Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our Weekend in Pictures

Last weekend was a busy one for the Ritchies.  

We started out with a Friday afternoon wagon ride.  Harrison's cousins, Jack and Owen, were nice enough to hand down their awesome Radio Flyer and H absolutely loves it!  Its a pretty bumpy ride out here on our gravel drive, but that just adds to the fun!  

On Friday night we went on a special dinner date with the Ritchie crew at B&G's...  
 ...and followed it up with a quick dip in the pool.  This little boy LOVES the water!
 Benson wasn't quite sure about the whole swimming thing, but lasted long enough for us to get a couple pictures.  These two boys totally melt me!
 Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day and we took full advantage of it!  H decided to take a 3 hour morning nap (all that swimming wore him out) so Matt and I got lots of yard work done.  After lunch we loaded up the car and made our first family trip to the Omaha zoo.  We got a membership for Christmas and are so excited that we're finally close enough to use it! 

While we were there, we made 2 very special stops.

After she earned her wings a donation was made to the bear family in honor of our "Charley Bear."  Holding true to their name, they were all about lazily lounging in the sun.
We also got to see Charlotte's butterfly up close and personal for the first time.  Its located in a beautiful garden right below the butterfly house.  Perfect.
Harrison's favorite part of the trip?  The snacks.
On Sunday we stayed a little closer to home.  We made one quick trip to the most beautiful church near our house.  I've driven past the Holy Family Shrine on the interstate a million times, but have never been up to really explore the grounds.  The building and surrounding gardens are BEAUTIFUL. 
Our original motivation for the visit was to get some ideas for Charley's Garden.  Mission accomplished...I could only hope to plant something 1/2 as beautiful as this!
After our little outing, we headed home and enjoyed another beautiful day.  The afternoon was filled with walks, lawn mowing and wagon washing.  A pretty perfect Sunday, if you ask me!
We're not normally an "always on the go" type of family.  We like our down time, our home time, our slow down and enjoy our days off time...but this weekend was a perfect exception!  Here's to many more adventures for me and my boys!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Books for Charley {2013} - Texas Children's Hospital

Ready for another Books for Charley update??  They've been slow in coming this year, but I'm determined to give all of these special donations the spotlight that they deserve!  So far we've covered our Iowa and South Carolina donations...and next up we'll check in with our friend Madison in Texas!  Back in early July Madison had a big appointment at Texas Children's Hospital and took quite the Books for Charley haul along with her.

From Madison's CaringBridge site...

Today we headed to TCH to drop off our books and for Madison’s big cardio checkup. We left around 7:00 AM and got home right after 7:00 PM. It was a long day, but a great one!

We started our day dropping off our books. Some of the volunteers came down with a cart to load them up! A fellow heart mom, Shannon, collected 80 books and met us there as well! Together, we collected right over 500 books! AMAZING! I cannot tell you how much joy it brought me to drop off those books and think of how many heart warriors would receive a special treat in memory of precious Charlotte. I happily placed over 400 Charley’s Heart stickers on the books yesterday and was completely overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the books. We gave TCH an amazing selection. Books I would LOVE for my own kids to have. The range in ages was pretty astounding. I do not think I could have planned it out as well as it turned out. The distribution was just perfect! It was really a perfect way to start our day.

FIVE HUNDRED BOOKS!?!  Holy cow!  I guess the phrase "Everything's bigger in Texas" applies to Books for Charley as well!  I was totally blown away when Brandi sent me a message with her collection numbers.  Not only that, but the fact that another heart mom (a complete stranger to me) collected 80!  Thank you so much, Shannon! 

And not to skim over the REALLY important part of their trip to TCH--Madison had a FANTASTIC appointment!  There were lots of "greats" mentioned in their update.  GREAT heart function.  GREAT looking valves.  A GREAT LPA.  I can't say that I'm at all surprised...Miss Madison is a fighter!  You can read more about it HERE.

Books, books, books!  LOVE IT!
  There are so many things I love about this picture...1) The books (obviously!) 2) Two heart families coming together 3) Brandi's adorable baby bump...with a heart healthy baby boy growing away! 4) Madison's bare feet...I personally believe that shoes are overrated :)

Thank you, Gandy family, for helping make Books for Charley {2013} such a huge success.  And a huge thank you is also due to all of the people who helped you collect all of those books!!  I'm still 100% amazed! 

I cannot stop smiling...

South Carolina - 84 books
University of Iowa Children's Hospital - 167 books
Texas Children's Hospital - 500 books

Total - 751 books

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One, One...and SO Much Fun!

