Saturday, May 21, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS BLOG 3 - GRAMPS BLAZE AND POPPY'S SURPRISE

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS
BLOG 3
GRAMPS BLAZE AND POPPY'S SURPRISE
  
Sir WHIP swooped over Ro and Jo's house, circled, and came into the back yard for a smooth landing, touching down so gently that Kato didn't even realize for a second, that they were back on solid ground.  He always kept his eyes shut tight as Sir WHIP was landing, though he didn't shiver in fear quite so much anymore, especially curled up between Ro and Jo with their arms all wrapped around him. 

He gave a happy and excited little yip when the kids leapt up and de-dragoned, (that means, getting off of a dragon, sort of like you get off a plane after it lands), leaping to the ground, safe and sound. 

"How big will it be?"  Jo asked, looking at the back corner of the yard. 

"Big enough," Gramps Blaze said quietly, a mysterious little smile on his face, and Nana Terri gave him a playful little nudge.  "Get busy, slacker!" she teased, and he nudged her back.  Their nudges were very gentle, because both of them had booboos inside their bodies, and sometimes Gramps Blaze got a little dizzy when he walked and had to sit down to rest for a few minutes. 

But that didn't have anything to do with their magic.  Their magic made them strong and powerful.  Ro and Jo had seen Gramps Blaze's magic before, first when he'd "caught" their Kraken float when he'd taken them fishing, and then, of course, last night at the very important family meeting. 

"Where are you going?" Ro asked as Gramps Blaze headed inside the house, but just before he got to the back door, Grandma Crystal came outside, carrying the crystal ball.  She walked over to the picnic table and sat it down.  Everyone gathered around the table, including Kato who leapt onto the bench for a better view of the ball.  He didn't quite understand that thing, but he knew if he waited, it was sort of like a teeny weeny little round TV.   

But it didn't have the same stuff inside as the TV – like dog food commercials that were his favorite shows.  This had other stuff inside – like people who knew just where to scratch his belly to make his back leg shake with pleasure. 

Sure enough, as he waited patiently, sitting there on the bench between Ro and Jo, swirls of mist inside the little ball faded and a face appeared. 

"Poppy!" Ro and Jo exclaimed, delighted to see their grandfather again so soon. 

"What's goin' on?" Poppy said, a twinkle in his eye. 

"You know!" Ro and Jo both said at once, laughing, and Poppy's face laughed right along with them. 

"Wow, I can't keep any kind of secrets from you anymore, Ro!" he said, still chuckling.  He looked over at Gramps Blaze and said, "I take it you're ready to get started?" 

"Sure am," said Gramps Blaze, who stood Ro on the bench in front of him and wrapped his arms around her, bent his head forward and touched his forehead to the back of her head.  To Poppy he said, "Go ahead and think the plans to Ro and she will think them to me." 

And that's exactly what happened.  Within thirty seconds, Gramps Blaze knew exactly how to build the fort.  Ro jumped down off the bench as Gramps Blaze walked to the center of the yard, facing the back corner of it. 

"Don't we need to go to Lowes for the supplies?" Jo asked, as he, Kato and Ro flanked Gramps Blaze. 

Their grandfather looked down at them at his sides, Kato between Jo and him, and smiled.  "Really?  Lowes?" 

"Well, you need wood, nails, screws, tools and stuff, right?" Ro said.  "Poppy always needed all that stuff.  We used to go with him sometimes.  He'd put us both inside one of those big carts, and spin us in circles.  He was crazy sometimes!  It was fun!" 

 "Well, as much as I love to be crazy and fun too, we have a job to do.  So we'll go to Lowes another time, maybe." 

"Where are you going to get the supplies, then?" Jo said. 

Gramps Blaze just smiled and shook his head side to side.  "Do you not remember last night?" he said, again, with a hint of mystery in his voice.

Ro and Jo stepped back, Jo snapping his fingers to clue Kato in.  All three sets of eyes widened as Gramps Blaze finally went to work. 

Or perhaps I should say, went to magic. 

As Gramps Blaze began, Ro turned toward the house to go and get the Team RoJo Journal.  She wanted to make sure she got the story down just right.  Before she could even take a step, Grandma Crystal handed the book and her pen to her.  "So much for shielding your thoughts," her grandmother teased. 

"Thanks, Grandma Crystal," Ro said, and dropped onto the bench, facing the back of the yard, the journal on her knee.  Soon she scribbled away in the book, getting every detail just right. 

Jo moved to stand near Nana Terri.  "Can Gramps Blaze really build a fort with magic?  Just by wiggling his fingers around like last night?" He had a strange look on his face.  "I spent lots and lots of time fishing with Gramps Blaze over the summer.  I've seen him do cool stuff, but I didn't know his magic was this big." 

"Yep, bigtime magical, not like magicians on TV or at carnivals." Nana Terri asked, and Gramps Blaze blushed, not being one to seek out all this attention. 

"I know he caught us the Kraken float we wanted from the store when he didn't have any money.  He caught it just like a fish, and I know he did that with magic." 

"Pish posh!" Nana Terri said, scoffing at her grandson.  "That's the easy peasy stuff he can do!  Keep watching, sweetie." 

As they watched, Mimi and Poppop, Gary Gargoyle, Nana Rose, Mrs. Levy, and BEN Owl came out the back door and into the yard.  Ro wrote in the family journal that everyone, all of Team RoJo and their friends were present for the building of the fort. 

"Nana Rose, how did you get here so fast?" Jo asked, taking hold of her hand. 

"BEN Owl came to my house on Knight Island and flew me here!  What fun!  Even better than Dad's truck!" 

"Hey!  You love riding in my truck!" Dad kidded, placing an arm around his grandmother. 

"Yeah, but the view is better from the sky," Nana Rose said, reaching up to kiss Dad's cheek as he leaned down to make it easier for her. 

Ro looked around the yard and noticed that the sun was getting lower and lower in the sky, and the back end of the yard where all the trees were was getting very shadowy.  "He'd better hurry, huh, Nana Terri?  It's getting dark." 

Nana Terri just smiled and nodded toward Gramps Blaze, who had raised his powerful arms into the air, and was beginning to moved his hands around as he had at the kitchen table the night before. 

Suddenly the shadows started to lighten up a little bit, as if someone had lit a lantern back there.

Ro felt Gramps Blaze's mind connect with hers again, going over the plans that Poppy had planted inside of her head.   

Poppy's face got a little smaller, and then his shoulders and arms could be seen inside the crystal ball.  He waved, gestured, and pointed, and Gramps Blaze kept looking back over his shoulder at the ball on the table.  Poppy looked a little cramped and uncomfortable. 

"Oh, this is silly," Grandma Crystal said after a moment, and rubbed the crystal ball with her hands.  It glowed and got warm as Poppy grew inside, and finally pushed through into the yard with everyone else.  He walked over to Gramps Blaze and said what he had to say in Gramps Blaze's ear, then both of them moved their hands around. 

Suddenly, glowing boards appeared, moving around in concert with the old men's hands.  Poppy and Gramps Blaze were both moving stuff!  The boards moved together and suddenly a container of nails appeared, and the nails floated up to where the boards had come together to form a fort!  The nails punched themselves into the boards at just the right places to hold them together. All that the wave of the grandfathers' arms!

Before their dazzled eyes, Gramps Blaze and Poppy had put together the whole fort, right there in the air above the back end of the yard!

Both of the magical men lowered their hands from the air above their heads to the ground, and the fort settled in the back corner of the yard as if it had been meant to be there all along. 

Ro and Jo ran to Poppy and Gramps Blaze, taking turns hugging them both.  Then Poppy kindof shimmered and faded in and out, near Gramps Blaze, but he sure had a big smile on his face when Ro and Jo ran to him, excited to see their beloved grandfather after so long. 

"I love you, Ro and Jo!"  Poppy said to his grandchildren, sort of inside their heads and hearts.  "I had been planning to build you a playhouse before I got sick.  I had even drawn up some plans for one.  Gramps Blaze found those plans and helped me build it.  But I hear you need a fort more than a playhouse with dollies and such, because you have very important business to attend to.  So fort it is.  It's a strong little building big enough for you and your friends to plan your adventures.  And it's special because Gramps Blaze always has a magical trick or two up his sleeve.  It's built with lots of love from Gramps Blaze and me, so I know you will be happy and safe whenever you are inside it. 

He knelt down then, and hugged Ro and Jo and whispered inside their heads, "I love you two, you know.  I watch over you all the time and when you are smiling and happy and having a good time, I smile and am happy and have a good time.  I am always in your thoughts and in your hearts, get it?" 

"Got it," Ro said softly, Jo nodding in agreement. 

"Good," Poppy said.  "I know you are happy and that many people love you and keep you safe and cared for.  Gramps Blaze is one of them.  He helped me keep my promise." 

After one more hug, Poppy shimmered away, promising he would come back into their minds every now and then to say hi.  Within seconds he was back inside the crystal ball sitting on the picnic table. 

"Well, how come you're just standing there?  Don't you want to go inside and make yourselves comfortable?"

Ro and Jo glanced back and forth between each other, and each took a step toward the fort, but not before Kato darted between them from behind, at full speed, and dove into the door of the fort.  Team RoJo giggled and hurried into the little building behind their goofy dog. 

"Wow!"  Jo said, looking all around.  "This is cool!" There was a sturdy table in the center of the floor, big enough for meals and for spreading out their notes and maps when making plans for their adventures.  At the end of the table on the floor was a fuzzy dog bed for Kato to nap in, and on the back wall were bookshelves on one side, and a miniature house for Sir WHIP to use as a guest house.  On the other end wall was Gramps Blaze's foot locker from when he was in the Air Force.  It was really big, and it gave the kids a place to put away their toys and belongings when they were busy with important quests. 


There were coat hooks on the back of the door and on the wall beside it.  And because Gramps Blaze was a powerful wizard, and Poppy was a great planner, there was even a little bitty bathroom through a door at the end of the back wall. 

Now Dad and his dad Poppop too, were plumbers and they knew that there had to be pipes in order to have a toilet and sink.  But Gramps Blaze just gave them a mischievous wink that sparkled with magic, and they knew that somehow everything would work.  Especially since Mimi and Poppop gave little waves of their arms toward the bathroom door.  Water filled the toilet tank and pipes going to the sink and the shower. 

"Now this is a place worthy of your plans for amazing quests!" Gramps Blaze said. 

"Thank you, Gramps Blaze!"  Ro and Jo said, hugging their new grandfather.  Then they turned to Poppy's face, and placed their hands on the crystal ball where he resided again and said, "Thanks, Poppy!"  Both grandfathers said, "You're welcome!" at the same moment, and then everyone chuckled. 

"Remember the something special I mentioned last night?" Poppy said from within the crystal ball. 

"Yeah," Ro and Jo said, nodding. 

"Well, it's like this.  You know how when you're playing tag with your friends there's base, and if you standing on base or touching base, no one can tag you?"

"Yes," both kids said, nodding. 

