The Finish Line…..The Start Line

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After YEARS of planning and months of anticipation – Thursday, June 6, 2019, will be a day to remember. June 6, 2019 was the day MrTB4M made the call to resign from corporate work. Of course, his boss was tied up all day and didn’t return his call that day – and the anticipation GREW. Friday morning could not get here soon enough. There was a sense of nervousness about the house Thursday night and Friday morning; but above that was a sense of peace.

That sense of peace was confirmation that this was definitely what we were supposed to do. AND then, it happened! The phone call was made – the date set……June 21, 2019 will be the last day.

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Honestly, it wasn’t that easy! There was turmoil and a bit of self-doubt. There is a bit of sadness leaving a job after 14 years; some nostalgia about “the good times”; co-workers to leave behind; “stuff” to be purged after 14 years of accumulating work items. But, man has the tone in our house been a whole lot different. Even our “big” boys congratulated MrTB4M on the resignation. We reached the finish line!

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So, what next? We reached the starting line!

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8JS Driver Training is going to launch daytime hours.

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Notice, not “launch full time” – we don’t need it to be full time. This is just a little extra income that one day may provide the means for us to both be home full time.

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Truly, our journey is nowhere near being over – but, the sense of accomplishment is huge. We are a family of 10 that has defied societal norms in so many ways: we have 8 children (who does that anymore?); we homeschool; we practice our faith openly; we choose to sacrifice gadgets and treats for time and experiences; and most recently we are on FIRE.

Next up – vacation. The RV trip to the northeast. We cannot wait! AND then it will be back to the planning board – after all we will need to strategize so that I can join MrTB4M in early retirement.

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Full House For Summer

We have officially had our house “full” again for two weeks. J1 and J2 are back for the summer, everyone has switched back to their normal bedrooms – and the house is FULL. Remember, we have a 1000 square foot home – and now 10 people. But, this full house is refreshing (when I ignore the mounds of things thrown haphazardly along the floor or the fact that my food pantry is empty as quick as I can fill it)!

We are working on getting our summer groove. J2 started his internship at a bottling company. The hours are early (he has to get up at 5 am – and for a young college boy this is torture) and the warehouse is hot. But, he knows the opportunity is good and the pay will definitely help with tuition in the fall. This week he adds football weight training back into his schedule, so I bet he will really be wiped out by the end of the week.

Since we won’t have a “family” vacation, we splurged this weekend and took the kids to Branson. A nice condo rental on Tablerock Lake over the 3 day weekend was what we needed.

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We spent most of the weekend outdoors enjoying the lake, the pool, playing mini golf, and riding the Branson Alpine Coaster (worth the splurge!). Sunday we celebrated MrTB4M’s birthday with homemade spaghetti and meatballs (his request) and birthday cake. We even managed to sneak his gifts down without him finding them.

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It was refreshing to have two days to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Now we are all back at the grind. MrTB4M is still planning to work in the basement – although he says that there is something tolerable about the job since he knows it is no longer necessary; I am still on my four ten hour shift routine; J2 is up and at them early again today; J1 and J3 are headed to the greenhouse; J4 starts her babysitting job today; and my little ones are kicking off their summer reading program from the library – I am not above using silly prizes to keep them motivated to read this summer.

Next week starts vacation planning (there is some strategy involved to hauling 9 of us to the northeast in an RV); school planning; and co-op class planning. Of course there are also the summer projects (gardening and home wish list) to keep us busy. That is one thing for sure, our family never lacks opportunity – because we know that we can always create an opportunity for ourselves.

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We Made It

We have hit the goal – MrTB4M can leave his corporate job. But, he hasn’t. In fact, I am pretty sure that he talks less about “when” he will leave now than he did before we got to this point. We have spent the better part of a year talking dates and strategizing to move them up.

Yet, two weeks ago we hit the “target” – the ears were all down. Vacations were planned and budgeted; college funds in line with what we needed; budgets in place for home and car repair; roof and gutters replaced – the list goes on. Guess what?! MrTB4M is still working at the table in our basement.

You may ask what “changed”? I know I do! The best I can tell is that the freedom of knowing his job isn’t “needed” has possibly taken some of the stress out of it and MrTB4M is plugging right along. He is still growing his driving business and cannot keep up with the demand.

The older boys are working their way home for the summer. J1 came back over the weekend and asked when MrTB4M “finally quit”. Then he thought I was joking when I said he hadn’t. You see, EVERYONE in the house was on board with the change……..and we are all still waiting.

J2 finished finals this week and starts an internship on Monday. So, he will be home about 4 days before starting a full time internship. This is a great opportunity, but it also means he won’t be taking vacation with us this year. For the FIRST time ever, we will not be traveling as a family. This is definitely bittersweet (and maybe more so for MrTB4M than me). We have raised the kids to grow up, become productive citizens, and be self-sufficient (at least we hope). But, vacation without one of them????? This is a whole new feeling. The up side is that I have something to write about other than a spinning ride of indecisiveness!  The down side is that I have to write about adjusting to doing things with only “part” of the family!

Riding the Teacups

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I know most of you have seen these rides and some of you may even have caved in and ridden a few times with the kids. For me, there is instant anxiety over these spinning rides; I know the kids will want to ride, I know the kids can’t wait in long lines by themselves, I know I have some little ones that need a parent to ride with them, and I KNOW once the ride starts I will feel that the circular spin will continue long after the ride is over.

