Remaining Positive During an Injury

Remaining Positive During an Injury

We all hate to see it. The play is over, and players in the pile get up, but one player doesn’t. Sometimes you see the injury as it happens. Sometimes it is a mystery. Either way, nothing quiets a crowd like a sports injury. It does not matter whether it occurs in pre-school T-ball or the Super Bowl.

Youth sports injuries are an unfortunate, but inevitable part of any young athlete’s playing journey. The severity ranges from out-for-one-game to out-for-the-season or even out-for-the-year.

My Son’s Soccer Injury

This is a topic near and dear to me, and for all the moms out there. I am sure I am not alone. It recently happened to my son. It wasn’t during a game, but he broke his collarbone while running, well falling, at conditioning for soccer.

However, we initially didn’t think it was broken. Cohen was in pain for a couple of days, we continued to ice it and gave him Tylenol. He could move his arm and shoulder, so we thought it was just a bruised collarbone. He even went swimming 3 days after the fall. The next week he had his annual physical with his doctor before the start of the new school year. The doctor noticed his collarbone and wanted him to get x-rays. Sure enough, Cohen had a small break. He was issued a brace and the orthopedic doctor said no contact sports for at least 6 weeks.

Tears immediately followed as Cohen knew the fall soccer season was about to begin. It was so difficult as a parent to not only watch your son in physical pain but now emotional pain and blame yourself for not seeking treatment sooner. He was playing 3 days a week and now, nothing. Not to mention, he was starting middle school now, having to wear a brace and not being able to participate in PE, his favorite subject in school.

Managing Pain and Emotions

His dad and I knew we needed to talk with him about his frustrations and empathize with his feelings. We had to support him as he worked hard to return to soccer, even as we helped distract him from the injury by encouraging him to pursue other interests he could still participate in while on injured reserve.

We had him still attend practice and he sat on the bench at games and helped the assistant coach take stats. Which I believe, helped him see the game in a different way. He realized he is still part of the team and I feel that he stepped up into a leadership role, even on the bench. One of the hardest parts of being injured was him not feeling like he was part of the team. Staying closely involved helped with that.

The obvious first step, which we didn’t do, is to get a definitive diagnosis if your child is suffering from an injury and not to wait. It will be better for you and for your athlete if you know exactly what you are dealing with. When will it heal? Will they need surgery? All these uncertainties add to anxiety. Luckily for Cohen, it is healing correctly just slowly. If he continues to listen to the doctor, get plenty of rest and restrain his arm/shoulder movement he’ll be back on the field sooner. Until then, he does footwork drills, passes and shoots, and is anxiously awaiting the okay to start playing.

An injury to an athlete is devastating; however, it does not have to signal the end of sports if the doctor agrees. Cohen will heal and get back into the game. And I continuously tell him that hurrying this process is not a good idea, take the required time to heal and think long-term. A couple missed scrimmages in practice and one missed game out of many will not hinder their long-term success.

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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Taking Family Vacations

Taking Family Vacations

The kids are out of school, and we’ve banked up just enough vacation time for this exact moment. After a few years of travel being limited, it’s time for a summer trip!

Do you recall that one summer vacation or that one family trip as a child that was etched into your mind as one of your best memories ever? Every year as a kid my family would always go on a family vacation. It usually centered around Nebraska Football but nonetheless, it was a family vacation. I knew I wanted my children to make the same kind of memories. So, when my husband and I started a family, I knew family vacations were a must.

In the early years, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together so our vacations were shoestring budget worthy – but we made memories. We began small with a weekend getaway over spring break to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. It was perfect for a young family and consisted of a free visit to Cabela’s, which was kind of like a zoo.

As the kids got older, the vacations changed. We saved enough money…well that is with the help of the grandparents, to make a trip to Disney World. Like they say, “It’s the most magical place on earth,” and it truly was special.

Then COVID-19 grounded us for a while but last fall we finally brought back family vacations. We made it to Estes Park, Colorado for a week which included hiking, shopping, horseback riding and a quick trip to the Denver Broncos Stadium.

