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.

fork in road

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.

weather

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.

faith

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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.

lap

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!

finish

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.

streamer

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.

finish

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

helen

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.

dreams

When is Enough, Enough?

At last post, I told you the countdown was ON. I also told you that MrTB4M was not planning to travel to in-service in April. We were ahead of pace. It seems that was short lived as he has now pushed back his departure date to July.

The J-O-B has suddenly become tolerable and the draw for MORE is powerful. So the girls (J4 and J5) are now stringing a countdown banner around our house. 543 outlines of Mickey Mouse leading to Cinderella’s Castle. Luckily he is shortening the number – because our “tiny” house is out of space for the countdown chain, I think as of yesterday it was 353. Tax refund and an additional payday helped for sure.

mickey

In theory at the end of the countdown we will have enough banked for two large vacations. One this year, traveling to the northeastern US via RV (reservations for the rental are already made); and a second May 2020 when we return to Disney to take in all the new and updated parks.

byerly

https://www.byerlyrv.com/

WDW

Of course July isn’t too far away…….and our journey is much closer to the end than the beginning…..and we are in great shape compared to so many people….and we are happy (most of the time)….and we are blessed much more than we deserve……………but…..in the back of my mind I wonder what will happen when July comes? Will there be another goal? Will there be another “something” to check off the list? Is it fear of change? Is it that MRTB4M has changed his mind? Will enough ever be enough?

 

Coming Soon………

countdown

Well, here is the latest update – we are ahead of pace. MrTB4M is still extremely frustrated with his current J-O-B (that is the full time one, not the side hustle – he still enjoys the driving business). We knew he would officially be resigning in 2019. We really didn’t know when. Planning and planning and more planning and then planning and discussions about planning………………………and we really didn’t know exactly when it would happen.

Well, we still don’t know exactly when! But, what we do know is that unless something unforeseen happens, he will not be traveling to in-service in April. In fact, he may not make end of first quarter (March). The next 2 weeks will be instrumental in date setting. We are already scripting the letter in our minds. We are already smiling with the prospect of our accomplishments. I am very excited to see where the next chapter leads on this journey.

Who would have thought you could have 8 children and be on FIRE at age 45? I certainly never did, but I am all in. Let the countdown begin!

accomplishments

New Year – Same Goal

Officially it has been 2019 for 22 days now. For us, the “New Year” really started mid fall when we made the decision that we were determined to be FIRE and that MrTB4M would be the first to leave his corporate job. This decision was multi-factorial – 1) I had already had a brief period of being home while he was sole provider; 2) his job was NOT making him (and therefore the rest of us) happy; 3) his secondary business of driver training had potential to provide a little extra income if needed and maybe could grow into a business that could get both of us home.

We have stayed the course and we are on track! Every paycheck moved us closer and closer to that goal. We adjusted wish lists; we debated pros and cons; we saved money; we spent money; we played the “What if” game (you know – “what if this happens, what if that happens?”); we had dates nights focused around this topic; we went to Adoration and prayed about it – we were diligent about it!

J1 and J2 came home mid-December for college break. It was a little like a time warp back two years to when everyone was still home. It was SO nice – comfortable, enjoyable, it felt “right” having them home. But, it did NOT change the FIRE we had embraced whole heartedly a few months back. AND just like that, they are both gone again. J1 moved back a week ago and J2 moved back on the 20th. J6 had the hardest time of all – he really digs his “family time” and for the two “big brothers” to leave again was rough on him. Of course, we know it will be ok in the long run and J6 will snap out of it in time to enjoy welcoming them home for summer break – but it is tough to watch him “suffer” through the separation.

About the same time we were prepping J2 to leave again, our W2s came. This was it – we had anxiously anticipated this for months…..what would our tax situation do to our FIRE plan? MrTB4M knew it would be bad, he KNEW we were going to be in a “situation”…..and then, there it was. The moment of truth. Wait! Really, are we seeing things? Taxes are much better than we thought. The FIRE dream continues!

In fact, we actually have accelerated the plan and are preparing to pull the trigger at any time. There are a few perks that may happen if we hold out a few weeks, but the reality is it is happening! Of course, we will debate this back and forth and question ourselves over and over until we finally just make the leap – that is just how we roll. But, we both KNOW that there have been plenty of “messages” that this is the right thing; that this can happen; that we can make it work; and that this is part of our journey.

2019, bring it on!

Blowing Through – January 10, 2019

Well here we are, ten days into the New Year! It hardly seems possible that 2018 passed so quickly and that 2019 is in full swing. The Christmas season was wonderful at our house. I have to say it was the most peaceful holiday we have had.

We hosted Christmas Eve for 28 – which ended up to be 26 (and that is another story all together). People came on time and left much later than normal. There was no drama and there was an amazingly controllable level of “stuff”. There was a ton of smiles and laughter!

Christmas morning I got up and started breakfast – breakfast crescent ring and monkey bread. Now, admittedly I had originally planned a different menu – BUT, once the kids found out I was quickly reminded that Monkey Bread is a Christmas “tradition” for us. Who was I to argue with that logic? I had coffee made, bread baking, and the ring assembled before the first one was up.

J6 came down the hall – eyes barely open, shoulders drooping – and made the turn towards the tree. At that moment, a shriek of delight; eyes brightened; shoulders raised; and a definite pep in his step. It was awesome! It took a little persuasion to keep him quiet “for just a few minutes” to allow MrTB4M to fully wake up. But, I admit his excitement was contagious!

We let him wake everyone else up so they could have presents before breakfast and Church. MrTB4M and I were passing out presents, making sure everyone had at least one, and expecting squeals of delight and sounds of ripping paper. Almost simultaneously we turn to look at the kids and they are all just sitting, looking at their gift – very quietly J6 says “Well, can we open it?” I cannot imagine where the 3 little boys gathered the self-control to just look at the gifts.

Santa was very generous and brought them all 2 gifts; MrTB4M and I kicked in a 3rd gift. EVERYONE got at least one thing they really wanted. MrTB4M and I even got a puzzle – a 1000 piece Ravensburger Disney puzzle to be precise. I was pretty excited about that!

capture

Presents opened; breakfast; and dressed for church. All without argument – shaping up to be a great day. Mass was not as crowded as we had expected but the service was beautiful. We were home by 10:30. Everyone changed into comfortable clothes – MrTB4M and myself donned our brand new Missouri S&T Mom/Dad shirts courtesy of J2 – and they were off to the basement with their new things.

Midafternoon MrTB4M and I started our puzzle; pretty soon two or three of the kids were helping. I had to tear myself away to make dinner – by now it was nearly 4 in the afternoon and we were still without tears or arguing. Certainly a strange day. The puzzle was still calling though – something about having the time to do a puzzle and to do a puzzle with a Disney theme! After everyone was exhausted and tucked in to bed, MrTB4M and I resumed the puzzle. Slightly before 1 am he put the last piece in (it is tradition that I “let” him be the one to finish all puzzles). The next day the kids could not believe we finished it.

Here we are two weeks later – we have started school work again; decorations have been put away (or at least into the garage); and on Sunday J1 makes the trip back to Truman. I am already sad – again, I know this is how it is supposed to be; I know he is ready; and we are excited to see where he lands when this is over – but, it has been so nice having the table full again and everyone home. We have J2 home for one more week and he will head back as well. That will begin the 16 week countdown to summer, when my house will be full again – I can’t wait.