Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ritter Family Vacation (Part 2)

The resort where we stayed was also home to a bunch of beautiful horses.
We missed this part, but the kids got to go on pony rides!
Well, Brody did...
And Marissa did...
But Grey?
We heard that while he really loves the "horsies," he did not really love the idea of getting ON one!

In keeping with tradition, we did a family photo shoot. Last year it was the ocean, this year, the country!
I'm just going to do a massive picture dump here.. but pay attention, because some of them are from setting up/just funny moments caught in between the real shots!
I'm going to stop there because I love my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law! :)

Ritter Family Vacation (Part 1)

Back in May, yes, May... told you, I'm really behind... we went on vacation in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, with Michael's family. I'm just getting to posting some of the millions of pictures that were taken, now.

We stayed in a darling little cabinet in the woods. It was really peaceful and quiet.

Which was nice.
We spent one day in Charlottesville with my in-laws. Shopping on the Downtown Mall...
And brilliant, delicious lunch at a darling little cafe.
We enjoyed time not only with Michael's parents, but also his brother and sister in law, Jarred and Crystal, and their boys, Brody and Grey. And his Aunt Tonja, Uncle Robby and cousin Marissa. We missed Caitlin though!!!
We played and played...And ate and ate...
I have a picture of LaDonna doing this very same thing from every vacation we have ever taken together.
And this same picture of Buddy too! Haha.
Of course, there was picture time on the deck...
And LOTS of time at the pools... (indoor and outdoor)
More to come... I think I have now maxed out Blogger's ability to upload photos! :)

Catching Up...

Hello friends, family, and random blog readers. I hope you all know how much I truly appreciate the fact that you click over here however you get here, and are interested enough in our little lives to read for a moment.

I wish I had more time to update.
I hope you're not bored.

I'm sitting in a hotel room in Waterloo, Iowa as I write this. Watching Meet the Press.
I'm alone. It's quiet in here, and there are absolutely zero living organisms that need my time and/or attention, so I have some time to update this sucker.

So, naturally, I'm going to start where I left off, kind of.
Buckle up!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Half and Half

It's June 16th.

Every morning at breakfast, Michael reads from this Billy Graham book we have on our dining room table, it's like a little devotional book.

I've been so busy lately, I didn't realize that June 16th was coming up until I was flipping through the pages of that book, this morning.
When I turned to today's page, it hit me.

17 years today.

17 years today, Michael broke his neck. He was 17 when it happened.
So, today, he's been paralyzed for half of his life.
Doesn't that seem insane?

You'd think it would be like this big day you would see coming. I have no idea how you'd mark an anniversary like that. A couple of years ago, when it was 15 years, I sent him a card. Last year, I cried to myself, just a little bit, not so happily wishing this third person in our marriage, his disability, a "Happy Birthday." This morning, we didn't do anything, except to talk (very briefly) about it, over breakfast.

Michael is really, really good at this. He has developed an amazing resilience. He almost never cries or gets sad or frustrated. He does lots of things he probably technically shouldn't be able to do. He is AMAZING. And if you think he's an inspiration to you, you have no idea the example he is for me!! Although, I did hear him sigh and grunt a few times this morning when he dropped his toothpaste on the floor. I actually love it when he shows even just the smallest bit of frustration with the situation, because it makes him a little more human and makes me feel like less of a complainer. :)

Some days it's not a big deal. Some days, it's the worst thing in the world. 17 years ago today, my heart breaks for what that little teenage guy and his sweet family were going through. I can't even imagine. But, boy am I glad my Michael pushed and pushed and went through all he went through to become the amazing man and husband that he is today. I sure do love him!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Letters to a Paralyzed Husband: Be a Team

Introduction: This is the first of a series of posts inspired by the upcoming wedding of a bright-eyed couple who we met via this blog. I have thought of things we have found helpful. Some are specific to being paralyzed, but most have a kernel that applies to any marriage.

When you become a husband, your spouse is your partner for life. The familiar vows, "for better or worse," encompass about every situation you'll face in life. The most important takeaway is to face every situation together. Regardless of situations, your spouse is your most important teammate.
Our first winter together, Dana and I were eager to play in the fourteen inches of freshly-fallen snow. She bundled me up like a mommy does a little kid and got a serving spoon --she didn't know why I asked for it. By the time I was all prepped she was a frustrated mess. It was the first realization what a production just going out in the winter would be. She was done.

That's when I realized something very important. I told her, "We're a team. We're doing this together. You're not just my support crew. You're the quarterback."

During football season communities rally around their team. Fans don their gear and cheer on the players. Cheerleaders rally the crowd and the players. Coaches lead the players. The support crew supplies the players.

You and your spouse are teammates. Neither of you is a fan, watching from the bleachers. She is not your cheerleader, pumping you up for your big play. You are not the coach, telling her how to play the game. She is not your support crew, making sure you are attended to.

As a husband with a disability, you are not the one being taken care of any more. Your role is significantly changed. If you have caregivers still, they are an extension of you --like your hands, arms and legs-- but not your mind. Your life doesn't revolve around your caregivers' needs, but around what is good for your spouse.

Remember this: your spouse is your number one teammate. She's the all-star quarterback and you're the offensive lineman. Together you execute the plays. She will throw the ball sometimes (letting someone else do things you need), other times she'll run with the ball (carrying the responsibility herself). You run ahead and make sure nothing gets in her way. This means confronting people, managing and heading off snags in your day-to-day care, and making sure she feels protected.

A team requires good game plans and communication. You will face several challenges. As time goes by, you'll recognize them before they come. Your challenges are unique to your personalities and needs (physical, spiritual, social, and emotional). Talk about them and together work out how you can handle them next time.

"The best offense is a strong defense." This puts a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Your disability brings you both challenges you cannot imagine. Get this concept in your head and everything else we cover will fall in line: you are the first line of defense and essential source of security for your spouse.

We still remind ourselves when we're knee-deep in the mud that we are a team getting through this together. We went out in the snow --despite narrowly-plowed sidewalks and places D had to push me through. We played, drew in the snow, and even had a snowball fight (ergo the spoon). It was a memorable day we could have missed out on if we'd given up.

Added by Dana: We never saw that spoon again. It was lost in the snow when Michael threw one of his "snowballs" at me!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Can't Keep Up

Hello, friends.
I am smack dab in the middle of one of those seasons of life that feels like it is spinning.
I feel like it is perpetually 4 o'clock.
4:00 in the morning = time to get up.
4:00 in the evening = I need to leave work and get home.

Somebody. Please. Stop. The. Train.

May, with the exception of vacation, which I still haven't found the time to blog about, was crazy!
I did a lot of it to myself, as usual.
Deciding to turn our house upside down, re-organize and re-arrange. I spent time on Craigslist, which in turn led to late nights driving to Maryland and such and unloading furniture and building furniture and unloading a freezer out the backside of my SUV. Which, by the way is dirty. I hate having a dirty car.

While on steriods.
Yes. My little hand condition acted up in a major way so I had to go on Prednisone. I have such a love/hate relationship with Prednisone. I love the way it makes the skin on my hands normal and I can do anything without pain, like wash my hands, squeeze small items and drive. I hate the way it makes me swell up and doesn't let me sleep.

So, I have been incredibly productive lately. But now, I'm incredibly tired. And grumpy. My poor husband.

I'm getting ready to travel again this weekend for work. I'm looking forward to it. I am. But, I would really appreciate it if life would slow down a little so I can just sit at the pool for one afternoon.

And do nothing.

I signed myself up to run a 5K a couple of months ago. Needless to say, the race is coming up on Saturday and I don't even know if I have it in me to do it. I'm deathly afraid of finishing last. It's happened before. That's something I will only allow once in my life.

My closet I spent so much time organizing, came crashing down the other day. So, all of my hanging clothes are hanging out on our couch. And I know it sounds petty, but it really pisses me off! I hate coming home to that mess. Maybe by tomorrow, I can have everything back in it's place. I sure hope so.

And maybe I can vaccum out the SUV and get my eyebrows waxed. Perhaps then, the world will once again feel like it has some order. Before I leave Sunday for New Hampshire, then Friday to visit my family.

Okay. Ranting/venting session is now over.
Mostly because any moment now the stuffed pork chops in the oven will ding. Right at about, oh, bedtime.

Thanks for reading.
It does help to just jot my feelings/frustrations down every now and then.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

ATL Travelogue, in Pictures

My friend Christin has one of the most adorable, fabulous blogs of all time. Check it out.
Christin travels a lot for her job, and always has these great trips. I love reading about her adventures, her meals, etc. and seeing her pictures.

So, I think I'll copy her.
I'm traveling more and more now that the Presidential race is really heating up.

In May, it was a quick trip down to Atlanta, etc. I'll hit the highlights with some pictures for you. On our work trips, we work really hard, and really long. But, I love what I do. I love the people I work with. So, I keep doing it. Even though it is exhausting and on a personal finance level, quite expensive. :)

Okay, buckle up. Here's DCA-ATL (with a trip to SC in there too, Brody File style) in pictures:

We ate at The Varsity. An Atlanta establishment.
Hmm. Ever wonder why the South totally kicks the rest of the country's butt in heart attacks, etc?
I did my part.
And Royce had a milkshake-like thingy that tasted like Baby Aspirin.

This is Woodstock, GA. We interviewed a major Tea Party leader in this adorable little park. But, the highlight of the day for me was when Jamie Goodwin made a quick drive-by and I got to say hi to her in the car!
We stayed in a Homewood Suites. Free dinner and lunch. I'm all about that! Too bad, I left a jacket in this hotel room. I'm on a horrible streak of forgetfulness lately.
There was a lot of sweet tea on this trip...
We interviewed another Tea Party leader in her home.
She has two adorable chocolate labs.
This one snored very loudly during our interview. Very funny.
We covered the first Republican Presidential debate, in Greenville, SC.
And celebrated Ace Washington Post reporter/dean of political reporting Dan Balz's birthday...
A saw a good old friend for a quick Starbucks run in Downtown Greenville. That town is A-dorable, by the way!
We drove back up to Atlanta to do our show from a park there, downtown.
Hopped on a plane to come back to DC...
Where I unpacked, and set up shop to start editing the show from my home office, with my trusty little Associate Producer and his assistant.
Phew. Did I mention all of that was in like a 48 hour period?

Oh, our show, The Brody File, started a new segment documenting our traveling experiences.
You can see part of that right here. This is pretty much for my mom, who I think really wishes she could see me ON TV more. But, no thanks on that, Mom. Here you go: