Ways to Make Summer Reading Not Feel Like Homework

Ways to Make Summer Reading Not Feel Like Homework

Ah, summer—the sun is hot, school is out, energy is high, and let’s face it, for parents this can be a challenging time. Not only does your routine change, but it’s also difficult to keep your kids reading.

Does “summer school work” sound like a chore to your kids? It’s a constant struggle for me to convince my children to do anything other than watch TV or play outside. The question I faced was, “How can I make reading or any other school work be just as exciting as any other summer activity?”

How to Make Summer Reading Not Feel Like Homework

Before school was out for the summer, I made a plan. I wanted to continue helping Cohen read throughout the summer. I heard of the summer slide, which is a term teachers use to describe the learning loss between grades over the summer, and I didn’t want that for Cohen. He had made such great progress throughout the year and was nearing a third grade level that I didn’t want him to fall farther behind.

Find Programs that Have Worked Previously

I looked into several reading programs being offered during the summer months, but they were ridiculously expensive! Plus, the times the classes were offered were not convenient for working parents, so that was a little frustrating! I realized I would need to make it a priority.

Make a Plan

I made a plan to go to the library once a week and have my kids pick out books they wanted to read. I also signed Cohen up for the library summer reading program, which is free! Then, we went to Barnes and Noble and signed up for that summer reading program. Lastly, I wanted him to continue with his frequency folder and have him read the same passage every day. I thought I had a great plan in place.

But life gets in the way. My plans for him to read continues to be pushed aside for the different activities planned in the evenings that Cohen wants to do. My son didn’t view reading as a fun activity and I realized I needed to make it a priority and encourage summer reading. It was time to get creative!

Set Goals

It was time to set some summer reading goals. I had Cohen help me set our goals and create a chart together when he finished his frequency passage. Cohen and I made a “Reading Hall of Fame” bulletin board. After every book he finished, we take a picture and I post it to the board.

Make Reading a Family Event

My daughter starts kindergarten in the fall, so I am trying to make reading this summer a family affair. During the warm weather months, it can be hard for busy, on-the-move families to fit reading in. So we started to set aside some time to read before bedtime. Every family member grabs some books, we turn off all electrics, and read for 20 minutes. We’re also trying to listen to more audio books—while at the library, I found some fun family reads on CD.

Make it Fun

Lastly, his teacher gave me this idea before summer vacation—twice a month during the summer we have a “Cookie and Bookie” where we read a story or two together, he reads one page then I read the other, and when finished we discuss what we read. Then, of course, we bake cookies together!

Granted, these are no substitutes for cracking the books. And I don’t pretend to have any magical suggestions for preventing the summer slide, but I am trying to make reading a priority this summer so Cohen won’t be far behind when he enters 3rd grade this fall.

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!

Family Sequels

Family Sequels

I was watching the evening news the other day and after the story I felt I was having a deja vu experience. I asked myself, “When was the last time the government took the action the news was reporting?” We’ve been here before and it didn’t turn out well then and it may not turn out favorably this time. It had me thinking—do we review the past to improve the future, or are we as a society, constantly changing and things will never be the same?

Can Sequels Help Us to Learn, Retain and Become Better?

I thought of my time as an educator, and it seemed like curriculum and strategies were always changing. Each year seemed like a sequel to the previous year. How can we help students learn, retain and become great citizens? Teachers are better prepared now then they were in the early 70s, so the sequel concept in education works.

I’m not quite sure why I used the word ‘sequel’ to discuss education. The word sequel usually refers to movies or books—Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc.

Since the grandkids only liked to do group reading when they were young, I’ve focused our sequels to watching movies with them. I’ve always liked watching movies with the grandkids. Whether it’s watching movies at our house or taking them to the movie theater, the time together has been precious. It has always been a fun time, but is much less frequent than when they were in elementary school.

Then, they were eager to be picked up and share a movie and lunch with grandma. I really believe they were more excited about getting away from their parents. I think they still enjoy our outings, however, those are few and far between. School, sports, travel and friends all compete for grandma time. TV movies are the next best thing to going to the theater, but even those occasions are less frequent. Sequels are fun to watch together. Reviewing the past movies and anticipating the future ones are great discussions.

