Linking Up!

Linkys! I love 'em! So of course I have to join up with Janaye over at Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes for her "My Teacher Story" linky!

When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I graduated high school and enrolled at Concordia College in River Forest, Il. which was just down the street from my high school. Due to step-father complications I had to live in the dorm which terrified me. I was still really awkward and shy. My mom died 1/2 way into the first semester and my step-father cut off all ties with my brothers and me. I had to drop out of school and move to Canada to live with my grandmother.

At one point in Canada I tried to go back to university, but the campus was huge and intimidating and I just couldn't cope. I tried going to a small business school after that to be a secretary and met up with some very sweet girls who tried to convert me to their religion. Unfortunately they told me my mother was in hell since she had been a devout Catholic. I ended up becoming depressed and dropped out of that school too.

I worked in a grocery store for a time and was a nanny. I knew I enjoyed children and desperately wanted my own family, but I couldn't see how that would be possible with a minimum wage job. By that point I had given up on the idea of going back to school. Eventually I decided to go back to the States and join the Army. I called up my biological father and asked if I could stay with him while I went through the enlistment process. Then I called a recruiter in the Chicago area and set up an appointment.

The recruiter was pretty shocked when I actually showed up - he didn't have many people calling him from Canada to enlist lol. I entered the Army in April of 1998 and went to Basic Training in Fort Leonard Wood, MO. After Basic I went to Fort Bliss, TX for additional training which is where I met my husband. We were married after 4 weeks of knowing each other.

 Here's Steven and I when we first met - about a week into our whirlwind courtship lol!

I completed my enlistment in April of 2001 - by that time we had our daughter and I was pregnant with our second child and couldn't see being a dual military couple any more. I worked for TSA for a while when it first started up, I also did a year with the National Guard. Then I decided to use my GI Bill to go back to school to help us out with money - the monthly stipend was a big help! I took night, weekend and online classes so we didn't have to pay for daycare. Eventually we moved to California and then to Germany and I continued taking courses here and there.

Then we moved here to Fort Sill and I began attending Cameron University. I was blessed to meet some wonderful teachers/mentors. I continued to attend full time, even through my pregnancy with my 4th - in fact I had him on a Monday and was back in class that Wednesday night! With every class I took I became more convinced that this was my calling. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Stoll - I took at least one class from her every semester (including summer!) for 6 semesters straight! She is truly a fabulous woman who understands what kindergarten is all about!

My husband was sent to Korea for a year just a few weeks before I graduated. I ended up not walking since I didn't have a babysitter for my 4 kiddos! I was lucky enough to get a job offer after my first interview. I dragged those poor children with me to set up my classroom, then had them staying late, going in early and coming in on the weekends all that first year while my husband was away in Korea. I truly did not know the meaning of the word "balance".
 Steven took this picture of us just a week before he left for Korea.

That first year my middle child ended up hospitalized for pneumonia and I truly understood what a warm and caring school community I was a part of when colleagues took my older kiddos to and from school and my youngest to and from daycare. I had never experienced that kind of coming together except in the military. That whole year did teach me that I have to learn when to say "it's enough" and focus on my own family. It's much easier now that my husband is home to help out and to remind me that it doesn't all have to be perfect!

Here we are a few months after he came home. The sun was very bright and right in our eyes!

So, a bit convoluted, and and a heck of a lot longer than I would have thought back when I was 18 and newly graduated from high school, but I am finally a teacher which is right where I was meant to be all along!

Well now that one linky is finished, how about one more - nothing better than killing two linkys with one post right? When I started seeing "Tell Me More" as everyone's blog post title tonight I was intrigued. Good thing I clicked over to find this great linky from Amy over at Step into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons:
Hmm what quirky things have I not yet revealed?

1. My family loves Nutella. I used to get made fun of all the time for having Nutella sandwiches in my lunch in grade school. They didn't know what they were missing! However, Nutella also now calls up this memory - which everyone still teases me about:
This is my youngest, naked on the countertop, eating Nutella and sprinkles with a butter knife. We had just walked in the door after a long day at work/day care (this was during my first year of teaching while Steven was gone, remember?) and after a few minutes I realized that he was being way too quiet. I walked in the kitchen to find this scene. By the way, he was constantly naked at that age - I used to think I would have to duct tape his clothes to him, no sense of modesty at all unlike my other ones!

2. I don't wear jewelry. Not even my wedding rings. I can't stand watches/bracelets on my wrists and I always snag my rings on things. My engagement/wedding rings are currently in my jewelry box because I lost a diamond out of one (snagging it somewhere) and I just can't be bothered to go get it fixed because I'm so used to not wearing it now. Steven doesn't wear his ring either because of his job, so at least we match! I do love earrings though, but have a bad habit of taking them off in random places and losing one!

