The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: lessons learned from a three year old

En Español abajo!

IankarloOur son, Ian Karlo is turning three today. He is such a happy little rascal  and growing up to be a big boy.  I have been lucky to be around him more than I did with Karymar during her first years due to my job. The time spent together has taught me some valuable lessons that I intent to apply in my daily life.

Ian’s typical day starts waking up in such a happy mood.  We  seldom realize when he is up until we hear him talking in his room. We open the door and there he is, beaming at us with his big noble smile. Nothing seems to bother him. He is happy and ready to play.  Lesson#1: every day is a new day of fun and play. Enjoy life, like a child does.

However, breakfast is everyday morning battle. Ian Karlo doesn’t want his cereal, he demands his milk.  He can be as swift as any martial artist evading the spoon but when it comes to his milk he is as docile as a teddy bear. We had to be very patient around breakfast time with him. Over time, we have come to many ways to persuade him to eat other foods with songs, dancing and down right negotiating.  Lesson#2: be flexible but be persistent.

Our little man has a growing curiosity about how things work, particularly anything that turns or rotates. He loves to watch how a ceiling fan rotates. In fact, any fan will get his immediate attention. He flips his stroller up side down to spin its wheels.  Toy car tires are his specialty; he just loves to remove the tires rendering the toy partly disabled. He then comes to show me that his car is broken and demands that I repair it. He accepts no replacements nor cares less about any rational explanation about why they toy is broken. He only stops nagging once the toy car was back in one piece.  He is growing up to be a man demanding only results, albeit childish ones. Lesson#3: be curious about life and demand only results (real ones).

My big boy loves motorcycles. Any motorcycle on the road is Papi’s motorcycle but his big thing is cars, cars, and more cars.  I am talking particularly about Cars, the movie.  The little man wakes up every morning and aside from calling out to “el abanico” (the fan) , he calls out for his “ipap” (iPad). He knows how to work the iPad better than we do, switching from Cars movie to another and even selecting an app he likes. This goes on and on all day. He has a huge collection of cars, motorcycles and trucks. He doesn’t go anywhere without a handful of cars and his “ipap”. Fact: children handle technology better than most adults. It’s like second nature to them.


We celebrated his birthday with his favorite theme “Cars”913039_10151423378346799_2031776107_n

and I prepared a little slideshow to enjoy and remember. We love you Ian Karlo, happy birthday!

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Nuestro hijo, Ian Karlo cumple tres años hoy. Él es un niño feliz y travieso. He tenido la suerte de estar cerca de él más de lo que pude estar con Karymar durante sus primeros años debido a mi trabajo. El tiempo que pasamos juntos me ha enseñado algunas lecciones valiosas que tengo intención de aplicar en mi vida diaria.

Un dia típico para Ian Karlo comienza al despertar de buen humor. Rara la vez que nos damos cuenta cuando el esta despierto hasta que lo oímos hablar en su cuarto. Abrimos la puerta y ahí está él, sonriendo a nosotros con una gran sonrisa noble. Nada parece molestarle. Él es feliz y esta listo para jugar. Lección # 1: cada día es un nuevo día de diversión y juego. Disfruta de la vida, como un  lo hace un niño.

Sin embargo el desayuno es la batalla de todos los días. Ian Karlo no quiere que su cereal, el exige su leche. Él puede ser tan rápido como cualquier artista marcial evadiendo la cuchara, pero cuando se trata de su leche es tan dócil como un oso de peluche. Tuvimos que tener mucha paciencia a la hora del desayuno con él. Con el tiempo, hemos llegado a muchas maneras de persuadirle a comer otros alimentos con canciones, bailes y directamente a la negociación. Lección # 2: se flexible, pero se persistente.

Nuestro hombrecito tiene una curiosidad acerca de cómo funcionan las cosas, especialmente todo lo que gira o rota. Le encanta ver cómo un abanico de techo gira. De hecho, cualquier abanico tiene su atención inmediata. Él vira su coche de bebe al revés para hacer girar sus ruedas. Las gomas de sus carritos de juguete son su especialidad. Simplemente le encanta quitarle las gomas dejando el juguete parcialmente inservible. Luego viene donde mí para enseñarme su carrito de juguete roto y me pide que lo arregle. Él no acepta sustitutos ni se preocupa menos de una explicación racional de por qué el juguete se rompio. Él sólo para de insistir una vez que su carrito de juguete esta reparado en su totalidad. Mi niño está creciendo para ser un hombre que exige sólo los resultados, aunque sean infantiles. Lección # 3: siente curiosidad por la vida y demanda resultados (los de verdad).

