Monday, September 30, 2013

why I homeschool my kids

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law today that sparked this post. She's pregnant with her seventh child, and I couldn't be happier...partly because I love big families, and also because she and my brother produce amazing children. The world needs more little Kopps running around.

So today we were discussing schooling options. Lori and my brother have chosen to send some of their kids to school, and they homeschool the others. They make their decisions based on each child's needs, and also how they feel their school is doing when it comes to educating each child. Their oldest child achieved a perfect score on the math section of his SATs and was accepted into the Air Force Academy this year...he is brilliant. They have a host of children coming up in the ranks who are equally brilliant, and they want them to remain so. Thus their decision to homeschool.

Because contrary to the belief of some, homeschooling is many times a better choice than public schooling. And I say that with a profound respect for teachers- my mom was a teacher for many, many years, and I have dozens of friends who have chosen that noble profession. But the sad fact is, not every teacher is a great teacher, and even when some are, not every school is a wonderful place to teach.

We have done everything when it comes to schooling our kids. We've had them in public school, we've homeschooled, we've done public school online, and we've gone the private school route. This has all been done in an effort to find the best fit for our family. Honestly, I did not want to homeschool my kids. The reasons against it are endless.

I'm not a naturally organized person.

I like having my time to myself.

I don't feel qualified.

I have a lot on my plate already.

It takes so much work.

I love a quiet house.

I enjoy school Christmas programs and field trips and parent nights.

I loved school myself. LOVED it.

Having said that, we faced so many disappointments and problems in the public school system where we live, and private school became so expensive the more children we had, that homeschooling became our only option.

I'm going to give you a little glimpse into that last year of public school that sealed the deal for me...because I hope to make some people investigate what is going on in their children's schools. Perhaps you're one of the lucky ones who have an awesome school and some equally awesome teachers. I know they're out there. I really do. We had those in the town we lived in before we moved here, and I couldn't have been more delighted.... and then we moved here.

Side note : I don't want to disparage all the schools in my town, and I am willing to admit that I may have a bad taste in my mouth because of the particular grade school my children attended. So if you live here, please know that I don't think you're a terrible parent if you send your kids to public school. This was just my experience.

My oldest son was in fourth grade when we moved here, and we had him go to one month of school to meet new friends before the next school year began. He was always well liked, and he fit right in immediately. The problems began the next year, in fifth grade.

We spent the good part of that year staying up late talking to Jason and praying with him, because he could not get images out of his mind, or conversations he had with other boys at school. Every day he came home telling us about things that were told to him that he could not stop thinking about. He was 10 years old and still sleeping with a teddy bear, and yet the kids at his school were constantly talking about one thing : sex.

For instance, there was a boy at school who was being raised by his single mother. I'm not sure where the teacher was - and neither was Jason - but this little boy took advantage of his absence in the classroom by unzipping his pants and opening and closing his book on his private parts. And calling to Jason to look at him, while he laughed. I often wondered how different that little boy would have been if he had a father figure in his life, but that's a whole different topic. *Edited to add: this sentence apparently hurt some single moms. When I wrote it I was thinking about his deadbeat dad...and the fact that this little boy often told my son how he wished his dad came to his baseball games like Jason's dad did. What was written as a statement about dads who miss their chance to impact their kids' lives for good was taken by some as a slam against single moms. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding :(

Another boy pulled up pornography on the class computer, and Jason walked by while he was looking at it. When I asked the teacher how this could possibly happen, he assured me it couldn't - the school computers had filters on them, and you couldn't even get to a website that had the word sex on it. When I told him what Jason saw on his friend's computer, the teacher then told me that he was sure they "both" knew they should not have been looking at that. (???)

The last six weeks of school were used to allow student teachers to come in and teach. And apparently they were used by the regular teachers to go have a smoke or hang out in the teacher's lounge... because according to my kids, they were rarely in the classroom during those six weeks of school.

One day Jason came home to tell us what had happened while the student teacher from our local college was teaching...a boy in his class read (out loud) a story he wrote about his father. His dad was obviously a very sick man, who strapped him to the table and did ...things... to him to punish him. Sam marched down to the school to talk to the principal, who put him in touch with the student teacher. She explained to my husband that this particular boy would not do math or reading assignments, but he WAS very good about writing. So she allowed him to write about whatever he wanted, and to encourage him, she had him read his paper aloud to the classroom. When Sam asked her if she thought it was appropriate to read that kind of disturbing behavior to a group of ten and eleven year olds, she responded that she didn't know ahead of time what he had written. When Sam asked her why she didn't stop him when he started reading the sordid details of his troubled home out loud, she said she "didn't want to embarrass him."

