Category Archives: Politics

Splashing, Bouncing, and Grammy’s Birthday

It’s been a busy week post-blackout having some summer fun with the kids and spending extra time with both sets of grandparents.

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On Tuesday, I pedaled down to Seymour Smith Park to have lunch with Vivian and the kids and get a little wet at the splash pad. We like to visit this little splash pad at least once every summer, and its proximity to the Keystone Trail means it’s just a quick bike ride from my office down to the park. It was a particularly refreshing way for me to spend a lunch break (though it hasn’t helped my farmer’s tan at all).

In the meantime, Jack and Donna remained without power nearly all week, which meant Jack’s been spending the night with us to plug in his oxygen. We also got to help use up some of the thawed food from their freezer. That involves Jack and Vivian frying up tilapia, scallops, shrimp for us to eat. It’s a sacrifice, but I’ll do my part.

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Then on Thursday, with the last election season barely over, we kicked off a new one as State Senator Brett Lindstrom officially announced his bid for governor. I’d bumped into him numerous times recently as the Walk for Life and the Ralston Parade, and several of my mutual Republican friends have already hopped aboard his campaign.

I was able to bring along our friends the Folkens to say hello and ask a few questions of the candidate after his stump speech, and I spent much of the evening snapping photos and rubbing elbows with several members of the Lindstrom family (and the fake news media). One of the nicest things about Nebraska is how easy it is to get close to the folks running for office like this — something I try not to take for granted.

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In other news, I’ve been riding my bike every chance I get, going to and from work and getting  to see mist over the prairie grass as the sun rises.

I also got some extra exercise at lunch on Friday when Vivian took the kids to Altitude for some quality time bouncing around together. We even got in a game of dodgeball, which was immensely fun for me, as it was the only sport I like playing back in elementary school and I hadn’t had the chance to play in over a decade.

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On Saturday, I got to spend a little quality time with my folks in my morning. First, we headed down to McDonald’s for breakfast with a couple of their fellow “seasoned citizens” — a group that’s been meeting for breakfast on Saturdays just as a way of getting out and socializing for a couple decades now.

Then after breakfast, my dad needed an extra pair of hands to help mend a fence, which had come apart in the recent wind storm. It wasn’t broken too badly, but we had to put a few deck screws through a few new boards to attach the fence back to the supporting post. Then I stuck around long enough to help my dad uninstall some Adobe malware on his laptop, AKA Creative Cloud.

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Saturday was also Grammy’s birthday, so much of the day was spent celebrating and keeping our kids occupied (with a board game they created) while Vivian and Jack fried up some calamari steaks for dinner. The kids also made Grammy some handmade cardsas did I, of course — and then we gave Grammy a handful of presents, which included a new ice chest, some habanero-blueberry jelly, and a grown-up coloring book.

Vivian made some Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert, which Hannah and Aaron decorated with a few “worms,” AKA Twizzlers before we blew the candles out. It was a pie with enough sugar to make Hannah go a bit crazy, so I took her for a quick bike ride to my parents’ house and back to work it off before going to bed.

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Then on Sunday, I got up early enough for a nice long ride along the full length of the West Papio Trail, all the way from Culver’s in Bellevue to Downtown Milliard. It was a lovely little ride that went past some hidden street art and a large tortoise crawling along. In Millard, I saw the Dairy Queen that was briefly featured in the movie About Schmidt on my way to Millard Avenue and back. I also passed a quaint little bike shop that might be worth visiting should I ever make it back.

Back home, we went to the late service at Wildewood so we could attend their summer social at noon immediately afterward (making time for Hannah to ride her bike and Aaron to have a shadow-fight with me). We had a nice time having “walking tacos” and some ice cream and chatting with a few other parents as our kids bounced around in the bounce house for a bit (and got a family photo).

Hannah’s new bike

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It was an exciting week as Hannah got her very first bike — one she learned to ride almost immediately without training wheels. We bought it used in northwest Omaha and then dropped by Bridlewood Park so she could try it out for a bit. Then that evening, she she quickly got the hang of riding it in our own driveway! The next day, we went to Elmwood Park for the Omaha Homeschool picnic, and Hannah and I got to ride together on a few of the paths there and go exploring all the way up to Dodge Street (in-between hot dogs). I was amazed at how quickly she picked it up. She’s a natural!

