Tag Archives: Walnut Creek

Soaking up the Sun

IMG_1759IMG_1942

It’s that time of year again, the corn is tall, temperatures are pushing 100, and Memorial Park welcomes thousands of people for a free concert. Vivian and I brought our kids back to the park for the first time since 2019 and shared a blanket with our friends Sarah, Jenny, Kody, and the “other Matt Johnson” for a steamy evening of music and fireworks. The opening acts were a local group called “Da Crabby Blues Band” and Dave Mason, who first found fame with the rock band ” Traffic.” The headliner this year was Sheryl Crow, whose music I heard non-stop on the radio from the late 90s to early 2000s.

The kept hydrated as the sun went down, and I was able to take Hannah close to the stage to see some of the singers up close, and take photos, just like daddy. Many of the other concertgoers were very happy to let Hannah sneak up close with me, which was nice. Vivian kept the kids occupied with snacks and a few funny rounds of Mad Libs, which the kids seemed to enjoy. Then we got a lovely fireworks show lasting at least ten minutes to finish off the night.

IMG_2045IMG_2053

I spent some time the next day mowing the lawn and scraping paint on the house in preparation for a fresh coat. I also dragged Vivian and the kids down to Walnut Creek for an ice cream social with the Sarpy GOP. It was around 100 degrees but still nice and breezy. Our kids got a couple scoops and then sat and played nicely as a series of politicians gave brief speeches to a couple dozen people in the pavilion. Among the guests were our new Congressman Mike Flood, Sen. Deb Fischer, Lt. Gov. candidate Joe Kelly, Congressman Don Bacon, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, and several people for city council, OPPD, and other county or city level positions. Bacon also brought along with him two Members of Parliament from the UK, who he was showing around Omaha for some reason.

My parents were also there, course, as was our friend Luke and the Sandines. Mostly, it was nice just to introduce Vivian and the kids to some of these chat it up again with some elected officials I keep talking to them about.

2022-07-24 19.51.232022-07-24 18.49.15-1

And because we didn’t feel quite busy enough, we decided to take the kids to a week-long VBS (our third this year) at Wildewood Church. I came along this time to keep an eye on the kids as they participated in various Australian-themed activities, such as making boomerangs and learning about Ayres Rock and the Aboriginal people of the area.

The fun never stops!

A rally in two parts

I got to have a massively fun three-day weekend packed with activities with family, friends, and some political candidates. I took a whole day off on Friday just to make room for it all, but even still things seemed to spill over into Thursday and Monday nonetheless.

2022-04-28 12.14.092022-04-28 12.36.09

I kicked things off on Thursday by riding my bike down to Chick-Fil-A (during a brief non-raining moment) to have lunch with Vivian and Hannah after BSF. We’d been planning an outing to “eat more chicken” and wanted to do it before BSF ended for the year. I also wanted to give Hannah the chance to use the little playground area one last time before she had completely outgrown it (as she’s a fraction of an inch away). I even had enough points in my Chick-Fil-A app to get us all ice cream cones for dessert, so it was just about perfect.

2022-04-29 11.01.36IMG_6282

I took Friday off and got to have some more quality time with Hannah by taking a bike ride around the lake at Walnut Creek. It had been gray and raining earlier, but it was dry and sunny enough for a lovely little ride. We got to see some of the tulips in bloom and explore the park a little bit in-between rounds of pedaling around the bike path. The best thing about visiting the park on a Friday is how quiet the whole place is, with only a handful of pedestrians sharing the trail with us.

Then at lunchtime, I took my dad down to the Treragon Golf Course’s clubhouse to meet Brett Lindstrom, the guy I’m hoping will be our next governor. Around four other constituents showed up, along with a writer for the New Yorker named Peter Slevin. It made for a very small gathering, and a great opportunity to ask direct questions on issues like critical race theory, an endorsement from the NSEA, and abortion — with time for detailed answers afterward (and a photo with the candidate, of course).

IMG_6503IMG_6512

The real reason I took Friday off, however, was to drop by a rally with Donald Trump that evening at the I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb. Trump was scheduled to hold the outdoor event with Charles Herbster, but some bad weather had been predicted for days, and at the last moment it was postponed until Sunday.

The event itself was still fun, and I got to hang out with some of the VIPs, including Matt Schlapp of CPAC and David Bossie from Citizens United (who was there to promote a new film). There were a few other familiar faces in the crowd, including Allie French from Nebraskans Against Government Overreach, legislature candidate Julie Fredrickson, and Beard Vet, who had his own tailgate party with burgers and coffee. I also got to meet Steve Rhodes, a young Trump cosplayer, who led the crowd in chants of USA before the event and then stopped to get a photo with Herbster afterward.

