Monthly Archives: October 2007

Swinging Halloween Weekend

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Last Friday, we had our annual Halloween Dance with the Omaha Jitterbugs. Vivian and I returned as Wine and Cheese, this time sporting some custom t-shirts I created just for the event with Zazzle.com. We earned a spot among the finalists in the costume contest, which was quite an honor, even though we didn’t win. I couldn’t quite argue with Ruth getting first prize for being an authentic Jitterbug, of course. The Jack and Jill contest proved to be a little difficult for Jonathan in his grass skirt. At first he couldn’t decide whether to lead or follow, and then his coconut bikini kept falling off, providing much amusement to both his follow and everyone else watching.

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We saw plenty of great costumes throughout the night, far too many to post in one blog. You’ll have to consult Cliff’s pictures to see most of them. Eric came again as Johnny Bravo, this time wearing the appropriate colored t-shirt. Other costumed favorites included Chris as Quail Man, Cliff as a Deviled Egg, and Rob returning as SpongeBob SquarePants.

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On Saturday night, a bunch of our mutual friends stopped at Venche’s new house in northwest Omaha for a housewarming party. We had some goofy karaoke down in the basement, and everybody cleared out in time for me to try singing by Bowling for Soup’s 1985. Upstairs, we stuffed ourselves silly at the baked potato bar and then played a round of Crap or Not. It was more fun to hear Eric and others asking their own Crap or Not questions, which turned out just to be a series of “did you know” trivia questions. Vivian, for instance, knows two languages, but speaks only one.

We also played a hilarious round of Apples to Apples and an extensive game of Mafia until well after one in the morning. Good times.

(Thanks to Cliff for getting the picture of me and Viv as wine and cheese. You can see the rest of his Halloween pictures here.)

Nine months

IMG_5349.JPGIt’s been nine months now that the lovely Vivian Taber and I have been “officially” a couple. On Friday we went out to celebrate at the Macaroni Grill in Omaha before going to JNO to join our friends for the Halloween dance. Every time Viv and I are together, we make more amazing memories:

  • Making me black bean chili
  • Going to church together on Sunday and then dancing together every Sunday afternoon at Lindy in the Park, eating ice cream afterwards, and getting bread together that night from Panera.
  • Sharing a campfire together at the Lonely Onion Ranch.
  • Driving her deep into Iowa to meet my family in Cedar Rapids, then driving into a breathtaking golden sunset on the way back.
  • Going on my first camping trip, canoing on the Niobrara and seeing the infite expanse of the universe without the light of the city getting in the way.
  • Experiencing my first Cowtown Jamborama and making everyone hoot with a kiss after winning the corn-eating contest.
  • The best birthday of my life with friends and a big Cortland Cake.
  • Waffles, used books, and watching a parade in NebraskaCity.
  • Making her my first cake ever in the shape of two red velvet hearts for her birthday.
  • Dancing our way down to St.Cecilia’s in a parade.
  • Stuffing straw everywhere I could on the Hayrack ride, then dancing upstairs in the same spot she met the Omaha Jitterbugs.
  • Tramping our way through Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and getting to feel like a kid again.
  • Getting to be whiney and cheesy together for Halloween.

All these things and more make me feel so special, even without the t-shirt. You make me feel like the luckiest guy in the world, Vivian, and I’m loving you every minute.

Jenny’s Birthday Weekend

Over the weekend, our friend and Vivian’s roommate Jenny celebrated her 27th birthday in style, and that meant a day or two of food, dancing, and party hayhem in general for all of our mutual friends.

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On Friday, we kicked things off by crashing at Famous Dave’s down in the old market. There’s no better way to start off a birthday weekend than by stuffing your face with rib tips and garlic mashed potatoes. We had over fifteen people show up for the event before heading on over to Jitterbugs, and it was a grand old time seeing old friends and taking goofy pictures of ourselves with the digital cameras we brought. Viv left hers at home again, so she had to take a couple cute ones with her camera.

