Thursday, June 25, 2015

summer news... and a special announcement

Hello !

Things have been a little busier than usual at The Rice Ranch ~ more on why in a moment, but first ...

It's officially summer !!!!

Temps have been in the 80's and 90's here the past few weeks, and not one word of complaint has been heard from anyone around me. Having a/c in our house for the first time since we moved to Oregon twenty years ago has helped ! It was unthinkable in Arizona for a house to have no air conditioning, and I'm pretty sure it ran about ten months of the year. Here we really only need it sporadically throughout the summer, but it REALLY does make a difference on weeks like these, where 92 is the norm.

While I have been enjoying the nice cool temps inside the house, my kids have been taking full advantage of the beautiful weather outside : swimming, playing basketball, eating popsicles, bike riding, going to the river to play, you-name-it. They are rarely indoors, and I'm enjoying little breaks of quiet (an extremely rare occurrence in house full of eleven people !) while they are gone.

someone else enjoying a little alone time with her baby :)

Our backyard garden is flourishing with all this sun - tomatoes, potatoes, cilantro, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, chile peppers, zuchinni, and all kinds of lettuces are all in various stages of growth. We are sooo excited to enjoy the fruits of our  Caleb's labors in our evening meals this summer. I've seen dozens of drooling deer eyeing our fresh produce through the sturdy fence we fortified this year ... if you overhear Hayden yelling "Mama throw ROCKS at the deer !" I promise it's just his vivid imagination.

lilies in our backard pond !!

While the older kids scatter in a hundred directions throughout the day, Hayden and Lily are keeping me entertained at home with their daily antics and contagious giggles. These two are so inseparable lately - always finding trouble to get into together, chasing each other from room to room, or whipping up imaginary feasts in their play kitchen. Hayden still hasn't mastered the concept of using kitchen utensils when preparing his culinary masterpieces, but he serves a fabulous "noodles-topped-with-a-baseball" nonetheless.

In other news : I transformed our bedroom balcony into a little garden sanctuary ... what was once just an ordinary wooden deck off our room, is now our own private little space for reading or sipping tea or just lounging in the beautiful Oregon sunshine. Just a few simple additions of flower pots, hanging baskets and garden lights, and I have a new favorite spot - and I'm wondering why I never used this space before !

helping mommy pick out flowers for her patio project

I've spent so many relaxed mornings and quiet cool evenings up there, just listening to the birds singing, enjoying the fresh scents of summer, and gazing at the nighttime stars. Everyone should have their own little quiet space to retreat to, don't you agree ?

So now, my written excuse for my absence of late.

Some other new developments have been going on at The Rice Ranch as well ...

baby fox lovey by The Hill on Etsy and sweet fox crib shoes by A.N.D. on Etsy as well

We are thrilled beyond belief to announce that a new little Rice baby will be joining our family early next February :)

Sam and I were able to see our little blueberry on ultrasound this week (I am seven weeks pregnant) .... I don't know that there's a more beautiful sound to my ears than that of a strong and steady baby's heartbeat.

I promise to share more details about this newest little blessing in the days ahead- for now I will say that he/she is extremely prayed for and planned for and hoped for - and at 47 years old, I know exactly what kind of miracle we have received. I'm in the throes of morning sickness and sheer exhaustion - thus my need for cool indoors temps and quiet little hideaways when hormones and nausea hit hard. But I am so so grateful for this amazing little person growing inside of me ... so much happiness here, it's hard to put into words.

"Behold, children are a gift from the Lord .. happy is the man who has his quiver full of them  !"

Until next blogpost ...

Happy happy summer :)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

donuts, s'mores, and funnel cake, oh my !

Hello, blog friends... it's been awhile !!!

I hope your summer is starting off well ... here in beautiful Oregon we are welcoming temps in the nineties and beautiful cloudless skies this week. We have a full schedule planned around this glorious weather : strawberry picking, swimming at the river, long evening walks and trips to the pool to name a few.

A few weeks ago Sam and I slipped out of town for a few days, leaving our older children at home to hold down the fort. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary at a beach house we found online in Neskowin, Oregon ... we took the two littlest munchkins and had such a relaxing time for five days with nothing to do but enjoy each others' company.

Oh, and eat lots of yummy food :)

While I love vacation, something about being away makes settling back into our routine all the sweeter. Morning chores and homeschooling and afternoon naps, baking and playing and evening meals together and bedtime stories ... all the ordinary things seem so much nicer when we come home.

donuts made for National Donut Day by our resident baker, Abigail

what chocolate chips ?? 

surrounded by babies and grand babies - can't ask for anything better 

adorable fox snuggly by The Hill on Etsy

Our kids have just a week or two of schoolwork left to do before we wrap things up for the summer. I remember things being the same way when I was a child in public school - those last few weeks of school seem to draaaaag by. It's like we lose steam, even though we know the train has to actually pull into the station before we get off and RUN into summer.

