Category Archives: Sledding

Fish, snow, and sledding

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Our friends the Mills went on another road trip this week, which meant Harold’s mommy got to stay with us for a couple days. Hannah and Aaron enjoyed having the with us and set up a giant play-area for her and Harold to run around together in the living room, including when we had Virtual Church on Sunday (because of some more freakish snow).

In the meantime, it’s Lenten season again, which means fish fries. There are only a handful of options this year, but I thought we could start with one right at home — with some battered fish, fish sticks, fries, tots, and shrimp all from Aldi. We had a bit of a feast at our house for our first Fishy Friday. Then Hannah and Aaron played some classic NES games — specifically Super Mario Bros. and Maniac Mansion. Aaron even got to beat King Koopa (and rescue Toad, who Hannah described with a laugh as “the wrong guy.”)

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On Saturday, Vivian broke open a collector’s item to make some old fashioned Aunt Jemima pancakes for breakfast. She also made a batch of bacon with enough grease left over for me to make some tasty breakfast popovers, which I stuffed with scrambled egg, bacon bits, and cheese. Tasty! (Meanwhile, Aaron’s been having fun assembling his own breakfasts in the shape of a smiley face or the “Statue of Liberty.”)

Then overnight, we got SEVEN inches of heavy, wet snow dumped on us (which was forecasted to be two or less). That meant we stayed home from church and I had a serious day-long workout digging out both our driveway and my mother in law’s, with some lunch in-between to keep me going. Thanks, Vivian!

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Fortunately, the snow melted fast as temperatures soared back into the 50s on Monday. I had a session of Beer and Bloviation with a few like-minded friends down at the Lucky Bucket. They also had a sale on cases of beer, $20 for 24 bottles, which I was allowed to mix and match. That should keep us stocked until after Easter, at least.

The melting was happening fast on Tuesday, so we took the kids down to a slushy, wet Memorial Park for one last season of the season (probably). They each got to coast down the eastern slope a bit but then turned to explore the park a bit, particularly where several people had been making snowmen and/or giant snow boulders along the south lawn. Mommy and the kids has also made one in our own yard, which hadn’t quite yet melted by the time I returned home to take a picture.

Snow Time like the Present

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So, it’s still winter, but we’re always finding things to do, both inside and out. For instance, Hannah broke open the geology kit she got for Christmas and has been proudly showing us the rocks she’s dug out of it.

Then on Friday last week, Grammy stopped by to help Hannah and her friend Sammy make and decorate some cakes together. They created a few cupcakes first for practice before putting together some lovely cakes with underwater themes — complete with gummi fish and sea creatures. The girls did all the decorating themselves, and Hannah got to cut herself a little piece afterward — right from the middle of course.

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The weekend was full of cold and cloudiness, so we decided to take the kids down to Lincoln for a trip to Lost in Fun — our first time there in about a year and a half. Usually, I have some other business in Lincoln to warrant such a trip, but this time it was entirely just to get out of the house. Hannah got plenty of time in the foam ball pit, climbing on the walls to jump in — or be thrown in by daddy. Aaron discovered the ball cannons and got to explore some of the large “Habitrails” with Hannah, and both kids had a little time on the bouncing pillows as well.

We called it a day after about two and a half hours, and we stopped by Big Sal’s for some pizza for dinner on our way out of town (per tradition).

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On Sunday evening, I visited Converge Church in west Omaha with my dad for some “Burgers and Batman” with the men’s fellowship group there (fellowship being code for “pigging out”). Someone had been having fun in the snow out front and made a giant “Kool-Aid Man” sculpture, which can be seen quite plainly from 144th street. Inside, the men had brought a couple dozen foil-wrapped “sliders,” and they asked us all to bring along various sides and ingredients to put on them. I got some peanut butter and pickle for mine, along with some guacamole and bacon.

After that, we settled down to watch The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment in he Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. I’d seen the movie way back in 2012 with Vivian and Hannah at the Boulevard Drive-in Theater in Kansas City, but I wound up missing much of it because Hannah got cranky and unhappy toward the end instead of falling asleep as I’d hoped. I rather enjoyed it the second time around, partly because it was made back when Hollywood had no problem portrays cops as the good guys, particularly when fighting an angry mob of anarchists.

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We had a little more fun on Monday, when Aaron got to make some homemade ice cream as part of a school project. That meant mixing up some chocolate and cream in a bowl along with a few cups of actual snow scooped up from our yard. Then we actually gave it a taste, and it wasn’t too bad, though the kids both wanted the “real thing” afterward.

I watched Groundhog Day on groundhog day with Vivian, one of my favorite movies that doesn’t seem to get old after all these years. Then on Wednesday, we took the kids sledding out by Bellevue East once again. The weather was predicted to turn much, much colder, so we enjoyed the above-freezing temperatures for just a bit before calling it a night.

