Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Creamy Shrimp and Rice

(I don't have a working camera at the moment, so excuse the lack of pictures)
We have become big fans of all of the Philadelphia Cooking Creme flavors.  They are incredibly creamy and make meal prep very easy.  As much as I love teaching, I'm exhausted when I come home, and I want recipes that are simple, tasty, and hopefully nutritious too.  The cooking creme tubs usually have recipes on them, and this is one of those recipes.  Isaac and I both enjoyed the shrimp and rice.

2 t. olive oil
1/2 C chopped red peppers (I used a green bell pepper from our garden)
1/2 C chopped onion
6 oz package sugar snap peas, halved (Isaac requested asparagus instead, and it was tasty!)
1 lb. frozen, cooked, cleaned medium shrimp, thawed and drained (I used raw and put them in to cook immediately so that the shrimp gained the pepper and onion flavor).
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 C milk
1 tub Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
2 cups hot cooked rice (I think this would be great with pasta too).

-Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add peppers and onions; cook and stir 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
-Stir in peas (asparagus for us); cook 3-4 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently.
-Add shrimp, black pepper, and milk; cook and stir 3 minutes or until heated through.
-Add cooking creme; cook and stir 2 minutes
-Serve over rice.


Journey to Joy Kickoff

If you've read my blog for long, you might have picked up on the fact that I don't always enjoy women in large doses.  There's something about the drama that goes along with a large group of women that makes me insane.  My life has enough drama without anyone else's whining.

While I was at A&M, my perceptions of 'girl drama' began to change when I joined Sigma Phi Lambda my freshman year.  I learned that while just because a group of girls claims to be Christian doesn't mean drama is handled 100% of the time, God equipped me to handle it better.  Now at UBC, I'm seeing that the whiny drama I loathe isn't tolerated, but isn't bashed either.  Women are encouraged and nurtured by each other in the Women's Ministry in ways that diminish the traits about gatherings of women from which I had always shied away.

Two years ago I began facilitating women's Bible studies on Monday evenings because the options for working women-of any age-were very limited.  It's been fabulous, and I've enjoyed growing in my knowledge of my Daddy God and His will for His children with the women I've met in my groups.  This Fall, UBC is launching an evening version of Journey to Joy, the Women's Ministry's morning Bible study and fellowship time.  Now, instead of just 10 of us meeting to study together, dozens of us will join on Tuesday evenings for a time of fellowship, worship, and then our separate small group studies.  I am so excited!

Tonight was the Open House of sorts for Journey to Joy.  I felt a bit of deja vu since I probably hadn't had worship with that many other sisters in Christ since I graduated from A&M/Phi Lamb.  It was nothing fancy, but just munching and visiting and then simple worship with just a guitar and singing was just what this busy lady needed!

In two weeks, we start up our Fall Semester.  I was excited before, but now I'm counting the days!  What a blessing. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trust and Obey

My fears and my stubbornness to take the easy road are coming into direct conflict with God's will, and I'm struggling to follow my Daddy God as He leads and desires.

In the past few weeks, I've wanted to throw in the towel and forget I ever thought about us adopting from Zambia.  The process is so hard and complicated because Zambia is so strict about their adoption process.  Trust me, with human trafficking rates as high as ever, this is a good thing, but it's beyond frustrating when I think of a little girl without a family and two people so ready to bring her home.

The easy thing would be to just ignore it all.  We'd move on with our happy little life, enjoying just being the two of us, and eventually adopt from somewhere easier.  Yet, that's not obedience to a plan the Lord, who in the flesh of Christ as a human has faced every temptation and fear, has given us to attempt this adoption of a darling little girl that I love with all my heart.  We may never bring her home, but I know God has something He wants us to learn just from the process of trying.  If I don't obey, then I'm exhibiting to myself and to all the watching world that I don't trust that the God who knows and sees all and takes care of even the flowers and sparrows (Matthew 6:25-26) will also care for Isaac and me and our hearts and the heart and life of a sweet little girl.  And since I do believe all of that to be true, then I have to keep praying against the doubts and frustrations of Satan and obey, even when it's hard and I don't want to.  

Besides, when I think of that sweet darling pretending to cook with the nannies, riding her bike, and enjoying the shade of the big orange flower tree (can't remember it's name, but it's beautiful) as the winter days are coming to an end in Zambia and heat is returning, I know fighting for her to have a family will always be worth it-always.

