2016 Year in Review

January:

Wade Henry Butler was born on January 22nd!

February:

I drove to Michigan (by myself for the 1st time) to meet Wade

March:

I went to Hawaii to help Marcy with Jeff. Jeff had surgery to reattach his skull (and it was his birthday)!

April:

Not much happened in April. Paul continued to enjoy paintball, and I was busy substitute teaching at the school.

May:

Great Oaks completed their paintball course.

I also covered a maternity leave at school and taught Kindergarten for 2 weeks!

June:

Camp started at Great Oaks!

I went to Birmingham, AL, to see Lindsey Derrick get married.

Marcy, Jeff, and Kainani spent the summer in Austin, TX, so Jeff could receive services at Speech Lab, a nonprofit organization that offers extensive speech therapy to stroke victims.

July:

I traveled to Texas to visit family…

August:

Paul and I took our “comp week” and went camping in Michigan (after a weekend of paintball in Indianapolis).

September:

Jeff and Marcy decided to stay in Austin for the fall, as well. Paul and I continued to work and play. Paul also joined the gym (in Lacon), so we’ve enjoyed going to the gym together!

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October:

In October I drove to Michigan (again, by myself) to celebrate Wade’s baptism, as well as watching Drake march in the band on Friday night and watching Grady’s football game on Saturday.

We had the Great Oaks Annual Banquet in October.

November:

I went to EUROPE!!

December:

Paul and I drove to Texas for Christmas

Apparently 2016 was full of travel!

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Christmas 2016 Part Four

This is just a quick post with pictures from Marcy’s camera.

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Christmas 2016 Part Three

Thursday and Friday we spent in Wills Point….

There was lot of 4-wheel driving!

Grady, Drake, and Jackson/Lisa

Jeff even got on with Dustin! 🙂

There was some tractor driving, as well!

Uncle Johnnie, Wade, and Scott

And, of course, lots of picture taking!

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2nd cousins: Wade, Grady, Drake, Stephanie, Kainoa, Hannah, Michelle, Clint, Jackson, Meagan, Ryan, Clayton, Ava, and Kainoa (minus Alika and Jonah)

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Grady, Jackson, Ryan, Kainoa, Stephanie, Drake, Ava, and Hannah

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Original 7 cousins: Dustin, Marcy, Leslie, me, Judson, Carla, and Tom Jr.

On Friday morning our cousin, Terri, drove over from Caddo Mills. She is our cousin, on my mom’s side; we don’t see her that much, so I’m glad she drove over.

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The Hubbard/Forsyth cousins

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Hubbard family with Terri

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Terri and Lisa were both diagnosed with breast cancer this year. So, these are the three BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS in our family!! 🙂

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The original Hubbard 5

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The 3 Hubbard girls

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Paul and me

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The Butler’s

These are just some random pictures of the Butler’s from Christmas! 🙂

We had a long trip but a good one! I’m glad we went!

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Christmas 2016 Part Two

On Tuesday, the 27th, Paul and I split up for the day. He stayed in Temple and hung out with his sister and his dad, and I went to Waco. I had lunch with the Derrick’s and then spent the night at my parent’s house. EVERYONE was together, except Alika, who was in Colorado.

It was a wild, crazy, tense time, but I’m glad we went!

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Wade has grown up so much since I saw him in October! He’s standing up, crawling (aka scooting), and babbling! He is such a happy baby!

Wednesday morning I went and got Paul and we had Christmas together, as a family!

(Being Wade’s 1st Christmas, there are a lot of pictures of Wade)! 🙂

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Kainoa and Drake in their matching Christmas sweatshirts

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The Thomas family

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The Butler’s

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The Tanner’s

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The cousins

Paul met Wade for the 1st time on this trip; they turned out to be pretty good buds!

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Jeff and Paul were quite the pair, trying to roll the croissants for lunch! 🙂

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Paul and Wade even took an “after lunch” snooze together!

On Wednesday afternoon we drove up to Wills Point to see all the rest of the family! 🙂 Johnnie, Ila, Dustin, Lisa, and their kids were in from California! On Thursday we ended up having 34 people at Uncle Tom’s house!

That’s another post

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Christmas 2016 Part One

We, once again, headed south for Christmas! We put just under 4,000 miles on our car driving to Texas (and back, of course)! And, Paul drove the whole time!!

First stop was in Springfield, MO, to see my friend, Paige. We had dinner with her on Thursday night, Dec. 22nd. I’m kicking myself because I didn’t get a picture with her, but it was nice to catch up! (She’s in Kenya, Africa, as I type)!

On Friday, Dec. 23rd, we got close enough to the Texas border to have Whataburger for lunch!

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Please excuse my “no make-up” face; we’d been in the car for 12 hours already!!

Friday night, after dinner at Jake and Dorothy’s in Stephenville, we finally made it to Hamilton!

