Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Yes, I still live here, and No, I'm not home for long. :)

"You still live here?" "Are you done traveling for awhile?" Haha. Those are the top two questions I've been asked since we returned home Friday. For those that follow me on Facebook/Instagram, you know that we've just been gone for a couple weeks on vacations. We started out in the Black Hills with family and ended up in Denver with some of my childhood besties for a little reunion. It's been a satisfying few weeks. A good reprieve from the hustle and bustle of busy family life. But it's been really good to be home. 

You know, being a teacher is a different cat. Especially when it comes to vacations. We do a few weekend getaways during the school year, but there isn't a lot of wiggle room for trips unless I want to take days unpaid (I wouldn't recommend it). So once ball is over, we tend to pack in the adventures until it's back to the grind. Honestly, while it is definitely busy, it makes me appreciate my home and this town that much more when I return. It's a good balance for us, and it works out for our lifestyle in this season of life we are in. I couldn't imagine doing the traveling we've done this year if our kids were still little. Back then, get togethers consisted of going to one couple's house and letting the kids play in the basement while we played cards and had a few drinks. Now, I'm lucky if my kids are around when we get together at someone's house. ;) 

As I was visiting my grandma today, we chatted about how life just flies. One minute, your toddlers are hanging from your leg, and the next, you are sending them to high school and teaching them how to drive. This stage of life is by far my favorite. I love their independence (and ours), but I also love watching them turn into little adults with opinions and passions of their own. It's satisfying to me to watch them take the things we've taught them and apply them to life. It's also scary. Very scary. I know that kids make mistakes, and I'm trying to prepare myself for how to handle those as they come too. Nevertheless, we are enjoying the ride. 

I sent Jae to Power Connection this morning for a week, and tomorrow I'll send Sawyer to Inspiration Hills for a few days. And in a few weeks, football and volleyball will start, and we will be gearing up for a new school year. It's all happening so quickly! 

Here has been our summer in pictures thus far:

Jaedyn Freshman (technically 8th grade) Softball 

Carter- 6th grade Little Warrior baseball

Strawberry picking 2018

Trying to fit in our monthly Christmas dates is proving to be harder than we thought :/- June Luverne Drive In Date

Family picture at Mt. Rushmore

Hiking afternoon

Lots of card games on vacation

Dad and I at Custer State Park

Dan's favorite part was the UTV

Mt. Rushmore

The kids with dad

In Deadwood at the Adams Museum- They play the part well. :)

Jenny Gulch at Lake Pactola

Sawyer cliff diving

Gaining a little courage from Uncle Colin- This picture is the sweetest

My entirely too brave for her own good daughter. Had to jump just right.......

He did it!!! So so proud of him!

Wildlife loop at Custer State Park

Buffalo

Bear Country was a favorite for sure!

Next up- Denver to with these ladies! First item on the docket- Biking to the taco bar!

Bronco stadium tour 

In his element

Beautiful views from our hike in Breckenridge

The first of many breaks on this hike. Oof

This picture doesn't do justice the beauty of making it to the top, but it was worth losing my breath for 2 days. ;)

Real life photography at it's finest. Probably making dad jokes or something....

I can't put into words the meaning of this beautiful almost 30 year friendship. I love these women and their hearts. Feeling very blessed to be able to foster this relationship into our adult hood.

We have a little country to us---maybe only 2%, but it's there.

Annual boating day and celebrating one of the finest- Melissa Marie. Your birth is definitely a blessing to me. :)

Spending a couple weeks at home now. Then heading to RFKC for a week, and an Ozark trip at the end of summer to launch us into the school year. I will be ready for a schedule when I need to have one, but for now, I'm enjoying all the adventures! Happy Tuesday friends!! Enjoy this sunshine without the humidity!!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Happy Summer and How I am Making Time for Me

Hey guys!
It's officially summer in the 51250! Well actually, it's officially been summer for 8 days, but that's besides the point. As per usual, we've dove into summer feet first into ball games, ball games, and more ball games. 14 and counting this week to be exact. Jae and Carter are realizing quickly how little of a summer "break" they are actually getting between camps and lifting and  practices and games, but I think that nevertheless, they are enjoying a break from school. My boys are at VBS this week which has given me a little more peace and quiet than I'm used to, and while it's very nice to spend some time on me, it feels a little awkward and hard to navigate. I have no idea how I'm going to handle having an empty nest. It's super weird.