This last month we went to Branson, Missouri. And when I say we, there were eight of us. This vacation was extra special, not only did my parents come but my brother and niece joined us. This trip was filled with mini golf, a ropes course, roller coasters, the Titanic Museum and our all-time favorite Wonder Works.

Now here’s the thing. Our vacations aren’t perfect. There is always chaos. At any given moment, someone needed an attitude adjustment. We spilled stuff. The photos didn’t turn out great. We forgot to pack important things. We were crammed into one car for what seemed like forever. We got lost. We were hot and sweaty – or freezing. But all those things made the memories!

Between the numerous amounts of putt-putting, sitting around the pool, horseback riding, trying to spot a bear or a moose around the edge of the mountains, and talking about life – those are the little things and the big things everyone will remember.

On top of the memories and bonds that are built, it’s healthy to get out of the normal routine of life. Life at home is filled with responsibilities. Between our jobs, errands to run and responsibilities to be kept, vacations are filled with joy and are usually worry-free. They allow us time to breathe fresher air, see bigger cities, ride down a river and learn a little history. They also give us the opportunity to explore together. They provide the backdrop for shared memories between grandparents, parents and kids, which cultivates a closer family bond. Vacations provide opportunities to learn about the world we live in, cultures different from our own, and the benefits of being open-minded.

If you have been putting your vacation off, take a moment to think of the importance of family vacations so you can regenerate and reconnect with your loved ones.

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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Bringing Nebraska to My Grandkids

Bringing Nebraska to My Grandkids

My husband, John, and I read the paper online every day. It’s not a perfect method as it adds more screen time for each of us and we actually prefer holding a paper in our hands. Print media is fondly remembered, but the online option was a decision we made and we’ve adjusted to the change.

On May 25, 2022, I read a local view on the opinion page entitled, Who do we want to keep? The opinion piece was written by a retired mother who lives in Lincoln and her daughter who now works and lives in Colorado. The premise was how some state officials are proposing keeping young professionals in Lincoln, since so many are leaving Nebraska. I thought it was a well-written piece and it made me think. Those pieces are worth my time and effort to read and digest. A couple of days later, I looked at the comments posted online referring to the article. Wow! I read some very differing views of the article. I was surprised about the varying degrees of responses until John informed me all opinion pieces are either loved or hated and readers love to share their two cents about the previous comment. Our divisions in this country don’t allow for much middle ground to allow compromise.

Talking to my Grandkids About Their Plans

Back to me thinking about the article part. After graduating from college, one of our daughters lived in Kansas and the other in Colorado. I truly put pressure on them to return to Nebraska because of my belief in the LPS school system. I truly believed, and still believe, Lincoln has an outstanding school system and I wanted to make sure the education of my grandchildren was the best it could be. Eventually, both daughters and their families made their way back to Lincoln. Three of our four grandchildren left Nebraska to attend schools in other states. Our fourth grandchild is going to school in Nebraska. The opinion piece made me wonder if the three granddaughters might someday return to Nebraska.

Their responses were varied and interesting but they all agreed they would probably not return to Nebraska to live. I asked them why. All three of the girls indicated they liked the opportunities and experiences they have had in the big city. They loved the diversity they experienced in college with foreign students and individuals who didn’t look like themselves. Each granddaughter individually stated they loved having people they knew really listen to their thoughts and dreams. They didn’t always agree with each other, but there was respect. Each granddaughter expressed the opportunity to learn about other cultures and shared fun experiences about trips to different areas of their respective communities, cultural events, markets and churches. Lastly, they felt they were truly accepted by others in their communities.

I told them their comments were well thought out, but I couldn’t imagine everything was perfect and every day was a kumbaya celebration. They laughed and agreed each of their lives wasn’t perfect, but for the most part they were all happy and wouldn’t change a thing.

Bringing Nebraska to Them

It’s important to note, each of our granddaughters are new to their real working world, living in apartments and enjoying their lives. Their opinions may change once they look for homes and begin contemplating their futures. Certainly marriage, children and working opportunities will all play a role in their decisions. However, when older generations, trying vainly to hold onto power, make decisions for, instead of with younger generations the prospects on attracting and retaining the next, young future Nebraskans, does not appear to be promising.

