When I asked Sheri if she would allow me to interview her for this week's article, she said, ”I'm game as long as you are there to walk me through it.” My reply to her was, “Take my hand. We're going for a walk.”
It wasn't long, however, before Sheri began walking without me! She had so many memories to share, that she didn't even need me anymore. So I will let her words go out on their own. Put your walking shoes on and let's go!
Nancy: Alright. Now, here's what I want you to do, Sheri. Just start talking about yourself. What are some of your most special memories?
Sheri: The youngest of six kids, I was born in the US Army Hospital in Bad Kreutznach Germany many years ago. (But not THAT many. 1965 – I don't really mind telling) I don't remember very much of the years we spent in Germany, then Tacoma WA and back to Germany again.
We moved to Eatontown, New Jersey, in the middle of my 2nd grade year. My first day of school was Valentine's day. I remember being sad because I thought I wouldn't get any Valentines. But I was so happy and surprised to receive a few that day. Some of the kids came with extras “just in case.” Because of that, I always had my kids take an extra Valentine to school with them, just in case. In New Jersey, I met my childhood friend Lagina. We met in 3rd grade and spent every free moment together. During one class trip we stayed in a cabin, and in the evening all the kids had to put on skits. Lagina and I acted out the theme song to Lavern and Shirley. I was Shirley and she was Lavern. That is one of my best memories from childhood. Through all odds, with both fathers in the Army and moving very far away in 7th grade (me to WI and her later to FL), we stayed in touch. She came to WI to be my Maid of Honor and loved WI so much she moved here. Eleven years ago, I lost her to an auto accident. I still miss her terribly.
My mom used to make a sour milk cake that we all loved. She would only make it if milk had gone sour. Since we all loved milk, this wasn't very often. We learned to fill a glass of milk and hide it on top of the refrigerator. A few days later someone would pull it out of hiding and tell mom that somehow this cup of milk got left out. Worked like a charm though I'm sure mom wasn't fooled one bit.
Speaking of mom, she gave us a weekly allowance of $2.00. My sister (Jeannie63 here on cubits) and I would go to the mall to spend our allowance. I looked up to my big sister so much, I never even questioned what she told me. She would buy a 45 (remember those, they are black circle things that play one song on each side?) for 98 cents. I would buy perhaps a 25 cent piece of candy and she would say to me. "Hey, you know what would be cool? When we got here we had the same amount of money and now we don't. We should put our money together and split it evenly so we both have the same again." I am embarrassed to say, I fell for that countless times. I do have to admit though, to her credit, she more than made up for it in our adult years!
Nancy: You have five siblings, and you are the youngest. That can make for a lot of teasing! But you and your sisters actually have a very special relationship. Would you please talk about that?
Sheri: My sister Jeannie, is my best friend. Oh, don't get me wrong, we rub each other wrong sometimes. You can tell a best friend when you can argue, talk about it, make up and then laugh about it. That's us! When we were supposed to be going to bed, she would grill me on things she felt were important. She was "the brain" and due to her nightly grilling, I can now spell encyclopedia VERY quickly and I can still recite the alphabet from Z to A. Yes, she made me learn it backwards. She would also grill me on spelling. I can recall her telling me that if I would say words correctly, I just might be able to spell them right. This was after I spelled suitcase "SOUPCASE." Hey, when I said it I could clearly hear that “P” in there!
I remember as kids, walking to the PX (post exchange, a small general type store on the army base). We would find a craft kit that could be done in a day or so and then go home and "craft" for the rest of the day. We made our dolls shoes out of fabric scraps and cardboard and we made our Barbies rugs. Not sure what you call the craft but it worked on the principle of the Knifty Knitters you can buy now. You used a wooden thread spool and put a few nails in the top and then pretty much weaved and looped yarn over the nails and through the center of the spool. We would take these long skinny "snakes" and roll them, sewing the edges together, to make a coiled rug for Barbie and Ken.
Nancy: Do you still see much of each other, now that you've all grown up and moved apart?
Sheri: The year I got divorced, I went out to spend a week with Jeannie in Pennsylvania. After that, I went out every spring for a week. Jeannie belonged to Keystone Lace Guild and she taught me how to tat. I enjoyed it so much that she paid for my membership, and each year when I went to visit her, we went to the Lace Guild weekend retreat. Some of the gals did tatting and some did bobbin lacing. I learned bobbin lacing too, eventually. I have a small coin purse I made with bobbin lace. I still keep in touch with one of the ladies from the Guild thanks to Facebook.
We also have a “Christmas Card weekend” every year. It started with just the two of us and our mom. Each of us designs three cards, then puts together four kits of our designs for each person to make. So at the end of the weekend we have each made 36 cards. Two years ago, our sister Charlene came up from TX to join us. She added her three designs. So now we each make 48 cards by the end of the weekend. We decided to make it a three day weekend and spend Monday doing envelopes. We have a great time with this every year.
