Celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary with a traditional gift

Celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary with a traditional gift

Earlier this week, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Yes, seven years ago, we were up before the sun getting ready for our 10:30 a.m. wedding ceremony at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

We had a mid-morning wedding at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Aaron Babcock)

We had a mid-morning wedding at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Aaron Babcock)

We wanted a short engagement (about two months), and  there weren’t many venues available for late afternoon or evening events with such short notice. Fortunately, we’re both morning people and liked the idea of a mid-morning ceremony followed by a champagne brunch (with bacon) on the last Saturday before the Husker football season began.

Smiling all the way down the aisle! Photo by Aaron Babcock

Smiling all the way down the aisle! Photo by Aaron Babcock

It all worked out and we had a beautiful day, surrounded by family and friends.

What a joy to come out of the church and celebrate our marriage with so many family and friends.

What a joy to come out of the church and celebrate our marriage with so many family and friends.

Since then, instead of buying gifts for each other, we’ve found something each year for our anniversary that fits the traditional anniversary gift suggestions. You know the ones: paper, tin, china, silver, gold, pearls. We try to keep the cost under $100 and just to add a twist of our own, decided we’d look for something related to our love for travel.

Most years, we’ve been able to stay within our budget, the traditions, and the travel theme. You can read all about the gifts we purchased the first six years HERE. The traditional wedding anniversary gift for the seventh year is copper or wool. This was actually a pretty easy one for us. As you may know, we recently purchased a house in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, in the heart of Osage County.

Outside our new house in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Outside our new house in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

One of our favorite stores in Pawhuska, Clifton’s, sells the most incredible Pendleton blankets. We knew right away that one of these wool blankets was the perfect anniversary gift and addition to our new home. Jaime at Clifton’s helped us select and order this San Miguel blanket. It cost a more than our usual $100, but we figured we’d been well below budget several of the previous years and this was worth the extra expense.

We ordered Pendleton's San Miguel blanket for our 7th anniversary.

We ordered Pendleton’s San Miguel blanket for our 7th anniversary.

We spent our anniversary together and enjoyed cooking a nice dinner at home and uncorking one of our favorite bottles of wine. The blanket will be here in a few weeks and will forever be a wonderful reminder of our seventh anniversary and our first year in Pawhuska.


How do you celebrate anniversaries? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

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Happy 50th anniversary, Mom and Dad

Happy 50th anniversary, Mom and Dad

Fifty years ago today, something pretty special happened — my mom and dad got married.

I feel pretty lucky to have had them both as my parents and we are so excited for them to celebrate 50 years together. Over the years they have been a great example of what it means to be dedicated to family. To this day, they are there for us if we need them, and we know we are blessed because of that.

Mom and Dad have always liked travel; they spent their honeymoon in Estes Park, Colo.

John and Gayle on a vacation to Colorado.

John and Gayle on a vacation to Colorado.

Twenty years later they returned to Estes, only that time with 14-year-old me in tow. I had a great time on that trip, my first time seeing mountains. We didn’t travel far every year. Some years, we only went as far as Minnesota or South Dakota to see grandparents, but I always knew my parents enjoyed exploring new places.

Over time, they’ve taken vacations to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Ecuador. They have visited many countries in Europe, and have been to Alaska. In fact, they just got back from a trip through the St. Lawrence Seaway and along the northeast coast of the United States to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Recently, they surprised us when they told us of some exciting plans they have to travel through the Panama Canal this winter.

We’ve loved traveling with my parents over the six years since we’ve been married to places like Las Vegas, Mason City, Iowa, and Key West. This summer, we had a great time exploring the Nebraska Sandhills as we took a road trip together around our home state.

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve's mom and dad, including stops at Smith Falls near Valentine.

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve’s mom and dad, including stops at Smith Falls near Valentine.

I think much of my love for travel came from my mom and dad. They always made sure that we had opportunities to learn about the world. They worked closely with a foreign exchange program for high school students, hosting several students in our home and working with even more across the midwest region. Each student brought something into our lives that we wouldn’t have had. Each one of those experiences opened an enormous world to me yet made it feel a bit smaller at the same time.

John and Gayle a charity fundraiser in the Florida Keys earlier this year.

John and Gayle at the Sweetheart Ball in 2017

As they celebrate 50 years together today, Ann and I just wanted to say congratulations, Mom and Dad. We couldn’t be happier for you, and we look forward to seeing where life’s adventures take you next.

