Counting to Twenty


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Counting Pennies

Counting Pennies

Jet has been able to count to twelve for quite some time. I thought she had a good grip on the teen numbers as well — until my daughter asked me to work with her on them this week.

Jet arrived in a good mood Monday morning with Panda in tow. “Panda came today because he hasn’t been here in a long time. You can hold him, but he might cry because he hasn’t seen you in awhile and he might not be used to you.”

I picked up Panda and patted his diapered bottom. “I think he’s okay. Maybe he remembers me after all.”

“No you’d better let me hold him for awhile, just to be sure.”

I surrendered Panda to Jet’s arms. “Say, Jet, could you count for me?”

Jet was happy to oblige, “One, two….” Everything was fine until she got to 14 and jumped immediately to 18.

We counted all morning but Jet’s mental glitch was consistent and impenetrable. She didn’t recognize the cadence in her head. Chanting and singing and repetition didn’t seem to help.   Trying a new tactic, I slowly wrote out the numbers for her as a visual aid. Jet took to the list like a duck to water, but 11, 12, 13 and 15 don’t sound like they look. Jet was familiar with written numbers through 10. If only we counted forward as ten-1, ten-2, ten-3 or 1-teen, 2-teen, 3-teen! On the other hand, seeing numbers she recognized as parts of 16 through 19 helped her say them in order, but only when her eyes were glued to the paper.

One Hundred Pennies in a Dollar

One Hundred Pennies in a Dollar

I remembered how Jet’s mother had trouble with arithmetic memorization until she began to understand the underlying concepts. No amount of singing and chanting had helped. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I pulled forth a memory of my dad using coins to help me understand number notations, so I pulled out our store of loose change.

“This is a penny. One penny. If you have 10 pennies it is the same as this dime.” Jet arranged ten pennies in a straight row under the dime. “We can count these pennies 1 though 10.” We counted the pennies. “Now if we add more pennies, we can count those too.” We added three more pennies and counted to thirteen. “It takes a longer time to count 13 pennies, doesn’t it? But what if we replace these 10 pennies with the dime. Now we can count faster. We know that that this dime means 10, so we can start with 10.” We counted to 13 again, starting with 10. “Look at the list. See how the number 10 is a 1 and a zero?” Jet nodded. “It’s the same as the dime! Do you see? And look! Look the number 13. It is the same as one dime and 3 pennies!”

“I have moneys in my piggy bank, Grandma!”

“I know you do! Should we look at some more kinds of money?” Jet was enthusiastic so we took a detour into nickels, quarters and dollar bills. “If you can learn to count to 25 this week, you can take this money home.”


“Well I thought you might like to put in in your piggy bank.”


“Um… do you know that people use money to buy things?

“My mommy uses a card.”

“Well, yes, mommy’s card is a different way to spend money… but just like the dime, it’s still the same thing.”

Counting Can Be Exhausting!

Counting Can Be Exhausting!

“I could use my money to buy new clothes for Kitty!”

“Yes, you could save your money to buy things you want or need! You would need a lot of pennies to buy clothes for Kitty.” I counted out 100 pennies and Jet arranged them in rows of 10. “This is the same as one dollar. Which would you rather have, one dollar or one nickel?” To my delight Jet immediately grasped the relative values and correctly selected the dollar over the nickel and the quarter over 10 pennies.

The next day we added beads and flashcards to the mix and by the end of the day, Papa was able to make a video of Jet correctly counting to 19 with the aid of the cards. Jet may not understand why her grandparents are so gosh darn excited about counting, but she is enjoyed making us happy. Maybe next week she can take home 25 cents!

Counting  Beads

Counting Beads


Jem’s Day


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Jem may be a twin, but he is also most decidedly his own little person. He is the youngest of three (by less than a minute), but when he is at Grandma’s house, Jem enjoys the opportunity to be an only child and the center of my attention. Sometimes his visits come due to illness, but this time he is here thanks to an eye appointment, so he is happy, healthy and ready for the day.

