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Wednesday Is My Day To Wonder….


Ah Wednesday….middle of the week…downhill from here….one of my favorite days… day to share the questions that flit through my thoughts.  The thoughts that are becoming more and more jumbled as the days go by. So many things to wonder about. Mostly I wonder if I’m cracking up.  For example: I packed the wall clock in my bedroom this weekend and now my mornings are all messed up because I can’t glance out the bathroom door at the wall and see what time it is.  I get pokey if I can’t see the time.  I was whining about explaining my dilemma to my kids and my oldest daughter said, “Gee Mom. Ever think of looking at your phone?”  I wonder why I didn’t think of that.  I also wonder how I did such a bad job teaching her to say things kindly.  So many things to wonder about.

  1. Do “Fish McBites” sound like something that should be sold at a bait shop to anyone else?
  2. Is it just me or do less and less people have basic social skills? When did it become okay to just blurt whatever comes into your head?
  3. Who is designing the dresses teenagers are wearing?  Is there a material shortage I should be aware of?
  4. A multimillionaire football player took a “salary cut” and suddenly he’s a humble hero?  Really?
  5. While I realize that some women need to apologize for what they wore to the Oscars isn’t it sad that one actress felt she needed to apologize for disappointing people? Really? People were disappointed?  They need a life.
  6. I caught a commercial for a drug to help COPD. One of the side effects was trouble urinating.  Do I want to know those two things are related??
  7. Why is it that things which used to irritate you become funny when you know you are leaving?
  8. Can Puxatony Phil get fired?  We’ve had hardly any snow until the little rodent said spring was coming.  Now…two weeks before we are moving….suddenly it’s snowing every other day? Stupid groundhog.
  9. Ever noticed how some people think the world revolves around them and that others should drop everything when they show up?  (See wondering #2) Ever heard of calling to make an appointment?  Try just showing up at your dentist’s office and see how that works for you.
  10. This is my last Wednesday at work.  How did that happen so fast?



You Might Be Moving If…..



  1. You have recently discovered muscles you weren’t aware you had.
  2. Your heating pad has found a permanent residence on the lumbar region of your recliner.
  3. You find yourself asking “Where the heck did that come from?” more than once….an hour.
  4. Your children ask, “Mom where did you put….” and this time it really is your fault.
  5. You begin thinking in three categories: toss, donate, pack, and suddenly “toss” is your favorite.
  6. You suddenly understand why some people just leave everything in the house when they move.
  7. You discover dirt and belongings you never knew you had.
  8. Episodes of “Hoarders” constantly run through your head.
  9. Your new obsession in life is to find the tape.
  10. You resort to using a putty knife to attack that pesky hard water build-up in your bathtub.
  11. White vinegar is your new friend.
  12. You have to resist the urge to stick a label marked “Storage” on your children’s foreheads.
  13. Your daughters suddenly have a whole “new” supply of bobby pins.
  14. You resolve to be a better housekeeper in the next place….and then laugh.
  15. At any given time you can be found crying or laughing depending on what you are packing.  No need for medication…..I think that’s normal…..



This Week’s Headlines #30


The big news in my area today is, of course, Winter Storm Q. The most over-hyped storm that I can remember.  We woke up this morning to 8″ of snow and a 2 hour late start to school.  With all the press prior to the storm you’d think we’d be buried for at least 3 days.  No wonder this storm only got a letter and not a name.  It’s just normal winter weather. Please people: It’s Nebraska. It snows in the winter. GET A GRIP!

On to the non-snowpocolypse headlines from this week….

