From the moment I stepped into the one and only bedroom upstairs in the farmhouse, I knew it was meant to be the Claire Bear's.
It had a beautiful eastern view, where the sun would rise every morning for my sweet early-bird.
It had two closet doors with a long closet that met in the middle...a "secret-passageway" as she says.
And it had a little hatch that went into some attic storage that really made the oldest daughter nervous. "Who knows what might come out of there?" Harlee said that first day.
After the room was painted, we started to fit Claire's furniture in.
She knew she wanted BOTH closet doors accessible, so that left ONE place for her bed.
My mom had found an antique bedroom set at an auction that had "Claire" written all over it. There was a full bed and matching vanity. We fit those pieces in first and went from there. We covered the "creepy attic hatch" (as Harlee calls it) with her dresser and saved room for her desk by the window.
Since those pictures were taken back in July of 2017, we've gotten the windows in the farmhouse replaced and Claire Bear has her dream desk with her dream view.
It's not perfect, but it's all Claire!
I really can't wait to watch my sweet girl grow up in this bedroom. ❤️🏡❤️
One of the things that really helps me to stay on track during the stress of the school year is trying to be productive early on each day.
I'm not a good "sleeper-inner", but there are also mornings that I get up early and do more sitting and wasting time than doing my best work.
Because of this, I've developed a morning routine that is built on habits and not a lot of random time-consuming choices.
My morning routine really starts the night before when we lay clothes out and prepare for the next day (more on that coming in another post).
However, in August of this year, I decided to make my bed every single morning and build the habit. It stuck. I don't even think about it anymore and when I leave my bedroom, I've already got a little bit of productivity under my belt.
I used to shower and get dressed & ready for the day right after that, but I have realized that in the wintertime especially, I love drinking my coffee and doing my morning Bible reading and prayer time in my warm and cozy jammies. I just have to be sure to set a timer or I would sit there all day!
I have found that taking a nice chunk of time each morning for my coffee, Bible study, prayer time, and running through my day BEFORE THE GIRLS GET UP really starts my day off on the right foot.
I am usually going through a few Bible studies at the same time on my YouVersion Bible app. You can see the ones I was working on this morning in the images below.
I have found that I HAVE to set a timer during the morning to keep myself on track or I will get carried away reading or during my prayer time and before I know it...I have forgotten to get the girls up and we are running late.
So by 5:45, I like to have the girls up and going before I jump in the shower. I get dressed, fix my hair, and occasionally whip up some eggs. A lot of the time I don't even eat breakfast...fancy people call it "intermittent fasting" and I call it "I'm just not hungry yet."
My girls always grab something to eat...they are breakfast people.
We are...er, really try to be, out the door by 6:30.
Once the girls are up and running, I know that my day won't be quiet again until they all climb into bed that night.
This is why that morning time in the peace and quiet of the farmhouse seems so valuable to me.
I'm working hard to be centered and intentional with my time and getting up early is just another piece of that puzzle for me.
My morning routine helps me to be the best version of myself, for Mr. Farmhouse, my girls, the rest of my family, my staff, and my students.
Trying to "rise & shine" from the farmhouse,
So let's be real here, friends.
The school year so far has not been as easy as we would have hoped.
There have been moments of tears and days of uncertainty.
I'm learning a new role, trying to finish up some unfinished items from last school year, and share my vision with my staff and students.
I've not once regretted jumping from the classroom to this new leadership position, but there have definitely been some moments where I have questioned if I am making the right decisions and sharing the right information.
It has been wonderful and challenging and fulfilling and difficult.
The last two weeks were especially trying.
I had meeting after meeting after meeting. Some were in the building, but others were out-of-district.
One of the out-of-district meetings was on a day it was pouring down snow and we drove very carefully all the way to the district that ended up calling school off early because of the treacherous road conditions.
Another one was the experience you might remember reading about, where we accidentally drove half an hour in the whole wrong direction before even picking up our third passenger.
