Tuesday, May 03, 2011

travel habits & debt

On Saturday at the Teen Challenge event someone said,  "You are missing a bunch of kids aren't you?"

The first five -  April 2006
We were indeed.  We only had Lydia on Saturday.  (We have to take her because she is the hard one and rarely does Paige sign up to baby-sit her.  We understand. We accept. We love. We lament.)

Here's the deal: Right around child number five a dramatic shift occurred.

No, I'm not talking about when we we got lackluster with personal grooming or stopped consistently getting sufficient rest at night.

I'm talking about when we stopped going places as an entire family unit. This necessary change took place long before we moved to Haiti and long before the 6th and 7th child arrived  - it was somewhere in the middle of the memorable year of aught four.

I can tell some people don't like our practice of dividing up the fam.  Why? I mean, the President and Vice President of the United States never travel together. Does that stress you? Our entire family will never parish at once. Surely that is a good thing.

Our reasons for this are many. It is less for concerns of national security and more for a deep longing and unending quest for personal sanity and marital bliss.

Because of this, it is likely you will never meet all of our children at once. You may be subjected to some combination of three or four of them, but you may never lay eyes on the entire lot of them.  Not at church. Not at Beth's house.  Not in the USA.  Not in Haiti.  People seem kind of stressed out by this habit of ours and I'm taking this opportunity to say "Sorry?" and "You're welcome!!".

Approximately one time per month we all leave our house to go somewhere together as a unified and whole tribe. Maybe you'll catch it.



We are rapidly approaching middle life. I am in my late 30's for crying in the sink. I entered higher education two decades ago  and finally finished in a sucktacular anticlimactic way in May of '98 when I received a bachelors degree from a little known Christian Liberal Arts College called Crown.  In the mailbox one spring day I found my diploma and my first gargantuan bill from the Dept of Education.

That was the beginning of a long, complicated, and mainly dysfunctional relationship with student loan debt. At times I deferred, at others I begged my way to forbearance. Rarely did I know what any of it meant for the life of my loans, I just knew I wanted to be unusually skilled and especially excellent at finding ways out of paying. I'd say I succeeded. At one point I pompily declared to a friend "I plan to die with that student loan debt."

In December I watched my oldest child march across the stage to receive her college diploma ... All the while sitting on the reality that I, at such an advanced age, still had not paid off my own stinkin college education.

I chip away at it . year.after.year.after.stupid.year.

guess what?

wait for it.

Student loan has been paid off.  Gone. Finished. 成品. Færdig. Klaar. Päättynyt. Terminado. Fini. Baigta.

This means for the first time since I was 17 years old I carry zero debt.  That's right.  Saturate yourself in that.

So - I am receiving congratulations while basking in that glorious fact today.  

Are you debt free?  Does it feel good every day, or just for the first few hours?