Snow fun and Zoey’s Birthday

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We had a brief widow of lovely weather before winter returned, so we took the down to Stinson Park for their first lunch time play date since August. Hannah’s doll Suki came along to ride in the swings as daddy took turns pushing (and doing double “underdogs”), and the kids got some exercise dancing together. sliding, and running away from a stray skeleton that was hanging around.

Then on Thursday, we celebrated the one year anniversary of us adopting our little cat Zoey. We gave her a birthday “cake” made of cat food along with some presents, like a new dish and some cat toys.

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On Saturday, winter returned with a couple inches of wet, heavy snow that I spent the day shoveling up (at our house and at Grammy’s). Vivian made some French toast for breakfast, which we ate with the kids, but we mostly stayed indoors letting the snow accumulate and tidying up (though Hannah did get to build a snowman).

Then on Sunday after church, we took the kids sledding up on the hill behind Bellevue East High School. It was a lovely, sunny day for sledding down the steep hill (and making snow angels). Hannah loved speeding down even while sitting on Daddy’s lap, though Aaron had had enough after getting covered in snow and hitting an unexpected ramp on the way down.

After that, we returned home so Hannah could help make a snowman family in our yard while Aaron chased mommy with snowballs and colored in the snow. It was a lovely day for January, but I think the cold settled in by the end of the day, and not just because some of us were eating snow, so we warmed up with hot chocolate and chicken soup to finish off our weekend.

Steak, sledding, and Valentine’s Day

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We’ve had multiple days of snow over the past week or two, but we’re not letting the white stuff keep us down by any means. On Saturday night, Nate and Lexi invited us over to celebrate their son Gabriel’s second birthday. Nate grilled up some hot dogs and some steak butchered from a family member’s cow, which was quite delicious. We had some Orange Cat Cake (designed by Donna, naturally), and Gabe opened up a handful of presents.

Our combined herd of kids had fun playing throughout the evening as I caught up on some classic Mega Man 3 with Nate, reminiscing about how awesome (and difficult) some old school games could be. I’d let my kids experience some of that on Sunday when dad and Uncle Jonny dropped by to watch them play Donkey Kong Jr. for the first time ever.

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It was a balmy 41 degrees on Tuesday, so we decided to take the kids down to Memorial Park for some sledding. Much of the snow had already melted, but the park had several hills facing different directions, so there was still plenty left for a few good hours of fun. We usually only come to Memorial Park for the Fourth of July concerts, so it was different to see the place covered in snow (instead of people) and the trees bare enough to give us a view of some lovely Happy Hollow homes. We had a few good hours of sled time before heading home for some shrimp po’ boys and red beans and rice for mardi gras.

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The next day was both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. I got up early enough to make a heart-shaped breakfast for everyone before heading off to work. Then during lunch, I met up with Vivian and the kids at Five Guys with a vase of roses in hand for a little Valentine’s Day lunch. That dinner that night, I brought home some beef pho and banh mi from the local Vietnamese Asian Restaurant for dinner along with a few special treats for the kids. Hannah also made some adorable little “cards” for mommy and me, completely unprompted, which was wonderfully sweet. We finished off the day with a giant “cookie” Vivian baked for me, which we ate while watching When We First Met, a romantic comedy on Netflix that was much better than the reviews would lead you to believe.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and welcome to the season of Lent! Now let’s get our fish fry on before April First rolls around.

Chili, Sledding, and Mardi Gras

So there we were, innocently enjoying spring-like weather for about a week, when BAM — snow again. And what better way to enjoy the change in weather than with a chili party?

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On Friday, our fellow Order of the Shovel member Jessica decided — after a four-year hiatus — the Chili Cookoff needed to happen again. A few fellow Shovelers (and some strangers from Jessica’s Bible Study) showed up to sample around seven different kinds of chili to vote on the best, the spiciest, and the most unique of the bunch. Kate brought her girls along, who kept Hannah busy as the rest of us loaded up on chili (and cinnamon rolls) as we shoveled throughout the night. My Asian chili didn’t win any awards, but I liked it enough to make it again. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it.

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The next day, we took advantage of the momentary snow by taking Hannah and Aaron kids down to Sand Park for some sledding. Aaron was old enough now to participate fully with Hannah as the two rode down the hill, flung snowballs, and made snow angels. Even mommy got in on the fun. We dropped by grandma and grandpa’s house afterward for hot cocoa, which was a particularly nice way to warm up before calling it a day.

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Then came Fat Tuesday. We hadn’t had a proper Mardi Gras celebration in over six years, so Vivian and I invited Phil and Jen and Jenny and Kody over for jambalaya and King Cake together, complete with a plastic baby. There were also beads thrown about, but nothing more than couldn’t be shown on television. Now begins the season of Lent, which means fish fries and giving up random vices, like fast food and using Facebook around the house. Good times, and I’m not even Catholic.


