Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Rowdy Rowzee Christmas

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! It's been a really great first half of the school year, but a very busy one. We had a wonderful Christmas. I just love having my kids get a little older. The holidays get more fun as they understand more and remember traditions.

Avery and I both participated in the children's Christmas program at church. I co-directed it for the second year. I just love doing it! This is a cute pic of Avery on the set.

I wish this picture wasn't blurry. This is Avery and her two buddies striking a pose during the show.

I tried something different this year for our neighbor gifts. Hot chocolate stir sticks. They were really yummy!

Random picture, but it makes me smile. My sister got my Dad a giant catfish pillow.

Ok, this is just annoying! It wasn't sideways when I clicked on it, but whatever! You can turn your head to see this adorable picture of my oldest daughter getting her REAL American Girl doll from her Nana and Papa. Her name is Julie and she's from 1974 and we love her!! Avery is very grateful for just a memorable gift.

Fun with Gramma Ginny :)

It's Christmas morning and we can't wait to open presents!!!

The girls picked this OSU football pillow for their Dad and boy did they pick well! I can't get him to put it down! They are constantly playing catch with it in the house. He throws it to me all the time, whether I'm looking or not. I've started refusing to catch it.

Allie picked out the pink scarf for Avery's present. Avery painted a bowl for Allie. They were both thrilled with each other's gifts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Rowzees!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is it too late?

It's well after Thanksgiving and 19 days until Christmas. Is it too late for me to post my Halloween pics?

My parents came to see SuperGirl and the Leopard Kitty.

Love all three of these girls!

I guess I never got a picture of just my girls this year! Oh well :) Happy Halloween!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Soccer Stars

Every mom thinks their kids are stars. Both my girls played soccer this year and it was so much fun! Avery played for a year, but took last year off. This year she was put on a team that had already been playing together for a while and the girls were really good. After the first practice, Avery didn't want to go back. She learned right away that these girls were good and she was really behind in soccer knowledge and training. But after the second practice she couldn't wait to go back! It was really awesome to see her learn so quickly and improve so much in a season. I was so impressed as I watched her handle the ball! She never became the star player, but she got pretty good and earned the admiration of her teammates and coach. And now she loves soccer.

She especially loved playing goalie.

Team Roma!

Allie's team... Well, I avoided, for a few weeks, all the emails pleading for a parent to step up and coach her team. We finally had a practice that was run by the soccer club and they again begged someone to step up. Well, if you know my personality, you aren't a bit surprised that I said I'd do it. Never mind that I just started a new job. Never mind that I don't know anything about soccer. I do know sports and I do know how to coach. Another mom agreed to coach with me and that was that. I think Allie would have done a little better with someone else coaching - she's so clingy with me. But I'm glad Allie got to play. She was definitely the go-getter on her team.

My kids have athletic genes. Avery has the determination that will help her succeed at just about anything she tries. Allie has a little more raw athletic ability. Both my kids are a joy to watch on the soccer field! We had a soccer party for Avery's team and the parents played with the players. It was so fun! Rich even scored a goal in his dress clothes from work! Now I want to add soccer to my list of sports to learn in my adulthood :) The Rowzees love sports!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finding my voice

It's been over two years since my first diagnosis with nodules on my vocal chords. Gotta tell ya, it's been an incredibly disappointing thing to struggle with. Everybody's got their issues. This is mine. I love to sing. I love to talk. I'm raising two very verbal and expressive girls and I can't for the life of me figure out how I would raise them without my voice.

My life has always centered around my voice. My singing has always defined my identity. I can't remember being asked what I like to do or what I'm good at without answering "singing!" right off the bat. The last couple of years has eliminated that for me. No more choir. No more solos. I participated in our church's Easter choir and it just about killed my voice. I had nothing coming out.

I know God has allowed this for me. He has greatly humbled me. But I'm glad to know I have a very full life, despite losing my ability to sing for now.

I remember being pregnant and watching women move in ways my body couldn't do, thinking, "will I ever be able to touch my toes again?" Lately I feel that way when I hear people sing! It feels like I can't even remember being able to sing all of those soprano lines that I sang so effortlessly all my life.

Well, enough whining. I saw the ENT again today. A camera tube was shoved up my nose and down my throat and he said, "yep. You have nodules." If he took them off through surgery, I would risk permanently altering or damaging my voice. No thank you.

