Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Bunny Birthday

I'm in between two very special birthdays today… Yesterday Lily turned seven and tomorrow our Bunny turns one. In honor of those birthdays being so close together, we celebrated yesterday with one giant bunny themed party. Miss Lily has had princess parties, pink parties, ice cream sundae parties, you name it… so she was more than happy to share her party yesterday with her favorite little sister :)






I always go through a funny little after-Christmas-slump when I am forced to take down my tree and Christmas decor. I'm such a party gal that I don't do well with the "party's over" feelings sometimes. This year I decided to shift emotions during that time to party planning - so while I was physically dismantling decor, mentally I was redecorating in the future. Take that after Christmas let-down!




We decided to host the girls' party in the fellowship hall in our church. Lots of kids means lots of cleanup and this is a simple place to set everything up and not have to clean the rest of my house, before or afterwards. I spent the last week of December hunting down ideas on Pinterest and deals on Amazon, and while I am usually not the queen of Pinterest-like birthday parties, this one was easy to plan. I chose colors for my bunny theme – melon, mint, pink and gold - and found bunny-themed food that was easy and fun to make.








It helps that I have the world's greatest cake decorator as one of my best friends. I found the exact cake I wanted on Pinterest, sent her a picture, and voila. Her cake was aMAZEballs.





It had three layers with raspberry filling inside, and she even made a tiny bunny ears cake to go with it for Madison. I bought this darling little bunny cake stand on Amazon and told Sam it was the gift that keeps on giving… Every year Miss Bunny can use it on her birthday, and I can use it at Easter parties as well! Sam is always generous when you explain that you are actually saving him money instead of asking him to spend it. I've learned over the years to phrase my request this way, and the results have been splendid. (I wish the keyboard on Blogger had the tongue sticking out emoji for such a time as this, but alas you will have to imagine one in your head here.)

we brought madison's little cake home for tomorrow, so it is a little smudged ;)






Kenzie as usual was my photographer/videographer. The blessing about that is that I barely have time to take pictures because I am trying to keep things hopping along at a bunny party (insert cheesy grin emoji here please)...  and besides Kenzie is better at it anyway.



The sweetest part of the party for me is singing to the birthday girl or  boy. I don't know why I always get emotional about this. Actually I do – I am a sappy, emotional person anyway, so basically I am just waiting every day of my life for an excuse to cry, and birthday songs are about all it takes for the tears to start flowing.

Something about this year though… all week I kept telling Sam and the kids - I don't know what my problem is, why am I so emotional about Lily turning seven and Madison turning one? Maybe it's the double punch of my baby really truly transitioning into a little girl, as well as my last baby turning one. Mackenzie and I were looking at photos of Lily meeting Madison for the first time at the hospital last year, and both of us said the same thing – how did Lily grow up so much this year? Maybe it's because she is a big sister to not one sibling but two now? Whatever the cause, the transformation has been so stark. 

So here I go again, even looking at these pictures I'm a blubbering mess. I mean just LOOK at the smile on my girl's face. She absolutely, completely, totally adores being sung to. She just gets so proud and always has the biggest grin on her face… It is such a beautiful thing to behold.



And now as I hold my bunny in one arm and hold my phone in the other and voice text this blog post, I'm going to stop before I start sobbing again. 

Tomorrow my baby… my last baby… Turns one.




See you on the other side !


Monday, January 16, 2017

Seven


In honor of our beautiful girl turning seven today, I'm reposting her birth story. More photos to come, as we have a big day ahead of us ... meanwhile, happy happy HAPPY birthday, Lily Anne! 

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Dearest Lily, 


You're almost 4 months old now..I never thought I could love you more than when I was pregnant with you, but every day since your birth my love for you has grown even stronger. It feels like you've always been a part of our lives. 


I've wanted so many times to write about the day you were born..There's a letter to you about the morning of your birth, but I never finished the story. The moments following your arrival were so busy- and that whole first week in the NICU at Doernbechers was exhausting. Every night I wanted to write about what was happening that day, so I didn't forget about the whole experience. 


