Tag Archives: mom

Oh Dear!

June 26, 2015 by

It’s summertime and I’m taking full advantage of the fact that my kids are preteens and sleeping in. Camp Mom is pretty laid back and the kids seem to appreciate it. Yesterday, I filled up 50 water balloons, declared my contribution to their summer fun, and went inside to read my book.

Max asks if we can go swimming. I tell him that I just need to finish one more thought and then we we’ll go. Two hours later, I finish the thought. Once we get to the pool, I see a bunch of familiar moms that I haven’t seen in a while.

I wave to the fellow gym moms. There was a half-hearted,  “Do I know you?” kind of reciprocation wave. That’s when I get a glimpse of myself in the window reflection. It’s not that I feel like I should get all dolled up to go to the pool, it’s that I look that awful.

My hair is a wirey mess. I have no make-up on and my current summer wardrobe is whatever I grab out of my laundry basket as I’m putting away the clean clothes, which happens to be full-length faded gym sweats in the middle of summer, a t-shirt, and my flip-flops from last year.

It’s evident that to these very put-together moms, I look a little bit homeless. And what’s the point in showering and washing my hair anyway if I’m going swimming? In short, think of that famous Nick Nolte mug shot from several years ago.

It hasn’t occurred to me until just now that I look like a mom begging for help.

I smile with pride because I’m living a dream: I’m a writer and mom. This is apparently what it looks like. I don’t have it all together, but I do indeed have it all. I mentally “high five” myself and play frisbee with the kids for a while.

When we leave the pool, I wave to the now-concerned moms. I’ve always been a low-maintenance kind of a gal, but right now I realize I’m a no-maintenance gal. I resolve to maybe give a slight bit of effort to my summer look. Camp Mommy takes on a new meaning.

Pool2

Giving Thanks and Just Giving

November 17, 2014 by and

If there was one thing I did well when working in my church front office, it was receiving calls and walk-ins from people who needed money for food, gas bill, rent, or a heat bill. The hard part was telling them we couldn’t help them with their requests. For the record, and as a sign of the times, churches don’t keep cash around.

If someone ended up at our church, it was likely they had already been through every paper-worked system in the community. They were surely told they were liars. They surely had been asked how they got into that position in the first place. They were harshly judged. They had bill collectors threaten them. They surely had to decide whether to pay the heat bill or buy groceries.

And maybe they were lying. Maybe they should have done things differently. But when it all comes down to it, so what? Does solving the mystery of how or why somebody got where they are solve anything? Shouldn’t we just keep it simple? Just help out with no strings of judgment attached?

Don’t forget they’re hungry. Do you know what it feels like to be hungry? Do you know how grumpy you are when you’re hungry for just 20 minutes? Heck, we miss a meal at our house and it’s four Mr. Hydes running around. Imagine missing four meals or two days of food and having no idea where or when you’ll get your next meal.

I made sure to come home from the church office and tell Chris about the calls I had taken and the circumstances. I’d whisper so the kids would do what they always do when they hear whispers—try to listen in. I want them to know that there are people in need.

So, this year, we will sit down for our healthy and humble, traditional Thanksgiving meal. And we’ll have served at our church food pantry throughout the year. We’ll have given away the clothes the children have grown out of so fast that they’re practically brand new. And hopefully I’ve listened to a few people in need, and helped when I could.

Eat well. Be grateful. Hug a lot. And listen. I think we’ll all be better for it.

iStock_000004795159XLarge

Fit Mama

October 28, 2014 by
Photography by Sara Lemke

Mothers of newborns can feel overjoyed and overwhelmed; beautiful and bountiful at the same time. Working to get your figure back, or even just to lose a few pounds, is something that most moms are looking to do as soon as possible.

But getting into a routine of going to the gym and finding someone to watch the baby on a regular basis can be challenging. Some of us may not be comfortable leaving our newborn with a gym daycare. Working out at home is fine, but really…wouldn’t it be nice to be around women going through the same experiences?

Problem solved: Introducing Fit Mama Workouts. Launched in May by Liz Sampson, these boot camp-style classes range in intensity and target moms of all ages and fitness levels. “Basically, we cater to what works best with each mom and the kids that they bring with them,” explains Sampson.

Sampson strives to bring a wide variety of options to both the women who attend her classes and the children who accompany them. “The moms do their workout and we just kind of build the kids into the routine,” Sampson says. “They play with their friends and there are other activities that we bring—bubbles, colors, and sidewalk chalk.”

