, tees and tanks.  Bathing suits can sometimes be classified as the unmentionables and speedos, well let’s just not go there.  But the best part of summer is going barefoot in the grass.  It is a fantastic form of therapy.  Whether you want to cool off your feet, give them a gentle massage or just transform back to childhood, a trip barefoot in the grass will do just that.

Have s’more!  Sweet, gooey and delicious.  Who isn’t a fan of s’mores?  Yet, the best part of them is making them.  I am not talking in foil preparation in your oven or microwaved on a micro safe plate.  The good old-fashioned way.  Light a bonfire, grab a stick and insert that marshmallow.  You decide if you want to torch the creamy puff, lightly brown or barely toast.  The options are endless and the messier the better!

Fire ‘er up!  Take the cover off, scrape the winter from the rack and get it stoked.  Don’t be intimidated!  You can prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts right on the barbie.  You can cook eggs and some turkey bacon in a pan right on the grill.  Create a veggie and fish packet with foil,  skewer some plums, pears and peaches, drizzle with olive oil and turn before they burn.  Take the cooking outdoors!

Get sprinkled!  Who says you have to be under the age of ten to run through the sprinkler.  Who cares if your neighbors think you have lost your mind.  It’s summer and anything goes!  If running or skipping is not your thing, unroll the folding chair and relax while the cool mist blankets you!

Play Ball!  Grab your buddies, the neighborhood kids and even grandma Flo, it’s time to take it to the streets.  Power down the Blackberry and iPad, shut off your Kindle, turn off the tube and swing batter, batter, swing.  Organize a game of America’s favorite pastime.  A game of neighborhood ball can get all ages involved whether they are playing, cheering or handing out slushies.  Technology often keeps us less social.  So grab a ball, bat and dust off the gloves!  Batter up!

Turn around and swim! I know, cheesy, but nevertheless, dive in!  Get a membership to the community pool, slide into the mountain springs or paddle with the ocean waves.  Summer is not summer until you go for a swim, tread or float.

 Two scoops not one!  When it comes to ice cream, two scoops is ALWAYS better than one.  On a cone, in a bowl or dripping off your chin.  Refeed your soul!  Everything in moderation!  Even Jenny C, Valerie Bertinelli and Sensa will agree, it’s okay to have an occasional cheat!  How many points, calories or carbs?  Who cares!  This is summer!

Grab a Net!  All things that can be caught with a net should be caught and then set free!  Remember chasing fireflies and wanting to keep them forever as pets?  Then in the morning you woke to find mom or dad tell you that “somehow” they got away.  So as soon as dusk fell you would scurry out again to try to find them.  I love watching children chase butterflies or catching crabs in the creek.  Shoes and street clothes on and wet, makes it even better!  It’s summer, the heat will dry them off!

Have a picnic!  Grab a blanket, pack some sandwiches and fruit and head to the park.  The ants and little summer bugs are the perfect picnic cleaner uppers for the crumbs.  Toss a frisby for a nice post meal work-out and indulge in a piece of juicy fruit for dessert.

Salute!  Although Memorial Day is an U.S. Holiday, you can still salute.  It can be a flag, soldier, cause or organization.  Make time to honor an event or person.  Be grateful for what you have and not what you don’t.

So, there you have it.  My little suggestions to kick-off summer wherever in the world you may be.  A few years ago I had the privilege of being in Pearl Harbor, HI on Memorial Day.  It brought out a lot of emotions for me.  But the best part is when I shook the hand of a veteran who survived the attacks.  It made me appreciate that this weekend does not just mark the official kick-off of summer but it can also be a time of reflection.

So as the sun kisses your cheeks, the ice cream drips down your chin and the grass gets stuck between your toes, take time to reflect on all that is important to you.  I know it is not the bills you have to pay, the negative medical test result you received or the personal or career struggle you are facing.  You have one life, choose to live it!  There is no better time to start, then summertime (aka right now)!


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The Ride of My Life

My son got a new bike for his Birthday courtesy of my dear mom and dad. Well it started as a bike but then turned into a $85.00 LEGO Batman set.  Now you would expect the box to be the size of a refrigerator and equipped with a coupon for one free ride in the Batmobile.

Wee, wee, look at me…I cost $85.00!

Yet it was just about the size of a Nike shoe box and ours must have been missing the free ride coupon aboard the Batmobile through Gotham City. Anyway, little junior agreed he needed the bike more than a trillion small pieces that give you arthritis at first glance and present a choking hazard for two-year old brothers  Good choice son!

