Category Archives: Aaron’s Birthday

Gaffigan, a governor, and Aaron turns five

We’ve had a busy, busy week here in Omaha mixing work and fun and family all together — with a little bit of gorgeous weather along with it.

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First up was Unite, a huge event held by the Archdiocese of Omaha. The Pope Paul VI Institute, where I work, was one of about a dozen organizations invited to showcase their work to several thousand Catholics who came to participate at the Qwest/CenturyLink/CHI Center in worship, mass, and fun. Our booth was the result of six months of planning, with graphics and banners and eight keynote speakers at our corner of the concourse. I was on hand to take loads of pictures for several hours, so I definitely got my “steps” for the day.

As a reward, Vivian and I got to see a performance by Jim Gaffigan in the afternoon. We’d seen several of Gaffigan’s routines on Netflix previously and were well versed in his food-related humor (specifically Hotpockets). I was also aware he was a Catholic, which was likely part of the reason he was recruited as the “draw” for this event. His set included a few jokes specific to Omaha, including comments on the Runza (and how its name tells you what it gives you). We got seats fairly close tot he front, and I was even able to smuggle in my camera to get a few halfway-decent snapshots for the blog.

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Then on Sunday after church we had a birthday party for Aaron with some friends at Elmwood Park. The weather went from mid-90s to 70 literally overnight, so the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for playing on swings, slides, and sand toys during the afternoon, getting a little exercise before getting sugared up.

A bunch of Aaron’s little friends were able to join us, as were mom and dad and Uncles Nathan and Jonny. Donna and Vivian had prepared a birthday cake decorated with characters from “True,” Aaron’s current favorite show on Netflix, which we cut into around 3:30 (and even lit candles on for a few seconds). Then Aaron got to open a few presents before calling it a day.

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In the meantime, Wildewood Church is having a week-long VBS with the theme “In the Wild.” Because of Aaron’s birthday (and sheer exhaustion) we weren’t able to attend the opening night. We were able to drop in on Monday, which was a lot of fun. They had some outdoor activities and crafts that parents and kids were invited to participate in, as well as crafts and songs with crazy hand motions that felt more like 80s-style aerobics. They also had a bible story and a snack sandwiched in the middle. I wasn’t entirely sure if we’d have the energy to participate with all the other stuff going on this week, but the kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and Vivian and I wound up crawling on the ground on all fours along with them.

This was actually the first VBS I’d actually attended since I was a kid, and I was amazed at the amount of work and energy the volunteers must have put in to pull it off.

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Then on Tuesday I got to meet Steve Bullock, Democrat Presidential Candidate and Governor of Montana, over my lunch break. His meet-and-greet was held at Barley’s in Council Bluffs, of course, which has become the go-to place for Presidential candidates for reasons I can’t quite understand. He spoke briefly with reporters (and Tom Becka) outside on the sidewalk before speaking to a crowd of a couple dozen inside afterward. He hit a bunch of fairly standard Democrat talking points, such as climate change and “women’s health” (AKA abortion), and he emphasized his work as a lawyer with the IBEW union.

The crowd was largely friendly, and I shook his hand afterward telling him that I hoped whoever becomes President in 2020 can help heal the divide in our country.

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Then that evening we celebrated Aaron’s actual birthday with pizza and presents with the family. I got three large pizzas from Papa Murphy’s for dinner, partly to ensure leftovers for a couple days, and we ate with Pop-Pop, Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle Jonny. Then Aaron got to open a few more presents, which included a glowing dinosaur nightlight from Uncle Jonny, a soccer ball from grandma, a cornhole game from Grammy, a marble chute construction set, a singing Baby Shark from Hannah, and a periscope from Grandpa (which Hannah immediately seemed to take possession of).

We also had a second cake, this one being decorated inexplicably with Hannah being eaten by an alligator while Aaron looks on with a shark (I still don’t get it).

We’ll have more fun forthcoming this week, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to catch my breath soon. Maybe for Father’s Day.

The big Oh-Four

Summer’s finally here, and our little boy Aaron turned four years old on Monday! More on that in a moment.

