A Blog for My Husband

A Blog for My Husband

This blog is written for my husband. Most fathers don’t receive the credit they deserve. Well, at least mine doesn’t. When we got married nine years ago, we decided to have kids right away. We just didn’t think it would happen quite so fast. We were thrown into parenthood at the age of 24 and on our first wedding anniversary we had a one-month-old. My husband thrived as a dad. When our daughter was born we thought we had this parenting this down. And then we thought “why not add more to our plate!” Read More

How Can You Stop Frustration and Share Joy?

How Can You Stop Frustration and Share Joy?

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

Frustration Wins the Day

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

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

Learning to Slow Down

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

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

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

● Appreciate the positives.

● Focus on what I can accomplish at this moment.

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

● Share joy.

● Extend grace to others and to myself.

● Be curious and keep absorbing new ideas.

● Be thankful.

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

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

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

Am I Pushing My Kids Too Hard?

Am I Pushing My Kids Too Hard?

We all want what’s best for our children. But our idea of what’s best for them might not always be what they want. Recently, I’ve noticed myself giving my children little nudges towards the decision I think is correct and what they should make. Now I’m trying to find that delicate balance between encouraging and pushing too hard.

When my son was younger, we made the decision to wait until he was in kindergarten to enroll him in any kind of sports or activities. Now, he’s in second grade and continues to play soccer, and loves it. However, my daughter wanted to take gymnastics. She’s 4 years old and just started preschool. We enrolled her this summer and she seemed to enjoy it and was actually pretty good (that’s not just a mom being proud of her daughter, she was actually good for her age). But now she doesn’t want to do gymnastics, she wants to dance. I’m torn because I want her to stay in gymnastics, but she’s only 4…how big of push should I give her?

I believe getting my kids to do things that are challenging for them will teach them grit and flexibility while also widening their worldview; whether it’s participating in sports, trying out for a play or engaging in any new social situation. But, you always hear famous athletes, singers, dancers say they’ve been doing this talent since they could walk. I see talent in both my children. Shouldn’t I push them to see their potential? My fear is that pushing my children too far can cause them to retreat inward, become resentful or develop even greater anxiety about trying new things.

Is it in their best interest if I push?

I push Cohen academically, urging him to study harder in school. I also push him to try new things and meet new people. I think it gives Cohen a sense of confidence and accomplishment when getting through something fun but challenging. I realized that the most important factor is knowing when and how much to push by thinking about their personality. If I’m met with resistance, then it might be time to examine how my motivations for pushing him in a certain direction. Cohen is older and more outgoing than my daughter Collyns. She is more reserved and I’m worried about pushing her too hard.

So should I push her more?

I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I made. When I was younger I participated in clogging, baton twirling, basketball, volleyball, track, swimming, gymnastics…I did it all! I want her to find something she loves and sticks with it. But how can she find something she wants to do unless I enroll her in all the different activities? But again, she’s only 4!

When it came to gymnastics practice, I repeatedly asked Collyns if she wanted to go and her response was NO every time. So, even though we paid for the month, we didn’t make her go. I felt she might be feeling too pressured, and it was important for me to take a step back. I didn’t want her to feel overwhelmed. I praised her for trying something new and told her how successful she was at gymnastics. I guess it’s on to dance class!

I don’t want either of my kids to feel pressured, especially from me, but I do want them to realize that if they commit to something they should at least try. My goal is to motivate them and help them along the way, even if it’s with a little push.

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!

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

The list of famous men accused of sexual harassment these past few months seems endless. At first, because of their fame and presence on our screens, the *#MeToo movement almost felt like it was happening in another world. But it wasn’t. Local marches and discussions, even in Lincoln, Nebraska, showed us that it’s everywhere. No one knows if this is part of a revolution or if the #MeToo movement will pass. Despite that, I think it was important to talk about it with my grandkids.

Don’t Worry Grandma

Recently, I met up with my grandkids for lunch for one last gathering before the new school year and their days fill up with class, clubs, sports and other new challenges. I was curious to learn if my granddaughters knew about the #MeToo movement and if they knew how they would respond to sexual harassment. Would they confront the person? Would they share their story with a friend or adult? Would they feel comfortable sharing it with their parents? I also wondered about my grandson. Is he prepared to act if he encounters harassment or assault either towards himself or another person?

