This time of year can be exhausting for teachers.
This year it seems to be even worse...probably because this seems to be the winter that will never end here in the midwest.
A few weeks ago, my throat started to get really sore one afternoon.
In the night, it became so painful that it woke me up.
I decided that morning that I would need to visit the doctor to get a strep test.
After contacting three different offices and not being able to get an appointment, I ended up getting in to a clinic about 11:30 that morning.
Sure enough...the strep test was positive.
I picked up my prescription and was on the road to recovery by noon on Monday.
I went back to school that week and taught like nothing ever happened.
Throughout the week, two of our three girls ended up with strep, as well.
No rest for moms with sick kids, right???
We all did ten days of antibiotic (actually, the girls are still taking theirs!).
I finished my ten days and felt great for three whole days!
Then this last Monday, after teaching all day and speaking at two board meetings that night, I thought I had overdone it.
I tried to rest my voice on Tuesday as much as I could.
However, Wednesday morning, my throat started to feel sore. And more sore. And more sore.
After a quick strep test Wednesday after lunch, it was confirmed...the strep was back.
With strict orders from the doctor, my boss, and most everyone else that I had come into contact with that afternoon...I headed home to rest.
I laid around a lot of the afternoon and took today off, as well.
Sometimes I think our bodies have to force us to rest.
Friends...we HAVE to make time to rest.
I struggle so much with this, but I am going to try very hard to start scheduling in downtime for every member of our family.
Life is too short to be running, running, running...doing, doing, doing.
Take some time to recharge this week, friends.
Love from the farmhouse.
I've got some new readers, so I thought I might take the opportunity to introduce myself a little more formally and give a little background on life as we know it.
My name is Hannah and this is my blog...Farmhouse654.
I've been married to Mr. Farmhouse for almost 14 years. We started out life in an adorable two-bedroom home in town and stayed there for over two years, before moving to a ranch-style home on four acres outside of town. We did lots of updates to that home and property and absolutely loved every minute there. We were completely content, except for the fact that our three girls shared two bedrooms and it was getting just a little bit tight as they continued to grow.
We had so many great memories in that house.
We brought all three of our daughters home there.
We raised bottle-calves, pigs, and chickens there.
We spent 10 Christmas mornings there.
We made updates to the house, added a few outbuildings, and even survived a tornado that picked up one of our barns and threw it to the other side of the property.
Our second home was such a special part of our journey.
However, in May of 2017, an opportunity presented itself for us to sell that home and buy a farmhouse on ten acres.
So in July of last year (after some bumps in the road), we made the farmhouse our home.
And that was the start of Farmhouse654.
Now...a little background on the wife & mom of the family who lives here.
Mr. Farmhouse and I grew up right here in this town.
We are hometown kids and I can't imagine raising our girls anywhere else.
Our girls are eleven, (almost) nine, and three.
They are so alike and so different in so many ways.
We love Jesus and love our church.
We believe that God's calling for us is to love Him and to love people.
We try hard to do this, but fail miserably a lot of the time. We're thankful for grace!
I've been a teacher for the last twelve years and will be leaving the classroom in May to move into the position of the Director of Special Services in the district where I currently teach. I run a photography business on the side and work for my parents, who own group homes for adults with disabilities.
We are busy and blessed.
The girls are involved in our church, play sports, take dance classes, and enjoy piano & guitar lessons once a week.
We love to be outdoors and spend time often just sitting around in lawn chairs in the back yard watching the girls play basketball or shoot skeet.
When I have some free time, I like to document our journey through this blog.
So there you have it.
Some of where we've been and where we are now.
Someday I'll tell you all about where we're headed...our goals and dreams for the farmhouse.
But for today, I'll just go rock our sweet Mattie-girl while we watch another Barbie movie.
Make it a great Monday, friends.
2017 was a wonderful year in so many ways.
But if I'm being honest, it was also a hard year.
In 2017, my mom lost both of her parents.
