There are so many things that I love about spring in the Midwest.
The return of color, as yards turn green again and flowers start to pop out.
New babies on the farm, fresh calves and sweet baby chicks.
Since we bought our previous house, back in 2006, Mr. Farmhouse and I have loved sitting outside watching thunderstorms. We would sit out on the back patio at the previous house and when we moved into the farmhouse, the front porch became a favorite place to watch storms roll in from the west.
When the storm gets close enough that we almost can't handle the rain and wind, we gather up our belongings and rush inside to watch from the safety of the living room windows.
On the morning of May 4th, however, I was at work when the storms started to brew out in eastern Kansas. Mr. Farmhouse was at work, as well. The two younger girls were at my parents' house and our oldest had stayed the night at her cousin's house.
Because we were handing out meals at school in a drive-through fashion, I had been keeping my eye on the radar. There wasn't much happening around school (about 30 miles northwest of where we live), but the forecast was looking kind of scary down at the farmhouse.
When it looked like it should be over with, my sister-in-law had sent some pictures of their backyard. Their chicken coop was flipped over, their swing-set was all but demolished, and let's just say their trampoline had seen better days.
The farmhouse sits about 3/4 of a mile north of their house, so I started to wonder if there might be a chance that the same straight-line winds had hit our place.
I called Mr. Farmhouse and asked him to head out there on his lunch hour and check things over.
I had a virtual meeting coming up, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there might be some damage on our property, so I made arrangements to participate in the meeting from my phone.
I climbed in the car, secured my phone into the cradle on my dash, and headed home.
About 15 minutes into the meeting, as I was visiting with my colleagues about what the fall might look like at our school, I got a notification text message from Mr. Farmhouse. I ignored it, thinking I would check it out after the meeting got over. Then another text came through. Still, I continued through the meeting. Finally, he called.
I clicked out of the meeting to answer and I could immediately tell Mr. Farmhouse was shaken up a bit. "It's not good. I think the house is okay, but you'd better get here soon."
Within ten minutes, I was home.
As I came upon our property, I could see bits of our barn strewn about through the pasture. There were pigs out of the pen, grazing in the yard. The carport looked as if it had been picked up and set back down, and the girls' playhouse and basketball goal were both toppled over. The garden was destroyed and parts of the roof of the house were peeled up.
I knew that the rebuilding process would be a little inconvenient, but that evening when I climbed into bed, I just prayed and thanked God that we were all still here. That the damage had not been worse...and that we had only lost "stuff".
As we have been wrapping up the school year, our last few weeks have also been filled with learning about insurance claims and scheduling contractors to come finish the work we can't do ourselves.
We have started working on rebuilding the girls' play-set and spent a full day cleaning up the debris from the barn.
Thank You for home insurance and friends & family to help with clean up.
And thank You for Mr. Farmhouse and these sweet farm girls.
Thanking God as we put the farm back together here at the farmhouse,
PS. During the same storm that blew the barn away, a tragic storm-related accident happened not very far from our home. Please join me in praying for the friends & family of a sweet, sweet woman who lost her life in this storm. Pray for the children who witnessed the tragedy, the family who is putting the pieces back together after the tragedy, and this woman's granddaughter. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am an over-thinker.
I often complicate things that should be simple.
I sometimes spend more time writing out a detailed and systematic to-do list than actually working on the task at hand.
I have often created elaborate New Year's Resolution plans and intricate systems for managing my work- and home-life.
These systems are almost always difficult to implement long-term.
Every day is a new day, full of surprises and challenges.
My work calendar has been filled up with meetings, webinars, and out-of-town conferences for the last few months.
I knew this year would be an adjustment period, but to be honest...it's been pretty overwhelming.
We've had some situations come up in my department that are uncharted territory for our district. We've had students transfer in and students transfer out. I've been working with and learning from several outside agencies.
I've been reading several books about leadership and project management and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
Through my reading (and YouTube & blog exploration), I've come up with three goals for myself to really focus on from now until the end of this school year.
There are a million things biding for my time every single day.
I have some choices about what I allow to take my energy every time something new comes across my desk, across my phone or email inbox, or in front of my door.
I have choices about when to say "yes" and when to say "no"...and I can assure you that when it comes to my family, the answer should always be "yes".
I need to be intentional with my time, with my commitments, and with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
Some days, this might look like closing my office door and pushing through the items that haven't gotten enough attention that week.
Some days, it might look like closing whatever I'm working on at school and heading home right after school.
Some days, it might look like laundry, dishes, and sweeping the kitchen floor.
Being intentional is so important.
I have always been a "just in case" person.
