Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Have A Dream

On the evening before Down Syndrome Awareness month begins, I have a dream. 

I have a dream that my little girl will be seen for the person she is first - instead of the syndrome. 

I have a dream that when people meet my daughter, their first instinct is not to feel pity for our family - but shared joy for the gift we've been given. 

I have a dream that by sharing our hearts and our stories, we as parents of children with Down syndrome can help others to understand that a label can't define our children. They are unique and invaluable and special. Just like any other child. 

Lily isn't a syndrome, she's a child .... who has Down syndrome . She doesn't have a disease and she isn't suffering. She isn't always happy - she has highs and lows and a full range of emotions just like you and me. She isn't an angel or a messenger from Heaven ... she's a little girl who has opinions and throws tantrums and can be just as naughty as the next little girl ;)

She's just a child ... who has Down syndrome . 

I have a dream that when you meet Lily , or any other person with Down syndrome, you see what I see ... an individual. Someone who has hopes and dreams and preferences and feelings and potential - and was fearfully and wonderfully designed by their Creator... a person. 

Just like you and me ❤️

Monday, September 29, 2014

true confessions

Just in case you didn't know... 

I am an officially certified Scentsy consultant. And in case you've never ordered Scentsy, you can find the above products (and more!) on my personal website

And I am happy to say that I am only TWO DOLLARS away from my required sales to stay a Scentsy consultant this quarter. If you have been reading here previously, you know what an accomplishment that is on my part because A) I am the world's worst saleswoman. I freely admit it. and B) I am probably the only Scentsy consultant that actually replies to their no-reply emails begging them to just let me stay on, because I'm addicted to Scentsy products and I have eleven kids for crying out loud, cut a mom some slack. (They've never replied back, in case you wondered.)


Confession time ...

I have actually had customers email me asking me to do parties. And I am embarrassed to say ... I ignored their emails. Because I don't do parties. I just don't like to stand in front of people talking and selling things. Which is kind of funny, because that's pretty much what my husband does on a daily basis (he does credit card processing if you're an interested small business!). But that's not me. I can type things on a keyboard and put a link in a blogpost, but I just don't do in real life sales thingies. 

HEY - I just had a brilliant idea ! Maybe my husband can sell Scentsy for me !!!

I'm gonna go call him with that brilliantly helpful little suggestion, but in the mean time .... if you want to ... I mean if you don't have anything else to do with your hard earned money... and only if you really really love Scentsy like I do .... you can place an order on Lily's Basket Party.

But only if you want. 

No pressure .

(See why I'm the world worst saleswoman ?? Don't tell Orville.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

friday night at the rice ranch

It's Friday night and I'm wiped out.

We woke up this morning to a broken pipe on our water heater, which resulted in water being sprayed ALL over our garage. We keep pretty much everything in our garage- it is our kids' gigantic playroom, as well as the storage place for everything . So I called Sam after purveying the waterpark that was now our garage, and he raced home from work immediately... he turned the hot water off while the kids and I started soaking everything up with big sponges left over from Daddy's tile installing days. Dozens of books were soaked, and Tyler's electric drum set was sprayed... buckets filled with sports equipment and other items were saturated... but it could have been a lot worse.

The nice thing about this little mishap was that it motivated me to reorganize the garage and return it to the tidy state it was in when we first moved here. Three hours later, I emerged from a dry garage with a victorious smile on my face... but the thing about organizing one big area like that is -- it leads to organizing many other parts of the house, because of the overflow that results. Ahem. Sooo... three more hours later, I emerged from Abbi and Lily's room - I went through all the drawers and buckets and closets and got rid of everything that didn't fit or they didn't wear anymore... aaaaannnnd two hours later I emerged from MY closet victorious :) Hayden's clothes are kept in my closet, as well as various and sundry items that had made their way to the garage over the past nine months.... one thing led to another and all I can say is Goodwill scored off the Rice family today !!

