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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.”



Successful Soothing Secrets



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.


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!



Sleep Training


I have had a lot people ask me questions about sleep training. We decided to “create” our own method of sleep training. Which basically means we read a lot, got advice from a lot of parents, and combined them all together with what works best for our family. Here is what we have decided to do.

(Disclaimer: this is just what works for us, all children are different. We are not doctors, we are just having a conversation about what worked for us.)

We start “sleep training” around the age of 6 weeks. And this is how we start, we simply observe by writing down what our babies pattern for being asleep and awake is already. It is amazing how they have already established sleep patterns on their own, and as we record them we can start to see them appear. I usually keep a master list on our kitchen table and just jot a note down. The information I find important to write is when they eat, sleep, and are awake.

Once we have recorded a few days, and have observed patterns we start to implement the eat/awake/sleep “routine.” We start each morning with our newborn at whatever time their observed pattern was closest to, (for example if they were normally waking up around 6:00 we would start then, with the goal in mind that we are going to try to get our whole family to eventually all wake up at 7:00 am, which is what the older kiddos are doing at the moment and what works for our family. Once, they are awake from their night sleep we feed and interact with the newborn, keeping them awake and giving lots of love and attention. (The older kids love helping with this … if only you could hear the made up songs they sing to Jesse lately 😉 )

When first starting our “sleep training” we aim for 1 hour of awake time (but could vary depending on the patterns we observed prior). After 1 hour of awake time, we enter into the sleep portion of the time. We swaddle them up, (using the tradition swaddle or the batwing swaddle which we use quickly since our babies are HUGE). We snuggle for a quick moment, but making sure when we lay them down they are not in a deep sleep. It is totally ok with us if they are just shutting their eyes a little and we lay them down. With all the kids we also have done a binky/pacifier, so we give them that when they sleep as well.

After they have slept for 1 hour, if they are still sleeping we will go and pick them up and softly wake them up, to feed them. If they are not waking up we will take note that maybe we should try to keep them awake for 1 hour and 15 minutes and let them sleep for 1 hour and 15 minute the next time (gradually increasing). To help them be fully awake to nurse we will change their diaper. After they are awake, we feed them and the whole process starts over again, UNTIL we reach the final chunk BEFORE you want your night time to be. Ours is 7:00 pm, with a goal being that they will sleep from 7 pm to 7 am. (I know at first this sounded crazy to me but I can tell you all 3 of our older kids sleep from 7-7 now. Madeline started sleeping through at 12 weeks, and the boys a little older.)

The chunk of time before the “night time” goes as follows; after the are awake around 5 pm in this case, we feed them and then we PLAY and interact. This chunk of the time there is no sleeping (if we can, but we are flexible too). During the second hour keeping them awake is when it gets a little harder, we like to do baths, lotion them, jammies, sing songs, talk to them (usually not the same thing every night, we like variety). This to me is the most difficult time of “sleep training” because it really does require one parent to pay attention to the newborn the whole 2 hours. As you know we have 3 other kiddos and the dinner hour, but for us it has been TOTALLY worth it! The end result is something we only dreamed about before we were parents and now we are living it.

So if you are following the eating pattern you will note it is time to feed right before bed. This is the ONLY time we try to feed and put to sleep, with the hope that when we do this the baby will learn that when I feed and lay down that means it is time for my long sleep.

Onto the night time, so from 7 to 7 is our ultimate goal to train to sleep through, but as we all know newborns just don’t do that from birth so it takes some attention. During 7 -7 we have the lights off, soft music, and a set up area for nursing so that the dark and quiet can continue. For us, reducing distraction helps so much when our newborns wake up to nurse during that time. When they do wake up, we get them without too much crying in the beginning, we check the time to see the length between each feeding, and we feed, and lay right back down with the binky, swaddle, and without holding for too long. Does this work 100% of the time: NO! But, if we make it the goal then slowly it does work for us. Then we start the day over again at the wake time.

Here are some charts that help see the pattern we try as we increase their awake and sleep time. And as you will see there are many different patterns and charts so the goal is to pick one that works for you and your baby. I know now from having 4 babies that each one will do it a little different and that is GREAT!

