Monday, May 31, 2010

We Salute You, Great Grandpa, and all Veterans on Memorial Day

Ryan is very proud of his Great Grandpa who served in the Air Force in WWII and who was shot down and kept as a Prisoner of War for over a year before being liberated. We don't thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they and their families have made for our freedom. Because of them, we are able to enjoy a free country and many privileges that we take for granted. Thank-you, those who have served, those who have been left behind as their loved ones paid the ultimate price, and those who support our troops and our veterans.  God Bless You!

Abraham Lincoln

We attended the Memorial Day services in Hull and were intrigued listening to the speaker, Mr. Stan De Haan, who is an Abraham Lincoln presenter. He delivered a first-person speech about our 16th president's life. I had seen Stan before but really enjoyed his presentation and his uncanny resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. He was kind enough to take some pictures with Ryan after the service.

Stan farms near Newkirk, Iowa and travels with his wife giving speeches about Abraham Lincoln. He has won all 4 of the Abe Lincoln look-alike contests that he's entered and you can see why! Below is a clip of Mr. De Haan at the contest held in Lincoln's birthplace, Hodgenville, KY. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for more information and contact information for Stan De Haan.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Swinging Under the Apple Tree

Saturday evening I packed up Ryan to head to Hometown and we spent some time with Aunt Abbie and Uncle Wade playing on the swings at the park, then headed to my parents for some pizza. It was a beautiful night and Ryan loved trying out the swing my dad had hung in the apple tree.

The uneven branches may make it swing a bit crooked, but Ryan loved being pushed by Aunt Abbie.

He also thought it was funny to try to grab Abbie's nose every time he swung forward. And Abbie, this has NOTHING to do with the size of your nose or how you think it may be slightly bigger than normal ever since Danny DJ pushed you down the snow pile while playing King of the Hill in elementary school. Ryan thinks your nose is just lovely.

The bulls seemed interested in the activity going on under the apple tree, but lucky for us, we had a capable guard dog keeping us safe from the raging bulls.

The weather was lovely and it was fun spending time with my family outside. My mom was showing how Ryan can clap his feet together and challenged my Dad that she bet he couldn't do that.

He totally proved her wrong.

In which I write entirely too excitedly about storage bins

On Saturday Adam headed down to Omaha to help his brother and sister-in-law move, so Ryan and I had a full day of fun while Dad was gone. We took a trip to Wo-town in the morning and Ryan did great navigating Shopko, Walmart and Fareway. I used a leftover baby gift card to pick up some more storage bins to organize his outgrown clothes. (Poor kid, I use his gift cards to buy storage boxes instead of toys but our toy box can only hold so much). I can't say enough about the Sterilite bins with the handles on the BOX part that clamp the lid on from the bottom--they stack great and the lid stays ON! I'm kind of a "clamp from the bottom" evangelist and feel the need to point out to people how the lids that are supposed to just "snap" on from the top are completely worthless, especially when you're trying to jam in 7 receiving blankets you never used on top of enough 0-3 month clothes to clothe a baby for more than the 3 months the clothes might fit. I may just develop a tract about the sanity-saving powers of the Ultra Latch and pass it out in the aisles of Shopko. Also, always wait until they are 60% off at Shopko. Yes, they're the best thing since double-stick tape, but there's no need to throw away your money.

I also was excited to try the new Post-It Super Sticky Removable Label Pads which, in my opinion, are a genius idea that I thought of about 4 years ago and I'm glad to see the people at 3-M finally felt the pain of people like me who use post-its to label everything but tend to liberally apply packing tape to keep them in place. Label Pads rock my world and I ain't afraid to shout it.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Pool Party!

Ok, more like Tub Time! It was so hot out today but I didn't feel like putting up the whole pool, so I just put Ryan's bathtub out on the deck and it was perfect size for him to splash around and play with his toys!

