Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Newsflash: just for the next 50 minutes Hello Moccs are on sale for 50% off ....

Originally HelloMoccs were on sale for 30% off , in honor of Earth Day.

Due to a glitch in the website, some customers had a little trouble at checkout... and HelloMoccs is now offering a SORRYSALE to make up for any trouble folks encountered ordering. Hurry over to www.hellomoccs.bigcartel.com to grab you half-off moccs !!

Use code SORRYSALE at checkout for the next 50 minutes to get your discount.

And the cutest pair there ??

The Lily Mocc !!

The Lily Mocc is made of gold leather and embellished with silver hearts.
These genuine leather baby and toddler shoes are the perfect combination of comfort and durability. With elastic openings, these soft-soled moccasins offer ease in putting them on and taking them off of little wiggly toes. The best part? These moccs are temper tantrum proof! The flexible elastic opening also serves as a secure fit for those little kickers.

Named in honor of our girl, this beautiful namesake mocc is now available at www.hellomoccs.bigcartel.com.

Hurry and get your pair today !

Saturday, April 12, 2014


It's Saturday and things are quite busy at The Rice Ranch. We leave Monday for our annual Northwest Bible Conference in McMinnville. We packed as much as we could on Thursday, made a run to Walmart that night for socks and underwear ...why does it take a week out of town for me to realize two little boys have only two pairs of hole-less socks between them?? ... and today I'm doing the last of the pre-conference laundry.

We come home Saturday, and the next day is Easter... which leaves me a few hours Saturday night to fill a dozen Easter baskets, decorate eggs, attack laundry from a week of hotel living... and try to keep the house clean, because my mom arrives Sunday night from Arizona.

I just had a thought : Mom, let's just agree that my house is going to look like a war zone when you get here, and call it good. I mean, if you can't let your hair down... or leave your suitcases in the hallway ... around your mom - well then, who can you do it around ?

Anyhoot ... I only have a few moments on the computer. But I did want to share a few pics taken with my new phone, because as Sam promised, the upgrade to a 5c was indeed spectacular.

Photos taken on my iPhone 4 ...

and just half an hour later with my iPhone 5c ...

... see the difference ? You can actually SEE the clear snot dripping down Hayden's nose, and all the dirt on Lily's shoes, and the slobber on Hayden's shirt... these things would be missing from photos taken with my iPhone 4, and that would be tragic. #firstworldproblems

In all seriousness, I do think there is quite a difference, and for a free upgrade this month (thank you Verizon) I'm impressed.

Okay, two more items to mention, and then I have to finish up my laundry.

I love weight watchers. I just felt the need to share that. I've lost the last of my baby weight this month- ten pounds - in less than four weeks. Not by any fad diet, not by excluding dairy, meat grains, chocolate, and oxygen  ...I just ate less. Shocking, I know. Less food = less weight. Isn't it weird how those things work ?? And I don't even go to the WW meetings (not because I don't want to, because I'm cheap), I just use an ancient sliding scale calculator thingy (thank you, Danielle) and I choose healthy foods.

And yes, chocolate is healthy. In moderation. 1 Patti 3:9 - look it up.

But for reals- I am now in my size 2 pre-Hayden jeans, and I just feel better. Happy wife equals happy life, and a post-baby flabby Patti makes everyone around her miserable. Ask my family.

So yay for looooots of vegetables and fruits and thank GOD for whoever invented Fiber One bars, because I don't know how I ever existed without them in my life prior to now. They taste like a candy bar and they ARE ONLY ONE WEIGHT WATCHER POINT !!!!!  Excuse me, I am a little zealous about my Fiber One Bars.

And that meal you see pictured above ? A lean cheeseburger with only the bottom half of a bun and loaded with red onions, pickles and tomatoes ? And that scrumptious pile of asparagus seasoned with lemon pepper and a little garlic salt ?? It's only 7 WW points. And it's so filling and yummy, and I still had points left over for a brownie and a glass of milk for dessert.

