Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Letter to 2013

Dear 2013,

You were many things to many people this year. For some, you are easy to say goodbye to. You will be stashed on a shelf with other moments that would like to be forgotten or at least put away for a long time. For others, you hold memories and experiences that will be revisited often. Regardless, it's time to say goodbye and welcome 2014.

I thought about how I wanted to end this year on my blog. I thought about writing a list of all the things I've learned, and then I came upon a new post written by one of my favorite bloggers over at Enjoying the Small Things, and Kelle reminded me that we are always learning.

"Be grateful for where you are.  Always.  But look beyond.  Learn from those around you.  And when you think that you have, don't check it off as a lesson learned.  You're still learning.  You're always still learning."-Kelle Hampton

With that being said, there are a few things that this year taught me and a few things that I'm still learning. One of which that time doesn't wait for you to be ready for it to pass. It just does. We can either choose to embrace the changes, or we can spend a lot of time regretting the time we spent not being present. I know I still have a lot of work to do in the area of being a present mom, wife and friend, but I know that I'm aware of what I need to do and strive to better myself every single day.

I'm a working mom which means the time I have away from my job is about 60 waking hours a week (give or take) including 15 of those hours being time where my kids are already in bed. Subtract those hours that I spend doing things that need to be done (groceries, cleaning, laundry, cooking, errands) and time that I spend working out or taking time for myself, and I'm left with very little time in a week where I'm given 168 hours to use.

2013, you've reminded me a few times this year that time is an entity that can't be saved up. What I don't use, I lose, so it's important to spend it wisely. The fact of the matter is that our time cannot be spent in one place. It's just not feasible, even if we wanted it that way. We need to sleep. We need to earn a living. We need to pay bills, make meals, get groceries, and clean. We also need time for ourselves. Time to build and foster relationships with people-our kids, our spouses, our friends, and our families.

You've taught me that it's important to capture moments, and I have-through blogging and taking pictures, but you've also taught me that sometimes it's okay to just be in the moment. Sometimes I need to just live and breathe and experience, and it's okay not to have any proof of that.

This year hasn't held any defining moments for my family. There were no births, weddings, deaths or broken ankles in our close knit family unit, but somehow I feel like it was defining all the same. This year, I have uprooted my beliefs in everything that I grew up believing. I have spent countless hours questioning everything I think I know. I have sorted and processed while I'm in the shower, driving in my car, lying awake in the middle of the night, and I've come up with more questions than answers to tell you the truth.

I've come to the conclusion that not having answers is okay. Questioning is good. It's what challenges us and it's the place where we grow the most. Nobody grows in their comfort zone. Life is made up of good moments and hard moments, both of which are necessary in helping stretch and grow us into becoming who we are supposed to be.

And where I am is a good place. I'm finally okay with being who I am. I'm okay with not being liked by everyone and having what some would consider radical views. I'm okay with not having it all figured out. I don't have any labels that define me. I'm constantly changing, and I'm content with being just that. Me. I have a happy, healthy family. I have friends that I wouldn't trade for anything in all the world. I love my life. The good, the bad AND the ugly.

You were good to us this year, 2013. Thank you for the memories.

Carter's first wrestling home meet with Grandpa, Uncle Casey, Uncle Colin and Dad cheering him on. January '13

Our impromptu trip to Minneapolis Nickelodeon Theme Park-January '13

3rd annual Girls' shopping weekend in Minneapolis- April '13

First fire of the season- April '13

Superhero birthday party: Carter 7 and Sawyer-4  May '13

One of many four wheeler rides at Grandpa's. Mother's Day 2013

Enjoying Mark and Jess's wedding with Jenni and Jada in Des Moines- June 2013

3rd grade softball- June 2013

Carter T-Ball-June 2013

Just being themselves-Morgan Prescott and Jaedyn Summer 2013

Strawberry picking with the Wenthes- July 2013

Sibling picture on the way to Estes Park- Colorado family vacation July 2013

Celebrating the life of our sweet Melissa on her birthday- Barefoot Bar July 2013

Taking Grandpa's boat out for one last hurrah in Yankton- August 2013

Last picnic of Summer- August 2013

Our favorite vacation activity: hot tubbing- Colorado vacation July 2013

Yankton August 2013

Fall baking with Grandma- September 2013

Sawyer starts preschool with cousin Lili and best bud Lincoln Toering- September 2013

Apple orchard with the family- September 2013

Glow 5K run with Dawn and Melissa- September 2013

Dan's 28th birthday celebration with Jeff and Amanda and Casey and Amy in the Ozarks-Oct 2013

Pumpkin picking- October 2013

Mustaches-Enough said September 2013

Running in the Kinsey 1K..so proud! October 2013

Frosty returns- December 2013

A snow fort making kind of day!

