Saturday, July 27, 2013

a pitiful little blogpost

I don't have any cute pics to post because my little birdie was sick for three days. Consequently she has a three-day rat's nest for hair and my house looks like a tornado hit it. Well, not that bad, but it's not presentable by any stretch. I have piles of dirty laundry and I'm supposed to spend the day packing us for a five day trip to Astoria next week to see family. I'm just recovering from mastitis (I'll spare you the layman's term since I know I have at least two male readers here) and I have a spoiled two month old needing to be held. I don't know how I'm going to get it all done, BUT I know I will. Somehow it always works out.

So this pitiful little blogpost is just to let you know things might be a little quiet next week on A Perfect Lily. Unless I can post some pics from my phone, I probably won't blog.

If you're going through withdrawals, you can always follow Lily on Instagram...there's a pretty cute video of her there right now as a matter of fact.

In the meantime there is a whole host of blogs on my sidebar you can check out...just don't forget to come back here when you're done !

Peace out...


Thursday, July 25, 2013

prayer request

We've got three kids down and we're praying it goes no further. Fevers, sore throats, tummy aches, chills...seems like strep, although two kids from church had viruses this past week that weren't strep. I hate sickness. I mean, I don't know anyone who likes it, but sickness in a large family is no fun. Please pray for Lily, Abbi and Caleb to feel better soon, and for the rest of the Rice Ranch to stay healthy.

Meanwhile, I'm headed back to the infirmary with popsicles, tylenol and water bottles. #yippee

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

full moon rising

So we never made it to Albany yesterday.

While we were getting ready to go I discovered that my absolute favorite Ann Taylor Loft t-shirt was missing, and it all went downhill from there.

Kids were fighting, Hayden was fussy, Lily had an attitude, and I think our dog was plotting to pee in a corner somewhere. I don't know that for sure, but she just had that look in her eye. The whole world seemed to be conspiring against me. If anyone out there had any illusions of me being supermom, they would have been shattered yesterday instantly upon stepping across the threshold of our home. Actually I don't think you would have even made it up the driveway before those illusions were shattered...I'm sure the sounds of children arguing and babies crying would have escaped our closed windows easily, and if not, then my cries of WHERE IS MY FAVORITE SHIRT DANGIT would have.

It was one of those days.

Consequently, a day of extreme-home-makeover ensued. But not the kind where gorgeous designer furniture replaced our used craigslist pieces. I mean the kind where every square inch of our home was gone over in search of that t-shirt...closets were organized, the laundry room was emptied of all its contents and meticulously reassembled, drawers were de-cluttered, and our van was cleaned within an inch of its life.

If you ever need motivation to clean out all the junk underneath every bed in your house, go ahead and lose your favorite t-shirt. The one that goes with jeans, capris and skirts and doesn't show that after-baby-roll just above your waistline. The one that is light-as-a-feather and doesn't require an additional layer of a tank top underneath, which means you aren't sweating profusely on these ninety-plus Oregon summer days. The one that you paid $24 for when you neeevvvvveeerrrr pay $24 for a t-shirt, because it was just that perfect.

And in spite of six hours of deep cleaning and multiple texts to friends and family asking for prayer for my missing t-shirt, in spite of a frazzled bunch of kids and a missed trip to our favorite second-hand shop for $3 kids clothes (hey, how else can we afford $24 t-shirts??) .... my beloved blouse was nowhere to be found.

Finally at quarter to six yesterday evening, when I had given up all hope of finding my beloved t-shirt, I  walked into our closet to find my flip-flops. I had to run Tyler to work, and I was sweaty, irritated, and grumpy. I think I even muttered a few Christian curse words under my breath as I moved Sam's shirts aside to grab my shoes. "If I flipping lost my flipping flip-flops as well, I'm going to flipping lose my flipping mind," I think were my exact words.

And lo and behold...there was my t-shirt.

Nestled snuggly between all of Sam's boring Costco golf shirts, hanging delicately on one of his wooden hangers, was my precious Ann Taylor $24 perfectly fitting feather-weight t-shirt.

Cue Heavens opening and hallelujah chorus breaking forth from above.

So just like that the mood in our home shifted, and things just got better from there.

Sam came home and put Hayden to sleep while I sliced watermelon and made paninis for everyone ...with a smile on my face and Christmas music in the air (hey, it's July!). One of my teenagers, who shall remain nameless, actually apologized for his earlier surly attitude. Lily ate her dinner without any tantrums, the kids all decided they were each others best friends again, and I think I even saw a smile on our dog's face. It was that much of a sea change in our home, and I'm sure all the angels breathed a sigh of relief.

