Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reflections of 2018

I hope everyone is having a good weekend! I have been busy disinfecting my home because a few members of family came down with a stomach bug. We just cannot seem to get rid of it. Hopefully this was the last round of it.

The holidays are fast approaching and my family and I will be busy this holiday season. This will be my last post of 2018. This is the time of year where people reflect back over their year. I thought I would join many other bloggers who are writing about their reflections of their year. If I had to give 2018 a one word theme it would be change.

Our family experienced many changes in 2018. Most of the changes did not happen until the last half of the year, but they were big enough to leave an impact on our year.

January through June, the first 6 months of the year, we did not have many changes, but we did experience several firsts as a family. June through December was when most of our changes took place which included a job change for my husband, a move for our family, a school change for three of our kids, and a new routine for our family. Below is our year in photos! Enjoy reflecting with me on what 2018 was like for our famly.

January
In January my husband invested in getting me a FitBit. I wanted to make changes in my life to better my health. I have Crohn's disease and my doctor was telling me to eat healthier and get more active. Getting my FitBit definitely changed my life and my year. In 2018, I lost 20lbs. I am not sure if you can tell a difference between the two pictures below, but I can feel the changes. I am going to keep this up in 2019. I am so glad I made the change in 2018, because it has paid off. I feel much healthier than I have in a long time.
February
In February our third son had his tonsils taken out. This was our first child who needed to have his tonsils out. We have 5 kids so we may have one or two others who may need a tonsilectomy. This was also the year for surgeries to take place. As you read on, you will understand this.
Also in February, our second son received his new BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid). He had srugery in December of 2017 to get an abutment placed on the side of his head where his new BAHA would click into place. As you can see in the second picture below, he was so excited for his new hearing aid!
March
In March two things happened. The first thing thath happened in March was that our daughter (our last baby) was dedicated at our church. It was bittersweet because she is our last baby which means we won't have anymore baby dedications.
The second thing that happened was our oldest son was baptized. We are so proud of the decision he made. This was our first child to make the choice to be baptized and follow God for the rest of his life. We know our other children will also make this decision. Our oldest son also got his first Bible. It was such a sweet and special day. My husband had the opportunity to baptize him. There is nothing better than seeing a father baptize his child.
April
 In April, I decided to turn my hobby of photography into something more. My photography is still growing and I hope it continues to grow in 2019.You can check out my photography page here: www. facebook.com/JessicaL.MartinPhotography. Also in April we got a new van. We had to get rid of my white 1997 Chrysler Town and Country van because it pretty much stopped working. Our new van is a black 2011 Chrysler Town and Country van, which we love! Obviously, we are commited to Chrysler Town and Country vans.
May
So much happened in May of this year:

We went on our first trip as a family of 7 to North Carolina. All of our kids experienced the beach and a boat ride for the first time. 


Our oldest son lost his first tooth.


Our last baby turned one!
June/July
June and July consisted of the 2017-2018 school year coming to a close. Our kids grew so much during that school year. Once school was out, we did our best to enjoy the summer as a family. The kids got a lot of time outdoors in our pool and playing at our local park. In July, I had to have me appendix removed (I told you this was the year for surgeries). Thankfully my recovery went quickly and I could enjoy the little bit of summer I had left with the kids before they went back to school.
Last day of 1st grade for Logan.
Last day of preschool for Landon.
Last day of Liam's first year of preschool.
Lucas wanted to hold a sign too.
4th of July.
Me after my surgery.
August
August was the month that changed how the rest of our 2018 would go. Our older three boys started school. At the end of August my husband had an interview at a high school. A few days after that interview he received the call that he got the teaching position in which he interviewed for. That started 8 weeks where my husband would leave on Sunday evenings and come home on Friday evenings. I was basically a single mom Sunday nights to Friday nights.

First day of school for Logan and Landon.
First day of school for Liam.
My husband's first day school.
September/October