His tears following his mother’s departure last less than a minute. As soon as I say the word “breakfast,” his mood is instantly improved and he happy to sit in the highchair. He eats banana and oatmeal with gusto until I make the mistake of scooping a fallen bit of oatmeal from his bib into the spoon. Jem’s eyes seem to sparkle as he tilts his head and holds out the spoon.

“Are you wondering if you can persuade me to shovel this oatmeal into your mouth for you?” Jet smiles enigmatically and stretches the arm with the spoon further in my direction. “Hmmm… it is pretty hard to get it into your mouth, isn’t it? Okay, I guess I can give you a couple of bites!” I know I’m a softie, and Jem knows it too.

After breakfast Jem gets to work at the very serious business of play. His attention span is doubled when he is away from his siblings. He remembers the big blue Rubbermaid box and heads for it first. “Ba!” He says as he pulls at the lid.

“Yes, BLOCKS! There are BLOCKS inside! Can you open it?”

Dumping Blocks

Dumping Blocks

He can. I have provided two bowls for filling and dumping, and Jem knows just what to do with them, too. He fills one bowl and dumps it into the other then he dumps that bowl back into the box. He builds a tower and knocks it over. “Uh-OH!” he chortles.

Suddenly, he notices the board books I have stacked nearby and remembers that Grandma never says no to reading. With a grin he selects one from the pile, a former favorite of his sister, and I give him my best dramatic reading of the plight of Dilly Duck and her lost feather. Then he goes back to play with the tow truck and school bus until it is time for his first walk with Grandma.

“We are going to take a walk outside. Let’s put on your shoes. Okay, now, when we go outside, we have rule: you must hold Grandma’s hand. If you don’t hold my hand we have to go home. It’s a rule. A VERY important rule.” Jem takes my hand and I open the door and help him down the step. He trots down the driveway eagerly, pulling a little as we stop to look for cars before we cross the road. This will be a short walk, because I don’t think I can carry him very far if should he become tired. Jem concentrates on the sidewalk and my hand. He doesn’t know where we are going, but he is prepared to enjoy the trip.

At the end of the block I turn him around and we head back. At the halfway point, Jem stops and raises his other hand in the air, “UH.” I understand this to mean “up.”

“I’m afraid not, buddy. You need to walk the rest of the way. Look, we are almost done!” Without a peep, Jem soldiers ahead.

The weather is hot and steamy so Jem and I enjoy a cool drink in the air-conditioned house. He places a cylindrical block in one of the bowls and watches it move as he shakes the bowl. I think his parents will be pleased with his interest in physics.

Jem puts one of the bowls on his head and offers the other to me so we can both wear white plastic “hats.” This is SO funny that Jem nearly forgets to breathe. We take them off and on again and again. Then we trade bowls so that mine is too little and Jem’s hangs down over his eyes, prompting a new round of laughter.

At his eye appointment, Jem sits quietly on Papa’s lap while the doctor shines a bright light in his eye and we get the good news that his deviation has improved 8% in one eye and 5% in the other. Maybe he can avoid surgery!

Jem With Bowls

Jem With Bowls

Back at Grandma’s house for a delayed lunch, Jem’s busy day is starting to wear on him and he is more than ready for his nap. He doesn’t make it through a reprise of Dilly Duck before he begins to squirm to get down. “It’s time for your nap, now!” My bright tone doesn’t fool Jem. The minute his toes touch the mattress he begins to wail. In the past, Jem has performed admirably at naptime, going down with almost no fuss. I give him 5 minutes and return to reassure him that he has not been abandoned. After another 5 minutes, I pick him up and rock him in my arms until his body relaxes then rub his back in the crib until his fresh cries abate.

