How to Get Ready for Prom

How to Get Ready for Prom

I remember it like it was yesterday: the curled pigtails, the little white dress, the big smile, the small basket of flowers. Our daughter looked like a princess walking down the aisle with the other flower girl and ring bearer. I remember saying to my husband, “Before we know it, she will be going to her high school prom.”

Even though she’ll always be my little girl, that time has come, and she is looking forward to one of the highlights of her junior year—prom.

A Prom Mom’s Prep List

I’m very well-versed in this prom stuff. This will be the twentieth prom my husband and I will attend together—three as high school sweethearts and seventeen as prom/class sponsors. But it’s my first year as a “prom mom,” and I am learning that a lot goes into preparing for the day and that it can be an expensive night.

In the midst of all of the craziness that goes into the night, I want to make sure we help make our daughter’s first prom a great high school experience. With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Lesson 1: Start preparing early.

I didn’t want our daughter to procrastinate on finding a dress. We started shopping the summer before prom because there was an off-season dress sale. We had no intention of buying a dress that day. My daughter wanted to peruse and find a style she liked. Luckily, she found something she liked and didn’t feel rushed to make a decision. Often when we rush, we end up spending more money.

Along with buying and altering the dress early, I encouraged our daughter to schedule her nail and hair appointments ahead of time to help eliminate unnecessary anxiety.

Lesson 2: Create a budget that works for your family and communicate this budget with your teenager.

We told our daughter she has a certain amount of dollars allocated to prom. We were willing to pay for the dress, shoes, hair stylist and corsage. She will be responsible for all other expenses. Communicating the budget to our daughter has been an integral part of this experience. By giving her a spending limit, she was conscientious about staying under budget.

A helpful tip: buy your prom dress in the off-season to save money.

Lesson 3: Don’t forget the details.

Prom is right around the corner, and we’re starting to have conversations about our expectations for the evening. We’ll be setting a curfew and discussing what it means to make wise choices. I want her to know the importance of making wise choices to ensure she has a memorable yet safe experience.

Also, many adults will have a part in making this day a memorable experience, and I’m encouraging our daughter to be diligent in thanking them.

My Little Girl

Life moves pretty fast. After our daughter’s hair and makeup are done, and she puts on her navy dress, she’ll be ready to dance the evening away. I’ll probably smile and envision my little princess with her curly pigtails once again.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

Five Tips for a Successful Snow Day

Five Tips for a Successful Snow Day

Snow days — I love them and I hate them — despite the sheer joy at hearing the early morning news about a snow day. According to our three kids, I was “that” mom today. You know “that” mom who makes all of her children do their chores. “That” mom who makes her children do their homework. “That” mom who is crabby all day long.

Snow Day Expectations

My kids and I had different expectations of what our snow day should look like. Each of them had their day planned out from playing video games to staying curled up in blankets to watching movies. My expectations were a little different.

According to my children, I was the ONLY mom in the entire state requiring kids to do chores and homework all day long on a snow day. One would have thought I asked all three kids to write a dissertation. For about two hours “that” mom surfaced and so did frustration, arguing, tears and disappointment.

In the midst of the two hours here are just a few of our interactions:

  • Our oldest: “Mom, I am tired of doing laundry! That is all I have done since your surgery.”
  • Middle daughter: “Mom, you have unrealistic expectations. I don’t understand what I even have to do.”
  • Our youngest: “I hate homework. Why are you making me complete the entire week of assignments? I still have two days before my spelling test.”
  • Our oldest daughter: “Please everyone just quit arguing.”

Facing My Disappointment

Knowing how busy the rest of our week was going to be due to schedule changes, I knew we finally had a day to get ahead on chores and homework. My kids couldn’t see my vision for the day and I made it known that I was disappointed. I was not only disappointed in how we were treating each other, but also that my kids were not helping out around the house.

