Where to Begin

Where Oh Where Are YOU Tonight?: Are You Here, now the wrong place, Odyssey Through Nebraska Followers?

Omaha Lauritzen Gardens Tropical Two



Transferring my website over from wordpress.com to a wordpress.org site has been more challenging than I expected.  Supposedly they migrated my followers from one place to the other, but since I have 77 followers on my new site and 200+ on my old, I am thinking that they made a wrong turn.

I could not help but think of the old song from Hee-Haw, “Where, Oh, Where Are You Tonight?”  Yep, I will proudly admit growing up watching that show.  My husband did as well, and we have been sitting here well past our bedtime watching possibly pirated clips on YouTube.  Also many sad attempts of people to recreate a show at their own community events – as my son would say, “This is rather awkward.”  I wanted to post a clip for you here to show you what I am talking about, but they are all too poorly done.  Anyway, I am severely digressing!

Because I really have no idea what is going on, I am going to post this at both sites.  I have been blogging NOW at http://www.odysseythroughnebraska.com INSTEAD.  But I am not sure that anyone who has signed up to get the posts has actually been having them arrive in their in-boxes.  Hopefully the migration will work at some point, but please feel free to “follow” me again if you are one of the ones who did not transfer over.

As for the theme of the website itself, I am not settled on one yet.  If you tried visiting this site during the week, you would have seen some images that did not quite belong.  For instance a tiger.  Ayers Rock in Australia.  Scuba Diving.  Images that were a part of designs that I could not manage to alter.  Right now I am using a theme that is not my favorite, but at least you are seeing Nebraska pictures.

Omaha Lauritzen Gardens Tropical One

This does include the pictures on this particular post that were part of a tropical display this spring at Lauritzen Gardens.  Between now and whenever, hopefully I will get a few things figured out.  Pretty sure I will be changing the look of things a few more times before I am satisfied.  Definitely hoping that I will continue to produce content that is helpful and enjoyable to read!  Thanks for sticking with me during this process!

P.S. PLEASE make sure to check out my great giveaway that I posted this previous Tuesday.  If need be, I will postpone the deadline.  I am hoping to have many great entries to choose from!

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Moving Monday AND You Might Be From Nebraska If …

Well, I think that my website move is under way.  Sorry to do another post on this topic, but this process was more complicated then I thought it would be.  Picking a webhost just might be harder than picking out new paint or furniture!  Anyway, the only reason I am telling you this is because I will not be able to write again on here until the transfer is complete in 24-72 hours.  (That’s a LONG labor!)  Hopefully I will be up in time to do my give away tomorrow!  If not, I will be back as soon as possible!

For now, ponder calming effect of this picture … Don’t you want to just go to Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center with a picnic basket and a good book or two?  I do.  But as my kids are about to wake up, I am thinking this will not be happening!

Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Lake

My husband was teasing me that the picture that I used last night of the Nebraska dirt road seemed to say “Dead End.”  That was not what I was exactly going for when discussing the move of my blog to a new ip address. 🙂  Peace and tranquility is more of the image I was hoping would appear!

Since all of this computer stuff has stressed me out a bit.  I was definitely in need of a laugh.  Someone posted this on the internet from an e-mail that was circulating awhile ago.  Normally I would just link you to the page, but I am not sure that I trust that site.  So, instead I am going to copy and paste.  Hope you enjoy the list!


1) You’ve never met any celebrities.

2) Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.

3) “Vacation” means driving to the Henry Doorly Zoo or going to the State Fair.

4) You’ve seen all the biggest bands ten years after they were popular.

5) You measure distance in minutes.

6) Down south to you means Kansas.

7) You know several people who have hit a deer.

8) You have no problem spelling or pronouncing “Kearney” and “Beatrice”.

9) You know the answer to the question, “Is this Heaven?”

10) Your school classes were canceled because of cold.

11) Your school classes were canceled because of heat.

12) You know what Huskers are.

13) You’ve ridden the school bus for an hour each way.

14) You’ve ever had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day.

15) You think ethanol makes your truck “run a lot better.”

16) You know what “knee-high by the Fourth of July” refers too.

17) Stores don’t have bags, they have sacks.

18) You see a car running in the parking lot at the store with no one in it no matter what time of the year.

19) You end your sentences with an unnecessary preposition. Example: “Where’s my coat at?” or “If you go to the mall I wanna go with.”

20) You can locate Nebraska on the United States map.

21) Detassling was your first job.

