February 11, 2019

7 Things To Look For In Omaha Childcare

The days of searching for daycare in Omaha are fresh in my mind. Walking in wide-eyed to each place, not knowing what things I should be looking for, what signs to note for a “good center” and a “bad center.” I asked for recommendations, but ultimately, I just went with my gut. And how a center makes you feel is important, but there are some universal things you should consider beyond the happy vibe a place gives off. I talked with Jewel McKercher, a director at Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center in Omaha and Elkhorn, to help me fine-tune this list.

Tips for finding the right child care for your family in Omaha | Expert tips on what to look for when you tour a center #Omaha #Nebraska #daycare

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Premier Academy. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Before you start looking for childcare

Congrats! You’re having a baby! Or you’ve had your baby. Either way, I bet you’re exhausted and, maybe, overwhelmed. Well, hopefully I can help with this task you have in front of you: Finding the right childcare center.

It’s an important task trying to find a childcare center where your kid is going to be happy. Photo courtesy Premier Academy

Step 1 – Start early.

I was barely showing when we started touring different centers in downtown and Midtown Omaha. For my search, I asked friends and co-workers and family and anyone who looked pretty trustworthy. I didn’t realize there were more resources like local experts you can talk to, as well. McKercher suggested you contact Child Care Resource and Referral Agency to get started. They’ll give you facts and a list of childcare options that may meet your needs.

Step 2 – What are your needs?

Ah, see in Step 1, I said you’d contact the referral agency to get started, but you’ll have to have an idea of what your needs are. For me, location was important, as well as flexibility with cloth diapers, for instance. What are your needs?

Step 3 – Make calls.

Once you have a list of places that may fit your needs, it’s time to lineup a tour. Call each place to schedule an appointment.

Things to look for in an Omaha childcare center

Time to tour! Yay! (Or not. I was totally overwhelmed when I started looking at childcare centers). Expect your tour to take around 20 minutes. You can do this.

Here’s what to look for:

The center as a whole

Check if the center is licensed or regulated. “Licensure ensures that the center is registered and has met or exceeded the state’s local requirements,” said McKercher. She also said it’s advisable to contact the state to see if the center has any complaints filed against it.

The employees

You want to know who works there, because these are the people who will spend the most time with your child. McKercher said the State of Nebraska requires the following background checks, at minimum: Department of Health and Human Services Central Registry Check; Nebraska State Sex Offender Registry; and Nebraska State Patrol Criminal History. 

Also ask about any special training employees are required to have. “It is important for providers to have the following training: Pediatric CPR, Pediatric First Aid, Child Abuse prevention; Safe With You training, which is required by the State of Nebraska; and Continuing Education in the field of Early Childhood Education,” said McKercher.

Also be aware of the employee turnover rate. “Consistency is extremely important to children and the environment in which they learn best,” said McKercher. “Getting used to new teachers takes time and energy that could be spent learning.”

Communication

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to get updates at the end of the day from my kids’ teachers. Back in my day (not too long ago), it was all paper and an occasional emailed picture. At places like Premier Academy, teachers have tablets that make it easy to send updates to parents, like photos or a video of a fun activity.

So, check how the center’s teachers communicate with parents. McKercher said parents should get a daily report of their child’s day. It should highlight what they ate and drank, lessons or curriculum, and if the child is younger, how many diaper changes.

How’s the classroom?

Most parents eyeball the teacher to student ratio in things like swim lessons, but it’s also a very important thing to keep low in childcare, too.

When you’re touring a childcare center, look into what the teacher to child ratio. “The fewer children the better for your child,” said McKercher. “You want your child to get plenty of attention and care.”

McKercher said babies need a teacher to child ratio of 1:4, while 4-year-olds can do well with a ratio of 1:12.

Kids drawing with sidewalk chalk at Premier Academy in Omaha
Drawing with sidewalk chalk outside at Premier Academy in Omaha. Photo courtesy Premier Academy

The curriculum

And while you’re in the classroom, ask about the curriculum. Yeah, we’re talking about toddlers, but there are sound practices on how youngsters learn best and develop essential skills. McKercher suggested you ask if the center incorporates the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines into the curriculum.

On top of that, ask what the Kindergarten Readiness rate is, and how prepared or advanced the students are when beginning Kindergarten. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even think to ask that when I was looking!

Meals at the daycare

Find out how the food is prepared and how healthy it is. McKercher said you can ask for the menu. Also ask if kids are encouraged to try different fruits and vegetables.

