Monthly Archives: April 2020

Biking, Testing, & Park Reopening

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I’ve been doing a few things over the past week to try to stay healthy as the pandemic seems like it might be winding down. First off, I got my bike fixed up to ride to and from work on the Keystone Trail. Since the Kroc Center is closed for the time being, it’s the best way I can think of to get some exercise for the time being — and save on gas (all $1.50/gallon of it). Mostly, it’s nice just to get some fresh for a while each day. The weather’s been absolutely gorgeous — 60s and 70s with barely any wind.

I also got myself tested for Covid-19 — not because I had any symptoms, but because back in February I had “the worst cold of my life” with very similar symptoms. I went to the drive-thru clinic at 84th and Center (courtesy of Pivot Concierge Health), and they had me in and out (with just a finger prick) in just a few minutes, and I got my results back a few minutes later — NEGATIVE. Unfortunately, they couldn’t tell me whether I’d had it back in February, but for the time being, I’m in the clear. It was also free. If you’re interested in a test yourself, stop by CovidOmaha.com and make an appointment.

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In other news, Omaha decided to open up its public parks a little early, so we spent a little time on Saturday enjoying some of the blossoms down at Memorial Park. We went by Five Guys first to get some messy burgers and fries for a picnic, and then we let the kids have some extra time to run around and climb a tree. Some passing thunderstorms kept us from staying for long, but I’m glad we got the chance to see some of the blossoms before they disappear. (And Aaron enjoyed feeling the rain on the way home.)

The kids have been finding other ways to have fun at home. Hannah earned enough money to replace her digital camera, which she’s been using again to shoot videos and take pictures again. She also build some kind of “hideout” in the backyard under our evergreen trees, something she was very proud to show to me on Sunday.

April Snow & Fireworks

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People talk a lot about the weather in Nebraska, often because we have bizarre weeks were it’s winter one day and springtime the next. That’s what happened on Thursday last week, when a blizzard rolled into town and delivered us a winter wonderland over the course of an afternoon. It melted right off the roads but coated everything else with a snowy frosting, much to the bewilderment of the robins and squirrels that had been expecting spring.

Our pair of tulips fortunately made it through the snow, and Vivian took he kids outside to play in the snow and make a snowman and have a snowball fight before the white stuff was almost entirely vaporized by the end of the day.

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The rest of our weekend weather was absolutely gorgeous — 60 degrees and sunny. It was nice enough for a “walk” with the folks from the Autism Society of Nebraska, (who had a “virtual Fun Fest” today in lieu of a real one), and Hannah also got to do some art reproducing one of our tulips.

Then that evening, we headed down to Werner Park for a drive-in fireworks show hosted by the Omaha Storm Chasers. It was a community event that seemed to be held just to lift up some spirits in the midst of a pandemic. It seemed the whole metro area came to join us, lining the streets and parking in empty fields adjacent to the park. We got the perfect view of the show from our spot on the west side. Hannah got an eyeful standing atop our CR-V while Aaron hunkered down in the trunk (with the window open). The show started around 8:45 and lasted all of ten minutes, but there was something magical and fun about seeing fireworks in the open air with thousands of others sitting a top their cars and in the beds of pickup trucks.

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Things stayed fairly low-key on Sunday. We tuned in to Wildewood’s service on Facebook live (a weekly tradition in many pandemic-bound households, I’m guessing) and took Harold the Guinea Pig outside to graze in our front yard for the first time. I spent the afternoon cleaning the garage as Hannah brought out her entire collection of dolls for some fresh air. Vivian made some homemade pizza for dinner that evening, and we tuned in to the Hope Rising benefit concert online, making use of my Raspberry Pi plugged into a Goodwill TV in our living room (which is usually used as a weather/calendar kiosk).

How are you faring during this world-wide lock down? I’m quite grateful we’re able to live more or less normal lives with the kids during all of this, albeit without weekly visits to grandma and grandpa’s house. My hope is that we’re on the down slope now and will soon see this period of time in the rear-view mirror of history. For the moment, though, we’re still enjoying life very much — and grateful all of us are healthy!

Easter Weekend in Quarantine

I hope you and everyone you love had a wonderful Easter Weekend. Despite the pandemic and nearly everything in some state of lock down (including Omaha’s public parks, of all things), we still managed to have a whole lot of fun with our friends and family.

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On Friday night, we had a Virtual Fish Fry with some of our mutual friends. Vivian made some battered fish fillets, french fries, and even some mac and cheese doctored up with beer cheese (and apple strudel, courtesy of Betty Across the Street). Naturally, we couldn’t share any of this with our friends, who all joined us with their own food at our dining room table via Zoom on my Chromebook. We were still able to catch up with everyone, and they even joined us for a round of “Sweet Caroline” as Paul even broke out his guitar. It didn’t turn out so well, thanks to Internet lag, but it was worth a try. Even Zoom’s 40 minute time limit couldn’t keep us down, as most of us were able to reconnect without much trouble and carry on until nearly nine o’clock.

Some of our friends had to bail for Good Friday, but it was still great to catch up with everyone. I expect some kind of catch-up party once the pandemic is over (whenever that may be).