I also wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about the #MeToo movement and tell them the story of Tarana Burke, who’s 2006 story of sexual assault and advocacy started the #MeToo movement. After listening to a young woman share her sexual assault story, Tarana, a sexual assault survivor herself, didn’t know what to say. Later, she wished she would have said, “me, too.” This is how the #MeToo movement began.

When I brought up the #MeToo movement during lunch that day my oldest granddaughter said, “Don’t worry about it grandma. We’ve got it figured out.” They wanted to share their excitement over the new school year, laughing and teasing each other, not talk about sexual violence. I get it. This wasn’t the time for grandma’s serious talk. So, I let it go.

What Was In It for Me?

Maybe I wanted to have this discussion because of my life as an educator. My eagerness to make sure all students are safe and taken care of is important to me. But mostly I care about having a plan to help young people deal with sexual harassment and assault. The plan can’t always be carried out exactly as planned, but I feel better when there’s something we can look to in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to this with my grandkids that day, but that’s okay.

Or, maybe I wanted to have this discussion because I’m a nosy grandma? I really was curious to hear where my grandkid’s minds were on this topic.

Lastly, maybe I wanted to have this discussion because it’s on my mind. I don’t want it to be lost in the never-ending news cycle.

It’s Out of My Control

What’s funny is, I used to worry about my grandkids falling off bicycles or climbing too high on the playground equipment. I still worry about them every day, but what I’m worried about has changed. I’m not in control when it comes to their response to the #MeToo movement. I’m confident that their parents have helped them prepare for the future, but it’s not up to me. I have to take a deep breath and trust that they will do their best, just as they’ve always done.

It’s always been my belief that change doesn’t happen until there’s a crisis. Society needs to shift in order to disrupt the narrative around sexual violence to make the changes we need. Tarana Burke said, “If in this country, we had an outbreak of some communicable disease that 12 million people got in a 24-hour period, we would be focused solely on the cure. That’s the difference in how people think about the disease of sexual violence.”

*Please note, I may not have used the correct way to address the movement, #MeToo. Sorry, I don’t have any idea what a hashtag stands for or means. Guess I’ll need to ask my grandkids!

If you or a loved one needs help after a serious trauma such as sexual assault, the Bryan Medical Center emergency department offers specially trained, discrete sexual assault nurse examiners who can help. The Bryan Counseling Center also offers compassionate counselors who work specifically with those who have endured serious trauma or abuse.

To schedule an appointment with the Bryan Counseling Center, call 402-481-5991.

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.

The Importance of Student Organizations

The Importance of Student Organizations

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

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

Join the Parade

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

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

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

Develop Soft Skills

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

Explore Interests

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

Develop Leadership Skills

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

Unfold a Purpose

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

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

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

What Anxiety Feels Like When You’re a Mom

What Anxiety Feels Like When You’re a Mom

Today has been a rough day. No wait, it’s been a rough couple of weeks! Recently, anxiety told me I couldn’t be a mom, wife, daughter, friend or co-worker. Some days it brings me to my knees and makes me cry for hours. It makes me hide in my room, afraid for my husband and kids to see me so upset. Anxiety makes me believe I’m not good enough.

When It Gets to Be Too Much

Recently, the stress of my job, daily life, and being an organized wife and mother brought me to tears. I cried out for help from my husband and my mother. As a mom, I struggle with the daily demands. I think of myself as a very organized person. But some days I just want to throw the toys in the air, that I just picked up, and say no.

I asked myself why. Why do I have to be the one who pays the bills? Signs the kids up for activities and takes them to doctor’s appointments? Why do I have to lay their clothes out for the week ahead? Make sure their homework is done? It just kept going and I needed help.

Asking for Help

My husband witnessed my meltdown and was frustrated. Not necessarily at me, but he’d never seen me this overwhelmed. He thought he did something wrong. However, it was just the stress of my daily life. My husband realized he needed to step in and help. He asked my mom to watch the kids for an hour so we could sit down and figure out how I could be less stressed.

After deciding what my husband could take off my plate and realizing that I could ask for help, I felt relieved. I could breathe again and not be so caught up in my head with the constant: “Now I need to do this, then I need to do this and don’t forget about this, but first finish this.”

Take Time for You

I want others to know that even though someone appears put together on the outside, we are all struggling with things on the inside. There’s no such thing as perfect. Some anxiety is easier to deal with than others. Mine was realizing I could and need to ask for help.

