Family

Family

WHY?


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There is a question I’ve asked myself countless times, over and over but never with an answer. There are things I can think of but nothing I can pin down as the exact cause. Why am I getting divorced? I  thought about it in 2007 when I first thought it would be over then again in late 2008. Forward to 2014 and I’m to the point of no return, it’s done. Still the question is being asked in my mind several times a day.

As a man, and this may be true for other men as I suspect it is, when I am confronted with a problem my reaction is to find the answer and apply it accordingly. The key is being able to find the answer because without it you can’t solve the problem. When there is no obvious answer I begin to look inward and pick myself apart focusing on my own faults, things I’ve done and improvements I need to make. Self reflection is good. Self improvement is good. Thinking that by doing those things you will improve your standing with someone is not so good.

Back in 2007 I lost around 20 pounds the first time I thought I might divorce. The second time, a year later, I lost around the same and this time perhaps 10-15 pounds. It’s old hat, the impact is not the same but it still shakes me. The worry and stress of my family breaking apart has been really hard. Again this time I’ve gone the path of searching for the answer by looking at myself and blaming myself for this however I’ve been unable to solve this problem because I could never find the answer as to why.

Today I was talking to someone about this and I asked why. Their answer was,“Do you plan on spending the rest of your life wondering why? You should try to make friends with the unknown and your pain because you can’t be in a relationship with someone who wants out. Accept your reality. Prepare yourself physically, emotionally and financially for life without her. Stop asking why. Start asking what do you want now.” And “Accept you will never know why. This has been about her – not you.” 

In truth I have not been the perfect husband but I’ve worked really hard to be a better husband. I’ve put in the work, gotten the help. I’ve tried to reach out and connect but nothing I did would matter, I never felt like my efforts were appreciated and in the end they didn’t make a difference to her. Actually they made a huge difference. The difference is I am a better person as a result of self-reflection and my willingness to work at being better.

From this day forward I vow to never again ask myself why I am getting divorced. The point is moot. It’s time to move on and instead of asking why I will ask myself, what do you want now?

Family, Memories

50 Years


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As a home inspector I see details about people’s lives not generally shared with the public. It’s not my intention to pay attention to these details but sometimes they sort of speak to me. My focus is always on the job but I’m human, certain things have an impact.

The first time I became aware of this was while inspecting a foreclosure/short sale.  A short sale home is the result of the owners inability to meet their loan obligation so instead of having the home taken away from them by the lender they sell it at below cost. The first time I became “aware” was when inspecting a short sale home with clothes in the closets. One room was obviously a child’s room with toys and toddler clothes in the closet. I remember how I felt when I paused for a moment to consider the family who lost this home. My first thought was, “I wonder where they are now and I hope they are alright.”

I’m a family man with kids and a wife. That last part is only a legality now as the papers have been signed to dissolve those terms but still I consider myself a family man. When I enter a vacant home that was once occupied by a family I always wonder about them. It makes me sad at times.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I entered one of those recently vacated homes but by the looks of things you would think it was sealed off for the past 30-40 years because everything inside was so dated. The wallpaper was metallic with earthy tones like what you would see in a home build in the 60’s as this one was OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA. Some of the furniture matched the wallpaper. I laughed to myself more than once. The buyer said they had plans to gut most of the house and start over. I nodded in agreement. When you buy a house that’s what you do. The carpet, paint and sometimes the layout changes to fit your taste.

As I moved along the rooms inspecting this home I started to get an idea of who lived here. Like I said my intention is to inspect the home not spend my time figuring out what the people were like who lived there but it’s not easy to ignore some things. I am looking for material deficiencies so I’m focused on certain details past the cosmetic aspect. But because I am focused and looking for defects I see everything, it’s not possible to not see things.

