Thursday, August 29, 2013

Books for Charley {2013} North Carolina and Michigan

The stickers have been placed.
All books have been counted.
Boxes and totes have been filled to capacity.

Yup!  You read that right.  It's almost September and we're FINALLY getting ready to make our big Books for Charley donation to Omaha Children's Hospital & Medical Center.  This summer has definitely gotten away from me...but I'm done procrastinating and ready to deliver.  I can hardly wait to share our final count with you all!!

Before we get to that, though, there are two more Books for Charley donations that I need to update you on.  The first is from our good friend Claire in North Carolina.  Back in July, Claire and her mama made a trip to Duke Medical Center for Claire's annual liver check-up.  While there, they were able to drop off 46 children's books!  You can read about Claire's donation HERE.  Thanks again, Scott family for helping us out with our collection again this year!  And P.S. I love that they Child Life thank you card has a perfect little butterfly in it!
The last of our heart friend donations hasn't exactly happened yet...but all for good reason!  Our good friend Aly had her Fontan (the last of 3 planned surgeries to re-route blood flow in an HLHS heart) a few years back, and since then has been doing AMAZING.  Doing AMAZING has a direct correlation with less frequent visits to the cardiologist...meaning less trips to Ann Arbor and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.  I think that's a pretty good excuse for a delayed donation!  So while there hasn't been an "official" book drop off, Aly's mom did send me an update on how things went with their collection.  Drumroll....150 books!!  That's going to make for a lot of happy kiddos up in Michigan!

Thanks to everyone who helped out with the North Carolina and Michigan donations!  We appreciate every book/dollar donated more than you can imagine!

So where do things stand going into the last donation of 2013??   

South Carolina - 84 books
University of Iowa Children's Hospital - 167 books
Texas Children's Hospital - 500 books
Children's Hospital of Orange County - 300 books
Waverly and Sumner Hospitals (Iowa) - 213 books
Duke Medical Center - 46 books
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital - 150 books

Total - 1460 books

Stay tuned for our next (and biggest!) update of the year!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sweet Summer Nights

Less than a week ago the weather here in Nebraska was starting to feel like Fall.  I found myself getting excited for football games, hooded sweatshirts and a big bowl of chili.  Well, all of those things are going to have to wait just a little bit longer!  Temperatures were back near 90 degrees today and the rest of the week looks just as warm.  No complaints here though.  Hot summer days translate into perfect summer nights...and tonight we took full advantage!

After dinner we stripped H down to his diaper and took him outside for his very first popsicle experience.  At first he was more interested in what the pups were doing...but once he got a good taste, he was all about the cold cherry goodness!  H is just like his dad...biting off big chunks of popsicle all at once.
Once we were all good and sticky, we hosed off the patio and filled up the water table for a little "pre-bath" bath!  H loves splashing in the water and dumping bucketsful overboard.
We wrapped up the evening with a little stroll through the grass and a few rounds of fetch with Maybe.  This kiddo NEVER gets tired of throwing the ball!
Before we know it, cooler weather will be here to stay.  We'll welcome the change with open arms, but until then, you can find us in the backyard enjoying what's left of our sweet, sweet summer nights. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bring on the Baby Updates - Kiddo #3

Now that the cat is officially out of the bag, I can finally start doing some "How We're Doing" updates!  To be honest, the ol' first trimester has been quite uneventful and there's not much to report.  Both Matt and I have commented that sometimes we'll forget I'm even pregnant!  I guess that's what happens when you are packing, moving, working and chasing an adventurous one year old around.

As of today I am 16 weeks along with sweet baby #3, making my due date February 3, 2014.  Because of some things that came up with my last c-section, we know that it will be a little sooner than that...but no plans have been made at this point.  We are BEYOND excited to welcome this little one to our family, and while life might be a little chaotic with two under two, we're both up for the challenge.

