Tag Archives: Wildewood

Trunks & Treats

It’s Halloween time again, which means enjoying plenty of fall food such as acorn squash and Halloween-themed pasta (which I call “Spook-Ghetti“) — along with all the usual Halloween sweets, of course.

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Aaron has a few days off of school (thanks to some parent/teacher conferences), so Vivian took him to BSF on Thursday. Afterward I biked on up to join them for lunch at Chick-Fil-A, something I’d done this a number of times with Vivian and Hannah, but never with Aaron. It was nice to spend a little time with our son having some chicken sandwiches — and an ice cream cone we got for free. He even spent a few minutes in the play area before we went home. Likely, he’ll have outgrown it the next time we come by.

We had some beautiful weather on Saturday for Hannah to sell chocolate bars with the girls from AHG outside Sam’s Club. Then in the afternoon, I dragged the kids to my parents’ house to help rake up some of the leaves that had fallen in their backyard. Naturally, they got to play in them a bit as well, but we wound up bagging five giant bags of leaves before we were done. There are more than enough leaves to have to do this again soon. Hopefully when they all fall down it will still be warm enough to rake them up without jackets.

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Then on Sunday, Vivian and I wore orange and black to church for Halloween eve. Then that afternoon, we took the kids out for for a couple Trunk or Treat events. The first was down at Wildewood, where we met up with the Campbells and the Lenarts to get candy from a handful of our friends from church. We saw some creative trunks decorated with themes such as Pac-Man, Monsters Inc., and even Insurance mascots. One had a quiz on the Ten Commandments, which I think had approval from Farmer/Pastor Ron. The kids got to play a few carnival-style games afterward and have some hot dogs and cotton candy before we headed on.

Then on the way home, we stopped by Heritage Hill Church of the Nazarene for their Trunk or Treat event immediately afterward (where we coincidentally bumped into our friend Debby, with Emily in tow). There were some swings and a bounce house for the kids to play in, along with a hayrack ride where they got to “pick” a few pumpkins from the bottom of the hill. Hannah jumped into a haystack, swung around with Aaron, and somehow lost a tooth. We got some chili for dinner before collecting some more candy and chucking a few pumpkins. and then the kids got to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown as the sun went down.

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Then at long last came Halloween night! We had some pizza for dinner before Grammy came by with Bella to watch the door at our house, and then we took our kids for a long evening of trick-or-treating. We started off at my parents’ house and then walked their neighborhood as the sun went down. Then we drove up the street to visit a few neighbors by Grammy’s house, specifically Tom and Toni next door. Then we finished off with our own neighborhood, including a handful of nicely decorated houses just down the street.

I probably had more than my fill of candy throughout the (including some the treats left at work), but I hope the nice, long walk did a bit to offset it. Happy Halloween, everybody!

Zoomerang and a Four-Day (Working) Weekend

We’ve had another ridiculously busy week here in Omaha — a week where I actually took two days off work just to fit in everything that I wanted to get done. Those two days had some lovely, cool weather for working on the house, and Vivian and I had loads of fun with the kids on all the other days as well.

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First off was a full five days of an Australian-themed VBS at Wildewood, most of which revolved around being “fearfully and wonderfully made,” a la Psalm 139:14. For five days straight, the kids got to do crafts like make boomerangs, dot paintings, sun pillows, fossils, blood bags, and fingerprints. They also got to do quite a bit of running around with 139 other kids, playing freeze tag with pool noodles and relay races with hula hoops.

Of course, they also had scripture time with a few “Aussie cos-players” in our congregation, doing a bible “game show,” and memorizing scripture in exchange for tiny koala bears as a reward. Hannah even got to be a part of an impromptu presentation of the Nativity Story (as a sheep). They also raised over $700 for the Children’s Hunger Fund, a charity that seemed to be tied in with the VBS program. Around 60-70 volunteers helped out (including Vivian and me, who took pictures) with just a few cute snacks to keep us going through the week.

