Category Archives: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day & the Zoo

We just finished up a busy Mother’s Day weekend, which meant spending time with both sides of my family with a trip to the Zoo sandwiched in-between.


On Saturday, my dad and I had some quality time hauling a few things down to the dump for Bellevue’s clean-up day in the morning. Then we met up again around lunchtime for some Mother’s Day celebration with my mom. I brought along a gift bag with some candy and a card for her. Then we took her down to the Greek Islands restaurant down on Center Street for lunch. I learned that my mom not only liked Greek food, but that she also hadn’t had it since before I was born — the last time she’d had it was apparently when she and my dad were still in Brazil.

I had a gyro platter and some Greek salad along with some flamingSaganaki” as an appetizer with my parents and brothers.


Then right after lunch, I went with Vivian and the kids down to the Zoo for the afternoon. We used a pass that I’d picked up at the Bellevue Public Library back on April 1 (no fooling), and we wound up spending the entire afternoon down at the Children’s Adventure Trails. It was muggy and around 80 degrees, so it felt good to wade through the cold water and take a trip or two underneath the waterfall. Aaron also ran around the rope bridges a bit (along with the little monkeys) and rolled around on a few of the hills. The kids dropped by the petting zoo halfway through our visit and got to see some goats literally butting heads (competing for treats), and they also got to run through the tunnels to see the prairie dogs before getting more time in the water before the end of our visit.

It was nice to get to stay in just one spot during our visit to the Zoo this time around, particularly since we’re normally trudging around for miles trying to see as many animals as possible. The Children’s Adventure Trails are also only open on weekends now, so it was nice to pay them a visit when we normally wouldn’t be able to.

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Then came Mother’s Day. The kids had made some cards for Vivian a week ago when we were off having pho, so they brought them out and we presented them along with a breakfast burrito I’d made for some breakfast in bed.

They also had some nice gift bags at church that morning for all the women in the congregation, with tea and biscotti and other things for Mom.


Then that evening, Vivian’s dad and I helped put together a Mother’s Day dinner for Vivian and Donna. Jack had some nice surf and turf with porterhouse steaks and shrimp kabobs (actual shrimp on the barbie), while I brought potato salad and a couple pies from Village Inn. The weather went from muggy to cool within a few hours, making for some nice time to lounge around in the yard (after I gave it a mow). And fortunately the rain stayed away so we could eat out on the porch together. The kids got some extra time playing and giving Bella a walk a little later before we headed home.

It was a fun and busy weekend, but it’s time for me to get back for work for a week or two and “recover” before the kids are out of school.

Mother’s Day & Election Daze

It’s been a busy couple of days getting ready for Mother’s Day with the family and covering the lead-up to a primary election on Tuesday.

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During the past week, I worked covertly with the kids to decorate a card for Mommy on a day or two when she was out of the house. I also managed to get a few Mexican treats for Cinco de Mayo, grabbing some tamales for dinner and also getting some Taco Bell for lunch (just to troll the snobs who are all about “authentic” Mexican food).

Then on Saturday, I spent a little time with dad sorting through another bookshelf, finding such treasures as a book of weird old ads. and combing through a folder of papers from my childhood. This included an old paper I’d written in high school that somehow got a 50/50 grade, despite being completely satirical. It gave us all a good laugh, some 27 years after it was written.

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Then on Saturday night, I drove up to the Lindstrom family farm in Oakland, Nebraska to attend a “victory rally” with Brett Lindstrom and his family. Around 75-100 people came by for pulled pork and beef brisket, including family members, friends, and campaign volunteers. Former state senator Paul Schumacher and Oakland Mayor Ted Beckner introduced Dave Rippe, Lindstrom’s running mate, who then introduced the gubernatorial candidate.

After a brief stump speech, guests headed outside for a hay rack ride around the family farm. “Uncle Bob” drove the tractor and pointed out such things as the barn where great grandpa Lindstrom used to milk cows and the center-pivot irrigation system. A little guy got to take a turn driving the tractor around a bit afterward before Lindstrom and Rippe came out to take the hay rack for another ride as the sun went down.


Mother’s Day was particularly busy as I got up early to make some bran muffins for a nice little breakfast in bed for mommy. We went to church together, and then Vivian went to have lunch with her mom as I spent some time putting things together for a Mother’s Day dinner that evening. I made up some red potatoes and Brussels sprouts while warming up a ham, which my dad helped glaze once I took it over to his house.

