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On Monday, our son took a placement exam to get into college a year early. He's a bright kid, and is highly motivated to become a robotics engineer. He has worked so hard for this! He did well on the test, so all that's left is the SAT in June and he'd likely be heading to Vermont Technical College in September.

A few months ago, our daughter was accepted into the UnCollege Gap Year Program. It's an amazing opportunity! She has been busy readying herself to go, and taking on odd jobs to raise some of the funds, and we've been putting money aside each month, to help fill in the gap.

In the mean time, I've been working on building a way to help people overcome the up-front cost hurdle of green energy projects. I've made good progress, but need to learn a bit more in order to finish up the work-in-progress. With that in mind, I applied for the General Assembly Web Development Immersive program.

All in all, it's been a very exciting time for our family! Both kids heading off to their new adventures, me working to get Green Planet Heroes off the ground. My husband's job was going gangbusters.

We were just, just, just finally starting to claw our way out of the massive financial pit that was formed when we were both unemployed at the same time a few years back. It was a brutal time, when we were having some significant issues managing to afford that whole "eat every day" thing. I still have nightmares about it.

Which is why I'm crying right now.

Because my husband was laid off yesterday.

I feel like I've been kicked in the gut.

It's bad enough that it happened at all, but now? Right now? This is the worst possible time! Everything the kids have worked so hard to achieve is suddenly at risk.

To add just a soupçon of irony, shortly after my husband told me about his new not-an-employee-anymore status, I got the acceptance letter from General Assembly. I'm in! Except now I can't go.

In 4 days, we went from feeling like everything was finally, finally, finally going to be OK, to utter hopelessness.

The last time we were dual-unemployed, it was easy (at least at the beginning) to feel optimistic.

Certainly, it wouldn't take that long for one of us to find a new job. Right? It would be a nuisance, but we'd be OK, and it would be nice getting to spend a few weeks together while the job hunt was on.

Then the weeks turned to months, the months to years. We started tracking which churches offered free meals on which days, and scheduled our lives around them. We tried to grow the food we needed, and learned a few things in the process, like: moose really like corn and can step over deer fencing; beans won't germinate if the soil is too moist ... or too dry; chickens love, love, love sunflowers; the kids hate fresh carrots; late blight (the cause of the Irish potato famine) has arrived in the US, and really likes our little corner of the Green Mountains; it's unbelievably hard to water a large garden without a hose (no outside faucets). The list goes on, but suffice it to say, we adults made sure the kids ate, no matter what. Sometimes (frequently) it meant we didn't.

Whatever we had to do to make sure the kids would be OK, we did. We cashed in our 401ks to pay for COBRA. We ran up credit card debt.  It left us with no reserves, though. The 401ks are still gone, and we're still not done paying back the debt, and we certainly can't run up any more of it.

So it's hard to be optimistic, now. Our futures all just came crashing down in one gigantic pile of suck.

Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:55 AM PT: Whoa! Apparently this made the rec list while I wasn't looking! Our film team put on a community event last night to show short films by local film makers, so while this was on the rec list, I was off not getting the library's projector to communicate with a single one of the computers I had available. Luckily, another participant had a computer that could talk to the projector!

Sat Dec 20, 2014 at 5:54 PM PT: It's been a grueling several months, but thanks to the class I took, and the connections I made there, I am about to start a new job. My husband got a job a couple months ago. Between the two of us, we're going to be able to pay all our bills for the first time in 10 years!

If it hadn't been for all the wonderful people who (a) convinced me to do a fundraiser, and (b) contributed, we'd be toast, financially. It's been a juggling act, like you wouldn't believe, but we've managed to just barely get the kids into their programs. Our son may make the Dean's list (or be within a couple of tenths of a point if not)! Not bad for never having taken a structured class before in his life!  

Our daughter is on part 2 of her 4-part program, happily ensconced in Japan, doing a workshare, in which she gets room & board in exchange for spending time in a language cafe, talking with Japanese people who want to learn English from a native English speaker. From there, she'll be going to (a non-radioactive area) just outside of Fukushima to help out in a pet charity that cares for (non-radioactive) pets that had to be abandoned after the tsunami. We owe a debt of gratitude to so many people! Oh, and I'm still working on Green Planet Heroes. It's largely functional, but needs some more design/layout work and to be hooked up to a payment system.

Originally posted to Radical Simplicity on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 07:46 AM PDT.

Also republished by Unemployment Chronicles.

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