Celebrating COVIDuation 2020

Celebrating COVIDuation 2020

How do you celebrate graduation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? You find a way to come together with love, laughter and flexibility. No matter the state of the world, this motto has been with me since the mid 1980s when I was teaching and started taking part in high school graduation ceremonies.

It was always important for me to reassure the graduates it was truly their day and to enjoy it. But I would also add that graduation was perhaps more important for their families. My intent being, “please don’t display any behavior that would embarrass your mother!” One of the more memorable graduations was when seniors handed me a marble during our handshake. It certainly tested my flexibility, literally and figuratively.

Organizing Our Own Graduation

I have two grandchildren graduating this year. Our entire family has supported the CDC guidelines with social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and we were supportive of Lincoln Public Schools canceling graduation ceremonies. It was always a challenge trying to organize 600+ graduates in a normal year, let alone in a year of a pandemic.

I’ve seen news stories of several high schools having creative graduation ceremonies in a race car stadium or on their football field. Our family decided to get creative too. Each grandchild and their family decided to do something special to recognize their unique graduation day. We were fortunate to be included.

Our granddaughter decided she wanted something simple. She and her mother called to let us know they would stop over, so I could see the graduate in her cap and gown. I thought it was a sweet gesture and appreciated her including us.

As a surprise, I decided to wear my doctorate cap and gown, which I would wear for graduation ceremonies before I retired. I quickly made a sign and a pretend diploma, and we were ready for their arrival. We topped off the day with a social distance supper for five at their home. It was a perfect graduation and party.

woman wearing graduation cap and gown with cloth mask

Our grandson was also scheduled to graduate in May. He wasn’t as excited to make plans, so his mom took over. His mom had seen pictures of our granddaughter’s earlier graduation and liked the cap and gown idea. I agreed to participate in the graduation, but we agreed to not tell my grandson the plan. We didn’t want him to run away. Knowing I had more time to organize, I made a few adjustments.

Making the Day Our Own

First, I decided to prepare a short and sweet speech. Next, I enlisted the assistance of my husband to be the musician. What is a graduation without music, even if it’s just a kazoo? A diploma was made and we were ready to go to our grandson’s house.

As we drove, I kept thinking of other aspects I could quickly add to the ceremony. This was either going to turn out very well, or he was going to run away. Now, I knew he wasn’t going to run away, but I didn’t want to embarrass him so much he wouldn’t have a good laugh.

We walked into their home, and I told him to put on his cap and gown and I put on mine. He looked at me like I was crazy, yet he played along. My husband organized the four family members in the back yard where the ceremony would be held.

The graduate and I (as the principal) walked the processional to the kazoo sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.” I gave a quick speech, handed him a pretend diploma, and then we recessed to the school fight song and cheers of family members and the neighbors who were grilling out next door.

A Day They’ll Never Forget

I reminded both of our 2020 graduates that their graduation will be one they’ll never forget. It certainly will be a graduation I’ll never forget. I know there will eventually be a new normal and a new routine for almost everything, including graduations. Both our granddaughter’s and grandson’s graduations may be the new normal with plenty of love and laughter, and no marbles. It was perfect.

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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School’s Out, But the Learning Continues

School’s Out, But the Learning Continues

During my morning walk, I caught myself reminiscing about being in the school building with students and missing everything about it. Not only do I miss teaching, but my kids miss school, their friends and the activities. And, all I can do is plan for and hope that we will be back in school buildings this fall. Without thinking too far in advance, we must experience summer first.

Goodbye School, Hello Summer

The last two months of remote learning is complete, and summer has officially begun. Now our family must conquer summer with three things at the forefront: grace, patience and understanding.

Just the other day, I presented our children with a daily summer to-do list, or as our youngest put it, “a summer contract.” I needed a tremendous amount of grace and patience then, while our kids needed a gigantic dose of understanding. In those moments, each of us wanted to reply without listening or understanding.

At the start of every summer, we always have great intentions to focus on learning something new and traveling, but this summer will end up being different. We do not have any specific plans for the summer, so my husband and I want to spend summer days being more intentional about mental wellness, physical wellness and teaching our kids about our passions.

