Monday, December 15, 2014

Signing times Christmas collection giveaway

Last month during Thanksgiving I was privileged to be one of 25 bloggers selected to do a signing times giveaway. I read the email saying I was selected, jumped up and down screaming hip hip hooray, put my turkey in the oven… And promptly forgot about the giveaway. So now I have an hour and a half to do one. I posted the giveaway on Instagram and I'm opening it to Lily's readers here as well.

Lily is watching these videos as I type this… Here's my review in a nutshell: I can't even tell you how much Lily adores Signing Times . From the time she was an infant, signing has been the best tool she has for communicating with us. I had no idea before she was born that Signing Times even existed. We had no knowledge of American Sign Language prior to her birth. But thanks to Signing Times, pretty much everyone in our family knows how to communicate with Lily. We have probably memorized every song there is in the entire Signing Times collection. The songs - combined with the signs and the videos - make learning sign language so easy for everyone in our family. As soon as Lily sees a Signing Times dvd case she yells out "LETTERS!" Each series is so captivating, and it is amazing what she picks up from watching them. There've been so many times when she has signed something that I didn't even know the sign for… And then I'll watch one of the videos and realize where she learned the sign. She didn't just watch the video, she absorbed what she was watching.

Please visit and then come back here and tell me (in the comment section) who in your life would benefit from the Christmas collection from signing times to be entered to win. Winner will be drawn at 2:45 PST ...

Ready, set, go !! 

UPDATE : GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ! Linea Gynne is the winner- please email me IMMEDIATELY with your address :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

photo dump .. and some important news !

A few days ago I uploaded these photos from my phone (it seems that's the only ways photos get taken these days !) and inserted them into the blogger app on my phone (it seems that's the only way blogposts get written these days) and voice texted my words into my phone (again.... you get the picture) .... and lo and behold, when I opened the draft for this post on my desktop computer ... I got zilch.

Actually, the pictures are here (needing to be resized and placed in order) but the words are gone.

Technology = zero

Headache = one

So instead of trying to recapture my words from a few days ago ... they probably weren't all that profound anyway .... I will type what's on my heart right now . And if it doesn't gel with the pictures, pretend this is one of those abstract paintings that doesn't necessarily make sense, but is art nonetheless ... in blog form.

The above photos were from our tree decorating party last week. Josiah and Monique and Macie joined us - Hayden and Macie took turns trying to eat the ornaments I had spread out on the floor, while the rest of us hung them on the tree. The look in Hayden's eyes when it was all finished was ... priceless. He has spent the past few weeks dutifully pointing out Christmas lights wherever we go - "ooooh, lights !" he reverently whispers, making this seasoned-Mama's heart melt as if he were my first baby seeing lights for the very first time.

In other news ...

Caleb decorated the front of our house right before Thanksgiving, earning him a bagel of his choice at New York Bagels. We now get leftover bagels free when Tyler comes home (after working there all day), earning him My Favorite Child of the Year.

I jest. 

Sort of.

Next is a random photo from a few weeks ago when I got to babysit my favorite grandson, Koa.

He's also my only grandson, but I'm sure that won't be for long, given the way we Rices seem to multiply like bunnies. At least that's what someone told us many years ago, and that was when we only had three kids. We're a regular bunny factory these days, I guess.

I have no idea why the above photo was on my camera roll, except for the fact that the sun was shining. Those moments are rare come December in Oregon, so I think I captured it for that reason. I adore our cozy, rainy, wintery days, but honestly some days I do yearn for sunshine ... like a stay-at-home mom craves chocolate.

Okay, maybe that analogy wouldn't score points with any high school grammar teacher, but it was the best thing I could come up with while I sit here at the computer typing and .... craving chocolate. 

I realized another thing when I transferred these iPhone pics to this post : I take a lot of pictures of my babies sleeping....

I mean a LOT of pictures.

But can you blame me ?? They are so cuuuuuute when they're sleeping.

And even cuter when they wake up .

Speaking of flipping adorably cute, look at these little soft soled shoes that my daughter-in-love made Hayden for Christmas ...

She sells them in her Etsy shop, and she has a few pairs left if you love them as much as I do !

Oops, there I go again !!! #sleepingbabiesaddict

I've been a baking maniac lately. If I have to be stuck in the house all day and night (thank you rain, and thank you pink eye) I am going to make the most of my time here. Because I don't have enough to do homeschooling six kids and feeding a family of 11, I like to add some more stuff to my plate. 