"Well, this fort is sort of like base.  Gramps Blaze and I put a really cool magical spell on it so that when you are inside it nothing can harm you.  No animal, no person, no alien, no monster, no meanies.  You are one hundred percent protected when you are inside this fort with the door closed.  And when you guys are in here, your thoughts become magical.  You can make things happen just by thinking them, you understand?  Now you have to practice this, because it's like learning how to use any other tool.  You don't get the hang of it right away.  And you have to learn how to use it correctly, because if you're not careful you can hurt people with your thoughts when you are magical." 

"You can?" Ro said, alarm in her eyes. 

"Yes.  But I don't want you to be frightened, sweetie.  It's like learning to use a knife.  If you're careful a knife is a helpful tool you can use to peel an apple or slice up a cake to share with your friends.  But if you play with it the wrong way, you can cut yourself or someone else.  Understand?" Poppy explained from inside the crystal ball. 

The kids nodded, Ro still looking a little unsure.  Gramps Blaze chuckled. 
"It will be fine.  You have a house full of grownups with powers all ready to help you learn to use yours." 

Everyone around the table – Mom and Dad, Grandma Crystal, Poppy, Mimi and Poppop, Gary Gargoyle, Sir WHIP, Nana Rose, Nana Terri, Gramps Blaze, BEN Owl, Kato, and Brie all nodded at Ro and Jo.  With all the love there in that magical fort, Ro knew that she and her magical brother would have a whole ton of fun learning how to use their powers. 

Gramps Blaze got up and went to a table by the wall where there was a coffee machine.  Ro and Jo giggled.  He snapped his fingers and 'poof!' his Marine mug was in his hand, having appeared out of thin air. 

Soon he was back at the table sitting next to Nana Terri.  Ro and Jo laughed at his loud slurps, knowing that he usually only made the noise when they were around and no one else.  It was kind of a competition when they all had something to drink.  But Nana Terri would nudge him when she heard it and tell him not to egg the kids on into bad manners.  He would wink at them, and they would wink back, and giggle under their breath.  Gramps Blaze could be so silly! 

He did one enormous slurp, everyone else around the table laughing quietly.  "I guess you get away with one good slurp, after the wonderful magical work you did today," Nana Terri said, kissing Gramps Blaze's cheek and linking her arm through his. 

"Training starts tomorrow morning, bright and early," Gramps Blaze said to Ro and Jo, and everyone around the table nodded.  "You guys have to learn how to use your powers.  I have something to teach you, first thing, Jo.  It's about how to use your powers on the fort.  I think you'll have a lot of fun." 

Jo gave a proud smile.  "I can do magic on the fort?"

"Oh, you guys have only just begun," Gramps Blaze said, and all the rest of Team RoJo's friends and family around the table smiled even bigger than Jo, knowing all that he and his sister would learn. 

Training was just the beginning, for after training there would be quests! 

**
Be sure and come back next week to read all about Jo earning his first scale!! 



Sunday, May 15, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS - BLOG 2 - NANA ROSE'S POWER


After lunch, Ro & Jo found Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze on the front porch, having cups of coffee, and they sat down on either side of them. 
"Wassup?" Nana Terri asked her grandchildren, putting her arm around Ro, who sat next to her, while Jo had plopped himself down next to Gramps Blaze.  She looked down at Ro, and realized the girl was stewing about something.  And it must have been something serious because her thoughts were not coming through into Nana Terri's head.  She was purposely keeping them to herself.  But not for long, Nana Terri thought.  "Really, Ro, what's on your mind that you're keeping so quiet about?"
Ro shrugged.  "Sometimes I wonder about Nana Rose, and how come she doesn't visit us much, and why she always leaves early and stuff.  Doesn't she like us anymore?" 
Nana Terri was honestly shocked at Ro's worry.  "Of course she likes you!  She loves you to pieces, sweetie!  Just like the whole rest of the family.  But Nana Rose is getting really old, and some of the problems that come with being elderly, like arthritis, balance issues, medicine issues, and other things make it really difficult to spend a long time away from home.  Nana Rose has her house fixed up with special equipment and padded furniture that make her more safe and comfortable, understand?  She tells me all the time that she wishes she could do the things she used to do, and go the places she used to go when she was younger, like when your daddy was a little boy.  But her body doesn't let her, you understand?"
"I guess," Ro said, nodding, while on the other side of Gramps Blaze, Jo nodded too. 
"You know, maybe it would be nice for you to visit her, once in a while.  When I talk to her on the phone she always says she wishes you would come over and brighten her day every now and then." 
"Cause we're her sunshines?" Jo said, smiling, remembering the song that all grandparents seemed to know and sing to their grandchildren.  At least the ones in his family. 
Nana Terri chuckled, reaching across Gramps Blaze's lap to pat Jo's knee.  "That's right, munchkin!  Because you are her sunshines."  Then Nana Terri looked back over at Ro.  "That's not all, though.  What else is pinging around in that head of yours?" she said to Ro.  
"Well, Nana Rose left before the big family meeting yesterday, and she didn't come back with Mimi and Poppop this morning," Ro began. 
"And so you never found out all about her power!" Nana Terri finished Ro's thought.  "You are absolutely right!" she said, standing up all of a sudden, bumping Gramps Blaze's arm and almost making him spill his coffee. 
"Hey!" he said, steadying his cup, though a drop or two sloshed over the rim and landed on his shirt. 
Ro looked at his spotted shirt and shook her head, "Gramps Blaze, what are we going to do with you?"
"Hey!  It wasn't my fault! Nana Terri splooshed me!" he said as he stood up, and followed everybody into the house. 
"What's going on?" Dad said from the sofa where he was watching a cooking show. 
Nana Terri said, "Ro and Jo were asking about Nana Rose's power, and I thought Gramps Blaze and I would run them over to her house to hear about it.  Want to come with us?" 
"Well, actually, Mom and I have some errands we were about to run…" 
"We could take the kids to Nana Rose's," Gramps Blaze offered. 
"Works for me," Dad said, and Ro and Jo hugged him goodbye. 
"I should have my backpack," Jo said, hurrying off to his room. 
"I should have the family journal," Ro said, hurrying off to her own room. 
The kids, with Kato tagging along as usual, showed up in the driveway, and started toward Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze's car, but they were nowhere in sight.  "What the…" Jo said, scratching his head.
"Is Gramps Blaze in the bathroom again?" Ro said, elbowing her brother, chuckling. 
"It's 'cause he drinks coffee." 
"Hey, where are you guys?” Nana Terri's voice asked inside Ro's head. 
"Where are you guys?" Ro thought back. 
"Back yard, chica!" Nana Rose replied, and the kids took off to find their straying grandparents. 