Three cheers for Weight Watchers. And I didn't even get paid to say that.

No beach body pictures coming to the blog any time soon, and I don't want to be anybody's coach. I just wanted to share my little victory publicly, because it was fun to set a goal and achieve it. And if you see me at conference, please don't tell me - "hey you look SO much skinnier than the last time I saw you"  - because I'll probably cry. Just smile and say "praise God for Fiber One Bars" and I'll give you a thumbs up.

Okay, last on my list of Things To Blog About Before I Leave For Conference... but certainly not least ... In fact, if you just skipped over the words in this post until now, and just looked at the cute pictures of my kids....


Please... please read these words, from my dear friend Katrina.

Here is a trailer to a new documentary that has been done showing the life of orphans in Russia and what has happened because of the adoption ban. 

The objective of the film is to draw attention to the orphan problem in Russia. The hope is for it to be seen world wide so that everyone can work together for the good of the children. 

Stereotypes between the two countries need to be broken down so that we can all come together to find a solution to help the children.The children can't just be victims of misunderstands between adults. The leaders should come to some progressive decisions. 

It is very important that anyone who is concerned about the cause like the FB page Children of the State and become involved in the discussion. This page is for all Nations to come together for the Russian children. We need to show that people are still concerned about the children and work together to find a solution. 

The documentary will only be shown in film festivals if a large interest is shown for the cause. 

Please watch the trailer here and like the FB page. 

More trailers will be coming on the FB page. 

Katrina - the mama featured in this video - was in the process of adopting Natasha from Russia when the ban on American adoptions occurred. She has never stopped advocating for the forgotten orphans of Russia. I met Katrina in California last year, and I can tell you she has a heart of gold.

Please pray for the Russian orphan crisis. Because it is a crisis, no matter what some political leaders would have us to believe. Pray for Natasha and Albina and Artem and Olga, and all those who have been left in institutions to live out their years, without families or love. The links Katrina provided above give more information about discussions that are going on now concerning these issues. Please take the time to click on these links and show your support for those who are still advocating for a solution to these issues. And thank you, Katrina, for never giving up on these beautiful children.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy Friday !!

Just a lil' warning here..  these photos (and most of the recent ones too) are taken with my phone, and are therefore pretty grainy. Today Sam is upgrading me to an iPhone 5c (and somehow doing it for free, because he's Sam like that), and he promised me the camera on it is SO much better. We shall see.

On top of this- Kenzie's camera met with disaster a few weeks ago, and she has now upgraded to a Canon 70D. Prepare to be amazed at the quality of pictures coming from The Rice Ranch in the days ahead. She also quit her job as a barista to pursue her photography dreams full time. She is still nannying... is nannying a word? ... she's still a nanny, but she is also seeking to fill her summer with photo shoots for locals. If you are in need of an awesome photographer who works well with families and children, shoot me an email. I'll hook you up.

In other news...we have a granddaughter due to arrive in two weeks. I might be a tad excited. Okay, in reality, I am beyond freaking excited and wildly ecstatic at the thought of watching little Macie Blair make her debut this month. Josiah and Monique are about to enter one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and exhausting seasons of life...I wish I could do it all over again. Something about that first baby experience- the newness of it all, the wonder, the "I-can't-believe-we-are-parents" feel of it all... I absolutely love it. And miss it. So I'm going to live vicariously through all of my kids for the next 30 years or so. That's the cool thing about being a Nana- you get to enjoy all the sweetness and loveliness of a new baby ... and you get to sleep. Yay !

Okay, a few more pics to post, and then I have a pancake festival to attend to. Which is really just a glorified way of saying I have to make breakfast for my kids right now. There are going to be pancakes for the multitudes, unlimited, and sprinkled with chocolate chips. But they're ten-grain,  so that makes them healthy, right ? And maybe pretend that extra grainy photos means something wonderful too, while you're at it.

We had fun with sidewalk chalk yesterday. The weather suddenly decided to turn into SPRING last week, and as a result we have been spending as much time outside as humanly possible.

