Friday, April 30, 2010

Heading south for a few days.

Tomorrow morning we are loading up the kids and heading south.  We aren't driving all the way to Florida, but we are driving to Lexington to hop onto a flight bound for Orlando. 

Tomorrow is the day we have been waiting for.  Parker is lying in bed right now having a hard time going to sleep because he is so excited.  Lleyton has been asking for weeks, "We go to Disney World today?"

After we arrive in Orlando tomorrow and get settled in and probably take a quick dip in the pirate ship themed pool (see below), we are going to meet up with the family that we traveled to Ethiopia with.  They adopted one of Parker's best friends.  It should be a very cool reunion, Park is as excited to see Derartu as he is to see Mickey Mouse. 

Sara and I are both totally new to the Disney experience, so we don't really know what we are in for, but we have a couple of books and some recommendations from friends on what to do.  Our plans include a day at the Magic Kingdom (of course), a day at the Animal Kingdom, and a birthday dinner for Sara on Monday night at T Rex, a dinosaur themed restaurant that the boys are sure to love. 

As I described it to a friend this afternoon via email, I think we are in for a very fun/interesting/exhausting/expensive trip.  Did I miss anything? 

I will have the camera in hand at every turn, so hopefully I can snap a few memorable shots. The one shot I hope not to get is Lleyton tackling Mickey, as he is pretty excited to meet the man/mouse he has grown to enjoy each morning before school. 

So our big day is just one sleep away.  Now if I can only remember to grab Lleyton's leash/harness before leaving the house. I would like for him to make it home with us on Tuesday, and the leash may be the only way of assuring that happens. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First time for everything.

That is not a Mazda ad. 
That is our driveway. 

Yesterday evening Sara and I officially became the first couple in history to drive the same car.
I am not kidding, we both drive the same car. 

 Late last summer Sara traded her really cool SUV for the more family friendly Mazda 5.  Although the car doesn't look nearly a cool as her last car, we found it to be extremely practical and affordable.  A match made in heaven.  

We decided the other day that my car probably wasn't going to work after Baby Sister arrives home (that was confirmed by the car seat test we performed a couple of nights ago). 

So our options were the following:
SUV w/ 3rd row
Mazda 5
Chrysler Pacifica
Dodge Journey

Our criteria were practical, affordable, and relatively easy on gas.  Although unprecedented and unheard of, our decision was easy, Mazda 5's for everyone.

Be honest, have you ever known a couple to drive the same car?

I kind of like leading what could be a new trend for consumers everywhere.  So all of you out there that like your spouse's car more than yours but have been unable buy the same car, feel free to follow our lead (please).

Zoom Zoom.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dispute resolution

Lleyton and Parker get along wonderfully.  Even with that being true, they also have their fair share of disagreements.  Most of those stem from one playing with a ball that the other considers his own. 

This weekend, Sara decided to try to implement a new solution for dispute resolution.  The plan was to have each boy guess a number between 1 and 10 and whichever boy was closer to the number Sara had in her head, he would come out on top and be awarded the ball. 

Sounds simple. 

Here's how it went:

Sara:  Parker, pick a number between 1 and 10.
Parker: Four.
Sara: Lleyton, pick a number between 1 and 10.
Lleyton: Popcorn.

Other Lleyton guesses included:  pinky, 22nd

I couldn't make this stuff up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Never say never.

I have always said that we would never be the parents that put a leash (harness) on our children.  With our trip to Disney World rapidly approaching I had to change my tune.  Keeping Lleyton in our sights while he is busy trying to tackle every character in the Magic Kingdom seemed like a rather daunting task.  Hence, the leash.

He loves it!  The doggie on his back is his newest best friend.  He took a nap with it today.  He wears it around the house.  It is a match made in heaven.

He may call it his best friend, I call it a necessary evil. 

The leash should really make our lives easier and more enjoyble during our upcoming trip.  It should also make the trip for Lleyton more enjoyable as well because we won't have to ask him to sit in a stroller, which usually doesn't go over very well anymore. 

I must admit that I have made a complete 180 on my thoughts about the child harness/leash (and we haven't even used it yet).  When you have a little man like Lleyton, it is almost a must to employ the services of a such a device, especially when visiting a place like Disney World.

I can't wait to be able to report back on how effective Lleyton's new best friend ends up being. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy anniversary Parker!

