Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Pumpkin Patch and a Costume Party


The season of Halloween goes marching on as Hannah turns 23 months old, almost all the way to two. We got an anniversary picture of her out front in the still-too-large Pumpkin costume she wore last year in the front yard.

On Friday, Hannah got to participate in some of her first trick-or-treating this weekend. We stopped by the YMCA on Friday, which was having a “trunk or treat” out in the parking lot. It was good practice for Hannah and some of our mutual friends’ kids to learn the fun of taking candy from strangers. They had a few costumed characters wandering about and lots of activities inside for the kids. I was particularly proud of Hannah’s determined attempt to get through a large inflatable obstacle course, though she seemed more interested in crawling around the large, plush blocks inside.


On Saturday, we headed down to Union Orchard north of Nebraska City and took Hannah to a pumpkin patch for the first time. The weather was gorgeous, and Hannah loved being able to run around in a  field full of the giant, orange fruits. We picked out a pumpkin of our own, and Hannah claimed a tiny green “baby pumpkin” for herself. We also grabbed some apple donuts, apple slushies, and some apple smoked sausage inside in-between Hannah playing on a few of the rides in the children’s area.

On the way home, we drove through Plattsmouth, which is now on my list of the Prettiest Small Towns in the World. We saw a sign for a place called “Mom’s Cafe” which served giant chicken fried steaks and decided we had to eat there. I took a stroll with Hannah down Main Street and got several pictures of the pretty buildings, half of which were on some registry of historic places. A couple volunteers were setting up for some Halloween street carnival later in the day, so Hannah said hello to a few of them before going back for lunch.


That evening, Merinda had another one of her famous Halloween parties at her and Mike’s new house up near 72nd and Blondo. As usual, several people outdid themselves again with a whole cast of characters from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Egon Spengler, Carmen Sandiego, Vampire Hunter D, and a Ringmaster and Bearded Lady making appearances. Even Binx got into the act with a tiny pair of goat horns. Hannah mostly stayed adorable and ran circles around the big kids throughout the evening.

Playing Dress-Up


As fall marches on, Vivian and I decided to drop by the Farmer’s Market downtown for the first and last time this season. We got our fill of salsa, bruschetta, fresh bread from Le Quartier. I also picked up a couple heads of kohlrabi, since I have the habit to trying anything I’ve never heard of before. As usual, there were plenty of street musicians around to keep Hannah entertaining while nibbling pieces of bread. I also got to pick up some of Tap Dancers Specialty Coffee. Maxine’s done a great job so far spoiling me on my caffeine fix that I owed her a bag of the “good stuff.”


On Saturday night, Jenny held her annual costume party, hosted once again by the gracious West Family up by Lake Cunningham. Hannah’s recently become very fond of monkeys, so we decided to dress her up as one for Halloween this year. That, of course, meant I had to become the Man in the Yellow Hat, while Vivian opted to be a banana seller. A bunch of our friends went all out once again this year. Tamra became a frighteningly convincing alien, the Strasser Family became martial artists (with no makeup required for that black eye), Paul and Leigh Ann were Little Bo Beep and a Lost Sheep, and Jenny came as a Minion from Despicable Me, all adorably homemade. Naturally, there was plenty of dancing in the basement, which made things hot enough to Hannah to toss her monkey suit to the wayside by the time we were ready to head home.

Curry, hayracks, and a pumpkin patch

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The month of October is always jam-packed with fun events with our circle of friends, and this weekend was certainly no exception. On Friday night, Vivian and I dropped by the Regency Lake & Tennis Club to attend a wedding reception PK with a bunch of her former co-workers. PK and his new bride are both from Nepal, and brought an entire cross-section of his family to come and celebrate in true Nepalese style. There was some amazing ethnic food available out front — chicken chhoyla, vegetable pakoda, palak paneer, rajma, chicken tikka masala, and mutton curry — every one of which was a new treat for us. Hannah even got to try a few bites, though she seemed content to munch on shrimp crackers and naan. I’m definitely grateful that the venue allowed PK and his family to bring their own food. Afterward, we got to burn it off with some dancing to energetic music once a few of us got over ourselves. Naturally, there were about a dozen cameras pointed every which way, so people had a few inhibitions before hitting the floor, but once PK’s mom got into the fun, nobody wanted to sit it out.