These were taken in our backyard. Which is now known as my second living room. For reals, I am going to do everything out there in the months ahead : homeschool, eat meals, fold laundry... I love my backyard.

 Picture this with beautiful Koi fish inside. Instead of 500 tadpoles. And picture some gorgeous grapes hanging overhead. At least that's what we hope those brown vines are going to morph into.

Our garden is coming along quite nicely... more pictures to come in the days ahead, as the only one I have on my roll of phone photos is extremely grainy. Plus Lily has a mouthful of tortilla in it, and it's not attractive.

Monique, Mackenzie, Lily, Abbi and I went for a long spring walk the other night. It was magical. We found the cutest little tree swing right across the street behind our house, and instantly Kenz and I looked at each other and yelled : PHOTOSHOOT !!!

I wish you could have heard Abigail nervously warning us , "UH - MOM ! MOM ! MOM !" while Lily just hung on for dear life and Mackenzie snapped the picture. She was all of twelve inches off the ground, but judging by the tone of Abbi's voice you would have thought it was twelve feet.  #motherhen

This photo was taken inside, and has nothing to do with my little collage of outside spring pictures. But I'm posting it anyway, because Hayden looks adorable in it. Even if he is blurry. And even if my fingers look skeleton-like and scary. And even if I stole Mackenzie's phone case and she'll notice if she reads my blog (she has approximately 42 of them, so I don't think she'll miss it.)

And now, two quick videos just for fun...  please ignore my sickly sweet baby voice when I'm talking to Hayden. I hate my voice on video. UGH. And he doesn't perform on demand when I ask him to do his little "dddddd -dddd--dddd" trick, but I sure sound interesting doing it. Ahem.

Here's a little happy dance for you...

Have a HAPPY Friday !!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hello Mess !

How is your Monday going ? It's 10:16 and we're all in our jammies currently. However, two children got up at six a.m. and did their schoolwork. And I did get fifteen minutes of prayer/bible reading time in before Lily texted 17 billion emoticons to four friends, and Hayden (almost) successfully climbed to the top of the lamp on my nightstand. Don't worry, his proud little cackle gave him away, and I managed to snap this pic two seconds before rescuing my nightstand, lamp, and Hayden from impending disaster.

his right leg is indeed, scaling the nightstand

A little catch up before I post some exciting news...

We went to the coast for a few days last week. What was supposed to be an overnight trip turned into a three day stay. Sam took my van to work while we were there, and dropped by the mechanic in Lincoln City to have a month-long knocking noise checked out. So on Monday - his birthday - the mechanic told him that the van's front axel was about to fall apart. Which would explain the knocking noise. Meaning our wheel could have fallen off at any time last month... including the long winding drive to the coast. (I'm at this moment picturing several angels underneath our van, frantically holding the axel together, muttering under their collective breaths- somebody tell these people to get their freaking van checked out !!) A thousand dollars and a few days later, we were on our way - safely- back home.

Note to readers: if you hear a loud knocking noise going on in your vehicle... maybe don't wait a whole month to have it checked out. Your guardian angels will thank you. 

And can I just say here that I have the sweetest husband in the world. Things were a little tight at the end of the month for us... 17 birthdays in one month means the last birthday (Sam's is on the 31st) gets whatever is left over in the bank account for presents. Which this time around, meant he got a cake and a card. And a trip to the coast at the house we stay at for free. And he still had to work all day. And then receive a thousand dollar repair bill on our van. But you know what he did when he came back from work in the loaner van ? Gave me the biggest hug, smiled his million dollar smile, and took me on a thirty minute walk to sightsee. About halfway through our walk, the heavens opened and dumped a bucketload of rainy birthday wishes on us... we laughed the whole jog home, and decided the best birthday presents are the ones we get every day : the simple pleasures of spending time together as a family, eating a nice meal together, and praising God through it all.

what do you mean, we're out of yogurt ?!?!?

 In other news...our Rice Ranch Garden Project is going full steam ahead...

