Growing Old Gracefully

Growing Old Gracefully

The other day my oldest granddaughter complimented me on my flexibility. I told her I try to work on my good health and wellness each and every day. She said I was a good role model and hoped she could grow old gracefully and follow in my footsteps. I told her by the time she was my age, living to 100 would be normal. I don’t know if living to 100 is a good thing or not, but medicine will become more exact and I’m sure she will make it if she puts her mind to it.

I know she complimented me because she’s my grandchild and she is very caring and nurturing. Her comment, “You have great flexibility!” Was probably followed with a comment made under her breath, “For an old lady,” or maybe not. It did make me smile, however, and her comment, “Growing old gracefully” did make me pause. What does growing old gracefully actually mean? I don’t think I’ve ever done anything gracefully and I certainly don’t think growing older is one of them.

Anymore, I try to remember to use a railing while walking up and down steps. I don’t always need the railing, but I know I should use it. Is using the railing growing old with grace?

Practicing Health & Wellness

I try to exercise each and every day, whether it’s walking, playing pickleball or taking a class at the YMCA. During nice weather, I like to ride my bike, but not when it’s cold or the wind is howling. Is exercising growing old gracefully?

I also focus on giving back to the community and others not as fortunate. Volunteering in my church and the Lincoln community brings me great joy.

I decided I need to find a new word for my daily progression in life. I googled the term, growing old gracefully and came upon a website about a new class led by Maria Shriver, which focuses on radically redefining age. Of course, the web class was earlier in the year and it probably cost a jazzilion dollars, but I did see a note about not surrendering your passions or your abilities as you age. I need to remember that and share it with others.

Finding New Hobbies

I told my granddaughter, I need to keep challenging myself and search for activities or people to keep me smiling and happy. She told me to let her know if there was anything she or the other grandkids could do to help. I told her they would be the first I’d contact if I felt that need.

The next day I was shopping at Walgreens for face cream. I was frustrated as each face cream I looked at was labeled, “Anti-aging.” Why? What’s so bad about aging? I need happy face cream, not Debby Downer face cream. I wanted somewhere over the rainbow face cream, not you’re on death’s doorstep face cream. I called my granddaughter and told her about my ah-ha moment and my need for face cream. She calmly told me to take a deep breath and relax. She reminded me why products are labeled and it was all about them trying to sell more and cash in on the big bucks. I thanked her for her wisdom, grabbed a face cream and immediately removed the label when I got home. That’ll show those whippersnappers!!

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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Talking to my Grandkids About Ukraine

Talking to my Grandkids About Ukraine

Every day, for over a month, I have been anxious to get more information about the war in Ukraine. Every day provides a change in the situation as Russia continues to cause uncertainty in Ukraine and around the world. Some news broadcasters believe the Russian aggression against their neighbors will continue to spread until Russia takes over the land they possessed before the USSR fell apart. While not all United States citizens are on the same page, it is the most unifying event we’ve had in years. As usual, I wondered where my grandchildren were in their understanding and support of Ukraine. I need to keep reminding myself, they are not retired and have school and work to occupy their minds. Here are a couple of their questions and a summary of our shared thoughts.

Asking Questions about Ukraine

“Can Putin just do this and get away with it?” My granddaughter isn’t the only one asking this question. Everyone around the world has a similar question. Putin’s bully behavior is nothing new, but it is getting us closer to another world war. Our discussion about another world war made them think about the Nazis. When they were in high school, WWII was studied but they never had a reason to make connections to events that were happening in their lives, in real-time. The comparison of Putin’s actions in Ukraine and his threat of nuclear bombs gave them pause.

Another question thrown to the group was, “How is this affecting us?” One grandkid quickly responded with, “When was the last time you filled your car up with gas?” We all giggled a little, but soon realized the connectedness of the world in which we live. My grandson is studying business and commented how all the stock markets around the world have plunged.