So mama ran the $85.00 rattling box back to the toy store and picked him out a nice little mountain bike. Funny, as after the exchange, I only needed 12 dollars to cover the difference. LEGO you’ve got issues!

It takes a day for assembly.  So on the eve of the next day, I busted through the gates of the toy store with three minutes to spare before closing and the party rock employees literally threw the bike at me. I did cut them some slack for after all it was 9:30pm on a Friday. I get it, the club calls.  So much so that I had to take out the bike and load it into the vehicle myself. Oh well, party on toy store worker not people.

I was too exhausted to unload the bike when I got home so decided it would be a nice deterrent Saturday morning when I break it to my little men that I am going to head out for a quick workout. They were all up and ready to roll outside at 6:30am.  So I sprang from my slumber to give him his bike.

It would have been a wonderful surprise had the handle bars not have been cracked, seat torn up and chain dismantled and tangled. SERIOUSLY, I would have kept the LEGOS!  Now my deterrent was a flop, junior is let down and I have to take the darn bike back.

Picture courtesy of Google Images

So as soon as the store opens I call the toy store. The “customer service” personnel advises for me to bring the bike back, pick out a new box and they will reassemble.  Then I can come back on Sunday to get it. Oh isn’t she just so cute. Yes, umm and no!  See sweetie you have it all wrong.

So I proceed to say, “I appreciate your offer or shall we say suggestion but what I am going to have to do is read you the item number off my receipt so you can pick a box for assembly. Then I will make one trip to exchange out bikes.”  Yes, I was put on a hold and then finally she agreed. What a fantastic deal we have.  Anyways it all went well and we have the new bike. So I knew it would mean the world to junior if when I got home from work, we could go on a bike ride.

I never would have guessed how much he would talk. He told me about his girlfriend (really he has a girlfriend), his fears for the upcoming school year and that he wants to get better at baseball. He told me about how he really would like new Crocs and to have more playdates with his friends.

He went on and on about when he turns 10 or 11 or maybe 12 he could ride down to his friend’s house. Oh he was just testing the waters though cause he quickly followed it up with, “But ya know, you could ride with me and then ride home while I play!” So quick to catch my stern eye.  Smart boy I say!

He told me how he tried to get his middle brother to learn to ride his “old” bike, because 1.75 days constitutes old, but that his little brother was too afraid. Finally, I was able to get a word in and replied, “You too were once afraid.”  He said, “I know and I don’t like to think about it.”

Because when he thinks about it he thinks about how bloody and scrapped up he got. That daddy made him keep trying and trying and then would give him strawberries and turkey rolls.  But then he said, while eating his post bike attack snack, “Daddy’s football show or something like that would come on and I was so happy!”  I asked him why and he told me the show had a countdown and when it would get to the last number, he knew it would mean that I was almost home from work and that would make him so happy because he missed me so much.

I know exactly what show he is talking about because as soon as I walked in the door, the second thing I did was turn down the television.  It was ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption show that airs at 5:30 p.m. ET.  Seriously, is it just me or isn’t this the cutest thing ever.  To think my then little five-year old would watch this using the show’s timer and countdown until my arrival home.  It obviously was before he could tell time.

Pardon The Interruption…My Mommy Will be Home Soon!

Oh my goodness, the sweetest thing I ever heard. This was 4 years ago. It is amazing what our children think and just don’t know how to articulate. It took a bike ride that lasted thirty minutes to know more about my son than I thought I knew in nine years.  The very fact that he could recall what he ate and watched like it happened yesterday is just simply amazing.

And just when I thought this ride couldn’t get any better, he turned to me and said, “Mom, we should do this more often.”  I didn’t let on that I was melting but did tell him, “Absolutely, because this was the best ride of my life!”

We often take for granted the little things that mean the most. We live in a very fast paced techno world these days with LEGO sets that cost $85 dollars or more.  Our children don’t need the stuff that comes in boxes. They need face to face conversation. Perhaps it takes place on a hike, bike or stroll. But nevertheless, the moments are priceless!  Top that LEGO!  And thank you ESPN for helping my little guy to pass the time until mommy came home.  Now if you will pardon the interruption, I am heading out for a bike ride…


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Progress Reports and Business Meetings and Mommy Guilt…Oh My!

May Day! May Day! That’s all I have to say.  Seriously as if the title and distress call do not sum up this post.  Yet, I know you want to stay tuned and I feel the need to confess a few things anyways.

So, just coming off a Cinco de Mayo weekend that was sunny, warm and festive in every way, I head into one of the craziest weeks yet this year.  Thank you tequila and friends and their children and funky little monkeys.  You do have to agree I can throw down a nice celebration and I am much better at cornhole with the wedge shoes off my feet and to the side.  Yet, this past Monday began a whole new week, a new ballgame fully equipped with chaos.

