In some ways, it's hard to believe that I haven't written a blog post since October of 2021.
In other ways, it just makes sense.
Last October, when I wrote that blog post, we were just finishing up the first quarter of this last school year. From that point on, it felt like we were meeting ourselves coming and going.
This school year, we had a child in high school, one in junior high, and one in elementary. This made for some interesting schedules and lots of nights where Mr. Farmhouse and I split up to attend the girls' activities, often accepting help from the grandparents and aunts & uncles to get the third daughter where she needed to go.
I know this is something that parents have accomplished for many, many years...but for us, it was the first time that we were really pulled in three different directions, on top of career and farming duties.
If we're being honest -- our home suffered because of this. I don't think we were ever caught up on laundry or dishes and our mud room became a dumping ground for our belongings as we ran in to change clothes quickly and head out to the next event.
As Gretchen Rubin states in her book, Outer Order, Inner Calm, "it's easier to keep up than to catch up..."
And we are to the point where we desperately need to catch up.
However, we WILL NOT spend the whole summer "catching up".
We have three more summers left with our oldest daughter Harlee here at home, so we are going to work hard to create beautiful family memories in the midst of taking back our house.
Already this summer, we've visited the Kansas City Zoo, toured the Hallmark Visitors' Center & Kaleidoscope, attended a Royals game, and we've taken a mini-vacation to Phillipsburg, Missouri (more on THAT trip later...).
We've also already filled a 6-yard dumpster and gathered up over 20 tubs of belongings to sell or donate. We have gotten almost caught up on laundry and have marked off a few tasks off of our "list of things we have procrastinated on throughout the school year".
You might have noticed that I've added a new tab to the blog called "freebies".
I've decided to feature one freebie a week over on my Instagram page.
The printable documents you'll find on the freebie page will range from home management to parenting, from marriage to wall art. I'm just hoping to share some of the tools that I use in my day-to-day life with you all, so be watching for that on Fridays!
Today, I want to showcase a printable I shared a few weeks ago and give a little background as to how it has been helping our family!
We just weren't great at managing all of the ideas and projects we had for our property.
We moved into the farmhouse in summer of 2017 and immediately completed some of our big projects.
We added a bathroom upstairs, tore down an old barn on the property, and made some minor cosmetic changes to the house, in the first few weeks that we owned the house.
And then...it was time for the school year to start.
Every once in a while through the school year, we would find time over a weekend or a break to complete a project or two. However, for every bit of progress we made, we ended up adding three or four new projects to our "to do" list. There was never a time that we felt we had done EVERYthing we needed to do to get the property how we wanted it to be!
Looking back at pictures of what our property looked like back in the 40s, 70s, and even the 90s...I always felt a little ashamed that we could not figure out how to get the whole place the way we wanted for it to be.
Over each summer, when the girls and I were off school, we would try hard to knock out some big projects...but like I said before, we would add several NEW tasks to the list, as we worked through other items.
Fast-forward to 2020.
Due to COVID-19, the girls and I had been doing school and working from home for a few months, so we had been able to get some decluttering & organizing projects complete.
However, Mr. Farmhouse was still working, so some of the bigger projects were still on the back burner -- until May, that is.
Because several people around our house had some storm damage, Mr. Farmhouse drove home on his lunch break to check our place. He called me as he was driving up to the property and said, "You'd better come on home."
One of our barns was blown completely over (as you can see in the photos below). By the end of the insurance inspection, we needed a new roof on the house, new guttering, a new barn, a new carport, a new roof on another one of the sheds, a new swing set, a new basketball goal, and some other items that were broken in the storm.
Sidenote: We feel so very blessed to say that nobody was hurt on our property during this storm. We know that buildings and belongings can be replaced and we are grateful that our most challenging part of this project was cleaning up and rebuilding.
The night of the storm, we began cleaning up and continued through the next few weeks, during our free time.
Parts of our barn were found a few miles away.
The girls' playhouse was in pieces all up and down our road. In fact, we found one of the chairs that was inside the playhouse up IN a tree.
Storms are crazy.
We made steady progress cleaning up from the storm, but honestly -- we were not moving as quickly as I would have hoped and of course, the rebuilding tasks were in addition to the "house projects" list we had started in 2017.
And then came the dreaded q-word -- quarantine.
We were exposed to COVID-19 and had to stay home for fourteen full days...all of us.
It was in the heat of July and we decided to use our time together in a productive way. We started knocking out unfinished projects left and right.
We built a loft playhouse for the girls.
We cleaned out the old barn.
We did all of the dirt work for the new garage we were getting ready to build.
And now...eight months later, we are still making progress.
So how did we do it? And could our method work for YOUR family? I think so.
On the very first day of quarantine, we sat down together and made a list of every single project that we needed to accomplish at the farmhouse -- big and small.
Then we chose what projects we thought we could get finished on Day 1.
We worked through the day and enjoyed our evenings together -- with bonfires, movie nights, and softball games in the yard.
We repeated this process for the fourteen days of quarantine and at the end of the two weeks, it was crazy what we had accomplished.
After we completed so many projects in fourteen days, it really inspired us to continue this journey even when we went back to work.
This is when the four-week plan was born.
Instead of meeting every morning to plan our days out, we started adding this conversation into our Sunday night family meetings. At the beginning of each month, we would use our "four-week plan" worksheet to fill in some goals for the next four weeks. Then we would try to accomplish these items during our free time.
The next Sunday night, we would revisit and revise our list for the upcoming week.
