Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy joined the "27" club and we all lost :-(

I love music and from as early as I can remember I had a passion for female singers. I used to joke that I would give anything to have Toni Braxton, Randi Crawford, Anita Baker or Etta James sing me the phonebook. Over the years the list have grown to include some women with beautiful talent. Today - that list became just a bit shorter with the passing of Amy Winehouse.

It seemed from the beginning the beautiful, talented woman was on a path of destruction and today it seems she has ended her journey. Irrespective of your thoughts or feelings about her music or her public image she was amazingly talented and she will be greatly missed.

It saddens me that Mrs. Winehouse is gone but it is also a not so sutle reminder of that we all to often lose some of the greatest artist at a young age. Ironically, 27 seems to be the "magic" number for many. Twenty-seven is the age that the world lost; Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Alan Wilson, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Peter Ham and "Pig Pen" just to name a few.

RIP Mrs. Winehouse and may God Bless your family and friends - we will miss you.

Here is my personal favorite song that I would like to share, "Tears Dry on Their Own" - I doubt the tears caused by today's sad news will dry anytime soon. :-(.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Independence and gone to Hell :-), kinda!

On the climbing rock at Independence Lake.

The kids and I began our weekend (9 - 11th July) in our normal manner - driving! The hour drive each week is SO no fun and with the heat it makes it even worse. If there is anything that could at least make it manageable it is the time to talk and listen to the kids about how they have been doing. The hardest thing about not being with the kids everyday is just that - everyday you miss so many things. As a Dad you miss seeing them get up, have breakfast, lunch, play, dinner and so on. Even though I have them every weekend it is like the kids and I have two separate lives - one with me and one that they have when they are with Mom. I guess that I get that to a degree but the problem for me is that I so miss them when I am not with them and phone calls (of which - Jacob's voicemail is normally not working), text message and even message on facebook are such a hallow way to have a relationship with your children. Most of the time I don't hear from the kids during the time they with their Mom and that is really tough. Sometimes you feel like each visit is a "new starting point". In some way it is like having a wound that never really heals - during the time that we are together things are wonderful but then inevitably once they go to their Mom's it is like having your first girlfriend brake up with you again.

For me the worst part of this has been the "change" in my relationship with the kids. With Knoah there was a time when Knoah and I would get up every morning and he would play Wii Fit as I got ready for work. We would talk, play and most important for me we simply were together. Having witnessed Knoah be taken during a c-section while he was not breathing and then seeing him have two "blue episodes" where he stopped breathing again it has, since that time, given me pause to enjoy every second that I have near him. With Jacob - er . . . He is becoming a "teenager" with all of the opinions, attitude and posture. I know that I am missing being there as an example for him each day and while I try - it's hard not to feel that it is enough. Plus - with Jacob it is really bothering me being unemployed as I am very afraid that he can get the opinion that it is alright for men not to work and support there children - which nothing could be further from the truth. Hannah - I so miss my Princess. She has become much more confrontational with Jacob and she and I have really been talking about how she needs to make sure that she does not blame him or try and start problems with him. It is much more difficult not being near your children than what anyone can ever imagine. I have talked to some friends that I know on facebook that are divorced and see there kids every other weekend and amazingly nobody can answer this question for me: "does it ever get any better, leaving or not being with your children?" So far nobody can give me and answer except that - "oh, you get used to it". I keep praying and hoping that I will but - then I think, I don't want to get used to being away from my children or feeling like we have to re-set our relationship every few days. Some days are harder than others. Not to long ago a girl I went to high school posted this as her "status" ~LIFE MAY NOT LEAD YOU WHERE YOU WANT...BUT HAVE FAITH THAT YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE MEANT TO BE~ and I am honestly making an effort to do that but I keep falling back to this question: "so, I am meant to be away for my kids the majority of the time?" I know that isn't the meaning but - it is really, really, really hard missing your children.

For the weekend we really decided that we would have fun and with the heat we would stay in the water as much as possible. Saturday - once we made it home we spent the afternoon in the pool with Hannah leading the play and Knoah demanding that he gets to be the shark. We then went to Lincoln School park to play for a bit and were fortunate enough to run into a friend of ours, Michelle and her dog Roxie. After a late dinner we watched the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie - "Roddrick Rules" which was actually very funny.

On Sunday we got the kids up early and took them for a really cool surprise as we went to Independence Lake for a day of swimming, play and frolic at the "water park"! The kids were so excited to get into the water and even though Knoah struggled with the water park at first because he hates to have water splash in his face, he adjusted and had so much fun!

Hannah, Me and Knoah in the water at Independence Lake.

Jacob loved playing in the water and we had so much fun tackling each other and playing with the seaweed - the seaweed that the kids thought would look good as a nice "hairstyle" for me!

Knoah playing in the water area at Independence Lake.

Hannah, Knoah and Jacob in the water play area.

After spending nearly six hours outside playing at the Lake we decided to head home. Laura really wanted to go visit "Hell" . . . well, Hell, Michigan that is and so we made the short twenty minute drive to Hell to take in the sights. On purpose, just like going to the lake, this was kept as a surprise from the kids. Earlier in the year we started going through a book called, "Weird Michigan". The book details several sights in Michigan that are unusual and weird. We have went to the sights around us and have been able to read the book before going and then have taken pictures at the sites. Hell (MI) was on page 54 - 55 so . . . there we were - in Hell. Knoah - decided that he would fall asleep and then simply not wake up until we were gone from Hell (maybe he is smarter than the rest of us). But - for Jacob and Hannah it was a great chance to get some pictures and see some neat sites.

