A tornado in November

Hey guys, just a quick post to let you all know we are okay. Yesterday was an awful day in our neck of the woods. Illinois was hit extremely hard with severe weather, including thunderstorms, intense winds, and tornados.

The tornado that touched down in our town missed our house by two blocks. We had just gotten home from the store about 20 minutes before it hit. As we were putting away groceries I said to Bradley, "Look at the sky out back, it's all foggy and green." He dismissed me as usual and we went about our business.

A few minutes later I walked into the living room to see a wall of leaves swirling in our front yard. I'm talking, I could see nothing but a shit ton of leaves moving rapidly. I freaked out and yelled at Bradley to get to the basement and I dragged Chorde downstairs. Bradley of course stayed put on the couch to watch football. There was this strange humming sound followed by a blast-type noise. We identified the blast later as the tornado hitting the transformers near our house.

Once it was over we went outside to make sure we were okay. Neighbors here and there right by us sustained damage from tree limbs and the like. Two blocks down is where the real devastation occurred. Houses are torn to shreds. Trees are completely ripped from the ground like somebody just walked by and plucked then up and threw them. Some people have nothing where their houses once stood.

It's my understating that the funnel formed about two blocks behind us and travelled around us in a two block radius. It then crossed a road and flattened houses and subdivisions in its wake. I cannot understand how we got so lucky, all I can say is Thank You Jesus.

We walked around surveying the neighborhood after it happened and there were people sobbing in the street. I can't help but be incredibly grateful that our home and our lives were spared. We went to my mom's last night to put all of our groceries in her fridge, charge our phones, and do some laundry. They are saying we might not have power for four more days. I don't know how I'm going to get my shit together and go to work tomorrow, especially since the main road out of town is closed. This all really sucks for so, so many people.

If you can, I hope you all would reach out to those in need. The destruction crossed over st least three states. Everyone can do something. At the very least pray. I hope today is a better day for lots of people.


My love

Sorry I'm not sorry about my super-heavy blog post yesterday. It feels so good to get that off my chest and to have had so many of you reach out to me with so much support and love. Blogging is such an amazing thing sometimes.

I'm not one of those people that pisses rainbows while farting skittles and burping cotton candy. I pride myself in being a pretty real person. I'm grateful that I have people who appreciate that and still like me despite being crazy.

As I laid in bed last night, I was thinking about the post and feeling the weight of all of those feelings. Every night, Bradley, Chordie and I are all snuggled together in one big spoon-train where Chordie is first, then me, then Bradley. Laying there in between my dog (who is my best friend) and my love, I felt so safe and secure. Which brings me to the most important man in my life; My Bradley.

Having the kind of Dad that I did, it's hard for me to trust a man or feel safe with them. But with Bradley, it doesn't occur to me not to. When we lay in bed together at night, I feel like I have the whole world surrounding me and I could not feel any more full or satisfied with life. Sure, 95% of the time I want to strangle him for various reasons, but I still love him despite it all.

You see, we are by no means a perfect couple. There are so many things we are working on, and so much we still need to learn about our relationship. But we still try each day to be better. He stood outside in the freezing cold last night using his shitty hand-me-down tools to fix my car. He reads my blog everyday and he caters to my obsessive cleaning habits. This weekend he took me shopping and yesterday he went to the store to get another pizza for me because he ate the majority of the first one. He means the world to me, and I don't want to think of a day without him.

I couldn't chose my Dad, but I could chose my future husband. I'm so, so happy with the choice I made to pick my Bradley.


My Dad

Today is the day I've been talking about for a while. Today is the day I share the story of my Father, and how our relationship molded me into the person that I am today.

I received an email from someone named Danielle a few weeks ago regarding the last post I wrote about my father here. What she said really touched me, and made me realize that I can tell this part of my story now, because it's time to just air it all out. Here's a little exert of what she said:

"My dad is not a great man, either. His friend David died and he changed. My dad is an alcoholic and the last few paragraphs have helped me more than you can know. I have spent big bucks trying to work out my daddy issues and lo and behold, all I needed was a little Kayla Layla."

