A Year Of Change

For me, 2017 started in a very stressful, dark way. The photos I posted of the party with my friends is only what I put out there. It was not the whole truth of the night… not even remotely. You see, I was in an abusive relationship. I had made it clear I wanted to spend that time with the guy I was seeing, but when he refused, I decided to spend time with my friends. So in return, he was blowing up my phone with absurd, wildly inaccurate accusations, insults, and shaming for enjoying a night without him, and more so, a night with people other than him. I was miserable. And yet I allowed it to continue.

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Happy New Year! 2017

A month later, in February, I lost the job I loved as a Veterinary Assistant. I had finally been able to get to the cause for my chronic hip pain, and a diagnosis of a permanent and progressive condition (hip dysplsia) was enough for my boss to fire me. Legal? Probly not. It was discrimination for a disability. Especially since I had requested a very reasonable and possible accommodation and was refused.  But the fact was, I couldn’t do the job the same anymore. I couldn’t be on my feet for 8 hours, and so I was let go to pursue other avenues.

At the end March I had my first skin removal surgery, my Panniculectomy, followed by a 6-week recovery period. During my healing process I was actively looking for a job, including attending several interviews. All I could really find where I didn’t have to be on my feet all day was office work. Tele-sales, mostly. I interviewed at 3 or 4 different places and none of them offered me a job, saying I needed direct sales experience. After just so long, and so many refusals, I started widening my options. I started applying at places I’d have to stand but could be accommodated. Pizza Hut was one of those places. I figured being a delivery driver, not only would I be able to sit (driving) most of the time, but I could also be outside, and not have to stay in a stuffy building day after day.

In June I was hired by Pizza Hut as a driver, which is where I’m still working today. It’s a fun, laid-back atmosphere most days. The management isn’t too strict, and the majority of the customers are pretty chill. I definitely have the flexibility to accommodate the hip pain and still earn a paycheck, and that’s what matters to me.

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Me, at the Freedom Rally – July 2017

In July, after months of persuading him, I was allowed to go to the Freedom Rally with the guy I was seeing.  The rally itself was a blast, but it was then I finally realized I needed to get away.  Why it took me nearly a year for that to actually click in my head, I’m not sure.  But it was then that it did.  I deeply enjoyed the weekend – the atmosphere, the bikes, the concerts, and everything else the rally had to offer.  But I knew that when the weekend was over, it was time to start planning the end of that relationship.  It took me a few weeks to finally build up the nerve to do it because I knew he would be very harsh, loud, threatening, and insulting…. but one night in August I told him it was over, and that he needed to move out.  It was a very dramatic 3-4 days, but once all of his stuff was moved out, I was free to be myself again, and my boys were free to be themselves again.  A big sigh of relief.

The next day, I confessed my attraction to a co-worker of mine…. one I had been talking to and building a very strong friendship with.  That co-worker just happened to be Jarrod – so as you can see, that turned out well!  🙂 In less than 10 days of non-stop texting and spending every waking moment together (which was a lot because we couldn’t shut up long enough to sleep much), we ran off to Colorado and got married.  Our families and friends really didn’t get it, and they likely still don’t, but we both KNEW within the first 48 hours that we were meant to be together.  We’ve never been so sure of anything in our lives.

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Just Married!

When we got back from Colorado, I had another skin removal surgery.  This time a revision of my Panniculectomy and a breast reduction.  And then Jarrod and his 3 daughters moved in with me and my 3 sons.  Over the last 4 months its been an interesting set of challenges blending our families.  And though there will likely always be some sort of “us vs. them” mentality between the boys and the girls, it is certain all 6 of the kids can see the love and respect Jarrod and I have for one another, and that has brought about a level of acceptance that has made everyone settle in pretty well.

Our families have now celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas together.  Blended.  Successfully, with very little opposition.  No big arguments.  No family feuds.  And now we are about to end 2017, and begin 2018 together.  A new year.  New challenges and goals.  A new chapter.

