Tag Archives: family

That Time My Dad Stole All My Money

Since today is April Fool’s Day, here’s a little tale from the vault of dad stories. You remember my dad, right? He’s the one who gave me free butt soap as a gift one time!

This is my dad.

dad

Note* He is not a real pirate. 

Well, several years ago, NOT on April Fool’s Day, my dad went to the bank and needed a check made for something. I don’t remember the exact details, but the bank was going to charge him money to get this check from his own account. Being the hardworking, farm-raised, former Navy man he was, my dad was not about to pay extra for this check from his bank account.

After going back and forth with the bank teller, my dad grew so angry he decided to CLOSE his account and take his banking business elsewhere.

Dad: “Close my accounts!”

Bank Teller: “All of them?”

Dad: “ALL OF THEM!”

Meanwhile, a week or so later, I went to the same bank at a branch in my town and asked to do a fund transfer from my savings to my checking account.

The bank teller stared at the screen. She tells me she needs a manager to look something over.

You know where this is going, don’t you? 

So, the manager comes over and looks at the computer screen.

Manager: “It appears your account has been closed.”

Me: “CLOSED?”

This is the part of the story where the manager escorts me to a tiny desk in a corner, AWAY FROM THE PUBLIC so when they tell me my account has been hacked or something, I DON’T SCARE AWAY ALL THE PEOPLE.

I worked in retail for six years; I know EXACTLY what that tiny desk in the corner is for. 

So now, I’ve been passed onto Man With a Mustache to sleuth out what happened to my entire savings account.

Mustache Man: “It appears your account has been closed.”

Me: “CLOSED? Who closed it? I didn’t close it. All my money was in there! Where is MY MONEY?”

Mustache Man: *scrolling through my account information* “Do you know a…Jerry Witkins?”

Me: *speaking between clenched teeth* “I need to call my father.”

I ring up dear old dad who greets me like he’s Mrs. Doubtfire.

Dad: “Hellooooooo!”

Me: “Did you recently come into a large sum of money, Pops?”

Dad, in all sincerity: “Say, now that you mention it, I did actually find some extra cash.”

Me: “BECAUSE YOU STOLE IT FROM MY ACCOUNT!!!”

Dad explains to me about his trip to the same bank in his town and how he demanded to close his accounts. What he didn’t realize, and the bank teller didn’t explain to him, is that as co-signer for my savings account which my parents started for me as a child, he closed out MY account along with his.

And here’s the kicker, while he had no recollection of the sum of money in this “extra mystery account,” he figured it was one he’d started a long time ago and told the teller, “Yep, close it!”

Me: “You put that money back!”

Dad: “I’ll think about it.”

Me: “You march back into that back, tell the teller what you did, and put my money back!”

Dad did return my savings, and we had a good little laugh about it…much later. But because the bank had closed my account, I had to get a new account and new number. I wasn’t too upset though. This time, there would be NO co-signer.

Happy April Fool’s Day, everybody!
Tell me your best prank story, planned or otherwise!  

 

 

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Is That Weird? – Shit I Did as a Kid

Image-1I know I look innocent. But underneath the red hair and camera-ready smile lurks the mind of a madwoman.

Do you ever think back to all the weird stuff you did as a kid and go, “How did my parents NOT sell me to the gypsies?”

I grew up watching Heidi, so that was a viable threat in my house. And believe me, my siblings sure tried!

I was a weird kid. I mean the complete opposite of the well-rounded, well-mannered adult you find here at the Happiness Project.

*crickets*

Just roll with it, ok guys? I’m trying to be well-rounded and well-mannered. Some of us just have to work harder than others.

Anyway, I was a weird kid. And for your amusement, I’ve compiled a list of examples. Feel free to chime in with a “I’ve done that too!” or “That’s the work of a completely sane person!” while reading.

Shit I Did as a Kid

1) One time I was mad at my mom for something I can’t remember so I stabbed a big hole in the dining room tablecloth with a letter opener. 

This took me months of tooth fairy money to pay back. Can you imagine praying your teeth would fall out just so you could get debt free with your ma?

2) I really liked to cut the hair off my Barbie dolls, but I knew my mom would yell at me if she saw, so I hid the hair in her JC Penney’s catalog. 

Ok, first, that was a stupid hiding place because she read that thing cover to cover. And second, hindsight is 20/20. Yes, I think opening up a shopping magazine only to have a bunch of hair fall in your lap is creepy as shit, but I was like six or seven so I just picked the largest catalog under the coffee table and shoved it in.

