Tag Archives: Spraygrounds

Baseball, Splash Pads, and Labor Day Weekend

We got to have some culinary fun in the week following my birthday, with some VooDoo tacos with alligator meat, jalapeño poppers, shrimp tacos, and some rambutans all making their way into the menu — and most (hopefully) burned off on the bike trails.

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Then we had a fun little Labor Day weekend. We started on Saturday with another baseball game with Aaron. He got to hit a few balls and high-five a couple team members once again, and he even got to hold the flag during the National Anthem, which was very special! Then afterward, we had one last splash in the spray ground before it gets shut off for the season. Aaron managed to pull me into the spray as well, jeans and all, for a good soaking.

That evening, Vivian went to her annual WAG retreat with her female friends, and I decided to walk the kids down to McDonald’s for a couple Happy Meals for dinner (and ice cream from Subway for dessert). It was a lovely day for a three mile walk, round trip, and bets of all, I didn’t have to cook.

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On Sunday, we took both the kids down to Werner Park to watch the Stormchasers narrowly lose to the Toledo Mud Hens. It was the first time we’d had both kids to Werner Park to see a baseball game (and not just fireworks), and the first time Hannah had been there since 2015. We had seats in the fourth row by third base, but it was so hot and sunny that we soon retreated to the shade of the Centris kids’ pavilion. I think Hannah and Aaron had a little more fun in the bounce house, on the carousel, on the slide, and climbing in the play area than actually watching the game. We did eventually take them down to watch a few more innings with some ice cream to keep cool (and some cotton candy).

Toward the end of the game, we took a walk down to the berm and a line where kids could run the bases once the game was over. We let Hannah and Aaron head down to the field to make their way around the diamond as I snapped photos from the bleachers, and they each got some coupons for free chicken tenders from Hardees for making the trip. That naturally meant grabbing dinner there, since it was just down the street, and I got to have a Frisco burger for first time in ages.

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On Labor Day, I kicked things off with a long ride up to Schwer Park and back. Then at lunchtime, I went with my folks to a 9/11 Memorial Luncheon down at the Garden Cafe. We got to hear from a handful of speakers over hamburger steak and mashed potatoes, including former Gov. Dave Heineman, Don Bacon, Aaron Hansen from the Omaha PD, Omaha firefighter Michael Davenport, and Mike Conolly, a retired NYC firefighter who was there on 9/11. They all had stories to tell, mostly about where they where on that day twenty years ago and some thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan now, particularly from Congressman Bacon.

My folks got to chat with a few of the speakers afterward, which is always my favorite part of events like these, particularly when it seems like both a pandemic and partisan politics has divided us more than ever.

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Labor Day marked the last day of the season for spray-grounds and splash pads to be open, so we decided to spend our last few moments of summer getting wet down at Looking Glass park with the kids. We got some Little Caesars for dinner, which was conveniently along the way down. Then the kids had a few hours to run around in the spray getting wet, stomping and playing with a few squirt gadgets and towering sprinklers on site. Mommy and I even got into the spray for a little bit before the sun went down and we headed on home.

It was a great three-day weekend with the family, though part of me can’t quite accept yet that summer’s supposed to be over. Maybe once the leaves start changing color, I’ll change my mind. (And please, no Halloween crap yet — that’s just obscene.)

Tidying up, Park Visits, and a new Uniform

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Back on the home front, Vivian’s parents dropped by our house for a little housecleaning on Wednesday. Jack grease up our sliding door and got it rolling again, and Vivian and Donna went through Hannah’s room, making her pick out a number of toys to purge in their effort to see the floor again. By the end of the day, they were able to vacuum and it make it just a bit more livable again, which was lovely.

Afterward, I grilled up some burgers and tots for dinner. Then, Donna gave me a much needed haircut (along with Aaron). It was nice not to have to feel like a hippie before attending a wedding in Cedar Rapids.

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On Thursday, we had a bit more quality time with the kids as Vivian brought them by “Daddy Park” for a quick visit ahead of school starting again. We had some lunch together and let the kids play on the playground and swings a bit, but they sadly seem to be outgrowing the little place and got bored, particularly in the hot sun. Aaron did some play fighting with mommy and me among the flowers and bees, and then we cooled off with some massively expensive drinks and treats down at Jones Bros.