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Thanksgiving 2017

The year started off dark and hopeless, and has ended completely the opposite – bright and hopeful!  My family has doubled in size, and the man I am sharing my life with is my best friend.  We laugh together, dream together, complain about the same stuff together, plan for our future together, and spend every waking (and sleeping) moment by each other’s side.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Other happenings in 2017:
– Surgery on my back to remove a lump
– Traveled to St. Augustine, FL, and back home north through Ohio and back west to Iowa, hitting 14 states en route.
– Attended a Pop Evil Concert
– Got my voodoo doll tattoo (by Barron @ Hot Rod’s in Newton, IA)
– Moved back to Newton out of Otley
– My friend Amber got veeery sick, but then got better after a couple months.
– I had a Panniculectomy (tummy tuck)
– Attended a Highly Suspect concert
– Attended a Def Leppart / Tesla / Poison concert
– Threw Andy a birthday party – age 15!
– Attended a Stone Sour concert
– Got hired at Pizza Hut
– Attended the Freedom Rally
– Threw Evan a birthday party – age 13!
– Took the boys to Adventureland
– Set off our own fireworks legally on the 4th of July
– Threw a birthday party for Cory – age 12!
– Witnessed a solar eclipse.
– Ended a very bad relationship.
– Attended the Rocky Horror Picture Show reunion
– Traveled to Colorado and saw the Rockies for the first time AND…
– Fell madly in love and got married to the best man ever!
– Became a grandma!
– I had a Panniculectomy revision (tummy tuck again), and a breast reduction
– Went to Chicago with Jarrod for an entire weekend for RiotFest
– Also in Chicago, visited the Gallagher house (Shameless)
– Got matching tattoos with Jarrod
– Started dreadlocks
– Took Evan to his first concert to see Hollywood Undead
– Got a Halloween tattoo (and so did Jarrod)
– Took all the kids trick-or-treating
– Went to a Highly Suspect concert again. 🙂
– Hosting a very LARGE family Thanksgiving
– Attended a Seether concert
– Spent weeks planning Christmas gifts for the family and making the purchases.
– Started this joint blog with my dear hubby
– Celebrated not only one, but TWO successful Christmases with our whole family
– I got my lip pierced twice (snakebites)
– And finally…. NYE at home with the family!

Christmas 2017

I believe the line between childhood and adulthood is very clearly defined: the year that you find yourself no longer being excited about Christmas, you are officially an Adult.  Some people never stop being excited, and I kinda envy them.  For me, it was around the age of 19 or 20.  I’ve always been able to derive some enjoyment out of getting my kids presents that they’ve been wanting and then seeing their reactions as they open them on Christmas morning, but other than that, I find Christmas to be overly commercialized, and just generally a little too invasive.  The inescapable Christmas music alone is enough to make you want to rip your ears off.   If you’re a person who isn’t all that fond of Christmas, this entire time of year is pretty annoying.

But just because I’m a bit of a grinch doesn’t mean that I want to spoil my kids’ enjoyment of the holiday.  They’ll either get jaded like me on their own, or they won’t…it’s up to them.  I simply try to provide the best Christmas I can for them every year, and if I can do that, I feel like I’ve done my job.  This was the first Christmas together for Shauna and I, and I think we did a good job of pulling it off.  We each brought our own traditions to the table, and we were able to merge them pretty successfully.  We certainly had a bit of adversity along the way, but we powered through.  Christmas 2017 in the Hesse/Lane household was a pretty memorable one.

Early in our relationship, Shauna and I talked about our respective opinions on Christmas, and what our families usually do to celebrate the holiday.  I was pleased to find that Shauna had pretty much the same thoughts on Christmas as I do; if anything, she may even be a little more anti-Christmas than I am.  It might even have been the very thing that made me realize I must marry this woman.  Anyway, as time went on, we found ourselves having all the conversations that parents have to have: how much to spend on each kid, how to get each kid more or less what they want without breaking the bank, which day to do what with which persons family, etc  We finally settled on spending spending Christmas Eve with Shauna’s family, and Christmas day with mine.  As for presents for the kids, we had them do Amazon wishlists (not everyone got on board with this, but we improvised as best we could), and we ordered everything online in one fell swoop.

Which brings me to the aforementioned adversity.  During the process of ordering gifts online, our card was somehow hacked into and someone used our bank account to make a purchase for airline tickets.  I’ll spare you the horrific details, but a trip to the bank, many, many phone calls, and a vicious barrage of insufficient funds penalties later, we finally have the situation fixed (the bank is still conducting their investigation; I suppose they could still find that Shauna and I felt the need to book a flight to scenic Iraq this holiday season, but I feel confident that they won’t, since we obviously didn’t).  In any event, with this ridiculous situation finally resolved, we finalized our plans and commenced with Operation: Christmas.

Shauna and I had to work Christmas Eve, but we were able to leave early (we weren’t really “able to”, we just did).  Soon after getting home, Shauna’s mom, stepdad and sister arrived, and we all went to Panda Garden, our local Chinese buffet.  Shauna’s family has a tradition of having Chinese food at Christmas, a tradition I found it quite easy to get on board with, as I enjoy eating in general, and Chinese food in particular.  My 3 daughters, on the other hand, thought it a bit odd, but judging from the loud, fun atmosphere at our table, I think they had a great time.  We left at the perfect time, considering we were likely moments from getting forcibly ejected due to an impromptu ice cream fight that erupted right at the end of our meal.  We went home and and had our gift-shredding-open session; everyone seemed to be very happy with what they received, and Shauna and I looked at each other with a sense of relief and satisfaction that, despite everything, we had pulled it off.  We ended the night by playing games into the wee hours, finally going to bed around 2 or so.