Of course, this would be a difficult situation for anybody...losing both parents in one year.
But it was especially difficult for us.
A strained family relationship can make loss seem so much greater.
Mom wasn't only grieving for the loss of her parents, but for the absence of a normal functioning family.
Grieving the loss of the chance at reconciliation and healing.
Someday I will tell her story in it's entirety.
But not today.
Today, I want to recognize some of the difference-makers in her life.
Mom can remember going to Vacation Bible School at a very young age with her Aunt Peggy's mother, Mrs. McIntire.
Mrs. McIntire always made Mom feel like she was thrilled to have her there. Mom still thinks of her when she smells koolaid...all these years later.
Mrs. McIntire was difference-maker.
When Mom was about five, she remembers starting to go with her grandma to her adult Sunday school group.
They met at each others' houses.
Mom has fond memories of spending time with her grandma's friends...serving punch and cake and just visiting with them.
These women were difference-makers.
Mom went to church every week as a child with her Grandma Hannah (great name, huh?).
When she was in second grade, she remembers wanting a Bible with her name on it for Christmas.
She got this gift and remembers reading it every night, loving every minute.
Grandma Hannah was a difference-maker.
When Mom's family moved to Adrian her seventh grade year, the Johnson family took her to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.
It was during this time that she went on a "Youth for Christ" hayride and committed her life to Christ.
Hal & Fern Johnson were difference-makers.
Throughout Mom's middle school and high school years, her friends' mothers became wonderful mentors to her.
These women helped her get through school.
They taught her about honesty and hard work.
They taught her character traits and Christian principles that continue to serve her well, over thirty years later.
Fern Johnson, Darlene Greenwell, Lila Gunn, Jeanie Brewster, Thelma Six, and countless others were difference-makers.
Mom got married in 1980 to my dear ol' dad.
Dad has supported Mom through many insecurities that came from a difficult past.
Together, they have raised two amazing children, if I do say so myself...ha...just kidding.
Because of the difference-makers in Mom's life, she has an amazing story of grace and generosity and love for others.
She and Dad have adopted another daughter and provided for countless other foster children throughout our lives.
She has a heart for children who have been mistreated.
She has served in the Church for in every way imaginable...for all age groups and many ministries.
She sees a need and meets it.
My mom is a difference-maker.
Despite a painful childhood, filled with neglect and abuse...she is a difference-maker.
Despite anxiety and insecurity that comes from her past...she is a difference-maker.
Despite the odds being seemingly stacked against her...she is a difference-maker.
THAT is the power in kindness and compassion.
THAT is the power in really seeing people.
THAT is the power in serving others.
THAT is the power found in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We CAN make a difference, friends.
Something has happened to me since I delivered our third daughter three years ago.
I get a bit emotional.
I cry when I'm happy...
When I'm sad...
When I'm angry...
When I don't sleep enough...
When I sleep too much...
When I see an old man in overalls.
I cry when one of my daughters says something sweet to her sister...
When a student masters a concept he or she has been struggling with...
When a first-year player on one of the girls' sports teams makes a basket in a basketball game or gets the ball over the net in volleyball...
When one of the girls shows understanding of the blessing that their great-grandparents are...
Usually, this consists of a lump in my throat and my eyes filled with tears with just a few escaping down my cheek.
But not always.
Sometimes, my little "choked-up, tear-running-down-my-face" crying turns into a big ol' ugly-cry.
I can specifically remember a day when our second daughter was just under a year old.
She hadn't been sleeping well and I was having "one of those days".
You know what I'm talking about...right, moms?
One of those days where I was barely holding it together through the school day.
I hadn't slept a full night in several weeks, my students were enjoying the last week before spring break as if it were already spring break, and I felt like I was living in a fog with a toddler and an infant.
My teaching partner casually made a comment in the teacher's lounge full of our colleagues giving me a hard time about the fact that I had mentioned taking a nap before I went home after school.
