Thursday, June 25, 2015

summer news... and a special announcement

Hello !

Things have been a little busier than usual at The Rice Ranch ~ more on why in a moment, but first ...

It's officially summer !!!!

Temps have been in the 80's and 90's here the past few weeks, and not one word of complaint has been heard from anyone around me. Having a/c in our house for the first time since we moved to Oregon twenty years ago has helped ! It was unthinkable in Arizona for a house to have no air conditioning, and I'm pretty sure it ran about ten months of the year. Here we really only need it sporadically throughout the summer, but it REALLY does make a difference on weeks like these, where 92 is the norm.

While I have been enjoying the nice cool temps inside the house, my kids have been taking full advantage of the beautiful weather outside : swimming, playing basketball, eating popsicles, bike riding, going to the river to play, you-name-it. They are rarely indoors, and I'm enjoying little breaks of quiet (an extremely rare occurrence in house full of eleven people !) while they are gone.

someone else enjoying a little alone time with her baby :)

Our backyard garden is flourishing with all this sun - tomatoes, potatoes, cilantro, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, chile peppers, zuchinni, and all kinds of lettuces are all in various stages of growth. We are sooo excited to enjoy the fruits of our  Caleb's labors in our evening meals this summer. I've seen dozens of drooling deer eyeing our fresh produce through the sturdy fence we fortified this year ... if you overhear Hayden yelling "Mama throw ROCKS at the deer !" I promise it's just his vivid imagination.

lilies in our backard pond !!

While the older kids scatter in a hundred directions throughout the day, Hayden and Lily are keeping me entertained at home with their daily antics and contagious giggles. These two are so inseparable lately - always finding trouble to get into together, chasing each other from room to room, or whipping up imaginary feasts in their play kitchen. Hayden still hasn't mastered the concept of using kitchen utensils when preparing his culinary masterpieces, but he serves a fabulous "noodles-topped-with-a-baseball" nonetheless.

In other news : I transformed our bedroom balcony into a little garden sanctuary ... what was once just an ordinary wooden deck off our room, is now our own private little space for reading or sipping tea or just lounging in the beautiful Oregon sunshine. Just a few simple additions of flower pots, hanging baskets and garden lights, and I have a new favorite spot - and I'm wondering why I never used this space before !

helping mommy pick out flowers for her patio project

I've spent so many relaxed mornings and quiet cool evenings up there, just listening to the birds singing, enjoying the fresh scents of summer, and gazing at the nighttime stars. Everyone should have their own little quiet space to retreat to, don't you agree ?

So now, my written excuse for my absence of late.

Some other new developments have been going on at The Rice Ranch as well ...

baby fox lovey by The Hill on Etsy and sweet fox crib shoes by A.N.D. on Etsy as well

We are thrilled beyond belief to announce that a new little Rice baby will be joining our family early next February :)

Sam and I were able to see our little blueberry on ultrasound this week (I am seven weeks pregnant) .... I don't know that there's a more beautiful sound to my ears than that of a strong and steady baby's heartbeat.

I promise to share more details about this newest little blessing in the days ahead- for now I will say that he/she is extremely prayed for and planned for and hoped for - and at 47 years old, I know exactly what kind of miracle we have received. I'm in the throes of morning sickness and sheer exhaustion - thus my need for cool indoors temps and quiet little hideaways when hormones and nausea hit hard. But I am so so grateful for this amazing little person growing inside of me ... so much happiness here, it's hard to put into words.

"Behold, children are a gift from the Lord .. happy is the man who has his quiver full of them  !"

Until next blogpost ...

Happy happy summer :)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

donuts, s'mores, and funnel cake, oh my !

Hello, blog friends... it's been awhile !!!

I hope your summer is starting off well ... here in beautiful Oregon we are welcoming temps in the nineties and beautiful cloudless skies this week. We have a full schedule planned around this glorious weather : strawberry picking, swimming at the river, long evening walks and trips to the pool to name a few.

A few weeks ago Sam and I slipped out of town for a few days, leaving our older children at home to hold down the fort. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary at a beach house we found online in Neskowin, Oregon ... we took the two littlest munchkins and had such a relaxing time for five days with nothing to do but enjoy each others' company.

Oh, and eat lots of yummy food :)

While I love vacation, something about being away makes settling back into our routine all the sweeter. Morning chores and homeschooling and afternoon naps, baking and playing and evening meals together and bedtime stories ... all the ordinary things seem so much nicer when we come home.

donuts made for National Donut Day by our resident baker, Abigail

what chocolate chips ?? 

surrounded by babies and grand babies - can't ask for anything better 

adorable fox snuggly by The Hill on Etsy

Our kids have just a week or two of schoolwork left to do before we wrap things up for the summer. I remember things being the same way when I was a child in public school - those last few weeks of school seem to draaaaag by. It's like we lose steam, even though we know the train has to actually pull into the station before we get off and RUN into summer.

Yesterday I gave us all a day off to go strawberry picking - I declared it our end-of-the-year field trip day, because that's the kind of thing you get to do when you are the school principal, teacher, and bus driver all rolled into one.

Other things you get to do when you are a homeschooler : stay up late for impromptu campfires in the backyard and start school at nine thirty the next morning. In your jammies. With s'mores still on your fingers if you feel like it.

By the way, did you read that Michelle Obama would like to encourage all Americans to ditch their beloved s'mores for her healthier version of this national treat ?

^^^ That's Hayden, roasting his yogurt over our fire pit ... just before Kenzie tops it with strawberries (instead of chocolate) and slides it between two graham crackers . Tastes EXACTLY like a s'more- only healthier ! 

now THIS is a great way to eat strawberries. in my humble opinion. 

We are anxiously awaiting her suggestion for how to improve another American treat - The Funnel Cake .

I actually just learned how to make these at home  ... maybe next week the First Lady will tweet some improved version, substituting pureed cauliflower for pancake mix and shredded carrots for topping, but for now we are indulging ourselves on the fattening, starchy, gluten-loaded goodness above. 

Hallelujah and pass the pancake syrup.

Okay, all snarkiness aside (we really don't live on pure sugar alone at The Rice Ranch, but photos of salads and carrot sticks just aren't as appealing as Funnel Cake and donuts. Hope y'all don't report me to The Health Czar.) ... where was I ?? Oh yes, all snarkiness aside ...

Hayden, admiring his big sister's sweet kicks from Hello Moccs 

... I have a serous item I need to mention.

My friend Katrina Morris emailed me asking me to share a video with you all on YouTube. I don't have enough words to describe Katrina's dedication to the cause of the forgotten orphans in Russia.

Perhaps, if we are going to give time and attention to weighty (no pun intended) matters like unhealthy national treats, we could give equal attention to the issue of abandoned and forgotten children ... children who did nothing to deserve their fate, other than arrive in life with an extra chromosome.

Children like my Lily.

I'm asking Lily's readers to take just two minutes and fifty-two seconds of your time, to watch To The Moon and Back on Youtube. And when you're done watching that, perhaps you could take 30 more seconds to "like" this page on Facebook.

Thank you ahead of time for joining with me to remember children like Natasha, who are still waiting for a family to love them and bring them home.

Please pray for these precious children - pray that God would move mountains for them, and pray that Russian families would consider rescuing their own children from the future of life in an institution.

Because every child deserves the love of a family.