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I’ve been busy riding my own bike almost every day, of course, taking it all the way back to Bellevue to have burgers with my dad at Culver’s over a lunch break.

I also rode it all the way from work to home and back — doorstep to doorstep — without a car in-between, just to say I could. If my car ever needs work done on it again, I won’t have to hitch a ride to get to the office. Mostly, it’s been a great way to get out of the office during the day and enjoy some fresh air — even if I have to time my rides between passing thunderstorms.

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Then on Saturday, I took a trip down to Lincoln for a Freedom Rally on the steps of the state capitol. My friend Tim had been holding them since the election, so I dropped by to join a few patriotic folks waving flags for an hour or two. It was an interesting group of conservative outsiders from groups with speakers such as Patrick Peterson of the Nebraska Freedom Coalition, Jennifer Hicks from Nebraskans Against Government Overreach, and former Omaha City Council candidate Tyeisha Kosmicki. Tim seemed to expect counter-protestors, but the only one who showed up was a guy who circled the capitol there times to yell obscenities. Mostly there were just happy honks from passing cars and even a few passersby who stopped to listen. We did get photobombed by a wedding, one of at least three that seemed to be happening around the capitol that day. Then a guy from KLKN-8 came by to have a few words with us before we wrapped up.

I grabbed some pho on the way home to have for dinner, and then that evening Harold’s mommy came to pay us a visit as the Mills went on a trip for a week. I also broke out the dragon fruit I got at Trader Joe’s for the kids to try. We even gave Harold some, which left it with some strange purple lipstick.

Next stop, Shakespeare — by any greens necessary!

Peaceful Protests

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With spring officially here, and one election season blending seamlessly into another, a few groups in Omaha are coming out and waving some signs once again. One group I’ve recently become aware of is Nebraskans Against Government Overreach (NAGO), who seem to have a regular presence about town. Back on March 20, they were at 168th and Dodge protesting mask mandates and lockdowns along with a “worldwide demonstration” using the hashtag #wewillALLbethere. This was coincidentally in front of Ben Sasse’s Omaha office, and they were back protesting him more directly a few weeks later when he (allegedly) spoke at a Federalist Society event at the Regency Marriott.

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My friend Tim Davis had his own “Back the blue” rally on Saturday, which was also peaceful but decidedly noisier. Speaking at the event was State Senator Suzanne Geist and City Council candidates Don Rowe, Kathleen Kauth, and Tyeisha Kosmicki. There were also around five “counter protestors” who showed up to bang a drum, ring a cowbell, and generally scream at and try to disrupt everyone else. One of them was an actual skinhead wearing rubber “jack boots” as he tried shouting down the Tyeisha, a black woman running for city council. We learned later that they’d come by the park in advance to vandalize the war memorial, which the city had hosed down before we’d even arrived, and had also stashed boxes of rocks and eggs around the park, which the police had confiscated (and believes were meant to be thrown at us — and not part of some Easter egg hunt).

It was an interesting exercise in self-control, as most of us laughed at and jeered at the rag-tag group of hoodlums as they tried to get us riled up. They had probably dropped by the Back the Blue event held in the same place last year, but a few (uninvited) members of the “Proud Boys” were able to keep them in line.

Walk for Life and a Sushi Anniversary

It feels a bit more like January now, as we had a record amount of snow and temperatures back below freezing once again. This may call for more sledding in the coming few days, but we’ve still been finding other things to do in the meantime.

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Last Saturday, I drove down to Lincoln to attend the Walk for Life, my first political outing since Election Day. It was a little below freezing, but apparently warmer than it had been the year before, as a thousand people gathered on the north side of the Capitol. I got to see a few familiar faces in the crowd as a handful of speakers, including Gov. Ricketts, Don Bacon, and Jeff Fortenberry (and his daughter) spoke to the crowd. A handful of newly-elected state legislators were in the crowd as well, including Brett Lindstrom, Julie Slama, and Rita Sanders. There was a launch of pink and blue balloons that sailed by the capitol once the speakers were done, and then the crowd made its way south on Centennial Mall to the University.

