Friday, October 17, 2014

There's a first time for everything!

 
This past weekend was Columbus Day weekend...the kids had off Monday as well as Tuesday, and we wanted to do something fun as a family.  Lucas got Tuesday off and now all we needed was a plan. My cousin Doug, and his brother-in-law Dale, have a 30' camper they had offered to us to use anytime we wanted. We checked with both couples, neither was using the camper, and it was all ours if we wanted it!  We wanted it!  Last Thursday Lucas brought the camper home after work and we started packing up!  We really didn't need much except food, clothes and sleeping bags. The camper was well stocked and ready to go.  Lucas had asked some of the men at work where some good camping spots were, they suggested Bald Mountain, Vermont, but warned us that we might not get a spot since it would be the last camping weekend of the year.  He quickly called me, told me to get on the phone ASAP, and find us a place to park for those two days. At first the lady at the campground wasn't sure she had a site available, but thankfully after looking at her campground map a second time, she found us a spot.  YAY...Sunday afternoon could hardly come fast enough. Having never camped, set up an RV, or really anything that goes along with camping, we decided we would leave after the morning service at church so we could get our last minute things packed up and make it to the campground while it was still light. Lucas was nervous he would be fumbling around in the dark otherwise. We finally hit the road about 1:45pm.
 
 Ready to pull out!
 Halle, Dylan and Bryce on the bed above the driver's seat. They spent almost the whole trip up there watching out the front window!

We made it to the campground around 4 o'clock. We were led to our campsite and left to fend for ourselves. Setting up camp went quick and we were ready to explore our "home" for the next two days. The campground was REALLY full. We had neighbors on every side of us!
  
 Dylan found the ashes in the firepit...guess he thought it was a miniature sandbox!
 Halle and Collin on top of the camper.
 
The trees were beautiful. Sunday afternoon was sunny and warm as we putzed around the campground. The kids played at the playscape, then we headed down to the river to skip/throw rocks in. 



We headed back to camp to make supper...we grilled hamburgers on the little gas grill that was packed underneath the camper. After supper we were making smore's and decided that we needed to play "Chubby Bunny!"  Giggles abounded!!! (On the way home we asked the kids what their favorite part of the trip was, and "Chubby Bunny" ranked as one of the favorite parts with the kiddos!)

 Collin-4 marshmallows
 Halle-3 marshmallows
 Diana-4 marshmallows
 Lucas-5, almost 6 marshmallows!  He was declared the winner, but not sure what glory that will gain him!
 
After supper the kids and Lucas played catch, ladder ball, and whatever their little hearts desired, and I followed Dylan around as he explored everything.  We headed to bed around 8:30, having been dark at that point for almost 2 hours, we decided we may as well go to bed, sure that everyone would be up early!  Sure enough, by 6:30 all four kids were up and anxious for breakfast...Mom and Dad were quick to follow!
 Breakfast of Champions...donuts and cinnamon rolls! (yogurt and fruit were options too, just not first choices!)
We had pretty much no cell service except for a random text that might somehow find it's way to us...so Monday morning we headed for the main office hoping we could catch a bit of WIFI to see if we had missed anything important. On the way back to camp we stopped for a couple of pictures! The clouds were low on the mountain and it was just beautiful.  I am not much for selfies, but here is an attempted selfie by Lucas and I! We laughed the whole way back to the camper!



 Bryce and Collin
Halle
 
Monday morning was SOOOOO cold. We had packed for colder weather, but didn't think it would be that cold. We had planned a hike, but the trails were about a mile away at the state park.  We finally decided that the mile could be part of our hike and headed for Bald Mountain!
 
 
On the way...

 Collin, Dylan on Lucas' back, Halle
 Bryce
 
On the trail... 
 

 Collin, Dylan, Lucas, Halle, Bryce
 

 Halle and Collin 
 

 Bryce getting a drink.
 