When we do watch a TV sequel, it’s usually something they’ve heard of or have at least seen the first movie of the series. Spiderman, The Avengers, Star Wars are a couple which pop into my head. I thought of the sequels I watched growing up, such as the Rifleman and Gunsmoke. Those sequels were aired frequently and not very well done, but it was all we had. A line the grandkids always love hearing—not!

Do We Review the Past to Improve the Future?

When we have these very important discussions, the grandkids always respond politely. We all agreed you can’t judge a sequel by it’s first movie or even it’s last. Not all sequels, or all movies within a sequel, are similar in quality. Every one is unique, but with some similarities. We came to the conclusion most of the Star War movies were good and probably will continue to be good. Who knows how many more installments of Star Wars will be made. Characters like Chewbacca and R2D2 brought a strong connection to each movie. The first Jaws movie was the best of the later Jaws movies, but the sequel probably should have ended after the second movie. I mean, how many killer sharks are out there? Wait a minute—as global warming comes into play, we hear more and more about people being attacked by a shark, so maybe the sequel will continue.

It had me thinking about sequels in our family. We all have similarities, such as our background, values, upbringing, education and income. Our family’s sequels are similar, yet we are so distinctively different. It was an interesting discussion and really made us think about our lives—where we’ve been and where each of us is going.

When we talk about sequels or series, whether it’s movies or family members, do we review the past to improve the future? Do we learn from each other’s experiences? I would guess we all do so individually, but I know I don’t tell the grandkids what they should learn from my mistakes, I try to keep all my mistakes to myself. I’m also confident their parents will share all my sordid mistakes with them, ha.

Deep down, we are all originals and we are uniquely diverse. We have different story lines and different genres, but we are still interconnected. Although our family is not a ‘love story’ sequel, there is an abundance of love shared.

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.

My Husband’s “Me” Time

My Husband’s “Me” Time

My husband’s job includes weird hours – some nights, weekends and overnight trips. Recently, he started a night class for graduate school. When he isn’t at work or school, he uses about 50% of that time for himself (i.e., playing sports). I know it’s important for him to keep himself sane and healthy, but I wish he wanted to spend more time with us. I am feeling pretty lonely.

I LOVE being home with the kids but I still want him to have a parenting role beyond a provider. I know it’s wrong for me to feel resentful, especially since I take time for myself, but recently we got into an argument about how he spends his time.

After nine years of marriage, I realize that no marriage is ever 50/50. There will always be one partner that does more on any given day. Forget about it being fair because that doesn’t exist.

“Me” Time or Family Time

My marriage benefits when we both have time for ourselves, either to pursue our own interests or just relax. Personal time allows us to maintain our individual identities, provides opportunities to do things we like to do, and allows us to feel like we have some control over our lives. Alone time can actually help to keep our relationship fresh and less stressful. However, this past weekend, I was angry that my husband wanted to spend his “me” time playing softball.

I spend several hours a week at the gym, so why was it so difficult for me to see that he needs time, too? It wasn’t the game that made me upset, it was the fact that he didn’t want to spend time with me and his family.

Getting on the Same Page

I came to the conclusion that personal time needs for each person varies from couple to couple. What’s most important is that we agree on how much time we want to spend together and apart. The problem that I had with softball was that my husband never communicated to me that he needed that time for himself. If it were handled correctly, we’d each feel like we are getting our fair share. I was feeling that work and school should be included in his “me” time because those times are when I’m home by myself with the kids. However, he thought that that time should not be included. It was a communication breakdown. We both needed to take a step back and realize how the other person was feeling.

During these times, perceptions are more important than the actual number of hours. Even if we spend very little time together or apart, the relationship is fine if that’s what we both want. If either of us has different perspectives, however, the amount of time together or apart can be a source of conflict. He was feeling suffocated, while I was feeling insecure and isolated.

Dedicating Time to Each Other

We often have different ideas as to how much time should be dedicated to each other and ourselves. I tend to want more couple time, usually because I regard it as important for bolstering my marriage and making sure there’s solidarity as a couple. My husband, on the other hand, tends to prefer more time on his own. Now that we know where each other stands and realize what we both need, and our communication is open and honest, my husband spending a couple hours a week at softball seems like an okay trade to me.

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!

Grandmas Get Pimples

Grandmas Get Pimples

One day last week, I woke up with a sore in the corner of my lips. I didn’t think much about it but the next morning it was bigger, redder and hurt just a tad. It wasn’t time to call the doctor, but I wanted to keep my eye on it.

