Sunday, December 26, 2010

That's what friends are for...

We always like to do a little Christmas celebration with our good friends, the Libbys. We had them over for dinner a couple nights before Christmas.

Allie loves her Uncle Russell.

I guess all the kids love him!!

We had the kids get in their pajamas and I gave them tickets for the "Honda Pilot Express". We headed over to a popular spot in town to check out Christmas lights. It's just a normal neighborhood that every year goes all-out in their light display.

Who knew way back when Connie and became friends in high school as we sang in a singing group and cheered on the cheerleading squad together, that years later we'd get the blessing of sharing such a family friendship? God knew and I am so thankful for such a gift. It's truly priceless.

And I don't know whose idea this was, but there ya have it!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Rowzee Christmas

My kids are "nestled all snug in their beds" on this Christmas night. We've had such a wonderful holiday! Once we got through a very rough first few days of Christmas vacation, we settled into a happy rhythm of enjoying the holiday. We sure had a tough go of it as Avery tried to adjust to being off of school. Wow. But it got much better and then it was Christmas Eve!

I kinda wanted to skip it, but decided it was worth the mess and we got our Christmas cookies done. We hardly ate any, but you just have to have the memory of making them together.

The Rowzee girls at our best.

Ok, maybe this is a little better...

Christmas morning! I remember every Christmas morning, waiting at the top of the stairs while my Dad video taped us "patiently" waiting to be allowed to come down. Such happy times!

What a great dad! Rich kept us all at the top of the stairs before they came down and read to us the Christmas story. I admit I even squawked a bit when he started with the birth of John the Baptist. He gingerly pointed out my teenager-like behavior: even I didn't have the patience to sit for more than one chapter! The girls were troopers and sat fairly still and listened well.

Allie and Avery had each picked out a present for their sister. Allie received a play-dough set from Avery.

Allie picked out a pillow-pet for Avery. They both loved their present from their sister!

"Thanks for my present, Sis!" I promise that's not a headlock - it's a hug:)
We had such a wonderful Christmas. For a change, we were home all day on Christmas, having celebrated a week before with Rich's parents and on Christmas Eve with my family. We had all day to test out the presents and enjoy being together. I was really happy to have my parents and sister come for the afternoon and have dinner with us.
However, we heard early in the morning that a dear, sweet gal from church went to be with the Lord this Christmas day. Needless to say, I baked my pie with a heavy heart and prayed throughout the day for so many people I know who had a very difficult Christmas day. Beth Bartruff was an incredible woman of God and I can think of nothing more amazing than knowing she's in her perfect, heavenly body with her Savior right now.
Man, what a reminder this year of just how fragile life is and how much I DON'T want my life to be about my possessions. The moment Beth left her earthly body, anything she ever owned on earth became meaningless, besides what brought her closer to her Savior as she walked closely with Him. May we be captivated by Christ more every day and I pray that "the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

Monday, December 20, 2010


I grew up singing in a children's Christmas musical just about every year. For the last 8 years that we've been at our church, Salem Heights Church, I've watched the wonderful kids' musicals around the holidays and dreaming of seeing my own child on the stage, singing her heart out. I couldn't believe this was the year! It became more than just that, though. It became a family affair. I agreed to help my good friend, Wendy, direct the program this year. So we began rehearsals in October and I had so much fun that I don't think Wendy's going to get rid of me, even if she wanted to! Rich has become quite skilled in our church's lighting system, so he took on the job for the event. Allie provided for entertainment and extra bathroom breaks for me, since she just tagged along the whole time.
There's something about a kids' choir. I watched the audience during the first performance on the first song and watched the smiles grow wide the moment those kids opened their mouths. It's something you don't hear every day: 40 or so kids singing their little hearts out. And the best part is: people will listen. They don't feel intimidated or "pointed at" by sweet, cute little kids. We sang to three packed-out audiences and brought down the house every time! I was busy during all the performances, so I didn't get any pictures of them on the stage, but here are a few pictures of Avery and her friends before the show.
Hailey and Avery

Hailey's in a "Rowzee Sandwich"!

Now doesn't this just melt your heart? Our sweet friend and next door neighbor, Esabella, and her brother both sang in the program. We're SO GLAD to have them at church with us now!