Later that afternoon, we cooled things down a bit down at the All-Play Sprayground. We also picked up Aaron’s tee-ball uniform, which he’ll be using for his first game on Saturday. Then we spent a little time getting nice and wet before heading home.

Next stop: Cedar Rapids and Shannon’s wedding!

Mulberries, VBS, and Aaron’s Birthday

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Summer is here, and that means the mulberries are in full bloom. I took the kids for a walk down 25th Street just to pick up a couple, where several trees seem to be littering their wares all over the sidewalk. Vivian also finally broke out the pool on Wednesday so the kids could cool down a bit, as the temperatures push into the 90s and beyond.

That still hasn’t stopped me from having a few beautiful morning walks, whether to Chick-Fil-A or an old country road just to watch the sunrise. I’ve also been using my bike nearly every day, pedaling by Arby’s for a free lunch (using four-year old coupons that apparently don’t expire) or up to Memorial Park just to stop and smell the roses. I’ve got to keep it up if I want to burn off things like the cheesesteak Runzas I somehow convinced Vivian to make (from a “recipe” consisting entirely of blurry photos on Facebook).

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Hannah’s been attending First City Church’s VBS (“Concrete and Cranes”) down in La Platte. It was held in the old high school next to a few even older buildings, relics from a time when La Platte was a legit town generations ago. A bunch of kids from our area, including the Mills, have been attending the VBS week, and the kids all put on a little performance for the grown-ups on Friday morning, who were invited as a surprise. I had the day off, so I got to go as well, and they even gave us a sack lunch afterward. We were supposed to have a picnic, but a thundershower happened to be rolling through Omaha at the moment and put an end to that.

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Aaron’s birthday was also on Friday, so we picked him up early from a half-day at summer school, where he got a paper crown to celebrate the day. We dropped by Schwer Park to check out their splash pad as a possible spot for Aaron’s party the next day, and we wound up staying for an hour or two. Because of the rain and the weekday, we had the entire place to ourselves, so Hannah and Aaron (and even Daddy) got to run around and get thoroughly soaked — even though we hadn’t brought our swimsuit!

It turned out to be a lovely little park, with a pretty lake and a small, sandy playground in addition to the splash pad. Most important, though, it had those “buckets” that Aaron loves to get dunked underneath, so it seemed like a no-brained destination for a party.

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We celebrated Aaron’s birthday that evening with visits from all four grandparents. Grammy and Pop-Pop came by with some presents, which included some Mario stickers for Aaron to decorate his room. We had some burritos for dinner (at Aaron’s request) and then had him blow out candles on a pair of brownies Donna brought by for a “cake.”

After dinner, we dropped by my parents’ place to continue celebrating. They got Aaron some paper and dice to make his own board games, Uncle Jonny gave him a Mega Man board game, and Uncle Nathan gave him a Dr. Wily action figure. Mommy and I also had a few presents, including a pair of dart guns and a plush “Magolor” from Aaron’s current video game. After the presents, Aaron got to play Mario Maker with Uncle Jonny for an hour, dictating a level design with him — something he’s wanted to do pretty much every time we’ve visited for the last year or two.

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The next day, we returned to Schwer Park for the afternoon, where Aaron got to have several hours to run around getting wet with a bunch of his friends. We got there early enough to claim a few tables for ourselves, and Aaron wore himself out running from one end of the park to the other, chasing after his little friends and then getting dunked repeatedly with the “buckets” at the end of the afternoon (and even Mommy and I wound up joining in).

Hannah picked a few mulberries with Sammy to tide her over until Grammy before the cake. She made a giant camping cake, which was all chocolate except for the tent, which was blueberry. It featured a little fondant Aaron fighting a “tree boss” and a “rock boss” with several other people and a gelatin lake. A few nesting birds kept us company in the pavilion before we left for the evening. We got some burgers at McDonald’s on the way home, and Aaron crashed pretty much immediately afterward.

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We managed to make it back to church bright and early the next morning. They had some waffles for the Wildewood parents in the multi-purpose, so we got to visit with a few oft he grown-ups as Hannah and Aaron got properly sugared up before we headed home.

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Happy birthday, Aaron!