Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Swagger Wagon

I feel like we've come full-circle, folks. Twelve years ago, I was a bright-eyed college freshman, heading off into the future with new possibilities and few responsibilities. I also had a sweet, sweet ride: A 1991 Dodge Grand Caravan with no seats in the back, a dent in the side, and a Northern Iowa vanity plate reading "UNIBUS". It was something less than awesome, but it was something.

The second semester of my junior year, I finally traded the "bus" for a 2000 Malibu with 30,000 miles on it. I remember driving 4 hours home from UNI, then getting in the car with Adam 9we were dating at the time), and driving 5 hours to Fargo, ND to pick it up. Since then, the Malibu has been with me through an engagement, graduation, marriage, two moves, three jobs, a child and about 153,000 miles. What a ride.

Now, the time has come to move on...or back, if you will. Adam and I have been looking for a minivan for several months and finally found one with all the features we wanted for a good price in Odebolt, IA. So, we took a little road trip, checked it out, and they delivered it on Wednesday! Guess what we got? A Dodge Grand Caravan.

When I got home from work Wednesday with the pickup,  Ryan ran out to the garage and said, "Mommy! Man take Mommy's car! We got new van!"  He's pretty excited, and so are we!
 Although it's not a Toyata Sienna, I tried to get my "Swagger Wagon" on:
Not sure if Ryan was more excited about the DVD (and 2 sets of headphones):
Or the moon roof (totally unnecessary):

We are looking forward to our first road trip this weekend and will love the stow & go and DVD player, among other features. I somehow thought I'd reach 30 before I went back to the minivan, but I'm actually totally excited to be driving a "mom" vehicle because it means I get to be Mom to this guy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saylor's Baptism

This morning, my beautiful niece, Saylor, was baptized in the church I grew up in. She did great during the service and we did everyone in the congregation a favor by sending Ryan to nursery along with Lincoln.  We had a family photo frenzy after the service, and then enjoyed a delicious brunch downstairs. We love Saylor very much and can't wait to watch her grow up!

Here's Saylor's happy family:
Here's the best shot of our little family:
I thought Megan's family photo turned out great too:
Ryan decided he should get in on the action (little turkey smiled more in *their* family photo than ours!

We also had to get a full family shot at the request of my grandma, since the one hanging in her house was pre-Austin, Adam, Wade, Emily, Lincoln, Ryan and Saylor.
 Since she was the one who made us take the picture, we made her get in the picture too:
My grandma also requested a new pictures of us three girls since the last one was from Abbie's high school graduation:
It was a great morning and the end of a great weekend with family. We love you, Saylor!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Toddler Room: Orange and Black; 4 Seasons

Since we moved Ryan to a "big boy bed", I thought I would post a few pictures from his room. We just picked up a black bedskirt and comforter, white sheet set, and mesh side-bar from Walmart.

Everything else was recycled from his old nursery. I like the color we painted his nursery a lot, but since the walls were white and in good condition, we decided to just leave them for now. If anything in the room catches your eye, see an extensive list of where we bought everything here.
Above his dresser, we hung the four seasons wooden cutouts I made, plus his initial. His dresser holds his cowboy hat, stuffed orange Kabota, and pictures of his cousins. He's getting a little big for his changing table, but it will work until he conquers potty-training (not anytime soon).

His clock and "R-Y-A-N" pictures are hung above his bookcase. His CD player is also one of the most-used items in his room since we put a CD on every night (and try to remember to put it on "Repeat All" so one of two things don't happen: 1) He has to yell "MOMMY! TURN MUSIC ON!" if he doesn't fall asleep before the CD is over. 2) He doesn't have to listen to the same 6-line song about Cats and Kittens if I accidentally put it on "Repeat 1". His favorite CDs are "Farm Animals" which has little sing-songy (read cheesy) verses about different animals, Guess How Much I Love You, and a certain nursery rhyme CD with a frog on it. He requests these by name and sometimes will request a change in the CD if he isn't feeling it right away.

