Thursday, December 31, 2015

random photos

I recently found an SD card with photos from 2011 that I don't think I'd ever seen before.  It was fun to see how cute and small my girls were back then.  Here are a few of the photos I found.

Golden Spike

We visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site with our friends on the day before Thanksgiving.  Golden Spike is at Promontory, Utah (west of Brigham City about 20 miles).  It is the site where the Central Pacific Railroads and Union Pacific Railroads met in May 1869.  When we arrived, we watched a Charlie Brown cartoon that taught us a bit about the transcontinental railroad, the Chinese workers that built it and the Golden Spike.   The children all did the Junior Ranger program, so there were a bunch of questions for them to answer/things for them to find.

 Soon after the video ended, their was a tour of the Jupiter and No. 119.  These were the two locomotives that brought dignitaries to the Golden Spike Ceremony.  Both of these locomotives are replicas of the original locomotives.  Interestingly, neither Jupiter nor No. 119 were supposed to be the locomotives that brought dignitaries to the Ceremony.  A locomotive named Antelope was supposed to pull the Central Pacific trains, but as they were headed to Utah, an accident occurred...Antelope hit a log.  The Antelope was too badly damaged to complete the journey to Promontory, so the trains were hooked up to Jupiter.  Jupiter continued to serve as a passenger locomotive until the early 1900's.  Eventually she was sold to be used as scrap metal.

 Originally the 119 was not to pull the Union Pacific trains either.  When the Vice President of the company stopped in Piedmont, Wyoming, angry workers met the train and chained it to the siding.  They had not been paid for several months and refused to let the train continue.  After two days, the money arrived to pay the workers and the Vice President continued to Promontory.  However, the Weber River had risen and the bridge was not safe to cross for the heavy Durant Special.  So the engineer gave the coaches a push and they coasted across the bridge.  Then the 119 was sent from Ogden to pick up the caoches and bring them to Promontory.  The No. 119 served as a freight locomotive until the early 1900's when she was also scrapped.
 The new replicas are used during the spring and summer but are stored and cleaned in the winter.
 The kids worked together inside and out to find the answers to the numerous questions about the Golden Spike and the transcontinental railroads.

It was a fun and informative outing.  It took a little longer to answer some of the questions than we had expected and everyone was ready to go by the time we finished, but it was fun.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Spirit

Norman Vincent Peale said, "I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world."

I felt the Christmas spirit this year as we prepared for and participated in a variety of Christmas activities:  book club party, neighborhood party, ward party, ward Christmas sacrament program, company parties, First Presidency Devotional, reading Christmas books daily, singing and listening to Christmas songs, reflecting on Christ, visiting Temple Square, providing service, driving around to see lights, decorating gingerbread houses, spending time with loved ones.  I've probably forgotten a few.  But certainly all of these things brought joy and happiness to me.  I know that the holidays aren't happy for everyone and I know that many people begin to feel overburdened by all of the things to do and places to go.  I certainly can understand that, but I genuinely love it.  I love all of the aspects of the celebration...except perhaps decorating gingerbread houses. (I do those because my girls really love it.)  And there are aspects of the holidays that I don't participate in such as Elf on the Shelf or singing in the ward choir.  But I love the music, the parties, the service, the thinking of others and the reflecting on blessings as well as the turning of hearts to Christ.

Here are some of the things we did to get in the Christmas spirit.  We made (mini) gingerbread houses:

 We went to Temple Square to see the lights.  This ended up being a bit different than our plans.  My class went in together to buy me a gift card to Old Spaghetti Factory for Christmas.  So our plan was to have dinner there at Trolley Square and then go see the lights.  But I didn't make reservations and when we got there, the wait was an hour and a half.  So we went Rubios instead and then headed to Temple Square.  But Temple Square was so busy that the parking lots at City Creek were full.  So we parked at Gateway, rode the Trax and then walked around Temple Square.  It was beautiful...but so crowded.  But still worth going, in my opinion (maybe not so much in Gabby's...take a look at the expressions she makes in several of the pictures.)

I love seeing the different nativities.  