I told my grandkids if they choose not to return to Nebraska to live, I’ll bring Nebraska to them and split my time between here and whichever state they decide to live in. I’ll bring Nebraska to them!

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.

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Getting Ready for Middle School

Getting Ready for Middle School

Middle school. Just saying the words brings me thoughts of puberty and pimples. Of insecurity and awkwardness, including bad hair and braces. Really, middle school years, I believe may be the most challenging and confusing time in one’s life.

However, the idea of changing schools for middle school is new to me. I went to a private school that was Kindergarten through 8th grade, so I never had to transition to middle school. Recently, Cohen and I had information night at his new middle school. We took a tour, met some of the staff, asked questions, and learned about expectations and procedures. He had so many questions that I tried to answer but again I didn’t go to middle school, so this is new to the both of us. Cohen says he is ready, but I am not.

Since he is my oldest, this is uncharted territory for all of us. Right now, he’s excited about meeting new people, having new experiences and gaining more independence. It will be a new adventure and I am looking forward to watching him grow. I will admit, though, that I am also more than a little scared. I’ve heard lots of stories about kids making bad choices, giving in to peer pressure, using social media for inappropriateness and trying to do grown-up things far too soon. I’m sure he’s aware of these things as well.

Part of me wants to think he is too smart and too good to fall into those traps. But then there is the real me, that refuses to be a naive parent who is blind to the truth.

Yes, I have taught him basic values and morals, but now, more than ever is the time to help him apply it all. I believe middle school is the ideal time to mentor him in how to practically work out the character qualities that he learned as a boy. He is so sweet, loving, kind and innocent – and I don’t want that to change.

Because he is our first child, it may seem like the other parents are giving freedoms and privileges that I will not; I may be stricter, but I hope to stand my ground and not feel pressured to do the same. I know my son better than anyone, and I can make the call when the time is right to do these so-called more grown-up things.

And perhaps my greatest job during these years is to study my son and determine just where he is on that spectrum of growth and development, mentally and physically, and parent him accordingly. Not according to a number (grade or age). I do not want to parent him according to what his friends are doing. I want to do the very best thing for him, in the stage he is currently in.

For me, hitting the middle school years is like getting to half-time of an important game: I may be ahead now, but the game’s not over. I need to towel-off, get a big drink of water and then gear up for the second half. This is something that I want to finish strong.

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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You Are Loved, You Have a Purpose, You are an Inspiration

You Are Loved, You Have a Purpose, You are an Inspiration

Dear Reader:

You have been on my heart lately. I am often curious as to who actually reads my blogs. Each new month, I write, I delete, I rewrite, with the vision of you, my audience, in my heart as I prepare to share our stories. And while each month I share a small piece of my heart, this month has a different approach.

I am sure you have felt a wide range of emotions today. Maybe your day has been overflowing with blessings and joys. Maybe your day has been one stressful situation followed by another. Maybe you are completely exhausted. Maybe you are overwhelmed with grief. Maybe you are feeling inspired. Maybe you are filled with anticipation.

A Message to Readers

My dear reader, it doesn’t matter the stage of life you are in: the 20-something college student, the working parent, the single parent, the grandparent, the stay-at-home parent, or whatever the role, each day brings both joys and doubts. Each decade brings you new joys, new trials and tribulations, and new stories. And my hope is that each one of you can take away one small nugget of inspiration each new month.

You are Loved. You have a Purpose. You are an Inspiration. While it may be difficult for many to truly communicate their purpose, I do believe we all want our lives to leave an impact, to create a positive change. Your purpose doesn’t come out of the blue, it comes from all of the meaningful places and connections you have already been to. These moments are part of your story and your story is inspiring. Trust me, whether you realize it or not, I am inspired by you, my audience.

To the single parent, you inspire me in more ways than you will ever know. I have a high regard for your ability to wear the parent hat, the goofy hat, the nurse hat, the hard hat, the teacher hat, and the list goes on and on AND you do it with dignity and grace.

To the working parent, you have my heart. It is difficult to maintain a home while giving of yourself to your career. While there may be days of complete exhaustion, you still muster every ounce of time and give to those around you — you inspire me.

To the grandparent, oh I just love you all. Your selfless demeanor, and the giving of your time are so greatly appreciated. Yet, the best part is your willingness to share the many stories and experiences you have lived. You have a purpose and are loved.

