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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.




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………


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!


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!


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.

Something in the Air

Well, here we are. One week until Christmas. Wow! Where did the entire year go? We have been on an incredible journey and it is amazing to step back and see what our family has done this year.

  • We finished a school year
  • We took a leap of faith and didn’t re-enroll the kids so that we could return to homeschooling
  • We saw J2 graduate from high school
  • We saw J1 complete a full year of college
  • We spent an amazing week on the beach as a family
  • We moved J2 into Missouri S&T dorms
  • We moved J1 into a house near Truman State University
  • We started the school year with the “littles”
  • We watched J3 really step up and mature
  • We saw J3 be named to the All Star Team at the National Homeschool Soccer Championship
  • We saw J4 quickly adjust to homeschool and start to SMILE again
  • We watched J5 play more soccer than imaginable with the team placing #1 in the State and #1 in the region
  • We watched J6 begin to read on his own solidly
  • We saw J7 break his arm and miss half of a soccer season
  • We saw J8 become a little boy and no longer a baby (of course he is 4 so it really wasn’t all this year – but there was definitely a change over the year).
  • We anxiously awaited J1 and J2 to return home for the holidays to feel our home be complete

Of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the year we made the decision that MrTB4M would be a SAHD. That choice alone set many other puzzle pieces into motion. From budgeting, to planning, to theories of how it will look, to nightmares, to panic attacks, to thoughts of insanity – it was not an easy decision, nor do we expect a transition without a few bumps. That being said, we have adjusted the date many times – initially August 2019; then June 2019; then April 2019; then February 2019; and now more like June or July 2019 (thank you stock marketblog3).


The thing is, we haven’t changed our mind about it; we have just changed our anticipated timing. Oh, there are days we are convinced we should pull the plug “tomorrow” and there are days we think it should be another year or two……but, we know it will be happening in the next few months. That anticipation consumes us on many days and YET, there is so much more this time of year to focus on.

Just this week I had to have “the talk” with J8 – NO, not “THE” talk, but the talk – the one that goes something like this…..just because you put that on your Christmas list does NOT mean Santa deliversJ I know that is hard to hear, but in our house that is reality! Cute or not, baby or not. Just because you ask for a “real” car to drive around in doesn’t mean you will get it. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that there will be no “real” car showing up under the tree – not for the 19 year old and certainly not for the 4 year oldJ

Last week I took the kids to see Santa. J7 told me it wasn’t the real Santa. I silently thought – here we go, the “big” reveal – and in front of all the others. But, here is how it all played out – he knew it wasn’t the “real” Santa and was just a helper – not with any logic or theory. He knew this wasn’t the “real” Santa because this Santa SMELLED funny. You might ask what that means (I sure did)? AND I am confident you will be surprised to hear that a “funny” smelling Santa smells exactly like…………PROTEIN???? I never saw that one coming!


As Christmas nears and people are spending countless hours (and dollars) in search of the perfect gift – it is a perfect time to take a step back and look at all of the gifts (perfect or NOT) that we have been given over the last 11 months. “Gifts” that left fear, frustration, laughter, tears, gratitude, uncertainty, smiles, emptiness, contentment, anger, joy, promise, and most of all hope. There is definitely something in the air in our house – a contentment that just feels “right”.

love ornament

May your Christmas be blessed and your New Year bring you all that you need!

“Out of the silence, came music; out of the darkness, came light; out of uncertainty, came promise; hope was born that night”.

merry christmas

Time B4 Money – Kids are Getting It

It is the holiday season and our house celebrates Christmas. The true Christmas centered around the birth of Christ. Our family also celebrates Christmas with gifts and other worldly traditions (cookies/carols/movies/get-togethers). These celebrations always leave us a bit underwhelmed and a lot overwhelmed all at the same time.