He meant NOTHING by his comment.
On a normal day, I would have just laughed.
But bless his poor heart...this wasn't a normal day...
I laughed at first and said, "I know..." and then the tears started coming, "...isn't it ridiculous?"
All the other women in the room immediately started trying to make me feel better and my poor teaching partner apologized.
But it wasn't his comment at all. He felt bad that he was the one that tipped the emotions from laughter to tears. But at some point or another, we've all been there.
I think sometimes you just need a good cry.
There is something about it that's cleansing to the soul and spirit.
In fact, that afternoon, after my ugly-cry, I was already laughing about the whole situation.
One morning, shortly after my grandpa had passed away, I walked into Casey's to find all of his coffee-drinking buddies there.
I said my "hellos" and went about my business.
As I walked out the door, an older man I didn't know met me there...in his Key overalls...just like Grandpa's.
And as I walked to my car (and all the way to work), I ugly-cried.
Sometimes, it's just necessary.
So this is your permission.
If you need to ugly-cry...just let it out.
Whether it's because of grief,
or pure joy.
Just let it out.
An ugly-cry every once in a while can be a beautiful thing.
And if you're still a bit unsure of letting the waterworks loose, I'm not just an ugly-crier...I'm a contagious-crier, too.
So if you need an ugly-cry partner...I'm your girl.
Today was day #5 of my school year, but day #1 for the girls.
This year, I have a third grader and a fifth grader.
This year, Claire Bear decided to join Harlee and attend school at the alma mater of Mr. Farmhouse and I.
We knew this would happen eventually.
We wanted them to become Adrian Blackhawks eventually.
But here we are.
Here I am.
I drop them off at 6:30 a.m. to various family members and I drive out of town.
I arrive at school by myself.
I get ready for my day.
After school, no children come into my room to tell me about their day.
Nobody asks me for snacks.
Nobody complains that I'm taking too long or that they're ready to go.
I do what I need to do in the peace and quiet.
Too peaceful and too quiet.
I miss them.
I'm so excited for what they are going to do this year.
The ways they'll grow.
The things they'll learn.
The relationships they'll build.
This is a year of many firsts.
Things are changing at the farmhouse and I'm trying hard to embrace it.
To enjoy the transitions and embrace the subtle differences that I'm seeing every day in the girls.
The truth is though...sometimes I'd like to just have them back in kindergarten, sticking their little heads in my classroom door making the sign for "I love you".
Have a great school year, my sweet girls.
You're my most favorite 8 & 10 year olds in the whole wide world.
Oh yeah, and Mattie, you're my favorite 3 year old in the whole wide world, too.
P.S. My mom bought them matching friendship necklaces to help Claire make the transition.
Be still my heart.
"Dear Third Grade Parent" is the way I start numerous letters through the school year.
Field trip notes,
notes about grade cards and school events,
and notes including class announcements.
Before the school year begins though, there are different types of things coming to mind when I think about writing a letter to my future students' parents.
We are a team. Please, please, PLEASE hear me on this. I am on your side. I am on your child's side. Every school year, at some point, a difficult conversation will come up. Your child will say or do something that is not appropriate. He will neglect to do his homework. She will make an unkind remark to another student at recess. He will rush through his work without putting forth his best effort. It will happen. Children make mistakes. Teachers make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. We all make mistakes. We have to work together so your students knows that we are fighting for him or her. We expect that he will try hard and be kind and treat others the way he wants to be treated. We expect that she will be responsible and persistent and loving towards others. You know your child better than anyone. You know what makes him tick and what makes her shut down. You are your child's number 1 cheerleader and biggest advocate. Let's team up and help your child to stretch and grow this year. When we expect this TOGETHER, our kids WILL rise up to meet our expectations. Please back me up at home and I promise that I will back you up in the classroom.
