Category Archives: Aaron

Open House, Hunter & Kingdoms of the Night

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Aaron’s elementary school had an open house on Monday night, so Vivian and I stopped by with Hannah to see his classroom again and look at some of Aaron’s artwork. He’d done a fairly accurate rendition of him and his sister along with a garden of flowers all measured with enormous numbers. We we checked out a few other rooms and signed up for a parent/teacher conference (which I think was the whole purpose of the open house) before getting a few snow cones outside before heading home.

Aaron’s also been enjoying going to Royal Rangers on Wednesday nights, doing some creative artwork and learning a bit about the bible with a few of his little friends. I’ve also enjoyed the chance to get away and read for a bit, leafing through my copy of “12 More Rules for Life” once again on the couch in the lobby.

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On Thursday, I had a political night to myself and got to have dinner at Chick-Fil-A leafing through “The American Story” by the Barton Brothers, a book given to me by one of the Royal Rangers volunteers who saw mw reading on the couch. (I was also able to cash in a few of my Chick-Fil-A reward points for some free food, which was nice.)

Then I headed north to the Cross Training Center to watch the film My Son Hunter, a kind of political satire about the Biden family directed by Robert Davi. It was a surprisingly well-done film — I’ve seen plenty of ham-fisted political films before, some of which were quiet cringe-worthy and barely watchable. This one was fairly polished and entertaining — not to mention hilarious. Much of the film seems to be done tongue in cheek with biting sarcasm, and lots of real-life quote and gaffes from Sleepy Joe to add to the humor.

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On Friday night, we stopped by the Mills house to say Happy birthday to our friend Sammy. She and Hannah have been little friends since they were born, and they got to spend time today shopping at the mall together like little tweens and having a “Sushi” cake decorated by Donna with some (pretend) sushi and cherry blossoms.

We spent a little time afterward letting the kids have more quality time playing together while Nate took Jake and Lexi down to the airport for a week-long trip to France. Aaron got to run around with Gabriel and August and playing with some of their ducks and chickens wandering around the yard. I also brought Mama Ginny out to graze for a little bit before she started getting pecked at by a duck.


Then on Saturday, we took a family trip to the Zoo courtesy of Autism Action Partnership. This time around, we went by the desert dome to see desert animals such as a kookaburra, some owls, and a variety of reptiles (along with some ducks running loose). We moved along downstairs to the Kingdom of the Night, where we saw bats, turtles, and a swamp full of alligators, among other things.

The sun went down and a storm lingered on the horizon and we stopped by to see some giraffes and elephants upstairs, who seemed to be hidden away indoors as the storm approached. As usual, the kids seemed to enjoy playing on the lion statues and spinning the watery fountain globe most of all. It was particularly interesting to visit the Zoo at night, where the desert dome was lit up in alternating colors for us before we headed home.

Musical, Museum, Fish Fry & Parade

It seems this last week has been jam-packed, with activities every night and a few during the day. I’ve also given up coffee for Lent and have been running on Postum the past few days, which I had to special order online, as they don’t tend to sell that sort of thing in local stores.


On Wednesday afternoon, Aaron’s class had a music performance for us, where he and his little classmates sang a few songs from Seussical the Musical and Disney’s Coco. Vivian and I stood up in the crowd and Aaron’s face broke into the biggest smile when he saw us. We also liked being able to see Aaron and all his little classmates, some of whom we only get to hear about on occasion.


Then on Thursday evening, Aaron’s first grade class got to spend the evening at the Children’s Museum. It gave Aaron the chance to interact with his friend Nico as he colored spaceships and cars to add into a virtual world on a projector’s screen. The kids also got to see the traveling exhibit upstairs about wood, which included a tiny house they could help “build,” along with model trees and a tree house.

The most adventurous moment of the evening came, however, when someone pulled the fire alarm. We got to stand outside in the damp cold for 10-15 minutes as the kids played on the playground while the fire department rolled up to inspect and clear the building. It was the first time Hannah had actually experienced anything like a fire drill at home, making me think we ought to practice this sort of thing more often.


On Friday, we went over to Phil and Jen’s house for our a family fish fry. We were joined by a few friends, including Jenny and Kody, who had a cluster of kids among them who kept ours busy running around the house for a few hours. Phil and Kody breaded and fried fish (as well as cheese and some shrimp), which we ate throughout the night with such things as macaroni and cheese and some funky Taiwanese fish snacks. while having some hilarious grown-up banter as the kids kept themselves busy.

There was also some birthday cake for Gabriel (and a few presents). I was mostly just happy to see our mutual kids getting along so well, running in circles around the house as the grown-ups made hilarious banter with one another at the big table.


The next day, Hannah and I braved 12-degree temperatures and went to downtown Omaha to march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade with my friend Brett Lindstrom. He’s running for governor along with a few other people (like Jim Pillen and Theresa Thibodeau), but I’ve finally decided to put my support behind him this season. There were many other politicians in the parade, including Mayor Jean Stothert, and I saw a bunch of familiar faces with Don Bacon’s crew, though the congressman himself was still in Washington DC.

