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Tanda Kay Packer's Story > Storyteller Feature

Featuring: Tanda Kay Packer
Written by: Sarah Peppel

"That's Where Tradition Stops, Buddy!" 

Comments: 13 Published on: Feb 04, 2009 Views: 144,576

Category: Humorous & Entertaining

“Well, my mom had 14 kids, her mom had 14 kids, and her mom had 11 kids, and her mom had 12 kids. . .” Shayne Packer said jokingly when Tanda, his newly engaged fiancé, brought up the topic of how many children they would have.


Tanda’s gleaming blue eyes shot sideways as she interrupted with a firm tone, “That’s where tradition stops right there, buddy!”


Today, Tanda works hard to keep up with her three grown girls, two grown boys and eight grandchildren. Being a modern grandma, she uses whatever technology she can find to connect across the four times zones containing her loved ones. In fact, the Packers are writing a book on grandparents connecting with their grandchildren through technology. They also created two websites to encourage and promote activities and technological devices that allow families to connect in today’s world. Their websites, called Grandparents TLC and The Grandparent Project, educate other grandparents from what they have learned. The Grandparent Project allows grandparents all over the world to create their own sites for reaching out across the wires and bonding with grandchildren in a whole new way.




This new world of iPhones and video conferencing are very different from the childhood Tanda remembers. Raised on a 1,000-acre cattle ranch in Idaho, Tanda learned young the value of hard work, knowing how to ride a horse, and relying on family connectedness to make ends meet.  She also learned to “reuse and repurpose” as only a farmer’s daughter and member of a large family would know. Farmers had to be creative – as they say, “we fixed it with spit and wire.” Growing up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Tanda embraced the strong emphasis on family and faith, which served her well over the years.


“We were your average Western family,” states Tanda, humbly. “Walking into the nearby town, they knew what you were going to do before you did it.”



“Tanda emphasizes the importance of better social skills and etiquette, things that aren’t learned over the internet. ‘Too much training is being left to the schools to teach. MBA’s are losing jobs over their meal habits.’”



Despite her tomboy tendencies at home, Tanda’s mother taught her to sew, cook, and value education. After high school, Tanda started a career in nursing but realized she was afraid of shots, which made that profession quite unappealing. As nurses’ aid, Tanda witnessed a live birth. She attributes this experience to her reticence regarding childbirth. Anything you might have glamorized about the process flies right out the hospital window.  She still wanted to work with people, teaching family and home values. After her mother died and her fifth and last child was born, Tanda used money left to her to go back to school for teaching.


As a teacher of Family & Consumer Science, renamed and modernized from the more traditional Home Economics, Tanda is reminded daily of the increasing role of technology in the world of her students and in her own life.


Today, Tanda calls herself bi-lingual. “I use a Mac [computer] at home and a PC at work.” At work, she emphasizes the lessons she learned growing up, that “no success compensates for value in the home.” Technology is changing family and relationships. Tanda sees too much emphasis on the computer time, while family time suffers. Computer users, young and old, need to balance time spent facing a little colorful screen with real face-to-face time.


For this reason, Tanda works with Shane to review the available technology to help grandparents connect to their grandchildren rather than separating them. If your grandchildren are going to be surfing the web, why not talk to Grandma over videochat? Grandparents long for those lost moments that distance separates. Seeing the children online doesn’t replace the touch of precious little fingers but pictures and heart-to-heart conversations go a long way to bridging the gap.


Recently, Tanda created a webpost of both projects to do online (through e-cards, etc.) and to print off and do together. The web is a great resource for reasons to get off the computer – like finding recipes to cook together and doing projects together. Sometimes grandparents can fill in the teaching gap that parents get too busy to realize is missing. Parents today are going in so many different directions and sometimes basic disciplines are lost.


While learning the latest technologies is important to any new graduate, Tanda emphasizes the importance of better social skills and etiquette, things that aren’t learned over the internet. “Too much training is being left to the schools to teach. MBA’s are losing jobs over their meal habits.”


Tanda pulls from what she teaches at school for the websites and vice versa. Some of the subjects she teaches in school include nutrition and food science, interior design, finance, social & physical sciences, and family relationships.


From her own farming background, she teaches students sewing the hem in pants to prolong the garment’s life, repairing and repurposing household items to stay in one’s budget and using leftovers creatively rather than always going out to eat. Tanda adds, from her years of training, “80-90% of diseases are lifestyle related: obesity, heart disease, diabetes. Children need to know how to make good food choices, how to plan a nutritious meal and how to live on their own when the time comes.”


With the world becoming a global economy, Tanda teaches students to appreciate other types of food and where they come from culturally. Technology is making the world a smaller place so people are traveling farther -- but the family is suffering. Children are not raised around extended family, learning to laugh with a silly uncle or take lessons from the crafty aunt. Adequate websites that share ideas and keep family traditions documented are increasingly useful in bringing together family from all over the world.


With a renewed vision to help connect loved ones, Tanda and Shayne have learned to look at all technology through “grandparent glasses” and to provide a valuable resource for everyone for years to come. Their articles and advice all stem from their desire to promote family values and bring families closer together where they can love and learn from each other. Tanda coined the term TLC because it represents the “tender loving care” a grandparent has for a grandchild and the “Technology” used for “Loving” and Connecting.”