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After dinner, a bunch of us went to the Eagle’s Lodge for Jitterbugs Night Put, as usual. Both Jenny and Cliff got to have their turns in the birthday jam, and I got to practice tossing my camera back to other people in the circle as I ran up to get my turn to dance with her (trying oh so skillfully not to knock her on her face). I also made sure to get some pictures of Cliff dancing, since he’s the Jitterbugs unofficial photographer and rarely gets the chance to have his own picture taken.

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On Saturday night, we had Jenny’s official birthday bash out in her friend Hugh’s big house in west Omaha. It was a costume party, and Jenny dressed up in a very nice flapper costume she got from Target, looking very authentic as she stopped to do the Charleston in the living room. We had a good crowd that seemed to come and go throughout the night. Vivian and I showed up promptly at seven, which meant mostly waiting around an hour or two for the guests actually to arrive.

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The party was actually a costume party, so we were all encouraged to dress up as something or other before we came by. Venche, Bente, and Robin came as a trio of cheerleaders and tried to do a pyramid (“You guys are definitely junior varisty,” Benta said with an eye-roll). We had plenty of great costumes all around, but the guy who really took the cake (and first prize, awarded by Jenny) was Rob, who arrived in a full SpongeBob SquarePants outfit made out of a large cardboard box and convoluted foam from his mattress.

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Vivian and I came dressed as Wine and Cheese, with a foam cheese hat Viv ordered straight from Wisconsin, and a cork hat I was able to make that afternoon with some supplies from Menard’s. We had some pumpkin carving going on in the living room, so Vivian and I both got to carve up some pumpkins we’d bought that afternoon at Wal-Mart. I haven’t carved a pumpkin since I was a kid, so it was loads of fun, and Viv was able to save the seeds for some potential pumpkin seed roasting.

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Toward the end of the night, things started to get just a little bit crazy. Vivian and Jenny got into a boxing match using some borrowed boxing gloves, and Olin decided to reveal his true feelings to Jessica by putting ice cubes down her shirt.

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On Sunday, Jenny was baptized at Trinity Church in Omaha, along with a couple dozen other believers who got up to take the plunge during and after the morning service. It was such exciting testimony to see so many men and women devoting their lives to Christ, some of them a long time coming, including an athetist of over 30 years who had nearly committed suicide before coming to the Lord.

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That afternoon, Vivian and I joined some of her long-time friends at a Fainting Goat farm just north of Mead, Nebraska. There were dozens and dozens of people here who all knew Vivian and family through a chain of acquaintances, all stemming from her one-time nextdoor neighbors down in Bellevue. There were all kinds of food for us to stuff our faces, including some delicious stuffed jalapeno peppers that Viv’s mom made for the occasion. We also had a roaring fire for making smores, and there was some caramel apple dipping, leaving our hands plenty sticky for the whole afternoon. Vivian and I got to play around with the goats, too. It was the first time I remember ever holding one of those little guys. Apparently, they were being raised for being pets, dashing any hopes I had of trying some goat cheese.

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch

It’s fall in Nebraska, and one of the big attractions near Omaha is Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, a large farm outside of Gretna with a theme-park atmosphere and dozens of attractions that turn these rolling acres into a carnival for one month every year.

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Jenny and Hugh, and Vivian and I braved the rain and mud and met down there Sunday afternoon for an afternoon of fun. We all took our hand at aiming apples at some metal cornfield pirate targets with a giant slingshot, and we were all able to pose behind some giant cartoon cutouts placed every so often around the park.

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Halloween also played a big part in several of the attractions and shops. Jenny got to try out a couple of rubber eyeballs, and we got to walk through a haunted farmhouse with classic face-changing pictures on the walls.

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The sun peeked out and made a rainbow for us just before it went down. We night settled in, we grooved to the tunes of a robotic skeleton band and danced on the tables until one of Vala’s employees told us to knock it off. We also made sure to grab some caramel apples before heading off for home.

You can check out all the pictures here.