We have spinach, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, celery, squash, carrots, basil,  and lettuce plants ... that all started as tiny little seeds just a few weeks ago. The kids are loving watching these little miracles happen right before our eyes. Every day we wake up and check the laundry room, where our seed trays are really beginning to look like a virtual harvest. I can't wait to taste this stuff !

I know this pic could be flipped to make it look more... aesthetic. But this is how I took it - a lovely little cooking project lying at my feet ... evidence that Lily has been practicing her culinary skills in the living room again. Apparently she knows how to open the fridge, and someone... ahem... left a carton of eggs within her reach. Last week I opened the blinds to find all my missing measuring cups, a whisk, and several mixing bowls, carefully arranged on the window sill. I'm sure the neighbors have been wondering why on earth the new family on the block thinks decorating with kitchen items is a cool thing to do. Don't ask me how I never noticed the arrangement in the front window when I drove up to our house... daily ... probably the same reason I thought it would be a good idea to just turn up the radio to drown out that knocking sound in our van. #justcallmemrsmagoo

Hayden has been doing the sweetest tricks lately. One of our favorites- asking him "how big is Hayden ???? Sooooo big !" - and up fly his little arms. He also stood alone a few times in the past few weeks. He's been cruising around all the furniture for several months, but he probably heard me say one too many times "I don't want my baby to grow up so fast",  and promptly held off on walking before he turns 11 months. I can't believe he will be a year old next month. Why do those last few weeks of pregnancy crawl by, but the first year is like a sprint to the finish line ?? Not fair.

So now for our little bit of exciting news. I entered Lily's pics in a model search.  Someone on Instagram tagged me in the contest, and when I saw the darling moccs that Lily could model if she won, I swooned. I didn't think we had much of a chance... there were over 2600 entries in the contest, and those kiddos were allllll so adorable... I didn't know how Kimmie from Hello Mess was going to be able to choose just a few entries out of such a pool of cuteness.

Last Monday she announced the top 16 candidates that she had chosen, and she said that on Friday she would announce the winners - the kids chosen to model her new line of moccs coming out this year. Hello Moccs are divine...here's a peek at what she's been selling already :

So on Thursday night I received the sweetest email... more than being chosen to be a Hello Moccs Brand Ambassador, this mama's words just touched my heart. She told me how much she had fallen in love with Lily from the moment she saw her picture...

  "Just knowing that a little smiling angel will be experiencing life in some shoes that I put together is enough for me. Little toes that you counted- little feet that you kissed- adventures that she is experiencing- her little feet are bringing so much joy."  

 If you've been reading here any length of time, you know what a sap I am. I tried to read her email to my husband, and of course I cried. And two seconds later one of my kids heard the news and ran out to the garage to scream the news to his siblings . Lots of cheering proceeded... if it weren't almost ten o'clock at night we probably would have thrown a party and invited the whole neighborhood over to celebrate. What can I say, we love any excuse to party at The Rice Ranch :)

I'll be sharing more details of this new adventure in the days  ahead.. like how Lily is going to have a Hello Mess Mocc named after her... and posting lots of pictures of her wearing her new moccs.. but for now I have a gaggle of kids to attend to. And knowing how things go around here, a broken egg or two as well...

  Happy Monday !!

Saturday, April 5, 2014


An exciting post is coming on Monday, but for now - the winner of the Scentsy giveaway is ...

 Sarai Spohn said...
Order placed - I hope it helps :-) Sarah

Sarai, please email me and let me know which warmer you would like !! Congratulations :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Midnight revelation

Last night I took a picture of Hayden at midnight.. and it inspired this blogpost.

I love that picture.  So.much.   And I didn't even plan it.

Hayden was up at midnight last night .. he went to sleep a little too early, and as a result he thought midnight was morning time. Lily was sound asleep in the co-sleeper and Sam was passed out beside me in bed, when Hayden decided it would be a fantastic idea to wake up and play. I tried nursing him back to sleep, but even in the dark I could see him watching me out of the corner of his eye. It was like he was saying, "don't even try it, mom. I am NOT going back to sleep." And sure enough, as soon as he was done nursing, he bolted upright and yelled "aaahhh dada !" Which is Hayden speak for "let's party!"

