Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fountain Pond Fishing

On Thursday, two of my cousins from town asked if we wanted to meet them down by the "fountain pond" which is behind the  the hospital near our house. We walked over there in the stroller with Nika and after a few casts, Ryan was holding the line when he said, "Daddy, I got a fish!" Sure enough, his bobber was under and a fish was fighting on the other end. When it was finally reeled up, Ryan had caught quite a nice bass! Juliana and Carter arrived just in time to see his fish. Ryan bored of holding the pole after that and spent some time digging in the worm box, playing "will it float" by throwing various objects in the pond, messing with the floating algae using sticks, and running up and down the Puddle Jumper trail. It's nice to see him enjoying the outdoors so much!
No one else had much luck after Ryan's big fish and Carter lamented, "I got schooled by a 2-year-old."  But we had fun just hanging around outside.
When it was time to leave, Ryan, of course, wanted to race someone and Carter was the happy opponent. I'm not sure who really won (Ryan will insist he did) but they both made it up to this bench in time to wait for the rest of us.  We love having the pond and trail nearby and have a lot of fun hanging out with my cousins!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day


On Memorial Day, we made the trip to Hull for the pancake breakfast, which Ryan loved. Then, we attended a service at the cemetery. We really appreciated that the nursing home where my grandpa lives brought several residents out in their trolley and my grandpa got to sit in the front. As a WWII vet and former POW, Memorial day means a lot to him and we were glad to be there to commemorate it with him.
After the service, we went back to my parents house and helped clean up the downed branches from the previous night's storm. The kids were big helpers, picking up sticks and loading them into the Kubota.
 Their favorite part was riding in the Kubota while Adam pulled the larger branches into a pile.
 After lunch, the kids played outside again and loved the bubble blowers my mom had found where you just squeeze the body of the bear and the fully-loaded wand pops up to blow through. Then, when you release the squeeze, it sinks back down and reloads. Genius!
The kids all had fun playing together and it was great spending time with family. This was my first day off of work since Jan. 2 and it was sure nice having a 3-day weekend! Now, it's back to the grind and we get ready for our big Summer Meeting coming up!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Polar Bears and Dorito Sandwiches

 We knew it was risky choosing to go to the Omaha zoo on Memorial Day weekend, but really wanted Ryan to have a chance to see more than just the aquarium, so we braved the crowds on Sunday. My best advice is to go early (at opening), park by the North Entrance, and use the North Entrance. There were at least 200 people waiting for tickets at the main gate, but only about 20 at the North Gate. Also, bring lots of cold drinks and food in a cooler that fits in the bottom of your stroller.

And wear a hat, although you don't have to go crazy like the lady behind me in line who explained to her 3-year-old (in a 3-year-old voice) for 10 minutes that he needs to wear a hat because EVERYONE wears hats at the zoo. "Look, that man has a hat and that boy has a hat and that girl has hat and I have a hat, and YOU have a hat. We ALL wear hats." I wanted to turn around and go, "Listen, Lady... I am not wearing a hat, so not EVERYONE wears hats. Yes, some people wear safari hats with a neck drape to match their hiking boots even though the entire zoo is paved, but that doesn't mean everyone wears a hat." And to the kid, I would have said, "Listen should wear a hat, like your mom's a good idea, even though your mom is a liar."

We got to hit all the major things we wanted to see and even though it was 96 degrees, it was bearable with the misters and with alternating the indoor attractions with outdoor. We skipped the desert dome, butterfly house and rainforest. (Did I mention it was 96 degrees?) Ryan's favorites were the gorillas, chimpanzees, the swimming polar bear, and the koi in the lagoon! Most of the other animals were just sleeping in the shade since it was so hot!

We took a lunch break in the picnic area by the zebras to eat the lunch we had packed and Ryan created a new food-- a peanut butter, jelly, and Dorito sandwich! PB,J&D, I guess!

At 1:30, we decided we'd seen enough, so we drove home, unpacked, and then headed to my parent's house for supper with my sister's family. A pretty bad storm ended up blowing through, so we spent some quality time in the basement before making a break for home. The kids had fun playing "Slap Happy" and not posing nicely for pictures.

It was a fun 2 days, but I was sure glad I had Monday off!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Aquarium Wedding

The wedding was held at the Conference Center attached to the Aquarium at the Omaha zoo. We sure felt like WE were the ones on display when we walked into the zoo in our dress clothes! Kim and I served as guestbook attendants while Adam walked around the aquarium with Ryan. He came back telling me there were only "nice sharks."