Finding Our Passions

This summer, my hope is that we are intentional in spending more time as a family and understanding what each of us is truly passionate about. For example, our son is passionate about golf. Our family spends time with him on the golf course encouraging him, yet also trying to learn the sport.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my husband is passionate about photography and wants to teach our kids about pinhole photography. I would like to stretch our kids’ skills in creative writing or podcasting. Once the kids determine their topics, we will jump into the creative process.

Remembering to Set Boundaries

Even more important than learning, we are going to be diligent in supporting mental wellness through physical wellness. We are encouraging a daily running, strength training and yoga. Going beyond the physical wellness, we need to continue to set healthy boundaries with social media.

As our kids will say, we are the only parents in the world that set time limits to encourage unplugging and stepping away from technology. I believe focusing on these areas will continue to foster healthy relationships with our children as we enter a new phase in our household with a college student, a freshman in high school and a sixth grader. This will definitely take grace and patience from all of our family, but this is part of growing and developing these characteristics before they leave our home for the next stage of life.

Our middle daughter put it the best, “Why is it that my parents who are teachers still make us learn throughout the summer?” We encourage our family to spend the summer together, so we all have a deeper understanding of each other’s passions and enhance our patience and grace with each other. School’s out, but our family will continue learning.

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.

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Being Proud of How We Handle This Time

Being Proud of How We Handle This Time

Here we are weeks and weeks without walking into a school and seeing our secretaries’ smiles, without seeing my colleagues, without a school activity, five weeks without seeing students in the hallways. There are many unknowns: when will we be able to go to church or a restaurant? When can I give a hug to a non-family member? What will the hallways of our school building look like when we can actually go back to school?

Unknowns Continue to Mount

As unknowns continue, my husband and I have challenged ourselves to make sure our daughter feels special and still experiences the last few pages of her high school chapter. All of the prom plans, graduation plans and end of the semester plans we had been preparing for our senior daughter have all changed or are non-existent. Yet, we still planned a prom where she could pose for pictures, dance, sing and just enjoy the evening. When she decided which college to attend, we set up a signing day in our kitchen. We celebrated our girls’ birthdays with two birthday cakes, which for 14 years has only been one cake dedicated to both girls.

The driving force behind making sure our kids—especially our senior—have a memorable quarantine time has been these heart-to-heart questions: “When I look back on this time, what did I do? Would I be proud of how I spent this time?”

Recognizing a Need to Be Happier

After the first week of being home, I soon realized how much time we now had on our hands. There were a few days I was not necessarily the best version of myself when the stress and fear of the unknown got to me. I quickly realized the importance of finding the positives in each day.

I started asking myself, Am I proud of how I’m spending this time? and made steps to improve. We all know our weaknesses, and mine is definitely cooking. So I decided to open up a recipe book and starting making new and old recipes. The time I now spend in the kitchen lends itself to hours of conversations at the supper table. Prior to this time, a family supper for 20 minutes one night a week was normal; now, suppers together every night of the week is something we all look forward to.

What Am I Proud Of?

Am I proud of our family time? I am also taking time each day to spend individually with my three kids. From golfing with our son, to biking or playing catch with our daughters, I value this time immensely. My husband is finding the time to teach the kids how to build shelves and teach the entire family about pinhole photography.

Am I proud of my individual growth? Beyond all of the family time, I also enrolled in a writing class to develop confidence in my writing skills. This class provides me with a dedicated time and space each day to not only write, but also to reflect, unplug, and meditate.

The unknowns about this time are substantial, and it’s hard to think about all of the things we are missing. However, I want to focus on the family time and appreciate the special moments we create for our family. So, the question becomes, “When you look back on this time, will you be proud?” I definitely am.

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.

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How My Grandkids & I Are Handling COVID-19

How My Grandkids & I Are Handling COVID-19

I always try to blog about what’s on my mind and how it connects me to my grandchildren. Last month, I was aware of COVID-19, but it hadn’t really affected my family or me. Although we currently don’t have any health-related problems, the virus seems to be impacting us on a daily basis.