Traditional anniversary gifts for couples who love to travel

Traditional anniversary gifts for couples who love to travel

Six years ago today, after one year of dating and a two-month engagement, Steve and I were married in a beautiful wedding ceremony at 10:30 in the morning at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Photo by Aaron Babcock

Yes, 10:30 a.m. is a non-traditional time for a wedding, but that’s what you get when you book the church just eight weeks out. Fortunately, we’re both morning people anyway and Steve was happy to have a brunch wedding reception where he got to eat bacon on his wedding day.

A year later, when we had our first wedding anniversary in 2012, we had no idea what to get each other. Having gotten married when we were ages 38 and 42, we had accumulated almost everything we really needed or wanted before we said, “I do.” So, we decided to commemorate the occasion with a photo each year and instead of trying to figure out gifts for each other, we’d purchase something together for our home.

On our first anniversary, we took a photo of us holding our wedding picture. Each year, we add a new picture in the picture, in the picture …

Then, in another nod to traditionalism (after all, we had organ music at our ceremony and we didn’t live together until the day after our wedding) we decided we’d try to find something each year that fit the traditional anniversary gift suggestions. You know the ones: paper, tin, china, silver, gold, pearls. We’d keep the cost to under $100 and just to add a twist of our own, decided we’d look for something related to our love for travel.

We are celebrating our 6th anniversary this year, and so far, we’ve been able to stay within our budget (mostly), the traditions, and the travel theme. Who knows how long we’ll be able to keep it up, but at least for now, we’ve added some unique pieces to our home, and created lasting memories of our travels. Here’s a look at the gifts we’ve given ourselves to celebrate our first six years of marriage.

Sixth Anniversary: Iron

Our sixth year of marriage took us lots of new directions. But the important thing is, we went in those new directions together. We focused more on our blog, we traveled to new places like St. Kitts in the Caribbean and Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and we got more involved in our church and local community. And, as you may recall, after 21 years in public education, Steve resigned his position this spring and we’re still trying to figure out just exactly where to go from here. Needless to say, this iron compass wall art seemed like an appropriate anniversary gift this year, as we aren’t sure which direction we’ll go next.

For our sixth anniversary, we ordered this gold compass wall art that we plan to hang in our home office. It is sold by a family-owned Etsy business called AlacartCreations.

We found this metal compass on Etsy in a shop called AlacartCreations. It sells for $79, so it was under our budget. Ironically, we don’t have it in hand just yet because when we ordered it the seller was on  vacation, which we totally understand. We’ll look forward to getting in when she returns and when we do, it and will be a lasting reminder of the new direction our lives took in our sixth year together.

Fifth Anniversary: Wood

There were lots of options for gifts made out of wood for our fifth anniversary. We considered some type of wooden picture frame or custom wooden sign but both seemed a bit ordinary and meaningless. Then, a few days before our anniversary, while browsing at a local shop called Home & Closet (a must see if you’re anywhere near Lincoln, Neb.), we spotted this small, wooden box, and we knew it was meant to be.

We found this adorable wooden box for $25 at Home & Closet in Lincoln, Neb. It holds lots of travel memorabilia from our first five years of marriage and will look great in the home office we are redecorating.

It would fit perfectly in the home office we were in the middle remodeling and it was just the right size for storing some of the memorabilia we’ve collected from our travels these first five years. We snatched it up for $25 (or least expensive anniversary gift yet) and filled it with ticket stubs, photographs, hotel keys, and of course, a few postcards.

We save some of the memorabilia from our travels such as ticket stubs, photo booth photos, and postcards.

We save some of the memorabilia from our travels such as ticket stubs, photo booth photos, and postcards.

Fourth Anniversary: Flowers

The fourth anniversary was probably the most difficult one to figure out. The traditional gift is flowers and we had a difficult time thinking of something to purchase that wasn’t going to die in a week to 10 days. Then, Steve had a great idea! “Let’s travel to the Rose Bowl this year!”

Well, that was bit over our budgeted $100 limit, so we scratched that idea. Pinterest and Etsy were dead ends too, so I came up with something on my own. I have always enjoyed photographing flowers when we travel, so I went back through my photographs and selected 16 pictures I’d taken of flowers on our travels together — like this one below.

We ran across the most amazing flower garden before leaving Anchorage, Alaska.

We ran across the most amazing flower garden before leaving Anchorage, Alaska.

I arranged them in a 4×4 grid (since it was our 4th anniversary) and for about $60, purchased a framed print of the flower photos from www.socialprintstudio.com (formerly Printstagram) that arrived just in time for our anniversary. It turned out great!

It’s so fun to look back at flowers from some of our favorite places, including Costa Rica; Marathon, Fla.; Monaco; Muir Woods; Monticello; the Nebraska Sandhills; Sonoma Valley; and Las Vegas.

