Looking Back on 2018

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year friends and Family! We hope you have enjoyed this season and look forward to 2019 with anticipation and hope.

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We’ve included a few of our favorites from our family photos taken during this Christmas season. A year in the life of a growing Kindergardener to first grader and an infant to 7 month old baby moves so quickly that if we don’t document it and blink too many times, we just might have trouble remembering it all clearly as the years go by.

2018 in Review

I was encouraged a few days ago to take in my year, the joys and the challenges,
and then use that information to formulate how I spend this next year. I took the challenge and spent
a few hours reviewing photos we took throughout the year. My take away: every challenge I
experienced held an important lesson God wanted to teach me and I feel that I'm walking into
2018 with a greater sense of gratitude. If you can find an hour,
I'd challenge you to do this too.


January

Joys: 20 week mark in pregnancy-processing the idea of having a sweet baby girl.

Challenges: Feeling pressed for time and energy and wanting to spend as much time as possible with our at the time, 5 year old before we welcomed baby girl.

February

Joys: Celebrating our boy, as he turned 6 years old!


Challenges: pushing my "nesting" instinct aside as we were deciding whether we would stay at our rental or move and pushing through looking for a new house and preparations for speaking at our annual church women's retreat.

March

Joys: There are almost too many to list here, but I’ll name a few. The sweet baby shower the women at church threw for baby Neah, closing on our now home, and taking every opportunity to connect with Mason. Such sweet memories. I literally grieved losing our only child relationship, but I’m so happy to look back and see all the time we got to spend with him in this way.


Challenges: Myself. I beleive that God has been showing me since this time, how much I get in my own the way and the humbling reality that uses me the most when I feel my hands are the fullest.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. {2 Corinthians 4:7-11}


March

Joys: And there are many more in April. We signed the final papers and moved into our new home, and we felt blessed by so many friends and family who helped us make this transition. We have such sweet memories already of spending our first days here together. Also, my women’s discipleship group threw Neah another shower and showed up here at our new home to help me put her nurserty together, and I finally got to nest!

Challenges: The obvious roadblock for me here was wanting to get alot done before the baby game and feeling very pregnant. Another roadblock was needed sleep, as I often found myself crying at night as I thought about the relationship that would change between Mason and I with a new baby at home.

May

Joys: Boom! Hands full of sweetness! Need I say more? Also, our sweet boy graduated from Kindergarten


Challenges: Struggling as a mom with not wanting to push Mason away from the sweet relationship he wanted to have with his sister, yet feeling protective over the new baby with my sweet boy who didn't yet understand how it all worked. He still is just so sweet with her. When I look back on these pictures, I feel so blessed.

June

Joys: Enjoying summer with both kids and enjoying the back yard in our new home. Swimming lessons & t-ball for Mason, park time, and having friends over on Friday nights!


Challenges: A big goose egg on Mason's nose from the playground and an ear infection. With Neah's well checks, this made for many trips to the pediatrician in June. Also, in June, our pup of 12 years, Briar passed away suddenly. This was a difficult transition for us when we had already experienced so much change. We still miss that guy!
July

Joys: We enjoyed more pool time, t-ball time, time with friends and Jono took some parternity leave while I made adjustments to return to work. While it was hard to go, I truly love what I get to do and it was a joy to get to return. We were also thankful that a family friend graciously offered to watch her for her first year. Thanks Athena! I also think that I sunk in more on purpose, knowing that I had a plan to go back after a few months.

Challenges: sleep deprvation and quite frankly feeling a little crazy at times as I tried to ballance "all the things." I look back and feel thankful for all I was able to do. The most difficult thing here was a lack of structure during this new season in the summer with both kids.
August

Joys: Started to feel a little more like myself in August. Got out for some fun outings with the kiddos, had some friends over for some later summer fun and Mason started first grade at our neighborhood school. School provided the blessing of a little more structure in our lives.