Around six o’clock, I walked over with the kids as Vivian drove the food down in the CR-V, and we had a big family dinner with my parents and my brothers (and Nathan’s girlfriend Cheryl). Afterward, we had some apple pie for dessert. Hannah made portraits of everyone with my dad’s Changeable Charlie. Then I gave a few gifts to my my mom and Vivian, and Cheryl wound up taking an impromptu family photo before we headed home. Before calling it a night, I had Aaron find the little gift he’d made for Vivian at school earlier in the week, and I found a special gift of cheese I’d been hiding in the fridge.

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Then came Tuesday, which was election day for primary candidates. My polling place moved this year to just up the street from me, so I was able to walk there with Hannah and Aaron before school to give them a glimpse of what voting is all about.

Then that evening, I attended Brett Lindstrom’s election night event down at A View on State in northwest Omaha. I arrived just as Brett and his family arrived (and got a few photos out front), but they stayed “backstage” most of the evening as guests gathered and election results came in. Brett was up about eight thousand votes to start, but that gap closed quickly as Pillen and Herbster caught up and took first and second place, respectively. It was a lively crowd for the most part, despite the disappointing end. I also got to see Brett’s mom and dad again as they watched their son give a teary-eyed concession speech. I stuck around until the very end so I could shake Brett’s hand and tell him that he did well. If he had to lose, he lost with dignity — and not covered in mud.

Together Again

It’s been a busy couple of days preparing for Mother’s Day at our house — a gathering that included all four grandparents and Uncle Jonny, which hasn’t happened since before the pandemic.


On Sunday, I got up bright and early to put together some eggs benedict for breakfast, which I served up with the kids before getting them ready for church. Then we went to Wildewood Church together, which has some special things for all the moms in the congregation. There were some fancy little cupcakes in the foyer for the moms to take with them down to the café to enjoy, and the kids in Sunday School made a couple charcuterie trays, all decorated with Happy Mother’s Day messages.


That afternoon I stayed busy getting everything ready for our big family meal together, as well as a table of snacks beforehand. I prepared two legs of lamb, which I seasoned and roasted, followed by a tossed salad, potatoes and vegetables (that Jack and I prepared), and some chocolate liqueur cake for dessert.

We had some fun afterward passing around the Story Elf that the kids got for Christmas. Then we broke out a few presents in the living room. Vivian gave her mom a basket of goodies, and I got my mom a basket with her favorite candy inside. I also had a handful of cheese and chocolates for Vivian, which included a block of Limburger, which Hannah got a whiff of (and said it smelled like poop). The kids also had a painting they painted together, which I helped them do when Mommy was out of the house earlier this week. Aaron also made a story about Mommy while at school, which he got to show her at the end of the day.

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Vivian also got her mom and mine some tomato plants for their gardens. Then on Tuesday, she went over to my parents’ house with Hannah to help and get them planted — giving her a little horticultural education in the process.

In other news, Aaron has dubbed his plush hedgehog “Chippy” and pretends to feed him Doritos. Hannah has also been giving her own toys rides up and down the street via a sleigh fashioned from a plastic sled and a tricycle.

Fireworks and Mother’s Day

It’s been another strangely busy week, mostly preparing for Mother’s Day along with another bike ride to work and making a giant batch of ceviche on the heels of Taco Tuesday.


We had some lovely weather on Saturday, which I spent mowing the lawn, tilling the garden, and letting the guinea pig roam in the freshly-cut grass.

Then that evening we packed up the kids with a batch of blankets and headed back to Werner Park to see some more fireworks. This show was specifically for the graduating class of 2020, many of whom showed up in their cars decorated for the event, some even wearing caps and gowns. We weren’t allowed to park on the picturesque grass this go-around either, so we crowded onto the west side of the park, which was muddy and apparently under construction. We got McDonald’s for dinner and kept the kids amused with a tablet before the show started. We had some low-hanging clouds and some massive wind, but neither disrupted the show, which lasted about ten minutes. Most of all, it was nice to have something to do as the great pandemic of 2020 starts winding down.


Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I got Vivian up with the kids for a breakfast of Coconut Toast and coffee (and a tiny pot of roses). We had church again in our living room, and today’s service featured various people thanking their moms in a video that preceded the worship service (ones of me and the kids included of course). Donna came by afterward with some treats for Vivian and a bouquet of flowers from her garden. Then Vivian followed Donna back to her house with some presents of her own. I got my mom a carton of her favorite ice cream, which I left on her doorstep before giving her a Happy Mother’s Day greeting (via Zoom) back at the house.

