Friday, December 31, 2010

O Christmas Tree

I've had several people ask me about my Christmas tree. Then, they have a surprised look when I tell them I have 3 Christmas trees. But trust me, they're not fancy and I didn't have to spend a lot on any of them.

All my trees are fake. I don't like real trees for several reasons: 1) I can't stand the smell of pine. I blame it on the fact that I spent a lot of time as a child at my cousin's cabin in Lake Tahoe (I know, poor me). Although the scenery was beautiful and I loved getting away from my house in Reno, I could not stand the smell of all the pine trees! 2) Real trees are expensive and you have to get a new one every year. We've spent less than $100 for all 3 trees, including the ornaments. 3) You have to take care of real trees. I don't have a green thumb. I cannot keep plants alive. In fact, I don't have any plants in my house. There are some pretty flowers on our front porch, but Craig takes care of those. Plus, I don't want to have to worry about my tree drying out and possibly starting a fire.

Here is tree #1. This is the first tree Craig and I had as a married couple. It was given to us by my parents. It's 5 1/2 ft. tall and it's in our game room upstairs. We call this the "kids tree" because we put all their homemade ornaments on it. We also put old ornaments that Craig and I made growing up on the tree. The tree has flashing lights so you only see part of them in the second picture.

We got tree #2 at a Black Friday sale at Jo-ann's for $30. Great deal! Then, we went to Hobby Lobby and bought 2 packages of red and gold ornaments for $10 each. It was enough to cover the whole tree. This tree sits in our formal area.

Finally, tree #3 is by far my favorite. The color on the walls in our family room is called Velvety Merlot. It's a deep red color and we love it! It really makes the room look cozy. Since we bought this house in 2008, I wanted a white Christmas tree. I thought it would be a nice accent to the room. Back in October, I was driving around looking at garage sales. At the first garage sale I went to, I noticed a box sitting to the side. As I looked closer, I saw it was a white Christmas tree! Immediately, I asked how much it cost. I quickly handed over my money when I was told it was $10!!! TEN DOLLARS!!!! Best garage sale deal ever!
When it was time to put up the trees, we didn't have any decorations for the tree. With red walls and a white tree, I wanted my favorite color for the ornaments-black. I wanted only black ornaments on the tree. Do you know how hard it is to find black ornaments? There not available everywhere. I drove to Hobby Lobby and found some. I bought $10 worth of black ornaments (4 boxes). My sister-in-law actually had 3 boxes of black ornaments that her daughter left behind. So, I got those too. Later, when I went to buy a black star topper and Christmas tree skirt at Hobby Lobby, they were sold out. So, I'll just get them next year. I'll get some more ornaments too.

On Christmas Eve, a family at church gave me a gift as a thank you for all my ministry work. It was black ornaments with some gold accents. Love it!!! Can't wait to use them next year.

So, those are my trees. I would actually like more. Believe it or not, I want a black tree in our bedroom since we will be painting the walls two shades of gray (no, I'm not demonic as my family says). Stay tuned next Christmas!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

On Saturday, December 25th, Craig and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. Yes, we got married on Christmas Day. We got married in El Paso at the church where we met. I really, really wanted a white Christmas, but living in El Paso, I knew that wouldn't happen. However, on Christmas Eve, the eve before our wedding, it snowed!!!! I took it as a sign from God blessing our marriage.

Our tale begins in 1992 when Craig and I started attending the same church in El Paso, Harvest Christian Center. His parents knew the senior pastor and helped start up the church. My family came a few months later when invited by a colleague of my dad's.

Over the next 4 years, Craig and I became friends, always attending youth and church functions. We became good friends, then best friends, and eventually in April 1996 we became boyfriend and girlfriend. Since I was so young when we first met, Craig saw me go through all my awkward adolescence, but still saw something special in me.

He proposed a week before my 18th birthday only after getting my parents permission. My parents only stipulation was that I had to complete a year of college first. Well, I completed a year and a half of college and then got married.

Again, I knew it was a sign from God that we got married at the appropriate time when Craig was transferred out of state with his job only three months after we got married. Craig moved to Socorro, NM in March while I finished my semester of school and another show I was performing in. I joined him in June, but Craig came home every week on his days off.

We moved again to Santa Fe, NM then back to El Paso, and finally to the D/FW area. This is what we call home. In fact, before we got married, we prayed about where we hoped God would take us. We either wanted to live in the D/FW area or San Diego (our favorite place ever and where we spent our honeymoon). We were very happy when God brought us here.

