Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Welcome, Henry Daniel Ritchey

Disclaimer: This post may be TMI for some of you. Please continue reading the story of Henry's Birth Day with this in mind...

Back in December my OB (Dr. Davy) and I began discussing a date for my induction. We had tentatively decided on May 3, 2012, and two weeks prior to that date we were able to officially schedule it with the hospital. I was supposed to arrive at 8:00 am. So being the planner that I am, I made all of the necessary arrangements to have Baby #3... My mom had taken two days off of work to come take care of Alexa & Jack. I stocked up on groceries. We finished all the kids' bedrooms. I washed all the newborn clothes and bedding. I mentally prepared myself and the children for what was to come...When I went to bed on May 2nd, I was excited and ready as can be to have a baby the next day!!!

I slept soundly. My alarm went off at 6:00 am. I showered and finished packing my toiletry bag. I was just about to wake up A&J to say goodbye when my phone rang. It was the hospital. They were calling (at 7:00 am, a mere hour before my induction) to postpone because the postpartum floor was full. How did that effect my induction? Since there were no empty beds on PP, patients were 'stuck' on L&D even though they had already given birth and so all the L&D beds were full too (with the exception of the few they save for women who have gone into labor naturally). So until women were discharged from PP, which would then allow women to be transferred from L&D, all elective inductions were postponed. I was angry, devastated, emotional, anxious.... Not exactly the way I had planned or wanted to start off Henry's Birth Day.

At 8:30 am, I called Dr. Davy's office and left a message for the nurse about what was going on. She called me back with three options:
1. Wait and see if St. Ann's would be able to get me in sometime that afternoon. She cautioned me that the doctor thought it was doubtful though, which would then lead to the next choice...
2. Reschedule the induction for Monday.
3. Schedule an induction at Riverside for that afternoon.
So many thoughts went through my mind before I made my decision... I feel comfortable at St. Ann's. I toured there, took childbirth classes there, it's where both Alexa & Jack were born. I know my way around the hospital and where to tell people to park. All I know about Riverside is that it's a maze and you have to pay to park. I pre-registered at St. Ann's. Is Riverside covered under our health insurance? If I decide to wait and then don't get in to St. Ann's today, I'm gonna be pregnant for four more days! And then who would take care of Alexa & Jack since Mom has to go back to work??
I wasn't going to be 100% happy either way because my "plan" was already messed up. An 8:00 am induction (in my mind) had meant an early afternoon birth and then an introduction to Big Sister & Big Brother post-nap. Obviously this was NOT going to happen no matter which choice I made. So then it became a battle between the familiar hospital but unsure date vs. the unknown hospital but guaranteed date. And although I was anxious about going to a different hospital, my desire to have the baby on May 3, 2012 won - mostly because I wanted to make sure my mom was here for Alexa and Jack. So I told Dr. Davy's nurse to go ahead and setup an induction at Riverside Methodist Hospital for that afternoon. It was scheduled for 1:00 pm.

Upon my first internal exam, my nurse (Mindy) said I was only 3 cm dilated (I was 4 cm for Alexa & Jack's inductions) and that my cervix was still really high. Like up-and-behind-Henry's-head high. I had no clue what this meant... So she clarified that it would mean lots of position changes (think sitting on a yoga ball, sitting in a chair, laying in the bed different ways, etc.) and that my labor was probably going to take awhile. Ugh. For those of you who don't know, I was in labor with Alexa for 8 hrs and pushed for 1.5 hrs before she was born at 4:52 pm on October 27, 2008, and I was in labor with Jack for 4 hrs and pushed for 20 min before he was born at 3:55 pm on September 21, 2010. Naturally, I had envisioned my labor and delivery with Henry was going to be a piece of cake, quick and easy, since it was my third in 3.5 years. Being told I was going to have to do all these repositioning things and that it was probably going to be a longer labor than with Jack was completely devastating to me.

My induction had been postponed and then rescheduled at a different hospital. My new induction time was around the time that I thought I would already be holding my newborn. My body was not as ready as it had been in my previous pregnancies to give birth. I felt as though NOTHING WAS GOING MY WAY! So I whined. A lot. All afternoon in fact. I'm pretty sure Dan and Nurse Mindy were daydreaming about strangling me. Can't say I'd blame 'em!

Here is the timeline of how things ended up playing out for my labor & delivery:
1:00 pm - Arrive at hospital. 3 cm
2:00 pm - Pitocin started
5:00 pm - Not quite yet in Active Labor (my contractions were still barely noticeable), but I opted to get my epidural. For some very strange reason the Pharmacy was going to close for 30-45 minutes, and I didn't want to risk going into full blown labor during that time and then be stuck in excruciating pain until they re-opened and the anesthetician could get my meds. I just kept recalling how quickly my contractions went from barely noticeable to horrendous with Jack and I knew that time was approaching with Henry... So despite not having strong contractions yet, I got the epidural.
5:30 pm - Dr. Davy broke my water. 4 cm.
6:30 pm - 6 cm
7:15 pm - 8 cm
8:30 pm - Start to setup for delivery and newborn care. 10 cm.
8:52 pm - It's push time.

Henry weighed 7 lbs 12.7 oz and was 20.5 inches long with a 13 inch head circumference.

Despite my 3 cm and high cervix issue in the beginning, I still labored less than 4 hrs and only pushed for 7 minutes. Pretty darn awesome! I was sad that Alexa and Jack weren't going to meet Henry until the next day, but we were able to FaceTime with Alexa that night and we ended up having a better-than-we-could-have-possibly-imagined introduction on Friday morning with them. And because of the timeline of events, the most special thing occurred... my sister ended up being in the room with us when Henry arrived. Words cannot express how much it meant to me that she wanted to stay, and even as I write this blog, Dan tells me that it was one of the best things about Henry's Birth Day for him too. The look of amazement, wonder, joy, & happiness that was plastered all over Danielle's face was priceless. So although nothing had gone as planned, everything went perfectly.

We ended up really loving Riverside Methodist Hospital. And we are both in agreement that IF we were to have another baby, we would definitely chose to have that child at Riverside.

Things have been going pretty great since we came home. I am recovered (although way fatter than I would like to be). Dan enjoyed two weeks home with us and is now back to work. Alexa & Jack have adjusted quite nicely to being a Big Sister (again) & Big Brother. They both adore Henry! And Henry, well so far it's true what everyone told me about the third baby being perfect :) He eats great. He sleeps awesome. He is super cuddly. I honestly cannot complain. Life is good.

Well, this post took wayyyyy longer to write than I wanted it to (damn, perfectionist in me wanting to recall all events precisely)!!! Hopefully, I will find the time next week to update in further detail what we have been up to since we became a Party of Five and to focus more on stories about Alexa, Jack, and Henry... Until next time. Ciao.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our Family of Four will become FIVE this week!