"We thought we'd go dragon style!" Gramps Blaze said, seated beside Nana Terri on Sir WHIP's back.  Ro and Jo laughed, and climbed aboard.  Kato leapt up too, no longer afraid of flying on mighty Sir WHIP's back, especially since Ro and Jo always wrapped their arms around him and petted him, knowing flying wasn't really his thing.  But he loved the air in his face when he rode on Sir WHIP's back!  Better than sticking his head out the car window, even! 
Once everybody was aboard and settled, the big sparkly orange dragon took to the sky. 
They set down in the street in front of Nana Rose's house in almost no time, soaring through the sky over roads full of cars that seemed to take forever to get nowhere. 
Dragons, on the other hand swooped and looped and boom!  There you were! 
Kato was, of course, the first one off the dragon, and up on Nana Rose's porch by the time Gramps Blaze offered Nana Terri a hand stepping down off of Sir WHIP's wing. 
Nana Rose already had the door open by the time Sir WHIP had shrunken himself down to fit through it.  Ro and Jo hugged Nana Rose, and then entered the small house. 
"You missed the big meeting, Nana Rose!  We have powers!" Ro blurted as Nana Rose hugged Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze. 
"Yeah!" Jo took over.  "Ro can hear other people's thoughts, and I can wiggle my fingers and make things move!  Gramps Blaze taught me!" 
"Wow!" Nana Rose said, following everyone into the living room where everybody found a seat, and Kato sprawled on the floor between Ro and Jo's feet. 
"But Nana Rose," Ro said softly, "you left right after Jo's party, and missed the whole family meeting!" 
"I'm sorry, sweetheart, but I was very tired and I'm not supposed to drive at night, so I always make sure I leave before the sun does," Nana Rose explained. 
Ro and Jo nodded, and Jo said, "We understand.  We thought you didn't like us anymore, but Nana Terri explained that you're just really old and can't do the stuff you used to do." 
"I'm not old, you know.  I'm ancient.  Like the pyramids, or the wheel.  Or dirt." 
Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze shook their heads, chuckling, and Ro and Jo did too, after a moment.  Even Kato's tail gave a little wag.
"When you missed the big family meeting, Nana Rose, you missed hearing all about everybody's powers, and we missed hearing about yours," Ro said, and Nana Rose smiled. 
"I think you'll like mine.  It's pretty cool.  And a bit funny, too," Nana Rose said, with a little mystery in her voice as she glanced over at Nana Terri and winked.  Nana Terri chuckled. 
"Why don't we have some cookies and I'll tell you," Nana Rose said, standing and leading everyone into the kitchen where they all took seats around the table and Nana Rose poured out some coffee for the grownups and milk for the munchkins and dragon (Sir WHIP loved milk, and drank it with every meal and snack).  She put a bowl of water down for Kato, and gave him some doggie treats and some really good scratches behind his ears; she loved Kato almost as much as her human grandchildren.  Then she gave everyone a napkin, for she was a tidy kind of great-grandmother, and then put a platter of cookies in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves.  "Now that your bellies won't be distracting you, I'll tell you all about my power." 
Every eye in the place was on Nana Rose's face as she began. 
"My power is that I have control over the wind and air," Nana Rose said, very directly. 
"That's it?  You can make the wind blow?" Jo asked. 
"That's rude, Jo!"  Ro corrected her brother.  "You'll hurt Nana Rose's feelings!" 
"It's okay, I know it might not seem like a cool thing, but it's a pretty awesome power.  Making the wind blow is only part of it.  That's what happens when I breathe out, concentrating on swirling up a wind.  But if I breathe in, I can also calm down the wind," Nana Rose explained, and then nibbled at a chocolate chip cookie. 
"I thought you weren't supposed to eat chocolate," Nana Terri reminded, and Nana Rose cut her a sideways look. 
"Well, it's a special occasion, and sometimes rules must be broken – especially when it comes to chocolate chip cookies!" 
Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze just shook their heads.  Nana Rose could surprise you at times, they knew. 
Just like at that moment, she blew a little puff of air out, which moved Kato from one side of his water dish to the other, but so slowly and gently that he never even stopped drinking.  He looked up, droplets of water dripping from his chin, and wagged his tail at Nana Rose.  Then he yipped as if to say 'thanks for the ride, Nana Rose!' 
Everyone smiled as Kato ran over to his elderly buddy and she tucked another doggie treat into his mouth.  Then she turned her attention back to those sitting around the table. 
"And then there's the other part of my power," Nana Rose said, rolling her eyes, kindof teasing the children by holding back for a few moments. 
"C'mon, Nana Rose!" Ro giggled, begging for the story. 
"Give!" Jo said, nudging her with his shoulder, but not too hard, because she was old, after all. 
"Well, if there are meanies around who mean me harm, or mean harm to anyone I love, there's a certain kind of wind I can use to make them instantly fall asleep." 
"You mean, knock them out?  Like doctors do when they're going to operate on you?" Jo asked. 
"Exactly!  They put a mask over your face that lets you breathe a certain kind of air that makes you go to sleep." 
"You have a mask to make people sleep?" Ro asked. 
"Not exactly," Nana Rose said, not being mysterious on purpose anymore, she just wasn't sure how to explain her power to her great-grandchildren. 
Meanwhile, Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri were struggling not to laugh. 
"Since you two aren't being very helpful, and you find this conversation so laughable, I will use you to demonstrate," Nana Rose said, kindof bluntly, and all of a sudden she let a fart. 
Not just your average little squeaky fart, like polite little old ladies let out in the bathroom or outside, but a rattling, long fart that rose up in a brown cloud. 
Nana Rose turned around and blew a puff of air out of her mouth that moved the little brown cloud until it settled down over Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze. 
The whole thing took maybe five seconds, and suddenly Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri slumped forward, their heads dropping down onto the table before them, their faces landing in the crumb-covered napkins. 
"Your farts kill people!" Jo said, alarmed. 
"No!  No!  They aren't dead, just asleep!" Nana Rose said, quickly, calming Jo down, as Ro started to squeal with laughter. 
"Nana Rose's farts are really silent but deadly!" she giggled out the sentence. 
"That wasn't very silent!" Jo said, starting to giggle himself as Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze slept through the whole thing. 
"Nor was it deadly, I assure you," Sir WHIP, said, also chuckling (not as loud as the kids though; there was, after all, such a thing as dignity). "They are breathing, of course, as you can see," he said to the children.  Turning his eyes toward Nana Rose, he asked, "How long will they sleep?"
Nana Rose didn't have to answer, because just as Sir WHIP finished the sentence, Nana Terri's and Gramps Blaze's eyes popped open, and they sat up. 
"Very funny," Nana Terri said, brushing cookie crumbs off her face, and then reached over to brush them out of Gramps Blaze's beard. 
"I thought so," Nana Rose said, chuckling. 
"Have you ever knocked out a meanie?" Jo asked.
"Every now and then," Nana Rose said, finishing off her third cookie.  "There was a bully in school who never did figure out how he was shoving me into the lockers one moment, and the next he woke up inside of mine.  And what had happened to the whole afternoon.  He got detention for missing all his afternoon classes." 
"Nana Rose! That's bad!" Ro said, shocked, but there was still a little smile on her face. 
"Well, he hurt me!  I had a bruise on my arm and on my hip where he shoved me and I bumped into my locker.  I decided to teach him a lesson.  I didn't hurt him, just farted and shoved him into my locker when he went to sleep." 
"Serves him right!" Jo said, knowing a few meanie kids he wouldn't mind making go to sleep every now and then in school. 
"Well, that's not the most important part of my power anyway, really.  It comes in handy, but the coolest part of my power is being able to calm storms down so they aren't dangerous.  Remember that hurricane that was supposed to happen a couple weeks ago?" 
Everyone at the table nodded. 
"Did you wonder why it never happened?" 
Ro and Jo's eyes got big, and they both said at the very same time, "That was you?"
Nana Rose just smiled a mysterious little smile, and waggled her eyebrows.  "Yep." 
Nana Rose stood up and beckoned everyone to follow her outside into her back yard where her neighbor had mowed her lawn. 
On her back path, where there was freshly cut grass on the sidewalk, she puckered up her lips and blew out, long and steady, and every blade of grass trembled, and then flipped up off the cement and into the grass just as if a leaf blower was being used to clean the sidewalk of debris.
"My chores take a lot less time.  I can blow the dust off my furniture inside, too!  And I can hang my clothes out here on the porch after I wash them, sit down in a chair and read a book, and dry them while I'm reading."
"Wow!  That's pretty cool!" Jo said.
"My paper airplanes fly farther than anyone's!  I can keep them up in the air for hours if I want!"  Nana Rose said as she led everybody around the house to the front yard.  "And I can make a baseball fly over the fence every time, if I want to.  But I don't make that happen during real games, of course, because that would be cheating." 
"Wow!" Ro and Jo said, both at the same time. 
"And then there's this," Nana Rose said, stepping into the road, which was deserted. She cupped her hands around her mouth and blew out, through her hands, and the leaves on the trees began to wriggle in the wind.  She blew harder and harder until she was red in the face, and Gramps Blaze wondered if she would faint before her demonstration was finished.  But she stood firm and the wind picked up more and more speed. 
Though it was a small one, just dancing there in the street, Nana Rose created a tornado that whirled around in a fury, smacking everything out of its way.  Nana Rose kept her hands cupped in mid-air, as if she were using a potter's wheel to create the tornado, her breath the clay to mold into a shape. 
She kept the little tornado spinning in front of her like a top made of wind, and then she took a deep breath in as she opened her mouth wide.  Almost instantly the tornado shrunk way down until it spun on the palm of Nana Rose's hand, and then she popped it in her mouth like the last bite of a sandwich and swallowed it!
Everyone gasped, even Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri who had seen Nana Rose use her powers before, but never swallow a tornado! 
"Wow!" Ro and Jo said, staring at Nana Rose in awe, and Kato barked, chased his tail around in a circle, then sat down, his head tilted, staring at Nana Rose, wondering where the windy-spinny thing had gone. 

Ro was the first to move when she ran to the car to fetch her journal, Kato at her heels. When she got back to the porch everyone was sitting around talking quietly, like they were a normal family, on a normal afternoon, having a normal conversation – about magic, of course. 
Ro plopped down on the porch and began to furiously scribble down everything that had happened in the last two hours at Nana Rose's house. 
Kato lay down beside her, propped his chin on her knee as she wrote, and promptly fell asleep.  For the moment it looked as if the excitement was over. 
And Nana Rose enjoyed the company of her great-grandchildren, daughter, son-in-law, Kato, and Sir WHIP for a little while longer, until Gramps Blaze turned to Nana Terri and said, "Well, sweetie, we should get going.  We have that other thing to do this afternoon." 
"Aww!  Do we have to go?" Jo said, his eyes turning from happy to sad in a split second. 
"Well, I did promise Poppy we'd work on your surprise today…"  Gramps Blaze said, letting his voice fade, knowing the kids would not let him finish. 
"Oh yeah!  The surprise!!" Ro and Jo chattered together. 
For just a second there was sadness in Nana Rose's eyes, knowing that the wonderful visit with her family was about to end, but she couldn't help but smile at the children's excitement over the promised surprise. 
"Call me and tell me all about it," she said to Ro and Jo, who swore they would be calling later on, probably after dinner.
"Are you going to be able to finish the surprise by dinnertime?" Nana Terri asked Gramps Blaze.  He gave her a sideways look like she was the silliest lady in the world asking such a question. 
"Oh please, sweetie, this is me.  No problem." 
After many hugs, (everybody got two at least; that was Nana Rose's firm policy), Sir WHIP strolled out into the middle of the road and stretched himself big enough to carry four humans and Kato.  Everyone climbed aboard and Nana Rose waved until they became a teeny-weeny little orange dot in the sky and finally disappeared. 
She couldn't wait to hear all about Poppy's and Gramps Blaze's surprise for the children later.  She figured washing up the dishes and tidying up the kitchen would keep her busy until the children's call. 
Sometimes she wished she could trade her wind power for Mimi and Poppop's water power – especially when it was time to do the dishes. 


TD – 5/14/2016 

Be sure and come back next week and find out what the big surprise is!       



Saturday, May 7, 2016

TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS - BLOG 1 - ALL ABOUT THE POWERS

Happy Weekend, Rojo Readers! 

I wanted to write you a little note before you start reading this very long story (made up of a lot of little stories).  I pulled down the "Legends" blogs for Team RoJo because I thought I had a better story to write for you.  After the Grando the Farting Dragon story, I thought another witch plotting against another dragon might be boring, so I decided to have a blog that told all about the powers of Team RoJo and their friends and family.  In fact, that's what I called this story: All About the Powers.  I rewrote the first nine blogs, so they will look familiar, but a bit easier for little kids to understand.  And then I added the last few stories about everyone's powers. 

I hope you like the changes.  When you know all about Team RoJo's powers, we'll be all set for them to tackle their training for their first quest, which I will write in individual stories like I did with Kid Joey and Princess Rosie.  There will be lots of adventure and lots of laughs! 

After the Training Scales come the quests!  Exciting and fun stuff! 

Thank you for reading my RoJo adventures!  Have fun! 

Terri


TEAM ROJO & FRIENDS
BLOG 1

ALL ABOUT THE POWERS

Kid Joey's Birthday Party


Sir WHIP, the shiny golden orange, flying, and most important, fire-breathing dragon, circled far above as Mom set the cake on the table, at the far end, where the tablecloth had been folded back and the chairs had been moved away - just in case.  Everyone stood back to give him room as he dove down toward Kid Joey's yard, and aimed himself at the table, specifically at Kid Joey's birthday cake.  There were candles to be lit.  And on this occasion pinpoint accuracy counted. 
Lower and lower, closer and closer he came, everyone wincing (knowing he'd been working on his aim and control, and hoping for the best but preparing for the worst - moms having dressed their children in flame-proof clothing) except for Kid Joey and Ro, for they had faithfully recorded his training sessions every day, and there had been big improvement in Sir WHIP's control and abilities. 
As his face passed over the birthday cake, Sir WHIP sighed through his nose, and the candles popped into Happy Birthday flames. 
"Pretty good, huh, Ro?  Only that one little corner of the cake is on fire," Kid Joey said to his older sister who was already spraying the flaming corner of the cake with a water gun that she kept handy whenever Sir WHIP was around, and that was all the time, of course.  Sir WHIP had become a cherished family friend.  When only the candles burned, Kid Joey stepped up to the head of the table and Mom moved the cake to the edge. 
The usual badly sung notes of "Happy Birthday" rang through the crisp October air, from every person in the world that Jo loved:  Mom and Dad, his sister Ro, Grandma Crystal (and Poppy, who he knew was there, even though he couldn't see him), Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze, Nana Rose, Mrs. Levy, Sir WHIP, Gary Gargoyle.  Kid Joey blew out the candles in one hearty breath, and therefore knew he got his wish.
Sir WHIP insisted on getting the soggy piece of cake that he'd set ablaze and had to be drenched.  "It will cool down my throat after breathing fire anyway," he said to Mom who was doing the dishing out. 

*


What are the Grandparents Up To?



