Category Archives: Wedding Anniversary

Lucky Year 13

Vivian and celebrated 13 years of marriage on Monday with an anniversary not quite as elaborate as ones in years past, but certain just as memorable. It was actually the first legit date we’d had since our “first date anniversary” back in December.


I’ve lost around 75 pounds since January, so I decided to grab a few new clothes over my lunch break before our fancy date night together. Then we spent the evening down at Charlie’s on the Lake (a restaurant we’d been to in 2009, 2010, and 2013) putting some of that weight right back on. We both had ribeye, and I added a lobster tail to commemorate our honeymoon in Bar Harbor. We got clam chowder as well, of course, along with a tasty gorgonzola shrimp appetizer. Neither of us were able to finish it all, and we even got a free raspberry cheesecake for our anniversary, which is sitting in the fridge now waiting for dessert tonight.

We exchanged a few presents as well. I presented Vivian with my annual Anniversary Comic, which details events throughout the last year, including events as recent as the windstorm a week ago. Vivian gave me some tasty treats as well — Wild Maine Blueberry Jam, whiskey cornichons, and sriracha almonds — along with some new swim trunks and shorts (as the ones I have now are starting to fall off).


We finished off our evening with a lovely walk around the lake, watching some adorable ducklings with their mommy and hopefully walking off some of our massive dinner together. We would have gone for ice cream or even a shopping spree at Trader Joe’s, but everything in town seemed to close at nine, so we called it an early night.

We had one last little adventure on the way home. A mom and her daughter got their Kia stuck on the Chandler offramp with one tire half-submerged in a foot-deep puddle of water on the shoulder. They couldn’t get it to back out and had called a tow-truck, but I had the bright idea of straightening the wheel and trying to push it out instead with the help of another guy who stopped. That worked almost too well, as the car sped back onto the onramp, and I went falling into the puddle myself, soaking my left leg from the knee down. It still felt good to have been able to perform a good deed for the day.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie!
Here’s to 13 years, and many, many more!

A Dozen Years


Over the weekend, Vivian and I celebrated twelve years of marriage in the lowest-key anniversary — mostly by staying at home. Aaron and I have been sharing some sniffles for a while, which made both babysitting and going out to celebrate seem impractical for the time being. Instead, Vivian made up some tasty rib-eye steaks and lobster for dinner at home, with clam chowder and scalloped potatoes on the side. It was our kids’ first experience with lobster, but we had corn dogs for them to eat instead (though we did offer them both a bite). Afterward, we went by Dairy Twist again to get some ice cream for dessert, just like we did last week. Then we took a trip back to the scenic St. Columban Retreat Center just to get a close-up look at some deer again before heading home.

Of course, no anniversary would be complete without an Anniversary Comic, so I presented Vivian and the kids with my twelfth one, highlight all the fun we’ve had in the past year since our last anniversary. We also had some gifts for our “silk anniversary.” I had a new silk nightgown for Vivian, and she had some silk ties for me (along with a car charger, chocolate-covered blueberries, and a giant “no” button).


We got to indulge in a few simple pleasures over the next day or two. On Monday, Vivian made some homemade pizza for dinner, the weather was cool enough to warrant a trip out to the deck to eat for the first time this year (but still warm enough for ice cream cookies).

Then on Tuesday, both Aaron and I had medical appointments (for a physical and a Covid test, respectively), and afterward we had burgers and shakes Hickory Hill Park over lunch. The shade was lovely for a lunch-time rendezvous, and I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted being able to watch the kids play on a regular workday.

11 years

Welcome to Hell’s Front Porch, also known as Nebraska in late July! We just finished up a beautiful weekend that ended with a cold front finally moving in to relieve us from near triple-digit temperatures, but we still found ways to have fun in the heat!


On Thursday night, we took the kids down to B&B Grill and Arcade for one last evening of hot dogs and games before they closed forever. It’s a unique place where you can get a foot-long with mac & cheese or fried pickles — drawing on the chalkboard tables while you wait. We got our fill of greasy appetizers as well and then played a handful of games, including skee-ball, a racing game, whack-a-frog, and a touch screen ticket swiping game — the last of which earned enough tickets for a few teeny tiny prizes. I also got a commemorative glass before we headed out.


The next day, Vivian and I spent a hot, steamy afternoon at Fun Plex. They’d put in a few set of “Rockin’ Rapidswater slides that we had yet to try out, which proved to me relatively calm compared to the near abusiveTyphoon Falls” (the left side of which I can never get down without being flipped over completely). We spent a little more time in the wave pool, particularly trying to get an underwater selfie with our new waterproof camera, and we also spent time on a few rides — bumper boats, bumper cars, and go-carts — having fun like kids again.

