Monday, July 28, 2014

IT'S ALMOST TIME!

We are just 12 hours from take off, heading back to IL!  I can hardly believe it is really here.  It seems like we have been looking forward to this trip for SOOOO long.  The past couple of weeks, as it has gotten closer, I have thought more and more about the trip...what all I can pack in to 8 days?  What things do I really want to do, what people do I really want to see, and most of all will we make all the memories we can to carry us until we get to come back?  My heart has squeezed a few times thinking of going "home" and then coming HOME.  I am nervous, what I am going to feel when it comes time to say goodbye again.  Will we sit on the airplane and cry the whole way home? Will we have had enough time, so we are glad the time has come to get back to our own beds and routine? 

Yes, I am sure I will miss everyone back there again...it might open that wound again, but will that peaceful feeling of knowing we are where God wants us, keep me?  Will that peace give me the courage to step back on the airplane to come back to Connecticut?

This past Wednesday night at church we sang a farewell hymn...not something we do every week, but there was a wedding of one of our members in Ohio this past weekend, and lots of people were going to be traveling...so we sang, "All The Way My Saviour Leads". 

The first verse:   All the way my Saviour leads me; What have I to ask beside?
                           Can I doubt His tender mercy who thro' life has been my Guide?
                           Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
                           For I know, what'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well;
                           For I know what'er befall me Jesus doeth all things well.

As I sat there singing, tears rolled down my cheeks...I thought about the words, do I doubt? do I really believe He knows and cares about my every need, every worry, every care?  It was such a comfort to me to know I am in His hands.  To have no doubt in my mind, at that moment anyway, that He has brought me here and isn't going to leave me anytime soon. My faith was strong at that moment, to believe He is with me.  Collin and I have talked recently about how much God really does care...enough that He knows every hair on my head, even the gray ones I've pulled out! ;) It truly is a comfort, but I forget so easily.  As I look forward to going back home, my faith is wavering...will I be able to be strong enough for my kids? Will I be strong enough for me? 

I know we will be smothered in love, there has been a count down for the past 100+ days...we've skyped lots, and everyone has been looking so forward to seeing one another...in the flesh.  I am going to hold on a little tighter while I am there, and hope those hugs, squeezes, flashes of smiles and giggles will carry me thru to next time! 

Until then...it's almost time for bed...because the sooner I get to bed, the sooner morning comes, and the sooner I get to hold my siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, and the sooner we will be on IL soil!!  Look out, here we come! 



Friday, July 25, 2014

Dylan is 1!!!

 
Can't believe my baby is 1 already...so much has happened in the past year for our family...it seems like we have hardly had time to enjoy the little things.  The 2 am wake up calls, teeth coming in in droves, the magic of learning to crawl which turns into walking, which soon becomes running and climbing. The transition from bottle to real food, the funny faces and messes from head to toe.

As weary as we feel when we hear those 2 am wake up calls from the nursery, all too soon they are gone, and we wish we would have held on a little tighter when our babies were small and the problems of life were simpler. Don't get me wrong, I want my babies to grow up, but I have found myself just rolling with the punches a little easier this time around.  Realizing that time goes on and we move on to the next stage, ready or not! I tell myself in the heat of the moment....like last night when this sweet face was up from 2-4 am...that this too shall pass, and someday soon he WILL sleep thru the night.  All my other kids do! And my beauty sleep will consist of more than 3 consecutive hours in a row! 

I recently was talking with a newly wed and she expressed a desire for children.  It struck me as we chatted how easy it is to want what naturally comes next, instead of cherishing the moments as we have them...Not that either one of us is unhappy in our moment, but we so easily lose the preciousness of where we are and forget to thank God for the little things.

So this morning when I  woke to his SMILEY face, and the memories of not sleeping faded with the sunrise, my heart was melted when his little arms wrapped around my neck. And I remembered that day a year ago when I got to meet my little boy for the first time, and fell in love at first sight!

Happy Birthday Dylan James! 



