BEST VALENTINES GIFT EVER

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My husband Darren is truly amazing in so many ways, but if you were to ask him about his gift giving skills he would tell you that is an area of improvement in his life.

HOWEVER, his wonderful man surprised me with the most cliques Valentines’ gift ever: a puppy!

We got married in July 2010, and our first Valentines Day as a married couple Darren brought home our dog Fender:

 

Darren had decided it to buy it from a lady that got him as a puppy and couldn’t keep him. She lived almost an hour away from our house. Darren went right after work to pick him up on Valentines Day.  As soon as Darren got on the freeway headed home with Fender in the front seat, we learned something about Fender: our dog gets VERY carsick. Poor Darren got to experience the carsick dog from both ends of Fender if you know what I mean.

Darren arrived home with Fender in hand. He came in the front door, hands me Fender, says, “Happy Valentines Day, I need a shower.” Super romantic hehe.

But the rest is history! This WONDERFUL dog has been nothing short of AMAZING with my kids. I could not ask for a more loving dog! Every dog has their moments and trust me Fender has had his. Yet, I would not trade this 85 pound dog for anything!

 

The name Fender comes from Darren’s Electric guitar which is a Fender, although he has been called Fender Bender (which fits his clumsiness).

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A is for Apple

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This week in Preschool we have been working on the Letter Aa. Within learning the Letter Aa we have focused on APPLES :). Perfect for the beginning of Fall.

My grandparents have several apple trees, which we went to and picked apples from to start the week. Then on Monday when Nana came over we of course had to make some apple crisp 🙂 YUM!

Then Tuesday, we decided when Grandma came over to make apple turnovers.

Next on the list is to make Apple Sauce to freeze and eat throughout the winter!

 

APPLES for the WIN! What are your favorite things to make with Apples?

 

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Laundry Mat

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As we all know by now I am obsessed with Pinterest! Currently I have 14,417 pins hahah! I even started a completed board for all the pins that I have completed!

In one of my boards under the heading of Build My Own Dream Home, I have pinned multiple pins on double washer and dryers. With the size of my growing family I decided having two sets of washer and dryers is a MUST in my DREAM home.

My fabulous husband is always looking for ways to make my dreams come true and to make life easier as well as more productive. So, in an effort to make those things happen he decided that a double washer and dryer is something we don’t have to wait for our DREAM home to have.

So I present to you: The Rice Laundry Mat

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This all came about since my brother and sister in law were moving out of there home and had this beautiful new set of clothes cleaning machines.

How can this work? I wondered the same thing. Thankfully the dryer we own is a gas hook up and the dryer we received is an eclectic dryer. Then Darren created a Y drain for the washer.

I can say that I have been running all 4 at once and have not drained or burned the house down …. yet.

Thank you Darren for making our LOADS and LOADS of laundry a little easier 🙂

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(This is a painting of a verse we put in our Laundry Room :))

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What are some of your Laundry tips and tricks :)???

 

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Living in a Fishbowl

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Me … age 4

Growing up as a Pastors Daughter there was times I felt I was living in a fishbowl and eyes were watching me make all my life choices. My parents did a great job not “advertising” my faults, or my learning opportunities. Thankfully I didn’t grow up in the Facebook world. I would be embarrassed to look back and see advertised my faults and mistakes for anyone to see. This is not because I think I should have been perfect and not made mistakes (everyone makes mistakes), or that I didn’t learn from my mistakes, (because trust me I LEARNED A LOT growing up because of them). This is because I am always being refined and changing by the grace of God, and I don’t want to live in the memories of the old but in the hope of the new.

Please hear me out, I WANT to relive and remember the good memories, the ones that changed my life and make me smile and laugh out loud. SO because of this I want to remember the good, laughable, sweet memories of my kids too. I want to try my best not to advertise their faults, or learning opportunities. I want to record something they wouldn’t be embarrassed to reread when they are adults.

