With every marriage comes the joining of two families.
I grew up with one brother.
He's two years younger than me.
He's one of my best friends, to this day. Even though there are days that I could punch him in the face.
This is real life, people. It is what it is.
When Matthew and I got married, I gained four brothers-in-laws and a sister-in-law, Ashley. Ashley was the sister I never had. My Snugglebunny.
On December 30th, 2006, Matthew and I delivered our first baby girl.
My brother Gerold showed up to the hospital that night with Matthew's sister, Ashley.
Ten months later...they were married.
Yep. My brother married Mr. Farmhouse's sister.
Since then, we have added several sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews to our family.
In fact, Gerold and I now have a sister, Tiffany, who my parents have adopted!
And guess what?
She is married to one of Matthew's other brothers.
Last summer, my parents took all 15 of us to Florida for the vacation of a lifetime.
Even just our immediate family includes adoptions and what the world calls "step" or "half" relationships.
But you know what?
We just call it "family".
"Family" is a heart word...not a legal word.
I just don't know what we would do without our siblings and their kids.
We are blessed. ❤️🏡❤️
You might remember the first night we slept in the farmhouse, we unrolled and unveiled our mattress-in-a-box that we purchased on Amazon.
We also purchased a foundation on Amazon...spending just $417 total for the whole set.
As of last night, we have slept on the bed for a full two weeks, not counting the nights we spent at the lake.
I think we have had it long enough to say with confidence that we could not be more happy.
On our old mattress (that was 34 years old, mind you), we both had back problems. We hurt often and didn't always wake up feeling refreshed.
The first few nights of sleeping on a 12-inch memory foam mattress, I wasn't too sure.
It was quite a bit firmer than I expected and I woke up feeling a little sore on the first two mornings.
However, I also slept all night on both of those nights.
That hardly ever happened with our old mattress.
This week at the lake, I was up every single night for hours...tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep.
We came home last night and Ilanded in bed not feeling well fairly early.
I have to tell you...I slept all night (minus the 10 minutes at 3:30 a.m. that Mattie woke up and needed me to help her find her blankie).
I still don't feel great this morning, but this mattress provided the restful night I needed.
So as an update to the mattress-in-a-box post a few weeks ago.
We highly recommend it. ❤️?❤️
This morning was the day our rest & relaxation would be coming to an end.
We would enjoy our last few hours of vacation, pack our belongings, and leave the lake house to come back to reality.
I pictured us arriving home about lunchtime, unpacking, doing laundry, and spending the rest of the day outside with each other.
I woke up about 3:00 this morning feeling dizzy, however. Feverish. Miserable.
I tried to sleep it off, but as the rest of my family woke up and began making their way to the breakfast table and then down to the dock to fish, I couldn't make myself get out of bed.
In fact, I stayed there until noon...willing myself to feel normal and be able to get out of bed.
It never happened.
Finally, around 12:15, I got up and got dressed.
By this point, Mr. Farmhouse and the girls had packed the truck and were ready to head out.
They had some lunch and we loaded up.
Since being home, I haven't done one thing that I had planned for myself to accomplish.
I have been sitting or lying flat for the last seven hours.
With the stress of the closing date being switched so many times, the school year starting up in the next two weeks, and trying to get settled into the farmhouse...I kind of think my body is just tired.
I guess I was to the point in life where I needed to choose to slow down for a little while or my body would force me to.
I'm already in bed.
Praying to wake up in the morning feeling like myself.
Trying to remember that stressing about anything in life isn't helpful.
Hoping that in a few weeks, I will look back at this summer and wonder why I got so worked up over the whole house situation.
Until then, good night friends. Sleep tight. ❤️🏡❤️
June 5, 2004.
Many people have asked me or made guesses about where the "654" on Farmhouse654 came from.
It's not our house number.
It's not our street number.
It's not the number of dollars we have spent on the farmhouse, so far...I wish it was only $654!
It's our wedding anniversary.
Mr. Farmhouse and I went on our first date in September of 2000, to the Homecoming bonfire.
