Our family

Our family

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bloom Where Planted

                                 
                                      Even in black and white, it is beautiful! 




We are preparing to enter a big week in our lives. Travis will turn six on Thursday, school will start on Monday, Garett will turn ten on Tuesday, and Roger and I will celebrate our eleventh anniversary next Friday! 

The past week was a rough one for me. I found myself short on patience, lacking grace with our children, and just generally struggling with discouragement. I'm sure my children probably thought I was losing my mind on several occasions. As often happens, after a mountain top experience such as having the blessing of having some of the boys eduction paid for, the devil hurls darts at every corner. To mention just a few things: the wash machine quit working, the pantry door accidently got locked from the inside so we couldn't get into the pantry, the dishwasher broke, our insurance cards managed to get lost in the mail, Roger worked many long hours, and my children looked for every opportunity to annoy each other! However...by the grace of God, we did survive! 

I was texting with a friend about some of my struggles this past week, and she reminded me that God would help me bloom where He planted me. I thought about that, and I think my blooms are in a drought. I can see a few buds forming, and maybe the blooms are coming. I know that reaching out to our neighbors, the pastor of the local church here, and those around me is a good start. My heart longs for fellowship of another mom in my season of life, but I know that God does have a plan. I pray often for my kids to develop Godly friendships in school, to be a Godly testimony, and to seek Him with their whole heart. It just recently occurred to me to start praying for those same things in me. 

And in the midst of struggles and trials, God gave blessings in the form of distractions and people. I'm very thankful for my sister, Hannah. We went to her house on Thursday, and then we went and picked wild blueberries. That was such fun for the kids and myself! I had never used a blueberry rake and neither had my sister. The boys amazed me with how fast they caught on to using the blueberry rake efficiently. We picked fifteen quarts of blueberries in about forty minutes. Hannah needed ten as she was planning on freezing some. I knew that the boys would probably want to come again, so I just picked five quarts. By Friday afternoon, I had about three cups of blueberries left...and I didn't make anything with them! My children received a hefty dose of antioxidants from the blueberries, and I guess I shouldn't complain about it. They are very, very small berries, but they are deliciously sweet. When I made muffins with the remaining few cups of berries, I cut down on the sugar simply because of the sweetness of the berries. It was another fun Maine adventure. 

                       Blueberry Adventures! 


We also had our first family over for dinner last week. The pastor and his wife, from a local church,  came over for supper on Tuesday of last week. We had such a good time of fellowship. They both are from Maine and have lived in this state all of their lives. They conversations hold such a wealth of information about the state and area. It really was a sweet evening of conversation. They left our house with plans to do something again in the future. The pastor's wife called me on Thursday to thank me for the good time, and to invite us over to their house sometime in the next few weeks. I am looking forward to that. 

Roger finally had off on Saturday, and he spent much of the day trying to fix the wash machine and the dishwasher of which neither was successful. In between that he was busy trying to take the boys on individual dates. The boys are getting older, and we try to catch molehill problems before they become mountains of problems. He needed to spend some one-on-one time with them. I appreciate the fact with in the middle of everything that he needed to get done, he spent time with them. Also on Saturday, we had a small birthday celebration for all of our August birthdays! Hannah and Josh came down for the evening, and we had cake, birthday presents, and fun. Since Emma, Travis, and Garett all have birthdays this month, we combined everything into one event. It was fun for the kids even though I know they missed having friends to invite. 

On Sunday we visited yet another church. I can see why people like to see our family come...who wouldn't want a bunch of kids to come to church?! However, although it seems like more people attend church than in Wisconsin the majority are older folks. This was a church that had the liveliest pastor and music group but the most senior citizens in the congregation. I think we noticed a total of two children in the  group that was there on Sunday. Do I think we could be a blessing to that church? Absolutely! And there were some things that we really liked about the church family. However, not only would there be a lack of common age friends  for our children, there would also be a lack of common age friends for Roger and I. Now don't get me wrong...I love older people! I can learn so much from them, but Roger and I are both praying for a church that has a variety of ages of people in the congregation. Like I said in an earlier post, we've seen opportunities to serve at every church we've visited. And we pray daily, sometimes hourly, for peace about a church. It may seem like we are picky or taking too long, but since this is a place we are looking to invest in the lives of others as well as the place for our children to grow in their relationships with the Lord, we aren't going to be rushed into this.

We attended another local free event on Sunday afternoon. This one was held at a local farm stand and orchard. They hosted a neighbor night, and invited everyone in the area for a free meal on their property. Like most Maine events that we've gone to, this one was alcohol-free and family friendly.  And it was free food! The kids had a great time playing on the tractors and swings. It's been fun to experience different events around here, and to see the kids reactions to the activities offered such as the lobster crate race, the Moxie chugging challenge (a Maine soda drinking contest), and harness racing. I'm thankful for the life experiences that they are enjoying first hand. 

                
                                                   Memories! 
 
We rejoice in God's sovereignty  and thank Him for his goodness to us. We are blessed. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A BIG Blessing and a Birthday!


