Christmas Surprise

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I have the best husband and family and friends ever.


Marc spent over a month leading up until Christmas organizing a massive Christmas surprise for me.

He contacted all the family and friends he could come up with the contact information for. He set up a gift registry at Williams-Sonoma and had everyone send the gifts *ie support* to our friends house along with notes of encouragement. On Christmas day he made me wait to open a jewelry shaped box from him until Tom and Jaime showed up. When I opened it, there was a note inside that took me on "The Amazing Chase." Tom and Jaime stayed with the kids and Marc and I wandered through the neighborhood finding clues and deciphering codes. Tom met me with a embroidered chef's coat *Yay!* and my final clue. We headed back to the house and there were all the gifts lined up in front of the tree. I was blown away by the love and support everyone showed me. I am well equipped now to begin this wonderful journey I never thought I would actually be taking. I definitely got choked up reading everyone's wonderful notes. I cannot tell you how much it touched me to have everyone do that for me. My husband is the best husband in the world and I don't know how I got so lucky as to find him on my first *and only!* try at marriage. I appreciate his thoughtfulness and his complete and total support of me in this endeavor and I am so thankful he made that initial contact with the school. Thank you to everyone who participated in my wonderful, best Christmas EVER, surprise!!!!

Student ID

Friday, December 18, 2009

I went and paid my enrollment fee and got my student ID today. It's really happening! It still is hard for me to believe. I still won't LET myself believe it. What if something goes wrong? It won't!!! I have to keep telling myself that. Nothing will go wrong. This IS happening and I DO deserve it.

I am thankful, once again, for Marc being so willing to help with kids and entertain them while I was running around the school to get this stuff done.


Monday, December 14, 2009

I got my schedule over the phone from Becca today!! It makes it so much more real! My schedule is amazing. I could not have asked for better time slots.

Monday 8-12 Sanitation and Safety
Tuesday 9-11 Dimensions of Culinary Education
1-2 Computer Literacy *I know, I know*
Wednesday 7-12 Fundamentals of Classical Techniques
Thursday 7-12 Fundamentals of Classical Techniques

No classes Friday.

This works so perfectly because Marc works Monday-Wednesday in the evenings so I'll have plenty of time to study on those nights and then he also works Saturday night which gives me time to study the things from Thursday's class. I'm sure I will study more than that, but the days work out well and that gave me a little thrill.

It's also great because Harmony is in preschool during those times so I really won't be missing out on much time with her. I think it will be good for Layla to spend more time with Marc and he's shown that he is really good with working with her. He is working on potty training and colors with her and it's really going well! I finally feel comfortable leaving Layla with anyone other than me. Anyone who met her when she was an infant or even fairly recently will understand that statement. She was an extremely high needs baby who had an attachment to me that I have never seen a child have with a mother before. I honestly think it had alot to do with her birth. With complete and total devotion to making sure that she felt secure as an infant, she finally has started to not freak out when strangers look at her, and even is ok when they talk to her now. She doesn't freak out when I leave the room or even the house anymore. She loves spending time with Daddy and going out with him by herself. I am so thankful that we have come to this point and that I am not feeling guilt at going to school and leaving the kids with Marc. I struggled with that for a bit, but this schedule makes me feel better. I still get to spend the whole afternoon and evening with the kids on school days.
I can't wait to get started!

All the i's and t's...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

...are dotted and crossed!

I am officially enrolled in The Art Institute of Jacksonville's Culinary Arts program! My projected graduation date with an AA is December 2011 and then it's one short year to my bachelors degree. All the paperwork has been filed, they have received all my transcripts, and I have signed everything I need to sign. I still can't believe it. My head is spinning and I can hardly breathe. :D

The most we can do...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Becca and John were able to get payments down to $350 a month. That is already amazing, considering what they were originally going to have to be. I emailed her today and asked if they would be able to lower them even more to a number that we felt more comfortable with. We just didn't want to promise to make a payment just to be able to begin when we aren't sure if we could continue with those payments long term. She emailed me back and after talking it over with everyone higher up, they accepted it! They said that there was a new financing option that wasn't even up and running yet but that I would be the first person to know and the first student they would do this for. Basically, the school is letting me make payments directly to them instead of an outside creditor and they are extending the payments out beyond graduation for me. I love this school!! The people there are so amazing and so supportive and have been so willing to bend over backwards to make this dream come true for me.


