Tag Archives: HerFamily

5-Minute Workout
: Total Body

February 21, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This exercise is all about the whole body working together to strengthen core stability and balance. Keep flow in mind: Breathe with the movements and keep your body fluid. That means no locked knees and a strong back that doesn’t sag.

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Exercise

  1. Stand upright with feet together. To keep your inner thighs tight and engaged, place a rolled up hand towel between them. Remove it but keep your thighs tight as though they were still holding the towel in place.
  2. Place a band under one foot and hold an end in each hand.20131030_bs_8260_CLIPPING
  3. Bring the “banded” foot up so the knee is at 90 degrees.
  4. Extend your raised leg out behind you, reaching your arms forward.20131030_bs_8276_CLIP
  5. Return to your starting position.
  6. Kick the same leg forward in front of the body, as straight as you can, while curling your biceps.20131030_bs_8272_CLIP
  7. Continue steps 1-6 for 5-10 reps, alternating legs. Strive for flowing, synchronized movements.

Cindy Cook of Legacy Pilates, Yoga & More find them at mindbodyprograms.com

 

Meet The Linthakhans

February 20, 2014 by
Photography by Amber Linthakhan

When David and Amber Linthakhan decided they were ready to start a family, David says he “started to look for something that could be a career in Omaha to make a bunch of money and have a big house and all that kind of stuff.”

First selling cars, then working in insurance, David worked long hours and missed time with Amber and his two sons.

“When he was in the car business, he would work 12- to 13-hour days,” Amber says. “He’d be gone when the boys woke up, and, two days a week, the boys would be asleep before he got home. So he missed out on days.”

In insurance, the long hours included always being on call.

“I was finding myself miserable,” David says.

He started to wonder about bigger possibilities for his family.

“One weekend we were out camping, and we really loved camping,” David says. “I had been, I guess, soul-searching without really talking to Amber. And I asked her what she thought if we moved away and did something else.”

Amber says, “I’d been begging him to leave and move. I’d been having itchy feet to travel for a long time, so I was all for it. I said, ‘Absolutely. When do we leave? What are we going to do?’”

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Recalling his childhood dream of being a park ranger, David started looking into park ranger schools. “Being a ranger always had that appeal to me,” he says. “You stood for something. You were protecting something that we could destroy and never get back, and I wanted to be part of that.”

From a list of just seven academies, Parks Law Enforcement Academy in Mount Vernon, Wash., drew them in.

Though both were born and raised in the Midwest, David and Amber had always loved the Pacific Northwest. They were particularly attracted to Washington for its variety of landscapes and climates: trees, mountains, ocean and fresh water, deserts, and rainforests.

In January 2013, David began school. A few months later, Amber and the boys joined him, bringing only what they could fit in their pickup truck.

This was a leap of faith. “There wasn’t a guarantee of a job afterward,” Amber says.

“It’s a really competitive industry,” David explains. “So many people in the states have the same dream, want to be part of conserving and preserving. You’ve really got to stand out amongst so many people who are fighting for that same job.”

About three months into academy, Washington State Parks started recruiting from within the program. David was grateful and relieved to be one of approximately five cadets recruited.

Now the family lives in Lake Chelan State Park, Wash.

“This park sits on a huge lake that’s 52 miles long and 1,500 feet deep at its deepest point, which puts it below sea level,” David says. “The water is crystal clear, so you can see down 20 feet.”

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David spends much of his on-season time educating visitors on the park features.

“Sometimes I have to go into law enforcement mode and do things that a police officer would do,” David says. “But our park here is a little slower paced as far as that goes. A lot of families. So there’s not a whole lot of trouble, which makes it a really nice place to raise our kids.”

Jace, 5, and Kasen, 3 and a half, are very adventurous. They like to go on hikes, play with bugs, and play superheroes—in fact, Kasen will only respond to the name “Superman,” and even corrects Amber when she talks about him.

