Category Archives: Library

Fish, Lions, Spaghetti, and the Mads

It’s been another crazy, busy week at work and home for the Johnson Family (fueled by avocado toast), but at the end of it, we finally have a car once again, which was a relief. I was able to use it for several errands, including a lunchtime rendezvous with Vivian, Grammy, and the kids.


On Friday, we had our second fish fry of the year, this time landing at our traditional haunt, St. John Vianney. Our kids braved a cold and windy evening to play on the playground as we waited for our friends the Mills to arrive. Then we braved a shorter-than-usual line to get our annual dinner of fish, French fries, grilled cheese, tomato, and pancakes. Guitar Guy was there, as usual, to lead us all in “bah bah baaing” along to Sweet Caroline. When the food was gone, there was still time for some silly photos, and even Frank stopped by to frighten everyone with a new profile picture.


On Saturday morning, Hannah had an appointment to “read” a book with a sweet therapy dog named Gillian at the Bellevue Public Library. Then we stuck around for a performance of martial arts and Chinese Lion dancing courtesy of the Jing Mo Tong Athletic Association (from Lincoln). I’d never seen a performance like this before, which involved throwing tangerines and lettuce at the audience, among other things. We hung around afterward so the kids could touch a few of the lion costumes before heading home.

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I took the kids out for some park time that afternoon. Then that evening, I dressed up went to see MST3K veterans Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu (AKA “the Mads“) once again for their third annual visit to the Alamo Theater. This was my third time seeing them riffing life, and my dad, brothers, and Richard Burney all came along as well. The movie of the evening was “The Creature Walks Among Us,” the third film in the “Creature form the Black Lagoon” trilogy, and the Mads’ riffing helped us get through some of the more tedious moments of the film, of which there were plenty (90% of them involving slow-moving boats).

Of course, I hung around afterward for the meet-and-greet, since getting a selfie with the villains from one of my favorite shows is always a thrill, even if I’d done it three times before.


Sunday night, Wildewood church had a fundraiser spaghetti dinner for a young lady named Lexi, who’s been diagnosed with stage four bone cancer. Many local businesses donated food for the event, and there seemed to be a fairly good turnout, as the food was nearly gone when it was time for us to go. Hannah got her face-painted like a dalmatian and then got in some running around afterward with Aaron. Our kids can have fun with just a big empty field and a tree, which is a happy break from video games — now that we have the weather for it (random blizzards up north notwithstanding).

Seuss and Spaghetti

Just about everyone around here has had it with the non-stop winter, as we continue to shovel our way out from more and more snow even as we approach the first day of spring. We did get to have a brief window of not-snow for about a week or so, but at this point I’m thinking we’ll still have snow around by May.


On Saturday, we celebrated Dr. Seuss birthday down at the Bellevue Public Library with the kids. We had some special guests like Mayor Rusty Hike and his wife as well as Officer Doyle from the Bellevue Police Department com to read to the little ones. Vivian and I read a few choice books to the kids as well, though they seemed to have more fun playing with some of the Dr. Seuss toys and finding their corresponding books. A few of Hannah’s little friends stopped by as well, and I stayed long enough to check out a few things before we left.


Then on Sunday, we broke out our sleeping bags and dropped by First Presbyterian for another movie night with the kids. This time, they showed Lady and the Tramp, and for dinner they had spaghetti, which seemed appropriate. Aaron enjoyed it in a way only a four-year-old could, while mommy and I reenacted an iconic scene from the movie (which was st a bit more difficult with angel hair pasta). Some of the same little friends we bumped into on Saturday were back to watch the movie with us, which was nice.

For Fat Tuesday, Vivian made up a nice, giant pot of jambalaya using her new cast iron Dutch Oven. Then on Thursday we were inundated with even more snow. Winters apparently not done with us yet.

Saturday Morning and Dr. Seuss


One of the traditions I had back in my college days was getting up on Saturday morning to watch an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with my dad and having one of his omelets for breakfast. This was back when MST3K was on Comedy Central and we didn’t have to watch it on “circulated” tapes. My dad decided to give it a try again on Saturday, so I brought Hannah over and we all had breakfast with the grandparents (and Uncle Jonny) before watching a bizarre exploitation film by Ed Wood called The Violent Years. Hannah and Grandma got to have quality time together while the rest of us enjoyed the company of Mike and the Bots.

We had a potluck lunch after church on Sunday, which included Johnny Marzetti and lots of happy smiles from my little boy.


On Monday, it was Dr. Seuss’ 111th birthday. That meant the Bellevue Public Library held a “Seuss-a-Thon,” which included cupcakes and a book reading by Bellevue’s Mayor, Rita Sanders. Then on Wednesday, Hannah and Aaron went to the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center for Mudpies. Miss Kate showed everybody and Owl, and Hannah got to spend her morning painting and dressed up inexplicably as a turtle.

These are some of the weekly activities I unfortunately have to miss out on having full-time employment to keep me busy during the week, but this time around Vivian was nice enough to take some pictures. I do occasionally get to join in on some of this weekday when I have a day off here or there, which will happen again soon as Annunciation Day is just a few weeks away.

