The Tattoo

I’ve wanted a tattoo my entire life. For whatever reason, I could never really wrap my head around what to get or taking the time/money to sit down in a chair and actually get one done. 

When I was in my 20’s, I really didn’t care about tattoo that much. As I entered my 30’s, I thought that I had the perfect design in mind. It would be a blend of my over-the-top personality while still telling the story that I had finally gotten what I had wanted for so long in my life. It was something in my mind that was very close to this…

A little silly, I know. But to me it showed that after years and years of trying, Wile E. Coyote FINALLY captured the Road Runner…and screw anybody that was every going to doubt him again. Of course, using the cartoon approach would be my way of still being myself.

As time went on and I separated from my wife, I realized that I hadn’t, in fact, captured the Road Runner. I was still the coyote, but I was still using ACME products in an continuing losing effort to get what I wanted out of life. It took me a long time to straighten myself out and focus on all of the good that life has to offer.

Today, as I approach my 45th birthday in a couple of months (ugh), I’ve decided that now is the time for getting a tattoo. My wife is getting her first one this weekend and she has inspired me to finally do what I always wanted to do but was too afraid to actually do it.

 No, I have zero plans to get the Wile E. Coyote cartoon tattoo that I wanted years ago. Instead, I have something in mind that has been with me for a very long time, but only now seems appropriate: 

To me, at this point in my life, I honestly feel as though I have broken the chains that have prevented me from finding true happiness…both internally and externally. Let me explain…

I have a good job with a bright future. Without going into much detail, I’ve finally found a job that is everything I’ve ever really wanted. It blends a combination of sales, account management, personal and professional growth, spreadsheets, reports, helping others, and the freedom to not be micro-managed on a daily basis. Add to that a decent pay structure and I’m one happy, nerdy camper! 

In addition, I have a blended family with five amazing children, three of which I’m having a fantastic time helping to raise. Long time readers already know that I wasn’t around in the beginning to help raise Rugrat (who just graduated from high school and is 18 years old now!). We have a good relationship, but I feel as though I missed out on a lot with her. My oldest daughter (Pebbles, who I only met for the first time four years ago) is almost 21 and is definitely her mother’s daughter. Thankfully, I’m having a hand in raising the three youngest kids — my 10 year old son (Ankle Biter, who is almost 11) and my two awesome stepdaughters (Lil’ Mo – age 12 – and Kiddo – age 14). I never wanted to have children when I was in my 20’s, but now I couldn’t imagine my life without them in it every single day.

Of course, I have an incredible wife who is everything I could have ever asked for in a partner. She is beautiful and, quite frankly, way out of my league. Because we initially met online, we’ve been able to focus our relationship on personalities and really getting to know each other. As we approach our fourth wedding anniversary (WOW!!), I realize that we’ve been together for almost nine years and I don’t ever want to be away from her. She’s my best friend, my soulmate, and the most incredible woman I’ve ever met in my life.

SIDE STORY: I never had a girlfriend in high school. Well, I dated a girl for a week once…but that was about it. Seriously. From eighth grade thru twelfth grade, I never had a girlfriend. I had a ton of girl friends, but was always the guy that was in the “friend zone”. I didn’t hate it, but it certainly made my high school years tough at times. I remember a conversation that I had with a female friend of mine while at a party close to graduation time. She told me that one day I’d find a beautiful woman who would love me for who I was. Little did I realize just how true those words were. 

Finally, I feel as though I’ve made some personal breakthroughs recently that have helped me grow as a person. Without getting into too much detail, I have gotten out from under a thumb that has been on top of me my entire life…even when I didn’t realize it was there. I have finally come to realize why I have certain shortcomings and am trying to work my way through them. This new “freedom” has helped me realize that I’m entering the second half of my life with renewed purpose. It’s like I’m getting the chance to live life all over again, only this time I just happen to be a bit older than the first time I lived. 

So the chains mean a lot to me. I firmly believe that I’ve broken the chains that have held me back for so long so I can now move forward in life without anything holding me down. 

I’m not looking for a massive tattoo or anything; I just want the chains to be on my upper left shoulder on my bicep area. The only question I’m having, though, is what chain photo I should actually get. This is where I need YOUR help.

