Thursday, December 27, 2007

Weird Christmas

This year was a weird Christmas for us. It was our second Christmas together since moving out to Tennessee, but also the second year we've spent away from family. Last year we went to a cabin out in the Tennessee mountains and it was more like a vacation, which kept us more or less distracted from what we were missing with our families back home. But we still managed to have a wonderful time - nothing but relaxation, hot-tubbing, reading and hanging out together. This year has been quite different. Don't get me wrong, we're still enjoying the time we have together, but we both really miss our families even more so and though spending our first Christmas in our new home has been really nice, it also feels really empty. I was fortunate to at least have had time with my family back in Seattle over Thanksgiving and then also with a visit from Kris a couple weeks ago, but I know Jason is really missing his family since the last time we saw them was in April over my birthday. I also think we're both just so worn out from working on the house so much, that by the time Christmas came around we really wanted nothing more than to veg out with some holiday movies and sleep. We just haven't felt the Christmas spirit like we have in the past. It felt like we were always one step behind this year, from not sending out Christmas cards, to having to overnight our gifts to our families, to not wrapping presents till the last minute - it just felt off this year. When we went shopping for each other, we were more interested in what we could get for the house rather than ourselves - it just seems to be more the pressing need than anything else. I guess we could have wrapped up the vanity mirror and drew straws for who got to unwrap it?? We did get each other a few things that we really wanted - Jason got me a purse and two pairs of new shoes. And I got Jason the We Are Marshall DVD, a Frank Sinatra CD, and a black watch from Fossil that Kris and I both picked out for him.
I'm a pretty big on traditions and with it just being the two of us and spending Christmas in our new home, I wanted to make it as special as possible. I had planned out a pretty big Christmas dinner, but still had a few things I needed for the recipes. We figured while we were out on Christmas Eve shopping we'd stop by the grocery store on our way home. Note to self - not a good idea to wait till Christmas Eve. Out here everything closes REAL early on Christmas Eve and is closed ALL day on Christmas. We drove to 4 different grocery stores and they had all closed by 6pm and wouldn't be open on Christmas either. I was getting so discouraged, I thought the least I could do for us was cook up a delicious Christmas dinner and now that was looking a bit bleak too. But Jason got up first thing Christmas morning in search of an international market, one where maybe an indian or mexican guy wouldn't celebrate the holidays and still have his store open - and sure enough he found one! An hour later he brought home what I needed and I cooked up a big Christmas dinner with pork tenderloin, baked sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade rolls and brown sugar carrots. I had unpacked the china Grandma Moreland had given us from our first Christmas and our wedding crystal and we were able to use it all for the first time, which was really fun.
We still managed to have a great Christmas and I even got a few Christmas puzzles, 2 of which we bought and 1 sent to us from Jerry & Sherry that's sure to keep me busy through the New Year!
We also drove out to Gallatin to see some really pretty lights out on a big farm that we had heard about. I took a few pictures so you could get an idea of how it looked. You literally drive through the entire farm under arbors, over bridges, around nativities over ponds. It was very cool. This is actually the view of the farm from the side as we were getting ready to head into the entrance.
They had this barn that was decorated like a house that was split in half and you drive straight through the middle of it - it was a trip!
Life-size nativity scene.

And this somewhat creepy snowman that comes up to your car to dance around and wave.

That's it for Christmas - I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday too!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

All Things Christmas

Here's our beautiful Christmas tree! Note the saw in front of the fireplace :-) It's red, so it matches the decorations. I took a few close-ups of different ornaments and the stockings - enjoy! And no tree would be complete without a Banks sleeping beneath it! Can you see her?
the mantle where the stockings are hung with careI love decorating the house for Christmas, everything is so cozy and sparkly.

And these are some of my favorite ornaments - like this ZZTop Santa I got last year.
And mine & Jason's First Christmas ornament my parents got me in 2005
And I've always loved this thick crackled glass red ornament that my mom gave me one year.
I got Mr & Mrs Snowman Ornaments this year at Old Time Pottery.
This year Jason and I have done a TON of baking as Christmas gifts. With the new house we've been a little more strapped with unexpected things to take care of, not to mention still trying to settle in. But the treats we've made have turned out so pretty and taste pretty good too if I do say so myself :-)
These would be Jason's hands reaching for the frosted sugar cookies. By far these are the prettiest sugar cookies I ever made. Now if only they survive the shipping! Kris celebrated her 25th birthday with us last weekend! We tried to make it a relaxing but enjoyable time for her. We took her to Opryland Hotel to see all the pretty lights and had a really nice dinner together at a fancy place in the hotel. We watched movies, ate junk food and I even attempted to make her a pumpkin cheesecake...yeah not so much. At least it looked nice for the picture. Isn't she cute blowing out her candles?
Happy Birthday Kris-tin!

