Bellevue Berry Farm, Take 2

This weekend we made it out to the Bellevue Berry Farm in the nick of time to pick strawberries. It was their last weekend and they assured us it was very picked over. But it was a beautiful morning, and nothing was going to stop us…except maybe the few peacocks who were guarding/mesmerized by the soda cooler.

peacocks

We were out in the fields for about an hour. We managed to avoid most mosquitoes an any other unwanted critters. Although, Brent claims he saw a field mouse when we were pulling up. His dad disagrees claiming it was probably a ground squirrel or something like it.

Future Farmer of Mud

Future Farmer of Mud

The strawberries are grown organically and taste delicious. Apparently even the dirt tasted good (according to Baby Bette). We picked about 6.8 pounds between the four adults and 2 children in our crew. Although, I am sure we ate a good half pound while picking.  Bellevue Berry Farm continues to deliver.

Berry Bette

Berry Bette


The bounty.

The bounty.


  

Ponca State Park

Just two hours North of Omaha, you will find Ponca State Park. It lies on the West side of the Missouri River, on the edges of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. The park is covered in big green trees and the Loess Hills. It’s a beautiful sight. There was a light rain most of the time we were there, so to me it felt like the Pacific Northwest (or what I imagine it to be).

This is Ponca State Park

This is Ponca State Park

We rented a cabin there for Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in one of their “Rustic” cabins which had “2” bedrooms, a bathroom, small kitchen, and a couch. Most importantly (according to Edith) it had a bunk bed. The cabin had a small bathroom, a kitchen, and a very large octagon table that our kids kept running into. There was also a nice enclosed porch.

Sweet Cabin!

                          Sweet Cabin!

The park has miles of hiking trails, a small golf course, a pool that was not yet opened, and a shooting range. I think there may have also been horses you could ride, but I did not see them. I think if we had gone in mid-summer we would have been able to do a lot more while we were there. Live and learn.

Tall Trees. Tall Kids.

        Tall Trees. Tall Kids.

We planned on staying two nights in the cabin, but after one very restless night of sleep we decided it would be best to head back home. During the time we were there however, we tried to get our money’s worth. We grilled hot-dogs on the fire, we roasted marshmallows (aka marshing the mellows), and we went hiking. After about 30 minutes of hiking we realized we might end up killing one of our kids. There was quite an incline and it was so muddy we kept sliding around. My dumb lower back still hurt from carrying my cute baby on my back.

Marshed Mellows.

                          Marshed Mellows.

Professional Hikers

                      Professional Hikers

We drove back to Omaha the next day and stopped in Jackson, Nebraska for lunch. We stopped at some small town dairy freeze that served fried food. I ordered a patty melt. Thinking it’d be a cheeseburger with onions on rye bread. What it turned out to be was some sort of breaded meat patty with cheese in the middle. It was a shock, but not necessarily a bad one.

Patty Melt. Whatever.

        Patty Melt. Whatever.

We spent the rest of our long weekend sleeping in our own beds, and gardening. It was glorious.

(I apologize for the crappy quality of writing in this blog. Enjoy the pictures instead!)

400 Year Old Oak

         400 Year Old Oak

Missouri River, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

Missouri River, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

So this is Nebraska

Thanks to my cousin, Suzanne, Ted Kooser- Poet Laureate and Nebraskan, has found his way into my life. I heard him read this poem today on NPR and it made my brain flood with memories of Nebraska summers.

So This is Nebraska, by Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop   
over the fields, the telephone lines   
streaming behind, its billow of dust   
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.


On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows   
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs   
hide broken tractors under their skirts.


So this is Nebraska. A Sunday   
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,   
a meadowlark waiting on every post.


Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,   
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.


You feel like that; you feel like letting   
your tires go flat, like letting the mice   
build a nest in your muffler, like being   
no more than a truck in the weeds,


clucking with chickens or sticky with honey   
or holding a skinny old man in your lap   
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like


waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave   
instead and leave your hand out gliding   
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.


This poem brought me back to my childhood, to a somewhat less populated area of Nebraska. Riding on the handlebars of my friends bike, challenging ourselves to fit three, even four people on one bike (all without helmets). Spending the whole day outside. Our mom’s yelled for us when it started to get dark. To get from point A to point B, we’d hop fences and run through yards. We’d go to the neighborhood pool without parental supervision or nannies literally everyday of the summer. We ate melted Reese’s pieces for lunch.

 

When we turned 16, we’d drive around for hours. With the windows down and our arms out. Feeling the warm air turn cool as it became dark. We’d find undiscovered places in the spaces around us. Drinking beer in cornfields and searching for the haunted “Chinese Cemetery” in the middle of the country. We no longer went to the pool but would go cool off in the Platte River or the DX sandpits.  Available, ungoverned, warm water.



