Wednesday, December 31, 2014

365 days...From New Years to New Years!

The kids are all in bed, and I finally have a chance to sit.  I spent the day putting things away, doing laundry and getting the house back in order, after having been gone for a week.  As I was finding a new home for some of our Christmas presents this morning, I remembered a day, just a year ago, that we headed out of Bradford, for a "new" home. Tomorrow, January 1, a year ago, we would pull up to the place we've called home for the past 365 days. And we would be looking for a new place for everything in our household.  We carried our entire earthly possessions 1000 miles to make a new home.  It was kind of surreal to look out the van window and think everything we owned was in the trailer behind us. 

We had no idea what the year would bring, but looking back, it has been full of so many emotions.  The first few months we shed many tears, as we adjusted to life without those things familiar to us.  We met new people, made new friends, stumbled our way through unfamiliar territory.  I recall one evening both Lucas and I were in tears...just wanting "home" again.  We missed our little home in Bradford, our cozy basement with the wood stove...those things so familiar...we still miss it at times.

I remember feeling like I just wanted to talk to someone who "knew" me, so I wouldn't have to explain everything about myself. Someone who knew who I was, where I came from, who my family was, and all the other details we know about one another when we've been friends for life! I remember my heart aching for my children as I watched them struggle too...making new friends, being the new kid on the block, a new school, new church, new everything. We do still miss our sleepy town of Bradford, being able to walk a couple of blocks to the library, school, Great Grandpa and Grandma's, the swimming pool...any farther than that, and you would've been out the other side of town!

As the year progressed, the tears became fewer, and although we still have/had times when we longed for home (Illinois), we find our hearts glad to call Connecticut home. Without a doubt and with much thanksgiving, we serve a God who is faithful to us...we've been stretched beyond our comfort, but those stretches have made us realize we need our Father more than we ever thought before. We can be more than we think we are capable of, we CAN be what He makes us to be, because He can make our impossible, reality!!

Yes, we shed tears, but we also have shared laughs, smiles, new experiences, made new friends, and even though I think Illinois will always have a special place in our hearts, not one of us would take back the year we've been given. If we could have the best of both worlds, I think we would. But instead, we have a whole new world opened to us here, and now we have two places to call home. We have family and friends in Illinois, and those in Connecticut who have adopted us as family and call us friends.  We have been so blessed by this past year, and we are anxious to see what the future holds.  Whether good, or bad, we have the assurance of our God walking beside us each step of the way.

Merry Christmas 2014...we headed "home" last Tuesday December 23.  We packed up the van and headed out just after 5 am. We would be making the trip by car for the first time since we had moved.  While we were excited to see everyone, we were a little anxious about how the trip would go. We had a full week planned, and just 7 short days to drive 2000 miles and pack in 3 Christmases plus a few extra activities!  Here is our week in pictures...

We had a super trip...the kids did AWESOME!  When we stopped for breakfast about 8:30 Tuesday morning, we told the kids that we were 1/4 of the way done with our day.  Halle told me the last 3 hours had only felt like 1 minute! Wowsers!
 Bryce entertains himself with stickers
 We stopped in Howe, IN the first night. We enjoyed the pool, pizza on the bed, and a good night rest! 
Dylan after his shower the next morning...isn't this just the cutest!?
 We started in Elgin, IL for the Extended Gudeman Christmas on Christmas Eve.
 the food
 the games
We left Elgin around 7:00, headed down to Tremont to Mom and Dad Beutel's.  But made a quick drive thru this subdivision, just outside of Elgin, to see the lights!
Christmas Day we went to church services in Tremont, then my whole family crowded into Mom and Dad's livingroom.
Our little family
This is Dad's box of chocolate...he let everyone pick a few. Lucas thought I looked quite hilarious with a huge box of chocolate on my lap! The candy key was in the lid! 
 Lucas, Diana, William, Alayna's head, Brittany 
 A bunch of the girls on Leah's new chair
 playing games with Aunt Britt!
Dad B with his 3 youngest grandchildren
The next morning we finished out our time with my family by enjoying a brunch and playing games until early afternoon.  We left for Bradford around 1:45. 
 Dylan and Rhea
 Dylan...reindeer baby!
 Collin's new jammies
 Halle and Tori's new matching socks
 Miranda loves her wine bottle accessories from Kloter Farms!
 Two little sweeties in the sweets!
 decorating cookies
 decorating faces with Aunt Miranda's old makeup! 
Dylan made quite a mess at Grandma's, he pulled a bag of lima beans out of the freezer...Rhea was in quite a tizzy about it!  So funny!
Saturday we enjoyed the morning at Mom and Dad's with Shannon and Brianna, then headed to Peoria for a couple of fun stops, Owen Center and Bass Pro, then we headed to Hokaido for a hibachi grill supper.  Mom G surprised us by inviting my mom and dad to join us, so we got so spend a little more time with them! Late that night we received a call from Lucas' sister Tonya. She had her baby, so we got to stop in and see him quick before we left for home Sunday afternoon! 
 Lucas and his newest nephew
Sunday afternoon we headed for home.  We left Bradford around 3.  We had a 6 hour drive to our first stop, plus we would lose an hour.  We made good time, stopping near Sandusky, OH. Monday morning we checked into Castaway Bay Waterpark/Hotel. We spent the day riding water slides, playing in the wave pool, climbing obstacle courses and my favorite, the indoor/outdoor hot tub.  We debated staying another night, but I think we were all ready to just be home, because even the kids voted to head for home Tuesday morning. We squeezed in a couple more hours of play before we hit the road again around 11 am. We had perfect weather again, and made it home just before 9 pm last night. 
Home always feels so good! My bed, my pillow, kids in their own beds. After a week of playing musical beds/homes, we all slept like logs. Even my early risers slept in.  This morning they were excited to open boxes, put together new toys, try out their new RC helicopters/cars and just simply be home! 
We were blessed to be able to enjoy Christmas with Mom and Dad this year, mine and his.  We never know what the future holds, so we take each day as a gift. We count our blessings. And we pray for those we love...that they will feel our love from here and know we think of them often throughout the year. We ask God to watch between us, lessen the pain when the tears fall down our cheeks, and remember how blessed we are to have something/someone so special to miss!

Lots of love and hugs from CT!!





Monday, December 22, 2014

Our List...

So, last night we decided to ask the kids to write down 75 things they were thankful for. That shouldn't be too hard right!  Well, a certain someone thought it was a death sentence, so I decided to join them.  I mean really, if I can't think of 75 things I am thankful for, I have way too much and need to simplify so I can truly be grateful for all that I have. Some of the items on the lists made me chuckle, others made me smile, some brought tears to my eyes.  Some of you readers have even made the lists!  Here is a compilation of the 3 kids and my lists...these are in no specific order, but just a random combination of our lists!

1. Mom
2. Dad
3. Collin
4. Halle
5. Bryce
6. Dylan
7. Grandpa
8. Grandma
9. cousins...
10. aunts
11. uncles
12. hot chocolate
13. Bible
14. church
15. kisses
16. hugs
17. ice cream
18. our car
19. Ev
20. Sherry
21. Jane
22. Rhonda
23. horses
24. cookies
25. as we Midwesterners say "pop"
26. electricity
27. baseball bat
28. shoes
29. warm blankets
30. cozy fires
31. air
32. gas
33. candy
34. soap
35. water
36. gloves
37. chapstick
38. apples
39. bandaids
40. microwave
41. teachers
42. internet
43. Skype
44. God
45. Jesus
46. Christmas
47. presents
48. vacations
49. chocolate
50. hotels
51. cd players
52. clothes
53. Syriah
54. batteries
55. boats
56. chairs
57. toys
58. food
59. school
60. books
61. fuzzy slippers
62. peanut butter
63. sunshine
64. rainy days
65. sleep
66. Rockville church
67. airplanes
68. swimming pools
69. beach
70. doctors
71. hospitals
72. Lucas' job
73. Ronnie and Sheila
74. Tim and Dana
75. pencils

This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it include everything we listed, but just a few things we are thankful for! Was good for all of us to think of the things we take for granted every day, from our parents/siblings, to the silliest thing...pencils! Hope this finds all well and have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Love and hugs from CT!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lots to be THANKful for!

Since our last update, Thanksgiving has come and gone.  We were anticipating a snow storm Thanksgiving eve, and we did get snow.  Thanksgiving morning we woke to a Winter Wonderland! We headed to church, then came home threw together a jello salad, and headed to Steve and Jan Moser's! It was a lovely evening, and we felt just like one of the family!  What a warm feeling! 
 Here is Crystal Lake...looking across after the snow.  Looked like a snow village!
 Steve M. and Cindy Lanz carving our supper...
 Jan made hot chocolate for the kids!
 After two "baths" in the toilet, Dylan had no dry clothes left!
Playing games on our day off! No Black Friday shopping for us!
Since then, the days have been busy, finishing up Christmas shopping, delivering fundraiser stuff, Dr. appts, sick baby, parent-teacher conferences, and just every day things. All three of the kids are doing great in school, and we are THANKFUL! Last Friday I participated in a cookie bake/exchange.  A whole bunch of ladies from church met with cookie dough for 20 dozen cookies...we rolled, cut out, baked and decorated.  Enjoyed lots of laughs, shared lunch, then we each went home with a pile of cookies!  Not sure what we are going to do with all the cookies, but I sure had a great time! 
 Dylan with dad's socks on his hands and feet!
Helping mom make supper!
This past Saturday Bryce started basketball...he will get to play/learn for a few hours on Saturday mornings.  He had been counting down the days until he could start...he did so good.  It was so cute to watch the kids (all 5 and 6) dribble, shoot and just run their little hearts out! 
Tomorrow we head to Hartford again, another check up for Bryce's ears.  We haven't had a normal check up since we started our follow up in Connecticut, so we haven't been able to come up with a plan to fix his hearing deficit. I am praying that we will have a plan one of these days. He is such a trooper, but I just wish we could fix him! If only it were that easy!
Two weeks and we will be heading west!  Can't hardly wait to be "home" for the holidays.  We won't have nearly enough time, but we will take what we can get. 
Lots of love and hugs from CT...14 days and I will give you those hugs myself!!!!!