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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From Generation to Generation

From Generation to Generation

The Holiday season was a great one for our family. All the grandkids make it back to Lincoln. We were together for Christmas and the following week. We laughed, we talked about what was going on in our lives and they even had time to help me take down some of the decorations. They joked about some of our treasured tree decorations their moms made at our church Advent Party. As the grandkids were taking the tubs of decorations to our basement they decided they wanted to play pool. It’s been a long time since they’ve played but they were all anxious to see if their skills were any better. We divided into teams and the game was on.

We soon realized my grandson was a tad better than the rest of us. I couldn’t figure out why until he told us his friend has a pool table and he plays once a week. After that comment, we all wanted to be on his team. They are just competitive enough to keep it interesting.

My grandson noted our pool table was very old compared to his friend’s. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to share the story of our pool table.

Grandparents Generosity

My grandfather and grandmother lived on a farm outside of Crete and one year in the late ‘20s or early ‘30s, they were visited by a family from Illinois. During the visit, they had a car accident and their daughter was severely injured. I soon realized the grandkids hadn’t listened as intently to me as they were now since I read to them the story, Peter Rabbit. The visiting family had to return to their farm in Illinois, so they left their daughter with my Grandparents until she had recovered from her injuries and could manage the return trip home. My grandparents were very giving and were anxious to help out. After months of rest and rehabilitation, the family from Illinois returned to pick up their daughter. Much to my grandparents’ surprise, the family brought their old slate pool table with them, which they offered as payment for taking care of their daughter. Medicare should be this good!

My grandkids were enthralled with the story, so I continued. When my grandparents moved into Crete, they didn’t have room for it in their small home, so they gave the table to my parents. When my parents eventually moved into a senior living complex, our home was the only one big enough for the table so we were lucky enough to receive it.

Generations of Love

All four grandkids were amazed at the generosity of my grandparents, amazed at the age of the pool table and politely asked who would receive the pool table next. I laughed and said we weren’t ready to pass it on quite yet, but it would be something I’d think about soon. We talked about the generations it was in our family. How each of those generations is kept firmly together because of one single act of kindness. Stories are many and they will continue with our family connections. We all agreed these family generational connections surround us, shelter us and uphold us each and every day. This conversation was the best Holiday gift ever, unwrapped and from the heart.

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 Joy in Cooking

Finding Joy in Cooking

I find joy in many aspects of my life. However, at the beginning of December, I was DONE. I was done finding joy. The joy in cooking, that is. I LOATHE cooking. Who in the world should expect a healthy meal for lunch, supper and breakfast, anyways? I hate recipes that tell you what to do and then all of a sudden it burns. I hate searching Google or looking through Pinterest boards with perfectly made meals. Here’s a thought, maybe I should start my own Pinterest board, “The Epic Recipe Fails” or “This Board of Really Cool Meals That Never Turn Out.” All of this over a pan of burnt muffins. At that moment (which also includes many days) for me, there is no joy in cooking.

Cooking Failures

I have had a long line of baking and cooking failures. There is the squash soup, the black-looking potato soup, the evaporated beef (a.k.a. roast), and the infamous “iPad brownie”.

There is my friend who can just dump food and spices together and her meals turn out amazingly. And then there is my husband’s secretary who can take any array of leftovers and create a delicious concoction. I have tried these cooking techniques but they don’t bode well for my family.

How many times could one person – namely me – possibly fail. There has to be a point where success shows up, to encourage me to keep trying. Just as Julia Child said, “Cooking is one failure after another, and that’s how you finally learn.”

Finding Success in the Kitchen

I keep failing over and over. However, for some odd reason, my family likes healthy lunches and suppers and for that reason, I keep trying.

Over Christmas break, a successful evening in the kitchen finally happened. During the meal prep process, I was so excited about how well everything was going, I even set out our table with our best chinaware. I actually prepared a meal with all the food groups represented for our family. The best part of the evening was the rave reviews from my children and husband. The only complaint, I did not season the mashed potatoes with enough salt. I actually needed the success of this night to encourage me to keep getting back into the kitchen. A tiny amount of joy.

Fail over and over and at some point, success will happen.

Two days later, I went back to the kitchen to try creating another meal. My mind was filled with a little apprehension as I prepared a prime rib meal for the first time. I even set out our best chinaware again. Success happened again. As we gathered around the table, there were smiles and my heart was filled with a small amount of joy.

I will fail, fail again, and then will fail some more. However, at some point, there will be a tiny cooking success. And at this moment there is actually joy in cooking.

