Tuesday, January 12, 2016

HOLIDAYS!!

Christmas has come and gone since I blogged last. We are already two weeks into the new year! A bit difficult to believe, and I've had trouble finding time to update everyone on us...We enjoyed several Christmas concerts/programs at church and school. I love listening to the children sing their hearts out and play so well...the improvements so evident from last year! 
here are all four of my babies ready for our church Christmas program
this is Collin and one of his best buddies, Caleb, after their school concert
Our little Christmas tree...
Dylan was VERY into Christmas trees and all the lights this year. So to save a lot of trouble, we put up a Dylan-friendly/Dylan-size tree. He loved to sit beside it and look at the lights, or grab a stack of books to sit and read. Every morning we would come down, and he would plug in his tree to enjoy the lights.
 
We celebrated our family Christmas the Friday before Christmas. We knew we would be leaving for Illinois, and wanted the kids to have a few days to enjoy the few presents they were going to get. They have been enjoying their joint gift, a swingset, for the last couple months, so their present piles weren't very big. We asked them each to buy a gift for one sibling, to exchange. At first, I thought my idea of helping them to feel the joy of giving was all for naught...long story there, but when the day finally came to open our gifts, we could see the joy and excitement as they saw their siblings open the presents from each other!  Phew! 
Toasting with sparkling grape juice.
Our traditional Christmas dinner, so far, is homemade pizza! Easy, everyone LOVES it, and quick clean up!
        Time for presents...                                                     Dylan wasn't excited at all!
                 Collin is glad for his present from Bryce!                Bryce's new hat!                                    
Halle's new book from Collin!                         What did Daddy get!?
 
We headed for Illinois on Tuesday, the 22nd. Our plan was to drive about 8 hours, finishing our trip Wednesday, so we could be "home" in time for our first Christmas on Christmas Eve. 
Dylan crashed within minutes! (well-planned) Halle, Bryce and Collin...all smiles!
We were all VERY glad to see our hotel Tuesday night. Knowing we had another 8 hours the next day, we were ready for a break and enjoyed the pool for a while before hitting the sack!
Dylan and Lucas
Bryce and Collin
Halle
We made a slight detour thru Chicago to visit Grandpa and Grandma Gudeman in Elgin! 
Made it safely to Tremont Wednesday evening around 7:30. Several of my siblings were there to greet us, along with mom and dad!  

Dylan found "Pongka!"
 
            Bryce, Collin and Ty                                                Dylan and Aunt Brittany
Dylan found his Emma..."Emma's home!"
They were just a LITTLE bit excited to see each other after months of Skyping.
 

On the way, at one of our stops, Lucas gave each of the kids a quarter for the silly quarter machines. Bryce used his on a bracelet, receiving a purple one, with his twist of the handle. He decided he wanted me to have it, since it was my favorite color. When we got to my parents, he asked Grandma Beutel if she had a box he could wrap my present in. He told her he needed to write "To Diana," because there were too many "moms" and no one would know which one it was for. So my bracelet from Bryce! Too sweet!

 
I don't have too many of these, so here is me with Mom and Dad!
Dad with his 3 youngest grandchildren, Dylan, Wyatt, and Emma
Our family at the Beutel Christmas
playing games...
Christmas Day we attended services in Tremont before heading to Bradford for the Gudeman Christmas. 
My Happy Birthday Honey! Yes, he has a Christmas birthday.
The Gudeman grandchildren minus the newest who should arrive Feb of '16
 
presents
Halle and Tori in their matching scarves made by Aunt Bri.
Cardinal apparel for a few of the nieces and nephews from Aunt Miranda. 
 Rhea and Dylan...silly kids!
 Enjoying a foot massage after the presents were opened! This was followed by lotion being rubbed up and down my legs...a regular salon in Mom's family room!
These two...no words...just best buds!
 Sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's.
Tonya and Tyler stayed with all their kiddos, so we enjoyed a sleepover, complete with lack of sleep! I won't tell you what time Tonya and I finally called it a night!
 