               
                                            Lobster Festival!! 




The big, big blessing and praise is at the bottom of the page, so be sure to read that part! 
 

This is a link to photos from the Lobster Festival: 

Since August has begun, we've celebrated Emma's third birthday, met with Wyatt's teacher, and participated in our first ever Lobster Festival! 

It's hard to believe that Emma has turned three! She's fully potty trained, even at night, knows most of her alphabet, and is becoming fiercely independent! She's keeps her brothers busy as she has figured out how to open drawers, closets, boxes, and other things that the boys use to store their treasures in. Emma's favorite color is pink, she doesn't like being dirty or wet, and her brothers are her best friends and worst enemies. It was a quiet birthday, as Hannah and Josh were working. They are coming down later in the month for a family celebration. Emma was happy with her birthday present of a pink back pack from Nana and Papa, a new toothbrush set and clothes from aunt Jen, and five dollars from Grandpa and Grandma. Emma celebrated her second birthday in Arizona, and she had her third birthday in Maine! 

                           Happy Birthday Emma!! 


We also met with Wyatt's teachers this week. She also gave Travis a kindergarten screening test. She has been teaching for many years, and I can tell that she is comfortable around children. Travis did not excel at the screening test as I thought he would. He's had half a year of kindergarten, but he apparently forgot all he learned! Oh well, he did pass and he is ready for kindergarten. As inconvenient as it might be to drive back and pick him up from half-day kindergarten, I'm looking forward to having him home in the afternoon. Wyatt also did a bit of screening and he is a little behind where he should be for second grade. It's hard to know though how much of that is actually behind, and how much of that is ten weeks of summer break! I am reviewing with him over the next several weeks though, just to try to help him along. Wyatt seems to like his teacher, and I think she will be a good teacher for him. We are two and one-half weeks out from starting a big change in our lives. Our children are excited, and I am looking forward to seeing how God uses this experience in their lives. 

The Lobster Festival was this past weekend. It was all things Lobster!! It's a five day festival that is held at a local town near here, it costs money to go on Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday is reserved for family fun day, and it is free. There was a big parade on Saturday that was free as well, and the kids received enough candy for a year! The parade was one and one-half hours long, with various bands, lobster floats, candy throwers, fire trucks, and did I mention lobster floats?! Oh, and also a float for hosting the woman who earned the title "Maine's fastest knitter" at the festival on Wednesday. Roger was working, so I took the kids to the parade. Roger has been working a lot, and I find myself praying for rain just so that he will get to come home early! I had a good time with our kids though, and it was a good introduction to something that occurs every year in the first week of August around here. 

On Sunday, the festival offers a kids fun run, a 5k race, and a 10k race. Garett and Chandler both wanted to participate in the kids fun run, and I decided to run the 10k. My policy with race events on Sunday has always been that I have to be done in time for church. The race started fairly early in the morning, and I finished before church! It was a good reminder that I can push my body harder, and it was a good reminder on Monday that I'm not 23 years old any more!! 😚

We spent the afternoon at the festival, watching the lobster crate races, the family events, and eating unhealthy food. It was a good time as a family, and the boys have decided that they would like to participate in a few other events next year. I am thankful that Roger had off so that we could enjoy the day together. 

And, I've found someone to come to our house for supper! We ran into the Pastor and his wife of one of the churches that we visited at Walmart, and I invited them to supper. We are having dinner with them on Tuesday evening. I'm looking forward to having dinner and fellowship with them. God is good. 

Rogers brother, Nate, is coming to visit for a few days. I know that Roger is looking forward to having his brother around, and I'm thankful that the Lord worked it out for him to come. 

Now...for a really big blessing!!! Did I mention that God is good?! So, the director of the school board sent me an e-mail this morning. She mentioned that someone had sent in a check to cover the boys registration fees of $225.00 each, and enough extra to cover almost two months of tuition! How awesome is that?! I have been praying for God to show himself strong in this school decision, and He is doing exactly that. While I cried tears of joy, I was rejoicing that God continues to show himself strong. I don't know who sent in the money, but it was used to bless my heart more than words can express. 

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3: 20-21


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Our First Full Month!

July 31, 2016

Our first whole month in Maine has been completed. It's not been without challenges and struggles, but moments of fun and new experiences have been enjoyed also. 
                       
                                               "Fun with Friends"

This past week was a week of new experiences, re-United friendships, and fun memories. The past week has been hot, so last Monday we took a little field trip. We went out to Pemaquid beach and light house. Pemaquid beach is one of the rare naturally sandy beaches in Maine. The water was still too cold for me to get in, but our kids certainly enjoyed it. Maybe it's those Canadian summer experiences with an early morning swim with the campers, but I'm instantly refreshed as soon as my toes hit the water! There is no need for me to do much more than wade, as it is cold water! I did enjoy the sunshine, warm sand, and the walk on the beach as well as making memories with our family. We visited the lighthouse after the beach, and that was a fun experience also. There are many, many, lighthouses in Maine...obviously...and most of them with a deep and interesting history behind them. 