One of my kids had trouble with dairy early on, so when I was looking for a center, I wanted to be sure I could bring non-dairy drinks for him (most should be fine with this).

Kids having lunch at Omaha childcare center Premier Academy
Lunch time at Premier Academy in Omaha. Photo courtesy Premier Academy

The outdoor space

When you look at that outdoor space, note if it’s fenced-in and if the equipment looks safe. McKercher suggested asking if the caregivers can see the entire playground and all the children playing. You should also ask how often they go outside.

Childcare expert gives tips on what to look for in a daycare center in Omaha | Guide to researching and touring daycare centers #childcare #Nebraska

My final thoughts on what to look for

I hope this list gives you plenty of ideas for things to look for and questions to ask when you’re looking at a daycare center. It’s an important decision that may be easy to make or may take some time researching. Good luck!

About the post sponsor

I learned a lot just interviewing Jewel McKercher from Premier Academy in Omaha. If you thought she was helpful, too, and you happen to be in the market for childcare, I encourage you to check out her employer and see if Premier is the right fit for you!

Exterior of Premier Academy, a daycare center with locations in Omaha and Elkhorn, Nebraska
Photo courtesy Premier Academy

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January 21, 2019

Goldfish Swim School In Omaha

If you haven’t heard about Goldfish Swim School yet, just you wait. My guess is this place is going to be popular! Goldfish Swim School is opening in West Omaha this spring, and I’m partnering with them to share the details. Keep an eye on the Oh My! Omaha Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages – I’ll have a giveaway coming up AND I’ll be sharing pictures from the new location once my kids start swim lessons.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What to expect at Goldfish Swim School - A look at class size, the tropical decor, and the perks of having a membership #GoldfishSwimSchool #Omaha #swimming

What’s unique about Goldfish Swim School

I had a chat with April Cavender, the general manager at Goldfish Swim School West Omaha, and she shared why this particular swim school is unique: Comfort. She said the environment is comfortable for everyone.

Swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School, with parents in the background.
A view of swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School. You can see the parents sitting on the other side of the glass windows in the background. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

And Cavender knows what a difference it makes with something as simple as being comfortable. Her kids were competitive swimmers, so she spent hours poolside in all sorts of conditions. She recalled how usually she was either really hot and really cold.

That’s not how it is at Goldfish Swim School.

Group of kids splashing water with their feet at Goldfish Swim School pool
Kids splashing water in the pool at Goldfish Swim School. There will be a location in Omaha starting Spring 2019. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

“The setting at Goldfish Swim School is accommodating for parents,” she said. “From my first impression, I thought ‘Wow, it hits every aspect a parent and child needs in a swim environment.’”

Goldfish Swim School lessons

Swim instruction at Goldfish Swim School is for children ages 4 months to 12 years old. Lessons are designed for the busy family, so schedules are flexible. Plus, it’s easy to schedule a makeup session. Lessons are indoors and year-round with highly-trained instructors.

Student and instructor in the pool at Goldfish Swim School
A Goldfish Swim School instructor and a student practicing her kicks. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Here are a few more key things that make Goldfish Swim School stand out:

Small class sizes. At the most, your child will be with three other students for their half-hour class. With the 4:1 ratio, kids advance quickly. Once they achieve specific goals, they progress to the next class. According to
Cavender “We have very specific curriculum that emphasizes the safety aspect of children in the water.”

There are also options for private lessons.

Shiver-free 90-degree pools. It’s all about being comfortable in the water.

Perpetual lessons. Perpetual lessons means families can enroll at any time.

Comfort is king. They think of the parents and keep them comfortable. The viewing gallery for parents is air-conditioned.

Spacious family dressing area with private changing rooms. Plus, there’s a blow dry bar to making it convenient to get kids ready to head home.

Kids drying their hair at the blow dry bar at a Goldfish Swim School
The blow dry bar fits in with Goldfish Swim School’s tropical decor. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Super cute decor. They’ve got a tropical theme going on at Goldfish Swim School. There’s even a snack bar.

Community-minded. Cavendar told me how parents with kids in Goldfish Swim School feel like they’re a part of a community. But in another sense, the swim school maintains community involvement outside of the facility. “The community aspect is extremely important,” said Cavender. Don’t be surprised if you see representatives from Goldfish Swim School at fun runs for kids or involved in other types of events related to health and safety.

How to enroll in swim lessons

Registration is now open! You can enroll for swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School here. Classes will begin in early March.