Kid Joey's party went on with a rousing game of Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Dragon (Ro had suggested the variation on the traditional game to Sir WHIP's amusement), and as the festivities continued, Ro noticed that none of the grandparents were around the table, and went looking for them since it was almost time for Kid Joey to open presents. 
She found them around the side of the house, talking quietly, and as she came closer to them she heard words like "powers," "just children," "training," and "magic." 
Grandma Crystal nudged Gramps Blaze, and all the grandparents looked sideways as Ro moved closer and announced that it was time for presents. "What's going on with you guys anyway?" she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her. 
"You will see later," Nana Terri said, keeping the grandparents' secrets to herself. 
"Aww, come on!  I heard you guys talking about magic.  This is about Joey's powers, huh?" 
"Don't be a Nosy Rosie," Grandma Crystal said, and the grownups laughed.  "You will find out soon enough." 

Joey got many awesome presents: New Matchbox cars for his vast collection, cool new clothes to wear to school and some for playing after school, a pair of hiking boots from Grandma Crystal, a new bicycle helmet (which would do double duty as a dragon-riding helmet, just in case Sir WHIP misjudged a landing area and crashed every now and then), his very own fishing pole and tackle box from Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri, some sparring pads and equipment from Mom and Dad that he hadn't expected, and many toys and games to delight a boy Kid Joey's age.  Of course Kid Joey wasn't an everyday little boy like most.  He and his sister Ro were very, very special.
That meant that the very best present was yet to come, after all the party was cleaned up, and all the family and their closest friends were gathered around the kitchen table for a very important family meeting.


The Very Important Family Meeting


Ro knew this family meeting was important, because Nana Terri had told her to go and get her journal and write down everything she heard at the meeting.  Something big was going down, right here, right now, she thought, sitting down at the table next to Kid Joey, and opening her journal to the next blank page. 
She'd brought two pens with her to the table, just to make sure she didn't have to stop for anything silly like running out of ink. 


With Mom at one end of the table and Dad at the other, with all their best friends and loved ones sitting in between, RoJo and their family and friends joined hands. 
"Tonight is a very special night, Joey," Mom said, and as everyone held hands, feeling magical sparkles showering over them, a warm breeze began to blow in a circle all around the table and everyone sitting at it.
Once the breeze had picked up into a regular whirlwind all around the table full of loved ones, Mom and Dad smiled.  "It's sort of like a magical, protective hurricane, circling us, keeping meanies out, and letting niceies in," Dad said.  We don't all need to keeping holding hands; with all the love and magic in this room the whirlwind will last forever." 

 "There are lots of family stories you'll hear tonight.  Everyone at this table has a magical power, including you.  You know about some, but not all.  So you will find out everything tonight," Mom said.
Kid Joey looked around the table, his eyes wide.  "Everyone is magic?"
All the smiling faces agreed with what Mom had said, and Kid Joey's jaw dropped a little.  "I only knew about," he looked over at Grandma Crystal, who nodded that it was okay for him to speak. 
"You can talk about everything at this table, Jo.  Everyone here knows all the secrets – except you, and after tonight you will be an official member of the team as well," Grandma Crystal said. 
"Team?" Kid Joey said, looking over at his sister, wondering if she too was on it, whatever kind of team it was. 
"From now on, you will be Jo, because you are not exactly a kid anymore.  As a human person, you are, but as a magical being, you are coming into your powers, and it's time for you to learn all about them and how to use them properly," Dad said. 
"Wow!  What kind of powers do I have?" Kid Joey, er, Jo asked, looking around the table at everyone. 
"You are very talented with anything that has wheels, we've noticed, Jo, and so you've been instilled with the power of transportation," Mom said. 
"I can drive now?  I don't think I can reach the pedals!" Jo said. 
All the grownups, whether human or other, chuckled, and Gramps Blaze said, "It will take you time to learn everything you need to know.  Your powers are just coming alive within you, so you have to train to be able to use them well and safely. That's why we are all around this table tonight – to let you know that you have a lot to learn, and that we are all here to help you." 
"How can I drive a car if I can't see over the wheel?  Somebody could get hurt," Jo said a little worry on his face. 
"No need to worry about that right now; you'll learn everything you need to know as the time comes.  But tonight, there's a lot for you to learn about every person at this table.  So listen up.  Ro, you ready to write?" Dad said. 
Ro nodded, already having written a couple of things in her own journal, but Grandma Crystal said, "oh no, Ro, that will never do.  These aren't stories just about you; this is about the whole family and all of our magical friends and doings. We need a very special family journal, and since you seem to be the story keeper, it should be a book that you will love to write in." 
Inside the crystal ball before Grandma Crystal, the magical fog swirled, and gradually something took shape – a beautiful dark purple journal with wisteria flowers on the front (purple, Ro's favorite color), and a beautiful pen with wisteria flowers on it as well.  A moment later the very real book and the pen lay before Ro on the table. 
Ro gasped, her eyes wide with shock, catching a smug smile on Grandma Crystal's face.  Ro asked her, "Did you do that?" Grandma Crystal's nod astonished Ro and Jo. 
Jo said, "I didn't know you could make things with the crystal ball!"
Grandma Crystal just kept smiling, and Ro turned to the first light purple page of the book, pen all ready to write. 


Before the grownups could go on, Jo complained a little: "My powers don't seem so special.  Anyone can learn to drive a car or a boat or a plane," he said, his disappointed face propped on his fists, his elbows on the table. 
"But not everyone can make a car fly, or a plane pull a water skier," said Gramps Blaze. 
Jo's eyebrows raised up in surprise.  "Seriously?"
"Seriously!" Everyone said, smiling, even Ro, so he knew they weren't messing with him. 
"Awesome!" he said, and then settled back into his chair to hear all the stories that were coming his way. 



Mom and Dad's Tale



Dad stood at his place at the table, looked over at Mom and smiled, still thinking about what he would say about their family. 
"I was the first one to actually see both of you, when you were first born in the hospital.  You were each beautiful babies, and you put such a beautiful smile on Mom's face; you brightened our world.  We became a family of three, Ro, when you were born, then four, with Jo, then five when we adopted Brie and at last six when we adopted Kato. 
Brie and Kato yipped, their tails wagging, when they heard their names mentioned.  Ro and Jo petted Kato, sitting between them, and Mom petted Brie, who then lay back down between Dad and Mom's chairs.
"We were concerned with making a home for you where you could be safe, happy children while we taught you what you would need to go out into the world, make friends, go to school, and learn what you needed to know to have families of your own. 
"You have been special to us from the moment you came into the world.  You were our babies, and real life proof of Mom's and my love – our own personal miracles. We knew you would be coming into special powers, developing special skills, and that they would be magical. 
"You didn’t always like the lessons we taught you – that life wasn't always about you and you wouldn't always get your way, that tempers had to be controlled, that you wouldn't always love the foods that were good for you but would have to eat them anyway, that there was a certain order to life's routines and that sometimes the toys and games had to be set aside to brush teeth, do homework, take baths, sweep floors, feed dogs, make beds, and other sort of boring chores that are all part of life.  But you learned, and got used to the routines, and here we are. 
"You have grown up a lot in the past few years, not to mention the last few minutes, and by the end of this night you will be far more mature and responsible than the little kids who celebrated at a birthday party this afternoon." 
Dad leaned across the table and kissed Ro and Jo's faces, and then sat back down next to Mom, waiting for her to collect her thoughts and tell her side of things. 
She didn't have all that much to say, because Dad had said most of it, but she did say, "Tonight it's all about the powers and the very special beings who wield them, including you, Ro and Jo! 
Ro and Jo went around the table to their mother and hugged her, and as Joe leaned across Brie to get at his mom, Brie, lying between Mom and Dad, licked Jo's elbow.
Then Ro and Jo hugged their dad, and he hugged them back so big that he lifted them both, one in each arm, clear off the floor! 
Once Ro and Jo returned to their seats they waited patiently for the next tale to begin.


Grandma Crystal and Her Amazing Surprise




Grandma Crystal unveiled the crystal ball as if it were common knowledge, to Jo's astonishment.  He looked around the room and found that no one shared his surprise; apparently everyone knew about the crystal ball - and he'd been so good at not saying a word. 
Grandma Crystal smiled.  "I know you never said anything to anyone about the ball, Jo.  Everyone knew about it all along.  But with each new member of the family, comes training and tests.  Your first test was to remain silent about what you knew, and you did a fine job of that.  And it's a good thing you proved that we can all trust you.  Because even though everyone in the family, including our magical friends, knows about the ball, it is still a magical device and meanies want it to use for their mean tricks. 
"Magical beings need to always be careful, especially little boys with important secrets.
"You will be learning how to use the crystal ball for real.  And by that I mean, that you will learn how to find objects, people, and creatures that are lost or hidden from you, and you will learn all about the ball itself.  When it's time, I will be in charge of your crystal ball training.  We will have fun!  It's powerful and will lead to adventure for us!  For all of us! 
Like right now, I am about to use it to give you a very special gift, Jo, for your birthday.  But really, it's a gift for both you and your sister, for I know there is someone you've missed very, very much." 
With that, Grandma Crystal, placed her hands on the crystal orb, rubbing it gently, warming it until the mists inside it cleared somewhat, and the children could see a face. 
"Poppy!" Ro called out, joy on her face as she leaned toward the ball, along with Jo whose mouth fell open in surprise.  They watched the face they loved so much push out of the ball, and then Poppy's whole body followed.  There he stood on the kitchen table smiling down at his grandchildren! 
He held his hands out, and Ro and Jo each grabbed one.  They held on tight as Poppy stepped down off the table onto Jo's chair, then onto the floor between them and pulled them into his arms for a whopper of a hug. 
"How are you guys?  I've been keeping an eye on you!"
"We missed you, Poppy!" Ro whispered in his ear at the same time Jo whispered, "What's heaven like?  Are there angels?"
Poppy laughed, still hugging the children tight.  "Of course there are angels!  And all kinds of relatives and friends who I can hang around with all day and all night and talk and have fun because no one needs sleep in heaven. 
"But most of the time I watch you.  Every little thing you do!  And I'm glad that you are growing up and making friends and learning lots of stuff in school, and that you're learning all kinds of special things about the family tonight, and what it means to be a part of it. 
"There will be happy times and sad times, and maybe even some scary times, but my friends the angels," (he looked at Ro), "your guardian angel Angela is one of my friends, by the way, Ro, and she says hello.  My friends the angels bless you and watch over you all the time.    
"I'm also glad to see Gramps Blaze is here.  He has magic too, and there is a project of mine that he will be helping with, something I'd started to plan but didn't have a chance to finish."
Poppy, with the children clinging to him like white clings to rice, sort of floated over to the bookshelf, and pulled out a big book, whose pages he flipped through until he came to some papers.  He took the papers out and crossed the room to Gramps Blaze.  "These are for you.  You can make this happen better than anyone else, and faster than anyone else.  They will be needing it right away," Poppy said, and Gramps Blaze nodded, not even looking to see what the papers were.
"It will be built tomorrow," he said.
Poppy laid a hand on Gramps Blaze's shoulder and smiled.  "You're all right, McRob," he said, and Gramps Blaze stood up to shake hands, then sat back down while Poppy crossed back to the table and sat down on it, Ro and Jo flanking him, hugging him still.
"I'm thinking there will be a surprise for you tomorrow, but that's later.  There's other stuff for you to learn tonight.  Other stories to hear.
"It takes a lot of energy for me to be here like this – to form a body around my spirit.  I won't be able to do it often, make it so you can see and touch me.  But you can send your thoughts to me through the crystal ball if they're really important. 
"I have to go back to heaven now, but I will watch down tonight, and for always.  I love you both very, very much.  And I'm very proud of you.  You have a lot to learn, but you are already good people.  Be brave. We are all here to help you," Poppy said, nodding at each person all around the room.  Then he hugged them, and began to fade into a mist that was sucked back into the crystal ball, where his face remained, looking out at everyone gathered in the room with Ro and Jo.   
Grandma Crystal smiled in at Poppy, her fingertips on the ball, which felt warm to her – warm with Poppy's love.  She looked up at the children's happy faces, still radiant from the time spent with the grandfather they'd so desperately missed, and smiled at them. 
"The crystal ball will help you learn about your family members from long ago, and also can take you places both around the world and in space – and also back in time. 
"You will have adventures and go on quests and the crystal ball will be a big help to you." 
Ro and Jo watched as Grandma Crystal sat back down and waited to see who would be next to tell their story. 