I’ve got my top 5 choices for a chain tattoo. Which one should I get??

 

1. 

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Where My Shoes Have Taken Me – Apple Picking in the Annapolis Valley

Continuing my blog series of telling my stories through photographs, my most recent family weekend resulted in us going to Windsor, Nova Scotia for some apple picking. We don’t get together with all three kids too often, so we wanted to take advantage of the situation.

Apple Picking 1
I took a moment once I got out of the car to take a quick pic of my SKECHERS. These are the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. The great thing about them is that I feel as good wearing them with pants as I am with wearing them with shorts.
So we wanted to pick some Honeycrisp apples, as they are our favourite type of apple, by far. We ended up at Mason's Apples, located in Windsor, Nova Scotia. This was a massive orchard with multiple types of apples to choose from. And to top it off, it was a gorgeous day...it was just awesome!
So we wanted to pick some Honeycrisp apples, as they are our favourite type of apple, by far. We ended up at Mason’s Apples, located in Windsor, Nova Scotia. This was a massive orchard with multiple types of apples to choose from. And to top it off, it was a gorgeous day…it was just awesome!
I've seen some beautiful apples in my life, but there were some unbelievably red apples to choose from on this day. The orchard was very busy, but we were able to find a pretty good spot all to ourselves.
I’ve seen some beautiful apples in my life, but there were some unbelievably red apples to choose from on this day. The orchard was very busy, but we were able to find a pretty good spot all to ourselves.
It's not often that you get to really enjoy some perfectly ripe apples at a U-Pick. By the time I usually get to one of these, most of the best apples are already taken. Thankfully, that wasn't the case on this day.
It’s not often that you get to really enjoy some perfectly ripe apples at a U-Pick. By the time I usually get to one of these, most of the best apples are already taken. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case on this day.
The kids were even able to grab a small ladder and pick from the top of some of the trees, which is where the best apples were located. They each got to pick apples on their own and everybody got their turn climbing the ladder. We definitely had some happy campers on this day.
The kids were even able to grab a small ladder and pick from the top of some of the trees, which is where the best apples were located. They each got to pick apples on their own and everybody got their turn climbing the ladder. We definitely had some happy campers on this day.
Sunshine was pretty happy with her haul...
Sunshine was pretty happy with her haul…
...as was I!!
…as was I!!
We had a great time, though sometimes I think the parents end up having more fun than the kids do.
We had a great time, though sometimes I think the parents end up having more fun than the kids do.
So when all was said and done, we had two ten-pound bags full of fresh, ripe Honeycrisp apples. But in addition to that, we had spent some memorable time together as a family. And when all is said and done, that's the main reason we went there to begin with.
So when all was said and done, we had two ten-pound bags full of fresh, ripe Honeycrisp apples. But in addition to that, we had spent some memorable time together as a family. And when all is said and done, that’s the main reason we went there to begin with.

Where My Shoes Have Taken Me – Halifax Pride

As long-time readers of this blog will undoubtedly know, I’m not writing nearly as much as I used to. I think it just happens to be that when life isn’t that bad, bloggers have less and less to write about. Life is right now is good. VERY good. Things are finally coming together in a variety of ways. While I’m not writing that much, I am still taking photos on a near-daily basis and trying to appreciate everything that happens around me.

I’ve decided to do a new series of blog posts where I will try to tell a story through photos. It may work; it may not. But at the end of the day, I hope that I will be able to continue sharing my life through pictures and stories.

My shoes take me to a lot of different places. Here is the first of the series of tales about those places…

These are my new Relaxed Fit: Skech-Flex sneakers. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I've ever owned. On this day, they took me to a hillside in downtown Halifax to watch the 2016 Pride parade.
These are my new Skechers: the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. On this day, they took me to a hillside in downtown Halifax to watch the 2016 Pride parade. We were VERY fortunate to find a near-empty hillside by the very beginning of the parade route. While thousands and thousands of people waited throughout the downtown core, there may have been maybe 100 people scattered along the hill. It was the PERFECT spot.
This was the first time my son had ever attended the Halifax Pride Parade. In fact, I'm not sure if he ever had been exposed to the LGBT community before. I tried to explain to him prior to the event what to expect, why we were going, and why there was a parade. I felt it was important for all of our kids to understand what everybody was celebrating.
This was the first time my son had ever attended the Halifax Pride Parade. In fact, I’m not sure if he ever had been exposed to the LGBT community before. I tried to explain to him prior to the event what to expect, why we were going, and why there was a parade. I felt it was important for all of our kids to understand what everybody was celebrating.