Soooo..... all that to say- I'm ready to crawl in bed with a book and relax right now. However, I will probably be asleep before my head hits the pillow... hopefully I won't be organizing everyone else's closets in my sleep, because I am DONE with that for the day !

Monday I'll answer questions from the last post on homeschooling - tonight I'll dump some photos from the past few weeks and call it good :)

Ready ? Here we go !

Somebody starts ballet Monday ...

She may be a little bit excited ...

Homeschooling is going well ...

We like to take breaks for tea and toast . The perks of learning at home ...

abbi's fingers... not mine ;)

Hayden is learning to read ...

...okay, well he's learning to turn pages and smack books on his sister's head when she doesn't pay attention. Same thing, pretty much.

He really does adore her ...

And safe to say she adores him ...

Abigail got side bangs, courtesy of mama ...

Norah Jane turned one and I forgot to post this pic from the night of her birthday ...

Our grapes are ready !!! Grown right here at The Rice Ranch ...

The deer ate everything else... well, except our potatoes, onions and basil ... so sweet friends of ours kindly left fresh produce from their garden on our doorstep several Sundays in a row. And it was sooooooo yummy !!

Hayden got his first pair of Hello Moccs, so he can keep up with Lily ...

Sammy and I went on a date on the day that I thought I had a dentist appointment. It was actually the next day, so we went out for breakfast instead. Oh darn .


Random picture of Hayden.... because, CURLS !!

Jack and his twin ...

Koa spent the night a few weeks ago...

hello, mr photobomber enjoying your mcflurry !

It's Beaver season again !!!

Sam and Hayden and I went on a walk the other night.... stopped for a blurry pic, just because ...

We came home as it was getting dark, and I took this picture with my phone ... because I discovered that I LOVE how the back of my house looks at night :)

And I love the smell of chocolate chip banana bread waiting for us after a beautiful fall night stroll...

That's all for now, folks.

Nighty- night ...

....sleep tight !

Thursday, September 18, 2014

grandbabies and dental work and homeschooling, oh my

I have a baby sleeping in one bedroom (Hayden) and a grandbaby in the other (Macie) and a stack of schoolwork to score. I was gone all yesterday - six and a half hours in the dental chair and three root canals and crowns - and I lived to tell the story. Actually, I don't want to tell the story. The fact that I lived, and I am eating pain free today is enough. I'll spare you the picture of my face ... I could probably play the part of the Mayor from Whoville if I didn't have an ounce of pride. But I do. So much so, that I don't plan on going anywhere until my face recovers. Even if it takes three weeks.

So moving on to the fun stuff quickly - because I really do need to go score that schoolwork... Miss Macie is growing .

That little chunk-a-monk is five months old and weighs almost as much as Hayden. And she TALKS. Like nonstop, always shrieking and babbling and telling the world how excited she is to be in it. Melts.my.heart. I get to keep her overnight for the first time, as Jo and Mo are moving to a different place. Josiah brought her into the house and immediately Hayden ran over (yes, he runs now) and started yelling May Mays !!! She is pretty popular around here :)

Other news :

We've settled in nicely to a new school routine. I am so thankful to have kids who are self-motivated to get their work done each day. This did not happen overnight. It took years of establishing that a) school work has to get done every day, and b) they have to stay on track without me constantly supervising them, if homeschooling is going to work. And I do mean yeeeeaaars. People ask me all the time how we are able to get our kids to do schoolwork ... how do they stay on task and get along and how do I not lose my mind daily?

I don't have quick fixes or simple solutions, rather the same principle that we apply to every area : lots of prayer and lots of structure and lots of love.

Sometimes things get totally crazy, and Sam calls a family meeting before bed, where rules are established and things brought back to center. We air our griefs, we come up with new strategies for handling the chaos that is sometimes The Rice Ranch, and we make a plan. We are not always 100% successful at mastering that plan, but at least we have one.

