- In January, we rang in the New Year with black-eyed peas and had dinner at the Kuemichels’ new house. He had an hors d’eourves party, went on a sushi date, and Hannah played with her friends outside.
- In February, we got a membership at the Children’s Museum, we had a Nifty-Fifties Party at church, and we had some meatloaf and ribs for Valentine’s Day. Hannah also made her first snowman and got to go to the circus. My parents also moved back to Nebraska after more than a decade in North Carolina.
- In March, we had a pink and blue party and learned we’ll be having a boy in June! We went to Jitterbugs’ Night Out (twice), dropped in on one of Kaleb’s Game Nights, attended a fish fry, a St. Patrick’s Party, and wished Little Matthew Happy Birthday. I went with Hannah to mud pies, took Vivian out to Big Mama’s Kitchen, and also brought Hannah to the Benson Library to meet Clifford (among other people). Mom and dad also provided free babysitting until they bought a house, and then we took them to Venice Inn to celebrate.
- In April, we ended lent with pasta at St. Pius X, we grilled out with Jack and Donna, had a freak snow, and took Hannah to her first Easter Egg Hunt. We had Easter dinner with all four grandparents for the first time and went to Venice Inn a couple times more to say goodbye. Gifford Farm got threatened by a fire while Keystone
DrugsHomecare actually burned down. I also met Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute while the Mills had another baby.
- In May, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at the tail end of the parade and then flew a kite with grandpa, Hannah painted a cup for Mother’s Day and played in some mud. We visited the Lauritzen Gardens with grandpa and grandma Johnson, raided Wohlner’s before they closed, attended JNO and Lindy in the Park, saw Frozen at the Sumtur, saw a concert with our friends at Stinson Park and then saw Loverboy, The Guess Who, and Three Dog Night at Loessfest.
- In June, Hannah helped make a pizza and got to play in some sand. We also got to attend Shakespeare on the Green and see Uncle Kracker, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, and Blues Traveler at Memorial Park. Best of all, of course, we welcomed our son Aaron Edward into the world.
- In July, we celebrated the Fourth with burgers and fireworks at our house, a parade, and barbecue ribs with the family. We went to Louisville Lake with Libby and friends and then went to Lincoln to celebrate our anniversary with flowers, a snake, and selfies. Eric also had a hot, hot birthday, and Vivian and I went to the ballpark for hot dogs.
- In August, Tamra had a giant Jenga birthday, we went to the Sumtur twice more, we had a baby shower at work, and we celebrated my birthday in Lincoln with pizza, wine-tasting, and hot dogs. We also went to Cedar Rapids for a big family reunion celebrating my Uncle Ben and Aunt Carol’s 50th wedding anniversary.
- In September, my folks took us to Johnny’s Cafe for a belated birthday. Vivian and I spent a day at Fun Plex, Laughed Our Way to a Better Marriage™, and took Grammy and Hannah to see a balloon glow. We also attended the Applejack Festival, had a birthday by the lake with Venche, visited Gifford Farm, and dropped by the Eagle’s Lodge once or twice. We even did some painting and camping for Vivian’s birthday.
- In October, we visited the Farmer’s Market, went on a hayrack ride, and visited Vala’s with our friends. We went to Cedar Rapids for a family wedding with some fall fun in the Amana Colonies afterward. We also participated in every aspect of Halloween, from Trunk-or-Treat at the Y, to Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood (with horses), and dropping by Jitterbugs Night Out. We also had Aaron dedicated at our church with a bunch of family and friends in attendance.
- In November, we got a big, new dining room table to make it easier to celebrate Thanksgiving. We got to visit the Zoo for free with Hannah, played a bit in a light dusting of snow, and celebrated Hannah’s third birthday. We also went see Santa and the tree-lighting at the Durham, per tradition.
- In December, we celebrated Christmas with all four grandparents (and Uncle Jonny) for the very first time. We hosted a smashing party with with gifts and games at our house, checked out some Christmas Lights, Aaron looked cute in his new blue suit, and we had the traditional Christmas Eve service at Twin Valley Church. We also took my folks to the Children’s museum and rang in the new year at the library and at our house with a Cheese Fondue (and football).