Parents with their babies at a swim class in a Goldfish Swim School pool
Goldfish Swim School in West Omaha will have swim classes for children ages 4 months to 12 years old. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Enrollment is $84 for lessons per month, perpetual fee plus annual membership fee is $25. Families never pay more than $40 for the membership fee, so if you have two kids, it’s capped at $40.

With your enrollment, your child receives a swim goodie bag that’s age-appropriate. For instance, infants will have a swim diaper in their goodie bag. Each week, swimmers earn a prize following lessons. I can see how that would be totally motivating for my kids.

More things to know about Goldfish Swim School

In addition to swim lessons, has a few more offerings you should know about.

Families playing at Goldfish Swim School during a Family Swim
A view of the pool at Goldfish Swim School during a Family Swim. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Community Grand Opening – Mark your calendars! The pool will have a FREE Grand Opening event on March 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. 

Golden & Charter Memberships – For the cost of six months of swim lessons (Golden Membership) or one year of swim lessons (Charter Membership), you receive some perks. Golden Membership holders receive 50% off a two-hour private party and a six-month Family Swim pass. Charter Membership holders receive a free private two-hour party, a one-year Family Swim Pass, and a tile on the Charter Membership wall.

The Golden and Charter Memberships are only available for purchase prior to opening and the first three months of business – so don’t wait if one interests you!

Family Swim – The open family swims are usually held in the early afternoon between the morning and afternoon swim lessons. The pool has toys to add to the fun. Family Swims are open to the public. If you have a membership, you’re admitted free on weekdays. Otherwise, it’s $5 per person or $15 per family maximum.

Party packages – You can celebrate a birthday at Goldfish Swim School. Imagine having a tropical party in Omaha!

Related post: Water Fun In Omaha For Every Budget

If you go

Goldfish Swim School West Omaha

Where: 2502 S. 133rd Plaza, Omaha

Website

What to expect at Goldfish Swim School location in Omaha Nebraska - Info on class size, the tropical decor, and the perks of having a membership #GoldfishSwimSchool #Omaha #swimming

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January 18, 2019

Review: Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

I first heard about “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” a few years ago when some colleagues of mine raved about it. They saw the Tony-winning production of it on Broadway, and returned to Omaha thoroughly impressed. So, flash-forward to 2019. When I hear Omaha Community Playhouse is doing a production of it, you know I jumped at the chance to see it myself. The play is on OCP’s mainstage in Omaha Jan. 18 through Feb. 10, 2019.

Here’s my review of OCP’s production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”:

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to review the performance.

What to expect if you see "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" - This Tony-winning play is on stage in Omaha in early 2019 #theater #Omaha #Nebraska

What to expect

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is a dramatic play about Christopher, a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum. It begins quite startling with the death of a neighbor’s dog, and spirals into a bit of a mystery to be solved and then it juts off into another direction. It’s simply captivating.

How’s this for the opening scene of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”?

Christopher is portrayed by Dominic Torres, who does an outstanding job in the role managing to bring the audience and making us feel all sorts of emotions for his character. He is on stage the entire performance.

The rest of the cast plays a variety of roles, from the most trusted people in his life (his parents — maybe — and teacher) to strangers Christopher encounters. It’s fascinating to see the world through Christopher’s eyes. Sitting in the dark theater, it’s eye-opening to wonder how I would react if I were in their shoes. I think that’s one of the key things about this play – it’s going challenge you (at least it did for me).

Dominic Torres, the lead actor in the Omaha Community Playhouse production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
Dominic Torres portrays Christopher in the Omaha Community Playhouse production of the Tony-winning drama “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The play runs Jan. 18 through Feb. 10, 2019. Photo by Colin Conces Photography

This play is billed as visually-stunning, and I do have to agree that the set is pretty unique. It’s a grid and lights and that’s about it. There are very little props and while the play takes place in a variety of places like a backyard, on the London tube, and in classrooms, the set never changes. Yet, you never lose sense of where the characters are. It’s incredibly well done.

Timing a bathroom break

The play is two acts, each one lasting 60 minutes. There is a 15-intermission.

Is it kid-friendly?

While it is a wonderful play that draws the audience into the world of one boy on the autism spectrum, it is not what I’d consider an all-ages show. Teens will certainly be able to handle it, probably tweens, though. There’s some mild cursing in the play.

I wouldn’t take my kids to it, but my high school-aged nieces? Sure.

