Monday, September 19, 2011

Monkey Business

This year we decided to have a joint birthday party for Kaitlyn and Preston. Preston's birthday is in June and Kaitlyn's birthday is in December. So, we wanted to pick a date in the middle. We picked September. During the weekend of my opera performance. My family was in town anyways so why not pile everything into just a couple days. Crazy? Yes! Busy weekend? Extremely!!! More on my performance another time. Back to the party.

Since Texas decided to break all sorts of heat-related records this summer, we needed to have the party inside, where it was cool and air-conditioned. There is a big bounce house place called Let's Jump not too far from our house. We bought a party package, invited lots of friends and family, and the kids were able to jump on tons of inflatables. I always like to have themes with any party I have so I chose the fitting monkey theme. For party favors, I looked on my new favorite site, Pinterest, and decided to make simple, homemade party favors.

First, we had to make homemade crayons. It is soooo simple to do. We gathered all the broken crayons we had, peeled the paper, and put them in muffin tins. I purchased muffin tins at the Dollar Store that will only be used for crafts. I also recruited some helpers.

I arranged the crayons in cool colors like gray/pink, orange/yellow, green/blue, etc.

Then just stick them in the oven and let them melt.

I let them cool for just a few minutes on the counter then stuck the tins in the freezer. After the crayons harden, they just pop right out of the tins. I did have a couple cracks in some of the crayons. I just put the crayons back in the tin and re-melted it. Here are just a few of them.

I also made notepads out of cardstock. I punched a hole in the corner and tied the pages together with twine. I found these monkey die cuts at a teacher's supply store and stuck them on the front.

After I made all the crayons, I place them in baggies. I put two crayons in each bag and placed a square of wax paper in between them. I stapled a cardstock seal at the top and made the little thank you note to go on it.

Here's a close-up of the note.

Very simple party favors and I hope all the kids enjoyed them.

Saturday couldn't get here fast enough for the party. Here's a look at the first room we were in. There were several inflatables and the kids could play as they pleased. Plus, it's a private room, which means only our party was in there at the time.

There goes Kaitlyn on the big slide.

There goes a line of their friends to slide too.

There goes...Craig?!?! Yes, Craig joined in all the fun too. At one point, I remember seeing a blue streak fly by me and jump into one of the obstacle courses. Now I know where to have his birthday party.

My twin sister enjoyed the slide as well. Okay, she's not my twin. Dominique is actually 6 years younger than me, but we have had lots of people say we look like twins.

See that person in blue at the edge of the slide? Can you guess who that is? Craig was scaring the kids as they would come down the slide. He also hid in one of the bounce houses and would scare the kids as they would come through. I think they all enjoyed it.

My sister was showing her son how to bounce on the ball. I think she just wanted to try it out.

See, he has no problem bouncing on the ball by himself!!!!

After spending 90 minutes total in 2 different jump rooms, it was time to go to the Party Room for cupcakes. Of course, I got the cupcakes at Kroger. I told them how I wanted the cupcakes designed and they did exactly as I requested. There's a plastic monkey face on the first set of cupcakes. The other cupcakes say 'Happy Birthday Preston' and 'Happy Birthday Kaitlyn'.

We all sang to Preston first.

Then, we sang to Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn scarfed down her cupcake! I didn't get the picture in time.

Preston is really enjoying his cupcake.

The party ended and we headed home to open gifts.

Then, it was over! The kids had a great time and we really hope their friends did too. Kaitlyn and Preston say a great big THANK YOU to everyone that came and made their day very special.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

Today is September 11th. It will forever be a date etched in the minds of all Americans as a turning point for our country. For us.

I think everyone remembers exactly what they were doing when they received the news that America was under attack. Craig and I were living in Santa Fe, NM. He had just been laid off from his job at Furr's Supermarket because they declared bankruptcy. I had started college again at Santa Fe Community College. However, due to his job situation, we knew we would be moving back to El Paso. So we were getting ready to head to the college to withdraw from all of my classes. But first we turned on the morning news and the stories and images were horrifying.

I knew I wanted to pay tribute to all those that risk their lives for us on a daily basis. I wanted to provide a meal for our local fire station on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. But, should I just do it on my own or include neighbors and friends in the community that may want to do the same? I simply put it out there in the Facebook world and had a good response. Five other families were very eager to honor the firefighters as well. So, today we headed to the fire station with casseroles, salad, bread, desserts, drinks, and cards the children made to simply say 'Thank You'.

Here is the card Kaitlyn made. I love the childlike innocence. She later included a fire truck.

The firemen were so gracious to pull out a truck and show to the kids.

They also let the kids sit in the seats. Some of the adults sat in the truck as well.

A few of the firemen participated in a 'photo shoot'. The sun was shining directly in their eyes.

While we were there, an emergency call came in. It was pretty neat to see how quickly they had to move to get to the call. Notice the tennis shoes sitting on the ground?

So to all those that continue to fight for America's freedom, to those that have lost their lives in the process, to the families that are just as brave as the heroes, we say thank you. We will never forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

God Answers Prayers

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Craig started working for the Kroger Co. in 2002 when the grocery chain he was working for, Winn-Dixie, pulled out in this area. He had started working for Winn-Dixie when the first grocery chain he ever worked for, Furr's Supermarkets, filed bankruptcy. So all of that had to happen to get to where we are today.

As of September 4th, Craig became Kroger's newest Store Manager! We couldn't be more excited. Craig is elated and the rest of the family is soooo proud of him. He is certainly the hardest working, most dedicated person to his job that I know (besides my dad).

We have prayed for this promotion since he started working with Kroger. Craig was a Store Manager with Furr's and Winn-Dixie. However, when Kroger hired him, he was only a co-manager. Craig worked so hard, for so many hours (at salary pay), missed many holidays and special events to prove that he can get the job done.

The hard work has paid off and prayers have been answered. We thank everyone of you that have prayed along with us for so many years. God's timing is always perfect and knew this day would come.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Silly Chicken

Since school has started our schedule has been crazy. Well, really, it's always crazy. To make things just a little easier, I plan on making at least one, maybe two, crockpot meals per week. I LOVE crockpot meals. You pretty much throw everything into a crockpot and let it cook all day. Not to mention it makes your house smell so yummy. I especially love it when the weather is cooler. Ahhh, I can't wait for Fall. But, I digress. Back to crockpot meals.

I've found several sites recently full of crockpot recipes. Here are a few:

The following recipe I found on Crockpot Girls. It is originally called Stupid Chicken (don't know why), but since stupid is a bad word in the Kelley house, I changed it to Silly Chicken.

You only need these ingredients:
2 cans of 14 oz. Garlic and Onion Diced Tomatoes
1 envelope Savory Herb with Garlic Onion Soup Mix
3-4 chicken breasts, cubed (I actually used 2 lbs. chicken tenderloins because it's cheaper)

Mix the soup mix and tomatoes and pour in crockpot. Add chicken to the mix and stir. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. That's it!!!!

As you can see, I also use the crockpot liners. They come 3 to a box and are wonderful!!! It makes clean up so easy.

This is what the chicken looks like when it's all done. I served it over steamed rice, but pasta would be good too. I sprinkled a little bit of parmesan cheese on top and served steamed veggies on the side.

It was very tasty and we all enjoyed the Silly Chicken. We'd love to hear any crockpot recipes that your family enjoys. Please share!