The Lunch

Friday, October 16, 2009

Marc and I went to lunch at the Art Institute today. We sat down with Becca, Rob, and John, the finance guy. They were extremely encouraging and let us know that even if it wasn't able to happen right now, not to get discouraged and to keep in contact. Rob told us stories from his past and how he got to where he is and he gave us some insights into our finances right now. They were able to move around some numbers and lowered the payments substantially, but still not enough. It was a good lunch. I was encouraged and discouraged at the same time and more than a little embarrassed at the amount of times I broke down and cried in front of Becca. I couldn't help it and she didn't seem to mind in the slightest. Apparently she does it all the time. They are going to keep working on some things and we are as well. We will see where it all goes but I am afraid to keep letting myself think it may happen.

Dead End

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Today was pretty devastating. I called a couple of the loan places that I applied for personal loans and found that even with a co-signer, I won't be eligible for a loan because of our bankruptcy. My heart sunk. It was hard enough asking for my parents to co-sign but then to not even have that option. It looks like a dead end.

I have been applying for scholarships and grants in every spare moment but the deadline to most have passed because of the time of year, or the deadline isn't for months and I need an award NOW. It's looking pretty grim.

I called Becca to let her know. She said we could make payments to the school but the amount would be around $900/month. We don't have that. Not even CLOSE to that. I'm not sure if we are going to go to the meeting or not at the end of the week. I think I should just so I can meet the people that are high up, so they know me so when I DO get to attend later on, they know how hard I worked, but I know that it will be even harder going there and knowing I can't attend now.

My First Visit to the Art Institute

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today was my first visit to the Art Institute. The previous weekend, Marc (My husband), the kids, and I went down to Ormund Beach to stay with Marc's stepmother and Aunt at their time share. They started talking to us about how they thought that now would be a good time for one of us to go to school. Marc and I talked it over and we agreed. I was thinking in more "practical" terms, and was thinking more along the lines of medical transcription or something along those lines. Marc is actually the one who went online and requested more information from the school.

Becca B. contacted me and we set up the meeting for today. She assured me financial aid was everyone's biggest concern.

I woke up this morning with a dragging feeling. I didn't tell Marc, but I didn't want to go. I didn't see the point. This dream has been buried in me so long that it just seemed like it was something that others got to do. Not me. I knew that thinking like that would make Marc mad, though, so I didn't say anything. We dropped Harmony off at school and headed out. I signed in at the office and we waited.

Becca was warm and friendly from the beginning. It was a flurry of activity from the start as paperwork was began immediately. Things swept along so quickly, I felt my head spinning. Marc left to get Harmony from school while I filled out a FAFSA and personal loan forms. I actually began to get a little excited. Maybe it was really going to happen! Maybe I was going to get to fulfill my dream. Maybe I wasn't going to be just a mom anymore. (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom, and have loved being a stay at home mom, but sometimes your identity as a person can become lost.)

They asked me to write an essay on why I wanted to attend AI and email it to them that night. At one point, I was left alone in the room and in about five minutes I whipped out my essay. The words flowed onto the page with no effort. I didn't have to think about what sounded good or what I thought they wanted to hear. I wrote the truth. I wrote my heart.

I was almost in tears thinking about finally getting to do what I never thought I would. At least, I didn't think I would have the opportunity until I was old and gray. I let myself think, "I could actually be worth this. Maybe I am going to get to be more than average." Because this, to me, is more than average. Doing what I want to do. That is more than ordinary.

Then came a snag. With us having just had a bankruptcy discharged, I would not be able to get a private loan.

I gulped back my tears as we left. It had seemed so close. My spirits had soared. I was able to taste it. Once I was there at the school, I fell in love with it: the school, the people, the possibilities. Then, like that, they dropped again. Marc could see the look in my eyes.

Tonight, I received a call from Becca. Because of my essay, they want me to come back and meet with more people. They really want to help me attend. I got off the phone with her and called Marc. I lost it. I am already emotionally drained. I know if I want this, I am going to have to fight for it. I don't want to get my hopes up, though.

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