Posts Tagged With: family

Christmas Celebrations Across Nebraska

With Thanksgiving happening the 28th, the latest possible date for that holiday, Christmas is going to sneak upon us rather quickly this year!  One of our family celebrations will be happening in just 2 weeks.  I know this December is going to go even quicker than ever.

Christmas G

December always seems to be a packed month.  On this blog, I am planning on sharing several fun family options and experiences that you can have throughout this season.  But because I do not want to completely overwhelm your inbox, I hope to post even more on my Odyssey Through Nebraska Facebook page.  This way I can share different event possibilities more frequently.  So, if you are not a Facebook fan, today is great day to become one, especially if you are actually from Nebraska.  And since I cannot possibly keep up with every activity, I am hoping that many of you will also share the happenings in your area.  (Please keep them to Nebraska events only though!)   Hopefully this season will not be one of busyness for you but will instead be one full of meaningful celebrations!

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

Grandma Michels: My Family Quilting Heritage Part 2

Slightly less than a year ago, we said our earthly good-byes to my grandmother.  She survived a few months past the century mark, and she was ready to go Home.  I am so glad all of our children were able to meet her.

Grandma and the kids

She adored her great grandchildren.  I think that was a surprise to her.  After all, on the way to the hospital to meet my oldest son, she had this conversation with my sister.

Sheila: “Grandma, are you excited to meet your first great-grandchild?”

Grandma: “I don’t know.  I wasn’t that excited about meeting you kids for the first time.”

Gee, thanks, Grandma.  My Grandma was definitely honest.  Maybe a bit much so at times, especially in her later years.  Thankfully we could usually laugh at her comments.  She was in her 60’s when I first met her.  Much more active and into lots of projects.  Including a beautiful flower garden.  And into making quilts.  Lots of them!

Grandma star quilt

When I was around 12, I decided that I wanted to make a quilt with her.  So, she let me pick out fabric scraps.   I started sewing and sewing and sewing.  For a few hours I kept at it.  Then suddenly having my own homemade quilt no longer mattered.  That was hard work.  Below is pictured my one and only quilt.  Yes, the small sorry looking squares that would have looked even more pathetic if my Grandma had not kindly sewed on backing.  I did not exactly inherit her sewing skills.


I managed to “quilt” 16 whole squares before quitting.

Thankfully my Grandma kept on with her quilts.  We have a wonderful collection of family heirlooms.  A quilt is truly a work of art.

Grandma's Quilts

When we were teenagers, we requested that Grandma make each of a quilt for a wedding present someday.  She lived long enough to personally present each of us with that gift.  My butterfly quilt is hanging on a special quilt rack in our daughter’s room,so I see the masterpiece often.  (And I have already had to explain to my daughter that the quilt is not going with her someday, at least not right away! 🙂

Grandma's Quilt Gifts

I am thankful that my Grandma invested her time into leaving pieces of herself and the past into gifts that will last.  I am even more thankful that she invested her lives in us.  And her prayers – that is really what has kept us from unraveling over the years.  I miss her!

thankful tree

Categories: Lewis and Clark, Nebraska History, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Traveling Together Across Nebraska

Nebraska sunset

Over 1,000 pictures and close to 1,000 miles later, we are home from our Nebraska panhandle vacation.   (And I think I garnered enough topics and photos for at least 30 blogs. 🙂 ) We had a wonderful time, and I am so glad that we were given the opportunity to go!  Here is a wordle representing a few of the places that we experienced.  (To see a bigger version, you can go directly to the wordle site: Western Nebraska Trip.)

We had ventured out west in the company of my Michels family – my parents, my sister & her husband and my brother & his wife.  12 of us staying under one roof.  While there were some moments of crabbiness and bickering (mainly from the children, at least the fighting part! 🙂 ), we really did all enjoy the experience.  I know that it helped that we had 3 vehicle options, so we did not have to be all together all the time.  And our youngest two children were able to stay back a couple of times with the others, allowing our oldest two to have more adventures.  (The youngest did well but did tire of museums and such!)

I had a chance last night to talk to my daughter alone about her impressions of the trip as we were finishing our journey home.  Her favorite part was going fishing with her dad, uncle and brothers.  (For the next few days afterwards, the kids stood out in the open grass area near our rented house practicing casting.  I am sure people driving by were thinking that the kids were deprived since they were not by the lake!)

