Category Archives: The Two Of Us

Stories related to the two of us as a couple – just Jarrod and Shauna.

The Reversal

I could razzle dazzle you with all manner of linguistic gymnastics to explain why I haven’t written a new blog in literally months, but it would just be an elaborate smokescreen, you see, to obscure the truth, which is that I was simply too lazy to write one.  There has no been shortage of things to write about, as you will soon see, and in fact the sheer volume of goings-on around here is proving a little overwhelming; it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, and so much has transpired in the meantime, that I’m not altogether sure how to tackle this thing.  I guess we’ll figure it out, or not, together.

I’m going to try to keep this particular post contained more or less to one subject, because otherwise it’s doomed to become an unwieldy, lumbering behemoth.  Besides, there are many things, good and not so good, happening around here, all of which are worthy of their own post.  Throwing too much into this one would just dilute their individual significance.  I know better than to promise anything with regards to how frequently I’m going to write new posts, but I will say that I INTEND to write more often, and give all these things the attention they deserve.  For now, I’m sure you will be delighted to know that the subject of this one will be the loose, dangly collection of objects I carry around with me wherever I go: my testicles.

You see, on the way back from Colorado (where we got married, you’ll remember), Shauna and I discussed at length what it would be like to have kids together.  It really just amounted to a fun conversation to help pass the time during the long car ride; after all, we had both had the necessary procedures to prevent us from ever being able to have more kids.  In order for us to have kids together, it would involve both of us having surgeries to reverse those procedures, which would involve a lot of money, travel, and recovery time…at the end of which we would have diminished odds of actually conceiving, anyway.  We ended the conversation by basically saying sure, it would be awesome to have kids together, but we simply met each other too late in life for that to happen.  The subject didn’t really come up again until this spring, when we were laying in bed and one or the other of us said something, and the other one said something back, and next thing you know we were on a plane to North Carolina to get Shauna’s tubes untied.

We scheduled my vasectomy reversal at a clinic (brilliantly named “The Reversal Clinic”) in the town of Muskogee, Oklahoma – a town immortalized in the classic song “Okie From Muskogee” by Merle Haggard.  Because of my love for this song, I had high hopes that we were headed for a town where even squares can have a ball; where they still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, and where white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all.  Instead, we drove into this shithole town during one of the most vicious rainstorms I’ve seen in all my born days, and the only bad thing about that is that the whole town didn’t get washed out to sea in the process.  There were so many things to dislike about the city of Muskogee, OK that for me to dig too deep into it would threaten to overtake this entire post, but suffice it to say that, you know, maybe don’t go there.  Unless you want a cheap vasectomy reversal.

Anyway, my surgery was done by one Dr. Wilson, who was kind of a weird guy, and in fact the whole experience was kind of weird.  Shauna and I walked into the clinic to find not a single soul to greet us, but instead a note saying someone would be with us soon.  Eventually Dr. Wilson showed up, got me checked in, then retreated to the back to put on scrubs and get the procedure underway.  This seemingly one-man operation did not immediately feel me with confidence that my nards were about to literally be in the hands of a qualified professional, but I decided to go with the flow because YOLO, I guess.  I was awake for the procedure (a local anesthetic was used to numb the area) and Shauna was allowed to be in the room with me.  From her vantage point she was able to see a lot of what was going on (I, thankfully, could not).  Fortunately she has a healthy curiosity and interest in such things and the sight of my scrotum flayed open like a butterflied pork chop didn’t gross her out.  The whole thing took about 90 minutes or so, and then we were on our way.  Dr. Wilson, I salute you, wherever you may be.AFE93127-DABE-40FE-9DA8-D683465B8A6E (1)

We stopped at a pharmacy to pick up a couple prescriptions, and then went to the bed and breakfast where we were to spend the night.  It was good, not great; by Muskogee standards it was probably the Ritz, but Shauna and I are from Newton, IA where perfection is demanded and bullshit of any kind is NEVER tolerated.  The next morning we got on the road and headed home.  The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot.  We’re both realistic about our expectations…and to be sure, they are tempered a bit by other things going on, particularly health issues that Shauna is currently dealing with.  Now that I’m more or less healed, I can absolutely say that I am incredibly happy that Shauna and I went through all of this.  It was pretty overwhelming at times (the general tone of this post doesn’t really let you know some of the actual anguish we had to go through to make all of this happen, but as they say, we laugh so that we don’t cry).  I’m glad it’s all done, I’m beyond excited to be able to have another kid (or kids), and there is no one on Earth who I’d rather go on this journey with.  Shauna…you are amazing.