IMG_6563IMG_6546

The line of storms that cancelled Friday’s Trump Rally spawned tornadoes and hail in the Midwest, so postponing until Sunday was the right call. We mostly got wind and rain in Omaha, some of which blew open the window in Aaron’s room and made some a bit of a wet walk with him the next day.

Then that evening, we celebrated our friend Kody’s birthday. He smoked a variety of meats for dinner, which we ate with a handful of friends. We had about three pairs of kids among us, so I got a kiddo group picture to mark the occasion of our little ones growing up together. Then we finished off the evening with some lemon meringue pie and tres leches cake for dessert, along with the obligatory blowing-out of candles.

IMG_6600IMG_6597

Sunday was May Day, so Donna dropped by with some flowers for us and a few treats for the kids, which was a nice little surprise. The kids also got to give Bella a couple walks up and down the hill.

Afterward, we headed downtown to the Holland Center for “a Sensory-Friendly Omaha Symphony Concert,” sponsored by the Autism Action Partnership as a part of the Common Senses Festival. Aaron got to have an up-close look at a cello prior to the show, and then the orchestra played a medley of songs from composers like Aaron Copland, who I was happy to tell Aaron he shared a name with.

IMG_70062022-05-01 18.55.45

Then came the Trump Rally. The weather was just about perfect (especially compared to Friday), with temperatures in the 70s and clear, blue skies. I wound up arriving very late around 3:30, right in-between speakers David Bossie and NFL star Jack Brewer. I squeezed through the crowd, getting close enough for a few snapshots of Brewer praying over Charles Herbster before Herbster gave a brief stump speech. The crowd was smaller than other Trump rallies I’d attended, around 2000-3000 or so, but it was just as energetic, with people dancing to a familiar playlist of songs. I also saw many familiar faces, including Ian Swanson from KFAB at the media deck, where RSBN was interviewing Mike Lindell. Other VIPs in the crowd included Lt. Gov. Foley and Matt Innis up at the front.

Around 5:15, Donald Trump took the stage to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and talked for nearly two hours (which you can watch here in its entirety). Much of his speech was about the 2020 election and his poll numbers looking at 2024 (complete with slides). He pointed out a few of his special guests in the front, including Jack Brewer and Mike Lindell, and he let Herbster take the mike for a minute or two halfway through. I was quite happy to get close enough for some terrific shots up close, including a few of a friend or two in the stands behind Trump. The event wrapped with YMCA by the Village People as Trump danced his way off stage, and then I hurried back to the car to rush home and share some of my 600+ pictures.

IMG_7243IMG_7259

As if that weren’t enough politics for one week, the next day I had a luncheon with the River City Republicans with four guest speakers — gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau, her running mate (and talk radio host) Trent Loos, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, and State Treasurer John Murante.

Thibodeau and Loos gave brief stump speeches and has some Q&A with the audience (which included Thibodeau’s dad and sister). Evnen talked about election security and John Murante spoke about the Biden administration pressuring states to enact his “build back better” agenda and spy on citizens’ bank accounts. It was a nice, informative meetup, and I got to have a little extra time chatting with some of the same folks who had been to the Trump rally the previous day.

The state primary is next Tuesday, so I expect things may calm just a bit before we head into November — and then the race for 2024 will kick off.

Bikes, horses, and a Haunted Hayrack

We’ve hit Peak Fall and are enjoying some of the best weather of the year, making the most of the Great Outdoors before winter rolls around.

IMG_6145IMG_6226

Last weekend, Jack and Donna’s neighbor Toni invited us over for an outdoor movie night in their yard. We dropped by with the kids to have some chili dogs and potato salad as they played on a few of their swings as a reel of weird, old cartoons played on their makeshift bedsheet-turned-movie-screen. I think the kids had a little more fun making dancing shadows behind the screen rather than anything that happened to be projecting on it.

The next day, we stopped by Ralston Park after church, just because the weather was so absolutely gorgeous. We got some McDonald’s for lunch and then let the kids run around a bit on the playground afterward. Aaron and I both hit the swings for a bit, and then we practice some martial arts together afterward.