Here are some for 6 weeks:

Here are some for 3 plus months old:

  • This is a great one, goes from 4-12 months
  • Here is another 3-6 month one

This are some outlines that show you where you are going next:

  • Here is a great outline for up to 2 years
  • Here is a great outline through 6 months with the saying EASY (Eat, Activity/Awake, Sleep, Your time)

As you can see there are so many, I personally think when I was figuring out what worked for us, I read through a million. I would encourage anyone trying to figure out what works for them to read through some ideas and see what fits your family.

The whole reason we sleep train is so that as a family we will work together. It has been so great for me to know when I will get one-on-one time with each kid based on when Jesse, our newborn, will be resting or when my older kids will be in quiet time. It allows me to know when I will have time to make food, read books or clean without a newborn interruption. (Does it work 100% of the time, NO! But it has given me so much sanity!) Other ways we work together is the kids all get the REST they NEED! From newborn to 4 years old, all the kids benefit from REST, and the right amount of rest! Life happens and when the kids don’t get the rest they need, I CAN TELL! Haha!

Lastly, I have heard so many times, “how do you even have time with your husband, with 4 kids!?” (Well, I want to say obviously we have enough time to make 4 kids happen 😉 BUT instead I explain that with sleep training, Darren and I get from 7:00 pm on together, and truly have enjoyed that so much! It is our time and we get to do so many things together, while all our kids sleep in their rooms. We have even worked out a dating system with some dear friends who also have similar bed times. Where we put our kids down for bed here at the house, they send their beautiful wife/momma over and she hangs here at the house, watching movies, reading, whatever she wants, while we get to go out to dinner (WITHOUT PAYING an arm and a leg for baby-sitting… can you say FREE!). Then we switch and another time of the month I go there and get to watch a movie or show or read. It has really worked for us!

I am happy to answers questions best I can, but what it boils down to is DO WHAT WORKS BEST for your family, by molding together ideas, working as a parenting team and be commitment to trying what you decide. It is easy to give up but commit to your idea and give it a try!

Last comment: EVERYTHING we do as parents, we should do in love! I heard a sweet friend talk to me about when she was sleep training they felt like they didn’t have a connection or bond with their baby and while sleep training (with the baby wise method) she and her husband felt like they were digging a deeper divide with their baby. SO PLEASE STOP if that happens, and most important in all of this is loving our babies!

Please leave a comment with date ideas to be done in the house! (after kids are in bed) Can’t wait to hear your ideas 🙂



First Day

We started our first day of school with a smile and ended with a smile, I call that a success.

Tot School


Since Darren was on-call and at home all day, we game planned to allow me to teach the older two, giving them extra attention on their “first day” of school, while Darren hung with the younger two (age 1 and 7 weeks).

Our school day went GREAT, we talked about stamina and how we will work up to longer school but as for today we started with about a 45 mins school block. The kids got to do: reading, math, calendar, bible, and writing. BUT, I think their favorite things we did ALL day was learning to cut with scissors, which was their first time ever!

This weeks focus is the letter S, the number 1, learning to read, and learning to use scissors. I had planned to learn about the letter S by doing some SUN actives but sadly with the massive forest fire near our house we can’t even see the sun, therefore we have talked a lot about SMOKE (also a S word, but a very sad one in this case.)

practicing the letter S
Practicing writing her name

I bet you are dying to know how Darren did with the younger two???? Well, my husband is super dad, and I say this because he always loves to do interactive things with the kiddos when he is hanging with them. So during our school time Darren decided he was going to make pizza dough with Jonah (age 1), we needed it to be made for dinner that evening since we were having friends over. Jonah of course was loving every minute of it, having one-on-one time with daddy. Half way through their adventure, Darren went to lay Jesse down for a nap in the other room. While Darren was gone for literally a second, Jonah had reached across the counter and grabbed the olive oil they were using, when Darren returned to the kitchen, seeing Jonah with the olive oil in his hand called out, “Jonah,” and at the sound of his name, shocked Jonah dropped the olive oil. Needless to say my wooden floors got a really nice oil treatment and are squeaky clean ;).

