Who and What

My name is Hailey and my grandfather is a farmer. I'm the 7th generation to live on the family farm, and my babies (when the time comes) are going to be the 8th. My husband and I are even renovating a trailer on my grandparent's farm so we can move back to the family farm sooner. This blog encompasses the things that are important to me. These things are:

~Special Education
~ADHD, including my own battle with it over the years. It's now my superpower.
~Farm Life
~Equal rights for women.
~Goal setting
~Fitness and health
~Financial Stability
~Personal Happiness

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sticking to it: 10 Tips for Sticking to Your Workouts

Week 2
I started p90x 2 a few weeks ago, as well as rock climbing twice a week. I'm hoping to get down to my pre-college weight. No luck on the weight loss front so far, but I feel stronger, so that's good. I'm a little frustrated it's not more visually apparent, at least not from what I can tell. Unfortunately, I had to start the program over this week, since last week life got in the way and I didn't exercise at all. But I made it through a whole week this week, and I have no intentions of backing down next week. Here are a few tips for sticking to it, some of which I need to be a little better about myself.

1) Workout in the morning. I know, you hate my guts right now. You get precious little sleep as it is. And I want you to cut an hour out of your morning snooze time? I must be nuts! But there are a few benefits to working out in the morning. a) You get to cross it off your list immediately and there's no time for other things to get in the way. b) Working out energizes you, sometimes for hours. This can negatively impact your ability to fall asleep. c) If you count calories, you immediately know how many extra calories you earned for the day.

2) Write it down. I do a better job of working out when I treat my sessions like appointments. If it's on my calendar, I'm much more likely to do it.

3) Fast forward. If you're doing a workout DVD, chances are there is quite a bit of gum flapping during which you are not actually working out. Fast forwarding through these parts makes your workout quicker, more efficient, more accurate in terms of calorie count, and less boring. Tony Horton never shuts up. I cut the p90x 2 workouts down by 20 minutes, just by eliminating his chattiness.

4) Have more than one workout buddy. I love climbing with my friend Fez at the local indoor rock climbing facility. But when he has other plans, I'm out of luck. My husband has decided we can start going a few nights a week (yes I said nights, I love morning workouts, but sometimes you have to cave to facility hours) as well so I can get more benefits from it.

5) Variety is the spice of life. Change it up, try a new sport, take a new class, confuse the crap out of your muscles. You'll attain a higher level of fitness at a faster rate and you're more likely to stick to it if you're not bored.

6) Identify and eliminate the problem. I realized one of the reasons I would skip workouts would be because I was out of clean (read non offensive) exercise clothing. Since then I've been browsing the clearance racks of every store I go into to find more fitness gear.

7) Involve your kids, spouse or pet. You're less likely to skip your workout if you don't feel like you're trading quality time with your family for it.

8) Share your journey. Sharing my blog and photos didn't keep me stuck to my routine 100%, but it did keep me from staying off track for more than a week.

9) Keep your workout gear visible in some way. For me, this just means that I lay out my clothing and tennis shoes the night before. That tiny visual cue is often enough to make me get up and moving.

10) Set a goal for you. Not someone else, not because you think that's what fit people do…no, set a goal for YOU. Mine is to be back to my pre college weight of 115 lbs and to have a rocking beach body that looks fabulous in a dress. Interesting, because I don't consider myself to be particularly beachy or dressy, but that's the one that feels best to me right.

So now the real question is, is there any visible difference or am I deluding myself?

Week 1

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Stella!: 10 Gift Ideas for 3 Year Old Girls

Happy Birthday Little Girl!
My favorite toddler is turning three this weekend, and I am SO excited to go to her birthday party. I absolutely love this little girl, and I have had a hard time coming up with a gift for her. I finally reached a solution, but I don't have time to execute it. Therefore, my wonderful husband is in charge and I have a great Christmas present for her instead. However, since I don't want to end up in this situation again, here is a list of gifts for me and anyone else who ever needs it.

