Category Archives: Baseball

Two Parks & Two Candidates


Summer will soon be drawing to a close, and that means it’s time to take in a baseball game while it’s still in season. On “Wiener Wednesday” last week, we took the whole family down to Werner Park to watch the Omaha Stormchasers narrowly defeat the Memphis Redbirds with a home run late in the game. Of course, the game itself took only a passing interest to Hannah, who spent most of her time playing in the Centris playground, going down a slide or two and taking multiple trips on the carousel. Lexi and her kids were coincidentally there for a Royal Rangers event for Jake, so they joined Anne and Brandon as we took a spot on the Berm and had some five-cent hot dogs (and ice cream).

In other news, Aaron turned 14 months and is now walking. Look out, world!

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There were lots of other things happening in the Metro area over the weekend, but I wound up spending Saturday and Sunday cleaning and sealing our deck while we had a brief window of not-raining. On Sunday, the gang at church blessed the college-age kids before going back to school (or Basic Training).

After that, we headed down to Aksarben Village for one more Lindy in the Park. We saw only a few familiar faces and a slew of newcomers there doing Lindy Hop under the pavilion. I coaxed Hannah into a dance or two, but the power of the playground compelled her. Aaron also found himself drawn to the fountains like a siren song.


Then on Tuesday, more Presidential Candidates came through Council Bluffs for campaign stops. First was Rick Perry, who visited Barley’s restaurant and bar for a meet and greet. The crowd was decidedly smaller than the ones for Rubio, Walker, and Carson, but that only gave the former Texas Governor more time for pictures, autographs, and questions from the locals. (Tom Becka was also nowhere in sight, possibly because Chris Baker was on site to introduce Perry.)

I got to meet another Governor that evening — Bobby Jindal, who was doing a town hall via his Super PAC Believe Again. About 100 people showed up to hear him speak, including several younger people (and several others who’d come to see Rick Perry in the morning). Many of Jindal’s talking points were the same as other candidates, but what impressed me was how friendly and talkative he was with everyone who lined up to shake hands with him afterward. He chatted with the guy in front of me about where he was going to school (since he wore a Michigan University sweatshirt), what he majored in, and the sketchbook he carried with caricatures of different presidential candidates. I managed to win a copy of his book as a prize during the emcee’s opening pop quiz, so I naturally got him to autograph it before my obligatory selfie.

So that’s five Republican candidates I’d met so far. Only twelve more to go, right? Maybe I’ll even squeeze in a few democrats before the primary’s over.

Birthdays and Baseball


On Saturday, the whole Johnson Family dropped by Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs to help a half-centurion celebrate his birthday. That’s right, Eric celebrated the big five-oh with several clusters of our mutual friends in typical “Onion Boy” style — that means launching rockets, attempts at “skip it,” playing on the playground, and getting roasted by one or more Bens. Of course, there was also some ultimate Frisbee of some kind and a hose to soak people in the sweltering 90-degree oven outdoors. Hannah seemed quite content to swing, and climb, and play house in the little playground, and I even showed her how to use a squirt gun. Aaron got passed around in the meantime and did a good deal of sleeping. Hannah also found a new friend to play with before the end of the night (borrowed from a conspicuously unlocked car, of course).


The weather seemed to loosen up immediately afterward, which made for a lovely Monday in the park with the whole family. It was still warm enough for Hannah and daddy to take a quick run through the fountains and make footprints before going back to work.

Of course, no summer would be complete without a trip to the ballpark. I got some tickets from the Ad Club and got to sit behind first base with Vivian on Wiener Wednesday. That meant loading up on one-penny hot dogs and watching the Omaha Stormchasers rake the field with the Memphis Redbirds 5-0. The highlight for the evening was the splintered half of a broken bat flying into the audience, caught a lucky person a few rows back was able to grab without getting an eye gouged out.

In other news, Jayme, Vivian’s old youth group friend from Petaluma, dropped by to visit the family on Thursday. Vivian hadn’t seen her in about 13 years, so they had some time to catch up at Lo Sole Mio for dinner. Then they returned home to eat cheesecake with us and get plenty of selfies before saying goodnight.