On the days I was in the building for meetings, they weren't all "by the book" simple discussions. They involved lots of problem-solving and a few hard conversations.
The week before Thanksgiving was pretty emotionally exhausting and I think I was looking forward to the holiday break more than I ever have in my teaching career.
And the break did not disappoint.
Saturday we had a dinner at my parents' house, then went to see Santa that evening.
Sunday after church, we had Thanksgiving dinner at our house, in the midst of a blizzard warning.
When everyone left Sunday evening, I was exhausted, but mentally and emotionally refreshed and feeling thankful...ready to take on the rest of second quarter.
At 6:00, I got a text message...snow day on Monday.
It was an unexpected surprise and the girls and I were equally excited.
After that text message, we decided to decorate the Christmas Tree and watch "Home Alone" while eating popcorn.
Then last night, we got another phone call...snow day on Tuesday.
Thank You, Lord, for forcing me to stay home and slow down.
It has been necessary and I'm not sure I would have taken the time to enjoy the Christmas decorating process with the girls had we not had these two days off.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and emotionally spent, take some time today or tonight to just sit and enjoy your home...to enjoy your family...to enjoy the beauty of snow.
You must pour into yourself before pouring into others.
Happy Snow Day from the farmhouse, friends.
Over the last week, I have had three separate situations that have been less than ideal.
And yet, in all three instances, I was able to find humor.
Last Tuesday morning, we had a 10:00 a.m. start at school because of the temperatures. However, I had to be to school for a meeting around 7:00 a.m. I rolled into the parking lot and got out of my vehicle at 7:03. The meeting was supposed to start at 7:15 and I was feeling good about being there early.
As I headed towards the school building, I stepped down off of the curb onto one of the only patches of ice in the parking lot. I went down to the ground and I went down fast. I fell straight forward and as I tried to save my Sonic drink, my right elbow took the brunt of my fall.
Because there were two witnesses to the humiliating experience, I bounced right up and pretended like everything was fine. I had smashed my cup under the weight of my body and I was soaking wet with ice cold water and bits of strawberry all over my coat. I started the trek into the building and that is when a thought popped into my head.
We have surveillance cameras that will have caught this entire disastrous situation.
We got through our meeting and I immediately headed down to my colleague's office to pull up the camera footage and have a look.
It was awful.
It was terrible.
It was absolutely hilarious.
We laughed and laughed and laughed. We called our coworkers and I sent the file via text to my family. I ended up posting the video on Facebook and it has gotten over 1,800 hits, so far.
It was a painful situation that turned into an almost joyful occasion for everyone who got to witness it.
I’m sharing the video here to give you a laugh if you didn't get to see it on my Facebook page.
Wednesday morning, although I woke up sore from the fall, I knew I needed to leave the house by 5:50 to make it to the school by 6:30 to leave for a conference. I walked outside at 5:40 to start the car and Mr. Farmhouse asked me to start his truck also.
"Sure," I mumbled, as I faced the freezing temps on the deck.
I got my vehicle started and went to his old farm truck.
It's a manual. The parking brake apparently doesn't work all the time. AND the little map of what gear you are in is all worn off the gear-shifter.
So I get the truck started and try to put on the emergency brake. Nothing.
I take my foot off the clutch and start to roll.
Try the brake. Nothing. Roll.
I repeated this process AT LEAST 15 times.
No matter how far I moved up or back, I couldn't find a flat enough place to keep the truck from rolling.
I didn't have my cell phone on me to call Mr. Farmhouse and see what his advice would be, so I started honking the horn.
You have to understand that the horn DOES NOT HONK like a normal horn. It sounds like Beaker off the Muppets.
I honked and honked and honked...no response from Mr. Farmhouse.
I tried the parking brake about ten more times and FINALLY it took.
I got back inside and looked at Mr. Farmhouse.
Me: Could you not hear me for the last 15 minutes honking the horn on the feed truck?
