Happy Birthday, Meghan!

Happy Birthday, Meghan!

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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A perfect fall day with family

A perfect fall day with family

Today was one of those cool, cloudy days when it starts to really feel like fall in Nebraska. The trees are starting to change colors and the corn fields are almost ready for harvest this time of year.

I love this time of year when the corn is just about ready to harvest.

I love this time of year in Nebraska when the corn is just about ready to harvest.

Now that Steve has a more flexible schedule, we thought it might be nice to go for drive today and see some of our family. My Grandma Shrewsbury is celebrating her 95th birthday tomorrow, so we headed out this morning for Nebraska City where she lives in a nursing home.

Meghan and Grandma Shrewsbury also enjoy looking through her scrapbook together and reminiscing about Meghan's childhood.

Meghan and Grandma Shrewsbury also enjoy looking through her scrapbook together and reminiscing about Meghan’s childhood.

Grandma Shrewsbury (my dad’s mother) is our only living grandparent and she is so special to me. When I was a kid, we’d visit my grandparents and I loved cooking and baking with my grandma. She’d show me how to make Beverly’s Brownies from her Kitchen Klatter cookbook or we’d spend the day peeling and coring apples for homemade apple butter.

Me and my Grandma Shrewsbury at a wedding many years ago.

Me and my Grandma Shrewsbury at a wedding many years ago.

She spent hours teaching me how to thread the eye of the needle in the sewing machine and let me pick out my favorite fabrics which she’d make into nightgowns and dresses for me to wear.

This is one of my grandma's favorite photographs of her and Meghan.

This is one of my grandma’s favorite photographs.

After Meghan was born, the two of us would go see my grandma often and sometimes, she’d stay with Meghan when I had to travel for business. Those two have a special relationship and I’m so thankful Meghan had been able to know her great-grandmother so well.

Meghan and Grandma Shrewsbury both enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhusker football team.

Meghan and Grandma Shrewsbury both enjoy cheering for the Nebraska Cornhusker football team.

After our visit with Grandma, we met Steve’s mom and dad for lunch at The Lied Lodge in Nebraska City. They recently returned from their 50th anniversary trip to the Canada and the Northeast and we were so excited to see pictures from their trip and hear all about it.

Steve's mom and dad, Gayle and John Teget, drove over from their home in Shenandoah, Iowa, to meet us for lunch.

Steve’s mom and dad, Gayle and John Teget, drove over from their home in Shenandoah, Iowa, to meet us for lunch.

We are happy they’ve had opportunities like these to travel and enjoy their lives together. On a side note, we ate someplace new today in Nebraska City and we just loved it! Originally, we’d planned to meet at The Lied Lodge for lunch but they were not able to accommodate us because of a special event. Instead, we drove downtown to a place called The Keeping Room. None of us had ever been there, but we will be back!

Apple walnut salad at The Keeping Room in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Apple walnut salad at The Keeping Room in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

The service was great and the food was just delicious! I had the apple walnut salad with grilled chicken and the tangy balsamic vinegar dressing was so yummy. Gayle and Meghan also had salad entrees that were quite tasty, Steve had what he called the best French dip he’s had in a while, and John also enjoyed his chicken salad croissant.  We didn’t have time for dessert because Meghan needed to get to work, so we’ll have to go back sometime soon to taste the pie. We heard it was also delicious.

In any case, it was great to see Steve’s mom and dad, wish my grandma a happy 95th birthday, and enjoy a crisp fall day with family. It was a nice reminder of how thankful we are for the changing seasons in Nebraska and the changing seasons in life.

Eclipse 2017: An earth-shadowing experience from our home in Crete, Nebraska

Eclipse 2017: An earth-shadowing experience from our home in Crete, Nebraska

When science writer Trudy Bell said to never let anyone convince me that 99% of the sun covered was the same as totality, I didn’t know what to think. She then went on to say, “It’s 1% of the sun’s surface, but it’s 100% of the experience.” The moment the moon fully covered the sun during the recent total solar eclipse that passed over our hometown of Crete, Neb., I knew exactly what she meant. And she was right.

Total solar eclipse, photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Total solar eclipse, photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska. If you look closely, you can see solar flares along the edges of the moon.

Ann and I had been looking forward to the eclipse for some time, and we couldn’t wait to welcome travelers from around the nation and the world to our hometown. On the Saturday before the eclipse, we had a booth downtown where we sold t-shirts as well as souvenir postcards — something for the special stamp and cancellation mark from our local post office.

We designed five total solar eclipse postcards that we sold throughout the weekend of the eclipse. They made a great souvenir from the event.

We designed five total solar eclipse postcards that we sold throughout the weekend of the eclipse. They made a great souvenir from the event.

We had an absolute blast meeting people from all over the country who were in Crete for the total solar eclipse. We met and talked with people from Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Oregon, California and Nevada. We learned so much about eclipses from people like Trudy Bell.

 

More eclipse fun!! This will be Trudy’s SIXTH total solar eclipse! She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to eclipses and we’re so happy to welcome her and her daughter to Crete this weekend!

We also met people from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, who were excited to be in town for the eclipse. Their description of what was to come just added to the excitement of the day.

 

Talking eclipse in downtown Crete, Nebraska.

