Category Archives: Fun Plex

Gretna Daze, Museum, and Fun-Plex

We had some massively hot weather toward the end of July, broken up with a storm that cooled things off just in time for some fun outdoors (and some politicking).


On Saturday, Hannah and I drove out west to walk with the Bacon Brigade in the Gretna Days parade. Our crew was nestled in with a few other folksBrett Lindstrom, the Sarpy County GOP, and then Charles Herbster’s crew bringing up the rear. Hannah got to hand out candy, as she did for Ben Sasse back in 2019, and she was quite happy to hand out fruit chews to kids all along the street.

I walked along mostly taking pictures of everyone else, but one lady from Team Herbster offered to snap a photo of Hannah and me during a lull in the parade, which was nice. It’s very rare I get photos of myself during events like this!


Afterward, we met up with the Simpsons at Peterson Park to let the kids run around a bit, have a little lunch and some time snapping random family photos of them on the playground (wearing “I Heart Taiwan” T-shirts).

Some folks from “Gabriel’s Angels” was putting on a kiddie tractor pull, and Hannah was brave enough to give it a try. She didn’t place well enough to make State, but I was very impressed that she was filling to jump into the competition all on her own.


Vivian and Aaron joined us before long, and then we all spent the afternoon at the little carnival just off Highway 6 for much of the afternoon. We got some giant corn dogs (which seriously impressed Aaron) and then checked out a few of the rides, including the Go-Gator, some little shooting planes, the bounce house, and the Jungle Fun obstacle course.

Hannah and I also went on the “Hurricanetogether, which was one of those dizzy rides that doesn’t quite sit well after having a giant corn dog, but she handled it like a champ. I also went with her, and Vivian reminded me to sit on the outside eat so I wouldn’t crush Hannah with centrifugal force.


Then on Sunday, we took the kids down to Ted & Wally’s to have some ice cream to celebrate them both finishing their Sunday School classes for the year. I helped Grammy do a few chores afterward, hauling some sand, bricks, and mulch home from Menards and laying them out in her yard.

Then that evening, we took a trip the Omaha Children’s Museum, a place we hadn’t visited since December of 2019. They had a game-themed exhibit upstairs with a few games and balls, but much everything else was just as we remembered — the auto repair zone, the ball area with pneumatic tubes, play grocery store, and the water area. Our friends the Mills were there as well, so Aaron had some quality time with August racing Pinewood derby cars, while Hannah got a bit artistic, painting Mommy’s face and creating a paper bag puppet of ME, which was very sweet.


And then on Monday, because we weren’t exhausted enough, we decided to take the kids to a late-afternoon trip to Fun-Plex before the end of summer! Hannah was finally tall enough to go on the big water slides with us, so Vivian and I got to share that experience with her. Aaron still had fun on the smaller watersides, going down multiple times on his own before hitting the lazy river and wave pool. The kids also hit the sweet spot for the rides, short enough for the Go-Gator, the little cars, and the planes, but now tall enough to ride go karts and the Bumper Boats with Vivian and me. We got a selfie in the hot air balloon and then got the kids some ice cream and cookies before calling it a day.

I’ve got a little more politicking going on this week before I take a trip to Cedar Rapids for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. She was the flower girl in my own wedding, so it will be nice to be able to see her on the other side of the aisle after 13 years or so.

Waning wet days of summer

We’ve had a week or so to recover from our camping trip, but we’re quickly transitioning into another school year in the process. Aaron will be spending his pre-Kindergarten year sharing home-school activities with Hannah and doing some other work to prepare him for the possibility of full-time public school. Hannah’s also got her home-school class lined up and just got to meet her new teacher with classes nearly ready to start.


In the meantime, Vivian was brave enough to leave me alone with the kids over the weekend as she went off to a B&B with her lady friends for a girls-only weekend. I took the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house over the weekend to mow their lawn and have some burgers for lunch. We also played some Pictionary-style games on Uncle Jonny’s Nintendo Switch, which even Hannah was able to participate in.


Then on Wednesday, I dropped by Barley’s in Council Bluffs to see Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, one of about five hundred Democrats currently running for President. His brief stump speech was more criticism of Trump than talk of actual policy, though he only briefly touched on overturning Citizens United, which seemed to get the most response from the crowd (aside from a brief mention of Congressman Steve King).

Bennet was probably the most punctual candidate I’ve seen so far, starting and stopping nearly to the second between noon and one. He stuck around for fifteen minutes afterward meeting and greeting guests, and even signing autographs for one super fan, who had a gift for him from Nebraska.


With summer winding quickly down, Vivian and I decided to have one last rendezvous at the park before they shut off the fountains for the winter. There were far fewer kids with school back in session, so we had the place almost to ourselves. After a quick bite and a swing, Hannah and Aaron had a good run getting wet around the spire through the water. I forgot to bring my trunks, but that didn’t stop me from rolling up my pant legs and joining them for a bit as well.