 
The water flowing down the mountain was crystal clear and was so refreshing. The water tasted so good, maybe we should start bottling it to sell!!  The hike up the mountain was fairly easy, at times the slope was pretty steep, but all the kids had no trouble keeping up, although the two littles did complain their legs were getting tired.  We kept spurring them on with, "Just think, the whole way back will be downhill!" We aren't sure how far we actually went...the sign at the beginning said 1.7 miles, we figured we made it most of the way and turned around because we weren't sure about the trails.  The park was closed for the season, and we had no one to ask. 
 Dylan finds a "caterpillar"
After we made it back, we had "pizza pies" for lunch, Dylan took a nap, the kids ran off to play, and Lucas and I sat by the fire and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.  When we had left on our hike the campground was full; by the time we got back it was almost deserted. We had so much open space to ourselves...it was glorious! By afternoon it had warmed up a little and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. We lazed away the afternoon, played some games, ate too much food and just relished every moment we had together!

 Bryce and Collin
 Dylan all snuggled up! 
 The sun'll come out...
 Lucas and Dylan playing peek-a-boo! Dylan was trying to give Daddy kisses thru the window!
 
After our nearly 5 mile hike, everyone was ready for bed by 8:00...the kids were tucked in, Lucas was snuggled up with Dylan, and I got to do my most favorite thing...read a book! With NO interruptions. In the morning we packed up what was left and headed out of the campground around 8:30. We headed south, stopped at McDonald's for breakfast, then decided, on a whim, to stop at the Yankee Candle Company Store. We wandered around the store for a couple of hours, got some of our Christmas shopping done, took a few pictures, and even picked up a couple of goodies for ourselves. We were back on the road by 1:00...home again, home again, jiggety jig.
 
Dylan enjoying his pancakes!
At the Yankee Candle Co. Store...my princes! 
Collin

Bryce

Bryce and Me

Dylan, Halle, Collin, Bryce
 
We pulled into our yard about 2:30, unloaded the camper, Lucas got to work cleaning everything in the camper, while I started putting things away, and got the laundry started. 9 loads of laundry later, we have clothes to wear again, the house is back in order, the camper has been delivered back to it's home, and we have a pile of memories from our "first" time camping trip.  We all decided we'd do it again in a heartbeat! 
 
Lots of love and hugs from CT! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Everyday stuff...

 
The month of October is well on its way to being half over...hard to believe how quickly time flies. I've always heard that time flies when you're having fun, but I've also heard that is goes faster the older you get. I like to think I am just having that much fun, not getting old!!  We made it back from William and Brittany's wedding and plowed ahead into fall.  The leaves are changing and the days are definitely cool with the nights just plain cold.  I get kind of sick to my stomach when I think what comes next. I am NOT a fan of winter, but I guess the changing seasons is a luxury not everyone gets to see quite as pronounced as we do here, so I am going to count myself blessed!  I love the changes, I guess I just wish that fall lasted longer and winter was done after 3 days!

We have stayed busy here at home, everyday life with a little snuggling, reading, applesauce making, school open houses, tractor shows, hiking, fishing, and Dr. appointments mixed in. With all that in the past 11 days, no wonder the days have flown!

Halle and Dylan snuggling
The kids got their Christmas present early and have already spent hours playing on their new trampoline. Whether they are jumping all together, or find it a quiet place to read, I think it's safe to say, they love their present!  MERRY CHRISTMAS KIDDOS!
 
A couple weeks ago, I got a phone call from "Mom Terry" She wanted to know if I wanted to help make applesauce.  Of course, with a 14 month old, who is into EVERYTHING, I hadn't even dreamt of trying that on my own, so I was more than happy to join her crew. We started around 4, I had to leave at 5:45 to head to an open house at school, and came back to a completed project!  She even fed us supper! Then she sent me home with about 25 quarts of yummy homemade applesauce.
Alayna, one of her granddaughters
the process and the processor (Ed)
The apples
the finished product...so good!
 
The next afternoon I received a call from Greg Lanz, he was going to be taking some of his grandkids to a tractor show on Saturday and wondered if my older 3 wanted to go too!  So, Saturday morning I shipped them off with Greg and Jared Fehr, while Dylan and I enjoyed a quiet day at home snuggling and making cookies!
Bryce driving a huge steam shovel.
Dylan "helping" mom make cookies
 
Last Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day.  After a week of rainy weather we were ready to be outside and enjoying the sunshine.  We asked Dave and Heather Mangold to go hiking with us at Enders State Forest. They gladly obliged and we headed over right after church for some hiking.  Absolutely beautiful, but this momma's heart did a few leaps and stops while I watched from the trail as my kiddos and their daddy did some pretty crazy stuff.  I must say though, I am a scaredy cat! Thankfully we all made it out in one piece, and topped the night off with pizza!  