That was Jason's first and last year at that school. We made the decision to pull him out of school, and Josiah asked to be homeschooled as well. We decided to leave Mackenzie in the school, as she was only in second grade...how much could happen at that age ? We were so wrong.

Just after the school year began, the school counselor called Mackenzie into her office at lunch time (without notifying me) because another little boy said she told him to f*** off. I guarantee you Mackenzie did not even know the f-word at that age, and we knew this little boy from her softball team...his parents regularly hauled him off the field when he threw himself on the grass refusing to play. His father would carry him screaming to their van while he cursed him all the way...so I have no doubt he had heard those words before.

Kenzie told the counselor she didn't know what word she said, and later on the counselor called to tell me the story. When Mackenzie came home and I asked her about the incident she said this little boy had been yelling at HER on the playground and got in trouble - he obviously lied to the teacher to get himself off the hook. When I asked Kenzie if she said anything like "you sucker" (thinking maybe there was a name she did know that rhymed with the f-word ???) she BURST into tears and said she would never ever use the word "sucker". (Whew. Because we all know that is the worst you could call someone ;)) I called the counselor and told her about our conversation, and she said she believed my daughter and was dropping the matter. But the next day she called Mackenzie into her office and asked her "why she lied to her mommy ? Was she afraid of her mommy ??"

A few weeks later Mackenzie's teacher sent home a letter explaining that for two weeks (??) they would be talking about good touch/bad touch in the classroom. When I called the teacher to ask what kind of things would take place, she said they would talk about many things, including how corporal punishment was bad touch, and if children had experienced this at home they were encouraged to talk to their teachers about it. They would also be discussing inappropriate touches (with second graders) and using role play to demonstrate how a child should react to inappropriate touching. There would be a video detailing what inappropriate touches were, which did not include the act of inappropriate touching, but left the children to surmise what it was because of the drama that led up to it.


So yes, we had problems. And what I described was the worst of them, but there were dozens upon dozens of smaller problems, all adding up with the big ones and resulting in our decision to pull our kids out of that school.

I prayed long and hard about that decision - and believe me, there have been days when I have wanted to quit. Lots of days.

But I'll tell you what - I am not going to sacrifice my kids' innocence and expose them every day to that kind of crud because I like having my time to myself. I'm not going to subject them to that kind of environment day in and day out because I don't feel qualified. Because in my opinion, my kids' character and innocence - in the long run - matters to me so much more than their education. Period.

So I pray, and I take the time to look for good curriculum, and I ask lots of questions, and I try to become better educated myself so that I can help my kids learn. I employ help when needed - I go to people who understand math better than I do, and I ask for help teaching my kids algebra. I call people who are smarter that I am when I don't know how to teach something else. I make sure my children are reading and reading and reading, and then I make sure they read some more. And then I pray and pray and pray again for God's wisdom and help in doing this job of homeschooling.

Do I make mistakes ? I'm quite sure I do. But I know one thing - I have my kids' best interests at heart. And those teachers did not. I  have no idea what their motivation for teaching was, and I'm sure it wasn't evil. Perhaps it was just to earn a paycheck. Perhaps they really did believe that a ten year old glancing over and seeing pornography on another student's computer was no big deal. Because - as that teacher informed me - it was nothing worse than what kids see every night on tv.

My point exactly.

Which is why we don't have a tv either, thank you very much.

I'm not raising my kids to live in a cave. They will be inundated with all of the garbage the world has to offer soon enough. It's on billboards and in magazines and on iPhones and just about everywhere you look.

But while my kids are little I want them to be just that - KIDS.

And kids shouldn't have to be subjected to an "adult" culture every day.

Children should have a chance to enjoy things like sleeping with their teddy bear at night - instead of being asked every day by the boy in the lunch line which one of the Spice Girls he'd like to have sex with.


I'll get off my soapbox now. If you have any questions or thoughts about the subject of homeschooling, I'd love to hear them.


I'll end with reason number 4,753 why I'm glad we chose homeschooling for our family :





...I get to go on mid-morning coffee dates with my kids. And I don't even have to ask permission to do it.



The End.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

save my bacon




Dear Patricia Rice:  
We have noticed you haven't submitted an order in a while, and as the end of the month approaches, we want to make sure you are aware of the 150 points in Personal Retail Volume (PRV) requirement in at least one month during a consecutive three month period. To prevent your account from being cancelled on Oct. 1, 150 PRV is required in the month of September.

