Friday, February 28, 2014


An emergency meeting of the sock sisters has been called via email this evening. It resulted in this post.

There's so much to say, but in a nutshell: I need your help.

Friends, I can't tell you how important this is.

My friend Elizabeth....  words fail...  my beautiful friend, Elizabeth needs a miracle. Cancer stinks, and Elizabeth is not dong well. I'm asking you to pray for healing for her - if you've been a reader here for the past few years, you know who and what I'm referring to.

The one thing that makes Elizabeth happy- the thing that is helping her right this minute, as she's fighting an infection and fighting cancer and fighting for her life- is helping others.

It's called The Dehority Distraction.

And this time we want to give her a BIG distraction... and this is where YOU come in.

This is Luke - an orphan with Down syndrome.

... his family needs $14,000 to be fully funded, so that they can go bring him home from China.

There is a BIG giveaway going on over HERE....

...please, please, PLEASE - will you go donate to Luke's family and be entered to win that amazing prize and more ??

Elizabeth put this all together- you know that great organization called Make A Wish ?? Well if they had that for adults, Elizabeth would ask for this to happen...for Luke's family to be funded, and that she could be a part of the miracle to make that happen. This is Elizabeth's wish.

Will you help me make it come true ??

Please go to Julia's post to donate and be entered to win... and grant Elizabeth's wish in the process.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

life with lily

I was sorting through photos in my lightroom library just now, and I found a few of my favorites that I realized I hadn't shared.

And then I thought about the fact that I haven't really written much about Down syndrome specifically in awhile on the blog... I guess because it doesn't even find itself on my radar most days..

...but today I'll devote a post to it. Just because.

Lily is four years old right now... in some ways we are seeing the gap widen a bit as far as her "abilities" go. Here's what she can't do (yet) that perhaps a lot of four year olds are doing right now :

Get herself completely dressed independently.  She tries, oh does she try. This usually results in her pants pulled halfway up, over several pairs of her siblings' chonies. (If you're not from the southwest, chonies = underpants.) She can pull a shirt over her head, and maybe get an arm stuck in a sleeve or two, unless it's a loose shirt. She's great at putting shoes on if they're not too tight, but it's 50/50 as to whether they will be on the right feet. But that's pretty on par with a typical four year old, so props to her for that, right ?

Run. She has a lightning fast walk, that almost resembles a run, given how fast her little arms are working to propel her forward. And I guess you could almost call it running, based on how quickly she gets to where she wants to go (usually away from me if we are in a public place and she wants to disobey... she thinks it's funny.) But as far as a knees-in-the-air, full-on RUN... this is not happening quite yet. Probably a good thing, given her love for darting away from me while laughing hysterically, as mentioned a few sentences back.

Speak in complete sentences.  More on what she can do as far as speech in a minute, but a complete sentence such as "I have to go potty" is still something we're working on with Lily. Which leads me to...

Going potty in the toilet. We attempted potty training one year ago. We saw a teeny tiny microscopic bit of success, followed by absolute zero success. If you're a mom who is into being mommy-trained (taking your little one to the potty every twenty minutes a day) then kudos to you. I just don't have the time or desire. We tried again to potty train a few weeks ago...I say that in the loosest sense of the word. With six children to homeschool and a verrrry full plate, I don't have three days to commit to the "three day method" or anything else that resembles strict adherence to a Plan For Potty Training. I spent a few days letting Lily wear chonies (her own, not her siblings) and set the timer somewhat regularly... I employed all the tools we used with previous kids to see if she was ready for potty training, to no avail. Lily is a smart cookie- she gets that she's supposed to "try" when she's sitting on her potty. She makes the appropriate faces and grunts (pretty funny to witness) and she claps for herself and grabs a chunk of tp to finish the job... but there's nothing in the potty to actually validate all the clapping and wiping going on. Five or ten minutes after we leave the bathroom, inevitably, there is a trail of pee following her down the hallway or wherever she is playing. And she's oblivious. She doesn't even look down to see what is flowing from her chonies- and when I call her attention to it, "OH !! LOOK, LILY ! PEE PEE!" she stares at it blankly, and does not seem one bit motivated to get it off her legs.