September and October were the months where my faith was put to the test. After my husband took the teaching job, we had no idea when we would be back together as a family. I had to put so much faith and trust in God that living apart during the school week was only temporary. I dug deep into God's word. I listened to more worship music. Making sure I kept God the focus of our family, while the head (my husband) of our family was away during the week, is how the kids and I survived those 8 weeks. There are some days I still cannot believe I managed 5 kids, packing a whole house, and still blogged. Like I said, I did it because God was by my side the whole time. At the end of October we made our big move across the state of Kentucky. God is so very good! He came through for our family and blessed us so much with this big life change. The following Bible verses were just a few of many that helped me keep my faith in God during the time that my husband and I were apart.
Our new house.
November/December
We spent all of November getting settled and unpacked. I picked up blogging again after our big move. You can read my November posts if you browse my blog. Now that it is December, I can say we are definitely settled and getting more established in our new area. The kids love their new school. My husband of course loves his job. I am enjoying the new surroundings and making mom friends. We are currently preparing for the holidays and counting down to Christmas. We have been making ornaments, baking Christmas goodies, and watching Christmas movies. The best part, our Christmas shopping is done. We are looking forward to spending Christmas with family.
I hope you enjoyed reflecting with me on what 2018 was like for our family. It feels so great to end this year in our new home. The changes in this last almost 2 months have been amazing for our family. We really are so blessed and we are so thankful to God for always doing things in His timing.
 
I am so excited for 2019 and cannot wait to see what it will hold for our family. I cannot wait to see how else God will bless us. I am excited to continue blogging and to continue with my start in photography. I hope and pray that 2019 is amazing for my readers as well. As I close out, take a look at how much our family has changed in 2018.
2017
2018
With this being my last post of 2018, I just want to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope 2018 was a great year for you. I am so thankful for your support as my readers. As you go into 2019 keep the faith, hope, and love! See you next year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What Is My Favorite Holiday?

As a blogger in the blogging community, I am often connecting with many people via the internet. I enjoy getting to know other people and I know my readers enjoy getting to know me as well. A few months ago I posted a post where my readers could ask me questions and I would answer a question a week. With our recent move, my Q&A post of the week took a side seat to some other posts. I am back and ready to answer all of the questions that have been asked. Feel free to go to that post here and leave your own question for me to answer.

On my Q&A post, a reader asked me: "What Is Your Favorite Holiday?" I figured with it being the holiday season, I would answer this question as a way to jump back into doing my Q&A segment of my blog.

My favorite holiday is Christmas. There are several reasons why it is my favorite holiday:

1. We Celebrate the Birth of Christ
If you have been a reader of my blog then you know that my faith and belief in God are very important to me. The birth of Christ is one of the reasons why Christmas is my favorite holiday. I believe God sent His son, Jesus, to be born into this world. Jesus grew up and died on a cross for our sins. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. It is the birth that changed the whole world. The Christmas story in the Bible, in today's world, continues to change people. The miracle that took place with a baby being born of a virgin still makes people be in awe of what God can do. God continues to work miracles in people's lives. The story never grows old for me. Linus from Charlie Brown tells us exactly what Christmas is all about. That is my favorite telling of what Christmas is all about. You can watch it here.

My favorite verses in the Christmas story.
My treasured Nativity scene.

2. We Get Together With Family
The second reason why Christmas is my favorite holiday is because we get together with family. Yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas have this common. However, getting together at Christmastime has more meaning to me. One reason for that goes back to our faith in God and celebrating the true  meaning of Christmas together. Another reason, is because we have seen how short life is. Sadly we experienced a loss on Christmas Eve in 2015. Christmas is the holiday that we need (my family and I) to be together as a family to help each other get through the Christmas season. The last reason why getting together with family has more meaning to me is because it is tradition. We have never had a Christmas where we were not with family.

3. Seeing Our Kids Open Presents
As a kid I loved to open presents. Now that I am an adult and have kids of my own, I enjoy seeing our kids open their presents. Seeing the smiles of our kids is the greatest gift for me and their smiles are all I need for Christmas. There is definitely something magical about seeing kids open presents. I challenge you to watch closely as a child opens a present this year. It will bring a smile to your face.

4. The Food
The food is definitely a reason why Christmas is one of my favorites. Again, Thanksgiving has this in common with Christmas. Both holidays have delicious food. Food is always a good reason to enjoy any holiday.

5. The Decorations
I love the Christmas decorations. All of the lights, trees, wreaths, etc. are just so beautiful. The crafts that kids make to hang up are so cute. I love how people go all out to decorate or decorate very simply. Here are some of our decorations:







 
6. Giving
The last reason why Christmas is my favorite is because of all the giving that goes on around Christmas. I think we should be more willing to give all through the year, but Christmas is definitely a time when people give more than they usually do. I love reading all the stories of how people would not have had a Christmas if it weren't for someone giving them the means to do so. I love giving and this ties into reason number 3, but I love seeing the smiles of others opening a present.

I hope you enjoyed reading about why Christmas is my favorite holiday. Comment below with your favorite holiday. If you have a question for me that you would like me to answer in a blog post, ask away in the comments.