There is power in the words and actions of a child in a public school setting. Your child has the ability to change the world with his words. He can encourage and inspire his classmates. She can motivate and include her peers. By being an example of acceptance and humility, your child has the power to be a difference-maker in his school...even at age 8 or 9. Please talk with your child about showing mercy and kindness. I will work hard to build a community of friendship and inclusion in our classroom through the day, but please build on this culture in your home...around the dinner table, in your vehicle, and after ballgames. Remind them that some of their friends might be hurting because of situations at home. They might be feeling left out on the playground, even if nobody is excluding them on purpose. Let's strive to raise kids who are kind and compassionate and who invite other children into their circle.
I am human. Yes, I am a teacher. I have been doing this a long time. I have a degree that says I know how to do this job, but I am human. I mess up. I have a bad day every once in a while. I work hard to meet the needs of every individual student and I still miss the mark sometimes. I forget to do things. I am married and a mother myself. Sometimes, if we're being honest, our mornings do not run as smoothly as I wish they would. Every once in a while, I might still be thinking about something that happened at home when I greet my students in the morning. I should be able to separate my personal life from my school life, but I am human. However, I can promise you this. I will love your child as if he or she were my own. I will worry about him and fret about her. I will see things at WalMart that remind me of my students and make impulse purchases on my grocery trip just to see them smile the next morning. I will have sleepless nights this school year, thinking about whether some of my students are being fed or given appropriate shelter. I will buy book after book on Amazon until I can crack the code of what makes your child love reading. Sometimes, I will find something out about a student and I will contemplate inviting that child to come be a part of our family.
Third Grade Parent, we have about 36 weeks together this year.
Let's work together and make this the best year that we can for your student.
You support me and I will support you, as we support your sweet boy or girl.
Let's give her our very best every single day.
And let's encourage him to give his best every single day, too.
We can do this.
We picked clothes first, added shoes & accessories, and then thought about any evening activities.
After our piles were made, we would transfer them to the closet and the girls would bring them out and put them into our hallway landing spot each night to prepare for the next day.
One thing I liked about doing it this way is that we had the big "discussion" about specific outfits that either I didn't really agree with or they didn't really agree with on Sunday night. We compromised.
And eventually, we had five full days worth of outfits and items needed ready for the week.
It's awesome to have this discussion on Sunday evening, instead of throughout the week, each morning, in a panic!
The system has always worked pretty well.
In fact, I was kind of sad to see it go when we moved, as the farmhouse is just set up differently.
And let's be honest...the girls are older now.
They can handle getting up in the morning and getting dressed and ready for school in their bedrooms without much intervention from me.
Sometimes I struggle.
I struggle to keep it all together.
Running a household.
Shaping the minds of third graders.
Keeping up with a photography business.
Serving at church and in the community.
I forget things.
I lose things.
I fly off the deep end in conversation with my husband and children.
There are days that I struggle.
I struggle to feel like what I'm doing is good enough.
I have said "yes" to so many activities and projects and clients that sometimes I haven't been able to say "yes" to my kids.
I have had so many commitments in one week that sometimes I have not been able to give the 110% to each activity.
I have made such a long (and often unrealistic) "to do list" for myself on a given day that sometimes I get overwhelmed and am hardly able to complete even one task on there.
And then, in the midst of what feels like chaos.
In the midst of just trying to get one more thing done before bed.
In the midst of the daily struggle.
I get a glimpse of what life could be.
I find joy in the simplicity of a ride down the lane to the barn with my three girls.
We stop and admire the new babies born this spring.
We photograph the mamas.
We admire the sunset.
We play with the barn kitties.
And for a few moments, I find contentment in doing nothing.
I realize that my most important work is for these three little girls...for their daddy, who works so hard for us.
It's time for a reset.
Time to shift my priorities.
It's time to realize that moments like these...they are good enough.
Even if I sometimes say "I'm sorry...I'm not able to work on that today" or "You'll have to find someone else this time"...I am still good enough.
This simple life is good enough.
And sometimes, good enough can be wonderful.