Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hello again!

First let me apologize for my leave of absence! It wasn't intentional, just kind of happened! I'm not trying to excusing myself as being busy, because aren't we all!? But it just seems that is the story of our life. I wanted to write, well sometimes I did, but then I'd  wonder what makes our life so much more exciting than yours, and why would you read about it?! I finally decided that if you love us, our life is just as important to you, as yours is to us. So alas, I finally decided it was time to give an update from the past 9 months!  I picked a few pictures from each month as a highlight...definitely NOT the whole picture. Here is a glimpse of us doing life in our unexpected place! 
The end of October, Collin turned now he's almost a teenager!
Lucas went on a work team, to Haiti the end of Oct. This was a selfie we sent to him. Complete with a fresh delicious chocolate chip cookie, to let him know what he was missing. We weren't able to connect with him much, but what little we could, was cherished! 
Halloween Characters-Collin: Mr. Smartypants, Bryce: TMNT, Dylan: Dr. Gudeman,
Halle: cheerleader
Our family photos were taken the beginning of November. This is one of my favorites.
This was my plate of dessert on Thanksgiving...there was 5 different kinds of pie...and how could one choose, so I had a sliver of all of them! But I did share!!
First big snow storm! 
Halle and Bryce helping me making Christmas goodies!
We enjoyed opening our Christmas presents early, before we left for Christmas in Illinois. This is a picture of  hugs all around. The kids exchanged gifts they had bought for one another!
Another of my favorite moments...all my siblings together! This is definitely a framer, and has a special place in my home!
After we got home from Christmas in IL, Lucas and Collin started preparing for their work trip to South Carolina, with A.C. Harvest Call. The trip was a first for Collin. He had a wonderful time, and talks about when he can go again.
The past few years in CT, we have had a major snowstorm on, or around my birthday. February 8th for those who want to send presents!;)  This one happened to occur the day after, so I got to spend some quality time with my hubby and kiddos! The best birthday present!
Of course, I do love flowers, and I LOVE receiving them too. My honey gave me 3 dozen roses for my birthday!
Pictured here in the middle is Lucas' Grandma Gudeman. The photo was taken on Valentine's Day. We lost her just a couple weeks later. She is sorely missed and thought of often! She was a wonderful grandma, loved dearly, and gives us another reason to look forward to heaven!
While we were back for the funeral, we had to stop at Connie's Pizza to enjoy some "real" pizza. Pizza on the east coast has only thin crust and is not nearly cheesy enough, according to my husband!
My little helper shooting birds out the window!
After being stuck inside all winter, we had a bit of spring was a warm winter day, and while we couldn't find the sandbox, the diggers worked just fine in the snow!  

Over spring break we headed to IL to help celebrate my parent's 50th anniversary. On the way, we stopped in Sandusky, OH at Great Wolf Lodge, compliments of The BarnYard.
Bryce, Halle, Collin, Dylan
We made it to mom and dad's Monday night, and had a wonderful welcoming committee!
A couch full of LOVE!
Dad and Mom with our kiddos
Tuesday night we had the dinner/party, and took family pictures too. Wednesday morning I took Lucas to the airport to fly home, and the kids and I stayed the rest of the week.
Of course, we couldn't visit IL without seeing both sides of the family. We spent Wednesday with Lucas' family. Here are all the Lucas Gudeman/Joos kiddos! It sure was great to see them too! Enjoy spending time with them when we can.
Collin                                                          Bryce
End of April brought baseball season...which was finally over the beginning of July! Both boys played the regular season, then made the All-star teams for their age group.
Me with my children on Mother's Day!
Bryce, Halle, Dylan, me, Collin
Bryce turned 9!
Lucas the kids on Father's Day
Dylan, Lucas, Halle, Collin, Bryce
Halle is my fabulous helper. She loves kids and started babysitting, helping mom's needing an extra hand. 
This is just a selfie of Dylan and me. We were swinging in the hammock one beautiful summer day!
The week of July 4th Lucas and I both took off from work as a staycation/vacation. We started the week out with projects around the house, a beach day, and just enjoying some lazy summer days. The end of the week we had planned to meet 5 other couples, three from IL and two others from CT, in Cleveland, OH. Two couples were assigned to each of the houses we rented from VRBO. Each house was in charge of a meal for one of the three nights we were together. The plan was to explore Cleveland as you wished, together or on your own. But evenings were spent visiting and enjoying the company of lifelong friends. We bunked with Phil and Beth Endress and their children. We had a great few days, ended the weekend in Akron, OH for church, and made many memories to cherish. 
At the Great Lakes Science Center with Phil and Beth

