March 4, 2019

Guide To ONE Festival For Families & Opera Beginners

Opera Omaha is bringing back the ONE Festival to Omaha for its second year running March 30 through April 14, 2019. It’s unlike any festival I’ve ever been to, and I think if you appraise good storytelling, you’re going to want to check it out. There is a full lineup of events, and it can be hard to figure out which one is good for someone new to opera and which one is good for families, so I’ve written a guide to the ONE Festival to help.

Disclosure: This post is a partnership between Opera Omaha and Oh My! Omaha. I was not paid to write the post. Opera Omaha provided passes for the giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What you need to know about the ONE Festival in Omaha if you're new to opera - What's kid-friendly, what's accessible to opera newbies and how to get tickets #Omaha #Nebraska #opera

Related: Looking for more festivals and events in Omaha? Check out this post with an updated list of kid-friendly events, exhibits and festivals in the Omaha Area.

What is the ONE Festival?

The ONE Festival explores opera in all its forms. Sure there are two operas in the festival, but the rest of the festival deconstructs it into concerts, installations, social gatherings, dance and exhibitions. There’s an exhibition in 2019 that I think most families are going to love (more on that in a little bit).

The focus of the ONE Festival is experimentation and new work. The festival is held at different venues around Omaha. Some of it is free, some of it requires tickets. Here’s a list of all the performances and events in the 2019 ONE Festival.

Is the ONE Festival for families?

The full operas in the ONE Festival are not going to appeal to young kids or elementary aged kids. They can last up to three hours long and are quite often performed in an other language. However, there are a couple things at this year’s ONE Festival that I think will appeal to a younger audience.

A performance during the 2018 ONE Festival presented by Opera Omaha
The unique thing about the ONE Festival in Omaha is that it deconstructs opera with performances that range from dance and instrumentals to vocal performances. Of course, the festival also includes full operas. Photo courtesy Opera Omaha

One truly exciting exhibition, that I think will appeal to adults and kids alike is called “Playground.” You’re going to want to check out this operatic sound sculpture at Joslyn Art Museum March 30 through April 14. It’s pretty much a playground set inside the museum curated by Ellen Reid. What that means is you can swing on this playset and create music while someone else is accompanying you on the slide.

The performance part comes in on select days and times when “Run” is performed. This 15-minute original composition for voice features ONE Festival soloist Naomi Louisa O’Connell and International Contemporary Ensemble artists. “Run” is performed at select times on March 30 and 31, as well as April 4, 6 and 13.

Families may want to look into attending one of shows in the CINEsound operatic film series at Film Streams (at both the Dundee and Ruth Sokolof theaters). The one in particular that I’m told is family-oriented is called “Sights on Sounds.” It’s a documentary-style compilation that explores the connection of music and film.

Is the ONE Festival accessible to opera beginners?

I think the entire idea of the ONE Festival is to introduce opera to people who’ve never been to a traditional opera. With that said, there are some performances that are more accessible to newbies than others.

The first performance to check out happens before the festival event begins. “An Evening With Paul Barnes” on March 15 will be a good one to check out since it will give you a glimpse at what’s planned for the 2019 festival, as performed by pianist Paul Barnes. He’s famous for his collaboration with Philip Glass and has been called “ferociously virtuosic” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

An opera performance at the 2018 ONE Festiva in Omaha, Nebraska
The ONE Festival in Omaha explores operas in all its forms — from full operas to instrumental performances, dance and cinema. Photo courtesy Opera Omaha

Reid + Concert on April 4 is another one I’m told is good for those new to opera. It’s a chamber concert featuring Ellen Reid (the artist behind “Playground”), as well as performances by Holland Community Opera Fellows, Creighton University Chamber Choir and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. The performance is on the shorter side, so it gives you a taste of things without having to sit for a three-hour performance.

“For Research Only” is a dance exhibition that puts you in the middle of the performance (which may appeal to some and not to others, right?). This performance at KANEKO takes place April 6, 10, and 11. Due to the intimate nature of it, seeing is limited. The performance tries to put the audience into the thoughts of the performers, offering a glimpse into how a performance is made. It involves contemporary dance, live music and projection mapping.

