Category Archives: Jenny & Kody

Sioux Falls and a Costume Party

We’ve hit peak fall, with some beautiful fall colors exploding everywhere. It’s also time for parent/teacher conferences, giving Aaron a few days off from school and us a little time for an impromptu trip up to Sioux Falls and back.

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I met up with Vivian and Hannah on the Monday preceding the trip, stopping by Learning Express Toys at Regency Court to play with a few of their toys (just for fun after an orthodontist appointment). Then we took Hannah by Whole Foods for her first salad bar experience, where she assembled a fairly healthful lunch.

We’ve had some nice, brisk weather in the meantime, making for some cold bike rides as I pedaled to work without a car so we could give the CR-V an oil change before the trip. I made a stop by Hanscom Park, where a few flowers are still in bloom as warm weather comes to an end.

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Then on Thursday, we packed up the car and headed on north on I-29. We stopped by Sneaky’s Chicken in Sioux City for dinner, a cozy little diner off Gordon Drive, where we had some broasted chicken and the kids got a bit of a break from the car ride.

We continued on north as the sun set and got checked in to the Wyndham by the airport, where Hannah and Aaron both some a bit of exercise jumping from beds before we crashed for the night.

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After breakfast at the hotel the next morning, we to spent a rainy morning inside the Washington Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls, an old high school turned children’s museum. The kids got experience a wind machine and go inside a space suit, and Hannah got to participate in a science demonstration blowing Styrofoam balls into a bucket with a hair dryer.

There were also a couple exhibits on physical fitness as well, giving Hannah the chance to use a stationary bike, Aaron and Vivian the chance to race together, and me the chance to practice my dancing moves.

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We grabbed some burgers for lunch and then headed down to Falls Park for the afternoon. It’s years since Vivian and I visited the park on our one-year anniversary in 2009, and we had much more time to walk around the rocks snapping photos of the falls with the kids. Hannah got a kick out of the foam down at the water’s edge, and she gave us a bit of a scare when she managed to fall into the water, as the foam concealed a steep drop off. Fortunately, she pulled herself out in a matter of seconds before daddy had to jump in after her.

After getting dried off, we walked with the kids some more, playing on and around some of the statuary. We even took a trip to the top of the gift shop’s observation deck to get a better view of the place. I also got the kids a couple souvenirs from downstairs, including a plush buffalo Hannah immediately named “Buffy.”

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We returned to the hotel for a bit to take advantage of the indoor pool for a bit, getting wet with the kids while working up more of an appetite for dinner.

We headed a mile or two up the road to the Crack’d Pot Restaurant & Bakery on Minnesota Avenue, an old school family-style restaurant with wood paneling I remembered from my childhood in the 80s. The kids got some breakfast for dinner while Vivian and I both got the 12 oz. prime rib special with au jus, having our fill after our long day — even before hitting the soup and salad bar (which we learned afterward came with every meal).

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We had breakfast again at the hotel the next day before a long and scenic drive home. We stopped in Sioux City around noon and went by the Sergeant Floyd memorial, which is the burial site of a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition (which you can see prominently from the Interstate).

For lunch, we went to the Tastee Inn & Out, a restaurant I thought was a one-of-a-kind place in Lincoln (and had long since shut down). It’s an old drive-in restaurant with loose meat sandwiches and onion petals — just like I remembered. We took our food down to the Chris Larsen Park and got to walk along the riverfront for a bit, giving Hannah a close-up look and stretching our legs on the playground before hitting the road again.

Then near Little Sioux, we stopped by an old abandoned Citgo gas station I’d seen from the Interstate. It was a creepy place that has been left to deteriorate over a decade or two, and it seemed to serve as the dumping ground for various electronics, such as a microwave, old TVs, and even a TRS-80 (that miraculously was in one piece).

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Then that evening, because we just can’t get enough fun, we went to Jenny’s birthday party out in West Omaha. It was an 80s-themed party, so I assembled some Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man costumes for Vivian and me, as Hannah and Aaron went as a pink Power Ranger and a Red Ninja, respectively. Our kids had some fun playing in the backyard as Vivian and I caught up with our cluster of mutual friends. Then, of course, I got a group photo of everyone before Kody broke out the cake for Jenny.

It was a long, fun weekend, but we’ve still got more happening soon on our way to Halloween. That’s coming up next.


Video highlights from our trip to Sioux Falls

Fourth of July 2021

Happy Independence Day, everybody! We had a long weekend packed with events to help celebrate America’s birthday. which meant food, fireworks, and fun with friends and family all weekend long.

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We kicked things off on Friday night by taking the kids down to Lake Manawa for a couple hours of swimming. The kids brought along a couple pool noodles and had some fun getting wet and splashing mommy and me as the sun slowly went down. We brought along a few snacks, including some cape gooseberries I got from Trader Joe’s, and I even grabbed a bunch of funnel cake fries from the concession stand, where our friend Jolene was working (and selling her mulberry jam).