  1. “Asteroid May Have Killed Dinosaurs Quicker Than Scientists Thought” – Well how long did they think something could live once it was hit with a flaming space rock traveling at the speed of sound?
  2. “Teen Leaves Jail Then Steals School Bus” – Ironic seeing that he obviously is a slow learner….
  3. “Kate Gosselin To Swap Lives With a Celebrity” – She finally got what she wanted!  Good for you Kate.
  4. “The Reason You Are Always Late” – Two words: Snooze Button.
  5. “Ridiculous NBA All-Star Fashion Statements” – You try finding clothes that size.  Aside from that you can’t slam dunk in just anything.
  6. “Hand Sanitizing Truths” – It’s a great way to find paper cuts you didn’t know you had.
  7. “Sneaky Traps That Lead To Winter Weight Gain” – The “If I move out from under this blanket I will freeze to death” trap?  Maybe the “hot chocolate will warm me up after I ate that ice cream”  trap.
  8. “Most Stolen SUVs” – I’ll bet the car manufacturers are thrilled this list came out.
  9. “Dumb Post Birth Comments” – ‘When are you due?’  ‘When my babies were born…..’  “Enjoy it because they don’t stay little long.’
  10. “You’ve Never Seen A Car Do This Before” – I’m assuming they mean without the help of computer animation because ‘Bumblebee‘ was pretty amazing.
  11. “7 Texts Not To Send Him”  –  #1: ‘So today when I was pulling out….’  #2: ‘You have another screwdriver right?’ #3: “Have you had trouble with the debit?’…..
  12. “Is A Juice Cleanse Right For You?” – Depends on whether or not I want to leave my house.
  13. “Clemens Says He Won’t Lose Sleep Over Hall of Fame Vote” – He better not or he’ll never sleep again.  Of course he’s proven he doesn’t lose sleep over much…..
  14. “New Ways To Use Peanut Butter” – There are just some things I don’t want to know.
  15. “‘Uglier The Better’ 90’s Style Is Back” – Oh good.  That makes life easier.
  16. “Bad Habits That Drive Your Co-Workers Crazy” – Counting down the days until your last day….oh…wait….
  17. “Should The President Get A Raise” – Seriously??  Because the “free everything” hidden perk isn’t enough?
  18. “Rock Star Crashes Local Karaoke Bar” – Talk about taking your work with you everywhere you go.
  19. “Chuck E. Cheese Killer Loses Final Appeal” – There’s a Chuck E. Cheese killer?  Okay….it was bound to happen.  Parents can only take so much.
  20. “Bad Habits That Are Good For You” – Huh?

And more from the world of “Huh?” :


Happy Friday All!!


As I Wonder On A Wednesday


As our countdown clock continues to click down my wondering brain has kicked into high gear.  I wonder why I kept all this stuff.  I wonder why I didn’t notice how dirty that corner was.  I wonder if I’m going to lose my mind.  You know.  Normal things every person contemplates.  In addition to those wonderings, which are my new constant companions, here are a few of the others that have flitted through my brain – or what is left of it – lately.

  1. Why do products work so much better on television?  Is that fake soap scum and lime scale they are cleaning??
  2. Why do I not remember #1 until I’ve already bought the product?  Somewhere in my head I know it….I just keep holding out hope.  Does that make me a sucker?  (Please don’t answer that.) “Optimist”  sounds better.  We’ll go with that.
  3. Why is it that if something looks organized we ignore it?  We have a shelf in our family room with games and puzzles on it.  No one in our house has put together a puzzle for ten years.  Isn’t that kind of like decorating with puzzles – without the Modge Podge??
  4. When a blizzard is headed to the East Coast it gets a fun name like “Nemo.”  We get a big winter storm and they named it “Q”. Q? What creative genius came up with that?  They could think of “Quinten” or “Queenie” or “Quota” or….anything other than “Q”??  Wow.  I feel dissed.
  5. How much do people really think they can accomplish at a stop light? I think we need to pass a law that all cell phone numbers should be displayed on the back of people’s cars so that when the light changes and they are still sitting there writing a novel on their phone we can text “GO!!”  Honking just scares dumb people.
  6. Shouldn’t you have your makeup on before you leave the house?  Honking at that light is kind of fun in a mean sort of way….
  7. Why is it that some people (mostly women) never get out of junior high or high school emotionally? That behavior is marginally tolerable when you are age 13-18.  At age 30-50 it just makes you look ridiculous.
  8. Ever heard the saying, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”?  While I love that saying, the truth is that lack of planning on your part makes my job harder.  Could you stop that?
  9. Why is it that we don’t say nice things to people until they are leaving and then we go overboard saying them?  Really – I’m not that insecure and you are making me uncomfortable.  STOP!
  10. Ever notice when they predict a snow storm the first thing the store runs out of is milk and bread.  Is there some rule that I don’t know about that says you make bread pudding during a blizzard??



