You knew him as “Papa”

My dearest Liana. A few days after you tend 8 years old, my father (your papa) went to be with the Lord on December 31st of 2014. I’m so happy that you were able to spend a lot of time with him as you had a VERY special place in his heart as he loved you more than you will ever know. He was a special person to me and played a huge role in the man and father I have become. His artistic talents were passed onto me, and ultimately through me to you. He lived so close to us that he was able to visit frequently and play countless number of games and make believe with you. I remember most times you would play teacher with him and have him be the student. What was funny was that he would “complain” to me that you gave him too much homework…hahaha. He loved you so much and I miss having him around to talk to, have dinner with and watch the Texans with.

I truly hope you were able to capture some special moments in your heart and memory of him as that would certainly bring a smile to his face as he watches over you and Brielle from heaven. I know you regret sometimes being mean to him but he knows you were only vying for his attention and love. He made you so many things for your American Dolls including

  • Bathroom
  • Bunk Bed
  • Stove
  • Microwave Oven
  • Washing Machine
  • Dryer

and those are just the things I could remember him making you. He would always take pictures of the items while he made them for you and send them to me as he was so excited to give them to you. I’m not sure how much you will remember of him but know that he will always be around you and watching over you as a guardian angel. He passed on some of his artistic talents to me as I’m sure I passed on mine to you based on your early drawings. His creativity was only matched by his musical abilities as he thrived in playing the guitar. A few of his other abilities included painting, drawing, model building and graphic design. I use to refer to him as the DaVinci of our time due to his imagination and drive to create no matter what the project was.

I hope you have a special place in your heart where you keep your memories of him as I know I have mine. Anytime you want to know about Papa, just ask and I’ll be happy to relive those memories of all of us together again. I love and miss you Dad, and I will never forget you and all that you have done to help me become the artist and father I am today. May you rest in peace and watch over our family.

Begin Again

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I have written in your blog.  Although this hiatus wasn’t planned, it has given me time to reflect on the past 6 years of writing to you.  From your first words and steps to losing your first tooth it has been an amazing journey that I have truly enjoyed sharing with you, even through your difficult times.  You are probably saying to yourself “me?…difficult?, yep, you darn right-as you were a handful at times.  You see you were blessed with a type A personality not to mention the double edged sword of being a Capricorn, like myself.  On our best days our personalities will light up a room while we bask in the glow, yet other days we cannot seem to get out of our own way due to our heard headed stubbornness.  That’s not to say that we are troubled souls by any stretch of the imagination, but we do sometimes require the ability to sometimes take a step back and get out of our own way to completely see the big picture.

This past year has seen you graduate kindergarten and begin your elementary career into the first grade.  Your reading and comprehension has excelled daily and your problem solving ability knows no bounds, when you put your mind to it OR you are not distracted.  Your personality types seem to have shifted a little from driver-analytical to  driver-expressive due in part to your Chatty Cathy episodes in class all the way down to your desire to direct and lead play activities amongst friends and family.  I don’t know what to attribute this to other than your deep desire for attention, but will continue to encourage positive interaction and let go of the reigns a little with your friends and enjoy your childhood.  there will be plenty of opportunities for you to be the leader and take control of the situation.

Since you were just a little over 2 years old, my wife Cassondra, has been in your life.  Cassondra has been a blessing in not only my life but your life as well.  I really haven’t mentioned her much in my writings only because this blog was originated around mine and your times together, our experiences, and the journals of me; a first time father.  Although at times there has existed a small bubble of jealousy from time to time over my affection of you, she has learned that there is nothing to fear from you as she loves, teaches and parents you as if she was her own.  You and Cassondra have your own bond that extends outside of a fatherly bond which I hope continues to grow over time.  It’s amazing to see Cassondra want to shop for you even during times when we didn’t have you and she seemed to be always looking for the cutest outfits for you.  You and I are very fortunate to have someone in our lives that came from an unbroken home with strong family values, which in turn, instills in in us to create a strong family bond.

In short, we have traveled a short distance in your life, but have covered many learning miles in ours.  I would never have guessed this is how it would have turned out, but wouldnt change it for the world.  The best part is, the voyage is just beginning.