Overall, it was a very fun day! We learned a lot! For example, right after school time I need to make sure my kiddos get a movement activity, and with the fire and smoke warning we are not to be outside so Darren and I have created a plan to redo our garage space, (future blog post).

So here is my question: What are some great indoor movement activities??? I would love to hear some ideas 🙂


Sunday Prep Day

Does anyone dread Mondays? I always feel a bit of sadness when Sunday comes to a close because I know that Monday is when the hubby returns to work, and I just love our family time so much! My hard working husband works a “traditional” Monday through Friday job. (Well he is suppose to, but he picks up call, and weekend shifts from time-to-time.) I was finding that Mondays were feeling extra hard to me. So I decided to try to figure out what would make Mondays feel more successful to me. This is how my hubby and I came up with our SUNDAY PREP DAY.

WE talked together about the things that would make us feel ready to begin the week fresh. As previously mentioned in another post, my hubby LOVES clear counters and table. It truly makes this fresh start feeling for the week ahead, verses the piles on piles feeling. We also discussed how I feel so much more on top of things if I know what is coming, whether that is in our calendar week or what we plan to do for school for the week. I love a full schedule but I HATE double booking myself! It is all too easy to forget to write something on the calendar or assume the other person knows what is going on. In addition, talking about the week ahead has built so much excitement and conversations for the kids. As we discussed more we found many things that would set us up for success but really tried to limit how many things we did for Sunday Prep Day, because it is a day of rest and refocus for us as well.

The other thing that is important to us in all we do is to include our kids. Training them alongside us as we all work together, and Sunday Prep Day is no different. The current struggle with having a 4, 2, 1, and 6 week old kiddos is that everything we do seems to take a while. We know it is important so we take the time, but we decided we that we didn’t want our Sunday Prep Day to take more then 2 hours. Below is the list we are currently doing, while knowing it can and will change as we grow and adapt.

Sunday Prep Day


My favorite quote I say to remind myself about our Sunday Prep Day is:

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content”

I suppose life is always about adjustments and improvements, so right now this has been an improvement for our family. Spending some family time together preparing for the week makes us all feel ready and successful. After our Sunday Prep Day is complete we like to do a family activity to enjoy our time before daddy returns to work. Lately, we have enjoyed walking to the park, playing in the backyard, eating homemade yogurt popsicles (YUM), and or spending time reading some of their favorite books. It is a wonderful closure to one week and the start to the next.



Monthly Kid Dates


Would you like to know a secret: I was so worried when we got pregnant with baby number 4 that the other 3 kids wouldn’t get my attention. Come to find out, apparently everyone worries about this from time to time in families of more then 1 kid, let alone 4. So instead of worrying about this issue (which I am great at worrying), I decided to pray, seek council and of course go search pinterest ;).

During my search I came across a lot of great ideas. I would like to talk to you about one idea that we just implemented and I LOVE IT! We are calling it Monthly Kid Dates or in my kiddos lingo they call it “special days.”

Let me break down how it works. We have taken each kid and have pair them with either: me (mom), dad (Darren), Nana/Papa (my parents), Grandma/Grandpa (Darren’s parents). And, every month it rotates. (See Picture Below).

Monthly Kid Dates
Here is three months, hung by our family command center

We have already had several “special days” with the kids and the feedback from them has been more the good. It is so fun to hear them talk about what they got to do. You may be asking yourself, “wait, how can you do a date with a 6 week old?” I thought the same thing, my dad brought up a great point when we were talking about the “special days.” He said perhaps a lot of the kids won’t remember EVERY date they have with each person, but what they will have is the pictures, the relationships, and the love from their family. I couldn’t not agree more with him. I look back at pictures when my grandparents and parents took me to the Oregon Zoo when I was a toddler, and to tell you the truth I remember NOTHING of that trip, but looking at the pictures the first thing I feel is LOVE, and the first thing I think is what a invested family I had (and still have)!