The children can also exercise alongside mom if they want. “There are a lot of times when the moms will be out on the mats and the kids will be part of it too.” The children in strollers are a captive audience, as the moms push the strollers while running and participating in circuit training.  “The kids witness their moms working out and see the positive example of it. It gets into their heads, at an early age, that exercise is a fun and positive thing.”

As a licensed group fitness instructor certified in perinatal and postnatal exercise, Sampson even encourages pregnant women to join in. “I know modifications that would be suitable for pregnant women and women who have just had babies.”

During this summer, classes were held at two different outdoor venues—Zorinsky Lake Park near 156th and F streets, and Lawrence Youngman Lake near 192th Street and West Dodge Road. Oak View Mall provided the indoor location, where the ladies meet in front of J.C. Penney on the lower level. With the fall season, outdoor workouts will be moving inside. That location has yet to be determined.

“It’s a non-intimidating workout atmosphere because we’re all moms and we’re all there to encourage each other,” she says. She also wants people to know that they will be getting a real workout. “We’ve had new moms with brand new babies; some of the girls will go run a
lap and some of the girls will walk it…we cater to everyone.”

Sampson says that not only have her clients lost weight, but they have found friendships as well. “I’ve seen women who didn’t know each other at all, and over the months, they became great workout friends; and their kids have become great friends.”

20140819_sl_0079

PTO on the Go

September 10, 2014 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

How many of us don’t end the week wondering where the time has gone?  Between work, keeping up the house, kids’ activities, and just plain old family time, it can feel nearly impossible to fit in just one more thing. Like many working parents, Valarie Taylor says that, although she would like to be more involved in her children’s school, it’s just difficult to find the time.

“I try to help out with the classroom parties and volunteer for field trips,” Taylor says. “My work is pretty good about flextime.” She says she is also a member of the PTO, but she still feels that she could be doing more. “Sometimes it would be nice to be more involved on a day to day basis; to see the dynamics of the classroom and how the teacher interacts with the children.”

“It’s tough,” says Sue Rice, Principal of College View Elementary School in Council Bluffs, who describes Taylor as one of her “super-volunteers.”

“It’s really hard for parents to have a fulltime job and also participate in their child’s education.” Rice and her staff identified the growing need to move from the traditional school groups and toward a more innovative and inclusive way of doing things.

“What I’ve found out, as the years have gone by, is that it is really hard for people to attend meetings and be on committees and do all the things they need to do while holding down a fulltime job,” Rice says. “So we’ve kind of come into the 21st century and looked at what can we do to help parents feel involved and get them interested in their children’s education.”

While Rice says that the school still has the traditional PTO meetings that occur every other month for those who can attend, more and more parents are becoming involved by participating in the committees online. “PTO is run different,” she says. “People are able to sign up for things electronically.”

Another way that many parents are able to engage in their child’s classroom activities is by joining their classrooms’ Facebook pages.  “Parents can see, during the day, what is going on in the classroom.” Rice explains that teachers and students alike take turns posting about what the children are learning as well as about daily events. Short video clips can also be added. “It’s just another way of becoming involved and it provides a glimpse into what’s happening in the classroom if the parents can’t be there.”

Rice adds that even though parents are very busy, the school has had a great response for volunteers. The increased access to committees and groups online has not seemed to hinder or decrease onsite parent involvement. “Parents have a lot of opportunities to be involved. We still have parent volunteers that come in for classroom parties and activities.”

College View, which opened four years ago and has been recognized as an International Baccalaureate World School, has added several clubs for students, including a running club, Spanish club, and art club, all of which have been sponsored by parents.

By embracing technology and thinking outside the box, the faculty at College View has been able to reach and accommodate more parents than ever before. “We’ve tried to spread it out so there are a variety of opportunities for everyone, rather than having just a select few doing everything.”

20140707_sl_8152

 

Husker (Mom) Fever

September 4, 2014 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

If you’re anything like Stephanie Heibel, you haven’t stopped thinking “Huskers” since the end of last season. It’s my passion,” Heibel says. “Being a Husker fan is what everyone knows me for.”

How big a fan is she? Perhaps the biggest in the history of Husker football? Some supporting evidence:

Heibel took athletic training classes during her time at UNL. Once, back in the fall of 2000, she was helping a trainer tape the ankles of linebacker Carlos Polk. When Polk asked her who her favorite player was, she responded Matt Davison.

Polk said she only liked Davison because he was cute. “Which made me mad,” Heibel says. Heibel says she simply respected Davison as a player. “I told (Polk) I could prove him wrong.” Heibel asked Polk what sort of information he would expect a male fan to know. Probably some statistics, right? Heibel knew Davison’s first touchdown, where he was from, his total yards for his career. She even knew his stats from high school in Tecumseh, Neb. Polk couldn’t stump her with any question he asked.

