Well, the big MOVING day is finally upon us! Tomorrow morning is the last morning that Matt and I will wake up in rental house #1...I'm not quite as emotional about moving this time around. Yes, there are lots of people/things that I will miss about Sioux Falls, but packing things up this time around means that we are just one step closer to "settled."
We've got some friends and family helping us with the move tomorrow. Thank God for them because this pregnant lady is feeling pretty worthless when it comes to the whole move - Plus Matt has been pretty adamant (rightfully so) that I don't lift a single box. Baby boy has cooperated thus far, the last thing we need is for me to over do it and end up having a baby on moving day. (I just knocked on wood and would appreciate if all of you did as well!)
I'm getting ready to shut the computer down, but just wanted to put out one last prayer request before I do. We are about to embark on a whole lot of craziness and any extra prayers for our strength, sanity, safety...you name it, are welcome
So far I have shared updates on the book donations made by our heart friends (Duke, U of M and MUSC), but I thought that today I would take a few minutes and share the latest on a donation a little closer to home...SIOUX FALLS! Last year we took a portion of the books collected through Books for Charley to the Avera Pediatric Specialty Clinic. This is the clinic where Charlotte had her visits with Dr. Sami (cardiology), Dr. Will (pulmonology) and Dr. Nanton (GI). I can't say enough about the people that work in this office. Each and every one of them will FOREVER have a special place in our hearts. I could go on about them for a whole post, but I should probably get back to the point! The books that we donated to the clinic last year were used to stock a little “library” in the waiting room of the clinic to help keep kiddos occupied while they wait to see their doctors. Remember the cute little "Charley" book shelf that the clinic purchased?? (melt my heart!) Anyway, since they aren’t routinely handing the books out for patients to take home, they still have a pretty good supply (after all, we gave them more than 200 books!). When I contacted the clinic manager about this year’s donation, he suggested that I check with the inpatient pediatric unit and try to spread the love around a bit to children who are admitted to the hospital. Well, it turns out that the pediatric unit has something that they call their “treasure room” where kiddos can pick out special “treasures” to take home with them when they leave the hospital. They were very excited about adding books to their collection and we were excited to be able to help! Lucky for us, Charlotte didn’t have to spend much time admitted to the hospital here in Sioux Falls. There was the infamous croup/banana allergy overnight stay and then a 5 day admission for RSV last winter…but that was really it. Well…almost it.
The peds unit was the last place that we held our little Charlotte in our arms.
I have made no attempt to hide my anxiety related to stepping foot into the hospital since that day and I have no intentions on doing during our last few days in Sioux Falls unless Mr. Mister decides that he wants to come and play early. It's just too hard. There are too many memories - too many "triggers" that I fear could push me over the edge. Having said that, it will come as no surprise that I needed to make some special “accommodations” for our book drop off. Thankfully the Child Life Specialist for the unit was very understanding of my distress and agreed to meet me on neutral ground. Thank you SO much Twila for being so helpful and understanding!
Last Friday morning Matt helped me load boxes into my car, the valet at work helped me move said boxes to a cart, and the cart helped me get the books to our drop-off site -just thought I should reassure all of you that I wasn't lifting or carrying any heavy boxes!
Here is the trusty cart that helped me move all of those books.
1, 2, 3 boxes filled to capacity!
Check out that adorable butterfly box! Our pharmacy department secretary put it together for a collection that they did at work...and get this...she had no idea that butterflies were so meaningful to us. She just thought the paper was cute! Crazy how things like that work out.
Any guesses on how many books I managed to squeeze into those boxes??
THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY!
I'm pretty sure that any expectations they may have had about the number of books we would be donating were blown out of the water! In fact, I have a friend who works in peds and she told me that they had to do a little "spring cleaning" in the treasure room to make space for all of Charley's Hearts books. I wish that I could go check it out...but I'm just not there yet. It's hard to explain the emotions that come along with making these book deliveries. As much as I love seeing the results of our heart friend's donations...there is just something special about personally making the delivery and giving back to a place that took such good care of our little girl. I feel proud that Matt and I (with A LOT of help from all of you) can do something so simple to help carry on the legacy of Little Miss. We don't know WHO these books will end up going home with, or WHAT their individual medical situation will be, but just knowing that we've contributed to brightening a sick child's day warms my heart. A huge thank you again for all of you that contributed to Charley's Heart and our collection.
