Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Extraordinary Grandparent Adventure by TLC Nielsen

When an extraordinary circumstance comes into our lives, wherever we are in the journey, our ordinary world expands and we are changed forever. Becoming a grandparent is one such extraordinary event. Kathleen Helgesen is a new grandparent and a fellow Word Weaver. She’s been published in Splickety Magazine and considers herself a romantic suspense novelist, working on the Donovan trilogy set in Wisconsin. Book one, her work in progress, is entitled “Seeking True North.”

Welcome, Kathy!

Q) Where were you when you found out grandparenthood was around the corner? How much “prep” time were you given?
A) It was the cutest thing. We were visiting my daughter in Fort Myers for Christmas and her gifts to my husband, myself and our other two daughters visiting with us were infant “onesies” with Grandpa, Grandma and Aunt printed on them with the baby’s due date.

Q) Since your family lives out of state, what were your plans for grandparenting from afar?
A) I felt chaos churning, thinking how we would be the “hands on” grandparents we wanted to be with my daughter living thousands of miles away in Florida. We thought about purchasing a park trailer at a permanent site so I could stay at length when needed. We had always planned on retiring to Florida, so this just pushed up the clock. For the moment, however, we were looking at temporary fixes and would find that retirement home when the time actually came.  I had already quit my job at the library and finished the writing certificate for which I’d gone back to school. One of the charms of being a writer is that you can do it anywhere.

The kids changed that idea by moving to Michigan this spring. We don’t see them as much as we want and are coming to terms with the realization that we won’t be able to be as hands-on as we wanted in our grandson’s life.  We won’t be retiring to Michigan. Winter is the one thing I’m looking forward to leaving behind.

Q) Who else in your family “shifted” positions, becoming an aunt, grandpa…?
A) Grandpa (my husband) talked endlessly about being a hands-on grandpa. You know, being there for T-ball, the Christmas musical, school sports, etc. He’s not yet retired, so it’s impossible at this point since the drive is about five hours from our home in Wisconsin. We can make some weekend visits while we’re still here. We do talk about flying Noah back for hunting trips in northern Wisconsin, which Grandpa plans to continue even after our retirement move and wonders how long he has to wait to start doing that.

Q) When the baby came, what changed? Was anything different than what you had anticipated?
A) I was thrilled that my daughter asked me to come down for a few weeks while she was on maternity leave to spend time with her and babysit when they went out or when friends visited. It was wonderful, nothing out of the norm. I never got enough of holding the little guy. I suppose that’s why I had four children.

The way we interacted changed, we face timed instead of visiting (not as much fun). We were still doing online searches for places to live in Florida when they dropped the bomb that they would be moving to Michigan. We were planning to take a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale in April and were going to drive down a week earlier to visit and look at communities on our list. Their house sold and they were in Michigan before we even made the trip. We still looked at houses but grieved the fact the kids were no longer in Florida.

I guess the anticipated ‘hands on’ grandparenting is out of the picture for the most part. We’re getting used to the idea of the visiting grandparent and look forward to the times we can either visit or have little Noah visit us. The plus side is that I have more time to spend with Noah. I need to work on discipline in my writing, however. I see a squirrel and I’m distracted.

Q) How did your writing and your grandparenting intersect?
A) I don’t have any special urges to write children’s stories if that’s what you mean. I do like to watch people, however, and having a grandchild in my life is interesting. I forgot what life is like through a child’s eye and look forward to seeing how Noah reacts to life in general. In the second book of my trilogy, Tim Donovan tries helping a young woman with two very young children run from an abusive husband. The third book in the Donovan trilogy (the oldest Donovan child) will be about a young widowed mother. I haven’t decided on the kids’ ages yet, but with Noah around, you can bet I’ll be taking note of how he acts and what he says to make those kids realistic!

Q) Do any of the characters in your mystery novel reflect any of the impact grandparenthood has had on you?
A) It’s funny, the main characters are my children’s age. The Donovan family is close. Jo Donovan (from Seeking True North) has a very special relationship with her grandfather. I mirrored that after my relationship with my grandpa. But I’m not looking at it from the grandparents’ point of view yet. I don’t feel as old as I remember my grandparents being or the ones in my story world. I can certainly feel the aches and pains the Donovan patriarchs feel, and I can relate to the love they have for their grandchildren and what they want for them. I also have a better feel for the role of grandparents; you know a step removed from actual parenting. Grandma Donovan likes to do a little matchmaking, so did my real-life grandma. Maybe I will too, who knows? I write what I’ve seen and felt. All my characters reflect that.

