We have twelve more weeks of 2021.
We're over 3/4 the way through this year.
Let me be really frank with you tonight, readers: 2020 was ROUGH, but for me...2021 hasn't been much easier.
As a public school administrator, the pandemic has been difficult to navigate.
Virtual or in-person?
Masks or no masks?
Visitors in the school or no visitors allowed?
So. Many. Decisions.
Some students stayed home for several months and came back in the building with wider learning gaps that they had left us with.
Some students came back to school with anxiety that they had not had before.
Some students have quarantined two, three, or four times (or six -- like our oldest daughter).
This summer, it almost felt like things were getting "back to normal" and I think I breathed a sigh of relief a little prematurely.
The other school district leaders and myself started talking about the school year as if we were going to open normally. We had hopes that things would go on like they have always gone on.
And then...the virus ramped up again in early-August and we were back in the boat we were in over the last 18 months.
Here's the truth:
I have felt like I was treading water since school started on August 23rd.
I have not been able to keep up with anything at home and due to some changes in my responsibilities at work, I'm barely able to keep my head above water there. My office has been a mess. My paperwork is getting done just a day or two before the deadline (I really prefer to be EARLY). I'm not able to give myself to my staff like I like to.
I've been on the struggle bus, folks!
And unfortunately, when one area of our lives is chaotic, it throws the rest of our lives off-balance.
What other areas?
Home organization (don't even get me started on LAUNDRY),
Staying physically healthy,
Sticking to a budget,
Focusing on spiritual growth,
Being a good wife,
Being a good mom.
All. The. Things.
ANYway -- so this weekend, I decided to sit down and make a plan for our next twelve weeks.
I thought it was crazy and neurotic and a little over-the-top, but then I shared it with a few people who actually thought it was kind of helpful.
For those of you that are a little more like me -- grab the document and let's try to get our homes under control over the last quarter of 2021.
Now remember -- tomorrow actually starts WEEK 2, but you should be able to catch up by squeezing Week 1 and Week 2's content into this coming week.
High hopes for a peaceful holiday season from the farmhouse,
Secondly, we have dirty clothes strewn throughout the house. It's like the children get dressed in every corner of the house. And of course, Mr. Farmhouse sometimes drops his dirty clothes DIRECTLY beside the hamper.
And finally...we haven't built a laundry habit that includes at least one load a day.
As part of the 12-week challenge, I chose my January daily habit to be one load of laundry a day...from start to finish.
Through the washer, through the dryer, folded, AND put away.
Last fall, I started to make my bed every single morning. Even if I got nothing else accomplished during the time I had before leaving for work, I still made my bed.
And now...I don't even have to think about it.
Since starting the "one load a day" laundry habit, although I can't say I'm to the point where I'm doing laundry automatically, I can definitely notice a huge difference.
In fact, I only have one load that could even be done right now because we're all caught up on the rest of our clothes.
Some of you might have read my post about zone work this week and thought to yourself, "What? She only dusts once every eight weeks?"
The short answer is "Yep, true story!"
But the long answer is that each week, I try really hard to do a weekly home blessing.
Since we have been picking up (almost) every evening for 15 minutes, the floor and flat surfaces are staying fairly clear (except for the dining room table today...don't look at that until we have time to clear it off tonight!!!).
I read (in the FlyLady's book) about the concept of a Weekly Home Blessing...taking about an hour a week and doing a "clean sweep" through the main rooms of the house.
During the Weekly Home Blessing, you set your timer for 10 minutes and complete one task in each section.
The whole point of the Weekly Home Blessing is not perfection...it's just keeping a basic handle on some of the things we tend to put off.
Plan to find an hour between now and next week to do a Weekly Home Blessing...you won't regret it!
Blessing the Farmhouse ten minutes at a time,
These daily routines are so important to help keep the house manageable.
And when I started following the FlyLady 10-15 years ago, I learned how important cleaning zones in our homes can be too for those "deep-cleaning" tasks.
The basic concept is for you to divide your home into various zones.
I used to try and make sure I was getting through every single zone every single month.
However, starting this next week, I think I'll put my house on an eight-week zone rotation.
Today, and for the rest of this week, I'll be focusing on deep-cleaning the front porch, the living room, and our deck.
