Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brooks {1 Month}

Last week held some pretty lofty significance in the short life of Mr. Brooks Ritchie. On Monday October 10th, we celebrated 1 month since he made his surprise arrival into this world. In that time he spent 2 weeks in the NICU learning how to do "big kid" things like eating from a bottle, and another 2 weeks at home showing his mom and dad (and brothers) who's boss! At the time, those early NICU days felt like they stretched on forever, but now here we are questioning how he can be a month old already - especially given the fact that Tuesday, October 11th, was his original DUE DATE! 
Sweet baby Brooks, life with you has already been an adventure. You threw us back into NICU life (though on a much less critical level than we experienced with your sister) and reminded us that we should never the "normal" new baby experience for granted - or a good eater for that matter! It was so hard to leave you behind at the hospital each night - but we knew that it was very short-term and that you were in great hands. And we're eternally grateful for the arms that were there to snuggle with you when ours were busy at home with your brothers.
I can't even begin to describe how it felt to finally walk into our home with you in my arms - though my own excitement was greatly eclipsed by that of your brothers. They were absolutely giddy! That day also brought with it a sudden change in your eating habits. The feeding frustrations that consumed me for the previous 2 weeks became a distant memory and you became very vocal of your need for immediate food! Patience is not your strong point, sir, and you go from sound asleep one minute to a shrill scream the next when you're hungry. Amen for hungry little boys.

You are certainly the center of attention in our home these days. Max smothers you with kisses at every opportunity, and Harrison tells me daily that he loves you with his "whole heart." My own heart swells just thinking about it. I can't wait to watch you find your way in this crazy Ritchie brotherhood. It is certainly something special beyond my comprehension.
Sweet Baby "Bwooks" - our home feels more complete with you in it. I'm trying my best to soak in every moment - each snuggle, each coo, each sleepy sigh - as I know that this phase of life goes so quickly. I hope that you know how loved you are.
Happy 1 month (and 1 week) my love.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

He's Here! {Brooks Edmund Ritchie}

Just after midnight on September 10th, our newest little love decided that it was time to make his appearance in this great big world of ours. Leave it to a Ritchie babe to show us who's boss right from the start!

Brooks Edmund Ritchie
6 pounds 3 ounces, 17 1/2 inches
Because he was born at only 35 weeks, Brooks earned himself a mandatory trip to the NICU. We've spent the last 10 days here working on taking a bottle and growing stronger. While it breaks my heart to leave him at the hospital each night, I know that 1) he has some pretty amazing nurses taking care of him and 2) there are 2 little boys at home who need some sense of "normal" in their lives as well. We pray that Brooks will be strong enough to come home soon and are so excited for the chaos that lies ahead. 

Welcome to our crazy, Mr. Brooks. We love you with all our hearts.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Oh, Baby! {Sweet Baby Ritchie #4}

I, Kristen Ritchie, am the youngest of 5 children. And while being the "baby" of the family came with its fair share of perks, I can also say that there were situations where I've always felt like I drew the proverbial short straw. One such instance is fairly obvious when flipping through the pages of my baby book. The book starts out strong containing everything from a list of my first visitors and photos of my baptism to a little envelope containing locks of wispy baby hair from my first haircut. Continue through the book, however, and you'll start to see more and more blank spaces. 

Fast forward 34 years and 3 kiddos later, and I kind-of-sort-of feel like I owe my mom a bit of an apology (sorry, mom) for giving her a hard time about my swiss cheese baby book. While my own kiddos don't have traditional baby books, I've always used this space to document the happenings in our lives. With previous pregnancies I've been really good about sharing monthly updates - either with words or simple photos of my growing baby bump. This time around, however, I seem to have dropped the ball. Eighteen weeks ago I posted a photo of myself with my hand gently resting on my 16 week pregnant belly.  Since then....well...its been all crickets on the baby front.

Sweet #4 - I promise that your absence does not mean that I love you any less than your big sister or brothers. I promise that I will do my best to be better at documenting YOU. I promise that some day you'll be able to look back at the pages of Little Miss Ritchie and see just as much of your story as those of Charlotte, Harrison, and Maxo. And it all begins right now!

