Wednesday, April 30, 2014

fullness of joy

 It's the last day of April, and we're a little over a month into one of the prettiest springs I can remember in Oregon. I'm sure the colors have always been this vibrant - luscious pinks and apple greens and vivid blues - but for some reason they are all standing out to me this month, each hue practically begging to be its own backdrop for an impromptu picture.















 We're taking advantage of the warm weather and sunny days and engaging in long leisurely walks around the neighborhood. We are blessed to live in an area where dozens of trails are tucked in between houses and cul-de-sacs...  each trail has a myriad of options to choose from as well, making for a different adventure every day, if we so choose. The arrival of my mom last week coincided nicely with a change in the weather- April showers seem to be slowly ebbing and giving way to all things flowery and wonderful.






And speaking of flowery and wonderful ...



outfit from papa, bunny from nana :)





Little Miss Macie just keeps getting prettier and sweeter every day. I've gotten to babysit my grandbaby already, and it's like deja vu holding this little doll. She seems to be the perfect combination of her mommy and daddy - and all of my babies !-  rolled into one little bundle of cuteness. She has the most easy-going manner, but that little hint of a dimple makes me think she has a bit of spunk to her personality that we've yet to experience. No telling who she will be, but at the moment we are all quite smitten.






Our school year will be a drawing to a close in another month or so... in the mean time, we are filling our mornings with studying and spelling tests and reading and math lessons. The nice weather has been a tremendous motivator to get our schoolwork finished so the kids can go outside to play. One little person in particular is happiest when he's experiencing the great outdoors....





....give that boy a stick and some rocks and dirt to play with, and he's as happy as can be. My most needy child seems to forget that he was born wanting to be held by someone 24/7 as soon as we bring him outside. He will inspect every leaf, pebble and crack in the ground without so much as a peep  for an hour or more, every once in a while grinning up at us as if to say, "thank you- this is just where I want to be." Lots of hours soaking up the sunshine and exploring the world outside makes for long naps afterwards, and sweet sleep at night as well. One early morning last week, I heard him laughing in his sleep; if I know my little boy, he was dreaming of a pile of dirt with some sticks and stones thrown in for good measure. Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what Hayden is made of....







And just as true as that old nursery rhyme is for Hayden, the other half can be applied to his older sister Abigail. Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what our Abi-girl is made of. She loves cooking and baking and sewing and decorating, and she is probably going to surpass her older sister Mackenzie soon in all areas domestic. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she fulfills her dream of opening a bakery some day, as she is constantly dreaming up some new dessert for our family to enjoy. Last night she made a carrot cake from scratch for all of us, and I don't think I've ever tasted a finer version of that particular  dessert. It's a good thing I have six weeks worth of Weight Watcher's will power built up, or I would have eaten the whole thing myself.






Just a few more photos from this month ....


Josiah on the left with Macie, Jason with Norah


My two oldest babies have baby girls. How is this possible ?? Seems just yesterday my husband and his brother were posing for a similar photo, their baby girls in their arms and the same proud looks on their faces. Time truly does fly, and looking at this picture makes me vow to savor each and every blessed moment. The sweet and the bittersweet moments, the exciting and mundane moments, the proud and the sad and the wildly thrilling moments, and all the in-betweens... each day gives me the opportunity to enjoy a thousand gifts, and I'm thankful for each and every one of them, no matter how big or small.









“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.” 
― Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are







This is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
~Psalms 118:24


Happy spring !

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

announcing..

... Miss Macie Blair Rice ...



Josiah and Monique are the proud parents of this beautiful little angel. She weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces and was 20 inches long. She made her debut this past Friday at 9:19 a.m., ten days earlier than her due date.

before delivery



and after






Needless to say, we are all in love !! Watching my granddaughter arrive was one of the most beautiful and moving events I have ever witnessed. I am so proud of Monique- she was a labor and delivery champ. Macie was born face up, and Monique handled it as if she had given birth a hundred times before. Josiah was his calm, collected self, whereas I sobbed louder than anyone in the room. What can I say, I am an emotional basket case when it comes to these kinds of things.




Lily ADORES her little "May Mays"





She's the best little Easter present we ever did receive...




.... Mommy and Daddy are beyond blessed with their first little girl !!!



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HURRY !!!

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

saturday

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 STOP.

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 !!