Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Big Fat Beach Post

Let's see, what's new ?

We are back from a mini vacation to the coast, and I have a desktop full of fantabulous photos to share.

I have my fourth load of laundry for the day in the washer, another in the dyer, and four more waiting in buckets in the entryway. The older middles were in Washington at a water park while the middle littles and little-littles were with Sam and I at the coast ... so lots to unpack here.

I'm babysitting my sweet little granddaughter ... I took her outside to play just before her nap, and when I scooped her up from the blanket I had carefully laid in the grass, a bee decided my arm would be a good place to plant its stinger. Yippee.

I just got Hayden down to sleep and Lily as well... and I really need to take advantage of this little window of time (sleeping babies) ... so I will just post pictures and let them tell the story of how relaxing and fun our mini vacation was :)

And I'll just throw this in real quick before I drop all the photos into this post : a vacation doesn't need to be long or expensive to be wonderful. We left Sunday night after church and got back just in time for our Wednesday night church service. We stayed at the house we always stay at (free) and I cooked the whole time. No fancy places to visit, no rides to go on, no gourmet food, no money spent other than the gas that it took to get us there. But it was heavenly - three days of lovely weather and my five youngest kids all to myself - I couldn't have asked for a sweeter end-of-summer getaway. Just the kind of trip I needed to end this season on a happy note.

don't ask me what I'm doing with my leg there. Apparently I think I'm on the red carpet for a big movie premier or something. 

A little video just for fun ...

hayden went surfing 

nap time !!

Hope you've all had a wonderful summer and soaked up every ray of sunshine you could. ..

....happy almost September !!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

house rules and wrapping things up

Thursday morning at The Rice Ranch, and lots going on.

So much to say, so little time.

We start school in less than two weeks, which for us doesn't involve a whole lot of preparation as far as clothes shopping, new lunch boxes (do people even buy those anymore ??) or school supplies ...which I consider some of the perks of homeschooling.

 Aside from ordering some new workbooks and hitting the Dollar Tree up for a few new pencils, we're pretty much good to go as far as our curriculum goes. We are still going to be using Time4Learning this year and supplementing with ACE Word Building and Bible Reading, as well as using some new writing curriculum I found through Amazon. And as always, lots and lots of reading. Yay for the public library ! Oh and my SIL sent me a link to free history videos by Michael Medved yesterday, and we registered in the nick of time. We're set.

Not so "perky", however : we will start being a little more strict about bedtimes. I am a total night owl, and I can happily indulge that habit during our long summer break ... but all good things must come to an end, at least for nine months of the year here. Back to "early to bed and early to rise" and all that stuff, come September 1st.

 Boo, hiss.

Meanwhile, summer is racing to an end, and we are cramming as much fun into August as is humanly possible. Trips to the city pool, library visits, late nights with our adult kids and grandkids, pear picking and jam making, and everything in between... lots of fun as the count down to school begins.

Oh, and that happy little baby right there ? I am thrilled to announce that Hayden has completely outgrown his needy stage, and has magically transformed into the most contented, go-with-the-flow child on the planet, world without end, amen.

No, really.

It's all unicorn and rainbows at the Rice Ranch.

... until you refuse to give him your ice cream ...

Other important events ....

... our grapes are turning red. Actually, purple. I was truly worried that they were going to be green grapes, and I do not like green grapes. I ate about 127 of them as a child in one sitting and had violent stomach palpitations afterwards for days. (I'm trying to use medical terms here, however inaccurate, because it sounds nicer than "I barfed for days.")

Anyhoot - I'm glad my grapes are purple.

We have about 4 billion of them on our arbor right now ... or is it trellis ? ...

...(that wooden thing with vines all over it under the window there) .... so we will attempt grape jelly in the fall.  (And no, there will not be any wine tasting parties in the backyard - we're teetotalers y'all.)

More exciting news ...

...we got a bed.