As a junior cheerleader, I needed a football jersey to wear and as a freshman football player, he had one.
From that point on, we were pretty much inseparable.
I married my high school sweetheart two short weeks after his high school graduation.
People thought we were crazy.
Settling for each other before really "seeing the world".
But while people thought we were crazy...we KNEW we were crazy.
Crazy for each other.
Committed to each other.
Excited to grow up together and grow old together.
We got married on June 5th, 2004.
And we just celebrated our 13th anniversary.
654 is the day our married life begun.
We've had ups and downs.
Good days and bad days.
New jobs, new homes, and three beautiful daughters added to the family.
654 was the start of everything we know and love.
And that's what I think of every time I write for Farmhouse654.
I know, I know.
I'm not in control. God is.
I can't change things by worrying about them.
God's plan is better than the one I have planned for myself.
Let go and let God.
I get it.
I say these things to other people.
I say these things to myself.
I use these phrases in my daily prayer time.
But sometimes, when things don't go the way I planned, I forget.
I forget that although things don't always work out the way I had planned, they do work out the way God has foreseen from the beginning.
I forget that when I spend my time fretting on the inside, my family gets the raw end of the deal on the outside.
Because I'm kind of cranky.
Kind of unsettled.
Kind of irritable.
Deep down, that Polly-Hannah that I wrote about a few days ago is still there.
Polly-Hannah knows that God's got this.
She knows that He can keep the world on its axis spinning at just the right speed.
She knows that He already has divine appointments lined up to make specific things work exactly how they need to work out for His glory.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't days that I'm frustrated with the day-to-day moments in life.
When my plan doesn't work out the way I had pictured it all even though I am confident that this is the plan God has for us.
You see, last Friday, we were given the impression that all was good to go with our closing date.
God came through and that one piece of paper that needed to make it to the lender's office made it!
But Tuesday we found out that there was another piece of paper.
And that paper is still sitting on someone's desk at the USDA office, just needed to be sent over to the title company.
So we didn't close yesterday.
And we won't close today.
Hopefully we will close tomorrow.
And even if we don't, I know that we will close eventually.
We will sell our old house.
We will buy the farmhouse.
It will all work out the way God intended it to.
I know this.
But for now, "I like things to work out the way I had pictured in my head-Hannah" is trying to find "Polly-Hannah".
I'm trying to put on that smile and enjoy the journey.
To remember that someday, I will look back at this time in life and say "that was a long eight weeks, but we grew during that time...we learned to trust God and enjoy the little things in life."
For now though, I will just breathe deeply and pray that our closing date comes sooner than later. ❤️🏡❤️
In our school, we use the School-Side Positive Behavior Support model.
We have a behavior matrix with all of the expectations we have for our kiddos in each setting in our building.
The matrix includes positive behaviors that we expect to see.
All behaviors on the matrix fall under the umbrella of our school-wide expectations: be respectful, be responsible, and be safe.
Because our elementary school uses the same language from kindergarten to sixth grade when it comes to behavior, we have a head-start on coming up with classroom expectations.
Beyond the SW-PBS matrix, I also use the five classroom rules found in the Whole Brain Teaching curriculum to help my classroom run smoothly.
I teach these the first day of school and we work hard to practice them several times throughout the first few weeks.
I display them on the walls, we recite them out loud, and we come up with examples and non-examples of each expected behavior.
It takes a lot of time in the first days of school, but it is worth it to have a classroom in which students know what is expected at certain times.
My room often has "controlled chaos" going on, where kids are visiting with each other about their books or working together on a collaborative project. Because of my guidance and practice with the classroom rules at the beginning of the year, they know that "Rule Number 2" doesn't apply during a group project. It all comes back to clear explanations, practice, practice, and more practice.
Whatever you do, define & model your expectations, let them practice, and follow-through with whatever needs to happen should they not follow the expectations appropriately.
They will rise to what you expect. I promise.
5. Think about Parent Communication.
Parent Communication is kind of intimidating for a new teacher...at least it was for me.
The biggest thing that I can suggest is to OVER-communicate.
