Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Great Wolfswinkel Steak-off

Schedule on any typical day can be as follows:
6:30- Wake up for the day
7:30- Get kids and myself to school
4:30- Run errands
5:15- pick up Jae from practice
5:30-get everyone fed quickly
6:00- Sawyer practice
7:00- Pick up Sawyer from practice, Get Carter to practice
8:15-Pick up Carter from practice, get Jaedyn to other practice
9:30- Pick up Jae from practice
9:30-11:00- dishes, pick up, collapse on the couch exhausted

Our days are chaotic and busy, and I love them most of the time. It reminds me to be thankful that we live in the same town all of our activities are in right now. I'm still able to throw in a load of laundry in between my chauffeuring duties, and I'm blessed to have a husband who is home at night to tag team pick up and drop off schedules, and I know that 10 years from now, I'll be a little sad that these moments are coming to an end, and my kiddos won't need me to do as much for them. So while I'm exhausted, my heart is still full. It just means that we don't get to have as much quality time as we used to when they were younger. Our days are a different busy now. Ones that don't have us all under the same roof as often, so when we can make family night happen, we are all in.

Dan and I had been talking about doing a family "cook off" for Valentine's Day. We don't really buy into the holiday in a couple sort of way, but we love using it as an extra day to show our kiddos how much we love them. However, last week, we got an e-mail saying that Jae had an extra show choir practice, and Carter had basketball practice anyways, so we knew that the evening would be short-lived. Dan e-mailed me on Friday asking if we had plans, and surprisingly we had none!

Dan came home, and we told the boys to get into the truck, so we could pick up Jae. She hopped in the truck, a little baffled at what we were doing. When we told her it was family night, and we were headed to the grocery store to pick up some grub, she rolled her eyes (typical teenager behavior), but then ever so slightly, a small smile curled up on her face, and I knew that she was just as excited as we were, even though by teenager law, she had to pretend like it was ridiculous. So we headed to the store to grab our steaks. We had decided earlier that day that we were going to all do a different steak marinade/rub, cook them all, and cut them up so each of us could try each others. Everybody had to pick their own, help get the ingredients needed for them, and put them together at home.

She's thrilled. I promise. :)

Putting them together was so fun. The kids were very serious about doing it correctly and didn't want to screw them up. Music was blaring, kids were laughing, and I was in my happy place. Dan and I were talking earlier that day, and he was saying how just for a moment the other night, he found himself tearing up at how grateful and happy he was to be right where we were in life. We are busy and our lives are chaotic and full, but we are so grateful to both have jobs that allow us to live in this place. Grateful that our kids are happy and healthy. Thankful that we have amazing family and friends to do life with, and sometimes that is overwhelming in the heart hurts so good kind of way. The little things ARE the big things, and so one free night at home, making supper together, dancing, watching a movie, and laughing was like hitting the jackpot. My family. My heart. My home.

If you are interested in having your own family steak-off, here's the website where we got all of our recipes.


Sunday, January 29, 2017


I love Sundays because they recharge my batteries for the week to come. It's the day on which I practice the most self care in the form of relaxation, reflection, reading, cuddling, writing, and being with my family. Today I took a warm bath, and vowed to finish the book I started about 3 months ago- Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. 

I stayed in there, bubbles to my chin, draining and rewarming the water over and over until finally, I turned the last page. This book really spoke to my soul and had so many parallels to my life over the past few months-really since we moved here. Her words breathed life into the jumbled up thoughts in my head, and she put on paper exactly my sentiments- that life is meant to be shared with your tribe and lived as a marathon, not as a sprint. The world teaches us how to be more efficient, multitask better, be successful, be thinner, be a better parent, really the list goes on, and we buy into it. I buy into it. And I think that a lot of my depression and anxiety stems from this access to everyone else's lives via social media. The temptation to compare our lives to everybody else's is more prominent than ever before, and instead of giving me inspiration to go out and do something with my wild and precious life, it paralyzes me. Too many options. Not enough time. Not enough money. Too many things on the to do list. So many voices being thrown at me, suffocating me and inevitably causing me to shut down and do nothing. 