We do a fair job of controlling things for our house and have a 3 gift limit…..two from Santa and one from mom and dad. If 3 gifts were good for Baby Jesus, they certainly should be more than enough for our kids. Now, that being said – Christmas at our house is still CRAZY. Just simple math will demonstrate this……there are 8 kids that get 3 gifts eachblog3.

blog 2

So, MrTB4M and I spend time trying to get something the kids will like, that will be useful, and that will give them something to do. Of course, we also follow a budget. These trips to shop often lead to a few differences of opinion. You see, MrTB4M is great at picking out things the kids would “really like” (such as the newest electronic game system or the largest Lego set) but he is ADVERSE to things the girls really would like (such as new clothes/shoes).


Our kids make lists every year and the older they get, the smaller the lists get. Our older boys really ask for fewer and fewer frivolous things and include things they need or will need that they don’t want to have to buy for themselves (clothes/sports equipment). The little boys make lists that are filled with things from their imagination – for example this year J7 has asked for a lawnmower, weed eater, blower, hat, and safety glasses. This of course is for the lawn business he runs to mimic that of the older boys. J6 asked for a multitude of things including a phone (which he won’t getJ). Somedays you can start to wonder if they really are so caught up in the commercialism that they don’t really understand what Christmas is.

AND then – out of the blue – I am in the middle of a shuttle run for some activity or another and J6 says to me “Mom, do you remember that place we stayed with the really cool bunkbeds?” “No, what are you talking about?” Back and forth it goes, like 20 questions, trying to figure out exactly what J6 is referring to. Finally he says “You know mom. Before the boys went to college we stayed in a hotel – all of us – so we could swim and hang out.” Ah ha! First weekend of August we took a little weekend trip – the last weekend everyone would be together for a while and we were doing a little early birthday celebration for J4.

Now this trip was nothing to speak of; a four hour drive, a basic hotel (but, it had a “waterpark”) and nothing else planned. It was a great time while we were there – everyone had a lot of fun and we really enjoyed the time away. We returned home and shuttled boys off to college, started school for everyone else, and fell into our normal routines.

Who would have thought that was what J6 would remember? Now that I figured out what he was talking about, I still had to answer him. “Yes, I remember. Why?” “I think we should go back again. I really liked us all going away together and I miss my brothers.” Sniff, sniff! “J6 that costs a lot of money, I am not sure we will be able to go back there anytime soon.” Then, he says (very quietly) “We don’t have to pay to do anything there, can’t we just go so we can all stay together in the same room as a family.” My sweet (and yet very trying) 7 year old just wants a chance to have us all together in one space doing “nothing”.

Maybe the kids are getting that there is more to life than stuff and money and that the important things are the people. Maybe that was a message to us to step back and stop always focusing on what we need in the future and enjoy a little now.

Maybe there is hope for the future that the choices MrTB4M and I make are changing our kids for the better. Maybe the little things really are making big impacts. AND hopefully we will not have to explain to any Grinches in our house that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas – perhaps – means a little bit more.” – Dr. Seuss



The stock market is plunging, the gains of an entire year are wiped out, and college accounts are tanking. With two in college from now until J7 graduates in 16 years (YIKES) none of this seems like anything to be thankful for. Now, I am not talking about being thankful for basic needs – that is not what this is about at all. We are eternally thankful that we have our family, their health, and the means to provide for daily needs without problem. We are aware of the less fortunate and are able to give to them weekly as well. What this is about, is the position we are in; where we can be thankful that this series of events (tanking accounts, plummeting stocks, college forever) does not define us.

The events are not good for us by any stretch, but at this point – we can take a step back and almost relax. NONE of these things directly impacts the daily needs of our family. We know that our vision, of what we will be able to help with college wise, may have to change; we know our retirement portfolio looks different than 6 months ago.

What we can be THANKFUL for is that none of this defines us and none of it changes the way we will live our lives. We have trained ourselves to live with a purpose and spend with a purpose. It is second nature to us at this point. All we have to do is stay the course.

