I have posted a few pictures of my homebrew LCD shield. It isn't as pretty as I would like, but it is pretty good for a first try. The LCD has male pin headers on it that plug in to the board. I can install a new on easily if, for some reason, I should kill this one.
I connected a couple of female inline headers to allow access to the digital pins that are not being used by the LCD. A future version might have a full row of inputs, rather than just the remaining ones.
There are 6 buttons. One is a reset button while the other 5 are used with the analog inputs. I turn on the internal pull-ups in the Arduino when I use the buttons, which are connected to ground. When I'm not using the buttons, I still have access to the power and analog input pins via a female inline header. As long as you don't press a button, you don't interfere with the inputs while you're in analog input mode.
This should provide a nice platform for working with inputs while employing a human readable interface at the same time.
Check out my picures: