It has become a tradition to make sure that Amara’s picture is on the channel 7 news on her birthday! This is our third year. I did it when she turned 8 years old and I did it again when she turned 10. I missed doing it when she turned 9 and she was very disappointed. That will never happen again and so today, I bring you Amara’s 11th birthday announced on the 5 AM ABC Channel 7 news this morning!
Happy Birthday Amara! We love you!
I can’t seem to decide what to do with my hair lately. I complained to Amara the other day that I really needed to have her Mom cut my bangs at least. Amara eagerly offered to cut them for me. After one huge shudder that came with memories of my mother, I wisely declined and told her the story of the time her Mommy had cut her grandma’s hair.
If you’ve read some of my posts about my own childhood, you have probably figured out by now that my real mother was an extremely difficult woman. That is just such an understatement. You never knew what kind of mood she would be in but you tread lightly as her mood changed with the snap of your fingers. You never knew what would set her off.
When Jenna was in 4th grade, she would often walk from her elementary school to her grandma’s until either her Dad or I got off work and picked her up. The school wasn’t even a half block from my mom’s place and she would usually walk up to the school and wait for Jenna to get out. Mom lived in an apartment complex with a HUGE swimming pool and that was where they often spent their time. Jenna has better memories of my mother than I do and my mother really loved Jenna dearly but even that didn’t shelter her from my mother’s occasional wrath.
This story was about the time I arrived to pick Jenna up only to find my mother in the foulest mood ever. She proceeded to scream at me, “Look what Jenna did to my hair!” Mom had seen a new hairstyle and Jenna offered to cut it for her. My mother let her!
I seldom stood up to my mother but even I lost my temper. I was mad that she had Jenna in tears because she had no common sense. I vividly remember screaming at her, “What were you thinking letting a 9 year old cut your hair?” My screaming didn’t help much, she just couldn’t understand how Jenna had done that to her. I personally thought she got the haircut she deserved!
Is it funny or sad that I also have a very vivid memory of my mother getting furious with me for botching her haircut? I was 10 at the time, she had seen a haircut at Church that she really liked, and I offered to cut it for her. Like Jenna, my intentions were good; we both thought we could do it! We both lived to regret trying.
Therefore, when Amara offered to cut my hair I just shuddered and shared this story with her. The bad hair cutting by children stop here!
This was my 5th year as a volunteer at Jog-a-thon and it was another wonderful event! I spent most of the day with a camera in one hand and a squirt bottle in the other. For those of you wearing a Fitbit I had 16,000 steps by 3PM and had taken 678 pictures! It was the perfect day for it, too. It was a bit cloudy and overcast when we first got there for set up but by the time the races began the sun had burst through. It was warm but only in the mid-70s. There was even enough wind that Justin could film with his quad copter like he did last year. The Friday before had been the mid-90s so we did get lucky!
When I got there one of the Dad’s was unloading the 4 Super Speedy turtles that he had made. He had even brought along a can of paint to touch them up with – a job that Amara quickly took over for him. She had come to school with her folks at around 6:30 as she had a RAK Club meeting to go to at 7. Those Speedy Turtles were the hit of the day. Even the younger brothers and sisters who had come to watch wanted to pose with Speedy! What an amazing Dad to make and donate them!
The last few years Jenna has put together the music for the students to jog to. She made a CD and they played it over with each new group of runners. Having the music makes it a lot more fun to run. This year the PTA asked the RAK and Leadership Clubs to help suggest the music. Then Jenna carefully listened to each song to make sure that the lyrics were appropriate. It is always more fun when you can get the students involved in the choices.
If you’ve been reading AmaraLand for a while you’ve probably read about all the fun of Jog-a-thon before so I won’t bore you with details of how much fun it is to have a squirt bottle in your hand as the students run by. I won’t tell you about all of the wonderful hugs that I got. I won’t tell you about how much fun it was to watch Kindergarteners on the field stretching to warm up before they ran. I will tell you this is the first year that for some reason the Kindergarteners though they needed to run single file! They were stepping all over one another but they were having a blast. All of the students loved cooling off afterwards with their traditional popsicles. Last year the students raised almost $17,000 to help fund all the amazing things the PTA brings to the school. It will be a while yet before we know how much money was raised this year.
If you haven’t read about all the past fun at Jog-a-thons you can read the past posts here.
