Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Big Four-Oh

Yes, I just turned that old this week — the big “four oh.” Thankfully, I was able to celebrate with a bunch of my family in friends in a celebration that was spread out nearly all week long.

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On Saturday, I woke up to find Hannah had drawn a lovely “birthday card ” picture of me celebrating my birthday with everyone, which was a wonderful way to start the day.

Then that afternoon, we had a celebration at Elmwood Park with a bunch of our family and friends. Kody and Phil grilled burgers and hot dogs (with my dad) as the guests arrived and the kids (and adults) played on the playground next door. Vivian had gotten some lovely over-the-hill decorations for the party, and I brought the teddy bear Lisa gave me for my 30th birthday. Donna also made an amazing over-the-hill cake, complete with fondant figures of me and Vivian and a graveyard at the bottom (with a plot open for me).

It was great to have so many family and friends in one place to celebrate another year of me not being dead, and we stayed well after the sun went down. Then the next morning, I got to try out one of my gifts — a tiny waffle-maker from Phil and Jen. It was a nice way to make a little breakfast the morning after.

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In other news, it’s been a fairly gorgeous end of August. We’ve had a few scattered showers and days here and there in the 70s. We’ve also had days warm enough for a long-expected trip to the All Play Splash Pad on 72nd and Harrison the Monday after my birthday, where we got wet with the kids after work before they shut the water down after Labor Day.

We discovered on Wednesday before my birthday that Stinson Park finally turned the fountains on, so the kids got to splash about and get nice and wet during lunch that day. Hannah got nice and messy eating crab apples and needed a good rinse. We also happened to see a few accidents this same day — Vivian and a friend witnessed a hit-and-run as a confused lady played bumper cars pulling out of a parking space, and I got to hear a more serious accident on Center Street that happened minutes later. Drive safe everyone!

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At work on Tuesday, I and the other August Birthdays got to celebrate with some cake courtesy of Dr. Keefe, which was lovely. Then on my actual birthday, I got to have breakfast at Amato’s with Hannah and Vivian (while Aaron was at preschool). The last time we’d been there was five years earlier for me 35th birthday, so it definitely felt good to be back. I had some peach ricotta pancakes (as did Hannah) with some Italian Sausage, and Vivian got a “garbage breakfast.” Vivian even had some mints for me afterward, when I turned exactly 40 at 9:59 am.

After breakfast, we headed up to Memorial Park, where I literally went over the hill (with Hannah) to celebrate my turning forty. It was 72 degrees and gorgeous, so we spent a little extra time walking around the rose garden (in full bloom) and letting Hannah play on the playground with her “friend” Linda.

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The weather was still too gorgeous to stay inside, so we continued celebrating through the afternoon taking the kids to Thompson Park and then going out for ice cream at Dairy Queen afterward. It genuinely felt good to have a day to do pretty much nothing at all.

Then that evening, my parents took us out to The Drover down at 72nd and Mercy. This is an old-school steakhouse (so old-school they still have a salad bar) that I heard about twelve years ago and had been planning to visit but never have. They’re known for whiskey-marinated steaks, so Vivian and I both tried one, which was quite tasty. The food was excellent, but the restaurant itself was dark, small, crowded, and noisy, so the atmosphere alone didn’t top some of my other favorite steakhouses in town.

We finished off the night at my parents’ house, where my dad had some chocolates from Chocolaterie Stam at Shadowlake. He also played for me a 40-year-old recording of him and my mom calling their own parents to tell them about me being born. It was eerie to hear my much younger parents talking to my long-deceased grandparents about me being born, but it was so nice to hear how happy they all sounded about it. It was a very lovely gift.

Here’s to forty more wonderful years!

Bus stops, school starts, and a big still

It’s been another busy week as the countdown continued to the big four-oh. In one week, I’ll be crossing the threshold of another decade, but I’m not officially feeling (or acting) old yet.

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On Thursday, a pair of political issue buses rolled into Omaha, which must be some kind of new trend in politics. The first was a bus from Concerned Women for America promoting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I arrived late and only got to few minutes meet the ladies on the bus, as well as Congressman Don Bacon, who happened to be among them.

The second was the “Tax Cuts Work” bus from Job Creators Network, which was founded originally by Home Depot co-founder and former CEO Bernie Marcus. The bus parked in the lot of Mutual 1st Federal, and they highlighted the tax cuts passed late last year. Don Bacon was at this bus as well, and they gave him specific credit (and an award) for voting to pass them. The crowd for this bus was a bit larger, and they bus seemed to have more crew members, which included a videographer who filmed the event and photographers who put pictures up on social media. I also saw a handful of familiar faces in the crowd.

I have to wonder what kind of impact a few traveling buses might have on an election or voter opinion, but someone must think it’s worth the money to get them wrapped and on the road. (Maybe I’ll even do it myself.)

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It’s been a good week for food and drink as well. Aldi had ribeyes on sale, so Vivian and I got a couple of them for a lovely dinner (with red wine). Then on Friday, we had a kind of impromptu couples dinner with six of our mutual friends: Anne and Brandon, Lydia and (other) Matt, and Jenny and Kody, who grilled up some hot dogs and burgers for all of us.