Amber stays home with the boys. In addition to enjoying the kids, she also gardens, repurposes furniture, does crafts, bakes, cooks, and “dinks around in a lot of different things.”

She writes and keeps up their blog: simplythewildside.com. This has been one major way they can keep their family, all of whom live in the Midwest, updated. “It’s really tough being far away from family and friends,” she says. “But it’s a great time to fall into ourselves, learn more about us, and develop in that way. We are, basically, all alone out here. We lean on each other a lot and are growing a lot as a little family, for sure.”

“I felt like my duty as a husband and father was to make a bunch of money and provide for my family. To make sure we had everything we felt would make us happy. TVs, going out to eat all the time,” David says. “I don’t make near as much money as I used to, but we have a better life, I feel.”

It’s a simple life. Their belongings still pretty much all fit into that pickup truck. They do have a TV for hooking up movies, but they rarely use it.

“It just feels more free,” David says.

“We’re not tied down to a schedule either,” Amber says. “We wake up, and if we just want to hang out all day, that’s what we do. There’s no time pressure.”

Time is exactly the thing David was missing out on before. “Living in the park, I have so much more time to spend with my kids and my wife,” he says. “I don’t have to commute, for one. I walk out, and I’m on the clock.”

His 15-minute breaks and his hour-long lunch breaks are spent at home. “It’s surprising how much time you get to spend with them just in those little bits,” he says.

They can’t imagine going back to a “regular life, back to the busy,” according to Amber. If state and federal funding allows it, David hopes to be a park ranger until he retires.

As for Washington, Amber says, “We’re not opposed to going somewhere else. But we do love it here.”

Jodi Saso’s 
Heart for Running

February 18, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For many avid runners, qualifying for the Boston Marathon is considered the pinnacle of their running career. For 35-year-old Jodi Saso, completing the Boston Marathon was that and so much more.

Not only did it mark a major feat in her running career, but Saso crossed the finish line just 10 weeks after undergoing major heart surgery. Completing the marathon was a personal confirmation that she had risen above her heart condition and could continue “life as usual,” despite this unexpected setback.

“I didn’t want to be a victim of my circumstances and lay around feeling sorry for myself,” says Saso. “It was all about determination and not wanting to live that life. I figured I had one shot to do this, and I wasn’t going to let my surgery get in the way.”

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This is all even more amazing when you consider the fact that Saso had taken up running just several years ago when she decided she need to do something to get herself and her dog into shape. The pounds began to fall off, running became easier, and it wasn’t long before Saso had developed a new passion.

Saso found running to be a natural fit, and before long, she had started training for marathons. By 2012, she had run eight marathons in one year in addition to several half marathons and a 50-mile run. She was hooked and breaking her own records with each race. Saso felt wonderful physically and emotionally.

But an annual check-up with her doctor told her otherwise.

When Saso was very young, her pediatrician suspected that she might have Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue. The most serious complications of Marfan are defects of the heart valve and aorta. However, Saso never received a firm diagnosis. When she began seeing a new family practitioner in her late 20s, he too suspected Marfan syndrome and recommended they monitor her heart on a regular basis. A heart echo performed at her 2012 visit revealed an aortic aneurysm—a stretched and bulging section in the wall of the aorta.

“When the aorta becomes stretched, there is a big risk of the aorta dissecting or tearing or, even worse, rupturing and causing death,” says Traci Jurrens, MD, cardiologist at Nebraska Methodist Hospital, who performed the echocardiogram. “Jodi’s aorta had reached the threshold for repair.”

Because of the difficulty of the procedure, most cardiac surgeons replace both the valve and aorta during surgery, which requires lifelong anticoagulation with the blood-thinning drug called Coumadin, explains Dr. Jurrens. Coumadin can have a host of side effects, including easy bruising and bleeding.

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“Since she was so young, we determined that it would be worthwhile for Saso to go to the Mayo Clinic, where cardiac surgeons were able to perform the surgery without removing her own valve,” notes Dr. Jurrens.