Then after work, I joined the kids for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Fun Plex. The Omaha water park is only open for a few more days, and they had a deep discount for guests this week only before shutting down for the season, so we dropped by with the kids to take advantage of it. After getting a bit wet in the children’s area, we took the kids for some floating in the giant wave pool and then along the lazy river. They both had the most fun over on the water slides, of course, and both Hannah and Aaron went down on their own this time around, which was something of a milestone.

We had just a couple of hours to enjoy ourselves before heading home, grabbing some Krispy Krunchy Chicken for dinner at the corner of 36th and Chandler. The place was highly recommended by my dad and was much better than you may expect coming from a gas station.

Fun at Fun Plex

11 years

Welcome to Hell’s Front Porch, also known as Nebraska in late July! We just finished up a beautiful weekend that ended with a cold front finally moving in to relieve us from near triple-digit temperatures, but we still found ways to have fun in the heat!


On Thursday night, we took the kids down to B&B Grill and Arcade for one last evening of hot dogs and games before they closed forever. It’s a unique place where you can get a foot-long with mac & cheese or fried pickles — drawing on the chalkboard tables while you wait. We got our fill of greasy appetizers as well and then played a handful of games, including skee-ball, a racing game, whack-a-frog, and a touch screen ticket swiping game — the last of which earned enough tickets for a few teeny tiny prizes. I also got a commemorative glass before we headed out.


The next day, Vivian and I spent a hot, steamy afternoon at Fun Plex. They’d put in a few set of “Rockin’ Rapidswater slides that we had yet to try out, which proved to me relatively calm compared to the near abusiveTyphoon Falls” (the left side of which I can never get down without being flipped over completely). We spent a little more time in the wave pool, particularly trying to get an underwater selfie with our new waterproof camera, and we also spent time on a few rides — bumper boats, bumper cars, and go-carts — having fun like kids again.

We spent most of our time in the water, though. Not having the kids meant we could even imbibe in a piña colada at the adults-only bar — which is the only way to spend time outside when it’s nearly 100 degrees


Once we’d had enough of Fun Plex, we headed on up to Dave & Buster’s for some food and games. We arrived in time for Happy Hour with some drinks and appetizers, and then I got a plate of steak and pasta, which included some lobster sauce — commemorating our honeymoon in Maine once again. After that, we made use of a Living Social deal for unlimited games, getting our fill or racing games and even some old-school Ms. Pac Man (always my favorite) before the evening was done.

Of course, no anniversary would be complete without one of my annual Anniversary Comics, celebrating in ink all the fun we’d had over the past year. I gave this year’s to Vivian once we got home — now we just have to find a place to hang it up.


It was still steamy and hot on Saturday, so we took the kids down to spend the afternoon at Louisville Lake. The water was mostly lukewarm, but it felt good to cool off and play with some of our water squirters for the afternoon. We even got ice cream sandwiches for a snack halfway through.

It was nice to get some time in at the lake before a line of thunderstorms rolled through, pushing temperatures down to the 70s. We’ll probably make our way back there at least one more time this season — hopefully before the snow starts.

Eclipse Talk and Fun Plex

Summer’s quickly cooled down, making for lovely weather to take the kids down to Sandy Park to play outside or have dinner out on the deck at home. There’s also been rain off and on, but our kids still manage to have fun even indoors.


If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a total eclipse of the sun coming up on August 21. Vivian and I plan to brave the crowd and traffic and head to Beatrice (AKA “Ground Zero”) to catch a glimpse of it.

The Fontenelle Nature Center had a fireside chat at Camp Brewster on Friday to tell the little ones all about the eclipse with a demonstration using balloons (Hannah got to be the sun), eclipse glasses for us to try out, and a reading of the story “Someone Is Eating the Sun.” Hannah and Aaron seemed a bit more interested in climbing on trees and a fence to look at the view of the river, but I hope in a week or two they’ll want to catch a glimpse of an eclipse as well (with the glasses, of course).

On Sunday, I returned to the Nature Center to hear a few guys from Rockbrook Camera give a brief talk on eclipse photography. I learned that I could get a paper solar filter for a little less than the $150 products I’d seen in my dad’s photography catalog, so I went ahead and ordered one so I could get a snapshot of a few phases other than “totality.”


Then on Wednesday, I took the day off so we could take our kids to Fun Plex for the very first time. I’d visited the park with Vivian twice before, but this was the first time we’d made use of the kids’ attractions. Hannah and Aaron got to ride the merry-go-round, the cars, the planes, the train, and the alligator roller coaster multiple times throughout the day. They were both also tall enough to ride the bumper boats with mommy and daddy as we tried puttering about and squirting each other with water, and we all went up in the balloon ferris wheel as a family. There had been rain in the forecast that fortunately passed us by, leaving us free to enjoy getting wet at the water park as well. The kids spent most of their time in the kiddie pool or sliding around the new Makana Splash area.

