Today, Kay Takeuchi is doing something she's never been able to do before: Teaching her twin grandsons to make cranberries and cornbread for their family's holiday feast.
Since they were babies, twins Max and Lucas Bourdreau have lived with their mother in Santiago, Chile. Their father, Takeuchi's son, doesn't live in the area and hasn't been involved with the family. Takeuchi and her husband, Bob, have always kept in touch with the boys and their mother, Paz Bourdreau, but Kay Takeuchi missed having them nearby, or at least in the same country.
This Thanksgiving, though, Kay Takeuchi is thankful for a full house of her international family.
"I'm thankful because I have my grandsons living with us," she said. "I taught school for 38 years and always wanted grandchildren."
The twins and their mother are taking at least a year to do a culture exchange, immersing themselves in American culture while living with the Takeuchis in West Lodi.
Max and Lucas Bourdreau, 10, started fourth grade at Reese Elementary School at the beginning of the school year. Paz Bourdreau, who taught elementary school and art in Chile, is hoping to teach in Lodi while she is here.
The Bourdreaus lived with the Takeuchis for a short time when they were 5. They learned English in their all-boy private school in Santiago and by staying in contact with their American grandparents, but Takeuchi says the boys' English has improved greatly in just a few months.
The friendly boys with big smiles, who talk quickly to each other in Spanish, are enjoying life in Lodi.
They stay busy with sports, like team soccer, swimming, baseball and taekwondo. They look forward to having friends over to play on Fridays.
One thing they like about Lodi is the small town feel — and the quiet.
"It doesn't have a lot of sounds," Lucas Bourdreau said, comparing Lodi and Santiago.
Kay Takeuchi is having fun teaching her grandsons more than the art of preparing Thanksgiving dinner.
"I get to share my talents with them," she said.
She is teaching them to play the piano, twirl the baton and they even learned to make pillows with the sewing machine.
Paz Bourdreau is thankful this time of year, too.
"I am thankful for Kay and Bob, who brought us here, to have extended family and kids who are so happy and adapting so well," she said.
Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.