Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Year in Review

Highs and Lows of the Year:


Alfredo and I celebrated our 15th Anniversary.

Gabby got baptized on September 3.  That was  a very special day for all of us.  She is so happy to be able to attend Activity Days and to have the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Gabby and Ella went camping for the first time!!

After 11 years, Alfredo bought a new car.

We got a second dog named Holly.

We went hiking a lot.

Gabby LOVED flying through the clouds when we flew in an airplane (her first time on an airplane since she was a newborn.)

We had an amazing experience going on a whale and dolphin tour in CA.   We saw 3 blue whales and a pod of dolphins.

Michelle liked hearing the coyotes howl at night while we were camping.  We all enjoyed seeing a variety of animals.

I saw a moose while we were hiking!!

Gabby loved going to the Los Angeles Zoo.

Ella was excited to turn 11.

Ella loved going to the beach.

Michelle loved hosting a Christmas party for her friends and wants it to be an annual tradition.

Ella loved Christmas Eve.  She loved dancing with Darla and spending time with family.Gabby liked spending time with family and friends.

Gabby loves math, science and art.

We had season tickets to Desert Star Theatre.

Grandma and Grandpa Kapel came to visit several times, including over Thanksgiving!

We are healthy.


Gabby's second grade teacher got really sick so she had a long term sub for much of the year.  Then near the end of the school year, her teacher, Mrs. Tregeagle, died.

Alfredo is having a lot of troubles with acid reflux.

Donald Trump won the presidential election.

Locking my keys in the car while in New Mexico and then again at girls camp!


*Ten day camping trip through New Mexico with Annette and kids.  (Girls and me)
*Camping in Uintas (Girls and me)
*Girls Camp (Michelle and me)
*Trek (Me)
*Los Angeles (All of us)


Jenny:  (Stats taken from Goodreads)
I read 319 books this year (that includes many, many picture books...but 100+ chapter books as well).  I read 40,204 pages.  A few books that I read that I really loved:

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
Contrite Spirit by Bruce and Marie Hafen
Winter by Marissa Meyer
Spare Parts by Joshua Davis
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Accomplishing the Impossible by Russell M. Nelson
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Lockwood & Co.  (#1-4) Jonathan Stroud
No Ordinary Women by Elaine Dalton

...and many others but those are some of the best!

Harry Potter #1-7
Percy Jackson
Goose Girl and rest of series

Harry Potter
Dear Dumb Diary
Candyshop Wars

Harry Potter
Princess in Black
Grounded:  The Adventures of Rapunzel

Friday, December 30, 2016

A White Christmas!!

Many people hope and wish for a white Christmas...and we certainly got one this year!   It began snowing on Christmas Eve and snowed throughout the night.  There was a ton of snow on Christmas morning!  A ton!!

We got up with just enough time to get ready for church at 9 AM since we had been up so late on Christmas Eve.  We let the girls open their gifts from Santa and their stocking before church.  Gabby got a doll named Isa from Santa, Ella got two cute sweatshirts and Michelle got a curling iron with 6 different tops.  Then  we went to sacrament meeting and had such a beautiful meeting!   I am so glad that we went and we were able to start our Christmas Day by remembering the true reason for all of these celebrations.  The choir sang and Brother Bennett was narrator.  I was especially touched when the choir and congregation sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" together, with both the organ and piano playing.  It was beautiful...and the spirit was so strong.  Tears were streaming down my face.   It was wonderful.  Our Bishop ended the meeting by speaking about the Savior, His birth, life, death and Atonement.  Such a wonderful meeting!!

Then we came home, Alfredo shoveled the walks/driveway, and I prepared brunch.  Elaine and my grandpa came over and we ate. Then the girls finally got to open their gifts around noon.  We played and spent time together (and Alfredo napped).

Christmas morning...after Santa delivered the gifts but before the girls were up

Santa enjoyed the milk and cookie left out for him!

Almost right away, Michelle tried out her curling iron.

And she enjoyed having multiple photos taken of her with her curled hair and different expressions.

We spent time putting together one of the 8 puzzles we got for Christmas.

 That evening we went to Leo and Annette's house for dinner and we also played Apples to Apples with them.  It was a really wonderful day.

Dinner at friends

Right before Thanksgiving, we went to visit and have dinner with our dear friends, Mike and Jami.  They lived in our ward until September and Jami was the girls' piano teacher for several years.  Jami also served as the RS secretary when I was RS president.  So Mike and Jami are dear friends of ours.  We have had them over for dinner many times and have gone on a number of double dates with them (even triple dates with them and Jeremy and Stacie a few times).  So we were excited to have dinner at their new house.   It's nice.  We are so happy for them to be in a home.  Ella snapped several selfies while we were there of herself with Madison and Gabe.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Light of the World

One of my most favorite days of the year is Christmas Eve.   I just love our traditions on that day...we clean our house really well (okay that part I don't love...but it is nice going into the holiday with a clean home) and finish any preparations for Christmas.  Then in the evening, we read Luke 2 to remember our Savior's birth.  The girls open 1 gift (pajamas) and we make luminaries.  We cut Christmas shapes into paper bags and add candles and then place them along our sidewalk.  It is a great reminder/symbol of whose birth we celebrate...Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.  On Facebook that evening, I posted photos of our luminaries with these words:  "The night around us may be dark, but because of the Babe born in Bethlehem, our path is lit. 'The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? --Psalm 27:1'"  I know these words to be true.  Here are a few other verses that illustrate that Christ is the light of the world.  
John 8: 12  "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."
Alma 38:9  "And now, my son, I have you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ.  Behold, he is the life and the light of the world.  Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness."
Psalm 119: 105  "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

The night was dark but these luminaries brought light to our pathway...just as this world seems to become increasingly dark, but Christ brings light to our lives and to our paths.  If we follow Him, there is light and life and hope and love and peace.  

 The luminaries felt especially meaningful to me this year because the Church's Christmas message/initiative this year was #LighttheWorld and we were encouraged to do something to serve others each day in December.  Specific challenges were issued each day to live/act in a way that imitates the Savior.  We participated in some of the challenges and did do some type of service most days and it was a blessing in our lives as we did that.

Don't eat us!

 After our traditions at home, we head to Alfredo's aunt and uncle's home where the girls play with cousins and we visit.  Gabby took a long nap this year in preparation for the long night ahead.  Smart girl!   Then at midnight, we eat a big, delicious dinner.  After dinner, we open gifts from Alfredo's aunts, uncles and cousins and they open gifts from us/each other.  We don't get home until about 2-3 A.M. but it is a wonderful night.

I didn't take a lot of pictures after we arrived at Alfredo's family but it was a wonderful evening.  So thankful for our many blessings and especially for our Savior!!