Tag Archives: Wildewood Park

A candidate, a fish fry, and a Jesus Revolution

We had another fairly busy week making our way out of winter and toward Lent, kicking things off on Sunday with some Triple Pepperoni Pizza from Casey’s and watching The Indian in the Cupboard.


On Monday, I got a haircut at Donna’s house after work on my way to meet Eric Jon Boerner, a Republican candidate for President, at Barley’s Bar in Council Bluffs. I hadn’t heard of until I learned of this campaign stop. Around 12 other people joined me at a couple tables and chatted with him about alternate energy, immigration, and other issues that seem considerably lukewarm compared to fiery topics being debated in congress and state legislatures, like sex changes for minors and drag queen story hours.

Boerner is a businessman from Washington State, has not held elected office before, and seemed like a moderate trying to find ways to reach out to Gen Z than engaging in “culture war” issues. I got to shake his hands afterward and told him his campaign was a ‘long shot,” but meeting and greeting people in an early primary state is certainly the right way to start a campaign.

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Then on Tuesday, Mama Ginny came to stay with us while the Mills are away and spend some quality time with her son Harold. I dropped by Wildewood for the Men of God dinner to have some shrimp and sausage over noodles while finishing the 33 Series and meet some people from Martinwood Christian Church in Council Bluffs.

Then on Wednesday, Aaron went back to Royal Rangers and got to play outside with his friends for a bit, now that the sun is up past seven o’clock, thanks to Daylight Saving Time. (I spent my time catching up on more reading while sipping an iced coffee.)

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I’ve also been riding my bike, of course, getting our four days during the week over my lunch break. I was able to ride around some of my usual favorite spots, including a trail through Wildewood Park in Ralston. They finally fixed the bridge that led to the 84th Street overpass, where I walked with Vivian the day before I proposed to her (on the very first Sushi Anniversary).

I had Friday off for work, so Vivian and I went by the AMC in Council Bluffs to see Jesus Revolution, a very well-done movie about the “Jesus Freaks” of the late 1960s. Hannah got some quality time with grandma and grandpa in the meantime.


Then that evening, we dropped by Phil and Jen’s house for another fish fry before closing out Lent. We got to hang out with Jenny and Kody and have some fried fish together, along with way too kuch cole slaw and mac and cheese. Josh and Carrie were there again as well, and our kids to play together for a couple of hours, running around with toy swords and battling monsters together for the evening.

Fourth of July 2021

Happy Independence Day, everybody! We had a long weekend packed with events to help celebrate America’s birthday. which meant food, fireworks, and fun with friends and family all weekend long.


We kicked things off on Friday night by taking the kids down to Lake Manawa for a couple hours of swimming. The kids brought along a couple pool noodles and had some fun getting wet and splashing mommy and me as the sun slowly went down. We brought along a few snacks, including some cape gooseberries I got from Trader Joe’s, and I even grabbed a bunch of funnel cake fries from the concession stand, where our friend Jolene was working (and selling her mulberry jam).

They lit some tiki torches once it got dark, and then at ten o’clock they lit up the sky with a twenty minute firework show for us. It was doubly impressive with the reflection from the lake, of course, and there were so many fireworks set off independently that it was hard to tell when the show actually started (though the coordinated music on 101.9 The Keg helped).


The next morning, I got up early for a run and then went to have a pancake breakfast with my folks down at Converge Church.

Then that evening, we gathered with a bunch of our old friends at Jenny and Kody’s house. We hadn’t seen some of these folks in years, and half of them seemed to have kids growing up right before our eyes. We got our fill of party food for the evening, including an American Flag veggie tray made by Vivian, and once the sun went down, we set off a bunch of fireworks in the streets with the kids.


The next morning, I dropped by the Ralston Parade Route to set down a blanket before we got dressed in our best reds, whites, and blues to go to church on the Fourth of July. Grammy dropped by our house with some star-spangled cupcakes afterward, and I dropped by Walmart with Hannah to get some ice cream treats for tonight.

Then Hannah and I went down to Ralston to see the Independence Day Parade for the first time in a couple years. We got to see the usual batch of politicians — Don Bacon, Pete Ricketts, and Jean Stothert all showing up, as well as gubernatorial candidates Herbster, Pillen, and Lindstrom. Hannah got her fill of candy from passersby, including the parish of our friend Father Marcus. There were also Shriners, clowns, and a few American cosplayers in the crowd, but not as many float as one might expect.


Then that evening, we were just wondering what to do for dinner when Grammy called and said her neighbor Toni needed help eating a bunch of Fourth of July food she and her husband Tom had made for guests who somehow didn’t show up. We were more than happy to oblige, showing up with the kids to have some smoked brats, ribs, and pulled pork hot off the smoker in their shady front yard. The kids particularly like the rope swing and the play structure (AKA “tree house,” sans tree), while I enjoyed being made in the shade in a reclining lawn chair.


