Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine

We came across the Seashore Trolley Museum as we were driving through Kennebunkport.    The museum is the largest electric railway museum in the world with a collection representing almost every major American city that had a streetcar system.  The trolley ride was a lot of fun and checking out all the older streetcars was fascinating.  We loved climbing up on the double decker and Bradley had fun pretending to drive.  The pictures came out better than I thought they would since I was just using my phone.  It's definitely a place to visit if you're in the area and I'm thinking a future birthday party for Bradley here would be a lot of fun!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Our Weekend Recap

It seems like forever since I posted one of our weekend recaps.  It was really nice to have a somewhat of a normal weekend.   We were still in the middle of house negotiations but managed to have some family time sightseeing at Cape Elizabeth and Kennebunkport.

After we finished looking at one house in Gorham on Saturday morning, we went for a drive around town.  Our new favorite sandwich shop is Amato's and they have so much more than just sandwiches!  We tried the house special pizza that is loaded with meat and veggies which was delicious.  We went to Portland Head House which is in Cape Elizabeth.  There is a beautiful walking path along the coastline with lots of benches along the way where you can just sit and soak up God's breathtaking creation.  It was a very gray day and even though it was 60 degrees, I was still cold to the bone.

We went grocery shopping at Whole Foods downtown Portland on Saturday afternoon.  It was extremely crowded and reminded me of SC when everyone hoards food in the grocery store when the weather calls for snow.  It was a bit overwhelming and I've decided never to shop on a Saturday in Whole Foods again.  When we were downtown Portland, we saw the Norwegian Dawn which was the exact same cruise ship we were on one year ago!  How cool is that??!! It was cold and rainy so we came back to the hotel for grilled cheese sandwiches and watched TV for the rest of the night.  We are really enjoying the free cable at the hotel!  

On Sunday morning we visited a church in Windham.  We stopped for donuts and coffee after church and made our way to Kennebunkport.  It was a gorgeous day for a Sunday drive and Kennebunkport is a beautiful, quaint town.  I can't wait to go back and shop in the cute little stores!  We stopped at the Seashore Trolley Museum, rode the trolley, and checked out all the old, retired train cars.  Bradley had a blast and is now into trains!  We came back to the hotel for a late lunch/early supper.  I'm going to appreciate my kitchen in my new home in a whole new way after cooking in the tiny hotel kitchen with limited supplies.

This weekend was really good for our family.  We weren't as homesick for SC and felt like we have started to adjust to Maine.  It was nice to have some great family moments and not stress about house hunting.  We narrowed our house search down to two homes and prayed God would make it very obvious which house to buy.  After negotiations didn't pan out on the first house, the second house came through perfectly.  God gave us perfect peace that the second house was where we needed to be.  As of Sunday night, we have a signed contract on a house!  The next steps are home inspections, appraisal and just waiting for the bank to give us a closing date!  Praise Jesus that one more step of moving to Maine is over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

It's been two weeks since we moved to Maine.  What a roller coaster of emotions we've experienced in the last two weeks. We were relieved to finally arrive in Maine but also nervous about finding our way around a new city and state.  We are so thankful for the beautiful hotel that we have for the next two months but anxious to find our own house where we can settle in.  The  excitement of looking for a new house quickly turned into disappointment when we realized the housing market isn't like anything we were used to in SC.  We are in awe with the beauty of Maine but are sad that we don't have any friends yet to share it with.  My husband posted this on Facebook a couple days ago:

When I recall how God moved mountains and guided us so clearly to Portland He reminds me to not second guess His plans for us now that we are finally here. I mentioned to Ashley several times before coming here that we would wake up one morning and say, OK Lord, now what? I knew even months ago that we had to be realistic about being in a new place. I knew that once the excitement of the move faded we would be facing a foreign place far away from the family, friends, church and purpose that we enjoyed in Greenville. 

That morning came for me several days ago, and, even though it was not a surprise attack, I have to admit the reality check was harder to swallow than I thought it would be. My faith and trust in God is still strong and I know that He has called us here for a reason but it just doesn't feel good to me right now. In fact it feels awful and lonely. I know that my feelings don't overrule God's plans but I'm just keeping it honest so that all those who are praying for us can pray more specifically and more often. 

Please pray for us as we look for a new church and new relationships that we will continue to be patient and listen to God's leading. Also please pray that God will protect Ash and I from discouragement and second guessing ourselves and God. Please pray that as we look for our new home that God will help us to be wise with our finances and to be patient. We sold, or I should say "God sold", our home in about 10 days and we thought the hard part was over. After 10 days of looking we have not even begun to narrow down the general area that we need to be in. Ashley has been working tirelessly on this project but Portland real estate is nothing like we are used to. 

Lastly, please pray for me as I study for two securities exams needed for my new job. They are not the hardest securities tests that I have ever taken but with all that is going on around and inside of us, I need many prayers for help in passing these tests.

I pretty much cried when I read his post.  We are both trying to be so strong for each other but we are each battling the same feelings.  

I love the song "Just Cry" by Mandisa especially the words:

"It doesn't mean you don't trust Him
It doesn't mean you don't believe
It doesn't mean you don't know
He's redeeming everything"

God has something amazing for our family here in Portland, Maine. I truly have peace that this is where He wants us.  But for now while dealing with all these emotions...I'm just taking off my brave face and crying.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our One Week Road Trip

Wow!  I can't believe we have finally made it to Maine.  I left Greenville, SC on Wednesday, August 20 and arrived in Maine on Wednesday, August 27.  Mike still had training in OH and WI so Bradley and I hit the road visiting relatives and making lots of memories.  We put a little over 2200 miles on my Honda Pilot in one week.  I didn't get pictures of everyone we visited...my brain was in fog mode from all the driving.  I'm so sorry to those I left out including my sister!  I can't believe we didn't even get one picture of us together!!  Here are some of the pictures from our road trip:

Our first stop was breakfast at Panera Bread in Oak Ridget, TN to see my Dad.  We had a great breakfast at our favorite place and Bradley loved the fun travel bag TN Papa gave him.