The Hayrack Ride

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On Saturday Night, Great Adventures Ministries in Omaha had their annual Hayrack Ride out near Blair, Nebraska. It was my first time going on a hayrack ride, and Vivian had prepared me well in advance for what to expect. Mere seconds after the tractor started chugging along down the dirt road, Vivian was grabbing me by the shoulders and shoving a fistful of hay up my shirt. A few minutes later the whole cart was a blizzard of straw flying every which way as we launched a way on the hayrack behind us and started pulling down guys like Hugh and Olin to make sure they had their turn to get the scratchy stuff inside every layer of clothing they were wearing. By the end of it, we were all picking hay out of our clothes, hair, underwear, and even our ears. I had to help Vivian extract one of these the next day.

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Afterwards, those of us who weren’t completely exhausted from the hayrack ride participated in a swing dance upstairs. The lesson was taught by Eric “Onion-Boy” and Micah “Justsmilechild” in the loft in the old barn. This place had special meaning for Vivian, because it was where she first met the Omaha Jitterbugs back in the fall of 2004. And, of course, if she hadn’t met them, she probably wouldn’t have met me, so this place had special meaning for me, too.

It was a lovely night, and the rain was thankfully kept at bay long enough for us all to enjoy the night together before heading home. Micah was in for a birthday surprise a little after midnight: someone had filled her car with balloons and cued her CD up player to a favorite song while she’d been away. Happy Birthday, Micah!

Jitterbug Birthdays

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Over the weekend, we had our fair share of birthdays among our friends with the Omaha Jitterbugs. On Friday, Micah got to have her birthday Jam and Jitterbugs’ night out. It felt great to be back at the Eagle’s Lodge for another typical late night of dancing with friends in the old cow town. Becky and Merinda, unfortunately, didn’t show up until afterwards, but we got to celebrate a joint birthday party with them down in Bellevue.

Ben tries to suffocate Kevin Playing Halo on the big screen

We discussed creating an electronic database to help catalog Merinda’s extensive collection of purses, which Kevin would be writing in XML is Ben doesn’t smother him with a pillow first. Troy played Halo 3 on his giant screen in the basement for our amusement while the rest of us amused ourselves with a flying chicken and drinking some dangerously delicious strawberry daquiris courtesy of Merinda’s blender.

I couldn’t think of any better way to spend a Friday night, and our weekend was just getting started. Thank goodness for being able to sleep in.

Update on the Beige Bomber

IMG_4777.JPGGood news, everybody. The beige bomber got out of the shop on Tuesday and seems to be running all right. We’re still not entirely sure what happened on Sunday, but it needed to have the alternator, belt tensioner, and a couple other parts all replace again. Hillis 66 reimbursed me for the cost of the second repair, though they suspect it was some faulty replacement parts that caused the problem. Anyhow, the car is all fixed and ready to continue wearing a groove down the middle of I-80 as I zoom back and forth between work and all my friends in Omaha.

Say a prayer for the Beige Bomber

IMG_4691.JPGIf you guys could say a quick prayer for my little 97 Taurus, known affectionately as the Beige Bomber, I would appreciate it. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s been working overtime getting me to and from Omaha to see Vivian and our mutual friends from Terra Nova, GAMe, and the Omaha Jitterbugs. Now after around 117k miles, it’s starting to get show signs of wear. On Thursday, the alternator went out and left me on the side of I-80 with a dead battery around midnight. I got this fixed on Friday in Lincoln and thought everything would be cool when I returned to Omaha. Unfortunately the check engine light went on just minutes after leaving Lincoln to go to JNO in Omaha. Then on Sunday, Viv and I both heard a rattling under the hood, just before the battery light came on and the power steering went out. It’s recovering at the Walker Tire on 84th and Dodge right now, and we’ll find out tonight it will be drivable again (and what the damages will be). In the meantime, I’m at work courtesy of a ride from a co-worker who commutes to Omaha, but I’m without transportation until this thing gets fixed. In the meantime, a prayer or two for the beige bomber would be greatly appreciated.

St. Cecilia’s Parade

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Vivian and I had quite a workout Saturday marching with the Omaha Jitterbugs. We participated in a parade celebrating the 100th Anniversary of St. Cecilia’s Cathedral, its route retracing the parade held 1907 for the laying of the building’s cornerstone. It was an unseasonably warm October day as we marched and did the Lindy Hop through some of Omaha’s beautiful older residential neighborhoods surrounding the cathedral.

