Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Twenty nine years ago we welcomed our first baby into the world... he was born just two weeks after I turned twenty, and when I held him in my arms for the first time, I felt like I was a new person. It's hard to describe that transition ... I just know that one day I was a wife, and the next I was a mother - and from that moment forward I was connected forever to another human being... a part of my heart was now living outside of my body.

It doesn't matter that my baby is 29 today - he will forever be "my baby", and no matter where he is or what he's doing, who I am is wrapped up in who he is... and the same holds true with all of my babies.

I've heard people claim that motherhood doesn't define them, but for me that's a perfect description of who my children are to me. They make me who I am. I can do a lot of things in life - invest myself in hobbies and interests and passions - but there is nothing that has a hold on my heart like my children. I'm so grateful - so, so grateful - for the privilege of giving them life.

If you would have told me twenty nine years ago, that this day - March 21st, World Down Syndrome Day -would one day hold another special place in my heart ... I honestly don't know what my reaction would have been. As a twenty year old first time mommy, whose idea of perfection was the tiny golden haired baby she held tightly in her arms ... I truly don't know that I would have embraced my future with wide open arms. I don't know that I would have understood the genuine joy and honor - the privilege ! - of being entrusted with not just one, but two designer gened little girls.

But Lily changed me. And the transformation was just as drastic, just as eye opening, as the one I experienced when Jason was first placed in my arms. If the birth of my first baby opened my eyes to the miracle of life and forever changed the person that I was, then the birth of my tenth child widened that perspective one hundred fold, and made me into the person I am today.

And Madison was just the icing on the cake.

Today, tens of thousands of families across the world are celebrating the GIFT that their loved ones with Down syndrome are.

We celebrate our loved ones, not in spite of their differences, but because of them. Lily and Madison were uniquely created - there was no mistake here, they arrived in life exactly who they were meant to be. I believe that with all my heart.

Today, more than ever, I am so honored to have been given the gift of raising my girls.

In honor of this day, I've joined with my fellow Ds mama and advocate, Krista Ewert, to help promote a very special book she wrote called This Is Ella. You can read more about Krista's project HERE.

To help celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, Krista is giving away one copy of her fabulous book, This is Ella, to one of Lily's readers here on A Perfect Lily.

This book will be available in November of 2017, and the winner's copy will be mailed to them at that time.

To be entered to win, please visit Krista's This Is Ella, kickstarter page HERE, and then come back saying you did so in the comment section below.

For a bonus entry, please leave a comment telling me how Lily and Madison - or others you know with Down syndrome - have impacted your life.

We are so blessed to celebrate this day with all of you - HAPPY WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY !!

Friday, March 10, 2017

everything and nothing from the rice ranch

I needed a title for this post, which is going to be a bit of a smorgasbord of thoughts and photos, so I borrowed one from a dear friend. (Deanna - they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so ... I hope you're flattered.)

Sam has been in China this week, and he will be there until next Wednesday. 

Consequently, we are all staying up too late reading, eating whatever we feel like, staying in our jammies until we absolutely have to leave the house for something, and ditching make-up and hair care for just as long. At least the over-forty and under-two crowd here is...

It's amazing to me how much our typical routines (apparently) revolve around Daddy, or at the very least are influenced by his presence. I have no idea why that is (wouldn't you think I would care a little bit about personal appearance ??) but there you have it. Left to myself, I'm a sloth.

Whatever sense of self esteem I have jettisoned at my husband's departure, however, has been made up for in spades as far as the home improvement department goes. 

Ever since we moved into the house of our dreams almost a year ago, there has been one room that has been a bit of a "sore spot" for me ... and if you saw the gorgeousness God blessed us with this time around, you would probably slap me for even whispering that.

So I hesitate to use the phrase "sore spot" - it really is so trivial in the grand scheme of things - but I am very particular about color in my home.

In fact, if given the choice, I will always choose neutral over color. 

I have the same phobia, if you could call it that, of knick knacks. Or clutter of any kind. I believe this is mainly due to the fact that we have so many PEOPLE living in our home - a dozen of them - as well as our beloved Maltipoo - so to compensate for the abundance of bodies, I have become quite the minimalist over the past few decades. 

My sister-in-law came to visit me years ago, and after a few minutes of visiting, looked around wide-eyed and promptly blurted out: Patti! Where is all your STUFF ?? Because if you knew me when I was in my twenties, STUFF pretty much described my decorating style. If I owned it, it was on display somewhere. Cloth napkins, placemats, greeting cards, the silk flower bouquet from our wedding, salt and pepper shakers, cute matchboxes, ceramic geese, potholders : they were all lined up on stacks of shelves, proudly proclaiming to anyone crossing the threshold of our home - newlyweds live here. 