The next day we gave the kids their stockings, and loaded into the ol’ Explorer to head to my brothers house in Iowa City.  The last few years the kids and I have had our Christmas festivities there; Jason and his husband Mark enjoy hosting everyone, and it’s usually about the only time of the year I get to see them.  Jason, much like myself, isn’t a fan of traditional holiday food (turkey, stuffing, etc.), so instead he cooks a variety of pastas, and does something of an Italian buffet.  Which, not unlike my kids and the Chinese food, Shauna and her boys found a little odd, but, also not unlike the Chinese food, they seemed to really enjoy.  In particular, Jason makes this cheese bread that’s capable of bringing about world peace, and perhaps even ending world hunger, considering how much of it he makes.  After eating, we all opened presents, and headed home.

So our first Christmas as a married couple and a blended family is in the books.  Just today, Shauna and I took down the tree, and packed it away until next year.  In some dusty, forgotten corner of my mind,  there still exists the love of this time of year that was much more front and center when I was a child, and while the stresses and cynicism of adulthood have taken their toll, I still get a little melancholy knowing that Christmas is over for another year.  Technically, Shauna and I still have a mini-Christmas to look forward to; we dedicated all of our available resources to giving the kids a good holiday, and decided to wait a couple months to get gifts for each other.  We’ll probably shoot for sometime in February, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about when that happens.  For now, I’m completely content knowing that I have an amazing wife, and an awesome family, and I say that’s the best Christmas gift of all.

 

 

Shauna’s 30 Days of Thankful

So, in November I did the 30 days of thankful on my Facebook profile.  I got behind a couple times, but I did end up doing every single day.  I thought I’d just compile them here all in one place:

IMG_1340Day #1 – I am thankful for my sons. These wonderful humans that made me a mother. Every single one of them is so unique, individual, loving, intelligent, and amazing. My life is so rich, having them be a part of it.

Day #2 – I am thankful for my vehicle. With such a big family, with all our appointments and the need for rides to school and work, it’s VERY needed. I’ve gone times in my life without wheels, and having them makes life so much easier.

Day #3 – I am thankful for my bird, Snickers. I never thought myself to be a bird person, but when she decided I was her human, it opened a whole new part of pet-human companionship that I had never experienced. I love it!

Day #4 – I am incredibly thankful for my husband. We had both been through a lot of bad relationships when we found each other, which made our appreciation for one another so much more! He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be without him. I love you so much, Jarrod!

Day #5 – I am thankful for the internet. It seems like a pretty broad thing to be thankful for, but without it I wouldn’t have met many of my friends who I have contact with every day, and I wouldn’t know about most of the goings-on in the world around me.

Day #6 – I am thankful for TV/film entertainment. I have watched way too many TV shows and movies to count, resulting in days, weeks, even months of my life of entertainment. Its been a way to bond with people, have things to talk about together or something to do together. Its also been a good way to entertain myself when I’m alone. They have taught me lessons about life, opened my mind to new ideas, or just made me laugh.

Day #7 – I am thankful to have my freedom of speech. To be able to say what I want not only on public forums, but within my family, group of friends, and in my own home. I hold some pretty controversial opinions on some topics, and a lot of my beliefs are not mainstream whatsoever. I am thankful to be able to be myself, without fear.

IMG_0058Day #8 – I am thankful for our new washer and dryer. Never have new appliances been so needed or appreciated in my home. We had used ones for years, and they never worked the way they should, with the most recent ones leaking water everywhere all the time. Thanks to a rent-to-own place, we were able to get a brand new pair and they are heavenly!

Day #9 – I am thankful that I have been able to make it to about 96% of all my kids’ events. Whether they were sports games, concerts, parent-teacher conferences, meetings, etc. Not all parents are able to take time away from work or other obligations to be able to do so. I am very grateful to have been able to.

Day #10 – I am thankful for my mom. Since birth she has been my best friend. She has taught me how to be a woman… she’s taught me how to be independent, how to stand up for myself and do what’s right. How to follow my own dreams, and also how to be an awesome mom, myself. Along with a million other things I could never possibly list here. Thank you for giving me life, mom!

Day #11 – I am thankful for the opportunity to be a step-mom. It’s an opportunity I’ve never had before. It’s not always easy, but I love it! Zoey, Autumn and Willow are all such beautiful, individual, and unique young ladies, and I’m proud and blessed to be a part of their lives.