Christmas has come and gone once again, and even though our season has been as busy and packed as ever this year. Vivian and I celebrated our eighth first date anniversary down at J’s on Jackson in the old market, enjoying the Seafood Pappardelle Pasta and Beef Tip Au Poivre and then sampling some of the drinks at the Brickway brewery across the street. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it down to the Old Market Candy Shop for fudge before they closed at nine, so I had to make my way back there again the next day.
It feels like the Holiday Spirit left a little too quickly. Still, this was a very special Christmas, because it was our first with both our children (and Aaron’s first-ever), and also our first with all four grandparents present and accounted for!
We decided this year to have “Christmas Dinner” on Christmas Eve. That meant bringing the grandparents over a little early to prepare the roast beef, potatoes, stuffing, Taber Salad, and all the trimmings for us to enjoy by five o’clock. The office went dark and quiet around one o’clock, so I took off early to grab some groceries before we got the Christmas feasting underway, and we kicked off the evening with a toast with Martinelli’s in Red Solo Cup Goblets.
Shortly thereafter, we went to Twin Valley Church for their candlelight Christmas Eve service. There were, unfortunately, no adorable kids up front in nativity costumes as there had been in several Christmases past. Still, I was able to help put together a humble presentation of scripture, songs, and YouTube video. Of course, there was also the obligatory singing of Silent Night with candles lit on all sides. Our old friend Aunt Jessica was also back from North Carolina for the holidays, so I got a few quick photos of her with her extended family.
Christmas morning was as fun as ever, with Hannah up at the crack of 6:30 to see what Santa brought her. We had a dollhouse and any number of My Little Ponies and plush toys lurking about underneath the tree. I made up some horribly sweet Belgian Waffles for a Christmas breakfast, which we ate with strawberries before opening the Grown-Up presents. I got a few ornaments, socks, and some cotton shorts. Vivian also surprised my stockings off with a SmartThings Hub and light switch, enabling me to do such awesome things as dim the Dining Room chandelier from my phone. I’ve been itching to do some home automation with the power of WiFi, so naturally Donna told Vivian, “You’ve created a monster!”
On Christmas Evening, the weather (45 degrees and sunny) was nice enough to warrant a walk for me and Hannah over to my parents’ house a block over. Then we got to spend the evening with all four grandparents and even Uncle Jonny. We spent a little while opening up our stockings and pulling out any number of “stuffers,” one of which included a toaster oven for Vivian. Then we had our “traditional” dinner of frozen pizza with mom and dad before breaking out the coffee and pie and having a rousing game of Balderdash to finish off Christmas.
Now we’ve gone back to plain old gray-and-dreary winter so quickly that I wish we could let the holiday linger just a bit longer, even if it means hearing Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time once more. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
It’s the week before Christmas once again, and that means having one big festive Christmas Party at our house with Jenny and a jolly cluster of our mutual friends! A few of us had a couple babies in tow, of course. We put Hannah to bed early, but Aaron got to stay up late and flirt with little Lauren a bit before going down for a sugar-plum dream or two. Per tradition, we had a White Elephant gift exchange organized by Jenny. I got a child-sized life jacket, of all things, which may come in useful a few years from now when Hannah’s old enough to go canoeing. Other noteworthy items were an Irish pillow, a furry lamp of sorts, an old comic book of mine, and a Nerf Crossbow — yes, a freaking crossbow!
Once the gifts were all opened and we were plenty sugared up from Christmas Cookies, we headed downstairs to take Vivian’s copy of Just Dance 4 for a whirl. We had enough Wii Remotes to go around and look thoroughly ridiculous as we danced about to different songs. Some of the moves were questionable, and the ceiling fan got knocked a couple times, but it was all fun (and good exercise, I think). We finished off the night with a little Apples to Apples, which gave us the chance to use the card-table side of our convertible Foosball Coffee Table for the first time ever.