Will an adult like this?

Absolutely. This is live theater at its best. The story is great, the acting is great, plus there’s humor in it to lighten things up.

However, if you prefer your live theater to more along the lines of a light-hearted Broadway musical (which I love), this may not appeal to you.

What’s it about again?

Winner of five Tony Awards including Best Play and based on the best-selling mystery novel by Mark Haddon, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with an autism spectrum condition, who sets out to solve the mysterious death of a neighbor’s dog.

The 15-year-old character, Christopher, in the play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is portrayed by Dominic Torres. Photo by Colin Conces Photography

Related exhibits

There are two exhibits on display at the Playhouse to view. “The Inner Dialogue Paper Lantern Exhibit” is a collaboration with CHI Health and the CHI Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility. More than 20 patients at the CHI Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility have designed and constructed nearly 60 paper lanterns which represent—in visual form—the voices of the play’s main character, Christopher. These paper lanterns will be on display in the lobby throughout the run of the show. The artists are between the ages of 9 and 18.

“Adventures Art Exhibit” is a collaboration with WhyArts and the Autism Center of Nebraska. Participants at visual art workshops explored themes from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” through clay, paint and collage creations. The artwork will be on display at the Omaha Community Playhouse throughout the run of the show.

If you go

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

When: Jan. 18 through Feb. 10, 2019; performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

Cost: Tickets start at $24 and may be purchased at the Omaha Community Playhouse Box Office, located at 6915 Cass St., by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

Make a night of it! Here’s my list of favorite places to go for post-show treats in Omaha.

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Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

January 2, 2019

5 Things To Expect During A Radon Test

I haven’t thought much about radon after we purchased our home…almost a decade ago. It had a mitigation system already, but we tested the radon level in the home, just to be safe. And all was well. So, I forgot about radon.

Since January is National Radon Action Month, I’m partnering with the local business, Thrasher, to let you know why radon testing is important, even for people like me, who think they already have radon under control.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Thrasher. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Never had a radon test in your home? Here are 5 things to expect during and after the test. #AD #homeownership

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas. It’s a byproduct of uranium decay, and all soils and rocks contain different concentrations of uranium.

Graphic showing the average radon level in Nebraska, which is 6.0 pCi/L

There’s a lot of it in Nebraska and Iowa. On average, the radon level in Nebraska is 6.0 pCi/L and 8.5 pCi/L in Iowa.

Graphic showing the average radon level in Iowa, which is 8.5 pCi/L

As uranium breaks down over time, it releases toxic byproducts that seep up and out of the soil and into the air. You can’t smell it and you can’t see it, but it’s linked to lung cancer.

Graphic explaining how radon causes up to 15% of lunch cancers worldwide

If high levels are detected in your home, you will need to have a Radon Mitigation System installed in your home.

Radon Mitigation System, or a Radon Removal System Gauge
This is part of the Radon Mitigation System inside our home. It was installed before we purchased it and I confess to not knowing how to check the gauge to make sure it was still working.

To learn more about radon, you should read this Radon Homeowner Guide.

What to expect during a home radon test

You can test radon levels in your house on your home with a store-bought kit or you can hire someone like Thrasher, who will send a specialist to test it and read the results for you. It’s cheaper to do the test yourself, but you’re on your own for interpreting the results.

Radon Gas Measurement Specialist from Thrasher reviewing results from the Continuous Radon Monitor
Ben from Thrasher explained the results from the Continuous Radon Monitor, that little yellow box in his hand. This occurred during our second appointment (the first being the one where he simply set up the monitor to read radon levels in our house).

For my partnership with Thrasher, they sent Ben, a Radon Gas Measurement Specialist, to my home to measure the radon with a 48-hour test.

If you’re going with a specialist to measure things, I recommend going through a reputable company. Take Thrasher, for instance, who has been a fixture in the Omaha metro area for more than 40 years. Here’s the process with Thrasher:

  • Set up the monitor drop-off – For radon testing, you’ll need to set up two appointments. The first one is a quick one where you’ll meet your Radon Gas Measurement Specialist and he or she will set up a device called a Continuous Radon Monitor, or CRM, in your home. The CRM measures radon hourly for 48 hours. Thrasher put me in direct contact with Ben, who coordinated a time to drop off the CRM and accommodated my schedule to get the kids dropped off at school first. The test needs to sit undisturbed for 48 hours.
The device that measures radon levels in a home. It's called a Continuous Radon Monitor.
This is a Continuous Radon Monitor from Thrasher. It reads radon levels in a home for 48 hours.
  • Stay away from the CRM – Ben determined the best place to put the CRM was in the basement, near our laundry room. For these kinds of tests, you’re supposed to limit opening windows and such. Since we were doing the test in December, that was no problem (except for the garage door that we kept forgetting to not raise). For good measure, I used it as an excuse to not do laundry for a few days. Ha!
  • Learn more about radon – Ben returned about 48 hours to review the results during our second meeting. We allotted about 60 to 90 minutes for it, since this also involved some informational videos, mostly about radon and the background on Thrasher. While short, the videos are boring. They’re necessary, though, since you really don’t learn this stuff anywhere else (and it’s helpful to know more about who’s taking care of your house). They’re not quite alarmist but do explain concisely why radon is a naturally-occurring toxin that’s not to be ignored.
  • Review test results –   Ben went over our results, and it turned out we still had trace radon in our home. We had a reading of 2.0 piC/L. It was lower than both EPA requirements and WHO requirements, but still concerning for me. If you have a reading that’s above a safe level, at this point, you’d talk with your specialist about your mitigation system options.
A graph on a computer screen showing a graph radon levels for a house
Ben showed us the results from our Continuous Radon Monitor. The graph shows the radon levels read hourly over the course of 48 hours.
  • Ask questions – Even with the videos and Ben explaining our results thoroughly, my husband and I still had questions. We talked to Ben about further steps we could take to drop our radon levels even more. While our levels are considered safe, we felt like we could do better than that. Ben offered a good suggestion about installing a special filter. The filter not only reduces the radon levels in a home, it removes things like allergens that are circulating in our home. We’re definitely going to look into it now. We have Ben’s card should we think of more questions later (lucky him).

Save on testing your home

For more than four decades, Thrasher has been waterproofing basements, fixing home foundations, and repairing concrete in Nebraska. The company is local, though now they’ve expanded into Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

They’re offering a 25% off discount on a Continuous Radon Monitor this month, making January a great time to test your home’s radon levels. The test usually costs $100, but with this discount, you pay $75.

Never had a radon test in your home? Here are 5 things to expect during and after the test. #AD #homeownership

Win a free mitigation system

Thrasher is holding a giveaway for a free mitigation system. To enter the giveaway, visit this gothrasher.com and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the giveaway form. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 or older to enter. Radon system must be installed in Thrasher radon service area. 

I recommend getting your home tested first before entering to be sure you even need one.

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November 9, 2018

30+ Things To Do In Omaha In The Winter

Omaha winters can be long and, before you  know it, cabin fever sets in. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Omaha when it’s cold out:

Things to do in Omaha in the winter - Including activity centers, climbing walls, museums, sledding hills, ski slopes, snow shoe rentals, ice skating, and so much more! #Nebraska #winter #snow

Things To Do Indoors In Omaha

If you’re looking for unique things to do indoors in the winter, this is your list:

Giant activity centers – These are a lot of fun and are a mix of arcade games, food, and sometimes bowling. Most are located in West Omaha, including Amazing Pizza MachineFamily Fun Center XL, SkateDaze, The MARK, Dave & Buster’s, and Chuck E. Cheese. Check Groupon for discounts or visit at off times of the day to save some money. 

Bounce houses & trampoline park – Tire the kids out at Sky Zone Trampoline Park and Urban Air Trampoline Park. Urban Air also has an indoor ropes course and a ninja course. For bounce houses with open play times, check out Pump It Up and BounceU. You’ll have to sign wavers before playing at any of these places.

Gyms For Kids – More for younger kids, gyms are popping up everywhere to give kids a chance to run, tumble, and climb safely. Gyms with public play hours include GO! Kids Gym, KIDS body shop, Kids Warrior Gym, and PE 101 Kids Gym.

Escape rooms – Escape rooms can be found all over Omaha now. I’ve tried two and would recommend them: Get Out Omaha and House of Conundrum. Others include The Escape Omaha, Entrap Games, and Locked Room Omaha. Escape rooms, generally, are better for older kids or going there with a group of your friends. Occasionally, one of the Omaha Public Library branches will have a one-day or weekend-long kid-friendly escape room set up.

I went with a group of friends to Axe Games in West Omaha. While I did not win, I did manage to hit the target once, so it’s a win in my book.