3) I was really into pen pals and wrote letters to our priest by dropping them in the collection basket at church. 

See, I’ve redeemed myself a little from #2 haven’t I?

4) I set a small patch of our living room carpet on fire by testing if kleenex was flammable. 

It is.

5) My favorite thing to be when playing “pretend” was an orphan. 

Orphans and underdogs were my heroes, and most of them could talk to animals, so I thought it sounded pretty good.

6) I was scared to go into our basement alone because I thought E.T. lived there, and I didn’t like his “sausage fingers.”

Go google image search “E.T. phone home” and look at those phalanges. They’re creepy.

7) It’s quite possible one of my Cabbage Patch Dolls has mold growing inside it, but I refused to let my mother take it from me. 

My baby Cabbage Patch, whose name was Adelle Patti, but I couldn’t pronounce Adelle at the time, so we always called her Patti developed some weird greenish grayish spots on her baby powder-scented head. I think my sister wanted us to send the doll in and see if they would “fix” her, but she was my favorite, and no one was getting near her.

8) I cut off the tip of my right index finger when I was three by sticking it in that thingy you use to hold screen doors open.

It’s still one of the only times my dad ever swore.

9) I really liked talking with different accents and voices, and I practiced them by reading out loud, alternating my voice with each page. 

To be fair, I did this when I was home alone, so I wasn’t bothering anyone.

10) When I couldn’t sleep at night, I would close my eyes then lift my eyelids up. Then when I opened my eyes, the lids make a clicking noise. 

One of my nieces does this now. My sister was telling me about how her daughter made these weird noises with her eyes, and I was like “You mean this?” And she was all “OMG! Yes, that’s disgusting.”

So tell me, is that weird?
You do these things too, don’t you? 

Want more shit I did as a kid? Want more awkward and funny stories? Want more signs I have no shame?

Then vote for me as Funniest Blog in The Indie Chicks’ Badass Blog Awards! Polls are open through Friday, and every vote (you get one a day) counts!

Oh, and please put in a good word for the illustrious August McLaughlin, author and radio host of the #GirlBoner series. She’s up for Best Blunt Blog and totally worthy.

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What if I Turn Into…My Parents?

Are you guilty of making age demands of yourself? You know the ambiguous “Before I turn 30, I will…” kind of to-do list. I am.

Hello, my name is Jess, and I thought I’d be famous before I was 30. I suffer from delusions of grandeur and I’m sorry.

I blame Anne of Green Gables. I daydreamed that I was going to be a visionary of my time, and all anyone knows me for is an ad about baking powder…

You know what I mean.

I made a few too many expectations of myself and where I’d be in life by the time I turned 30. The big 3-0 is just six months away and I’m radically looking at my goals and having to rewrite them. Which is, to say the least, disheartening. But it needed to happen. I know that now.

As I’m reevaluating where I’m going and where I’ve come from, a scary thought crossed my mind. What if I turn into…my parents?

DSCN0259

This is them. Note, the matching polos. I REFUSE to wear a polo shirt. Ever. 

I’m serious, you guys. What if I start gifting my friends with bottles of free butt soap instead of actually going shopping for them? (my dad)

What if I start wearing sneakers so white the coast guard asks me to stop interfering with their light house schedule? (my mom and dad)

What if I start writing letters to people and fill them with grammar notes? (like my mom)

What if I start eating one bite of a fun size candy bar and I’m still eating the same candy bar days later? (like my dad)

Where will it end?

I mean none of you are gonna read a blog about arthritis and egg shell infused gardening dirt. Are you? I need to know because it could come to that.

Am I having a quarter-life crisis? This is just a quarter-life crisis, isn’t it?

But what if I’m older than a quarter-life crisis? Is this a pre-mid-life-post-quarter-life crisis? What do I do in case of emergency?

Do I need to get into the basement? Does this require a transistor radio? I know what my mother would do. She’d put pillows in all the windows so when the glass breaks it won’t gouge out my eyes.

At least I’ll have time to edit my to do list.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the basement.
I’ve got one bag of fun size Snickers bars,
so I’m guessing I can survive the next 30 years.

What was your irrational goal before 30?

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

2014 Collage

Happy Holidays Everyone!

May your homes be filled with peace and love. May you be surrounded by all those you call family. May you enjoy quiet moments and uproarious laughter. May you be thankful for all you have, and share with those who have less. May your new year bring only as much struggle as what will help you grow, and two times as many joys. May you be inspired to create and share your talents with the world. And may you get to sleep in at least once this week.

