Shiloh is about to be 22 months old. I have been meaning to write a post about now being a father of 2 for the last 22 months. This post is primarily for Shiloh. When she grows up and I am no longer around I want her to always know that her daddy loved her more than she could possibly know. Secondly, this post is for fathers who are about to have a new child. I hope that any fears of love will be alleviated by your reading of this.

How I felt when I learned we were having another baby

When my wife told me that we were having another baby I was happy, however as the months waned I would ask myself if I would be able to love another baby as much as I loved Margo. I went through all of these steps with Margo: infant to toddler, toddler – child, first steps, potty training, learning to speak, learning to feed herself… did I want to go through all of that again? I felt like I was starting at level 0 and didn’t know if I was ready for all of this all over again. Inevitably there is no choice in the matter, but when Shiloh was born those feelings simply went away.

Why Shiloh Hope?

My wife and I chose the name “Shiloh” because it was the name of a biblical city that was a central place where people would come to worship God. The name means “peace”. It is our hope that whoever Shiloh comes in contact with realizes that God created a special person in Shiloh and that her presence radiates God’s peace. There is an interesting attraction that Shiloh has. I have noticed that people just love to be around here. Without trying she is always the center of attention. When I pick her up from daycare there is always a group of kids around her wanting to play with her. At church she is loved by children also. Adults love to be around her as well. At home I must say she isn’t too peaceful with Margo at times, and I hope this changes. Shiloh can be really aggressive, but she is also really sweet and loving. It is a joy to be her daddy.

2 Kids?… What?

If you were to tell me 10 years ago that I would be the father of 2 kids I would not have believed you. I can honestly say that being the father of Margo and Shiloh has been the most challenging but also the most rewarding accomplishment of my life. God has blessed me with 2 really good kids and I look forward to being a father to both them for the rest of my life.

I can truly say that I have been blessed to be a software developer for 10 years.  the decade has flown by and my life has changed drastically in this time frame. I entered the field with lofty dreams but not really knowing what to expect. What I learned is that I am a hard worker who was willing to spend hours to figure out a problem. This is a trait that I developed due to adversity, and I think that this aspect of my character is what has kept me successful.

The Early Years

When I was a child I used to say that I wanted to be a computer programmer. I don’t remember the reasoning behind that ambition. Maybe it had to do with the number of hours spent playing video games or it could be because I was fascinated with my Uncle’s computer. Whatever the case, I was dead set on becoming a developer. Nearing the end of high school, I had a change of heart. I decided to study electrical and computer engineering. I struggled through assignments, quizzes, and exams. I just couldn’t keep up or understand what was going on. As a result, I ended up flunking out of University. Yup, I was embarrassingly put on academic suspension. I was devastated and felt like every bit of the failure that I was. I didn’t know what to do. But I learned a lot about myself and life during that time.

Knowing when something isn’t right for me

Electrical and computer engineering is an awesome program and profession; just not for me. During my studies I did really well in classes that involved writing code. I did horrible in my other classes. When I flunked out of the program my goal was to get back into it as soon as I could. I retook classes via continuing education night classes and I did better. However, I realised that this field was not for me. I needed to, as some people put it, “find myself”.

Finding a decent job when you are in your early 20s, black, and have no degree or diploma is really hard

During my stage of self discovery, I needed to find a job. I submitted resume after resume. I submitted application after application. I signed on with job agencies. I found next to no jobs. I was a high school graduate, certainly there was something out there that I could do that paid more than minimum wage… Nothing. A friend of mine, who also was out of school, found a job at a call center and told me that they were looking for some more people. I applied and was hired. I learned that selling things that I am not passionate about is not my strong suit. I was let go from that job after a couple of months.

I ended up getting another job, a summer position, that helped me to earn some dollars. I got this job through an agency so a percentage of the minimum wage that I earned went right back to them. I saved as much as I could, but these were hard times.

Volunteer

Clearly, I had a lot of free time on my hands that I needed to fill. I learned how to play guitar by ear, I became a master of NBA Live, and, best of all, I tinkered with web development. My church wanted to create a website, and not knowing a thing about html, I decided to volunteer my time and energy. With the help of a friend and the help of the internet we were able to create the first version of our website. I realized that this was something that I wanted to do.

