Monthly Archives: February 2014

Birthday Parties Across Nebraska

Yesterday I talked about how we chose to have our kids’ birthday parties this year be a large group one.  Because of the simplicity of planning and going to a location, this one was less stressful and possibly more memorable.  Although I do enjoy coming up with fun food, games and activities, at the same time, this can be rather stressful for moms.  In fact, I think Pinterest has not done moms any favors overall for party planning.

2010 Brown Bomber Cupcake.jpg

Pretty sure my cupcakes have never looked like this …

While searching on the site for recent ideas for my daughter’s Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party, I found some cute and reasonable ideas.  Then I discovered the one page where the parent had hired a custom calligrapher to fashion the invitations.  She stated the expense was worth it – mainly I wished that I had been the one hired for such a time consuming job.  Even at minimum wage, I bet a pretty penny was paid.

For me, I want my kids to be celebrated, yet I do not want them to feel entitled to get every little whim and wish.  Feeling special is important but being completely catered to is another story.  I do want them to know their value in our family, yet I do not want them to think the world revolves around them.


This cake is more what I manage to make usually, although whatever I was going for did not exactly work.  Thankfully, it tasted yummier than it looked.  My sister is 3 years and 3 days younger than me.  We have always celebrated our birthdays together – that is special to me now!

For many years, I was involved with a MOPS: Mothers of preschoolers group.  (In fact, tonight my  husband and I went to their couple’s soup supper – so great to have an evening with friends!)  Anyway two of the many meetings I attended involved planning memorable birthday parties for your kids.   The ideas presented were ones that moms can actually do in a reasonable amount of time and without a huge budget.

I had the opportunity last year to make the handout that was given to the moms complete with party themes, games and even recipes.  Some of the ideas are more specific to the Lincoln area (including places to buy cupcakes), but some of the suggestions could be used by parents anywhere.  I received permission from the contributors to post the document on this blog.  By the way, since the document is a year old, some of the phone numbers or prices could have changed.

Party Central on Odyssey Through Nebraska

(Hopefully the link will work.  I can be technologically challenged.  The original document had much cuter font, but I was not sure how to exactly translate it over from Word to Google Docs in the same format).

Anyway, two last fun traditions directly from my house.

The first one was copied from my friend, Jen.  When my birthday child wakes up in the morning, they will see their age counted out in crepe paper strips on the door.  In other words, my son is just about to have nine strips hanging from his doorframe next month.  Other than the fact that you have to buy inexpensive tissue paper and remember where the tape is (and possibly to follow up every time), this is rather easy.  My kids love it and now remind us every time to hang them up.   I try to do this while they are sleeping, but I think it may start being challenging when they can stay up longer than me!

My husband started the next tradition because for many years he has left the house for work rather early.  So, he would leave the birthday child a message on the window.  With dry erase markers, he would manage to get their name and a message.  Once I bought him window markers, his true artist came forth.  His messages have now turned into masterpieces.

Hopefully this post has encouraged you with some fresh ideas on planning your child’s birthday events. The important thing to remember is that effort is everything.  As long as remembrance is the focus, the day will be a celebration!  Happy birthday!

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Thursday Theater: “Jackie & Me” starting tomorrow at the Rose

Recently for a family movie night, we enjoyed watching 42.  Seeing Jackie Robinson’s life be played out on screen helped all of us to begin to grasp the real struggles that this man had throughout his storied baseball career.

My son also happens to be a big fan of the children’s author, Dan Gutman. (In fact just today he was asking when his latest book was going to be ready to check out.) The play, Jackie & Me, based on Gutman’s book opens at the Rose Theater tomorrow night in Omaha.  When you combine Jackie Robinson and Gutman’s writing, a hit out of the ballpark is bound to happen.

Jackie 1

Here is the official description of the play from the Rose …

The Rose is very excited about our upcoming production of “Jackie & Me,” which runs Feb. 28 through Mar. 16. The show is based on the popular book by Dan Gutman, and while it is a story written for children, it deals with very grown-up topics. The play tells the story of Joey Stoshack, a baseball-obsessed boy who receives a school assignment to write a research paper for Black History Month. Joey possesses a special talent — he can travel back in time just by holding a vintage baseball card. Joey decides to go back to 1947 and meet the great Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in the major leagues. In the process, he learns first-hand the struggles the ballplayer encountered as he broke baseball’s color barrier and leaves with his view of history and definition of courage forever changed

Jackie 2

This is evidently a dialogue driven show.  Due to this and the fact that the play tackles some challenging issues, the show is recommended for kids age 6 and up.    Interested in attending?  Here are a few more things you need to know.