At 8 weeks I got to see you for the very first time. You would think after experiencing this moment 3 other times, it might become less "exciting," but that simply wasn't the case. Seeing your little gummy bear body and the rapid flutter of your heart was enough to bring this mama to tears.
At 16 weeks we officially shared you with the world. At about that same time, your dad and I got a super early sneak peek at that little heart of yours thanks to a fetal echo study being conducted through Children's Hospital. After months of wondering "what if," we sat in a darkened room and watched (through tear-filled eyes) as the study coordinator checked all of the major heart structures off of her list. Four perfect chambers. Outflow track. Arteries. Arches. Valves. They are all there and they are all perfect. 
"Mama, will you take a picture of me with the baby?"
 17 weeks
At 20 weeks we got another look at your during our routine anatomy scan. Once again they were able to check all of the "healthy baby" items off of their list, and we left with an even stronger sense of relief. 
 22 weeks
 24 weeks
 28 weeks
They've been keeping super close eye on your mama this time around due to some complications that we've run into from 3 previous c-sections. We started monthly ultrasounds at 20 weeks, then transitioned to every 2 week and then weekly scans.  While I wish that there were no "issues" to begin with, I'll never complain about an opportunity to see your sweet face. The minute I saw this picture I blurted out "holy cow, it looks just like Max!" I can't wait to kiss those squishy little cheeks! 
  32 weeks and feeling good.
And now here we are - marking just over 34 weeks together and starting the official countdown to your arrival. The big day is going to be sooner than expected and to say that your mama is a little....well....frantic, is a pretty accurate statement. For now I'm doing my best to slow down (something that's not always easy with your 2 yahoo brothers running around) and hoping you stay put until your planned arrival.

 Its just a matter of time, sweet love. Just a matter of time.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Max is TWO....errrr....and a Half.

As I sat down to piece together a post about Mr. Harrison as a 4 year old – I had an “oh crap” realization that I never did the same for our little Maxo when he turned 2 back in January.  I could come up with a million excuses for dropping the ball on this one, but the fact of the matter is that it just didn’t happen. Lucky for me, Maxo just celebrated his HALF birthday and a 2 ½ year old update is just as good, right?? Right.

Oh, Mr. Max, you are so many things all bundled into one – sweet, sassy, defiant, determined, smart, silly, and a total love bug to name a few.  Much like your big brother, you challenge us every single day (in both good and bad ways) but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your dad and I always used to joke that when it came to you and your brother, Harry would be the brains and you would be the brawn. You’ve always been a “big” kid and at 2 ½ you’re fast approaching the size of your brother. The two of you have recently started having little wrestling matches and you can definitely hold your own. Having said that, in the past 6-9 months we have sat back and watched that little brain of yours flourish. You speak in complete sentences, say words that I would never expect from a kiddo your age, recognize all of your letters and numbers up to 20, and know all sorts of random tidbits about bugs, plants, superheroes, you name it.

You are a goofball with a capital "G" - and while I love you for it, it also drives me bananas. When you get that ornery twinkle in your eye, we know we're in for a treat. You're constantly looking for a laugh and will do whatever it takes to get one! And for the record, "whatever it takes" usually has something to do with your booty.

"Big Boy" is the name of your game these days. Big boy potty. Big boy undies. Big boy bed. We're so proud of you, but at the same time my heart breaks a little every time that you leave something "baby" behind. Thankfully you still give us a few glimpses of baby Max - like the way you suck your fingers when you're tired and never stray too far from your nigh-nigh.
As much as you love your daddy, you are most definitely a mama's boy. When you're sad or hurt, "I want my mommy" are the first words out of your mouth and one of my kisses can fix most anything. Life is about to get very interesting for you as we rapidly approach the arrival of our newest Ritchie babe, and I'm sure that there will be some moments of jealousy as you learn to share your mama. Just always remember that "I love you 100" - because "that's the biggest number, right mama?"
You absolutely idolize that big brother of yours and want to do everything just like him. I love hearing your little voice asking "Where's Hawwy?" or "You want to play with me, Hawwy?" or even seeking his approval with a "Right, Hawwy??" Luckily big brother thinks pretty highly of you as well - and I know that the two of you will be best buddies for life! Our home is always filled with loud little boy noises and giggles courtesy of you two  yahoos!
I already mentioned it at the beginning of this post, but your endless determination is worth bringing up again. Whereas your big brother is often hesitant to try new things and gets frustrated when he's not immediately an "expert", you are always willing to try, to fail, and to keep on trying. At 2.5 you want to be able to do everything that your 4 year old brother can do, and won't stop until you figure you how. 
A few odds and ends - You love reading books (usually the same ones over and over...and over) and usually throw a fit if we skip them at bedtime. Every night when I ask you what you want to dream about, you tell me Jesus and your sister Charlotte. Melt.My.Heart. You also say some of the funniest things, most of which you've picked up and adapted from things your dad and I say - A prolonged "Whaaaaat?!"  A thoughtful "Wait a minute!" with your finger placed deliberately on your chin. Or a goofy "Ok, what's the plan?" because apparently your mama says "Here's the plan?" more often than I realized! You call camels "canimals" and Nemo "Memo." You're a daredevil at the park yet always insist that someone catch you the first few times down the slide.