After dinner Mackenzie and I went for a walk to the top of our neighborhood. We live in an area of town that overlooks all of Corvallis if you find the right spot, and you could not have asked for a more perfect evening sky. The temperature was perfect, not too hot and not too cool, the birds were singing, the sun was setting and the full moon was rising, and yes - I was wearing my favorite t-shirt to enjoy it all.


It was a perfect end to a terrible day.

And the icing on the cake was coming home to this production, just a little something my creative kids cooked up while I was gone...

...The Rice Ranch was restored to normal and all was right with the world.

Happy Tuesday !!

Monday, July 22, 2013

monday madness

We are headed to Albany to do some second hand shopping. 'Cuz we're all about buy used and save the difference, dontcha know ...(name that family ??)

This is my favorite kind of post to do, because I can just post pictures and throw random thoughts along with them and call it good. It might be noted that I always receive the least amount of comments on these kind of posts, so it's possible that these are not your favorite kinds of posts to read. That's okay, I forgive you. You can toss a few tomatoes at your own computer screen and I won't mind. Just remember I'll be back later with something much more meaningful to say.


Lily loves coffee.

Okay, it's not really coffee, but she thinks it is, and she loves it. Actually, what she loves is the whole experience of going to Coffee Culture where her big sissy works, and getting her own cup with her name on it and a treat in a bag. Yesterday this event took place before church, and little sister marched into the foyer with her (fake) mocha in one hand and cookie in the other, rockin' her peach gladiators like a boss. Sista gots style and culture.

Next on my list of randomness:

...Hayden hates his new bathtub.

 He did fine previously with the dunk-in-the-sink method, but going solo in a tubful of bubbles is not his cup of tea. Still, he looks so adorable crying that I am not above telling him to "hold that pout" while I snap a photo for memory sake. I love pouting babies !

And also...

...I love happy babies.

I love happy sleeping toddlers cozied up to happy babies.

Happy curious toddlers cozying up to happy breakable babies, not so much.

Lily has suddenly decided she is in love with her baby brother, and as a result I spend every waking moment making sure she is displaying her affection safely. The first time I caught her trying to roll him onto her lap was cute...the third fourth and fifth time I had to rescue him from her precarious grasp, I realized it was a good thing she just now decided she likes him. Apparently those first two months of tolerance on her part were a blessing from God, because I didn't have to keep my eyes glued to Hayden 24/7. Needless to say, I am wishing that old saying about mothers having eyes in the back of their heads was true. As I don't foresee that coming to pass any time soon, I am praying a hedge of protection around the littlest member of our family. Heck, make it a thick cement wall, Lord :)

And finally...

My girls are beautiful. I look at pictures of them and it just hits me what a gift I've been given. I have eight wonderful sons and three stunning daughters. Eleven kids - wowzers. And the thing is, they just keep getting cuter and cuter with every baby, so why stop now ?

(I will know if you're really reading the words in five, four, three, two....)

okay, you passed the test. I'm not pregnant.

But stay tuned !!!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

some baby k and lily love

...for your weekend viewing pleasure....

And maybe some Hayden love too...

happy weekend !!

Friday, July 19, 2013

a baby sent from the stars

This post is one of the most important blog posts I've shared to date. I'm not saying that lightly - if you've never taken the time to watch a video I've posted here, I'm asking you to watch this one.

As many of you have read here before, my oldest son Jason and his wife Naomi are in the process of adopting through foster care. Thanks to the prayers of many, many readers, friends and loved ones, Baby K will officially be a part of their family this year...I say officially, because he's been a part of our families from day one.

Last year Jason and Naomi completed a homestudy through an adoption agency in Portland and joined their waiting pool. They have had two failed adoptions, meaning the birth mothers chose to parent rather than choose adoption for their babies. While we rejoice that these babies are lovingly being raised by their birth moms, there's no getting around the fact that our hearts were a little bit...okay a lot...torn in the process. Adoption can be a rocky road for sure, but we know that when it happens - when Jason and Naomi find their baby sent from the stars - it will all make sense. When they hold that baby in their arms they'll know - you're the one we were waiting for.

This adoption video tells their story...I'm asking readers to pray for Jason and Naomi in their journey to adoption. Please feel free to share this video as well, whether that's on your blog or your FB page or wherever. If you know of a mom or couple seeking a wonderful family to raise their baby, I can't think of a better one than Jason and Naomi.

Jason & Naomi from J.A.M. Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rice Family Syndrome

There are much scarier syndromes to deal with in life than Down syndrome.

For instance, your kids could be born with Rice Family Syndrome.

