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Empowering Dads

Empowering Dads

Do I apologize now for missing certain dates, or just wait till the end of the year to do so? Good grief. First, Mother’s Day, then Father’s Day. It’s scary how fast time goes. It doesn’t help that I write a week ahead, plus I have a one-track mind lately. It was perfect that I wrote about my Pap on Father’s Day, but I can’t skip out on dads. So just like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is just a little late this year. Listen, I’ll try to be more on my A-game for the rest of the year.

Dads have such a special role in our lives.

For little girls, they are the first man they will fall in love with. For little boys, they are their very own real-life superheroes. As the girl grows older, she will look for a man who treats her like her father does. Someone who will guide and protect her like her daddy did and still does. For the boy, he will learn how to treat a woman right by watching his father. Now, I am not saying everyone is like this. Some people don’t have parents they can look up to, and that breaks my heart. A father truly gives us so much during our life, just as mothers do.

Growing up, my dad, Lee Perry, was the best teacher. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t go to him with that he wouldn’t help me. If he didn’t know, he would try his best. He always told me I could do anything in life if I set my mind to it.

Before I was even born, he bought a little Suzuki JR 50 motorcycle. He told my mom whether I was a boy or girl, I would have the option to learn to ride if I wanted to. Dad never pressured us to ride. I swear my brother and I just came out of the womb, ready to ride. It’s in our blood. At three years old, I was riding that JR 50 in early spring. By four years old, training wheels were off that summer, and I was rippin’. I haven’t stopped since. I have taught other women and a few guys how to ride, too, throughout my years.

I would LOVE to teach women (even men) how to ride a motorcycle who want to learn but don’t know where to start. I wish I knew how to start up a class people could take. Seriously. The other day at a pool party, a girl told me she thought it was so awesome that I rode a Harley. She said she looks at women who can ride as “empowering” and “bada**” and wishes she could learn. I told her she could learn, and I would teach her. I want to give the women confidence that they can do anything! My dad gave me that confidence in myself at such a young age, and it’s just stuck with me.

If anyone knows how I could start a class like this, my goodness, PLEASE reach out to me. That would be amazing!! This would give me so much joy. I love empowering other women and lifting them up. Ladies, you can do anything!

Empowering: To make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

Dads, you can have such an impact on your son and daughter with this. If you tell them they can do anything, they will think they can take on the world! All my dad had to do was give me that pep talk.

I remember the drive down to the driver’s license center at sixteen years old, nervous as ever.

“Honey, you know this. Use your turn signal at stops. Don’t take your hands off the steering wheel. Always look both ways,” Dad said.

I was still nervous and really thought my nerves would get the best of me. I was more concerned about parallel parking and talked to him about it. Dad took me down to practice as often as he could when the DMV closed in the evenings. He gave me the confidence I needed to ace that test, and sure enough, I did. That’s when I headed over to Southside after acing my test. I picked my Grammy Perry up, and we were off shopping for the day and to get my nails done. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I felt my first taste of freedom.

Years later, there we were again, at the DMV. I really didn’t think I’d ever see that place again unless it was to renew my license. I was getting ready to get my motorcycle permit. Dad was with me right by my side, even though I was married at this point. (I don’t care how old we get, we always need our dads.) I failed my first computer test and was so mad. What Dad taught me — the last question I answered — was wrong. Even though it was the right answer in our eyes, it was a trick question. I went back that week and nailed it. I rode for the whole season but never went to actually take my rider’s test. I just kept riding on a permit.

“Andrea, you will nail it. Why are you worried about it? You know this stuff. You’ve been riding since you were three,” Dad would say.

I don’t know what it was. Part of me wanted to just go take the motorcycle class, so I wouldn’t have to go through the test at the DMV and feel those nerves again. Dad said there was no reason for me to take a class when he knew I would go nail it on my own without taking days of classes.

The day of my test was one of the hottest days of the year. Sweat was rolling off of me. Yes, the upper lipper was out of control that day. With my nerves and the heat, I honestly can’t believe I didn’t pass out. I just knew this would be a day I would never forget — thanks to Dad.

Turkey Meatballs
• 2 lbs. (900g) ground turkey
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella
• 1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan
• 1 egg
• 2 teaspoons onion powder
• 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
• 2 cups of marinara sauce
• 1 cup of cheese of your choice (mozzarella, Monterey jack, cheddar, provolone)

Preheat your oven to 400º. Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Combine ground turkey, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, onion powder, garlic, & Italian seasoning in a large salad bowl — except for the Marinara sauce, 1 cup cheese, and fresh basil that are set aside for the casserole. Use a small cookie scoop to form the meatballs all the same size and arrange the meatballs in the casserole dish.

Bake your meatballs casserole for 15 to 20 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove the meatball casserole from the oven and drain the grease.

Top with Marinara sauce and shredded cheese, and put the meatballs casserole back in the oven. Bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese has fully melted. Enjoy!