It was exhausting, but quite a rewarding experience, particularly all the quality time we got with the kids being a part of the whole program.

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I had a relatively quiet week at work otherwise. On Tuesday, Vivian brought the kids by for a picnic lunch down at Memorial Park. We ate underneath a shady tree and then gave Hannah and Aaron a while to roam the park, playing in the sandy playground area of “fighting bosses” elsewhere before it was time to return to the car.

Then on Friday, we took the kids down to BCC for a special movie night. They got to spend some time on the playground beforehand (putting on a show for us), with Hannah discovering some of the playground equipment had mysteriously shrunk since they’d been there last. Hannah and Vivian got some popcorn and ran around a bit before the movie started. Then we all sat down to watch The Little Rascals, a movie I hadn’t seen since high school. Among the films many cameos was a certain President of the United States, who Hannah commented later “looked a lot like Donald Trump.”

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In the midst of all this, I had a bunch of actual work going on. On Wednesday night, we discovered leaving VBS that we had a flat tire, and the jack in my car somehow wouldn’t get loose. We also discovered the jack our friends had on hand, and the one I down to Walmart to buy just for the occasion, weren’t high enough to lift our CR-V off the ground. We had about three or four men from Wildewood helping us with this predicament, one of whom eventually decided to lift the CR-V by putting the jack under the control arm rather than the frame, which seemed to do the trick. Even after changing the tire, however, we weren’t out of the woods, as the air pump we used to fill the spare wound up draining the battery, and I eventually had to change it a few days later once we discovered it could no longer hold a charge. We’ll also have to replace all four tires, since there’s not enough tread to repair the one that went flat (but least we still got home)!

I spent the rest of my free time busy with home projects, such as power-washing the siding and the deck and then doing some painting and waterproofing on them, respectively. I rented a pressure-washer for this and enjoyed getting a couple years’ worth of dirt and grime blasted off our deck once again (especially comparing before and after). The weather was also quiet accommodating, with highs in the 70s and 80s no rain to keep me from finishing up before the end of the weekend.

All in a week’s work!

Soaking up the Sun

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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.

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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.

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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!

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.

Freedom Weekend in Nebraska

It’s been another busy weekend for me as summer makes way for fall, with plenty of politics involved while still making time for the kids.

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On Monday, there was an open house at Chandler Elementary, so we got to chat with Aaron’s first grade teacher and learn how his first few weeks back at public school have been going. We also got to see his locker, his cubby, and some of the things he’s been working on. We also dropped by the art room, the library, and the gym before playing a bit on the playground before heading home.

Then on Wednesday, I took a lovely bike ride in the cooler weather, stopping my Memorial Park to see their “Tribute of Flags” honoring victims of 9/11 on the south lawn. Afterward, I rode up Happy Hollow to visit a few houses featured in movies I’d seen, including Jack Nicholson’s house in About Schmidt and Martin Landau’s house in Lovely Still. I even dropped by Warren Buffett’s house on the way back to work (it was essentially right on the way).

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On Friday night, I drove up to Ashland to attend Freedom Fest, a combination of “Woodstock and CPAC” according to organizers. I had a hot dog and some barbecue from a few of the food trucks while chatting with a few attendees in the garden area of the Round the Bend ballroom, where it was held. Kids got to play in a bounce house as grown-ups flung axes while waiting for the program to begin. Chris Baker played emcee, and keynote speakers included school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis, Ben Tapper, and New Jersey gym owner Ian Smith, who made headlines keeping his doors open during Covid lockdowns. Smith encouraged attendees to get involved at the local level rather than waiting for “some guy at the top to solve all our problems.”

The evening ended with a performance by Bryson Gray, a conservative rapper in a floppy MAGA hat and denim and rapping about vaccines and Trump. He seemed to be the favorite of the young folks in the audience. A pastor from South Dakota brought his girls all the way down to see him, and they stood in the front singing right along, clearly familiar with his work. It was a fun night with even more attendees than organizer Tim Davis expected, which was a nice surprise considering Eventbrite cancelled all ticket sales a week earlier.

