And just like that...the last school year of my teaching career is over.
You might remember a few months ago when I announced my new position as the director of special services in my current district.
At the time that I agreed to this position, back in late August of last year, it seemed like a lifetime away.
It seemed like there was so much more time left in my classroom. I mean, nine months is a LONG time, right?
And yet, here we are...the last day of school.
I'd be lying if I said I was over-joyed as I left the school parking lot today.
Yes, I'm excited for my new journey, but I feel like every time a season in our lives comes to an end, there is some grieving that must take place.
I have known that public education was the career choice for me ever since I can remember.
There was never a time in my life that I thought of any other career choice.
I can remember being preschool age and "playing school" with my dolls and stuffed animals in my bedroom. (I always tried to recruit my little brother, but it wasn't quite as enjoyable for him.)
My new role is exciting and refreshing and something I am looking forward to.
But in reality, there are things I am losing.
Things I'm giving up.
Things I am having to let go of.
Building relationships with the same 20-30 kids day-in and day-out.
Being able to make an impact in the daily lives of the students in my classroom.
Creating lessons that are engaging and interesting for my kiddos.
Spending time with some of my dearest friends all day, every day...my hallway colleagues.
Yes, I know I'll still be making a difference.
I know I'll still be able to connect with children.
I know I'll still have an impact.
I know I'll be in the same building I've been in for the last eleven years.
But this afternoon, my students of nine months walked out of my room.
I waved goodbye to my students and headed straight to the cafeteria to set up for the celebration we have at the end of every year.
When the staff get-together was finished, I headed back to my room.
I walked down a mostly empty hallway to my mostly empty classroom.
And it was then that I had a few tears.
Okay, I had a lot of tears.
Even tonight, as I sit here typing this, I have a tear rolling down my cheek.
There are a lot of things to look forward to..
There's a lot to be excited about.
But there are also a lot of things to be sad about...and that's okay.
I think that sometimes we feel like there's something wrong with grief.
Like we shouldn't feel sad when we are moving into something that seems bigger and better. Why would I be sad about this opportunity? Why would I have a hard time moving into a position that seems so perfect for me?
Well...because it's normal.
It's completely natural to grieve the seasons of our lives.
Change is necessary and important...but change can also be difficult and painful.
So as I sit here tonight on the farmhouse front porch, watching the fireflies blinking away in the field across the road...I will just have a good cry. You might remember that I believe ugly-crying is a vitally important part of life.
I will cry for the thirteen years I spent in a classroom.
I will cry for the dear friends and colleagues...my teaching BFFs.
I will cry for lesson planning and connecting with "that one kid" and lightbulb moments for struggling learners.
I will cry for read-aloud chapter books, scented chart markers, and my favorite bright pink fake leather rolling office chair that I bought on clearance for $15 a few years ago.
I will cry for my teaching partner who has become like an older brother to me over the last ten years. I will cry for the comfort and the security and the partnership that will change drastically in the near future.
I will cry and I will smile.
I will look back fondly on the experiences and lessons and memories that have become so important to me inside the walls of my classroom.
I will clean out that classroom over the next few weeks and I will move (some of) my belongings down the hallway to my new office.
I can't promise that there won't be more tears.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
Cherish the seasons, friends. Each of our seasons is filled with important lessons and precious memories.
But grieve the seasons if you have to.
Tears from the farmhouse tonight...and hope for tomorrow.
Back in January, I made the goal to read 30 books in 2018.
Well, it's mid-April and I am in the middle of books number SIX and SEVEN.
Book number six is The 7 Experiment (Jen Hatmaker).
And book number seven is The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact (Michael Fullan).
I will post a completed list at year-end, but for today, I would love to talk to you about the book I finished just last week, The 12-Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Get Done in 12 Months (Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington).
I immediately downloaded it and started listening to it that night.
The concepts in the book were so obvious and yet, I needed to hear them so badly.
How many of us wake up on January 1st every single year with so many hopes and dreams for the year?
We make goals (New Years' Resolutions, if you will), whether on paper or in our heads.
There are so many things we want to accomplish by December 31st, and yet by the time February hits, adequate progress towards most of our goals has not been made.
We don't have to work too hard in January and February because December is still SO...FAR...AWAY.
We push through March and April, making excuses as to why we are not moving towards our goals.
It's so cold.
When it warms up, I will get to work on those goals. I promise!
When the school year ends, I'll have so much more time to focus on my plans.
There's still PLENTY of time to meet my goals before the end of the year! We're not even halfway through the year!
May, June, and July come and go.