We spent most of our time in the water, though. Not having the kids meant we could even imbibe in a piña colada at the adults-only bar — which is the only way to spend time outside when it’s nearly 100 degrees


Once we’d had enough of Fun Plex, we headed on up to Dave & Buster’s for some food and games. We arrived in time for Happy Hour with some drinks and appetizers, and then I got a plate of steak and pasta, which included some lobster sauce — commemorating our honeymoon in Maine once again. After that, we made use of a Living Social deal for unlimited games, getting our fill or racing games and even some old-school Ms. Pac Man (always my favorite) before the evening was done.

Of course, no anniversary would be complete without one of my annual Anniversary Comics, celebrating in ink all the fun we’d had over the past year. I gave this year’s to Vivian once we got home — now we just have to find a place to hang it up.


It was still steamy and hot on Saturday, so we took the kids down to spend the afternoon at Louisville Lake. The water was mostly lukewarm, but it felt good to cool off and play with some of our water squirters for the afternoon. We even got ice cream sandwiches for a snack halfway through.

It was nice to get some time in at the lake before a line of thunderstorms rolled through, pushing temperatures down to the 70s. We’ll probably make our way back there at least one more time this season — hopefully before the snow starts.

The Big Ten

Vivian and I got to enjoy a couple lovely days in Kansas City to celebrate a decade of marriage together! Grammy was kind enough to handle the kids while we were gone, which made this a rare chance for us to get some kid-free time together.

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We headed on down Thursday afternoon, putting some 535 miles of wear-and-tear on a rented Kia, which I’d estimated cost less than the same on our own car.

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at IKEA, having a few of their signature meatballs as a snack before browsing the various home and kitchen items on two floors and finding quite a few things that we actually needed — and all dirt cheap. Vivian was most impressed with the children’s play area, where we play to drop the kids of the next time we visit (so we can have a meatball lunch all by ourselves).


From there, we checked into our hotel and then strolled down to the Power & Light District to have a surf-and-turf dinner at Bristol, commemorating our honeymoon on Bar Harbor ten years ago. I got to give Vivian an aluminum cheese plate and a couple souvenir packs of cards I’d been holding onto for nine and ten years. (There was also my ten-year anniversary comic ready as well, of course.)

We got some Crème brûlée for dessert and then took a quick walk around the District, checking out a free concert with the Casey Donahew band just around the corner. I’m not a country music fan, but it was fun to see such a packed house enjoying the free music. After that, we dropped by Union Station long enough to poke around a few of their exhibits and see the colored fountains across the street before heading back to the hotel.


The next day, after a greasy breakfast at Waffle House, we spent a couple hours getting wet at Schlitterbahn. A number of our friends had raved about this particular water park for years, so we’d had it on our short list of places to visit in Kansas City (even after that particularly gruesome incident in 2016).

We had a good time going down a few slides on tubes and riding through the rapids and waves on the multiple rivers around the park, but the place seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. About half of the rides were closed for various reasons — some having failed inspections and others being “short-staffed.” I doubt we’ll be going back anytime soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it closed before then. I also discovered my dad’s waterproof camera wasn’t quite as waterproof as advertised, which was another massive disappointment, but we still enjoyed ourselves (and got tickets at a discount from Groupon).


We spent that evening at the Country Club Plaza, having dinner at our favorite KC restaurant, Jack Stack. I got my usual platter of meats (beef ribs, beef brisket, and burnt ends) with a cheesy potato bake, and we shared an obligatory piece of their insanely good carrot cake for dessert.

The weather was an insanely gorgeous 70-80 degrees during our stay, making for a much more pleasant walk through the Plaza than in previous years (when it was around 100). We walked down to the Better Cheddar to splurge on some fun cheeses from their collection, as well as a bottle of balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. Phil Rosenthal had raved about it on his Netflix show, Somebody Feed Phil, and while it tasted similar was “regular” balsamic vinegar, we found it to be far smoother and a bit sweeter, much like a fine wine.

We finished off the evening watching The Incredibles II at the Cinemark before having a romantic walk along the riverfront before calling it a night.


We headed home the next day, but not before a quick trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I can’t recommend this place enough, as they have a lovely collection of work from all different eras. Vivian and I especially like the Impressionists, and I love the broad, vivid brushstrokes of Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. I also admired a pair of paintings by Rococo artist Gaspare Traversi, each of which featured one person eerily breaking the fourth wall (and staring into your soul).