Soon I'll post some really cute Christmas cards we've received! Christmas is just in 4 days y'all!!


My friend Alicia texted me a short time ago with this:

"CNN says Eric was freed!!!"

I went online and this is what it says!

Family: American finally freed in Nicaragua

"MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNN) -- An American man held in a Nicaraguan jail was released Friday, four days after a court overturned his conviction on charges of murdering his former girlfriend, his family told CNN.

A mix-up kept Eric Volz, 28, of Nashville, Tennessee, in custody after an appeals court reversed the ruling that found him guilty of the 2005 death of Doris Jimenez.

Thursday night, a Nicaraguan appeals court in Granada cleared up the confusion and signed release papers for Volz, said Maria Jose Oviedo, assistant to one of the judges on the court.

Once the documents were processed by the police hospital in Managua -- where Volz was undergoing treatment for a variety of ailments -- he was set free under Nicaraguan law, a court official said.

The release came despite a prosecutors' decision to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Magistrate judges in the appeals court in Nicaragua have up to 10 days to review the request for appeal. Watch how Volz was convicted »

The delay began after the Managua judge who sentenced Volz to 30 years in prison stalled over court documents, said Volz' attorney.

Attorney Fabbrith Gomez said the judge, Ivette Toruno Blanco, claimed the documents were incorrectly numbered and that she had returned them to Granada.

Magistrates in Granada spent the rest of the week trying to figure out the whereabouts of Volz's case file.

Once the files were found, the appeals court judges "stayed up late" Thursday night working on the paperwork for release, Oviedo said.

The order was delivered to the hospital in Managua, a city about 30 miles away from Granada, Friday.

Volz was convicted in 2006 of raping and killing Doris Ivanez Jimenez.

Ten witnesses in the case testified or gave affidavits swearing that he was in his office in Managua, two hours away from the town where Jimenez was killed, at the time of her slaying. He founded and served as publisher of EP (El Puente) magazine.

But one man testified that he had seen Volz in the town, San Juan del Sur, just after the time police believe Jimenez was killed.

That man, Nelson Danglas, was originally arrested in the slaying but received full immunity in exchange for his testimony against Volz. No physical evidence from the scene linked Volz to the slaying.

In addition to Volz, the same court convicted another man, Julio Chamorro, of the murder, although investigators never connected him with Volz."
Now's let's pray that he makes it safely home with his mom back to Nashville!!
God is big!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Call To Prayer!!

Many of you might remember a post I dedicated last year to Eric Volz's unjust imprisonment. It turns out that yesterday the Appelatte Court finally made their decision to rule that Eric Volz is innocent!

It's a HUGE answer to prayer!

He has been in prison for over a year now and was originally sentenced to 30 years by Judge Ivette Toruno, after she threw out all the evidence and the testimonies of over 10 witnesses. He was found guilty for a murder he did not commit. It was believed by his family and many others that the Judge made the ruling as a result of fearing for her life. During the trial, there was riots outside the courthouse demanding his life for justice and death threats to the Judge herself. Here we are over a year later and the Appelatte Court has finally came to their decision and ordered that he be released, but the Judge who originally convicted him has to sign the papers in order for him to be physically released from jail.

She refuses to sign the papers and has told her staff not to bother her with this!!!

So Eric remains in prision and the Judge is being held in contempt of court! This is an outrage! She must obviously fear for her life. The reason why this case is such a huge burden of mine, is because he is a cousin to my dear friend Alicia here in Nashville. I have watched her go through the fire this year and the toll its taken on her and her family. God is huge and has answered a massive prayer that seemed impossible. Now I ask all of you to PLEASE stand with us in prayer for Eric's safety. As the Judge delays his release with her refusing to sign his release papers, the intensity of the Nicaruaguan people's anger grows. The media is encouraging the Nicaruagan people to take justice into their own hands!! He needs to be released in safety as soon as possible so he can get home to his family here in Nashville! Please pray with us!

