Saturday, March 29, 2014

Midnight revelation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drumroll pleeeeease......

Unplanned moments are oftentimes the best.


Life unscripted turns out to be really great.


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

Take for instance, child planning. 

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

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

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

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

 Exhibit B : Family Vacations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Down syndrome.

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

But here we are today...

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

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

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

Sweet dreams from the Rice Ranch.

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

scentsy giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend !

Thursday, March 27, 2014

in defense of demanding babies

The other night I ended my blogpost abruptly ...again...  noting that I was doing so because a certain little demanding person needed me.

That would be him.

That cute little guy with the engaging smile pictured above.

Hayden Patrick Rice, ten months old and 17 plus pounds, the most demanding of all our babies to date.

Of course, that description might be slightly skewed by our perception of "demanding" at this point in time. He was preceded in life by the world's least demanding baby (Lily) and that little fact might in fact have tricked us into thinking any baby actually crying for more than five minutes could be described as ...demanding.

We do, however, have nine other babies besides Lily to compare him to. It's just that our memory may have grown a little foggy over the years- we are, as we are told on a regular basis, older parents. During pregnancy this was referred to as my "advanced maternal age" if somewhere, a team of doctors coming up with politically correct medical terms decided that calling us old was just plain insulting.

Whatever the reason for our view of Hayden's temperament, there is no denying that he has one defining trait that stands above everything else : he needs us.

Like, I mean - reallllly needs us.

If we are playing a family game, enjoying our time together, laughing and talking and soaking up each other's company...Hayden needs us. He is not content to sit on the sidelines, playing with his baby toys quietly, while we carry on in our family fun. He wants to be in the thick of things, pulling pieces off the game board, crawling onto our laps and crying to be held, or simply just throwing his head back and yelling for attention... he needs us.

If we are enjoying breakfast, the children spread out around the bar, Mama cooking and serving, and Lily practicing sitting at the counter with everyone else...Hayden needs us. It's not enough that he is enthroned carefully and purposefully in his high chair, a bib around his neck, several toys within his reach, and a spoonful of yogurt coming his way every 30 seconds. He wants our eyes on him at all times, he wants airplane noises and heartfelt "yum-yums!" and twirling spoons and strobe lights and confetti falling while he eats ...he needs us.

Repeat the previous paragraph at lunch and dinner and dessert time. He needs us.

Any time we get in the car- whether that is a two minute trip to Winco or a seven minute trip to church or a fifty-five minute trip to see friends out of town...Hayden needs us. It doesn't matter that he is fed and changed and has every toy imaginable within his tiny reach, or that he is flanked on both sides with adoring siblings who try so desperately to entertain him with songs and silly faces and endless games of peek-a-boo. He arches his back and squeezes his eyes shut and SCREAMS from the moment he is gingerly placed in his carseat until that last agonizing minute at the end of our journey, and before the car has come to a complete stop, his brothers are desperately unbuckling him and shoosh-shoosh-shooshing his frantic cries... he needs us.

And bedtimes are a whole other chapter in this story of Hayden's first year... Hayden needs us. He could be in the deadest of dead sleeps, completely exhausted and bathed and changed and passed out cold in his little footsie jammies, visions of sugar plums long dancing in his tiny bald head. But just TRY to oh-so-slowly deposit that snoring little man into the co-sleeper, carefully and quietly moving as if one wrong step could ruin everything (because it will), making sure the sound machine is set to rain and patting his back just right ...slower... and slower... and slower...   And within 0.5 seconds of walking away from that sweetly sleeping angel, he bolts up in bed, stares in horror and lets out a hideous howl that can only be compared to something out of a horror movie...he needs us.

Hayden has wanted to be held 24/7 from the moment he was born. In fact, during my pregnancy, when he was a squirming, restless little ball of mush in my tummy, the only thing that would settle him down at two in the morning many times, was the feel of my hand, rubbing his tiny foot from outside the womb. I could find it fairly easily during that last eternal trimester  - it was lodged firmly under my rib cage, as if to say : hello, Mama - don't forget about me down here. I would gently massage that little appendage until the tidal wave in my tummy subsided, thankful that my little indweller was asleep for the night, and praying he would stay that way for just a few more hours.

And to this day he loves to have his feet rubbed to go to sleep. If a part of him isn't actually touching me through the night, he isn't content. He's graduated from the co-sleeper to my side of the bed now, and every morning finds my darling boy snuggled tightly up beside me, burrowing deeper into my side as the dawn approaches. It's as if some inner alarm clock is going off inside of him, the one that is set to "Mommy's Awake" ... and there is no snooze button with Hayden.

He needs me.

But lest you think I am worried in the least about the level of need expressed so clearly by my eleventh child... I want to share about another very needy little baby.