Let’s Make a Deal

I’m not sure when my interest in game shows began but glad to see it’s been passed on to my daughter. I was flipping through the DVR and saw that I had some “Let’s Make a Deal” episodes (guilty pleasure that I watch when I break for lunch) and asked Lia if she would like to watch it. She asked what it was about but told her she will see. It wasn’t too long before Lia was asking to watch the show where people dressed up. Of course this is the updated Wayne Brady version based of the original 70’s show where Monty Hall would run up and down aisles to give unsuspecting contestants prizes or the dreaded zonks. I can’t exactly pinpoint the fascination with game shows growing up, I just know I liked them. I wasn’t a game show junkie by any means, but enjoyed some Price is Right and Card Sharks when I stayed home from school from time to time. What made our first game show time together fun was the fact that Lia really got into the prizes that people won. She would even tell me “look Daddy, that person won a trip to New York”. What does a trip to New York mean to a child, I’m not exactly sure but it could be the fact she, much like I did liked the fact of winning. Hmmm, now that I think about it, could be the beginnings of my competitive nature, which by the way has also been passed down to my little angel.

The mind of a 5 year old works in ways that sometimes can make you question how you process things as an adult. For example, getting dressed. Now in our minds, getting dressed has become so routine and you know that your clothes are going to fit for the most part because as an adult you have quit growing (upward at least), but not so much as a child. For a 5 year old, clothes fit almost for 15 minutes then it’s time for new clothes again. Well, it doesn’t take Lia too long to get ready especially if we are heading somewhere she really wants to go. This particular morning we were on a donut run. Well to say the least nothing comes between Lia and a chocolate or strawberry sprinkled donut. If a pack of wolves were between Lia and one of those donuts, it’s safe to say we might have some new furry rugs when it’s all said and done. So back to the getting dressed part, once Lia knew our upcoming destination, she bolted into her room to throw on ANYTHING she could walk out the door in. I knew she was running low on clean clothes that particular day since we had yet to do her laundry, but didn’t think she would throw on some 2t pants with high waters Steve Urkel would have been jealous of. She waltzes in the room saying she is ready to go and I just had to turn around and laugh and tell her “Lia, where did you get those pants they don’t fit you anymore, they are too short”. Her response was and instant classic, “It’s ok Daddy, I’ll just wear longer socks.” What makes it funny to me is her utilitarian response as if to say, problem solved Daddy, let’s go.

Once a bottom time

Yes, you read that right, a little story that Lia recently told us began with “once a bottom time”. I had to get her to say it a few times to be sure of it, but yes that was her interpretation to the beginning of fairy tales. Her stories range from the insanely ridiculous to using pieces of stories I have told her in the past. I’m really loving her creativity and she is showcasing some great ad lib capabilities in each of her stories.

A few weeks before Lia’s birthday I had stumbled across a place called Sky High Sports. When I got home I looked them up on the web and found that someone actually brought a childhood dream of mine to life; a matrix of wall to wall trampolines. I have taken Lia to pump it up and other air filled bouncy places and she enjoyed them but this place was to say the least was a one fun and full hour action packed, all purpose energy diffuser. This place was packed and Lia couldn’t wait to get her jump on. A little cautious at first, as she jumped primarily in one square trampoline area and before you knew it she was literally bouncing off the walls. Square to square, jump zone to jump zone she eventually made her way to the foam pit. The foam pit was a little intimidating at first to her because she actually had to jump into foam nothingness with nothing to hold on to. After seeing the first few kids attempt them with no hesitancy, she was soon in mid air “arms out” feet first into the pit. It took her a few seconds to climb out but she was raring to go a few 20 more times before she was tuckered out and her jump time had expired. I have to say, it was definitely worth the price of admission and each time we go the crowds seem to double in size. I’d say this is tied for first in comparison to go-cart driving, but this definitely lasts longer and is steadily climbing the charts.

I have to say, bedtime has become one of my favorite times with Lia. Something about winding down the day with her as we both lay in her bed and talk about her favorite parts of the day as we look forward to the next days events or plans. Lia is also entitled to 2-4 stories depending on her behavior before bedtime. She likes to lay her head on my chest as I read the stories she has chosen for the night (noticing that she is smart enough to TRY and pick the 65 page small type children’s story books) but quickly divert to the shorter stories that are far more entertaining. It is a special time for me especially because it’s almost like this aura surrounds us in our own little storybook world and the bond that grows between us is palpable. Time slows down those few minutes after the stories are over as I tuck her in and kiss her forehead and pray that God watches over her. It’s those precious moments that I think of when she is not around as I pass her empty room or pick up a toy or drawing up off the floor that play back in and my mind and are forever burned into my memories of our time together.

Happy Valentine’s Day my sweetie, Daddy loves you.

Party Rock

Two words “party rock”, or as Lia likes to refer to it as “the everyday I’m shuffling” song. She not only loves the song, but is obsessed with the video. I think she has seen it over a dozen times, and probably didn’t even blink the entire time. These are not the typical songs we play for her, but it is a fun song. Of course in my mind I’m already fast forwarding to her teenage years when I have lost contact with the hip songs and asking “what in God’s name are you listening to?”, just as my father did with me.

