Category Archives: Quarantine

Dandelion Soup and Buttermilk Biscuits

As parts of the country slowly begin to open up again, it feels like this pandemic season is starting to wind down — particularly when I start to see toilet paper and even hand sanitizer on grocery store shelves again. I’ll be happy never hearing the words “social distancing” ever again, but I’m also grateful our family has had a relatively happy, normal time during this time — and good health all around.

IMG_20200429_210251684IMG_20200430_204939624

Vivian’s been involved with her BSF Children’s Ministry for the past year, but because of the pandemic, her participation has been via Zoom meetings and pre-recorded videos for the little ones that I’ve helped her put together. It’s very sweet to see the little one and two year olds watching her happily singing and talking about Jesus on their computer screens.

We’ve had the opportunity to try new cuisine during this time, and not just the homemade pizza and mock Chick-Fil-A sandwiches made with red bag chicken. At some point last week, Hannah decided to make me “dandelion soup” with scraps she extracted from our yard (and some kale from the fridge). She even went so far as to write down a pictorial recipe for the dish.

IMG_9754IMG_9811

The city of Omaha opened up its parks again as well, so we spent Friday afternoon enjoying some blossoms and having a picnic (by the Twisty Tree) down at Hanscom Park. Hannah and Aaron always seem to be happier when they have the chance to get outside, and Hannah’s been having fun with her digital camera as well, snapping pictures goofing around with Aaron and also getting some snapshots of the local wildlife.

Hannah’s been busy playing outside in our yard during this time as well, either play-acting various video games with Aaron (and Daddy when he’s home) or building a makeshift treehouse by dragging a wading pool into the branches of our tree in our front yard. I’ve also been getting extra quality time with Aaron playing Kirby’s Return to Dreamland on the Wii in exchange for him completing lessons in Khan Academy. We managed to beat the game all the way through this past weekend — on “extra” mode — which Aaron proudly announced to Uncle Jonny via Zoom.

IMG_9975IMG_9981

Participating in church for the past few months has been limited to bible studies via Zoom and weekly worship service in our living room via Facebook live (streaming on my Raspberry Pi and tiny Goodwill TV). This has meant having church with such treats as homemade buttermilk biscuits with homemade butter and sausage gravy (while the kids watch Super Book and Bibleman in the basement).

We also celebrated Cinco de Mayo (AKA Taco Tuesday) with some burritos for the kids and homemade enchiladas for mom and dad. We’ve been eating fairly well in the midst of this pandemic, which means I’ll have to keep pedaling to work to burn off the extra calories (as long as the weather holds up).

In other news, Aaron lost his first tooth!

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.

IMG_9634Screenshot 2020-04-04 at 9.56.06 AM

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.

IMG_9646IMG_9666

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.

IMG_9697IMG_9726

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!

Fresh Air and Take-Out Tuesday

Spring is beginning to bud all over town (and in our yard), so over the past week, the Johnson Family has stopped “sheltering in place” long enough to have some fun outside, getting fresh air while waiting out the coronavirus (whether the kids like it or not).

IMG_8341IMG_8364

On Thursday, we had a picnic underneath the stage of Stinson Park and then had a lovely walk up and down the Keystone Trail. We got to see such things as fussy buds on a few trees, a stay birds’ nest, and some “shooting heart” graffiti underneath a bridge.

There are only a few restaurants open in Aksarben Village (and no movie theater) during the coronavirus lockdown, so the most activity I’ve seen are the window washers “flying” outside the Pacific Life building.

IMG_20200328_093347111Screenshot 2020-03-28 at 4.33.42 PM

In the meantime, we’ve been trying a few new things at home, such as homemade pizza, pretzels, sauce and salsa from Volcanic Peppers, and some “whipped coffee” that seems to be a craze online.

My parents also celebrated their 45th anniversary, but since we couldn’t join them, I installed Skype on my computer and let the kids say hello virtually. It’s getting a little frustrating not being able to say hello to grandma and grandpa these days, but hopefully this lock down will be over soon.

IMG_9388IMG_9492

On Sunday, we got some more fresh air walking the trails of the Fontenelle Forest. The doors seemed to be open for both members and non-members alike, so we got some exercise with the kids exploring the hilly trails, ponds, and overlooks around the forest, as well as the playground of course. We also got to see a red-headed woodpecker and the Constitution Tree before getting too tuckered out. Then Jack was kind enough to lend us some expiring fuel points to use on the way home, where we filled up at around $1.16/gallon.

When we’re not outside, I’ve been helping with some of our homeschooling as well, teaching Aaron math with Khan Academy, which he played out with chalk on the driveway one day driving home from work.

IMG_9530IMG_9576

We had a particularly special night on Take-Out Tuesday (as designated by our Governor). First, we swung by Dinker’s Bar and Grill to get some of Omaha’s Best Burgers for dinner, which we ate with fries picnic-style at Hanscom Park down the street. I’d visited this 150-year old park once or twice before, but this was the first time with the kids. Hannah was particularly interested in the “twisty tree” that swirled like a soft-serve cone.

Then after dinner, we drove down the street for a drive-by birthday parade for our Jitterbug friend Billy, who was turning forty. Some of our friends wanted to throw him an socially distant parade, so we and several Jitterbug friends lined up in our cars, some decorated appropriately, and drove past his house honking and waving around a 6:45. I think it made his day.

Social Distance

IMG_20200318_182206788IMG_20200318_192941211

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.

IMG_9303IMG_9351

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.

Sheltered in place

So, how’s COVID-19 treating you and your family these days? The sheer number of things that have been shut down in a week is just staggering. A week ago, I was taking Hannah to her Wednesday night church group without a second thought. If you read my blog, you can see every entry has some activity where we’re around ten or more people at one event of another.

Now, we can’t go anywhere with ten or more people and every church, restaurant, and public facility is shut down. We’re still making the most of this downtime, but it’s still hard to come to grips with so much of the world being turned upside down.

IMG_20200314_100816358IMG_20200317_173357926

We’d planned on going to a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, but it was cancelled, so I went out with my folks to breakfast at First Watch instead, hoping to get in one last meal in a sit-down restaurant before everything became take-out only a few days later.

We also got a bit of a freakish, mid-March snow in the meantime, leaving us with a frosted winter wonderland for a day or two. With all group activities cancelled, we’ve been taking the kids on a few extra walks outside just to get some fresh air — one thing that hasn’t been restricted by any guidelines from the CDC.

IMG_9292IMG_20200316_131115138

St. Patrick’s Day was similarly low-key — we got some corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes for dinner, but shopping has become a bit of a thrill ride. Every other store seems to be completely out of something — not just the famously impossible-to-find toilet paper or hand sanitizer but now pasta, canned tuna, bread and even milk can often be completely cleaned out of one store or another. Hearing rumors about a two-week lock down that included grocery stores (which later turned out to be Fake News) spurred me to fill an extra bucket of emergency food just in case

We’ll soon have to figure out some creative ways to have fun with ten or fewer people at a time, just to avoid cabin fever as we’re busy avoiding the Corona Virus. Fortunately, we got a head start on this schooling-from-home thing long before it became mandatory for everyone.