Tanda Packer (Grammy Tanda) has a degree in Home Economics Education, and has been teaching high school since 1988. She enjoys keeping current with teen lives of today and keeping in touch with her own family of 5 children and 8 grandchildren through any and all available technologies She and her husband, Shayne, are co-authoring a book on connecting grandparents and their grandchildren through technology. is a website about grandparenting and technology. It's where grandparents can discover technologies that will help them connect with their grandchildren in new ways. The Grandparent Project allows other grandparents to join the fun!


Thank you Tanda, for sharing your Story with us.


Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.
© 2009 by
Sarah Peppel and Story of My Life®

And don't forget to read Shayne Packer's Story as well!

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Member Since
Nov 2008
Grama Barb said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Lovely Story

A truly warm lovely story, Tanda.  I am looking forward to the book you and Shayne are writing. All the best in that venture!

Member Since
Aug 2007
Agnes Williams said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009

That made me chuckle to think about raising all those children in today's day and age. I know for my mother it was a lot different and many of their era - children were bodies to be put to work to make the household survive. Boy am I sure glad that we didn't have to go through 12-14 labors! Hoo boy they were strong ladies.... lovely story.

Member Since
Dec 2008
Shayne Packer said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Tanda, you are me sweetie!

Tanda, This is a wonderful story, and so true!
You did a wonderful job raising our five children — with my help, of course. ;-) Our grandkids love spending time with you, whether it's in person, or on a videochat. It's fun to help other grandparents learn about technology. 
Tanda, allow me to express my love for you in public. But how can I say it without sounding mushy? -- Oh, here goes anyway... You are my sweetie, the love of my life, my loving wife, my best friend, my favorite person, a good listener, the best cook, a wonderful mother, a fun grammy, a successful educator, a role-model for the youth you teach, an inspiration to mothers and grandmothers, very spiritual, a high-tech grandma, a talented craftswoman, and you're a cutie too!  - Your loving husband, Shayne

Member Since
Jan 2009
Sam Henderson said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
*he says with an Irish brogue*

:) Tanda - love it that you've raised what sounds like a pretty amazing family. @Shayne - our writing assignment for the writing group on SOML is to write a love letter to someone you care about due- Feb 14th of course - (in the middle part click on "Request to join this Group

Member Since
Jul 2008
Greta Schäfer said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009

sorry, can you delete my first comment Tanda? I mean to say: that opening part was hilarious:      “Well, my mom had 14 kids, her mom had 14 kids, and her mom had 11 kids, and her mom had 12 kids. . .” Shayne Parker said jokingly when Tanda, his newly engaged fiancé, brought up the topic of how many children they would have. Tanda’s gleaming blue eyes shot sideways as she interrupted with a firm tone, “That’s where tradition stops right there, buddy!”

Member Since
Dec 2008
Shayne Packer said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Thanks, Sarah

Sarah - Tanda's story is delightful. You bring out the best in a person. For Tanda though, it's ALL good! ;-)

Member Since
Feb 2009
Emily Fugal said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
A great Mom!

Aren't I lucky to have such a great Mom?!  She has sure taught me a lot, both about traditional and modern living.  And I sure am glad she stopped the tradition of having 14 kids, a lot less grandbaby pressure for me!!!  Thanks, Mom!  You are the BEST!!!!!

Member Since
Dec 2008
Shayne Packer said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Very funny, Emily

Haven't I told you the 14 kids tradition skips a generation? You're next! So get busy! ;-)

Member Since
Apr 2008
Chuck Stallong said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Uh oh Emily

Looks like you just opened a can of worms!!!! lol

Member Since
Dec 2008
Tanda Packer said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Thanks for sharing your thoughts

For all me new friends, thank for your encouraging words and great ideas. A special thanks to Shayne and Emily. I am blessed to have such a wonderful family. Extra special thanks to Sarah. It's a beautiful article. Your gift with words is amazing !

Member Since
Feb 2009
Kristi Koger said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Thanks Mom!

Don't I have such a wonderful Mom! I'm glad that featured her (Tanda), so everyone else knows as well. I love all of the valuable lessons that my mom has taught, and continues to teach me. I think she is a rare jewel in our society and especially in the education system. Tanda is the perfect combination of good ol' home values and modern advancements. Although she is far away from me and my kids, my mom always makes time to connect with us (thanks video chats)! I feel like I am loaning out my mom to all of her students on the East coast that she has "adopted" and shared these same values with. I am now the nurse (fulfilling her original plans without the fear of needles), and she is serving her more suited purpose of being "Mom" to so many of the next generation. It's all as it should be. Thanks Mom, I love you!

Member Since
Dec 2008
Shayne Packer said:
posted on Feb 05, 2009
Kristi said it well

Kristi - That is a wonderful tribute to mom, and so true indeed. You are an amazing daughter. Now let's see if you can beat Emily to our 14 kids tradition! (just kidding)

Member Since
Aug 2008
Adara Bernstein said:
posted on Feb 19, 2009

This truly made me LOL. My mom was one of many as were her aunts & uncles with their big ole' families. Half the time we don't know who's who and have to ask "how are you related to me" during family reunions :)