A granddaughter commented on the amount of humanitarian aid countries from all over the world are offering to Ukraine. “The aid is amazing and I’m sure greatly appreciated, but I wonder if, in the grand scale, it will be enough.” They wondered how they could help. They are all strapped for money so giving a monetary amount is not an option. I asked if there were any rallies, marches or prayer vigils they could lend their voices to. They agreed to look into it. I also reminded them to be welcoming to refugees, all refugees. My comment was followed with a, “Duh, grandma!!” Yep, my bad.

Staying Connected in Uncertain Times

I brought our conversation to a close with my most recent contact with a refugee from Ukraine. After I retired from education, I keep in contact with school kids by volunteering my time to TeamMates and the North Star ELL programs. It was pre-pandemic when I was linked with a North Star freshman who had arrived from Ukraine one week earlier. It was my charge to assist her in adapting to conversational English. Yullia could not speak a word of English and I, obviously could not speak Ukrainian. Soon, I realized we were teaching each other many things. We would walk around the building. I would point at an object (i.e., door) say the word, and Yuliia would translate it into Ukrainian on the app on her phone. We spent the entire year learning together and by its end, Yuliia no longer needed my assistance. She was amazing.

Telling the grandkids this story brought back many wonderful memories. I reminded all four of them there are many ways to connect with people and events around the world, but most importantly, they need to keep connected with me!

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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Seamstress Not for Hire

Seamstress Not for Hire

There was a time when I could sew. There was a time when my sewing machine worked and not in need of repairs. There was a time when I had time…. No wait, I’m retired and have all the time in the world. I remember making our daughters clothes from actual patterns. I also made the granddaughters some clothes, but mostly costumes for the 4th grade trip to the one-room schoolhouse, or for Halloween trick and treating. I’m guessing I needed a project away from my daily education routine. I do know things have changed and I can barely see well enough to thread a needle.

Hemming My Grandaughter’s Dress

In the winter of 2021, my middle granddaughter wanted me to shorten a long formal she had worn in high school. She thought it was still cute and could possibly wear it in college. No problem. When she brought it over, the skirt of the dress was made of two types of tulle. Hemming the dress would be difficult as the material was so fine. Heck, the dress didn’t even have a hem. So together, we decided to cut it. She tried it on, I measured it in the front and we were confident we could do it. A makeover.

We cut the dress very slowly, as the material was difficult to cut even with a roller blade, but we were successful. When we finished, she tried on the dress. Looking at her when she made her way into the kitchen, I thought wow, we did a great job. Then she turned around. What the heck? I could see her underpants. We were so careful with our measurements, I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. Then I realized I had forgotten to take into account her little fanny. Even though it’s a little one, it no longer looked so little. The back of the dress went up at least two inches and was something she could wear if she worked at a naughty bar.

Seamstress No Longer for Hire

Last week, almost on the anniversary of my last sewing escapade, my youngest granddaughter asked if I would shorten the straps on her floor-length fancy dress. Thinking they would be small spaghetti straps, I quickly agreed, I’ve got this! Bring it on!! No such luck. The straps were not the thin strands of spaghetti, but they weren’t terrible. I would have to take a bit of care with the shortening them but I was confident.

Finding the right color of thread was my first hurdle. The dress was a green color, but not a normal green. I went to three different fabric stores before I found a match. Then, the straps had ruffles on the outer edge. How was I going to figure that out? I asked a friend for advice and I soon had a strategy.

I did need assistance from my husband to thread the needle and I was ready to go. And my sewing project was complete. Whew! Our youngest granddaughter hasn’t been home to try it on yet, but I believe shortening of the straps will work out. The only reason it wouldn’t meet her approval is if she grows two inches taller in the past three weeks.

I’m taking down my shingle for any major “sewing” tasks, but will continue to shorten straps. With these Grandma hands, they are no longer for hire.