Unfortunately, at this moment, our life journey is rather “tea cup ride like”. For those that follow us, you know we have been counting down to the big day – the day MRTB4M leaves corporate constraints and becomes a work optional driving instructor. AND just to update that situation, we are at 47 Mickey outlines…..so it is super CLOSE. In fact, over the past month we really tightened up our allocations to speed this up. We were set!

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Then the demon of doubt crept in. I had forecasted this would happen – so I was slightly prepared for this. But, man has it been tough. The “one more thing” monster and the “what if monster” have multiplied faster than I could imagine. It has been so bad I couldn’t even write about it……how many times do people really want to read this? But, it is reality. We made a decision, we planned, we followed the plan, we adjusted the plan, we re-evaluated the plan, and we were in full execution mode…and wham! The brick wall of doubt/fear/uncertainty rose to meet us head on.

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So, that is where we are – somewhere between our dream and a wall. I am confident that our prayers will be answered and we will be “gently” guided to resolution in the next few weeks. Until then, we will just hang on tight and try to enjoy the ride!

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Which Way Do We Go?

From the beginning of this journey we knew it wouldn’t be easy. We knew it was about buckling down, making choices others wouldn’t, and staying the course. We also knew that the course would change – that is just how life is!

Two weeks ago May 12th was set to be the final day for MrTB4M to report to work. There was excitement, peace, and fear with that date. Most of all there were smiles from the kids – they knew this meant less stress and more time together. However, if you asked me today what the drop date was, I couldn’t tell you. It has changed almost daily (and sometimes 3-4 times per day). It has been as soon as April 12th and as far out as the end of May.

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In fairness, some of the date changes are more “thinking out loud” than true date changes. But, the sense of finality is lost. The feeling of achievement is missing. The certainty with which out journey started is now caught up in some strange vortex that mimics the spring weather of the Midwest.

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Our journey to time before money has been intense. In many ways we have tread unchartered waters. It has been a challenge. It has been a blessing. The journey has sucked us in. AND, as with everything we face, when the day comes that we have to make the firm decision- we will pray about it and we will take the next leap of faith on our journey.

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Another Lap?

We have knocked off over 100 outlines since last post – 140 remaining. Our kitchen no longer has a Mickey Mouse theme garland and more than half the hallway has been “undecorated”. This should be bringing such peace and finality – yet, it is bringing the challenge to replace this goal with another one. It is forcing discussions to make sure we are on the same page – the same page as each other and the same page we were on when we started the journey.

Goals are great! Visual reminders are wonderful. Proddings from outside sources are awesome too. For example the phone call from your boss that your job is changing. The title, the description, the expectations – the WHOLE job. Changing over a span of a week.

The initial response from MRTB4M was “this is it” we are accelerating the plan and moving forward. I was on board, I know we can do it. Then MRTB4M paused and started wondering if he could stick it out; if we could put outlines of graduation caps or RVs up to replace Mickey Mouse. Hmmm, well I guess we can – but, why? When will enough be enough? It is like a roller coaster ride.

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Then the messages start from the new customers; the new customers that found their way to MRTB4M without advertising. Now the ideas are churning again, not about how to stay longer – but about what he can do with his time when he isn’t stuck to the confines of his computer. We are back on track looking at May 12th as a final date. The end is definitely in sight!

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248 and Counting

The Mickey outlines are still hanging – 248 to be precise. This is a huge reduction from 543 when this started in February, 19 days ago to be exact. AND I am trying to forget that the first 11 of those days were trying to get them all strung and hung.

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With each paycheck (or driving lesson) the number decreases and gleefully the Mickey streamers are shortened. The “technical” day of departure is adjusted, 80 “ish” days at last count. The anticipation is real – BUT – the questions come quicker than the countdown. Really, should we do it? What if I stay? Should you stay home instead of me? You know, every check is that much more cushion. The job isn’t too bad right now.

You get the point! Entirely too much thought is going into this. Those are all so easy to answer: yes, we really should do it; if you stay we will have a lot more money, a lot more stress, a lot more headaches, you will be unhappy; maybe, but I have already had my “trial” of retirement and you should get your turn too, and your driving business is an option for supplemental income – I have nothing to offer in that area; Yep, every check is a bigger cushion – more stuff – more savings – more giving – but, do we need it or is it driven by something else; the job isn’t bad now – that is great, but just wait until you sit in in-service for a week……I can’t wait for those calls wink!

We have planned for this, we have strategized, we have optimized, we have publicized. Our goals are within reach. AND now we must re-focus, hone in on what we were looking for in the first place, and joyfully cross into the land of Time B4 Money.

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We have to remember we are in this together and that our family journey has many roads to travel.

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It is likely more than mere coincidence that Lent begins today and we are gifted with 40 days to grow and reflect. Lent is so much more than giving things up. Lent is an amazing opportunity to journey to a better you – which leads to a better spouse – a better child – a better friend – a better neighbor – a better community. Lent is the perfect time for all of our fears and doubts to be offered up so that we can continue our journey with fresh energy and focus and FAITH that these decisions have been guided and that we can follow the road less traveled.

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