He ended up walking around the aquarium DURING the wedding too because he doesn't quite understand the art of being quiet. In any way.

Ryan also enjoyed the interactive floor in the aquarium that projects a picture of the ocean floor. When you step on it, it creates ripples and all the fish scatter from where you stepped. It's hard to get a picture of, but is really neat!

After the wedding, there was a cocktail hour held in the aquarium. This was really neat as we got to go through all the fish and penguin exhibits.
The most exciting part was when the zoo keeper let a small penguin walk around among the crowd and the kids got to pet him! Ryan said "it was kind of yucky" and "it smelled kind of fishy" but thought it was pretty cool.

He lasted okay through the reception by eating mints (and not much else). We had the BEST chocolate cake and hit the dance floor for a few songs, then it was time for a very-tired-no-nap-taking-boy to go home. He was asleep within a minute of leaving the zoo.

Congrats, Christina and Jeff! Thanks for the fun aquarium-wedding!

Omaha Pre-Wedding

Adam's cousin got married in Omaha on Saturday, so we drove down to Gretna to Adam's brother and sister-in-law, then met up at a hotel in Omaha in the afternoon for a big family picture. I don't have a shot of all 30+ of us, but we did get one of Adam's family and one of us three.
We then had several hours to wait before the wedding, so Ryan spent the time watching the koi fish and fountains in the hotel lobby.  Adam's cousin's daughter, Kenley, made a beautiful flower girl-she liked the fish too!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fishing and a Picnic

On Sunday evening, we headed to Mill Creek State Park, about 20 minutes away, to do some fishing and have a picnic. It amazes me that a kid who is so afraid of flies and ladybugs can't wait to get his hands on some wiggling worms!

 Adam cast his line in the water and within a minute or so, Ryan hauled in his first bluegill!

Definitely a keeper...and the fish isn't a bad size either.

He caught a few more fish throughout the night and we also took a walk to explore the goose sounds he heard. Then, we headed back to the picnic tables for a nice supper! 

I decided that the best way to make a lame supper (pb&j, chips and Oreos) acceptable is to make it into a picnic!  It tastes so much better outside!

We had a great time tonight and will be back many more times this summer!

Tulip Festival Food

Now I know many of you think this annual festival is about flowers and parades, but I believe there is a small (but active) contingent that would contest it's as much about the food as anything else.  Here's a little guide of what we experienced this year with a rating from 1-5:

1=Not a good idea. Not now, not ever.
2=I'd rather eat at Hardee's.
3=Curbs the hunger but nothing to blog about (as if any of it is blog-worthy)
4=Better than your average bear
5=Amazingness on a stick

  • Corn Dog from stand by Dove Book Store= 3 (Courtney) The breading was a little bland.
  • Hawaiian Shaved Ice from stand by Bomgaars = 4 (Courtney) I got red raspberry and grape, and it had the perfect amount of flavoring poured on. Hit the spot on a hot day.
  • Buffalo Chicken Wrap from stand by Bomgaars = 4 (Adam) Good, but there is no amazing secret sauce at work here--he saw the bottle both in this booth and in our local Fareway. 
  • Foot-long Hot Dog from stand by Dove Book Store = 5 (Ryan) He.ate.the.whole.thing.
  • Brat, Chips, Pop from Woudstra = 5 (Adam) Brats are good and to get this meal for $5 is a great price considering the alternatives
  • Brat, Chips, Water from Woudstra = 2 (Ryan) He refused to eat the brat, even though he usually likes them, ate half the bag of chips, and backwashed most of the chips into the water bottle that I had been sharing with him.
  • Chicken Strips from stand by Bomgaars= 2 (Courtney) Nothing special here-a little overdone, salty, and I regretted eating them.
  • Funnel Cake from silver Streamline trailer= 5 (Courtney, Adam, Ryan) Perfect, as usual!
  • Strawberry Smoothie = 2 (Adam) They need to take some lessons from the concession stands at the old Vet's Memorial Stadium.
  • Fruit Snacks from Mom's purse = 5 (Ryan) This was a vital strategy in the "waiting for the parade to start" battle and paid off every time.
  • Water/Ice in sippy cup from home= 5 (Ryan, Mom) Also an essential that was worth the weight of carrying it in my purse. Ryan polished it off every outing and it saved us buying bottles of water downtown. Also, after sitting through a parade and half the night show, I may or may not have been desperate enough to open it up and take a sip at around 10pm on Friday night.
  • Sprite and Coca-Cola purchased during intermission of Night Show = 5 (Adam, Courtney)  We were dieing of thirst (see previous rated item) and these were super-cold, albeit illegal to have in the gym, but we were sneaky. To be honest, if these weren't available, we might have skipped finding out what happened to Eliza Doolittle.
So, there you have it! My one regret was not having a traditional pig-in-the-blanket but I have a feeling we'll have ample opportunity over the years. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tulip Festival Carnival Rides

