Tag Archives: Autism

The Orchid and the Golden Spike

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Both our kids are back in school again, giving us a newfound appreciation for time together after work and on the weekend. It seems to be going well so far. Hannah even made a little pretend “school” for all her Beanie Boos to attend, modeled after her days at Abiding Life in Bellevue.

In the meantime, Aaron has joined the Royal Rangers with his friends August and Gabriel at Spirit Life Assemblies of God Church, which gave me the chance to catch up on Jordan Peterson as he learned some things about the Bible.

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On Thursday, my dad and I went to see the first and only RiffTrax Live event of the year, where they riffed The Return of Swamp Thing, a truly terrible (sequel) film based on the DC Comics character. Our friend Richard Burney joined us for the movie and some burgers down at Culver’s beforehand, per the norm. I’ve been attending every RiffTrax Live event since they started way back in 2009, and hopefully they’ve continue having them well into the future (albeit only once a year sometimes).

In other news, Aaron lost another tooth. We’re also starting to get a crop of garden tomatoes, thanks to some regular rainfall (and watering). Vivian was able to turn them into some tasty bruschetta on Friday along with some basil (also from our garden). We also got to see a full-arch rainbow from our driveway after a passing rain.

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We had some gorgeous weather in the 70s on Saturday, giving me a little time to trim some branches and clean up the garage. Then we took the kids down to Dreamland Park in Council Bluffs for some quality time on slides, the sandbox, the carousel, and just climbing and running around. I grabbed a pizza from Little Caesars along the way, which we ate picnic style on the grass.

On the playground was a display describing the “golden spike,” which pays tribute to the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. After the park, we went to see the Golden Spike monument in Council Bluffs, which has been there since 1939. It was tucked away on a quiet strip of Ninth Avenue and didn’t have much other than a few picnic benches, but it was fun to come and see in person for the first time.

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After church on Sunday, we went downtown to see the “Orchid,” an art installation that’s been on display since March as part of the Common Senses festival. It was created by Sean Ahlquist, who was there taking pictures as Hannah and Aaron spent time climbing and swinging on the sculpture. We had a few free snow cones and spent a little extra time afterward watching some strange art films inside the Millwork Commons area and looking at a few interesting things on site, such as a bunch of wall-mounted bike racks that the kids turned into a jungle gym, and a corner lot full of painted concrete barriers that the kids decided to walk along. (I also got to recreate a meme with Vivian’s help.)

It was a fun afternoon of exploration. Then we returned home to have burritos and watch the Disney movie G-Force, which was about secret agent guinea pigs. (Naturally, I brought out Harold to watch as well.)

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Having the kids in school full time has given Vivian and me some quality adult time together. On Monday, we took Grammy by Costco to do a little shopping and get some new tires put on the CR-V. We learned we needed a new set after getting a flat last month, and it seemed like a good enough excuse to have a long lunch sampling items and having some lunch together.

Then on Tuesday, I went over to Jack and Donna’s house to give their lawn a trim. In kind, Donna gave my hair a trim (with Bella on my lap) so I’d be nice and neat for my birthday weekend coming up. More on that next time.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a last-minute birthday present for me, you may want to consider a new air conditioner. Just an idea.

Springtime, Funfest, and Swag

We’ve launched headfirst into spring, and the trees are exploding with blossoms as tulips and daffodils bloom in our front yard. The cold has persisted for a couple of days, but it’s also been warm enough to have ice cream on the front porch and bring Harold out to graze in the front yard once again.

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We also had a few fun activities at Wildewood. On Tuesday last week, the Men of God had dinner again, with spare ribs Woody smoked up for us his smoked and beans as Scott had everyone brainstorming about what a men’s group ought to look like in the coming year. Hannah also came by on Wednesday and got to do an Easter-themed “escape room” with her youth group (which was fun for me to watch through the window).

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On Sunday afternoon, we took the kids to Omaha Funfest at Werner Park, sponsored by the Autism Society of Nebraska. Aaron got some time in the bounce house and I got to spin around on the carousel feeling nice and sick for a few minutes. Aaron and another boy got to play a legit game of chess together in the game tent while Hannah tried her hand at Jenga for the first time. Hannah got a painted tattoo and Aaron learned about juggling afterward. There were a few cosplayers on hand as well, featuring Ghostbusters and Star Wars characters, as well as a heavily modified “Stormy” mascot. They had a walk around the park before closing up for the day, and I did a lap with Aaron before heading home.

