Category Archives: Dennis & Kara

Soaring wings and life in the gutter

The rain seems to have been almost non-stop over the past week, but we’ve been able to find a few dry spells here and there to enjoy.

2021-05-21 19.44.51IMG_7155

On Friday evening, we headed out to Soaring Wings with the kids to enjoy some live music for the first time in a while. The “Swampboy Blues Band” was performing down at Soaring Wings, so we joined a handful of our friends (Jenny and Kody, Venche and Anya, Phil and Jen and Gabriel, and Jon Paper) on a blanket or two on the green. The kids seemed to have a great time — they happily danced to the music before finding some kids to play tag with (and lots of nearby dogs to pet).

It was also nice to catch up with our friends a bit, and we never even got around to sampling any beer or wine on site as the sun went out. It was the perfect evening for such an outing — and probably the only rain-free day of the past week or two.

2021-05-22 12.43.412021-05-22 17.14.02-1

While it was raining, Hannah and Aaron had some fun drawing in their sketchbooks. Hannah has been making her own comic book about her and her friends, stapling the pages of copy paper together to make it, while Aaron has been designing video games in his sketchbook.

It’s been warm enough to warrant a little pool time as well, so Aaron got to get nice and soaked when we dropped by the Lenarts’ house for dinner on Saturday.

2021-05-23 12.15.47-12021-05-23 11.57.50-1

Then on Sunday, I managed to get up and clean out our gutters a bit as the kids played in our wading pool down below. They’d become completely filled in debris, despite our gutter guards, so I scooped them out just in time for a downpour an hour or two later.

Hannah’s been having fun with a teddy bear she’d named “Bowie,” taking her swimming, to Aldi, and to church, and also creating her a house in our linen closet. In the meantime, Aaron played a game with his Sunday school teacher that was very much like creating one of his “levels,” getting her to walk through a pylon cones while blindfolded.

Rare Breeds

We’ve had a few gorgeous days here and there this week, necessitating a trip or two to a park, but mostly it’s been hot and muggy as summer absolutely refuses to make way for fall. Fortunately, our tomatoes have started kicking into high gear, giving us plenty of tasty treats for bruschetta and such.


On Wednesday, I spent the evening with Tom Becka and Jeff Koterba in Benson, who were helping to raise a few dollars to renovate the Benson Theater. The theater has been vacant for several decades, but there are some very elaborate plans to bring it back to life, and they’re about half a million dollars shy of meeting their goal.

The event was at the “B Side,” which was once the “PS Collective” connected to the Pizza Shoppe where 88 Improv used to perform (and Tom once “performed” for use amusement years ago). The room was now sealed of from the pizza, but there is now a bar where I got a “figure of speech” to sip as Tom and Jeff introduced themselves and dove headlong into a Facebook argument IRL on stage for us. The title of the event was “Rare Breed,” and asked “are cartoonists and commentators going extinct.” I would certainly say “no,” as the Internet has made it easier for anyone to have a platform to spread their views or cartoons with almost no overhead whatsoever, but it did launch into a long-form discussion on such things as “fake news” and red light cameras, among other things. We also got to try drawing our own editorial cartoons from a list of topics, a la the Kaneko event a few years back, so I tried my hand at a caricature of Ben Sasse.

It was a fun evening, primarily because I always prefer arguing “IRL” as opposed to online, where being snippy and sarcastic often gets you likes when thoughtful discussion gets ignored.


Friday brought along some gorgeous weather, so we took the kids to the park for a lunchtime visit. Then that evening, Vivian and I attended a “Tribute to Patriots” event, where we got to hear from Congressman Devin Nunes of California, emceed by KFAB’s Scott Voorhees. He’s been in the headlines recently for his role in investing Russian collusion, but he had a few other interesting stories about his interactions with President Trump. We saw several familiar faces there, including Don Bacon, Lt. Gov. Foley, and the usual band of GOP volunteers. They had a few awards at the end for the “five that drive,” which included several of them.

It was a lovely evening, though I forgot my memory card, so I couldn’t use my “good camera” to get any pictures. We also had a late dinner, so we wound up crashing at our old Village Inn for chicken pot pie and a french dip sandwich together (and pie, of course) before calling it a night.


Saturday turned out to be the perfect day for just about everything outside — including a bit more house painting in the morning followed by a picnic lunch at Hickory Hill Park with our friends, the Lenarts. We’d been aiming at having another meetup for a while and managed to land on the perfect day for grilling a few burgers outside while letting the kids play on a new playground together.


Then that evening, we had another trip to the zoo, courtesy of the Autism Society of Nebraska. We dropped by around six and had a look around the mostly too-dark-to-film “kingdom of the night” beneath the desert dome. We saw an alligator or two in the swamp and some snakes before heading upstairs to the drier part of the dome, where we got a peek at a fox, some mongooses, and some rattlesnakes.

The kids spent plenty of time playing on zoo statuary before we headed to the jungle to hang out for the rest of the evening. The bats were out in full force once again as we looked around upstairs and down, and then we dropped by the Wild Kingdom pavilion to cool off with a dance and a ride in a Humvee before calling it a night.

