Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Aaaannnnd....they're off!! Yahoo!

It's finally time!  The kids are going back to school and I am doing a little dance, well not really, but I am excited too!  Sunday on the way to church Collin was hoping Wednesday would never come.  I on the other hand was counting down the days until it did come!  School starting always brings with it schedules, and I love knowing what comes next!  Not necessarily the homework that comes with school, but the familiarity it brings.  The yellow school bus puffing up the hill, the honk because I wasn't waving out the window quick enough.  The Scholastic book orders, a book lovers dream...I dream of ordering for myself, but mostly blame our orders on my kids! The fun projects, back to school nights, crisp fall air that means fall is coming!  I love fall!  And this year as my kids head to school, having met the teachers and knowing a few more people now than we did last January, I feel good about the year ahead. We said a prayer this morning together, and we are all confident that God will be there beside them, I will be in their hearts, and they in mine, constantly! 
I get to start working on projects that took the back burner for the summer.  I can make lunch dates again, reconnect with friends who have sent their children off to school. We can sit down and visit again with fewer interruptions.  I can get groceries without 6 little feet following me thru the grocery store "helping" me pick what we NEED! I get to hold onto my baby boy a little tighter, a little's just me and him again! And we will be waiting at the door every afternoon anticipating the sunshine the older three add to our lives! Praying for a great year!  HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! 

 Dylan, Halle, Collin, Bryce 

 Bryce, Halle, Collin
 Bryce-1st  Mrs. Wallert
 Halle-3rd  Mrs. Bontempo
 Collin-4th  Mr. Szych
My goofballs...
Bryce, just slightly embarrassed!
Collin and Halle
Check out the colors on these shoes!  They each picked out their own sneakers, as they are called in CT, but I don't think they will be doing much sneaking around in these!
Sooo...if anyone wants a lunch date, let me know, my calendar is open and we will see what we can do to accommodate!
Lots of love and hugs from CT

It's really over...

I can't believe summer is really over.  Since we got home from IL 3 weeks ago we have been crazy busy!  Trying to get all those last minute things done before school starts, or just simply taking advantage of no schedules or homework! Boy, have we packed it in!  The night we got home from IL we welcomed Jeb and Kristy Joos and their 4 kids for a night.  They had been vacationing in Rhode Island and were heading home Thursday morning. We picked up a pizza, threw down some sleeping bags, and enjoyed a quick visit!  It was so good to see them!  The rest of that week was spent catching up on everything that hadn't gotten done for the past 8 days.  Sunday we didn't have plans, so we invited a few couples in for family we have tried numerous times and they always seemed to be busy, but we finally got them plus a few others.  It was a great evening! 
 The big boys sat at the island....they fit a little different than my boys!
Elise and Halle...the only 2 girls of the 14 kids we had that night!
Thursday night I was making pancakes for supper waiting for Lucas to get home...we heard a knocking on the door...I hollered, "Come in."  Why would Lucas knock anyway!?  Finally since he wasn't coming in, I thought maybe his hands were full or something so I went to open the door...there stood Lucas with Dan and Carole Crohan.  They wanted to go for ice cream in their 1960 automobile and wondered if we wanted to go along! I quickly finished cleaning up the supper dishes and we headed over to the Dairy Barn at UCONN for some homemade, homegrown ice cream!  It was delish!
 Collin and Carole
 Lucas, Halle, Bryce, Dylan, Me...we all sat in the back seat and it wasn't even too squishy!
 The car! A pretty sweet ride! I can't remember what it was though!:(
 Where they make the ice cream at UCONN
On the in between days we cleaned out closets, figured out what clothes the kids would need for school, went to dentist appts, babysat, did some shopping and plenty of swimming. We packed in a few sleep overs and birthday parties too!  Last Thursday Collin had to have some teeth pulled and filling filled, so Heather Mangold took the three littles to the library while I took Collin to see Dr. Jon!  Collin was so worried you could see it on his face!  He decided he wanted to try some laughing gas to relax himself, but once that got started he said, "I don't like this, turn it off."  So, Dr. Jon got to work and when he was finished Collin told him it didn't even hurt!  The anticipation was the worst! Jon told Collin to shout that from the corner by Kloter Farms!  We were glad to have that behind us, especially since Collin had a birthday party to go to.   
 Bryce and Dylan at the library with Heather and Rachel
 Dylan and Rachel
I gathered up my little ones and we headed home to get Collin ready for his sleepover/birthday party.  He was going to Fenway Park for a Red Sox vs. Angels baseball game to celebrate Tyler's birthday!!
 The lucky boys...Tyler is in the gray.
Is this what they call "The Green Monster"?
 So excited!
Friday we spent the day getting ready for Halle's birthday party.  I had told her she could invite 5-6 friends for a pizza/cupcake party we would have Saturday.  The girls were all so sweet and I think they had fun!  Collin and Bryce got to go to the zoo with Duane and Beth Zahner Saturday, so I just had Halle, her friends and Dylan.  It worked out perfect! 
 Pizza for lunch
 Halle and Drea decorating their cupcakes
 Allison and Elise working on theirs...
 Blowing out the candles!
 The silly girls...Brooke, Elise, Allison, Halle, Drea, Mollie
Sunday, Halle's actual birthday, Lucas got up early and headed to the grocery store to get his little rosebud a bunch of roses!  She got 8, I got the other 2 (they were 10 for $10) to celebrate her birthday! After church we had been invited to Ken and Jan Boynton's home down on beach.  We packed up and headed out!  The kids swam, kayaked, crabbed, and played in the sand.  Ken grilled us up a feast and we finally headed home around 930! It was a great night! 
 Halle and Lucas
 Collin and Lucas kayaking
 Bryce and Collin fishing for crabs with a clothespin and a hot dog!
 Ken with his grill full of YUM!
 Halle's birthday cupcakes. 
Monday was the last day we would have as a family on summer break...we worked around the house a bit before heading over to laze away the afternoon at Doug and Jane's pool.  It was a hot day and the water was perfect.  The kids played, Lucas and I floated around on rafts, and Rhonda joined us too!  Monday night we had some family pictures taken...I'll post those once we get them back!  It was a perfect day! 