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In other news, I got a couple pieces of political swag in the mail. First as my Daily Wire “leftist tearstumbler, which came on the same day Elon Musk bought Twitter, which couldn’t be better timing. Next was a custom t-shirt I had made up for my Twitter handle, which I planned to wear at a certain rally later this week, just in case I’m seen by OANN, Newsmax, or RSBN and can get some free advertising.

I also wore this shirt on Tuesday, when I had meetup with a few friends down at Don Carmelo’s pizza in Rockbrook. I have events like this every so often with anyone who wants to talk politics “off the grid,” so I picked this little pizza joint to give them a little extra business after they were brave enough to host Jack Posobiec a few weeks ago. It’s darn good pizza, too.

I also got Matt Walsh’s book on the same day and had some fun reading it to Hannah and Aaron before bedtime.

St. John Vianney & World Autism Day

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On Friday, we decided on a whim to drop by St. John Vianney for a fish fry. It’s been my favorite fish fry venue for over a decade and it was the last time we’d be able to drop by on a Friday, so I thought it was worth a visit — particularly since we missed out on the last two years. Vivian stood in line for us as the kids got in some quality playground time next door. It was about an hour-long wait, so it was good for them to blow of some steam on the swings before heading inside for dinner.

We got to see our friend Frank as we got our fried fish, French fries, mac & cheese, pancakes, and all our other favorites. Of course the real fun was in all the other activities going on during dinner. I also got to sing along to “Sweet Caroline” with the Guitar Guy, and Hannah got to give the Meat Wheel a spin. Some people out front were having a fundraiser to visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, so we got a couple balloon swords form them before heading out.

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On Saturday, my brothers and I spent some time at my parents’ house going through another one of my dad’s bookshelves, looking at old books on marketing, graphics, and photography. We also got to watch a few more embarrassing home movies from our time in Warrensburg some 30 years ago.

It was also World Autism Day, so we got to spend the afternoon getting a “sneak peek” at some of the Common Senses Festival installations housed at KANEKO down in the Old Market. They had some interesting interactive exhibits, such as a sculpture with a mesh fabric and fish on a projector that react to your touch, and glowing chairs that react to your heart rate. There were a sensory exhibit and a lovely quiet space with calming videos on a loop on a circular projection screen — something I could use in our house.

We walked a block up the street for some ice cream at Ted & Wally’s when we were done, which was a very nice way to wrap up our visit.

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Then on Sunday, I took Hannah down to Plattsmouth for a little horseback riding with the Cherish Riding Association. She’d been going to this place off and on for several months now, but it was the first time I got to see the experience first hand. She got to help brush a few of the horses before having a ride on Cody and Blue for a little bit. It was cloudy, windy, and raining throughout the afternoon, however, so we didn’t stay very long.

Then that evening, I got some pizzas from Aldi and we watched Ron’s Gone Wrong for family movie night. It was a surprisingly fun movie and took some serious jabs at the Apple/Google big tech conglomeration, with the most aggressive portrayal of Steve Jobs I’ve seen since The Pirates of Silicon Valley. The kids had also gotten some Ron’s Gone Wrong toys in their happy meals, so it seemed like a fairly natural choice.

Drive-by Palm Sunday and Dim Sum at the Park

It’s been another quiet week in quarantine, though we’ve been able to find excuses to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air as more and more of our daily go-to activities seems to be getting locked down.

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On Thursday last week, Omaha “lit it up blue” for autism, so Vivian and I took the kids for a drive to check it out. They were fairly underwhelmed, as seeing the Woodmen Tower and the pedestrian bridge lit in blue lights wasn’t quite the thrill they were expecting — at least not with the cold and drizzling rain (which turned son to snow) that kept us inside the warm car. We got a dusting of snow the next day that made roads slippery and wintry again, but it was vaporized within days once the temperature broke 80 again.

We’ve been getting a lot more use out of the teleconferencing app Zoom as well. We attended bible studies at church both on Saturday and Tuesday using Zoom, and we also let the kids say hello to Grandma and Grandpa again on Saturday morning.

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On Palm Sunday, we decided to take the kids for a ride around the neighborhood with some homemade palm fronds, which we waved our friends the Mills and Campbells as well as Grammy and my parents, shouting “Hosanna” from an socially distant six feet away (at least).