They lit some tiki torches once it got dark, and then at ten o’clock they lit up the sky with a twenty minute firework show for us. It was doubly impressive with the reflection from the lake, of course, and there were so many fireworks set off independently that it was hard to tell when the show actually started (though the coordinated music on 101.9 The Keg helped).

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The next morning, I got up early for a run and then went to have a pancake breakfast with my folks down at Converge Church.

Then that evening, we gathered with a bunch of our old friends at Jenny and Kody’s house. We hadn’t seen some of these folks in years, and half of them seemed to have kids growing up right before our eyes. We got our fill of party food for the evening, including an American Flag veggie tray made by Vivian, and once the sun went down, we set off a bunch of fireworks in the streets with the kids.

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The next morning, I dropped by the Ralston Parade Route to set down a blanket before we got dressed in our best reds, whites, and blues to go to church on the Fourth of July. Grammy dropped by our house with some star-spangled cupcakes afterward, and I dropped by Walmart with Hannah to get some ice cream treats for tonight.

Then Hannah and I went down to Ralston to see the Independence Day Parade for the first time in a couple years. We got to see the usual batch of politicians — Don Bacon, Pete Ricketts, and Jean Stothert all showing up, as well as gubernatorial candidates Herbster, Pillen, and Lindstrom. Hannah got her fill of candy from passersby, including the parish of our friend Father Marcus. There were also Shriners, clowns, and a few American cosplayers in the crowd, but not as many float as one might expect.

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Then that evening, we were just wondering what to do for dinner when Grammy called and said her neighbor Toni needed help eating a bunch of Fourth of July food she and her husband Tom had made for guests who somehow didn’t show up. We were more than happy to oblige, showing up with the kids to have some smoked brats, ribs, and pulled pork hot off the smoker in their shady front yard. The kids particularly like the rope swing and the play structure (AKA “tree house,” sans tree), while I enjoyed being made in the shade in a reclining lawn chair.

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Then once it started getting dark, we returned to our house to set off some fireworks in our driveway — and apparently the entire neighborhood. I served up ice cream bars and sorbet to all four of our grandparents (and Uncle Jonny), and we all watched as Vivian lit some fountains, sparklers, and artillery shells in the street.

Our neighbors also ignored their own fair share of explosives, including a couple dozen artillery shells all at once as their “grand finale.” It was an explosive end to a weekend that felt very much like a war zone, but a heck of a lot more fun.

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We spent most of Monday recovering of all the fun we had. Hannah and I went on a lovely bike ride through a shady trail in Ralston, going past the old United Seeds grain bin, and then we went on got root beer floats at Dairy Queen. Afterward, we spent some extra quality time with Harold’s mommy Ginny before she had to go home with the Mills.

We had some more fun on Tuesday when I met up with Vivian and the kids at Banner Park after work. We got a little wet together in the spray round, which was lovely after a hot bike ride, and then we had some pizza before trying out a set of Stomp Rockets Vivian got a year or two ago. Then I biked with Hannah on back to my car at Culver’s with Hannah and got her a sundae before returning home.

Happy birthday, America!

Wedding in Iowa Falls

Vivian and I just got finished with a long, enjoyable weekend celebrating the long-expected wedding of our two friends Jenny and Kody up in Iowa Falls. (And it was a weekend spent mostly without the kids — hooray for grown-up time!)

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The long weekend started on Thursday evening, where we took Hannah and Aaron out to a “Throwback Thursday” concert at Loess Fest. Jessica and her housemate Amanda joined us on a blanket as the opening act, Red Delicious, played some 80s cover songs before Journey Recaptured took the stage. I’d heard some rave reviews of this band after they performed at Stinson Park last year, and they were very good. Hannah and Aaron were more interested in playing around on the great lawn, but it was good just to get outside with them before our long trip.

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On Friday morning, Grammy came to watch the kids for the weekend, and Vivian and I headed off to Iowa. We stopped in Des Moines at Zombie Burger, where I ate a mess of fried insanity called Better Off Ched, which included slabs of fried mac and cheese for a bun.

We continued on to Iowa Falls up north, a quaint little town where Kody grew up. We met up with our cluster of friends at Immanuel Lutheran Church for a wedding rehearsal, and we also got to meet the Pastor of the church and Kody’s cluster of groomsmen and family members — including his mom who made everyone lasagna for dinner. Kody and Jenny passed around gifts for the wedding party, which included make-up bags for the ladies and such novelties as driftwood keg tap handles for the guys (OK, one guy).

We finished off the evening grabbing some last-minute items at Walmart as a blazing sunset happened, and then we made use of the AmericInn hot tub as Jenny and Kody told embarrassing stories over beer in the party room.

