My life history

My story starts at the top of a West Virginia hill in a big, old brick house. I was the eighth of eleven children born to Joel and RaeAnn Flake. My parents were living their dream-- raising a large family and living out in the country. My dad taught college-age kids religion classes (Institute) for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons or LDS) and my mom managed the household with all their 11 children aged 18 to infant. We didn't have much, we lived cheaply in a modest home, but we were happy. The summer before I turned eight years old, change was in the air, and my dad was asked to be a mission president for the LDS church in Louisville, Kentucky. For the next three years my dad and mom were in charge of 300 missionaries, and we eight children still at home found new meaning to our lives as the "mission kids," exploring the mission home and spending lots of time with those wonderful, service-oriented missionaries.

At the end of our three years, just before my 11th birthday, my dad was reassigned to teach Institute in Boise, Idaho, a wish fulfilled for my parents. My parents were both originally from Boise, and it was always their hope to return there someday. We lived in a subdivision with neighbors and friends and had a pool in the backyard. I took a photography class, I was a choir nerd, and was blessed with wonderful friends and influences in junior high. While many people wish to block junior high out of their memory, it contains some of my favorite memories! I loved junior high.

Right after my sophomore year of high school my parents had the opportunity of a lifetime: the economy was good, and they found a 7-acre parcel of land to build their dream home on out in the country. For a humble poor religion teacher, it was more than my parents ever could have imagined. While it meant switching school districts for the four of us children who remained at home (and truth be told, give up the choir I so loved and the school culture we had come to know), we were excited and motivated for the change. Our parents had taught us to embrace and love change. So we moved to a tiny tiny town in the mountains above Boise called Horseshoe Bend, population 700. I fell in love with the humble, loving people there. While I lost many of the things I loved, many new opportunities opened up for me. I played volleyball and basketball (using the word "played" very loosely--I sat on the bench for two years), participated in student council, worked at Subway, and watched the sun set over the mountains from my bedroom window. Two years later I graduated as the valedictorian of a class of 17 (my one claim to fame!) and said goodbye to my new hometown of Horseshoe Bend.

That summer I moved to Utah to go to school at Brigham Young University, my dream since a little girl, to follow in the footsteps of the seven siblings who had gone before me. I couldn't wait to begin my next chapter as a college student and enrolled in summer courses. While I loved my experience in our small town high school, I always felt a little different, and wondered if the intellectual side of me would be more "at home" in a collegiate setting. I was right. I fell in love with the "do it yourself" fast-paced college life, and soaked in everything I was learning and the experiences I was having. I studied Social Science Teaching, a degree that would allow me to teach any of the social sciences in high school or junior high (I still have a soft spot for twelve-year-olds). It was the perfect degree for someone like me who found so many things to love: This is where I gained a love of history, political science, economics, and geography (among other things). I learned I was one of those "map people" like my dad. I realized my love for old things, especially American history at the turn of the century. I got to explore my emotional side in my psychology classes, and numbers side in my economics classes. It was an exciting time of learning and growth for me.

The fall of my junior year amidst all that learning and my campus job, I met a smart, easy-going country boy in my apartment complex. He was everything I was hoping for in a spouse, and thank my lucky stars, he liked me too! That summer, June 2009, we were married in the temple and began our life together.

Nine months after we were married I graduated from college and then I became a mother the following November 2010. Our dear Cheyenne was our guinea pig, and she was quite the spirited one to learn the parenting ropes on! Because of her spunk and my complete inability to handle it, I have a love for struggling parents everywhere!

Not long after Cheyenne's 6 month birthday, July 2011, we bought an old house, a duplex built in 1934. It was everything my old-loving soul wanted! Original hardwood floors and wavy glass windows, creaky doorknobs, and a working fireplace! We had big plans for our charming old home. But because we bought it as an investment, we started out by renting out the "charm" and living in the dark, dingy basement. I played property manager while Ben was the handyman. Among my husband's many talents is his ability to fix just about anything.

In July 2012 we had our second baby girl Delaney, who, while she didn't match Cheyenne in spiritedness, she was pretty close, and she still gave us quite the run for our money! The next summer, Ben received his masters in Electrical Engineering (only a short! 5 years after he started-- getting it in the "fringe hours" while he was working a full time job).

Right after Delaney's first birthday we moved to the upstairs of our duplex because we desperately needed more space-- we were expecting baby #3! We were surprised and happy to welcome another child to our family, our sweet baby boy Ephraim, in November 2013. I loved living upstairs in our charming house-- watching the snow fall out my big picture window, with a roaring fire in our fireplace. We were blessed to live in a great neighborhood, with life right at our fingertips. We loved playing with our neighbors just across the street, walking to the library or to visit friends, or riding bikes to the park or church.

In May of 2013 I had an experience that changed my life and prompted me to apply for graduate school. I started an MPA program in the Fall of 2014, with three tiny children, and completed a whole year of classes, 16+ credits each semester! We were blessed to have some wonderful family and babysitters who enabled me to complete my classes, including some summer coursework.

In the summer of 2015, Ben saw a new opportunity in his engineering field, and we decided to jump on it. It was a somewhat sudden (happy) life change, and I put my schooling on hold and we moved to Kokomo, Indiana. We've been exploring the whole new world of Midwest living!

In May 2016 we were grateful to be able to give Ephraim a baby brother: our darling Frank was born. I began masters classes again, in the Fall of 2016, this time online, and finished up my degree in the spring of 2017. Shortly thereafter I began working a few hours a week from home for a company that I love. I work for a consulting firm for nonprofits and it has been such a great fit and such a joy to work with them, specifically helping our clients with fundraising.

Life is one grand adventure!