Mr. Farmhouse: Oh, is that what that noise was?
Me: Uh, yeah. The parking brake wouldn't stick.
Mr. Farmhouse: Yeah, it does that sometimes. It's so annoying.
Me: Yes, yes it is. And now I'm almost twenty minutes later than I wanted to be.
Mr. Farmhouse: Not good.
I got the girls in my vehicle (that was PLENTY warm at this point) and I dropped them off to my parents.
And then I started laughing.
The mental image and leftover soreness from the fall the previous day, combined with the situation of me literally being stuck in the feed truck for 20 minutes with no help just got to me.
I giggled almost all the way to work to meet my coworker that I needed to go to the meeting with (I was only three minutes late!).
At this time, we hopped into the car quickly (no icy parking lot this time, thank goodness!) and headed north to pick up another colleague.
We put his home address into Google Maps and started following the directions.
The navigation system took us northeast of the school about 35 minutes and when we pulled into the driveway, nobody came out.
We assessed the situation.
We were in the driveway of a house (I thought this coworker lived in an apartment).
An unfamiliar car in the driveway.
Christmas lights on the porch.
I called him. No answer.
I thought I remembered this coworker living in Overland Park...not Grandview.
So we accepted the fact that GPS has led us astray and we started heading in the opposite direction of where we needed to go.
I kept trying to call and text our coworker, but to no avail.
We hit MAJOR rush hour traffic going west on I-435 and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to be late.
The driver who I was riding with was NOT happy.
He is ALWAYS at least 20 minutes early when he needs to go somewhere. He is prompt for every meeting and it makes him crazy to walk in late somewhere.
So the fact that we were sitting in traffic facing west when our meeting was east just struck me as funny.
I started giggling and looked over at him.
Not even a crack of a smile.
Which made it even funnier to me.
I ended up Facetiming Mr. Farmhouse to share our situation with him and he didn't think it was funny...until I turned the camera to Mr. Grumpy Pants in the driver's seat.
Still no smile.
Now I absolutely cannot control the laughter.
The elbow pain from my fall the previous morning,
the 15-minutes in the feed truck rolling frontwards and backwards as I tried to engage the parking brake,
and now the mix-up on the address of our co-worker.
It was all too much.
And then my cell phone rang.
It was the guy we were picking up.
Me: Hey! You finally found your phone and saw my missed calls and text messages! We got a little mixed up, but I think we're headed to your house now. What city do you live in? The address didn't have a town listed on there.
Coworker: It's actually a KCMO address, but basically Grandview.
Me: Uh. Do you have a little brown car in the driveway and Christmas lights on your porch?
Coworker: That's the one...are you here?
Me: Not exactly. Give us half an hour.
Driver: You've got to be kidding me.
Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Still laughing in the farmhouse a week later,
There are 56 days left in 2018.
A few friends and I have been following along with Rachel Hollis's "Last 90 Days", where she has challenged people to make the last 90 days of the year count.
Well, I was successful in following her "Five to Thrive" for about 15 out of 31 days in October.
And now...that 90 days has dwindled down to 56 days.
So this weekend, I've taken some time to regroup and do some planning for the next two months.
The girls and I did some deep-cleaning in our bedrooms and the rest of the house.
I planned out our meals for the next few weeks.
We set some goals for ourselves and made a commitment to make these last few months of the year meaningful.
If you're feeling like things have gotten out-of-control and you just want to gain some peace and calm in the near future, feel free to join me in building some habits in the next 56 days that will help us to enjoy the holiday season.
More info to come in the morning.
There's no question about it.
Autumn is my favorite season.
It's often short-lived here in Missouri and we often spend a day or two each September with a taste of Autumn before jumping back into high temperatures for another week or so.
However, I am hopeful that yesterday was our last day in the 80's for a while.
Bring on the colorful leaves, misty mornings, Pumpkin Spice-everything, scarves, and cozy hooded sweatshirts.