I scheduled a long-awaited client appointment for Monday morning.  Not super early as I knew I still had remnants of Cinco de Mayo coming out of my pores and the thought of a very long two-hour appointment without a large java load would not go so well.  Then it occurred to me when I parked my business self into my leather office chair, that I needed to pick up my four-year old from preschool right about the time my soon to be client would be signing on the dotted line. 

Yikes!  Thank goodness a fellow busy, working mom and friend came to my rescue.  When I finally grabbed the little guy after my appointment which created another fifteen To-Do’s in my head, I schleped him off to daycare to meet up with his two-year old brother.

Oh boy, maniac Monday calls for another java jolt.  Then  off to the office for more fun and another meeting with what is to become the most time draining client I will gain in 2012.  There will be no sympathy from this man, no empathy and clearly he didn’t care that I had to get my nine-year old off a bus.

When I bolted out of the office, my car does a little ding ding.  Shoot, mama needs gas.  A 25 mile commute passing through every school zone and bus stop from office to “ruralsville” is not helping.  The fact that I have a child who will be rerouted back on a bus to the school district transportation garage because mama is a no-show is not going to earn me the mom of the year medal.

…And to the Slacker Mom Goes the Trophy!

So, while maneuvering through school zones, kids inappropriately playing in the street and cops that are pulling speeders over, I am dialing up every Tom, Dick and Kristen I could find.  Finally I get a real person and through a sinus infection and partially lost voice, tell her to please yank my son off the bus and I will be at her house in a jiffy.  I am also very concerned now because it was that easy to yank my kid off the bus without a note or call from mom.  Don’t worry, I am saving this for a free pass when my boys get in a little bus brawl in the future.  I am a mother of three boys so it is bound to happen at some point from K-12.

Anyways, it all worked out and now I have two dirty crabby boys to pick up from daycare, get them hosed off and fed.  Then mama might be able to sit down and breath.  Go ahead, deep breath now, I just did.

Tuesday I had a women in business networking event.  I am sure I made a fantastic impression as I got caught in a T-storm so I looked like a soggy rat.  Then when I went to give my 30 second introduction as to why these 350 women should do business with me, I hacked up a lung.  Perfect.  Can someone please tell which hole I can climb in now? 

After a busy work day my son’s tee-ball game got cancelled and my husband suggested ice cream.  I swear I wanted to cry.  In fact, I starting whining so bad about how I did not want ice cream, I just wanted to go home.  Then when I changed into yoga attire, all the men in my life gave me the evil guilted eye.  Scorned I was but in about 25 minutes I will be laying flat on a yoga mat.  Cheers to that.

But who does this?  Who denies a hubby and three little boys an ice cream treat so they can bail and go to a yoga class?  I did and boy oh boy I am feeling so darn guilty.  Really I was and still am.  When the zen started kicking in, I thought, what is wrong with me?  I should be wanting to spend time with my family and here I am vinyasa-ing in 100 degree room with the post tequila sweats.  Shame on me. 

Needless to say I was going to run into the boys bedrooms and kiss them all good night as soon as I got home.  Yet, instead, I tip toed into the house and made a b-line for the shower.  My heart told me to go say goodnight but my mind told me to proceed directly to master bedroom.  For the love of my boys, what is going on here?  I have to admit though, when I finished the shower and found they were all asleep, I was somewhat relieved.

Later in the week, my son came home with a Progress Report that made absolutely no sense at all.  I have seen all his tests and graded papers and they have all been A’s.  So what was his teacher talking about when she said he was barely getting a C  in reading?  Huh?  Well, little junior is still coming off his Birthday high and decided school was out for summer and not turning in work.  So, I had to spend the next 4 hours playing catch up with him. 

Now the only natural thing to do would be to send him to his room, right?  Take a few toys away or even dismantle the Xbox controls.  Nope, not this mom.  I pack the kids in the car with snacks and drinks and head to spin class.  I tuck them into the child care center and do an hour spin class.  The spin ride was dedicated to mothers and I really started thinking, I have no right to have anything dedicated to me right now.  What a selfish mother I am.  Yet, it was either spin and work it out in my head or hit a brick wall.

The real kicker recently is when I got one child on the bus and then dropped my other two boys off at daycare.  Then while proceeding to my office, I took a u-turn and never made it in to work.  I worked out, went grocery shopping, bought mom’s day gifts and now I feel guilty and like the worst mom ever.  Chalk that up as a vacation day, I guess.