We've been praying for someone to come alongside us and help us through this process, and we finally heard from a family who has recently adopted from Zambia, so I'm hoping this is the start to getting answers to so many of our 'How do we...' questions.  Thank You, Jesus!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Gospel Gala at church; Texas Baptist Men are smoking bbq for a disaster relief team fundraiser.

Monday: Left over Carrabbas from Sunday's birthday lunch for Dad and David

Tuesday: Creamy Shrimp and Rice using Philadelphia Cooking Cream

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes and fruit

Thursday: Open House at school, so they'll feed me and Isaac will have plenty of left overs :)

Friday: Boondoggles-This is our first ever SCIS Dinner Group meeting, and I'm excited to hang out with my co-teachers and their spouses!

Saturday: Leftover Creamy Shrimp and Rice

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Sunday School

Isaac and I began teaching the middle school Sunday school class at church today.  Back in April, some of our 5th graders began asking if we'd move up with them in the Fall. By mid-July, the current teachers decided to pursue other opportunities on Sunday mornings, and Isaac and I were longing for more opportunities to have real relationships and more one-on-one discipleship with the kids we teach, which wasn't possible in the large group format that the children's ministry is currently using (not saying this is negative, just not what we desired).  Today was promotion Sunday, so we got to move up with our now 6th graders and join the 7th and 8th graders. 

The 9:30 hour is the big draw for the youth group, so we were excited to have 15 kids this morning at 11:00.  Considering we didn't get the curriculum until Thursday, the lesson went really well.  We need to work on getting the kids up and moving during our discussion time, but we'll have more time to prepare this week.  The lesson was about how Christ calls us to be missionaries-all of us (Matthew 10:1-20).  Some of the kids brought up great questions on what should be done if they feel passionate about something but their parents don't agree.  It was nice to use personal experience talk about how God will often put a desire in our hearts that He won't cause to occur for many months or even years, but that doesn't mean they should stop praying or ignore it (ahem, Zambia, anyone...?) or disobey their parents. 

We're praying that God shows us how to really encourage these teens in their faith, help them bond with each other, and challenge them to live what they believe. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, David!

Today this guy is 25.  That sounds so cool...but then it means that I have to be older than 25 and that's not so cool.  :)

I have a fabulous 'little' brother, though he's been bigger than me since I was 13.  I'm proud of him; he graduated in May from UHCL with a masters in health care admin and now works for Blue Cross Blue Shield, taking care of their hospital contracts in Texas.  He and Laura stay really busy, so Isaac and I are very excited to spend some time with them this weekend to celebrate David's birthday.

Happy birthday, David!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Zambian Painting

My eyes were a little bigger than my walls one Sunday after church last summer when I was at the craft market at Arcades in Lusaka.  Oops.  Not only did I bring home the smaller painting that Isaac put on a stretcher bar and hung several months ago, but I also brought home a five foot monstrosity that is just gorgeous!  Isaac had to have some courage to tackle this one, but he did, and the results are perfect in my piano room! 
Aggie Belle helped Daddy make the stretcher bar.

It's gorgeous!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School!

World Geography is back in session!  I have 6 classes of roughly 160 fabulous kiddos this year, and I'm excited to get to know them!  My class numbers won't balance until sometime next week, but even with such big classes, today was a great start.  They had no problem beginning on a map of oceans and continents and had a discussion with me while they worked.  If I can keep this going, we're going to fly through curriculum and dig deep this year!  Yay!  I can't believe this is year five!

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner
Monday: Frozen Hearthstone Pizza
Tuesday: Tuna Melts
Wednesday: Russian Chicken with Rice and Green Beans
Thursday: BBQ Baked Potatoes
Friday: Leftover Mushroom and Chicken Pasta (already cooked and frozen)
Saturday: Leftover Russian Chicken

Happy first week back to school!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ozinga Family Cruise Days 6 & 7 & 8

Friday was our day to be in Cozumel.  I learned last year that I actually enjoy Cozumel despite my extreme dislike for Mexico.  We went scuba diving last year, and while I cringed at the idea of passing up opportunities to swim with the sea creatures, Isla Pasion was calling my name.  My parents visited the little white island several years ago, and my toes have been itching to sink into that sand ever since I saw their photos.  Penny and Dave decided to join us this day while Sarah and Jacob explored Mayan ruins.