He has a nice nap, but wakes up in a less chipper mood. He lets his snack fall out of his mouth to the floor where the dog scarfs it quickly and looks up hopefully for more. Jem has not been fond of dogs, but Marcy’s obvious interest has sparked an idea. He asks for another goldfish cracker that he immediately tosses to the floor. “Mo!” he demands and this time he allows Marcy to take it from his fingers. He grins. We’ll make a dog-lover of Jem yet!


Tag Blanket


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Storytime With Blanket, Kitty and Papa

Storytime With Blanket, Kitty and Papa

On Monday morning, Jet clutched Kitty tightly as she waved goodbye to her mother from the garage. As we came inside I asked, “What would you like for breakfast today?” As Jet started to answer, we both realized that her book bag was still in the car. As Jet began to wail, I frantically called my daughter – but her phone went to voicemail.

By the time I had left a message, Jet was sobbing pitifully, “My blanket, my blanket!”

“Jet! Jet! Look at Grandma! Do you have another blanket at home?”

“My blanket is in the car!”

“Listen to me, Jet, listen: do you have another blanket you like at home?” I touched her chin and made her look at me. “Isn’t there another blanket at home?” Jet nodded, but the tears continued to fall. “Then everything is okay! After breakfast we will go to your house and get your extra blanket and your clothes! I promise!”

I could see the hope dawning in Jet’s eyes. “I need my tag blanket!”

“I know you do, I know. Grandma has some blankets here too… do you want to check and see if one of them has a tag that works for you?”

“I need MY tag blanket Grandma!”

“I know, but just in case it makes you feel better right now, let’s see what I have. Then we’ll have breakfast and go to your house, okay?”


We went into the bedroom and I pulled out a white blanket that had come in the very same bag as Jet’s special blanket. “Try this one.”

Jet felt the satin tag. My blanket may not have been washed quite as much but the tags started out the same. Jet shook her head. “No, this isn’t good. I need my tag blanket.”

The Brothers Love ALL Blankets

The Brothers Love ALL Blankets

“I have a couple more blankets in the closet. Let’s try them, just in case something happens again. It would be good to know that I have an extra blanket you like.” I pulled one of her brothers’ blankets from the shelf. “This one has blue giraffes on it. Try this one.”

Jet felt the tag. “It’s not good.” Tears began to well in her eyes.

“Now don’t forget, we are still going to go to get your blanket after breakfast. I promised.” Jet sighed. “I have one more for you to try. This one has blue elephants on it.” Jet’s nursery was decorated in pink with bunnies. Her brothers’ nursery is blue with elephants.

Jet grabbed the blanket from my hands and gave the tag a cursory feel. “This is a good one Grandma! I like this one! This can be MY elephant blanket! I can keep it here in my bed with my blanket too!”

I smiled wanly and wondered what sort of can of worms I had accidentally opened. “You like that blanket?”

“I love it! I love my elephant blanket!”

On the bright side, her brothers don’t seem to care about the color or design of their blankets. Maybe they can use the white one.

Jet and Kitty

Jet and Kitty

Coloring Inside the Lines


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A Colorful Pig

A Colorful Pig

“Let me show you something Grandma. Look!”

I watch as Jet carefully makes a lower-case letter E. “You remembered how to do it! That’s wonderful!” We had practiced this letter a long time last week but I hadn’t realized how well she had mastered it.

Jet beamed. “Hey, can we color now? You can draw something and I can color it.”

“Okay. I can do that.” I have always felt a little sad when children begin to color inside the lines because they never seem to enjoy it quite as much as scribbling, but at least Jet still choses her colors freely. Her pig has an orange body, a blue head and purple ears.

“What word is THIS?”

“Ummm…. Well, you made some letters, Y, e, b, a… but they don’t make a word.”

“Why not? Why can’t they be a word?”

“To make a word you have to write letters in one particular way so other people can recognize it. You put some letters together in a certain order to make your name, but you use different letters to make my name.” I show her how her own first and last names contain some of the same letters in a different order.

Jet nods and says, “But I want to do it my way. I like it the way I do it.”