Fortunately for most families, the odds of giving birth to a child with this diagnosis are extremely low.

Unless of course, you share our last name. In which case...prepare yourself for daily doses of this :

P.S. There is no known cure. Pray for us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

your words

In case you missed it, there were some wonderful comments on the last few posts I wrote. I am always so encouraged to hear others' perspectives and input when it comes to challenges we face regarding Down syndrome. I don't know how many readers go back and read comments left on previous posts, so in case you missed these, I'm copying them here for you. Thank you so much to the moms who contributed !

(And I'm adding some photos of Lily in between the comments, because who doesn't appreciate a little Lily love ??)

Comments from Two Paths ....

Cindy said...
Loved this. I remember those same feelings when Beth was small. That pain in the pit of your stomach. But today?As I read those words that she will never be a mama, the thought that came into my head was, "Oh yea." Beth is 28 and she's not a mama. But her life is so full and busy. Beth has talked about wanting a boyfriend, but never a baby. I'm glad you're not letting the should-have-beens rob you. The what-will-be path is pretty spectacular !

 eliz said...
My group home gal MA was never a momma. For 26 years she watched me adopt and give birth. She always told me she too was going to get married, she too was going to have a baby! :o) I never disagreed with her. Who was I to say! And then one day about 5 years ago, she and I were both 51 years young, she told me she wasn't getting married ever. She doesn't even want a boyfriend! And she never spoke of having a baby again. But the JOY she has LOVING on mine seems to be more than enough for her. Her cup is over flowing. Her JOY is contagious! And when our boys from Bulgaria came at ages- 5,6,8,8 and 10, MA immediately called them the "babies"!! She proudly tells everyone who will listen "I LOVE babies!!" And they think she means baby-babies- No she means her 5 "baby" boys with Down Syndrome!! LOL!!
She also has, like you mentioned- many brothers and sisters. She has LOVED and adored every one of her now grown nieces and nephews that her 7 brothers and sisters have had! And she now proudly tells people she is now a "Great" Auntie!

I have a sister 47 years old who never married, never had children and has none of the JOY that MA has!! (((HUGS))) I adore Lily, you and your family!

cara said...
I remember having one of these moments after Benji was born. I think we were still waiting on his genetic testing, or maybe we just found out. But I knew he had down syndrome, regardless, in my heart. I never went through the grief many mamas have gone through when I had him. I knew he was a gift, and I was so in love with him and who he was those first few days. I was ready to accept his having down syndrome. But I will never forget this one day I was in the shower. My mind wandered into the boy I thought I was having and how Benji would not be able to do those things I had hoped and imagined for him. It did not last long, but it was very hard to process. I chose to not stay there as well. And I continued on. I am thankful for this boy and who he is. Every now and then, I begin to think about his future in a way that is concerning. But then I get back where I am and cherish that day thinking about the Lord saying to not give thought for tomorrow.

Thank you for posting your heart Patti. I know how encouraging it always is for me and I know so many others as well.

LOVE the pictures!!!! xoxo

EN said...
I agree that Lily will be a phenomenal aunt someday - just like my sister is :-) And I can honestly say that Leanne has never questioned why she does not have kids. She is very content and accepting of her life. I may have referenced this article before but it bears repeating because it is so beautifully written: George Will writes about his adult son with DS:

The eldest of four siblings, he has seen two brothers and a sister surpass him in size, and acquire cars and college educations. He, however, with an underdeveloped entitlement mentality, has been equable about life’s sometimes careless allocation of equity. Perhaps this is partly because, given the nature of Down syndrome, neither he nor his parents have any tormenting sense of what might have been. Down syndrome did not alter the trajectory of his life; Jon was Jon from conception on.

That's how I feel about Leanne. She is not the absence of a promise of what a sister should be. She is exactly as God made her and she is perfect in His image. And she, like 99% of people with DS, is happy with her life:

I also think any of our children may not grow up to embrace the traditional notions of what adulthood is all about. Any of our children can opt not to get married or have babies. Perhaps they'd prefer to be a jet-setting career person or a devout humanitarian or clergy member. The most important thing is that you encourage Lily (and the others) to work hard to achieve her highest potential and use her gifts to help others :-) 