3. I love to stay up late - like 4am late! Then I go back to bed for a few hours and get up whenever the kids start getting around. I drink a lot of coffee to function, but I love having the quiet house all to myself!

4. In case you didn't notice above, I like to dress my boys in matching outfits:
Especially on vacations, my boys are always dressed identically. This is partially so that in case we lose one I can just point to one of the others to show everyone what the missing one is wearing. Partially it's just because it's so much easier to get them dressed that way - everyone knows that they're wearing the same thing!

5. Whenever we go someplace, I am forever counting our kids. "1,2,3,4 out the door" is what I say before we leave any store, just so I make sure I don't leave anyone behind. It hasn't happened yet, which I attribute solely to my fanatical counting.

6. I read incessantly. Romances mostly - especially paranormal romances. Complete fluff. But, in my defense, I read all of the classics for fun in high school. For fun people.  I attended an all girl, Catholic high school taught by nuns - so yeah, Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist and Cyrano de Bergerac were  my idea of party time. Now that I'm grown, I'm making up for lost time by reading young adult fiction and romances - and I skip a lot of the descriptive paragraphs!

I think that's enough of my craziness for now! I'm really enjoying reading everyone else's stories too, so be sure to go link up if you haven't yet! 

11 Rustle Up A Response!:

Mrs. Ziegler said... Reply to comment

Wow, I loved this blog before this post, now I love it even more. I really enjoyed your story! If you love linky parties, come check out the one I am TRYING to get up and going:)
First Day of Kindergarten Linky Party

~Rachel
Teaching with Z

Rebecca Stone said... Reply to comment

What an incredible story! I admire you for not only being a military family, but for making school and teaching work with 4 kids. I don't think I've found the perfect balance yet either- do we ever?!?

Thanks for popping in on my blog yesterday- I'd love for you to come back! I'm your newest follower :)

Rebecca
landingink.blogspot.com

Rebecca Stone said... Reply to comment

What an incredible story! I admire you for not only being a military family, but for making school and teaching work with 4 kids. I don't think I've found the perfect balance yet either- do we ever?!?

Thanks for popping in on my blog yesterday- I'd love for you to come back! I'm your newest follower :)

Rebecca
landingink.blogspot.com

Cindy Foreman said... Reply to comment

How funny!! My boys are almost 3 years apart and I used to dress them alike especially when we went to a theme park or a very busy and crowded place for the EXACT same reason! Hubby used to ask me why I did it and I told him "If one of them wanders off I don't have to try to remember what he was wearing I can just point at the other one and say "He was wearing that!" My boys are now 19 and almost 22 so the dressing alike is long gone, although a couple years back my daughter (the oldest) actually bought them matching outfits for a picture shoot she surprised me with for my Christmas present. It was so sweet!

Mrs Poultney said... Reply to comment

Jennifer I was a military kid and am now a military wife. I am eagerly awaiting my hubby's return from Afghanistan in the next few days! I absolutely get everything you said. It is tough to have no family around you, but the teaching community is strong and is always there to help. After 15 yrs married to a military man I feel that we can do anything as a family, but I also know I am a strong mother and can do anything by myself. I laughed when I saw that pic of your son...I have one of those.
Tania
Mrs Poultney's Ponderings

Ms. Kerri said... Reply to comment

Thanks for sharing your story. I have so much respect and admiration for you and your husband.
Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

FirstGradeBlueSkies (Jennifer) said... Reply to comment

Great pictures!
Jennifer
First Grade Blue Skies

Mrs. Crouse said... Reply to comment

Hi there!

I hope you can join me in my first ever Linky Party on "Preparing for School" over at {6th Grade} All-Stars

Hope to see you there!

Mrs. Crouse :)

Lisa R. said... Reply to comment

I didn't know that you were a military family until reading this. Thank you to you & your husband for your dedication to our country! You have a beautiful family & it was great getting to know you more. :)
Lisa
Learning Is Something to Treasure

Mrs. Dwyer said... Reply to comment

I REALLY enjoyed your story! We are a military family also. You're to be admired for being so focused through all you've had to endure! Your family is full of little cuties too! My son would give anything to have a brother to dress alike. He's my baby with 2 older sisters. He keeps trying to convince me to have another kid so he can have a brother, lol! I'm not so sure it works that way! :-)

~Tanya
Mrs. Dwyer’s A+ Firsties

Janaye said... Reply to comment

What an incredible story!! Very inspiring!! Thanks for sharing and linking up. :)

Janaye
Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

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