Sunday, September 28, 2014

When Life Hands You Lemons {2014}

I know that the seasons have “officially” shifted, but the temperatures here lately have felt more like Summer than Fall.  I’ll use the fact that its 82 degrees outside as good reason to post just one more (don’t hold me to that) memory of our summer.  It’s a good one, I promise, and I hope that it will be a repeating theme here on Little Miss Ritchie – the first in a series that I like to call “When Life Hands you Lemons.”

Matt and I have been back in Nebraska for over 2 years now, and while there are so many things that we miss about Sioux Falls, one that we miss the most is our next door neighbors.  Jesse and Kathryn Rickelman (aka “The Lemons”) bought the house next to ours in 2008(?), shortly after Matt hired Jesse to be a pharmacist with his company.   I wasn’t quite sure how the whole “co-workers and neighbors” thing was going to pan out – but I can say with 1000% certainty that it turned out to be one of life’s biggest blessings.  Even when they moved closer to home in 2010, we knew that that we weren't really saying good-bye.   

You might remember this picture that I shared back in 2010 – It's the only picture that we have of our first born kiddos together, snapped on the day that the Lemons loaded up their moving truck.
In 2011 the Jesse and Kathryn made plans for their 1st trip back to Sioux Falls.  We were so excited to spend a week with them catching up and reintroducing our kiddos, James and Charlotte, to each other.  Sigh.  Plans changed last minute, however, and instead of a trip back to the old “hood,” they found themselves in Omaha, Nebraska helping us celebrate the life of our baby girl.  It wasn’t the happy reunion I had hoped for…not even close…but the fact that they made that trip was so good for our hearts. 

Since that less-than-ideal 1st return visit, the Rickelman’s have continued to make the trek from Indiana to see us.  In 2012 there were 2 kiddos in tow as they traveled to our rental in Lincoln.  In 2013 we actually made the trip east as there was a new little (our godson!) in their lives.  And this year, 2014, we were BEYOND excited to open our doors to all FIVE of them (plus our old beagle friend Mac).  Holy moly it was a lot of kids/animals under one roof, but it was worth every bit of chaos to see our boys all playing together.

I like to call this picture "The Calm Before the Storm."  
Five boys under 5 getting to know each other over their first breakfast together.
We got an early start on our first day together and headed out to Omaha's incredible Henry Doorly Zoo.  5 kids, 4 adults, 3 strollers (1 double), 2 coolers, 1 perfect day!

We saw Ga-raffs...
and monkeys...
and our favorite, ChaCha's hippo!
We swung on vines.
We took in the sights from the stroller.
We rode lion cubs.
We acted our our own version of a "Wild Kingdom."
And of course we decided to try to get a family picture at the END of the day, when a certain little man had simply had enough!  
Day 2 was another day full of activity.  We talked about going to a local water park, but the weather didn't seem to be cooperating and we opted for an indoor play center instead.  Low and behold it ended up being a million degrees and sunny out.  Just our luck!  We still had a great time, though, and effectively wore out our little herd of boys.
The highlight of my day was watching Matt drag (literally) Harrison through this crazy mess of tunnels.  He wouldn't step foot on those net areas but they were a necessary evil to get up to the tallest slides.  Good old dad!
Day 3 consisted of an early morning tee time for the guys and a trip to a nearby park for the rest of us.  
Our days were full.  Our home was full.  But most importantly, our hearts were full.  
Thank you SO MUCH, Lemons, for making the long drive out to Nebraska.  We're looking forward to many more visits in the future and can't wait to witness the long distance friendships that develop between your crazy clan and ours.  We miss you dearly and are so thankful that you landed in our lives!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Summer 2014 {A Recap}

For the past few weeks Mother Nature has been treating us to a true Nebraska Fall.  The temperatures have dropped, our windows have been open, Soup Sundays have commenced and our house is full of the sounds of football on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays!  

Then came yesterday - 84 degrees and sunshine.  It almost felt like summer again and I started to reminisce on the season that seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye.  It was a perfect summer in the Ritchie house - low key "farm" living, lots of outdoor time, and the occasional trip to the swimming pool with cousins.  We never stray too far from home, but still manage to fill our days with fun and smiles.

Harrison Paul had an exceptionally good summer, his first as a full-blown toddler.  He discovered a love for all things outdoors - exploring our 3 acres, rolling down hills, playing with the hose, and even pulling weeds with mom and dad!
A totally normal summer evening.  Diapers, spray bottles and headbands sweatbands.
Cheese eatin' selfies.
First corn on the cob.  YUM!
Pool time!
Post-pool time.  This kiddo was D.O.N.E.
Swimming with cousin Benson.
Late night donuts with PopPop.
"I eat a carrot wit a TWEE on it!"
Not to be forgotten is little brother, Max.  He didn't get to eat corn on the cob or roll down the hill in our backyard, but that doesn't mean that he had any less fun this summer.  Its hard to believe how much he changed in the course of a season.  Once a squishy little babe who was content laying on a blanket in the shade, he's now driven by curiosity and always wants to be where the action is.  
 A leisurely ride through the zoo.
Fourth of July snuggles with Uncle Jay.
Sigh - those eyes...
These boys - I love them so.
Chillin' in the big boy chair.
Busy summer nights meant lots of quick sink baths before bed.  No complaints were heard from this silly guy!
Shhhh....don't tell big brother that we hijacked his sunnies.
Quality sun time with "Aunt" Hilde.
His first BLT party - I'm sure he would have rather had bacon.
Dinner with a view.  He loved looking out at Charley's Garden!
A master of the serious face.

Farewell, sweet summer.  We'll miss you and your long sunshine-filled days!