Category Archives: Aaron’s Birthday

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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Happy birthday, Aaron!

Aaron turns six

Well, summer is well underway, with lawn mowing, gratuitous road destruction, frozen bananas, and of course Aaron’s birthday.

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With temperatures in the 90s pretty much every single day (with barely a drop of rain), we’ve been trying to keep cool in all the standard ways. We broke out the wading pool, which Hannah had been using as a makeshift tree house, and filled it up with a garden house as I got the sprinklers going. We also dropped by the Papillion Dairy Queen to make use of a Groupon Hannah got in exchange for watching the Mills guinea pig.


Then on the following Thursday, we celebrated Aaron’s sixth birthday. I took the entire day off from work, giving me the chance to help Grammy pick up a pop-up tent for a potential summer camping trip and to snap some pictures when she brought over Aaron’s cake along with a couple of presents.

Then that afternoon, we had a party for Aaron’s with a bunch of his little friends down at Eagle Ridge Park. We had been hoping the neighboring splash pad would be turned on, but it wasn’t — the only water we had came in the form of a large, stagnant puddle (which the girls waded in anyway). Aaron still had fun just running around with his little friends at the park, however. We had some of Donna’s cake halfway through, which was decorated with some characters from Aaron’s favorite video game. We opened presents afterward, which included a bunch of Mario Kart toys that Aaron and his crew immediately began racing with. Hannah and Sammy dug a tunnel in the sand in the meantime, and we finished off the day getting pictures of everyone inside of a comic book picture frame.

Then that evening, Aaron got to have his favorite dinner, chicken wings and french fries, before opening a few more presents. One of these was a plush King Dedede, which happened to be Aaron’s favorite video game character of the moment.


The next day, Hannah and Aaron discovered the Legos that were in some of the extra gift bags we had from the party, immediately building a number of tiny structures with them (and asking me to photograph).

Then that evening I walked Hannah and Aaron over to Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s house for a post-birthday dinner with them and Uncle Jonny. The kids got to spend some quality time playing with grandpa’s old blocks, and then my folks treated us all to a feast courtesy of Sonic, followed up a cookie cake. Afterward, Aaron got to open his presents (wrapped with in dancing monkeys wrapping paper he almost didn’t want to tear) — a pair of books of mazes, which quickly became his new favorite books. We finished off the evening watching a bit of Quarantine Tonight, which is some kind of variety show filmed out of Norfolk on channel 27-2.


In the meantime, our basement was undergoing some demolition work. We’d found a leak coming out of our basement floor under the toilet when I ran the dishwasher upstairs, which a plumber told us came from a broken pipe underneath the cement. He spent a good portion of Friday evening while I was at my parents’ house with the kids tearing up a couple square feet in our basement. After this, he replaced a giant section of cast-iron drain pipes with new three-inch PVC, covering it all back up with cement afterward.

It’s been a bit of a harrowing mess, but we now have water flowing out better than ever before — and a functioning toilet once again! I’m mostly thankful not much more damage had been caused by the leak in the meantime.

Gaffigan, a governor, and Aaron turns five

We’ve had a busy, busy week here in Omaha mixing work and fun and family all together — with a little bit of gorgeous weather along with it.


First up was Unite, a huge event held by the Archdiocese of Omaha. The Pope Paul VI Institute, where I work, was one of about a dozen organizations invited to showcase their work to several thousand Catholics who came to participate at the Qwest/CenturyLink/CHI Center in worship, mass, and fun. Our booth was the result of six months of planning, with graphics and banners and eight keynote speakers at our corner of the concourse. I was on hand to take loads of pictures for several hours, so I definitely got my “steps” for the day.

As a reward, Vivian and I got to see a performance by Jim Gaffigan in the afternoon. We’d seen several of Gaffigan’s routines on Netflix previously and were well versed in his food-related humor (specifically Hotpockets). I was also aware he was a Catholic, which was likely part of the reason he was recruited as the “draw” for this event. His set included a few jokes specific to Omaha, including comments on the Runza (and how its name tells you what it gives you). We got seats fairly close tot he front, and I was even able to smuggle in my camera to get a few halfway-decent snapshots for the blog.


Then on Sunday after church we had a birthday party for Aaron with some friends at Elmwood Park. The weather went from mid-90s to 70 literally overnight, so the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for playing on swings, slides, and sand toys during the afternoon, getting a little exercise before getting sugared up.

