Category Archives: Jack & Donna

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!

Thanksgiving in May

It’s been a rainy week in Omaha, making some flowers bloom in our yard (and Grammy’s) but keeping us indoors. That means watching for the dry days and making the most of them.

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I took Friday off last week just to participate in a peaceful protest with a few friends down in Bellevue, specifically over a new sex education curriculum the school board is trying to impose on the state.

At the same time, I also participated in Hannah’s homeschool education in a more direct way by helping do a math assignment that involved stacking stacks of nuts and magnets together while blindfolded. I’ve also been helping Aaron do his daily homework, which includes pages from his math book and reading on the school iPad. It keeps us busy, but it definitely feels good to be involved!

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On Saturday, we had a full clear day to plant our garden in the backyard. Vivian had a handful of tomato plants as well as basil, cilantro, and oregano to plant in our backyard. I was able to bring the kids along to participate in our family horticulture, but afterward they seemed far more interested in just getting wet with the garden hose, which was fine by me. We were looking at a full week of rain coming up in the meantime, so the m ore time we get outside, the better.

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We had another clear evening on Tuesday, when Vivian spent the entire day with her folks helping to cook a whole turkey on the grill (“just to use it up”). As such, we got to have a full Thanksgiving dinner — stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and even apple pie — out on the deck among the blooming things in Grammy’s yard.

Afterward, the kids decided to get wet running through the neighbors’ sprinkler spray on the sidewalk, but we corralled them back long enough to try out a badminton set that Grammy got from the Dollar Tree.

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We spent the rest of the week with almost perpetual rain, and I wasn’t able to take so much as a daily walk without getting at least a light sprinkle. One reprieve came on Thursday, when I grabbed some sushi for lunch (courtesy of my generous employer) and ate it picnic style at the park.

Hannah and I weren’t quite so lucky that evening, when she and I went for a walk together and it started raining halfway through. That didn’t stop our initial plan to make a 2.8 mile round trip hike to Chick-Fil-A and back just to grab some ice cream. It was quality daddy/daughter time, and she still enjoyed the ice cream (despite being a bit cold on the way home).

Haircuts and Hot Wings

It’s been a remarkably quiet week or so as the holidays fade away and a new year begins. Vivian smoked the discounted salmon I got on New Year’s Eve, which was quite tasty on a bagel. I also finally took down our Christmas tree and took it off to the dump to be with its many other tree friends.

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On Saturday, Donna came over and gave everyone a much-needed haircut. I’d been in need of one for some time, as I was reaching mullet territory, and Hannah got a short pixie cut and used some of Aaron’s scraps to make some adorable wigs for her little dolls.

Then on Monday, I went to my parents’ house to watch Alabama crush Ohio State in the National Championship game. My dad made some wings with homemade hot sauce, and I brought along some celery, blue cheese, and ranch to complement.

Roll Tide!

Celebrating Seventy

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Vivian’s mom turned 70 over the weekend, so naturally we had to pull off a larger-than-usual celebration. Her first big surprise of the weekend came on Friday, when her sister “Uncle” Mary and niece Brenda came to visit from California. Vivian had kept their trip a secret for months and we welcomed them with Digornio’s on the patio.

Then on Saturday, we had a big shin-dig in the basement of Twin Valley Church. Jack and Keith grilled up a bunch of pork, Vivian and I brought in a bunch of sides, and the Omaha cake club brought in a flowery birthday cake (of which Hannah got a giant corner piece). A whole bunch of our mutual family and friends came to celebrate as well, while at the same time a few people from church were outside working on the concrete (we gave them cake, too).

That evening, we took Mary and Brenda down to the pedestrian bridge to walk from Iowa to Nebraska and back. It was a lovely, cool evening (in contrast with next week’s heatwave) to see the sun go down. We stopped by the Old Market for a peek inside the Hollywood Candy shop, and then we returned home with milk shakes and onion rings for dinner afterward.

