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Thursday, February 8, 2018


The past couple of weeks have been a little bananas between sick kiddos, sick parents, Matt re-locating a pharmacy, and me going thru a big accreditation visit at work. This post (appropriately coming a few weeks late) pretty much sums it all up.

"I wish I were a little kid so I could take a long nap 
and everyone would just be proud of me."

Brooks | Sleep has been a constant adventure with you. Just when it seems that you've got it all figured out, you start cutting a mouthful of teeth, get sick or just decide to pull the rug out from under us. For now we seem to be in a pretty good place.....but I'm sure I just jinxed the crap out of us by acknowledging it. Its ok though, I'll take whatever snuggles I can get while you're still willing to give them. And on a side note - look at all of those DROOL spots! 

Max | You've pretty much given up naps, but every once in a while your little 4-year-old body still needs a little restful recharge. Unfortunately, those afternoon slumbers catch up to you come bedtime. Most nights you keep yourself entertained with books and your "stuffies" in your room....but some nights you sneak out into the hall to listen to the sound of the TV playing in the living room below.  You think you're pretty sneaky! 

Harry | When you accidentally leave Charley Bear at Grandma's house, you need a whole army of other "stuffies" to take your mind off of her. I had a hard time finding you when I came in for one last goodnight kiss.  Whatever it takes, my love. Whatever it takes.

Sleep tight, sweet boys! You never know what adventures tomorrow will bring!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Find your Tribe. Love them Hard.
Harrison (5) Benson (4) Max (3) June (2) Brooks (1)

Brooks | Max | Harry |  The highlight of this past week, hands down, was your first ever all-cousin sleepover at NamNam and PopPop's house. I'll admit, I thought they were a little crazy when they said they wanted everyone to stay over (yes, Brooks, I'm referring to you and all of your crazy), but they insisted that they were up for the challenge, and we were happy to oblige! Our count down started a week in advance - home day-school day- school day-school day-school day-home day - and you were so excited to officially say that it was SLUMBER PARTY DAY! And what a day it was! You designed your own t-shirts, ate ice cream and donuts, watched the Smurfs movie, and undoubtedly giggled non-stop. I have to imagine that NamNam and PopPop's house felt pretty quiet once we all loaded up to come back home the next day...until the next time. 

So much love. So many memories. My heart is full.
I'm so thankful for this crazy tribe of ours.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Your greatest contribution may not be something you DO, but someone you raise.

Brooks | You were a little under the weather over the holidays this year, and I should have known that something was still up when you decided to lay down and rest in the middle of the floor of the Children’s Museum last week. But there was no drainage from your ears. No goop in your nose. No change in your voracious appetite (yes, I said voracious). No signs of sickies other than poor sleep and acting a little “off.” It took a looong sleepless night this past week for me to finally call the doctor, and low and behold, the same double ear/sinus infection that we thought we beat 3 weeks ago was still going strong. We started antibiotic #2 and within a couple of days you were back to your CrAzY antics. Scaling end tables, repeatedly shouting “Dada Dada Dada” in the middle of a church service, balancing on the back of a booster seat to get a better view of the rocks you know are off limits. Life with you is busy, sweet Brooks. And while it’s exhausting, we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Max | You caught us a little off guard this week when you found a new favorite to watch on TV. Wait for it......wait for it.....Golf. Yes, I said golf. I remember when I was a little girl and your Papa Paul would turn on the final round of a tournament on Sunday afternoons. I was bored out of my mind! Your dad has similar memories growing up with his grandpa. But you? You asked me every single morning this week if golf was on. The timing couldn't be more perfect as you just might be getting a new set of clubs for your birthday in a few weeks. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up a thing or two and really step up your game this summer. Maxwell Ritchie sounds like a name that could very well grace the leaderboard at Augusta some day.

Harry | Santa brought you a children’s bible for Christmas this year, and while I thought it was a great gift, I wasn’t fully convinced that it would hold your attention. Oh how I was wrong. You soak in the stories, ask questions about things/words you don’t quite understand, and are a total rockstar when it comes to discovering meaning in the Word. We’ve learned about Adam and Eve, Sarah and Abraham, sacrifices (a tough one for this mama to explain!), plagues, and so much more. I love seeing your excitement when it’s time to read a new story each night, and even more, love watching you make the connection between the stories in the book, and how God wants us to live our lives. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Coming here tonight feels like a long overdue reunion with a sweet, sweet friend. This space used to be my refuge; a place where I could come to pour out everything. My excitement. My grief. My frustration. My pain. My love. It helped me through my highest of highs and my lowest of lows. It was a loyal friend that never needed to come up with words to comfort me, but rather soaked in my words, always listening and never passing judgement or telling me that everything was going to be okay.