Vivian had some more presents of her own, which I’d tucked into a canvas bag that I’d let the kids decorate a few days earlier. Then I made up a fancy dinner of ahi tuna steaks, fettuccine alfredo, and roasted Brussels sprouts. I also baked up a chocolate liqueur cake for dessert, which was delicious and way too easy to make (so I’ll have to do it again).

Happy Mother’s Day, all you mothers out there!

Mother’s Day Weekend

So Spring is still here, which this year is including far more not-blistering-hot and not-still-snowing days than last year. It also seems to include far more birthdays, for reasons I can’t fully understand.


We kicked off the weekend last week with a trip down to Stinson Park with the kids after work. We mostly avoided the Heart Walk preparations, which were happening at the same time. Our friend Ryan was in charge of that, so Tamra brought Quinn (and grandpa) down while that happened.

Our kids got in some quality swing time and running around, and I tried unsuccessfully once again to introduce them to dim sum for dinner. Hannah seemed to like the Vietnamese spring rolls, but Aaron only wanted the fortune cookies.


The next day, our friend Kate celebrated all three of her girls’ birthdays simultaneously down at the Armbrust YMCA. We got to have cake and ice cream with a veritable herd of other little ones running around (and getting sugared up). Then we managed to fill an Olympic-sized pool for an hour splashing around together with mommies, daddies, and siblings.


This year, Vivian and I decided to split Mother’s Day between our two respective moms, which meant I took my folks out to dinner at Roma’s on Fort Crook. It was a decent family-style restaurant just down the street from us with giant portions of Italian-American standards, like the chicken parmigiana, which I had (and bread rolls). Vivian stayed home with the kids, negating the need for a babysitter and giving me some rare one-on-one time with the folks.


The next day, of course, was Mother’s Day. After church, Vivian and her mom spent the afternoon together shopping at both the World Market and the Old Market (no relation).

I stayed home with the kids, helping them prepare a homemade Mother’s Day card for mommy, which included one from Zoey. Jack was busy making some ribs and potatoes for dinner, and I contributed with some roasted broccoli and my first-ever loaf of homemade bread. I had to scramble to find a recipe that didn’t require five hours of “proving” to have it ready in time, but it turned out surprisingly well, with a nice, hard crust that I knew Vivian liked. We ate together with the kids and then let mommy open a few of her Mother’s Day presents before breaking out the chocolate cream pie Grammy brought with her.


The next day, we had a belated birthday party for our little friend August. A cluster of his little friends (and their moms) gathered at the reclusive Twin Ridge Park II between Ft. Crook and Highway 75. The kids had fun spinning on the merry-go-round before and after getting sugared up with a tasty camping cake, courtesy of Donna. I stayed long enough to get a few pictures and then went to tear up our garden at home in preparation for a season of home-grown tomatoes (and other produce, probably).

Mother’s Day Traditions


I just got done with a very busy weekend celebrating my three favorite moms in the whole wide world. I took Friday off so we could start the weekend with a new Mother’s Day tradition: touring the Lauritzen Gardens (for free). Grammy came along with us as we let the kids run around looking at the tulips, peonies, and lilac in bloom. We made the usual stops at the waterfall, the Victorian Garden, and the trains, of course. We spent some extra time at children’s area to check out some tee-pees (under construction) and sample some mint. We also walked to Mount Fuji together as a family.

We finished off the visit by looking at some colorful recycled plastic sculpture inside, which seemed to be a theme running throughout the gardens today. There weer also some bees, and Hannah made a bean sprout necklace before we left.


Sunday was Mother’s Day, of course, so the kids and I woke up mom bright and early with some cups and cards they’d decorated along with some breakfast in bed. We went to church together, and then I spent the afternoon doing a bit of cooking for the big evening meal. I made some crab dip as an appetizer, some chocolate liqueur cake for dessert, and some potato salad to go with the burger and hot dogs Jack was bringing in-between. We had all four grandparents over later in the afternoon, including Uncle Jonny (who’d also watched the kids for us on Saturday so we could tidy up). We opened a few presents in-between hors d’oeuvres and dinner, and then I grilled up our burgers and hot dogs. We were fairly stuffed before it was all done, as usual.

In other news, Hannah lost two teeth in the past few days. Our little girl is growing up too fast.

Mother’s Day 2017


Mother’s Day was this weekend, so the kids and I got to spend some extra time showing the three moms in our lives how much they mean to us (which involved making cards and lots and lots of food, of course).

We first had a bit of fun on Friday as Kate celebrated a three-way birthday with her three girls at the YMCA in Milliard. The kids hot all sugared up and then we spent some quality time in the pool before heading home.