Then once it started getting dark, we returned to our house to set off some fireworks in our driveway — and apparently the entire neighborhood. I served up ice cream bars and sorbet to all four of our grandparents (and Uncle Jonny), and we all watched as Vivian lit some fountains, sparklers, and artillery shells in the street.

Our neighbors also ignored their own fair share of explosives, including a couple dozen artillery shells all at once as their “grand finale.” It was an explosive end to a weekend that felt very much like a war zone, but a heck of a lot more fun.


We spent most of Monday recovering of all the fun we had. Hannah and I went on a lovely bike ride through a shady trail through Wildewood Park in Ralston, going past the old United Seeds grain bin, and then we went on got root beer floats at Dairy Queen. Afterward, we spent some extra quality time with Harold’s mommy Ginny before she had to go home with the Mills.

We had some more fun on Tuesday when I met up with Vivian and the kids at Banner Park after work. We got a little wet together in the spray round, which was lovely after a hot bike ride, and then we had some pizza before trying out a set of Stomp Rockets Vivian got a year or two ago. Then I biked with Hannah on back to my car at Culver’s with Hannah and got her a sundae before returning home.

Happy birthday, America!

A modest proposal

IMG_7002.JPGI apologize for the brevity of my post on Sunday, considering what big news it was I was posting about, but I was busy this weekend spending some time with Vivian on the one-year anniversary of us “officially” becoming a couple.

Friday night, we went out to Sakura Bana for sushi with Jenny, Hugh, and Sarah. It was the same restaurant where we’d dined a year ago before Vivian let me have it on the way to JNO, so it was a great little reunion. We both got to try out the sushi deluxe, which had such delicacies as salmon and smelt eggs wrapped in seaweed, along with the traditional pieces of raw fish on rice, maki rolls, and the delicate blend of pungent, green-tinted horseradish and ginger petals.

IMG_7015.JPGWe arrived at JNO a bit late because we were, absolutely not kidding, talking in my car, reminiscing about the last year (and NOT MAKING OUT). Nobody believed us, of course. I drove Viv home to get to bed a little early, and then I went to join our other friends from JNO at Village Inn. They were busy eating breakfast at one in the morning and making fun of the Peter Pan doll Merinda won from the crane game. Seriously, it is truly frightening.

Saturday was our big one-year anniversary. We started off the day with Vivian making me a delicious breakfast around eight o’clock. A little later, I took her down to Just Dance for a surprise anniversary present: a private waltz lesson. Vivian’s been eager to try some “pretty” ballroom dancing, so we went through the basics of a box-step and a simple turn within the space of an hour.

DSCF0366.JPGWe got some exercise afterwards walking down a bike path in Ralston. I stumbled upon an old tree house and just had to climb on up and see if I could reach the top. The crawl space to the top platform was just a wee bit small for me, so I had to stop there, but it was fun to feel like a kid again. I used to explore the woods and find tree houses like these when I was a kid back in Michigan.

That evening, we went down to Lo Sole Mio, a lovely Italian restaurant on 32nd street that was an accidental find of mine back when I had my very first date ever a couple years ago. The food there is excellent, though getting in at dinner took over an hour-long wait, and they don’t take reservations. It was well worth it, though.

Of course, by now all of our family and friends also know the magical moment finally happened Sunday afternoon. Vivian and I went to church together at Core Community, which was a very friendly place, and then we stopped back at her place to have some leftovers for lunch. I told Vivian that I had some “work to do,” and then I drove down to Bellevue to have lunch with her parents and ask their permission to pop the question. Viv’s dad asked for “three camels” as a dowry.

IMG_7047.JPGI returned to Vivian’s place and got her to come with me to the Eagle’s Lodge under the auspices that I had somehow lost my little USB thumb drive at the dance hall where we first met. I had arranged for the upper ballroom to be all ours on Sunday so I could pop the question. When I took her there and revealed that I hadn’t lost my USB drive after all, I instead brought out a couple portable speakers and an iPod. We danced there together, alone, as the setting afternoon sun gleamed through the open windows. I had cued up a playlist with some of our favorite songs: Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, (I’ve had) The Time of Ours Lives from the movie Dirty Dancing, and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off with Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. The fourth song was the theme from Ghost, which is one of Vivian’s favorite movies. I had chosen this quiet tune to pop the question. I guided Viv over to the spot on the floor where I first asked her to dance, and then, on a shaking, bent knee, I asked her to be my wife. For a moment, she had the look of someone about to be hit by a runaway freight train, but then she answered, “Yes!” with the connotation as if she had said, “DUH!” That was all I needed to hear as I slipped the ring on her finger.

We returned to my car so we could start telling all of our friends the happy news via cell phone, Facebook, e-mail, and every other medium possible. It was a moment I’d both been dreaming about my entire life, and it finally happened. After a whole year with this wonderful, beautiful woman, we had finally made it “officially” official. We were in for keeps, and we were going to spend the rest of our lives together.

I can’t wait. The best is truly yet to come.