Then came life with 3 little boys. My time and attention have been needed elsewhere-- mouths to feed, bottoms to wipe, redheads to prevent from climbing onto the stove or drowning in the toilet. Don't get me wrong, it was a sacrifice that I was more than willing to make. Those boys are my EVERYTHING. But through it all there has always been a tiny spark deep in my heart just waiting for the time when my brain would clear enough to form coherent thoughts and sentences and I could come back here again.

I think that time has finally come. 
Here goes nothing...


:: a portrait of our yahoos, once a week, every week in 2018 ::

Brooks | For you, 2018 is sure to be a year filled with all things NEW. You are smack in the middle of a baby-to-toddler transition and are wasting no time discovering the great big world around you. This weeks new? We’ve said our official farewell to a highchair and welcomed you to our dinner table. Its sure to be a messy experience with lots of plate tossing, but its more than worth it to see that proud grin on your face knowing that you've officially "made it."  
Max | 2018 started out with you discovering your love for games. It started with Go Fish and now includes Monoply Jr. (Bonobowy, in Max speak) and Yahtzee. We’re learning hard lessons about winning and losing, but have been impressed with how well you handle the latter. Rather than having the anticipated 3-year-old meltdown, you typically just say "wets pway 1 more time" over and over again until you win. Oh sweet boy, you absolutely melt me.
Harry | Your brother Brooks isn't the only one going thru some major transitions these days. You, my love, are quickly leaving behind all things "little" in exchange for the exciting world of a big boy. Taking showers. Learning to read. Big kid attitude. It has been equal parts amazing and frustrating for all of us, you see, this is new territory for your dad and me too. We hope and pray every single day that we don't screw you up too badly do right by you and instill a good balance of love, kindness, strength and perseverance in your heart that carries you well into adulthood.

Wish me luck, world. Only 51 weeks to go!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Night Before

September 9th, 2016, I woke up with an unsettled, paranoid feeling. I’d been going in to my OB’s office  daily for the previous 3 days to get steroid injections, readying our sweet babe’s lungs for an early 36 week c-section delivery a week later. They had checked my fluid 2 days earlier and noted that it was still within a safe range, but was definitely less than it had been the previous week. Low fluid is what lead to Charlotte’s early (and emergent!) arrival, so I was definitely on high alert to even the smallest changes. Baby boy was moving…meeting all requirements for kick counts…but it was just “different.” 

All morning long I poked and prodded at my belly, trying to encourage him to stay active. Sometimes he cooperated. Sometimes he was quiet. Nothing abnormal by normal baby standards…but hello…paranoid. I even laid on my side in the middle of my office, eating a candy bar and watching Netflix trying to get him going….because again…paranoid. 

I left work early that day. Came home, rested, ate dinner with Matt and the boys, all the while debating on whether or not I should go in to get checked out. Baby was moving, so it seemed silly. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I’m terribly indecisive. This was no exception. I called the hospital for advice, and the RN on the other end told me exactly what I needed to hear. “Better to come in now, even if its nothing, than to stay up all night worrying about it.” AMEN, sister. I just needed someone to tell me what to do!

I remember the details of that night so vividly. I tucked in H and Maxo, saying prayers, giving kisses, telling them both that I would see them in the morning. After that I snuck into our bedroom and gently woke up Matt, who had gone to bed early because he had to work an overnight shift. I whispered to him “I’m going to the hospital. Its no big deal, I just need some reassurance. I’ll be home before you have to leave for work.” I don't think he probably heard a word I said in his half-asleep state. My mom met me at the hospital (maybe her mama’s instincts were kicking in much like my own) and sat with me while they hooked me up to monitors and did a quick ultrasound. The nurses told me everything looked good. and that I could likely go home as soon as the doctor gave me a once over. And because I'm a crazy person - I then became irritated because I made a trip to the hospital for nothing. 

Little did any of us know that my uterus and I had quite the reputation in my perinatologist’s office. Two strangers walked into my observation room (the partners of my OB and high-risk OB), and after some quick introductions uttered the words “You’re going to have a baby tonight.” Uhhhhhhh…….what!? Panic set in. You guys. I’m a planner.This was not my plan. Matt was home sleeping. He had to work. The man who had delivered all of our kiddos (and was supposed to deliver this one as well) was home in bed too. These people standing in front of me were total strangers. I had a hundred different “but…but…buts…” but the instructions left for them by my trusted MD were clear. “If Kristen Ritchie shows up for ANY reason, that baby is coming out.” 

After startling Matt awake with the words "Whelp, we're having a baby. When can you get here?" my mom headed out to stay with the kids and he made his way to be with me. Less than an hour later, just after midnight, this happened. 

I thank God every day for planting that seed of worry in my heart. For showing me again and again that He's got my back. For reminding me to let go of my crazy and to trust in His plan. 

I thank him every single day for this little boy that we call Brooks.

Happy birthday eve, Brooksy Babe. You are loved more than you will ever know.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Celebrating FIVE

Summer birthdays are the BEST (and the easiest)! 

Swimming pools, water slides and water balloons for the kiddos.
Lawn chairs and cold drinks for the adults.

Throw in a little cake and ice cream and you can't go wrong!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

{Harrison Paul} 5 Years

Earlier this summer we celebrated a big birthday milestone in our home as Mr. H.P. Ritchie turned FIVE! Holy cow...5 years old already!? It hardly seems possible. I still remember the first time I felt his weight in my arms. His sweet baby smell. His dark hair and crazy cowlick. His insane resemblance to his big sister. It was such a surreal moment after everything that we had been thru, and for the first time in forever...everything felt right. Five years later and he continues to fill our hearts with love in ways we never imagined possible. This boy. Oh my. I'm so glad he's ours.

Harrison Paul, here's a snapshot of you as a hot-shot 5 year old. 

It has been so fun to watch your sense of humor develop over this past year. While you were once extremely sensitive to playful teasing, you now recognize that when I tell you we’re having bugs and broccoli for dessert, you should just play along and tell me how delicious it will be. You are quite the little ham and know exactly which of your antics will produce smiles and giggles from those around you. Most often this includes sporting undies on your head and/or over your pants, farts, butts, or silly dance moves.  Boys.

For as long as I can remember we’ve been having conversations with you about “waking up your brave.” You’ve always been a little timid when it comes to trying new things, but this year we watched in amazement as you broke out of your shell and started to embrace the opportunities around you.  T-ball, a bike with no training wheels, swimming in the lake/river, swimming in the pool sans floaties….these are all things that would have had you all worked up just a year ago….but you managed to conquer them all and had so much fun in the process.

You like to reminisce on things as though you actually remember them…while in reality you’re re-telling stories that you’ve heard from us. “Hey mama, remember when I was really little and I used to call bulldozers, boss-i-boppers? That was hilarious.” “Hey dad, remember when I used to spin around in a circle and pretend to fall on the floor to make you laugh?” Oh sweet boy, I remember AAAAALLLLLL the things. A mama holds tight to memory of her babies, knowing full well that you grow up so quickly.

You’ve gotten really good at “responsibilities.” You get yourself dressed and your teeth brushed each morning before coming out of your room, can get yourself in and out of your carseat independently, help put away your laundry, fold towels/wash cloths (which ultimately end up being refolded by your OCD mama) and put away the silverware when I unload the dishwasher. Having said that - the simple act of cleaning up toys takes you anywhere from 5-7 hours to complete. 

There's no denying that you have a feisty side (good Lord are you feisty), but its perfectly balanced with an insane amount of sweet. You love to snuggle on the couch under a shared blanket, give the most breath-taking hugs (literally…BREATH-TAKING), and have a huge soft spot for your brothers, especially the littlest one. Just the other day you came up to me while I was making dinner and said "You know what we haven't done in awhile, mama? Hugged." and proceeded to wrap your arms around my legs. Made. My. Day.

You and Maxo...oh my...the friendship between you two yahoos is like nothing I could have imagined. The giggles. The shrieks. The crazy antics and belly laughs. You're equal parts brothers and best friends, and your little brother looks at you with such admiration. He's so lucky to have you. Aaaaaaaand I have to move on to the next topic now...mama's got sappy emotional tears going on. 

{Odds and Ends} You still call girls, grills...and I hope with all of my heart that you never stop. You have a new obsession with chewing gum, preferably "grape gum" or bubble gum. Your dad is competitive. Your mom is competitive. And guess what? You're just a tiny bit competitive too. Throw a little stubborn on top of it and we definitely have our hands full. You're smart as a whip, reading short words, and sounding out things like "Optimus Prime" so that you can write them on your own. You also have a lot of plant knowledge (which makes me laugh). I guess thats what happens when you're raised on Ritchie farm. 

Oh H.P. You're growing up a little too quickly for this mama's liking. Maybe we could slow things down a little bit from here on out?? I love you. I love you. I love you. And I can't wait to see what 5 has in store for us!