Tami said...
Love this post as it hits so close to home! My Emme Ann just graduated from preschool. She is the only child with Ds at the school. When they perform their little ceremony they call each child's name before they walk across the stage where they will stop by the director who asks them what they want to be when they grow up. Since the first graduation ceremony we attended we wondered if she would be able to do this. She did it! She was just amazing and so serious in her little cap and gown. We were so proud but a little sad at the same time because she said she wanted to be a "mommy" when she grew up. I still tear up when I think about it but in reading your post and the other comments people have left, I feel a little better. Most of the time this whole Down syndrome thing doesn't bother me in the least but every once in a while, it hits me.
I think this is my first comment on your blog which I stumbled across a few months ago. I really enjoy reading about Miss Lily and the rest of your family. After 26 years of marriage and a 20 year old "only child" daughter we were caught by surprise when we found out we were pregnant! We had suffered a miscarriage and endured many years of trying to have more children. We had given up and were actually enjoying being empty nesters. God had another plan and blessed us with our own perfect Emme. She is such an amazing little girl and it kind of works out great that it takes her a little longer to do things because we are old! I don't know that I would be able to keep up with a 5 year old typical child at the age of 52!
I always look forward to your insightful and honest posts and, of course, the beautiful pictures.

Thank you,

teal915 said...
It used to be a very sore spot for me that Ka dun would never be a mommy. It doesn't hurt me like it used to because of what you said. I like how you described it. I think it's exactly right. A choice. I choose to believe that Kamdyn's life will be fulfilled in other ways. That she will find meaningful love in her own way. Someone said to me once that maybe she won't know the live of a mother for a child, but maybe she will live everyone like that. I don't know if that will be true, but I think there is something to that statement. Kamdyn's love will probably be more pure and naturally unconditional. So I have no doubts that she will experience live to the fullest. I've heard several adults with DS talk about the subject of kids. Monica and David talked about wanting kids in their documentary on getting married. At the ndsc convention a couple years ago, they were asked how they felt about it at that point, and their response was "too much work". They wanted to snuggle and love the babies but not wake up in the middle of the night, change poop, etc. this year, we heard them speak again at a conference in Philly. They still say the same thing: too much work. They've been married for 10 years or so by now, so I doubt they will change their feelings on it. But now they both work in a daycare for kids with disabilities. I thought that was great. So I honestly, in my heart, don't believe Kamdyn will be sad about it. I think that if the time comes that she expresses it as so etching she does want, we will talk about it and work through it, but I don't think she will ever feel it is something she is missing.

Jenny said...
I've read this three times now, I can just totally relate to it. I remember when they first told me Russell had Ds they sat us down in a room and went down the long list of medical issues he would face. When the Doctor mentioned he would never have kids, I broke. I don't know why that devastated me the way it did, but it hurt so bad to hear that. I do remember the Doctor telling me though that it would be ok, that he would be "Cool Uncle Russell" And I know those words may not have comforted everyone, but they comforted me in that moment...And to this day. "Cool Uncle Russell", is not such a bad thing :)

MamaV said...
Frankly, we don't know that any of our children will be able to be parents... Until they are.
Or maybe Jesus will return before they get the chance.
Either way, God's path for each of us is the very best! Lily will be a blessing to those around her for a long time, I am sure!

M. E. Stephens said...
I found your blog today through a link at another blog. Reading your struggle I just wanted to say a few words in Christ.

First, there are plenty of "normal" ladies in this world who, for various reasons, are not able to have children of their own. Your sweet girl will not be alone shouldering this burden. By God's grace, she will rise above it and become the person God intends for her to be within that confine. It will hurt, I know, but she will have the opportunity to pass that comfort on to others, Lord willing - and so will you.

Secondly, I'm very glad for both you and her that you choose to believe that she will use her mothering skills for others. There are many aunts, sisters, and friends who have done so - whether they had children of their own or not. And, sadly, there are many mothers in this world who have no skills for nurturing the children they do have. God has given Lily a special gift and He will see to it that she can use it in a way that will both glorify Him and satisfy her. Your job is to encrouage her to that goal. :-)

And, remember this - if we never needed comfort, we wouldn't know how to pass God's comfort on to others. And, how great is the ministry of comfort in this hurting world? 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's all his fault...

...this little guy's, I mean ....

....if you've emailed me since he was born and I didn't respond, he's why. And if you left an important question in the comment section and I didn't write back - blame it on Hayden as well.

I am completely behind on thank you notes, emails, birthday presents (but any of my out of town relatives will tell you that is nothing new !!) and it's ALL Hayden's fault. I mean, look at that adorable smile and those cuddly little arms - would you be able to resist spending all day holding him ?? I admit it - he's the most spoiled Rice baby to date. He absolutely does NOT want to be put down for a minute, and if he is in my arms he is a completely happy baby. The photo above was taken during one of those rare moments where he was happy out of my arms, but immediately after I took it, he actually jumped right onto my chest and glued himself to me. He's amazing like that. I'm calling these past two months "the fourth trimester" because he does not understand that he's not physically attached to me anymore...I am literally carrying him an additional trimester right now.