Ro Figures Out Her Power



They didn't have long to wait, because Nana Terri stood up at her place at the table.  She looked over at Ro and smiled.  It looked like she was thinking really hard, her face was so serious. 
"What's going on?" Jo asked, his eyes moving between his sister and his grandmother. 
"Got it," Nana Terri said to Ro, then grinned.  "What's my power?" she said to Ro, who nodded, smiling and very excited. 
"I can think my thoughts to everybody!" Ro's voice said inside Jo's head.  He looked between Ro and Nana Terri, and Nana Terri smiled, nodding that it was true!
"Wow!" he said, and everyone chuckled, not in a making-fun kind of a way, but in a we-know-because-we-were-little-like-you-once kind of way. 
"This is gonna be fun!" Ro thought to everyone, including Jo.  Then she thought about ways it would be fun – like when talking wasn't allowed – in school, at the library, at the movies, in the car when Daddy listened to music loud, on the school bus when it was loud, or even when people were far away.  She wouldn't need to use Mom or Dad's phone or Skype! 
"Can I talk to Poppy in heaven?" she thought to everyone. 
Mom thought back:  "If it's very important, and you might have to use the crystal ball.  It's sort of like WIFI to get on the Internet.  Get it?"
"Got it." 
She looked at the crystal ball and saw that Poppy's face was still there, smiling and nodding. 
She blew him a kiss.

Nana Terri and Native American Medicine




"Okay, now that we have Ro's powers all figured out, let me tell you about mine.  You all know who the Native Americans are, right?"
There were nods all around the table from everyone. 
Well, I – we, she looked at Ro and Jo – are related to a tribe of Native Americans called the Oneidas. 
Native Americans call their magic "medicine," and they draw on the magic of nature for their powers. 
"The Native Americans believe all animals, birds, people, trees, plants, the earth, the sky, other planets, stars, and the moon, even rocks and dirt have souls or spirits, and that everything in nature has magic and mystery.  Understand so far?" 
Ro and Jo nodded and Nana Terri smiled. 

Ro scribbled all the information down into her journal, thinking that she had a lot of reminders for later conversations and lessons from her grandparents.  Good, she thought.  She loved hearing family legends, and learning all about the people she loved most in the world. 
"To answer your question the rest of the way, my powers are protective.
"My ancestor, whom I call Grandmother Oni, can sense omens, or signs, both good and bad and signals me when something is happening or about to happen in the spirit world.  Sometimes it can be a happy, fun thing like a birthday coming up, or life and death like someone needs to stay off of a certain road to avoid a serious car accident.  Or someone's sad and needs a friend to talk to, or someone's celebrating and can't wait to tell me.  Grandmother Oni sends thoughts, or feelings to me from inside my heart, and I do whatever is needed to warn or help celebrate, or whatever." 
Ro nodded, writing, writing, ever writing. 
Nana Terri, her large medicine pouch draped across her chest, reached into that pouch and drew out several small medicine bags, that hung from long leather strings called thongs. She came over to Ro and Jo and placed bags around each of their necks.  Then she slowly made her way around the rest of the room, and sought out all the rest of those who would soon officially make up Team RoJo, and each person or creature who made up their back up team, and gave each one a medicine pouch of their own. 
As Nana Terri placed the last one over the head of Sir WHIP, who had shrunken himself down for the blessing, Ro's voice came from behind her. 
"They all have special herbs to protect the person wearing them, right?"
"Right," Nana Terri said, realizing that Ro had not just been researching and writing about crystal balls and wizards, but about Native American holy beliefs and magic as well.  She smiled, hugging her granddaughter.  When it's time for your spirit quest, we will talk about smudges and other blessings." Nana Terri said.  "All the little pouches I gave out tonight are blessed, Grandmother Oni's powers are still in the stones and herbs I've placed in each medicine pouch for each of your team and all your loved ones."
"You even got Gary Gargoyle and Kato," Ro noticed. 
"Every one of you.  Because I love you, and want you to always be safe and loved. 
Ro thought about that, and smiled, nodding.  "I love you too, Nana Terri. 
"Me too!" said Jo. 


Nana Terri returned to her place at the table, and smiled. 
"Medicine pouches are only the beginning of the protection from Native American medicine. 
"You see, Mother Earth and Father Sun offer you everything you need to grow strong and powerful all on your own.  All you need is the help of Nature.
"Mother Earth provides food and shelter, water to quench your thirst; Father Sun provides warmth and energy.  You will be learning so much about how live and survive in the next few days.
"Pay close attention to everyone around you, Ro and Jo, everyone.  We all have bits and pieces of your puzzle, and we are all here to help you along your path.  What you learn in the next few days will help you all the rest of your lives, with all your adventures."
Nana Terri gazed down at Ro, writing it all down in her journal, and smiled.  "Get it all down, love, and keep the book safe for your own children, and theirs, and all the generations to come.  It's our book of family.  It's our book of love." 


Nana Terri has a Special Surprise for Ro




As we have seen, not all the surprises were for just Jo that night, even though it was his birthday.  He and Ro were finding out that Nana Terri was full of all sorts of surprises, and Ro realized that nothing was as it had seemed when she was little Princess Rosie.  No one had actually lied to her, but there was more to almost every single story.  There were parts that only the grownups knew, that she wouldn't have been able to get her head around when she was that little. 
But she was older now, and learning a whole big lot from those grownups tonight, she thought.  They were trusting her with all the secrets.  They were letting her know that she was growing up, getting to be a big girl who could share in the secret and complicated world of adults. 
That made Ro smile, proud of herself for gaining their trust.  Especially gaining the trust of these grownups, who were so powerful - so magical.

Ro listened up, having been lost in her thoughts for a moment, but now Nana Terri continued.  There's more, Ro realized. 
Nana Terri smiled at Ro.  "Do you remember when you used to play at being a princess when you were very little?" 
Ro nodded, blushing a little, a bit embarrassed by her childish games that seemed to have played out so long ago. 
"Well, my dear, while the fancy dresses and crown were little girl dress-up stuff, the magical parts of the story were true.  There really were magic pink spoons to stir flavor potions into your milk, Early and Shirley Mermaids really do live in the river where Mom and Dad took you to swim when you were a child, and you really did fly with Sammy Seagull on the back of Joey Owl.  Only, your best pal Joey Owl is not really who he appeared to be at the time." 
Nana Rose stood and walked over to the window and opened it.  A moment later an old friend hopped onto her shoulder, and sat there proudly as Nana Rose returned to her seat at the table. 
"Joey Owl!!" Ro squealed, delighted.  She had been terrified when they moved from Boothwyn that she would lose touch with her treasured friend. 
The owl on Nana Rose's shoulder nodded at his princess, and even though beaks cannot create a smile, he was smiling inside his heart, so happy he was to visit with his old friend. 
"As you know him, Ro, yes," Nana Terri said.  "But there is a story behind his name that you should learn.  You see, when you were very little, your home seemed as large as a palace to you, as all homes seem to all children when they are very small.  Just as moms and dads seem powerful like queens and kings, and trees at the back of yards seem like woods, and some even seem haunted to the very young.  Look into the crystal ball, again, and learn the grown up version of what happened, Nana Terri invited the children, who propped up on their knees and peered into the mysterious crystal orb, where they no longer saw Poppy's face, but knew he was there, because he'd promised he would be.  He was just getting out of the way for another story. 

A younger Nana Terri nuzzled Joey Owl, her personal guard that her mother, Nana Rose had charged with keeping her safe and sound, who listened to his friend (to say owner would be incorrect, because no one really owns an animal, they stay with us out of loyalty) and nodded in agreement with what she was saying.  "My dear friend, I need a favor from you.  My granddaughter is beginning to explore her surroundings, and will be in need of protection and company.  She's been pretending to be a princess, as you may have noticed, so that will leave you a way to become her friend.  For every princess needs a magical owl to guide and protect her, right? A royal guard and teacher to help her learn the royal ropes?"  She will need to learn boundaries, and many important rules, especially the one about not speaking to strangers.  And because she's already learning that one very well, we have to find a way to make her comfortable with you, my dear friend." 
"Perhaps if I take a name she is familiar with already - a name from the family.  Joseph, maybe?" 
"Of course, the name of her father!  She will feel close to you because of that alone." 


The images in the crystal ball became swirled in hazy mist, and Nana Terri continued from her seat across the table.  "Of course, eventually your brother was born and was also named Joseph and three Josephs in the same household got a little confusing."
"His name isn't really Joey Owl?" Ro asked.
"No. Watch."