Also : we pray daily for our kids to have a love for learning and a willingness to cooperate. If they have a heart for those two things, we can overcome any challenge. I have kids who are not as good at staying focused as others, but if I see in them a love for learning, I can redirect them as many times as needed, until they get their work done. I have kids who struggle at math or don't enjoy reading like the others do, but if they have a willingness to cooperate, then we can find a way to plow through the challenges they face.

And what I have found is that my kids need a LOT of firmness (NO, you may not check your email real quick before getting on your math) and a LOT of love (I see that you are struggling at your writing assignment today, let's sit down together and help you catch up) to keep everything running smoothly. Praise and tenderness and understanding can go a long way with a child who is easily distracted. I can't tell you how many times I have seen one of my children turn around, as far as attitudes go, when I praise them in front of their siblings for doing well on an assignment, or studying quietly and nicely. Sometimes the children who seem the least "focused" are really the ones who just need a little extra love and attention to help them grow and mature. This doesn't always happen instantly, but over time I've seen my difficult children (yes, we do really have some of those) thrive under lots of encouragement and praise.

Okay, well Macie and Hayden both decided that Lily going down for her nap (don't you sleep in your apron ??) would be a great time to wake up from theirs. So my mini essay on homeschooling and what's new with my grand baby will end spontaneously right now... if you have any questions on homeschooling you'd like to see answered in a blogpost, leave them in the comment section.

Happy Thursday !!

Monday, September 15, 2014

monday miscellany

Just dropping in for a minute to share a couple things... I'll be back later with more, but #itsmonday. Enough said.

I'm writing over HERE today ... you may have read the post (featured there) last year on A Perfect Lily, but just in case you didn't ... go check it out . And leave a comment if you have time ;)

Also ... if you haven't ordered any of your favorite Scentsy products in awhile, September is the month to do it. If you order anything from Lily's Basket Party, you will be entered to win a shower gel of your choice. FYI : The fall warmers are AMAZING, and the new scents as well.

And lastly... this girl is getting cuter than ever. More later on how her little personality is just really blossoming as she approaches her fifth birthday in January. Seriously, life just gets sweeter and sweeter with our Lilybird. Can't wait to share more.

Happy Monday !!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Forest Fire ... and Scentsy Saves the Day

It's Monday morning here at the Rice Ranch, and after an eventful weekend, I am anxious to get back to the routine of homeschooling and laundry.

Friday night Sam and I were visiting friends in McMinnville. We had our five youngest children with us - the older ones stayed behind for work and sports events. Halfway through the night we got a call from Mackenzie that a brush fire across the street from our house appeared to be out of control. She didn't sound frantic, rather a little alarmed - the flames were high and the fire seemed to be moving quickly. It's been very hot and windy as of late - two conditions that don't gel nicely with brush fires !

A half an hour later Kenzie called again to say that things had quickly progressed - the fire was spreading and many of our neighbors were being evacuated. It looked like the fire was staying on the other side of our neighborhood, but she said she felt like she was watching a movie ... people were running everywhere to see what was happening, police were banging on doors and asking people to leave, and the nighttime sky was little up with flames and smoke. Timberhill (our neighborhood) was in chaos.

photo credit : tyler rice :)

Sam and I piled the kids into our van and raced towards Corvallis. We had no idea what to expect- every few minutes Mackenzie would call or text with an update, and friends from back home were keeping us posted as well. At one point someone came to our door to tell the kids to prepare to evacuate- poor Mackenzie and our teens were frantically piling years of scrapbooks and memories into giant plastic tubs to throw in her car. When she called to tell us what they were doing, I told her to leave it all and get in the car and go .... I have to admit hanging up and bursting into tears telling Sam I didn't want to lose all my baby pictures of the six oldest kids ! (Abigail on down are digital pics). Sam assured me that it would take a lot of wind to shift the fire across to our house, rather than downhill, which was the direction the fire was headed by all accounts.

It's always nice to have an extreme optimist in the car when you are racing home to an out of control forest fire in your neighborhood. Just sayin'.

