Monthly Archives: August 2012

The monkey and the bear

Vivian and I have been witnesses to quite an adventure this week.

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It all started on Saturday, when we dropped by our mutual friend Kaleb’s house for a game night / birthday party. Kaleb was recently featured in the Omaha World Herald (and by connection, Saturday Night Live) for having close to two-thousand board games crammed into spare rooms in his house. Viv and I enjoy games as much as anybody, but we’ve never dropped by for a night-long game of Werewolf, which apparently happened later. We stayed only long enough for some Catchphrase and round-the-world ping pong before it was Hannah’s bedtime.

The next day we dropped by Lindy in the Park and enjoyed a couple hours of good dancing with some of our fellow Jitterbugs. That’s when we heard the news from Sarah: Eric’s Gearshift Monkey and Omaha Royals Beanie Baby had been kidnapped!


We couldn’t believe it! Who could have done such a thing? Speculation on Facebook was running rampant, but nobody had seen who had broken into Eric’s car. Eric is known to have left his car doors unlocked in the past, but it’s quite possible someone had gotten inside by prying open the sunroof.

The kidnapper had also left a horrifying ransom note demanding cupcakes by one o’clock on Sunday, a deadline that Eric apparently slept through since he didn’t bother to look at the back of the photo. Fortunately, the kidnappers did not make good on their threat to harm Eric’s plush friends, but they did send another threatening photograph:


It was a dastardly deed only a Snidely Whiplash could come up with! Eric was cleverly able to deduce that the culprit was somewhere in Bellevue, as the photograph clearly showed Bear and Monkey on the railroad tracks near Gilmore Ave. The back of the photo also revealed that it had been printed at the Walgreens over on Galvin Road.

Eric boldly stated on Facebook that he would not negotiate with the kidnappers, but one final photograph finally broke him:


Eric gave in and agreed to pay a ransom of homemade walnut and somethingberry ice cream, and the exchange went down Thursday night at 9 pm. Vivian and I dropped by that night to share our condolences with our friend for his harrowing ordeal, but I took it upon myself to find the culprit. After some thorough research and careful deduction, I can now state that we finally know who the kidnapper truly was:


It was Steve the Drive-Thru Guy at the Galvin Taco Bell! Yes, it was Steve who broke into Eric’s car and stole the plush toys on Saturday night shortly before starting his shift. He also stole the camera out of my car like a ninja and used it to take pictures of Eric’s plush friends as he put them in compromising situations all over Bellevue. Oh, Steve, you evil person! When will you ever learn? Fortunately, I was able to strong-arm the camera back from Steve so I could put all these pictures online for you all to enjoy.

In other news, Hannah turned nine months old and learned how to escape from her crib. She’s literally growing up fast, going from the 10th to 90th percentile in height for her age in just a few months (so says our pediatrician).

Cooler weather, outdoor fun

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On Friday night, the Johnson Family dropped by the Sumtur for their last outdoor movie of the season, Puss in Boots. It was a cool 70-something degrees and I would have been just as happy stretched out on a picnic blanket all evening. A could hundred other families joined us sprawled out on the grass as the sun went down.

On Saturday night, Tamra hosted a campfire / obstacle course up at her parents’ place north of Omaha. She put together an obstacle course, which involved walking on planks, riding in wheelbarrows, and falling on the ground after spinning around on baseball bats. Vivian and Rachel didn’t win, but everyone seemed to have a good time, especially me, who took pictures of everything. We had a campfire roaring the entire time we were there, keeping us warm as we dined in sloppy joes and s’mores. (Hannah got to experience two firsts in one night — her first campfire and her first time petting a kitty.) It was sprinkling off and on throughout the evening, so we had to move the food indoors and retreat from our multicolored campfire when the flames proved to be too weak to evaporate every bit of precipitation trickling down on us.

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On Sunday afternoon, we headed down to Platte River State Park for the afternoon. We took Hannah swimming in the pool, which proved to be a little chilly as the sun played peek-a-boo behind the clouds. Our friends all took turns playing with Hannah as Vivian and I endured the sub-80-degree waters (which seemed to be too much for some of our friends to handle). Afterward, we went across the street to tour a small pond on paddle-boats, taking our assortment of DSLR cameras along to snap pictures of everything, of course. For dinner, we drove up to Pudgy’s Pizzeria in Gretna for a couple giant deep dish pizzas served up by Pudgy himself. Onion-Boy, being from Chicago, could vouch for the authenticity of the pies, though Jenny seemed somewhat skeptical of his credibility (not of the food — just in general).

Practice vacation

For the last couple of weeks, Nebraska’s been in the midst of a severe drought and triple-digit temperatures, so the Johnson Family has been enjoying the great indoors a little more than usual. Last week, we dropped by Sakura Bana last week to celebrate Tamra’s birthday, and we also dropped by Chick-Fil-A for the first time to have some chicken sandwiches before the rush on Wednesday (when they were actually completely sold out of food).

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Last weekend, we took a “practice” vacation to Kansas City, seeing what it would be like to hit the road with Hannah before our big trip to northern California at the end of September. We visited the plaza as usual, grabbing lunch at Jack Stack’s, where Hannah got to chew on a baby back rib or two. We also dropped by a toy store to play with some puppets before making our traditional visit to the Better Cheddar. We check into the hotel next, where Hannah seemed to enjoy playing with the curtains and looking generally adorable. We stayed at the Q Hotel across the street from the World Market, so we naturally had to walk across the street to stock up on curry sauce and avocado oil. By some fantastic coincidence, we bumped into Drew and Alisa, my old bible study leaders from Lincoln, who I hadn’t seen since our wedding four years ago. It’s definitely a small world.

When the sun went down, we packed into the car and went to the Boulevard Drive-In to see Ice Age 4 and Batman Rises. I’d never been to a drive-in before, and it was a fun throw-back to an era that ended long before I was born.

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The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel and spent a good portion of the afternoon at the Union Station Museum touring Science City. They had some fun optical illusions, floating balls, and a set of gears that kept Hannah fascinated. She also got the chance to meet a couple of new animal friends.

We had a late lunch down at Arthur Bryant’s and then dropped by a mysterious part of town around 21st and Vine Street. When Vivian and I traveled over a bridge on the Paseo Boulevard, we couldn’t help but notice a giant limestone castle peeking out from amidst the urban blight (known as the Vine Street Workhouse). There was actually a whole street of public works buildings down there that had been built over 100 years ago and reflected a time when this part of Kansas City was a ritzier neighborhood with buildings that reflected the wealth of residents who were no longer around. It made for an interesting diversion before heading on home.