The closet is nothing spectacular, but I thought I'd share a few tips: His CDs and other things that used to live down lower are now on an up-high shelf, but aren't a pain to take down to look through since they are in sturdy totes. I like the two levels of hanging space so we can separate shirts from hoodies/coats. We installed two 3M removable hooks really low so he can/has to hang up his own coat when he gets home. This was a battle the first week, but he's now fallen into the habit nicely. We only keep his boots in the closet--the rest of his shoes go in a dresser drawer so they stay within reach when getting dressed/undressed on the changing table. I know myself and if they belonged in the closet, I would throw them there from across the room and they'd live wherever they landed, so the drawer is much better for the shoes (and the wall).
Overall, Ryan's pretty happy in his new room. At night, he likes to lay in bed looking at books, even after we leave the room. We have to keep his touch lamp on high so he can "read" his books. So far, we haven't had trouble with him getting up out of bed, but he's pretty vocal when he needs something or is ready to get up.
So, that's your tour of Ryan's new room!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving #4

I worked on Friday (so I could have a 4-day Christmas break) and Adam had a fun day with Ryan at home. They got a lot done but also had fun playing! Apparently, Ryan had particular ideas about lunch, though, because when I came home over my noon hour, he can running up the stairs, saying, "Mommy! Can you go get mac and cheese from grocery store?" So I did. I'm a pushover for a full sentence from a two-year-old.

At night we headed to the Pizza Ranch to eat with my grandpa, aunt and uncle, cousin and his wife, and my family. The kids actually did really great considering how long we were there! I highly recommend the buffet for families where everyone can eat right away and find something they like: young, old, vegetarian, meat-lovers, sweet tooth, spicy, traditional and adventurous. Do I sounds like a commercial? Good.

Lincoln's favorite was cream:
Ryan's favorite was cream:
Emily's favorite was the...iphone:
Saylor was a trooper and looked adorable in her rosebud headband:
After 2 hours at the restaurant, Lincoln was tired but was content to just sit and and watch Shrek on the mounted TV.  He unknowingly beat both Abbie and me in a "don't blink" contest...twice:
The real treat, though, was that my grandpa was able to come out and enjoy time with family.
We love you, Grandpa!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving #3

We left Adam's Aunt & Uncles at 2:00, hoping to get Ryan down for a nap at my parent's. Sadly, it was not to be. After getting up at 6am, Ryan never did nap today, except for the 5 minutes in the car between gatherings.  He played all afternoon with his cousins and even got a ride from Grandpa on the Kabota. We had lots more terrific food, and just when I thought I couldn't stuff anything more in, my sister brought out the box of cupcakes she got at Scratch in Cedar Falls. After dumping my mocha one on the floor, I got to sample parts of three others. My favorite was Peanut Butter Cup and I'm really wishing we make this a tradition. (Who needs pumpkin pie?)

Emily was so excited for our "feast" and made place cards for every person (mine said "Corney"). She also gave us some interesting turkey facts she learned in preschool. Then, she gave Grandpa a few tips on how to advance to another level on Angry Birds.

The "tap to make it turn into 3 birds" almost blew his mind :)

After Ryan ate about his 4th helping of sweet corn and his second dish of ice cream today, it was getting clear that this "no nap" thing in tandem with his selective diet was clearly not working. It was a bit of chaos and I feel bad for baby Saylor who was clinging to her daddy with a look on her face like, "If this is what my cousins are like, I want to go home and just hang with Milo."  I also feel bad for Lincoln, who's fingers got smashed in a door (and since when we walked in on Ryan hugging him and saying "Sorry, Lincoln," we have a good idea of who was responsible). Emily can hold her own in the chaos, but chose to retreat to a back bedroom to play on the ipad.

We tried to head out on time and Ryan fell asleep on the way home. I hope he pays off his sleep debt tomorrow to give Adam some time to enjoy his day off.

We love seeing family and have so much to be thankful for...but we may not do 2 full Thanksgivings in the same day anytime soon. :)

Thanksgiving #2

At noon on Thanksgiving, we went to Adam's Uncle and Aunt's house for his Dad's side. We, of course, had tons of food and a nice time catching up with family. There were two older boys there who did a great job playing with Ryan.

