Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Hey guys! I was hoping to blog a bit during break, but I just never made the time to do it. We enjoyed our Christmas as a family. Dan took off the week we were home, so it was very much a family staycation. It was a nice balance of family parties, get togethers with friends, and our family overnighter to Sioux Falls, but we also had a few days to just be home and enjoy nothing on the agenda. Those days are few and far between, so I'll take them any time I can get them!

I pray your Christmas was a great one and that you were able to relax a bit and connect with friends and family. It's been a hot minute since I've been on here. We've enjoyed the finale of the year pretty well. It's been busy, but we've finally figured out how to make it enjoyable instead of stressful. We spent lots of time with family and friends. I particularly love the end of the year because it means lots of my friends come home for the holidays. I was able to spend Thanksgiving break with my childhood besties again, third year in a row. Many other friends have come home for Christmas, and I also found time to reconnect with some friends closer in distance for lunches, dinners, and coffee dates. Quality time with my people is one of my love languages for sure.

We also spent time watching Carter play basketball these past few months. He will continue to do that in January and February. It was a little different with Jaedyn deciding not to play basketball this year. She didn't have AAU, but instead filled her time managing the boys basketball team. She really enjoyed being able to watch them play. She will also manage the wrestling team for the next few months. Jae begins AAU volleyball, and Sawyer is in wrestling this winter, so we will have full weekends from now through March. I absolutely love this time of year for that reason, despite the busy schedule.

Another thing I love about this time of year is that it always feels like a fresh start. I feel like this in January and again when school starts in September. I know that you can always change for the better any time of the year, but it's always a good reminder that we can start fresh and shake off the negative in our lives. While I don't do resolutions, I do reflect on what changes I want to work towards in the coming year. This year God just kept whispering the word "self" into my heart. It wasn't until this week that I realized that giving yourself a "word" for the year was trending, so I guess I hopped on the band wagon without knowing it. I decided that this year was going to be the year of Self- self care, self love, self confidence, self actualization. I am going to take care of me- mind, body, and soul. What's different about this than an actual resolution you ask? Well, this comes with the knowledge that I will fail at times, but self care will ensure that I give myself grace and hop back up. I'd like to commit to a word each month that I can really hunker down on. I'm not going to make it another to do item that doesn't get checked off, but I'd like to really be intentional about taking this seriously, so I'm not giving myself a list of twelve words for the year, but rather really listen to my own heart and body and figure out what it needs from me. This month, I really want to focus on balance. I don't believe that life is black and white in any facet, so I'm going to be intentional about balancing things in my life and doing what feels right for my family and myself. This includes food, time spent at home and away, money, work, you get the picture. My hope is that this will keep my anxiety and depression at bay and lead me out of the tunnel of survival mode and into the land of the living. No more being paralyzed by fear. Baby steps, but I'm coming for ya 2018. #dontcallitacomeback

Anways, what's a blog post without some pictures? Here's what you've been missing over the last few months.
Giddy excited to hear Jen Hatmaker at Dordt College- October 26, 2017

Listening to Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman was the equivalent of coffee and pjs on the couch with a best buddy. Super blessed by them and the besties I went with. :)

Love my team- Our Halloween costumes this year were all "Idioms"
From Left to Right: It's a piece of cake, raining cats and dogs, smart cookie, wear my heart on my sleeve, hold your horses, smarty pants, and don't let the cat out of the bag. Cute right?

Substate Volleyball game- onto State!

Hanging out after our 2nd win. Onto the championship for the first time ever in Sioux Center Volleyball!

All in one week, we went from Cedar Rapids to Nebraska to celebrate Dan's cousin getting married.
Reuniting with bridesmaids and family from Jenni's wedding! Fun weekend regardless of the 20 hours spent in the car. :)

Favorite tradition- cutting down the tree

You know we posed this with the bundle of wood and the trees in the background. #werelame #lumberjackstatus

Annual childhood bestie overnighter on Black Friday! Love these ladies and our shenanigans

Saturdays watching Carter play basketball

Blessed to catch the last tournament our niece Adelle played in this year. 

School Christmas program for Sawyer

Our very first "Friendsgiving" feast. A fun night that I hope will be a tradition to carry on!

RFKC (Royal Family Kids Camp) Dinner and Dessert Auction

Church Christmas program- Only Sawyer left to participate. Makes this mama's heart a little sad.

Dance for a Cause- Jae and the girls had fun getting dolled up at our house with their moms, lots of bobby pins, curling irons, hairspray and makeup! They look so grown up here! 
Just shy of two years, but the braces are OFF

Lee and Matthew came home at Christmas, so we got to have some quality bonding time!