I have legally been the father of two boys for one year as of today.  Along with the arrival of April 21st last year, also came the surprise phone call that we had passed court and Parker was officially our son.   We had been told our court date was April 23rd, so to pass two days early was a very pleasant surprise. 

The last year has been a whirlwind.  From the excitement we felt a year ago, to the desperation we felt a few months later, to the pride we feel today, our emotions have gone from one end of the spectrum and back. 

Happy anniversary Parker!  Your mommy and I are so pleased that you have adjusted as well as you have after those first months.  You are an incredible little man and I can't imagine life without you. 

I love you buddy!

Lelesa Belay in Ethiopia

Parker Lelesa Belay Ritzmann now

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ladies man and momma's boy

Many times as Sara and I sit back and reflect on our days after the boys have retired to bed we end up wondering what Lleyton is going to be like in future. 

The kid is nothing short of a ladies man and he is still about 7 months shy of his 4th birthday.

On the way out of daycare each day he waves at all of his girls, he stops to hug a select few (ranging in age from 2 to 22), he makes it a point to go into one of the younger girl's rooms so that he can say goodbye to her individually, and he isn't shy about giving out compliments such as "I like your hair."  The kid is a ridiculous.  We are going to have our hands full with him. 

It's like he already knows what the girls want to hear, and he doesn't hesitate to tell them. 

He may have many ladies wrapped around his finger, but one stands above the rest...his Mommy.  One perfect example happened yesterday evening while he was acting up a bit.  Lleyton sometimes doesn't have the best "listening ears" and last night might have been one of those nights.  He was doing something that Sara didn't think was appropriate so she continued to tell him to stop doing whatever he was doing.  After a couple instructions seemed to go in one ear and out the other, she moved in closer so that she could pick him up and make sure he understood what was expected of him.  Before she got to him he stopped in her tracks by saying, "Mommy, I'm sure happy you're my mommy."

How does he know to do that? 

Sara isn't usually that easy, but Lleyton has her right where he wants her. 

Although she more than willingly accepted his very sweet compliment, she also got her point across that he needs to turn those listening ears on and keep them on. 

This whole concept of having Sara wrapped around his finger didn't just happen recently, it seemed from the moment he met her he knew exactly how to sweet talk her, even when he couldn't talk.  Here are a few pictures of Gorsha (Lleyton's name before he became Lleyton) in the orphanage laying the groundwork from the very beginning.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Today was a day we had really been looking forward to for quite awhile.  A couple of months back Sara was listening to the radio while driving home and heard a local radio station advertising that they were giving away free tickets to Sesame Street's Elmo Live show.  Rarely does a promotion like that peak our interest, but this one did due to Lleyton's formerly undying love for Elmo (for a very long time Elmo was his #1, now he is probably #5 or #6, behind the likes of Tom, Jerry, Dora, Diego, Mickey).  So Lleyton and I took the radio station up on their offer and picked up two tickets to this evening's show, hence the Guys Night Out.  

Elmo and his crew did not let us down, they put on quite a show.  I won't lie and say we saw the entire performance, as Lleyton's attention span just isn't to that point yet, but we loved we did see.

While Lleyton and I took in the show, Parker and Sara had Date Night.  The night consisted of a nice dinner at Olive Garden, a quick trip through the mall, and then home to decorate cupcakes.  Of course, as is the case whenever Sara and Parker are out and about together without Lleyton and myself, Park was a perfect gentleman. 

He opened doors for Sara. 
He put his napkin in his lap. 
He said please and thank you. 
He was a perfect date (not surprisingly).

Here is the good looking couple.

Parker was very proud of his cupcake creations. 

Best friends.

How cool is this kid?

Thursday, April 15, 2010


We could officially become a family of five on May 7th. 

We have quite a bit on tap between now and then, including a trip to Disney World, so I am sure time will fly by.

This will be the first court hearing for our agency with a child from Baby Sister's orphanage, so let's hope our case sets a very strong precedent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Mixer truck just shoot me!"

Nothing excites Lleyton more than construction vehicles (except maybe firetrucks), which makes the house going up across the street a hot topic of conversation each day when the boys wake up and look out the window to see what is going on.  Usually in the morning Lleyton casually strolls into our bedroom to catch an episode of Handy Manny or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Parker.

Today was different.

Lleyton has been eagerly awaiting the return of the cement mixer, so he was far from disappointed when he glanced out the window just in time to see the spinning drum of what he affectionately calls a Huge Mixer about to unload. 