All of this to say- I don't think she is ready for this quite yet. I'm not frustrated, or concerned, because every mom I've talked to who has been down this road with a child with special needs, encourages me that she will get there. I'm just not into putting a million minutes of effort towards something that she's not ready for right now. We will try again this summer, perhaps, but for now we are giving this area some time.

Sooooo... onto what Lily can do, as a four year old with Down syndrome. I'm sure I didn't exhaust the list of the "can'ts", but those that I listed were the significant ones, I think. This list will be much longer, because that's what we're observing about Down syndrome right now- there seems to be a wider gap in the "can't" section as far as when she will hit those milestones.  But the things she can do ...  well, take a look...

At four years old, Lily can...

Feed herself independently. She needs no help at all in using a fork, a spoon, a sippie cup (she can drink from a regular cup, but I use sippie cups for all of my kids at age four - because I'm anal like that, and I don't like ANY spills on my carpet.)

Sit quietly and read a book. She may not be able to read the words on the pages...yet.. but she makes up her own, and points to the pictures to describe what she sees. She carefully turns pages and takes time on each one before moving on to the next. She typically has her baby doll sitting on her lap as she does this, and often pulls a blanket over the both of them to ensure coziness during reading time. Yesterday I found her lying on the stairs, head propped on a pillow, blanket draped over her little body, laughing and reading one of the kids' books to herself. Every now and then she would chuckle and say "oooohh gosh!", so I knew whatever book she was devouring was a good one.

Climb up onto and down off the couch, the bed, a chair, the stairs.  For the most part she has no problem getting where she wants to go. She is very adept at grabbing onto the sheets and pulling herself up onto our bed, which is several feet off the ground. She can climb in and out of Hayden's co-sleeper with no problem. She loves to climb into cabinets if they're left open, or hide herself in any little cozy spot she can find.

Let the kids know when she wants in on their fun. If they go in their room and shut the door, she is sure to follow - knock loudly - and yell PLEEEEASE at the top of her lungs. In fact, as I'm typing this, she is knocking on the door that leads out to the garage where the kids are, yelling "GUYS ! GARAGE ! PLEASE !" Girlfriend can't stand being left out.

Pack her things up when it's time to go somewhere. If we are headed out the door, you can be sure Lily is grabbing her purse (or two or three) and her baby doll. She might also have a book tucked under her arm, a blanket for her baby, and a set of keys shoved into one of the purses. She is very aware that we take things with us when we go places - if I'm hurrying her out the door she will usually yell OH! if she's empty handed, and run back into another room to retrieve whatever she deems necessary for the trip. If we are at church and announce that we're leaving, she does the same thing- grabs whatever items the kids have left behind on our row of chairs, and toddles out the door efficiently. If I forget something- like a hat or a sippie cup or a Bible- she is quick to remind me. "Mama!" she will admonish me - "HERE!" She is pretty bossy when it comes to not leaving things behind.

Clean up. I can't even begin to tell you what a good cleaner upper Lily is. If she's in the nursery with me during church (I only let her go in when it's my turn for nursery duty) she looooves to clean up the toys. She usually does this on her own, without me singing the "clean up clean up everybody do your share" song... for instance, if we just played with legos and the kids move onto books, she is all about making sure every last lego is back in the box before she picks up a book. If the kids are sprawled out amongst a kajillion toys, and pulling new ones into the mix, she is the diligent mother, stacking books into bins, and piling old toys into plastic tubs.

She is especially good at micromanaging Hayden when he's making a mess of her toy kitchen at home. "LILY!" she will yell at him (yes, she calls him Lily.) "NO NO! lalalalalalalala NO!" as she yanks the wooden dishes out of his hands to stack them neatly in the oven. She's quite bossy with her stuff.

Tell us what she wants. While Lily is not speaking in full sentences with subjects and prepositions and all the in-betweens right now, she DOES know how to communicate her needs and wants to us. here are a few examples...

"Mama! Cheerios, please!" (repeated 12 times in a row, just to make sure I heard.)

"Sissy! Go ! Me!"  (said in the most pathetic tone, with her little pointer finger stabbing her own chest repeatedly. "ME!" means- don't forget about ME !!)