Thus far (knock on wood) I've been feeling fantastic.  Sleeping well (though never enough) and trying not to over-indulge my crazy sweet tooth!  It feels great to say that I've had 2 1/3 smooth sailing pregnancies with no major complaints other than rip-roarin' third trimester heartburn.  Most of my early pregnancy "symptoms" are the mental ones from the stress of so many unknowns.

On the subject of unknows...we once again find ourselves in a bit of an "ugh" position....and likely will be until after we get a good look at this kiddo and his/her heart.  Don't get me wrong...our excitement level is much higher than our "ugh" level...but we're not as naive as we used to be.  We know that there could be a lot of scary secrets brewing in my belly.  I thought that I was handling it well until I got a phone call last week letting me know that my ultrasound had been scheduled.  September 13th.  Friday the 13th.  Seriously people?!?  I'm not a supersticious person...but come on.  Don't they know that I'm already a bit of a crazy person!?  About two weeks after that we'll go back for a fetal echo to check out all of baby Ritchie's heart plumbing in detail.  We've sat through a handful of these before, but this will be the first time we've had an echo anywhere other than Dr. Sami's office in Sioux Falls.  I hope the echo tech doesn't mind tears.  When we went in for Harrison's echo I was crying before they even started the scan!!  

Other than that...all is well.  Please keep us in your throughts/prayers as we inch closer to our September appointments!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Saying Good-Bye

I'm not good at good-byes.  They're no fun and normally bring with them a little (or a whole lot) of "sting" that forever resides in your heart.

I've had to say my fair share of good-byes, some harder than others...some harder than the hardest of hard.  I've been changed by them.  I've learned from them.  I'm a stronger, yet more vulnerable, person because of them.  

Yet regardless of how much I hate saying that word...I also realize that it is a part of life.  Good-bye may be hard, but it is often followed by personal growth, new seasons of life, and eventually, very happy hellos.

Today...I'm starting the process of saying good-bye...  




to my feet.

Baby Ritchie #3 arriving late January 2014!

Good-bye feet.  You'll most definitely be missed...but I'm so excited that when we meet again, there will be two new feet that come along with you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

18 Years

I'm not sure how old I was in this picture, but I would guess that its somewhere close to the age that Charlotte would be now.  And how perfect is it that I happen to be wearing a heart shirt?? 
Today as we mark 18 years without dad, I have to imagine that there is a similar scene playing out in Heaven...our sweet 3 year old snuggled up with her Papa Paul reading books. My heart can't decide if it wants to smile or break. Missing them both more than ever and sending all my love to the skies today.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Baby Steps

Last Thursday night I walked into the kitchen to find Harrison standing up against the window watching the puppies run around outside.  All of a sudden he started putting his forehead against the glass and sliding it down to the window frame.  It was ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS.  His chubby cheeks were bouncing around, his forehead was making a squeaking noise as it slid...and then he discovered that if he said "Ahhhhhhhh" while he did it, it sounded like a funny vibrating "Ah-h-h-h".

Of course I ran for my phone so that I could catch it on video.

Of course as soon as I got my camera pulled up he quit.

I was all ready to be sad.....

Then THIS happened!


Harrison has been teasing us with this whole walking thing for awhile now.  He'll take a step or 2 when there is a sturdy support nearby, but really prefers crawling.  Well well well....look who decided that walking is pretty cool!  I love about 15 seconds in when he's mid-squat and then stands back up again, flashing his "I'm pretty awesome" grin.  Awesome you are, Harrison.  Awesome you are!

While crawling is still his primary mode of transportation at this point, we're seeing his confidence grow and grow when he's on his feet.  Before we know it he'll be running laps around us!  We've never had little walker in our home, so this is super new and exciting for all of us!  Hello world, life just got a whole lot busier!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer Fun

Summer 2013 has been jam packed and almost 2 weeks into August, its showing no signs of slowing down.  Before you know it the temperatures will start to drop, weekends will be filled with football and we'll welcome back "Soup Sundays" in the Ritchie house.  And while I'm excited about all of those things, I'm trying to make the most of what's left of our summer.