On Tuesday Roger worked while I cleaned the house and got ready for our guests. The boys also went to Vacation Bible School in the morning at another of the local Baptist churches. They enjoyed it, and it helps them grow in their walk with the Lord. This one is at the same church affiliated with the school, so they were interested in going and finding out if any of the kids also go to the school there. 

We cleaned, organized, cleaned, and waiting anxiously all day for our guests to arrive. Our friends, Tim and Star, along with their five boys were coming for a visit for a few days. In preparation for a visit from their friends, the boys found all their nerf bullets and guns, and invested in extra nerf bullets. And oh how the nerf guns shot and the bullets flew! They arrived about 6:30 pm, and Roger was home from work around 7:30, so we were all able to eat supper together. We introduced them to pink hotdogs and Moxie. (Yes, the hotdogs are really pink. And moxie is a soda made in Maine.) Even though it's often a very late supper on the days Roger works, I try to make it work for us to all eat together as a family. Tim and Star's boys were more than willing to play outside and have nerf gun wars with the boys, and it was wonderful to see how they all played together. Our kids were very glad for the companionship of friends, and I have to admit, I was also very thankful. Star and I had many long conversations about life, parenting, marriage, relationships, and everything under the sun. I was happy to pick her brain on a few topics, and our friendship is stronger as the result of their visit. 

The Carpenter family was here for two whole days, and we fit a lot into two days! We visited the lighthouse in Rockland; we visited the beach near us; we took in the local farmers market, showed them were Roger worked, and Tim managed to squeeze in an afternoon with Roger in the airplane! We took all the kids to the park and everyone had a fun time in the creek. We ate delicious pie from a local farm stand, as well as enjoyed long conversations and fellowship. Between our families, we had nine boys and one girl. Their youngest boy is younger than Emma, and she certainly enjoyed trying to feed him and nurture him.

The Carpenter family left on Friday morning, and Roger had to work. It was a bit of a long day for myself and the kids, but we survived it. We took Roger lunch to get out of the house, and I made a grocery list for Sam's club and other places we go in Augusta. 

Saturday was a full day for everyone. Roger was working, so I took the kids with me to Augusta. We went to seven different stores, and they did great. It wasn't without its moments of craziness, but overall I was pleased with how they did for a long day of errands. It's almost an hour to go to Augusta, so it's not an every week trip. However, they have many stores that we don't have around here, so I try to go to as many as I need to in a trip. I will admit that we were all happy to be home again on Saturday night! 

Sunday...well, it was Sunday. I wish I was more excited about it than I was but, we did go to church. It's much harder to go to church when really no one is going to notice whether you are there or not. I'm not try to complain, for real, it's just different than back in Wisconsin where I had lots of fellowship. I think it would help if one of the churches we have visited would reach out to us. By that I mean, a follow up visit would go a long ways towards extending the hand of friendship. Okay, as I re-read that I realize that all sounds very close to whining. That is not my intent and you will just have to trust my heart on that. 

                        

                                               "Family Memories"
  

Anyways, we spent the rest of the day resting and spending some much needed time as a family. The boys miss  Roger during the week, and I look forward to not eating at eight pm. On the days that he is home! 

This week the local town near us is gearing up for the Maine Lobster Festival. You know you are in Maine when there is a festival for five days centered around lobster! I'm looking forward to it though as it's something that is mostly free and something we haven't done before. 

Hannah came down yesterday afternoon to spend time with us. We hung out talking around our kitchen table and making plans for future events with our families. I'm so thankful to have her around. Even at an hour away, she's still lives close to me! 


                    "Raspberry picking with the boys"


At the end of the day I have much to be thankful for, and I am choosing joy and contentment. Roger is thriving at his job, and he excels at it. We have a lovely home to live in, and I am praying for opportunities to be hospitable. I love my children, and I am praying that God will bless them with good, Godly friends soon. I am thankful for friends that keep up with my via long distance through emails, texts, and the occasional phone call. I'm thankful that God seems to be opening up the doors for the boys to attend the Christian school here. I love my husband and I choose to love him and follow him anywhere...obviously. 

A few prayer requests:
1) the boys have testing for the school this week, and I am a little nervous. Please pray that it will be a good reflection of where they are in school.

2) we need a church. Please pray that we will stick with this church hunting until God gives us such peace we can't miss it. Honestly, we probably have about twenty more churches within a twenty mile radius that we could visit. It's a little overwhelming, so please pray for peace and direction.

3) We need to hear back about our insurance plan. I did complete the final leg of paperwork, had a phone interview, mailed in more papers, and we are waiting to hear back. Pray that this will happen smoothly.

4) Roger has two days off this week, Wednesday and Sunday. Please pray that he will get the rest he needs, that the boys will get the daddy time that they need, and that we will make good use of our time. 

I have a few unspoken, as I'm sure do many of you. Isn't it wonderful to know that God knows our hearts?

