Category Archives: Chick-Fil-A

Bikes, horses, and a Haunted Hayrack

We’ve hit Peak Fall and are enjoying some of the best weather of the year, making the most of the Great Outdoors before winter rolls around.


Last weekend, Jack and Donna’s neighbor Toni invited us over for an outdoor movie night in their yard. We dropped by with the kids to have some chili dogs and potato salad as they played on a few of their swings as a reel of weird, old cartoons played on their makeshift bedsheet-turned-movie-screen. I think the kids had a little more fun making dancing shadows behind the screen rather than anything that happened to be projecting on it.

The next day, we stopped by Ralston Park after church, just because the weather was so absolutely gorgeous. We got some McDonald’s for lunch and then let the kids run around a bit on the playground afterward. Aaron and I both hit the swings for a bit, and then we practice some martial arts together afterward.

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I kept busy the following week with an Education Program at work, which involved me putting together presentations and then doing a group photo hanging from a ladder in a hotel lobby, which was interesting. I still had time to bike down to the local Chick-Fil-A for lunch with Hannah and Vivian after BSF on Thursday. I’d been hoping their play area (which Hannah is still small enough for) would be open, but it wasn’t. We still enjoyed having some chicken together and seeing some of the restaurant’s pumpkin décor.

Then on Friday, we took the kids down to Mangelsen’s to look for some Halloween costumes. Hannah decided to be a Pink Power Ranger, while Aaron wanted to be a Cat Ninja. We couldn’t quite find a suitable cat or ninja, so he decided to be a Skull Ninja instead, which seemed to work just as well.

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On Saturday, Vivian took Aaron clothes shopping while I took Hannah on a lovely bike ride around Walnut Creek Lake. I showed Hannah the “secret” entrance via the tunnel near Santa Fe Circle, which went through a tunnel under Highway 370 and through a bit of woods before coming up to the lake. Hannah and I pedaled around the entire lake together, stopping to get a closer look at the water (and a stray leaf) and stopping at a playground before circling back.

On Sunday, Pastor Ron donned a dreadlock wig to talk about Samson as the kids learned about the Ten Commandments. Then that afternoon, Hannah did a little horseback riding with her friends with American Heritage Girls. She’s been learning about taking care of horses as part of earning a badge with her group (as is Sammy), and she wound up riding for 45 minutes while on horseback for the first time.


Capping off the weekend was a trip to James Arthur Vineyards for a Haunted Hayrack Ride. It’s an immensely popular event, with tickets typically selling out in less than half an hour once they go on sale. We bumped into our friends Jenny and Kody while we were there (who I hope still read this blog, since I mentioned it!) and had some ribeye steaks and wine together for dinner (with Kira the dog begging for scraps). Owner Jim Ballard told a few “true” ghost stories to the group about such characters as local ghost Charlie Werner (who has a port-style wine named after him). Then local musician Chris Sayre sat down to play music on a saw and tell a few ghost stories, such as the “Legend of Blackbird Hill.”

Of course, there was also a haunted hayrack ride, which mostly involved us puttering around the vineyard in the dark while a lone guy in an orange mask chased after us. It was a beautiful evening with or without the haunting, though, and we were even allowed to take glasses of wine along on the trip, none of which spilled.

Halloween’s just around the corner, and next on my agenda will be scrambling up some costumes for Vivian and me — as well as a family trip to Sioux Falls right before Jenny’s Halloween party. The fun never stops!

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!

Birthday Paella and Morning Walks


We’ve got one day left before Vivian and I celebrate ten years of marriage together! In the meantime, we’ve got another celebration to recognize — Grammy’s birthday. On Tuesday evening, Vivian and Jack made up a giant seafood paella. Grammy got to use our new special “birthday plate,” and the kids got their first taste of several things, including scallops (which Hannah thought at first was a banana).

Hannah drew Grammy a sweet birthday card (on giant paper), and Grammy got to blow out the candles on a giant dark chocolate lava cake that Vivian made. It was made with Ghirardelli brownie mix and Lindor truffles, with enough concentrated cacao to nearly put me in a coma (it was especially good with vanilla ice cream).


The next morning, it was a lovely 64 degrees outside, so the whole family wound up walking 1.3 miles down the street together for a morning stroll down to Chick-Fil-A for breakfast. We picked some wild mulberries along the way, and then I called my folks to come join us before it was time to head off to work.

Next stop: Kansas City to celebrate a decade of married life!

Saving the Daylight


It’s been a remarkably quiet couple of weeks at the Johnson House. The day after Halloween, we celebrated five years of Chick-Fil-A with the kids (as if we needed an excuse to eat more chicken) and got free sandwiches for helping with their canned food drive. The sun set on Daylight Saving Time a few days later, which we celebrated with a potluck at church and one last afternoon walk-walk to my parents’ house before it starts getting dark at five o’clock. I’ve been taking advantage of the time change by getting up early to have coffee with Vivian and breakfast at McDonald’s with my dad and Pastor Ryan.

It’s still warm enough to take the kids down to the park to play and have dim sum for lunch every now and then. Grammy came by one Saturday to have pumpkin pecan pancakes with us and then give Hannah and me a couple haircuts. Vivian even took the shears to Grammy for a bit to even out the back of her head where it’s hard to reach. In other news, Hannah found her lost kitty Zoey in the back of our closet, so now she has two of them somehow.

