What is Going On?

Although rhetorical, it isn’t! I mean really….what is going on? 2020 will definitely be a year to remember; a year history has been made (or changed); a year of discovery (what do you do when you are home ALL the time); a year of preservation (hunker down and make smart decisions); a year of fear (what is/will be); a year of hope (there IS hope in this mess); a year of change (what hasn’t changed?)!

COVID 19 continues to upset day to day living for many people. There are numerous people that remain ill (or recovering) or under-employed/unemployed as a result of COVID 19 restrictions. The media continues to promote fear and anxiety (and it is still working)! Social injustice has been front and center for so many people; people on both sides of the matter and people that want to somehow meet in the middle to truly change things for the better.

Our family continues to plug along. The older boys are finishing some classes they took over the summer. J1 is in the homestretch of an internship at a local law enforcement agency. J2 finished a 6.5 month co-op at a local metal factory. J3 is still learning to play the guitar. The rest of the kids are tired of being cooped up at home. They miss their friends/their teammates; their activities; they have even missed going to the grocery store (who would have thought?)!

MrTB4M is still teaching people to drive. We have still NOT advertised “officially”; he is more than busy with simply word of mouth referrals. Not at all a bad problem to have. I am still working in the corporate world. For more reasons than one we don’t know how long this will last. First, about two weeks ago the company announced there will be a 10% reduction in staffing (departments as well as individuals as needed to meet this reduction); our department is small and relatively incidental to most of the enterprise. These “official” announcements came exactly two days before we were to go on a family vacation.

Oddly, while others I knew were worrying/strategizing/playing the “what if” game, I was making packing lists and planning for the trip. I was not in panic mode. You see, my job is a job; it isn’t my life; and it isn’t a make or break it situation. We worked hard to get here and while my job is a cushion right now, we could be fine without it too. Imagine that, fine without any source of guaranteed income for both of us?! That is a family of 10 able to survive in 2020 without regular income.

Secondly, vacation was what we needed as a family – 8 days without anyone having to meet work or practice or school schedules. Today I returned to work (and admittedly I was dreading this since early yesterday). Well, today apparently is another telling point in the job journey. Back to back meetings on “staffing for the enterprise” and “where our department fits (or not)”. I still want to crawl back under the covers and avoid today….but it isn’t because of these meetings – these meetings will happen whether I (or my department) participates or not; and the outcome has been decided well above my pay scale. You see, I just want to crawl back under the covers and spend more time with the family; doing things that make us smile; helping in the garden; playing cards. When our family spends time together, we are all at our happiest (except for “those” moments when we aren’t 😊).

Years and years of simple living, sacrifice, and determination have left us in a position to not worry about this job. Whatever happens, we will make the best of it as we continue our journey of Time Before Money.

 

~”Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 ~

2020 Spring Spiral

So much has happened over the past few weeks. Our family knew March and April would look different for us because I was having surgery; I would be out of commission in terms of bending/lifting/carrying/strenuous activity for 6 weeks beginning March 11th. We were prepared – the pantry and refrigerator were stocked, the house was cleaned, coaches were aware kids might be missing practices, carpools were arranged.

I went in the hospital March 11th and came home March 12th. COVID -19 precautions were visible in the hospital and in the news. Within a week, life as we knew it had changed. Businesses were closed by executive orders, schools closed, entire communities were issued restrictions on size of gatherings, and then “stay at home” orders were issued in our area. Overnight toilet paper became the “gold” of 2020. Fear was driving society on a downhill spiral at high speed.

For us, school wasn’t a problem. We already homeschool our kids so there wasn’t a change for us. For our college boys, it was a big change – they enjoyed the bonus spring break week (2 weeks off😊) but transitioning to online classes 100% of the time was not exciting for them. J1 had been home for spring break. But, since it was just a one-week break, he had only brought basic things home and not many books. Luckily, he lived off campus so he was able to make a trip back up to school to get some things he needed. He was also able to shop more freely and more successfully by school compared to home.

Our biggest change is that we can’t go to church. The closing of churches has been hard. Our family is used to attending Mass together every week. The last time anyone was able to go to church was March 15th. We miss it! We are lucky enough that in 2020 there are many options to stream services on the home TV/computer and we do take advantage of that. But it isn’t the same! Church isn’t the building, it is the people, and while we are fortunate to have each other – we are still missing the other members.