What started as a stressful week worrying about my skin ended in a lovely moment with my granddaughter.

Do I have a cold sore?

My husband always struggled with cold sores so when my spot first appeared I asked what he thought. He didn’t think it was a cold sore. Skeptically, I asked him if you spread cold sores by kissing. He laughed at my question and went out the door to play golf. The love and support were overwhelming! I could never complete with golf.

On the third day, the center of my sore was getting dark and hard. Even though the spot was only the size of a pinprick, I decided to apply Campho Phenique cold sore cream and burn it to death. By the fourth day, there was no change.

I tried to occupy my time by running errands. I ran over to my daughter’s house to drop off a book. My daughter wasn’t home so my granddaughter came to greet me. She gave me a big hug and then looked at me. She started to laugh hysterically.

Did I have food in my teeth, or something hanging from my nostril? It took about two seconds of laughter before she squealed, “Oh, my gosh, Grandma. You’ve got a zit on your face!” A zit at my age? How could that be?

A lesson in skincare

My granddaughter had bad acne between 8th and 11th grade. It caused her a lot of grief and she made many trips to the dermatologist. After multiple trial and errors, they finally found a plan that worked and she no longer gets as anxious over the situation. Bottom line, she’s an expert and knows what a zit looks like and how to contain it.

I had her look at my lips so she could be 100% sure it was a pimple. Tears were streaming down her face from laughing. She’d never heard of a grandma having a zit. The bump was definitely a zit and not a cold sore and it was in the corner of my mouth.

I was shocked. I hadn’t had a pimple in at least 45 years. I’m struggling with age spots and dry, blotchy skin, but now I need to add zits to the list?

My hysterical granddaughter knew exactly what to do. First, she gave me a hug. Second, she quickly found a tube of Clearasil and gave me application instructions. Clean the area, then gently dab the Clearasil to the pimple. She told me it would be gone in two days. I thanked her for the advice, although I really did remember how to get rid of pimples. Unfortunately, my routine for getting rid of pimples always started with popping them. I didn’t tell her that.

Returning the favor

After our session, she gave me a high five and said, “You’ve always been there to give me advice and I’m glad I can now return the favor.” Wow! She really is growing up. I know I will always need technology advice, but this was different. Getting sentimental over a zit is another new experience for me. As we hugged goodbye, her final comment to me was, “At least you’re not going to prom tonight!”

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.

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.

Plastic Surgery after Babies…Yay or Nay?

Plastic Surgery after Babies…Yay or Nay?

Saggy breasts, excess skin and my favorite, the love pouch. Like most women, my body changed after having kids. It wasn’t until I knew I was done having babies that I considered plastic surgery.

Mothers, by nature, are givers. We take care of our children, our husbands, our coworkers, other family members and friends…all before we think of ourselves. It’s rare for a mom to schedule time or activities just for herself, without feeling some degree of guilt that she’s taking time away from her family or work.

My body image is directly related to my self-esteem and how I view myself. When I feel fit, healthy and sexy, everyone benefits. My family sees a happy, confident, energetic mother who serves as a great role model.

Finding Pride in a Mother’s Body

I am proud of this body. It made two beautiful children. This is the body God gave me and I’m grateful. I’ve put in the work, I’ve lost over 40 pounds in the last year and a half, and I continue to workout and eat healthy almost every day. I’m full of energy and overall happier with my transformation. Yet, the excess skin is still there, and I’m self-conscious of my mid-section and my nonexistent boobs. I want to look as good as I feel. My children see me push through every workout. They see me say no to desserts (most of the time). Now, I want them to see my happiness. I want to see my gains in the mirror but all I see is a big stomach.

It is NOT selfish or vain for a woman to want to look good! A mother deserves to look as fit, youthful and toned as she can. Who wouldn’t want to look their very best physical self?

How a mother feels about herself as a wife and a woman is integral to her body image and self-esteem. When we look our best, we feel more secure and reflect that to others, exuding confidence, happiness and overall attractiveness. When a mother feels confident about her body, she is happier overall, her marriage benefits and so does her relationship with her children.

The Pros and Cons of Having Plastic Surgery

I know the pros and cons of having plastic surgery but the struggle I can’t seem to come to terms with is: how can I explain to my daughter that you should love yourself the way you are and that the way you look on the outside doesn’t matter, then turn around and get plastic surgery to fix something about me? However, she sees me struggle and my want for something I can’t seem to obtain on my own. Should that be enough justification? Does it make me a bad mom to say one thing and do another?