1) A tutu. This can be modified to be her favorite colors, act as a costume, or put her in the outfit of her favorite super hero. This was my original plan, but like I said, Christmas!
This is the inspiration I'm using, but you can buy this tutu at:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/TrinitysTutus?ref=l2-shopheader-name.
2) Quiet books. These are a gift for both them and their parents. Made of soft felt with moveable parts for little fingers, these books come in a variety of themes and provide hours of entertainment. 

I'm partial to this cute Mr. Potato Head book.

3) Blocks or large legos. These are never the wrong size or wrong color, and most kids get a lot of mileage out of them. When your child outgrows them, consider donating them to your local elementary school. They make excellent math and reading manipulatives. 

4) A class of some sort (swimming, dance, gymnastics). This has many advantages. It allows the child to have a new experience, it won't clutter up the house, and it makes a memory to be cherished. Additionally, this is a great way to support local businesses. 
I personally recommend horseback riding lessons. 

5) Cute pajamas. Really, that's about enough said on that topic. Are there many things in life better than cute pajamas? 
Wonder Woman pajamas. SO cute!

6) A piggy bank. My dad gave my sister and I a piggy bank and allowance around age two. As an adult, I feel that I manage my money exceptionally well, and I credit being started at a young age as having something to do with that. 
I might want one of these! Purchase it at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/189095956/personalized-piggy-bank-zebra-print. 
7) A special pair of shoes. Have you ever met a toddler who simply loved to show off their shoes? Give them a special pair in their favorite color and they'll wear them out, show them off and have something that you know gets used. 

8) Pillows and blankets that show off things they love. Toddlers are often getting ready to move into "big kid beds." Giving them bedding for their new beds that they love helps make the process less scary and more fun. 
This cute quilt is available from: https://www.etsy.com/shop/jholtonquilts?ref=l2-shopheader-name. 
9) Wooden Puzzles. My dad used to make these and I learned how when I was in my teens. We used to give them for birthday presents. Now I sell them on my Etsy website, Krushed and Kreated. They are beautiful, unique, and last for years. 
This is just one of the puzzles we make. See this and more at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KrushedandKreated?ref=search_shop_redirect.

10) Mess free art supplies. Crayola makes a great line of them called Color Wonder, and they include markers, paint and other mediums that go on Crayola paper, but not any other surface. They're also not particularly expensive. 
These come in a variety of themes and sizes.

What are your favorite toddler gifts? Share them with us.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Picked the Right School…10 Reasons I'm Thrilled With My New Job

Today was my first day of school…as a new teacher. I had emotions that I'm sure were normal. Excitement, nervousness, utter terror! But today as well as the days leading up to it have been amazing and each day I become more and more sure that I made an excellent decision for myself and my teaching career. Here are the top ten reasons why:

1. Reasonable expectations. I get to teach, without having to also be the janitor, secretary, cafeteria worker and nurse.

2. The opportunity to learn. We are encouraged to ask questions and I feel like people are really taking the time to answer and consider.

3. The SPED team. I don't think I've ever met nicer more dedicated people. Every time I've started to worry, I've been quickly put at ease by these people.

4. The first grade PLC team. Ditto on the nice, dedicated and willingness to put me at ease. Additionally, they have been quick to make me laugh, urge me to share new ideas and on a particularly memorable occasion, one told me if I needed "to vent, cry or hide in one of our closets, we're here for you."

5. All the new teachers, who have already started to become amazing friends.

6. The support staff, who continue to explain and reexplain the curriculum and never make me feel stupid when I have questions to ask.

7. Getting to work in a variety of classroom settings. I get to be in first and fourth grade, as well as help students in a one on one setting. I also get to teach both math and reading.

8. The communication is FABULOUS. So many people are willing to put in the extra time to make sure everyone knows what's going on and that things run smoothly.

9. It's a small school in a small town. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be and what my personality is made for.

10. Administration is supportive and reasonable, plus they have an excellent understanding of what Special Education is all about. One of our little girls on the autism spectrum had a bit of a hard time adjusting on her first day back and tried to make a break for it. I ended up barefoot in the hallway working to calm her down with our behavior specialist. We did, and when our assistant principal walked by, he didn't look at me strangely or make any comments. He picked up my shoe, used it to distract the child in a calm and gentle manner, and helped us get her back to class with a smile.

