Category Archives: Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo Weekend

It seems like we’re always busiest when we’re having fun, and even though I’ve been plenty busy at work lately, it doesn’t compare to our non-stop activity all throughout the weekend.

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On Friday morning, Aaron had an end-of-year “spring concert” with his little friends at Spring Lake. They sang a handful of songs for us, complete with the motions (and egg shakers) you’d expect with any children’s song. They also had displays for every class showing some of their activities throughout the year, including visits from Grammy and the raptor handlers from Fontenelle Forest. Mommy, Hannah, and Grammy came along as well, and I came just long enough to snap some pictures before heading back to work.

Then that evening Vivian and I finally watched Avengers: Endgame over a big old bowl of popcorn. We are now spoiler-proof!

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Then on Saturday morning, I took Hannah down to 24th and G to watch the Cinco de Mayo parade in South Omaha. We hadn’t been there for a couple years, and we discovered there are now barricades all along the parade route. The parade itself had the standard Mexicans dancers, costumers, horses, and Hydraulic Bouncing Lowriders. There were also numerous Halloween-themed participants, which was even more bizarre than the guy in a kilt. There were a few politicians as well, and I gave Mayor Stothert props for picking up a stray plastic bag that skittered its way across 24th street. Hannah was able to fill a big with so much candy she had trouble carrying with us back to the car.

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I returned home with enough time to catch my breath before heading right back across the river to see Democrat presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. A couple hundred people (and some vendors) showed up to Woodrow Wilson Middle School to hear him prattle off platitudes like an old-timey preacher, but what impressed me most was his Q&A, where his first question was from a guy wearing a Gadsden Flag as a cape (and a “Make Taxation Theft Again” hat). That took either guts or complete ignorance. He also answered a question in both English and Spanish, reminding me of how I liked Marco Rubio being able to bring a message home to Spanish-speaking Americans.

Beto stuck around for photos with everyone afterward, but I didn’t get the chance to shake his hand or way hello — I had to stay on schedule!

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I returned home for a quick bite to eat and then headed right back out again for a free night at the Zoo! It had been a while since we’d all gone as a family. so it felt good to be back among such familiar sights as the giant globe and gorilla statues. Many of the animals seemed to be sleeping, though the bats in the jungle area were wide awake (and pooping on everyone). The aquarium was still open as well, making for as lovely as walk-through as always. We got to see a handful of monkeys, birds, and otters hanging around, and we also went through the butterfly pavilion before wrapping things up. Hannah finished our visit by chasing a peacock around before we headed on out.

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Then on Sunday, we went back to the La Vista Sports Complex to fly a kite with Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Jonny after church. This has been a family tradition for a couple years now, and we almost missed it thanks to a line of thunderstorms that were nice enough to pass us by. Dad let me assemble the kite and get it airborne this year. The wind was strong enough to make it fairly easy, and we even got to tie Tinkerbell to the center strut to spend some time in the sky. It was just about as perfect an afternoon as you could ask for, and the kids even got to have ice cream before we headed home (courtesy of Uncle Jonny).

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I got some food from Aldi for Cinco de Mayo and then headed home to give the lawn a quick mow before it started raining (for the entire week). We were lucky to have lovely weather almost all weekend long, giving us a chance to enjoy our briefly-blooming tulips and lilac, even Zoey the Cat got to spend some time outside.

Vivian made up some tacos for the kids, which Aaron helped her to make. Then once the kids were in bed, we had some tasty tilapia ceviche together, devouring two pounds of fish between the two of us while watching the Three Amigos together, a film I hadn’t seen since I was a kid (and didn’t find as funny as I’d hoped).

It was a busy, busy weekend, but now I have a week back at work to rest up before the next round of fun!

Three-Day Mother’s Day Weekend

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The Johnson Family had a lovely (and busy) little three-day weekend together, starting things off on Friday with a trip to Lauritzen Gardens. Once again it was free for National Public Gardens Day, so we went to see what blooms were out with my mom and dad and the Mills family in tow. There weren’t quite as many blooms out this year, but we had a nice time looking at the model trains, tasting some mint, and keeping the kids from drowning in the surprisingly deep fountain in the children’s area. Hannah and Aaron also got some quality time with their little friends as mommy visited with Lexi and daddy took pictures of the happy blooms that poked out to endure the sunny, 85-degree weather.

Donald Trump was also in town, but we decided not to spend all afternoon crammed into a giant hangar waiting for him to make an appearance.

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On Saturday morning, we made our annual trip to South Omaha for the Cinco de Mayo parade. It featured the usual batch of politicians, costumers, native dancers, and lassoing gauchos with the dancing horses right behind. Hannah’s attended the parade every year of her life, so it felt good to keep up the tradition. She seemed far more interested in playing with her new toy balloon than competing with all the other kids for candy, however. Aunt Jessica joined us at our spot in front of South High School to snap some pictures, and then we had some burritos from Abelardo’s for lunch afterward.