The fall/winter season is an exciting time to be a part of the Scentsy Family. Plus, we are kicking off our 10-year anniversary, and we want you to be a part of the celebration.

There are plenty of opportunities to continue working your Scentsy Family business.


If you need assistance or information regarding your account or anything else, please contact Consultant Experience at 1-877-855-0617 from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (MDT) Monday through Friday.

Regards,


 
Chuck Thompson
Chief Consultant Development Officer
********************

 Dear Chuck,

I received your email last week, but things of have been a little crazy at The Rice Ranch, so I am just now getting back to you.

I would dearly love to stay a valued member of your Scentsy family. I truly would.

The fact is I am not a great saleswoman. I admit it. I never host home parties because I don't like standing up and talking in front of people. I don't go into businesses asking if they would like to try some products because....well, see my first point. In a nutshell : I stink.

However, I do have a blog that lots of people read. I have promoted Scentsy on my blog many times, because I don't have to open my mouth to do so...I just type. Which is a much easier way to sell things when you're a sucky saleswoman. I can say things that I would never say in person like "check out Lily's Scentsy Store for all the fabulous new fall flavors" and feel no embarrassment about it whatsoever.

Anyhoot, I really would like to be a part of the Big Ten Year Anniversary Celebration, which I'm pretty sure will mean something Big for me...maybe a personalized card from you, Chuck, thanking me for being a part of the team ? I also want to be part of this exciting fall/winter season, because well, I just generally like to be part of anything that has to do with seasons and excitement.

So I'll tell you what, Chuck. I'll do my best to get $150 in sales by writing a blogpost explaining my goal to my readers. I realize that I'm posting it the day of the deadline. But you see, I did this kind of thing in high school all the time (ask my literature teacher) and things always kind of panned out for me then. I am hoping they do so now, because I really DO want to stay part of the team, Chuck. I am addicted to Scentsy and I have a Scentsy warmer in every room in our house to prove it. I may suck as a saleswoman, but I sure do buy and use my own products.

If for some reason September 30th comes and goes and I get the axe as a consultant, please know it was not for lack of typing.


Thanks for reading, Chuck.

Lots of love,
Patti

P.S. Maybe some day if I type enough, I could be an Assistant Chief Consultant Development Officer ? Just a thought....



*********************

If you would like to save my bacon by ordering some Scentsy products today, you can do so HERE. Click on Lily's Basket Party and shop to your heart's content.



If not, I still love you. Promise.

Back with some sweet family pics tomorrow !

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

parenting teens

I posted a blurry, grainy picture on Instagram tonight of me and my 13 year old son, Caleb. We spent the afternoon shopping together in Albany, and we finished with a date at my favorite fish & chips place.




I posted this caption underneath the photo :

On a date with Caleb, age 13. He just told me I'm his best friend, because I'm the only person he can talk to about anything. Love this kid.


Typically on IG I post pictures of better quality, but this time I didn't care- because it captured a moment.

Apparently something about this simple, grainy photo and the words underneath them resonated with people...because in just a short time there were over 400 "likes" and almost 40 comments from moms, all expressing the hope that one day their children would be teenagers who said the same thing.

So it really hit me tonight, how blessed I am. I think I just take it for granted sometimes what kind of kids we have. I know my children aren't perfect...but they are amazing kids. And I don't want to take credit for that, because really - truly - they are who they are by the grace of God.

Having said that, I do want to share just a few things that I think God has helped us with in this post... and I'd also like to open this space up for questions about parenting teens. That little Instagram post and the response it drew made me realize that there are a lot of parents out there looking for answers.

I'm sure there are untold numbers of books written on the subject of parenting teens, and I don't consider myself an expert.

But I do have some experience raising teens, and sometimes I think experience is just as good, if not better, than so-called expertise.

I'm sure you can find a lot out there about "giving teens their space" and "making sure you're not a helicopter parent." (I just read a lengthy article on this topic in one of my favorite family magazines, and I almost chucked it out the window as a result. ) I'm willing to bet there are a plethora of professionals who will tell you that teenagers are going to rebel, guaranteed, and that your job as a parent is to just ride out the storm.

If you want to believe that and embrace that, it's certainly your choice.

But as a mom who has raised three teens into adulthood, and who now has three teens in one house (along with five younger children and a 21year old daughter), I would submit to you that it is possible to ENJOY the teen years, and you don't have to dread the day your kids reach them.