There have been opportunities since then to sit down and put into words what happened that day...the day that changed our lives forever. But honestly, I haven't been ready to go there emotionally until now.


The morning of your birth was 3 weeks to the day before your actual due date. I couldn't believe I was in labor- Grammi and Aunt Hopie had arrived from Arizona just the night before, to surprise me at your shower. When I woke up at 5 in the morning with strong contractions, I knew this was real labor. It felt like all my other labors- like there was this cool energy in the air:) But really it was the grace of God, just this supernatural "help", because God knows I'm a big baby, and I need a whole lotta help when it comes to anything to do with a)pain b)needles and c) blood. 


Seriously, Lily, your Mama is the world's biggest baby when it comes to all three of those things. Ask any of your siblings some day. I feel faint if I stab my finger with a knife while slicing carrots and I see blood. I have fainted having my blood taken, and I have been known to scream at a doctor about to inject antibiotics into my hip "I DON'T LIKE YOU!!" . When I was 24.


The fact that I actually love labor and delivery is nothing short of a miracle of God.

The morning of your birth was no different. I already wrote about waking up at 4 in the morning in full-blown labor in another letter. So I'll pick the story up from when we arrived at the hospital..



Here we go..



That day is still so fresh in my mind...I remember the sweet nurse-Rima- coming into the birthing room to check me and get us situated. She was Palestinian, and her head was covered in some sort of cloth. She had the biggest smile, and the most beautiful accent. I liked her immediately, and was I glad I had a nurse with a sense of humor. 



She checked me and said I was dilated to 5...and later when the midwife, Claire, came in, she said I was fluctuating between 5 and 8. Lots of babies makes for a stretchy Mama:)



Everyone started arriving, and the room was getting quite full. Jason and Naomi, Josiah and Mackenzie, Denise and Danielle, Grammi and Aunt Hopie, and Kelly all came in with big grins on their faces. Daddy and I were so happy everyone could be there. The hospital ban on more than 2 visitors (because of H1N1) had just been lifted 5 days before. 



My labor tape was playing in the background..I've used the same worship tape in every labor except Jason's- it's called I Exalt Thee, and just hearing that tape puts me back in those birthing rooms; the music literally transports me instantly in my mind to the births of my children. 

Although I was so excited and happy, I could not make myself relax. It wasn't that I was in pain- God helps me so much in labor that I mostly just feel pressure with each contraction, but very little pain. But for some reason I could not stop shaking. Rima and Daddy tried to get me to calm down by reassuring me that everything was going smoothly....but those dumb legs of mine would not listen.



Remember when I had my ultrasound and learned that there were some markers for a chromosomal problem, and also a possible heart condition? My legs kept shaking just like then, and my heart was racing- even though I felt calm in my mind- my body had a way of exposing the stress beneath the surface.



I prayed, I took deep slow breaths, I prayed, I hugged Daddy, I prayed...but I could not stop shaking.



Because I knew...deep down, I knew that I would be seeing you face to face, and all the months of waiting and wondering about who you were, they were coming to a close. This was the moment I had been lying awake at night anticipating. And although I didn't want to admit I was afraid- have I told you I don't like admitting weakness, Lily?- well, my body wanted everybody to know. I hate not being in control- I hate that feeling of panic that washes over me in waves. 



So I asked the midwife what she thought about getting an epidural..to help me calm down..She said if I did, they would break my water, and I'd probably have you twenty minutes later. That did it for me- I just wanted to finally have you in my arms, and have all the waiting over with.



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It took a little bit for the epidural to kick in. Even after I was numb I was still shaking. Rima took my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes and said "We can't do this for you- you're going to have to take control yourself." Claire came over and sat on the bed and asked me how I was feeling. I started crying and said I was just upset about being afraid and I was tired..emotionally drained. Claire was so sweet- she held my hands and said "This has been a long pregnancy for you, hasn't it?" I nodded and kept crying, but it was a relief to admit-I'm not all that strong.



Lily, I'm the woman who loves pregnancy, I begged your Daddy in every previous labor to please, please let me have just one more baby. I live for having babies, I love every part of pregnancy, I love labor and delivery, I get HIGH in labor and delivery for crying out loud.