Our love to you, 
Sarah

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Maine Residents...The Good and the Not-So-Good News

   
                        This is the largest rotating globe in the world. It's three stories tall and quite impressive. 
We saw it in Yarmouth, Maine, last week. 
 
I am way behind on this blog post and because of that, I know I'm going to forget some things that I wanted to write down to remember years down the road. I need to make myself write a little bit every day, but at the end of the day I just want to climb in bed and close my eyes! 

Good news: Both Roger and I are official Maine residents!! So far I only have a piece of paper stating that fact but the DMV said that they are mailing my official one soon. With Roger working...a lot...and long hours, I ended up taking the kids to the DMV with me. I deserve a medal for that in and of itself! The paperwork wasn't too hard to navigate through, but the wait was longer than five kids and one mama wanted it to be. Thankfully, we did survive, and as a treat we all got donuts afterwards. (I got coffee!) I have mixed feelings on being a resident. I'm excited as this is where God has put us, and it's another sign of putting down roots. I'm sad because it closes a chapter in our lives that will never be the same again. I'm relieved to have it behind us as we can't get a library card, file for insurance paperwork, or register our vehicles (another story) until we were residents. All in all, it's a good thing, just sometimes the changes seem so overwhelming. However, did I mention that God is good? He certainly is! 

Other news: I have applied for Maine care for our children. We qualified for state insurance in Wisconsin due to our income, and we may or may not qualify for it here. We will see. The application was pages and pages and pages long, but it is necessary. We need to have insurance for our children, so we will see. However, please be in prayer with us over this matter. It's a big deal. 

I'm enjoying getting to see my sister, Hannah, more often. We were able to meet for coffee and supper last Sunday evening together, and she has come down to see us a few times. In the midst of feeling lonely and overwhelmed, God has allowed her to be in my life on a more regular basis. I like that. 

Church: Well, I don't enjoy church shopping. We have visited several, and while I don't think we are a picky family, none of them seemed to be a good match. I have no problem singing the hymns of the faith and older songs; however, it seems to be a common thread among conservative churches to sing them without life or enthusiasm. If we are singing, "And the Lord shall descend and the trump shall resound...", I kinda feel like we should be excited about that thought! I am under no illusions that we will find an absolutely perfect church. After all, imperfect people attend them, myself being one of them. However, God has a church that will be a good fit for our family, and one in which we can grow in our faith and hopefully be a blessing. I'm praying that we will find the church for our family soon. 


Work: Roger does a lot of this! I knew that we were moving during the busy season for flying. I just didn't realize the full ramifications of that. I'm not complaining, or I'm trying not to, but Roger is gone from sunup to sundown on the days that he works. That is not an exaggeration. When the weather is good, and the sun is up, the planes are flying. I know it will slow down in the winter giving us more time as a family, but it's hard right now. I take the boys and Emma with me EVERYWHERE. To the DMV, grocery shopping, errands, or wherever we need to go. They're good kids. I like them. But every once in a while, we like to be apart. However, it has meant that I've spent more time reading to them, taking them to the park, playing games, and finding jobs for them around the house. We have fun adventures like the farmers market and swimming in the creek. We have not fun ones like waiting in line, or traveling an hour to go to Sam's Club or hauling trash to the dump. But all in all, it's just another adjustment, and we are surviving it. I wouldn't say we are to the thriving part yet, but we are adjusting and coping. 

Play: Its been warm here the last few days. It's been warm enough that the boys think that they would like to go swimming, but not hot enough that I want to try it! Our house is about three minutes from a nice park with a creek. The water is about two feet deep in some parts near the park, but it's enough to to get wet in. That park has been a special blessing to me. It's nice to have a place to go where the kids can play and get wet, and I don't have a whole lot to worry about. 

                      
                                            I am very thankful for this little park and creek. 
  
We visited the library in Rockland last week. It was a very nice library. However, I discovered that you have to get a library card in the town you are a resident in. Since our district is Warren, we have to get a library card to the Warren library. We will have to visit there soon. It looks like a small building from the outside, but sometimes good things can come in small packages. 

School: I have filled out the boys applications for the Christian school near hear. We are prayerfully moving forward with the decision to enroll them in school. This will be a great blessing to me, but if we can't afford the financial strain than I will teach them myself. It's definitely a matter of strong prayer on our hearts. I feel like this would be good for the boys as they need some extra stability in their lives, and  I'm trusting  that God can provide them with good friends. 