The parents of your students know them better than anyone else.
They are (usually) your student's biggest advocate and should be your most helpful teammate.
I stress at the beginning of the year to parents that I want us to work together to give their kids the best year possible.
And guess what? It works.
There are sometimes hard conversations that have to take place.
Going to a parent about a difficult situation is much easier when you have been keeping them up-to-date in their students' day-to-day classroom life before making that phone call.
A few things that I like to do to share information with parents are:
6. Think about your Classroom Library.
After all of that, I usually start putting together my classroom library.
I have had it organized in so many different ways through the years.
Last year, I think I figured out the way that works best for my room.
I have large plastic tubs for nonfiction picture books. They are labeled by subject area or by author, depending on what types of text they are.
My fiction picture books are housed on an awesome Hallmark card shelf that I bought for $30 several years ago when a store in our town went out of business (teacher score!).
My chapter books are all on a spinning shelf that I bought at the same sale for $45 (again, score!), except for my series chapter books, which are in tubs labeled by series or author.
I do have the reading level and/or lexile level written in the back of each book. I don't limit students to that number all the time, because I know that students can push themselves to read books higher than their expected reading level. I also know that some kids want to have a "fun read" that is way lower than their reading level. And I am GREAT with that! I want to create good readers who love to read!
So for the most part, I let them choose their own books.
I have leveled the books because some students need some assistance in choosing a book that is reasonable for them. These are good conversation pieces for us during reading conferences. Some students use them as a guide and some don't...I am okay with either.
If a student is reading something that is far too hard for them or far too easy, I will find out during our reading conferences and I can help to get them into a book that is a better "fit".
7. Finally...think about your Classroom Layout.
Last, but not least...I think about my classroom layout.
Like I said at the beginning of my first post about school year prep, I used to do this first.
I would get my room how I thought I wanted it and then when I started to think about curriculum, grading, data, parents, and my classroom library, I would change it all around!
Now I'm trying hard to begin with the end in mind and make my classroom vision a reality by saving this step until last.
There will always be changes and adjustments that take place after we meet our students...and then again after we spend a week with them, and a quarter, and I even make changes over Christmas break!
But at least when I focus on these seven things, I can feel like I've got a pretty good handle on how I want my classroom to run and what I want to accomplish with my new sweet darlings.
Three weeks and counting, teacher friends. Three weeks and counting.
P.S. Turns out we're not closing on the farmhouse today. I know it's all in God's timing, but if you could pray with us that it happens tomorrow, that would be great. ❤️🏡❤️
This will be my 11th year walking into the same school district's doors in August.
And every year, I feel overwhelmed when I step back into my classroom for the first time.
I have had several new teachers ask me what I start with on that first day back in my room.
I decided I would share the process of how I begin my school year, in hopes that it might help some first-year teachers...and maybe even some tips that would help veteran teachers to think about something a little bit differently!
So to get to the point of this post...here are the first three of seven tips to start the school year (for teachers).
Parents...I'll get to a post for you soon!
1. Begin with the end in mind.
I think so many new teachers try to take beginning of the year preparation day-by-day and hope that they end up at the result they are wanting by the time "Meet the Teacher Night" rolls around.
I did this too, in my first few years.
When you are overwhelmed by where and how to start, doing SOMEthing feels better than standing in the middle of your classroom looking around aimlessly at the mess you have created.
The biggest thing that has helped me is to really think about your vision for your classroom before you start unpacking even one box.
I have several thoughts & beliefs that really drive what I do in my classroom every day.
Some of them include:
When I have these written out and in the back of my mind, I know that there are going specific places in my classroom that are very important to help make this vision a reality.
For example, to create readers who love to read, my classroom library will need to be organized and inviting. It will need to have a place where students feel comfortable exploring the texts, reading for fun, and sharing book recommendations with their friends. My students will need to have time built in to our daily schedule to choose books, discuss books, and of course...read!
To create young authors who feel comfortable sharing their stories, I will need to have writing supplies readily available, a way for them to track their story ideas, and a classroom community in which students encourage one another to share their stories and grow as writers.
