A Happy 5th

With my son’s birthday is this upcoming Saturday, but where it’s a long weekend the idea my ex came up with was to have a party a week early so that his friends would be able to attend.

That also meant his party would fall on my weekend with Ankle Biter. The good news is that with my daughter still here for another few days, I was more than happy to be able to celebrate his birthday with both him and his sister attending.

The party took place at the local zoo, which is a favorite location of his to visit. The zoo has a special room that’s constantly booked for birthday parties and such for kids. What the zoo does is play some games with the kids, bring out a couple of small animals for them to see in person, and then take them on a tour of the zoo before going back to the room for cake/presents. As parents, we didn’t have to do much of anything…which was really great when it comes to dealing with some very excited (and VERY hyper) children.

The animals brought out were a small turtle and a lizard of some kind. It was fun watching the eyes on my son light-up when petting these animals. I always get a kick out of watching him learn new things, anyway…so to watch him get excited like that is just one of the small joys I get as a parent.

The ex did a great job of food…she had taken pictures she found online of animal-designed cupcakes to a local bakery, who went and designed them down to a ‘T’. Really…these were quite impressive.



I was a bit concerned about how my son would react to the presents that he was getting. Specifically, how I was getting him things like Cars 2 Monopoly, a bucket of army men, and some firefighter rescue action figures while she was getting him a Nintendo DSI. Needless to say, I didn’t think he’d remember much of what I gave to him once he got a gift like that.

I can’t be upset, though…if I had the monetary means I’d spoil him as much as I possibly could. There’s no sense in being jealous or envious, either…it’s not her fault that she has the ability to do things for him that I can’t.  All I can do is show him love and hope that he loves me back.

I can’t lie…I did receive some pleasure when the party was winding down and he asked if he could open a gift to play with. No, it wasn’t the DSI…it was the firefighter action figures. The $10 figures I got were the one thing he wanted to play with more than anything else.

Just another example of how you’re never too late to learn something new. And in this case, my son was the one who taught it to me.

Why I’m Not Divorced Yet

This conversation came up yesterday with Sunshine and was kind of left unfinished, mainly because I needed to sit back and think about a few things.

I’ve now been separated for twice as long as I was married…over four years now. The Ex and I get along as decent friends who happen to share an amazing child together. Because she doesn’t have a man in her life other than our son, she’s never been in a rush to get a divorce and doesn’t seem to feel the need to force the issue.

But what’s MY excuse?

I sent in divorce papers once already, but some of the items were not filled out correctly and the entire thing ended up getting sent back to me. Since that time, though, I have taken my sweet time to finish filling the documents out properly and get The Ex to do the same.

Now the documents are almost ready to go again, yet it’s Sunshine asking me the status of things instead of me being all over it. So the question really is why.

There are multiple reasons…

  • Fear – I was always of the belief that marriage was supposed to be til death do us part. My parents lasted 43 years before mom passed back in February…that’s a big deal. So knowing my first marriage only lasted two years is a little embarrassing, if I can be honest. I felt like a complete failure with my friends (who told me as much) and with my parents (who were terribly disappointed). It’s a scary thing to want to jump back into those waters. Things are going so amazing with Sunshine right now…what if something changed? My marriage was over almost months after it started.  I just don’t want that to happen again.
  • Time – Up until now, both Sunshine and I were separated but not officially divorced. I just didn’t feel the “pressure” (for lack of a better word) to get my own divorce finalized…there wasn’t any time crunch. Well, her divorce will probably be finalized within the next few weeks and I’m still waiting around lackadaisically.
  • Procrastination – I’m a procrastinator by nature…it’s absolutely one of my lessor personality traits. I know that I need to get off my ass and get this done, but I just haven’t yet.
  • Importance – Sunshine asked me yesterday if getting a divorce was a “priority” for me. Because of the above reasons and because I had also gone through a pretty wild first half of the year, it hadn’t really been. When I sat down last night and thought about why it wasn’t a priority, I couldn’t really come up with a valid reason.  It just hasn’t ranked above other items in my life recently.

I want to marry Sunshine, I really do.  In fact, I was having that very discussion with a co-worker yesterday morning before getting Sunshine’s email asking about the status of my divorce.

The big question I have is would Sunshine want to have a long-distance marriage?  I mean, I know others do it and while odd it’s not completely uncommon…but is that something that she would be okay with?  I think she would be (or at least I hope she would be). Being married would also confirm that the distance is just a barrier to us eventually living under the same roof together and wouldn’t be considered an obstacle to the relationship itself.

I think I have been telling myself that because we don’t live in the same city that marriage isn’t important. The problem with the mindset, though, is that I’m not being fair to Sunshine’s feelings or to our relationship.

I told my co-worker yesterday that we’ve been together for two and a half years and while we’ve discussed marriage, I haven’t popped the question nor have I finalized my divorce.

“Two and a half years?? What the heck are you waiting for??”

That’s the question I was asked. After a lot of thought my answer today is simply, “I’m not going to wait anymore.”

Changes are coming soon. First step: get this damn divorce finalized and out of the way. I’ve got my new life to prepare for!!

Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done

I’m not much of a political follower.  In fact, after finally getting the opportunity to vote when I turned 18 years old, I stopped voting all together because I simply didn’t care.

Four years ago a politician came along that made me care again.

That man lost his battle to cancer early yesterday morning, and it’s been weighing heavily on my mind since initially hearing the news.

Jack Layton was an incredible man. I could dive into his history and tell you all about him, but I’m simply not enough of a wordsmith to be able to top what has already been written about him.

Huffington Post

CBC

Globe & Mail

Canada.com

Toronto Sun

Out of everything that Layton ever did as a politician, his genuine caring for people will stand out the most for me. All he ever talked about was helping the “every man” have a better life. He was seen as one of the few politicians in this country who actually cared…a politician who actually believed in the things he was saying.

What I want to remember about Jack Layton isn’t so much to do with politics as it does his credo…his mantra…his own personal slogan: Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done. He never gave up and never wanted to believe that he couldn’t do something. He took a joke of a political party and made Canada believe that he could be Prime Minister, which helped them achieve official opposition status this past spring. By showing people that anything was possible, he inspired those around him and those who followed him.

And it wasn’t all about inspiring people with political views. Even at the end, all he wanted to do was continue to instill hope and inspiration in others. He actually wrote a letter on August 20th to all Canadians, as he felt his time was coming to an end…

“To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.” – Jack Layton, August 20, 2011

Canada has not just lost a great politician. Canada has not just lost a great man. Canada has lost one of those guys who you genuinely felt as though you could sit back and have a beer with. Honestly, as a Canuck…that’s probably one of the best compliments I could give somebody because there aren’t nearly enough of those guys around these days.

RIP, Jack. Thank you for the inspiration.

“Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity.  Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

– Jack Layton, August 20th, 2011

Try This

About ten years ago I worked in a call center for AOL Canada. I was one of those guys on the other end of the phone whose job it was to try to talk you out of canceling your dial-up internet subscription.

Yeah…I was one of THOSE guys.

I hated the job, but I did what I could with the job I was given. There was a lot of training involved from the very beginning (I eventually became one of those trainers, too) and, honestly, a lot of the things being taught made a lot of sense.

AOL’s browser provided a lot of content to people (the website still does, actually) and the idea was to try to educate people on the phone about how the content was worth the extra money it cost for a monthly subscription (around $24.95) vs. just having an internet provider (easily found at the time for $16.95 or less).

We were taught to do our best not to say “no” to the customers. Instead, we were supposed to let the customer know what we COULD do for them vs. what we COULDN’T do.  When I turned my life around a few years ago, one of the things I did was take that frame of thinking and apply it to my life.

I don’t like to dwell on what I don’t have in my life. I don’t like to think about the things I’d like to do but can’t. I do my best to not let negativity weigh me down because life is simply too much fun when you’re in a positive mindset.

I have dreams that will never be fulfilled. Most of those disappeared with the unexpected (but WELCOMED) birth of my son and the eventual dismantling of my marriage. I went into a funk for quite some time after that because I didn’t know who I was or who I was supposed to be.

I eventually began changing my dreams to fit my life.

Life has presented more than its fair share of twists and turns. That’s really what makes it interesting though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not just “coping” or “dealing” with life that helps you get through…it’s answering the question, “What are you going to do with your life NOW?”

I could be weighed down on a daily basis with all of the things that aren’t going well in my life. I could wish for things to change and I could always focus on what I don’t have.

I refuse to do that.

The next time you’re sitting back and wishing for things that you don’t have right now, try reveling in the things that you do have.  And I mean TRULY loving what you have.

The next time you’re looking at how life isn’t exactly what you want at the moment, try taking the necessary steps to actually change it.

Now I’m not saying that life can be instantly perfect, not by any means.  But nobody is stuck.  Nobody is truly in a place that they cannot escape from or change to make better.

If you want to change your life, you can. 

You can begin by letting go of the thoughts and feelings and wishes that hold you down and make you feel like life isn’t what you want. Sitting and wishing for things you cannot have at the moment isn’t going to do yourself or anybody that you love any good.  Instead, you can analyze the life that you currently have and work new dreams and wishes around it.

Life is out there for you.  It’s yours for the taking.

What you do with it is entirely YOUR CHOICE.

I choose to look at the positive side of life and how that can help me smile on a daily basis. Try this yourself…you’ll be amazed at the results.

And so it concludes…

Vacation Day Eight…

7:39am – For the first time this trip, Sunshine and I were up and awake before the kids. I don’t know who is more excited about going home today…us or them. Heck…I wonder which one of us is more excited to go back to work>

8:05am – Sunshine just told me that she really didn’t want to go back to work tomorrow.  I told her that I really did.  I guess that answers the above question.

9:16am – Most of our packing is done. Just a matter of finishing up and lugging everything out to the minivan. Thank goodness for the minivan.

9:33am – Rugrat just fed a squirrel peanuts out of her hand. Rabies?  Sure.  Still pretty cool? You betcha!!