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On Friday, Vivian and I decided to kick off the summer with a little mid-year sushi binge. I had a Groupon for the sushi train, where we had our sushi anniversary six months ago, so we headed back for another round at dinner time.

Then on Saturday, Aaron had a tee-ball game and Hannah attended a birthday party with her friend Nicholette. Then our friend Kate had a birthday party for herself, which involved dinner at Sakura Sushi and then Telestrations at her apartment afterward. Hannah and I attended the latter part, which gave Hannah a few hours of quality time with Other Hannah as her sisters joined us in drawing several goofy drawings together upstairs.

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Then on Sunday, we celebrated Aaron’s birthday down at the splash pad at H.W. Banner Park. The water features were all running, so it was a fun way to keep cool (even if the temperature didn’t reach ninety-nine degrees as they’d predicted). We had some snacks for the kids as guests arrived. My folks along with Uncle Jonny and Nathan both stopped by along with an assortment of Aaron’s little friends.

Then Grammy broke out a giant jungle cake for dessert. Aaron had to pretend to blow out the candles, as the wind kept us from keeping them lit for real. Then Aaron got to open a bunch of presents, most of which had a superhero theme to them, in addition to Uncle Nathan’s pool noodles (which Aaron got a kick out of).

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Then on Aaron’s actual birthday, we celebrated with a tornado There were funnel clouds in the area, so they sirens went off right next to our house. We spent some time in the basement watching Happy Birthday cartoons on Netflix as Pop-Pop baked a couple pizzas upstairs. Once it was reasonably clear, we ate upstairs and then had some cupcakes with candles for Aaron to blow out before opening some more presents. (And he would still have a few more to open and grandma and grandpa’s house a week later.)

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It’s supposed to get hot-hot-hot again over Father’s Day weekend, so Vivian brought the kids to spend one relatively cool day at the park to have lunch, swing, and practice jumping into daddy’s arms from the stage at Stinson Park.

Aaron turns 3

Our little boy turned three over the weekend, and now that summer is finally cranking up the heat, we celebrated in the coolest way we could manage (literally).

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The fun started on Saturday at our favorite Omaha Sprayground, the Allplay splash pad at Seymour Smith Park. With temps close to 90, it definitely felt good to get a face full of ice-cold water with Aaron and his little friends (though he mostly just got his fingers wet). Vivian grilled hot dogs as the grandparents stayed mostly in the shade throughout the party, and then we had a little lunch before Grammy brought out her adorable Thomas the Tank Engine cake for Aaron to devour. There were also plenty of presents, of course, which Aaron opened on a blanket with his guests. Uncle Nathan even stopped by with a gift for Aaron before we packed up and headed out.

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On Sunday, (Aaron’s actual birthday) we continued the celebration down at the Children’s Museum. They’d remodeled a few areas downstairs to include a light-up dance floor and Tetris game, but we spent most of our visit looking at the visiting Dinosaur exhibit upstairs. There were faux fossils to dig around, dinosaur sculpture to sit on, and plenty of (roped off) animatronic dinosaurs to get a picture with. The kids got a train ride and then got to participate in a parade around the museum before closing time.

On the way home, we got some dinner at Burger King along with a few birthday ice cream cones for the kids and plenty of time in the play area. Then Aaron got to open a few more presents at home before bedtime, including some outdoor gifts from Uncle Jonny and some trucks and tractors from mommy and daddy.

Aaron turns two!

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Summer’s here again, as temperature breaks into the upper-nineties and everyone starts looking for ways to beat the heat. For the Johnson Kids, that often means more time running through the fountains of Stinson Park or maybe a Splash Pad. More on that in a second.

My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Andy are taking a trip across the United States visiting family, so last week they dropped by to stay with my folks for a few days. They checked out Boys Town, Runza, and even a firing range. Vivian and I brought the kids by after dinner on Wednesday to say hello and then play a couple rounds of Apples to Apples together.

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On Friday night, Vivian and I took the kids to the Eagles’ Lodge for the Omaha Jitterbugs’ “Mom Prom,” a fun event designed for little ones with an interest in dancing. Lindsey picked out a few giant dance cards with basic dance steps printed on them, and by putting four of them randomly down on the floor, she created a fairly simple dance pattern for everyone to follow. The kids were all around Hannah and Aaron’s age, and they followed along as best as you could expect of a handful of four year olds. Once the cake came out, however, all bets were off as the kids began to run about on a sugar high with percussion instruments only adding to the chaos, but both of our kids had a great time.

