Reconnecting With My Substitute Grandkids

Reconnecting With My Substitute Grandkids

The weekend of June 18 was certainly a fun one for me. It was filled with my involvement in a couple of community activism events. I’ve always worked hard to include my grandkids in my community activities. We marched in the Martin Luther King Youth Rallies for years, volunteered at the Malone Center handing out food to those in need, and we even marched at the capitol for Women’s Rights. Since my grandbabies have left town, at least for the time being, I can only send pictures and text them about my activities in Lincoln and hope they will in turn become more involved and participate in their own community events which mean something near and dear to their hearts.

Taking Part in Community Activism

Earlier in the spring, I signed up to walk in my church’s entry in the Pride Parade. Last year, several of the grandkids and I watched the Pride Parade participants walking around the Nebraska Capitol. It was fun to be an observer, so I was really looking forward to participating in the parade this year. My church group had matching t-shirts and loved the idea of sharing the love.

The highlight of the parade was not our church’s entry, although we were a merry and welcoming marching group. The highlight was joining with a couple of past Lincoln Southeast High School graduates who were also marching with our church. I remembered them as strong women athletes who lead Lincoln Southeast High School in women’s basketball to numerous Nebraska State Tournaments. I was thrilled to see them and we reconnected quickly and not so quietly. I had maintained some connection with these young women and we found we were reconnected with a renewed sense of energy. We were proud of our Pride Convictions and loved reliving their joyous youth and present successes in their lives.

The second highlight of the weekend was experiencing the 2022 Juneteenth Celebration at the Lincoln Malone Center. There were multiple tents that sheltered various organizations and non-profit groups offering support to the Lincoln families. The Malone Center was very well organized and I enjoyed walking through the tents and learning how the Lincoln community supports all citizens. I learned a great deal!

It was a terribly hot afternoon. I kept under the shade of the tents as much as possible and then moved to the shade around the water sprinkler children’s fun area at Trago Park. I thought it would be a great spot to watch the small kids running through the sprinklers. I cannot deny a part of me wanted to run around with the little kids in the water spray. I’m pleased to say I controlled my heated emotions and relaxed quietly in the shade.

I relaxed quietly until I heard the Juneteenth Celebration’s emcee speaking into the mic. I paused and thought I recognized the voice. I had no idea who the emcee was and dismissed any type of connection. As I continued to watch the water spray, I also continued to listen to the emcee. He was encouraging audience members to rap the ABCs following a beat on the piano. Since I felt a connection with the emcee’s voice, I left the shade of the water spray area and moved to the heat in front of the emcee’s stage.

Reconnecting With Former Students

I looked closely at the emcee and in an instant realized he was a Lincoln Southeast High School graduate while I was principal. I stood in the heat in front of the stage hoping the emcee would recognize me. Nope, no luck. My white hair and grandma body is no longer a visual connection to the kids I had in high school in the 90s. I waited patiently until the emcee had a break. I went up to him and introduced myself. He was thrilled to reconnect with me. We hugged, took pictures, laughed and even cried together. It was another amazing reunion!

The next day, I reflected on my weekend. I truly missed not seeing and being with my own grandkids. I shared with each of my grandkids my experiences and sent them accompanied pictures. There is no replacement for not being able to be with my grandbabies. However, what I did experience was the joy of having substitute grandkids with me that weekend. I was able to laugh, cry and hug my way through the weekend in a way I never expected. Somehow I wondered how I would deal with life without my grandkids being in Lincoln with me. Now I know I can hang in there, as long as I am active in the community, active in my Southeast and Northstar high schools, and continue to look forward to reconnecting with my substitute grandkids wherever they may be.

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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Bringing Nebraska to My Grandkids

Bringing Nebraska to My Grandkids

My husband, John, and I read the paper online every day. It’s not a perfect method as it adds more screen time for each of us and we actually prefer holding a paper in our hands. Print media is fondly remembered, but the online option was a decision we made and we’ve adjusted to the change.

On May 25, 2022, I read a local view on the opinion page entitled, Who do we want to keep? The opinion piece was written by a retired mother who lives in Lincoln and her daughter who now works and lives in Colorado. The premise was how some state officials are proposing keeping young professionals in Lincoln, since so many are leaving Nebraska. I thought it was a well-written piece and it made me think. Those pieces are worth my time and effort to read and digest. A couple of days later, I looked at the comments posted online referring to the article. Wow! I read some very differing views of the article. I was surprised about the varying degrees of responses until John informed me all opinion pieces are either loved or hated and readers love to share their two cents about the previous comment. Our divisions in this country don’t allow for much middle ground to allow compromise.