Sledding at Sand Park

Snow Day and a Super Bowl

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We got a little snow in the Omaha metro area over the past week, and the National Weather Service saw fit to give the snowstorm an actual name: Kayla. I decided to take a day off work, as did much of the city, which gave the road crews an easier time to clean up the white stuff. I spend the day shoveling and playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with Hannah and Uncle Jonny. Some people were actually without power, so with both heat and Internet, we were quite content.

On Saturday, it warmed up to the mid-40s, so we took the kids down to the park for a little sledding fun. I’d grabbed a sled at Walmart last week and we were able break it in sending Hannah and Aaron down a few modest slopes. Aaron even made the trek to the swings in his snow boots so he could have a brief, snowy swing with Hannah before we called it a day.


Sledding fun with the kids!

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Sunday was the Super Bowl, so we invited the grandparents over (and Uncle Jonny) to watch the Broncos give Cam Newton a little taste of humility while eating giant piles of nachos, among other things. Hannah was content to play with grandma, for the most part, but she did make an accurate prediction once again about the game’s outcome. Aaron also seemed fascinated with Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, and I was able to put his hand over his heart without a fuss. It was the first and only football game I’ve actually watched all year. That shows what kind of sports fan I am, but I’ll take any excuse to eat nachos.

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.

Cheesy Party, Snowy Sunday

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Last Saturday, Vivian and I hosted our second cheese party, this time in our home in Bellevue. We invited a few of our fellow cheesy friends over to enjoy some wine and cheese, along with cheesy trivia and cheesy games people could play and complete for cheesy prizes. Vivian also made some cheese for everyone to try, which was quite a fun treat.

We also told some cheesy jokes, which went over much better after a bottle or two of wine. The winner of the Best Cheese this year was Lisa, who had the honor of taking the cheese cap away from Venche with, surprisingly enough with some Stilton Blue she found at Aldi. We had a fairly fierce blizzard roll into the metro area, so some people had to cut out early, but a few stayed for a cheesy movie — Pumaman, courtesy of MST3K.

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The next day, we got to enjoy the remains of the blizzard by going sledding with Jenny and friends over at Standing Bear Lake. It have me the chance to try out my freezeproof, waterproof, and generally adventure-proof camera, recording some horrible shaky video was sliding downhill. Jenny and Jon also went out onto the lake to make snow angels and write messages in the snow (with footprints, all right?) We retreated indoors for pizza and games once the cold became a bit too much.

It seemed a fitting way to end the weekend before our big trip to Las Vegas. More on that next time.


Sledding at Standing Bear Lake

Snowy Valentine’s Weekend

IMG_9694.JPGIt’s been another busy week for Vivian and me, with Valentine’s Day, a Wedding, and a blizzard adding to our usual fun of hanging out with friends from our variety of social circles. On Wednesday last week, Eric called the Order of the Shovel together at Famous Dave’s for a fun night of eating barbecue. I’m glad we had the chance to get together, because the blizzard that hit Omaha on Friday wound up cancel ling the long-anticipated Pink Party. I’m always amused when the “Shovelers” get together, because it seems several of us have digital cameras and spend much of our time snapping photos of each other for no apparent reason. Lisa felt obligated to explain to the other patron in the restaurant that “we’re always like this.” I usually just hope they think this is some kind of a class/family reunion and we don’t get to see each other several other week as it is.

IMG_9714.JPGOn Friday, I decided to have Valentine’s Day a little bit early so I could surprise Vivian at work. A passing snowstorm dumped several inches of the white stuff on Omaha, so I suppose Vivian was even more surprised when I showed up with roses, soup, and hot cocoa. Hy-Vee was selling blue roses this year, so I was able to get one of those for Vivian as well, since blue is her favorite color. On Saturday, Vivian treated me to a Valentine’s Day breakfast with heart-shaped pancakes and bacon arranged like an arrow, which was very sweet. That evening, we cuddled up on the couch and watched Sixteen Candles, courtesy of my laptop and iTunes.

It was a relatively quiet Valentine’s Day this year, because we made the mistake of being involved in some other couple’s wedding instead of celebrating ourselves. We still had a lovely little Valentine’s breakfast together, but I would never consider wasting our first Valentine’s Day like this again. Let this be a lesson to all of you reading this as well.

DSCF0805.JPGOn Sunday, Vivian and I had every intention of spending the day resting up, but a bunch of our friends decided to take advantage of the recent snowfall and go sledding out in Northwest Omaha. I hadn’t been sledding since I was a kid, and Vivian had been wanting to go sledding all year, so we couldn’t say no. We had a great time, and I was able to relive a bit of my childhood in Michigan sliding down the steep hill by Standing Bear Lake and trying not to wipe out on an slippery, inflatable sled. Venche had the bright idea of starting a snowball fight as a few of our friends tried to get back up the hill after one run. I stayed far enough back to take photos before joining in.

In all, it’s been a great week, and I’m glad we’d been able to see many different groups of friends who for one reason or another don’t always hang out together. I’m also glad I was able to put the camera down long enough to have some fun with everyone this time around.