Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas, From the Rackley Clan!

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The Lord has really blessed us with a great year of learning – primarily about His gracious gift of peace.

We started the year with Chris’ last semester of grad school – he took on 12 grad credits, along with his regular 50 hours a week job at the Worthwhile Company, with the hopes of graduating in May. Thanks to some gallbladder issues, an emergency surgery, and a 5 day hospital stay, that graduation date got pushed back a tad. (Talk about needing peace!!) But we were all happy to celebrate in August when that diploma finally arrived!  Having him “back” and his not having to rush off to do homework or study every night has been such a blessing – almost like he’s on vacation all the time!  He’s still enjoying his job as an Information Architect (basically, designing the blueprint of clients’ websites).

Kami turned 2 in March. She’s just as much of a girly-girl as her older sister. She loves to wear a donut pillow around her waist (her tutu!) and play ballerina. She’s also quite good with our iPhones and iPad (“Daddy’s big phone”) – over 80% of the apps on our apple devices are for the girls! She is very very curious. And, naturally, thinks Curious George is the best monkey ever!

She loves to cook with me in the kitchen and eat. Everything. She’s only an inch shorter than Chloe (who is over twice her age), so she can do pretty much anything her big sis can do.

Kami’s favorite things to do are play with her dollhouse, go swimming, and eat snacks. Her favorite restaurant is Chik-fil-A and her favorite place is the park. :)

Chloe is our new 5 year old as of the end of October. She started K-4 this year right in our extra bedroom, “the school room”, and is loving it! She’s learned how to read some small short vowel words and thinks she’s pretty smart. :) She thinks so much differently than other kids her age – and she shares everything she is thinking with all of us.  This makes her such a joy to have around.

She’s learning so much about God’s grace, in her own way, she is such a rebuke to me. She has a tender heart for the needs of others – she’s always trying to take food to our neighbors “because they might be hungry, mommy!” – and she is always seeking to make others happy. It’s easy for her to get animated about things that go wrong, or against her plan, though, so learning about peace has been a big theme for us around our house.

Chloe’s just finished her first year of violin lessons and has had 4 recitals already! She loves playing – and even practicing – most of the time – for which I’m really thankful.

Her favorite things to do are play Sesame Street games on my computer, play dress-up and pretend, and color pictures for her friends. Her favorite restaurant is Chik-fil-A. Her favorite place is “Tennessee – because that’s where Dollywood lives.”

Chris and I celebrated our 7th anniversary this August. We’ve learned so much about each other – and I love that guy so much more than I ever have.

I’ve kept busy with cooking, cleaning, picking up toys…you know the usual mommy stuff. :) I’ve had a few catering opportunities that have come up throughout the year that I’ve really enjoyed.  (There’s nothing like getting paid to cook!)

God has really taught me about what His peace is – especially through the loss of my dear sweet Grandma. She taught me so much about hospitality, sewing, loving my husband, and just enjoying my girls. Not having her around to send a Christmas card too, or to call and say hey, has been really tough for me this year. But again, God’s peace has been persistent in my heart.

I also got to run my first half marathon this year! Boy was that a challenge – but a blast. I loved having my family all around me cheering me on!

This Christmas we have the opportunity to cook for a Christmas Dinner at our church in West Virginia. We are so excited to be used in this way! It’s been our dream to take our family on a ‘real’ ministry-focused trip, and although it will be short, we are thrilled to see it finally happen! Chloe’s all ready to set tables and Kami….well….she’ll be a great taste-tester. :)

To all of you, so many of you have been such a blessing to us this year at church, online, or just through your smiles and comments.  God has blessed our family in so many ways – we’re just thrilled to be able to put a smile on some of your faces throughout the year.

As a thank you to you for your encouragement to us – and a reminder of what God has given us – here’s a little song Chloe prepared for you all this year. Merry Christmas everyone, and may God bless you and your families in a very special way this Christmas!

Merry Christmas, from the Rackley clan!

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Oh do we have something special for you!

You’ll be able to view our special “live” Christmas greeting right here on Thursday, December 22nd at 9 PM.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and an especially Happy New Year!

Love to all of you, because of our Savior’s unconditional love for us,

Chris, Kim, Chloe, and Kamryn Rackley

Things you hear when you’re directing a (large) wedding…

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…it was my first wedding as an ‘official’ wedding director for my church. I’ve catered a wedding for 300; I’ve played the piano for quite a few others; but I’ve only directed a couple in the past – and none in the last 6 years or so. 