For a mom to want to take care of herself and feel youthful, feminine and attractive is NOT self-centered or unreasonable.

Having a surgical procedure is a BIG DEAL. Surgery should not be taken lightly, and planning for recovery time and help with child care, driving and the usual activities of daily living after plastic surgery is extremely important.

As long as you can afford the time needed for surgical recovery, have help in caring for your children and understand fully the risks of surgery, I can completely understand why a mom would consider going under the knife! However, knowing that you should love your body and yourself is the main priority. If you’re happy with yourself but want to enhance or better your body, then there’s no problem with considering plastic surgery.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Did you know Dr. Cassidy Mitchell, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, offers free consultations to answer your questions and help you decide if plastic surgery is right for you.

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!

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.

Advice about Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know

Advice about Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know

Can you eat too much Salmon or Tilapia?

A healthy diet during pregnancy is important for the proper growth and development of your baby. As a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, I am often asked about eating fish during pregnancy. 

  • How much fish can I eat?
  • Can I eat sushi?
  • Are there “good” and “bad” fish to eat during pregnancy?
  • Is fish good for my baby’s brain development?
  • What about mercury? That’s bad, right?

Luckily, there are some clear guidelines about eating fish for pregnant women, infants and children, and people in all stages of life!

How does eating fish affect my baby’s health and brain development during pregnancy?

  • Fish, including finfish and shellfish, is low in saturated fat, high in protein and healthy to eat during pregnancy. It is also the primary dietary source for two n-3 (also called omega-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • For your baby’s optimal eye and brain development, moms need to include foods with omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for moms during the last trimester of pregnancy and while breastfeeding as this is when your baby’s brain is rapidly developing.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are also available as supplements and in fortified foods such as milk, yogurt, bread and even chocolate. You’ll just need to read the nutrition label to find out if the food includes omega-3 fatty acids. This can be an alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids for women who cannot or choose not to consume fish.

What about mercury?

  • While mercury is present in all fish, the levels vary depending on the type of fish.
  • One to three servings per week of a variety of seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury are recommended by the United States Food & Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Mercury, also called methylmercury, is toxic to your baby’s developing brain. For this reason, it is important to avoid eating fish high in mercury. It cannot be ‘cooked out’ of the fish, and over 95 percent of it is absorbed. You want to gain the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that fish provide while limiting the negative side effects of mercury.
  • Avoid eating fish high in mercury such as: king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), tuna and bigeye.

Can I eat fish caught at a lake, river or coastal area?

  • Fishing is a popular pastime for many Nebraskans.
  • Check for advisories about the safety of eating fish caught in areas where you plan to fish. This can usually be found on websites or through a Google search.
  • If no advice is available, the United States Food & Drug Administration recommends limiting the amount of fish you eat caught in these areas to six ounces (one average meal) per week and not eating any other fish during that week.

What about sushi?

If you’re pregnant, you should only eat cooked fish. And if you love sushi, don’t worry! There are many sushi options that use cooked fish. You can usually find these options on the menu or you can ask your server.

Which fish are good for me, my baby and family?

To answer the question in this blog title, Salmon and Tilapia are in the Best Choice category, and two-three servings per week is recommended.

The following table sums it up nicely!

Advice for eating fish.

Follow this link for more advice regarding eating fish from the FDA.

What is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor?

Benjamin Byers, DO

Benjamin Byers, DO

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist

Dr. Byers is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist with the Center for Maternal & Fetal Care, part of the Bryan Physician Network.

He has been in practice in Lincoln since 2014. Before this, he was a doctor in the US Army for 13 years, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. Although native to Iowa, he is an avid Cornhusker fan!

Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

I love to read. Since retiring, I joined two book clubs and thoroughly love both. I find myself reading novels I didn’t even know existed and enjoy the challenge of learning and living within each book.

I’ve always wanted to read a book with my grandkids, but unfortunately reading is a school assignment to them. There have been times where I read the same books as my granddaughters. When the Harry Potter book series was published I purposely read the novels at the same time as my granddaughters. Unfortunately, my grandson was not as interested in the wizarding world, so once again he was left out.

