Letter to My 9 Year Old Self

Dear 9 year old Stephanie,

Today is our birthday! It’s your ninth in the year 1994, and my 29th in 2014. I know that this is a big birthday for you since it is our golden birthday but also the last year in the single digits!

Year 94-2

Yes this is us right before our 9th birthday party. I am not sure why we thought that pose was necessary.

Seeing as I have 20 years of “Stephanie” life on you, I thought I would give you some birthday advice as you grow a little year older.

You are about to end 3rd grade. The next two years of school happen to be your favorite. While we have always wanted to be a teacher, Mrs. Daily and Mrs. Absher inspire you to become an elementary school teacher down the road. They were some of the best educators we have ever had. You will go back for years to visit and even volunteer for Mrs. Absher in high school. I will tell you that at 29, we are still in education, but our teaching is not happening in an elementary school. We spent one semester as an elementary major before we changed to high school, which is still not what we are doing. But I will let you figure that out as we go. That journey is a pretty good one, so I won’t spoil it.

School 93-94-2

That art behind you is not yours, but that award is all yours. Yea we are awesome.

Speaking of what we want to do, college is already on your mind, which is good. You are smart. To our detriment at times, we put really high standards on ourselves to be perfect. There are times that we could have relaxed when it came to school things, but we both know that is not how we work. And from me to you, that hard work pays off in the end. We graduated high school with a 4.0, and were able to pay for two complete college degrees all with scholarships because of that hard work and dedication. I am pretty thankful now to have zero debt because of that determination. We are taking our time to relax now, don’t you worry. We may have only applied to one school for college, but in the end it was the best decision because your life changed for the better because of that choice. Your change of career path was a good thing that was all made because of experiences during college. You met some of the most influential people there, and I would like to think that decision led you to your future husband.

At 9, I know we saw our life at my age to be a glorious one. We would be married with two kids and a career in teaching. We would not be married to a cop that is for sure, but probably another teacher, because that is how our parents did it. I will just say that life is all about the unexpected, so don’t get dead set on really anything. None of it happens the way we planned, but that is part of the fun.

Career wise, I would say we are not in a place that we ever imagined. While we don’t regret ANY of the decisions that we made to get to this place, we just had hoped for different circumstances that are way beyond our control. There are some good and bad days, and there are a lot of days that you will feel completely helpless and alone. I would say keep on trucking with our positive attitude, because in the end we can only affect our own reaction to what is put in front of us. We are however learning a lot. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and I just know that our career is going to be making some very positive changes here soon. Our career may not have been the priority recently and we aren’t in a position of our dreams, God had other reasons for us to be here right now. Eventually you will see that, so just breathe and let the worry go, you perfectionist. Take every opportunity to learn and grow because you never know what doors it may open or what God is trying to put on your heart. And always trust that God will provide. Always.

There are going to be some rough times ahead in school. In the next year alone, there will be a week that you come down with poison ivy ALL OVER your body, and it also happens to coincide with the week we do square dancing in gym class. You think that you are living out a real life Oregon Trail moment because no one will pick you to be your partner, and you feel left behind. Trust me, I doubt that most people even remember you look like something out of a horror film. You get past it. Also we have not had poison ivy since. So there’s that.

Sorry to break it to you, but you will never be popular. I think we are just too quiet for that, plus we never really liked the spotlight anyway. There are days that you spend hours crying over the fact that we aren’t cool. I wish I could say don’t do that, but I think it always hurts no matter the age to not feel wanted. You get picked on for being a nerd until you graduate high school. I won’t lie that there are some awful days, which fortunately worked out for us because it only fueled you to study more and work harder to move away to college. And college became a great escape from high school because there was only 6 from our graduating class that attended our school. So just keep on trucking, it gets better.