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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Thursdays with My Grandson

Thursdays with My Grandson

I’ve always enjoyed the playdates I had with my grandkids when they were young. Those were the good old days when they had time to come over to our house and play. We did artwork with the help of Michael’s art store. The theme of most creative pieces centered around the next holiday. I never knew how long the artwork lasted once the kids took them home. It didn’t really matter, as the purpose of our playdates were to play and be with each other. We loved getting together in the warm months swimming or hiking in Wilderness Park. Boo at the Zoo was always a winning event, one I still enjoy. Then there were the hours spent at our farm, no matter what the season. Scoping out frogs in the pond, driving the 4-wheeler and sledding were huge hits. Making s’mores around the little fire was always a hit. What could be better than marshmallows and chocolate? Now that I think about all those memories, maybe the playtime was more for my benefit than theirs. I wonder.

Staying Connected As My Grandkids Get Older

Right now, my grandson is the only one of my grandkids still living in Lincoln. My granddaughters are still in regular contact with me, and I’m glad Zoom and FaceTime are pieces of technology I understand. I’m appreciative they all are willing to participate in our frequent “gatherings”. Actually, I probably “see” them more now than when they were in high school.

I’ve learned playdates to swim or go to the movies are no longer on our list of things to do together. I have learned to adjust and still get my time with him. That statement sounds a little selfish, and yes, I’m guilty. The selfishness is selfishly aligned with the need to get help from him. I’ve found I need more help around the house, the yard and at the farm. Having help with moving big pieces of furniture, climbing ladders, etc. has been a big help to us! With my grandson’s work schedule and school schedule, he doesn’t have a lot of time, but we’ve discovered early Thursday afternoons work for both of us.

Grandson Thursdays

This week was no exception in my need for assistance. I have a new used car which we purchased from my husband’s sister. It’s a great small SUV with many bells and whistles but limited instructions. Or, I should say, limited instructions that I can understand. I had previously made a list of my new, used auto needs – syncing my phone to the car, identifying my favorite contacts, setting my radio stations, opening the back hatch with my foot, just to name a few. When I gave my grandson my list, he first gave me a questioning look, which reminded me of a kid saying to the old grandma, “You really don’t know how to do this?” Or “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He quickly adjusted his look and just smiled saying, “Let’s get started.”

I was in awe of his ability to navigate the instructions and prompts the car gave him. I kept asking him, how did you do that? He just smiled and slowly talked me through each of the steps. I discovered he is not only strong but smart with technology. He was not afraid to explore the dashboard screens, understood the language and enjoyed helping me.

I value my Grandson Thursdays and look forward to seeing him each week. One last thing, I do bribe him by sending him home with all of our leftovers from the week. Maybe that’s why he is so eager to help me during my selfish times of need.

Maybe I should have called this Blog, A Grandson’s Thursdays with the Old Lady Who Gives Me Food.

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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From Generation to Generation

From Generation to Generation

The Holiday season was a great one for our family. All the grandkids make it back to Lincoln. We were together for Christmas and the following week. We laughed, we talked about what was going on in our lives and they even had time to help me take down some of the decorations. They joked about some of our treasured tree decorations their moms made at our church Advent Party. As the grandkids were taking the tubs of decorations to our basement they decided they wanted to play pool. It’s been a long time since they’ve played but they were all anxious to see if their skills were any better. We divided into teams and the game was on.

We soon realized my grandson was a tad better than the rest of us. I couldn’t figure out why until he told us his friend has a pool table and he plays once a week. After that comment, we all wanted to be on his team. They are just competitive enough to keep it interesting.

My grandson noted our pool table was very old compared to his friend’s. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to share the story of our pool table.

Grandparents Generosity

My grandfather and grandmother lived on a farm outside of Crete and one year in the late ‘20s or early ‘30s, they were visited by a family from Illinois. During the visit, they had a car accident and their daughter was severely injured. I soon realized the grandkids hadn’t listened as intently to me as they were now since I read to them the story, Peter Rabbit. The visiting family had to return to their farm in Illinois, so they left their daughter with my Grandparents until she had recovered from her injuries and could manage the return trip home. My grandparents were very giving and were anxious to help out. After months of rest and rehabilitation, the family from Illinois returned to pick up their daughter. Much to my grandparents’ surprise, the family brought their old slate pool table with them, which they offered as payment for taking care of their daughter. Medicare should be this good!