I hung around for a little while afterward, taking a brief tour of a nearly empty capitol building, saying hello to Abe, and then dropping by Pho Nguyenn for some Vietnamese food to bring home for lunch — steak pho, spring rolls, and avocado smoothies.

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The following Tuesday, I dropped by Wildewood for their Men of God dinner, where we had Italian food from Spaghetti Works and got to hear from a few men from Abide, a non-profit organization that buys house since in North Omaha to serve as “lighthouses” for the community there.

Then on Saturday, Hannah received her sash and certificate for her participation in Prims from Ms. Ruth. We used to attend every week at BCC before Covid came along, and I hope we’ll be able to start attending again soon.

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In other news, also finally replaced our old dishwasher, which broke way back in September, and we’d been handwashing them ever since. We got some Christmas money from both sets of grandparents that helped to pay for the cost of a new one, a top-rated Bosch model I’d found on Consumer Reports that was only around $500. I even got one in what that matches our cabinets. It took us a while to get it installed, first because the first set of installers claimed we’d have to have our floor torn out to remove the old one, which we didn’t — it just needed a little extra wrestling to pull out, which I did myself. Then we got a record amount of snow, which kept them from coming back until several days later.

That record amount of snow came on Monday — nearly 12 inches and more than we’d seen in a single day since 1975. I had to shovel the driveway three separate times just to keep up, and then I shoveled Donna’s for good measure (including unburying their car). Vivian made some homemade olive garlic bread to keep warm in the meantime. Hopefully we’ll still have enough to go sledding later.

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In the midst of all this, Vivian and I had a Sushi Anniversary! It was initially on Tuesday, and I wore a sushi tie and brought home some “Lover’s Rolls” from Beijing Tokyo to celebrate. I was so busy shoveling snow and also attending the last of my Screwtape Letters bible study (via Zoom), that we put off our proper celebration for the following day.

Vivian’s idea us for both of us to gather sushi from four separate restaurants — combing our take-out orders into a massive sushi feast! I went to Sakura Bana for sushi and maki rolls (also miso soup and salad) and then swung by Umami in Bellevue for a few more. Vivian went by Golden Dragon and Hutong. I even got some shrimp tempura from Aldi, which was as good as any restaurant’s that I’ve had. We both had our fill of sushi and then some, and I had enough to take with me to work the following day for my lunch.

Happy Sushi anniversary, sweetie!

Election Day and Autumn Fun

Well, election day turned out to be more like an election week — with margins far narrower than any poll predicted and results much different on election night than they appeared days later. It wasn’t nearly as much fun as it was four years ago, but I’m still glad most of the people I voted for — particularly Congressman Fortenberry and Senator Sasse — will be returning to Congress.

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Last week, Vivian and I participated in the democratic process and cast some ballots down at Calvary Christian Church. I expected long lines and crowd, so my parents were kind enough to watch Hannah and Aaron while Vivian and I did our civic duty. There were a couple dozen people in line when we finally got inside to vote, and not much more had arrived by the time we were done. In the meantime, Hannah and Aaron build a few things with blocks and Lincoln Logs before we returned took them home.

Then that evening, Don Bacon and his crew were doing some last-minute sign-waving down at the corner of 72nd and Dodge. Because I work not far from there, I drove down to say hello and grab a few pictures. Among the sign-wavers was Senator Ben Sasse, who must have felt pretty confident about his chances to spend the waning moments of the campaign giving Congressman Bacon a hand. (I even mentioned this on my Twitter account.)

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We had some delightfully warm weather over the weekend, so we spent as much of it as we could outdoors. On Saturday, I raked up some leaves so the kids could have some quality time jumping into them. Hannah also brought a few of her stuffed animals — reconfigured into Pokémon, since she and Aaron are currently enjoying that show — into the pile with them.

