I was born in Nebraska, moved to Wisconsin, and spent most of my life growing up in Rockford, IL.
My family consisted of my parents, one older sister, and two brothers.
We had a rescue dog (chow/golden retriever/German shepherd) named Buddy and a black & white cat (with half a tail) named Kitty, which we purchased at a farmer’s market.
My childhood was carefree and worry-free. I spent most of my time riding my bike around the neighborhood and to a nearby park, roller skating, walking up to the “candy store” with $1 in hand, going to the pool or Magic Waters in the summer, sledding in the winter, and reading The Babysitters Club & Sweet Valley Books.
When I entered my tweens, I became obsessed with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Hanson, the Backstreet Boys (Nick Carter was my favorite), and Nsync. I had pictures from Teen Beat magazine plastered all over my closet. Most summer days were spent at the local pool with two of my best friends—we ogled the cute boys, giggled, lathered on sun tan oil, and immersed ourselves in our insecurities & poor body images.
In high school, my friendships changed—my best friend pretended like she didn’t know me (in an effort to become popular) and so I made new friends. Filled with hope freshman year, I played softball (mostly sat on the bench), sang in the choir, joined various clubs like Key Club, breakfast club, and SADD—mostly because my friends and I wanted to be in the yearbook more than once. In my sophomore and junior years I was a reporter for the newspaper. By my senior year, I was pretty jaded. I withdrew from all but one of my “friends”, quit the newspaper, and couldn’t wait to begin life as an adult.
From the time I turned 16, I applied for job after job and was never hired. It was an impossible time to get a job, I was terrible at interviews and shy. It was really stressful for me and didn’t do anything for my self-esteem. When I graduated from high school, I decided to live with my aunt and uncle in Branson, MO for the summer and try to get a job so that I could pay for my college education. I worked at a theater and at a retail store and saved almost every cent that I made. I earned enough to pay for my first year of college.
I attended Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL. I remember meeting with a guidance counselor when I registered for classes and he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to be either a doctor or an English teacher and he kind of laughed and said “You’d better pick one because they are total opposites”. I picked English and now I know it was definitely the right choice.
I was able to transfer from the retail store in Branson to one in Rockford and so I finally had a job at home. I worked part time and attended school full time. I was able to pay for my first two years of college by myself. Attending college gave me new hope and I felt like my life was turning around.
In my second year of college, I met the man who would become my husband. I’ll save all of the details of that for another post, but my life finally started looking up. Since he lived in Iowa and I lived in Illinois, we took turns driving out to see each other on the weekends. Since I was working retail and he had a Monday through Friday job, he often drove out to Rockford and would wait for me to get off work so we could spend time together.
I had a horrific experience at my job which left me without a job very suddenly. The entire thing was traumatic for me and is something I am planning to speak with my counselor with at some point! I still can’t get over it. But it really was a blessing in disguise because I found a new job that was so much better. I was paid more, treated with respect, and my boss was so nice and she would allow me to have most weekends off—which gave me time to get to know my boyfriend better.
It wasn’t all that long before we were engaged. I graduated with my Associates of Arts and we were making plans that I would move out to Iowa after the wedding. And that’s just what I did! We got married in October 2006.
Moving away from home and from my family was tough. I missed my mom so much, especially at the very beginning. I was happy to be married, but I would sit on the couch and cry because I missed my mom. Maybe that sounds sappy, but she was my best friend—and is still one of them! Eventually, I got used to it.
I quickly found a new job by transferring to an Iowa location of the place I worked for in Illinois. It worked out great until I found a better job. I have all of that detailed out in my post Before I become a Stay at Home Mom, so I won’t go into all of that.
It took me four years to complete my last “two years” of college because I was working full time and going to school part time. We had to pay the bills! I ended up changing my major when I realized teaching might not be for me. I graduated with a B.A. in English Language and Literature.
The details of my job from there on are detailed in the post mentioned above. It was during these years as a student that I began changing my life. I lost almost 90 lbs. and did a lot of emotional work that really paid off. I started this blog.
Marriage was the hardest in that first year or two—which is understandable because we were just getting used to living together and really getting to know each other more, for better or for worse. Through all of it, we were happy and in love. We added two cats to our family, Dudley and Daisy—farm cats from the in-law’s farm.
As you know, we now have a one year old baby girl. Every day, I love my hubby a little more. I have to say that my experience with postpartum depression has made me love him and respect him more than ever. I really did find a wonderful man and we have a sweet little family.