The weather was still lovely outside, which made for a nice stroll through the Museums beautiful (shady) grounds to and from our car (parked a few blocks away). Then we got some lunch (and tacos) at Jack in the Box before heading home — a place Vivian had grown up with and one you can’t find in Nebraska.

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We made a brief detour through Nebraska City to pick up some apple wine and an apple pie on our way back home. Hannah and Aaron had been surprisingly good while staying with Grammy for the past couple of days, and Hannah’s room had somehow become magically clean while we were away. I’d gotten them each a mouse from IKEA as a surprise when we returned home (which Hannah named “Lisa” and “Dockendock”.)

Happy ten years, Vivian! I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store.

Anniversary on Cloud Nine

It’s been nine lucky years since Vivian and I first tied the knot, so we decided to celebrate by spending the day down the road in Lincoln getting some sun and getting stuffed (per the norm).


We started the day exploring Wilderness Park, home to the Secret Bridges and also the “Devil’s Gate,” which I only recently learned about online. The whole area had been a kind of retreat for Methodists around the turn of the century but had since been turned over to the city as one large, meandering park. After some quick lunch at D’Leon’s, we checked out the Gate and then tried finding our way back to the Secret Bridges, but it had since become nearly unrecognizable, overgrown with trees and foliage and a new barricade that made it much harder to traverse. (A stopped train didn’t make it any easier, either.) We only got as far as the first bridge for a selfie before giving up.

We spent the rest of the afternoon down at Star City Shores, a water park built back in 1996 that I wasn’t really even aware of until now. They had a few water slides, and a giant, water-dumping bucket that kept us cool as temperatures climbed into the upper 90s (with enough humidity to push the heat index well above 100).


Then that evening, we had dinner at the Rodizio Grill in the Haymarket. It’s a “Brazilian Steakhouse” that specialized in serving you an endless parade of meat carved tableside — ham, sirloin, chicken, ribs, and a dozen other options all cooked via rotisserie and served until you tell them to stop. If that weren’t enough, they had a salad bar that included such items as seviche and four-cheese mac and cheese (with bacon) that could have easily served as a meal in itself. Throw in a series of endless sizes (which included fried polenta fries) and we were pretty much stuffed from the word “go.”

Vivian and I had anniversary gifts for each other as well. I got Vivian a hand-thrown cheese plate and a voucher for a paint-your-own pottery place in La Vista. Her gift for me was an amazing make-your-own Scotch kit, complete with barrel. That’s going to be fun to try out!

Of course, I also had my ninth Anniversary Comic, featuring all the fun we’ve had with our friends, family, and each other over the past year. Thanks for making so many memories with me, sweetie! I can’t wait for Year Ten.

Bed, Breakfast, and Branched Oak Lake

Vivian and I just finished celebrating eight years of marriage with a quick, midweek trip to the countryside to get some peace and quiet away from the city for a day or so. This year was a bit special in that I didn’t tell Vivian anything about what I had planned and let the whole thing be a surprise.


We kicked things off on Tuesday with dinner at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in West Omaha, having steak and lobster (and cheesecake) in honor of our honeymoon in Bar Harbor, Maine. I presented Vivian with my annual Anniversary Comic, which included memories from the year including us meeting presidential candidates, going camping, and our dearly departed Flappy (among other things). Vivian had a special, and fairly unorthodox gift for me — a Nest smart thermostat I’d been wanting for some time! Now I’ll just have to find a nice day to turn off the air conditioning long enough to install it.

We headed on west to Pine Crest Farms, a cozy little Bed and Breakfast outside of Valparaiso hidden among the trees, wildflowers, and crickets. The empty-nested proprietors (Harriet and Jack and brother-in-law Don) and turned their shady home into a B&B twenty years ago. Vivian and I were their only guests for the night, so we got such amenities as the pool all to ourselves. They even had a lovely gift platter for our anniversary, which included a bottle of sparkling cider from Colonial Williamsburg. It was so good we may have to order a case of it for Thanksgiving.


Being a Bed & Breakfast means, of course, that we also got to have breakfast the next day. Harriet made us some lovely quiche with sausage and fruit to start the day. Afterward, Vivian and I took a few dirt roads down to Branched Oak Lake for a swim, which was lovely since the temperatures were now well into the 90s. We found the giant lake to be a lovely spot for a possible future camping trip, and conveniently close to wineries such as James Arthur Vineyards.

We were in absolutely no rush, but we eventually made our way down to Wahoo (the home office of the Late Show) once we got done swimming to have a quick Mexican dinner at Acapulco after finding the perpetually-closed Wig Wam Cafe to be closed once again. After dinner, we did a bit of shopping at a warehouse surplus store around the corner, which had some great deals in their freezer section on deep-discounted guacamole, and pot stickers. We loaded up on frozen food and a few extra gifts for the kids before heading home.