On Sunday, Hannah and Aaron made an herb garden and some no-bake cookies in Sunday school, respectively. Then we spent the afternoon down at Dreamland Park across the river. The place was very busy with people enjoying some nice weather before wet and cold hit us this week. They got some more time on swings and a merry-go-round or two before we headed on home.


Thoughts on the election

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this election, which still feels up in the air despite everyone knowing what the outcome will be. I’m not, however, going to join with many of my friends in saying the election was stolen. I don’t think it was. The margins were ridiculously close in a handful of states, particularly considering what the polls were saying. There may have been some shenanigans that need to be looked into, but I highly doubt there was enough ballot-stuffing going on to flip the margin of victory.

This was an election where the Democrats were supposed to make major gains, and at the moment, it looks like the GOP will gain several seats in the House when they were supposed to lose them. Even if Trump had won, he would have had his hands tied with a divided Congress. Now, the Republicans look poised to take Congress back in 2022 and perhaps the White House in 2024.

So now, I’m focused now on the future, and the potential of meeting and greeting a whole new slate of candidates in a few years. And for now, the goal I had several years ago of getting a selfie with a POTUS was finally realized — just not in the way I expected. How do you like that, you dog-faced pony soldiers?

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See you in “four more years,” Joe.

Trump Returns to Omaha

President Trump returned on Omaha on Tuesday this week for a campaign rally down at Eppley Airfield in a series of last-minute events in an increasingly tightening Presidential campaign. The rally apparently trended on Twitter yesterday, and not for any of the reasons I would have guessed. More on that at the end.

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I brought my friend Jake along again for the rally, warning him ahead of time about the expected crowd (25,000 according to the Omaha Police Department) and hours of standing in line. We got there early at 2:30 PM hoping to beat most of the crowd. We immediately got on a shuttle bus that took us to the rally site, where trump staff took everyone’s temperature coming into the rally and had free masks, hand sanitizer, bottled water, and hand warmers for everyone. There was a respectable crowd in line already when I arrived, some having brought chairs, coolers, and even heaters like one big tailgate party. I saw some familiar faces while waiting to get inside, and I enjoy chatting with some of the die-hard Trump fans, one of whom wore a blanket with a photo of Trump they’d personally taken at the White House.

The crowd continued to pour in until OPD eventually shut off traffic around 6 PM — with thousands more still arriving. A series of local candidates and politicians got to up to speak before the President arrived, including David Young, Don Bacon, Kristi Noem, Deb Fischer, Gov. Ricketts and his brother Todd. Finally Rick Holdcroft, running to represent my state district, gave an opening prayer before the National Anthem.

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There was a bit of a lull after the speakers concluded. A couple staff members threw hats to the audience and other waiting in long, long lines for food vendors and free hot chocolate int he warming tent. Then around 7:45 PM, we saw the lights of Air Force One descending onto the runway, with plenty of cheers as it taxied along the tarmac behind the bleachers. President Trump emerged a few minutes later to the tune of Proud to be an American and took the stage. He made a few quips about the cold as he launched into his stump speech. This was his third rally of the day, but he had plenty of energy, taking shots at Biden (Joe and Hunter), particularly recent scandal involving Hunter’s laptop.Trump also had a few videos that played overhead, highlighting civil unrest among other things.

The crowd was very responsive, particularly when Trump pointed out various Nebraska politicians in the audience. The crowd started chanting “Bacon! Bacon!” when he pointed out the 2nd District congressman, and Trump took a brief shot at Ben Sasse, commenting that Deb Fischer was his “favorite Senator from Nebraska.” Then he wrapped up shortly before 9 PM, telling the crowd “we will make America great again” before dancing to YMCA by the Village People, which blasted overhead as people began to make their way out.

The Aftermath

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The long walk back.

As you may have heard, getting out of the rally proved to be a bit of an adventure, but the media has blown it way out of proportion. Jake and I followed the crowd out of the rally fairly quickly, hoping to get an early spot on a bus to get back to the parking lot. The buses hadn’t arrived yet, however, and the majority of the crowd seemed to just want to keep on walking down the road on foot. I didn’t quite realize they weren’t just walking to a bus stop but were actually walking the entire way back to the parking lots — a trek of over 3.5 miles.