The summer is just so busy. When school starts, I'll be able to focus more.
It's too hot!
Summer is for rest and relaxation.
By the time we hit August and September, we are ready to get the kids back into the routine of school and get to work on those "New Years' resolutions"!
But it's just crazy when everyone is trying to get back into the grind of school.
On October 1st, it hits us...we only have three more months to reach our goals.
We start to get a glimpse of the urgency that is needed if we're going to hit our goals before January 1st, but by this point...it feels like it's too late.
We'll try again next year.
I knew I couldn't continue this cycle forever.
With all of the changes coming in our life over the next six months, I knew that I needed to get it together.
I'll be starting a new job on August 1st and life will be different at the farmhouse at that time if we don't start to mark some things off of our giant to-do list.
The basic premise of the 12-week year is that we get rid of our "annualized" thinking when it comes to goal-setting and working towards making our vision for our life a reality.
We start to think of each 12-week section of time as a year.
Instead of putting off tasks until the end of the year when the urgency starts to take over, we keep that sense of urgency year-round, while setting realistic goals and focusing on the execution of daily tasks to help us reach our desired result.
"If you want to know what your future holds, look at your current daily actions. Those are the best predictor of your future. Not your hopes and dreams and visions. Your daily action. Because daily action is what moves a person forward."
We can have the most well thought-out vision and the most wonderful plan in the world.
However, if we don't execute well...none of that matters.
So remember as you think about your vision, your goals, and your plan that we need to also think about the effectiveness of our execution.
We have to DO the hard work every stinking day. Even when we don't feel like it.
Just do it.
We are in Week 2 of our first 12-week year and we are LOVING the results we are seeing.
I'm going to take you through the process of how Mr. Farmhouse and I set up our first 12 weeks.
This is, in no way, a substitution for you reading the actual book and following the plan.
But I'm hoping it can at least inspire you to get started!
1. Write out your personal vision for your life 10 or 15 years down the road.
Be specific! Close your eyes and picture the life you've always dreamed about! There's no goal too lofty. Just write it all down!
2. Based on that vision, think about what parts of that vision you could work towards for the next three years.
We are zooming in at this point.
We're taking that lifelong vision and breaking it into more measurable and attainable chunks.
We went through our vision and wrote some attainable goals.
I'm not going to share every single part of our personal family vision because your vision should be your own.
However, on our long-term vision, we wrote that we want to be completely debt-free in ten years.
So for our three-year plan, we want to work towards having everything paid off except for the farmhouse and my student loans.
3. Based on your three-year goals, set goals for the next 12 weeks.
We are zooming in even farther at this point.
What can we do to move ourselves closer to meeting that long-term vision and that three-year goal in the next three months?
At this point, we broke down our 12-week plan into fourteen very specific, small, and attainable goals.
It includes blogging goals, a plan to get my classroom completely cleaned out before I move into an office next year, and a plan for our first garden here at the farmhouse.
On this step, be specific.
And be realistic.
4. Create a weekly plan including activity that needs to be completed every week to help you reach your goals.
We did this on the Sunday evening before we started into our first week.
These are very specific tasks that will move you toward your 12-week goals.
Here's an example of this from our 12-week year.
We want to finish the wall and closet for the fourth bedroom.
During week 1, we needed to measure the closet and wall space and make a materials list. We needed to order the supplies from Sutherland's. These are the only two tasks for that goal that we could realistically finish in Week 1.
But we finished those two tasks and moved farther along in the process than we have in the last six weeks.
We aren't putting that task it off any longer because now it seems manageable.
It seems attainable.
We can do this!
5. Every single week, check your progress from the previous week and plan the next week.
This part is crucial to the success of the 12-week year.
What daily action did you carry out regarding each goal?
How much progress did you make towards your goals?
Were you diligent in doing the hard work every single day?
If not...OWN IT and vow to do better this week!
After checking your progress, make a new weekly plan!
In the book, Moran talks about three different blocks of time we need to religiously schedule each week.
Strategic Blocks - 3 hours of protected time early in the week where you knock out a lot of your weekly activity work (1 time per week)
Buffer Blocks - 30 minutes to one hour blocks of time where you do those mundane yet necessary daily tasks like checking emails and social media (1-2 times per day)
Breakout Blocks - 3 hours of time later in the week where you BREAKOUT of the work cycle and focus on pouring back into yourself (1 time per week)
I tried this schedule this week and could not believe how much more I was able to accomplish during that first strategic block when I wasn't distracted by emails, my phone, or other daily (sometimes meaningless) tasks that I spend so much time on each week.