Go Back to School

I found a program at Seneca college that offered Computer Programming and Analysis. There was a specialization in Java Internet Development, and that sounded like something that I wanted to do. I went through the application process
and was accepted. I started my post secondary career all over again with a renewed zeal. Academically I was among the top pupils of my class. My program had a co-op option that allowed me to get valuable work experience. I was able to work at Kraft Foods where my project was to present IBM AS400 data on the web. I got to briefly speak about it in a magazine article (my quote starts in the last paragraph of page 9 to 10).

After three years at Seneca I graduated near the top of my class. I had the opportunity to begin my career, but I wanted to fulfill the goal of finally earning a degree. I was able to attend Trent university and have my credits from Seneca applied toward my degree. My Seneca diploma was equivalent to two years of university credits in the honours computer science program. Maybe it was motivation from my previous failures, but academically I did quite well at Trent also. The summer before my final year I was able to get a job as a software developer at my father’s company. I remember my dad imploring me to do a good job so that I wouldn’t make him look bad. This was a great experience. I worked under the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and to this day if I ever need a reference he is happy to oblige. I really tried my best to go above and beyond there. I graduated with my Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science ready to take on the world.

Don’t Burn Bridges

I learned that wherever I go in this crazy industry the people that I work with, and my superiors remain important regardless of if I stay with same company or move to another one. Along my software development journey I have accumulated a list of great references. I worked for multiple companies, but I have always left companies on the best of terms. This aspect of my career has been key to my longevity in this business.

You’re going to be alright

There you have it. If you have flunked out of school, like I did, there is hope for you. Actually, it could be the best thing that happened to you, you just don’t know it yet. Stay positive and use this time to grow. One thing I didn’t mention is that I also used this time to grow spiritually. I know that everyone may not believe in a higher power that reveals life’s purpose, but this was key for me to break out of my state of melancholy.

If I can make it through, you certainly can too. Trust me, you’re going to be ok. Just get back to coding.

Photo by Drahomír Hugo Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

It’s 2008 and I graduated from university. My degree is in Computer Science but, after being hyped up on genealogy series, I really wanted to know the names and stories of people in my family tree. I started my family tree on familysearch.org. It’s a free service that is offered by the Church of Latter Day Saints, also know as the Mormon Church. The church collects historical records from all over the world. They do this because they believe that they can pray for the soul of a dead person and that person will gain salvation (http://www.pbs.org/mormons/etc/genealogy.html). I am a Christian, but I do not prescribe to those beliefs. However, the fact that they have this info and offer it for free to anyone wanting to find out about their genealogy is fantastic. I searched for the names of my Grandmother and Grandfather. I found nothing. Back to the drawing board…

How I finally found information

I spoke with my mother to see if she knew the maiden name of her mother. She did, but I still could not find what I was looking for an familysearch.org. I concluded that Jamaica is a third world country and that those records probably don’t exist… feeling dejected I resigned myself to believing that I would never find the information that I needed. Then one day the phone rang. My grandmother’s youngest sister called to speak with my mom. I was able to garner some great information from my grand aunt about her mother. Her name was Miriam McFarlane, and her story was very interesting to say the least, and I’ll be writing a post about her in the near future. Once I got this info I ran to familysearch.org and I met my great grandmother, and some of my grandmother’s siblings for the first time. I also, found my Grandmother and Great Grandmother’s birth certificates and the birth certificates of their siblings. Incredible! I was now hooked.

My great grandmother’s birth certificate via familysearch.org

I found out that my Grandmother’s parents were not married at the time when my Grandma was born. Due to this, she was listed with her mother’s last name. Once I realized this, I used the same method to find my maternal grandfather’s birth certificate and the names of his parents.

My great grandfather’s birth certificate via familysearch.org

I now had a method for searching for people in my family tree:

  1. If the person is not found with the name that you think that they should have, try using the maiden name of the mother as the child’s last name.
  2. If a birth certificate is found look at all of the names in the document. Many times, the witnesses are a member of the mother’s family. In my Grandmother’s case, the witness was listed as Evel Rankine, which in actuality was her father.
  3. Try to also find Church of England christening records. By the time the child is christened point 1 is usually corrected. Also, during those days families were quite large, and more than one child was christened on a specific day. Check the lines above and below your ancestor in the record book, you may find additional family members.
  4. Do an ancestry DNA test and connect with long lost cousins to garner more information. I did mine with MyHeritage.com, but I would recommend doing it with 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Both of those services have larger databases of people which equates to more matches.
  5. Check out the Legacies of British Slave-ownership website. Here you can find out information about slave owners from across the Caribbean.