“I have 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, a 10 person orchestra, a 12 person choir, 3 flower girls, 2 ringbearers, and 2 preachers.” Said the bride.

Hmmm…that’s 51 people on the stage at one time. Well, why not jump in with both feet, then, right?

“My maid of honor had her mom call to say she isn’t coming.” Said the bride.

“Can you tell me where I’m staying this weekend? I’d like to contact the family and let them know when I’ll be coming in.” Said one of the college-student groomsmen.

“Do you know where my dad went?” Said the bride. An hour before the ceremony begins.

As it turns out…noone knew where he went.

“Umm…can you come see this? One of the girls has been here for 30 minutes trying to get into her dress.” Said the pianist noticing that bridesmaids haven’t left for photos yet.

“Hey! I’m so glad to see you! I think my zipper is broken.” Said the bridesmaid. As four other bridesmaids were trying to fix it – and not getting their photos taken either. I dug out my box of safety pins and double sided tape.

“So, when I get home, my mom has to CUT me out of my dress?” Said the bridesmaid (see above) after I had sewn her into her dress.

“Where IS (that vocalist)! I need her NOW!” Said the father of the bride.

Hmmm…she was told to be ready at 6:00. It’s 5:55. She’s putting on her shoes now. She’ll be out soon.

“Six O’Clock? Who tells them these times?”

Hmmm…I did, sir. Remember, that’s why you’re paying me.

“Oh yeah. Sorry.”

:)

“I totally forgot to pass out these thank you cards. Would you mind doing it for me?” Said the sweet mother of the bride, with a bag full of 60 cards – you know for people I’ve never met.

“I got a call from Chris, you know, the other usher. He can’t make it.” Said one of my awesome ushers when the prelude began.

“Is there NO way I can hear any of this awesome music my dad put together for the prelude?” Said the bride, and I had to tell her no. :(

“Do you know where I parked my car?”

“I have to walk out there all by myself?”

“You can go with me, right?” Said a random guest who (apparently) needed an escort outside.

“Wait. Can you help me find my car?” Said the same random guest 7 minutes later, who is walking around in the parking lot hitting the unlock button on her car key’s remote.

“And the horse-drawn carriage should be arriving……now.” Said me, as I snapped my fingers in the air like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. And just then it arrived.

Hmmmm….(I looked at my fingers)….I wonder if that works on cleaning my girls’ rooms.

“I set my purse down and now i can’t find it. It’s a super tiny black one. The bride said you were the one to ask.” Said another random guest.

“Do you know where the car keys are?” Asked the sweet bridesmaid who was packing up the carriage for the bride and groom.

“Wasn’t there a marriage license or something I should have signed?” Said the preacher.

“Will you ever do another one?” A friend said on facebook later that night. Much later. When I got home.

 

Definitely I will. That was a blast.

Cute Christmas Gift for the Grandma you know….no peeking, Granny or Nana!

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here.

Here’s our adventure with this one. Enjoy the pictures!

First – gather your supplies – outdoor paint (Hobby Lobby, $1.20 a bottle); a door mat  (Wal-Mart, $6.97); some newspaper ($1/week); and some feet (umm…the cost of these feet is too astronomical to list here.  If you don’t have any kids, just take a wild guess, then add a few zeros.)  Other helpful things are tape to mark off the outside edge, and a stencil.

White paint on feet + feet on mat = cute little snowman bodies.

Now for the Christmas Trees – green paint is nice for this one.

Hands seem to be nice to have around, too.

Put down those painted hands twice and you’ll get a Christmas Tree!

Add a 2 year old to the mix…and things really get fun.

Here’s where the stencil came in handy.

Then I added a few embellishments to the snowmen bodies – a scarf, a little hat, some buttons, and a few red ornaments and a star to the Christmas Trees.

And so there you have it. We made two of them for the two grandmas in our life. We should have done 3. I really want one. :)

Planning our live Christmas Card…

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It’s become a new little tradition for our friends and family…through all our travels and odd medical “emergencies” – we have so many friends and family all over the country, and world really, that have upheld our little family in prayer over the past several years. As a way of saying thanks, we try to put together something special for them every Christmas.

