Monthly Archives: October 2016

Hillarump and Pence


Halloween is upon us once again, and that means dressing up as the scariest pair of characters imaginable for Jenny’s Halloween Bash: our own two Presidential Candidates! That’s what Vivian and I decided to do in an unusually bi-partisan move (with plenty of jokes at the expense of Trump and Hillary). My costume was relatively simple, as it only required a suit and tie (which I already owned) along with a little makeup and a wig. Vivian borrowed my parents’ orange prison jumpsuit, which frankly, honestly, was supposed to look more like an orange pantsuit (seriously). It was a fun evening with our assortment of mutual friends, including Mr. Clean, the Mad Hatter, Lumber Jack, She-Ra, the Musketeer Family, Joy and Anger, Mr. and Mrs. Tron, Peach and Mario, that included the usual bit of dancing (to Thriller in particular) along with birthday cake for Jenny and invincibility cookies for Kody.


On Wednesday night, Hannah and Aaron got a bit of early Halloween fun at First Presbyterian Church, trick-or-treating among the volunteers for candy and then playing a few games in their multi-purpose room.

Then on Thursday, I got to dive briefly back into the political world when Mike Pence came to Omaha. He gave a speech at Midstates Construction Products, which is a stone’s throw from where I work, so dropping by to check things out was fairly easy. The usual cast of campaign characters were there, including some brief antics from a few left-wingers. Don Bacon and Gov. Pete Ricketts both introduced Pence before the took the stage, and Gov. Pence had plenty of nice things to say about them both. There was actually a brief medical emergency as someone near the front passed out during Ricketts speech, and the Governor stopped the speech and asked the crowd to join him prayer for the man as he was tended to by medical personal, which was touching.

When Pence was finished, he greeted everyone near the front with handshakes, selfies, and autographs before taking off. A woman next to me had brought her three kids, so I helped them get to the front to meet Gov. Pence. I’d been to enough to these events to know how this was done, and it was the first campaign event any of them had attended this year,

It’s honestly hard to believe this election isn’t over yet. Just a few more days.

Autumn at Vala’s and Bacon by the Fire

Fall is probably the best time of year to be outside, enjoying the crisp autumn air and seeing the trees bursting with color. Of course, the temperature still swings wildly from the chilly 40s to the near-summer 80s in a matter of days.


On Wednesday I took the entire day off for our our annual trip down to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. I learned how much more fun this autumnal amusement park is when you have no lines, no crowds, and tickets are half price. We kicked off our trip at the pig races (which included ducks for some reason), and then our kids got to have some quality time on a slide or two. They played on the new obstacle course and had a few more photo opportunities on some tractors and at the storybook village. Hannah also got to give Little Bo Beep her annual hug.

We eventually met up with Jenny and Kody at the bouncing pillows before moving along to the corn bin, the dragon, and the Rocking Chair. The sun went down and we got some dinner around a campfire with the folks at Bellevue Christian Center before calling it a night. The temperature dropped to about 48, which was a little too chilly for us, so we didn’t get to see the new “eggshibit” that Jenny and Kody went along to look at. We all still had fun, though, even if we only saw a fraction of the attractions available. (Sorry, Pumpkin Mine. I think this here map is was wro-o-ong.)


On Sunday afternoon, we had attended a “FUNdraiser” for congressional candidate Don Bacon down at Scatter Joy Acres, a therapeutic animal farm hidden away north of 49th and Sorensen Parkway. The farm itself was built over a hundred years ago, back when this area was still part quite rural before the “hood” grew up all around it (though it still felt like being in the country). Our kids got to interact with pigs, llamas, ponies, cows, and several other farm animals before we made our way to the picnic area. Both kids got to paint pumpkins in-between playing on the various farm attractions in the play area. Don Bacon was there as well, of course, meeting and greeting everyone and even giving an extended interview to a reporter from Sweden, who came all the over to cover the Presidential Election.

It was probably the most fun, family-friendly political event I’d been to since Ben Carson came to Council Bluffs last August. I was also disappointed that I can’t vote for Bacon, since we’re no longer in his district, but I did enjoy getting to shake hands and ask him a few questions face-to-face. (And despite appearing in a photo with volunteers for Gary Johnson, he is, in fact, “holding his nose” and voting for Trump.)


In other news, both Hannah and Aaron got their Halloween costumes for the year, just in time for trunk-or-treating in a week or two. We’ve also been getting in as much park time as possible. We visited Thompson Park on Saturday, which was unseasonably warm compared to Vala’s on Wednesday. Hannah got to practice ballet in the tennis court, and she brought along her new Peppa Pig for some of the fun. Then on Monday, we walked up and down the Keystone Trail taking in as many of the fall colors as we could before the leaves all fell off. Enjoy it while you can, everyone — winter’s on its way.

Game Nights

Whenever life gets hectic and it seems we don’t have one spare moment to catch our breath, I like to remind myself (and Vivian) how nice it is to have friends. I was reminded of that this weekend hanging out with three separate clusters of our own mutual friends.


On Friday night, Kate and Jessica had another game night, which was always a good idea for us, since Kate’s three girls seems to negate any need for babysitting Hannah and Aaron. Kate had an assortment of food, which included pizza dough, which Vivian made use of. I brought along some pumpkin spice Irish cream and we played a couple rounds of a card game called Baseball, which I nearly figured out how to play before we were done for the night.

Then on Saturday, we went up to Blair to see Tamra and Ryan’s new house for an evening of Tea and Telestrations. There was a campfire and Giant Jenga happening outside, but the carnivorous bugs seemed to be too much for everyone, so we stayed inside playing games upstairs and down. Hannah and Aaron also got to know a certain Siberian Husky up close and personal (and without freaking out).


On Sunday night, Twin Valley Church had its annual shin-dig at the Hall’s, with a roaring fire for s’mores and food brought by everybody. The kids had some fun swinging, rolling a giant wooden spool around, and checking out the chicken coop before the sun went down. Sadly, there was no hayrack-riding, since there was a conspicuous lack of hay, but we decided by the end of the night to have a bean-bag chair rack ride next year (BYOBBCs).

Then on Monday night, it was Daddy’s Night at Hannah’s Preschool. I’d gone last year with Hannah and got to see some of the same activities they engage in this time around, including the Daddy Song that the class sang for us. Hannah’s friend Sammy was there as well, and they got to spend a little time playing together. It had been raining all day, and when we left there was a giant rainbow to the east that spanned the entire sky — the biggest most of us had seen in our entire lives, I think.

Fall’s kicking into high gear now, and we’ve got plans for some outdoor fun over the next few weeks before Halloween (and winter) start to set in. Hello, autumn!

Don, Rudy, and Johnny


I genuinely thought my participation in the 2016 Presidential Election would have ended way back at the end of the Iowa Primaries. Not so. On Wednesday last week, Donald Trump made a last-minute campaign stop in Council Bluffs, so I dropped by the Mid-America Center with a couple thousand people to get a glimpse of the Donald one last time before November. The crowd consisted of the usual suspects — namely PowerLine blogger Dave Begley and Fake Security Guy (the latter of whom was jockeying for autographs). To my surprise, only about half the crowd was over forty, and the other half were college-age kids and young families (with their kids in tow). Unlike some of the earlier, rowdier campaign events, this one was safe for the whole family, particularly when security spotted a Black Lives Matter thug and ushered him out the door an hour or two before the event started.

A handful of people warmed up the crowd before Trump took the stage, including Tana Goertz, Tamara Scott, and Jamie Johnson, who gave an opening prayer. The biggest surprise guest, however, was Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who introduced Donald Trump before he took the stage. Giuliani stayed near the barricade where I was standing long enough to shake hands and sign autographs before he left. As for Trump, he gave a fairly typical stump speech to the friendly crowd. One new addition this time around was a Teleprompter, but from my vantage point, I could read along and see Trump was only using it about a third of the time or less — he would read a few words and then go off on a tangent before getting back on-script. Unfortunately, he didn’t stick around for more than a minute when he was done, leaving some of us who were hoping for an autograph a bit disappointed.


The next day, I had lunch with Don Bacon, retired Brigadier General now running for congress in the second district. I’ve seen him shaking hands at every parade for a year or two now, and he seems to be popping up everywhere to meet constituents and ask for their vote. He gave a brief talk and seemed like the perfect candidate for this election season — a genuine outsider to compete against a career politician like Brad Ashford.

Then that evening, I and a handful of my Jitterbug friends crashed at the Reverb Lounge to see Johnny Boyd and his band. Indigo Swing was one of the very first swing bands I knew by name, and I got to see these guys perform at Cowtown three years ago, which was fantastic. This time, the venue was much smaller and much more intimate. We had only a few feet of space to dance inside the tiny lounge, but that also meant Johnny and his guys were performing just a few feet away from us, which was almost intimidating. I had a dance with nearly everyone there before calling it a night. Next year, I hope to see them again while on tour, and preferably come with Vivian.