Who knew that one person's dysfunction could be another person's epiphany? Danielle's words struck such a nerve with me that I felt compelled to share the entire story, because even now, it still finds a way to hold me back.

My parents were not married when I was conceived. My mother was many years older than my father and they met at a time when she had recently gotten divorced and just wanted someone to love her. Unfortunately, that man happened to be my father.

He didn't have the greatest childhood, having been abandoned by his real father and treated like garbage by his mother. It's no wonder he grew up to be the person that he did. Not that we don't all have a choice at some point, but I can sympathize with him that he didn't really stand much of a chance.

My father sold and did drugs, as well as his fair share of drinking. I can remember him setting me on the counter and having his friends watch in amusement as I would clean marijuana for them at the ripe old age of 3 years old. I don't remember him being an addict per-say, I know he smoked a lot of pot and did his fair share of cocaine, but nothing else to my knowledge. But then again, how would I know? I was a fairly young kid after all.

Before I was born my parents had a son that was stillborn. My father desperately wanted a boy and was incredibly upset and damaged by this loss. He resented me when I was born because I was not a boy. He never truly wanted me from the start.

He was very big on not showing emotions, unless they were anger, and he would often tell me if I cried that, "There's a dry well behind those eyes and you'd better find it." Another one of his famous lines was, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out." Sometimes I wonder if he truly knew what his words meant. As a child I was conditioned not to cry and not to feel emotions. It took a very long time to tear this wall down and feel things again.

My brother was born when I was 3 years old, and that was the single greatest event in my father's life. He was so proud of my brother, so happy to take care of him and be around him. It was the complete opposite of how he treated me. I can't remember my father ever cooking for me, or loving on me, or even having anything particularly nice to say to me. He would sometimes take me to the bar with him when he was forced to watch me, and I'd sit on a bar stool and drink Sprites while he would drink and hang out with his friends. Sometimes he would even pick me up from school, though I can remember a day where he got into a huge fight with my Mom when we got home and she told him to get out. He looked at me and said, "Come on Kayla!" and I just looked at him and said, "No." I was 5 years old at the time. I'll never forget the look in his eyes when I wouldn't go with him. He slammed the screen door so hard that it just shattered and fell to the ground like it does in the movies. He got on his motorcycle and left, and that was that.

The truth is, he scared me. I was scared to speak for fear of getting yelled at, I was scared to misbehave for fear of being spanked to the point where someone would have to stop him. I was just plain scared of him. How was I ever going to grow up and have a healthy, normal relationship with a man when the one who was supposed to set the example for all of the rest had terrified me and scarred me to such an extent?

There are people in my father's family who want to say that these things didn't happen, or that perhaps he was a better man than the stories reflect. And maybe to them he was. But I'm the only person in the world who knows how it feels to be David's daughter. I'm the only one who experienced these things from him first hand. There is not a single person who has ever or will ever walk this Earth in my shoes. I am beyond allowing anyone to tell me how great of a man he was, because they never lived life as his daughter.

One beautiful September morning I woke up for school and walked into the living room to find my entire family at home. Being 6, I remember thinking, "Sweet!!" But the looks on their faces told me they weren't home to have fun. All I can remember was my Mom telling me that my father had been in a serious motorcycle accident and that I wouldn't be going to school that day. My six year old self was disappointed because I didn't get to wear my new headband that I had laid out the night before. I also remember being overwhelmed with this feeling that I couldn't describe at the time. I can identify it now in my adulthood as relief. I felt relieved that he wouldn't be coming home for a while. I was relieved that I would finally know where he was at all times, and what he was doing. It kills me inside to say that out loud. What kind of 6 year old is relieved about something like that? Parts of the story like this are what holds me back from wanting to share it because it just gets so fucked up. So, so fucked up.

I won't waste any time or energy going into detail about what a horrible person my grandmother is, or all of the fucking crazy things she tried to do while he was in the hospital. I can't bring myself to give her the time of day, and even saying this much is way outside of my comfort zone.

