I can be going through life just fine and in one quick moment, the memories flood my mind.
It can be a pile of muskmelon or cantaloupe.
Having to pull over on the highway to let a John Deere tractor through.
Or seeing an old man in Key overalls.
Today would have been my Grandpa's 90th birthday.
We lost him in March of 2010.
In some ways, it seems like forever ago.
And in some ways, it seems like yesterday.
When Gerold came along, we played many-a-tennis-ball-baseball game in the back yard.
We took tractor rides during planting and combine rides during harvest.
We went upstairs to get board games out of the small corner storage room and spent many evenings watching MASH from cots on the living room when we spent the night.
We fished with Grandpa and my cousin Brad and when the cousins came from Tennessee, we had picnics in the back of Grandpa's S-10 out in the driveway.
I can still feel his tshirts that I used as a nightgown when I stayed the night.
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!
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.
Last week, I wrote about my grandmother's time (for the last sixty years) as the organist for Adrian Christian Church.
This got me to reminiscing.
I have so many memories in the church and one of my favorites is visiting with "the quilting ladies".
For the first 25 years of my life (at least), there was a group of ladies who met every Tuesday to quilt in the basement of our old church that used to sit smack-dab in the middle of town.
Before I was in school and in the summertime after I started school, I can remember going to the church with our grandmother and great-grandmother on quilting day.
I can still hear the chatter of the quilting ladies and picture them sitting around working diligently on their masterpieces.
I can picture so many special women who have gone on to see Jesus before us sitting around those quilts.
When I think about these women, I think of patience...
I think of attention to detail...
I think of friendship.
When I think about these women, I can see in my mind some of my most precious spiritual mentors through my young adult life...
I can hear their laughter as they shared stories of the good ol' days...
I can still smell the food they brought to share a meal together each week.
Looking back, I realize how much I learned just watching these ladies work...week-in and week-out.
The quilting days of Adrian Christian Church have come to an end.
But it just takes a second for me to close my eyes and be transported back to that church basement, back to a simpler time...spending time with some of the most wonderful ladies I was ever privileged to meet.
What a sweet, sweet memory.
Hello! Welcome back to the Farmhouse654 Christmas Countdown Challenge!
We are getting ready to start week 3, but before I go there with you, I want to be real with you.
I didn't get my kitchen done this week! I got the mudroom finished and the kitchen was on my zone list for this week, too.
I've been catching up on some photography sessions and editing pictures.
I stayed late at school almost every single day this last week and last night, instead of working on the kitchen...I watched a movie with my 10-year-old, Harlee-girl, and one of her besties.
It is what it is.
This is why the countdown concept works for me.
I have now completed my Week 1 challenge of the Living Room and Entry-way.
I have completed half of my Week 2 challenge of the Kitchen and Mudroom.
And I'm (almost) ready to move on to my Week 3 challenge of the Dining Room and my Office.
Instead of just focusing on those two rooms though, I'll move the Kitchen over on my calendar and get them all knocked out this week!
I don't feel like I'm so overwhelmed by not completing half of the kitchen task to just stop and give up.
Instead, I move the few parts of the kitchen over to this week and work hard to finish all three rooms before Week 4.
This week, outside of our Zone work, we are focusing on our vision for the holidays.
I really feel like it's important to set a goal and make a plan to get there.
Set a goal and make a plan.
I use this phrase in my classroom.
I use it in my budgeting.
I use it when talking to my girls about all areas of life.
So today, we're setting a goal for our holiday season.
What do we want our holidays to look like? To feel like? To smell like?
What do we want our kids...our friends...our families to remember about this special time of year?
What can we start doing over the next few weeks to make these dreams a reality?
Make sure to print out our Week 3 Planning Pages to help keep you on track!
I'm so grateful that we are on this journey together. I love sharing life with all of you!
Happy November from the Farmhouse!
If you're just catching up with the Farmhouse654 Christmas Countdown, feel free to join the Facebook group HERE and print out the Planning Calendar and Week 1 Checklist HERE.
Christmas Countdown Blog Posts
We've all gone through one, right?
A rough patch?
I remember getting lots of advice in the beginning of our marriage.
"Don't ever go to bed mad..."
"Keep an open line of communication..."
"Put your spouse's needs before yourself..."
"Keep going on dates, even after you have kids..."
"Take time to do the things you love on your own, so you don't lose 'who you are'..."
"Talk about all things money..."
But what about those times where you've been trying to do those things?
When you've had conversation after conversation, trying to feel better about life?
Those times in life where you just feel like you don't even have it in you to fight anymore?
We've been there.
We have had moments in our marriage where we felt like we didn't even know each other.
I pray that we never get to that place again, but I know it's likely that we'll struggle through certain seasons of life.