This Week’s Headlines #29


What a fun-filled week sorting through the news with so many important things happening out there.  Man hunts, stranded cruise ships, a retiring pope and, most importantly, pictures of a pregnant woman in a bikini.  Does the fact that I could fit all of those things into one sentence scare anyone but me??  While I’m on the subject I should also tell you that the fact that my packing gets interrupted because I have to stop and read things on my “wrapping material” is also a bit disconcerting.  I may never get moved but I keep finding great stuff for my blog.  Life is all about priorities after all….

  1. “Signs You Immune System Isn’t Working” – That annoying cough and fever?
  2. “Signs You Are Overspending” – The negative balance in your account?
  3. “Family Sues Because Disney Character Doesn’t Hug Their Kids” – Wow.  It ain’t easy being Goofy….
  4. “Beware Of This Word On Fast Food Menus” – Supersize
  5. “Farmville Coming To TV” – Are they serious?!?  So help me if my friends can send requests through the television now…..
  6. “How To Prevent Wrinkles” – Don’t age.
  7. “Hot Health Careers, No Med School Required” – I’ve gone to that doctor I think…..
  8. “Pop Quiz: Does Home Insurance Cover This?” – Answer: Probably not unless it was the 29th of February, the moon was full and the wind came from the southeast for exactly 25 seconds.
  9. “Student Sues for $1.3 Million Over C+” – Sues who? Himself?? Here’s a thought – study. It’s free.
  10. “What Would Happen If Asteroid 2012DA14 Hit Earth?” – What would happen if you quit writing articles just to scare people?
  11. “Attorney Offers Free Divorce For Valentine’s Day” – Well that is one way to get in on the action for the day.
  12. “Rogue Amish Leader Given 15 Years In Prison For Hair Cutting Hate Crimes” – Hair cutting hate crimes? You can turn in your hair stylist now??
  13. “Sri Lankan Inmate Stashes Phone In Rectum” – Booty Call?
  14. “Weddings: Bows Are Back” – Oh good! I was hoping mine wasn’t the only generation that had to endure the gigantic butt-bow.
  15. “Antarctica Not Bikini Friendly, Says Upton” – She hasn’t made all that money because of her brain has she?
  16. “Battered Skulls Reveal Violence Among Stone Age Women” – It has never been a good idea to mess with someone else’s kid…
  17. “Sky Diver Faints On Descent” – I would too.
  18. “Painfully Bad Night Of Singing On Idol” – Isn’t that kind of the point?
  19. “Most Romantic Places On Earth To Kiss” – Well I kind of like the neck below the ear, but…..
  20. What Does It Take To Land The SI Swimsuit Cover?” – According to #15 not a lot of brains.  Come to think of it: not a lot of clothes either.

While I’m covering things that make you say “Duh!”:



Poor Man’s Flowers

carnationsSo today is Valentine’s day: a day of romance and love and…well…setting most men up to feel like they are failures. Not romantic enough.  Not thoughtful enough.  Just not…well…enough.  They didn’t get us the right card or chocolate or take us to the best restaurant.  They didn’t spend enough on flowers and gifts. The card wasn’t handwritten. They just didn’t hit the romantic standard we had in mind.  Like the guys in the movies or television or romance novels do. Quit trying to pretend ladies – we’ve all been there.   I was reminded of it last night as I heard my girls discussing Valentine’s day and their friends’ expectations from boyfriends.  Most of us grow out of that eventually but I know some women who haven’t.  I find that kind of sad.  If you’ve followed me long enough you already know that I firmly believe that if I don’t show my family that I love them and they are special to me on more than just a select few days a year (Valentine’s, Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc.) then I am sadly missing the mark anyway.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t get our kids something for Valentine’s day or their birthdays or any other special occasion.  We do. We just aren’t extravagant for them or for each other.  I don’t need those things to know I’m loved and I have hopefully passed that security on to my children.  It isn’t about the gift.  It’s about the giver.

