Forty lessons learned by 40

Today is my fortieth birthday.

This is going to sound strange, but I love turning 40. First off, I love that black (my favorite color) is the theme for turning 40. Secondly, I love the wisdom that is starting to come with age. I've got these white whiskers in my red beard, and I love it. I embrace my aged look. I like to think of it as patina. 

I truly believe I'm embarking on the most exciting decade of my life.

As is common with this age, I've been giving a lot of thought to the lessons I have learned over the years. Let's just get into it. 

  1. Celebrating birthdays is kind of silly. We should really be celebrating my parents who brought me into this world, kept me alive, and raised me in a safe and loving environment. 
  2. I haven't had a greater thrill in my life than seeing each of my children being born. If I could bottle up the emotions that accompany watching that experience, I'd be a wealthy man.
  3. It is far cheaper to buy an expensive item with quality, than to buy several cheaper items of poor quality.
  4. Once when I was a kid I asked my dad what makes a curse word a curse word. He told me it was the connotation that society places upon a word that makes it a curse word. I reject that idea. I think a four letter word is trivial compared to telling someone they are worthless.
  5. Don't air your dirty laundry online.
  6. Learning to play guitar is forever cool.
  7. Never wear pleated pants.
  8. Student loans are evil.
  9. If you're too comfortable, that's probably a bad sign unless you're on vacation. Don't get too comfortable.
  10. Fear can be an incredible motivator for self improvement. Embrace it and use it to your advantage. We must move in the direction of our fear.
  11. Don't worry about what other people might think about you. They're not living your life; they don't know what you are going through at this moment.
  12. I have never gone wrong dressing nicely for an interview.
  13. Visiting other cities, other states, and other countries taught me to appreciate the life I have at home so much more.
  14. If something, or someone, seems too good to be true, it's a very strong possibility that is exactly the case.
  15. Never use your children as a weapon.
  16. Don't love things, because you are only a natural disaster away from losing it all. Then you will find out what really matters, and it isn't your possessions.
  17. If you don't have at least one vice, I don't trust you.
  18. There are things I've said and done, all the way back to my childhood when I didn't really know better, that I still feel awful about saying and doing. The tongue is a sharp sword, and the mind an incredible snare that can remind you of your worst transgressions.
  19. Beating yourself up about the past has no value. Move on, grow, try to not make the same mistakes in the future.
  20. There are people who come into your life who are toxic. Get away from them; they are poison to the soul. Some will come disguised as co-workers, some as friends, some as family. Get rid of them.
  21. There are people who come into your life who will change your life for the good. Some of them are teachers, some of them are co-workers, some of them are friends or roommates or family. These people are nectar to your soul, and you'll miss them always when they're not a regular part of your life.
  22. Time off is essential.
  23. The best things in life aren't on a computer screen.
  24. If you write a book, the mileage you'll get out of that will amaze you.
  25. Always tip 20 percent unless the service warrants less.
  26. Consume less and create more. The world needs your creations.
  27. If you come up with an idea of something you want to try and someone tells you "that's a terrible idea," them screw it and try anyway. Best case scenario is your idea is successful. Worst case scenario is your idea goes no where but I bet you will learn a lot from the experience.
  28. Experience is an excellent teacher. This can be a hard pill to swallow.
  29. Your spouse is your mate; don't turn her into an adversary.
  30. You are going to figure out that you are wrong about some things. When you are given the choice between embracing the truth and "sticking to your guns," don't be an idiot.
  31. Don't get too wrapped up in politics. No, really. 
  32. The best way to handle a compliment is with, "thank you."
  33. The best response to someone who has lost a loved one is "I'm so sorry for your loss."
  34. Never auto schedule posts to social media.
  35. Yes, riding a motorcycle is as dangerous and as fun as it looks.
  36. With a few exceptions, there are no bad decisions. Rather, there are decisions and then you need to figure out how to deal with the outcome.
  37. You have to work really hard to be a true failure.
  38. Date nights are important. Don't neglect them. They pay off dividends.
  39. Figure out what you want, and go after it. Beware of the things that will try and stop you. 
  40. Don't put things off. Nike's "Just do it" isn't only a marketing phrase but rather, a philosophy.

When you realize you may be lying to yourself

In the last few years, I've been thinking about the possibility of moving back to my home (or close to it) in southeast Kansas/southwest Missouri. Every time I go home, there's this strange siren song that calls to me: "Come back! You can make a difference here! You can share your vision to help rebuild and people will follow you! Come back, Eric! Come back!"