My grandkids were enthralled with the story, so I continued. When my grandparents moved into Crete, they didn’t have room for it in their small home, so they gave the table to my parents. When my parents eventually moved into a senior living complex, our home was the only one big enough for the table so we were lucky enough to receive it.

Generations of Love

All four grandkids were amazed at the generosity of my grandparents, amazed at the age of the pool table and politely asked who would receive the pool table next. I laughed and said we weren’t ready to pass it on quite yet, but it would be something I’d think about soon. We talked about the generations it was in our family. How each of those generations is kept firmly together because of one single act of kindness. Stories are many and they will continue with our family connections. We all agreed these family generational connections surround us, shelter us and uphold us each and every day. This conversation was the best Holiday gift ever, unwrapped and from the heart.

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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Looking at All Sides of an Issue

Looking at All Sides of an Issue

I read the following the other day and I thought it made a great deal of sense as I wonder what my grandkids are thinking about today’s world:

You can give them your love, but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

-Kahil Gilbran

I don’t follow a prophet’s advice all the time, but I do try to keep an open mind. The 2020 election, the state and national political divisions, climate change, racial equality and women’s rights are all issues where I hold strong feelings. As a public educator, it was always important not to share my thoughts about certain subjects without acknowledging all points of view. While teaching in the classroom or working with parents, teachers or community members, it could certainly be a challenge. Sometimes it was difficult for me to hold my tongue, but I did for the most part because it was my job. In our present political climate, things have changed and I wonder if I would have been as successful as I was in the good old days. This quote got me to thinking about my grandkids.

Recognizing My Beliefs are Not My Grandkids’ Beliefs

I have never been hesitant to talk to the grandkids about politics or the real world, but I never really felt like I had to visit with them about issues. Somehow I just assumed they held the same beliefs I did. Kind of like an inherited gene. My mantra has always been to let the grandkids determine for themselves where they stand on issues which are important to them. They will sometimes ask me about a protest sign they see in my garage or pictures of me participating in a march. When they were much younger, they would always join me in the MLK march from the NU Union to the Capital. Or more recently a couple of the granddaughters marched with me voicing our beliefs on women’s rights.

Over the past four years, things have changed. I started seeing how the political division is tearing some families apart and I got a little concerned. I didn’t think our family would have problems, but on the other hand, I didn’t really know.

Where We Stood on Current Events

A couple of weeks ago, my grandson asked me my opinion of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Wow! A question that wasn’t related to sports? I was excited to discuss it with him but also knew not to tread too heavily with my thoughts without knowing where this conversation could lead. I told him I was disappointed with the verdict and stopped there and waited and waited.

My grandson stated he agreed with me, but it was his understanding that Wisconsin’s laws may have been written in such a way that supported the final verdict.

The Rittenhouse discussion then lead to other important issues happening in the United States and the world. He’s beginning to see how his income does not always meet his needs. I asked him for more information. Without giving me details of how much he earns, what his cost of living is, etc., he said it’s tough but he does have a budget he follows. He remarked at how someone can go into a pro sports program and make millions of dollars and be the same age. Our grandson, the quiet introvert, questioned the fairness of what the pro player was doing to benefit our society. Another great thought!

Looking at All Sides of an Issue

Thanks to LPS staff for training my grandkids and all students not to just read and listen to one source, but to look at all sides of an issue with multiple resources. Learning to talk civilly to each other, asking questions and sharing thoughts without getting upset is an essential skill. We can learn from each other! As one who is concerned about where we are going as a society, my grandson gives me hope and thoughts of pride!

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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A Progressive Grandma, That’s Me!

A Progressive Grandma, That’s Me!

I’ve always thought I was a progressive grandma. I have tried to model an accepting, caring, giving type of behavior. For years, I included the grandkids in my time volunteering with the Food Bank, Malone Center and Vacation Bible School. The grandkids stuck with me through thick and thin as we worked during rain storms, heat waves, and freezing weather during their summer and winter breaks. I wanted to make sure they knew there were people in the community who were in need and model for them ways to assist all Lincolnites. All four of them were troopers and I loved watching their growth for giving. I felt, and still feel, it was the best way I could be a good role model.

