Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas morning pictures.

  Here are the kids last night eagerly awaiting their traditional one Christmas Eve present from Sara and I, pajamas. 

The kids had a great Christmas.  Our festivities began last weekend with my family's gathering in Indy, continued yesterday with our annual pilgrimage to Kokomo to visit with Sara's family on Christmas Eve, and concluded today with a fun filled day here at home.  This year we were happy to be joined on Christmas morning by Grandma Susie and Papa Don.  The kids always get so excited to have them around.

Parker made sure that we didn't forget to put our cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer.

He was also quick to remind us to put the tray of flour outside of the front door so that we could track where Santa walked through the house.  He could hardly contain his excitement this morning when he woke up and peeked downstairs and saw these footprints.

Here are the very excited boys making their way downstairs to see what Santa had brought for them.

No Smarties necessary to get Addy to smile for this one...

...or this one.

Exuberance exemplified.

Santa never forgets Max.

Addy and one of her new babies.

Molly either wanted to be considered a Christmas present or simply couldn't find a way out from behind all of the packages.  Maybe a little of both.

Our little cowgirl. 

What boy wouldn't love a Buzz Lightyear Snuggie?

Can you remember being this excited?

Santa Claus visited our house overnight and by the looks of this video Parker as pretty happy with what jolly old St. Nick brought with him.

In case you didn't know, one of Parker's favorite daycare teachers moonlights as one of Santa's elves during the holidays, so he wants to be sure to include her in his thank you note to Santa.

We have had a busy, yet very enjoyable last couple of days and plenty of pictures were taken, it may take me a bit to get them uploaded and onto the blog. 

We hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The secret behind our Christmas card.

I rarely have an issue getting good pictures of Lleyton and Parker.  When the camera comes out they start shine.  The same can't be said for the Addster.  She is a diva in every sense of the word and much of the time she isn't too interested in smiling for pictures.  For that very reason Sara and I had put off taking pictures for our Christmas card until we could come up with a solution, a way that we could guarantee Addy would be smiling.

Before I let you in on our secret, allow me to show you the finished product.

She seems pretty happy does she not?  She's waving for the camera, smiling ear to ear looking genuinely excited to be having her picture taken. 

She was excited alright, but not because we were having a little photo session with her brothers.  Rather, she was excited because before and after each picture Sara was on Johnny-on-the-spot offering her one of her favorite treats, Smarties.  That's right, we bribed her to smile...and it worked!

Here are a few outtakes to prove it.  You can see either a mouthful of the tiny candies or Sara's hand kindly offering our little beauty payment in return for big smiles. 

She also smiles on command for spoonfuls of ice cream and M&M's, but we figured Smarties were the way to go on this evening, as the pictures just wouldn't have been the same had she had her face covered in ice cream or her hands covered in melted candy coating.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Family Christmas Gathering

With the weekend before Christmas also comes our Ritzmann family get together.  All of my siblings and nieces and nephews, along with my parents, gather either in Indianapolis or Lawrenceburg.  This year the extravaganza took place in Indy. 

It's always fun to have everyone together, hanging out, having fun, eating and drinking like kings and queens, and watching the kids enjoying spending time together. 

This year's gathering lived up to the hype.  The first stop was Saturday morning at my sister Emily's house.  She put together quite a brunch while  Lleyton served as the morning entertainment for his cousins.

The afternoon activity planned was for the whole family to be in attendance as the Stanford Cardinal faced off with the Butler Bulldogs at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.  What better way to excited for the big game than by watching Hoosiers.

After Jimmy Chitwood knocked down the game winner, we jumped in the cars and made our way down to Hinkle.  Everyone had a great time, but we certainly missed Addy and Sara who made the trip up to Kokomo on Saturday afternoon to visit with her mom and grandma. 

Lleyton enjoyed leading the cheers, unless those cheers became a bit too loud of course.  He also enjoyed posing for a few pictures outside of the house Sara lived in during her time at Butler.  Parker was on the edge of his seat while he watched the end of Hoosiers with Uncle Andy.

Thank goodness for family friendly venues like Hinkle, where they allow kids onto the floor after the game.  As you can probably tell, the kids had a blast running around the court, posing with the mascot and heaving up a couple of shots. 