Not long ago I was sitting in a meeting where there was discussion about handing out flowers.  Someone made the statement, “We’ll be giving out roses – not carnations, the poor man’s flower. ” (or something to that effect.)  My eyebrows shot up.  “I LOVE carnations.”  I said.   “They are cheap.”  was the reply.   That statement bothered me on several levels.  It not only exemplifies the attitude I was just discussing but it reminded me of the time I had to grow up and begin to learn what true love is about.  It reminds me of how ugly my attitude and expectations used to be.   And it all happened on a Valentine’s Day long ago.

My husband and I had been married a little over a year and our son was still a baby. We didn’t have any extra money.  None.  In fact we barely had enough money to feed ourselves.   It was obvious to both of us that there was not going to be any kind of special celebration or gifts for Valentine’s Day that year.  I’d like to say that I was mature about that but at that point in my life I just wasn’t.  I was disappointed that I was going to be gypped out of a romantic day filled with flowers and gifts.   I did force myself not whine or complain too much to my young husband but he knew how I felt.  I’m not sure how he could have missed it really.  Pity parties are pretty hard to miss. My poor husband, married too young and doing the best he could at that point felt like a failure because he couldn’t go out and buy roses and chocolates and take me to dinner.  He wasn’t a failure.  His wife was just a spoiled selfish little girl.  On February 14th that year I baked a chocolate cake and decorated it with heart sprinkles (all the ingredients donated to me by my mother by the way) and felt some sort of martyr-ish satisfaction knowing I had a least done something for him for Valentine’s day while I knew he would have nothing for me. (How many times have we played THAT game girls??)  Much to my surprise he walked through the door that evening with two carnations: one red and one white.  He had scrounged through our vehicles, couch cushions and everywhere else he could think of to come up with the change to buy them because he didn’t want me to have nothing that day.  He knew it was important to me so he did everything he could to make sure I got something.  He loved me.  Amazingly – he still does.  From that day to this: carnations are my favorite flower.

Just a few weeks ago  I arrived home from work right before my husband had to leave for his four-day (ok – overnight) work week out-of-town.  I found a simple vase with two carnations, one white and one red, sitting on our headboard.  “What is this?” I asked him.  “Nothing really. Just a little something to let you know I love you and I’ll miss you.”   He does things like that for me all the time.  Nothing extravagant but just a “little something” to tell me he loves me.   Those “poor man’s flowers” bought simply “because” are worth more to me than all the roses in the world.  I guess I learned my lesson all those years ago: any gift given out of love is precious no matter how expensive (or inexpensive) it is.  So tonight while people are out wining and dining and celebrating romance I am going to look at my $10 bouquet of flowers that my sweet man brought me yesterday.  He picked them up at the grocery store while he did the grocery shopping for me.  Now that, my friends, is true love!



Wonderful Wondering Wednesday


Ahhh….midweek.  My day to share with all of you some of the odd things that have made me wonder this week.  I warn you now that there have been a lot of odd ones lately.  The more I have to do the more my mind wanders – and therefore “wonders” – around.  Usually about the time I am trying to go to sleep.  I wonder why that is…..

  1. I saw a flock of geese flying East yesterday.  What in the world does that mean?  Are they lost?  Confused?  Did they listen to the groundhog, fly north early and are now flying in circles to find a warm spot?
  2. Is there some law I missed that says all the other driving laws do not apply once you enter a school zone?  Maybe I just assumed letting people out of your car in the middle of the street while blocking traffic was illegal.
  3. Is it just me or does sleep deprivation make the stupidest things seem a whole lot funnier?
  4. Do the women on “Dance Moms” really dress like that all the time?  If I had to spend hours watching my daughter at practice I’d be wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt not a short skirt and silk shirt – just sayin’.
  5. Yesterday several people posted on Facebook they were giving up the social media site for Lent.  Why is it the people I wish would give it up for a while aren’t the ones who are?
  6. While I’m in that subject area….Is there really any reason to blanket your Facebook wall with political or opinion posts other than the fact that you feel like fighting with people?  Then you get indignant when people don’t agree?  Really? We get it. You do or don’t like fill-in-the-blank.  We got it 50 posts ago.  Stop already.  Or get a life.
  7. Why are so many people upset about the Pope retiring? I realize it is unusual but is there an unwritten law somewhere that he and the Queen of England are the only people on the planet not allowed to quit?
  8. Why is it that the people who think they have all the answers are always people to whom I wouldn’t ask a question?  Ever. Why doesn’t that fact stop them for telling me what they think anyway?
  9. Why is it I can forget to do something all day and be blissfully unaware but the moment my head hits the pillow I remember I forgot it?
  10. We got a shipment of envelopes last week.  There was one full box and this:


Could they not find a smaller box?  I wonder how much extra we paid for shipping.

Happy Wondering Wednesday Friends! As always please feel free to share those things you just don’t quite understand.  It’ll make me feel less odd…..



This Is Why We Pray

prayerAfter logging a bunch of miles on the road last week I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am that this week the farthest trip I have to take is to work which is about 5 miles from home.  I’m pretty sure after arriving home Sunday evening that if I had to go any further than that my lower half would go on strike. Permanently.  I love my vehicle but I’m tired of it right now. For those who didn’t catch my tales of the road you can read about our longer trip last week here.  I also mentioned that after returning home from that trip we turned around a day and a half later to go and begin doing things to prepare our “new” house for our arrival while my husband worked the weekend. While my husband, I and our youngest two children were there our oldest daughter traveled with some other students from her high school to an honor choir in a different part of the state.  It is that trip which has made me stop and ponder some things the last few days. Our family has the practice of praying together before anyone takes off on a trip.  We take a moment to ask God for a safe journey when we are all together in the car before starting off. My husband and I pray with any child who is leaving with a group on an outing.  I pray with my husband before he leaves for work each week.  It is just something we do.  Like so many other things I thought less and less about why we were doing it and just did it out of habit until something happened this weekend that gave me pause and reminded me that all too often I take things for granted.  I think every once in a while we need a reminder.  I got mine.

Saturday night while sorting and boxing things up at the house into which we are moving I received a text from our daughter that they were headed home from the honor choir.  I texted back to have a fun trip and paused a moment to ask God to keep them safe on the way home.  If I’d have known what was going to unfold I probably would have done more than pause a moment.  I’d have hit my knees. About an hour after her text arrived my phone rang, the ringtone indicating it was our daughter calling.  The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “Hey you! What’s up?”

B: “Hi Mom. I’m just calling to let you know we are stopped on the highway right now. I didn’t want you to worry when I wasn’t home by the time you thought I should be.”

Me: “Stopped on the highway? Is everything okay?” (I was thinking flat tire at this point.)

B: “We’re fine. A car just crossed the line and sideswiped the van but everyone is okay. We’re waiting for the other van to get here and pick us up.  She isn’t too far behind us.” (For those of you who have never had a conversation with a teenage girl this would be a good place to inform you that they talk FAST when explaining things to you.)

Me: “Sideswiped?! Are you sure everything is okay.”

B: “We’re all fine. The driver’s window got knocked out but no one got hurt. We just can’t drive without a window.  Mrs. Bender is coming. My phone battery is dying so I can’t explain it all now.  Don’t worry. I’ll call when I get home.”

I did manage to refrain from asking too many questions such as “Why do you always have enough battery to tweet but never enough to talk” and let her off the phone.  After disconnecting the call I texted her father who was working and passed on what little information I had to him.  I really should have known better than that. He immediately was prepared to take emergency time off from work to go and pick up his little girl.  (That’s one of the many things I love about him.  He is a GREAT daddy.)  It took me a little to convince him that they had things under control there and that there was no possible way for him to arrive there before the other van arrived.  We had to trust the teachers who were with them had it under control.   Again I stopped and, along with my mom and younger daughter, prayed for the kids safety for the rest of the trip and thanked God for keeping them safe that far.  It sounded like a pretty minor incident from the things our daughter had said and the sound of her voice.  That’s what I thought anyway until she arrived home, called me, and filled in some details.

