Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lesson Learned #6

2014 was a year full of lessons for us. We were students in the ultimate classroom of Life and God was the great professor.

I learned I am a sensitive person and that's okay.  For the longest time I would try to hid it because of other people's reactions.  But being sensitive enables me to be more compassionate, more caring towards others.

At the same time, I know when to not wear my emotions on my sleeve and just keep them close to my heart.  I've learned when to grow a tough skin and no longer put up with any injustices I endure.

I've learned it is absolutely okay to say no.  I've said it a lot this past year and I've enjoyed it.  I will say yes only to things that are beneficial to me, my family, and won't take up any time that I don't have to give.

I've learned it is okay to explore other outlets, other friendships, other ways to indulge in a talent or passion.  God may close a door and lock the dead bolt, but that just means there is a better door to try down the hall.

I've learned I will never make everyone happy so I'm going to stop trying to.  People are disappointing and I will disappoint people.  As long as I am happy and am following the path God has given me, that is all that matters.

I've learned a love in a marriage can always grow and become stronger and more passionate each day.  After 15 years of marriage, I can honestly say that I am part of an amazing love story that only God could have written.

I've learned I am completely happiest when it's just the four of us.  When we can spend a few hours, a day, or even a week together with no cares in the world, everything just seems perfect.

I've learned you are never too old to chase after a dream.  Whether it's big or small, pursue that dream with all of your heart.  Don't listen to the naysayers that stand in your way.  Plow through any obstacles that pop up and just keep going.

As I reflect on all that God has taught me and I write this final post of the year, I have nothing but a full and grateful heart for the lessons.  I know I have so much more to learn and I am ready for whatever it may be.

So, farewell 2014.  You have kept me on my toes and I've enjoyed this dance.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fit and Fab: Why I ditched the Couch Potato App

I love the Couch Potato to 5K app.  LOVE it!!!  I started it, repeated each week twice, and completed it with a great sense of accomplishment.  To know I could run a 5K when I could barely run 1 minute in the beginning was such a great feeling.

But what's next?  I decided to start on the Couch Potato to 10K program and dowloaded the app for that.  It repeats all of the 5K program and then increases the time so you can complete a 10K or 6.2 miles.

But it wasn't working for me.

The beginning weeks were too easy for me (I never thought I would say that).  Once I started keeping track of the distance, I realized it was only 2 to 2 1/4 miles.  It was simply not challenging enough (I never thought I would say that either).

So, I ditched the app.

I remember Saturday, November 1 so clearly.  I decided to go for a late morning run, not use the app, and only keep track of the distance.  My goal was simply to run 3 miles.  After completing a 5K in August, I knew I could handle this distance.

And I did.

I ended up running 4 miles.  I only stopped because I had to get ready for Preston's baseball game.

I didn't want to stop.

I wanted to keep running.  I wasn't feeling tired, the weather was great, and my emotions were running high just knowing that I was able to run further than I ever have.  I've never used the app again.

My goal by the end of this month is to run 9 miles.  I listen to my body and do stop occasionally to walk during my runs.  I stay hydrated and I push myself to complete my goals.  The first mile is always the toughest and just a huge mental game.  However, once I can get focused and get in a zone, the rest of the miles seem to go by quickly.

I decided to not sign up for a 10K.  I'm running that on my own, even though it is nice to be in the company of others for a fun competition.  I'm going straight for the half-marathon.  There is a big half-marathon on March 1 and I will be training for that.  Surprisingly, 13.1 miles does not seem too difficult for me.

I still do not consider myself a runner.  In fact, running is not at all my favorite thing to do.  However, it keeps me in shape and I continue to lose weight.  To date, I've lost 15 lbs, almost 30 inches, and I've gone down a pant and shirt size (two shirt sizes depending on the style).  I'm so thankful my body is able to handle running and I have not had any major physical issues.

I run simply to prove to myself that I could do it.  I made a goal at the end of March to complete the Couch Potato to 5K and I've gone far beyond that.  I stuck to it and did not quit or make excuses.  I will continue to make new goals for myself and perhaps inspire others along the way.  Many thanks to those that have been incredibly supportive and stayed by my side the entire time.  Your encouragement keeps me going.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kaitlyn's Birthday Letter

Dear Kaitlyn,

It's been 11 years since we first had the privilege to become your parents.  We will never forget the first time we laid eyes on you.  I was absolutely speechless.  God has given us a wonderful miracle child.

You are growing into quite the young lady.  Your dad and I are full of emotion as we see you changing right before our eyes.  Your little girl ways are slowly fading away.