About two years ago we finally took the plunge and switched from a queen sized mattress to a king. Best decision of our lives. Well, next to giving our lives to Jesus twenty-nine years ago. But it's a close second.

When you have nine children living at home, and half of them like to sleep in your bed, a king sized bed is truly a worthy investment.

Okay, I jest - maybe only one or two children still call our bed "theirs", but that's enough to warrant an extra foot or so of mattress, wouldn't you agree ? (And all the co-sleeping families screamed a hearty AMEN.)

SO almost two years ago we switched mattresses to a king but could not afford at the time to get an actual bed. Well, not the one I wanted, anyway.

I have been praying for allllllllll these months for a Cherry Wood King Sleigh Bed.

I just typed those words in two seconds flat, because my fingers know exactly where to go ... having typed them into Craigslist's search bar approximately 565 days in a row.

Two weeks ago, I typed them again, hit "search", prayed for the umpteenth billion time and !!! There was a gorgeous, reasonably priced Cherry Wood King Sleigh Bed, waiting just for me.

And there was a lovely little table that matched - EXACTLY the size and style I had written down on my prayer/want list - in the ad as well.

Sam-the-man (he should have been named Jacob for his bargaining skills) made a phone call and negotiated a bit, and today we are the proud owners of a bedroom set. Praise God !!! And  praise Craig, for having the genius to start an online list for cheapskates bargain hunters like me.

A few more photos, and then I have laundry to attack. Story of my life, but hey, the people in my house insist on wearing clothes, so ...

... Lily was selected to be a brand rep for Jude & Fi on Instagram .... check out their sweet hair clips on Etsy if you don't do Instagram - we LOVE how well they stay in !! And they are cute to boot.

And speaking of cute - and totally wonderful ...

... Miss Abigail Joy got baptized last Sunday night.

 She gave the sweetest testimony, and she made this decision all on her own. We are SO proud of our girl, and her desire to live for Jesus.

In case you are wondering what we believe in regards to baptism, it's very simple : it's an outward demonstration of an inward decision to live for the Lord. We don't believe baptism "saves" you, but we do it as a public profession of our faith ... and we let our kids make that decision themselves, so that it is truly their decision, and not ours. We believe in dedicating them as infants to the Lord, and we do that in a special ceremony during a church service. But that just means the responsibility is on us as parents, to raise our kids with Biblical standards and instill in them a heart for God. Whereas baptism is a decision they each make to personally surrender their lives to Jesus. I think it's important for kids to come to these decisions on their own, so that they really own them.

This probably deserves a blogpost all to itself, but just a little mention here : if you grow up in the Rice home, you abide by our rules. Which means, you attend church when we do, you participate in church services like we do (Sunday School, singing, listening to sermons, etc.) and you go with the flow.

I've heard people refer to their childhood as "having religion crammed down their throats", and I think that's a sad way to view things. If you ask any one of my kids, they will tell you that they do what we do because they love it.

We don't cram - we fill.

We fill our home with the word of God, with lots of rules and lots of love and lots of church and lots of Jesus - and when they leave here and venture out on their own, they have their own decisions to make in life. We can't choose their paths for them in life, but for the 18 or so years we have them, we absolutely will fill them with everything we have as far as the things of God go.

And it is a beautiful thing to me that my almost-twelve year old asked us to be dunked for Jesus :)

So there you have it - thoughts on bargain hunting, co-sleeping, homeschooling and theology, all wrapped up into one little blogpost. Because I'm random like that.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my laundry room to keep ...

Happy End of Summer, peeps !!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eleven Things

It's Wednesday and the house is quiet.

If I didn't already know where my kids were (three older middles playing basketball at a friend's house, three middle littles at a dance party hosted by the kids Kenzie is nannying for, two littlest napping) .... I would think the rapture happened. Without me.

This literally never happens.

A quiet house in the afternoon.

Okay, maybe once in a blue moon it happens.