Axe throwing – This is a fun thing to do with a group or as a couple. Some places, like Axe Games, allow younger kids to throw if they’re supervised, but call ahead. Other places to look into include Flying Timber Axe Throwing and Craft Axe Throwing.

Archery Games – I tried out Archery Games with friends, and it’s a workout as much as it is just a fun time. I can see older kids loving it, but it figuring out a bow and arrow in the archery arena may frustrate younger kids.

Indoor putt putt – Like the idea of playing mini golf around a pirate ship, dinosaurs or glow-in-the-dark stuff? Omaha has several indoor putting options. See where you can putt indoors (and outdoors) in Omaha in this post

Climbing Walls – The long-awaited Venture Parks’ new rock climbing walls at Mahoney State Park are open now at the park’s Activity Center (must pay state park admission fee, as well as fee for climbing). Approach Climbing Gym is another option for the public. UNO also has a climbing wall and its free for UNO students, and pretty inexpensive for non-students (kids must be at least 5 years old). And last, but not least, for the really little kids, Omaha Children’s Museum’s special exhibit, Super Sports, has a small wall. The exhibit runs through April 14, 2019.

The Activity Center at Mahoney State Park has a climbing wall area. For $10, you can have the equipment you need to climb.

Performances – It wouldn’t be my blog if I skipped over the great performing arts scene in Omaha. Winter is the best time to see a play or musical performance! Some of my favorite theatrical venues in Omaha are Omaha Community Playhouse, Bluebarn Theatre, and the Broadway Series presented by Omaha Performing Arts. If you’re looking for kids’ shows, see what’s happening at The Rose or what’s coming up in the Omaha Performing Arts Family Series. Live music? Omaha Symphony has a ton of shows, including a Family Series and a great Movie Series. And don’t forget the new Nashville Row Omaha.

Ice skating – Indoor ice skating in Omaha include Motto McLean Ice Arena,  Moylan Iceplex, Baxter Arena, and Ralston Arena. 

Felius is a nonprofit cat cafe in downtown Omaha where you can sip a mocha while cats prowl around you.

Felius – Yes there is a cat cafe in Omaha, and yes, you need to go (assuming you like cats). You order your coffee separately at Felius, and then pay for the amount of time you want to sit in the room, playing with the cats. It’s a relaxing place…again, assuming you like cats.

Bowling – There are several bowling alleys without the frills if you’re looking for inexpensive fun, and then there are a few with flashy add-ons like laser tag or a huge arcade. Bowling alleys in Omaha include Maplewood Lanes, West Lanes Bowling Center, The MARK, Papio Bowl, Chops Bowling Alley, and Western Bowl.

Omaha Attractions That Are Great In The Winter

Staying, somewhat, with the indoor theme, check out some of these area attractions that are great to visit in the winter:

Lauritzen Gardens – The conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens offers two different climates to experience while walking a path through lush gardens. If you visit during the holiday season, you can enjoy additional decorations and the impressive poinsettia tree. Kids love the model trains that have been moved indoors over the winter. 

Omaha’s zoo has several indoor exhibits near the main entrance, making it a great option for a winter afternoon.

Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – With five indoor attractions near the main entrance, it’s easy to see a lot of animals without spending much time outside. Plus, the Desert Dome and indoor rainforest are fine places to go to forget about winter drearies. I love visiting in the winter so much, I wrote Five Great Things To Do At Omaha’s Zoo In The Winter.

Durham Museum – Expect the Durham Museum to be busy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve since it’s decked out for the holidays. It’s a fun time to visit, though. After the New Year, it quiets down and you can enjoy exhibits without the crowds. Bring kids here to see the trains (full-size and model).

Kids can climb, play, paint and do all sorts of fun experiments at Omaha Children’s Museum.

Omaha Children’s Museum – If you’ve got kids younger than 9, Omaha Children’s Museum is the best place to let them loose. After a few hours of playing, building, and learning, they’ll be all tuckered out. On weekday mornings, there are Kitchen ABCs classes where kids can learn kitchen skills by preparing a snack and then they get to eat it (class is included with admission, too!). Disclosure: I work at Omaha Children’s Museum. 

Do Space – Head to Do Space for hands-on tech activities for kids. There’s a room for younger kids and one for teens (that has a huge video game screen). Check out kits to test out robots and play games. Adults head here to use the computers and 3D printer. Best of all – it’s FREE!