To the 20-something adult, you are loved. It may seem as if life is constantly bringing about change, or figuring out how to make ends meet each month, or even deciding what you want to do with your life — live your best life. From my experience, the 20s were ridiculously challenging, but I also experienced the best moments of my life during this decade. You inspire me, even now well into middle-age.

To friends, you are important as ever. It does not matter if you are a lifelong friend or a later in life friend, you make life more enjoyable. Friends are beautiful people who listen, who uplift, who strengthen, who even can calm overreactions. You have a purpose and you inspire me.

A Standing Ovation

One of my favorite quotes from Auggie Pullman in the movie Wonder is, “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

I may not be able to give each one of you a standing ovation, but I want you to know:

You are LOVED.

You have a PURPOSE.

You are an INSPIRATION.

Sincerely,

Shelly

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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Is it a Tantrum or a Meltdown, and How can I Best Respond?

Is it a Tantrum or a Meltdown, and How can I Best Respond?

My daughter turned eight over the weekend. We had a small slumber party with her closest friends. But the day before the party, I threatened to cancel it altogether.

It’s not just toddlers that have tantrums, even older kids can lose their cool. This happens to Collyns at least once or twice a week.

She has strong feelings that take over her entire body. This happens when she is angry, hurt or frustrated. Sometimes for no reason, sometimes over homework, most of the time when it comes to cleaning up her messes. Usually, I try to ignore the tantrum but that rarely works. Then it’s timeout in her room which makes the tantrum louder and more destructive. So now we are trying something different.

Tantrums Vs. Meltdowns

After doing a little research, I found out that tantrums and meltdowns are different and handling them requires different approaches. They are both overwhelming for her and us as parents. I then reached out to her pediatrician, and she made me realize that learning how to deal with her anger without choosing destructive responses is critical. And understanding the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown helps us properly guide her through these intense times. As parents, our support and guidance matter greatly.

The doctor said that Collyns is most likely having a tantrum. She explained that “tantrums are a normal reaction or outburst to feeling anger or frustration, a cry for attention or an inability to communicate, within a child’s scope of awareness and control, and goal-oriented.”

The reason she said Collyns was having a tantrum and not a meltdown is because meltdowns are most common among children with sensory processing disorders, autism or other medical issues who are easily overstimulated or lack the ability to cope with emotional triggers such as fear or anxiety. Meltdowns are an instinctive survival reaction to being overstimulated or feeling distressed, and are not goal-oriented, meaning they are not affected by a reward system. Meltdowns are long-lasting; and children may never grow out of them like they do tantrums.

The doctor then continued to explain that once the reactive part of her brain has been triggered, the reasoning part of the brain is temporarily ‘offline’. So, explaining or rationalizing with her doesn’t work – the conflict is just likely to escalate. Which it does 99% of the time! So, in short, we have been dealing with her tantrums all wrong.

Learning to Deal With Tantrums

Being alone when she’s very upset doesn’t teach her what she needs to learn either. So, instead of sending her off into her room to calm down when she starts to lose it, we now stay with her and try to just restore a sense of safety. We found that if she feels safe, she can have a big cry, show you all those tears and fears she’s been stuffing down, and let them go. That helps her be more emotionally regulated in general. When having a tantrum, she needs to borrow my strength and calm. I remind myself to keep breathing, not to take anything she says or does personally, and of how much I love her.

Collyns is most certainly over-reacting. She stores up her feelings and waits for a safe place to discharge them and releases. She has a big “backpack” of pent-up emotion that needs to be released; she reacts to provocations that seem slight to me by having big meltdowns. So, while I may not see the reason for such a big reaction, I now see it as a chance to help her work through some feelings that she hasn’t been able to manage.

So now when she loses it, I try to stay calm, comfort her, and realize it’s the perfect time to turn a tantrum into a learning experience.

