Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let the Good Times "ROLL" - Six Months

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a brand new, snuggly little baby...but there is something pretty great that happens as a little one approaches the half way mark (half way to a year that is!).  Personalities start to blossom and they begin to interact and respond more to those around them.  At 6 months Harrison has officially hit that "fun" baby stage!  He continues to be the happiest little guy, is eating/sleeping well and seems like he is learning something new every single day!

Sweet Harrison, this month...

-You spent your very first weekend away from Mommy and Daddy

-You made your first trip to the zoo

-You have tried lots of yummy new foods -  Mommy is giving homemade baby food a go and it's going really well.  So far your favorites seem to be peas (what?!) and bananas.  You are such a good eater and have the chunky monkey thighs to prove it!  

-You sat independently for the first time!  You still like to fold in half (lazy bones!) but we keep practicing and you are getting stronger and stronger.  

-You learned to roll from your back to your belly!  I was pretty impressed with one rotation...then on Wednesday Grandma Debbie sent me a picture...there's no stopping you now!  
-You love to hear your self talk!  Sometimes its happy talk, sometimes its get the heck over here and put that bottle in my mouth talk.  Either way, you are definitely figuring out new ways to tell us how you are feeling!

-You love to play with your feet.  

-You graduated to a size 3 diaper...the exact same size that your big sister was wearing when she was double your age!

Pictures this month were probably the most entertaining to date.  There were a lot of near miss tumbles as he kept leaning forward in his chair, an insane amount of drool, and most importantly, big ol' smiles that melt this mama's heart day after day!

Happy half-way birthday baby boy.  Our first 6 months with you have been so much fun!  Your daddy and I love you very much and we're so excited to see what the second half of your first year has in store!  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

This post pains me.

It should be a one full of me bragging/smack-talking about my utter domination of our family's fantasy football league, but instead I'm having to swallow my pride and admit defeat.  After going undefeated for the entire inaugural season (with the exception of one tie early in the season), I fell in the semi-final round to an even bigger smack-talking nine year old.  

Congratulations, Jack Attack 2000!

The Commissioner (aka "Stinky Things") presenting the Golden Stag to Jack Attack 2000.
2012 Musil Fantasy Football League Champion...Jack Attack 2000!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ho Ho Ho! Harry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!  May you create new memories, honor old traditions, and most importantly, remember the true meaning of the season.
Love Matt, Kristen, Harrison and our sweet little angel, Charlotte

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hearts on a String

I have a tendency to be a little "wordy"...but today I'm just going to cut to the chase.

I've been struggling.
I'm sleeping poorly.
I'm having bad dreams.
Tears are coming more frequently.

I'm trying my best to count my blessings...but this time of year everything just seems to get a little bit harder.  I find myself torn between emotions--overjoyed at the thought of celebrating our first Christmas with Harrison, yet full of heartache as we face a second without his big sister.   Memories of Charlotte and her first (and only) Christmas surround us as we prepare our home for the holidays--her ornaments on the tree, her stocking on the mantle, our Charley Bear angel perched atop our tree watching over us.  I know that she is with us, but that doesn't change the fact that I will always and forever want more.

Saturday night, with Matt in Chicago and Harrison sleeping soundly, I found myself in one of those "I need to be busy or might drive myself crazy" kind of moods.  My crafty side took over and before I knew it, I was neck deep in a project that kept me up WAY past my old lady bedtime.

I started out with no clear direction...
...and ended up with something beautifully simple for our baby girl. 
The next morning I went to the cemetery to take my creation to Charlotte.  It was a cold, gloomy day...actually pretty fitting for my mood.  As I sat shivering on the cold grass I allowed myself to do something that I hadn't in quite some time.  I broke.  My silent tears transformed into audible sobs, I sat on my hands to keep them from shaking, my stomach churned...I felt heartbroken and angry.  I wanted to be in our warm cozy home, stringing that precious garland on our tree with my 2.5 year old in tow...not fumbling with frozen fingers to decorate her grave site.  It's just not right.