I was so proud of my stash of STUFF, I don't even think my dishes saw the inside of a cabinet for the first six months of our marriage. In fact, if I remember correctly, Sam and I bought blue and white plastic crates at a garage sale, stacked three by three in our microscopic kitchen, just so I could display my Blue Goose "china" for all the world to see. 

And the crowning glory of the whole look was a row of ... I kid you not ... gift bags from our wedding, nailed to the perimeter of the kitchen walls, sort of like crown molding, only ....not. 

I have no idea what I was thinking, but I do remember vividly the look of astonishment (at the time I mistook it for awe) on a friend's face when she came to a tupperware party I was hosting. 

"WOW. Gift bags, used as border paper ...who'd have thought ?"

I remember feeling so proud - my style, I thought she was implying, was so avant-garde, even a seasoned home-decorator like herself was impressed.

So yes, suffice it to say my taste in kitchen decor has changed over the years, as has my overall decorating style. I don't profess to be any kind of expert, I just know what I like: clean, simple, and clutter-free. For a piece of furniture or knick knack or painting or picture to be displayed in our home, it needs to either serve a purpose, or I have to absolutely love it. I don't want STUFF here, I just want what appeals to me. 

And if something in my home (walls, furniture, bedding, etc.) has color to it, I need to love that color. 

our living room walls and her baby blues - two of my favorite colors in life
other colors that I love - the evening sky in Oregon !

... also vintage reds and tans and blues ... and golden curls as a bonus

if I could just paint my walls to look like this

Which brings me to my "sore spot".

And again, I hesitate to describe it as such, because I am so in love with every single little nook and cranny of the new Rice Ranch, that I feel silly even mentioning it ... but here it is: I am not a fan of green.

I should say that more carefully - I am not a fan of green kitchens.

And maybe I would feel differently about another shade of green ... a happy spring green, or bright and cheerful apple green ... but the particular color the previous tenants had chosen for the kitchen here was decidedly not in that hue. I can say this freely, because I know our landlord didn't care for the shade either - but my brother referenced snot after seeing the color of our kitchen... and he wasn't too far off.

Combine this specific shade of green (and all the other mental images that come with it, including, but not limited to smushed peas, lima beans, and baby poop) with my aversion to colors-in-my-home-that-i-don't-love and you have ... a sore spot. A very sore spot, to be exact.

On top of all this, I would guesstimate that at least sixty percent of my life is spent in the kitchen. And while the beauty of the rest of the kitchen was not lost on me - custom cabinets with fabulous intricate scrollwork, stunning granite countertops and  matching stainless steel appliances, Edison-style hanging lights that I've always longed for - I could not get away from that green.

I actually adore green ...moss green, green firs, grassy greens ... just not booger green. 

So allllll of that to say ... my kitchen got an overhaul this week.


goodbye baby poop - hello white mocha !!!

I do realize that color is entirely a matter of opinion. I've already had two extended family members tell me that they preferred baby poop green over my new white mocha walls  ... and I am fine with that. To each his own, I say!

Also, if any of my readers have kitchen walls resembling my "before'' picture - in other words, ones that would never be compromised should a random toddler decide to wipe his nose on them - more power to ya.

I would never judge a book (or a kitchen) by its color, even if it does bring up vivid memories of the foul tasting lima beans I routinely chewed up and spit out in my napkin, unbeknownst to my parents all those years ago.

I just happen to like white walls.

Moving on to other news ... (because this post is a little bit of everything and nothing) ... I have the sweetest teenagers on the planet. Jon Jon (pictured above) is about to turn nineteen, and he still spends time every day with his younger siblings. I love how much our younger children look forward to the older kids coming home every day - even Madison lights up the moment they come into the room and call her name. 

Jonathan graduated from homeschooling two years ago and has been working several jobs since then. He had to take his GED recently (homeschoolers do not receive diplomas in the state of Oregon) so that he could take a series EKG classes being taught by our second oldest son, Josiah. He just got his results and found out he tested in the top 2% of the nation, at the college plus credit level... he starts classes in the fall at our local community college where he hopes to purse a nursing degree, like our oldest son Jason did. So proud of this boy!

Tyler, age twenty and pictured above with Jon Jon, has been working with Sam for the past year and a half. He is such a charismatic and well mannered young man; my husband is constantly getting calls from clients telling him that very thing. He recently preached at an area youth rally for our fellowship of churches, a sermon called Purpose Driven Youth. Our other children came home telling us what a fantastic job he did ... he and Jon Jon will be "tag-team" preaching for our Sunday night church service since Sam is still in China. Can't wait to see what God has in store for these fine young men!

