Monthly Archives: November 2018

Thanksgiving Birthday and the Longest Christmas Season Begins

It’s been a busy, crazy couple of weeks preparing for both a birthday for Hannah, Thanksgiving with the family, and a handful of celebrations to kick off a long Christmas season.


The fun started last weekend as Hannah had a kitty cat themed birthday party with a handful of her little friends at our house. Grammy made a Zoey birthday cake, which was both adorable and frightening, particularly when Vivian decapitated it to give Hannah the first piece. Lily (and Jonah), Nicholette, and Sammy came over to share in the cake and make paper cut-out cats with Hannah. Hannah also got a bunch of presents, which included Play-Dough and a sequined toy that was particularly fun for Hannah to “draw” on.


Thanksgiving the following week landed right on Hannah’s birthday, so we had to juggle both roasting a turkey for our Thanksgiving Dinner and hosting a family birthday party with Hannah. Grammy brought a new, “little Zoey” cake for Hannah, and she got to open some more presents in the morning, which included a Knuffle Bunny and her long-expected “Hannah Doll” (an American Girl actually named Willa).

All four grandparents dropped by, along with both Uncle Jonny and Nathan. Grandma read the kids a story as Jack and Vivian got Thanksgiving Dinner ready. Then around one, we sat down for turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, Taber salad, and also pie for dessert. Hannah also got to eat her cake, of course, blowing out the candles before going “head first” into a new sugar rush.


That evening, we took the kids downtown to see the Gene Leahy Mall lit up in Christmas splendor for the last time before its multi-year demolition. It had warmed up to a lovely 50 degrees, but there was still enough ice left on the waterfront for some geese to walk on (“Just like Jesus,” said Hannah). We got a glimpse of Christmas Island and saw a man playing Christmas songs on a legit hurdy-gurdy near 12th and Farnam. Aaron (and mommy) tried out the slides before we headed up to 14th Street for the lights to turn on.

Some young kids sang some Christmas songs on a bandstand in front of the library before the emcee from 104.5 rattled off an endless list of sponsors. Then Mayor Jean took the stage to lead the countdown for the mall to light up. It was bittersweet to see the beautiful lights with the kids for the first — and last — time together. We stuck around just long enough to get a photo in front of them before hurrying on home to bed.


On Black Friday, I had an early-morning breakfast at the 11-Worth Cafe with Uncle Jonny and my folks, starting the day with hash browns and sausage biscuits smothered with sausage gravy (AKA the “General Lee.”) Afterward, Vivian and I did just a bit of Black Friday shopping, specifically enough to confirm everything advertised had been sold out on Thursday.

Around four, we dropped by the Durham Museum to have Christmas at Union Station. The kids got to meet Santa and decorate cookies with Grammy and the River City Confectioners Association. They had some reindeer crafts, but we spent most of our time on a reindeer scavenger hunt downstairs, finding nine cut-out reindeer in order to claim a light-up glow stick upstairs as a prize. There were some toy trains (and a piano) that Aaron enjoyed playing with, and Hannah got to run through the various train exhibits and vintage passenger cars on display. We also saw the model of the 1898 World’s Fair in Omaha, a building of which one other girl said looked like “Donald Trump’s House.”

Later on upstairs, we got front-row seats for the tree-lighting, as the only spot to sit was right in front of the stage. Michael Lyon was back to sing some Christmas songs (after a recent bout with throat cancer of all things) before Mayor Jean and a handful of VIPs took the stage to lead the countdown. I let Hannah handle the video this year as I snapped some photos, and then we managed to join everyone else in the crowd in getting a selfie in front of the tree and playing in the paper snowflakes to kick off the Christmas season.


We had some lovely weather on Saturday, which I spent putting up our Christmas decorations and taking the kids on one last wagon ride to my parents’ house for a visit. Our neighbor Betty also gave us some kolaches, and Vivian planted our tulip bulbs while we still had one last warm day before winter.