The thing is, we live far away from most of our family. Sometimes I think I'm doing my children a disservice by being so far away from our relatives. The kids are always talking about going for a visit, but it's such a huge undertaking to get a family of five out the front door — let alone packed for an extended visit — that it doesn't happen nearly as much as I'd like. When I was growing up, I was no more than 60 minutes (give or take) away from my furthest grandparents. I got to know my maternal and paternal grandparents very well. As an adult, our family is spread all over the state of Kansas. Currently, it is impossible to think my children will have the same type of relationship with their grandparents (and other family members) as I did with mine, and I find that unsettling.

My 20-year high school class reunion was last year. I took my family and we had a good time. At some point, the conversation turned to how the area really wasn't like it was when we were growing up. It's not just the fog of nostalgia; long-term data shows the area I grew up in is one of the poorest in the state. The county I grew up in often lands on the top five of least healthy counties in Kansas. Jobs are scare, cities are dying, and to really put the icing on the cake: the Walmart in my hometown closed this year. When even Walmart can't do business there anymore, then you know things are bad.

Or as one of my former classmates who lives in nearby Kansas City said, "I'd love to move back here, but I like making money, too."

TrampolineTo put things in context, outside the True Value hardware store in the city of my birth (the hospital there closed decades ago), hangs a trampoline. Rather, it's half of a trampoline weathered from years of exposure to the elements.

There was a time when it had a sign on it with a price. I presumed they didn't want to take the whole thing down because it was at least showing they had the item in stock if someone wanted one in a box (you definitely didn't want the "floor model"). During one visit, my wife and I were discussing the trampoline, and she said it had been in that condition for at least the entirety of our marriage — to date, 12 years. She even believes it looked like this when we were dating.

That stupid trampoline reminds me every time I come home of the siren's call. I could show these people how to regain a sense of pride in their hometown. "I could bring my plan (yes, I have a detailed plan in my headabout how to fix a broken small town and restore it to some sort of greatness. I could people find the dignity they lost in a world that has forgotten them."

I can hear my speech in my head: "True Value, tear down this trampoline!"

For years, I've had job search websites looking for openings around the Joplin, Mo., area with the thought that I would pack up the family and move back home. Those searches have mostly come back empty, a testament to how few jobs in the tech industry there are down there (at least any that I would be competent at). For a time, I thought that I would try another approach: I would get a job somewhere that would allow me to work remotely, and then make the move. But I found problems with that plan. "If that job didn't work out, could I find another remote job? What if I couldn't find another remote job in a reasonable timeframe? With not many tech jobs in that area, what would I have to do in order to make a living?"

And yet, it was a recent conversation that made me realize a hard truth: perhaps I had been lying to myself. I was talking about most of everything said in this post to a friend. The reply? "If you really wanted to move back home you would have found a way to do it by now."

Wow. Smack me upside the head with a shovel.

I have been thinking about this a lot, and I still haven't came to any conclusions. But the question is starting to eat at me: Have I been lying to myself?

I'm reaching a point in my life where I want to make some long-term plans for my future. I have dreams and ambitions and goals, or so I think I do. Maybe my ideas aren't really legitimate. Maybe what I think are dreams, are instead me pining for a past that is long gone causing delusional visions of what could be.

Maybe it's time to really re-examine a few things. This would be the week to do it. Soon we'll pack up the kids and a minivan full of clothes for a visit to home once again during the holiday break. We'll eat too much food. We'll spend time with some of our extended family. I'll even go to yet another funeral for the dad of a friend from the area (this will be the second "funeral for the dad of a friend from back home" this year). After it's all over, I'll think about all these things yet again during the three hour drive to where I live now.

And I would bet a crisp Benjamin that stupid trampoline will be waiting for me when I get there.

In review: 2015

You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Another year, another annual "year in review." Oh boy, where to start? How about all the things I didn't get accomplished?


  • Total health reset - Nope. I got back into the gym for three months, but that was about it.
  • More minimalism - Nope. Things seem more out of control than before I started this journey. Every bit of progress made, was met with two steps back. I'd clean out the garage, and the kids would find a way to trash it. I'd pack away bins of toys, and the kids would drag them out after they found them. I'm really at my wit's end with the lack of progress on the minimalism front at the house.
  • Write more - This is my fourth post of the year for this site, so no.
  • Start a podcast - Sigh. No.