Reversed

Jarrod and I got married very quickly.  Within 10 days of making our relationship official, we had run off and eloped without telling many people until it was already done.  In the days leading up to our marriage, the entire trip there and back, and the months since then, we have discussed the possibility a few times of having more children.  The first couple times it came up, we knew we wanted to have a baby together, but we also knew our relationship was very new, and we needed to have some experiences and life together before we made any more life-changing, permanent decisions.  Not to mention our 6 kids needed to live together and get to know each other as well.  Lots of changes occurred all at once, and we all needed time to adjust to that new life as a family.

Earlier this year, the topic came up again, and Jarrod and I really got into the details of it all.  We talked about how having a baby of our own would affect our relationship, our kids, our careers, and all other aspects of our lives.  We discussed how we both yearned to have a baby together, in a stable and healthy relationship where we would share parenting responsibilities 50/50.  We know we are a great team in the other aspects of our life together, and we decided we would be amazing parents together to a new baby.  Not to mention the great help we would have from the six older siblings!

The problem with this plan: I got a tubal ligation when I had my youngest son Cory back in 2005 (a decision I regretted immediately).  And Jarrod had a vasectomy a few years ago when he and his ex wife divorced.  So, I started doing research to get those surgeries reversed.  Within a few days of starting the research, I had applied at 3 tubal reversal clinics with my surgical report and medical history.  I was denied by one place because of previous c-sections and scar tissue.  I never heard back from one.  And the place that accepted me was the one I wanted to go to anyway – lucky me!!  For Jarrod’s reversal, there really was no acceptance process since vasectomies are typically all done about the same.  We just chose a reputable place closer to us at an affordable price.

And that, my friends, is why we went to North Carolina this week!  I think everyone was just under the impression we went on a small vacation.  But really, it was for my tubal ligation reversal surgery.  The rest of this post will be about the story of our trip, so read on to know how it all went!

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Greeting from hotel staff upon arrival to our room, our pin in the patient map, me ready for surgery, and the clamps from my Fallopian tubes.

Jarrod and I flew out to Raleigh, North Carolina to go to A Personal Choice‘s surgeon Dr. Charles Monteith.  When we arrived in Raleigh, we checked into our studio suite at Hyatt House, which we got for a very reasonable discounted rate through A Personal Choice.  The room was absolutely amazing.  The bathroom had a very large walk-in shower, it had a very comfy king sized bed, and there was a living room area with a couch and TV, and a full kitchen complete with stove, microwave, fridge with freezer and dishwasher!  The neighborhood was urban, but new and clean.  There was plenty to do right within walking distance.  Movies, restaurants, entertainment, and even a pharmacy for my post-op pain meds.  To get to my appointments, there was a driving service set up through the clinic.  I was able to get rides back and forth to my pre-op consultation on Tuesday, my actual surgical procedure on Wednesday, and my post-op check up on Thursday through their service.  They were prompt and courteous, and made Jarrod and I both feel important.

On Tuesday, my pre-op consultation was pretty simple.  I got all checked in with my ID and a few remaining papers to sign, as most of the paperwork had already been done from home with their guidance.  Jarrod and I met with a couple nurses and Dr. Monteith himself, and we had the procedure explained to us.  Then we went back to the hotel and found a few things to do to keep busy.  We went out for supper, and went to a movie, and enjoyed the much warmer weather.

On Wednesday morning I checked in at 8:45 am for outpatient surgery, and was released around 12:30 pm.  It was a very quick, easy process.  All of the nurses, anesthesiologist, and doctor were very knowledgeable and proficient in the process.  It was like clockwork.  As I was being prepped for the operating room, I was given a pin to put in the patient map.  Jarrod was given detailed instructions on how to take care of me postoperatively, and was even tested on it when I was in recovery.  As I was getting dressed and preparing to be released, they let us see the clamps that had been on my Fallopian Tubes, but they wouldn’t let us keep them.

