A Blog for My Husband

A Blog for My Husband

This blog is written for my husband. Most fathers don’t receive the credit they deserve. Well, at least mine doesn’t. When we got married nine years ago, we decided to have kids right away. We just didn’t think it would happen quite so fast. We were thrown into parenthood at the age of 24 and on our first wedding anniversary we had a one-month-old. My husband thrived as a dad. When our daughter was born we thought we had this parenting this down. And then we thought “why not add more to our plate!” Read More

Operation Cheetos

Operation Cheetos

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

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

Operation Finale

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

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

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

Lessons from the Past

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

Talking About the #MeToo Movement with My Grandkids

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

Don’t Worry Grandma

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

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

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

What Was In It for Me?

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

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

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

It’s Out of My Control

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

The Importance of Student Organizations

The Importance of Student Organizations

The first day of school is one of my favorite days of the year. The excitement of back-to-school photos, seeing students walk into our building for the new school year and listening to their favorite summer memories fills my heart with joy.

Our principal, who happens to be my husband, planned the best back-to-school day ever with both the staff and students — a parade down Main Street. Even though the parade was the highlight of the day, the build-up to the parade stuck with me. The parade and rest of the back-to-school activities centered on a theme — nobody watches the parade.

Join the Parade

This idea, inspired by Bob Goff and Donald Miller in “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years,” encourages people to participate. Nobody can watch the parade. They can only be in the parade.

I keep thinking why this theme and why this year? Why would I encourage my own children and students to join the parade and participate in one or more student organizations? First, as a parent, I want our children to be a part of something bigger and make a difference. As a teacher, I want children to develop and enhance their skills as an extension of the classroom.

Being part of a student organization hugely impacts a student’s educational experience. My husband and I have already noticed the positive impact they have had on our daughter during her junior year. Because of this, we’re encouraging our two younger children to be involved in groups beyond the regular school day, too. But what are our children getting from joining the parade?

Develop Soft Skills

The essential soft skills, also known as people skills, teach students how to work with others, communicate with others and enhance critical thinking skills. Students not only enhance these soft skills in student organizations, they also learn to interact with small and large groups and develop time management and organizational skills.

Explore Interests

Student organizations give our children the opportunity to explore interests and expose them to other learning opportunities. For example, our oldest daughter has no interest in accounting or business law. Yet, she is part of a business organization which allows her to understand the importance of the business world.

Develop Leadership Skills

Student organizations encourage leadership. We are all leaders, but whether we choose to be a positive one or a negative one is up to us. Through these groups, students can learn to develop characteristics that we admire in effective leaders: trailblazer, honest, inspirational, competent and fearless.

Unfold a Purpose

Student organizations provide a multitude of opportunities to serve others. Through serving others, our children learn to be part of something bigger than themselves. They see firsthand the reward of giving their time and talents to others. As parents, we get to see our children take pride in their work, learn to love the process and grow a thankful heart.

Student organizations are a great way to develop all these skills and so much more! Most importantly, our children will be joining the parade, not watching.

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.

If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, what would you do?

If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, what would you do?

You have the power to prevent cancer your child could get later in life

The dog days of summer are upon us and my family of six has spent countless days at the pool, baseball games and summer camps. Now a new school year is starting, and it’s a good time to make sure our children are up to date on their check-ups with the doctor, dentist and optometrist. As a parent of kids ranging in ages from eight to 13, this year also included discussions about the importance of getting the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention.

What is HPV, and how does it lead to cancer?

HPV stands for the human papillomavirus. It includes a group of more than 150 related viruses. Some types of HPV can cause warts or papillomas, which are non-cancerous. Most of the time our body’s natural immune systems can fight off the infections the virus can cause. But, some types of HPV cause cancer in both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer, and nearly all cases of pre-cervical cancers. It also causes many vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, throat and tongue cancers.