  • House projects - I worked my tail off on the house this summer. I got a great farmer's tan as well. I painted about 75 percent of the exterior, got sod for the backyard lawn, fixed some damaged boards on the front of the house, and replaced a broken front porch post. I was really happy with what I got done on the house and look forward to wrapping it all up in the coming months (after it warms up a little).
  • Changed jobs - More on that further below.


Looking ahead at 2016 ... You know what, let's talk about goals for a minute.

I have learned that the reason why I don't accomplish my goals, in part, is because they're not really goals. A goal has a fixed moment in time you want to achieve something by, and I haven't been doing that. These year-end reviews have mostly been good ideas instead of hard goals

  • Finish my house projects - I will finish my house projects by May 1, 2016. This includes finishing painting the last 25 percent of the exterior along with some minor repairs to do, and re-painting the interior of the house. Our housing needs have changed, so we will be selling our home of almost six years no later than Aug. 1, 2016 and finding more suitable housing for our family of five. We really love our neighborhood, but the home isn't a good fit for us now that we're a family of five.
  • Have an awesome birthday - This year, I will turn 40. To celebrate, I would love to have a fantastic party with anyone who has ever been part of my life. Maybe go out on the town, and invite anyone who wants to come by and say hello. Since my birthday is in June, let's say this will need to happen no later than June 11, 2016.
  • Reclaim my time - For several years now, I have volunteered my time in many different groups and activities. I have been happy to serve others, but now I need to take a break and focus on my family and my career. And so, by March 1, 2016 I will discontinue my involvement in most of my extracurricular activities and hope that someone else takes up the reins. The sad truth is, the Pareto principle states that 80 percent of results come form 20 percent of the causes. I've been part of the 20 percent for a long time, and it's time for me to step down for awhile. I simply can't sustain this anymore and I owe it to my family, and myself, to disengage for awhile.
  • Take a vacation - Aside from the time off I took after my son was born in August 2014, I haven't taken a week off for myself since May 2014. And even then, I didn't go anywhere with the family. We've been taking "staycations" for years, but I'd like to take an honest-to-goodness little trip away from the area with the family. I will accomplish this by August 1, 2016.

More about 2015

I'm going to be brutally honest as I can: this year was an absolute roller coaster.

The rest of the year was filled with some pretty dark times. We went through (and in many ways still are going through) a dark personal tragedy against my family that I'll never talk about online, and probably not even in person. It was far worse than the job debacle, but we're getting through it. 

And finally, our year with the boy  was especially difficult. Until a few months ago, he was a horrible, horrible sleeper. Amy and I were drained completely because the lack of sleep was taking a toll. Some relief came when we figured out he has eczema, and Amy's internet research led her to Dr. Richard Aron. We have been using his protocol with our son, and it has had amazing, wonderful results. I can only hope that Dr. Aron's methods can go mainstream; there are many in this world who suffer with eczema who could absolutely benefit from his methods. We are blessed to have found out about him, and to have physicians here in the U.S. who would work with an doctor overseas.

And now, here we are. It's December. The boy sleeps through the night and his skin is looking great. The girls are doing great in school, and Amy and I have a pretty good relationship (with a few "aggressive negations" from time to time). I love, love, love my job, and I'm learning that I have power over my mind - not outside events. I am finding strength.

So what do I see in 2016? I see a theme of rebirth. I'm going to decouple some things from my life that need to go away, and I'm going to embrace some changes that I believe will be better for my family in the long run.

But most important, I'm not going to let another person have so much power over me that it makes me feel helpless and trapped. Eric is an Old Norse name that means "ruler." I am free in so many beautiful ways. I will not be a slave.

Here's to 2016!

Two books for vacation reading

The holidays are almost here, and you may find yourself with a little time to crack open a book. Here are a couple of suggestions that are both quick reads, but packed with excellent philosophy.

QBQ: The Question Behind the Question

Author's website

Overview: This is a book about personal accountability both in work and in life. QBQ is one of my favorite books because it pings at your brain to always be thinking about the struggles you face daily. "Is there something I can do to make this better? What role can I play that can benefit a greater purpose? How can I own problem and turn it into a solution?" 

Warning: This book may give you a low tolerance for people who whine too much.