Today as I write this post (a few weeks late), our sweet Harrison Paul is 1 year 21 days old.  That count is bittersweet for a couple of reasons.  1) It is proof that out little boy is becoming less of a "little" boy and 2) I can't help but keep track in my brain that he is now 5 days older than his sister was when we were forced to say good-bye.  I wish I could stop keeping track of those milestones, yet at the same time, I appreciate the reminder.  It helps me keep my priorities where they need to be.  Encourages me to stretch out our bedtime routine and to snuggle a little bit longer.  Helps me laugh when, in reality, I want to pull my hair out!  Our first year with Harrison, much like that with Charlotte, seems to have passed in the blink of an eye...yet I'm confident in saying that not one single moment has been taken for granted.  I know that each moment, each snuggle, each tantrum could be the last.  And while I feverently pray that I get to celebrate countless more years with my baby boy, I need to remember to enjoy the here and now....with my big boy 1 year old.


If I had to choose one description of you as a 1 year old, it would most definitely be "Mr. Personality."  With each passing month I find myself saying "this month was totally my favorite"...and month 12 was no exception.  You are a constant source of entertainment (HUGE show-off) in our home and are always making us laugh.  Your giggles/shrieks are contagious and it has been so fun watching you grow into the world around you.  You speak a language all your own, love to watch videos of yourself, and have a new-found love for playing peek-a-boo over the top of the ottoman. 

While you're still not walking, you ARE getting more and more brave on your feet everyday.  You'll stand unsupported and walk along furniture (or with the help of a finger), but are wise to the fact that you are much faster on your hands and knees.  With places to go and people to see, who's got time for walking?!

You're a big fan of the outdoors and have been known to try to escape out the back door when we let the puppies out.  If we catch you in the act and try to stop you...boy oh boy, do you make your frustration known.  Luckily we finally have grass and outdoor adventures have gotten a little easier/cleaner (though you're still a mess 90% of the time)!  Boys will be boys!
This might be one of my favorite "pre-grass" moments. 
Always exploring, even when the hard ground hurt his little knees!
Month 10, month 11, month still love to play catch!  I'm pretty sure we could throw away all of your toys and just have a ball or two in the house to keep you entertained.  Whether you're playing fetch with the pups, catch with daddy, or simply throwing/chasing the ball by yourself, balls have proven to be your favorite.

What else, what else...I feel like you have changed so much in the past month and I don't want to forget any detail!  You continue to eat like a piggy (a very non-picky piggy), weighed in at 23 pounds at your 12 month well-visit and wear mostly 18 month clothes (with a few 2T thrown in the mix...EEK!).  You're holding steady with 2 bottom teeth, but have a big ol' top one that's been threatening to break through for a few weeks now.  You transitioned into the new house better than we could have hoped for, and have been sleeping like a ROCKSTAR in your new room.  You love to make spitting/farting noises (again, all boy), and its not uncommon to hear "Da-da-ppfft" come out of your little mouth...followed by a huge grin to let us know that you know you're being silly.  Lovely.
And he's done.  This may have been the most challenging photo shoot to date!
We love you sweet Harrison and cannot wait to see what your future holds.  I'm sure that it will be filled with exciting adventures....and lots of dirt! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Cow Says "MOO"

I'm so super behind on updates these days.  Life has been a little crazy around here lately with the move, getting settled, re-claiming control of our 3 acres, work and birthday party planning (excuses, excuses)...not to mention the fact that our internet still isn't hooked up!  All of those things combined translate into less frequent updates on what's happening here on the homefront.  I'm determined to remedy the post at a time!

Two weeks ago we celebrated Harrison's birthday at home as a family of 3.  Can you believe he's already a year old?!  That night we stuck a candle in a brownie, sang happy birthday, and sat back and laughed as our hungry hippo inhaled his sweet treat.  That brownie didn't stand a chance!  It was a very low-key celebration...but special none-the-less.

Yesterday we were finally able to celebrate our little guy in style.  We invited friends and family out to the "farm" to Party 'Til the Cows Come Home.  There were 4-wheeler rides, a yummy summer spread, lots of goodies, and most importantly...lots of birthday love for the guest of honor!

Party 'Til the Cows Come home!
 What's a birthday party without a little (or a lot) of sugar??  We had our favorite sugar cookies from Bianca's Creative Cookies and lots of Oreo-spiked cupcakes.
Something tells me that by this time next year, these boys are going to be quite the trouble makers!  Harry had so much fun with his buddy Mason and cousin Benson.
Once again, NamNam came through with an AWESOME birthday shirt! 
We moved Harrison's birthday cake outdoors and gave him free range.  He was a little hesitant at first, but once he figured out that cake = yummy, there was no stopping him!
A quick dip in the sink!
All cleaned up and ready to go!

Last night after the house had quieted down, Matt and I settled in and talked about how "perfect" of a day it had been.  These are the days that we have longed for for so long.  Days where our house is full of the noise of family and friends.  Days where we can sit back and watch our kiddo play with his cousins and make new friends.  Days where we don't have to load up our car at the end of the day and drive for 3 hours.  We're finally "home" and so excited for the days months years to come.

Here's to many more birthday celebrations with our sweet little boy!