Childhood wonder during the Christmas season- December 2013
Wolfswinkel Family Christmas Getaway- Sioux Falls, December 2013
Christmas Getaway to Sioux Falls, December 2013

Surprise field trip on the Minivan Express to see Christmas lights- December 2013

Thank you for reminding me that in this world, we belong to each other. Love wins. I'm ready to take on 2014. I'm ready to be a better version of me, and that is exactly how I plan to start off the new year.

Goodbye 2013!


Thank you for letting me share this space with you. Thank you for reading! Happy New Year's to you and yours! 

**Not sure why some of these photos are so pixelated! Sorry!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry and Bright

Christmas is over. My house is in a state of dissarray. Boxes are covering the floor. Little pieces of wrapping paper are getting caught on the bottom of my foot. Kids are happily enjoying their loot. I'm soaking it all in...kinda. I actually can't remember what day it is. Christmas vacation is usually my time to just unwind. I have a heck of a lot of plans for things I'd like to do: organize pictures, put them in albums, make meals for people who need them, organize a few rooms, etc..... But for now, I'm just enjoying the mess. I'm blessed with it.

Our break has been good thus far. I'm entirely thrilled that I was able to simplify my brain and my holiday season enough to just enjoy what I love, sans all the pinterest ideas I had rolling around in there. The ideas would have kicked butt, but I know that it would have stressed me out, and that is NOT what I wanted my kids to remember about this season. I wanted them to remember the magic, the lights, the traditions, the holiday movie collection, baking, cuddling together playing games, and of course baby Jesus. And that's exactly what we did.

We are so entirely blessed to have family that lives close. It may actually be the only reason I stick around the Midwest. This mama sprouted wings a LONG time ago, but knowing that my family is all here is reason enough to stick around....for now. :)

Christmas Eve was spent with my mom and Dave. Kicking off the evening was the candlelight service I grew up attending. It was very nostalgic heading back there. The people may be somewhat different, but the traditions have remained. My favorites? The "O Holy Night" solo and the candlelight singing of "Silent Night". So so special.

We finished off the evening with food, fellowship, games, and gifts. Fun was had by all.

We decided to go home and sleep in our own bed this year instead of going to my dad's to stay overnight. We always felt like we were putting people out, and there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed. We were up bright and early (read 8:00) and headed back to Sioux Center to make breakfast and spend some time with my dad, siblings and nieces.

Christmas evening was spent with the Wolfswinkels. Poor Elias got sick a few hours in, and that was the end of that. I felt so bad for the poor buddy. It seems like many people were affected with the flu this year. I hope all of you who were are on the mend! More time was spent snacking, chatting and opening gifts. Dan's mom is so creative when it comes to putting together fun games for Christmas. We enjoyed a little Tribond and earned ourselves a little cash and goodies. It was a great evening!

Finally, we had our Christmas this morning with our kiddos. It's always fun for me to reflect on our Christmas and the traditions. It's never on the same day, but our traditions are the same and we've built upon them over the years. I love to see how our Christmas is a combination of what we both grew up doing. I never did stockings or a real tree, but that was a big part of Dan's Christmases that I've grown to love tremendously as our own. In fact they are some of my favorites. We always read the story of Jesus birth from the big old Bible that never gets touched throughout the year and sang Christmas carols before opening presents. We incorporate those things too. We've also added in making a birthday cake for baby Jesus into our holiday hoopla. I'm excited to see where these traditions take us in years to come. We decided to take out individual gifts for our kids this year. We still gave them stockings, Santa gifts, and a couple of things they could share, and instead invested in an overnight getaway to make a few new memories to add to their childhood story books. For Dan, I regifted the 12 months of dates that was started back in 2012 before I broke my ankle. We're going to try this again, starting with our January date to Grand Falls casino to watch Nicholas David (former Voice finalist) sing and spend a night at the hotel. I'm looking forward to 2014!

I hope that you were able to find some merry and bright in your holiday, even if it was a tough year for you. Know that you were thought about and prayed about this year during your trials and heartache. I pray that you will find peace in 2014 and are able to grow from this year. I'll be back in a few days with a letter to 2013! Happy day after Christmas!