Friday we explored on our own...first stop was the James A. Garfield monument. Second stop, we met Justin and Lisa Gherian, for a hike at Bridal Veil falls.
After church Sunday, we headed back to CT, minus two children. We sent Halle and Bryce with Lucas' brother Brandon for a week in IL. The house was sure quiet with just my biggest and littlest boys around for the week. We missed the two travelers and were super happy to have every one back under the same roof again!
Look who we found! We sure missed them!
On Dylan's birthday, The BarnYard (where Lucas works) had planned their company picnic at Sonny's Place. Sonny's Place is guaranteed family fun. Not only that, but The BarnYard has built most of the buildings for them. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, and hours of entertainment! So, so much fun!  
 They sang Happy Birthday to Dylan and he got a little cupcake too!
 Hours of fun on the go-carts, zip line, arcade, bowling, mini golf, etc, etc, etc!
 When we got home, we enjoyed Dylan's homemade birthday cake and presents with just us! It's crazy to think he is 4 already. He was only 5 months old when we moved to CT! He told me that after his next birthday he will get to go to kindergarten...whoa buddy, slow down! :)
 His cake
 He had been begging for a scooter, and finally got one!
 Dylan's new baseball glove
And lastly, our new BarnYard shed!
We are loving the look of our new addition, but even more so, the emptiness of the garage!
Going forward, I will try to stay ahead of my updates...but that brings you up to today! I am home alone, as all my kids are with someone else today...with friends, having fun! I sit here enjoying the quiet. I've been texting one of my sisters in law; her telling me she tries to get out and do something with friends at least 2 times a week. She needs the social time to keep her sanity. I had to chuckle, as I sit here in my quiet house, enjoying the peace. I need downtime for my sanity. And I find it so interesting how God made us all different, and yet so perfectly us! No need to compare me to you, or you to her, but just appreciate the things that make each of us special, made in His image. How are you reflecting the Father today?
Until next time...Lots of love and hugs from CT!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October came and went...