Cheese Fondue

The dawn of a new year is upon us again, and that means living it up during that brief week between Christmas and New Years when nobody’s really ready to go back to work.


On the Saturday before New Year’s, we decided to drop by the Omaha Children’s Museum with the kids to have some time at the “indoor park.” I invited my parents along, who could get in for free as guests and watch their grandchildren running around and having fun. We did a little face-painting and spent some time putting balls in the pneumatic tubes before heading upstairs to the farm exhibit. Hannah spent the rest of her time playing on the retro playground (saved from Richman Gordman’s Zooland) and taking a trip on the carousel. We also found a few minutes for a father/daughter puppet show before calling it a day. Then we stopped by Five Guys for some good, sloppy burgers for dinner on the way home.


On New Year’s Eve, the Bellevue Public Library was having a special lunchtime event. Mrs. B got up to read a few of the new books at the library for 2015, including one with “no pictures” by B.J. Novak from The Office. They also had door prizes, and Hannah got a Frozen storybook with a read-along CD. We counted down to the “New Year” (which was striking someplace in Bangkok) and sang Auld Lang Syne before tossing some confetti and calling it a day.


That evening, we rang in the New Year in Nebraska with all four grandparents at our house. Vivian prepared a lovely Cheese Fondue from scratch using Gruyere and white wine in our fondue pot. It was quite delicious, though we had to keep adding wine to keep it from turning solid on us. My mom and dad called it a night early as the rest of us sat through a few musical acts in Times Square as 2015 struck the East Coast and then the Central Time Zone before we headed off to bed.

On New Years Day, the kids were nice enough to let us sleep in a bit before we got up and watched the Rose Parade. That evening, Jack and Donna returned to our house to have some tasty black-eyed peas and cornbread for our traditional New Years’ dinner together. Then my dad came by and we watched Alabama play Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide lost, of course, but it was a memorable evening as it was the first time my dad and I had ever actually watched Alabama play in a game before. It’s hard to believe, since my dad is a 1995 graduate of the U of A, but somehow we’d never gotten around to watching his alma mater play in an actual game before. Better late than never.

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2015.

Walkthroughs and Storybooks


My parents are just about ready to close on their new home here in Bellevue. They had their final walk-through on Saturday, so Vivian and Hannah came along to take a look at it for the very first time. There were a few minor things that needed fixing, but everything looks clear for now. My folks did have some trouble getting the money from their bank to pay for the new house. The bank apparently won’t issue a cashier’s check or a wire transfer unless they show up at a branch in person, which made it necessary for them to make a brief day trip down to Kansas City on Thursday.

To celebrate the end to all the house-hunting madness, and my parents’ 29th anniversary, we took them out to Venice Inn to celebrate. The last of the Caniglia Italian restaurants in Omaha is due to close in a few months, so Vivian and I thought it would be a good idea to take mom and dad out for toasted ravioli, rib-eye and mostaccioli while we still had the chance. The place was insanely busy on Saturday night, as the rest of Omaha apparently had the same idea we did, because the place was packed wall-to-wall with people waiting for tables by seven o’clock (making me glad we got there at five). Jack and Donna also had a couple bags worth of housewarming gifts for mom and dad to welcome them to town, which they opened when we got home, most of which will help them get by untilt he moving van with all their stuff comes down in a week or so.


Sunday was Youth Sunday at church, which meant I got to sit with Vivian and Hannah during the service for the first time in over a year. (Usually, I’m stuck behind a computer screen doing the video.) I didn’t have to show up early for praise team practice either, so we got to have breakfast at Burger King ahead of time instead.

That afternoon, I took Hannah to Storybook Land at the Benson Library. Several storybook characters were there in full-costume for kids to meet, greet, and snap pictures with, including Clifford, Curious George, and one of the Wild Things. We made the rounds and got a free Curious George book for being able to meet every one of the characters on site.

We got a quick nap at home and then went to the Kuemichels’ house for some bible study time. We went through the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and had some tacos together afterward. Ben also showed me his workshop/garage, and several of us busted out the family’s assortment of bikes. That meant Hannah got to try riding a tricycle by herself for the first time. The weather was just perfect for being outside, and now that spring is upon us, days like this will come quite a bit more often.

Spaghetti and storytimes

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Things have been fairly quiet for the Johnson household for the past week or two, possibly because the weather seems to be settling on “spring” for the time being and everyone is busy enjoying it. On Sunday, Magie and Brittany hosted a spaghetti luncheon to help raise funds for their respective missions trips to Ireland and Alaska, raising around $1200 between the two of them. Pretty much the whole church and then some showed up, which a great to see. One of the things I love about our little church in Bellevue is how easily the whole group can get involved in causes like this with little more coordination that a few lines in a bulletin and a few words before the service.

For the past few months, Hannah has discovered the joys of our local public library. Vivian and I have brought her there frequently to look at books, check out classical music CDs, and also drop in for story time with Mrs. B. I stumbled on this once-a-week activity for little ones a few months ago and we’ve been bringing Hannah by to participate ever since. It makes me feel like a good dad getting her addicted to books this early in life. She now begs to be read to from a handful of books and we actually have to keep them high on a shelf to keep her from getting into them (and bending the pages and tearing them apart) on her own.

Mrs. B has her own blog here.