And this would be Allie and a couple of her buddies before the peewee choir went on. I haven't read it, but I'm sure it's in the "Four Year Old Handbook" to be as uncooperative as possible when your mom really wants a picture. At least Allie's translation has it...

God was amazing with what He enabled us to pull off this year. The kids were awesome and the message of salvation was so clear! Can't wait for next year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A New Kind of Christmas

As soon as my kids were old enough to understand the concept of receiving presents, I approached every Christmas with the plan to keep the amount of presents to a reasonable amount. It somehow always seems to grow a bit out of control, though! What parent doesn't love to buy gifts for their children? The result was a bit sickening. My kids get to the end of Christmas day and don't even care what's in the box, they just think there's more presents coming and they're entitled to anything left under the tree. That attitude is so far from the one I want Christmas to encourage in my daughters; the attitude I know Christ wants to see in them as a result of His miraculous birth so many years ago.
So, not only did we scale WAY back this year, but we decided to focus on someone else for a change. I suggested to my sisters-in-law on Rich's side that maybe we should sponsor a needy family or something instead of buying presents for the nieces and nephew. It was decided that we would all three families look on our own for a family to sponsor, buy presents and other needed items, and document the experience to share with one another. I don't know what else I expected, but God has already done amazing things through our endeavors. My sister-in-law in the Chicago area shares that after buying a few toys for "Toys for Tots", she stumbled upon a coworker in a great need this Christmas. She got help from others and they are putting together clothes and presents for this coworker and her daughter. This sister-in-law is bursting with joy! How much more exciting than simply adding another present under the tree for our very privileged children? Not to mention a wonderful teaching experience for our kids that will last much longer in their memories than any toy we could buy them.
So our family decided to inquire with Avery's school counselor about perhaps helping a needy family within our school. We went shopping as a family to pick out presents and then wrapped them together.

We delivered these gifts to school, along with a bag of groceries and it felt so good! Of course, I couldn't pass up a chance to share the love of my Savior and wish the family the peace of knowing Christ in a cute little Christmas card :) James 2:15 says, "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" I hope this is just the beginning of my children learning to put feet to their faith, and I pray that the family we were able to bless this year would be much more touched by the love of a Savior, than a few simple gifts at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few years ago I was having lunch at a friend's house and she had these delicious cookies for desert. I made sure I left with the recipe! There is something great about these cookies. They always turn out soft, even if they're overcooked a little. I freeze them in balls on a sheet for a couple of hours, then pop them in a freezer bag to pull out in a hurry to bake. I also bake some and freeze them in packs of one or two to pull out for school/work lunches. The peanut butter flavor is pretty mild, in case you're not a huge peanut butter fan. I am, though, and I love them! I had a couple people ask for the recipe, so I thought I'd post it.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
additional sugar

Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add it to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll into 1 inch balls; roll in additional sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes, or until golden brown.

Again, I freeze them once cooled, and also in balls before I bake. Of course I bake a few to eat immediately, too! I usually make 3 batches at a time. The longest part of the process is just rolling the balls in sugar - but it's worth it! Please leave a comment if you end up making them and tell me what you think!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Merry Halloween!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but today Halloween is on my mind. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Some of my best childhood memories are of dressing up and trick-or-treating with all the neighbors for what seemed like hours. So, as a mom, I have so much fun with my kids on Halloween. This year, Avery was a kitty cat. When I continued to ask Allie what she wanted to be, she finally decided on The Cat in the Hat. Perfect description of my daughters: Avery wants the be the authentic, pretty kitty and Allie wants to be the silly, cartoon version.
I had a ton of fun painting Avery's face this year. What a cute kitty!
Here's my little Dr. Seuss kitty. She looked adorable, but that silly hat wouldn't stay on!!

I couldn't bear to let my "honorary" niece and nephew, Hailey and Ethan, spend Halloween at church in the childcare while their parents went to small group, so they trick-or-treated with us. It was much more fun with them along!! We added a "China girl" and a "skateboarder" to our family for the night.
Our neighborhood just isn't the best on Halloween, so we went to a friend's neighborhood and had such a great time! The girls were worn out on the very short drive home. Allie's face paint was looking pretty scary by the end of the night!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life Abundant

With Thanksgiving approaching, I can't help but document just how thankful I am at this moment in time. The thing about being thankful is that it gets your mind off of discontentment. If you're thankful, you can't be discontent. Colossians 3:15 says, "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts...and be thankful." It's quite clear that God's peace comes when we're thankful. Paul talks in Philippians 4:11 of being content whatever the circumstances. He had learned the art of pure thankfulness - no matter what.

