Monthly Archives: November 2013

Christmas Celebrations Across Nebraska

With Thanksgiving happening the 28th, the latest possible date for that holiday, Christmas is going to sneak upon us rather quickly this year!  One of our family celebrations will be happening in just 2 weeks.  I know this December is going to go even quicker than ever.

Christmas G

December always seems to be a packed month.  On this blog, I am planning on sharing several fun family options and experiences that you can have throughout this season.  But because I do not want to completely overwhelm your inbox, I hope to post even more on my Odyssey Through Nebraska Facebook page.  This way I can share different event possibilities more frequently.  So, if you are not a Facebook fan, today is great day to become one, especially if you are actually from Nebraska.  And since I cannot possibly keep up with every activity, I am hoping that many of you will also share the happenings in your area.  (Please keep them to Nebraska events only though!)   Hopefully this season will not be one of busyness for you but will instead be one full of meaningful celebrations!

Categories: Annual Events, Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Metro, Panhandle, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Region or City, Sandhills | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buy Nebraska: Holen One and More

Did you realize that there is a whole network of products that are not only sold in Nebraska but are also made here?  And they even have specific stores across the state where you can buy local products?  Today is a great day to check out Grow Nebraska!

GROW Nebraska Kearney Retail Store








With locations open year round in Kearney, Grand Island and at the Omaha airport, you can check out exclusive Nebraska products.  Not near any of these locations?  You can also purchase online through Amazon and E-bay. At their  Buy Nebraska site you can actually view of the products for sale – they have a very user friendly search engine with categories such as art, gourmet food, books/cds and even gift baskets, there are many products to choose from.

I have to admit that I am a bit partial to one product.  My mom’s cousin and his wife have their own line of Holen One gourmet food products.

Image from their Holen One Farms website!

Pictured above is their Java Rub – our family’s choice for great grilled meat.  Besides making delicious marinades, they also sell custom made grills: the Bar-B-Cow and the Boar-B-Q.  You will have to check out those pictures on their site – they take grilling to a whole new level.

Whatever gifts you are looking for this Christmas season, this is a great year to buy locally made Nebraska products!



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Shop Local in Lincoln: Hallowed Candle

For the past several Black Fridays I have gone shopping.  That is, after I wake up at my normal 5 a.m. time – nothing earlier for me, thank you. And while the big box stores definitely advertise their deals, the local little guys also have specials going on during this big shopping day.

Hallow Candle is an adorable shop that is located at 33rd and “O” near downtown Lincoln.  This store happens to be next door to our chiropractor (Dr. Kyle at the Joint), so I often stop by throughout the year.  But especially on Black Friday they have fun deals – you can check out their specials for this year below.  (Did I mention that they also sell really cute jewelry at their store?  I love my Husker necklace!)  For more information, check out


Black Friday Nov. 29th 6am-11am
*Buy 3 Get 1 FREE (WHIFFs and Soaps & Candles)
*FREE Hallow Reusable Tote with every $100 purchase
*40% OFF Bath Salts
*50% OFF Artwork
*All Earrings Buy 2 Get 1 Half Off!

Small Business Saturday Nov. 30th
ALL Hallow Products 15% OFF ALL DAY LONG!
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Shop Local in Omaha: A Guest Blog Post by Oh My! Omaha

Since I value my sleep, I barely make it to any stores in Lincoln before Black Friday deals end.  So the thought of making in time to another city had never occurred to me.  Until now.  Maybe this will be my goal – after all these 2 local stores have specials all day – not just for the early birds!  Thanks, Kim, from  Oh My! Omaha for sharing these 2 places with us!
There are a lot of locally owned stores in Omaha, but two that are great for Christmas shoppers looking for unique gifts are The Afternoon and Le Wonderment. Luckily, they both have Black Friday deals for bargain hunters. Afternoon has two locations in Omaha: the original is at Westroads Mall, and the other is at Midtown Crossing. This place is great for gifts for everyone – the foodie, the creative, the traveler, the young, the funny – things you won’t find in a big box store. On Black Friday, save 25% all Christmas items (dept 18) at  the Westroads  location from 6 a.m. to noon and at the Midtown Crossing store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, you’ll get 25% all Melissa and Doug items at both stores.

Le Wonderment is in the Old Market (just north of 11th and Howard). This is what toys stores were meant to be: inviting toys you can play with before you buy, colorful, full of educational toys, and they carry the toy getting lots of buzz, GoldieBlox. The store’s Black Friday specials are 15 % off themed and custom holiday gift baskets, and you’ll get a $25 gift card with the purchase of MZ Handbags.  (They also feature gifts for dogs!)

Categories: Local Business, Metro, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shop Local in Lincoln: Where to Start

If you are wanting to shop local in Lincoln, picking where to start can be a challenge.  I know that there are many small stores in Lincoln that I do not even realize that they exist.  I guess I tend to go to familiar places.  If you are like this, here are some links to let you know about some of the great local places that are here in Nebraska’s capital city.  And if you miss any of the deals today, many places are offering special deals for “Small Business Saturday” – tomorrow is another great day to support area businesses!