I am proud of my new job and am loving the adventure so far.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Surviving Being a New Teacher? 27 of My Favorite Ways to Relax

My plans for this evening.
This is my first year with a real teaching job and I have my first day of school with students on Monday. This week has been filled with late nights to get my classroom ready, sleepless hours spent tossing and turning and a million and one to do lists. I realized today that what I really needed was a night off. Don't get me wrong, I still have a lot to do, but sometimes you just have to take a break from it all to allow yourself to be more productive. Here are 27 of my favorite ways to blow off some steam.

1) Blogging. Sometimes putting things into writing helps me to sort through my thoughts and allows me to see things in a more positive light.

2) Pinterest. I admit it, I'm a pinterest addict, but there's something about looking at a lot of pretty pictures that helps to calm me down.

3) Cooking. I find comfort in knowing that if I follow a set of directions, I will get the intended outcome.

4) Reading or listening to a book. The words from the minds of others that find a way to identify and articulate my own jumbled thoughts are particularly soothing.

5) Watching a favorite TV show. Right now I'm enjoying CSI: New York.

6) Flipping through a mindless magazine. Cosmo and People come to mind. Not exactly literary art, but good for when you need a break from your own life.

7) A hot shower. Some people say a bath, but I care for the idea of hanging out in human soup.

8) Calling my mom. Sometimes, you just need your mommy.

9) Yoga. It makes you calmer, more focused and is excellent exercise.

10) Grooming one of my horses. It feels good for them and studies show that being around animals contributes to lower blood pressure.

11) Sew. The sound of the machine soothes my soul.

12) Repeating calming mantras. It sounds a little cheesy, but telling myself that I am capable, strong and it will all really be alright does help.

13) Do the small tasks on your to do list. Taking care of small things, just so you can cross them off your list, really does help.

14) Go to sleep. It's the human version of, "Did you turn it off and turn it back on?"

15) Spend time with my husband. I really couldn't have asked for better than Bradley. He almost always makes me feel better about life.

16) Come up with a plan B. Having a backup plan helps to alleviate worries and fear.

17) Listen to music. For every feeling, there is a song.

18) Slip into something comfortable. I'm partial to an old t-shirt of my dad's.

19) Try this trick. lie on your back with your feet up in the air and against the wall. Supposedly it's the differentiation in blood flow, but it helps you to relax.

20) Walk outside barefoot and feel the grass between your toes.

21) Do something good. Whether big or small, it always makes me feel better to do something positive for the world.

22) Making a mental list of things I can do successfully. When I'm stressed, it's hard to remember what I'm good at. Listing things I am good at reaffirms that I am capable.

23) Eat something good for you. Taking care of yourself can have a big impact on your mental state.

24) Get a massage, if you can afford it, or have a loved one give you one.

25) Complete a mundane task, such as a load of laundry. Essentially, do something you can't get wrong.

26) Communicate what you need. If you don't ask for help, people don't know you need it and can't give it to you.

27) If all else fails, wine a little. A bottle's worth should do the trick!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I confess I… 10 of My Most Awkward Quirks

I have been called many things that indicate I march to the beat of a different drum. When people are feeling friendly I get called unique or eccentric. Other times, I get the grumps of the world who simply call me weird and talk about me behind my back. The fact that you feel the need to talk about me simply tells me that I am more awesome than you, since I am secure enough to be myself. Listed below for your giggling pleasure are 10 of my most awkward quirks.

1) I freaking hate the way velvet feels and can't stand for it to touch my skin. If it does I want to bathe. Many a strange twitch attack has happened in thrift stores due to velvet that I ran into without warning.

2) I have absolutely no fashion sense and pick out all my outfits from Pinterest. I also lay out huge numbers of outfits at a time so I don't have to worry about finding clothing to wear in the morning.

3) I am massively addicted to bad reality TV, in particular all the seasons of 16 and Pregnant and their spinoffs.

4) I still sleep with the same stuffed animal I have since I was a baby…unless Brad steals him from me.

5) I have a serious bird phobia. I blame an attack by a rogue parakeet when I was eleven.

6) I clean by counting to 27. I will go into a room and pick up 27 things or clean 27 surfaces.