 On a different night, the girls and I and Gabby's friend Sofie drove around town seeing homes with great light displays.  This house in West Jordan was really cool.  It told you to tune your radio to a specific station and then the lights were flashing in tune to the Christmas music.  Very cool.
 We drove around Christmas Street in Taylorsville.

 We drove around Christmas Street in Sugarhouse...and took a bad photo in front of the Christmas Tree.  We also drove WAY up in the Avenues to see the Reindeer Crossing house there.
It truly is "the most wonderful time of the year!"

Home Improvements

Alfredo spent the two weeks after Thanksgiving doing a number of Home Improvement projects.  He worked so hard and did such a beautiful job.  He's amazing.

First, he repainted the living room.  It was a light brown, now it is a cream color.
Apparently it is hard to tell the difference with the photos I took...but here is the brown.  Before picture.

Here is the after photo...cream.  It really is different and makes the room lighter and feel a bit bigger.
 Then Alfredo decided to stain the kitchen cabinets.
After staining
Notice that he also changed the old fan thing about the oven so now it is stainless steel like all of our appliances.

He's not quite done but in addition to restaining the cupboards, he is also adding handles.

 Then he tackled changing the doors and trim for our closets and bedrooms upstairs.  We had the old brown heavy wood doors that we had painted white.  But they were looking pretty bad.   This ended up being a huge project.  Two of our closet doors are not standard size so he had to figure out how to handle that.  And none of the doors quite fit in the frames so he had to cut all of them down to get them to fit.  It really ended up being much more work than either of us expected.  But they do look beautiful now!

 I love all of the changes!!  I am so thankful for his hard work and all he has done this month and over the 13 years we have lived in this house to make it a nicer place to live!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day

Christmas Day was magical.  The girls woke up about 8:30 and Elaine was coming at 9.  So they were able to open their stockings and then they had to wait for a little bit.  They were a bit impatient, but it did give me time to shovel the sidewalks as it had snowed A LOT!  Elaine came over to watch the girls open gifts and she made us juice, orange rolls, and a breakfast casserole.  It was delicious.
Santa brought Michelle the ripstick she was hoping for.

Santa brought Gabby a Monster High doll.

Santa also brought Gabby some Shopkins.   Santa brought Ella a Wubble Bubble ball and the movie "Once I Was a Beehive."

I love that Michelle was so excited and surprised when she opened a book of Percy Jackson illustrated myths.  I love that she enjoys reading!

Ella and Gabby both got sleeping bags and foam pads as we will be taking a camping trip this spring with friends.

 Alfredo bought us a new vaccuum and carpet cleaner and did a lot of home improvements, so he wasn't supposed to buy me anything.  But he cheated and bought me a beautiful black dressy coat for church.   I gave him gift cards (not very original or exciting) and bought a new fan thing for over the oven.   I also got our whole family season tickets to Desert Star Theatre this upcoming year.  My mom and Mike bought us tickets to see the play Peter and the Starcatchers at Hale Center Theatre.  So lots of memory making opportunities in the upcoming year as well.
The girls got a lot of new clothes.  A LOT of new clothes.  Gabby and Ella show off one of their new outfits in this photo.

After breakfast, we cleaned up a bit and I started working on lunch as the girls played.   Elaine went to pick up my grandpa.   Elaine, Grandpa and my friend/neighbor Sharon joined us for lunch. Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures the rest of the day.  But we had a wonderful time eating ham and stuffing and mashed potatoes and rolls and sweet potatoes and pie as well as visiting.  It was wonderful having Sharon join us as well as Grandpa and Elaine.   Then Alfredo and I took naps, the girls played, we talked with grandparents, we Facetimed with my sister and her family, and we played games as a family.  It was a wonderful, peaceful, happy day.  I am so thankful for Alfredo, my cute and sweet girls, extended family, and so many friends.  I have been richly blessed.   As we drove around a couple of days before Christmas delivering neighbor gifts, I passed house after house where I thought "Oh, I love them...I should have included them on my list of neighbor gifts."   We are blessed to have so many wonderful neighbors and friends.  And we are especially blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ, to know that our Savior lives and loves us.  We were able to remember Him and remember the reason for the season.  So very blessed!