22) Your idea of a really great Burger is when the meat is twice as big as the bun and accompanied only by ketchup and a dill pickle slice.

23) You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

24) You think of the major four food groups as beef, pork, casserole, and Jell-O salad with marshmallows.

25) When asked how your trip was to any foreign, exotic place, you say, “It was different.”

26) You carry jumper cables in your car.

27) You drink “pop.”

28) You know what the numbers I-80, 275 and 2 mean.

29) You know what “cow tipping” is.

30) You know what a “Runza” is.


Categories: Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Moving On …

File:Dukeville, Nebraska (8114832541).jpg

Possibly this post is a bit cruel to those of you who personally know me.  After all, we have been trying to sell our house.  Sorry – no news to report on that front.  But, I am about to attempt to move my Odyssey Through Nebraska WordPress site to a home of its own.  Hopefully tomorrow morning, you will be able to see http://www.odysseythroughnebraska.com

I think they will take care of transferring everything, but just in case, I thought I had better let you know where I am going.  Hope you keep traveling with me!

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Tuesday Travel Tips: Having a Nebraska State Park Permit Expands Your Adventure Options

Today was the best kind of day: full of wonderful places and most importantly spending time with wonderful people.  We were with dear friends and then had a few adventures alone.  Lovely memories!  On the way back from our first adventure, we took a quick detour.

Conestoga Lake Zoomed In

Having driven by the Conestoga Lake sign many times, I thought it was high time that we stopped!  The park was so close to the main road and to Denton – a great location!

Conestoga Lake Sign

Conestoga Lake is one of the many state recreation areas across Nebraska.  I appreciate the fact that these areas can be found in SO many places across our state.  87 possibilities to be exact! As our kids continue to grow, I hope that we will make these outings happen more often.  And that we will have time to actually stop, as opposed to just driving into the parking lot like we did today!  This is why I plan to add a similar sticker (like the one below) every year from now on!

Nebraska Park Permit

This year we bought these little Nebraska park permit stickers for BOTH of our vehicles for UNDER $40.  Now we can stop at state parks when we are out and about – totally worth the outdoor adventures that await! I do believe that walking around Conestoga Lake would be a fun outing!

Conestoga Lake Shore

I am happy to announce that for my first bloGIVEversary prize, I get to give away a 2014 Nebraska Annual Park Permit!   Please enter below using the lovely Rafflecopter link!  Next Tuesday I will introduce my next prize and will announce this week’s winner then!

Link to Rafflecopter Giveaway

P.S. A big thank you to my dear friend who donated her extra park permit for me to give away to one of you!  Our family loves experiencing adventures with yours!  So glad that you are a part of our lives!


Categories: Annual Events, Metro, Region or City, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Happy Blogiversary to Me: One Year of Odyssey Through Nebraska

Blow up the balloons!  Throw the confetti!  Drape the streamers!”Odyssey Through Nebraska” is exactly one year old today.

When I started this blog last July, I had no idea how much this would change my life and also the lives of my family.   While there have been a few bumps in the road, overall I have definitely enjoyed the journey.  Thank you for being a part of this path with me!

Four in a Jeep

Don’t you just love the various expressions on my kids’ faces?  Kind of sums up the year for me: happy, confused, delirious and tired.  Guess you can assign who is who! 🙂

I plan to make this month a true BloGIVErsary.  That is right: I have been working on lining up some great giveaways.   While most bloggers manage to feature several prizes in a row, I have decided to space mine out a bit.  Each Tuesday in July, I will be announcing what prize my readers are eligible to win!  I am so excited – giving away prizes is so fun!  Especially when you have such great sponsors!  Later on today, I will announce my first one, so please stay tuned!


Categories: Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Metro, Panhandle, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Region or City, Sandhills, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Flashback: Nebraska’s Ashfall and the Missed Photo Op

In 1996, I was privileged to go on road trip with two VIP’s.  At least they definitely were to me.  Weeks away from starting my first “grown-up” job teaching fifth graders, I went up and stayed with my grandparents for several days late that summer.

They were the ones who initiated the outing.  At age 84 and 88, they still got around quite well.  Although they did have me drive, they picked the destination.  Ashfall.

Ashfall text

I loved the time we spent there!  The above picture of a picture almost captures the fun adventures that await for anyone that chooses to visit.

Ashfall Scrapbook 2

In fact, I captured the experience in one of my very first scrapbook layouts.  Documenting the landscape and the fossils complete with stickers of the animals that once were found here in Nebraska in ages long ago (probably right before Noah’s great flood), I still enjoy remembering that trip.  I would have enjoyed seeing all of those animals.  Hopefully sometime we will get to take our kids there!

