Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lemon Party

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The weather in Nebraska is constantly changing, with a high of 90 one day and 50 the next. The seasons are gradually shifting from spring to summer, however, and that means enjoying more time in the great outdoors with Hannah, going for walks along the Keystone Trail and giving her a push in a swing for the first time.

And what better way to ring in the new season than with the citrus-filled goodness of an old-fashioned Lemon Party. What is a lemon party, you ask? Why, it's a party with lemon bars, lemonade pie, and lemon drop cocktails, of course! Mostly it was an excuse to have friends over, but it's a little more fun when you have a theme. The whole Johnson family dressed up in yellow, and I got to practice some mixology trying to figure out the best recipe for a lemon drop cocktail. We were also going to watch Grumpy Old Men with Jack Lemmon, but we got a little caught up with Telestrations and general silliness (which is always preferable). Thanks to Tamra, Jenny, Andy, Lisa, Merinda, Jon, Jessica, Mark, Libb, Ben, Heather, and everybody I may have forgotten about for dropping by.

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On Sunday, Hannah turned five months old, so that meant Vivian and I had to take her outside for another photo shoot of adorableness. One of the "props" in our photo shoot was an old blanket made by my grandmother out of my grandfather's old jeans. I snapped a picture of Hannah on the blanket in the same exact way my dad snapped a picture of me on the very same blanket when I was Hannah's age.

That evening, Vivian and I dropped by Jessica's new apartment to celebrate her newfound independence with a couple of her mutual friends, Sarah Kate, Ryan, and Jacob. We had chips and veggies while Hannah acted generally adorable and wrapped up the evening watching some show on the 90s called Due South.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hearts, bubble wrap, and going 'round the bend

Vivian is convinced that we're in the middle of an echo baby boom, since a countless number of our own friends seem to be popping out kids like we're trying to repopulate a continent. Having received my own wonderful bundle of joy a few months ago, I have one bit of advice for all the other new parents out there — you have no excuse to become a hermit. Seriously. For the first year, at least, your kid is both immobilized and adorable, which means you can carry your tot almost anyplace and people will not only love cooing over your offspring, but said offspring will not be able to run away and stick a fork in an electric socket.

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As such, Vivian had something of a girls' night out, playing cards with a few ladies from her Thursday night women's bible study — Jenny, Lydia, and Tamra. I tagged along and played a hand of Hearts with them while tending to Hannah and nibbling on nachos. She was a good girl throughout most of the night, and I was able to make her laugh on cue by enthusiastically naming different Mexican foods. There's nothing that livens up a party quite as much as a cute baby. Remember that, new parents.)

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On Saturday, a line of thunderstorms rolled across the midwest, spawning some deadly tornadoes down in Oklahoma. Omaha was in the warning zone as well, but all we got up here was some brief, torrential rain. Our street turning into something of a mini-waterfall, with water shooting down the street at such a rapid clip that it created tiny "fountains" over small tar patches in the street. (Watch a video of the phenomenon here.)

On Sunday, our church celebrated the 100-month birthday of Rose Johnson, which is apparently a Chinese tradition. The whole Johnson family treated the congregation to lunch and assortment of desserts in celebration of their daughter's life, and then we all set off "fireworks" (as in bubble wrap) at one o'clock to finish off the celebration. It's nice to be part of a church that does things like this so regularly with one another.

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Monday meant back to work for me, but I decided to take Vivian out on something of a "surprised date" that evening. I had a Living Social coupon for Round the Bend Steakhouse, a restaurant near Ashland that is likely known for one particularly delicacy: beef testicles. Yes, Vivian and I both had some as an appetizer, and then went on to have some rib-eye steaks. Hannah was there to witness the whole thing, of course, but she was content to play with the plastic rings in her car seat. Our waitress even mentioned to us that this was the time to enjoy eating out — when the kids are too young to run around and make a mess of a quiet, dinner date together.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I got to enjoy a three-day weekend over Easter, since I work for a Lutheran-affiliated organization and we have Good Fridays off. It gave me the chance to catch up on all the "nothing" I wanted to do and rub it in the noses of the government employees who like to be all smug every year around President's Day. (You know who you are.)

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On Thursday, I decided to kick off the weekend by taking Vivian out for a date night! We went to the Zin Room in downtown Omaha to try out some Lori Scott's basil chicken and bayou shrimp pasta sipping on some sweet white zinfandel. I'd heard good things about he place from a co-worker who highly recommended the wine-and-butter-infused broccoli. Afterward, we dropped by the AMC theater across the scree to watch The Hunger Games. I'd read the book in advance and found the film followed it pretty closely. I wasn't sure how to react to this, as the story unfolded just as I'd expected and left very few surprises for me. It was still fun to watch, though.

On Friday night, Vivian and I were scheduled to set up at JNO. This was much easier than expected, since someone showed up early and did nearly everything for us, so all we had to do was take people's money and snap picture of Hannah in her "I love swing dancing" onesie (lovingly crafted by our friend Lisa). We stayed until the shim sham just to prove to all the other parents out there that you don't have to wall yourself off at home every Friday night watching Netflix just because you have a kid. Hooray for being sociable!

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Hannah's first Easter was full of food, candy, and awesomeness. She got a couple adorable outfits to wear for her first Easter — a cute blue dress and a peach-colored dress with its own Easter Bonnet. Vivian's parents dropped by with Easter baskets that they'd hidden around our yard when we weren't looking. Hannah got her own little Easter basket, and after collecting all the goodies outside we went inside to start devouring candy.

Easter dinner came soon enough, which consisted of glazed ham, beans, green fluff, deviled eggs, and all of our usual Easter foods. I collapsed in a food coma afterward and called my own folks to wish them a happy Easter holiday.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Storming the castle

We're well on our way into spring now. Or is it summer? It's hard to tell with the way the weather keeps messing with our minds. In any case, it's been a delightful season full of lunch outdoors and trips to the park with Hannah.

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Speaking of getting out, Vivian and I dropped by Twin Valley Church on Friday to deliver a surprise birthday party to our good friend Don Stubbs, who happened to turn 60. I doodled a caricature on Don on the whiteboard to greet in when he walked in, and a couple dozen guests huddled in the dark multipurpose basement to wait for Don and Deena to arrive. I think the surprise came off successfully. We watched a slideshow I put together and stuck around for an hour or two eating cake and vittles as Don opened a variety of over-the-hill gag gifts. I was in my element, of course, snapping photos and video throughout the entire night.

Afterward, we dropped by Mark's house for a late night full of goofy movie karaoke via Yoostar on his Xbox. Hannah nearly slept through the whole thing, but then I made the mistake of playing Leonidas in 300 yelling "This is Sparta!" loud to enough to bring Hannah well out of whatever baby dreamland she was in.

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On Saturday night, Vivian and I had fun "storming the castle" for Kaleb's annual murder mystery extravaganza. This year, the theme was based loosely around The Princess Bride. The event was held in a charming little reception hall called Lucile's which felt like it came out of another time. This was primarily because its eccentric previous owner decorated the interior with a hodgepodge of architecture stolen from other historic buildings: ceilings and walls covered in doors from various hotels, leaded windows from the old Brandies Home, an antique fireplace from the old Wilcox House in Council Bluffs, and crown moldings from the old Cornhusker hotel in Lincoln.

I became Fighter Nangar of Persia, and Vivian got to be a nursemaid (so we could bring Hannah along for night). We bumped into several familiar kings, archers, rangers, privates, and miracle-makers throughout the night. I didn't get to untangle more than one tiny thread or two in a very tangled plot (as Kaleb painstakingly explained at the end of the night), but it was loads of fun.