That evening, I did some yard work in preparation for Mother’s Day, and the kids were nice enough to help. I also ran some errands wearing my new Mexican flag style t-shirt, prompting at least one Hispanic to ask me, “¿Mexicano?” Just for today, mi amigo.

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Sunday, of course, was Mother’s Day. At church, Pastor Ryan had a lovely little Mother’s Day tribute video prepared to honor all the moms in attendance (as well as some Dove chocolate). Then at home, I baked some quiche for a brunch as mommy opened presents from Hannah and Aaron, which were wrapped in their own scribbled decorations. Grammy got a flower pot with Hannah and Aaron’s footprints on it, and Vivian got her usual gift bag of smelly cheese (among other things).

Then at dinnertime, we took the kids to grandma and grandpa Johnson’s house, where Hannah learned she and my mom have an affinity for black licorice. My dad smoked up some pork ribs for dinner, and both my brothers were there to eat with us. Dad and Aaron played with puppets, and I got to read a story or two, and then after dinner we watched a slideshow with family pictures dating back to our time in Kentwood.

I also got to show everyone a special video I’d made for Vivian featuring our two kids. You can see that below.


Happy Mother’s Day!

Cinco de Mayo and Lindy in the Park

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Hello, May! It’s nice to see you again. On Saturday morning, we went down to 24th and L Streets to check out the Cinco de Mayo parade, an annual tradition Hannah’s been able to enjoy every year of her life (so far). There was a threat of rain, but it mostly passed by and we barely got a sprinkle. The parade itself was the usual ensemble of politicians from both parties, people dressed in festive costumes (both classy and frightening), native dancers, random businesses promoting themselves, drill teams, and the dancing horses bringing up the rear. This was Aaron’s first Cinco de Mayo, but he seemed mostly content to play with his maraca. We were at the tail end of the parade, which meant Hannah got showered with candy paraders were trying to get rid of as the wrapped up.

The crowd around our end seemed to get larger as larger as paraders came to join the lively throng after finishing their trip down 24th Street. We also saw a familiar face or two in the crowd, and we probably got some pictures of ourselves somewhere on social media with all the cameras pointed this way and that during the parade. We got Hannah a Dora balloon and grabbed a couple burritos from Abelardo’s for lunch before going home.

(We saved some room on Cinco de Mayo itself for some massive nacho fries.)

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That evening, Dennis had a birthday party, so we dropped by to let Hannah and Aaron run amuck with his kids for a few hours as we had burgers and hot dogs with the grown-ups. Brandy was bouncing around as usual, but Hannah wasn’t nearly as terrified as the first time she pounced on her.
We grabbed some food at Fareway on the way home so we would have something to bring to the potluck church the next day, a potluck made a bit more special as Aunt Jessica made her return to Nebraska a bit more permanent by joining us for lunch.

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After church, we had Lindy in the Park up at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village. The Sobczyk family was back again, with their kids looking as cute as ever. Hannah seemed more interested in chalk than dancing, but I get her up on the floor to hop around a couple times. Aaron’s still too little to Lindy Hop, but he didn’t enjoy crawling about and riding on daddy’s shoulders. Mostly, it was nice to hang around with our usual cluster of Jitterbug friends (and my doppelganger), albeit for a few minutes.

Conspicuously absent was Dan Wondra. I’d been wanting to see if we could borrow him and his boom box for a Lindy Bomb down at the Gene Leahy Mall, which has recently been put back together after for lengthy deconstruction, and was always a better place to dance, IMHO.

In other news, we took Hannah to swim at the Y, and Sherry and Rob stopped by to see our adorable kids (and to meet our son for the first time). Our kids also got some screen time.

Kites and Parades

There are so many things I love about springtime, from trees all in blossom to the beautiful weather that comes between the winter frost and the summer furnace. Of course, the weather in Nebraska is anything but predictable, but it’s been just perfect for a week or two and that calls for plenty of fun outdoors (particularly at the park).

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On Saturday morning, Vivian and I went up to South Omaha to watch the Cinco de Mayo parade. This was Hannah’s third time seeing the parade, and this year we decided to check out the view from the south end of the route around 24th and L Street. It was a totally different experience, with people crammed elbow-to-elbow along the city streets, making it a bit difficult for us to find a place to watch. The parking lot of the Subway around the corner turned out to be just fine, however. We got to see the usual cluster of local businesses, politicians, drill teams, horses, and dancers dressed in festive garb. What made watching the parade from the finish line special, however, was that the band and dancers holding up the rear stayed around for some extended music and dancing for anyone who cared to stick around and watch, which was particularly fun.
We made the obligatory run to Jacobo’s afterward for frozen tamales and other south-of-the-border foods for Monday night and then grabbed Alvorado’s on the way home.