Saso’s surgery was scheduled for Jan. 31, 2013. The timing could not have been worse. She had qualified for the Boston Marathon the spring before. The run was scheduled for April 15, just 10 weeks after her surgery. It was a dream she was not willing to let go so easily. “I asked my doctors if there was any way that I could still run the race,” she says. “They were doubtful, but they said it was contingent upon how the surgery and recovery went.”

Following surgery, Saso says she was in so much pain that she thought she would never leave the hospital. “Before I left the hospital, they told me that I had to walk the entire floor six times a day,” she says. “That first day, I could barely walk 10 feet.”

But that’s when Saso’s determination kicked in. “My goal was to run the Boston, and I was going to do everything I could to make that happen.” By day three, she was off pain medications. By day five, she was doing two laps instead of one six times a day and was released from the hospital to go home.

Encouraged by her quick recovery, Saso was on a fast track from then on, she says. By two weeks, Dr. Jurrens had released Saso to return to work. Four weeks after surgery, Saso finished an entire stress test—Dr. Jurrens’ first patient to do that. Jurrens cleared her to run the Boston as long as she promised to run it over four hours.

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Donning a T-shirt that read, “I had open heart surgery 10 weeks ago. Let’s do this!” Saso proudly crossed the finish line in 4:08:15.

“I felt amazing,” she says. Luck continued to be on Saso’s side. Having mistakenly booked her return flight extremely close to the race finish time, she had no time to hang out and celebrate. Instead, she left the race immediately to catch her flight. A short time later, she heard about the 2013 Boston bombings. “Someone was looking over me,” she says.

“Jodi has done remarkably,” says Dr. Jurrens. “It is quite a difficult procedure, but Jodi had excellent results. Because Jodi was in such great shape, she was able to get through surgery very well. In general, great functional capacity prior to surgery predicts better recovery from cardiac surgery. That being said, we really do not know what is safe for Jodi in regard to running, and we do discourage excessive exercise. But running is Jodi’s life, and she is going to make her own decision in regard to running.”

Saso completed five marathons in 2013 but says she is planning to slow down the pace for her own health benefits. “I’m going to do just two marathons a year in the future,” she says. “I want to be smart about this, and I really don’t want to have surgery again.”

The pace may be slower, but her determination to live life as usual is stronger than ever, says Saso. She recites one of her favorite quotes, which she says she applies both to running and life: “The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop, but the mind must be strong. You can always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…it is not age. It is not diet. It is the will to succeed. Let’s do this!”

What happens when a child ages out of foster care?

February 16, 2014 by

Being a child in the foster care system can be lonely and confusing. Just ask Tabitha. Shuffled from one home to another, one town to another—by the time she was in high school, she was an entire year behind in her studies. She lost track of the number of foster homes and families that she left behind. It wasn’t until she was 17—nearly out of the system—that she became part of a family.

While foster care is not ideal, there are a few people who provide some stability and support while you are part of the “system.” Your caseworker. Maybe your therapist. But once you turn 19, those connections are usually lost. There may not be one single, caring adult who asks if you are doing okay. If you have enough to eat or just need a little help. If you have a place to stay or a way to get to work—if you even have a job. Or a way to go to college.

Just one caring person can make all the difference for a young adult who ages out of foster care. On their own, many are simply lost. Without connections, the statistics are grim for these older teens and young adults. Within two years, half are essentially homeless. They may be couch-surfing just to have a warm place to sleep. They have no network to find a job. Few can afford a car or even know how to drive, since the State of Nebraska doesn’t take on the liability of state wards learning those skills. They are easy targets for pimps and human traffickers. Many become pregnant.

Now, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFS) has adopted the national “Family Finding” model. This model recognizes the urgency of helping these young people establish meaningful, supportive, permanent relationships with loving adults—simply as a matter of safety, to start.

LFS is currently the only Nebraska agency providing these types of permanency services to 19-26 year-olds previously in foster care. In July 2013, LFS’ Permanent Connections program began working to build bridges for young adults to biological family members, former foster parents, siblings, former case workers, or group home staff. Most recently, LFS began expanding this support to young adults in Fremont and surrounding areas.