I felt guilty that I did not extend any grace to my kids. I was disappointed in myself for not recognizing their need to just have a lazy day. Our kids are pushed to do so much during the school day, especially our teenagers who are feeling the pressure to keep good grades and be involved in organizations. Today, what I failed to see is that all three kids are stressed either with their schedules and homework. They just wanted a day to relax. If adults need a break sometimes, kids definitely need one too.

Tips for Surviving A Snow Day

After everyone calmed down and completed their homework, everyone was able to enjoy watching movies for playing videos games. However, I decided to write down a few tips in the hopes that the next snow day does not escalate to tears and unrealistic expectations.

  • Give up on productivity: Our kids do need some down time, especially our son who just loves being home. He finds his peace and needs his quiet time at home.
  • Let the kids be kids: I need to encourage our kids to be more childlike, even our teenagers, particularly on snow days.
  • Extend some grace: I definitely can do better on this, knowing our kids have had virtually every chore added to their lists, as I am recovering from a surgery. I just needed to breathe and extend some grace.
  • Turn the technology off
  • Set better expectations: If anything does need to be accomplished I will set better expectations. For example as a family we will sort, wash and fold three loads of laundry.

A snow day can throw a wrench into any schedule. With the help of the tips above, hopefully the next snow day can be a little more relaxing and childlike before “that” mom comes out.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

How Small Changes Make a Big Difference

How Small Changes Make a Big Difference

We have a wall hanging that says “And I think to myself what a wonderful world.” My plan is to hang up pictures representing all of our family adventures and vacations around this sign. I think it’s the perfect focal point to display the wonderful places we have traveled.

However, I’ve been too busy to hang the rest of the pictures up, and often times when I’m home, the last thing I want to do is spend my time hanging pictures. Read More

4 Ways to Simplify the Holiday Season

4 Ways to Simplify the Holiday Season

I vividly remember how special my parents made the Christmas season, especially Christmas Eve. We had supper, went to midnight mass and then around 1:30 in the morning, we opened presents. Somehow mom managed to keep all the gifts hidden, and while we opened presents she had a story for each one. One year, she even managed to convince my brother and I that we got a karaoke machine. Read More

Grieving for My Mom

Grieving for My Mom

The emotions are still fresh. One day I am heartbroken. One day I am relieved. One day I am at peace. One day I am full of joy. My heart still aches for my dad, my husband, my kids, my grandparents, my siblings; actually, my heart aches for all of my family and mom’s close friends. Read More

How Can You Stop Frustration and Share Joy?

How Can You Stop Frustration and Share Joy?

I’m typically seen as a positive person. My life word is ‘joy’ for a reason. I have a quote hanging in my classroom, “Attack the day with kindness.” I actually share this mantra each day with my own kids before they head off to school. Yet, even though my mission is to share joy, there are days where this mission seems worlds away.

Frustration Wins the Day

For example, last week frustration, anger and resentment got the best of me. I was mentally exhausted from problem-solving. I was annoyed by the fact my children were being lazy. I was frustrated that my husband was still in an arm sling and angry that I couldn’t call my mom just to talk to her. Frustration, anger and resentment weaved into my mind, my heart, every single bone. Yes…I was completely frustrated…everyone could see it on my face. I am pretty sure I was called crabby or worse more times than I would have liked in a 24-hour span.

All of these emotions had me so wrapped up in what I couldn’t control that it affected my personality and behaviors. As I let anger weave its way into my mind, I started to doubt my purpose. Frustration dominated my conversations and won the day. I gave in to all of the negativity and I let those emotions steal my joy.

Learning to Slow Down

When I reflect on this day I realize that I was thinking about my to-do list and focusing on future tasks. The frustration built up and, really, all I needed to do was step away. This is my goal for the year — to be still.

But how can we remember to “be still” when frustration starts to creep in? Here are a few steps we can all take to slow down:

● Focus on breathing. I need to take one to two minutes, close my eyes and breathe.

● Appreciate the positives.

● Focus on what I can accomplish at this moment.

Here are some ways we can stop frustration, resentment and irritation from controlling our thoughts, minds and hearts:

● Share joy.