Anyways, I'm sitting out on my deck this morning with a mimosa (gasp), some chill music, and my laptop with an itch to write. It's something I never make time to do like I want to. I'm hoping to change that this summer. It really makes me happy. You know, when I was diagnosed with depression a few years ago, I remember my doctor telling me that I needed to now more than ever find ways to take care of myself- that medication was only part of the solution. I needed to find things that solely make ME happy. Like every other busy mom and dad in the world with two full time parents in the home and kids in all of the activities, it is easy to get caught up into everyone else's schedule and forget that we need to do things to take care of ourselves DAILY- not "once in awhile", not "sometimes", not every month. EVERY DAY. I know that seems extreme. Believe me. I remember thinking, "Okay....seems like you are a little out of touch with how this adulting/parenting gig works, Doc."

Turns out, she was dead serious. But I promise it's not as "out of touch" as I originally believed. It doesn't have to be a weekend away, a ladies' night out, or an evening of binge watching Netflix (although ALL of those things can be a part of your self care routine at some point). No, it simply meant, setting aside a reasonable amount of time for myself every day. That could be an early morning walk with my mom. A bath. A half hour to read my book. Listening to my favorite station on Pandora. Running to my favorite coffee place for my favorite drink. A bottle of the good wine to share with my husband at supper. Lighting a candle. Writing a blog post. ANYTHING that makes you remember that you are not defined by any single title you are called (mom, wife, teacher, insert title here...). First and foremost, my name is Mandi, and before I was all of these things, I was my own person. Sometimes I forget that.

As our school year was winding down, I realized that I was in some major need of TLC for my soul. I was breaking doctor's orders by not doing something for myself every day. Some days I was, but even on those days, it felt like a chore. I needed to regroup and get my brain back in line with my heart. So of course, summer came along and problem solved right? Wrong. Believe it or not, even a flexible schedule won't guarantee you peace and happiness unless you go searching for it. Darn. So I've been working on that in the nooks and crannies of our already busy June. I'll tell you a little secret. Come closer. (They tell you that teachers have the summers "off", but that's a little misleading. Do we have a more flexible schedule? Sure thing. And I promise you that if you ask any teacher, para, administrator, daycare provider, etc....time off to regroup and remember why you went into that field in the first place is necessary if you don't want to burn them out.) Anyways, that's another conversation entirely. So even though we've still been super busy, I've been creating my own little self care plan, and I thought I'd share it here because you don't have to be a teacher or have your summer off or be diagnosed with depression and anxiety to enjoy the perks of a little self care. Even if you can't or don't want to use my ideas, they may give you a little nudge to remind yourself to take some time for you in whatever way that looks to you. :)

One of the things I love to do in the summer is read. I never get the chance to do a lot of it for fun, so summer is a time to get out the book ideas I've been jotting down for 9 months and start reading! One of the books I started reading at the encouragement of a friend was Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. She's an entrepreneur mama (don't be scared. You don't have to be selling anything to enjoy her book. I'm not....although if you do, she's a great inspiration for you boss mamas too!). Her book is all about throwing away the lies women believe about themselves, giving us the power to leave our "I can'ts" at the door and take control over our lives. It was a refreshing drink of water that didn't let me wallow in my self pity, but rather reminded me that no one else is going to care about my dream life more than myself. No motivational quote or story can make me happy until I do the hard work to make it happen. It was a great start of the summer book for me, and actually aligned well to some of the other things I'm doing this summer too. Go get it. Read it. Highlight it. Live it.