Throughout our 11 years, we have been on a never-ending roller coaster. We've endured deaths and births. Craig stood by my side through many, many medical procedures and life-threatening surgeries (worthy of another post someday). I've stood by his side through many job transfers and moves.

Now I sit here typing this post and count all the blessings that God has given Craig and I. We have two beautiful children that we didn't know we would be able to have after all my many medical issues. We live in our absolute dream home that had everything on our checklist. I am able to be a part-time stay-at-home-mom and when I do work, I get to share my passion of music with others.

We really could not want for anything else. God has completely blessed our lives, our family, our marriage. We knew our marriage had to be built on a solid foundation of God's Holy Word and that's what we've so proudly done.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Traditions

It's been a very busy couple of days so I'm playing catch up on here. But we are eager to share with you the Kelley Christmas traditions. Be forewarned, this is a LONG post! :)

Since we leave Christmas morning to go to my parents, the four of us have our own traditions on Christmas Eve. It starts with Craig making homemade doughnuts for breakfast. He only does this once a year, but it's something we look forward to.

Here are the doughnuts frying in the skillet. They are simply canned biscuits with a hole cut out of the middle.

Here are the yummy toppings: melted chocolate and cinnamon and sugar.

The finished doughnuts. Don't they look so delicious?!

Here are the taste testers. As you can see, they love the chocolate doughnuts.

Another tradition we do starting December 1 is looking daily at our Advent Calendar. I made this last year. It was a craft I found in Family Fun magazine. It was very easy to make and I was able to personalize it for our own family. I simply cut out 25 doors or windows from magazines and glued them on red cardstock. Then, I cut around 3 sides of each picture. I then glued the red cardstock to green cardstock. I cut a yellow dot sticker in half and put it next to each picture and wrote a number (1-25) on it. Each day the kids took turns opening one of the doors or windows and we just followed what it said. For example, Day 3 says "Sing Jingle Bells" or Day 20 says "Bake some Christmas goodies". On Day 6, which is Craig's birthday, it says "Make A Card For Daddy". The kids really looked forward to reading it each morning.

Kaitlyn made some reindeer food in school this year. It's simply glitter and oats that you sprinkle on the lawn. It's supposed to shine in the moonlight and guide the reindeer to your house. Kaitlyn bravely stood out in the cold drizzle and sprinkled (and then dumped) the reindeer food on the lawn.
Every Christmas Eve, Craig works until 8 pm. I make finger foods for dinner and the kids wait for him to arrive. They know as soon as he gets home, they get to open their gifts.

They just can't contain their excitement!

Our kids know about Santa, but it is so important to us that they know all about Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas too. They've always known about the story of Jesus' birth and this year Craig decided to do what his dad always did. Craig opened the Bible to the book of Luke and read to the kids about the very first Christmas.

Of course, we have to get out Santa's goodies too. Santa's preferences seem to change every year. Luckily, I always seem to have what he's craving. I got this 'Cookies For Santa' plate many years ago at a fabric store in El Paso. We use it every year to set out for Santa.

This year, Santa wanted fudge, a candy cane cookie, and Dr. Pepper.

Once that is all done, the kids head to bed. Santa comes while they're sleeping and fills their stockings and leaves one big present for them.

Kaitlyn was the first to wake up. It was about 5:15 am, but Craig and I were already up. We were leaving for Abilene and 6 am. Kaitlyn got some brown and pink cowgirl boots. She loves them!

I had to wake Preston about 5:30 am. He's checking out his stocking and didn't even see his big present sitting on the floor next to it.

Finally, Preston saw his Leapster 2 and was so happy to have his very own. Now he doesn't have to borrown Kaitlyn's anymore.

We got dressed, loaded up, and headed to my parents house in Abilene. Two of my sisters and their families live in Abilene as well. One of my brothers lives in Ft. Worth and he heads to Abilene too. It's a full house on Christmas.
We arrived just in time for a huge Christmas breakfast. Then, it's time to open presents. Here is the tree full of gifts. The kids are eagerly anticipating the gift opening to begin.

Here is my lovely dad. He looks good for 73 yrs old! He's watching a video slideshow my mom made for him of his 4 youngest granddaughters.

Of course, there was the Wii and Just Dance. I think I'm doing "Cotton-Eyed Joe" with my niece and nephew.

Here are some of the kids getting their groove on!

Later, we did a White Elephant Gift exchange. I ended up with a Tattoo kit (it's used with markers) and Craig ended up with a black Lancome make-up case full of soaps, lotions, etc. He actually "stole" it from my sister (who "stole" it from me) so our daughter could use the case for toys and I could have everything in it. There was also a $20 bill strategically placed in the box of soap. Like I said, he got it so I could have EVERYTHING in it. LOL
It was a long day and we were all in bed just after 10 pm.
The next day, we had leftovers for breakfast and then I helped my mom make another big lunch. It was so good and we all gained 10 lbs.

