I am 100% sure I am missing things, but I did my best! Here is how 2015 went for the Al-Bjaly family!
- On April 17, Casey got to go on a big field trip to the beach. His favorite part was being at the beach. 😉
- Casey graduated from fourth grade June 12 and got many awards that made me proud. He started fifth grade on August 3 at a fairly new charter school called The Expedition School. He has really loved it. He is taking band, learning the trombone. He also did a science fair on October 1 using paper airplanes. We really enjoyed working on it together.
- Rigel started preschool at Mum’s Weekday School on August 31. He loves it. His best friend is Avarie. He also did a really lovely Christmas program on December 17.
- Jad graduated from MyComputerCareer on May 28. He got the most certifications of anyone in his class (8/10).
- Rigel transitioned from Nursery to Sunbeams in January. I may have gotten a little teary-eyed, and been way too excited and proud at the same time.
- Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, came to North Carolina. Jad and I went with our friends, the Newtons, to a completely full couples’ conference with him, his wife, and other leaders of our church on Feb 19. He also spoke at a special Stake conference that Sunday. Jad was so excited to see him and meet him.
- March 28, we had our ward Christ-centered Easter activity. With the Primary Presidency, I helped plan and put that on. I loved helping facilitate our charades of Christ’s parables.
- After two years of teaching Institute, my favorite calling ever, I was released. My last official day of teaching was April 21.
- I spent my first full year as Primary Secretary. I love working with the presidency, and I love working with the kids, especially by teaching sharing time.
- After more than four years of serving as Ward Executive Secretary, Jad was released. He was promptly called to be the Elders Quorum Secretary. Jad really enjoys working with the EQ presidency.
- I had the privilege of teaching a large chunk of the Cooking Merit Badge to the boy scouts in our ward over the course of two evenings in September and October. It was a really fun experience, and I learned a lot.
- On December 4, our church participated in the Mebane Christmas Parade. I had such a sweet experience riding on the float with Casey, Rigel, and many other children, youth and parents.
- December 12, I participated in our ward’s second-annual multi-faith Christmas concert. I loved being in the choir with my mom, and many of my ward members. It was so special to make conversation with people of other faiths, as well as hear them sing praises. We strengthened each other.
- I helped plan and put on our Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet on February 28. Casey earned his Bear badge that night too!
- Casey went to Cub Scout Day Camp June 15-19. It was his first time attending. I was there for the last three days helping with the toddlers. I was able to be with Rigel, Kamren, and other adorable kids all day.
- Casey and Jad went to his first 11-year-old Boy Scout camp at Camp Cherokee September 25-26.
- I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my blog on March 24.
- Not long after, I decided it was time to expand my blog and make a more professional-looking site. With the help of my friend, Kirk, I was able to migrate my blog to WordPress. I launched May 29. I have been so happy with my new blog.
- While I was working on migration, I thought it would be nice to start writing for other sites to expand my reach. From April to July, I wrote a lot for familyshare.com. My experience was often frustrating because some editors would change my posts too much, and I didn’t feel I had the freedom to write what was in my heart. I rarely write for the site now. My most popular post was my first.
- From June-August, I participated in a four-part blogger round-up meant to celebrate the Family Proclamation. My first post in the round-up went viral, and I am very pleased with the reaction to it.
- At the beginning of September, I started doing book reviews for Cedar Fort Publishing. It has been a really fun experience to read books from often first-time authors. Some of the books I have read have been stellar. From September to December, I did 18 book reviews (a couple weren’t Cedar Fort). Luckily, Casey read three of them and helped me do the reviews. Still, it got very overwhelming in December, when I did five book reviews. I also did one CD review this year.
- Jad worked for HCL for a few months, starting March 30, as a Senior Analyst. He didn’t really like it because he wasn’t using his skills, and it was really far away. We were thrilled and felt so blessed when he got the position of Network Specialist with Alamance County. His first day of work was September 9, and it has been fabulous having him so close to home.
- On October 19, I started my own business with It Works. My direct upline is one of my good friends from middle school, Amber Tretick. I got to see her when she did my launch party November 21. She is such a great mentor and friend, and I hope to be the same for all who join my team. My website is matchingmyinside.itworks.com.
- May 2, my parents treated us to the Discovery Place in Charlotte. It was so fun! And you can’t go to Charlotte without going to Ikea and getting cinnamon rolls. We did that too!
- Casey went on a month-long trip to Utah from June 30-July 29. He went to Las Vegas, Lagoon, Yellowstone National Park. Zion National Park, attended a cousin’s wedding reception, saw tons of family at a family reunion, went swimming a lot, and spent a lot of quality time with his family. I was so happy when he came home!
- We surprised the kids with a trip to Myrtle Beach on Labor Day weekend this year. We had a wonderful time together. The kids love the ocean. It was also really nice to see Jad’s brother, Tawfeeq, and his family.