It seems a drunk driver crossed the center line of the two lane highway they were travelling. The choir director who was driving his students got over as far as he could without running them into the ditch and tipping their 15 passenger van but the oncoming car still clipped the driver’s side mirror sending it crashing through the driver’s window.  Guess whose child had been sleeping in the seat right behind the driver. Mine.  She opened her eyes at the sound of the glass shattering and blowing everywhere: mostly on her and the choir director. Part of the mirror clipped her forehead and she had glass fragments everywhere but she assured me she was okay and not bleeding.   No cuts just a couple scratches.  Oh – and she’d bumped her head. Again.  She hadn’t said anything to anyone because she didn’t think there was any big deal.  No.  She didn’t think she needed to see a doctor. Yes.  She was going to take a shower and make sure she had all the glass out of everything.  After talking to her a while I was able to settle my racing mother’s heart down and assured by her that she was in fact fine I let her off of the phone.  Good thing because her daddy called her right after we hung up.  He too wanted more details. After he talked with her he sent me a text:

Do you realize what could have happened?  That wasn’t sideswiped – it was almost a head-on!

Yes I had already realized that and I was already crying and thanking the Lord for protecting our daughter and all of the other people on that van.  Thanking Him for preventing the oncoming truck from crossing any farther into the van’s path.  Thanking Him that all that was hit was a mirror.  Thanking Him that the van didn’t tip.  Thanking Him that our daughter’s eyes had been closed so the glass didn’t hit them.  Thanking Him for the choir director who did such an excellent job protecting his students as best he could by keeping his cool.  Just thanking Him.  Then it occurred to me that our “habit” before trips was probably more important than I had let it become.  I wondered how many other close calls had happened that I never even knew about. How many times had we been kept safe while traveling from things I didn’t even see coming? How grateful I am to God that in all the trips we’ve taken this is the worst accident any of us has ever suffered.  We are blessed beyond words and I hadn’t even taken the time to think about it or thank Him before Saturday night’s reminder. The thought running through my head that evening over and over was: “This is why we pray….”  I’m just so thankful He answers whether my head is fully in the game or not…..So Thankful!

This is what a “few scratches” from flying glass looks like…..but she’s still smiling…..



This Week’s Headlines #28


After our fun-filled adventure to north western Nebraska, my husband and I re-packed and loaded up my faithful Ford Escape to journey southeast yesterday.  I am blogging today from the little house on Grandpa’s farm which will be our temporary new home in less than a month. Let the cleaning, organizing and the like begin!  After I rest from being on the road so much. Despite logging lots of miles in our vehicles this week I was still able to find some gems to share.  That might have something to do with the fact that there is little else to do while trapped in a car than play on your smart phone.  Here are a few that caught my well-traveled eye:

  1. “Man Lives With Wolves” – Didn’t Kipling already write this?  And then Disney made it into a movie?
  2. “Funeral Procession Takes Fast Food Detour” – I guess the cemetery was far away?  Saved the church ladies some work anyway.
  3. “Where Not Do Die In 2012” – I’d prefer “anywhere”.
  4. “Valuable Whale Vomit” – Valuable to whom?  And how does anyone know it came from a whale?  Wait….I don’t want to know.
  5. “Cheetos Lead To Robber”  – You’d think you’d know to lick that orange stuff off of your fingers.
  6. “House Boasts Very Strange Baby Trend” – Is that supposed to be a selling point?
  7. “The Big Fear Of Automakers” – We’ll figure out that we really don’t need our cars to make phone calls for us?
  8. “Are You Running The Wrong Way” – Most of the time.  Thanks for asking.
  9. “Scare As Pilot Passes Out During Flight” – yeah…that’d do it.
  10. “Castle Homes Available To Buy” – For those who honestly think they are royalty.  Wonder if they come with ladies in waiting?
  11. “Woman Goes On Test Drive, Robs Bank” – So she could buy the car?
  12. “Underground Dentist Takes Defiant Stance” – I’d rather he take classes at the dental school.
  13. “Identity Theft And Your Child” – You mean if someone steals my identity they have to take my kids?  Hmmm….
  14. “Oldest Crabs Found” – Now that isn’t even nice.  We’ll see how happy you people are when you get older.
  15. “Giggling Woman Flips Judge The Bird, Judge Not Amused” – I’d guess not.  How do I just know she was in there on drug charges?
  16. “How People Are Judging You” – Unfairly most of the time.
  17. “Three Tips To Beat Rising Gas Prices” – #1 Walk….#2 Buy a Bike….
  18. “Report: Mom Steals Son’s Letter Of Intent” – Now they are going to notice that she’s too old to play college football.
  19. “Who Gets The Armrests On A Crowded Plane” – The one with the biggest arms?
  20. “Vodka Monument Toppled” – Sounds like someone’s party got out of hand.