More on friends though, while you may look at the popular kids and want what they have, you are surrounded by some of the greatest friends. You were in a good group, who happened to be just as nerdy as you. So it worked out for you in the end. In the fourth grade, you meet a boy that you hate in elementary school. He seems like the meanest kid to you because he calls you “Sassafras.” (It’s no wonder we were in the nerd crowd.) To your surprise though, eventually you all become very close, and he was one of your best friends in high school. So cool your jets on this kid.


The creator of Sassafras and you are still friends to this day. So don’t be so worried about who aren’t your friends, but be appreciative of who ARE your friends.

Even at 9 years old, which is five years after Mom and Dad got divorced, it is still sometimes hard to live the double life with both parents. But try to look at the positives you gain from it:  double the holidays which means double the food, double the love, double the experience from different lifestyles. Your parents love you, and only want what is the best for you. There are days we don’t treat them the greatest because we feel like we have something to prove. It takes us a long time to tell them I am sorry, which is something I wish I could change. Just make sure to try to include them the best that you can. The path we choose is to not live near our family, so enjoy this time you have with them now because there is a long stretch that there are hours and states that separate you. And plus you have a lot to learn from our parents because here on our 29th birthday, I sit here anxiously awaiting to become a parent myself in 4 months.

Not only is your time limited with them, but our grandparents as well. Luckily our career choice in education eventually take us to South Carolina which is where Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Christmas live. You get to spend two years practically in the same town. Take the time to eat meals with them (no matter how many times they insist on taking you to the Western Sizzler) because soon after you graduate they will no longer be with us. So cherish that time you have with them because it is something that becomes very dear to you. And your grandparents in KC, visit them as often as you can because they are just the best role models of a loving couple and human beings. And as I said, we soon move far away and are not able to see them quite as often as you do now.

And as for Randall, you are getting to the point where he is probably becoming more obnoxious than cute little brother. I know that he comes and takes things from your room or does other little boy things to you, but trust me, he is not as bad as he gets the rap for (which lets be honest comes mostly from us…). Give him a break. And surprise, he becomes a parent before you do!

I mentioned earlier that you meet your husband in college. At 9, I know you are wanting to know what sort of fairy tale story got us to our knight in shining armor. First, you must know that there are a lot of other boys who came first. (Ok not a lot a lot, but a few.) Some of those relationships will be devastating. There are a couple boys that you thought at the time you would never get over. When we fall in love, we fall in love hard. Remember to be who you are, and never change your ambitions to fit that of someone else. There are some relationships that you go into hastily just because you want to be loved. I promise you that if you are patient, love will find you. I will also say that it will be by someone who blindsides you. So don’t go for the obvious, find someone who will challenge you every day, but also someone who supports you completely. Also humor is important. Your future husband is one of the funniest people you will ever meet. Basically he is a dreamboat, so again just be ready for the unexpected. Love is a great thing. You will experience all the ups and downs and variations of love before you happen upon your great love. So just remember that a guy doesn’t make you who you are, you do. So just move past each crushing break up and remember who you want to be. (Also, you break some hearts too if that helps your confidence any. But now that I think about it, generally, we took these hard too because we are people pleasers…)

All in all, you have a fun life ahead. There are going to be some really high highs, and some really low lows. Always remember to believe in yourself and be good to others. Although, don’t worry too much about being a perfectionist and what others think of you because it can become a burden more than a blessing, and there are times that you may lose sight of who you are.

Continue writing thank you notes and creating things.  That peach crochet blanket that you have been struggling with for 2 years…yea crochet becomes quite the hobby for you someday. Also, most of the art in your house will be homemade, which your husband and I think is pretty swell. Continue reading as much as you can. Stories are your escape in so many ways. Anne of Green Gables never gets old so read and watch it as much and as often as you can. You will always be a bookwork. Keep on asking for the American Girl doll and books. I know it seems like the parents aren’t listening, but eventually, you get to hold one of those dolls as your very own. And yes, we still have her and all her accessories almost 20 years later.