It was a lovely day trip in the country, and aside from the occasional tractor making it difficult to get to where we were going, we had a lovely time. Hopefully we can do it again soon, since I missed out on Wahoo’s Famous Wieners. Maybe next time.

Scratching the Seven-Year Itch

Has it really been seven years already? It seems like just yesterday Vivian and I were saying our vows down at Twin Valley Church together with all our friends and family in attendance. Since our anniversary fell on a Sunday this year, it seemed appropriate to stop back at the little church where it all began for a brief blessing by Pastor Drew before starting our fun day together.


We kicked things off with a breakfast of ricotta pancakes down at Amato’s, and then we drove up to Fremont to check out the Splash Station we’d seen driving by every time we went camping at Fremont Lakes. It was a modest little water park with a couple slides, a wave pool, and plenty of things for kids — ideal for a return trip with Hannah and Aaron if we ever go camping in Fremont again (and I expect we will).

We got some ice cream down at Zesto’s and then decided to drop by the Fremont Lakes just for the heck of it. We got to splash around in some decidedly non-chlorinated water, and I got the surprise of being nibbled on multiple times by something swimming in the water with us.


We headed on back to Omaha for dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack that evening, sharing a lobster steam pot for two and a dish of seafood appetizers. We also exchanged our appropriately-themed anniversary gifts. Vivian gave me a new coffee mug with copper print on it and a pair of wool gloves with removable fingertips (for using my smart phone). I gave Vivian a small copper rose and — of course — the latest in my series of Anniversary Comics. Every year, I find ways to fit more and more images into a single piece of paper, thoroughly covering all the fun things we (and our kids) got to do during our seventh year of matrimony.


We got to have a bit more fun even after our anniversary. On Monday, Hannah and Aaron got to come to Stinson Park for a picnic lunch, cupcakes from Jones Bros., and some quality time splashing about in the fountains. I brought a change of clothes again so I could get wet with them before returning to work.

Then on Wednesday, my folks treated us to a dinner of rib-eye steaks and spumoni at Cascio’s. It’s one of several “Italian” steakhouses in Omaha, and very similar to the experience we had at Mister C’s, Venice Inn, Piccolo’s, and Johnny’s Cafe (and certainly worth the visit).

Happy Anniversary, sweetie! I can’t wait to see what our eighth year together has in store for us.

Anniversary in Lincoln


It’s been a relatively quiet couple of weeks for the Johnson Family. Our little boy Aaron turned one month old and seemed to be growing up so fast. Uncle Jonny came down for a brief visit, and Vivian got a snapshot of three generations of Johnson men to mark the occasion. We also had a lovely visit from the Polar Vortex, which sent the temperatures in Omaha down to a lovely 70 degrees for an entire week, giving us the chance to visit the park with Hannah multiple times before it left.


This last weekend was also our sixth wedding Anniversary, so Vivian and I decided to celebrate with a trip to Lincoln (with the kids — thanks Grandma and Grandpa!) I’d lived in Lincoln for six years but never really got out and saw much of the attractions around town while I was there. Our first trip was to the state capitol, where we rode to the top for some picturesque views and a few obligatory selfies underneath the dome. The Senate wasn’t in session, but we were able to pick out pictures of our State Senator from the gallery down below. (I also tried making off with some marble tile from the courtyard as a souvenir but decided against it.)


We had a brief lunch at my favorite pizza joint, Big Sal’s on 27th Street, and then headed on to the UNL State Museum at Morrill Hall. One of my Comic Genesis friends told me months ago that the Titanoboa was paying the museum a visit, so I made sure to get plenty of photos of myself with that horrifying model snake. There were also plenty of old bones and glowing rocks to check out, and we even dropped into the Planetarium to see a show on the Google Lunar XPRIZE (narrated by Tim “to Infinity and Beyond” Allen).


After our visit, we dropped by the Sunken Gardens to check out the many flowers in bloom before heading back to Omaha, where we had dinner reservations waiting for us at the 801 Chophouse. We’d had steak there plenty of times before, but this time around we split a lobster in honor of our honeymoon in Maine (which is an anniversary tradition now). Throw in some souffle for dessert, and we were stuffed for the night (not counting Vivian’s special truffles when we got home).

We also exchanged our anniversary gifts. Year Six is the iron anniversary, so I gave Vivian a heart-shaped cake pan, and she gave me a lovely graffiti cocktail shaker .I had also done up a new anniversary comic to celebrate our sixth year — a tradition since our paper anniversary. Every year, I get to remind myself of all the fun things we’ve gotten to do throughout the year and all the milestones that have come and gone. I love you, Vivian! I can’t wait to see what Year Seven has in store for us.

