Monthly Archives: October 2017

Autumn in bloom and Bob Krist

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Johnson Family, much of it spent on Halloween activities, which has somehow turned into a multi-week holiday season all on its own. More on that in the next update.

23951157048_b89e9551cb_oWe’ve been enjoying as much of the fall colors as possible while the leaves are still on the trees. I went to the park with the kids one late afternoon just to see them in their golden splendor and get a few family pictures underneath the trees’ flaming foliage along the Keystone Trail.

In preparation for winter, I bought an air compressor to blow out our sprinkler system and then took a few plants inside for the winter. I also gave my parents’ lawn one last mow and celebrated with some pizza after a wagon ride to their house with the kids. Fall seems to be inspiring lots of different culinary dishes, which Aldi seems to have in spades.

IMG_5367In political news, I went to a small meet-and-greet with 2018 Gubernatorial Candidate Bob Krist, who’s been (literally) flying around the state campaigning. He’s a former state senator — and former Republican — currently running for governor on a yet-to-be-named third party ticket. It was an extremely small gathering with fewer than ten attendees who weren’t media or with the campaign, and there seemed to be a mix of both democrats and republicans who’d shown up to meet Bob, the one common denominator being they all lived in his voting district.

I got to ask him a few questions about why he was running and his opinion on topics such as school choice, but he didn’t give a stump speech and didn’t seem to have a concrete platform other than “being bipartisan,” which seemed fairly unclear to me. I’ll probably still vote for current governor, who I’ve rubbed elbows with on more than one occasion, but I always appreciate hearing other points of view.

Fall fun at Vala’s, the Hall’s, and the Museum

Why hello, autumn! You snuck up on us while we’ve been busy, so I guess it’s now time for some of our favorite fall traditions: Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, a Hayrack Ride at the Hall’s, and getting set for Halloween!


We went down to Vala’s last Thursday with a bunch of other home-schooled kids from Classical Conversations and had a long, fun day at the Pumpkin Patch. We took multiple trips through the Spook Shed (now Hannah’s favorite attraction), and Pig Caller Mark Celesky picked Hannah got to be a Pig Leader again during one of the many Pig Races throughout the day. We dropped by the duck races, the bouncing pillows, and the corn bin, and then got a bucket o’ fries to tide us over until dinner. We even got a free train ride around the park, getting rare glimpses of the Old West Town and the Singing Fish Wall (followed by the Train Playground afterward). The kids played on some scooters, some tractors also spent a good deal of time firing foam balls inside a the new, giant Egg Barn (which, as it turned out, had very little to do with eggs). Of course, we also took advantage of photo opportunities on the Big Chair behind painted cutouts throughout the park during the day, including a Cow, some donkeys, some ghosts, a pumpkin carriage, and the How Tall This Fall board to record how Hannah and Aaron measure up.

We went down a couple slides and then had some dinner and s’mores by the Classical Conversations fire pit toward the end of the day. Then we visited the Dragon and let Hannah and Aaron pick out a couple pumpkins of their own before we headed home, happily exhausted.


Dad and I spent a little time fixing things around the house on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we went to the Hall’s for another campfire and hayrack ride through the country. The kids tossed around a football, Aaron got to play on a tire swing, and Hannah chased some of the farm cats (which resembled her toy cat Zoey, which has gone missing yet again). I brought along my tripod for a few family pictures on the hayrack before Rick drove us around the dirt trails as the sun went down. We kept warm by the fire afterward while filling up on chili and things for dinner, and some of the guys broke out some guitars for some worship songs before we headed home.


Then on Tuesday, our kids got to break out their Halloween Costumes for the first time (after mommy dragged them to three or four stores trying to find them)! They dressed as characters from PJ Masks, Cat Boy and Green Gecko, and we took them down to the Omaha Children’s Museum for an evening of “healthy” treats and checking out the exhibits. They had some kind of obstacle course set up for Halloween along with a “forest” exhibit upstairs with a canoe, Brio Train Set, and logs to climb on. Some of the parents came in costume as well, prompting me to start thinking seriously about my own costume this year.

On the way out the door, Vivian stopped to get a picture with museum employee Shawn Toovey, also known for playing Brian Cooper on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman back in the 90s. He was very nice, and Vivian asked him if he’d enjoyed being on the show as a kid and whether he kept in touch with former cast members. I never actually watched the show growing up, so Vivian was a bit more star-struck than I was, but maybe I’ll have to give it a watch sometime. (I think it’s available on Amazon.)

Butterflies, Bear Hunt, and Bottomless Shrimp

The past several weeks have been a non-stop flurry of activity, so it feels eerily strange that things have settled down a bit.


We took Jack and Donna out for his birthday (which came two days after Vivian’s). That meant steak and (bottomless) shrimp at Outback and then a few presents and some of Vivian’s signature chocolate cheesecake at home. We’ve had some lovely fall weather happening, which means getting kids out of the house as much as possible. I got one lovely bike ride to work before going through a couple days of rain that postponed our trip to Vala’s until next week.

We were also able to attend TVC’s monthly potluck and saw Ingrid Kimmons, our sponsored missionary from Thailand, stop by to announce her retirement and give the church a trophy of some kind. In other news, we’ve been treating the kids to some culinary experiments, such as engagement chicken, pork tenderloin (bought in bulk from Aldi), and even a sampling of actual coffee (doctored with lots of milk).


We had a brief visit to my parents’ house to see some butterflies before I went and mowed the lawn. Then that evening we went back to First Presbyterian Church to see the 1967 Disney classic, The Jungle Book. We had our fair share of hot dogs, since there was a small crowd (which included the Mills), and we finished off the evening with Play-Dough.

Then on Wednesday (shortly after taking the Civic to the shop when the cam and crankshaft sensors unexpectedly went out on the Interstate), I went to Daddy’s Night at Welcome School with Aaron. I’d gone twice with Hannah during her preschool years, so it was fun to play a bit with Aaron and make a marble painting together. Mrs. Sauerdyke also brought the kids onto the carpet to sing the Daddy Song and the Bear Hunt Song, per tradition, and then we saw a herd of deer on our way back to the car before going home.

So it’s been a quiet couple of weeks on the home front, though Vala’s, a Hayrack Ride at the Hall’s, and Halloween are right around the corner, ushering in the non-stop insanity that is the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving and Christmas), of course.