 
 
Last night we had a little birthday party for Dylan.  I had been thinking about it for a while, wondering how we could celebrate when all our family was miles away...it made me cry to think he wouldn't get a smashing party with an audience. So, I decided to ask some of those who've been extra special to us since we moved, and they all were delighted and honored to join us for a little cake and ice cream! 
 
 
 
The smash cake!
 The birthday cake!
 Dylan's new wheels from "Uncle" Ev and "Aunt" Sherry
 He loved it...started it right up with motor sounds and all!


 All done!
 presents
 his new doggy from his brothers and sister
 

 
Trying out his presents today!!!
 
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Just Us...

In between all the company we've been having, we have had a few days of just us!  Here is a few snapshots of our everyday life! 
 
 Dylan emptying the flower pot!
 Sarah was here for a  week, and we got to spend a morning with her and Micah.  It was fun to watch the two boys interact!
 Collin wanted to make a bird feeder, so we googled bird-feeder plans, this is what we came up with! We have gotten a few birds, but the crazy squirrels are a nuisance!

The 12th of July we were invited to watch the New London fireworks with Doug and Leah Luginbuhl and Kevin and Lauren Gottier, from Doug's boat.  They are said to be one of the best displays in the nation. We brought supper and grilled on his little propane grill.  We got to enjoy a supermoon sunset, and experience fireworks over the water, from a boat!  It was neat!  The reflection is pretty amazing, and the delayed sound because we were farther away made it definitely a different experience than sitting across the ball diamond in Walnut.  
 Diana and Dylan
 Lucas and Collin
 Bryce and Halle
 Doug, Mason and Collin making smores
 Fireworks...
 
The next day after church we headed to Rhode Island with Dave and Heather Mangold.  Her parents own house just a mile from the beach, and we got invited to enjoy it with them!  We arrived around 5ish, gulped down some pizza, and headed for the beach.  It wasn't sunny, but it was VERY muggy and warm.   
 Dylan
 Rachel, Collin, Alison, Bryce and Halle
 Heather and Diana
 Dylan
 
The next morning we headed about 30 minutes upshore to Point Judith and Salty Brine Beach.  The waves were a little more subdued, so Halle and Bryce were excited to finally find some waves more their size.  We were introduced to tiny sand crabs that burrow down in the sand and I guess just sit there....don't ask me, I think they are just absolutely ugly and had no desire to look at, hold or know more about them.  However, Lucas and Collin were fascinated by them!  Go figure!
 Rachel, Halle, and Collin
 The gross sand crabs!
 The ferry that was going in and out all day!
 We got ice cream before we left...5 scoops, two toppings, and whipped cream in a sand pail!
Bryce, Collin, Lucas, and Halle
 
We hurried home to get in on the birthday party for Micah!  His birthday was the 16th, but they were leaving the next morning, so we celebrated a bit early!  It was fun to get in on the cake smashing and presents!  
 Bryce and Micah
 Micah and Dylan
 

And as usual, it wouldn't be real unless we included this little booger getting into trouble!  I found him like this one morning...he had decided it wasn't good enough to keep mom running after him by just walking, so now he is climbing into, onto, under and over anything, and everything that might be in his way...thankfully he didn't grab a knife out of the dishwasher, or break anything.  He sure keeps me busy! 
 
Lots of love and hugs from CT!!!

We are 11 for 23!!

 
 The month of July has absolutely flown by!  Of the last 23 days, we have had company 11 of those days.  It has been so fun to show our friends and family around where we call home.  We've visited lots of beaches, on lakes or the ocean, and we love it every time!  Over the fourth of July Josh and Molly Zimmerman were here.  They arrived on the fourth and spent 2 nights with us.  We took them to East Matunuck Beach in Rhode Island.  It was a gorgeous day. Their children had never seen the ocean! They weren't too sure about it at first, but once we were there, they loved it!  On the Monday after the fourth, Lucas and Collin, Josh and Jarrett, and Kevin and Ryan Zahner went deep sea fishing with Doug Luginbuhl.  They were successful with a catch, but unfortunately Ryan ended up seasick.
 
 Mila and Halle
 Dylan
 Jarrett, Kylie, Collin, and Bryce building a sand turtle!
 Dylan wakes up from his nap!
 Josh and Dylan
 
The fishing trip!
 Jarrett, Ryan, and Collin with the stripers the group caught!
 
