I’m not going to lie, 2016 has not been the best year for us. The combination of Eddie and I each working two jobs (while Eddie is also in school full time) and the kids reaching that age where they are all involved in different activities has made us stretched incredibly thin in every way imaginable. And the while it’s been that way for most of our time here in seminary and we’ve done our best to hide the stress from the kids, this year they seemed to feel our stress and chaos as well. But the end is in sight. Eddie will graduate in June and following that we will HOPEFULLY find ourselves in a more settled place. No idea where that will be or what it will look like exactly (which is incredibly stressful for a planner like me!) but we are trusting God will lead us to the place we are supposed to be. And even though parts of this year downright sucked at times, there were some really great moments as well so as we look forward to better times ahead I decided to remind myself of the good that happened in 2016. And the many hairstyles and colors worn by the Mariel girls! We celebrated Layla’s 6th Gotcha Day this year. Her favorite thing about her gotcha day is drinking all the Fanta. We’ve made some great friends here at Fuller and this year we said goodbye to quite a few of them. I miss our game nights and Taco Tuesday’s with these friends. Emma performed in Snow White and was the world’s cutest cuckoo clock and golden nugget. Easter was spent at my grandma’s house. My brother married this beautiful girl this year so we got lots of time celebrated the happy couple! One of the best decisions we made as a family was to invest in season tickets to Universal Studios. With all the stress and craziness we weren’t having a lot of fun as a family and with the opening of the Harry Potter World (huge Harry Potter fans here!) and the fact that it’s only 20 minutes from our house we decided to splurge. It has been a great escape and we will definitely miss going when our passes expire in a couple months! For my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding I was both bridesmaid and photographer. Because of the dual role I needed a second shooter I could trust with not only giving me the great images I wouldn’t be able to get but also someone who could handle me when I was a big ball of stress. Enter Shannon, one of my dearest and best friends. She and her fiancé spent the weekend with us and went above and beyond and were my sanity and I couldn’t love them more! Every time we go to Travel Town the kids want to ride the train but we always run out of time or don’t have the money. They finally got to ride the train. You can tell that at least one of them was excited about it.
Summer barbeque at my brother’s complete with s’mores and snuggling with Gigi. Both girls performed in their dance studio’s end of the year performance. Layla did hip hop and our little ballerina obviously did ballet. We went to San Diego for a week with Eddie’s family and my brother and sister were able to come down for a day to visit as well. Noah did his 4th grade mission project on San Diego De Alcala so he was really excited to see it in person.
In July I drove up to Big Sur to photograph my brother proposing to my newest sister! In August we did our annual trip camping on the beach with my family. We celebrated my mom’s sixty years of life with friends and family and lots of food including the world’s ugliest cake made by yours truly!
First day of school! One of the real highlights of this year for me was my weekend in wine country with my best friends. I flew to DC and then Shannon, Emi, and I toured the vineyards and talked about life and did some wedding planning. I think a yearly girls weekend may be mandatory here on out. Noah rocked the soccer field (and the man bun) this year. And I’ve embraced the life of a soccer mom. Noah was really proud of his costume that he decided on five minutes before trick or treating. And here we are enjoying this holiday season, looking forward to what 2017 has in store for us.