Halifax Pride 2
Halifax Pride 3
Halifax Pride 4

This was my son's favourite part of the parade. While no San Diego Comic Con, the local Hal-Con has grown in popularity over the past few years. To watch a rainbow-coloured stormtrooper walk by was really cool to him.
This was my son’s favourite part of the parade. While no San Diego Comic Con, the local Hal-Con has grown in popularity over the past few years. To watch a rainbow-coloured stormtrooper walk by was really cool to him.

Halifax Pride 6
Halifax Pride 7

The kids stood there the entire time…smiling and enjoying the entire parade. This was an experience that they weren’t soon going to forget.
As the final float went by, we dashed home for a few minutes before the second stop on our Pride Tour, the roller derby game!!
As the final float went by, we dashed home for a few minutes before the second stop on our Pride Tour, the roller derby game!!
I had never been to a live roller derby game before, but my wife had always wanted to go to one. This just seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Anchor City Rollers is the name of Halifax's flat track roller derby league. On this day, they were presenting a mixed, queer-themed scrimmage roller derby game featuring players from all over the Maritimes. It was considered an official Halifax Pride event that was made up of the UNISCORNS and the SCISSOR KICKS.
I had never been to a live roller derby game before, but my wife had always wanted to go to one. This just seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Anchor City Rollers is the name of Halifax’s flat track roller derby league. On this day, they were presenting a mixed, queer-themed scrimmage roller derby game featuring players from all over the Maritimes. It was considered an official Halifax Pride event that was made up of the UNISCORNS and the SCISSOR KICKS.


When all was said and done, the game was a blow-out. It didn't matter to the kids, though...they had a GREAT time. All of the women put on a helluva show and displayed more toughness than I could ever imagine displaying myself (I mean...I certainly wouldn't do that!!).
When all was said and done, the game was a blow-out. It didn’t matter to the kids, though…they had a GREAT time. All of the women put on a helluva show and displayed more toughness than I could ever imagine displaying myself (I mean…I certainly wouldn’t do that!!).

So this is where my shoes have taken me this time. Because I’m always wearing something on my feet, I’ll always have a way to get somewhere.

Using Netflix To Tackle Issues With Kids

NetflixOne of the benefits of being a member of the Netflix Stream Team is reading some of the topics that are provided by Netflix. Each month, we’re provided topics to discuss and blog about and, for the most part, they deal with family interaction and discussion. It’s important to Netflix to promote the fact that their programming isn’t just for zombie-esque mindless visual stimulation, but can also be used for quality family time together. 

May’s topic deals with how parents can sometimes use Netflix to help discuss tough topics that might be difficult to bring up on their own. Whether it’s giving in to peer pressure or finding ways to talk about bigotry and/or racism, sometimes these things need a bit of a “kick-start” to create a casual conversation that kids feel comfortable participating in.

There was one episode of Glee, in particular, that stood out for me. While no longer on the air, my two stepdaughters love the first few seasons of Glee for a number of reasons…the music, the characters, the humour…and can relate to a number of the topics brought up in the show.Glee on Netflix

Near the end of the first season, in episode 16, there is a situation where one of the larger girls in the cast (Mercedes) is told to lose ten pounds in one week for a magazine interview by the show’s resident bad guy, cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester. As you can imagine, losing this type of weight in that amount of time is an extremely unhealthy and dangerous thing to do.

Mercedes & QuinnMercedes goes through an extreme diet and even ends up fainting in the school cafeteria at one point, which inspires Quinn to help change her mindset about loving yourself for who you are. Together they try to teach those watching the importance of empowerment and inclusion.

