Tag Archives: activities

Family Vacation Tips

June 20, 2013 by

Family vacation is a great opportunity to spend quality time together and create long-lasting memories. Get the most from your family vacation with a couple of quick tips from Boys Town Pediatrics.

Packing 

Make a list a couple of weeks before your vacation. Add to it as you remember items your family will need. Make sure to include:

  • Essential paperwork—pack plane tickets, health insurance cards, passports, and identification cards in a watertight baggie.
  • First-aid kit—include Ibuprofen, sunscreen, bug spray, prescription medications, band-aids, contact solution, antiseptic, Pepto-Bismol, sewing kit, disposable wipes, etc.
  • Back-up luggage—take precaution in case of lost luggage by packing a set of clothing, toiletries, and essentials in your carry-on.

Traveling

Discuss the travel arrangements and planned activities with your family. The anticipation of riding in an airplane or stopping to see the waterfall will keep them focused on what is to come instead of long travel times. Other travel tips include:

  • Bringing a reading or activity book or audio book.
  • Playing a game. See who can spot the most license plates from different states or bring cards for the plane ride.
  • Watching a movie. Have each child pick from a pre-selected group of movies.
  • Planning stops along the way. Sightseeing can prevent restlessness and unnecessary stopping.
  • Keeping busy during long layovers. Try to find the children’s play area or watch planes ascend and descend through the windows.

If you are traveling abroad, make sure to check the United States Embassy website for the country you are visiting. On the site, you will find information about required immunizations, travel advisories, and how to register your trip. It is also suggested to leave a copy of your passport back in the United States, so if your passport is lost, the information can be retrieved.

Meal Time

All the activities your family will do will keep everyone busy but also hungry. By pre-planning your family’s meals, you will save money and keep everyone going for the whole vacation. Fuel your family’s hunger by:

  • Carrying along pre-packed, filling snacks.
  • Bringing bottled water or a refillable drink container.
  • Planning a picnic instead of eating out every meal.
  • Picking out a few local treats to prevent too many sweets.

Making Memories

Make the most of your family vacation budget by booking tickets, excursions, and rentals in advance. Choose a few larger activities and leave room for free time, exploring, and relaxation. Consider free activities that include:

  • Hiking a trail or walking the beach.
  • Swimming at the hotel pool.
  • Bringing bikes and pedaling around town.
  • Checking out local events and activities.

Most of all, enjoy your vacation, relax, and make memories that your family will remember for a lifetime.

Stimulate Your Kids’ Brains This Summer

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Summer Time = Fun Time! This is true for all of us, especially kids who are looking for a break from school. But according to Harris Cooper, author of Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions, a concern of educators and parents is that the long summer vacation breaks the rhythm of instruction, since children learn best when instruction is continuous. Long breaks from school can often require educators to do a significant amount of review of material when students return to school in the fall. Below are some suggestions on ways to keep your child’s brain engaged throughout the summer while still having opportunities to practice skills they acquired in the classroom.

Lakeshore Learning Center, located at 12005 W. Center Rd., offers free crafts for kids every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can even check the website to preview the craft. While you are there, pick up some educational games and activities your child can do during the week. The store offers educational games for all ages and in every subject area in which your child may have an interest.

If your budget is a little tight, your children can participate in the Omaha Public Library’s free summer reading program. Each library will post a schedule online describing the special activities your children can participate in, along with the days and the times they will be taking place. They also can earn points for reading each day and exchange their points for prizes. Another good source for free activities is familyfuninomaha.com. This website features a page entitled “Summer Fun Series,” in which parents can find free summer activities throughout Omaha. Some of these may include special kid-friendly activities at the local malls, free local fine arts performances, and community events.

We all know how much our children love to spend time on the computer, so make it worth their while by directing them to websites that encourage them to practice reading and math skills while still having a good time. Try out some of the following sites:

Remember—making sure your kids’ brains stay active throughout the summer will help them transition into the next grade smoothly and lessen their stress level at the start of the year.

2013 Summer Fun in Omaha!

May 1, 2013 by

Looking for some fun events happening around Omaha this summer? Here’s a list of the “big ones” coming your way, and there’s something for everyone!

