Navigating the Potholes of Life

Navigating the Potholes of Life

The end of winter and the beginning of spring always seems to bring challenges and surprises. We live in Lincoln, NE, and we know the weather is always changing. I find myself having bags of clothes ready to grab and go. Baseball starts early, and the rain added an umbrella to my usual bag of “layers,” which I pack to watch our grandson play. What I wasn’t ready for was the large amounts of rain received in parts of our state. I wasn’t ready for towns being flooded and the need for those families to relocate. I wasn’t ready for the need to help families affected by the flooding.

The Nebraska Floods

We saw videos on TV and pictures online. It was devastating, and I was at a loss of what I could do to help those affected by the floods. We donated money to the cause and supplies to help those in need. We hope our donations get to flood victims and are confident they will be used.

Then, Lincoln was put under a mandatory water restriction. That directly affected us. John and I wanted to do whatever we could to support our community and follow the law. My husband was a little concerned I didn’t flush the toilet all the time. He got over it. In the past, we never used plastic water bottles because of recycling concerns. We got over it. Bonus, we didn’t have to water our lawn because it was already under water.

We were pleased that within a few short days, the restrictions went from mandatory to voluntary to no restrictions. Being the hippie aged person I am, I was ready for the long haul, but because I’m not too much of a hippie, I was pleased to get back to normal. Full showers are a luxury no matter what your age is.

Did I say normal? What is normal? Normal winter weather produces weather-related challenges – like POTHOLES!

Dodging the Potholes

Every year our community has potholes, but this winter weather has put a few extra dents or dips in our roads. The other day, I found myself driving while straddling two lanes of the street in an effort to avoid the devastating potholes. I’ve heard horror stories about people losing their tire covers, denting their wheels or worse after they hit a huge hole.

Immediately, I went into grandma mode. If I was experiencing this, what were my grandkids experiencing during their driving excursions? I had visions of their car wheels coming off when they hit a pothole. In my mind, I saw them in a hospital bed because their car was stuck in a ten-foot hole. Grandmas can wish the best for their grandkids, but we can also fear the worst.

I realized I can get emotional and worry too much about my grandkids, who are no longer babies and don’t need to be babied. I also realized that potholes are a fact of life. The potholes in the streets of Lincoln will get fixed.

I then began thinking of the potholes in the lives of young adults. These potholes are also everywhere. The potholes of life may include risky behavior, not planning for the future, addictions – the list could go on and on. Successfully driving on the streets is also a road map for navigating through the potholes in life. The lessons might include be aware of your surroundings, anticipate what might be coming around the next curve, keep your eyes on the road and feel free to straddle the road of life.

Then I took a deep breath. I decided to take my own advice and not needlessly worry about my grandkids. Then, I took another deep breath and realized being a grandma includes loving, caring for, and yes, even worrying about the grandkids. Potholes will always be there.

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.

Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

Reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”

I love to read. Since retiring, I joined two book clubs and thoroughly love both. I find myself reading novels I didn’t even know existed and enjoy the challenge of learning and living within each book.

I’ve always wanted to read a book with my grandkids, but unfortunately reading is a school assignment to them. There have been times where I read the same books as my granddaughters. When the Harry Potter book series was published I purposely read the novels at the same time as my granddaughters. Unfortunately, my grandson was not as interested in the wizarding world, so once again he was left out.

The girls and I really enjoyed the process of ready and discussing the Harry Potter series. We celebrated by going to see the movies together. As I recall, we didn’t read the entire series, but reading, discussing and watching the movies together was priceless. I often wonder if we would ever read a book together again.

This holiday season I finally got the chance to restart the family book club with Michelle Obama’s Becoming.

Restarting the Family Book Club

This holiday season one of my granddaughters saw my book club list on the kitchen counter. She was surprised I was reading Becoming by Michelle Obama for that month’s book club meeting. My granddaughter had heard of the book in school and even asked to borrow it! 

Oh my! Could this be happening? Were my ears deceiving me?