On Sunday, we got a dusting of snow that mostly just left the streets wet and slushy (before they turned to ice). It was fun to hear Aaron exclaim with a gasp, “It’s Christmas!” as he looked out the window. We were still able to go to church and then drop by Sam’s Club afterward for cheese and ice melt (among other things). We spent the rest of the day indoors catching up before our four-day weekend came to a close.

One interesting thing I learned this week was that when Hannah’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving, what follows is the longest Christmas Season possible on the calendar — 33 full days. I’m glad we were able to start them off right!

Happy birthday, Hannah — and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Election Night 2018


So there was an election on Tuesday, and I got a front-row seat on Election Night, rubbing elbows (literally — the place was crowded) with a few candidates and hundreds of other people crammed into the Omaha Marriott. Everyone I voted for on my ballot pulled out a win, including Pete Ricketts, who got a second term as Governor. Practically the entire Ricketts clan was there, and I got to meet lots of them including Pete’s mom and dad and his sister Laura throughout the night. I also went “backstage” with the family of Theresa Thibodeau, who tensely watched the election returns for her bid for State Senate (which she sadly lost). I spent a good deal of time chatting with Thibodeau’s mom, who worked at the Pope Paul VI Institute some 30 years ago.

I had hoped to stick around to see Don Bacon win re-election, but it was still too close to call by 10 PM, so I called it a night. I talk a lot about politics on this blog, particularly how I enjoy meeting so many of the people I get to vote for, but things seemed to be more personal after this night. Personal attacks in campaign ads suddenly hit a lot closer to home when you hear about them from a candidate’s mom. I also got to see Pete Ricketts give his dad a hug after his victory speech. It’s so easy to see candidates and politicians as just their party labels and not as human beings, especially in our detached age of social media sniping.


In other news, winter came through in an arctic blast last week (and a new banner from Grammy). We also changed our clocks, and now Aaron’s been getting up before 5 AM every single day. That’s been a nice change, actually, since I’m now getting in a morning workout with still an hour or two left over for coffee and breakfast with Vivian and the kids before work. Of course, I also have to get to bed that much earlier, but “Early to bed and early to rise,” as the inventor of Daylight Saving Time once said.

Next stop: Hannah turns seven!

Halloween and the Home Stretch


It’s been a busy week back at work, juggling Halloween in-between and trying to enjoy a lovely, sunny week of fall. On Wednesday night we went trick-or-treating with the kids — and Uncle Jonny — in my parents’ neighborhood one street over. Both kids got a fairly good haul of candy, and Aaron’s bag was dragging along the ground as he excitedly went from door to door all the way around the block as the sun went down.

My parents had a busy night as well, with over a hundred trick-or-treaters at their own house (many of whom drove in from other neighborhoods). By comparison, our house only had around twenty for the whole night, which left us with quite the stockpile of candy afterward (and Johnny Marzetti).


We also have some mid-term elections coming up, which seem to be a bigger deal than usual for some reason. As such, there was a “fly-in” rally featuring Mayor Stothert, Congressmen Bacon and Fortenberry, Gov. Ricketts, and our ever-elusive Senator Ben Sasse. We had about a hundred our folks show up for the event (along with a few familiar faces), and all five politicians got to say a few words before breaking for lunch. Sen. Sasse hurried out almost immediately, but I was able to catch him for a moment and learn he was planning to be a guest on the Steven Crowder program in the near future. He’d also been invited to the Ben Shapiro Sunday Special but likely wouldn’t make it soon because of a “rule” that he’d have to fly to L.A. to be filmed on-set for the show.

Election Day is tomorrow, so I’m hoping the political noise will wind down a bit before the 2020 Presidential Campaign starts up, but I have a feeling that won’t be happening. In the meantime. I have an extra hour of morning to enjoy as Daylight Saving Time comes to and end (which I spent down at the Kroc Center).