He was clingy, he was fussy, and he wanted to be held 24/7. He slept in our bed forever, he hated his carseat because it meant he wasn't being held, he sat on our laps instead of the highchair at restaurants, he was a mommy's boy, he was a daddy's boy, he was whiney and fussy and demanding, and sometimes it felt like he was going to be attached to my side forever. I remember our first family Christmas photo with this baby - he was sitting on our laps screaming his head off while we all laughed and smiled for the camera. Afterwards Sam said we should just go with that picture, because it perfectly captured our first year with Caleb.

Oh, did I say Caleb ??

The boy who now brings me my tea every morning, who planted our garden this year, who bakes donuts and cupcakes and apple turnovers, who makes wontons and tortilla soup and smoothies, who decorates baby shower cakes and birthday cakes like something from a professional bakery? The kid who fixes dishwashers and assembles furniture and organizes messy garages and can find ANYTHING in our house if it's missing and cleans out my disgusting refrigerator on a regular basis and does my grocery shopping and makes me breakfast in bed and is the only person who Lily allows to shampoo her hair (including me!) and who invents things and solves things and is one of the best big brothers on the planet ? And if we go out of town and leave the kids and we want someone to remember everything- we don't tell the oldest kids, we tell him ?

Yes, I did indeed say- Caleb.

My extremely demanding, overly fussy, ultra clingy baby, morphed into the most attentive, loving, capable and independent young man, and his name is Caleb Benjamin.

And he turns fourteen today, which means in ten more years he'll probably be a millionaire. He's just that kind of a kid- you know he's going great places.

Happy happy HAPPY 14th birthday to the second most needy child in the Rice family. If you're any indication of what great things we have to look forward to with Hayden, the future looks bright indeed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

the nameless blogpost

First order of business... did you know there's a giveaway going on here?

Order ANYTHING from my personal website, and be entered to win a warmer of your choice. Just leave a comment here telling me you ordered something (make sure you click on Lily's Basket Party when you shop) before March 31st, and I'll announce a winner on April 2nd.

Next up... I have a new flower growing in my garden ... that the prettiest little Lily you've ever seen, or what  ??

She has been blossoming into a little girl this year. No longer my baby, she is very independent these days. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd almost think she was a teenager.

One guess who her personal stylist is ? It rhymes with Shmackenzie.

Little Miss Personality right there ^^^ . This girl is so full of life ! And she is talking up a storm these days - constantly surprising us with new words and phrases. She sits on the stairs and talks to people on her fake phone - I have the funniest video of it, but it's late and Hayden is losing it. I promise to share it later this week.

A few more photos before I call it a night....

... Hayden's first orange :)


...his first perm .

And now, I am ending my post prematurely due to the world's neediest baby needing me :)

Peace out.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day....

Just in case you didn't know... people with Down syndrome have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.
Thus the reason we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on 3/21.

A friend on Instagram shared this quote with me today, and I love it :

Down syndrome occurs randomly, like flipping a coin, or winning the lottery.

And it's so true- we hit the jackpot with Lily :)

Before I had Lily I had a lot of misconceptions about Down syndrome.

I knew we would welcome a child with special needs, because we fully trust that God is in control of our lives. We believe He designs our children, that He knows them before they even came into existence.

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Jeremiah 1:5

But admittedly, before I had Lily, I thought that Down syndrome was something we would have to learn to live with. I thought that there would be things about my child that I couldn't embrace, that would somehow make my love for her a little different than loving my "typical" children. I thought as I watched her grow there would always be a little ache for the child I thought she'd be.

Can I tell you I was wrong ?

Completely and totally and naively wrong.

I had no idea how easy it is to love a child with Down syndrome. It isn't a heroic act or a selfless act or a special act... loving Lily comes as easily as breathing.

Here's what I have learned about Down syndrome :

Kids with Down syndrome are just that - kids.

They have likes and dislikes. They have foods they like and foods they hate, they have favorite toys and favorite friends, they have things they like to do, and some things they flat out refuse to do. They are kids.

My daughter is happy. Completely and carelessly and exquisitely happy.

And she is also : feisty, grumpy, moody, shy, rambunctious, angry, pouty, playful, mischievous, irritable, wild, thoughtful, timid, aggressive, willing-to-share, demanding, sweet, and ornery.

She's a child.

Lily makes us laugh, she plays with her siblings, she fights with her siblings, she is compliant, she tries to get her way, she puts away her toys, she refuses to put away her toys, she loves spaghetti, she hates spaghetti, she goes down for her naps easily, she refuses to go down for her naps, she loves to share, she hates to share...    she is a child.

More than anything else, I think I've learned that Down syndrome - while it does pose extra challenges at times - doesn't take away from who my child is.

She is, first and foremost, a child.

And if anything, Down syndrome gives us reason to celebrate all the little things we previously took for granted. We don't casually observe milestones anymore -we relish them. We know how hard our daughter works to nail them, and when victory comes, it is all the sweeter because of it.

To all our friends world wide, who share our love for Lily and for others who happen to be blessed with a little something extra - happy, HAPPY, World Down Syndrome Day.



p.s. Today is my oldest child's birthday, and my brother's as well.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON CHRISTOPHER !!!! We love you tons and tons immeasurably :) You're the best daddy, son, and friend. We couldn't be more proud of you !