My personality is energetic and expressive. My voice reflects that. I will be trying to put into practice all I know about singing correctly and applying it to my speaking voice. If you happen to be around me and I'm talking loudly, maybe tug on your ear and get my attention. Please don't tell me I'm talking too loud. It will just upset, embarrass, and possibly anger me. Tug on your ear and hopefully I'll take it gracefully and quiet down my voice. I so badly want my voice back!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hard thing about working

I love teaching math. I love building relationships with jr. high kids. I love the quiet moments of prep and grading I get to have at my desk in the mornings. I really hate not being super mom.

Besides just not having as much time as I would like to clean my house and plan meals, the only negative thing about my part-time teaching job is that I'm not as available for my older daughter. I haven't been able to volunteer in her classroom yet, although I'm hoping to soon. I don't get to take her to school and she goes to a friend's house for a half hour in the morning before being taken to school. Evidently, she's fine with going to school with a friend, but she doesn't want to tell her whole class that her mom doesn't take her to school. What's that about? Some kind a second-grade pride thing... And I missed her jog-a-thon. I would have taken the morning off and run with her, but I was already taking the next day off to go with her sister on a field trip, so I needed to be at work. So sad! She and I love to run together and that is totally something I would have been at if I hadn't been working! A friend took this picture of her at the jog-a-thon and I just had to share it. What a pretty girl! I'm not sorry I'm working. I love what I'm doing and I know God planned it for me. It is allowing Allie to have an amazing, Christ-centered kindergarten year and she has grown by leaps and bounds already in just one month. But you just can't have it all. I'm missing my first-born a little bit...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gotta love a crockpot

If you're pressed for time and love to make your family yummy, home-cooked meals and you AREN'T using your crockpot... well, you're just making your life much harder than it has to be! I'm working every morning now and usually don't get home until at least 12:30 - and that's if I was able to keep my afternoon free to be home. Yes, there have been a few more nights of corn dogs and even a take-out pizza here and there. But I am trying to think ahead and I found myself needing a few more recipes for the crockpot. I tried 2 last week and we really liked both of them.

Slow Cooked Mac and Cheese (call me terrible, but I got this out of a cookbook I bought as a wedding gift for someone. I had to look through it and write a few down before I gave it to her!)

1 pkg macaroni
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed cheese soup
1 cup milk
4 cups shredded cheese
1/8 tsp paprika

Cook macaroni and place in crockpot and add butter. Combine eggs, evap. milk, soup, milk, and 3 cups of cheese. Pour milk mixture over macaroni and stir. Cook on low for 4 hours and add rest of cheese; cook until melted.
*I didn't claim this to be a light dinner! You could lighten it with skim milk and the low fat evap. milk. I used cheddar cheese, but I think it would be yummy with pepper jack, too.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff
I got this idea from a random stranger. She suggested I look up a recipe for a crockpot chicken stroganoff. I finally tried it last week and it was really good!!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed but not cooked

1/8 cup margarine

1 (.7 oz) package of dry italian dressing mix

1 (8oz) package of cream cheese

1 can of cream of chicken soup

Cook cubed chicken with butter and dressing mix in crockpot on low for 5-6 hours. It sounds kinda weird with no liquid, but it worked well. Add cream cheese and soup and mix well (let it heat up a bit before you try to mix it too much). Continue cooking for another 1/2 hour or so, until all heated through. Serve over egg noodles.
*I got that off of, but it's not letting me post the link. There were some good suggestions for variations for this recipe. I think it's a winner!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here's the proof

I have always loved Amy Grant. I grew up idolizing her and dreaming of getting to sing with her on stage. Nine years ago I won a contest on our local Christian radio station and won the chance of a lifetime to get to meet my favorite famous person backstage before her concert. My bestest friend, Connie, was able to come with me and it was absolutely unforgettable. And only she knows how silly I sounded when I finally got to talk to my idol.

In September, I celebrated my 33 birthday and Rich and I went to the Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant concert with Connie and Russ. It had been a long day and I didn't have time to even reapply my makeup. Connie told me, "You're going to be in a dark room. Nobody will even see you." So I rushed out the door with no makeup, and forgetting my camera and my picture from the time I met Amy Grant, just in case I was able to meet her again and have her sign it. I mean, what are the chances???

So we got in line to claim our groupon tickets right when we got to the concert venue. Almost immediately, a woman who worked for KLOVE came up to Connie and asked her if she wanted her last two backstage passes to meet Amy and Michael. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? She said we had to go right away. I didn't have time to buy anything for Amy to sign. I didn't have my camera. I didn't have my picture with Amy! I hardly even had makeup on. But whatever! I was about to meet her again!!!!!!!!!!!!! There were two KLOVE employees in line with us and they offered to take pictures for me and email them later. So these pictures are the best I have.

