Category Archives: Lost in Fun

Millard, Museums, and Lost in Fun

Summer vacation’s officially over now, and fall-like weather is starting to make a welcome return. That seems to mean packing more fun into every possible moment, right before I turn one year older.

DSCN9893IMG_9878

We kicked off our busy weekend with our old friends Randy and Jolene to celebrate their son Emmett’s birthday. They had it down at Eagle Ridge Park, which had a playground and a splash pad separated by a small bridge, so we wound up wandering between the two with the kids to play and get wet, alternately. Randy grilled some hot dogs, and Jolene brought out a piñata for the kids to take a couple whacks at before we had cake.

We had a handful of old friends with their own kids, as well as a second birthday party next door, so we had a veritable zoo of kiddos playing together most of the evening. Mostly, though, it was just gorgeous, end-of-summer weather. (We also got some cool shades to take home afterward.)

IMG_8513IMG_8575

The next day, I was able to drag the family all the way down to Millard to enjoy at least one legit parade together before the summer ended. It was the perfect morning for a parade, cool and cloudy with a slight breeze. A handful of our favorite politicians were walking the catawampus Main Street, including Mayor Stothert, Don Bacon, and state senate candidate Andrew Sakalosky (as well as a guy with signs for a dozen more). Most of the parade had local businesses and churches giving out candy (and frightening children), as well as some Irish dancers, Country Kickers, and a few marching bands. A few men riding lawn tractors pulled a train of kids through the parade, and one guy rolled a giant beach ball toward the end (for reasons I can’t explain). One float even featured the model of Millard itself.

Our kids got a decent haul of candy, and then we stopped by BIG Meats afterward so Vivian could get a nicely-marbled hunk of beef to take home (as thanks for letting us use their parking lot).

IMG_8684IMG_8731

On Sunday, we spent the evening at the Children’s Museum with the kids. They got a brief look at their new playground outside before going in to have the usual run of their balls in pneumatic tubes, makeup table, model river water table, pretend cooking, Gordman’s animal slides, and baby hospital. We had the most fun upstairs for an “Enchanted” traveling exhibit that featured such things as a “hall” of mirrors (which was about the size of a closet), a blacksmith table with a giant foam hammer, a bubble fountain, and a stable with a dozen plush unicorns for Hannah to care for.

The whole night was hosted by the Autism Society of Nebraska, which had some of the sensory overload of the Museum tamped down just a tiny bit, (though with all the kids running around you might not have noticed).

IMG_8826IMG_8833

Hannah started the second grade on Monday (with a picture, of course). Then we spent a long, fun day in Lincoln on Tuesday. The kids got to play at Lost in Fun down in South Lincoln, getting their fill of a foam ball pit, climbing wall, and bounce house for most of the afternoon. In the meantime, I did some freelance work for my old company Land and Sky, shooting video and taking pictures of beds, continuing a gig I started some 15 years ago.

Before we headed back to Omaha, we dropped by Big Sal’s to grab a giant combo pizza for dinner together. (Hannah wanted to stick around and shoot some pool in the meantime.)

IMG_8913IMG_8888

Before we returned home, we swung by the Durham to see some dinosaur bones. They had several model skeletons, skulls, and even a model heart on display — as well as a giant, fully-assembled T-Rex skeleton named “Scotty.” The kids were a little more interested in a giant video screen that superimposed dinosaurs walking around on top of live video of themselves.

We also had enough time for a brief walk by other things, including a buffalo skin, some trains, and an exhibit on polio — which I explained to Hannah that her grandpa had when he was little. It came complete with an original “iron lung,” which a man down the street had to use when my dad was little. Polio is one of those things I’m glad we no longer have to deal with — through the magic of medicine and vaccinations (of which my mom was one of the first recipients).

Summer Wind-Down

Things have been exciting as we’re gearing up for the big solar eclipse here in Nebraska. Of course, there are a few other fun things happening as summer begins to wind down.