Ashfall Scrapbook 1

My biggest regret: while I managed to document the place, for whatever reason I did not document the people.  No pictures exist of the couple that day that wanted to make a memory with their oldest granddaughter. I can still picture them then – Grandma guiding Grandpa along as he was no longer quite as steady.  Arm-in-arm, they walked the paths, just as they traveled through life.

They are both gone now – on to meet their Savior.  I still miss them.  In fact, tears are streaming down my face as I type this.  I am hopeful that maybe a picture of them together that day still exists in one of my many boxes of snapshots waiting to be documented.  But I am afraid that I will just be forever relying on the pictures in my head, rather than on the page, for the memories that day.

I still take many, many pictures of places.  But today, as we were on yet another adventure, I was intentional about capturing my kids in the moment.  For that is what will really matter someday.


Categories: Family Outings, Lewis and Clark, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Travel Tips: Charge It!

Before you start thinking that a credit card company offered me lots of bonus miles to promote them, this column has nothing to do with plastic rectangles.  Nor does this have anything do with the Alamo since that event did not happen in Nebraska.  This little post has everything to do with the item I think I can no longer live without: my cell phone.

Just a decade ago, we did not even have our own cell phone.  I think my husband had one for work.  Then a tornado passed quite close to our Hickman home.  Right before, I had been driving home with our 18 month old from a graduation party.  We decided that being able to stay in touch could be a good thing.  After that, my parents passed down their old flip phone to us.  Of course the fact that I frequently forgot it at home was not especially helpful.

I still remember several falls ago when my husband convinced me that we should upgrade to a smart phone.  Pretty sure he regrets that decision at times now (sorry, Honey!)  Suddenly the world was really at my finger tips – kind of a fun thing for a homeschool mom.  Our Android was definitely an upgrade, but the last few months of ownership, the phone would hardly hold a charge for more than a few hours.  Not exactly the most reliable on even short trips since we could never get the car charger to work.

When my husband switched jobs this spring, he needed to get his own phone.  He convinced me that I needed to upgrade at the same time, so that we could have the exact same phone.  Easier to learn and to help each other.  We walked in to get simple Samsungs and walked out with I-phones.  Now I am really not going back.

I really like my I-phone.  Using my apps on this phone is SO much better.  With my Android, they would seem to stutter.  I am probably on my phone too much now.  Okay – I am on my phone too much.  This is an area I need to moderate – we all have room for growth, right?  Unfortunately I still have a charging issue.  But for a different reason now.  The camera.

Lewis & Clark FORT text

One of my favorite pictures from last week!

Taking pictures with my I-phone is now my preferred method of photography.  Especially when I use the HDR setting.   The pictures are amazing! As you can imagine, once you take 100+ pictures, which is what I can easily do on an outing, the battery no longer seems to like you.

Last week, we went to a small Nebraska town.  Sure enough, by the end of the morning, I had very little battery.  And SO many pictures I still wanted to take.  Thankfully I did have our car charger.  When I went to go pick up our lunch, I was able to charge it a little bit.  But I knew I needed more.  So I just might have left the key in the ignition, letting the phone keep charging while I grabbed the food.  Thank goodness for small towns!  Although I must admit I still prayed that both the car and the phone would still be there when I returned!  Oh the predicaments we get into ..

I think I have finally learned a few key charging lessons!

1) Keep the phone on the car charger the whole way to our destination, even if the phone is already charged.

2) Bring the outlet plug-in charger along.  Maybe they will have a movie we can watch where plug-ins are nearby, so that the phone can charge while we learn!

3) Even though it is bulky. I need to bring my Nikon along when we have several destinations.  With extra batteries of course.  I missed some of the pictures that I wanted to take because the phone was almost out of batteries.  Plus I may actually need to use my phone for its originally intended purposes.  Having a phone full of great pictures is a bit useless if I cannot get a hold of someone because the phone has died.

Charge it

Our charging station.  Simple now.  Probably will be more completed once we add a few kid phones.   But that will be many years from now, much to our kids chagrin!

Probably I should check into getting one of the solar chargers that they have now!  How about you?  How do you charge on?


