Becoming a Soccer Mom

Becoming a Soccer Mom

I never thought I would be a soccer mom. Growing up I hated the sport. I tried it once and it wasn’t for me. But in August of 2017, I officially became a soccer mom and joined in on all the endless practices, games, and tournaments of the soccer mom world. Gone were the carefree weekends of sleeping in, making plans, and traveling. Without realizing, we’ve slowly began to live and breathe soccer, especially now. Recently, Cohen decided to try spirit soccer instead of recreational soccer through the YMCA.

Cohen felt that he was ready for a more competitive league. And boy, if we didn’t live and breathe soccer before we do now. As a soccer mom, you sign them up, take them to practice, bring orange slices, and cheer them on at games. That’s it, right? If the job was that easy, anyone would do it. Being a soccer mom in today’s world is a lot of work.

Kids Sports Aren’t How They Used to Be

Before the league even started, there was the expensive uniform I needed to buy. The uniforms had to be a certain kind, from a certain vender, and hundreds of dollars later Cohen received a pair of black shorts, black socks, and two jerseys that we could have bought a lot cheaper at Wal-Mart.

Practice started two weeks before the first game. Cohen’s team was made up of 8 and 9-year old’s, whom he’d never met. But he was excited and happy to play for the Redhawks. There he was two days a week practicing a sport that he loved, and it showed during the games.

Increasing the Intensity of Parents

The games started and you could instantly tell which of the boys really wanted to play and which boys played because it was their parents dream. The first game Cohen’s team got crushed. The boys had little chemistry and you could tell it was their first game that they have ever played together. But Cohen continued to have a smile on his face and you could tell he loved the game. The second game showed promise and the team was building momentum—that game ended in a tie. Finally, by the third game the team started to click. But these spirit games had a different feel. They were intense, not only from the coaching and players, but from the parents as well.

Parents of athletes can be wildly passionate about their children’s performance on the field, particularly as it relates to how much field/play time they get. Like any sport, people get emotionally charged during a soccer game. Parents, especially dads, sometimes feel they know more than the referee and/or coach. It gets frustrating watching your child play with a hollering dad sitting in the grass on the sidelines. You have the coach giving instruction on one end and the dad giving opposite instruction on the other. I will never claim to be knowledgeable in all the various aspects of this sport, and I do sometimes tell my son to be more aggressive, but as far as play calls I leave that to the coach and not these know-it-all dads.

Passion & Sportsmanship Go Hand-in-Hand

I personally think it’s admirable to be passionate about something. However, there is a distinct difference in being passionate and being unsportsmanlike. I constantly hear parents talking about how their child was treated unfairly on the field, demanding rematches and more field time, or for another child to be benched because they are not as good as this parent’s child. You wouldn’t believe the amount of drama that goes on both on and off the field. It’s enough to create a Soccer Mom-themed Bravo reality show. I can’t imagine how club soccer or any higher level of soccer will be. It’s quite a jungle out there already!

Pressures from the coach and the expectations of an unreasonably high level of commitment from me, Cohen, and my entire family, but also the pressures from the daily academic stresses of juggling practices and studies. Beyond all this pressure, there is the ultimate demand of playing the perfect game. Cohen has yet to play the perfect game, which unless he’s a U.S. Olympian, he won’t. And that’s okay—let’s remember he’s eight! But seeing Cohen’s determination at practice and during the games makes it all worth it. I know my son won’t be the next David Beckham but as long as he’s having fun, I’ll continue with this new title of soccer mom, which I am proud to have.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

Succulents Suck

Succulents Suck

This summer, we had a granddaughter working at one of those pop-up green houses. Her location was near one of the Super Savers in town.

I bought a flat of marigolds and planted them early. She was a great help in picking out the color and size of the plants. Not to brag, but I thought I did a pretty good job of planting the flowers. They began to grow and provide some colorful blooms. Then the monsoon rains fell, and fell, and continued to fall. The marigolds were planted in a small trench around our curved backyard patio.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The flowers did not come with life jackets or scuba gear, so they drowned in the standing water. I asked my granddaughter what I should do. She assured me the plants would probably not make it, but it would be wise to be patient and wait until the rain stopped and the sun dried things off. As you recall, the rain continued to fall and the plants were a total loss. She suggested I buy more plants and start over in a couple of weeks.