At times seeing Lia grow can be double edged sword. On one hand it’s really entertaining and fun to see her so excited and dancing around, yet it’s hard to accept that she is growing up and won’t be this age forever. The other day while shopping with Cassondra at DSW shoes, Lia and I decided to wonder off and look around. Before I knew it Lia pis utting on high heels and then grabbing a purse off the hanger and prancing around like a fashion model. This continued on for several minutes as I sat quietly and recorded clips and a few snapshots to capture this precious moment. Thankfully, she still has several more years of being my sweet little angel before having to enforce dress code and curfews. Until then, I have been and will continue to enjoy every minute together.

This has to be the cutest sad little lioness photo ever. We were shopping at Kirkland’s when we came across a stand full of these animal beanies. As cute as she looked in it, she wanted no part in wearing them but was a good sport, put one on for us and allowed us to take one picture. However, she warmed up to it as we all put one on with Cassondra as an Owl, papa as a frog and me as a bear. We probably looked and acted like a lost tribe of Noah’s Ark misfits goofing off, having fun and laughing at our own silliness. Were people watching? Absolutely… Did we care? Not even the slightest. Lia is a very expressive child when she is comfortable in her surroundings, so we encourage her to be herself and interact with us in public as much as possible to help with her shyness. I know most kids are shy at her age and depending on situation it varies, but we truly encourage her to take the first step in introductions and interacting with kids and adults alike. It seems to be working, as her courage and initiative in meeting new people is starting to show, and we couldn’t be happier.

“I’m no scribble scrabbler!”

In pre-k being a scribble scrabbler is not something you want to be labeled as according to my findings. Don’t even think of calling Liana a scribble scrabbler, because she will adamantly deny any such allegations. However, she will narc on her fellow school mates naming the guilty scribble scrabblers like they had the bubonic plague. For those who don’t know, a scribble scrabbler is one who can’t color “correctly”, or doesn’t stay inside lines. A scribble scrabbler often grabs a crayon as they would a ski pole and relentlessly scribbles in and out of lines violently as to show disgust in partaking in a such a juvenile activity. Of course this is not their intention, but their finished “masterpiece” will say otherwise. Thank God bumper stickers haven’t appeared yet calling out scribble scrabblers because if those said toddlers could read, they’d be pissed.

Lia has had this Power Wheels Ford Mustang I gotten on sale at about the time she started walking. ( This gives you and idea on just how good of a sale it was). So the mustang sat gathering dust for well over a year and a half until she could actually reach the gas pedal. Fast forward to today I can’t tell you how many miles she has racked up on her fancy car. Often times Lia has her baby, Barbie, teddy bear or other toy snuggly buckled in next to her. What I find particularly interesting is when she pulls up next to the house and drops her baby or toy off at “daycare” (window ledge of front bay window) then gets back into her car and drives around for the next several minutes without stopping. In her mind she seems to think that when we drop her off at school, we get back into our car and drive around for hours until its time to pick her up.

During our move from our last place I seemed to have misplaced the charger to her mustang battery. We normally just ask our neighbor to have it for us since they also have a Power Wheels. This last time she was out in the car zipping around the car started to slow down due to the battery winding down. However, this time Lia asked that since the battery is dying could she get a new car, a pink one. Although she already knew that we recharge the battery and it will run fast again, she was thinking instead of wasting time recharging, we should just get a brand new one for her. Listening to her makes me smile…cautiously, knowing had presented similar arguments/justifications to my parents MANY times in the past.

Summer of Swim

Summertime was upon us again which meant one solid month long and highly anticipated time with Lia. We tried to pack as much needed rest, relaxation and fun into our time as possible. Of course since both Cassondra and I work during the week, we needed to enroll you into a summer school program that offered summer time fun. We found a local place that had not 1 but 2 indoor swimming pools AND enrolled you in personal swim lessons. You were on cloud nine during those 3 weeks and not only that you learned to actually have fun swimming rather than being afraid to venture off and try new things. Within 1 week you were already jumping off the side of the pool and holding your breath under water.