And the not so good news....anyone want to buy a suburban? So the state of Maine requires a vehicle inspection once a year. They are fairly picky about it...and they do not allow rust on the vehicles. Our suburban has survived a trip to Alaska, three years in Wisconsin winters, a trip to Arizona, several trips to South Dakota, several trips to North Carolina, uncountable trips to Oshkosh, and now Maine. It looks like Maine doesn't want it. We took it to a vehicle inspection place just to see what they would say about it, and to find out how picky they are about vehicle inspections. It wasn't good. The inspector said we are looking at about $2500.00 of rust repair on the vehicle. He said that underneath looks fairly good other than the rust (as it should since we've maintained the brains of the vehicle just not the body). He told Roger that he had never seen a vehicle with that much rust on it and someone still driving it. Roger just chuckled and said "You've  never been to Wisconsin, have you?" People drive around vehicles with far more rust than ours and don't even think twice about it. We are currently praying about what to do. It looks like we can get Roger's car to pass inspection without a whole lot of extra money, but the truck is a different matter entirely. Anyone want to buy a truck that has 230,000 miles on it, doesn't look pretty, but runs good?! 

We are settling in to life here. I am enjoying the water, the walks along the coast, the beauty and simplicity of nature, and our home. However, along with the newness wearing off comes a sense of loneliness. It's deeper right now as Roger is so busy, but I know the kids are struggling with adjusting and loneliness in their own ways. It flushes out differently with every child, but their struggles are real. They have their own list of specific requests that they are asking God for, and I am going to enjoy seeing how He answers their prayers. 

"The law of the Lord is perfect,  converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure,  making wise the simple." Psalm 19:7 


Friday, July 8, 2016

Happy Birthday, America!

So many, many things have happened in two weeks that it would be impossible to describe them all! We enjoyed having Aunt Jen visit, we celebrated the Fourth of July, we hosted a dear family from our church in Wisconsin, Emma potty trained herself, we looked into a Christian school, and lots of other minor news. 

                       
   

From a readers perspective, I often wonder what information I would be interested in reading. But since it's my life journey, it is all interesting from my perspective! 

Aunt Jen arrived last Wednesday, June 29, and we had a great time. A friend from Roger's work was able to get our family tickets to a rope obstacle course, so we did that on Thursday. Emma did a great job with Roger's help and she seemed to enjoy it. The boys couldn't get enough of the climbing and zip lines, and they would've stayed for a much longer time. I'm thankful that we were able to get free passes, and it was a fun time. 

Roger stayed home with the kids on Thursday night so I could spend some time with my sisters. We enjoyed a night out together with dinner and shopping...which was not very much shopping as everything closes around nine pm. We enjoyed a lot of laughter and discussion, and I am very thankful for my family. 

Our good friends, Gretchen and Sean, along with their four children, arrived very early on Sunday morning. It was about 1 am., and I was so excited to see them! I had known that they were coming for about two weeks, but I had managed to keep it a surprise from the kids. The kids were amazed when they woke up on Sunday morning that their friends from Wisconsin were at their house! It was a fun surprise! 

The week flew by entirely too quickly with many memories many, new experiences, and fun times with friends. Monday was the Fourth of July, and the town near us was hosting a kids fun run as well as a 5k race. Gretchen offered to keep the kids that were still sleeping so that I could go do the 5k race. Roger had to work, and I wasn't even sure if I could run a 5k race...it's been a long time since I've gotten in a longer run! It ended up that only Garett and Chandler were up early enough to participate in the fun run. They both received free t-shirts for running, and they had a great time. Chandler ran a mile in about 7:18 and Garett ran it in about 8:10. The official results were published in the paper, but I have no idea what paper that is going to be! Oh well, it was a great memory for them and they are already looking forward to next year. The boys waited for me while I ran in the 5k race. I may not have trained as well as I should, but I can certainly still do my very best and push myself hard (leftover memories from my college days!) I ran it in 25:17 and I placed third in my age division. I was pretty happy with that, but I'd love to actually train for it and run next year. So, I guess we all have things to look forward to for next year! 

                  
   

We watched the parade with the Schilders, and it was an experience for all of us. We saw a huge Democratic Party, a small vehicle representing the Republican Party, the Lobster queen, the wild blueberry princess and Queen, and a re-enactment of the revolutionary war period during the parade. I was amazed at all the people that were there, and apparently it's a very popular parade. 

My sisters came up in the afternoon for a cook out, so that was fun. Roger did not get done with work until about 7:30pm, but he was able to watch the fireworks with us. Wow! What a firework display! It went on and on and on. It was about a forty-five minute firework display, and it was quite impressive. I guess we know where to go for fireworks in the upcoming years! 

Towards the end of last week, before Jen came to visit,  Emma decided to potty train herself. I knew that she was getting ready to be potty trained, but with moving to Maine, and all our transitions, I wanted to wait. A friend had given her some pink underwear, and she was excited about those. She woke up one morning last week, put on underwear, had one accident, and she's potty trained! It's really quite wonderful when a child does that, and she has been accident free for over a week. That definitely has not been the case with all of our children, but she did it. It's just another reminder that our children are growing up quickly.  Gretchen asked me how I was doing with not having any children in diapers, and it's a first in almost ten years. I'm not sure how I'm doing with it, so I'll have to think about it! 

The Schidlers had to leave on Thursday morning, which was way too soon in my opinion! We stayed up late talking, drank lots of coffee, and supervised nine children. My heart is full with blessings and gratitude at the friendships we share. 