There were pictures on the walls in some rooms of the previous occupants. The pictures were old, black and white, and based on what I could tell from the 40’s. I came to that conclusion because there were a couple of images of the gentleman in his military uniform from WWII. He was a pretty sharp-looking fella too. Then there was a large framed photograph in one room of his wedding day. They were both pretty sharp-looking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAcross the top of the photo were the words, “50 Years, Congratulations.” At once I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. I thought it was wonderful that these two were able to celebrate their 50 year wedding anniversary. I felt sad too that they were no longer alive and that one had passed on before the other. I thought about my grandmother who lost her husband a few years ago and my grandmother in law who celebrated her 50 year anniversary then lost her husband.  Then there was a moment of self pity in knowing I won’t celebrate a 50 year wedding anniversary. Even if I got re-married tomorrow I would be 93 in the year 2064.

After that I saw things in a different light. The old wallpaper and various items were the taste of this couple, he must have wanted things to remain the same. Her perfume and brush were still on the bathroom counter, he must have kept them there as a reminder of his late wife. The hospital bed had a knitted blanket on it, just like the blankets my grandmother in law knitted. He must have taken care of her in the later years as her health slipped away. The couple who spent their lives together through all the trials that life brings. I felt ashamed that I had laughed inside at the color of the furniture and wallpaper.

Family, Memories, Michigan, Nature, Photography, Vacation

Sunset


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Sunset

The sun setting on Lake Michigan. Our dog Otis on the beach making sure things are in order and the family safe for the night, he’s always so concerned about us. I miss this vacation, heck I miss all my vacations. This one was special though, the last family vacation. I think it’s going to always be that week I look back on and smile about. I knew going in it would be the last so the mood was bittersweet but I made the most of it.

Family, Parenting

What A Lucky Dad I Am


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  Growing up I was lucky. My parents divorced when I was one, that’s not the lucky part, but my dad was always in the picture. As a kid I was exposed to good men and bad men. I always considered my dad to be one of the good ones, hardworking, kind, made time for me and most of all an even guy. By an even guy I mean he was always calm in any situation, never over reacting and someone I never felt I could not trust. He wasn’t a disciplinarian but he was respected because of the things I listed.

  I wasn’t afraid of not doing what dad said because I thought there would be a punishment, I was afraid of not doing what he said because I respected him too much to do otherwise. That’s not to say I was a very well-behaved kid, far from it, but dad was the kind of guy you didn’t want to disappoint because you loved him so much.

 Lately I’ve been thinking about my relationship with my own kids, how it’s been over the years and what it’s like now. There are things I wish I could go back and change, yelling out of anger (dad never did that) or overreacting when they acted like kids. There’s no set in stone rule book for raising kids, I’ve tried different things with mixed results, but I do know there are things all kids need and that’s love, kindness and a role model. Someone needs to provide those last three things, mom and dad, mom or dad..or whatever. I’ve made spending time with my kids a priority and each day I’m so thankful that my career allows me to do that often. I’ve also worked hard at trying to be the things my dad was to me.

 Right now I’m lucky. I’m getting divorced, that’s not the lucky part, but the mother of my kids is an awesome role model who’s there for our kids. She’s a hard worker, even-tempered, and they trust her. Despite what’s happening to my marriage I know the kids are and will always be our priority. I’m thankful for that.

Family, Parenting

When nothing else seems to work.


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frustratedBefore I had any kids people would warn me about the terrible twos. It’s supposed to be the age when everything they say and do is done with the intention to drive you up the wall. It’s true, the terrible twos are terrible, but what about the terrible teenage years?

I’m a father of four kids, three of them being teenagers. These are the years when my kids have tried me more than ever because it’s during this time when they are the most opinionated. I remember those years thinking I knew it all. When you try so many ways of showing them consequence to action it’s easy to get frustrated when they get to the years when they just don’t care. It’s part of growing up I know. As a kid I was more than a handful and so in a way I guess this is payback for all the things I did.

As a parent you hear all kinds of methods for getting your kids to behave from smothering them with love to tough love. The thing is not all kids respond to all things same way. Sometimes taking away a favorite toy will work for one kid when noting seems to work for another. You have to find out what works.