I want to keep this short, so here it is in a nutshell:


Pray. Talk. Love.


Those three simple words are my "keys" to success when it comes to parenting teens. And when I say success, I don't mean raising teens who are perfect. Because aside from Mary, nobody has ever parented a perfect teen. They are going to fail. They are going to have attitudes. They are going to have problems. But don't we all ??

So here it is again ....

PRAY. 

I have prayed long and hard for my kids since the day they were born. I don't mean a quick sentence offered up to God on my kids' behalf (i.e. God bless Jackson.) I mean hours spent on my knees, earnestly asking the Lord to give my children a heart for Him and for others.

There are times when I can't get to sleep because I'm worried about something going on with one of my children. The best remedy I've found is to take it to Jesus. Sometimes that means tip toeing into my kids' room and praying over them while they're sleeping ...sometimes that means going into my closet (where I like to pray !) and crying my prayers and worries out to God until I feel that weight lifted.

There have been times during the day when I've felt completely at a loss when I'm dealing with certain situations with my teenagers. At those times I really have to stop what I'm doing and get alone with the Lord. Because I have found that I (read that with emphasis - I !!) cannot change my kids' hearts. But Jesus can. I've seen Him do it so many times. I can be staring into the face of one of my kids and I know they are not hearing me. The walls are up, and no matter how I word something, they are in defense mode. But if I take them to God in prayer, and ask HIM to intervene and soften their heart and bring conviction, I am amazed at what results. God is so much better at getting through to my kids than I am.

TALK.

I have lost count of how many midnight talk sessions I've had with my teens. I am constantly gauging their moods and making sure the lines of communication are open if I sense something is wrong.

We don't let our kids hold grudges or walk around with attitudes in our home - we get to the bottom of things immediately.

This means work. This means letting other things slide sometimes, so that we take the time we need for our kids. This means talking about hard things. But what I've found is that you just can't talk to your kids too much. I don't care what the latest article or book says about "hovering over your kids". That's what we're supposed to do. That's why God made us their parents- so we can guide them.

They need us - even if everything about their demeanor says they don't. They need someone to listen to them, to tell them that what they're going through is normal. Our kids are going to find someone to listen to them if we don't.

LOVE.

I can't emphasize this enough. And it sounds so obvious - I mean, of course we love our kids. But they need to hear it. They need to see it. It's so easy when our kids are little to take them on our laps and tell them we love them, or hug them good night or kiss them in the morning. But teenagers need affection too. They will find love somewhere else if they don't find it in the home.

And they really do need encouragement. More than any other time of life, the teen years are filled with insecurities and self-doubt, and our kids need constant affirmation that they are loved.

I think a really good goal for raising teens is to give twice as much encouragement a day as we do correction. Because so much of my day is spent dealing with correcting : please put your shoes away... please change your tone of voice...please be kind to your siblings... so if I'm not careful all my children hear is that they need to change. That they're not measuring up. I need to balance that out - actually I need to over compensate - with love.

Because just like prayer for your children and talking to your children - you cannot love them too much.

I have seen walls of resentment or anger torn down by a few kind words spoken into the life of my teenagers. I've seen tears of remorse shed when I put my arms around my teens and tell them that I love them so much I refuse to let them move away from me in relationship. I've watched my children flourish when the love is poured on, and although we place great emphasis here on standards and purity and excellence, we also have a lot of grace and a lot of love for our kids.

Isn't that what God does for us ?


Jonathan, age 15, and his dad :)


It's late, and I need to put a sleeping baby into his bed. So thanks for reading, and if you have any questions for the comment section, I'll do my best to answer them in the next post.

Lots of love,

Patti



Monday, September 23, 2013

Liebster Night


I was just getting ready to start this post, when a blogging friend left a comment saying she gave me this...

Megan, who writes over at Girl Meets Camera, gave me this Leibster Award. So I just went over to her blog to read what a Leibster is. (I would not have been surprised if it meant someone who eats large amounts of chocolate...because I certainly deserve an award for that.)
But apparently liebster means dearest in German. Isn't that sweet ? 
 So I'm supposed to answer the questions Megan left on her blog, and then pass the award to some other bloggers I love dearly as well. It sounds like a fun way to share some blog love, and I was stumped for what to write about tonight anyway....so thanks, Megan, for the award ... you are pretty liebster yourself. 
Liebster, liebster, liebster.
I just really like the sound of that word.