Show Specifics: Historical Drama • Best for families  with children ages   6 to 13.  The play lasts  75 minutes with no intermission.  Shows will be taking place the next three week-ends!

Tickets: $18 general admission, but discount ticket vouchers are  available at all area Hy-Vee stores  for $14 each.  Reservations are required.

Call  (402) 345-4849 or purchase online at

Jackie 3

All pictures  and facts about the show were provided to me by the Rose Theater.  Unfortunately due to timing, younger children and one child recovering from bronchitis (who would have been a bit disruptive with his cough), we did not get to attend the preview performance today.  But I was told by someone who did that the acting is superb, and the message is a meaningful one for elementary students.  Play ball!

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Playing Around at Mahoney State Park: The Indoor Activity Center

Our children have their birthdays in a span of less than a half year.  This year we decided not to have individual parties but instead to let each of our children bring a friend along to play at the Mahoney State Park Indoor Activity Center (Playground).

Play Center @ Mahoney 7

The highs and lows of our experience! 🙂

Name Mahoney State Park Activity Center: 28500 W. Park Hw Ashland; 402-944-2523; PARK PERMIT REQUIRED
Open hours Memorial Day-Labor Day: see hours below; other times: check with them
Cost $2 per person; Mon. & Fri. 4-8 pm; Thurs. & Sat. 11-8 Sunday 11-6; no Tu/W
What to Know Kids must remove shoes, so socks are required.  The room gets fairly warm during the winter –dress accordingly; possibly bring ear plugs – the room is loud
Recommended Ages Certain areas would work for littles but overall a tall structure

Play Center @ Mahoney 5

Having a ball!

The kids loved  the experience, but as for the adults, the room got a little loud.  Notice again the ear plug recommendation.  If I had to do it all over, I would try for a weekday time with the possibility of less people.  Of course, the activity center is not always open during winter weekdays.

Play Center @ Mahoney 1

Life in a bubble …

The interesting thing was that the kids got rather warm while playing despite the fact that it was freezing outside.  One of the kids knew this from a previous experience and brought along shorts.  The rest of the kids pushed up sleeves.  We had not intended to buy snacks, but suddenly popsicles seemed refreshing to the kids.

Play Center @ Mahoney 4 food

Other snack foods are also available.  Could be worth the price, especially if you wanted to stay and play the day away.

Play Center @ Mahoney 2

Netting a victory for fun!

This was a great way for the kids to burn off lots of energy.  Since the structure is so large and full of so many possibilities, the 5 year olds and 11 year old had equal opportunities to enjoy themselves.

Play Center @ Mahoney 3

Slip sliding away …

The favorite part of the day for my kids was getting to experience the place with their friends rather than just with each other (our normal protocol).  You can rent a party room area where you can serve even outside food.  That costs $60 for 2 hours.  We chose to feed the kids lunch in advance.  Our outing cost $20, plus $10 for the popsicles.  Since really this was the cost for 4 parties, I feel like that $7.50 per party is a pretty good deal.  We may combine parties again next year!

Play Center @ Mahoney 6

Time together was the highlight.  Fun to see all of the kids interacting with each other and not just with the friend that he/she specifically brought along.


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Wordless Wednesday: Where Were We (in Nebraska)?

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2-26-14  Where Were We 1

2-26-14  Where Were We 2

2-26-14  Where Were We 3

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Categories: Wordless Wednesdays: Where Were We in Nebraska? | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Medal Monday: Memorable Moments for Nebraska

First of all, congratulations to Shelby, Nebraska, native Curt Tomasevicz and the rest of the 4 man bobsled team who led the United States to a bronze medal on the last day of the Sochi Winter Olympics yesterday. Just in case you missed the historic moment, US Night Train Bobsled Highlights show the last two runs.  Want to read more about what the team was thinking during these Olympic moments?  This link takes you to an article about the race on the “Team USA” page.     Evidently, this was the final race for Tomasevicz.  We wish him well!

Photo taken from Team USA page.