Following the game we all made our way to my sister Megan's house for a delicious dinner and a evening full of good times, including the first annual Ritzmann Family Christmas White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Jason was more than willing to take charge of making sure the White Elephant rules were crystal clear.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Miracle Man

Three times in the past few months (twice in the past week) Sara has gotten the gut wrenching call that her grandpa was very sick and she should come home to see him. 

Three times he survived. 

To those closest to him, the past weeks and months exemplified who he was...a survivor...a fighter...a family man.  He was someone who was just never ready to leave his wife, or his kids, or his grandkids and great grandkids. 

It's no wonder the hospital employees that worked so diligently to help him defy the odds time and again nicknamed him the "Miracle Man" years ago. 

After countless battles with his health, it is with a very heavy heart that I type that this afternoon Grandpa Bob succumbed to the issues that have plagued him for well over a decade.

I didn't know Grandpa Bob in him prime, but I didn't need to know him  back then to understand how much he adored his family.  No matter how poorly he may have been feeling that day, when we visited he was always manning his spot on the couch with a smile on his face and pride in his eyes as he watched his great grand kids play around him.

Grandpa Bob was a fantastic guy  and I am thrilled to have gotten to know him over the years and we will cherish the pictures that we have of our kids spending time with him.

Please keep Sara and her family in your thoughts and prayers, especially Grandma Rena would said goodbye today to her husband of 63 years.

Grandpa Bob will be dearly missed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree.

Our quest for the perfect Christmas tree began last Sunday morning.  We had every intention of beginning a new family tradition of taking the kids to cut down a tree, but the ridiculously cold morning quickly put off that tradition for at least another year.  We resorted to old faithful, Lowes.  To our surprise and Addy's chagrin (she is not digging the cold weather), we were unable to find an acceptable tree there, so we packed the kids in the car and headed over to Home Depot.  After a brief search we found what we were looking for and quickly nabbed it and made our way to the car. 

In an effort to keep the family warm, I had them get in the car while I hearkened back to my Cub Scout days and tied the tree to the top of the car.  All was going well until it dawned upon me that I had secured the tree to the top of the car without realizing that I had also tied the doors shut.  I'm not the smallest of guys, so climbing through the window wasn't an option, so I swallowed my pride and recruited the help of another shopper who was kind enough to hold back audible laughter while closing the back hatch behind me as I gracefully made my way through the car.  

Here I am attempting to navigate my way through a car that isn't necessarily built to accommodate a man of my size climbing through it.

Addy, who was still pretty upset that we took her outside in frigid temperatures, was none too happy about my little mishap with the doors.

I am happy to report that we did make it home with the tree still intact, and after Sara gracefully climbed through her window and retrieved a scissors and successfully freed the rest of us, the tree was erected in our living room.

Due to Sara's travel this week, and a few other things going on, we weren't able to decorate the tree until yesterday.  I had tried to do my best to keep the tree watered over the past few days, but it seemed to be drying out.   With that revelation Sara sprang into action and came up with the good idea to take the tree out of the stand and cut off an inch or so of the bottom, allowing the tree to take in more water.

Three types of saws and a about a half gallon of water on our hardwood floors later, the project was completed and the tree was back in the house.

Decorating the tree was a bit of an adventure, as we had to deal with a very persistent ornament caper.  You can probably pick out the picture taken right after she was caught red-handed.

Thanks to our resident sticky fingers, ornaments on our tree begin about three feet off the ground.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

School lunch.

It's no wonder Parker has nearly doubled in size over the last year and a half. 

On the way home from school yesterday Parker told Sara what he ate for lunch. 

How's this for a well-rounded menu:

French fries
Soft Pretzel
Chocolate milk

June 2009

December 2010

European Vacation

Sara and I were both thinking the same thing after last week's announcement that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup...European Vacation! 

We have 8 years to win the lottery and/or save up enough money to get the whole family on a plane so that we can be in Samara as the world looks on during the most popular event on the globe.

To sit in this stadium along the banks of the Volga river (which happened to be frozen each time we were there) with Lleyton, Parker, and Addy would be a dream come true. 

Sara and I fell in love with Russia and Ethiopia during our visits there, and we would love to be able for our kids to say the same.

Eight years seems like ample time to make this happen. 

Are you in Lopers?

Mr. Mom: The Abridged Version

Mr. Mom is back.