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph

Author's website

Overview: This is a fascinating book about the merits of stoicism. "How can I face adversity (without complaining) and see it as a benefit? What kind of person welcomes struggle?"  History is littered with examples of people who embraced stoicism and ran with it to change their lives and the world. Based much on the writings of Marcus Aurelius, the author invites you to look at the obstacles in your life and see them for tremendous opportunities to reach another level in your own personal development.

Please let me know if you end up reading any of them. I would love to know what you think.

Author's note: I originally published on an internal blog for work, but I also wanted to share here also.

Going to war

A fool and his money are soon parted. - English proverb (paraphrased)

In last year's in review post, I talked about how we didn't make a lot of progress on our final debt (we're not including the house debt): the student loans. Today marks a special day for us as a family. Today we begin, in earnest, our war with that debt.

We've made some progress in the last few years with some of our debt. In July of last year we paid off all our credit cards (again) and got rid of them completely with the help of our shredder. But those student loans have hung around for what feels like forever. This week, we talked with the girls (since the boy is too young to understand human language) about our debt and our plan to get out of it. We feel its important to talk to our kids about money so they don't make the same mistakes we did. I hope we're off to a good start.

In addition, we gave them a promise: when the student loans are paid off, we will take a trip to Disney World. That got their attention.

I write this now to mark a significant point in our family's history: today is the day we begin our great war. This might be April 1, but it is no joke — we are at war.

Maybe it’s time to get off your high horse

Author's note: This was originally posted on Medium. I have adjusted the timestamp on this post to reflect when it was published on that platform. Since this is the home of my writing, I've decided to permanently move it here.

Recently I attended a new Meetup group focused on a budding new web framework.

This particular framework is interesting, and shows lots of promise. It piqued my interest enough that I shifted my schedule around to drive an hour to join others interested in this new technology and introduce myself. Before the meeting started, I mingled with others who asked the inevitable question: "So what do you do?"

The answer has been the same for some time now: I work in municipal government, and mainly with Drupal.

As the meeting progressed, I got to see some examples of the new framework, how it's being used by the group's members, and got to thinking about how I might use it for my own projects. One of the presenters showed a content management system he had built, which had a handy feature: in-place editing.

"To talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming."
- English proverb

I was impressed at this framework's particular implementation of in-place editing, and commented that Drupal has something similar but its implementation feels a little bloated, and certainly not as fast as the one I was seeing in this presentation.

"That's because Drupal sucks," the presenter said.

Now, I would certainly agree that there are things in Drupal that are easier to do with other tools. I would agree that this in-place editing feature seemed better than Drupal's. I would agree that Drupal has entered interesting times where developers in the ranks are a little divided aboutwhere things are going.

But as I drove home, I couldn't help to think to myself, "Maybe you should get off your high horse."

Tell me if you've heard this before

Here's a list of things that suck (allegedly).

Apple sucks. Microsoft sucks. Java sucks. Ruby sucks. Python sucks. Rails sucks. PHP sucks. JavaScript sucks. WordPress sucks. Starbucks sucks. Dunkin' Donuts sucks. Chevy sucks. Ford sucks.

The list goes on and on and on and …

So here's the deal: what works for me, might not be the best for you, whatever it is. And the great thing is, THAT'S OK. Governments, news organizations, and educational institutions have adopted Drupal, by and large, because it works for them. Ford owners buy their vehicles because it works for them. Dunkin' Donuts drinkers (myself included) enjoy their coffee because it works for them.

So, to just flippantly say something sucks just because it doesn't work for you is a wee bit immature.

I won't be so bold as to say I've never said that something sucks. I will say, thankfully, that as I mature I'm finding it's a big world filled with lots of opportunity, and I need to find what works for me and roll with it. And for that matter, you should do likewise.

Words have incredible power.

If I had a different mindset, I could certainly see myself thinking, "I don't think I'll go back to that group," seeing as the first time I visited the thing that puts food on my table and clothes on my family's backs was flippantly disregarded. But, I'm a big boy. I can take a lot of what you throw at me. But someone else might not be as resilient.

But that brings me to my final point.

Learn the fine art of thinking before speaking

We have a saying around the office: "I can't fix 'it sucks.'"

Criticism is fine, as long as it is useful. But criticizing for criticism's sake? I don't see the value in it. Perhaps before we speak, we should take Jason Fried's advice and give it five minutes.

If you want to critique, offer ways things could be better. It could provide a fantastic opportunity to learn something for all parties involved. Through dialogue, rather than complaining, you might just gain insight that you couldn't have gotten otherwise.