Nancy: I think it sounds like you have a wonderful family! Not many of us have the opportunity to maintain such a loving and close-knit relationship with the folks we have loved. I'd like to hear about your married life, your kids and your career, too.
Sheri: I graduated High School in Janesville WI 1983. The next year I took a one-year technical course for Early Childhood. I married my first husband in 1984 and we went to the US Army Base, Schwabisch Gmund, Germany. We lived on the economy (not in military housing) in Mutlangen. I learned the language enough to go shopping and converse with our German landlords that lived below us. The German Mark was at a very good rate so I took advantage of it and bought a Pfaff sewing machine on the German market. My mom had bought a Pfaff around the time I was born and was still using it, 20 some years later. Though I wasn't very good at sewing at the time, I was determined to buy a Pfaff while in Germany. It was probably a silly dream, but I always wanted a sewing machine of the same brand as my mother's. I still sew on that machine.
While in Germany, we traveled to Holland for the tulip festival, and to France and Spain. I also did volunteer work for the Army Community Services. We then moved to Copperas Cove Texas (Ft Hood) in 1985. I did some substitute work there for local day care centers, then was employed full time by The Academy of Smaller Scholars.
In 1986, my husband left the Army and we returned to Janesville, where I worked for KinderCare Inc, then later left their employ to watch one of my sister's three children at home.
We moved again to manage a veal farm. My daughter was born while we were there. We later moved yet again! This time I worked as a cashier. I quickly gained a reputation as a fast and friendly checker. I had a few regulars who would wait in my line even when another was empty. I had my son while working at the grocery store. (almost literally) Funny story! My husband had recently been laid off from his job and I knew I was facing six weeks of UNPAID maternity leave. I went into labor about 1/2 way into my shift but was determined to work until the end of it (last pay check and all). Therefore I said nothing to my co-workers or boss. I almost made it. At 10:30 pm, 30 minutes before the end of my shift, I was checking out one of my regulars and had a hard contraction. When she asked me what was wrong and I told her, she went up to the customer service desk and the next thing I knew I was ordered to leave RIGHT THEN! My manager cashed out my till; she wouldn't even let me do that. I had to get my husband, and then we drove about 1/2 hour to the hospital. My son was born at 12:02 am. You can see I didn't leave much time for anything!
When my son was about six months old, I started working at a factory and stayed for the next 13 years. During that time, I was divorced. I met John, my second husband, at my job. When we eloped, Sept 29, 2000, I gained a stepdaughter and a stepson. I now have five grandkids and another on the way (due May 20th).
Nancy: You are very close with your kids, aren't you? One in particular has even joined Cubits.
Sheri: Yes. Alicia is going to college at UW Superior and can be found occasionally on Cubits as BohoLovin. Her avatar is a peace sign with a very "hippie" looking graphic behind it. That really captures her essence. She has a double major in Legal Studies and Political Science with an emphasis on International Peace Studies. Now if you ask me what that means, all I can tell you is she is going to be some kind of lawyer and I am sure she will never live in our small town again.
I do have a very close relationship with my daughter. She recently did a photo challenge on Facebook, and was to post a photo of someone she couldn't imagine her life without. She posted a photo of me and said, "My momma. Obviously I wouldn't have life without her, but it's more than that. My mom is truly one of my best friends and she's been there for me in ways no one else has or can. Love you, momma!" It still brings tears to my eyes to read that!
I tend to talk a lot about my daughter, but I really am very proud of all four of our children. My son lives nearby and works full time at a factory. He has always been a hard worker and is never without a job for long. He is still trying to decide what he wants to do with his life. My stepdaughter is a stay at home mom with two boys and one baby girl. My stepson is a stay at home dad for his two kids, and another is on the way. Jodi, his wife, works full time at a local daycare center and is working towards a nursing degree.
Nancy: The feeling I get from listening to you is “warm and fuzzy.” Hearing about your life makes me happy. There's another topic that I know is very important to you. Talk to us about your birds.
Sheri: Growing up we had two budgies. “Joe and Fancy” had babies, and my sister and I kept one of them. The first time the babies were out of the cage was July 4th and we named our bird Abraham for Abraham Lincoln. She was a girl so we called her Abbie. When my daughter left for college and I took over her room, I finally had a place to keep a bird again. It wasn't long before I decided to bring the birds (four by this time) downstairs. They can be found in their birdie mansion in the dining room or rolled out into the living room. They are all fully flighted and I love to watch them fly and play together. You can find several puzzles of my "Caribbean Crew" on the Playpen of Graphics cubit in the jigsaw puzzle forum. I lost Aruba and Cayman Jan 20th and Jan 27th respectively. That was very rough on me going from six birds to three in a month's time. Right now I have Kokomo, Caico, Antigua and the newest addition, Andros. In January, I re-homed Jamaica. She proved to be female and I wasn't comfortable with the idea of baby birds. The budgie population is already way over populated and I didn't want to add to the situation.