I also think the “CINEsound” series sounds pretty interesting, especially the midnight screening that kicks off the festival. The score will be performed live with the movie.

About the operas in ONE Festival

There are two full opera experiences at the 2019 ONE Festival. “Les Enfantes Terribles” is the shorter of the two, if you base your opera viewing on time. It’s a twisted twisted opera by Philip Glass based on the 1929 novel. “Les Enfantes Terribles” is April 3, 5, 7, 13 and 14 at The Mastercraft. It’s definitely not suitable for kids.

The other opera is “Faust,” and due to its 3 1/2-hour-long run time, it’s going to be one for the seasoned opera fans. It sounds visually cool, with a Vegas-y feel to it, though. This performance will feature music that hasn’t been heard in more than 150 years, which is cool. “Faust” is on April 12 and 14 at the Orpheum Theater. Like the other opera, it’s not for the kiddos.

Going to the ONE Festival

The ONE Festival is March 30 through April 14, 2019 at various locations around Omaha. You’ll want to check if the performance you’re going to attend requires tickets, and if so, you’ll probably want to get them early (especially for performances with limited seating like “For Research Only). “Playground” is one that is FREE to attend, but you’ll want to time it right to see the performance of “Run” while you’re there. See all the performance and event dates and times here.

Tickets range in prices. Be sure to follow Oh My! Omaha on Facebook because I’ll be giving away a pair of Festival ONEpasses! The Festival ONEpass gets you into “An Evening with Paul Barnes” (VIP option available), “Les Enfants Terribles,” and “For Research Only” plus gives you discount codes for “CINEsound” and “Faust.”

Opera Omaha's ONE Festival is held each spring in Omaha. Here's what you need to know about taking kids to a performance or attending your first opera #Omaha #Nebraska #opera

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March 1, 2019

What To Expect At Air Play

“Air Play” will be performed in Omaha soon, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m not sure if I can quite describe it to you, but I’m confident both the kids and I will love it. Why you ask? If there’s one thing I learned about Omaha Performing Arts’ Family Series, it’s to trust them and just go see the show. (I still remember the season when I saw two amazing shows I’d never heard of in the Family Series: Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk and Mummenschanz: The Musicians of Silence).

I’m partnering with OPA to tell you about the show and to give away a four pack of tickets so one of you can with your family too! “Air Play” is on Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha. Tickets are on sale now at TicketOmaha.com.

What to expect if you go to "Air Play" - The family-friendly touring production is part circus and part street performance theater. #AirPlay #Omaha

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts. I’m being compensated by tickets for myself to attend the show and to giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What is “Air Play”?

“‘Fun for all ages’ is a common puff in the arts, but with Air Play it’s strictly true. From the minute the curtain goes up on this buoyant fusion of wordless clowning and aerial spectacle, you feel as if you’ve stepped into an enchanted world somewhere between childhood and what comes afterwards, where normal rules (gravity included) have been temporarily held at bay. A joy from start to finish, Air Play will entrance children, and will act as a great reset button for stressed adults.” – Sydney Morning Herald

“Air Play” is a family-friendly show that’s part-circus, part-street theater performance. It’s the brainchild of husband and wife team Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, who collaborated with renowned air sculptor Daniel Wurtzel to create the visually stunning, and often funny, show.

A scene from "Air Play," a family-friendly theatrical performance
Christina Gelsone and Seth Bloom are the creators, performers and producers behind “Air Play.” Photo courtesy Air Play by Florence Montmare

The show’s description gives you a little insight on what you can expect: “Air Play is a circus-style adventure of two siblings journeying through a surreal land of air, transforming the ordinary into objects of uncommon beauty. Fabrics dance in the wind, balloons have a mind of their own, confetti turns into the night sky, and an enormous canopy of hovering silk forever alters their future.”

Who is this show designed for?

