Monday, June 28, 2010

A "Must-Read" for your kids

Rich's mom bought this book for the girls for Christmas. It's called "The Jesus Storybook Bible" by Sally LLoyd-Jones. A friend of hers had told her how wonderful it was and that was all it took for Gramma Ginny to buy it for her granddaughters. As soon as I started reading it, I understood why. It's really wonderful. It is in chronological order, of course starting with the creation of the world. Each story is pointing directly at Christ. It explains in a clear, but interesting way, why each story was included in the Bible - to point to our need for a Savior. Moms, dads, grandparents, this would make a great gift for any young child in your life - I'd say any kid under 10 would appreciate and really enjoy it.
I'm about half-way through reading it with my kids and we have just barely reached the arrival of Jesus. So far I have come across a repeated phrase that I think is neat. "Because God loves us with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love..." and they go on to explain something wonderful that He did in preparation of Christ's coming.

I'll include one more quote from the book. On the page right before it introduces the birth of Christ, it has a story of the prophet Ezra. The story ends like this:

"It had taken centuries for God's people to be ready, but now the time had almost come for the best part of God's Plan. God Himself was going to come. Not to punish His people - but to rescue them. God was getting ready to wipe away every tear from every eye. And the true party was about to begin..."

I think we could all use a reminder of just how vast His plan has been from the very beginning. And with that perspective, I seem pretty insignificant. Yet He calls me His child and chooses to use me, freckles and all!

Get the book and read it to your children! I guarantee it will spark some conversations and questions that can only point those little souls to Christ.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Camping in the Redwoods

We've been talking about camping with our good friends, the Libbys, for a few years now. However, there was just one problem: we hate camping. Not really - we like the idea of camping and the thought of our children having fond camping memories, but the few times we've tried it since we've had kids, we just haven't had much fun. I was optimistic enough to think that probably had a lot to do with crawling, napping, young children. If you REALLY love camping, you're ok with putting up with that. If you are a fickle camper, like us Rowzees, it's just not worth it when you have young children. So we thought this might be the year for us, with children the ages of 4 and 6. I also think the key for us is the term I've dubbed "Destination Camping". I've always wanted to go to the redwoods and suggested we try that this year. So we booked a campground, sight unseen, and headed to Jedediah Smith State Park near Crescent City.
I'm sold! We had the most amazing trip. Other than Allie's CONSTANT desire for food, even though she's not hungry (it's a "bored" thing and it's not exclusively saved for camping), and her ability to hurt herself every 10 minutes or so, and both my kids' ability to need to use the bathroom at the most inopportune moments... it was a blast!

Gotta have some campfire pictures. Connie just had to get the giant campfire marshmallows we've spotted recently. Ethan was the only one that loved them. The rest of us found that we could not handle that much sugar in one blow! Thus, Connie's "this-is-way-too-much-sugar" face.

Avery and her smore.

Avery roasting another marshmallow that she didn't want to eat.

Avery and Hailey roasting hot dogs.

The Smith River runs right outside of our campground and we spent quite a bit of time out there. It was just beautiful! The guys fished, the kids did a little bit of everything, and the moms lounged and read our books (in between searches for a potty for our kids... or tree... or just a big rock...). Despite Allie's struggles, she is such a sweetheart! I just can't resist a snuggle from that girl!

Her Uncle Russell can't resist her, either. He helped her fish a little.

I really love this picture of Allie and Avery. Of course, they didn't fish for long, but it was a fun experience for them to try.

Avery fishing on her own.

Rich had decided he had to fish on this trip. I don't think he caught anything, but he had a really good time trying!

Those pretty girls dipping their feet in the water!

We went on a couple of beautiful hikes to really get a good look at the redwood trees. I was really blown away with the size and beauty we found. It's one more glimpse in the the size and creativity of our Great God, to have imagined and designed such a sight!

Avery peeking around a tree.

Connie snapped this one of Avery and me walking on a fallen tree. Doesn't it just seem like an Ewok will jump out at any moment?? :)

The Libbys and Rowzees in front of (what we thought to be) the biggest tree we came across.

This was taken right in front of our campsite. Really, this trip was one of the most fun times I've had with my family. I'm so thankful we did it and I'm VERY thankful for such amazing friends to share it with! I'm looking forward to many more trips just like it in the coming years!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

She can't wait

I love all of Avery's journal entries from kindergarten. She brought home her journal last week and this entry, one of her last ones, just made me smile.
translation: "I can't wait for all of the fun in my life."
She explained later that she was mostly referring to the things she was looking forward to about summer. Sometimes I worry that she's a little too interested in having fun, but then again, I don't think that's much different for the rest of us!

Friday, June 11, 2010

I lost my marbles... then found them again.