Nancy: I've seen the photos and I've worked the jigsaw puzzles! They are very colorful and pretty birds, and I enjoyed getting to see them. Now, let's talk about your cubits.
Sheri: I have three cubits here. I started the Computer Q & A cubit not because I am a computer wiz (I'm not), but because I wanted to build a place where I could get answers to my own questions. It is not one of the most active cubits, but as more find out about it, we do get more posts. There are a few wonderful people who DO know more about computers, that keep an eye on it and are always happy to give the answers they can.
I also have the TV & Movie cubit. I enjoy TV shows and movies. I like to talk about them with others so I started the cubit. We have fun there discussing what we like, or don't like, about a particular show or movie. I have watched a lot of interesting movies because of discussions there. Someone mentioned “A Raisin in The Sun” and after watching that one, I watched a few other Sydney Poitier movies also. I don't think I had ever seen a movie he was in before that.
The other cubit, Coffee..and friends :+), is a chat cubit I inherited from someone who started it and then decided she didn't want to keep it. I added a photo forum, and people are free to start their own threads to share photos of whatever they want (just so they are not X-rated). We are a small group who enjoy sharing our lives and lending moral support to others. We're also open to newcomers.
I think the saying "I love my computer, it's where my friends live," was written for me! I play Scrabble with several friends on Facebook. I really like Facebook, as it has helped me develop relationships with some very wonderful people I would never have met otherwise, and forge relationships with cousins I never get to see.
Nancy: So you like to play computer dominoes with Jeannie, and you like to play computer scrabble too. I know you have other interests also, so I'd love for you to talk about your hobbies.
Sheri: I have always enjoyed reading. In grade school I read all of the Betsy and Mr. Kilpatrick books by Carolyn Haywood. In Jr. High I worked my way through all of the Perry Mason books. In the 90's I started reading books by Lawrence Block. I have read almost every book he has written and already have a hold on the Kindle edition of the next book he has due to come out in May of this year. I have been known to say that the sooner there is a dead body found in a book, the better the book will turn out to be.
Right now, my husband and I are working our way through 1960's gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. We have gotten most of the DVD's from NetFlix but have had to purchase a few that they are missing. We are about 2/3 the way through. What got us started watching it? I recall a childhood memory, or maybe it's one of those stories told and retold until you think you remember it. As a small child of three or four, I was not allowed to watch Dark Shadows, but my older sisters were. I had to take a nap upstairs. I used to sneak down the staircase and lay there head first so I could get a peek at the show. When I saw it on NetFlix I simply had to watch it and see what it was that interested me so much at such a young age. We can't wait for the 2012 Dark Shadows movie to be released. Johnny Depp is slated to play Barnabas Collins, the vampire. For Valentine's day this year, my husband surprised me with a silver plated jewelry box that was used on the set of Dark Shadows.
My other hobbies include, scrapbooking/card making, sewing, iris folding, glass etching and gardening. I also enjoy digital photo manipulation. I spent months repairing my father's Basic Training photo. It had been stored rolled up and flattened. It had a number of creases and was torn into three pieces.
Nancy: I'm so glad we can include a picture of that restoration work, and also one of your proud Dad, admiring it! Now, how is it that you wound up in the Daycare business?
Sheri: In 2003 I took a voluntary layoff from my job for the summer and helped my step daughter out by watching her son when she worked. At the end of the layoff, their doctor said I was not fit to do my job due to a back injury (at work) and foot problems (from the factory floor). After some thought and prayer, I decided this was another blessing by the Lord. I started paperwork to open a licensed daycare in my home.
I finally feel like I am where I belong in my life. I LOVE working with children. Not many people can really say they get paid to do what they love. I also teach a three day/week preschool program in my daycare. Every fall we have a Grandparents Day. In September or October, the preschool kids invite their grandparent(s) to come spend a morning with us. They arrive around 9:30 and the kids sing songs for them. They share a snack, which they helped me make the day before, and do crafts together. The grandparents love watching the little ones sing and play. Sometimes we play a game, then the kids show them things that they play with. They always get a kick out of showing the grandparents the nap room. One little boy I watched a few years back had moved away, then later returned to town after he was in school, with a baby brother. When I had an opening, his brother started coming to my house. His mom told me that when she told her mother the little one was going to be coming to Sheri's house, she asked if I still did Grandparents Day! She is already looking forward to it for next year.
Nancy: Sheri, is there anything else you'd like us to know about you before we say goodbye?
Sheri: Growing up, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be, I always said, "A mommy." Now if you ask me what a want to be when I grow up I will tell you "Retired." Not sure I'll be grown up even then.
I can almost always be found with a cup of coffee close at hand. I'm a blue jeans, no makeup kind of gal. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I try to be happy. It doesn't always work, but I keep on trying.
After working on this interview together, I find that Sheri is someone it would be nice to live near and to spend time with. I hope you have enjoyed reading about Sheri as much as I have. Won't you stop by and say hello? Thank you for reading, and remember to come back next week. I think it's going to be quite an interesting interview!