Next stop: Christmas!
Another busy Christmas season is underway! Last weekend, we decided to get into the spirit by taking Hannah and Aaron out to look at Christmas lights. One of the best locations in Omaha is the posh Linden Estates neighborhood near 144th and Blondo. Hannah got into the spirit yelling “Wow!” at almost every display, and it was even warm enough to get out for a closer look at some of the glowing trees down on Nicholas St. At least three tour buses passed us along the way, as well as a few other cars and even a couple limos, all gawking at the illuminated festivity around us.
The middle of the week, we also celebrated my parents’ birthdays (December 8th and 10th) together for the first time in twelve years. Vivian made a delicious cherry cordial cheesecake that we ate shortly after opening presents. My folks had put up a bunch of the Christmas decorations I’d grown up with, including our Hummel nativity set and the artificial Christmas tree my dad had bought just after getting thoroughly frustrated with the real one he’d bought for my first Christmas. It’s amazing how ting that tree looks after all these years (and how big the incandescent bulbs are compared to today’s tiny LEDs). I’m reminded again and again how nice it is to have the folks so close to home.
Vivian and I got to enjoy another Christmas party with the office on Saturday, and now we’re busy cleaning up for a party of our own next week. In addition, we’re shopping for presents and just got done putting together our Christmas letter, complete with a fresh Christmas photo taken on Sunday. Aaron got to wear his cute little blue suit, which we’re hoping still fits him on Christmas Eve!
We’ve just had another lovely, long Thanksgiving weekend and officially kicked off the Christmas season. On Turkey Day, we got to break in our new dining room table, an early Christmas gift from Grammy and Pop-Pop (we even had to add a couple extra leaves). All four grandparents were back again to join us along with Uncle Jonny, and we got to have the classic Thanksgiving Dinner together with all the usual ingredients — turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pearl onions, and of course Taber Salad. Vivian kicked off the morning watching the Macy’s Day Parade with Hannah before buttering up the turkey with Jack, and there was an MST3K marathon happening online that I got to stream through my cell phone. Hannah also got to set the table for the very first time — a milestone I hope we can follow up with such things as doing the dishes and picking up all her toys.
On Friday, after enjoying some quality time outside raking leaves, Vivian and I dropped by Union Station for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Hannah and Aaron both got to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, and we got more than a couple pictures of all of them in their new Christmas outfits. When we weren’t busy having our pictures taken, we were helping Donna and the River City Confectioners Association decorate cookies with the little ones in the east ballroom. Jack got to sit at the milk table again, and Hannah sat by his side when she wasn’t making a paper Christmas Ornament.
Back in the main hall, local Jazz singer Camille Metoyer Moten got to sing a some Christmas songs for the slowly squeezing-together crowd. Around 6:30, we had a few brief words from Mayor Jean Stothert and Dave Mangelsen (from the hobby store of the same name) before lighting up the tree. Vivian and Hannah were close enough to the stage to say hello to the Mayor as the confetti started to fall, and then the crowd stormed the stage for their own Christmas pictures as Hannah suddenly became photogenic right before we got ready to head home.
On Saturday, we got to enjoy some lovely temperatures in the 70s, and that meant taking Hannah and Aaron out to the park (in short-sleeves, no less) for some outdoor time before things became frigid again.
I also took advantage by hanging up our Christmas lights, and then we visited Trees, Shrubs & More to pick out our Christmas tree. We hauled it back home on top of the Civic and got it unwrapped and watered by nightfall.
The next day, the temperature dropped below 20 again, so we got to enjoy some warmer activities in the Great Indoors. At church, we had a soup potluck downstairs, and then we broke out the Christmas decorations to put up back upstairs. I mostly took photos as Hannah caused brief rounds of mayhem with Rachel. Back home, we brought up more of our own Christmas decorations from downstairs, which included Santasaurus, who’s been in storage since last January. I’m not sure if Hannah remembers him at all, but she greeted him the same way she did last year — by making him “talk” by moving his jaw on her own.
Let the Christmas Season begin!