Mi niño grande ama las motoras. Cualquier motora en la carretera es la motora de Papi, pero lo de el es carros, carros y mas carros. Me refiero en particular acerca de Cars, la película. El bandido se despierta cada mañana y aparte de señalar el abanico , pide por su “ipap” (iPad). Él sabe cómo funciona el iPad mejor que nosotros, cambiando la película Cars por otra de Cars e incluso seleccionar una aplicación que le gusta. Esto sigue y sigue durante todo el día. Él tiene una gran colección de carritos, motoras y camiones. Él no va a ninguna parte sin sus carritos ni su “ipap”. Hecho: Los niños saben  manejar mejor  la tecnologia que la mayoría de adultos. Es como una accion instintiva para ellos.

Celebramos su compleaños con el tema de “Cars” y prepare una presentacion para disfrutar y recordar. Te amammos Ian Karlo, feliz cumpleaños!


The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: Dos años

April 16 2012 marked the second birthday of our son, Ian Karlo. Dos añitos!  Our baby is still a baby to us. We love his smile, his noble eyes and everything else about him. Up to this date, Ian Karlo does all the things a child of his age do: he likes to run not walk, grab anything he can get a hold on claiming is his and then throws them around like a boss. He graduated from his safe start swimming classes and loves and I mean loves the water. He absolutely loves cars and motorcycles too making me a proud Dad. He rides around the house on his Harley Davidson motorcycle and know where to turn the bike on and off. He flips everything that has wheels upside down to see the wheels turn. His vocabulary has expanded since the ear tubes. His words of choice are: “eche” for milk in Spanish, vroom-vroom every time he plays with his cars or  making sounds like a truck when he plays with his Tonka truck. He says nite-nite, oh-oh, bye-bye, “aimar” to call his sister Karymar, “aqui” for here in Spanish, “a comer” to eat and pretty much repeats everything you say to him. He melts me down everything he calls me ” Papi” with a long “Paaaapiiii”. He likes to draw too with his two hands and at the same time.He is also another resident on duty letting us, Mom and Dad, know how important he and his big sister are in our lives.  We had a little “Sponge-Bob” theme birthday celebration at our house with family and friends. Now he is getting into the so-called “terrible two’s”  but we are not worried. We know he’ll do it his way and under the watchful eye of his big sister, he will be okay.

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The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: Safe Start

Ian Karlo recently graduated from his first swimming class program, offered by the local YMCA. The Safe Start  is a 10- minute per day, 8-week long program aiming to introduce the child to the water, teach him how to turn over and float safely in case of accidentally falling in a pool. Since the beginning, my boy Ian was not a happy camper. He hated the water. Soon as he saw his teacher Noreen, he cried until his face was red with fury.  He knew somehow what was coming. For us it was heart breaking watching him treading water but we knew it is a necessary measure for his safety. We did the same with Karymar when she was just 6 months old. As she grew older , we saw a significant change in her confidence and behavior. We wanted the same for Ian but we had to delay his start on the program well after his first birthday.  It  took him 12 weeks to float and turn in the water but we saw the change in his behavior after the first 8 weeks. He was more  outgoing and taking more risks. We were glad that we did it and so happy to see him turning over and float as soon he hits the water. Now, he loves the water.

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The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: El Caminante

My boy is eighteen months old. How time flies. It seems that I looked away for a split second as my son started to walk and now it’s like catch me, if you can. I remember him fast crawling towards me, a big smile in his face. Then he stopped and slowly stood up, taking a couple of baby steps closer. He did this more often on his own, taking bigger, happier steps. One day, he just took off and never looked back. These days, you will find him everywhere around the house. He is all over the place; the bedrooms, the kitchen and even the bathroom. Yes, toilet paper can go a long way and he even likes to test the quality of the paper. We are lucky to get the paper out of his mouth without getting bitten with his hatchet like teeth.