The program starts by identifying 40 people who have somehow been involved in the life of the young person. From this group, a smaller team is chosen. This team includes those willing to make a long-term commitment to this young adult and be an active, stable part of their lives. It’s not as formal as adoption; more like a vow to be a friend.

Many youth who grow up in foster care or spend significant time in foster homes transition into adulthood alone. They lose contact with all the people in their lives who were once in a caring role. Permanent Connections helps these youth create ties with caring and supportive adults who can give them some stability and support.

Does your family have a fire escape plan?

February 15, 2014 by

With the winter months upon us, families nestle in their homes trying to stay warm, spending time by the fireplace and preparing comfort foods. As the temperature drops, residential house fires occurrences rise. Several factors contribute to the increase, including the use of personal heating devices, candles, and unattended cooking equipment.

Knowing how to prevent household fires, along with what to do when a fire occurs, will be beneficial to your family when every minute matters.

Start with prevention

The National Fire Prevention Association suggests your family start with the basics by:

  • Checking your household smoke detectors monthly;
  • Replacing batteries in smoke detectors annually;
  • Ensuring that your house or building number is visible from the street;
  • Memorizing the emergency phone number to the fire department;
  • Ensuring all exits are properly working and free of obstructions, specifically windows;
  • Designing a home fire escape plan.

They also recommend that families conduct a fire safety walkthrough of their home monthly to eliminate any potential fire hazards such as overloaded electrical circuits or faulty wiring.

Have a basic plan

Boys Town Pediatrics knows that developing a plan is important for those times when seconds are critical. Making a family fire escape plan can be a great opportunity to remind children about the importance of safety. Designing a fire escape plan can be easy with the following steps:

  1. Make a map of your house’s layout, showing all windows and doors.
  2. On the plan, make note of two exits out of every room, including the quickest exit outside.
  3. Pick a meeting spot outside the house where the family will gather after an emergency happens.
  4. Go over the basics in fire safety such as staying low to keep out of the smoke, never opening doors that are hot to the touch, and how to find the most immediate and safest route out.

Test the plan

The best way to ensure your plan will work is to hold a fire drill. Inform the family that there will be a fire drill within the next week. Waking your child in the middle of the night may be alarming, but we advise planning a drill in both the evening when it is dark as well as during the day.

After the mock drill, tweak your plan as needed. Remember to revisit the family fire escape plan every six months or after a child has changed rooms.

For more information on fire prevention and safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at www.usfa.fema.gov.

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014 by

Growing up in a Catholic elementary school, we took notice of holidays with religious connections, mostly involving saints. However, as a younger child, Valentine’s Day did not seem to fit into that religious holiday category. February 14th, skipped over as a feast day by most, is originally known as St. Valentine’s Day.

St. Valentine was a Christian priest in the third century, living in Rome. The Roman emperor at that time, Claudius II, decided that single men would be more useful for fighting, not falling in love. He issued a law forbidding the marriage of any young man. Valentine would not put up with this new rule, so he began to perform marriages in secret. Unfortunately, Claudius II found out about Valentine and put him to death.

Now, Valentine’s Day is known as a holiday celebrating love. Not much is remembered about the famous martyr and even less is actually cared about. Most people see it as a day to recognize all the people that you love in your life—and especially that one special person.

For teenagers such as myself, the holiday does not take over our lives. We shouldn’t spend hours upon hours figuring out the right gift and thinking of things to say to get someone else to fall in love with us. If you happen to be in a relationship, then it is perfectly fine to get your girlfriend/boyfriend a little something, but the holiday should not be blown up to be that big of a deal. Much of the reason teenagers like to make a big deal about Valentine’s Day is to make them seem more mature, but, in a sense, they are only mocking the original intent. The holiday is meant to celebrate everyone in real love, so I think we can leave that to the adults.

