Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The grands, Granny and Opa

     We have four superstars on our team, and they are the best players in the world.
     Not talking baseball here, although it's now that season.
     We're talking family; we are writing about our grandchildren. They are still in single digits, but not all for much longer.
     Josephine ("Josie" to us) will be 10 in October; Jacob is 8; Kaden is 6; and Eli is 2 1/2. We are like most grandparents about their "grands," we are crazy about them.
Opa, Kaden, Josie, Jacob, Granny, Eli -- summer, 2016
     They are the joy of our lives. There is nothing better -- certainly no dang sports events.
     You might know them from previous references, e-mails and certainly from (many) Facebook posts. But I have not written a full blog piece about the grandkids in 4 1/2 years, although Eli was the blog subject on the day he was born, Sept. 19 (same birthdate as my mother).
     I thought this would be an appropriate time to update on these stars because Wednesday is Granny's birthday (her age will be par for the course at Augusta National; think about that here in Masters week).
     And those grandkids do love their Granny. If she is not their favorite person, she is one of them (the other grandmothers involved qualify, too).
     Granny is a soft touch. They know they can get whatever they want, or ask for, if they just ask Granny. 
     They love Opa, too, but ... Opa messes with them. He might tickle them, or wrestle with them, or -- yeah -- tell them to "look over there," and swipe something off their plate of food.
     (Josie and Jacob figured this out a while ago. Kaden has caught on, so now he covers up his food with both hands, and keeps his eyes on Opa. But Eli is still an easy target.)
     So they're leery; they don't know what's coming next. "I don't trust you, Opa," Kaden said.      Granny and Josie have a special bond -- whether it's coloring, or reading, or folding clothes, or watching a movie.
     And, well, we are impressed with our Josie. She reads so well; she has such a sharp memory; and she writes beautifully -- an extremely neat handwriting and the content of her "books" (she writes a story and illustrates it, then staples together the pages).
      Lately, the stories are being written in a notebook. If you had seen the first two "chapters" that we saw a couple of weeks ago, I think you would be impressed. 
      Even years ago, as a 3- and 4-year-old, Josie loved to read and by the time she was 5, she was actually reading the words. I did not believe it, and asked her, "Josie, how do know this is correct?"
      "Because I can read," she answered. And she could.
      Now she is reading, among many other interests, Harry Potter books. They have some at home, but she was not allowed to take those to school, so she checked out one at the library and took it to school "so I can read it during my recess time," she explained to her mother.
      One of her and Granny's favorite activities is working together in coloring books, plus she usually will draw a couple of pictures for us. Where Bea needs a guide to copy from, she says Josie has the knack to draw from the mind's eye. We have a couple of the drawings she did on our refrigerator door.
       I posted on Facebook the photo of Josie and me playing chess. I was not kidding when I said she beat me badly -- twice. But while she talked her way through our game a year ago -- "she will trash-talk you," her daddy said -- this time she was encouraging to me when I made disparaging remarks about my (non)-chess talents. Love her heart. And when I beat her in a couple of other games (Chinese checkers and UNO), she took it in stride.
       And while she is still a silly 9-year-old who can make all sorts of faces and gyrations, and can get her new shoes muddy to the admonishment of her mother and Grandma, she softens the impact with a beautifully written, thoughtful, thankful note to our Rachel. Reading that brought Granny -- and Opa -- to tears.    
     When the Key boys came to Fort Worth -- about an hour and 15-minute ride away -- a couple of weeks ago, Opa was out on his walk when they arrived. The first question when they barged through the door, I was told, was "where's Opa?"
     And when Opa returned after about 15 minutes, as soon as he came through the door, Kaden charged and hugged me around the legs with an enthusiastic "Opa!"
     Even Jacob got up from the video game on his computer -- he is, he tells us, "an expert" -- to give Opa a hug. And he could not wait to show us how he could ride his bicycle ... and did a few minutes later.
     Got that ride -- on the empty parking lot at the top of our parking garage -- on video, and he was proud. He did well, braking just right on the downhill portion and pushing hard going uphill. "I've mastered it," he had said on the phone a couple of days earlier.