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On Saturday, we got up early to take Aaron in his Mega Man outfit for another baseball game, this time with a Halloween theme. He got to throw and bat and high-five the other team members before walking his bucket around to get some candy.

Then that afternoon, I went down to Lincoln for a large Freedom Rally on the capitol steps, featuring several people speaking out against government mask and vaccine mandates and calling for a special session to put a stop to them. There was a fairly good crowd, between 500-1000 people over the two hours I was there, and cars passing by honked and waved. I even managed to find my twin in red, white, and blue as I made my way through the patriotic crowd.

(And of course, no trip to Lincoln would be complete without pho from Pho Nguyenn.)

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Sunday was a relatively quiet day as I took Hannah to church but Vivian and Aaron stayed home sick. Then that afternoon I dropped by Central Park, where Wildewood was having a “block party” for the neighborhood. Hannah got some time in a bounce house and got her face painted. I had a burger and chatted with Pastor Ron, who just returned from Florida, and a DJ played music as we played some nine-square and cornhole before heading home.

Then that evening, we sat the kids down to watch Star Wars — the original from 1977, unspecialized. It was fun to show them the film for the first time, though I’m not sure how interested they were in seeing it. I was just happy to share another bit of childhood with them (and not in a silly way where Greedo shoots first).

Together Again

It’s been a busy couple of days preparing for Mother’s Day at our house — a gathering that included all four grandparents and Uncle Jonny, which hasn’t happened since before the pandemic.

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On Sunday, I got up bright and early to put together some eggs benedict for breakfast, which I served up with the kids before getting them ready for church. Then we went to Wildewood Church together, which has some special things for all the moms in the congregation. There were some fancy little cupcakes in the foyer for the moms to take with them down to the café to enjoy, and the kids in Sunday School made a couple charcuterie trays, all decorated with Happy Mother’s Day messages.

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That afternoon I stayed busy getting everything ready for our big family meal together, as well as a table of snacks beforehand. I prepared two legs of lamb, which I seasoned and roasted, followed by a tossed salad, potatoes and vegetables (that Jack and I prepared), and some chocolate liqueur cake for dessert.

We had some fun afterward passing around the Story Elf that the kids got for Christmas. Then we broke out a few presents in the living room. Vivian gave her mom a basket of goodies, and I got my mom a basket with her favorite candy inside. I also had a handful of cheese and chocolates for Vivian, which included a block of Limburger, which Hannah got a whiff of (and said it smelled like poop). The kids also had a painting they painted together, which I helped them do when Mommy was out of the house earlier this week. Aaron also made a story about Mommy while at school, which he got to show her at the end of the day.

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Vivian also got her mom and mine some tomato plants for their gardens. Then on Tuesday, she went over to my parents’ house with Hannah to help and get them planted — giving her a little horticultural education in the process.

In other news, Aaron has dubbed his plush hedgehog “Chippy” and pretends to feed him Doritos. Hannah has also been giving her own toys rides up and down the street via a sleigh fashioned from a plastic sled and a tricycle.

Walk for Life and a Sushi Anniversary

It feels a bit more like January now, as we had a record amount of snow and temperatures back below freezing once again. This may call for more sledding in the coming few days, but we’ve still been finding other things to do in the meantime.

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Last Saturday, I drove down to Lincoln to attend the Walk for Life, my first political outing since Election Day. It was a little below freezing, but apparently warmer than it had been the year before, as a thousand people gathered on the north side of the Capitol. I got to see a few familiar faces in the crowd as a handful of speakers, including Gov. Ricketts, Don Bacon, and Jeff Fortenberry (and his daughter) spoke to the crowd. A handful of newly-elected state legislators were in the crowd as well, including Brett Lindstrom, Julie Slama, and Rita Sanders. There was a launch of pink and blue balloons that sailed by the capitol once the speakers were done, and then the crowd made its way south on Centennial Mall to the University.

