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As an 18-year-old senior at St. Bernard High School with an interest in art, Rebecca Louise Cowen was college bound and hoped to one day work at a museum or for the History Channel.
She graduated from Emmanuel College with a BSA in Art History and then life happened.
Now Rebecca Buchholz, she lives with her husband, Brian Buchholz, and their children, Kaleb, 4, and Landon, 1, outside of Fort Meade, Md., where Brian works as a U.S. Navy cryptologist.
Buchholz, 28, would like to get an advanced degree one day and still hopes to work in a museum setting, but for now she is staying at home with the kids.
During a recent phone interview, her youngest son, who weighed just 18 ounces when he was born prematurely in April 2011, gurgled contentedly in the background.
"It's rewarding and crazy," she said of her life. "My dreams have changed to a point where I look at what's feasible for the family. Back then it was just myself. Now I have three other people to think about."
She met her husband-to- be, a Waterford native, when they worked together in the produce department at Shop-Rite in New London during their high school years. They were engaged shortly before her college graduation and married a year later, in 2007.
Brian Buchholz, who graduated from the University of Connecticut, joined the Navy in 2008.
"It was what seemed to be best for the family with the economy going the way it was," Buchholz said.
Both had come from Navy families.
"We had an idea what it was like," she said. "We knew it was a steady job and he would be able to receive an education and advance."
She plans to go back to work eventually, but has decided, with her husband, that it is best if she stays at home for now. Landon, her youngest, who was designated a "micro preemie" since he was so tiny when he was born, had a lot of medical needs.
"In the beginning he was going to doctors' appointments constantly," she said. "There was a lot of traveling. Now he's just getting occupational and physical therapy."
Buchholz said she likes her life. She and Brian take it "one day at a time," she said.
"Even though I'm not working at the moment, I get to spend time with my boys," she said. "Our families have helped out quite a bit. It's been a fairly smooth transition."
She said she looks at teenagers now and wonders if she ever acted that way.
"When you're a teenager, you think some things are far more important than they really are, such as getting the latest gadget or the best brand," she said.
Now she said, what's important is providing for her family.