Summer Highlights 2015

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 21st, 2015 30 Replies

It has been a busy summer and I have sure gotten behind in documenting it all! Sometimes I feel like if I don’t have an event to blog about it isn’t worth writing. Then I think about how lucky I am to get to live so close to Amara that I get to do so many non-events! It is this everyday stuff that is the most fun and that I will remember forever.

Amara dumping cold water on her head

Amara took swimming lessons again this summer and I got to take her to her final lesson. I hadn’t been with her to swim class this year and I was amazed at how much she has improved – especially her confidence at diving! She takes her lessons at a private home and students are invited to come and swim anytime the pool is open – forever! Adults are invited to join the kids in the pool, too! Fridays are her favorite day to go as the slide is on and it has ice cold water running down it which of course needs to be captured and poured on your head! I always get in the water but due to hard contacts, I don’t really swim much, besides someone has to take the pictures. We went swimming again last Friday and we are hoping to go at least one more time before school starts.

Amara and her inflated dolphin being hit by a wave

We’ve had fun at the beach with a bunch of our mom friends and kids from school. I think there were 25 kids there. The waves were big, the company and weather were perfect and we had a blast! Amara took the inflatable dolphin I bought her and while none of the kids could keep the thing upright, they had fun trying.

The students attending App Camp

Amara went to App Camp for a week at the University of California at Irvine. One of the Dads from Santiago is also a teacher at another school. He was able to make this App Camp available to Amara, Sophia and some other students as they had seats to fill. The students met at his school each morning at 7 AM and were bused to UCI and back at 5 PM for one week. Amara loved it – especially the cafeteria. We heard all about was the waffle bar and all the other amazing food! It is definitely where she would like to go to school. I was lucky; I got to take her to and from the bus a couple of times, and went with her Mom to pick her up the last day. When we got home and pulled into her driveway I asked, “So, who got the awards?” “Oh, I got one of them – for best user interface.” Kids! That should have been the first thing out of her mouth! Her parents were really proud!

Collage from the Tide Pool Condos musical

While Amara and Sophia were at App Camp Sophia’s sister Celia was busy attending the Visual and Performing Arts Summer Enrichment Program at Santiago. Jenna and I got to go and watch their presentation of “Tide Pool Condos: An Oceanography Musical”. Sophia was a blue tuna and it was wonderful! It is amazing what the teachers were able to do in such a short time and with so many students! I love that they did all their own scenery and costumes! They were all so proud.

Collage of Amara and our bag rooted plumerias.

Jenna, Amara and I spent a couple of days being gardeners! We are having fun “bag rooting” plumeria cuttings from my trees and some cuttings that we have gathered from friends and from the bad windstorm; they were lying on sidewalks everywhere. It is fun to have all three of us out there checking to see how many have rooted!

Amara commandeering Grampy's computer

We’ve had some fun sleepovers, too this summer that included watching movies, making pancakes and trying to take over Grandpa’s computer to teach him Paint! We even went out for dinner one evening, which is something we seldom do. That is probably why it was so special.

Amara and Grampy at Red Robin

Jenna and Justin’s birthdays are only a couple of weeks apart and Jenna’s fell the week before our friends left so this year we combined the birthdays and asked Matthew, Mo and the girls to join us in eating cake! The girls were having a blast being crazy.

Birthday party pictures

School starts in less than 2 weeks. Amara starts 6th grade which means being in the back building and changing classes for every period. Jenna is going to be the new PTA President and is going to do an amazing job and I am going to be there to be a part of it all.

Hope you had a wonderful summer.

Just Pull Over

Grandma Kc wrote this on July 31st, 2015 39 Replies

While AmaraLand is usually all about Amara, this is a special memory from my own childhood.

By now if you’ve read some of the posts from my own childhood, you’ve probably figured out that my mother had some issues and she certainly didn’t set a very good example for my sister and me. This was just another one of those times.

We were on our way from Jonesville to Hillsdale. My mom was driving and my sister and I were both in the backseat. I told you she was a terrible driver and she was always late for wherever we were going. I remember exactly where we were on the road when I first noticed the police car behind us with its lights flashing! I was struck with fear because I knew she was speeding! But she wouldn’t pull over!