To the best of my knowledge, my father and his friends had spent a night out partying and having a good time. Early that morning, they were riding down the road when my dad's friend Jeff's hat flew off. Jeff did a U-Turn to go back and get it without realizing my father was behind him, and they crashed into each other. Jeff was DOA, my father died multiple times and was successfully resuscitated. They had to completely reconstruct his face, he spent many months on a feeding tube, and his memory was severely effected. He was not the same man he was before, and he couldn't remember why that was. It was almost as if the old David died that night, and a new David took his place. Not a better David, just a different one.

Essentially, my father's motorcycle accident was both the absolute worst, and the absolute best thing to happen to me in my life. Had the morning of September 6th, 1993 never happened, I can't say that I would be the person I am today. Had I not been freed of the man my father was prior to the accident, I don't know that I would be as happy and well-rounded as I have become.

My father really was not present in my life after that day. He went to live with various relatives, had two failed marriages, and spent a couple of years in prison for domestic abuse. He lived a hard and fast life, and in a lot of ways he paid the price. I never had enough mercy in my heart to reach out to him, and I couldn't get past the pain and the anger to see that I was hurting myself much more than I was hurting him. He didn't think about the pain and hurt he caused me, because he couldn't remember it. Every time I looked in the mirror, it was all I ever saw.

I did however gain an incredible sense of self from all of this. Despite being very angry and bitter, I was very head strong and independent. I knew my strength and intelligence, and I knew no one was going to mess with me. I definitely inherited his confidence, and I knew I was always going to be the biggest, baddest, toughest person around. I was, after all, his daughter, and I wasn't going to let him bring me down, at least not on the surface. 

I was at Wal-Mart once, probably around the age of 16 when I saw him there with his girlfriend at the time. They were at the jewelry counter looking at of all things engagement rings when I walked right up to him and said, "Do you know who I am?" I can't explain to you the pain you feel when your own father looks you in the eyes and has no recollection of you whatsoever. I had to tell my own dad that I was his daughter. I will never, ever, ever forget that moment for as long as I live. He didn't know who I was, and I look just like him. I'd like to blame it on the fact that he hadn't seen me in years, but I think he just wasn't mentally right. At least, that's what I tell myself.

A year prior to his passing, my Aunt called me and we had a conversation about my father's health. She was taking care of him, as she always had, and he was not in good shape. My Aunt Lisa is one of the most incredible women who has ever lived on this planet. She has a lot of health issues herself, and she is always the first person there for anyone who needs her. My father did not deserve her love and her efforts, but she gave them to him because he was her brother. She is one of the most amazing souls and I am so thankful that my dad had her to rely on.

Basically, my father had Parkinson's disease, pneumonia, and a myriad of other health issues. She asked me to come to him, that he was asking for me. I looked at my nephews playing on the floor in front of me, these tiny little babies with so much life ahead of them. And I made the choice to stay with them and focus on their health, and not to go to my father. On the surface, and in my heart, I know that this was the right choice. It was a choice my father could never have made. I didn't have the mercy in my heart to give him what he wanted from me. I'd spent the last 22 years defining who I was by how horribly he had treated me. I wasn't ready to forgive him just yet.
This is a picture I took the day my Aunt first called me. I look at these faces now, and I think a lot about the choice I made. I could have had a year to know my father. But I chose these three amazing little boys who needed me more. Some days I wonder why there had to be a choice, why I couldn't just be there for my Father and for them. Then I remember that it was never really a choice at all, because everything happened the way it was meant to. I love my nephews more than I can ever say. I definitely could not have gotten through the grieving process without them.

A year went by, with my Aunt posting things on Facebook about him, how his health would improve, and then take turns for the worse. Three days before he died, she had posted a video of him on a ventilator. I knew in my soul that it was time. It was like the connection between us had repaired itself. I was finally ready. I went to him the next day, and when I walked into the room his heart rate sky rocketed and he was going crazy. He couldn't talk because of the ventilator, but I knew that he was happy to see me. We spent the rest of that day holding hands while I talked to him. We would have these moments where we would just lock eyes and I could read his mind without him saying a word. We have the exact same eyes. We had a lot in common. Sometimes I regret not knowing him, we might have actually liked each other. I guess I will never know.

