Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Steven Oaks, Comic Book Colorist!

When I first met Steve one of the first things he told me about himself was his passion for coloring comics. I didn't know much about it but thought it was great he had a creative side to him. Soon he started showing me each piece he would be working on while we dated. He was great, I don't know if I understood how amazing he was until later.

When we got married Steve continued school and I stopped and started working full time. As time went on we decided school was doing nothing for Steve for his career path to be a comic colorist so we decided to stop. No one was really happy with our decision but we did it anyway. We took a chance and I kept working full-time and Steve just worked on improving his talent and getting a little bit of money here and there. He would spend 10 hours a day just coloring. Everyone would tell me to get him a job so he could help me more with finances since we were living on very little money, hardly enough to get by. I thought yes that would be wonderful but who am I to stop my husband from pursuing his dreams. I could never get anyone to understand how important it was for me to support my husband in his dreams no matter what. Only the best artists in the world make a living, if Steve's life-long dream was to succeed, he would have to dedicate 100% to improving to make it afloat.

As he got better he started getting more work and things were looking up. We moved to Utah because there were better paying jobs down there for me and to be close to family. May 4, 2013 Steve wanted to go into a comic book store for free comic book day. I thought why not and we drove to the nearest one. When we got there we saw a few artists selling their work there. As Steve looked at the work he turned to me and said "you know I am way better then them. Why I am I not doing this?" He asked one of the employees if he could come back later and start selling some of his work and they said he could. We ran to the print store and printed out some of his work. I wasn't happy with how much it cost but we had to try. We got there later in the day after most of the crowd but we ended up selling most of our prints and made a good amount of cash for how many people were there. We were both surprised and pleased with how much people loved his work. I felt it was a good starting direction for Steve.

Not too long after that they announced that there would be a Salt Lake Comic Con. Somehow I found out about the artist alley tables and asked Steve if we should do it. We decided it would be worth a try to see what happened. It cost us at that time a lot of money to buy his set up and all the prints we thought we would need. When we got to the convention we got a great corner booth and started setting up. When the convention started, each day we were needing more prints as we would sell out so quickly. We made many times over what we had hoped. Since then Steve has used the money from that show to build a traveling business where he is able to provide for our family and continues to grow.

It was so great to see so many complete strangers fall in love with his work and ask for his signature on the prints they bought.

As we planned more conventions I would go with him, but over time we realized Steve wouldn't be able to do as many if I went cause of my job and we would lose money with me going cause of the extra plane ticket and food. He now tries to do 2 a month and next year is going to be crazy busy now that we have found out more about different conventions.

I am so proud Steve is living his dream and I have loved meeting all the people that buy his work and the great friends we continue to make at each one. Yes, it's hard having Steve gone so much and it will be even more so when we start our family but I wouldn't change it for the world. Very few people get to live their dreams and my husband is living his. I am glad I never gave up on him and told him to go 'get a job' or continue school. Steve does better now than if he had gone to finish his major in PR. I wouldn't change a thing. It is amazing how far we have come in just one year with Steve doing these conventions. I mean come on we bought a house and are planning to start our family next year. What more can a girl ask for!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Our First Home In Pleasant Grove

Last September Steve and I started realizing that we could possible buy a home. We were tried of renting and knew we wanted to raise our family in Utah. Steve's job lets him live anywhere he wants so why rent when you can buy and make an investment.

We just started him doing conventions in September and have been trying to do at least one a month. That brings in some great money and he makes pretty much as much as I do and sometimes more in 3 days at a convention. But these conventions are not as easy as they sound. They are exhausting! You wake up early in the morning every day, you have to set up, take down, have good energy even if you having a bad sales day, you eat granola bars and Gatorade all day, you can't really leave your table (and these are 8 to 11 hour days), and you are fighting not to fall asleep. The thing that gets me through when I go is knowing we get to go out to eat after. I use to try to go to all of them with him but they are out of state and I don't want to take the time off work and it cost us more money for me to go too. So I just go to the Utah ones and there are three of them and that is more then enough for me. I don't know how Steve does them, but we did just get him a portable tablet so he just works while he is there and brings a monitor so everyone can see how he does his work.

That being said in November we put in an offer and was accepted on a townhome before we had all the money we needed thinking we would get it by the time we closed. That didn't happen so we had to back out. It was hard but there was no way it was going to work out. I wasn't as sad as I thought I would be but we decided we would try again in about a year from then. We did our calculations and decided on September as the time we would have the money we needed to buy our first home. I never stopped looking at homes. I kept watching so I could get an idea of the market and what was a good deal.