***Side note before I get to the real point...I typed a title for this post and it took me a minute to realize that instead of "Books for Charley" I had typed "Cooks for Barley." If that doesn't say something about how mushy my brain is these days, I don't know what will!***
As we approached the end of May and the end of another VERY successful Books for Charley collection, I put myself to work sending stickers out to the 3 heart families that helped us “grow” our little project. Each of them sent me messages with an estimate of how many they would need and I carefully packed them into envelopes with a few books for each to include with their individual donations. A few days later I got a message from our South Carolina family (Mason) letting me know that their package had arrived. Included with the message was an apology. You see, books had continued to roll in and they were short of stickers!
I had to smile and immediately responded back that NO apologies were needed and that we would never complain about an extra trip to the post office if it was for something as awesome as MORE books! It blows me away and it warms my heart to witness the enthusiasm that people have shown for this year’s collection. We’re definitely feeling the love here in the Midwest, and I know that Mason and his family feel it on the east coast as well.
So you’re probably wondering how many stickers I ended up sending their direction….
Mason’s mama recently posted an update after one of his GI appointments that included some Books for Charley numbers (as well as an adorable picture of him with his mama and brother). You can click HERE to read all of the details of Mason’s progress, but I thought that I would share the Books portion with you here…
“I am officially closing out Books For Charley and am soooo happy to report that we far exceeded my goal of 100 books. I need to do a re-count but I think we've exceeded 150 books!!! I've put a "Charley's Heart" sticker on every book and I can't wait to get them to the PCICU at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina). I know God has a path laid out for each book. There are going to be 150 (or more) families that will be exposed to Charlotte's Story and little lives in the PCICU made a little easier from all the fun books that have so generously been donated.” 150 more books!?! HOLY COW! As these updates continued to roll in I found myself staring at my computer screen in disbelief. I love that we are able to witness not only the amazing support of our little girl, but also the LOVE that surrounds each of these families while they navigate their own heart journeys. Thank you so much Caron family for…well…being so incredible! I know that life with those 2 little boys of yours can be chaotic, and the fact that you took time out of your lives to help us with this is very much appreciated. Thanks also to those of you who donated to the MUSC donation! I hope that you all realize that amount of joy that each of these books will bring to sick kiddos and their families!
For those of you keeping track....
122 books + 300 books + 150 books = 572 books
That’s almost HALF of the TOTAL number of books that we collected last year!
Thank you so much to the very special heart families that helped make these 572 books possible. I know that Charlotte is constantly watching over her little heart friends and I’m pretty sure that she’s got one of those classic Charlotte grins on her face as a result of the love that you have shown her!
This week is about to get super crazy as Matt and I both finish up our SD jobs and do the final preparations for our big move on Saturday. (FYI – I hate packing.) I’ve tried to put together a few posts ahead of time, but don’t be surprised if things are a little quiet here at Little Miss Ritchie for the next few weeks. I’m pretty sure that all of you understand that moving, unpacking and a newborn baby to love on take a front seat to blogging! Much love ~ Kristen
Well, here we are again celebrating a somewhat "awkward" holiday...Father's Day. We're missing our feisty two year old that should be running around the house, and not quite ready to welcome her little brother into the world, but that doesn't make this day any less special.
Dear Charley Bear and "Franklin,"
Wow...I think that this is the first time that I have ever written a special letter directed toward BOTH of you! It fills me with so many emotions...sadness that we will never have you both here in our arms at the same time, but also overwhelming love and thankfulness that God trusted us to love and care for each of you.
I'm writing you today for a very special occasion...it's FATHER'S DAY!
Last year I did a special post for Father's Day documenting 10 little tid-bits that I wanted to share with you about your Daddy. There are so many incredible things about him that I figured it would be pretty easy to continue adding to the list year after year.