DSCN5049_1779NE Trip Nikon 13

But then after thinking for a moment, my daughter changed her mind.  She said that her favorite part was that we were all together.  I had to agree.  As much as I especially enjoyed getting to tour and talk to many people across the state, the experience would have been greatly lessened if I had been alone.  Having my family there made all the difference.

DSCN5317_2008NE Trip Nikon 13

Watching the lightning show (amazing what you can see when you are not distracted by television!) 

To my family: I hope you know how much I love each of you!  Thanks for traveling on this journey of life with me!  (And for putting up with me taking a gazillion pictures!)  Glad we were together!

Categories: Frontier Trails, Panhandle, Region or City, Sandhills, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

Travel Tips Tuesday: The Best Destination

A Family on the Go Stop

My 50th blog post – I wanted to write about something significant to me.  But I will say my topic is possibly a bit unexpected for a travel blog.  Sometimes rather than seeking out the next place to explore, only one place should be your destination.  Home.

I am beginning to see more and more how important that balance is.  Seeking out new adventures while finding time to settle in at home.  Being on the go and being on the stop.  Balancing busyness and stillness.

In the weeks to come as I continue to write about our adventures and places that we have explored, I know that some people may begin to wonder.  “How does she ever find time to homeschool?”  “How does she keep leaving and not have her house be a disaster?”  (Okay – I will be honest – I definitely am behind on that part currently – hopefully we will establish a better routine on keeping up around here.)  How can she be gone all of the time?

I actually am not.  We are home frequently.  In fact, my goal this fall is to be home three out of five school days.  We will have our cooperative day, and then we will have a field trip day.  After all, this year we are studying Nebraska.   So, when we read the short story,  Journey into Christmas, by Bess Streeter Aldrich, I want to take my kids to see her house in Elmwood, now a museum, all decorated for Christmas.  I do not want to just read about prairies but to go walk through the grasses at Prairie Creek Audubon Center.  Experiential learning.  One of the many reasons we have chosen to homeschool.

But even that will have parameters.  If we are not accomplishing our work at home, that may cancel or postpone our outings. Or if just one or two are not motivated to compete their school,  I have warned that they will be sitting off to the side finishing it, while the rest of us are taking a tour.  And if they are frequently responding unpleasantly (the way they have seemed to have been this week a bit – yucky hot weather!), we will stay home.  If their reactions to me are less than desirable in private, I am not sure I want to take them out in public.  Bad attitudes can definitely take the joy out of traveling with kids.  Theirs or mine!

The great thing about writing a blog is that I do not have to mention when we had the adventure.  Just that we went there.  So, often we were going to two or three places in day, then staying home the next.  Now that our school has started our outings will slow down, but since my blog may not slow down, that may not be apparent.    I think I am ready for routine (that is once I have finished catching up from our summer of baseball and other activities.)

July and August cell phone 069

Insert a picture of your own home here. 🙂

So, go out and explore.  But sometimes be quick to stay home – enjoy your own surroundings.  There will always be opportunities out there.  We have missed plenty.  But we have also gained much on those times spent at home just being.    Your front porch (or other cozy spot) is calling your name.  Perhaps lyricist John Howard Payne in his opera Clari (Maid of Milan) expressed the sentiment best.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.





Categories: Travel Tips, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Our Day on the Farm

My grandpa was a farmer.  My two uncles have also farmed at various times.  (Three of my great grandpas were also farmers, although I never met any of them! 🙂  )  But I do think that is rather pathetic that my first time ever to ride on a combine was right before I turned 39 years old.  Pretty sad that I waited so long.

Not like I didn’t spend time out on the farm growing up – we were out there several times a year.  I have many memories of going out to “put up” sweet corn (more on that later this week!).  So, I don’t know if we never were out at harvest time or if my uncles were too busy working to drive a girl around.

Last fall I asked my uncle if I could remedy that.  So, we went out, picked up my aunt and met him at his nephew’s farm, and we all took turns riding along inside the combine.  Watching the corn be sucked up in the chute was rather cool – I am sure my contained excitement was rather amusing to the farmers who watch this all of the time!





I would imagine that riding along in air conditioned combine is a bit different than farming once was.  But  while they may be cooler, I do think that the technology has also required longer days.  You can get more done, so you have more fields to do.


We also went by the homestead and to go see the cows.  Yep, we’re city folk.  My kids liked it all, other than the farm dog that had a bit too much energy for my littler ones.  After the men needed to actually get back to work (we were slowing them down a bit), we headed out to home of my cousin, his wife and kids.  This was the point at which my kids were convinced that maybe we should relocate.


Especially after they rode on the 3 wheeler around the farm!  I am so thankful that we had family that allowed us to hang out for the day.  (We love you!) Sometime soon I hope to share about some area farms that allow visitors because everyone in Nebraska should get to have a day on the farm.

Categories: Agriculture, Pioneer Country, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Birthday to Remember in the Town of Wilber, Nebraska

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Walking tour of Wilber – Nebraska’s Czech Capital!  1-888-4-WILBER
Website/Facebook Wilber Chamber of Commerce: Tour info and more
Open hours Weekday walking tours available (lasting from 9:30- until mid-afternoon)
What to Know Light breakfast and lunch is included
Cost Adults: $15; ages 3-8: $5 (cost of 8-12 year olds might be negotiable?)
Parking Free parking available in front of Hotel Wilber; will walk rest of time
Group Tours If your group is too large, more than one guide might be needed
Museum Manners Some of the locations you visit are naturally more kid friendly than others
Recommended Ages To walk around: ages 6 and up; strollers could work for younger ones

Did you know that the 2013 Wilber National Czech Festival begins this Thursday August 1st?  So, all week I will be featuring stories about Czechs and their cultural contributions to Nebraska. 

Wilber welcome

In 2010-2011, our family traveled around the globe to over 40 countries.  If you have gathered from previous entries that we are a homeschool family, you would know that most of our exploring took place in our kitchen and in our living room.  Since I I wanted to immerse my family in the countries we had chosen to study, we learned by  coloring famous places (like Machu Pichu), ate a meal for each country (like lingonberry meatballs and oostakaka), read folklore (like Grimm’s fairy tales) and enjoyed finding out about the world.  As I picked the countries to emphasize on each continent, I knew that I definitely wanted to make a stop in each country that represented our personal cultural heritage.

Dolezal Family Crest

Since some of my husband’s relatives had emigrated from Czechoslovakia, studying the Czech Republic was a way that we could celebrate part of my  heritage.  The town of Wilber, Nebraska celebrates Czech Days every August.  so that summer I called the Chamber of Commerce to inquire about the festival.  When the lady discovered that our kids were 1,3,5 and 7 at the time, she suggested that we come spend a full day in Wilber later in the fall, instead of coming to Czech days when the town is a bit hectic for little kids.  So we decided to venture to Wilber when we would be actually studying the Czech Republic, and that happened to be the week of my birthday.

Wilber mural

My birthday was on a Wednesday that week – my Dad’s day out of the office.  So, I convinced my husband to take that day off as well, and we invited both of our sets of parents to join us for “A Day to Remember in Wilber”.  A beautifully sunny, comfortably cool, fall day awaited us.

Hotel Wilber

Our day began with breakfast at the beautiful 1895 Hotel Wilber.   Starting out your morning with fresh kolaches is always a good thing!  (More on these tasty treats later this week!)  Then we proceeded to take a walking tour of the town – learning more about Wilber than we ever thought that we would know.  The town is really quite lovely with several different businesses (and bakeries!)  Our guide for the day even wore her festive Czech dress.

Czech guide

After walking around town for the morning.we went back to Hotel Wilber for a delicious dinner.  Since they did not happen to have any guests in the middle of the week, we also were able to take a tour of the hotel.

Hotel Wilber room

One of my favorite Hotel Wilber rooms.

After our hotel tour, we went to another place or two, then ended up at the Czech Museum.  For a smaller community, they have amassed a wonderful collection of historical treasures.  Several “rooms” were set up to display the items in historical context.

Wilber Museum room

I could have spent a lot more time in the museum, but when you are traveling with littler ones at a certain point you just know that the experience needs to end.  So, about mid-afternoon, our “day” in Wilber came to a close.  What I enjoyed the most was getting to enjoy a leisurely day with those I loved the most!  (And a later supper that included my sister & brother completed that togetherness!)  Since we had planned on spending the day there, we were not on a tight schedule, so my birthday unfolded in a charming way (and turned out to be one of my favorite birthdays ever!)  I hope we can repeat this Wilber outing when we “go” around the world again a few years.

With grandparents in Wilber

P.S. As you may have noticed in the information in the above box, they do still give tours.  You can visit the Wilber Chamber of Commerce website for more details.  The majority of their tours are for adults, which is why I mentioned that the childrens’ prices for the meals & everything might be slightly negotiable, depending on the size and eating capabilities of your child! 🙂

Categories: Accommodations, Annual Events, Eating Establishments, Pioneer Country | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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