“Well that’s fine, you can write letters that make you happy, but other people can only read your words if everyone writes each word the same way. That’s the way it works. When you write “grandma” I know it says “grandma” because you write it the same way every time.” While Jet ponders the mysteries of writing, I wonder if it is confusing to her that blue-headed pigs are cool but random letters are not.

Jet Writes Aunt Mary

Jet Writes Aunt Mary

“Grandma, can you show me how to write Aunt Mary?” I write it for her and she studies it carefully before announcing, “I’m just going to make some of the letters my own way.”

Jet produces a credible rendition, substituting only a lower case A and M. I can read it, so I decide to save the discussion of capital letters for another day, but Jet has another question for me: “Her first name is Aunt and her last name is Mary, isn’t it Grandma?”


Papa’s Desk



My Great-Grandfather's Desk

My Great-Grandfather’s Desk

“Grandma? Can we look to see what’s inside here?”

Jet wants look inside my great-grandfather’s desk. She wants peek under the roll top. She wants me to open the etched glass cabinet and show her the pretty things she can only glimpse from her vantage on the floor. For a second, I remain quiet, savoring this precious moment in time. I’ve lived this scene many times before but never in quite this particular way. An image of my grandparents’ living room begins to bloom in my memory. I can almost hear myself asking that same question. “Isn’t this pretty?” my grandma would say as she carefully turned the key and opened the doors.

My mind flashes to my mother’s voice as she recalled standing beside this desk while her Papa, my great-grandfather, retrieved the heavy ball they made together with the foil of pipe tobacco pouches and helped her to add another layer. How many times did I ask my grandma to stop what she was doing to let me look at her treasures?

In another layer of memory from a different time and place I can see my mother lifting the lid so her grandchildren can hold that special ball of foil or look through her grandfather’s magnifying glass. I’ve been the curious child, the nostalgic parent and now it is my turn to be the fourth generation grandparent to open the cabinet and roll back the lid for my granddaughter.

Miniature of My Mother and Grandmother

Miniature of My Mother and Grandmother

“Yes, of course we can!” I jump to my feet and thank her for remembering that only grandma may touch the desk. As I roll back the lid I watch Jet’s face. She seems focused and intent. I pull the magnifying glass from an inside drawer. “When your mother and Aunt Mary were little their grandma, my mother let them look through this too. Do you see how it makes things bigger?” Jet nods. We find some playing cards, a figurine I made in high school and a piece of pottery her mother created. I let her hold the shell that fills one of the cubbies.

Behind the glass doors we see the miniature picture of my mother and grandmother. She looks at the tiny porcelain doll that belonged to my great-grandmother. “How did she play with it inside that glass?”

“We put it in under the glass because it’s very old and very fragile, but when my great-grandma was young the doll was new and she could play with it. Now it’s best not to touch it!” I lift the glass dome, though so she can get a better look. Jet holds the cup and saucer from a tiny tea set that belonged to my mother, her great-grandma. I tell her about the line of women who have looked in this desk and how it is more than 100 years old. I make 100 hash marks on a piece of paper to show her that this is a very big number.

“How did it get to be so old Grandma?”



“Because our family took good care of it. My great-grandparents took good care of it, and my grandma and my mother and now I’m taking good care of it. Let me show you!” I draw stick figures to represent 6 generations. “After my mama died, the desk came to me. I hope it lasts a long, long time.”

Jet stands next to the desk and thinks about its history. Then she has an idea. “Grandma! I think someday this desk will come to live with me or Jem or Oboe!”

“I like to think so, Jet.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll take really good care of it too!”

Doctor Visit


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Age 4:  Paining a Masterpiece

Age 4: Painting a Masterpiece

Jet is FOUR! From her perspective these few years comprise a lifetime but for me they mark the ever-increasing speed of time. With each new age it seems that memorable moments occur more frequently until I find that I am now caught up with new memories-in-the-making before I have time to write about the last.