Just as we pulled into Corvallis, our son Jason texted to warn us not to try to go back home - Walnut street was bottle necked, as cars and people were trying to get out of our neighborhood. Mackenzie called to say she had the kids and was on her way to Jason and Naomi's. Sam, of course, took a different route so that we could see for ourselves that our house was safe.

 He may or may not be known for heading into danger rather than away from it, at any given moment.

We drove up to our house (the back way) and saw that the sprinklers were on in full force. Count on Caleb to think of something like that before evacuating the house.

Sam and I left the kids in the van and ran inside to grab pillows and toothbrushes. Because, you know - if you have to go spend the night at your kids' house, you want to have your little creature comforts. I grabbed - you guessed it - my tea and stevia. Girlfriend will have her tea NO MATTER WHAT.

We got back in the van to hear a tearful Jackson telling Abigail he "just wanted the people of Timberhill to be safe." I was SO proud of my little seven year old, thinking only of others' safety, and here I was, crying over my baby pictures. And then Abbi told me how five minutes before, Jack was wailing to "PLEASE JUST GO GET MY IMAGINEXT TOYS !!!!!!" and I felt a bit more human.

It really is crazy what your mind does when you're faced with losing it all. Kids safe ? Husband safe ?  Baby pictures safe ? Okay, grab my teabags and stevia. And the toys. We're good to go !!

The rest of the night was spent waiting at Jason and Naomi's, listening to what news we could get, watching twitter, texting friends and family, and debating whether or not it was safe to go back home.

Kenzie finally decided to drive back over to our neighborhood to see if the fire department had things under control... Sam and I followed, as he declared he just wanted to sleep in his own bed. Even if he was burnt to a crisp doing so.

Okay, he didn't say that last part, but I definitely thought it.

We pulled into our driveway after seeing that the fire had been contained up by our house (the firefighters were still working on putting everything out downhill from us) only to see Josiah and Monique and Macie and their little dogs spilling out of their car in front of us. Apparently they had just been evacuated, along with all the other people living just below the fire... by this time it was one in the morning .

We went in the house ... and read on twitter that the fire was 70% contained... so I went to bed 30% sure our house would catch on fire while we slept on in oblivion.

And I am 100% confident that Sam went to bed 100% confident that we were fine- because he was sawing (non-burning) logs each of the 47 times I woke up to make sure we were all still alive.

Here is a little footage from the aftermath, just to prove that I didn't make all this up ...

Our house is in that neighborhood directly left of the fire. If you zoom in, you can see Sam sleeping soundly in our bed, while I pace the floors, praying. You might even see me glancing over at my snoring husband in disbelief ... but only if you look closely.

Sooooo... it's Monday morning, and if I sniff hard I can still smell smoke.

Which leads me to the real meaning of this post : Scentsy Saves The Day.

As soon as I woke up on Saturday- and every day since then ... which was two more days, but still ... I turned on all my Scentsy warmers, filled with all of my favorite scents ...

... and voila - no more smokey scent at The Rice Ranch !

And in the rooms where I don't have warmers (closets) I just sprayed a few puffs of this :

... and like magic -  our home was once again Scentsational.  (Dang, that was good. Is anyone at Scentsy headquarters reading this ??? I need to write commercials for them or something. Someone get me the President of Scentsy, stat !)

So, just in case any of you had a forest fire sweep past your house this weekend, and today you are battling to maintain a pleasant fragrance in your home... I am bringing you good news - Scentsy can save you. 

And I happen to know a very good Scentsy consultant, who can hook you up.

Isn't she cuuuuute ???

If your house (or car or office) is in need of a little Scentsational pick-me-up, just head over to Lily's Scentsy Store and click on Lily's Basket Party to shop for all your favorite fragrances.

And to show my thanks, anyone ordering from that party will be entered to win a shower gel of your choice ...

... leave a comment telling me you ordered, and a winner will be drawn at the end of the month.

Thanks for shopping - Happy Monday !!