Monthly Archives: July 2015

Scratching the Seven-Year Itch

Has it really been seven years already? It seems like just yesterday Vivian and I were saying our vows down at Twin Valley Church together with all our friends and family in attendance. Since our anniversary fell on a Sunday this year, it seemed appropriate to stop back at the little church where it all began for a brief blessing by Pastor Drew before starting our fun day together.

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We kicked things off with a breakfast of ricotta pancakes down at Amato’s, and then we drove up to Fremont to check out the Splash Station we’d seen driving by every time we went camping at Fremont Lakes. It was a modest little water park with a couple slides, a wave pool, and plenty of things for kids — ideal for a return trip with Hannah and Aaron if we ever go camping in Fremont again (and I expect we will).

We got some ice cream down at Zesto’s and then decided to drop by the Fremont Lakes just for the heck of it. We got to splash around in some decidedly non-chlorinated water, and I got the surprise of being nibbled on multiple times by something swimming in the water with us.

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We headed on back to Omaha for dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack that evening, sharing a lobster steam pot for two and a dish of seafood appetizers. We also exchanged our appropriately-themed anniversary gifts. Vivian gave me a new coffee mug with copper print on it and a pair of wool gloves with removable fingertips (for using my smart phone). I gave Vivian a small copper rose and — of course — the latest in my series of Anniversary Comics. Every year, I find ways to fit more and more images into a single piece of paper, thoroughly covering all the fun things we (and our kids) got to do during our seventh year of matrimony.

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We got to have a bit more fun even after our anniversary. On Monday, Hannah and Aaron got to come to Stinson Park for a picnic lunch, cupcakes from Jones Bros., and some quality time splashing about in the fountains. I brought a change of clothes again so I could get wet with them before returning to work.

Then on Wednesday, my folks treated us to a dinner of rib-eye steaks and spumoni at Cascio’s. It’s one of several “Italian” steakhouses in Omaha, and very similar to the experience we had at Mister C’s, Venice Inn, Piccolo’s, and Johnny’s Cafe (and certainly worth the visit).

Happy Anniversary, sweetie! I can’t wait to see what our eighth year together has in store for us.

Candidates, a Riverboat, and a Wedding

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One of the benefits of living near the Iowa border is being able to cross over every four years to meet a couple of the two dozen people running for President of the United States. This week, I got to shake hands with Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, who dropped by on Saturday and Friday, respectively. I enjoy being able to say I met candidates in person before voting for them. Rubio met with a cluster of supporters at Uncle Buck’s just off the Interstate, suffering from a bit of a cough and malfunctioning mike, but he stayed around afterward to shake hands and meet just about everybody afterward.

Scott Walker had about twice as many people crammed into a steamy meeting room at the HyVee on Broadway, but he somehow seemed quite refreshed and ready to meet people both upstairs and downstairs in the cafeteria afterward, where the spillover crowd had been redirected. I’d been following Walker since his battle with union thugs up in Madison made headlines back in 2010, and his stance on school choice is appealing for me, as I’d like to get Hannah out of the current district we’re stuck in. I still haven’t decided who to vote for — and I have over a dozen candidates to meet before I do. I wouldn’t even write off shaking hands with a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, though I’d probably get roped off if I tried. (I know they’d try to lasso this guy, who keeps showing up at events like these.)

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On Friday evening, Jack treated Donna, Vivian and me to dinner on the River City Star for Donna’s birthday. It was quite steamy and in the 90s all day long, but we still enjoyed dinner together and got some fresh air on the upper deck as we were taken up and down the Missouri River for an hour or two as the sun slowly set. We even had some live music buy a one-man band playing a steel drum and some kind of electric clarinet (I think).

I suggested getting ice cream at Ted & Wally’s afterward, but I could only imagine what the line would look like (and the parking) on a hot Friday night in downtown Omaha, so we settled for lemon cheesecake back at Jack and Donna’s house, courtesy of Vivian.

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On Saturday, we went to Anne and Brandon’s wedding. They had a ceremony at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, which was thankfully brief, as we had two squirmy kids to hold onto as the couple said their vows. Hannah even announced loud enough for the whole room to hear, “I want to get married!” Hannah got a few minutes to rock out in the children’s area before we said goodbye to the happy couple. They came right back for pictures, of course, before we all moved along to the reception up at Christ the King Catholic Church.

We had dinner and cake with our gang of friends, and then we had dancing with live music from a polka band. Brandon turned out to be quite the dancer, doing some kind of routine with his mom to various songs, including music from Super Mario Bros. I’ve never really learned how to polka, but that didn’t stop me from pretending with Hannah and Aaron as we shuffled about in a circle. It was a relatively late night for the kids, as Hannah enjoyed running in circles with the other little ones in attendance, though Aaron crashed all on his own around eight. We eventually headed home about an hour later, ready to turn in early in anticipation of a long, fun-filled anniversary date the next day.

Kimchi burgers

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The heat is on again, with temperatures climbing back into the summery 90s and feeling more like July is supposed to. We did have one lovely cool day last week and took the kids down to Haworth Park to enjoy. Aaron got to crawl around in clover and try out a slide for the first time, and Hannah got to hang out in her own “Gazebo House.” We last visited this park two years ago, when it was still mostly devastated from the flood of 2011. It’s been improved quite a bit since then, but nothing like the glory days when we had our Comic Genesis picnic here in 2010. How’s that for reminiscing?

