Monthly Archives: June 2015

All the World’s a Stage

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Summer’s almost here, and that means lots of hot and humid days. Over the lunch hour on Friday, Vivian and Lexi brought our cluster of kids down to Seymour Smith Park at 72nd and Harrison for an hour or two in the sun with the “all play” splash park. Hannah had visited last year, and now Aaron was big enough to crawl around and get a little wet. Of course, he and August also crawled around the interactive playground area as well, getting plenty of sun in-between coatings of sun screen.

Then on Saturday afternoon, we dropped by the Lenart house to give Kara a surprise (40th) birthday party with a bunch of our mutual friends.

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On Saturday evening, we made our annual trip down to Elmwood Park for an evening with Shakespeare in the Park, courtesy of Nebraska Shakespeare. I came down early to spread out a big mesh floor so a dozen or so of us could spread out to enjoy the show with all the vittles we brought. We also spent a good amount of time before the show playing dress up with the variety of accouterments (and weaponry) available at the dress-up tent. I think in a year or two Hannah’s going to be old enough to join the rest of us kids in our medieval play.

Speaking of play, the production of As You Like It was very good as well. I’d knew next to nothing about the play myself when we arrived, but Vivian and I were able to follow along with the plot fairly easily. I think once you’ve seen a few Shakespearean Comedies, you start to get the gist of them — gender-bending characters, wrestling matches, foolish comic relief and several weddings at the end to wrap things up. The Company added their own touches with animal puppetry and some Celtic music of sorts, giving us a reason to have a Hoedown at the end of the show.

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On Sunday was Father’s Day, and once again we had three dads in attendance. The ladies made us men-folk a batch of flatiron steaks with potato and fruit salads. Hannah got to showcase her artistic talents via some gift bags and a nice little photo frame of “dad” for me. Mostly, it was a nice, lazy Sunday, one I was grateful to have to do nothing at all in particular other than eat and visit with the family, which was downright lovely.

Thank you, Vivian, for making me feel so loved, and thanks Dad for being such a good example for me as a dad myself.

The Birthday Boy

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On Wednesday, I finally dropped by Spielbound — Omaha’s one-and-only Board Game Cafe — for the first time with a cluster of folks from AIGA. Vivian and I are acquaintances of Kaleb and the gang who dreamed up the place, and we were also one of the many Kickstarter backers who got the place up and running last year, so I thought it was time to stop by and check it out.

It was every bit the Hipster Hangout I had been expecting, with local beer from Brickway and Cherry Mead from Moonstruck on tap, and thousands of games to go around. I’m not really a board game person, since it seems every game shown to me takes about an hour to explain and several more to complete. We did find a copy of Pandemic, which I’d played once with Vort and Michelle in Kansas City years ago. It’s a game where all the players play cooperatively against the game mechanics, so explaining the rules as you play is perfectly fine. I also threw in a copy of Monty Python Fluxx, before calling it a night.

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On Thursday, our little boy Aaron turned one year old! We had a bigger event planned for him on Saturday, but we invited the grandparents over (and Uncle Jonny) to watch Aaron open a few presents and have some cake and ice cream for the very first time. His big present was a large, plastic water table, which finally gave Aaron a place to splash happily about other than the toilet.

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On Friday night, the Sumtur Amphitheater had its first free Friday night movie of the season — Big Hero Six. None of us has seen the movie before, but Vivian and I were able to enjoy it despite wrangling two kids and enduring a brief, passing shower. A handful of our usual friends came by to watch the movie with us in the drizzle. There was also a Pink Floyd cover band (aptly named Floyd) that got up to play a few songs before the show started.

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Saturday was Aaron’s big day, of course. We nabbed a picnic shelter at Washington Park in Olde Town Bellevue and got a couple barbecues going to celebrate our little boy’s first birthday. Both grandmas and grandpas were there, of course, as well as a cluster of Aaron and Hannah’s little friends, a nice cross-section of people who would otherwise never meet. Aaron had fun with a pinwheel from Lisa as the bigger kids climbed on the swings, slides, and seesaw, easily having fun without the aid of electronic toys. Jack manned the grill, and Donna baked a big, beautiful Winnie the Pooh cake, which Aaron’s enjoyed so much that he wound up literally licking the plate clean afterward.

I still can’t believe it’s been a year since we took our little boy home from the hospital, but it was great to celebrate with so many of our good friends. Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Little Red Wagon

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Vivian and I got to spend a little more quality time with the kids over the weekend after having a long, three-day weekend with just grown-ups. On Friday, Vivian and Grammy took them over to the Children’s Museum to see the new Lego exhibit, so I stopped by as they had a pretzel and rode on the carousel and the train. There was also some kind of Princess event downstairs that involved lots of foam falling from the ceiling.

On Saturday, Hannah and Aaron went to Toni’s house to celebrate her grandson’s seventh birthday. Parties at Toni’s house usually involve a bounce-house, so both our kids got to have a little time hopping around in a giant castle and burn off some energy in the afternoon.

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On Sunday, we had another potluck luncheon at Twin Valley Church and then hosted a baby shower for Kelly, who’s expecting a girl very shortly. This particular baby was very much a surprise, as Kelly had given up on having a second child many years ago (and now will have a ten-year-old boy and a baby girl).

That afternoon, I finished assembling a new red wagon we got to tow around our two kids, and I was able to take them on a nice little walk over to Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s house, completely  on a whim. It’s so nice to have them so close by!

Wedding in Iowa Falls

Vivian and I just got finished with a long, enjoyable weekend celebrating the long-expected wedding of our two friends Jenny and Kody up in Iowa Falls. (And it was a weekend spent mostly without the kids — hooray for grown-up time!)

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The long weekend started on Thursday evening, where we took Hannah and Aaron out to a “Throwback Thursday” concert at Loess Fest. Jessica and her housemate Amanda joined us on a blanket as the opening act, Red Delicious, played some 80s cover songs before Journey Recaptured took the stage. I’d heard some rave reviews of this band after they performed at Stinson Park last year, and they were very good. Hannah and Aaron were more interested in playing around on the great lawn, but it was good just to get outside with them before our long trip.

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On Friday morning, Grammy came to watch the kids for the weekend, and Vivian and I headed off to Iowa. We stopped in Des Moines at Zombie Burger, where I ate a mess of fried insanity called Better Off Ched, which included slabs of fried mac and cheese for a bun.

We continued on to Iowa Falls up north, a quaint little town where Kody grew up. We met up with our cluster of friends at Immanuel Lutheran Church for a wedding rehearsal, and we also got to meet the Pastor of the church and Kody’s cluster of groomsmen and family members — including his mom who made everyone lasagna for dinner. Kody and Jenny passed around gifts for the wedding party, which included make-up bags for the ladies and such novelties as driftwood keg tap handles for the guys (OK, one guy).

We finished off the evening grabbing some last-minute items at Walmart as a blazing sunset happened, and then we made use of the AmericInn hot tub as Jenny and Kody told embarrassing stories over beer in the party room.

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The next morning was a blur of getting ready, starting at the Trends hair salon down the street, where the girls all got their hair done. A killed some time snapping pictures of the scenic little town and some geese passing by. The girls continued prepping for the wedding at the church with make-up and curling irons, while the guys basically threw on their suits and called it good. Jenny got to “reveal” her dress to Kody in a painstakingly posed shoot by the photographer before we headed inside for a few hours worth of formal portraits of the bride, groom, and wedding party.

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Eventually, of course, we had the actual wedding ceremony itself. Friends and family members started pouring into the church around three as the bride and groom went into hiding (for selfies). The church was eventually filled up before the wedding procession came down the aisle, ending with the bride and groom. One pastor read some scripture, another delivered a short sermon, and then came the vows, an exchange of rings, lighting of a candle, a pre-recorded song by Kody, and at least three prayers/blessings before there was a sudden and unprompted kiss that concluded the service.

The bride and groom dismissed everyone row-by-row before signing their wedding certificate and making their grand exit of the church to their heavily-decorated (with condoms) getaway car. They also had two bikes strapped to the roof, one of which was a wedding present for Jenny that Kody had presented to her earlier — giving them multiple means of making their getaway.

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Of course, we couldn’t go to the reception without one more photo shoot down at Assembly Park. With the wedding party still dressed and hair all done, we got some photos on the playground, by a bridge, walking down a path, and of course jumping into the air. Kody was a bit preoccupied with getting back to the food, but the rest of us reminded him that this was pretty much the only time ever we’d be getting these snapshots. The barbecued ham could wait a bit.

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Finally came the long and happy reception down at Ellsworth Community College, with cake, cupcakes, dinner, and toasts, all followed up with the standard lineup of Wedding Reception dances — the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, dollar dances, and the Cupid Shuffle. Bouquets and garters were also tossed.

As videographer-by-default, I stuck around until the very end so I could capture the bride and groom taking off when they finally made their exit at 11:30 — after much prompting by me that they could leave the clean-up to everyone else and get on with their wedding night.

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Vivian and I were so tired the next morning that we slept way past the continental breakfast at the Super 8, which ended at nine o’clock. As such, we made our way down to the Red Rooster Grill for some American-style diner food before heading out of town.

We decided to tour the giant Salisbury House in Des Moines with Lisa during the afternoon — the dream house of cosmetics magnate Carl Weeks designed after the King’s House in Salisbury, England. It was a gorgeous house built to suit a true anglophile (with splashes of French decor), and housed amazing pieces of artwork including one of only four Van Dyck paintings by in the United States. It was a lovely day, perfect for wandering the gardens afterward and then having an outdoor dinner at Zombie Burger (again). Lisa came with us to try a trailer trash burger and share a giant basket of blue cheese fries before heading home.

So thus ended a lovely weekend getaway for Vivian and me, full of quality adult time without having to wrangle our two kids. Of course, we did spend some time with them at the park the day after we arrived home. They seemed to miss us. Congratulations, Jenny and Kody, and thanks for giving us an excuse to a have a lovely weekend with you and all of our friends.