Defining Moments in My Life

The pandemic has caused me to think about my past life-changing moments:

  • Nuclear bombs and our “duck and cover” under our desk practices
  • Landing on the moon
  • The Polio epidemic and vaccine
  • Assassination of JFK
  • Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., race marches, riots
  • Vietnam War and anti-war demonstrations
  • Women’s Movement and the burning of bras
  • Ebola, SARS, but I never thought about its personal impact on me

Defining Moments in My Grandkids’ Lives

Our grandkids’ life-changing moments prior to February 2020:

  • Getting a driver’s license
  • Going to college
  • School shootings and active shooter drills

Grandkids’ life-changing moments after February 2020:

  • Universities and public schools closed indefinitely, learning remotely
  • Sports schedules stopped
  • Knowledge of graduations which won’t be held
  • Uncertainty of summer jobs

Adapting to a New Way of Learning

All four of my grandkids are settling in with school work. I’m sure everyone of them is responding to the remote learning differently. One will work very hard on her assignments and complete them ahead of schedule and do more than required, hoping for extra credit. One will complete only the required work, hoping for the best. The other two will be somewhere in between, doing the work, getting it in on time, but not going above and beyond the requirements.

Now that I think about it, this is kind of how they work during the school year. I’ve decided not to ask how their school work is going, as I’m thinking their parents will put enough pressure on them already. They don’t need my inquiries. As a former educator, I’m anxious to know how this whole distance learning thing will work for the last quarter of the school year.

How I’m Handling the Pandemic

I’ve decided that my role during this pandemic is to stay healthy, find humor in the little things and connect with my grandkids at least once a day. One day, I sent them a joke about a guy who is paid to scoop up dog poop in the yard when he finally realized the homeowners didn’t have a dog. The grandkids thought it was pretty funny. Another day, I sent a picture of me doing the Jimmy Fallon Cowbell Challenge. They knew I played a cowbell at North Star High School, but couldn’t make the connection to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

I’ve sent them a picture of me trying to follow a YouTube video for beginning yoga. I think they were embarrassed for me trying to keep a downward dog pose. Finally, I’ve requested a Zoom session with the four of them once a week. It was good for me to see all of them last week, and they knew it meant a great deal to me. We’ve met once, and we’ll see if I am able to maintain my goal.

A lot of unknowns arise each and every day. I know that, and I’ll do the best to adjust to each one, even if one of the new things is learning new technology. I want to treat my book club to Zooming. Just when I thought I was done learning, I find myself needing more information to keep up with my grandkids.

The most important thing right now is to keep my grandkids safe and healthy. I know it’s really up to them and their parents, but I’ll do my part by trying to keep them smiling and smiling and smiling.

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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How We’re Handling COVID-19 School Closures

How We’re Handling COVID-19 School Closures

When I originally started writing my blog post last week, I was planning on writing about my daughter’s college decision or preparing for a graduation party. Oh, how life can change in a matter of moments.

I Am Going to Be Alright

I am emotionally and mentally drained. Emotionally, I am drained as I am sad for my kids, for the senior class, for my kindergarten friends. I miss my students already. I miss my colleagues. Mentally, I am drained.

The school staff has spent the past 48 hours figuring out what the best form of virtual learning looks like when we know what is best for our students is being in our building. I am adapting. I am learning quickly, and I am trying to help my colleagues be the best they can be in this time of uncertainty.

I am going to be alright.

My Kids Are Going to Be Alright

After 12½ years of education, the last semester of our daughter’s senior year is going to e-learning and all major events have either been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. There are so many lasts the seniors are missing. It is almost like the last pages of this chapter have been ripped out from their story.

Today, I talked to many of them. Many had tears in their eyes. Some shared fear of the unknown. Some just said they already miss the halls, miss their friends, miss the teachers.

Our oldest daughter and the rest of the Class of 2020 are going to be alright.