"Ten Things You Should Know About Your Daddy"
1. Your daddy has a very contagious laugh! Sometimes we'll be watching TV and something funny will hit him just right. He'll start laughing so hard that he ends up with tears pouring down his face. A part of me wants to be irritated because his laughter drowns out the rest of the show, but I always find myself laughing right along beside him...not necessarily for the same reason though...its mostly because his laugh makes me laugh! I can only hope that my kiddos find someone to spend their lives with who does the same for them!
2. He really likes his vegetables! That might seem like something silly to put on this list, but its something about him that I want to make sure you hear loud and clear (especially you baby boy!) Veggies are yummy even if Mommy makes funny faces when she eats them sometimes.
3. He can fall asleep faster and harder than any person I have ever known before. As a matter of fact, he's been known to fall asleep mid-sentence when we are talking in bed at night. I'm hoping that he'll pass that quality on to you, baby boy. Fall asleep fast, sleep deep, sleep long. Sounds pretty simple, right?
4. He's not only a good Daddy-Daddy, but he's also a good Puppy-Daddy! Remember your crazy puppies Charlotte? You're brother hasn't had the opportunity to meet them yet, but he's no doubt heard their crazy barking and felt Maybe trying to climb all over my belly. Anyway, Maybe and Stella love you and me...but they LOVE your Daddy! It may or may not have something to do with the fact that he is the official "fetcher" in the house!
5. Your Daddy is a VERY loyal friend. Unlike most people who gradually "drift" from a lot of their high school friends as the years pass, Daddy still has a BIG group of guys that he is very close with. The up side of that for you? Lots of extra crazy "uncles"!
6. Sometimes your Daddy likes to "act" like he's right even when he knows he's not. Its called being stubborn. Some day you'll see what I mean (until then, lets keep that one between us!)
7. I think that I put this on last year's list, but its too important not to include again...Your Daddy is my rock. We've been on a bumpy/crazy road for the last year and I can't even begin to imagine how I would still be standing here today if he hadn't been by my side the whole time. I thank God every single day for bringing your Daddy into our lives.
8. He's pretty darn smart...especially when it comes to all things related to Nebraska pharmacy rules and regulations! Congratulations Matty on passing your Nebraska MPJE! That means that Baby Boy Ritchie and I don't have to live in a box on the side of the road! :) I can't wait for him to teach you all sorts of things.
9. Your Daddy is kind of...well...how do I put this nicely.....a dork. We're talking like a "I can tell you everything about the Lord of the Rings" kind of dork. But you know what? Its one of the things that I love most about him!
10. Daddy never gives less than all of himself...he likes to do things, do them right and do them well. It doesn't matter if its work, recreation or home life - he takes great pride at the end of the day of a job well done. This might be one of the most important things that I can tell you about your Daddy, because I know that when it comes to you he always has and always will give 1,000 percent. He will love you endlessly, no matter what.
Father's Day is a hard day, but also a day for me to sit back and reflect on how lucky my children are to have the Daddy that they do. It breaks my heart, Charlotte, that you only had 1 year to experience life with him, but I know that as you watch over us everyday you continue to see all of the reasons that I fell in love with him. I have never witnessed love like the love your Daddy has for you...his little girl. There really are not words to describe it. As for you, little boy, I'm so excited to see you in your Daddy's arms for the first time. His eyes already sparkle at the mere mention of your name and mine do the same when I think about the special connection that the two of you will have as father and son.
I love you both with all of my heart and will make sure to give Daddy some extra special hugs today. I'll try not to make the hugs too tight for your sake "Franklin" - I wouldn't want you getting any more squished in there!