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTOPHER CHARLES !!!  You have the best smile on the planet and we love you to pieces :) And you need to come see me. The End.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

saint patti's day and a giveaway

i'm sitting at the computer with a sad little baby in one hand, and a clingy lilybird at my leg. the older kids are playing baseball at the park with josiah.

thus the lowercase typing.

this was going to be my little window of time to blog, but hayden and lily have other plans.

so what was going to be a heartfelt post on parenting is going to be a photo dump, while i go do some heartfelt parenting.

the following pics were taken on saint patrick's day, thus the green theme. we had our traditional four leaf clover green pancakes too, but the photo is on my phone, and i can't pry my two youngest off to go retrieve it. i'm sure you can try to do a visual by my description anyway, right ?

here we go with the rest...

one more order of business before hayden completely loses it ..

in an effort to meet my minimum sales requirement for the month so that i can stay a valued scentsy consultant, i'm doing a giveaway.

order anything from my personal website - even a lightbulb ! - and leave a comment on this post telling me you did so, and you will be entered to win the warmer of your choice. you must order by march 31st, and shop from lily's basket party on my website. i'll draw the winner on april 2nd - because if i did it on april fool's day you might think it was a joke - and announce it here on the blog.

for ALL the world to see.

(insert your name here) has won a premium scentsy warmer of his/her choice .

just imagine the sensation when you tell all your friends.

what are you waiting for ??? go order now !!!

p.s. happy day after st. patti's day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

belated birthday blogpost

It's been a crazy month at The Rice Ranch.

So far, we have had : my birthday, two of my nieces' birthdays,  Koa's adoption, Kenzie's birthday, Josiah's birthday, Monique's baby shower, and the last of Tyler and Jonathan's basketball games.

Still to come : Jason's birthday and my brother's birthday (same day), Sam's two brothers' birthdays, Jonathan and Caleb's birthdays, Monique's birthday, my mom's birthday, Sam's birthday, and the birth of my brother's seventh baby.

Oh, and Saint Patrick's day ! hello, green clover pancakes.

As I was saying, it's been a busy month.

I think I post this apology a little too often : but if you have emailed me recently with a blog request, question, story, etc. and I didn't respond... can you re-send it ? I have a bad habit of checking my email from my phone, and if I accidentally click on something and don't actually read it, it appears as read in my inbox. And I am a total right brain thinker. Or is it left ? Whichever side works like this - out-of-sight-out-of-mind. That's me. SO if something isn't highlighted in yellow, or typed in bold or written on a piece of paper and hung on my fridge... I'm doomed. Please forgive me ! And re-send.

Speaking of this failure of my brain to recognize anything not four inches from my face as important - I forgot about these photos from last Friday. I went into my Lightroom program to see what pictures I hadn't edited, and I found this little pile of pics from Kenzie's 22nd birthday. It was only a week ago, but still.. I meant to post these right after Koa's adoption post and forgot. So here we go.

A Belated Birthday Blogpost

We celebrated Mackenzie's 22nd birthday with the dinner of her choice : homemade wontons by Caleb and stir-fry by mom, topped off by Snicker's cake. Yum.

Kenzie went to Portland with a bunch of her friends the day after her birthday, so this dinner party was pretty low-key. Except we had all just attended Koa's adoption ceremony at the county courthouse, and we were still floating on clouds nine, ten, and 452 (why is cloud nine considered so special anyway ?? anybody know ?? anybody ... ??) so ANHYOOT... it was a pretty special night.

One of these days when we can afford it (after we buy an actual bed frame for our king sized bed, purchased a year ago) I am going to invest in a table that we can all sit at. I'm not sure what kind of table we can comfortably fit 18 people around, without ditching the living room furniture (turned around for dinner to fit some little people), but if I find one, it's happening. I thought about calling Michelle Duggar to find out where they got their nifty king-sized table, but I don't have her number.

Soooo.... for now, this one will have to do...

(insert sarcastic comments in the comment section by my brother, who will notice all the funny facial expressions in the background, rather than the little cutie pie and his big sister right up front.)

Kenzie wanted a baseball jersey for her birthday, because she is simple and sweet like that. And also- watching her favorite nephew officially become a Rice on her birthday was pretty much the best present EVUH. She got some yummy Trader Joe's snacks and a cool OSU shirt from her dad that says "Don't Do Quack" as well. #GoBeavs

We celebrated the events of the day - an adoption and a birthday-  in typical Rice fashion: lots of music, laughter, strange jokes, sarcasm, sports discussion, cell phone checking (Jason's area of expertise) and watching funny videos on youtube.

Oh yeah, and stick horse limbo... did I mention that ??

...and dancing. Always dancing.

So there you have it.

A Happy Belated-Blog-Post Birthday to our dear Mackenzie Elizabeth...  we love you, Kenz !!!


p.s. There is a FABULOUS giveaway going on over at my friend Deanna's blog. Tons of darling Etsy items up for grabs  - don't miss it !!