If you keep up on my amazingly interesting life (not), then you may remember a post a while back about a hard time we were having with Avery and I came up with a solution that worked almost like magic. The marbles. I had a happy jar full of marbles and a sad jar that started out empty each day. Any rude speech to sister or disrespectful speech to parents made her have to move a marble to the sad jar. Then she had consequences for so many marbles moved. It worked literally overnight. I don't think she actually ever had to have consequences for marbles moved. She only ever had to move one or two a day, three at the most.

So fast-forward a month. I had put the jars away because we hadn't used them for a few weeks. Things started getting ugly. I mean U-G-L-Y. I got to the point again where I knew I was way too emotionally involved in my kids' rude behavior. We are a house full of girls (until Dad gets home) and we are very verbal and expressive. Many times those qualities manifest themselves in very positive ways... and other times it's very negative.

I didn't know what to do. I was beyond discouraged. I prayed, but my heart was feeling pretty stubborn and not very yielding to the Spirit. I justified my complaining spirit. My daughters wouldn't stop fighting - both with each other and me!

Then, in His timing, when I was finally willing to listen, He reminded me of THE MARBLES. Now, Avery is not the only one stirring up the pot in our house. However, she has a lot to do with the direction of the mood of the house. If she's watching her mouth and practicing discipline over her attitude, Allie is more than happy to get along, usually. And if the girls are getting along, I'm most likely to be very content. So the next day we brought out the marbles, with a few more raised standards: any complaining or arguing will now be cause to move a marble, in addition to the previously mentioned offenses; and there will levels of consequences with each marble moved.

Guess how many marbles she moved the first day? NONE. She's only moved one marble since was started a few days ago. This kid needs to a visual reminder, a tangible way to see the effect of her behavior. I really don't think it's even a fear of the consequences that's driving her, it's simply a better way to call it to her attention than mom lecturing again about her rude speech. It's hard to admit my words weren't being heard, but I think all of us moms can relate. I really do have a bad habit of turning my words into a way to punish my child - make them listen to me get my frustration out. Wow, what a great example of tempered speech, mom... ouch...

Anyway, I'm SO thankful for God's goodness and His faithfulness to me, His child, as I continue to attempt to point my children toward Him. And to somehow create a home where "self" is not served, but Christ.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spring Soccer

First of all, I think we decided against spring soccer for the next few years. The weather is so unpredictable here in Oregon in the springtime. Plus, I think we're just busier in the spring. So it was harder to be committed this season. If it was bad weather, we just stayed home! We did have a wonderful day a couple of weeks ago, and I caught some shots of Avery in action.
Gotta love that face!

Here she is heading for a goal!

This is just to prove she's not all buttercups and sunshine. :) I'm not sure why, but this is definitely a sulk.

I absolutely love to watch her play soccer. We're going to try out gymnastics this summer, and I'm sure we'll pursue a few other sports along the way, but she's got the makings of great soccer girl!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today was a doozie...

I have several reasons why today was kind of a bad day. None of them really matter, though. My husband, in a gentle, but sarcastic way, always seems to bring me back to reality. Nothing that I face in my every day life is really that terrible. I fed my family well (not that they ate it willingly), my children were healthy enough to fight with each other vigorously, my husband was a little late coming home from a good job, and I happened to feel a bit under-the-weather, which is quite rare. But, for whatever reason, today got me down. Finally taking a shower at 3 in the afternoon helped tremendously. Praying in the shower helped even more. I told the Lord that I needed to remember that I can only control how I respond - both to Him and to others around me. I can't make my children quit being selfish and I can't stop the words and actions that come from them. I can't even control my own passions on my own. All I can do is submit to His Spirit and let Him work on my heart.

I'm working on a study on God's sanctifying work in our lives. He truly desires me to be holy, as He is holy. Do I desire that? Do I really think that possible? Am I willing to let Him work on my kids in His timing? I have to, or I'm going to go crazy! I don't know how many calm "talks" I had with the kids today, trying to gently explain how awful they were being to one another. I'm not sure why today happened, actually, since they have really seemed to move into a good phase of being very good friends. But these days happen. But my words were just floating out in the air, not even going into their heads, much less their hearts.

Then I sit down to do my study and read Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." And once again I'm reminded that He is the one who does the sanctifying work in my children, not me. And I so badly need Him to be working that out in my own life, if I ever hope to be the example I want to be to my daughters.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grandparent Love

I was just reminded recently of what a blessing it is to have grandparents around for our kids. Not just any grandparents, though. Our family is so blessed to have grandparents who really love our kids and genuinely love to spend time with them. Thank you, Nana and Papa and Gramma Ginny and Grandpa for being such a blessing in our lives!
Gramma Ginny (Rich's mom) was our "veterinarian" for Avery's "doggie party" birthday.

Papa (my dad) and Allie's birthdays are just 6 days apart, so they always get to share a cake!

Avery sat with Grandpa (Rich's dad) on a carriage ride through the town they live in.

Nana (my mom) and Allie have matching dimples!

I love that our parents have such a distinct role in my daughters' lives. Each grandparent brings something unique into their lives. I am truly thankful for each of you!