After dinner and pie, it's a family tradition to play Bingo and everyone gets a prize after they win. Adam's mom helped Ryan with his card and we quickly discovered they were going to have to use little wooden circles instead of the Christmas M&Ms the rest of us were using, on account of some of them quickly disappearing from the gameboard.  When Ryan won, he shouted "Bingo!" and got his prize bag. He LOVED the cow and calf he got (perfect for his farm set).  I was the last person to win and got an Iowa State chocolate bar. Don't worry, we traded for a Hawkeye one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

Wednesday after supper, I headed off grocery shopping to pick up all the ingredients for the French Silk Pie I was planning to make as my contribution to tomorrow's feast. After picking up all the necessary things, I went home. Adam and Ryan were planning a fun night of putting up another Christmas tree in the basement and as I put the items away, I was sad thinking about missing spending quality time with them because I would be in the kitchen for the next hour or two. I commented to Adam, "Man, it was sure tempting to just buy that French Silk Pie from Casey's Bakery that I saw at the store."  He said, "Why didn't you? Go do it!"

So, I did.

I walked back to the store, paid for the pie, and spent the rest of the evening putting up the tree with all of the ornaments Adam and I received as kids, gave Ryan a bath and read him books in bed, then watched the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie with Adam. It was SO worth it (and the pie was better than anything I could have whipped up). I don't think I've ever spent $10 in a wiser way.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Toy Room Organization

We are thankful for many things in our house, but one of them is the toy room. When we looked at the house, the realtor said she didn't know what you would use this room for (it's a walk-through room to get to the theater room or the bathroom.) The previous owner had a foosball table in the middle of it, but we knew it would make a perfect toy room! Not only is it nice to have some place other than the living room to store Ryan's toys, but it's nice being off the theater room so there are two separate, but connected, spaces for adults and kids to play. Ryan also love the hard surface floor for rolling cars and trucks, stacking blocks, and setting up farm animals.
We haven't done anything to decorate yet, but do have a bit of a "system" in place. We didn't buy anything new--everything is recycled from different areas of our old house, but so far it's working well. Here are  a few of my tips:

  • I got all the blue buckets from Dollar General when they had summer picnic stuff available and used them to stage my laundry/cleaning closet of my old house.  They were $2-$4 each and although they're not heavy-weight, they are perfect for storing odds and ends like balls and Little People and aren't too heavy for small kids to carry.
  • The white wire racks are from college and used to hold our t-shirts and jeans in our old closet. I like how you can reconfigure them as needed and they're cheaper than the popular wooden 9-cell shelves with fabric drawers. Ryan can see and reach everything on the shelves and the open grid prevents a build-up of "junk" in the bottom of drawers. You can just slide the whole grid over and sweep/wipe the floor underneath.
  • On the shelves, you might notice the four plastic containers with blue lids. I personalized these a while ago in 6 Easy Steps and they are great for holding K'nex, blocks, and Little People animals. Ryan can lift them by the handle, bring them to where he wants to play (upstairs or in the theater room) but can also pick them up and put them back. 
  • The plastic shelves were re-purposed from our old basement storage room and are a good height to keep some things where Ryan can reach them, and some up and out of the way.
  • On top of the shelves is a plastic tub filled with his large Little People nativity set. When my mom got it for his birthday, she also gave us this tub that easily fits all the pieces. Again, it keeps them all together and is easy to transport to another area of the house, then bring back.
  • The tall bookshelf is a $10 garage sale find and for now holds some books he's not quite old enough for yet since we don't read in this room. I just like the vertical storage it provides.

The other wall of the room holds his big barn (where all his animals, tractors, and fence live), his Step 2 table and chairs, and his basketball hoop. All of these can easily be pulled out into the middle of the room, but it's nice to be able to quickly push them aside to clear the path to the theater room. I'm still narrowing down decorating ideas for this wall.

There's nothing really special about this area, it just shows the nook where the big closet is and the bathroom is right around the corner. But, we use this space for his tackling dummy and a few other toys on wheels so they can be pulled out as needed. The message center that was in the kitchen of our old house now holds the phone, but also holds all his coloring books in the top and crayons in the flip-open shelf. The bottom provides more storage.