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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Talking to my Grandkids About Ukraine

Talking to my Grandkids About Ukraine

Every day, for over a month, I have been anxious to get more information about the war in Ukraine. Every day provides a change in the situation as Russia continues to cause uncertainty in Ukraine and around the world. Some news broadcasters believe the Russian aggression against their neighbors will continue to spread until Russia takes over the land they possessed before the USSR fell apart. While not all United States citizens are on the same page, it is the most unifying event we’ve had in years. As usual, I wondered where my grandchildren were in their understanding and support of Ukraine. I need to keep reminding myself, they are not retired and have school and work to occupy their minds. Here are a couple of their questions and a summary of our shared thoughts.

Asking Questions about Ukraine

“Can Putin just do this and get away with it?” My granddaughter isn’t the only one asking this question. Everyone around the world has a similar question. Putin’s bully behavior is nothing new, but it is getting us closer to another world war. Our discussion about another world war made them think about the Nazis. When they were in high school, WWII was studied but they never had a reason to make connections to events that were happening in their lives, in real-time. The comparison of Putin’s actions in Ukraine and his threat of nuclear bombs gave them pause.

Another question thrown to the group was, “How is this affecting us?” One grandkid quickly responded with, “When was the last time you filled your car up with gas?” We all giggled a little, but soon realized the connectedness of the world in which we live. My grandson is studying business and commented how all the stock markets around the world have plunged.

A granddaughter commented on the amount of humanitarian aid countries from all over the world are offering to Ukraine. “The aid is amazing and I’m sure greatly appreciated, but I wonder if, in the grand scale, it will be enough.” They wondered how they could help. They are all strapped for money so giving a monetary amount is not an option. I asked if there were any rallies, marches or prayer vigils they could lend their voices to. They agreed to look into it. I also reminded them to be welcoming to refugees, all refugees. My comment was followed with a, “Duh, grandma!!” Yep, my bad.

Staying Connected in Uncertain Times

I brought our conversation to a close with my most recent contact with a refugee from Ukraine. After I retired from education, I keep in contact with school kids by volunteering my time to TeamMates and the North Star ELL programs. It was pre-pandemic when I was linked with a North Star freshman who had arrived from Ukraine one week earlier. It was my charge to assist her in adapting to conversational English. Yullia could not speak a word of English and I, obviously could not speak Ukrainian. Soon, I realized we were teaching each other many things. We would walk around the building. I would point at an object (i.e., door) say the word, and Yuliia would translate it into Ukrainian on the app on her phone. We spent the entire year learning together and by its end, Yuliia no longer needed my assistance. She was amazing.

Telling the grandkids this story brought back many wonderful memories. I reminded all four of them there are many ways to connect with people and events around the world, but most importantly, they need to keep connected with me!

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.

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Finding Balance in a Busy Schedule

Finding Balance in a Busy Schedule

Do you ever just want to quit? Your heart is overwhelmed, the busyness is all-consuming. There are definitely seasons like this and for some, it happens more than others. Some of us can stop and look at the flowers, for others we stop, pick the flowers, run home, cut the stems at an angle and then arrange them in a vase.

Pause for a minute.

My parents rushed us from our weekend basketball tournaments to dropping my sibling off at volleyball practice, while I needed to get to my piano lesson before participating in both our late-night basketball games. My parents’ vehicle looks like a disaster from fast food wrappers to water bottles. Don’t forget our backpacks as my siblings and I try to catch up on homework in between activities.

If we believe our hearts are overwhelmed and busyness is consuming us…what about our own teenagers?

Overscheduled

Most days, if not all, I see teenagers (mine included) rushing from one activity to the next, overextending themselves in pursuit of social, academic, athletic and leadership opportunities. And, why? Because of grades; because of college; because they are told they have to; because they are told if they do not participate in year-round sports they will not find success; because their friends are doing it; because ______ (fill in the blank).

It is no wonder our teenagers are stressed both physically and mentally.

When I look back at the start of the global pandemic, everything just stopped. We were forced to declutter our lives. And honestly, some of those moments during the pandemic I hold closest to my heart. Our family spent time together completing puzzles, watching birds, gardening (or at least trying to garden) and even cooking. As we navigate into the new normal, it seems as if society is reverting back to rushing around from activity to activity. Our teenagers feel the pressure from all different angles to maintain their hectic schedules with no downtime.