Our tree. Cause I like it. (Fun fact: Still haven't taken it down. Needles are dropping. Pretty sure it's dead. Kids and hubby say it's time. I say over my dead body. ;) )

Christmas at the Wolfswinkels and the ONLY family picture we took in 2017. For as many pictures as I take, this is weird for me.

This one just feels a bit magical. My kids under a comfy blanket, reading the Christmas story with twinkly lights reflecting in the background. Blessed. 

Spending some time with Grandma on Christmas Eve. I love her so.

Obligatory picture in front of the tree. 

Off for our family overnighter to Sioux Falls- Jae's choices: Shopping and Texas Roadhouse,
Carter's choices: Chuck E Cheese and Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sawyer's choices: Air Madness and the food court.

All four of us under the same roof! Merry Christmas to us. Mr. P's Friendsmas

New Year's Eve 2017- Love these girls

First wrestling meet of the year- 3rd out of 4th place. Proud of his growth, confidence, and perseverance this year!

Hoping that you are finding happy in the normal nooks and crannies of every day. Trying hard to do that over here! Excited to see where this year takes us! Lots of fun plans already for 2018. Can't wait to enjoy with all of you!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

My Favorite Color is October

You guys. The leaves. The colors. The weather. I can't even handle it. The beauty is so breath taking! October has to be my favorite color. I can't help but be in complete awe of God's handiwork every single time I look outside. We're so blessed. And yes, I still have trouble remembering that. Daily. Sometimes when I step outside, I close my eyes and listen to the trees, and I feel like God is whispering in my ear, " Hey Mandi. Stop treading water. You can swim. You've always been able to swim, so just do it. I've got you.You don't always need to be in survival mode. Stay in this moment. This one. You don't need to worry about your unbelievably never ending to do list at school. The laundry will still be there when you get around to it. The kids will be fed and happy. Just breathe this in. This moment. This feeling. This beauty. Be present."

And sometimes that's all I need to snap out of it. Other times, I remember when I'm looking at pictures or reading blogs or going for a walk. Sometimes it's when I listen to my kids laugh, or they put their head on my shoulder or when my husband takes my hand in his. I just need a lot of reminders. That's all.

Fall has delivered in not only breath taking scenery but also in moments well spent with friends and family. Busy as we may be, we are already missing volleyball and football. It came and went in the blink of an eye. So hard to believe it is over. Our varsity football and volleyball teams are both battling it out in the play-offs, and we are excited to cheer our teams on, hopefully onto the state tournaments. We've celebrated a big birthday with great friends, spent time to get to know middle schoolers on Wednesday nights as both EE and TIC sponsors, adventured down to the Ozarks for our 6th straight year of soaking up all the time we miss out on not being close enough to some of our favorite people, chaperoned nine 8th graders to the Haunted House this past weekend and feeling so very blessed our daughter trusts us to be a part of her social circle, celebrated Colin's birthday while Dan and Carter enjoyed some father son time at the Iowa/Penn State game. So many fun things in these last few weeks. And although, school has got me burnt out and stressed to the max, I'm grateful for my students and colleagues (read friends) who make it worth it to come every day. They make me laugh and always make me feel better by greeting me with giant bear hugs that can't help but make you smile. How can you be anxious when your students bring up the most beautiful questions about God and heaven during lunch time?

This too will pass. The overwhelming tides of emotion will come and go, and I'll make it through. I just need to remind myself to stop trying to "get through life" waiting for the next big thing and start enjoying every part of it. It's meant to be lived to the fullest. Even the small every day moments have things to be celebrated and enjoyed. Find your happy. I will share a little of mine.


Happy Birthday sweet friend! You are so loved.

Father son bonding


My heart.

Oh how I miss volleyball

Undefeated season! Way to go boys! Next year some of you will be Warriors!

Our beautiful chef! Love her...and her food.

Recharging our batteries

Getting in the water on an 89 degree day while NW Iowa suffered a cold and rainy 34 degrees. Another reason I will have a winter home in Florida when I retire (or one in the Ozarks if Jeff and Amanda still live there :) ).

Oh Captain my Captain

My beautiful girls

Traditional fire place photo at SugarLoaf Winery

The epitome of what this weekend was for us. Relaxing and beautiful.

Amanda's breathtaking photo of our view

Jaedyn Grace- 14

Carter Dean-11

Sawyer Keith-8

<3 <3 <3

Haunted House fun!