I was so tired and delirious I gave him my reading light, thinking maybe he could entertain himself while I dozed.. as if he would really just sit still for the next six hours, calmly playing and cooing ??

These are the strange thoughts of an exhausted mother of many at midnight.

Hayden did find my reading light fascinating for about two minutes, and I took that opportunity to check my email from my phone... I glanced up at him and thought - that's cool how his face is all lit up - and I snapped the photo. And when I looked at it I couldn't believe what an amazing photo it turned out to be... it looks like a painting to me! His cute little features are highlighted, and he's just staring at that reading light in wonder ... I love it. (I'm pretty sure staring at a little ole' reading light for two minutes is not the same thing as staring at the sun for 20 seconds, right ? Because a kid in first grade told me that would make you go blind, and I've always been a smidgeon scared of bright lights since then. Carry on.)

So this is where my midnight inspiration came in. I had twenty minutes of watching Hayden play with my phone, my magazine, my hair clip (hey, I said I was delirious) to think about this blogpost... because that sweet looking photo above really made me draw some big analogies.

Note: my little angel finally drifted off to sleep for a few hours ... before waking me up with a head-butt to the lip ... but that's a different blogpost in itself. 

And now for my midnight inspiration. If it doesn't sound as deep and profound as it did at that ungodly hour when moms should be sleeping... just look at the cute pictures in this post and ignore the words. I'll forgive you, and you'll still like me, and we can all be friends.

Drumroll pleeeeease......

Unplanned moments are oftentimes the best.


Life unscripted turns out to be really great.


I can plan some things, but I really like it when God does it better.

Take for instance, child planning. 

Most of my children were planned. (If this were a text message I would insert "lol.") What I mean by that is - prior to conception, most of our children were conceived because Sam and I looked at each other and said, "let's have a baby." Okay well, it took a bit more than that, but this is a family blog, so...you get my point.

But some of my children... who shall remain nameless... were a bit of a surprise. As in - we didn't exactly look at each other and say "let's have a baby". Instead, we looked at a pregnancy test and said," yay! we're having a baby !" It's not that we didn't want to be pregnant.. we were maybe just not praying and planning for it at that moment.

One of those "surprises".... was our fourth child. After two heartbreaking back-to-back miscarriages I had decided I was done. I'm not sure Sam was on the same page, but I was so broken and hurt by the loss of those two babies I didn't want to risk getting hurt like that ever again. In fact, I remember crying so hard when I took that first pregnancy test with Tyler, imagining what it would feel like to lose another baby. I was so scared - I begged God to let it happen right away if it was going to happen. My previous miscarriages had happened at 14 and 10 weeks, long enough for me to feel emotionally connected to my baby. To my utter surprise (and complete lack of faith) Tyler Kevin arrived healthy and happy 8 months later, my beautiful rainbow baby.

And because of that diversion from my plans - to stop having children - my hope and faith in God, and trust in my body to be able to carry a baby again was restored. So when I think of what we would have missed out on ... Jonathan and Caleb and Abigail and Noah and Jackson and Lily and Hayden ... I am so very thankful for that unplanned pregnancy.

 Exhibit B : Family Vacations

I realize this topic is slightly less life changing than the previous example of unplanned things going well... but bare with me. Wait no, don't do that. Bear with me ? Okay, yes, that's better. (Mrs. McHenry, you can stop rolling over in your grave now.)

Sam and I have planned lots of family vacations over the years. LOTS of family vacations. Some of them we saved for a year and a half for (hello, Disneyland!), making sure every detail was covered : where we would stay, what route we would take, where we would eat.. we talked to friends about what the most family friendly restaurants were, we scoured the internet for travel ideas and coupons, we packed bags full of games and music and snacks the month before we left, we made a list of everything we wanted to see and do on our trip....we had it all planned.