I hung around for a little while afterward, taking a brief tour of a nearly empty capitol building, saying hello to Abe, and then dropping by Pho Nguyenn for some Vietnamese food to bring home for lunch — steak pho, spring rolls, and avocado smoothies.

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The following Tuesday, I dropped by Wildewood for their Men of God dinner, where we had Italian food from Spaghetti Works and got to hear from a few men from Abide, a non-profit organization that buys house since in North Omaha to serve as “lighthouses” for the community there.

Then on Saturday, Hannah received her sash and certificate for her participation in Prims from Ms. Ruth. We used to attend every week at BCC before Covid came along, and I hope we’ll be able to start attending again soon.

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In other news, also finally replaced our old dishwasher, which broke way back in September, and we’d been handwashing them ever since. We got some Christmas money from both sets of grandparents that helped to pay for the cost of a new one, a top-rated Bosch model I’d found on Consumer Reports that was only around $500. I even got one in what that matches our cabinets. It took us a while to get it installed, first because the first set of installers claimed we’d have to have our floor torn out to remove the old one, which we didn’t — it just needed a little extra wrestling to pull out, which I did myself. Then we got a record amount of snow, which kept them from coming back until several days later.

That record amount of snow came on Monday — nearly 12 inches and more than we’d seen in a single day since 1975. I had to shovel the driveway three separate times just to keep up, and then I shoveled Donna’s for good measure (including unburying their car). Vivian made some homemade olive garlic bread to keep warm in the meantime. Hopefully we’ll still have enough to go sledding later.

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In the midst of all this, Vivian and I had a Sushi Anniversary! It was initially on Tuesday, and I wore a sushi tie and brought home some “Lover’s Rolls” from Beijing Tokyo to celebrate. I was so busy shoveling snow and also attending the last of my Screwtape Letters bible study (via Zoom), that we put off our proper celebration for the following day.

Vivian’s idea us for both of us to gather sushi from four separate restaurants — combing our take-out orders into a massive sushi feast! I went to Sakura Bana for sushi and maki rolls (also miso soup and salad) and then swung by Umami in Bellevue for a few more. Vivian went by Golden Dragon and Hutong. I even got some shrimp tempura from Aldi, which was as good as any restaurant’s that I’ve had. We both had our fill of sushi and then some, and I had enough to take with me to work the following day for my lunch.

Happy Sushi anniversary, sweetie!

Barbecue Ribs

It’s been a quiet week, and it’s starting to feel a little more like fall, which I’m hoping will mean a few barbecues and fire pits before the snow starts coming. Over the weekend, I gave my parents’ lawn a good mow, and my dad gave us a rack of ribs for dinner, which he’d smoked on the patio all Saturday.

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On Sunday, we took the kids to the Fontenelle Forest for dinner with a group called Our Gathering Place, which is “a mobile monthly community dinner for families with special needs” (and specifically autism). It was a fun little event with food for everybody, as well as balloons, painting, and the usual nature-related activities they have downstairs at the nature center. There were even a few prizes to take home afterward, which was very nice. I only wish we’d had time for a nice walk along the Fontenelle boardwalk, but we mostly enjoyed making some connections with other parents inside.

The event was put on by Kinesha Johnson-Roach, the wife of Jarell Roach, who visited Wildewood to do some comedy back in September, so we felt like we were among friends right from the beginning.

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Then on Tuesday I attended another meet-up with my dad and the Men of God at Wildewood. We had another batch of boneless pork ribs and talked a bit about fellowship, particularly the direction the men’s group would be taking in the future. It seems bonding over food is a part of human culture that goes unrecognized, particularly when it involves cooking meat — a tradition that must date back to our ancient caveman ancestors.

Which reminds me, we’ve got to break out the fire pit one more time before winter.