Uncle Putt pointing at the no u turn sign

She wasn’t always the most rational person and she was convinced that it was my Uncle Putt, who was a policeman that was driving the police car. She was livid. I should explain about Uncle Putt’s name. He was the youngest of the four boys and the story I was told was that when he was little he would push his toy car around on the floor going “putt, putt, putt”. So my Uncle Lynn named him Putt and it stuck! I think Jenna was about 11 when she found out that wasn’t his real name!

But back to my mother and that trip to Hillsdale. Lights are flashing and sirens are blaring and she wouldn’t pull over! This happened during the time my parents were getting the divorce. I told you that she wasn’t just divorcing my Dad but his whole family and she was sure they were all out to get her. And since Uncle Putt worked for the Hillsdale Police Department, she was sure Dad had told him to be on the lookout for her and to pull her over every chance he got. This had never happened so it wasn’t as if she had reason to think it but she could come up with some of the craziest ideas.

Uncle Putt when he was promoted to Assistant Chief of Police

My sister and I kept yelling at her to just pull over! Of course, that made her madder; we were probably taking Dad’s side. I think Judy and I were both crying when the police car pulled up alongside of us to try to wave her over since the lights didn’t seem to be having any effect! I remember yelling at her, “That isn’t Uncle Putt!” She finally pulled over and after yelling and screaming at the officer she got a ticket! She was still convinced that this was all my Dad’s fault. He’d probably told all of the police officers to pull her over.

I bet my Uncle and the entire police department talked about this one for days afterwards! While my Uncle Putt was never really in this story, it is always one of the first to come to mind when I think of him. I do miss him and think of him often.

Uncle Putt with 2 other officers as he rang the bell for the Salvation Army

In planning this post, I was trying to find a picture of my Uncle Putt in his police uniform. His daughter, April mentioned this to Aunt Phyllis who immediately sent me the two newspaper clippings above – plus a bunch of others! The photo is courtesy of April.

When Friends Move Away

Grandma Kc wrote this on July 16th, 2015 39 Replies

This is hard to write. For months now, we have known that Matthew, Mo and the girls might be moving. We’ve known it would be a wonderful opportunity for their family but deep down inside we hoped it wouldn’t happen. We would miss them all so much. We admit we are selfish.

It all became real just before the 4th of July. As Jenna said the other day, “This isn’t a drill. This is really happening.” Our dear friends are moving out of state next month.

Kindergarten 2010 graduation collage

Amara and Sophia have been friends since Kindergarten. They haven’t always been in the same class but they have always been best friends. Jenna and Mo met during that year in Kindergarten and became best friends, too. Since then their families have become very close. I have come to think of Mo as my other daughter, Matthew as my other SIL and their girls as the other grandchildren I never got. They really are very special people.

This closeness will never end. Thanks to the technology of today, everyone will get plenty of time to video chat and text. It won’t be the same as in person but it will be much easier to maintain their friendship than it would have been 20 years ago.

Mo and Jenna and their new tattoos

You may have seen Jenna and Mo on Facebook with their new tattoos of two crossed arrows. Jenna explains the tattoo best.

“The crossed arrows are a Native American symbol of the joining of two clans. Mo and I have joined our clans!”

Yesterday while they were out getting their tattoos, I had the privilege of entertaining all three girls! I loved every moment of it! Since I knew we only had about 3 hours and because I knew it was one of the last chances I had to play with all 3 of them we crammed in as much fun as we could!

The girls arrived around lunchtime so we started with lunch! Jenna and Amara had suggested special food items that the girls don’t have often. We dined on watermelon, Peperoni Pizza Rolls, Mini Corn Dogs and Capri Sun Lemonade! Lunch was followed by decorating dessert! I had made them cookies to frost and decorate! They each made me special cookies and Amara made one extra special cookie just for Grampy!

Collage of the girls making cookies

While they were decorating, they mentioned they hadn’t eaten any of the cookies and I told them they could eat some while they were decorating. Celia wanted to know how many cookies they could eat. I thought for a minute and asked Amara “How many cookies do you think you should get to eat?” “I think 2 cookies.” “How many do you think you should get, Sophia?” “Three cookies” I turn to Celia and ask her how many and she bounces in her chair with the biggest grin on her face and says “20!” I could not stop laughing! They got three!