We also toured a Christian school on Thursday. There is a Christian school about twenty minutes from our house, and Jen, my sister, decided to see if she could set up a tour. It worked out for Thursday. Roger had to work, but he was able to get off to tour the school with us. We took our kids, Jen and Hannah, so it was a family affair! We were very impressed with the school. Although they only have about 25 students, each of their teachers are Maine state certified teachers. They also have art classes, Spanish classes, music, and they get special classes in tennis and ice skating from the local YMCA. Of course, the big factor is the cost of the school. The first child is full price at $3,200, the second child receives a 25% discount, and the consecutive children are free. Yes, you read that right. I had to hear it a few times myself to believe it. Apparently, it's their policy and they believe strongly in Christian education. We aren't sure if we will be able to afford it this year, but we will see what God will do. I can certainly homeschool them, and I will if that's what God wants, but it is definitely not my cup of tea! I appreciate the fact that the school has only half day kindergarten, so Travis wouldn't have to be in school all day. Of course, that also means that I need to pick him up at 11:15. Oh, the decisions to be made are quite overwhelming, but I know that God will give us clear direction. 

Our friends have gone home, Aunt Jen has flown out, and we are back to life as normal. Since I'm not exactly sure what "normal" looks like yet, I'll just say that we are all struggling a bit with depression at missing friends and family. However, we have many things to get done in the next few days, and Roger has off for three days. We are needing to get Maine drivers licenses, vehicles registered, and a whole host of other paperwork...ugh! But, I won't be bored! 

We appreciate your prayers as we seek God's clear direction for schooling decisions, vehicles, and other choices to be made. God is so good, and I am so thankful for His timely interventions in my life. 






                    

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Week One of our Maine Lives as a Family!


                  The tree house and our home!

A week ago today, we pulled into 45 Roy Drive, Maine, to establish a home in an area new to our family. What a week it has been! Everyone survived the 21 hour drive from Wisconsin to Maine, and EVERYONE was thrilled to get out of the vehicles! 
                 
                   Top left: a walk in the park. Top right: Breakfast chaos
                   Bottom left: Garett with the weed wacker. Bottom right: our shower curtain window treatments 

I'm thankful that the weather was warm, sunny, and beautiful for that makes a good impression for seeing a new house! My sister, Hannah, and her husband, Josh, came down to help unload the uhaul truck, the trailer, and brought us supper. We were all very thankful for a delicious hot meal after several days of being on the road. By a lot of hard work, and many hands, we managed to get the uhaul unloaded before dark. Because it has been over a year since we've seen most of this stuff, and nothing was labeled we put everything in the basement to start out with. We did manage to find a bed for everyone to sleep in and blankets to use. My parents went home with my sister to stay at their house. To say that everyone was exhausted would be an understatement and everyone literally fell into their beds. 

Sleeping is overrated in the minds of our children, and they bounded out of bed by six am., on Thursday morning. There is a very nice tree house in the back yard...but no ladder! Chandler managed to lean a board against the tree house and shimmy up into it that way, as did Garett. However, that isn't a long term solution and we didn't want possession to become 9/10ths the law! My dad has worked construction for many many years, so he and Roger went to the lumber store to gather supplies to build a safer way into the tree house! I know my dad was exhausted from traveling, but he really wanted to do this project for the grandkids. He build them a beautiful set of stairs into the tree house that even Emma can safely use. I'm thankful for my dads willingness to undertake such a project in such a short amount of time. Hannah also came over on Thursday to help me sort through boxes. We found a ton of stuff we don't need, but discovered a lacking in some important items! We don't have any plates or bowls, but we have lots of silverware! I have saved plenty of the boys artwork, but I am lacking on how to store it...so I threw a lot of it away! We will definitely be visiting some yard sales and thrift stores over the next few weeks. 

My friend, Tressa, gifted me with beautiful towels, a fresh shower curtain, and bath mats. That was a huge blessing, and it's nice to have new towels. However, I discovered that the show curtain she gave me would match the living room colors perfectly. My mom suggested using the shower curtain for window curtains. I went to Walmart and bought another shower curtain, and now we have window curtains for a fraction of the cost! 

My parents stayed with Hannah and Josh at night, but during the days they came down to our house. It's about an hour drive, but in Maine that is just a drop in the bucket. It's like living in Alaska or northern Canada as people just expect a drive or an airplane ride to get anywhere. My mom kept the washing machine going, my dad worked on the tree house, and I unpacked boxes, put away stuff and kept adding things to my list of things to look for at yard sales. Roger did not have to work on Thursday, so he helped me wade through the boxes of stuff that had been in our garage and shed. Roger was in Arizona when we sold the house last year, so my sister, Jenn, and I packed everything up. However, I didn't want to throw away anything that Roger would need, so he probably ended up with a lot of stuff that he would've gotten rid of! 