There are moments in life that are easier than others to find things for which to be thankful. I'm in one of those moments. Our heat was broken for a few days. Oh my, was it COLD!! I'm convinced God just wanted to stir me up a bit and remind me that nothing in the world is guaranteed - not even my warmth. It got fixed right before the freezing cold moved into the Willamette Valley. Thank you, Lord!!!

My family is healthy, my husband is still enamored with me after 10 1/2 years, my daughters' friendship is blossoming, and we're surrounded by family and friends who love us. These are just a few reasons why life is good. However, there are so many more things to be thankful for.

I'm saved! I did nothing to deserve the peace I have in knowing my Savior. I have recently had the amazing opportunity to see a friend come to a saving knowledge of Christ. This is a friend I've prayed for for over 3 years and have worked so hard to maintain a relationship with, though we often saw things very differently. Of course we did! I had a Biblical perspective on life; she had a worldly one. But over the last year or so, she began to change. Before my eyes, I saw her soften and begin to listen to the Spirit calling her to Himself. Then, one day out of the blue, she told me she and her kids would like to come to church with me. Then we began to study the book of John together, just the two of us. During the second lesson, she began to realize that she was still part of "the world" and didn't want to be anymore. She had been striving so hard for the approval of people (and we all know how successful that can be) and admitted that happiness had eluded her. So, while we held hands and I listened, she spoke to the Lord and gave her life to the One who had given His life for her. I was shaking out of shock and joy! And in the last 3 weeks since her rebirth in Christ, we have had conversations that we never could have before. We are truly sisters in Christ and it is apparent to me that her faith is real.

As a result of this amazing experience with my friend, I have seen God's Word in a whole new way. As I study, I look through her eyes and am blown away with the beauty of His truth and the power of a transformed life. I can't believe the awesome privilege of getting to be a part of her experience with the Lord. Not only did I get to plant seeds, but I got to be a part of the harvest and now the discipleship.

So at this moment in time, I just can't help being thankful for the simple things. I'm saved, Jesus loves me - flaws and all, my children are learning of Him, my husband is walking with the Lord, and our house is HEATED! Thank you, Lord, for giving me abundantly more than I could ask or think.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This morning I found Avery trying to tie some Duplo blocks below her shoes to add some height. She was getting pretty upset that it wasn't working. I told her that even if she could get it to work, I wouldn't let her wear them to school. Avery continued to be upset and said she wanted to be taller at school. We continued to discuss the fact that there is only one other kid in her class that's small like her.

I'm sorry, Avery. There is no avoiding your genes. I was the smallest in my class, too. I had a friend from Laos named Vilavonne. I'll never forget her! She and I were smaller than all the rest. Everyone wanted to show that they could pick us up and carry us around.

Avery, just embrace it. There is absolutely nothing you can do about your height, except perhaps putting on some platforms. Preferably not made of Duplos. Although, we might be looking at a new fashion statement...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Things that make you go GGGRRRRRR!!!!

I have a laptop. I haven't figured out what button it is that I randomly push yet, but it's my enemy. I had a very long, boring, informative post almost complete on how much I love not drinking caffeine and somehow I pushed "the button" and BAM - it's gone!!! The whole post. I went to edit my post hoping that it hadn't auto-saved the deleted post, but it had. Now you, my loyal reader, will have to wait for another day. I know you'll be waiting on pins and needles, but I just can't subject myself to another 45 minutes of rewriting it. Where the heck is that button???