That’s what I did. I followed my granddaughter’s instructions and I bought another flat of marigolds to start the process over. I wanted to give her a little more business, so I bought some succulents. I had some in past years, but it had been a while. I thought it was time to grow some again. My granddaughter encouraged this purchase, probably because she knew they wouldn’t be washed out by the rain.

Succulents Sucking the Fun from Gardening

She helped me pick out a variety of succulents, all of which looked rather exotic. I purchased six—five of them would go into a large container and the sixth to be planted in an individual pot. After more purchases, I planted everything and was pleased with the process and results.

About a month later, my granddaughter showed up at our house. I’ve seen her several times within the month, but our visits are not as frequent as when she was young. I miss conversations with each of the grandkids. However, their lives have gotten busy and I understand—plus, they have to make money for college! When she came into our house, she was looking around the kitchen and living room for a small picture frame she wanted to borrow. She noticed the succulents in the big container and said, “Grandma, don’t you ever water these?” I responded with a hem hawing, “yes?” Then she told me they were too dry and would die. I thanked her for her advice. She smiled at me, found the picture frame and gave me a hug.

A month later, my granddaughter came to our house to take part in a family meal and looked at the succulents. “Grandma, you are over watering the plants. They will die.” Of course, I wanted to tell her to make up her mind, but I did not. She was right. Some of the leaves were dropping off and the plants were starting to look pathetic. She suggested the ice cube method of watering plants. Who would have thought you could put an ice cube in the pot and that would be enough water to feed it.

It’s All a Balancing Act

I realized then there was a lesson to be learned—there needed to be a balance in watering the succulents. Likewise, there needs to be a balance in being a grandma of growing grandkids. If I pay too much attention to them, (i.e., texts, calls, concern because I don’t see them enough), they feel smothered. The other extreme is not paying any attention to them, never texting or writing to them and they will forget me. OK, they won’t forget me, but you get the picture.

Whether watering the succulents or being a loving, nurturing grandma, finding the right balance is the key to a healthy relationship. The challenge is finding a balance in a constantly changing world. I’m up for that challenge. As we age we can either watch the world in our rear view mirrors, or through our windshield as new things come at us. The art of grandparenting, if done right, pays us huge dividends

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

Hugh Jackman, #WearSunscreen & Your Family: What Do You Need to Know?

Hugh Jackman, #WearSunscreen & Your Family: What Do You Need to Know?

My husband and I have four children, all ages six and younger (that’s what happens when you go to medical school). Right now, their favorite movie is “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman. He is famous in the entertainment industry for his singing, dancing and acting abilities, along with his devilishly handsome good looks.

However, he’s also famous in the dermatology world as he has publicly battled basal cell carcinoma not once, but five times in the past including a recurrent basal cell carcinoma on his nose. Hugh posted pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #wearsunscreen to help raise public awareness and encourage good sun protection behavior.

Most Common Type of Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. In fact, it’s the most common cancer overall. It develops after repeated sun damage over time. You might notice it as a pink scaly patch. Or, it might be a raised pearly bump, almost pimple-like that never seems to go away. Sometimes basal cell carcinoma will bleed after minor trauma or for no reason at all.

Second Most Common Skin Cancer

Are there other types of skin cancer? You bet! The second most common form of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer may appear as a growing lump, often with a rough surface. But, it also could be a flat, reddish patch that grows slowly and may be tender. Sometimes these grow quickly on the skin in a volcano-like fashion. Squamous cell carcinoma can be serious in some cases and spread beyond the skin to lymph nodes if not treated properly or within a reasonable amount of time.

Most Well-Known Skin Cancer

Finally, the skin cancer with which most people are familiar, is melanoma. Melanoma can be a life-threatening skin cancer, especially if not caught early. The warning signs for melanoma are summed up in the “ABCDE” algorithm.