The day we took him off the ventilator was one of the most gorgeous days I can ever remember. I was standing beside him when they came in and took it out, and he frantically just started saying, "I love you I love you I love you" to me. Like he knew he didn't have a lot of time left to say it, and it had been years since it had last been spoken. I held his hand and I talked to him about my brother, who was on vacation at the time, and I told him all about my nephews and how amazing they were, and I tried to tell him everything I could about me so that he would know. I sang him the Bette Midler song "Wind Beneath My Wings" because he used to make me sing it as a child to him. And we just stared at each other. We only had a short time left to remember each other's faces. Even though our faces were the same in so many ways.

I held him as he took his last breaths. I helped to usher him into the next life. I gave him the mercy that I had for so long withheld. And he gave me my freedom. I was free from all of the trauma of my childhood. I finally understood that he loved me the only way that he knew how. That was going to have to be enough for me, because that's all there was. We can't choose our parents, we can't choose how our childhood's turn out, and we can't choose the trauma we experience. I learned in my father's last moments of life that you can choose how you live in spite of all of that. I learned that my father's opinion of me shouldn't impact the person I am or how I chose to live my life. Most importantly, I learned that I am loved, I can be loved, and that the only person hurting from my grudges and grief is me. I was free to let it all go and to live my life loving my father instead of hating him. Because he's the only Father I was given in this life. He no longer defined me, but he sure as hell taught me how to be one tough chick who doesn't take shit from anyone and who knows just how wonderful and amazing she is. I don't know that death is always this freeing for anyone other than the person who dies. But this is my story, and this is what happened.

 My father and I on our last day together. I've shared this image with very few people. It is still hard for me to look at.

I now have a tremendous amount of love and respect for my father, and I forgive him for all of the bad things that ever happened. I like to speak fondly of him, and visit his grave to clean off his headstone. I have pictures of him up in my house and I have a shelf with some of his belongings on it. This is all I have left of him, and now that I am okay with loving him, I like to remember him positively.

I will never be completely okay with everything. I will never be fine with not having a positive male role model growing up, or a father who can fix my car or walk me down the isle. I will never be okay with not being able to make it right or showing him mercy with enough time for us to get to know each other and make some positive memories. But I can't change the past, so I try not to dwell in that. I do still cry like a baby for him. Because my heart will never fully heal from the damage of my childhood, or the loss and regret of what could have been. But I am whole and happy in knowing that he and I are both at peace with the past, no matter how much doubt tries to creep in.

So, there you have it. My novel of a post on my father. The primary reason why I am so fucked up. It is what it is. There are parts I didn't want to share, but did anyway, and there are parts I just need to keep to myself in order to stay in the positive. But I will always, always love my father. It took me a long time to get to this point, and I cannot tell you just how much I have grown as a person by learning this lesson. It took me 24 years and a lot of trauma and heartache, but I wouldn't and couldn't change any of it. I am so grateful that I grew into the person I am today, and I love how my life has turned out in spite of everything else. I couldn't ask for more.


Five on Friday!

I am so glad this week is over, you have no idea. I feel like a big ball of stress that needs to unravel. So much so that I've found gray hairs sprouting up all over my head. Bradley and I found ourselves in the bathroom the other day looking in the mirror and arguing over who had more.

This is how we keep the romance alive ;)

And now, it's time for Five! (See what I did there?)

1. I'm just going to come right out and call bullshit on everyone jumping on this "Thankful" bandwagon we have going on this month. The same people that I see incessantly bitching and complaining on Facebook while posting their passive aggressive e-cards trying to be ironic and sarcastic are now incredibly thankful for everything from their monthly period cramps to the idiot bozos at McDonald's who forgot to put Sweet & Sour sauce in their bags. Honestly, I see through all your transparent bullshit people. Try being thankful 365 days a year and see how far you get. Or, be like me and just be incredibly cynical and snarky every day of the year and see how awesome you can be. Either way.

2. Speaking of the holidays, it's time for us to start whippin' this house into shape. Bradley is having both of his sisters and their families come into town for Thanksgiving. That means I have to clean like a psycho (nothing new), prepare food for our Thanksgiving, prepare food for my family's Thanksgiving, entertain guests, clean up, go visit my family and have another meal & clean up, and then get up the next morning like a crazy person and go shopping. Bring on the Redbull!

 I've been telling Bradley that we need more plates, dishes, and serving trays for this. He doesn't understand why presentation is so important. All I have to say is, I'm not having the Stanfield's over for Thanksgiving without at least a couple of Thanksgiving-themed serving trays and that's that.

3. I have had the worst round of luck lately, let me tell you. My car has become the bane of my existence. There's been a rattling noise going on somewhere in the back for a couple of months now. I've told Bradley about it, and he's even made mention of it when he's driven it before. About a week ago it started to sound really loud and pretty much doesn't want to go. Finally tonight I told him he needed to look underneath because I thought it looked liked something was hanging from underneath of it. Turns out, my muffler pipe is broken except for this miniscule piece that is holding it together. One bad bump and it would probably have fallen off while I was driving. The only word I can find to describe my feelings on this is, "Fuck."
4. For whatever reason that I cannot on a conscious level identify, I have become obsessed with hummus. I've been thinking about it non-stop, talking about it, dreaming about it, everything. There's this trendy cafe by my work that has the most incredible hummus you could ever imagine. The best part is that it comes with these triangle pieces of this warm, soft, delicious pita bread to dip in the hummus. The feeling I had when I first tried it is comparable to that of how I felt when I held Chordie in my arms for the first time. Just absolute true love. Not that I love hummus like I love my dog, but definitely along the same lines.

5. Tomorrow is supposed to be 63 degrees and sunny with clear blue skies. I'm trying to talk Bradley into taking Chordie to this park outside of town to let her run around in nature and pretend to be a real dog. I also want to get my camera out there and snap a few pictures. I can't wait for my lazy weekend with my two loves. And sleeping. I cannot wait to sleep, a lot.

Hope you all still love me despite my crazy bitchy ranting. Have a great weekend :)


Life Actually

Have you ever had one of those moments where you're writing a blog post and you start to re-read it and you're like, "This is complete shit."

That just happened to me.

Yesterday we had a murderer on the lose in the area surrounding where I work. Some places were evacuating and some were on lock down. We, on the other hand, were working away, googling news on the situation and pretending like someone who was armed and dangerous wasn't potentially blocks away from where we were. Just another day in paradise :)

Bradley and I are really kicking ass at this whole gym thing. I say that having only gone twice. But it's two more times than we've ever gone in the past. We feel good and we have a good time. Somehow I seem to have more time to get things done in the evening? I'm not sure how this happens, but I go to the gym right after work, come home and cook dinner, and still have a couple of hours to blog and chill. Working out is magic.

On the way home from the gym last night, Bradley stops at this local Italian place and went in and got their garlic bread. It is seriously the most delicious bread of all time. I was on the phone at the time and didn't have a chance to ask him what he was doing. When he gets back in the car I was like, "Why would you go get garlic bread after we just worked so hard at the gym?" And he goes, "You're all, 'Oh don't take my rolls away I love bread blah blah blah so I got you bread!"

He reads my blog, and he satisfies my need for carbs. I could not love him more.

Anyone have any good suggestions for us to keep our workout routine fresh and effective? It's been so long since I've worked out regularly, and I can't find my workout notebook I had when I had a trainer. It feels kind of like starting over. But in a good way. I feel so excited about this new journey for Bradley and I, and I can't wait until we are super hot and sexy again :)


Top 10 Things I Want to do Before 30

I've been feeling pretty old lately I must say. I feel like, one minute I was 16 and I was zooming around in my Dodge Neon blasting angry Kelly Clarkson songs and not having a care in the world. Now I'm 26 and I feel like I'm 50. I found multiple gray hairs growing out of my head the other day which prompted me to ask myself, "When the fuck did I get so old?"

There are so many things I want to do before I hit the big 3-0 (when I'll be REALLY old) and since I'm in my happy place when I'm making lists, here goes nothin'.

1. Get Married. This is number one on my list for obvious reasons. I want to be married when I have children, and I want to bind myself to this lucky fella sitting on the couch with me right now. I want to be a bride and wear white and create the ultimate playlist for my wedding reception. I want all that shit, and I want to do it before I get to an age where people are like, "Oh this is her first marriage? I thought she was like 30?"

