25 years: Year 5, 97-98

Our first year in Phoenix wasn’t necessarily easy, but I don’t really think we noticed the struggle. I later learned this was because we were borrowing money from my mother-in-law. And borrowing is not the correct word choice. We weren’t paying it back. Any way, most of the time I won’t bring the little nit-picky things like this up, but money is unfortunately one of those wretched threads in our lives. We suck at it and I like to point it out. Not because I want either John or I to feel bad, but because I would love for my children to possibly learn from my mistakes, and also so I don’t forget.

Kids, it is important to have support no matter what, but it is also important to learn to handle your own struggle. It’s easier at 20 than it is at 40.

So in 1997 we were a happy little family. We were no longer in the roach motel apartment. I was actually teaching! And it was Kindergarten. And Alec was just down the hall because it was a charter school. We had Kara and John & Sarah for support if we needed help with Alec.

Here’s where we get a little fuzzy. We know we went home that year, and believe it was probably Thanksgiving. Back then, we could afford to fly. That Christmas, everyone came to see us. And I mean everyone. (if I don’t have a picture of you here, I’m sorry, my picture organization skills stink) We were now the vacation destination – especially in the winter. Who wouldn’t want to leave yucky Illinois winter weather for sunny Arizona? And back then it was temperate in the winter in AZ.

After Christmas came and went, we were back at school. I was a first year teacher, and I absolutely LOVED those kids. Creating centers for them to have differentiated learning was critical to my existence. The more I worked with these kids and the older Alec was getting, I found my biological clock ticking. I honestly never thought I would have more than one, but I found myself wanting another kid.

Right around John’s birthday that year, we got pregnant with Eric. We did not handle announcing him well at all. I believe we sent an e-card. Kids, here’s today’s lesson. Don’t send an e-card to tell your parents you are having a baby.

That May, John left Subway and went to work with his first geotechnical company. Woohoo! We were moving on up in the world. Best part, separating business and friendship. Working for your best friend’s family was stressful.

That summer, I did temp work again, just to make ends meet since we were going to have a second kid. The teaching job only paid $18K/year and it was only during those 9 months. Alec went to Illinois for most of the summer, going from family to family in Illinois and Missouri.

Pregnancy was not my friend this time around. I was uncomfortable from the beginning. I was also a witch. I actually don’t know how John didn’t leave during this pregnancy. I was a hot mess before people even started using that terminology.

When school resumed, I moved up with my kids to first grade. We changed locations, as the charter school was starting to really struggle financially. Alec moved with me, but he had a tough time there. By the end of September we were leaving the school. This was the ONLY time in my life I left a job without having a job in its place.

Remember how I mentioned this pregnancy made me crazy, well…once I left the charter school, I ended up working as a hostess at a restaurant right by the Subway. It was owned by one of the former owners of the restaurant John worked at back in college. See, I can’t be idle. I go crazy if I’m not contributing to the family bottom line. Even if it really isn’t helping, like this probably wasn’t. I’m sure we were still borrowing money from Karen. I know we had borrowed money from my parents for my student loans. Again, can you say “hot mess.”

Fortunately, there was some stability right around the corner. Eric about to join us. 1999 was going to be a better year, or at least one could hope, right?

Note: this is the last year with so few pictures. It was kind of disappointing. I suspect our parents have some.

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