The "heart of the home".
Often the central location of what's going on in our house, our kitchen can quickly turn into the catch all.
In the old house, we had a peninsula that we had built-in to house the dishwasher we added a few years after we moved in.
Besides meal prep and clean-up messes, you would often find lunch boxes thrown down after school, bills dropped on the counter, and various other items that would find their way to the flat surfaces of the kitchen.
This peninsula quickly became a hot spot for everything that was in our arms when we walked through the door.
It was a huge, flat space and it naturally seemed to attract clutter.
When we bought the farmhouse, I really wanted to try and avoid having a hot spot area like this.
The dining room table definitely has the potential to become this "hot spot", but by keeping seasonal decorations on there, the problem has been fairly minimal. Surprisingly.
And by being intentional with our kitchen counter spaces, we've avoided a lot of that "hot spot clutter".
The yellow cabinet holds a few cookbooks and my Ninja blender that I use most every day.
It also houses the plates and bowls we use most often. I moved them down there so they were more accessible for the girls.
We have onions and potatoes on the bottom shelf (and sitting over to the side if they won't fit inside!)
Bread and veggies go on top!
Sidenote: Glittery hand sanitizing gel in the hands of a toddler WILL take the paint off of the top of a Target clearance cabinet like this one. Or so we've heard.
Originally, the farmhouse kitchen was an eat-in kitchen.
It had a small space for a table where the sink is now and the stove and sink were on the whole other side of the room.
The refrigerator was where the coffee bar is now and there was a little peninsula jutting out into the room where our refrigerator sits.
The kitchen also had a tile floor that had been added right over the beautiful hardwood floors that the previous owner refinished.
One of my favorite things to do early in the morning before the sun comes up is to get my coffee and my Bible and go sit in the living room to talk to Jesus.
I don't turn any lights on in the kitchen, but just enjoy the ambiance of the white lights and all the various items that have been placed on top of the cabinets for a specific reason.
If you look closely, you can see silhouette cut-out of the girls' profiles,
a clay bowl that says "Hemple, Missouri" on it that reminds me of a very special family,
a navy blue spool that I purchased the very first time I went antiquing with my mother-in-law,
a "Welcome to the Farmhouse" sign that my mom bought me the very first week we lived here,
a can that has a poppy on it that I bought on a trip to Oklahoma with my mom & sisters-in-law,
and many other small sentimental items that bring joy to my heart.
I really love Amazon.
We have had a Prime account for several years and use it for everything from coffee to toilet paper, books to home decor, music to movies.
Some day, I will talk to you about the joys of Amazon's "Subscribe & Save" program and my new-found love for Audible.
Some day, I will talk to you about how amazing the Amazon app is and the fact that I have a dream to sell a children's book I wrote on Amazon someday.
Amazon has a host of items that fit my taste...and my budget.
As you've probably seen in some of my other posts, I love signs and wall-hangings to fill the walls of the farmhouse.
Amazon has a nice selection of high-quality signs.
I have tried to be very intentional with the items I bring into the farmhouse, since we moved in last July.
One of the things I try to think about when I purchase items is the functional purpose that they could serve in our home.
These containers are perfect for organizing AND looking adorable.
A nice warm throw is always a good item to have lying over a chair, reading available for snuggling up with a good book. I also love the natural pop of color that this wreath brings.
Seek out items that bring joy to your heart and make your home feel peace and calming to you.
Be responsible in your spending and intentional in what you allow into your home.
And enjoy the process!
Happy Friday from the Farmhouse, friends!
Every single year, I take pictures of the girls and purchase Christmas cards in the beginning of December.
Every single year, I don't send them on time.
Every. Single. Year.
In fact, when we moved out to the farmhouse, I literally kept three prints from the last several years' of cards and threw the rest away. 😫
And in mid-December, I mailed some!
I mailed a whole SIX cards, in fact!
I also handed out some cards at church and even gave some to a few of our family members!
That is a definite improvement from years past.
However, come January 31st, the rest of them were still in a pile in my office...ready to be mailed out.
So I set a goal for myself to mail them by Valentine's Day.
And this morning, I am dropping them off to the post office.
I didn't order as many cards as I did in the past and didn't even get to some of the people on my Christmas card list...so I still wouldn't call it a success.
But it was an adequate effort.
Maybe 2018 will be the year that I get my Christmas card life together.
Merry Valentine's Day from the Farmhouse, friends.
'Tis the Season!
Isn't it grand?
