Category Archives: Halloween

Trunks and Treats

We made it to the end of October at last! That means finishing the rest of our garden tomatoes as actual snow starts to fall around the Omaha area for the first time this season (and probably not the last).


Our Halloween celebrations started on Tuesday as Grammy and Pop-Pop came over. Hannah (fresh from her new hideout) and Aaron helped Grammy decorate the back of her Honda Passport with some pumpkins, spiderwebs, and a few of their toys to create an adorable Halloween display for Wildewood’s Trunk or Treat event.

In the meantime, Vivian and Pop-Pop made some paella for dinner, which we all ate together in celebration after the trunk was ready for treating.


Then on Wednesday, we braved some chilly weather in the 30s with the kids to have some trunk-or-treating at Wildewood. Hannah and Aaron went as Miraculous’ Ladybug and a Ninja Warrior, respectively. We went inside to have some burgers and chili dogs for dinner along with a couple hundred other folks, including our friends the Lenarts. Then once we had enough warmth in us, we braved back outside to tour the variety of cute and monstrous trunks opened up with candy. I think my favorite trunk (aside from Grammy’s) was the giant purple monster, but the best costume was three ladies who came as cafeteria workers, dishing up candy with ladles, no less. One trunk came with a gas-powered fire for us to warm up by, and the final trunk had an entire obstacle course based around Genesis 1, ending with an apple tree of treats (and rubber snakes). I guess that’s one way to celebrate the Fall.

We warmed up inside a bit more with a few carnival style games, which involved blowing sailboats with straws, tossing footballs (and toilet paper), and bounding some ping pong balls. The kids walked away with giant buckets full of candy, which would be filling up again the n ext day as well.


All Hallow’s Eve was a bit warmer the next day. Vivian and the kids spent some time decorating pumpkins to leave by our doorstep, along with a couple mounds of pink cobwebs to greet our visitors. Vivian baked a lasagna for dinner, which we ate before getting the kids dressed for some Halloweening in our neighborhood. Aaron switched costumes to be a Ninja Turtle, after finally finding his mask. We walked the block around my parents’ house with Uncle Jonny collecting candy from a handful of neighbors, while Jack and Donna watched our door a block over until we returned. A number of our neighbors had fire pits out to keep warm during the evening, and I’ll have to try hauling ours out one more time before it starts snowing again.

It was a lovely, busy couple of days — now we just have to figure out what to do with all of our extra candy.

Halloween and the Home Stretch


It’s been a busy week back at work, juggling Halloween in-between and trying to enjoy a lovely, sunny week of fall. On Wednesday night we went trick-or-treating with the kids — and Uncle Jonny — in my parents’ neighborhood one street over. Both kids got a fairly good haul of candy, and Aaron’s bag was dragging along the ground as he excitedly went from door to door all the way around the block as the sun went down.

My parents had a busy night as well, with over a hundred trick-or-treaters at their own house (many of whom drove in from other neighborhoods). By comparison, our house only had around twenty for the whole night, which left us with quite the stockpile of candy afterward (and Johnny Marzetti).


We also have some mid-term elections coming up, which seem to be a bigger deal than usual for some reason. As such, there was a “fly-in” rally featuring Mayor Stothert, Congressmen Bacon and Fortenberry, Gov. Ricketts, and our ever-elusive Senator Ben Sasse. We had about a hundred our folks show up for the event (along with a few familiar faces), and all five politicians got to say a few words before breaking for lunch. Sen. Sasse hurried out almost immediately, but I was able to catch him for a moment and learn he was planning to be a guest on the Steven Crowder program in the near future. He’d also been invited to the Ben Shapiro Sunday Special but likely wouldn’t make it soon because of a “rule” that he’d have to fly to L.A. to be filmed on-set for the show.

Election Day is tomorrow, so I’m hoping the political noise will wind down a bit before the 2020 Presidential Campaign starts up, but I have a feeling that won’t be happening. In the meantime. I have an extra hour of morning to enjoy as Daylight Saving Time comes to and end (which I spent down at the Kroc Center).

This is Halloween!

At some point, Halloween became a multi-week holiday season all on its own. I don’t mind of course — it means we get more use out of our costumes, and a whole lot more candy to boot!