This week Jet and I went to the doctor for a well-child visit. Jet’s parents had prepared her for the possibility that she might be due for a vaccination. “I don’t want a shot,” she announced in the car.

“I don’t know if it is time for you to get a vaccination, but if you need one, it’s good to get it! The shots protect you from some very bad illnesses. I know you don’t like to get sick!”

“But I don’t want one.”

“If you need one, I’ll hold your hand.”


Jet's Tiny Blood Pressure Cuff

Jet’s Tiny Blood Pressure Cuff

The nurse took Jet’s height and weight and applied a tiny blood pressure cuff to her arm. “This is like a hug,” the nurse said.

Jet cocked her head and looked at her. “No, it’s not.”

“Well, okay, but don’t worry this doesn’t hurt.”

The doctor asked me about her development which of course I felt was quite advanced for her age. “She can cut with scissors!” I informed her proudly.

“That’s great,” the doctor said. “How are her social interactions?”

Jet felt the need to contribute the conversation. “Grandma hurt her back, so Papa and I are doing all the bending over for her until it gets better!”

“That’s great,” the doctor assured her. “I know your grandma must be glad to have you to help!” She added a whispered, “Are you okay?” I nodded. “You’d be surprised how many people have back pain when there are twins in the family!”

“Jet, can you count to ten?” In response Jet rattled off a string of numbers into the teens. The doctor smiled and whispered again, “She’s quite bright isn’t she?” When the exam was completed she told Jet that she needed two injections. “These are tiny ones. They won’t hurt at all!”

Waiting for Vaccinations

Waiting for Vaccinations

Jet lay calmly on the table singing “Do Re Mi” as she waited for the nurse to come back with vaccines.   She was stoic as the nurse pulled out the syringes and opened an alcohol packet and two bandages. She remained still as she approved the color of the bandages. She watched carefully as the nurse took the alcohol swab and approached her thigh.

As the cold swab touched her leg, a banshee cry rent the air. “It hurts, it hurts!” She pulled her legs to her chest and batted her hands at the nurse. “Go away! Take that out of here!”

“It’s just something to clean your leg. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just a little cold!”

“I don’t want it! Go away!” I took Jet’s hand as promised.

The nurse assured her that the shot would not hurt at all. “It will be over before you know it!” She put her hand on Jet’s leg and gently squeezed a bit of skin. My eyes widened as bloodcurdling screams filled the room. “You’re going to have to hold her down,” the nurse informed me.

“Shhhh, it’s okay! I’m right here! It’s okay!” Jet was suddenly writhing and bucking in my arms. I lay gently across her body as the nurse grasped her firmly and administered the first shot.


“Jet, wiggling around makes it hurt. If you sat still it wouldn’t hurt.” Unfortunately we were past the time for logic. Jet thrashed and squirmed with all her might. The nurse picked up her instruments of torture and hastily departed. Jet sobbed in anguish at the horrific violation of her person.

“Let’s go home, Jet.”

“It hurts.”

“We’ll put an ice pack on it when we get home.”

The receptionist handed me Jet’s paperwork. “Can she have a sticker?”

“Oh yes, of course. She certainly deserves one.” [Or perhaps an academy award for her performance.]

“Well, in that case, take two!”


What Is Real?


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Reading To Kitty

Reading To Kitty

Jet can create pretend food out of almost anything. On this occasion, she had some memory game cards. I picked up her stuffed cat to sit down on the couch.

“Kitty wants to play my game. Put her back in her seat Grandma!”

“How do you know she wants to play?”

“She told me.”

“What else did she tell you?”

“Grandma, Kitty can’t talk.”

“She can’t? “ As far as I could tell, Kitty had always been completely real. Almost since the day she arrived, Kitty had been Jet’s special friend.

“No, she can’t really talk. That’s just me. I’m using my voice for her. She can’t talk by her own self.”

“What about Bunny? Can she talk?” Jet often brings a friend for Kitty when she comes to Grandma’s house. The most frequent visitors are Penguin, ‘Pottomus, and Fox. Bunny usually stays home. None of them have human names.

