Seven years ago, Vivian and I went out to have sushi with a couple of our friends at Sakura Bana one Friday night in January. I had asked Vivian a week earlier if she wanted to be my girlfriend, and on this particular Friday after dinner, she asked me, “So… you want to make it official?” A year and a day later, I got down on one knee and asked her the same question on bended knee.
Every year since that fateful night, we’ve been celebrating January 26 as our Sushi Anniversary, having some form of sushi even if it meant going to the seafood buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas. This year, we braved 60 mile-per-hour winds to eat at Matsu Sushi in downtown Omaha, having some delicious bento boxes with sushi and vegetable tempura together. Vivian’s parents were nice enough to watch Hannah for the night, so we spent a little time after dinner being adventurous, trekking out into the long-forgotten corners of Omaha in search of First Street, which turns out was tucked away on a lonely dirt road behind the Zoo. Who knew? We also discovered that the Gene Leahy Mall, always the location of choice for Lindy in the Park, appeared to be all finished with its reconstruction. Maybe once it warms up we’ll be dancing there once again.
In other news, Hannah got some portraits done at JCPenney, so we can now share her cuteness at a professional level. My parents also sold their house in North Carolina and are planning to move back to Omaha in about a month, which is amazing news. That means we’ll have both sets of grandparents living nearby to
provide free babysitting visit anytime, which is certainly exciting.
January tends to be a quiet month, with the chaotic bustle of three months of holidays and parties having come to an end abruptly with the turning of a new year. As such, Vivian and I have started the tradition of hosting food-sampling parties at the end of January, cheese parties on odd years and hors d’oeuvres on even ones.
We hosted our second hors d’oeuvres party on Saturday with a handful of our culinarily-savy friends: Phil and Jen (of course), Cameron and S. Jael, Jenny, Libby, Tamra, Mark, and Lisa. We also had an unexpected guest early on in the evening: a fluffy little dog named Po who came knocking to come in out of the cold. I gave her a ride home as the rest of the gang practiced their moves and got ready for a showdown.
As usual, we had a lovely assortment of contestants: shrimp, bruschetta, chicken salad, blue cheese cookies with fig jam, chicken peanut salay, and a handful of other worthy contenders. Vivian and I broke out some baked brie and garlic, escargot, and even some caviar, adding to the European flavor of the evening’s dishes. The winner of the night was Phil’s smoked salmon puffs, which were made some scratch. (He even smoked the salmon himself!) We had some games and movies in the wings for the rest of the evening, but as usual we wound up just enjoying each other’s company for most of the night with the help of Riesling and chocolate wine.
The next day at church, our Mongolian missionary Ingrid Kimmons dropped in to pay us a visit and share new from the far east. She came at the perfect time, since the polar vortex has drifted back north and left us with balmy 60-degree weather to enjoy. Hannah and her little friends got to play in the leaves after church, and then we took her to the park for a picnic lunch afterward. One thing I’ve learned about Nebraska weather is that there are plenty of gorgeous days to enjoy if you take advantage of them.
It’s been a relatively quiet year so far on this little blog, though Vivian and I have still been having lots of fun here in Omaha despite the “polar vortex” thing that happened. Vivian has gone back to work temporarily at Friendship Program, which means Hannah gets to spend some extra quality time during the the day with Grammy and Pa Pa. Vivian and I also did some babysitting for our mutual friends Randy and Jolene, watching their little one on one day so they could watch Hannah on another. That allowed Vivian and me to catch the new Hobbit film last weekend and then have a nice dinner at the Zin Room afterward. I also got to have a fun little lunch date with Vivian and Hannah at Petrow’s. Hannah was a good little girl thanks to the help of Winnie the Pooh streaming through Wifi on my phone.
In other news, our friends the Kuehmichels invited us and a handful of other folks from church over to their place for an after New Year’s party at their house. Ben roasted beef and chicken and Amanda had a counter full of gluten-free goodies for everybody. Ben and I also got to talk quite a bit about geeky stuff, specifically streaming video throughout the house using network-attached-storage, something I’m going to have to figure out when I’ve finally had enough of shuffling files back and forth to our Roku via Flash drive.
On Superbowl Sunday next month, the Kuehmichels will have us over at their house again to kick off a new small group at our church for young families. We’ll be sharing stories from the bible with our kids on their level and then studying them on a “grown-up” level afterward. We’re pretty excited about this little group, because it will give both us and Hannah the chance to connect with other people in a spiritual level. It reminds me that having little ones is no excuse to become a “hermit” and seal yourself off from the outside world. It’s actually just the opposite.
Happy New Year, everyone! Vivian, Hannah, and I have enjoyed ringing in the new year with our family and friends as the calendar turned another page.
Shortly after Christmas, Phil and Jen invited us over to their place for a “hot pot” dinner with Cameron and Phil’s sister (now husband and wife). Phil and Jen are always great about introducing us to new culinary and cultural experiences, so we all got to enjoy picking out tofu, chicken, seafood, and bok choy from a simmering pot in the middle of the table with a variety of chopsticks. Even Hannah got in on the action, which was adorable. One thing I love about my daughter is that she’s never hesitant about trying new things.
We had some gorgeous post-Christmas weather on Saturday, with highs in the 60s, so I made sure to take Hannah down to the park to enjoy it while we could, happily playing outside and having a burger for lunch. Uncle Jonny came down for a post-Christmas visit, so we got to catch up with him watching some cheesy movies, and then we went to see Frozen with Uncle Nathan and have dinner at Village Inn.
On New Year’s Eve, the Johnson Family joined a bunch of our friends at Twin Valley Church for a game night as we waited to welcome 2014. I played a couple rounds of Scattergories and Pictionary, and we even broke out Operation for a few minutes of extracting plastic toilets and boogers with a pair of electronic tweezers. Hannah got to toddle around with a few of the TVC kids and figure out a Mr. Potato Head. Pastor Drew and a few of our other friends spent a couple hours playing Ticket to Ride, and then they spent an hour or two more going over the rules of an even more complicated game called Seven Wonders. I think they eventually got to play before midnight, because Randy managed to win by a few points. Midnight rolled around and we all cheered Happy New year before going home to collapse.
On New Year’s Day, Vivian and I slept in and spent a good portion of the day playing clean-up and shoveling the inch or two of snow that fell overnight off our driveway. That evening, we dropped by Jack and Donna’s for a New Year’s dinner of black-eyed peas and ham. Donna read Hannah a story or two (without the help of Hannah’s new LeapFrog Tag Junior) and then gave a couple of us haircuts before calling it a night.