Changing with the Times

I recently sent the grandkids a picture of me volunteering at the Lincoln Food Bank filling bags of food for their Door Dash deliveries. They were amazed at the changes made within the past couple of years. Door Dash drivers deliver to seniors unable to leave their homes. How creative and amazing!

While we were discussing the changes made in the past several years, they all agreed things are vastly different from those “old” days and are thankful people are adjusting with the times. I silently wondered if they were referring to my ability to change with the times. I smiled and agreed we needed to keep up and adjust when needed. Internally, I thought, what the heck is going on?? We ended our FaceTime throwing kisses to the camera and looking forward to our next gathering.

Finding Where I Fit Today

I’ve always thought of myself as the hip grandma. Then I realized no one in the world uses the word hip anymore, What the heck, where was my mind taking me? My mind began to search for a place of reference so I could capture the moment. What was going on? Where was I in the whole scheme of things? What did the grandkids really think of me during this time of social media and internet overload?

The next thing which came to mind was the Progressive TV commercials that challenge young people not to be like their parents. What? I then gasped and wondered if my grandkids were worried about becoming their grandparents. I took a deep breath and realized they didn’t think they were becoming me, but they were teasing me in their own way. There were things they thought I was doing which were funny to them, but they were certainly not behaviors they were going to follow.

Continuing to Share in My Own Way

Live, Laugh and Love. Yes, I have a towel in our hall bath with those words embroidered on it. I thought it was fun and meaningful. I love including emojis in my texts to the grandkids. So what if I include a lot of hearts and smiley faces? I think they are cute. Confetti flowing in the text when someone achieves a goal is supportive and celebratory, isn’t it?

I asked my grandkids if I was acting old and causing them grief when I did some of these things. They laughed—notice no emoji—and shared that they appreciated my correspondence, and loved seeing my views. There was no ill will, just a great deal of teasing back and forth. We all agreed I was several steps behind their parents and multiple steps behind them, but I was not a loser. Our way of communicating is unique, and they agreed they would continue working with me to ease into a new method of connecting with each of them. Kind of a new way to Live, Laugh and Learn together, even if I am donating the towel to charity.

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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Small Changes to Make the World Better

Small Changes to Make the World Better

During the pandemic, I tried lots of new things. I enrolled in many online lessons to stay active during lockdown. I also used these diversions to provide some levity to my grandkids’ lives. I didn’t expect them to take on my new challenges or learn new skills, but I wanted to provide a humorous moment and make them smile when they looked at my picture and read about my experience.

Doing Everything to Stay Busy

I took online tap dancing lessons. I tried new techniques for baking bread and crazy desserts. I exercised with YouTube Zumba, weight lifting, using dumbbells and yoga. Every new activity I experimented with taught me new skills and took up some of my “down” time. I have not continued with all of those newly acquired skills, but I have with a few. One of the new lessons I have continued to act on is one of learning about climate change and how I can support climate action in our community and country.

During the pandemic, I joined a committee at our church called the Climate Action Team. Through our monthly zoom classes, I learned about climate change in Nebraska, the United States and the world. The country has been divided for some time over many issues, even climate change. It’s become so divisive the term climate change is often in question. Do we call it a climate crisis? Extreme weather? Global warming? Climate variability?

Asking for My Grandkids’ Opinions

I contacted my grandkids and asked what they thought about climate change. I asked nicely, knowing they are working and studying all of the time. Our zoom conversation went well, according to Grandma’s standards. They were all attentive and didn’t leave the conversation. Not all of the grandkids were always actively involved, but they did give me their attention.

One of the major discussions revolved around why people don’t believe in what’s happening in the world. For them, summers are hot and winters are cold. They’ve always worn shorts in the summer and winter, so what’s new? They all commented on the increase in our national weather patterns. The number of hurricanes, floods and droughts all happening at the same time. A couple of them did admit they hadn’t paid any attention to what was going on in past year’s weather patterns, but they did know the past year has been devastating. Although none of them had been personally impacted by these weather changes, they all knew at least one or two friends who have experienced a traumatic weather event. It did cause them to pause and reflect how these changes could impact them personally.