Central Park

...not to be confused with the hangout spot of the "Friends", this is the park only a few blocks from our house. I brought Ryan over in the stroller today and while Nika chilled out in the shade (3 blocks is too long for a wussy black dog to be out in the hot sun), we played on the swings and merry-go-round. Here's some fun photos from the park!
Look mom, no pants!
There's a hint of shorts here, but somehow your eye is immediately drawn to the the intersection of his calves and feet, known in some circle as "ankles", but the term hardly captures what we have going on here.
Hats are for babies.
Babies like me who have blond hair and don't want to scald their scalp!
 Here's to hoping Ryan doesn't inherit his mom's motion sickness!
All signs point to: "Give it a whirl!"

Who's Cooler than Cool?

Big Helper

One of my projects for today was to re-sort all of Ryan's clothes and pack away the too-small and too-hot things in favor of the shorts and shirts that will accommodate the rising temperatures and expanding belly. We have been so blessed to have a family in town give us their son's clothes as he outgrows them and since he was born a year before Ryan, they are the right season. Plus they're Twins fans, so you can't beat that. Our time of sharing clothes with Lincoln has come to an end since Ryan has outgrown his cousin, but I still think we're sitting okay for a summer wardrobe, at least until we figure out what works and doesn't work on Buddy Boy's body.

Ryan was a BIG HELPER while I was sorting clothes.
He helped me take all his clothes out of the drawer!
Now I just have to teach him how to fold and he has to grow about 4 feet so he can reach the hangers.


I can't share all the details of my time in Chicago, but I'll give you an overview of how I spent my 5 days away from home.

On Sunday I got up at the crack of insanity to make it to the airport an hour before my 7am flight. I love the Sioux Falls airport because you can park about 100 feet from the door, there's hardly anyone in line, and the wait for security is minimal. Plus, if your gate changes, the most you'll have to move is across the hallway. What I'm not so found of is the teeny tiny plane where anyone over 5'7" would have to bend in half to walk into the aircraft and there are only overhead compartments above the "2 seat" aisle, but not the "1 seat" aisle. The good thing is, it was a direct flight. I don't travel well in the mornings on minimal sleep and got pretty sick on the plane and the ensuing car ride to the convention center. Nothing like starting off a work trip right by puking in front of your co-workers (at least I made it out of the car). embarrassing.

We spent the rest of the day turning this:
...into this:

All in a day's work. Well, maybe a day and a half, and a LOT of carpet tape. We had some pretty good food at Hackney's that night and I was thrilled to be able to talk to Adam and Ryan on Skype.

Monday we just finished up the booth, had an hour or two of down time when I swam a few laps in the pool before meeting up with the sales people for some Chicago-style pan pizza.

Tuesday was time to get the show on the road! I spent the day handing out samples, running the Plinko game, giving out prizes, and high-fiving, dancing, imitating, and doing anything in my 7-foot inflatable costumed power to make people smile, look at our booth, and want to BUY BUY BUY!

This is me (the big pink guy):
 Tuesday night we ate Italian tapas at Quartino's and were pretty exhausted from our first day at the show.

Wednesday was Day 2 of the 2010 Sweets & Snacks Expo. I guess I could describe the show to you a little bit. Imagine 9 football fields of candy (and snacks) divided into colorful and extravagant booths. Then imagine smelling cinnamon piped in using machines, only slightly overpowering the sugar fragrance that tickles your brain in that funny way that makes you want to dive into an ice-cold pool. If you don't know what I mean, you have not lived the candied life I have in the last 4 years.  By day 2, even a die-hard like me skips over the never ending supply of free chocolate peppermint bark in favor of the $11 salad bar because the sugar is truly overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, it is an awesome experience, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Although the people trying to sneak out with multiple beach bags full of samples seem to disagree on this point.

My hips (not to mention my feet and knees) were screaming at me by Wednesday afternoon and I gave my coworker a shot at the costume. I sort of got a picture with Mr. Bonbons, but as you can see, he kind of crowded me out of the picture, haha. It's tough being as wide as you are tall!
Several of us walked down to Miller's Pub that night to celebrate our last night in the windy city. Yummy!
Thursday gave us an opportunity to walk the show floor, check out the new products, displays, and booths, and gather some samples. We sent a lot of the candy back to the office to share, but I have a fair amount here at home. Just what I need, right? More candy!

Tear-down went great but the traffic back to O'Hare was horrendous. Thank goodness for an understanding co-worker, because I had to lay down for most of the 90 minutes in stop-and-go traffic. I'm surprised I was able to hold it together until the rental car place! Once we got to the airport, it was pretty much insanity. A multitude of people, smells, and security.  Hundreds of people in a line are never a good thing to someone not feeling well, but hundreds of people sans shoes just about put me over the brink again.  We finally made it through security and found a restaurant where I could order some chicken noodle soup and salad. We chatted with a flight attendant working the Shanghai route and she had all kinds of interesting stories to share! It made me wish I was a better traveler because there were all sorts of international destinations she recommended but all I could think of was how sick I would be trying to get there. Ugh.

Our flight left on time, thank goodness (my coworker on another airline got delayed 4 hours) but I still didn't walk into my house until midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning. It was a fun, exhausting, busy 5 days and I am SO glad to be home!

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Night Away

On Sunday morning, I left at 4:45am to fly to Chicago for work. It sure was tough leaving my little buddy boy behind. I miss him a lot but was so excited that Adam set up Skype on our laptops so I could talk to him and Ryan last night. Ryan even smiled, giggled, and reached for the computer screen when I talked to him and it just made my day.  Everything is going pretty smoothly in Chicago except for a little car sickness (me, airplanes, 90 degree weather and city traffic do not get along well on 4 hours of sleep). I don't return home until late Thursday night and it's tough being away from the ones I love for that long, but I'm excited to spend 4 days with Ryan when I get back,

Mommy loves you and misses you!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stay Off the tickles

Congrats, Adam!

On Saturday, we celebrated Adam's graduation from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. He received his Masters of Science Degree in Education witha  7-12 Professional School Counseling endorsement. We are so proud of all the hard work Adam put in the last three years and are especially excited to have him home this summer!

We celebrated at his favorite Mexican restaurant in Storm Lake with Adam's parents, brother, sister-in-law, and my mom. The waiter went around the table taking everyone's orders and said "And for you, amigo?" to Ryan. :)
After lunch, we enjoyed some coffee at the "Common Grounds" and Adam headed over to line up while we made for the gym. It was warm and sunny outside but terribly windy! No pictures by the lake this time!  We settled into the top section of the bleachers and listened to bagpipe music as the students made their way from the chapel, through the arch, and into the gym. We spotted Adam walking in!
The commencement address was given by Sen. Tom Harkin, who prefaced his speech by saying that a graduation speaker is like an Irish wake. You need someone in order to have the party, but you don't really expect them to say anything.

Adam was in the very front row, so we didn't have to wait long until they announced his name, hooded him, and gave him his diploma.

Then we waited for about 700 other names to be read and diplomas handed out. I think my mom was the most prepared of all of us for this portion of the ceremony.
Ryan did great through most of the ceremony. He spent a little time like this:
...but perked up once it officially started and played on grandpa and grandma's laps or rocked in my arms for the whole thing. He sure was a trooper!

After the ceremony, we met on the lawn and tried for a few family pictures. It was quite sunny and as you can tell, I did not have my camera settings correct, but at least we captured the memory (and I'm hoping the ones on Sue's camera turned out better).

Ryan is sure proud of his daddy!

And I am too!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Funny Books from Funny Blogs

A big theme in humor blogs is to collect some of the "best of" and several "never before seen" entries and create a book! I don't totally get the point of owning these books since they're not the type I'd read over and over, but they would be the type that would be fun to pass around among friends. If you're ever looking for a huge sleep-robber (a.k.a waste of time but just can't.stop.clicking), check out the websites that inspired these books.

Other People's Rejection Letters: Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You'll Be Glad You Didn't Receive
Other People's Rejection letters; Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You'll Be Glad You Didn't Receive by Bill Shapiro


Classic Post:  1958 letter from Walt Disney telling a lady that women can't do any of the illustrations, they can only do tracings and inking. All the drawing is done by young men only.
Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite and Hilariously Hostile Writings
Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite and Hilariously Hostile Writings  by Kerry Miller


Classic Post:

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong
Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates


Classic Post:
Awkward Family Photos
Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack


Classic Post:
Caption: He considered the earrings, but thought it would look too matchy-matchy.