It includes photographs of wildflowers we spotted along on the highway in the Nebraska Sandhills; the wisteria we saw while on a wine tasting trip to Sonoma; gorgeous flowers we found in Anchorage, Alaska; and even the flowers from a bouquet at our wedding. They all bring back wonderful memories of the places we went during our first four years of marriage and the picture was a great addition to a gallery wall/shelf in our dining room this summer.

Our fourth anniversary gift fits in great with this gallery wall/shelf in our dining room.

Our fourth anniversary gift fits in great with this gallery wall/shelf in our dining room.

 Third Anniversary: Leather

This one was a little tricky, so I just Googled “travel related leather anniversary gifts.” I got quite the array of suggestions but wasn’t really impressed with leather passports covers or luggage tags I saw online. Then I ran across a shop on Etsy called Killogrin Creations, that makes a subway scroll on leather with your life’s journey for about $70. It was perfect!

leather sign

Steve and I narrowed a list of places we’d traveled in our first three years of marriage to nine and sent it to the online store. In a couple weeks, we had a unique, customized piece made of leather and the perfect gift for travelers like us.

We included a variety of cities to which we’d traveled. They weren’t all necessarily our favorites, but they were the places that best summarized out first three years together — our honeymoon to La Fortuna, Costa Rica; our first family vacation to Ketchikan, Alaska; three Sine Die Adventure cities (Chicago, Nashville, and San Diego);  Branson, Missouri, near where our daughter went to college; destinations from our first trip to Europe together (Monaco and Salzburg); and of course, Rochester, Minnesota, where we traveled the most for my appointments at the Mayo Clinic there.

Second Anniversary: Cotton

For our second anniversary, I found these great hand painted, continent pillow covers on uncommongoods.com. They fit perfectly in our downstairs living room that has a bit of a travel theme going on already.

I purchased this set of three continent pillows from uncommongoods.com for about $95.

I purchased this set of three continent pillows from uncommongoods.com for about $95.

According to the website, the pillows cases are made of 100% cotton and the decoration is applied using Batik, a traditional Indian art to create patterns on fabric. The company that makes them helps the greater good by providing fair wages and development opportunities for artisans in South West India. I think they look fantastic on the sofa in our family room year round.

This set of three cotton continent pillows was a perfect addition to our travel-themed family room.

 First Anniversary: Paper

The first anniversary was pretty easy. Paper maps seemed like the most logical travel-related gift and we had already thought about purchasing maps to document our travels.

We display our world map in our family room and add numbered pins to the new places we travel to each year.

We display our world map in our family room and add numbered pins to the new places we travel to each year.

 

We had gotten the idea from Steve’s grandparents, Bud and Kathleen Teget, who had displayed a large world map in their den, marking the 70-plus countries to which they’d traveled together.  We loved the idea, so for our first anniversary, we purchased a world map and a U.S. map at a local office supply store. We took both to a local framer who laminated the maps, mounted them on foam core, and framed them in wood frames for about $100 each (I know, double the budget on the first year).

Our U.S. map hangs above our piano and marks all the places we’ve traveled together.

On our first anniversary, we hung the maps on the walls in our basement and stuck a #1 pin in the first place we traveled as newlyweds: Costa Rica. We just love the maps and can’t wait to add pins to them each time we return from a trip. I found the number pins HERE on Amazon.

We've been adding numbered pins to our map each time we travel abroad.

We’ve been adding numbered pins to our map each time we travel abroad.

Anniversaries are special for us and we love celebrating them. We both waited a long time before we found one another and our traditional anniversary gifts are wonderful reminders of just how blessed we are to be on this journey together.


Next year for our 7th anniversary, the traditional gift is copper. Any suggestions? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

As always, thanks for sharing and Pinning!

Traditional wedding anniversary gifts for couples who love to travel

Traditional wedding anniversary gifts for couples who love to travel

 

 

Our Journey of a Lifetime

Our Journey of a Lifetime

It has been said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Five years ago today, Ann and I took our first step together as we walked down the aisle at Westminster Presbyterian Church as a husband and wife. Since that day, we’ve been on an amazing life journey. As we celebrate our fifth anniversary today, we thought we’d share some of our most memorable experiences. As we look back, we are thankful for the opportunities we’ve had, and are even more grateful that we could experience these things together.

Honeymooning in Costa Rica

Great weddings require a lot of planning. I was happy to be involved in planning our wedding. I told Ann from the start that I trusted her judgment—I just wanted to work on the honeymoon. I cooked up a wonderful week in Costa Rica with what Ann called the perfect mix of relaxation and activity.