It took Jake and me around an hour and a half to walk the entire way, at which point we were quite sore and tired and ready to collapse. Adding insult to injury, the first fleet of buses passed us along the way, making me wish we’d just waited a while at the curb for them to arrive. We had about half an hour after that to squeeze out of the south parking lot before we could finally head home.

The story didn’t seem to end there, however. The news media picked up the story, and declared that Trump supporters were “left stranded in freezing temperatures” after the rally, which was ridiculous. Only those of us dumb enough to walk back (raising my hand here) were left in the cold. Some folks discovered partway that they couldn’t make the trip and needed medical attention, some of which included blisters or cuts on feet from all the walking. What the media aren’t pointing out is that the crowd was far, far larger than expected — and may very well be a leading indicator for the election next week. We shall see.

Jake was a real trooper through the whole experience, and he even said he’d do it again if he had the chance. In particular he liked bragging to his dad that he got to see Kristi Noem, who they missed at the Governor’s steak fry a month ago.

A Day to #WalkAway

I spent the day on Sunday with Brandon Straka and his gang from the #WalkAway movement — a campaign of former liberals who’ve found themselves pushed to the center as the American left moves further to the fringe. The event was jointly-sponsored by the Nebraska Log Cabin Republicans and the Nebraska Liberty Caucus, and like Scott Presler’s visit a few weeks ago, there was a significant emphasis was on building a “big tent” party (specifically including the gay community).

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The day began with a “Walk Away Rally,” which was moved from Memorial Park to the Starlight Chateau due to winter-like conditions that dropped on the city with a dusting of snow, and a crowd of a little over 100 packed the hall. While they were mostly conservatives, I got to chat with one guy who supported Amy Klobuchar but was also voting for Don Bacon. He didn’t like the way Kara Eastman treated her Democrat primary challenger Ann Ashford, and he’d been brushed off by her campaign while being greeted by the Bacon Brigade with open arms. He’d also been called a “closet homophobe” for not supporting Mayor Pete and a racist for not supporting Kamala Harris, who was his second choice.

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The rally started with the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem, both initiated with a flag from the audience (as the venue didn’t seem to have one). Then Brandon Straka took the stage, introducing himself as a Nebraska native from O’Neill who left the state a liberal and returning as a conservative. He also talked briefly about the WalkAway campaign and highlighting the bias in the media, who refused to cover violence directed at his members and instead trying to blame them for initiating it. Congressman Don Bacon took the stage next, making his case for a third term in Nebraska’s second district, and then KFAB’s Chris Baker played emcee introducing the rest of the WalkAway gang. First up was Karlyn Borysenko, who found herself castigated when her knitting community went woke (knitting the “pink pussy” hats you may have seen at the Women’s March). Next was political commentator Shemeka Michelle, followed by the most “banned person on Twitter,” Mike Harlow.

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Straka re-took the stage briefly to introduce a woman named Lydia, who is a Catholic living in Bellevue who emphasized the “big tent” idea that we don’t have the luxury of voting only for people who align with all our religious beliefs. Straka then led the crowd in a sign-holding chant to wrap up the rally, which he posted as a video on Twitter.

Following the rally was around half an hour for pictures and selfies with Straka and his gang, and among the audience members getting photos were Straka’s parents, some of Omaha’s finest, and me, of course. After most of the guests had cleared out, Straka then took his WalkAway team downstairs to check out the crypt beneath the Starlight Chateau. The facility had once been a monastery with nuns entombed underneath in a series of vaults in a crypt, which the gang dubbed “Biden’s Bunker” before heading back upstairs.

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Then that evening, Straka and the WalkAway gang went up to the Cross Training center on north 72nd for a more dressed-up evening with a few more guests. More people got pictures and selfies during the cocktail hour, and then KFAB’s Scott Voorhees played emcee, introducing Straka and the WalkAway gang as they spoke a bit more about the campaign and their experience being homeless former liberals after the ground shifted left underneath their feet. Most interesting among the evening’s guests was Chris Janicek, the Democrat running against Ben Sasse for the United States Senate. I didn’t get the chance to ask if he were walking away, but he stayed a while chatting with guests, including Straka’s parents before the evening wrapped up.