Then on Sunday, the kids and I got mommy up for a French Toast breakfast that featured flowers, cards that Hannah, Aaron, (and daddy) decorated themselves, and a poster of a flower made of Hannah’s hand-prints, which she made in preschool (and somehow kept a secret).

We headed off to church together, where Vivian and all the moms got some flowers for the day, and then we returned home with Grammy and Pop-Pop, where I made some ceviche for lunch. I’d never before attempted to make this cold, Mexican dish made of raw fish and lime juice, but it’s one of Vivian’s favorites foods, so I thought it was worth a figuring out, and I think it turned out all right. Grammy brought along some Flan for dessert, and then both moms got to open a few baskets of presents together on the couch.


As soon as I got finished putting away lunch, I turned right around and started on dinner to take to my mom’s house. I assembled a fairly simple chicken alfredo pasta bake (garnished with parsley, per “Tasty’s” specs on their videos). I also put together a pie made with strawberries and rhubarb. It turned out quite a bit more soupy than I’d hoped, but it was my first pie of this magnitude, so it really was a learning experience. We ate together with the kids, and I played some video games with my brothers as the kids burned off some steam outside. My mom also got to open a few presents, which consisted mostly of nuts and candy.

It was a lovely weekend, though I was left kind of exhausted on Monday morning. That didn’t stop me from biking to work, however. The weather has gone from stormy to sweltering to gorgeous within the span of an eye-blink, so that means getting outside whenever it’s possible. Hannah got to enjoy some of that on Tuesday playing in the mud at Mud Pies before her last-ever day of Preschool. She’s growing up so fast!

Hannah’s Preschool Years: Sept. 1 2015 – May 17, 2017
She’s growing up too fast!

Three-Day Mother’s Day Weekend


The Johnson Family had a lovely (and busy) little three-day weekend together, starting things off on Friday with a trip to Lauritzen Gardens. Once again it was free for National Public Gardens Day, so we went to see what blooms were out with my mom and dad and the Mills family in tow. There weren’t quite as many blooms out this year, but we had a nice time looking at the model trains, tasting some mint, and keeping the kids from drowning in the surprisingly deep fountain in the children’s area. Hannah and Aaron also got some quality time with their little friends as mommy visited with Lexi and daddy took pictures of the happy blooms that poked out to endure the sunny, 85-degree weather.

Donald Trump was also in town, but we decided not to spend all afternoon crammed into a giant hangar waiting for him to make an appearance.


On Saturday morning, we made our annual trip to South Omaha for the Cinco de Mayo parade. It featured the usual batch of politicians, costumers, native dancers, and lassoing gauchos with the dancing horses right behind. Hannah’s attended the parade every year of her life, so it felt good to keep up the tradition. She seemed far more interested in playing with her new toy balloon than competing with all the other kids for candy, however. Aunt Jessica joined us at our spot in front of South High School to snap some pictures, and then we had some burritos from Abelardo’s for lunch afterward.

That evening, I did some yard work in preparation for Mother’s Day, and the kids were nice enough to help. I also ran some errands wearing my new Mexican flag style t-shirt, prompting at least one Hispanic to ask me, “¿Mexicano?” Just for today, mi amigo.


Sunday, of course, was Mother’s Day. At church, Pastor Ryan had a lovely little Mother’s Day tribute video prepared to honor all the moms in attendance (as well as some Dove chocolate). Then at home, I baked some quiche for a brunch as mommy opened presents from Hannah and Aaron, which were wrapped in their own scribbled decorations. Grammy got a flower pot with Hannah and Aaron’s footprints on it, and Vivian got her usual gift bag of smelly cheese (among other things).

Then at dinnertime, we took the kids to grandma and grandpa Johnson’s house, where Hannah learned she and my mom have an affinity for black licorice. My dad smoked up some pork ribs for dinner, and both my brothers were there to eat with us. Dad and Aaron played with puppets, and I got to read a story or two, and then after dinner we watched a slideshow with family pictures dating back to our time in Kentwood.

I also got to show everyone a special video I’d made for Vivian featuring our two kids. You can see that below.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Botanical Gardens and Mother’s Day


On Friday, admission to the Lauritzen Gardens was free in honor of National Public Gardens Day, so I took the entire day off so I could have a day enjoying some flora with the family. There were a bunch of peonies and roses already in bloom, as well as plenty of tulips, some fragrant lilacs, and multiple family photo opportunities. We met up with Lexi and her kids in the Children’s Area, where our gaggle of youngsters were able to play on some stumps, taste some mint, climb on a dinosaur, roll a composter, and explore a tiny cabin together. It was the perfect spot for a handful of cute pictures before taking a quick peek at Mount Fuji before heading on.