Some other moms I talked to about dealing with anxiety suggest a form of therapy. Activities like meditation, acupuncture, meditation, exercising, journaling or visiting with a therapist can really help.  The moral of this story? Remember to take the time to care for you, and never be afraid to reach out for help when needed.

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!

Remember there is help and there is hope. If you’re concerned about overcoming anxiety, Bryan Health has the support you need. Take our free, confidential online screening now.

If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, what would you do?

If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, what would you do?

You have the power to prevent cancer your child could get later in life

The dog days of summer are upon us and my family of six has spent countless days at the pool, baseball games and summer camps. Now a new school year is starting, and it’s a good time to make sure our children are up to date on their check-ups with the doctor, dentist and optometrist. As a parent of kids ranging in ages from eight to 13, this year also included discussions about the importance of getting the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention.

What is HPV, and how does it lead to cancer?

HPV stands for the human papillomavirus. It includes a group of more than 150 related viruses. Some types of HPV can cause warts or papillomas, which are non-cancerous. Most of the time our body’s natural immune systems can fight off the infections the virus can cause. But, some types of HPV cause cancer in both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer, and nearly all cases of pre-cervical cancers. It also causes many vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, throat and tongue cancers.

As I began to learn more about HPV, I found myself wondering how common is the virus. What I found was astounding:

  • Each year in the United States 31,500 people are diagnosed with a cancer related to an HPV infection.
  • The virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Any man or woman who has ever had sex, including vaginal, anal or oral, can get the virus.
  • Four out of five people will have HPV at some point in their lives, according to the latest estimates. The virus is so common that the best way to prevent an HPV infection is to get vaccinated.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

This is the first thing I wanted to know after hearing about this cancer prevention vaccine! I felt comforted knowing that more than 270 million doses have been given around the world since 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As a registered nurse, I understand any vaccination has potential side effects. Yet many people who get the HPV vaccine report no side effects. Potential side effects of the HPV vaccine have been mild like other vaccines. The HPV vaccine is approved by the CDC, and like all vaccines, receives ongoing monitoring.

So how can I prevent cancers that my kids could get later in life?

As a cancer nurse navigator and a mom of four children, I was very interested in the current recommendations to prevent HPV related cancers. I started by having a conversation with our family doctor. I learned my kids could receive the two series vaccination (six-12 months apart), as early as age nine or ten. The CDC highly recommends kids be vaccinated at ages 11 or 12, as that is when the vaccine has been shown to be the most effective. If a child starts the vaccination series between the ages of 15-26, a third vaccination is recommended.

The HPV vaccine prevents infections from nine HPV types that cause HPV cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, receiving the vaccine before being exposed to the virus can prevent up to 90% of HPV cancers!

As I was making doctor’s appointments for my kids, my almost 11-year-old son openly shared his disgust in having yet another “shot” scheduled with his upcoming appointment. This brought up a great moment to have a conversation about the purpose of this vaccine in preventing certain cancers later in life. He has heard many of my stories over the years of people struggling with cancer. He asked several great questions about the vaccine, and I didn’t hear him complain again.

A week later his sister was giving him a hard time that he was the ONLY kid who needed a shot this year. He promptly responded, “I’d rather have a two-second sting than a cancer that I didn’t need to have!” Proud mom moment!

I have had the personal experience of caring for patients with HPV related cancers. With this new cancer prevention vaccine, I feel so lucky to live during a time where these types of cancers could be greatly reduced or even eliminated in my kids’ generation!

My suggestion for parents is to talk with your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine, and to your children about why “another shot” is so important. For more information, check out the links below.



*Information for this blog provided by American Cancer Society.

Carmen Orr

Carmen Orr

RN, Cancer Nurse Navigator

Carmen Orr is a Bryan Medical Center oncology nurse navigator, which is a  specially trained nurses who are here to help you and your family through each step of your cancer journey.

How Important is the HPV Vaccine?

Listen to our podcast with Dr. Philip Boucher, a pediatrician with Lincoln Pediatric Group, to learn more about the importance of the HPV vaccine, research done on its effectiveness and tips on talking to your child about why they are getting the vaccine.

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

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

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

Teaching My Family About Healthy Living

Teaching My Family About Healthy Living

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

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