 
 
Me and Dylan
 Halle at the bottom
 Collin and Jared at the top

 
 The falls...

 

 Our little family!
 

 Halle
 Halle and Rachel
 
Dylan was so excited when we finally got to a safe place and he could get out of his pack.  He picked up every acorn and tasted it before moving along! 
 


 

 Then we headed over the Berkhamstead Reservoir and lookout.  Got a few pretty pictures there too.  While we were there a helicopter flew right over the top of us...VERY close and very cool. The view was spectacular!
 Lucas, Bryce, Dylan, Jared
 A poky pinecone they found, which we dubbed a "pokypine!" 
 Lucas, Dylan, Dave
 
 Bryce, Collin, Jared
 
 
 The helicopter
 Bryce, Halle, Collin
 

 
 Me and Heather
 
The next morning Lucas was up early and out the door to fish with Brian Luginbuhl down off-shore.  Brian has his own boat and is also off on Mondays. So, the two decided they should become fishing buddies.  Lucas fished all day, I held down the fort and we had a deliciously, healthy supper of McDonalds happy meals that night.  I was pooped after my whirlwind day with Dylan...he is into everything and I literally couldn't stay ahead of him.  Lucas brought us home a few fish for the freezer, some of which we ate already. Was pretty good, but we both decided you just can't take the Midwest out of us...we'd take a thick steak any day over fish!  
 

 Here is the view from our front door...the leaves are changing and it is so pretty!
 Halle's happy meal goods!
 Lucas...caught two fish on one line!
 All the fish...they split the meat!
 
Wednesday morning I got some laundry started...Dylan was my cheerful helper, then I had to take Bryce to the Audiologist/ENT for a check up.  We didn't get the report we were hoping for, so we are heading back in two months. I wish we could just fix his problem, but unfortunately it just isn't that simple. So, we wait some more to see if the left side fluid issues will resolve themselves. Hope the hole in his right eardrum will heal itself, although right now that hole is the only reason he can hear at all...no fluid buildup because it can drain. We see the Dr. again in December to see what the plan will be.
 

 my laundry helper
Bryce at the Audiologist
 
So goes by another two weeks of our lives...I find it so hard to believe we have been out here for nearly 10 months. It certainly has flown!
 
Bear with me as I bare my heart a bit...
 
Almost a year...does that mean we aren't new here anymore? Will the distance get any easier to bear? I have my days, up and down. We have been able to go 'home' a lot in the past few months which helps, but then maybe it doesn't. Maybe it makes me miss 'home' even more. We have had lots of company, and are looking forward to more soon...but there are moments when I just want to see my family, MY people. I just want to BE there. I want to hold my nieces and nephews, hug my parents and siblings. I miss so much. I want to sit and visit and see them in real life. I am so thankful for the connection technology has afforded us, and it definitely keeps me in the loop, but still, I wonder if I am missed? Do people still think about me? Or am I out of sight, out of mind? I know, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but you have to think about someone in order to miss them....what if everyone forgot me?
 
There are so many things I have to be thankful for, but some days it's hard to see them. When you feel so lonely and don't know who to call. When it is just easier to stay home because then you don't have to try to explain, or to pretend. When it seems everyone has someone, except you. Then what...when you feel like you would be a bother to anyone/everyone, and you just want to go 'home.' There you don't have to explain anything, you can say nothing or everything and everyone knows your story already.
 
I know God brought me here for a reason, and I can see that all around me. I am happy here, I am, but I have my days. Maybe those days have been a little more frequent lately, but I still have the peace that this is where I am supposed to be.  I wonder, is God trying to stretch me? To see if I come to Him with all my cares.  He knows my heart, my deepest desires, and He hears me without me having to say a word. He knows. He loves me. He wants all of me. Does He have it? Am I content with just Him? When I stop and I see Him all around me, I feel His peace in my heart, I see those emotions I am feeling, and I remember it's ok...He made me, with my needs, my heart and those crazy emotions. And I know I only need Him.  He fills me to overflowing like no one else can. And He will never leave me, never forget me, never fail me.  He is mine and I am His. And my heart rests...
 
Love and hugs from CT!