Some ideas of things that have been done or creative ideas of what to do on our dates include:

  • Trip to the Library
  • Go to Lunch
  • Bake a special Meal or Dessert
  • Painting
  • Trip to see a special interest (example: trains)
  • Hiking/Walking
  • Swimming
  • Zoo
  • Playing a special game
  • and more!

Another blessing I have found with the “special days” is the relationships that are built when one of the kiddos is out on their date. The one-on-one time they get with one of their people creates lasting memories and builds on the love they have for that person. They get to talk one-on-one, they get snuggles one-on-one, they laugh, play and get one-on-one attention. These moments are just as valuable as being with the whole family,  which they absolutely love as well!

On a normal day of playing at home our two older kiddos (ages 4 and 2) tend to play together the majority of the time. Our third Jonah who is currently 16 months is still learning how to play the games the older are playing, BUT when one is gone on an outing the other older kiddo who remained at home join together and play beautifully. I love seeing the building of all sibling relationships!

Here are some pictures of different “Specials Days”:

Noah got to ride a ChooChoo (HE LOVES TRAINS) .. yes it was a little loud for him hehe
Madeline got to make a peach cobbler with Grandpa
Baking Peach Cobbler, they even went to the fruit stand to pick out peaches

We are so blessed with WONDERFUL involved family members! I thank GOD so much for their love, wisdom, and support! But, this can be done with less kids and even less family involvement due to many reasons, (I know lots of friends who have AMAZING families but they just live far away). The original idea I saw on pinterest was just with 3 kids and mom and dad. They had special dates with mom, dad and then there 3rd was called family outing and the 3rd kid got to pick the family outing. There is tons of opportunity to be creative with “Special Days,”

What are some special (and affordable) activities you like to do? (Lets make a big list … sharing is caring;))


Family Table


I can not begin to tell you how many times a day I find myself cleaning our kitchen table! It seems to be the catch all of things! From coloring books to play dough to my papers, I am consistently cleaning the table.

We are now a family of 6! To be more accurate we are a family of 6 that loves to have family and friends dwell with us. We ENJOY so much hosting people at our house! So because of our growing family and our love of people, my hubby and I decided we needed a larger table :). So Darren went to building one for us! Our table seats up to 12 comfortably and we have been known to squish more in or grab another table.


My fabulous husband is what I would call a minimalist. He LOVES a clean table! He loves cleared surfaces and declutter lifestyle. My own mom is the same way! So I don’t know what happened to me haha! No really, I have personally come a long way from the cluttered lifestyle to the minimalist side of life. I always wonder why some people thrive off of clean and clear spaces, then I heard a quote at a women’s conference that spoke to this beautifully for me. They said the goal to organizing and declutter is to get all the details of your life, “clean, clear, current and complete,” because then once you, “get it out of the brain or out of the way, it makes more room for creative ideas.”  And boy oh boy I have seen the creative opportunities happen when we are, “clean, clear, current and complete.”

BUT, why does it seem like the family table is ALWAYS dirty! The answer is clear: WE SPEND TIME AT IT!

I recently read an article I found inspiring by Sally Clarkson, Click HERE if you would like to read it. But, I would like to share a few quotes with you that were so motivating when it comes to the family table.

Sally starts off by talking about how busy we are in life and she follows up by saying, “I think, we get lost in these multitudinous tasks that rule our lives, and we lose sight of the underlying purpose behind all these tasks, which is to prepare our children to go into the world and bring light, love and beauty to a fallen world. Each of us is to play a part in God’s kingdom work. Right in our homes we have the potential to raise future leaders who are moral, filled with faith and ready to take hold of their arenas for Christ.” I love the purpose we have in our children’s lives. I am growing excited when I see opportunities to disciple my kiddos.

What does this have to do with the family table you maybe be thinking. Well! GREAT QUESTION! How many times do you find yourself at the family table? We are there breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks a day, cooling time, play dough time, family game time, and more! You name it! We are always at the table! There is one time though we have cherished and that is DINNER TIME, because that is when DADDY is home! I love what Sally says about her dinner time,

“when I learned to see our time together at dinner as a time when we could all breathe in grace, comfort, inspiration and a place where everyone could find welcome and love, I purposed to design such a space. I came to understand that I was the conductor of such dreams, soul treasures, and it gave me direction in how I planned to be intentional each night to pass on the encouragement their hearts needed in these areas. 

