Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sushi and hors d’oeuvres

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Last Friday, Vivian and I celebrated our Sushi Anniversary, commemorating five years since we first started dating, and four years since I proposed to her. Since our relationship officially started shortly after eating at Sakura Bana in 2007, we’ve picked a different place for sushi every year since then (including a trip to the seafood buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas a year ago). Our sushi venue of choice this year was the all-you-can-eat insanity of Wasabi on West Maple. Vivian and I came hungry and devoured two plates of raw fish and rice together and washed it down with a glass of plum wine.

Afterward, we burned off what we could at Jitterbugs Night Out. Grammy and Grumpy were kind enough to take Hannah for the evening so Vivian and I were able to dance until midnight with our friends, just like old times.

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On Saturday night, Vivian and I upheld our new annual tradition of Doing Something in January to break up the post-holiday monotony the month of January usually brings. Our idea this time was to have an hors d’oeuvre party, challenging our friends to make tasty bacon-wrapped things impaled on toothpicks and other bite-sized morsels. The winner for the evening was Tamra’s googly-eyed crab rangoon, each of which were painstakingly shaped to have actual pincers of the sides. That was cute. Our grand prize was a plastic pig wrapped in a blue blanket. Get it?

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Then somebody broke out the Riesling and all hell broke loose. The best part about parties with our friends is that Vivian and I can plan no specific entertainment whatsoever and we still wind up spending a few hours cracking up with each other. Jessica in particular bent over backward (or forward?) for our amusement in-between singing VeggieTales songs and being generally goofy.

Of course, adorable Hannah Marie also added to the fun of the evening. She got passed around to just about everyone, including Eric, who did a little dance with her on his lap that she seemed to get a kick out of. We wrapped up the night playing a couple rounds of Telestrations, concocting horrible new double-entendres that will likely be repeated ad nauseum for the next couple of weeks. (Anybody need to polish the coffin?)

Ingredient Party

Our house hasn’t been quite the same since our cockatiel Babo passed away last Saturday. Flappy seems to be taking it especially hard, screeching and calling out for Babo and noticeably distressed that he isn’t around anymore. Vivian’s been giving him some extra attention. In other news, Hannah just turned two-months old. Vivian’s gone back to work at Friendship Program part-time, leaving Grandpa to play babysitter while she’s away. That’s proving to be quite an adjustment as well.

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We are still finding time to hang out with friends. On Saturday, Phil and Jen hosted an “ingredient party,” where everyone brings some random ingredient and then Phil and Jen try to make something out of it. I decided to be horrible by bringing beef kidney and liver, which they were able to turn into a couple of “offal” dishes for us. I also picked up rutabaga, parsnips, turnip, and several other items I can’t remember having eaten recently. Jessica and Kristen joined us for dinner and then Monty Python and Meet the Spartans afterward.

In other news, I decided to pull a “ret-con” on my blog my posting year-end wrap-up updated for 2007, 2009, and 2010 in the same way I did for 2011 (and earlier in 2008). It was so much fun looking through all the pictures and memories I’d collected throughout the year that I decided to go back and do it three more times for other years covered in my blog. Click on over and browse through a couple years’ worth of memories in pictures that I’ve collected!

Goodbye Babo

Baby “Babo” Cockatiel

Baby was born in California and lived with a single man the first of his life. He later to moved to live with the Camozzi family after the man couldn’t take care of him. It is reported that Baby learned the sound of the Camozzi family car and would squawk every time it pulled into the drive way. In 1996 Baby came to live with the Taber family where he was adopted primarily by the father Jack. “Heeeeey Baby” is what Jack would call him. Jack and Baby became good friends and Baby preferred to spend most of his time with him so it made sense that Baby would accompany Jack across country to his new home in Omaha, NE. Baby lived with Jack the first year he lived in Omaha. In 1998 the rest of the family came up to join him along with Baby’s old friend Flapper. Baby and Flapper would eventually become cage mates. Baby enjoyed being the bigger bird, which earned him the nickname “Babo the Bully Bird.” Babo became the primary name he would be called. In 2005 Baby and Flapper went to live with the Taber’s daughter Vivian. Baby and Flapper enjoyed teaming up against Vivian’s roommate Jenny where they would squawk and get out of the cage when Vivian wasn’t home. In 2007 Baby met another new friend Matt and the two of them got to know each other for the remainder of his life. Baby didn’t get out of the cage much, but he enjoyed sitting at the entrance of the opened cage door. Baby also liked getting into boxes, watching curtains swaying, eating Rice Krispies, exploring the ground, sitting on shoulders, getting misted with water from a spray bottle, and looking out the window. He is survived by his cage mate Flapper, Taber family, Johnson family, and all the friends that have come to see him over the years. He will be greatly missed.

Today’s guest post was written by Vivian — Babo’s “mom” of 16 years.

Prairie Cat farewell

January seems to be a long, boring month, especially coming off the high of the holiday season. The mild, spring-like weather we’ve enjoyed keeps threatening to come to an end, but Vivian and I have been continuing to love every minute of it.

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On Friday night, Nate and Lexi (estranged friends from Twin Valley Church) invited Vivian and me over to their place for an impromptu game night. We brought cookies and some cheese balls and spent a long evening figuring out and eventually playing Citadel. It’s a card game featuring several medieval-type characters, and the goal is to gain points by building enough high-value properties on the table before anyone else. It turned out to be a fun little game, especially since I managed to win, though the chances of victory seem to depend highly on what high-value cards a player can manage to extract from the deck (and put into play).

On Sunday, we had another potluck Sunday at church (following a couple meetings) which was always fun — and filling. Vivian made her famous cheesy chicken and chips (made famous from Jenny’s cookbook, naturally), and it was gone almost right away.

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That following Monday, Vivian went to a “Praise Worship Friends Fun” night at Tamra’s with Jonathan Paper, Mark Scheen, Jenny, Ben Anderson, and Katie (with Hannah in tow). That left me free to drop by the Ozone Lounge to bid the Prairie Cats a fond farewell with a handful of Jitterbug friends. The P. Cats has been one of my favorite swing bands ever since I first heard them play at the Lauritzen Gardens in 2007 — right up there with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Indigo Swing, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. They’ve been playing for almost 14 years at such venues as the Cowtown Jamborama and the Windows on the World in the World Trade Center. (Their lead singer is Jeff “Big Daddy K” Koterba, who’s also known for his editorial cartoons in the Omaha World-Herald.)

Several “old-timers” dropped by to pay tribute, including “Crazy” Connie, Billy Sobczyk, the “other” Matt Johnson, Sara Pirtle, and a bunch of regulars as well. I had a dance with just about every follow I could find and wore myself out before the end of the night both dancing and snapping pictures. It’s nights like these that remind me just how much fun swing dancing can be, if you just get he right music to accompany you onto the dance floor.

P1100069Today, Vivian and Hannah dropped by the office to surprise me for a lunch date! We went to Cheddar’s, a “casual café” around the corner that’s always packed and specialized in… just about everything. I had chicken fried steak, and Vivian got a cheese steak, and we leafed through the new wedding photo album we’d put together on Snapfish over the holidays.

Needless to say, it was a fun outing. We’d been talking about doing a lunch date sometime before her maternity leave ends, and I’m glad we got the chance to do it today — after an extended leave of absence, winter decided to make an unexpected return.

New Year’s Dedication

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Happy 2012, everybody! The Johnson Family had a wonderful little reunion of sorts over the year, as you might have guessed from my blog’s year-end review. Mom and dad flew into Omaha Thursday afternoon, so I took a few days off work to spend some quality time with them and their new granddaughter. The weather has been unseasonably beautiful for the last few weeks, so we enjoyed both a green Christmas and safe travel conditions for the folks. (It was even warm enough for Vivian and mom to go for a walk with Hannah!)

Naturally, we had to celebrate by dropping by Louie M’s Burger Lust on Friday, but mostly we spent a good deal of time doing nothing but taking turns cuddling with Hannah around the house.


On Saturday, Dad and I took a trip to Tish’s in Council Bluffs to say hello to Newt Gingrich, who was dropping in again shortly before the Iowa Causes began. The place was jam-packed with people and newsmedia, who all seemed to enjoy cramming into every bit of available space for pictures and video as the former speaker squeezed his way to the podium. Newt’s wife Callista was also there, as were Newt’s daughters and a handful of grandchildren. Dad was lucky enough to get a seat in the front row, which made for some nice dramatic shots. We stuck around to shake hands with the Gingriches and get a picture with them before heading home.


Back home, the rest of the family — namely Nathan, Ranae, and Jonathan — showed up later that evening to exchange belated Christmas gifts (and birthday gifts for the parents). Mom got a puzzle, dad got framed photographs of Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge, and Hannah got a small plush monkey from Campbell University (among other things). I volunteered to make spaghetti for dinner while mom tossed up a salad. It was the first time I can recall the two of us ever cooking together (or at least cooking in the same kitchen). Jonathan brought along an old film called Ruggles of Red Gap, so we watched that while we ate. We called it a night around eight o’clock as Nathan and Ranae headed home and mom and dad headed back to the hotel. The rest of us stayed up until midnight to watch the ball drop on Times Square while sipping sparkling wine and Martinelli’s to ring in the New Year.

(We also wished a Happy Birthday to Santasaurus.)

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On New Year’s Day, Vivian and I joined both sets of grandparents and a handful of our friends at Twin Valley Church to witness Hannah’s dedication before the congregation. It was wonderful to have both sets of grandparents on hand for the occasion, especially since this was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Drew said a few words and prayed while holding our little girl. She was very well behaved, though Vivian and I were both holding our breath with pacifier and bottle ready just in case we needed them. Special thanks to Eric for taking all the wonderful photos.

Afterward, we rang in the New Year together down at Village Inn over dark coffee and breakfast-for-lunch. The grandparents joined us again that evening for ham and black-eyed pea soup for dinner. The rest of the weekend wound down quite uneventfully, which was fine by me. We spent more quality time hanging with the folks and taking plenty of adorable pictures before mom and dad flew home Tuesday morning.