I want to hate this picture...but there is a part of me that sees the beauty in knowing that Charlotte will always and forever be a part of me...that every moment spent with her made me a better person. I know that she hates that I hurt.  I know she aches when I cry.  I know that she feels the brokenness of my heart.  But there are other things she knows, too.  She knows our love for her.  She knows that our pain is only temporary.  She knows that soon enough we will all be together.  She knows that our eternity will be full of joy.  Until then we will continue to celebrate her...even if a part of that means making painful trips to a cemetery that no parent should have to make.  

I hope that you like your pretty hearts, Charley Bear.  
Mama loves you so very, very, very much. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

From the Ground Up

1. The act of founding, especially the establishment of an institution with provisions for future maintenance.
2. The basis on which a thing stands, is founded, or is supported.

Can you totally picture it!?!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hope in the Darkness

For the past few months I've been slightly obsessed with the newest Mumford and Sons album "Babel."  I loved the first that will forever and ever remind me of our kitchen dance parties with Charlotte, and this second album is just as good--if not better.  

There is one song in particular on this album that always strikes an emotional chord with me.  I've listened to it a hundred times (sometimes multiple times in a row)...and I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I have made it from start to finish with dry eyes. It speaks so much to the road that Matt and I have been walking these past few years.  A road that hasn't been easy.  A road that has pushed us to our limits.  The lyrics really say it all...

"Ghosts That We Knew"

You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart

But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view and
We'll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
'Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we'll be alright

So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace
'Cause you know my call
And we'll share my all
And our children come and they will hear me roar

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
'Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we'll be alright

But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals
But hold me still, bury my heart next to yours 

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
'Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold on with all of my might
Just promise me we'll be alright

But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we'll live a long life
And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we'll live a long life

The past 19 months have been harder, more excruciatingly painful, than anything I could ever describe. We've been in dark places; felt totally crushed and defeated. We've had days where we've just wanted to give up.  But while we stand here today with inevitable bumps and bruises, we have not been broken.  We continue to seek out HOPE in the darkness.

Hope that, while sometimes hard to see, there is a plan for our family.
Hope that we WILL some day hold our perfect little girl again.
Hope that came to us in the form of a little baby boy.
Hope that no matter how much it hurts...we WILL be alright.

I will hold on with all of my might.
Just promise me we'll be alright.

Just promise me we'll be alright.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Start of Home Sweet Home

Matt and I got word a few weeks back that all of the building permits needed to begin construction on our new home had officially been issued and that they were FINALLY going to be able to start working!  I feel like we have been waiting for this for so long.  We've owned the land for over a year...but lots of pieces had to fall into place before we could start this whole process.  And as long as the waiting has felt, I know that from here on out time is going to fly. 

Last week they were able to excavate the portion of the lot that the house will sit on.  There actually used to be another house there, so "excavating" included clearing out 10 foot tall weeds that had taken over and re-shaping the existing hole to fit our plans.  I've been wanting to stop out and snap a few pictures, but I don't have time to go in the morning and it's already dark by the time I can get there after work. I worked a few hours on Sunday afternoon and decided that while I was in Omaha I would brave the COLD and head out to the "farm" to check on the progress...

Looks just like home, right?!

I'll never get sick of our view.  It's so wide open and...well...perfect.

Lots more pictures and updates to come!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

FIVE months {10 days}

Wow.  I've never been this late on a month-a-versary post before!  I had really good intentions of getting this up a lot sooner (like 10 days ago sooner), but ran into a few blog issues that prevented me from posting any pictures.  What fun is a monthly post without pictures??!  Now that things seem to be up and running, here is my post from 11/26!

Holy moly....has it been 5 months already!?  It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was lecturing "Franklin" about "staying put" in my belly until after our big move, and here we are five months later.  Harrison's personality is shining through and he is proving, much like his sister, to be a VERY happy baby. 

So what has Mr. Man been up to lately?  Well, it seems that the theme of Month #5 has been new experiences, adventures and discoveries.

-You discovered your love for swimming (aka laying on the floor of the bathtub and flailing your arms and legs around like a mad man!)  Bath time has long been a favorite part of our nightly routine, but "swimming" has taken it to a whole new level.  Watch out Michael Phelps! 

-Our biggest adventure of the month was starting daycare.  After 4 1/2 months at home, mommy headed back to work and you headed out to meet some new friends.  You spend your days at an in-home daycare close to Grandma Debbie's house (and close to our future home).  Things are going great so far and I'm constantly told what a HAPPY baby we have.  Good job, buddy! 

-In my 3 month post I bragged about how well you was sleeping...the very next day you put me in my place and started waking up a few times a night.  That lasted for a month or so, but I'm happy to say that I think we're back on track.  You go to bed around 7:30 and we don't hear a peep from you until morning (ok, thats a lie...I DO hear happy chatter coming from your nursery around 4 AM, but you always talk yourself back to sleep!)  

-You have discovered an insane love for your hands.  If I were to post all of the pictures that I took this month, you would see that about 95% of them show you with your little fingers/whole fist jammed in your mouth.  Combine that with lots of drool and you've got a big wet mess!  

-You can ALMOST roll from your back to your belly.  If only that pesky arm didn't get in the way! 

-This month we officially started to experiment with solid food.  You weren't a big fan of cereal, but orange veggies seem to be a hit (especially his Aunt Kristen's sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving!)  Much to my dismay (and courtesy of his Uncle Jay) you even snuck a bite of vanilla ice cream.  Soooo cold, but soooooo sweet!

-You officially have thinning old man hair!  Daddy says that your head kept on growing, but your hair stayed the same.  HA!  We can see lots of new hair starting to come in, but for the time being you're rockin' some wisps.

Every day holds something new and exciting, baby boy!  You are growing and changing so fast, and while we love watching you figure this crazy world out, I wish that you would stay little just a tiny bit longer!  

Mr. Model Man {3 months}

I have wanted to share some of the images from Harrison's 3 month photos for quite some time now, but didn't want to spoil our Christmas cards by posting them here first.  Now that the cards have been printed, I thought that I would share some of the pictures that didn't make the card.  It was such a hard decision to make...I think you'll understand why.

I wanted to get some very simple shots on a black background like we did with Charlotte.  I'm still trying to decide which one will eventually find a home in a big frame next to hers.  

 I love me some big, open-mouth smiles!
Mr. Serious
Obviously not Harrison, but I had to share for comparison sake.  
Holy cow do they look alike!
This kiddo...he melts me.
At his finest...crazy hair, tongue peeking out, leaning to his right.  That's my boy!

A HUGE thanks to Amanda Fish (Omaha, NE) for capturing these images for us.  She was so good to work with and Harrison can't wait to go back and play with her again.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Whole New View

Monday, December 3, 2012, our little Harrison decided that it was time to take the next step toward becoming a "big boy" and sat up all by himself for the first time.  It required LOTS of concentration (which isn't easy when 2 puppies are walking by), came with LOTS of drooling and only lasted a few minutes, but he did it!  YAY, Harrison!  

Look at you, big boy!
Eyes glued to his puppy
Concentrating too hard to smile for Daddy
Enough is enough!
Seriously cute is this kiddo!?

Mommy and Daddy are pretty excited for you, baby boy!  Now please slow down a little, you're growing up WAY too quickly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thankful 2012 {I'm a Slacker}

Since I started back at work I have to admit that I've been feeling a little overwhelmed.  I'm only working an average of about 30 hours per week, but by the time you factor in my hour and a half commute each way days become pretty long.  We are usually on the road by 7:00 AM so that I can drop Harrison off at daycare and be at work by 8:30.  We get home at night by around 6:30, just in time for dinner, a little playtime and a bath before bed.  When it's all said and done, I'm ready to plop myself down on the couch and be a bum!  I don't want to pick up the house, I don't want to work on my ever-growing to-do list...