As you can imagine, this was a pretty important episode to watch with the girls. Thankfully, they noted right away on their own that Sue was asking for something that was very dangerous. They also talked about pressures they have at school and how they deal with those pressures on a daily basis.

The bigger issue, though, is trying to casually start a conversation with them as the episode goes on. What do your children think about what’s going on? Do they feel similar pressures at school or from friends? These are the types of questions that can really bring a family closer together.

Unbreakable-Kimmy-SchmidtNetflix has a number of other programs that tackle tough topics for kids of various ages. From Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Fuller House to Puffin Rock, you’ll find ways to have really great conversations with your kids if you pay enough attention and ask the right questions.

Are there any shows or movies on Netflix that YOU would recommend? What topics were you able to discuss with your kids?

So…What’s Up?

Hey gang!

Canadian Bald GuyI know…I haven’t been around in just over two weeks. Sorry about that. My computer actually died for over a week and then last week was spent catching up on working on the new hard drive (ugh). Life has still gone on, so for those interested I thought I’d give you all some glimpses into how life has been going.

jobsI’m still looking for a job. It’s insane to have to write that down because I’ve been out of work for eight months or more at this point. This is definitely the longest I’ve ever gone as an adult without working. It’s crazy to think that I’m having these difficulties trying to find a new career…but I’m not giving up. The good thing is that Sunshine and I are still paying the bills, so there isn’t a massive rush to get out there and find any job possible. It’s getting closer and closer to that point, but I’m not there yet. I’m confident that I’ll find something within the next couple of months. I’ve updated my resume and cover letter and am determined to get something that will make me happy.

CBG and Sunshine at sunriseSunshine and I are in a much better place. Nothing is perfect, but I’m been trying really hard to be the husband that she deserves, even if I’m sitting at home every day. I feel as though we’ve grown closer and that will continue to help us as a couple get over this hump that I’m having trouble getting over. And to be honest, I feel as though I’ve been falling in love with her all over again because I’ve been paying more attention to her and reminding myself of just how incredibly awesome she is. 

CBG and Ankle BiterI’m still visiting my son, Ankle Biter, every two weeks. I feel that sometimes we’re not as close as we could be, but he’s still only nine and I’m sure we’ll only get closer and closer as he gets older. I continue to do my best to be on his level…watching his YouTube gamers to get a sense of what he likes and why, playing the xBox games that he likes to play to feel like we’re bonding…just things like that. We still video chat via FaceTime a couple of times every week so it’s not like we’re drifting apart or anything…I’d just like us to be closer. Definitely things I can work on.

PebblesMy oldest daughter, Pebbles (18), is still a real joy to have in my life. She’s finishing up her post-high school “year of doing nothing” and is hearing back from schools to attend in September. She is definitely a unique young woman, getting tattoos and piercings and posting pics of her smoking out of a bong on social media. But y’know what? I feel as though she’s got her head on straight. She knows what she’s doing and she’s definitely NOT dumb, so I can only hope going to post-secondary school will help her make good life choices.

Rugrat 3My 17-year old, Rugrat, has been dealing with anxiety and ADHD issues in a pretty severe way. Thankfully, it sounds like her mom is doing a bit to help her find the help that she needs. Rugrat actually called Sunshine and I last week on the night before an oral presentation at school that she was scared to death of doing. I think we calmed her down enough that she didn’t get an anxiety attack while speaking (which has happened previously) and she called the next day super excited to tell us how great it went. I am super proud of her and the young woman she is becoming. 

IMG_6997The soon-to-be teenager (Kiddo) is doing great, as is her sister (Lil’ Mo). I love these two girls as if they were my own flesh and blood. And over the past few months, their dad has become more and more of an asshole to them (though he would tell you he’s simply “parenting”). This attitude has helped them become more and more closer to me, which is awesome. They now call me “Dad” on a consistent basis, which makes me smile every single time I hear it. I think the world of them and I couldn’t be happier to know that I’m helping to raise them and provide them with a positive male role model to look up to. 

So overall…life is good. I have no real complaints other than my work situation. I feel good and feel positive. I’m in love with my wife and I love my children. For whatever reason, they all love me, too. What else could I possibly ask for?