Then on Friday, we had our foodie friends Phil and Jen over to have some burgers out on the deck. Apparently bacon, egg, and kimchi are the perfect combination of toppings for a hamburger. (Just be sure not to wear anything white.) The oppressive July heat was already setting in, so we spent the rest of the evening inside watching the crazy surreal black comedy film Rubber.

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On Sunday afternoon, Aaron got dangerously close to taking his first steps, and then he spent an hour or two with Hannah splashing about in the water table on our deck. Then on Monday, we had a family picnic at Stinson park for lunch. Jones Bros. had a special on ice cream cones, and then the kids got to run about in the fountains for a little while before Hannah went off to a dentist appointment (where she got her teeth cleaned like a champ).

On Tuesday, I got a day all to myself and spent it having lunch with my dad at Louie M’s Burger Lust and puttering around the house. I found a $50 gift card just for cleaning out my car. All in a day’s work!

Celebrating the Rebellion

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Oh my! Another Fourth of July! One nice thing about The Fourth falling on a Saturday is that we get a full three-day weekend to set off explosions before going back to work on Monday. On Friday night, we invited a cluster of our friends over to grill out on the deck, and then we proceeded to the driveway to shoot off some Roman candles, sparklers, a giant flaming sword, and an assortment of other heavy artillery to celebrate America’s birthday. Hannah and Aaron were up to say hello to most of our friends, but they were both asleep by the time the sun went down (and somehow managed to sleep through everything).

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On Saturday, Vivian and I took the kids up to Ralston to sit and watch their Fourth of July parade, an event we’d danced in several years before but now just enjoyed watching. Hannah (and Aaron) were able to get a pony ride in before the parade kicked off. There was the usual assortment of politicians, including a couple vying for Lee Terry’s old seat, frightening clowns, Shriners, and Star Wars cos-players. Hannah and Aaron seemed to enjoy the parade, particularly the candy and popsicles getting handed out to spectators.

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Then that evening, we went to my parents’ house for dinner with then, Vivian’s folks, and Uncle Jonny. My dad smoked some barbecue ribs (which Aaron got to try for the first time), Jonny made some homemade salsa, and Vivian put together a lovely red, white, and blue cheesecake. She was quite proud of how the layers all stayed separated. After the sun went down, we went outside to set off some fireworks, including a neat little bag I got just for Hannah. She seemed to enjoy the snaps, the fountains, and we even had a few minutes of fun with sparklers, at least until one burned a hole in Grandpa’s shirt.

In the end, it was another fairly successful Independence Day. I’m also quite glad the rain held off until Monday, when we got to grab “Shark Week” cupcakes at Jones Bros an have pizza at Godfather’s for lunch in the midst of getting soaked.

I Love Rock and Roll

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It was another fun-filled weekend here in Omaha, once that require me taking a whole day off in order to enjoy it properly. The fun started on Friday, when Vivian and I put on sunscreen took the kids on down to Memorial Park for the annual Bank of the West Celebrated America concert. This year, they brought in Eddie Money and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts to fill the jam-packed park with rocking music I remembered from the 80s. We invited the Dougans and Jon Paper to share a blanket with us as we most kept wrangling the kids in-between photo sessions with the band. Our friend Jessica — on duty with KPTM — also stopped by to do an actual TV interview with me.

This was Hannah’s third concert at Memorial Park, and the third (and final) time she’s got to wear her cute “peace” outfit. It was also the first time Aaron got to see real fireworks, and it was cute to see his staring in awe and trying to touch them by reaching out his hand. The emcee claimed it was twice as long as usual, but it sure didn’t seem like it. I’m not complaining though — it was the only way to end the evening with a bang!

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On Saturday night, we made a second trip down to Elmwood Park to enjoy another evening of Shakespeare on the Green, this time to see the tragedy Othello. We forewent the Shakespearean cos-play this time, but we did sit in on a panel discussion with the director and some of the cast for a brief chat about the swordplay on stage. It was also bring-your-pet night, so the emcee handed out a few prizes for some animals who dressed up for the evening.

We enjoyed some vittles with Phil and Jen and Jon on our blanket and opened a bottle of wine (or two) before the show got started. The show itself was terrific, of course, and it had many of the same cast members of As You Like It playing different roles (and fighting with swords).

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We had some more theatrical fun the next day with Hannah down at The Rose theater. Our mutual friend Lisa won a set of four tickets and invited us to see Mary Poppins. It was a delightful production that seemed to captivate Hannah, and she managed to sit (mostly) still for the two or some hour performance. A few of the actors came out for some Q&A after the show, and we even got to have autographs upstairs with a few of the cast members.

I was impressed with the lovely old theater, which still carried much of the original 1920s charm it had when it was built as the Spanish-style “Riveria.” They also were very kid-friendly, with a “wiggle room” with its own simulcast of the play, so parents could continue to watch the show even if their kids needed to get up and run around.