Does that mean I don't think there's a time and place for disdain or disagreement? Oh my, not at all. But critiquing without discovery isn't fruitful, and could end up doing more harm than you thought.

And frankly, that sucks.

In review: 2014

A long December and there's reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last. - Counting Crows, A Long December

It is time for my annual "year in review," where I take stock of the year and look forward at plans to come. Let's just get into it.


  • Completing a Whole30 (again) - One of my goals was to finish a second round of the Whole30. I did in January 2014, but wasn't as pleased with my progress as I had hoped. I would later look back and realize I shouldn't have been disappointed (more on this later in the post).
  • Build something - Another goal was to "build something," in 2014, and I'm pleased to say I did. In March, I made a bookshelf for my daughters. I also cobbled together a wooden stable for my oldest daughter's play horse, and made myself a little table to sit next to my recliner at the house. In the beginning of December, I launched Candy Cane Lanes, a project I have had on my mind for a few years.
  • Pursue minimalism - I got to see The Minimalists in person, and went home completely inspired. Shortly thereafter, I started writing about my (seemingly never ending) journey toward minimalism at The Chaff. I made great strides in getting rid of many of my personal possessions, but I still have such a long way to go.
  • Had a son - OK, this wasn't really on my list of goals last year, but once we found out we were pregnant, it became a pretty big priority. Rogan Archer Gruber was born Aug. 23, 2014. I like him (but we are so totally done having kids).


  • Obstacle race - I really wanted to do a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder race, but it didn't happen. I didn't make it a priority, so I didn't train, and the goal was never realized.
  • The Final Debt - We didn't make a lot of progress paying on our last debt (the student loans). After finding out we were pregnant, we stopped paying extra on debt and instead put money in savings. This was a wise decision, and one I don't regret. We did keep ourselves from adding any new debt, especially when we cut up the last credit card in July.
  • House project - No, I didn't get hardly anything done around the house that I wanted. I did get our garage door fixed, and took card of "necessary maintenance," but painting and upgrades were a no go. At least I have all the paint purchased, should I have the energy to get started (babies tend to wear you out in the early months).
  • Stress, Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt - This year turned out to be a year full of change for me, with some positives with a lot of negatives. It's been really stressful. I had to work hard to keep it together, but somehow, I did. But the stress of the year came with a price. I haven't kept up my exercise routine that I was so diligently following. I used food for comfort instead of nourishment, and now I find myself longing to do a Whole30 to heal my body and mind (and probably go longer than 30 days). Things have sort of stabilized for now, but I need to do more to get things running optimum. Maybe I should set some goals. Speaking of which ...


Looking ahead at 2015, I see it as a period for a reboot. Let's just call it a rebuilding year.

  • Total health reset - Not long ago, I walked at least 10,000 steps a day, lifted two or three times per week, and ate mostly unprocessed, whole foods. I felt great. So, my goal for 2015 is to get back to that healthy mind/body state, without being preachy about it.
  • More minimalism - I am so happy with all I managed to jettison this year, but I have lots more to go, especially with a family of five. It's time to get the kids on board, and really tackle the rest of our possessions, together. If Joshua Becker can do it, so can we.
  • House projects (no really) - I need to paint the inside and outside of the house. I have purchased bathroom flooring that needs installed. I also need to fix our lawn after all the wear-and-tear it took from my wife's business, which closed in May. This may or may not preclude selling the house, but these projects need done, regardless.
  • Write more - Between this site, The Chaff, and my totally neglected development blog, Save Early and Often, I have no shortage of outlets for doing more with words. I do wonder how many blogs a minimalist can have and still be a minimalist ...
  • Start a podcast - I'm going to put this in the "Maybe, we'll see" category. I was recently a guest on the Better Know a Jackal podcast, and I really, really enjoyed it. I have the hardware, I have experience with making a few episodes of a podcast before, and I have the skills to put it all together. I think I'd like to take a stab at it, once I figure out some vague idea of what I think it might be about. But again, we'll see. I've got plenty to work on already.

I guess that wraps it up.

I have this tradition where on New Year's Eve every year I listen to the Counting Crows song, A Long December, while I wait for the ball to drop. It has been a long December, and an even longer year. Here's to 2015; may it be one of rebuilding.

Just wanted to say thanks

When I was just a young pup, I grew up in a town that loved baseball.

I got my start in the local Little League, but a problem with my knees forced me to sit out all of middle school from playing any sports. Then, as a sophomore, I was granted a clean bill of health.

