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!