It was a long, fun day for me, being engaged in politics, but I found it particularly interesting how the political ground has shifted so significantly since the days of George W. Bush. There is a clear libertarian movement on the right that eschews foreign wars and embraces gay marriage and legalized marijuana and a strange, almost religious purity test on the left that’s leaving more and more Democrats without a home. It will be interesting to see how this continues to evolve after Election Day.

Two Birthdays and a Four More Tour

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Fall seems to be here at last, but we still managed to find another outdoor movie to watch as a family before the really cold weather starts setting in. On Friday, Brookside Church out in Millard showed Pixar’s “Up” to us and around a hundred other people on their lawn. They even had a snack bar and a few goofy games that involved hitting balloons and eating hot dogs before the movie started. Most fun of all, however, was watching Hannah and Aaron see the movie for the first time — Aaron in particular finding scenes with the dogs hilarious. Vivian and I had seen the film about a decade earlier, and I was surprised how much more I enjoyed it the second time around.

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Saturday was a little quite, as Vivian and her mom shopped at the Bellevue farmers’ market and I worked with the kids to surreptitiously make their mom some Happy Birthday cards and then shop for a few presents for her.

Then on Sunday, I got up early to make some coconut toast for a birthday breakfast for Vivian and the kids. We went to church together afterward, where a bunch of the kids from Sunday School — including Hannah — went to the front of the church to sing “He’s got the whole world in his hands” with various puppets and instruments. It was very cute, and Hannah even got her own puppetry certificate afterward.

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We continued celebrating Vivian’s birthday with a big sushi & sashimi lunch together, courtesy of Miyake Sushi in Papillion. Then by some coincidence, Jack and Donna came by a little later with a Sushi Birthday Cake for Vivian, decorated with various forms of sushi on top of a moist chocolate cake, along with a few presents, which Vivian opened on our driveway.

We had planned to have a big birthday dinner with Jack and Donna to celebrate Vivian’s birthday, but since they wanted to eat al fresco, we decided to put it off to another day when the ground wasn’t quite so damp. So instead, we took a joyride down to Lake Manawa, enjoying cool air with the windows open and chasing some seagulls around the lake — which Vivian seemed to find amazing so far from any ocean.

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After our ride, we had dinner at what’s quickly becoming our go-to restaurant for birthdays and anniversaries — Dairy Twist. Vivian had a craving for a cheesesteak sandwich, and we got some chicken strips for the kids — along with some ice cream afterward, of course.

Then back home, I lit up Vivian’s birthday cake with candles to blow out, followed by cards and presents with the kids. Hannah and Aaron were particularly proud of their little cards, which included pictures of sushi, Mega Man, and a cake with exactly 41 candles on it.

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On Monday (in-between birthdays), Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk brought the Four More Tour to Omaha, which included guests Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle (and Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier). The event was held at the “A View on State” reception hall in northwest Omaha, and the trio spoke to a packed house of around 500. I saw many familiar faces, including Mike Foley, Derek Oden (giving Hal Daub an elbow bump), and of course David and Mason Halliburton, who were able to snag a selfie with Guilfoyle before she left.

The rally itself felt like a biting, sarcastic comedy show, with jokes all targeting the Bidens — Joe for running a campaign in which he seems perpetually absent, and Hunter, who we learned took $3.5 million from the Russians in the wake of the Trumps being investigated for Russian collusion. Emcee Charlie Kirk brought Congressman Don Bacon on stage toward the end of the show to say a few words encouraging everyone to help get out the vote, as Nebraska’s 2nd district has become a “battleground” both for its electoral vote and congressional seat. Kirk then stayed to meet and greet nearly everyone who wanted to say hello (which included me, of course), and I even managed to nab an autographed copy of Don Jr.’s new book, Liberal Privilege, on my way out the door.

