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disney, here we come!

big news around here, y’all – we’re heading to DISNEY WORLD!

Disney

yes, you heard that right – in honor of my 29th birthday and sweet Q’s first birthday, Jord + i are bringing our boys to experience the magical world of the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

we’re so, so eager for time away from the brisk temperatures of South Dakota in favor of time in the Florida sunshine, and our oldest boy couldn’t be more excited to experience his first-ever airplane ride. {we haven’t told him yet that he will get to meet Mickey Mouse, but it’s safe to say that the boy will LOSE HIS MIND in excitement.}

we’re staying at {what looks to be} an amazing resort about 5 minutes away from Disney, thanks to a great deal that Jord found. we were lucky enough to secure a direct flight from our home base here in SD to Orlando as well, which will make traveling with two littles a lot easier on Mama + Daddy!

our resort boasts a multitude of pools + a few restaurants to enjoy, so we’ll recover from our day at Disney with some relaxation by the pool without leaving the grounds. we couldn’t be more excited!

any tips for us as we prepare for Disney with a 3-year-old boy + a newly-minted 1-year-old boy?

{image from here}

our bucket list. {summer 2015}

it’s three weeks until summer vacation, and i. cannot. wait. sure, i’ve only been back at this whole big-girl-job thing for nearly two months since welcoming baby Q, but something about the increasing temperatures, the sunshine that greets us as we wake in the morning {in the words of L, “it’s the sunshine, Mama! it’s wake-up time!”}, and the two giggly boys that fill up my heart make me ache for the months to come.

Swimming L - June 2014

{our little fish, last summer}

so, in that spirit, here’s a summer bucket list of sorts – a list of activities that i can’t wait to share with the kiddos this summer:

  • go to the swimming pool and the splash park. i can’t wait to see how much L has grown since our trip to the pool last year on his second birthday, and i am SO excited to get Q all wet and see what he thinks! there’s also a splash park that we tried out last summer that was a big hit with L. we’re on the hunt for a kiddie pool for our yard as well; last year’s pool has since bit the dust. we’re also on the lookout for a float or ring for Q to wear in the water – any recommendations?!
  • visit the downtown Farmer’s Market. in our town, it happens every Saturday morning from May to October – i think that L will love to see all of the fruits and veggies, and i KNOW i’ll love treating myself to some farm-fresh flowers every once in awhile :)
  • storytime. various businesses downtown have storytime for littles once or twice a month, and i know that L would have a blast listening to stories with other kiddos.
  • go to the zoo, of course! we have a family membership, and i plan to get A LOT of mileage out of that activity this summer. we’re also planning our yearly family trip to the Omaha Zoo, one of our favorite destinations – it’ll be Q’s first time visiting!
  • introduce Q to the world of food. he’ll start with rice cereal on May 15! #timeflies
  • play hopscotch. L loves jumping {and he finally leaves the ground when he jumps!} so this will be a fun driveway game.
  • have a bubble bath for cars. L has a million cars already, i swear, and he loves taking baths, so he’ll love giving his cars a bath, too!
  • go to the park. we’re so lucky to live just a few blocks away from a park {complete with a small baseball field, which my sports-loving toddler just adores}, so we’ll be spending many an hour there.
  • attend daytime summer camp at our local Montessori school. L went for a week of summer camp last summer and LOVED it, so we plan to send him to five weeks’ worth of camp this summer! i’m so excited for him to learn all about careers {he’ll even get to meet a firefighter – his DREAM}, about transportation {and meet a train conductor!}, about alternative sports like karate and yoga, about sea creatures, and about cooking! i’m also excited for some solo time with Q those weeks – our youngest is growing up so fast!
  • eat popsicles. YUM.
  • fly a kite. L’s never done this before, but i think he’ll love it!
  • go boating. the boys’ grandpa has a speedboat, and L loves to ride around in the boat at our local lake! i’m not sure that Q will go this year, though – i’d rather him be a bit older.
  • go on a picnic. last year, L and i ate lunch outside on our deck, and he thought it was so cool to eat somewhere other than the kitchen table {“Mama, we eat outside!”}, so we’ll have to do that again.
  • blow bubbles. this is one of L’s very favorite activities, but i rarely allow it to happen indoors {ewww sticky bubble solution!}. but the nicer weather will allow us to have many a bubble-blowing adventure.
  • visit the library. summer is the perfect time to renew our library membership!
  • garden. as i mentioned here, we’d love to tackle planting our first-ever garden this summer, and i know that L will love to help with that!
  • work on riding a bike. L has a balance bike, and he’s been a bit hesitant to leave behind his beloved trike and try out the bike. but, he’s a whole year older this summer, so we’re hoping his bike-riding days are on the horizon.
  • do anything and everything sports-related. L loves to play any and all sports, so we’ll be playing catch and dunking basketballs and kicking soccer balls and swatting golf balls all summer long.
  • go on a walk in a local nature area. there are so many cool trails and nature areas in our town – i’d love to take L and Q for a walk! i’ll be sure to bring the stroller :)
  • go camping…even if it’s just in our backyard.
  • go out for ice cream, or buy ice cream from the ice cream truck. whenever we drive by the local ice cream shop, L always wants to stop, so he’ll be excited to actually do so when the shop opens come summer. there’s also a sing-songy ice cream truck that drives through our neighborhood periodically – i’d love to show L what it means to grab our dollars and run for the door when the song starts playing :)
  • watch Daddy play softball every Wednesday night. we’re also hoping that we can take L to see his very first Major League Baseball game this summer, too!
  • play play-doh.
  • play dominos. L loves to count the dots on them, and if i’m not watching him closely, he’ll hide them all over the house…
  • work on potty training. WISH ME LUCK.
  • weekly movie nights in Mama’s bed. every Tuesday night, L and Q and i watch a movie in the big bed while Daddy does his podcast. L so looks forward to this weekly tradition, so we’ll keep it going this summer. a recent favorite of L’s: Mulan. :)
  • make a car out of a box and paper plates, a la this from Not Just a Housewife
  • make airplane art, via Blippi
  • create paintings on canvas. i have a few bare walls and a few canvases lying around that i’m sure L would love to paint!
  • take family naps. oh, how i love taking afternoon naps with both of my boys snuggled in close…