The ball cleared up, and a very strong looking lady sat at a table covered with rolled up papers called scrolls.  She read one or two as she wrote upon another, and she was surrounded by owls. 
"That lady," Nana Rose said, "Is the goddess Athena.  The owl sitting on her shoulder is Bellerophon Euclid Nicodemus, Senior, father of the owl who perches on Nana Terri's should across from you.  His son, Bellerophon Euclid Nicodemus Jr, is the very owl whom you grew up with, who guided you and protected you when you were a tiny girl." 
"You must be very, very old, Bell…" Ro said softly, getting stuck on the long name, especially since she was amazed by what she'd just learned.  He nodded. 
"My years are beyond counting, young friend.  That can be a problem when one's lineage (that means his family) goes all the way back to the times of gods and goddesses."   
"Goddess?" Ro's eyes looked up from her frantic journaling.  Then she tilted her head and asked, "How do you spell Bell…Bell…"
"B-e-l-l-e-r-o-p-h-o-n E-u-c-l-i-d N-i-c-o-d-e-m-u-s," Nana Terri spelled out the whole name for her granddaughter, and added, "Junior," which meant that he'd been named after his father.  Once Ro had written all that down in her journal she noticed something interesting.   
"The first letters of his name spell BEN," she said. 
Nana Rose smiled.  "That's exactly what I noticed, so many years ago, and he allowed me to call him by that nickname."
"Then, if he already had an easy name to be called, why did he tell me his name was Joey?"
"It was a quick choice that I didn't think through, my dear," BEN Owl said, softly.  "I used a name that you were at ease with, that you wouldn't fear, that would make us close right away.  The name of your daddy and, later, your brother.  Though I must admit, it was a silly choice, and it made things confusing almost right away." 
Ro smiled.  "I loved you from the start, Joey Ow…BEN Owl.  I would have loved you no matter what your name was." 
BEN Owl flew across the table and landed on Ro's shoulder and nuzzled her face with his own for the first time in over two years.  "I am very, very pleased that you are becoming old enough to hear the true stories, Princess," he said softly in her ear, calling her princess for old time's sake. 
Nana Terri continued with the telling of the first tale.  "When you were beginning to play about the outside of your 'palace' and began wandering towards the 'woods,' Mom became concerned that you would wander out of sight, or perhaps become injured or that you would run into strangers up to no good.
At that point the crystal ball took up the story again, like a movie from the past.

In the trees behind the house that Ro lived in when she was just starting to walk, the trees she called the Royal Woods, BEN Owl arrived, having agreed to help Nana Terri.  And that meant that his mother and father arrived there to live as well, because BEN Owl was still very young, at least in magic owl years.  They landed in the trees in "Rosieland," very tired after their long journey from their home on Knight Island.

Ro smiled as she wrote about everything the crystal ball revealed, remembering all the adventures she'd had when she was very little with Joey Owl (BEN Owl).  The name didn't change anything even a little bit.  She loved him to this day, and rubbed her cheek on his thick feathers as she finished writing the last of Nana Terri's words and turned the page in the family journal.  She was already about halfway through the book.  She would fill the rest of it before the morning. 

"Who is Athena?" Ro asked, and BEN Owl answered.  "Athena is a Greek goddess of reason, intelligence, arts, and the written word. The city of Athens, in Greece, was named after her.  She was very brave in fights, but only fought in battles in which she was called upon to defend her home from outside enemies that threatened it.  She was the goddess in charge of the city, handcraft, and farming.  She invented many things that made life easier for people or more pleasant, like the bridle which made it much easier to tame horses for riding.  She is responsible for musical instruments like the trumpet and the flute.  She invented the pot, the rake, the plow, the yoke, the ship and the chariot. 
"She was her daddy's favorite child, and the only one who was allowed to use his weapons, even his thunderbolt!  That was a very special thing, let me tell you!
"Owls like me were often used as symbols to stand for Athena.  That makes me very proud, because I love Athena and always will.   I even flew into battles with her a few times.  And I will share those stories with you sometime." 
"Okay," Ro said, making a note in her journal to ask for Joey Ow…er…BEN Owl's stories.  Athena was smart and strong enough to be a soldier…wow! 

"You and BEN Owl were a good match-up, because he introduced you to many magical friends who you were young enough to automatically accept," Nana Terri said.  As if on cue, Gary Gargoyle winked at her from his place on the table beside her, and she winked back, thinking of the day she'd first met him, and all the lessons she'd learned from him about ugly not being scary, and that not all monsters were bad.  She wrote all that in her journal as her grandmother added to her knowledge about her family. 


Gramps Blaze Shows Off a Little




Of course Ro and Jo already knew Gramps Blaze was a magical man called a wizard.  So when it was his turn he gave them a little demonstration of his magic - by levitating (that means lifting up into the air using magic) everyone in the room, including himself and the rest of the magical beings, and spinning them around a bit while they were up near the ceiling.  He flipped Ro and Jo into somersaults, and, after forming the rest of the group into a circle about them, had Brie and Kato dance together like on Dancing with the Stars, in mid-air, to the dogs' complete surprise.  A waltz played in everyone's heads, and the dance that the dogs performed via Gramps Blaze was a graceful thing of beauty. Everyone clapped and cheered for the living, furry puppets that the wizard had chosen to help him demonstrate his powers. When Gramps Blaze released them from his spell, they barked, tails a-wag, happy to have been included in this evening of legends. 

Gramps Blaze, having finished with his demonstration, lowered himself and his loved ones back down, finally setting them gently back into their chairs, and bowed, sincerely humble, at their applause, smiling, happy to be one of the family.  
"You know, I may be a wizard with very special inherited powers, but there are many things I can share with you, and you guys have some tricks of your own to pull out of your hats.  There are a couple of things I plan to teach you.  Sometimes small creatures can help you in subtle ways that big creatures like dragons and gargoyles and wizards cannot. 
Sometimes, being small and going unnoticed can be an advantage.  I have many things to show you, that will happen during your training.  But tonight is mostly about legends and powers." 

"What about your legend, Gramps Blaze?  Before you and Nana Terri got together?"
"Well you know I went to school and got a lot of degrees from colleges, right?" Ro and Jo nodded at the same time.  They knew Gramps Blaze was a doctor, but in science - and math. 
"What's that class you are a doctor in?" 
Gramps Blaze smiled.  "I have doctorates in two different kinds of physics.   Plus five Master's Degrees.  But that's not my story, not my magical story, although learning as much as you can gives you powers too. 
While my educational background is not magical, one of the professors (that’s a fancy name for teachers in college) was and he had been one of my grade-school teachers.  He helped me when I was in college, because he remembered I'd been such a good student when I was in elementary school. 

As it turned out, my professor, was very powerful.  He kept track of me as I went through the rest of elementary school, middle school, and through all my classes in high school, watching my grades, seeing what I was good at, and also, trying to figure out if I had it in me to be his helper - his magical helper.
"My grade school teacher, who later became my college professor and mentor, was a grand wizard!
"He encouraged me to get doctorate degrees in physics, because that is the study of how the universe is put together.  And he also had me study biology, theology, chemistry, bio-chemistry, and the Latin language, and pushed me to get Master's Degrees in all of them.  I didn't understand why at the time, but when he revealed his secret to me, I figured it out. 
"My professor was training me to take over for him!  All the sciences that I took helped me to know the earth very well, about the atmosphere, about the animals on the earth, about the land, the seas, the plants.  Theology taught me all about spiritual matters, and how different people expressed that and what they believed in their hearts.  And Latin is the language that is used mostly in science writing.  It is helpful to know that language to be able to read the lessons written by our ancestors. 
"Now, you can go to school and learn of all this stuff yourselves, and I hope you will, because you can never know too much about the world and universe around you.  It's just plain interesting, too. 
"But what that wizard taught me, and what he instilled in me is all right here," Gramps Blaze said, tapping his head and his heart. 
"And the only one who can teach you the things I have here," he said, tapping again, "is me."
"I worked very hard, learning every scrap of information in my classes, I got all the degrees my professor suggested I get.  It was fun learning everything!  It was a lot of hard work, but when I graduated, I knew a whole lot of stuff that helped me with the magic the professor had been teaching me.
"Because the school work was only a small part of my education.  My professor spent those years, in every minute of our spare time, teaching me all the magic he could.  And on the day I received my final degree, he gave me a very, very special gift." 
Gramps Blaze lifted his arm into the air as if to catch something, and a bolt of lightning blazed, with a clap of thunder that made everyone jump, and the bolt of lightning that flashed in his hand, became a thin tree branch, sort of like a small cane, with a ball on the end that sort of looked like Grandma Crystal's crystal ball, but much smaller, maybe the size of a golf ball, and the ball glowed. And it glowed in all the colors of the rainbow, fading from one color into the next, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
"He told me where his very special hiding place was, and someday, when you've learned everything you need to know, I will maybe hand the wand down to you, when I'm even more ancient than I am now, and too decrepit to play around with magic anymore," he said, smiling, pulling their legs. 
Gramps Blaze let Ro and Jo each touch the wand, and they each jumped the second they did, because it felt sort of like one of those hand buzzers things you prank people with on April Fools' Day. 
"Wow," Jo said in an awed whisper.  "You must be really strong, Gramps Blaze, if you can hold that wand like that.  My whole hand is still tingling," the boy said, shaking his hand as if it had fallen asleep and he were trying to get the pins and needles out of it. 
Gramps Blaze smiled.  "It's a handful, alright.  But the professor taught me to tame its energies and make them work for me.  Sort of like you train a horse when you want to ride it.  And while this wand is very powerful, and holds a serious chunk of the powers of the universe, it is still only a tiny splinter of all the power there is."
Gramps Blaze turned and thrust the wand toward the ceiling, letting it fly up into the air, and in a clap of thunder and burst of lightning it vanished, leaving behind only a puff of white smoke.  The kids, (and everyone else in the room, for that matter, it was a very impressive feat) gasped at the power Gramps Blaze commanded. 
"When the professor handed me the wand, he fed all of his powers through it that almost set me on fire, the energy was so big.  It went into my brain, all the arteries, organs, bones, and muscles of my body. But more important the energy went into my soul.  On that miraculous day I became a wizard on the side of Good.  And I have been practicing white magic and battling evil on a number of different levels ever since. 
"And I'm going to teach you what you need to know to do the very same," Gramps Blaze assured the children, looking them right in the eyes, and then looking past them toward the rest of their family and friends, nodding, giving all of them the same assurance. 
"There are things they must know to be able to protect themselves, and carry out their various quests, one of which, possibly the most important one, is coming up very soon.  We have a lot of work to do," he said to everyone, then looking down at Ro and Jo, he said, "I have some tricks up my sleeve, so to speak, that will help you in your quests.  You will start training, physically, spiritually, and magically very, very soon." 