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On Saturday morning, we got to see how bored people were getting with the pandemic by participating in a “Mask-eurade ‘Drive Along’ Parade” with the Omaha Children’s Museum and Rose Theater. A mile-long line of cars were packed Douglas Street and barely moved for an hour just to roll their way to 20th Street and pass by a few costumed characters. We saw the Paw Patrol, Bob the Builder, Leonardo, Cat in the Hat, Darth Vader, Miss Frizzle, Pooh and Piglet and a handful of others along the way.

The weather was gorgeous, so I got out to snap photos as we waited. It was still fun just to get outside nonetheless. Mostly, I hope the kids will have one more memory of the strange things people did during this unique time in history.

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After the “parade,” we had a little lunch across the river at Rivers Edge Park. All the parks in Omaha are closed (because “social distancing”), but Iowa’s are still open, so we ate some burgers and fries on the steps where Loessfest would normally be happening had the park not been flooded repeatedly.

Since our last visit, they’ve installed a giant sculpture made of scrap aluminum, which stared at the sky as we wandered the grounds around it. It was a gorgeous day to get out and run around a bit, as birds and blossoms seemed to indicate that spring was finally here — despite snow forecast for the next day.

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Our extended outdoor lunch was more than just a fun diversion — we were also giving Grammy (AKA the Easter Bunny) the chance to plant some eggs in our yard so the kids could return and find them. You couldn’t have asked for a better day for an Easter Egg hunt, and the kids had some fun running around the front and back yards gathering them up for us. My parents came by to watch (as did Grammy) and even dropped off some Easter gifts for us before saying goodbye.

It was warm enough to do a little bit of yard work afterward, and our happy little flowers were peeking up and blooming for us. We spent the evening having some chicken sandwiches made with the legendary “red bag chicken” from Aldi, which are chicken patties not unlike the ones at Chick-Fil-A and have developed a strange reputation online for being both delicious and perpetually out of stock (I can confirm both are true).

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We got up bright at early on Easter Sunday as both our kids managed to find their Easter Baskets long before the “Easter Bunny” expected. We got dressed and headed down to Bellevue Christian Center at 8:30, where they had a “drive-in” Easter service in their parking lot. Despite the drizzling rain and cold, it was quite nice, with a worship team singing on a makeshift stage and broadcasting via short-range FM to our car radio. Pastor Hooker wandered the lot greeting cars spaced strategically six feet apart (both for social distancing and a view of the stage), and then Pastor Andy got up and gave a message, looking a bit like Billy Graham in a hat and coat (according to Vivian).

Our kids remained happy and quiet in the backseat all the while as well, which was something of an Easter miracle in itself, and we rewarded them afterward with some after-church donuts from Dunkin.

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The rest of our Easter Sunday was full of quiet fun at our house, fueled with sugar from Easter baskets and a handful of delicious, flowery cupcakes that came courtesy of Grammy later in the afternoon. We watched the Wildewood Easter Service online as Aaron danced happily to the music, and then the kids played with some of their Easter basket goodies, which included some headlights and wind-up chicks. Later on, we broke out the eggs and dye and got the kids to color a dozen eggs together at our kitchen table. We let the colors set as we had some Easter dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, and biscuits toward the end of the day.

It was certainly a unique Easter weekend with the pandemic still in full force, but considering we got to enjoy an Easter egg hunt with the grandparents and even get out of the house for church together, it still felt very much like a traditional Easter all around.

He is risen, everyone!

Drive-by Palm Sunday and Dim Sum at the Park

It’s been another quiet week in quarantine, though we’ve been able to find excuses to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air as more and more of our daily go-to activities seems to be getting locked down.

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On Thursday last week, Omaha “lit it up blue” for autism, so Vivian and I took the kids for a drive to check it out. They were fairly underwhelmed, as seeing the Woodmen Tower and the pedestrian bridge lit in blue lights wasn’t quite the thrill they were expecting — at least not with the cold and drizzling rain (which turned son to snow) that kept us inside the warm car. We got a dusting of snow the next day that made roads slippery and wintry again, but it was vaporized within days once the temperature broke 80 again.

We’ve been getting a lot more use out of the teleconferencing app Zoom as well. We attended bible studies at church both on Saturday and Tuesday using Zoom, and we also let the kids say hello to Grandma and Grandpa again on Saturday morning.

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On Palm Sunday, we decided to take the kids for a ride around the neighborhood with some homemade palm fronds, which we waved our friends the Mills and Campbells as well as Grammy and my parents, shouting “Hosanna” from an socially distant six feet away (at least).

It was a good enough excuse to get out of the house, and we celebrated later with some German chocolate cake courtesy of our across-the-street neighbor Betty and some homemade pizza.

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Then on Tuesday, we continued celebrating Take Out Tuesday with a trip to Golden Mountain for some Dim Sum (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings and Vietnamese spring rolls). We ate picnic style down at Memorial Park, up by the rose garden. I was hoping for more than just a few blossoms, but it was a gorgeous day with temperatures that broke into the 80s, and it felt good just to get out and let the kids run around (literally), climb a tree, and pay our respects. Loads of other people came by to enjoy the park as well — more than a “no parking” sign would allow for, at least. Now the city of Omaha has announced all parks are being shut down through the end of April, so I guess I should be glad we enjoyed it while we could.

Then on Wednesday we decided to celebrate the Last Supper on Wednesday with some kosher wine and unleavened bread. Next stop: Easter!