Well folks, as of yesterday I officially became more pregnant than I have ever been before. Yesterday I was 37 weeks and 2 days…one day further than I made it with Charlotte. Today makes 37 weeks and 3 days (pretty awesome math skills, huh!?) So far our little dude seems to be following orders content with his current environment and isn’t giving any major signs of his impending arrival. Each passing day gets a little more “interesting” as he packs on the fat and gradually runs out of room. It’s crazy though, because it’s almost like the LESS room he has the MORE active he’s become! I’m definitely taking a beating. Sleep has become, for lack of a better term, crappy. I’m used to getting up once in the middle of the night for trip to the bathroom, but for the past week or so I’ve been averaging three trips. Number 3 usually happens around 4:30 AM and then for some reason Mr. Mister thinks it’s rock and roll time. Lovely. You would think that with all of the “complaining” that I would be encouraging this little guy to get a move on, but instead he is under strict orders to set up camp for another two weeks. Our big move is set for the 23rd and I “expect” him to wait until after that! (I'm such a mean/demanding Mama!) On Monday I went and saw my OB in Omaha—the same OB that delivered Charlotte. Something about the thought of him bringing her little brother into the world as well is really comforting …comforting and emotional all at the same time. All looked really good at my appointment. You might remember that part of the reason I went early with Charlotte was that my amniotic fluid was really low. She didn’t have much to keep her suspended and ended up lying on her cord which made her heart rate drop. I’m happy to say that Mr. Mister’s pool is full and he’s happily floating around in there (as much as he can with the space constraints anyway!) He’s right on track size wise and they estimate that he’ll pack on another pound in the next 2 weeks. We’ve got somewhat of a plan in place. I would totally share…but what fun would that be?! You know how I LOVE a good secret! Those of you who DO know….SHHHHHHH!
Here's my baby belly with Charlotte at 37 weeks. Little did we know that the very next day we would be scrambling to Omaha to meet our little girlie!
My Oh My...there is definitely a baby in there! Here I am at 37 weeks and 3 days with this feisty little boy! I think that I look bigger, but I'm measuring almost the exact same. I think that Charlotte had dropped quite a bit at this point, but this guy is riding high and tight! Must be because of all those threats I've been making about staying put!
I still can't believe that it's almost time to meet this little guy. I feel like we've been waiting so long to hold another baby in our arms, but at the same time it has all gone so quickly. I can hardly wait for non-stop snuggles with "Mr. Mister Franklin E. Ritchie"!
Being a Nebraska Cornhusker fan...this next sentence is a little hard for me to spit out. Please forgive me Husker nation - Don't label me an outcast before I even take up residence in your lovely state. Here goes nothing.....
I promise that I'm not turning into a Big 10 traitor, I'm just really excited to share another update on Books for Charley donations! Remember our friend Aly? If not, click here to go back and read a little more about her amazing story. She's a feisty little lady and if you read some of her mom's blog posts I'm sure you'll find yourself laughing at some of her crazy antics. As you all probably know, this year's "official" Books for Charley collection window spanned the entire month of May. As things were coming close to an end, Aly's mom Jenny posted a reminder on their blog that there was still time to donate books to their collection that would eventually find its way to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. I encourage you to go and read the post titled 264. In it Jenny manages to explain something that I have tried to do many times before...but always felt like I've fallen a little short. I think that a lot of heart moms, or anyone who has been thrust into a world of "sick" children, can relate to this beautiful explanation of WHY we become so consumed in a world that so often ends in heartache. Go read it. Really. Then come back. I promise I'll wait. GO ALREADY!!
Pretty darn good, huh? Thats what I thought. Anyway, that message was posted on May 30 and at that time the Michigan book collection had accumulated 264 books! I was totally speechless. With only 1 day left in May I figured that this would be pretty close to a "final" count, but boy was I wrong! Only three days later I logged on to Facebook only to find this picture....
That, my friends, is what 300 books looks like! My immediate response was combined shock and awe. That was immediately followed with the thought "Oh my gosh, I bet they can't wait to have that part of their house back!" Their original Books for Charley post mentioned a "goal" of 200 books and they exceeded it by 100! Thats a lot of books! Thank you so much Lincoln family for everything that you did to make this year's (as well as last year's) collection such a success. And a HUGE thank you to all of you who helped make the big "300" possible.Your continued support of our little girl and our family means the world to us. I'm not sure when those big stacks of books will be finding their new home, but I DO know that they will bring smiles to a lot of little kiddos! I love it.
For those of you keeping track....