  • A = asymmetry (one half doesn’t look like the other)
  • B = border (irregular, ill-defined or funny-looking shape)
  • C = color (one spot that has multiple colors within it, such as different shades of brown or black. Red, white or blue colors are occasionally seen in melanoma)
  • D = diameter (a majority of melanomas are greater than 6mm when diagnosed, which is the size of a pencil eraser; however this doesn’t mean that smaller spots aren’t worrisome)
  • E = evolving (a mole that is changing in size, shape or color)

Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family

So, what can you do to reduce your risk for skin cancer? Protect yourself! Make sun protection a priority, not only for yourself but for your family. If you have children, make it your goal to not let them burn. Like never. Never ever.

Here are some tips I use with my own family:

  • Everyone needs sunscreen when outside. This includes just playing outside, going to the pool, going on walks, whatever it may be. The two types of sunscreen available are:
    • Chemical sunscreens: (the active ingredients are long words that are hard to pronounce, such as oxybenzone)
    • Physical sunscreens: (the active ingredients are zinc and/or titanium, easy to pronounce)

I prefer zinc/titanium-based sunscreens because they stay on better, cause less skin sensitivity issues and are better at preventing sunburn in my opinion. Examples of this type of sunscreen include Neutrogena Sheer Zinc SPF 50 or CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50. Overall, any sunscreen is better than none. And don’t forget, it needs to be reapplied every 2-3 hours.

  • Make hats your friend. Put them by the door you use most often to go outside. Put one in your car. I don’t know HOW many times a patient has told me, “I didn’t plan on being outside that long!” Never travel without a hat!
  • Buy rash guard swim shirts or other sun protective clothing for yourself and your family. Yep, I make my kids wear long-sleeve swim shirts to the pool. Sorry kids, but you’ll thank me later. SPF 50+ clothing is available for swimmers, golfers, fishermen, etc., at local stores such as Scheels but also on well-known websites such as www.coolibar.com. Trust me, it’s worth the money to invest in good sun-protective clothing.
  • Put on a layer of sunscreen to your face and neck every morning. Use it before applying makeup. There are some really nice, light sunscreens available over the counter. My most recent favorites for this purpose are Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Liquid Sunscreen SPF 50 or La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50.
  • Finally, come see me! If you are worried, questioning a spot on your skin or just want a once-over, you should visit me at South Lincoln Dermatology or see a board-certified dermatologist in your area.
Gina Weir, MD

Gina Weir, MD

Dr. Weir is a dermatologist with South Lincoln Dermatology.

2625 Stockwell
Lincoln, NE 68502

402-421-3335

Life Is Full of Puzzles

Life Is Full of Puzzles

The other week I went to Omaha to visit my sister, her husband and our foreign exchange student visiting from Norway. Bjorg stayed with us during the ’62-’63 school year. Although we’ve seen each other about every seven years, all of us understand those transatlantic trips get more difficult with age and our visits may be numbered. We made the most of every minute we were together. During the week, we went to the Henry Doorly Zoo, Lauritzen Gardens, Old Market, Joslyn Art Museum and more. Each site was special and we loved the time to explore and get reacquainted with each other and the venue.

Visiting the Joslyn Museum was an especially fun day. The four “grandparents” were joined by my sister’s daughter and her three children, as well as her daughter-in-law and her two daughters. Even though all of my sister’s grandkids live in Omaha, I don’t get a chance to see them very often. They are all incredibly active in sports, cheerleading and work—not much different from my own grandkids. I thought about it and realized I really only see my sister’s grandkids on holidays and for a few birthdays. So I was determined to make this Joslyn visit count as a time to remind them who Grandma Nancy is.

Piecing Together Time with Everyone

Where are they? It was as though the adopted grandkids were always one step ahead of me throughout the entire museum. I did catch site of the two girls entranced with Degas’ Little Dancer, but by the time we came to the piece, the girls vanished. I realized my time with Bjorg was more important, so I stopped stalking them.

