Monday, August 31, 2009

Becoming inquisitive

As Parker continually improves his ability to speak English, he is beginning to ask more questions. He has recently began asking "Why?" to about anything he can. He is very inquisitive.

He also asked us if monkeys swing from trees in Indianapolis. Why did he pick Indianapolis? I am guessing because we were driving down a street with very large tress and happened to be in Indianapolis at the time.

He is dying for it to snow. Not a day goes by right now without him asking if it is going to snow tomorrow. The boy that can't seem to stand the cold when it dips below 70 at night, wants it to snow.

His Grandpa Pop asked him the other day if it got cold in Ethiopia and he responded with "Cold....little. Hot....BIG!". Pretty simple, yet accurate description of sub-Saharan Africa.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One turtle saved

Tonight we were all playing in the backyard when Parker's soccer ball bounded down the steps toward our basement door. It ended up being a very fortuitous bounce for one lonely turtle.

As Parker headed down to retrieve the ball, he quickly retreated saying that he found a turtle. I was perplexed. I couldn't figure out how a turtle could have ended up down there, but I went to investigate anyhow. Low and behold, there was a turtle lounging in a small puddle near the bottom of the steps. Sara's animal loving side quickly spurned our first family adventure as we set out to save the turtle. She scurried to locate a bucket and a utensil to help usher the turtle into the bucket. As the boys and Sara supervised, I took on the large responsibility of coaxing the turtle into the bright red chariot that would ultimately carry this lucky reptile to a second chance at life.

Here is Lleyton asking if the turtle was scared. Without exaggerating, I would say that he asked us that question 100 times during the 20 minute rescue mission.

Here he is exclaiming "OH GOSH!" as he feared the turtle was scared, which I am certain only frightened the turtle more.

And here he is trying to explain to the turtle that we are going to take him to see his mommy again.

This first family adventure would lead us to one of the lakes in our neighborhood. So we all jumped in the car and escorted the turtle back to its rightful home. Once at the lake, we found the perfect spot to say our goodbye and good lucks.

Free at last! Good luck, my friend.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Florence Freedom

Sara and I have undertaken the very daunting task of pulling up the existing floors on our first floor and replacing them with hardwood. This task, although expected to be quite rewarding in the end, is very labor intensive. It has taken up pretty much all of the last two weekends and we are about half done. In an effort to reward the boys for their relatively good behavior during our home improvement project, we set out for a minor league baseball game last night ( The boys loved it. Parker had been to a game with his daycare class earlier this summer and had been asking to go back ever since. I highly recommend going if you live around here. Here are some pictures from our evening.

(UPDATE: After reviewing the picture above, although it appears as though Lleyton is smiling, I believe that if you enlarge the picture you will see that he is actually pinching himself to the point that it hurts. That is the reason for the exaggerated smile/grimace on his face.)

As much as the boys did love it, they were also anxious to get home after a few innings, because not a night can go by that we don't sit outside of each boy's room and do puzzles before reading books and signing off for the night. Here they are racing to the car (Parker's longer legs give him the advantage in foot races for the time being, but Lleyton isn't too far from catching him).

And here they are behaving very well while Mommy and Daddy work to install floors around them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Parker's Big Day

Today is the day we have been preparing Parker for for quite awhile, his first day of Kindergarten. When he woke up this morning he couldn't wait to get his clothes changed, teeth brushed and shoes on, as he knew that it was his big day. Here he was this morning posing with his brother and his newest pride and joy, his Spiderman backpack.

Sara and I met him at the school this afternoon so we could be there with him as he began his first day.

We were optimistic that he would enjoy his first day of school, but there is also that shadow of doubt that we had about how he was going to handle this new, more structured, setting. To our delight, he loved it!

We had the opportunity to meet his teacher this past Saturday, and she seems like she is going to be a very good fit for him. She too learned English as a second language around the age of 6, and in the short bit of time we were able to spend with her, she seemed to think he was doing very well picking it up. We agree. He is progressing so well in all aspects, not just language.

Here are a couple pictures of Parker as he officially enters into Kindergarten.

In wake of all of his incredibly good behavior as of late, we told him that tonight was the night to take a trip to the Ethiopian restaurant in Cincinnati. He had been yearning for injera since leaving Ethiopia, so it was quite enjoyable to take him. He asked Sara the other day if we had to fly back to Ethiopia to get injera, so I think he was pleasantly surprised that he could get injera in America. In fact, when we arrived at the restaurant this evening he asked me, almost in disbelief, "Injera in America?", and when I said yes, he got that oh so adorable little smile on his face. It was very cute.

Here he is feasting on the injera (and acting silly for the camera).