Finding Balance

With our own overscheduled children, healthy conversations about commitments and truly understanding their passions helps create a healthy balance. Around our home, we also extend grace. If our kids want to sleep in, we let them sleep in. Their growing bodies need it. We protect two weeks of our summer where there can only be family commitments — no academic, athletic or social commitments. We talk about strategies to combat stress, especially when busy days occur.

As parents, we often step back and reflect on our own lives. My challenge is for parents to truly step back and reflect on the commitments they are asking of their children. Are the commitments we are asking of our children truly bringing them joy and providing the time to discover who they are?

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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Seamstress Not for Hire

Seamstress Not for Hire

There was a time when I could sew. There was a time when my sewing machine worked and not in need of repairs. There was a time when I had time…. No wait, I’m retired and have all the time in the world. I remember making our daughters clothes from actual patterns. I also made the granddaughters some clothes, but mostly costumes for the 4th grade trip to the one-room schoolhouse, or for Halloween trick and treating. I’m guessing I needed a project away from my daily education routine. I do know things have changed and I can barely see well enough to thread a needle.

Hemming My Grandaughter’s Dress

In the winter of 2021, my middle granddaughter wanted me to shorten a long formal she had worn in high school. She thought it was still cute and could possibly wear it in college. No problem. When she brought it over, the skirt of the dress was made of two types of tulle. Hemming the dress would be difficult as the material was so fine. Heck, the dress didn’t even have a hem. So together, we decided to cut it. She tried it on, I measured it in the front and we were confident we could do it. A makeover.

We cut the dress very slowly, as the material was difficult to cut even with a roller blade, but we were successful. When we finished, she tried on the dress. Looking at her when she made her way into the kitchen, I thought wow, we did a great job. Then she turned around. What the heck? I could see her underpants. We were so careful with our measurements, I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. Then I realized I had forgotten to take into account her little fanny. Even though it’s a little one, it no longer looked so little. The back of the dress went up at least two inches and was something she could wear if she worked at a naughty bar.

Seamstress No Longer for Hire

Last week, almost on the anniversary of my last sewing escapade, my youngest granddaughter asked if I would shorten the straps on her floor-length fancy dress. Thinking they would be small spaghetti straps, I quickly agreed, I’ve got this! Bring it on!! No such luck. The straps were not the thin strands of spaghetti, but they weren’t terrible. I would have to take a bit of care with the shortening them but I was confident.

Finding the right color of thread was my first hurdle. The dress was a green color, but not a normal green. I went to three different fabric stores before I found a match. Then, the straps had ruffles on the outer edge. How was I going to figure that out? I asked a friend for advice and I soon had a strategy.

I did need assistance from my husband to thread the needle and I was ready to go. And my sewing project was complete. Whew! Our youngest granddaughter hasn’t been home to try it on yet, but I believe shortening of the straps will work out. The only reason it wouldn’t meet her approval is if she grows two inches taller in the past three weeks.

I’m taking down my shingle for any major “sewing” tasks, but will continue to shorten straps. With these Grandma hands, they are no longer for hire.

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.

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My Child’s Friend

My Child’s Friend

If it hasn’t happened already, it probably will at some point: the moment you don’t like one of your child’s friends. What do you do?

I remember when I was growing up and my mom didn’t love me spending time with one of the girls in our neighborhood. She didn’t forbid me from being with her but didn’t encourage our get-togethers, either.

Eventually, I realized this friend wasn’t the right fit for me for several reasons, and the relationship fizzled. Years later, I wondered: How did my mom know?

Questioning Friendships

Recently, my son had a friend over. This friend was not very nice to my daughter and his attitude towards me made me question my feelings towards him. Granted it was a mild irritation. I found this friend annoying because he’s loud, destructive and the fact that he’s obviously never been taught to say please or thank you. It also made me worry that this friend may be a bad influence on Cohen.

A friend of mine recently said, “As long as my kids live in my house, I choose their friends.” And I don’t disagree. What I’m saying is this: There are a couple of things that a parent should and shouldn’t do when it comes to a child’s friends.

I choose not to verbally tell Cohen my feelings about his friend. I did not forbid him from hanging out with that friend. If I would say this out loud, Cohen is likely to blab, announcing publicly, “My parents say I’m not allowed to play with you!” This would make me seem mean and could cause conflict with the other child’s parents. It’s also possible that forbidding the friendship could make that friend seem more attractive to Cohen.