The grandmas and grandpa finally caught up with the grandkids in the museum gift shop. My sister and Bjorg found the jewelry counter, my brother-in-law stayed out of the shop completely, and I was enthralled with the toys, especially a wooden puzzle. It appeared to look like a mini two-dimensional Rubik’s Cube. The girls came up behind me staring at the puzzle I was trying to complete. We knew what the puzzle should look like when completed: 12 mini cubes arranged in a 3 x 4 shape. We also knew the “try me” sample I held in my hand was in a straight line. They looked at me and challenged me to put the straight line form into the 3 x 4 completed shape.

diffiuclt multicolored puzzle

Try, Try, Try Again

I tried. I tried again, and again. What was I missing? I handed it to one of the girls. She looked at it for three seconds and completed the puzzle. She handed it over to me with this smug look on her face. I undid the puzzle and gave it to her younger sister, thinking surely this little girl wouldn’t be able to complete the task. She, like her sister, took a moment to look at the pieces, then quickly completed the task. I gasped and grabbed each girl, hugging them until they giggled with glee. They laughed hysterically at Grandma Nancy. Their laughter increased when they again challenged me to complete the puzzle. Nope, I couldn’t do it.

At the end of our visit when we were saying our goodbyes, the girls surprised me with a gift of the wooden puzzle. They said they wanted me to have it so I could practice putting it together; we had another good laugh.

Not All of Life’s Puzzles Are So Simple

When I got back to Lincoln, I looked at the puzzle in its neat 3 x 4 rectangle. How could this silly thing be so hard? I refused to touch it for a day. But the next day, I was determined to figure it out. As I began rearranging the pieces, I noticed how it was put together. How the pieces were notched and how they were held together. Oh, it now made sense. I then remembered how each girl took time to analyze the situation prior to jumping in to complete the puzzle like I had done—lesson learned.

I also noticed the puzzle’s recommended age, 3+. Was this a test of a senior citizen’s brain versus a young brain? It certainly was a good reminder for me to analyze a situation or puzzle before attempting to solve it. I also give credit to educators for not just teaching kids what to learn, but more importantly, how to learn. I am thankful I can continue to learn from all of my grandkids. Maybe Grandma Nancy should go back to school!

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

Relieving Lower Back Pain

Relieving Lower Back Pain

As an interventional radiologist, I see many patients who suffer with lower back pain. It is immensely rewarding to offer my patients treatment options that:

  • Are effective
  • Done as an outpatient procedure with short recovery times
  • Provide immediate pain relief
  • Reduce the need for opioid pain medications

An interventional radiologist is a doctor that performs minimally invasive procedures through small nicks in the skin while using image guidance such as real-time x-ray, ultrasound or CT. Most procedures are outpatient and can be performed with just a local anesthetic.

Causes and Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

A good physical exam with the addition of proper imaging of the spine when needed helps determine the cause of back pain. Initial diagnostic and treatment options may include:

  • Fluoroscopy – A technique that uses x-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the body
  • CT-guided steroid facet joint injections – Facet joints are part of the spine’s bony framework; the injection uses local anesthetic

Low Back Pain and SI Joint Pain

The sacroiliac joint (also known as SI joint) is the joint between two bones which are located in the back of your pelvis, on the left and right side. SI joint pain includes lower back pain that feels dull and aching. It can also spread to the hips, buttocks and/or groin. Some of the most common areas where you might feel SI joint pain is in the buttocks, lower back or side of the thigh.

Low Back/SI Joint Pain Treatment

If steroid injections relieve lower back pain for only a short time, a rhizotomy procedure can be performed to relieve the pain for a longer period of time. A rhizotomy procedure involves placing special needles that heat up the sensory nerves. This effectively burns a small segment of the nerve so that pain impulses can’t be sent. Pain relief lasts until the small segment is healed, which usually takes one to two years.

Sciatica

Sciatica is pain, numbness or tingling caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the leg. Sciatica is most commonly related to a compressed nerve in the lumbar spine from a herniated disk.