A bunch of Aaron’s little friends were able to join us, as were mom and dad and Uncles Nathan and Jonny. Donna and Vivian had prepared a birthday cake decorated with characters from “True,” Aaron’s current favorite show on Netflix, which we cut into around 3:30 (and even lit candles on for a few seconds). Then Aaron got to open a few presents before calling it a day.


In the meantime, Wildewood Church is having a week-long VBS with the theme “In the Wild.” Because of Aaron’s birthday (and sheer exhaustion) we weren’t able to attend the opening night. We were able to drop in on Monday, which was a lot of fun. They had some outdoor activities and crafts that parents and kids were invited to participate in, as well as crafts and songs with crazy hand motions that felt more like 80s-style aerobics. They also had a bible story and a snack sandwiched in the middle. I wasn’t entirely sure if we’d have the energy to participate with all the other stuff going on this week, but the kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and Vivian and I wound up crawling on the ground on all fours along with them.

This was actually the first VBS I’d actually attended since I was a kid, and I was amazed at the amount of work and energy the volunteers must have put in to pull it off.


Then on Tuesday I got to meet Steve Bullock, Democrat Presidential Candidate and Governor of Montana, over my lunch break. His meet-and-greet was held at Barley’s in Council Bluffs, of course, which has become the go-to place for Presidential candidates for reasons I can’t quite understand. He spoke briefly with reporters (and Tom Becka) outside on the sidewalk before speaking to a crowd of a couple dozen inside afterward. He hit a bunch of fairly standard Democrat talking points, such as climate change and “women’s health” (AKA abortion), and he emphasized his work as a lawyer with the IBEW union.

The crowd was largely friendly, and I shook his hand afterward telling him that I hoped whoever becomes President in 2020 can help heal the divide in our country.


Then that evening we celebrated Aaron’s actual birthday with pizza and presents with the family. I got three large pizzas from Papa Murphy’s for dinner, partly to ensure leftovers for a couple days, and we ate with Pop-Pop, Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle Jonny. Then Aaron got to open a few more presents, which included a glowing dinosaur nightlight from Uncle Jonny, a soccer ball from grandma, a cornhole game from Grammy, a marble chute construction set, a singing Baby Shark from Hannah, and a periscope from Grandpa (which Hannah immediately seemed to take possession of).

We also had a second cake, this one being decorated inexplicably with Hannah being eaten by an alligator while Aaron looks on with a shark (I still don’t get it).

We’ll have more fun forthcoming this week, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to catch my breath soon. Maybe for Father’s Day.

The big Oh-Four

Summer’s finally here, and our little boy Aaron turned four years old on Monday! More on that in a moment.


On Friday, Vivian and I decided to kick off the summer with a little mid-year sushi binge. I had a Groupon for the sushi train, where we had our sushi anniversary six months ago, so we headed back for another round at dinner time.

Then on Saturday, Aaron had a tee-ball game and Hannah attended a birthday party with her friend Nicholette. Then our friend Kate had a birthday party for herself, which involved dinner at Sakura Sushi and then Telestrations at her apartment afterward. Hannah and I attended the latter part, which gave Hannah a few hours of quality time with Other Hannah as her sisters joined us in drawing several goofy drawings together upstairs.


Then on Sunday, we celebrated Aaron’s birthday down at the splash pad at H.W. Banner Park. The water features were all running, so it was a fun way to keep cool (even if the temperature didn’t reach ninety-nine degrees as they’d predicted). We had some snacks for the kids as guests arrived. My folks along with Uncle Jonny and Nathan both stopped by along with an assortment of Aaron’s little friends.

Then Grammy broke out a giant jungle cake for dessert. Aaron had to pretend to blow out the candles, as the wind kept us from keeping them lit for real. Then Aaron got to open a bunch of presents, most of which had a superhero theme to them, in addition to Uncle Nathan’s pool noodles (which Aaron got a kick out of).


Then on Aaron’s actual birthday, we celebrated with a tornado There were funnel clouds in the area, so they sirens went off right next to our house. We spent some time in the basement watching Happy Birthday cartoons on Netflix as Pop-Pop baked a couple pizzas upstairs. Once it was reasonably clear, we ate upstairs and then had some cupcakes with candles for Aaron to blow out before opening some more presents. (And he would still have a few more to open and grandma and grandpa’s house a week later.)