2021-10-14 12.11.24IMG_6370

I kept busy the following week with an Education Program at work, which involved me putting together presentations and then doing a group photo hanging from a ladder in a hotel lobby, which was interesting. I still had time to bike down to the local Chick-Fil-A for lunch with Hannah and Vivian after BSF on Thursday. I’d been hoping their play area (which Hannah is still small enough for) would be open, but it wasn’t. We still enjoyed having some chicken together and seeing some of the restaurant’s pumpkin décor.

Then on Friday, we took the kids down to Mangelsen’s to look for some Halloween costumes. Hannah decided to be a Pink Power Ranger, while Aaron wanted to be a Cat Ninja. We couldn’t quite find a suitable cat or ninja, so he decided to be a Skull Ninja instead, which seemed to work just as well.

2021-10-16 13.52.13IMG_6415

On Saturday, Vivian took Aaron clothes shopping while I took Hannah on a lovely bike ride around Walnut Creek Lake. I showed Hannah the “secret” entrance via the tunnel near Santa Fe Circle, which went through a tunnel under Highway 370 and through a bit of woods before coming up to the lake. Hannah and I pedaled around the entire lake together, stopping to get a closer look at the water (and a stray leaf) and stopping at a playground before circling back.

On Sunday, Pastor Ron donned a dreadlock wig to talk about Samson as the kids learned about the Ten Commandments. Then that afternoon, Hannah did a little horseback riding with her friends with American Heritage Girls. She’s been learning about taking care of horses as part of earning a badge with her group (as is Sammy), and she wound up riding for 45 minutes while on horseback for the first time.

IMG_6454IMG_6480

Capping off the weekend was a trip to James Arthur Vineyards for a Haunted Hayrack Ride. It’s an immensely popular event, with tickets typically selling out in less than half an hour once they go on sale. We bumped into our friends Jenny and Kody while we were there (who I hope still read this blog, since I mentioned it!) and had some ribeye steaks and wine together for dinner (with Kira the dog begging for scraps). Owner Jim Ballard told a few “true” ghost stories to the group about such characters as local ghost Charlie Werner (who has a port-style wine named after him). Then local musician Chris Sayre sat down to play music on a saw and tell a few ghost stories, such as the “Legend of Blackbird Hill.”

Of course, there was also a haunted hayrack ride, which mostly involved us puttering around the vineyard in the dark while a lone guy in an orange mask chased after us. It was a beautiful evening with or without the haunting, though, and we were even allowed to take glasses of wine along on the trip, none of which spilled.

Halloween’s just around the corner, and next on my agenda will be scrambling up some costumes for Vivian and me — as well as a family trip to Sioux Falls right before Jenny’s Halloween party. The fun never stops!

RiffTrax, Water Wheel, and Return to the SumTur

IMG_05552021-08-17 17.37.52

It’s the start of a new school year, so Vivian and I are crashing back into the routine of getting the kids up, fed, and out the door every morning. Aaron’s going to public school while Hannah’s being homeschooled, which is a boon for her, since she and mommy can drop by Trader Joe’s with me for an educational shopping trip buying cheese and figs just for fun in the middle of the day. Hannah also learned how to make her own macarons.

Then on Tuesday, we had a RiffTrax event for the first time in well over a year. Mark, Richard, and my dad joined me at Culver’s for some pre-movie burgers before we headed over to Twin Creek to see Mike and the “Bots” make fun of Hobgoblins, a favorite from the MST3K days. It was nice to have yet another bit of normalcy back in our lives (Richard and I also got to be twins with our shirts).

IMG_0665IMG_0724


Then on Saturday, I had a lovely bike ride to the Walnut Creek Recreation area and back before we took the kids down to Cimarron Woods for a fun, wet morning at Emmett’s birthday party. They have a lovely splash pad (with a giant water wheel) and playground there, so Aaron and Hannah got some quality time running around and getting splashed for a couple hours.

We got to chat with a handful of our grown-up friends while we were there and had a batch of sandwiches and chips for lunch. Afterward, we broke out the cake for a bit of a sugar high before winding down for a bit and getting a family photo with the birthday boy.

2021-08-21 20.14.12-1IMG_0786

Then that evening, we took the kids back out for a family movie night down at the SumTur. Summer movies there have been an annual staple for us for a couple years, but we hadn’t all four made it down since about 2019. The kids got a little time to run around (and flip chairs) before the movie started (with Looney Tunes short, Duck Amuck as a prelude). They showed Kaya and the Last Dragon, a movie we’d already seen via Disney+, but the kids seemed to enjoy it just as much the second time through.

We’ve got a few days now to catch our breath before we have another crazy, busy weekend celebrating my birthday. That’s something I’ll be looking forward to (so stay tuned).