We took a lunch break across the street at Dairy Queen before coming back for more water and rides. Mommy and daddy even got time to try some “adult” things as well, doing the roller coaster, cars, and big water slide at least once before calling it a day.

Summer’s Last Hurrah

Is September here already? The summer is winding down fast, but that means plenty of cool fall days ahead, with each weekend jam-packed with autumnal fun for the family.


On Labor Day, we took the kids over to Vivian’s parents’ house for a lovely dinner out on the patio. It was the first time Aaron has come along to one of our porch-side dinners over there, so he got to chill as Jack grilled flatiron steaks and potatoes for us and Hannah got reacquainted with her chalkboard.

Then on Wednesday, I got to celebrate one last bit of my birthday with my folks at — Johnny’s Cafe. For the past decade, they’ve had to celebrate my birthday remotely from North Carolina, so it was wonderful to be able to actually have dinner with them at my favorite restaurant in Omaha (with rib-eye steaks, of course).


On Saturday, Vivian and I had a kind of mid-birthday fling at Fun Plex in Omaha. They had a two-for-one Groupon to mark the end of the season, and since Vivian hadn’t had the chance to go swimming since having Aaron back in June, we figured it was as good an excuse as any to go get wet for an afternoon. We spent time in the wave pool, the lazy river, bumper boats, and of course the water slides, which were much more violent than I remember. Jack and Donna were nice enough to watch the kids for us, but I immediately regretted not bringing Hannah, who’s old enough now the enjoy the half of the park designated for the little ones. Maybe next year.


That evening, to say thanks to watching Hannah during the afternoon, we took Donna out to a Balloon Glow at Ditmars Orchard. It was a much more popular event than I expected, with multiple fields full of cars and the lawn crammed with people (and their cameras) checking out the lineup of fully-inflated hot air balloons parks and firing off for our amusement. We rode a hayrack over from the parking lot field and were fortunate enough to find a spot at a picnic table (since we’d forgotten to bring our lawn chairs). Hannah stared in awe at the balloons, and Vivian got us some apple cider donuts as the sun went down. There was live music from the Travelin Light band, and I got to dance a bit with both Vivian and Hannah on the grass. Our little girl was a very good follow (for a two-year old).


On Sunday, Hannah got to spend the afternoon at the Kuehmichel house celebrating Ellie’s third birthday. She had fun running around with all the other little girls (and a few boys), particularly seeing how many of them could fit on a rocker sitting in the yard.

Then on Monday, Mom and Hannah came back to the park for a lunchtime with daddy (which of course included cupcakes). Hannah got to take a shot at the Big Girl Swing and then got a quick run through the fountains. The weather’s turned decided not-too-hot-or-cold, which means getting a little wet outside is still a possibility.

In other news, Aaron loves his ExerSaucer.

Four Years and a Fruit Bouquet

P1130644 P1130610

On Thursday last week, I celebrated four wonderful years of marriage with my lovely wife, Vivian! We stayed in Omaha this time around, but I took the afternoon off work and Vivian recruited her mom and dad as babysitters so we could spend the afternoon at Fun Plex together. Vivian did manage to surprise me with a lovely fruit bouquet, which arrived in the morning at the office. I enjoyed showing off the arrangement of carved pineapples and chocolate-covered strawberries and apples to all my co-workers before leaving for the day.

It’s been excruciatingly hot and dry here in the pit of Death Valley, Nebraska, which is typical for July, so spending the day at a water park sounded as good as it did last year and the year before. Fun Plex was having a special where we could visit both the water park and the rides at the large amusement complex for the same price. That meant in addition to lounging in the lazy river, the wave pool, and shooting down a couple water slides, we also got to play on some bumper boats, putter around in race cars, and fly around in the roller coaster (which I did twice, since there was no line).

After a long, fun afternoon, we headed over to Red Lobster for a gigantic dinner together. We also exchanged gifts. Vivian got me some lovely linens, and I got her a couple books. I also presented her with my traditional gift of a cartoon illustration featuring highlights of our fourth years of marriage together.

After dinner, we dropped by the Rave Theater to see Pixar’s Brave, which was all right. We got done just as the kids were wandering in to see the midnight showing of the third Batman movie, and I almost wished we’d stayed to see that. Unfortunately, I had to work in the morning.

IMG_7685 IMG_7716

That weekend we celebrated Donna’s birthday at our house. Vivian made some delicious quiche and fruit salad, which we ate at our house for brunch before opening presents.