The Today Show interviewed Eric's mom Maggie this morning on the situation, and you can watch it by clicking here.

For the full story on Eric's unjust conviction to a Nicaruaguan prison, you can watch his video here:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Evil Look

I'm not feeling all that great, I seemed to have caught a nasty cold that's circulating the office. I just got back from Walgreens all stocked up on Puffs tissue, honey for my tea, airborne lozenges, Shower Soothers (which I'm a HUGE fan of) and chocolate. (Rachel, you put one of these bad boys in your shower so the water falls on it, and it releases a menthol vapor that allows you to breathe and opens up your sinsus'. I absolutely love the Vanilla Mint scent and I swear these things are the greatest thing ever!!) The chocolate is for the "starve a fever, feed a cold" advice :-) So I'm feeding my cold.

It's so hard to focus at work, when you don't feel well and all you can think about is Christmas shopping, baking Christmas cookies, warm fires, hot cocoa and a good book. I've got all my lists typed up of what I plan to bake, buy and wrap. Now I just need the time to do it all.

I've included a video that Angela a friend of mine from work sent me - I laugh so hard every time I watch it.

Kristin is getting on a plane this afternoon to make her way out to Nashville. I've got a fun weekend planned of relaxation, yummy food and holiday stuff. Monday she turns 25!! So its sort of a Christmas-Happy-Birthday-Kris-Weekend! I can't wait till she gets here...well actually I can, I still have to clean the floors and make up her room. I'll get some pics from the weekend to post next week.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Reason to Smile

Whoohoo!!! This puts a big ol grin on my face. I grew up on Indiana Jones and have seen the movies TONS of times throughout the years.

Can't WAIT to see this one!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kelly Clarkson!

I believe I married the absolute best man out there! Jason is everything I have ever dreamed of in a best friend and husband - he's so smart, passionate about life and music, big on communicating, has a crazy sense of humor, absolutely gorgeous and remains so positive in some of the most trying circumstances. I'm so grateful to the Lord for blessing me with such an amazing man. Over the weekend we were able to accomplish quite a bit more on the house, which was so nice. Jason had told me that he had Monday night off and didn't want me to stress about working on the house, but instead have a date night with him. He asked me to think about where I wanted to go to dinner and then maybe go out to a movie with him afterwards. So all day Monday, I was asking various people at work which restaurant they would recommend we try. I was so excited to have a date night with him where we just enjoy each other's company. Monday afternoon rolls around and I'm sitting at my computer busily working away when I glance up to see him standing there with a big ol grin on his face. It took me completely by surprise, and he asked if I wanted to go grab a cup of coffee with him. Absolutely! So we head down to Starbucks and and talk until the meter on his truck outside runs out. He offered to walk me back to my desk and I wanted to give him the piece of cake that Mary, our Office Manager had saved just for him. When I came back to the elevators on our floor with the cake in hand, he handed me some tickets. "What is this?", I ask him. I'm trying hard to read the words, but all I see is "Kelly Clarkson" and I can't seem to decipher anything else on the tickets. I asked him - "Is this for tonight??!? Is this for her concert?" I started squealing and jumping up and down. I couldn't believe it! Months ago I had bought tickets the minute they came on sale when she was scheduled to perform at the Sommet Center downtown. I had 4th row seats in the center on the floor and was so pumped. Then she cancelled her tour and rescheduled for a night at the Ryman. I missed when the tickets went on sale and they sold out that day. I was so upset. While we were in Seattle for Thanksgiving, my friend Brooke calls to tell me that she's happened to come across tickets that she bought off a friend of hers. I was so happy for her, but so bummed that I wasn't able to see Kelly at all. I would have to say, she is hands down my favorite artist. Turns out throughout all the agonizing of mine, Jason quietly just listened while holding on to tickets he had bought off a friend of his OVER 2 MONTHS AGO! How on earth was he able to keep a secret like that for so long???? Amazing! His friend Jason Mush that he works at Mortons with sold him the tickets and ended up buying another set on Ebay, in which he took his friend Mandy with him. It was seriously the best surprise and I'm so blessed by my thoughtful and amazing husband. Thank you baby, I love you!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Thanksgiving Trip to Seattle

So Thanksgiving was a lot of fun and we managed to pack in as much as we could possibly handle in 6 days time. Unfortunately I wasn't taking pictures the entire time, but more relied on my little sister to handle the photo responsibilities.