With all the pink and red hearts floating around, the holiday can be pretty cheesy, but there is some good to it. For adults, it is a great day to show their love for each other. Kids, well, just stick to the hearts and candy.

Daniel Jewell is a student at Mount Michael Benedictine School.

Breakfast Banana Bread

February 13, 2014 by

Don’t throw away those mushy bananas. Very ripe bananas are just what you need for this banana bread recipe. Wrap individual slices for a quick breakfast or healthy snack.

Ingredients (Yield: 14 servings)

  • ½ cup (1 stick) margarine, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. With a hand mixer, beat margarine and sugar in a bowl until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat about 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the margarine mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Add vanilla, sour cream, and bananas; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 171
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 16mg
Sodium: 245mg
Carbohydrates: 29g
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 3g

*Nutritional information is based on ingredients listed and serving size; any additions or substitutions to ingredients may alter the recipe’s nutritional content.

For more healthy recipes, visit HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness.

Finding the Love

February 10, 2014 by

The other day, I did the splits when stepping on my son’s sweatshirt. It should probably be noted that I’ve never done the splits before, so I might have mentioned in a slightly unloving way that he needed to pick his stuff up. Then we had a friend over for dinner, and my sweet, gorgeous daughter reached over my friend and grabbed the drumstick off the chicken and put it on her plate. I was horrified.

I’m really tired of lecturing them though. So I’m going to approach it differently. Maybe their poor housekeeping and manners is an extension of love. I give to you five odd ways that kids express their love for you:

  1. The stall tactics at bedtime. Max and Lucy zone out and move extra slow at the mention of bedtime. They linger in the hallways staring at the walls or have a sudden need to pet the dog. Perhaps they’ve just realized (every night) that the day is over, and they spent a lot of it playing video games or playing with their friends. It’s their way of saying, “But wait, I wanted to hang out with you—I just had 47 other things on my to-do list.” They don’t want their day with you to end. It’s kind of sweet, really. I’m going to try to remember that tonight at bedtime.
  2. “Tuck me in.” This one went on for a long time at our house. To the point where us jerks-for-parents would say things like, “I already tucked you in—go to sleep!” Maybe that’s what’s comforting to them—to see your face right before drifting off to dreamland. Whatever the case, one day they’ll stop asking. And it’ll hurt way more than it inconvenienced you when they were asking to tuck them in.
  3. Leaving shoes, socks, and sweatshirts on the floor. How do they just walk out of their shoes mid-stride like that? Maybe they’re doing it because they feel so secure and comfortable in the home you’ve created. Okay, this one is a stretch, and my kids should find a way to just directly express their love for me—or someone is going to get hurt with this expression of love.
  4. Grabbing at food like wild savages before you pray or say “go!” If you’re like me, there’s not enough food in the house that could qualify as being enough…ever. You made the meal for them with love. Consider them eating it with such vigor as the reciprocation of love.
  5. They ask for tiger time or tickle time. Our kids both loathe being tickled. But they see the joy it brings us to all interact in some chaotic dog pile/giggly torture. Tiger time is when our kids ride around on our backs, and we crawl around on all fours. I’m not sure why they picked, of all four-legged creatures, tigers. But who cares. Sadly, the kids are too big to do tiger time any more. But it’s the precision and inside family name when the kids’ request it that shows their love.

So there are five very indirect, slightly far-fetched ways that kids say they love us. I hope this month when we’re celebrating one day of love, we can stop and see the every day love. It’s gotta be in there somewhere.

Love is in the air, 
especially at school.

February 9, 2014 by

This is the month that people rush to buy flowers and chocolates in order to celebrate the love they have found with that “special someone.” However, for those of us working in an elementary school, we may look at this holiday a little differently than the rest.

For us, we take this time to celebrate friendship and positive relationships of all types. We may do this by allowing the children to send special treats to friends or teachers with kind notes attached, or encouraging the students to bring small Valentine greetings to share with their class. This is done to facilitate an appreciation among the students for those people that help make school a nice place for them to spend their days. Yet, school personnel do not wait until February to show love to students. Schools try to do this all year long.