The Tulip Festival features carnival rides every year and had a new vendor this year. I was interested in how Ryan would feel about rides (and not anxious to find out if he inherited my motion sickness). Adam bought a pack of tickets on Thursday after bringing Ryan to the puppet show and they tried out the carousel (which Ryan calls the Merry-go-Round). He had a great time and I went with him again after the parade. I loved how he would say in a quiet voice "yee-haw" everytime we went around and even tried "roping" while riding on his horse.

On Friday night, he wanted to try out driving the cars and absolutely loved it! The operator let the ride go for about 8 minutes--that is not an exaggeration--we timed it. I'm pretty sure I would have been puking after going in a circle that long, but it didn't seem to bother him!  He would wave each time he came around and said "Cheese" knowing I was going to take a picture. After the cars, he tried out the Puppies which, in addition to spinning, also went up and down. He didn't look as enthused about those, but I think he still had fun. He also tried out the Motorcycles, but I think he liked the cars best because he had his own steering wheel!

On Saturday, he could pick out 2 last rides to use his tickets and picked the Carousel and racecars again, so I'm pretty sure those were his favorites. I was actually pretty surprised at how well he did on the rides, going by himself and am happy to report that he shows no sign of my weak stomach. But, the real test will come when he's a bit older and tries out the Tilt-a-Whirl, a/k/a the spinning puke trap.

Tulip Festival Parades

It's our first Tulip Festival since moving back to Orange City. The tulips are long gone, but Ryan still liked playing in Windmill park (and throwing things in the canal).
Ryan saw a total of 4 parades this year. We started out with the Thursday night parade where Abbie, Wade, and Saylor joined us. This parade is not as crowded and we easily found a shaded bleacher spot. Ryan was a little antsy waiting, but had no trouble polishing off a foot-long hot dog while we waited! Saylor loved the parade, especially the marching bands. Ryan liked the bands, horsies, tractors, and a certain float that had rabbits moving around a track and a squirrel peeking out of a log. The funniest thing was watching him point and wave enthusiastically to the small tractor and wagon that followed the horses (the poop wagon). In his defense, though, at some other parades we've been to, that WAS the entry.
Friday night, Adam's parents joined us for the parade and then stayed with Ryan while Adam and I went to the Night Show, "My Fair Lady."  It was a good show, but didn't get over until 11:15 and since we'd been sitting on bleachers since 5:45, we were a ready to be done with bleachers.

On Saturday afternoon, we grabbed a spot on a curb to watch an afternoon parade so Ryan could watch the street scrubbing. He did okay, considering it we right during his normal nap time, and he was excited to see Juliana walk in the mode show with her authentic costume from "Zaan" and then stop by to sit with us. He also loved seeing my cousin Carter riding a unicycle. On Saturday, he even got to ride the 5' tall one! We went on a few rides after the parade and my fears that we missed any sort of "nap" window were eased when Ryan fell asleep about 2 blocks after getting into the pickup and took a 2 hour nap even though it was after 4:00! Watching parades (or climbing all over mom like she's a jungle gym and bonzing for fruit snack) must be tiring!

On Saturday night, I had to run to Sioux City to do some necessary shopping and Adam ended up taking Ryan to the night parade. This one featured over 100 antique tractors and Mustang cars (which Ryan loved) and the Alumni Band. He was probably the most excited person there to see so many tractors!

 All in all, he was pretty excited about the parades and already told me on Sunday morning that "maybe after I take a nap, we can go see the parade." I hate to break it to him that the parades are over for another year, but I'm kind of glad we have a day to rest up from all the activity!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Having a variety of mother's/grandmother's in our lives, we celebrated multiple times this weekend. On Saturday, after a great day of running errands, planting flowers, going to the Alton pit, and working around the house, we met my parents and sister's family for Chinese food. It was great to get together where none of us had to cook!  Uncle Wade taught Ryan how to blow the wrapper off his straw at people, and he made an enormous mess of his rice, but the food was good and the company was great!

