I often try to stop and enjoy moments in life. I guess I’m a bit introspective that away. I think I learned that from my parents. They would take us out on the boat at the lake cabin, or stop us at the top of the mountain before we went down the hill for the first time on a ski trip, and tell us to stop and look around and take it in and enjoy the moment. To be thankful for what we had. So we did. My brothers, sister, and I had a lot growing up, but we learned to be thankful for it. I’m sure there were many times I could have been much more thankful, but now as I am an adult myself I’m grateful for the lesson from my parents of being thankful and really enjoying the moments in life. There have been some crazy ones, like right now we have six kids under six in our house. Three of them are ours and the other three are foster children. It’s not easy, but trying to enjoy the moments in life instead of always looking forward to what’s next has helped me enjoy life more.
My wedding day was an amazing day I’ll never forget. I was so happy and so excited to marry my best friend. I tried to really enjoy it, because that’s what a lot of other people said to do. Don’t let the stress get to you, just enjoy it, so I did. Being married has definitely shaped who I am today. I’ll never forget watching her come down the aisle and wanting to do whatever I could from that day forward to make her happy, protect her, and love her. Doing these things have made me grow a lot as a person. I learned how selfish I am. How scared of change and conflict I am.
As I write this today I am a much stronger person and I am incredibly thankful for that. My wife helps me to be strong and she is an amazing support system and a person who pushes me to rise to the occasion. We currently have a 3, 4, and 6 year old and also care for 3 foster children who are 4, 5 and 5. I never could have imagined being able to do what we’re doing right now but thanks to my wife I have become a stronger person who is able to deal with more. I still pale in comparison to her strength, but I’m very thankful for the person I have grown to be. I used to be a limp noodle with no backbone. Now I’m a lover and a fighter – hopefully I’m always fighting for righteous things.
Deciding to change my career path.
I was a week into my second quarter at my local community college when I changed my mind from wanting to become a teacher to becoming a 3D artist. It was a huge decision. A turning point that would decide what my career would be. I dropped all my classes and enrolled in a couple digital art classes instead. One was a Photoshop class and the other was the only 3D art class they had. A few moments lead up to this defining moment, but it was one of the biggest decisions I made that steered the rest of my life from that moment on. It ended up moving me from the home I grew up in to the big city of Seattle four hours away – a town where I didn’t know a single person. So for those moments that helped push me over the edge and decide I wanted to become a 3D artist instead of an English teacher.
I was blessed to have an awesome art teacher in junior high and when the first full length 3D movie Toy Story came out on video he had us watch it over the course of a few classes. He told us to study it. Watching that film critically filled me with wonder and made me want to be a part of making something like it. The next moment was when I was playing a video game. I made my character climb up a ladder and the animation of him climbing was so bad that I thought to myself, if I knew the tools I’m sure I could do a better job than this! The last moment was the first quarter of community college where a classmate used a simple 3D rendered video in his presentation. He wasn’t majoring in 3D but liked fiddling with the software. I thought, if he can make that awesome imagery maybe I could too.
So during the second week of my second quarter of college I changed my career path. Since then I lived in Seattle for several years, made tons of friends, moved back to my hometown and am now working my second job as a 3D artist. From what I’ve heard from others I have a rare situation in that I can truthfully say I love my job. I’m so thankful I get to use what I learned at The Art Institute of Seattle to bring home the bacon for my family. Every day at work feels like a privilege.
The Day I Became a Father
I’ve always wanted kids. I remember dreaming of having a family and children when I was in high school. At the age of 25, the same age my parents were when they had me their firstborn son, my wife and I had a son. Like with Jeff’s child, he was taken from us and had to spend several days in the NICU. That was really scary and no fun, but I’ll never forget when he was born. It was definitely a defining moment. It felt like I was in a dream. It was so surreal. One moment the doctors are working and I’m holding my wife’s hand, the next moment I’m cutting our son’s umbilical cord and he’s crying. My son knew my wife’s voice and when the doctor put our baby boy on her chest and she spoke her first words to him he stopped crying and looked towards her. I’ll never forget that moment. It was amazing to see my little boy comforted by his mommy’s voice. Now he’s turning six this month and has grown into an amazing little guy that I couldn’t be prouder of.
The Day We Adopted a Child
It was another surreal day going to the courthouse, walking through the metal detector, waiting while all dressed up, and then going into a courtroom with a judge waiting for us. We sat down at the table you see defendants or plaintiffs sit at on law TV shows. We answered a few questions for the judge and then got to have our picture taken with him. Then outside the courtroom we were handed a folder full of paperwork and as our lawyer handed it to me he said, “Now in the eyes of the law it’s as if you guys gave birth to her.” And like that I officially had a daughter to take care of and love and teach. I was a boy. I know what boys are like and how to take care of them, but girls? I guess all I can do is try my best. Seems like a more weighty responsibility raising a girl, but I’m sure it will be another thing that helps me learn and grow. Especially in the teen years, or so I’ve been told.
Throwing a Birthday Party for a Foster Child
The two times my wife and I were able to throw a birthday party for a foster child were pretty amazing and made all the difficult days of foster care seem worth it. When one of your kids asks a foster child turning four what kind of cake they want and they ask what a birthday cake is – you feel pretty privileged to throw a birthday party for that child. The look on the face of both of the children we’ve thrown parties for as they sat before the cake, blew out the candles, and then opened tons of presents was priceless. I’m getting a little emotional just thinking about it now. There are many times I wish we weren’t doing foster care but when I think on the two defining moments of those birthday parties it makes me glad we’re doing it. Being a foster parent has surely helped define me as a person. It’s made me a whole heck of a lot stronger. Right now I’m used to parenting six kids the age of 6 and under – when going to the mall, out to restaurants, to the park, and at home. I couldn’t do it without my wife’s help and I don’t know how she manages when I’m at work. Someday when it’s just our three kids again, life will feel like a breeze 🙂
Dan first started writing stories in elementary school, where he and a friend would skip lunch and recess once a month to eat in the library while hearing all about the new books on the shelves. His love for reading, as with visual art and music, has now extended into creating his own fiction. He works as a digital artist and lives in Washington state with his beautiful family of five. A huge fan of audio books, Dan podcasts all of his stories for free. You can find those stories here, or subscribe to the podcast with a button on the right. You can also find many free and a couple cheap eBooks of his stories at all the popular online retailers through the link above. Dan loves podcasting his fiction, but is involved in a few other podcasts as well.