No Worries!

No Worries!  What I Hope To Bring Home From My Vacation Besides Souvenirs!

Dominican Republic beach. www.mytributejournal.com

My husband and I just got back from a marvelous week in Dominican Republic for a work/play convention sponsored by a company he often uses for many of his client’s investment portfolios.  It always takes some adjustment getting back into the regular routine of things after being away from home for awhile, but in hopes of extending that wonderful feeling of being on vacation–here’s a few things I’d like to carry over to my everyday life from our trip!

Tropical flowers www.mytributejournal.com 

 

Greet others with a happy hello!

 

Don't worry, be happy! www.mytributejournal.com

Obviously, it’s part of their job description, but we were always greeted with big bright smiles and a genuine “Hola” by all the workers at our resort.  My husband asked one consistently cheerful greeter if he was always so jovial, and his reply was that by wishing everyone a happy day, it automatically made his day better too!  “If you are happy señor, then I am happy.”  We believed him and we were all happy!  Why is it so hard to remember that in the large scheme of things, seeing another’s happiness most often creates our own!

Tropical flowers www.mytributejournal.com

 

Be awestruck!

 

No Worries! www.mytributejournal.com

Awestruck! www.mytributejournal.com

No Worries! Zip lines over Punta Cana Forrest in Dominican Republic. www.mytributejournal.com

We are all in awe of the unique beauty of new places when we travel!  I love how the people of the various countries I’ve had the privilege of visiting often show such pride in their heritage and gorgeous country sides.  I’m also impressed that so many of these lovely people work hard to carry on the vocations and talents of their forefathers.  I’ll always cherish the special memories I have of the amazing cultures I’ve had the opportunity of seeing, but as I arrive home and pick up on my regular routine again, I want to remind myself to remember to look around and be aware of the beauty that is in my own backyard, so to speak!

 Tropical cocnut www.mytributejournal.com

 

Don’t worry, be happy!

 

No Worries! www.mytributejournal.com

Despite the language barrier at times, there was always a “can do” attitude among all the native people of Dominican Republic.  I think both mine and my husband’s overall life expectancy gained a few years due to the considerate attitude of these kind people and their willingness to put any of our concerns immediately at ease.  A typical response to any requests we had was a resounding, “No worries, I can help you with that!”  I want to do better at being that supportive shoulder to lean on when someone else is feeling overwhelmed with the “busy-ness” of their lives!

Tropical flowers www.mytributejournal.com

 

 

Escape the “popular” crowd!

 

No Worries! www.mytributejournal.com

Don't worry, be happy! www.mytributejournal.com

My husband had some work obligations he attended to during some of the time we were away, but for the most part we had a fair amount of free time.  It’s often easy to let the lure of the crowds and other festivities keep you too busy and your days filled up with extracurricular activities when you travel.  A favorite spot of mine was the veranda just off of our room and the beautiful, peaceful view there–my husband and I made a point to sneak away from his work group and spend some time alone while we were on vacation.  Alas, now that we’re back home, our busy schedules will begin to pull us in various different directions again, so I really want to remember those quiet times together and do better at continuing them here at home–even if it requires some special planning.  It’s certainly not rocket science to realize that other facets of our lives will be better if we take the time to revitalize our relationship with our spouses!

No Worries! www.mytributejournal.com

It’s always hard to leave a beautiful vacation spot behind and come home to our usual worries and daily obligations, but if we try and incorporate a little of what made our trip so wonderful into our regular routine, then perhaps a part of us will always feel like we’re on vacation and our everyday lives will be better, not only for us, but for everyone we associate with at home too!

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What are some special places you’ve loved visiting and how do you bring a little piece of a wonderful vacation home with you?

  –Mary

The Wide Open Heart Of Oklahoma!

Getting To Know The Wide Open Heart Of Oklahoma!

If you’re not from Oklahoma, I think the first thing that usually comes to mind when you think of that state is the Rogers and Hammerstein movie, “Oklahoma”  you know, when they sing, “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains…”  

Oklahoma movie by Rogers and Hammerstien www.mytributejournal.com

Country singer, Jason Aldean, makes a poignant reference to Oklahoma in his hit song, “Fly Over States”, as being one of the beautiful and industrious mid-west states that is often overlooked as people travel from coast to coast.

Oklahoma--Fly Over State www.mytributejournal.com

Who’d want to live down there in the middle of nowhere…  

…On the plains of Oklahoma

With a windshield sunset in your eyes

Like a watercolor painted sky  

You’d think heaven’s doors have opened–

You’ll understand why God made

Those fly over states… 

Oklahoma! www.mytributejournal.com

Quite honestly, I have to admit that I’m not sure Oklahoma would have ever been a place that my husband and I would have considered visiting until my son was assigned to do his dental residency there–then it quickly became a top priority!

My son and his wife are ingenious at utilizing the little amount of free time they have away from work and school, to study and explore the new places they live in!  Luckily for me and my husband, Oklahoma has been no exception, resulting in a truly unbelievable, extended weekend for us when we went to visit Jake and Whitney last month.  (I had thought about dividing this entry into two posts–but it just seems better to give the whole Oklahoma experience in one fell swoop–so grab an afghan off the back of your couch and get comfy!  Ha!) 