We kicked off the spooky fun last Sunday, when we took Hannah and Aaron for some trick-or-treating at First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue. There were plenty of tables set up with candy for the kids, and there were a handful of carnival-style games in the rec room for Hannah and Aaron to play. There was one “spooky room” with some dangling spiders and ghosts that mostly amused Hannah. Nicholette’s little brother, who could pass for Aaron’s twin under normal circumstances, also came in an identical Green Gecko outfit, which was even more hilarious.


Then on Friday, Vivian and I dressed up as the Loan Arranger and a 404 Error and took a long-overdue trip to the Eagle’s Lodge — where we hadn’t gone swing dancing together since last Halloween. Nate and Lexi came as well (dressed as old-timey gangsters), and we saw a handful of familiar faces throughout the night. We did a handful of group dances, including the (Monster) Mashed Potato, a shim sham, and Thriller, led by Takashi, of course. There was a costume contest with prized for both most creative and most authentic. The “eclipse” couple were the clear crowd favorite, but my personal favorite was the guy who came as “Billy,” which made some plenty of hilarious pictures once I put the two of them together.


On Saturday night, Jenny and Kody hosted their annual Costume Party, once again at Dean and Sarah’s (new) house in West Omaha. We whipped up some brooms brought along both our kids for the first time, who had fun running around with Delana and a few of the other little ones who came along. All our usual friends were there, including Phil and Jen, Jon Paper, Aunt Jessica, Anne and Brandon, Heather and Shane, Libby and Ole, the Hoffmans, Tamra and Ryan, Katie and Li Ya and several others. We had several group dances throughout the night, including another round of Thriller led again by Takashi (and this time I got Libby to take some photos). Matthew’s Star Lord mask got some extra use by Jon and me, and I got one big group picture of everyone toward the end of the night before we headed home, exhausted.


The on Sunday, several businesses in Olde Town Bellevue held their own trick-or-treating event. The weather was an irresistible 60 degrees through most of the afternoon, so we took the kids down to get even more candy from the collection of cute little shops downtown. We saw lots of familiar faces down there, including Rutiger the Magician and Mrs. B from the library. An odd-looking group of Jellyfish also made an appearance walking down Mission Avenue together. The best costume of the night by far, however, was a girl dressed in an Owlette costume, which made for a perfect picture with our Cat Boy and Gecko in the bounce house together!


By the time Halloween Night finally rolled around, it felt like we’d been trick-or-treating all month! It was also nearly freezing with legit snowflakes coming down, so we spent just a few minutes trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house first, of course.

Then we retreated to the Heritage Ridge assisted living facility on Fort Crook and Hwy. 370 to trick or treat with some of the seniors there, where it was much, much warmer. Grammy and Pop-Pop held down the fort with their assortment of Pumpkin Ghouls to hand out treats and keep an eye out for tricksters, such as the guy who nailed some essay to a cathedral half a century ago.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2016


It’s Halloween again, a holiday that seems to be as much for grown-ups nowadays as it is for kids. On Friday night, we took Hannah and Aaron down to the Sarpy YMCA for some trunk-or-treating with various little ones, getting bucketfuls of candy from various folks with decorated trunks. Then we let them burn off some of their sugar high inside a bounce house or two in the Y before we headed for home.

Then mommy and daddy had a turn as dress-up as we headed down to the Eagles Lodge for their Halloween Dance as Trump and Hillary (or The Oompa Loompa Billionaire and Crooked Vivian, if you’re easily triggered). Nate and Lexi came along with us as a double date, though we didn’t get much time to dance with one another outside of the lesson.

Vivian and I weren’t the only Trump and Hillary, but we did take second place during the (RIGGED!) costume contest. We decided to “fight” with one another during the parade around the dance floor, which is what Nate told us sold” it to the judges. Other winners were Homer and Marge Simpson and Bob Ross and a Pretty Little Tree. We also had our shim sham and performance of thriller before calling it a night.


Saturday was delightfully warm for an October day, so Vivian and I took the kids down to the Fontenelle Forest to enjoy being out in nature with so much as a jacket. We walked farther down the trail than we’d never been before, reaching a picturesque little bridge and bond next to the railroad tracks. The kids also had fun along the boardwalk and playing in the tree-house before we headed home.