Susan, Paul’s sister, recruited us to help her decorate sugar cookies. I don’t think she knew what she was getting into when she asked Paul to help! 🙂

The snowmen ones are mine; all the rest are Paul’s! 🙂

On Saturday, the 24th, we drove up to Chico, TX and had lunch with Paul’s extended family (his aunt/uncles, cousins, etc). Mike, Paul’s dad, is the youngest of 7, so he comes from a big family. There were 19 of us there that day. And, we took NO PICTURES!!!

Sunday, the 25th, we drove over to Gustine, TX, outside of Comanche, where Paul’s brother, David, lives. He bought a house on foreclosure on about 30 acres. It’s beautiful (and has a beautiful lake and a pool)!

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Susan, Paul, and David

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We tried to take a picture in front of the tree. We covered up most of the tree, and the light was bad, out of the window, so we tried again!

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On Monday we drove to Brownwood and had lunch with Paul’s best friend, Nathan. Again, I’m shooting myself for no picture, but it was a nice visit!

Monday night we drove to Austin (from Brownwood) and had dinner with Walker! 🙂 (No trip to Texas is complete until we see Walker)!

(His hair is bleach blonde because he dyed it for football play-offs!

 

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Europe 2016-Day 9 (The Netherlands)

Thursday, Dec. 1st was my last day in Europe, so Kara decided we should go to The Netherlands to visit. They used to live in Wassenaar (a city in The Netherlands), so that was kind of fun for her to go back….she and Carter even ran into 2 people they knew from when they lived there, which was 5 years ago!

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A windmill in the center of Wassenaar.

This was a chocolate shop where Kara used to buy chocolates and cake supplies for her “in-home” bakery she had!

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(Carter skipped school on Thursday and went with us)!

Carter is standing in front of their old house; they used to live on top of the toy store!

After Wassenaar we drove over to Gouda, also in The Netherlands.

We had lunch at the cutest little restaurant called Juul’s.

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All of their employees are adults who have specials needs. They don’t write down your order; they allow you to “mark” it on a piece of paper, and then they take it back to the cooks, who make it.

My hot ham and cheese panini was AMAZING!

(Such a neat concept for a restaurant)!

We also had stroopwafel! Kara wanted to share one, but I, of course, did not! 🙂
20161201_151300Stroopwafel is a “fried” waffle with a sugary, syrup in the middle–super yummy!

We got back home around dinner time!

I will NEVER be able to pay Andrew and Kara back for their hospitality, their generosity, and their friendship! It was an amazing trip, one I will not forget!

(And, I’m so glad I got to go when I did because they now live in Maryland)! 🙂

 

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Europe 2016-Day 7 (Germany)

On Tuesday, Nov. 29th, we took the train to Cologne, Germany!

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This a beautiful, ornate cathedral in Cologne, Germany. It is called the Kolner Dom (known as Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus, High Cathedral of Saint Peter). It was SO BIG!! I couldn’t even get the whole building in a picture—

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In Cologne we took a little “train/tram” around to 4 different Christmas markets.

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We pretty much ate our way through the Christmas markets! 🙂 We had potato pancakes, which were basically fried hashbrowns! I also ate Katewurst, which was German sausage with cheese inside of it!

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I love this picture of us together, on the little tram!

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We also found another cathedral, St. Aposteln to look in–they were everywhere!

We were home by 8PM–about a 12 hour day!

 

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Europe 2016-Day 6 & 8

I’m gonna skip over Day 7 (because that was the day we went to Germany, and it deserves its own post). I’ll just group Day 6 & 8 together….

On Monday, Nov. 28th, we drove to Brussels to see more of the city than just the airport and the train station (which is all I had seen of the city, thus far).

Kara said you really need to see the Grote Markt (the Grand Palace) at night because it’s all lit up, but alas, we just didn’t have to go at night. So, we settled for a day trip.

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It was really pretty, even during the day.

One of the most famous “icons” in Brussels is the Maneeken

Pis

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I’m not sure if you can really tell what he’s doing, but….he’s peeing (the water fountain is him peeing)!

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He also has over 900 outfits, and everyday he wears a new outfit!

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The city is littered with graffiti, as well, so I took a picture with the Maneeken Pis art!

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When no one else travels with you, you have to take a lot of selfies!

For lunch we went to Chutney’s Brasserie. I had Vol at vent au coucou deMalines (and frites fraches)

It’s really just a fancy name for open-faced chicken pot pie and french fries! It was really good!

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(Skipping Day 7)

On Wednesday, Nov. 30th, we had a nice, relaxing morning at home (we actually didn’t go anywhere)!! Carter got out of school at 12:45, so we waited for him and then headed to Mechlen, Belgium, about 2 hours away from her house. We got there in the early evening, and the city was all lit up for Christmas….I really thought it was a beautiful city.

We walked around St. Rumbold’s Cathedral for a bit….

We stopped into a local cafe’ for a bit, to warm up, get some coffee, and go to the bathroom!

It was fun afternoon!

 

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Europe 2016-Day 4-5 (Paris)

So, we headed to the train station in Brussels and headed to Paris!

This is us, bright and early on Saturday morning, waiting for the train.

The bathroom at the train station doesn’t open until 8AM; if you have to go to the bathroom before that, too bad! (We got there at 7:00AM, so I had to wait an hour to pee)! It also cost 60 cents (euros) to go to the bathroom.

We stayed at the Le Claridge, right on Champs-Elysees. The Arc de Triumph was right at the end of our street.

So, we decided to do a “Hop On/Hop Off” bus tour, which was a great decision. They had several different routes that you could choose from, and basically hop on/hop off where ever you wanted. They buses came around every 15-20 minutes, so whenever you were ready to go to the next spot, you just hopped back on.

Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower!

We did not go UP in the Eiffel Tower, but we were able to go through security and walk around underneath it.

After the Eiffel Tower, we went to the Louvre. Again, we did not go inside the Louvre (the wait was probably about 3-4 hours, we guessed).

I loved the buildings that were built on the corners, where two streets met. They looked so pretty. The architecture in Paris, of course, is just unbelievable. There was also a ton of gold everywhere–it was all so ornate and GRAND!

After the Louvre we headed over to the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

(Funny picture–Kara got cold while we were on the bus. She didn’t have any gloves, but she did have socks in her purse; they made good gloves)! 🙂

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After the Cathedral of Notre Dame we had lunch. I ate a croque-monsieur, and Kara had quiche. Basically mine was a baked ham and cheese sandwich, but the cheese is on the top. It was yummy. We also had a Nutella crepe for dessert.

After our “Hop On/Hop Off” tour we went to the Christmas Market, which was just down the road from our hotel. We walked around for awhile, and I bought a few souvenirs. We had dinner reservations at 7:30PM, so after the market, we went back to the hotel and hung out for just a bit.

 

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Dinner was fabulous! Lots of food and lots of wine! 🙂

After dinner we walked back to the Eiffel Tower to see it at night. It “twinkles” on the hour, so we were able to see it at 10:00PM

On Sunday morning we woke up and had brunch at a local cafe’

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I think the alcohol from the night before made my face very puffy in this picture! 🙂

Don’t you always get fresh, hot croissants, a cappuccino, and an orange juice/pink champagne mix for breakfast!?! Seriously, I was well-fed on this trip!

After brunch Kara said we just had to go to Ladure’e to get macaroons. So, we waited 45 minutes in line to get macaroons!

We left Paris around 2PM and headed back to Brussels

 

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Europe 2016-Day 1-3

Back in mid-Spring Kara asked me if I would be interested in coming to visit her (and her family) in Belgium. She and Andrew (and Carter and Trent) have lived there for about 2 years. Because Kara said that she and Andrew were willing to cover the cost of the trip, I jumped on it!

So, on November 21st I flew from Peoria to Detroit, Detroit to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Brussels. I arrived on Wednesday, November 22nd, around 3:00PM.

Kara and Andrew live in Tervuren, which is about 15-20 minutes outside of Brussels.

The bottom front windows are part of the kitchen. They can open all of them and call out to people that have driven up to their home or call outside to neighbors, if they are outside. It was really cool!

The first night I was there, Kara and I (with Carter and Trent) just went out to a local tavern (Del Angel) for a beer and a crepe’

The next day (Thursday) we drove over to Leuven, Belgium, about 20-30 minutes away from her house. It was a cute little town, and they had the BEST chocolate shop!!

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Grote Markt (Great Market Square)

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St. Peter’s Church

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I loved all the cobblestone streets. Trent loved them, too. Every time we got off of a cobblestone street, he would cry! 🙂

I also had a Belgian waffle while we were in Leuven. It was so yummy–crispy and caramelized around the edges.

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Thursday was Thanksgiving (at least here in the states, it was). They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Belgium, but Kara was very sweet to make a nice dinner, complete with turkey loin (and prosciutto), mashed potatoes, salad, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. It was really yummy–

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Friday we went to Bruge, which was one of my favorite ciites in Belgium. It was so beautiful–just a cute little city, built on a canal.

They had the BEST hot chocolate! It was a block of dark chocolate, on a stick, melted into a cup of hot full-fat milk. It was so good!! 🙂

(Just a little back story)–about 3 weeks before I went, Kara told me she had bought train tickets for us to go to Germany on Saturday, just for the day. That was fine by me, and I was looking forward to it. Well, Thursday night Andrew suggested we go to Paris on Saturday, instead of Germany. He even said we could spend the night, since it was the weekend; he could watch the boys. So, in a matter of about 30 minutes, we had changed our train tickets, booked new train tickets, and reserved a hotel)!

So, Saturday we got up SUPER EARLY and took the train to Paris! (I actually slept through my alarm, and Kara woke me up at 6:08! We were supposed to leave at 6:15)!!

Paris deserves its on post, though! Too many pictures!!

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