Here's Kaitlyn playing with her cousin outside.

And so ends another holiday of family, food, fun, and being thankful for all that Jesus did for us so we could live the wonderful life that we all have.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Lights

As I'm sure most families do, we spend a night driving around looking at all the Christmas lights. We usually drive around for about an hour and then head home. But first, there are a few stops we have to make.

Every year we stop at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to snack on as we drive around. It's pretty much the only time throughout the year that we get these. I like the pumpkin spice doughnuts and everyone else gets the original glazed. Yummy!

I always have to get my Starbucks. A tall mocha to be exact. Delish!

Preston is covered up and happily eating his doughnut.

Kaitlyn brought along her Care Bear for company.

There's a town close to us called Southlake. They have a Town Square that's full of wonderful stores like Williams-Sonoma, Gap, Bath and Body, etc. There's also tons of restaurants, a giant Barnes and Noble and so much more. The Town Square is brightly lit every Christmas and always looks so festive.

Here's a picture of their tree and gazebo behind it. The red and green lights in front of the tree is actually a fountain with what appears to be colored water.

The Town Square also has carriage rides during the Holidays.

Here is Keller's Town Hall with their big tree.

It was a nice night that we look forward to every year. It ended with both kids falling asleep in the car. I'm sure "visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Program #4 and I'm Done!

Last night was the final Christmas Program that I was involved in. I teach music every other Monday at my friend's daycare. The kids are so sweet. I was asked to teach them a few songs to sing during their Christmas party. Of course, I was more than happy to do that.

Kaitlyn and I are all dressed up and ready to go. There were some older kids that go to the daycare when they don't have school. They decided on Monday to pick out a song they could all sing together. Well, Kaitlyn just happened to be with me when I stopped by the daycare and decided she wanted to participate too!

Unfortunately, the boys had to stay home since Preston still wasn't feeling well. Here's what they were doing before we left.

Kaitlyn happily joined in and sang "Jingle Bells" with the older kids.

The preschoolers sang 3 songs and did such a great job. I could tell their parents were so proud. After all the eating and singing was over, the kids had a book exchange. Each child had to bring a new book, wrapped up, for their age level. Kaitlyn got 3 Skippyjon Jones books. I love that book series. I got a book for Preston. He got "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Eric Carle. He is an amazing children's author.

Then, Santa came!!!! I knew he was going to make an appearance so I had to have a talk with Preston and Kaitlyn ahead of time. They are petrified of anyone dressed up in costume. We haven't been able to plan a trip to Disney because we knew they would be scared of all the characters. It's very ironic since I'm always talking to them about acting and pretending. They've seen me perform lots of times and have to dress differently than I usually do.

Obviously, Kaitlyn had no problem sitting on Santa's lap. It really surprised me. Santa had personalized pillowcases for all the kids. They loved them!

One of the daycare kids gave me this beautiful Christmas bouquet of flowers. I was completely surprised and touched.

It was a great night that my friends Mallori and Cindy put together. The families were so nice and I just love the kids. I'm sad Preston had to miss it, but he needed to get better for Christmas. I'm looking forward to next year.
And I'm done!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Program #3 and a Gingerbread House

Saturday night was my third Christmas program at the Grapevine Opry. Our music pastor plays in the band and somehow our church choir was invited to be part of the program. We sang back-up on three songs to an amazing singer! It was a very enjoyable night and I loved being on a stage like that again.

Here I am all dressed up and ready to go. No, I did not plan to match my outfit to the walls in my family room.

While I was gone, Craig and the kids had their own enjoyable night. They built a gingerbread house together. Although I wish I could've been there too, I'm glad Craig was able to have some holiday fun with the kids.

First step in building a gingerbread house, pop the bubble wrap!!!

Preston and Kaitlyn are getting ready to make the icing.

Kaitlyn is helping Craig with the piping.

Following in the steps of his grandfather who used to own a construction company, I think Preston has the skill too.

Time to decorate! BTW, the canned corn is not part of the decorating. It's being used to hold up the walls until the icing dries.

They are concentrating so hard.

Admiring their work

Here's a close-up of one side. Notice Kaitlyn trying to eat it.

Of course, Preston has to try to eat it too!

We love making new memories and traditions with the kids. Hopefully, this will be something we do every year.

3 down, 1 more to go!