Sooooo, all of that to say - if you have emailed me or left a comment that I was supposed to respond to, it is NOT that I haven't read either one - I've just been a flake about getting on the computer and typing out a response. I promise you I read every comment and email and I mentally comment or email you back... I'm just not as good as doing so in real life, and I lay the blame entirely on Hayden. He said I could do that.

In fact, at the moment he is yelling at me to get off the computer and resume our 24/7 bonding session immediately.

Peace out....

xo Patti

Monday, July 15, 2013

love never fails

I'm missing my dad a lot today. He's been gone a little over a month, and every day there are reminders that he isn't with us anymore. It's so hard to believe that I can't just pick up the phone and hear his familiar voice answer, "Hello, Pa- TREE -sha."

Last night I had a recurring dream, and this morning I thought about something my dad always wanted to do... he wanted to figure out what makes dreams happen. He thought dreams were so interesting, and he wanted to know what caused them - why we dream the things we do.

I read recently that dreams are where we live out our hopes and fears. If we have a fear of heights we might have recurring dreams about falling or flying (I can bear witness to this.) If we fear speaking in front of people, we might dream about standing before a crowd without our notes...or our clothes. My mom used to always dream about losing one of us children. She "only" had three kids, but we were always disappearing in her dreams... I can't tell you how many times I've had the same dream, multiplied by (almost) four. I always wake up from those nightmares and have to go count all of my sleeping children just to make sure they're all safe.

Often times my dreams are filled with my hopes...I'll dream about our church being filled to overflowing with people, and there are so many visitors coming in that we don't have room for them to sit. Of course my fears can be thrown into the mix as well - I'm usually sitting at the piano in my underwear in those dreams, and I cannot for the life of me find my music when we start to sing. Other dreams are of my family living in a gigantic house with bedrooms for each child, and every room is decorated like my Pinterest Boards. I wake up and look at my simple bedroom furniture ... or lack thereof ... and quickly close my eyes, trying to get back into my dream. 

So last night I dreamed a dream that I've had for three and a half years's one I blogged about last year in a post called Enough. Maybe it was triggered by a conversation on Instagram last night - a friend had asked about that post, as she wanted to recommend it to another mom. Or maybe it came because of my frustration with Lily's speech yesterday - she was sitting in her high chair asking for the same thing over and over again, and I had no clue what she was saying. She said the same word exactly the same way so many times, that I knew she knew what she wanted, and she followed it again and again with a heartfelt "please!".  I got her out of her high chair and carried her over to the refrigerator, asking her to point out what she was asking for, but she just shook her head no, plopped her thumb in her mouth and gave up. I asked her to sign the word for me, but she buried her head into my shoulder and refused to talk. I hated that I couldn't figure out what she wanted, and it frustrated me that she gave up so easily. 

Whatever the trigger, I dreamed that my little girl could talk last night. And the dream was so vivid, so absolutely real, that I woke up wondering if it was true. 

In my dream, Lily was sitting in her highchair singing. Her hair fell across her forehead in a little wave, and she smiled the same crinkly-eyed smile that I'm so used to seeing every day. I don't remember the words to her song, but I know that she sang them so clearly, so precisely, that in my dream I was amazed. I asked her a question and she answered it directly, and her voice sounded exactly like it does "in real life" - but without the delays. Words just flowed right our of her mouth like a stream, and I remember thinking - this is magical. It felt like a whole world opened up between us, and the more she spoke, the bigger I smiled. 

And as always happens with dreams - I woke up. Hayden had been stirring in his co-sleeper, and his soft cries had roused me from my sleep. The sound of Lily's voice was still echoing in my ears as I pulled my baby into bed with me ... it was as if two worlds were colliding with each other and I didn't know which one to believe.

It was dark in our room, and Lily was curled up beside me in bed...I looked at my little girl sleeping so peacefully.... 

...and I realized it was just a dream.

And there it was again, that knife-like feeling just under my ribs, the one I felt just last week at the thought of Lily not being a mama some day, the one that says, "This isn't fair."

I wish I could say that I rallied quickly to the path I know I need to take - the one that looks truth in the eye and doesn't blink. But for me the nighttime always seems to be where I battle my inner demons the most, and it's harder for me to face my fears than in the light of day.

So I nursed Hayden back to sleep and tried to will away that ugly feeling, and I would love to say that I poured out my heart to God in prayer and found comfort there...but really I just fell asleep.

