Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer has the best days!

Summer is finally here! Today marks a week since the last school bell rang...and the first day we have been home all day, just us!  Last Monday we welcomed Phil, Beth, Autumn, and Caleb Endress for a few days.  They arrived just before 4 o'clock, and we enjoyed a quick pizza supper before Lucas had to take the boys to their baseball games.  The rest of us stayed home and played/worked(Phil). After Lucas and the boys got back, we enjoyed visiting, and many laughs catching up on each others lives! Tuesday morning I got the kids off to school, Lucas off to work, and the rest of us loaded up to head to the beach. The weather was cloudy, but warmish. Our gracious hostess, Jan, opened her home, fed us a delicious meal, and made us feel like royalty! There were some other familiar faces there, and we enjoyed the day together!
 Colten and Dylan
Caleb, Beth, Phil, Autumn
Me and Dylan
Caleb, Arianna, Dylan, Autumn
The rain held off until we got home, but we ended up grilling our supper in the rain! The kiddos thought it was pretty fun! 

Wednesday Beth and I met Darla Reutter for a picnic lunch, then I did some running with my kiddos while Beth brought hers home for naps before supper and church. We ate a quick supper, loaded up for church, and after church Phil and Beth headed for Maine, while we took their kids home for the night. Thursday I dropped Autumn and Caleb off at Darla's, then headed home to flip my house and get ready for our next round of guests!
My sister Teresa and her family arrived at our place about 4 Thursday afternoon. We visited while the cousins played, then they headed to Gene and Lynne's so I could get my house back in order for their stay on Saturday. Friday morning we got beds made and towels washed, then the big boys and I headed to the strawberry patch. Halle and Dylan stayed with Sheila Gerber so we could have strawberries when we got home, instead of mush. The picking was awesome! We had our boxes filled within an hour, headed home and started cleaning and stemming for jam! Sheila kept the other two entertained, or maybe they kept her entertained, but either way, I was able to get all my berries ready for the freezer or jam by just after lunch. I headed to pick the littles up, then we had a busy afternoon of running errands, and finished off our evening with Collin's final baseball championship game. 
My happy helpers!
Halle and Dylan

Collin's team lost their championship game, but they had a fun season!
The Yankees-2nd place
Saturday morning Teresa and Landon showed up and we got her laundry started. We stayed close to home most of the day, but after lunch, we snuck in to Kloter Farms for an ice cream cone and to enjoy the train rides they were giving as a customer appreciation day. When Lucas got home from work, we headed out the door again, this time for supper.  We stayed up too late and Sunday morning came way too quickly.  We woke to a rainy Father's Day morning, but by afternoon, the sun had peeked thru the clouds and we enjoyed a nice evening with family at Doug and Jane's.
 Halle, Lucas, Dylan, Collin, Bryce
After another late night, we headed down to the shore Monday morning.  Again, Jan graciously opened her home to us, although this time I insisted on bringing our own lunch and snacks. I was more than doubling the number visiting this week, so there was no way I was letting her feed us! But she still took awesome care of us!  We all enjoyed a most beautiful day at the beach.  The weather could not have been more perfect! 
 Halle and Lydia
 Dylan, body surfing in the sand!
 me and Teresa
 Me and Halle
After lunch we took a walk down the beach and found a few treasures, and this washed up, dried up sting ray! It was pretty cool! We found some dead, dried up crabs and many shells too!
 Collin, Bryce, me 
We headed for home about 5, decided we would order pizza, and Teresa finished up her laundry. Just like every other night we stayed up too late and I think I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow! Tuesday morning the Rowells were packed up and headed out just before 11.
My kids helped me get the house put back in order, then Halle and I headed for the orthodontist. Lucky Halle gets to wear an expander and braces for about a year. She will get a couple year break, then will most likely need another year of braces. So beginning in July we will begin phase one of emptying our wallet into Dr. Daniels wallet! ;)

Yesterday was our first day with everyone home and no company, since school got out. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day! There isn't much better than those lazy summer days, with no responsibilities, no where to go, and a good book in hand! Summer vacation day one...success! Here's hoping we enjoy many more days just like that!
We love company, and enjoy exploring Connecticut with those who visit!  Please come any time!
Lots of love and hugs from CT!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The blessing of Grandparents...

I hesitate to use the word blessing, because if you don't have what I have, does that mean you aren't blessed?  Absolutely not! If you have more than me, am I not blessed? No. But many of us look around and thank God for all the physical blessings we have, and we say He has blessed us. Yes, He does bless us with physical blessings, but I believe He also blesses us thru our trials. The Bible tells us the rain falls on the just and the unjust. So, our physical abundance, is just that, abundance, not given to God's faithful or favorites. But just given, and it is our duty to use that abundance to serve and glorify our Heavenly Father. 