Neighbors far and wide could probably hear him yelling, "MOMMY! DADDY! PARKER! MIXER TRUCK! MIXER TRUCK! COME SEE MIXER TRUCK!"

So of course we all ran as quickly as we could into his room, so as not to miss a minute of the action. 

He loved what he saw...until Sara said, "Lleyton, look at the cement coming down the schute."  With which he quickly responded, "Shoot?  It shoot me?  No shoot me!"

This is when he grabbed his chest and proceeded to fall to the ground saying, "Mixer truck just shoot me.  I die."  (Gotta love the things he picks up at daycare.)

After picking himself up off of the ground, he proceeded to yell out his window to the neighbor's dog, "Watch out doggie, mixer truck going to shoot you!   Mixer truck no shoot doggie!"

It was priceless (other than the "I die" part).

Construction has only been going on for about a week or two, so there is a long way to go.  Plenty of fun days of watching a house get built across the street.  Ten years ago (heck...3 years ago) I wouldn't have thought twice while driving past a house under construction, now it is one of the highlights of my day.  If we could only find someone to buy the lot next door to us and build a house. 

I will try to keep track of which construction vehicles the boys like best and report back.  My guess is there won't be anything they enjoy more than the Huge Mixer, but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My thoughts on the Russian child abandoned by his mother.

I, like everyone else, was shocked to hear of the 7 year old boy that arrived back in Moscow last week with little other than a note from his adoptive mother in Tennessee saying she couldn't handle him any longer. 

The story saddens me on many levels, as Sara and I have a fairly unique perspective having both adopted from Russia and adopted an older child that we had a very difficult time adjusting with over the first few months home. 

I grieve mostly for the boy.  What could he be thinking right now?  He may have behavioral issues.  He may be unstable, but that shouldn't sentence him to a life without a family to love him and help him deal with and cope with whatever issues he may be facing.  I hope that his story can somehow have a happy ending, but at the same time I have my doubts that will happen. 

On some level, I feel for the adoptive mother.  By no means do I condone what she did, I think it is entirely wrong.  But I can sympathize with her to a certain extent, knowing that she must have felt she had no other option (she had plenty of other options, but her mind to think of those other options must have been completely absent of rational thought).  We had a very difficult time dealing with Parker's behavioral issues after arriving home with him.  It was nothing short of the most challenging, frustrating, maddening, and difficult time in my life.  I am certain she had gone through the same emotions, seemingly to a much greater extent.  

Adopting from Russia is no simple task.  Each parent that goes through it has to be 100% committed to it just to get through the paperwork, only then to be greeted by 100 different hoops you must jump through before being able to bring your child home.  I can imagine the mother was just as excited as we were when we went to visit Lleyton in Russia for the first time.  She had completed the tough part and was ready to start enjoying the fruits of all of time, effort, and money she had put into the process.   The joy that she had anticipated obviously never came to fruition, and for that I feel for her.  That being said, every adoptive parent, especially one adopting an older child, along with being excited about the future needs to be educated and prepared for the perils that possibly lie ahead after bringing your child home.  She clearly wasn't prepared, which led to doing the unthinkable last week and sending the child unaccompanied back to Russia. 

It's easy to judge from afar, as I am casting judgement over this woman for what she did and I also think it is shameful that the boy's grandmother didn't help her daughter find another option.  Both of their actions were wrong (understatement).

Last and not least, I feel for those going through the process to adopt from Russia right now and in the future (especially good friends of ours that have been waiting for far too long to bring home a little girl from Russia).  These are the people that could feel the ramifications of this one woman's selfish actions.  As I said before, Russia is a difficult place to adopt from, and after an incident like this it may only become more difficult.  There has been talk of a freeze on Russian adoptions to Americans, but I hope/think that talk may be cooling down for the time being. 

The actions of this one woman could cast a dark shadow over Americans adopting internationally in the eyes of many overseas, but that is something that adoptive parents like us have the ability to deal with.  I'm not too worried about that.  I am worried about how this young boy's future will be affected by the actions of this woman.  I will hold out hope that someday I will read an article about how this story led him to be introduced to a family that loved him and accepted him for who he was.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


As previously reported, Parker's license to drive was suspended following the unfortunate accident that resulted in a bloody nose for Lleyton a few weeks ago.  Thanks to Grandma Susie and Grandpa Don's presence this weekend, and some beautiful weather, Park had the chance to have his license reinstated. 