"Mama, wa-wa, PLEASE." (she wants her sippie with water in it.)

"OOOOH ! POOOPOOO !"  before, after or during the fact. And don't let this declaration fool you about her ability to be potty trained. We do try to accommodate the poop sentences, but pee is a whole different ballgame.

"Daddy ! Please ! Up!"

"JonJon ! Lily, garage !" (take me with you into the garage)

When I asked her what she was doing in here...

...she answered, "Car. Baby. Purse. Go."

When we offer her something she doesn't want, she replies, "NO. No want it."

When we offer something she does want, "YES !" perfectly articulated .. or "BABY, YEAH !"  (probably because she hears her siblings say YEAH BABY all the time :) )

And more sentences...

"Mama, please - shoes ?"

"Babby (Abbi) - read ? Book ? Please ?"

She can also ...

name everyone in her family

point to all her body parts and name them

answer questions like "who is going to be at church today ?"  : Koa, MoMo, Bella, Brock...

say sooooo many words :garage, car, book, cheerios, baby, read, milk, cheese crisp, boat, car, cake, cookie, go, yes, yeah, what, pretty, yay, yellow, green, blue, ball, brownies, mouth, birdie, bath, shoe, sock, cards, teeth, eyes, nose, hair, ears, toes, cat, dog, mirror, daddy, mama, sissy, no, tree, please, thank you, pants, purse, keys, dress, doll, ouch, hot, cold, sad, cry, and at least fifty more I'm forgetting.

follow directions...if you ask her to get a diaper and the wipes for Hayden, she knows all the places to look. If you tell her to go get her shoes, she does it. If you ask her to throw something away, she leaves the room and does it. If you ask her where something is, she will go find it. If we give her something and tell her to "go put this in sissy's room" or "go hand this to Caleb" she knows exactly what to do.

give the sweetest kisses in the world

Some funny/cute things she does :

as mentioned, calls Hayden "Lily." all.the.time.

claps her hands and sings during worship at church

raises her hands and sways to the music at church

adores Norah, her niece, but ignores Hayden, her brother. Unless he's touching her stuff. Then she is the bossy mama.

loves to sleep with her siblings

always sings to and rocks her baby dolls

loves for Daddy to brush her teeth or brush her hair...cries when anyone else does it

her favorite sibling is Noah. It was her first word, and she ALWAYS wants to show him things. "NOAH !!!" we hear her yelling all the time...she has him wrapped around her finger.

Koa is her best friend. She absolutely lights up every time he comes over. If we tell her she's going to see him she yells KOA with the biggest smile on her face. They have the sweetest relationship ever- he talks her language. He'll ask her a question like this - "Lily- lalalalala?" and she bursts into laughter. He asks her what she's doing and she answers" Book ! lalalal!" and they laugh together. Cutest thing ever.

So there you have it. Life with Down syndrome as we know it right now. In some ways it's very typical to life without Down syndrome, in some ways not so much. I realize that for other families, that extra chromosome means more health issues, more visits to the doctor, far Lily has been the healthiest child we've had. She has the easiest temperament, and she is the happiest among us on any given day. She has her grumpy, stubborn moments, but they are few and far between - and she bounces back more quickly than any of her siblings.

I'm sure the future will hold many challenges, but for now we are just enjoying the day to day with Lily...

..which is a pretty wonderful thing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Vintage Honey Shop

I am so excited to do this post.

I wish someone would have thought these things up ten babies ago...

...  I know that looks simply like an adorable necklace made out of premium 100% designer cotton fabric.

But what you have there is a lifesaver, friends. Pure and simple.

That picture was taken in the throes of (normally) teething woes. And look at that happy little face !

I received the above necklace from The Vintage Honey Shop about two weeks before Hayden cut his first two teeth... talk about divine intervention :)

Not only did it help sooth his irritated gums, but it was (and is) the perfect distraction for his tiny hands while he's nursing. If your babies are anything like mine, they get to an age where they LOVE to use little fists as weapons while they breastfeed. Not so when I'm wearing my teething necklace.

Hayden is also an expert at finding any stray piece of hair while I'm holding him (nursing or not) and yanking with all his might. If you don't have long yank-able hair, then you've probably never known the excruciating pain  pleasure of this experience.

