Tag Archives: Elmwood Park

Banned books, a seminar, and quality park time

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Dr. Seuss’ birthday was last week, so I dropped by the library in Bellevue to pick up a couple of his books on his birthday — namely two of the books on his “banned” list, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.” I had put a hold on all six books but was happy to nab just the two, and I read Mulberry Street to the kids that evening.

I also made a special dinner of actual green eggs and ham. The ham itself was its normal color, but the eggs were colored both with food coloring and with spinach in a kind of frittata. I wound up making more than enough eggs, which lasted us for a couple more breakfasts before they were gone.

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It’s been more than a relief to have a break from record cold and snowfall, so on Friday we had an inaugural visit to Stinson Park over the lunch hour. I ordered a small pizza from Godfather’s, which we ate together picnic style at one of the tables before the kids had some fun running around. Hannah made good use of her scooter, which she finally started to ride after we found it back in 2016 (abandoned with a note that said “free”) at this same park a few years ago. Aaron also got some quality time in on the swings before we called it a day.

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Our church also had its first “Wildewood Academy Seminar” on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Vivian and I decided to tag-team so we could both attend, with me staying home with the kids (making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner) and listening in on the live stream as Vivian attended in person, and then vice-versa the following morning.

The guest speaker was Casey Tygrett a “Theologian in Residence” at Parkview Christian Church in Chicago, and he spoke on a Christian’s “identity.” It was an interesting set of lectures but seemed focused quite a bit more on the “self” than on God. Still, I’d heard plenty of messages about the depravity of the human race and this was an interesting twist to say the least.

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On Saturday afternoon, I took a walk in the lovely weather to my parents’ house to look through another one of my dad’s old boxes. This one was filled with old pocket knives and gadgets such as a pocket adding machine, a pocket grooming kit, and an embossing stamp with my dad’s initials. We also found an old button my brother Nathan had made, which said proudly, “I are a Brookwood student.” That brought back some memories.

Nathan eventually joined us as my dad dug through some photos and video he’d taken at age 12 of some model planes that he destroyed in an attempt to recreate World War II battle scenes he’d seen in movies. Nathan dropped by as well and showed off his new Nikon and a gigantic lens he’d bought to take wildlife pictures for a photography class at Southeast Community College he was apparently taking just for fun.

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I made some eggs benedict Sunday morning, which was a delicious way to start the day. Casey Tygrett stayed to preach the Sunday sermon at church, and the kids grabbed some donuts before we headed down to Ralston Park afterward. We got some Burger King for lunch, and then the kids got to run around a bit. The last time I was at this park with Hannah, I’d turned 34 and she wasn’t yet old enough to walk. Now I got to chase her and Aaron around a bit with Aaron as they climbed, jumped, and “fought bad guys” from one end of the park to the other.

And because we still hadn’t had enough, on Tuesday we took the kids down to Elmwood Park for even MORE park time. Aaron and Hannah ran through “levels” on rocks, on nets, and in-between swings, and mommy and I took turns pushing them together on the big swing. The kids had some PB&J for lunch before trying out some exercise equipment, and then we went on a brief walk/scooter ride to the grotto and back. On the way, we found the broken shards of a plate that seemed to be the cathartic result of someone having a literal break-up (with someone named “Braden”).

I think after a long winter spell, we were more than ready for some fun outside. But who knows? We may yet have snow coming yet in April or May. (It’s happened before.)

Turning 39

I turned a year older over the weekend, turning Jack Benny’s Age in the only way I know: with plenty of friends, family, food, and fun.

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My actual Birthday Party happened a few days early on Friday night with a handful of friends at our house. I’d had the weird idea of having a Tomato Party a few weeks earlier — asking guests to bring their favorite tomato-based dishes, mixing up Bloody Mary cocktails, and then watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Our friends didn’t disappoint, of course, particularly Phil and Jen, who brought such unique things as sun-dried tomato sushi, tapenade, and eggplant parmesan, among other things. Donna also made the most frightening cake I’d ever seen (it was also made with tomato soup). The movie itself wasn’t even as bad as I’d remembered. It had a cheesy self-awareness that reminded me very much of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker films that would follow in its wake.

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On Saturday, our friends Libby and Ole (finally) tied the knot. The ceremony was held at Calvary Lutheran Church, and we brought Hannah along as Brandon recorded and I snapped pictures. We showered the couple with poppers on their way out of the church, and then we headed down the street to The Fountains West for the reception. In lieu of a wedding cake, the happy couple had cinnamon rolls. The wedding party made their grand entrance before dinner started, and I had a nice, long photo shoot with Hannah outside as everyone got served. It took quite a while, and when it was finally our turn, the catering staff had completely run out of meat (both chicken and roast beef).

After dinner, the buffet was cleared away for the couple to have their first dance along with their dad (and Ole’s sponsor). Then, the single ladies got to line up to catch the bouquet, and the single guys lined up to take swings at a pinata before eventually turning the stick over to Ole to break the thing apart. The floor was opened up for more dancing afterward, with most of our friends getting crazy with a couple dozens others on the narrow strip of dance floor in the middle of the hall. I even got to dance ab it with Hannah and Vivian before we called it a night.

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Then on Sunday night, we decided to drop by Thanksgiving Lutheran Church for their tailgate party outreach event. There was inflatable castle and obstacle course of the kids to play on after we fueled up with some brats and pulled pork sandwiches for dinner. A couple hundred people showed up, including many familiar faces, including my parents’. It was a fun evening, and it made me want to come back and visit the church myself in a week or two on Sunday morning.

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Then on Tuesday came by actual birthday. Vivian made some scones for breakfast, and then brought me a cake she’d made with the kids around lunchtime. She also got some burgers from Five Guys, and we went to Elmwood Park to eat in their pretty little Grotto. The park itself is over a hundred years old, so we had some fun walking around some of the old trails before letting the kids play for a bit on the newer playground area (which included exercise equipment for the grownups).

Then that evening, my parents took us out to Marks, a hip “wine bistro” in Benson that included menu items like a Portobello Sandwich and Tacos with Sambal chili aioli, mango, and feta cheese. We headed down to Ted and Wally’s afterward to get some obligatory free birthday ice cream before calling it a night.

It was a lovely birthday weekend. Now, we have to get back to the crazy-busy month of September, which will include camping over Labor Day and school for both Hannah and Aaron for the first time.