Yes, my family book club was happening again! Even if our family book club only had two members and read this one book, I would’ve been thrilled! 

After reading the book we came together with our thoughts and questions about Becoming. I was very curious to see her discussion topics and questions. Amazingly, she left politics almost completely out of the picture, preferring to focus on the process of “becoming” or changing. What defined a becoming moment for Michelle Obama? What life changes and the emotions that followed led to those big moments of becoming? 

Our “Becoming” Moments

It was a great discussion. We reflected on our individual becoming moments. What led to those moments and how did they help make us the people we are today?

Sports were a predominant theme for my granddaughter’s becomings. A coach who really pushed her to the next level, a teammate who made her laugh, yet focus too. Those specific moments helped her pause and reflect on how these individuals shaped her into the person she is today. 

Although I am further along in my life, I shared with her that I, too, am still changing through my own becoming moments. I hope I never stop.

My granddaughter and I are similar in our passion for our community and helping others, but the process of becoming as a grandma is different from becoming as a grandchild.

My granddaughter’s mentors are challenging her to become an adult in a new and exciting world. I, on the other hand, have mentors my same age. We still challenge each other to learn, but it’s different. I no longer strive to be the best educator in the world now that I am retired. My focus is now on those becomings which can transform me into a better and more loving grandmother to my grandchildren and support them through their becoming moments. 

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.

Breaking Through to My Grandkids

Breaking Through to My Grandkids

For many reasons, communicating with teenaged grandkids can be difficult. I know I’m a lucky grandma because my grandkids live near me in Lincoln. However, I still don’t get a chance to see them as often as I would like, and even though I can see my grandkids every day, I may not be communicating very well. As my grandkids continue to get older and become more independent, I’m finding that I need to adjust my expectations to stay in touch.

Feeling Out of the Loop

I always thought of myself as adaptable, but adjusting to less communication with my grandkids was not something I ever anticipated.

My grandkids’ lives are different than they were in elementary and middle school. Now, they’re on their phones, they drive, they work, they study, they’re in sports, and sometimes they even have a “special” friend. I am not complaining! All my grandkids are growing into hard-working, young adults and they make me proud each and every day. However, maintaining quality conversations amongst all these distractions is hard.

I assumed my grandkids would always want to see their grandma and tell her what was going on in their lives. I still think my grandkids want to see me and talk to me, but I’m now competing for other things that need their attention like school, work and friends. I get it. These are life skills, which will turn them into wonderful, caring adults but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

In the Good Ol’ Days

As I write this blog, I’m reflecting back on my days as a teenager and my relationship with my grandparents. (Hmm, maybe I should have reflected on this before I started writing this blog!)

My greatest memories of my grandparents were when I was in elementary school. I would help my maternal grandmother work in her garden and she’d let me eat peas right out of the pods. I’m sure I made a dent in her yield! I remember visiting my paternal grandparents’ farm and learning how to collect eggs from the chicken coup. Collecting eggs, while avoiding the chicken poop, was always a challenge.

When I grew up and started high school, there were movies to see and friends to meet at the swimming pool or on the ice pond for skating. And, yes, I even did some studying. Come to think of it, maybe things aren’t so different?

Turning the Corner

There is something different now: technology. The phones, the texting, the instant communication has made it easier than ever to stay within arm’s length. So, maybe I don’t have it so bad after all? My grandkids don’t usually initiate a text, but they always respond when I send one.

This blog is certainly not ending as I intended. I think I’m ending it with my first, and maybe only, New Year’s resolution, albeit a little late. From now on, I’ll text each grandkid at least three times a week, but rather than telling them what I’m doing, or asking them questions about their day, I will just send them a positive statement. Something like what my grandparents said to me:

  • I’m grateful for you.
  • You have great ideas.
  • I love being your grandma.
  • I believe in you.
  • You are important.
  • You make me proud.