But I was done. Done with the roller coaster ride this pregnancy had taken me on. I just wanted the moment of truth to come, and to move on with whatever the future held for us. 


Daddy prayed with me again- Denise came over and prayed as well..and pretty soon I started to calm down. In fact I felt a tangible peace come over me- like a warm blanket of peace, just enveloping me and letting me know everything was going to be alright.



I'm sure the medicine had something to do with things...but I do believe God put His arms around me, and carried me through the hours to follow. There's no other way to explain how I felt. It's one simple word, really...



Grace.



I heard it preached long ago, that the grace of God is not always something you can feel until you are going through something. So many times we try to anticipate- how could I ever go through this scenario or that situation. But as Christians, we can have that confidence, that although we don't know how the grace of God can be so present, so tangible, in our moments of crisis- it IS. It is not something we conjure up ourselves, it is not simply "mind over matter"- it is not anything we DO ourselves. Grace is God Himself reaching down and carrying us through, when we don't have the strength to get through something ourselves.
Once I started experiencing that grace, I was so ready to meet you, Lily. I wanted to hug everyone in that room and tell them how much I loved them. One by one, all of my dear, sweet, wonderful loved ones hugged me, while Danielle snapped pictures, and Kelly video-taped..








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Right after we took pictures, I felt alot of pressure. Claire checked me and said "Let's have a baby!" She had already coached Kenzie on what she needed to do- we had planned months before that your sister would deliver you. Rima helped Kenz get her scrubs on. She looked radiant and so, so excited.


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Jason and Josiah stood at the head of my bed..Daddy and Rima were on each side, and everyone else gathered around. I could hear my music playing in the background, and I just felt incredible adrenaline...every time I looked at Kenzie she had the biggest smile on her face, but her continual gum smacking told me she was nervous too.


Just a few pushes, and I remember someone saying you had a little hair..one more push, and you were out..Suddenly the room was filled with cheers and laughter and I heard Daddy's voice, love-filled, proclaiming happily "She's looking all around! Oh, her eyes are wide open!!" Kenzie was holding you, grinning, and I couldn't stop laughing and crying at the same time. I couldn't see you, but the laughter and voices of everyone in that room just oozed with joy, and Daddy looked so happy, I knew you were beautiful.

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I had a blanket draped over my legs for privacy, and as Claire took you from Kenzie, I tried to see you over the blanket..she lowered you onto the bed and still I couldn't see you, but Daddy kept saying how he'd never seen our babies look all around like that, and how cute you were. I just wanted to hold you and look at you!

Claire said you were breathing, but she wanted to move you over to the warmer where the pediatrician and respiratory techs could look you over, because you weren't crying, As soon as she lifted you up to move you, you let out a cry, and everyone laughed.
She held you up for just one moment...
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..and I knew. Lily, you were beautiful, you were so sweet and tiny...and Mama loved you instantly, and her heart broke at the same time. I saw your sweet little eyes, and your tiny arms, and I knew my baby girl had Down syndrome.


And let me tell you, that no amount of preparation - had I known ahead of time- would have prepared me for the love that I felt instantly for you-- the protective, instinctive, all consuming Mommy-love that I felt in that moment.

I just wanted to hold you, and tell you that I loved you, and that it would be alright- Mommy loved you no matter what.But Claire whisked you over to the warming table, where a team of hospital staff gathered quickly around you.



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And slowly the excitement started to die down, and as the doctor and nurses worked on you, I started to feel the mood was changing, Danielle was taking pictures of you at the warmer, and still I just wanted someone to hold you up, or move the table over to me, so I could see you, but they couldn't... because you were turning blue.

I kept asking "Is she alright?" and everyone kept reassuring me that you were...but I saw the looks on everyones faces, and I knew no one really knew. Mackenzie went over to the table and looked at you. I saw her whisper something to Danielle..and she looked so frightened, and like she was about to cry. Danielle brought her camera over and showed me the picture she had just taken of you, and I kept laughing and crying, because you looked so sweet and beautiful, and through my tears I saw Mackenzie examining you closely.