Sara, being the jet setting corporate woman she is, is off to the great state of Texas for a couple of days and I must have passed the test last time she left because she didn't call in any reinforcements (that I know of) to help with the kids.

Our evening activities have yet to be planned, and I like to blame that on the extremely cold temperatures outside, notsomuch my concern that I am still not up to taking all three kids somewhere solo.  Last time I was Mr. Mom we successfully made our way to Jump Zone for an evening of fun and frolic, but we are little over budget on Jump Zone expenditures this year after Lleyton's extravaganza last weekend.

Here's hoping that the kids are as well behaved this time as they were the last, and if they're not I have my ace in the hole...Sara's cell phone number.  For one reason or another, if I get upset with Parker he doesn't seem to care.  In fact, when I get most upset with him he laughs at me (which is frustrating beyond belief).  But if Sara is upset with him he wilts.  Typically, even the threat of a phone call to mom makes him straighten up immediately.  No phone calls needed to be made last time we had the house to ourselves, so I am not planning on any this time either. 

If you need me tomorrow night, I will be busy frantically trying to clean up the messes that myself and the kids will undoubtedly be making over the next couple of nights. 

Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More fun birthday pictures...

Lleyton had a great day yesterday.  It was very nice to have such a great turnout for his party, especially with the inclement weather. 

A special thanks to Grandma Susie and Papa Don for trekking through the snow from Kokomo and bringing cousin Tanner along with them.

The same goes for Grandpa Paul who also drove down from Kokomo.

While I am on a roll thanking those that drove so far to be with our little man on his birthday, thanks to Uncle Jason for bringing Nick, Drew, and Claire from Indianapolis, and it is always fun to have Aunt Emily and Uncle Andy in town as well.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Calling all Superheros...

Lleyton turned 4 today. 

We celebrated the big day with a party for our little man at one of his favorite places, Jump Zone.  He was joined by four of his cousins a number of his friends from daycare for a fun filled couple of hours.  Sara has been working on his party for a couple of weeks now, and   there is no turning back when she gets an idea in her head and runs with it. 

Here is a sampling of what she made for the party.

The party turned out great.  Lleyton and his friends were bouncing off of the walls the entire time, and it was quite enjoyable to watch.

The theme for his birthday last year was garbage trucks, and a year later he still loves everything about the behemoth refuse collectors, so what better gift for Sara and I to get him than Stinky the Garbage Truck.  By the looks of this picture, I think he and Stinky are going to get along very well.

Where have the last three years gone? 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lleyton's message to Roman.

Lleyton's buddy Roman is celebrating his 4th birthday tomorrow, two days before our little man, and he wanted to send Roman happy birthday wishes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NKY family gathering.

Friends of ours graciously opened up their house this evening to host a gathering of local Ethiopian adoptive families. 

Lleyton was excited to see Liya. 

Addy enjoyed getting to hang out with a number of new friends.

How about this for a handsome group of kids.

Thanks so much to Helen and Ben for having us over.  As is always the case, the food was to die for, and the company was great as well.  Hopefully this will be the first of many gatherings for this group.

Homemade donuts.

In order to reduce the chaos that can at times take over our house on the weekends, we try to plan an activity or two that we can do with the kids that will both keep them occupied and entertain them. 

We stumbled upon this morning's activity while reading one of our favorite blogs last night.  Megan, who keeps us laughing and has been a source of quite a bit of good insight and ideas regarding sensory issues over at Millions of Miles, let us in on a recipe for homemade donuts and Sara gave it a shot this morning. 

Along with being delicious, they are very simple to make.  The best part of the activity was that Lleyton enjoyed the finished product, which is saying something because it is always a challenge to get him to eat.

On the other hand, it is not difficult to get Addy and Parker to eat their fair share, and this morning was no different.  Parker inhaled his chocolate glazed creation quicker than I could get the camera to capture his enjoyment, but Sara was able to catch up with Addy before she was able to finish hers.

Nothing brings a bigger smile this young lady's face than a delightful sweet treat.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Future EMT.

I have been compiling a list in my head of various professions that Lleyton has either showed interest in or that I think he would really excel at and a new one jumped to the top of that list this evening as I watched our little man resuscitate his newest toy.


Sara and I have countless things to be thankful for, but nothing more than these three.

(Lleyton was putting on a show this morning while listening to Raffi and acting like he was riding a huge wave.)