The restaurant we ate at was Emanu. It is run by an Ethiopian family and the food was fantastic. If I were a restaurant critic I would give it 4 stars. Our experience in Ethiopia with injera was not that great, so we were a little apprehensive about whether or not we would like this restaurant. We loved it. The staff was fantastic and the food far exceeded our expectations. Parker is dying to try the kitfo, so it looks like we will be heading back in the near future.

Check out their website

I must take a second of your time to praise Parker. He has been behaving incredibly well as of late. His teacher at daycare told me this afternoon when I picked him up that Parker has been the best behaved and biggest helper in the class over the last week. That is sweet music to my ears. I believe the technique we have so adamantly utilized of rewarding his good behavior is setting in. The 4 Star system that explained in a previous post has worked wonders.

I know end alot of posts with this, but here goes again.

Here's hoping the good behavior continues, it's alot more fun around here when he is behaving well.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Riding a wave of great behavior and saying goodbye to Lleyton's favorite teacher

Great teachers don't have to be many years removed from high school. We have learned this from Lleyton's favorite teacher, Miss Katie. Miss Katie is leaving the daycare center that Lleyton and Parker attend, en route for college. She will be greatly missed. Lleyton simply adores her, and for that, we think the world of her. She is just a couple months past her high school graduation, but that hasn't affected her ability to work with Lleyton and aid in his tremendous growth in the last 6 months.

Best of luck to Miss Katie, we are positive that she will succeed no matter what field she chooses to enter.

Onto Parker. We have been riding a wave of great behavior over the last couple of days. He had a rough day on Tuesday at daycare, so I went and picked him up early and took him home and was going to take him straight to his room and talk to him about his behavior. But, as has happened a couple of other times after misbehaving at daycare, by the time I arrived home with him, he was fast asleep in the car and slept through the night (not in the car of course). I suppose he just wears himself out when he is misbehaving at school and he is exhausted by the time I get him home.

Well, since that day, he has been perfect. Have we turned a corner and are our problems behind us, no, but I just had to acknowledge my little man's wonderful behavior over the past couple of days. I often write about our struggles, so I wanted to also write about our successes. My fingers are crossed that he is enjoying all of the positive attention he is getting from behaving so well.

School starts next Wednesday. It is a little difficult to grasp that this is the last weekend of Sara and I's lives for approximately the next 18 years at least, that we won't have a child that is in school.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


As our challenging times with Parker persist (although not as frequent as they had been), sometimes I have to slow down and think about how far our little guy has come in the couple of months since arriving home with us, and reflect on the change he has endured just over the last 4 months since moving from Kamashi to Addis to America.

Allow me to illustrate.

These are pictures from in and around Kamashi, where Parker grew up. (Thanks to Amy for taking these pictures for us during her trip to Kamashi)

This is a picture from inside of the orphanage that Parker moved into after we committed to welcoming him into our family.

Parker grabbing a front row seat to take in a soccer match between the older boys at the orphanage.

This is injera, which is a daily staple in the diets of Ethiopians. When I asked our driver in Ethiopia how often he eats injera, he said twice a day. The injera is actually the stuff that kind of resembles a dirty rag. The food in the bowl is what they accompany with the injera.

These images clearly depict the start contrast between his living conditions while in Kamashi and his living conditions now.

Although, in my opinion, the conditions are much better now, I am sure it remains a very tough adjustment considering all he ever knew is pictured above.

It is very interesting and exciting watching him grow more confident and comfortable right before our eyes. His grasp of the English language is coming right along too. We are so eager to hear from him about his life and experiences in Ethiopia.

When I asked him the other day if he had any brothers or sisters in Ethiopia, he told us he had an older brother named Abdi (but I think he may have misunderstood the question). But either way, it will be so helpful and intriguing to get to know him that much better after we break down that ever present language barrier.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Family Pictures

The inaugural family photo

Our boys

The entire Ritzmann family (it's getting harder to get everyone in one shot)


That's the number of teeth that Parker has left following his visit to the Children's Hospital on Saturday. We knew that Parker had extensive tooth decay when we first saw his pictures. Although we surmised that quite a bit of dental work needed to be done, we didn't know the extent of the problem. After a visit to the dentist chair shortly after we arrived home with him, our suspicions were confirmed. We decided it was in Parker's best interests to do all the dental work in one sitting at the hospital. This would limit his discomfort.

I am proud to say Parker handled his visit to the hospital like a champ. We were concerned with how he was going to react to all of the new sights and sounds of a hospital, but to our extreme delight, he did great. In the end, the doctor removed 9 teeth, and he was already missing 3, presumably they were lost or extracted while in Ethiopia. So he is down to 8.

Even without any front teeth, he is as handsome as ever.

Here's hoping that his permanent get a move on and come in soon.