- I joined my neighborhood’s Community Relations Committee. I helped plan and put on our Easter Egg Hunt (March), and our neighborhood barbeque, even though I was too sick to attend (August). Both went really well, and I gained a very dear friend, Fatima, from the connections.
- Three of my good friends – Ashley, Cecilia and Kerry – moved away this year. I miss them dearly, but I am grateful for the new friends I have made as new people keep moving into our community.
- We attended three wedding receptions/vow renewals of our friends this year. We are so happy for these couples!
- Jad and I planned and executed some of our own events too. Jad and I both did girls/guys nights, and I did a baby shower for my friend, Kimberly (Feb 8), and a bridal shower for my friend, Cecilia(Aug 22)
- Casey and I auditioned for our church’s stake musical of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on October 10. I was overjoyed to be given the opportunity to do a call back for the part of the Baroness, the part I wanted more than anything. I talked to my high school drama teacher, Carol Halbert, for advice, and she said that I want them to remember only my performance. Alright, no holding back. And I didn’t. (Thanks, Casey, for rehearsing with me.) Guess what? I got the role for 2/4 performances!!!! I can’t wait to start rehearsal soon with my sweet Casey, and so many other friends and talented folks.
- In November, I started planning a theater enrichment club for Casey’s school. Next quarter, I will be teaching this club with Lucas, a faculty member at TES. I cannot be more excited!
- On December 6, I sang in Handel’s Messiah for the first time in my life with the Mebane Community Choir. I plan to do this every year!
- Rigel turned 4 on January 25. On January 24, he had a humongous super hero party – we had 17 kids filling our downstairs!
- Kamren turned 2 on May 5. He got a birthday doughnut, got a haircut, went to the children’s museum, and had a small Big Hero 6 party with family and our friend, Ashley. He got a Barney blanket that night, and he still sleeps with it every night.
- Casey turned 10 on June 14. He had a big water party with friends on the 12th. He was so excited to get his first tablet this year!
- I turned 31 on June 21, and got to celebrate my birthday the same day as Father’s Day! My favorite part of my birthday was discussing the details of my birth with my parents.
- Jad turned 33 on July 22, though, if you ask him, he will deny it. I got him a suit for his birthday, and surprised him with it early so he could use it for his second interview with Alamance County. We did Golden Corral as a family that night, and then a week later celebrated with family. He made his own birthday meal of wings, shawarmas, and veggies. I made him a cinnamon roll cake.
Health and Wellness:
- I won an 8-week weight loss challenge from August-October, and got $200, which helped me start my business!
- Jad got his wisdom teeth removed October 29.
- Jad and I both joined Planet Fitness this year. We are loving it, especially when we have our work out buddies with us.
- My aunt Betsy, my father’s youngest sister, passed away unexpectedly on January 8, just over one week after we saw her. We had a memorial service for her with family on April 18.
- Jad’s cousin, Christeen, had twin a boy and girl on April 2. We got to visit them in the hospital the following day. I loved cuddling them! We were sad when they all went back to Jordan in June. We will miss them, and Christeen’s sweet little daughter, Sarah.
- Jad’s mother Salma, and his aunt Rania received their U.S. citizenships on May 22. We were happy to be able to witness that special occasion.
- Jad’s uncle Hani and his cousin Husam also received their S. citizenships this year!
- In July, my beloved Nana moved to Hillsborough, NC. She lives really close to my parents, and we love seeing her every week.
- My brother, Aaron, got into Peabody Conservatory. He moved to Baltimore this August. He is doing great there on his double major of vocal accompanying and opera.
- Kamren had his first unofficial dentist appointment in June.
- Kamren moved from his crib into a toddler bed in June.
***We had way too many to talk about and show pictures for here, but we are members of two museums now and go often. We went to a lot of fun community and library events throughout the year. Jad’s and my favorite event we went to was seeing The Illusionists at DPAC in November.
The Kids’ Personalities:
- Casey is really into Legos, Star Wars, paper airplanes, and reading. He also likes playing the Wii and playing with friends. He is very social and bright, and loves talking about the scriptures and other things he is learning. He is overall very helpful around the house. We can tell he is heading towards adolescence, and hope it won’t be too hard. 😉
- Rigel is obsessed with super heroes. Most of the year it was Superman, but towards the end of the year, everything has become about Batman. He is a social butterfly, asks a lot of questions, and loves quesadillas. He loves singing too, and his favorite things to sing are Angels We Have Heard on High and the Star Wars Theme Song. He really wants a Batman guitar, but we can’t find one.
- Kamren is very tough, a super fast runner, an excellent climber, a lover of TV and sweets, sneaky beyond belief, and quite destructive actually. We often find horrid messes in his wake. He is still our baby, and our angel, though. We love cuddling with him. He doesn’t speak much, but is a whiz with technology. He also melts our hearts every time he shares toys or food with others, even strangers.
We had a great year, and we feel so incredibly blessed. We are grateful for each of you, too. Happy New Year!