A Daddy/Daughter Dance


It’s been another fun, busy weekend for us. Hannah and I kicked it off on Friday night by attending a daddy/daughter dance hosted by Calvary Church and the Sarpy YMCA. They put on a very nice event in the theme of a 50s “sock hop,” with a soda fountain, photo booth, and plenty of dancing to classic oldies music (though they The Temptations’ “My Girl” at least four times for some reason — hit the shuffle button, guys). Hannah didn’t seem quite as keen dancing with me as she did dancing either on her own or with another girl named Alyssa, but that was fine — it still burned off the sugar high she got from the chocolate fondue. Lindsey from the Y even got up to lead everyone in Zumba for a bit, which was still a little too organized for Hannah. We both still had a good time, and we finished the evening with a purple and orange flower on her nose.


On Saturday, the kids spent some quality time with grandma and grandpa having Chinese food for the first time and watching MST3K (Pumaman). Then that evening, Vivian and I went out to Milliard to surprise Dennis for his 40th birthday at Kara’s parents’ house. The event had the theme of a toga party, which meant lots of Greek-style food with the help of Phil and Jen. Kara’s dad also grilled some burgers after Dennis and the family dropped in for their surprise, and Jen also made a massively dense rainbow carrot cheesecake. Hannah played with Dean’s little girl and bopped little Matthew with a few balloons as the rest of us played some Pictionary before calling it a night.


On Sunday, we had a potluck lunch at church and then sent the kids home with Grammy and Pop Pop so we could attend another birthday party for Kody down at Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield. Around a dozen of our friends came by to have wine samples and cupcakes as Dan Christian covered some country songs as other people danced. Kody also presented Jenny with a ring, fooling the next table into thinking he’d just proposed. It was unfortunately too gray, cold, and rainy to go outside, which was beautiful, so maybe we’ll come back in the summer when they have a live band (like they did some seven years ago when we were here last for Venche’s birthday party).

Happy birthday, everybody!

Lenart Housewarming and a Fishy Friday

IMG_4141 IMG_4228

Last weekend, we managed to get Hannah out of the house for some fun with other kiddos. Saturday morning, she had a play-date with Cameron, the little boy of one of Vivian’s co-workers who met Hannah over a year ago to “shake hands and touch feet.”

That evening, Dennis had a bunch of us over to his new house to pretend to watch Cars II in the other room as the grown-ups had red popcorn and shrimp in the kitchen, chatting about such things as the difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats. On Sunday, Vivian and I played babysitter to Jake and Samantha. There were plenty of toys all over the house for the kids to get into, but they all seemed to enjoy the big “toy” in the basement with all the keys. Anything that makes that much noise and seats three has got to be the best toy in the house.

IMG_4240 IMG_4322

On Friday night, our rag-tag crew of mutual friends showed up at St. John Vianney’s for their Friday night fish fry, a tradition we’ve been carrying on since 2009. Of course, we initially picked this particular church because the line was unbelievably short (in contrast to the horror that is Mary Our Queen, et cetera). Word must have gotten out, because every year the line has become more insane, this year wrapping around the entryway about four or five times and turning into a jumbled mess of lent-practicing Catholic mayhem. The crowd was so massive that it somehow swallowed Dan Wondra without a trace, but we were fortunate not to have any other causalities. It was still fun to hang out with our noisy friends as we spent over an hour shuffling our way to the front of the line. We were quite ready to binge on macaroni, pancakes, grilled cheese, and (of course) fish once we got there. The fried carbs were enough to turn us into blobs by the end of the night who could barely “bah bah bah” along with Sweet Caroline (requested specifically by Vivian). Good times never seemed so good.

Memorial Day Weekend

IMG_1292.JPG IMG_1315.JPG

There no pick-me-up quite like a three-day weekend, and this Memorial Day was no exception. Vivian and I started the weekend off with nothing on our calendar, but it got filled up pretty quickly. On Friday, we had our usual visit to the Eagle’s Lodge for dancing followed by a long overdue run to Village Inn for an after midnight breakfast afterward. Saturday was Jessica Ritchie’s birthday, so we’d had a birthday jam for her on Friday night.

On Saturday, Vivian and I were invited over to Jessica’s house to have dinner with her folks and a couple of her friends. She’s apparently a big fan of chili, so we all got to stuff ourselves and play some Fluxx before heading out again. (Don’t let the picture on the left above fool you — the wine glass was only filled with water).

For the last month, Crossroads Mall has been hosting live bands and ballroom dancing in its food court on Saturday evening, so Vivian and I decided to drop by and check it out. The crowd seemed to be made up mostly of seniors, but our friends Dan and Margaret were there to walk Vivian and me through a few basic steps of a waltz and fox trot. We were still pretty stuffed from Chili, but that didn’t keep us from doing a triple-time shim sham toward the end of the night.

IMG_1326.JPG IMG_1333.JPG

On Sunday night, we headed up to Blair to have a cookout with our friend Dennis and Kara. We got to meet Kara’s parents, and then we all got to have a healthy sampling of wine while teasing Brandy and Millie as they ambled about among all the guests.

On a personal note, my family’s experience a serious tragedy over the last couple of weeks, and I’ve considered posting something about it here, but the details are still under investigation. Please just keep the Gibbs family in Colorado in your prayers in the meantime.