Wide open spaces and prairies definitely define Oklahoma, but there is so much more…

A breathtaking view overlooking the Wichita Wild Mountain Refuge!

Oklahoma--Wichita Wild Mountain Refuge! www.mytributejournal.com

We didn’t see any buffalo when we were here, but Jake and Whitney assure us that they are usually roaming the refuge.

Oklahoma City’s Historic National Stockyards were once thriving livestock markets.  It’s now home to assorted, unique shops and restaurants that give a nod to the state’s rich western heritage.  My husband was a happy camper in this bit of cowboy heaven!  Oh, and yes, he’d carefully packed his cowboy boots and wore them proudly while we were there! 

Oklahoma Stockyards www.mytributejournal.com

Oklahoma Stockyards www.mytributejournal.com

There was no shortage of leather goods adorned with fringe and western bling!

Cattlemen's Cafe in Oklahoma www.mytributejournal.com

We couldn’t pass up a steak dinner at the famedCattlemen’s Café!  It was funny to note that there was a vegetarian selection on the menu too.

We were all equally impressed with the Cowboy Museum(Life couldn’t have gotten much better for my husband!)  The quality of this museum rivals any of its kind in larger cities that we’ve visited.

Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City www.mytributejournal.comCowboy Museum in Oklahoma www.mytributejournal.com

I don’t think it would have taken much to convince my husband to settle down in the make-believe town of Prosperity!  I, for one, am very grateful for the hardships endured by all those who settled the western frontier so that I can enjoy the life I do today!

Gunsmoke display at the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma www.mytributejournal.com

The exhibit on Hollywood cowboys was especially fun!  It was neat to see all the  memorabilia from my father’s favorite TV show, Gunsmoke!

(Trivia Tidbit: Did you know that such country singers as Reba McIntire, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood hail from Oklahoma!)  

Being the dedicated “foodies” that they are, Jake and Whitney pulled out all the stops when it came to taking us to some amazing places to eat!

Champion Waffles–need I say more!

Champion Waffles in Oklahoma City www.mytributejournal.com

Who would have guessed that Meers Hamburger Heaven, one of the top three rated hamburger joints in the nation, would be in Lawton, Oklahoma, a short drive from where Jake and Whitney live!

Meer's Hamburger Heaven in Lawton, Oklahoma www.mytributejournal.com

Mere words, (no pun intended!) can’t describe how much fun this place is and how delicious the hamburgers are–you obviously have to share!  (Once he found out that you can select your own cut of rib-eye steak to order after 5:00 pm, my husband was planning our next trip to Oklahoma!)  You consider servers to be family by the time you leave Meers!

Meer's Hambureger www.mytributejournal.com

Big Truck Taco’s–the real “authentic” deal! 

Big Truck Tacos in Oklahoma City www.mytributejournal.com

Of course, our most favorite meals were the ones Jake and Whitney made for us themselves at their darling apartment!

The Wide Open Heart of Oklahoma www.mytributejournal.com

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, elicited the same powerful emotions as those felt at the 9/11 Memorial Pools in New York City!

Oklahoma City Memorial www.mytributejournal.com

This memorial is a heartfelt tribute to all the victims, survivors, rescuers and anyone else who was affected by the first homeland terrorist attack at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on on April 19, 1995.  The thoughtful indoor displays guide you through a touching timeline of events that start with…

“It was the beginning of an ordinary day in Oklahoma City!”

Oklahoma Memorial www.mytributejournal.com

The outdoor “Gates of Time” symbolize the minute before and the minute after the bombing, from 9:01 am to 9:03 am, when the innocence of Oklahoma City, and really the nation, was lost!.

Oklahoma City Memorial www.mytributejournal.com

The “Field of Chairs” represent the 168 lives taken in the bombing, including all the children killed at the day care center.  The field is located in the footprint of the former Federal Building.

Oklahoma City Memorial www.mytributejournal.com

If you make a trip to Oklahoma for no other reason than to visit this memorial, your life will be impacted forever!  The community response and thoughtful consideration given to the creation of this remarkable memorial, honors not only the lives lost, but the resiliency of the human spirit!

Oklahoma Memorial Quote www.mytributejournal.com

Rings true more than ever today!

Mostly, when we visit our children, wherever they may live, we really just hope to catch a glimpse into their everyday lives.  Jake is working hard in his dental residency program at Lawton Army Base and Whitney is enrolled in an English Master’s program.

Fort Sill army base in Oklahoma www.mytributejournal.com

Fort Sill Dental Residency Plaque www.mytributejournal.com

Thanks for your wonderful hospitality, Jake and Whitney!  We are in awe of your ability to create a lovely home wherever you live!

The Wide Open Heart of Oklahoma! www.mytributejournal.com

It’s my sincere hope that when you visit your children, either far or near, you have the chance to really see with your heart how they are living their lives!