On another note, he has some traits from me. Ian Karlo is a natural inspector. He likes to inspect things around the house like his father does. He opens drawers, close the doors, flips things up to see how the wheels work and grabs anything he can get his little hands around to. I had to take safety precautions, closing all the doors, especially the bathroom door,  leaving the livingroom and the hallway as his playgrounds. He is fascinated every time he flips the light switch in his room and he let’s you know his amazement with his hight pitched yell. It has become his signature when he is happy.

He now knows how to climb up the sofa to play with his favorite picture frame in his favorite corner. That’s his favorite place to drink his milk with his red pillow. He also know how to turn around to climb down feet first.  He give us this “I can do This” grin while we look at him amazed with his abilities.

At the time of eating Ian Karlo can deflect the spoon away from him with martial arts ability and try   to grab him while he is on the floor, his element. He  will make you think that he is there when he is not. It is a challenge too.

He is a happy toddler with lots of energy and a noble smile that melts me away. He  starts to show his character and I know we got our hands full with our children. Ian Karlo looks up to his big sister Karymar and she loves him and protects him. She is a great helper when it’s time to change Ian’s diaper. He doesn’t appreciate the idea of stopping when there is so much to walk about. His sister sings him songs that cheer him up while I do my job to keep my boy clean. Blessed my little girl.

Ian Karlo is el caminante, the walker, like his father. I remember my Mom calling me ” el caminante” because I was always moving, going like there was not tomorrow.  When I pick up Ian Karlo from the floor, he fights and complains. He wants to walk, wants to check this place out, open this drawer, grab that thing and if it looks good, taste it too. My mom says it is just like me. I never wanted to stop or slow down because there is so much to see , so much to experience that I didn’t want to miss a thing.  Now I look at my son, el caminante,  and see  a much of me in him. I will enjoy every moment watching my boy growing up to be whatever he wants to be.


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The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: 1st. Birthday

Our baby Ian Karlo turns one year young. His first birthday, his numero uno of many more to come.   I  remember so vividly the day he was born;  the way he looked at us, the smell of his skin and the look in his eyes. I remember how excited was Karymar when she held her little brother. To this date that excitement has never faded away. She loves her brother, loves to read him stories, plays  and hugs him every time she has the opportunity day and night. She does get mad at him when he disturbs her pillow castle or her art work but she knows he’s little and that she must teach him and treat him well.   I thank God for  his wisdom for blessing us with children  at the right time. It is a wonderful thing to see Karymar taking care of her little brother; it was meant to be that way, no matter how much we tried to have them other way. It teaches us to love them as unique people of this family.

Ian Karlo has grown to be a big boy,  crawling fast, standing on his own, rushing to take little steps. Soon he will be walking and talking more. All in due time; no rush or pressure as we want to enjoy every stage of his growth. He started to show some of his character too…I wonder where he got that from 😉 We celebrated his birthday at Disney’s Magic Kingdom where he got his first hair cut at the barber shop. Now he looks  more like his daddy and with traces of his mother of course.

I remember writing his first chronicle at the hospital and recording his progress  over time in this blog.  I want him to know a little background of his life, something to remember forever.   I can’t wait for him to read it back to us when he is older. That will be another chapter for sure;  cherished moments living life as a family together, the way God has it planned for us.

Click on Ian Karlo’s picture to see more…

The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: caring ears

Ian Karlo is 9 months old; he is healthy, happy twenty pound baby curious for  everything he can get his hands and mouth around. He’s being growing steadily, now crawling forward and even standing on his own in his crib. No major issues, thanks God, though a series of ear infections prompted the doctor to recommend ear tubes to clear his ear drums from any fluids.

At 5:00 AM,  we woke up to prepare to take him for his procedure. Around six in the morning we arrived to the Walt Disney pavilion at the Florida hospital for children.  The Walt Disney Pavilion is a state of the art, newest addition to the Florida Hospital in Orlando. It is beautiful; like being transported to one of Disney parks. There’s a playing area look like a forest where kids can play under the watchful eye of Baloo the lazy bear from the jungle book story or go to an underwater cave where Nemo lives with other sea creatures. There is a big screen where kids and parents can watch movies and at the same time forget where they were at the moment. It certainly does not feel like the hospital feel one is accustom to.