In the end, count your blessings and thank God every day. Focus on the things that matter and enjoy each moment to the fullest. Trust that God has a plan for you, and just keep moving forward and laugh a lot. Smiling generally makes things better.

And if all of this didn’t get you excited about the next 20 years, at least you have this to look forward to next year…

Year 95-1

I promise being this orange bird was one of your favorite moments of 4th grade.

Now go enjoy some of our favorite ice cream cake (the one with the extra ice cream cones on the top) and get ready for the traditional Glinn rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which by the way has not stopped to this day.

All the best,

29 year old Stephanie

Throwback Thursday

This last weekend was my high school ten year reunion.

When did that happen?

10 years. So what do I have to say for myself?

Never. Would. Have. Imagined.

You grow up thinking your life is going to go down this perfect path to happiness. Well, happiness still attainable, but down the path you envisioned and planned for, probably not.

So let me take you back to 2003.

  • 18 years old-adult finally! And I think I know everything, just ask my parents.
  • moving out of Kansas City-which did not seem like that big of a deal since my parents were divorced and I had become fairly independent going back and forth every weekend since I was 4. And I was ready to be away from my family-what 18 year old isn’t?
  • ok so fairly independent, but extremely painfully shy. I liked riding the coattails of people into a group. This is probably why I found my home in the arts (band, theater, and photography-I could either hide behind something or was given lines.)
  • huge dork-when I sat down to look at pictures I made a disclaimer to Tom that if he thought I was a dork now, the stats grow exponentially for back then
  • going to college for elementary education
  • I had my first year of undergrad paid for through the dozens of scholarships I applied for, but I was apprehensive of how the rest of the time was going to get paid.
  • I had just started my first summer at Worlds of Fun, which I thought would be a one time deal.
  • I did not own a car.

Looking back these things had a significant impact on how the last ten years went.

I acted like an adult and rarely asked my parents for guidance or support like many in college. And luckily my parents were not helicopter parents so they let me have my space. It made me fend for myself and fight my own battles. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were always there for guidance and support, I just learned how to fumble through things on my own first. This helped me learn who I was and how to pick myself up after I made a mistake.

I have lived in several places since then. I have not moved back to Kansas City, and that is still up in the air if I will. At that point [2003], I was so ready to be gone. Now I look forward to my visits home because I have lived far away for so long and I know that I am missing out on things. Most of my family lives in that area, and we have two nieces now that we don’t get to see grow up. We have decided that eventually we will end up back in Missouri so that we can be closer to family. The “where” will depend on job searches.

The shyness is a roller coaster itself. I am still painfully shy, I just have learned how to mask it-for the most part. It is really surprising that I made it through residence life as long as I did. I found when I was in my own element and a chosen environment, I could make it count, with a lot of work and energy. (And then a weekend holed up in my apartment). Over the past few years, I had several staff members comment that they were surprised I was an introvert. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I guess it shows some growth that I can put my shyness aside. It also showed that they were unaware of what extrovert and introvert actually mean-teaching moment. I will say, I definitely have become much more self aware and learned a lot about balance so I could put away the shyness in some parts of my life. (All those personality tests…)

However if it is a new environment or one that I have not chosen myself where I know few people or no one, I still have severe anxiety and become that wallflower I have always been. I will constantly check my watch to see if I have put in enough time. Making friends is difficult to do on my own still, which moving here, just makes it all the more apparent. Housing really spoils you by putting you in forced cohorts. Tom and I recently had a heated discussion about my “preferred” way of making friends in small intimate groups instead of large gatherings. Fortunately and unfortunately,  my hubster is a social butterfly and can easily work his way into any conversation. Sometimes he has a hard time understanding my hard time. My awkwardness however makes me feel like I am always 3 steps behind, so most of the time in new situations I just observe. And I hate forced mingling. Navigating socials at conferences always gives me a pit in my stomach and is the reason why I sprint towards a familiar face. So this shyness/awkwardness is still a work-in progress.