 

It is amazing how a decade of distance can make you appreciate that which you once found boring and even despicable. From this viewpoint, my memories of smaller-town Nebraska are magical. Looking back now from the place of a parent, I wish my children could have that experience. And yet, I know there is no way I will let them have that much freedom.


And  yes, my wild childhood involved a bowl-cut perm. Because what says freedom, like a perm?

And yes, my wild childhood involved a bowl-cut perm. Because what says freedom, like a perm?

Winter phenomenon.

No flash. Just light.

No flash. Just light.


I often dream of a winterless a winter. A place that never sees snow or experiences the bitter chill of a 10 degree day. Then every year, winter comes and brings with it a sense of peace and ending. A time to retreat and rest up for the spring. If you live in Nebraska you don’t stop in the summer: you are busy every weekend, you eat outdoors as much as you can, you go swimming as much as you can, you try to absorb every parcel of vitamin D that the sun has to offer. This requires a great deal of energy, and I find that by the end of summer, I am ready for a break. Winter allows us to slow down, to cozy up on the couch, to read, to watch movies, to sleep, to watch the beauty of outside from within.
Reindeer.

Reindeer.

The first big snow storm is always magical. It always brings a blanket of comfort and quiet. It also brings light. Winter is dark. The days end at 5 PM and start at 8 AM. But when you get a good snow, sometimes you get this weird winter light that feels like broad daylight into the night. Because of the reflection of the snow and the cloud coverage, you can see blocks away just like it was daytime. And all of the sudden you feel safe. Like nothing bad could ever happen. This is a phenomenon I have often recognized and appreciated, but never really discussed with anyone else. After our first big snowfall this winter, my husband and I talked about how lucky we are to experience this.

Just doing a little outdoor maintenance after the first snow.

Just doing a little outdoor maintenance after the first snow.

A ways into winter, after your body has properly rested and the vitamin D has been fully depleted from your system you are ready for spring again. You crave it and need it. Sometimes you have to wait, and sometimes the winter gives you breaks of sunshine and warmth to help you make it to the end. So until then, I am going to go hibernate.

Wine to keep you warm.

Wine to keep you warm.

Seward, The Fourth of July Capitol of Nebraska

This Fourth of July we took the patriotic trek to Seward, Nebraska where there is no shortage of enthusiasm for this grand holiday. My darling cousin grew up there and has been trying to entice us to visit for years now. We had previously used excuses like “I am pregnant” or “I don’t want to travel with a toddler”. Excuses, excuses, let’s travel with a toddler and a newborn! Yes! To get the full scope of what the Fourth of July in Seward is all about, check out thie website: http://www.julyfourthseward.com/images/JULY4schedule.pdf

Getting to Seward from Omaha took about an hour and 15 minutes. We pulled into town to see everyone walking or biking to the center square. There was also a “trolley” which in all actuality was a tractor pulling a trailer full of people. Although Seward is a relatively small town of 6,000, nearly 40,000 people come in for the day. We parked our car and headed to the hoopla.

Just a glimpse of Seward

Just a glimpse of Seward


Walking up we saw the fire men spraying water at a big bucket hanging in the air. I am sure there is a name for this but I don’t know what it is. We got wet and we took some pictures.

See what I mean!

See what I mean!

The morning was filled with competition. After watching some young and not so young folk pole vault in the city center, we moved on to watch the pie eating and bubble blowing contests. The pie eating contest was really a “one piece of pie” eating contest. This disappointed Brent. Speaking of eating…the streets were filled with county fair style food vendors, but by lunchtime the lines were unbearable. I guess it is a good thing we had ice cream and a blooming onion at 10 AM.

And this man on repeat: WHAT COULD BE MORE FITTING OR APPROPRIATE LADIES AND GENTLEMAN THAN APPLE PIE AND THE 4TH OF JULY?

And this man on repeat: WHAT COULD BE MORE FITTING OR APPROPRIATE LADIES AND GENTLEMAN THAN APPLE PIE AND THE 4TH OF JULY?

Bubble beard.

Bubble beard.

We spent the rest of the morning watching cloggers of all ages, mostly younger kids but there was a group of dancers in their late to middle ages. I think Brent enjoyed those most.

And yes, there were cupcakes to celebrate the birth of America and dad's with toddler's on their shoulders.

And yes, there were cupcakes to celebrate the birth of America and dad’s with toddler’s on their shoulders.

After clogging we went and explored a bit more of the festival. We checked out the antique sale which was very small but they did have a ceramic lawn donkey which Brent has been searching for. Surprisingly, he did not buy said donkey. We also tried to explore the craft fair (know as the Crap fair by my dear cousin, Suz). We got overwhelmed by the crafts and found a grassy patch to rest our heads.

Sitting by a tree. Looking cool.

Sitting by a tree. Looking cool.

