- In January, we hosted an hors d’eourve party, had some “offal” food with Phil and Jen, said farewell to the Prairie Cats, and laid Vivian’s cockateil Babo to rest.
- In February, we got a heaping helping of overnight snow. Vivian and I had Valentine’s Day at Catfish Lake and with friends at church. I had my first father-daughter dance, and Hannah also went to the circus. Vivian and I also helped Jenny move out of her house and then attended parties at Hugh’s and Dean’s.
- In March, we attended fish fry after fish fry. Jenny had a housewarming, Pastor Mark Ashton went swing dancing, and Vivian and I had our first family picnic. We also surprised our friend Don and attended a murder mystery costume party.
- In April, we had a lemon party to kick off springtime, and then we took Hannah to the park. We celebrated a birthday or two a little Easter in-between, and Vivian and I ate some rocky mountain oysters.
- In May, we had Lindy (and Windy) in the Park, celebrated Mother’s Day, saw Mitt Romney, and had a lakeside work party. We also did some karaoke at the Pizza Shoppe, sweat to the oldies at Jon’s house, and helped move a friend or two.
- In June, I celebrated my first Father’s Day. Hannah saw her first baseball game and her first Shakespeare on the Green. We also went camping and canoeing with some friends on the Niobrara River.
- In July, the family came to visit. We danced in a parade, went to Jazz on the Green, sampled beer at Upstream, and took Hannah swimming for the first time. Vivian and I also had an anniversary day at Fun Plex.
- In August, we took a practice vacation to Kansas City, had some fun outdoors, and witnessed somebody kidnap a few of Eric’s plush friends.
- In September, Vivian and I spent a week in northern California visiting several family members and old friends. Hannah also got to experience the Cowtown corn-eating contest.
- In October, the Johnson Family carved a few pumpkins and dressed up as s’mores for Halloween. We also kicked off autumn with a hayrack ride and a trip to Vala’s.
- In November, we got to “eat mor chikin” at Bellevue’s first Chick-Fil-A. Hannah visited the zoo, celebrated her first birthday, and had some Thanksgiving with us. We also introduced her to Santa at the Durham.
- In December, I made like Clark Griswold and lit up our house for the first time. Hannah experienced snow for the first time, we had some chili, and we celebrated the end of the world. We also celebrated Christmas, of course, with a couple of our friends, and we had a wacky New Year’s party with Pastor Ryan.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Christmas seemed to come awfully quick this year, and Vivian and I found ourselves scrambling to get last-minute stocking stuffers at Nobbies and wrap presents before the big day arrived. Fortunately, all our gifts went out on schedule, even a last-minute Hannah Calendar I made for my folks and forgot to send until the Thursday before Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, we stopped by Twin Valley Church for their candlelight Christmas Eve service. I was on hand to do the overhead lyrics, as usual, and I also grabbed my camera to snap several pictures of the kids and adults all participating up at the front of the church. Afterward, we invited Donna’s co-worker Shirley over to our house to have a dinner of hors d’eourves and then open our “stockings” together before bedtime.
Christmas Day brought with it a predictable slew of loot. Vivian got a gravy boat, Jack got some pants, Donna got a trifle bowl, I got a relic of America’s past, and our friend Eric dropped by and made off with some WD-40 (among other things). Hannah got an activity center with enough buttons to keep her occupied for a while, and Vivian also got a decoy present to distract her from the real one hiding around the corner (a Nintendo Wii marked for Hannah).
We finished off the evening with a giant Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for the six of us. Once our family recovers from a series of colds we’ll have to get an early start on our New Year’s Resolution and hit the Y to work off some of the Christmas goodness we’ve been enjoying. And by goodness I mean fudge. Lots of it.
… and we feel fine. Part of the reason for that is we invited a bunch of our mutual friends over to celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar and civilization as we know it. We invited everyone to bring along whatever food and drink they’d like to indulge in for their last day on earth, so we had shrimp cocktails with champagne, pigs in blankets, cookies, and everything else you can imagine (including homemade egg nog from Phil and Jen). We played an insanely silly game of “Encore,” which required us to name endless series of songs containing a word chosen from a deck of cards. I think we could have let Jen and Jessica do most of the guessing. My brothers even stopped by to join us, and we had a pre-Christmas gift exchange before calling it a night.
You also might have heard about a line of snowstorms that hit the midwest over the past week — we went from being green and soggy to having a white Christmas after all. That was good news for Hannah, because she got to put on her snow clothes and go outside to experience snow for the first time in her life (and just in time for her 13-month birthday). She seemed to enjoy it, though she discovered quickly that walking in snow wasn’t going to be as easy as toddling around on the driveway. This was also the first time she’s ever walked outside.
On Sunday, Vivian and I celebrated our First Date anniversary, commemorating the night six years ago when I took her out for the first time to the French Cafe (completely by accident — La Casa Pizza was unexpectedly bursting at the seams and didn’t take reservations). We went to see the Hobbit at the Twin Creek theater, which was a very decent film, albeit very long and padded with extra scenes. (Remember the “extended” versions of the Lord of the Rings films? It was like that times two.)
Afterward, we headed up to Benson and had a dinner of tapas at España, making use of an about-to-expire coupon. I had a decent margarita and we both filled up on an assortment of tiny dishes served family-style: fried cheese, blue cheese stuffed mushrooms, Picadillo de Carne, Flamenquines, and seviche. Afterward, per tradition, we made our way down to the Old Market and braved a few blocks of freezing cold to get some egg nog fudge from the Old Market Candy Shop.
Next stop: Christmas!
Christmastime is almost here, and that means gathering with friends for warm, cozy food and fun together. Eric and Ben had their fifth annual Chili Throwdown in the Nothnagel basement, and it seems to have been gathering a serious crowd of contenders over the years, with a vast amount of chili, non-chilis, and desserts to taste-test. The winners this year were Joe Ortiz for his “big sausage,” Sarah Adair for her cheesecake, and then Adri, Julia, and C.J. for their chili (third, second, and first place, respectively). Of course, there was also quite a bit of dancing afterward to burn off some of what we’d all been taste-testing, and Hannah shared her adorableness until bedtime.
On the following Saturday, Jenny and Libby had their annual Christmas party at their apartment. We had hors d’eourves and an unhealthy amount of Christmas goodies together (and salad from Eric. The heck?) After getting all sugared up, we participated in some lively Christmas-themed charades together and a white elephant gift exchange. Hannah was on hand as well, dressed up as a Santa Baby and having way too much fun with a pair of nunchunks.
Christmas is almost here! I hope we’re ready.
Vivian and I have been getting into the Christmas spirit over the past week, mostly in the form of decorating. On Sunday last week, we had a “soup potluck” at church and then spent the afternoon decorating inside. We had the traditional (artificial) poinsettias and Christmas tree, and I got to participate by changing a flat on Vivian’s car, just in time to figure out that we don’t have a jack.
At home, we put up our own artificial Christmas tree (borrowed from Vivian’s mom and dad). We’ve had a real tree for the last couple of years, but we’ve learned that Hannah tends to eat pretty much anything she finds on the floor, so we opted for her not to have a diet of pine needles this season. I also made like Clark Griswold and put up some Christmas lights on the house for the very first time. We don’t have an actual exterior plug on our house, but I found an outlet adapter for a light socket that worked just as well.
One last, exciting bit of news: Hannah has been moving quickly from crawling to toddling, and we captured the moment we’re dubbing as her official first steps. As you can tell, she’s quite capable now not only of walking but of hamming it up for the camera.