Our October was busy, and we saw lots of familiar faces! Here are a few of the highlights!!
The first weekend in October we enjoyed hosting Steve and Betsy Endress and their girls for supper. Sorry, no pictures to prove it, but we were so thrilled they made time in their schedule to come see us! That next night we were invited to supper with a group at Maxine Bahler's. She was hosting Kenny and Mardell Dietz, and Char Dietz! We felt so special for being included, and were thankful we could spend a little time with them, as their time in Connecticut was short. We were privileged enough to get to have Char spend the night with us Saturday night! Here is Char and our kiddos before church Sunday morning...
Collin, Halle, Char, Bryce, Dylan
That weekend was also Columbus Day weekend and our kids didn't have school Monday. So, Monday morning we headed to Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts. This is the highest peak in Mass, at 3491 feet high. On this mountain is also part of the Appalachian Trail. We can now say we've hiked the Appalachian Trail, no matter that we only hiked a mile or so! :) We made a few pit stops along the enjoy the foliage, and other sights.
 Bridge of flowers on the way to Mt. Greylock
Me and Halle
Stopped to climb a rocky stream bed/falls
Lucas, Diana, Dylan Collin
Bryce, Halle
Dylan having fun throwing rocks into the water!
Next stop: Money Brook Falls (about halfway up the mountain)
He was so excited to follow the tree markings on the trail!  
view on the way up
Then we took the high road up the mountain to the summit!
hiking on the Appalachian Trail 
At the top of Mt. Greylock.
Bryce, Halle, Dylan, Collin
The pictures just can't do justice to the beauty in every direction!
We highly recommend you make a trip out next fall to enjoy the views with us!
Dylan is a model now...
One of the ladies who watched him while I was working, used the picture for advertising their Butterbraid fundraiser business!
The following weekend was the Fall Festival at The Barnyard where Lucas works. We always love an excuse to go see dad at work, and play in the buildings.
Dylan and Everett on the tractor
Collin and Dylan getting a ride on the "mule."
An amazing piece of shed delivery equipment!
The next weekend, I made a trip to IL all by MYSELF!! I had a flight voucher I needed to use before it expired, so Lucas gave me his blessing to make the trip alone, while he took care of the kids. I had such a fabulous time. Three whole days of just one bothering me in the shower, no one waking me up at 6 am. No one distracting me at church. Just me and my family! I soaked up every moment, and am so thankful for a husband who lets me go!  Friday night I arrived at Peoria Airport at 9:30. Almost everyone was there waiting for me! We headed to Mom and Dad's where a few more were waiting. I can still feel the hugs! They get me thru those days when I'm missing everyone so much. The whole weekend was spent with a smile on my could I not! We had a full weekend and barely time to fit everything in. Lucas thought I had forgotten about him because my phone calls home were few. I didn't forget, was just busy keeping up with everyone and everything. I felt like my whole weekend was smiles and laughter. So good for my soul!
Friday night arm wrestling contest at mom and dads
Saturday morning we were treated to breakfast by "Aunt" Libby, at her café in Delavan.
Janet and me
Then off to the Louise Jane open house.
My dear cousin Janet owns a business and I have been dying to be able to go to one of her open houses. Finally made it. Purchased a few things, but wouldn't all fit in my carry-on. I'll be home for Christmas, so my purchases have to wait! Saturday afternoon I took a long walk with my sister Marcia. How I love those familiar roads of home, open fields, and blue skies. Then we headed to a cow sale at TopLine Farms, Tremont. I told you, we filled up the weekend! The sale was fun to watch, and a bit amazing to hear the prices being bid! I'd never been to a cow sale, so check that off my bucket list. We were treated to a steak dinner too. The cows tasted as good as they looked! ;)
 Me and Jen and her girls, Alayna and Alli
View across the pastures. 
 Me and Jen 
$  Cows for sale!  $
Libby and Me 
Baby calves and mommas 
Saturday evening was also the Beutel Chili supper. We didn't make it in time for supper (we ate at the sale), but I enjoyed catching up with cousins, even though we were late. Sunday was a beautiful day in more ways than one. It felt so good to be able to gather and worship in the church of my childhood. There is just something about being home. Seeing those who have prayed for me and my family thru the years. They still love to see me when I'm home. Sure does warm the heart! Sunday evening Dad treated all of us to Pizza Ranch, and we enjoyed one last evening together.
Monday morning we had one more breakfast out. We headed to Libby's to raid her farm of mums and steaks, left over from the cow sale. Then I got a tour of Aunt Annette's new home in Tremont. The last few hours before I flew home were spent visiting at mom and dad's, and a quick stop in to see/say goodbye to Teresa, who had worked all day. 
Julie and some little girls Marcia babysits, plus her Emma
As I sat in the airport Monday night, waiting for my last flight, I felt some tears roll down my face. There I was, between two places I call home. The one home, where my roots go deep. Where I learned to walk, skinned my knees, learned to drive, graduated from high school, then college. Where I began my walk with my Jesus. A place that holds so many memories, some I'm sure I've forgotten. A place that no matter where I go or live, will always be home. A place filled with those faces and voices I long to see at times. A place that makes my heart smile whenever I think about it, and sometimes the tears escape my eyes because I long to be there, even if just for a moment.
And my other home, where my roots are starting to dig deep. A place that welcomed me with open arms. A place that was never on my list of places to live, but God knew I needed, to grow. God knew there were lives here that could touch mine in ways I couldn't imagine. A home where my kids skin their knees, will learn to drive, I pray will find their way to Jesus. A church that loved me even before they knew me! A place that makes my heart smile when I think of it, but the tears don't come because I long to be here, but sometimes they come because I see how God is so perfectly orchestrating my life, and I stand amazed at His work.

Sometimes it is so difficult to have two home, but I can't imagine my life without either one. Two places filled with people I love. I am doubly blessed! 

The Wednesday after I got home was Colllin's birthday! I am still in denial that my oldest son is 12. Only one more year to the teens! YIKES! 

 He asked for and got a Fitbit                           and wanted a New England Patriots cake.   
blowing out his candles
This past Saturday Lucas left for Haiti, with a group from Rockville. They are there to help with clean up/rebuilding from Hurricane Matthew that went through a few weeks ago. We have very limited communication, mainly text, so we send pictures back and forth to keep each other included in our days!
 Collin, Dylan, Me, Halle, Bryce
picture we sent dad before church Sunday morning
The boys
Sunday evening the kids and I were invited to Doug and Heidi LaPlante's for supper. We ended up carving pumpkins while we were there! So much fun!
 Elise and Halle
 Elise, Drew, Collin
 Finished products
Monday was Halloween, after school the kids and I carved our own pumpkins. Then dressed up for a night of trick-or-treating! 
 Collin, Bryce, Dylan, Me
 Collin, Bryce
all the pumpkins done
 Collin-Mr. Smartypants, Bryce-TMNT, Dylan-Dr. Gudeman, Halle-Cheerleader
The last few pictures are a few Lucas sent from Haiti. He is sending good reports. They are getting a lot accomplished, and the weather has been decent. The forecast was rain all week, but so far, while they've been working, no rain!  

 his roofing crew yesterday
That brings you up to date with the happenings here.  We are so thankful for God's continued nearness. We are looking forward to all coming home for Christmas! Until then, lots of love and hugs from CT!!