Today is our daughter Meghan’s birthday. She is 24 which makes me feel so old. I know it’s cliché, but it really does seem like yesterday that I was in my twenties, living in South Carolina and working as sports writer covering the first high school football game of the season on my due date. There was no labor that night, or the next day, or three days later on Labor Day for that matter. No, in true Meghan fashion, she took her sweet time coming into the world and arrived five days past her due date at 7:11 a.m. Sept. 7, 1994.

The day Meghan was born, Sept. 7, 1994.

The day Meghan was born, Sept. 7, 1994.

I was in love the moment I set eyes on my first and only child. She was perfect and my life would never be the same.

Ann and Meghan have attended a Nebraska Cornhusker football game together every year since Meghan was born.

Ann and Meghan have attended a Nebraska Cornhusker football game together every year since Meghan was born.

As a single mother, we shared so many special mother/daughter memories over the years, many of them involving travel. We’ve been to a Nebraska football game every year since she was born (well, that is if you count last Saturday’s single play before the game was canceled due to thunderstorms).

This picture was taken on our very first Nebraska road trip somewhere in the Sandhills. It was the first time either one of us had been there.

This picture was taken on our very first Nebraska road trip somewhere in the Sandhills. It was the first time either one of us had been there.

We road tripped across our home state most summers beginning the year she was in fourth grade and explored Europe for the first time together on a school trip with other foreign language students and teachers.

Meghan with her classmates in Salzburg, Austria in 2012.

Meghan with her classmates in Salzburg, Austria in 2012.

We even traveled around the world (literally) in 2005 when we flew from the U.S. to London to Sri Lanka. We volunteered as Christian missionaries after the tsunami there and then returned to the states via Tokyo, Japan to complete our trip around the globe.

We spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka with kids and families who were hungry and homeless after the devastating tsunami.

We spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka with kids and families who were hungry and homeless after the devastating tsunami.

Steve and I got married when Meghan was 16 and the three of us have shared memorable travel experiences, as well. A cruise to Alaska, a Thanksgiving Day trip to Dallas to see the Cowboys play, and several memorable evenings sharing a bottle of wine and eating paella on the square in Salamanca, Spain.

Ann Steve and Meghan at the Cowboys Stadium.

Meghan was so happy that then Cowboys QB Tony Romo had just been cleared to play in the game that day after missing several games with an injury. Sadly, he was re-injured during the game.

We’re both a little sad that we won’t see Meghan today. We are in Nebraska this week, and she’s in Oklahoma where she is in an accelerated nursing school program. We’re so proud of where her journey has taken her and are confident she’ll be a great nurse. Fittingly, her hospital rotation this week is in labor and delivery and she’s been able to witness new parents bringing their own children into the world. It’s my hope that when she sees the joy and love in their faces when they see their babies for the first time, she’ll know exactly how I felt the day she was born – 24 years ago, today.

Happy Birthday, Meg.

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  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
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Just up the road from our home in Crete, Nebraska, we found the National Museum of Roller Skating. Our curiosity piqued, we stopped in and took a look around. There we found the world's largest collection of historical roller skates, costumes, and memorabilia. ⁣
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It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
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Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
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We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
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Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
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Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
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Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
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Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
  • Each year from late February to early April, hundreds of thousands of Sandhills Cranes migrate through Nebraska on their way north to their breeding grounds. It's considered one of the greatest spectacles in nature, so thousands of people come to experience this incredible time.⁣
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We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
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Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
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Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.
  • Sometimes, you find great cocktails where you least expect...⁣
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In the Mason City, Iowa, airport, (about halfway between Mason City and Clear Lake) we found a wonderful little restaurant called CAVU-American Kitchen and Coctail Lounge. It's different from any other airport restaurant and bar in the world because it is place so good, the airport becomes the destination.⁣
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While there last fall, we sampled a couple of their specialty cocktails. On the left a refreshing take on a margarita, on the right, a cocktail featuring St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur. Both were fantastic and worth a trip to the airport, even if you're not flying anywhere.
  • Learn how to avoid being labeled "that annoying guy" on a cruise ship in a new post on our blog that Steve wrote this weekend. ⁣
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You should know that 99% of the people we meet on cruises are nice people and fun to be around. However, it seems like there's always that one guy or gal who just gets under your skin. ⁣
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Click on the link to our blog in our bio and see what made of our list of things to do to avoid being "that guy" on a cruise ship. ⁣
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Are there some things we missed? Let us know - we'd love to hear from you.
  • The Sandhill Crane migration will be starting very soon, and @visitkearney, Nebraska, is the perfect place to go to witness this amazing sight. ⁣
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Because the cranes are best viewed at sunrise and sunset, a good cup of coffee is a necessity. ⁣
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During our hosted visit to town last year, we re-caffinated at a couple different coffee shops, including @baristasdailygrind. ⁣
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Ann loved the way her coffee was served, with a barista's kiss--a chocolate covered espresso bean sitting in a little cloud of whipped cream. Talk about a great good morning kiss!

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