Vivian had pitched this as a “girls’ night out” originally, and I learned later it was not just a girls’ night IN, but also a guys’ night OUT. Kody had actually bought a Groupon for a distillery tour and took me out as a kind of early birthday present. He took the other guys and me down to Patriarch Distillers, home of Soldier Valley whiskey, rum, and vodka. We got to see a giant still and various distillery machinery up close and personal, as well as get a taste of some of their spirits. Our tour guide also told us how individuals could invest in their own private label, single-barrel whiskeys that they would make themselves and then have stored on the premises for aging. That was particularly interesting.

The whole facility had a military theme, and a portion of their sales went to various military non-profit organizations. (Also, Don Bacon was not at this event, but he had been there a few weeks earlier with Col. Allen West.)

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In other news, Donna came back from her month-long trip to California, and she made a gift for us to show that our family rocks. On Saturday, we took advantage of the nice weather by taking the kids to play at Elmwood Park as I did a family photo shoot for our friends Phil and Jen (and baby Gabriel). I also hauled out the wading pool to let the kids get some splash time before the school year started again.

The school year of both our kids officially started on Monday (also Zoey’s birthday for some reason), as Hannah returned to Classical Conversations for extended homeschooling and Aaron began his first year of preschool at Spring Lake Elementary. It feels like time is just passing us by, and my Pebble watch decided to crack on me as if to emphasize the point.

One more week of 39, folks.

Offutt Air and Space Show

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For the first time in a decade, Vivian and I managed to make it down to Offutt AFB to check out their annual air show. We’ve been able to catch glimpses of it from our back porch in years past, but this time around we got to see it up close and personal — and we brought the kids. The kids got their first-ever bus ride with us down to the base, and then they got to take a peek inside some historic jets and walk through some much larger ones together (along with a couple thousand other people). We even bumped into R2-D2 and other members of the 501st Legion’s Central Garrison on the tarmac.

Around noon, we got some shaved ice and made our way to the grassy strip near the runway to see the air show. It started with some parachuters coming down with an American Flag for the national anthem. Then we got to see some demonstrations of aircraft both big and small (with some clowning around with the Jelly Belly plane). There were also some historic planes flying in formation together and one used in the Vietnam War.

We stayed for a couple hours before eventually calling it quits and heading home, missing out on some of the more impressive aircraft, but also skipping the long line to the bus we would have endured had we waited until the end. We did get to see some of the aircraft from our own front porch later on, and I saw a stealth bomber in the drive-thru at Arby’s. It’s the sort of thing you can expect every August if you live in Bellevue.

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It’s otherwise been a fairly quiet week getting ready for school to start and dealing with a few summer colds. Hannah’s getting ready for another year of homeschooling with Classical Conversations, and Aaron’s getting set for a year of preschool at Spring Lake Elementary in Omaha.

In the meantime, we’re enjoying a few lovely sunny evening walks together. We also had Pop-Pop over for Johnny Marzetti one night. Grammy should be returning from her month-long visit to California in the meantime.

Garden Tomatoes and Louisville Lake

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Vivian’s mom is spending a few weeks in California, so we’ve been keeping tabs on her dad while she’s away — mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, and eating all of his ribs out on the back porch on Tuesday (AKA avocado day).

My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Andy have also been making their way across the country, stopping by to visit briefly on Wednesday last week. Both Nathan and Jonathan were there to visit as we brought the kids band then attempted to play some Word with Friends.

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The Dog Days of Summer have been relatively cool, making for nice weather to have a Derp Burger with fresh tomatoes picked from our garden (and drink from the garden hose). I’ve also been riding my bike to work fairly regularly, which makes for a nice bit of exercise in the countryside (when it’s not raining).

On Friday night, we made one more stop at the SumTur to watch Early Man with Mark and Jon. It was a fairly cute Nick Park film, and it was nice to get one more outdoor film in before the end of the season. The next day, I saw the new Dinesh D’Souza movie, Death of a Nation, with my folks, and then we went to Arby’s with Jonathan afterward. That latter movie wasn’t nearly as much fun to watch.

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Sunday was nice and warm, so we took the kids down to Louisville Lake for a long-overdue family swim. Hannah and Aaron seemed much more enthusiastic about getting into the water this time around, though more with the pool noodles and not so much our alligator (which was literally deflating). There was also a giant, inflatable obstacle course next door, but it seemed a bit intimidating for the kids (and rather expensive to play on), so Hannah and Aaron got in some quality tree-climbing instead.

Then that evening: bruschetta with tomatoes and basil from our garden and fresh pressed garlic. Oh, boy.

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Then on Monday we took the kids down to B&B Classic Dogs, a hot dog restaurant and arcade that we’d wanted to visit for a while. On this particular day, a handful of the Faith Christian Clowns were on hand to made balloon animals for the kids and do some face-painting (or arm-painting, in Aaron’s case) in-between eating hot dogs and playing ski-ball. It felt quite a bit like a miniature Chuck-E-Cheese and took me back to my childhood for a bit. Of course after having a bacon-wrapped foot-long and some deep-fried appetizers, I’m going to need to ride my bike to work for another week to pay for it.

In other news: Johnny Marzetti with Pop-Pop tonight. Yum.