Speaking of things getting out of hand: this is one tough church…..

Happy Friday Everyone!!


Tales Of Traveling 20

As I mentioned yesterday Monday and Tuesday of our week were spent taking our daughter to visit the college she is going to attend in the fall.  It’s the same college her older brother attends so we’ve made this trip before.  Every time we do I remember why I prefer it when he comes home rather than me going to see him.  You see, in order to make this trip you have to cross almost all of Nebraska on Highway 20.  Here is a little map I doctored just to give you a visual.


While that may not look like a great amount of distance on a map, I can assure you that in real life it is a really long way.  This is particularly true when this is what you are looking at for the lion’s share of the trip:

Excuse the photo quality - I was using my phone....while going 65 mph.

Excuse the photo quality – I was using my phone….while going 65 mph.

At least this is what we looked at once the sun came up.  We started our trip at 6:00 am in order to arrive at the college in time for her appointments and tour.  Six o’clock the morning after a black-out delayed Super Bowl.  Needless to say the local Scooters was our first stop.  Clutching our life-giving caffeine-infused drinks we headed out in the dark.  All was quiet for the first half hour or so until my husband who was sticking to his new diet threw his banana peel out the window.  My head snapped toward him, “I can’t believe you just littered.”  He gave me a side-long glance, “It’s bio degradable. It isn’t littering.”  My coffee was starting to kick in so I wasn’t going to just let this go. “What if some car skids on that peel?  Won’t you feel terrible that you caused an accident?”  (Never mind that we’d only seen about 4 other cars thus far.)  He smirked, “A car skidding on a banana peel? More likely some coon is going to have a nice breakfast now.”  At this point I think he began to figure out that he was in for a very long trip indeed. “Okay so some coon is going to be standing out in the middle of the road and cause an accident. Don’t you feel bad???”  Because he has been married to me long enough to know he wasn’t going to win nor was I going to quit, he simply chuckled and shook his head.

About the time the sun was rising we approached a lovely little town named “O’Neill.”  It is Nebraska’s Irish capital. (Not to be confused with our Danish capital, Swedish capital or Finnish Capital.  No. I’m not kidding.)  This is what the center of O’Neill looks like all year round:


Yes. That is green cement. Festive bunch of Irishmen aren’t they?  The second shot of espresso kicked in about the time we entered this green utopia so I was feeling a bit wired as we pulled into the gas station there for a pit stop.  Upon entering the bathroom my daughter and I discovered this:

flushApparently Jedi mind powers don’t work in the Irish Capital of Nebraska.    As you can imagine this set both my daughter and myself into a fit of caffeine-induced, this-trip-is-too-long laughing.  As we snickered our way out of the store my husband followed behind mumbling something about us getting banned from every town in Nebraska before we were done.  Every town?  He’s so dramatic.  I promised to be good as we pulled away and intended to keep that promise until I spied an insurance agency out my window.  A bright yellow building with a red roof the sign proclaimed, “Waldo Insurance”.  “FOUND HIM!” I yelled.  “No wonder no one knows where he’s at. He’s been in O’Neill all this time!”  I wanted to snap a picture but my husband wouldn’t slow down, assuring me that I could get one on our way back through the next day.  I think somewhere in his mind he was well aware that it would be dark the next time we went through town so I couldn’t but that didn’t occur to me at the time.  I can’t say I blame him for not slowing down.  When one is traveling Highway 20 in Nebraska the quicker you make the trip the better off you are.  Besides if he’d have let me take that one he would have had to slow down for all the signs that caught me eye. There were a lot.

