Sunday, December 18, 2011

20 minutes + 180 pictures + 1 potty training accident + 4 antlers = Christmas Card

Last Monday night we set out to make our annual Christmas card.  Not unlike last year's card, we got off to late start on putting together our annual mailing, but we were hopeful that the kids would come through with at least a few good pictures that we could send out to family and friends. 

They didn't disappoint.

As the title of post would indicate, we took alot of pictures in a little bit of time.  The majority of them were more comical than frame-worthy, but I was pleasantly surprised to see we did have a handful of gems. 

Below are a few of the non-card worthy outtakes. 

What the title might also indicate is that Addy is now potty training.  Monday was her first full day of no diapers, and she had done remarkably well...that is until just after the picture taking was wrapped up and a major clean-up was called for.  We were thankful that she at least waited until we got a few great pictures taken before rendering her Christmas card outfit unwearable.

Here's the finished product...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Parker questions the man himself...Santa Claus.

Parker's inquisitive nature (aka obsession with asking questions) has been well documented on this blog.  From the moment he could speak understandable English he has been busy asking questions. 

Endless questions. 

Some good, some bad, some funny, some hilarious. 

With that being true I shouldn't have been too surprised when I got the chance to see the letter that he recently sent to Santa.  To our delight, jolly old St. Nick responsded to Parker's letter and sent back Park's original letter so that he can hang onto it .  In his letter to Parker, Santa even noted how many questions our ever-inquisitive son asked. 

The following letter made my week. 

As you will see, he had plenty of questions on his mind when he wrote this.

Some good, some bad, some funny, some hilarious.


(For those not as adept at reading the handwriting of an 8 year old, I have provided an abridged version below the pictures)

Dear Santa,
Hi Santa.  I have a ton of questions.
Is Rudolph real?
Are you real?
What's your reindeers' favorite food?
Do you ever die?
Is there an elf named Alison?  If I know, do not fire her.
When I grow up can I be an elf?
Are you magic?
Can your reindeer fly?
How many elves do you have?
How do you make toys?
Did anybody shoot you before?
Has anybody seen you before?
How old are you?
Did you ever fall off a roof?
Is the North Pole cool?
Is it fun?
What's the elves favorite food?
How old is Mrs. Claus?
Is the workshop cool or fun?
How old do you have to be an elf?
Is there a guard at the North Pole?
Do you eat steak?

There you have it...22 thought provoking questions for Santa.  I personally can't help but laugh each time I read them, especially the last one. 

Hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

6 months down.

How many more to go? 
Hopefully we are nearing the half way point of our wait. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lleyton's day at the office.

Last week our little guy had his annual check-up with his cardiologist, which meant he had to lay very still during the tests they run.  If you have spent any time with Lleyton or just know him through this blog, you probably already know that sitting still isn't his strong suit.  With that being true, Sara came up with the fantastic idea of promising him a very nice reward if he hung in there and made the doctors job easy during his appointment. 

What was the reward you might ask?

A trip to the office to hang with me.  The idea stemmed from Lleyton unearthing a suit in his closet that was handed down to him by his cousin Tanner.  So after successfully completed the tasks required of him at the Children's Hospital, Sara and her mom brought the little man over so he could "work" with daddy.  And work he did...

He closed a deal or two by wowing imaginary customers with his over the phone sales skills.

He helped out around the office, including making sure the copier made clear copies of hand.

He even got a chance to head upstairs and join Pop in his office.

He impressed everyone with his boyish good looks and sweet disposition.  Thus, I'm pretty sure he's welcome back at the office anytime.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An afternoon to remember!

Yesterday afternoon Parker and my dad and I had a very unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the Cincinnati Bengals...and we took full advantage of it.  With the Bengals being my all-time favorite team in any sport, it would suffice to say I was like a kid in a candy store. 

