Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday, Grandpa!

Today is my Grandpa's 90th birthday. He is an amazing man who's led an amazing life! He just moved into the nursing home last week, but a few weeks ago he was mowing lawns, golfing, going to coffee (gas station in the morning, bowling alley at 5 for a Dr. Pepper), and cruising around town in his HHR with chrome rims! :)

I stopped by over my lunch today, but walked right into the "hymn sing-along" (oops!) so I didn't get a chance to talk to him, just stayed to sing a few songs, but I know he was well-remembered with family and friends visiting and many cards being delivered.

Here are some of my favorite memories of Grandpa Jim:
  • Playing cards at the kitchen table on Sunday afternoons. We played "King's Corner" and "Golf" but I hated the game "Hearts", so I'd go to the back bedroom to watch Nickelodeon (or Wings on USA) whenever they played that game. 
  • On the drive home, sometimes he'd let us "drive". He'd do the gas and we'd steer the wheel. If we took the blue and white pickup home, we'd sit in the back on the wheel wells and used brooms to sweep the streets as we drove the few blocks home. Obviously this was before people got uptight about child restraint.
  • When Grandpa came to mow at our house on Saturday or in the summer, he'd ask us if we wanted to go out for "coffee" after he was done. He'd take us to the bowling alley where we would get to pick out 2 Little Debbie packages from under a special glass dome on the counter.  One of us would share a package with Grandpa and the other 2 sisters would share the other package. My favorite was the Chocolate Chip Cakes but I have many memories of Swiss Cake Rolls too! Such a simple act that meant so much to us!
  • Grandpa has thick white hair that is actually quite long if you comb it straight up! Which we did, using rubber bands to put it in all kinds of ponytails while he [pretended] to sleep in the chair.
  • He would sing a little tune called "Never on a Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, always on a Monday, Monday, Monday. Never on a Monday, Monday, Monday, Always on a Tuesday..." and would often fill a silence with a cheerful "doo-pee-doo".
  • In high school, I got to introduce him as the speaker at a Veteran's Day assembly at our school. Grandpa was a tail gunner in the Air Force during WWII and after his plane was shot down, he parachuted into enemy territory, was captured, and spent 1 year and 1 day as a Prisoner of War. He occasionally will give a talk about his experience and what it means to have freedom--not only in our country, but freedom in Christ. I sincerely appreciate the sacrifices he made and am proud of his service.
  • He owned a trucking business but sold it right after I was born to the parents of one of my classmates. I sincerely appreciate the fact that the company still bears my grandpa's name and I think it still gives him pride to see those trucks and that name.
  • He has lived a life of service to others that is worth following. In addition to mowing lawns, I know he did many things for widows in town, delivered bulletins to shut-ins, picked ladies up for church, played bingo at the nursing home, and brought people out for coffee who didn't have many friends. I'll never know all the things he did for people, but the ones I do know of made an impression on me of how going out of your way just a little can mean a lot for other people.
  • He likes watching sports--golf on TV and basketball in person. My grandma and him used to go to the High School Boys State Tournament every year and watched the games all week. They'd line up way early to get their special seats--half court line, in the balcony, just to the left of the door, about 2 rows up in the old Vets Auditorium.  He's also been a big following of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
  • In his younger days, he played on the Hometown softball team called the "Orphans". They were called the Orphans because they didn't have a home field.  He enjoyed watching baseball and softball in later years and I enjoyed listening to his "field chatter" such as "Just a little bingo, that's all we need, just a little bingo."
  • He went to Northwestern College in Orange City back when it was a Junior College. He said he took a bus and paid $110 tuition, which he paid for by sweeping Zwemer Hall!  He played on the basketball team and the football team, although he said his year of college was the first time he'd ever played football.
  • During the Orange City Tulip Festival, they used to choose some young men to carry the queen. I think he said they literally carried her on some sort of contraption. Anyway, he was a member of the "court" that carried the queen.
  • Grandpa went to the public high school (the same one Adam and I graduated from, the one my grandma went to, as well as both my parents---can you tell why it's hard for me to let go of my alma mater pride?). His oldest brother went to the Christian High School, but he said once there got to be too many kids, they couldn't afford it, so the middle kids had to go to the free public school. Then, when they were out of the house and there was only one daughter left, she got to go to the Christian School. I personally think the middle kids got the best deal! :)
  • He used to tell the story that when my grandma was in commercial college in Mankato, he'd go up to visit her and there was a 5 cent movie theater and a 10 cent movie theater in town. He never saw the inside of the 10 cent theater. (Can you also tell where I get my frugal genes from?)
  • Grandpa had a huge garden in the backyard where I'm sure he grew all kinds of things, but the only ones I distinctly remember are the red potatoes and the raspberry bushes. Yum!  My BIL (who now lives in Grandpa's old house with my sister) is trying to get the garden going again. I hope we can find a way to get rid of those rabbits!
  • I distinctly remember watching my grandpa water ski behind my Uncle's boat on Storm Lake. Since he is 90 and I am 28, this means he had to have been around 70 when I witnessed this?!
  • Watching the love and care my grandpa showed my grandma in her last few years is something that has been a great witness to me. My grandparents started dating in high school and were married for almost 66 years before my grandma passed last September. His love for her was and is so evident to all of us.
  • A special memory that I will always hold dear is calling my grandpa only weeks after my grandma passed, telling him of the birth of our son, his 4th great-grandchild. He was so happy for us and the very next morning, he surprised us by driving to the hospital by himself to come visit. He sat with baby Ryan sleeping in his lap for over an hour and it is a picture I'll never forget. He talked about how he wished my grandma could see him, but that since macular degeneration had taken her sight here on earth, maybe she could see him better in heaven. 
  • In the last few months, I've walked into my parents house several times, catching him laying on the floor playing with Ryan and on the phone, he asks what Ryan is up to now. I hope Ryan will grow up to know the great man his great grandpa is and will be able to carry on his legacy of love for God, family, and country.

We love you, Grandpa!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cookies by the Dozen

I got the baking itch on Saturday morning, but saying I "baked some cookies" is like saying Norman Borlaug "fed some people".  Maybe someday IPTV will do a documentary on the Mother of the Cookie Revolution, but somehow I don't think my contributions to the waistlines of my friends and family holds quite the significance of saving people from starvation.

What I'm trying to say is, I baked a lot of cookies.

The final count included 7.5 dozen frosted oatmeal cookies, 5.5 dozen gingersnaps, and 5.5 dozen chocolate chip cookies. I think my Oster hand mixer deserves a hand for not shorting out in the quest to mix 3 large sticky batches of dough. It makes me wish for a KitchenAid stand mixer now more than ever, but I haven't quite figured out how to justify the $300+ price tag yet. Saying "But it's PRETTY," does not convince my inner Dutch voice (yes, I had the argument with myself and the Dutch side won...again). I guess my Consumer voice needs to either find a stronger argument or just admit defeat because I'm tired of listening to those two bicker.

Anyway, the cookies got a trial taste-testing by Adam and myself (the broken ones only...I swear! Plus the ones I dropped on the floor. And the ones whose frosting smeared a little. And the ones that were hanging too far off the cooling rack. It was a safety issue, really).  They all passed the test!

I took a plate to the school staff cookout last night where they barely got touched since there were 15 other amazing desserts (my plan worked :) and I happily took most of them home. I sent some home with my sister and BIL as thanks for watching Ryan last night and froze several dozen for next Sunday when we'll be celebrating my grandpa's 90th birthday with cookies after church.  That was the real impetus of the baking spree.

The sad part is, my baking ingredient stockpiling hoarding tendencies became quite evident when, with no prior planning,  I had every single ingredient needed for these cookies. In fact, I could have made twice as much.

I just couldn't ask that much from my hand mixer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I cannot wait until Outsourced starts this fall on NBC

India: "Hello, Technical Support. Can I have your user ID please?"

Me: "zr2hyq"

India: "Is this Bob?"

Me: "No, this is Co---- Bo----. Barb is the another user."

India: "You are not Bob?"

Me: "No. We have 2 IDs, one for Barb, one for me. Check the other id: zr1hyq"

India: "Oh yes, here you ahhr. How do you spell your nehm?"

Me: "C-O- - - - -- - B- O - -"

India: "Okay, thank-you, Co---."

Me: "So, I was calling because we've had some issues staying connected. I've run several reports and it acts like they are running but then I get an error and it says it can't connect to the database, or it freezes up when I try to select more than one brand, or it gives me missing data handlers, or it says there was an internal server error but my IT guy says the problem is not on our end. And it's like this every day after 3:00 for the past 2 weeks and whenever I call you guys you tell me there is "an issue" and that you will add me to the ticket and tell me when the problem is fixed, but then I get a form email saying I was added to the ticket but never get an email telling me the problem is fixed so I go on the next day and sometimes it works in the morning, but never in the afternoon and I really need to work on some reports..."

India [interrupting my tirade]: "Ah yes, I think there is an issue. We will add you to the ticket and tell you when the problem is fixed. Thank-you. Goodbye."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Welcome to Randomness

Here's a little peek at things I have actively thought about or accomplished tonight in the approximately 4 hours I've been home from work.

  • Gave Charade clues to Adam to help him remember the name of the TV show that Tony Danza was on. Tony Danza entered the conversation when I asked who the Tony is that they sing about in the Minnesota Twins song right before "The Killer and Carew". (It's not Tony Danza.)
  • Gathered documents to refinance our house if we can get a lower interest rate and tried to calculate the chances of moving out of this house in the next 1, 2, 3, or 5 years.
  • Read half of where "The Wild Things Are" and decided I like that book about as much as Goodnight Moon.  I may rewrite that one as "Where the Chocolate Things Are" just to see if it will peak my interest a little more. Ryan didn't like "Wild Things" either. He's a bigger fan of Bendan Bear and the Gentle Animals. They're...tamer.
  • Wondered how my dog could possibly have to poop 2 times during a 20 minute walk.
  • Decided the next item I want to get from The Pampered Chef is the Double Boiler.
  • Tried to figure out a babysitting schedule for the next few weeks that makes me think being an air traffic controller at O'Hare would be a cake walk.
  • Sat on the deck during a 15 minute phone call, acquired 2 new bug bites and tried to decide if I was being dive-bombed by a cicada or a hummingbird.
  • Meticulously peeled and diced peaches, peeled and quartered grapes, rinsed and chopped leftover spaghetti noodles, and cut up cooked italian vegetables for Ryan. Then for my own supper ate a few bites of leftover spaghetti, the leftover peach slices, a chocolate ice cream cone and an Oreo. Do as I say, not as I do, kid.
  • Discussed how I would use a Smart Board in a trade show booth.
  • Sent a friend a virtual Kleenex on Facebook.
  • Wondered where the last 1.5 hours went wasted on the computer yet again when I haven't even started doing what I came on here to do which was to put some pictures of Ryan together to print for my grandpa who just went into the nursing home today.
So, off I go. So long from Randomness, USA, where the men have sock tans, the women don't wear earrings, and all the kids are in love with colanders.

Jello Stapler Fail

It's not like I didn't do my research people. I didn't go to www.jellostapler.com for nothing. I followed the [should be] patented "dental floss" technique. I perused the gallery YES I SAID GALLERY of other people putting staplers (and mugs, name plates, a computer mouse, a gift card, etc.) in jello. I fondly thought of the Office episode where Jim puts Dwight's stapler in jello and Michael tries to think of "something with pudding" to one-up Ryan's "put him in custardy". I recalled the nervousness I felt for Jim when he found out Andy was not as amused by the calculator-in-jello trick, especially when Andy kicked that waste basket.  I imagined in my mind a perfect end result so I could proudly display my blue [non Swingline] stapler encased in delicious Fastco brand strawberry gelatin that has been in my Jello drawer for over 3 years. (Wait, does not everyone have a Jello drawer? Where else do you keep your tin foil, toothpicks, and sandwich bags?) I visualized triumphantly uploading a picture of my masterpiece to www.jellostapler.com so it could live on in the gallery of geeks who are fans of the Office like me.

But alas. Fail.

Too bad, Jello Stapler, because I've always been your biggest flan.

Team Awesome

Old Fashioned Devil's Food Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache.
Buttercream frosting recipe and shell technique learned from Wilton Decorating Cakes Book.
Frosted using the Large Spreader and the Decorator Bottle Set from The Pampered Chef.

This cake was made for Adam's school fitness team who got together for an "end of summer fish fry /slash/ deck christening party." We enjoyed some awesome Alaskan Halibut and so much other food that we never even cut the cake! So, no one on Team Awesome ate the Team Awesome cake that night. Awesome.

After two days of Adam forgetting to bring the cake to school, one of the guys finally stopped by on Tuesday night to get his piece with ice cream. I'm pretty sure he'd been thinking about it since Saturday. I think it was the white polka dots of buttercream that really tipped him over the edge. Anyway, by Wednesday morning almost 3/4 of the cake was still left so I brought it to work with me.

Where it was reduced to a few crumbs and a smear of ganache by 10 o'clock AM.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


This weekend we had a furry visitor I like to call "Milonovich." She and her cousin "Nikovsky" always enjoy a good Russian tussle when they're together and now Ryan is getting old enough to join in the fun. Here's a few photos of their weekend together.

"Dahling! Eet ees vonderful to see you, no?" *air kisses*

"Greetings. You seem to be taking the "red scare" a little too literally."

"Mommy! The commies are coming!"

"She must be licking the mutton and Borscht from my fingers."

Milonovich, Nikovsky, Rynonskaia

How happy Nika was when Milo finally took a nap.

This last pictures has nothing to do with Milo, it's just a sweet example of me being totally oblivious to the fact that the dog is eating my child's finger. Don't call DHS...he laughed and no blood was shed. Well, except earlier when Ryan was wildly waving a rattle around and ended up cutting his lip. A cold teething ring seemed to do the trick to calm him down and it looked good as new in no time. Amazing how babies heal freakishly fast! It also reminded me of a funny little memory:  One time I was babysitting my cousin, C, who was probably 5 at the time. While playing at the park, he stumbled and cut his lip open, gushing blood. I ran him home in a panic, gave him ice cubes in a washcloth to suck on and debated whether or not I should call his mom. I asked him how he was doing and through sobs he finally got out "I...*sob*...think... *sniff sniff*...I better just...*hiccup*...lay down and watch cartoons for a while."  haha. Oh the healing powers of Tom & Jerry.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coffee and Countries

The Lantern, a brand new coffee shop & roastery in town just opened and we stopped by for some live  music and mocha frappes!  We couldn't stay long since it was getting time for Ryan to go to bed, but we were excited to see the new business opening and we look forward to patronizing it again soon!

Also, in unrelated news:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Favs

Favorite quote by Twin's announcer Bert Blyleven this week:  "It's Lutheran night here at Target Field. If they were selling tuna casserole at the concessions, they'd make a killing!" [insert panning crowd shot of couples in their mid-sixties wearing white t-shirts with birds on them, high-waisted light khaki shorts with braided belts, and long socks with tennies.]

Favorite way to make sure everyone is clear you're going for the "country" theme in your kitchen: Dishwasher cover

Most awkward email received today: a forward from a co-worker showing "things to see on a beach worse than the oil spill" featuring severely unattractive people in bathing suits and reading on the email trail that she got it from her aunt, MY FIRST GRADE TEACHER WHO IS 83 YEARS OLD!

Favorite male "winter collection" runway looks:

Favorite possibility for Ryan's Halloween costume: (This one's for you, Steph)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crawling & Cruising

After holding out on the crawling for just long enough to make me a little nervous, Ryan has finally become Mr. Mobile!  He started crawling by pushing off with his right foot and landing on his left knee/lower leg, then pushing off again. This created a half bear-crawl/half real crawl that was a little lopsided, made his whole left leg get floorburn, and usually resulted in him flopping to his stomach in seal position in order to reach out for whatever he was going after.  After about 2 weeks of this, he is finally figuring out that left knee/right knee is a little faster and less lopsided.

Tonight we were playing with his Fisher-Price Stride-To-Ride Lion and since he loves to walk/run while holding on to our fingers, I decided to try the "Stride" part of the Lion and see what happened. We were pretty surprised! 

I'm sorry the videos are are separate below, but I currently hate youtube and can't figure out how to get a custom player like I used to have with the videos down the side. Maddening and as it approaches 11pm, it makes me even more frustrated.  So, here are 4 videos. If you don't have time for all of them, just be sure to watch the "Lion Cruising 3" video all the way to the end---I love how he looks into the camera at the end!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Rhino Stomp" Sonatina, Movement 1 /aka/ "Love without Limits"

At the risk of disturbing a maestro at work, I captured a video of Ryan's latest composition. Remember in elementary music class where you had to close your eyes and listen to "Peter and the Wolf" and then describe what animal/action the music is describing?

Well, brave readers, I invite you to open your hearts, your minds, your ears, and your emotions while you listen to Ryan's latest story-telling composition.  Listen to the highs and lows, the triumphs and tears, and the rollercoaster of emotion evident in the story of this song.

"A Rhinocerous enters a garden, tentatively sniffs a beautiful red rose while his mind wanders to a love longed for, a love found, and a love lost.  His emotions overpower his sensibility and he stomps the rose to the brink of death under his thunderous body, not caring who sees his outburst of anger nor the single tear that falls on the torn and tattered petals now ground to a petal pesto.  But as a beam of sunlight burns like a light saber through the fluffy pile of cottony clouds, he picks up his pachydermial pride, sticks his horn in the air, and lumbers off with a newfound determination to find a herbivore worthy of his affection. As he turns to leave the garden, he can't help but give one final farewell "hrump" to the rose, signifying the closing of the Book of Love Lost and a brave new journey into the world of Love without Limits."

Critics are calling this track, from "RYAN: The [Black and] White Album," a real breakthrough in the world of interpretive pianism.

"I was reeled in from the first tentative notes, thrown a curveball by the fortissimo used in the "B" section, and call the final "elbow chord" nothing short of grand slam [breakfast from Denny's]."  ~Kent Hrbek, host of "Kent Hrbek Outdoors".

"Not since 1936 have I heard a piece more stirring in the animal story-telling genre. Watch out, Prokofiev, there's a new guy in town and he's makes your duck/oboes look like rhino droppings." ~Harriette Winslow, the mom on Family Matters

"This is the best mix of music and animal since my first singing group, the Acapellicans." ~Andy Bernard, salesman at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton

Thus completes his transformation from "Buddy Boi" to "Lil' Mozart".

Monday, August 9, 2010


Tip: If you work in my office, don't tell your co-workers you hate Christmas decorations and then go on vacation! She took it quite well and actually wanted to leave it up for a while!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Goodnight Moon: College Edition

Goodnight MoonAt the risk of alienating myself from the parenting community, I'm going to stand up and admit that I just don't "get" Goodnight Moon. Part of it is the unpredictable rhythm/rhyming pattern. I've always been more of a fan of the limerick or simple AABB poems. The other part is the illogical collection of randomness supposedly in this baby bunny's bedroom. I mean, I can make the leap that the rabbit is wearing pajamas, but how does he wear the mittens when he has no opposable thumbs?

I decided to adapt the book to another situation to see if delving into it created more of an emotional connection. It didn't. But here it is: Goodnight Moon: College Edition.

In the tiny dorm room
There was a love seat
And a homecoming crown
And a picture of--

The friends from your hometown
And there were three little packs of Easy Mac
And two sets of keys and a stack of DVDs
And a big huge TV and a blanket with sleeves

And a fork and a spoon and a bowl full of ramen
And a roommate with which you have nothing in common

Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Goodnight friends from your hometown
Goodnight high school and homecoming crown
Goodnight packs
Goodnight Easy Macs
Goodnight keys
And goodnight DVDs
Goodnight Totinos
And goodnight Doritos
Goodnight big TV
And goodnight Snug-gie
Goodnight moon
And goodnight spoon
Goodnight microwave
Goodnight ramen
And goodnight to the roommate with nothing in common
Goodnight campus
Goodnight door
Goodnight everyone on my floor

P.S. This isn't enitrely auto-biographical. I had an amazing roommate, but not a Snuggie.

P.P.S. If you have any other suggestions of books that I should adapt to other situations, just let me know! Examples: The Berenstain Bears Go to Walmart, or Mr. Lee can Pee, can We?

Frankie Says Relax

Friday, August 6, 2010


Friday night, we had supper at the Relay for Life event. They announced that over the last 10 years of holding Relay for Life in our county, they've raised over half a million dollars for the American Cancer Society!

Ryan did not seem to be paying much attention to the speaker...
...so we decided to cut the night short and head for home.

Ryan got quite the swerving, speeding, wheelie-popping stroller ride home...
... but I don't think he minded.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 Months Old

Ryan turned 10 months old on our last day of vacation in Minnesota. It was his first time riding in a boat, swimming in a lake, meeting a cat, and sleeping in a closet!

Ryan is just on the brink on becoming truly mobile. He can get up on his hands and knees and often goes right to his hands and feet (bear crawl) but can't figure out using his hands to move forward. One big stride is being able to go from his tummy back to sitting. This is great so he doesn't get so frustrated and prevents us having to rescue him from his tummy after a while, but it also gives him less time on his tummy. Plus, he ends up sitting up in his crib instead of going to sleep!  Anyday now, he'll be crawling like a pro.

He can stand up next to furniture and loves walking around holding on to people's fingers. He can move pretty fast in his goose-step marching fashion! I've even had him standing on his own for a few seconds, before he realizes what's going on and makes a laughing dive for my arms.

Ryan continues to love playing ball, throwing and catching all sizes. He likes to be outside, pick grass, watch the people and cars go by, and feel the wind in his hair. Speaking of his hair, it is completely blond now and the sides and back are filled in nicely. He really could use a hair cut, but his squirminess makes me predict that would be a disaster, so we'll just continue to let it curl up.

Ryan can get pretty vocal (just ask my mom about the shrieking) and he can be quite the wiggle worm if you hold him while sitting. He is getting to the point where he can't sit through church, but he has gone to the nursery attendant happily, even when they are strangers. He certainly knows when Adam or I walk into the room and he reaches for us, but he isn't as clingy as I expected at this age. It probably helps that he sometimes has 4 or 5 different people looking after him in a week. He is very good at waving "bye-bye" and sometimes seems to do it as a "hint" that he's ready to go!

Ryan loves to eat! Puffs are still his favorite and he gobbles down any spoon-fed baby food, but he also has had finger foods like Cheerios, peaches, watermelon, peeled grapes, bagel, and noodles. The messiness is just beginning!  He has 8 teeth now and 2 white bumps where his incisors will be.

We can't get enough of our little buddy boy! He is such a good boy and although he has his moments like any other baby, we couldn't really ask for a better son!

Baby Boater in Black & White

Vacation: Ashley, Hannah and Sam

Ashly reading books.

Ashley helping Ryan walk!


Hannah loves boat rides!