Day #12 – I am thankful for my job. I may hate it sometimes, and I may feel under-appreciated. But I get to work with Jarrod (which we both LOVE), and I get to deliver rather than being stuck in a building during my shifts. Not to mention, time away from home is sometimes much needed, as I’ve discovered these last few years of no longer being a stay-at-home-mom.

Day #13 – I am so very thankful for the blessing of being in Malia’s life pretty much from the start. I never dreamed I’d be a grandma so early (and I’m glad it’s not my young boys that made me that way), but I am so very blessed to have a beautiful, cheerful, amazing granddaughter. And of course to call her momma my step-daughter.

Day #14 – I am thankful for being able to go see my favorite bands LIVE in concert. Seeing live shows is so much better than listening to music on the radio or iTunes. Seeing the passion for the music in the band members and the fans is priceless. Jarrod and I are going to see a sold out Highly Suspect show tonight, which I’ve had the tickets for since July, and I’m so excited to see them again!!

Day #15 – I am thankful for independence from others. Depending on others has very rarely ever turned out in my favor, so having independence now, Jarrod and I together, is quite refreshing. All our bills, utilities and expenses are 100% covered by US now, no one else.

Day #16 – Jarrod is getting a second day of thankfulness from me. We have been through a LOT these last few days, and rather than take that stress and turn on each other, we have stuck together and become a stronger team, he and I against the world. That kind of amazing strength and dedication deserves its own mentioning and recognition. Jarrod, you are absolutely amazing. I am so thankful for you, and I love you.

Day #17 – I am thankful for my newfound ability to laugh at myself.  I was far too uptight and wrapped up in my anxiety and self-esteem issues, for far too long.  Now I feel confident and content with life and am able to find humor in the things I do.

Day #18 – I am thankful that I no longer feel obligated to make wither gift-giving a big deal.  I made an agreement with my boys a few years ago that we will celebrate big for birthdays and go smaller for “Christmas.”  Takes the burden off the winter budget and gives everyone their own special day.  Its perfect for us all.

Day #19 – I am thankful to have a great big bathtub!  I have never been one to enjoy baths all that much, but since I lost weight AND have a big bathtub, it’s quite relaxing.  I love it!

Day #20 – I am thankful for the changing seasons.  I don’t like midwestern winters, but the colors of the falling leaves in Autumn, the blankets of fresh, white snow on the ground (seeing it out my window), and the fresh newness of emerging leaves and flowers in the spring are pretty great to witness.  All things I’ll likely miss once I move to a warmer climate.

Day #21 – I am thankful for my mother-in-law, Connie.  Not only did she raise the wonderful man who became my husband, but she is also always so generous and helpful, and awesome grandma, and a great cook!

Day #22 – I am thankful for the team of people, professional, family, friends, and even online strangers, who have supported me for the last 22 months of my weight loss journey.  I was able to go from a very unhealthy weight, where I couldn’t even tie my shoes very easily or walk across my home without losing my breathe, to being so comfortable in my own body that I could go for a job (if only my hips would allow me to do so), and wear a 2-piece swimsuit in public.  It’s been a short and drastic change, and I’m still adjusting, but I feel SO MUCH BETTER, and I’ll be forever thankful for all the support I’ve had.  I couldn’t have done it without.

Day #23 – I am so very thankful for the entire family!  We had quite a large turnout today for our Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful for each and every one who came to share the day and good food.

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Day #24 – I am thankful for the times we get to spend together as a family.  As the kiddos become teenagers, they want less and less family time, and more independence.  So the times we have all together are precious.

Day #25 – I am thankful for the education I have gotten from school, from life experiences, and from research I’ve done myself.  I am ever-curious about the things that affect my life and the lives of those I’m closest with, and I’m thankful to have the brain power to be able to learn about and understand those things.

Day #26 – I am thankful for all the bad times, trauma, and sickness I have experience and been around.  If it wasn’t for the bad times, I wouldn’t see the priceless value in all the good in life.

Day #27 – I am thankful for the ability to pay my bills and support my family.  It has not ever been easy for me, but I finally was able to get past enough of my anxiety to hold a job and contribute more than I ever thought I would.  I am also thankful for those who have helped me along the way, during the times I was unable to help myself.

Day #28 – I am thankful for the awesome weather!  Having an extended autumn is great, as I really dislike the cold of winter.  It’s been great to be able to do my job, run errands, and do yard work without freezing!

Day #29 – I am thankful for all the family and friends I have lost… thankful for the time I was blessed with, with them.  There have been some amazing people who have left this life far too early, and I learned quite a lot from each and every one of them, both in their lives, and in the loss of them.  Their memories with be forever treasured.

Day #30 – I am thankful for my life.  ALL of it.  The good, the bad.  The troubles, the joys.  The friends, lovers, enemies, haters, the best and the worst of times.  All of my experiences have molded me into person I am today, and I love the woman I have become.