MAY EVENTS


Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power
Through May 5 at The Durham Museum

Nature Connects
Through May 17 at Lauritzen Gardens

Dinosaurs Alive! The Lost Valley
Through October at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting
May 4-5 at CenturyLink Center Omaha

Cinco de Mayo
May 5 at Historic South 24th Street

Al Jarreau & Condoleeza Rice Gala Concert
May 10 at Holland Performing Arts Center

Carrie Underwood
May 12 at CenturyLink Center Omaha

The Addams Family
May 14-19 at Orpheum Theater

The Color Run
May 25 at CenturyLink Center Omaha

A Bug’s World
May 25 – September 8 at Omaha Children’s Museum

A T-Rex Named Sue
May 25 – September 8 at The Durham Museum

16th Annual Taste of Omaha
May 31 – June 2 at Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing

The Wizard of Oz
May 31 – June 30 at Omaha Community Playhouse

JUNE EVENTS


Tempo of Twilight
June 5 & 19, July 10 & 24, August 7 & 21, September 4 at Lauritzen Gardens

Omaha Beer Fest
June 7-8 at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village

Summer Arts Festival
June 7-9 at 10th to 15th on Farnam St.

Sand in the City®
June 8-9 at CenturyLink Center Omaha

Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color
June 8 – September 1 at Joslyn Art Museum

2013 NCAA® College World Series Opening Day Celebration
June 14 at TD Ameritrade Park

2013 NCAA® College World Series
June 15-26 at TD Ameritrade Park

Shakespeare on the Green: Twelfth Night
June 20-23, July 3, 5, & 7 at Elmwood Park

Shakespeare on the Green: Titus Andronicus
June 27-30, July 2 & 6 at Elmwood Park

JULY EVENTS


Alice Cooper
July 3 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

The Avett Brothers
July 3 Harrah’s Stir Cove

Yoga Rocks the Park
Through July 14 at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing

Justin Bieber
July 6 at CenturyLink Center Omaha

U.S. Senior Open
July 8-14 at Omaha Country Club

Kenny G
July 11 at Ralston Arena

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
July 11 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Jazz on the Green
July 11 – August 15 at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing

Railroad Days
July 13-14 at Lauritzen Gardens

Martina McBride
July 19 at Ralston Arena

Sheryl Crow
July 21 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Daughtry & 3 Doors Down
July 31 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Native Omaha Days
July 31-August 5 at various locations

AUGUST EVENTS


Darius Rucker
August 2 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Riverfront Wine Festival
August 3 at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village

Queens of the Stone Age
August 4 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival
August 9-10 at 204th & Q streets

Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus
August 17 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Omaha Fashion Week
August 19-24 at Capitol District

Cox Classic
August 19-25 at Champions Run

Chicago
August 30 at Harrah’s Stir Cove

Merrymakers Association

October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For many elderly citizens, living in a retirement community or a nursing home can be a lonely existence, what with being cut off from family, old friends, and—what sometimes seems like—the outside world. Several factors can keep someone from being able to leave the senior facility, whether it be physical immobility or mental functioning, which can often inhibit residents from being able to enjoy the leisure activities they used to—going to movies, visiting with people in the community, or watching musical performances. But one nonprofit organization is dedicated to brightening the lives of those very seniors by bringing the music and laughter to them.

Merrymakers Association began serving seniors in nursing homes in 1986 after a local entertainer met with a group of Omaha businessmen to form the organization. Slowly but surely, this effort to provide the elderly with live, musical entertainment grew. Today, Merrymakers serves more than 40,000 seniors with free, musical entertainment annually. In 2012 alone, more than 100 facilities received Merrymakers musical programming.

Most senior facilities have a limited budget for activities for their residents; the cost of providing entertainment can use up most of the activities budget. In addition, many facilities have seen a dramatic decline in the number of musicians available to provide free or affordable entertainment for their residents. This is why Merrymakers never charges for their performances, and instead relies on donations from the community.

Merrymakers is all about fun in Executive Director Tricia Cottrell’s view. “While there are many wonderful and caring individuals and groups, who are willing to give their time and talent at senior-serving entities by volunteering to perform, we ‘take it up a notch’ by making sure our entertainers are trained professionals, who are in demand in the community at large,” she says. “We make a specific effort to provide the seniors with the music of their youth—to bring back the memories of that first dance at their wedding, the song they heard at their senior prom, or the one they sang to the children.”

GALA Merry Makers

Cottrell has been leading Merrymakers for the last two-and-a-half years. After a long career in business, she made the switch to nonprofit work. “I am a musician myself—third generation of the now five generation of musicians in my family…I love working with creative people and have a strong interest in seniors and their well-being. [Merrymakers] was a perfect fit for me…I have jokingly said I intend to still be leading the organization when I am living at one of the facilities we service.”