Nana Terri Fesses Up About Gary Gargoyle




As Gramps Blaze finished up, Nana Terri stood once again, having remembered a little more from the Princess Rosie days. 
"I also have the power to summon help when it's needed, like when you were having bad dreams and Gary Gargoyle showed up? Yeah, that was me."
"Oh no!" Ro said, clapping a hand to her forehead.  "You're not going to tell me his name really isn't Gary, are you?"
Nana Terri chuckled.  "Not this time, sweetie.  BEN Owl let me know what was going on, and I got in touch with Nana Rose and BEN Owl flew over to Paris to find Gary.  Well, actually his family.  He was very young when we tapped him.  I was surprised his family let him come, but they knew I was desperate to help you with all those horrid nightmares you were having.  And the rest is history. 
"Wait," Ro interrupted, not meaning to be rude, but confused about the story, for when she'd been little, it had unfolded in a different way for her.  "BEN Owl and I came upon Gary Gargoyle in the Royal Woods, not in Paris.  Paris is in France, right?" Ro said. "He told me he and his parents lived on a church in Rosieland." 
"Well, by the time you met him that was true, but originally his parents lived on a cathedral in Paris called Notre Dame.  When you were having trouble with your nightmares, I contacted them with my mind, and then BEN Owl went to them and asked if they would mind Gary living in Pennsylvania for at least a little while until your problem went away.  They agreed.  So you came across Gary in Rosieland, after his family gave him permission to journey here to the United States to help a princess in despair. 
"Also, you have to realize, that when people are very young children, their homes are the whole world to them.  Little kids don't realize how big the world is, that there are different countries.  Very little children think their street is the whole world.  So no matter where Gary lived, as far as you were concerned, when you were very little, he lived somewhere in Rosieland.  You understand?  The whole world was Rosieland when you were very little." 
"Oh, I see what you mean.  Like, different states, countries, planets aren't real for someone until they've learned about them." 
"Exactly, Ro.  You are one smart cookie, you are!" Nana Terri said. 
Ro smiled, proud of herself for being grown-up enough to figure out what big people meant. 
"You will have to tell me all about Paris sometime, Gary, okay?" she said to the ugly little gargoyle sitting on the table near her. 
"I would love to, Ro," Gary replied, and of course Ro wrote it all down in her journal.   


Sir WHIP's Modest – and Brief - Speech




With everyone else's powers revealed, the only one left to tell his story was Sir WHIP who sat beside Mrs. Levy, who was kindof a sidekick for the great, sparkly orange dragon and who'd given him a place to live. 
"Well, as you know, my real name is Winston Howard Ignatius Pendragon.  My bright scales protect me if I ever have to fight someone trying to hurt me or anyone I love. I can shoot huge, hot flames out of my nose hundreds of feet into the sky and scare the daylights out of the bad guys!  You wouldn't believe how fast they can run into hiding places.  And of course, as all of you know, some because I have given you rides, I can fly. Oh!  And I can shrink down really small, like this, or stretch out really, really big until I'm as big as a building.  That scares the daylights out of the meanies too! 
"That's it.  That's all my magical powers."

Jo's Fears




"Wow.  Everyone sure has a lot of magic going on," Jo said, looking a little freaked out.  "I don't know how to even use my powers, really, it's kind of scary." 

BEN Owl said, kind of quietly, but loud enough to be heard by everyone at the table, "Ro knows I made mistakes when I first began to get to know her.  And I wasn't really a baby owl, like she thought.  I was just pretending.  But I was just learning to live in the modern world, and how to behave in a tame woods and a palace that did not belong to a goddess. 
"But the first time I ever heard Athena use her father's lightning bolt to scare away meanies, it nearly scared the feathers off of me!  I hid in her helmet for three days!  She had one heck of a time getting me out so that she could wear her helmet into battle."  BEN Owl chuckled at the memory.  "If you could have seen me, Jo, you would have thought I was a chicken, not an owl!"
Everyone chuckled, including Jo, though his laugh was still a little nervous. 

Grandma Crystal chimed in: "Oh, if we're telling tales about goof-ups, how's this one?  I was a little girl, about your age, Jo, and I heard my mother calling me, and I knew it was bedtime.  I didn't want to go, so I tried to hide inside her crystal ball (it wasn't mine yet).  I was little and just learning about the thing, and I got stuck in there. 
Luckily, my mother knew I'd been up in her room where the crystal ball was and knelt beside the table and peeked in, finding me inside.  She got me out, but she also sent me to bed early all that week for pranking her. 

Mom piped up and said, "Oh my goodness!  The first time I ever used the protection whirlwind, Dad and I were having a picnic with some friends.  It was beginning to lightning and thunder, and our friends got scared, and I told everybody it was okay.  Dad and I had this great new power.  Well!  Right in the middle of Dad and I calling up the whirlwind to protect our friends, I sneezed and spun us all into the next neighborhood!  We all ended up in some kid's treehouse! 
Even Jo had to laugh at that one!  "That's hilarious Mom!" he said, and then Poppy's face appeared in the crystal ball again. 
"The first project I built was a little house for some of Santa's elves.  I was inside the little house, finishing up, kind of cramped in there, but everything was in place. 
"As I was getting ready to go, had my tools all packed up, I realized I forgot to frame in a door! 
"Grandma Crystal had to pass a chainsaw through the window to me so I could cut a door and get out! 
"Talk about embarrassing!  Santa and the elves talked about that goof-up for years.  Every Christmas Eve, they would stop and my house and joke about the Christmas when I built that little house for them – and forgot the door.  Santa has a really good memory, as we all know!"
Ro and Jo giggled, knowing very well that Santa remembered everything. 

Nana Terri, still smiling at Poppy's funny story, had one of her own.  "When I was training as a medicine woman, a shaman (that's another name for medicine man or medicine woman) gave me a magical arrow.  No matter what my target was, or how far I shot it, it would return to me when I called it using some magic words.  The first time I used it, I messed up the magic words, and it came back all right, but it shot me right in the butt!  I still have a stupid scar!" 
Ro clapped a hand to her mouth, giggling.  

Jo looked around the table.  "So Mom and Dad have the power to create a whirlwind to keep out meanies, Grandma Crystal, has power over the crystal ball, that lets us see into the past, and other stuff too, I have power to move things around,"
"And take apart and put together cars, boats, and planes after a lot of practice," Dad said. 
"Cool!" Jo said.  "I want to learn all about cars and boats and planes!"  Then Jo continued, "Gary Gargoyle is good at protecting us, especially Ro, and he flies too.  Were you scared the first time you flew, Gary?"
"Oh my yes!  Remember, I was learning to fly up at the top of a church roof!  It was very high, and I was very heavy, remember, made of stone.  I leapt off the roof and flew a little ways and went down like the stone that I am.  That very first time I cracked the sidewalk in front of the church and the caretaker had to patch it!  The next time I landed on a tree branch, and I was too heavy for it, and it broke and landed on Father Mulligan – a priest from the church!  He was not hurt, but it scared me.  Then one time I got caught in some wind and smacked into a tree, and it cracked me!  They had to cement me back together!  See, here's the scar."  Gary leaned back to show them the corner of his wing that had been broken off and cemented back on. 
"Did it hurt?" Ro asked, sorry for her friend. 
"Not really.  It was kind of cold, felt like they were shoveling wet sand on me. But then my wing was good as new before long.  And I started to fly better and better." 
"Was Father Mulligan mad at you?" Jo asked.
"No.  Priests are good at understanding.  It's part of their job." 
"And if you remember, Ro, I was still smacking into trees now and then, even after I first met you." 
"Yeah.  You were a funny sight, sometimes, flying around that woods.  Pretty clunky!" 
"It used to make me grumpy and sad, but now it makes me laugh," Gary Gargoyle said, and moved like he was crashing into a tree and sliding down its trunk. 
Joey laughed along with everyone else at the vision. 

And of course, there was Sir WHIP's contribution after everyone else's. 
"Well, there were at least three times that I can remember setting the little sofa on fire at Mrs. Levy's while trying to pop popcorn by breathing on the bowl; she still keeps a fire extinguisher handy in the basement because of me!
"And of course the grass in your back yard is still a different color where it grew in over that patch that I set on fire. 
"And then there was the time I almost melted the toilet with my fiery poop!" he said, and Jo smiled.  "I remember that!  Remember Kato ran in and flushed the toilet because you were too chicken?" 
"I seem to remember the chicken part being the other way around…" Sir WHIP said, tilting his head.  Sir WHIP had a whole collection of embarrassing stories to tell, and laughed as loudly as everyone else as he told them.  Confidence was not a dragon problem. 

With all the laughter going on, Jo was starting to feel a lot better, but he was still uneasy about using his powers, especially if there was something wrong, if someone was in trouble. 


Gramps Blaze's Lesson for Jo




Gramps Blaze could see his grandson was still troubled. 
"What makes you nervous, Jo?" he asked, and Joey shrugged.  "I don't know how to really drive a car, or a boat, or a plane.  It's scary." 
"Oh, is that all?  Nothing to be scared of.  Go get one of your Matchbox cars," Gramps Blaze smiled, and Joey ducked through the whirlwinds and left the table to get one of his brand new Matchbox cars from his birthday stash.  A moment later he was back at the table. 
"Okay, Jo, roll your car across the table to me," Gramps Blaze said, and Jo, with his fingertips, rolled the little orange Lamborghini to his grandfather. 
"Okay," Gramps Blaze said, "Now bring it back to you."
Jo stood up and leaned across the table to retrieve the car, but Gramps Blaze stopped him.  "No, not that way, dude.  Have a seat again.  Watch what I do."  With that, Gramps Blaze, using his pointer finger, turned it in the air above the car.  As he did that, the car turned around, all by itself, and then Gramps Blaze flicked his pointer finger forward, and the car sped across the table top back to Jo. 
"WOW!" Jo gasped, his eyes wide.  "That is so cool!" 
"You can do that," Gramps Blaze said simply. 
"No way!" Jo said, shaking his head, not believing. 
"Way," Gramps Blaze said.  "Give it a try." 
Jo shrugged, held his finger up over the car just as Gramps Blaze had.  Nothing at first, happened, but then, very slowly, the car moved over the tabletop, across Ro's journal and into her lap. 
"Hey!  You made me mess up that sentence!" she frowned, but then smiled, not really minding, knowing her brother was just learning about his power.  "That's really, really cool!"
"Now bring it to you from Ro's lap," Gramps Blaze said.
"There's nothing for it to roll on," Jo said, confused. 
"Remember, transportation isn't just about driving cars, but floating and flying as well," Grandma Crystal said softly. 
Joey raised his finger, pointed toward the little car in Ro's lap, and slowly it rose into the air before her face!
Awesome!  Jo shouted, forgetting himself, and clapping in excitement, which of course sent the little car flying into the whirlwind, which caught it up and spun it around the whole kitchen, then flung it out where it banged against the wall, leaving a dent in the paint. 
Jo said, "oh no!" Looking at Mom and Dad to see if he was in trouble. 
"It's okay, everybody messes up when they're first learning their powers," Gramps Blaze said, smiling, and Mom and Dad nodded along.  A moment later everyone at the table nodded too, in agreement. 
"You messed up too, Gramps Blaze?"
"When I was working on telekinesis, which is what we just did with the little car – move it with our minds – I started with a train set I got for Christmas one year.  I wanted it to move faster and faster on its track.  I had it going so fast, the wheels were smoking, and then finally, it took off and flew!  It went around the whole room a bunch of times until my mom came in to see what the hubbub was.  I was afraid she'd be mad, and lost my concentration – the train sailed right into the Christmas tree, and almost knocked it over!  It looked like a choo-choo garland hanging there in the middle of the branches full of balls and tinsel."
Jo laughed.  "Did you get in trouble?"
"Not really.  I wasn't allowed to use my powers inside the house for a while, until I got them under control, but that was cool.  I just took my trains outside.  They didn't even need to be on the track anymore.  I could run them anywhere." 
"Cool!" Jo and Ro said at the same time. 