Challenges: While return to school was a blessing, it was another big step for me to get both kids out the door along with myself each day. We also added some commute time to my days by putting Mason in a reading program. This was difficult day to day but really paid off for that little guy. Also, travel was difficult during the summer. Little miss did not take to a car seat all that well, so no matter how settled she was, she would sometimes cry the whole way.
September

Joys: Jono and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary! Neah rolled over for the first time and began sitting up supported, which gave mommy a little more freedom at home to cook and clean.

Challenges: With Neah at 4 months already, I began to realize how fleeting time is. My biggest challenge in this stage was keeping up with life, but remembering to slow down and enjoy the snuggles! Thankfully we had lots of friends who watched our kids for us, so getting a few date night in here and there was not a challenge on our list!
October

Joys: Fall is my most favorite time of the year! The mug swap this year was prety epic as all these beautiful ladies gathered on our back porch to celebrate and bless one another. We also enjoyed fall festivities with both kiddos and we all are enjoying Neah more as she grows and shows us her sweet personality.

Challenges: This has been the most stretching season for me professionally, as God continues to tell me to get out of the way and just begin to say yes to growth. The most difficult part is litening to this while trying to stay present in motherhood.
November

Joys: These kids are definitely the joy during this season. I'm realizing more and more how quicklthis all goes and I try and let go of the hard moments and take in the sweet ones.

Challenges: There was that one time in November when I actually made it to the gym and then never got there again. I have worked out at home since then, but this is the hart of the challenge. I'm feeling ready to move more again, but sleep deprivation and juggling all the balls, leaves me feeling depleted at times with just enough energy left for my work and my kids and husband. We also found our upper living area to be a challenge, and so we moved in a dining table and reduced our seating area. We are loving it now.
December

Joys: Christmas with kids is absolutely the best. I've had some time of work and have enjoyed spending a week and a half with our little family and friends. Mason lost his 2nd tooth and I'
ve truly enjoyed decking our new home this year for Christmas.

Challenges: We've had some challenges with parenting littles and Christmas expectations. That's all I'll say, but through it God showed me how much our son needed more from us in terms of "presence" and Christmas break has been a great time to give it to him.

Happy New Year! May gratitude for the year past, give you hope for the next year. Love, the Santos Family

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Hello again!

It’s been a journey. I think the last time I fully engaged on this blog was when I was in the first part of grad school. That finished and I dived fully into vocation and the process of state licensure. While I’m still on that journey, God threw us a curveball.  Enter sweet baby girl. We had always hoped that our family would grow a bit more, but we had changed the story line due to the wait and other things God had led us to. Neah Jewell-Francine Santos was born on May 22nd, 2018, so there’s that to talk about. Also, I am re-entering the writing scene again. First to update friends and family on family life since I have deactivated my facebook world. Second, however, my hope is to return to a wished for passion of writing in a way that is both theraputic and clarifying for my thoughts as well as developing my writing muscles for more professional endeavors, so same blog, and maybe a little more. Certainly, our lives are a little more full as well.

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I’ve Loved You With an Everlasting Love

This morning, despite our recent successes in sleep training, we found our 4-year-old in the middle of our bed when we awoke this morning. Somehow, now that it doesn’t happen as often it seems sweeter. My husband whispered over, “He’s so snuggly.” And he is!

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Our boy is love and affection waiting to happen. I told my husband of how he talked me into opening the mother’s day gift and card he had made me at pre-school. He was so excited, my heart broke to say now.  He sat on my lap and enthusiastically nudged me to open the sugar scrub, saying, “touch it, mommy! It feels comfortable!”

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We touched it together and oohed and aahed. Then he gave me the biggest and sweetest hug and he sighed a comfortable sigh that told me he loved that feeling, and in that moment, I loved and felt loved.