I'd better keep that piece of paper "just in case" we ever need it again (even though I could print if off the internet any time I want).
I'd better save those toys and clothes in a tub in the basement "just in case" (even though I trashed boxes that hadn't been cracked open in over eleven years when we moved last summer).
I've realized through the years, however, that I have hardly ever needed those "just in case" items!
Thanks to the KonMari method, I pared down quite a few of our belongings right before we moved to the farmhouse.
I tried to be very intentional in my decorating and purchases made when we moved in.
I've tried to transfer a lot of my "paper clutter" from paper to digital copies.
My complicated systems are now simple and intentional daily reminders...a checklist that I move through during my free time at home and school.
Less is more.
A simple and manageable system is so much more effective than an over-complicated and unattainable plan.
One Day at a Time.
At the end of the day, we can't be all things to all people.
We WILL NOT mark every single item off of the "to do" list and even if we did, there would be more tasks tomorrow.
We have to be intentional with how we spend our time each and every day.
I wake up in the morning and do my Bible study, have some prayer time, and then I crack open my calendar app.
I look at my list of the things that must get done that day on my Trello board and I schedule them into my little pockets of open time on my Google Calendar that used to be wasted.
As I work through the day, I mark items off my list as I complete them and I move the tasks down through the day if something comes up that is a higher priority item.
If I don't finish the tasks for the day, I have learned to forgive myself and move them to the following day.
We can only do what we can do.
We can do our very best...
give our best effort...
try to strive for perfection...
and still we will fall short.
We will never be "caught up"...but do you know what we can be?
We can be present.
We can wake up every morning renewed and full of purpose, ready to try again.
We can be intentional and we can strive for the beauty of simplicity...one day at a time.
Have a great 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.
The "heart of the home".
Often the central location of what's going on in our house, our kitchen can quickly turn into the catch all.
In the old house, we had a peninsula that we had built-in to house the dishwasher we added a few years after we moved in.
Besides meal prep and clean-up messes, you would often find lunch boxes thrown down after school, bills dropped on the counter, and various other items that would find their way to the flat surfaces of the kitchen.
This peninsula quickly became a hot spot for everything that was in our arms when we walked through the door.
It was a huge, flat space and it naturally seemed to attract clutter.
When we bought the farmhouse, I really wanted to try and avoid having a hot spot area like this.
The dining room table definitely has the potential to become this "hot spot", but by keeping seasonal decorations on there, the problem has been fairly minimal. Surprisingly.
And by being intentional with our kitchen counter spaces, we've avoided a lot of that "hot spot clutter".
The yellow cabinet holds a few cookbooks and my Ninja blender that I use most every day.
It also houses the plates and bowls we use most often. I moved them down there so they were more accessible for the girls.
We have onions and potatoes on the bottom shelf (and sitting over to the side if they won't fit inside!)
Bread and veggies go on top!
Sidenote: Glittery hand sanitizing gel in the hands of a toddler WILL take the paint off of the top of a Target clearance cabinet like this one. Or so we've heard.
Originally, the farmhouse kitchen was an eat-in kitchen.
It had a small space for a table where the sink is now and the stove and sink were on the whole other side of the room.
The refrigerator was where the coffee bar is now and there was a little peninsula jutting out into the room where our refrigerator sits.
The kitchen also had a tile floor that had been added right over the beautiful hardwood floors that the previous owner refinished.
One of my favorite things to do early in the morning before the sun comes up is to get my coffee and my Bible and go sit in the living room to talk to Jesus.
I don't turn any lights on in the kitchen, but just enjoy the ambiance of the white lights and all the various items that have been placed on top of the cabinets for a specific reason.
If you look closely, you can see silhouette cut-out of the girls' profiles,
a clay bowl that says "Hemple, Missouri" on it that reminds me of a very special family,
a navy blue spool that I purchased the very first time I went antiquing with my mother-in-law,
a "Welcome to the Farmhouse" sign that my mom bought me the very first week we lived here,
a can that has a poppy on it that I bought on a trip to Oklahoma with my mom & sisters-in-law,
and many other small sentimental items that bring joy to my heart.
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.
I've been listening to the audio-broadcast of a conference called "Masterful Leadership: Leading Like Jesus" on my Audible App as I drive to and from work each day.
It's been enlightening...encouraging...and challenging.
I've paused the "book" to take notes.
I've pushed the "back" button to listen to a specific segment again more times than I can count.
And I've said "yes", "hmmm...", and "preach" right out loud to myself in my car several times.
I listened to one particular section three different times.
This section was on the concept of the "mood elevator", which was developed by a man named Larry Senn.