That evening, our friends Phil and Jen were hosting another “Ingredient Party.” I decided not to be as “offal” as I was last time and simply brought some ground turkey, coleslaw, and bread. They managed to turn it into a tasty pad thai stir fry, beet coleslaw, and bread pudding with the help of our mutual friends Lisa, Kristen, her boyfriend, and Phil’s sister. We ate and spent the evening laughing at Monty Python, Spaceballs, and Top Secret. It was as fun as Skeet Surfin, but time seemed to pass with ludicrous speed, and we had to head home to get Hannah in bed at a semi-reasonable hour. She did seem to enjoy watching Monty Python when she wasn’t banging around with her rings, but she needed her beauty sleep before her eight-month photo shoot, which we had the next day in our front yard.

The big 2^5


It’s that time of year again. I’m a year older now (the big two-to-the-power-of-five, for the mathematically inclined), and I had a wonderful weekend to celebrate it with both friends and family (thanks primarily to Vivian, who had a weekend full of wonderful surprises in store for me!) We kicked the weekend off, naturally, at the Eagle’s Lodge at 24th and Douglas, mostly for the giant group of birthday jams we held, one of which was mine. I’d had a fairly light dinner and saved my appetite for Village Inn afterward, which proved to be a sleepily goofy night as always.

P1090479.JPG P1090424.JPG

Vivian had kept the details of my birthday weekend something of a surprise, which was just fine by me. We started the afternoon off at Fun Plex, a small amusement park in mid-town Omaha that I was surprised to learn had its own miniature version of Oceans of Fun in the middle of it. I had a great time with Eric, Jon, Jenny, and Kristen and Gabe as we made use of the wave pool, the “lazy” river, and the water slides. The slides were especially fun, both because there was practically no waiting at the top, and because they were significantly faster that the ones available at Oceans of Fun. I found myself flipped around a number of times and went airborne more than once. Of course, I made full use of our waterproof camera, snapping as many photos and video as the battery would allow.

Birthday dinner at Johnny's Cafe P1090527.JPG

After working up an appetite at the water park all afternoon, we went out to dinner at Johnny’s Cafe out in South Omaha. Johnny’s is something of a fixture in old Cow Town, having a long history sitting next to the old stockyards and even being featured in the film About Schmidt. (There’s a big photo of Jack Nicholson in the foyer, just to remind everyone.) We were joined with a dozen of our friends and Vivian’s parents to enjoy some delicious steak and onion rings together before heading home for cake and ice cream.

P1090574.JPG P1090577.JPG

Back at the house, we had some carrot cake and blueberry pie Donna had made with a crust made with vodka to give it an usual texture. We also some scrumptious homemade peanut butter ice cream courtesy of Vivian with a whole buffet of toppings to go along with it. I opened presents and a few cards before gathering with everyone in the basement to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000: the Movie. I’d seen it a couple times before, but it’s always fun to watch again, especially with people who’ve never seen it before. About half the crowd stuck around to watch the “encore” episode of Pod People, courtesy of my brother Jonathan who dropped by to join the party. We stayed up until well after midnight once the movie was done, wrapping up the evening with unspeakable acts of gross with whipped cream (which wasn’t quite as naughty as it sounds).

P1090616.JPG P1090619.JPG

On Sunday (my birthday), I went to Lincoln and dropped by Northpointe Community Church, my old place of worship several years ago. They had a new building out in Northwest Lincoln, and I was glad to be able to visit it. There were only a handful of people I recognized from the old days, but it was good to say hello and catch up with them before heading out. We spent the afternoon with Nathan and Ranae, who gave me a copy of Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis. It proved to be a very unusual graphic novel, and considering the explicit nature of most of Crumb’s works, I was quite surprised to see that he’d illustrated the first book of the bible entirely “straight.” It should prove to be a very interesting read (even more so than Fritz the Cat). The five of us went to lunch at the Engine House Cafe in Havelock, one of my favorite little restaurants, and then went to the 20 Grand to watch Vampires Suck. I probably wouldn’t have picked that movie on my own, but it turned out to be much funnier than I expected (probably because I’ve sat through all three of the Twilight films so far and could appreciate all the gags). We played a few video games in the lobby before heading home, and then I got to wrap up the day opening a few more presents. I got copies of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and Seth Godin’s Linchpin courtesy of my parents, an iTunes Gift Card and an audio book of Ben Stein’s How to Ruin Your Life courtesy of Jonathan (among other things I’ll have to share later), and a bottle of Glenlivet and an AC/DC adapter from Vivian. Needless to say, I was quite the happy birthday boy. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, certainly the best in recent memory, and I had a wonderful time with the dozens of wonderful friends and family who came to share the weekend with us. I feel blessed every day I’m with Vivian, but this weekend made me feel more blessed that I could imagine. I love you, sweetie! You’ve made me very happy to have been born.