Also, Rachel has a podcast called the Dais podcast. A lot of it is geared toward the business minded, but there are a lot really awesome nuggets for the rest of us that are worth searching for. The best part? A lot of them are 15 minutes or less, so you can listen to them in the car when you are running errands or picking up/dropping off your kids at ball practice. She has this one that is called "Do These 5 Things Every Single Day to Change Your Life", and it is literally less than 15 minutes. One of those "things" she is referring to is to keeping a gratitude journal and writing down 10 things Every.Single.Day that you are grateful for. These should be very specific to the day you are in- not vague like- my husband, my kids, my home. While those are great things to be thankful for, they are kind of a cop out, and they kind of defeat the purpose of writing them in the first place. The purpose is to search for happy in your day. It is almost impossible to be anxious or down if you are making it a priority to find your 10 happy things. It's been a really positive addition to my daily routine.
Gratitude Journal

The other thing that I'm doing this month is participating in this group called "Ordinary Magic" started by one of my favorite bloggers, Kelle Hampton, of Enjoying the Small Things or Etst on Instagram. It's supposed to be a class that is soley focused on us as women and our dreams. What we want out of life. And how to keep that at the forefront of our minds in the middle of our crazy, busy lives. It's a community that has been such a blessing even within this first week- a great reminder that I am not alone in my thoughts or the stumbling blocks that are preventing me from getting there. We've been doing some explorations this week that are preparing us for the fun ones to come. In order to do that though, we need to sift through some of the hard parts of ourselves to make room for the things we want in our lives. I've reflected a lot on what holds me back in life, and too be honest it's been a truly eye opening experience. I've even had the opportunity to name my inner critic (her name is Susan by the way. Not after a particular critic in my life, but because telling her off is so satisfying. ;) ). It's been a great way to keep my mind and soul in check. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.

For those of you who have any varying level of anxiety and/or depression, I'd dare bet that you have certain times of the year when one or the other is activated ever so slightly higher than other parts of the year. For me- anxiety tends to take over the nine months of the year I'm in school, and if I don't have a handle on self-care, depression can take over pretty heavily in the summer when I have more time to think. The problem has been that I've been allowing my inner critic to run the show for far too many moments, and I'm realizing that it has been clouding my happy for many years. In order to prevent that, I need to continue to make time for me. I need to acknowledge that my critic is there, and then move on in spite of her. She's never going to go away, but knowing how to keep her at bay will be a vital piece of the puzzle to keeping the depression/anxiety away as well.

I'm not going to spend so much of my time setting lofty goals and aspirations. Instead I'm going to settle for being aware of my inner critic. Grab hold of the things that I want in this life. The things that make me happy. The things that I need to do because I'm a mom and a wife and a teacher, and I'm going to just do the next right thing. Whatever that means for me. And when I forget to do that, I'm going to give myself grace, brush off my knees, and move onward. I have to stop waiting for the next break, the next bit of relief, or I'm going to spend my life wishing all of it away. It's okay to be excited for things to come, but I can't forget that there is good in this day. Today is a day to be thankful for. The cliche that "not every day is a good day, but there is good in every day" is absolutely true. My aim is to find that every day. To make time for myself every day. To find balance in all parts of my life, even when summer ends and a new school year begins.

Strive to find some "ordinary magic" in your life. What does self-care look like to you? Find it. Embrace it. Be okay with it looking differently than another woman's self care. The best thing we can do is be a beacon of grace and love and kindness to each other.

I'm going to sign off with a couple of affirmations I've made for myself.

"I believe in the me I'm becoming."
"I choose to be happy."
"I love my life."