Tabacon Hot Springs Resort and Spa is, by far, one of the most romantic, relaxing places on earth.

Tabacon Hot Springs Resort and Spa is, by far, one of the most romantic, relaxing places on earth.

We basked in a volcanically heated river on the side of Arenal Volcano, took a zip-line adventure 400 feet above the treetops, and enjoyed what is probably the most romantic dinner of our lives—in a private gazebo in the rainforest served by our own chef and waiter.

What an exciting way to start a marriage -- zip lining 400 feet above the tree tops in Costa Rica.

What an exciting way to start a marriage — zip lining 400 feet above the tree tops in Costa Rica.

We loved exploring the rain forest and seeing the incredible plant life in Costa Rica.

We loved exploring the rain forest and seeing the incredible plant life in Costa Rica.

We loved the Costa Rican coffee and gallo pinto in the morning. We enjoyed the smells of the flowers and the views from the mountains. We cherished our time on the beach and the opportunity to dip our feet in the ocean. And most importantly, we fell even more in love with each other there. Pura vida at it’s best.

Treatments at the Mayo Clinic

Anyone who has been married will tell you that everything doesn’t always go just as you planned, and there really will be a time to remember your vow to be there for each other through sickness and health. Over the past few years we have made more trips to Rochester, Minnesota, than anywhere else.

One of the world's best medical treatment facilities - Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

One of the world’s best medical treatment facilities – Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Two and a half years ago, Ann was diagnosed with a rare immune disease called cardiac sarcoidosis and has had surgeries and treatments at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic there. 

Recovering from thoracic surgery at Mayo Clinic's St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.

Recovering from thoracic surgery at Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.

While these trips are no vacations for either of us, they have brought us closer together and have helped us treasure every day we have together. The Mayo Clinic is a place full of answers, help and hope and we are always grateful for the opportunity to go there.  In the end, our time spent in Rochester has been a big part of our first five years and even though it doesn’t always bring back the happiest of memories, it is a part of our journey.

Taking pictures in Alaska

In 2013, we took our first cruise and went on a family vacation to Alaska. 

A beautiful reflection shot, taken from a moving train en route to Anchorage, Alaska.

A beautiful reflection shot, taken from a moving train en route to Anchorage, Alaska.

Here’s the thing about Alaska: it is stunningly beautiful. Everywhere we turned we were confronted with another jaw-dropping vista of mountains, ocean, glaciers, and wildlife.

We took a helicopter ride to the top of glacier where we were able to sip glacier water and explore the terrain.

We took a helicopter ride to the top of glacier where we were able to sip glacier water and explore the terrain.

Our whale watching tour was amazing. When we got back to shore, Steve asked Ann, "So who did it feel to be in photographer's heaven?"

Our whale watching tour was amazing. When we got back to shore, Steve asked Ann, “So how did it feel to be in photographer’s heaven?”

Where else on Earth can you find yourself on a small boat watching humpback whales dive literally 10 feet away while salmon jump over their tails, and gaze out across the water to admire a rainbow rising up over a mountain? It is truly a photographer’s heaven.

Meeting new people

We love to meet new people. Whether it is introducing ourselves to those sitting next to us at a bar or restaurant or shaking hands with people we’ve just met at a conference or event, we just love meeting new people. Over the past five years we’ve met some incredible people like innkeeper Jeanne in Chadron, Nebraska, and the staff at Luminae restaurant on the Celebrity Eclipse. We’ve developed new relationships with fellow bloggers, our readers, and travel enthusiasts. And, we’ve made some great new friends along the way.

But few meetings will be as memorable as the night we were invited backstage after a Garth Brooks show in Las Vegas to meet the country music legend and his wife and singer Trisha Yearwood. People often say, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” Well, here you go. For what it’s worth, Garth and Trisha are as gracious and kind as you’d expect.

Down to earth, personable, and boy can they sing! Our once in a lifetime experience meeting county music artists, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

Down to earth, personable, and boy can they sing! Our once in a lifetime experience meeting county music artists, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

Picking up our daughter from school

From Spain. Via Rome. As you know, all good parents make sure their children get home safely after school, and Ann and I are no exception. That’s why we we made the trek to Salamanca, Spain, last summer to pick Meghan up after she’d spent several weeks there studying Spanish. We were so proud of our daughter and all she had accomplished there and it was a real blessing to be able to see where she had studied, visit her favorite museums, and meet some of her teachers. 

Meghan studied Spanish Salamanca, Spain.