1:18pm – The minivan is gone. LONG story…but at the moment I’m driving the car I’m actually paying for, so it makes a bit of sense. My dad listened to my tales of plopping $90 into the tank for the same mileage I got from a $60 fill-up with my previous car and decided it would be better to switch vehicles today before doing my 5+ hours of driving.  On one hand, it SUCKED to have to re-pack the car for two separate trips as opposed to one packing of the minivan.  On the other hand, it’s AWESOME to know that what I’m driving is so bloody fuel efficient.

1:20pm – My daughter is spending the next three days with my dad and her cousin. I guess I get a couple of nights off…not that I needed it. I think she’d rather be with someone her own age (he’s 17, she’s 12 going on 21).

2:04pm – Just dropped off Ankle Biter at his mom’s. He’s been amazing this week…just a great little kid.

8:17pm – I am absolutely exhausted!! The girls are being put to bed now. I honestly don’t think Sunshine and I will be too far behind. 

*****

All in all, I can’t say this was a bad vacation.  Sure, there were moments…but those moments were overshadowed by the love and happiness that we all shared as a family. Those moments were learning experiences that will help us become better life partners.

In fact, I’m glad that we had some rough times because they truly make me thankful and appreciative of the amazing bond we share 99% of the time.

And so it shines…

Vacation Day Seven…

9:24am – The kids have already eaten breakfast and have run off to the playground to enjoy the day. This is the first day we’ve seen a gorgeous sunny day since we arrived on Day One. We’re pretty happy with this turn of events.

10:03am – Okay…so the two youngest have already made their way back to the camper. Sigh. Oh well…they’re playing with toys and Rio is playing on the radio. #goodtimes

10:26am – We were just told that today is the only “Kids Games Day” that the campground has all year. I had NO idea.  Well…cleaning up and out the door.  These kids are going to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight if it KILLS them!!

11:16pm – There are face painters, hot dogs, ice cream, and prizes!!  Sometimes I wish I was a kid again.

Prizes!!
Sunshine took this great pic of Mo. What a great shot!
Sometimes you don't want your face painted, but your arm will do.
With prizes down and face painting completed, it was now time for my favorite part of the morning...the food!!
OMFG...I had no idea Rugrat was going to get this much ice cream. Holy crap that thing was as big as her face!! And what's worse, she ate the whole effin' thing!!!
HOW MUCH ICE CREAM DID SHE EAT??

1:33pm – Lunch is over and the kids are back outside playing with bubbles. I think Ankle Biter just slipped a “mommy” out when talking to Sunshine.  They made out like bandits as the campground had prizes for all of the kids. Then they had hot dogs and ice cream for everybody. Quite impressive from a parent’s perspective and the kids had a lot of fun. We’re just getting a quick breather before heading up to the pool…along with 3/4 of the campground, I’m sure.

Ankle Biter on the see saw.
Sunshine took this awesome picture of Kiddo. Love this!!
And of course we need our obligatory self-portrait!!

3:24pmSigh. Listen…I’ll be the first to admit that I detest public swimming. The pools are just bit buckets of germs and for me it’s just gross getting into them. I still do it because Ankle Biter’s unable to swim on his own yet and he also can’t get his ears wet after getting the tubes put in them a couple of years ago. So whenever we’re together…when he goes, I go. Today I really didn’t want to go, but I did because he wanted to. We got in and he went down the toddler slide and right into my arms. He immediately went to sit on the stairs and watch everybody else.

I stood there…getting splashed, watching “things” float by, getting bumped by some random children…and after about five minutes I asked him if he wanted to go swimming. He said “no”. I started to get up and told him that if he wanted to go into the water to let me know. As I started to leave, he started to go into the water.  I asked him if he wanted to go swimming again and he said “no”. So we went over to Sunshine (who was sitting on the sidelines enjoying the rays) and she could sense my frustration.

Being the awesome “other half” parent that she is, she talked to Ankle Biter and found that when he’s with his mom on vacation, they go swimming in the ocean together and she lets him go by himself.  Obviously, the ocean isn’t quite the same as a pool…so the rules are different and he was as frustrated as I was at the situation.

We both tried one more time to go into the pool. He and I tried floating around a bit, but he didn’t want to do that today. He climbed up the toddler slide again but froze…literally. He was cold and didn’t want to go swimming anymore.

So here I sit…watching Kid vs Kat inside with a tired little toddler while the sun beams away on the rest of the world.  Oh well…we’re cuddling so I guess things could be a lot worse.

6:21pm – Supper is over and we’re watching Night At The Museum. It’s still a good day but I think we’re ALL a bit tired.

8:44pm – Sunshine and the kids are all still outside, being aided by their glow sticks. I’m in the camper…my own little “fortress of solitude”. I’m not one for the outdoors and I’m certainly not one for mosquitoes, which are in large supply in this area. It’s all good…they’re enjoying themselves and I’m having fun watching them. Plus, you can’t really beat the sound of a child’s laughter.

Bubbles in the dark!

9:46pm – Ending off the vacation with a late night watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. The kids might be wound up now, but where they’re all so tired they should be sleeping soon.  Definitely a fun time to the end of the week.