Sushi, Cinedine, and Chicago

It’s been a fun, busy week celebrating Vivian’s birthday! Officially, she turned 25 (you figure it out) on Tuesday, but the festivities ran the gamut from last Friday to the following Thursday. I think we’ll be staying home on Friday night just to recover.

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Before the celebrations even started, we had a surprise visit from our old friends Mike and Bekah! They now have four kids — Drew, Alexa, Eden, and Owen (the fourth of whom we’d never met before). We had them over to our house for pizza, salad, and plenty of catching up before kicking off a week of birthday-related fun.

Of course, we had to drop by the Eagle’s Lodge for Vivian’s birthday jam at JNO. The crowd was decidedly thinner than usual, possibly due to the wake of people being “lindied out” after the Cowtown events during the previous weekend. We still had a great time, and there were plenty of die-hard swing dancers there who took turns with Vivian in her jam circle. Vivian led the shim sham afterward, and we capped of the night with a traditional run across the border for tacos at Alvorado’s until stupid o’clock.

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On Saturday, we had Vivian’s birthday party over at our house. This year, we did a “roll your own sushi party,” and we had origami as an “appetizer” beforehand. Everyone seemed to get in on the action, and we had some pretty impressive folded paper sculptures at the end of the night. Tamra made a T-Rex, Jessica made a flower, and Jenny and Vivian made, um, face masks.

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Of course, the highlight of the evening was actually making (and eating) the sushi. Vivian made up a bunch of sticky rice for us to use, and we’d supplied the basic ingredients for California rolls — avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab meat. Phil brought some more exotic things, such as raw white tuna, smoked salmon, cabbage, and mango. Lisa brought wraps to make inari, which seemed to vanish quickly after they were made. Mark brought us an actual wasabi root imported from Washington state, so we got to enjoy the real thing instead of the green-colored paste that even high-quality sushi restaurants seem to be restricted to. The potency of the wasabi lasted for only half an hour, though, so we had to eat it quickly.

We rounded out the evening playing a round or two of What’s Yours Like, and I presented Vivian with a “cake” made of maki rolls with lit candles stuck inside of them for Vivian to blow out. Around midnight, Vivian passed her guitar around for our fellow musicians to pluck around before calling it a night.

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In case I haven’t mentioned it enough, the weather here has been unseasonably gorgeous for the past week or two, so on Vivian’s birthday, I decided to surprise her at work with a trip to Benson Park to have some cobb salad for a picnic lunch. Afterward, we had a quick walk around the lake and fed a few of the geese lounging about. They seemed to expect we were about to feed them and paddled on over close to the shoreline when we got near. We’ve got to enjoy this a few more days before the long, dark, cold winter inevitably descends upon us.

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That evening, I took Vivian down to the “Cinedine” theater for the ultimate date experience — dinner and a movie, all in one go! We’d never actually visited the new Midtown Crossing complex in downtown Omaha, so it was kind of nice to wander about a bit. A live band was playing some music outside Coldstone Creamery for anyone nearby to enjoy — mostly families with young children wearing balloon headgear made for them by a clown and older folks walking their fluffy little dogs.

There were only a handful of movies at the theater to choose from, none of which we’d heard anything about. I did a quick search on Rotten Tomatoes and decided on Moneyball, one of those based-on-a-true-story sports movies that involved the Oakland A’s (a team Vivian actually saw herself growing up near San Fransisco) recruiting undervalued ballplayers in order to compete against other, wealthier, pro teams. It wasn’t the kind of movie I’d normally watch on my own, but I enjoyed it. That might have been because Vivian and I both got to watch it in comfy, reclining seats while eating prime rib wraps and fries served to us. I even got a glass of 12-year Glenlivet — something I never thought I’d be able to enjoy at the movies without sneaking it in under my coat.

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The next day, I gave Vivian one of her birthday presents — tickets to see Chicago at the Omaha Community Playhouse! She’d mentioned wanting to see the show in passing, but she didn’t expect that I’d actually get tickets to see it. I was even more surprised that I managed to snag the two best seats in the house — front row center! That meant we got to sit right behind Music Director Jim Boggess in the orchestra pit. He actually popped up to wish Vivian a happy birthday (Jessica, who is doing sound for the show, mentioned we were going to be there!)

It was a great show, of course, but even better sitting inches away from the performers as they pranced about the stage. One actor (Erik Quam playing Amos Hart) came down and shook hands with people in the front row during one number. There’s something about live performances that just can’t been duplicated in any other way — especially when you’re this close to the action.

Afterward, we got to shake hands with all the cast members out in the lobby, and I managed to get a quick picture of Vivian with the two leading ladies of the show, Vivian with leading ladies of the show, Kirstin Kluver as Roxie Hart and Melanie Walters as Velma Kelly.

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The birthday festivities weren’t done yet. Vivian shares her birthday week with both her dad and her mom’s friend Shirley, so on Thursday they took us out to our traditional birthday dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We had our bloomin’ onion and rib-eye steaks, as usual, and this time we actually mentioned that we had a few birthdays in our party. That meant our waiter brought out free ice cream. Sweet.

Back home, Jack opened his presents, and Donna served us up some decadent dark chocolate cake. (She’d also made some adorable fruits and vegetables made from marzipan, but they looked too dark cute to eat.)

I think Vivian and I are looking forward to a few quiet days now that we’ve had a busy week of celebrations, but I hope she’d had a wonderful 25th birthday! I love you, sweetie! Every year just keeps getting better.

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