Sciatica Treatment

If physical therapy or over the counter anti-inflammatory/pain medications have not been effective, an epidural injection of steroid/anesthetic can help confirm the diagnosis and offer temporary and sometimes long-term relief.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal, or passageways in the spine. These passageways contain the spinal cord and nerves. The narrowing is most often caused by degenerative changes in the spine as we age. The spinal cord and the nerve roots that exit the spinal canal can become pinched. Symptoms include pain, numbness and/or cramping in the legs when walking or standing. Sometimes the symptoms can be relieved by leaning forward when sitting or walking, such as leaning over a shopping cart to decrease the pain.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment

For moderate spinal stenosis, a small implant about the size of a dime can be placed between the bones (spinous processes) in your lower back. These bones can be felt by placing your fingers down the center of the back. The implant increases the space where your nerves exit the spine, relieving your pain.

Diagram of lower back pain

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects more than 50 million people in the United States. As we age, our bones become thinner, increasing the risk of spinal compression fractures. These fractures can result from a fall, lifting something or sometimes from no event at all. If you have severe back pain that gets worse when you move, this could be caused by a compression fracture.

Treating Compression Fractures of the Spine

Minimally invasive treatments such as kyphoplasty and SpineJack vertebral augmentation stabilize the fracture and decrease pain. These procedures insert bone cement into the proper areas of the spine to ease your pain. The procedures take less than an hour. Most patients have immediate pain relief and go home the same day.

View videos to learn more about these procedures and how they relieve pain

Kyphoplasty Treatment: Esther’s Story

SpineJack Treatment: Duane’s Story 

Get Relief for Your Lower Back Pain

If you suffer from back pain and would like to learn more about our minimally invasive therapies to relieve your pain, call Bryan Interventional Radiology at 402-481-3095.

To schedule a consultation, call the Bryan Scheduling Center at 402-481-5121.

Interventional Radiologists

Advanced Radiology at Bryan Medical Center

The interventional radiologists of Advanced Radiology at Bryan Medical Center offer expertise and options to treat your back pain.

Being at the forefront of advances in medicine allows Advanced Radiology to offer patients the latest treatments in addition to current treatments. Dr. Budler was one of the first 10 physicians in the United States and the first in Nebraska trained on the SpineJack procedure. The Advanced Radiology team has the most experience in Nebraska in performing vertebral augmentation procedures like the SpineJack to relieve back pain.

Meet interventional radiologists of Advanced Radiology at Bryan Medical Center: Michael Budler, MD; John Allen, MD; Kyle Pfeifer, MD; Jeffrey Himmelberg, MD!

Adventure is Out There

Adventure is Out There

It was over 13 years ago when my husband and I wrote down a family goal of providing our children with the gift of travel. Our goal then, as it is today, is to provide as many opportunities as we can to see the wonders our great nation has to offer. While it may still seem like a far fetched goal, we plan and plot out our trips in hopes of traveling to as many of the continental states as possible before our children graduate high school.

When it comes to trips and vacations, spontaneous and unplanned are two words that hardly find their way into my vocabulary. For me, every vacation or getaway is planned – and planned meticulously. For my husband and eldest daughter, “adventure is out there” is more their style.

“Yes, let’s go.”

For the extended, activity-free, Easter weekend, we planned a college visit for our daughter in Western Nebraska and then a third trip back to the Black Hills. However, when my husband spontaneously suggested we drive to Yellowstone rather than go to Mount Rushmore, immediately our daughter said, “yes, let’s go.”

In an uncharacteristic fashion, I quickly agreed. I was actually excited for the spontaneous 1,700 mile detour from our original plan. Already 6 hours from home and another 10 hours from Yellowstone, we began our “quick trip” to one of our national treasures. Yet, I knew this would be an adventure our kids would not forget as nothing was planned, including where we would stay each night. We vowed to get as far as we could, find a hotel, explore the area quickly, and then continue the next day.

This spontaneous road trip provided many moments for our family to create memories. From waiting patiently for Old Faithful, to taking pictures in front of each new state sign, the memories we created will make for great conversations for years to come. Even picking out the state collectibles became an adventure.