“No, she can’t talk either unless she uses my voice.”

“So talking helps makes you real?” I felt surprised and more than a little sad that Kitty had lost some of the magic that made her real.

“Yes. Sophia is real too. She has an amulet on her chest that you push and she can talk by her own self. “

“Are you real?”

“Yes. I can talk.”

“Is Papa real? “


“Am I real?”

“Yes. Fairies aren’t real though. These ones are just on my jammies.”

“Your penguin?”

“Yes, he’s real. All three of them. I have three of them now.”

“Well that’s interesting.” The demarcation between fantasy and reality was apparently not completely clear. “Can Kitty feel sad?”

“Yes. When you close her eyes like this she is sad.”

In real life, Kitty does not have eyes that open and close. “Can Kitty feel happy?”


“Do you love Kitty?”

“Yes, I love her SO much!”

I don’t know about Jet, but deep down, I think I still believe that love can make things real.


Glasses (May 22, 2017)


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Grandma’s Glasses

Jet’s brothers Oboe and Jem wear glasses. Grandma and Papa wear glasses. Jet’s Aunt and Uncle wear glasses. “I need glasses, “ Jet declared, “‘cause my eyes don’t work too well.”

“You have some sunglasses.”

“I need real glasses to help me see.”

The natural inclination of course, is to assume that she could see perfectly well, but the boys’ ophthalmologist suggested that based on family history alone, Jet should have her eyes checked too. So, I took her for an exam while mommy and daddy were at work. Jet was thoroughly prepped for the appointment with admonishments and instructions about proper behavior. She understood that she would be expected to do exactly as the doctor directed.

Jet in Grandma's Glasses

Jet in Grandma’s Glasses

Jet climbed into the big chair. The doctor asked me if she could read the alphabet. “For the most part,” I assured her. The first letter was a very large E. Jet declared that she had absolutely no idea what it could be. Something about that chair must have rendered Jet unable to remain still. She wiggled and twisted and moved her legs to the side of the chair.

The doctor ignored the wiggling and moved her legs back in place. “That’s all right,” she assured me. “We’ll just use pictures. Can you tell me what this is?” A birthday cake appeared on the wall.

“A spinning wheel!”

“And this?” A horse and rider appeared.

“That’s a cow!”

“What about this?” A telephone blinked into view.

“A bed.” I began to wonder if she could see at all.

“How old is she again?” the doctor asked.

Jet didn’t like my answer that she would be four in a few weeks. “I’m not four in a few weeks! It’s more than that!”

The doctor held the pictures right in front of her face and asked the questions again while Jet made exactly the same responses.

“And… the silly kicks in,” sighed the doctor. “At least she is consistent. I can work with that.”

When the doctor pulled out some 3D glasses to test depth perception, Jet demanded purple ones and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Unfortunately purple was not an option.

“I’m sorry, she isn’t normally like this!”


I remained quiet until Jet refused to let the doctor put drops in her eyes. “It will only sting for a second,” I assured her.

“Grandma!” the doctor admonished me.

“Oh, sorry, I guess we don’t say that?”

“No we do not! That is not at all helpful.”

Poorly behaved Grandma and poorly behaved Jet went to the waiting room where she pretended to be an airplane flying into the chest of another patient and the end of her Grandma’s patience was reached. I pulled Jet close and whispered through my teeth, “I don’t know what got into you young lady, but it had better get right back out! You will sit still and do what the doctor tells you or you will be in time out the minute we get home.”

A subdued child returned to the exam room and sat relatively still despite the bright light being shined in her eyes. “She’s plus 4,” the doctor announced.

“Are you saying she needs glass?” I asked.

“Purple!” shouted Jet.

Trying on Glasses

Trying on Glasses

“It will be up to your mommy to come back and pick out glasses for you,” I said.

“I think that would be best,” the doctor agreed.