Ryan isn't quite ready to play independently downstairs if we are upstairs, but we love having this separate area for play and a place to put all his stuff!

Thanksgiving #1

Sunday was our first (of three) Thanksgiving meals of the week. Ryan sported his new sweater vest just for the occasion. I wasn't sure how to take it when he said "just like Mommy's shirt!" Something tells me I wear a bit too much argyle. I try to not wear them to church ever since one Sunday when I matched both the preacher and the President of the college (both men over 40).
We went to my Grandma's house in Hometown for dinner and Ryan was excited to play with my cousin Carter, whom we see often at school and town events. Of course, Grandma let him have a cookie before dinner.
Ryan's turkey was untouched and he pretty much had a place of corn and mashed potatoes, but the rest of us enjoyed the full array of delicious food. We enjoyed seeing many cousins, aunts and uncles, and my Grandma again. I especially loved getting my cousin's son, Jackson, to laugh. Just check out that smile!

Scrapbook Paper Wall

I got a bit of a hair-brained decorating idea the other day and decided to just try it instead of hemming and hawing over it forever. Our TV now has a home on a nice entertainment center instead of the drop-leaf table I was borrowing, but the rest of the wall is completely blank. I'm planning to get a mantel-type shelf to go above the TV for Christmas, but wanted some other pop of color and interest on this wall. On an earlier shopping trip I bought a book of 12"x12" scrapbook paper that matched many of the colors of the accent chair in this room. I was never sure how I was going to use it, but loved the patterns and metallic accents. So, on Friday night at about 10:00pm I decided to just put it up on the wall in a grid pattern. I used Scotch's Clear Removable Mounting Squares in each corner and wherever 2 pages connected. (More on how well this worked later). Adam helped me (God bless him for her tolerance on my erratic decorating decisions) and it took less than an hour.

It matches the accent chair (which obviously doesn't go there since that's the front door) but it pulls this wall into the rest of the room's bright decor.

To work around the outlet, I just removed the plate cover and used a scissors to cut out the corners of these pages. I have my new Scentsy warmer plugged in (and highly recommend the Hazelnut Latte scent).

But, what's the verdict on the wall?

Things I love:

  • The patterns of the paper.
  • The added interest and color on this otherwise-plain wall
  • How inexpensive it was: $20 for paper (and I used less than 1/3 of the book) plus about $7 in mounting squares.
  • It doesn't damage the wall and could easily be removed without removing paint (or even ruining the paper)
Things I don't love:
  • It's not sticking and the edges puff slightly.Several corners are unstuck each morning.
  • It's missing the purple and dark red colors.
  • It might be too much once I put stuff on the shelf above the mantel.
Things I might do differently:
  • I might try removable poster mounting tape along all the edges so it sticks better and so all the edges lay flat.
  • We might install cork board from floor to ceiling in this dimension so I can use flat gold thumbtacks to put up the paper, can easily change it out for different seasons, and can add other things like photos, ornaments, etc.
  • We might frame it out with wood either just on the left and right edges or on the entire grid. This would make it much more permanent, so I'm glad I'm trying it out for a while to see if I really like it enough to commit to that.

What do you think? Keep it? Scrap it (no pun intended)? Frame it? Pin it on Corkboard? I need help!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday with Mommy

Today Ryan and I had a whole day to spend together. We organized his whole room in the morning and ventured out to ALCO to get something to fix his bookcase. It was so icy out that we couldn't get the car back up the driveway! When I tried to go around the block, I couldn't get up that street either, so I finally slipped home, gunned it up the driveway, and decided to stay put the rest of the day.

We had fun today and Ryan took a LONG nap to catch up on some sleep, so I had a chance to catch up on some work. When he got up, we popped some popcorn and watched the movie "Up". He loved it (except for a few semi-scary parts) and I thought it was a great movie.

Here's bits of the conversations we had today:

While sorting books:
Ryan: "Whoa, Mommy! I have a lot of books! I'm a big helper!"
Me: "That boy wants to be a scientist when he grows up. What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Ryan: "A boy!"
Me: "That girl is flying! Do you think it would be fun to fly!"
Ryan: "I would be very careful!"
When waking up from his nap:
Ryan: "Mommy, I all done sleeping. I get up now."
When a cartoon character on TV got hit with an old man's cane.
Ryan: "Mommy, he better go to the doctor."