I noticed a name trend in many small towns: “Eastside Mart”, “Westside Restaurant”, “Southside Gas”….we Nebraskans are very directional.  Of course I shared a loud my thought that we should open a gas station on the north-west side of town and call it “Southeast Service” or something like that but my daughter pointed out no one would ever be able to find it.  She’s so logical.  Among some of my other favorite signs was the one for bull accident insurance.  I have no idea so don’t ask.  I’ll just let you ponder that as I have for days now.  I also enjoyed the sign at the edge of town proclaiming: “Welcome To Cody: The Town To Tough To Die”.  That makes you want to pull in and visit doesn’t it?  On another pit stop along the way my daughter and I noticed this sign on the local grocery store  (Again forgive the phone picture, but if you look close at the top of that building it says, “Hi Neighbor!”  I’m not sure if that is friendly or creepy. ):

Gordon, Nebraska

I suppose it’s friendly in a big brother kind of way.  Small towns in Nebraska are like that.  Tough in that they aren’t too thrilled with “outsiders” moving in but friendly enough if you are passing through.  They are also friendly with each other.  Probably because they are all related somehow.  Take one town on Highway 20: Nenzel, Nebraska.  It’s population is 20.  Seriously.  I’m going to risk a guess that the town’s name also happens to be everyone’s last name also. Just a guess mind you.

In between those small towns is farmland in the east – ranch land once you cross into the Sandhills of Nebraska.  That sounds grand doesn’t it? “Sandhills”.  Can I just share once you’ve seen one mile of the Sandhills you’ve seen all of the Sandhills.  Ever been to “The Badlands” in South Dakota?  Same concept.  I’m not even sure where you cross into the “Sandhills” for sure but you know you’ve arrived when the land gets….well….sandy.  And the ranches get bigger.  And the towns are farther apart.  And you don’t see people trees or electrical lines for miles. Just sand, cows and a random tree here and there.  And the occasional ranch entrance.  My favorite was named “13 Bar Ranch”.  A loud my daughter and I wondered if that meant it was the local “watering hole” or if it was the only place in the area with cell service. (We sure weren’t getting any at that point.)  Either way we were dying to visit. My husband denied our request to turn in and find out.  In his defense it could have been 20 miles in to the ranch house from the road.  Still…..

Because of the lack of cell service and…well….other life forms, I became very thankful for our satellite radio. Way more thankful than our daughter was when I found “80’s On 8.”  My husband was impressed with my quick answers to all the 80’s trivia questions they asked between playing some of the best music from the best era ever.  My daughter wasn’t impressed with any of it really.  To distract me from my potential five-hour karaoke performance she suggested we play a road trip game.  Since we were driving across Northern Nebraska the license plate game was out.  So was “sunshine.” This may have something to do with the fact that you see perhaps 5 cars an hour.  The odds of those being yellow?  I didn’t mind that really because I don’t like getting smacked when my kids see yellow cars.  My daughter decided instead that we should play “windmill”. I agreed on the condition that there would be no smacking involved.  Someone would have gotten arrested for abuse because you see every few miles there is something like this in the area:


Some are close to the highway and some are far away.  All have the same purpose – pumping water for the cattle. That kept us amused for a while.  Eventually our daughter fell asleep.  Upon waking I informed her that we’d passed a windmill factory and I was now up by 500.  “AW man! Figures!” responded my competitive daughter. My husband’s eyebrow shot up, “How did I miss that?” he asked.  I’ve never been able to lie, “You didn’t. I totally made that up just to see what she’d say.”  This is why I don’t play poker.  This is also the point my daughter started throwing gummy bears at me.  I, in turn, tossed Twizzlers at her head.  My poor patient husband kicked up the cruise control every so slightly.  Car trip craze had set in.  Before a full on food fight could set in our destination came into view.

Chadron State College

Chadron State College

What a relief to get out of the car.  What a joy to see our oldest son.  What a fun time we had together that evening: swimming, eating, hanging out.

And then we got back into the car and made the trip home…..