Jacob . . . . the Bigfoot!

Hannah . . . . the "Little Devil" . . . .

We ended up getting home late and ended up going straight to bed. The next morning, with Laura off to work, the kids and I spent the remainder of the day together playing Wii, swimming, playing with the turtle and then heading to Monroe to end our time for the weekend. Of course it was great and awesome and everything I wish. Of course - the drive home was the same too except it wasn't so awesome.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What a "sparkling" good weekend. . . . :-)

Being out of work is no fun and sadly some other issues have arisen that maybe way hard to get rid of if not impossible for a long, long, time. I am sure that will come up later but for now - let's just say that "stress" is a normal part of my day.

As this weekend began (2d - 4th of July) the kids and I decided to spend sometime visiting with my parents on the second before heading out to Adrian. This was really wonderful for us to do but the "visit" ended up being nearly the whole day as Jacob wanted to ask a ton of questions about what things were like when I "grew" up. My parents still live in the same house and when I was a kid growing up it was wonderful. We had a creek behind us and Lake Erie is less than a mile away so we were surrounded by fun.

Jacob became fascinated with the creek for some reason on the 2d and wanted to know what all the rocks out in the water were. I explained to him that they were the "left over" dam that we used to build when I was a kid at which point he wanted to know, "how" do you do that. Instead of trying to "explain" it with words I simply decided that we would "build" a dam. This was awesome and so much fun as we caught crayfish, found some freshwater clams and even caught a young trout in my shoe!

While building the dam we also came across a "young friend" in way of a little Raccoon that "stumbled" into the area pretty confused. I was a bit worried about it being rabid so we kept the kids at bay and I was able to get it flushed into a cage. The kids enjoyed seeing it close up but after a while we released it away from the house - safe from danger for both the Raccoon and people.

I was amazed at how quickly 12:00 noon became 7:30 and after a dinner of pizza and a swim we decided that it was time to make the hour drive to Adrian.

The kids were asleep once we arrived so it became an excursion of carrying them in to bed.

The rest of the weekend we spent swimming, playing with "speedy" the turtle, playing the Wii, and simply enjoying each other's company. Knoah was the most excited about holiday with the fireworks and all but it was so much fun to see Jacob and Hannah help Knoah with the sprinklers. Knoah was most exited for the "green" colored sparklers as that still seems to be his favorite color.

Monday afternoon came too quickly for me and taking them to their Mom's was something that I wished I could postpone for a good three or four more weeks - but - guess not :-(. We ended the weekend with a fun cooking class and make a homemade "mac n cheese" pizza that the kids took with them for dinner.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday Amercian and Happy Birthday Laura!

The weekend is not over yet and still it has been filled with some great memories; Building a damn with Jacob, catching crawfish with Hannah, Jacob and Knoah, having a baby Racoon walk up and say hello, catching a pearch in my shoe, swimming with the kids, celebrating Laura's birthday, baking a cake, grilling chicken and of course . . . . fireworks!

235 years ago America declared independance from England. Not even three decades ago Laura was born on this earth - not sure that the two are related but . . . they do share the same date.

So far this holiday has been wonderful and filled with play, excitment and honesty. It's not over yet but I wanted to share some quick thoughts and maybe a photo or two.

God Bless. Happy Birthday Laura and Happy Independance Day America!

Jacob admiring his hard work - the damn you see in the background.

Hannah and her new "love" . . . . . LOL :-)

Knoah Franklin.

Friday, July 1, 2011

. . . . offically scared . . . .

It's now been over ninety-days since I was last employed. This is the longest I have ever been without a job. Truth is that I have NEVER been unemployed for more than two weeks since I was sixteen and stared working at Nortel Lanes bowling alley in Monroe, MI.

As a young man I worked as a caddie during the summer when I was 13 - 15 to make money. Then once I turned sixteen I began working as a stock-boy, "runner" at Nortel Lanes. Since that time I have never not had a job. Even when I left the military in 1992, I found employment within days of leaving.

I have filled out in excess of 150 applications in either hard copy or on line format and while I have had three interviews for positions I have not gotten a job offer.

It is really terrifying because at this point I have exhausted my savings and I feel a bit like a slug. I have not been able to get unemployment at this point.

Wednesday afternoon I was at the unemployment office and I was talking to one of the workers there and expressing to her my frustration. She - very nicely - said to me that yeah - it's frustrating but you have to look at it from the prospective of the employer: "your "middle age" (43), have a lot of experience as a director and as a program coordinator and of course you are on probation as a result of the misdemeanor assault you pled guilty to so many of the employers would rather higher someone half your age for half the money". WOW - it wasn't encouraging but it was honest.

It's crazy - in the last three years America's unemployment rate has not been below seven percent. Not to mention the State of Michigan's rate has remained at or over ten percent for much of that time.

So - I am officially scared. I am trying to be as optimistic as possible but to be honest - each day is a struggle. I know that I have great things in my life to be thankful for and while I am thankful I am also cautious in known that unless I can find or create an opportunity in the very near future . . . . wow . . . like I said, I am scared.

Nortel Lanes:

Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Information on my Termination from the ALCC in Monroe: