Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Personalized Storage Containers in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Buy some plastic storage containers. I recommend Sterilite Showoff Storage containers because of their clip-on lids. I got these "CD Size" containers at Dollar General for $3 each.
  2. Find some permanent markers. I used Sharpies and Bic Permanent Markers and both worked well on plastic
  3. Measure how large you want the lettering and create it on a Word (or other word processing) document on the computer in a fun font. Add a shadow or outline if you wish, then print it on scratch paper.
  4. Tape the paper to the inside of the container so the printed words show through, then trace the letters using a permanent marker.
  5. Fill in the letters with your permanent marker and add any outline or shadow in a different color.
  6. Remove the paper, fill with toys, snap on the lid, and store!


    *Disclosure: UUHH...WHAT participates in the Amazon Associates program and will receive a small commission if readers click a link on this blog and make any purchase on the Amazon website.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Groundbreaking for Eaglecrest Lodge

    On Sunday afternoon, we headed out to Inspiration Hills to participate in the groundbreaking for the new Eaglecrest Lodge. I serve on the Board of Directors for Inspiration Hills and am very excited about this new building that will help carry out the mission of being a place where people can come to know and grow in Christ.  This lodge is being built to meet the needs of groups who want private rooms and want the option of providing their own meals.  It will have 17 rooms and can house 3 different groups on 3 different floors, each with their own kitchen or kitchenette and meeting rooms. It will be a terrific addition to the awesome facilities, so start thinking about booking a family reunion, meeting, or retreat! The new lodge should be ready by Spring/Summer 2011. Visit the Inspiration Hills website for floorplans, information, and a way to donate to this campaign if you feel so led. The Hills are Alive!
    The footing have already been poured and it's awesome to see our vision taking shape! 

    The first group included the Building & Grounds manager, the co-chair of the Campaign Foundation/first Board President, the current President of the Board, and the Camp Director.

    Next, members of the board and Campaign Foundation took a turn.

    Here is Corky making fun of my weak attempt to dig.

    Laurie is showing me how it's done.

     Even Ryan got a chance to dig!
    Check out the website for more pictures, including a cute one of "future camper" Ryan!

    Sunday Best

    Ryan's all dressed up in his Sunday best!

    Saturday, September 25, 2010


    Saturday afternoon we headed to Hometown to spend some time with Adam's parents, brother, and sister-in-law. We hadn't seen Andy and Kim since June, so it was great to get together again. Here's a few pics of the "B" boys cheesing it up!

    The big event of the evening was a banquet celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the church where Adam's dad is the pastor. We had a nice catered meal and then a program in the theater with a video chronicling the history of the church.  Although the rest of us enjoyed ourselves, these events were not at the top of Ryan's list of favorite things, especially after having no afternoon nap. After being very unhappy throughout supper, he finally fell asleep and stayed conked out through most of the program, including when we were introduced to the crowd. The good thing is that even though he was fast asleep on my shoulder by 7:00, he transitioned peacefully into pj's, his carseat, and then to his crib after the drive home and slept until 7:45 the next morning.  Must have been worn out from all the cheesy photo poses!

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Emily's Birthday Clothes!

    Warning--I'm posting pics of the clothes I got for Emily, so if you want them to be a surprise, don't show her this, Megan!

    On Friday morning, I saw a Garage Sale sign on the Highway pointing to a little town I bypass every day. On the way home from work to pick up Ryan for our fun afternoon, I became powerless to drive past the sign without stopping to check it out. If curiosity killed the cat, at least she got some good bargains before she went!  The sale didn't have any boys stuff, but had a great selection of girls' clothes in my niece's size: Gymboree, Gap, Nike, and Children's Place brands...and everything was $0.50 an article! After checking with my sister, I decided to pick out a few things. Emily's birthday is coming up and since we usually don't do big gifts, I sometimes try to find something small and fun to get her. In the end, I spent $5, barely more than I would on a good card, and I hope she gets a little more use out of these than she would a card!

    First Haircut!



    Friday afternoon was a Mom/Son day with only a few things on the agenda such as stroller rides, returning recalled formula, getting ready for the football game... and taking Ryan to get his first professional haircut! I've trimmed it several times already as it got long enough to be in his eyes/over his ears/borderline mullety. But, with his birthday and pictures coming up, plus a big weekend planned, I thought it was time someone fixed by choppy mistakes!

    Ryan was such a big boy--he sat on my lap and seemed pleased as punch with all the attention he got from the stylists. He wore a big cape and played with the comb he stole from the girl cutting his hair. He played ball with another stylist and smiled at everyone in the salon.  Although I liked his longer hair, it was getting a little "fluffery" (as Emily would say) and sticking out on the sides, and I'm happy with his new "big boy" cut!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Baby Basketball Dunk

    Ryan figured out this week how to put his Iowa Hawkeyes basketball through the hoop! Here's video of his slam-dunking:

    It seems he's been inspired by the trick shots at Dude Perfect. Check out this trick shot!

    Giant Cupcake

    So the back story behind this giant cupcake is that my department was going to run a cupcake walk at the company picnic with the grand prize being a giant cupcake. After the special pan, 6 cakes mixes, liners, frosting, and sprinkles were purchased, the picnic was canceled. So, we all picked a Friday to bring in our cupcakes and since I was supposed to make the big cupcake for the picnic, that's what I'm bringing tomorrow.

    I jazzed up the cake mix with a recipe from  Chocolate from The Cake Mix Doctor and turned the yellow cake mix into Peanut Butter Cake.  The silicone pan (purchased from Dollar General) was a semi-disaster and took super-long to bake, but I managed to salvage it enough to be edible...judging from the taste-testing I did on the overflow edges I cut off :).

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Comin' Awful Fast

    GOAL: Get this post written in 40 minutes or less without being distracted by evil facebook and/or random meaningless pages (have you not been to so I can get more than 6 hours of sleep.

    For once.

    Not that anything exciting or terribly interesting happened today, but I have a compulsive need to document the inane details of my life. Psychologists might say I'm trying to add meaning to my existence by projecting importance on unimportant events, but they also say stuff like "id" and "you talk too much" and I've never paid attention to either of ONWARD!

    I busted out of work not a minute past 5 (just call me Accounting...haha, I JEST) so I could make it to daycare by the sacred 6 o'clock, after which all children turn to pumpkins. Adam had an away football game, ironically in Hometown where I work, so I passed the football field on my way home to pick up Ryan.

    It was such a nice day out again that I decided Ryan should quick eat supper so we could go for a stroller ride. For those of you who don't have kids, "quick" leaves your lexicon the minute you become a parent. Parenting gives new meaning to the phrase, "T-t-t-t-today, Junior." I have no idea what movie that is from...all I know is that it isn't Tommy Boy because it is one of the few phrases we use in our house that isn't. If you created a pie chart of all quotes used in our house, it would probably look like this:

    Getting supper for Ryan has become a bit of a challenge now that he is supposed to be eating food more challenging than Stage 2 Baby Food (good-bye, Easy) but hasn't hit that magical 1-yr mark where more things are fair game.  He can't really eat what we're eating all the time because my menu plan for this week includes three choices:
    1. Potato Chowder (which he hates and scrapes out of his mouth like he accidentally started chewing cotton balls, dryer sheets and tin foil)
    2. Spicy Beef Stew (which is too hot and spicy, even for me and would burn his mouth)
    3. Whatever else you can find (e.g. Fruit Loops or Pizza Rolls)

    He usually ends up with some weird combination of colors, textures, and temperatures that ultimately end up being smashed together, stuffed in his mouth, then retreating to the pocket of his bib.  One night it might be a starter of Cheerios (he is not patient) followed by a Watermelon chunk appetizer, a main course of toasted cheese squares with yogurt, and an after dinner game of "Drop the Sippy Cup".  That's a good night.  It should be no surprise that he is thriving on odd combos since his mother has been known to dine on Honey Nut Cheerios with steamed broccoli or popcorn shrimp with chocolate milk.

    We finally took our walk with the dog and he pointed, babbled, and waved throughout the stroll. He loves taking off his hat and feeling the wind in his hair but looks like a rumpled old man by the time we get home. I think it's time for his first official hair cut (coming soon!)

    Nika was none-too-cooperative as she felt the need to run for most of the walk, causing me to have to hang on to the stroller for dear life, lest she take off with Ryan into the sunset. She also has the annoying habit of feeling the "urge" approximately one half-block from home. And once that train has left the station, there is nothing you can do but sheepishly wait with your grocery bag on your hand, ready to pick up her business off the Lutheran church lawn (SORRY!), tie it up, and take it home to the garbage. It's humbling, really, to have to pick up after another animal's excrement, especially one that has no real purpose of being raised in your home other than your own supposed enjoyment. The cycle is insanity. 1. Buy dog food. 2. Feed dog. 3. Wait for nature. 4. Pick up dog food in its more "fully processed form."  I literally pay money to pick up poop.

    It was not always this way, my friends. There was a day about a dozen years ago that someone paid ME to pick up poop instead of the other way around. And I had a skidloader, not some measly plastic grocery bag that SURPRISE! may or may not have a hole in it. I'm still a little bitter that the minimum wage didn't get raised until I got my first non-minimum wage job, so I'm pretty sure I was cleaning out freestall barns for about $6 but it's better than paying $54/bag for food that you're eventually going to have to pick up while trying not to gag.

    We hurried home quickly because GLEE! and Biggest Loser! Premier Week! The conspiracy of network TV to cause every 20-something in America to immediately regret not having TiVo!  I refuse to allow myself the luxury of TiVo because I am a cheapskate, although it would probably be useful for those few shows that fall before Ryan's bedtime and are impossible to watch on Fox online because the buffering is enough to break the spirit of even the hardest-core Gleek who missed last year's season finale.  These two aren't the best shows to have on while Ryan is awake, so it was a good thing Adam came home to play with him. Although early exposure to fitness coaching and show tunes have been proven to turn out some of the best football players or people who get beat up by them. So, win-lose. Or win-win-win, as Michael Scott would say as he moderates a dispute between Oscar and Angela over a "babies playing instruments" poster.

    We're right on track with that quotes pie chart (see title if you you're wondering where the green slice is), but not on track to get to bed on time so I'm going to hurry HURRY up and say the night ended with my deciding the dishwasher wasn't full enough to justify running it just to avoid washing 5-part baby bottles by hand so I, in my infinite wisdom and quest for efficiency, decided to bake rhubarb muffins at 8:30 just so there were enough dishes to run the dishwasher. The muffins sank in the middle and the edges stuck to the pan, as always, but they were still delish. Both of them.

    And they sure beat the chowder.


    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    The good:   We finished refinancing our house since our local bank has a no closing cost refinance option.  No fees + lower interest rate + shorter mortgage term + ending the Countrywide/Bank of America nightmare + getting rid of escrow + getting to skip a month's payment = Nothing to lose!
    The really good: When we went in to sign the papers, the interest rate had dropped another quarter percent, so we got an even better deal than expected.

    The bad: We promptly spent this month's "savings" of the quarter percent decrease on fancy coffees at the coffee shop. So not really "bad"--the coffee was amazing--but I'm pretty sure the lower interest rate will just funnel money into the coffee fund, not the mortgage pay-off fund.

    The ugly:

    The good: Ryan is a strong boy and can push the kitchen chairs around while walking behind them.

    The bad: He can also pull them over on himself and clunk his head on the floor in the process.

    The ugly:
    The good: I organized our basement tonight after Ryan went to bed, putting it back into its original state pre-5 inches of rain per night. I semi-tricked Adam into helping by saying I couldn't move the couch by myself and then he just kept helping because he can't stand messes. He never returned after bringing some cords out to the garage, but when I came up with the trash at 9:30 I noticed the garage had also been reorganized. :)

    The bad: I originally went downstairs to finish up my show choir song but got so distracted by the reorganization and packing away of baby things that I didn't get back to it. At least now I can sit on the couch with carpet under my feet while writing out staging instead of sitting on a lone folding chair in an empty cement corner.  I felt like I was being interrogated, like someone was demanding answers to "Who authorized you to do a ripple-off lunge with genie blades in measure 6?" or "Why the turquosie sequins? WHY?" or threatening to pull out my fingernails if I didn't give everyone equal opportunity to do a "jump out to high jazz". It's much more relaxed now, like someone is offering me a cup of tea and saying "Dearie, I just wonder if it wouldn't be better if you put the 6'6" tenors in the 3rd row-they're hiding the sopranoes."

    The ugly:

    asdf jkl;

    What do you do when your little boy is obsessed with keyboards and refuses to let you type without coming over to "help"?

    Get him his own!

    I hauled up Adam's old keyboard from the basement and let little Ryno pound away!  He'll have to only use it under close supervision since the cord is still attached and to make sure he doesn't pop any tasty-looking choking hazards keys off, but maybe someday we'll attach it to a computer. Maybe I should reserve just in case?

    Colorful Cooking

    A cold and dreary day called for some colorful cooking.

    Chicken Club Pizza

    Spicy Beef Stew

    Cheddar & Chive Bread

    Ryan loved the bread, hated the chicken pizza and couldn't eat the stew because it was too spicy (I put Rotel in my stew), but the rest of us enjoyed all three. It's nothing short of amazing that I made three decent things today (and made potato chowder last night) since most nights this week have been a "whatever you can find" sort of scrounging that included mostly cereal, baked potatoes and Pizza Rolls. Yay for finally restocking with leftovers (and ones that include vegetables!)

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    One of Two Things is Going to Happen...

    ...either Ryan's going to grow a little more between now and winter to fit into the brand-new looking 18M coat and snowpants I picked up for $3 on a rummage today...

    ... or we're zipping that puppy up and going as the Headless Horseman this Halloween...

    Little Drummer Boy or Master Chef?

    You decide.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Serious or Silly?

    Mommy, I am trying to be SERIOUS with you.

    Bwahahaha, Mommy! I can't hold it anymore!

    10 Teeth!

    Warning: picture below is not the cutest I've ever seen, but illustrates Ryan's latest accomplishment--poking through his top molars! I didn't realize they usually come in before the canines so I'd only been checking his canine "bumps" which have been looking like they're close to coming through for weeks now. Tonight Ryan was laughing on the changing table and I spotted the teeth behind the canines that were full emerged!
    Because I'm a geek, I Googled a chart showing the order of teeth emersion.
    Apparently his molars are slightly ahead of schedule, arriving at 11.5 months instead of 13, but I'm alright with getting this teething show on the road without too much of a production at each stop. This might explain the "pulling on his ears" and irritability last week that we thought was an ear infection but was confirmed by the Doc as just a simple cold/runny nose. 

    Don't worry, no boogers are evident in this less-than-flattering shot.

    But only because I Photoshopped (Picasaed?) them out. It was easier than using the bulb syringe.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010


    We finally got a baby gate to put at the top of the stairs. We thought it would be easier than blocking with a suitcase/laundry basket tag team and/or running to rescue Ryan anytime we heard 10+ slaps of his hands on the kitchen floor. He usually never gets to the stairs since the dog food dish and lazy susan containing multiple glass bottles and finger-pinching possibilities distracts him before he makes it all the way across the kitchen.  But, in the interest of safety and pure laziness of not wanting to race into the kitchen from other rooms of the house, we installed a baby gate.

    The quality of the gate leaves a lot to be desired and I really can't recommend it. It is flimsy, doesn't "lock" into place to the extended width you need and is a pain to latch, requiring both hands and multiple attempts, so we'll see how long until it drives me insane enough to get another one and/or install an actual door at the top of the basement steps, but at least it's keeping little Buddy safe for now!

    Limonata = Excelente

    I took two years of High School Spanish. Two years of playing "Uno", watching The Three Amigos and Selena on a roll-cart TV, and picking ridiculous names as our Spanish names. My favorites were 3 guys who all picked such similar sounding names that our teacher, who we called "S'rah", as in the literal sounding-out of the title "Sra.", had no idea who was who and treated them all interchangeably.  I'm pretty sure Domicio, Dominicio, and Dominico all ended up with the same grade...which was probably an A based on what they were able to get away with in that class.  My point is, I learned muy poco Spanish in that class but had a lot of fun.

    This is probably why I started writing a post about Spanish lemonade only to realize at this point that the drink I'm actually talking about is Italian. This should have been painfully obvious by the fact that I bought the drink at the Olive Garden, not La Fiesta Mexicana, but it is late and my retinas are burning from watching the football game on High Def. Burning retinas apparently equals translation difficulties.

    The short story is that Adam and I went to the Olive Garden on Saturday and had amazing "handcrafted" lemonades. Mine was called a Bella Limonata and included lemonade, pomegranate, and pineapple juices. Adam had one with Strawberry and Mango. Both were excelente, or excellente.

    Limonata / Lemonada

    Po-tay-to / Po-tah-to

    My cynical side is wondering if they just mixed up some Tang, threw in some fruit slices and a mint sprig and charged me 3 bucks, but la-la-la-la not listening. They were good.

    To top off a great meal, the waiter left literally 12 Andes mints with our check. It's like I have "Big Chocolate = Big Tip" written on my forehead.

    Ryan and Jace

    Since my Aunt and Uncle made the trip down from North Dakota for the funeral, we had a chance to meet my cousin, Jace, for the first time!  He is 7 months old and crawling all over the place with his big toothless grin! It was fun to watch Jace and Ryan together, even if I couldn't manage a picture with both of them smiling. I think these two little towheads will make family gatherings a whole lot of interesting in the years to come. With Lincoln and Hudson--there are 4 little boys born within 9 months of each other: 3 great-grandsons and 1 grandson, but we think they're all pretty great!

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Happy Birthday, Adam!

    With all the Homecoming festivities, Adam had a busy birthday! I sent a coffee cake with him to school, and after the parade, we went down to the new coffee shop for a delicious mocha and latte. That was about all the celebrating we had time for today! We plan to head to Sx Falls tomorrow for some shopping, dinner, and time together.

    Happy Birthday! 
    Welcome to 28! (I've been here for a while getting it warmed up for you.)