It was a good enough excuse to get out of the house, and we celebrated later with some German chocolate cake courtesy of our across-the-street neighbor Betty and some homemade pizza.

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Then on Tuesday, we continued celebrating Take Out Tuesday with a trip to Golden Mountain for some Dim Sum (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings and Vietnamese spring rolls). We ate picnic style down at Memorial Park, up by the rose garden. I was hoping for more than just a few blossoms, but it was a gorgeous day with temperatures that broke into the 80s, and it felt good just to get out and let the kids run around (literally), climb a tree, and pay our respects. Loads of other people came by to enjoy the park as well — more than a “no parking” sign would allow for, at least. Now the city of Omaha has announced all parks are being shut down through the end of April, so I guess I should be glad we enjoyed it while we could.

Then on Wednesday we decided to celebrate the Last Supper on Wednesday with some kosher wine and unleavened bread. Next stop: Easter!

Crossing Bridges and Remembering Elephants

Well the flood waters are receding, and despite the promise of more winter coming tomorrow, it feels like spring may be here at least. Now if only, it would stay put.

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On Tuesday last week, we took the kids out to enjoy some of the weather down at the now not-flooded River’s Edge Park. There were still some wet spots, along with plenty of dirt and debris to be found — a piece of which looks like the remnant of some poor person’s home or furniture. Fortunately, it sounds like Loessfest will simply be delayed until Labor Day rather than cancelled, so we’ll get to enjoy one concert sometime this year (no word yet on the one at Memorial Park).

The near sunset we walked across the river with a couple hundred others for Autism Awareness Day. The mayors of Omaha and Council Bluffs met at the halfway point to say a few words, and there were a handful of mascots on hand to meet and greet everyone. People were also dressed in blue for the occasion, though we had to head on home before the bridge was actually lit up in blue for the evening. Hannah and Aaron seemed to have more fun running around in the rock garden below pretending to be chased.

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On Thursday night, Vivian and I attended the Elephant Remembers dinner with the Douglas County Republican Party. It was apparently a sold-out event with the Omaha Hilton filled to capacity with guests. We saw many familiar faces in the crowd, including a handful of friends mingling among the politicians. Scott Voorhees was emcee and featured speakers included Mayor Stothert, Congressman Bacon, Gov. Ricketts, and both Nebraska Senators (Sasse and Fischer).

We ate dinner as the event continued, and Vivian cut up the giant Wheatfield’s cake for our table (not waiting for anyone else to tell us to do so). The Senator Sasse introduced Tim Scott, Senator from South Carolina, who was the keynote speaker of the evening. According to Sasse, they almost didn’t make it, as Chuck Schumer had been holding up a nominee in the Senate. This kept Sasse and Scott on the floor until the vote was held, missing their flight and having to charter a plane instead. Sen. Scott then said a few words on his upbringing and religious faith before being awarded the title “Admiral” of “the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska” by Gov. Ricketts.

As usual, it felt good to be able to rub elbows with once again with many of the people I get to vote for. I got to personally thank Sasse for his recent “Born Alive” bill in the Senate, which he lamented 44 senators voted against. I also told Ricketts we were keeping him in our prayers as we’re all still dealing with the disastrous flooding last month. I told him that times like these might pull some people apart, but Nebraskans pull together instead.

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In other news, I got to enjoy eating out a couple times, once at Arby’s with Vivian and Aaron and then against with my dad for breakfast in thanks for his chauffeuring me to work these past few weeks (as I’m waiting on a new car).

Then on Saturday, my dad smoked some ribs and had the whole family over for dinner, including uncles Nathan and Jonny. The weather was nice enough to eat outside in the yard (and climb a tree), and my dad also went through another one of his trunks with us in the basement (so we’d know what all this stuff was should be ever pass on unexpectedly).

We finished off the evening with dessert and charades inside before calling it a night.

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On Sunday, Vivian went to a “sharing day” with the Omaha cake club, learning how to make a mermaid tail (which she brought home).

Then that evening, we took the kids down for an evening at the Children’s Museum. They got to engage in their favorite activities, including cooking pretend food, painting on windows, being on TV, applying make-up, playing with balls, riding dinosaurs, making music, and trying out some sports (among other things). What made tonight different, aside from being free, is that a lot of the usual noisemakers were turned off specifically for autistic kids, who were invited to come. That made for a very slightly less noisy and chaotic visit than usual.

Next stop: fish frying and The Mads (again).