7) I own multiple pairs of footie pajamas and wear them on a regular basis.

8) I am a compulsive list taker, but my shorthand makes sense to almost no one. And my handwriting is unspeakably horrible.

9) I love Boy Meets World and grew up wishing for a romance like Corey and Topanga's. In some ways I got it.

10) I am embarrassingly uninformed about current events. I don't have cable, don't watch the news, only read the newspaper to coupon and rarely visit news sites. However, if someone creates a good news website, I'll happily read that.

What's your secret weird confession? Also, if you want to read more strange confessions, visit postsecret.com.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Songs That Tell My Life Story

Alabama, 2005? The dream team.
I'm doing my best to stay consistent with this, but some days I'm having too much fun to make it happen. I guess that's the best excuse anyone can give. Sometimes enjoying life takes first priority.

I've been listening to music a lot more this summer than I normally do. Actually, in general I listen to more music in the summertime. There's just something about having the windows down and the music cranked that says, summertime. As I've gone through my playlist, there have been a few songs that have resonated with me recently. Below are the top 10 songs that tell my life story.

  1. Meanwhile Back at Mama's, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. This is basically the story of Brad and I moving out and coming back to the family farm two years later, as wells the way we live now. "Meanwhile, back at Mama's, porch light's on, come on in if you wanna. Supper's on the stove and beer's in the fridge. Red sun sinking low out on the ridge. 
  2. Here's to Us, Halestorm. This is the song I think of when I think of the friends that have become part of my family and what it meant for us to grow up. It reminds me of the hard times we survived by supporting each other. "Stuck it out this far together, Put our dreams through the shredder. Let’s toast cause things got better. And everything could change like that, and all these years go by so fast, but nothing lasts forever. Here's to us, Here's to love, All the times that we messed up. Here's to you, fill the glass, cause the last few nights have kicked my ass, so let's give em hell. Wish everybody well."
  3. Marry Me, Train. This is the song that reminds me most of Bradley. He loved me from the time I was fifteen years old, but he never said anything, although I knew. Eventually I came around, but I was nearly twenty when I did. That's a lot of patience on his part. "Love has surely shifted my way. Marry me, today and everyday. If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe, say you will."
  4. She's On Her Way, Phil Vassar. This was what my father and I danced to at my wedding. I couldn't have asked for a better man to call my daddy. Honestly, I'd post all the lyrics to the song, because it's just so true for the relationship we had. However, I'll stick to my few favorite lines, which speaks of ponytails and make up. I recognize it is not the point of the song, but it makes me think of the many times he filled the role of horse show mom and dad for me, as my horse, Libby and I competed in countless horse shows. He would help me as best he could with wrestling my ponytail and Libby's into a suitable state and getting us both glammed up, then boost me into the saddle and watch me go. He also jumped many fences after some not so glamorous falls. "Off to school, down the drive, ponytail waves goodbye. She's the light and the love of your life. Then there's cars, and boys, all made up, no more toys, one day she's somebody's wife. She's on her way, she's on her road. Just yesterday, you were bringing her home. You'll watch her fall down, watch her grow up, she'll meet somebody, she'll fall in love." 
  5. Crushed and Created, Caitlyn Smith. Our little business is named for this song. It's about being stronger after challenges. "We are crushed and created, we are melted and made, we are broken and built up in the very same way. What I thought I could handle, what I thought I could take, what I thought would destroy me leaves me stronger in its wake."
  6. Just Another Day in Paradise, Phil Vassar. This song talks of life's daily challenges and surviving them with the one you love at your side. "It's OK, it's so nice, just another day in paradise. There's no place I'd rather be. Two hearts, one dream, wouldn't trade it for anything and I ask the lord, every night, for just another day in paradise. 
  7. Change, Taylor Swift. When Taylor Swift was first signed, it was by one of the smallest labels in Nashville. She wrote it after winning the Horizon award for Country Music in 2007, in that moment triumphing over the many obstacles set in front of her. I competed on the A Circuit of the American Morgan Horse Association from 2006-2011 (I plan to go back one Brad and I are debt free). Libby was twice the age of most of the other horses. I borrowed show clothing or bought it second hand. My saddle was a $500 barrel saddle. I was the only rider in my division with the good sense to wear a helmet, and it made me stick out. I had only sporadic instruction with a trainer. My competitors had a crew just to groom their horse, while my father and I did all of the cleaning, prep and horse care. Despite it all, Libby won a National title and many Regional ones as well. "So we've been outnumbered. Berated and now cornered. It's hard to fight when the fight ain't fair. We're getting stronger now, find things we never found. They might be bigger, but we're faster and never scared. You can walk away, say we don't need this. But there's something in your eyes says we can beat this."
  8. If Heaven, Andy Griggs. Admittedly, this is more a song about what comes after this life, but the first verse strikes a chord with me, because it describes the end to an amazing day on the farm perfectly. "If heaven was an hour, it would be twilight. When the fireflies start their dancing on the lawn. And supper's on the stove, and Mama's laughing. And everybody's working day is done. 
  9. Calling All Angels, Train. As a special education teacher, this song holds a lot of meaning for me. Sometimes the challenges that face me are daunting. But this song talks about calling for "angels" to help to create a better tomorrow, and how with help, there is hope. "I need a hand to help build up some hope inside of me. And I'm calling all angels, yeah I'm calling all you angels. I won't give up if you don't give up."
  10. Days Like This, Van Morrison. This as my first dance song. Sometimes life is hard, and nothing goes right. But some ordinary days are absolutely perfect and that is something to savor, and remember on the bad days. "Everything falls into place, like the flick of a switch. Well I must remember, there will be days like this."I've been lucky enough to have many of these recently. 

