Something happens on Friday afternoons, as I prepare my desk at school for the next week and lock my office door before heading home.
I feel a sense of accomplishment at tasks I've been able to complete through the week and a sense of relief at the idea of a few days "off".
The week's end is a time of reflection and a time of looking forward to the future.
I've developed a routine for Friday afternoons that has helped me to leave the school with a sense of peace and contentment.
It hasn't always been this way though.
I used to stay at school late into the evenings playing catch up from the previous week and organizing my post-it notes of tasks that I needed to accomplish the following Monday.
Thanks to Google Calendar and a few books, like The 12-Week Year, I have figured out a better system.
I began to wonder if the same concept could work at school.
First semester of the next school year, I decided to try it out.
When I got back to work in August, I made a 12-week plan for first quarter.
I made a list of all the things that needed to be accomplished between the beginning of August & the end of October.
I started to divide them out based on what dates I needed to meet certain deadlines and then I took it a step deeper and divided the tasks by days during that week.
This was working fine, but I found myself writing and re-writing my lists for each day and it started to become a disorganized paper mess. Yes, the tasks were getting finished, but it was exhausting to keep up with my paper system and I hated the "cluttered feeling" that my desk had at the end of each work day.
That is...until I found Reminders.
One of the things that Google has added over the last year is the integration of "Reminders" into the Google Calendar platform.
Essentially, I can make my "to do" list using Reminders.
The difference in using this platform is that I can give my "Reminders" a date and time!
The magic of Google Reminders is that the tasks AUTOMATICALLY MIGRATE when you don't mark them complete!
Each morning, I open my calendar when I get to work and look at any tasks that have migrated over to the current date. I check for a few things. First, I love to see if I completed the tasks and just forgot to mark them complete. Next, I see if the tasks are still relevant. If not, I delete them. If they are, I assign a time later the same day or later in the week to work on these tasks.
On Friday afternoon, when I start to prepare my office and desk for the next week, I now open up my Google calendar and look at the tasks I was unable to complete during the week.
I look at my upcoming weekend and the next week's calendar and I fill in any tasks that I need to complete.
I collect any resources or materials I might need to complete these tasks and I put them in folders I have labeled with the days of the week.
Then I clean off my desk, turn off my lamps, and head out the door.
Feeling good at this week's end,
There's no question about it.
Autumn is my favorite season.
It's often short-lived here in Missouri and we often spend a day or two each September with a taste of Autumn before jumping back into high temperatures for another week or so.
However, I am hopeful that yesterday was our last day in the 80's for a while.
Bring on the colorful leaves, misty mornings, Pumpkin Spice-everything, scarves, and cozy hooded sweatshirts.
Since making my decision to put down the camera and focus solely on my new role at school this year, I've had a lot more weekend time at home.
It's not basketball season yet and our nephew's football games have been in the evenings, so I have been able to wake up on Saturday mornings and spend some time in the quiet of the farmhouse front porch, taking in the crisp, cool morning breeze.
When the long summer days start to get shorter and the hot, humid days start to get cooler, I feel a renewed sense of urgency for enjoying every moment in my home with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
I start to think more about crock pots with simmering soup, evenings spent around the fire pit, and the smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the house.
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.
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, I was supposed to be posting first day of school pictures from the farmhouse.
The girls were supposed to get up and take pictures on the front porch and have a wonderful first day while I rounded out Day #5 in my own classroom.
And then. The rain came.
On July 27th, both our little town and the town where I teach received a record amount of rain and there was lots of flooding.
People's basements were flooded, there were water rescues happening all over the place.
It was an absolute mess.
Our friend Sharon posted this picture on Facebook that day. She said it was the highest she had seen this water since they moved into this house over 20 years ago.
We are using our first "snow day" of the school year in the district where I teach, as well as my kids' district here in Adrian.
On August 22nd.
The first "first day of school snow day" in Adrian's history.
And I am thankful.
The last week has been a whirlwind of activity.
Late nights and early mornings.
Deadlines and assessments.
Dropping the kids off at various locations for daycare every morning before I go to school.
The Solar Eclipse.
Going back to a five-day work week after eight weeks off of school.
The first four days of school have been amazing.
And a little bit exhausting.
So today, the girls and I are soaking up every last minute of summer.
So far, we've had blueberry muffins made by Claire (aren't they cute?), an "Inside Out" movie-viewing party, beaded keychains, a doll slumber party, laundry, and yes...some school work and photography editing.
An unexpected "snow day" at just the right time.
See you tomorrow, third graders. ❤️🏡❤️