What have we been up to?

First and foremost....we became blackberry farmers (translation, we discovered that we have a HUGE blackberry bush on our property!)  These are the 1st four berries that I picked...I couldn't wait for them to fully ripen!  Since those 4 berries, we've picked probably (at least) 400 more.  We've shared them by the bucketful, enjoyed homemade jam and filled our freezer in preparation for lots of yummy treats.  Tonight's perfect summer meal?  BLTs, sweet corn and homemade blackberry cobbler.  MMmmmmmm! 
We've been spending lots of time outdoors soaking up the sunshine and exploring all of our new-found space.  For awhile our lawn was pretty "swampy" (new sod=swampy), but we made the most of it and Harrison discovered his love for sprinklers!
Most of the time you can find this kiddo (sans pants) playing in the dirt, chasing his puppies or relaxing in his wagon.  He makes a bee line for the back door every time he hears it open and throws a fit when its closed before he gets there!
Speaking of playing with his puppies....this might be my favorite series of pictures ever.  Our beagle, Maybe, has wised up to the fact that Harrison is more of a "tease" when it comes to fetch than he is an actual player.  He pretends like he's going to throw the ball for her, but then keeps it to himself.  Maybe's response?  Get the ball and get the heck away!  That doesn't stop Harrison though....I was dying laughing as he crawled all over the backyard trying to get it back from her!

"I'm gonna get you, Maybe!"
 So close!
 And the beagle gains some ground....
 Success!  Now that's a happy boy!

Here's to morning walks, evenings spent in the backyard, and everything in between!  Hope your summer has been as perfect as ours! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Books for Charley {2013}: Surprise Collections!

Every now and again, messages show up in my inbox from individuals who are interested in helping with our various Charley's Heart projects.  I get messages from people who want to make monkeys for Project RedButt, donate materials, or even hold Books for Charley collections of their own.  We LOVE these messages and are always excited to welcome new members to the Charley's Heart team!  During this year's Books for Charley collection, I was contacted by 2 individuals wanting to help...and both ended up with pretty amazing "unofficially official" book drives.

I mentioned the first collection as a part of my Month of Chuck posts back in May. You might remember reading about my aunt Darla and her Making a Difference group (if not, click HERE for a refresher!)  I'm still amazed at the generosity of this group, and am thrilled to report that through their collection, these amazing women were able to collect 300 books to donate to the Children's Hospital of Orange County!  This is our very first west coast donation and we're so excited that word of Charley's Heart has spread to the Golden State.

The second collection was equally special...but instead of being spurred by a family member, it was organized by a stranger who came to know of our family through a mutual acquaintance.  Back in April I got an email from Kylie--a teacher, self-proclaimed "blog creeper" and also, a sister to a heart angel.  Much like our Charlotte, Kylie's sister Taylor earned her wings at a very young age.  She was born 21 years ago with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS); Kylie was only 2 years old at the time.  Kylie's message to me was SO sweet and I loved the idea of her doing a collection not only in honor of Charlotte, but also, in a way, for her sister.  I know that there are 2 very special little angels celebrating in Heaven over the 213 books that Kylie was able to gather!!  Yes, 213 books!  I love it!  She decided to split her donation between 2 local hospitals, one in Waverly, IA and on in Sumner, IA.  Iowa is scoring BIG TIME in this year's Books for Charley!  You can read more about Kylie's donation HERE.

So much love for our sweet girl...and so many HUGE hearts willing to help us celebrate her! 
I cannot thank you all enough.

South Carolina - 84 books
University of Iowa Children's Hospital - 167 books
Texas Children's Hospital - 500 books
Children's Hospital of Orange County - 300 books
Waverly and Sumner Hospitals (Iowa) - 213 books

Total - 1264 books