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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Looking at All Sides of an Issue

Looking at All Sides of an Issue

I read the following the other day and I thought it made a great deal of sense as I wonder what my grandkids are thinking about today’s world:

You can give them your love, but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

-Kahil Gilbran

I don’t follow a prophet’s advice all the time, but I do try to keep an open mind. The 2020 election, the state and national political divisions, climate change, racial equality and women’s rights are all issues where I hold strong feelings. As a public educator, it was always important not to share my thoughts about certain subjects without acknowledging all points of view. While teaching in the classroom or working with parents, teachers or community members, it could certainly be a challenge. Sometimes it was difficult for me to hold my tongue, but I did for the most part because it was my job. In our present political climate, things have changed and I wonder if I would have been as successful as I was in the good old days. This quote got me to thinking about my grandkids.

Recognizing My Beliefs are Not My Grandkids’ Beliefs

I have never been hesitant to talk to the grandkids about politics or the real world, but I never really felt like I had to visit with them about issues. Somehow I just assumed they held the same beliefs I did. Kind of like an inherited gene. My mantra has always been to let the grandkids determine for themselves where they stand on issues which are important to them. They will sometimes ask me about a protest sign they see in my garage or pictures of me participating in a march. When they were much younger, they would always join me in the MLK march from the NU Union to the Capital. Or more recently a couple of the granddaughters marched with me voicing our beliefs on women’s rights.

Over the past four years, things have changed. I started seeing how the political division is tearing some families apart and I got a little concerned. I didn’t think our family would have problems, but on the other hand, I didn’t really know.

Where We Stood on Current Events

A couple of weeks ago, my grandson asked me my opinion of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Wow! A question that wasn’t related to sports? I was excited to discuss it with him but also knew not to tread too heavily with my thoughts without knowing where this conversation could lead. I told him I was disappointed with the verdict and stopped there and waited and waited.

My grandson stated he agreed with me, but it was his understanding that Wisconsin’s laws may have been written in such a way that supported the final verdict.

The Rittenhouse discussion then lead to other important issues happening in the United States and the world. He’s beginning to see how his income does not always meet his needs. I asked him for more information. Without giving me details of how much he earns, what his cost of living is, etc., he said it’s tough but he does have a budget he follows. He remarked at how someone can go into a pro sports program and make millions of dollars and be the same age. Our grandson, the quiet introvert, questioned the fairness of what the pro player was doing to benefit our society. Another great thought!

Looking at All Sides of an Issue

Thanks to LPS staff for training my grandkids and all students not to just read and listen to one source, but to look at all sides of an issue with multiple resources. Learning to talk civilly to each other, asking questions and sharing thoughts without getting upset is an essential skill. We can learn from each other! As one who is concerned about where we are going as a society, my grandson gives me hope and thoughts of pride!

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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Continuing My Mom’s Tradition of Giving

Continuing My Mom’s Tradition of Giving

Generosity. As defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: characterized by a noble or kindly spirit; having an abundance.

As we begin this holiday season, this third season without my mom, I can feel the presence of my mom working through my hands and my heart.

Appreciating What My Mom Did for Us

Growing up, did my mom go overboard during the Christmas season? Absolutely. Did she go overboard with the gifts? Absolutely. Did she go overboard with food? Oh goodness, absolutely. Did she go overboard in the generosity department? Absolutely. And, this is why I am grateful. You see, I may not have appreciated my mom’s gift prior to being an adult, but she was extremely generous with the giving of her time and quilting.

One Christmas mom quilted 13 quilts for every person in our family. The prior Christmas she created 11 different quilts for a family of 12. She also created one special quilt to be given to each aunt on my dad’s side for 11 consecutive years. Before her illness, she also found time to spend with her sisters and mom making quilts. Generosity in the purest form.

How Quilting Keeps Me Connected to My Mom

It took me well into my adult life to fully appreciate the detail, the time, and the love it took to make a single quilt. My mom tried to teach me multiple times to quilt…I just did not have the patience. I did however become a pro at pressing material. Mom also sat down with both of our girls to teach them the basics of sewing.

Unbeknownst to us, this was all part of a bigger plan that would show up years later. I am far from being the master quilter, but I am trying. With the help of a dear friend, who loves to quilt and shows an exuberant amount of patience, I jumped the fear hurdle. I am not sure if it was the daunting idea of such a huge project, but I pulled out my mom’s sewing machine and her material to make a quilt book for a little girl who is incredibly special to our family.

Making Quilts of My Own

Just as my mom gave of her time to make beautiful quilts, I know it is not about the quilt itself. I realize it is all about the quality time I am spending with my daughter and friend. It is about the imperfect sewing lines that make this project special. It is about the smile I envision on Nicklyn’s face when she plays with her quiet book as I make each cut, sew each piece or even use the seam ripper. It is about the love in my hands and the joy in my heart, knowing I am creating something special, which is exactly what my mom did each new year.

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.

You may also like

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