I wasn't ready to allow him to drive again without going through some sort of Drivers Education class, so Saturday afternoon, with the the help of Don and his uncanny ability to whistle, we staged such a class.

The class was held in the backyard.  The task was to navigate the course without crashing into the fence, the swingset, or anything else, all while listening intently for Don's whistle, which meant to stop immediately. 

We started off with the Jeep in low gear, which equates to going a little faster than a crawl, but we quickly kicked it into high gear to see how he would handle it.  I am happy to report that Parker passed with flying colors.  He hit nothing.  Lleyton came away unscathed and, not surprisingly, I have pictures to prove it.

Take note how focused Park was during the class.  He was very intent on getting his license back. 

He even took some time to teach Lleyton how to properly drive.

Thanks to Grandpa Don (more affectionately known as Papa Don) for helping make the Drivers Ed class a huge success, if only I could learn to whistle as well as he does.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Coming to terms with Monday night.

Monday night was incredible.

I don't really know how to describe the scene, as it still seems a bit surreal that we were in Lucas Oil Stadium watching the Butler Bulldogs play the Duke Blue Devils for a national championship.    Sara and I were both so nervous throughout the entire game that we hardly spoke a word to each other.  I think I may have even stopped breathing for about the last 33 seconds of the game. 

As we were walking out of the stadium in disbelief of what we almost witnessed, the silence lingered.  We were amongst a very large group of people patiently waiting to climb aboard an escalator to leave the building when I said to Sara, "He almost hit that shot.", referring to Gordon Hayward's last second half-courter.

She was quiet for a moment and looked at me and said, "I don't think I am ready to talk about it yet."

It's still not a hot topic of conversation in this household.  Sara is sitting by me right now as I type this and has yet to come to terms with it.  She hasn't seen a replay of the shot, she hasn't made her daily visit to, she just isn't ready yet. 

I can't imagine ever being at a better game, ever being at a game that means so much to me, ever being at a game that means so much to Sara.  I lived and died with every possession.  My hands shook from the moment the ref through up the ball for the opening tipoff. 

I was at the 2002 national championship game in Atlanta when the Hoosiers played and it was nothing compared to this.  I walked out of that game and hardly gave it another thought.  I can't say the same about Monday night. 

It was incredible.

Thank you to the Brad Stevens and his Butler Bulldogs.  Thank you to Gordon Hayward.  That kid is a stud.  Speaking of Gordon, I think my buddy JB may have said it best in a text he sent minutes after Gordon almost made the shot every kid dreams of making:

"Hope that kid realizes he just took a couple million people on the ride of their lives."

Count me in as one of those couple million people.

Thanks for the ride fellas.  Because of you, what would have otherwise been a pretty tough March was quickly turned into the most memorable March of our lives.  We owe you one.


Another aspect of Monday's events was that we were able to meet up with some great friends.  It was really cool to get to see some folks that we don't often get to hang with. 

Here is Sara with her friends, and fellow Butler alums, Sara and Kate.  Not only are Sara and Kate great friends when Butler is in the Final Four, but they have also been such strong supporters of Sara and I during our difficult wait for Baby Sister.  Thank you ladies.  We feel very fortunate to have friends like you.  Now if we all could only live a bit closer together. 

JB, Brian and I enjoying a couple pregame libations before heading over to see if Duke can make a game of it.

Sara and I were able to set aside our nervousness at halftime just long enough to pose for a quick picture. 

One last thing, we need to send a very special shout out and thank you to Grammy, who graciously obliged when I asked if she could watch the boys for the evening while Sara and I supported the Dawgs. 

Thank you Mom.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The good news I was hoping to report yesterday had to wait one more day, but it was worth it...

Baby Sister's paperwork has been completed and submitted to court!

What does this mean?  It means that all of the necessary paperwork that needed to be completed in order to take the next step towards finalizing this adoption has been completed.  Upon completion, it was submitted to the court in Ethiopia and we should soon be given a court date.  The court date is the day that the judge reviews the paperwork, interviews all necessary individuals, and ultimately grants our adoption. 

This is the news we have been waiting on for six months.  We couldn't be more excited about this transpiring. 

As many of you know, we weren't sure this day was going to happen, but now it has.  THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of your encouragement and prayers during this difficult stretch.  Sara and I are so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people. 


You may be wondering what PF Chang's has to do with any of this...