Amara rushed Sophia to finish her cookies, as next up was water toys! I had 4 new water squirters in the garage – love the dollar bin at Target – plus all our other water toys! I am sure I ended up the wettest of the four of us! It didn’t help that my hose sprung a leak and got me even wetter than the girls already had! Of course, they had to get the chalk out and Amara and Sophia grated chalk into their bucket of water so they could squirt us with colored water! The water wars were topped off with pushups! Because you know, they hadn’t had enough sugar yet!

It was a wonderful summer afternoon with three of my favorite girls!

Summer Baking

Grandma Kc wrote this on July 6th, 2015 25 Replies

Amara and Grandma Kc making monkey bread together for the first timeI love being in the kitchen with Amara and we both love making monkey bread! It has been almost 4 years since we made that first loaf of Monkey Bread. Since then we’ve made all kinds of monkey bread in our search for the best one ever. We made a Chocolate Orange Monkey Bread with Star Wars decorations for her Dad on his birthday. We made the Cream Cheese Monkey Bread that Mommy requested. There have been a couple of other recipes, too. So far, we are all in agreement that the original was the best. We even made Apple Fritter Bites that we all loved and devoured. They took us on a search to find the perfect recipe for Apple Fritter Monkey Bread! I’m not sure how I came across this recipe for Awesome Country Apple Fritter Bread but I knew we had to try it out!

Amara making Awesome Country Apple Fritter Bread

I peeled the apples for Amara but she chopped them and did everything else. Grandma’s only complaint would be that this recipe requires you to get at least 4 bowls dirty! But it was sure worth it. Amara said it is definitely not a monkey bread but delicious nonetheless! I was shocked that we had any leftover but it was just the three of us for breakfast. I am here to tell you that it sure was good warmed up for about 20 seconds that afternoon!

Amara and the Awesome Country Apple Fritter Bread

The best part of baking with Amara is the conversation. We talked about how her hermit crabs are doing and about swim class. We talked about all our baking and decided we needed to update her recipe book to include all of these new recipes. I suggested she try finding a recipe for something for dinner that we could try one time. She liked that idea and announced that she would like to learn how to bake bread from scratch – followed by cinnamon bread and maybe cinnamon rolls!

It is going to be a yummy summer! I can’t wait!

Shades of Silliness

Grandma Kc wrote this on June 30th, 2015 28 Replies

It has been weeks since Amara spent the night with us. Between all the activities and my bout with the shingles last weekend was the first chance we had. We had fun! We made Apple Fritter Monkey Bread! More on that later.

I think the most fun of the weekend was bath time! Bath time is always more of a fun time at Grandma’s than it is at home. Here she is allowed up to four types of bubble bath and all the time she wants! Of course, I am always on the lookout for new and fun bath time essentials. Fortunately, I had picked up some Crayola Bathtub Fingerpaint Soap from the dollar bin at Target because we had complete failure with the glow sticks I had gotten at the Dollar Tree! That has never happened before but only 1 of the 5 would work! You can’t have much of a glow in the dark bath with only one glow stick. Saved by Fingerpaint soap! She loved it and did her best to see how much she could use up in one bath! She painted herself in all 4 different colors. When she started painting her face, I was required to hold up a mirror so she could see how she looked. Getting the camera and showing her there just seemed easier! I think the only thing that got her to stop was the disgusting brown color the bath water was turning!

You can click the pictures to go to larger view.

Did I mention she had a blast and slept like a rock!

Father and Daughter LUAU

Grandma Kc wrote this on June 23rd, 2015 28 Replies

May and June always get so busy around here with everything that goes on at school that I always get behind on my blog posts. Let me start by telling you about the 4thAnnual Father and Daughter Dance!

Jenna and Mo

I remember when I wrote about the very first Father and Daughter Dance I took time out to tell you that Jenna and Mo were running for Co-Presidents of the PTA. They went on to win and do an amazing job for the next 2 years. Last year they each took PTA board positions but not as presidents. Let me announce that they are going to recreate their roles as Co-Presidents of the PTA for the 2015-2016 school year.
I am so proud of both of them.

Now back to the dance. This year’s theme was a Father and Daughter LUAU – no coconut tops permitted! They had to put that on the flyer because Santiago is a K-8 school and you can’t take the dress code for granted! The Dads were all thrilled as Hawaiian attire is simply shorts and a flowered shirt and sandals – the kind of attire they are most comfortable wearing!

