Sunday, April 24, 2016

My life path connects to #Ecuador, and NOW so does Yours! We need your help!

In my lifetime, I've come to the belief that our lives have a certain path that is laid out before us. And, throughout that path, we are led to places we would have never expected, and initially don't understand. But after awhile, the reason we are where we are, and have experienced all that we have experienced becomes obvious. We suddenly come to a place on the path where past moments and relationships pull together creating an overwhelmingly emotional and/or enlightening experience the humbles us to the smallness of our world, AND the powers of our Universe.

The earthquake in Ecuador a week ago has created one of these moments in my life. I'm writing this extremely overwhelmed at how events in my life have pulled together in a way that allows my family, that is fighting to not only survive, but to also save others, to get help from a Sigma Chi Fraternity Brother whom I've not directly spoken to since graduating 16 years ago.

I've been asking myself how it came to be that this beautiful Alaskan chose to come to Des Moines, IA to attend Drake University? How is it that I then fell in love with her, and her wonderful family? How is it that I joined the Fraternity that a young man from Ecuador also decided to join? Why did my wife's younger sister and her husband decided to move to Ecuador? And I realize that part of the reason this all came to be is so that during this tragic time in Ecuador these three wonderful people would be there to help each other, and all of those that need support while the country works to recover.

Now, I'm using this platform to reach YOU. YOU that have found my site, and have been reading my posts. Maybe you've been a fan, or maybe this is your first time coming across my site. Regardless, you have now crossed my path, and I'm asking YOU to help these three amazing people that are fighting to save others after this terrible earthquake. The devastation is severe, and the infrastructure in Ecuador is making things very hard to get help to those that need it. I'm asking YOU to not stop your prayers for those in Ecuador. I'm asking for you to contribute to one of the sites linked below, so more relief/aid can get to those that need it. Share this post, or share the video below on your Facebook and Twitter. Don't let those fighting to survive be forgotten. Please find a way to help.

The above video is from Canoa, Ecuador. This is where my sister-in-law and her husband live. The Surf Shak is the restaurant that they had just sold this past fall. The current owners were both injured during the quake, and are hospitalized. You can read their story, here.

There are several link below that can help get funds to those working to rebuild. Please go to the Canoa Ecuador Earthquake Relief Facebook page to follow the progress and to find more ways to help.

This link goes to the gofundme site raising money for Canoa. Click here.
This is also a gofundme account going directly to a former firefighter and 9/11 first responder now living in Canoa and working to rebuild the community. Click here. <<Suggested by my sister-in-law, Maija!>>
This link is to the UNICEF page. Click here.
The James Dean Byrd Foundation to donate relief funds to get the school back up and running for the kids in Canoa to have a bright spot to their days. Click here.

I'm not linking to the Red Cross at this time, as there is not a way to donate exclusively to relief efforts in Ecuador.

If you have other, or better ways to help aid those in Ecuador please let me know in the comments or through email at theteacherdad(@)

Friday, April 15, 2016

My First Daughter - How we built our special Daddy/Daughter relationship

My favorite picture the 2 of us from years ago!
Eight years ago today, my First daughter was born. As a hopeless dreamer, I was thrilled to have a daughter. I could imagine the wonderful daddy-daughter relationship we would have.. picturing me as Steve Martin's George Banks character from The Father of the Bride. I could only smile at all of the perfect moments that
would be coming for the both of us. But, as we all know, movies are not always the best reflection of reality, and I will be the first to admit, my daughter's first handful of years were a bit of a challenge for me.

Now, please understand, it wasn't her that was the cause of the friction. Oh no.. It was me. In the moments I was struggling as a papa to my daughter, I would have said it was her that was the difficult one. But now, looking back over all of her wonderful 8 years, I just see that my understanding of that Daddy/Daughter bond was built differently than I expected.

I started my journey as a father of a beautiful daughter in many ways forgetting that my delicate flower was not so much a delicate flower. I expected her to need me more, to listen more, to almost hang from my every word.. I mean .. I'm her daddy! I'm the most special man in her life! I don't know what I was thinking! How incredibly foolish of me, huh?!

So, as I would approach situations with her, I expected to be in charge. But, that's not what the daddy/daughter relationship is all about! The successful dad to a daughter is man that can see that his role is to learn how to be needed by his daughter. For me, I learned that my oldest daughter needed me to figure out how to bring her back when her world seemed out of sorts. She needs a dad that doesn't get frustrated, because she'll take that head on in a battle royal! Instead, she needs me to provide for her a person that can center her when she's scared, hurt, sad, or feeling emotionally out of sorts. She's needs in me a man that models what the right reaction should be when she built up with emotion, and reacting to that pain in her own ways.

I learned how to be her rock, and that role just doesn't happen. I had to research, and try things. I had to be honest with myself when things didn't work. I had to learn to make her growth in becoming a strong, confident woman the center of my world. I had to figure out how to read what she needed of me, and provide that to the best of my ability. All in the name of building that wonderful/trusting daddy/daughter relationship that we both NEED in our lives.

It took awhile to really nail it down, but I can honestly say that I know I've got it now. My relationship with my oldest daughter is something so incredibly special. She can make me laugh harder than most people. Sitting and reading with her this past year, watching her grow in confidence as a student, listening to her sing, or come up with an imaginative dress-up pretend play story with her twin brother just is.. it's just so special for me.

Sure, she's tough. She's a red-headed, Alaskan, Sicilian spitfire. But she's also the most darling, loving, sensitive sweetheart of a girl as any in the world. I love her so much for all that she is to me, and for all of the ways that she has made me a better father and person.

Happy 8th birthday MGM. You are truly amazing.