You wait nine months for this little bundle of joy to be put into your arms and then you question every single decision you make for the next 18 years.
There are so many joy-filled moments that come along with raising kids.
And let's be real...some moments that are, eh...not so wonderful.
Toddler fit-throwing in public.
Eye-rolls from the pre-teen.
Sibling arguments one minute and them teaming up against you in the next.
And perhaps the most difficult of parenting challenges...struggles with friends.
I was a young girl once.
I knew that our girls' friendships wouldn't always be beautiful and wonderful and easy.
After all, we are all human.
However, I have been struggling with something that I believe most parents struggle with...
The tendency to make an excuse.
A few years ago, one of our daughters was having a hard time with a girl who she considered to be a good friend.
This classmate had kind of distanced herself from our daughter and hasn't been the kindest at times.
When I mentioned their friendship, I could tell that there was some tension there...a bit of a strained relationship.
I heard of things the friend had said,
faces she had made,
and other behaviors that would be frustrating for a friend.
However, when I would ask our daughter about her own contribution to the situation,
she admitted that she sometimes snapped back at the friend,
avoided her at times,
and probably was not acting in the way that I would expect her to act...
regardless of how she has been treated.
And my tendency, as a human and as a mother, is to make an excuse for her actions.
But it's not okay.
It's not okay for a child to treat her friend unkindly.
It's not okay for a student to talk back to a teacher.
It's not okay for a player to roll her eyes at the referee...no matter how ridiculous she thinks the call was.
When we, as parents, make excuses for our children's poor behavior, we are reinforcing the choices they are making.
We are justifying the disrespect, the lack of kindness, and the inappropriate behaviors.
I fear that we are raising a generation of entitled youth who don't even understand the concept of respect.
Whether it's respecting their elders,
respecting their peers,
or respecting property.
I'm afraid the concept of respect (even when it's undeserved) has gone out the window some days.
And I'm afraid that every time I make an excuse for my child's lack of respect or justify her actions, I'm contributing to the problem.
Friends, we have to stop the cycle.
I'm not talking about respecting adults who are abusive or pretending like there's no issue with peers who are exhibiting bullying behaviors.
But in the majority of our day-to-day interactions with other human beings, we should be showing kindness...
And we should be teaching our children this attitude, as well.
This week, let's really help our kiddos be accountable for their behavior.
Let's try to not make an excuse when they don't make the right choice.
Let's support that teacher...that coach...that referee.
It's up to us. The parents.
It's not up to the iPad.
Not up to the TV.
Not up to their older siblings.
Not up to their teachers (although we teachers try to set the same expectations in our classrooms).
Let's set an expectation for how they treat people.
Let's work hard to raise a generation that we are proud of.
It's up to us...and it's a challenging and rewarding responsibility.
Happy Tuesday from the Farmhouse, friends.
May the force be with you.
I am typing this from the airport in Tampa, Florida.
Due to my new position for the 2018-2019 school year, as the Director of Special Services in my district, I was asked to attend the Council for Exceptional Children's national convention in Tampa this week.
Making the decision to accept the invitation was a big ordeal.
There were many factors to be considered:
- leaving Mr. Farmhouse and the girls for four days
- putting my classroom in the hands of a substitute for three days (for the umpteenth time this school year)
- missing the girls' school picture day, Valentine's parties, and basketball games
- the cost associated with traveling out of state
With much encouragement from a few colleagues and a long talk with Mr. Farmhouse, I decided to jump in head first and head south for the winter.
Okay...head south for four days.
I dropped the two older girls off at school Wednesday morning, dropped my Mattie-girl off at my parents' house, and headed north to meet a few coworkers who were making the journey with me.
About five minutes from the location I was to pick up my teacher-friends, Kathi & Jolie, my cell phone buzzed with a plane delay notification from my Delta app.
Your flight has been delayed. 12:15 takeoff time, now 1:32.
Okay...so an extra hour and fifteen minutes in the airport won't kill us.
Our connecting flight in Atlanta didn't take off until after 3:00, so we would still be fine.
We sat down at IHOP for a little brunch, just in case we were unable to grab lunch during our layover in Atlanta.
As we were pulling into the airport, we received another notification.
Your flight has been delayed. 1:32 takeoff time, now 2:07.
Okay...so we should still arrive with half-an-hour to spare.
We parked, jumped on the shuttle, and headed to the Delta gate.
As we were standing in line to visit with a Delta employee about our options, just in case the delays kept coming...it happened.