Once back to the hotel room, Jarrod and I ordered lunch through GrubHub and just layed in bed and watched TV most of the day.  At on point we went and sat on the patio outside because I didn’t want to miss the delightful weather.  At supper time we ordered in Italian food and Jarrod ran to the pharmacy and rented a couple of Redbox movies to keep us entertained.  Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep that night more than just a few minutes here and there, though the pain really wasn’t too bad at all.  It just felt like bad menstrual cramping.

On Thursday morning we got up, got our stuff all packed up and ready to go home, and took advantage of the Hyatt House’s complimentary hot breakfast buffet, which was delicious!  Then we went to my post-op appointment where they changed my bandage and made sure I was set to travel back home.  I was okay until we spent several hours in airports and airplanes… by the time we got home I was in a great deal of pain.  I went to bed very early and slept over 10 hours.  Jarrod woke me up a couple times overnight for pain meds.  He really has been absolutely priceless.  The best caretaker I could ever ask for!

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Jarrod and I with Dr. Monteith

Anyway, so we kept the whole process hush-hush because we didn’t tell the kids about it until today.  Now all the kiddos know, with mixed reactions.  So we decided to release a blog post about it for all our family, friends and followers.  Jarrod will write a post about his reversal experience when his happens in May, so stay tuned for that.

We’re super excited that we’ve been able to start on this process, and are looking forward to what our future holds.  Thanks for reading along!

Note:
It also needs mentioning here that flying out to Raleigh and back was my very first time ever in an airplane!  I had never before experienced flying and I must say, I really enjoyed it!

 

Laugh!

You might think that the life of a blogger is a non-stop series of sexy, celebrity-attended parties, a virtual whirlwind of drug and alcohol-fueled insanity that even famed raconteur Hunter S. Thompson might call excessive.  And you’d be right about that.  Nevertheless, sometimes we are called upon to do actual work, and be “responsible”.  And there has been a lot of that nonsense lately, which not only makes it hard to find the time and energy to write a blog post, but also tends to make life a little tedious…which, in turn, causes tempers to flare, motivation to dwindle, and attitudes and moods to turn to crap.  This time of year doesn’t help, either.  Winter shouldn’t even be a thing; the only thing that winter accomplishes is to make you appreciate summer a little more, which is a pretty substantial accomplishment considering summer also really, really sucks.  Really.  Sucks.  And don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you that it doesn’t.  (The views of Jarrod are not necessarily those of HesseLane or its subsidiaries).

But all is not lost.  Even though life, work, the very seasons of the planet upon which we live may all be trying to to rip out your soul, crumple it up and cram it into the nearest rubbish bin, you can still maintain your insanity by taking a more whimsical approach to the nightmarish hellscape we’re forced from birth to navigate and finding things to be amused by.  For example, I don’t really enjoy working; not just my job in particular, but ANY job.  In general, I can think of many, many thousands of things I’d rather be doing than working.  What I need is for someone to just send me large sums of money every so often, with no expectation that I’m ever going to provide any service to them in exchange for it.  Yeah, that’s what I need.

But until someone sees fit to do that, I have to work.  And since I do, it’s pretty helpful that I work with Shauna.  Not only do we work together, but he have practically the same schedules.  Sometimes that isn’t a good thing (more on that never).  Usually it IS a good thing, and here’s why:  we make each other laugh.  I’m one of those people who is constantly finding things amusing but rarely laughs out loud.  If I had a nickel for everytime I’ve typed “lol” and actually lol’d, I’d have, oh, about zero dollars and zero cents.  However, Shauna makes me laugh till I cry, and she does it pretty effortlessly.  From day one, she’s just kind of instinctively known what my sense of humor is and is able to tap into it…and I think the reason she has such an easy time with that is because it pretty seamlessly matches up with her own sense of humor.  Never does this particular connection between us come in more handy than when we’re at work, a place neither of us really want to be and which can sometimes put us both in a crappy mood.  Just the other night we were at work, and for some reason we began talking about cooking apple pies in the fryer.  Shauna escalated the absurdity of the conversation a little, and then I did, and then she did again, and soon were talking about dumping a whole box of apple pies in the fryer and then fishing them out with the baskets.  In that moment the zaniness of it all made me laugh uncontrollably, until tears were streaming down my face.  And it occured to me that I was getting paid to stand there and laugh myself silly.  Which I found myself very ok with.