–Mary

Disneyland for Christmas!

All I Want For Christmas Is Disneyland!

Disney Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

A few years ago, while decorating for Christmas, I came across a program on how Disneyland gets “magically” transformed for the Christmas holidays!  Ever since that time, I’ve wanted to kick off the holiday season by going to Disneyland with my family!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to pull out the slide projector and gather you all around while I ramble on about our family vacation!  Instead, I thought I’d just share a few highlights and insights on planning a trip to Disneyland at Christmas time.  It is a feat in and of itself to coordinate everyone’s schedules, (especially since my son and daughter live in two different states) and still maintain a certain level of excitement for going to the “happiest place on earth!”  Luckily for me, the delighted look of anticipation on my two granddaughter’s faces whenever we talked about going to Disneyland made the logistics of planning all the details well worth the effort!

Disneyland for Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

Anticipation And Countdown to Disneyland!

My dad, who traveled extensively throughout his life, always said one of the best parts of any trip is the anticipation beforehand!  I tried to keep that in mind as I made a Disneyland countdown for my granddaughters, Makena and Marli, the week before we left on our vacation!

Disney Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

Minnie Mouse shoes! www.mytributejournal.com

Disney dress-ups! www.mytributejournal.com

My granddaughters loved the countdown and enjoyed playing with a few little trinkets before our trip!

Disney Christmas countdown! www.mytributejournal.com

The girls were excited to use this money from the countdown, along with the money they’d earned this summer at their drink stand to pick out a special Disneyland souvenir.  Mostly we just enjoyed the fun rides and being together as a family!

My son-in-law, Cole took on the task of doing a little research on how we might make the best use of our time in Disneyland.  His fun weekly updates had us all in stitches with laughter and anxiously counting down the days until our departure date!  (You can view a couple of the sites Cole used here and here.  Be sure to check out the website that had us laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our cheeks here!  Enjoy!)

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel.  It’s beautiful and reasonably priced, as well as convenient for walking to and from the main attraction parks.  If you have little ones, (or grandpa and grandma!?!) it’s nice to be close in case you need a mid-day breather.

Disneyland Hotel www.mytributejournal.com

Disneyland Hotel www.mytributejournal.com

The Disneyland Hotel caters to a whimsical nature with everything honoring the Disney theme!  My cute granddaughters loved that you could light up the head-boards and turn on the music to play “When You Wish Upon A Star!”!  The perfect lullaby! 

 We’re All Kids At Heart In Disneyland!

I think what I love most about Disneyland is that no matter the time of year…whether you’re young or old…or somewhere in-between, we all become kids at heart!  Such a fun family time!

Disneyland for Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

You can see for yourself that Makena and Marli weren’t the only kids excited for Disneyland to open!

Disneyland! Www.mytributejournal.com

Mater, the tractor from the movie “Cars” was a favorite ride of the girls-mine too!

Toon Town! www.mytributejournal.com

Makena asked me if I wanted to live in Toon Town…

…who wouldn’t love to live there–where everything is larger than life, everyone is happy and Minnie Mouse is your neighbor! 

Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

You can usually count on waiting in lines a bit at Disneyland, although the crowds were relatively small when we were there a few weeks ago.   Fast passes are the way to go for more popular rides.  The early entry passes are a valuable bonus for those who stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.

Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Two other highlights were the World of Color show at California Adventureland and all the many wonderful plays at various little theaters throughout the park!  We saw Tangled and Aladdin–both simply amazing!

Yummy!

Food at Disneyland is yummy!  This website even tells you how to do it on the cheap!

Churros at Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Churros are a must at Disneyland! 

Goofy's breakfast at Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Goofy's Kitchen at Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Goofy’s kitchen is a fun brunch buffet!  Many of the other Disney characters are there too–and as Goofy would tell you, the food is “sumptuous!”

Disneyland also has a lot of special pastries and other food items that are served only during the holidays!

Yule log at Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Marli and her dad digging into a Disney Christmas Yule Log!  It’s cake yumminess!

Disneyland at Christmas time just seems bigger and brighter than ever before–it met my every expectation!

Disney Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

Santa at Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Christmas at Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

Even Santa seemed jollier in Disneyland! 

Santa at Disneyland! www.ytributjournal.com

Disneyland truly is a magical place where free spirits abound and silliness is highly recommended!

Disneyland free spirits! www.mytributejournal.com

Being silly in Disneyland! www.mytributejournal.com

It’s also a place where many come from all walks of life to forget their cares for awhile and enjoy being with loved ones!

Disneyland for Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

We’ll definitely be back someday!

Disney Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com

Best Christmas Wishes to Everyone!

–Mary

Despite the best laid plans, one sad footnote to our fun trip to Disneyland was that my son, Jake, and daughter-in-law, Whitney, weren’t able to join us due to freezing rains in Oklahoma that caused the cancelation of their flight and many others!  We missed you, Jake and Whitney!   Also, Happy Birthday to you today, Whitney!  What a fun life journey you are having!

Disneyland for Christmas! www.mytributejournal.com