Do you have a personal anthem? What songs make up your story. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Letter to My Students

I bought one of these for each of my students. 

I'm in a letter writing mood this week. Letter writing is a dying art. A letter says, "I took the time to compose all my thoughts in a way you can keep." A letter says, "I want you to be able to have these words forever." A letter says, "I love you."

Dear Students,

I am your new Special Education teacher. I know some of you may be scared about being in Special Education. I know that more than once you have felt frustrated, embarrassed or even angry at those around you. You might even have been angry at yourself. You may feel like you've been left out or behind by those around you. 

How do I know this? Because I, like you, was not always good at school. True, I did end up needing Special Education, but this was more due to the fact that I was lucky enough to have my mother's support and understanding of ADHD, and the many hours she spent teaching me to manage it, than anything else. I had teachers who were wary of having me in their classroom because I came with a label, and I had a few question if I would make it out of high school. 

I want you to know that I picked Special Education because it is just that, special. I want you to know that you are special, and even though you don't know it yet, you have a lot to teach me and the rest of the world. Whatever they have diagnosed you with is just a description. It is a set of words to help others understand what your challenges are and how to help you. It does not make you stupid, dumb, crazy or lazy. It is simply a part of you, and your life story, and one day, I hope you will tell it to someone with your head up and pride in your eyes. 

I promise that I will help you in any way I can. I do not promise that I will be successful every time, but I do promise that I will not give up on you, and I will not allow you to give up on yourself. I promise that I will ask my coworkers, read books, look for ideas online and ask as many questions as I need to so that you can understand. I hope you will forgive me for the hundreds of mistakes that I am sure to make along the way and that you will work with me so that we can both learn from them. 

I give you my word that I will do everything I can to make my classroom a safe place for you. You are allowed to make mistakes in my class. In fact, I hope you make a thousand mistakes, so that you have a thousand opportunities to learn. I will treat you with respect and dignity and I will not allow anyone else to give you anything less. I hope you learn math and reading from me, but more importantly, I hope I teach you to be a good person. To be successful, in the words of Mr. Feeny, all I want you to do is, "believe in yourselves, dream, try and do good." 

I hope to help you discover how to have faith in yourself, how to show others kindness, and how to live a happy and prosperous life. I haven't even met you yet, but I hope you know that I believe in you. I have high hopes for the journey we will take together over the next nine months, and for the journey you will take on your own over your lifetime. 

Until I meet you, "I love you all. Class dismissed."