After church Sunday we headed back to Peoria to stay one night with my family at a hotel. For many years, as children, we did this, making so many asesome memories.  Now we all want the same for our own kids. Always lots of fun and laughs. 
This year we had our first sock exchange...my new socks!
Of course we can't forget our sisters picture! I love these girls SO much!  
The three "little ones." William, Julie, me 
pool fun...Hannah, Alli, Chloe, Dylan, Caleb 
Bryce, Dylan, Halle
Monday an ice storm hit the central IL area. We had plans to stop in Goodfield and spend the night with our dear friends Mike and Amber Grimm. We had looked VERY forward to catching up again. When we arrived they had no power, so we visited by the fire, in the dark, until supper time. Then we decided to head to Peoria to eat. Mike and Amber treated us to Texas Roadhouse, before we headed back to their house, with news that the power had been restored! We SO enjoyed our visit and the kids had piles of fun!
theirs and ours...Bryce is cut off and Dylan is with the adults
Tuesday morning we hit the road around 8:30. We had such good traveling weather both directions and while we wished, just a tiny bit, for a white Christmas, we were also glad it was unseasonably warm and we didn't have to worry about snow/ice/sleet etc when driving 1000+ miles both ways! We stopped again on the way home and made it safely back to CT on Wednesday, the 29th. 
 
Dylan and me...still smiling
 
On our way home, as we stopped the last night, Lucas could tell I was a bit overwhelmed. I am one of those people who enjoys being at home, who needs my down time, and too much going is not so good for my mental health. After 8 days of going, being with people constantly, and not in my own house, he could tell I was done. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, and wouldn't have traded any part of our trip for a thing, even a quiet night at home, but I just need some time to process and gather myself. Anyway, he wrapped his arms around me as we lay in bed that night and asked what he could do to help me. I thought for a minute and told him to just take me home. He gently asked "which one?" As we lay there between the two places we've called home. And my heart knew...the one we were headed to. Take me home to CT! I was so thankful for that feeling. I hadn't realized until that moment that Connecticut REALLY has become my home. In my lifetime I've had 3 homes. My childhood home of Tremont, then Bradford which we called home for 9 years, and now Connecticut. Each place has been so important to my journey. Each place is filled with so many people who have touched our hearts. And so we call each place home. When we first moved, my heart yearned, even ached at times to be back in Illinois. I missed the familiar faces and knowing who everyone was, how each was connected to each other and their connections to me. I don't have the connections here like I did back in Illinois. But my connections are growing. Many friends here reach out to me, pray for me, and tell me how glad they are that we have made Connecticut our home. Over the past two years I've had my ups and downs, still do on occasion, but over the past two years, God has placed a contentedness in my heart to trust His ways, His will, and His purpose for me here.  And slowly I see, as I look back, His perfect ways are just that, so perfect. And I stand amazed. Then I wonder, why am I so amazed...He is God after all, but my fine human mind can't comprehend, so I stand amazed at His ways.
 
My brother William and his wife came to visit shortly after we got home. Since we didn't have room for all our presents, they brought us this block set that Lucas had made while we were in Illinois. I think everyone is enjoying it, not sure who is liking it the most though!

 Dylan
 Collin
 Halle and Bryce
Lucas                                                     William 
Dylan ended up sick for a few days, while William and Brittany were here.  Unfortunately I didn't get to do too many fun things. Lucas took them down to New York City last Thursday. They had a great trip, and Lucas is looking forward to going back, with me on his arm! William and Brittany left yesterday morning. We are so glad they came to see us, and apologize for the lack of entertainment, except that which our kids provided!
 
These last couple pictures are just random shots...but kind of fun shots...
Collin (number 13 in blue) is playing basketball this winter...here is a picture Dylan snapped while "playing" as we waited for the game to get over!
My happy helper...Dylan loves to help me do whatever I am doing, and sometimes what I am NOT doing. I found him cleaning my toilets one morning after breakfast. Hope this helpfulness continues!
 
Not much else to share. Hope this finds all well and healthy! 
Lots of love and hugs from CT!