But when I'm wearing my Vintage Honey Teething Necklace, it's the first thing he reaches for. Those little wooden beads are not only the perfect size for chewing on (safely wrapped in fabric), but they're also the perfect size for his little fingers to grasp and rub.

I just wish I had one in every color ...

I love my teething necklace ! Seriously, I just wish I'd had one for every baby prior to Hayden.

Here's a little description from Etsy, where you'll find TheVintageHoneyShop ...


{LOVE 'EM} Our chic teething necklaces are made with premium 100% designer cotton fabric. Each necklace is beaded with natural, unfinished wood beads! The necklace is tied back into a cute bow with our satin ribbon! And unlike most fabric teething necklaces, we take the extra step to finish off the ends of each necklace with ribbon! No unsightly seams will be seen! Our necklaces are adjustable in length! The ribbon can be tied so that it is close to your collar bone or down to the breast line!

{ROCK 'EM} We use the latest designer fabrics that are on the market! We pick our fabrics to keep up with the latest trends! Our necklaces will be sure to rock your outfit! Who says that a new mama shouldn't look stylish & cute!!! But BEST of all.... YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A MAMA TO ROCK THIS NECKLACE!!!! This necklace is beautiful to wear on just about any occasion! A lot of our customers who buy this necklace don't even have babies!!

{CHOMP 'EM} Every Mama knows that the first thing that goes into their baby's mouth is your necklaces! With our teething necklaces, Mama doesn't have to worry about her baby’s sweet gums getting cut with our soft fabric! Many Mamas use our necklaces while breastfeeding/nursing their lil ones! They keep lil hands busy while they feed! Because the necklace is close to eye level, they provide great visual stimulation for your baby! Our necklaces encourage those first fine motor skills by grabbing onto our necklaces with their sweet lil hands!

{GRAB 'EM} This teething necklace comes with an all natural/unfinished wood ring knotted in the center. It gives your baby a focal point to look at and grab. It is the perfect size for baby's sweet lil' hands, and is safe for them to chomp on as well.

{CLEAN 'EM} To clean our teething necklaces, just hand wash with your favorite soap/detergent & air dry! Easy as that!

{GIVE 'EM} Perfect to give as a gift for a baby shower, a best friend, daughter or sister! Any gal would LOVE this necklace!! Every order is HAND WRAPPED in gray tissue paper & tied up into a bow with our yellow & white bakers twine! Ready to give as a gift (no receipt is added to package)! If you buy multiple necklaces & want them individually wrapped, please let us know in the 'note to seller' section at checkout.

{GET 'EM} All of our necklace are 'ready to be shipped', unless otherwise noted! We do our very best to have them shipped within 24-48 business hours! You will receive notification of shipment as soon as we ship your order, along with a tracking number (domestic orders only)! No additional charge!

{CUSTOMIZE 'EM} We do custom orders, so if you want this necklace in a different fabric, we will do our best to accommodate you! We can also add rosettes or a teething ring to just about any necklace (at an additional price), just contact us for custom design elements! All custom orders will be handmade for you within 7 business!

And guess what ?

Right now Lily's readers can enjoy 10% off any necklace from TheVintageHoneyShop just by using the code HONEYBEE10 at checkout.

Happy shopping !!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

on love and marriage

We are just back from our annual Northwest marriage retreat, and I'm feeling refreshed. I posted a picture of Sam and myself outside our hotel today, and captioned it "enjoying the sun at the marriage retreat." There were four comments asking for a blogpost on marriage, so here you have it. A blogpost on marriage.

Let me first say that I've been a little hesitant to post on this topic, because our marriage- just like our parenting, our Christianity, our home, our ministry - is a work in progress. And it always will be. I don't think anyone can say they've gotten to the place in their marriage where they've "arrived." If you can say that, please let me know, and you can tell me how it's done. But the last time I checked, Sam and I were still human, and therefore flawed. Meaning we still have arguments about silly little things, like which way to roll the toothpaste, etc., and we probably always will.

(Actually, I take that back - a few years ago we started buying separate tubes of toothpaste, and there you have it - problem solved.)