Time to Close the Book of Love and Go to Bed




Mom smiled over at her kids, and said, "Okay, it's getting really late.  I think it's getting to be time for bed, powers or not."
"Aw," Ro and Jo whined in unison. 
"Nope.  It's time.  I'm getting tired too," Dad said, yawning.  "It's after midnight!"
"No hiding in the crystal ball!" Grandma Crystal said, laughing.   

Before they got up from the table, Ro said, "Do Mimi and Poppop have magical powers?" 
"Of course they do!  And they will be back from their vacation tomorrow.  They said they have a special present for you, and their story as well, so off to bed now, and get a good night's sleep so you'll be all ready for Mimi and Poppop."


Jo and Ro said their goodnights to everyone, and went to their rooms, Gary following Ro and Sir WHIP following Jo (they had moved his house into Jo's room, since in all fairness he was Jo's best buddy along with Kato.  Kato ran back and forth between the kids' rooms, trying to decide who he wanted a belly rub from that night.  Ro was ready for bed first and called him, so off he ran and leapt onto her bed.  He would nod off the next night in Jo's room. 
Or maybe he should wait until Jo got his powers under control.  Kato was a smart dog and could just imagine hiding under Jo's bed while his toys were all flying around his room. 
Yeah.  He'd be hanging out with Ro for a while, he supposed.  Sir WHIP almost setting his tail on fire was all the magic he could handle for now. 


Mimi & Poppop's Super Cool Power is Revealed




Just as promised, Mimi and Poppop showed up the very next morning after the big important family meeting all about powers the night before. 
Everyone was back at the kitchen table just like before, only the leaf had been put in the table to make it a little bigger.  In front of each person or being, there was a little gift, except for Jo.  In front of him there was a little gift like everyone else's, but there were three more big gifts, as well, for his birthday. 
Mimi and Poppop had been in the Keys, little islands that are part of the state of Florida.  They liked the Keys, and spent many of their vacations there. 
As it turned out, they liked the Keys so much because being surrounded by the ocean was a good thing for Mimi and Poppop.  It all had to do with their powers. 
"Open your birthday presents, first, Jo," Mimi said, everyone else at the table agreeing. 
Jo tore away the cool sparkly orange wrapping paper and found Matchbox cars, or course, but they were in a box with something else.  "It's some kind of clothes…" he said, lifting the one-piece suit out of the box.  It was made out of a heavy cloth that felt kind of like his swim shoes, and it was really cool looking – black with orange lightning bolts up the sides. 
"It's a skin-diving suit.  A very, very special one, as a matter of fact," Poppop said, and Mimi took over.  "Because it's magical!"
"Magical?" Jo said, his eyes widening. 
"Yes," Poppop said.  "Magical." 
Mimi said, "When we were on the airplane on the way home, Ro and Jo, Grandma Crystal let us read the journal you wrote in last night.  She held the pages into the crystal ball, and the crystal ball made them show inside our cell phones." 
Ro and Jo gasped, surprised. 
"You can do that?" Ro asked Grandma Crystal, who nodded, and then Mimi continued. 
"We read everything that everybody talked about last night, all the powers, and about how nervous you were, Jo," Poppop said.    
"We have our own story to add, and of course some goof-ups to add too," Mimi said, rolling her eyes, remembering some big mess-ups. 
"We both have the same power," Mimi said.  "It was bestowed upon us (that means given to us) by a witch doctor (that's sort of like a wizard or Native American Medicine Man) when we were in the Caribbean Sea on one of the islands there.  In the islands, the most important thing to the people there is the ocean.  It's a big part of their life.  They get a lot of their food from it, they swim in it, and it's a beautiful part of their world." 
Poppop continued the story.  "Having power over the ocean is a wonderful gift.  While we were skin diving near the witch doctor's house, getting ready to come ashore because there was a storm brewing, we saw his little girl, about your age, Ro, gathering clams at the water's edge.  She was almost done – she had a basket full of them, when there was a lightning bolt, and big clap of thunder, and a powerful gust of wind which created a huge wave that swept the little girl out into the ocean, past where she was allowed to swim.  Out where the ocean gets deep. 
"Mimi and I dove under the water and swam as quickly as we could, and found the little girl who was having a very hard time swimming.  We grabbed her and let her get some air from our tanks, and when she was breathing okay and calmer, we took her into shore, and handed her to her very relieved father. 
"He was so grateful that we rescued his little girl from the giant wave, that he danced around us – a very special, magical dance – and when he was finished, he said that we would have special powers over water," said Poppop. 
Mimi said, "We can swim underwater now without needing tanks of air.  We can breathe underwater just like fishes do.  Also, we know every single inch of the ocean floors and river and lake beds.  All over the earth.  It just appeared there in our minds that day on the beach with the witch doctor. 
Poppop added, "Also, we can make giant waves, and we can fill rain clouds with water."  he looked over at Jo.  "Remember the time Sir WHIP accidentally set the mailbox on fire when he sneezed and it suddenly rained?  That was Mimi." 
Mimi said, "Remember that time you washed the car and when it came time to rinse it, it rained?  That was Poppop." 
Poppop said, "Remember the time we were hiking in the park and you were really thirsty, Ro?  Remember Mimi told you to stand under a big leaf hanging down from its tree and there was a little rain shower just above the tree and the drops ran down the leaf right into your mouth like a fountain?  Mimi made that shower happen." 
"That was cool, because I forgot my water bottle, and I was getting over a cold.  I thought the rain just happened.  I thought it was weird, though, that it only rained on that one tree." 
  "That's why.  Because you have weird, magical grandparents," Poppop said, and Mimi laughed. 

Ro and Jo both giggled at Poppop – he could be so silly sometimes! 
Jo said, "What about the mess-ups?" and that made Mimi laugh, just remembering some of the crazy things that happened when she and Poppop were learning how to use their powers.
"One time Mimi and I were getting ready to have a cookout with some of our friends, and there were a bunch of rain clouds in the sky over our house.  Our friends said we could make it another time, but I said I thought it might clear up any minute, thinking it was a perfect time to try out our new powers. 
"I was trying to gather up all the rain clouds in the sky around our house, smoosh them into one big one, and move them all out over the Delaware River, where a little rain wouldn't hurt anything.
"Well, it was working just fine, and Mimi and I were out in the yard with our friends, grilling away, when it started to get a little windy.  We didn't think anything about it until the wind blew the giant rain cloud that I'd sent out over the Delaware River, right back inland, where it ended up, guess where?" 
"Oh no!" Ro guessed.  "Over your house!" 
"It drenched us, our neighbors, and because it was so many clouds all squashed together, there was more than just a few rain showers.  Our cars almost floated away!" 
Before Ro and Jo had gotten over the bout of laughter from Mimi & Poppop's first story, Mimi started a second. 
"Then there was that time we were on the cruise and your grandfather here," she patted Poppop's shoulder, "thought it would be fun to make a whirlpool, like the one Willie Wonka's boat got spun around in.  It was kind of cool at first, spinning around out there in the middle of the ocean, but then people started getting seasick, and there was a huge barf-o-rama on the afterdeck.  Fun, right, hon?"
"Hey!  I cleaned it all up!  I just made it rain until everybody and everything on the deck was all washed down!" 
"We were the talk of the cruise for the rest of the week," Mimi said, laughing, then she kissed Poppop on the cheek, letting him know she was just teasing him.  Everybody goofs, Jo and Ro thought.  Even grandparents and parents. 
"What about that time you were afraid to dive off that cliff, and decided to let the waterfall carry you down?"  Poppop teased right back. 
Mimi rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that would be a big goof for me!"  She looked at Ro and Jo, and smiled.  "I felt the water all around me, and it tickled.  I got laughing so hard I coughed, and it messed up the flow of the waterfall, and I dropped the last ten feet – belly flopped into the water.  And then I saw a whole school of clown fishes laughing at me!" 
"Clown fishes – like Nemo?" Jo asked. 
"His relatives, I'm sure," Mimi said. 
"You didn't have to be a clown fish to think Mimi flopping into the water like one of those klutzy pelicans was funny.  It was hilarious!"  Poppop said, laughing. 
"Oh, and remember the time we wanted to wash down the guy's boat who took us out skin diving, and we washed his cooler and fishing gear overboard?" Mimi said.
"Well, we got it all back for him.  But the look on his face was priceless!"  Poppop said, sharing the memory. 
"Oh!  And remember the time we tried to fill that cloud with rain when we were out on the boat, because we wanted a fresh water shower to get the sea salt off, and when you gathered the water, a school of fish from the river you tapped got up in the cloud?  It looked like an aquarium up in the sky!"  Poppop said. 
"Yeah!  I had a heck of a time getting the cloud lined up over the river so the fish would get back to their homes," Mimi continued. 
Then Mimi and Poppop looked around the table.  Their eyes lighted on Sir WHIP, and they smiled.  Poppop said, "Looks like our powers can fix your goof-ups, Sir WHIP!"  The giant, sparkly-orange dragon smiled, nodding. 
Mimi said, "That's what it's all about.  Everybody using their powers together to help everyone else." 
"Speaking of which, Jo," Poppop said, "we put a magic spell on that diving suit so you can swim underwater without air tanks."
Mimi said to Ro and then everyone around the table.  "There's a suit for you too, Ro.  Most of the rest of you fly over water, except for Kato.  Getting a suit made for a dog, gargoyle, owl or especially a dragon would be mostly impossible, we can just put the spells directly on you guys."
Team RoJo members smiled and nodded, all agreeing that Mimi and Poppop had pretty cool powers and hoped they would get a chance to swim underwater someday. 
Poppop looked over at Ro and Jo.  "I hear your going to be training very soon." 
"Yeah!  I can't wait to start using my powers!" Jo said.  I can make stuff float and fly!" 
"I heard!" Mimi said, truly excited for him.  "And Ro, I hear you can send thoughts from your head right into someone else's!" 
Yep, Ro answered with her mind. 
"That's so cool!" Mimi said, clapping. 

Ro and Jo sat at the table and had an early lunch with all their magical family and magical friends, demonstrated their powers to everyone, laughing, stuffing their faces with a table full of food, all kinds, something for each and every person. 
When everyone was finished with the food, Mimi and Poppop washed the dishes – with a squirt of soap, and a twirl of their fingers.  A teeny weeny little raincloud appeared over the sink and washed down everything within it.  Then Jo said, "I can put all the dishes in the drainer without even leaving my chair!" 
He wiggled his fingers this way and that, and Gramps Blaze smiled as his grandson gently set each dish in the drainer, and then with a twitch of his finger, the sink stopper rose into the air, then dropped into the caddy on the counter top next to the sponge. 
"I told you not to worry!" Gramps Blaze said, and ruffled Jo's hair.  "You didn't even break one dish!  Good job!" 


Now that Mimi and Poppop have arrived, Gramps Blaze can get busy on Poppy's surprise!  Come back next weekend and join Ro and Jo and all their family and friends to see what in the magical world it could be!