Larry Senn is a leader in the field of corporate leadership and has written a book called, Up the Mood Elevator to describe and teach this decision-making concept.
The Mood Elevator is a book that, admittedly, I haven't finished yet.
But when I heard the mood elevator concept in the message from the "Lead Like Jesus" conference, I just had to share it because it was mind-blowing to me!
I mean...what mood is there that would be higher on the elevator than joy???
Joy is "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness".
That seemed like the top option, as far as mood is concerned.
Until the speaker shared with the audience that the top of the mood elevator is being grateful.
Gratitude. Thankfulness. Appreciation.
We make the best decisions when we are grateful.
It made so much sense to me that I spoke out loud and said, "Oh, duh!"
I think it's important here that we talk about how quickly we can take a trip up or down the mood elevator, if we're not careful.
We can hear one negative comment that, if left unchecked, can quickly take us spiraling into an irritated, anxious, insecure state of mind that eventually could lead to anger and depression.
It's so necessary that we keep our thoughts in check every day and focus on gratitude.
During this last sermon series at church, our minister preached a sermon called "Don't Forget to Pray".
In this sermon, he talked about staying alert to things in our lives that we need to take to the Father.
He talked about being devoted daily to prayer.
And he also talked about the importance of being thankful.
I deeply appreciated his admission that there are days where it's very hard to find something to be thankful for.
Sometimes we have to open our eyes and look hard to find opportunities to be thankful.
In every circumstance, we can find gratitude.
This attitude of being grateful in all situations goes hand-in-hand with the time we spend at the top of the mood elevator.
And the more time we spend at the top of the mood elevator, the more peace and contentment we will find in our daily lives.
So today and every day, let's be intentional about finding gratitude.
Let's give thanks in all circumstances.
Let's ride that mood elevator to the top floor and be the best we can be.
Giving thanks from the farmhouse tonight.
December 31, 2017 marked the ending of an era in our little town.
My grandma played her final song as the church organist.
She has played the organ at Adrian Christian Church for my whole life.
In fact, the first wedding she played for was for her cousin Ed & his wife, Darlene. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year.
My parents reminded me that when my brother and I were preschool age, we would sometimes go sit at the funeral home on the couch in the piano room while Grandma played for a service.
We must have been pretty good kids, because I cannot imagine having my sweet three-year-old Mattie-girl sitting in the piano room during a funeral!
I can remember Grandma practicing her hymns on the piano in their dining room and the organ that set in their bedroom.
I can remember sitting on the front row on the organ side while Grandma played for the church service every single Sunday for years and years.
Actually...that's still where we sit.
And from now on...she will sit there too.
Surrounded by her children,
by her grandchildren,
and her great-grandchildren.
Surrounded by some of her dearest friends from Sunday school class for the last five decades, or more.
Surrounded by church family...young and not-so-young, new friends and old friends, meeting every week to worship the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
If you have any memories to share of Grandma's organ playing years, we would love to compile them for her.
If she played for your wedding, for a funeral of a dear loved one, for your Sunday school class, to accompany you for some sort of special music...please share these stories so we can share them with her.
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.
January 9th marked our six-month anniversary of our "first night sleeping at the farmhouse".
In some ways, it feels like that was ages ago...and in some ways, it feels like yesterday.
Over the snow days (and ice day and really cold wind-chill day) that we had off of school last week, I really reminisced about our time here at the farmhouse so far.
I started looking through some of my old blog posts and Instagram photos.
One of my most favorite memories for the rest of my life will be from 9:00 at night on the first Saturday night that we slept here.
Our minister and his wife came out and prayed over the farmhouse. You can read about it in my blog post from that day...Bless this Mess.
Since that warm July night,
we have enjoyed family movie nights cuddled in the living room,
mornings on the front porch reading our books,
pick-up games of basketball out to the north of the house,
friends over to BBQ,
softball practice out in the yard,
and for Thanksgiving we hosted our first TWO family dinners out here.
We experienced our first farmhouse Christmas with the girls.
We have painted and decorated,
Added an upstairs bathroom,
Tore down a barn,
Added a chicken coop,
It has been quite the journey and I know we are nowhere near "finished".
Mr. Farmhouse has been working tirelessly in all of his spare time to get the girls a second bathroom.
We paid a buddy of ours to do the rough-in work and plumbing (thanks, Brent!), but Mr. Farmhouse decided he could finish the rest out himself.
With lots of help from our dads, we have finished the sheetrock, cement board for the tile, and wiring.
Next up is paint,
then putting in the vanity & sink,
finishing the accent wall with barn wood & metal from the barn that is lying beside our house,
the tile work,
and installing the toilet & plumbing fixtures.