Since making my decision to put down the camera and focus solely on my new role at school this year, I've had a lot more weekend time at home.
It's not basketball season yet and our nephew's football games have been in the evenings, so I have been able to wake up on Saturday mornings and spend some time in the quiet of the farmhouse front porch, taking in the crisp, cool morning breeze.
When the long summer days start to get shorter and the hot, humid days start to get cooler, I feel a renewed sense of urgency for enjoying every moment in my home with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
I start to think more about crock pots with simmering soup, evenings spent around the fire pit, and the smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the house.
When I knew I was going to be leaving the classroom at the end of last school year, I discovered that there was lots of work to be done...starting with cleaning out 13 years of teaching supplies from my classroom.
I was moving from a room that housed myself, over twenty children at any given time, and years and years of classroom materials, personal belongings, and random items I had kept "just in case".
As I mentioned in my blog post on Monday...usually, "just in case" never came.
I started the process of getting my room emptied just as soon as school was out.
I boxed up.
And I even sold a few items.
By the end of June, all that was left was a pile of tubs in the middle of the room that needed to be moved down to my new office.
On the afternoon of June 29th, I started the process of transforming my new office into my own.
I started to think of my office in terms of the "zones" I would need to have.
With these goals in mind, I started the process of going through every single drawer and shelf in the office.
After I had been through every piece of paper and book in the office, I started to organize what was there.
Finally, I decided what items I would keep from my tubs and sent the rest home or to the donate pile.
When my systems were clear, I was ready to decorate.
Armed with my clearance finds from Hobby Lobby and Big Lots, the transformation was complete.
So without further ado...here's my farmhouse office.
The new position has been all I had dreamed of and more.
I'm so thankful for God's providence and guidance over the last several years to bring me to the place I am right now.
Happy Sunday night from the farmhouse, friends.
I am an over-thinker.
I often complicate things that should be simple.
I sometimes spend more time writing out a detailed and systematic to-do list than actually working on the task at hand.
I have often created elaborate New Year's Resolution plans and intricate systems for managing my work- and home-life.
These systems are almost always difficult to implement long-term.
Every day is a new day, full of surprises and challenges.
My work calendar has been filled up with meetings, webinars, and out-of-town conferences for the last few months.
I knew this year would be an adjustment period, but to be honest...it's been pretty overwhelming.
We've had some situations come up in my department that are uncharted territory for our district. We've had students transfer in and students transfer out. I've been working with and learning from several outside agencies.
I've been reading several books about leadership and project management and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
Through my reading (and YouTube & blog exploration), I've come up with three goals for myself to really focus on from now until the end of this school year.
There are a million things biding for my time every single day.
I have some choices about what I allow to take my energy every time something new comes across my desk, across my phone or email inbox, or in front of my door.
I have choices about when to say "yes" and when to say "no"...and I can assure you that when it comes to my family, the answer should always be "yes".
I need to be intentional with my time, with my commitments, and with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
Some days, this might look like closing my office door and pushing through the items that haven't gotten enough attention that week.
Some days, it might look like closing whatever I'm working on at school and heading home right after school.
Some days, it might look like laundry, dishes, and sweeping the kitchen floor.
Being intentional is so important.
I have always been a "just in case" person.
I'd better keep that piece of paper "just in case" we ever need it again (even though I could print if off the internet any time I want).
I'd better save those toys and clothes in a tub in the basement "just in case" (even though I trashed boxes that hadn't been cracked open in over eleven years when we moved last summer).
I've realized through the years, however, that I have hardly ever needed those "just in case" items!
Thanks to the KonMari method, I pared down quite a few of our belongings right before we moved to the farmhouse.
I tried to be very intentional in my decorating and purchases made when we moved in.
I've tried to transfer a lot of my "paper clutter" from paper to digital copies.
My complicated systems are now simple and intentional daily reminders...a checklist that I move through during my free time at home and school.
Less is more.
A simple and manageable system is so much more effective than an over-complicated and unattainable plan.