Love to All this Holiday Season,

Jess & Joe

Thoughts On Selling My Oldest Niece, or Why Grammar Is Important

I was in Madison this past weekend visiting family when I drove by a rather peculiar sign on a highly trafficked street corner.

Huge Kids SaleMy immediate thoughts were, “Someone alert the authorities! They’re selling above average sized children on their lot!”

But then I thought, “Where can I find some large kidlets to sell? I could use some extra cash.”

And that’s when I looked schemingly at my niece and nephew. *rubs hands together*

My niece, who is 12, is only about 1 inch shorter than me, if that. She has taken on, with great gusto might I add, the goal of growing taller than several members of our family. I am the next name on her list.

Yes, she has a list.

When I arrived earlier that day at my brother’s house, I learned I was going to be sharing a room with my niece for the night. While carrying my backpack to the guest mattress they had laid out, she noticed a pair of shoes sticking out of my bag.

Niece:  “Oh good, you brought the shoes I like!”

Me:  “I like them too. That’s why I STILL WEAR them.”

Suffice it to say, after we arrived back to their house, having seen the sign for the “HUGE KIDS SALE,” my mind was full of ideas.

Ideas that raised my eyebrows when I saw my niece walk across the living room wearing my shoes – that fit her – on her 12 year old feet. I am almost 29.

And then when I saw her proceed to gulp down a glass of lemonade and eat several slices of banana bread smeared in butter, I may have uttered in a kind of creepy voice, “Good, good. Eat up, my pretty. I’ll make more at the market in the morning.” *followed by more hand rubbing*

My niece giggled at me and put my shoes back in my bag.

Now how come my brother has never asked me to babysit?

 

 

 

My Big Fat Secret Greek Wedding

Well the cat’s out of the bag now and we revealed our big surprise to our wedding guests and you that we’ve secretly been married for a month now.

Surprise!!! *throws rice confetti and releases the doves*

Here’s what people are saying about it:

“It was the best wedding I’ve never been to!”

“Most fun we’ve had at a wedding in a long time!”

“It’s so romantic and beautiful.”

“How did you keep it a secret so well? We loved it!”

We are eternally grateful that everyone supported our actions and thought what we did was romantic and dreamlike. It really was.

I mean, look where we were! Can you blame us?

DSC_0026Our wedding day in Santorini was relaxing. Since our wedding wasn’t until sunset, we actually lounged the whole morning, swimming and hanging out in our private jacuzzi with glasses of Assyrtiko wine.

I’ve heard that every wedding day has its minor glitches and mine involved my flat iron.

While we had planned ahead and purchased an international adapter plug, Joe had warned me about voltage conversion issues. So far, things had worked out when it came to charging our camera and my laptop. While getting ready for the big event, I plugged my flat iron in to use it to smooth my bangs down and planned to curl the rest of my hair.

Yes, I know that sounds weird. I use my FLAT iron to CURL my hair. Just trust me it works, and I like how the curls turn out better than with a curling iron.

I had recently just purchased a new flat iron as well. It was so beautiful, a shiny new red handle and it worked really well.

I was straightening my bangs when I heard this little sizzling noise. And about 5 seconds later I dropped the flat iron to the floor because that sizzle I heard was the inside of the HANDLE burning up and scalding my palm. VOLTAGE CONVERSION ISSUE!!!

This day is not about my hair. This day is not about my hair. This day is not about my hair.

Those are the words I repeated to myself in the mirror as I stared at my straight hair. They were followed by gratitude to the gods for the fact that I had smoothed my bangs and NOT begun curling my hair or else I’d have ended up with some half-headed poodle-ized catastrophe.

And my new straightener…ended up in the trash. 😦

In the end it worked out.

DSC_0028Joe also played a trick on me on our wedding day. We’d been talking the week before we left about our wedding vows and all he’d tell me about his were that he “had a good idea” of what he was going to say and he didn’t need to write them down because he didn’t want them “to sound rehearsed.”

Okay, fine. But know that I had stepped up my game when it came to writing wedding vows. When Joe and I first started dating, I was still in college and wrote a lot of spoken word poems. Some even, for Joe. It’d been years since I’d written one. As a meaningful gesture, I wrote my vows in a spoken word poem for him.

The morning of our wedding, we both had to rewrite our vows nicely on fresh paper because we’d only packed the rough drafts. So I wrote mine out on one end of our room, and he wrote his on the other. I finished rewriting mine, meanwhile Joe is still sitting there – slightly staring into the abyss, periodically writing something down.