After Polk consulted with a fellow player, Erwin Sweeney, Sweeney concluded it wasn’t too difficult to memorize one player’s stats. “So I respond with, ‘I know you are Erwin Sweeney No. 16, cornerback from Lincoln, Nebraska.’ I looked at Carlos and said, “You are Carlos Polk, No. 13, middle linebacker from Rockford, Illinois.” I went on to name the rest of the players along with their number, position, and where they were from, and ended with ‘I can start at No. 1. That’s Thunder Collins, running back from Los Angeles. I told them ‘I could go down the list numerically if you want.’”

Word of the Husker savant spread quickly. At Heibel’s next training session, she had several players approach her asking if she was the fan. “They said that they had heard about this girl who schooled Carlos and they wanted to meet her.”

Being a fanatic actually started when Heibel was young.  Her dad, she says, always told her that she was born a Husker, what with her scarlet hair and cream-colored skin.

Heibel has passed along the fever to her 3-year-old son, Lucas.  He loves when he gets to put his Husker stuff on, Heibel says.  Lucas was born in August, right at the beginning of the Husker football season. As a baby, when Husker games came on, “If he didn’t have his head pointed toward the screen, he would try to move it so he could.” Even his nursery is covered in Husker gear.

And while Heibel usually chooses a favorite player each season, her favorite player of all time is easily Matt Davison.

If you’re a diehard fan, you’ll understand her first reason for liking Davison: The first Husker game she ever attended was Nebraska versus Missouri in 1997. That was the game in which Davison made perhaps the most famous catch in Cornhusker history.

Her favorite number is 3 (Davison’s jersey number). She buys a No. 3 jersey every season for Lucas to wear for game days. She has her ticket from that game with Davison’s signature on it. She has a signed 16 x 20 picture of him from when she met him at fan day as a freshman.

Her collection of Husker memorabilia goes on and on.

“I still even have my pompom that I had at the game,” she says.   

20140626_sl_8100

Sad or Glad?

August 1, 2014 by and

Back in May, when I picked up Max and Lucy from school on the last day, we watched a limo and two Ollie The Trolleys roll by, oozing with glee. They were filled with kids celebrating the end of school. I quickly distracted the kids by asking them if they just got a text.

Because our celebration was a limo in the form of a five-seater Mazda, ice cream at the house, and new Nerf guns.

This summer, our kids have done the following: Three day camps, six track meets, two road trips, Tuesday movies, several video games mastered, the summer reading program, 207 or more complaints of “There’s nothing to eeeeeat.” I’ve heard “There’s nothing to do” 4,599 times. Okay. I admit it. It gets a little old.

And now, we’ve made it through the majority of the summer. I will try to withhold my glee as I soon drive the kids to school, slow down to a respectable idling pace, and push the kids out of the car.

But, hold on. Slow down. I need to remember my summers with my kids are numbered.

The truth is, I will miss my kids. We do have great times together. We do make great memories. I know they enjoy the time—at least a good deal of the time.

It’s that balance we hope to create in our kids’ life. With every new school year, we hope they make good friends and make good choices when faced with dilemmas. I hope they learn easily and I hope they come to us for help.

But, honestly, just as excited as they are about reuniting with their friends, I am excited to reunite with my mom gang. It’s time for the kids to go learn and the parents to hop on the Ollie the Trolley for OUR party.

So I jump in and hi-five my mom pals.  We did it (again)!

Read more of Murrell’s work at momontherocks.com.

small

A Little Privacy, Please?

May 11, 2014 by

Happy Mother’s Day to all the momma’s out there! I hope you get everything you wish for, or at least a slight moment of guilt-free peace, a handmade card, and breakfast in bed. I have my own Mother’s Day dream— uninterrupted bathroom time.

I cannot sit on the throne of grand flushes without being needed. The next time I feel I’m not needed, I’m simply going to go to the bathroom.

I’m hoping I’m not alone in this desperation to have reasonable alone time.
There are only two things that my husband, Chris, does that bug me. He never answers the phone if it’s not for him (Caller ID really isn’t helping). And number two (no pun intended) he gets to use the facilities uninterrupted and for a long as he wants.

I’m jealous. I admit it.

Case in point. We’re all getting ready for school one morning when I realize I need to make a pit stop. I resolve that I should wait until the kids have left for school. My body suggests otherwise. I oblige said body’s request and go up to my own bathroom and shut my own door.