 
After Josh and Molly left, we had a bit of a reprieve from company...for a few days anyway.  My brother Steven and his family arrived on the 17th!  We were so excited for them to get here.  We hadn't planned anything too grand, they wanted to just let the boys play and us catch up.  Thursday night we celebrated Ethan's 12th birthday with an apple pie...he didn't want us to sing, but we did anyway, however I didn't get any pictures! Friday we relaxed in the morning, then headed over to Crystal Lake for the afternoon.  The boys kayaked some, swam, fished, and had a wild time pushing each other off the dock.  That evening we went to Gene and Lynne Beutel's for a cookout. 
 Austin and Ethan
 Bryce
 Collin and Jake
Ethan, Halle, Austin, Collin, Bryce, Jake
 
Saturday we were up early and headed to New London to sail with Dan Virkler. The kiddos all went out first with Dan, Steven, and Kari, while Dorothy and I stayed on the dock with the babies.  After lunch the kids all wanted to swim, so Steven, Kari, Austin, Thomas, and I went out, while Dorothy kept order on the dock.  It was my first time sailing, and it was fabulous.  So relaxing!  We were all just about ready for a nap! Austin and Thomas took advantage of the constant rocking and sacked out under the deck.  Saturday night we had pizza, a fire, and smores!  A great way to end a great day!
 
 
Collin
Bryce and Collin
 
Sunday evening Steven and Kari stayed their last night in Connecticut at Beth Gottier's house.  They left this morning...it was soooooo good to see them.  We had such a great time, stayed up way too late, but it was good!

 Dylan and Uncle Steven
 Dylan and Thomas
 
Today I had a little date with Halle...we went for a  haircut, then had lunch at Taco Bell...her choice! It was fun. The laundry piles are slowly getting smaller, and the pile on the couch to be folded is getting bigger.  Lucas mowed, the boys gave the dog a bath and brushed her fur, Dylan tottered around getting into everything he shouldn't, and now he is sleeping on the chair, Lucas took the kids to swim and tonight we will go fishing...a little, much needed quality family time.  Last night on the way home I leaned over to Lucas and said, "I miss you honey!"  He smiled and said, "I was just going to say the same thing!"  All the fun and going means, not much down time to just enjoy each others company. So, tonight we will kick off our shoes, throw in a line, and enjoy a perfect summer evening. 
 
But I figured I better get in an update before I had too much to say and couldn't remember it all!  Lots of love and hugs from CT!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

28 FEET!!!!

Last week we were anticipating some company, this week we are anticipating some more company, but a whole lot happened in the 4 days since I last posted.  Saturday morning we had to be on the road by 8, headed to Killingly, CT, for an All-star game.  I snapped a few pictures of Collin playing.  They lost 7-4, so baseball is over!!!!!  I am so glad, no more practices, no more games, and our relaxing summer can begin. 
 
 Bryce hanging on the fence watching his big bro!
 Collin
 up to bat...
 
 
After the all-star game we headed back to Stafford for a celebratory pizza/kickball party for the kids on Collin's regular season team and their families.  It was a lot of  fun.  The kids voted to play kids vs adults, so they must've been prepared to get whomped!!  Kids kicked first, then the moms and dads and coaches.  On his first time up to "bat," Collin's coach kicked a hole in the ball, oops!  One of the mom's headed into town to see if she could find a kickball for us to continue our game.  Around 3 we headed home to finish getting ready for our company who was getting close to arriving!!  
 Halle, Dylan and Bryce walking the bases
 