KidsFighting3Today when I got home my 16-year-old told on the other two teenagers for tormenting the youngest. It’s a game they often play only because they think the reaction they get is funny. The youngest isn’t beyond overreacting which makes matters worse. The scenario plays out like this (15-year-old to 13-year-old) “HAAAHAAAA look at her hair, sticking up in the back like that.” (13-year-old) “Wow look at you with your hair it’s sticking up.” Not a particularly mean thing to say but then the reaction from the 11-year-old is, “SHUUUUT UUUUUUP LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” Said with the voice of a shrieking harpy and loud enough to cause structural damage to our home.

Last year I was discussing this issue with a Realtor friend and she gave me a fantastic idea I’d never really considered. She said, “When my kids are bad I put them to work.” It’s brilliant. I’ve taken away the Xbox, toys, iPod’s, computers, phones and just about anything I could think of. It got to the point when there was nothing left to take so then what? Chores are always in abundance. It’s the thing that never runs out and it works. Tomorrow they will act up because that’s what kids do but it won’t be like today. The chores will remain fresh in their minds for a few days then we will repeat the cycle.

Family, Memories, Nature, Photography, Vacation

Traverse City Michigan


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This winter has been brutal. I’m sure there are records that have been broken for consecutive cold days, possibly even snow accumulation. Right now it’s 12°F outside with winds at 30-40 MPH creating a wind chill of -10°F. When it’s this cold it’s almost impossible for me to keep my hands warm. I’ll be heading out the door in a couple of hours spending a little time outside working and freezing.  

Traverse City - Bass Lake 2008
Bass Lake

Back in 2008 we stayed in a little cabin on Bass Lake in Traverse City. The cabin was a small two bedroom with a loft that would accommodate two children but only if they were small. It was comfortable enough but not quite large enough for a family of six. We knew that would be our last visit there because of the size of the place.

Luckily is was right on a lake but it wasn’t really one of those lakes where you wanted to jump right it. It was an inland lake, mucky and dark so you couldn’t see the bottom. There was some sand but mostly it was just muck. Still the kids went out and played on the shore each day as the water was warm and peaceful the entire week. In the end it was a great vacation. We hung out at the cabin a day or two and then explored the area. That was the first year we went to The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive .

Our search each year was always to find a spot on a nice beach. I would obsess for days at a time looking for the perfect spot. Actually I always tried to get a secluded spot on water, preferably with a nice sandy beach and clear water. We had some hits and misses over the years but eventually we did find that very spot in Good Hart a few years later where we stayed for a week in 20011 and again in 2013. I doubt I’ll ever see the cottage again but I have some awesome memories captured in images and video.

Good Hart - 2011
Good Hart 2011
Family, Memories, Photography, Vacation

Hello


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Hello reader. My name is Vince. I’m 43,  self-employed, love the outdoors and am a father of two boys and two girls. I’m getting a divorce.

So just like that you put it out there. One of my favorite bloggers puts it out there and I’m glad he does because his journey has been inspirational and has helped me. Thank you for sharing it. For the first time I will kind of put it out there like that.

But it feels strange to say the last part. Not because I’m embarrassed by who might see it or ashamed that I could not keep my family together, rather I don’t want that last part to define me. It’s true I’m getting divorced but it’s not who I will be. I won’t be the divorced guy with kids. Alright so for a while as I pick myself up I will be just that. You don’t spend 20 years with someone, lose them, then not be that for a while at least.

2004 Ludington Michigan. The boys running to the water.
2004 Ludington Michigan. The boys running to the water.

This morning I was looking at pictures stored on an external hard drive and I came across one from the summer of 2004. It was on a trip north and the first time we all went to Ludington as a family. My kids were ages 6, 5, 4 and 2. When I type that out I think “wow how do you do that?” Well the answer is obvious but still I can’t imagine being pregnant for that long..like back to back.