I had a great day with my little commentator!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Creative Process

After reading Mindy Kahling's book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (which I loved and finished in 2 days),  I realized that many of us have inaccurate pictures of how "creative" people work. I always pictured The Office writing team in Jim-like shirts and ties, sitting around a big conference table in a white room, just shooting out jokes at each other, seeing which ones got the loudest laughs and some underling furiously scribbling while the head writers shout, "Wait, wait, wait, wait. I got a good one. What if DWIGHT says, 'I save my hair clippings and weave them into socks,' and then JIM looks at the camera and says, 'You know, I've heard Dep Sport has an incredible wicking quality.' Did you get that down, temp?"

Mindy kind of busts this myth by revealing she does most of her writing alone.  She talks about posing for a totally-fake picture of her typing at her computer desk in an immaculate office.  In reality, she admits that she mostly uses her office as a messy clothes closet and does most of her typing sitting in bed with a sweatshirt on her lap to prevent "laptop legs."

I thought I'd let you all in on a "backstage pass" into how my creative process works for show choir.

When I first started doing choreography in 1997, I was a sophomore in HS and my parents put huge mirrors in a cement-floored room in the basement with an old Comet wrestling mat. It was awesome, like my own dance studio. I used it to make up show choir moves, but also practiced my cheerleading and dance team. There was low duct work on the ceiling, so I didn't incorporate a lot of moves where my hands had to be straight up!

When I started up again after college, I did an entire song in front of my dresser in our first basement apartment. Not a lot of fancy footwork that year.

In our last house, I again had a great basement setup with a $5 mirror from a garage sale, the CD player I bought with my own money in 6th grade, a dorm carpet, a 13" TV with a VCR and DVD player to review old tapes, and again, low ceilings. This worked great for the 6 years we lived there and was great for taxes because I had a space in my house solely dedicated to this home-based business. :)  However, as the years progressed, I found I was spending more and more time just sitting on the couch or floor in the basement, drawing stick people on the music and stage formations in my trusty notebook (wide-ruled, been using for about 7 years to write out placements and to keep track of my billable hours). I did most of my "idea generation" during my commute, so at home I was really just testing it out (without the inconvenience of having to also keep my car on the road) and transferring it to paper.

In our new house, we have way more room and a perfect "dance studio" except it also makes a perfect "toy room", so I'm down to looking at my reflection in the TV (turned off) in the basement. Although, at this point, you are just as likely to find me "choreographing" while sitting in the middle of my bed, eating goldfish crackers and watching Extreme Couponing. Some things get easier with practice and it honestly takes me much longer to draw/write out the instructions to leave behind than anything else.

Well, this might not have been a riveting post, but I feel like we're getting really crowded with "look at my kid, he's cute posts" and needed to "jazz it up."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coffee Habit

The other day, Adam got Ryan buckled in his car seat, jumped in the truck, and was about to take off to bring him to daycare, when Ryan piped up,

"Daddy, Forgot Coffee!"
Observant little bugger had noticed that Adam didn't have a travel mug with him! So, Adam went back inside, poured himself a mug from the full coffee pot he'd made that morning, and brought it with him.

Thanks for keeping track of us, bud!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Me: "Ryan, what do you want for breakfast?"Ryan:"Ummm, goldfish."
Me:"We don't have goldfish for breakfast. We have things like yogurt or cereal or eggs or toast or muffins."
Ryan: "Okay, I'll have cake."

(We ended up making muffins but did make a cake for later!)
Adam (to Ryan): "Hey Buster George, are you ready to get in the car?"
Ryan: "Nooo"
Adam: "Is your name Buster George?"
Ryan: "No, it's RYAN!"
Adam: "Well, what is your middle name then?"
Ryan: "RYNO"

(Ryan Ryno Boone does have a bit of a ring to it.)
Playing with his Little People Nativity Set and Farm set (We bring 'stable' up to the next level)
Ryan: "Mommy!"
Me; "What?"  (He will NOT go on with his question until you respond. He will keep saying Mommy Mommy! Mommy! with increased urgency and volume)
Ryan: "Where's the farmer?"
Me: "The farmer is downstairs. Maybe the shepard can drive the tractor?"
Ryan: "No, Mommy. The KING drives the tractor."