All of the shows in the Omaha Performing Arts Family Series are curated to appeal to the widest audience and the broadest of age ranges. The show is about an hour long and in the middle of the day, which is ideal for families, if you ask me.

A scene from "Air Play," a touring show
“Air Play” is an hour-long show that appeals to children as young as 5 years old as well as adults. Photo courtesy Air Play by Florence Montmare

Given the whimsical description and the physical and visual nature of the show, this is going to appeal to kids who are at least 5 years old or older. It is not recommended for infants and toddlers.

Want to win tickets?

I’ll kick off a ticket giveaway on the Oh My! Omaha Facebook page on March 4. One winner will receive four tickets to the show on March 16!

A scene from the touring production of "Air Play" starring Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone
“Air Play” will be performed in Omaha on March 16, 2019. Photo courtesy Air Play by Florence Montmare

It’s going to be the first in several days of giveaways for family-friendly activities so if you don’t follow Oh My! Omaha already, now’s a good time to start.

If you go

“Air Play”

When: March 16 at 2 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

Cost: $15-$30. Purchase tickets online at TicketOmaha.com or save on ticketing fees and buy them in person at the Ticket Omaha box office located inside the Holland Performing Arts Center.

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February 21, 2019

Omaha Children’s Museum Insider’s Tips

It’s been several years since I’ve written a post dedicated to Omaha Children’s Museum. My last non-exhibit post about the museum was written before I started working there. (Now’s a good time to fully disclose, that, yes, I’m employed at Omaha Children’s Museum. And I’m totally biased.) But with more than eight years as a member and three as an employee, people often ask me for tips, so now I’m going to put them into a post. Read on for my tips on the best times to visit, how to navigate special events, and dining at the museum:

Tips for visiting Omaha Children's Museum - Know when to go, know how to save money, and understand the perks of membership #Omaha #Nebraska #museum

Who is the museum’s target audience?

I said this before, but children’s museums are geared toward about a 10 and younger audience, while science centers cater to a wider range (but aren’t always zeroes in on the younger kids). In Omaha, I’d say the exhibits are best for 8 and younger, though the Tinker Lab is the exception. My son is 9 and still loves visiting and never misses the chance to build something in the Tinker Lab.

If your kids are preschoolers, you’ll spend most of your time in the museum’s most popular exhibit, Imagination Playground, where you’ll find the mini grocery store, barn, hospital, and climb space. Actually, even early grade schoolers love the space.

Mini grocery store at Omaha Children's Museum
My kids baking a cake at the grocery store’s bakery inside Omaha Children’s Museum.

There’s a three-tiered water table that pretty popular. There are covers to keep kids dry, but you may want to bring a change of clothes, just in case.

The Imagination Playground is a great spot for parents on their own with two or more kids. There is just one way in and one way out.

For kids under 3, there’s a space called the Wiggle Room. You’ll need to remove your shoes or wear shoe covers if you go in there.

If you have a baby, the museum has a breastfeeding room. It’s located in the Family Discover Room, which you’ll have to pass through the Imagination Playground to get to. It’s cozy and has peaceful music playing over speakers.

When to go to Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Children’s Museum has two sets of hours – winter and summer hours. In the winter, the museum is closed on Mondays, and then is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The later weekend hours are new for 2019.

In the summer, the museum is open Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dancing in the Moving With Light exhibit at Omaha Children's Museum
The end-of-the-day parade held at the museum each summer included a brief dance at the Moving With Light exhibit.

Member hours: These are great… if you aren’t working a full-time, weekday job. Member hours are weekdays from 9 to 10 a.m. when the museum is open. So, in the winter, that’s every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. In the summer, Monday is also included.

If you’re a member, this is the ideal time to go. I’ve heard people say it’s like having the museum to yourself. Monday mornings in the summer are the best of the best.

If you’re not a member, though, weekdays are still going to be the best time to visit. In the winter, this is especially the case. When to time the visit depends on your kids, really. When they were younger, they got up early and took ridiculously long naps, so afternoons were straight out for going to the museum.