i’m sure that i’m forgetting something…what are YOU doing with your kiddos this summer?

write: doe bay.

first of all, a belated hello, how are you? coming at you from me. i know it’s been awhile since i’ve posted here – well, since we have posted here (this is Jord’s blog, too!) – and that’s for many, many reasons, most of which are uninteresting. however, i’m here today to tell you all about my experience at write: doe bay in april.

in short: it was transformative for sure, but i’m still unsure of the hows and whys surrounding said transformation. in fact, i’ve been avoiding writing this post since i returned home, precisely because i don’t think that i can do the experience justice. it was hard, y’all, in so many ways, but i would say that i’m glad, overall, that i went.

Write-Doe-Bay-Group

the long version, composed in a list, because i could go on forever:

  1. it is quite the trek to get to doe bay. in other words: you gotta be committed. i flew from our small little regional airport to Denver, and then caught another plane to Seattle. then, my lovely and kind fellow doe bay goers picked me up at the airport, and we traveled another 2-ish hours to the ferry terminal at Anacortes, which was headed to Orcas Island. the ferry ride took another 1.5 hours, and then we took a taxi for 40 minutes to get to the doe bay resort. y’all, by the time we arrived at the resort, i had been traveling for like 15 hours straight, counting the time change. in short, when thinking about the time i spent traveling and the motion sickness that i was (unfortunately) battling throughout the day’s travels, it was INSANE. i passed out almost immediately upon arriving in my room and didn’t stir for three straight hours. it was heavenly.
  2. the people at write: doe bay made the trek worthwhile. i met such wonderfully kind, genuine people with stories to tell and compassionate listening ears, ready to hear mine.
  3. the ferry + the Sound + other scenery = love. it was just beautiful. Orcas Island may have felt like the end of the earth in terms of how long it took to get there, but once i was there, i felt my shoulders relax as i breathed in the air of the water and the nature. i’m more of a city girl, so this experience certainly pulled me out of my element (and i wouldn’t say that we were cozied up in luxurious accommodations, but it got the job done). but: a little cabin that’s surrounded by natural beauty wasn’t a bad place to call home for a few days.
  4. a minor detail, but it must be mentioned: the food at write: doe bay was unbelievable. so, so delicious. i didn’t eat everything (yay travel sickness), but what i did eat was AMAZING. i tried halibut for the first time, and it was dreamy. there was endless oatmeal in the morning (made in a crock pot!), which is my happy place, and salads, fresh fruit and veggies…it was just insanely delicious.

Sara-Write-Doe-Bay

and now, my take-aways from the event:

  1. oh, the stories. if write: doe bay taught me anything, it’s that the world hasn’t even begun to hear all of the stories that need to be told. while i remain unsure as to what my story is, and how to tell it, i met some amazing men and women who’ve just got it. it was inspiring and overwhelming and emotionally draining and enlightening and energizing all at the same time. also, a related note: musicians = master storytellers. {check out Daniel Blue here – he led part of our workshop and performed for us, and he’s insanely kind and so, so cool}
  2. bravery feels good. i shared my words with others, and they responded so kindly. i’ll never forget Nici’s hand squeezing my foot as i tearily shared a piece i’d written on motherhood, a raw and just-composed piece that honestly articulated my feelings about my life, my circumstances, my blessings and my fears. i’ll never forget the reassurance of nearly everyone in the room, as they validated my fears and then worked to wipe them away. it was a beautiful moment that i still feel undeserving of.
  3. so does telling people what their words do to you/for you. i met three authors/bloggers who have so touched me and have meaningfully shaped the way that i mother, and i felt (and continue to feel) indebted to them and like i can’t offer anything of value or substance to them as thanks or payback for what they’ve given me. i tried, though – i tried to tell these individuals just how their words have changed me. but, just in case – to Kelle, Claire and Nici – thank you.
  4. this blogging thing is complicated, and i think that my relationship with it has changed. before attending write: doe bay, i so admired the writing, the words, and the following that Kelle, Claire and Nici amassed as they publish post after post. now, looking back on write: doe bay, i’ve learned that what started as a personal blog for Kelle became so much more of that after she published Nella’s birth story. in short, i learned that Kelle’s blog is, in essence, her brand, and that there are beauties and frustrations associated with that, and that these beauties and frustrations must be weighed in equal measure. in short, i learned that sometimes, some days, blogging as a business, as a job, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but that on other days, at other times – it can truly be exactly what it’s thought to be: a beautiful portrait of life at a given moment. and for me, while i used to think how cool it would be to have my blog go *viral* – i don’t want that to happen…like, at all. so, to keep blogging? i love the snippets of life that this blog shares, so my gut says yes…but forever? i couldn’t tell you. complicated, huh?
  5. i’m no good at traveling alone. as someone who hates enclosed spaces and has always demanded the front seat when traveling by car so as to prevent needless vomiting, i had zero comforts on this trip without my husband’s hand to hold or my son’s giggles and demands distracting me. in short, i shouldn’t travel alone – i need someone with me to tell me that it’s going to be okay, that this motion sickness, too, shall pass. but, what’s really blowing my mind, even now, as i look back on almost a month away from this experience, is that my fellow travelers really did fill that void for me. they were so kind, so accommodating, so understanding. and their hugs didn’t hurt, either. so, to all of you doe bay’ers, from attendees to staff – thank you. thanks for taking this girl under your wing and giving her a good hug, a glass of water, a vomit bag, a never-ending supply of fruit to smell, and a wealth of advice.
  6. i really missed my kiddo. well, i missed my husband, too, but for this being the first time that i’ve been away from L for more than one night at a time, i really missed him. i missed his giggles and his cries and his cuddles and his incessant demands to “watch Elmo.” i missed the way his almost-two-year-old body folds so closely into mine when we snuggle. i missed his soft snores, his mile-a-minute words, his requests to read book after book after (annoying, repetitive, who-would-write-this) book. and when he tackled me in the airport, i nearly collapsed into tears as i held him in my arms and kissed his cheeks, his neck, his forehead. it will be quite some time before i leave this kid again, i know it – this time away changed me for sure.

to see pictures of the unbelievable event, click here; all pictures (including the ones above) are by the incomparable jesse michener.

have you ever done something – gone somewhere, said something, wished for something – that was so unlike you, but that changed you? do tell.

on a jet plane.

This past weekend, I got to celebrate a wonderful tradition with my best friend, Brad, for his bachelor party. He and I flew on a jet plane down to a little-known desert town called Las Vegas with three other guys for a little R&R. Well, actually, R&R probably wasn’t our actual intention, nor the outcome, but a trip did occur, and we all returned safely, albeit, a tad tired.

This would mark for the first time that I’d be leaving L and Sara alone together for more than a couple of nights – in this case, I was gone for four nights, to be exact. Leading into the trip, I felt like being away from them wouldn’t be all that abnormal; I expected that I would miss them, but I thought that my days would largely go on unaffected.

Wrong. I missed them like crazy.

L-Jord-Hairbrush

Now, I still had tons of fun, had no issues keeping up with the crew, and was able to not let my feelings of missing them negatively affect the trip. But, I am sure I annoyed some of my traveling buddies because I felt like almost without control that I was talking about L or Sara, or was referencing them all the time. Perhaps that’s why it was easy to relax and enjoy myself over this trip, because they weren’t far away from me mentally or spiritually – they were always on my mind.

Physically, my days got turned upside down. The pace of Vegas is incredible, and just like my first visit to Vegas a few years ago, it never slowed down until I entered  to the airport in Vegas, readying to return home. Just like I expected, I felt this uneasy shift of life screeching to a halt.

This time, however, that feeling was lessened somewhat, as the fast-pace of Vegas was replaced by my excitement to see my family.

Instead of sleeping on the plane, as we started to descend, my levels of excitement peaked. In short, I was so ready to see my family.

Now, given that the plane landed at home past L’s bedtime, and he was a bit cranky when he was awoken by the jolt of the car returning home, I didn’t quite get the grand reception you see in the movies, but nothing could replace the warm feeling of returning home.