As soon as I sit, the phone rings. And it rings. We all know it’s the neighbor kid calling to see if Max and Lucy are walking to school. Lucy is in her room drying her hair. I have no clue where Max is. I yell to Chris because I know he’s assessed the caller ID.

“Answer the phone, please!” I call out.

It continues to ring.

“I. Am. In. The. Bathroom! Please answer the phone!”

He shouts back up at me, “I couldn’t get to a phone in time, the one in front of me. It’s battery was dead.”

Meanwhile, Lucy has shut off her hair dryer, so it’s time to do a little delegating. “Lucy, call Jennifer. She just called. You need to call her back and tell her you’re walking to school.”

But now she can’t find a phone that is charged. Mind you, the child has bounded down the stairs right past her father, grabbed the uncharged phone, and then once she has realized the phone doesn’t work, what does she do? She bounds right back up the stairs to me in the bathroom to solve this mystery.

By then I was done with my business, but felt the need to just take a moment and reclaim my interrupted bathroom time.

“I. Am. In. The. Bathroom!”

“But the phone doesn’t work.”

“Do you think Daddy could help you with that!?”

“Oh. I guess so.”

And so be it.

It starts when they’re young when you don’t want to take your eyes off them for a single second. When you’re brave enough to shut the door, their little fingers wiggle under it. “Mommy, are you in there?” Clearly, it’s my own fault. I’ve set this precedence and
trained them well.

It’s good to be needed. It’s a Mother’s Day dream.

iStock_000012566713Large-small

Let’s Go Antiquing

August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Old Market has always been the place to find those unique items…things you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Nowhere is that more true than in the variety of antique shops in the area.

Whether you are looking for a specific item, enjoy antiquing, or just like to spend the afternoon reminiscing, each of these shops is a must-see and a great way to spend the day with friends.

While a bit off the beaten path, The Antique Annex, located at 1125 Jackson St., is a small shop that offers a lot. Owner Joe Dempsey opened the shop nearly two years ago but has many years of experience in dealing and selling antiques.

“We’re kind of in a weird location and don’t get as much traffic as a lot of other stores,” he says. This presents a great opportunity to find that treasure before someone else does. He explains the dealers he works with focus in on more decorative household items. “We deal a little bit in the more high-end stuff. You don’t have to search through a ton of [stuff] to find the nice things…they’re already here.”

Dempsey says that the hot items people are searching for now are furnishings and accessories from the 1950s: Lucite chairs and more industrial-type items. “We get a lot of kids finding things for their apartments.” Many are looking to give their downtown loft a unique, retro look. But he also sees everyone from moms to high-end collectors. “We see a little bit of everybody.”

Just across the street at 1116 Jackson St. is Second Chance Antiques, an Omaha staple that carries “pretty much everything from clothes to furniture,” says Elysia Jarvis, acting manager of the shop. “We get new stuff all the time. That’s the fun part. People will come in almost weekly because they know there will be something new to look for.”

20130702_bs_3438

It was Jarvis’ mother, Susan Hoffman Brink, who opened Second Chance in 1971 and loved every minute of the 40-plus years she ran the shop. Brink passed away last April, but it was her dream for the business to continue. Her family and friends are dedicated to making her dream a reality. They are currently in the process of moving to a new location, just west of the Old Market on 14th and Harney streets. Quite the feat, as the two-level warehouse is packed full of fun finds: The basement is full of retro-style clothing and accessories. The main floor holds everything else you can imagine: dishes, décor, furniture, old photographs, and knick-knacks.

Some items have an obvious use, while others…well, the usefulness is in the eye of the buyer. “We find Pinterest has helped us a lot,” says Jarvis. “We can’t keep a door knob in-stock because people use them [to make] coat racks. People come here because they know they can’t get [these things] new. So it makes some really, fun unique things.”

“It’s better than Ikea!” exclaims one family friend who helps out at the store. This eclectic shop, as well as its eccentric team, makes Second Chance a fun place to get lost for the afternoon.

Another fun place to get lost antiquing is Fairmont Antiques & Mercantile. From the outside, it appears to be a retro-candy store, but venture a little further inside, and you soon discover that the shop not only appeals to your sweet tooth but to the sweet memories of your childhood and beyond.

“We specialize in an experience,” says General Manager Mark Kocsis. “When people come in, we like to give them a big ‘Wow!’” Owner Larry Richling opened the shop in the old Fairmont Dairy building at 1209 Jackson St. nearly three years ago, combining his retro-candy business and his antique business into a one-stop wonder-shop.

Along with the candy shop, the store offers many kinds of sodas, “Mostly retros and things you haven’t seen in years.” Deeper into the shop, customers will find treasures that will immediately transport them back to a simpler time.