Roger had to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so he missed a lot of these last minute moments with my parents. I'm thankful that we were all able to get together for a family cook out at Hannah and Josh's on Saturday night. Roger's boss let him go a little earlier than usual so that he could join us. I know my dad stayed busy to keep his mind off of missing the grandkids when he is back in Wisconsin.  But my parents decided to leave on Sunday afternoon. Dad said that putting it off would not change anything and he has responsibilities in Wisconsin as well. Sunday was Father's Day, and it was an emotional day. Since Roger was working, we attended a church down the road from us. We visited Warren Baptist Church along with my parents. I figured it was the closest  Baptist church and since I didn't have time to look at any churches online, we could start there. Well, there were a few things I liked, and a few I'm not sure about. The people were very friendly which was nice. Others came walking into church carrying their Bibles which is a good indication that the pastor was going to preach from the Bible, they sang songs that we knew, and our children were invited to vacation Bible school this week. On the down side, they sang the songs to an ORGAN! Oh my! Anyone who knows me understands that that is not my favorite instrument! The church family only has a few children, so we about doubled the attendance for children. I was a little disappointed in the fact that there is not a Sunday school class for the children. But, the church auditorium was all decorated for vacation Bible school this week, so it's hard to know if that was a regular Sunday service. We are planning on going back for a second look on Sunday. 

My parents left after the service amid many tears on both sides. Chandler was the most emotional and my heart aches for him. All the boys are close with Papa, but Chandler especially enjoyed doing things with Papa. Emma is so young that she won't even have the memories that the other boys have and that's hard also. But, I am so thankful to be together as a complete family again. As much as I will miss my parents this is the better thing for us. We need to be together, and God has directed us thus far. I know He will continue to do so. 

So, the boys have experienced vacation Bible school programs at various churches across the country.   They've attended in Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Dakato, Arizona, and now Maine! I was amazed at how many kids have come for Vacation Bible School this week! On Monday night, just the two olde boys asked to go. I told Wyatt and Travis that they could go if they wanted to, but neither of them took that bite. Since Roger was working, I took the kids to the church for Bible school. It's only about a mile, but it's down a big hill and up another hill...not a good idea right now. I decided to stick around in the back pew and watch for a bit, so I could get an idea of what was happening. Wyatt and Travis sat down with me, and after about 45 minutes, I decided to go home and get some more work done. Wyatt decided that he wanted to stay for the rest of Bible school, but Travis was attached like an ankle biting dog on my leg! After Bible school, the boys were filled with stories of how much fun it was, and what they had learned, and they convinced Travis to come along for the next night. The boys have been going for the last three nights, and they have been enjoying it. I am thankful that God provided this opportunity right when my parents left, and loneliness was looming on the horizon. God is good! 

We are settling and adjusting. I don't know if I'll ever get the hang of Roger's work schedule  so I just go with it. This week he worked Sunday and Monday, had off Tuesday, worked on Wednesday, has off Thursday, and works Friday and Saturday. The days that he works are long days like from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm. The hours are longer in the summer because of more tourists and the daylight hours are longer. I'm not complaining, it's just going to take some getting used to. On the days that he works, I will need to save him supper from the piranhas and be flexible with whatever hours he works. We've been so busy on the house, but Roger has off tomorrow. There are a million and one things to do, but we are going to try out some new experiences as a family. I'm looking forward to experiencing the farmers market and taking the boys to the water. 

A few more days:
On Thursday we experienced the local farmers market for the first time. It's rated among the top ten in Maine, so we thought we'd experience it also. My sister came down for the morning and joined us. The farmers market is right there in the harbor area, so there is plenty to see! I was impressed with the children's program in the farmers market. Each child over five years old can get a market passport. Every week they come to the market they get a $2.00 token and get to sample products. The down side is that there aren't very many $2.00 items! There are plenty of organic things in the market, but with a family our size, it's hard to  bite the cost of organic...I just wash it off and hope for the best! It was a good experience though, and one that we will probably do again. There is a boardwalk right by the market that you can walk through parts of town down to the shore. The kids really enjoyed that, although Travis found a nasty sliver in his foot. Thankfully, my sister, Hannah was able to get the ugly thing out, and Travis appears to be fine. We are planning on trying one new activity or experience with out family during these summer months. The boys are anxious to try everything in one day, but I don't ink they quite grasp the fact that we will most likely be here for a good long while! 

Friday found Roger working again, and myself out running errands with the kids. I prefer to do grocery shopping by myself as I actually enjoy it, but since the refrigerator is empty, we must go! I've discovered that our local grocery store will double coupons under a $1.00, on Fridays they mark down bread, and that kids can get a free piece of fruit! If I had $1.00 for every time someone commented that my hands are full, I'd be one wealthy woman! Yes, they are all mine. Yes, I like them all. Yes, my hands are full but my heart is blessed. We made it through errands in time for lunch at home and a nap for Emma. The boys had their closing program for Vacation Bible School tonight, so I went to that. Roger met us at the church when he was done with work, and we enjoyed visiting with the pastor and his wife for a bit. I'm not exactly sure it's where we will stay, but they are definitely a warm, welcoming bunch of folks. 

