Monthly Archives: November 2014

Friendship is Magic


It’s hard to believe, but my little girl turned three years old on Saturday — she’s growing up so fast! We celebrated with a My Little Pony themed party down at Twin Valley Church and invited all of Hannah’s little friends (no “bronies” allowed). Donna made a lovely Applejack cake, which Hannah has been talking about all week, along with some pony cookies to get everyone all sugared up. There was plenty of horse play for kids of all ages, and then Vivian had a “color your own pony” craft for all the little ones to do. Hannah also got a bunch of presents — toys from Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, and other shows she watches. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for a Gummi Bear or two for Christmas.


There was also another birthday in the neighborhood. Phil was turning older up the street, so we drove on my to get free food wish him a happy birthday. We got to let Aaron flirt a bit with Cameron’s little girl. Phil and Jen stayed busy cooking, as usual, as Mystery Science Theater 3000 played in the background, which I expect to repeat at our own house on Turkey Day (if YouTube lets me stream via our Roku).


On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s house so they could get a Christmas picture with their grandkids. We had tacos for lunch, and dad showed us some of his old toys, such as a giant “portable” radio that uses “A” style batteries and vacuum tubes, and a collection of Presidential figurines. I had some fun playing with those and having Hoover and Harding do battle with Roosevelt and Wilson while Hannah had Mamie Eisenhower hopping along with Ike. Good times.

The cold never bothered me anyway

Vivian and I have been busy doing something every weekend for the past month or two, so this weekend was relatively quiet by comparison.


On Saturday, we had our first legitimate snowfall of the season, so Tamra came over to help celebrate by playing with Hannah in the inch of powder out on our front lawn. The even made an itty bitty snowman with what little of the white stuff they could muster up. I made some potato soup for dinner, and the girls baked and decorated some sugar cookies (with Hannah getting her hands all purple in the process). Then we lit a roaring fire in the fireplace and watched Frozen together before calling it a night. (I was wallowing in Schadenfreude following Nebraska’s meltdown in Wisconsin.)

All Creatures Great and Stuffed


Having my parents live just down the street instead of on the other side of the country means that we can drop by for a random visit “Just Because,” which is exctly what we did on Saturday night. I offered to make some chicken alfredo for dinner with my folks, and we spent a good couple of hours letting Hannah get some quality time with Grandpa and Grandma Johnson. My dad actually had a giant box of his old toys that he wanted to show her, which included an original plush Smokey the Bear and a working Howdy Doody marionette. He even had a Coon Skin Cap, which Hannah didn’t seem to care much for. Then upstairs he had an assortment of other family treasures, one of which was my grandfather’s old Bulova wristwatch. I was amazed that it still worked, so I’ve been wearing it myself this week as a way to connect to a generation long passed away (and for some retro flair on my wrist).


As you might have heard, the Polar Vortex has come to visit Middle America once again, but on Sunday it was in the 50s and 60s. The Henry-Doorly Zoo also had free admission for the day, so we took Hannah to spend the afternoon there. This was Hannah’s third trip to the Best Zoo in the World (as ranked by Trip Advisor), and as usual, we could only see a fraction of what the zoo had to offer during our time there.

This time around, we started at the Petting Zoo so Hannah could brush a goat. The Peacocks were out in full feather, so we watched them strutting about as we said hello to a bear or two and also a gaur. We walked through the Gorilla Valley and saw a couple wild cats up above (as well as a free-range photographer). The butterfly pavilion seemed to be one of the more popular exhibits, so we had to drop in to walk through their steamy jungle for a moment. We continued on down to the giraffes and the sensory garden, where Hannah got to spend some quality time with an orangutan. We crossed the river full of koi to see some more monkeys and sea lions. Hannah spent a few minutes on a small playground, and then we saw on cute prairie dogs on our way to the carousel for a quick ride before going home.

In other news, Aaron turned Five Months Old on Tuesday (Veteran’s Day).

All Hallows’ Eve


It’s All Hallows’ Eve once again, which means taking little ones around the neighborhood for a giant sugar binge right before bedtime. (Whose idea was this?!) Hannah started the evening off by painting the pumpkin she picked out herself at Union Orchard and placing it out on the front stoop for all her fellow Halloweeners to see. Then she put on her Cinderella gown one more time so mom and dad could take her on a chilly evening walk to get candy from the neighbors. While we were out, a team of horses from Barebacks & Bells came riding up the street, with young ladies trick-or-treating on horseback. Welcome to Nebraska, everybody.

This was little Aaron’s first Halloween, but he’s too little for trick-or-treating or candy. We did, however, stop by my parents’ house so he and his sister could say hello in costume. (Aaron’s a giraffe, this year, Vivian says. A giraffe!)


After the kids were tucked in bed, Vivian and I got to have some Halloweening of our own down at the Eagles’ Lodge dressed as Professor Wagstaff and a Crime Scene (with Grammy and Pop-Pop watching the house). We don’t go out dancing nearly as often as we used to, so it felt good to be back in the “swing” of things once again. We had a few special visitors in attendance as well — Jessica Ritchie dropped in from North Carolina, Keith was also back from his sabbatical in Utah, and Sarah Epperly Hood came by after many, many years of hiatus.

The usual gang of Lindy Hopping ghouls were there as well, and we had a costume contest halfway through the evening where everyone could show off their duds to Beauty and the Beast on stage. We had a sham-sham as usual, and a round of Thriller shortly thereafter led by the ever-enthusiastic Takashi. He also had his moment in the spotlight doing some karaoke to Mack the Knife. That made our evening quite complete.


Halloween didn’t end with the end of October, however. On Saturday night, Merinda threw her annual Halloween Party at her place in mid-town, so Vivian and I donned our costumes again and headed up for another round of dressing up and dancing with our cluster of mutual friends. We took a couple swings at a skull-shaped pinata and opened up the dance floor for Lindy Hopping to songs such as The Monster Mash and Ghostbusters. One of my Groucho eyebrows came off, but I immediately found a use for it as way to complete Ben Peet’s Charlie Chaplin costume. We also played a little bowler frisbee before Eric started stripping. At that point, we decided to call it a night.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Next stop — Thanksgiving.