When children hear the words verbalized night after night, “Thank you, Lord, so much for the sweet children you have given us. We are so grateful that you always love us and want us to be with you. We are thankful for this meal and all the ways we see your faithfulness in our lives today. Be with us as we spend time together tonight. Help us to know how we might serve you and others through all the days of our lives.”

When they feel you have prepared for them by buying or making something tasty. When the table is a place where everyone can share their feelings and be accepted and tell the details of their day, when no dreams are considered too big to verbalize, these rhythms will begin to touch deep places in their heart that they long to have filled.

To have a place to belong and be cherished every day is a gift that few people feel in their lifetimes.”

What a beautiful perspective on the family table. This is a place to come, sit, talk and love one-another. I know in my husbands and my growing up years we had the example set by our parents of family meals. We are both so grateful for that and pray to continue the legacy of being together.

My prayer would be that we will soon need a bigger table!


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Practice Week and Stone Soup


In preparation for preschool for Madeline and Tot-school for Noah we read the story Stone Soup by Maria Brown (Caldecott honor book). The story is about working together and making the best of any situation, hospitality and sharing (at least that is what we took from it with their ages). Creative play is something I enjoy for the kids, and these kiddos thanks to their daddy LOVE cooking and baking!

Since this is the week before we officially start with homeschooling, I wanted to take some practice runs at the different subjects. On Monday we did reading, Madeline and I are doing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which has been highly recommended to me by many homeschool teachers including my mother in law who used it also on her three kiddos. While I was reading with Madeline, my sweet Noah had his own “Read to self box,” with books at his level which I will rotate. He read peacefully while I worked with Madeline. Along side Noah, his brother Jonah (age 1) had his own “read to self box,” in which he looked through the books (not so silently ;)) calling every animal he saw a “dog dog.” And lastly, my 6 week old Jesse slept! Worked great for the first practice run!

The following day we all went through our math portion of the day. Highlighting the different activities and games we might play during our math time, which built a lot of excitement. Then we ended with some creative block building time.

We ended our practice run with some calendar time. This is a fun time in which all three kiddos (minus Jesse), get to participate together! 🙂 We practiced our verse of the week, talked about the days, months, seasons, and weather. Madeline is the only one with her own calendar but I can quickly see how her brother Noah would like one of his own too! Learning, learning … I am always learning 🙂 and I love it!

This will be an whirlwind of a time but I am trying to approach everything even the hard times with JOY! to quote a few lines from our family foundations:


Courage Over Comfort

And to do EACH act as unto the LORD

Joshua 24:15

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Starting the soup making process
Everyones stone/toy soup
“Toy Soup”


Fall is coming and Soup season is around the corner, I think these kiddos will be super helpful with making some yummy soups this year 🙂

What is your favorite FAMILY friendly soups???? Leave a comment below 🙂



Family Foundation



My husband Darren and I had some wonderful friends come and visit from North Carolina. During our evening together, they spoke of a family in their church who wrote out their family’s constitution. As, we heard more about this I grew fascinated, so of course that night I searched Pinterest to see examples of what this looked like. And in true “Rice” fashion I took a lot of what I saw, added some of my own thoughts and created what we believe works for our family. We call it our Family Foundation, it is what we hope and pray will be the foundation of our home. I have to tell you in all honesty that since my oldest child just turned 4 this family foundation visual has been more of a reminder to myself then to them (SO FAR). It has helped me at the heart of issues respond in a way that would honor God. Don’t get me wrong I fail A LOT, but it the reminder is always needed and helps make more successes then failures.

We have decided through prayer and council to homeschool our children and this fall we get the opportunity to start preschool and what we are calling tot-school for our oldest 2 (ages 4, and 2). Darren and I felt this was very important to outline our vision for our family foundation first because in all we do we want this to be where we land.

What are some of your family foundations?