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Nana, a tech-savvy 9-year-old and FaceTime

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Keeping up with the changing times of communicating with grandchildren

Anne Endicott, aka 'Nana'At this stage in my life, the only thing that could possibly entice me back to school is the promise of cold pizza and green beans shared with a blue-eyed blonde who calls me "Nana."

Recently, DH (who goes by "Hampa" in some circles) and I traveled to Crater Elementary School in Newberg for lunch with our granddaughter on "Special People Day." Hampa and I joined the other big kids pushing our plastic blue trays along knee-high cafeteria rails, loading up on said pizza, beans and occasionally, green salad. Then we challenged ourselves to get seated without bruising our shins on metal tables and benches.

When dining with children, you have to be careful which slot you use for a helping of salad. I was informed once by a very loud third-grader, "Salad doesn't go there!"

Back in the day, my kids invited their grandparents via a phone call to what we then knew as "Grandparents Day." Now Butterbean, the little girl who calls me Nana, issues her invite on FaceTime.

For her ninth birthday in November, Butterbean received an iPod Touch. Probably because she figured out her mother's cell phone password and started texting everybody she knew in mom's contact list. Butterbean's new device has three phone numbers — mom, dad and Nana.

I was out running errands a few days after the little girl's birthday and my phone blew up with text messages while I was driving. Once I'd parked the car, I checked my messages.

"Nana, I want to talk to you."

"Nana, where are you? I HAVE to talk to you!"

Finally, a video — self-shot of course.

"Nana!!! Can we Face Time PLEEEEEZE?"

How did our grandparents get along without text messages and FaceTime?

It was quite the occasion when my grandmother sprang for a long distance call when I was a kid. You could hear her boisterous "Hello dearie!" from the receiver clear across the room because a long distance call also implied you had to shout to be heard (she lived in Spokane). There was limited time to chat too, since every minute on the phone cost money.

These days, Butterbean takes me on "tours" with her iPod — her bedroom, her best friend's bedroom (and bathroom), the snow in the front yard — and I have to admit, it is awesome to see her face when we can't be face-to-face. But it's staggering how adept she is with technical devices. Before acquiring her own, I never knew who was texting if she confiscated her mama's cell phone.

Grandparents who have never been a guest at a Special Person lunch should know one thing: bring a checkbook — there's a book fair lurking somewhere. I do have to give credit to Scholastic Books though — they haven't caved to the techie trend. They still haul in an inventory of good old-fashioned books, kitschy pencils and Hello Kitty posters.

I was happy to shell out half my paycheck for a diary, a couple hardbound books in a series Butterbean likes and a tassel-topped pen with enough glitter to make her mom crazy.

What I really need is a book titled "Technology for Grandparents."