So many of our friends have been furloughed, laid off, forced to take pay cuts. MrTB4M isn’t able to run his driving school. Things are HARD for many people. Yet, our family is comfortable. All our hard work and determination to get to a point where we were prepared to spend “time before money” has paid off! We continue to pray for all those that are working the frontlines in health care; all those that are ill from the Covid-19 virus; all those that are ill/injured unrelated to the virus but whose care is being dictated by the virus restrictions; all those that have lost their jobs; all those that are struggling to manage new tasks necessitated by stay at home orders and business closures; and everyone else that could use a prayer (no matter the reason).

2020 Is Marching On!

J1 returned to Truman State and is counting down. This time next year, he will have graduated and (hopefully) have a job. He has applied for a summer internship with a local police department. Not our first choice of careers for him – but his career is NOT our choice. We have said many prayers over this and we know that this is in God’s hands.

So far J2 started an educational Co-op this semester and is working full time at a local rail plant. The little boys love having him home. He likes the income and the experience – not so fond of the 5:30 am wake up and 30-minute drive.

J3 is amazing us in his own ways. We threw him into dual enrollment classes at a higher pace than his brothers – 9 credits this semester, in addition to the 4 classes he is working on at home. He is working 2-3 days a week. He attends youth group weekly and is preparing to lead a middle school retreat this weekend. AND he is teaching himself to play the guitar. He spends hours every week just working on getting the music right. This is his first year without basketball (his choice) and we were a bit worried he would be bored – but, he has filled his time with things that are purposeful and that bring him joy.

J4 attended her first March for Life. It was hard to send her 17 hours away from home by bus and we did worry. But she did fine (as we knew she would). Every once in a while, she shares some memories from this trip with us and she is already planning for next year. J4 is handling her freshman year well so far; she is staying on top of classes, attending dances, playing soccer, and going to youth group. She is also attending the retreat this weekend as a helper. Unfortunately, J4 is a 14-year-old girl dealing with all the “normal” teenage girl issues – and it is wearing us all out. I pray regularly that this passes over her without leaving lasting scars and that her eyes can be opened to her own potential so that she can embrace her own gifts and strengths rather than continue to be sucked into the pit of dismay.

J5 is still content to kick the soccer ball every chance she gets. While the reality is that she won’t play club level soccer next year, I sure do enjoy watching her compete. She is one of those kids that steps onto the field and assumes this amazing level of composure, focus, and determination. Soccer is NEVER a chore to her.

The “littles” are so full of energy – they wear us out! Of course, they aren’t so little anymore at 8, nearly 7, and 5. For the most part they are cooperative with school and are all advancing well. They have a tendency to desire the TV and video games like the older boys; and they are most happy when they can just run outside!

I have transitioned to work from home. It has been a process – I literally brought all my equipment and books home on a Monday afternoon, set them up and at 5:30 am Tuesday morning logged on and started working. That was the extent of the change. While I would love to have an office space – there just isn’t an option in our 1000 square foot house to carve out a dedicated space. So, I am at a table in the basement and am delighted by the window! It has been so selfishly pleasing to not get out of bed at 4:20 am every day (nothing against you early birds, but I didn’t really care for that). I have also avoided driving in snow and ice several weeks in a row now and I am NOT complaining about that!

MrTB4M is still at “home”. Driving lessons continue, some weeks extremely busy and some not so much. We still cannot decide which way we should take this business – but we are always looking for a sign. His dedication is amazing!

 

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New Year – New us?

It is 2020 – and looking back there have been so many changes since MrTB4M and I started our journey. It is seriously a case of “Where did the time go?”

We have gotten married, bought a house, added 8 additions, switched careers, paid off all debt, graduated two boys and sent them off to college, had no careers, switched careers again, and are still journeying.

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Life’s a dance you learn as you go, sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow; don’t worry about what you don’t know, life’s a dance you learn as you go” ~ John Michael Montgomery

 

So what is on tap for 2020? We aren’t entirely sure. We are again in a season of wonder. Wonder what we should do – wonder who should do what – wonder where we are going and how we will get there.

MrTB4M is still running his business and it is going well. Not much in the way of advertisement at all other than word of mouth. Still, some weeks are busier than he would like. Now the finances of the business are the tricky part. The business is paying for itself – YEAH! And the business is providing a little extra cushion – YEAH again! Most weeks MrTB4M doesn’t have to work too many hours. This is the tricky part, if MrTB4M worked a normal amount of hours – there would be a huge profit; since he is working limited hours to just cover expenses and the few extras we want from his salary, it looks like a wash. However, if we take a step back it is pretty clear that the business isn’t a wash and isn’t failing – it is just doing what we need it to do.

Now the hard part is deciding what we really need it to do this year? Do we want to grow it big – make more money, speed up the time frame to have our RV and travel for a year? Maybe, but do we want to give up the time MrTB4M has with the kids – sometimes probably he does (especially he day after winter break) – other times the happiness in the kids is so obvious that you would wonder why this would change.