For me, the major takeaway of the trip, apart from a really fun time, was this: I don’t know how many times I heard people giving Brad a hard time about how getting married or having babies changes your life, but every time  I heard statements like that, I just smiled and knew, on the inside, how positive those changes have been for me.

Sara’s Going to Write: Doe Bay!

Write Doe Bay 2014

as referenced in this post, and as promised, i’m here to reveal some exciting news: i’m taking part in 2014’s Write: Doe Bay weekend retreat in April!

a little about Write: Doe Bay, right from their website:

Write: Doe Bay will bring together 25 participants at the lovely Doe Bay Resort and Retreat on Orcas Island, Washington.  Through shared meals and shared housing, a new vision for a writer’s retreat takes place.  Community will flourish, walls will break down and love will flow.

doesn’t that sound amazing? but first, let me rewind and tell you how it all went down.

back in december, i saw a post on social media from Nici Holt Cline about a writing retreat that she would be presenting at in Washington state.

Seattle-View-From-Space-Needle

first, i can’t even begin to tell you of my love for Seattle, Washington. Jord and i went there on a vacation – a honeymoon redo, to be exact – in 2011, and it literally was one of the best weeks of my life. the water, the food, the fun, the weather, the shopping, the coffee – it was all just so, so perfect, and i felt so “me” when i was there. Jord and i couldn’t help but dream about living there someday. of course, this was pre-baby, pre-finding jobs we love, and pre-falling in love with our home, but it’s still a dream of ours to have a home (a second home? a place to retire?) in the Pacific Northwest.

now, back to Nici speaking in Washington state. the thought of two of my most favorite things – Nici and all of her awesome-sauce writing AND the Pacific Northwest – combined into one awesome weekend of writing nearly sent me over the edge of comprehension. {full confession: i’ve been reading her blog, dig this chick, for YEARS, y’all, and i’ve had many a dream of meeting her in montana and sharing a cup of cocoa over a campfire.} i was instantly intrigued, but since finances were tight at that moment (it was just a week or so before Christmas!), i chalked it up to one of those experiences that would be life-changing, but unattainable for me, at least right now.

then, i saw a similar post pop up on social media from Kelle Hampton, another one of my writing and mamahood mentors. {full confession: i received her book, bloom, last year for Christmas, and i DEVOURED it in less than two days. it was that good.} and just like that, i shrieked with joy and ran to tell one of my coworkers that two people, two of the people at the top of my “Must-Meet-Them-Someday” list, were going to be at the same place, at the same time, in one of my favorite places on earth.

the third piece of the Doe Bay puzzle is Claire Bidwell Smith, whose blog i found maybe 18 months ago, via a lovely motherhood link-up of yore, and whose writing (and whose ADORABLE daughters, who she posts pictures of often on her instagram!)  i’ve come to adore. {another confession: her book, the rules of inheritance, has been on my bookshelf for all of two months – a Christmas present! – and i cannot. WAIT. to dive in over spring break next month!}

once i saw Claire’s name added to the mix, i knew that this writing retreat couldn’t be something that i missed out on because of timing, or finances, or the fact that i’m a mama to a deliciously-needy-less-than-two-year-old boy.

i knew that i absolutely had to be there.

so i sent Jord a message and the link to the retreat, and i told him to tell me that it was impossible, that i couldn’t go, that we couldn’t swing it financially, that L needs me too much for me to be across the country for an entire weekend.

but he didn’t.

he told me i should go.

he told me that it would be wonderful and fulfilling and challenging and so, so good for me to spend time writing, to spend time away, in one of my most favorite places ever, to invest in myself and in my writing, for the first real time since college. so i took a big, big leap and purchased tickets for the event – a weekend that was just for me.

Sara-Smile

when i posted about this big, big news on my instagram account after i purchased tickets and plane tickets (and after i finally stopped shrieking from excitement and, to be truthful, a bit of anxiety), i said this:

I can’t believe I’m even saying this. In four months, I will be one of 25 writers taking part in a workshop led by three of my writing heroes in my favorite place in the entire world – Seattle (Orcas Island, to be exact). Get ready, Kelle, Nici and Claire – I can’t wait to meet you and tell you all just how much your words have meant to me. Here’s to taking time for yourself, mamas.

and truthfully, that’s what i’m most excited about – taking time for myself, just to be me, to write and bear my soul and share part of myself with others. of course, i’m also fighting bursts of anxiety about actually sharing my writing and about actually being away from little L for the longest time that we’ve ever been apart (I’ve spent a night away from our boy, but never more than that). but i know that in the end, it will be exactly what i need, and it will be wonderful for L and Daddy to have some boy bonding time as well.

here’s to making dreams come true this year, folks – i’m definitely in hot pursuit of mine, and here’s to hoping you are, too.

{second photo by Larissa Lynn Photography}