That being said, I am going to use "blessing" to describe what I have been given...faithful grandparents. I have been thinking about this so much lately.  My husband's grandparents are all we have for grandparents, and one of his grandpas is not well.  A cancer diagnosis a year ago, with major surgery at that time, and more devastating news just a couple weeks ago, has made saying our goodbyes a reality sooner rather than later. 

I myself, I haven't had any living grandparents for over 21 years now. I didn't know my Dad's mother, and just barely remember his father.  I was 5 when Grandpa Beutel passed away.  I do remember bits and pieces.  Visiting him and Aunt Ruth in their apartment by church.  Then visiting him at the nursing home...the fish tank, tv lobby, and the lady that hollered during church services, when we would attend with him there. My mom's mother died quickly of a massive stroke when I was 10. My memories of her are better, coming to Grandpa and Grandma's, slipping into the livingroom to give them each a kiss, before heading outside to play with my many, many cousins.  The round ice cubes. Animal crackers she always kept for us in the bear tub on the counter, windmill cookies, helping her with spring cleaning, the memories are sweet! Her gentleness, that was just who she was, soft spoken, and a sweet smile. I'm sure she smiled at me many times, but I was too busy playing to notice, but she loved us...all of us!  My last memory is standing in the hospital looking at her lying there in the hospital bed, ventilator breathing for her, and burying my head in dad's waist sobbing.  I was young, but I loved her and she loved me. And Grandpa Wagenbach, he was so tall, even as he aged, he was a big man. And so loving.  He loved everyone, didn't matter who you were.  He lived the Word.  By the time I gave my life to God, and wanted to reap his wisdom, Parkinsons had set in and he had become forgetful. He wasn't the man he had been in his youth. Just three months later he passed away.  I loved my grandparents, but I was too young to really appreciate what they were, and what they could have shared with me.   

Ten years later I when I became engaged to Lucas, he still had all of his grandparents.  All four of them!  I was so excited to have grandparents again!  I told Lucas many, many times over, and his siblings too, how lucky they were to have their grandparents.  They needed to appreciate them! I'm sure they did, and do, but having had none for such a long time, I had really realized what a treasure grandparents were, especially Godly grandparents! The past twelve years have been a joy for me...spending time getting to know each of them.  Sharing moments with them. 

Many times early in our marriage, Lucas and I would travel to Elgin and spend the night with Grandpa and Grandma Gudeman. Such special times. They treated us like royalty, and I still make Grandma's Egg Casserole that she served for breakfast, each time we visited! YUM!! The swedish fish that always filled the candy dish, and of course the piles of goodies they would load us up with for the trip home. As we had more children and Grandpa and Grandma got a little older, we couldn't go overnight, but we still loved visiting.  We would spend the day in church with them, then go out for dinner before heading home. It was so easy to chat with them. The love they shared between them was beautiful. Grandpa waited on Grandma, and she would always tell us, she loved him just a little bit,with a twinkle in her eye!

And Grandpa and Grandma Stoller, just across town, in Bradford, were there for whatever we needed.  We would sometimes just stop in to see how/what they were doing!  And they loved our children so much! Never did my children shy away from Grandma Stoller.  They loved her as much as I did, and she loved us right back. Grandpa and his witty comments, Grandma with her heart the size of Texas, both of them with their smiles, hand squeezes just when you needed it, and so much love. And the prayers they uttered on our behalf...I am sure I can't even fathom!

The most precious part of all, all four of his grandparents loved me as one of their own...not as an in-law who married their grandson, but one of theirs.  I was/am so loved by them. I am so blessed to have been able to call them mine, even if just for a while! Now time marches on...the ones who we think will always be there forever, won't be. We will soon have to say goodbye, for a while, but still a goodbye .  Not one of us is promised tomorrow, but we just always assume tomorrow will come.  For Lucas, this is the first time he will say goodbye to a grandparent. I could say I'm an old pro, but who wants to be a pro at grieving the loss of someone so important, so special. His grandparents have become mine, and we will feel the loss deeply. We will help each other thru the losses, sharing each others burden of grief. And when those goodbye moments come, we will cherish these memories, the smiles and hand squeezes. The overnights, dinners out, making applesauce, tilling our garden, the chats on the phone. The example of faithfulness that grows thru the difficult moments of life...and the list goes on. We will thank God everyday for loving, faithful grandparents. We have been loved deeply and we have been very blessed!