Immediately Ian Karlo was admitted and on time he was prepared for surgery. The care at the Florida hospital for children is outstanding. Inside the pediatric surgery, we were taken to a private room where we could be together while Ian Karlo’s medicine kicked in. He was feeling droopy his head bobbing, eyes fluttering dreamily. He was babbling things while observing everything around him like ” Papi where am I? and why am I feeling sooooooo…. groovy?”

He was taken inside the surgery room still awake but docile like a sleeping puppy.   In less than 10 minutes, he was out to the recovery room. It was that fast!  In the meantime while waiting until he recovered from the anesthesia, I took the time to get lost around the hospital observing and taking it all in. Everywhere I walked, I felt in harmony with everyone and everything I came across. I stopped by the chapel and spent some time there in silence being grateful that everything went well. I am very thankful for being aware of these moments despite of the external circumstances. We appreciate the attention and caring of the nurses and doctors at the Walt Disney Pavilion. I am sure Mickey Mouse will be proud of the care and attention we experienced this day. We didn’t feel like just a number and every question was answer without hesitation. I have nothing but praise about the level of professionalism and care Ian Karlo received at the hospital.  He was calm and happy throughout the entire procedure and thus so were we.

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The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: The Rite of Baptism

Ian Karlo was baptized on Saturday December 18 in a small ceremony at the St. Francis Catholic church in Apopka, Florida. The rite of baptism or christening is a sacrament of Jesus Christ, a tradition in the Roman Catholic Church. For Catholics having our children baptized means the removal of the original sin, making the child one of God’s children and a member of the Catholic Church. It is an acknowledgement and commitment for parents and godparents to accept the responsibility to train our children in the practice of faith, to watch over the child’s spiritual growth to lead a good Christian life. The rite of Baptism involves different stages as part of the initiation before the child becomes part of the Catholic Church. We dressed Ian Karlo in a white gown to symbolize purity, a clean life, the innocence of a child. The Priest starts the ceremony by asking the parents and godparents to accept the responsibility of having the child baptized. He presents the cross as a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus’ death to clear the sins of mankind. Ian Karlo was anointed with oil symbolizing the Holy Spirit. We then moved to the baptismal fountain where Ian Karlo’s received the holy water as a symbol of a new life in Jesus Christ. Then at the end of the ceremony is the passing of a lighted candle. Light is a symbol of Christian life, meaning that faith is present. The entire ritual lasted about an hour. I have been in many baptisms before and each church has its own version of the rite. What is important about the Rite of Baptism is how we take the ritual and its symbols into Christian faith for the rest of our lives. We have the responsibility for the sake of our children’s spiritual growth as well as our own faith and desire to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ.

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The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: crawling and teething

Ian Karlo is learning to crawl…backwards. We like to encourage him to crawl every day to practice for his first activity next January, participating in the diaper dash category at the Disney’s kid fest. Laying on a mat on all fours, he starts to buck like a wild pony. Then he makes his move backwards away from where we wanted him to go. He gets more confused by all the calling and yelling around him trying to get his attention. He just smiles at us; his first tooth peeking out looking like a tiny grain of rice. After practice, it’s time for his exersaucer play center which it is his favorite pastime. As soon as he is put on it, he immediately starts to bounce and hard. Every morning around 5:30- 6:00 AM and after his first bottle of baby java, Ian Karlo is put on his exersaucer and everyone knows it is time to wake up. The sound made by his constant up and down on the stationary stand reverberates all over the house. Yet nobody seems to be bother by it not even his signature high pitch yells. It’s a sweet sound we all can get used to in this house. These sounds are taken to yet another level when Ian Karlo is joined by his sister who orchestrates songs teaching his little brother how to talk.

Karymar is now reading. She recently picked up a book by Dr. Seuss and started to read. We were amazed when we heard our daughter reading page by page with remarkable ease. I never liked Dr. Seuss nor understood his books until now. They’re perfect for a child who is starting to read. What a genius! I am thoroughly enjoying watching my children grow. I am constantly reminded of the little cues and hidden messages my children communicate to us. To me they’re God’s little case-workers; keeping us parents in check to make sure we care for what is important.

