Ways to Make Summer Reading Not Feel Like Homework

Ways to Make Summer Reading Not Feel Like Homework

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

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

How to Make Summer Reading Not Feel Like Homework

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

Find Programs that Have Worked Previously

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

Make a Plan

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

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

Set Goals

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

Make Reading a Family Event

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

Make it Fun

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

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

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

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

My Husband’s “Me” Time

My Husband’s “Me” Time

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

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

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

“Me” Time or Family Time

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

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

Getting on the Same Page

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

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

Dedicating Time to Each Other

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

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

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

Adventure is Out There

Adventure is Out There

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

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

“Yes, let’s go.”

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

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

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

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

Our Family Adventure

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

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

Plastic Surgery after Babies…Yay or Nay?

Plastic Surgery after Babies…Yay or Nay?

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

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

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

Finding Pride in a Mother’s Body

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

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

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

The Pros and Cons of Having Plastic Surgery

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

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

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

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

Schedule Your Free Consultation

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

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

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

5 Things I Want My Teenage Daughter to Know

5 Things I Want My Teenage Daughter to Know

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

Things I Want My Teenage Daughter to Know

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

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

There Will Be Limitless Questions

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

Value Your Friendships

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

Challenge Yourself

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

Chase A Dream

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

Save

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

Becoming an Adult is Hard

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

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

Where Did All My Friends Go? Maintaining Friendships After Parenthood

Where Did All My Friends Go? Maintaining Friendships After Parenthood

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

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

Or maybe I’m just too tired.

Whatever it is, it’s a problem.

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

Practices, Play Dates and Parties, Oh My!

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

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

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

Finding the Time for Friends

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

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

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

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

Striking a Balance

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

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

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

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

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

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

Can you eat too much Salmon or Tilapia?

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

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

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

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

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

What about mercury?

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

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

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

What about sushi?

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

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

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

The following table sums it up nicely!

Advice for eating fish.

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

What is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor?

Benjamin Byers, DO

Benjamin Byers, DO

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist

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

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

Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

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

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

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

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

Restarting the Family Book Club

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

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

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

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

Our “Becoming” Moments

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

How to Get Ready for Prom

How to Get Ready for Prom

I remember it like it was yesterday: the curled pigtails, the little white dress, the big smile, the small basket of flowers. Our daughter looked like a princess walking down the aisle with the other flower girl and ring bearer. I remember saying to my husband, “Before we know it, she will be going to her high school prom.”

Even though she’ll always be my little girl, that time has come, and she is looking forward to one of the highlights of her junior year—prom.

A Prom Mom’s Prep List

I’m very well-versed in this prom stuff. This will be the twentieth prom my husband and I will attend together—three as high school sweethearts and seventeen as prom/class sponsors. But it’s my first year as a “prom mom,” and I am learning that a lot goes into preparing for the day and that it can be an expensive night.

In the midst of all of the craziness that goes into the night, I want to make sure we help make our daughter’s first prom a great high school experience. With that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Lesson 1: Start preparing early.

I didn’t want our daughter to procrastinate on finding a dress. We started shopping the summer before prom because there was an off-season dress sale. We had no intention of buying a dress that day. My daughter wanted to peruse and find a style she liked. Luckily, she found something she liked and didn’t feel rushed to make a decision. Often when we rush, we end up spending more money.

Along with buying and altering the dress early, I encouraged our daughter to schedule her nail and hair appointments ahead of time to help eliminate unnecessary anxiety.

Lesson 2: Create a budget that works for your family and communicate this budget with your teenager.

We told our daughter she has a certain amount of dollars allocated to prom. We were willing to pay for the dress, shoes, hair stylist and corsage. She will be responsible for all other expenses. Communicating the budget to our daughter has been an integral part of this experience. By giving her a spending limit, she was conscientious about staying under budget.

A helpful tip: buy your prom dress in the off-season to save money.

Lesson 3: Don’t forget the details.

Prom is right around the corner, and we’re starting to have conversations about our expectations for the evening. We’ll be setting a curfew and discussing what it means to make wise choices. I want her to know the importance of making wise choices to ensure she has a memorable yet safe experience.

Also, many adults will have a part in making this day a memorable experience, and I’m encouraging our daughter to be diligent in thanking them.

My Little Girl

Life moves pretty fast. After our daughter’s hair and makeup are done, and she puts on her navy dress, she’ll be ready to dance the evening away. I’ll probably smile and envision my little princess with her curly pigtails once again.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

Breaking Through to My Grandkids

Breaking Through to My Grandkids

For many reasons, communicating with teenaged grandkids can be difficult. I know I’m a lucky grandma because my grandkids live near me in Lincoln. However, I still don’t get a chance to see them as often as I would like, and even though I can see my grandkids every day, I may not be communicating very well. As my grandkids continue to get older and become more independent, I’m finding that I need to adjust my expectations to stay in touch.

Feeling Out of the Loop

I always thought of myself as adaptable, but adjusting to less communication with my grandkids was not something I ever anticipated.

My grandkids’ lives are different than they were in elementary and middle school. Now, they’re on their phones, they drive, they work, they study, they’re in sports, and sometimes they even have a “special” friend. I am not complaining! All my grandkids are growing into hard-working, young adults and they make me proud each and every day. However, maintaining quality conversations amongst all these distractions is hard.