Talking to my Grandkids About Their Plans

Back to me thinking about the article part. After graduating from college, one of our daughters lived in Kansas and the other in Colorado. I truly put pressure on them to return to Nebraska because of my belief in the LPS school system. I truly believed, and still believe, Lincoln has an outstanding school system and I wanted to make sure the education of my grandchildren was the best it could be. Eventually, both daughters and their families made their way back to Lincoln. Three of our four grandchildren left Nebraska to attend schools in other states. Our fourth grandchild is going to school in Nebraska. The opinion piece made me wonder if the three granddaughters might someday return to Nebraska.

Their responses were varied and interesting but they all agreed they would probably not return to Nebraska to live. I asked them why. All three of the girls indicated they liked the opportunities and experiences they have had in the big city. They loved the diversity they experienced in college with foreign students and individuals who didn’t look like themselves. Each granddaughter individually stated they loved having people they knew really listen to their thoughts and dreams. They didn’t always agree with each other, but there was respect. Each granddaughter expressed the opportunity to learn about other cultures and shared fun experiences about trips to different areas of their respective communities, cultural events, markets and churches. Lastly, they felt they were truly accepted by others in their communities.

I told them their comments were well thought out, but I couldn’t imagine everything was perfect and every day was a kumbaya celebration. They laughed and agreed each of their lives wasn’t perfect, but for the most part they were all happy and wouldn’t change a thing.

Bringing Nebraska to Them

It’s important to note, each of our granddaughters are new to their real working world, living in apartments and enjoying their lives. Their opinions may change once they look for homes and begin contemplating their futures. Certainly marriage, children and working opportunities will all play a role in their decisions. However, when older generations, trying vainly to hold onto power, make decisions for, instead of with younger generations the prospects on attracting and retaining the next, young future Nebraskans, does not appear to be promising.

I told my grandkids if they choose not to return to Nebraska to live, I’ll bring Nebraska to them and split my time between here and whichever state they decide to live in. I’ll bring Nebraska to 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.

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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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You Are Loved, You Have a Purpose, You are an Inspiration

You Are Loved, You Have a Purpose, You are an Inspiration

Dear Reader:

You have been on my heart lately. I am often curious as to who actually reads my blogs. Each new month, I write, I delete, I rewrite, with the vision of you, my audience, in my heart as I prepare to share our stories. And while each month I share a small piece of my heart, this month has a different approach.

I am sure you have felt a wide range of emotions today. Maybe your day has been overflowing with blessings and joys. Maybe your day has been one stressful situation followed by another. Maybe you are completely exhausted. Maybe you are overwhelmed with grief. Maybe you are feeling inspired. Maybe you are filled with anticipation.

A Message to Readers

My dear reader, it doesn’t matter the stage of life you are in: the 20-something college student, the working parent, the single parent, the grandparent, the stay-at-home parent, or whatever the role, each day brings both joys and doubts. Each decade brings you new joys, new trials and tribulations, and new stories. And my hope is that each one of you can take away one small nugget of inspiration each new month.

You are Loved. You have a Purpose. You are an Inspiration. While it may be difficult for many to truly communicate their purpose, I do believe we all want our lives to leave an impact, to create a positive change. Your purpose doesn’t come out of the blue, it comes from all of the meaningful places and connections you have already been to. These moments are part of your story and your story is inspiring. Trust me, whether you realize it or not, I am inspired by you, my audience.

To the single parent, you inspire me in more ways than you will ever know. I have a high regard for your ability to wear the parent hat, the goofy hat, the nurse hat, the hard hat, the teacher hat, and the list goes on and on AND you do it with dignity and grace.

To the working parent, you have my heart. It is difficult to maintain a home while giving of yourself to your career. While there may be days of complete exhaustion, you still muster every ounce of time and give to those around you — you inspire me.

To the grandparent, oh I just love you all. Your selfless demeanor, and the giving of your time are so greatly appreciated. Yet, the best part is your willingness to share the many stories and experiences you have lived. You have a purpose and are loved.

To the 20-something adult, you are loved. It may seem as if life is constantly bringing about change, or figuring out how to make ends meet each month, or even deciding what you want to do with your life — live your best life. From my experience, the 20s were ridiculously challenging, but I also experienced the best moments of my life during this decade. You inspire me, even now well into middle-age.

To friends, you are important as ever. It does not matter if you are a lifelong friend or a later in life friend, you make life more enjoyable. Friends are beautiful people who listen, who uplift, who strengthen, who even can calm overreactions. You have a purpose and you inspire me.

A Standing Ovation

One of my favorite quotes from Auggie Pullman in the movie Wonder is, “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

I may not be able to give each one of you a standing ovation, but I want you to know:

You are LOVED.

You have a PURPOSE.

You are an INSPIRATION.

Sincerely,

Shelly

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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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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