Monthly Archives: May 2016

Mudpies, Tamales, and Rainbows

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The Johnson Family had some time to play in the dirt over the weekend. On Thursday, Hannah and Aaron got to play with mud down at the Fontenelle Center during Mud Pies. That included making muddy footprints, making paintings with mud, and also having frozen chocolate “mud bars” as a snack. It’s something they do every year for Mud Pies and the first time Aaron’s got to experience it himself.

Then on Saturday morning, dad and I got to do some manly work together as we fixed a couple fence posts in my yard. Spring rains and strong winds pushed our fence over to the point where we needed to re-anchor it with cement. It was a fairly simple job, but required two people to level the posts and tie them down with stakes before I poured cement at the base and cleaned them up with a makeshift trowel (i.e. stir stick). After half an hour or so — huzzah! Good as new.

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That evening, we celebrated our friend Jen’s birthday party with another culinary experience — making tamales! Phil and Jen both had corn husks, masa (corn meal with lard) and a pair of meat fillings — rabbit and pork — laid out for us to assemble. It was a surprising amount of work to make tamales, and I learned in the process how instead to make pupusas — pancakes made with the masa and meat and fried instead of steamed. We always love going to Phil and Jen’s house since we always learn something new about food when we come over.

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On Sunday afternoon, we took the kids to a piano recital for the Folken kids, who played a few songs for us and also recited a few bible verses from memory. It was a good lesson in getting the kids to sit still before hanging out afterward.

Then that evening we went by the Bellevue Christian Center for a kind of graduation ceremony for the little ones at Rainbows. It went very much like last time with the kids singing a song or two and displaying what they’ve learned this year (and flirting with boys). Hannah got to show us her collection of badges before returning her vest for the summer. Sammy is in her class and had to give Hannah a hug goodbye as she and her family will be sadly moving to Minnesota before long. All four grandparents (and Aaron) were also in attendance, at least until Hannah’s class was finished.

Wham, Bam, Franklin Graham

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Wednesday was an especially fun day for the Johnson Family as we loaded everyone up into Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s SUV and took a road trip down to Lincoln to see Franklin Graham on the Capitol steps. Franklin Graham, son of revered evangelist Billy Graham, is visiting every U.S. capitol as a part of his Decision America tour to encourage Christians in all fifty states to pray, vote, and run for office. We arrived an hour early and saved a spot for all of us to sit. Then Vivian and I took our kids inside to tour the capitol with them for the first time, which included a trip up to the very top to look down at the crowd below. Vivian and I had visited the capitol twice before in our dating years and again for our sixth anniversary, and it felt special to share the experience with our own kids now.

Back outside, the crowd grew to over 3,200 people as everyone began to wave flags and swing along with the praise team up on the steps. Rev. Graham took the stage shortly after noon to speak to the crowd and led everyone in prayer for the nation’s elected officials, as well as personal forgiveness for the nation and its people. Graham didn’t endorse any specific candidates of course, but he was insistent that everyone get out and vote, even if it means “holding your nose” to vote for the lesser of two candidates. I could only imagine who he might have meant by that.

IMG_1326We saw a couple friends in the crowd once everyone started to disperse, including our old friends Mike and Bekah, who have one more kid since we last saw them over three years ago. We also bumped into Sarah Redfield, who we hadn’t seen since her 80s party back in 2008. She’s now married, lives in Lincoln, and has two kids.

The kids got to stretch their legs a bit as the grandparents went into the Capitol to meet a state senator or two, and then we all went out to eat at my favorite pizza joint, Big Sal’s. We made a serious dent in two giant combo pizzas and then took the scenic route home via Highway 34. (For those interested, Rev. Graham went to eat at the Hog Wild BBQ Pit. I’ll have to try them next time.)

Photo of Aaron at the top comes courtesy of Franklin Graham’s Twitter Team.

Gardens and Braids

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It’s been a relatively quietly week at the Johnson House. Hannah had her last day of preschool, Vivian and I had our last sessions of BSF, and Aaron got to have his last monthly photo shoot with Hannah in their little red wagon. Meanwhile, the weather’s become increasingly gorgeous, which means more time outside tending to the yard. Over the weekend, Vivian planted some new berry bushes in the yard, as well as a new batch of tomato plants for the garden. Hannah came along to help, of course.

We also got to spend some quality time with my folks over the weekend. On Saturday night, Vivian attended Tamra’s bachelorette party, which somehow involved running an obstacle course while wearing a white dress, so I took Hannah and Aaron by to visit. Grandpa microwaved some peeps for them as they looked around the garden and got to see some robin eggs. Then on Sunday, I returned with the whole family to give the lawn a mow. Vivian braided my mom’s hair in the meantime, and then we had some pizza and Jell-O for dinner. I also taught our kids some basic exercises like push-ups and jumping jacks, which they seemed quite tickled to follow along with.

Three-Day Mother’s Day Weekend

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The Johnson Family had a lovely (and busy) little three-day weekend together, starting things off on Friday with a trip to Lauritzen Gardens. Once again it was free for National Public Gardens Day, so we went to see what blooms were out with my mom and dad and the Mills family in tow. There weren’t quite as many blooms out this year, but we had a nice time looking at the model trains, tasting some mint, and keeping the kids from drowning in the surprisingly deep fountain in the children’s area. Hannah and Aaron also got some quality time with their little friends as mommy visited with Lexi and daddy took pictures of the happy blooms that poked out to endure the sunny, 85-degree weather.

Donald Trump was also in town, but we decided not to spend all afternoon crammed into a giant hangar waiting for him to make an appearance.

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On Saturday morning, we made our annual trip to South Omaha for the Cinco de Mayo parade. It featured the usual batch of politicians, costumers, native dancers, and lassoing gauchos with the dancing horses right behind. Hannah’s attended the parade every year of her life, so it felt good to keep up the tradition. She seemed far more interested in playing with her new toy balloon than competing with all the other kids for candy, however. Aunt Jessica joined us at our spot in front of South High School to snap some pictures, and then we had some burritos from Abelardo’s for lunch afterward.

That evening, I did some yard work in preparation for Mother’s Day, and the kids were nice enough to help. I also ran some errands wearing my new Mexican flag style t-shirt, prompting at least one Hispanic to ask me, “¿Mexicano?” Just for today, mi amigo.

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Sunday, of course, was Mother’s Day. At church, Pastor Ryan had a lovely little Mother’s Day tribute video prepared to honor all the moms in attendance (as well as some Dove chocolate). Then at home, I baked some quiche for a brunch as mommy opened presents from Hannah and Aaron, which were wrapped in their own scribbled decorations. Grammy got a flower pot with Hannah and Aaron’s footprints on it, and Vivian got her usual gift bag of smelly cheese (among other things).

Then at dinnertime, we took the kids to grandma and grandpa Johnson’s house, where Hannah learned she and my mom have an affinity for black licorice. My dad smoked up some pork ribs for dinner, and both my brothers were there to eat with us. Dad and Aaron played with puppets, and I got to read a story or two, and then after dinner we watched a slideshow with family pictures dating back to our time in Kentwood.

I also got to show everyone a special video I’d made for Vivian featuring our two kids. You can see that below.


Happy Mother’s Day!

A Daddy/Daughter Dance

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It’s been another fun, busy weekend for us. Hannah and I kicked it off on Friday night by attending a daddy/daughter dance hosted by Calvary Church and the Sarpy YMCA. They put on a very nice event in the theme of a 50s “sock hop,” with a soda fountain, photo booth, and plenty of dancing to classic oldies music (though they The Temptations’ “My Girl” at least four times for some reason — hit the shuffle button, guys). Hannah didn’t seem quite as keen dancing with me as she did dancing either on her own or with another girl named Alyssa, but that was fine — it still burned off the sugar high she got from the chocolate fondue. Lindsey from the Y even got up to lead everyone in Zumba for a bit, which was still a little too organized for Hannah. We both still had a good time, and we finished the evening with a purple and orange flower on her nose.

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On Saturday, the kids spent some quality time with grandma and grandpa having Chinese food for the first time and watching MST3K (Pumaman). Then that evening, Vivian and I went out to Milliard to surprise Dennis for his 40th birthday at Kara’s parents’ house. The event had the theme of a toga party, which meant lots of Greek-style food with the help of Phil and Jen. Kara’s dad also grilled some burgers after Dennis and the family dropped in for their surprise, and Jen also made a massively dense rainbow carrot cheesecake. Hannah played with Dean’s little girl and bopped little Matthew with a few balloons as the rest of us played some Pictionary before calling it a night.

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On Sunday, we had a potluck lunch at church and then sent the kids home with Grammy and Pop Pop so we could attend another birthday party for Kody down at Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield. Around a dozen of our friends came by to have wine samples and cupcakes as Dan Christian covered some country songs as other people danced. Kody also presented Jenny with a ring, fooling the next table into thinking he’d just proposed. It was unfortunately too gray, cold, and rainy to go outside, which was beautiful, so maybe we’ll come back in the summer when they have a live band (like they did some seven years ago when we were here last for Venche’s birthday party).

Happy birthday, everybody!