So WHY am I writing this? What is the point? I want to assure any reader, family member or friend out there that my family is not without our faults, (we have a lot!) But as I get chances to write and record our process in Raising Rices (our kids), I want to share our success stories, our parenting wins, our processes and values. I want to record a lasting memory of us, our family, our faith and our legacy. Will there be stories of second chances and discipling opportunities, YES and more I am sure!

I want to encourage, inspire, be real, and enjoy the process 🙂

Enjoy the journey!

 

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Family Pictures

Yesterday we took family photos. It was our first time as a family of 6 getting our pictures taken, and boy oh boy was it an event to remember. My husband is working a few night shifts this week at the hospital, so I thought it would be the perfect time for us to schedule a photo shoot. Well, it sounded good at first, until Darren got sick, but he is a trooper and said the “shoot must go on.”

So, let me start from the beginning, our photos were at 4:00 pm on Thursday, about 24 hours before that, 4:00 pm on Wednesday I realized I had been working to get 4 of my children to have nice clothing that didn’t clash, and a complimentary outfit for my husband to wear, that I COMPLETELY forgot about me! (Does that happen to any other mommas out there?) I gave a quick call to my fabulous friend Stephanie, who co-owns this super cute pop up boutique clothing shop (Poppy Rose). She came to my rescue and brought me a BAG of clothing to choose from. Crisis averted!

The day of, we did homeschooling in the morning, lunch, baths and then naps! (WE WERE ON FIRE!) We were feeling great, everyone was clean and everyone had pooped. Yes, I said pooped, I can tell you I get so excited when my kids poop at home, especially when we are heading out to go somewhere because I can 95% guarantee that they won’t need to go when we are out. (Not talking about Jesse the newborn, he poops ALL day!)

This mommy even had time to get myself all did up :). I also had the time to put “make-up” aka concealer on Madeline’s upper lip, since the night before Madeline fell HARD and split her lip and bruised her upper lip. (GREAT TIMING RIGHT… not!)

So we get everyone up, dressed, including a bib on Jesse to keep his clothing nice before pictures and we get them all loaded into the van. We start driving to our photo location, on time and feeling amazing!

We arrive at this beautiful park, with a field, and near a river, so beautiful! I get out of the front seat and get the older kiddos out of their carseats as Darren gets baby, Jesse, out of his carseat. The minute my sweet, CLEAN boys get out of the van, I no more then look away for two second, then when my eyes return to my sweetie pies they are making pies, DIRT pies. YES, they are sitting in the dirt and proudly showing me their creations. So, I do what any loving mother of boys does, I quickly and passionately encourage them to get UP!

‘Deep breath,’ I tell myself, ‘the pictures will just reflect real life, this is totally normal.’ I breath in and breath out, and hear, “Babe, I need you.” I turn to my trooper of a sick husband and see that our baby Jesse has spit up all over his own clothing. See Darren had just taken the bib off Jesse so he would be ready for pictures. (Just like babies know when you sit down and they start crying because the elevation change, they also know right when you take their bibs off and they take the opportunity to spit up.) We clean up Jesse and I just pray it will be warm enough to dry the now wet shirt before pictures begin.

MY fabulous photographer friend Velvet shows up and we gather ourselves together to go take pictures. The older 3 kiddos come with me to say hi to my beautiful friend Velvet and Darren heads to lock the van up. We turn to walk to meet Darren, all the kids are by my side. I see Darren pull the van door to close it and lock it so we can go take pictures. Then as if my world went into SLOW motion, I see out of the corner of my eye, Jonah start to head towards Darren. I think to myself, ‘there is no way he will make it to Darren before the van door closes.’ I was wrong! At the very, very, very last second when the door has like 1 cm to go, Jonah sticks is sweet baby fingers into the door. I scream, Jonah screams! We all run to him and pull the van door to open it just as we remember it is locked! Darren holding Jesse, gives him to me quickly, runs around the other side of the van as he is reaching into his pocket to grab the keys and quickly unlocks the van and rip open the door!