122 books + 300 books = 422 books
AND WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED! Later this week I hope to get a post up about our South Carolina donation and will also be taking a delivery to our local hospital here in Sioux Falls. I realized that I REALLY needed to get that done considering we'll me loading up a moving truck in less than two weeks! Craziness!
“Living as a person of faith means trusting in advance
what will only make sense in reverse.”
I shared that phrase with you a few months back after I had spoken at a Remembrance Service at Omaha Children’s Hospital. They are words that run through my mind quite frequently. I lived by them for the entire month of May. I’m clinging to them now as Matt and I make about a billion major/stressful changes in our lives all at once. I silently mumble them to myself when one of “those days” comes along and my heart is exceptionally sensitive to grief.
Yesterday was one of those days where those words were repeated over and over.
“Trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” “Trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” “Trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
And as I said them, I realized that yesterday I was witnessing both ends…trusting in advance, while at the same time making some sense out of things (even if just a tiny amount of sense).
Yesterday some very good friends of ours welcomed two beautiful little boys, Mason and Abram, into the world. They weren’t due to be born until about a month after Baby Boy Ritchie, but apparently they had some plans of their own! Mason is currently in the NICU working on growing big and strong. All reports have been that he’s doing very well… such a strong little kiddo (no surprise knowing his mom and dad!). Mason’s brother Abram blessed this world with his presence for about an hour before he earned himself a very special pair of angel wings. He was born with Trisomy 18 and also had a “broken” little heart like our Charlotte. Our own hearts are breaking for our friends and the rest of their family as they grieve the loss of one child and fight right alongside another. I can't imagine how to even begin balancing those emotions.
Yet again God has orchestrated a series of events that require us to “trust in advance”…so what did I mean when I said that I’m starting to make some sense out of things? I’ve told you before that the challenges that Matt and I have been given in our own life make absolutely no sense to me. None. Why would a God who loves you unconditionally bless you with a child, make you watch them fight for their lives and then take them away from you? I don’t understand it—but at the same time I trust. And as far as making any semblance of “sense” out of it, I think that in this situation Matt and I have been given an opportunity. We obviously can’t fix things or come up with justification for why, but we can take what we have learned from our own struggles and channel it into simply being there for our friends. We don’t “know” what they are going through…but we do understand what it feels like to hold a child in your arms and to be forced to say good-bye. We will pray for them, cry for them, sit in absolute silence with them, and celebrate ALL of their children with them…whatever they need.
I know that today Charlotte and Abram are playing together on Heaven’s ultimate playground and that in another two weeks Mason will have a little Ritchie boy to grow up with. Though it hurts, that thought makes me smile. I feel SO BLESSED knowing that each of my kiddos, in totally different ways, will grow up with a Metzler!
This morning I sat down to do a little blog reading while I ate my Rice Krispies and I was so excited to see that there was a new post up on our friend Claire’s blog. I knew that Claire and her Mama were headed to a cardiology appointment at Duke and am always anxious to hear how things are going with our little heart buddies. Not only that, but I knew that they were taking a very special delivery along with them to this appointment….Books for Charley! First off (and most importantly) I’m glad to report that little Claire had a GREAT appointment – so great in fact, that they don’t have to go back for a whole year! That's a HUGE milestone for heart kiddos who are accustomed to a life full of appointments. YAY, CLAIRE! After her appointment, Claire and her Mama met with a Child Life Specialist to drop off 122 books that they collected for the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. These books will apparently become a part of a little “library” that they have there. If you read the original Books for Charley post on their blog, you might remember that they set a goal to collect 113 books – a book for each day that little Claire spent in the NICU and recovering from her multiple surgeries. Well, well, well…look who exceeded their goal!
Thank you so much Scott family for playing such a special part in this year’s Books for Charley collection. Here’s hoping that there are lots of extra smiles in the Duke Ped’s CICU today! You can read more about Claire’s trip to Duke here.
Matt and I just wanted to take a moment and give the worlds biggest THANK YOU to everyone who donated to this year's Books for Charley event. When I did my original post announcing the "second annual" I wasn't really sure what type of response we would get...would people be as enthusiastic as they were last year? I just wasn't sure.