What a loss for me. For my husband. For my kids. To have a mother that is so preoccupied with doing what the world tells her she "should" do that she forgets that she already knows what she needs to do. Those orders come from within herself. Not from Facebook or Instagram or her friends or her neighbors. Not from the news or a magazine article, but from inside that still voice in her own head. I'm not sure about your voice, but mine is pretty consistent. Be present. Not perfect. Show up right now. Not when the laundry's done or when you're 15 pounds lighter or when the snow is gone. Show up now. Live your life now. Say yes to things that make you happy and things that fill your soul. Say yes to spontaneity and to anything that makes you present, and say no to the things along the way that only benefit the status quo. We have say no to make room for the "yes". Sometimes our biggest accomplishments aren't career related, sometimes success is being true to yourself. Sometimes it is held in the hands of the babies you are raising. It's about connection and relationships and humanity, and remembering that we are all God's babies. That we were put on this earth to love others. It's about realizing that our worth comes from being a child of God and that it has nothing to do with what career path you chose or whether you are a size 2 or what's in your bank account. It's all heart baby.

"It's about realizing that what makes our lives meaningful is not what we accomplish, but how deeply and honestly we connect with the people in our lives, how wholly we give ourselves to the making of a better world, through kindness and courage.....I'm finished hustling for perfect. It didn't deliver what they told me it would." -Shauna Niequist

Today was another day of self-care, but it came in the form of saying yes to my children. To walking outside and breathing the fresh air and watching them hold their own Olympics on the hill their grandpa made. To listening to my middle little say, "You can't call me Carter mom. This is the Olympics. My name is Blaze." To watching my daughter pull my boys on the sled with the four wheeler, and beaming with pride when, standing next to my mom, we both said how she's definitely growing up. But instead of feeling a sting of sadness, my heart swelled with pride. I don't do a lot of things right. Some days I sit on the couch scrolling through my phone, and doing nothing because that is self care for me once in awhile, but I now know that self care comes in many forms.  Last night it looked like dolling myself up and jumping in the car with my husband and six other women, and belting out Def Leppard, Bruno Mars, and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with the Johnny Holm band all night. Friday it looked like a whispered prayer of thanks that Missy and I weren't hurt in a fender bender, and in the next breath pleading with God that all the people in the other four or five cars were alright too. Self care is a great many things. None of them are wrong. All of them have a place. Balance is where I find the most renewal and the most inspiration. I spent the better part of the last few years hiding under my covers and inside my feelings, and that's not the kind of self care that's making me better, so I'm finding alternatives. I'm liking what I'm finding. :) 

Happy Sunday friends!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Spring in the middle of winter. Basketball tournaments. Family cookie bake offs. Tru TV's Impractical Jokers. Lazy Sundays. Wallyball. Get togethers. Wrestling meets. Sunshine. Good books you can't put down. Harry Potter marathons. The satisfaction of seeing thousands of colors organized into different compartments. Middle of the week dates with my husband. Houses that stay clean for more than five minutes. Nerf gun wars. Listening to my boys giggle and get along. Being the last to let go of a hug. Littles that cuddle up next to me on the couch. Listening to my kids make up ideas for things we can do as a family. Snow days....I mean ice days. Board games. Puzzles. Making plans for winter so that you have something to look forward to. Googling vacation homes to dream up plans for summer. Thursday nights with my girls. Fireplaces. Finding enough change in the nooks and crannies of my car to get a peppermint mocha from the McDonald's drive through. Declaring Sunday nights- Appetizer Sundays. Watching play off games and cheering for a team that's not yours because yours didn't make it. Listening to my middle little talk football with his dad and realizing just how much knowledge about the subject he has. Watching my daughter turn into a lady. Fresh from the dryer laundry. Initiating my baby into the "Four Eyes Club". Realizing January is more than half over.

Making good on my goals of taking care of myself. Definitely taking it in baby steps. I'm starting with being grateful. Loving my tribe. Giving myself grace. Finding happy moments in stressful situations. One of my best friends, whom I love and adore and very much trust more than most people, introduced me to a few supplements that she thought would target/help with my depression and anxiety. I've been taking them for about three and a half weeks now, and I'm already noticing so much. My anxiety is decreasing. I'm feeling a lot more of my emotions as opposed to shutting down. I have more energy to get through the day. No more falling asleep at 7:00 when I'm relaxing with my family. I'm sleeping better. I don't feel like I'm retaining much water. I used to be hungry all.the.time. Now I feel satisfied during the majority of the day and usually only eat when it's time for a meal. Weekends are difficult still, but overall I'm noticing a lot of positive changes which have trickled into other parts of my life more than I thought it would.

This time of the year is hard. My regular anxiety and depression usually get compounded by Seasonal Depression, but I'm not noticing the sting so badly. I guess the biggest thing I notice is that life is more colorful again. That may seem like a weird observation, but if you are one that has suffered from any form of depression, you will understand that in the darkest parts of this disease, life just loses its color. Everything seems dark and dreary and gray. When that weight is lifted a bit, color starts to seep in through the cracks. I've missed that.

