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. ❤️🏡❤️
"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. ❤️
We had another "first" here at the farmhouse today.
I did my first photography session in the living room.
You might remember that I moved out of my studio in June.
We were planning to be all closed and moved by now, but that didn't exactly happen.
Instead, I am still unpacking boxes (getting closer!) each day and trying to get our lives put back together.
However, I had scheduled this session a while back, fully expecting to be moved in and ready to roll!
So this morning, I went to find my backdrops and equipment where we had stored them in town.
I found them and came home to start setting up.
My plan is to have the closet at the bottom of the stairs be where I store all of my photography equipment in the future.
It will be organized and easily accessible for sessions, yet stored away and hidden for every day living.
But I think it worked.
We had fun.
We got the inside half of a senior session done.
And the first Newkirk Photography session has now been completed in the farmhouse.
Yesterday, Matthew and a buddy of his started to bring the "outside" belongings to the farmhouse.
The outside list would include anything in the detached garage, the 30'x40' shop, the pole barn, and other various areas "around the house".
They started in the detached garage and brought a load that included lots of things Matthew and I had already gone through over the last month or so.
Out-of-season clothes, tools, cleaning supplies, Christmas decorations, and more.
We had already emptied one side of the garage so the buyers could store a few things there and we had organized the other side in preparation to move.
When they went back for the second load, they decided to go ahead and empty the attic in the garage.
Of course, here in Missouri this week, it's been like 900º Fahrenheit.
So they climbed into the hottest part of the property and emptied everything we have been storing up there for the last eleven years.
They brought the trailer over here to the farmhouse and had me go through the pile of attic treasures.
Ten years ago, in 2007, we had a tornado go through and pick up our pole barn, tear tin off of our shop, and throw Santa across the highway.
Even though we haven't plugged Santa in for the last few years, I just cannot let him go.
He still sparks joy for me.
He reminds me of that time when God spared our home and kept us safe during that storm.
He reminds me of my dear ol' dad "rescuing Santa" from his landing spot after the tornado.
That old Santa is a joy-sparker for me.
And for Mattie.
So Santa stays.
And the other 95% of attic "treasures" go into the trash.
Moving really makes you think about what you hold on to through the years.
We have now been on summer break for almost a month.
The whole summer I've been working on the moving process.
Pack a whole trailer full of items into tubs.
Schedule inspections at the farmhouse.
Paint the ceilings of the current house for the appraisal.
Purge & organize.
Measure spaces at the farmhouse.
Order some furniture & order some appliances.
Purge some more & organize some more.
Make some decorative purchases for the farmhouse.
Prepare for a SECOND appraisal on the current house (long story...).
And wait some more.
To be honest, I woke up this morning feeling differently about the whole situation.
I'm trying to be patient, but I'm tired of waiting.
I don't want the kids to remember this summer as the summer we held our breaths for two months, waiting to get settled in at the farmhouse.
Last night, the girls got home from the softball game and played catch in the backyard until it got dark.
Then they ran around and caught lightning bugs.
It was heavenly.
No worries about when the second appraisal will happen...
When the closing date will happen...
When we will actually move to the farmhouse...
Just three little girls catching lightning in a jar while their parents and Gramps tried to coax a baby kitten out from under the feed truck (also a long story...).
So I decided that today, while the kids are off at science camp, I'm going to get this house put back together and ready for an appraisal.
And then, we're going to stop waiting.
We're going to breathe and enjoy and stop stewing over what could be coming around the corner.
We're going to catch lightning bugs and have movie nights and soak up the last few weeks in the home we've known for almost eleven years.
We're going to enjoy the waiting game.
Our mini-vacation to Oklahoma was so much fun. We leisurely drove down on Thursday afternoon. We missed a turn and kept right on going to find a new route instead of turning around.
When we finally made it to Bartlesville, where we were staying, we found a Japanese Steakhouse and enjoyed supper together.
No rushing around.
No numerous bathroom trips with various children.
Just peace and quiet...and my first experience with sushi. Still not so sure about THAT.
We got up Friday morning and enjoyed The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and some boutique shopping in downtown Pawhuska.
I made a few purchases for the farmhouse.
We laughed a lot.
Enjoyed some nice food.
And did some serious walking.
We dropped Mom off to get some work done at the hotel and the three of us girls went to the mall.
By mid-afternoon, we were ready to head back to our room..
We spent some time resting and relaxing, watching television, reading, and visiting.
It was strange not having the seven grandkids running around between the two hotel rooms, visiting with Grams and playing noisily.
It was so quiet. Almost TOO quiet.
That evening, after a quick trip to WalMart, we came back to the hotel to sleep.
"I wonder if they would let us check out a day early." Mom said.
"Maybe. We can always go ask."
So we did.
And they did.
Yesterday morning, we woke up and got around slowly.
We stopped and did a little more shopping (yay, Hobby Lobby!).
Besides the canvas United States map I picked up at the Mercantile, the galvanized metal distressed Farmhouse sign was definitely my other favorite purchase.
You can see how wide it is right now, sitting on my piano music stand just waiting for its new home when we move into the farmhouse. It will be the perfect focal point in the new living room (I think...if that's where it ends up).
I got the other three tin quotes on clearance (along with about 5 others) to round out some various gallery walls I have planned for the house. Acts 2:46 will hang in the dining room, "I choose fabulous" will (of course) be in the Claire Bear's room, and Jeremiah 1:5 will hang in the playroom to remind the girls daily that they are set apart for Kingdom work!
After the "brief" Hobby Lobby stop, we loaded the van up and headed home.
Mr. Farmhouse and the kids didn't know we were coming home early.
The kids were out at the annual antique tractor show in our town and Matthew was putting up hay.
So I leisurely unpacked and soaked up a little more of the peace and quiet before I went to pick up the girls from my in-laws.
Three big hugs from three little girls.
Smiles and dancing from the three-year-old.
"I missed you so much," from the older two.
We probably won't have a chance for another "girls' trip" like this for another year or two, but that's okay.
There definitely is no place like home.
Ten years old.
This one has been a big one for us. It seems like just yesterday we were living in a little two-bedroom house in town and I was revealing to Matthew that we were expecting a baby. That was June of 2006.
Fast-forward a few months to September. We purchased our current house and started to make it work for what was to become our family of three.
And on December 30, 2006, a little girl came into our lives. Harlee Kathleen. Our oldest daughter.
This isn't what I want them to remember.
And I think that's one of the reasons that the farmhouse is so exciting to me.
It's a reset. We can start over. We can be very picky about what we take into the new house. About what we choose to give our time to. Because our time raising these sweet babies is precious and limited.
Less stuff, more life.
Almost eleven years.
We purchased this house in September of 2006, when we were expecting our first child. There have been so many memories made here.
We brought all three of the girls home to this house.
The two older girls started school in this house.
We have redecorated and remodeled, gardened and added new structures.
We've had a tornado blow through, a few grass fires in the field behind us that came pretty close to the house, and roof damage that required a replacement.
We have grown and changed.
We've had days of joy and sorrow, good times and rough times.
For almost eleven years.
It will be hard to say goodbye to this house.