I wanted to redeem myself.  So I decided to wake up at 4:45 a.m. and make Belgian Waffles with a fresh blueberry compote topped with homemade organic whipped cream.  After I used half the pantry of ingredients for the batter, I realized I had no more eggs.  No worries, oil will do because the tofu was expired.  Well let’s just say it was more like Belgian mash than fluffy waffles.  Oh well, once the whipped topping is on, nobody will know the difference. 

Then while the bacon was frying, I decided to load up the car for the day.  The washer cycle was complete so I transferred the towels into the dryer.  I was making good progress until I spilled my coffee all over me and the carpet.  As I was changing and cleaning the carpet, the kids starting screaming followed by a British accented voice saying, “Fire! Fire!”  Oh no, the bacon.  I knew water is a no go but what was the other item to throw on a grease fire?  Salt, sugar, flour, baking soda and oh never mind.  Boys hand mama the baby powder.  The kids ending up eating a Cliff bar and I told them to go sit in the garage while I air out the house.  You want pop boys, go ahead.  What the hell.

When I was making my way into the office from an appointment, I saw the cutest little senior couple enjoying a Gelato.  It put everything in perspective.  This is what this thing called life is all about.  Just then, the sidewalk speaker kicked on and all I heard is, All I need is a Miracle.  I couldn’t help but giggle.  I really am blessed!  Thank you Mike and The Mechanics which reminds me my check brake system light is flashing on my vehicle.

All I Need is a Miracle (and a Gelato)

So, after skipping in and out of mom duty this week, I will have you know, I feel refreshed, better and plan on spending the whole weekend with my boys.  In fact, I cannot wait to go to the park, roll around on the ground and cuddle with them in bed.  Despite all my mom guilt, I think I have only scratched the surface as to how to effectively navigate through chaos.  It starts with non-judging, taking time for me and most importantly, rest.   It has made me appreciate my life that much more.  Yes, I will admit, it is hard to be me sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I would recommend taking a mental health day once a quarter.  Given what we juggle every day, four times a year to slack off, is what is going to make us better friends, people and parents.

So, I leave you with the quote of the week and wish you all a happy Mother’s Day!  That like me, you find some time to feel less guilty and more refreshed.  Because deep down inside, the chaos is what keeps us sharp!

“When in doubt, bacon is out and so are eggs for children under the age of one”

Happy Mother’s Day to all and to all a great weekend!


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Fishing Tales and Daddy’s Little Girl

When I was a little girl I would stare at a plaque in my dad’s “work room” (aka his lure tying, fish tournament trophy museum and his buddies gathering place) in our basement.  I couldn’t read the words but remember the wood engraved picture.  It was a man in a boat casting a fishing rod into a lake while a child sat next to him.  I can close my eyes and see that image as if the sawdust is falling right now.

As I grew older and was able to read, the words engraved on the plaque merely meant nothing to me.  In fact, as a young six-year-old, it didn’t make any sense.  I kept reading the engraved words in my head over and over with the hopes that one day it would make some sense.  I was too shy to ask my father what the saying meant.

At the time, to me, father and daddy were one in the same.  Now as an adult with three little children of my own, I have come to understand the meaning of these words and the difference in a father and a daddy.

I am very fortunate and blessed to still have my father in my life.  We never really had one of those lovey, huggy relationships but our bond is everlasting.  My father is a huge fisherman.  In fact, he has created a business around his passion and has been successful.  His fishing retail store is more than an outfit to buy rods, reels and fishing line.  It is a place to exchange stories and exaggerations of the latest catch.  When you walk into his store you are not just buying a product but the wisdom of someone who knows the lakes, rivers and streams.

He can tell you where the fish are biting.  Whether that be up near the lily pads or in the shallow waters by the tree stumps.  He can tell you what line depth to set your line at and what lure or jig the fish are biting on.  He will even offer to take you out on a fishing trip.  For me, it was during our weekly fishing trips that I realized my father was a daddy.  Who would have thought that fishing with my father would make me the women I am today and the daddy he is to me.

So if you have a few minutes to spare, grab your hat, your rod, your tackle box and step into my boat.  Let’s go on a fishing trip.  Fishing licenses need not apply here!

Things I Learned While Fishing With My Father (AKA  My Daddy)

1.  Always Stay Out To Catch Your Limit.  In most states or counties there is a regulation as to how many fish you can catch per person per day.  My dad was really lucky because he would take my brother and I on his weekly walleye hunt so he could triple the limit.  Yep, we caught onto you dad but have no regrets. It was the challenge to catch the limit and stay out until it was accomplished that has given me that, drive to succeed, attitude.  There have been so many times when I wanted to give up, turn in and call it quits.  I think of those times I watched my dad throwing cast after cast for those walleye.  Something about that determination to catch the limit has taught me to never give up.

