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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Can’t Tap My Way Out of This

Can’t Tap My Way Out of This

The world feels like it has stood still. Am I in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day asking the questions, What day is it? What time is it? What’s to eat? Do I shower today or is that tomorrow?

As I’m sitting down to write my May blog, I’m trying to remember what I wrote about for April’s post. I have no clue. I worry if I’ll be writing the same exact words. Then I remembered I can reread April’s blog. Duh!

So much has changed in one month. Every time I leave our house, I wear a face mask. I wash my hands so much my fingers are wrinkly. OK, they were wrinkly before, but they are really wrinkly now. My hair color makes me look like a skunk with a big white streak running down my scalp. My fingernails are a mess. What I’ve realized is that this is the new normal.

Trying to Meet Goals

One of my goals last month was to Zoom with the grandkids once a week. We’ve only chatted on Zoom twice. The first time, it was just to connect together and it was perfect. The second time was when we all decorated Easter cookies.

It’s no one’s fault this hasn’t worked out more often. There seems to be virtual school still going on. Also, all of the grandkids work and their schedules frequently conflict. My only schedule is getting to bed at my normal time, which is sometimes when they’re just getting home from work. In spite of missing the mark with this goal, I continue my quest to touch base with them once a day.

The adjusted goal for this grandma is to learn something new each week. I give my grandkids the opportunity to suggest what the goal is, but I get to make the final decision. They don’t always know my physical limitations or my physical abilities. Heck, I may or may not know my own abilities or limitations.

Setting New Goals

This past week, I was challenged to tap dance. Our daughters took lessons, and the three granddaughters took lessons. I always loved the sounds, the rhythm, and of course, the recital costumes. I tap danced 65 years ago, so I knew it would come back to me quickly. I think they call it muscle memory. I decided to take tap dancing on as a goal.

The grandkids chuckled and were excited to see what I could accomplish. Actually, I don’t think that statement is true. That’s what they lead me to believe.

I quickly found a YouTube tap dance lesson online. I couldn’t find a lesson that was very long and involved, which was a blessing to me! You have to pay for those lessons. Here I go. Front toe taps, side toe taps, heel taps, ball change. These were all steps I recalled from my own lessons many years ago. What could go wrong other than the grandkids nagging me for my video?

Tapping My Way Through It

I danced in my Mary Jane shoes with a 1.5-inch heel as running shoes would not have been appropriate. Toe taps went well. Heel taps were good. Putting them together with a shuffle was not as good. It’s called balance.

What the heck was I thinking when I decided to wear heeled shoes when I haven’t worn anything but running shoes since the beginning of March? Yes, the balance was a bit off, and the video I made showed a tad bit of hesitation, but I did it and I’ll continue to shuffle ball changing once a week.

My tap dancing may bring humorous relief and take my grandkids’ minds off COVID-19 for a couple of minutes, but it won’t tap our way out of the pandemic. As long as the tap dancing video brings a smile to their faces, I’ve achieved my goal.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

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How My Grandkids & I Are Handling COVID-19

How My Grandkids & I Are Handling COVID-19

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

Defining Moments in My Life

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

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

Defining Moments in My Grandkids’ Lives

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

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

Grandkids’ life-changing moments after February 2020:

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

Adapting to a New Way of Learning

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

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

How I’m Handling the Pandemic

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

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

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Do Sequels Improve on the Originals?

Do Sequels Improve on the Originals?

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

Catching Up on Sequels You’ve Missed

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

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

Understanding the Common Theme of Sequels

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

Each Grandkid Is a New Sequel

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

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Dressing Up Never Gets Old

Dressing Up Never Gets Old

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

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

A Growing Costume Collection

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

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

Grandma to the Halloween Rescue

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

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

Bringing Joy With One More Costume

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

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Blow Us All Away

Blow Us All Away

It’s no secret that the Broadway show Hamilton played in Omaha during September. I first became interested in the show when it won every Tony Award in 2016. My enthusiasm grew even more when a graduate of Lincoln North Star had a role in the Hamilton touring company in Chicago.

Traveling and seeing the show in Chicago was not in our budget, so I had to experience her performance vicariously through friends. When I learned Hamilton was coming to Omaha, I was thrilled and knew we had to attend.

A Night Out at the Theater

The fun began when I told our grandkids we were planning on attending Hamilton. Wouldn’t it be thrilling if all four of the grandkids could go with us? Immediately, our grandson opted out for sports. I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised. The three remaining kids were thrilled and wanted to join us.