Five Years Later

I find it very difficult to believe, but Facebook “reminded” me on Saturday that my mom lost her battle to cancer on February 20th, 2011. My mom was an amazing woman and the world is a lesser place without her in it.

To honor her memory, I’m going to re-post what appeared on my blog five years ago.  

I love you, mom. I still can’t believe you’re gone. I know I’m far from perfect but I hope I make you proud.

**********

While going through literally hundreds of photos last night, I stumbled upon something I wrote about my mom when I was just a kid. I don’t know how old I was when I wrote it, but it stayed true until the end…

Goodbye mom. You’re in a much more peaceful place now…no more suffering, no more pain.

I love you.

You will forever be my very best friend.

xoxo

The Family Movie Night In

 

Winter 2015
Are we having fun yet?

It’s winter, which means for the majority of the northern hemisphere it’s cold and snowy and there isn’t really a lot to do outside. When the day ends and the family is inside the house, there isn’t normally a ton of things to go out and do. Sure…there are activities like skating and hiking and skiing and sledding, but not every family does that every single night of the week that they’re together. In addition, poor weather can result in more time spent shoveling than anything else (at left is our front doorstep last winter…and yes, the snow was over 4-feet high WITHOUT drifts).

NetflixUsually once or twice a week, my family gets together for a couple of hours to either watch some pre-recorded television or something on Netflix. I don’t know about you, but we have our own little set of rituals that have…something that my own family growing up didn’t really have (eat supper during the news; don’t talk; watch tv with the folks after supper or go to your room if you want to watch something you’re actually interested in). The fact that I’ve got rituals with my wife and awesome stepdaughters makes me have “all the feels”. I’m really glad to be a dad, even if it is time spent inside instead of outside.

PIZZASo what we normally do is have a “quickie meal” for dinner. It could be something like pizza grilled cheese sandwiches (which is a grilled cheese sandwich with pepperoni inside, then cut up into squares and dipped into pizza sauce) or pizza (made from scratch, of course…lol) or even Shepherd’s Pie…as long as it’s something that can easily be devoured while sitting on the couch and doesn’t take too long to make after the work day is done.

Netflix on Apple TVWe have one couch and two small chairs for the girls. We usually have me sitting on the left-hand side of the couch, Sunshine sitting on the right-hand side, and one of the girls sitting in between us while the other girl sits off to the right in a chair. Halfway through the evening, the girls will switch spots in order to get their “snuggle time” in. Our television is in the corner of the living room. It’s not super-huge, but it’s 32″ and that’s definitely big enough for us (for now, anyway). The set-up is small and cozy and fits our family to a “t”. 

We all change out of our work/school clothes and put on t-shirts and pajamas. It’s really a LOT more comfortable wearing pj’s at home, and one of the fun things the girls have done over the years is buy me silly pajama bottoms to wear (ex: Smurfs, Muppets, superheroes, etc.). It also gives us that feeling of comfort…that we’re all there to relax and enjoy what we’re about to watch.

How I Met Your MotherLately we’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother (the girls LOVE Barney, the character played by Neil Patrick Harris) and we’ve been introducing them to the glory that is Friends (my wife and I watched the entire 10-season run last year in a couple of months). Both of those series help us laugh together as a family…and that’s really important to me.

inside outIn addition, there have been some great family films that we’ve been watching together: Inside Out makes the girls cry EVERY time (lol), I really think that The Lego Movie is just brilliant and I find myself catching more tiny details every time I watch it, Tomorrowland is a movie I think that deserves a viewing but could have been a bit better defined storyline, and even The Avengers: Age of Ultron helps me bond with the oldest stepdaughter because she’s really into the “superhero movies” right now.


Sometimes we’ll pop some fresh popcorn, other times we’ll share a bag or two of chips. We may not even snack at all…it really just depends. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is the fact that we’re spending time together during a time of the year when we might just be each doing our own thing in the house…strangers living under the same roof.

Netflix - CBGI, for one, would much rather spend time together in a room talking and laughing and acting silly while watching Netflix than doing our own thing. It’s all about family time…something I didn’t experience when I was young.