Category Archives: Bike

Mulberries, VBS, and Aaron’s Birthday

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Summer is here, and that means the mulberries are in full bloom. I took the kids for a walk down 25th Street just to pick up a couple, where several trees seem to be littering their wares all over the sidewalk. Vivian also finally broke out the pool on Wednesday so the kids could cool down a bit, as the temperatures push into the 90s and beyond.

That still hasn’t stopped me from having a few beautiful morning walks, whether to Chick-Fil-A or an old country road just to watch the sunrise. I’ve also been using my bike nearly every day, pedaling by Arby’s for a free lunch (using four-year old coupons that apparently don’t expire) or up to Memorial Park just to stop and smell the roses. I’ve got to keep it up if I want to burn off things like the cheesesteak Runzas I somehow convinced Vivian to make (from a “recipe” consisting entirely of blurry photos on Facebook).

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Hannah’s been attending First City Church’s VBS (“Concrete and Cranes”) down in La Platte. It was held in the old high school next to a few even older buildings, relics from a time when La Platte was a legit town generations ago. A bunch of kids from our area, including the Mills, have been attending the VBS week, and the kids all put on a little performance for the grown-ups on Friday morning, who were invited as a surprise. I had the day off, so I got to go as well, and they even gave us a sack lunch afterward. We were supposed to have a picnic, but a thundershower happened to be rolling through Omaha at the moment and put an end to that.

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Aaron’s birthday was also on Friday, so we picked him up early from a half-day at summer school, where he got a paper crown to celebrate the day. We dropped by Schwer Park to check out their splash pad as a possible spot for Aaron’s party the next day, and we wound up staying for an hour or two. Because of the rain and the weekday, we had the entire place to ourselves, so Hannah and Aaron (and even Daddy) got to run around and get thoroughly soaked — even though we hadn’t brought our swimsuit!

It turned out to be a lovely little park, with a pretty lake and a small, sandy playground in addition to the splash pad. Most important, though, it had those “buckets” that Aaron loves to get dunked underneath, so it seemed like a no-brained destination for a party.

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We celebrated Aaron’s birthday that evening with visits from all four grandparents. Grammy and Pop-Pop came by with some presents, which included some Mario stickers for Aaron to decorate his room. We had some burritos for dinner (at Aaron’s request) and then had him blow out candles on a pair of brownies Donna brought by for a “cake.”

After dinner, we dropped by my parents’ place to continue celebrating. They got Aaron some paper and dice to make his own board games, Uncle Jonny gave him a Mega Man board game, and Uncle Nathan gave him a Dr. Wily action figure. Mommy and I also had a few presents, including a pair of dart guns and a plush “Magolor” from Aaron’s current video game. After the presents, Aaron got to play Mario Maker with Uncle Jonny for an hour, dictating a level design with him — something he’s wanted to do pretty much every time we’ve visited for the last year or two.

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The next day, we returned to Schwer Park for the afternoon, where Aaron got to have several hours to run around getting wet with a bunch of his friends. We got there early enough to claim a few tables for ourselves, and Aaron wore himself out running from one end of the park to the other, chasing after his little friends and then getting dunked repeatedly with the “buckets” at the end of the afternoon (and even Mommy and I wound up joining in).

Hannah picked a few mulberries with Sammy to tide her over until Grammy before the cake. She made a giant camping cake, which was all chocolate except for the tent, which was blueberry. It featured a little fondant Aaron fighting a “tree boss” and a “rock boss” with several other people and a gelatin lake. A few nesting birds kept us company in the pavilion before we left for the evening. We got some burgers at McDonald’s on the way home, and Aaron crashed pretty much immediately afterward.

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We managed to make it back to church bright and early the next morning. They had some waffles for the Wildewood parents in the multi-purpose, so we got to visit with a few oft he grown-ups as Hannah and Aaron got properly sugared up before we headed home.

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Happy birthday, Aaron!

