Monthly Archives: April 2015

Foosball, dumplings, and kites


On Friday, we were hoping to take advantage of some lovely springtime weather and have a picnic with our friends, the Mills. Unfortunately, it seemed rain was in our forecast, so we just invited them over to grill out on our deck instead. It seemed to work out fine, as the burgers tasted just as good eaten inside, and we even brought in a fragrant sprig of lilac inside to liven things up a bit. Later on, we took the kids downstairs to play a bit of Foosball — a first-time experience for Hannah — and then we finished the evening up with some tasty watermelon cake.


On Saturday night, we celebrated our friend Jen’s birthday, and as usual that meant eating massive amounts of food. A handful of us were put to work folding pot-stickers (after Jen showed us how), and we also wrapped up a bit doughy dumplings, all of which were steamed to deliciousness before being eaten. Also available for the eating were some tea eggs, turnip cakes, and a couple pizzas stolen from Fong’s PizzaGeneral Tso Chicken and Crab Rangoon. There was even red bean ice cream that Vivian and I had to share in an adorable way.

An assortment of food-related shows on Netflix played in the background as Jen opened up presents, which included a Firefly-themed version of Clue and a birthday card or two. A few tiny bunnies also made an appearance to cuten things up (though we all know they will eventually be eaten). It was nice to catch up with a handful of our mutual friends, including Jessica, who somehow made it back to Nebraska and even came to church with us the next day.


We got some extra time with the grandparents on Sunday, as we took Hannah and Aaron out to fly a kite with Grandpa and Grandma Johnson. Hannah had a tiny kite of her own to play with, though it didn’t stay up for very long. Grandpa got his trusty rainbow kite aloft with Cow Baby along for the ride once again. Hannah actually amazed us by remembering putting Cow Baby on a kite whole year ago. (Aaron mostly crawled around looking cute, wearing in his hoodie or his three-piece suit.)

The next day, mommy took the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house to check out a nest of baby robins. Mama Bird is apparently making a nest of the electric box again just like she did a year ago. Spring is definitely here at last.

The big yellow one’s the sun

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On Friday night, Vivian and I had an impromptu date night as I snagged tickets to see Brian Regan down at the Holland Center. Vivian’s been a fan of his since before I even knew her, so it was a treat to see him live (and with all-new material, of course). Yes, that blurry photo above is actually Brian Regan taking the stage — I actually chose to snap just one blurry photo with my cell phone and actually enjoy the evening with Vivian rather than worry about documenting it. Imagine that!

Before the show, Grammy and Pop-Pop stopped by to dress Hannah up in color colorful springtime attire. Then they made us all pork chops for dinner, letting Hannah help and learn the magic of shake-and-bake. Then on Saturday, Vivian and I had something of an extended date-day together. The West girls from church were spending the day watching Hannah and Aaron so Vivian and I could clean house and then have lunch at the Pizza Shoppe for something of a late lunch.

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In other news, Aaron turned ten months old last week, which we celebrated with some adorable pictures in front of our tulips out front. Springtime seems to be exploding in every directions, with trees at the park and in our yard in full blossom. Hannah got to play with a pile of fallen blossoms on one of our walk-walks, and on another she got to discover the joy of running through a sprinkler. We’ve also been spending extra quality time at the park, giving the kids swing time and cupcakes whenever they’re available. Such are the joys of the season, at least before the scorching heat and humidity of the summer descend upon us.


Our friend Mark also turned 107 or something, which gave me a great excuse to join him and Phil and Jen at Pana 88 to have Ramen Noodles (not the Instant Noodles you’re thinking of, but something much more edible). It was the perfect place to laugh it up as a perpetual drizzle made the rest of the world cold and gray outside, a precursor to a dumpling party this weekend.

May the Eggs be ever in your favor

Easter is upon us once again as the the long weeks of winter make way for a season of new life and rebirth. Hannah got to wave a few palm branches at church last week on Palm Sunday, and then everyone in Omaha became sick simultaneously. There were outbreaks of flu, bronchitis, and even pneumonia hitting practically everyone we know at work, church, and elsewhere. Reid at Twin Valley even had to have an emergency appendectomy. It was a week for an Easter Bouquet of Get-Well Flowers in any case.


On Saturday, our family (plus my folks) went down to Aksarben Village to participate in an Easter Egg hunt sponsored by Jones Bros. Cupcakes. It turned out to be a frightening occasion, and not just because of the Easter Bunny. The “hunt” was a rather savage competition not unlike the Hunger Games as an overwhelming crowd of kids and parents descended upon a field with not nearly enough eggs to go around. With barely a word of warning from an emcee nobody could hear, toddlers were trampled and overeager grownups scooped up all the eggs within seconds. Hannah and practically half the toddlers there were unable to grab even a single egg during the melee. A few nice people gave our teary-eyed girl an egg or two from their own baskets in a gesture of goodwill, but we still counted the experience as a thoroughly disappointing bust. May the Eggs be ever in your favor.

That evening, we boiled up the eggs and gave Hannah the chance to dye a couple for the first time in our kitchen. She got to make some pretty colors happen and even experimenting dipping eggs into more than one cup of dye just to see how that worked. I boiled a couple extra eggs to make deviled eggs while watching the Ten Commandments, per tradition.


We had some gorgeous weather on Resurrection Sunday that made for a much happier Easter Egg Hunt for Hannah (and Aaron, who seemed content to sit in the grass and dig through Hannah’s bucket). Hannah found dozens of both plastic and hard-boiled eggs scattered throughout our yard as both sets of grandparents cheered her on.

We retreated inside afterward so Hannah could open up a few of the eggs and got and then dig through the goodies in her Easter Basket. She got an Easter activity book from Grandma Johnson and a new puzzle among other things in her Easter Basket from Grammy. Aaron got an Easter Basket too but seemed more content to chew on whatever he could find lying around on the floor.


We finished off the evening with our traditional Easter Dinner of ham (carved by Jack, naturally), Martinelli’s, and whatever else everyone brought with them. Grammy brought some sweet potato casserole that Aaron just couldn’t get enough of. Uncle Jonny was even able to escape from work long enough to join us for the evening. It’s definitely nice to be able to have so much family in one spot.

Happy Easter, everybody! Christ is risen, indeed.

Mom & Dad’s 40 years


Forty years ago on Sunday, my mom and dad got married in a little church out in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On Saturday, we decided to take them out to celebrate their forty years together at Big Mama’s Kitchen up in North Omaha. My folks are always fond of unique, local diners and “dives,” so having a little authentic Soul Food somewhere between Lake and Ames seemed like a nice idea. I actually had a Pig Ear sandwich, which Guy Fieri described as “natural bologna.” Big Mama herself actually came to sit down and chat with us for a good twenty minutes or so, telling us how she started the restaurant and got the last laugh on the bankers who thought she couldn’t make it when she sent them a DVD with her restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Back home, the whole family (namely Uncle Jonny, Uncle Nathan, and Aunt Ranae) gathered to watch a PowerPoint presentation my dad had put together showing photos of when he and mom first met as missionaries in Brazil, along with many of their mutual friends we’d met over the years. It was nice to review a bit of family history over key lime cheesecake Vivian had made for the occasion. Happy Anniversary, mom and dad! Here’s to another forty years together and perhaps many, many more.

P.S. In other news, Palm Sunday and a Jalapeño Cream Cheese Sundae with Bacon both happened.