But honestly, probably not a week goes by where there isn't some discussion about how things should be done, and maybe once or twice a month a discussion turns into an out-and-out disagreement about those things. This post isn't going to spell out how to have the perfect marriage, one without any disagreements, one that never needs counseling or help or prayer...this post is just going to include a few of the things that have helped us to have a lasting marriage. Flawed, yes. At times, rocky... absolutely. But we do have a lasting marriage, and one that we've worked hard for. We've had some really, really difficult seasons in our marriage, but the good times have far outweighed the bad. And I can say in 100% confidence that I am more in love with my husband today, than when we first started dating 28 years ago. He's not just an amazing father and excellent husband, he's my very best friend.

So here are just three things I think have helped us greatly, because I like to keep things simple. There are so many other things I could mention, and maybe in a future post I will. But for tonight, I'm narrowing it down to these three little keys to a lasting marriage, and I hope you'll forgive me if they sound self-evident. You can find a plethora of books on marriage in the bookstore that will dig much deeper into marital issues, but these are just my teeny little nuggets of truth ... so take them for what they're worth :)

#1 Take time for each other.

I know- heavy revelation there, huh ? But this is something we have worked hard at over almost 27 years of marriage, and it has paid off. And we have not always been good about this- I can look back on a season of our marriage where we had little ones and were in the ministry and both of us were burning the candle at both ends... finding time alone together was not a priority, and it took its toll on our marriage. Living in the same house, eating meals at the same table, sleeping in the same bed- those don't count as taking time for each other. I'm talking about getting out of your daily routine of "life" and spending time together that is designated for just the two of you. It doesn't have to be an extensive date either- maybe just a walk around the neighborhood, holding hands and talking... or a an hour at a coffee shop where you can actually look each other in the eye and have a meaningful conversation. If you have little ones, and a babysitter is hard to find, or too expensive, find a way to get time alone at home.. put the kids down to bed early and sit on the porch together ... or play a game of cards or scrabble together ... anything you can think of where you set aside time for just the two of you together.

Years ago we went to a hotel and saw a movie about a firefighter who was trapped under one of the World Trade Towers during 9/11. As he was lying under the rubble, the face of his wife kept appearing before him...he held on for so long, waiting for rescuers to come, and the whole time he was there, he kept thinking about her face. If I remember correctly he was maybe hallucinating because of dehydration and shock - and he began talking to his wife, and asking her questions, even though she was at home, unaware of where he was. He asked her a question that was so poignant - "when did we stop looking into each other's eyes ?" It wasn't that they had stopped loving each other- that was almost a given. But life, in all its craziness, had kept them both going in the same direction - forward - and somehow they hadn't taken the time to slow down and look at each other, face to face, and focus on the love that was there.

So when's the last time you looked in your spouse's eyes, and talked to him or her ? It's so easy to communicate these days through texting, cell phones, emails, etc. But there is something powerful and irreplaceable about taking the time for true one-on-one communication with our spouses, and it's crucial that we set other things aside to give space for that. Sam and I try to make time for this at least once a week, if not more. It's not always easy, but it is always worth it. There have been times when we were so broke that date night meant going to park the car somewhere and sharing an ice cream cone. But some of those times were just as wonderful as the special overnight getaways, in my mind, and no less significant in the grand scheme of things.

#2 Keep a sense of humor.

Not everything in life has to be serious. We have been in the middle of some of the most intense arguments on the planet, and one of us will crack a joke...and all the anger between us dissolves.

I don't know about you, but for some reason most of our...discussions...happen right before a big event. Like a Bible Conference that we're leaving for... or a week of revival services at our church. So knowing this, whether it be a natural phenomenon or maybe the devil (?!) Sam and I do this little thing with each other to stay out of the inevitable spat.

I'll give you an idea of what I'm talking about in a little fake dialogue here.

Sammy: Honey, do you know where my blue tie is ? I'm sure I put it on the bed to be packed, but it is mysteriously missing...

Patti: I'm trying to pack 11 people here, maybe you could just look for your tie yourself ??

Sammy: Babe, I know you really, reallllly want to pick a fight with me today, because we are leaving for a week of Bible Conference...but I'm not gonna do it. I know you want to, and I respect that, but I just can't. 