While we don't have an official "final count" to share with you today, I can tell you that it's pretty amazing! Want some sort of an idea of what I mean by AMAZING?!
In one single month we received almost $1500 in monetary donations alone.
ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
Really, people--You are amazing. Phenomenal. Incredible. All of those things plus some.
Keep checking back over the next week or so for more on actual book numbers. We're so excited to share updates about our collection, as well as those of our other heart friends who graciously helped us out this year.
Again, thank you so very much for your generosity. Thank you for helping us celebrate Charlotte. Thank you for helping us give back. Thank you for helping us put smiles on so many little faces.
This morning Mr. Mister and I had a heart to heart chat. While our conversations are generally filled with all things “lovey dovey,” today I officially broke out my stern motherly voice…yes, I tried to intimidate my unborn child! Today we officially hit the 36 week mark – that’s equal to 252 days of up close and personal mama-baby bonding time. As this little guy continues to grow bigger and stronger and the weather continues to get warmer and warmer, this lady here has gotten…well…let’s just say that every day I am more and more ready to have a baby in my arms versus a one jammed up in my ribcage! In the back of my mind there is a little voice shouting “YAY! Only one more week and this baby is FULL-TERM!” You know what I think of that little voice?? I think that it needs to shut the heck up and stop planting ideas in Mr. Mister’s head! So let me highlight for you a few key points from our “heart to heart” this morning…. 1) STAY PUT. 2) We are so excited to meet you, but STAY PUT. 3) Despite the intimidation tactics that I tried on your sister, she decided to grace us with her presence at 37 weeks, 1 day. Be a better listener than your sister. STAY PUT. 4) GRRRR….I am your Mama! Do what I say! STAY PUT. 5) P.S. I love you!
Totally reasonable, right? So….what’s going on here at 36 weeks? We FINALLY have diapers! I think that my unpreparedness was starting to stress some people out and we were surprised to come home one day and find a package on our door step. Inside we found diapers, some books for baby boy and a birthday gift for Miss Charlotte. Thanks, Pospisil’s! You’re the greatest!
Essential laundry is done and my hospital bag is packed….ok, that’s a lie. Essential laundry is done and a stack of things that are intended to come to the hospital has started to form.
I have come to the conclusion that this child may not belong to Matt. My best bet is that his real dad is Chuck Norris – Lord knows that with the practicing he’s been doing that he’ll come out with one impressive round house kick. This Mama feels battered and bruised (though I secretly love every bump, thump and kick that he makes!). I take back all of my earlier complaints of heartburn. Apparently I had forgotten what 3rd trimester heart burn is all about. If heartburn = hair, then I have a BAD feeling that the first time I see our baby boy he will look something like this….
And now I'm going to have nightmares...
One night a few weeks back I was sitting on the couch and Matt was laying with his feet stretched out my direction. Suddenly Mr. Baby decided to give me a big old nudge. Matt saw this and decided to return the favor. Baby nudge, Daddy nudge, baby nudge, Daddy nudge…it was in that moment that it dawned on me. I’m doomed – stuck between these two YAHOOS for the rest of my life! Then I smiled. How lucky am I?? If any of you are looking to hire a professional napper, I’m your girl! Our couch will serve as an excellent reference. I officially caved and have started parking in the "New and Expectant Mothers" parking spots at the grocery store. I know that its there for a reason, but there is still something inside of me that thinks "Really, Kristen?" every time that I do it...Then I get round house kicked to the ribs and sucker punched in my bladder simultaneously and my thoughts change! We apparently didn't take a 36 week picture with Chuckles. There is, strangely enough a 37 week one...but that will come next week.
Pluggin' away at 36 weeks with Baby #2. I need to stop taking pictures at the end of the day when I'm most ready for a nap. Poor Matt ends up having to take 200 pictures before we get one where I look kind of awake...then I decide that my hair looks terrible (hence the pony tail) and we start the process over again!
Happy cooking baby boy! Can't wait to meet you face to face in 3 weeks....no sooner....