Cozumel Port
Passion Island, as the Americans call it, is nothing more than a spit of fluffy white sand about a 30 minute boat ride from the cruise port in Cozumel.'s stunning.  It's owned by the cruise lines, and they only allow so many people to travel to it each day meaning the beach is never crowded, walks are always secluded, and there's never a line for anything. A while back Dos XX told the cruise lines that if they would only sell Dos XX beer (Corona filmed all their commercials there previously), they would provide peddle boats, kayaks, and water inflatable toys (think blobs and ice bergs) for the guests.  While none of that is necessary to thoroughly enjoy all the island offers, we did have some fun, and Isaac and his dad had a bit of a climbing and balancing competition.

I really just wanted to sit myself in that fluffy, warm goodness and not move, but swimming and walking took up much of my day.  The lunch buffet was tasty, and a great distraction during the 15 minute rain shower.  Passion Island is such a fun taste of paradise!

Saturday was our last day, and a fun day at sea.  In the morning I received a massage and facial while Sarah and Jacob took a behind the scenes tour of the ship.  In the afternoon was took turns racing down the 5 story slide for the last time before cleaning up for dinner.  We were not happy campers when we had to say goodbye to Denis for the last time, but we're hoping he and Amy will take us up on the offer to get a behind the scenes tour of NASA.  The final show was hysterical; several guests had auditioned to perform with the singers and dancers to be famous stars throughout the decades and genres.  Lots of good fun, and a great way to end the trip!
Swan, Frog, Puppy, Elephant, and Orangutan zoo that grew for us during the week.

While none of us were ready to get off the ship on Sunday, we were ready to be home.  I think we made it off the ship by 8:30 and were home by 9:15.  I kept busy unpacking, doing laundry, and grocery shopping before we crashed for naps.  My parents had all of us, my brother and sister-in-law, and my grandparents over for Goode Co BBQ and homemade ice cream.  Yum!  The best part of the day was having our sweet puppies again.  :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ozinga Family Cruise Day 5

Thursday was my favorite day.  We woke up and got ready while we sailed our way into the harbor in Georgetown, Grand Cayman.  The pier isn't large enough for cruise ships so were tendered to shore for some shopping before our excursion left for the day.  As with most cruise ports, lots and lots of shops are right off the pier, making souvenir shopping for family back home a breeze.  Georgetown is a beautiful city, and I want to go back to explore the history museum!

We loaded the van and headed down the road to the turtle farm.  It's a farm in the fact that turtles are raised there, but it feels more like a Sea World exhibit.  Upon entering, we were met by a huge turtle 'ocean' with a dock for them and a beach so they can make nests to lay their eggs.  The eggs are later removed by the conservationists that work at the farm to be carefully monitored and studied.  The turtles that live in the 'ocean' are HUGE.  Most that have reached that size are over 40 years old and weigh 300+ pounds.  They are beautiful.

There are smaller tanks that hold smaller turtles.  Many of the smallest turtles are allowed to be picked up and held.  Most of these little guys aren't too thrilled to be removed from their swimming practice, but we were taught that the nerve in their throat will calm them down if it's gently rubbed with the stroke of a finger.  We had so much fun holding turtles.

We drove past gorgeous 7 Mile Beach which looks like the most stunning post card I can possibly imagine.  One of many Tortuga Rum shops was next on our tour where I learned that cinnamon raisin rum cake is even better than the chocolate version.  YUM!  We also stopped in Hell, Grand Cayman, a tiny part of the island so named for it's black rock formations that look rather ominous and the fact that a  British hunter visiting this location shot at a bird and missed, stating, "Oh, hell!" in response to his failed attempt.  It's turned into a big tourist attraction but honestly didn't impress me much.  The rock formation is eerily pretty, but it's not worth the hoopla that's made about it.

The rock formations at 'Hell'.