Your flight has been delayed. 2:07 takeoff time, now 2:57.
And with that, our chances at making our connecting flight went out the window...or down the runway.
We found a seat near an outlet to charge our phones and we started receiving texts and calls from the secretarial staff at school, who apparently had been notified off the recent changes to our itinerary.
The bookkeeper got us a new hotel room in Atlanta for the night and cancelled our Tampa accommodations and it was settled. We would stay in Atlanta on Wednesday night and get up super-early to fly to Tampa on Thursday morning.
We made it to Atlanta and headed to Ground Transportation to grab a shuttle to our hotel.
At 7:16 p.m., we finally made it down to the shuttle parking lot.
Our hotel shuttle left at 7:15 and would be back at 7:45. Seriously.
So we sat on a bench to wait.
Eventually, a shuttle driver from another hotel offered to take us to our hotel and we decided it was well-worth the large tip we would give her in exchange for a ride.
We checked in, dropped our belongings off in our rooms, and headed to the restaurant.
After a tasty "soul food, Atlanta, Georgia" supper, we headed to the hotel and went to bed.
Thursday, we were up at 4:00, at the airport by 5:00, and flying into Tampa by 8:45 a.m.
At the recommendation of one of my BFFs from high school, we decided to eat at The Columbia in the Ybor City Historic District of Tampa.
I was so very thankful to be able to meet up with the best man from our wedding and enjoy a meal with him. After an eventful and somewhat exhausting trip, it was amazing to see his familiar face and introduce him to my colleagues.
Friday, we were up bright and early to attend the rest of the conference sessions we were looking forward to!
We learned so much, found many resources, and I am excited to be able to share our newfound knowledge and strategies with our SpEd team when we return!
When the conference ended on Friday, we had time to make a short trip to Clearwater!
We ate at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill on the water and it was ah-ma-zing. The fish tacos were spectacular!
We ended up at a Little Greek Restaurant by the hotel.
I had a gyro and it was also spectacular.
I called Mr. Farmhouse and the girls and we all rejoiced that I would be home in less than 24 hours.
Okay, two of three girls cried...
one made funny faces at herself as we FaceTimed,
and Mr. Farmhouse rejoiced.
So now...our journey begins.
Praying for traveling mercies, an uneventful trip home, and a happy reunion at our nice, warm farmhouse sooner than later.
Much love to you, friends.
When we first announced to the world (okay, our little world) that we were buying the farmhouse, I posted a picture and a friend of ours tagged Stephanie in it.
She said, "This house looks just like the house I grew up in!"
And at that moment...the story began unfolding.
She and I have been corresponding since we made contact that day about everything from the wells on the property to the way you have to put your hip into the interior doors to get them to close just right.
It has been a joy to have conversation with Stephanie about the home we have come to love and call our own and to get to know her sweet mama through our talks!
We have been saying for the last several months that the next time she was in Adrian, she would have to come visit and this weekend we were able to make that happen!
Stephanie, her brother Keith, and Keith's wife Tracy came out to see the farmhouse this afternoon.
They brought the aerial image you see above of the farm in the 1970's.
Our girls have been looking forward to meeting Stephanie ever since I told them about her several months ago.
Today, it happened.
She and Keith walked them through the house and gave them a tour, sharing details of what the house was like in year's past.
Mattie showed them her bedroom and closet (and offered to show them again at least four or five times). The wallpaper that Stephanie picked out as a young girl is still in the closet!
Claire shared the transformation to her girly bedroom from the one that was Keith's bedroom in high school.
Harlee's bedroom wasn't even a room back then...but instead a loft area that overlooked the stairwell. She enjoyed showing off her basketball room and reminding Mr. Farmhouse once again that he still hasn't built her a wall.
What a beautiful snowy day to introduce the girls to the adults who grew up here.
Thanks for coming out, Highley family.
I've been listening to the audio-broadcast of a conference called "Masterful Leadership: Leading Like Jesus" on my Audible App as I drive to and from work each day.
It's been enlightening...encouraging...and challenging.
I've paused the "book" to take notes.
I've pushed the "back" button to listen to a specific segment again more times than I can count.
And I've said "yes", "hmmm...", and "preach" right out loud to myself in my car several times.
I listened to one particular section three different times.
This section was on the concept of the "mood elevator", which was developed by a man named Larry Senn.
Larry Senn is a leader in the field of corporate leadership and has written a book called, Up the Mood Elevator to describe and teach this decision-making concept.
The Mood Elevator is a book that, admittedly, I haven't finished yet.