Claire came over to my bed and knelt down..She took my hand, and I said "I know she has Down syndrome." Claire smiled- such a sweet, sad smile- and said "Yes. I knew when she came out.." as I nodded and smiled and cried and said "It's okay"..did I think I was comforting her? Because I was so happy and so sad all at the same time- and still my fierce, protective self did not want anyone feeling sorry for my fragile, beautiful baby girl.
Daddy was watching everything they were doing to you- listening to your heart, holding oxygen to your face to keep you pink..Mackenzie came over to my bed..and smiled..and her face broke into the saddest look..and I said "It's going to be okay" , because I knew she knew. And she collapsed on my chest and started sobbing.

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My sweet, brave daughter, she knew from the moment she delivered you, but she's just like her Mama, she smiled and held it together...until she couldn't. I've asked her what she felt in those moments, and she says it was mostly shock. Because all along she never wanted to believe you might have Down syndrome. She says she pushed that little thought to a corner of her mind and wouldn't look at it.

So I held her and stroked her hair, and talked to her through her sobs, and tried to fit in all the words I knew, to take away that shock and grief, even though really, only time can heal some pain.
I remember thinking- I can't cry, I have to be strong because my babies need me, my grown-up babies, I'm still their Mama, and I don't want them to hurt more by seeing me cry. And I wanted everything to stay happy- I didn't want who you were to be a sad thing to anyone.

And in the background I could hear Josiah crying..and I never want to hear those cries again. It's not fair to hear your almost 20 year old son sobbing, to know that you just can't fix it all... The pediatrician said they needed to move you to the NICU ..more words I didn't want to hear..but they would let me hold you for a few minutes. And when they placed you in my arms, every single bit of pain and sorrow and grief vanished instantly-



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Because when I held you I felt exactly as I did when I first held all your brothers and sisters- that I would give my life for you if I had to. Love, pure love, and overwhelming gratefulness is what I felt. You were here safely, you were alive and beautiful, and perfect, and you were my Lily.



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It's late now, Lily..almost two in the morning, our very first Mother's Day together. I have more to write about the rest of that day, but it will have to wait for now.
If anyone would have told me a year ago, in the first weeks of my pregnancy, that I would have a baby with special needs...I don't know that I could have handled it.
But that's what the grace of God is all about- His grace is more than sufficient in our weakness. He is able to take us through things we never thought we could make it through and still be okay.
More than okay. Because life with you just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter, dearest Lily. You are Mama's best gift, next to salvation, and I will never stop thanking God for giving me YOU, my precious, wonderful, perfect Lily.

Love always,

Mama oxox

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Small Steps Towards a Happier Life




It's only been a week since I last blogged and I'm blogging again... talk about a good start for the new year ! 

By the way, if you didn't catch it, that post, entitled "My Last Blogpost", was actually not my last ... as in never going to blog again... but it was my last blogpost for 2016. If you read alllll the way to the end you knew that. And if you didn't - now you do. 



Thank you to everyone who left a comment on that post telling me your "one little word" for 2017. I loved hearing your goals and hopes for the future! I did notice that nobody chose the word chocolate for their New Year's goal… as in eat more chocolate. I think that's a little sad, and so I'm just going to go ahead and choose that for my second word. There are enough non-sugar, whole foods eating people in the world, I am quite sure, which is maybe why nobody chose that word? Such a tragedy. In light of this, I have decided that somebody's got to fill this role, and it may as well be me. You're welcome. 

that's me outside, sneaking some chocolate

Another goal I have for the new year : better blogging.  And by better I mean less rambling, but more often. Maybe I will not get so behind on blogging if I remind myself that not every post must encompass all of the deep ponderings of life that are going on in my brain at the moment. There's nothing wrong with a few random pictures and some lighthearted thoughts. It doesn't have to be all or nothing! 




I have noticed this about myself over the years  ... an all or nothing approach to life usually means I default to nothing.  This applies to blogging, but to so many other areas as well.