After driving around some of the mansions on the west side of the island, we left the bus and hopped on a boat for the 30 minutes ride out to Stingray City which is nothing more than a shallow sandbar about 3-5 feet deep.  The sand is as white as sand gets and the white is crystal clear.  Stingrays come and go as they please into the shallow water.  A while back, boats started anchoring there feeding the rays.  As more boats would come, the rays kept returning.  Now, the wildlife parks management boat is out there all day to keep an eye open for any unruly tourists, but most of the guides do a great job of keeping the humans in check so the rays stay safe.  They are so silky smoothy, and yes, cuddly too!  The Caymanians say it's good luck for 7 years to kiss a stingray, and while I don't believe in luck because God orchestrates everything, the rays were too cute to resist.  They will also give back 'rubs'.  :)  One ray has been nicknamed Frisbee because she was born without a tail.  Frisbee is currently pregnant, and we could feel the two little babies inside of her.  Crazy!  Several barracuda swam past us and I found a couple of pufferfish and conchs too.   We didn't want to leave this gorgeous taste of Eden where humans and sea life played with such joy.  On the way back, we got a closer look at the Cayman Dropoff where there's a living coral reef and then the water depth plunges from 30 feet to 700 feet to 7000 feet in a matter of yards.


Ray and Puffer

I asked Isaac if we could retire to Cayman if we don't end up in Zambia.  I think it wouldn't be hard to convince him to do.  :)

Thursday was our second formal night and it was the captain's reception for repeat guests.  That's always a fun party!  Isaac and I were eating at the Steakhouse on the ship that night as our anniversary present from his parents.  It's a four course meal, so of course I couldn't eat all that was on my plate if I wanted to at least taste everything, but our waitress kept thinking something was wrong.  Only that my stomach is too small for all of that!  Isaac said he ate the best steak of his life that night.  It was a great treat, and we enjoyed the show afterward with his family.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ozinga Family Cruise Day 4

Wednesday dawned with our ship in port at Jamaica.  This was a new country for me to mark off my list.  I was excited to see a new place and explore as much as a cruise excursion will allow. 

All 6 of us decided to take the same excursion this day, so we met up on the ship to debark.  The port in Montego Bay isn't very big and there is NOTHING around it once the ship terminal is passed.  We were loaded onto a bus for a 30 minute drive to another parish.  In Jamaica, a parish is the same thing as an American state.  Each one has a capital city and really is just like a mini-state size wise.  The drive was beautiful with hills calling to us on one side of the road and the waves teasing us on the other.

When we reached the horse ranch, we were matched with horses and began our trail ride up Black Mountain.  It's named that for the family that has lived and farmed the mountain for a very, very long time.  I had a beautiful bay named Scrumby for our trek.  The fields, the mountain, and the valley were all so green!  We live in a drought stricken is a huge bonus at the moment!  Our horses were mostly retired race horses, so it was nice to ride something with a little spunk and not a trail worn poor soul.  The views of the Caribbean from the top of Black Mountain were beautiful.  As we ended our trail, we rode along the beach.  There just aren't words to describe the glory of God's creation!
Isaac and Omar

Base of Black Mountain

After we had some water, our guides pulled about ten of their horses that enjoy water, and we remounted to take the horses out for a swim in the sea.  I've watched movies with horses that go swimming and seen pictures, but I've never been in a location that was appropriate for horse swimming.  I certainly wasn't going out swimming with my mount last summer in the croc lakes in Zambia!  I rode Wyle E. Coyote out into the sea and we swam and swam in the cove.  It was just thrilling!
Wyle E. Coyote and me.  He's an Appaloosa like my sweet Dixie Girl was!

Eventually it was time to head back to port where we hailed a taxi to take us to Margaritaville.  Mom's one request was for a new shirt from Jimmy Buffet's version of paradise.  I quickly ran in, made my purchase, and then we browsed a few other shops nearby before heading back to port.  The folks in Jamaica are so desperate to make a sale that it's incredibly uncomfortable for the shoppers.  I wasn't pleased with their forcefulness in the least and was ready to hit the road very quickly!

Jamaica is stunning, and I felt safe the whole day, despite pushy sales clerks.  I'd like to see Jamaica's jungle and waterfalls some day too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ozinga Family Cruise Days 1, 2, & 3

For our second anniversary and my mother-in-law's birthday, Isaac's side of the family and we went on a cruise out of Galveston.  It was a huge treat to be in the Gulf and Caribbean for 7 days, soaking up the sun, visiting with Penny, Dave, Jacob, and his friend Sarah (family we only see about 2 times a year), and exploring new places.