That evening, we had brats for dinner at my parents house, eating and playing outside until a cold front started moving in. Then we headed back indoors and watched a terribly embarrassing slideshow of me and my brothers growing up. Ah, memories.


Vivian cooked up a tasty pre-Halloween dinner on Sunday of liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti (pfft pfft pfft pfft). We saved some of the leftovers for Halloween night, when Jack and Donna came to watch our house as we took the kids trick-or-treating. We stayed mostly in my parents’ neighborhood, where we first went to their house and then rounded the block, filling their buckets yet again with cavity-inducing goodness. I’m hoping we got enough mileage out of their little outfits. They certainly were cute!

Hillarump and Pence


Halloween is upon us once again, and that means dressing up as the scariest pair of characters imaginable for Jenny’s Halloween Bash: our own two Presidential Candidates! That’s what Vivian and I decided to do in an unusually bi-partisan move (with plenty of jokes at the expense of Trump and Hillary). My costume was relatively simple, as it only required a suit and tie (which I already owned) along with a little makeup and a wig. Vivian borrowed my parents’ orange prison jumpsuit, which frankly, honestly, was supposed to look more like an orange pantsuit (seriously). It was a fun evening with our assortment of mutual friends, including Mr. Clean, the Mad Hatter, Lumber Jack, She-Ra, the Musketeer Family, Joy and Anger, Mr. and Mrs. Tron, Peach and Mario, that included the usual bit of dancing (to Thriller in particular) along with birthday cake for Jenny and invincibility cookies for Kody.


On Wednesday night, Hannah and Aaron got a bit of early Halloween fun at First Presbyterian Church, trick-or-treating among the volunteers for candy and then playing a few games in their multi-purpose room.

Then on Thursday, I got to dive briefly back into the political world when Mike Pence came to Omaha. He gave a speech at Midstates Construction Products, which is a stone’s throw from where I work, so dropping by to check things out was fairly easy. The usual cast of campaign characters were there, including some brief antics from a few left-wingers. Don Bacon and Gov. Pete Ricketts both introduced Pence before the took the stage, and Gov. Pence had plenty of nice things to say about them both. There was actually a brief medical emergency as someone near the front passed out during Ricketts speech, and the Governor stopped the speech and asked the crowd to join him prayer for the man as he was tended to by medical personal, which was touching.

When Pence was finished, he greeted everyone near the front with handshakes, selfies, and autographs before taking off. A woman next to me had brought her three kids, so I helped them get to the front to meet Gov. Pence. I’d been to enough to these events to know how this was done, and it was the first campaign event any of them had attended this year,

It’s honestly hard to believe this election isn’t over yet. Just a few more days.

Tricks, Treats, and Chris Christie


It’s Halloween Weekend at least, and I decided to kick things off by rubbing elbows with another presidential candidate in Council Bluffs, this time the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. All the usual gang was there, including Tom Becka and that one guy pretending to be Secret Service, (don’t let the earpiece fool you — it’s just for decoration). The event was held at the tiny Glory Days Bar & Grill, likely to make the crowd of 100 or so people seem much larger than if they held it at the mid-america center.

Of course, that also meant the restaurant was at capacity before I even arrived, but those of us milling around outside did get the chance to grab the Governor for a picture or two as he made his way inside. I even managed to squeeze inside for a few pictures in-between reporters after a few of them left during the Q&A. I was honestly impressed with the governor handling tough questions from the crowd on topics such as the Fort Lee lane closure scandal and a lawsuit on EPA emissions. Maybe some of these Iowans should be moderating the debates instead of the clowns from NBC.

I was also hoping to have a pizza lunch with Marco Rubio (along with Vivian and my mom), but the Senator from Florida cancelled the event to actually vote on something in Washington instead. Maybe next time.


That evening, Vivian and I dropped by the Eagle’s Lodge for their annual Halloween dance. We helped with decorations before things got started and then spent the evening dancing with our usual cluster of Lindy Hopping friends. There was live music from a band called Three Day Weekend (mostly too-fast Jazz that left my feet aching), and we got Takashi to lead in another round of Thriller as well, which was terrific.

There was also a Jack and Jill dance competition (which involved holding pumpkins for some reason) as well as the costume contest. Winners included Dan Wondra as Groucho Marx, The Greatest American Hero (who looked a bit like Harpo standing next to Dan), and Lacey as Madame Blueberry.