In my previous pregnancies, I felt like time stood still for the [almost] 40 weeks while my baby grew. Other people would always exclaim toward the end of the pregnancy that they couldn't believe how fast it went. I'd smile, laugh, & think to myself, "Yeah, maybe to you because you don't have this little alien invading YOUR body at the moment!" Haha. I don't know what the difference is this time... Is it that I have two very active children to keep up with? Is it that I am not worried about labor & delivery? Is it that I'm comfortable & confident with my role as Mom? Whatever the reason, I honestly feel like this pregnancy has zoomed by and have a hard time believing it is just about over. I feel like it was yesterday, not last August, when we first saw the 'pregnant' on the digital test. It seems surreal to me in just a few days we will have THREE children!!! This is a BIG week for our family, and yet I'm still going about my day-to-day routines like nothing is happening. Quite weird.

I'm very excited to meet Henry this week :) I cannot wait to see what he looks like. Will he be born with dark hair like both Alexa & Jack? If so, will it stay that way or will he too be a blonde like his older sibs? Will he have my brown eyes, Dan & Jack's blue eyes, or Alexa's hazel eyes? What will his personality be like? Will he be a silly, brilliant, feisty, and emotional chatterbox like his big sister? Or will he be a sweet, brave, rambunctious, and adorable charmer like his big brother? Probably a combination of both... I know he will be a unique individual that we will love soooo very much! Ahhhh, I am SO EXCITED to meet our newest son

What's new with Alexa: We've been battling some "Terrible 3's" behavior lately... Alexa is so curious, has such a wonderful imagination, and is very stubborn. This can lead to some dramatic behavior from her, which has proven to be quite challenging for Mommy & Daddy... Her 'testing of boundaries' has led Dan and I seeking a better means of discipline in our home. We've both been reading 1-2-3 Magic by Dr. Phelan, which focuses on controlling obnoxious behavior, encouraging good behavior, and strengthening your relationship. We have slightly begun to modify how we handle situations with Alexa, and once we are both finished with the book we plan to more fully practice the principles discussed in it. Our goal is to have a happy, smooth-operating home that empowers our children to be independent, opinionated, and respectful :)

Onto more positive things... Alexa can make a friend anywhere we go. Seriously. Just yesterday she made friends with two little girls in the play area at Polaris Fashion Place. She was playing tag and hide & seek with them within a few minutes of entering the kiddy-chaos. Some of the friends she has had playdates with lately are kids of my friends (the Nguyen boys, the Sip kids, the Hinton girls, and our neighbor girls the Hull's), but she has also made some friends of her own (Miriam, a girl who was in her art class, and Max, a little boy from the gym that she calls her boyfriend). It amazes me that we have a daughter who is old enough to make friends! It doesn't seem like all that long ago that she was a newborn!

Alexa is really into books, both being read to and looking at books & 'reading' to herself. She loves fairy tales, Bible stories, anything Dr. Seuss, and even educational books. She loves learning and is so inquisitive. Some of the questions she has even stump me! Alexa is a pack-rat. She loves to collect other people's junk. It drives me bonkers, but it makes her happy and I'm sure my Papa is smiling down from heaven at his little prodigy

She had her first haircut at a children's hair salon last week (her other cuts were done by my stylist up in the Perry-area), and she really loved it. She was able to watch Horton Hears A Who and the girl pampered her with cupcake-smelling mousse, diffusing her curls, and braiding her long bangs. She was a Curly-locks Beauty when we left, and you could tell she felt girly & special :) It was a good lesson for Mommy who with bone-straight hair didn't have a clue what to do with her beautiful loose curls!
Alexa is excited to become a big sister again! She shouted at my belly a few weeks ago, "Henry, I can't wait to meet you in two weeks!!" Hard to believe that is now just 4 days away!

What's new with Jack: He has been a bit clingy to me lately. Ok, that's an understatement. He has been a lot clingy. Like throw a screaming fit if Daddy carries him up the stairs, even though I am right behind them. Flailing on the changing pad until he sees me enter his room. Shouting "Mama" 1,008,957 times a day. He is a Mama's Boy for sure. I think he senses that change is coming and for that reason he is trying to "cling" to his comfort zone. Even though he won't be the "baby" per se in our family anymore, I hope being so close in age to his little brother does not force Jack to 'grow up' too quickly. I still want him to be able to be a baby/toddler!

A few weeks ago we moved Jack into his Big Boy bedroom. It is a John Deere tractor theme, and he loves it! He surprised us by making a great transition from the crib to his new twin-size bed. Although every few nights he'll fall out of bed, as he is still getting used to not being "contained" while sleeping. I bought a pool noodle (a suggestion from my friend Sarah) to place under the sheet, and thus far this cheaper alternative to an expensive bed rail seems to be working! 

Jack has been 'communicating' more lately. The cutest thing has been his head nod. Whenever you ask him a question that the answer is yes to, he nods his head with a sly smile on his face. Sooo cute! He knows the names of lots of the members of our family, and says simple words like up, please, thank you, book, ball, Donald Duck, diaper, baby, more, grapes, banana, water bottle, milk... He is not talking as much as Alexa did at this age, but seriously how many children really do?! We understand what he wants (most of the time) by his grunts & pointing and the rest of the time Alexa talks for him, leaving him no real motivation to use his words. And although Jack may not be talking tons, he understands everything we say to him. Now, getting him to listen is another story, haha.

Jack is SO BRAVE. His daring nature scares me. He will climb anything without fear. He will go down any slide without looking to see if someone is at the bottom to catch him. It is so contrastingly different from Alexa who always has sought me for approval, reassurance, safety, what-have-you. His bravery/daring nature has led to some bumps and bruises, but he usually "shakes it off" pretty quickly. 

Jack likes to point at my belly and say "baby." And he smiles when you ask him if he is going to be a Big Brother :) We'll see how he feels about it on Thursday ;)

What's new with me: I'm actually feeling pretty good. I've never been in such good spirits at the end of a pregnancy. Usually I'm wishing it to just be over with already and doing a lot of complaining. Don't get me wrong, my belly is heavy by the end of the day, my hips do hurt, and my sciatic nerve is painful, but I'm still just enjoying the pregnancy. I'm cherishing feeling Henry move and keeping him to myself just a little bit longer!

Inspired by some devotionals I did during Lent, Alexa's growing spiritual curiosities, and witnessing another set of students receive their First Holy Communion, I have been trying to work on my relationship with God. When I reflect on various times in my life I know the periods that were most peaceful were usually around the times that my faith was the strongest. Not only do I want to feel more peaceful, but I want to set a good example for my children of trusting in the Lord. So I am seeking short but meaningful devotionals and books to read to continue to help me grow in my faith.

