Thursday, September 18, 2014

grandbabies and dental work and homeschooling, oh my

I have a baby sleeping in one bedroom (Hayden) and a grandbaby in the other (Macie) and a stack of schoolwork to score. I was gone all yesterday - six and a half hours in the dental chair and three root canals and crowns - and I lived to tell the story. Actually, I don't want to tell the story. The fact that I lived, and I am eating pain free today is enough. I'll spare you the picture of my face ... I could probably play the part of the Mayor from Whoville if I didn't have an ounce of pride. But I do. So much so, that I don't plan on going anywhere until my face recovers. Even if it takes three weeks.

So moving on to the fun stuff quickly - because I really do need to go score that schoolwork... Miss Macie is growing .

That little chunk-a-monk is five months old and weighs almost as much as Hayden. And she TALKS. Like nonstop, always shrieking and babbling and telling the world how excited she is to be in it. I get to keep her overnight for the first time, as Jo and Mo are moving to a different place. Josiah brought her into the house and immediately Hayden ran over (yes, he runs now) and started yelling May Mays !!! She is pretty popular around here :)

Other news :

We've settled in nicely to a new school routine. I am so thankful to have kids who are self-motivated to get their work done each day. This did not happen overnight. It took years of establishing that a) school work has to get done every day, and b) they have to stay on track without me constantly supervising them, if homeschooling is going to work. And I do mean yeeeeaaars. People ask me all the time how we are able to get our kids to do schoolwork ... how do they stay on task and get along and how do I not lose my mind daily?

I don't have quick fixes or simple solutions, rather the same principle that we apply to every area : lots of prayer and lots of structure and lots of love.

Sometimes things get totally crazy, and Sam calls a family meeting before bed, where rules are established and things brought back to center. We air our griefs, we come up with new strategies for handling the chaos that is sometimes The Rice Ranch, and we make a plan. We are not always 100% successful at mastering that plan, but at least we have one.

Also : we pray daily for our kids to have a love for learning and a willingness to cooperate. If they have a heart for those two things, we can overcome any challenge. I have kids who are not as good at staying focused as others, but if I see in them a love for learning, I can redirect them as many times as needed, until they get their work done. I have kids who struggle at math or don't enjoy reading like the others do, but if they have a willingness to cooperate, then we can find a way to plow through the challenges they face.

And what I have found is that my kids need a LOT of firmness (NO, you may not check your email real quick before getting on your math) and a LOT of love (I see that you are struggling at your writing assignment today, let's sit down together and help you catch up) to keep everything running smoothly. Praise and tenderness and understanding can go a long way with a child who is easily distracted. I can't tell you how many times I have seen one of my children turn around, as far as attitudes go, when I praise them in front of their siblings for doing well on an assignment, or studying quietly and nicely. Sometimes the children who seem the least "focused" are really the ones who just need a little extra love and attention to help them grow and mature. This doesn't always happen instantly, but over time I've seen my difficult children (yes, we do really have some of those) thrive under lots of encouragement and praise.

Okay, well Macie and Hayden both decided that Lily going down for her nap (don't you sleep in your apron ??) would be a great time to wake up from theirs. So my mini essay on homeschooling and what's new with my grand baby will end spontaneously right now... if you have any questions on homeschooling you'd like to see answered in a blogpost, leave them in the comment section.

Happy Thursday !!

Monday, September 15, 2014

monday miscellany

Just dropping in for a minute to share a couple things... I'll be back later with more, but #itsmonday. Enough said.

I'm writing over HERE today ... you may have read the post (featured there) last year on A Perfect Lily, but just in case you didn't ... go check it out . And leave a comment if you have time ;)

Also ... if you haven't ordered any of your favorite Scentsy products in awhile, September is the month to do it. If you order anything from Lily's Basket Party, you will be entered to win a shower gel of your choice. FYI : The fall warmers are AMAZING, and the new scents as well.

And lastly... this girl is getting cuter than ever. More later on how her little personality is just really blossoming as she approaches her fifth birthday in January. Seriously, life just gets sweeter and sweeter with our Lilybird. Can't wait to share more.

Happy Monday !!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Forest Fire ... and Scentsy Saves the Day

It's Monday morning here at the Rice Ranch, and after an eventful weekend, I am anxious to get back to the routine of homeschooling and laundry.

Friday night Sam and I were visiting friends in McMinnville. We had our five youngest children with us - the older ones stayed behind for work and sports events. Halfway through the night we got a call from Mackenzie that a brush fire across the street from our house appeared to be out of control. She didn't sound frantic, rather a little alarmed - the flames were high and the fire seemed to be moving quickly. It's been very hot and windy as of late - two conditions that don't gel nicely with brush fires !

