Friday, November 26, 2010


Two holidays in one. That's the way the Kelley's do it. Every Thanksgiving, all the Kelley's gather at Mom and Dad Kelley's house. Kim (#1 Kelley) and her kids come from California and 3 of the Kelley boys (#2, #3, and #4) make the drive from somewhere in the metroplex. David (#5 Kelley) and Cindy live in Killeen so they don't have to drive very far either.

At Christmas, we all go our separate ways and spend time with the other sides of the family. It saves us from any arguments about where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since we are together for just this one holiday, we do all our Christmas gifts at the same time. Thus, Thanks-Christmas-Giving is born!

When we arrived, there were little craft projects awaiting the younger kids.

Somehow Craig (#4) got talked into carving the turkey.

The Kelley's have a fondness for unique items on their heads. On the left is Paul (#3) wearing reindeer antlers with a turkey sitting in the middle. Kim (#1) has light-up antlers. Then there is Warren (#2) and his daughter Ashley with their elf hats. Their incredible annoying and LOUD elf hats! The hats played music and danced around while on their heads. It was cute at first.

Then, they let Preston wear one who thought it was the best thing ever! He kept playing it over and over until we had to take it away.

The desserts-yummy! We had different types of Amish Friendship Bread, sweet potato pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cake, pumpkin cheesecake, and fudge.

Kim (#1) made this cute sign next to a bowl of Tums. It says "For those who have indulged (or plan to...), Tums is there!"

It's Thanksgiving!

Time for dessert.

No, I don't see the candy canes hanging from the giant holes in your ears!

This year we decided to do a White Elephant Gift Exchange. All gifts needed to be items we already had in our home (ahem, Ashley!). There were some funny gifts: leftover graduation announcements, lantern, sock monkey, Olive Garden bread basket (don't ask), the book Hamlet. It was a lot of fun.
Dad is checking out his white elephant gift. He got 3 boxes of outdoor christmas lights.

Then, it was time to do our Christmas gift exchange. Craig (aka #4 aka Santa) passed out all the gifts and we took turns opening them. Preston is buried in his gifts.

Dad and Tyler are patiently waiting for their turns.

Now, it's Dad's turn!

Cindy, David (#5) and the kids got the older kids Snuggies and the little kids hooded towels. Cindy stitched all their names on the bottom. They looked great!

As the evening started to wind down, the adults played games and Craig played Just Dance 2 on the Wii with Hayley. He was getting his groove on to "Womanizer".

It was a very fun day. We were missing our soldier David (#5) who is still overseas. We hope we can all be together next year.
(By the way, this year I labeled our names on the gift tags as #4 Kelley's. Since 4 out of 5 kids and their families have the last name of Kelley, I just used the birth order number to label everything. That's why all the Kelley kids have a number next to their name. I think I'll use it from now on.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Get Caught Reading

Our family loves to read. Kaitlyn has really accelerated in reading since starting 1st grade. Right now, she really loves chapter books. She just finished a Magic Tree House book and is currently reading Charlotte's Web. She reads to herself and does a great job with the vocabulary.

So, I decided to let her make her own special bookmark. She was super excited about it. I let her pick out the cardstock and scrapbook paper. She also picked out letter stickers and the ribbon. It turned out so cute and she loves to mark her place in her books now.

Kaitlyn is applying the glue on the cardstock.

Kaitlyn is deciding on what letter stickers she wants to use to spell out her name.

Here is one side of the bookmark with her name.

Here is the other side. Simple, but cute.

Kaitlyn is trying to read with our dog Princess in her lap. Princess is trying to get her attention.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey Bowling

Every November, our church has a toilet paper drive to "wipe out" the need for unfortunate families. A local charity called Grace distributes the toilet paper to those families. Since Craig and I have been really emphasing to the kids about helping others, we knew this would be a great way to do their part. It also shows them how thankful we need to be for the little things we have-like toilet paper.

Kaitlyn and Preston have their toilet paper to put in the donation bin.

In conjunction with the Toilet Paper Drive, our Children's Pastor organizes Turkey Bowling for the kids after a Sunday service in November. The kids get a free pizza lunch and then get to bowl with a turkey. There were a lot of kids that bowled and had a lot of fun.

Preston and Kaitlyn are waiting patiently for their turn to bowl. A 13# turkey was used for the older kids. The younger kids got to use a cornish game hen.

