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

Returning Gifts Online: Tips for Senior Citizens

Returning Gifts Online: Tips for Senior Citizens

When your grandkids are older, you no longer ask their parents what they’d like for Christmas and birthdays; you go straight to the source. Maybe they’ll tell you what they really want, but are afraid to ask for it from their parents. Perhaps I’m still waiting for the day when they say, “Nothing, Grandma. Just to connect more with you.” Wouldn’t that be nice?

When I asked the grandkids what they wanted for Christmas, I immediately received a string of texts from them with the picture, website and description of the item they wanted.

They were all so patient with me and explained everything in more detail. Unfortunately, everything I asked was already in a previous text. Multiple messages later, I can just hear them telling their friends, “Oh my gosh! My grandma is so slow!”

I did my best this year to follow everyone’s suggestions. I found the website, and did my best to pick out the perfect size, perfect color and perfect gift. I felt so proud knowing I made the appropriate online orders for everyone this holiday season.

I try to set a limit to the amount of money I spend on each grandkid, equal amounts for everyone. It isn’t always perfect, but I make it darn close. I work on making sure each grandkid has at least four presents under the tree. A pair of sneakers can be over $100, so I have to be careful. Sometimes I can find a sale and include three sweaters in one package. The kids understand and acknowledge my efforts with joyous laughter…or is it mockery?

All the gifts arrived at our home in time for me to wrap and add them to the bounty of gifts beneath the tree. Christmas morning came and our family had a great celebration. This year, I went two for two in the gift department. Two grandkids didn’t have to return a thing! Hallelujah!

Unfortunately, two grandkids weren’t so lucky. I had to google how to return these gifts. Turns out returning gifts online is a little more complicated – even more so when you’re a senior citizen. Let me tell you, it’s tough.

Here are some tips I found:

  1. Don’t open the box.
  2. Keep all the gift receipts.
  3. Check the return policy.
  4. Have or bring your ID.

I bought two polo shirts from Macy’s online. They were on sale. Yippee! They didn’t fit. Bummer. I think I’ll get reimbursed, but I bought a replacement shirt at Von Maur in the right size just in case. So much for a two-for-one.

As for the Adidas tennis shoes I bought online: Even though I ordered the requested size, they were the wrong size. I ordered new ones and returned the old. So far, so good. However, the second pair was also the wrong size! Now I can’t find the second order number or the email. I think I’m ready to hit my own personal delete button. Okay, maybe it’s not all that bad, but I’m out of my league. Tomorrow, I’m heading to the actual Adidas Store.

After all this, I have some of my own tips to add to my Google list for grandparents:

  1. Keep track of your orders and texts from your grandkids.
  2. Print off your email confirmations, even if you don’t think you’ll need them.
  3. When in doubt, blame the grandkids. I think this is the best tip of all. I did nothing wrong, it’s all their fault.
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

I Want My Mommy

I Want My Mommy

Some children say goodbye and hop right into the classroom without a backwards glance. Others have a hard time leaving the protective arms of the parent. Sometimes, it’s the parent who has a hard time letting go. Read More

Grieving for My Mom

Grieving for My Mom

The emotions are still fresh. One day I am heartbroken. One day I am relieved. One day I am at peace. One day I am full of joy. My heart still aches for my dad, my husband, my kids, my grandparents, my siblings; actually, my heart aches for all of my family and mom’s close friends. Read More

A Blog for My Husband

A Blog for My Husband

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

How Can You Stop Frustration and Share Joy?

How Can You Stop Frustration and Share Joy?

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

Frustration Wins the Day

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

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

Learning to Slow Down

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

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

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

● Appreciate the positives.

● Focus on what I can accomplish at this moment.

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

● Share joy.

● Extend grace to others and to myself.

● Be curious and keep absorbing new ideas.

● Be thankful.

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

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

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

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

Am I Pushing My Kids Too Hard?

Am I Pushing My Kids Too Hard?

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

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

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

Is it in their best interest if I push?

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

So should I push her more?

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

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

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

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

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

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

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

Don’t Worry Grandma

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

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

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

What Was In It for Me?

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

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

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

It’s Out of My Control

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

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