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On Sunday, we decided to go and fly a kite down at the La Vista soccer complex with several dozen other avid kite flyers. My dad was an avid kite-flyer a few years ago, but North Carolina is fairly stingy with wind and he hadn’t done any real flying since around 2003. He definitely seemed happy to get our little rainbow kite airborne once again. Hannah also had fun running around in the giant empty green spaces, checking out some giant flying fish and grabbing for candy in a candy drop with a bunch of other kids. We also decided to send her little Cow Baby airborne just for the fun of it. Dad got it all tied up securely, Hannah gave it a kiss for luck before sending it airborne at the end of the day. There’s nothing quite like flying a kite to make an afternoon seem worthwhile (definitely more fun than doing yard work, but don’t tell that to Hannah).

¿Que mes es esto?

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So, Cinco de Mayo happened over the weekend, and the cold and rainy and generally gray weather was enough to make me ask, “¿Que mes es esto?” Hannah had her very first Cinco de Mayo experience last year, when it was sunny and warm and we had to find shade and some cold ceviche. We only stayed for the parade for about half an hour before deciding to go home and warm up. It gave us enough time to see some inexplicable costumers, extremely lame “floats” that were just cars with magnetic stickers for local businesses, and the line of horses bringing up the rear. Hannah has an equestrian fascination at the moment and had never seen a “hose” in real life before.

That evening, the three of us crashed at Jenny and Libby’s for a Quatro de Mayo party with our cluster of mutual friends. We brought beans and rice to go with enchiladas and sangria, and we had a sombrero and some maracas for my hijita to play with. Of course, we also had a piñata to take a few swings at outside. Mommy, daddy, and even Hannah took a few turns whacking at it, which produced much better results than a “goofus” of years past that I could mention.

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One other major development over the weekend was our unexpected winning of the “blue pass” contest at Jitterbugs. The Jitterbug volunteers were encouraged to give our specially-marked passes to people, and the person who passed out the most would get a free pass to a dance workshop hosted by Christian Frommelt and Jenny Shirar from St. Louis. Well, thanks to Vivian’s co-workers, that winner turned out to be us. Or should I say, me, because after much discussion, we decided that I would be the one to participate in the workshops, mostly because after checking the guest list, follows outnumbered the leads by a few heads. It was the first time in a couple years that I’ve been able to participate in dance classes of any kind, and it was a great experience. On Saturday, I wore my feet out working on my swing out, getting a crash course in St. Louis Shag, and then stumbling through a series of footwork drills. Then on Sunday, we met up again at Troy’s house for classes in Al & Leon’s Shim Sham, dynamic Lindy Hop, and some exhausting St. Louis Style Swing Outs (which involve turning around twice in eight counts instead of just once — dizzying to say the least).

What I discovered in the end was that this was great exercise not just physically but mentally as well. Observing other people’s dance steps and trying to remember them long enough to do them myself was a terrific workout for my mind — like a bunch of rusty, unused gears were suddenly working together once again after many years of disuse. My only challenge now is to remember what I learned so I can teach it to Vivian the next time we hit the dance floor.

An apple tree, Cinco de Mayo, and Windy in the Park

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Vivian and I recovering from another long, fun-filled weekend, and we managed to include Hannah in almost all of it. It started off with digging a giant hole in our backyard and planting an apple tree in the corner section next to our fence. It’s an “oliver” variety with blossoms already blooming, so we just might get an apple or two this season. That would be exciting.

We decided to drop by Jitterbugs Night Out with Hannah that evening and got to see our friend Kirsten’s new (three-month-old) baby Ariadne, so our night of dancing was full of baby goodness. Of course, Vivian and I had plenty of time to dance while Hannah was busy being held by Enrique and Marilou while slowly falling asleep.

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On Saturday — Cinco de Mayo — Vivian and I took Hannah on up to South Omaha see her first parade. The usual cast of characters participated in the parade — festive costumes, dancing horses, lassoers, pimped-out cars, churches, drill teams, and for some reason, Scotsmen. There was also the usual glob of politicians such as Congressman Lee Terry and Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle (who was greeted with stony silence and plenty of room behind him). Bob Kerrey was in the parade as well, happily reminding everyone who he was after an extended leave of absence teaching in New York City. He asked me to take a picture of him with a complete stranger and email it to her after the parade. (Her address was unfortunately eaten by my Android phone, so I hope she somehow finds this photo herself via Google or something).

