Tag Archives: Nebraska Steak Fry

A Memorial and a Steak Fry

We’ve been busy weekend here in Omaha having some fun with friends and a few politicians, along with a few rather somber moments over the 9/11 weekend.

IMG_2553IMG_2565


I wound up taking Friday off so Vivian could take Aaron to a doctor’s appointment. After helping Hannah with some of her homeschool work, we drove up to Milliard to help pay tribute to a fallen Marine. If you’ve been following the news, Cpl. Daegan Page was one of thirteen Americans killed in the chaotic aftermath of America’s hasty and sudden retreat in Afghanistan. The news hit home to a lot of people here in the metro area. A few people online organized an event to welcome the fallen Marine home, with thousands of people lining the streets along the route of the funeral procession.

I was able to spot people gathering on the overpasses along I-80 on the way west to Millard. There must have been a couple thousand people just lining Millard Avenue from 132nd to 144th, which was where Hannah and I found ourselves. We came early enough to claim a spot underneath a shady tree, but when the procession finally arrived around 2:30 PM, nearly everyone crossed over to stand along the median as it came by. All you could see from one end of town to the other was a sea of American flags as the motorcycle-led procession came by. A woman next to me burst into sobbing as they drove past. I’m not sure how much of an impact the whole experience had on Hannah, but she held her flag along with everyone else as they came by. It was a rare, unifying moment, and seemed quite appropriate to come before September 11.

IMG_2738IMG_2822

That evening, our whole family drove down to Stonecroft Park to celebrate Sammy and Lily’s birthdays. There was a new “all-access” playground installation Vivian had wanted to see for a while, so the kids had a couple hours to enjoy playing on that. We had Little Caesars for dinner and some cupcakes and the girls got to open a handful of presents before we called it a night.

Then after the kids were in bed, I drove up to the Starlight Chateau for a little swing dancing with few old Jitterbug friends. Jordan was putting on his speakeasy swing dance again, though only a few people showed up to dance. I think we all wore Sara out dancing throughout the night, and Dan got to play from a playlist of goofy novelty songs, including jingles for Coca-Cola, of all things. Mostly, it was nice just to get out and dance once again — something I’ve missed even before Covid came along and ended much of it.

Saturday was a bit of a break as Aaron played baseball, daddy grilled burgers, and we didn’t do much else.

IMG_3373IMG_3394

Then came Sunday, which was a long, busy day as we headed down to Nebraska City for a Steak Fry. It was Gov. Ricketts‘ fourth such event, this time with an all-star line-up of speakers: Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, Sen. Ted Cruz, and former VP Mike Pence. The event was nominally to celebrate agriculture, but it was very much a political rally, with each candidate (and Ricketts himself) rumored to have Presidential aspirations.

We also got to see many other familiar faces while we were there, including Lt. Gov. Foley, former Gov. Kay Orr, Sen. Deb Fischer, and Congressman Don Bacon. What really made this event unique, however, was that the VIP speakers were quite accessible to the crowd at large, both before and after their stump speeches. Desantis and Pence literally walked up and started greeting those of us in line for food, making for plenty of selfies and photos all around. Each of them lingered afterward as well, making it fairly easy to simply walk up with either Hannah or Aaron (or Lexi) to say hello. It’s quite a thrill to introduce your kids to a former Veep — or perhaps the next President.

IMG_2903IMG_3444

Of course, we also had some fun that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics. A few ladies brought an accoutrement of bubble-making wands, which the kids had fun with for a while before and after the speeches. We stayed afterward to let the kids play on the playground for a while as everyone filed out, and we got to play on the Whispering Bench by J. Morton Sterling’s statue once again (as we did last year). Then we swung by Dairy Queen on the south side of town to get some ice cream cones for the ride home.

It was a long, busy weekend, with fun and excitement and a few somber moments. Mostly, I’m hoping that I’m making some memories with the kids that they’ll have at least until the next election.

A Sock Monkey, Scott Presler, and a Steak Fry

IMG_20200916_211808000IMG_20200917_181110365

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.

IMG_5370IMG_5461

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.

IMG_20200919_162606399_HDRIMG_5584

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.

IMG_5639IMG_5686

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 found 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).

Four Governors

I just wrapped up a fairly busy week juggling two birthdays and then handling the kids solo over the weekend as Vivian had a weekend retreat with her bible study friends. It rained most of the time, so I stayed indoors as Hannah wrote and illustrated her first storybook by herself (and a little help from Google Docs).

IMG_0166IMG_0147

Then I had a fun, busy Sunday meeting Governors from four different states at the Nebraska Steak Fry: Kim Reynolds from Iowa, Eric Holcomb from Indiana, Greg Abbott from Texas and (of course) Nebraska’s own Pete Ricketts. The event was held at Neale Farms in Ft. Calhoun, and it was gray, drizzling, and fairly muddy, but there was still a fairly good turnout (of about 400 people) A band played country music as we mostly kept dry under the tent and under the long awning of the barn as we waited for the festivities to start. The event was a fundraiser for Ricketts’ re-election campaign, but I still got to shake hands with all the VIPs, including the patriarch of the Ricketts family, Joe Ricketts.

We had a brief presentation with the Color Guard before dishing up our steak dinners. John Orr (son of former Gov. Kay Orr) was the emcee and kicked things off before the Governors all got to speak. They all gave fairly standard conservative stump speeches, all with kind words about Gov. Ricketts, but Abbott seemed to hit all the hot buttons. My dad came with me to the event and said he was like “a fiery Southern Baptist Preacher.” I managed to embarrass myself when I bumped into Gov. Holcomb in line for coffee and didn’t even recognize him. I mistook him for local politician Dan Frei and even asked his name when I couldn’t figure out why he looked so familiar. (I figured it out later when Gov. Ricketts introduced everyone).

I didn’t get any photos with the VIPs themselves, but my friend Mason the Button Boy did, getting snapshots with just about everyone and scoring a new challenge coin from Gov. Abbott.

IMG_20180930_183439644IMG_9763

That evening, Vivian got home from her weekend with the WAG girls, and I had just enough time to change clothes and get some dinner for the kids (from Baker’s) before it was time to have a birthday celebration with Jack. We took Vivian’s parents out to Outback and all had steak together with a bloomin’ onion. We returned home afterward and had some tasty Neapolitan torte after Jack opened his presents. One of them was a giant red “No” button something that I’m going to have to put n my Christmas List.