Unfortunately, two of them are in college and would not be able to return to Lincoln for the show. The final granddaughter was excited. The bonus was this particular granddaughter was about to have a birthday, so a night on the town was the perfect gift. My sister learned of our plans and wanted to join us as well, which meant four were now going. We were giddy with anticipation as we began making plans to enjoy a pre-show meal and the show. The date was agreed upon and tickets were bought.

Prepping By Getting to Know the Music

Weeks before attending the show, we all agreed to take turns listening to the CD to better understand the lyrics. But our granddaughter had been listening to the sound track on her phone for over a year. She also encouraged us to listen and even gave us a synopsis of the Alexander Hamilton story. We all agreed and it was indeed helpful.

We watched the show in awe of the dancing, silently singing each of the songs, and basically, the entire story. It truly was everything we had anticipated and more. After the show, the four of us talked about our favorite songs, favorite characters and favorite scenes. We each had different favorites, but all agreed the show was perfect.

We also loved the idea of combining so any different music genres into one show. I remarked I had never had rap as my “go to” music genre. Our granddaughter gently suggested to me the reason I’ve never liked rap was because I never knew what words were being rapped. She was right, of course!

Similarities to Today’s Politics

Our discussion moved beyond sharing our favorites. We started talking about how much of the story had never been taught in school. We never really knew the politicians in Hamilton were so backstabbing, aggressive, didn’t listen to other opinions and believed the party agenda should always be first. Our granddaughter commented on the similarities to what’s happening in Washington, DC today, and it seemed to her we haven’t learned many lessons from our country’s early history.

The show was the highlight, but an equally rare highlight was rapping with our granddaughter. I doubt she would call what I was doing as rapping. She even let me cheat by reading the lyrics. Not sure when we’ll have a rapping duet again, so I’ll cherish the memories we created that night. Or maybe I need to create rapping as a new holiday tradition!

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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Succulents Suck

Succulents Suck

This summer, we had a granddaughter working at one of those pop-up green houses. Her location was near one of the Super Savers in town.

I bought a flat of marigolds and planted them early. She was a great help in picking out the color and size of the plants. Not to brag, but I thought I did a pretty good job of planting the flowers. They began to grow and provide some colorful blooms. Then the monsoon rains fell, and fell, and continued to fall. The marigolds were planted in a small trench around our curved backyard patio.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The flowers did not come with life jackets or scuba gear, so they drowned in the standing water. I asked my granddaughter what I should do. She assured me the plants would probably not make it, but it would be wise to be patient and wait until the rain stopped and the sun dried things off. As you recall, the rain continued to fall and the plants were a total loss. She suggested I buy more plants and start over in a couple of weeks.

That’s what I did. I followed my granddaughter’s instructions and I bought another flat of marigolds to start the process over. I wanted to give her a little more business, so I bought some succulents. I had some in past years, but it had been a while. I thought it was time to grow some again. My granddaughter encouraged this purchase, probably because she knew they wouldn’t be washed out by the rain.

Succulents Sucking the Fun from Gardening

She helped me pick out a variety of succulents, all of which looked rather exotic. I purchased six—five of them would go into a large container and the sixth to be planted in an individual pot. After more purchases, I planted everything and was pleased with the process and results.

About a month later, my granddaughter showed up at our house. I’ve seen her several times within the month, but our visits are not as frequent as when she was young. I miss conversations with each of the grandkids. However, their lives have gotten busy and I understand—plus, they have to make money for college! When she came into our house, she was looking around the kitchen and living room for a small picture frame she wanted to borrow. She noticed the succulents in the big container and said, “Grandma, don’t you ever water these?” I responded with a hem hawing, “yes?” Then she told me they were too dry and would die. I thanked her for her advice. She smiled at me, found the picture frame and gave me a hug.

A month later, my granddaughter came to our house to take part in a family meal and looked at the succulents. “Grandma, you are over watering the plants. They will die.” Of course, I wanted to tell her to make up her mind, but I did not. She was right. Some of the leaves were dropping off and the plants were starting to look pathetic. She suggested the ice cube method of watering plants. Who would have thought you could put an ice cube in the pot and that would be enough water to feed it.

It’s All a Balancing Act

I realized then there was a lesson to be learned—there needed to be a balance in watering the succulents. Likewise, there needs to be a balance in being a grandma of growing grandkids. If I pay too much attention to them, (i.e., texts, calls, concern because I don’t see them enough), they feel smothered. The other extreme is not paying any attention to them, never texting or writing to them and they will forget me. OK, they won’t forget me, but you get the picture.