But, I am much more confident with who I am, and the shyness has become more of an inner battle. I have become slightly more assertive, although Tom would argue that I still let people walk over me too much. Eh, I can’t give it all up I guess. At least there is growth right? And I am not unhappy about my shyness. I have made many good friends over the years, and wont stop making friends. I just take my time and do it very carefully. Overtime, I have just learned what are the best routes for me, or how to force an awkward smile and excuse myself for a graceful exit.

I am still a huge dork, and perhaps I have sharpened that in some areas. I like to proclaim that I am a classical dork, and I embrace it every day.

While I still found myself in education, I became a statistic when I changed my major. I learned within a month of my freshman year that elementary schools were not in my future. I quickly changed to Social Studies Education, which is what I stayed with. However as things happened thought my involvement and teaching practicals, I learned that I actually wanted to work with college students. I proceeded to get my Master’s in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Affairs.

Now that first year of college, I grappled with the fact I needed to figure out a way to continue to pay for school. I was persistent about applying for scholarships and was fortunate to receive many. This is probably because many people stop applying for scholarships once they actually get to college. Don’t stop! There are sooo many that very few people apply to. I ran a scholarship committee for the last three years, and only one year was there more than six people who applied for a $1000 scholarship. Anywho, I also managed to keep my academic tuition scholarship for my entire career. Whoop being a smarty pants finally worked in my favor! This financial situation led me to work in several areas on campus and showed me that a hard work ethic and determination can get you pretty far. Can you believe I worked for the alumni center phone bank? Seriously this shy girl did make those annoying telemarketing phone calls. I was horrible at it, but it was a fun semester none the less. The two jobs that probably changed the course of my life though were both in housing. I was a Community Advisor for three years and worked for a year as an Office Assistant in the main housing office. Because of these opportunities, I learned that I did in fact love teaching, just on a different scale than I thought. This experience prompted me to change my life plan and go into student affairs which led me to Clemson University for my Masters. And oh the lessons learned from housing….And because of all this, I managed to get two degrees with zero debt. Yep you read that correctly. Toot my own horn yes indeed! I paid everything the moment it was due and have no bills to worry about now. It has made my education very dear to my heart and probably is one of my greatest achievements to come out unscathed by the debt most college graduates face today.

Not only did I work on campus, but I continued to work at Worlds of Fun for 6 years. This was also a defining experience in my life, for so many reasons. Working at an amusement park is an awesome way to spend your summers. You gain some great memories, friends, and leadership experience. You also gain some really random knowledge like the best way to clean up puke and how to run a steam engine locomotive. Who doesn’t want to know that? (Unfortunately, you also get some wacko tan lines but you can relieve the pain by riding roller-coasters all day.)  This is also where I met Tom, so we are pretty much in debt to that place. I would love to get my hands on a vintage WoF map to do something crafty with it. Who knew that this temp job [starting in the games dept no less] drastically changed the course of my life?

My parents didn’t get me a car while I was in high school. I had to earn that ’99 Jimmy. They gave me a price that I had to reach on my own before we could look into it. I wasn’t able to do my share until after my freshmen year of college. Saving thousands of dollars while paying for school, is a hefty charge! But I am so grateful that my parents dealt me this hand, even though I hated it at the time. First off, UCM was a suitcase campus. So I was forced to stay at school on the weekends and make friends. Done and done. I joined clubs and had some great experiences that year that were a foundation for the rest of my time in the Burg. Secondly, it taught me a lot about fiscal responsibility and how to save. I have also never had a car payment in my life because of this and my parent’s support/encouragement. I am getting ready to get my third car using this method=just a little more savings to go!

So yea, I guess you could say the last ten years have been pretty good to me. I have learned a lot and become a better person then that scrawny nerdy shy girl who was terrified of the future.

Unfortunately, I was not in a position to make it to the actual reunion in KC. It would have been nice to see all those blasts from the past, and interesting to see how we all have changed. If my little novel of reflection here is any indication, we all probably made some strides.