IMG_1334img_20170817_131557852_35801705304_o

We’re still enjoying the last bits of summer together, which means taking in one more movie at the SumTur (Finding Dory) and getting quality time at the local splash parks. The Fountains at Stinson Park are finally up and running, so I brought along my swim trunks for a run through them with the kids during one particularly warm lunch break.

We also dropped by Seymour Smith park for an afternoon run through the spray ground there after work. Aaron specifically wanted to see the “blue buckets” again after having seen them in action at his birthday party back in June.

IMG_1395IMG_1364

On the Friday before the Eclipse, I took the day off to go to Lincoln with the kids for some quality time at Lost in Fun. I’d brought Hannah and Aaron there a couple times before when doing freelance work at Land and Sky during the day, and Hannah had been asking to return for over a year. We all got to jump on the bouncing pillows together and climb around in the plush ball pit, and Hannah and Aaron both got a couple hours of slides, carts, and bubbles together. Afterward, we had a late lunch at Big Sal’s pizza before heading home, per the norm.

P1200152P1200161

That evening, Aunt Jessica invited us to spend some time in her apartment complex’s pool while it was still warm. The kids got to try out some goggles and beat each other with pool noodles for an hour or two as we finished off the day.

Then on Saturday, we went to Papillion for a Nebraska-style family photo shoot just in time to lose Hannah’s favorite toy, Zoe the Cat, making for a frustrating launch into Eclipse Weekend.

Pizza in Lincoln, Circus in Council Bluffs

IMG_9347IMG_9355

The weather has been steadily getting warmer here in Nebraska, making for several days where we can get some quality time outdoors without so much as a coat. On Wednesday last week, the Johnson Family took a road trip to Lincoln for a day nearly identical to the one we had in mid-March last year. I got to do a morning’s worth of freelance work for my old employer at Land and Sky, and Vivian took the kids to Lost in Fun in South Lincoln where they had a ball bouncing around and shooting hoops. Afterward, we all went out to lunch at my favorite pizza joint, Big Sal’s on 27th Street. The weather was so nice, we drove up the street for a little play time at Pentzer Park up the street to wear the kids out a bit before heading home.

In other news, Jack and Donna got to celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary with us over at the Crab Shack, we all got our fill of seafood before stuffing ourselves even further across the street at the Cheesecake Factory.

img_9516_25114288326_oimg_9390_25047437021_o

A few days later, the Shrine Circus was in town, so Vivian and Grammy took the kids down to the Mid-America Center to see them. It was Aaron’s first trip to the circus, so I had to be sure to get a picture of him with one of the terrifying clowns. They had tigers jumping through flaming hoops and a dog and pony show, just like our visit a few years ago. They also had some new acrobats, Mr. Springs and Tulga, and a whole team of “jumping people” AKA The Chicago Boyz, who Hannah seemed to like the best. I was able to take a break from work to join the family for a bit during the day, which was nice. Of course, the kids also had to get their own souvenir light sabers from the show, and we had to struggle to keep Aaron from whacking his sister on the head with his.

Holy Name and Homemade Pizza

IMG_5551IMG_5626

It’s been a busy week here in Omaha, with lots of fun involving food (of course). On Monday last week, with temperatures pushing their way into the 90s, the whole family took a trip down to Lincoln. I had some freelance work to attend to, and Vivian took the kids to Lost in Fun for an afternoon of bouncing around. Hannah had been there when she was just one year old, but now she was old enough to visit more exhibits than just the ball pit, such as the big ceiling-projected video game in the “dark room.”

For dinner, we drove up to Big Sal’s and gave Hannah and Aaron her first taste of mom and dad’s favorite pizza place in Nebraska. Yes, Aaron got to nibble on bits of black olive and pizza crust, and Hannah managed to finish a whole piece by herself.

IMG_5647IMG_5641

The next day was St. Patrick’s Day, so we got to imbibe in our annual tradition of corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and red potatoes. Every store was selling out of corned beef up until March 17, and then the price plummeted to less than $1/pound, so we picked up some that on sale to have a couple reubens down the road (which were, in fact, invented in Omaha. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.)

No green beer or Bailey’s, however — I’ve given it all up for lent.

IMG_5675IMG_5699

On Friday, we had our second Fish Fry of the year, heading up to Holy Name in north Omaha with a cluster of our fabulous friends. I’d heard about this fish fry from our mutual friend Lisa, primarily being one of the first and biggest fish fries in the area. It was also notorious for having one of the longest lines, which was quite ironic, because when we arrived, there was absolutely no line at all. Seriously, we were able to walk right in, but we stood in the hallway for some time just to get the whole standing-in-line experience. (A crowd outside was hanging around for the same reason, I expect.)

The cafeteria was packed pretty tight, however, steaming hot and filled with the smell of fried fish that stuck to your clothes. The fish itself was hands-down the best I’d had at any fish fry before. We had freshly-battered chunks of pollock that were steaming and delicious the moment they were put on your plate. I washed it down with a can or two of Cheerwine that I smuggled in from outside and a fun night of goofiness fueled by deep-fried goodness.

IMG_5778IMG_5835

Then on Saturday, we celebrated Uncle Jonny’s birthday down at my parent’s house. Jonathan had been wanting to relive his childhood, so my dad put out the lawn flamingos and spent the afternoon playing Intellivision and eating homemade pizza for dinner (literally the way mom used to make). Vivian also brought along one of her legendary chocolate cheesecakes.

We brought the kids along, too, of course. They got some time being cute with grandma and grandpa, which included learning the joys of chasing a red dot from a laser pointer all over the house.

Where’s the beef?

The fun just doesn’t stop for the Johnson Family! Last Friday, it was our turn to set up at Jitterbugs Night Out, so we naturally brought Hannah along for the ride. She tended to be a handful upstairs, toddling out onto the dance floor and trying to participate with the Lindy Hop lesson, so I took her downstairs where the older folks at the Eagles’ Lodge got to go all gooey over her. Vivian and I stayed long enough to have a dance or two together, and we also said hello to an old friend, who’d grown his hair out and decided to show up.

IMG_3692 IMG_3735

On Friday, I took a trip to Lincoln with Vivian and Hannah to celebrate my old friend Mike Duewling’s 50th birthday. It was a reunion of sorts, as I got to see several familiar faces I hadn’t seen in many years, ranging from high school classmates to friends from one old bible study or another. For whatever reason, it was a men-only affair, so Vivian took Hannah to a cute little children’s activity center called Lost in Fun. Hannah was too little for most of the activities, but she did enjoy swimming around in the ball pit.

Sunday, of course, was the Superbowl, so Vivian and I crashed at the house of church friends Kelly and Andy. Pastor Drew and his Crew stopped by to play with Hannah as we watched the game (or pretended to, anyway). I think Hannah was rooting for the 49ers, and the blackout pushed the game a little beyond her bedtime.

IMG_3755 IMG_3836

On Tuesday night, the grandparents treated us to a baby-free evening of fun. We had a Groupon for the Pizza Shoppe in Benson that was about to expire, so we decided to spend it while taking in a live comedy show from 88 Improv! We invited a whole troop of our goofy friends, which was perfect as the group decided to play a series of improv games rather than their usual “long form” improv show. That meant we had volunteers from the audience coming up on stage to be “handy” with the players. Vivian provided some manual dexterity, and I got to be a bit of a poser, seeing how long I could bend over acting crazy in a slideshow routine. It was a fun time, as always, and our Groupon paid for our whole pizza. What could be better? Well, maybe Stilton Blue Cheese ice cream from Ted & Wally’s. (Yes, we did that.)

By the way, where’s the beef?