The parade went from 16th and Harney down to the Old Market and back along Howard Street. Hannah emptied multiple buckets of candy handing them out to kids along the route, and I got a nice little workout walking along, taking photos, and jogging to the pickup truck and back to refill Hannah’s bucket. The cold wasn’t even that noticeable once we started moving, and it felt good to be back in the swing of parade season once again.

We had a family movie night that evening watching The Love Bug (1968) with the kids over pizza. Then we spent Sunday covering as we turned the clocks forward and lost an hour of sleep for no good reason.

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’s Dedication and Pre-Halloween Fun


Halloween is coming soon, and that means breaking out the old Pumpkin Costume for Hannah to try on and see how much she’s grown in the past year. We’ve been able to snap a photo of her in her costume every Halloween of her life so far, and I expect it’s a tradition that will hold up just as long as the costume does.

On Friday night, the Sarpy YMCA had their annual Trunk or Treat event, so we took Hannah and Aaron down to get a bit of a sugar fix for the evening. This year, Hannah’s going as Cinderella (and not Elsa, as every other little girl in the country seems to be dressed as). We bumped into a few friends as we made our way among all the open trunks of candy. Hannah got to have some fun in the bounce houses inside afterward, jumping around as much as she could in her floor-length nylon ballroom gown. Aaron’s just recently discovered his toes and will likely be playing with them rather than doing any serious trick-or-treating this year.


On Saturday, we drove down to Union Orchard to ride on a wagon, pick out a pumpkin and have a couple Apple Slushies and Donuts, and then Hannah broke in a few of the kiddie rides before we left. We drove back up to Bellevue to have an afternoon at Toni’s house celebrating her birthday with a few of her family and friends (and jalapeño poppers). Hannah had fun running around with a few of the kiddos present, discovering the shows of swinging in a hammock and showering other people with leaves. Aaron got to have a few cute moments and was quite happy just being passed around from person to person.

We had a bit of excitement around 3:45 as a motorcyclist was speeding down the boulevard and ran head-on into a nearby Jeep. The street was narrow with cars parked along the north side, and the bulky Jeep didn’t have any room to maneuver out of the way before the motorcycle came along. I got to see most of the accident out of the corner of my eye and take a couple pictures for the cops who showed up. The motorcyclist tried to make a break for it once people started talking about calling 911. We suspect he may have been enjoying a few adult beverages before his joyride.


On Sunday, we had Aaron dedicated before the congregation of Twin Valley Baptist church, saying our vows to raise him in a Godly, Christian home with the help of family and friends present. He wore my grandfather’s 116-year-old baptismal gown, as Hannah did, while we were up at the front with Pastor Drew. After the service, we and our gaggle of friends and family went down to the Village Inn on Fort Crook for a giant family luncheon of pancakes and broccoli. Hannah’s friend Sam came along, and she got to practice a few more of the frog faces she learned while at Lacie and Caleb’s wedding last week. She’s getting frighteningly good at making them.

In other news, with the weather being perpetually gorgeous this fall, I decided to try biking to work a couple times with my dad’s bike. The Keystone Trail runs fairly close to our house and my workplace, so it made for a perfect route to ride some five miles each way. That is except for the giant chunk that the city of Omaha decided to demolish between Grover and Center, diverting traffic from the lovely level trail to the crazy ups and downs of 72nd Street. Seriously, UNO, did you really need four months to create a pedestrian bridge for a parking lot for your new hockey arena? Tell people to park in Bellevue and just ride their bikes on up. It’s better than sitting in bleachers watching the guys on skates get exercise.

Wine, pizza, and babies


On Wednesday, we had a baby shower for a trio of new little ones at the Institute, which included Baby Aaron. A bunch of my co-workers got to take turns holding him as we all had cake. Our resident ethicist Sister Renee also got to meet both Hannah and Aaron for the first time ever downstairs. (She had a chewy piece of Werther’s candy for Hannah, which she immediately put to use as a mustache.)

Then on Friday, the Johnson Family headed down to the Sumtur for the final family outdoor movie of the season, The Sound of Music. The presentation came between a couple passing storms, but the rain held off long enough for us to watch (and sing along) without any “raindrops on roses.” The only people who got wet were the Sumtur Staff doing the ALS Ice Bucket Meme challenge down in front of the stage, though Hannah also got a damp arm from a temporary tattoo.


On Saturday, I got to celebrate my birthday a little early, since I happen to share it with my Uncle Ben and Aunt Carol’s anniversary, and this year they’re celebrating their 50th in Cedar Rapids. Jack and Donna got to take the kids for the evening as Vivian and I drove down to Lincoln to have pizza at my favorite pizza “joint,” Big Sal’s. Phil and Jen and Jon Paper drove down to join us, and after getting our fill of pizza, we drove on up to James Arthur Vineyard for a little wine-tasting. I got a sampling of a red wines ranging from Sweet to a Port, and then we explored the grounds a bit as a live band called Tunafish Jones covered a few classic tunes that the middle-aged crowd could dance stagger around to.