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The next morning was a blur of getting ready, starting at the Trends hair salon down the street, where the girls all got their hair done. A killed some time snapping pictures of the scenic little town and some geese passing by. The girls continued prepping for the wedding at the church with make-up and curling irons, while the guys basically threw on their suits and called it good. Jenny got to “reveal” her dress to Kody in a painstakingly posed shoot by the photographer before we headed inside for a few hours worth of formal portraits of the bride, groom, and wedding party.

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Eventually, of course, we had the actual wedding ceremony itself. Friends and family members started pouring into the church around three as the bride and groom went into hiding (for selfies). The church was eventually filled up before the wedding procession came down the aisle, ending with the bride and groom. One pastor read some scripture, another delivered a short sermon, and then came the vows, an exchange of rings, lighting of a candle, a pre-recorded song by Kody, and at least three prayers/blessings before there was a sudden and unprompted kiss that concluded the service.

The bride and groom dismissed everyone row-by-row before signing their wedding certificate and making their grand exit of the church to their heavily-decorated (with condoms) getaway car. They also had two bikes strapped to the roof, one of which was a wedding present for Jenny that Kody had presented to her earlier — giving them multiple means of making their getaway.

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Of course, we couldn’t go to the reception without one more photo shoot down at Assembly Park. With the wedding party still dressed and hair all done, we got some photos on the playground, by a bridge, walking down a path, and of course jumping into the air. Kody was a bit preoccupied with getting back to the food, but the rest of us reminded him that this was pretty much the only time ever we’d be getting these snapshots. The barbecued ham could wait a bit.

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Finally came the long and happy reception down at Ellsworth Community College, with cake, cupcakes, dinner, and toasts, all followed up with the standard lineup of Wedding Reception dances — the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, dollar dances, and the Cupid Shuffle. Bouquets and garters were also tossed.

As videographer-by-default, I stuck around until the very end so I could capture the bride and groom taking off when they finally made their exit at 11:30 — after much prompting by me that they could leave the clean-up to everyone else and get on with their wedding night.

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Vivian and I were so tired the next morning that we slept way past the continental breakfast at the Super 8, which ended at nine o’clock. As such, we made our way down to the Red Rooster Grill for some American-style diner food before heading out of town.

We decided to tour the giant Salisbury House in Des Moines with Lisa during the afternoon — the dream house of cosmetics magnate Carl Weeks designed after the King’s House in Salisbury, England. It was a gorgeous house built to suit a true anglophile (with splashes of French decor), and housed amazing pieces of artwork including one of only four Van Dyck paintings by in the United States. It was a lovely day, perfect for wandering the gardens afterward and then having an outdoor dinner at Zombie Burger (again). Lisa came with us to try a trailer trash burger and share a giant basket of blue cheese fries before heading home.

So thus ended a lovely weekend getaway for Vivian and me, full of quality adult time without having to wrangle our two kids. Of course, we did spend some time with them at the park the day after we arrived home. They seemed to miss us. Congratulations, Jenny and Kody, and thanks for giving us an excuse to a have a lovely weekend with you and all of our friends.

Old is new again

Vivian and I are continuing to enjoy our early and extended spring here in Omaha, getting outdoors for walks with Hannah and grilling at home whenever we get the chance.

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On Friday night, Vivian and I dropped by Jitterbugs Night Out with Hannah in tow. I’ve been pleasant surprised at how well Hannah seemed to do with large, noisy crowds of people, and she seemed to enjoy making all sorts of new jitterbug friends with her infectious smile. The dance was held at InCommon on 13th street for reasons unknown, a small non-profit organization located inside a small building with a giant wooden floor that made an an adequate (albeit small) dance space. Vivian and I danced with several of our friends and enjoyed a lively playlist supplied by Jitterbug veteran Billy Sobczyk. I heard compliments all night about his selection of songs, which included old favorites Vivian remembered from her first danced at the Eagles’ Lodge. Sarah also commented that the tiny space at InCommon reminded her of the Beehive Lodge, which was where the Jitterbugs used to dance before moving to 24th and Douglas. Old is new again, I suppose.

Vivian and I jumped into a birthday jam with Debbie before calling it a night, though we did stop by the Donut Stop next door for some completely unnecessary pastries before heading home. If the Jitterbugs get kicked out of the Eagles Lodge again, InCommon would be an ideal backup dance space, particularly with one of our favorite post JNO hangouts right next door.

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On Saturday, Jenny hosted another one of her annual taco parties, though this one had a bit of a twist. Her guest list was shared with her new roommate Libby, so half the people in our group were people we’d never met. By some coincidence Katie and her husband Dan share a bit of work history with Vivian and me. That gave us plenty of things to chat about right off the bat.

After stuffing ourselves with a typical assortment of taco foodstuffs (including Vivian’s kick-butt guacamole), we played a couple hilarious rounds of Telestrations and got good and silly toward the end of the night. We formed a human pyramid for some reason and probably made enough noise to get Jenny in trouble with the neighbors. I supposed after starting a snowball fight in her living room back in 2007, it was still an improvement.

The tradition lives on!