Obviously, it's nowhere near perfect, but I'm taking all that I can and running with it. These are my happies, and the fact that I can see them clearly--and in the middle of January nonetheless, is more than I could ask for.

Happy Thursday friends! One more day til the weekend. Woot Woot!!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reflections

As each year draws to a close, I am faced with two lines of thought. Reflection of the year that is past, and the determination for the year that is to come. This past week I've been remembering the good, the great, and yes, even those not so wonderful moments that this year had to bring. Last year, I wrapped up my blogging year reminded that some years are years of survival. Some are years of growth. Some are years of finding yourself, and some are all of those things. I am realizing that I am ending yet another year where I feel like I haven't found the answers to the things I'm looking for. I've spent another year in a predominantly numb state. Gliding through life on autopilot waiting for my life to begin. Last year I said that this wasn't a tragedy, but I think that I was wrong. It's incredibly tragic. To be numb while living your life isn't really living at all. I've trained my brain and my body to be so resilient that I'm losing the ability to feel. I thought that perhaps if I shared my story, I'd be able to find those connections with others or draw myself closer to people, but that hasn't been the case at all. I still find it amazing to use this platform to share my story and to be a shameless truth teller about this journey of life that I am on, but it hasn't torn down the walls that I've created to survive. I feel more disconnected this year than I ever have, and as I've been reflecting this week, I've found myself asking profound questions that really only I have the answer to.

How do I beat this disease? How do I come out on top above the depression, above the anxiety? How do I stop it before it permanently leaves me broken? I'm going to go a little cliche on you for a moment. What if the old adage is true? What if life is what you make it? I am and have always been in the driver's seat of my life. I have also, however, allowed my anxiety and/or depression (depending on the day) dictate where I'm going for the last 2 years. Hear me out. I definitely know that there are moments where depression and anxiety can take over your entire being. Where you can physically not get out of bed. Where you are too paralyzed to move. Those feelings are real, and they are valid. But I've noticed that they are also fed by my inner self talk or lack there of. I've stopped fighting for myself. I've let myself stop caring, and because of that, I have stopped living. I have changed the trajectory of my life just by choosing not to get back into the driver's seat.

What this year has taught me is that nothing will change if I don't start fighting back. Somehow, I need to be numb and paralyzed less. I need to use all of my emotions. That starts with connecting to humanity again with my heart and with my head. Reflecting daily and sometimes more than once a day. It means I need to stop using things like social media, alcohol and sleep as forms of medication to step out of my life, and start finding tools that will help me step INTO my life.

This brings me to next year. I used to be a big resolutioner, and then it became too much pressure for me and so I stopped. I feel like resolutions are just goals for the new year, and the reason they get such a bad rap is because people have goals but no real game plan of how to make them happen. Part of what stopped me from carrying any of my resolutions out was the fear that I would fail. What I know now is that I will fail. Probably a lot of times. But what I need to keep in mind is that the only time I can't pick myself back up is when I'm dead. So really, I have an infinite amount of chances to be who I want to be. Let me emphasize that I want to be....not just become. Life has to be a balance of striving for something and loving exactly where you are.

My aspirations for the next year are to step back into my life. To be present for my life. To connect to my tribe. To feel all the feelings. To taking care of my body. To giving myself grace. To surrounding myself with positive people and positive thoughts. To reflecting regularly. To stop waiting for my life to begin.

Here are some of my favorite parts of 2016.
Playing wally ball! I don't have a picture of my new team, but I love this sport.

Watching my boys wrestle. This was the last year both of them did it. This year, Sawyer is wrestling and Carter is playing basketball.

Johnny Holm band with my people

Jaedyn and her friends started a drama club and performed a small production of the Velveteen Rabbit. This is where I began seeing 

Jae's first middle school play: The Music Man

Surprising Dawn for her birthday and enjoying a Crab Broil

Sean's first prom

Shopping weekend with the girls

First fire of Spring

Mud Volleyball for the Quasqui

Winery with the Valentines and Mulders

Florida with my family


First ocean sunrise

Bachelorette party in Kansas City!

Royal Family Kids Camp

Standing beside Jenni on her wedding day

Ozarks in the Fall with some of my favorite people

Who swims in October? We do!

Road tripping to Cedar Rapids for State Volleyball

Watching all my kids' sports

Cutting down our Christmas Tree

RFKC Dinner and Dessert Auction

Surprising my mom with tickets to Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and Jordan Smith for her birthday

Making time to see each other despite busy schedules

First Christmas at the new house

Here's to jumping into 2017 with hope, grace, vulnerability and love. Happy New Year to you and yours.