Your teacher,

Mrs. G.-C.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Letter to My Seventeen Year Old Self

17 year old me, with the most important man in my life at the time, after my Daddy. 
As I'm getting ready to start my first teaching job, I'm about the happiest I've ever been. I have my degree, I love my new coworkers, my husband continues to prove to me how amazing he is, and I'm doing so many things to give myself an even brighter future. I'm really proud of myself, and only in the last week or so do I think that the person I was when I graduated high school would be proud of me. 

I've had some rough patches the last few years. I started college in a relationship that would end badly and shatter a lot of my self confidence. I tried to be part of the Virginia Tech Riding Team for a long time, but I wasn't what any of the teams or coaches had in mind, and that, combined with a bad fall gave me a lot of fear and anxiety in the horse world. I lost some good friends along the way, both to life circumstances (as in we're both still living, but we're not friends) and to some untimely departures from this earth. I failed to consistently take care of myself and I feel as if I'm paying for it now. I worked at a job that left me exhausted and questioning my career path. 

It wasn't all bad, far from it, life has mostly treated me well since high school and given the chance, I still wouldn't change most of them. They got me here, and I am beyond grateful for where here is. However, there are a few things I would like to tell 17 year old me on my graduation night. I did chance some names (look for the *) to protect the (mostly) innocent. 

Dear Mini Me,

If you're wondering if this is really you, go look in your purse (it's pink with lobsters on it) and you'll find a bottle of pink hair dye that you're planning to use in a few weeks, but only told Allison* and Amy* about. Your mom told you it was OK, but not telling her when still feels a little rebellious. 

As I write this, I think you'd be, on the whole, satisfied with who you've become. I know you weren't planning on teaching Special Education, but the next few years will show you that this is a great place for you to be. Your work at Camp C.H.I.L.D. will be some of the most fun you will ever have, and you will learn more from your campers than you ever thought possible. Make sure you REALLY listen to them, and try to remember what they say. Write it down! Those children will give you more to think about than any homework assignment ever good. 

I'd like to encourage you to be careful who you give your heart to, as well as who's heart you break. I'm not saying who you're dating is your soul mate, but I am saying to be kind. I'm also not saying not to date the person who keeps creeping into your thoughts. However, I would like to point out that being single for a while never killed anyone, and that it might be a better option for you. No matter who you date, put yourself and what you want out of life first, and choose someone who actually fits into that role, not just someone who says they will. Look for common sense over book smarts and work ethic and kindness over everything else. 

I'd tell you to be careful when driving to Stanton, but even the judge will tell you that it was more or less not your fault. In any case, that incident is very revealing of the person you actually belong with, as well as who your real friends are, so honestly, I'd hate to take that "accident" away from you. Consider it divine intervention from a God who needed to start me on a different path. 

That's another thing. I know now you have some faith, but you're too afraid you're doing it wrong to share it with most people, and you don't have much courage to say a prayer. Six years later, I believe almost the exact same thing you did then, but now I say prayers, mostly ones of gratitude. At the beginning of this year, that wasn't the case, but you started saying prayers when no one could figure out what was wrong with you. Turns out you have chronic pain syndrome, which is MUCH less scary when it has a name and every doctor isn't telling you you're nuts. Don't worry, your meds work great, you have an amazing physician, and you don't think about it most days, and on not so good ones, you've found a way to distract yourself and having an amazing husband and great friends doesn't hurt either. 

While we're on the subject of friends, I know you're going to be crazy busy with college, but make sure to notice those that are there cheering you on. Don't forget to take time to be their cheerleader as well. Call, text (wait, you're practically the only 17 year old that doesn't do that yet, and that's a good thing), e-mail and write. Oh, and embrace your parents, as friends. They're really amazing. 

And don't waste time trying to change or help people that don't want to change or help. In time you will see that friendship, like any relationship, needs two people to make it work. If you find you're putting in all the work, please, as painful as it may be, step away. You can't fix everything and that only makes you human, not a bad person. And when you find yourself discouraged in your friendships because it seems that everyone is either leaving town or making choices that lead them down a different path, take comfort in knowing that you just met a terrific new group of people to teach with.