Joslyn Art MuseumJoslyn Art Museum is my go-to for a calming experience. I just head right to my favorite galleries and seek out new details in familiar paintings. That works when I’m alone. When I’m with my kids, we head to Art Works or check out an activity backpack and do all the activities. Don’t forget, Joslyn is FREE (some traveling exhibitions may be an additional ticket for you, but kids are going to be admitted free).

Council Bluffs attractions – Don’t overlook Council Bluffs when planning winter outings. The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is FREE, so if you have a train-loving kids, it’s a no-brainer place to visit. The first Friday night of the month usually has a fun theme night event. Bass Pro Shop is another FREE place to visit with a large aquarium to fascinate kids, plus around Christmas, there’s Santa’s Wonderland to visit.

More attractions – Don’t forget there’s also Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Neb. And while the store itself isn’t an attraction (in my opinion), the ferris wheel inside Scheels is always an inexpensive hit with kids.

Parks With Winter Activities

Bundle up for these outdoor activities you can do in Omaha in the winter:

Mahoney State Park – This is the ultimate winter destination, in my opinion. You have the outdoor stuff like toboggan hill and ice skating, but then the (already cool) Activity Center now has climbing walls. If you have younger kids, don’t skip the Activity Center – it has the area’s best indoor playground. For more ideas on what to do there, read Mahoney State Park In The Winter. You will need to pay a state park fee, per vehicle, to enter Mahoney, and pay a nominal fee to get into the Activity Center (ice skating and wall climbing are additional fees, too).

Hummel ParkHummel Park usually has a hiking club that heads out on the first Saturday of the month (even in winter), plus winter special events at Hummel include Santa Sleigh Ride in December and in February, there’s an event planned near Valentine’s Day. The park is FREE to enter and so are the events.

After hiking at Fontelle Forest, have the kids warm up at Habitat Hollow, located in the lower level of the visitor’s center.

Fontenelle Forest – I know a lot of moms who love bringing their kids to Fontenelle Forest for the indoor play area called Habitat Hollow in the lower level of the visitor’s center. But, don’t skip the trails to get some fresh air on a brief hike – you can even rent snow shoes from Fontenelle. However, if OPS is closed for snow, Fontenelle will be closed too. There are always special events or guided hikes, so check the calendar for details. There is a fee, per person, to enter Fontenelle Forest. 

Hitchcock Nature Center – One of my favorite parks to visit any time of the year is Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa (about 20 miles from Omaha). The nature center is fantastic, so if you have kids, stop there first; you can check out a kid’s activity backpack while there. Outdoor winter activities at Hitchcock include sledding down Chute Trail or renting snow shoes. You’ll need to pay a county park entry fee, per vehicle, to enter Hitchcock Nature Center.

Outdoor Activities In The Winter

Mt. Crescent Ski Area – The area’s only ski slopes, Mt. Crescent Ski Area is located in Crescent, Iowa. You can rent skis and snowboards, plus sleds. Their sled hill is the only one I know of in the area that has a chair lift to get you to the top of the hill.

Sledding – Popular hills include Memorial Park, Walnut Hill, Spring Lake Park, and Zorinski Park. Schools with great slopes include Black Elk Elementary School, Holling Heights Elementary School, St. Robert Bellarmine School, Papillion-La Vista South High, Portal Elementary School, Ralston Middle School, Laura Dodge Elementary School, Bryan High School, and Bellevue East High School.

Ice skating – Find outdoor rinks near Nebraska Medical Center in Midtown and the Brickyard in downtown Omaha.

Omaha Movie Theaters With Kids Series

Film Streams – Expect high quality films (including some of your childhood favorites) to be screened in Film Streams‘ Forever Young Family & Children’s Series. Kids’ tickets are only $2.50 for the series! These are screened at the Ruth Sokolof Theater in downtown Omaha.

Marcus Theaters – This chain of movie theaters usually has a few series screening older films for low-price tickets. Check the website for upcoming series. The typical locations in Omaha to show these films are at Village Pointe, Majestic and Twin Creek.

Winter Fun In Nebraska

Get out of Omaha for even more winter activities! The Well-Traveled Nebraskan wrote about 13 Surprising Nebraska Winter Things To Do and Activities.

A huge list of things to do in the winter in Omaha, Nebraska - Everything from rock walls to snow shoeing, plus the best sledding hills, cheap movies and more

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October 14, 2018

Fun Shows In 18-19 Omaha Symphony Family Series

Love “Star Wars”? I’ve got an Omaha Symphony show for you. Does your kid love pirates? Sit tight, I’ve got another Omaha Symphony show for you. I’ve taken my kids to quite a few Family Series shows to know a good show theme my kids will love, and this year, all three shows in the series are dialed into my kids’ passions: “Star Wars,” magical tales like “Aladdin,” and pirates.