So there you have it, Sweet Maxo - a quick rundown of your life at 2.5 years old. You fill our days with so much love and laughter. I can't wait to see what the rest of 2 has in store!


Monday, August 1, 2016

A Big Boy Bed for Maxo

Summer 2016 has been the summer of Maxo the Big Boy. I never want to force him to grow up, but with another little babe on the way there were two items that we knew we needed to check off of our to do list sooner than later.  

First up was potty training. Matt and I both assumed that this was going to be disastrous, but our Maxo proved us wrong and mastered the concept of the "big boy potty" in one short weekend. We've even put away our night time pull-ups!

With potty training behind us, we set our sights on FINALLY getting Max into his new bedroom and big boy bed. He was excited about the move from first mention, but unfortunately had to wait while we played a game of musical rooms. Everyone shifted one room to the right, Harry to "Aggie's room" and then Max to Harry's room, all with the ultimate goal of making room for baby! It felt like a slow process, but after an unexpected kiddo-free day off last week, I'm thrilled to say that Max's new room was ready for the move. Don't get my wrong, it is still very much a work in progress, but there's a bed for sleeping and a nigh-nigh for snuggling - beyond those things not a whole lot matters to our super sleeper.

So far we're 1 nap and 2 nights in and you'd think that he'd been doing this big boy bed thing forever. Seriously - this kid is a total rockstar! Maybe a little bit TOO much of a rockstar. Tonight I tried to snuggle with him and he actually told me "Mama, I need more room. You go to Harry's room now." Sigh. Apparently he's adjusting to this whole big boy thing a little better than his mama is. 

 "Tonight I will dream about Jesus and Charlotte. Is Jesus my brother? Where is he?"

Only the sweetest dreams for you, sweet Maxo. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

And He's Four...

Our family closed out the month of June with a very special celebration. For weeks (possibly months) Harrison had been asking us...

"Is it my birthday yet?" 
"Am I 4 yet?" 
"Is today my birthday party?"

On June 26th we could FINALLY answer "YES!" to his questions (2 out of 3 anyway) and the grin that we got in return was overflowing with giddy excitement. And then - in typical Harrison form - the questions started again!

"Does that mean I'm big?" 
"Will I stop growing now?" 
"Will the new baby come today?" 

There's never a dull moment with you, Harrison Paul, but we love every minute of the craziness. Here's a quick snapshot of YOU as you kick-off FOUR!
 You, my dear, are a total goofball...and I'm not sure who you make laugh the most...your dad, brother and me, or YOURSELF! Days with you are filled with silly dances, wearing shorts on your head and "shants" (translation: a shirt worn as pants) on your legs, made up words, fart sounds and devious little grins that let us know you're already thinking of the next way to make us laugh. Like I said before - NEVER a dull moment.

 You’re smart as a whip, Harrison Paul - sometimes too smart for your own good!  You have a vocabulary well beyond your years and a memory that often catches us off guard. You can write your name, your brother’s name, and the rest of the alphabet as well. 

 You love your little brother something fierce - and while brotherly spats are commonplace in our home - you’re always the first to come to his defense if you detect a threat. You’ve declared him your “best friend in the whole wide world” and there’s nothing that makes us happier than watching the bond between you grow. 

Everyday it becomes more clear that you’re not our “little” Harrison anymore. You talk like a big boy, act like a big boy, and even give me occasional looks (teenager style) like a big boy. Its hard for my mama heart to let go of the idea that you're my "baby," but at the same time I am so proud of the big boy you are becoming. 

When you started taking swimming lessons last fall we had a lot of conversations about “waking up your brave.” You are timid by nature - an over-thinker and hesitant about all of the what-ifs that come with the unknown. While your dad and I often want to push you out of your comfort zone, we’ve learned that its best to let you ease into things at your own pace. This summer you’ve really embraced the concept of waking up your brave and its been so fun to watch you flourish. You love the water, are a speedster on your new bike and can climb to/jump from the highest parts of the playground - all things that have challenged you in the past.

A few odds and ends: You call jaguars "jack-whackers" and little girls "grills." We're working hard on our manners, and you've learned to be extremely polite when you want something! You love a good after dinner dance party and can't do the sprinkler without letting out a hearty belly laugh. You're amazing at enforcing rules, but not always the greatest at following them. You've moved into "Aggie's room" in preparation for the baby's arrival. The room is FAR from finished, but you always tell us how much you love it. You have a variety of "sleeping friends," but the most important members of your crew are Charley Bear, puppy and your seahorse. You always request "one more huggie and kissie" before I leave daycare in the morning. I'm secretly hoping that never stops.

 Here's to you, Harrison Paul. I hope that FOUR is filled with endless adventures, silliness, and continued growth of your amazing self!