Whether watering the succulents or being a loving, nurturing grandma, finding the right balance is the key to a healthy relationship. The challenge is finding a balance in a constantly changing world. I’m up for that challenge. As we age we can either watch the world in our rear view mirrors, or through our windshield as new things come at us. The art of grandparenting, if done right, pays us huge dividends

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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Life Is Full of Puzzles

Life Is Full of Puzzles

The other week I went to Omaha to visit my sister, her husband and our foreign exchange student visiting from Norway. Bjorg stayed with us during the ’62-’63 school year. Although we’ve seen each other about every seven years, all of us understand those transatlantic trips get more difficult with age and our visits may be numbered. We made the most of every minute we were together. During the week, we went to the Henry Doorly Zoo, Lauritzen Gardens, Old Market, Joslyn Art Museum and more. Each site was special and we loved the time to explore and get reacquainted with each other and the venue.

Visiting the Joslyn Museum was an especially fun day. The four “grandparents” were joined by my sister’s daughter and her three children, as well as her daughter-in-law and her two daughters. Even though all of my sister’s grandkids live in Omaha, I don’t get a chance to see them very often. They are all incredibly active in sports, cheerleading and work—not much different from my own grandkids. I thought about it and realized I really only see my sister’s grandkids on holidays and for a few birthdays. So I was determined to make this Joslyn visit count as a time to remind them who Grandma Nancy is.

Piecing Together Time with Everyone

Where are they? It was as though the adopted grandkids were always one step ahead of me throughout the entire museum. I did catch site of the two girls entranced with Degas’ Little Dancer, but by the time we came to the piece, the girls vanished. I realized my time with Bjorg was more important, so I stopped stalking them.

The grandmas and grandpa finally caught up with the grandkids in the museum gift shop. My sister and Bjorg found the jewelry counter, my brother-in-law stayed out of the shop completely, and I was enthralled with the toys, especially a wooden puzzle. It appeared to look like a mini two-dimensional Rubik’s Cube. The girls came up behind me staring at the puzzle I was trying to complete. We knew what the puzzle should look like when completed: 12 mini cubes arranged in a 3 x 4 shape. We also knew the “try me” sample I held in my hand was in a straight line. They looked at me and challenged me to put the straight line form into the 3 x 4 completed shape.

diffiuclt multicolored puzzle

Try, Try, Try Again

I tried. I tried again, and again. What was I missing? I handed it to one of the girls. She looked at it for three seconds and completed the puzzle. She handed it over to me with this smug look on her face. I undid the puzzle and gave it to her younger sister, thinking surely this little girl wouldn’t be able to complete the task. She, like her sister, took a moment to look at the pieces, then quickly completed the task. I gasped and grabbed each girl, hugging them until they giggled with glee. They laughed hysterically at Grandma Nancy. Their laughter increased when they again challenged me to complete the puzzle. Nope, I couldn’t do it.

At the end of our visit when we were saying our goodbyes, the girls surprised me with a gift of the wooden puzzle. They said they wanted me to have it so I could practice putting it together; we had another good laugh.

Not All of Life’s Puzzles Are So Simple

When I got back to Lincoln, I looked at the puzzle in its neat 3 x 4 rectangle. How could this silly thing be so hard? I refused to touch it for a day. But the next day, I was determined to figure it out. As I began rearranging the pieces, I noticed how it was put together. How the pieces were notched and how they were held together. Oh, it now made sense. I then remembered how each girl took time to analyze the situation prior to jumping in to complete the puzzle like I had done—lesson learned.

I also noticed the puzzle’s recommended age, 3+. Was this a test of a senior citizen’s brain versus a young brain? It certainly was a good reminder for me to analyze a situation or puzzle before attempting to solve it. I also give credit to educators for not just teaching kids what to learn, but more importantly, how to learn. I am thankful I can continue to learn from all of my grandkids. Maybe Grandma Nancy should go back to school!

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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Educating My Grandkids Through Sewing

Educating My Grandkids Through Sewing

My entire life has had both teaching and learning aspects in it. My mom was a Normal School teacher in a one room school house in Saline County. She taught at Crete Public Schools while getting her bachelors degree. She was a great role model. Although I didn’t initially think I wanted to go into education, it was the profession I finally chose to pursue. So I guess teaching was my DNA. I found it would carry into other areas of my life.

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