 

Our little t-shirt and postcard sales gig proved to be pretty popular and we found ourselves a little busier than expected answering calls and texts from people all weekend.

We sold several hundred of these 2017 total solar eclipse t-shirts during eclipse festivities in downtown Crete, Nebraska.

We sold several hundred of these 2017 total solar eclipse t-shirts during eclipse festivities in downtown Crete, Nebraska.

By Monday morning, we were ready to be done with postcard and t-shirt sales and just settle in to watch the eclipse. But people kept contacting us. In fact, the owner of our local Ace Hardware store had some people from Iowa who really wanted some postcards so he just drove them up to our house to get some. That’s what we do in small town America.

We sold more than 2,000 total solar eclipse postcards and our local post office offered a special cancellation stamp.

We sold more than 2,000 total solar eclipse postcards and our local post office offered a special cancellation stamp.

While they were here, we got a call from friends in a local park–apparently, people were clamoring for more postcards, so we were off again, making arrangements for their sale and distribution. In the meantime, we’d met a couple other folks from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada who wanted a t-shirt. They seemed nice, so we invited them up to our place to watch the eclipse.

We met great people from all over the world, including these eclipse chasers from California, Nevada, and Canada.

We met great people from all over the world, including these eclipse chasers from California, Nevada, and Canada.

We were so tickled that they accepted our invitation. We also had our friends and fellow travel bloggers, Sara (and her husband, Todd) of Travel with Sara, and Lisa and Tim of The Walking Tourists, a friend of mine from college and his family, Ann’s mom and my parents, friends who were just back from Sri Lanka, a dozen or so college students and suddenly, we had a houseful.

Friends and fellow travel bloggers look at the eclipse through a telescope in our front yard.

Friends and fellow travel bloggers Lisa and Tim Trudell and Sara and Todd Broers look at the eclipse through a telescope in our front yard.

I threw some burgers on the grill, Ann and my mom made some great salads, we cooked some locally grown Behrens family sweet corn in a cooler, and lunch was served.

We learned a great way to make sweet corn for a crowd is to pour boiling water over the corn in a cooler and just shut the lid for about 20 minutes.

We learned a great way to make sweet corn for a crowd is to pour boiling water over the corn in a cooler and just shut the lid for about 20 minutes.

Clouds were all around that morning, threatening our eclipse viewing, so I said a prayer. Still, the whole group had a lot of fun chatting and getting to know each other. Finally, after so much anticipation, the solar eclipse began.

Steve and his dad, John Teget, watch the total solar eclipse from our front yard in Crete, Nebraska.

Steve and his dad, John Teget, watch the total solar eclipse from our front yard in Crete, Nebraska.

We all put on our eclipse glasses and at first, we couldn’t really see any difference in the sun. Then, it became more clear. As the moon transited the sun, anticipation (and cloud formations) grew. We couldn’t wait! Thankfully, God answered my prayer and the clouds held off until just after totality ended! What follows is a series of photos of the eclipse. We’d like to thank our friend Ronald Koch who took these photos right here in Crete.

Partial eclipse before totality. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

A view of the partial eclipse before totality. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch, in Crete, Nebraska.

The "diamond ring" effect, photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Just before the moon completely covers the sun, we could see the “diamond ring” effect. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Total solar eclipse photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

The moon completely covers the sun during totality allowing viewers to see the sun’s light shine out around the moon. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Partial solar eclipse photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Just a little bit of the moon still covers the sun following the total solar eclipse. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

After experiencing totality, I feel confident in saying that all the positive hype we’d heard about the eclipse didn’t adequately describe it. It was a sight unlike anything I’d ever seen and I can’t find the words to describe the experience.

I go back to what Trudy Bell said in the video above, that 99% covered means that 1% is uncovered. And that 1% is 100% of the experience. Seeing the sun completely covered, looking at the rays of the sun shining out around the moon, seeing a metallic, teal colored sunrise in all directions, all while hearing the crickets chirping and frogs croaking at 1 o’clock in the afternoon was an incredible experience.

Ann and I had run all over town in the days and weeks leading up to the eclipse, we’d done so much to prepare. Those 2 minutes and 26 seconds of totality were worth it to us and to all those who had traveled from near and far to see it.

Steve's friend, Scott drove with his family from Wisconsin to see the total solar eclipse.

Steve’s friend, Scott drove with his family from Wisconsin to see the total solar eclipse.

We wish we could have had all our blog followers in Crete for this event. We know that isn’t possible, so Ann took a video during the eclipse while on our deck. While watching video isn’t the same as being here, I hope it at least gives you an idea of what the experience was like. Listen to the cheers and the spontaneous reactions of those who saw this awesome sight.

 

From our back yard at totality.

Posted by Postcard Jar on Monday, August 21, 2017

We are now officially eclipse junkies, and are already beginning to make plans to travel to the path of totality for the next eclipse in the U.S. on April 8, 2024. That one will enter through Texas and exit through the northeast. Visit [HERE] for a map showing its path as well as the path of all the eclipses in the US between now and 2050. If you have not yet seen a total solar eclipse, you should strongly consider making plans to do so. If you do, I think you’ll find that you have a hard time finding words to describe the experience, as well.


Were you able to watch the total solar eclipse? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.