The holiday season is about ready to kick off, but first we’ve got a date with Johnny Boyd and a birthday for Hannah to look forward to. More on that in the next update.

Stop! Hammerschlagen.


We got to have a little more family fun last week in Omaha. On Thursday, Vivian had the girls from her bible study over for the evening, so I took Hannah down to the local Chick-Fil-A for some story time with April Dodson. She’s an author from Colorado Springs who wrote a book called Tally the Turtle, so for whatever reason she decided to drop by Chick-Fil-A with a few books to read to any of the kids who showed up. The center of the restaurant was rearranged into a cozy story nook, but Hannah seemed a little more interested in getting a turtle-shaped balloon made by the Balloon Man around the corner.

On Friday, Vivian took her mom out for Canvas and Cabernet at Aksarben Village as something of a belated birthday present. We’d stumbled upon the place one hot Sunday afternoon after Lindy in the Park, and it sounded like fun. They had a basic landscape everyone followed along and painted with a preset palette of colors, all while sipping a couple glasses of wine. The budding artist in me might be tempted to try such a thing down the road, mostly because I won’t have to worry about cleaning and storing a bunch of brushes like I did in my art school days.


On Saturday night, we headed up to the Rector Ranch for a joint birthday / retirement party for Tamra and her dad, Royce, respectively. Tamra was turning the big three-oh, and naturally had to celebrate with our mutual group of friends with volleyball, Telestrations and Hammerschlagen (apparently mandatory at the Rector Ranch). Vivian and I took turns juggling Hannah, who seemed quite enamored with the countryside and open spaces, very eager to play with our friends and steal the volleyball in-between sets.

Royce had invited a bunch of his mutual friends and co-workers as well. It seemed daunting to think about working at once company for longer than I’ve been alive, particularly in today’s corporate culture where employees are treated more or less as a disposable resource, and anyone from a senior vice-president to an executive assistant can be shown the door at a moment’s notice.

Chicken / Zoo

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Halloween night was a big night for a few people in Bellevue, and it had nothing to do with dressing up in costumes. November 1 was the grand opening of the Chick-Fil-A down on Cornhusker Drive, and the first 100 people there — who camped out in the parking lot all night — got to have free Chick-Fil-A for a year. That translates into 52 free meal coupons. I wasn’t among them, since I wanted to be around for Hannah’s very first Halloween, but Pastor Drew was. His family stopped by to wish him luck the night before, and then he was first among the throngs to get his free goodies the next morning.

I’ve dropped in at Chick-Fil-A a couple times since for breakfast and dinner, and it’s always been crowded. There are a handful of places that carry a following this devoted — Trader Joe’s and Inn-n-Out Burger being a few noteworthy examples — and this little chicken restaurant is certainly a worthy contender.

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On Sunday, Hannah got to take her very first trip to the zoo. The Henry Doorly Zoo had free admission, and since the weather was still reasonably nice (for November), we couldn’t pass up the chance to stop by. Hannah’s still a bit young to appreciate all the animals at the zoo’s many different exhibits, but she really seemed to enjoy the monkeys, a few colorful macaws, and all the sea creatures in the aquarium. Of course, this trip was really more about mom and dad getting snapshots of adorableness with their our little girl, but we’ll definitely be taking her back again and again once she’s older.

Practice vacation

For the last couple of weeks, Nebraska’s been in the midst of a severe drought and triple-digit temperatures, so the Johnson Family has been enjoying the great indoors a little more than usual. Last week, we dropped by Sakura Bana last week to celebrate Tamra’s birthday, and we also dropped by Chick-Fil-A for the first time to have some chicken sandwiches before the rush on Wednesday (when they were actually completely sold out of food).

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Last weekend, we took a “practice” vacation to Kansas City, seeing what it would be like to hit the road with Hannah before our big trip to northern California at the end of September. We visited the plaza as usual, grabbing lunch at Jack Stack’s, where Hannah got to chew on a baby back rib or two. We also dropped by a toy store to play with some puppets before making our traditional visit to the Better Cheddar. We check into the hotel next, where Hannah seemed to enjoy playing with the curtains and looking generally adorable. We stayed at the Q Hotel across the street from the World Market, so we naturally had to walk across the street to stock up on curry sauce and avocado oil. By some fantastic coincidence, we bumped into Drew and Alisa, my old bible study leaders from Lincoln, who I hadn’t seen since our wedding four years ago. It’s definitely a small world.

When the sun went down, we packed into the car and went to the Boulevard Drive-In to see Ice Age 4 and Batman Rises. I’d never been to a drive-in before, and it was a fun throw-back to an era that ended long before I was born.

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The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel and spent a good portion of the afternoon at the Union Station Museum touring Science City. They had some fun optical illusions, floating balls, and a set of gears that kept Hannah fascinated. She also got the chance to meet a couple of new animal friends.

We had a late lunch down at Arthur Bryant’s and then dropped by a mysterious part of town around 21st and Vine Street. When Vivian and I traveled over a bridge on the Paseo Boulevard, we couldn’t help but notice a giant limestone castle peeking out from amidst the urban blight (known as the Vine Street Workhouse). There was actually a whole street of public works buildings down there that had been built over 100 years ago and reflected a time when this part of Kansas City was a ritzier neighborhood with buildings that reflected the wealth of residents who were no longer around. It made for an interesting diversion before heading on home.