You are wise and mature beyond your years.  You have proven to us that you are responsible and can be trusted.  You take quickly to any correction that is given and take God's Word to heart.

You are extremely creative and are able to recreate anything you see.  You work hard on any project and you don't stop until it's perfect.  You set high expectations for yourself and you always reach them.

You are always willing to help out around the house with few complaints.  You are eager to learn and soak up anything new.  You have also become such a great big sister.  We love to see the special moments between you and your brother.

People are always complimenting you and have nothing but kind words to say.  It warms our hearts.  You are a great role model, leader, and encourager.  We can't wait to see what this next year has in store for you.

We love you always,

Mom and Dad

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One Husband's Journey: A Milestone Birthday

Craig hit a milestone.  He turned the big 4-0.  He's not into being the center of attention or wanting to be surrounded by lots of people.  Craig always prefers a night spent with family and maybe a few closest friends.  With such a momentous birthday to celebrate, I really wanted to do something special for my favorite person.  He always puts everyone else first and rarely thinks of himself.  It took some help from friends, but I managed to pull off a very momentous early birthday weekend for Craig.

The morning of Halloween, Craig woke up to Preston holding a new Dallas Stars shirt.  We then told Craig rather than trick or treating, we were going to see the Dallas Stars hockey team play the Anaheim Ducks.  First, the kids had to head to school and Craig and I had a date planned.  We went bowling and had a delicious lunch at Houlihan's.

Let me first say, Halloween can be such a fun day with all of the costumes that people wear.  We saw Spongebob bowling!!!

We headed to the hockey game later that day and again were humored by all the costumes.  We saw so many cool things:  the cast of Wizard of Oz, Captain America, Waldo, Jesus.  Plus, the game was so much fun!!!!

The next day was Preston's final baseball game of the season.  We're always excited when it's game day.  Preston's team finished the season with a win and then it was off to enjoy Craig's bday dessert-homemade apple pie (we did everything early).  My pie is Craig's favorite (it's a secret family recipe) and he enjoyed it hot with some vanilla ice cream.  Heaven!!!

Finally, that Sunday held one more early surprise for him.  Tickets to the NASCAR race!!  Yes, it seems redneck and yes, people say it's not fun to watch them drive in a circle for hours.  However, it's been on our bucket list for years.  Plus, it's only about a 15 minute drive from where we live!!!  On race weekends, we can actually hear the hum of the race cars from our house.

We arrived at Texas Motor Speedway a couple hours early to check out everything and eat some lunch.  All of the drivers were introduced and then we heard the revving of the engines.  Once they got the green flag, it was on (or "boogity, boogity, boogity" as they say in race lingo).  It was absolutely exciting to watch as those cars took off.  NASCAR fans are the real deal and you can bet they would tell you who they were rooting for and who they were not rooting for.  The end of the race was a nail biter (to NASCAR fans anyways) and it got exciting.  It was even more exciting after the race when the big fight broke out (Google it).

It was a fabulous weekend and Craig was so surprised by all of it.  I can't express my gratitude to some friends that helped us out with all the tickets.  His actual bday on December 6 was much more low key.  It started with breakfast in bed for him while watching Home Alone (we love to watch it during Christmastime).  Unfortunately, our dinner plans were scraped because I took Kaitlyn to Urgent Care and she was diagnosed with the flu (and later she had a positive throat culture for Strep).  We also had to cancel our date to The Nutcracker, but it was still a low-key day spent together.

Craig, hope your birthday was memorable and fun.  You deserved every single bit of it plus much more.  We love you and everything you do for us.  Enjoy this next decade with much more fun, trips, events, and making memories!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Time for another Kelley ThanksChristmasGiving.  The Kelley side of the family gathers together on Thanksgiving to celebrate the special holiday as well as Christmas.  It's always fun getting together to catch up, laugh, play games, and open gifts!

The youngest family members get gifts from everyone while the adults draw names.  Of course, the kids hit the jackpot with their gifts.

My in-laws also receive gifts from everyone.  We got my mother-in-law a Vera Bradley tote she has been wanting in her favorite pattern.  My father-in-law received a picture of Preston holding a picture of Craig holding a picture Granddad (my father-in-law's nickname).

Craig and I decided to make the gifts we had to give this year.  I drew my sister-in-law's name.  She is a very talented, artistic, and creative person.  So, I wanted to give her something creative that I knew she would appreciate.  My mom had given me a paper bag scrapbook for my birthday that I love.  I knew that was exactly what I wanted to make for my sister-in-law as well.