Tuesday was our last day of summer vacation. We babysat in the morning for two cuties...Everett and Sage Skinner.  Their momma had a dentist appt and we had nothing better to do but love on them!  Everett is 4 months older than Dylan, Little Sage is 4 months old.  They are just darling and we had a ball with them!  
 Everett, Dylan and Collin
 Sage and Halle
 Collin and Sage...she was enthralled with Collin, would just stare at him and smile! 
After lunch with the Skinner's we headed to school to meet the kids' teachers! After seeing their rooms and meeting their teachers, all three kids were excited to go back to school!  Thank goodness!  We ended our day with a quick swim at Tim and Dana Schneider's and a treat at Kloter's IceCream Barn!
  Then it was off to bed at 8 o clock getting ready for an early morning!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Home to IL---the rest of the story!

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful...Dylan woke up around 6:30 so I gathered him and a blanket and we headed out to the patio to enjoy the sunrise!  The sun was up already, so I guess we just enjoyed the warmth and beauty, looking out across the bean field (a rare sighting for us these days.) All too soon, he was done snuggling and wanted to explore Grandpa's pond...but that would have to wait for later, now it was time to get ready for church.  Mom G. had woke that morning with 3 of her 5 children under the roof again.  She was loving every minute of that!  It's been a long time since that has happened, and a year since they joined the crowd of empty-nesters.  We, amazingly enough, got all 10 of us ready in short order and the little girls decided they had time to walk to the crick just down the road.  I told them that was fine as long as they didn't get dirty!  As girls usually are, they were just fine looking (for now!) 

Soon we headed to church in Bradford, where we had made our home for 9 years.  It was good to be back.  We saw so many old friends and got lots of hugs! We missed a few that were traveling, but I suppose that's just how life is.  It was so good to be there and I was comforted by the feeling that Bradford wasn't home anymore, but a very special place to visit.  It didn't hurt being there, even knowing we couldn't stay, and we saw lots of evidence that life goes on whether we are present or not! Yes, we certainly miss the people, but God has surely followed us to Connecticut when we followed Him!
Halle and Tori by Grandpa's pond before church
After church we stopped by Grandpa and Grandma Stoller's to visit a bit.  Grandpa had surgery the beginning of July and is doing ok, but not quite up and running yet.  It was so special to see him, and we left with tears from both parties.  We sure do miss seeing them every Sunday and randomly in between! I think they were glad to see us too!
That night we enjoyed everyone being together again at mom and dad's, and decided to take advantage of the 100% representation of the family and get a family picture.  A huge thank you to Beth Endress who came to take our picture, with a sick baby at home! 
The original Gudemans
 back: Lucas, Brandon, Shannon
front: Miranda, Dad, Mom, Tonya
 The outlaws! Brianna, Diana, Sarah and Tyler
The whole crew!
The grandkids and Mom and Dad
Dylan finally got his chance to play in Grandpa's pond. 
After supper a few of us took a walk to the crick, some in wagons, some on bikes, some in strollers. All but a few came back covered in mud.  While the little boys were getting their mud bath, the big boys were shooting clay pigeons!  I think it would be safe to say it was a fun night for all! Sunday evening mom made homemade ice cream and we almost finished off those M & M bars...oh so yummy!  The little girls went home with Tonya and Tyler that night and the little boys stayed at Grandma's. 
Bryce and Alex
Around 9:00 we got a visit from Adam and Brittany Endress and their two girls. How special that was! They had been in Indiana for the weekend and came home early enough to catch us before Lucas left  and I headed back to Tremont in the morning!  10:30 came too soon, but they had little girls to put to bed, so our visit was short and sweet!!  Thank you for taking the time to come see us! We loved catching up!!  
Monday morning we headed to Peoria to meet all the Gudeman ladies for lunch (minus Bri.) We stopped to see Miranda at work, and got the 5 star tour of the company she works for, EHS Solutions, from owner and long time friend Robert Herrmann.  So many people to see and not enough time in the day...but we did catch a few!  Then we lunched at Old Chicago, another favorite of the Lucas Gudeman clan, before heading back to Tremont! 