The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: through the eyes of my children


My Son just turned six months of age. Six months, eighteen pounds of chunky folds to eat to kisses later. He is a happy boy; never seem to fuzz about anything, adjusting to any type of environment even during his sleeping time. He is a trooper, like his big Sister able to “survive” in any situation. His sleep is never interrupted by outside noises, let alone being distress by anything that might occur to him unexpectedly. If he wakes up, he then joins you in whatever you’re doing blending with the environment so effortlessly that you won’t notice he is in the room until he starts with his now famous “cantatas” or singing. Ian Karlo is a morning person, the first one to wake up around 5:30 AM. Our natural “alarm clock”, he starts by cooing and grunting gradually escalating his babbling to a higher pitch like a wave sounding like a tenor preparing his vocals for a “cantata”. To me he sounds like the ebb and flow of the wave from a distance and then closer. Invariable Marie and I check on him and when I look at him on his crib, he is wide awake looking straight at me, recognizing me under the dim light and giving me the smile that I so love to see every morning when I wake up. Is a smile like no other; a noble smile and kind eyes that expresses what love is all about, pure, innocent love without judgment. He used to wake up much earlier than we like so we don’t mind at all his new wake up time. Soon after this morning greeting, a diaper change and his morning java follows on his schedule. While feeding him, rocking back and forth lazily on the rocking chair, I cuddle my boy very close to me and still drowsy with sleep, I enjoy his lovely baby scent. I wish I could bottle up his baby aroma forever. It is such a unique and wonderful experience. His muscles are undeveloped yet his grip is firm, his kicks hard and alive wanting to bounce up. I appreciate this wakefulness despite of being tired and sleepy watching Ian Karlo lazily sucking on his bottle, gazing everything around the room and then back at me with a smile, trickles of milk running down his cheeks. I see no worries not a despair or malice in his eyes but goodness and graciousness. I thank God for this. He never stop to show me how much he loves me and he sends his very best Angels to aid me when I seek his guidance. I see this truth thru the eyes of my children.

The early morning commotion soon gives way to Karymar to wake up with a “Buenos Dias” in her cheering voice. Marie and I know that It is already a good day. Life at the Guzman’s has been anything but ordinary during these past months. Karymar is five now and it seems that she grows larger by the second. When I look at her, I always see a twinkle in her eyes. God’s smiling again at me, saying “this is my message to you…don’t worry about a thing” just like the classic Bob Marley’s song. Don’t worry about a thing because what is important is standing right in front of me.

It’s amazing to watch my children grow. They go to bed and grow overnight blooming the next morning like a flower. Just this past six months I have seen my children specially my daughter becoming natural teachers and her little brother is following suit with the kindness best expressed in children. They don’t have to do anything or even think what to say when things happen. No, they just look at me right in the eye and let me know without saying a word that no matter the circumstances, they are my priority. God Bless them!

The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: reflecting fatherhood

It’s been more than a month since my son was born. Throughout this time, my wife and I have been witness of the changes of our growing baby; miracles of God’s creation unfolding right in front of our eyes, his body is getting stronger and fuller. During the day, he is aware of his surroundings and reacts accordingly to sounds around him, he tears up when crying which is a sign that his vision is developing.  He has a ferocious appetite; wherever we go we have to bring a cow in tow. Consequently, “The kitchen” no longer being able to keep up with his growing demand of mother’s milk has closed its doors completely and forever. The well of mother’s milk supply has gone dry and we have switched to formula to satisfy my boy’s increasing demand of milk. This creates additional work since now we have to prepare the formula, have the bottles sterilized and ready for the continuous feeding regiment my boy demands. My job of being the chief diaper changer has been modified with other titles such as master formula mixer and assistant bottle feeder first class. I am not fond about the latter since that includes overnight feeding rotations which I am not keen to perform since I find myself dozing off in the middle of the feeding just to be woken up by my boy’s smacking lips unaware of where the bottle went.