On the 7th, Isaac and I picked up his parents, brother, and Sarah from the airport and headed to the cruise terminal.  We are privileged to live 30 minutes from it!  While the ship was basically full, the check-in process was a breeze, and we were quickly in our cabins, unpacking before heading out to see our departure.  Isaac and I had a cabin one deck above Penny, Dave, and the kids, and at the very front of the ship.  We've learned we like being on an upper deck and in the front.

Our first night at dinner wasn't as it should be; Isaac had worked so hard to make sure we had a table for 6, and then we were split into two groups.  It was a great night, but we were grateful to meet Denis and our table for 6 on the second night. That evening we went up to a big table on the Lido Deck to play cards.  We taught the Ohioan Ozingas the Hashes' favorite game of No Peeky, and Sarah and Isaac taught the rest of us Egyptian Rat Screw.  Crazy laughter probably kept the other passengers away from us that night!

No room for Isaac and me!

Cozy, but not the point of this trip.

Monday was our anniversary, and it was a lazy, fun day.  We had breakfast delivered to our cabin, went to the gym (we did this nearly every day), and stayed in the pool most of the rest of the day.  It was formal night, so we had fun getting all gussied up to meet Captain Antonino Sammartano and enjoy our lobster and shrimp.
Jacob, Sarah, Dave, Penny, Captain Sammartano, me, and Isaac   


 Isaac and I had thought we had ordered a special cake to share with the family after dinner, but it turns out they went behind our back and had ordered one first, so our order was quietly tossed in the trash after Isaac and I left the Formalities shop.  Ha!  Our wait staff sang 'Happy Anniversary' to us, making us kiss between each phrase.  We danced that night too during dinner with other couples while the servers sang "That's Amore".  The nightly show (possibly my favorite part of ship life) was cancelled that night due to stage lighting malfunctions, so the four of us 'kids' hit the library to play more cards before heading to bed.  It was such a fun night celebrating two great years of marriage.

We were quietly singing "Veggie Tales" while waiting on dessert.  Yes, we're that silly.

"Happy anniversary, to you!  Kiss!.....

Tuesday looked a lot like Monday except we talked Jacob and Sarah into joining us at the pool and water slide. 

Dinner was another fabulous affair as we learned even more about Denis, our head waiter.  He's from Croatia, and got excited seeing all of the different brands of wine we brought to dinner each night.  He and his fiance Amy (she is the Spa Manager on the ship, and we fell in love with her too!) love to tour different wine countries, and I think Isaac and I managed to talk them into taking a Texas tour with a definite stop at Messina Hof (WHOOP!). 

After a comedy show and "the show", we fell into bed, knowing we'd be waking up early in Jamaica!

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Goode Co. BBQ with both of our families at my parents' house
Monday: Chuy's leftovers from our lunch with Isaac's family
Tuesday: Back to my parents' for BBQ leftovers
Wednesday: Mushroom Brushetta Chicken
Thursday: Garden Salad with Balsamic Marinated Chicken
Friday: Church Leadership Dinner
Saturday: Addison's Birthday Party

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Florida Vacation from 2010

So, after we got back from the failed shuttle launch attempt last NOVEMBER, life got a little crazy catching up on a week out of school and the death of a student.  I never did finish blogging about our trip, and there were great stories to tell!  Those posts are finally finished and have been back-posted.  If you're interested, you can find the whole trip posted in the November 2010 part of the blog by following these links:

Halloween in St. Pete

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Florida Wrap-Up

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary (x2)!

Today Isaac and I have married for 2 years!  Some how, we have crammed so much into two years that the time has just flown!  We had so much fun at our wedding, mostly because our fabulous family and friends were with us.  God has blessed us with so much in 2 years, and we're praying that during this upcoming third year is the year we become a family of three with our sweet girl getting to come home.
Jacob, Ashleigh, Ashley, Tim, Lindsay, Michelle, Zach, Savannah, Jacob, Isaac, me, Mark, Sarah, Meredith, Laura, David, Bethany, and Jason=most fabulous wedding party ever!

Isaac and I picked August 8th because it's my grandparents' anniversary.  We love, love, love that we get to share such a special day with them!  This is their 57th anniversary, and we are so blessed to live close by and have lots of time with them!  Love you, Nanny and Dede!
Nanny and Dede: most fabulous grandparents God ever made.
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