Bonding From Generation To Generation

Bonding From Generation To Generation

When I was growing up, I was fortunate to know both sets of my grandparents. My paternal grandparents were farmers and lucky to keep their farm in spite of the depression, which was no small feat. My maternal grandparents were farmers as well. My grandfather served in WWI and was disabled as a result of being gassed in the trenches of France 100 years ago. He could no longer farm and became a carpenter. Both of my grandmothers were homemakers. I heard great stories of my paternal grandmother being very skilled at bartering, which is one of the reasons they were able to hold onto their farm – and a trait I wish I learned.

Recalling The Good Times

I tried to recall how I worked with them and spent my time with them. I looked at pictures and discovered most of my memories revolved around holidays like Christmas and Easter. I do remember riding a plow horse, not to work the land, but to experience the ride. As I recall, the ride on the old horse was without a saddle – and not that enjoyable. I also jumped off the barn hayloft and sprained my ankle once.

I remember my grandparents who lived in town had a big garden, which I rummaged through looking for strawberries and leaving the plants bare. My grandfather had an industrial-sized blade sharpener, and I loved spinning it and hearing the sounds of speed building up and up. These were all good memories, but my parents weren’t involved. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it was my special time with my grandparents.

From Grandkid To Grandparent

John and I always try to provide great experiences for our grandkids. Of course, we think they’re great moments. In 50 years, I hope our four grandkids will have fond memories of their time with us.

Eventually, I realized most of the activities with our grandkids are without their parents. It was an “aha” moment for me. My parents worked hard and probably needed time without the squirrelly little girl who needed to be entertained 24/7. (Okay, I just thought about me being a mom with two energetic girls. My parents were lifesavers. Enough said.)

New Traditions

My historical perspective of three generations working together was, obviously, limited, but not lost on me. The most recent 3G (generations) work time was when we needed the leaves and debris cleaned from our rain gutters. John and I agree that time on ladders is something we should no longer do. We called our son-in-law and asked for either his help or our grandson’s help. We’ve used each one of them in the past, all with great results. To our surprise, both our son-in-law and grandson came to the rescue. Our grandson declared we’d divide the labor. We patiently listened to his plan. Grandpa and son-in-law would carry the ladder; son-in-law would set up the ladder and assure it was safe; grandson would climb up the ladder and clean the leaves and yucky stuff out of the gutters; grandpa would supervise – which is a job done best on the ground.

There was a lot of give and take between the three workers – giving suggestions, questioning of skill level and just plain teasing. The threesome completed the task in record time, which shouldn’t be a surprise. I thought about why we don’t ask both of them over to help for similar tasks around the house. I guess we’re always worried about bothering the kids and grandchildren too much. There is a fine line between asking for help and being a pain in the rear by asking for too much help. I tend to not ask for help. I know that will change and realize I need more help each and every year.

The 3G time was good for everyone involved, and I’ll look for future opportunities for “asking for help”. As they, and we get older, the help from our family is greatly appreciated. With the mobility and opportunities available to our grandkids away from home, it’s anyone’s guess where their future endeavors might take them. You need to create memories when you can – even if it includes cleaning out the gutters.

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.

4 Ways to Simplify the Holiday Season

4 Ways to Simplify the Holiday Season

I vividly remember how special my parents made the Christmas season, especially Christmas Eve. We had supper, went to midnight mass and then around 1:30 in the morning, we opened presents. Somehow mom managed to keep all the gifts hidden, and while we opened presents she had a story for each one. One year, she even managed to convince my brother and I that we got a karaoke machine. Read More

Operation Cheetos

Operation Cheetos

Our youngest grandchild and only grandson was asked to participate in a contest/skit during his high school pep rally. Seeing pictures of the event made me smile. I was pleased to see he actually attended the pep rally and supported the fall athletes and coaches! Remember, I’m a retired high school principal, and there were always kids who thought a pep rally was a reason to skip school.

The contest consisted of two-person teams of students, one person put on a shower cap with whipped cream on top and the other tried to throw Cheetos on top of the shower cap. When the time was up the team with the most Cheetos on the shower cap won. My grandson, who donned the shower cap, and his partner won!

Operation Finale

When I texted him to see if he would have another contest in the winter pep rally. He responded with, “how about operation finale”. Operation finale? What did that mean? Usually, I am confident in my interpretations or translations of the grandkids’ messages, but this time I needed to follow up, “What does operation finale mean?”

His reply was, “I want to see the movie Operation Finale.” I laughed out loud! I should have realized there was no connection between the pep rally and the finale. That would make too much sense. It was his way of asking us to take him to see the movie.

After I laughed at my mistake, I was thrilled. My teenage grandson was asking us to take him to the movies and even be seen in public with us. BONUS!

Lessons from the Past

Operation Finale follows the story of the Mossad post-WWII. This group of Israeli intelligence officers located and tried to extradite Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi officer and major organizer of the Holocaust, to Israel to face war crime charges. The movie was very informative and very intense. I even jumped a few times. During the movie I managed to sneak a look at my grandson from the corner of my eye and he was enthralled with the movie.

The end of the movie really brought the past and present together, as videos of the 2017 Charleston riots were replayed. The Nazis were evident in the past and still are visible in the present. We talked after the movie about history repeating itself and why we don’t always learn from our mistakes. He reminded me there are people who don’t think they are making mistakes. I’m proud he gets it, but I’m thrilled he’s still catching Cheetos on his head and winning pep rally contests. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all caught Cheetos on our heads?

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 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!

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.

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

Living in the Moment

Living in the Moment

In high school, we had to take a survey that asked, “When will you be living your best life?” Childhood, high school, college, adult or retirement? But why is life broken down by stages? Wouldn’t it be better to live in the moment? Read More

When Spring Hasn’t Sprung

When Spring Hasn’t Sprung

There’s spring in Nebraska, and then there’s SPRING in Nebraska. I’ve lived in this great state all my life, but for some reason this year’s cool temperatures have been challenging for me. OK, challenging may not be the right word. The weather isn’t challenging like having to run a half-marathon. I ran my first and last half-marathon in 2012. Now that run was a challenge. The cool, spring weather challenged me on several fronts. All were pretty namby pamby, but a challenge for me nonetheless. Read More

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