Cottrell’s very first “mission moment” occurred when a resident’s daughter thanked Merrymakers for the performance of WWII songs. “Her mother had severe dementia and had become disconnected from much of what was happening, but she sang all the words to the songs of her youth. Our performance allowed this daughter to have her mother present in the moment for the entire hour, and that is a gift I would gladly give anyone.”

Like many in Merrymakers, Cottrell knows that music is often used with the elderly to increase levels of physical, emotional, and mental functioning. The sensory and intellectual stimulation of the music can help maintain or improve a person’s quality of life.

“How a community treats their elders is an indicator of the health of the community as a whole. If we warehouse people and treat them as useless, we make a statement about what we value,” asserts Cottrell. “While the arts may not be as critical as health care, housing, or food, we truly believe that we provide sustenance for the mind and for the soul of these seniors and that their feelings of joy are just as critical to their well-being.”

Merrymakers is home to 14 professional entertainers of all ages and backgrounds with their own unique styles of performance. Two such performers include vocalist and guitarist Kim Eames and vocalist Physha.

Kim Eames has been with Merrymakers for eight years now. She got involved after another entertainer, Joe Taylor (a.k.a. “Mr. Memories”), who has been there for 18 years, had her audition. “I was the only female at that time,” she says. “They had four men, and they were looking to gather up some female entertainers.”

“How a community treats their elders is an indicator of the health of the community as a whole. If we warehouse people and treat them as useless, we make a statement about what we value.” – Tricia Cottrell, executive director with Merrymakers Association

Born and raised in Omaha, Eames has been performing for 40 years. After getting her first guitar at age 11, Eames threw herself into the musical world, playing weddings, private parties, lounges, and even heading out on the road. Since then, she has gained a performance reputation in Omaha after having performed at La Festa Italiana, Taste of Omaha, and other shows for businesses and corporations.

Eames likes to play different kinds of music. “My music usually spans from the 1920s to early 2000s, which allows me to play so many different things. I don’t call myself a country singer or a ‘50s singer. I try not to pinpoint any genre.” Eames says that because an audience is always filled with different people, a performer can’t play one kind of music because it will only hit a few people.

During her time with Merrymakers, Eames has heard her fair share of good memories from audience members. “I love hearing about their lives—what they did and who they are. A guy I met played in the brass section for Dinah Shore, and a woman I met danced for USO shows and knew Bob Hope personally…I love these unique stories. It’s amazing what you hear. I always come home with a lot more than I left with.”

Like Eames, vocalist Physha loves hearing stories and getting to meet the residents in her audience. “[A few months ago], I sang for a lady named Mary, who was 105 years old,” she says. “She said to me that those were tunes she hadn’t gotten to hear in some time. To see someone who has lived their life—who has paved the way from their time—respond like that…just the effect of music bringing them back to that time is an indescribable feeling.”

Physha has been with Merrymakers for a little more than two years. “I started a business called Classic Impressions Musical Entertainment a couple years ago, and I had been going to retirement communities to perform. Tricia Cottrell happened to be visiting the retirement community where I was performing one night. She saw my show and asked if I’d want to be a Merrymaker.”

GALA Merry Makers

Although she has only been performing for two years with Merrymakers, Physha is no stranger to the entertainment industry. After having been a model from a young age, she performed in musicals and with bands all over the Midwest. “I was born and raised here, so I’ve always come back to my stomping grounds.”

Physha likes to engage her audience during her performances. “I make sure they’re having a good time with me, so I’ll bring hand instruments like tambourines to get them involved.” As for her music, she generally performs songs from any genre between the 1920s and current time, but she bases her performances around her audience. “Ninety-five percent of my audience is in retirement communities, so my music is really about what they want to hear. I love seeing them smile as they tap their toes and sing along. To see that in the height of Alzheimer’s and dementia is truly amazing.”

Physha believes music is a universal language that brings people together and always has. “Everyone can relate to music,” she adds.

Merrymakers hold performances year-round at many different locations. They will also hold their Annual Roast on Nov. 8 with Sid Dinsdale, President and Chairman of Pinnacle Bank, as the guest of honor. Some of the past honorees at the Annual Roast include Governor Ben Nelson, Mayor Mike Fahey, Mary Maxwell, Bruce Lauritzen, and Walter Scott. The event will take place at Embassy Suites La Vista from 6-9pm, and all proceeds will go to help Merrymakers Association’s mission.

For more information, visit merrymakers.org or call 402-697-0205.