As I began to learn more about HPV, I found myself wondering how common is the virus. What I found was astounding:

  • Each year in the United States 31,500 people are diagnosed with a cancer related to an HPV infection.
  • The virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Any man or woman who has ever had sex, including vaginal, anal or oral, can get the virus.
  • Four out of five people will have HPV at some point in their lives, according to the latest estimates. The virus is so common that the best way to prevent an HPV infection is to get vaccinated.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

This is the first thing I wanted to know after hearing about this cancer prevention vaccine! I felt comforted knowing that more than 270 million doses have been given around the world since 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As a registered nurse, I understand any vaccination has potential side effects. Yet many people who get the HPV vaccine report no side effects. Potential side effects of the HPV vaccine have been mild like other vaccines. The HPV vaccine is approved by the CDC, and like all vaccines, receives ongoing monitoring.

So how can I prevent cancers that my kids could get later in life?

As a cancer nurse navigator and a mom of four children, I was very interested in the current recommendations to prevent HPV related cancers. I started by having a conversation with our family doctor. I learned my kids could receive the two series vaccination (six-12 months apart), as early as age nine or ten. The CDC highly recommends kids be vaccinated at ages 11 or 12, as that is when the vaccine has been shown to be the most effective. If a child starts the vaccination series between the ages of 15-26, a third vaccination is recommended.

The HPV vaccine prevents infections from nine HPV types that cause HPV cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, receiving the vaccine before being exposed to the virus can prevent up to 90% of HPV cancers!

As I was making doctor’s appointments for my kids, my almost 11-year-old son openly shared his disgust in having yet another “shot” scheduled with his upcoming appointment. This brought up a great moment to have a conversation about the purpose of this vaccine in preventing certain cancers later in life. He has heard many of my stories over the years of people struggling with cancer. He asked several great questions about the vaccine, and I didn’t hear him complain again.

A week later his sister was giving him a hard time that he was the ONLY kid who needed a shot this year. He promptly responded, “I’d rather have a two-second sting than a cancer that I didn’t need to have!” Proud mom moment!

I have had the personal experience of caring for patients with HPV related cancers. With this new cancer prevention vaccine, I feel so lucky to live during a time where these types of cancers could be greatly reduced or even eliminated in my kids’ generation!

My suggestion for parents is to talk with your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine, and to your children about why “another shot” is so important. For more information, check out the links below.

www.cancer.org/hpv

www.cdc.gov/hpv

*Information for this blog provided by American Cancer Society.

Carmen Orr

Carmen Orr

RN, Cancer Nurse Navigator

Carmen Orr is a Bryan Medical Center oncology nurse navigator, which is a  specially trained nurses who are here to help you and your family through each step of your cancer journey.

How Important is the HPV Vaccine?

Listen to our podcast with Dr. Philip Boucher, a pediatrician with Lincoln Pediatric Group, to learn more about the importance of the HPV vaccine, research done on its effectiveness and tips on talking to your child about why they are getting the vaccine.

It’s Little Women!

It’s Little Women!

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

Previews & Remakes

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

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

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

But Who Are the Little Women?

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

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

Times Have Changed

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

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

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

Psychosis: Uncovering a Condition Found in 1 in 15 College Students

Psychosis: Uncovering a Condition Found in 1 in 15 College Students

Have you ever heard someone greet you by name and when you turned to respond there was no one there? Have you ever walked into a room and remember seeing someone or something, and when you got closer, you realized what you thought you saw was not there? Most likely everyone can remember a time when they heard or saw something that others could not hear or see. When this situation happens over and over and interferes with our daily life, we need to take action. Read More

Parent Confession: I Hate Doing Homework

Parent Confession: I Hate Doing Homework

I have a confession to make. I hate homework. I hate doing it. I hate helping with it. I hate the mere existence of it. It started in kindergarten, and year by year, it gets worse. I already did 15+ years of it myself. Now, I have many more years of helping my kids with their homework! Read More

Grandma’s Book Club Blunder

Grandma’s Book Club Blunder

Lifelong educators are lucky. We’ve lead adult lives with a strong attachment to books. I’m no different, as books have always been a major part of my life. I participate in two book clubs, each one very unique with members providing different perspectives due to the diverse membership. I love the challenges these book clubs give me. Reading books I would not pick up on my own and participating in the discussions are amazing experiences. Read More

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