I assumed my grandkids would always want to see their grandma and tell her what was going on in their lives. I still think my grandkids want to see me and talk to me, but I’m now competing for other things that need their attention like school, work and friends. I get it. These are life skills, which will turn them into wonderful, caring adults but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

In the Good Ol’ Days

As I write this blog, I’m reflecting back on my days as a teenager and my relationship with my grandparents. (Hmm, maybe I should have reflected on this before I started writing this blog!)

My greatest memories of my grandparents were when I was in elementary school. I would help my maternal grandmother work in her garden and she’d let me eat peas right out of the pods. I’m sure I made a dent in her yield! I remember visiting my paternal grandparents’ farm and learning how to collect eggs from the chicken coup. Collecting eggs, while avoiding the chicken poop, was always a challenge.

When I grew up and started high school, there were movies to see and friends to meet at the swimming pool or on the ice pond for skating. And, yes, I even did some studying. Come to think of it, maybe things aren’t so different?

Turning the Corner

There is something different now: technology. The phones, the texting, the instant communication has made it easier than ever to stay within arm’s length. So, maybe I don’t have it so bad after all? My grandkids don’t usually initiate a text, but they always respond when I send one.

This blog is certainly not ending as I intended. I think I’m ending it with my first, and maybe only, New Year’s resolution, albeit a little late. From now on, I’ll text each grandkid at least three times a week, but rather than telling them what I’m doing, or asking them questions about their day, I will just send them a positive statement. Something like what my grandparents said to me:

  • I’m grateful for you.
  • You have great ideas.
  • I love being your grandma.
  • I believe in you.
  • You are important.
  • You make me proud.

I’m not going to feel sorry for myself that I can’t speak to my grandkids as much as I want. I feel loved, needed and eager to show my grandkids how much I love them. Some things may have changed, but luckily some things will always be the same.

So, forget the Debbie Downer form of me in the first part of this blog. Focus on the positives, love your grandkids, and remember, you’ll need to change just as much as 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.

Five Tips for a Successful Snow Day

Five Tips for a Successful Snow Day

Snow days — I love them and I hate them — despite the sheer joy at hearing the early morning news about a snow day. According to our three kids, I was “that” mom today. You know “that” mom who makes all of her children do their chores. “That” mom who makes her children do their homework. “That” mom who is crabby all day long.

Snow Day Expectations

My kids and I had different expectations of what our snow day should look like. Each of them had their day planned out from playing video games to staying curled up in blankets to watching movies. My expectations were a little different.

According to my children, I was the ONLY mom in the entire state requiring kids to do chores and homework all day long on a snow day. One would have thought I asked all three kids to write a dissertation. For about two hours “that” mom surfaced and so did frustration, arguing, tears and disappointment.

In the midst of the two hours here are just a few of our interactions:

  • Our oldest: “Mom, I am tired of doing laundry! That is all I have done since your surgery.”
  • Middle daughter: “Mom, you have unrealistic expectations. I don’t understand what I even have to do.”
  • Our youngest: “I hate homework. Why are you making me complete the entire week of assignments? I still have two days before my spelling test.”
  • Our oldest daughter: “Please everyone just quit arguing.”

Facing My Disappointment

Knowing how busy the rest of our week was going to be due to schedule changes, I knew we finally had a day to get ahead on chores and homework. My kids couldn’t see my vision for the day and I made it known that I was disappointed. I was not only disappointed in how we were treating each other, but also that my kids were not helping out around the house.

I felt guilty that I did not extend any grace to my kids. I was disappointed in myself for not recognizing their need to just have a lazy day. Our kids are pushed to do so much during the school day, especially our teenagers who are feeling the pressure to keep good grades and be involved in organizations. Today, what I failed to see is that all three kids are stressed either with their schedules and homework. They just wanted a day to relax. If adults need a break sometimes, kids definitely need one too.

Tips for Surviving A Snow Day

After everyone calmed down and completed their homework, everyone was able to enjoy watching movies for playing videos games. However, I decided to write down a few tips in the hopes that the next snow day does not escalate to tears and unrealistic expectations.

  • Give up on productivity: Our kids do need some down time, especially our son who just loves being home. He finds his peace and needs his quiet time at home.
  • Let the kids be kids: I need to encourage our kids to be more childlike, even our teenagers, particularly on snow days.
  • Extend some grace: I definitely can do better on this, knowing our kids have had virtually every chore added to their lists, as I am recovering from a surgery. I just needed to breathe and extend some grace.
  • Turn the technology off
  • Set better expectations: If anything does need to be accomplished I will set better expectations. For example as a family we will sort, wash and fold three loads of laundry.

A snow day can throw a wrench into any schedule. With the help of the tips above, hopefully the next snow day can be a little more relaxing and childlike before “that” mom comes out.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

The Financial Burden of Daycare Costs

The Financial Burden of Daycare Costs

I have never been more excited and sad to register Collyns for kindergarten. It’s only January but I already filled out the necessary paperwork and made her appointment for her kindergarten physical. August 13 can’t get here soon enough! My last baby will be in school come the fall. Yes, I am sad. Yes, I will cry. But, that means no more full-time daycare! Now I feel like there is a light at the end of this daycare tunnel. Read More

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