Okay, moving on - here are Megan's questions, and my answers. I put on a ball gown and smiled really big while I was typing the answers, because isn't that what people do when they're presented with awards ? Please picture me wearing a tiara and a ball gown while you read  my answers.

1. What is your favorite blog post you have written?
I have a few... Enough is one I always go back to. It was very therapeutic for me to write. The Big Picture was another. And even though I've come a long way since writing it - I Had a Dream. Because I can still read it and know exactly how I felt and what I was thinking when I wrote it.  
2. If you could have any profession what would it be?
A mommy. I really am living my dream.
3. What are 3 blogs you read every day?
Yikes. I wish I had time to read three every day ! If I did, they would be Everything and Nothing From Essex, A Baby Sent From the Stars, and Race For Justice (my brother's blog.). Tons more I could add to that list!
4. Do you like breakfast for dinner?
Sure. But I like dinner for dinner better.
5. Do you schedule blog posts?
No. 
6. What is your favorite song at the moment?
I Get To Be the One, by JJ Heller
7. Any advice for someone wanting to start a blog?
Write for yourself and be yourself. Stay true to your convictions even if they're not popular. Delete rude comments :) 
8. Do you consider yourself crafty?
Well, I love to scrapbook. Does that count ?
9. What inspires your blog posts?
My family. My faith. I love to write, and I've always loved to write. It's how I process things.
10. Why did you choose your blog’s name?
When I was pregnant with Lily, before we knew she was a girl, this blog was called Waiting For You. When we found out she was a girl through ultrasound, I changed the name to Waiting For Lily. When she was born, I wanted something to reflect my feelings for her...my husband actually picked the name when we were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland next to OHSU where Lily was in the NICU. I was writing the post to announce her birth, crying...because things were so crazy at that point. Sam and I were looking at a picture of her on his phone, and he said she was perfect...and that I should call the blog A Perfect Lily.
11. What are some of your favorite things to do?
Read. Write. Scrapbook. Play piano. Give birth. Nurse my babies. Attend births. Play with  my kids. Play piano. Talk to my husband. Go to church. Share my faith. Listen to music. Cook. Discover new recipes. Talk to friends on the phone. Take pictures of my kids. Edit photos. Talk to my kids. Hold my grandbabies. Blog. Go camping. Learn. Learn. Learn. Eat ice cream. Eat chocolate. Say liebster. The End.

I shall share with you a little liebster Lily before I nominate some liebster blogging friends....



And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for...

Drumroll, please....

I present the golden teal colored Liebster Award to....

and also to the three blogs I mentioned above in question #3.


Bloggers, here are your questions...
1. What's the last great book you read
2. Who would you most love to meet from blogland (don't say Lily, because we all know she's at the top of everyone's list.)
3. What's your favorite go-to recipe for company 
4. What's your favorite blog post that you've written
5. How many blogs do you read a week? Name a few..
6. What do you hope people take away from your blog?
7. What's your favorite ice cream flavor 
8. If today was your last day alive, what five things would you make sure to do
9. What bugs you about other people's blogs 
10. Do you actually read my blog, or just skim it for the pictures? I really want to know.


Okay, there you have it - go to it, you liebsters !!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September Symphony

Today I'd like to introduce you to two of my online friends, both of whom have bigger hearts than almost anyone I know. If you've been reading here for a long time, you've met them before.



This is Julia...





(yes, Julia- I stole your photo. Because I'm sneaky like that.)

Julia and her husband Rob adopted that beautiful little guy from Eastern Europe a few years ago, and literally saved him from spending the rest of his life in an institution. The kind of institution where unspeakable things happen to children, because there just aren't enough people to properly care for them. Rob and Julia weren't content to save a life though - they came home with their son and decided to spend almost every waking moment advocating for the children they left behind. Julia, through her blog, has raised- oh, I don't know, umpteen thousands of dollars for children with special needs who are available for adoption in other nations. She is tireless. She is passionate. She has a heart as big as the ocean.




This is Elizabeth...