A half an hour later Kenzie called again to say that things had quickly progressed - the fire was spreading and many of our neighbors were being evacuated. It looked like the fire was staying on the other side of our neighborhood, but she said she felt like she was watching a movie ... people were running everywhere to see what was happening, police were banging on doors and asking people to leave, and the nighttime sky was little up with flames and smoke. Timberhill (our neighborhood) was in chaos.

photo credit : tyler rice :)

Sam and I piled the kids into our van and raced towards Corvallis. We had no idea what to expect- every few minutes Mackenzie would call or text with an update, and friends from back home were keeping us posted as well. At one point someone came to our door to tell the kids to prepare to evacuate- poor Mackenzie and our teens were frantically piling years of scrapbooks and memories into giant plastic tubs to throw in her car. When she called to tell us what they were doing, I told her to leave it all and get in the car and go .... I have to admit hanging up and bursting into tears telling Sam I didn't want to lose all my baby pictures of the six oldest kids ! (Abigail on down are digital pics). Sam assured me that it would take a lot of wind to shift the fire across to our house, rather than downhill, which was the direction the fire was headed by all accounts.

It's always nice to have an extreme optimist in the car when you are racing home to an out of control forest fire in your neighborhood. Just sayin'.

Just as we pulled into Corvallis, our son Jason texted to warn us not to try to go back home - Walnut street was bottle necked, as cars and people were trying to get out of our neighborhood. Mackenzie called to say she had the kids and was on her way to Jason and Naomi's. Sam, of course, took a different route so that we could see for ourselves that our house was safe.

 He may or may not be known for heading into danger rather than away from it, at any given moment.

We drove up to our house (the back way) and saw that the sprinklers were on in full force. Count on Caleb to think of something like that before evacuating the house.

Sam and I left the kids in the van and ran inside to grab pillows and toothbrushes. Because, you know - if you have to go spend the night at your kids' house, you want to have your little creature comforts. I grabbed - you guessed it - my tea and stevia. Girlfriend will have her tea NO MATTER WHAT.

We got back in the van to hear a tearful Jackson telling Abigail he "just wanted the people of Timberhill to be safe." I was SO proud of my little seven year old, thinking only of others' safety, and here I was, crying over my baby pictures. And then Abbi told me how five minutes before, Jack was wailing to "PLEASE JUST GO GET MY IMAGINEXT TOYS !!!!!!" and I felt a bit more human.

It really is crazy what your mind does when you're faced with losing it all. Kids safe ? Husband safe ?  Baby pictures safe ? Okay, grab my teabags and stevia. And the toys. We're good to go !!

The rest of the night was spent waiting at Jason and Naomi's, listening to what news we could get, watching twitter, texting friends and family, and debating whether or not it was safe to go back home.

Kenzie finally decided to drive back over to our neighborhood to see if the fire department had things under control... Sam and I followed, as he declared he just wanted to sleep in his own bed. Even if he was burnt to a crisp doing so.

Okay, he didn't say that last part, but I definitely thought it.

We pulled into our driveway after seeing that the fire had been contained up by our house (the firefighters were still working on putting everything out downhill from us) only to see Josiah and Monique and Macie and their little dogs spilling out of their car in front of us. Apparently they had just been evacuated, along with all the other people living just below the fire... by this time it was one in the morning .

We went in the house ... and read on twitter that the fire was 70% contained... so I went to bed 30% sure our house would catch on fire while we slept on in oblivion.

And I am 100% confident that Sam went to bed 100% confident that we were fine- because he was sawing (non-burning) logs each of the 47 times I woke up to make sure we were all still alive.

Here is a little footage from the aftermath, just to prove that I didn't make all this up ...

Our house is in that neighborhood directly left of the fire. If you zoom in, you can see Sam sleeping soundly in our bed, while I pace the floors, praying. You might even see me glancing over at my snoring husband in disbelief ... but only if you look closely.

Sooooo... it's Monday morning, and if I sniff hard I can still smell smoke.

Which leads me to the real meaning of this post : Scentsy Saves The Day.

As soon as I woke up on Saturday- and every day since then ... which was two more days, but still ... I turned on all my Scentsy warmers, filled with all of my favorite scents ...

... and voila - no more smokey scent at The Rice Ranch !

