Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A wedding in Cedar Rapids

I had a fun little trip down to Cedar Rapids this weekend for Shannon's wedding — my first cousin once removed. She was also the flower girl at my own wedding, so it was very cool to be able to be there when she tied the knot.

I drove on down bright and early Friday morning, grabbing some breakfast pizza at Casey's and listening to some Jordan Peterson over the four-hour drive. I did a little sightseeing on the way, dropping by Adair to see the Smiley Face water tower, the Freedom Rock further up the road, and then getting a selfie with some cornstalks. Then I took a detour to Tama to see the Lincoln Highway bridge. I've been a fan of the Lincoln Highway for a while now — it's as much a part of American history as the Oregon Trail and Route 66, and it just happens to run both through Omaha and past the church where my parents got married.
Then in Cedar Rapids, I met up with my folks at the Flying Weenie for lunch, grabbing a half-pound hot dog that kept me going most of the day. Then afterward, we drove up Mt. Vernon Road to visit Valley View Church (which now called "CrossLife"). This place has a long history with my family — it's where my parents were married, where my grandma and grandpa had their funerals, and where I was baptized with my dad back in 2003. It was also our go-to place on family visits, such as my cousin Laura's wedding or family reunions or just our church on Sunday when we visited for a holiday. It may serve as a spot for a future family reunion. We'll see.
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I checked in to the hotel and got in a nice walk on the nature trail next door before getting a shower and changing for the wedding. My hotel in Coralville was just six minutes away from the venue in Tiffin, which was convenient. I saw plenty of familiar faces there, including the four Geho girls and a bunch of their kids I hadn't seen in at least seven years — many of whom have kids of their own now. My Uncle Ben did the opening prayer and the groom's father, who is a Pastor, did the ceremony. I naturally snapped photos all the while, finding me in a few convenient spots for a nice shot while trying not to get in the way of the actual photographers.
We had some dessert and dancing inside afterward, as well as some Brazilian cheese bread (Pão de Queijo). We had all the typical wedding elements, from the cake-cutting to the dances with mom and dad. There were some very tasty cupcakes in lieu of the actual cake (which seemed to be cut just for the photo op), and the sugar seemed to be enough to get everyone nice and goofy during some group dances later. No alcohol, of course, as the bride and groom, who coincidentally shared a birthday the following day (day, month, and year) were only turning 20. I snapped plenty of photos, of course, and also managed to catch up with a few family members I hadn't seen in aged — and also embarrassing myself trying to keep track of family members who'd grown up when I wasn't looking.
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I got a quick breakfast at the hotel the next morning and gassed up before driving nearly four hours straight home. Aaron had his first tee-ball game that morning, which was nearly rained out by a passing thunderstorm. It was very fun to see him in uniform swinging a bat and throwing balls with a bunch of other kids. It was a bit casual and unorganized, but I was a proud papa to see my boy having fun. Then on Sunday, the church prayed over the students as they prepared to go back to school next week. Afterward, we went down to Papillion to grab some ice cream at Graley's together and then check out some classic cars at the car show around the corner. Aaron got to sit in a rusted out "rat rod," and the kids got to see some shiny old cars from before even their grandparents were born.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A new home for my old blog

I have a big announcement, loyal blog readers: my old blog has a new home.

Back at the end of 2006, I started my little blog here on Blogspot as an attempt to get the attention of a certain lady named Vivian. As a result, I wound up chronicling our entire relationship together — from when we just started dating all the way through the birth of our daughter Hannah. After nearly seven years of using Google's blog service, I've decided to roll up my sleeves and move my dear old blog to a new home on my own, personal website. I hope to continue updating it for you to read all the way to "'til death do us part."

Come on over and check it out!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Year in Review

2016 has been a surprising, fun-filled year!
Here are some pictures of the things that happened.
What new adventures will 2017 bring? We'll just have to wait and see!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ten years of traditions

It was a whole decade ago, back in 2006, that I first started a humble little blog over on This was back before the age of social media, so telling friends and family what you were up to was done via blog post back then rather than via status updates. As such, I'd found many of the new friends I'd made swing dancing had blogs of their own, including a lady named Vivian I had been trying to get to know better. So, I signed up to have a blog of my own, and I've been updating it regularly ever since, documenting my entire relationship with Vivian in the process. So, to commemorate these past ten years, here is a list of my top ten favorite traditions that have come about in my life since I started this little blog. Enjoy!