This store offers more than antiques—it offers nostalgia: record albums, posters, toys, classic metal lunch boxes, clothing, furniture, even classic signage and historical hometown memorabilia. After you’re done shopping, take time to enjoy the authentic soda fountain or catch a classic film in the store’s private movie theater.

“If you just sit here and watch people come in…boom! They get this huge smile on their face,” says Kocsis. “That is so neat to see.” With items from over 25 dealers and new pieces coming in daily, visiting Fairmont will be a new experience each and every time you walk through the door.

Antique Annex
1125 Jackson St.
402-502-9603
omahavintage.com

Second Chance Antiques
1116 Jackson St.
402-346-4930
secondchanceantiquesomaha.com

Fairmont Antiques & Mercantile
1209 Jackson St.
402-346-9746
omahafairmont.com

Single Parent

Photography by Natalie Jensen Photography

“There are only two ways to live your life—one is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as if everything is.” – Albert Einstein

Single parenting comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it was because of a surprising divorce, the death of a spouse, or an unexpected, unwed pregnancy. Most of us don’t grow up dreaming about being a single parent. Usually, our dreams consist of a white picket fence, a harmonious house that smells of bread baking, a loving husband, and perfect children quietly playing in the background. Well, that life isn’t reality for a growing group of single parents in 2013. I’m hoping my column will give you a new perspective on single parenthood, as well as some much-needed relief.

I personally awoke from my fairytale five years ago. Suddenly, I was balancing my lack of income, providing a home, putting food on the table, and creating a consistent routine for three small children—not to mention walking my children through the effects of divorce and the stigma of being from a “divorced family.” My path consisted of living with my parents for three years while I finished my college degree. After those long and sacrificial years, I was able to buy a house and provide for my children on my own again.

Being thrown into the role of a single mom developed a sudden closeness between my kids and me. Not only did we share a room practically piled on top of each other, but we talked about things we’d never talked about before. It became a time of healing, but I also found out more than I would’ve ever known about my children if we had all been tucked away in our separate rooms.

Not having extra money led to playing a lot of cards, long walks, bike rides, and watching old movies together. But most importantly, the lessons about life that they have learned are the most valuable. Pain doesn’t last forever. Prayer gives you strength. They watched me go through the process of starting over with strength and determination. Those lessons have been the unknown benefit of losing all my material things and becoming a single mom because what we do have is each other, and that turned out to be a better dream than I could’ve ever imagined.

Please Open the School Doors

I enjoy my kids a lot. But by the end of summer, I’m exhausted, and the kids are bored. We’re all ready for school to start. I’m the wacky woman with nose pressed to the window of the school (like the crazy lady from the Target Black Friday ads)—ready for school to open.

I’m not beneath suggesting my kids are smarter than me. It’s not a stretch. I’m okay with that. My kids need/demand a few things: attention, intellectual stimulation, and activity. In short, I cannot keep up with them during the summer.

They are smarter, faster, and stronger. I can’t find enough to keep them engaged and entertained. And what’s with their physical recovery time? They could run a marathon, then announce, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Or “Mom I’m bored now.” Or “Mom, now what can we do?” Funny. Cleaning their rooms, mowing the lawn, or doing their laundry never seems to cure their boredom.

Could someone please open the doors for school? Please?

This summer we went on several road trips. We went camping. We let the kids stay up and then sleep in. We took full advantage of their spare time and had them help in the yard and do their own laundry. We had lazy days and even got caught in the rain a few times.

And so, soon after dropping my kids off for school, I want them back. I’ve just had so much fun with them this summer. I want them to hug me and tell me all about their day. Because, in the summer, I know about their days—I’m with them. Now I don’t know what’s going on all day. I try to get them to let me go to school with them, but I guess there are rules against that.

Summer is all about cool, new experiences and adventures. Back-to-school is all about seeing old friends and making new friends. And turning those brilliant minds back into high gear. Projects, essays, concerts, and games await us.

I must admit, I’m dreading the ridiculous morning routine for school. Can’t we start school a little later? Like, say, maybe noonish?

Why on earth (of all schools) would my district have the middle schools starting the earliest? Doesn’t the school board know we’re dealing with amateur teens here? Chemicals are literally brewing in their brains. They can’t function, and you’re going to hit them with a leaving time of 7:20 a.m.?

Let the “KIDS, GET UP, TIME TO GO LEARN!” fights begin.

And so school begins and summer comes to an abrupt end, as does the conflicted, intense, emotional battle of wanting to schlep our kids off to school while fighting the urge to never let them go.

Read more of Murrell’s stories at momontherocks.com.