Our two daughters collect one small item from each of the states we visit. One collects stickers, and the other collects keychains. Naturally, our son decided he wanted to start collecting something to remember our travels. In typical 10-year-old boy humor, he started with the ridiculous idea of collecting moose’s poop, but soon realized he would not be able to find that in every state. For the next 30 minutes, he browsed postcards, snow globes, patches, magnets, playing cards and finally decided upon lapel pins, which is perfect for him. For the next hour after his purchase, he figured out all of the states he has visited, and how many pins he would have to buy so he would be caught up on his states.

Our Family Adventure

When the weekend was all said and done, we traveled 2,100 miles in the course of 75 hours. Yes, sometimes the confines of the pickup truck felt quite cramped with all five of us having our earbuds in at various points in the journey. Yet ultimately, we all loved the trip! The spontaneity of changing our original plans allowed us to create new family memories. We added two more states to our visited state’s list, and it was a great reminder for all of us to enjoy the moment. For myself, someone who plans out virtually everything, it was an awesome opportunity for me to not worry about the next stop and to embrace the fact that “adventure is out there.”

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.

Foods & Exercises to Reduce Your Arthritis Pain

Foods & Exercises to Reduce Your Arthritis Pain

The pain and discomfort of arthritis can have a big effect on your quality of life. A good exercise program and a healthy diet have been shown to increase your mobility (ability to get around) and provide medication-free pain relief.

3 Areas of Focus to Reduce Your Arthritis Pain

As a nurse practitioner, I believe knowledge is power. Here are three items I share with my patients to improve their daily life with arthritis:

  • Foods to avoid because they can increase inflammation and arthritis symptoms
  • Foods that can decrease some of your arthritis pains
  • Exercises you can do without causing stress and pressure on your joints


Foods to Avoid if You Have Arthritis

There are certain types of foods that are considered pro-inflammatory, meaning they can increase inflammation. In general, more inflammation equals more pain, specifically in your joints.

Limit the following in your diet to avoid inflammation:

  • Sugar
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • MSG
  • Aspartame
  • Alcohol

Foods high in sodium also have been found to increase inflammation, so it’s important that you try to limit these types of foods in your diet.

Most people in America tend to have diets that are high in saturated fats and trans fats. A good step is to look at food labels and make sure these are limited, if not completely eliminated from your diet.

In general, try to avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store. Most foods in this area contain refined carbohydrates and things we need to avoid because they increase inflammation. Plus, this is where you’re more likely to find processed foods. For the most part, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient on the label, it’s probably not a good choice.

Foods and Supplements that Help Arthritis Pain

Many foods are considered to be anti-inflammatory. Lowering inflammation can decrease arthritis pain.

Include these foods in your diet to help fight inflammation:

  • Omega 3s, such as fish like salmon, dark leafy greens, olive oil and nuts
  • Cherries 
  • Green tea
  • Whole grains
  • Citrus fruits like pineapple and oranges
  • High fiber foods

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements

Our general rule with supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin is to give it a try for about three months. If you do not notice a difference in your joints and your joint pain, stop taking it. Many times people find that after they stop taking it, they notice it really was working and making a difference. I have several patients that absolutely swear by glucosamine and chondroitin.

Exercises to Ease Joint and Arthritis Pain

Low impact exercises that don’t put a lot of pressure on your knees and ankles are good options if you have arthritis.

Low impact exercises include:

  • Swimming – try lifting weights in the water for an added workout
  • Machines like a NuStep, where you’re moving back and forth and not putting weight on your knees
  • Gentle walking
  • Weight lifting with the guide of a trainer who can show you ways to lift weights and still protect your joints
  • Yoga and Tai Chi

Take Steps to Control Your Arthritis Pain and Feel Better

By reducing inflammation, you’ll have more energy to get out and walk, stretch and do other activities. If you need a bit of direction, working with a personal trainer or a nutritionist is a wonderful option.

Knowledge is power. The more you know about your disease process, proper nutrition and exercise, the better prepared you’ll be to take steps toward feeling better and living a more active, less painful life.

Want More Information on the Ways to Manage Arthritis?