I then asked the grandkids what we could do as a group or as individuals. They each came up with some good ideas, including not using plastic bottles, walking when possible rather than driving everywhere, and doing a better job of recycling. All great ideas!

Making Simple Changes

I left my Grandma Zoom discussion with a couple of challenges. I asked them to continue to learn about these changes and take action to get more involved. I asked them to hope for the future of our earth so their grandchildren will not have to worry about the climate in their lifetime.

I closed with a reminder that when listening to a denier, find commonalities first. This is a good strategy in all areas of life.

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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Dealing with “Zoom Dysmorphia”

Dealing with “Zoom Dysmorphia”

I learned the meaning of a new phrase the other day. As a retired educator, I hope I continue to learn new words, theories and skills. You’re never too old. My grandkids continue to teach me new techniques for using the phone and live streaming on the TV. You’re never too old to learn, but remembering the new skills can be a challenge. Thus, all of my grandkids are on speed dial to assist me each and every day!

A Rise in “Zoom Dysmorphia”

The new phrase I learned was “Zoom dysmorphia.” The phrase refers to the anxiety individuals experience during a Zoom call or meeting where they are concerned about how they look and are being perceived by others. These individuals feel they are stuck inside a box and want to change their facial features, such as thinking their nose is too big and it needs to be reduced, getting rid of those unwanted wrinkles, etc. Thank goodness the Zoom shot is only of the shoulders up. As the Delta variant has brought back the mask mandate, it made me realize some of my groups may be returning to gathering by Zoom. How did my peers deal with Zoom meetings? How did I respond to seeing my picture on the laptop screen? How did using Zoom affect my grandkids with all of their remote classes last year and this year?

I recall some of my peers made tough decisions during the isolation time. Many chose not to Zoom. They didn’t like seeing their face on the screen and many others indicated they weren’t confident in joining a Zoom meeting. Where’s that “you’re never too old” attitude I try to overcome each and every day. I would try to coach them, but it was easier for them to opt-out of the meeting.

Making Myself More Comfortable On-Screen

I reflected on my experiences with Zoom and realized it made me stretch and grow. However, the dysmorphia points were well taken. I experimented with my lighting in the room and how far away from my laptop was from my face. If it was too close, yes, I could see nose hairs. If the laptop was too far away, I looked like a pinhead compared to the other participants, which wasn’t good. I found a happy medium and have stuck with it every time I used Zoom.

I asked each of my grandkids how they handled their Zoom meetings and classes. At first, I didn’t give them the definition of Zoom dysmorphia as I didn’t want their responses to only be a reaction to the phrase. Their answers were short and sweet like they usually are when they want to appease me. I could hear them thinking, ‘why does grandma want to know this?’, ‘does grandma want to Zoom again?’, ‘what’s wrong with FaceTiming together?’ No matter what they were silently thinking, they all responded to me.

“I didn’t like Zoom classes. I learn better in person.”

“I Zoomed, but I turned my camera off when I wasn’t talking.”

“When I Zoomed, I missed walking to my classes and seeing my friends.”

“Zooming is tough as it’s too easy to get distracted with other things, like my phone.”

Zoom Worries Aren’t Always Physical

It was obvious the grandkids didn’t like to Zoom, and probably still don’t, but it wasn’t because of Zoom dysmorphia and the fear of looking at themselves on their screen. It was because it was a change and they didn’t get to be together with their friends. I continued the conversation and I was proud of all four grandkids for their high self-esteem and confidence in new situations. I was also glad they aren’t thrilled with Zoom, and would rather be in person. I’m also very proud they have all been vaccinated and careful during this continuously dangerous time. Not everyone their age is so thoughtful and understanding of science. They are leaders!

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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Accepting My Graying Hair

Accepting My Graying Hair

During COVID-19, John and I were very isolated. We only ventured out to the grocery store and drugstore. I think we survived rather well and made good use of Zooming with the grandkids and learning how to FaceTime. They were always very patient with me and gave me instructions when I needed them – even when I didn’t realize I needed them.