J1 is back to college in one week. J2 is staying home for 6 months on a college co-op; experience in the engineering field and money to pay for another year of college – win/win. The rest of the Js are moving along in school and some days are better than others – for all of us!

2020 is here – and we are ready! Who knows where we will end up – but step by step we will get there….together.

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“Life’s a road you travel on; when there’s one day here and the next day gone; sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand; sometimes you turn your back to the wind” ~ Rascal Flatts

Life!

You might wonder why it has been a while since I posted? Simply – LIFE! In all seriousness – there were days I would think about writing a post – and then Something would come up; there were nights when I would think I should write a post – and then I would sit on the couch watching Marvel movies with my kids. There were afternoons I would think of writing a post – and then I just wouldn’t do it. There were hours I would feel guilty for not posting – and then I stopped. I just stopped!

The point of the journey (whatever the journey) is not to create inadequacies or guilt – society does that for us all each day. AND once I thought about it that way – I was not worried about posting anything at all. Perhaps this is what I needed to really embrace the Thanksgiving Holiday; I needed to be thankful for the opportunities I had and not fretting for the “things” left undone.

Our house was full; our table was full; our fridge was empty……the older boys were home. It was WONDERFUL. Just to see them and to see the little boys’ reaction to having them home. True disclosure – there were moments that I was ready for them to head back to school (way before Sunday night); but, that is part of the adjustments we are working out – how to reign in their independence when they are back home😊 AND by the last day or so they were both “helping” (a little) without being asked. THEN – they were gone again and J6 has been moping since because “IT just isn’t right that people are missing from our family”.

Now the countdown is on…….3 nights until St. Nick comes to pick up Santa’s lists (please don’t judge – this works for us). 8 nights until J2 is home for break; 10 nights until J1 is home. 3 weeks until a little school break. 22 days until Christmas. 28 days until 2020……..it goes on and on. There is a count down for everything and for most of those things there is a “to do list” to accompany the dates.

I am tucking away my to do list – I know it is there – I know when I forget to breathe and take in the small moments that there are things to do – I know that subconsciously I am rearranging and adding to that list every day. BUT – I know that the things that need to get done – will; the things that don’t get done – really won’t matter (and sometimes won’t be noticed); AND that the moments I pause to just let myself enjoy what IS rather than focus on what could be – those moments are ALWAYS enough. The kind of enough that comes from quality and contentment and not from quantity. My heart is abundantly full; our house is more than full; and our family is FILLED with the SPIRIT.

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Now What?

We operate best on a plan. We know what we need to get from one point to another; we work towards that and mark accomplishments along the way. Right now we don’t really have a plan – or at least we haven’t talked to each other about what the plan is.

MrTB4M is doing a great job of growing the business – WITHOUT advertisement. Some weeks he is more busy than he would like. So, what do we do? Do we focus on the business and really make it big? Do we slow it down and let it coast? What do we do??????

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MrTB4M is also doing a good job of getting the schooling done. His methods are definitely different from mine – which is ok – except when I am working with the kids and they tell me how I am “doing it wrong because dad does it another way”. ☹

In the mean time I am still working – which is a bit of a struggle. MrTB4M is so used to having his own schedule (even when he was working, his job was very independent) and the fact that there are expectations at my job about hours and presence in the office are a little difficult to navigate.

We have fallen away from date nights and I feel like we need those back. We need to reconnect. We need to re-center our goals AND we need to decide where we are going.  We need to remember to find our dream.

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Where Did the Time Go?

Yesterday marked four official months of MrTB4M being FREE from corporate America. There was no celebration; no balloon drop; no storm of confetti. But, our house has been filled recently with a sense of peace that had been missing for some time. This peace is the peace that comes with the discovery that the right decision was made at the right time and that the family is doing well as a result.

 

We had been caught in the hamster wheel way too long. He was coming in – I was going out – we were heading different directions – we felt we were being pulled into a pit of nothing. Until we got serious about a strategy to get MrTB4M home. THEN it happened – we packed up his “stuff” and turned it in and walked away from a job making over $80,000/year. WHAT?????!!!!!!!!

 

We had talked about all the changes this would bring for the house – and we were prepared. We knew it wouldn’t be easy – and we were ready. We were anxious to see if it could work – and we had faith.

 

But, it is strange……this change for us, hasn’t been a huge change. We are still putting money in the bank – go figure. MrTB4M is working far fewer hours than he ever has. The line of customers for the driving business is never ending – all without advertisement. I can only imagine how busy he could be if we advertised; but that would take him away more and would not be what we were in search of. We still take the kids out to do things; we still occasionally go out to dinner; we are still planning vacations. We are just doing it on one income.