Please take time to love yourself. Avoid putting yourself down. Other people will do it enough, and if you give yourself permission to do it, you're practically inviting others to as well. Keep your head high, wear a big smile, and trust that while you may not always be perfect, I have never known you to make a decision without the best intentions in your heart. Work hard, but remember to have fun and enjoy life. Treat your body and your health as a top priority. When you find yourself stuck, look for help, don't try to carry the weight of the world on your own. After all, you aren't Atlas. 

That reminds me. Your Latin and English teacher, Mr. Woodford, is one of the best people you will ever meet. I know you aren't the world's greatest note taker, but if you remember now some of his advice, please go write it down. He will always be the Mr. Feeny of your educational career, and you will never meet another teacher more dedicated to his students. You may not realize it now, but he knew you better than you knew yourself at times, and he helped you to become a better person. 

Only a few regrets I have for you, actually, and I'd like you to improve upon. Take that Harry Potter English Class at Tech. I know it's not part of your course requirements, but it's fun I wish I'd had. Exercise more, you'll thank me. Love more, smile more and don't be so hard on yourself. Oh, and groom that old horse, Squire while you have the chance. I know you loved him with all your heart, and time will show just how much he taught you. Know that he's happy and will take his last breaths in love and safety, so you can stop worrying. Oh, and Anna turns out OK, so stop fretting over her so much. 

I'll see you in a few years. Good news, no grey hairs yet, although your Rivermont kids did give you a few worry lines. Take care of yourself and keep your head up. I love you. 


Older and I Hope Slightly Wiser You

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dare to Imagine: 100 Features of my Dream Farm and Home

Last December, all of our dreams seemed to be on hold. I still had a semester to go of grad school, and I had struggled the previous semester. I was frustrated at work, and didn't see much on the horizon. Brad also was hating is job, in particular the hours he was working. We were just making ends meet, and needless to say, it was frustrating. Worst of all, I had just been diagnosed with a rare form of Chronic Pain Syndrome, and the medication had terrible side effects.

In January we started Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover to get our finances in order and work toward living a debt free life. After that, things started to fall into place for us. Eight months later we both have new jobs we are happy with. I finished graduate school in June and it felt amazing. Our finances are much more under control, and my doctor worked with me to find medication that actually works without crazy side effects. Best of all, we were able to renovate a trailer on the family farm and move out of our apartment into a home we love.

For the first time in a long time, I feel free to dream big, particularly with regard to our family's farm and what we want to do with it. Here is a list of things I want to make happen on our farm and home over the next several years.