Are you like this too ? Or maybe you know someone like this? 

coconut is like this :"give me allllll the toilet paper"


Here's how all or nothing thinking works (and these are not necessarily personal examples, but things I have observed or heard people say):

I don't have time to get my house organized, with a place for everything and everything in its place. I'll just keep functioning with things the way they are, always looking for the scotch tape, the scissors, the suntan lotion, my keys ... or any other item of importance.



Or this ...

We will never be able to go on the vacation our dreams because we can't afford it. 

I will never be in shape again because I'm a mom, and I don't have time to go to the gym. 

"who needs a gym when you've got one of these bad boys ??"


My family can't eat healthy because my kids and husband would rebel. And besides, all the food nazis I know really irritate me. I don't want to be one of them. 

I don't have time to read my Bible and pray every day - I barely have time to take a shower as a mom, let alone focus on my spiritual life. 

My life is too crazy to ... start a new hobby, read a new book, go to church, make a new friend ... (fill in the blank) ... 

You get the idea. 


our frozen fountain at the rice ranch

Thinking that we can't do it all - or do something specifically in its entirety - usually means we do nothing. At least that's pretty true for me. 

But here's what I have also learned... something is better than nothing.


"please just give me SOME of the chicken wings, daddy ?"

Some exercise- even it's just fifteen minutes a day of walking briskly or getting on a treadmill - SOMETHING ! - is better than nothing. Because over time, those minutes add up, and pretty soon I'm finding that I have more energy, more tone to those flabby calves, and yes, more motivation to do ... well, more!



abba doing her daily twirling exercises 


Making a few, realistic changes to our diet (limiting sugar, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking water instead of juice or soda) is better than doing nothing at all to help my family form good eating habits. We don't have to buy into the latest all-or-nothing food craze (because in almost thirty years of parenting I have seen them all come full circle ... several times!) to make some meaningful and PRACTICAL changes.

These small, but time-tested changes are the kind that will last for a lifetime, and they won't have to be jettisoned with the next new food fad that comes along. 


jon jon eating some good old fashion bacon and eggs

(And yes, this includes eating more chocolate. Because chocolate is a vegetable, hello!) 

Some steps towards organizing my house is better than nothing at all. No time for a massive overhaul ?? Baby steps, people. Take one area a week - or even one small project a day - and focus on that. Make a list of the places in your house that need help: the laundry room, the pantry, the junk drawer, the area under the kitchen sink ... and take half an hour each day to attack those places. It may take several months ... or even a year ... to create "a place for everything and everything in its place". But then you'll have the rest of your life to reap the benefits of those small but consistent efforts. And as things start to default towards clutter again, you can reorganize as you go. Because let's face it - that thirty minutes a day organizing means thirty minutes less looking for lost keys ! 



"I know those keys are here SOMEWHERE!"

Let's keep going ...

Some prayer and Bible reading time first thing in the morning is better than nothing at all. Even if it's just fifteen minutes before my kids wake up, this is time well spent. Spiritual food is like physical food - the satisfaction you feel afterwards makes you crave it again. Filling your spirit gives you an appetite for more spirit-filling food. I've found that those little moments, even if they weren't the hour I had hoped for, inspire and motivate me to make time for more ... and before I know it I'm scheduling my morning devotion time in, rather than "hoping" it magically happens. 




Some savings towards that special vacation we've been dreaming of forever is better than no savings. For example: if you took $50 a month and put it in a "vacation fund", in one year you would have $600. Not much maybe, but think of it as a down payment on a trip to Hawaii. Five years down the line, you have a nice little pile of cash - or more if you add to that fund every time you have some extra money - and you've got yourself a sweet little condo on the beach with the love of your life for a week! (Our 30 year anniversary is this year and you bet your bikini we have been saving for such a time as this ! Okay, not a bikini, because I never wear them, but definitely a cute tankini with a big touristy floppy hat for fun. That I can swing.)

caleb wearing his Northwest bikini


Where was I ?

Oh yes ... baby steps ...

Don't have time to read a book ? Read a chapter each night. No time to invest in a hobby ? Take an hour each week to do something you love. No time or energy to entertain weekly? Have people over twice a month ... or once a month ... some time for friends or new relationships is better than none at all. 