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Then Tuesday evening, we celebrated Pop-Pop’s birthday by dining al fresco on his driveway. I swung by Outback Steakhouse for some bloomin’ onions for an appetizer, which we ate outside before getting dinner underway. The kids played nicely with magnetic blocks while Vivian and her dad grilled some rib-eye steaks in a dramatic flambé. We had some burgers separate for the kids (and Donna). We had a handful of presents for Jack as well, including homemade cookies from the kids, grilling trays, tongs, and some Jack Steak barbecue sauce of all things. Then for dessert, we brought out a delicious Italian layer cake that Vivian had made up, putting a lone candle on top for Jack to blow out before diving in.

It was the perfect evening for a birthday dinner outdoors. Hopefully the nice weather will persist through the week, or at least while we head off to Vala’s on Thursday.

A Sock Monkey, Scott Presler, and a Steak Fry

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On Wednesday, Hannah and I dropped by the Mills’ house to have some beef lo mein and celebrate Sammy’s 9th birthday. Hannah and Samantha have been little friends since they were babies, so this was an annual reminder of how fast they’re growing up. We also had plans to celebrate Sammy’s birthday on Saturday, but we still got to have some cake with her and give her a few presents on her birthday itself.

After we left, Hannah discovered that she’d left her toy sock monkey behind — a toy she’d had since she was a baby. The next day, Lexi brought the monkey back with a few surprises — including a photo album showing all the fun things the sock monkey got to do during its “sleepover” at Sammy’s house, which included making friendship bracelets with Sammy’s own sock monkey. That was adorable.

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On Friday, things got political for me again (and not just because of the passing of a “notorious” Supreme Court justice). Scott Presler, Trump advocate and Twitter “influencer” came to town (known for his long locks and Tucker Carlson impressions), courtesy of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and we got to have a meet-up and “pep rally” with him at the Lucky Bucket Brewery. We had a handful of local politicians in the crowd, including the La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig, legislature candidates Jorge Sotolongo and Rita Sanders, and former State Senator Mike Friend.

Scott himself took the mic before long and gave a brief stump speech on how he came to be a Trump supporters — much of it coming at the top of his lungs. The crowd was very friendly, though I also noticed some on the populist right embrace some of the same “in your face” coarse language that I’ve also seen on the populist left. Scott stuck around for over an hour afterward meeting and greeting guests and getting pictures with just about everyone in attendance (including me, of course). It was the kind of rally I like, where folks can just talk about issues over a beer (or chicken tikka tacos) like normal people.

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On Saturday (after setting up a new mesh WiFi router at home), we celebrated Sammy’s birthday down at Swanson Park around the corner from our house. It was a cute, girly paint party, with an adorable painting cake from Donna to go with it. Each girl got to paint their own pictures on canvas, and some of Sammy’s presents included an art teacher Barbie with a painting easel.

I had been under the impression that Aaron and the boys would need to be distracted during the painting time, so my dad and Uncle Jonny came by to try to fly a kite in the meantime. Aaron had more fun just running around with his friends, however. In any case, the trees surrounding the park proved be a formidable wind-breaker that kept any meaningful gusts from getting our kite aloft, so it’s just as well.

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Then on Sunday, we had a big, fun afternoon down in Nebraska City for Gov. Ricketts’ fourth annual Steak Fry. It was the perfect day for lunch outdoors in the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, and they had a handful of activities for the kids including bubbles and play-doh (which kept them busy as daddy went off to snap some photos). Ricketts’ special guest this year was South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who’s become a bit of a rockstar during Covid, mostly for not locking down her entire state and doing fine anyway (even hosting Sturgis — the biggest festival of its kind in the nation at this point). There were a few familiar faces in the crowd, including Congressman Don Bacon, the Foleys, and the Sanders. There was also one additional speaker — former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker, who served between Sessions and Barr (and got “the biggest applause a Hawkeye’s ever gotten” in Nebraska, according to Ricketts).