Yesterday I gave us all a day off to go strawberry picking - I declared it our end-of-the-year field trip day, because that's the kind of thing you get to do when you are the school principal, teacher, and bus driver all rolled into one.

Other things you get to do when you are a homeschooler : stay up late for impromptu campfires in the backyard and start school at nine thirty the next morning. In your jammies. With s'mores still on your fingers if you feel like it.

By the way, did you read that Michelle Obama would like to encourage all Americans to ditch their beloved s'mores for her healthier version of this national treat ?

^^^ That's Hayden, roasting his yogurt over our fire pit ... just before Kenzie tops it with strawberries (instead of chocolate) and slides it between two graham crackers . Tastes EXACTLY like a s'more- only healthier ! 

now THIS is a great way to eat strawberries. in my humble opinion. 

We are anxiously awaiting her suggestion for how to improve another American treat - The Funnel Cake .

I actually just learned how to make these at home  ... maybe next week the First Lady will tweet some improved version, substituting pureed cauliflower for pancake mix and shredded carrots for topping, but for now we are indulging ourselves on the fattening, starchy, gluten-loaded goodness above. 

Hallelujah and pass the pancake syrup.

Okay, all snarkiness aside (we really don't live on pure sugar alone at The Rice Ranch, but photos of salads and carrot sticks just aren't as appealing as Funnel Cake and donuts. Hope y'all don't report me to The Health Czar.) ... where was I ?? Oh yes, all snarkiness aside ...

Hayden, admiring his big sister's sweet kicks from Hello Moccs 

... I have a serous item I need to mention.

My friend Katrina Morris emailed me asking me to share a video with you all on YouTube. I don't have enough words to describe Katrina's dedication to the cause of the forgotten orphans in Russia.

Perhaps, if we are going to give time and attention to weighty (no pun intended) matters like unhealthy national treats, we could give equal attention to the issue of abandoned and forgotten children ... children who did nothing to deserve their fate, other than arrive in life with an extra chromosome.

Children like my Lily.

I'm asking Lily's readers to take just two minutes and fifty-two seconds of your time, to watch To The Moon and Back on Youtube. And when you're done watching that, perhaps you could take 30 more seconds to "like" this page on Facebook.

Thank you ahead of time for joining with me to remember children like Natasha, who are still waiting for a family to love them and bring them home.

Please pray for these precious children - pray that God would move mountains for them, and pray that Russian families would consider rescuing their own children from the future of life in an institution.

Because every child deserves the love of a family.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

winner winner chicken dinner

Hope you all had a fabulous Memorial Day...

our amazing American Moccs by

The winner of our Apple Watch Giveaway is....


Please contact me with your email so I can get your address and mail you a brand new Apple Watch :)

Thank you to ALL who donated- we still have to add in $100 that came in offline donations, bringing our grand total to $1,660 raised for the Alvarez family - we are so very grateful for this precious family and so appreciate all of you who partnered with us to help them - God bless you all !!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Giveaway extended

Thank you to all who have donated in our Apple Watch giveaway for the Alvarez family ! So far $1,365 has been raised and we are so very grateful .

Earlier this week several people emailed me saying the donation site had been down - I contacted the person in charge of the Go Fund Me campaign for Lee Alvarez and they were able to get things up and running again . Because of this, we would like to extend the giveaway until Monday, May 25. All entries up until midnight on that day will be accepted ... please consider sharing this giveaway on any of your social media sites for an extra entry as well.

Thank you again, and please continue to pray for the Alvarez family.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hope For Lee - Apple Watch Giveaway

About seven years ago, my husband and I drove to Oroville, California, to do a parenting class for several churches in that area. We belong to a fellowship of Christian churches worldwide, and some friends of ours who pastor in Oroville had invited us down for the weekend. I spoke at a Ladies' Tea on a Saturday afternoon, and that evening my husband spoke on parenting - afterwards we did a time of questions and answers, and the next day he preached for the church there.

One of the couples attending the seminars that weekend was Lee and Belinda Alvarez - they have attended our fellowship church in Redding, California for over twenty years.  They have five beautiful children, and over the years Belinda and I have become friends via email and Instagram. 

Belinda started a small accessories shop called JuJuBee Creations, and several years ago she sent me a package of adorable hair bows and skirts and scarves for Lily... she did the same for my daughter-in-love and her sister, who also attend our church here in Corvallis. We were so blessed to receive these surprise packages at Christmas time, and I prayed for a way to bless Belinda back. 