To other momentous Nebraska news …  Yesterday, the Lincoln Journal Star had an article about the 37 Nebraska icons that make our state great.  I had written about a few of these already on my blog, and several more were already slated for future blog posts.  Surprisingly, while I had heard of many of the subjects, I was only familiar with about ten of the actual icons.  Do you recognize the items on the list?  I would love for you to comment below on how many objects you personally recognized.


Categories: Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, Panhandle, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Region or City, Sandhills | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Safety Saturday: Nomophobia and Dstrctd Drvng (Mlt Tsk)

Are you a nomophobic?  Read more to find out.

When I first was asked to preview the NET television show, “Dstrctd Drvng,” I cringed.  Although I do not text while driving, except occasionally at stop lights, I definitely do talk on my cell.  After all, I have justified, when else can a busy homeschooling mom of four find a moment where no one is interrupting?  But I am pretty certain that I have been denying the truth.  That talking while driving is distracting to me.

In fact, being on my cell did contribute to a minor accident I was involved.  I was on the phone at the time.  While I maybe could not have avoided rear ending the woman (after all, she did basically come to stop in the highway merging lane), my chances would have been better.  I was five months pregnant at the time with my other three precious kids in the back.  The other car held a mom with her kids.  The results could have been catastrophic if any more speed would have been involved.  You would think that would have been a wake-up call for me.  But it wasn’t.

Watching the television documentary definitely caused me to open my eyes.  Not even just about driving, but to the fact that when I try to multi-task, I am crowding my brain and causing difficulties in processing.  I may think I am getting more done, but I am simply dividing my productivity.  This will be a hard lesson.  Learning how to focus and be all there will be a challenge.

Basically , I need to work on a negative condition I have developed.  According to, nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.  My smart phone can lure me in – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – all at my finger tips.  Something to do to keep busy.  This device stops me from the two most important tasks:learning to be still and to enjoy those that are with me!  The ones that I can touch and converse with  and not just from a screen.

Dstrctd Drvng gives evidence that shows that driving while distracted is similar to driving drunk.  Although as my husband pointed out, if you decided to drive after having a few drinks, you are aware that you might need to concentrate more.  Those who are using cell phones really have no idea just how distracted that they are.  I know because I have been one of them who can suddenly not remember all the roads that led me to home because I was talking and not really paying attention.

Just the title of the show had convicted me enough to change part of my habits this week.  I made a point of not being on the cell with my kids in the car.  After all, they are often distracting enough.  But after watching the show, I am convinced that my phone belongs safely in my purse when I am in the car.  Close enough to reach in case of an emergency, yet far enough away to not be a temptation.  So, that is my new goal.  And I am going to try hard to be patient and let others call me back when they are not driving as well.  This habit might take me awhile to break, but I think the results with be worth it.  As was stated in the show, “the person sitting next to you is worth far more than a text.”

If you did not watch the show “Dstrctd Drvng” on Nebraska Public Television last night, you still have several more chances.

Dstrctd Drvng broadcast schedule

NET1 Friday Feb. 21, 7 p.m. CT

NET1 Sunday, Feb. 23, 10 p.m. CT

NET2 World Saturday, Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m. CT

NET2 World Sunday, Feb. 23, 5 p.m. CT

NET2 World Tuesday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. CT

You can also watch the show online: Dstrctd Drvng  I know that I will be encouraging my family and friends to make watching this a priority.  This show helped me to face the reality that I need to change a bad habit before tragedy results!

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Friday Flashback: Displaying Nebraskans in World War Two: Exhibit Closing Soon at the Nebraska History Museum

Writing about Nebraska’s part in World War 2 has been a part of upcoming blog post plans.  But I had to accelerate the timing due to the fact that I found out the Nebraska History Museum is closing this formerly permanent exhibit.

photo of World War II living room exhibit

Photo taken directly from Nebraska History site

Now they have their reasons, and they are pretty good ones.  Due to increased funding, they are doing some restructuring. Here is the official announcement that I received in an e-mail from the Nebraska State Historical Society.  (No, I did not receive special notice – I am simply a part of their e-mail list! 🙂

“What Did You Do in the War? Nebraska in World War II” will close to the public on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Artifacts in the Nebraska History Museum exhibit in Lincoln will be stored away and exhibit components disassembled as the museum prepares for a major infrastructure renovation funded by the Nebraska Legislature. The museum at 131 Centennial Mall North ( 15th & P Streets) in Lincoln is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1:00-4:30 p.m.  Closed state holidays. Admission is free.

