Monthly Archives: July 2011

Anniversary in Des Moines

Vivian and I already had a big, pull-all-the-stops trip this year to Las Vegas to celebrate one of our many anniversaries, but we couldn’t let our actual wedding anniversary pass us by without taking a trip somewhere. So where did we go? Why right around the corner to Des Moines, the perfect place to go to spend a one-day-off vacation!

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We drove down on Monday night, passing by the familiar smiley face in Adair and stuffed ourselves with Mexican food from Mi Mexico in the West Des Moines suburb of Clive to start our brief vacation off right. It’s been smoldering here in the midwest, so we took a brief, romantic swim in the hotel pool to cool off properly before calling it a night.

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We had absolutely no plans in Des Moines other than to goof around and whatever we happened to stumble upon. First stop: the Science Center of Iowa downtown. It was more of an activity center for kids, but Vivian and I did get to have some fun connecting with our inner children, shooting off paper rockets and playing around in front of a meteorologist’s green screen. Unfortunately, most of the museum was closed off for some cadaver exhibition, which neither Vivian nor I felt we had the stomach to experience.

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We headed out into the broiling heat long enough to take a look at the capitol, but the temperatures were exceeding one hundred degrees, so we decided to retreat to the Great Indoors once again. We stopped at the Gateway Market cafe for lunch, which was quite a bit like Whole Foods, though not nearly as expensive. We dropped by the World Market back in west Des Moines next, stocking up on exotic foods and random electronic toys. Vivian got a voice-distortion megaphone that should be fun for some random occasion.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Clive Aquatic Center, a small community waterpark which seemed to be a scaled-down version of Oceans of Fun. I couldn’t think of any better place to spend an afternoon with triple-digit temperatures, and we put my waterproof digital camera through its paces as we got video and photos of each other sliding around and drifting on the lazy river.

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Of course, we had to finish off the day by having a big lobster dinner, so we dropped by the Waterfront Seafood Market and Restaurant for lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, and clam chowder. I also presented Vivian with my third Anniversary Comic — I’ve been drawing up small, illustrated summaries of our years together, showing little cartoon vignettes of the things we’ve done.

We drove on home quite happy and sleepy. Now that we have a child on the way, I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for our fourth anniversary. Knowing Vivian, though, I’m sure we find something fun. I love you, sweetie! Happy Anniversary — I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.

Some like it hot… or not

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We’re stuck in the middle of the Dog Days of Summer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun outdoors. It just requires good friends and some homemade ice cream. On Friday, Venche had a bunch of us over her house to watch the classic comedy film Some Like it Hot displayed on a large sheet in her backyard. Vivian brought along her bucket to make some homemade ice cream root beer floats for everyone, which was quite refreshing, and Mark made some homemade popcorn with his movie theater style popper. A couple passing storms actually made things a little cooler outside, and the rain let up just enough to allow us to watch most of the film before it started up again.

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Donna’s birthday also was happening this weekend, so Vivian and I decided to celebrate with a surprise trip to the Joslyn art museum, where we were happy to learn Donna had never been before (but had wanted to visit for some time). With temperatures pushing upwards of 100 degrees outside, we were more than happy to spend a good portion of the day appreciating art of many different periods and having ice cream in the cafe all in the comfort of an art deco, air conditioned palace. That evening, we had Jack and Donna over for dinner and ate grilled squid (courtesy of Jack) with some fried yucca and plantain (courtesy of Vivian). We also got to have some of Vivian’s decadent chocolate cheesecake for dessert before wrapping up the evening.

Birthday Visit and Don Stenberg

Our explosively fun three-day weekend came to a close, and now Vivian and I have been enjoying the Great Indoors as the Midwest in general heats up to a broil. We stopped by the doctor last week and got to see some new images of our new baby. Everything seems healthy so far, and he/she even gave us a thumbs up.

We dropped by the Eagle’s Lodge on Friday just long enough for Eric to try on Vivian’s shoes before we made a break for the Donut Stop.

P1060889In other news, we finally got around to celebrating Nathan’s birthday in Lincoln. He turned 31 a couple weeks ago, and we celebrated in the traditional way — eating pizza from Big Sal’s pizza and playing several rounds of Mario Kart at his new house with Jonathan and Nathan’s wife Ranae. We also got to meet his new golden retriever, Arthur, who was a source of boundless energy tearing around the place when we wasn’t out of his little dog pen.

We also went to see Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life at the UN-L campus theater. It was a hipster indie film that tells the story of a couple kids growing up in Waco Texas and their passive-aggressive relationship with their overbearing father (played by Brad Pitt). They also threw in about half an hour of the creation of the Earth, complete with dinosaurs and several long shots of explosions and things bubbling on the earth’s surface. Sean Penn was also in this movie for some reason, but he mostly rides up and down an elevator in present day and then had an explicable encounter with the rest of the cast on a beach toward the end. In short, it was an enjoyable film hacked together with bits and pieces of a Nova special and a screen test from Penn thrown in for no particular reason.