Recently we were sitting in our bedroom when my youngest daughter Willow wandered in.  She was wearing leggings, and the tag on the back was annoying her; she wanted to know if I would cut the tag off.  A lot of times, you can just yank those tags off without the need for scissors or anything; they’re designed to just be ripped off.  maxresdefaultSo I grabbed the tag and attempted to dispose of it once and for all.  Unfortunately, it was attached a bit more securely than I had given it credit for, and, rather than ripping the tag off, I lifted Willow completely off the ground, giving her an ultrawedgie in the process.  The tag finally came off, but brought a giant chunk of the fabric from the butt of her leggings with it.  As I sat there in bed holding the tag with the lonely piece of fabric attached to it, and looking at the gaping hole in the butt of the leggings (big enough for Willows entire butt to fit through), I could have been annoyed that I had just ruined a perfectly good article of clothing.  But Shauna was laughing hysterically, as was Willow, and at that point, what could I do?  I laughed, gentle reader…I laughed.  And that’s all I’m saying.

Why This One?

Shauna and I started this blog about a month ago, and since that time we’ve talked a lot about the kinds of things we want to write about here.  It’ll essentially be a melting pot of ideas, likes, dislikes, family and job stuff, and just whatever else we feel like writing about.  A glimpse into our everyday lives, in other words.  And I love that idea; that is exactly the kind of blog I’d want to read from someone else.  One would think that, with that kind of broad outline, it’d be easy to come up with ideas for things to write about, because pretty much anything would be fair game.  But such is not the case.  Personally, I find myself plagued by really unhelpful thoughts, such as “you know, lots of people lead really crazy, eventful lives.  What makes you think your life is interesting enough to blog about?  Furthermore, what gives you the audacity to expect people to READ that blog, let alone tell other people to read it?  To expect people to stop their cars in traffic to read your latest post, and to send out mass texts to every friend, relative, co-worker, and minor acquaintance they have in their phone to tell THEM to read it?  Hmmm?”  Make no mistake:  I expect ALL of those things to happen, and since I’ve been trying to think of a topic to blog about anyway, I figure why not make this post about WHY I expect that.

Everyone has opinions, good and bad, and it’s in the nature of humans to want to share that opinion with other people.  Either to find someone who agrees with you and who validates the way you feel about something, or to find someone who disagrees and maybe makes you think of something in a different way that you never would have come to on your own.  However, the resources that people had to get their opinions heard used to be pretty limited and ineffective.  Short of scoring a job writing an opinion column in your local newspaper, or standing on a soapbox in the town square and shouting, there was no good way to make yourself heard to a large group of people.  Now, of course, it’s the easiest thing in the world to go on any social media site and say whatever is on your mind to a potential audience of millions.  Anyone can start a blog or vlog.  However, the ease with which you can do these things nowadays has made it clearer than ever before that not everyone has something worth saying.  Not everyone has an opinion that should be spoken aloud (and while we’re on the subject, there is such a thing as a wrong opinion.  We’re taught in school that that’s not the case, but OF COURSE it is.  “The Godfather is a bad movie” or “Donald Trump is a good president” would be examples of wrong opinions).  And so, to return to the point: why should you read this blog?  There are a million blogs you could be reading right now.  Why this one?

Shauna and I are real people.  We have small victories and defeats everyday.  We have to deal with chaos at our job, and then come home and deal with more (and often far worse) chaos.  Our kids are cool most of the time, but occasionally they are horrible, smelly beasts that consume or destroy everything in sight.  We have money, and then we pay bills and buy groceries and we have no money.  We communicate amazingly most of the time, but sometimes we don’t, and it sucks for a while and we deal with that.  We live in a house that has issues which we either get fixed or (much more likely) learn how to work around.  We make plans for our future, and then have to figure out how to make those plans a reality, and in the process of that sometimes our plans get changed, or disintegrate completely.  We struggle with health issues, appointments, anxiety over whether we’re spending enough time with our kids, what to have for dinner, where does all the fucking shredded cheese go because we just bought 3 bags like 2 days ago and it’s fucking GONE already?!?  IMG_1178We deal with all of these things, and a lot more, every day.  And if we’re dealing with them…then you’re dealing with them, too.  These are the things we all have to face every day.  Every.  Day.  This is Real Life.  And if you can read this blog and see that we have faced an issue that you’ve already faced, or are currently facing, and if we can convince you that you WILL get through that issue and come out on the other side laughing…well, there you go.  That’s “why this one”.