And in the morning, I woke up and saw the sweetest little girl lying in bed beside me - her hair falling over her forehead in a little wave - and it was gone. That terrible feeling of loss and sadness and this isn't fair was completely gone, and in its place was my beautiful daughter whom I wouldn't trade for the world.

I can't explain my love for Lily, or how that love just changes everything - but it does.

Sure, I have hopes and dreams for her future- I want so much to hear her speak as clearly and as meaningfully as the Lily of my dreams. We have moments of frustration, and maybe Down syndrome is to blame for some of that. But any mom or dad can tell you there are moments of frustration or sadness raising any child - it's just part of the journey called parenting.

Raising Lily is a challenge, and I know it will continue to be challenging. Speech is the biggest challenge we've faced so far, and I know it's something we'll be working on for a long time.

But in the mean time, I have this little golden girl to enjoy, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for entrusting me with her care. I'm praying every day that my dream comes true, but until then, I have a beautiful little flower to love and to nurture every day, my sunshine...a perfect Lily.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

two paths

Last night the children and I were relaxing in our sunroom after a hot day here in Oregon. There was a cool breeze blowing through the screened windows, and I was nursing Hayden in one chair while Lily did the same with her doll in another. I watched her tenderly caress her baby's cheek as she whispered shhh - shhh - shhh to her...she leaned over and kissed her baby's forehead and sat her up to pat her back after she finished "nursing". She was the perfect little mama, and I felt so much love for Lily watching her display those instinctive mothering feelings my other little girls have shared.

And out of nowhere came the Down syndrome bus.

That ugly, joy-sapping thief came barreling down the highway of my mind, ready to scatter any thoughts of happiness in a thousand directions.

"Lily will never be a mama," I thought.

Do you ever have things hit you like that - maybe not even related to Down syndrome - and it's more than just a thought, it's a physical pain that strikes the pit of your stomach? In fact I'm feeling it right now trying to describe it.

I hate that feeling.

The phone rang and I handed Hayden to Abigail, while I talked to a friend. She cradled her baby brother in her arms and slipped his binkie into his mouth. Lily climbed into the chair across from Abbi and cuddled her baby as well. She rocked and shushed, sang and swayed her baby to sleep. I hung up the phone and fought that horrible feeling of dismay, and thought about all the things in the world that just don't seem fair. Little girls should grow up to be mamas, shouldn't they ? Little girls with instinctive, mothering, nurturing hearts should be able to have their own little girls some day. Shouldn't they ?

Lily slipped off her chair and wandered to the table to find a bag of wipes to change her baby. She looked so sweet attempting to clean her baby that I caught the moment on video to show her daddy later on. She chattered to her baby and I caught little words and phrases I use when changing Hayden. I couldn't help laughing at her determination and precision as she carefully laid down a wipie and not-so-carefully flopped her baby onto the floor.

And right then, as Abigail and I laughed at her little sister's diaper-changing expertise, I thought to myself...this is a fork-in-the-road kind of moment for me.

I have two paths I can go down in my mind. One is a path of self-pity and sadness and grief and what-should-have-been. I can go down that road if I want to - there are some pretty big ruts there from years of grinding the wheels of my mind.

But the other path is the way out. It's the one I have to deliberately decide to go down, because my natural inclination is to choose the other. This path is the one that looks truth right in the eye - Lily will never be a mama - and reframes the sadness that goes with it. She won't ever be a mama, but she will always have babies around her to love. She has ten brothers and sisters who will no doubt give her multiplied nieces and nephews to cherish and nurture and devote herself to, and if I really believe that God works all things together for the good, I know He has wonderful things ahead for Lily.

Will she know she is missing out on the gift of motherhood some day ? Will she feel heartache when the day comes when she realizes that isn't a possibility ? I have a tiny inkling she will.

I'm bothered by the stereotype of people with Down syndrome "always being happy" - because I see on a regular basis that it simply isn't true. Lily has a full range of emotions just like any of my other children - she is stubborn, she is feisty, she shows disappointment and sorrow and even shame. And I have no doubt that whatever her intellectual capacity is when she becomes an adult, she will still run the gamut of emotions that she does today.

But isn't that what we all go through as "typical" adults ? We have disappointments and frustrations, we deal with grief and hardship and uncertainty and unfairness... along with joy and happiness and contentment and excitement and love. Each one of us will go through hard times in our lives - there is no escaping that on this side of Heaven. And each one of us has a decision to make about how we handle those unfair things we are handed.

We can let those things break us or shape us....

I'm choosing the latter.

It hurts that Lily won't be a mom some day. But this is life - sometimes beautiful, sometimes broken... but  I'm choosing to be thankful.