But what I do have, I thought I'd go ahead and post according by which day we were there.

Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day turned out just like I had hoped it would be! We first awoke to mom gobbling through the house "flying the turkey"! It's a little family tradition of ours and the perfect way to start the day. Then we headed to the living room to watch was left of the Macy's parade and eat gooey cinnamon rolls. The rest of the day was spent working on a puzzle that Jerry & Sherry had bought us for the holidays... and eating, eating and more eating! Mom made a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with a new addition that I absolutely loved, baked sweet potatoes!! Yum! Everything about the day was so relaxing and fun, and it felt so great to be home for yet another Thanksgiving. And Dad finally had another man around to play Chess, Scrabble and answer Trivia Pursuit questions. You know I have to mention that Jason beat Dad at every game they played, because after all these years when Dad constantly would win at those games and gloat about it - he finally got what was coming to him :-) ha!

On Friday night, Dad treated us all out to an amazing dinner at Salty's on Alki. The sky was crystal clear, giving us an incredible view of downtown Seattle beneath a full moon. It couldn't have been more beautiful. And the food was so good. Jason and I were so full just after those two days that we didn't have much of an appetite for the rest of our trip! But what else are the holidays for but to spend time with friends and family and stuff yourselves silly!
This is what Dad looks like after a full long day with all his Kelly girls :-) Hee hee....Saturday
Saturday was a total blast and filled with lots of fun things; like a carousel ride downtown, warm Starbucks coffee, a yummy Cheesecake Factory lunch, seeing "Enchanted" the movie and spending some much needed, warm-fuzzy company with our dear friends Roy & Loree Rowland and the Frees family. It was so much fun, I wished it wouldn't have gone by so fast! We hope to get together again in the near future for maybe a few days away by a lake out here in Tennessee - wouldn't that be fun?! I was a total dummy and didn't take any pictures that day, so I had to "borrow" some pictures that Loree had taken (which by the way, she did a great job!)
On the Sunday night we were there, I was able to get together with some friends of mine and finally catch up on life. The ironic thing was - almost every single one of them was pregnant, well except for the guys and my dear Katie King. I'm thinking there must be something in the water out there. I was sad that Tom & Katie Hallstrom were unable to be back in town in time, since after all it was hosted at their house. But we knew they were there in spirit with us! I got some great pics with my friends and I'm so glad they were able to be there - I have missed them all so much! Plus with Jason joining me in Seattle this time, it was a great opportunity for them to get to know him better. Everyone brought really yummy desserts to much on and we just sat around the table laughing at different stories. Here's Katie King & I giving big squeezes!
Vanessa & Josh Curtis surrounded by all the sugary-goodness. I was so glad they were able to make it. Pregnancy hasn't been easy on her so far, and I'm praying she starts to feel a little better soon.
Aaron & Heidi Powell - check out her cute baby bump! I can't believe Aarons' gonna be a dad to a little boy!
Josiah & Karlee Blake - also expecting sometime early next summer. These two got some great genes, cause they're daughter Jordyn (below) is absolutely adorable!!
Miss Jordyn Blake. So stinkin cute.
My Nessa Roo :-) And no, I'm not pregnant - its just an unflattering angle.

Monday evening we were able to catch up with Chris Ross over coffee at Starbucks. It was the only day it rained while we were there and I absolutely loved it. The rain is so different back home than it is here, and I didn't realize how much I had missed it. It really did put a big smile on my face.

After we caught up with Chris, we then headed over to our friends Deb & Erik Nielsen's house for dinner. I hadn't seen them since they came out to Nashville earlier this year. And it was so good to hang out and enjoy some of Deb's delicious enchiladas. And Emily is getting so big! Its amazing how fast time flies and what all changes when you've been away for a while.

Then finally on Tuesday, we headed back to Nashville - to our very own home. We definitely needed that week away to get rejuvenated before starting again on the house and work on all our unpacking. But it gave us the rest we needed to get back into the swing of things here at home.
We felt very much loved while we were there and will miss you all until our next visit!

Happy Holidays!

The Keiths