Category Archives: Jon’s Birthday

Holey Cow

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Our Spring Break continued with some lovely weather last week, which warranted a least one more trip to the Park. We had some Burger King for lunch before walking the kids up and down the Keystone Trail. They got to see a bridge with several padlocks clinging to the chain link walls, symbolizing bonds of love in a unique counterpoint to the broken plate we saw on Tuesday.

Then that evening, Hannah and Aaron took it upon themselves to clean out our garage and extract our little red wagon for a walk up the street. It won’t be long before we’ll be using again for a concert in the park (I hope).

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Then we had a fish fry feast with Phil and Jen on Friday (say that three times fast). We brought along things to make grilled cheese as our friends Jenny and Kody brought Banana Bread and some Mac and Cheese, respectively. Phil and Kody battered up and fried several filets of fish, along with some french fries and tater tots. We grown-ups also got to sample such unique things as peanut butter beer and some of Phil and Jen’s stash of hot sauce. We also got to try various treats from Taiwan, including “horse beans” and a soft drink made from white asparagus.

Our kids ate and had some fun playing with our mutual group of kids for a couple hours. It was also Gabriel’s birthday, so he got a dinosaur racetrack to play with before we had some blueberry cupcakes for dessert.

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We had a mostly quiet weekend and celebrated “Pi Day” with some actual chicken pot pie, courtesy of Vivian. Then on Monday, Hannah and her homeschool group got to see a “holey cow” provided by Nathan from the University of Nebraska and 4H. They got to learn about the insides of a cow, partly by literally putting their hands inside of it. This cow had a surgical hole in its side, which meant you could reach inside and even pick up the grass it had already eaten. I’m still reeling a bit from the idea, but it was hopefully educational.

In other news, it was also St. Patrick’s Day this week. That meant we learned a bit about St. Patrick at our monthly men’s dinner (which featured chicken from Pizza Ranch). We also had to have our usual Irish dinner of corned beef and cabbage, along with some Irish soda bread Vivian was kind enough to bake to go along with our Irish butter. I even got some Lucky Charms for a “full Irish breakfast” in the morning.

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Thursday was Uncle Jonny’s birthday, and it was just sunny enough for an evening walk down to grandma and grandpa’s house to celebrate. Hannah and Aaron each decorated some cards for him, and I brought along a “Koffee” mug as a gift. If you’re familiar with the Pokémon TV show, you know exactly how to say that word.

In other news, Hannah likes puzzles, Aaron lost another tooth, and I used a giant batch of leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes.

Social Distance

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As the world shuts down to deal with the Corona Virus, I spent Wednesday evening breaking quarantine to wish Uncle Jonny a Happy Birthday. The kids each decorated some birthday cards for him, which included such things as watermelon, corn kernels, Mega Man, and a maze. Vivian and I gave Uncle Jonny a gift card for RiffTrax to tide him over during the quarantine. He’s now working from home, and while everything else seems to be cancelled, they’ll be spending a lot of time indoors.

My mom made brownies for us, but we otherwise kept “socially distant.” I’m not sure when such things as walking with the kids to grandpa’s house will become a regular thing again, but I hope it’s soon.

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Of course, sheltering in place means more time for spring cleaning, so on Saturday I spent some time clearing out our storage area and setting up some shelving I’d bought at Aldi to help get things organized. I also gave our little apple tree a good pruning with the tips I’d learned from my visit to Ditmar’s a few weeks ago, and I even got a stake in the ground to help straighten it up a bit.

Then on Sunday, we had our virtual church service from Wildewood in our living room while eating some bacon and pancakes (and kale for Harold). We’d gotten a bit stir-crazy by lunchtime and decided to get outside a bit, stopping by McDonald’s for a lunch of double Big Macs before going downtown. We had a nice little walk around the Old Market despite the gray and drizzling weather. The kids seemed to enjoy just running around the nearly vacant streets. We did find that Dolci was still open for business, so we all got some Italian ice cream before heading home.

How are you spending the quarantine? Let us know in the comments below.

Fish Fry, Skating, and St. Patrick’s Day

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The Lenten season is upon us again, so that means touring some of Omaha’s famous fish fries, in particular the one at Holy Name. It’s is one of the biggest draws in town, attracting such guests as Congressman Don Bacon, as well as our tiny group. The fish is good, and watching it being battered in a custom-made contraption is a show all in itself.

This particular fish fry is baffling as many in the crowd outside — and packing the halls inside — seem more interested in standing around drinking instead of lining up for fish, making it difficult for the rest of us to know where to go. It’s a fun time once you make your way inside, though (and the smell will linger with us for weeks).

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The next day, I went downtown with Hannah to see the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It had been delayed a week due to unexpected snow and nasty weather, and it was about half as long as last year as well. We still saw the standard of parade participants, ranging from politicians to Star Wars characters, to Irish dancers, clowns, and even a Family Reunion of sorts. The weather was just about perfect, with temperatures rising to the fifties, so Hannah and I spent a little extra time watching geese fight along the now tree-less Gene Leahy Mall and looking at some of the flooding along the Missouri River. We even took a few minutes for a daddy/daughter date at Chick-Fil-A before heading on home.

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Later that day, we celebrated Uncle Jonny’s birthday with my parents and Uncle Nathan. Jonathan wanted to go roller-skating down at Skate City on Fort Crook, so I brought Hannah along and spent some quality time staggering awkwardly around the rink with her for an hour or two. It was legitimately the first time I’d ever gone roller skating, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined (particularly after one guy helped tighten my skates). Hannah, much to my surprise, had a grand time skating around the rink using a kind of walker they had on hand for the little ones.

Then that evening we headed back to my parents’ house for some Marco’s Pizza and pumpkin pie for dessert. We finished off the evening watching some family slides with the folks and then playing some Choose Your Words before calling it a night.

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On Sunday, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with our traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes and Irish soda bread, though we also had some special green foods for the kids that we hoped would be more palatable.

Then on Monday we headed down to the waterfront a family to get a look at some of the flooding from the Missouri River. The devastating flood has made national news, but we live and work far enough away from the flooded area that we’ve been largely unaffected. It was daunting to see the statues at Lewis and Clark landing drowning once again (as they did in 2011), as well as the entirety of River’s Edge Park completely underwater, making me wonder about the fate of Loessfest this year.

The kids mostly enjoyed the chance to get outside and run around, and we also saw a number Canadian geese migrating overhead, flying in wave after wave heading north in V formation. The effects of the flood were sobering in the meantime, but I couldn’t be prouder of the response of our friends and neighbors, who are stepping up with volunteers and supplies gathered at nearly every church I can name, including the ones we attend on Sunday and Wednesday night. Nebraska Strong, indeed.

Rock’em Sock’em Birthdays

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Winter has been having fits and starts, but it looks like we’re on our way to spring. Last Wednesday, Vivian brought the kids to the park along with some cupcakes to share (in lieu of paying $4 each at Jones Bros). After some brief time on the swings (with Raffie), we ran up and down a few hills to burn off the sugar rush before calling it a day.

Then on Friday, we paid a brief visit to Phil and Jen and their new baby Gabriel. This was a long-anticipated miracle for the two of them, and I was quite happy to take a few new family pictures of the happy parents.

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On Saturday, we joined my parents and two brothers to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday at the local Pizza Ranch. Hannah and Aaron each made a birthday card for Uncle Jonny (featuring Mega Man characters), and then we binged on pizza and fried chicken as the kids played horsey around the party room.

Back home we had some “impossible pie” cake and got to play a bit with a prize Jonathan brought home — a classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game. We also looked at some old family slides and played a couple rounds of Use Your Worlds together, but Hannah was more interested in watching her shadow jump in front of the screen.

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That evening, we gave the kids some green foods for St. Patrick’s Day, and then Vivian made a feast with corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, and Irish soda bread. We also had some Irish cheese, which we ate while watching the classic Disney film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, which is about as Irish as movie as you could find.

The next day, I got some one-on-one time with Hannah and decided to make some mint chocolate brownies with green icing just for fun. There’s never a bad time for sugar around our house!

Uncle Jonny’s Birthday and Bi-Polar Weather

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My brother Jonathan paid us a visit over the weekend to celebrate his birthday here in Omaha, and Nathan drove up from Lincoln to join in the fun. We celebrated in the traditional sense, with pizza, burgers, and a couple bad MST3k movies (that were actually quite hilarious) — Daddy-o and Girls Town, starring Paul Anka and Mel Tormé of all people.

We also spent a great deal of time playing with Photo Dojo, a downloadable game for the Nintendo DS. It takes advantage of the DS’s built-in cameras and lets you snap photos of your friends to create a Mortal Kombat style characters that can fight each other. We wrapped up the visit playing a round of DAK together at the kitchen. We didn’t even make it through one round, as Nathan and Jonathan both spent most of the time picking out cards they thought they’d thrown out.

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On Sunday, Vivian and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and took a twenty-mile bike ride up and down the Bellevue Loop Trail. I had been hoping to make it all the way up to Haworth Park (and then ride into Old Towne for ice cream), but the gale-force wind had the uncanny ability to blow in the opposite direction toward the end of our ride. We got to see some neat scenery along the way, including old railroad mile markers, long-abandoned telephone wires, and old farm equipment being devoured by weeds. We finished off our trip with Culver’s ice cream to replenish whatever calories we’d managed to burn off.

A few days later, the calendar decided to roll back to winter for some reason, and we got dumped with a few inches of snow out of nowhere. It felt crazy for this to happen in late March, but the roads stayed clean and the trees got a nice coating of wintry frosting.

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We have one other bit of exciting news — Vivian and I are going to be parents! Yes, Vivian took “the test,” and it came up positive! That means by the end of November, we’ll have a bouncing baby boy or girl on our hands. We’re still a bit overwhelmed with the news, and we went out to That’s Amore in Olde Towne Bellevue to celebrate together.

We’ll be keeping this all a secret for the time being, however, so be sure not to tell anybody until our “big reveal” party in May, which we’ll host under the guise of choosing a new color for our house.