Category Archive: Travel

Poolside with Livia

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Washington Vacation [set 1]

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Our first leg of the trip involved getting up at 3:00am to catch a 5:00am flight out of Omaha. We bested this start time on our return flight, which left Seattle at 5:00am and had us all waking up at 1:45am. But we successfully did it and no one died. Yay us! One strategy for traveling with good attitudes is to travel with friends. A lot of smiles are shared, even when brushing your teeth dorm-room style before 2:00am.

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Marc and Kerri have the most beautiful views from their home. From the front deck you can see the Puget Sound and, if the skies are clear, the Cascades beyond it. Behind their home is an old golf course path, perfect for walking the dog or taking in some fresh air.

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My soul is deeply refreshed by salt water. Thank you, Jesus.

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It’s not vacation without the proper snacks. Doughnuts are a welcome addition to any excursion.

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Flowers everywhere. The Pacific Northwest does flowers WELL.

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Jen brought a good camera on the trip. I can’t wait to see what she captured. I shot everything with my iPhone this time around.

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We hiked up to Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. It felt like the perfect little hike for our afternoon. After that we walked over to Lake Crescent Lodge and ordered drinks to enjoy on their front porch. The trees, wildlife, cabins, lodge and lakeside views were absolutely incredible. Visiting this part of the world is like pressing a refresh button on my heart.

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The Topeka Zoo

These shots were taken, oh, four months ago. Yes, I am just now getting around to posting them. I present to you: a bunch of Lawtons at the Topeka Zoo. Also, lorikeets.

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California Dreaming on Such a Winter’s Day

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2015 – Jan 29

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San Francisco, January 2015

And Baby Sam at Sunset

It seems strange, in the current cold of Lincoln, Nebraska, to think I was sitting out in the relatively warm sunshine with Charity and her boys a month ago. Strange and wonderful, that is. Though I have often confused the boys’ names, I am paying attention right now and can say with certainty that this is Sam crawling around in the setting sun. Such precious children these boys are! I love them.

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Glimpses from Alcatraz

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All images snapped in January 2014.

In the Room, On the Street

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Thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Getting away, pretty much anywhere, inspires me.
  • I love having to walk to reach my destination.
  • I’d like walking more if I didn’t have stupid joint problems in my feet.
  • Beds with messy sheets appeal to me if the bedding is nice.
  • I know these are mostly wide angle shots, but really and truly that margarita was huge.
  • I did not feel good after drinking half that margarita on an empty stomach.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT. That’s me.
  • Jeremy is my favorite travel buddy ever. I just love him.
  • Watching schoolchildren recite the Pledge of Allegiance on a rooftop playground is charming beyond all words.
  • The end. For now.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

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Whenever we leave Nebraska for California midwinter, an undressing ritual is involved. In a car with heat blasting from the dashboard we shimmy out of our fluffy winter coats and make a dash for the airport in something more suited to mild San Francisco climes. The jaunt from car to shuttle, or car to airport this time, is a heart-racing, frozen-nostril kind of event, but knowing I’m heading towards warmer temps is enough to keep my spirits up. Returning home is another thing entirely. By this time those fluffy winter coats are popsicles in the backseat and the only saving grace about getting into the car is that it buffers us from the freezing plains winds.

The Lincoln airport is a funny little place. Some might call it quaint. Others might think it’s plain ridiculous. But it does the job, right? I’ve found the TSA employees there to be, at times, completely overzealous, but they were very chill this last trip. The other LNK employees are delightful in their helpfulness usually. I’m always surprised when I don’t know *anyone* waiting at the gate with me. Because anytime I go to the mall or Target or the grocery store I see someone I know.

Prepping for a trip is its own kind of exhausting and even though I love to travel I always question why I’m going through so much work to get out of town. But the moment eventually comes where you sidle up to your gate, rewrapping your scarf and perhaps rethreading your belt, and you’ve arrived. No more responsibilities. No more arrangements to make. No more instructions to give. Just you, all your anonymous travel companions, and a flight attendant who will bring you something fizzy in a little cup. Ahhhh… Let’s go.

Visiting Disney

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Jeremy and I have long wanted to take Livia to Disney. Land or World, it didn’t matter much to us. Both of us had been to the parks as children and we wanted to take Livia while she was still young enough to enjoy the magic of the place. But every time I looked into going, I felt overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available to me. Did a Disney vacation really require this much planning? And was it worth the amount of stress I’d feel by pouring over the information?

The long and short of it is, yes, Disney does require advanced planning. But yes, it absolutely is worth the effort.