By that time I was too late in the game to be good at any sport, but I did still enjoy watching baseball. That is, until the strike. Then my taste soured for baseball for a very long time.

How long? Until this year, when the Royals rallied and got all of nearby Kansas City fired up. I have really enjoyed watching the games and was heartbroken when they lost last night. But, they did well. They should be proud of their accomplishments.

And so, Royals, I just wanted to say thanks. You made baseball fun to watch. I look forward to next season.

Ending the compromise

Cut up your credit cards. If you use a credit card, you don’t want to be rich. — Marc Cuban, How to Get Rich

What seems like forever ago, my wife and I were on a crusade to eliminate our debt.

A friend had turned me on to Dave Ramsey's plan, and we went after it with a vengeance. We killed our credit card and automobile debt and had money in the bank.

When our first child was born shortly after, everything stalled. We didn't incur new credit card debt, but we weren't making the kind of progress we were on other debts pre-kid. And then kid No. 2 came along. We needed a van, which we bought on credit.

The compromises began. We got credit cards again. And then in 2010, we purchased a house. Along with that came its own expenses, and because we weren't following Ramsey's plan, the expenses mounted up. The credit card bills started rising. We were fools.

A year ago, my wife and I took our 10-year anniversary vacation, and while we were traveling across the great state of Arkansas, we got to discussing all of those things above. We decided to change. We couldn't let things go any further, so on Aug. 1, we refocused our efforts on getting out of debt. I took on more side jobs, and by the end of the year, we had paid off the last of the credit cards.

Except we didn't; when you have a credit card you tend to use it. We didn't typically carry a balance, but it happened a couple of times. Finally we realized: any credit card was too many.

Since my wife closed her business in May, we've found that by embracing the constraint of a temporary smaller income, we can live within our means just fine. It's a challenge, but certainly doable. And so, we've decided to cut the last safety net and embrace constraints even more.

Today over lunch, I shut down the last two credit cards. We are done; no more of this. We will use cash and our debit card, and focus our remaining efforts on paying off the student loans for good. Perhaps the best part was that instead of using my children as a crutch for why we couldn't get out of debt, they've now become a driver for why we will. And so, I had them help me get rid of the last one.

So now, forward. We have no auto loans and no credit card debt. The only thing we owe is our student loans. For the first time since we graduated college, we paid extra on the student loans this month. And when those things are gone, it's "Hello, Disney World!"

It's a good feeling to be where we are today. Today is a good day.

The end of a chapter

After almost four years in business, my wife, Amy Gruber, is shutting down her business, Tiny Tykes Playcare. Today is its last day.

This post is in praise of Amy.

Amy Gruber

When we got had our first daughter in 2006, Amy was working for a school district 30 miles from home. It didn't take long for her to determine she didn't want someone else to raise her child while she went off to work. She finished out the school year, and then found other employment that allowed her to be mom in the day, and worker bee in the evening.

And so, when we had our second daughter in 2009, she got to thinking about how she could stay at home with her children, yet continue to make a living. She decided upon the idea of using her teaching background and created a preschool in our home. Her desire was to create an intimate, manageable setting for teaching young minds, while still being able to be mom.

She did it. With very little advertising, no media coverage (I tried, but I guess they weren't interested), and mostly guerrilla marketing, she transformed our home into a school. She was able to achieve everything she set her mind to, and was blessed to have a steady stream of customers while educating young minds in the process.

Running a business is quite difficult. I've watched how much it's consumed her time and her mental energy. From the (quite idiotic) regulations she had to keep up with, shopping for food for her kiddos each week, keeping up with a curriculum, training, and constant cleaning, she pulled it off fantastically — all while being mother and wife. I don't know if many people knew just how good the hands were that their children were in. I realized I am biased, but I assure you: those kids were in excellent hands.

Perhaps most importantly, when our children look back at their lives, they will remember a mom who was there for them. This was the primary goal, and she achieved it.

But now we've turned a page in this chapter. We are expecting our third and final child in late August. She won't be able to continue doing Tiny Tykes Playcare with a newborn to take care of. We've taken steps over the past few years to whittle down debt, raise some income, and build some savings. Our ability to learn to live within our means will allow her to just focus on being a new mother.

We certainly feel blessed.

And so, she's reached the end of this chapter, and is starting a new one. Congrats to you, Amy. You have done excellent.


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