And in the rooms where I don't have warmers (closets) I just sprayed a few puffs of this :

... and like magic -  our home was once again Scentsational.  (Dang, that was good. Is anyone at Scentsy headquarters reading this ??? I need to write commercials for them or something. Someone get me the President of Scentsy, stat !)

So, just in case any of you had a forest fire sweep past your house this weekend, and today you are battling to maintain a pleasant fragrance in your home... I am bringing you good news - Scentsy can save you. 

And I happen to know a very good Scentsy consultant, who can hook you up.

Isn't she cuuuuute ???

If your house (or car or office) is in need of a little Scentsational pick-me-up, just head over to Lily's Scentsy Store and click on Lily's Basket Party to shop for all your favorite fragrances.

And to show my thanks, anyone ordering from that party will be entered to win a shower gel of your choice ...

... leave a comment telling me you ordered, and a winner will be drawn at the end of the month.

Thanks for shopping - Happy Monday !!

Monday, September 1, 2014

princess garden tea party

Our granddaughter turns one tomorrow... my daughter-in-love threw her the sweetest party on Saturday, and she posted all about it on her blog.

I cannot believe it's been a year since this beautiful baby came into our lives. She has Papa and me wrapped around her little finger, that's for sure. I never knew you could love another baby as much as your own until I had grandchildren :)

Happy, HAPPY birthday, Miss Norah Jane ... we love you to the stars and back !!!

Nana and Norah Jane

Princess Lily enjoying tea and treats

cutest almost-one-year-old on the planet 
princess Macie (granddaughter #2 !!) and mommy Monique 

Auntie Abbi and Niece Norah

my first daughter and my first granddaughter xoxoxo

Hop on over to A Baby Sent From The Stars for more happiness !

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Big Fat Beach Post

Let's see, what's new ?

We are back from a mini vacation to the coast, and I have a desktop full of fantabulous photos to share.

I have my fourth load of laundry for the day in the washer, another in the dyer, and four more waiting in buckets in the entryway. The older middles were in Washington at a water park while the middle littles and little-littles were with Sam and I at the coast ... so lots to unpack here.

I'm babysitting my sweet little granddaughter ... I took her outside to play just before her nap, and when I scooped her up from the blanket I had carefully laid in the grass, a bee decided my arm would be a good place to plant its stinger. Yippee.

I just got Hayden down to sleep and Lily as well... and I really need to take advantage of this little window of time (sleeping babies) ... so I will just post pictures and let them tell the story of how relaxing and fun our mini vacation was :)

And I'll just throw this in real quick before I drop all the photos into this post : a vacation doesn't need to be long or expensive to be wonderful. We left Sunday night after church and got back just in time for our Wednesday night church service. We stayed at the house we always stay at (free) and I cooked the whole time. No fancy places to visit, no rides to go on, no gourmet food, no money spent other than the gas that it took to get us there. But it was heavenly - three days of lovely weather and my five youngest kids all to myself - I couldn't have asked for a sweeter end-of-summer getaway. Just the kind of trip I needed to end this season on a happy note.

don't ask me what I'm doing with my leg there. Apparently I think I'm on the red carpet for a big movie premier or something. 

A little video just for fun ...

hayden went surfing 

nap time !!

Hope you've all had a wonderful summer and soaked up every ray of sunshine you could. ..

....happy almost September !!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

house rules and wrapping things up

Thursday morning at The Rice Ranch, and lots going on.

So much to say, so little time.

We start school in less than two weeks, which for us doesn't involve a whole lot of preparation as far as clothes shopping, new lunch boxes (do people even buy those anymore ??) or school supplies ...which I consider some of the perks of homeschooling.

 Aside from ordering some new workbooks and hitting the Dollar Tree up for a few new pencils, we're pretty much good to go as far as our curriculum goes. We are still going to be using Time4Learning this year and supplementing with ACE Word Building and Bible Reading, as well as using some new writing curriculum I found through Amazon. And as always, lots and lots of reading. Yay for the public library ! Oh and my SIL sent me a link to free history videos by Michael Medved yesterday, and we registered in the nick of time. We're set.

Not so "perky", however : we will start being a little more strict about bedtimes. I am a total night owl, and I can happily indulge that habit during our long summer break ... but all good things must come to an end, at least for nine months of the year here. Back to "early to bed and early to rise" and all that stuff, come September 1st.

 Boo, hiss.

Meanwhile, summer is racing to an end, and we are cramming as much fun into August as is humanly possible. Trips to the city pool, library visits, late nights with our adult kids and grandkids, pear picking and jam making, and everything in between... lots of fun as the count down to school begins.