In March this townhome in the same place as the last one came on the market. I had a list of homes I liked as they came up just encase any would be for sale when the time came for us to buy. I liked this home but I knew it would most likely sale before we had a chance. As time went on they started dropping the price. Then in June it went down the lowest I had seen for that area. That day I showed Steve and asked if we should go see it, maybe they would take a 90 day contract. I called them Monday June 16th to get a time to see it and told them what are situation was. We got there and loved it and the lady gave us different options to help us see if we could close in 30 days. The seller wouldn't accept a longer contract. So I talked to my family friend Julie. We spent all night trying everything to make it work. Finally after making some calls we where able to find I way to get our money in time. We put in our offer that night. We found out the lady selling it was 92 years old and didn't want to sell it but couldn't use stairs anymore cause of surgery and a heart attack. They had 3 offers come in in the beginning but she wasn't ready to sell. When they finally found her a place and moved her in, she finally was ready to accept an offer. The only thing was the other offers had expired. She had dropped the price 5,000 dollars so she could sell it as soon as possible. The day my realtor took our offer for the seller to look at another offer came in offering the same amount as us but she had already left so it was too late. They had just barely missed their chance for her to take their offer with her to show the seller.

As we started the process working towards closing everything went so smoothly. Our loan got approved in 2 and a half business days with no conditions! That is very rare! In all it took us 3 weeks from the day we saw it to close. That didn't stop me from stressing or not sleeping good at night lol. The only problem was Steve was going to be gone during the weekend we were to move in. So I called up all the people I could and got 9 people to load the truck and 4 people to unload it. I was really scared to drive the truck and leave others to organize it, but it all worked out. Then my family came over and we got everything unpacked and in it's place that day (I can't stand having things in boxes and would have stayed up all night until it was done). We know we are meant to start our family and life here in this home. There has to be a reason why everything worked so smoothly.

So far we are loving every minute of it and can't wait to make some upgrades. Just knowing it's our makes all the difference! It amazing how much better you take care of a place knowing it's yours vs. renting. I also learned that moving in 95 degree weather isn't my favorite thing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In memory of my Aunt Jeanna...

On May 19th my dear, sweet Aunt Jeanna passed away from ovarian cancer. She had fought the disease for almost 20 months. She tried with everything she had to beat it and thought she could but the disease took over. It surprises me how many people aren't very close to their extended family, but in my family we are together pretty much every holiday and it is always a party. My Aunt Jeanna was without a doubt my best friend and someone I could always talk to. She didn't get married until she was almost 38, so at times I felt she could really understand a lot of things I was going through. It was fun to talk with her about boys and she would always joke about how dumb they were if I needed cheering up or just a laugh. Every once in awhile she would bring a boyfriend to family outings and I would always remember evaluating them to see if they were worthy of my aunt. No one really was until Lou. The second I met him I could see how caring he was to Jeanna and he just fit with her so nicely. Lou was by her side every moment while having cancer. He never left her side. The tender way he was there for her amazes me and makes me so happy she had someone to be her rock and love her till the end. At my grandma's house there are only two queen beds and when we visited, my parents would take one and if Jeanna was there she would take the other. I never liked sleeping on the floor or on an air mattress so one day I asked if I could sleep next to her. From that day on every time we were all over it was a known fact I would be sleeping next to Jeanna. We both liked sleeping in so we never woke each other up.
A year or so before she was diagnosed she traveled the world with Lou. She loved to travel and experience new things. She was strong and brave and could conquer anything. She lived her life to the fullest every day. I still think she is just some where around the world and I will see her the next family outing. Her funeral was so spiritual, I wanted to sit there all day just to feel her close and hear stories about her. I didn't want to let her go, I didn't want to finalize the realty that she was gone. Before she passed away I was looking for a 5k
to sign up for to keep me motivated to exercise. That is when I found the Susan Komen breast cancer run. Knowing breast cancer is linked to ovarian cancer, I decided to run it for her. I was going to make a shirt and send her pictures. That day came and it was wonderful running it with my cousin. I called my mom to see if she thought Jeanna would see it, she said that she hadn't been very alert in awhile so she may never get to see the pictures, my heart broke. Then as I was still on the phone my grandma messaged me and said she would show Jeanna when she woke up. The next day she did and got to see the pictures and it made her smile. A week or two before she passed away I wanted so much to call her and talk to her one last time. I never got to because she couldn't talk to anyone on the phone cause she was so weak. I just had to trust that she knew what was in my heart and how much I loved her and all she meant to me. I only got to see her once after she was diagnosed and that was in February. I hadn't seen her in over 2 years and I am glad I got to see her one last time even if it was only for a couple days. When I walked in the door and saw her she hugged me close and told me she never wanted to be away from each for that long ever again. It's bittersweet to think of that because yes it will be longer then that till I see her again but in a way she will always be with me by my side in spirit.  There are so many things I wish I would have done more of before she died. I miss her so much words can't explain. No one will ever take her place. I will never forget her playing with my hair making it look silly and telling me how pretty it looked and just to keep it the way it was as we laughed together. I will try to think of her just on another adventure traveling the world and I will see her soon. I know that she will be such a help to me in my life. I often think of what her life could of been, if she had kids, what other travels would she have went on, where she would have settled to buy a home. I wish so much she got to experience more in life, but I know she lived her life to fullest for as long as she had. It's like she always knew she needed to live life more fully than most. If I am blessed with two daughters one of them will be named Jane Mae, similar to Jeanna Mae and I will raise her to be just like her. I love her so much and will always remember the good times we had.

Forever and always Jeanna, you will never be forgotten or just a memory!

"You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same again. Nor should you be the same nor should you want to."