Forbidding Cohen seems a little bit overstepping. Unless he is in immediate, physical danger, trying to dictate who he can or can’t be friends with strips him of an important piece of autonomy (what’s more personal than our relationships?) and gets in the way of him learning to navigate the social world. If Cohen continues the friendship, even without my support, it creates a rift between us.

So, I decided that I needed to get to know the other child better and figure out what Cohen finds appealing about this friend. Most people have some likable qualities and discovering these might help me put my irritations in perspective. I try to keep in mind that children are constantly growing and changing, so the behaviors that annoyed me before may fade away as the friend matures.

Modeling Good Social Skills

Cohen doesn’t have a lot of close friends at his school, maybe just a handful. So, I’ve found that laying compliments on thick for my son’s friends who are well-mannered, responsible and kind, tends to be a successful tactic. This is part of those subliminal messages I’m sending to his brain, so he’ll start to feel that emotional reward deep inside his brain when he’s hanging around the “good” kids (the ones I like) and will eventually – God-willing – start to be turned off by the other kids. Instead of discouraging playdates with the kid I don’t like, I went out of my way to set up playdates with his friends that I do like. The goal here is to help Cohen nourish those positive friendships.

You don’t necessarily have to love everyone who your child chooses to befriend, but by being a gracious host, you support your child and model good social skills. A side benefit is that you can keep an eye on things if you have concerns about the friend’s behavior. For example, if things start to get heated, you can diffuse tensions by asking, “Who wants a snack?” or “How about going outside?”

If there’s something that the other child does that annoys you, it may help to explain your rules. Different families have different ways of doing things, and it’s not fair to be angry at a child for failing to respect your rules when you haven’t said anything, so he doesn’t even know what those rules are. Fuming silently will cause your resentment to build and won’t change what the child does.

Listening To Your Gut

Lastly, I listen to my kids and my gut. I ask questions about their friends. Moms can pick up on the very slightest detail being off if we’ll just listen. Cohen is such a sweetheart and has a good head on his shoulders, he needs to discover what friends work in his life. However, I set boundaries at our home to keep him safe, until he’s mature enough to loosen the reigns a bit and to make sure he’s showing kindness. He is smart enough to know that this friend has good qualities and bad qualities and likely knows better than to let those bad qualities rub off on him.

Ultimately, my goal is for my kids to make wise choices in their friendships.

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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Thursdays with My Grandson

Thursdays with My Grandson

I’ve always enjoyed the playdates I had with my grandkids when they were young. Those were the good old days when they had time to come over to our house and play. We did artwork with the help of Michael’s art store. The theme of most creative pieces centered around the next holiday. I never knew how long the artwork lasted once the kids took them home. It didn’t really matter, as the purpose of our playdates were to play and be with each other. We loved getting together in the warm months swimming or hiking in Wilderness Park. Boo at the Zoo was always a winning event, one I still enjoy. Then there were the hours spent at our farm, no matter what the season. Scoping out frogs in the pond, driving the 4-wheeler and sledding were huge hits. Making s’mores around the little fire was always a hit. What could be better than marshmallows and chocolate? Now that I think about all those memories, maybe the playtime was more for my benefit than theirs. I wonder.

Staying Connected As My Grandkids Get Older

Right now, my grandson is the only one of my grandkids still living in Lincoln. My granddaughters are still in regular contact with me, and I’m glad Zoom and FaceTime are pieces of technology I understand. I’m appreciative they all are willing to participate in our frequent “gatherings”. Actually, I probably “see” them more now than when they were in high school.

I’ve learned playdates to swim or go to the movies are no longer on our list of things to do together. I have learned to adjust and still get my time with him. That statement sounds a little selfish, and yes, I’m guilty. The selfishness is selfishly aligned with the need to get help from him. I’ve found I need more help around the house, the yard and at the farm. Having help with moving big pieces of furniture, climbing ladders, etc. has been a big help to us! With my grandson’s work schedule and school schedule, he doesn’t have a lot of time, but we’ve discovered early Thursday afternoons work for both of us.