It’s supposed to get hot-hot-hot again over Father’s Day weekend, so Vivian brought the kids to spend one relatively cool day at the park to have lunch, swing, and practice jumping into daddy’s arms from the stage at Stinson Park.

Aaron turns 3

Our little boy turned three over the weekend, and now that summer is finally cranking up the heat, we celebrated in the coolest way we could manage (literally).


The fun started on Saturday at our favorite Omaha Sprayground, the Allplay splash pad at Seymour Smith Park. With temps close to 90, it definitely felt good to get a face full of ice-cold water with Aaron and his little friends (though he mostly just got his fingers wet). Vivian grilled hot dogs as the grandparents stayed mostly in the shade throughout the party, and then we had a little lunch before Grammy brought out her adorable Thomas the Tank Engine cake for Aaron to devour. There were also plenty of presents, of course, which Aaron opened on a blanket with his guests. Uncle Nathan even stopped by with a gift for Aaron before we packed up and headed out.


On Sunday, (Aaron’s actual birthday) we continued the celebration down at the Children’s Museum. They’d remodeled a few areas downstairs to include a light-up dance floor and Tetris game, but we spent most of our visit looking at the visiting Dinosaur exhibit upstairs. There were faux fossils to dig around, dinosaur sculpture to sit on, and plenty of (roped off) animatronic dinosaurs to get a picture with. The kids got a train ride and then got to participate in a parade around the museum before closing time.

On the way home, we got some dinner at Burger King along with a few birthday ice cream cones for the kids and plenty of time in the play area. Then Aaron got to open a few more presents at home before bedtime, including some outdoor gifts from Uncle Jonny and some trucks and tractors from mommy and daddy.

Aaron turns two!


Summer’s here again, as temperature breaks into the upper-nineties and everyone starts looking for ways to beat the heat. For the Johnson Kids, that often means more time running through the fountains of Stinson Park or maybe a Splash Pad. More on that in a second.

My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Andy are taking a trip across the United States visiting family, so last week they dropped by to stay with my folks for a few days. They checked out Boys Town, Runza, and even a firing range. Vivian and I brought the kids by after dinner on Wednesday to say hello and then play a couple rounds of Apples to Apples together.


On Friday night, Vivian and I took the kids to the Eagles’ Lodge for the Omaha Jitterbugs’ “Mom Prom,” a fun event designed for little ones with an interest in dancing. Lindsey picked out a few giant dance cards with basic dance steps printed on them, and by putting four of them randomly down on the floor, she created a fairly simple dance pattern for everyone to follow. The kids were all around Hannah and Aaron’s age, and they followed along as best as you could expect of a handful of four year olds. Once the cake came out, however, all bets were off as the kids began to run about on a sugar high with percussion instruments only adding to the chaos, but both of our kids had a great time.

Oh, did I mention that there was NO ELECTRICITY? Yes, there was apparently some kind of “underground vault fire” west of 24th and Harney Streets that blacked out the whole area for the entire evening. We still had a great event, however. Billy got a battery backup for the speakers so we could have music, the sunlight through the windows was more than enough for us to see, and the building even stayed relatively cool for an hour or two without air conditioning. Good job, guys!


On Friday, our little boy Aaron turned two years old! I made him waffles for breakfast, and he got to open a few presents at home in the morning. Then in the afternoon, we took him to Morton Park for some quality time in the splash pad. It was pushing 97 degrees outside, so getting cold and wet for most of the afternoon was more than welcome. We invited a handful of Aaron’s little friends along for the day, as well as all four grandparents, of course. After getting soaked on the splash pad for an hour or two, we had some hot dogs together followed by an adorable train cake courtesy of Grammy — complete with fondant renderings of HannahAaron, and the cast of Sesame Street.

it’s hard to believe my little boy is two years old now. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

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On Sunday, I took Hannah to Grandma and Grandpa Johnson’s house for quality time painting and playing with some of my dad’s old puppets. I also helped Grandpa with a project collecting old family photos and stories and assembling them in a page layout program.

Then that evening, Brazilian missionaries Al and Nadine Pierschbacher came to visit Twin Valley Church. They showed us some slides of their mission work at the New Hope Bible Baptist Church in Fortaleza. Then afterward we had some tasty tri-tip steak for dinner, which I assumed was cooked in the churrasco style. Bom apetite!