Bradley was asleep within about 30 minutes from leaving Oak Ridge.  He was such a trooper being crammed in a tiny space for so many hours!

We stayed the night with Uncle Jim and Aunt Patti in Marion, IL.

They have 3 dogs and one puppy.  They were all so well behaved!

Bradley loved playing chase with the little puppy, Four Bits.

I'm pretty sure we would have both taken the puppy home if Aunt Patti would have let us!

On Thursday we headed to see my Papa Goodman in Makanda, IL.  Uncle Phil, Aunt Connie, my cousin Tim and his wife Andrea came over for dinner.  It was so great to finally meet Andrea.  I missed their new baby being born by 2 days!  

We met Aunt Cherie in Nashville for a quick lunch on Friday.

Bradley and I got to spend some time at my Mother's grave.  
The song "You Wouldn't Cry for Me Today" by Mandisa was perfect for this moment.

We had to find a laundromat to wash clothes.  Bradley loved watching the dryer spin.

Lunch at Cracker Barrel on Sunday was perfect for breaking up our long
 11 hour trip to Maryland.

I'm pretty sure Bradley's favorite day was on Monday in Pomfret, Maryland.  He LOVED playing with 7 of his cousins.  He was ready to move into my sister's house and kept asking me where his new room was. 

They played outside for hours!  The weather was beautiful.

Pizza picnic lunch party! 

On Tuesday we headed to Ridgefield, CT where Mike's sister Tina and her family live.  Uncle Kevin, Aunt Dorrie, Auntie KK, Mama G, and Grandpa & Grandma Genovese all met us there for supper.  It was so great to see everyone and Tina made a delicious supper!!

Mama G rode with me the rest of the way from CT to Maine.  It worked out great especially since I was exhausted from driving in New Jersey.  It will totally be ok if I never have to drive through there again!  Mama G was a better navigator than Siri and even knew the exact amounts of all the tolls I went through.  It was an easy 4 hour drive to Portland on Wednesday!

We made a stop for lunch at Cracker Barrel.  

Seeing that sign made me VERY happy! 

Bradley had all his toys unpacked in our hotel within a few minutes.

And he was so happy to have his first long bubble bath in a week! 

This picture makes me so happy I can cry.  It was such a relief to all be home together in Portland on Friday night!  Thank you Jesus for safety with all the road travels, plane flights, and hotel stays.  We are blessed to be together as a family starting this new chapter in our lives in Portland, Maine!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Last Night in Our First House

It's been an emotional weekend.  So many lasts, so many goodbyes, so many memories. 
Tonight will be our last night in our first house.  There are so many beautiful memories this house holds.  The bedrooms where so many precious foster children found safety, love, and became a part of our family.  The kitchen and family room where new friendships were formed and lifetime memories were made.  The dining room where so many meals were eaten with family & friends and card & board games were played.  The backyard which was perfect for bonfires, games of football or catch, and Bradley's first swingset. 
When we first moved into this house we both wanted this house to feel like a home.  We wanted anyone that entered to feel like family.  It didn't matter if paint on the walls chipped, stains on the carpet were made, or the hardwood floors became scratched.  It was our home and those "flaws" reminded us that everything in this life will be gone one day.  What matters is the relationships we build with people, our foster children seeing Jesus through us, and the difference we make in someone's life.
Greenville, SC will always hold a very special place in my heart.  It was here that I became who I am today.  It was here where I fell in love with my husband.  It was here where my precious Bradley was created.  It was here where so many beautiful foster children changed and blessed my life in so many ways.  It was here where I built relationships with friends that became my family. 
As I say goodbye to my life in Greenville, SC, I hope that I allowed someone to see Jesus in me.  Because that's all that matters.  Nothing else.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tenth and Final Week of Summer Fun

And the summer is officially over.  Wow!  I can't believe how fast those 10 weeks went.  What an incredible summer we made with lots of fun memories!  I can't wait to put a  photo book together for Bradley so he will always remember Summer 2014.
On Monday we met some friends at a park in the morning.  The rest of the day was full of packing and the boys finishing up some library books.
Our plans had to be changed up on Tuesday so we went to Legacy Park with my nieces.  It's a nice little park with lots of great places to take pictures.  The kids loved climbing on the rocks near the creek.  On Tuesday afternoon, our friend Chase came over and the boys made Flubber together.  I'm pretty sure they like Flubber over Play-Doh and it's so simple to make!



On Wednesday, sweet Kalli came over to play with the boys.  They were outside most of the morning.  A car oil change and car wash was their excitement for the afternoon!


On Thursday we met some friends at David Jackson park and they played for 2 full hours there.  It was a gorgeous morning!  I bribed them with ice cream so I could get a quick hair cut that afternoon.  :)

 On Friday we met friends at Pump It Up for open play time.  The boys were a hot sweaty mess in just an hour.  They love the big slide!  We ended our summer with a nice lunch with Amanda (Kaden's Mom) at Chick-fil-A.  I sure am going to miss that sweet boy and his parents!  I'm going to have to convince them to fly Kaden up to Maine next summer!