(Yes, Elizabeth, I stole this picture from your blog...sue me ;))


Elizabeth and I were introduced through a mutual friend several years ago, and I've lost count of how many texts, emails, and phone calls we've exchanged since. She has an incredible story you can read about HERE...right now she is battling for her life. That gorgeous little guy on her lap is her son George, who shares Lily's extra chromosome. She has four other amazing children, and a devoted husband, and she was a physician before she became supermom...her entire family is brilliant. Read that - BRILLIANT. Her kids do incredible things like win chess championships, play Suzuki violin, earn scholarships to prestigious universities, and study subjects I can't even pronounce. Elizabeth and her husband Dixon are the people behind the scenes of most of the fundraising you see on Down syndrome blogs. They donate, they pray, they fund the fundraisers with prizes, they spread the word, they give and give and give til it hurts. And this in the midst of all they have gone through together battling her cancer for five years.




SO when Julia and Elizabeth both asked me to give a shout-out for THIS .... of course I couldn't turn them down.


It's been quite awhile since I hosted a fundraiser on my blog...life has gotten a little busy since our eleventh child arrived. I'm hoping and praying that Lily's readers will help me support Elizabeth and Julia by donating to their September Symphony. It would mean so much to them - and to me - if you clicked on that link and helped them out.


Lots of love,

Patti

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

new evidence...



...that the gene for attitude can be found on the 21st chromosome.


 She's got a triple portion.


Can't wait to see what the teen years look like.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

all together in one place

We just got home from three days in beautiful McMinnville, Oregon, where we enjoyed our annual Northwest Rally. This event happens every September, and we look forward to it every year.. basically it's just a time for all of the churches in our fellowship to get together and hear excellent preaching for a few days, while reconnecting with friends from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.





My kids would tell you that there are several things they love about the rally- swimming at the hotel with all of their friends, enjoying breakfast in the hotel lobby with everyone, and playing basketball with their friends in between church services. I love that no matter how much time has passed between the last time they saw everyone, they just pick up where they left off. These kind of friendships will last them a lifetime, and I'm so thankful for good Christian kids who share the same values as mine.

Sam and I have the same kind of feelings about the rally, and added to that is a profound appreciation for the solid preaching of the word of God. Being in the ministry can sometimes take its toll on your emotions spiritually speaking, so just being able to sit and listen to sermons without any distractions or responsibilities is like a breath of fresh air.  It's like our fellowship's version of "school starting" - we get focused on what we hope to see God do for the next six months, and we leave McMinnville with a renewed vision for the future.






And as silly as it may sound, I love having all of my kids in the same room at night with us. We share one hotel room, and there are kids piled everywhere...but somehow I love going to sleep to the sound of all my little people breathing around me. I love my family so much, and so often we are caught up in the busyness of life- the rally is a time where we can all be together in one place.







I have a few Rice kids to highlight this week, because my family series got a little sidetracked by the sudden arrival of our first granddaughter. When I started the series by featuring Abigail, I made the disclaimer that I might interrupt the line-up if I had something exciting to post - little did I know how quickly that would happen.


I can't even begin to express the joy that this little girl has already brought to our family, and how perfectly she fits in. I brought Hayden over to Jason and Naomi's one afternoon to sneak in a little Nana time with Norah. Suddenly my four month old didn't look quite like the newborn I brought home from the hospital in May. How is it that babies can change so much in such a short period of time ?


That sweet baby girl on the left is going to be catching up to her Uncle Hayden in no time - she's already surpassed her birth weight and is nursing like a champ. I can't wait to post pictures of her playing with all of her uncles and aunts in the days ahead.... it seems like one day we were praying for a miracle adoption to happen for our kids, and the next day it was as if she has always been here.

Sam on the left, holding Jason...Jason on the right holding Norah Jane


I'm so thankful, so very thankful for the gift of grandchildren. I had heard over the years what a blessing it would be to experience all the joys of being a Nana, but I think it's the same thing as parenting- until you get there you just don't know. I love my grandkids every bit as much as my own children, and I am so so blessed to be a Nana to two of the sweetest babies on the planet.

But Norah and Koa aren't the only ones God had in store for us.

One week ago today- the day after Jason and Naomi brought Norah home from the hospital  - our son Josiah and his wife told us they were expecting....







That little video was just a tiny taste of the excitement in the air that afternoon. Monique was in Arizona for her grandfather's memorial service...she had been feeling queasy all week and decided to do a pregnancy test while she was there. She called Josiah while he was driving over to pick up our kids to go see Norah for the first time, and they decided to FaceTime us all to share their secret. And there it was - one of those all together in one place moments that I will cherish forever - my kids screaming and cheering and laughing and our hearts filled to the brim with joy.



More little snippets of joy from last week...


my golden girl. she RADIATES joy !



Jackson's eyelashes and freckles. I love them.


minnetonka moccs I won on ebay for Hayden - $7.  hallelujah !!