Oh, and that happy little baby right there ? I am thrilled to announce that Hayden has completely outgrown his needy stage, and has magically transformed into the most contented, go-with-the-flow child on the planet, world without end, amen.

No, really.

It's all unicorn and rainbows at the Rice Ranch.

... until you refuse to give him your ice cream ...

Other important events ....

... our grapes are turning red. Actually, purple. I was truly worried that they were going to be green grapes, and I do not like green grapes. I ate about 127 of them as a child in one sitting and had violent stomach palpitations afterwards for days. (I'm trying to use medical terms here, however inaccurate, because it sounds nicer than "I barfed for days.")

Anyhoot - I'm glad my grapes are purple.

We have about 4 billion of them on our arbor right now ... or is it trellis ? ...

...(that wooden thing with vines all over it under the window there) .... so we will attempt grape jelly in the fall.  (And no, there will not be any wine tasting parties in the backyard - we're teetotalers y'all.)

More exciting news ...

...we got a bed.

About two years ago we finally took the plunge and switched from a queen sized mattress to a king. Best decision of our lives. Well, next to giving our lives to Jesus twenty-nine years ago. But it's a close second.

When you have nine children living at home, and half of them like to sleep in your bed, a king sized bed is truly a worthy investment.

Okay, I jest - maybe only one or two children still call our bed "theirs", but that's enough to warrant an extra foot or so of mattress, wouldn't you agree ? (And all the co-sleeping families screamed a hearty AMEN.)

SO almost two years ago we switched mattresses to a king but could not afford at the time to get an actual bed. Well, not the one I wanted, anyway.

I have been praying for allllllllll these months for a Cherry Wood King Sleigh Bed.

I just typed those words in two seconds flat, because my fingers know exactly where to go ... having typed them into Craigslist's search bar approximately 565 days in a row.

Two weeks ago, I typed them again, hit "search", prayed for the umpteenth billion time and !!! There was a gorgeous, reasonably priced Cherry Wood King Sleigh Bed, waiting just for me.

And there was a lovely little table that matched - EXACTLY the size and style I had written down on my prayer/want list - in the ad as well.

Sam-the-man (he should have been named Jacob for his bargaining skills) made a phone call and negotiated a bit, and today we are the proud owners of a bedroom set. Praise God !!! And  praise Craig, for having the genius to start an online list for cheapskates bargain hunters like me.

A few more photos, and then I have laundry to attack. Story of my life, but hey, the people in my house insist on wearing clothes, so ...

... Lily was selected to be a brand rep for Jude & Fi on Instagram .... check out their sweet hair clips on Etsy if you don't do Instagram - we LOVE how well they stay in !! And they are cute to boot.

And speaking of cute - and totally wonderful ...

... Miss Abigail Joy got baptized last Sunday night.

 She gave the sweetest testimony, and she made this decision all on her own. We are SO proud of our girl, and her desire to live for Jesus.

In case you are wondering what we believe in regards to baptism, it's very simple : it's an outward demonstration of an inward decision to live for the Lord. We don't believe baptism "saves" you, but we do it as a public profession of our faith ... and we let our kids make that decision themselves, so that it is truly their decision, and not ours. We believe in dedicating them as infants to the Lord, and we do that in a special ceremony during a church service. But that just means the responsibility is on us as parents, to raise our kids with Biblical standards and instill in them a heart for God. Whereas baptism is a decision they each make to personally surrender their lives to Jesus. I think it's important for kids to come to these decisions on their own, so that they really own them.

This probably deserves a blogpost all to itself, but just a little mention here : if you grow up in the Rice home, you abide by our rules. Which means, you attend church when we do, you participate in church services like we do (Sunday School, singing, listening to sermons, etc.) and you go with the flow.

I've heard people refer to their childhood as "having religion crammed down their throats", and I think that's a sad way to view things. If you ask any one of my kids, they will tell you that they do what we do because they love it.

We don't cram - we fill.

We fill our home with the word of God, with lots of rules and lots of love and lots of church and lots of Jesus - and when they leave here and venture out on their own, they have their own decisions to make in life. We can't choose their paths for them in life, but for the 18 or so years we have them, we absolutely will fill them with everything we have as far as the things of God go.

And it is a beautiful thing to me that my almost-twelve year old asked us to be dunked for Jesus :)

So there you have it - thoughts on bargain hunting, co-sleeping, homeschooling and theology, all wrapped up into one little blogpost. Because I'm random like that.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my laundry room to keep ...

Happy End of Summer, peeps !!