And when it does, you can BET I will take full advantage of the peace and quiet by tackling all my laundry, ironing all the clothes ahead of time for church tonight, and assembling the song list as well,  making dinner early so we aren't late for prayer. . .

Uh huh.

In a heart beat.

I'm all over it.


I have neglected this little space for a week, and I am feeling the void.

Therefore, I am blogging.

I don't just write to keep family and friends up to date with life at The Rice Ranch... I write for me too.

Writing has always been my outlet in life. Whether in the green leather-bound lock-and-key diary of my childhood, or the dozens of cloth-bound journals over the past thirty years... or this beloved corner of the internet where I pour my heart out onto a keyboard .... writing is my therapy.

If I'm in the darkest dungeon of despair I've ever been to, or walking on clouds nine, ten, and eleven - or anywhere in between - I have to write about it. If I'm not writing about it, it's bottled up inside of me, and most of the time that's not a good place for everything to be. Like a fridge full of decaying left-overs, stocked to the brim with old condiment jars and rotting vegetables just waiting for an overdue purge - so is my brain when I'm not writing.

I use words to process the jumbled up mess that is my mind, and it might not all make sense until it spills out into a notebook or blogpost, but once it's there, I can sort it all through.

I don't want to sound sacrilegious here, but writing is almost - almost - like prayer to me. I'm not confusing the two, because I know there are those who would describe prayer as anything you want it to be, and I don't believe that to be true.

Standing in a flower field and throwing your hands up to the sky, while smiling at the universe - thats's not prayer. A fun thing to do, and maybe energizing and soul-inspiring .... but it's not really prayer.

But it can be like prayer, in that you find that place of connection to God, where you put aside every little encumbering thing, and you focus on what really matters, and you maybe get a glimpse of what life is truly about... and that's what I mean when I say writing is almost like prayer for me. My soul is stirred when I write. My vision is improved, my mind is cleared, and I almost always walk away with a new focus.

I write so I can breathe.

So yes- I'm taking full advantage of this quiet little window of time, to write .... to breathe :)

But today isn't a day for sorting things through for me. I feel like I've been doing that a lot here, lately.

Today, I want to put my perspectacles on, if you will (borrowing that term from a blogpost I read this week) and focus on what is currently bringing me joy.

Because we have an abundance of it, here at The Rice Ranch.

Enough to share...

#1  ~  Seven of our kids went to the dentist yesterday - and I am happy to report that they had ZERO cavities. Praise the Lord.

#2  ~  Kenzie and Monique went yard sailing (or is it saleing ??) last weekend and found this Little Tikes cabin for $20. I wish I had taken a video of the kids' reaction when Caleb set it up in the backyard, but I can tell you this - it was priceless.

And if you had seen the look on Hayden's face when he saw the mailbox and accompanying wooden "letters" that came with it (another yard sale score) ?

Joy squared.

(thank you, Monique, for always thinking of our kids ;))

Also raising my joy quotient this past week....

#3  ~   I mean who doesn't love a little impromptu TP party ? Shoes and shirt not required, bring your own rolls. Spread liberally throughout the house, and be sure to giggle uncontrollably when your mother asks what you think you're doing.

Guaranteed fun.

Next up ...

#4 ~  Summer storms.

We've had three days of very unseasonable thunder storms. This may be the norm for Arizona in late summer ( I do miss the Monsoons !) but almost unheard of in our neck of the woods. I forgot how much I looooove thunder storms. And love counting the seconds in between lightning flashes and the inevitable BOOM that follows. If our scientific calculations were correct (is it five miles per second in between lightning and booms, or twenty ???) we were just a mile or two away from getting sizzled in the parking lot at church Sunday night. YOLO.

And don't ask me what those peace signs flashed on my kids' cheeks are all about. #clearlyiamgettingold

More things bringing me joy :

#5 and #6

Cooking. And baking. They're right up there with writing as far as therapy for my soul. Pictured above is Jamie's Famous Shrimp Creole. I'll post the Famous Recipe if I get enough requests ;)

And below are Patti's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.