But let me tell you – those last few hours of the day? Those are great times to visit. The morning crowd typically leaves around lunch time (AKA, nap time), leaving the great parking spots open to boot. There’s also a discount on admission if you arrive during the last hour.

Tips for summer at Omaha Children’s Museum

Since the museum caters to a crowd that is in school, summers tend to be busier than any other time of year. The two parking lots can fill up before noon (scroll down and read my tips on parking!). People come to see the summer exhibit, which is only open from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend (note that the museum is closed on those major holidays).

Omaha Children's Museum tips - The exterior grounds of the museum include pinwheels and mobiles, a playground and a splash garden.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism.

The best day of the week to visit and likely find the least amount of people: Monday. Member Hours still apply during the summer, and so, if you’re a member, it will be even less busy if you visit then.

I think the best time to visit is at the end of the day in the summer. Omaha Children’s Museum extends its hours on weekdays, closing on 5 p.m., and when I walk through the museum during that last hour, it’s just a handful of families. So, if you’re little one isn’t on a strict napping schedule that conflicts with arriving later in the day, I’d recommend going that route.

And pro parent tip: Bring a swimsuit for the kids or a change of clothes. The museum has a small splash pad in front and it’s hard for kids to resist in the heat of summer.

Special events at Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Children’s Museum has special events almost monthly, and all but a handful are included with museum admission. That means, the events are free for member families.

The museum’s Friday Family Date Nights are popular events happening on select Fridays during the winter months. The hours for these events have expanded in 2019, so they now run from 4 to 8 p.m. I highly recommend arriving before 4 p.m. if you can manage it. Chances are good that your child will want to play first before doing any of the themed activities, so might as well let them.

Tip: You can visit even come earlier in the day, leave and then return. So, let’s say you visit in the afternoon, leave for dinner, and then return for themed activities. Totally acceptable. Just keep your admission stickers on.

For Friday Family Date Nights, and other events like Star Wars Night, you do not need to purchase tickets in advance. Just show up and buy them at the front desk.

Making flower crowns at Omaha Children's Museum
At one of the Worldfests at Omaha Children’s Museum, the Lithuanian area included making flower crowns.

Besides evening events, there are a few annual ones to look forward to. I love going to Worldfest with the kiddos each summer, as well as Tinkerfest. There is also an annual Little Scientist Day that ties in with NESci Fest. I know I’m missing a few others.

The museum has a few ticketed events that require pre-purchasing tickets. The most popular is the Fairytale Ball, held each summer. Kids (and many of their grown ups) dress up for it. It includes a dinner, tons of characters, crafts and horse-drawn carriage rides. You save about $15 off each ticket if you’re a member.

Eating at Omaha Children’s Museum

The museum has the Rainbow Cafe, located upstairs by the carousel. The prices are surprisingly low for museums or attractions, in my opinion. And there is a good amount of healthy options like sliced apples & dip, cheese sticks, and carrots & dip. And then, of course, there are the not-so-healthy options like pizza slices, large pretzels, and hot dogs.

I’ve eaten there a few times when I forget to bring my lunch to work. It’s easy to make healthy choices, but I often end up getting a pretzel and cheese sauce (because I’m weak).

New food in 2019: The museum’s cafe just added Mini Melts Ice Cream to its offering. This brand is similar to Dippin’ Dots, only creamier.

On the first floor, your offerings are limited to what’s available at the gift shop. This includes $1 popcorn. There’s also coffee available, and a little tip for winter visits, the coffee machine also makes delicious hot cocoa.

The good news is that it’s totally fine to bring outside food here and eat it in one of the designated dining areas. Please do not eat in any of the exhibits spaces. In the summer, I often eat at the picnic tables outside. The tables are next to the antique fire truck kids like play on.

There aren’t a whole lot of restaurants within walking distance of the museum, not at least any that I’d send you guys too. One of the closest is Block 16, and while it’s crazy delicious, you’ll likely encounter a line (and there’s no kid’s menu). You’re better off driving the short distance to the Old Market and trying one of these family-friendly restaurants.

Parking at Omaha Children’s Museum

The museum has two parking lots on the south side of the building. Parking in them is free. On the weekends and in the summer (and on school holidays), the parking lot of the elementary school across the street is available for free, overflow parking, as well.

On busy days, during the summer, and on the weekends, though, the free parking fills up. There are plenty of metered parking spots along the street, but of course, those cost money (except on Sundays). Timing your visit on one of those busy days may help you snag a parking spot in the main parking lots. I recommend visiting right after the lunch hour, say around 1 p.m. Why? Because families often leave around lunch in order to get home in time for naps.

What makes Omaha Children’s Museum unique?

Very few children’s museums have as many special exhibits each year. In Omaha, there are two big special exhibits in the larger, upstairs space each year. On the lower level, there’s a smaller exhibits space that changes more frequently, and usually includes something seasonal. So, for Halloween, there’s Cobweb Castle and at Christmas time, there’s Santa’s Magic.

Omaha Children's Museum's light piano.
Don’t skip playing a song or two on the museum’s light piano.

The museum is also one of the few to design and build their own exhibits (well, for bigger pieces, they design and then hire places like Heartland Scenic Studio to build them). These exhibits tend to be more hands-on and less branded. They occasionally rent an exhibit, and that’s when you’ll typically see the brand name characters involved.

Upcoming special exhibits include:

Attic Adventures (March 2 through Sept. 1, 2019)

Enchanted Kingdom (summer 2019)

Digging’ Dinos (October 2019 through mid-April 2020)

OCM Family Memberships

If there’s a chance your family is going to visit more than two or three times in one year, I highly recommend getting a membership. Even if you think you’ll only visit twice – get one.

Why? Your membership gets you into other museums and science centers around the country for FREE (they have to belong to the Association of Science and Technology Centers and be more than 90 miles from your home museum). This is why I also recommend getting a family membership even if you have a kid on the verge of aging out (or if your oldest has already aged out). The regular Family Membership gets you reciprocal membership benefits to more than 250 science centers and technology centers. Some of the places I’ve used the reciprocal membership include the Science Center of Iowa and The Field Museum. I explain it better in this post.

If you buy a Patron Family Membership, which costs more, you also get discounted admission into children’s museums that are in the Association of Children’s Museums. ACM doesn’t give you free admission for up to four people, though. It’s usually 50% off. It’s still a nice perk.

I wrote an entire post about the perks of an Omaha Children’s Museum membership; read it to learn about the discounts on camps, birthdays, gift shop purchases, etc.

Discounts to Omaha Children’s Museum

People often ask about free days at Omaha Children’s Museum. Well, hate to break it to you, but there aren’t many free days. The only one is the first Sunday in December during the Omaha Lights Festival’s Family Festival. As you can imagine, it gets very busy and parking is hard to come by.

Your best bet, if you’re local, is to have an Omaha Public Library card. On certain times of the year, each OPL branch has a limited amount of family passes to check out. The passes admit up to four people, and you must show your library card when you bring it to the museum. There are some limits to it – you have to be 18 and older, for instance; and you can only check one out per “wave” of passes.

Other libraries that have similar pass programs include Council Bluffs Public Library and Carter Lake Public Library.

If you’re not local, I recommend downloading the Visit Omaha app called the Omaha Savings App. You can save money on each ticket for up to six people.

Better yet, if you have a membership to a science center that might belong to the ASCT, use it to get in free! Remember, there are rules that apply, so if your ASCT membership is to a museum closer than 90 miles of OCM, it won’t get you in for free.

Things to know before you visit Omaha Children's Museum - Get tips on when to go, dining options, and parking suggestions #Omaha #Nebraska #familytime

Want more Omaha Children’s Museum tips?

I could write another 1,000-word post about the museum, but I’d rather not. Leave me a comment if you have a specific question for me to answer. I’m happy to help!

If you go

Omaha Children’s Museum

Where: 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: $13 (ages 2 to 59), $12 (seniors), and FREE for kids under 24 months and members.

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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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