Monthly Archives: August 2016

Kid-Friendly Weekend

It’s been a quiet middle of August so far as the dog says of summer wind down into fall. Our garden has been blooming just enough to give us fresh tomatoes and basil for bruschetta. Grammy and Pop-Pop have been on a road trip to California and back, which means we’ve been bird-sitting Diggy and leaning even more on my own parents than usual for babysitting-related issues (and appreciating them more than ever!)

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On the fifteenth, Mrs. B retired after twenty years with the Bellevue Public Library, so Vivian and I took the kids down to say goodbye. I first discovered Mrs. B’s weekday morning story time way back in 2013, when I brought one-year-old Hannah by during the week for a visit.

I got to spend a little more quality time with the kids down at Stinson Park as Mommy had an appointment at the Institute. Both the kids and daddy got to run through the fountains a bit over the noon hour, which was particularly fun. I’d also been making use of the rain-free weather to ride by bike to work, which worked out nicely as long as the tires don’t go flat (which one did at least once).

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On Saturday the 20th, Vivian went on a camping retreat with her girls from WAG, which gave me a whole weekend alone with the kids. They got to have a little quality time both with daddy and grandma and grandpa Johnson, as I took them to the park to play and then spent the afternoon mowing the lawn and having dinner with the folks. My parents found a surprise squash in their garden, which we had for dinner with penne pasta.

Then on Sunday morning, we all got to go to Chandler Acres Baptist Church with my parents. Our own church no longer has Children’s Church available, so without that or Vivian or her parents to help corral both our kids during the service (which I’m usually handling the video), I chose to find another option for Sunday morning. Chandler Acres had some Sunday School for the kids, and I got to say hello to several of the people my parents meet with every Sunday. We went by Burger King afterward to get some lunch together before heading home. Vivian came home later that afternoon with stories of shooting bows and arrows at Platte River State Park. I suppose if she still updates her blog, we would get to hear more about that (but she won’t, so we won’t).

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Vivian and I attended another wedding over the weekend, this one for two very old friends of ours, Venche and Ben. Vivian’s known them both longer than I have (particularly Venche, who she met at a bible study some 15 years ago, I think), but they both were some of the first Mutual Friends in Omaha I met ten years ago, when I first started swing dancing.

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The ceremony and reception were held at Peace Presbyterian Church way, way west in Elkhorn. Our role in the wedding mostly involved guarding the gift table and delivering everything to the happy couples’ house after the wedding, so I didn’t have much to keep me busy other than taking pictures of everyone (of course).

Then we had the rehearsal dinner over at the Hilton Garden Inn, and the theme of the party combined the ethnic backgrounds of both families. Ben is a Missionary Kid from Costa Rica, and Venche’s Family was from Norway, so that meant getting to have chewy Norwegian almond cookies for dessert and bottles of strong Costa Rican vanilla to take home. We had a long evening of food and selfies, and I even gave the groom a bottle of Scotch as a wedding gift (after the bartender accidentally poured me a quadruple).

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The wedding itself happened Saturday afternoon. The ceremony was short, and followed by lots and lots of picture-taking afterward. The reception dinner somehow involved burning popcorn, which set off the alarms and summoned the local fire department, providing even more hilarious photo opportunities than we expected. I got a few family pictures of our friends in attendance and captured plenty of the dancing, roasting, and goofy photo-ops inside the reception hall as well.

I did have time to dance, visit with guests, and actually enjoy the wedding without taking pictures, but when we went out to decorate the groom’s yellow truck, I had to get more pictures — particularly when Vivian posed the two stuffed animals on the dash. The official photographer and videographer took off sometime before the bouquet toss, so I hung around the document everything that followed before the bride and groom headed off to their honeymoon.

Congratulations, Ben and Venche! I hope we’ll still see you after you return.

Mike Pence and Another Housewarming

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Aunt Jessica has her own place again in Omaha, so she had an “apartment warming” at her new place for our cluster of mutual friends and family members. That meant snacks and games and a long afternoon together talking about Pokémon, among other things. Kate brought her three girls, so naturally Hannah and Aaron had friends to keep them occupied as daddy played Origin o Words with the rest of the crew in the living room.

Vivian, in the meantime, was having a Bachelorette Party Scavenger Hunt with Venche and her girly friends off in Westroads.