If you're on Instagram, I'm posting daily easy cookie recipes there for those of you who (like me) are short on time, but long on ...  cravings. And for those of you who are counting your calories during the holiday season, I deliberately post only non-fattening, low-sugar, healthy shmealthy recipes for y'all to enjoy .

And if you believe that, I have a small child I would like to sell you for a week. At least until he's done cutting molars and getting over his ear infection at the same time. (Thus the cookies on the couch. Hey, we do what we need to for survival around these parts. Judge away !)

look at that !  A sleeping baby picture ! How did that get here ????

Lily has been in rare form these days. I don't know if it's her way of telling us she doesn't give a hoot about Naughty and Nice Lists, or if this is a delayed version of the terrible twos coming to haunt us just before she turns five next month ... but she has definitely been a little feistier than usual. And sneeeeeaky. I won't go into her exploits here, but if you see a small blond elf running around the neighborhood wearing three pairs of her sister's underwear around her waist while eating a bag of stolen m&m's and hiding my van keys.... please send her home as quickly as possible. I'm locking her up til this season of merriment and mischief has run its course !

Just before I end this post, I have three important items to share ... the first two are really important, and the last one is just a teeny bit important. If you're short on time, just pay attention in that order :)

Liam Timothy Garvin, made his blessed appearance into the world on Sunday, November 30th, 2014 at 9:06 am. 

If you are a newer reader here, please take the time to go back and read THIS POST to understand what incredible weight the above sentence holds.

I'm swallowing back tears right now, because I'm remembering a day in March of 2013 when Heaven seemed a little bit sweeter, but our hearts were broken for the Garvin family. 

Baby Emma spent just 26 short minutes with her mama and daddy, pictured above. She went home to be with Jesus that day, and she left behind a baby-shaped vacuum in her parents' hearts. Although no child can ever replace another, I know Jessie and her husband are rejoicing right now, and beyond thrilled that God has blessed them with a new little one to fill their hearts and arms ...

From Jessie's email :
 We are so in love with this precious gift from God and could not be more thankful. Thank you for all of your prayers and love. We are thrilled to share this news with you and please feel free to share the news with Lily's readers. You have all been such an incredible support to us and we are thankful for each of you in our lives.

Congratulations, Jessie and Tim, and sweet Baby Liam - our hearts are overflowing with joy !!!


The second piece of important news I need to share with you is a request from a dear friend ...

Dear Patti,

It's been two years now since they banned us from our adoption... 2 1/2 years since I saw Natasha. But I have never given up on her. I still get to receive pictures and I am once again sending gifts to her orphanage this year. It seems like such a small thing to do but it helps keep me feeling connected in some small way. 

In honor of Natasha's 9th birthday and the 2 year anniversary of the adoption ban please join together with us to get 10,000 likes on the Parents United for Russian Orphans FB Page by the end of the year. 
Our goal is for people around the world to come together to help the children stuck in Russian orphanages by providing information and supporting groups that help the children have better lives. We are begging the Russian government to bring about change for the better and continue to ask them to work with our government to allow the remaining pipeline children to come home. If this is not possible, we pray the children will speedily find loving homes in Russia and that the government will provide the necessary support system for them.
Natasha was only 6 years old when a loving family met her and agreed to adopt her. She has spent an extra 2 1/2 years in an orphanage because of the adoption ban and most likely will spend the rest of her life without ever knowing the love of a family if changes are not made.
Please visit our blog and read this article by Russian journalist and volunteer for Downside Up Julia Kolesnickenko ... 
And the link to the Documentary FB Page.
Katrina Morris

Will you join me in praying for Natasha and all of the other orphans left behind in Russia ? I will be blogging about one of these orphans in the New Year - God has worked some amazing miracles for some of these little ones, and I know He will continue to do so in the days ahead. 


As I said above. this last item of business is pretty unimportant in light of adoptions and miracle babies ... so no worries if your eyes have glazed over at this point in today's post.

But ..... if you're still with me .... there are a hundred ideas for stocking stuffers over in Lily's Scentsy Store right now ...

These sweet smelling products are the perfect answer for those hard-to-buy for folks on your Christmas list. Who doesn't love to fill their homes with lovely fragrances, especially when most of us spend so much time indoors during the looong winter months ?

Scentsy offers so many products to choose from ... whether that's beautiful warmers like the ones pictured above that are used with Scentsy bars to fill your home or office with fragrance, or Bath and Body products like the ones below ...

...whatever your gift giving needs, there is something for everyone available in Lily's Scentsy Store. Make sure to click on Lily's Basket Party when you order ... let me know in the comment section if you place an order in December, and you will be entered to win a fragrance bar of your choice !