It was a fun parade, as usual, though the hot, humid weather left the crowd sweating and moving inch-by-inch to stay in the shade. I grabbed some tasty seviche from a food truck, which managed to cool Vivian and me down a bit before the parade wrapped up. The food continued that evening with a giant plate of enchiladas, courtesy of Vivian.

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The weather couldn’t have been more different on Sunday afternoon, when a cold front pushed its way through with a smattering of thunder and lightning. It left us with a cool afternoon and gale-force winds coming out of nowhere — perfect weather for an outdoor dance! A bunch of our Jitterbug friends came to join us in Papillion City Park for our own “Windy in the Park” event. Dan and Cliff were kind enough to supply music through their two “Tailgater” sound systems, and we had over 20 people show up to dance, including Vivian’s mom and dad. (Naturally, I got to dance with both grandma and grandbaby.) Vittles were also passed around courtesy of Cliff and Lisa. We had plenty of dancing, a shim sham, random goofiness from the ladies (and the guys). It was also Hannah’s first “Lindy in the Park” experience, though she spent her time just being insufferably cute.

Ren Fairs, Salsa, and Mother’s Day

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Vivian and I have been enjoying the Best Weather of the Year here in Bellevue and took advantage of the great outdoors by joining a bunch of our friends (and Vivian’s mom) at the Renaissance Fair. Vivian and I attended the fair last year, and enjoyed seeing what was new and improved this time around. We enjoyed a much more elaborate show down a the Jousting Arena this year — instead of knocking over cabbages, we had knights actually hitting each other with lances in engaging in sword-fighting down on the ground. It had all the flair of a pro-wrestling match, and the crowd even started stomping along in time with Queen’s “We rill rock you,” a la “Knight’s Tale.”

Of course, we also enjoyed stuffing ourselves with medieval food, including turkey legs, root beer “grog,” and some tasty but absolutely horrible-looking pickled eggs and beets. I got to try my hand at archery for the first time, which went about as well as I could expect (no fatalities). We also got to try on some helmets and chain mail and even kick around a chain-mail hackey sack. Strangely enough, we got the most entertainment out of a couple wooden stakes that we each took turns balancing on. I’ve got to install a couple of those in our backyard.

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Vivian made up some tasty enchiladas for our own private Cinco de Mayo dinner, and we celebrated with our friends at GAMe the next day at a Salsa party down at 13th and Jones. Enrique was back to walk us through the basics of salsa and meringue, and I found myself reverting to Charleston several times as I stepped back and forth in my tiny Latin box. There was also plenty of Mexican-style food to go around, including pico de gallo, quesadillas, stuffed jalapeños and sopapillas with honey — that kept us going long enough to smack open a couple of piñatas at the end of the night.

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On Sunday, the men of Twin Valley Church decided to put on a huge breakfast for the ladies in honor of Mother’s Day. Pastor Drew made up some blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes while Jeff scrambled eggs and Tim sliced up orange. The ladies — both moms and non-moms — got to enjoy everything on behalf of the men of the church, and it was a good way to get full and sleepy right before the church service started. (Needless to say, I went home for a long nap afterward, though that was mostly due to the Worst Cold in the World descending upon me.)

Cinco de Mayo

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Happy Cinco de Mayo, everybody! Vivian and I had an enjoyable weekend “south of the border” in South Omaha to enjoy a parade and plenty of Mexican food over the weekend. 24th Street was jam-packed with spectators hoping to catch some candy thrown by local banks and community colleges. They had plenty of auto dealers and politicians making the rounds as well — a toddler next to us was accosted by Republicans and Democrats alike and wound up covered in political stickers by the time the parade was done. There were also some “gauchos” at the end of the parade riding a troop of amazing prancing horses. I thought something was seriously wrong with the animals at first until Vivian pointed out several of them were tapping around in sequence. It was quite a sight. We had a long, long walk through the heart of South Omaha sampling Mexican food from various booths and getting plenty of sunburn. There was also plenty of free music for everyone to enjoy as we stood in line for our tacos and chicharrones.

DSCF0021.JPGMay the Fifth this year also happened to be Free Comic Book Day. Vivian and I had celebrated the day two years ago by meeting Margot Kidder at Krypton Comics and getting to see a comic book I edited for Comic Genesis available on the shelf at Dragon’s Lair, which was quite awesome. This year, Krypton Comics brought Lou Ferrigno (best known for his role as The Incredible Hulk on TV back in the 1970s) to Omaha, but there was a huge crowd waiting to get in an hour before the place opened, so we dropped by a smaller comic shop on Leavenworth instead. In addition to an assortment of freebies, I also picked up a copy of Watchmen for 50% off. I’d been meaning to read it for ages.