After many loves and snuggles my tough cookie of a little boy recovered! Praise God it was Jonah, the only one of my kiddos who would never recover from such an event and still be able to go and take pictures.

SO we begin … Velvet being AMAZING works so well with our whole family. We start in the field and then proceed to go take some pictures by the river. In the middle of taking our pictures by the river, I smelled a smell. This smell is a smell I smell everyday. In fact, I had already smelled this smell only hours before the photo shoot. YES! You guessed it: Poop! UGH! I swore that no one would have to go, since EVERYONE went earlier in the day, but atlas I was wrong, Jonah had proved me wrong!

We called it good, with confidence that Velvet (BEING AMAZING) had gotten at least one family shot. My family was done; dirty, poopy, and injured.

The following day Velvet sent me this:

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I cried. I couldn’t believe it! We did it! We got at least 1 family photo of 6! Velvet is amazing and this is only a preview, there is MORE coming! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! I am so happy!

Thank you Velvet with Velvet Flare Photography!

 

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Moms Make Your Bed

Do you ever have a convicting moment? I HAVE them ALL the time!!!! In fact I just had one TODAY!!!

Yesterday, I wrote a blog about morning jobs for my kids and how that helps them prepare for the day. One of their morning jobs is to make their beds. Simple enough, right! I mean, we should all make our beds right, haha. I laugh because here I am telling my kids EVERYDAY they should make their beds. Anyone want to know the last time I made my own bed (more then just throwing the comforter over it ha)? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

In fact, if I really think about it around a year ago I had this same convicting moment. I was convinced I needed to make my bed every morning. This convicting moment coincided with a Bible study I was doing with a group of GREAT young ladies at my moms house. The book we were reading was Women Living Well. In the book I read something that helped motivate me to WANT to make my bed. Courtney the author, said when she would make their bed in the morning she would take the opportunity to PRAY for her husband and their relationship. In fact, Courtney would do this to many of her household chores. She would think of the person who is blessed by these chores and pray for them as she worked. This is exactly what I needed to hear at the time, because household chores can seem mundane and without a greater purpose. I was committed to making my bed and making the best out of the chores I would do around the house.

Well, as a new baby was being formed in my womb, I have to admit I got: LAZY! No wait, I can’t call myself lazy, I was helping to create a baby all while keep 3 other kiddos alive, fed, and for the most part happy ;). But regardless, I did stop making my bed.

But, God has this great way of gently reminding us of our own goals. And one of my year goals is to be in prayer more. So this morning, in light of writing my blog yesterday about morning jobs, I ran across an article written by Angie Tolpin,  someone I find super fascinating, and the article was called: How making my bed transformed my marriage!

I mean can I get SLAPPED in the face with a more obvious DUH! moment? I think not! So, I suppose now that I have told the “world,” I need to start making my bed! I am going to go right now!

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By the way, I think it is time for a NEW bedroom look 🙂 Here are some ideas:

I want to look into this company near us called RB’s Workshop, I just bought this SUPER cute Gather Sign (see picture below):

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… and maybe do something like this in the room above the bed:

OR I have a sweet friend from high school that has a shop called, The Holiday Porch, and I was thinking maybe a big sign like one of these over the bed:

Oh MAN! Choices Choices …. Can you weight in and give me your vote!?!?!?!?

 

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Morning Jobs/Daily Responsibilities

A while back we decided that we needed to come up with a routine in the mornings to help get our kids ready for the day while mommy was going to be getting baby Jesse ready and fed. This what we came up with:

Morning Jobs:

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Noah Morning Jobs

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Madeline Morning Jobs

They did take some training with each of these morning jobs, but they can successfully do these independently now, WITH CHECK IN’s. I ask the kids to check in with me on things like brushing their teeth and brushing their hair, since they are close to mastery but not there yet. We also have a sheet for bed time as well. BUT, as we all know we are changing and adjusting as parents, and just yesterday I was looking through other ideas for daily jobs and I saw the coolest phrase “Daily COMMITMENTS.” They had different categories of commitments, like commitment to myself (self care), commitment to family (daily chore), commitment to school (school prep/homework). I might have to change my wording haha I was really impressed with the word commitment!