Back at home, Jet returned to her perfectly behaved little self. Really.

Mother’s Day (May 14, 2017)


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I love you, Mom

I love you, Mom

Jet and I went to the library to get some new books. The children’s room usually offers a table with crayons and a sheet to copy. This time, a sign on the table read, “Make a card for your mother and give it to the librarian and you may choose a book for your mother from the library sale.” What a fantastic idea! Jet went right to work and had soon earned her mom a book.

The sale books were centered at adult eye level — too high for Jet to reach most of them, but she quickly pulled down a book on car repair. “This one!”

“That’s a nice looking book, Jet, but it’s about fixing cars. I think we should look for something else. Let’s keep looking.”

“Here’s a book, Grandma, it has a princess on it!” Jet hollered as she pulled off a torrid romance novel at the exact moment I spotted something in the sci-fi genre.

I Love You To Pieces

I Love You To Pieces

“Shhh – don’t forget to be quiet in the library! That’s a pretty book, all right, but look, here’s one that’s really big! Which one do you want?”

Jet wavered. Her hand went back and forth between the big book and the princess. Bigger won. “I want to wrap it all by myself.”

“Okay. Let’s take it home.”

Jet remembered a great deal about wrapping presents. She needed no prompting to take the roll of paper and lay it on the carpet. She pulled out a length of it and brandished her scissors. “I’m going to cut this all by myself!”

“Okay, but you need a bit more than that.” I showed her where to cut. Her scissors ran through the paper like butter!

Cutting the Paper

Cutting the Paper

“Get the tape, Grandma!” I rushed to get the tape and held the paper in place for her as she directed. When I let go the paper fell back to the floor. “It didn’t work!”

“The tape has to touch both sides of the paper, remember? It’s okay, just put on another piece and you can do the ends.” Jet remembered how I folded in the sides first at the ends and did a very credible job of duplicating my style.

“Ribbon! We need ribbon!” I got the ribbon. “I’ll cut it Grandma, but you tie it on for me, okay?”

“Sure thing, sweetness.” At least she still needs me for something!

Adding Tape

Adding Tape




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Feel Better Grandma!

Feel Better Grandma!

A highly contagious virus, one of the few drawbacks attached to grandchildren, rendered me couch-bound for 7 days. Jet colored numerous “feel better” drawings for me that lifted my spirits considerably. Papa stepped into the breach to make sure she didn’t miss her ballet class on Monday. I took a “sick day” on Tuesday, but Jet returned on Wednesday with more help from Papa to handle stories and songs.

We had a very quiet day: play, bath, play, lunch, nap. After her nap, Jet noticed the design of Papa’s t-shirt. “Look, there’s a crow on your shirt!”

“I don’t think so,” Papa smiled. My husband is a fan of hawks, falcons and other birds of prey. Crows, not so much.

Papa's Bird Shirt

Papa’s Bird Shirt

“Yes! Yes, it is a crow! I know because his nose has a point on the end.”

As Papa pondered the ensuing argument and his chances of winning it, Jet took matters into her own hands. “I’ll show you,” she said.

I can’t begin to describe the pride that blossomed in our retired-librarian hearts as our grandchild ran to pull a reference book to prove her point. Jet quickly flipped the pages of an ABC of birds and turned to E for eagle. “Look, see his nose? That’s a crow!”

The world stood still for a moment as our widened eyes met above Jet’s head. “She’s amazing,” I whispered.

“You’re right about his nose, but see this? This is an E, for eagle, not a crow.” Papa was so gentle in his correction that Jet barely registered that she had been partly wrong. “The bird on my shirt could be an eagle though.”

“Show her a hawk in your bird book too,” I suggested.

A Spoonbill

A Spoonbill

Papa fetched his guide to birds in North America and showed Jet how many birds of prey had hooked beaks. Jet’s fingers twitched with the desire to flip through the pages too. She quickly discovered another familiar bird. “This is a spoonbill,” she announced. It certainly was.