A live band played some music after the speakers were done, and while Noem took off right away, Ricketts stayed for an hour longer meeting and greeting just about everybody who came by. Our friends the Mills came by to join us for lunch, and our friends the Halliburtons were there as well, nabbing a photo and an autograph from Noem before she left (of course). It was a beautiful afternoon, so we walked down to the playground for a bit to let the kids play, and we foudn an interesting memorial for J. Sterling Morton next door. It had a pair of statues, one of the Greek goddess Daphne and one of Morton himself, along with a “whispering bench,” designed acoustically so a person talking on one end could be heard in the other.

It was a fun, busy weekend, but not we’ve got to gear up for another one — as somebody will be turning one year older soon (along with her dad).

A Birthday, Balloons, and a Pair of Trumps

It’s been another fun and busy week, with some outdoor fun and a taste of cool fall weather — all sandwiched between visits from two members of the Trump family.

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First up was Lara Trump, wife of Eric and daughter-in-law of the POTUS. She paid a visit to the Omaha campaign office for the Trump campaign, where about 150 people packed the tiny room off 125th and Center in the Westwood Plaza. She was introduced by former Bellevue mayor and legislature candidate Rita Sanders as well as Gov. Ricketts.

Mask usage was also in full force, with pretty much everyone who wasn’t holding a microphone properly covered with a face-diaper. When Lara arrived, she gave a half-hour stump speech for her father-in-law before getting a group photo with those of us in the room. There wasn’t any meet-and-greet time afterward, but one portly guy in a straw boater seemed to be able to nab a selfie with Mrs. Trump on her way out.

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Vivian was on a women’s retreat most of the weekend, so I got to have some quality daddy time with the kids myself. Our first stop on Saturday was to celebrate our friend Lily’s 10th birthday down in Washington Park in Bellevue. It’s been cold, cloudy, and raining for the past several days, so things were especially lovely on Saturday once the sun came out. Lexi joined us with her kids and they all had fun getting sugared up and running around a while, playing on the playground, see-saw, slide, and the bench swing while the grown-ups chatted (about washing machines and routers, mostly).

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After the party, I headed down to Ditmars Orchard in Iowa for their annual Fields of Flight. It was supposedly a socially-distanced event, though you couldn’t tell by the size (and density) of the crowd. The kids still had a great time, playing with dozens of others on an ever-growing playground area (this year featuring a colorful maze). I pulled them over to the field when I saw the balloons blowing up and starting to fly away so they could get a good look. Then a little later, I got some apple cider donuts to coax them back when it was time for the balloons to return and glow.

Uncle Nathan came by to join us for some of the festivities as the fun went down, and the cover band Clean and Easy played a variety of songs for everyone to dance to. Aaron in particular seems to enjoy live music and took to the grass in front of the stage to show us his moves for a bit before we had one last swing or two and headed home.

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Then on Monday afternoon, Donald Trump Jr. held a rally for his dad across the river in Treynor, Iowa. It was a relatively small venue (particularly with the socially-distanced chairs)  that filled up quickly when I arrived. The room was filled with MAGA faithful both young and old, including Apprentice alumna Tana Goetz and a WW2 veteran who sat (and stood) up front. Local candidates Jon Jacobsen (state legislature) and David Young (House) made a few remarks before the son-of-a-POTUS dropped in around 2:30. Don Jr. gave a lively speech hitting on everything from the Netflix “Cuties” film to Russian collusion to the current civil unrest. “You’ll get into more trouble opening business to feed your family than you will by burning down someone else’s,” he said. He also had several jokes at Biden’s expense, doing a impression of the Democrat candidate at a teleprompter while hitting him on his fairly meager half-century record of public policy. “You can’t campaign on problems if you solve them.”

Don Jr. spent a few minutes after his speech working the rope line, signing autographs, and getting a few photos on his way out the door. Among them was by buddy Mason, whose dad brought previously-taken photos with Don Jr. for him to autograph. Others brought copies of Don Jr’s book, “Triggered” for him to sign, making me wish I’d picked up a copy myself. (I did get a quick fist-bump as he passed by.)


Fields of flight at Ditmars Orchard, 2020