Caleb turns seventeen this month ... and on top of being my knight-in-shining-armor for transforming my kitchen into a White Mocha Paradise ... he is one of the most talented and well-rounded kids I know. If you've read my blog for any amount of time you know that he is a jack of all trades, and (mom brag moment) master of them ALL. I just helped him put together a 300 word application for Praxis - if you haven't heard if it, watch THIS.  The program fits Caleb to a tee - he is driven, creative, passionate, and one of the hardest workers I know. Whatever the future holds for Caleb, I am confident it's going to be GOOD.

And then there is this beautiful girl. Abigail Joy turned fourteen last September, and she is appropriately named. She has the sweetest demeanor, always looking for ways to help out, always tuning into her younger brothers and sisters, always bringing joy wherever she goes. She has started singing for "special music" at church, as we call it. She has an AMAZING voice, and is learning to play the piano as well. As I type this she is outside with Lily and Hayden, playing on the giant play structure Caleb put together when we moved here a year ago. She is blossoming into a lovely young lady, but she still loves to have fun ... my kinda gal ;)

I will blog more about the younger members of The Rice Ranch in my next post, but this is getting a little photo heavy and I still have more pictures to post!

Continuing on with my theme of randomness for this blogpost, I'm posting pictures of a quick getaway Sam and I took last Friday night to the coast. I turned forty-nine on March 2nd, and we were ending a wonderful week of revival services at our church that night. Sam would be leaving for China on Monday, so we squeezed in this mini vacation in the middle of all the craziness of life... it was only 24 hours but it was SO GOOD.

If you ever visit the Oregon coast, you MUST stay at The Inn at Nye Beach. In twenty-two years of living in Oregon we had never stayed there, but we have vowed to make plans to return, now that we know how incredible it is. The room was divine, - a huge free-standing soaker tub, a gas fireplace, and a balcony overlooking the beach were just a few of the amenities ....

.... but the BEST part was the salt-water infinity jacuzzi for guests to use outside !!

If you have never experienced a salt-water jacuzzi in the rain, while gazing out at the ocean .. words don't do it justice. Sam and I had Mis Bunny with us, and while we were at first skeptical about how she would do in the water - well, just take a look at her face ....

She was in HEAVEN, I tell ya. We stayed in the water for over an hour, and we only got out because check-out time was looming before us. I told God afterwards to please make a note that I need one of these things in the backyard of my mansion in Heaven.... in the mean time, I am counting the days till we can go stay there again !

Just a few more photos and then I need to wrap things up... it is SIXTY TWO DEGREES here in Oregon today, and I promised my little ones we would go for a long walk.

This photo was from just a few days ago. They say if you don't like the weather in Oregon, just wait five minutes ... whoever "they" are, they are right. If nothing else, it keeps life interesting around here!

Okay, sunny skies are calling me, as well as some golden haired babies who can't wait for me to join them outside....


Saturday, February 25, 2017

snowflakes, social media, and secrets from the dollar tree

It's practically March and I forgot to post my Valentine's pictures.

I had them sitting in a draft folder on Blogger and just never added words.

And now I'm on my computer, pulling up the photos and... they looked much better on my phone.

I rarely use a real camera anymore because a) the only camera in this house is Mackenzie's and I have to go up to her apartment to borrow it, as well as text her for permission to use it because b) it's expensive and the last time I used it someone that rhymes with Shmayden knocked it off the desk and broke the $400 lens, and also c) I'm lazy. 

So unless Sammy wants to surprise me with an iPhone7 plus - or whatever it is that my son Jason has that has an EXTREMELY nice camera - I am just going to have to post grainy, sometimes out of focus photos here. Sigh. #firstworldproblems

In spite of these phone photos, our Valentine's celebration was delightful. We had pink heart pancakes and our traditional table of treats, and this year Sammy surprised me with chocolate dipped strawberries as well as chocolate dipped heart shaped shortbread cookies ....sooooo yummy.

Madison wore Hayden's first Valentine's outfit (minus the beanie, she wore a bow instead) and was the cutest cupid I've ever seen.

The day before Valentine's Day I asked Hayden if he remembered how we celebrate the holiday. He said yes - everyone gets a new toothbrush and their own tiny toothpaste !

I have never, to my knowledge, given our kids new toothbrushes or tiny toothpastes for Valentine's Day. Heart shaped pancakes, a table decorated with doilies and candy, sticky notes with promises for dates with Mommy - these are all things our children typically look forward to on February 14th every year. 

But I did not want Hayden to be disappointed (he was SO excited when he told me what he was expecting)... and also The Dollar Tree had spiderman toothbrushes when I went to pick up balloons and streamers. So it wasn't too hard to make his wildest dreams come true.

Lily got into the chocolate chips that were waiting in little red and white dishes on the dining room table before everyone else came down for breakfast. 

side note: I started sprinkling chocolate chips on our kids' pancakes mannnnny years ago and now they actually believe pancakes are naked without them. I'm not even kidding, we were out of them one morning when I made pancakes and nobody would eat them.  #pancakesnobs

Anyhoot, I have a really cute video of Lily with chocolate chips on her face just before everyone came down for pancakes, but I didn't have enough video footage to fill the whole song up. I'll post it  later if I can find it, but like my blurry photos, it's ... less than perfect. 