In addition to Morning Jobs we also have Daily Responsibility (Chores). Madeline has 3 a day and Noah has 2 a day. These range from feeding the dogs, help emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, wiping down the table/chairs and more. These are to be done after breakfast before school time. These daily responsibilities are on sheets of paper that change the job each day.

Here is an example:

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Madeline just turned 4 and Noah is 2, it took me a while to come up with jobs that these age ranges could do, however honestly: I under-estimated my kids, they are so capable and WANT to be helpful! I have learned I need to capitalize on this time and let them do their full potential instead of cutting their abilities short.

There has definitely been a theme to everything we do lately in our house, and that theme is HOW TO HELP MOMMY’S SANITY hehehe. I am happy though as we add some structure to help me feel sane it also helps the kids learn and take more responsibility at home.

We wanted to encourage and reward our kids behavior so we came up with a “stick system.” Each time our kiddo does a job (morning or responsibility) we give them a stick (see picture below). In order to get a stick they have to have completed their job without complaining and fully. They can also be given extra sticks if I see “helpful hearts” during the day. They can loose sticks, by not completing a job or doing it without a “happy heart.” SOOOOOO what do they get with their sticks???? Every Sunday we count up their sticks and we get to do a family activity together IF they have earned the amount we set. Currently, we all earn the activity so far however, if and when we don’t then that member of the family won’t be able to participate.

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Family activities we have done so far (we just started this 2 months ago) are:

  • Making donuts
  • Going out for ice cream
  • Picking out NEW toothbrushes (I know silly but my kids loved it)
  • Picking one item from the Dollar Tree
  • Staying up late and going to the park with friends
  • Eating homemade yogurt popsicles
  • and more!

What are some of the chores/responsibilities that you have your young kids do or do you remember doing as a child?

 

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Communication

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Within the family there are communication break downs from time to time! Ok, more frequently then we think considering interrupting, and whining to be communication break downs, I would say we experience it daily, even hourly.

I have been listening to a few pod casts, reading a few blogs, and seeking wisdom when it comes to communication within the family, and here are some bullet point ideas I have gathered:

Interrupting – After listening to a pod cast the speaker, September McCarthy, said one thing she observed with her kids was she was using the phase, “Stop interrupting,” and was getting no results from her kids. She believed this was because she wasn’t teaching her kids the WHY. Why interrupting is harmful and impolite. So she began to explain to her kids,

When you choose to interrupt, you are putting your needs above others.”

I liked this explanation, because sometimes interrupting can be important, like if someone is BLEEDING! But, other times when we interrupt we are telling the people talking that, “my needs are more important.” We have been working on the verse, (Golden Rule) Do unto others as you would have them do to you. This totally applies when it comes to interrupting.

Since my kiddos are younger we have been also working on the elbow or leg system I heard about from a friend. This system is where if a child needs you they can come and place their hand in a designated spot and the parent would place their hand on top of the child to tell them I see you and I will speak with you when I am finished. I really enjoy this system but I felt like it was missing something due to the consistent “Excuse me, Excuse me, Excuse me” we hear in the car when they cannot physically touch mom or dad. So I like the combination of both of this ideas.

Communication (for adults, teens, and children) – During this same pod cast mentioned above, the speaker talked about her 4 Rules for Communication.