Downtown Lincoln shopping

Shop This site also includes some information about some special Black Friday deals such as this one …





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Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1863


In the middle of a War caused by internal conflict, rather than by external force.  A time of uncertainty in our nation.  Certainly not a time which naturally induced gratefulness.  Yet our President felt that even in such turbulence, time needed to be set apart for being thankful.  Thus Thanksgiving Day began in the most unsettled of times.  Hoping that your day today is filled with recounted blessings!

(The below speech was copied verbatim from

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

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Reading About Thanksgiving for Families

I do have a collection of  books about Thanksgiving that we annually read, and they range from serious to fun.  Thankfully our local library also has a wonderful collection of Thanksgiving books, so that I can avoid adding onto our house because of the need for more book shelves. 🙂  So, here are some favorites of ours that we own and borrow.  (Note: all book covers are used from Amazon pictures!)

When her family is going through a hard time, Mary struggles to be grateful.  By hearing about the sacrifices of the early settlers, she is inspired to be thankful for all that she does have.

This story talks about the real heroes of the first Thanksgiving: the Native Americans who shared what they had with the desperate Pilgrims.

This book is one we have enjoyed in the past: a fun way of presenting a familiar story.

Beautifully illustrated thankful reflections!

The almost unknown woman (Sarah Hale) whose campaign led to a day set aside for giving thanks!

A family’s annual tradition is in jeopardy due to the weather!

I first found these other titles when I was a classroom teacher.  They are just fun!

For all animal fans!

An unexpected twist to Thanksgiving Day!

I almost have this one memorized.  Again – an unexpected ending

And for families …

This beautiful book is intended to be a family keepsake with space for families to write annual reflections.  (Alas, I have not kept on mine – maybe this year? )   The story of the original Thanksgiving is included, as well as a free audio cd full of Thanksgiving music.

Categories: Annual Events, Recommended Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Family Thanksgiving Celebrations (in Nebraska)

Many schools across Nebraska are closed today.  I have to say the same is true of ours – I gave my kids their assignments for the week early, so that we could have today off.  That being said, I am still planning on doing some fun activities that will help us to acknowledge the importance of tomorrow.  Some are meaningful – a few are fun.  But I am hoping that all that will help us to stay in the spirit of gratitude.

As with many experiences in our house, music and books are definitely involved.  I posted my personal Thanksgiving playlist yesterday on my other blog. And later today, I will post an entry just about the books that we read almost every year to celebrate this special holiday of gratefulness.

At first I thought about putting a bunch of links of different Thanksgiving activities.  But in this world of Pinterest, that search can actually be overwhelming.  Which provides too many options for one family to do in a day or maybe even in a dozen Thanksgivings.  So, instead I am posting some of my favorite activities that we have actually done – providing both simple suggestions and ways to “take it up a notch!” (Thanks, Emerill, for that great catch phrase!)


Simple: Scholastic has a link to an online Plymouth Plantation field trip.  These excellent re-enactments would provide your family with background to the true first Thanksgiving.  Easy to watch and quite educational!

Take it up a notch …:

My dear friend, Jami, is the queen of making celebrations more meaningful.  I really appreciate her intentional way of living.  She shared a great idea that she had found where you have your kids actually walk through the first Thanksgiving that she found at No Time for Flashcards.  You can have your kids learn while moving around the room.  Another idea: Jami actually used objects to help with re-enacting the story instead of just using printed pieces of paper.  Below there is a combined list of items that were used to make this interactive.


Simple …

Many years ago, my Mom got us the great “Little People “Thanksgiving Celebration” set.  I love getting it down every year and enjoy  hearing the kids act out the first Thanksgiving.  (It appears to me that they updated the set to make it a bit more multicultural – I like our original one a bit better!)  I put this out and imaginations take over.

Take it up a notch …

Using the concept of walking through history above, hide Thanksgiving symbols and have your kids go on a scavenger hunt, taking the time afterwards to talk about what each symbol means.  (Evidently Little People used to sell a “Mayflower” ship.  We just used our “Little People Pirate Ship” and covered up that flag with more of a Pilgrim one!) Here are a dozen suggested items to get you started (the italicized ones are from the “Little People Thanksgiving set). Note: these items could also used as a part of the history walk through from up above.