The parade was the highlight of the day for Edith. She got lots of candy and even a freeze pop (which were being pelted at our heads). I scored a rain gauge from a local politician. It was a big win for the family.

Lastly we had a great dinner at my cousins home where her parents and extended family welcomed us. A big thank you to those people who fed us and put up with our children. And thanks to Suz and her Big Dumb Hat.

DSC_3708

Someday soon I will post about other fun things that have been going on the last few months…like having a baby, going to Long Beach, California on a whim, and visiting the Wildlife Safari Park.

Staycation Dreams

The past several months of my existence have been focused on a new house and new baby and this focus will not subside until later this year, I believe. So while I am busy preparing my new home for my new baby, I think about the wonderful little staycations I’d like to take. Since I don’t want to forget my ideas when the time comes, I have decided to post them here.

1. Stay in a hotel in Omaha and go to all of the new bars and restaurants that I constantly miss out on. This staycation may not be as relaxing but by the time I take this staycation I will probably need reminding that I am not an old woman or milk machine.

2. My boo and I will be celebrating 10 years of dating this year, so we could switch up #1 and instead of going to new places, we could go to all our old favorites when we first started dating. When we started dating we worked in the Old Market. So we’d probably have to stay down there- eat at M’s Pub, and drink at Mr. Toads and La Buvette or maybe just in the back room at City Limits.

3. Stay in a cabin for a weekend at Mahoney State Park or Platte River State Park
Cabin must have a fireplace and comfy cozy space to lounge around for 48 hours. I would just plan on drinking strong cocktails in front of said fireplace and sleeping a lot.

4. Slightly further away, but still probably qualifies at staycation, I would like to go GLAMPING. Slattery Vintage Estates is about an hour out of town and it’s a winery that also has glamour camping. Wine + a tent that has a bed in it = my kind of camping.

So even though I only have 4 ideas listed, my brain is not working well enough to remember these in a few months when I can take this staycation. I am currently 38 weeks pregnant and just trying to look forward to a time when I won’t be huge and exhausted, and will be able to enjoy some much needed time with my husband away from our two kids. This is totally going to happen…SOMEDAY!!!

If a picture could epitomize the feelings I hope a staycation will give me, this is it.

If a picture could epitomize the feelings I hope a staycation will give me, this is it.

Nebraska Themed Christmas Presents

I know I have been a total slacker on this blog lately. I have many excuses, most of them surrounding the fact that I am pregnant and unmotivated. However, since it is Christmas time and I am being bombarded by retail, I have decided to list some Nebraska themed Christmas ideas (none of which is Husker themed). This Christmas we are doing a lot of handmade things and not spending much money. This allows me to think about all of the gifts I would buy (for myself and others) if I had the money.

Here you go:

1. State Tea Towels by Vestiges listed on Grommet.com, $15
These little state themed tea towels are super cute and big! I am sure they would be great for drying dishes or just to decorate your abode.

Readers, feel free to send one of these my way ;)

Readers, feel free to send one of these my way 😉

2. One of the many great Nebraska shaped Necklaces listed on Etsy, Prices Vary
I own one like this and I wear it all of the time. It’s cute and of course Nebraska love goes with any outfit.

Represent!

Represent!

3. A Nebraska Cookie Cutter , $2.50
The gift that keeps on giving. You get this cookie cutter for someone and maybe they will make you cookies just like I did last year!

Last year's Christmas cookie!

Last year’s Christmas cookie!

4. The Nebraska Home T-shirt, $28
These T-shirts would be great for men or women and they support a good cause. Part of their proceeds go to MS research.

Comes in blue or gray

Comes in blue or gray

5. Any of Drastic Plastic’s Nebraska Tees, $14.98
Omaha folks can just go downtown and buy these babies but if you can’t get to Omaha you can still get one of these shirts online there are men’s and women’s sizes and versions. These are the best Nebraska t-shirts around if you ask me and they are made locally which is even better. Couldn’t grab a photo from this website so you will just have to click on the link!

6. Bakers Candy, $3-10
Every Nebraskan has eaten Bakers candy, it also makes a great gift for non-Nebraskans. This chocolate is delicious!

Yum.

Yum.

7. Sandhill Crane Vase painted by my best friend’s grandma, $190
This is a little pricier item but I couldn’t resist. It was created by a fantastic lady and it’s also quite beautiful. Maybe you remember when I went “Craning”

Sold by Grow Nebraska

Sold by a Grow Nebraska

8. A Patriotic Nebraska Mug, $10
This was just kitschy enough to make this list. I’ll admit it’s a bit hideous, but in a good way.

Nebraska and America as one!

Nebraska and America as one!

9. Custom Made Ice Cream from ECreamery, $50-60
You can choose your own flavor combo of ice cream (made in Omaha), and sent to your loved ones around the country. Who doesn’t love ice cream? In December? I would eat this every day of my life if I could.