Our trip didn’t happen by my own efforts; rather, our Disney dreams got kickstarted when our friend Brian was planning to attend a work conference in Anaheim. After delicately stepping into conversations with Brian and Maralee—Would you mind if we went with you? Feel free to say no!—we hitched our wagon to their star and we were off. Plane tickets were first. I wanted for our families to sit next to each other on the plane and have our hotel rooms next door as well because the trip would be more fun that way. A few weeks later we purchased park tickets and negotiated all that meant too. Two day park-hopper passes which allowed us to enter both parks for two days in a row. We planned a third day to relax by hotel pools and maybe visit a nearby beach.

With plane tickets purchased, hotel rooms secured and park tickets arranged, we just had to wait for the vacation to start. Oh and plan the details of the actual trip.

You can jump over to Maralee’s website and read all about her uber-planner personality. About two weeks before the trip I realized that merely talking to Maralee about it was stressing me out. This girl is crazy about details. I’m a J on the Myers-Briggs scale, but only just so. Maralee, well, she’s something special. (I say this in absolute love and will acknowledge shortly how simply being close to such a planner benefited us at Disneyland.)

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In preparation for our trip I wanted to get Livia excited about all things Mickey Mouse. We watched Youtube videos of theme park rides, caught up on Disney movies and watched a behind-the-scenes feature on Netflix. When her jaw dropped at the sight of real-life Tinker Bell, we knew she was engaged. Over time we discussed the things she most wanted to do at Disneyland, and it was a relatively simple request: visit Tinker Bell and see Cinderella’s castle lit up at night. Jeremy and I also decided to remain really flexible once in the parks. Our goal was having a good time as a family, so we wanted to be able to go with the flow and do what felt right at the time. Most importantly, we knew that having a tight agenda and rushing our daughter would only frustrate the three of us.

Enter one plan-loving Maralee Bradley. Maralee, as you can read for yourself, developed a game plan based on the rides her boys wanted to go on and mapped out park routes with help from a cousin who used to work at Disney. This was pure gold, my friends. I’d say my forte is travel plans—I’m all about getting on the right flights at the right times and making arrangements with the front desk at hotels. It was delightful to then back off and let Maralee take the lead on times to get into the parks and where to go once we got there. We basically followed Brian and Maralee like ducklings into Disneyland, and left their sides when something more girlie appealed to Livia. I think we visited Pixie Hollow instead of Toad’s Wild Ride, and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure instead of another Toy Story attraction. The Tredway strategy would not have included getting up at 6:00am to get into the parks at 7:00am, but the Bradley strategy did. And it paid off big time! We got on rides quickly and thoroughly enjoyed our adventurous mornings.

There are countless resources available to Disney travelers, but here are a few tips that helped our trip go smoothly.

  • Travel with friends or family. You will multiply your fun and reduce marital stress by sharing friendship and laughing at the ways your kids push your buttons. You can also share trail mix, lollipops and Skittles this way.
  • Buy Disney shirts and even toys from local stores or internet retailers prior to your travels. Disney is all about being cheesy—matching clothing and Mickey on your shirts is encouraged there. But you can save tons of money by purchasing the clothing in advance.
  • Brings snacks and an empty water bottle with you. Everything in the park is crazy expensive. Yes, you’ll have to spend money once you’re there, but granola bars for breakfast and a refillable water bottle will save you money. Says the woman who paid $3 for a banana. Seriously.
  • Figure out how the parks work. We got in early (during the Extra Magic Hour) because we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and used the Fast Passes when needed. Awesome.
  • Pretend to be a kid again. The magic of Disney wasn’t for Livia only—we all enjoyed it. From the kindness of the park employees and characters to the magical fireworks at night, from the little rides I remember as a child (Snow White and Pinnochio!) to the newer attractions at Disney’s California Adventure (Cars and roller coasters!), the experience was incredible. Jeremy, Livia and I had the time of our lives and made joyful memories we’ll cherish for a lifetime.

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**The first and third images were snapped by Maralee. This last picture makes me laugh so hard. Half of Livia’s Mickey-shaped ice cream treat had just sheared off and, clearly, she is in dismay. I did what any good mother would do; picked it up and handed it to her to eat quickly. What? You wouldn’t do that. Okay, that’s fair. I love this shot and I love that Jeremy is wearing a Livia-given flower tucked behind his ear as well.

**I have perhaps a million Disney photos on my Facebook page for friends to peruse. I’m showing great restraint—or maybe just exhaustion—by posting so few here.