On Sunday, I opened my cards and was delighted to get a gift certificate for a massage and manicure! After a delicious breakfast of Cocoa Krispies, we went to church at my hometown church.  Ryan sat through a few songs, but then had fun playing in the nursery. It was fun to run into one of my HS friends there as well. After going to my parent's for a bit, we had lunch at my Aunt and Uncles along with other members of my extended family and Ryan had a great time playing with my cousins.  My cousin, Laura's, son Jackson was the only other great-grandchild there and the two boys loved the swing in the porch!

We finally got Ryan down for a nap in late afternoon but he was still sleeping when Adam's parents arrived. We eventually had to wake him up and it was a bit like a bear being poked awake after hibernating, but after winning about 13 Hot Wheels races in a row against Grandpa, he perked up. We grilled some chicken and had fun playing bean bags, hide-and-go-seek, and holding races.

Thank-you to my mom, mother-in-law, and grandma for being the wonderful women you are!

And thank you to this little dude who made me a mom and whom I love more than I ever knew was possible! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Tonight, we took a walk to a little pond behind the hospital so Ryan could try out his Superman fishing pole. He was pretty interested in the worms, but let Dad bait the hook.

Casting into the pond.

Reeling in the line a little bit.

Watching the bobber.
The bass Ryan caught!

Touching the fish.

Daddy trying to get Ryan to kiss the fish.

Ryan had a great time. When I asked if he wanted to say prayers tonight, he said, 

"Hey Jesus! Guess what! I caught a fish!"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Go Colin!

On Monday, Ryan's daycare had a sick child, so we had some last-minute backup care in the form of my cousin, Juliana, and my mom. Ryan had a super-fun day! He and Juliana played outside, ran on the track and football field, and Ryan colored a special picture for my cousin Colin. They delivered it to his car so he'd be sure to see it before his big conference meet. It must have worked because the Dutch won the conference! Way to go, Colin!

In the afternoon, Ryan got to go pick out plants at the greenhouse where "there were lots of flowers...and bees,"  and then go to Grandma's house. When I picked him up, he was catching butterflies with Aunt Abbie and Saylor and examining them with a magnifying glass.

Thanks, Mom and Juliana for coming to our rescue and giving Ryan a great day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

New Playset!

It only took about a month to go from purchase to play, but Ryan's playset is finally up!  We bought a pretty basic playset from Menards the day after Easter and Adam spent a few Saturdays and nights preparing the 24'x24' space where it would set-cutting sod, leveling, installing timbers, and laying fabric. Today, was the big "build" and we were VERY grateful for the help from Adam's parents, my brother-in-law, and my dad. We couldn't have done it without you!

 Here's the final product (BACK VIEW), sans sand that will go under the "fort" area.
 Ryan trying out all the features.

Ryan says, "THANK-YOU" to everyone who helped. 
He is looking forward to playing in the backyard all summer!

Pizza Ranch Video

I submitted 2 entries into the "I Heart Pizza Ranch" Video Contest and I would REALLY appreciate your vote! Just click here (or search for Pizza Ranch on facebook and click on the Contest app tab). Then find the video titled "Reward for a Hard Day's Work", then click on it to vote. I really, really, really want an ipad, and part of the judging involves a public vote. Right now I'm in 3rd place and need some more votes! You can vote once every 24 hours until May 14.

Here's my video (but remember to go to the facebook app to vote for it!) Thank you!!

Friday, May 4, 2012


On Friday we experienced a weird weather phenomenon known as a "gustnado", short for gust-front tornado. Had it been a real tornado, it would have wiped out our entire town including the industrial park, home of many major businesses. Thankfully, it was, in effect, a swirling cloud of dust with only enough power to knock over our lawnchairs and grill, but didn't do any damage. We did have to sit in the lower level at work for a while and lost power a few times, but I just ticked off reason #217 I'm not an educator in that I was not cramped in a bathroom with 45 stinky 5th graders or in a locker room with Junior Highers, like other members of my family :).

A few people from the office were at a Leadercast at the OC theater, and our Director of HR snapped these pictures.

 The one above captures the moment in time when the storm was setting right on top of our house.

This video is a collaboration of a few different ones--there is some slight swearing, but keep in mind, these people honestly thought a 2-mile-wide tornado was heading right toward them, so I'd let it slide.