Jaimie Russell

Jaimie Russell

APRN-NP

Jaimie Russell, APRN-NP, is a nurse practitioner with the Arthritis Center of Nebraska

Navigating the Potholes of Life

Navigating the Potholes of Life

The end of winter and the beginning of spring always seems to bring challenges and surprises. We live in Lincoln, NE, and we know the weather is always changing. I find myself having bags of clothes ready to grab and go. Baseball starts early, and the rain added an umbrella to my usual bag of “layers,” which I pack to watch our grandson play. What I wasn’t ready for was the large amounts of rain received in parts of our state. I wasn’t ready for towns being flooded and the need for those families to relocate. I wasn’t ready for the need to help families affected by the flooding.

The Nebraska Floods

We saw videos on TV and pictures online. It was devastating, and I was at a loss of what I could do to help those affected by the floods. We donated money to the cause and supplies to help those in need. We hope our donations get to flood victims and are confident they will be used.

Then, Lincoln was put under a mandatory water restriction. That directly affected us. John and I wanted to do whatever we could to support our community and follow the law. My husband was a little concerned I didn’t flush the toilet all the time. He got over it. In the past, we never used plastic water bottles because of recycling concerns. We got over it. Bonus, we didn’t have to water our lawn because it was already under water.

We were pleased that within a few short days, the restrictions went from mandatory to voluntary to no restrictions. Being the hippie aged person I am, I was ready for the long haul, but because I’m not too much of a hippie, I was pleased to get back to normal. Full showers are a luxury no matter what your age is.

Did I say normal? What is normal? Normal winter weather produces weather-related challenges – like POTHOLES!

Dodging the Potholes

Every year our community has potholes, but this winter weather has put a few extra dents or dips in our roads. The other day, I found myself driving while straddling two lanes of the street in an effort to avoid the devastating potholes. I’ve heard horror stories about people losing their tire covers, denting their wheels or worse after they hit a huge hole.

Immediately, I went into grandma mode. If I was experiencing this, what were my grandkids experiencing during their driving excursions? I had visions of their car wheels coming off when they hit a pothole. In my mind, I saw them in a hospital bed because their car was stuck in a ten-foot hole. Grandmas can wish the best for their grandkids, but we can also fear the worst.

I realized I can get emotional and worry too much about my grandkids, who are no longer babies and don’t need to be babied. I also realized that potholes are a fact of life. The potholes in the streets of Lincoln will get fixed.

I then began thinking of the potholes in the lives of young adults. These potholes are also everywhere. The potholes of life may include risky behavior, not planning for the future, addictions – the list could go on and on. Successfully driving on the streets is also a road map for navigating through the potholes in life. The lessons might include be aware of your surroundings, anticipate what might be coming around the next curve, keep your eyes on the road and feel free to straddle the road of life.

Then I took a deep breath. I decided to take my own advice and not needlessly worry about my grandkids. Then, I took another deep breath and realized being a grandma includes loving, caring for, and yes, even worrying about the grandkids. Potholes will always be there.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

5 Things I Want My Teenage Daughter to Know

5 Things I Want My Teenage Daughter to Know

The winter weather finally gave way to spring: the birds are chirping, the cranes found a home in Nebraska for a few weeks and the track is full of students running and jumping. However, spring also means something else for our household — birthdays. In the next month, we’ll officially have two teenagers in our home. I can say “officially” because our younger daughter has thought she’s a teenager since about eight years old.

Things I Want My Teenage Daughter to Know

Another teenager in our home. It seems like yesterday you were scooting your chubby little self across the floor with your curls bouncing up and down. Even though physically you’re my “mini-me,” our personality traits could not be more opposite. However, this is what makes you, YOU. Most days your procrastination and ability to get out of chores has me clenching my teeth. Yet, some days I’m insanely jealous of your strong-willed personality. Your fierce passion for certain things in life will move mountains someday.