Grandson Thursdays

This week was no exception in my need for assistance. I have a new used car which we purchased from my husband’s sister. It’s a great small SUV with many bells and whistles but limited instructions. Or, I should say, limited instructions that I can understand. I had previously made a list of my new, used auto needs – syncing my phone to the car, identifying my favorite contacts, setting my radio stations, opening the back hatch with my foot, just to name a few. When I gave my grandson my list, he first gave me a questioning look, which reminded me of a kid saying to the old grandma, “You really don’t know how to do this?” Or “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He quickly adjusted his look and just smiled saying, “Let’s get started.”

I was in awe of his ability to navigate the instructions and prompts the car gave him. I kept asking him, how did you do that? He just smiled and slowly talked me through each of the steps. I discovered he is not only strong but smart with technology. He was not afraid to explore the dashboard screens, understood the language and enjoyed helping me.

I value my Grandson Thursdays and look forward to seeing him each week. One last thing, I do bribe him by sending him home with all of our leftovers from the week. Maybe that’s why he is so eager to help me during my selfish times of need.

Maybe I should have called this Blog, A Grandson’s Thursdays with the Old Lady Who Gives Me Food.

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.

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Is She Trying?

Is She Trying?

School is supposed to be a fun time where children learn new and exciting things about themselves and the world around them. But sometimes children can lack motivation in school and not give it their best effort. As parents, all we want is to see our children succeed in life and that starts with school.

2 – Approaches district expectations.

That’s what I saw on most of my daughter’s report card. But this wasn’t a surprise. At parent/teacher conferences, I knew she was struggling. When I met with her 2nd grade teacher, we talked about a plan and identified the areas where she was not applying herself.

So, I wonder, is she trying? Does she care?

Setting Achievable Goals

Do you remember when you were in school, how overwhelmed you would feel with a big project or test? Maybe Collyns might be feeling too overwhelmed to do any schoolwork. So, we decided to help her by setting achievable goals that she can hit. Breaking something big into smaller milestones is a tool she has enjoyed and will use her whole life. Smaller goals make her feel accomplished and inspire her to continue working to keep this feeling up.

We started small. We decided she needed extra help in reading. She now works with a para and has a fluency folder – which is a 1-minute read at home every night, over the course of the week. She gets books from the library that she seems to enjoy reading. But to be truthful, she still hates it. She also has a hard time with reading comprehension. She tends to rush through her tests and guess on the questions rather than look for text evidence. She again despises these tests and wants them over with and so she doesn’t seem to care. During these tests, her teacher reminds her to slow down and focus and the task on hand.

Working Together at Home

At home, we also work on her spelling words. She likes using a dry-erase board to work on her list instead of pencil and paper. At night we work on 5 words from her 15-word list, so she isn’t overwhelmed with the entire list every night. Then the night before her test we work on the words she questioned during the week.

We continue to help her with math. Even though every night seems to be a fight she tries and eventually finishes the problems. She seems to understand the lesson that they are working on but must be reminded. Recently, I started to set a timer for 5 minutes. She must see how much math homework she can do correctly in the time. Most of the time she gets it done and looks at me and says, “that didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” She continues to gain confidence in her work. If she is overwhelmed, we take a break. I don’t make her do all her work in one setting if she becomes frustrated.

How you represent school and learning in your house is how your child is going to view school overall. So, if you are yelling or disciplining your child for doing bad on a test or report card, they may start to resent school and stop trying!

We’ve all done it. Used the threat of taking away something our child loves in order to try and motivate them. ‘If you don’t start doing your homework in the next 10 minutes, there will be no iPad after dinner.’

I’ve learned that doesn’t help motivate Collyns. It makes her angrier. If she starts her homework with a bad attitude, it will take her twice as long and it will most likely end with me yelling and her in tears. She will continue to hate school and feel less confident and continue to not try either at home or in class.

Staying Positive

This is not how I want her to see school. Instead, I remind myself every night to remain positive, talk about what she is doing well and see why she thinks she is not doing well in other subjects. I try not to talk down to her, but instead be the positive force she needs in her life. Fingers crossed, some of these strategies will pay off for the spring semester.

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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