This process served us well over the last six months and we've continued to mark larger tasks off of our lists.
A few months ago, right after Christmas, Mr. Farmhouse and I decided that we should probably refinance the house soon. We talked to our lender and decided that we would try to prepare for an appraisal over my spring break in mid-March.
This decision meant that we wanted to kick our four-week plan concept into high gear over the next few months.
We filled out a four-week plan sheet with every space in the house that we wanted to focus on and then we listed all the tasks we needed to complete in those spaces on a "detailed plans" page. You can find an editable version of this form on my Freebies page or HERE.
If you are like us -- naturally DISorganized and in need of a checklist to work through projects, grab this free printable and start your four-week plan this weekend!
Working hard at the farmhouse,
Especially in the winter.
And this winter has been a rough one.
From sub-zero temperatures to snow & ice, keeping animals fed and alive has NOT been easy.
To be honest, we have lost a few calves this winter...
We have spent money trying to keep other calves alive...
We even had our bottle calf "Patty" spend four days and three nights in the farmhouse basement (with the two older girls).
And yet...all over the Midwest, farmers have been out in this junk all day.
Mr. Farmhouse will work until 4:30 and then get in the truck and go feed cows and make sure they're all safe and sound before coming home at dark.
Ice will be need to be chopped.
Hay bales will need to be unwound.
New babies might need to be taken inside and warmed up.
Some farm days are enjoyable.
Some farm days are miserable.
All farm days are hard work.
Saying a prayer from the farmhouse for those out working in this weather and thinking about our farmers,
I've been working hard to downsize since we moved into the farmhouse over a year ago.
I knew that since we were purchasing a larger house, it would be tempting to fill it up.
And I will admit...we have filled it up.
Mr. Farmhouse was able to head straight to the basement and grab the storage containers we needed.
We put up the tree, hung up some other decorative items, and smiled at school projects from the past years.
We made hot chocolate and listened to Christmas music and emptied every tub.
I'm not sure we've ever enjoyed the decorating process as much as we did this year.
What a welcome change to be able to relax and enjoy the tree-decorating experience with the girls this year because we have taken the last year to simplify.
It’s been a year since we left our home of eleven years and moved to the farmhouse.
What seemed like such a long and stressful process to get the old house sold and the new house purchased is just a distant memory now.
We have done a lot to the farmhouse over the last year, including our biggest project of adding a second bathroom upstairs and our most recent addition...the screen door I’ve been dreaming about my whole life.
In some ways, we miss the house on the hill...living on blacktop, having a shop, and having the fence complete so we can have our cows on the property with us.
However, our new shop plans for the farmhouse property are in the works and the fencing supplies have been purchased, so the cows will be back home sooner than later.
I suppose the gravel road is just a trade-off for the four bedrooms and basement we acquired when we purchased the farmhouse.
We have been blessed beyond measure over this last year and look forward to many more years making memories with our girls at the farmhouse.
Just last weekend, we celebrated our first small town Independence Day with family friends at our home.
We grilled out, the kids did the slip & slide, and we watched our town’s fireworks from the farmhouse backyard.
We’re so thankful for the men and women who have sacrificed for us to have freedom in this country.
We’re so thankful to see God’s hand working in all and through all and for the freedom found through Jesus.
Happy 4th of July from the Farmhouse, friends.
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!
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.
January 9th marked our six-month anniversary of our "first night sleeping at the farmhouse".
In some ways, it feels like that was ages ago...and in some ways, it feels like yesterday.
Over the snow days (and ice day and really cold wind-chill day) that we had off of school last week, I really reminisced about our time here at the farmhouse so far.
I started looking through some of my old blog posts and Instagram photos.
One of my most favorite memories for the rest of my life will be from 9:00 at night on the first Saturday night that we slept here.
Our minister and his wife came out and prayed over the farmhouse. You can read about it in my blog post from that day...Bless this Mess.
Since that warm July night,
we have enjoyed family movie nights cuddled in the living room,
mornings on the front porch reading our books,
pick-up games of basketball out to the north of the house,
friends over to BBQ,
softball practice out in the yard,
and for Thanksgiving we hosted our first TWO family dinners out here.
We experienced our first farmhouse Christmas with the girls.
We have painted and decorated,
Added an upstairs bathroom,
Tore down a barn,
Added a chicken coop,
It has been quite the journey and I know we are nowhere near "finished".
Mr. Farmhouse has been working tirelessly in all of his spare time to get the girls a second bathroom.
We paid a buddy of ours to do the rough-in work and plumbing (thanks, Brent!), but Mr. Farmhouse decided he could finish the rest out himself.
With lots of help from our dads, we have finished the sheetrock, cement board for the tile, and wiring.
Next up is paint,
then putting in the vanity & sink,
finishing the accent wall with barn wood & metal from the barn that is lying beside our house,
the tile work,
and installing the toilet & plumbing fixtures.
That was the last date that I wrote a blog post.
I was going through life, keeping up with this fun Farmhouse journal and then BOOM..off-track.
Survival-mode at home, at school, at Newkirk Photography.
I had things I wanted to share.
Inspiration I wanted to give.
Encouragement I wanted to pass along.
And instead...I just stopped.
However, a lot has happened since November 12th.
Deer season (I got two!).
Our first Thanksgiving family dinners at the farmhouse (can't wait to share about that someday!).
And we've almost made it halfway through the school year...WHAT!?!
So anyway...I'm back.
I'm feeling refreshed and looking forward to sharing some Farmhouse654 updates with you sooner than later.
Happy Friday Eve, friends.