Here is Kaitlyn knocking down some pins.

Now Preston gets to try. He likes to throw the "turkey" on top of the pins to knock them down.

Kaitlyn won 1st place in the 1st grade group. She won a little bowling set.

Preston wanted his picture taken since his big sister got her picture taken too.

It was a fun day and we look forward to doing it again next year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pre-K Thanksgiving Feast

Preston had his Thanksgiving Feast at school today. Since I was teaching my music classes, Craig got the day off to celebrate with Preston. Everyone kept commenting how nice it was to have a dad come to the school for a special event. We completely agree and Preston loved having his Daddy with him.

Preston is on the left in the front dressed in his pilgrim garb. The pre-k class was able to go to the Kindergarten class and listen to a Thanksgiving story.

Here is Preston in the hallway headed for lunch. He just came out of the classroom and didn't realize Craig was waiting for him. This is his reaction.

Preston is waiting patiently for his food. His placemat says what he's thankful for: church, cars, recess, my mommy and daddy, and food.

Here are the pre-k pilgrims!

The kids had turkey, rolls, craisins, fruit, corn on the cob, pumpkin muffins, a double-layered cookie cake, and capri-suns. I'm sure it's exactly like the meal the pilgrims had for their First Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Colonial Day

All the 1st graders at Kaitlyn's school had Colonial Day today. They got to experience what life was like around the first Thanksgiving. They needed several volunteers to take each class to the different classrooms. So, Craig stayed home with Preston and I went to Colonial Day.

Here is Kaitlyn getting ready to go to the first station.

The students made their own clay pots. They learned pots were used to gather water or to cook food.

Kaitlyn is drawing hieroglyphics on the side of her pot with a toothpick. She's concentrating very hard.

The students made headbands at the next station. Each student got 8 feathers. They had to color the feathers in a pattern: AB, ABC, AABBCC, etc. Kaitlyn chose an ABC pattern.

The students learned about the games that were played long ago. Every child got a piece of yarn to play Cats In The Cradle. They all loved it!

Crafts was the next station where they made something called God's Eye. I thought it was a kind of odd name for a craft since nobody really knows what God's eye looks like. (hehe) It's just yarn wrapped around two popsicle sticks. The center of the craft is supposed to look like an eye. Kaitlyn had fun making it and wants to turn it into an ornament. She just might be making some for Christmas presents too. :)

The students actually got to make butter! It's just heavy whipping cream poured into a container with a marble in it. You just shake the container until it forms into a soft butter. All the kids loved to shake the container.

Kaitlyn is spreading her freshly made butter on her crackers. It actually tasted pretty good.

When that was over, Craig and Preston joined us for a Thanksgiving lunch in the cafeteria. It was nice to see so many parents joining their kids for this special meal. It also reminded me why I always pack Kaitlyn's lunch!

It was so nice to experience this with Kaitlyn and watch her react to everything she learned. All the 1st Grade teachers did a great job with the activities. These are memories that we'll always cherish.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where's The Turkey?

Preston's school project was to cut out a turkey and disguise him. By disguising the turkey, he wouldn't be eaten on Thanksgiving. We told Preston he could disguise the turkey any way he wanted to. Well, he was set on the turkey being a baseball player with a bat.

I let Craig handle this project. I'm usually the one to do projects or homework with the kids. So, I figured why not let Craig be involved and work on the project with Preston. So, they worked together and made the turkey look like a Texas Rangers baseball player.

Here's the turkey. Or is it a baseball player?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Creamy Swiss Chicken

It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe, so here you go. I got the recipe for Creamy Swiss Chicken from a Pillsbury cookbook. It was one of the first recipes I tried after Craig and I got married. Well, okay, it was one of the first recipes I tried EVER!

It's creamy and flavorful. I always serve it with steamed rice and veggies. It's very quick and easy to make too. I always double the recipe for my family because it goes quickly and great for leftovers (if there's any). Enjoy!

Creamy Swiss Chicken

1 lb. boneless chicken breast or tenderloins, thawed
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup Progresso plain bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter, melted
4 slices Swiss cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Place chicken in dish. In small bowl, combine soup and half-and-half; mix well. Pour over chicken. Bake for 30 minutes. In another small bowl, combine bread crumbs and melted butter; mix well. Remove chicken from oven. Top with cheese slices; sprinkle bread crumb mixture over cheese. Return to oven; bake another 10 minutes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Meet Chloe

Meet Chloe Brown. She is an adorable, loving 3 yr old girl. She loves her family, loves her church family, loves Barney, and most importantly loves God. I met Chloe's parents and older sister before she was born. We all attended church together. Then, God sent the family to worship with another church after Chloe was born.