With swimming being your new found favorite past time, it seemed it was serendipitous to have my mom (Grammy) install a new full size pool and cabana at her house. This translated into a 2 day sleepover with countless hours of swimming, fun, laughter and quality time with your grandparents. To be honest, I was shocked that you let me out of your site for that long. I was almost positive that we would have to come pick you up from there because I know how much you really love your daddy. 🙂 Of course that love is quickly traded in for an all access pool extravaganza at your disposal. Those 2 days meant so much to Grammy, and she will always treasure them in her heart. Unfortunately for her, she always felt that she never really got to spend some real quality time with you, but we are quickly making up for that now and building a strong bond with her and papa Ed. What’s funny is sometimes when they come over to visit or we head out there it’s like those old movie scenes where 2 people are running towards each other in slow motion, only to have you pass up Grammy to take comfort in papa Ed’s arms. Of course you run back over to Grammy to share the love, but must admit it’s fun to watch.

I’ve been meaning to write about some of your most recent sayings down that have made us laugh, smile and thoroughly enjoy because kid really do say the darnedest things.

“I can put my ears behind my back” – referring to being able to tuck her hair behind her ears.

“I don’t know anything about anything” – in regards to papa asking you a question.

“Look, that airplane’s flying a note” – Pointing to an airplane in the sky toting a banner behind it.

“When you were sick daddy did you throw up? – after telling her why I wasn’t able to pick her up because of being ill.

Lia: “Daddy, I want Chick-Fil-A.”
Me: “Ok, but they have Smurf toys at McDonald’s”
Lia: “Daddy, I want Mcdonald’s”

All in all, the summer of Lia 2011 was a huge success and can’t wait until next year’s summer vacation.

Lianica Patrick

A few weeks ago after dinner one night, we passed a go-cart place on the way home. I had to process the idea of Lia riding in the go-cart with me and how safe it was and if they even allowed it. So I did a u-turn to get the answers to these unsolved questions. When I walked in while Cassondra, my father and Lia sat in the car anticipating a “yeah, she’s too young” answer, I found standing behind the counter 2 of the most hillbilly people and thought to myself these guys mothers probably gave birth to them while driving a go-cart. Sure enough, Lia was a go as long as she rode with me. Of course I had to stop from laughing when they told me that like her driving alone was even an option.

Getting back to the car with the good news we all trekked in, got our tickets and prepared ourselves for some good old go-cart racing fun. Of course I was prepared to take Lia back after one lap if she didn’t like it, boy was I mistaken. From the moment we got the green light to go to the time we pulled back in after our time was up Lia was grinning ear to ear as if she was bred for speed, like her father. Not only did she enjoy every twist and turn, but she exclaimed “FASTER” on the straightaway when I already had the pedal mashed to the floor and thought to myself, I’ve created a monster.

We each took turns taking Lia on a ride as my father watched with great joy from the bleachers. He felt that this was something we wanted to witness rather than partake in as he laughed, smiled and waved with Lia waving back each and every time we made a lap past him. Cassondra then had the chance to take her as I rode side by side jockeying for position for the perfect picture of Lia to capture her exuberant thrill on camera. Unfortunately, each picture taken was blurry since we relied on camera phones, but the memory and story lives on as Lia brought up go-carting for the next several days after dinner like it was some kind of after dinner dessert.

Project Hello Kitty

Project Hello Kitty was the given name to the operation of changing Lia’s room into Hello Kittyland. It was conceived and planned over the course of 2 months with the targeted 2 week window of May in which I did not have her for 2 straight weekends. It all began with a little imagination and several hours of researching what was and wasn’t available as far as Hello Kitty products and furniture. To my surprise, there wasn’t much considering it has a cult-like following and over a quarter billion Asian girls and women who wear Hello Kitty products daily.

Setting the budget was of course the hardest for me considering I wanted her room to look like it was done by a professional considering how much effort I wanted to put towards the room. Lia has never played much in her room and we felt it was due to lack of kid decor, although it to us was inviting and served it’s purpose, but it still lacked creative vision and that warm and fuzzy feeling it was certainly due. We set a budget of 300.00 and quickly found out that it was going to go fast considering the the paint required so we improvised by selling a few things via craigslist to supplement the budget accordingly.

When I first envisioned her room, I wanted more than the typical “pink” wall treatment, so I played with a couple of ideas until I decided on vertical pink and white stripes. Of course her room to begin with was a light shade of brown so the entire room needed exactly 2 coats of white paint. Now, for thse of you who have never attempted vertical stripes pay close attention “DON’T DO THEM!” Actually it wasn’t that bad, but did involve a great deal of planning, execution and most of all attention to detail, because the slightest mishap and you have one stripe thicker than the other. On paper it’s simple, just tape off and paint. What you don’t consider when taping off is the 2 inches of masking tape needs to be figured in every next stripe you paint. Sure, I know what you might be thinking… but trust me it took me, my father and Cassondra several times of assured measuring and retaping before the bristles hit the wall. A couple of times had we not remeasured would have cost us to have 2 pink or white stripes meeting together at the end of the room. Fortunately for us, that wasn’t a problem. With a little Autocad floor diagramming, I figured each stripe would need to be 13 7/8″ width to ensure a perfect match throughout the room, and it matched up perfectly.