We met Michael W. Smith first. I told him I was at his "Change Your World" concert and he said, "That was back in '92..." I think Connie was pretty star-struck :) He was so nice and it was really fun to get to meet him.

Here I am, with my two best friends!

I explained to Amy that I met her 9 years ago and had NO IDEA I was going to get to meet her again, or I would have had my picture for her to sign. The first thing I did was just tell her I love her. She was so sweet! I also told her about the movie my good friend, Wendy, made for my 30th birthday. It was a slideshow of my life and it ended with my picture with Amy, saying we were best friends. So I told Amy, "So in case you didn't know, we're best friends." Yep, I was a dork the second time I met her, too.

I mean, come on. She's awesome! Next time I WILL get the courage to ask her to sing with me. If I've met her twice, I'm sure to get a third time someday! I can't wait!!

And the concert was wonderful!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Porch Invasion

This summer was so different for us. My girls spent almost every day outside on our porch - hours at a time. Our next door neighbor was usually over and they played "family" or something equally exciting. At times, other neighbors found their way over to our porch and my kids figured "the more the merrier." As I listened to them play outside, I couldn't believe we were at this moment. I've been a mom for seven and half years and it was so weird to have my kids home, but not. I could watch a show I wanted to watch. I could start a chore and actually finish it in one sitting.

It did get a little old that my kids were constantly coming in and out and hauling their toys to be spread out over our front lawn. And they were frequently asking to share popsicles with everyone who had found their way to our porch. But in a conversation with a friend this week I was reminded that I want our house to be one of those houses where all the teenagers are hanging out. I want our girls to stay here and bring their friends with them. But I guess we don't really need to wait until they're teenagers! They are already having friends over and passing out food. Eventually it'll just evolve from imaginary games and popsicles to movies, pizza, and pop. I hope our house continues to be "the place to be."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of School

I have to post every year on the first day of school. I can't resist sharing pics of my adorable girls. This year is a bit different, as I was also going back to school. Allie and I had our first day on Tuesday this week. I was heading for my first day back to teaching after 7 1/2 years off , other than subbing and tutoring. So with that day approaching, I hadn't really thought about the fact that my sweet baby was beginning kindergarten! We've talked about it for years and the day came! She was pretty nervous and worried. I got lots of hugs and kisses in her class as she had trouble saying goodbye. But I finally got her arms off of me and shed my tears outside of her room. I'm pretty proud of her :)

Entering kindergarten!

And what to say about this sweetie? She is growing up so fast. Second grade seems so old! She has a really great teacher and I know she'll have a great year.

Love my girls! And I love having elementary aged kids!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bible Bee

We made a giant commitment this summer in signing up for the National Bible Bee. I think this was the 4th year of its existence, but the first year for the Salem, OR chapter. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I knew there would be days where I would have to work hard to keep Avery interested and motivated. Well, I underestimated what a challenge it would be for our whole family. It's pretty intense. In the end, Avery participated in the "easier" level, which doesn't qualify to compete nationally. In order to do that, she would have had to memorize 250 verses in 12 weeks and take a 200 question test on the book of 1 Peter. As it is, the girl did amazing. She memorized all 50 verses (30 passages) for her level and division. We tried to stick with the 1 Peter study, but it was just too challenging for her reading and ability level (she had to take a 100 question test on 1 Peter). So we focused on the Scripture memory. After the 12 weeks, we had the local competition and my parents and Rich's mom came to hear Avery show her stuff. She was escorted into a room with 2 judges and had 10 minutes to say 25 passages. I knew that was nearly impossible. It was a little sad for me, since I knew she knew her verses and wouldn't get a chance to say all of them, but that's just my over-competitive side rearing it's ugly head. She did great! I could hardly hold the tears back. There's something pretty wonderful about hearing your somewhat shy child stand in the middle of a room and quietly quote the Word of God. I was so happy that her grandparents came to hear her. They were blessed, also. She got to one verse that she didn't know very well, which I was surprised. Turns out we had learned it a few weeks before and lost the flashcard for it, so she hadn't been practicing that one. Bummer! Of course that was the only she didn't know perfectly and of course they asked her that one! Again, mommy is too competitive...

This was her turn to be on stage and receive a certificate.

Not sure why this picture is so blurry, but it still documents that Nana and Gramma Ginny were there to support her.