Lily, Hayden, and Brock in nursery last Sunday. Sweet friends .


Daddy took the little kids to visit big sissy at Coffee Culture






enjoying the last days of seeing her in these sandals - fall is coming !


suspenders from Jackie Aulson - his first pair :)



her favorite new pose



sneaking onto sissy's bed and shopping online. win/win

date night with daddy xoxo



^^^ heaven. right here.


favorite time of year !!!!!!!!!!




pizza in the park after the rally




my happy boy





It's late now, and there are bedtime baths to give and babies to put to sleep....we are tired and happy and feeling the grace of God smiling down on our little family...





...all together in one place :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Welcoming Fall

We're heading into my favorite season of the year....FALL.

I love everything about this time of year- lighting a fire on cold mornings in our fireplace, crisp-cool nights walking on the woodland trails around our neighborhood, cable knit sweaters and crocheted caps, pumpkin pies and homemade soups... I love it all.

And one of my most favorite things about Autumn is undoubtedly the smells. I get intoxicated on fall smells ... so even on days like today when someone forgot to tell the weatherman - it's September, hello ?!?! - all I have to do is plug in my Scentsy warmer and drop in a few cubes of Autumn....






...and our home is instantly transformed. The scent of apples, pumpkins, fall leaves and spices fills the air, and this 90 plus day seems to become a little cooler. Add Pandora radio set to Bing Crosby Holiday, and voila - we all stop sweating instantly.

Okay, I kid, but for reals- I LOVE the smell of Autumn and I am equally hooked on all the Scentsy scents of the season...Central Park Pralines, Honey Pear Cider, Cozy Fireside... the smell of these fragrances are going to be wafting in the air of The Rice Ranch all season long, guaranteed.








If you've never tried Scentsy products, you can click on the little blog button on my sidebar entitled "Lily's Scentsy Store" and browse to your heart's content. (I've been a Scentsy consultant for two years, and I'm still hooked!) If you find something you like on my website, just click on "Lily's Basket Party" to shop...email me with any questions, and I'd love to help.





Happy Fall !!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

the little miss

Just popping on real quick to post these...








... so um, yeah...we don't lack for self confidence here.

Happy Tuesday !

Thursday, September 5, 2013

virtual baby shower

I'm overwhelmed with love right now for a certain little girl who has already captured our hearts in less than a few days. We've waited for her for so long...I don't think we could be more in love.

I know so many of Lily's readers follow Jason and Naomi's story as well, and have prayed for them on their journey to adoption. It hardly seems real that this is happening. I've had readers email me telling me how much they have prayed for and loved reading about our family and Jason and Naomi's family, and I can't tell you how much that means to us. Words fail sometimes to express what's in our hearts, but simply put : we love you too. Your kindness and friendship means so much to us, and your encouragement and love is what brought us through years of waiting for this moment.

We're throwing Naomi and Norah a baby shower in a few weeks, as soon as they get settled in at home. For those of you who have asked what they can do to bless Baby Norah, I have a feeling she will be pretty spoiled by two sets of grandparents and a gang of aunts and uncles. But I thought it would be fun to host a "virtual shower" for this little angel, because a girl can never have too many accessories, you know ?




Naomi has always told me how much she loves Lily's headbands and bows. The one Norah is wearing in the photo above is from me...I could not resist stopping to shop on my way to see her at the hospital yesterday !

I would love to shower Norah Jane with dozens of headbands and bows from all of those who have prayed for her before she arrived in our arms. If you would like to send something, please email me at psalms127.5@gmail.com for our p.o. box....I can't wait for all the photo shoots that will be the result of her virtual baby shower :)

Lots of love,

Norah's Nana xoxox

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

GUESS WHAT ??

Welcoming to the Rice family - our first granddaughter...





Norah Jane Michaela Rice !


Mommy and Daddy are in love....






...and we are too !!! Praising God for His goodness - our cup runneth over :)


Read her amazing story HERE .

Monday, September 2, 2013

introducing... Abigail Joy

If you read my post a few weeks ago called moving forward, you know that I am changing things up a bit here on A Perfect Lily. Rather than focusing solely on Down syndrome and Lily, I'm turning this place into more of a family blog.