All this brought to my memory a conversation that I had a day prior with a friend. We were talking about how different people just desire more affection. The conversation turned towards my affectionate toddler and how he kisses me on the mouth. We talked about how one day this would change. It was in this conversation that I had a moment that I realized how one day his affections would turn from loving me to the most to loving another woman. As sad as it made me think of this, I knew it was a healthy and good thing…

I leaned over to my husband and said, “sweetie, I need you to always love me the most, because one day I know he won’t.” My sweet husband said, “sweetie.  I will always love you…”

I snuggled back into my boys comfortably and I tried to remember a time before my husband when I felt really truly loved. Honestly, there were some seasons in my life that I questioned this. Then, an almost audible voice rang in my head that said, “I have always loved you. This feeling you have now for your son. I love you this much.”  And, in my memory, I could remember all the times that in His faithfulness, the Lord has drawn near to me. Always in my past, and here in my present does He provide glimpses of his loving kindness and affections toward even me.  

There is no greater gift than this.

In Jeremiah 30 and 31, the Lord reveals to Jeremiah his love concerning his people, saying;

…I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

This offers hope, because this love is not only for the mother.  It is for everyone who hungers or thirsts for it. There were mother’s days in the past that I felt great sorrow because I felt entitled to all the things I hadn’t yet received in this life as what I thought a reflection of what His love was, and honestly, sometimes I still feel the sorrow of those lost, but the truth is, God’s love was always there for my taking.

If you are thirsty today. Come. For the woman who wants a child more than anything, come. For the mother who has lost her child, come. For the woman who has lost her mother, come..

There is an everlasting and overwhelming love that brings peace and comfort to the most weary of souls. His name is Jesus.

 

Update: A message from the hole we’ve been in

It’s been a while, so here’s an update!

We are well! Bubs is growing, Jono is still working at VZ, and has taken on some new projects. Life in Utah is good. We are so thankful that God has brought us here.  He has done a work in our lives that we wouldn’t have willingly submitted to in the place that we were. As much as we loved Seattle, our heads, and especially our hearts needed out.  It seems crazy that 4 years have passed since we moved! Jono and I will have been married for 8 years in September.

I’m about 85% finished with a Masters in counseling and am working at a Christian counseling center in the area. While life is far from perfect, we are thankful.

Grandma & Grandpa came to visit for 4 weeks (one of which I was away for school) to help take care of Mason and to just spend some time with him. Our hope is to give this boy as much time with his only grandparents before he is fully grown.  (A picture glimpse below!)

Summer holds more school, my comprehensive exams for my counseling program, fun in the sun and trip away to Idaho with friends, so that should about cover it.

We  are still in the thick of a busy season as I finish up school.  Some days we just feel worn, but our lives are different now, in that, our dependence is not on our own strength in this life, but is found in the one we are living this life for. This life, it’s good, but it’s not our own. So we press on, each day to be transformed from the inside out towards Christlikeness in all that we do. While this seemingly impossible transformation is a long work in process, we are more than ever encouraged that it is possible, through Christ.

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Another Mother’s Day

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Today, I was surprised and delighted {Okay, I totally requested this gift 😉 } but I loved it all the same.

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I was spoiled with a latte made by my husband before church…

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I had some great afternoon views…

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 And I had a fine dinner with all this handsomeness and this view! 

A few other things:

  • God stretched me just a little bit today as I led worship at church this morning {fully supported by worship band awesomeness.  Thanks Mama Cassie-frass!}
  • I thought about how much I miss my Mama. She passed away over 5 years ago. I have grieved much and each year feels a little lighter as God gives me new things to celebrate but there is always a remembering on this day.
  • I thought much about other women who were missing their moms or desperately want to be moms.  I know this day can be a difficult one.  You, friends, are not alone.  You are dearly loved.
  • And I reveled in how I felt 100% loved by my son who said, “Happy Mother’s Day” over and over, almost always followed by a hug and/or a kiss.

In joy and in sorrow, a sweet day indeed. For further cheer, I leave you with this…

Happy Mother’s Day

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