Then I think about our junior high daughter in her last semester before entering high school. Learning-wise, I am not worried about her, yet my heart aches for her socially. School is about being with her friends. In junior high, she is figuring out who she is, she is learning to find her passion, she is maturing and getting ready for high school.

She is going to be alright.

And then I think about our fifth grader, he loves his teacher. According to our son, his teacher is the best because she makes school fun. He loves being around his friends. He is a sponge for any historical information or current event. He will continue to learn it will just be hard that it is not in his classroom.

He is going to be alright.

My Husband Is Going to Be Alright

I think about my husband. Honestly, his sole focus the last week has been being the principal. He has lived at school. The admin team has met many, many times. They have worked tirelessly to figure out what is best for all of our students during this unprecedented time. You see, as principal, he not only has three of his own kids; he has 332 other kids he loves and worries about.

He is heartbroken. He is going to miss standing by the door each morning greeting students. He is going to miss mentoring the senior class in their final months of high school. He is going to miss his daily lunch picture with our middle daughter.

He is going to be alright.

We Are Going to Be Alright

The end of the school year is going to look different in comparison to the past years. The school setting makes our family better because of the relationships we have built inside the school walls. However, now we have an opportunity to find innovative ways to serve, care, love, and be kind. This unprecedented time in history is going to teach us something.

We are going to be alright.

Actually, we are going to be better on the other side of this storm than we are today.

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.

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Why It’s Difficult to Watch My Grandkids Play Sports

Why It’s Difficult to Watch My Grandkids Play Sports

I’m getting older, that’s a fact. I try to follow the “aging” suggestions my doctor gives me and while I’m not worried about an injury, I do notice I think about it more now than in the past. The injuries I’ve endured are a few bruised fingers and a twisted ankle from playing pickleball. I’ve been fortunate to avoid anything which required an ER visit, casts or crutches, but it’s my grandkids who worry me.

As grandparents, we’ve become permanent bleacher bums for the past 15+ years. From those early years, it was significantly painful to watch Y team soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and volleyball games. My husband and I have been faithful attendees at hundreds of sporting events. I use the term sporting events loosely, as in many games we watched a granddaughter spend more time picking dandelions than she did chasing the ball.

As Intensity Increases, So Does Caution

As the grandkids grew and learned the various sports, the action got more heated. Fortunately, our grandkids didn’t get hurt when they were young, but some of their friends experienced injuries. I saw the tears and agony in the faces of the child, their parents and even their grandparents.

I recognized I was becoming more and more anxious. I’m sure there is some scientific formula where, mass (speed) + the number of practices + games = the higher probability of an injury. I may have missed that chapter in my high school textbook, so don’t quote me. With two grandkids in college and one in high school still competing, watching their events brings me a thrill, much joy and pride, but with a tinge of wincing and cringing. I don’t tell them this, but it’s true.

Even Safe Sports Can Be Scary

Our oldest grandchild rows crew in college. Sounds like a safe sport, right? Have you ever read any headlines about an accident in a crew race? The boats go in a straight line for heavens sake. However, one look at her calloused and blistered hands make me weak. Then there was the concussion she received while practicing, which was beyond my comprehension. I wonder if the crew team rows with itty bitty life vests in those skinny boats?

Our second grandchild is also a college athlete and plays volleyball. She entered college recovering from ACL surgery she received playing high school basketball. This recovery was very painful for me to watch, and I developed a sympathetic limp watching as she recuperated. By fall, her recovery was great, but the vision of seeing her dive on the court to dig a 45 mph spike delivered by a giant opponent took my breath away. I know I missed some great plays because I had my eyes shut!

The Fear from the Bleachers Is Unrelenting

This winter we have watched our grandson play high school varsity basketball. At 6’3” I’m sure he can take care of himself. I watched him break his pinky finger and I immediately wished the injury would bench him for the rest of the season, but no such luck. He was back in a week with lots of tape on his hand. Two weeks later he was fouled while airborne making a lay up. I watched as he lay crumpled on the court and I feared the worse. Thankfully, it was not a knee, but a sprained ankle. He was out for only one game—hallelujah!