The girls and I really enjoyed the process of ready and discussing the Harry Potter series. We celebrated by going to see the movies together. As I recall, we didn’t read the entire series, but reading, discussing and watching the movies together was priceless. I often wonder if we would ever read a book together again.

This holiday season I finally got the chance to restart the family book club with Michelle Obama’s Becoming.

Restarting the Family Book Club

This holiday season one of my granddaughters saw my book club list on the kitchen counter. She was surprised I was reading Becoming by Michelle Obama for that month’s book club meeting. My granddaughter had heard of the book in school and even asked to borrow it! 

Oh my! Could this be happening? Were my ears deceiving me?

Yes, my family book club was happening again! Even if our family book club only had two members and read this one book, I would’ve been thrilled! 

After reading the book we came together with our thoughts and questions about Becoming. I was very curious to see her discussion topics and questions. Amazingly, she left politics almost completely out of the picture, preferring to focus on the process of “becoming” or changing. What defined a becoming moment for Michelle Obama? What life changes and the emotions that followed led to those big moments of becoming? 

Our “Becoming” Moments

It was a great discussion. We reflected on our individual becoming moments. What led to those moments and how did they help make us the people we are today?

Sports were a predominant theme for my granddaughter’s becomings. A coach who really pushed her to the next level, a teammate who made her laugh, yet focus too. Those specific moments helped her pause and reflect on how these individuals shaped her into the person she is today. 

Although I am further along in my life, I shared with her that I, too, am still changing through my own becoming moments. I hope I never stop.

My granddaughter and I are similar in our passion for our community and helping others, but the process of becoming as a grandma is different from becoming as a grandchild.

My granddaughter’s mentors are challenging her to become an adult in a new and exciting world. I, on the other hand, have mentors my same age. We still challenge each other to learn, but it’s different. I no longer strive to be the best educator in the world now that I am retired. My focus is now on those becomings which can transform me into a better and more loving grandmother to my grandchildren and support them through their becoming moments. 

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.

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.

Why I Decided Not to Spank My Kids

Why I Decided Not to Spank My Kids

Spanking is a topic that can break a room in half in a matter of seconds. For this exact reason I have been cautious, thoughtful and patient about when I would approach it.

As a child, I received my fair share of spankings and remember hearing rumors of a paddle being used on naughty children in the school principal’s office. Before I had children of my own, I was not against spankings and I even thought I would eventually resort to spanking my own kids as a disciplinary tactic.

When Timeouts Don’t Work

Cohen, my “good child” was easy. If he got in trouble a timeout would do the trick. Still at the age of eight a simple “go to your room” calms him down. But Collyns, my sweet but stubborn daughter who never experienced the “terrible twos,” is now becoming a terror at the age of five. She screams, throws tantrums, chucks objects and slams doors. Timeouts in her room are not working. Now the thought of giving her a spanking seems like an option. I’ve been close to swatting her behind, but my temper can be short.

I’ve found that giving myself an opportunity to calm down helps me parent with a level-head and use these frustrating situations to teach life lessons. Timeouts in her room aren’t working, so she is now getting a timeout on the bottom step. On the step she has nothing to play with or throw. Her new timeout location has become a lot less fun than her room full of toys.

What Am I Teaching My Kids?

I like to be practical and real. Spanking, screaming and threatening changes my child’s response immediately. For those reasons, I understand those forms of discipline, but if I scream and spank, what have I just taught my child? They learn that when someone is doing something wrong and you don’t like what they are doing you yell and hit them. Cut to my child at school and her friend takes her toy. She thinks “I don’t like what you are doing, and it is wrong,” so she hits her friend. Spanking would be my child’s version of hitting.

We’ve gone through phases where my kids resort to physical aggression to relieve their frustrations. As a toddler, my son was a biter. He would bite when he became frustrated. When reprimanding my children for this undesirable aggression, I didn’t want to correct him through physical aggression. At the time I thought this would send him mixed messages and seemed unfair.

The World We Live In

I work in television and I know we live in a world where physical violence and abuse is a topic frequently in the media, on TV and in our communities. I do my best to shield my children from these violent influences or at least explain what they see or hear. We teach our children to respect one another, their friends and teachers, and to know that physical aggression is not acceptable. I do not spank my children and expect that they will never hit me or someone else.

Discipline techniques are a personal decision, but for me and my family, spankings are not our choice.

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!

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