The first week of Project Hello Kitty was designated to completing the painting, while week 2 would focus on the decorating of the room. As mentioned above, the painting was a little more involved than I had imagined but it was well worth it when we finished, although when the room was complete I felt her room had a Victoria Secrets box look to it, but I knew the artwork and decor would quickly diminish that look and would blend into the background perfectly.

We finished up week one with painting her closet and entry way door along with painting her fan blades pink to offset the white fan. Once week 2 began, I realized exactly just how much work needed to get done in just a short amount of time. I knew during my research that Hello Kitty didn’t make any type of furniture, so I knew I would have to get crafty by “making” our own. I also quickly found that I needed to roll up my graphic design sleeves and get really creative with her wall decor since there was literally nothing on the market for that as well. I began by talking to my father with what I had envisioned and getting him involved with making custom canvas frames for the completed artwork I had comped up. He went to Home Depot and bought all the wood necessary based on my artwork spacing and measurements. I chose to do multi-canvas artwork to give her room an avant garde appeal since I gravitate towards that in daily work.

I then began calling in favors to my sign company friend who printed each piece accordingly on banner material in which needed to be cut, stretched and stapled to my father’s custom canvas frames. This entire process was truly a great bonding experience with my father as we volleyed witty banter back and forth as we hurried to get the canvases done so we could focus on the furniture. With 2 days left before Project Hello Kitty was initiated, time began to be of the essence. I combed craigslist for furniture I could easily Hello Kittify, but had limited success until I found a 250.00 regularly priced Ikea kids bed for only 80.00 and that set the wheels in motion and set the tone for the rest of the mission. I quickly perused the Ikea site for matching furniture, but found only a few things that looked to “toddlerish” to be Hello Kitty furniture so I got creative with a few different cabinets and drawers as well as a table and chairs. The rest of the graphics were selected and printed as vinyl stickers for me to apply to each piece of furniture. This of course was “comped” in Photoshop to make sure I knew exactly how everything was going to look before anything was printed, purchased or applied.

Down to the last few hours before we picked up Lia and we got her furniture cleaned or assembled along with the graphics and it literally came down to the final 10 minutes before we completely finished. Project Hello Kitty was a huge success thanks to my father and my fiancé Cassondra, not to mention I was mentally and physically drained but knew the best was yet to come, the final reveal.

I had told Lia the day before that we had a surprise for her and she spent the next 2 hours trying to guess what it was. We of course gave her clues, but nothing could have prepared her imagination for what was yet to come. So with Friday finally upon us, she was at her mothers door waiting for me to pick her up with so much anticipation I could almost feel it from the street as I got out of the car. We quickly rushed home and made sure the camera was charged as ready to film as moments like these can;t be captured a second time. When Lia got to the top of the stairs she could see her bedroom door was closed, but something was very different… it was solid pink. She started getting excited and the only way I can describe what happened as she opened the door was when Willy Wonka from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened the door for Charlie and the other kids to reveal a chocolate candy land seemed to be the shock and awe excitement Lia displayed. She even had to ask if this was her room after saying hello Kitty over 10 times.

She raced to each part of the room to touch every object that was Hello Kittied out and opened every drawer, cabinet, and closet to make sure she didn’t miss a thing. I almost think her mind couldn’t comprehend what had happened to her room. There was so much to take in and with the smile on her face as she scoped the room, a sense of relief and jubilee surged through my body. It was worth every cent, hour and drop of sweat that went into it and if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. What topped the reveal off superbly was while Lia was admiring her Hello Kitty bedsheets, she looked at us and asked when does she get to go to bed. Anyone with children know kids NEVER ask when it’s time for bed, and if they did they knew they should probably go see a doctor or check to see if they hit their head. In all seriousness, Project Hello Kitty was a complete success and not only did Lia want to go to bed, she feel asleep in a record time of 8 minutes. Of course she could have been extremely tired, but I’m sure a Hello Kittied room helped out a little.

On a side note, this was done to a rental house to which we do not even own which sounds silly… but it’s amazing to think of the silly things you will do for the one’s you love. I hope it was everything you wanted and more my precious Liana, I love you. Special thanks goes out to Cassondra, My Father, Kenneth, Gary and Terri for your help and support, without you, none of this would have been possible. Thanks for making it special for my little girl.