Patti: I promise you I'm not stealing your ties and selling them on the black market somewhere, maybe you thought you put it on the bed, but it's really still hanging on the tie rack??

Sammy: Listen, I know I put it on the bed. And also - I saw you selling all my ties on eBay last week, so cut with the shenanigans and please just tell me where my tie is?

Patti: Listen, Sammy - I know you just can't help yourself and you are trying SO hard to get into a squabble with me- I know there is just something about conference that kicks it into high gear for you, and you just want to have a knock down drag out...but I can't. I'm sorry. I know this is disappointing to you, but I just can't go there today- next week we can have a boxing match over this, but today- you're out of luck. No can do, buddy. Look in your closet.

Sammy: siiiiiiiiigh. Okay, clearly you have stolen yet another tie, and now on top of everything you won't get into a shouting match with me over this, can you please just admit defeat and own up to this scheme to earn some extra cash by selling my ties? 

Patti, walking out of closet with a blue tie in her hand: Guess what ? I decided to repent of my wicked tie-selling-scheme and just stick to embezzling all your pocket change. The pay is better anyway. Here's your tie.

Smooch smooch, divorce court avoided, and we somehow make it to Bible Conference without killing each other.

A little humor can go a loooong way to to diffusing tension in the home, and fortunately it is something we are both good at. I don't think a day goes by that we don't laugh together about something... or even laugh at each other... it's just something we have cultivated over the years, and again : it's paid off.

#3 Respect and love each other.

This also probably sounds like a no-brainer. But it is so true, nonetheless. Treat each other the same way you did when you were dating- like you are head over heels in love, and you can't believe you are lucky enough to have found the man/woman of your dreams.

Take time to do little things throughout the day to show love for your spouse. If it's noon and Sam hasn't called or texted me to say he loves me, I start worrying that he's dead... or that his phone died. (Because I'm rational like that. ) One of our favorite lines is "It's just one of those days, isn't it??"  I'll say it when I call him "just to say I love you" before he calls me to do the same. "It's one of those days, Sammy. I could just tell when I woke up. I knew it was gonna be a day where I loved you more than you loved me. " "IMPOSSIBLE!" he will yell over the phone. "I tried to call you three times, but you didn't want to answer, because you knew I was going to say I love you before you could say hello!"

I try to always- no matter how cruddy my day has been - give my husband a kiss when he comes home. He does the same for me. Unless he's on a business call, when he walks in the door, he puts his briefcase down and wraps me in a hug. When I get to church on Sunday mornings with the kids, I go find him in his office to give him a kiss (he leaves the house to study for his sermon before we're even out of bed). We are constantly keeping our love for each other alive through affection.

And this is going to sound archaic in today's culture of women's rights, etc...but I try to show respect for my husband on a daily basis. I might not agree with everything he does, or the way he does it, but I try to be careful to show him respect when I have a different opinion. This doesn't mean I blindly submit and let him walk all over me - but it does mean I don't have to get my way all the time. It means I can acknowledge that sometimes there is no "right" way to do things, and for the sake of our marriage we can agree to disagree...and do it respectfully. And ungrudgingly.

Here's just one little example of what I'm talking about. Sam likes to hold the hairspray can for approximately three and a half minutes over his head while he combs his hair. I think ...personally... he could get the job done in 3 seconds. He might even save the ozone a bit if he was not so generous with his spraying. However... he is never going to stop. I could badger him, lecture him, nag him, belittle him about this...and perhaps in the early days of our marriage I may have ...ahem...  tried. But this is just one thing we have agreed to disagree upon. He believes it takes a gallon of hairspray to hold his hair in place, and I  ...respectfully disagree. I may snicker behind his back a little, and possibly run gagging from the bathroom exaggeratedly after the cannon of Tres Semme is fired at his head... but I can do it respectfully.