Happy Trails, Camping, the Zoo, and Pie

Summer’s finally here, and that nmeans finding new ways to enjoy the great outdoors while tryinhg to stay cool at the same time.

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I had a fun time getting to know Omaha’s bike trails a bit better this week. I took a ride up the South Omaha Trail by the abandoned grain silos, which travelers can see clearly near the 480 interchange on I-80. I took a trip by Trader Joe’s the next day, and then I rode up to Esther Pilster Park for a lovely picnic lunch (and a nap) under some tall trees the following day.

It’s been fun being able to explore some of the hidden trails and parks in Omaha that you can’t exactly see from the main roads. I also seem to have gotten bit of a farmer’s tan, with a nice white outline of my Fitbit, in the process.

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Over the weekend, Vivian and Hannah went camping together with the American Heritage Girls down at Lake Manawa. Hannah learned how to sharpen a knife and whittle soap, tie some knots, paint some rocks, play UNO with some friends, and practice hitting a volleyball.

She also got to find a “gooey” frog or two, something she’s always enjoyed doing while camping, and she also got to have pizza baked in a cast-iron Dutch oven for dinner (along with s’mores, of course).

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Aaron and I got to have some “guy time” in the meantime. On Saturday morning, we visited grandpa to help clean up some of the things he’d used to smoke the brisket we had on Monday. Then I helped to get the water turned back on for their lawn sprinklers, which Aaron immediately used to cool off while outside. He wanted to play some video games, and he eve found Uncle Jonny’s giant collection of old NES titles, but we were able to get him to draw out what he’d like to build in Mario Maker sometime on paper instead.

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Then that evening, I grilled some burgers and fries for dinner (with avocado) and then took Aaron for an evening at the Omaha Zoo. We went to see the new Sea Lion exhibit first, which had some lovely viewing windows underground where we could see them swimming about. We got a bit sidetracked by the mazelike “Children’s Adventure Trails” on our way to the aquarium, and Aaron had some fun there climbing, sliding, wading, and hanging in a chrysalis as a few monkeys climbed overhead and prairie dogs ran about. Then we finished our visit seeing some puffins, penguins, jellyfish, and other sea life in the Scott Aquarium before things began to close down. Of course, no trip to the zoo would be complete without a visit to the wet, spinning globe or the lion statues, where Aaron got a few obligatory photos before we headed home.

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Vivian and Hannah returned home the next day. I took the kids by Grammy’s house to have some lunch as I trimmed some hedges. Then that evening, I went by Wildewood for Praise and Pie Night. We had about an hour of worship songs with a performance by the South Sudanese church singing Amazing Grace in one of their native languages (and garb). It felt like a spiritually cleansing time for myself, with the weight of trouble and turmoil in the world being ripped away in the light of God’s presence there in the sanctuary.

We had a bunch of pie afterward, and I got some peach and cherry for Vivian and the kids, along with some all-American apple pie for myself (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course).

Tender Heart, Super Thinker

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Another school year is winding down, which means a few end-of-year events with the kids. Aaron had a “virtual” concert at his elementary school, which I was able to tune into online. Naturally, it wasn’t the same as seeing it in person, but it was nice to be able to attend right from my office at work (and I even snapped a few pictures).

Aaron also won an award for being a “Super Thinker,” a rainbow slinky (which I hope lasts longer than ten seconds), and a tiny Octopus Sprinkler, which I set up for him and Hannah to use in the driveway to get a little wet on a warm evening. He also got to pick a book to bring home and naturally chose the most gigantic picture book I’d ever seen. (I suppose bigger is better?) Then the next morning, Aaron helped decorate a card to give to his teachers on his last day of Kindergarten.

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Hannah also had an end-of-year event with the American Heritage Girls. She’s only been attending for a month or two (and doesn’t even have a uniform yet), but she won a few patches as a “Tenderheart” and got to receive them at a little ceremony on Wednesday night.