  1. Honesty – When we respond in a conversation we need to always respond with POLITE honesty. So when the hubby asks me, “How are you doing?” The response of, “Fiiiine” is not using honesty, I need to communicate to him how I am feeling, (because unfortunately he is not a mind reader, no matter how many years we have been together he will never become a mind reader either).  The part about POLITE is a real important aspect to me, here is an example: “How does this dress look on me?” “I think you look like a fat cow, just being honest.” This expression of “Just being honest,” so you can say something impolite is not the christ-like honesty we need to be using. I can also hear in my head whenever I hear the expression, “Just being honest” my dad saying the phrase, “Sooo does that mean the other things you say are not honest because you didn’t say ‘just being honest?'”   I think the idea of honesty in all we say is great to start young with the kids too because I can see the growth in communication that can come from learning this skill.
  2. Keep it current – I am totally guilty of this, we need to keep to the current topic of disagreement, not bringing up what happened last year. It reminds me to forgive like Jesus does, where our sins are casted as far as the east is from the west. There is a lot of what if’s that come in this section and I get that, but as a general rule, it is good for us to keep it current in our communication.
  3. Attack the Problem NOT the person – such a good reminder because I know if I feel attacked in a conversation I will never get to finding a solution because I will be too busy protecting myself from the attack. Our words are powerful and can help or hurt.
  4. Act Don’t React – this to me represents attacking the problem head on, and being purposeful in our pursuit of communication. I am still really working on this in my form of communication to my kids. When I feel worn down from the day or have given a million reminders I can tend to react or personalize behaviors that are not personal. (Your children don’t wake up thinking, “At 9:05 am I am going to make sure I have disobeyed 10 times so that I can really upset my mom, they don’t do that, their behavior is usually NOT personal, they are just learning.) The visual I get with this rule is when a toddler falls and doesn’t cry right away, but looks to your face to figure out what his reaction should be. If we scream, cry, gasp, and run to the toddler, what does the toddler do? THE SAME THING! But, if we stop evaluate how the toddler is physically and calmly check in, 9 times out of 10, what I have experienced (with a harmless fall) is they will get up and keep playing. We are teaching the reaction even from a young age, so it is great to be aware.

Whining – Boy oh boy I am in the trenches with this topic! Save me from this whiny stage please! Assure me there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Sounds like I have given up hop, but NO I haven’t given up, I just haven’t found what works best yet.

Here are some of the expressions we have tried:

  • “I can’t understand what you are saying when you speak like that.”
  • “When need to have a happy heart, and a happy voice.”
  • “Please use clear words”
  • “You will need to try that again without a whiny voice”

Some times they work but I am holding on to the hope that there is something that will connect better. PLEASE HELP A MOMMA OUT, do you guys have any expressions you have heard or used???? I love learning from others, so please share your wisdom!

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FOOTBALL SEASON

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We have entered into Football Season! The most loved 17 weeks of some peoples lives and the 17 longest weeks of others.

When I was younger I LOVED throwing the football with my dad. He taught me how to throw a spiral and I loved the time we would spend just throwing the ball back and forth. I loved it so much in middle school I asked my parents if I could go out for the football team (there was another girl playing on the team.) My parents wisely declined my request. I ended up trying out for the volleyball team and LOVED it! But lets get back to football:

Things I LOVE about football season:

  • Being together with family (BIGGEST ONE)
  • The food at football parties
  • Being in a room full of passionate people
  • I truly do enjoy watching the game of football
  • I love doing things my husband loves
  • and more!

BUT one of the things I DISLIKE the MOST about football season is the: COMMERCIALS! I know, I know, I will probably get a lot of backlash from this one, but I REALLY dislike them! See, when we watch football we usually are always watching it as a family, the whole family, the kids and all! We usually head to the in laws or a friends house which is one of the reasons I LOVE football because we are all together. But, that means the kids are with us when the commercials come on. Have you seen some of the commercials these days!!! UGH!!!! The commercials are geared towards grown men and not towards kids. I find myself even looking away at some of the commercials for different things during football games.