Apparently the wiseman is better equipped, what with all his camel-driving experience.
Me (filling the muffin cups with batter)
Ryan (in an amazed voice): "Whoa! Good JOB, Mommy!"

One of Ryan's gifts is to be a good encourager :) He's given us this same encouragement for things like putting together his bed, folding laundry, reaching something on a high shelf, or successfully toasting "gay-gulls" (bagels).
Me: "Adam, do you want some apple cider?"
Adam: "Sure"
Ryan: "Mommy! I want spider juice too!"

Me: "Ryan, should we wear your dinosaur jammies tonight?"
Ryan: "Wear Curious George jammies."
Me: "Oh, I think those are in the wash."
Ryan: "Yeeah, Curious George dirty. Gramma better wash them."

Ryan bumped the top of his head on something and started crying.
Me: "Do you want me to kiss it all better?"
Ryan: "No-oh-oh-oh. I kiss it."

And then he tried to kiss the top of his own head!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Big Boy Bed

Today, we made a spontaneous decision to try Ryan in a "big boy bed." He has been taking naps on a regular bed at daycare and we figured it would be nice for him to have a better mattress, a pillow, and some warm covers for the winter, plus it will be necessary once we start potty training and we might as well get one hurdle out of the way.

We already had a twin bed and picked up some white sheets, a black comforter and bedskirt and a guardrail at Walmart. We figured we'd just try some inexpensive that would be easy to wash that still matches his current room. If he ever has to move rooms we will just get a new set to match a new room then. When we got home tonight, he was excited to help daddy bring the bed up from the basement.
 He was super-excited the whole time we were putting the bed together and kept exclaiming, "Ryan's bed! Big Boy Bed!"
After getting jammies on, it was time to try it out. He insisted on rescuing all the stuffed animals from the crib, but I figure it's probably not a bad idea to have some buffer between him and the wall anyway.  One thing we did not transfer was his pacifier. He asked for it about 3 times, but we told him he doesn't need his "my" in his big boy bed. We said he could hug Catty or Monkey instead. I was surprised at how easily he gave up on the protest! This was part of our plan too to see if we could wean him off the bedtime pacifier during the transition and just get into a whole new routine at once.
After reading a book in bed, we adjusted the lamp and music, told him goodnight, and left the room. We haven't heard a peep out of him since then and so far we see clear sailing on both the bed and pacifier transition.
Tomorrow morning we plan to work on "Don't get out of bed until we come get you" part of the deal. Wish us luck! Now if only potty training were this easy...

Friday, November 11, 2011


 Since we never had a 10-year class reunion and since one of our classmates was turning 30 on 11-11-11, we had an pseudo-reunion/birthday party at the new Sports Zone in our Hometown. Many people made 4-5 hours drives to be home for the weekend and it was a lot of fun seeing some old friends. The picture above is of Anne, Nikki, Stef, and me who all graduated together and went to the same church, so we've been friends almost all of our 29 years!

Anne and I were born a week apart and have been friends ever since! She was also neighbors with Adam ever since his family moved to H-town. So great to see you, Anne, (since I now know you read this blog) and hope to make a trip up to see you sometime!

Stef always has a big smile and it was fun to hang out again! A big surprise of the night was the re-emergence of one of our long-lost classmates, Greg! He was a ton of fun and decided maybe he liked hanging out with his old high school classmates "more than he thought" haha.

Nikki and her husband, Chris, and Slotey and his wife, Jessi, also made the trip home to visit family and to hang out at the party. So great to see you and sorry your spouses had to endure all of our re-hashing of HS events and silly inside jokes!

There were several other classmates and old friends there and we had a great time! Definitely have to do it again sometime and maybe we'll actually have an official HS reunion sometime...maybe we'll wait 'till 15 years.