2. Have kids. I want to make babies so hard sometimes. The majority of the time I want to nap and spend my money foolishly in the dollar section at Target. But I really have always wanted to be a Mom and get to experience childhood through my children's eyes. I want to be that Mom that shows up to every conference and embarrasses her children in various ways, and I want to be a MILF. Plus I think the world would really benefit from a couple of little Bradley/Kayla's.

3. Go to Disneyland. I am a huge huge huge Disney World fan. We went on vacation there almost once a year when I was a kid. I would cry every time I left. I would still cry today, that's how magical it is. I've always wanted to visit Disneyland and experience everything that it has to offer. I'm still trying to convince Bradley that we should honeymoon there...

4. Get a motorcycle license. Is that what you call it? I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, I've always wanted to ride a motorcycle by myself at least one time in my life. I don't know that I would have it in me to ride one often, given the history I have with them. But I think my Dad would be proud knowing I gave it a shot at least one time.

5. Cut my hair. Yeah, you read that right. I think at least one time before I'm 30 I need to hack this shit off. Just to give it a try. It's been a while since I've had "short" hair, and even then it was at least medium length. I'm talking bob cut to my shoulders type shit. Granted I'm going to have to lose weight so that I look a little more feminine. I don't know how I would take someone calling me sir.


I'm Alive!

Well hello strangers!

Yes, I am alive. I received so many distressed emails from all of you that I was anticipating seeing my face on the news under an Amber Alert. I felt so special :)

Truth is, Kayla Layla needed to unplug. I've had a lot of shit going on lately that I really needed to focus on. Life has been giving me lemons, so I've spent the last week turning them into Screwdrivers.

For real though, I think sometimes we get so caught up with "keeping up" that we neglect to see the things around us that need our attention. I'm a firm believer that anything important is worth fighting for. I have been fighting like hell.

With that said, I am back in action. I'm ready to plug back into social media and dazzle you with all of the wonderful things I've done the last week.

Just kidding! The McRib is back. The majority of my time has been spent devouring these delicious gifts from God.

I was so excited I had to photograph the menu while ordering my first McRib of the year. I take this shit pretty seriously.

This past weekend I partied my face off at our friends, Brody & Courtney's wedding. I looked like a retro Kardashian and rocked my top knot and houndstooth dress like a boss.

Bradley almost died at the reception because he tends to forget he's a diabetic when he's been drinking. He will turn dark red with a ring of white around his eyes and they get all glassy eyed. His blood sugar was almost 400 and he was chugging water like mad. He wouldn't let me take care of him or help him, but I wasn't about to let him ruin my fun. There were kegs to be cashed and moves to be busted. Thankfully he returned to normal just in time to take me home so that I could pass out cradling the iPad in my nice warm bed.

We also just joined the new Gold's Gym Express that just opened up in our town. I decided I needed something to counteract my McRib consumption, and I really wanted the free t-shirt.

So now I'm going to be forcing myself to do all of those things I don't want to do and keep complaining about. I'm going to quit drinking soda unless we go out to eat for a special occasion, I'm going to limit myself to 1 McRib a week (this is subject to change), and I'm going to make a more concerted effort to eat healthy again. Healthy to me isn't full blown eating clean, no carbs type shit. For me, portion control is key. I can lose weight by working out and eating like a normal person. But if you tell me I can't eat a dinner roll, I'm going to eat 10. Because I love dinner rolls and I won't ever give them up. Suck it Atkins Diet.

Also, in case you all didn't think I was wonderful enough, I've been focusing on my photography as of late. I did a shoot with my sister Heather, my niece Kjirsten, and my nephew Kohlton. I had her friends Amy & Paul and their daughter Olivia come back out with us too. I had taken pictures with them previously, but we wanted to get some with all of the kids together. I think they turned out mighty swell.

And that's been my life this past week. Working on life, working through life, and everything in between. I promise I will respond to all of my emails tonight, just so you know this isn't some Kayla Layla imposter pretending to write my blog. I plan on returning to my regularly scheduled programming the rest of this week. Shit's gonna get deep 'round here!

Later Taters!