Daisy Alvarado pulled her high school yearbook from a bookcase near the couch in her Hicksville home and showed it to her two little children.
"See, that's Mommy," she said sweetly, as Jaylene, 1, and Jayden, 2, scrambled over her lap to get a better look on a recent June afternoon.
It has been 10 years since Alvarado, 28, graduated with the rest of the Class of 2000 from Glen Cove High School. Back then she was Daisy Sanchez. In that time, she married, had two children, bought the Hicksville home with her husband, Jeff, and lost a job. Now she's trying to launch a cake design business.
After graduation, Alvarado worked for Ameriquest Mortgage as a loan processor just as the real estate boom was starting to really take off. Her soon-to-be husband also got a job there. They were living in her mother's home, but decided to buy a house in 2005 with their earnings.
"So we were really fortunate, we did very well, and I kept getting promoted. I got a senior processing job and he was one of the top producers," she said. "We bought the house, we bought cars, we went to Aruba."
Ameriquest, which made loans to buyers with poor credit, was found to have engaged in deceptive and predatory practices and ended up laying off nearly 4,000 people across the country. The Alvarados found themselves out of work.
"We got into a huge bind from there, you know, we kept trying to go into the same field," she said.
Eventually, her husband found a job in direct sales at Cablevision, which owns Newsday, and Alvarado started working in a bakery. But she found juggling working and child care too difficult.
Now, she makes and sells cakes at home, often specializing in ones for children's parties. She also makes several specialties, such as tres leches cake and a Spanish caramel cake.