We arrived at the stadium and were invited out to the practice field to watch the guys go through a practice preparing for what Marvin Lewis told us later in the day will be the biggest game he has coached in his 9 years as Bengals coach.    We spent about an hour watching practice before heading into the stadium for lunch in the visitors locker room followed by a trip onto the field.

Here is Parker with Bengals running back Cedrick Benson.  Right after this picture was taken, Parker looked down at Ced's arm in amazement and said to him, "Are those tattoos?!"  Ced politely responded that yes, they are in fact tattoos. 

Here's Park with his favorite player AJ Green in the background. 

Parker spent much of the time we were on the practice field playing with a couple of boys that were also there and with one Bengal was took quite a bit of time to toss the ball around with them. 

#46 on your roster, #1 in our hearts, Clark Harris.

Clark even gave Parker his gloves as we were leaving practice.

Here's Parker checking to make sure Rey is going to be good-to-go this Sunday.

Parker and Domata Peko.

Parker and Nate Clements.

Although we didn't get Parker's picture with him, Andy Dalton came in to talk with us as well. 

Twas an unbelievable experience. 

Who Dey!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interview with Lleyton

Yesterday afternoon I sat our little man down (after pausing Transformers, of course) for an's a look into Lleyton's world.

How old are you today? 5

What is your favorite food? Ummm…..(distracted by Transformers) Ummm…(distracted by golf) I can’t remember.

What is your favorite thing to do? Play with the choo choo train track (which happens to be exactly what he was doing when I called him over for the interview)

Who is your best friend? Landon Walker

If you could pick where we went on vacation, where would it be? The new museum (speaking of the museum we went to last week to see the train display)

What do you like most about Parker? I like playing with him.

What do you like most about Addy? I like to…play with her.

What is the first thing you would like to teach Camden? I would like to teach him how to go down the steps on the playhouse.

Where does Camden live right now? In Korea!

If you could meet one person in the whole world who would it be? Daddy and mommy.

If you could have one superpower what would it be? Optimus Prime.

Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible? I wish I could fly. Because it’s cool…you will land on the ground and fly forever and you can sleep in trees.

What is your favorite subject at school? I like playing with Legos.

Who is your hero? Superman and Batman and Spiderman

Where were you born? In Russia!

How old am I (meaning me, Dad)? 10 bucks

How old is mommy? 7, because 7 is older than 5.

What is your favorite color? Red and black and white.

What is one thing you would like everyone to know about you? I want them to know I am Lleyton George Ritzmann.

What is your favorite restaurant? Walmart.

What is your favorite place to eat? Beef O’Brady’s

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Batman (Lleyton) turned 5!

Lleyton is convinced he is Batman, which I have a difficult time disagreeing with sometimes, especially when he is donning the Batman cape that Sara made him for his birthday and flying through the house.  Today was Batman's big day, that is unless you believed what he was telling everyone leading up to today, that he was already 5.  I have a Russian birth certificate that says otherwise. 

Our little guy woke up this morning and came down the stairs to find a new tradition, balloons hanging in his honor, each hiding a surprise inside. 

After popping each balloon and feeding his piggy bank with what was inside, it was time to belly up the table for Sara's soon-to-be-famous birthday cake pancakes covered in a sugary glaze.

Along with the delicous pancakes, Sara also stepped up her game when it came to the little man's birthday cake(s).   Being that Lleyton loves trucks of all kinds, we figured he would love nothing more than a birthday cake in a dumptruck, hence Sara put together this gem...

Although Lleyton was very excited to see the cake, to our surprise he said he didn't want to eat it because it was dirty.  I guess the "dirt" cake came together a little too well. 

Onto Plan B, I threw Lleyton and Addy into the car and headed off to the grocery store to pick up the makings for another fantastic cake.  Lleyton's favorite candy cake...

That's a cake wrapped in Kit Kats and topped with M&Ms.  Could there be anything better?  Lleyton didn't think so.

Grandma Susie and Grammy and Pop joined us for dinner at Lleyton's favorite restaurant before we came back home for the cake and ice cream. 