 
Lucas, having worked all day, missed all the "fun!" He arrived home just before 5, fired up the grill and we were chatting and enjoying the gorgeous evening when we heard a horn honking up the driveway.  Before we had even seen who it was, we knew it must be Mike and Amber!!!  Sure thing!  About an hour later Doug and Janelle snuck in with no one even realizing they were here.  So typical! Only then could we get started on making memories, everyone had arrived! My house was now filled with 28 FEET! Fourteen of us in all.  We had supper, the kids and dads played ball, and we fell into bed late! 
 Macy, Halle, Mariah
 Doug and Janelle
 Collin, Andrew, Bryce
Sunday morning we had all fourteen of us ready for church in good time, and decided we needed to have a photo shoot. We rigged up the recycling bin for a tripod and took some self-timed shots of everyone.  Then we got just the kids and just the adults. We had three of the four original out of town potluck couples, only missing Robert and Mary!  Wish they could've been here too!
 Macy, Halle, Mariah
 The whole crew
 the 4 Grimm kids and the 4 Gudeman kids
Lucas and Diana, Amber and Mike Grimm, Janelle and Doug Brewer
 
After church we had Kevin and Cheryl Ryan, Warren and Bonnie Zahner, and Andrew and Colleen Luginbuhl in for supper.  If I can speak for everyone, I think a good time was had by all!

Monday morning we got up early and headed to East Matunuck Beach in Rhode Island.  (suggested to us by Heather Mangold, who joined us there later) We had packed part of a picnic and planned to get sandwiches near there. The waves were just the right size for all the kids, not too rough, but big enough to enjoy riding the boogie boards. We spent the day in the sand, heading home around 3ish.  Totally wiped out, and definitely sun-kissed!
 Andrew, Macy, Halle, Mariah...first attempt at entering!
 Dylan

 Baby boy loved the water...kept trying to get further in, until he got a mouthful of salt water!
 Chomping on mom's apple before he dropped it into the sand
 Doug brings us lunch...the best $3 hot dog I've ever eaten!
 Halle
The boys on the boogie boards
 
 
Doug and Janelle headed back around 1ish, and had to catch a plane at 530.  They did say they wish they could've had one more day, but alas, all good things must come to an end.  The rest of us got home, cleaned up and headed to Jon and Amy Zahner's for a pizza supper.  It was so good to come home and not have to worry about getting supper on the table, even take out.  We really appreciated their hospitality, probably more than they'll ever know! 
 

Maya and Dylan
 
Tuesday morning Mike and Amber packed up and took off.  It was so good to have everyone here, and it hurt to see them go. We have been so blessed thru the years with such awesome friends...as Winnie the Pooh says..."How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard"... We were left with great memories of a wonderful weekend, lots of laundry and the anticipation of next time!
 
 
This morning I am finishing up my laundry, making up beds again for our next round of company to arrive Friday afternoon, and wiping tears from my eyes as I think of our dear friend and cousin who said goodbye this morning to her husband. Derek and Leann had been another of those go to couples who we always enjoyed being with, picking up where we left off the last time, and never tired of being together. He lost his fight with cancer this morning, but won his eternal Victory.  As Lucas and I talked, we both expressed how we just didn't understand...His grandpa came thru surgery last night, removing a cancerous tumor from his face, at 91. The Dr.'s think they got it all, and he is doing really good this morning.  And Derek, at 40 is done. Leaving behind his precious wife and four children.  I reminded Lucas, that while we don't understand, God doesn't make mistakes. Grandpa's business here isn't done yet, even though I am sure at times he himself would tell you he yearns for heaven, to lay down his cross, and Derek would just like another day...another week, another year. I am sure if given the chance, they would have traded places. While it is so hard to understand, we are told in 1 Corinthians 13:12...For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face...right now we don't understand, but someday we will, FACE TO FACE with the Father.  What a promise! Our prayers are lifted to the Father, and we know He hears and answers, just not always how we expect or want.  But He can see, feel, and knows our hearts, desires, aches, and He promises to not leave us comfortless. 
 
In so many ways, Lucas and I want to be back in IL right now.  To hug Leann, and her family, to hug our own families a little tighter.  In 27 days I will be on a plane, heading back to the place I'd called home for so many years...to enjoy time with both our families, to cherish the simple moments, and I'll remember God has a plan for me and right now, that plan is Connecticut and not Illinois and I am at peace. 
 
 
Lots of love and hugs from Connecticut...and please come visit!  Invite yourself, Doug and Janelle, and Mike and Amber did, and we had a ball!!