P1060915On the following Tuesday, I stopped by DJ’s Dugout in Omaha for a meet-and-green with former Attorney General, current State Treasurer, and hopefully future Senator Don Stenberg. Our family attended First Covenant church with the Stenberg family back when we first moved to Lincoln back in 1995, so we’ve known him personally for quite some time. I’ve had the chance to vote for him twice so far — hopefully the third time will be the charm.

Also attending the meet-up was Spencer Zimmerman, who’s also apparently running for United States Senate. He’s never held public office before, hasn’t set up a campaign committee, and has never been to Washington D.C. He passed around his business card, which belonged to a limousine company and had his name and phone number written on the back. Among his campaign ideas is to abolish the bicameral legislature we’ve had in Washington since the writing on the constitution and replace it with a unicameral like we have in Nebraska. It was a little hard to know how seriously to take him.

Independence Day 2011

Happy birthday, America! Vivian and I celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence with our friends in the traditional way: music, dancing, and lots of heavy artillery.

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Our three-day weekend started off with a hot night of music down at Memorial Park. Every year, Bank of the West hosts a giant outdoor concert, and Vivian and I weren’t even sure we would be going until the last minute. It was an absolute steam bath outside and the bands were 38 Special and Cheap Trick, neither of which I knew much about. The crowd, however, was decidedly smaller this time around — last year you could only find a spot with a view of the stage if you showed up at five in the morning. There was plenty of open seating down the hill toward the stage, so Vivian and I found a comfortable spot and ate Dippin’ Dots while listening to Gonna Raise Hell and the theme to That 70s Show.

We also stayed for the fireworks and then hitched a ride back to our car on the back of the KMTV Action 3 News van.

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On Saturday night, Jenny hosted a hot, buggy barbecue up in northwest Omaha. Some of us showed our appreciation by drawing a portrait of Jenny on her driveway with smoke bombs (and a pimp fish). We “wrapped” it with a bow and gave it to her as a present. Jon grilled burgers and dogs out back, and I mixed a few piña coladas for anyone who wanted one. Ben, Jon, and Keith made some creative use of paper airplanes by adding explosives to them and seeing what would happen. The result: lots of hilarious burning wreckage (some of which got into the neighbor’s yard). They also created a smoke-bomb Frisbee and set loose a glowing lantern, which drifted West and should be somewhere over Okinawa by now.

Naturally, we set off a bunch of fireworks out back (with plenty of artillery shells), and the girls tried using sparklers to write the words “wow” and “zoo” for Eric’s camera (with limited success). Once the explosives were all spent, we retreated indoors to play a couple rounds of Telestrations. I got the word President, which Keith was able to mangle inexplicably in just one turn, and someone else drew a pair of jellyfish — I mean a chair — which managed to put tears in Jenny’s eyes.

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On Sunday, we got to prove to the world what a cool church Twin Valley is by setting off even more fireworks in their parking lot once the sun went down. Elder Don put the event together and brought a large assortment of bright, shiny explosives for us to detonate. We let the little ones light a bunch of small, sparkling fountains first before shooting off our Black Cats and artillery shells.

The Omaha metro seemed to be a veritable war zone all weekend long, with fireworks in nearly every neighborhood and crackling going every night for weeks in advance, so we certainly got our fill of pyromaniac glee. (Of course, a few members of our group seemed more interested in setting up a Facebook account, but that’s OK — we don’t judge.)

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On Monday the Fourth, Vivian and I joined a bunch of our fellow Jitterbugs to dance in the annual Independence Day Parade up in Ralston. We had a huge turnout for the parade and almost couldn’t find a parking spot as every available lot nearby seemed to be filled to capacity. We danced down main street enduring the heat with bottled water and an assortment of ice cubes pilfered from the cooler on the back of our black Jitterbug Truck. We crashed at the Dairy Queen on 72nd Street (along with the rest of Ralston) where Jitterbug president Nate treated us all to ice cream and lunch before calling it a day.

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We wrapped up our holiday weekend that evening at Fazoli’s with Ben, Jenny, and Tamra, and then Vivian and I went down to the waterfront to see some fireworks. It didn’t seem right to end the weekend without seeing fireworks from the pedestrian bridge, but they’d been moved from Harrah’s Casino to the Horseshoe further island due to the Missouri River flooding. There were plenty of people outside to gawk at the water level, which was drowning the poor statues over on Lewis and Clark landing. We still got a fairly good view of the fireworks from the bridge before heading home and calling it a night.

Video evidence from Jenny’s party