The USA is buzzing with excitement over tax returns right now. Everyone gets to go out and buy a brand new TV, new video game systems and other electronics, they’re getting new tattoos, clothes, vehicles, etc. Most other years I was right there with the general public and giving all that tax money directly to the local retail stores. But this year, it’s different.
Yes, we got a tax return, but we aren’t going and getting all the latest gadgets.
The ONE thing we had promised the kids we would do this year is go on a vacation. We were discussing Florida, and everyone was quite excited about it. Unfortunately, when we found out that my unemployment payments in 2017 cut into our refund more than I ever knew it would, we had to flush the dream of a family vacation on the beach right down the toilet (along with creating some guilt for both Jarrod and I for having to break that promise).
We had to face facts: the best we could do is keep paying our monthly bills with a small boost so we didn’t fall behind, and plan a mini-vacation closer to home. So now we are looking at resort-style hotels within Iowa to go spend a night or two. There is one place a couple hours away that has laser tag, bowling, go karts, an arcade, and an indoor water park that we’re looking into. It sounds pretty fun to me, and the kids all seem to be on board with that idea. But if for some reason that doesn’t work out or ends up being out of our price range, we’ll just stick to the Iowa State Fair later this summer, and perhaps a visit to Adventureland, our local amusement park.
I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed, myself. I have visited Florida the last 2 years, and I LOVE it there. The ocean is spectacular. I know for a fact 2 of my boys were really looking forward to going, and the girls seem rather let down that we aren’t going, as well. But as it stands, we will just have to settle for Iowa. As long as we can have fun together as a family, that is what REALLY matters, right?
Those are my thoughts for today. Not all blog posts can be sunshine and rainbows… this IS real life afterall. 🙂 And if you’re an Iowa native and have any suggestions for awesome family fun within the state, please leave a comment/suggestion for us to look into. Thanks in advance.
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. So 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.
Several months ago, I got a perm. I wanted more volume in my fine, limp hair. The perm burnt my hair so bad that in the couple of months following the perm that I had handfuls of hair falling out every day. Then, when Jarrod and I went to Riot Fest in September, we were both admiring people’s dreadlocks, and I mentioned how I had tried dreadlocks a few times and failed, brushed them out, etc. I had installed them alone, or with a friend’s help. But they never seemed right so I never kept them long. But Jarrod was really into the idea of me having them because he appreciates that style. So we decided I would go get them professionally done to ensure a long future with them. We decided to use real human hair extensions with them so I wouldn’t lose too much length, and they looked pretty good once done.
Over the first couple months things went well. Once I got over the initial shock to my scalp and the itching faded, I was quite happy with them. I was getting monthly maintenance to keep them tidy-ish and make sure they were locking up properly. At my 2nd maintenance session, my stylist started expressing concern for my roots. My hair was already fragile from that perm a few months prior, and the weight of the dreaded hair + extensions was making my hair break off an inch or two from my scalp. But she remained optimistic and told me we would just keep up on the maintenance and keep reinforcing it, and it would likely be fine.
Last week when I went in for my 4th tidying, she wasn’t so optimistic. She said my fine, brittle hair wasn’t doing so well, and I had a lot of factors working against me for a future with the dreadlocks. At that point, I felt I needed to make a tough decision. I could either keep going, paying her to maintain and strengthen my hair every month with no guarantee it was going to be successful, I could brush them out and have “crypt keeper” remains of my hair, or I shave my head and have a clean slate. Jarrod and I discussed all the pros and cons of all options involved, and came to the very difficult and painful decision to just shave it all off. And rather than stall that decision, we decided to do it as soon as possible so it can start the process of growing back. Before shaving. The final pic with dreadlocks.
I’m honestly okay with it. It feels good, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I know it’s just hair, and will grow back. And Jarrod seems to be okay with it too. He said he was more concerned with my reaction to shaving my head than how he would feel about it himself. But since I am okay with it, he is too. The kids really don’t seem to care all that much. The girls were in disbelief that I’d do it, but the boys already know how spontaneous I can be.