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On Saturday, we continued the fall traditions with a trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. This was Hannah’s second visit to Nebraska’s famous autumnal amusement park, and this time around she was big enough to participate in some of the “big kid” attractions, such as the jumping pillows, the new Big Slide, and even the family-sized go-cart (though I did the pedaling and steering while Vivian held on for dear life). Of course, we had to bring a gang of our great friends to join in the fun (and the lines). Li Ya also brought her little boy, who immediately took a shine to Hannah. A crashed for food when necessary between trudging through a corn maze and pumpkin mine, and we grabbed a photo opportunity on a giant chair, in a coffin, in the gift shop, in jail, and by a pile of pumpkins when we got the chance (with the help of some friendly passersby). Hannah also got to see a pig race, a dragon or two, and definitely enjoyed the storybook village, riding in a pumpkin carriage and giving Little Bo Beep a hug. We finished off the night with Amazing Arthur (where I missed Jenny getting called up on stage), and found our way out through the gift shop, grabbing an obligatory caramel apple along the way.

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On Sunday, the Halls opened up their home again for another fun campfire and hay rack ride with our friends at Twin Valley Church. It was a gorgeous day for being outdoors and riding around in the countryside. Hannah is old enough now to play with the cluster of little friends from church who came along for the event, and she got to discover some of the fun of riding in a tire swing and eating tasty fall things in front of a campfire. One of the things I love best about our little church group is how much fun we all seem to have together. Of course there were plenty of pictures being snapped from every angle, so Teresa recruited a couple of us to snap pictures of her family while we were being so shutter-happy.

Do you hear the people sing?


Vivian and I had a memorable Friday date night last week when we went to see Les Miserables at the Omaha Community Playhouse (using the two tickets I was able to snag for her birthday — front row center!) We stopped by Danny’s at 72nd and Blondo for dinner first, getting in some ribeye/cheese steak goodness before the show. The performance was stellar, as I knew it would be, with vocal talents including Timothy Shew, who has performed Jean Valjean some 1600 times, including on Broadway, and too many others to list in one blog post. They really shone during the thunderous group numbers, particularly One Day More right before intermission. I have to give props to the technical wizards who were able to put a revolving platform in the middle oft he stage, allowing actors to walk in place and have scenery shift around them during scenes (and it operated almost silently despite carrying a barricade full of rebellious schoolboys).

Right before intermission, I got a call from my Uncle Ben, who was concerned about a tornado that hit Wayne, Nebraska this afternoon where my brother lives. I was able to get hold of him between acts to make sure he was all right.

Picture above left by Christian M. Robertson courtesy of the Omaha Community Playhouse Facebook page.


On Saturday, we took Hannah for another swim lesson and then spent a few hours down at Gifford Farm for their fall festival. Hannah got to decorate a cookie or two, and then Grammy and I took her around to look at some animals and explored a hollowed-out tree for a bit. We took Hannah on her first hayrack ride of the season after that and then got a little lunch. Hannah also got to slide down into a pile of hay a couple times before we headed on home, which quickly became her most favorite thing to do ever. Vivian went straight from there to her women’s bible study retreat, so I got some quality time with my girl for the evening (who spent some of it reading to her doll on the couch, a terrible “Daw” worthy moment in parenting).

Hannah spends some time reading to her doll on the couch.

Happy Sashimi


Over the weekend, we celebrated both Vivian and Jack turning another year. On Friday, it was Vivian’s birthday, so we kicked off the festivities with a lunchtime birthday date at La Buvette in the Old Market, sampling wine and cheese and a few Greek things and enjoying some gorgeous fall weather eating outdoors. Afterward, we walked up the street to Ted & Wally’s so Vivian could get her free birthday ice cream for dessert.

That evening, we gathered with a bunch of our friends at Tokyo Omaha (coincidentally a few blocks away) for a birthday sushi binge. Vivian took full advantage of the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat format by getting a plate full of tasty sashimi. A whole bunch of our favorite, goofy friends came along to join us for the birthday bash, and then afterward we went to the Eagles’ Lodge for Jitterbugs Night Out. You can’t have a birthday without a birthday jam, of course! We barely had room when we returned home to have some of the massive angel food cake Donna made for us. Fortunately, my brother Jonathan stopped by to help us eat it over the weekend (and brought a pie of his own from Village Inn).

Vivian got to open a few presents before we all went to bed, which included tickets to see Les Misérables on Friday next week. (Check back for that update next week!)


Of course, this weekend was also Jack’s birthday, having been born two days apart from Vivian (and a couple years, of course). We celebrated the way we have for many years — bloomin’ onion and rib-eye steaks at the Outback Steakhouse. We returned home to open some presents afterward and then went to Ted & Wally’s for some more birthday ice cream. Jack found a way to ruin a perfectly good cone with two scoops of black licorice ice cream (and a scoop of pistachio in-between).

In other news, we had a bit of sadness as Vivian’s Uncle David passed away in California after an unfortunate fall. He was taken off life support on Friday and was fortunate enough to leave this earth with no long-term suffering or illness. Hannah got the chance to meet him when we stopped by to visit Fortuna last year. He will be greatly missed.