As spring approaches, I remind myself we now have baseball games to watch. I love watching baseball. What could possibly go wrong when your grandson stands in the batters box and the pitcher throws a ball at him from 60 feet away at a speed only cars should be allowed to travel? I won’t tell any of them about my fears. I only tell them I love them and will cheer them on at every event I have an opportunity to attend. Eyes open or eyes closed? I’ll decide that at the time.

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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Thank You, Basketball

Thank You, Basketball

The thrill of the jump ball. The adrenaline rush running onto the court to be the first sub into the game. The final buzzer sounded and the tears of frustration flooded down her face. As I hugged my daughter, encouraging her there was still hope in playing another game, I was flooded with emotions. Basketball, you have taught our daughter many lessons that will go well beyond the court.

You Helped My Daughter Grow

Let me just say this first: basketball you are not my daughter’s favorite sport, but she poured her heart into playing your game. Our daughter with her tiny stature and frame could have quit long ago, but you didn’t let her give up on basketball. You gave her a mental challenge, you showed her she had something to prove, you gave her adversity, and finally you gave her a lesson in learning the importance of individual roles.

Basketball, time-and-time again you stretched our daughter’s mental focus. Yes, there were days she needed to work on her shooting or dribbling, but the games of staring frustration in the face because things didn’t go well taught her to persevere. She would need this skill when you gave her adversity through a knee injury.

You Taught My Daughter Invaluable Lessons

She needed perseverance to rehab her knee, she needed to persevere when she hit the valleys and she also had to overcome her fear of returning to the court. Basketball, our daughter did not step down from this adversity and she became mentally stronger. She wanted to prove to you she would be back on the court. She wanted to prove to you, you did not take away the sport she loves—softball.

Basketball, from the mother’s perspective, the greatest lesson you taught our daughter was how to handle a role. You taught her that every game, every situation and on every team there are roles. You taught her to first understand what her role was and how to embrace this role. There were games where her bench minutes far outweighed court minutes.

She embraced those bench minutes by focusing on encouraging her teammates. There were games she started—she embraced those starts. There were games where her role was to give the starters a one-minute break, and she embraced those minutes. Basketball, you do not realize how important a lesson you taught our daughter. What she learned from you will carry with her in every group project, every student she will teach and every athlete she will coach.

You Helped Me Grow with Her

Basketball, it broke my heart watching my daughter sit on the bench. I hated you when she was injured, but I loved watching her play. I loved watching her encourage her teammates. I loved seeing the smiles the coaches exchanged when our daughter embraced whatever role they had for her.

While I sit here and reflect upon what you have taught our daughter, my heart swells with pride. Basketball, thank you for impacting our daughter’s life. Basketball, it truly does take a village to raise a child and I am forever grateful.

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.

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Do Sequels Improve on the Originals?

Do Sequels Improve on the Originals?

Recently, I took one of my three granddaughters to see the newest Star Wars movie. I had seen the first three installments to the series, but had missed the past two or three. I enjoyed the movies I had seen in the past, and she assured me this one would be great as well.

Catching Up on Sequels You’ve Missed

Before the movie started, we talked about sequels and how sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. I shared that Jaws one and two were good, but the third movie was not great. She mentioned the Marvel franchise, but I’ve never seen them, so I didn’t have much to contribute. We both liked the Indiana Jones and the Harry Potter sequels. Then we moved to Star Wars.

I told her the last Star Wars movie I saw was in 1983. She gave me the stinky-eye look—how dare I not keep up-to-date! She quickly moved on to explain the story lines I had missed and the characters I had no knowledge of ever existing in the story line. I tried my best to keep up-to-date. My only mistake was to ask if this is the movie with the Baby Yoda. Yep, I was the recipient of another stinky-eye look. Which movie was he in?