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On Sunday after church, we all went to see the new Raptor Refuge at the Fontenelle Forest. It’s a fairly elaborate bird sanctuary with a variety of hawks, owls, and other birds of prey in for a variety of maladies, including broken wings. The refuge is built like a series of tree houses interconnected by a set of suspension bridges (which Hannah and Aaron found much more interesting). I even got a staff member to identify the hawk that’s been squatting in our front yard (it’s a Cooper’s Hawk). We stayed a little while to explore the forest and see a few tree houses and xylophones, but it was hot and muggy without even a hint of a breeze, so we headed home to cool off before long.

Then that evening, we took Donna, Mary, Brenda, and Jack out for a delicious sushi binge at Tokyo Sushi. Mary and Brenda especially like sushi, so we all got our fill before walking it off a bit in the old market. Mary and Brenda stopped by Iron Decor & More to get some lawn sculptures, and we took a stroll to the passageway and back before having ice cream at Ted & Wally’s. Donna got a free scoop since it was her birthday, of course.

Mary and Brenda will be with us another day or two and are visiting the Omaha Zoo on Monday. Then they’ll head home just in time for Vivian and me to go off and celebrate eight years of marriage together. More on that in my next update.

Candidates, a Riverboat, and a Wedding

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One of the benefits of living near the Iowa border is being able to cross over every four years to meet a couple of the two dozen people running for President of the United States. This week, I got to shake hands with Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, who dropped by on Saturday and Friday, respectively. I enjoy being able to say I met candidates in person before voting for them. Rubio met with a cluster of supporters at Uncle Buck’s just off the Interstate, suffering from a bit of a cough and malfunctioning mike, but he stayed around afterward to shake hands and meet just about everybody afterward.

Scott Walker had about twice as many people crammed into a steamy meeting room at the HyVee on Broadway, but he somehow seemed quite refreshed and ready to meet people both upstairs and downstairs in the cafeteria afterward, where the spillover crowd had been redirected. I’d been following Walker since his battle with union thugs up in Madison made headlines back in 2010, and his stance on school choice is appealing for me, as I’d like to get Hannah out of the current district we’re stuck in. I still haven’t decided who to vote for — and I have over a dozen candidates to meet before I do. I wouldn’t even write off shaking hands with a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, though I’d probably get roped off if I tried. (I know they’d try to lasso this guy, who keeps showing up at events like these.)

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On Friday evening, Jack treated Donna, Vivian and me to dinner on the River City Star for Donna’s birthday. It was quite steamy and in the 90s all day long, but we still enjoyed dinner together and got some fresh air on the upper deck as we were taken up and down the Missouri River for an hour or two as the sun slowly set. We even had some live music buy a one-man band playing a steel drum and some kind of electric clarinet (I think).

I suggested getting ice cream at Ted & Wally’s afterward, but I could only imagine what the line would look like (and the parking) on a hot Friday night in downtown Omaha, so we settled for lemon cheesecake back at Jack and Donna’s house, courtesy of Vivian.

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On Saturday, we went to Anne and Brandon’s wedding. They had a ceremony at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, which was thankfully brief, as we had two squirmy kids to hold onto as the couple said their vows. Hannah even announced loud enough for the whole room to hear, “I want to get married!” Hannah got a few minutes to rock out in the children’s area before we said goodbye to the happy couple. They came right back for pictures, of course, before we all moved along to the reception up at Christ the King Catholic Church.

We had dinner and cake with our gang of friends, and then we had dancing with live music from a polka band. Brandon turned out to be quite the dancer, doing some kind of routine with his mom to various songs, including music from Super Mario Bros. I’ve never really learned how to polka, but that didn’t stop me from pretending with Hannah and Aaron as we shuffled about in a circle. It was a relatively late night for the kids, as Hannah enjoyed running in circles with the other little ones in attendance, though Aaron crashed all on his own around eight. We eventually headed home about an hour later, ready to turn in early in anticipation of a long, fun-filled anniversary date the next day.