Thanks for coming to the Extraordinary Ordinary here at It's amazing how God takes ordinary folks on extraordinary adventures. If you'd like to nominate an extraordinary ordinary, please contact TLC at soulfixer 13 at yahoo (dot) com and put "lookandbe" in the subject line!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Extra Ordinary Music by TLC Nielsen

I met Becky Capelli decades ago when she was a teenager working at Drakes Office Supply. Years later, I bumped into her at a local church where she was leading the choir, and she introduced me to her spouse and their two children. It’s been a privilege to see her children blossom in music as they’ve grown up, too, and to see Becky become successful as the owner of Songbird Studio Inc. Becky’s extraordinary adventure in spreading the love of music to those around her makes her life more than ordinary.

Welcome, Becky!

Q) How did your music studio come into existence?
A) I had co-owned a music studio several years ago for about six years when my kids were babies. Once they hit school age, I had to put private music instruction to rest and get a "day job" until they were much older. I was at that particular job for about 10 years. But music, especially sharing music, is my passion so, as soon as I felt the timing was good for my family, I re-entered private music instruction by opening Songbird Studio Inc. four years ago.

Songbird Studio in Grayslake, Illinois

Q) That was a long journey! So when did your love of music actually begin?
A) I was very young. I cannot recall a time when music was not a love of mine. It is how God wired me up! I started piano lessons when I was 5 years old. Mr. Luder was my piano teacher. Our family didn't own a piano so he would meet me at our church and teach me on the church piano. My parents were later able to purchase a piano... rent to own. I guess they figured I was serious enough about it to make that investment. I think they were right! I still, to this day, use that same piano in my own home.

Mr. Luder also taught voice lessons which I began at age 10. But even beyond lessons, I was always listening, learning, and playing music any chance I could. I always say music was and still is my "thing" - it's what I was wired to do. For some it may be sports or theater or scholastics, but for me it has always been music.

Q) Who influenced you the most musically?
A) Three come to mind: my parents and Mr. Luder. I was fortunate to have the same private music teacher from the time I was 5 years old up until I went to college. He had a huge influence on me, opening up so many genres and styles of music as well as allowing me to explore my strengths and weaknesses. He taught me that learning and making music is hard work and takes discipline, but it is so rewarding and most definitely meant to be enjoyed.

My parents never missed an opportunity to allow me to use my talents, and they continually encouraged and reminded me that we each have talents which are meant to be shared. They understood and encouraged my passion for music. Some of my earliest memories of singing are with my dad. I believe this is why I am so connected to the idea of private music teaching. I had such an awesome and positive experience having Mr. Luder in my life, as well as supportive parents - a combination that is so valuable when taking music lessons.

Q) What other factors kept you involved in music through the years?
A) Most definitely the church and school. I grew up singing in church and, as an adult, I was actively involved in singing on the worship team. During my school years I participated in choir and band (percussion). 

Currently, as a music teacher and mom, I am less and less active in performing. I have found great satisfaction and joy in teaching, encouraging others to use their talents in whatever capacity they can in their lives. It's fabulous!

Becky Cappelli

Q) Where did you think your music would take you?
A) Oh my! When I was young I had my sights on performing... traveling the world and singing! But I am SO grateful that is not what I ended up doing in the long run. I think God knew I wasn't cut out for that. Instead, I can build into others who may (or may not) have those dream. I believe I am exactly where I'm suppose to be doing what I am should be doing.

Q) Did you ever consider careers outside of music? If not music , then...
A) I have not. I have only entertained other jobs/opportunities that would allow me the freedom to still do music but not a career... just a paycheck.

Q) What pivot point catapulted your life in a different, unexpected direction?
A) Probably my kids. But in such a beautiful way! As a mom (a working mom), my decisions in what and how I could provide for our family and whether or not music was a means to do so greatly revolved around my kids and my availability to them in their stages of growing up. Music had to take a backseat for a lot of years. It was always a part of our lives but not a means in which to have a career. It taught me patience and trust in God's timing. Yes, music is my passion but people, especially my people (my family) are most important. God always has a plan and He is always good.

Becky's website: and you can "Like" her studio on Facebook as well here:

Thank you for visiting the Extraordinary Ordinary Blog at! If you'd like to recommend an ordinary person with an extraordinary journey to be interviewed, please contact TLC Nielsen at soulfixer13 (at) yahoo (dot) com and put ExtraOrdinary Blog in the subject line.