What's new with Dan: He is excited about starting a new project at work sometime this summer. But before that, he is looking forward to spending about two weeks off of work with me and the kids :) It will definitely be a BIG help to have him home with us for so long! Every day Alexa asks if Daddy is going to work that day, and she loves hearing "No" on Saturdays & Sundays -- she is going to be overjoyed to have him home! Dan brewed a new beer a few weeks ago, he says it is a Cream Ale, whatever that is. He needs to bottle it sometime this week and it should be ready to drink in about two weeks. I don't think I ever mentioned (probably because I've been a ghost on my blog until recently) that Dan GRADUATED!!!! After more than a decade (and lots of nagging from me) he received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Franklin University this past winter. I am SO PROUD of him for this accomplishment!

Recent Activities
We've been trying really hard to stay active and do loads of fun things with Alexa and Jack these past few weeks!
The week of April 16th - 22nd, we had a playdate at Lattes & Lollipops (this is a new cafe in Powell, check out the website) with the Nguyen family, we went to Liberty Park one evening (there are other parks that are closer to our house, but this one is Alexa's favorite), we had a playdate at the Columbus Zoo with my friend Ashley & her son Peyton (and we ran into Alexa's boyfriend Max & his mom Holly randomly while we were there!), Alexa got a haircut, and Noni & Papa came to visit for the weekend.

The week of April 23rd - 29th, I took the kids to Chuck E Cheese for the first time (and had a blast thanks to my dear friend Amy who is the GM there!), went back to Lattes & Lollipops so the kids could play while I crocheted (hehe), had a playdate at Miriam's house, had lunch downtown with Daddy & Grandpa, learned about & celebrated Earth Day, went shopping at Toys R Us & the Disney Store, went to Scioto Park (a park that Alexa has been asking to go to because there is a picture of the stone face from the park inside our Kroger), and spent time with Grandpa & Grandma.

This coming week, tomorrow will be my last full day alone with just Alexa & Jack by myself. Besides a quick trip to The Anderson's in the morning, I plan to spend the day playing in the basement doing whatever they want to do and snuggling on the couch watching a favorite show or two with them!! On Tuesday, we will have our last pre-baby playdate with my friend Jess and her two daughters :) Wednesday is the start of Daddy's vacay from work. Not sure what we will do all day, but I want it to be something extra special since it'll be our last day as a family of four. My mom will arrive that evening so that she can be with A&J while we are at the hospital. The induction is scheduled for Thursday, May 3rd at 8:00 am. If all goes well, hopefully we'll be meeting Henry in the early-to-mid-afternoon :) We will probably stay at the hospital until Saturday morning. Anyone who wants to visit at the hospital or once we are home, please contact me or Dan to figure out a good time!!

Preparing for Henry:
The clothes are all washed and hung.
We have a stockpile of Newborn and Size 1 diapers.
The nursery is all ready (minus a statue of a bear that we really want but can't find).
The hospital bags are in the process of being packed.
Three of the four hats I am crocheting for his newborn pictures are done.

... The next time I post we will have a third baby!!! It is so exciting (and a little nerve-racking) to think about!! I'm sure pics of the lil man will be on Facebook & Twitter within an hour of his arrival, and hopefully I will have an opportunity to post my Labor & Delivery Story before too long, as well as update y'all on what Henry's personality is like! Until I blog again... Ciao.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Past Due "Announcement"

It is crazy to me that at 36 weeks 2 days pregnant I am fiiiinally blogging with the "announcement" that we are expecting a third "little Ritchey" (what I've dubbed Alexa, Jack, & baby) in early May!

Nonetheless, here are the quick details on the pregnancy:
  • We found out on August 30, 2011 that we were expecting again. Due date May 9, 2012.
  • We had our first ultrasound on September 28, 2011 to confirm the pregnancy.
  • We heard the heartbeat for the first time on November 9, 2011.
  • We had another ultrasound on November 12, 2011 and found out that our third baby is a... BOY!
  • I began to feel flutters on November 15, 2011.
  • I started feeling real kicks, punches, & such around Christmas 2011.
  • Daddy felt the baby move for the first time on New Year's Day 2012.
  • I am scheduled to have the baby on May 3, 2012. So unless he comes naturally before then, he'll be evicted in just under 3 weeks!!!
Here are more in-depth details on the pregnancy:
  • "Morning" sickness: I had it the worst of all three pregnancies this time. I never actually vomited, thank goodness (!!!), but I battled nausea throughout the day (usually whenever I was hungry) from weeks 8 - 13.
  • Name: Over the past several months, we struggled more than ever before to come up with a name for the baby... I tend to like simple, plain, old-fashioned names, such as Henry, Dean, Pete, and Neil. Whereas Dan likes names, such as Luke, Isaac, Finn, Owen, and Wyatt. None of which I even considered, LOL. As most of you know by now, I won the Great Name Debate. Our second son will be named Henry Daniel Ritchey.
  • Cravings: I was all over the spectrum with cravings during the second trimester. Some of my favorite things to eat have been Doritos, clementines, smoothies, blackberries, anything chocolate, and Oreo's.
  • Energy level: I was e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d the first trimester. But as soon as the second trimester started I felt normal again. Most days I even forgot I was prego because I was so busy with Alexa and Jack! Then, what seemed like overnight (at the end of my December), my belly P-O-P-P-E-D out! This bump definitely complicates my ability to do some things. Yet, I feel lucky that these days I have quite a bit of energy most of the day. I usually feel worn out around dinnertime then get my second-wind at like 9:30 pm.
  • Weight gain: Dare I even admit it... I've gained 35 lbs already. The most of all three pregnancies, and I still have about 3 weeks to go. But I know that I can and WILL lose the baby weight, FAST. I gotta be in a bikini this summer ;)
  • Movement: Still feeling Henry move quite a bit. Most of it is either him pushing his butt out on the top-left side of my bump or him hiccuping (just like Big Sis & Big Bro did tons of in utero!).
  • Size: As of my most recent ultrasound, 2 days ago, Henry is 6 lbs 4 oz. The ultrasound tech estimates that at induction date he should be somewhere between what Alexa (7 lbs 4.5 oz) and Jack (8 lbs 2.2 oz) weighed.
  • Signs of labor: I always think that I don't get Braxton Hicks, but then when I am induced and feel my first monitored contractions in the hospital I realize I'd been feeling those minor contractions for weeks. So I'm pretty sure I've been having some B.H. for the past two weeks. But nothing consistent or anything to make me think I'm gonna go into labor before "Eviction Day." I had my first internal exam this week. Not to give out TMI, but my cervix was a bit too high for Dr. Davy to tell me how far effaced & dilated I am - so we'll see if she can tell at my appt next Wednesday - but she did discover that Henry is REALLY low. I asked if that was a bad thing?!?! She assured me that it was fine and that it would probably mean I'll labor fast again :) :) :)
  • Mental state: Have I ever wrote about how much I love being pregnant. Despite the climbing numbers on the scale (that a vain person like me struggles with seeing), I feel pretty. I love the energy boost and the nesting instinct that I get during the second trimester (although I drive Dan crazy, hehe). I love feeling my baby move. I love imagining what he/she is going to be like. I love preparing for his/her arrival. Pregnancy is such a special thing. A blessing. Something that I am thankful I have easily, safely, and enjoyingly been able to experience three times ♥ I'd say I'm in a pretty good state of mind writing/thinking like that this close to the end (when most mom's-to-be are so over being preggers).
Here are the ultrasound photos:
  • First ultrasound on 9/28/2011 (8 weeks)

  • Second ultrasound on 10/28/2011 (12 weeks, 2 days)

  • Third ultrasound on 11/12/2011 (14 weeks, 3 days)

  • Fourth ultrasound on 12/28/2011 (21 weeks)

  • Fifth ultrasound on 4/11/2012 (36 weeks)

Here are the growing-Mama pictures:

8 weeks
12 weeks
14 weeks

16 weeks
19 weeks
23 weeks

24 weeks
26 weeks
28 weeks

30 weeks, 1 day
34 weeks
34 weeks, 4 days

For more pictures, check out our Professional Maternity photo album on Facebook. Photos were taken in Perry, OH by a friend of mine from high school Lorelei (who is just starting to dabble in professional photography). She did a superb job!

Here are some comments/thoughts on the Siblings:
  • Alexa: She is going to be a great Big Sister [x2]. She is such a good helper with Jack & loves him so much, and I know she is going to be the exact same way with Henry! She has been very interested in my pregnancy and always wants to try to feel her new little brother move :)
  • Jack: I think this Big Brother business is going to be quite an adjustment for him. I'm know Jack will be great with Henry (he likes the other newborns he's met lately). But I worry that emotionally he'll feel overlooked/ignored (because he has been demanding LOTS of Mommy time lately!). I may be surprised though because he smiles so big when you ask him if he's going to be a Big Brother and will point at my belly and say, "baby." :)
Here were our preparations:
  • In January, Alexa moved into the largest of the three spare bedrooms. We painted it turquoise and decorated it with Disney Fairies. She loves her Big(ger) Girl room, most especially how her queen-size bed enables more stuffed animals to sleep with her!
  • In February, March, & April we've slowly been working on turning Alexa's old room into Jack's new room. We painted it a brown color and decorated it with John Deere tractors. Tonight is his first night sleeping in his Big Boy room. His first night in a twin-size bed. Hopefully he sleeps well and enjoys the new room!
  • This week I went into overhaul and did L-O-A-D-S (no pun intended) of baby laundry. The clothes, the burp clothes, the towels & washcloths, the Boppy covers & nursing cover, the bassinet bedding... All that still needs washed is the crib bedding (which I was waiting to do until Jack moved into his new room). Everything is washed. Everything is put away. Feels relieving!
  • We aren't making too many changes in the nursery. Just needed to add Henry's name to the wall and have been locating a few "Hunting Lodge" type items to decorate it.
This pregnancy has gone by so fast. So very fast. I can hardly believe we are going to be Party of Five (LOVED that show in the 90's!) in less than a month! Well, it's getting late and my mind is getting hazy. But I'm pretty darn sure that I've managed to include everything in this post in regards to this pregnancy & baby Henry... if I think of something I've forgotten I'll add it later :) Ciao.

My Favorite Things

I can't tell you how many times a day I think, "I love when Alexa does that!" or "That is the cutest thing that Jack does!"... Time passes quickly and the things that I love/admire/adore about my kids changes as they grow & meet new milestones, and so I decided maybe I should post what my Favorite Things about each of my babies is right now :) Listed in no particular order.

  • Hearing Alexa talk... I mean seriously, she talks all the time. But the things that come out of her mouth amaze me! She.is.so.freaking.smart. Not only does she have an unimaginable vocabulary for a 3-year-old, but she speaks with emotion, inflection, and humor. And she invents words. The one word that she created that has stuck around is "quapadility" -- we aren't too sure what it means, as the definition is ever-changing, but it is said often. Haha.
  • Hearing Alexa sing... I posted in my blog about her how she knows quite a few songs. I forgot to mention this one though: Red Solo Cup (by Toby Keith). She will completely belt out "Red Solo cup, I fill you up, let's have a party, let's have a party..." at the most random times. I love it.
  • "I love you, Mama"... Ever time she says this to me... Just, WOW.
  • Her new found interest in Jesus and God. She has some really great questions and wants to be read to from her children's Bible daily. She does an excellent job at not only reciting her prayers (i.e. saying grace at dinnertime or blessing family members before bed), but also at having special prayer requests and talking to Jesus.
  • She is 100% girlie. Alexa loves to wear dresses/skirts, have her hair done pretty, and even enjoyed her first pedicure with Mommy last week! She is interested in make-up and always takes her Coach purse with her (even told Auntie that she needs a bigger one, hehe). Alexa loves the Disney Princesses and Fairies, and loves to play dress-up... the list of girlie things she likes goes on and on, and I'm just so happy that she takes after me :)
  • Watching Jack "toddle" around... Seems like we waited foreverrrr for him to walk but now there is no stopping him! At first he would hold up his hands up every.single.step. to maintain balance - too cute. Now he has begun to master balance, and has gained speed and agility. It's awesome.
  • When Jack goes down a set of stairs... As long as he is wearing a bodysuit or a sleeper he glides down the stairs on his belly at fast speeds with a HUGE grin on his adorable face. Love.it.
  • Jack finds himself to be quite humorous... He will randomly bust out laughing at himself throughout the day, and from there it turns into this squinty-eyed smile facial expression that makes everyone laugh (we call it the "cheese face" - and he does it on command!!).
  • Since the start of the New Year, Jack entered the separation anxiety/I love Mommy phase... This means he has been saying "Mama" A LOT :) And my favorite thing about this is when he comes over to me, sits in my lap, leans his head back into my chest, looks up at me, and opens his mouth for a kiss. He is so affectionate. It's so sweet.
  • Seeing Jack fiiiinally have an interest in books... We'd long ago stopped trying to get Jack to sit in our laps and listen to a story. He was too busy and just didn't care. The teacher in me is proud to say that this has changed :) Jack now loves to be read to, and he loves to turn the pages, and he likes to look at books independently, and he can say the word "book."
  • Peek-a-Boo... This "game" is fun anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Jack will hide toys, himself, and even covers my eyes when I say, "Where's Mommy?" His laughter is the best sound. Ever.
  • "Ka-chow!!" (not too sure on the spelling?) My lil buddy is obsessed with Lightning McQueen & Mater and says the race car's signature phrase all.day.long. In the sweetest little boy voice you'll ever here :)

My MOST favorite thing of all... The way that Alexa and Jack love each other! I mean seriously, I could go on and on and on with stories that display how much these two care about one another. From the times that Jack has wiped away Alexa's tears, to the times that Alexa sneaks Jack a part of her cookie even though he didn't eat his dinner, to them calling each others' names (yes, Jack can say Alexa -- it's one of his few words) as they search for each other in our home... Oh.my.gosh... Their sibling love warms my heart, makes me weak in the knees, and brings tears to my eyes. It is hands-down the best part of being their Mommy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Ever heard of it? Best.Website.Ever. (even better than Facebook - and that's HUGE coming from me!)

If you are on it, wahooooooo.

If you're not on it, let me know and I'll send you an invite.

I have spent hours upon hours pouring over this site: finding new recipes, getting inspiration for home decor and fashion, and discovering activities, crafts, "lessons," etc. to do with the kids. And that's just the tip of the iceberg... It is unbelievable the number of things that people have thought of, created, etc.

I am making it my mission this year to be inspired from the things I've found on Pinterest. Here are a few ways in which I've already changed:
  • It has triggered a desire to challenge myself in the kitchen - both with cooking and baking. I must say, I've added some really tasty AND healthy foods to my repertoire.
  • I've learned to crochet. I'm still on small projects, think baby hats and scarfs, but I aspire to make cute stuffed animals, headbands, sweaters, and at least one blanket (for Dan). (And I want to learn to sew after we settle into life as a family of five.)
  • I'm becoming a DIY'er. Meaning I've found some crafty projects for myself, like covering the wipes containers with fabric so they match the boys' bedrooms or making a book for Jack with all of his body parts.
  • I'm taking to heart the wisdom of quotes/articles/blogs I've read, and I'm finding humor in the funny things people post.
  • I'm channeling the inner-teacher in me and having themed learning days every few weeks with the kids. Our special days are centered around a theme (so far, we've had Dr. Seuss Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter Day -- hoping to do one more, unsure on the theme, before Henry is born!); everything from the books we read to the food we eat to the activities & crafts we do is inspired by the topic of the day. It's been great fun!

If you look at my 42 Boards (filled with 939 pins at the present time), you will see the way in which I utilize, consult, and am inspired by the Best.Website.Ever. (sorry had to emphasize that again!) Ciao.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All About Alexa Rose

My goal had been to get the "Alexa Post" done before the end of 2011. Oops, didn't happen. But ya know what? The timing doesn't/shouldn't matter, what matters is that I'm posting now. I'm gonna capture Alexa Rose the best I can in words :)

Let me start with all of our little girl's nicknames, that way you don't find yourself lost or confused as I interchangeably use these names for her: Lex, Lulu, and Rosie (we also call her Lovey, Hunnie, Sweetie... but I won't be using those in this post, hehe).

Her Schedule:
  • Alexa is usually the first one up in the morning sometime between 7-7:30 am. She gets the day started with a quick trip to the potty and then constanttt chatter. Seriously, once she is awake the girl does NOT stop talking!
  • Then we talk, play with her "friends" (stuffed animals in her room), look at books, and sometimes watch a show (her favorite is Martha Speaks - a talking dog who helps build vocabulary!).
  • Once I am done getting myself and the kids ready for the day, we all head downstairs for breakfast. Some of Alexa's favorite breakfast foods are cherry PopTarts, bagels, yogurt, Cream of Wheat, and fresh fruit.
  • Between breakfast and lunch, we do different things on different days - go places (like the library, gym, zoo, COSI, shopping, classes at the Community Center, etc.) or play in the playroom.
  • Lunchtime is around noon or a little after. For lunch, Alexa loves salami, pepperoni, and cheese sandwiches. She also recently really started to like pastrami! Sometimes she'll ask for mac n cheese or something else, but most days she eats a sandwich and fruit.
  • After getting the kids and the kitchen mostly cleaned up, we head upstairs for nap. Lex goes potty, puts her shoes away, etc. while I lay Jack down. Then, I head to her room and read a book, sing, and close the door. Some days Alexa fights nap by talking to her "friends," but most days she will sleep from like 1:30 - 4:30 pm (give or take 30 minutes on either end of that).
  • She may watch a show when she gets up from nap, depending on how much longer I think Jack will be sleeping, so that I can continue to do some housework. Then we have more play time - sometimes in the basement or sometimes in the kitchen, just depends how involved I am in that night's dinner.
  • Dinner is served whenever Daddy walks through the door, most days this is between 5:30 - 6 pm. Lulu can be a picky eater, but it is mostly about bland things like potatoes. Her favorite dinner is jambalaya!! Basically, she likes some of each food group (I'll list her top 3): Proteins - seafood, pork, & ground beef, Veggies - broccoli, corn, & peas, Grains - rice, breads, & sometimes pasta, Fruit - strawberries, grapes, & apples, Dairy - milk, cheese, & yogurt.
  • The time after dinner is a whirlwind of cleaning, playing, bathing, etc.
  • Bedtime for Alexa usually ends up being about 8:30 pm. Her routine is to go potty and brush her teeth with Daddy (while I am putting Jack to bed), then one of us will read her a story. After a book, her and I say prayers (which consists of blessing the 50 or so family/friends that we are closest with - and yes, she can remember all of these names in the right order! - and then saying the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep prayer. I've also been giving her the option to say a special prayer if she has any requests). Then I sing a song, give her a kiss, and close the door.
**Each day with Alexa can be challenging (whoever coined the term Terrible Twos, clearly did so BEFORE their child turned 3, LOL), but it is beyond amazing to see her turning into a more & more independent, opinionated, intelligent, and lovely little lady!!

There are a few big things going on between the 3rd - 4th year of life (according to Babycenter.com). In terms of Cognitive Development, it is talking. I poured over all the 'details' of this milestone, and based on Lex's vocabulary, sentence structure, speech patterns, and clarity, she is well-ahead of the ball game (no big shock here). In fact, the website mentions that extensive language development can be a sign of giftedness :) Next, in terms of Social & Emotional Development, it is independence. This ranges from establishing friendships without parents' help to playing WITH other children (not just next to them) to going potty or dressing all by herself. I would have to say that Alexa falls into typical development in this area. She does an excellent job at making friends (at the gym, community center classes, etc.) and is definitely beginning to play with them. The only part of going potty that Lex still gets help with is wiping, but that is something she needs to be doing on her own by the time she starts preschool in the fall (more on that later). Dressing herself is probably her biggest struggle of these tasks. Sometimes she gets so flustered when a limb/body part does not go exactly where it is supposed to right away. I've been trying to work on patience with her (something that anyone who knows me can attest to, is hard for me to set a good example of HAHA). Then, in terms of Physical Development, there is self-care and toilet training. This includes things like using utensils, brushing teeth, being "accident-free," staying dry at night, and using an adult toilet. Again, I think that Rosie is right where she needs to be (or even a little advanced). She does an okay job with utensils - it is def something that we are working on, along with how to sit at the table & other table manners. She has been 100% potty trained for almost a year now, including no diaper at night, and Alexa has always used an adult toilet (I hated those kid potties--so smelly & unsanitary, in my opinion).

Some other "topics" for late-2's and early 3's on Babycenter.com include:
  • Having fears: Not really.
  • Bossiness: EXTREMELY... I try to remind Lex often that she is not the boss...
  • Preschooler humor: Most definitely. She can crack a joke and if you make her laugh, she does so in giggling hysterics (which is too freaking cute for words!!).
  • Sleeping through the night: This has been an on-again, off-again struggle for Alexa the past few months. Mostly stemming around times of sickness or her surgery (more on that in a moment). We eventually resorted to bribery going into the New Year to get her to stop waking us 2-5 times/night. Not sure what was causing all the wake-up calls throughout the night, I suspect some nightmares, but I knew it was important for Alexa to find a way to put herself back to sleep if she woke up. So besides the new My Little Pony she got after 5 nights of sleep (YAY!!!!!), we also have been keeping a small cup of water beside her bed at night. That way if she wakes up thirsty, she doesn't have to disturb us for a drink. Anyway, Alexa is back to sleeping through the night!
  • Learning:
    Words: Obv. Alexa has mastered the 3-4 word sentences typical of her peers and has a 300-1,000 word vocab. She has been doing TONS of Word Learning!!
    Counting: I laughed when I saw that she should know how to count "1,2,3" (that's it) and be beginning to recognize #s! She can count to 12 (then gets confused) and has identified all the #s for months & months.
    Colors: She can identify all basic colors (and more complex ones -- for example, her current favorite color is turquoise) and can sort things by color (we just made Rainbow Fruit Kabobs for a baby shower last weekend and she was extremely helpful!).
    Symbols: Identifying symbols is the first step to learning to read, according to Babycenter. Which means Alexa is well on her way to beginning reading... It AMAZES the crap outta me the signs & symbols that she can identify. Too many businesses to even list. And I feel like I should also mention here, that she is a lil GPS. She knows roughly how to get to our house (and she knows our address), where certain stores are, where my OB's office is, where the gym is... The list goes on and on.
  • Working on manners: Please, thank you, excuse me, taking turns, greeting people, thank you notes... these are all things we've been practicing with Alexa since she was a baby (and now do with Jack too). For the most part, she is a polite little girl :)
  • Fine motor skills: Rosie has pretty good finger control. You can definitely see an improvement in her coloring abilities in the past few months!
  • Gross motor skills: She can tiptoe, stand on one foot, jump, and climb. But I would have to say this is the one area that Alexa is definitely not advanced in, and may even be below average in. It seems like gross motor development has always been slower for her than her peers.
  • Chores: The website suggests now is a good time to begin giving children simple tasks around the house, like setting the table or picking up toys. Alexa's interest in wanting to set the table (completely per her request, not ever my asking or suggesting) is a relatively new one, but she is good at it and I can tell it makes her feel important :) And as for picking up toys, she'll help when told to do so but never does it unprompted.
Alexa loves...
  • Disney Fairies. Particularly Tinkerbell and her "boyfriend" Terrance.
  • her new bedroom!! Just last week we moved Alexa into her new "big girl bedroom" (which was phase 1 of preparing for #3s arrival in May). Besides letting her pick the paint color (she chose a turquoise), we also let her pick what kind of theme she wanted (no surprise here, she picked FAIRIES!!). She now has a queen-size bed, the dresser & rocking chair from her old room, as well as her new dollhouse, my old vanity, and a re-painted nightstand in her new room. It really is a very cool room for a 3-year-old!!
  • the Grinch. Like obsessively loves the Grinch. She is wearing her Grinch t-shirt today, January 19th. I just put away her Grinch cups two days ago. She wants to watch the movie, read the book, watch the movie, read the book... And anyone who was around us the month of December guaranteed watched this movie at least once with her. Oh, and she literally knows EVERY WORD in the movie (which is really just a dramatization of the book).
  • Care Bears and My Little Ponies. I found my old Care-a-Lot play set that Lex just loves playing with, and she received some MLP stuff from Santa that she really enjoys too!
  • being girly. Most of the time, Alexa wants to wear a skirt or a dress. She likes getting her hair done, wants to wear make-up, jewelry, etc. And she loves to pick out which pair of shoes to wear! Oh, and I forgot to mention, she has a Coach (Yes, a COACH) purse. If we forget it at home when we are going shopping she freaks out!
  • Jack ♥ She loves to help out with anything Jack, whether it be giving him more food or bossing him around (LOL)... But seriously, Rosie loves her "Buddy" (as she fondly calls him) and always has his best interests at heart. She is an excellent Big Sister!
  • art class. She took one the second part of the fall session at Worthington Community Center. It was the first time she went without a parent, and she did an excellent job. The teacher always said she was well-behaved, she created some cool stuff, and the best part was I did not have to beg her to go (like I had to do with ballet & swim lessons). Unfortunately the class I had registered her for the first half of winter session was cancelled due to low enrollment :( Hopefully, she'll resume art at the beginning of March!
  • going to COSI. And not just for the playing. She really does love to learn, do experiments, etc. We are going to make sure our beautiful princess is also an intelligent scientist!!
  • puzzles... well, she did. I think it is important for me to record here that there was a period of time last spring/summer when she obsessively did puzzles. Alexa can independently do 24 and 48-piece puzzles; she just has lost interest in them for some reason.

Alexa is

  • learning the sounds that letters make. She has mastered a lot of the strong consonants (like b, p, d) and knows some of the vowels and soft consonants. We continue to work on this with her frequently.
  • "Reading" (or retelling) books.
  • constantly asking WHYYYYYYYYYYYY???????? I knew kids did this. Wasn't quite prepared for it to happen when my child was so 'young.' Find myself eventually answering with, "Because I said so" or "Because that's the way the world works" or "Because that's how God made it." Point being -- we have a very curious preschooler!
  • quite dramatic. Know me? Enough said.
  • busy. Rosie likes to "do work" -- which includes anything in the coloring, writing, or drawing domain. She also likes to play with her dolls (she has several Disney Fairy & Princess dolls in Barbie sizes), read books, dress up, and sing & dance. Once she is focused on playing with or doing something it is VERY hard to get her to stop, usually results in a minor meltdown until she understands she can come back to it later.
  • a very good singer. She knows the words to You Are My Sunshine, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and the Buckeye Battle Cry, to name a few.
The two things I mentioned above were about Alexa starting preschool and her having surgery. Let me elaborate a little bit more on both things...

In December, we made the decision that Alexa will attend preschool this fall. I spent hours researching various schools in our area, speaking to them, reading about their philosophies, looking at finances, etc. to determine what would be the best match for our brilliant daughter. I found it at a preschool not even a mile up the road from our house. We went and toured the school mid-Dec and at first Lex was shy, worried, hesitant, but that changed once she got a look around and saw some kids. She ended up having a blast with the class she hungout with for about 30 minutes while I talked to the director. She wanted so desperately to go back to their classroom with them when I told her it was time to leave... At least now I know she's excited :) She'll start in September and will be going on M, W, F mornings for 2.5 hrs. So... we'll see who cries more on Day 1, Alexa or Mommy. My bet is on me ;-)

Surgeries. Plural. Back in July, Alexa had tubes put in her ears after having nine ear infections in 13 months. Until two weeks ago, she had not had an ear infection since the ENT put the tubes in :) When she got the ear infection this month, it was nothing compared to the pain & misery (for her or for us) that we endured pre-tubes. The little device did it's job and drained the excess fluid from her ear, and her body fought off the infection without antibiotics. Thank goodness!! Then after having a scaaaaary sickness at the end of October (that resulted in a 2-night stay at Nationwide Children's Hospital), it was decided between us, the pediatrician, and the ENT that Alexa should have her tonsils and adenoids removed. She underwent that procedure on Dec. 7th. Just like when she awoke after the tubes, Alexa was inconsolable from the delirium that comes with awakening from anesthesia. It was a rough 7-10 days of pain, fighting to get her to at least stay hydrated, and lack of sleep... But we knew it was a necessary evil. And it has already improved Alexa's sleeping habits (she no longer snores) and eating habits (those tonsils must have been so huge that they were giving her issues swallowing because she eats SO MUCH MORE now!!).

I ended Jack's post with a series of photos of him, and I want to do the same with Alexa's post. It is amazing to see how much they change, yet oddly stay the same (and to see the sibling similarities too)!!

Welcome to the world, Alexa Rose Ritchey!!

3 Months
6 Months
9 Months
1 Year

18 Months
Big Sister
2 Years
2 Years, 3 Months

2 Years, 8 Months
2 Years, 11 Months
3 Years

She is our first-born. The one who made us parents. Hard to believe that was three years ago! I cannot even begin to count our lucky stars and thank God for this blessing. The other night, I asked Alexa if she knew how I felt when I looked at her. She thought about it and responded with, "Happy." SHE HAS NO IDEA!!!!!!! I love this little girl beyond measure and can't wait for the many more adventures we will have with her
♥ Ciao.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All About Jack Walter

Our life forever changed last year on September 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm when Jack was born. He began life at a whopping 8 lbs 2 oz & 19.75 inches, and as of his most recent well-check the big man is 24 lb 2 oz & 30.5 inches!! He has done A LOT of grrrrrrowing this year :-) Since my posting has been almost non-existent I want to devote an entire blog to Jack now, and one on Alexa soon, in the hopes that if I am focused on updating about only one child then I will not leave anything out. The goal is to try to capture in words how amazing each of our children are!

With no further ado here is the update on our Monster Man/Buddy/Jack-Attack :) Jack's Day...
  • It usually begins somewhere between 7-8 am. With a smile. A huge one!
  • Before long he is fussy and saying "ba-ba" (even though he doesn't get a bottle anymore) to signify that it is time for breakfast.
  • Breakfast is usually around 8:30 am and consists of waffles, fruit, toast, zucchini/pumpkin bread, yogurt, oatmeal, or something along those lines.
  • Then we either play in the basement, run errands, or go to the gym, zoo, library. I have to say, Jack is a hit at the gym! The staff in the playroom love him!! He never cries when I drop him off, which is amazing considering the separation anxiety Alexa had at this age when I would take her there. If we stay at home, Buddy is surely causing mischief - climbing on the fireplace, opening the TV cabinet, tearing toys/books off of shelves, trying to get into the pantry, dumping out toys, taking apart Alexa's puzzles, etc. The boy is busy!
  • He eats lunch usually around noon. This meal is usually a PB&J sandwich, a quesadilla, fruit, veggie straws, hot dog, etc. Jack has become a kinda picky eater lately so I try to make his favorites for breakfast & lunch so I know he is eating, and then I offer him a variety at dinner.
  • After lunch is nap. He is a solid napper, from like 1-4 pm (or so).
  • I'm usually cooking dinner to some extent when the kids get up so we will either play in the basement or the kids will play in the kitchen (with a few pans & utensils I've designated for them) depending on how close by I need to stay to the meal.
  • We eat dinner between 5:30-6 pm, whenever Daddy walks through the door :) Whatever I make is what goes on Jack's tray. If he likes it, great! And he'll devour tons. If he doesn't like it (or more likely, refuses to try it) he doesn't eat. I figure if he's hungry enough, he'll eat.
  • After dinner we play in the basement as a family.
  • The kids get a bath every-other night, so if it is a bath night they head upstairs with Daddy for "bath time fun" at 7:10 pm.
  • We read him a book (or 2-3 depending on how tired Jack is), say a quick prayer, sing a song, and the little man is diving for his crib by 8:00 pm. He does NOT want to be late!
**Every day with Jack is exhausting & entertaining and frustrating & fun - seems to be the job description of parenting: It is challenging yet rewarding!! It is so great to see him learn new things. He really won't sit still to work on shape sorting, basic puzzles, flashcards, animal noises, body parts, etc. like big sissy would at this age - which makes me frustrated because I'm not directly teaching him things, like I used to do with Alexa. Although he doesn't know these things that she did at his age, he knows things that she didn't (i.e. if he is holding a brush he will put it on his head and brush his hair, he puts a phone up to his ear, he puts toys back in the containers, etc.). I'm sure as the weather continues to go downhill and we are staying home more he will begin to learn these other basic baby knowledge facts! Some of you might remember the Milestone Charts from Babycenter.com that I was using before to identify where Alexa & Jack were developmentally. As a reminder, M (Mastered), E (Emerging), and A (Advanced)... I'm gonna try to identify if Jack was doing each thing by the listed age - if I can remember, hahaha.

10 months
  • Waves goodbye (M): He's an excellent waver :)
  • Crawls with belly off the ground (M): Check... He started crawling while Daddy & Mommy were in Mexico!
  • Stands alone for a few seconds (A): Negative. He hardly ever does this now.
11 months
  • Says "mama" or "dada" to the correct parent (M): Definitely. We produce talkers, not walkers LOL
  • Plays Peek-A-Boo (M): Absolutely. He LOVES this!!
  • Understands "no" and simple instructions (E): Debateable. He can follow directions and I think he understands no, he just doesn't listen!
  • Says one word besides "mama" or "dada" (A): Yes. I believe by this age he had words for Chloe, bottle, book, woof
12 months
  • Imitates others' activities (M): Check
  • Indicates wants with gestures (M): Check
  • Takes a few steps (E): Negative
  • Scribbles with a crayon (A): Doubtful - He normally eats it! Haha.
  • Says two words (A): Yes!
13 months
  • Bends over to pick up object (M): Yes, if he is holding onto something. He is still not standing/walking alone.
  • Enjoys gazing at his reflection (E): OMG, YES!! And he loves to watch videos of himself - he points and says "Jack!!!!"
  • Holds out arm/leg to help you dress him (E): Check
  • Combines words/gestures to make needs known (A): He points at things and says "this" or "that" ALLLLLLL DAYYYYY LONGGGG!!!
14 months
  • Eats with fingers (M): He's been doing this for months!!
  • Empties containers of contents (M): He is a master at this!
  • Toddles well (E): Still not walking
  • Responds to instructions, e.g. "give me a kiss" (E): Yup
  • Uses a spoon/fork (A): He can kinda use utensils - but he makes a big mess!
  • Pushes and pulls toys while walking (A): He walks pushing anything, the walker, the toy piano, the tricycle, chairs, bins, but does not pull anything
Other accomplishments
  • He claps at the right time to If You're Happy and You Know It
  • He turns pages in books
  • He understands when someone (usually Alexa) is sad and gives hugs & kisses
  • He is beginning to stack blocks (does better with larger ones then small ones... and the best part for him, knocking them over!!)
  • He can climb up stairs completely independently, as well as safely slide down 'em on his belly
  • He dances to music
  • He gave up his pacy!! (Well, I took it away from him, but it is still an accomplishment)
  • He will fake cough if you ask, "Jack do you have a cough?" Then after doing it a few times, he laughs and laughs. The boy is getting a sense of humor :) I also had this pacifier game I played with him (that he usually initiated by putting his pacy in my mouth & laughing), he would tug on it until I would let it go and then quick as can be shove it into his mouth, repeat repeat repeat, and he would be in hysterics the whole time!
Jack loves...
  • playing in water! He had so much fun going to pools this summer :) LOVES taking baths (even though Daddy spends lots of time saying "Jack sit down") and really enjoyed swim lessons (that he took in Sept - Oct)
  • his tag blankie and stuffed moose at nap/bedtime... so much so that when we forgot to pack them for Perry this past weekend he was extremely upset when being put to bed :(
  • Alexa ♥ She is seriously his favorite person in the entire world. He calls her name, looks for her, follows her... For right now, they are the very best of friends :) (And I hope that we can find a way to ensure they always remain so close!)
  • Chloe... He loves to watch her, and most particularly to feed her (even though we tell him no)
  • Daddy ♥ As soon as he gets in the door from work, it is all about "Dada" all night. I'm chopped liver, LOL
  • playing! His favorite toys include (but aren't limited to and are constantly changing) anything to do with the kitchen set (a spoon, pots, the ear of corn), various cars, the vacuum, phones, dinosaur, books (although he tore apart his favorite Oscar the Grouch book on Sunday, boo - his other fave is The Three Bears by Byron Barton), motorcycle, Pokey the rocking horse.
  • food: bananas, blueberries, grapes, apples, PB&J sandwich, waffles, yogurt, hot dogs/sausage, chicken nuggets, rolls/biscuits, Chex mix... Notice a trend? Mostly things with carbs (i.e. breads and fruits)
  • playing Peek-A-Boo!!!! He is starting to do a good job of actually covering his eyes (rather than placing his hands on his forehead, that both our babies have done initially when learning this milestone game) and will sometimes say, "Jack???" or "Boo!"
Jack is...
  • (and has been) completely transitioned from bottles to sippy cups. He stopped breastfeeding at about 11 months old and was on formula for a month then we switched him to milk in a cup.
  • no longer on medicine for acid reflux. We weaned him from it back in July and he has done great without it!
  • the proud owner of 7 (I think) teeth. He doesn't really let you get in there and look around! I've always been a big fan of the gummy grins since they only last a short part of a baby's life, but even I have to admit that when he smiles and shows those ' teethers' it makes me smile too :)
  • a total handful! But I absolutely love this boy to pieces!! Even when he is frustrating me, it is hard to stay angry because he has the cutest face ever. His smile just melts my heart
  • a sponge - ready to learn, I think. He has become fascinated with teeth recently and can also identify where his belly is :) I really am excited about the winter weather forcing us to stay inside more often so that I can really begin to work with him on some stuff! I've also been encouraging Alexa to help out too - she knows to help him with his words by telling him what something is when he points to it :)
  • a camera's delight, haha! Seriously, our lil buddy takes THE best pictures!!!! In fact, one of his pics from his Sept 1-Year photo shoot was on display at Portrait Innovations the entire month of October.
Many of you can probably remember when I was posting about Jack's plagiocephaly condition back in the spring... I'm sure by now, you know that we opted to NOT treat it with a molding helmet. It was an extremelyyyy tough decision for Dan and I, one that we constantly second-guessed ourselves about, but ultimately we came to the conclusion that the potential help it would offer in reshaping his moderate condition did not offset the potential damage it could do to him in all aspects of his development. The doctors/nurses told us that either way his head would always be slightly asymmetrical (i.e. even the helmet would not have made Jack's head perfectly round). Studies showed that in cases similar to his, equal success was made with repositioning techniques while sleeping and keeping the child off his head while awake. Mainly with those two points in mind compared to the risk of the helmet hindering breastfeeding, crawling/walking, talking, and his overall personality, we just thought it was in our/Jack's best interest to be diligent with repositioning him to his left side or belly while sleeping and staying upright while awake. And that is exactly what we have done. When I took him back to see the pediatric neurosurgeon's nurse practioner back in May or June (I can't exactly remember when) she was astounded at the progress his head had made!! Our pediatrician comments every time we see her that his head just looks great too! Of course, there are days when we over-analyze, question, re-think our choice - but in the end, I think we made the right decision for Jack.

Just to be a tad nostalgic - Let's take a quick look at photos to see how much my most favorite little boy has grown and changed in his first year!!

Welcome to the world, Jack Walter Ritchey!!

A newborn photograph taken when Jack was 6 days old

We knew those eyes were gonna stay baby blue - 4 months

Happiest kid alive - 8 months old

Our big boy (this is the pic of him that was on display at the portrait studio) - 1 Year

Happy 1st Birthday!!

What an absolutely incredible year it has been with the amazing little boy that God blessed us with last fall. Jack Walter brings us so much joy and happiness! We are looking forward to making many more marvelous memories with our remarkable son
♥ Ciao.