So, this is a very time consuming project, but well worth the time.  My mom came one weekend and showed me how to get it started.  Lots of tips and tricks!!!  When it is all finished, it's hard to even tell that the book is made from, paper bags, chipboard, and cardstock.  Pictures don't even begin to show all the little flaps, inserts, embellishments, etc.

Craig drew his nephew's name.  His nephew is extremely intelligent.  In fact, he is a rocket scientist.  What do you give to a rocket scientist as a gift?  Well, I will always remember him as my little ring bearer that I threatened to harm if he lost our rings before our wedding ceremony (LOL), so we wanted to stick with something fun.  Thanks to Pinterest, Craig decided to make a chess set for his nephew.

The playing pieces are made from various nuts and bolts.  Half of the pieces were spray painted with a rust color and then acrylic sealer.  Craig cut the squares out of long pieces of wood and stained half of them.  He then used wood glue to attach the wood to a cork board.  It looks fabulous!!!  Everyone loved it, even the rocket scientist!

Despite all the fun times with family, our 11 1/2 yr old sheltie, Princess, was not doing well.  She suffered her first seizure (to our knowledge) late Wed. night.  It was scary to watch, but I just held her and comforted her until it passed.  Then, it was off to the emergency vet clinic at 11 pm that told us she may have a brain tumor (not the most caring or friendliest place).  We were supposed to run a 5K Thanksgiving morning as a family, but we were on seizure watch.

Princess was able to come with us to our brother-in-law's house and spend Thanksgiving Day with us so we could keep a close eye on her.  She just seemed so tired all day.  The next day we took her to the vet and was told she had a severe bladder infection that could have caused the seizure.  Her blood work also showed she had some elevated liver and kidney functions.  After going home with lots of meds and special food, poor Princess was done.  She didn't eat, wouldn't take her meds, and eventually stopped drinking water.  Sunday was obviously the beginning of the end.  Princess was very disoriented and had trouble walking.  I stayed with her all of Sunday night to make sure she would be okay and try to rest and sleep.

Monday morning came and Craig said good bye and then the kids said good bye to her as they headed off to work and school.  Finally, it was off to the vet one more time.  We were given some options to try with her, but there was no guarantee she would get better.  Plus, she was an older dog so there was no telling how much life she really had left in her.  We had to make the dreaded decision.

I can't even begin to describe how hard it has been for us, especially me.  We had Princess before we even had kids.  She was close to Craig, but she was home with me all day.  We would walk out to the mailbox together, take naps together, and I felt safe having her around when I was alone or if Craig had to work late.  Princess will greatly be missed and I will never forget my last few moments with her.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One Husband's Journey: Part 3


His name is sufficient enough to form a least for me.

I can go on and on about how much I love him and all the good things about him.  You will not hear me talking bad about him or sharing his flaws.  But rather, I simply sing his praises because to me and two kids, he is our world.

To say Craig does a lot for our family is a huge understatement.  The list of things he does is endless from helping with cooking to chores to simply being a great example and provider.

This time last year, Craig took a step down in his job.  It was not a decision that came easily.  It was hard and painful.  But to see the love of your life walk around with a broken spirit, with his head no longer held high, and with the look of hurt constantly in his eyes was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through.  And there was nothing I could do to help him.

But pray.

There were no words of encouragement that I could give him.  There were not enough hugs that would comfort him.  I had to hand Craig and all his pain over to God and simply pray that answers would come and the hurt would go away.

And I let God take over.  He gave Craig a very clear answer and we knew we had to let the healing process begin.  As prideful as Craig is in his job and work ethic, he is even more prideful in his family.  No matter the cost, Craig has always been willing to put his family first.

So, with a great step of faith, Craig did what needed to be done.  He knew it would take a lot of trust by letting God take complete control, but God never failed us in this journey.

One year ago today, Craig made a huge sacrifice and chose his family over his career.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Family Pictures 2014

This year we decided to take family pictures in the fall instead of the spring.  Texas weather is so unpredictable in the fall and we were afraid it was going to be a really warm day.  Thankfully, a cold front had come in the night before our shoot.  So, the morning of our pictures was cool, cloudy and finally felt like fall.  Cortney at Memories Imagined Photography did another terrific job, as always.  We met at a little log cabin at a local park.  Here are some of our favorite pics.

The Suburban Kelley's

The Kids-when did they get so big?

The Obligatory 'Kissing' Pose-we have done this every time we take pictures.  And the kids pretty much do that every time we kiss.

Our photographer said we still look like newlyweds with the way we act and look at each other.  We will be going on 15 years of marriage in 2 months, so I will definitely take that compliment!!!  I hope that 'look' never goes away.