All-in-all, I think our little Batman had a great day, and his brother and sister seemed just as thrilled to celebrate it with him.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

A busy, yet enjoyable Thanksgiving Day is coming to an end.  We had the pleasure of hosting Grandma Susie and Papa Don this year at our house, and everything came together quite well.  If you need us during the dinner hour over the next week or so you can surely catch us at home eating scrumptious leftovers from today's feast.

The day started off quite early, as both boys were, for some unknown reason, awake prior to the clock striking 6am.  Maybe they got Thanksgiving and Christmas confused, or maybe that's just what happens when they sleep in the same room when we have company stay the night. 

We tuned into the the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning  just in time for Lleyton to be awed by his best superhero friend, Spiderman.

We did our best to put together an extensive menu that featured many staples (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans), but was also highlighted by a couple new items, not the least of which was Parker and Sara's apple crescent roll dessert that wowed each of us that had room enough left to give it try.  Here is the big man getting his hands dirty a bit while assembling the dish.

How can I resist sharing a picture of our ever-growing little lady...

Today marks the four year anniversary of Sara and I arriving back in the United States after meeting Lleyton for the first time. Much has changed since then.  Tha was our last Thanksgiving as just a couple (Thanksgiving dinner that year was burgers and fries and Friday's in Atlanta's airport, which hit the spot after a week of Russian cuisine), and now we get to celebrate with this cast of characters...

We are looking forward to adding this little guy to the mix before another Thanksgiving Day comes and goes.

To celebrating next year as a family of 6.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 months down...

5 months many more remain?

Another care package on its way...almost

We are relying on the care packages we have put together for Camden to help get him acquainted with who we are, as we have always included pictures the kids and Sara and I that Camden's foster mom is hopefully sharing with him.  To our chagrin, we have yet to see any pictures of our little guy with our care packages, but we have been assured that they have been sent and they are given to him during his every other month visit to the agency's office. 

Along with the package pictured above that is almost ready to make its way from Kentucky to Seoul, we will include the following the pictures...

Just in case Camden's foster mom can't speak English, Sara came up with the grand idea of writing "brother" and "sister" in Korean on each of the kids signs above their names. 

These guys can't wait to have their little brother home...and neither can we.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Do you believe in miracles?

To say that my recent efforts to teach Parker how to ride a bike weren't going as well as I had hoped would have been an understatement.  With that being true, and having recently resigned myself to the fact that Park just wasn't meant to be on two wheels, you can imagine my amazement when we headed out this morning for another teaching session and this is what transpired...

Proud Dad of a bike rider

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Catching up

The frequency with which I have been blogging as of late has certainly decreased.  I guess that's what happens when fatigue catches up me many nights I hit the sack before 9:30, or when Sara is unable relinquish the computer thanks to her new found love for Pinterest (rightfully so, it's a great sight), or there are nights like tonight where Lleyton just refuses to want to go to sleep so as I lay here and type, my little guy is laying next to me counting out loud as he attempts to do what he calls "get his brain to go to sleep." 

My lack of blogging can't be attributed to nothing going on around here, as the days continue to fly by at an unprecedented pace. After all it will be Thanksgiving in a few weeks and we all know that Christmas feels like it is just a day or so after that. 


After a much needed season off from sports, Parker is getting back in the swing of things with basketball.  The season starts in the coming weeks, but practice is well underway.  The team name this season is the Pacers, so if any of you NBA lovers out there are in need of some weekend entertainment and can't get it from the real Pacers, Parker's game typically don't sell out.  Although he seems to think he future is in professional sports, I think we disagree, as the big guy continues to wow us with his intellect.  Many nights he comes home and tells us about things he learned in school that day that I have to nod and act like I know exactly what he is talking about, all the while knowing that I will be googling "waxing and waning crescents" or "deciduous and non-deciduous forests" moments after he retires for the night. 