At 6 mos old, Chloe was diagnosed with torticollis. Torticollis literally means "twisted neck". Five months later, Chloe was diagnosed with leukemia. She underwent chemo and radiation and had so, so much done to her poor little body. As a parent, I couldn't even begin to imagine seeing my child suffer that way.

Eddie and Rhonda Brown are Chloe's parents. Bailey is her big sister. They are nothing but 100% supportive and loving towards Chloe. The things they have sacrificed and gone through is unbelievable. Yet, through it all, they put God first. They have all of their faith in the Great Physician.

Chloe's treatment worked and her leukemia went into remission. Praise God!!! There was so much hope that she could live the rest of her life without having to suffer that way again.

Well, at least that's what everyone prayed.

Chloe was recently diagnosed with leukemia again. A second time. A recurring nightmare.

In honor of Chloe and her battle with leukemia, Nov. 5, 2010 is Wear Orange for Chloe Day! Of course, we were going to participate to show support to our little friend.

Craig didn't have an orange tie or shirt to wear to work. So, I got out my orange ribbon and made him something to pin to his shirt.

Kaitlyn took this picture of me. I'm also wearing an orange ribbon.

Preston is wearing his new orange shirt. Kaitlyn wanted to wear her Spirit Day shirt to school, but I made her a hair tye with orange and green ribbons.

The Brown family still has faith. They still believe in the Great Physician. Rhonda has kept us updated as Chloe just finished her second round of treatment. We're believing for great miracles.
So you've met Chloe.
Now pray for Chloe.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wizard of Oz Party

It's Halloween and we had nothing to do. Or did we?

Our church had their Fall Festival on Friday night, which meant we didn't have any plans for Halloween. I decided to do something festive with the kids. I came across an advertisement in a Family Fun magazine for a Wizard of Oz party. Wizard of Oz is one of my all-time favorite movies. I have soooo much memorabilia from the movie that I will proudly display in my office/craft room when we get it completed. So, a Wizard of Oz party is what we had.

After the kids got up from their naps (I think Sunday naps should be a law), these goodies were waiting for them.

I had the kids make a lion mask. First, they had to paint a paper plate brown.

Then, they glued on brown chenille stems for whiskers, pom poms for cheeks and a nose, and googly eyes for the eyes. Notice Kaitlyn put on her Dorothy dress.

Here is Kaitlyn's lion. Of course, she had to use pink and purple somewhere on the face.

Here is Preston's lion.

I made rainbow cupcakes since Dorothy sang "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". I made the batter and divided it into six bowls. Each bowl was a different color of the rainbow. Then, I just layered the batter in the cupcake liners and baked them. As a side note, the rainbow had a bigger part in the original script of the movie, but it was edited out.

Here are the baked cupcakes.

Next, we played Scarecrow Bingo. I found this cute game at the preschool where I work. I knew this would be perfect for our party. I made little flashcards with each shape and its color to use as the calling cards.

Here are Kaitlyn and Preston playing the game.

Preston is so excited that he got to say "Scarecrow Bingo".

I found some Tin Man coloring pages online. Notice Kaitlyn doesn't have her dress on but has her hair in two pigtails. She said that's how Dorothy's hair looks too.

There's a pizza place close to our house called Papa Murphy's. You order the pizza and bake it at home. They always have great deals on their pizza and it tastes so good. For Halloween, they have a jack-o-lantern pizza (they have heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine's). It has nothing to do with the Wizard of Oz but it's festive.

I found a pumpkin mold at the dollar store. It would be great for chocolate candies, but I used it to make ice cubes for our Witch's Brew.

The kids are drinking the Witch's Brew with their new pumpkin straws. The brew is just orange soda and raspberry Crystal Light (we buy the store brand). Just mix it together and it's done.

Here is the finished rainbow cupcake. So delicious!

Afterwards, we put on the movie and waited for the Trick or Treaters (we had only about a dozen). It was a very fun night and perhaps the start of a new family tradition.