  1. The Pilgrim and Native Americans (both boys and girls): men and women needed to work together to survive; the Pilgrims needed the help from the Native Americans)
  2. The pumpkin (to symbolize the planting of new foods)
  3. The turkey (reminder that they hunted to get their food)
  4. Benches: reminder that life was not comfortable for them
  5. A ship (actual play one or printed picture) – a reminder of their long journey
  6. Rock (to represent Plymouth Rock and their mark on the New World)
  7. A gavel or mallet to symbolize the Mayflower Compact – that they established laws right away
  8. Box of bandages or medicine: reminder that many were sick and did not survive
  9. A mitten or log: reminder of the rough weather that they had to endure – many were cold
  10. Five kernels of corn (the reminder that although their food was limited, they considered themselves to be blessed)
  11. A Bible (since they came for religious reasons)
  12. Cornucopia (symbolize the blessings they found)

If using items sound too complicated, you could simply print out and hide these meaningful Thanksgiving Scavenger hunt paper clues. (I think this is what we are going to do tonight for a family night!)



Keeping kids occupied: love the pages at Just Coloring Thanksgiving

Take it up a notch:

If your kids are bored with crayons and need a challenge, here are some great educational sheets for Preschoolers and for Early Elementary students.



If you are like my family, part of tomorrow will involve the television.  (I have one son who is a rather big NFL fan!)  So, rather than fighting it, watch with a bit of purpose.  We have enjoyed these printable Thanksgiving television bingo cards (options for both the Macy Day parade and football games).

Take it up a notch:

If you actually want your children to only eat potatoes and not become the couch variety, Spoonful has a collection of 24 great Thanksgiving Day games – some simple and some more complex.  I think we are going to try the Chopstick pass along using some of their items as well as candy corn.  After all, family togetherness is definitely a goal as well as gratitude!

Odyssey Thankful


P.S. I can’t resist one link: Having a Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner.  I have not tried any of these ideas, but they may very well make my list!  Fun ideas for not forgetting the younger ones!

One last annual tradition: we usually try to watch a “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”  Today I finally decided that I am going to add the DVD to our collection, as opposed to scrambling to find it every year! Now  if only, I could get away with serving popcorn and toast for a meal or two …

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Skipping Thanksgiving?

Several years ago, John Grisham wrote a book entitled, Skipping Christmas about a couple who decides to take a vacation instead of going about their typical Christmas events.  Of course life never goes as planned, and the results are different than they anticipated.  (A fun read!)

Anyway, I think our culture every year seems to be pushing toward the eradication of another long honored holiday.  Black Friday seems to be the focus for many people these days, and Thanksgiving has simply turned into “Turkey Day.”  I think that is rather sad.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love a good deal.  Our family of six would not survive financially without coupons and specials and bargains.  And I even plan on blogging about several places where you can “shop local” and still get lots great deals.  Thanks to wonders of computer technology, these entries will even post VERY early on Friday morning in case you like shopping in the middle of the night.  (I will be sleeping during that time!)   I might go shopping on Friday, but I like to go around 6 in the morning.  Most of the great deals are still happening, and I am less crabby if I get sleep.  I personally am rather sad about the fact that stores and restaurants are even open on Thursday.  Why can’t the “regular” world shut down for the day?  That being said …

Funny Christmas Season Ecard: Just thought I'd mimic retailers by wishing you a Merry Christmas before Thanksgiving.

I want to annually enjoy the 4th Thursday of November – I do not want to bulldoze Thanksgiving aside.  So, for today and tomorrow, I am taking a break from my regular blog posts.  Instead I will be writing about what we are doing to celebrate Thanksgiving at our house.  Then tomorrow I will post about the true meaning of this important holiday (hint: it has nothing to do with shopping).  Thanksgiving is a day I definitely do not want to skip!



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A to Z about Nebraska Native Americans

As a part of our studies on Native Americans, we have been reading through this paperback book.  This inexpensive paperback is FULL of well-researched information about the indigenous people of  Nebraska.  I feel like I had a decent background of information from my own schooling, but I have learned a lot through our focus on this topic.

Without giving away any of her information, here is a topical list of just one item from each letter that her book includes.  (The “a” page alone has ten short paragraphs on people, places or items that affected Nebraska Native Americans).  The items that comprise my list are ones that either I was formerly unfamiliar with or where she definitively expanded my knowledge.

  1. Adze
  2. Buckskin (how it was made)
  3. Contact Period
  4. Dramatic Hair
  5. Effigy
  6. Fetish
  7. Gorgets
  8. Horse Creek Treaty
  9. Ioway
  10. Judicial Termination
  11. Killed Pottery
  12. “Lost the Corn”
  13. Massacre Canyon
  14. Name changes
  15. Oil from the bear
  16. Papoose (true definition and use)
  17. Quirt
  18. Rawhide (true definition and use)
  19. Shun-ka wakan
  20. Thunderbird
  21. Upper Republican Culture
  22. Vesperic Indians
  23. Winnebago Way
  24. Xenophobic
  25. Y (Thought provoking questions)
  26. Zounds

So there you have the list.  To find out more, I would definitely recommend getting a hold of this book.  Plus, several activities and fun reproducible worksheets are included in the back – a definite bonus!



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