Oh, did I mention that there was NO ELECTRICITY? Yes, there was apparently some kind of “underground vault fire” west of 24th and Harney Streets that blacked out the whole area for the entire evening. We still had a great event, however. Billy got a battery backup for the speakers so we could have music, the sunlight through the windows was more than enough for us to see, and the building even stayed relatively cool for an hour or two without air conditioning. Good job, guys!

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On Friday, our little boy Aaron turned two years old! I made him waffles for breakfast, and he got to open a few presents at home in the morning. Then in the afternoon, we took him to Morton Park for some quality time in the splash pad. It was pushing 97 degrees outside, so getting cold and wet for most of the afternoon was more than welcome. We invited a handful of Aaron’s little friends along for the day, as well as all four grandparents, of course. After getting soaked on the splash pad for an hour or two, we had some hot dogs together followed by an adorable train cake courtesy of Grammy — complete with fondant renderings of HannahAaron, and the cast of Sesame Street.

it’s hard to believe my little boy is two years old now. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

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On Sunday, I took Hannah to Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s house for quality time painting and playing with some of my dad’s old puppets. I also helped Grandpa with a project collecting old family photos and stories and assembling them in a page layout program.

Then that evening, Brazilian missionaries Al and Nadine Pierschbacher came to visit Twin Valley Church. They showed us some slides of their mission work at the New Hope Bible Baptist Church in Fortaleza. Then afterward we had some tasty tri-tip steak for dinner, which I assumed was cooked in the churrasco style. Bom apetite!

The Birthday Boy

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On Wednesday, I finally dropped by Spielbound — Omaha’s one-and-only Board Game Cafe — for the first time with a cluster of folks from AIGA. Vivian and I are acquaintances of Kaleb and the gang who dreamed up the place, and we were also one of the many Kickstarter backers who got the place up and running last year, so I thought it was time to stop by and check it out.

It was every bit the Hipster Hangout I had been expecting, with local beer from Brickway and Cherry Mead from Moonstruck on tap, and thousands of games to go around. I’m not really a board game person, since it seems every game shown to me takes about an hour to explain and several more to complete. We did find a copy of Pandemic, which I’d played once with Vort and Michelle in Kansas City years ago. It’s a game where all the players play cooperatively against the game mechanics, so explaining the rules as you play is perfectly fine. I also threw in a copy of Monty Python Fluxx, before calling it a night.

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On Thursday, our little boy Aaron turned one year old! We had a bigger event planned for him on Saturday, but we invited the grandparents over (and Uncle Jonny) to watch Aaron open a few presents and have some cake and ice cream for the very first time. His big present was a large, plastic water table, which finally gave Aaron a place to splash happily about other than the toilet.

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On Friday night, the Sumtur Amphitheater had its first free Friday night movie of the season — Big Hero Six. None of us has seen the movie before, but Vivian and I were able to enjoy it despite wrangling two kids and enduring a brief, passing shower. A handful of our usual friends came by to watch the movie with us in the drizzle. There was also a Pink Floyd cover band (aptly named Floyd) that got up to play a few songs before the show started.

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Saturday was Aaron’s big day, of course. We nabbed a picnic shelter at Washington Park in Olde Town Bellevue and got a couple barbecues going to celebrate our little boy’s first birthday. Both grandmas and grandpas were there, of course, as well as a cluster of Aaron and Hannah’s little friends, a nice cross-section of people who would otherwise never meet. Aaron had fun with a pinwheel from Lisa as the bigger kids climbed on the swings, slides, and seesaw, easily having fun without the aid of electronic toys. Jack manned the grill, and Donna baked a big, beautiful Winnie the Pooh cake, which Aaron’s enjoyed so much that he wound up literally licking the plate clean afterward.

I still can’t believe it’s been a year since we took our little boy home from the hospital, but it was great to celebrate with so many of our good friends. Happy Birthday, Aaron!