 The open sky and bean fields...we sure do miss this!
Dylan and Micah...sorry for the fuzzy picture, they don't sit still much, but this picture was too cute to not post!
After lunch we headed back to Mom and Dad Beutel's so Lucas could see all the kids and my sisters before we had to take him back to the airport.  They were up to their elbows in sweet corn when we arrived.  Sure smelled yummy, but we didn't have to help since we weren't going to be able to enjoy any of it!  

Dylan is way past a walker but this was his favorite toy, climb in, climb out, repeat! 
Hours of entertainment!
Finally around 4:45 we headed back to Peoria Airport to drop Lucas off...his flight was delayed, then delayed again, then finally cancelled!  In the mean time, I was back at mom and dad's enjoying a walk/talk with William and Brittany.  At 9:45 the phone rang and Lucas wanted me to come pick him up.  So, William, Brittany and I piled into mom and dad's van to go get him!  His flight was scheduled for Tuesday morning at, the next morning mom and dad took us out for breakfast before we dropped him back at the airport. Me and the kiddos then spent the day at my sister Jennifer's house.  I think it was the only place we hadn't yet been to during our week "home." 
Tuesday evening Teresa and Landon had Mom, Dad, Janelle and my crew for supper, then all my siblings and their families joined us for dessert!  Another delicious meal from the Rowell household and of course dessert to fill in all the cracks, except I think after a week of eating like a queen, there were no cracks left and I was just plain bloated! But, it tasted so good!
Tuesday night was our last night, so we said our final goodbyes and headed back to Mom and Dad's to bed.  I was doing some last minute packing, trying to get everything to fit back in our suitcases how it had been when we came, and ended up in William's room for a late night chat, much like old times when it was just the two of us left living at home.  Will be the last late night chat for us like that, because the next time I see him he will have a Missus!   
Wednesday morning I woke up to the smell of pancakes and bacon...Mom was making us one more yummy meal before we headed east again.  After we got the breakfast dishes cleaned up we headed to the airport.  Mom and Dad came in with us for a little while then we finally we said our last goodbyes.  Mom and Dad headed home and we headed thru security. We had a little over an hour to wait, which I spent chasing Dylan around.  The kids watched airplanes thru the windows, had a snack and tried to stay out of trouble.  Finally they called our flight # and we were on our way back east...heading HOME! And yes, we were going home! 

Collin, Janelle, Bryce

On the plane again...Collin and Bryce
Once again, we had good flying...Dylan slept most of the first flight. We arrived in Detroit long enough to get to our next gate and grab some snacks to call lunch.  We left on time again, and were soon descending into Hartford.  Our dear cousin Jane had agreed to come pick us up, we met her and Rhonda outside after collecting our bags.  A short half hour later we were pulling in the driveway...was it ever good to see our house again!  We were so glad to be home.  It had been a super, fun-filled week, but there is nothing quite like your own space.  

We are home cheers from Collin and Halle!
We've been home now for a week...a busy week spent putting things away, catching up on laundry, paying bills, grocery shopping and all the things necessary to keep a house running.  My heart has settled when I think of going back wasn't so hard!  Yes, I miss so many people and even the familiarity of so many things, but I am thankful for where God has brought me.  He has been faithful as promised, blessing me with new friends, helping me feel at home in a new church, and I can even find my way to the grocery store!  Yes, there are times I feel super lonely and wish I could drive just an hour to see my parents and spend a Thursday at my mom's, but I realize now more than ever, that the words, "absence makes the heart grow fonder," really are true. It wasn't hard to get on the airplane back to CT...because so many people had reached out to wish us a super trip and asked us to please come back!  How incredibly heart-warming!  I have been blessed many times over with so many special people in my life, in CT and IL.  I wouldn't wish away the people in CT who have become so dear to my heart in just a few short months, to have stayed in IL.  God must've known I could bend a little more and stretch a little further and I hope I haven't disappointed Him.  I know He holds and sees my future, and I pray that I am always willing to follow where He leads me! 
At my brother's farewell singing we sang the hymn God Be With You.  Other than being one of my favorites and wanting this one sung at my funeral, I simply love the words...I leave them with you as I have now finished the story of our first trip back to IL...
God be with you till we meet again; By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you; God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again; "Neath His wings protecting hide you,
Daily manna still provide you; God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again; When life's perils think confound you,
Put His arms unfailing round you; God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again; Keep love's banner floating o'er you,
Smite deaths's threatening wave before you; God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet, till we meet at Jesus' feet;
Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again.  
Lots of love and hugs from CT....only 36 more days till we head back to IL again! This time for Willie's wedding!!