Destin, Florida

Our first family vacation

Our first family vacation

We took our first real family vacation as a foursome. But it was really more of an eighteensome. My family joined 4 other families at Destin, Florida. We all stayed in one big house together. And if you ever wanted to know what “The Real World” would look like with 8 kids under the age of 5, this was it. There was a great deal of nudity.  People were peeing on the floor and passing out on the beach.  There were more than a few physical fights. And there were glow-stick parties in the closet. The adults also managed to have their own late night pool party one night. In short, it was pure insanity.

The ladies at the beach

The ladies at the beach

Wild ones

Wild ones

We managed to get to the beach every single day. Beach access was only a few blocks away from the house we were staying in. One night we flew kites on the beach as the sun set. It was truly a magical moment.  My little ladies were surprisingly brave in the gulf waters and really found their sea legs in the pool. Edith even learned how to swim underwater by the end of the trip. She was deathly afraid of seeing crabs before we left for the trip she kept claiming she would not go to the beach because the crabs would bite her. After finding many hermit crabs and seeing one full sized crab, she repeatedly said “See, I told you there would be crabs!” In addition to the crab sightings, there was a stingray who swam a little too close to me, someone saw a shark, and there were several small fish in the waters that really enjoyed biting me.

Edith underwater

Edith underwater

Bette's favorite beach pastime

Bette’s favorite beach pastime

The small children drove their parents crazy. There were moments that I announced that I’d never do it again, but I think now that I have had a few days of distance, I can say that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Weird photo-shopped picture of the lot of us (minus Bette)

Weird photo-shopped picture of the lot of us (minus Bette)

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.

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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

Long Beach

Bette Lou

Bette Lou


My dear little baby Bette was born in April and since then life has been nuts. Having two kids is hard work. My friend Christine says it makes you a gangster at life. I don’t really feel like a gangster yet, or at least not a successful one. Maybe one who continues to fail at all of her drug deal and keeps shooting the wrong people. Needless to say I have been losing my mind. So in May I took a very impromptu trip to Long Beach, CA with my husband and newborn. My husband was going there for work and the prospect of being home alone with two kids, outnumbered, scared the crap out of me. So two days before he left, we bought a ticket for me. Our oldest stayed back with the grandparents. I guess you could call it a babymoon, post-baby.
Just a month old. Her first hotel stay/vacation/plane ride.

Just a month old. Her first hotel stay/vacation/plane ride.


I think back on this trip and it’s a dreamy time. We were able to lie in bed with our baby, take naps, and stroll around a very strange but beautiful city. Long Beach is not a very glamorous destination, but the architecture is beautiful, there are palm trees, and there is one very large boat parked there called the Queen Mary.
Handsome guy with a stroller

Handsome guy with a stroller


Art-Deco!

Art-Deco!


Another beaut!

Another beaut!


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It was a blessing in disguise that there was not a lot to do in Long Beach (without the help of car), so we did not do much other than go to the Queen Mary. We spent one full day there walking around an enormous art-deco boat. I took Bette to the pool for the first time. One of my best friends also came down from LA to see us. It was a great time.
The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary


Queen Mary Bar

Queen Mary Bar


Another  shot of the bar

Another shot of the bar

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.

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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.

Toadstool Revisited

Remember how I took that awesome trip across Nebraska last year? Well I revisited our trip to Toadstood for the Journey Western Nebraska website. Please check it out http://www.westnebraska.com/West-Blog/August-2013/Toadstool-Travels/

Bozeman, Montana

I recently embarked on my first vacation without my child! Huge accomplishment, right? Anyways, I visited my childhood best friend, Hayden (going on 19 years of friendship) in Bozeman, Montana. I was only there for three days but we packed our days full and had a blast! My first day we walked around the Bozeman downtown and ate, drank, and shopped. Of course you get to do this while being surrounded by mountains on all sides! For a small town, it had amazing food and drinks and really cute boutiques. Hayden lived near the downtown in a converted large house/small mansion. The yards in her neighborhood were filled with really cool vegetable gardens and many of the houses looked like they were super energy efficient.

Montana-ritas! Huckleberry!

Montana-ritas! Huckleberry!


I am so insanely jealous of this garden!

I am so insanely jealous of this garden!

After bopping around Bozeman, we headed out on the open road to a hot springs called Chico Hot Springs. This may have been my favorite part of the trip. Basically this was an outdoor pool that was fed by hot springs. The large pool side was lukewarm and then there was a smaller hot side. It felt to me like I was taking a bath outdoors while looking up at mountains. It was incredible. The drive out was pretty great too, saw lots of animals including alpacas (which I was made fun of for because I knew that they were not llamas). After Chico we headed into Livingston, Montana for a dinner filled with wine, beef, veggies, and the most delicious cheeses at a place called Second Street Bistro. The town was as cute as could be too!

Post-Chico bathing

Post-Chico bathing


No alpacas here, but it is still amazing!

No alpacas here, but it is still amazing!


Livingston, MT

Livingston, MT


Cuteness never stops!

Cuteness never stops!

The second day was laid back, and rather chilly. While Omaha was boiling at about 90 with 90% humidity, Saturday in Bozeman was a cool 50-60 with occasional rain. Hayden and I were pretty lazy for the most part but we did go on a hike up some hills near her house while the sun was shining. We climbed the path, admiring the views of the mountains and the storms in said mountains. Not long after we reached the high point of the trail, it dropped about 20 degrees, clouded up, and the rain started. We made our way down the hill much quicker than our way up.

Clouds and Mountains

Clouds and Mountains


It's important to have a giant bloody mary while hiking.

It’s important to have a giant bloody mary while hiking.


More clouds

More clouds


Storm!

Storm!

Sunday, I woke up and walked around downtown Bozeman before Hayden woke up. I grabbed a crappy cup of coffee and wandered around. There wasn’t much open but the sky was clear and the air was the warmest it had been my whole trip. A short time later, we headed out for white water rafting on the Gallatin River. I complained the entire time before we started because I was scared, and let’s face it, I didn’t enjoy being in a cold wetsuit in 70 degree weather. We went, I survived, and moments were fun. Our guide was hilarious, and everyone sensed my fear and kept talking about how I was going to fall off the raft. Luckily, I did not fall into the icy waters. It was not on my bucket list, but if it was I could check it off and not have to worry about doing it again.

Hotel Baxter

Hotel Baxter


And then Hayden turned into a moose.

And then Hayden turned into a moose.

My trip was fast and fun. I enjoyed getting a break from my darling toddler and had a blast with my best friend. I know I could have done so much more, but I only had so much time. Maybe next time we will go to Yellowstone and see the Old Faithful and make our way up to Big Sky. I was glad to get home to the balmy weather and to feel like I was wrapped in a cozy blanket, thank you Nebraska summertime.

Pretty Montana Flower. First person to identify wins a cookie.

Pretty Montana Flower. First person to identify wins a cookie.

ANGRY RANT: My flights were delayed in Denver for my flight to Bozeman and back home to Omaha. I spent a total of 13 hours in the stupid Denver airport. It made me somewhat homicidal. I complained to Frontier and they didn’t care. I hate them. I think they stink and I never want to fly with them again. So since they didn’t care, I am going to complain on my blog. Justice will never be served.

Brownville Flea Market

On our second trip to Brownville, NE, we went to the Memorial Day Flea Market. They have two huge flea markets a year, once during Memorial Day weekend and the other Labor Day weekend. All of the streets of this tiny historic town are taken over by antique and junk slingers. There were also plenty of county fair type food stands, and even pony rides. Yes, you could get funnel cake. No, we didn’t get funnel cake.
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We weren’t really on the hunt for anything but came home with some pretty sweet finds. Brent bought a couple of drinking glasses that had orioles on them, and I came home with some pretty sweet jewels. My first attempt at “dickering” was a complete flop. I wanted these two 1960’s pyrex bowls and in trying to get a good deal, I offered the guy $2 more than what they were worth. He looked at me strangely and I realized what I had done. I think he felt pity for me and ended up giving me $6 off the asking price. After that I did not dicker again.
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After looking through most of the junk we stopped at Whiskey Run Creek Winery. I had purchased a Living Social deal a few days before that I was excited to use. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no cell phone service in Brownville so I could not bring up my deal on the phone. This means there will be another Brownville trip this summer! We still had a nice time sitting on the patio drinking wine. You can buy their wine in several Omaha Hy-Vee’s. I am a big fan of their Robert’s Back 40 and Chambourcin.
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We were also able to get our very first Nebraska Passport stamp of the year at the Lyceum, which is a nice little restaurant/bookstore. I don’t think we will make any large treks across Nebraska this year to get all of the Passport stamps but there are still a lot within an hour or so of the Omaha area. Here’s hoping to many more Nebraska summertime adventures!