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Then on Monday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence came to speak at the Mid-America Center. Even before he was Donald Trump’s running mate, I’d been following his career in Indiana, particularly when the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed a few years ago. I got to see the usual batch of political junkies, media types, and button-sellers I had rubbed elbows with back during the primary season. They also had a batch of left-wing protesters, who were literally raising red flags (i.e. for communism) outside the Mid-America Center.

The crowd was decidedly smaller than the one that came to see Trump last December or even Hillary last week, but it was a fairly good turnout for the running mate. Tana Goertz, an Iowa native who appeared on season 3 of the Apprentice, was the emcee for the evening, and up-and-coming Iowa Senator Joni Ernst got to introduce Pence before he took the stage. He seemed very statesman-like, with a clear stump speech that didn’t run off the rails for ninety minutes like Mr. Trump tends to do. He wasn’t even phased when a few left-wing radicals started screaming in the middle of his speech (only to get shouted down with thirty seconds of “USA! USA!” from everyone else present). I hate to say it, but I wish he were at the top of the ticket this election year.

I got to shake hands with Gov. Pence as he came around to greet the crowd after his speech (and gave him a copy of The Book, of course). It was nice to have one last chance to rub elbows with political folks before November (which strangely enough included Abe Lincoln). I’m guessing I won’t get to do this sort of thing again until probably 2019. We’ll see.

Furries, a Cake Show, and Jimmy B

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We’ve had a couple fun and busy weekends since Vivian and I got back from our little overnight anniversary. Last Sunday, Hannah’s little forest cake won the blue ribbon down at the Douglas County Fair (held inexplicably at Crossroads Mall), so the whole family went with Grammy to pick up her award and her gift bag of prizes. We nearly lost her cake on the way home, but fortunately it stuck to our roof long enough for a passing car to warn us that it was there.

Then on Monday, we had an picnic lunch at the park with the kids and got a little wet playing in the fountains. In the meantime, actual grown-ups wandered around looking for Pokemon, in a case where life imitated art, as shown in my web comic. It’s always good to enjoy being outdoors, though — I did that by biking to and from work every day of the week, a lovely commute through the cornfields.

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On Friday night, we made our first visit to the SumTur to see Zootopia with a handful of our friends. It was a remarkably cool July evening for the kids to run around. I was surprised the crowd wasn’t even larger than it was. Among them were a group of actual, legit furries, who showed up in full fur-suit to delight children and horrify adults.

Then on Saturday night, we had a game night down at Jessica’s friend Kate’s place. Hannah and Aaron got to run around and play with some kids closer to their own age as the grown-ups played a few crazy rounds of Telestrations over tacos. The best thing about mutual sets of kids is that they negate the need for a grown-up to keep them occupied.

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On Sunday, I made a last-minute decision to drop by the Sokol Auditorium to witness the final performance of Jimmy B and his orchestra. I’d heard about Jimmy B for ages (mostly from Dan Wondra), but I never got the chance to see his band in person. The Sokol is a lovely old venue that feels like walking back in time, and this year’s Cowtown Jamborama will be happening there as well. I got in a few dances, but there was a serious lack of Jitterbugs in the (mostly gray-haired) crowd, so I was content with taking a handful of pictures before I headed home.

That evening, Jack and Donna came by for dinner with us before going on a road trip to California. They brought Diggy to live at our house for a bit, and Vivian got to show Donna my anniversary present, which I installed myself the other day. The kids also played a few rounds of the Memory Card game, but they kids seemed to get a bigger kick out of playing with the leftover frames after punching out the cards.

Sadly, we missed seeing their show this year, but we did get to see a few of the jets from our house as Aaron napped.

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One last thing. On Monday, Hillary Clinton came to Omaha, and I decided to take one last stab at giving her a copy of Dr. Hilgers’ book, reliving my glory days from the presidential primary. What happened instead was that I stood outside for a couple hours getting burned to a crisp (and dehydrated) only to be escorted into an “overflow room” to watch the event on a giant TV screen. I was particularly disappointed when I saw pictures of the event online later and saw there was plenty of room left in the gymnasium that somehow went unfilled.

I still had fun chatting with a few friendly democrats in line (and caught a glimpse of Ben Nelson) and witnessing protesters from both the right and the left denouncing Hillary from the sidelines. If I were smart, of course, I would have brought a few cases full of ice water and sold them to the thirsty throngs waiting in line. I could have made a fortune. Maybe in four more years.