Likewise, I have a firm conviction about the preparing of my morning tea. My tea mug must be precisely 3/4 full of boiling water, no more and no less, and the tea bag must remain in the water for a minimum of three minutes before the cream and sugar is added. One bag of stevia and one tablespoon of fat free half and half is necessary for the perfect cup of tea...and I can taste immediately when something has gone wrong. Sammy is able to consume a cup of coffee in any condition, but when it comes to my morning tea - I am a snob. I admit it. Sam thinks it is maybe a trifle silly to take a cup of tea so seriously, but...we respectfully disagree. There aren't many things in life I enjoy and look forward to as much as my morning cup of tea, so why not make sure it's perfect ? He could mock me, scorn me, ridicule me for being so anal...or he could (and he does!) respectfully acknowledge my desire for the perfect cup of tea and make it accordingly.

Actually, Caleb makes my tea every morning...but when Sam is home, you can be sure that whatever grumbling he does while preparing my tea to perfection, is done under his breath...and he delivers it with a smile. With love and respect.

SO there you have it...three simple keys to a lasting marriage. There are about 467 more, but Hayden is snoring on my lap, and my bed is waiting. I hope you'll leave your own words of wisdom for others to read in the comment section. Until next blogpost...

...nitey night.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

zombies and pancakes and dean martin, oh my


I know it's been almost a week since my Valentine's post part one. Since that post I have had : one child with an ear infection, one husband with a sinus infection, one child with an unknown random pain in her tummy for a day, one teething child (second tooth broke through, hallelujah), one child with a sore throat and aches... and I, myself, was the unfortunate recipient of mastitis. (If you don't know what that is, don't look it up…and pray you never get it. And all the nursing mom readers shouted a unanimous AMEN.)

So having submitted my sick note(s), I hope you will excuse me for the tardiness of this post.

By the way - I LOVED reading all of your Valentine's blogposts over the weekend- thank you so much for linking to them in the comment section !

This post will be photo heavy and short on words, because we have the computer guy coming here in one hour to fix our iCloud problem for the third time…grumble grumble… and my house looks like something out of a horror movie. As do I.  So please excuse me (again!!) while I dump a bunch of pictures, and then attend to things here on the home front.

Oh, one more thing before I do - these photos might make it look like everyone has nothing but love and happiness oozing from their every pore on Valentine's Day. I don't want to dispel that notion, but I do want to balance things out, in case you are a reader who finds his/herself feeling angst or anger after leaving A Perfect Lily. We do not have a perfect family. We don't claim to. I don't claim to have the perfect marriage, the perfect kids, the perfect life…the only thing I will acknowledge is that I have a perfect Lily. I think we can all agree on that. I felt the need to post that little disclaimer because of a situation that happened recently online…I'll spare you the details, but the reason I blog or post pics on Instagram about my wonderful family and kids and holidays is not because I think things are perfect…  but because they are good. They're more than good, they're fabulous. And not because of anything we've done, but because of what a loving and gracious and forgiving God has done in our lives. True story.

Moving happily forward…. or forward happily, whichever my high school English teacher would have preferred….  here is our Valentine's morning.

caleb gave his sisters cards and candy. because he's caleb like that :)

The photo below needs an explanation… a few years ago I started having the kids come down to the breakfast table on Valentine's Day morning to the song "That's Amore" by Dean Martin. We do the same thing on Easter - they come to the table while Sam and I blast Keith Green's song "Hear the Bells Ringing"… on Christmas we don't have a particular song we play as they come down the stairs, but there is music…always music. Just one of our umpteen billion traditions, and the children all get a kick out of it, as do we.

Someone last Friday asked about the song "That's Amore" - originally I started playing it on Valentine's morning because I had the soundtrack to Babe, and it was the only song I could find on our computer that had a Valentine's Day type theme at the time. Sam wanted to show the kids the original song on youtube, done by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis …if you're anything like my brother, you will laugh your head off watching it. Or, if you're like me, you will watch it and imagine someone dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard for three minutes. Different strokes for different folks ! (Hey, we aim to please all kinds of readers here on the blog.)

can you tell who are in the chalkboard camp, and who are not ???

to me, from abbi. i heart her.

This next little series is from my date with my grandson. Lily and I took him balloons and candy, and then we visited the coffee place where Kenzie works. She met us there for our date, and we snapped numerous photos while Lily and Koa consumed hot cocoa, jelly beans, muffins, and cookies. I'm sure Jason and Naomi were SOOO happy when I brought their son home, loaded up with enough sugar for 14 days. But that's what nanas are for on Valentine's Day, right ?  #nextyearwewilltrythefarmersmarket #maybe

Half an hour til the computer guy comes, and I still look like a zombie, so….

