Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday's Fabulous Five

In an attempt to fill in the blanks of the past two years while simultaneously keeping up with current events, I give you today's Fabulous Five- something old and something new:

1. As part of our language arts curriculum we have been reading the book, "The Lemonade War," by Jacqueline Davies. In the book, a boy and his sister compete to see who can make the most money selling lemonade. In addition to being a fun and entertaining read, the book addresses sibling/friend relationships, how to use math to solve real-life problems and it even introduces kids to basic marketing and economic principles.

For weeks, the kids have been asking to set up their own lemonade, baked goods and produce stand. On Tuesday I decided to let them put their newly-acquired knowledge to use. The kids harvested zucchini, cucumber and tomatoes from their gardens, gathered eggs from our chickens, mixed lemonade and made brownies. We live on a quiet, country road and don't see much traffic. Recognizing that the location of their produce/lemonade stand would be important for business, the kids asked if we could set up shop in my mom's neighborhood. So we loaded up our goods and drove to Nana's house where we found a nice location with good traffic.

The kids were excellent sales people and made over $100 in sales and donations that they divided between our adoption fund and the Feed Ohio campaign. Knowledge applied!

2. What is better on a hot, summer day than a nice, refreshing CAR WASH! The Mommy Mobile has seen a lot of action this summer and, this week, it was time for a bath. While we all enjoy taking the "bus" through the car wash, pulling out the hose and buckets of soapy water is the stuff of memories.

  Benjamin and Thomas enjoyed washing themselves more than they enjoyed washing the van

 Good helpers come in small packages

Fun for all ages

Lily working hard to keep our "Star Wars Family" clean

 "Someone" dumped my bucket!"

All clean!

3. We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we believe in and practice baptisms for the dead which are performed in holy temples. From the age of 12, baptized members of the church have the opportunity to attend the temple and stand as proxy for those who have passed away without having the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and be baptized (you can read more about that here). On Wednesday evening, Alayna (who turned 12 in April) was able to go on her first youth temple trip and perform baptisms for many of our extended family members who have passed away. Richard and I were able to join her and it was a very special experience for all of us.

4. Shortly before Benjamin and Thomas came home two years ago, we began looking for a new home. Due to our numbers and the special needs of many of our children, the qualifications for our new home were very specific. We looked for months and just when we began to think that we were never going to find a home that fit the bill (and the budget) the heavens opened and we were led right to our utopia (and we practically stole it the asking price was so low).

With over 4,000 square feet of (mostly) accessible living space, there is room for everyone to move and grow. 3 acres of land (surrounded by countless acres of farmland) allows us to spread our wings and to enjoy God's creations. Our small pond provides hours of family fun and learning as we fish together and study its ecosystem and, in the summer, our pool provides a fun and safe place for us to swim and is excellent therapy for many of our kids. Not only has this home blessed our family, but it has allowed us to bless others as we have hosted wedding receptions, fundraisers and many family, church and youth events.

Papaw and Big Dog enjoying a quiet afternoon of fishing 

Our Annual Memorial Day camp out with extended family

Keeping cool in the pool 

 This home has also allowed us to expand the "Rieben Zoo" to the "Rieben Farm" as we have added chickens, turkeys, rabbits, sheep and donkeys to the mix. The animals have been an asset, not only because they provide us with an excellent (and "clean") food source, but because they have helped us to teach our children the value of hard work and responsibility and have been very therapeutic for many of our children who struggle with emotional/developmental delays and attachment disorders.  

 Evan talking turkey

 Rachel and Rosie (my Mother's Day gift from Richard)


 Maren and her palace of bunnies. She is looking forward to doing 4H next year.

We have been in this home for two years now and I still wake up every morning and look out my bedroom window and am filled with humility and gratitude for such an immense blessing.

5. This guy.

My unconventional farmer

In just a few months, Richard and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary. I can tell you with certainty that, 12 years ago, neither of us could have imagined that we would be the parents of 13 children and innumerable farm animals, but here we are and I wouldn't change a thing. I am often the one that receives the praise and admiration for such accomplishments, but I can assure you that I could do nothing without the hard work that this incredible man does behind the scenes.

In addition to single-handedly supporting our large, ever-growing family, Richard has spent the last four years working tirelessly to obtain his Associates, Bachelors and Masters degrees. Although he completed his Masters in March, he will officially be recognized for his accomplishments in September when he walks for both his Bachelors and Masters degrees. The kids and I are looking forward to making some noise as he walks across that stage.

Richard receiving his Associates degree in 2012

He has built our small farm from the ground up, he serves faithfully as the Cubmaster for our church Cub Scout Pack, he is quick to serve others whenever they are in need and somehow, amidst all of those things, he is still able to be the most involved and loving husband and father that I have ever known. In short, he is a gift and I love him fiercely!


Hevel said...

How great fro Alayna! I have fond memories of youth Temple trips to Preston, England and London, England!

Every Star Is Different said...

I love that you're updating your blog! I'm enjoying the read way too much. ;)