     Jacob -- he is the one with the curly mop of blond hair, although it's shorter than it was because an errant salon worker cut much more than they were told -- also impressed us with his reading skills. He's come a long way in first and now second grade.
     Kaden is more into playing soccer and crashing toy cars -- his speciality -- and, as you might have seen from the Facebook photos -- fishing. He has made some nice catches, by himself, at the pond near their home, and he reminds us of his daddy, who also took to fishing from an early age.
     Kaden brought his extensive collection of fishing lures, and then gave us a 10-minute lesson on them, with descriptions of the "deep divers" and the various colored plastic worms, and how he plans to use them. 
     He's not into the video games like Jacob, but he also likes reading and when Jacob was showing something on the computer, Kaden said, "C'mon, Jacob, 10 plus 4 is 14 ... don't you know that?"
     "That," their daddy told us from across the room, "doesn't happen very often."
     Jacob can explain the video games he is playing, and he does. Opa does not quite get it; it's too fast and too complicated.
     Kaden likes his soccer games, and he has scored some goals. When Opa was watching a year or so ago, he scored one and, walking back toward midfield, he was looking for me on the sideline. When he saw me, he mouthed, "I scored."
     Truth is, though, he's still just as interested in the postgame snacks as he is scoring goals.  
     Jacob is the people pleaser, always helping his teachers and other kids at school, making the best grades and earning honors. "My picture is on every wall in the school," he said, leaving Granny and Opa laughing.     
     He also looks after little brother. We know that Kaden takes little bull from anyone; he will retaliate.
     They still love going with Opa to check the mailbox at the apartments; there is always a battle to see who is going to take the key on the lanyard and hang it around their neck.
     Jacob wore it going down the elevator; Kaden wore it coming back. But they did not want to ride the elevator back up; instead, they raced the four floors up the stairs, and were grinning and waiting for Opa when the elevator arrived.
      Eli is beginning to put sentences together, and he sat with Opa several times to look at the new book Granny had brought him, plus he was Opa's constant companion around the house.
        We're not quite sure what he is saying sometimes, but I do know that he addressed me a few times and ended the sentences with "Opa." So he is making conversation.
        And he is almost potty-trained. Knows what to do; just doesn't quite get there yet. Races into the bathroom to give it a try or to brush his teeth (he likes that -- a lot).
         What he does know to do is get his mother's phone, have her punch up the FaceTime app, and he knows that punching the bee logo (for "Bea") means his Granny's face (or Opa's) soon will appear. And we get to see the Eli stare; it is a few moments before he begins his "act."
         We don't get to see enough of either set of grandchildren, and it was a special treat last summer when Rachel brought her kids to Texas for a cousins' get-together. We took them all to the Fort Worth Children's Museum of Science and History, and they had a great time, and then the Smith kids spent a night at the Key house.
        Josie and Jacob especially are bonded, have been since they were 3 and 1, and they have, they told us, "plans," which they have detailed in a notebook that none of us can see. Who knows?
         The photo I have posted is one we took last summer, and it is my screen saver on the computer, so I see it every day. It is, as you can imagine, my favorite photo. The trinkets the kids are holding are from the Museum of Science and History; of course, they talked their Granny into buying those.
         Plans are that Rachel, Josie and Eli soon will return for another summer trip, and hopefully we can get the updated photo (and I might post it). Looking forward to our superstar reunion.


  1. From Ike Futch: You have kids and think you couldn't love anyone more, then the grandkids come along. Nothing else like it! Then our little great granddaughter came along. You have lots to look forward to Nico. Great looking kids!

  2. From John Whitmore: Amen, can't beat the grandkids. Grandma first and grandpa second. I can live with that.

  3. From Kitty van der Woude: What more can you wish for?????

  4. From Philip Kopuit (cousin in Israel): So nice to get to know your grandchildren through this blog. It's so important to keep updated, it means a lot to us to keep the family-relations alive. Thanks.