At least they are famous here at The Rice Ranch.

Crispy on the bottom, chewy in the middle, with just a hint of cinnamon. Nom nom.

We interrupt this message to bring you a little survey : how do you like your chocolate chip cookies ?? Soft, crunchy, crispy, flat, fluffy, semi-sweet or milk chocolate, walnuts or not ??? All commenters will be sent a virtual cookie to their inbox. Okay, not really, but still. Leave a comment if you love cookies.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program ....


This girl.

She cannot wait two bless-ed seconds after opening her eyes each morning before starting the morning Cheerios Chant. Which goes something like this :


Mama, Cheerios ?

Mama, lalalalala Cheerios ?


She is consistent. And persistent. I'll give her that.

That little death glare above is what I am subjected to every morning if I even TRY to do anything other then set a heaping bowl of plain (no honey nut, no apple cinnamon, ) cheerios before her.

In the princess bowl.

With the princess spoon.

Not that she's a diva or anything.

No sirree.

But at least she's an angel the rest of the day .

Uh huh.

That photo was taken Sunday afternoon. She was supposed to be taking a nap with Mackenzie. I walked in to see Kenz sawing logs (that would be her - the large flower mound beside Lils) and Lily... sporting fresh war paint.

Also known as Covergirl Outlast Lipstain, guaranteed to last 8 hours.

Which it does.

In case you were wondering.

More JOY :

#8 ~ Babies Bathing In The Sink

Normally he gets his morning bath in the tub. Which he did. Until he baptized himself in diarrhea. We switched venues to the sink, and he was pleased as punch with the view from there.

Can I just say - Burts Bees, Baby curls, dimpled elbows - be still my heart.

I can overlook a lot for that triple jolt of JOY.

Even a tub full of poop.

Praise the Lord and pass the lysol.

So guess what ?

My quiet afternoon got hijacked. Surprise, surprise !

Three teenagers came crashing through the front door, Hayden woke up from his nap, and the rest of the kids came home from the dance party, all within five minutes of each other.

So here I am on Thursday morning, feeding Hayden french toast on my lap with one hand, and typing with one finger on the other. And all the multitasking mamas said Amen.

 Where was I ??

Oh yes - counting all my joys.

I may have lumped a few together, but I believe I am on #9. Which would be that photo above.

Aside from a crooked toe (no mocking in the comment section, please, as I am very self-conscious about my crooked second toes. I didn't invent them, God did. So there) ASIDE FROM MY CROOKED TOE, that nice little birdie picture and the matching ceramic birdie and the striped maxi skirt all brought me tremendous joy this past week. Carnal joy, perhaps, but tremendous nevertheless. I don't advise retail therapy on a regular basis, as the newness of things always wears off. But truly, sometimes a one hour trip to TJ Maxx is a healing balm to my soul. I'm sure there is a corresponding scripture for this idea somewhere in the Bible, and when I find it, I'll be sure to let you know.

For now, just trust me : Buying a few little treasures every once in awhile maketh thine heart merry! Patti 2:9

You're welcome.

And here is number ten on my Eleven Things Bringing Me Joy post.

I mean, seriously. I can't even. All that cuteness and personality wrapped up in one kid ??? Is that even legal ??? He just makes me smile. Like a hundred times a day. I wuv him.

And finally .....

.... waking up to not one but TWO babies born in my forties. It's like Christmas every morning.

I said this on Instagram when I posted this picture, but knowing that SO MANY of you are not on Instagram, I will repeat myself here...

Babies born late in life are like a surprise crop of strawberries at the end of the summer... a little bit sweeter and a little easier to spoil :)
1 Patti 3:17 in case you wondered

And there you have it.

Eleven things bringing me joy.

It's your turn now in the comment section... what is bringing you joy - big or little - this week ?

Ready, set...... GO !!