To meet individualized needs of the whole child, I will need to have my data binder organized and ready BEFORE I meet students. I need to know what I will track, how I will track it, and what I will do with the information I find.
There are so many things that will need to be done before the first day of school, and writing my classroom vision out on paper always helps me to stay focused and to make sure I am staying true to why I became a teacher in the first place.
2. Think about Curriculum.
After I know what I desire for my classroom to look like and to feel like, I always move on to curriculum.
What we are asked to teach in a given school year is really the skeleton of the rest of our classroom life.
I always used to put this step off until my classroom was mostly organized, then I would work on curricular goals the last few days before school started.
Now I realize the huge mistake that was.
Knowing what content needs to be taught in your classroom will help you to organize your space in a way that is conducive to sharing that content.
So, when thinking about curriculum, here is what I do.
Gather all standards for all subject areas. Here in Missouri, we use the Missouri Learning Standards.
Start with one subject area. Math seems to be the easiest for me to start with, because it is very skill-driven.
Go through the standards and begin to divide them up into what I want to teach during the first three quarters of the school year. I want to have all new content taught to my kiddos by the end of third quarter so we can use fourth quarter to review third grade content, prepare for state assessments, and begin to do some fourth grade prep work.
Take each standard that you are covering during first quarter and turn them into specific measurable learning targets.
3. Think about Grading & Data.
Speaking of targets and tracking data, this is something else that I have learned to spend more time on at the beginning of my school year.
Make sure you know what is expected of you, as far as reporting grades to parents, in your district.
To be honest, our online grading system is great for tracking data on standards, but I often feel like there is more I want to share with parents.
Because of this, I also keep a data notebook for my class to track other information.
Some of the items that are included in my data notebook are:
I set this information up at the beginning of the year and have blank copies of each form in the notebook available for students who move into our district.
I will share more about my data notebook forms in a few weeks, as I set up my own data notebook for the new school year.
I hope that as you begin to think about the new school year, you can get just a few ideas from the way I start thinking about my school year. Later this week, I will talk about the last four tips for starting the school year.
4. Think about Classroom Management & Expectations.
5. Think about Parent Communication.
6. Think about your Classroom Library.
7. Finally...think about your Classroom Layout.
I hope your Monday was a good one.
Teachers, I hope that in the few weeks before the school year starts you'll be able to take time to picture the classroom of your dreams and use that vision to think about everything you can do to make that vision a reality.
I can't believe it's already time to be thinking about the new school year.
Time really does fly when you're having fun (or when you're moving...whichever phrase happens to fit in your life!). ❤️🏡❤️
I am the perfect mix between a morning person and a night owl.
It all depends on the day as to whether or not you can find me wide-awake at 2:00 a.m. with thoughts of being productive or sleeping soundly at 9:30 p.m., ready for an early morning.
But regardless of whether or not I go to sleep in early evening or don't fall asleep until midnight, I can almost never sleep past 6:00 a.m. when I'm at home.
On summer mornings, Matthew gets up and around and off to work by 5:45.
I sometimes lie there for a few minutes, trying to nod back off, but usually I wake up and turn the Keurig on right away.
I have found that on the mornings where I am able to get up and spend some quiet time by myself, our days just go smoother.
I am able to spend some time in the peaceful morning reflecting on the day before and preparing for the day to come.
On the deck, I run through our schedule for the day.
I make my mental "to do" list and think about events we have on the calendar.
When I come inside, I get right down to business in the office with my faith planner.
I am trying to be very strategic and intentional in my prayer life and one thing that helps me to stick to this plan is to write out my prayers and read them out loud every morning.
I have a battle prayer for friends in their foster & adoption journey,
for friends struggling in their marriage,
for each of my girls and their faith and witness to others,
for my mom's health,
for someone we know who is dealing with addiction,
and so many more...
God is good.
He cares about these things.
It has been amazing to watch some of our battle prayers really make a difference in the lives of others.
To see prayers answered.
After my battle prayer time, I have some other "War Room" prayers that I read through daily.