But it is real life. Which is pretty much how we roll here on A Perfect Lily. 

And that reminds me of something I was pondering the other day.

I was looking at some photo galleries on Instagram- lovely, color coordinating photos that were never out of focus, all forming a coherent display of that user's "brand" - and then I looked at mine. And the contrast was... stark.

And then I peeked in on some well-polished, well-read blogs I visit occasionally, and I noticed the same obvious difference.

And then I read an article on Pinterest about "how to increase traffic to your social media sites" (gain followers on Instagram, boost readership on your blog, get more retweets on Twitter, etc.) and I was like... who has time for this ???

I do understand that some people actually make money off these things, so I'm not saying there's something inherently evil about sprucing things up if you need to ... but sometimes - because I can tend to be a perfectionist - I need to remind myself that comparisons are odious.

Or the thief of life.

Or something .... that I really need to avoid.

In both real life and "online life", I don't really have time for the comparison game, you know?

It's like when my neighbor, many years ago, made a comment about the state of my rosebushes outside. (I should note that his yard looked like something out of Better Homes & Gardens, whereas mine ... was lucky to have the grass mowed each week.) I just smiled, blinked back a few embarrassing tears, and told him, "I'm just trying to keep people alive over here. Some day I hope my yard will look as lovely as yours."

So as I looked at those other impressive blogs and beautiful IG galleries the other day, I (again) smiled and blinked back a few embarrassing tears and gave myself that same little speech. "I'm just trying to keep people alive over here. Some day maybe my (photos, blog, house, wardrobe,whatever) will look like theirs."

Or maybe not.

Because when you are doing important things .... like growing children, and not a readership ... those other things really do need to take a backseat to what's important, yes ?

I also reminded myself that the reason the comparison game fails so miserably for the most part, is that the dynamics of my life are far different than the ones I might view through the (very tiny) lens of social media.

This same principle applies to other areas of life as well - gazing across the lawn at my neighbor's yard, flipping through a magazine and coveting the wardrobe I wish I had, perusing Pinterest and realizing there are a thousand places I've never been, or even just hanging up the phone with a friend and yearning for a simpler life.

I can't keep holding up someone else's apples to my oranges and expecting them to be the same.

And neither can you.

I say this, because lately I have been on the receiving end of a number of emails or texts or direct messages asking me the age old question : how do you do it all?

And I'm absolutely not opposed to offering a little insight into how things operate at The Rice Ranch. If I can help other moms to learn from my mistakes, or share some of the things God has helped me with over the years, I am more than happy to do so. I still reach out to women older and more experienced than I am for wisdom on a host of issues - parenting, cooking, cleaning, you name it - and I'm honored that others would do the same to me.

But I never want to give the impression that we've got this whole thing figured out around here. I don't post pictures of rotting vegetables in my refrigerator drawer, spilled milk/dog pee on my dining room carpet, dirty laundry, bickering children, or overgrown weeds in my backyard. What you see here and on Instagram are just tiny snippets of our lives, and not the whole picture of who we are. And they are the snippets I allow you to see... because honestly, who wants to show the world their dirty laundry?

My family is so different than yours, and even if we shared a few similarities, on any given day we are each going to be functioning under a completely unique set of circumstances ... just as no two snowflakes are the same, so are no two families, in my humble opinion.

I can share some things that have worked for us, but I also hope that when people ask me - how do you do it all ? - they realize that "this" isn't the whole picture.

We have good days and bad days here, days when I managed to keep everyone alive and got the laundry (somewhat) caught up, and I put dinner on the table.... and days when it feels like it's all falling apart.

I'm posting pictures of our Valentine's Day morning because it was fun and sweet, and my children and Sam and I love any excuse to put everything else on hold and celebrate. We are really into holidays here at The Rice Ranch - but if that's not your "thing" there's no rule that says it has to be. 

What I'm really trying to say is:  I'm just running in my own lane here. 

I take average blurry photos on my cell phone, my blog looks homemade because it is, my wardrobe consists of whatever-was-on-sale that random afternoon I had time to run to the mall, my home decorating style could be described as "practical" and "well loved", my Instagram "gallery" is really just a hodgepodge of happy moments in my life....

... and all of that holds true for pretty much everything else going on around here. 

To quote a tagline from a show I've heard before : it might not be a perfect life... but it's our life.

So here's to keeping it real, ditching the comparison game, embracing the life that is ours, and realizing that sometimes The Dollar Tree sells the greatest gifts of all.

took this with my little ole cell phone, no filter. take THAT, Canon 70d !!

Amen, and Happy Saturday.