Growing Out My Natural Hair

One thing that I did early in 2021, during the height of the pandemic, was decide to discontinue coloring my hair. Since I never saw anyone and we were all wearing masks, what good was it doing? I’ve never colored my hair professionally so it wasn’t a matter of money—it was just a matter of why should I continue the process?

Gradually, my hair started to grow out, but it was still difficult to see the gray. I should say it was difficult to see the gray until I got my hair cut very short. Now you can definitely see the gray…or should I say white? At this point, I’m not too picky about how I describe my hair.

I also forget I’ve let it go natural until I see an old friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Our minister greeted me at church saying, “Welcome!”, as if he was speaking to a stranger. Boy, was he embarrassed when I introduced myself to him.

Showing the Grandkids

Since I don’t see our grandkids every day or every week, I tried to give them a heads up about my hair status without making it sound as though I made a bad decision. The granddaughters closed their eyes as I walked into the room. I took my place at the table and said, “Surprise!”

“I think your hair looks good.” The affirmation statement was nice but when I caught them looking at my hair, I could tell it was a little shocking.

“Grandma, your hair doesn’t look that bad.” Hearing this made me laugh. There are so many degrees in the spectrum of badness. I pondered which point on the spectrum she was referring to.

“Maybe you could tease your hair to make it look thicker and spread the color around.” Upon returning home, they teased away until we all realized there is no covering up the gray, let alone the thinning nature of this grandma’s hair. We all had another great laugh.

Making the Best of the Situation

The granddaughters tried their best to make things better for me but then soon realized I didn’t have any problem with my hair color—perhaps the thinness—but not the color. Once they realized my level of acceptance, they reassured me that they liked my independence and willingness to take a risk and be natural.

I always learn from my grandkids, but with this hairy experience, I learned even more. I learned my grandkids want to please me—they want me to feel good about myself and will do anything they can to build me up.

I did tell them I was still going to have a money jar for dying my hair. Now, however, I was going to give them the money and not give it to my hairdresser. They all loved the idea! They also requested if there’s a future lock down with the Delta variant, I can’t color my hair pink. I agreed.

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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Learning How to Play Pickleball

Learning How to Play Pickleball

As I age, I have tried to keep active. Just keep moving. I play golf, go to the gym and play pickleball. The grandkids appreciate my efforts and ask often what I’m doing to keep active. I’ve told them story after story of my sporting past, which is non-existent.

When I went to middle and high school, it was pre-Title IX and there were no opportunities for females to play sports. I’ve told them the story so many times that when the subject comes up, the grandkids go, “We know, Grandma. If there would have been sports, you would have be really good and probably would have won a state medal.” I don’t know if I ever said anything about a state medal, but they seem to like making the story sound even better.

Playing Pickleball

I have really enjoyed learning about and playing pickleball. The camaraderie is great, and the groups I play with laugh and tease each other all the time. My grandkids have even joined in the fun a couple times. The grandkids are natural athletes and don’t seem to have the problems I have getting to or seeing the ball. Their hand-eye coordination is also amazing. One of the grandkids learned to play pickleball in a PE class at their school, while the other three just picked it up by watching and listening to us.

When we play as a family, they frequently laugh at my ability to always be late getting to the ball or letting the ball hit my finger instead of the paddle. OK, not always, but more times than not. I’ve watched all four grandkids play sports, and they are very competitive. However, it’s another thing completely to be standing across from them at the net and see the intense concentration in their eyes. It’s a little more intimidating than watching them from afar in the stands.

This year, I’ve found playing pickleball a little bit more challenging. Besides just being another year older and slower, the arthritis in my right hand is much worse. My hands are more swollen than in the past with the tips of my fingers pointing in all sorts of directions. My right hand is my dominant hand, and of course, is the worst of the two.

Trying to Improve My Game

When we play pickleball together, the grandkids give me tips to improve my form. Now with my hand limitations, each grandchild has given me suggestions on how to improve, or should I say compensate for my handicap and stop having the ball hit my thumb. Since each grandchild has experienced some type of injury and recuperation, they are full of suggestions for protecting my thumb from the pickleball hitting it. One granddaughter told me to watch the ball, but that’s easier said than done!