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Vivian and I held the Jitterbugs banner for a little while, and then I had a chance to chance with several of the follows who were able to attend. We had a little technical trouble halfway through the parade as the battery for our sound system burned out and Nate had to hook up the van’s own battery to the sound system so we could continue swinging our way up the parade.

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At the parade’s end, we had a huge crowd gathered outside the cathedral to watch our swinging moves. Along the way, we say plenty of cameras and video cameras recording us on our way down the street. We were able able to crash on the lawn beside the cathedral and guzzle bottled water to recover from the trip a little before walking on back to our cars through the picturesque neighborhoods.

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On Sunday, Vivian joined me and my small group from church for some time of fellowship and pigging out on pizza down at Cici’s. After lunch, we went to my brother’s place to play a couple hours of video games, including some serious quality time passing the Wii controller back and forth while playing Wario Ware: Smooth Moves.

All things considered, it was a great weekend. The Beige Bomber is starting to have some problems with my trips between Omaha and Lincoln, but by God’s grace and some helpful friends, I still seem to be getting to work on time!

Vivtoberfest

It’s been a big, birthday weekend for vivacious Vivian, who turned 28 last Thursday. I was up in Omaha to celebrate with her and spent some quality time over the weekend, which was wonderful.

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On Thursday, we went out to the Outback Steakhouse with her parents to have a bloomin’ onion, which was a sort of birthday tradition for Viv. Afterwards, we went back to her parents place so Vivian could open presents from her folks, which included Italian dried salami imported from San Francisco, new clothes, and some black and pink suede shoes that Vivian spent more time petting than wearing. Afterwards, we got to have some of the amazing Birthday Cake that her mom had made for her. It featured a little fondant sculpture of Vivian, dressed as a swing dancing angel holding a guitar.

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On Friday, Vivian and I had both taken the day off, so we got to spend some quality time together doing as little as possible. We went down to a little Diner (simply called “The Diner”) next to the Old Market downtown to have some hamburgers. We’d wanted to eat there for ages, but they’re closed after four and on Sundays, so we were never around when it was open. Afterwards, we took a walk in a gorgeous little neighborhood I had discovered completely by accident off the NW Radial Highway. It had beautiful little brick houses and towering trees with leaves that were just starting to change color. It was the perfect weather for a long afternoon walk.

That evening, we went out with friends to Old Chicago and then went to the Eagle’s Lodge for Vivian’s birthday dance. The photo comes courtesy of Cliff, who has gotten picture of all three of Viv’s birthday dances so far.

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On Saturday, we finally had our big party for Vivian with all of her friends down at the Lazy Onion Ranch, an event Eric quickly dubbed “Vivtoberfest.” I had my work cut out for me preparing for the event, baking my very first cake ever with a couple heart-shaped pans I borrowed from Viv’s mom. I also rounded up some baked potatoes for a dress-your-own potato bar for the gang when they arrived. We played badminton and fenced with a couple foam scimitars I was able to procure, and then I frosted up the cake so Viv could blow out her candles and open presents. We got her a number of fun presents, including board games and a new digital camera. I also gave her a little present I’d found on eBay months ago and have struggled to hide from her ever since in my apartment: a Punky Brewster doll in its original, unopened box. Vivian had had a doll just like it when she was little but had to leave it behind when her family moved, so I hoped she would enjoy seeing it again.

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Sunday came, and Vivian and I went to church together before dropping by the last Lindy in the Park for the season. We all got to bring food for a pot-luck style cookout with our friends for one last dance together on the Gene Leahy mall. We couldn’t have asked for better weather: sunny, warm, and very windy. Afterwards, we dropped by Maggie Moo’s one last time with Eric and Micah, and then Viv and I went back to her parents’ place to have cobbler and play with Diggy.

Vivian and I crashed at last at her place and watched The Last Mimzy together. Viv wanted to put all of her presents on the table to get a picture of all the loot her generous friends had given her this weekend. She also took down a list to send out Thank-You cards, something that’s going to be keeping her busy for a while, I’m sure!