I must tell you that one of the best parts of the day was having at least 20 students come up and ask me, “Aren’t you the Cat in the Hat?”
A few years ago, Amara started wearing glasses, which was not surprising since her Mom had worn them as a child and pretty much everyone else in the family wears them. She had asked her Mom when she started wearing contacts and her Mom told her to go ask me about that story.
It was the mid 80s and Jenna must have been about 12 or 13 when she decided she wanted to wear contacts instead of glasses. Jenna had worn glasses all the time since she was about four so you couldn’t blame her. I took her to the eye doctor at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. I don’t remember the name of the place but it was similar to Lens Crafter. After spending some time with the doctor who was unable to get the contacts into her eyes he sent us home – with the contacts! We would figure it out. I wore contacts at the time but they were and still are hard lenses so I wasn’t sure how much help I was going to be but she wanted them and she was convinced we would get them in – eventually – so home we went.
Jenna couldn’t even get her finger within 3″ of her eye without snapping her eye lids closed. She tried and tried. Then I tried and tried. There were many tears and a lot of frustration and 3 days later, they had still not been in her eyes but we had somehow managed to lose one on the bathroom floor. We found it all shriveled and dried up a few days later. I am thinking it was 5 years before she ever tried contacts again.
Last weekend Amara asked me when I had started wearing contacts. I was about 17 and I hated my glasses and couldn’t see a thing without them! I have very vivid memories of how much those contact lenses hurt that first week but I was determined! Now I just want to get cataracts so that I can have the surgery and throw my contacts and glasses both away!
Yesterday Amara had her eye doctor’s appointment and I got to go with her and her Mom. She needed to have her prescription increased and would need to start wearing her glasses most of the time. “What about contacts? I’ve been thinking about them for a while”, Amara said. Her eye doctor thought it was a great idea but Amara would have to go through the training to learn all about them. Unlike her Mom’s experience, Amara would have to learn to clean her lenses and take each one in and out 3 times by herself before she could take them home. She got a little frustrated at times but she did it! We were all so impressed. She started yesterday wearing them for 2 hours and would increase by 2 hours until she gets to 12 and that is her limit. We went shoe shopping afterwards and she loved being able to see so well without having her glasses on.
She is just growing up much too quickly!
You may have seen me bragging about this over on Facebook but just in case you missed it, let me tell you that Jenna was just voted Parent of the Year for 2014-2015 at Amara’s school. We have all known that she is a great Mom, daughter, wife, friend and everything else but as Jenna put it so perfectly, “It is an honor just to be nominated, but it’s totally awesome to win too!” I am thrilled she got this much-deserved recognition.
She really does so much at Amara’s school and is loved and respected by students, parents, teachers and administration. One teacher even mentioned that Jenna and Justin needed to have more children so that they could keep them both around after Amara leaves the school. She is always a familiar face on campus and knows many of the students by name. They will all run to give her hugs or to get her advice. There have been many times when Jenna and I are at Target and a parent will approach her with “Don’t you work at the school?” They are always surprised when she tells them she just volunteers and no she isn’t paid. She is just doing what she loves to do and doing it very well.
I certainly don’t give my mother credit for who I am and I don’t take any credit for the amazing person that Jenna has turned out to be either. But she certainly is amazing and we are all very proud of her.
P.S. I want a bumper sticker that says, “My daughter is Parent of the Year at Santiago Elementary”.
A couple of weeks ago I went with Jenna to pick Amara up from school. When the bell rang, Amara came flying out of the classroom, “Grandma, I made Honor Band!” I swear she was so excited she was jumping 2 feet off the ground while she told me. I knew that she had gotten some special music to learn and that she would have to audition. I had promised her I would take her shopping for the music book of her choice if she made the cut. She was so excited to have been picked.
Every year the Santa Ana Unified School District presents “the Honor Band Concert featuring Outstanding Student Musicians from Elementary, Intermediate and High Schools”. Each level would perform two or three selections. The music teachers from each of the schools had selected their best. Their students had been practicing their pieces for the last week but it wasn’t until the day of the concert that 92 5th graders from 37 different schools came together for 3 hours to practice together!
They all looked so proud sitting on stage waiting to play and they never missed a beat. We were all impressed at how well they played and how professionally they all behaved.
You can click the pictures to go to larger view.
Once again, we are all very proud of Amara!