Then with both of the kids out of school, we had a fun little year-end lunch at the park. I got some sushi from Ponzu around the corner, some of which I shared with Hannah. Then we let the kids play on the playground for a bit before a cold front started blowing in that afternoon.

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In other news, the rain let up just long enough for us to enjoy the outdoors a bit. I rode my bike for the first time this year, pushing through some gusts of wind for a decent ride (and workout) along the Keystone Trail. I’ve also been enjoying some regular walks during the day, stretching my legs with a walk down to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, just for the heck of it.

We also had another lovely dinner on the deck at Vivian’s parents’ house. Jack and Vivian made smoked some ribs and chicken, and then we Aaron had some fun in the sprinkler and Hannah played with a lawn ornament or two before we headed home.

Next up: Memorial Day weekend!

Biking, Testing, & Park Reopening

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I’ve been doing a few things over the past week to try to stay healthy as the pandemic seems like it might be winding down. First off, I got my bike fixed up to ride to and from work on the Keystone Trail. Since the Kroc Center is closed for the time being, it’s the best way I can think of to get some exercise for the time being — and save on gas (all $1.50/gallon of it). Mostly, it’s nice just to get some fresh for a while each day. The weather’s been absolutely gorgeous — 60s and 70s with barely any wind.

I also got myself tested for Covid-19 — not because I had any symptoms, but because back in February I had “the worst cold of my life” with very similar symptoms. I went to the drive-thru clinic at 84th and Center (courtesy of Pivot Concierge Health), and they had me in and out (with just a finger prick) in just a few minutes, and I got my results back a few minutes later — NEGATIVE. Unfortunately, they couldn’t tell me whether I’d had it back in February, but for the time being, I’m in the clear. It was also free.

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In other news, Omaha decided to open up its public parks a little early, so we spent a little time on Saturday enjoying some of the blossoms down at Memorial Park. We went by Five Guys first to get some messy burgers and fries for a picnic, and then we let the kids have some extra time to run around and climb a tree. Some passing thunderstorms kept us from staying for long, but I’m glad we got the chance to see some of the blossoms before they disappear. (And Aaron enjoyed feeling the rain on the way home.)

The kids have been finding other ways to have fun at home. Hannah earned enough money to replace her digital camera, which she’s been using again to shoot videos and take pictures again. She also build some kind of “hideout” in the backyard under our evergreen trees, something she was very proud to show to me on Sunday.

Bikes, Ben’s Birthday, and Bocce Ball

Biking through the Drive-Thru Chicago Dawg

Vivian and I had a lovely Memorial Day weekend enjoying some of the great outdoors and putting some finishing touches on the bathroom before our Comic Genesis cookout this week. We were able to spend some quality time last week as well — we took another bike ride together, and then we biked through the drive-thru at Culver’s to get some ice cream afterward. On Friday, we went out for drinks after work and then stopped by the Chicago Dawg House up on 108th and Maple for some loaded hot dogs before starting our weekend.

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On Saturday, I spent the afternoon putting a few finishing touched on the Epic Bathroom Project, and managed to learn just how sticky and impossible to remove white silicone caulk can be. That evening, Vivian and I dropped by Jon Paper’s house to attend Ben Anderson’s birthday barbecue with some of our mutual friends. Ben blew out a birthday propane torch, and we enjoyed some strawberry cake together. Later on we got to browse some of the scooters Ben’s selling out of his basement, and then we played a game called Wits & Wagers together in the living room until midnight.

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On Memorial Day, Vivian and I started cleaning house for our forthcoming Comic Genesis Cookout Weekend. At the end of the day, we dropped by Lee and Chelsea’s house to have a barbecue together and play Bocce Ball for the first time. It was a very simple game, though bumps in the lawn made it nearly impossible to make any ball roll straight. It would be interested to see how that game would play out on our own back lawn, which is more or less one big slope.

Coming up next: The Comic Genesis Cookout: 2010!