 

School is going well for the college boys. J2 is probably half way through football for the year. J1 is registering for his second to last semester (where did that time go?). School is going well for the little ones – things are moving right along. Our “baby” (J8) will be 5 on Sunday. He is a great reminder that we are on this path so that we aren’t watching him graduate college thinking “Where did the time go?” We can ask the question in terms of “how did it happen so quickly….we remember when”. But, we will not be asking the question with the message of “how did this happen, how cold we miss this, when did you grow up?” NOPE – our time before money journey has set us up to enjoy each of the kids (even on the bad days) and to be part of their lives now!

Three Months and Counting……..

MAYBE we are into a routine of sorts at our house. MrTB4M is working out his own daily school routines with the kids and there are more good days than bad. The business is very steady – sometimes too steady. Unfortunately, it is back to a lot of evening and weekend hours – which is what we were hoping to avoid. On the other hand – MrTB4M is home most days to spend time with the kids, which is what we were hoping for. They have mastered several puzzles and are working their way through the Marvel super hero movies – rewards for school work performed well.

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One thing that we have noticed is that there are more smiles in our house. That part of our search has worked out. Overall, there is far less stress and anxiousness in the house.

MrTB4M and I are trying to get back into our weekly “date”/”coffee” nights just to carve that time out for ourselves again. AND we are discussing what our next “plan” should be. Should we work towards us both being home? Should we work towards growing the business? It is so hard to know what the “right” answer is at the moment. So, we will just continue to pray about it and see what sign pops up for us.

 

 

 

Back Tracking?

 

We are nearly three months into the “FIRE” for MrTB4M. He is happier; the kids are happier; the stress level at the house is so much lower. AND yet, he is already talking about getting a job.

He seems to be unable to settle his mind. He is driven by goals – which is a great thing. But it is also a curse when goals are made just because “we need to strive for something”.

The time with the kids is taxing him and he is trying to get into a routine but is struggling to find his comfort zone. I will also add that he is still using our babysitter about the same amount as he did before so most weeks he does have “time alone”; and my Fridays off are still my day with the kids and errands, so that is another day that he gets “his” time.  For him, the comfort is illusive.

All of the planning and strategizing are not without success – it just seems that his new status will take some getting used to. There is still the driving business which is going well. Admittedly it has been a little slow lately…..BUT he HASN’T advertised. So, really, how much should we complain?

I continue to hold onto faith that I know this was a move we needed to make for our kids and ourselves. I continue to pray that MrTB4M is guided to peace within himself so that he can enjoy the opportunity we created.

We signed up for adventure 23 years ago and we are still exploring!

Flame Is Still Burning

Here we are – two months after MrTB4M left corporate America. Guess what? It has been OK. Sure, there have been things that have changed. But, there are many things that haven’t changed. AND several things that have changed without anyone being aware of that.

We were planners and budgeters before MrTB4M left his job – and this continues. While the amount coming in has changed, the amount distributed to out household budget is as we had planned. We still designate for charity and college and savings and vacations. We have slacked on our date nights. While we were in the thick of planning for the FIRE date, we would go one night a week for a late coffee – not so much about the coffee, but for the time to connect with each other. Once we reached the goal, we let this date night slide….and we need to get back into that groove!

MrTB4M and the kids have gotten better about doing things like laundry and cleaning during the day while I am at work and a few days a week they even cook dinner. Most of the time I even get home to a dishwasher that has been emptied and things put away – thank you! There is just something about going home to find a dishwasher filled with dished from the night before that sends me over the edge.

So, what exactly is MrTB4M doing? A TON of different things! For started 3 days a week he teaches driver’s education or personal finance at 3 local homeschool co-ops. Then there is also the driving business – 8JS – now has full time availability. His goal is something like 5 lessons per week…..most weeks he has twice that. Then there is school for the kids. MrTB4M is now the “teacher”. I am still the planner/organizer and I still prep and oversee most things. But, once I get things ready for MrTB4M he is willing to give it a shot. The kids have been doing “school” for two weeks and we are not behind! Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t get behind – it just means right now we are not behind. I am the first to admit that we have had weeks where we were behind before Monday ended (and maybe before Monday started). But, so far this is not the case this year.

I still feel like MrTB4M and I overthink a lot of things. We spend a lot of time analyzing and discussing “what if we would have” or “do you think we should”; sometimes to a point that we forget to enjoy the present moment.

Overall at two months in I feel like we have had far fewer worries than I imagined. As I sit here this morning listening to the rain it is comforting to know that our FIRE is still burning!

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