  1. The Applejack Festival: It seems the only time we get down to Nebraska City is when thousands of other people are jamming the roads to watch the parade or buy caramel apples around town during the Applejack Festival. We always start our visit by getting pancakes from the Pancake Man down at the fire house. Then we might check out the used book sale at the library before taking in a parade, sampling apple wine down at the Arbor Day Farm, or picking apples up at Kimmel Orchard. Hannah and Aaron have gone every year of their lives (so far).
  2. Vala's Pumpkin Patch: The pumpkin patch / amusement park out in Gretna is a tradition for anyone with kids or who are kids at heart. The jumping pillows, go carts, the mechanical dragon, and acres and acres of play areas are a draw for us and lots of other people each year. The price of admission goes up every year, but I have a whole blog entry to help you save money.
  3. Shakespeare on the Green: Nebraska Shakespeare puts on a comedy and tragedy at Elmwood Park every year for free (with donations), so we usually make a day of it coming early to lay down a blanket and then hang out on the green with our friends, a bunch of snacks, and a bottle or two of wine.
  4. Friday Fish Fries during Lent: I have to credit Eric/Onion-Boy with introducing me to the uniquely Midwestern (and Catholic) tradition of standing in line for hours drinking beer and then gorging on fried fish, all inside a church. St. John Vianney has been our Fishy Friday destination for years, not just for the assortment of beige, carb-laden food, but also for the live music, raffles, bake sales, and more. Good times never seemed so good. (So good! So good!)
  5. The Cheese Party / Hors D'oeuvres Party: We hold one of these every year, alternating between the two themes. Vivian and I love food, and having some kind of party / competition with our friends has been a great way to break through the gloomy months of winter, post-Christmas.
  6. Christmas at Union Station: Kicking off the holidays wouldn't be complete without a trip to Union Station. Vivian and I go with the River City Confectioners to help visitors decorate cookies while Hannah and Aaron see Santa. Then we'll join the crowd as everyone sings along with a Christmas carol or two before watching the Mayor of Omaha light up the tree.
  7. Concerts at Memorial Park & Loessfest: every year, a couple well-known bands come to give free concerts in the metro area, and I always look forward to seeing who they'll be. We've seen Kenny Loggins, Kool & the Gang, Joan Jett, Eddie Money, Chicago, Three Dog Night, Loverboy, Pat Benatar, Smash Mouth, Uncle Cracker, Sugar Ray, Styx, Foreigner, and even the Beach Boys with John Stamos, and we usually bring the kids along for the ride.
  8. The Sushi Anniversary: When Vivian and I made our dating relationship "official," it was immediately after a trip to Sakura Bana for sushi with friends on January 26, 2007. Every year, we mark the occasion by having sushi someplace. It's usually in Omaha, but we once celebrated at the Rio's seafood buffet in Las Vegas.
  9. First Date Anniversary: Vivian and I went to the (now closed) French Cafe for our first official date (before we made it "official") back on Dec. 23, 2006. Every year, we mark the occasion with dinner — often in the Old Market — and then a brief walk in the bitter cold to see the Christmas lights at the Gene Leahy Mall. We also buy some Christmas fudge down at the Old Market Candy Shoppe.
  10. Wedding Anniversary and Comic: Every year on July 19, Vivian and I have a tradition of celebrating our anniversary by going someplace (usually with a swimming pool or a water park). Sometimes it's a trip to Kansas City, a road trip to Mount Rushmore and back, or just a drive across the river to Des Monies. We finish the day with a lobster dinner to commemorate our honeymoon in Bar Harbor, Maine, and I present Vivian with a comic illustration of our year together.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: Year in Review

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2015 was another very good year!
Here are some of the fun things we did to pass the time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap-Up

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That does it for 2014! It was quite a year to say the least. Here are some pictures of the things that happened!