Meghan studied Spanish Salamanca, Spain.

And we loved Salamanca. It is a historical city dating back to Roman times and we savored every moment spent sitting in the open air cafes on the square, eating paella, drinking amazing wine and listening to bands playing traditional music.  As long as we were headed across the ocean, we stopped first in Rome, admired the incredible history there and enjoyed pasta at a sidewalk cafe before boarding a cruise to Spain. It was an amazing trip.

Our view of the Forum in Rome, Italy, seemed like it was right of a history book.

Our view of the Forum in Rome, Italy, seemed like it was right of a history book.

 

Exploring our home state, Nebraska

When Ann and I were married, I hadn’t done much travel in the state of Nebraska except on Interstate 80. Ann insisted that we take a trip around our state. She and Meghan had taken annual Nebraska trips for close to a decade and she said there were some pretty special things to be enjoyed if we just got off of I-80. Well, she was right.

Nebraska

A road in the Sandhills of northwest Nebraska near Crawford. Definitely not I-80.

One place she took me that blew me away was Toadstool Geologic Park. I’ve been twice, now, and both times I’ve been awed by the beauty and unique geography located in Nebraska. Last Spring we shared another experience that was a first for both of us: The Sandhill Crane migration.

We watched thousands of Sandhill Cranes gather at sunset on the Platte River near Grand Island, Nebraska.

We watched thousands of Sandhill Cranes gather at sunset on the Platte River near Grand Island, Nebraska.

Seeing the cranes land on the Platte River at sunset is an almost mystical experience, and it should be on your bucket list. Turns out Nebraska is a pretty special place if you just stop and look around a bit.

Watching the sun rise and set

Every day, God gives us two beautiful light shows that fill the whole sky: sunrise, and sunset. We have always tried to slow down and enjoy these moments when we can.

View of the sunset from our cruise ship in Nassau, Bahamas.

View of the sunset from our cruise ship in Nassau, Bahamas.

Whether it’s a fiery sky turning orange and red as the sun dips into the ocean, or a glistening sunrise in Estes Park or the Florida Keys — these are times to be savored.

Watching the sunrise over the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes, Colorado.

Watching the sunrise over the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes, Colorado.

A day of rejoicing with the sunrise on Easter morning from the Florida Keys.

A day of rejoicing with the sunrise on Easter morning from the Florida Keys.

When you stop and think about it, there is nothing made by human hands that can even compare.

We’ve been really fortunate to have been able to travel as much as we have the during these first five years of our marriage and we don’t take one trip for granted. Whether it is across the ocean or just down the road, we have always managed to learn something new on our adventures. We’ve experienced something different. And we’ve created memories together that will last a lifetime. None of us knows what our futures will hold. Only God knows whether we’ll have more days filled with or joy or sorrow, sickness or health, plenty or want. The important thing is to enjoy the journey and to remember that most of the time, the only trip you’ll ever regret taking is the one you don’t.

Nebraska’s Nicest #6 – A Kiss on the Butte

Nebraska’s Nicest #6 – A Kiss on the Butte

Can I tell you something personal?  I kissed my wife on the butte.  It’s okay, though, because there was no one around to see us, and the scenery was so beautiful, I just had to kiss her.  On the butte.  And she liked it.  I know that joke is a little juvenile, but I work with middle school students who would think that was pretty funny.

Seriously, though, NW Nebraska is a beautiful place filled with interesting land formations like the Sandhills, and yes, buttes. Driving down these long, empty roads together was a special time for us; a chance to connect, have conversation, and just be together.

I think the real winner of the #6 spot here isn’t the kiss per se, rather it is the absolutely amazing scenery that surrounded us in every direction–scenery that created many romantic moments (until Ann began to hum the theme from Little House on the Prairie).  The Sandhills and the buttes are unique and not seen many other places.  Some of the best views we had were driving along back country gravel roads…open range country with cattle out and about and wandering across the road in front of the car.  In fact, we could drive dozens of miles without seeing another person, alone together without cell phones, emails or other distractions of our everyday lives back home.

If you’re driving in Nebraska, make some time and hop on Highway 2 out of Grand Island over to Alliance, or take 61 north out of Ogallala around Lake McConaughy, or drive across the north part of the state on Highway 20, and you’ll treat yourself to some of the most beautiful country you’ve ever seen.  If you stick to I-80, you’ll never know all the beauty that Nebraska has to offer, and you’ll miss your opportunity to give your significant other a kiss on the butte.

Note:  I’m pretty sure Sir Mix-a-lot would also like Nebraska what with all our big buttes and everything…