And then there was actually Halloween Night. It’s such a neat experience to participate in this event through the eyes of our kids. Hannah painted a pumpkin for our front porch, and then we took her and Aaron out for an evening of taking candy from strangers (and Grandma and Grandpa Johnson. Hannah went as Anna from Frozen, and Aaron toddled along as Pooh, insisting on carrying two buckets with him as they got filled up with fun-size Snickers and Kit Kats. Jack and Donna were nice enough to hold the fort back at our house until our kids were properly exhausted (and down from a sugar high) when we came home.


We finished off the weekend with a relatively quiet Sunday afternoon. Our friends the Rietjens have just one or two more weeks left in Nebraska, so we went to the Burger King on Cornhusker Road with them for a kind of Last Luncheon together. The kids got some quality time running through the Hamster Tubes in the play area as well as we ate burgers and fries. We’re definitely going to miss this whole family once they go.

Village Pointe and Pastor Drew

Halloween is nearly here again, and with dropping temperatures and shorter days, you can feel autumn will be moving fast into winter too long. That means taking advantage of the odd warm day at the park to run around in the fountains making footprints is more important than ever.


I mentioned in a few previous updates, Pastor Drew Rietjens and his family will soon be leaving Twin Valley Church to move on to Clear Lake, Iowa. To thank them for all their years with us, Vivian and I invited them over to our house for an evening of tacos of playing Wii Mario Kart downstairs. I always love having other kids over to the house, since Hannah and Aaron both seem to love playing with other kids (which gives us grown-ups time to chit-chat, of course). We also had a couple family portraits to give to the Rietjens as a going-away present, but we naturally forgot to give those to them until Sunday.


On Saturday, we took Hannah and Aaron down to Village Pointe to go trick-or-treating at the mall in their little costumes. We actually put Hannah into her pumpkin outfit for her annual Pumpkin Outfit picture, but she somehow didn’t want to take it off, so we let her wear it all afternoon. She seemed initially reluctant to take candy from strangers at the mall, oddly enough, and she enjoyed seeing all the other kids dressed up as goofy characters even more than free candy. I also helped a bunch of guys move a giant pumpkin or two up onto a big pumpkin display. They’d had some kind of pumpkin-carving event earlier in the day, but I didn’t stay around long enough to watch them light them al in the evening.

Next stop: Halloween!

All Hallows’ Eve


It’s All Hallows’ Eve once again, which means taking little ones around the neighborhood for a giant sugar binge right before bedtime. (Whose idea was this?!) Hannah started the evening off by painting the pumpkin she picked out herself at Union Orchard and placing it out on the front stoop for all her fellow Halloweeners to see. Then she put on her Cinderella gown one more time so mom and dad could take her on a chilly evening walk to get candy from the neighbors. While we were out, a team of horses from Barebacks & Bells came riding up the street, with young ladies trick-or-treating on horseback. Welcome to Nebraska, everybody.

This was little Aaron’s first Halloween, but he’s too little for trick-or-treating or candy. We did, however, stop by my parents’ house so he and his sister could say hello in costume. (Aaron’s a giraffe, this year, Vivian says. A giraffe!)


After the kids were tucked in bed, Vivian and I got to have some Halloweening of our own down at the Eagles’ Lodge dressed as Professor Wagstaff and a Crime Scene (with Grammy and Pop-Pop watching the house). We don’t go out dancing nearly as often as we used to, so it felt good to be back in the “swing” of things once again. We had a few special visitors in attendance as well — Jessica Ritchie dropped in from North Carolina, Keith was also back from his sabbatical in Utah, and Sarah Epperly Hood came by after many, many years of hiatus.

The usual gang of Lindy Hopping ghouls were there as well, and we had a costume contest halfway through the evening where everyone could show off their duds to Beauty and the Beast on stage. We had a sham-sham as usual, and a round of Thriller shortly thereafter led by the ever-enthusiastic Takashi. He also had his moment in the spotlight doing some karaoke to Mack the Knife. That made our evening quite complete.