That worm! Is he just writing his vows NOW?!!

So our wedding time came and I was unsure what Joe’s vows would be. I was half preparing for a bulleted list of nonsense.

DSC_0032His vows were perfect. They were heartfelt, meaningful to us, and touched on the things we both love and find important.

So what the heck had he been twiddling with for so freaking long?

My twerp of a husband was messing with me. That whole time he was sitting there pretending to struggle with his vows, he was scribbling Bruno Mars song lyrics on the back of the paper!

I’ll get you for this, my pretty!

Everyone we worked with from our Grecian wedding planner’s company was wonderful. We had so much fun laughing with them, enjoying our happy moment of foreverness, taking in as much beauty as our eyes would let us, and sharing cake and champagne with them as well as our hotel staff, who felt like our long distance Greek family members while we stayed there.

DSC_0080Makin’ it legal.

DSC_0103Say Aaaaaah!

DSC_0120Something blue.

DSC_0125Cheers to our Big Fat Secret Greek Wedding!

Thank you to everyone who supported us and our big surprise!
We so enjoy sharing our 2 special weddings with you all.

Have you ever kept a big secret from your closest loved ones?
How did it go over when you finally told them?

The Wedding(s) of the Century

Hello Friends!

Wedding weekend extravaganza is officially over. Joe and I were married this weekend…

Or were we?

That’s right, we had a bit of a surprise during our ceremony.

But now the cat’s out of the bag, and you all can be in on it too! During the wedding, we showed a slideshow, and today I’d like to share it with all of you! (It’s 7 minutes long, so those wanting to jump to the really good part, should fast forward to 4:30ish.)

*All music composed and/or arranged by Joe Gantzer, except the Greek song, all vocals by Joe Gantzer and Jess Witkins. The Disney song has been rearranged by Joe Gantzer.

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Pajama Party

Meet my parents.

Here’s another glimpse into my writing project this week. I’ve spent more time editing the chapters about my family’s restaurant than any other chapters. So much to fit in.

This throwback thursday features another themed New Year’s Eve Party – pajama jammer. My pops wore long underwear, and if I know him, the butt flap was probably open. (But he would have had undies underneath!) At least, I hope so.

I’m pretty sure I had a Christmas dress at one point that matched my mother’s nightgown.

And you can see I’m modeling a very similar plaid ensemble. (pronounced un-some-bleh)

I’m calling this shot…Escanaba in da Moonlight meets The Berenstein Bears.

Pajama Party

What’s a funny memory you have of your parents?
Can’t think of one…what about the way they dressed you? Huh, huh?

In the Mood: A Non-traditional Date Night

How was everyone’s Valentine’s Day? Do tell. Dish!

Are you a hopeless romantic when it comes to Cupid? Or are you more into Singles Awareness Day?

I would be ok with this.

I think Valentine’s Day is like any other holiday. Yes, of course the stores use it to make money so we’re bombarded with sales pitches and $$$ signs. Plus the media focuses on romantic love relationships, which is leaving a lot of people out.

Why not celebrate all kinds of love?

I sent Valentine’s to my mom and pop, my sis, and my bestie. No gifts. Just a nice note letting them know I was thinking of them.

There was a lot of chatter at work and online, everyone asking each other what their Valentine’s plans were. I heard the whole spectrum: from the traditional fancy dinner reservations to a Walking Dead marathon. They both sound great to me!

Joe and I started a non-traditional tradition for Valentine’s day a few years ago where we stay in and gorge on my favorite date night dinner: meat, cheese, crackers, fruit, all with a variety of spreads like pepper jams, mustard, and jelly, and of course, WINE.

VDayThe perfect romantic evening spread.

Ok, ok. I know you see it mixed in there and are scratching your heads. Why, you may ask, did we watch The Silence of the Lambs for Valentine’s Day?

Well, that’s our tradition. We watch very (emphasis on the very) un-Valentiney movies for Valentine’s. I think it started the year Joe convinced me to watch Tremors.

I am the best fiance ever. Seriously.

I readily agreed to watching Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins solve the Buffalo Bill murder investigation.

I gotta say, you all cracked me up when I shared that photo online. Many of you asked where the fava beans were. And had we been smart, we would have picked out a nice chianti. 😉

Thank goodness Joe didn’t buy me any lotion for V-Day! That might have set the creepy bar over the edge.

Instead, he got us a new plant. His name is Hubert. Say hello, Hubert.

HubertThe card says “We should be able to keep it alive.”