For now I’ll wear plenty of hats to keep warm since it’s still the middle of winter here in Iowa. I plan to keep from dying my hair indefinitely, and certainly won’t be perming it ever again. I’d like to see what it does when left to grow naturally. It’s been decades since I’ve just let it be. I’ll find some decent quality shampoo and conditioner to keep it healthy. And I’m already taking Biotin and other vitamins to make sure it grows back stronger.
How can people live such fake lives? They wake up in the morning, paint on makeup, bathe in perfume or cologne, put on uncomfortable, restrictive clothing just to appear a certain way, slap a fake smile on their face, leave their sterile house, hop into a shiny, fancy car, and go about their day. Everyone they encounter that dresses and behaves the same as them, they are fake-friendly with. Everyone they perceive as above them, they brown-nose. Everyone they perceive as below them they sneer at and ridicule.
In groups they laugh loudly and act as though they own the place in which they sit. Each trying to prove to the others that they have a good life and make good money. In their world, no one else could possibly understand or live up to the way they attempt to keep up with each other. There’s no consideration. There’s no empathy. There’s no true joy. Just competition. And possession.
Why? Just why?
Myself and my family may not have a ton of money, a mound of debt for things to prove we’re better than others, or brand name shiny “things.” But I don’t want that. I love my life of honesty. I love my genuine, opinionated, down-to-earth, honest self. I love that I tell people what I think. I love that I don’t feel obligated to paint on a happy face every day. I love that my life is not a competition to me, with my peers. I love that I comfortably and freely exercise my right to self-expression. And I love that I’m raising my kiddos to do the same. Furthermore, I love finding like-minded people because they are some of the most fun and interesting people I’ve ever known!
I can’t imagine living a life of fake smiles and dinner parties, overly high mortgages and designer belongings. It’s so stuffy, boring…ordinary.
I love being unique, colorful and full of adventure. It’s the only way I could imagine a life worth living.
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?!? We 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 lot has been going on lately with the kiddos. It’s hard for Jarrod and I both to work and be away because the kids are starting to learn they can do whatever they want while we aren’t here, and they won’t have repercussions until we get home. And even worse, there’s often nothing we can do about the stuff they get into while we are at work, because it’s already said and done and there’s nothing to be stopped anymore. Not only that, but some of the kids have been fighting a lot worse, and the “punishments” used to stop that fighting makes even the innocent kids (in that situation) pay the price for the mistakes of the not-so-innocent. As they are all too old for babysitters, and we couldn’t afford one if we wanted to go that route, it’s looking more and more like I need to find a job I can do from home. Or more than one job. Anything really, just to put me back at home for more supervision and direction than what the kiddos are getting now.
Not only is this all about the family issues… but the hip issues I have are getting so much worse. I don’t know if its the changes in the weather, or if its just the passing and time and the deterioration of my hip joints. But I cannot stand and walk for more than a couple hours at a time without being in agony and needing an extensively long break to recover. When I do stand and walk for a full work day, I am nearly in tears by the time I go home for the day, and often times I cannot even sleep due to the pain in my hips.
In the quest to find solutions to make money from home possible, I have looked into direct sales (along with other ideas) to see if there’s a product I can stand behind…and we have a winner! PINK ZEBRA it is!
It all smells amazing, is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and I love and use the sprinkles myself, I LOVE them! So I’d love to be able to pass that on to you, dear readers! I know how annoying and repetitive direct sales advertising can be, so you won’t see any SPAM from me on this blog, I promise. The only way you will get info after this post is to follow me as follows:
**NOTE 4/24/18** I am no longer attempting to sell Pink Zebra products. It was a dead end for me as no one was buying.
I’ll put a link to any current parties I have going on in the sidebar of this website. Please check in from time to time so I don’t have to post about it all the time.
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to stay in the loop about when I have sales and parties. I’d love to gain some loyal, regular customers.
You can follow my Pink Zebra Independent Consultant Facebook Page to stay up to date on the most current deals and news, along with parties and sales as they become available. https://www.facebook.com/pzhippielady/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!