I am so thankful for this little girl, the one who starts almost every day with a smile, who fills our hearts to overflowing with her spirit of joy. You can't be around Lily without noticing her zest for life, and I'm going to do everything I can as a mama to make sure she carries that same spirit into adulthood. I'm going to make sure that "Aunt Lily" has every opportunity to employ her nurturing instincts on dozens of nieces and nephews, and I have no doubt her siblings will reap the benefits of that as well.

I'm not going to allow the should-have-beens to rob me of what-will-be, and I'm going to teach Lily to do the same.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
  I took the one less traveled by
  And that has made all the difference."

~Robert Frost

Monday, July 8, 2013

weekend news

It's Monday...which means lots of weekend laundry to do, and as always we are starting the day slow. 

At the Rice Ranch that looks like this: everyone still in jammies at eleven a.m. and the smell of pancakes still thick in the air. And a certain little Lilybird may or may not be running around naked as a jaybird, while mommy leisurely sips her second cup of tea at the computer. Daddy and Mackenzie and Tyler are in Arizona for a week of Bible conference, so we're taking things extra slow this morning. I don't know why I feel no personal accountability to get things clean and rolling when Sam is gone, but I don't. In fact, I just might stay in my jammies all day...and throw some laundry on the floor just for fun. (If you live in town, don't stop by unexpectedly. All of your perceptions of me as a competent housewife will be quickly shattered. Sorry.)

Anyhoot, our weekend was lovely. The cutest grandkid in the universe turned two, and Jason and Naomi threw him the cutest birthday party in the world to match. It was Elmo themed- his favorite- and you can see how spectacular it was HERE.

Lily was especially impressed with the food, namely the potato chips...

...and she was also enamored with Koa's new motorcycle. He was thrilled with his new bat and ball, picked out by is it possible that we have a grandson turning two when just yesterday we were celebrating his dad's second birthday ?!

Speaking of impossibilities, Koa's uncle is already eight weeks old....

"Uncle" Hayden is filling out !!

I know I'm a little biased, but aren't those the most delicious little lips you've ever seen ? I wuv him !!!

Abigail asked for knotty buns like Lily's this weekend. For those who have been eyeing Lily's peach gladiators on instagram, big sissy Kenzie bought them for her on clearance at Old Navy for five bucks.

Side note: I wore similar ones back in my high school days...I knew if I held onto them they'd come back in style one day.




Just a little hashtag love for you there.

Quite a few blog friends have asked how Lily is doing with her new baby brother. I think it's safe to say she's moved from sanctified apathy (she wasn't mad at him, but there was no love lost either at first) to cautious curiosity. She is the binkie replacer, the diaper fetcher, and she does a great job of shushing when he is in need of some comfort. Baby Hayden is also the happy recipient of multiplied big sister smooches throughout the day, but do not ask Lily to hold him ! I don't know if his squirmy arms and legs freak her out, or if she's worried we'll start enlisting her babysitting skills on a regular basis, but clearly asking her to engage in that much physical contact is crossing the line. Still, we are seeing progress here, and I'm sure in a few months she'll be as smitten as we are.

Two items of business before I go attack that mountain of weekend laundry calling my name...I haven't heard from the winner of the iPad yet. Julie, please contact me by Wednesday so we can get your prize in the mail to you.

Also, our friend Ashely is hosting a wonderful auction HERE to help rescue an orphan named Ollie. Please visit to see how you can help.

Happy Monday !!

Friday, July 5, 2013

summer bucket list

It's July already. I almost can't believe it, can you ? Maybe it's because our family went through so much in May and June- the birth of Hayden, the loss of my father and Sam's, and the news that our grandson is now able to be adopted by Jason and Naomi - that those two months are a blur of events and emotions. We are still rejoicing over Baby K and Hayden, and still very much grieving and missing our dads. 

My dad and mom would have celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary next Wednesday... Sam's dad's memorial service will be held in Arizona next Friday... it is still so hard for us to believe these two men we called Dad are not with us anymore. Honestly, I still feel like it's not real. Part of me feels like we'll wake up tomorrow and it will all be a dream and we'll see them again. So when it's all too much to take, I remind myself that is exactly what Heaven will be like - like waking up - and this life will just be a dream, and we will see our loved ones again. In the blink of an eye we'll be changed and reunited.

That's how we get through the difficulty of our losses - remembering that this life isn't all there is. And at the same time, we embrace the beautiful things life does have to offer ... waking up to sleeping babies snuggled beside us, summer days filled with things we didn't have time for during the school year, picnics and beach trips and celebrations and church and campouts in the family room ... we don't want life to go on sometimes, but it does.