Back at the entryway, we bumped into the Rietjens and got to check out the koi pond and the giant conservatory before calling it a day. The enormous greenhouse-like structure had been built sometime during the last year, and it was now home to loads of tropical plants that could never survive a Nebraska winter — palm trees, kumquats, pitcher plants, a shrimp plant, any number of palm trees, and even little sprigs that soak moisture out of the insanely hot and humid weather inside this place. We walked all the way through up to the Tiki thing at the top before collapsing and calling it a day.

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On Saturday, we had breakfast at my parents house with our kids and my two brothers. My dad had been wanting to recreate the “eat eggs and watch MST3K” we experienced while in college, but instead of Movie Sign we got to watch Hannah try to play the harmonica. We’d gotten to see Mike and the “Bots” tackle The Room via RiffTrax Live on Wednesday, so we got our fill of riffing already. I did, however, get to roll my Ford Taurus over the 200k mark, which was fantastic. I have some smug family who work for Toyota who said it’d never make it past 100. (By the way, how’s that unintended acceleration working out for you?)

Vivian went off to do girly things at Jenny’s bridal shower, such as pinning the goatee on the Kody. I had a busy afternoon with the kids putting together a nice little set of hand and footprints of our little ones as a Mother’s Day present for Vivian. It was a bit crazy, because I realized only too late that the ink pad was permanent, despite having a kid-friendly name like “Silly Winks.”


Sunday, of course, was Mother’s Day, so I treated Vivian to some breakfast pizza before going to church. Aaron got to learn how to climb stairs in-between being passed around, and Hannah got to have a tea party with Rachel — a quintessential “little girl” moment, if ever there was one.

Both moms (and dads and Uncle Jonny) came to our house afterward for a Mother’s Day lunch of grilled hamburgers. We all juggled a handful of tasks, with the dads managing the grill, Uncle Jonny setting the table, and me figuring out just about everything else before we ate. It was a lovely afternoon, particularly because the severe weather that had been predicted mostly passed us by. I had been anticipating an event like last year, with tornado sirens that sent us and our ice cream cake into the basement for an hour or so.

In other news, Aaron is 11 months old, and as adorable as ever.

Lauritzen Gardens

Flower Gardens and Mother’s Day

It’s Springtime, and the living is busy! Vivian’s old friends Sherry and Rob are in town again trying to fix up and sell their house, so we had them (and Jack) over for dinner on Thursday night, which gave me an excuse to whip up a double batch of chicken alfredo, which we ate while catching up. Rob showed me a bunch of his nature photography and snapped a new family portrait for us before we put Hannah off to bed.


On Friday, Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens had free admission for National Public Gardens Day, so of course we had to drop by and take advantage. Grandma and Grandpa Johnson came along with us to sniff around in the Victorian Garden, and Hannah got to check out some peonies, lilacs, and many other fragrant blooms that were on hand (no roses yet, though). Hannah also stumbled upon a children’s area with a wood cabin and a cluster of mint that she and other children were able to taste (according to the sign). It was perfect weather for a nice long walk in the gardens and there were plenty of other people on hand taking advantage of it.

That evening, Jack dropped by to babysit Hannah as Vivian and I went off to set up at Jitterbugs Night Out again. We had another large crowd for the beginner’s lesson, though we wound up calling it a night before doing much dancing. I hate to admit it, but I’m either old, out of shape, or both. (Or maybe I just need new shoes.)


Saturday was a busy day full of mowing lawns (namely my parents’), buying furniture (a new dresser for Hannah), and buying groceries (for Mother’s Day). Sunday was a quiet day at church as more and more people seem to be out of town, but we still had lovely Mother’s Day flowers for all the moms in attendance. I spent a good portion of the afternoon trying out some recipes for fruit salad, honey-lime chicken, and coconut lime rice for a Mother’s Day dinner. My parents and Jack dropped by to eat with us, and as soon we were finished, the tornado sirens went off. There was apparently a serious storm rolling through, but we didn’t get much more than lightning and rain as it passed. We did stay in the basement for a while watching the weather report and having ice cream cake. We also had a few gift baskets with goodies for my mom and for Vivian. Hannah and I spent Wednesday evening painting a ceramic mug, which Hannah really seemed to enjoy.
Happy Mother’s Day!