Understanding the Common Theme of Sequels

My granddaughter’s unabridged version of the movies I had missed were quite good. Knowing there was a link between the early movies and this latest one made me feel like I could handle the fact I hadn’t seen the entire series.
After the movie, we discussed it and we both gave it a thumbs up. Apparently, this latest movie is to be the last Star Wars movie. My granddaughter assured me there would be a spin-off in theaters soon. We also talked about the concept of sequels. When you’ve got something people like and want, keep it going. Each sequel has a common theme, yet is tweaked enough to make it special and each sequel has enough familiarity to identify with the main story line.

Each Grandkid Is a New Sequel

The sequel concept got me thinking about my own grandkids. Is each grandkid a sequel to the previous child? Does each grandkid learn from the previous one? Do they strive to be better, stronger than the previous grandkid? Like the movie sequel, each one of my grandkids has some common themes which run through them.

DNA would account for some of the common traits. My grandkids don’t look alike, but there are resemblances. Shared family values and beliefs is another common theme in movies and grandkids. All four grandkids grew up in the same church, went to the same day care, were involved in youth sports and eat the same food grandpa cooks.

While each of our precious grandkids are similar, they are each unique in providing their own twist to our family. Our grandson is very tall, his sister is very short and my other two granddaughters are in between the extremes. Are we like Jaws XXIV? No! However, I am thankful for all the similarities and all the differences I see in my grandkids. It makes life interesting and reassuring at the same time. Kind of like seeing the original Luke Skywalker through the years. May the Force be with you!

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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Grandma’s Online Ordering: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Grandma’s Online Ordering: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Reflecting on the past holidays is always a fun thing for me to do. We are still lucky enough to have all of our kids and grandkids with us, and enjoy each and every minute at our traditional gatherings, which may someday come to an end.

There were grandmas who told me during early December that their Christmas was being celebrated in January, because their kids and grandkids weren’t able to make it home for December 25. I understand as traditions may sometimes need to be changed, and I’m confident we will all adjust with good cheer when our time comes. Until then, I’ll bask in the joy of our traditions.

I’ve always taken on the task of hosting our extended families. It’s a challenge, but not a problem. It’s buying the presents which sometimes frustrates me.

Lists to Santa Are Long Gone

When our grandkids were young, their parents always told us what they wanted from Santa. Even when they were older, their parents were the elves giving us ideas for presents under the tree. Once a couple of the grandkids went off to college, I’ve begun asking them for ideas. I decided it was probably time the kids get what they want. Unfortunately, this plan doesn’t always work. This year being yet another example.

The grandkids send me their ideas by taking a picture of what they want and sending it to me. Sometimes I’m able to decipher the small print and sometimes I can’t. Yes, even enlarging the picture doesn’t always help. One granddaughter sent me a picture of a pair of tennis shoes. I had some trouble finding the link for the Ultraboost Adidas (why would anyone name the style Ultraboost if the shoes are not for racing or basketball?).

The shoe was located, and I had some difficulty finding the correct color, but I persevered and had them ordered. When she opened them during the Holiday, I was pleased they were the correct shoe, but unfortunately, her foot didn’t fit in the shoe. Yep, I had been so excited to find them that I didn’t change the size that automatically came up. They could be returned, but they no longer send a printed receipt with the delivery, so I had to go online to print it for a return.

The Winding Road Online Orders Take

Our grandson also wanted a special pair of high-fashion athletic shoes. These shoes were not carried by any local store and with my history of ordering online, I was very nervous. After hours of figuring out the website and procedure, it was finalized and would be at our front porch in five days. When the package arrived, I was amazed when I saw the route to our home in Lincoln, NE. Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, to Anchorage, AK, to Memphis, TN, to Omaha, NE, to Lincoln, NE.

The tracking and distance was not noted when I ordered the shoes. Had I known the origin, I may have changed my order—or not. I’m guessing the shoes cost $10 plus the tariff. The shoes arrived in perfect shape. When our grandson unwrapped the box, he smiled ear-to-ear. He even cradled the shoes like a baby.