I just wrote about a number of areas where all or nothing thinking can hurt us ... or at the very least hinder us from making changes in life that will benefit us. 

Here is one though, that deserves your all ....



... giving your heart to Jesus. This is one area that merits a complete surrender. We can justify a "something is better than nothing" mentality in so many situations - organizing our houses, changing our diets, setting money aside for vacation, etc. But giving my heart to Jesus - my whole heart, not little pieces of it - was the best decision I've ever made in my life. 

Does that mean I've never had times of doubt or struggle ? Does that mean I've never experienced seasons where I questioned that decision ? Times when I wondered if maybe the "crowd" was right when it told me at age seventeen that my new found faith and commitment to Jesus Christ was too radical, too much, and really I just needed to remember: "everything in moderation, Patti" ?

Of course not. 

Every act of radical commitment or unashamed devotion in life will be challenged or questioned - or sometimes even derided - by those who choose the path of least resistance. That's just life. Especially in this day and age. Couch potatoes don't like to listen to Cross Fitters preach about their passion for sweating and taking it to the next level. Why ? Because we're convicted.  (Lol, speaking from personal experience here!) It goes against human nature to watch someone else completely surrender something - whether that's physically or spiritually speaking - and then give them a high five. Most of the time we'd rather scorn what we don't understand or experience ourselves. 



So my choice to "give my life to Jesus" as a teenager was not met without opposition... even when it was my own struggling faith. But 32 years after praying that prayer of repentance, the one where I handed my mess of a life to God and said "I don't know what you want me to do with this, Jesus. Please take it - all of it - and fix it" ... 32 years later and I have not one regret for giving Him my all. 



Because by giving Him the big things - namely, my heart - He has access to the small things. He helps me make those changes, take those baby steps, in every other area of my life. And because I am trusting Jesus - daily - to save me and make me who He wants me to be ... I don't have to worry about getting all those other areas right. I can take small steps towards improvement in whatever it is in life I want to accomplish, and leave the rest to God. What a relief ! I don't have to be perfect. I can trust in Jesus. 




And now it is late Sunday morning – one of those very few Sunday mornings I am not in church because we had to cancel due to an ice storm! - and I need to go start lunch. 

I have lots of small changes planned for 2017… How about you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section, telling me just a few things you plan to improve on in the coming year.


I'm off to eat some chocolate! 


Friday, December 30, 2016

my last blogpost

It is the Thursday after Christmas, and things are moving pretty slowly here at the Rice Ranch. Madison was up before any of the other children this morning… Sam and I took her out to the living room to play, as her baby babbling is loud enough to wake up Hayden and Lily these days. We had been sandwiched in between the three of them in our bed, and as soon as Madison started chattering, we knew she wasn't going back to sleep. Baby bunny is loud.



We wedged ourselves together into the big armchair in our living room, Madison sitting on Sam's lap and me curled up beside him. For twenty minutes we sat there, in the quiet of the morning, listening to Madison talk and soaking up her sweetness.


 I know I've said this here before with Hayden, because I really did think he was our last baby… but knowing Madison is truly our last just makes us appreciate her all the more. 





I feel like I have to qualify this, by saying that every single baby we've had has been loved and appreciated and valued. Every single baby I have said to Sam – this might be our last baby, let's make sure to enjoy every little moment of their babyhood, OK? 




And yet I'm sure there have been moments I have missed… Because sometimes life just has a way of interfering with our desire for things to slow down, for busyness not to invade, you know? I'm sure that if I had the chance to do it all over again there are things I would intentionally push off my plate to make room for enjoying what is right in front of me. In hindsight there were many times when I could have been soaking up the moment rather than planning planning planning for what was ahead. 





But I am thankful for wiser, older moms who gave me wisdom years ago, when Jason was a newborn: enjoy these moments, because before you know it that baby will be a man. 




(Jason and his wife have some exciting news, and you can go HERE to read all about it!)


Don't let the day's troubles weigh you down so much that you don't savor these moments when your children are little. 


date with Jackson

miss bunny, enjoying the tree !!