My sister, Jen, is flying in for a few days next week and the boys are very excited about that! The newness of the experience is starting to wear off, and although Bbile school was a good help to them, the kids are missing their friends. I'm thankful that the God who hears my cries, also hears and listens to the voices of my children. God is so very good to us. 

Our love and prayers, 
Sarah 

                        

                                               A morning at the farmers market

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

When Good Bye is Painful...God is still good

I have no idea why the pictures on this showed up twice. But I'm not going to worry about it now!

Psalms 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

In the last twenty-four hours, I've cried more than I have in a very long time! Whew! I am very thankful that this part is just a small piece of the big puzzle. 

On Saturday morning, I joined a few ladies for lunch. My friend, Tressa, set up a date for ladies to come to lunch together to say good by. Amazingly enough, I throughly enjoyed myself and only shed a few tears. I mean, I'm not surprised I enjoyed myself, but I am surprised that I managed to only cry a little!!

                                       Lunch with friends
 

I sang special music on Sunday with three very dear friends, and it was only by the grace of God that I stumbled through the song. It was hard as I looked out on the congregation and realized how many dear and precious friends we have. Some are acquaintances that offer prayers on our behalf, a few are close friends, and fewer still are very, very dear friends. 

Roger arrived home with the u-haul just moments after we arrived home from church on Sunday morning. We had invited a few close friends to eat lunch, load the u-haul, and make a few memories one last time. Our goal was to make it to Sunday night church, but our first priority had to be loading up the truck. Roger and Ryan, another close friend, loaded the piano into the truck. From there we proceeded to load up all of our belongings from my parents house. My mom made lunch for everyone who came to help. I think we ended up having seven ladies, six guys, and fifteen kids when everyone was there! Many hands make light work! 

We ate lunch quickly and headed to our storage unit. I was a little concerned about how everything was going to fit, but Roger is an amazingly good packer! We did manage to fit everything we needed into the u-haul truck, and we made it back to my parents house with enough time to feed the kids before we changed clothes and rushed back for the Sunday evening service. I'll admit that I probably didn't go to church so much to hear the message as I did to say good by to my friends. It was an emotional evening for me even though I know that we are making the best choice for our family. I did feel a little bad for Roger. I would've thought that more men in the church would have made an effort to say good by or at least shake his hand. I know he hasn't been close to many people in the last few years, but it would have soothed my heart a bit to know that people care about us as a family and a couple. It's been a difficult journey for us as a family, and we are looking forward to seeing how God directs us in Maine. 
       
                                           I am so thankful for these ladies! 
  

After Sunday night church we did get to go out for ice cream with a few close friends. It's hard to cry when you're eating ice cream, so that was a relief! We didn't get home until around ten, and our children were exhausted. This has been tough on them as well, and I'll be shocked and amazed if none of them becomes sick. 

We were up early this morning to try to finish all the last minute tasks. I had dropped off the truck on Friday to get the tires changed, but they discovered that there were a few other repairs that should be made. They couldn't get the truck done until today. They were waiting on some parts, and they said it would be done around noon. Roger and I went and grabbed the few items that were left in our storage unit, checked to see when the suburban would be done, went to the bank, and wrapped up a few last minute boxes. My friend, Gretchen, invited us to come over for coffee and treats. Since Roger had a few errands to do in Oshkosh, he dropped myself and the kids off at Gretchen's house. The boys were delighted to have one last opportunity to play with friends, and I was certainly going to capitalize on a coffee date with my dearest friends! 

Jenna and Autumn came over for coffee as well. Honestly, saying good by was much more painful today. I know I'm tired, weary, and just drained, so the emotional side of saying good by caught me off guard. When I think about missing their birthdays, the birthdays of their children, the absence of coffee dates, animated discussions about family, kids, church, and life, and both of our lives moving forward, well, it's just hard to not be a basket case! I've created memories that will never be erased, but I also know that this move is not just a few months or short-term. God is directing us to settling down, find a good church, and raise our family in the state of Maine. It's hard knowing that there isn't a friend to invite myself over for coffee with, engage in a lively discussion, arrange a play date with, or invite for birthday suppers. I know that God has brought us this far, and His hand is definitely in this. But my heart struggles are real, but God is bigger. 

We left around two-thirty on Monday afternoon. I spent the first hour or so trying to stem the flood of tears. I finally gave up, and I felt better after I cried even though I then had a headache! We made it to South Bend, Indiana. We stopped about ten o'clock and practically fell into bed. Wyatt cried himself to sleep as he said all his friends were gone. It was hard to disagree as my heart is heavy also. I'm thankful for an understanding husband, great kids, and a sister and her husband that  are waiting in Maine. 

An early morning greeted us as we were on the road by 6:30 am. It was a long day of traveling, but we are getting closer. We have seven hours to travel tomorrow and then we will arrive at our new home! We appreciate your continued prayers as we seek to adjust, work together, find a church, and find a routine at works for us.