Through a series of emails, I learned that Belinda's husband, Lee, was diagnosed with diabetes 23 years ago. In 2010 he was diagnosed with kidney failure - he was placed on dialysis for several months until his kidneys improved ... four years later his kidneys failed again and he was diagnosed with end stage kidney disease. He was placed on dialysis again - he is currently still on it for the foreseeable future. 

All of this took a toll on Lee's body - he began experiencing circulation problems in his fingers and feet, which led to having three of his fingers partially amputated. He then developed sores on his heels due to poor circulation and lack of blood flow to his feet ... he had several procedures done to help improve circulation, including an artery bypass to the left leg that was unsuccessful. 

Lee, prior to surgery, giving his daughter away 

Lee with his daughter, last year

Because of this, Lee had his left foot and part of his leg amputated two weeks ago. He is now having problems with his right heel- the doctor told Belinda he has a 50/50 chance of saving that foot. He has been on a waiting list for kidney and pancreas transplant but was recently placed inactive due to all the open wounds he has. Once all is cleared, he will be active again. He has accumulated 4 1/2 years waiting time so far. 

Friends, I want to repost some of my friend Belinda's words from Instagram here, because she is a living example of grace under fire. Every time she posts an update on Lee and what he (and she) are going through, she speaks of God's goodness and help and strength- I have never read one word of complaint or despair in all of the years of knowing her. She has never questioned why they are going through things, never doubted that God would take care of them through it all, never expressed one hint of anger or bitterness or regret about where life has taken them.

 Her faith is incredibly inspiring to me, and I am moved by it - I am humbled by it. 

"God is faithful." 

"God is so good."


These words were spoken in the midst of one of the most difficult seasons in my friend's life. 

Belinda, when you read this, I want you to know : you are my hero.

Because of Lee's condition, he has not been able to work for quite some time. He receives disability - $1,000 a month. Belinda has tried to work from home (between dialysis, recovering from surgeries, etc. Lee needs her full time care) but their situation has become desperate. They were not able to renew the lease on their home, and they moved in with her sister and her family. Lee does have medical insurance, but they have accrued medical bills for uncovered procedures and medicines and co-pays... they are just scraping by right now.

Sam and I have been praying for the Alvarez family for quite some time now- and praying for a way to help them. I know the world is filled with intense situations like the one Lee and Belinda are facing right now. I know we can't help everybody we meet who is going through some type of crisis... but we know this family. Maybe we can't solve every problem in the world, can't rescue every hurting child, can't donate to every charity there is out there.... but we can try to meet a need that God has put on our hearts that is right in front of us. We can do our part and ask God to move on hearts to do the same.

Last week, after praying for some time about what we could do for the Alvarez family, my husband came to me with an idea. . . and I am shaking a little as I type these words .... because so far I have only done giveaways for adoptions, and I'm going out on a limb here. But Sam and I feel compelled to help Lee and his family, so here it goes ...

38mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band

Announcing the Hope For Lee Giveaway, featuring a brand new, just released, Apple Watch Sport, valued at $349.

The rules are simple :

Donate to the Alvarez Family on their GoFundME page here :

Donate ANY amount, ten dollars or above, to be entered to win the Apple Watch Sport.

YOU MUST COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE A COMMENT SAYING THAT YOU DONATED TO BE ENTERED TO WIN. (You do not need to share the amount that you donated.)

Because Go Fund Me does not allow giveaways on their site, it is important that you : a) understand that I am hosting this giveaway, and not the Alvarez family. Their Go Fund Me page is being hosted by Belinda's sister, not myself. b) come back here to leave a comment to be entered to win the Apple Watch. We will compile a list of donors based on the comment section here, and verify that donations were made to the Alvarez family.

ADDITIONAL entries in this giveaway will be given for the following :

Share this giveaway on Instagram, using the above photo (or photo of your choice) and the hashtags #applewatchgiveaway and #hopeforlee  (if you are private on IG, screen shot your post and email it to me to verify that you posted it. ) Please leave a comment letting us know that you shared this giveaway there so that you receive an extra entry.

Share this giveaway on Facebook or twitter, and mention it in the comment section below. Please include a twitter username as well as Facebook username, so we can verify entries. Please make sure to let people know they must leave a comment here to be entered to win.

This giveaway will run through May 22nd, 2015, and a winner will be announced the next day. All donations and entries must be recored by midnight on May 22nd to be considered valid.

We will select one winner from our list of entries, and that winner will be selected by using  

You may share this giveaway every day leading up to May 22nd ... please include a comment for each separate entry so that we know how many entries to record. 

Friends, if you've never participated in a giveaway on A Perfect Lily before now, I'm asking you to do so today. I know we might not be able to cover every expense the Alvarez family is facing, but together we can make a difference in their lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and joining with us in donations and prayer- God bless you for your kindness.