Allow me to explain.  While Sara was enjoying a nice lunch last week with a couple of her coworkers she cracked open her fortune cookie to find this:

Not long after finishing her always delicious meal we got word from our adoption agency that the paperwork had been indeed completed and our relationship with the baby girl we love in Ethiopia was one step closer to becoming permanent.   How did Chang know that?

It's just another reason we like that restaurant so much (along with the lettuce wraps, Chang's Spicy Chicken, Chicken Fried Rice, and the Great Wall of Chocolate).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Holidays are exhausting.

Happy Easter.  We hope everyone had a great day.

We had a full day of fun here at our house, so both boys are already fast asleep and I may not be too far behind. 

But before I retire for the evening, I want to share some pictures from our first, and hopefully only, Easter as a family of 4. 

The Easter Bunny wasn't messing around this year. 

Parker was clearly excited to see his basket.

Lleyton has yet another new best friend.

After rummaging through their baskets and grabbing some breakfast, the boys settled in to watch Parker's new movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

This afternoon was our first annual Ritzmann Family Easter Extravaganza, which was highlighted by the Easter Egg Hunt.  I am hoping the hiding spots will get a bit more difficult in the years to come.

Parker was awarded huge points for his sportsmanship. 

Not surprisingly, Lleyton lost a bit of focus towards the end of the extravaganza and opted to spend some time on the swing while Parker found the remainder of the eggs.  Smart move on Lleyton's part, knowing that we were going to divide the eggs evenly at the end, so why not let Park do all of the work while he enjoyed a leisurely head first swing.

Each egg had one of two things in it, chocolate or money.  Lleyton's couldn't have cared much less about the chocolate, he was it in for the money, or as he likes to call it, monies.  By the looks of this, he may be interested in following in Daddy and Pops footsteps and joining the cast of characters at UCB someday. 

We're in!

That didn't take long.  I got a text last night after the Duke game saying we have two tickets secured for tomorrow night's finale.  Thanks to JB and Nicole and Brian and Kim for securing the tickets.  We are looking forward to being in the house when the Dawgs cut down the nets. 

I also have the priviledge of attending Reds Opening Day tomorrow against the Cards at Great American Ballpark. 

Should be a good day, and that doesn't even include the great adoption news I am hoping to be able to report tomorrow!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Not sure if you saw it, but the Bulldogs are playing for a national championship on Monday.

We would love to be at the game on Monday night.  I was at the national championship game in 2002 in Atlanta to see the Hoosiers lose a lead in the last four minutes to the Terrapins of Maryland, so I think it would only be right if we made every attempt to be there on Monday so that Sara can witness her Dawgs play for what would be a very improbable national championship.

I will report back about whether or not we were able to find reasonable tickets.  Our fingers are crossed.

I wish we were outside of Lucas Oil Stadium right now, as I am sure tickets are pretty easy to come by as the Michigan State fans try to get back to East Lansing as quickly as possible.

Go Bulldogs. 

Butler Bulldogs

As tip-off rapidly approaches, the boys are gearing up for the big game. 

Go dogs!

Thanks to Grandma Susie for the very sharp Butler shirts.  The boys love them.

(Part of Lleyton's therapy includes wearing these ankles weights while at home. In my opinion, they go very nicely with his stylish Butler shirt and everpresent Elmo ball.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Doggie Heaven

I can remember it like was was Christmas morning 1992. My brother and sisters and I had finished rummaging through our stockings as we headed up the stairs to see what Santa had brought for us. As we entered the living room, we could hear that something was special about this Christmas, one of Emily's presents was barking. She scurried over to a picnic basket that was amongst her other gifts and found what turned out to be the best present she ever received, a dog. It took her about one minute to name her new best friend...

Suzy Jasmine Raja Ritzmann

Fast forward 17 years...17 good years. That is how long Suzy was with us. She lived the first 15 years of her life to the fullest, spending plenty of quality time living the college life in Bloomington with Emily, always enjoying a good car ride, nibbling on anything willing to be nibbled on, all the while maintaining that sweet disposition that was present through each day of her long life. Over the last couple of years, her health failed her, but that didn't stop her from being the same old Suzy, eagerly finding her way onto my mom and dad's bed at night, comfortably sleeping the days away on her doggie bed and favorite blanket, sniffing out the nearest peanut butter treat, and always enjoying a warm lap to sit on.

I can just see her now, running around in heaven, able to see and hear again.

See you on the flipside Suz. We will miss you.