Looking back, I am grateful that (for the most part) I heeded their advice, even if there were times when I forgot it. Although there were days when all I could think about was bedtime, counting down the hours till I had some moments to myself... I am thankful that the words of those moms were always at the back of my head. Those morsels of truth, spoken by moms who had experienced them theirselves, were there to remind me that life is like a vapor and before I knew it, my babies would be having babies of their own.
  
my babies and my grandbabies

I'm sure I'm not alone in this – the days after Christmas always make me a little nostalgic. 

Maybe it's because things have finally slowed down for the month... all the planning and shopping and anticipation and festivities and excitement have crescendoed, and now in this quiet space afterwards there is room to think and breathe and ponder.


 And maybe it's the prospect of a new year before me…goals for the days ahead swimming around in my brain, hopes and dreams of what I want this next year to look like... Madison turns one next month and I'm deep in the throes of planning a party for both her and Lily, as their birthdays are only two days apart. I've spent the last few days reflecting on how quickly this year has passed since she entered our lives, realizing that this is the last time we will celebrate a "first" birthday, at least for one of our own babies.


Or maybe it's a combination of all of the above . 

But whatever the reason, this time of the year always makes me a little sentimental. 


north pole party I did for the kids in our church


(video credit : Mackenzie)


I'm not going to call it after Christmas blues, because blue is not really the true color of what I'm feeling this week. It's not sadness, or let down… it's more a feeling of gratitude mixed with a desire to do it all over again. It's a feeling of wanting to make sure I'm doing all of this right… hoping I am living out the words of those wise moms before me by enjoying and appreciating this season of life when I have little ones in my home.







Hayden is three right now, which is just about my favorite age for children at Christmas. He was old enough to know what was coming this month  – constantly poking at his presents under the tree and counting down the days until he could open them… and young enough to have a sense of awe and wonder at the magic of it all. I lost count of how many times I said to Sam - wouldn't you love to be three at Christmas again? I want to go back and feel what he felt this month - because it was evident to all of us what he was feeling. The look of wonder in his eyes on Christmas morning… the grin on his face when he saw that Santa had filled his stocking and eaten the cookies we'd left out for him… The excitement in his voice every morning until Christmas when he asked what our elf Flannery had done the night before....




There are few things sweeter than experiencing the joy of Christmas through the eyes of your child. In a year and a few months I will be fifty ... FIFTY!! ... but watching my little boy's wonder through the holidays made me feel like a child again. 

church Christmas village we hosted 







(Christmas morning video, again created by Mackenzie)



And then there was Lily .. she is turning seven next month, two days before her sister turns one. It hardly seems possible that seven years have flown by as quickly as they did - our baby is a big girl now. And yet there is still such an innocence to her, such a sweet and tender spirit, and watching her joy throughout the month of December made me wish she would never grow out of that awe. 




So I guess what I'm trying to say – and as usual I am a bit rambling in saying it - is that I don't want to lose that either. I don't want to lose my sense of awe and wonder at what God is doing in my life right now. There is a place for reflecting on and pondering and appreciating the past. There is certainly a need to plan and set goals and strive for better things in the future.

But in the midst of all that – I want 2017 to be the year that I am intentionally present. 

first snow of the year at the rice ranch

I want to purpose in my heart to enjoy every day, whatever it brings me. I don't want any worries about the future or regrets about the past to rob me of all the miracles that are happening today. Let's be real – there are always going to be things we wish we did differently. There are always going to be things on our to do list for tomorrow… bills to pay, meals to plan, appointments to be made, parties to attend... I just don't want to be in a hurry to get there. I want to make sure that I am present for those I love. Present for my husband, present for my children, present for those I love... I want to be fully present and aware and appreciative of all the Lord is doing in my life today.


jackson's tenth birthday


And now it is Friday after Christmas. Tomorrow is the last day of 2016, and the future is bright with promise. I'm writing this scripture down as my motto for the new year, and writing it in my heart as well ...


This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24


It's my last blogpost for 2016, and I really would love to hear from you... what is your "word" for 2017 ? If you could choose just one little word, what would it be ?

Mine is "present"... what is yours ?



See you next year !!

Xo Patti