One Order, Two Pairs of Shoes

Our second oldest granddaughter sent me a picture of a pair of UGGs she liked. I thought they looked like my grandfather’s Romeo slippers, but I found the link and went through the process of starting my order. The process was interrupted by our needing to attend our grandson’s basketball game. I am not perfect with the planning of time. I wasn’t worried as I had the information I needed and I could complete the order soon.

The next day, I went back to the site, found the UGGs, filled out the information and pushed the enter key to place the order. Within four days I had her UGGs. Within six days, I had another pair of UGGs. I didn’t realize I had to quit/delete an order. What the heck? The good news is that I wear the same size as my granddaughter. So I unwrapped the second pair of UGGs, which I gave to myself. We all had a great laugh at my purchasing fiasco.

All my time, mistakes and successes couldn’t take anything away from the joy and laughs we shared that day. My takeaway may be to attend a computer class at SCC titled, “Ordering Online!”

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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Scholarships Season is Stressful

Scholarships Season is Stressful

It’s snowing outside, the Christmas lights are shining bright on the tree, and I am sitting in the recliner enjoying my cup of hot cider watching holiday movies. I’m enjoying the silence and reminiscing about the most wonderful time of the year. Then I hear it, “Mom, what does this mean?” “Mom can you proofread this essay?” “Mom, do you remember what year I did this?” Even the daily, “Mom get off my back, I will get it done by the deadline!” It hardly seems like the most wonderful time of the year with all the stress of scholarship writing.

Scholarships Are Stressful

It may be stressful, but this is an important time of the year. As a parent, I thought preparing for graduation would be stressful, however, preparing for graduation seems easy compared to the stress of scholarship writing. Our daughter’s stress definitely comes down to her personality and wanting to be the best version of herself in all of the applications. Still my constant harping, “Do you have that scholarship done?” may be adding to the stress.

The cost of college and writing scholarships is a frequent conversation in our home right now. The other night our daughter was finishing up a semester budgeting project and she commented, “It really takes 20 years to pay off college debt?” Another learning opportunity for my husband and I to talk to her about the cost of college and the implication of debt beyond the college years.

Have the Tough Conversations

We discussed with our daughter how we paid off my college debt in less than eight years by making monthly payments, however, at one point we paid between $1,500 and $1,750 per month for one year to get rid of the debt. Our discussion turned to needs and wants and delaying purchasing gratification but I could not go without saying, “Do you see how important applying for scholarships really is?” In hindsight this was not the most opportune time to make the comment.

Right now, all our daughter sees is the time it takes in her busy schedule to write and apply for scholarships. Yet, for all the stress that may occur and the time preparing scholarships, it really is worth the time for the potential financial rewards. As she continues through the scholarship writing season, I definitely need to trust she will complete the application and quit nagging her each day. Our daughter does have high expectations of herself and I know she will complete all of her applications.

Sit Back & Have Faith

As I sit in my recliner and answer questions throughout the scholarship writing season, I listen as I know I will not be around her next year in college encouraging (nagging) her to meet deadlines. I also remind myself this is all part of me learning to let go of control. Ultimately, this scholarship season is another growing season for me to have faith and continue letting her grow into the adult I have prayed for her to become since the day she was born.

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.

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Dressing Up Never Gets Old

Dressing Up Never Gets Old

I love the fall and especially enjoy the Halloween season. When my grandkids were little, I volunteered to be the witch in residence at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. Maybe I wasn’t the witch in residence, but I read books to any kids who happened to stop by my chair.

It was a wonderful experience, especially when my grandkids showed up for story time. Despite my makeup and costume, they knew exactly who I was. When our grandson saw me, he yelled “Hi, Grandma!” Needless to say, those words caused a little confusion with the kids I was reading to. I let out a cackle and brought everyone back into the groove.

A Growing Costume Collection

After several years of reading at the Zoo, enjoying the interaction and getting my little kid fix, I handed my books over to the next witch. I did not, however, turn in my witch’s costume. Over the years, I collected many costumes, including our daughters’ numerous dance costumes. Some are worse for the wear, but I’ve still held on to them. I used costumes and hats as props for introducing concepts at staff meetings and to participate in student theme days.