Here are some visuals from my senior year. Photos sure have upped their game in the last decade!


This was my favorite senior picture. In high school, band was my main identity. I played all through college and hope to someday pick it up again in a community band. I loved that saxophone. I had a luggage cart that I use to bungee cord it to so I could literally take it everywhere. That thing was heavy! Why there is no picture of this, I am not sure. For now just picture a gangly girl pushing around a box that could hold a person while trying not to make eye contact with anyone. Oh and I was probably carrying at least 2 or 3 bags with all my basketball/track gear, music and photography knickknacks, and all my books and class folders. It’s astonishing that I did not have a trapper keeper. Dad used to call me a pack mule when I got out of his truck. Good picture in your head? I said I was a dork. Don’t be hating; I think I came out alright.


Besides some changes due to my braces that I had in college, physically I was fortunate to stay fairly the same. I still own and wear these dress pants. Between you and me, I actually think I look better with the decade behind me! Although I am still just as clumsy…


I was in the senior play “Sabrina Fair” as the maid. My dad still talks about my drunken burping scene. Years of practice finally paid off-on the burping, not the drinking. (I can honestly say I never drank until college.) Acting in this play may have been the start of my infatuation with all things Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina is my favorite after all.  Then I played the school “hottie” and was part of the “band” in our musical production of “Grease.” So much fun! These two parts were completely out of my comfort zone and totally not my persona in HS. I remember practicing my “strut” in those atrocious heels for hours just so I wouldn’t fall. It was really fun looking back at my lame attempt of scrapbooking and all the little things I kept. It sparked a lot of memories that I had completely forgotten about.


Who could forget about school dances?! And yes I wore gloves, doesn’t everyone at least once? Seriously though, why are corsages necessary?

I am so glad I don’t have to go though the waiting to be asked and all that drama and pressure of who is taking who. Luckily, my best friend , Ryan was my date to most of them that year. Ryan and I met in 4th grade where he teased me endlessly and made me cry on more than one occasion. I can never look at Sassafras the same.

These ladies were some of my besties throughout high school, or BFFs as we called them in the olden days. It’s hard to believe that most of us are married and beginning to start our own little families. Ok not hard to believe because we are awesome; it’s just when you reflect that it has been 10 years you just think holy cow did we just do that? I wish we could see each other more, but we literally all live in different states and have jobs like grown ups.


We went to DC for a band trip, which was amazing. I would love to go back again since our visit was brief. Plus now with my history background and Tom being military, I think I would be able to soak it in much more than my 17 year old self did.

I was fortunate (or unfortunate some days) to be surrounded by my family my senior year. My brother was a freshmen and my dad was my marine biology teacher. Now while I look fairly the same, (my hair is now flipped under instead of out-but I will have you know that I did have long and permed hair in between), my brother and dad cannot say the same.


My dad has since retired, shaved his mustache, and grew out his hair. He is a long haired salt and pepper man now. Living a wild and crazy life, just like his shirt here.

And my brother grew a lot and now has a daughter. Still crazy! But he is still as stubborn as he looks in the picture above.

I don’t have a recent photo of the 3 of us; we are not really that great at taking pictures together during family time. The second picture is the most recent one I could find with the three of us in it, and that is in 2011 at my wedding. Mental note to make that happen the next time I’m home.

So was this where I envisioned my life 10 years ago? Why don’t we hop on Xanga and find out? Oh goodness, my early days of blogdom.

Times change, and so do we. Hopefully we can look back and say, “Well that was delightful.”

My last ten years have been pretty decent to me for sure. I love my life and who I am with, and I feel blessed every day. Couldn’t have planned it better myself!

Here’s to the next ten years being as fruitful as the last.

And it just goes to show that you have no idea what God has in store for you.

Now what’s next?


Hmm, that pose hasn’t gone away in ten years…