No matter what your personal circumstances are, take a moment and step back. Look at the overall picture, regroup and decide where you are going, and then figure out step by step how you will get there. It is a journey – and journeys are filled with adventure. Adventure can be filled with adrenaline rushes or sudden pitfalls. Just don’t forget the journey.

What if?

So, what if we need a new roof? What if the car breaks down? What if someone is sick? What if there aren’t enough driving lessons? What if vacation plans change? What if we can’t pay for college for the kids? UGH! The list of “what ifs” certainly can damper the success of what we have accomplished so far.

There is ALWAYS the potential for something to go wrong – and we have been on the occasional derailed path of many things going wrong at the same time. We have had the furnace go out, the hot water tank quit, the remodeling jobs that would never end, the remodeling jobs that were finished and really aren’t right, mechanical issues with vehicles, and more mechanical issues with vehicles, and larger than expected college bills thanks to incidental fees. Sometimes we get several of these incidents all at the same time. It is easy to become overwhelmed; it is easier to start to panic; there is sometimes a little sadness as you watch the “categories” you have built up be depleted much quicker than they filled.


But, reality is that this is life and we (personally) are in a position to manage all of these situations without difficulty. Our determination to buckle down and save has provided a financial safety net AND a psychological safety net. We do sometimes find ourselves still asking “What if?” but, when we take the time to step back and look at the situation – it never is as bad as we thought. The past 22 years have taught us many things (good/bad/scary). One of the most valuable lessons is to live life with gratitude.

                                        Gratitude turns what we have into enough!


The realization that these “What ifs?” are just part of life and that we CAN get through them really helped us kick into the quality versus quantity frame of mind. As I have mentioned in prior posts, we do have things that we “splurge” on – vacations; laundry detergent and cleaning supplies that I don’t make (don’t let this fool you, I still use a lot of vinegar and baking soda for various things); eating out with the family once in a while; and plenty more luxuries that just make our lives a bit easier or happier sometimes. Don’t judge us – we won’t judge youJ But, our focus is totally different on where and why we are putting money in certain “envelopes”. Literally, we have tipped the scales.


The Slide Continues

So MrTB4M has a unit meeting scheduled at work for last week. All of the “big” bosses are coming into town for Monday and Tuesday. These are the kinds of meeting that the corporate world folks dread – a lot of man hours spent in close quarters listening to quotes and formulas, projections and short-comings; time being asked for opinions and feeling pretty strongly that the question is only a formality.

Then, the Friday before MrTB4M gets a call from a co-worker. The co-worker has been reassigned to a special project. The proverbial writing on the wall. We have anticipated this for weeks and now it seems it is imminent. Yet, the weekend was peaceful – no anxiety, no palpitations, no panic. There was still the Sunday night dread of what Monday and Tuesday would entail, but no panic over the announcement anticipated.

Sure enough, by end of day Tuesday, MrTB4M has about as many details as he will get. The department is being evaluated to be stream lined into desk operated positions utilizing external vendors for cost containment. The process will be quick with most of the pilots to be maximum of 6 months. Suffice it to say there were many in the group that were flustered, angry, nervous, and outright scared of what the future holds. But, not MrTB4M – he was calm, relaxed, and at peace. This solidified his plans to leave and maybe even pushed up the date a little. We had been planning on July 2019……….but, it could be much sooner. I dare say there was relief in his shoulders.

I never would have dreamed that we would be calm and relaxed when faced with the reality that we are a family of 10 with two in college and we will soon be operating on one income. I mean really, in this day and age there are plenty of two income families that are barely making it – and here we are almost looking forward to the hatchet falling.

MrTB4M didn’t miss a beat, he got right to what he does best – calculating. AND he found out that we were actually in a better position than we thought – even after the sliding stock market and the dives of our retirement funds. We can do it, it will be fine!

Don’t be fooled – it took a lot of work to get to this peacefulness (and a lot of envelopes and scratch paperJ). But, we made it and it feels so good!opportunity