What to expect at an Omaha Symphony Family Series concert, plus details on the 2018-2019 season #partner #orchestra #concert #familyfriendly

I’ve partnered with my friends at the Omaha Symphony to tell you about the 2018-2019 Omaha Symphony Family Series – and throughout the season, I’ll be giving away tickets to each show! Follow Oh My! Omaha on Facebook for those giveaways.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Omaha Symphony. Omaha Symphony provided the tickets for the giveaways. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What are Family Series shows like?

I think my youngest was about 2 years old when she went to her first Omaha Symphony concert. She was dressed like a little fairy. And she fit in.

My daughter’s was 2 years old when she went to her first Omaha Symphony show, the “Spooktacular.”

Omaha Symphony Family Series is a great introduction to the orchestral music because they’re designed to be short, fun, and super engaging. They’re in the middle of the afternoon, lights are not as dim, and there are plenty of jokes to make everyone smile. Every show is at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

Related post: The Family-Friendly Omaha Symphony

What I liked about these shows, too, was that if one kid got a little antsy, it was fine for her to be squirmy in her seat because we were surrounded by other families. 

Signs direct you where to go for the lobby activities held before each Omaha Symphony Family Series show.

My kids’ favorite part is the pre-show lobby activities. Before each show in the Family Series, starting at 1:15 p.m., there are activities in the lobby that may include a craft table, photo opp, and our personal favorite… the instrument petting zoo. 

My kids love the instrument petting zoo because they get to play different instruments and make a lot of noise. 

My son, the pirate, testing out at trumpet at the instrument petting zoo.

They’re pretty affordable, too. Family Series shows are all general admission, and tickets are $15 each. While there are other great concerts coming up by the Omaha Symphony that may appeal to your children, you’ll have a hard time beating that $15 price. Same orchestra, much lower price to hear them play!

2018-2019 Omaha Symphony Family Series

I’m pretty excited about each show in the 2018-2019 Omaha Symphony Family Series. The themes are a lot of fun, plus it looks like some shows are going to have great guests at them. 

Omaha Symphony’s Spooktacular: Out Of This World

My all-time favorite Family Series show is the Spooktacular each year. Not only is most of the audience dressed in costumes, but the musicians on stage are too! 

This year’s show, “Spooktacular: Out Of This World,” has a space adventure theme running throughout, so you’re going to hear some very recognizable theme music. Of course, that means some “Star Wars” music, “Star Trek,” and more. The Spooktacular is on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.

Related post: What to expect at Omaha Symphony’s Spooktacular

Members of the 501st Garrison will be there, and you’ll want your camera for the lobby pre-show activities and photo opps. 

Plus, there is trick-or-treating after the show! 

Tip: I work at Omaha Children’s Museum and they’ve partnered with Omaha Symphony for an awesome promotion! Visit the Tinker Lab at the museum and make a lightsaber hilt, share a picture on social media (tagging both OCM and OS), and you’ll be entered in to win four tickets to the Spooktacular AND a pass for four to Omaha Children’s Museum. Plus, if your child brings the hilt to the Spooktacular, he/she gets a special prize and their own line to get a picture with a stormtrooper. 

“Aladdin, Cinderella and More Magical Tales”

The next show in the series is “Aladdin, Cinderella and More Magical Tales” on Feb. 10, 2019. This one will be fun to watch because the special guests are dancers from the Heartland Youth Ballet.

This one sounds like an adventure, featuring music from  “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and selections from Prokofiev’s “Cinderella.”

“Pirates Ahoy!”

My kids love them some pirates, so this last show in the series may be their favorite. “Pirates Ahoy!” is on March 31, 2019. There’s a story to this show, and apparently it’s a race against Captain Guerrero and his crew to find Blackbeard’s treasure.

If you want tickets to any of the shows above, visit OmahaSymphony.org. Also, don’t forget, I’ll be doing giveaways before each show on the Oh My! Omaha Facebook page (First one starts this week!). Follow the page or subscribe to the Oh My! Omaha e-newsletter to get a heads up on each giveaway. 

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Find out why your family will love the Omaha Symphony's Family Series - Pre-show lobby activities like instrument petting zoo and lots of fun during the performance #partner #Omaha #Nebraska #familyfriendly