Week 13 in the 12-week year is for reflection and celebration!
Because you're not thinking about the annual goals that are looming over you, you are able to be more focused on a few attainable goals and the tasks that will get you to the end result you desire.
I would encourage you to grab the book or at the very least, try to plan your own 12-week year soon.
You won't be sorry.
Happy Windy Saturday from the farmhouse, friends.
Week 2...here we come!
I'm struggling. Oh, I'm so sorry...I'll be praying for you.
I'm guilty of using these phrases.
Sometimes to avoid a long, drawn-out conversation, we answer a question with a word or two...a word or two that are sometimes far from the truth.
Most of the time, I really am fine. Times that I really am great.
But there are days. There are weeks.
There are moments in life where I am NOT fine.
I am not great.
And yet, to avoid real connection, I just go through life pretending like it's all okay.
I'm afraid this happens more than we would like to admit.
We tell people to "take care" as we leave a conversation and then we walk away and don't even "take care" of ourselves.
People give us a glimpse into their difficult life situations and we promise our prayers and then we walk away with a quick prayer thrown up and don't ever think about it again.
I'm afraid that we are becoming a society who hides behind our smiles and our one word answers to real life questions.
A society who hides behind our computer and cell phones.
A society who would rather pretend it's all going great than connect with someone face-to-face.
I think these social platforms that were created to keep us more connected with one another have caused more division than the creators had ever anticipated.
So let's get real.
This year has been difficult for me.
Trying to transition from a job I absolutely love and adore to another job that I know I will love and adore...eventually.
Navigating the new waters of having a preteen in the house...and a threenager.
Having both of the older girls in the same school as each other...but a different school than me.
Selling a house. Buying a house. Losing weight. Remodeling a house. Farming. Gaining weight. Taking pictures. Teaching. Losing weight (again). Wife-ing. Mom-ing. Gaining weight (again). Blogging. Churching.
And guess what?
It hasn't always been wonderful.
It hasn't even always been good.
It has been hard and complicated and emotional.
It has been beautiful and challenging and full of growth.
My Instagram doesn't always show those difficult days.
My Facebook doesn't always show those difficult days.
This blog doesn't always show those difficult days.
Heck...my own face doesn't always show those difficult days.
So for today, just know...
I'm not always fine.
And that's okay.
You don't have to always be fine either.
Let's be real, friends.
Love & hugs from the Farmhouse.
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!
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.
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.
Well, I haven't blogged for five days.
This is the longest I've gone without sharing my thoughts on the ol' blog and I can tell you exactly why.
Over the last few days, I have become extremely overwhelmed as the school year begins.
This is normal for (I would dare to guess) 99% of teachers.
There is always one more thing to be done.
Putting a classroom together.
Cutting out letters.
Meeting with the teaching team.
And in the whole scheme of life, all of these things are normal and wonderful and necessary.
But this year, I'm having a hard time with it all.
We're having some curriculum changes.
I didn't get into school as early as I would have hoped.
I focused on the farmhouse all summer.
We've gone from letting the girls stay up later and sleep in, to school year bedtime and waking up early.
I know that I have these feelings every year and that on Monday night when my darling little third graders walk through the door on "Back-to-School Night", that I will be fine.
I will be ready.
But for now, I will enjoy this last full weekend at home with my family before the school year takes off in full swing.
Make it a good one, friends.
Take some time to breathe and rest over the next few years.
Happy (Almost) School Year. ❤️?❤️
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!
I can't even believe I'm saying this.
The closing papers are signed.
We have a new address.
The farmhouse belongs to us.
Yes, we have been living here for a few weeks now.
Almost all of our belongings are already moved over and put away.
It has felt like "ours" for a little while already.
But this long process of inspections and appraisals and repairs and painting...it is over.
We bought our forever home today.
And soon, we will sell our home of eleven years.
It didn't happen like we thought it would.
In fact, the sale of our other home isn't even complete yet.
In May, when this whole process started, if we had known that we wouldn't be closing on the farmhouse until August 2nd, I would have laughed and said, "No way."
If you would have said that I would have to reschedule my very first teacher meeting for the 2017-2018 school year to go sign papers, I would have said, "Not happening."
But here we are.
In a few days, we'll build a wall to create an official fourth bedroom.
We'll add a second bathroom upstairs.
We'll tear out and rebuild Mattie's closet.
But not yet.
For now, we'll just enjoy today.
The day that the farmhouse became our home.
Farmhouse, sweet farmhouse.
Home, sweet home.