Vivian and I have been spending some quality time with “the folks” over the past week or two. Last week, Jack and Donna celebrated their wedding anniversary, so Vivian and I took them out to Cheeseburger in Paradise at Village Pointe and then saw the Clash of the Comics at the Funny Bone across the street. They had a handful of local comedians each performing five minute routines for us on stage, and the emcee just happened to be the “Sheboygan Sausage” guy we saw at a GAMe comedy event four years ago. We had a good time, though I got a bit annoyed when the Funny Bone wanted to charge nearly double the price for using a credit card and the only ATM at the entire mall was out of order. They also had a two-item minimum for everyone attending, so plan on eating and drinking at the show if you ever stop by.
A few days later, my parents arrived from North Carolina. They’re apparently homeless now, since they just sold their house and don’t currently have one to move into yet. They’re working with Sean Maloy, the Realtor who sold us out house back in 2009, and staying in our basement in the meantime. As such, as have a fairly full house, but that means that we get more free babysitting in exchange, allowing Vivian and me to drive to Village Inn and have pie and coffee on a whim. In other news, we had a family night with Dennis and Kara on Saturday, having chili at their place and introducing Hannah to their new dog, Brandi III. It was the first time Hannah had encountered a rambunctious animal that doesn’t know it’s not polite to jump all over a two-year-old.
In the meantime, we’re going to have a full house as my folks find a place to live here in Nebraska. It’s going to be different having all four grandparents around to drop in for dinner.
The weather in Nebraska is hardly consistent or predictable, but while parts of the south are struggling to deal with an inch or two of snow, we in Nebraska have been enjoying what little snow we got this season before it vaporizes. On Thursday last week, we finally got Hannah into her snow pants so she could try throwing her first snowball, and we even rolled up a snowman with her to place on the front lawn. We were fresh out of coal and had to make do with some cherry tomatoes and a grape (which Hannah ate). It was good to let her experience some of the joy of snow before spring comes on too quickly.
That evening, Grammy and Papa babysat Hannah as Vivian and I went off to enjoy some Valentine’s Eve together. We dropped by the Claim House in midtown Omaha, where I’d brought a Groupon I had hoped to use for a noontime date with Vivian. Then they stopped serving lunch, so we were left to have a proper date night together. We both ordered the meatloaf, which was what we had for dinner on our first Valentine’s Day seven years earlier. It seemed appropriate.
Afterward, we took a drive up to Ted & Wally’s for ice cream before returning home.
Vivian and I both had some surprised rolled up our sleeves for V-Day 2014. I kicked it off in the morning by whipping up some heart-shaped red velvet pancakes for a Valentine’s breakfast for us. Hannah especially seemed to like them. Then at lunchtime, I drove all the way home so I could drop off some special Valentine gift baskets for my two special ladies. I had also grabbed some lunch for us, but Vivian had actually driven all the way to my office to surprise me there at the exact same time! We eventually met up at my office, where we got to have a nice lunch at my desk as Hannah watched Winnie the Pooh.
That evening, we all went out to Swine Dining in Bellevue, which is an amazing barbecue “joint,” and though not the most romantic place to eat certainly had some delicious smoke ribs (which Hannah seemed to like as well).
Hannah got to romp in the snow a bit more before it all melted away. On Sunday afternoon, I took her down to the park in her snow pants, and she decided splashing in puddles was better than stomping about in the white stuff. We had some more fun on Monday over lunch as we went to Rockbrook Park to take Hannah sledding for the very first time.
Every year around Valentine’s Day, Twin Valley Church hosts some kind of themed party for the congregation. One year it was a Wild West party, another year it was a murder mystery. This time around, Vivian and I were asked to help host, so we picked a Fabulous 50s theme this time around. We put together some tasty 50s-era food to go along with dinner, such as loose-meat sandwiches, fancy hors d’oeuvres, and ice cream sodas. The Rietjens, Hunters, and Kuemichels came by to help us kick things off with a hula hoop contest and bubble gum blowing contest.
Then afterward, our special guests Dan Wondra and Sara Pirtle joined us for a swing dancing lesson! It was fun to introduce to our church friends the basic jitterbug dance that brought Vivian and me together a few years ago, and Dan and Sara did a great job walking everyone through a basic lesson of single-time east coast swing. It was also good just to catch up with a few of our busy Jitterbug friends. Dan seems to know every single venue for potential swing dancing in Omaha, from the Sokol to the VFW at 90th and Fort to random locations such as Catholic fundraisers and dive bars in Papillion, one of which he and Sara crashed shortly after our party was over.
Over the month of January, Vivian returned temporarily to her job at Friendship Program to fill in for a few co-workers who have left in the past few months. She’s been working part-time during the day while Grammy and Papa watched Hannah at home. Her last day was on Friday, so we celebrated by dropping by the Pitch pizzeria in Dundee for a lunch of cheese pizza and truffle fries.
That evening, we had Jack and Donna over and had a dinner of roast pork shoulder to thank them for filling in over the past month.
We got a little dusting of snow on Friday night, and on Saturday we decided to have some fun in the great indoors by getting a membership to the Omaha Children’s Museum downtown. Hannah had first visited the museum back when she was about a month old, and she went by once after that, but Vivian and I thought she was old enough now for a full-time membership. We got to see a bubble show, look at some balls shooting through pneumatic tubes, play some music, shop in the play grocery store, and play with some of the interactive farm animals. The upstairs traveling display was called “Things That Go,” so Hannah also got to test drive a tricycle, explore an ambulance, and ride on a bus before we called it a day.