But when I heard the mood elevator concept in the message from the "Lead Like Jesus" conference, I just had to share it because it was mind-blowing to me!
I mean...what mood is there that would be higher on the elevator than joy???
Joy is "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness".
That seemed like the top option, as far as mood is concerned.
Until the speaker shared with the audience that the top of the mood elevator is being grateful.
Gratitude. Thankfulness. Appreciation.
We make the best decisions when we are grateful.
It made so much sense to me that I spoke out loud and said, "Oh, duh!"
I think it's important here that we talk about how quickly we can take a trip up or down the mood elevator, if we're not careful.
We can hear one negative comment that, if left unchecked, can quickly take us spiraling into an irritated, anxious, insecure state of mind that eventually could lead to anger and depression.
It's so necessary that we keep our thoughts in check every day and focus on gratitude.
During this last sermon series at church, our minister preached a sermon called "Don't Forget to Pray".
In this sermon, he talked about staying alert to things in our lives that we need to take to the Father.
He talked about being devoted daily to prayer.
And he also talked about the importance of being thankful.
I deeply appreciated his admission that there are days where it's very hard to find something to be thankful for.
Sometimes we have to open our eyes and look hard to find opportunities to be thankful.
In every circumstance, we can find gratitude.
This attitude of being grateful in all situations goes hand-in-hand with the time we spend at the top of the mood elevator.
And the more time we spend at the top of the mood elevator, the more peace and contentment we will find in our daily lives.
So today and every day, let's be intentional about finding gratitude.
Let's give thanks in all circumstances.
Let's ride that mood elevator to the top floor and be the best we can be.
Giving thanks from the farmhouse tonight.
2017 was a wonderful year in so many ways.
But if I'm being honest, it was also a hard year.
In 2017, my mom lost both of her parents.
Of course, this would be a difficult situation for anybody...losing both parents in one year.
But it was especially difficult for us.
A strained family relationship can make loss seem so much greater.
Mom wasn't only grieving for the loss of her parents, but for the absence of a normal functioning family.
Grieving the loss of the chance at reconciliation and healing.
Someday I will tell her story in it's entirety.
But not today.
Today, I want to recognize some of the difference-makers in her life.
Mom can remember going to Vacation Bible School at a very young age with her Aunt Peggy's mother, Mrs. McIntire.
Mrs. McIntire always made Mom feel like she was thrilled to have her there. Mom still thinks of her when she smells koolaid...all these years later.
Mrs. McIntire was difference-maker.
When Mom was about five, she remembers starting to go with her grandma to her adult Sunday school group.
They met at each others' houses.
Mom has fond memories of spending time with her grandma's friends...serving punch and cake and just visiting with them.
These women were difference-makers.
Mom went to church every week as a child with her Grandma Hannah (great name, huh?).
When she was in second grade, she remembers wanting a Bible with her name on it for Christmas.
She got this gift and remembers reading it every night, loving every minute.
Grandma Hannah was a difference-maker.
When Mom's family moved to Adrian her seventh grade year, the Johnson family took her to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.
It was during this time that she went on a "Youth for Christ" hayride and committed her life to Christ.
Hal & Fern Johnson were difference-makers.
Throughout Mom's middle school and high school years, her friends' mothers became wonderful mentors to her.
These women helped her get through school.
They taught her about honesty and hard work.
They taught her character traits and Christian principles that continue to serve her well, over thirty years later.
Fern Johnson, Darlene Greenwell, Lila Gunn, Jeanie Brewster, Thelma Six, and countless others were difference-makers.
Mom got married in 1980 to my dear ol' dad.
Dad has supported Mom through many insecurities that came from a difficult past.
Together, they have raised two amazing children, if I do say so myself...ha...just kidding.
Because of the difference-makers in Mom's life, she has an amazing story of grace and generosity and love for others.
She and Dad have adopted another daughter and provided for countless other foster children throughout our lives.
She has a heart for children who have been mistreated.
She has served in the Church for in every way imaginable...for all age groups and many ministries.
She sees a need and meets it.
My mom is a difference-maker.
Despite a painful childhood, filled with neglect and abuse...she is a difference-maker.
Despite anxiety and insecurity that comes from her past...she is a difference-maker.
Despite the odds being seemingly stacked against her...she is a difference-maker.
THAT is the power in kindness and compassion.
THAT is the power in really seeing people.
THAT is the power in serving others.
THAT is the power found in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We CAN make a difference, friends.
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