However the changes, our baby boy sleeps, eats and poops around the clock the way it should be. Karymar, the baby’s guardian is always on watch, making sure your hands are clean before you pick up the baby and that the “ring” of safety is secure around the baby. We are proud of her for being such an exceptional big sister. We celebrated Ian Karlo’s first month of life with a small cake at my parent’s house with the family. I thank God for all the blessings we have to this date.

Despite of all the changes, things are falling into routine around us. That is all, but our sleeping routine. Recently, we decided to take shifts during nights, each rotating every time the baby wakes up. This allows us to sleep at least for four to six hours each night which is a pretty good slumber. We also resumed going to church, presenting its new member to the community and even went on a road trip to Miami, his first of many.

The family along with my Mother in law, which I respectfully call her our “portable- sitter” spent the weekend in Miami.  I participated in a major seminar of the Russian martial art of Systema with Maxim Franz. We enjoyed two days striking, punching and kicking people, who like me, love Systema. It was a great seminar and although bruised and beaten, I enjoyed very much. This is one of the few arts, if any, where you can hit someone in the face or stomach and later shake hands and even laugh about it. I truly love this art; even Ian Karlo was there with his camouflage onesie watching Daddy have a lot of fun. The girls obviously not getting the gist of getting punched and kicked went shopping instead, taking my boy with them.

After the Miami road trip, I took a working-solo- retreat to the Florida’s Panhandle for a week, inspecting multi-family housing properties. I wanted to take time to work on my personal projects ; organizing my life’s priorities  and goals, getting clear with strategies and action plans for myself, my lifestyle and my businesses. Instead, I bummed along the clear waters and white sandy beaches of the “Redneck Riviera”.  I had no schedule, obligations nor curfew so I was free to roam around aimlessly. I started at a property in Tallahassee then Marianna, visited the Florida Caverns State Park where I was invaded by a nasty swarm of bloody mosquitoes and one mean super jug bug. They made sure my visit to the park’s trail was speedy and without stopping.  I could not stop even to take a picture. I was quickly surrounded by the swarm and that mean bug buzzing and hitting my head, prompting me to speed up my walk. I knew that I will have to add one essential item to my road trip bag of essentials, insect repellent. In other areas of the trail that were not mosquito infested, I was able to unwind in solitude and reflect on my life. From Marianna, I drove to Panama City where after my inspections, I found myself inspecting the beaches of the so called “Redneck Riviera”. The day was perfect; warm sunshine, clear and refreshing waters. I spread out on the sugar white sand, feeling the ebb and flow of the cool waves, surrendering to the elements, tuning out with the outside world. Time stood still, my mind calm in meditation as I absorbed the moment.  Later, I drove up to Pensacola and was once again captivated by the serenity of the waters and the beaches of the Gulf Coast.  Overall it was a 1,000 mile road trip living life with no schedule or timeframe, roaming free. I did nothing that I so carefully planned and organized and after all, it was o.k. Taking time for myself and reflection on the current changes in my life was all that I really needed, so I drove back home feeling at ease with the priorities in my life. When I came home late Friday night, I saw a change in my children that took me by surprise. My boy grew up a lot over the week as I saw him sleeping on his crib and when I went to pick up my daughter, who fell asleep on our bed waiting for me to arrive, I felt her heavier than the last time I held her and saw her limbs much longer. I don’t have a little baby girl anymore. What I saw is a little girl growing beautifully.

In concluding this chapter of Ian Karlo’s chronicles, I celebrated my 36th birthday this past weekend. As of today I look back to reflect on where I was a year ago and where I am today. I am grateful for all the blessings that I have received and for all the blessings I will receive. My life has changed in so many levels; my attitude towards life has improved since I made the irreversible step of becoming a better person, husband, father, friend, brother and son. I understand more my feelings, emotions and aware of my thoughts and what they say. What I look forward to as my birthday turns is to continue on getting to know myself even more, understanding my emotions,  what I think and what I attract in my life,  always looking with the eyes of progress, opportunities, compassion and happiness. I know my priorities which its foundations are on the family, my children. Everything that I am today, what I choose to be and do, I do with fatherhood in mind for my children, to provide them the  structure, the values, the love, compassion and respect they deserve to help them grow into life loving  individuals, self-starters and leaders with  the courage and humility to do wonderful things for others and for themselves.