….happy Wednesday !!

Friday, February 14, 2014

with love from The Rice Ranch

I make no apologies for being the biggest kid on the planet when it comes to holidays- ESPECIALLY Valentine's Day. It's in my top three favorite holidays, right up there with Christmas and Easter. I looooooove Valentine's Day.


 ^^^^^^  just had to throw those in there for emphasis.

I changed my blog banner today- did you notice ? I may or may not have spent one full hour designing it - cropping, pasting, fitting cupids and doily hearts and roses into a grid on to form what I hope looks like a vintage Valentine with my girl in the corner of it. I think I texted seven people when I was finished, asking them to take a look at what I made... something tells me I should still be in a second grade classroom somewhere, waiting for my friends to open their handmade Valentines that I stayed up all night assembling. But alas, I am 45, and so instead, I funneled all of my creative and maybe over-excessive passion for this holiday into my blog banner. Please consider it my special Valentine to you. You're welcome.

I took pictures of the Lilybird on Wednesday night before church in her red dress and sweet Valentine's bow (from @jujubee_creations on Instagram, whom I'll be blogging about very soon!). These ended up being some of my very favoritest pictures of Lily ever, so I hope you don't mind if I go ahead and post all forty two billion of them. She is so darn cute, it's hard to narrow it down to just one or two ! But I'll try....

I did the same with Hayden today (minus a dress and bow) . I got his outfit on eBay a few months ago, and I have been beyond impatient for this holiday to get here so he could wear it. (If you remember seeing him wear it in pictures at Christmas time, please forget about it for this post, okay ?)

My Valentine's table is set tonight, and all that needs to be added is a big pile of pink heart pancakes and some orange juice. As per tradition, we will play That's Amore from the Babe soundtrack (the movie about the pig, in case you wondered) as the children come downstairs to see the candy-strewn table. Each child gets a sticky note under his or her chair, promising something fun  - a trip to the dollar tree, or a pedicure by mama, or a date with dad... Each note is age appropriate, so there have been a few "good for one girlfriend of your dreams" post-it-notes in the past, for teenage sons. Let's just say that Cupid delivered on those, and now I am two sons less at the Valentine's table this year. Sob.

This post is just a little preview of what's to come. Tomorrow I'll take pics of the kids at the table, and of course the pink heart pancakes, and I'm sure I'll take a few of my Big Date... I promised my favorite and only grandson I would take him out for hot cocoa and cookies tomorrow, and I'll probably bring Lily along too. Stay tuned for part two of this post, which will include those photos and a video or two as well.

Before I post the rest of tonight's photos, I have to share the sweetest little love letter that just came into my inbox ...

Dear Lily,

Rumor has it that there are quite a few, more like quite a million, young men that would love to have you for a Valentine.  SO, I actually told my mommy that I would even pose for a picture just for you if you would be my Valentine.  I don't do pictures like you do.  I am not too eager to be photographed.  And I sort of like to turn my head the other way when my mama is telling me to say cheese.  I know what I am doing; don't tell anybody.  But I put my best pose forward for you my dear love.  And your name is the only name I say other than mama and dada.  I won't even say my siblings names.  You have been on my heart since the first day I saw you on that computer screen when we were just babies.  I get SO excited every time my mommy shows me your pictures and all those videos.  My favorites are the ones when you are dancing.  I could watch you dance all day and night long!  You are one special young lady.  You will forever have my heart!  Would you be my Valentine?  I included my picture putting my best pose forward.  And I included a picture of my cute baby brother too hoping he will help me get a yes.  I know you may have many young men coming for you, but you will be the only one I am asking.  xoxo



Aren't they just TOO cute ??? Of course, Lily said yes ;)

Sammy is snoring loudly in the distance, and I am fading fast too I will dump these photos and call it a night....

One more thing - if you blog about your Valentine's Day, will you leave a link in the comment section? I would LOVE to take a peek.

With love from The Rice Ranch.... HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY !!!