These include four elements:
P - Praise
R - Repent
A - Ask
Y - Yielding
After I read through my "War Room" prayers for the day, I try to spend some time growing in God's Word.
I do this in lots of different ways...
maybe a Bible study I'm working through,
a YouTube minister speaking,
going over my sermon notes from the previous Sunday,
a RightNowMedia video,
or just opening up the Bible and reading whatever God lays on my heart.
I take notes in my faith planner and add some thoughts on post-it notes that I might want to illustrate in my Bible when the girls and I get out our Bible Journaling supplies (I'll save THAT discussion for another post!).
The phrase "Rise & Shine" just speaks to me.
When I "rise" and take those first few minutes of my morning and spend them focusing on who I am in Christ, I really do "shine" through the day.
As a wife.
As a mom.
As a teacher.
As a Christian.
My challenge to you is to try it this week and see if rising a little bit earlier than everyone else has the same effect on you.
Happy Monday, friends.
Go out there this week and shine. ☀️
I added the links above this to the faith planner I have, the movie The War Room, the book Fervent, and the "My Faith" inserts from the Reset Girl's shop.
I've got to be honest.
I'm not really one for "rest" and "relaxation".
Any vacation we have ever taken included me taking some "work" along.
Pictures to edit.
Lessons to plan.
Home projects to dream about.
Because when you're away from home...work doesn't feel like work.
We're not exactly sure where we'll go or what we'll do or when we'll leave, but we do know that we'll spend this next week together.
Soaking in some quality family time with our girls who will never be this age again.
Whether it's reading or writing,
swimming or riding go-carts,
watching movies or just sitting and visiting.
Whether we end up at home...
or at the lake...
or at some surprise destination that none of us know about yet.
And did I mention that we're closing on the farmhouse Wednesday afternoon? ❤️?❤️
These are a few of the books I have ready to go for vacation week.
I've started "Interrupted" and "Love Does" and am looking forward to "The Maze Runner" (and maybe the rest of the series, if there is time!)
"I have no idea how you have stayed positive through this whole situation. You are almost six weeks past your closing date with a smile on your face."
Our loan officer texted me to let me know how surprised he is that I have kept a good attitude through the ups and downs of our home sale and purchase.
Of course, he doesn't know about the late-night stressed-out texts to my dear friends, the tears that I've held back more than a few times, and the numerous conversations Mr. Farmhouse and I have had about whether or not we were making the right decision with this whole situation.
However, in the end, I've never really worried that it wasn't going to work out.
I just knew that eventually, the right thing would happen.
I wasn't worried about being homeless. After all, we could always take our three kids and our three dogs and move in with my parents. 😳
No matter what, we would figure something out. We always do.
My friends often refer to me as "Polly-Hannah" because I just don't get worked up about too much.
In fact, the time that I feel the most "worked up" is when one of my friends is going through something difficult that I can't fix for them.
I can usually talk them down, even when I'm really struggling to keep it together myself.
My mom always used to tell us, "Happiness is a choice. Every morning when you wake up, you have a choice to have a good day or a bad day. It's up to you."
And I really think she's right.
It doesn't matter what happens in the day-to-day events of life...we can choose how we react.
We can't control one thing that happens around us, but we can control how we choose to deal with whatever is thrown our way.
This whole house sale and purchase has seemed like one tough situation after another.
Documents not where they needed to be when they needed to be there.
Inspections, inspections, and more inspections.
Appraisals and repairs and...did I mention inspections?
There were hiccups and hurdles and bumps in the road.
We were supposed to close on June 16th and then June 30th and then July 5th...yet here we are.
With a final closing date of July 26th.
However, I have tried to keep a good attitude.
To trust that God is in control.
To know that no matter what...I have a choice in my reaction to our circumstances.
Life isn't always rainbows and butterflies, I know.
There are really, really rough situations.
There are really, really hard days.
But no matter what someone is going through, a positive attitude sure can do a lot for a one's outlook on life.
I choose happiness.
I choose patience.
I choose joy.
I choose Polly-Hannah. ❤️