Monday, October 29, 2012

Playing Dress Up

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The Merry Month of Halloween marches on, and that of course means more costuming with our friends. On Friday night, the s'mores family paid a visit to the Omaha Jitterbugs for a night of swing dancing and a costume contest. We didn't win, but we did manage to make it into the finals. Adam took first place as Bob Ross (with a Pretty Little Tree). Other noteworthy contenders included Takashi as Michael Jackson (who led us once again in a round of Thriller), Maggie as Captain America and Eric as a Low-Key Loki, and a completely unintentional James Jonah Jameson, the grouchy editor of the Bugle (see Spider-Man). It felt good to be dancing again with our usual round of swing-dancing friends, though it's kind of hard to Lindy Hop while wearing a giant cardboard graham cracker, so I didn't keep it on for very long.

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On Saturday Night, we went to Ruth's very extensively decorated house for Merinda's annual Halloween Bash. Everyone got to dress up again, and this time Hannah got to be an extremely cuddly lion (which I was able to turn into a manticore with the addition of a few horns). Frank Ortiz got to be a disgruntled ladybug, Joe was some kind of Elvis, and Ben Peet got turned into a Rug-Bee (from Griffindor House). It was a fun night that evening included plenty of our usual weirdness and even some dancing in the cleared-off living room, though without Takashi to lead us we couldn't successfully complete another Thriller dance (but that didn't keep us from trying).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The s'mores family

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October's always been a month jam-packed with events, and one reason for this is the slew of birthdays that all seem to cluster around this time of year. On Friday night, I paid a visit to the Eagle's Lodge to join in Jenny and Lisa's birthday jam. On Saturday afternoon. Vivian and I dropped by her old neighbor Toni's house for a fun outdoor birthday barbecue (bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, anyone?)

That evening, Hannah got to experience dressing up for Jenny's annual birthday costume party. This was our first chance to dress up as a family, so we decided to come as a s'more. I got to squeeze myself between two large piece of cardboard graham cracker, Vivian wore a Hershey Bar apron, and Hannah got herself stuffed with a couple extra onesies to be our little marshmallow. Our collection of costumes took third prize at the party, coming in second to Paul and Leane as a couple of Spartans and Heather was a shower scrub. We had several other noteworthy costumers in our ranks, including Tamra and Ryan as Aesop's Tortoise and Hare, Libby as a bamboo-wielding kung-fu person, and Jon Paper and his (malfunctioning) duct-tape pants of the future.

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Of course, no autumn would be complete with a hayrack ride, so on Sunday afternoon we took Hannah on her very first. The Halls at Twin Valley Church host an annual potluck dinner at their ranch south of Omaha, so we dropped by with a couple dozen other church members and got toted around a couple square miles of countryside. The weather was darn near perfect for this time of year — around 80 degrees and quite cozy (at least until the clouds and wind started rolling in later in the day). We finished off the day evening with a roaring campfire and s'mores once the sun went down. We also had chili and soup for dinner with such treats as Donna's miniature Ghost Cookies for dessert.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ah, autumn!

Fall is definitely the most festive time of year for the Johnson Family in Omaha. October is always packed with fun things happening outdoors and in, and the weather is more than accommodating for those of us who enjoy the colors changing this time of year.

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On Friday night, Tamra dropped by to babysit Hannah so Vivian I could have a date night. We went to the premier of Atlas Shrugged Part 2 at the Oakview AMC (which was much better than Part 1 — I highly recommend checking out) and then had a late dinner together at the Zin Room downtown. The next morning, we dropped by our friend Phil's 5 Buck Lunch Truck for some breakfast burritos. If you're ever in the vicinity of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Store on Galvin in Bellevue, stop by and check it out.

That evening, our autumnal festivities kicked off with a pumpkin-carving party at our mutual friend Amanda's house in mid-town Omaha. Several people brought tasty pumpkin-related goodies (including a pumpkin liqueur), and we had some fun playing 80s-movie charades and carving up pumpkins as a storm passed briefly overhead. We also had amusing "deaths" taped to our backs and we had to spend the evening guessing how we "died." I can't remember who won the pumpkin-carving contest, but we had plenty of worthy competitiors. Hannah also seemed to enjoy her first genuine Halloween party, despite a brief plague of spiders (both real and plush).

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On Sunday, Hannah got to experience another fall tradition — her first trip to Vala's Pumpkin Patch. Vivian and I were somehow able to beat the traffic by taking the secret passageway on 168th street (thanks, Eric). Hannah got to see some pig races and wander around a corn maze with us for the very first time, though she's unfortunately not old enough yet to participate in the go carts of the jumping pillows just yet. She did get to see a giant pile of colorful fall leaves for the first time, which she spent a few minutes playing in as everyone with a camera (including passersby) snapped pictures of her adorableness. We got enough exercise to justify having succotash and giant pork tenderloin sandwiches for dinner before calling it a night.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Birthday sushi binge

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At the end of September, the Johnson Family celebrated another vivacious year of Vivian. My mom and dad sent her a lovely cheese gift package, and I arranged to have a special cake bouquet delivered at some random point during the day. Vivian actually spent most of her day driving dad to the DMV and taking mom to the dentist after a long, expected night at the airport (trying to get home from California). That evening, however, it was all about Vivian. She asked me to make her a deep dish pizza for dinner, which was once again an adventure in kneading dough and figuring out how many toppings I could pile on top of the crush without turning everything into soup. Afterward, we dropped by Ted and Wally's in the Old Market for some free birthday ice cream for dessert.

On Friday, I took Vivian down to the Eagle's Lodge for her annual birthday jam. The crowd was a little thin, but we still had a fairly decent stock of leads, which was good to see just a couple weeks after Cowtown. Grammy and Grampy had Hannah for the evening, so we were able to dance without juggling babysitting duties.

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The next day, Vivian and a bunch of our friends went down to Wasabi on Maple Street for a giant sushi binge. We'd been to Wasabi a couple times before, including once for dinner, so we were well-versed in how to order from the all-you-can-eat sushi menu without winding up in the hospital. What we weren't prepared for, however, was all of our food coming to us piecemeal, which meant we spent a great deal of time trying to remember what we'd ordered and eating off one another's plates.

We crashed/recovered afterward at Frank's house, where he'd set up a fire pit for s'mores and random goofing around to wind down for the evening.

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Jack's birthday was actually also on Saturday, so we took him out for his free round of ice cream on Saturday before our sushi binge. Then on Sunday we took him and Grammy out to dinner at Red Lobster. The next week, Vivian and I dropped by the downtown Farmer's Market for one last time. Winter seems to have nearly snuck up on us, reminding me what it's like to venture outside without a jacket. We stocked up on kale and bok choy and then dropped by the Upstream for lunch.

On Sunday, we finished off our weekend by celebrating our friend Lisa's birthday at church with a "surprise" potluck downstairs.