I expressed my frustration with this during the Super Bowl last year to my mother-in-law, and asked her what should I do. (My father-in-law tries his best to mute or turn the channel during some of the commercials which I appreciate but that doesn’t solve the problem when we are at friends house or other times the commercials might come on). My MIL suggested what she used to do with the kids. She would simply ask the kids to cover you eyes. During the Super Bowl last year we tried this and it WORKED. (At least for their ages now). They would cover their eyes when we asked them for the commercials we felt were too much for them to view. We did make it a game to teach them how to do it and then expressed our concern to them so they would understand the WHY.

Every time I think about the whole situation, all I can think about is the little song we used to sing in the kids room at church, “oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down with love, oh be careful little eyes what you see.”

 

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Successful Soothing Secrets

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When Darren and I were about to become parents, a sweet friend from the school I taught at told me about Happiest Baby on the Block (here is a short video on youtube that will QUICKLY show you his 5 S’s to soothing). Well we would like to thank my teaching partner for showing us these methods because it has SAVED our BACON! Let me break it down for you:

The 5 S’s to soothing your baby (and a bonus at the end we also use)

1: Swaddle  – All of our babies like to be swaddled and as mentioned in my Sleep Training Blog, we have used the traditional and the batwing swaddle. Our babies have LOVED to be all snug as a bug in a rug! (Believe me they fight it but are so happy that mommy and daddy don’t give up and swaddle them, they sleep so much better). If you think about it, they were super tight in the belly, warm and secure; I can only imagine the swaddle reminds them of this. We never bought the fancy swaddles with the velcro, but we did fall in love with Muslin Swaddle Blankets we bought them used or got them as baby gifts and have used them with all the kids! Also, as they get older the swaddle helps with their startle reflex which can wake them up.

2: Sideways or Stomach – I didn’t believe this would help at first, but boy was I wrong! Our first madeline had rough stomach issues, lots of gas and spit up! But, goodness gracious when she was fussy and we would lay her on her sideways in our arms or on her tummy she would calm right down. It made a believer out of me for sure!

3: Sucking – All our kids are binky/pacifier LOVERS! They all started off with the Avent Green Soothie and then “up-graded” to the Nuk pacifier. To be honest I was nervous about them becoming “thumb suckers” and me not being able to take away their thumbs, so we encouraged all our kids to enjoy the binky over their thumb. (We did wait before giving them the binky to reduce the chance of nipple confusion, but in all honesty the wait time decreases with each kiddo). We also made a decision to take the binky away at 9 months with each kid and so far it has worked well for them.

4: Swinging – This swinging motions has different “levels” that we have used at different ages. When they were younger babies we would, swaddle them, put them on their side, give them the binky and then gentle swing their head moving them no more then a inch in either direction. This then moved to what I like to call the mommy swing, you know that movement all mommies make when they are holding a baby. I even find myself swinging with no baby in my arms hehe.

5: Shushing – Literally you are telling your baby shhhhhhhhh, but it is not the quick Shh, it is long, drawn out and louder then you would shhhh someone in the library. This is one of my husbands favorite S’s and he does it so well. He does all the S’s before this and then push his mouth close to the babies ear and shhhhhhhh’s at a good volume and drawn out. (He was a swimmer and has the lung capacity of a blue whale.) This shushing it replicated later when we are sleep training through white noise.

BONUS: 

6: SINGING – My husband and I LOVE to sing and make music. Darren is an amazing musician and I enjoy singing very much! Some great memories I have of times spent with my babies is singing to them. I love it when they are fussy and here me sing and quiet down to listen, my mommy heart is overflowing even thinking of those times. I also have this lasting memory of one night when Madeline was super young and couldn’t sleep, (which was unusual because she our best sleeper,) Darren grabbed his guitar which was hanging on our wall and sat down in her room and starting playing his favorite music. Boy, I tell you, she responded so fast to his music playing.

SO there you go, the 5 (plus 1) S’s to soothing babies. This is what worked for us, there are so many other great ideas out there too!

 

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