I think the hardest part about losing the people we love is forcing ourselves to move forward. I want time to stand still, and I don't want anyone to forget that the world is a little emptier with our dads gone. But things just don't work that way, you know? Diapers need to be changed, dinner needs to be made, laundry always needs to be done... life doesn't stop for grief. 

I love what my dear friend Ann has to say about these seasons of life...

“It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us...” 
~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

And I'm so thankful for these bright spots of joy, the little rays of sunshine that force me to focus on what is lovely and pure and true.  

I've heard so many people say the same thing about tragedy, and I'm experiencing it myself right now. Death and loss bring a greater appreciation for what we have. It causes me to love my children harder, hold them tighter, linger over a goodnight hug a little longer. 

I still remember the night of September 11th - I wanted all of my kids to sleep in our bedroom, and I wished my brother and sister and parents and I all lived in the same state again. Why does it take a tragedy to make me realize what's really important in life? I don't have the answer to that, but I'm letting this past month's events shape me in a good way. I'm taking notes for the future: stop sweating the small stuff, slow down, take time for the truly important things, and don't let a day go by without intentionally showing the people I love that I love them.

I want to live life fully awake - I want to pay attention to the goodness that is right in front of me.

nursing her baby :)

I am finding myself praying more and praying with greater fervency for the people I love. I feel so aware of the fact that there's just a veil between this life and the next - we're all just a heartbeat away from eternity, and I want to live a life that is pleasing to God and meaningful and intentional. 

 ^^^ this is Lily, dancing in Children's Church. she's not content to just sing.

I want to relish these moments when my little ones are still little. 

I want to let them stay in bed with me a little longer in the mornings, wake up slowly, savor this time when the most important thing in their lives is which baseball card is the coolest.

I want to add meaningful things to my summer bucket list, things my kids will remember. Important things like buy a snow cone at the park, and spend an afternoon at the library,  and enjoy a game of Clue... 

I want to stop worrying about what the world will look like when my kids grow up, and just enjoy what it looks like right now. 

I want to soak up every blessed moment of this day.

Like this moment....

...and this moment....

...and this one too....

I am determining to notice the little how my baby smells after his bath...

..or how he curls his fingers and toes...

...and how his tiny arms reach the top of his head when he stretches out just so...

I want to slow down and pay attention, be thankful for the miracle of life.

Because there are miracles all around me if I look. Jutting right up against the hurting spot in my heart there are incredible answers to prayer, and it's okay for the two to co-exist. That's life in all its marvelous complexity: our hearts weren't intended to yield only to grief. There is a time for sadness and a time for mourning and in the midst of it all God brings grace and comfort and hope. 

One of the things I'm most thankful for in my life is a happy childhood. I was blessed with two parents who loved to make things wonderful for my brother and sister and me, and even in times of struggle, we always knew we were loved. We weren't a perfect family - we fought and cried, we made up and fought again. But there was aways love, and I am so grateful for the solid foundation my parents gave me of family. I want my kids to have those kinds of memories. I want them to know that no matter what we did or didn't have, we had love. 

I am so mindful today of the blessings I've been given. We don't live in a mansion, we don't drive the nicest cars, and sometimes we're just barely getting by. 

But I have things that no amount of money can buy. I have untold riches in my possession because of the grace and mercy of a loving Savior. 

Like a husband who adores me...

And a little girl who is sunshine itself...

...and little people who fill my days with joy unspeakable....

So again, I'll borrow from a friend's words, because really my summer bucket list is summed up in this:

How many moments of my life have my eyes been wide open but I've been rushing, racing, sleeping right through?
How many of the popsicle days and the running and twirling and spinning days.
How many of the moments of melting ice cream and crazy laughter and dangling bare feet and the setting sun igniting the moment of NOW.

Someone wake me up to the beating of wings and splashing of water... the setting of fog at twilight... the way the leaves and the childhood slip away in the woods, torched with the last of summer. 

What if we really figured it out? That gratitude for the seemingly small and insignificant - this is the seed that plants the giant miracle in the midst of it all - so COUNT the ways He loves... a 1,000 more.... never stop... so that when you wake in the morning you can't help unfold your hands to the heavens.
And though you grieve and though you wonder... though the world is ugly... it IS beautiful! And though time moves on - its moments are holy.
And though the planet spins a blur - you can slow and you can wake and you can trust and you can pay attention to the moments with this offering of thanks. 

Because this is how you spend your one life well... receiving each moment for what it really is - holy. Ordinary. Amazing Grace. A gift.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What's on your summer bucket list ?