But for now, here are a few things I need you to know:

There Will Be Limitless Questions

Where are you going? Who will be there? What did you do tonight? Are you sure you studied enough? Did you get your project done? Why are you doing this at 5:30 a.m. when it is due at 8:00 a.m.? Be grateful we’re asking too many questions. We’re not being strict or nosey. It’s okay for us to set boundaries and limits.

Value Your Friendships

I’ve always said you don’t need to be friends with everyone, but you do need to be kind to everyone. Those teenagers who become your friends, love them and love them hard. Make sure this circle of friends encourages, challenges and has each other’s backs. Reflecting on my teenage years, I’m glad I had a few friends that I trusted who made high school a memorable experience.

Challenge Yourself

Find something that’s challenging and work hard at learning and growing. Many times, I stayed within my comfort zone in high school, being afraid to fail. Failing and retrying leads to one of the most important things you can develop which is a strong work ethic. What will become quickly apparent to many is not trying, being afraid to fail and always walking the paved path.

Chase A Dream

Write your dreams down, visit those dreams often and chase them with an unrelenting passion. When you’re twenty, thirty or forty the lion inside you will thank you.

Save

Learn this skill now. This is one skill I am thankful I learned early during my teenage years. Fund your savings account. Invest in stocks. Start a mutual fund. Contribute to the investments with half of whatever you earn. This will not only help you to prepare for your future but will teach you good spending habits.

Becoming an Adult is Hard

As you embark on your teenage years there will be many times where it may seem difficult, frustrating, but also exciting. However, in the grand scheme of things these years are so simple. You know these years will fly by as you have witnessed with your sister. But ultimately, be the best version of you.

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.

Where Did All My Friends Go? Maintaining Friendships After Parenthood

Where Did All My Friends Go? Maintaining Friendships After Parenthood

Our lives change when we have kids. When did welcoming your little miracle into the world segue into a funeral for your friendships?

Somewhere between all-nighters and ‘should I breastfeed or use formula?’, I stopped thinking about the friends I made over the years.

Or maybe I’m just too tired.

Whatever it is, it’s a problem.

Recently, my friend from college, whom I haven’t seen in a while even though we live in the same city and both have children, asked me my thoughts on balancing relationships outside my family. Weeks go by where I don’t see or talk to any of my friends, and I feel guilty. The catch-22 is that if I make time for my friends, I then feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my family.

Practices, Play Dates and Parties, Oh My!

We all want the best for our children and that means spending quality time together. However, I want to be a well-rounded individual and role model for my children to live a good, full life – one that involves friends.

But as busy parents, fitting in exercise, grocery shopping, laundry or just having some downtime is a struggle. My children’s activities and friendships can consume my time. I spend hours in the stands during soccer practice, waiting during dance class or juggling play dates, parties and practices with our children and their friends. This leaves my own friendships out of the equation.

I’ve also decided that as a working parent my children take priority when I get home from work or have free time on the weekends. I again neglect my friendships with the hope that I can pick them back up when our children are older.

Finding the Time for Friends

Saturday mornings are my ‘me time’. I get to workout and have brunch with some of the women I see at boot camp. I value this time. I suggest that if you have a parenting partner, negotiate who will be off-duty and when. There should be an even split. Use your respective time however you want, but be sure to include seeing your friends!

Now that my kids are slightly older, we’ve been trying to do activities that involve other families. When we head to the bowling alley, trampoline park or children’s museum, the kids get to enjoy playing with other kids and the adults enjoy spending time with other adults.

I need to take advantage of this time to make friends with fellow parents and nurture my existing friendships with other moms and dads. I want to put down social media and reach out to the friends I’ve been neglecting.

As I said, I am a working parent with a job outside the home. I like to take advantage of free time where my kids are already in childcare and invite a work friend out to lunch, meet a friend who works nearby or have a little lunch date with my husband. This helps with maintaining friendships without the help of your children.

Striking a Balance

Being a good friend may present some challenges. I’m still trying to make time for friends, but I know I’ll reap the rewards in the long run. I’m starting to see that as my children get older, my friendships are changing, and I am continuing to develop new friends.

Ultimately, striking a balance between the time I spend with my children and my adult friends will contribute to a full, healthy life.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

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.

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