Categories: Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Travel Tips: So Many Nebraska Places, So Little Time

Looking over my folder crammed full of options, I can see …

20 parks on the Nebraska Great Park Pursuit

80 Nebraska Passport Places

32 options in Lincoln: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

Several Lincoln places are on both lists: The Capitol, Morrill Hall, International Quilt Study Center and the Lincoln Zoo.  That still leaves ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT PLACES to go.  This does not include all of the places that did not make one of the passport tours this year.  Or the places from last year.  Or the festivals that one can find in Nebraska (To find these fun events, check out this list by by Family Fun in Omaha compiled with help from The Walking Tourists )  Or the extra 21 places that just were added to our list of “must-go” places (thankfully there are a few locations that duplicate other lists!  More on those soon!) And they say that there is NOTHING to do in Nebraska?  I say there is TOO MUCH to do!


Just noticed this building, a part of the Lincoln skyline, and I am not sure I have ever been inside.  Yet another place to explore!

To avoid being overwhelmed at all the possibilities, following these suggestions will help you.

First, set your goals.  How many places do you want to visit? One or two per month?  One per week?  Several in one day ?  We tend to do the latter now that my kids are older.   At the same time, I am committed to spend at least one day per week at HOME!   We need that to stay balanced.   Another question: is going to the travel program places important to you?  Last year, we traveled to Northwest Nebraska. Since we do not have long distance travel plans yet, I know that we will probably not get as many Nebraska Passport stamps this year. Because we are sticking close to home, we hope to hit 30 of the “Lincoln: Be a Tourist in your own Hometown” places. As we needed a challenge, we are going for the platinum level!


One of the 8 Lincoln passport stops we made today.

Second, pick a theme or a focus. Much to family’s amusement, I am teaching art at our cooperative this fall. While I am creative, my artistic skills might be lacking.  Yet I know that I can improve and grow in this content area. Going to art galleries is a part of that process for me. Today  we saw an original Warhol, and the kids were amazed at the price tag.   This focus has been rather enjoyable !  Need inspiration?  Check out the Nebraska Passport “tours” for suggested themes. Even if you cannot make their specific locations, possibly you have similar places near you.

Third, involve your children in the process.  Ask them where they want to go, but at the same time, give them parameters.   Would you rather go here or there ?  Which place do you want to go first?  Without giving them direction, you could end up on an unexpected three hour tour. Another necessity when traveling with children is to mix learning with play.  Even our children, who have gone to countless places, would not handle going to multiple places without taking play breaks!


An impromptu short game of hide-and-seek.  Can you see the children?  Thankfully they did not hide very often. Not too keen on this particular activity in busy public spaces!  🙂

How do you narrow down your travel options?  How do you pick your travel destinations?  Wherever you decide to go, I hope your family’s journey is an enjoyable one!

Categories: Family Outings, Great Park Pursuit, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday: Traveling On Across Nebraska

If you are noticing your inbox is cluttered with a few more “Odyssey Through Nebraska” posts, you just might be right.  For one thing, school is out.  Our homeschool does take a bit of a break for the summer.  (Although plenty of learning is still taking place, but please don’t tell my kids that!)  The other main reason: there is SO much going on around this state for the next several months.  (Look for a “Tuesday Travel Tips” post next week addressing how our family decides which activities we should complete and where we should go).

I want to do my best to keep you informed and aware of all of the many options across the fair state of Nebraska.  And here is my plan, although I will need your help to be successful.  More on that shortly!

THE ODYSSEY THROUGH NEBRASKA BLOG: Yep, what you are reading right now.  I plan on continuing to have Wordless Wednesdays features, along with  explanations on Thursdays.  I am sure that I will be sharing some more “Tuesday Travel Tips” and “Friday Photography” posts again.  Having put aside my blog “history lessons” for a few months due to teaching history at home, I also hope to do several “Flashback Fridays.”  While occasionally I feature upcoming events (such as the The Lincoln Children’s Museum “Shining Stars” event or upcoming children’s theater events), for the most part I share where we have been.  Our previous locations that I hope will become your upcoming destinations.

5-21-14 Where Were We

ODYSSEY THROUGH NEBRASKA FACEBOOK PAGE This is the best way that I can inform you as to what is happening across the state.  Being able to post upcoming events of fun things happening across the state is the one way that I can keep in touch with many events.  I could not possibly blog about them all.  Nor could I attend them all.  But hopefully if you are close enough, you will be able to enjoy a Nebraska family outing.  THIS IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP: have an event that is happening near you?  Please post it on the Facebook page.  I will miss many fun opportunities that I am hoping you will help me catch.  Please share the fun with your fellow Nebraskans.



