At First Glance

imageI stepped out of my car, scoping out the area to make sure my surroundings was perfect and well secure for our first rendezvous. I must say, it was a beautiful Saturday. The weather was perfect, the sun was shining and there was a cool breeze  being felt from the east. The Fort Lauderdale river was calm as boaters made their way around slowly almost in a lazy formation along the river. People strolled by holding hands while others were taking pictures of the scenic views. I was nervous, it’s been almost two decades since I’ve been out on a date. Even though we have been speaking to each other consistently over the phone these past few days the feeling of “butterflies” in the pit of my stomach was all too real. I did not want to be disappointed and I did not want to disappoint him. I wanted to let things be with no expectation of where this first encounter will take us. I was not expecting for this moment to later be a very important moment in both of our lives. I was not expecting to meet my future on that Saturday, along the river that afternoon.

The bronze color SUV pulled up at the round-about as we slowly made eye contact almost confirming our meeting with each other. Dean had already describe his vehicle to me so I knew what car to watch out for. I was standing near one of the park benches as I watched Dean get out of his car and started taking his first steps towards me. Steps that would lead to many dates, many happy moments, steps that would lead to him getting down on one knee and making promises to always walk along side me. We shared our first smile that afternoon and embraced one another. Almost automatically, his hug felt safe, his well physic arms gave me a sense of security. As of this moment, I only saw pictures of Dean and seeing him in person was definitely a breath of fresh air. He was smaller than how he appeared in those pictures, standing about six feet, his dark smooth complexion complemented his salt and pepper hair. I was attracted at first glance and my body was definitely releasing massive amounts of dopamine. His smile had my attention and I wanted to know more, I wanted to learn more – about him. We did, we sat on one of those benches and we talked for hours. We allowed our mood and the natural flow of one topic to lead us to another topic. We held hands as he walked me to my car and ended our date. This was a good start, a start to what I would later know to be my forever…

Delicioso

 

My husband and I frequent many restaurants. Yes, we are big on eating good food! We are not only intrigued with the satisfaction of our palettes but we love a great ambiance and a restaurant that is pleasing to the eye. We have visited countless restaurants throughout where we live and as we travel. We have a special love for those rustic, feel-good restaurants with a surprise once we enter through their doors. We also have a love for eclectic, breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean or the bay areas in sunny South Florida. And honestly, I don’t know who wouldn’t want to explore such an experience while using all five senses.

Via Verde Cucina Rustica restaurant definitely fits into that charming, fun and old-school feel. Via Verde Cucina Rustica is located in the Upper Eastside Neighborhood in Miami, nestled at the end of a residential block. What makes this restaurant so unique is that I grew up on the same street and that same restaurant used to be a small convenience store in the late 80’s. Some structural features were kept in the remodeling process such as the entry steps to the restaurant, original terrazzo floor and the side concrete beams – these took me back to being 10 years old again as I would often visit with a quarter in hand for a box candy.

My husband and I have lunch there as often as we can but one thing for sure the food is always so delicious, well portioned and cheap. The traditional Italian dishes ranges from breaded chicken breast to pastas to the tropical cocktails in mason jars. Our bill for two lunch meals and drinks are usually less than $30!! Via Verde Cucina Rustica is definitely a great place to eat while catching up with old friends or just having a few laughs with the people who mean the most.

Loving a nine year old boy

imageWho can’t love a 9 year old kid. It seems simple right? How do you love a kid who may not love you? These are things that parents in blended families go through. In my case, it’s a 9 old boy.

There are so many questions that go through our mind. Is he ok with you showing affection? Will he accept my discipline? Does he even like me? Is he mad at me because I’m with his mother now? And the one huge question that strikes fear into us as a stepparent, will he say those four words…”You’re not my father/mother?” Let’s elaborate on the last question a little more.