And even when we aren't in a "rough patch", there's almost always a time that somebody we know is feeling the strain of keeping a relationship alive.
This subject is one that I feel like God has put on my heart lately, so just in case you're going through "a rough patch"...in life in general or specifically in marriage...I thought I would share with you a few of the things I've learned about getting through these times.
1. Serving each other is always a good option.
There are days that I am cranky or Mr. Farmhouse is cranky and I truly don't even want to talk to him.
I just want to slide through the day and do my own thing.
I have found that with one day of no interaction, two days with no interaction becomes easier.
Anybody else ever feel this way?
Like you're two people living in the same house who hardly know each other?
I have found that when we get to this point (during harvest time, for example!), the best thing I can possibly do is to ask myself what I could do to serve Mr. Farmhouse.
What could I do to make his day easier?
Some days, it's as simple as finding him a pair of socks in the morning.
Other times, it's making one of his favorite meals even when I don't feel like it.
It becomes easier and easier to serve each other when you take that first step.
2. Choose to love.
Sometimes Mr. Farmhouse and I don't like each other much.
I get frustrated with him and I'm sure I annoy him.
But even when it's hard to like each other, we have committed to loving each other.
Circumstances can affect our attitude, our words, and even our actions...but we cannot let circumstances affect our choice to love one another.
3. Look back.
In the day-to-day junk of life, I feel like some days it's hard to look back.
It's hard to remember what life was like back when we were dating.
Back when we first got married.
Back when we were eating Hamburger Helper every night and Always Save ice cream for a fancy dessert.
Before the stress of money and parenting and careers took over.
We must look back.
Go back to those things that made you fall in love with your spouse.
Look at pictures. Reminisce. Tell stories of your favorite memories of days past.
We have to look back.
4. Find a healthy couple, a dear friend, or a therapist to walk through this season with.
I do not know what I would do in life without "my people".
There have been many times that I have had good friends who said the hard things to me.
Friends who had to be a voice of reason for me when I was being irrational.
Friends to pray for me.
To pray with me.
To help us fight through the hard days.
And I'd like to think that I have been that person for someone, too.
5. Take it one day at a time.
Marriages, friendships, and any relationships do not become strained in one day.
It can take weeks, months, and sometimes years to rebuild what has fallen apart.
Make a plan to serve each other.
To love each other.
To recommit to each other.
To do the best you can every day.
To be the best you can every day.
To put one foot in front of the other and to take it one day at a time.
In another way, this year IS different.
This will be our first holiday season in the farmhouse.
Finding a new place for the holiday decorations.
Hosting dinners since we have more room in this house.
A new way of purchasing gifts for the girls this year for Christmas (more on that later).
I always like to divide up my holiday planning and kind of challenge myself to complete certain aspects of it each week...and I thought it might be fun for my online friends to join me.
If you'd like to join me, just join my Facebook group here.
We'll be starting some weekly & daily challenges on Sunday, October 22nd!
See you there! ❤️🏡❤️
Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial beginning of my very favorite season.
For the last few years, it has become a tradition to put out all my fall decorations on Labor Day.
This year was no different.
Wait, yes it was.
This year was very different.
This year, I spent Labor Day getting the last of the "back to school madness" organized and ready for the bulk of the school year that is upon us.
This year, I was planning to have time to search the garage to find the fall decorations.
And I didn't have time.
So when I went to Dollar General to grab a foil pan for Matthew to put the brisket in that he was making for supper tonight, I spent $10 and bought a few fall items.
I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning house to prepare for the decorating process, but didn't get finished.
Sunday evening, I changed all the Scentsy in my house to fall scents and this morning, I lit my fall candles.
I drank my coffee in the quiet this morning and prepared for a long day of transforming the farmhouse to a peaceful fall sanctuary.
Mr. Farmhouse was off work too, so he started smoking a brisket early this morning and he and my brother got to work bringing some more of our outside belongings from the old house.
By 11:30, I realized that all of the fall decorations might not be coming out today.
I had made a huge dent in the laundry, finished up the dishes, and done a quick run-through of the rest of the downstairs.
I hung some pictures in our bedroom and in the living room that I had been putting off and made some notes about the week coming up.
I worked on some school plans for this week and edited a few photography sessions.
I enjoyed some more coffee about mid-afternoon.
I organized Mattie's room and contemplated hanging some of her wall art, even though we'll be redoing the sheetrock in a month or two.
Decided against it, lol.
Now, I'm drinking coffee again and listening to Matthew & the girls play outside while I grade some papers.
This is the life.
Whether I live in a fully-decorated fall farmhouse or not. ❤️🍂🏡🍁❤️
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! ❤️🏡❤️
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. ❤️🏡❤️