Looking at the photos from that vacation I can’t believe how much my kids have grown. They went from not even being in school to having two in high school and two in middle school, I want to hit the brakes. My mother always told me I was growing up too fast but as a kid that’s all I wanted to do. Now I get it. With kids, ten years brings so many changes. You do see them grow up so quickly.

Over the years I’ve documented life in journals and photographs. I go back to them periodically. Sometimes I dwell on the past but mostly I go there to remember. So many of those memories are awesome I know I’ve really been fortunate over the years to have this family and create the memories. Things of course were not always great or even good but I always believed they could and should be better. There was never a time when I gave up that hope, always willing to work at it.

Regrets

-When our first child was born I thought the right thing to do was to work opposite shifts. That way one parent could be home with him at all times. Kids need their parents right? Over the years we become passing strangers handing off the children then heading out the door. That was a bad plan. Couples need to spend time together. I regret that.

-When I was introduced to the church she knew growing up, I was fascinated by what I heard there. Here was something that seemed to be solid. An element that was missing from my life.  A foundation that I could build my life on and ensure my family would be happy and in harmony. In truth it burned me out, I just got so tired. I became angry and frustrated then controlling. It’s never fair to set expectations for a person that you can’t even attain yourself. Expectations can be a dangerous thing that should be used with caution. I didn’t realize that and I regret it now. I’m sorry for expecting her to be a certain way and not listening to what was happening.

-The distance caused by those years. The sadness I felt was not expressed appropriately. As a child I used anger to escape my surroundings. All the things I faced then were, in my mind, made bearable by being angry. If I was angry nothing could touch me. With anger you don’t need other feelings, a security blanket even if a poor one. I used that blanket as an adult. It wasn’t an anger that made me say hateful things or hurt people but it was there. My anger prevented me from opening up and saying I was hurting inside. By the time I got it under control, with help, it was too late. The defensive wall had been built up years before and I would never be able to reach her.

Grateful 

-For most of my marriage I made less money. I’m not at all saying that’s wrong or that somehow a man is less of a man because his wife makes more bread. I never felt less of a man and she never made me feel that way because of that fact. But I watched how she worked her way up the ladder, always moving forward and always excelling at each task. It has been quite inspirational. She opened my eyes to something different. The desire to excel and reach. Without that I would not be where I am now in business. I’m grateful for that.

-As a kid I always hoped to one day find a wife. She would be someone who had a good childhood and we would get along really well in our house. The house would have good food in it and a no fighting rule. We would hang out at the park and spend time together being happy. She would smile at me and I would hug her then we’d eat sandwiches. That’s what I thought as a kid. Lucky me I got that. Even when things turned she tried. I remember it well.

-There are things that happen in life that change you. They change you and open your eyes in ways you never imagined. When she gave birth to our fist child it opened up my heart. He was on the table and looked up at me. My heart melted and instantly there was a love I never experienced. That was an amazing feeling. I got to experience that four times. I’m so grateful for my kids.

I’m only 43 years old and if I live as long as my grandparents I have not even lived half of my life yet. My choice is to continue to be a hard worker and to make myself better, spend time outdoors and be a father of four. I will not always be the guy who got divorced.

Family, Memories, Vacation

Mood Ring


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Mood RingOver the summer on our trip north we visited a couple touristy locations where gift shops sell cheap souvenirs mostly marketed to kids. For the most part I was able to avoid these stores but this time there was no escaping the glitter. You had to enter the store to buy a ticked for the dune ride then wait twenty minutes or so. We browsed the shelves for a while. Interesting how the shelves in this particular store were no more than four feet tall full of plastic toys and shiny rocks. I couldn’t blame my kids for going crazy, kids like sparkle.

After a little begging I agreed to let each kid buy one thing. My youngest picked a mood ring. While on the dune ride she held up her hand and said, “look dad, I’m happy!” That made me happy. I didn’t tell her green was the default color because it didn’t matter. This little girl is happy by default.