The Birthday Boy


On Wednesday, I finally dropped by Spielbound — Omaha’s one-and-only Board Game Cafe — for the first time with a cluster of folks from AIGA. Vivian and I are acquaintances of Kaleb and the gang who dreamed up the place, and we were also one of the many Kickstarter backers who got the place up and running last year, so I thought it was time to stop by and check it out.

It was every bit the Hipster Hangout I had been expecting, with local beer from Brickway and Cherry Mead from Moonstruck on tap, and thousands of games to go around. I’m not really a board game person, since it seems every game shown to me takes about an hour to explain and several more to complete. We did find a copy of Pandemic, which I’d played once with Vort and Michelle in Kansas City years ago. It’s a game where all the players play cooperatively against the game mechanics, so explaining the rules as you play is perfectly fine. I also threw in a copy of Monty Python Fluxx, before calling it a night.


On Thursday, our little boy Aaron turned one year old! We had a bigger event planned for him on Saturday, but we invited the grandparents over (and Uncle Jonny) to watch Aaron open a few presents and have some cake and ice cream for the very first time. His big present was a large, plastic water table, which finally gave Aaron a place to splash happily about other than the toilet.


On Friday night, the Sumtur Amphitheater had its first free Friday night movie of the season — Big Hero Six. None of us has seen the movie before, but Vivian and I were able to enjoy it despite wrangling two kids and enduring a brief, passing shower. A handful of our usual friends came by to watch the movie with us in the drizzle. There was also a Pink Floyd cover band (aptly named Floyd) that got up to play a few songs before the show started.


Saturday was Aaron’s big day, of course. We nabbed a picnic shelter at Washington Park in Olde Town Bellevue and got a couple grills fired up to celebrate our little boy’s first birthday. Both grandmas and grandpas were there, of course, as well as a cluster of Aaron and Hannah’s little friends, a nice cross-section of people who would otherwise never meet. Aaron had fun with a pinwheel from Lisa as the bigger kids climbed on the swings, slides, and seesaw, easily having fun without the aid of electronic toys. Jack manned the grill, and Donna baked a big, beautiful Winnie the Pooh cake, which Aaron’s enjoyed so much that he wound up literally licking the plate clean afterward.

I still can’t believe it’s been a year since we took our little boy home from the hospital, but it was great to celebrate with so many of our good friends. Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Aaron Edward

Aaron Edward Johnson

Everybody say hello to Aaron Edward Johnson, our new little bundle of joy born at 9:08 am on June 11, weighing 6 lbs. 11 oz. and measuring 20 inches long. Mom and I couldn’t be happier with our new son, and Hannah’s going to love having a new baby brother!

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Vivian and I celebrated the eve of our son’s birth with burgers down at Stella’s for one last meal. Then we headed down to the hospital bright and early Tuesday morning for a scheduled delivery by c-section. Our little guy came out of the womb with a little trouble and needed some fluid taken out of his little throat before he was presentable to mom on the operating trouble. After a couple hours of recovery, though, we were all ready to present all four grandparents with their new (first and only) grandson. Daddy got to give him his first bath in the afternoon, and then we started our parade of visitors, starting with “Uncle” Eric and Pastor Drew and then the Mathis Family at the end of the night.


The next day, I dropped by the house to check on Big Sister Hannah and made some banana pancakes with her and Grammy for breakfast. Grandma Johnson and I did some last-minute shopping at B2B before lunch. Then that afternoon, Hannah dropped by with presents and flowers for mom and toys for her little brother. We had told her all about the new addition to our family, but she still seemed somewhat in (duck-faced) shock to hold him in her arms for the first time. We got a bunch of new visitors that evening as Vivian’s entire bible study dropped by to visit. Almost all eleven ladies got to take turns holding our little boy (after getting a terribly timed blood-test).


We had a steady stream of other guests for the rest of our stay at the hospital, including Sherri, Kerri, Lexi and her little boy August, and Teresa with her four kids in tow. A professional photographer wandered by to get some classy shots of little Aaron for us that will look quite lovely hanging in my office. Vivian’s OB-GYN dropped in on Saturday to give us the all clear to pack up our little bundle of joy and head home. He still had some jaundice, so we gave him about a day’s worth of light therapy at home just to be safe. It cleared up by Sunday afternoon.

Of course, Sunday was also Father’s Day, and what better gift could a dad ask for than a new baby? We had all four grandparents over to have brats and corn on the cob for dinner, and Hannah got to spend a little extra time measuring up next to her little brother and Vivian’s baby doll, Jenny before calling it a night.

Welcome home, Aaron!