Overall, my daughter memorized an amazing amount Scripture this summer. It took a lot of work and effort on my part to keep her motivated. I think we've decided that we'd love for her to participate next year, but it needs to be something she's sure she wants to do. We'll see what she's thinking when next spring rolls around. I'm really proud of her and thankful for the brain God has given her to be able to do what she did this summer!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Swimming lessons

What's better than swimming lessons with your best friend on a hot summer day???


(yes, they are the same age)

Well, maybe swimming lessons with your cousin on a hot summer day!

And this is a bit random, but I had to share Avery's crazy tan with you. Boy, that girl does NOT have her mother's skin!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My little garden

I love summer. This summer has been filled with lots of imagination and running. My kids have this innate desire to run everywhere they go. Especially Allie! They've spent hours in our yard with their neighborhood friends and we've had lots of play dates at parks and pools.

And yet, I am finding myself at the end of the summer feeling frustrated and weary. I have spent my summer trying to teach them a little responsibility and a desire to "do their part" around the house. They're 5 and 7 - I think it's time. But it's not working. I still watch them bring out toys to play with in the front yard and then just walk in when they're done. Who does that? How do they not see all their Littlest Pet Shops and their radio sitting in the grass and pick it up? I don't think I'm asking too much.

So we started a "no tv" rule for when their stuff is a mess. What did they do? They didn't watch tv for 2 days. They complained quite a bit about it, but it wasn't worth it for them to actually clean up the mess so they could watch a Phineas and Ferb on netflix.

God is so good. All I have to do is pick up His Word and He calms my heart and begins to show me a better way. I see their laziness and I get angry at the sin. But once again I need to remember their age and be realistic in my expectations. I can't expect them to be perfect and not sin. And I can't expect to be their Holy Spirit. Every time I start in on a lecture, I'm drowning out what He wants to say to them. I love applying 1 Corinthians 3:7 to my parenting: "Neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but it is God who does the growing." I can plant and water all I want, but no roots are setting in unless I get out of the way. Once again He reminds me to simply be obedient to what He asks me to do, which is be patient with my children, teach them in a loving manner, direct them to righteousness, and He will do the rest.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another go-round

I'm excited to share about a new season of my life and our family. Before I had kids, I happily taught at Albany Christian School. I was the eighth grade homeroom teacher. I taught 7th and 8th grade Algebra and Pre-Algebra, Science, and PE, 8th grade Bible, and music for the whole school. Yep, I think that's it...

Well, very unexpectedly I received an email asking if I would be interested in returning to ACS to teach 7th and 8th grade math again. At first I thought it was very unlikely that I'd take the job. I had no desire to be working every day in addition to running my household and raising my children. Anyway, no reason to drag it out - it became apparent that God was leading me down this road after all. I am very excited! Allie will be able to join me and attend kindergarten there while I am teaching in the morning. I will have 2 classes of around 16 students total and an hour of prep. Man, this is going to be good!

I love jr. high students and have really missed working with them. I have often thought about my days of teaching those young teenagers. I came to the conclusion quite a while ago that I would be a very different teacher, now that I've had children. I can't wait to try out my "sea legs" now :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

an additonal thought to Rowzee Bucks..

I wanted to add one more little thought for those who have already read the post on our Rowzee Bucks. Not all of our rewards cost me money. A few of the coupons are free to me - like "30 minutes of extra snuggle time with Mom before bed" (not kidding, Avery bought that the first time in was in the store!), and "You decide what Mom makes for dinner" (Avery bought that one, too!). Allie thought about buying the dinner one last week and had decided we were going to have milkshakes. She opted for Jamba with Daddy instead :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rowzee Bucks

I've been wanting to post about our little reward system we have going on in our house and we had such a good night last night as a result of it, that I thought I had to share about it. We borrowed an idea from a friend who has "done raised" her kids and they've have turned out pretty awesome, so we thought she was a good source for advice and suggestions :) Her family had a system called "Bernard Bucks", in keeping with their last name. They used fake money and rewarded their kids for good behavior. Beyond that, I'm not sure what their rewards were or how easily they doled out the dinero. I took the idea and made it my own.

Rich wanted to call ours "Rowzee Rubles". We decided it was a little cheesy. So we just call ours Rowzee Bucks. I bought a couple packs of fake dollars at the dollar store and I keep them in my kitchen cupboard. I also keep a little "wallet" for each girl - they are little plastic note card holders. We give out Rowzee Bucks for anything from an extra kind word or going out of their way to help out, to helping Dad weed in the yard. Avery has been working on a ton of Scripture memory this summer as a participant in our local Bible Bee. Every Saturday she gets a Rowzee Buck for every verse card she can recite perfectly, as a way of reviewing and rewarding her efforts. Allie gets one for each verse she can say, too.