Happy shopping ... now go take on the day ;)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Welcome, Christmas !

Well hello there, December !

Thanksgiving made its scrumptious appearance last week, and we are all a few pounds plumper as a result.

We spent a lovely four days with my mom, sister, nieces and cousin, catching up on life, eating, shopping, gingerbread decorating and geocaching. They flew in from Arizona Wednesday and left on Sunday morning, and I miss them so much already... so thankful to have had the time with them, even though saying goodbye was hard. I spent most of the holiday soaking up time with my family, rather than taking pictures but did manage to snap a few (and steal one from Mackenzie to make up for my lack ;))

pictured with my kids: my mom, my sister hope, my niece Brittany and my sister's foster baby Charlie, and my nieces Jade and Grace

Jack and Jade

my niece Grace. cutest laugh in the world!!

^^My hard working oldest son, Jason ...going to nursing school and working full time at the hospital and catching sleep when he can !!

.... and the beautiful people : Mackenzie and my niece Brittany . xoox

So today we headed over the river and through the woods to chop down our Christmas tree.

Okay, actually we drove across town to the Boy Scouts' Christmas tree farm, because they didn't have any trees big enough for us at the lot. We scored a massive thirteen footer for $2.50 a foot. Hellooooo, Oregon. (Back when we lived in Arizona you couldn't touch a tree for that price. Perks of living in Christmas tree country !!)

The nice Scout leader who offered to meet us out at the farm whipped out his handy chain saw, and after whacking that tree down in less than ten seconds, Caleb yelled, "WRONG TREE !" I could say something punny here, like "the pinecone doesn't fall far from the tree", but I'm not cheesy like that. Ha.

 I will say that we had quite a time lugging that bad boy across the field to our van... and an equally difficult time getting it onto the roof of the van ... and even though I contributed nothing to all this hard work, I declared a trip to New York Bagels a necessary reward for all of Sam and Caleb's hard work.

Actually, Sam declared it a necessity, I just yelled Amen.

Tyler behind the counter... hint: he's not the one with the beret

do you have any candy flavored bagels ??

Tyler works at a local Chinese restaurant, but he recently landed a part time job at New York Bagels as well. Sam does their credit card processing, and he never misses an opportunity to score points with his clients by purchasing their products... I don't want to name names, but we may have an excellent actor to play the part of Santa in our upcoming church Holiday Family Fun Day if someone keeps this habit up. Ho ho ho :)

Lily approves of her brother's service

me and my girl. well, one of them .

Caleb sharing nicely.

Sam and his midlife crisis hat. That's what I call it anyway ;)

Jack and Noah picked jalapeno bagels. My kinda guys .

So as luck would have it, the credit card processing machine went down just as we were there. Sam went behind the counter to fix things, and the natives quickly became restless. It was all that gluten, I tell ya. Mwuahahahahhaa.

Fortunately for us, there was this looooong hallway behind the bagel shop with lots of room to run and dance in, and lots of cool walls to take pictures in front of. I'm quite sure someone built that place for such a time as this.

Fifteen minutes later Sam had things up and running again, and we all piled back into the van to make the long journey home.

Three minutes later we pulled into The Rice Ranch and began the arduous process of Setting Up The Tree.

Also known as Everybody Has An Opinion On How Straight A Tree Is .... but Mine's The Only One That Matters.

I forgot to mention a funny thing that happened at the Christmas tree farm while we were there.

Kenzie and the little kids and I were traipsing through the mud and pine needles back to the van, following Sam and Caleb as they marched tree-laden ahead of us. I took a big long sniff of the air and sighed. "I looooove the smell of pine trees," I said, smiling at Mackenzie. "Me toooooo !" she sighed as well. "Wish we could somehow bring that home with us."

What can I say.


Here I am Christma-fying every bless-ed thing I can at The Rice Ranch.

And here is Hayden, undoing every bless-ed thing he can get his hands on. Yay.

Speaking of Christma-fying ... I'm hosting a Holiday Jamberry Party online through my friend Danielle. All the Rice ladies are HOOKED on Jamberry nails, including Lily. These nail wraps come in dozens of adorable patterns and colors, and one of my favorites is Candy Cane. I did my nails with them, and Lily's toenails too... with an accent nail from Abigail's set of Reindeer Jamberrys for her big toe. Swoon.

Hop on over to Lily's_Jam_Party if you'd like to order some today.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have some tree decorating to do with all my little elves ....

Happy December - - and don't forget that you-know-who is watching this month...

... and he knows who's been Naughty and Nice ! !