Baseball and sushi


Vivian and I are busier than ever these days, but since it’s summertime, we still have to indulge in a great American past time — baseball! On Saturday, we dropped by Werner Park with a few thousand other people to watch the Stormchasers pound the Round Rock Express in nine short innings. It was actually Hannah’s second trip to the ballpark, but she didn’t seem quite interested in the game. Instead, there was a whole children’s area put on by Centris with a bounce house, a play area, and a merry-go-round, where she got her very first ride. She also got her first taste of cotton candy, a treat she didn’t seem to know what to do with.


On Sunday, Vivian and I went by Aksarben Village for another episode of Lindy in the Park. We got to see a few familiar faces for a dance or two, but our visit didn’t last very long. Billy wound up closing the pavilion because another band was starting up just down the street at the park’s amphitheater. That was fine by Hannah, though — she found the five spouting fountains on the south side of the park much more interesting. She got soaked splashing around in them, and dad even got into the action, running through the fountains like a goofball just to make his daughter crack up for the camera.

That evening, we went out to a sushi celebration dinner with our mutual friends Phil and Jen. Hannah got to have her very first taste of sushi in the form of a few avocado rolls, which she seemed to like. She also got to taste squid for the very first time. That’s one thing that make me proud of my little girl — she’s not afraid to try new things, mostly because mom and dad have introduced her to just about every kind of food the doctor allows. Yum!

And speaking of “yum,” on Wednesday we had paella at our house to celebrate Donna’s birthday. And chocolate mocha cheesecake. It was sort of a coffee-themed birthday, from the collection of k-cup beverages we gave to the cartoon I doodled up for Donna’s birthday card.

I have some other news in the works, but it’s big enough to warrant its own entry in my blog. More on that later.

The Cheese Party

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Last Saturday, the Johnson Family hosted the third Cheese Party at our home in Bellevue. We’ve been hosting it every other year since 2009, and January always seemed like the perfect, dreary month to do something fun after the holidays. (Naturally, about a hundred other people this year decided the same thing.) In any case, we had a fun time with our typical cluster of cheesy friends, sipping wine and trying out a number of hard, soft, and stinky cheeses together. Mark won the crown for a tasty Dubliner cheese and Phil and Jen won for a soft, stinky cheese. Ryan took the prize in for cheesiest joke after several rounds, which eventually turned into dirty limericks (after Hannah went to bed). We spent a little too much time cheesing around to watch one of the fine cheesy movies that Phil and Jen brought, but hopefully we’ll have the chance to do that next year. The Return of Captain Invincible looked suitably cheesy.

In other news, Walmart had some frozen turkeys on sale for 50 cents a pound, so Vivian and I bought a large one and decided to roast it. Add in some stuffing and cranberry sauce from Aldi and we had ourselves a little Thanksgiving in January, which was delicious. Hannah also turned 14 months old, becoming more a little lady every day. We also paid a visit to Lisa and her ailing mom, quite happy to share what adorableness our little girl can bring to those in need.

Ballgames and the Sumtur

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Summer’s back in full swing, and you know what that means — baseball! Vivian and I took Hannah to see her very first baseball game at Werner Park last Saturday, where the Omaha Stormchasers beat the Memphis Redbirds 3-0. The bases were tied up in the ninth inning, but it really wasn’t even close, so we paid more attention to the crazy games between innings that involved spouses diving on each other and throwing things at goofy mascots. The weather was beautiful, though, and we managed to enjoy the game was the sun was done burning holes into our eyes and dipped below the horizon somewhere round inning five. Of course, we had to stay for the fireworks afterward, which left us with plenty of happy sunspots on the way out of the park.

The fun didn’t stop there, of course. Our neighbor Troy was busy hosting a bunch of swing dancers who came to crash after the Omaha Jitterbugs’ “champions weekend,” so we dropped by on the way home. It was a great chance to meet a few cool cats, dance with some of our familiar friends, have a drink, and pass Hannah around to a few new folks, including champion instructor Dee, who called her the most adorable baby in the world and held onto her for an hour so Vivian and I could dance.