I received such nice comments on that post, and many of you expressed an interest in getting to know the rest of our Ricelets. Soooo...I'm going to do a series of posts about each one of my children. I might interrupt the series with a random post about Lily going to preschool (happening very soon) or one about meeting Mia Kareen (if Mackenzie ever gives me the photos she took that day). But I'll try to stick to the theme of featuring a different Rice kiddo every few days, and hopefully I'll finish before December. Because there are a ginormous amount of kids at The Rice Ranch, if you hadn't noticed.

Which is also something I just wanted to address quickly...the ginormous amount of kids we have. 

I have had so many questions over the years about that. 

Questions like: are they all yours ? (yes) did you give birth to them all ? (yes) did you plan on having a large family ? (no) and do you plan on having more ? (hmmm...depends on what day it is.)

And then there's the Big One, usually unasked, but usually behind most of the previous questions... do you believe in birth control?

And the answer is...sort of. We just don't practice it very often.

I guess you could say we are somewhere in the middle of the "planning" versus "leaving-it-all-up-to-God" discussion on this issue. We feel personally that God has - with each child - given us a desire for another baby, and that was the guiding factor in our decision to have one. In other words ... we just really love kids.

I think every family has to decide the answer to the birth control question themselves, and I don't feel it's my place to impose my desire for more kids on others. Meaning - the size of your family is between you and God, and I don't adhere to the idea that every single family should entirely leave all of that up to God. 

But I will say that I think the Biblical concept of children being a blessing from the Lord has been largely lost on America today. I think so many people are so caught up in what they can or can't provide for their kids materially, that they miss the blessing of having more children. I could provide lots of anecdotal stories about families who have SO much stuff...and yet their kids are some of the most selfish, unhappy kids on the planet. On the contrary, ask my kids if they love being a part of a large family, and they will each answer unequivocally yes. And ask them which one of their siblings they would give up to have more stuff.

Because if there's one thing you'll find at The Rice Ranch, it's love. It permeates everything we do. We might not have a house that could be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and we do most of our shopping at outlets or great second hand stores... but we have bucketloads of love here. Our kids are learning every single day what it means to be unselfish, and how to find joy in the little things. And those are lessons they will carry with them for the rests of their lives. 

And speaking of joy...








..this girl is full of it ~ Abigail Joy.

She's the first of our children to be featured in this little series. 








If you could pick one word to describe my seventh child, it could quite easily be joy. She is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful little girls, and I think God must have nudged her daddy almost eleven years ago when we were picking out her name before she was born. He fell in love with the name Abigail, because it means father's joy...and he chose Joy for her middle name, so that she would be called our "double joy." 

Abigail Joy is just that ...







She is also the girliest of girls. Which is crazy, considering she is smack dab in the middle of five boys in the Rice line-up. She loves anything pink or purple, she loves cooking and crafts and dressing up, and she is a little mother to all of her younger siblings.






And she LOVES to help in the nursery at church.

         







Abbi is so good at taking care of babies that I don't think she'll have any trouble transitioning into the role of a mommy one day...which is what she wants to be when she grows up. She's also a very good cook, specializing in homemade donuts and various cookies and cakes. She looooves to be in the kitchen. 




She is extremely creative, and she is always coming up with something fun to do with her younger brothers. This summer she ran multiple lemonade stands, which she completely designed and organized herself. She gave the profits of one of them to her oldest brother Jason and his wife Naomi for their adoption, and the rest of profits she spent on a new puppet for Children's Church. Nobody asked Abbi to donate one, she just wanted to be a blessing by paying for it herself. 








This morning I asked Abigail to write a small report about someone from history that she would like to meet. I'm copying what she wrote here, because it so so...Abigail.

*by way of explanation : Bernard, the old Mr. Whitaker, and Tom Riley are all characters on Adventures in Odyssey, a radio show. Also - when she says "all of my other siblings", she means the four babies I miscarried. Sweetest. thing. ever.



Who I Want to Meet
by Abbi Rice


I want to meet Jesus and Esther because I admire them.

I admire them because they are very brave. 

I want to be like Esther. Esther was sweet and compassionate.

Jesus was the most awesome person ever. He healed tons and tons and tons of people. I want to serve Him all my life.

I can't wait to meet them both in Heaven.

I think Heaven is going to be gold and very colorful. Heaven is going to be humungous. I can't wait to see all these people : Grandpa, Papa, all of my other siblings, God, Esther, Abigail, Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, the old Mr. Whitaker, Tom Riley, Bernard, and all of the other Bible people.

I can't wait to model my own mansion. I'm gonna have all sorts of toys and chocolate candy machines.

The End.








Keep coming back to meet the rest of The Rice Ranch....happy September !