I’m not going to feel sorry for myself that I can’t speak to my grandkids as much as I want. I feel loved, needed and eager to show my grandkids how much I love them. Some things may have changed, but luckily some things will always be the same.

So, forget the Debbie Downer form of me in the first part of this blog. Focus on the positives, love your grandkids, and remember, you’ll need to change just as much as them!

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

Returning Gifts Online: Tips for Senior Citizens

Returning Gifts Online: Tips for Senior Citizens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some tips I found:

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

Operation Cheetos

Operation Cheetos

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

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

Operation Finale

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

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

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

Lessons from the Past

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

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

Don’t Worry Grandma

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

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

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

What Was In It for Me?

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

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

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

It’s Out of My Control

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

It’s Little Women!

It’s Little Women!

Recently, I took my granddaughters to the movie, Ocean’s 8. Our grandson had a baseball game, and it was his loss, both figuratively and literally. However, during the credits I was surprised when a familiar movie and novel appeared, Little Women. Queue a grandma’s excitement!

Previews & Remakes

I usually don’t enjoy the previews. If I was alone, I’d come to the movie 15 minutes after the start time just to avoid them (but I doubt I could find my seat in the dark theatre). I deal with the previews and I’m always on alert for a film I might enjoy seeing in the future. At the Ocean’s 8 movie, there was one preview that caught my eye. A film about a family with five daughters. What could go wrong?! It didn’t take me long before I realized it was a modern adaptation of Little Women. I got excited and whispered to the girls, “It’s Little Women!” They looked at me with glazed eyes and continued to eat their popcorn. They had no idea Little Women was a book that continues to inspire many (obviously not my granddaughters).

Previews over, the movie was on. We all settled into our Dream Loungers and watched with anticipation. Ocean’s 8 was a fun movie. No Oscars will be awarded to the cast, but we laughed. The movie is about a group of females breaking the law, getting even with a bad boyfriend and stealing lots of money. It’s everything you don’t want your teenage grandkids to learn lessons from for their future lives, but fun.

After our Ocean’s 8 screening, we stopped by McDonald’s to discuss the movie. The girls laughed at the funny parts and reviewed the scenes which were scary for them. We all enjoyed the idea of the women pulling the wool over the eyes of men. If nothing else, this was a strong female-dominated movie. My granddaughters are strong young women, but I hope that is the end of the comparison between the girls and the movie.

But Who Are the Little Women?

Then I jumped into educator mode and asked the girls if they had ever read or heard of the book, Little Women. Yes, they’d heard of it, but no, they’d never read it. Guilt took over my soul and I felt bad that, as their grandma, I hadn’t introduced them to this great novel. Not even the movie!

I did my best to recall the themes of the book: family relationships and behaviors, women’s love and marriage, sacrifice, work and social class. My strategy was to give them a theme and have them discuss it for a moment. It was my hope they would see how the themes are truly universal and timeless. Discussing family relationships and behaviors was easy. They shared how they can get upset with their parents or siblings, but their love for them is still strong. When we got to women’s love and marriage, their eyes glazed over. Only one of my granddaughters has had a boyfriend and she was certainly not going to talk about it. I decided not to push any further with my experiment. They knew I was excited about the book and the updated version of the movie — that was enough for me. It was certainly enough for them.

Times Have Changed

After I dropped off the girls, I reflected on how times have changed. Yet, I wonder if they’ve really changed. Neither of my grandmothers graduated from high school. They were young when they became the beloved wives of farmers. They worked hard each and every day in their homes and in the fields. I’m quite sure neither of them read Little Women. I realize I’m not better than them merely because I read the novel. My granddaughters will also probably never read Little Women, which certainly doesn’t make me better than they are. The key is to look at what is important: family and relationships, women’s love and sacrifice, and an understanding of social class. I know my grandmothers understood and lived those values. I also believe my granddaughters understand those values and will live their lives spreading the love with or without reading Little Women.

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.

When Spring Hasn’t Sprung

When Spring Hasn’t Sprung

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

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