So, as for the rewards... I have a bin with various prizes all priced. I don't spend more than $2 or $3 for most of them. I also have coupons for different things the girls can buy, such as a date with Daddy to Jamba Juice or a trip to the carousell. It depends on how much the prize costs me as to how much I "charge" for them. A $1 ball from Walmart cost the girls 5 Rowzee Bucks. A date with Daddy to dinner at the mexican restaurant cost them 30 Rowzee bucks. We open the Rowzee Buck Store most weekends if we get around to it.

This system is working really well for us. It is hopefully teaching them the value of money and the value of saving for something they'd like to buy in the future. It gives me a chance to reward the girls with something tangible when I'm pleased with their behavior and a chance for them to earn something. I will say that there are times when I take away Rowzee bucks, too. I try not to do it very often, but there are times when it seems like an appropriate punishment.

Last weekend the girls each bought a date with one of us with their earnings. Avery bought a date with me to Limeberry (self-serve frozen yogurt) and Allie bought a date with Rich to Jamba Juice. Monday was a bit of a long day and Avery had had an especially hard day with me. After dinner we got in different cars and headed off on our dates. Rich says it was the best time he's had with Allie, just the two of them. Avery and I talked of school coming up and she crawled into my lap after she finished her yogurt since it had made her cold and we professed undying love to each other once again and all was well. We had such a good time, puts me in mind to start a regular date night once a month. We could switch kids every month. I'm thinking the first Monday of the month and spend no more than $5 on each date.

Thank God for my husband and kids! I'm humbled at the thought of how much He's blessed me. He is so good!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Adios... wait, that's Spanish...

Well, the two weeks is over. We had a sweet 15 year old "daughter" who hardly spoke a word to us. I hope it's not indicative of our future with our own teenagers! Somehow, I don't think a loss for words is going to be our problem...

Ayumi loved our dog! I'm so glad. It could have been a big problem, since he is so darn friendly. Luckily, she was most comfortable when he was around to pet and play with.

We took her to the aquarium on her last day with us. I'm sure her lack of a smile has to do with knowing it was almost time to leave us...

If you come to America, we figured you have to roast a marshmallow and try a s'more! She loved it!

This is the last morning as we were seeing her off.

One last hug!

The 2 weeks didn't exactly end up how I thought. Actually, a lot of it did. I expected our student to not know a lot of English and for my kids to possibly overwhelm her with their enormous personalities and crazy antics. That was pretty much how it went. But I didn't expect to be dealing with a family of pukers and have to ship her off for a couple of nights to keep her from catching it. Thank the Lord Ayumi and I both were spared from the really awful bug that the girls and Rich caught.

It was such a good experience, sickness and all. God was in it and I'm good with that! Maybe we'll even do it again sometime...

Monday, August 1, 2011


Our sweet exchange student, Ayumi, has been with us for one week. For my mathematically-challenged readers, that's halfway through her 2-week stay. Overall, I'm glad she's here! It was awkward at first, since we can't have a whole lot of conversation. She doesn't speak much English, but we anticipated as much. She has had 3 years of English class in her school in Tokyo. I figure it's a little like me going to stay with a Mexican family back when I was in high school. Being surrounded by it and expecting to understand quick conversations is much different from learning nouns and phrasing in a classroom setting.

She has a very sweet spirit, though, and is a fun addition to our family. Allie has especially made it her goal to talk to and interact with Ayumi. She asks her questions all the time and I have explain again that Ayumi can't understand most of what she says! But Ayumi keeps trying and does her best to answer her back :)

Origami lessons.

I'm writing this in the middle of the night because I'm up with Avery. Allie got sick two days ago and threw up a whole bunch. I was hoping that was all we were going to have to deal with, but Avery has it now. Is it too much to ask God to not let Ayumi get it??? Rich and I are of the mind that her parents have shelled out a lot of money for her to get to be here and we really want to make her stay as interesting and enjoyable as possible. I would feel soooooo awful if she were to spend a day throwing up and missing out on all the activities the organizers have planned. But nothing is a surprise to God and for reasons I may never know, He chose to let my kids get this tummy bug at this time. So I'll do what I can and get through what He's got in store for me!