  1. A really awesome outdoor swing…or three.
  2. A new house across from my parents.
  3. Flower boxes on the porch. 
  4. A large vegetable garden.
  5. Several fruit trees that produce the kind of fruit you actually want to eat.
  6. A nice grilling area in the back yard.
  7. Egg laying chickens and a nice chicken coop for them to live in.
  8. A really amazing craft room.
  9. A workshop for Brad.
  10. A workout space. 
  11. A playroom for kids.
  12. Sliding chalkboard doors for said playroom.
  13. A really comfortable guest room with a day bed. 
  14. A mud room.
  15. Kids bedrooms that they actually want to spend time in. 
  16. Wine bottle chandelier.
  17. A covered arena with deep sand for riding. 
  18. An 8 stall barn with a tack room, office, wash stall and feed room. 
  19. Washer and dryer in the barn for horse laundry.
  20. An outdoor dog kennel. 
  21. Kid's playground.
  22. Outdoor gardening table.
  23. A home office that promotes overall wellness. There's a treadmill desk and fitness ball chair I'm drooling over. 
  24. Excellent storage space.
  25. A good homework station for kids. 
  26. An overall theme of country/vintage/rustic.
  27. A kitchen with in wall ovens.
  28. A kitchen island. 
  29. A large and functional pantry. 
  30. A cozy reading nook.
  31. An adorable kids bathroom. I'm feeling a rubber duck theme.
  32. A very dog friendly home. 
  33. Rescued barn cats. 
  34. Tables made out of whiskey barrels cut in half.
  35. A chalkboard menu board for the kitchen. 
  36. A dog wash station in the mud room. 
  37. A horseshoe inlaid to the wood floor right when you walk in the front door. 
  38. A cork board calendar. 
  39. An herb garden.
  40. One of those awesome multi directional showers. 
  41. A kid friendly guest house for people to stay in for fun or the night before a horse show. 
  42. Weekly riding lessons taught on the farm. (Not by me.)
  43. A place to screen outdoor movies. 
  44. Fruit bushes and vines. 
  45. A treehouse on the property.
  46. Tractor and haybaler.
  47. Fully equipped for dressage, jumping and trail.
  48. A calm, kind horse to ride.
  49. Automatic waterers.
  50. Effective insurance policy. 
  51. High premium placed on safety. 
  52. A scholarship program available for young riders. 
  53. A judging team. 
  54. Young rider involvement in the AMHA horsemastership program. 
  55. Young rider involvement in 4-H
  56. Large library of references for all of farm happenings.
  57. Wide variety of activities for horse lover.
  58. Communal tack and riding clothing to save people money. 
  59. Barn members that play an active roll in fundraising. 
  60. All animals receiving the highest standard of care. 
  61. Van available for carpooling to events.
  62. A reward system to motivate young riders to do well in school.
  63. A heavy wood dining room table that can hold those I love comfortably. 
  64. A decent amount of artwork on display.
  65. Comfortable rocking chairs.
  66. A large front porch. 
  67. A beautiful staircase. 
  68. A tire swing (and yes, I know I already mentioned a swing, but I really love swings!)
  69. Canned food to help to contribute to sustainable living.
  70. Rustic signage.
  71. Decor created with love. 
  72. Rental cottage.
  73. A pool.
  74. High ceilings in the house.
  75. A space to hula hoop in. 
  76. Color throughout the house. 
  77. A library.
  78. A really cool looking bookshelf. 
  79. A safe area for horses who need to rest.
  80. An enclosed round pen.
  81. Hot walkers.
  82. Dutch doors in the barn.
  83. A cupola in the barn.
  84. A functional hayloft. 
  85. A tack room with excellent organization.
  86. A locker room for riders.
  87. A display area to celebrate the accomplishments of barn members.
  88. Community involvement of barn members.
  89. A nice truck and trailer to travel in. 
  90. A sliding barn door somewhere in the house.
  91. Recycled pieces incorporated into the garden.
  92. Wooden feed bins. 
  93. Alternative exercise classes for riders.
  94. The possibility of hosting a wedding or other big event. 
  95. Horseshoes worked into the decor.
  96.  A potting table.
  97. High ceilings in the barn.
  98. Comfortable observation area of the riding areas. 
  99. Trails to ride on.
  100. Horseshoe wall of fame from horses of my past. 
What are your dreams for your future home or current home?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New Beginnings: I'm SO EXCITED

My before picture. Looks like I have some work to do.  
I haven't posted in a few days, since I spent the weekend getting to know my new coworkers and simultaneously celebrating the end of summer. Brad and I also embarked on the quieter celebration of taking joy in the many new beginnings we have happening in the next few weeks.

Tomorrow is my first day working for Campbell County Public Schools as Brookneal Elementary School's newest inclusion Special Education teacher. I've never been so grateful to be anywhere. I have already begun making friends at my new school. The other Special Ed. teacher, Carisa, has taken the time to help clean out my classroom, go over the schedule with me, and give me information about my students. One of the second grade teachers, Beth, who is also new, has proven to be one of the nicest people I have ever met. I keep thinking about it and wondering how it is I got so lucky.

I have decided that with the start of a new job, now is also a good time to start a new workout routine. I've picked P90X2 and while I'm a little terrified, I'm also looking forward to it. I'm not thrilled with my body right now, and I hope that with this, a slightly healthier diet, rock climbing and a reduction to the stress in my life will get me back where I want to be, particularly in terms of my overall health.

Last week, Brad and I put down a deposit for our new puppy, a female sheltie, who is set to be born in the next few weeks. We will get to bring her home just in time for my birthday, which we are very excited about. Today we went and picked up a few small supplies we need to make her feel at home.

I recognize that these are small things, and that this is not one of my more exciting posts. But my goal for this blog is to promote happiness, wellness and celebrate everyday farm life. These are the things that have had me smiling for days, and those are the things worth sharing.