Preparing For My First REAL Family Christmas

I never really had much of a taste for Christmas after my marriage turned sour. It just didn’t seem like much fun. Sure, there was seeing my kids get gifts and smile and laugh on Christmas morning, but it just wasn’t the same for me. I felt a bit empty inside knowing that it was only a partial family Christmas.

Then when my mom got sick with cancer, the holidays were more of a reason to celebrate her life than actually celebrating the season. 

Once Sunshine entered my life, things changed a bit but I still felt a bit empty. I knew that I was living in my home and that she was living in hers and that whatever we were doing for Christmas was just a temporary situation; a brief sense of happiness and celebration before going back to a mundane life of staring at the walls alone every night.

This year, though…things are different.

Living with Sunshine has changed my entire life in a myriad of ways, the biggest of which has been my feeling part of a family unit again. Having people around you constantly that love you and want to be part of your life is something that I think most people take for granted. Where I’m living that life right now after going so long without it, I’m never taking that for granted again.

We recently had our weekly “computers off/family night”. We listened to Christmas music while enjoying supper and then began decorating our new apartment as a family. Even though the decorating didn’t quite finish (due to the decorations we could find in storage not filling up the place), it was all I could do to not burst into song and exclaim my happiness from the rooftop (or from garage doors in Markham…highly recommended). I was smiling the entire time…just happy to be able to enjoy something as simple as decorating for the holidays with a family: MY family.

I can’t wait to have all four kids here with us on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. It’ll be the first time that all four have been with us on Christmas morning since we began dating just over four years ago.  We’ll be together as a family, and that’s the best gift I can imagine receiving.

Happy Anniversary, Sunshine

It’s been four years since the love of my life…my soul mate…came into my life. I wish I had the words to adequately explain just how much this woman means to me.  All I know is that she saved me. She STILL saves me on a daily basis. She is the woman I plan on spending the rest of my life with. Period. The end.

Sunshine, I love you more than I can ever express into words…so as I do every year, I figured that I’d show you in pictures.

So without further adu, here are some of my favorite pictures from four years of absolute happiness, joy, and undying love.

November 2012

At the end of the day, Sunshine is simply the most incredible woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. To know that this beautiful person (both inside and out) actually loves me is a blessing.

She’s my rock. She’s my better half. She completes me. She is my everything.

Happy anniversary, baby. It’s been four years of the most amazing journey I’ve ever been on. I cannot wait to see where our loves takes us next.

I love you.

Love of a lifetime for a lifetime

Happy Thanksgiving

Hey gang.

I know that I have a lot of American readers, so I just wanted to say a little “Happy Thanksgiving” from me to you. Having no longer work for an American company up here in Canada, I’m going to work today like a normal Canuck instead of enjoying a 4-day weekend.

For the record…that kinda sucks.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Doing Something Right

To some parents, it might have seemed to be a “throw away” comment. It could have been something that made them smile,  maybe something they even shrugged off and took for granted.

I, for one, do whatever I can to NOT take things for granted.

I took Ankle Biter to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon. It was taking place at a local game store, where they have a room set-up to play classic Nintendo video games like Super Mario Bros, Yoshi, and Kirby. The birthday boy’s parents said that he was in good hands and suggested I return in a couple of hours, once pizza and Pepsi and video games had all been served to the kids.

I left, knowing that my son would only drink water (he won’t drink soda) and would probably get bored at the non-Halo related gaming systems set-up throughout the room. When I returned, I would not only be pleasantly surprised, but I’d be told something that totally made my weekend.

I saw that my son was playing Kirby, and had been happily playing these “old-school” games for the past two hours. He, as expected, decided to drink water and not the soda. He ate pepperoni pizza even though he usually only eats pizza with ground beef on it. He wasn’t bouncing off of the walls like some of the other kids in attendance.

A mom then came over to me and asked me if the child in front of me was mine. I smiled and said, “yes”. She then proceeded to gush. Not just gush, but REALLY gush about how awesome this child was. He was the most polite out of the bunch, he was the friendliest out of the bunch, and he was simply the “cutest” out of the bunch. At one point during pizza, when all of the children were at their most hyper, my son actually RAISED HIS HAND to ask a parent a question. Because of all of this, the mom in question told me that she really wanted to take him home with her; that’s just how awesome she thought he was.

I was, as you would expect, beaming. I mean, I’ve heard that before from people and I’ve just sat there smiling. But there was just something about this particular time that made me really think about how I’ve done as a parent, how his mother has done, and how his babysitter has done over the course of his six years.

We’ve all done something right in raising our kid. Yes, I consider the three of us as the primary influencers…not just one or even two of us.

Me, of course, as the father who constantly wants to make-up for previous mistakes with his now-teenaged daughter. I do whatever I can to make sure my son knows how much I love him and how proud I am of him…things I never got from my own dad growing up.  I always do my best to provide him with positive reinforcement and I parent him the best way that I can…trying to help shape him into becoming a great man.

My ex has been the unbelievable mother that I knew she’d be. Do I agree with all of her parental choices? No, but she’s obviously doing something right…so you will never hear me say a bad word about her or her ability to parent our son.

The babysitter has looked after Ankle Biter for five years now, and a lot of his growth and development can be attributed to her. And really, her influence on him really shouldn’t be forgotten or discounted…she as done a fantastic job and has ended up being a third parent to him.

All in all, we’re doing something right. And I couldn’t be more proud.

A Little Paint…

It’s funny just how much change can take place after a few brush strokes. 

Sunshine and I didn’t care for our apartment’s colors too much when we moved in. The plan was to slowly make our way around the apartment…room to room…and create a home that was *ours* and one that we could truly call our own.

We started doing that about a month or so ago when we painted the living room. We continued on that path over the weekend with some added touches.

This is how we started our journey…

It didn’t take long at all to see an immediate difference to not only how the room looked, but how it felt. As soon as Sunshine began putting paint on the walls, we both began to enjoy our new home just a little bit more.

It took a couple of days to complete it all, but when it was completed we had this…

This past weekend we didn’t have a ton of items on our plate so we decided to kick back and relax on Friday night with a beverage or two (or three) and some snacks. And yes…those snacks are real. And yes…they’re awesome.

Once Sunday rolled around, we decided to use a “two-prong” attack on some of the “added touches” for our living room. I was going to work on a home-made shelf that we purchased for $15 at a second-hand store and Sunshine was going to paint a small portion of our hallway with chalk board paint.

The shelf came about after a search to find something to put my dvd’s and blu-rays on. I mean, Sunshine has a few movies in her collection but I’m a HUGE fan of movies and I collect them quite often. After not being happy searching for something new in various stores, we went to a second-hand shop to see what they had. We were immediately taken with something that looked like it was pieced together by somebody in their garage. It was the perfect size for holding dvd’s and just looked like it would need some TLC. So we bought some paint that would hopefully make it close in colour to our massive bookcase. I think it turned out pretty good.

Not a perfect match, but it’s close enough!

Around the corner, Sunshine was putting some chalk board paint on the wall  between the bathroom and the kitchen. It’s funny…I always thought that something like a chalk board wall was “too contemporary” for me. I just never saw myself as a guy with anything but bland, muted-coloured walls. But one of the great things about Sunshine is her creativity, and this really turned into something very cool.

In another day or two, the wall will be ready to be drawn on. And I, for one, can’t wait to see the girls have a blast letting their inner artist come out on the wall…not to mention the look on my son’s face when he sees it on his next visit down.

So with just a little bit of paint over the course of the weekend, we’ve made our apartment more of a home. It’s just a bit crazy to think how much can change in just a short amount of time.