Father and Daughter LUAU

Just like every year, a lot of work went into this dance done by a great committee headed up by Mo with Jenna as her right hand. The Father and Daughter Dances exist because it had always been Mo’s dream for her daughters to attend a Father and Daughter Dance as she had done with her own dad! So she has made it happen. I love being part of this committee each year. I get to do fun things like go to Ola Hawaiian BBQ to sample the delicious food they were going to cater. I also spent one Sunday afternoon with some of the moms and their kids making beautiful table decorations – flowers made from coffee filters and sprayed with different food colors. These were placed in tin cans wrapped in burlap and tied with a ribbon. They were beautiful and reminded me of hibiscuses.

A table full of paper flowers

It amazes me that each dance is better than the one before and with even more students in attendance. I think the final count this year was 275 attendees. The weather was perfect again! When setup time finally got there, we covered the outdoor lunch tables with brown butcher paper tied down with tulle. Mo had made a special trip to the beach to get us some sand and we spread it down the middle of the tables. It looked like you were at a luau on the beach. We also added sand to the little tin can vases to hold them down before filling them with the paper flowers. We’ve had trouble with the decorations trying to blow away in past years. This year we were ready for Mr. Wind who always seems to come around dusk. We even found a great place to set up for photos that gave us some protection from him. Green crepe paper hung around the area to look like hula skirts. There were tiki torches around the grounds. Mo even got us a yellow VW convertible with surfboard sticking out of the back seat for ambiance! In fact, we had surfboards strewn around the area. All these little details made it extra special.

The yellow VW with surfboards

This year the check in table had Hula Dancers! One of the playground supervisors is part of a Hula Dancing Team and they offered to come to the dance and help. As each Father and Daughter entered the dance, they could get Hawaiian lei to wear! The Hula Girls placed the leis on the Dads and girls just as they would in Hawaii. Everyone loved it. Later during the evening, they did an amazing demonstration for everyone! All the little girls were trying to learn it! I should also add that the male dancer used to be a student at our school.

The Hula Dancers performing for the crowd

Photos courtesy of Jenna

Jenna found a cute idea for the photos on Pinterest! Someone had used a white washed looking fence with surfboards balanced against it as a backdrop! We liked the idea and managed to find some awesome corrugated paper with a white washed fence pattern on it. We borrowed a couple of surfboards from one of the Dads and we had our backdrop! Just like prior years I didn’t get to see much of the dance – I took my last picture at 8:22 but I did have one of the best views of the night. I got to see every couple – many of them I have photographed the previous 3 years and it is amazing to look back and see how much some of these students have grown.

4 years of Father and Daughter Dance photos

I also got to hear the “ews” and “ahs” from all the students in the photo line when the Kona Ice Truck pulled in – this was their dessert and they couldn’t wait to go get it!

The Kona Ice Truck of Orange County

Just like I have taken the photos for the last 4 years, Amara’s Grandma Judi has handmade Amara and her Daddy’s outfits for each dance. They looked so cute in their matching outfits and the blue in that dress just made Amara’s eyes pop!

Jenna, Amara and Justin at the 2015 Father and Daughter LUAU

In keeping with the luau theme, Mo asked all of the volunteers to wear flowered or Hawaiian styled attire. Jenna and Mo still haven’t learned their lesson about shoes — both of them had very sore feet by the end of the dance! But they looked good and they did an amazing job.

Our favorite family

Mo works hard to make sure the dance is kept within budget. To help with defraying the cost of the dance we always have a lot of raffles! This year’s prizes were amazing. One family had even donated Disney tickets! All of the raffle prizes were intended to give the winning daughter and dad a second date. I’d had fun the month before going with Jenna and Amara to get donations – which of course meant we had to stop and have yogurt! With all of these wonderful raffle prizes, Mo’s budget was safe.

Amara and Justin dancing

One of the students brought two of her ukuleles. She even let the students use them as props to pose with for the pictures if they wanted to. Her Grandfather, who is the one who escorted her to the dance for the 4th year, has taught her to play. Later that evening as I was tearing thing down she serenaded me with it! Playing her ukulele She was impressive and it was the perfect way to end my evening!

These are the other Father and Daughter Dances Amara has gone to.