2.  You might not hook them on your first cast. Fishing is a sport but it is also an art.  Perhaps you get lucky and on your first cast you hook a fish but other times you will have to repeat the steps over and over before you ever set your line.  I would get so frustrated watching my dad cast, set and reel them in.  I would cast and cast and produce no results.  My dad taught me that if at first you do not hook them, try, try again.  I have used the cast, set and hook method in so much of my life.  From dating, to job interviews and in parenthood.  Never give up!

3.  Trolling along is not a waste of time.  I am definitely a Type A person.  I expect things to come quickly and am very determined.  Every Tuesday evening after school I would go with my dad down to Gordon Park, launch the boat and troll up and down the breakwall on Lake Erie catching walleye.  I used to think trolling was such a waste of time.  Couldn’t we just go out into the lake and catch the fish.  But my dad explained to me that we are doing teamwork.  That if we went out into the lake, we would be each casting separately.  When we are trolling we are both casting our lines at the same time and luring the fish.  The speed at which the lures are pulled through the water impacts the success.  So, not everything in life needs to be fast paced and sometimes the best results occur as a result of a slower speed, with a partner and having each be in synch.

4.  Sometimes you have to let them go.  Many times after hours on the lake, I would finally catch a fish and my dad would tell me great job but we have to let ‘er go.  I was dumbfounded at first.  My dad would explain to me that the fish I caught was a beauty but she was pregnant.  He told me she was going to be a mother and needed to care for her baby fish.  I was sad to let her go but understand now why we did.  This past year I have watched my beautiful grandmother approach the end of her life with such grace.  While we sat at the residential Hospice suite with her, I wanted so much to be selfish and tell her to stay.  Yet, I remember what my dad had taught me so many years ago.  Sometimes, as hard as it is, we have to let ‘er go.

5.  After a great catch, there will be time for a thrill ride.  Nothing was better than spending hours on the lake catching fish and then getting to go for a joy ride at full throttle afterwards.  Typically dusk would be setting in and as the sun set in our view, my dad would hook up the boat lights.  We would travel into the sunset at full speed crashing the boat into the waves.  It was so exhilarating.  After a job well done, we should always reward ourselves with something that sets our spirits free.

6.  There will always be the one thing that got away.  Imagine after hours on the lake, you decide to make one final cast.  As the line hits the water, the lure slowly sinks and you crank the reel, you feel a little tug.  You set the line and before you know it you are in a dance with a bass with nothing but a 2 lb test line between you two.  The struggle is on, the bass is flipping in and out of the water and your arms are getting heavy.  Your fingers are numbing and your wrists want to give up but then it is getting closer and closer.  It is almost to the boat and you go to grab the net to assist and the line snaps.  The fish looks back at you and then swims away never to be seen again.  All the struggle, the moment, lost in a snap.  We have all been there, loved and lost, the career that slipped through our hands or the moment that can’t be repeated.  My dad taught me to embrace the moment, learn from it and realize it wasn’t meant to be and most importantly, have no regrets.

7.  Sometimes you just have to put up the Gone Fishin’ sign.  Work, work, work and no play is no way to live.  Gone Fishin’ is synonymous with “time to relax.”  It’s one of those past times that at some point everyone comes to appreciate whether you are actually going fishing or not.  A little R & R does the body good (milk not so much).  If there is one thing my dad always made time for, it was Sunday, his Gone Fishin’ dayAlthough at some point during the day he actually did go fishing, he always made it a point to remind us that Sunday was a day of rest, reflection and relaxation.  I try weekly to make this a triple “R” day for my family too!

Who knew that a small wooden wall plaque with a picture and some jumbled words would find its way into my heart so many years later.  Who knew that when I thought we were just fishing, my daddy was teaching me lessons about life.  Who knew these lessons would help me to strive for anything, never give up, learn to accept failure and appreciate Sundays.  My father and I might have never attended a father and daughter dance, a Girl Scout camp-out or hugged on a daily basis, but we sure have a wonderful relationship that started with a fishing pole.

We danced threw the water, sailed into sunsets, caught earthworms to use as bait and collided with waves.  We talk smack about the ones who got away and the biggest dream we caught.  And we always make time for each other, even if not on a Sunday.  I am proud he is my father but hold a special place in my heart that he took the time to also be my daddy!

“Anyone Can Be a Father, But it Takes Someone Special to Be a Daddy”