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The perspective of a six year-old

As I was working with Avery on her lesson for our Tuesday night kids' church program (Club Rocksalt, very similar to Awana), she made a pretty profound statement in my mind.
"All the things we have on earth are just to keep us from being bored while we're waiting for heaven."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Memory Lane

We've settled into a great school year routine. Avery's doing really well in first grade and Allie and I are loving our time together. I have plenty to do with home, family, and church, but I'm not overwhelmed like I have been in the past. So I just decided to look back and enjoy a short stroll down memory lane.
I always loved this picture of the girls. Allie ADORES her big sister :) That was back when those happy moments were few and far between. They still fight, but have realized how much fun it is to have a sister around as your best friend.
I don't know why, but I just love this picture of Avery and her Crispix! Kids are so funny :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Making Cider and Memories

My Dad has an old apple press that he got from my grandpa. He makes delicious apple cider every fall and we all love it! He promised the kids this year that they could help him make some cider, so we went over for the afternoon to help and got to see the whole process.
Allie, Papa, Roderick, Makinley, and Josh picking apples in the backyard.
Tons of apples being washed.

Papa feeding the apples into the grinder.

Look at that cider coming out!

Avery got to press the apple grinds down first.

Avery and her Papa.

Roderick and his Papa pressing the apples.

Allie gets her turn to press the apples.

Allie gets the first taste!

So first they pick the apples. Then, the apples get washed and fed into the grinder. Next, the apple grounds get pressed and every bit of juice gets squeezed out. Finally, the juice gets strained and poured into jugs. It takes a lot of work!

The kids each got to fill up a jug to take home.

This is just about my favorite picture ever! These are four of my favorite people in the whole world! There's a lot of love in this pic! :)

Tonight, as I sip on my mug of warmed cider that I regularly enjoy, I'll be even more thankful for it, knowing all the hard work that my Dad goes through to make it. I'm so glad my kids got to share this fun memory with their cousin and Papa.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheering for the Bolts

Ok, so I can't avoid it. I'm a Chargers fan by marriage. Rich is die-hard and I love that about him. It's fun to care about something your spouse cares about! The Chargers finally came to Seattle during the regular season and it was on the perfect weekend - two days after Rich's birthday. We asked our good friends, Tracy and Deanna Jones to join us. Of course they are Seahawks fans, but we haven't let that hurt our friendship :)
As we had parked and were walking to the game, Rich saw a Chargers foam finger propped up against a light pole. He said something about wishing he could have it. The homeless lady sitting nearby said someone left it there hours ago and she was sure we could just have it! So we took it!
This just made me laugh. This is the line to get into the building next to the game (they had games and promotional give-aways for fans). They searched each person, so they had separate lines for men and women. This was the one time the men's line was MUCH longer!

These are the women waiting for their men in the other line :)
Deanna and I waiting for the boys. What a good friend!!

These were not our seats, but we walked down and enjoyed the view for a while.

Beautiful Seattle! The Space Needle is in the left side of the picture.

Chargers taking the field.

Seahawks taking the field. It was fun when they called out the starting lineup and each player came out alone. The crowd was crazy!!! My ears were ringing the whole time. I've got to give credit to the Seahawks fans - they love their team!

It didn't take long for the guys sitting next to me to move over! Maybe there weren't willing to sit next to Chargers fans.

Tracy and Deanna cheering for their team.

Look at those pretty blue eyes on my handsome guy!
Qwest Field is just really pretty. I love that we still had a view of the city.
Sooo.... sadly the Chargers lost. We were quite surprised since they were expected by most to win. It was a close game, though, and we were on the edge of our seats. I was reminded that I really enjoy watching football. Sunday afternoons are good for so many other things and I seldom make the time to sit down and watch a game with Rich. It was just a blast to watch in person, though. This is the last Bolts touchdown that didn't actually count, since Rivers unfortunately didn't get the play off in time.
Exciting for Seahawks/Annoying for Chargers: 2 kick-off returns in one game - both by Leon Washington for the Seahawks. This is what the crowd looked like after the second one. Crazy!

I would have loved to have seen the Chargers win in person. However, the loss had very little affect on my enjoyment of the whole experience. I got away with my husband and some really good friends. We had great conversation, lots of laughs, and made some wonderful memories. Rich and I got up early Sunday morning and had coffee at Starbucks while Tracy and Deanna slept in a bit. This weekend was really about getting a bit of a break and remembering that we're a couple. Children are blessing - time away from them is a blessing, too! :) And what's this? I'm holding my husband's hand? Oh yeah, baby!