I'll keep saying them, even when I don't believe them. Even when I truly feel they are the biggest liars. This is how I choose to make peace in my life. I hope you are finding yours, and if you are having trouble, talk to me. Or your mom. Or your best friend. Or your husband. Or your therapist. Or anyone you trust. One of the best antidotes to breaking through your stumbling blocks is to plow through them with someone who has been there or is going through junk too. Happy Friday friends! Enjoy your weekend!! Hope to see you back in this space soon!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Wanderlust

wan·der·lust
ˈwändərˌləst/
noun
  1. a strong desire to travel.

Okay. Okay. So this is who I am, but for now those desires will have to settle for the Black Hills, Hidden Acres, Minneapolis, and Kansas City. Maybe they aren't treks across the globe, but for now, they are doing a good job of filling up some memory buckets and creating permanent laugh lines, creating new friendships, and keeping other friendships alive. We are in survival mode folks. T-11.5 days left of the school year, and I am so ready. Ready for ball caps and flip flops, slow mornings, spending June on the diamond, at the swimming pool, on the lake, and on my back porch reading my books. I'm ready for memory making in the Black Hills, Denver, and loving up children at Royal Family Kids Camp for the 5th year in a row. Yes, it's time to relax and give my teacher brain a little rest. Maybe I'll even cross off some of my bucket list items- teach myself photography perhaps? Learn how to play the guitar? Start a garden or blog more?! Stay tuned (probably for disappointment...but the thought makes me happy. hahahaha) I'll catch you up to speed on all of our happenings this past month. It's been busy to say the least, and we are finally happy to be home for awhile despite having such a great time away. Now we dive into birthdays, graduations, and yardwork! Hurray!

Cashing in on some Christmas present fun! We did AR Workshop for both moms for Christmas, and it was such a fun time! A little bit of a splurge, but you walk away with some killer decor and a great time!




Easter



Dan became part of the RFK leadership team this past Fall, and one of the opportunities I got to experience was heading to the Black Hills to spend a weekend with the team. While they planned camp, I took advantage of the alone time to do some soul searching, coffee drinking, and podcast listening. Some of my favorite things. Then off to Deadwood we went to have some fun! A quick 36 hours, and a very white knuckle drive home, but it was worth it!







As a TIC sponsor (JR RCYF) sponsor for church, I got to attend the Middle School retreat this year. This is hands down Jaedyn's favorite place, so it was fun to see it through her eyes and watch her enjoy it. It reminds me of being in middle school when I experienced all this fun stuff in church. Lots of fun times bonding with the girls and getting to know her friends in a different light. Blessed.

Jaedyn's spring dance- Another night of getting ready in every room of the house with 4 of your friends. Lots of bobby pins, curling wands, make up brushes, and perfume. Oh yeah, and all the moms and a very sweet aunt who came to join in the fun! The cherry on top was the sweet car Dan's boss let him borrow to take her to the dance in.....we got a bonus date out of the deal as well! Yay us. :)



Annual shopping weekend in the cities. With growing children and busier schedules, this time with the four of us is spread few and far between. Always cathartic and therapeutic. Minus leaving three pairs of shoes, 4 necklaces, 3 pairs of earrings, and my favorite hat.......Alzheimer's much... :( At least they found the shoes.



Finally, Kansas City! We had a wonderful time with some of very good friends. We stayed in the most perfect little cottage in the most picturesque part of the city. We dreamed about buying our own homes there that had that kind of charm. We enjoyed a little Top Golf, a stroll through the Plaza, an art museum, dining at Coopers Hawk winery, playing cards while laughing until our sides hurt, and a slow morning with my book, a bagel stop, a surprise invasion by what seemed like 47 Star Wars characters in an outside seating area next to a fountain, and all amongst the perfect 90s music playlist. Perfect relaxing weekend for sure. 











Currently I am locked in my room while six twelve year olds run amok in my home shooting each other with nerf guns and swearing up and down there is an intruder on our front lawn. Oh to be a kid again. Here's to conquering another month of shenanigans! Happy weekend friends!