Bonus: Hannah plays “baseball” with a flyswatter as the Blue Angels fly over our backyard.

Five year anniversary


Vivian and I celebrated a matrimonial milestone last week — five years of marriage! We got Grammy and Papa to stay with our girl for the day so we could take a brief trip up to Ashland to see some of the sights close to home, right between Lincoln and Omaha. Our first stop was to the drive-thru “safari” right off exit 426. We’d been meaning to drop by for a visit for the longest time and finally made time to see some elk, pelicans, whitetail deer, and some American bison up close and personal, all from the comfort of our Honda Civic. We got to get a look at a few bald eagles, as well as check out some of the interesting plant life that the bison much enjoy eating at the north end of the park.


We headed across the Interstate to Mahoney State Park after we’d had our fill of flora and fauna and had some lunch at Kiewit Lodge. We spent a few hours at the water park next door after that, getting into a tousle with a fairly violent wave pool and seeing how high we could get a couple fountains to spray by stepping on their other spouts. We also took a few trips down the water slides when the lines for them weren’t unbearably long. We put on sunblock, of course, but we still managed to get burned before the end of the day, probably because we weren’t reapplying the allegedly waterproof sunblock every 80 minutes.


We worked up a sufficiently good appetite by the time we were done frolicking and headed back to Omaha for some dinner. We dropped by Charlie’s on the Lake and picked out a couple genuine live lobsters from their tank, and then proceeded to try to tear them apart without making too much of an embarrassing mess. (The kind staff offered to help us, of course, but we were too darn adventurous.) We also exchanged some appropriate gifts. Vivian gave me a lovely office organizer set, as well as a combination corkscrew, bottle opener, pocket knife key chain (a very manly item, indeed). I gave her a wooden shadowbox frame of our wedding vows, which also plays Unchained Melody, as well as my traditional cartoon summary of our year together.

We took a brief walk around The Lake before heading home, where our girl was already fast asleep. I had one more surprise before calling it a night: the video you see below! It’s been another amazing year with my lovely soul mate, and I have to admit that every year just keeps on getting better! I love you, Vivian.

Five-year anniversary video

Four Years and a Fruit Bouquet

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On Thursday last week, I celebrated four wonderful years of marriage with my lovely wife, Vivian! We stayed in Omaha this time around, but I took the afternoon off work and Vivian recruited her mom and dad as babysitters so we could spend the afternoon at Fun Plex together. Vivian did manage to surprise me with a lovely fruit bouquet, which arrived in the morning at the office. I enjoyed showing off the arrangement of carved pineapples and chocolate-covered strawberries and apples to all my co-workers before leaving for the day.

It’s been excruciatingly hot and dry here in the pit of Death Valley, Nebraska, which is typical for July, so spending the day at a water park sounded as good as it did last year and the year before. Fun Plex was having a special where we could visit both the water park and the rides at the large amusement complex for the same price. That meant in addition to lounging in the lazy river, the wave pool, and shooting down a couple water slides, we also got to play on some bumper boats, putter around in race cars, and fly around in the roller coaster (which I did twice, since there was no line).

After a long, fun afternoon, we headed over to Red Lobster for a gigantic dinner together. We also exchanged gifts. Vivian got me some lovely linens, and I got her a couple books. I also presented her with my traditional gift of a cartoon illustration featuring highlights of our fourth years of marriage together.

After dinner, we dropped by the Rave Theater to see Pixar’s Brave, which was all right. We got done just as the kids were wandering in to see the midnight showing of the third Batman movie, and I almost wished we’d stayed to see that. Unfortunately, I had to work in the morning.

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That weekend we celebrated Donna’s birthday at our house. Vivian made some delicious quiche and fruit salad, which we ate at our house for brunch before opening presents.

That evening, our friends Phil and Jen were hosting another “Ingredient Party.” I decided not to be as “offal” as I was last time and simply brought some ground turkey, coleslaw, and bread. They managed to turn it into a tasty pad thai stir fry, beet coleslaw, and bread pudding with the help of our mutual friends Lisa, Kristen, her boyfriend, and Phil’s sister. We ate and spent the evening laughing at Monty Python, Spaceballs, and Top Secret. It was as fun as Skeet Surfin, but time seemed to pass with ludicrous speed, and we had to head home to get Hannah in bed at a semi-reasonable hour. She did seem to enjoy watching Monty Python when she wasn’t banging around with her rings, but she needed her beauty sleep before her eight-month photo shoot, which we had the next day in our front yard.