During the nine to 10 months that schools are in session, many different programs are put into place in order to celebrate students and bolster their self-esteem. Awards assemblies are held to recognize students with good grades, students who attend school regularly, and students who are responsible and trustworthy when it comes to their education. Programs are also put into place that celebrate students who are good citizens, respectful, kind, and simply make the school an enjoyable place for others. Schools also make sure that children support other children by holding food drives for needy families, collecting coats and winter gear during the colder months to donate to other children, and supporting letter-writing campaigns to soldiers (who are also students’ parents) who are away from home serving their country.

All of these things give students a sense of pride and accomplishment. This leads the way to further academic and personal success in their lives, and it helps them spread and receive lots of love!

Exploring Omaha on Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love and letting your spouse, your children, your friends—even your dog—know that you care.

But when it comes to Valentine’s Day celebrations, it can be a little difficult to share the wealth when you find yourself stuck in the stereotypical rut of chocolate, flowers, and the same dinner at your favorite restaurant every year.

Home to dozens of distinct neighborhoods, Omaha offers hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered, as well as classic landmarks that might be overlooked on Valentine’s Day.

Meghan Francis and Kerry Jones, founders of the Omaha-based blog Wise Owl + Sly Fox, brainstormed some unique Omaha Valentine’s Day activities.

“I guess we’ve always been old souls with old styles, and that’s one great thing about Omaha: There’s just so much history here,” says Francis.

Together, Francis and Jones came up with a Valentine’s Day “tour of Omaha.” Pick and choose from different activities to show loved ones a small portion of all the intimacy, history, and romance that Omaha has to offer.

Get your heart rate up in the morning with a walk or run with your loved one through the Field Club neighborhood. Located along an old railroad bend, the Field Club trail offers visitors a brief glimpse into a bygone era. Although you’ll have to bundle up, the sights of this secluded area include gorgeous ravines, snow-capped trees, and abandoned railroad tracks.

If your partner is a history buff, make a quick stop by the Gerald R. Ford Preservation Center near Hanscomb Park. An exhibition on Ford, the only president to have lived in Omaha, is open by appointment by calling the center’s main phone line at 402-595-1180. The exhibit is available for private viewing Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., free of charge. The exhibit features photos of his birthplace, family memorabilia, and gifts given to Ford by world leaders and well-wishing locals.

For lunch, hop on over to Dundee, home to both casual and higher-end fare in an all-accessible setting. Stop by the French Bulldog for something on the trendier side or try Dundee Dell for classic comfort food from an Omaha staple. Both spaces offer comfortable opportunities to spend some time watching the eclectic crowd of Dundee.

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If you’re looking for an afternoon activity once the kids come home from school, Valentine’s Day crafts are an easy way to get the whole family involved. Francis and Jones suggest making homemade cards.

“We’re big fans of sending things through the mail. It’s just always a fun thing, and it’s something that we don’t do a lot in this day and age,” says Francis.

“Send them to your grandma, your single aunt, veterans at the VA hospital, whoever,” adds Jones.

For crafting supplies, head out to South-Central Omaha. David M. Mangelsen’s has been stocking Omaha’s crafting closets since 1961, and is an easy stop to find any Valentine’s Day-related arts and crafts supplies you could think of. A few hours coloring, gluing, and bedazzling might expose some hidden creativity among the family.

If you want to end your night with a more traditional Valentine’s Day celebration, spend the night in the Old Market, which is home to a host of restaurants that offer the quintessential romantic dinners by candlelight. Francis and Jones’ personal favorite is La Buvette, a French-style café and grocer.

For some after-dinner entertainment, look to the Omaha art scene. Many of the Old Market’s art galleries, including the Passageway Gallery and Anderson O’Brien Fine Art, are open until 9 p.m. on Fridays for some late-night shopping.

Although, after a whirlwind day around Omaha, you might want to hit the sack early.