● Extend grace to others and to myself.

● Be curious and keep absorbing new ideas.

● Be thankful.

● Find a balance between my career, my home and my schedule.

Frustration doesn’t have to control my days. There will be frustrating days and days I’ll be irritated; however, realizing how incredibly blessed I am, sharing the joy with others, extending grace each day and pausing will ultimately overshadow those frustrations.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

The Importance of Student Organizations

The Importance of Student Organizations

The first day of school is one of my favorite days of the year. The excitement of back-to-school photos, seeing students walk into our building for the new school year and listening to their favorite summer memories fills my heart with joy.

Our principal, who happens to be my husband, planned the best back-to-school day ever with both the staff and students — a parade down Main Street. Even though the parade was the highlight of the day, the build-up to the parade stuck with me. The parade and rest of the back-to-school activities centered on a theme — nobody watches the parade.

Join the Parade

This idea, inspired by Bob Goff and Donald Miller in “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years,” encourages people to participate. Nobody can watch the parade. They can only be in the parade.

I keep thinking why this theme and why this year? Why would I encourage my own children and students to join the parade and participate in one or more student organizations? First, as a parent, I want our children to be a part of something bigger and make a difference. As a teacher, I want children to develop and enhance their skills as an extension of the classroom.

Being part of a student organization hugely impacts a student’s educational experience. My husband and I have already noticed the positive impact they have had on our daughter during her junior year. Because of this, we’re encouraging our two younger children to be involved in groups beyond the regular school day, too. But what are our children getting from joining the parade?

Develop Soft Skills

The essential soft skills, also known as people skills, teach students how to work with others, communicate with others and enhance critical thinking skills. Students not only enhance these soft skills in student organizations, they also learn to interact with small and large groups and develop time management and organizational skills.

Explore Interests

Student organizations give our children the opportunity to explore interests and expose them to other learning opportunities. For example, our oldest daughter has no interest in accounting or business law. Yet, she is part of a business organization which allows her to understand the importance of the business world.

Develop Leadership Skills

Student organizations encourage leadership. We are all leaders, but whether we choose to be a positive one or a negative one is up to us. Through these groups, students can learn to develop characteristics that we admire in effective leaders: trailblazer, honest, inspirational, competent and fearless.

Unfold a Purpose

Student organizations provide a multitude of opportunities to serve others. Through serving others, our children learn to be part of something bigger than themselves. They see firsthand the reward of giving their time and talents to others. As parents, we get to see our children take pride in their work, learn to love the process and grow a thankful heart.

Student organizations are a great way to develop all these skills and so much more! Most importantly, our children will be joining the parade, not watching.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

The Times They Are A Changin’: Parenting in My Forties

The Times They Are A Changin’: Parenting in My Forties

For many of our family birthdays, they are just another normal day, coming and going each year. However, as my birthday gets closer, I’m starting to reflect and reminisce about my life through these decades. From entering my twenties to passing through the thirties, I’m now beginning a new decade. Not just any decade, the “over the hill” decade—my forties. Yet, I’m not dreading it. I welcome it. Read More

Teaching My Family About Healthy Living

Teaching My Family About Healthy Living

Half marathons. Triathlons. Road races. Fitness classes. Personal training. No sugar challenges. I think you can see a pattern here. For a majority of my life, I have valued exercise because I liked the discipline. I liked achieving goals. I liked the stress relief. Read More

The Dreaded Chores

The Dreaded Chores

Chores. One of the most dreaded words around our house. Let it be known, I have already won the “Worst Mom” of the year award. According to our children, I am the only mom who assigns these tasks; however, I find this statement hard to believe. Despite their protests, I firmly believe there is a place for a daily chore list—a frame of mind that developed during my own childhood. Read More

Small Town, Big Heart

Small Town, Big Heart

“Small town, big heart”—the sign said it all. The girl in the stands was holding it with pride at the last basketball game. I saw the sign, and I smiled. This small town did have an extremely big heart, and it holds a special place in mine. Read More

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