Sunday was roasty and toasty, so we took Hannah down to the splash park on 72nd and Harrison. Mom and dad got a little wet walking her through the sprinkler and splashing gizmos of the water zone, but she spent just as much time wandering about the “all access” playground area swinging and climbing on overhead bars (with a little help from Daddy, of course).

Then Sunday night, we decided to do a quick photo shoot with both our little ones. Aaron seemed to be in an agreeable mood, while Hannah barely sat still long enough for me to trip the shutter once or twice. It made for some fun, quick snapshots of our little kids, and Aaron even got to receive his first noogie from his big sister (and probably not his last).

Next stop: Cedar Rapids!

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!

Yaron Brook and the Season of New Life


It’s been a fairly busy week for Vivian and me here in Omaha. Along with a flurry of meetings and projects at work, we both got to eat out at the soon-to-be-closed Venice Inn twice during the week — first on Tuesday with her parents (who had never eaten there before) and then again on Thursday for a pro-life luncheon. Our speaker was Carol Szczepaniak, whose son Joe was part of the chain that got me connected to the exciting job I have today. Then on Thursday, I got to attend a meet-and-greet at the Fox and Hound with Yaron Brook, the Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute. He was passing through Nebraska and made time to chat with a cluster of my Objectivist friends about the virtues of selfishness, among other things.


Spring is, of course, the season of new life, and in the case of the Mills is means a new baby boy named August. I dropped by the hospital to get their first family photo with their new arrival on Friday, which was a delight. Their son is going to be about the same as ours, and with Sam and Hannah nearly the same age as well, we’ve got some inevitable play-dates in our future, I expect.

At home, Vivian and I have been busy transforming my office into a new baby bedroom for our little boy. That meant hauling down bookshelves, filing cabinets, and entire desk, and my old desktop computer to the “dance floor” of our basement. It was a fairly exhausting task, but we got a little help from Hannah to finish the job on Saturday as we put the crib together. We went out for barbecue ribs at Swine Dining with Donna and my parents to celebrate its (near) completion on Saturday. Then I got to spend the afternoon doing yard work, assembling a fertilizer spreader that I bought with my dad and putting down some weed and feed before some thunderstorms rolled by overnight. Things have been growing in our yard again, particularly the cluster of pretty tulips underneath our maple tree in the front yard. Hannah dropped by to let her Baby Cow sniff each of them while going on a walk with Grammy as Vivian and I worked on the house.

Pink versus blue


It’s been a fun and busy week leading up to our “Gender Reveal Party” on Saturday.

On Friday, I got to spend a bit of family time with Vivian, Hannah, and even Grandma Johnson down at the Shrine Circus. Hannah had gone to the circus just once as a baby, so now she was hold enough to be properly terrified of clowns and such. We also got to enjoy seeing some animals perform, including a cute dog and pony show, Tahar “King of the Alligators” Douis, Anna Louise the dancing elephant, which Hannah discovered was much larger in real life than her board books at home would suggest. My favorite act was Jonathan Rinny, who could balance on a stack of cylinders rolling in all different directions, which was quite a feat.


Then came the main event on Saturday night! We invited a bunch of our family and friends over to play games, have some food, and learn whether our new bundle of joy (due in June) will be a boy or a girl. We divided up into teams of pink and blue to start the night off (with appropriate colored beads). Representing pink were Lisa Barrett, Jack, Tamra, Randy, my mom, Donna, Jen, Jon Paper, Lydia, and Jenny. On the blue team were Lexi, Drew and Teresa, dad, Dennis and Kara, Anne, Libby, Kody, and Jolene. Our series of games included tossing ping pong balls into cups (all at once), answering some Battle of the Sexes trivia, and snapping rubber bands at a line of pop cans. This last one was much more difficult than anybody expected, and the only ones who managed to knock off a few cans were Drew, Jack, Jon Paper, and, surprisingly enough, my mom! Contestants all won “He She” bars along the way.

A little after nine o’clock came the big reveal, as Vivian and I cut into Donna’s beautiful Baby Cake. Donna was the only one in attendance to learn the baby’s gender in advance so she could fill the cake with either pink or blue for the big reveal:

It’s a boy!

That’s right, I’m going to have a son, and the chromosomal balance in the Johnson Household will be brought into balance at last. We stayed up until nearly midnight afterward enjoying cake and a few crazy games of Telestrations. As usual, we had a number of hilarious (and confused) artists in our group.

The next day, after a long night of celebrating, we went back to Twin Valley Church, and my mom and dad were able to come by and have a potluck lunch with all of us. Hannah had some fun getting chased (and kissed) by a couple of the boys, and others of us welcomed little baby Jonah Campbell to our congregation after a few long weeks in the NICU.

Wilby Johnson

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to little “Wilby” (will be) Johnson! That’s right, Hannah’s going to be a big sister in mid-June next year, and the Johnson Family will officially have its fourth member. We’ve been hoping and praying for our daughter to have a little brother or sister to torment her throughout the rest of her childhood. More details will be forthcoming, including whether we’ll be getting blue or pink blankets for the crib. Yes, this time we’re going to find out in advance — more on that in a month or two.