NEBRASKA ODYSSEY ON TWITTER  After being a bit skeptical at first, I did come around to being a “Tweeter.”  And I almost like it.  Brevity is a good challenge.  So, here is where I share bits when we are out and about.  Or I retweet really cool Nebraska pictures.  Or even better, thoughts from really cool Nebraskans.

June storms

Tweeted picture – the view of the storms near our house.  (That is White Hall in the background, not our house 🙂 )

Follow me.  Peek in on me.  Hopefully I will eventually create buttons to make it easier for you to do that, but for now you can simply click on any of these links to become an official follower of the blog, Facebook or Twitter  .  We will often be out and about this summer.  Although sometimes I hope to be enjoying the moment and not glued to my phone.  After all, I am traveling to experience and to make memories with my family.  Hope to see you along the way!

P.S. Speaking of memories … we are just a few weeks away from my one year “blogiversary.”  (I am just beginning to work on organizing some fun give-aways!)  In honor of this, tomorrow’s “Wordless Wednesday” will be a fun collaboration.  A scavenger hunt full of pictures from many places that we have been.  Your challenge is to find the connection between the places!  On Thursday, I will tell you how the pictures work together.    This is partially inspired by a recent creative post over at Family Fun in Omaha.  If you have ever been to Omaha, I highly suggest that you “visit” the 20 places in her Omaha Scavenger Hunt and see how many you can identify!

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Birthday Parties Across Nebraska

Yesterday I talked about how we chose to have our kids’ birthday parties this year be a large group one.  Because of the simplicity of planning and going to a location, this one was less stressful and possibly more memorable.  Although I do enjoy coming up with fun food, games and activities, at the same time, this can be rather stressful for moms.  In fact, I think Pinterest has not done moms any favors overall for party planning.

2010 Brown Bomber Cupcake.jpg

Pretty sure my cupcakes have never looked like this …

While searching on the site for recent ideas for my daughter’s Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party, I found some cute and reasonable ideas.  Then I discovered the one page where the parent had hired a custom calligrapher to fashion the invitations.  She stated the expense was worth it – mainly I wished that I had been the one hired for such a time consuming job.  Even at minimum wage, I bet a pretty penny was paid.

For me, I want my kids to be celebrated, yet I do not want them to feel entitled to get every little whim and wish.  Feeling special is important but being completely catered to is another story.  I do want them to know their value in our family, yet I do not want them to think the world revolves around them.


This cake is more what I manage to make usually, although whatever I was going for did not exactly work.  Thankfully, it tasted yummier than it looked.  My sister is 3 years and 3 days younger than me.  We have always celebrated our birthdays together – that is special to me now!

For many years, I was involved with a MOPS: Mothers of preschoolers group.  (In fact, tonight my  husband and I went to their couple’s soup supper – so great to have an evening with friends!)  Anyway two of the many meetings I attended involved planning memorable birthday parties for your kids.   The ideas presented were ones that moms can actually do in a reasonable amount of time and without a huge budget.

I had the opportunity last year to make the handout that was given to the moms complete with party themes, games and even recipes.  Some of the ideas are more specific to the Lincoln area (including places to buy cupcakes), but some of the suggestions could be used by parents anywhere.  I received permission from the contributors to post the document on this blog.  By the way, since the document is a year old, some of the phone numbers or prices could have changed.

Party Central on Odyssey Through Nebraska

(Hopefully the link will work.  I can be technologically challenged.  The original document had much cuter font, but I was not sure how to exactly translate it over from Word to Google Docs in the same format).

Anyway, two last fun traditions directly from my house.

The first one was copied from my friend, Jen.  When my birthday child wakes up in the morning, they will see their age counted out in crepe paper strips on the door.  In other words, my son is just about to have nine strips hanging from his doorframe next month.  Other than the fact that you have to buy inexpensive tissue paper and remember where the tape is (and possibly to follow up every time), this is rather easy.  My kids love it and now remind us every time to hang them up.   I try to do this while they are sleeping, but I think it may start being challenging when they can stay up longer than me!

My husband started the next tradition because for many years he has left the house for work rather early.  So, he would leave the birthday child a message on the window.  With dry erase markers, he would manage to get their name and a message.  Once I bought him window markers, his true artist came forth.  His messages have now turned into masterpieces.

Hopefully this post has encouraged you with some fresh ideas on planning your child’s birthday events. The important thing to remember is that effort is everything.  As long as remembrance is the focus, the day will be a celebration!  Happy birthday!

Categories: Activities @ Home, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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