I make a list of tasks to get these three areas "all spiffied up" and I work on that list for 15-30 minutes a day (depending on each night's activities).
So...your task for today is to divide your home into zones.
You can decide how many.
You can decide what types of tasks to put on your zone lists.
The important part is to start to develop some habits for deep-cleaning a little at a time, instead of just constantly being stuck in the cycle of having a BIG cleaning day every few weeks.
Working my zones at the farmhouse this morning!
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.
Does anyone else find it difficult to just stop?
Sometimes it's nice to just sit and do nothing.
But if I'm being honest, it's easier said than done.
My first inclination isn't to come straight home after school and sit down with Mr. Farmhouse and talk about our day.
It isn't to grab my book and head to the porch to read.
It isn't to snuggle up on the couch with one of the girls and watch a movie.
Sadly, my first inclination is usually to mentally run through my "to do" list and decide what all I could accomplish in one evening.
It's to throw in a load of laundry or put dishes away or pick up the floor.
It's to sit at my computer and do lesson plans or enter grades in the grade book.
But what if my first inclination is wrong?
I've been very convicted lately, by a few books I have read, some blog posts I've seen shared, and some Christian mentors sharing with me.
I've been convicted about my priorities.
I don't want my babies to feel like I put my school work or photography business above them.
I don't want Mr. Farmhouse to think that having clean laundry or an empty sink is of more value than the time I could spend with him.
I don't want my family to go through life wondering why I put so many other tasks in front of the task of just being with them.
Now friends...let me just tell you.
This shift in thinking.
This change in words and actions.
It has taken some time.
And I have a long way to go.
But for tonight, I made supper, did about 20 minutes of lesson planning, and sat down in the living room with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls to watch Zootopia for the 587th time.
It. Was. Perfect.
Sometimes it's nice to just stop. ❤️🏡❤️
Something really big happened on Friday.
You might remember that we have owned the old house and the farmhouse for the last month.
We went ahead and purchased the farmhouse so our sellers could move along with their lives and were still waiting on our sale to go through.
We knew it was happening, just didn't know when.
And then...last Monday, we got a phone call.
It was happening.
It was time to sign papers and officially sell our house!
This process that started last spring was finally coming to a close.
It was a long-awaited phone call.
A huge relief.
A blessing to finally get rid of the feeling that we were holding our breaths until everything came to a close.
We signed Friday after school to finalize the sale.
Earlier that day, on Friday morning, sweet Dylan & Bailey went and signed the papers (how stinking cute are they???) to start making the house we had loved for so long into their own home.
It's a joy to see these "kids" who share so much of our story jumping in and making our old house their home.
We are excited for them to finally be through this process, even if they are having to keep Harlee's LeBron James cutout on the wall for a few more weeks until we can get her wall built and move him to his forever home!
Thanks for sticking with us through this process, faithful readers!
Can't wait to share the future of the farmhouse as we start to transform the upstairs with a few extra walls and a bathroom!
Coming soon! ❤️🏡❤️
Yesterday, my bestie and I went out to do some shopping for our classrooms.
She teachers fourth.
I teach third.
We both are heading back to school soon and decided to hit the teacher sale at Mardel.
I believe that I'm heading into the school year that has snuck up on me faster than any year before.
This summer, through the home selling and buying process and the moving situation, we just haven't felt very "settled" in the farmhouse until the last few weeks.
And now that we FINALLY feel like this is home, BOOM...it's time to go back to school.
I meandered around and found some great items for the farmhouse.
My three favorite purchases were a clearance "you & me" sign for the master bedroom, a sign that says "Be Kind...it's that easy.", and a sign for my classroom that said "It's a good day to have a good day."
I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we struggle to find the positive side of life.
I see it every day on social media.
There are some people on my Facebook Newsfeed who seem to struggle to find anything good to say about their day...every single day.
My heart is filled with sadness for these people, as they can't find any good in their circumstances.
I also see the opposite side of the spectrum on my Facebook and Instagram feed.
People who are struggling through really big life hurdles...chronic illness, a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a close family member. And yet, their words are encouraging and inspiring and uplifting.
I want my students to know when they walk into our classroom that EVERY day is a good day to have a good day.
Yes, we will have struggles.
A house sale or purchase doesn't go as planned.
The air conditioning goes out in your Yukon.
The car you purchased to save you money is having transmission problems.
Your three-year-old has decided that she doesn't like sleep anymore.
(These are all hypothetical situations, of course.)
But even when life seems to hit, we have a choice in how we deal with it all.
We can smile and persevere.
Or we can frown and complain.
We can show kindness to family, friends, and strangers.
Or we can be cranky and negative.
Let's just try over the next few weeks, no matter what road we are walking on right now in our personal lives...to have a good day.
To find the good in the world.
To BE the good in the world.
Happy Weekend, friends.
Make it a good one. ❤️🏡❤️
There's a Hobby Lobby right beside Mardel, so of course we had to run in there to see what we could find.
I can't believe I found more items to buy, but this great "Gather Together" sign was in the new fall line.
The "Fresh Eggs" sign and the beef cuts plate were in the new farmhouse line and fit perfectly in our kitchen, as we eat our own farm fresh eggs and butcher our own beef.
The farmhouse rug looks great in front of our kitchen sink...even though I didn't think about how dirty a white rug would get on the farm.
I also got a new-to-me window that my mom purchased for our dining room. I had another window on the piano that I decided would fit better in our bedroom, so I needed to fill the spot. Mom delivered, as usual!
Growing up, I collected keychains.
I would grab a keychain on any family trip we took or even something that seemed interesting to me on a shopping trip.
Family members even started buying me keychains and bringing them home for me when they traveled.
For several years, I looked through the keychains and remembered some fun times with family.
And then one day, I stopped.
They just weren't that enjoyable anymore and they ended up in a big metal coffee can, where they lived until I eventually threw them all away when we moved to the home my parents live in now.
At that point in life, the keychain collection just didn't MEAN anything to me.
In the end of my high school years, Willow Tree angels were just coming out and I loved them.
Do you know the ones I'm talking about?
Beautiful, creamy-colored angels that were were replicas of Susan Lordi's hand-carved angels.
My parents started getting me an angel for big life events...my 16th birthday, high school graduation, holidays.
And I loved them.
Each angel represented a time in life that was important and special to me.
At first, I housed these angels altogether on top of my piano.
Until there were too many.
Then I split them up and put half on the piano and half in my Great-Great-Grandma Hannah's antique secretary that sits in our home.
They were fine there, but I just felt like nobody ever really saw them.
It felt like they were kind of thrown out there much like the keychain collection of yesteryear.
Like when people looked at my house, at my angels, it was hard to appreciate each angel for what it was...a representation of a very specific moment in life.
I had an angel from the day I became a teacher...the day I lost my grandpa...the day we found out we were expecting a baby.
I had an angel that represented my relationship with my parents, Mr. Farmhouse, and each of the girls.
These were reminders of monumental occasions and my most cherished relationships...and they were collecting dust instead, seemingly unloved and unappreciated.
Until I began to decorate using what I call "groupings".
I'm still waiting on five pictures from the photo lab for this grouping. Can you tell where they will go?
The two metal prints on the left and the larger framed print on the right are John Deere pictures.
John Deere runs deep into both sides of our family history.
Mr. Farmhouse and I have both lost our grandpas in the last eight years and they were both John Deere men.
I have a picture of each of them with their tractors getting printed to be hung on this wall, as well as pictures of the girls in their Key overalls.
(Sidenote: Having the DVDs on display like that just about makes me crazy. Still trying to find a way to hide them that won't cost a fortune.)
(top left, represents the stages of our life - marriage, pregnancy, baby, toddler, big girl)
(top right, in my office - my praying & praising angels, my "create" sign)
(bottom left, education - the two books on the left were Matthew's great-grandparents', my reading and teaching angels, and a primitive framed alphabet from my in-laws when I became a teacher)
(bottom right, give thanks...Matthew & I with the girls, displayed in the gathering room)
I love having all of my favorite things on display in the farmhouse.
All of our reminders of our favorite memories, our favorite people, and those big moments in life that have molded us into who we are now.
Decorating with groupings has helped to make this happen. ❤️🏡❤️
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. ❤️🏡❤️