Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Category Archives: For my family

Half full or half empty

I know I’ve been missing in action here for a while now. I struggle to come up with something worthwhile to say, but every day I don’t post here I feel a little more guilty, so this is as much to ease my guilt as it is anything else.

On paper this year is a big one for my wife and I. We both turn 50 (she does so first), and we also celebrate 30 years of marriage. All big numbers, but at the same time this is “just another year”… another year that we can enjoy life, another year that I am getting to spend my life with the one I love, my best friend, and another year where we will be taking time to enjoy this beautiful world we live in.

It’s also another year we get to spend with some of our loved ones living with us when my wife and I would be more than happy if they could finally manage to stand on their own two feet and move into places of their own. Instead we get to play supplemental parents for our two youngest grandkids, and get to be taken advantage of by two adults that should be capable of living their own lives without us.

My wife and I like to get out of the house and visit places that are special to us – partly because we enjoy doing so, but partly because we want to get out of the house and away from the noise and chaos that we thought we’d seen the end of when our youngest daughter became an adult. We’ve done our share of child rearing. While we love our kids and grand-kids to bits, the constant strain of having them living with us is pushing us close to breaking point.

In a similar vein, I’ve now been with my current employer for 14 years, which means with our economy the way it is I’ve seen that company have to do painful things to remain in business three times now as our economy cycles through good times to bad and back again… Each time I’ve been relieved to have kept my job, but each time I’ve felt guilty when I’ve seen some very good people have to go look for new employment at at time when good jobs can be hard to find.

Other members of our family back in England have seen our moderate success as an opportunity to take advantage too. Knowing we won’t say “no” to a family member in need, we have found ourselves digging deeply into our own contingency funds to help out folks who would rather turn to us to help maintain their over-committed lives than deal with their underlying problems themselves.

… and then there’s my photography. I love taking pictures, and technically I think I am getting better at it – I’m able to capture scenes that I actually enjoy looking at, and that other people enjoy looking at too, but while many tell me I should take this ability of mine to the next level and turn it into a means of generating income, a part of me doesn’t want the pressure, the hassle, and the possibility of failure, and is happy to keep photography as a hobby. Deep down I know I could make something more of it, but while I’m dealing with all the stresses of our home situation while maintaining my current position where I work, knowing that it is my income alone that is really supporting everyone in our house, I don’t want to risk all of that to pursue the possibility of commercial success with my photography… and so I remain trapped as a hobbyist photographer.

Is it bad to feel trapped by my kids and family? Knowing that my life, and more importantly my life with my wife, could be so much more were we able to live it without their constant presence has me feeling resentful towards them – not something I like to admit, but it’s where I am mentally right now.

My life is one where it really should be feeling half full, but right now it feels half empty, and it’s draining fast!


Separation anxiety

As if all the cr*p with our two youngest daughters isn’t enough to deal with (see last post), we find out today that our eldest daughter is separating from her husband, saying “we just don’t work as a couple”.

Being stuck the other side of the Atlantic Ocean makes it difficult to talk with them real-time, and while we don’t want to be trying to take control of their lives, we also don’t want to see them go through this without the ability to get the support from their parents if they feel they need it.

The good thing about distance is it stops you from meddling in the lives of your adult children… they are adults after all, and they need to sort out their own issues. The bad thing about distance though is that you can’t be there when they need you.

So as parents separated from our children (two of them at least), we have anxiety about their pending separation, and hope that they are able to “do the right thing” for all concerned.

Ingredients for a Perfect Valentine’s Day Weekend

Take the beautiful Pacific Coast scenery of Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel, Add a splash of sunset, a romantic inn, mix in a whale watching trip, some good food and drink, and top it all off with the company of the love of my life, then bake it all in the warmth of the California sunshine, and you have the recipe for a perfect Valentine’s Day weekend getaway.

Happy 18th Birthday Paula

Our little baby girl is not a baby any more.
She’s 18 now – an adult – finding what life has in store.
In our hearts she’s still our baby, 18 years have gone so fast
but our eyes have seen her grow into a woman unsurpassed.
She’s so full of love, so full of life, so full of fun and laughter.
She’s a really special person – must be her mum that she takes after.
At times we’ve had our issues; sometimes she’d drive us round the bend
but we can’t have done too badly, she’s turned out right in the end.
So to our youngest daughter Paula on this very special day,
we wish you love, long life and laughter (yes I know it’s a cliché).
There’s a world of opportunity for you to go explore,
but we’ll be right here if you need us – as it’s what parents are for.
With love
Mum and Dad XX

Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel yet?

It’s been a little while since I last did one of these – work and family life keeping me busy (as always)… so here’s a little update.
The economy is a mess, petrol (gas) is at its cheapest in over 4 years, and the world is heading towards a recession. At the same time life goes on. Our youngest daughter switched from basketball to join the high-school color guard. It’s something that her friends had been pushing her to do for some time, and so after some discussion and the passing of money to the school (as unlike basketball there’s a fairly sizable outlay for color guard) she joined the Amador Valley High School Color Guard for their 2008 performance season. When she joins in she’s good – she can spin and throw a flag with the rest of them, and as far as I am concerned she has a better sense of rhythm and placement than some of the other members of the troop (I’m her dad – I’ve a right to be a bit proud of her!).
So here’s the problem – she’s also fairly recently got a new boyfriend, and as with many young adults looking to find out who they really are, she’s become almost single-minded in her pursuit of her new love. She’s done what she can to be with him at every opportunity, up to and including lying not only to us (her parents) but also to her boyfriend’s parents, and her color guard teammates and coaches. She’s put her relationship above everything else, even to the point where her best friend (who sponsored her joining the guard) felt betrayed as a result of her actions. She was missing practice sessions to be with him, and lying to all concerned so she could do it. We’ve tried reasoning with her, we’ve grounded her for lying, we’ve removed her car privileges for repeatedly lying. After much heartache from all concerned we might at least have managed to make her realise that what she was doing was wrong, but her mind still seems focused on one thing.
We got her back into practice somewhat late in the season, and the band and color guard went on to score their highest ever competition score in the WBA championships that were held last weekend. The band and guard parents also organised a couple of special events for the senior members of the band and guard including a full sit-down banquet on the morning of the final. Photos are in the usual place – they put on an amazing performance, and deserved to win.
Anyway – she turns 18 in a little under two weeks but we’re still working through the aftermath of (and fallout from) her earlier behavior. As parents all we ask is that when she’s off somewhere that she let us know if plans change, but even after everything she’s been through she doesn’t seem to be able to manage that one simple request – it’s driving us crazy. She’s still lying to us, and when she’s not with her boyfriend she either hides away, or she makes it perfectly obvious that she doesn’t want us around. We had all sorts of ideas for things to do for her birthday but she wants none of it, so we’re going to go with her wishes and late suggestions and try and show her that despite recent events we do still love her.
All we hope is that she sees that how she is acting is hurting those who love her, and no matter how much love is there, some wounds can be very painful.
I know things will work out in the end – we’ve 2 daughters who have popped out the other side of this growing up phase as special women ready for the most part to face the world and we are proud of them both. The other two are making their way along the tunnel and will (sometime soon I hope) emerge from the other end as wonderful women that we will also be proud of. I just hope that there are no further mishaps along the way thought.