The twist ending to this post, which anyone could have seen coming, is that I wrote this to convince myself why it’s necessary to write it just as much as to convince you (and the tens of thousands of people you’re going to send our way) to read it.  A couple weeks ago, on a Saturday night, Shauna and I had to work till about 9 PM.  We got home and watched tv with the kids for a while.  Around 11 or so, Shauna investigated a weird smell and discovered that a room in our basement was filled about ankle deep with sewage.  Every time a sink, the dishwasher, the clothes washer, the shower, the toilets had drained for at least a few days, it had been going directly into this room.  Some phone calls were made, and someone came out to unplug the drain (never giving us a good explanation for why it had happened in the first place so that we could, you know, prevent it from happening again), and left us to deal with the disgusting mess that was left behind.  There wasn’t much that could really be done that night (by this time it was around 3 AM; we had to get up at 7 to work a 10 hour shift).  We eventually got it taken care of and all is well now.  I threw in this quick story to make the point that this type of thing might have been a devastating, apocalyptic event in another household.  In ours, not so much.  We took it in stride; the house smelled like shit (literally) for a few days, and then it didn’t, and we’ll probably barely remember it happened before long.  You get through it.  And you laugh.

 

 

 

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!

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.

2 Months

It has been two whole months.  Two months since my husband and I tied the knot after being together for only 8 days.  And two months since I had my final weight loss related surgery.

I couldn’t possibly ask for a better husband and example of a real man for my boys.  I knew immediately when we confessed our feelings to each other that he would be my forever, and that feeling has only gotten stronger every single day since then.  He’s the best friend I’ve ever had!  We lay awake at night and talk about everything.  We intend often to watch TV or a movie, get housework done together, or take care of other errands, and often it gets put on the back burner to our conversations, or the conversations continue through it all.  We are attached at the hip and prefer to do anything we need to do, together.  We even prefer to work the same shifts together at work, just to be in each other’s presence.  We understand and are comfortable with each other on the deepest level.  I’ve honestly never felt anything like this before, and it’s the best!  He is wonderful with my kids, and they become more and more open to him each day.  His kids are pretty awesome as well, and I love how our family is blending.  Jarrod is my heart, my soul, my life.  This is my forever, and I couldn’t be happier or more content.

As far as my surgical recovery and body image goes, I’m quite satisfied now!  I started my weight loss journey in January of 2016 at 270 pounds.  Around summer of 2016 I had already lost enough weight to disqualify myself from bariatric weight loss surgery by getting down to around 230 pounds.  I had changed my lifestyle enough to take off the weight myself, by eating less fat and carbs, more protein, and cutting out sugary soda.  Then once I reached about 225 pounds I qualified for skin removal surgery, and got approved for my Panniculectomy (tummy tuck) in March 2017, which is when it was done.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results as it healed because I still had quite a bit of sag, my bellybutton was off-center, and a couple other details I was dissatisfied with.  So when I had my breast reduction and lift on September 1st, I was able to get my tummy tuck revised.  Now it’s been two months since I had that last surgery, and though nothing is perfect, I am VERY satisfied with my results.  I am now hovering right around 200 pounds, and still want to lose about 15.  I haven’t had the willpower to just buckle down and take off that last 15 yet, but I know I will and am not too concerned with it anyway.  I’m happy with the way I look now, with the way my clothes fit, and with my appearance in the mirror. Really, I feel I just need to tone up now.  I’m very proud of myself for having come this far without bariatric surgery.  And I plan to continue this healthier lifestyle forever.  I NEVER want to gain that weight back.  I have so much less body ache and pain now, I am more flexible and don’t lose my breath going up and down stairs, I have more stamina and am all around a much happier person.  I love it.

Two months since my life made some permanent changes for the better.  I am so happy to have had these opportunities come to me, and to have been able to grab ahold of them.  I am so happy with my life!