Lleyton is in preschool now at the same school as his big brother.  We weren't quite sure how he was doing in school, as he is already acting like he is in high school and refusing to tell us about his days, but he knocked Sara's socks off the other day when she went into visit his class for the first time.  She had a chance to observe him prior to him realizing she was there and the report I got from her was that he did fantastic.  He was quietly sitting in his seat while listening to the teachers and once he realized his self-proclaimed best friend (his mommy) was there, he still waited until he asked the teacher for permission to give Sara a big hug and sit next to her.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear how well he did.  Immediately following his last week of casts, Lleyton began wearing leg braces that help keep him off of his toes.  He has his good days and bad days with the braces, but all-in-all he is doing really well with them.  In conjunction with the braces he sees a physical therapist every other week who is focusing on building some of the muscles that Lleyton really never used because he previously walked solely on his toes.

Onto Addy, she is right on Lleyton's tail when it comes to size.  She is huge...both in size and personality.  She continues to work with\a speech therapist once a week and that work is beginning to pay off.  She is becoming more and more talkative each day.  Last week Sara and her mom escorted the little princess to the Children's Hospital so she could get tubes in her ears.  She handled it like a champ.  We had previously had two hearing tests that found what may be some hearing loss, but the hope is that the tubes will clear up anything that was ailing her hearing and she won't have any longer terms issues. 

Yesterday hopefully marked the day that Camden got two care packages from us.  Our hope is that I as type this he is enjoying some of the toys and warm clothes we sent him, but most importantly we hope that he is getting to look through all of the pictures that we sent. 

Onto a few pictures...

This past weekend, Parker was lucky enough to get to join Grammy and Pop on a trip to South Bend to watch one of my cousins play soccer.  Eric plays for West Virginia and he and his fellow Mountaineer teammates were playing Notre Dame.  Here is Parker and a number of his cousins with the famed Touchdown Jesus in the background.

Everyone, included the  player they were all there to see, was all smiles after the game, as WVU prevailed 2-0.

While Park was living the High Life in northern IN, Lleyton and Addy had their share of fun here as well.  Lleyton got to show Addy the in and outs of how to drive a car.  Needless to say, Sissy (as Lleyton affectionately calls his sidekick) was thrilled to be hanging in the passenger seat with Lleyton behind the wheel.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Channeling their inner artistry

If this past weekend was any indication, fall ranks up there as our kids favorite season (summer might have something to say about that). 

As we do most weekends, we tried to have a few activities planned to keep our little monsters occupied and relatively happy throughout the weekend, and this weekend those activities were centered around pumpkins and nice weather. 

The previous weekend we had ventured to a pumpkin patch not far from our house and the kids picked (with the assistance of Sara and I and Grandpa Paul and Grandma Monica) their favorite gourds.  It was those very finds that got the royal treatment this weekend as the kids got to try their hands at painting pumpkins.  We erred on the side of caution this year, going with the painting technique rather than the carving, and you can imagine why (finger paint or sharp knives).

Our budding artists



Van Gogh

We borrowed this particular painting idea from one of our favorite blogs.  Our kids must be a little more heavy-handed than the ones featured on the other site, as the Ritzmann pumpkins ended up a dark shade of grey rather than the multicolored perfection that can been seen here.

In the midst of the pumpkin decorating madness, Sara, using her seemingly unlimited baking prowess and infinite creativity, whisked together this masterpiece "candycorn" cake.  I failed to take a picture of the inside, which may or may not have had to do with the fact that I was too busy taste-testing various sections of this deliciousness.  Trust me when I say that when we cut into it, its resemblance to a gargantuan piece of Sara's favorite fall treat was uncanny.

After all of the cake eating that took place on Saturday we decided to load the kids in the car on Sunday and burn off a few calories strolling through the Cincinnati Zoo.  By the looks of this picture, we weren't the only ones enjoying some fall flavors on this unseasonably warm weekend.

Let the planning for next weekend begin...