 A variety of resources about Nebraska in World War II is available on the Nebraska State Historical Society website, including articles from Nebraska History Magazine, veterans’ stories, photographs, a newspaper aimed at 4th-graders, a teacher’s guide, and more. Visit and type World War II into the search box.  

 For more information call 402-471-4782 or visit

We actually used many of the Nebraska State Historical Society’s resources to have our own “Living out World War 2 in Nebraska” day last spring.  In an upcoming post, I will share what our family did to learn more about those who lived here during the mid-century war.  For now, I simply wanted to encourage you to check out this great World War 2 exhibit.  This area has been a favorite one for my kids to explore every time we visit.   Hopefully we will make it back one last time before the display is gone.

Categories: Family Outings, Flashback Fridays, Lincoln, Metro, Military and Memorials, Nebraska History, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Almost Like Bobsledding in Nebraska?: The Mahoney State Park Toboggan Run

Okay, so we still have Olympic fever around here.  At least the kids and I do – I think my patient husband has put up with more slaloms, spins and ski splits than he would like. 🙂  I think I enjoy watching almost all of the sports, but there are many that I would never want to actually attempt.  But I would love to take my kids for bobsled ride – that is the one Olympic sport, possibly apart from curling, that seems a bit more possible, at least on a smaller scale.  But I am pretty sure that no one would entrust their thousands of dollars machines to us.  So, I settled for the next best thing: tobogganing!

Mahoney Toboggan 1

Well, maybe tobogganing is a bit of an exaggeration since we used sleds, but still such a fun experience.  Having gone official toboggan runs complete with tow ropes up in Minnesota as a college student, I much prefer this way of just walking up.

Mahoney Toboggan 2

The hills were just steep enough to get you out of breath without being so daunting that you are unable to make it to the top without falling a half-dozen times.    The paths were starting to show a bit of brown grass, but thankfully the runs had enough snow where you did not get stuck.

Mahoney Toboggan 3

I captured some pictures of the adventurers, then safely stowed my camera away, so that I could join in the fun.  While we did some other fun activities that day, this was definitely my favorite event.  I think my husband and the kids would agree.  We will definitely be returning – a fun AND free event – a year-round park permit is the only real expense.  And a sled, but those can be used other places too!

Since Mahoney State Park is located halfway between Lincoln and Omaha, they are an ideal location.  I could not find the official hours of the toboggan runs, but I do know that they do have outdoor lights.  I would imagine that they are open a few hours into the nighttime hours. They also have a snow machine that they can operate, but your best bet is going a day or two after a big snow.  We may still have a few of those left since February still seems to be the middle of winter in Nebraska.  Happy sledding!

P.S. Mahoney just happens to have an ice skating rink – $2 to get into the activity center and $3 more for skate rental.  Not a bad deal!

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Wordless Wednesday: Where Were We (in Nebraska)?

2-19-14 Where Were We

2-19-14 Where Were We 2

2-19-14 Where Were We 3

2-19-14 Where Were We 4

Categories: Photography, Wordless Wednesdays: Where Were We in Nebraska? | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday’s Town: Holdrege is “Our Town” This Week

Watching the “Our Town” segments on KOLN/KGIN 10/11 is always enjoyable for me.  I love learning about small towns across Nebraska whose names I have read on the map but have possibly not veered off the main highways to go and see.  Hearing that this week’s town is “Holdrege” intrigued me because my Grandma grew up in that area.  Then when I heard their first Holdrege location, I was even more interested.


Picture taken from their website!

While I have to admit that I have not actually been to the Nebraska Prairie Museum, I have personally seen one of their artifacts.  My Great-Grandma’s necktie quilt is often on display in this Phelps County Museum.  I wrote about our family’s adventure in visiting the quilt in Washington D.C. back in November.  I definitely hope to make it out this central Nebraska museum at some point to see the quilt at home.

All in all, the news station will feature ten different stories on Holdrege throughout the week on many of the Nebraska CBS stations.  If you miss any of the stories, you can visit their website to learn more about Our Town: Holdrege, Nebraska.  This week-end this will show all of the feature stories in a 30 minute show.  Lance Schwartz is the video journalist who coordinates the features, and he does a great job of highlighting the great towns across Nebraska.

P.S. My Mom’s cousin just happens to be married to the current mayor of Holdrege – was really fun to see him interviewed on the news.  Not sure if you can find his part online though …

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