The Catalog Pose-this had us laughing so much.  Cortney is so great about letting us pose how we want and use our own ideas and props.  The one with the most ideas is usually Craig.  He wanted to bring some mugs and blankets and have us pose like this.  It was hilarious to do, but turned out so great!  On a side note, Craig was a catalog model when he was a kid.  :)

Thank you again, Cortney, for some fabulous memories!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Insecurity.  Lack of confidence.  To feel self-doubt.  It's one thing that people have in common, especially women.

It's not something that just happens to teenage girls going through puberty.  Adults feel it too.  It's so easy for us to feel insecure with our looks, bodies, what we wear, how we do things, whether or not we are a good mom.  When we compare ourselves to other women that seem like they have it altogether, more than likely, they are feeling insecure about something in their lives as well.  It's simply the enemy trying to steal our joy, trying to steal our peace.

Too many times, we let the enemy win.

Insecurity plagues me a lot.  Depending on the day, depends on what insecurity I have.  It's hard to feel like I don't fit in.  It's hard to feel like I'm not pretty enough or thin enough.  It's hard to not feel like I'm good enough.

But I am enough.  You are enough.  We all have been fearfully and wonderfully made by God and we are His beautiful creations.  Why does my faith lack so often that it's hard for me to remember this?

We are given the choice of free will.  We can believe the lies of the enemy and constantly go through each day like we are not good enough.  We're not good moms, we're not a good friend, or we're not a good wife.

Or we can believe God's Word and experience joy and peace that only He can give.  Don't let the enemy win anymore.

And believe, in everything we do and feel, that we are enough.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lesson Learned #5

I feel like a year has passed in just a few weeks!  It's been crazy and hectic and chaotic (they all mean the same thing, right?) and I have to make sure to catch my breath every now and then.

I've learned organization is wonderful!  I am definitely not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person.  I want things planned out.  I want to know my schedule ahead of time.  I don't want any surprises or unexpected distractions.  But during all the scheduling with everyone's activities, I make sure there is time for myself as well.

I've learned communication is key in EVERYTHING!!!  I can't stand it when people ask me about something I'm supposed to know, but in fact, don't have a clue what they are talking about.  That is so frustrating!!!  One reason my marriage has been so great is that we've always communicated with each other...the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We don't make any decisions without talking about it first.  That needs to be the same way in every relationship. Talk to people and don't leave them in the dark. If someone should know something that is factual or involves them, tell them.

I've learned nobody really wants to hear your opinions.  As much as it's important to communicate, your opinion is not always one of them, unless you're asked.  Too often has an opinion been stated to only cause anger in others.  So, I'm learning to just not give my opinion.  Better to keep it to myself than cause hurt feelings.

I've learned being a person of your word holds so much value.  It's not fair to those around you if you tell them one thing but then never stick to your word.  Making excuses all the time will lower people's trust in you.  They will no longer rely on you or even believe what you say.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

I've learned being unique is the greatest characteristic one can have.  I tell my kids all the time to be their own person, have their own thoughts, and don't always follow the crowd.  I don't ever want them to do things simply because other people are doing them.  I want them to do things because that is something they want to do.  The way they dress, act, things they listen to or watch (age appropriate)...I want them to make their own choices about these things.  And as much as I tell them these things, I need to apply it to myself as well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Music Classroom

My classroom got a makeover! I always have the hardest time decorating because of so many cute options. After scouring Pinterest and several sites for ideas, borrowing them, and using some of my own, I finally figured out what I wanted to do.

This is my monthly theme board. I will change it again next month. The sheep and cow are my hand puppets.

Musical notations and a custom made crayon wreath from a former student.

My giant dry erase board with monthly concepts. Can you tell yellow is our first color? The rolling cart is full of instruments and visuals that I take to all of the younger classes.

This is my monthly concept board for the Kindergarten class. Each month they learn about 2 different composers, 2 dynamic words, a character trait, and cultures from different parts of the world. The fun part for me is finding music to go along with all these concepts. The kids love it. Who knew they would enjoy Offenbach so much?

I have always loved using Zoo Pal plates as fun decor.  This year, the Kindergartners will get to use the crate seats that Craig made for me. It's hard to see in the pic but the fabric is covered in music notes.  Plus, the crates can be used to store the dry erase boards the students will use for their compositions.

My favorite part of the room is Imagination Station. This is where students can be creative through dramatic play. They can use different instruments, puppets, felt stories, large magnetic pieces, and lots of props. I am always on the lookout for different ideas to help fuel a child's creativity. 

I am so eager for the new school year to start. I cannot wait to see some old friends and make some new ones.