While working on this year’s Live Christmas Card…I had to take a look back at last year’s…

And thought some of you (umm….Granny and Nana) might enjoy doing the same.

Stay tuned – 2011′s Christmas Card is coming very soon. :)

Frugal-er Cranberry Christmas Centerpieces

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I had the sheer excitement of cooking breakfast for 40 college kids yesterday. Boy – is that fun. Because, not only are they super grateful for food they didn’t have to cook themselves in a hotpot, but they’ll eat it – wether it’s good or not. And they eat it so fast, if it were bad, they wouldn’t remember. :)  It’s the ultimate confidence booster for a cook, for sure.

I didn’t have much time to set up a nice table display like I wanted – they were pretty much hovering around the table of food like kids around the birthday girl at present-opening time.

I did manage to put together a little centerpiece though for my strawberry muffin platter….and it was pretty inexpensive too, because of a little trick I learned somewhere online – and, actually, believe-it-or-not, it wasn’t pinterest.

It starts with something as simple as a paper towel roll (or a toilet paper roll). And a little bit of paper – scrap works fine. You’re gonna stuff your paper towel roll with it so nothing falls inside!

Then you’ll need a few other things: A glass jar or vase, one bag of cranberries, and your paper towel roll.

Go ahead and cut that roll down to the size of your vase – so it comes right to the top – and put it in your vase.

Now you have a cheap-o piece of cardboard taking up all that space…instead of an extra bag of cranberries! (Or whatever other filler you’re using.)

I didn’t even use a whole bag to fill up this vase!

At this point, the possibilities are endless! If you stuffed your roll with paper, then you could put a few cranberries on top, then put a votive candle on top of that! Or you could put together a pretty little flower arrangement.

And no one will ever know you have a big paper towel roll in there! :)

Here’s a couple of other arrangement ideas I saw online that this idea could work for – and you can make them with less of your expensive filler – but they’d still look just as beautiful!

You could use all sorts of things in your vases – jelly beans at Easter, Christmas M&M’s for a kids party…

Think of the money this could save for an entire wedding reception!

Happy Christmas Decorating!

To my fellow stay at home mom friends…

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I know that I’m buried under wrapping paper, trying to stay on top of everything I want to do with my girls this Christmas season, and  mopping the floors that are covered in glue from our latest project…and my phone is ringing off the hook with things that others need me to do….

This made me smile today.

May you all be encouraged to stay faithful in serving your God by serving your families.

Stay at Home Moms

by Jennifer Johnson

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a Cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door. He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls. As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, ‘What happened here today?’ She again smiled and answered, ‘You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world do I do all day?’ ‘Yes,’ was his incredulous reply. She answered, ‘Well, today I didn’t do it.’

Blessing Rolls!

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Thanks to one of my new favorite bloggers, How does she?, we had a lot of fun around the dinner table this Thanksgiving. I debated posting these, seeing as Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is barreling at us so quickly, but I think these are definitely appropriate for Christmas, Advent, and any other holidays you might be celebrating this December.

I made some yummy yeast rolls, but instead of my normal yeast roll recipe, I ventured a little and went for some buttery crescent rolls.  With a little surprise inside each one.

About a week before Thanksgiving, I had all of our guests send me a list of 5 things they were thankful for. Thanks to our Thankful Tree we did every day in November, I had quite a list for our little family.

A couple of things from our Thankful Tree list...

 

The dough made enough for 4 dozen rolls. I had to make them in four small circles...you can see one of them in the background.

 

Once I cut up my circles into little triangles, I was ready to start rolling in my thankful notes. However, when I do them again, I think I'll modify the original instructions, and lay them lengthwise along the widest part of the triangle - instead of wrapping them all the way inside like they were. They were a little difficult for my little ones to pull out sometimes.

 

 

Everyone enjoyed playing the game - even my lovely Mother and Father in love. :)

 

Thanks to the South, we can play outside after dinner. Without jackets.

 

How could one not be thankful on a day like this?

 

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Again, if you want the original recipe, check out the Delicious Dinner Rolls at How Does She?  Have fun with these! I think you could use them for a birthday dinner (what do we like about the birthday girl?), Christmas dinner (What are your favorite Christmas memories/stories/blessings, etc.?), Valentine’s Day (what do you love about your family?)….