I won't go into the gory details of how some of those trips actually turned into a plot for a sequel to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles... like losing our dog at a pit-stop and realizing she was missing four hours later... or having our van break down on The Grapevine ...

Oh wait- I said I wasn't going into the sordid details, didn't I ?

Well let me tell you about some of the best vacations I've ever been on in my life. There was that impromptu trip to the Oregon coast with our family one May, when Sam's work was a little slow. The weather ended up being better than any summer trip we've planned, and we spent endless hours at the beach. In shorts. Without freezing. (And all the Oregonian readers just said  wait wha ---??) There was a trip my husband took me on - a second honeymoon- to Birch Bay, Washington. All the other resorts in the time-share a friend owned were full, and Birch Bay was our only option. But the beautiful lazy little town completely stole my heart, and I don't know that I've ever felt as relaxed and peaceful on vacation as I did on that trip. We slept in every morning, we ate at the simplest little mom and pop place for breakfast every morning, we walked on the beach and got flavored icees, we took naps, we crossed over to Canada and saw friends, we had absolutely no plans each day as to what we were going to do - we just made it all up as we went along. And we had the time of our lives.

If you were to ask my kids what some of their favorite memories were, I bet they would list some of our least planned family vacations right up there with Disneyland. Maybe it's because we didn't go into them with any anticipation of bells and whistles and ...   Mickey Mouse fireworks ... we just got in the van and drove and some of the loveliest moments happened along the way.

And of course, I cannot conclude this little essay without the sweetest of unscripted experiences:

Down syndrome.

If someone had asked me years ago - would you like to plan on having a daughter with Down syndrome ? My answer would have been an unequivocal no. Oh sure, I was open to whoever God gave us, and I knew I would love and embrace His will and plan for us, no matter what that included. In theory. But plan a child with Down syndrome ?  Not on your life. In fact, I deliberately prayed that none of my babies would have Down syndrome...and when markers on an ultrasound during my 8th pregnancy (Noah) showed up, I literally begged God to please make sure my unborn baby did not have Down syndrome. That was not part of my plan. Not even remotely.

But here we are today...

...and Lily is one of our greatest blessings in life. We don't patiently endure her, we don't tolerate her, we aren't resigned to the fact that she is our child.... on the contrary. We feel like we won the lottery with Lily. We are grateful for her, we are blessed-beyond-blessed to have her in our lives - we couldn't picture life without her. We don't like to even think of what life without Lily would look like - the thought of how my life would be if MY plans had happened scares the crud out of me, truth be told. Thank God my dumb little script was tossed out the window. Thank God.

He had a better story, a story rich with color and texture and plot and characters and meaning - real meaning - beyond what my boring little narrative would have been. He has richly blessed us with this little girl, and I couldn't be happier for the unexpected joy I've found in her. 

So there you have it. My little midnight revelation, if you will. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a little shut-eye to catch up on. 

Sweet dreams from the Rice Ranch.

28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good, if we love God and are fitting into his plans. Romans 8:28

scentsy giveaway

In case you missed it, tomorrow is the last day to enter my giveaway for the Scentsy warmer of your choice..

...these are just three of many options... the winner can choose ANY warmer on my personal website.

To enter, simply purchase anything from Lily's Basket Party and leave a comment here saying you did so. For instance, you could buy a Scentsy three-pack of bars... here are three of my favorites:

White florals — jasmine, sweet pea, and freesia — juicy berries, and sandalwood shimmer like moonlight.

Sticky Cinnamon Bun : 
Cinnamon and sweet icing with warm, nutty nuances.

A Wink And A Smile :
The flirty, girly, fresh scent of tulips and daffodils in full bloom, rounded out with plummy lemonade.

You could even buy a lightbulb from my website and be entered to win. It's that simple :)

If you have any questions about Scentsy products, feel free to email me. I have Silver Bells going in my warmer right now...dreaming of Christmas again :)

One quick photo and then I'm off to enjoy my Saturday..

Happy weekend !