It’s not the spotlight I crave, but the laughter I can generate. I think I always had more fun than either staff or students had. I may have become a bit overzealous as I probably have too many costumes and hats. The hats and costumes each have their own storage bins and do take up a tad bit of room in our basement.

Grandma to the Halloween Rescue

Enough background of my costume fetish. A week before Halloween, one of our grandkids called. I always think when I get a call, it’s because they want to talk to me. It’s so cute when they call, “Hi Grandma. How are you?” “Hi Grandma. What are you up to?” “Hi Grandma…” then, they have a follow up question, which is why they actually called.

This call was a request for cowboy gear. Yes, one of our granddaughters was going to a party, which had a Western theme. Did I have any hats, shirts, skirts, boots? I detected desperation in her voice, and I determined the party was the next weekend. Yep, but better late than never.

Bringing Joy With One More Costume

I did an inventory. Yes, we did have some items which might work for her. Hats, shirts, boots and bandanas were all available for her use. I took pictures and sent them to her. What would work and what wouldn’t work for her party. She picked out a few things and tried them on. Score another point in the win column thanks to the costume store in a corner of our basement.

It always brings a smile to my face when you can deliver for your grandkids. Maybe that’s why I try to watch my diet, chase the Pickleball and listen to my doctor. I just know these costumes may someday be needed for my great grandkids.

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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Traveling Through Life with My Squad

Traveling Through Life with My Squad

The group text message went like this:

“Okay squad…I am 95% sure I want a tat. Who also needs one? I need my squad for moral support to get me through the door.”

“I am definitely out for the tattoo, but can be there for moral support.”

“I am in!!! I want one with my Dad’s handwriting.”

“I might consider it!”

“I will support. But out on the ink for me.”

I am an introvert and a private person. Being around crowds is very overwhelming to me, my anxiety rises and I tend to find myself conversing with only a few people whom I feel comfortable with. This may come as a surprise to some since I am surrounded by students, adults and other colleagues all the time in my career.

Forming My Squad

Believe me, throughout the many stages of life, I have tried to include everyone in everything. But I also realize that due to my introvertedness, it may be hard to get to know me and I can come off as unfriendly at times. And having people think I am unfriendly causes me additional stress. This is why my circle of friends is so important to me, especially during this stage of life.

Ten years ago our squad had one thing in common: our daughters’ softball team. Eventually, at the games, we started sitting by each other, sharing snacks, and learning about each other’s likes and dislikes. Over the course of ten years we have celebrated new additions to families, mourned the deaths of parents, shared hysterectomy stories and gone on family vacations.

Friends Through Thick & Thin

So naturally, I turned to my squad to find the courage to get a tattoo (or talk me out of it). Yet, what I appreciate about our squad is that there is definitely always a gathering place, we show constant support for all of our kids, we can laugh to “make it all better,” and we respect the silence that helps bond and grow all relationships.

Every stage of life brings new adventures, challenges, stories and milestones. While we travel through each of these stages, the best part is having a squad by your side for the journey.

There are those friends that come into our life journey for a short distance or even get out at the first stop sign. While others are there for the long haul and walk your journey with you. The softball moms could’ve sensed my closed nature and quickly jumped out at the first stop sign and given up on me long, long ago. But they didn’t—they all stayed in the vehicle, and I am incredibly thankful to be on this ride together.

Enjoying Every Bit of the Ride

This year is special. This year is hard. This year four of us have high school seniors. Two moms have kids who have already graduated, two moms are experiencing graduation for the first time, and another smiles and cries along with us and is trying to figure out how she will do this next year. Senior year is hard not only for the child, but also for the parents. We have spent our entire parenting years preparing our kids for their next journey, but we want to hold onto them and keep them in our homes just a little longer.

Yet, if it was not for our daughters, we would not be the friends or better yet, the family we are today. Each of us has our own joys, frustrations and insecurities, but we also bring our own perspectives and insight about life and the journey we are on. In the end, we all know we are still loved and we will be there for each stop along the way.

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.

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