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The following Thursday, I grabbed a few of my fellow swing dancers to dance to some live jazz music down at the Sumtur Amphitheater in Papillion. The Brad Cordle Band was playing for free for anyone who happened by, so Eric, Sherry, Jessica and Sean came by to dance down in front of the band. The music was quite good and the weather was perfect. We just need to gather a few more dancers before we try it again.

The next day, Vivian’s mom and dad took us to Outback Steakhouse to use up a gift card and a coupon, which was nice. It was Hannah’s first experience with a restaurant that has turned into something of an annual birthday tradition for the Taber household. We all had steaks, and Hannah just drank from her bottle, holding it all by herself in her little carseat.

After dinner, it was back to the Sumtur again, where Vivian and I watched Cars 2 for lack of anything better to do, and Hannah fell asleep in my arms.

Baseball and mawwiage

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It’s summertime again, the season for both baseball and getting hitched. On Thursday last week, Vivian and I dropped by Rosenblatt to see the Omaha Royals almost beat the Nashville Sounds in a ten-inning game. It was particularly memorable for us, since we were invited down onto the field to play the “balloon bust” game between the sixth and seventh innings. We didn’t win, but we did get to sit in the first base camera well, giving us the perfect view of pitcher Philip Humber getting a line drive to the face courtesy of Nashville Sounds infielder Luis Cruz.

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On Friday night, Vivian and I and a couple of our mutual friends had some fun “storming” the Holland Center courtyard to watch The Princess Bride outdoors. It was a muggy night, but after the sun went down (and they started the film at the beginning rather than in the middle) we were able to enjoy the show. Inconceivable? Not at all.

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On Saturday, we attended the wedding of a few good friends, Keith and Micah. Micah was one of the first Omaha Jitterbugs I got to meet four years ago when I walked into the Eagle’s Lodge for the first time. She and Keith both attended our own wedding two years ago (Micah played the guitar as everyone was seated in the chapel) so it felt very special for us to be included in theirs. They were both wed at the Suckau Chapel on Grace University campus, and held their reception at the Bellevue University Student Center just a few feet (literally) from the chapel where Vivian and I were married. I took the liberty of playing videographer at the event, which was fun, and Vivian and I had the honor of leading the Shim Sham for our fellow jitterbugs in the midst of several other dancers. It was a beautiful ceremony and I know this wonderful, Godly couple will have a wonderful life together.

Birthdays, Macbeth, and Baseball

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Vivian and I have been having more fun with our friends as we rounded out the month of June. On Friday, we had a surprise birthday party for our friend Kara. She and Dennis live in Blair but work in Omaha, and he was able to convince her that they needed to stick around to help someone with car trouble. We grilled up some steaks, Angie whipped up some potatoes, and after stuffing ourselves a bunch of us got to watch The Sandlot on a makeshift big screen at Chad’s house next door.

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On Saturday, Vivian and I went to Elmwood Park to enjoy Shakespeare on the Green and their production of Macbeth with some of our friends. We arrived early enough to save a spot fairly close to the stage and killed the hours before the show playing Apples to Apples and trying on some renaissance outfits. I had the rare opportunity to put on a chain mail hood, fake a horrible Scottish accent, and be all Elizabethan with Lady Vivian. Forsooth.

The show itself was marvelous, with some fun lighting effects once the sun went down. I had never seen Macbeth performed before, and was only vaguely familiar with the story, but enjoyed it all nonetheless.

IMG_2472.JPGOn Monday night, Vivian and I went to see the Omaha Royals play the Albuquerque Isotopes at Rosenblatt Stadium. She’s been wanting to go to a baseball game with me for as long as I’ve known her, and I was able to get some free tickets (and free hot dogs!) at work in honor of Disability Awareness Night. I’d never actually been to a baseball game before, so it was an especially memorable night for me. I even managed to win Vivian a promotional Kraft Cheese Towel that was tossed into the crowd. How very fitting. I also had a major “Dan Wondra Moment” before the night was over. When Isotopes player Chin-lung Hu hit the ball and ran to first base, I made sure to tell Vivian, “Hu’s on first.”