Two years ago, Joe got me a plant for my birthday. She was beautiful with peach colored blossoms. We named her Calliope. We gave her sunlight and water and took her outside sometimes…only to learn that she didn’t like a lot of sun or weather changes or water.

#GardeningFail

We started over on last year’s birthday with a new plant we named Rue. After Rue McClanahan (Blanche in the Golden Girls). I like my plants to have pizzazz. Rue and Hubert are happily watching out the kitchen window for spring to come. Which I fear is never.

What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate all forms of love? What’s your favorite non-traditional date night activity you and your love share?

And stick around for some mystery this Friday when I have guest blogger, Kathy Owen, on The Happiness Project talking about Sherlock Holmes and “The Red-Headed League.” I can’t wait!

My Virtual Wedding Party – Guess Who’s In It!

I’ve been working on wedding planning…which let me say, is NOTHING like the Disney movies depicted. Snow White had it so freakin easy. Seven little men to boss around and she SLEPT through the whole planning process! She just woke up with her prince there!

Sign me up for hibernation until the honeymoon!

How do I make THAT happen? *waves magic wand*

Nothin. CRAP-A-KAZAM!

Well, Joe and I decided a long time ago we would not have a wedding party. A non-traditional, but more intimate, part of our day that I’m happy about. I like it that the only one I’m going to meet at the alter is him.

And let’s be honest, I’ve been in enough weddings to last me a great while, so I don’t need a bridal party to complete the day. I used to tell Joe I was going to write a book about us, and I would call it Every Role But the Bride because I’ve literally been EVERY ROLE but the bride: junior bridesmaid, maid of honor, bridesmaid, flower girl, officiant – in that order, no less. I know, it confuses me too.

Now I’ve taken to referring to our story as That Book About Us. It is our own. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since I don’t have a swarm group of bridesmaids, and we’re still figuring out the details for other wedding necessities, I thought I’d break away for some fun by planning my virtual wedding party!

Jess’s Super Awesome Virtual Wedding Party

Officiant > Gene Lempp  My longtime writing partner, beta reader, and best of all, friend, who I will always refer to as the “Writer Whisperer” because no one can talk down my spaz like Gene has to be the officiant because he sounds like Barry White. (I know, we’ve spoken on the phone.)

Matron of Honor > Marcia Richards  My Redhots bestie who started up the Life List Club with me, is the most positive person I know, overcame cancer, and my favorite – lost her whole manuscript and sat her butt in the chair to REWRITE the whole thing because she cares about her work! We’ve never met in person, but we’ve chatted on the phone and sent care packages to one another for years. Two rules for you, Marcia: #1 – Do not mention Fifty Shades of Gray in your reception speech and #2  – Bring cookies.

Bridesmaids > Misty Laws I met Misty in the comments section of Renee Schuls-Jacobson’s blog, where we could’ve filled an entire blog with just our comments on the movie Singles. What more do you need to know to love this woman?

Renee Schuls-Jacobson  Renee is one of those people who could spit on a page and it would come out being the most beautiful poem you’ve ever read. The girl is TALENTED! She’s going through a tough time right now, so send her lots of love and healing, because I want her to dance at my party!

Julie Glover  Julie’s been my DFWcon roomie for two years, and I’m sad I won’t see her this year. I expect her to kick off karaoke at my bachelorette party.

Flower Woman > Diana Beebe  I love making this lady laugh. I interrupt her often on Twitter re-making song lyrics to help her boost her word count. 😉

Wedding Planner > Jenny Hansen  Let’s face facts. Jenny has an arsenal of decorating supplies and ribbon, so I’d be a fool not to take advantage of her skillz. Plus, can you IMAGINE the crazy things she’d bring to the bridal shower? I’m already blushing!

Caterer > Mark Petruska  Mark and his wife, Tara, are both foodies. Plus, they live near Portland, which is Joe’s and my favorite city. I see voodoo donuts for everyone!

Photographer > Tameri Etherton  And on the wedding day Tameri said “THERE SHALL BE BLING!”

Music > August McLaughlin  I trust August with anything. She would play beautiful guitar ballads for our ceremony, but even if the airline lost her instrument, and all she had was a set of spoons off the buffet table, I know it would still make me cry. August, you should probably start practicing the spoons…just in case.

Dance Party > EVERYONE ELSE!  Now that you’ve all learned how to successfully dance like Peanuts characters, let’s boogie!

Thanks for joining my virtual wedding party y’all!
Now show me those dance moves!

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