One Day at a Time.
At the end of the day, we can't be all things to all people.
We WILL NOT mark every single item off of the "to do" list and even if we did, there would be more tasks tomorrow.
We have to be intentional with how we spend our time each and every day.
I wake up in the morning and do my Bible study, have some prayer time, and then I crack open my calendar app.
I look at my list of the things that must get done that day on my Trello board and I schedule them into my little pockets of open time on my Google Calendar that used to be wasted.
As I work through the day, I mark items off my list as I complete them and I move the tasks down through the day if something comes up that is a higher priority item.
If I don't finish the tasks for the day, I have learned to forgive myself and move them to the following day.
We can only do what we can do.
We can do our very best...
give our best effort...
try to strive for perfection...
and still we will fall short.
We will never be "caught up"...but do you know what we can be?
We can be present.
We can wake up every morning renewed and full of purpose, ready to try again.
We can be intentional and we can strive for the beauty of simplicity...one day at a time.
Have a great week, friends.
Love from the farmhouse,
I got here after 10:00 p.m. Monday night.
I got checked in and headed up to my room.
I unpacked for the week and snuggled into my warm, comfy hotel bed to call Mr. Farmhouse and let him know that I arrived safely.
I'm spending my week in a hotel as I attend a conference that will teach me all about the responsibilities that come with my new job.
Tuesday, I was up early and ready to take on the day. After a day full of meetings, I made it back to my room about 4:00 and worked hard on finishing some items on my school to-do list. I met some friends at 6:00 for supper and came back to the room to do some reading, call and visit with the girls, and hit the sack.
This morning, I opened the hotel dresser drawer to get my clothes out and that's when it hit me...hotel life is amazing.
When I was packing to come over here Monday, I packed only what I would need.
I was intentional about what I put into the bag, as I knew I wouldn't want to carry anything extra with me.
I have one outfit for each day, my school bag, my electronics chargers, and the two books I am reading.
And so, as I was getting ready this morning and packing up my bag to take downstairs to the conference, I thought to myself...wouldn't it be wonderful to live like this every day?
Why can't we be intentional with what we have in our home?
Why can't we only keep what we need?
You may recall our KonMari journey that I blogged about when we were still living in the old house.
It was a journey where we looked at all of our belongings and asked ourselves, "Does this spark joy?" If the answer was no...out it went.
Since then, we've moved and we've accumulated more belongings.
I think it's time to go on that journey again.
I would love to walk into the house every single evening and think to myself, "Living the hotel life is really grand."
Happy Wednesday from the 9th floor, friends.
Make it a good one.
This has been a year of transition.
As you might remember, I have officially left the classroom and am now serving as our school district's Director of Special Services.
This new position comes with some new responsibilities and of course much excitement!
Since working on some of my new duties and trying to be very prepared to go into the new school year, I have realized that if I'm going to continue to be the best wife, mom, Christian, and educator that I can be, there will need to be some more changes taking place over the next year.
And so...here is my second big announcement for 2018.
Besides leaving my classroom, I'm also going to put the camera down in the near future.
I have been able to be a part of so many new marriages and family events.
I have spent time with people at the very beginning of their lives and with family members nearing the end of life.
I have captured photos for friends and family members who are preparing for deployment or getting ready to announce a pregnancy.
It has been such an honor for me to be included in these experiences.
But now...it's time to slow down a bit on the home-front as I learn my new position at school.
Of course, I still have some sessions and weddings scheduled for this fall and I still have some friends out there with gift cards waiting to be used, so the camera won't be put away for good...but I won't be scheduling anymore full sessions at this time.
I will still have a fall mini-session to kind of close out the year and I might still do some sports' photos or other mini-sessions here and there, but I need to take a step back and focus on the family, the farmhouse, and my new responsibilities.
I am beyond thankful to all of those clients who have chosen me to capture their memories through the years.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Feeling bittersweet at the farmhouse,