Where did those words come? How did they gain so much power? Well the truth is, I gave those words power. I’d given those words power from my previous relationships. I genuinely cared for the children of the women that I dated long enough to build relationships. To this day, my oldest which isn’t biologically mine calls me daddy and she’s 26. I helped raise her since she was one. Let me stop before I start reminiscing about the first day I met her. Anyway, I felt somehow, that those words would never allow me to live up to the fathers that they knew. A good or bad father, most kids only see one thing, their father.

But this was a new relationship. I had a new, stronger relationship with God which allowed me to enter into a strong relationship with my now wife to nurture this kid into a young man. My wife had a strong relationship with God too. She allowed God to work through her. Unbeknownst to her did she even realized that God gave me her to help me overcome that fear. He had been working through her since I met our children. God gave me her and she took the power away from those words. She took the power away by saying to our children, “Dean is not y’all father.”

Believe it or not, we’ve been together a little over two years and she has used that phrase at least six times. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that it hit me. Those words became powerless. With any fear, you face it, be it alone or with someone. She helped me with that fear. I had it in my head that those words would mess with my parenting. I would be afraid to discipline him. I would overcompensate by trying to make him like me. I’m thankful that I never had to do either and that my little 9 year old never used those words. I’m thankful that the woman placed in my life is the woman I’ve been seeking.

The relationship between my son and I has been growing even more. We did hit a rough patch but I continued to allow God to work through me to give love the way He gives love. He lays on his pillow (my stomach) and watches SpongeBob, sports (which he is just learning and is a quick learner), and other shows. He grabs my hand when we are out. He asks me one thousand and one questions which to me is a compliment. He trusts my answer and believes that I have knowledge. He truly is an amazing smart young man.

So, to those in a blended relationship/marriage, face whatever fear it is together. Know that God is working through both you and your spouse/partner. To those wondering how to love a nine year old, love them the way God loves you, unconditionally, fearless, wholeheartedly, and through honest and fair discipline. I have to go now, the nine year old has his 1002nd question for me. #BEBLESS #BELOVE

(Written: by my husband Dean)

My computer love

Placeholder ImageA few weeks ago, while having a very intimate dinner with about 20 of our close friends and family, my husband revealed that we met through an online dating site. The shock of how we met struck just about everyone at the table, well except for one of my close friend who actually introduced and encouraged me to online dating.

Almost automatically the astonishment responses came, followed by questions that traveled from across the table, “which online site?”, “where did you two go for your first date?”, “were you scared?”… My husband sat next to me smiling and laughing as he reminisced on the moments that made our relationship so special. I on the other hand was a little resistant to share, trying to smile through the uncomfortable feeling. I did not make any eye contact, I was afraid of being judged or even criticized. I did not want the opinions or thoughts of others because honestly it did not matter at this point of our relationship – we met online, we dated and we got married. And to be frank, no one really had “that” conversation with me and asked me, “so how did you two meet”?

Needless to say, that was an awkward moment for me until I realized it was my own way of thinking. I was the one being judgmental about online dating. I realized how online dating provided me with the option to choose from a panel of men who I felt were most compatible to my needs. I am truly thankful that I found the love of my life through this non-traditional source. I am grateful that my own opinions about online dating did not stop me from “meeting” my future husband. Those humble reflections allowed my walls to come down and share the smiles and laughs with my husband. I became engaged in the “how did you meet” conversation and realized our guests were very intrigued with our story.

When I first decided to sign-up to one of the dating site it was for pure entertainment – no commitments, to hold adult conversations, and to see if I still got “it”. Well, I definitely still had it and I believe I made good connections because I had no initial expectations from these men. I was online for about two weeks but my husband was more of a seasoned online dater, he saw the good, the bad and definitely the ugly (I was his best…lol). Maybe, I can convince him to write a blog one day, illustrating different tips on how to get the best results while dating online. I would encourage anyone to try online dating, it’s no different from meeting a stranger at your local grocery store. Online dating does have its challenges (just watch the show “catfish”) but it definitely has its rewards like your chance of finding your forever. #BEBLESS #BELOVE