My grandson, the baseball player, thought I should get a catcher’s thumb guard. He indicated some catchers wear them under their glove to protect their thumb. I purchased a thumb guard from a local sporting goods store. The guard molds around your thumb after a 30-minute wait. After the wait time, I tried to slip the guard off and back on my thumb, but it was too tight. We realized the knuckle on my thumb is so much bigger than the base of my thumb, and there was no way it could slip on without some pain.

The next suggestion was to wrap or tape my thumb. We tried that idea as well, but we found the tape kept my thumb straight, and I wasn’t able to get a good grip on the handle of the pickleball paddle.

Finding a Solution

Then a granddaughter, probably the most accident prone of them all, said she had an idea. She ran to her room and brought back splints she has previously used on her fingers. Again, we had a little bit of negotiation with the splints and the thumb, but finally decided on the medal index finger splint. We all agreed the plan was to cut off the end of the splint and use it for my thumb. The grandkids carried out the plan, and I was all set.

I continue to be amazed at my grandkids and their ability to help me through all stages of my life. They were thrilled to help solve my problems. I don’t think they believe it will improve my hand-eye coordination or my speed to get to the ball. I don’t think there is any cure for that other than practice—or perhaps a time machine.

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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Starting a Business During the Pandemic

Starting a Business During the Pandemic

This past year and a half has been interesting. Vaccinations have changed life dramatically. Being able to hug my grandkids with more gusto, probably much to their chagrin, since everyone has received their shots. Seeing book club friends for the first time in years brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes. Resuming my volunteer work also feels so wonderful! Most of us are now adjusting to our new normal, including our grandchildren.

Young adults, like the older generation, were split in their reactions to the past year and a half. Some didn’t change their behavior at all and continued their large gatherings near and far without masks. Others were more mindful and followed the science, wearing masks, but possibly being a little too trusting of close friends in very small gatherings. I’ll never know exactly what our four grandkids did, but I do know they were careful around us.

How Our Grandkids Adapted

Remote learning was not an easy thing for two of our grandkids. They needed more of a focus and visuals, rather than a screen. They adjusted and still received good grades, but it was a challenge. A third grandchild worked on internships and had a wonderful time.

Our fourth grandchild is an entrepreneur and was able to adjust without missing a beat. When not in class, she zoned in on her creative talents and ran with her thoughts like a horse running wild in an open field. This granddaughter started her career by stitching designs on T-shirts. She asked if I had any requests. I told her I like flowers. I like splashes of color. I like the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign. I thought those ideas would give her a range of topics to work on and fill up her time, however, to be honest, I wasn’t sure she would create anything. I never knew she even knew what to do with a needle and thread as I was the grandma who sewed on buttons and hemmed clothing in a grandchild’s time of need.

Much to my surprise, within a week I had three T-shirts—a blue one with five white flowers on the front, a gray shirt with a stitched multi-colored Nike swoosh on it, and a light gray shirt displaying the BLM symbol. I was pleasantly surprised with her ability to create my new wardrobe, thrilled for her learning a new skill and excited to see her enthusiasm for her accomplishments. Her beaming smile from ear to ear was priceless and will forever be etched in my mind.

Starting Her Own Business

During the pandemic, our granddaughter has started her own company with a website and Instagram account. Her Etsy sales are slow but growing. Obviously, I’m not familiar with those social media methods. I am familiar with seeing her display her creations at her booth at Omaha’s Junkstock event. She’s moved beyond T-shirts to earrings, jewelry plates and more. Fortunately, I was able to assist her for several days running her booth. During that time, I observed her interacting with her customers and helping with their purchases.

She may never be a “Martha Stewart” nor would I want her to be, but she does have passion and a drive to create fun and creative items which sell. Creating a small start-up company is a huge feat. Doing so during a pandemic is nothing short of a miracle. Yep, she’s my granddaughter. I’m not creative, but I’ll take some credit just because I’m her grandma!

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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