Halloween didn’t end with the end of October, however. On Saturday night, Merinda threw her annual Halloween Party at her place in mid-town, so Vivian and I donned our costumes again and headed up for another round of dressing up and dancing with our cluster of mutual friends. We took a couple swings at a skull-shaped pinata and opened up the dance floor for Lindy Hopping to songs such as The Monster Mash and Ghostbusters. One of my Groucho eyebrows came off, but I immediately found a use for it as way to complete Ben Peet’s Charlie Chaplin costume. We also played a little bowler frisbee before Eric started stripping. At that point, we decided to call it a night.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Next stop — Thanksgiving.

Aaron’s Dedication and Pre-Halloween Fun


Halloween is coming soon, and that means breaking out the old Pumpkin Costume for Hannah to try on and see how much she’s grown in the past year. We’ve been able to snap a photo of her in her costume every Halloween of her life so far, and I expect it’s a tradition that will hold up just as long as the costume does.

On Friday night, the Sarpy YMCA had their annual Trunk or Treat event, so we took Hannah and Aaron down to get a bit of a sugar fix for the evening. This year, Hannah’s going as Cinderella (and not Elsa, as every other little girl in the country seems to be dressed as). We bumped into a few friends as we made our way among all the open trunks of candy. Hannah got to have some fun in the bounce houses inside afterward, jumping around as much as she could in her floor-length nylon ballroom gown. Aaron’s just recently discovered his toes and will likely be playing with them rather than doing any serious trick-or-treating this year.


On Saturday, we drove down to Union Orchard to ride on a wagon, pick out a pumpkin and have a couple Apple Slushies and Donuts, and then Hannah broke in a few of the kiddie rides before we left. We drove back up to Bellevue to have an afternoon at Toni’s house celebrating her birthday with a few of her family and friends (and jalapeño poppers). Hannah had fun running around with a few of the kiddos present, discovering the shows of swinging in a hammock and showering other people with leaves. Aaron got to have a few cute moments and was quite happy just being passed around from person to person.

We had a bit of excitement around 3:45 as a motorcyclist was speeding down the boulevard and ran head-on into a nearby Jeep. The street was narrow with cars parked along the north side, and the bulky Jeep didn’t have any room to maneuver out of the way before the motorcycle came along. I got to see most of the accident out of the corner of my eye and take a couple pictures for the cops who showed up. The motorcyclist tried to make a break for it once people started talking about calling 911. We suspect he may have been enjoying a few adult beverages before his joyride.


On Sunday, we had Aaron dedicated before the congregation of Twin Valley Baptist church, saying our vows to raise him in a Godly, Christian home with the help of family and friends present. He wore my grandfather’s 116-year-old baptismal gown, as Hannah did, while we were up at the front with Pastor Drew. After the service, we and our gaggle of friends and family went down to the Village Inn on Fort Crook for a giant family luncheon of pancakes and broccoli. Hannah’s friend Sam came along, and she got to practice a few more of the frog faces she learned while at Lacie and Caleb’s wedding last week. She’s getting frighteningly good at making them.

In other news, with the weather being perpetually gorgeous this fall, I decided to try biking to work a couple times with my dad’s bike. The Keystone Trail runs fairly close to our house and my workplace, so it made for a perfect route to ride some five miles each way. That is except for the giant chunk that the city of Omaha decided to demolish between Grover and Center, diverting traffic from the lovely level trail to the crazy ups and downs of 72nd Street. Seriously, UNO, did you really need four months to create a pedestrian bridge for a parking lot for your new hockey arena? Tell people to park in Bellevue and just ride their bikes on up. It’s better than sitting in bleachers watching the guys on skates get exercise.


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Happy Hannah-ween, everyone! Hannah’s nearly two years old, and that means that she can participate in the beloved tradition of holding up a bucket and asking strangers for candy. On Sunday, Vivian and I went by Shadowlake Mall so Hannah could toddle around the stores with several hundred other kids and get some candy from the participating shops, Then on Thursday evening, Vivian and I took turns walking Hannah around the neighborhood to say hello to our neighbors and get even more candy. It was a nice lesson in patience as Hannah wanted to drop her bucket and suck on lollipops instead of walking from house-to-house to get more. We’ve gone from gorgeous, sunny fall days to rainy and gloomy spring-like weather during this week, so I’m fairly glad our trick-or-treat nights were timed just perfectly this time around.

Happy Halloween! On to Thanksgiving.