Category Archives: restaurants

Summer’s Last Hurrah

Is September here already? The summer is winding down fast, but that means plenty of cool fall days ahead, with each weekend jam-packed with autumnal fun for the family.

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On Labor Day, we took the kids over to Vivian’s parents’ house for a lovely dinner out on the patio. It was the first time Aaron has come along to one of our porch-side dinners over there, so he got to chill as Jack grilled flatiron steaks and potatoes for us and Hannah got reacquainted with her chalkboard.

Then on Wednesday, I got to celebrate one last bit of my birthday with my folks at — Johnny’s Cafe. For the past decade, they’ve had to celebrate my birthday remotely from North Carolina, so it was wonderful to be able to actually have dinner with them at my favorite restaurant in Omaha (with rib-eye steaks, of course).

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On Saturday, Vivian and I had a kind of mid-birthday fling at Fun Plex in Omaha. They had a two-for-one Groupon to mark the end of the season, and since Vivian hadn’t had the chance to go swimming since having Aaron back in June, we figured it was as good an excuse as any to go get wet for an afternoon. We spent time in the wave pool, the lazy river, bumper boats, and of course the water slides, which were much more violent than I remember. Jack and Donna were nice enough to watch the kids for us, but I immediately regretted not bringing Hannah, who’s old enough now the enjoy the half of the park designated for the little ones. Maybe next year.

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That evening, to say thanks to watching Hannah during the afternoon, we took Donna out to a Balloon Glow at Ditmars Orchard. It was a much more popular event than I expected, with multiple fields full of cars and the lawn crammed with people (and their cameras) checking out the lineup of fully-inflated hot air balloons parks and firing off for our amusement. We rode a hayrack over from the parking lot field and were fortunate enough to find a spot at a picnic table (since we’d forgotten to bring our lawn chairs). Hannah stared in awe at the balloons, and Vivian got us some apple cider donuts as the sun went down. There was live music from the Travelin Light band, and I got to dance a bit with both Vivian and Hannah on the grass. Our little girl was a very good follow (for a two-year old).

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On Sunday, Hannah got to spend the afternoon at the Kuehmichel house celebrating Ellie’s third birthday. She had fun running around with all the other little girls (and a few boys), particularly seeing how many of them could fit on a rocker sitting in the yard.

Then on Monday, Mom and Hannah came back to the park for a lunchtime with daddy (which of course included cupcakes). Hannah got to take a shot at the Big Girl Swing and then got a quick run through the fountains. The weather’s turned decided not-too-hot-or-cold, which means getting a little wet outside is still a possibility.

In other news, Aaron loves his ExerSaucer.

Swine Dining

IMG_0972_2The weather in Nebraska is hardly consistent or predictable, but while parts of the south are struggling to deal with an inch or two of snow, we in Nebraska have been enjoying what little snow we got this season before it vaporizes. On Thursday last week, we finally got Hannah into her snow pants so she could try throwing her first snowball, and we even rolled up a snowman with her to place on the front lawn. We were fresh out of coal and had to make do with some cherry tomatoes and a grape (which Hannah ate). It was good to let her experience some of the joy of snow before spring comes on too quickly.IMG_1028

That evening, Grammy and Papa babysat Hannah as Vivian and I went off to enjoy some Valentine’s Eve together. We dropped by the Claim House in midtown Omaha, where I’d brought a Groupon I had hoped to use for a noontime date with Vivian. Then they stopped serving lunch, so we were left to have a proper date night together. We both ordered the meatloaf, which was what we had for dinner on our first Valentine’s Day seven years earlier. It seemed appropriate.

Afterward, we took a drive up to Ted & Wally’s for ice cream before returning home.

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Vivian and I both had some surprised rolled up our sleeves for V-Day 2014. I kicked it off in the morning by whipping up some heart-shaped red velvet pancakes for a Valentine’s breakfast for us. Hannah especially seemed to like them. Then at lunchtime, I drove all the way home so I could drop off some special Valentine gift baskets for my two special ladies. I had also grabbed some lunch for us, but Vivian had actually driven all the way to my office to surprise me there at the exact same time! We eventually met up at my office, where we got to have a nice lunch at my desk as Hannah watched Winnie the Pooh.

That evening, we all went out to Swine Dining in Bellevue, which is an amazing barbecue “joint,” and though not the most romantic place to eat certainly had some delicious smoke ribs (which Hannah seemed to like as well).

Hannah got to romp in the snow a bit more before it all melted away. On Sunday afternoon, I took her down to the park in her snow pants, and she decided splashing in puddles was better than stomping about in the white stuff. We had some more fun on Monday over lunch as we went to Rockbrook Park to take Hannah sledding for the very first time.

The Children’s Museum

IMG_0672Over the month of January, Vivian returned temporarily to her job at Friendship Program to fill in for a few co-workers who have left in the past few months. She’s been working part-time during the day while Grammy and Papa watched Hannah at home. Her last day was on Friday, so we celebrated by dropping by the Pitch pizzeria in Dundee for a lunch of cheese pizza and truffle fries.

That evening, we had Jack and Donna over and had a dinner of roast pork shoulder to thank them for filling in over the past month.

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We got a little dusting of snow on Friday night, and on Saturday we decided to have some fun in the great indoors by getting a membership to the Omaha Children’s Museum downtown. Hannah had first visited the museum back when she was about a month old, and she went by once after that, but Vivian and I thought she was old enough now for a full-time membership. We got to see a bubble show, look at some balls shooting through pneumatic tubes, play some music, shop in the play grocery store, and play with some of the interactive farm animals. The upstairs traveling display was called “Things That Go,” so Hannah also got to test drive a tricycle, explore an ambulance, and ride on a bus before we called it a day.

Back in Nebraska

It’s been another terrific week back in Nebraska, despite the shock of walking into blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures after a week or basking in the balmy glow of 60-70 degree days in Las Vegas. Vivian and I got to learn some Balboa thanks to some of our lovely Jitterbugging friends. Then Vivian drove down to Lincoln to visit me and my bible study on Thursday. On Friday, our whole gang crashed a very busy Fuddruckers and had a good time making a mess of the place:

Eric and Jenny yell at each other after a game of Cruis’n World.

Eric and Vivian have a very brief smackdown.

Don’t I look cute in Vivian’s hat? No, I don’t.

On Sunday I returned to Omaha again to attend Terra Nova with Vivian, which was wrapping up their three-part series on relationships. Tonight, I zip back to Omaha to take more Lindy Hop lessons with Vivian and then take a Balboa class. Naturally, I’ll be back in Omaha tomorrow to celebrate V-Day. You’ve got to wonder why I don’t just move on up to the Big O.

Friday Night Jazz

On Friday night, some of my jitterbugging friends and I went down to Jazz in downtown Omaha to enjoy some cajun cooking and some swing dancing to a live Dixieland band playing up above. It was quite interesting doing the Lindy Hop in the middle of a restaurant with patons and waiters all around, but it was quite an enjoyable experience.

The lovely Vivian and I mix it up on the floor
while trying not to bump into patrons and servers swarming around us.

Dan and Sara danced even longer than we did.
You can tell by the spot they’re slowly wearing into the floor there.

It was a great time, as always. This group from Jitterbugs has been so much fun, they’ve worked their way into my webcomic. On Saturday night, I went with a bunch of my friends from bible study and joined them in Omaha to watch 88improv, a local improv comedy group, put on a show. I volunteered to go up on stage and participate in one of the games. Vivian was able to get a picture or two of me to post in her blog.