It's new.  It's a little crazy.  But it's good.  I'm sure that we will have a routine figured out soon and I'll feel a little more in control when it comes to our home life.  Until then, I'm sorry if I'm somewhat of a stranger (in real life and blog world!)

Item #1 that I have totally slacked off on?  My daily "Thankful" pictures.  First I was a day behind...then 2...then I would double up to try to get back on pace, only to fall behind again!  That's when I decided to throw in the towel.  I've still been taking some pictures though (just not daily), and thought that I would share!

Never in a million years did I think that I would say that I was thankful for Nate Dogg and Warren G... but when I was pregnant with Harrison and this song would come on it would be major dance party time. Straight up thug, right from conception :)  I'm thankful for those memories.
 Thankful that crazy Aunt Angie got to stop by for a play date on her way through town
 Thankful for the little things that can melt my the way H likes to cover his eyes when he eats!
 Thankful for the end of a work day...time to pick up my buddy!
 Thankful for coffee and Hostess Ding Dongs for breakfast.  This was my FRIST and probably LAST Ding Dong ever.
 In case you hadn't guessed by my other thankful posts....I'm super thankful for this guy.
 Thankful for the giggles and screeches that he makes when he's stripped down to his diaper.  Such a little nudist!
 Thankful for my BFF Jessy.  Not only does she surprise me at work, but she comes bearing gifts!  Only this girl can make me want to laugh and cry (good cries) all at the same time.
 I can't really complain about a morning commute when I have scenery like this.  Thankful.

So there you have it...a mish-mash of thankfuls for this last part of November.  I may not have succeeded at my goal of a daily snapshot, but that doesn't make me any less appreciative.  The truth is, I'm thankful for every day, and every opportunity, and all of the blessings that I have been given...and there's really no way to take a picture of that.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Season of Thanks

This Thanksgiving the Ritchie family made a very special appearance in the Omaha World Herald.  I was contacted a few months back by one of their writers and asked if we would be interested in sharing Charlotte's story with her, as well as some information about Charley's Heart.  I'm a pretty proud mama and will never pass up a good opportunity to talk about my little girlie!  The day that we met I talked...and talked...and talked....going on and on about Miss Charlotte for a good hour and a half.  There was laughter.  There were tears.  And what came out of it was something truly amazing.  

We knew that the article was going to run sometime around Thanksgiving, but no one in my family was quite prepared for what we saw when it came to print.  Thanksgiving day.  Front page.  My babies.  Holy cow.      

Here is the link to the online version of the article

Along with our story there was a supplement article that discussed pulse oximetry screening in newborns and provided an update on where legislation is at in both Nebraska and Iowa.  I was so happy that they included this.  

Matt and I are so incredibly thankful to Julie Anderson and the Omaha World Herald for inviting us to share our story.  It was such a beautiful reminder to us, on Thanksgiving of all days, of just how blessed we are.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful 2012 {Week 2}

I'm not quite sure how we arrived at the middle of November already, but sure enough, here we are!  Thanksgiving is only a week away and while my mind is already thinking of all of the yummy food I'm planning on daily photos are helping me to stay focused on the things that are really important.  Here's to another week of thankfuls!

Day 8:  Thankful for the little things that most take for PINK toes!
Day 9:  Thankful that we can cross 2 more shots off the list.  
And there were no tears from EITHER of us!
 Day 10:  Thankful for Harrison's view from our rocking chair.  
 Day 11:  Thankful for first friends.
 Day 12:  Thankful for the laughter that he brings to our lives.
Day 13:  Thankful for sleepy outings, fleecy pjs, coffee for mama and a new Charley Bear ornament for our Christmas tree.  It's a good day.
 Day 14:  Thankful that her cousins know and remember.