So many choices

So many choices

I hope you enjoyed my list of Nebraska gifts. Merry Christmas to all!

Moving and Movies

We recently moved to a bigger house. I mentioned before that I lived in a tiny 720 square foot house and now that we are adding a second child to our brood we figured we should move up to a larger space. I loved my tiny home but it was becoming more and more difficult to navigate every day. We are now in a much larger house but one that needs a lot of work. When we decided to move we really wanted a house that we could stay in for a long time. I know that with much work and probably a great deal of heart ache, we will make this house our home.

As we began our search for a new house I started fantasizing again about moving away. I felt like this was one of those windows of opportunity for us to make a big leap and go somewhere else. I mentioned this a few times to my husband in passing. I don’t think he took me too seriously, I don’t know that I took myself too seriously. At times I did feel like Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road. The idea of just selling everything and moving to Paris (or in my case somewhere in the U.S. outside of the Nebraska) was appealing to me. Of course her story did not end well, and maybe the lesson is to just be content where you are instead of forcing adventure and romance.

I have also been thinking a lot about my childhood and how I hope Edith can have a similar one. I think our new neighborhood seems friendly in the same way mine did growing up. I grew up in the middle of the state in a quiet neighborhood with lots of kids. I walked and road my bike everywhere, without wearing a helmet and without the supervision of my parents. My friends and I would stay outside until dark every night, even in winter. We were living the dream. Even though it was the 1990’s our lives were like those in The Sandlot or Now and Then. We had an idyllic childhood. Even if things weren’t great at home, we had each other and we had our neighborhood. I feel so lucky that I had this and I wish every kid could have this kind of childhood.

Things with this move have been beyond stressful. We keep finding new and depressing things that need repaired at our home (despite the home inspection). I am pregnant and we are trying to raise a 2 year old. We have been rushing to get into this house and to get our old house ready to rent. It has been rough. I have cried. I have wanted many times to run away and leave this mess behind. Last night we finally got a little break. My mother-in-law babysat, and my husband and I went to dinner and saw a movie, Don Jon. You may not think this movie has a message when you first start watching it, but then you realize it’s about slowing down, loving someone, and not being selfish. I know my desires to run away are selfish. The movie reminded me that even though I get distracted sometimes, I have a great love and I know that in the end we will be content…wherever we are.

Ominous cloud in Omaha last night. I think it looks like an angry elephant.

Ominous cloud in Omaha last night. I think it looks like an angry elephant.

Bellevue Berry Farm

Warm welcome to the Bellevue Berry Farm

Warm welcome to the Bellevue Berry Farm

Edith and I went to the Bellevue Berry Farm a couple of weeks ago. This had been on my list of things to do all summer. We missed strawberry season by a long shot but made it for raspberries. We were able to go on an unseasonably cool day. It was even raining a bit in the morning so Edith could wear her Thomas the Train raincoat. I got this coat for her at a garage sale and she is obsessed with it. She knows she only gets to wear it when it rains so I think she has developed a fondness for rain.
This is the level of enthusiasm we like to see at the berry farm!

This is the level of enthusiasm we like to see at the berry farm!


It was a really quick drive from Midtown Omaha out to the farm. We arrived and there was no one there. I drove around for a while, saw some cows and corn, then decided to call them. Once we figured out where we were going, we got right to it. I chose the big box for picking because I assumed we would kick ass at berry picking. It was a slow process. After about 15 minutes the bottom of our box was barely covered. It was at about this point that Edith realized the berries were edible. She then started stealing all of the berries out of the berry box. I tried to show her that she could eat as many berries as she wanted, she would just need to pick them! She was not as interested in doing the work for her berries.
Berry stealer. Heart stealer. In general no good thief.

Berry stealer. Heart stealer. In general no good thief.


We were out in the berry field for about an hour. I picked berries and Edith ran around for the most part. There was another little boy about Edith’s age there with his mom. They chased each other around and at one point they were climbing the fence together. This was the cutest moment of the day. I did not take a picture because I didn’t want to be that weirdo photographing a stranger’s child. I am also 100% sure that Edith instigated the fence climbing. Before she showed up the little boy was just running around like a sweetheart, then she corrupted him.
Just checking on the fields.

Just checking on the fields.


We finished up and I took the berries to the scale. Our box was about half-way full and I was wishing we could have picked more but it was time to get home for lunch. I ended up getting 6 1/2 pounds of delicious raspberries. After taking my berries home I was surprised by how much 6 1/2 pounds of berries actually is. I made about 6 jars of jam, took out about a pound for snacking on, and put a huge bag full in the freezer. It was a good raspberry filled day.
We did have a berry nice day.

We did have a berry nice day.

Cute raspberry baby and aging mother.

Cute raspberry baby and aging mother.