Fun with Amara

Grandma Kc wrote this on September 17th, 2016 20 Replies

I better get this posted before Amara comes to spend the night again this weekend and I get that much further behind!

Amara and Grandma Kc at the Book Fair

Let me start by saying that if you didn’t get to see it on Facebook a couple of weeks ago – I got another purple calendar date! Jenna had told me that I was going to be asked to help out at the Book Fair for Back to School Night at Santiago. The PTA has always had Book Fair open during Back to School Night and while they sell lots of books to the parents that attend because those parents are visiting the classrooms it is really hard to get volunteers to work. So we all got to help! Justin was the bouncer, I ran the line directing customers to one of the 3 registers. One of those registers was manned by Miss Jenna. Even Amara worked the Book Fair and she was so fun and entertaining! You will notice in the photo of us that we are standing in front of a large board of numbered small ticket items the students/parents could purchase. As they reached the head of my line Amara would go into her Vanna routine, “Would you like anything from the wonderful board of colors and wonder and magic!!!” (Jazz hands) I just love this child! Why didn’t I think to get video of her? It was so much fun working next to her and getting to see lots of old friends.

Jenna at the Book Fair

Amara slept over that weekend. We couldn’t decide what to eat so we decided on dinner at Red Robin. Yum! We all had hamburgers and were pretty stuffed but Grampy and Amara “needed” dessert! They knew they wanted milk shakes but they just couldn’t decide! So Grampy got the cookies and cream shake and Amara ordered the cupcake shake (without sprinkles because Grampy doesn’t like sprinkles) and they both had them split! So they each got 2 milk shakes! I love going out with the 2 of them. It is so fun and entertaining! Oh and they forced me to order the molten lava cake so they could have some of that, too! I think I got 2 bites. It was really more than I wanted!

Amara and Grampy at Red Robin

Our plan for after dinner had been to come home and watch “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on Amazon. Amara had recently read the book and Rich and I had read it a long time ago. We’d also seen the movie when it came out but couldn’t remember any of it so thought this would be fun! Then we got home and Amara thought it would be lots more fun to watch Cake Wars – so why not!

Sunday morning Amara and I were off to the Orange International Street Fair! The Orange Circle and surrounding streets are all closed to traffic and each area is devoted to a different country. There were food vendors and shopping booths down the middle of all the streets. It was in the mid-70s and it was perfect out! We went early as parking is terrible and the crowds start to get pretty rowdy by noon! Between almost every food vendor is a beer wagon! Even OCSA had one although theirs wasn’t open at 10 AM.

The OCSA Beer Truck

Amara, like most of her friends and family is into Pokemon Go so we did at least 2 laps around the Circle catching Pokeys! I don’t have the game on my phone but I do have a lot of fun walking with her and hearing all about everything she has caught or that is hatching! I just smile and nod! After about 2 laps of that Amara put her phone away and we got down to some serious shopping and eating! One of our favorite places to go at The Circle is The Perfect Circle Cupcakery – they’ve been on Cupcake Wars! I was worried they would be closed as most of the shops were. We were in luck and we took a break from our walk to share mini-cupcakes! I bought some Christmas gifts and Amara bought some peppermint bath salts. We had such a good time!

Amara and her mini-cupcakes

Maybe this weekend we will get that movie watched!

The First Week of School

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 28th, 2016 26 Replies

Amara’s first week of school is officially over and she absolutely loves it! Justin took her first day of school off so that he could go with Jenna to drop off and pick up. Jenna supplied us with lots of pictures of that day but for Grampy and I the best part was when she phoned us after school. The excitement in her voice was contagious.

Amara on the first day of OCSA

Amara has block schedule so she only had half of her classes that first day but so far Spanish was her favorite class. She had made new friends and they had lunch together. I asked her if they had eaten all of the gummies she had taken with her. Not all of them as no one was very hungry. She felt they had all over packed their lunches. I think it was just the excitement level. She told us about the little grocery store across the street where students go to purchase things. Remember how I told you that Amara had tested to get into Advanced Math? Well she is one of 2 or 3 7th graders and all the rest of the students in her class are 8th or 9th grade! She was very proud of this. She’d had a great first day at her new school.

I got to go with Jenna to drop Amara off and pick her up on her second day. The campus really is huge and there were so many students milling around. It reminded me of being on a college campus. This would be another day of all new classes. Today’s favorite class was Lit & Comp. We went and had yogurt after school and got to hear all about it. She told us about the different teachers. She has all female teachers except for her M/T Dance – Modern Theater Dance! I have to stay up on the lingo! I think that may be the most challenging class as her legs were really sore by the end of the week. Of course that might be from having to walk up 7 flights of stairs for one of her classes! She has one class that is a “tea class”. The teacher would like them to bring cups and tea to enjoy during class! She has another teacher that not only allows chewing gum but encourages it! So many details!

Friday was wonderful. To wrap up the first week they had a Welcome Week street fair. It was mostly for the students but parents were encouraged to come and that includes Grandmas! Fridays are early out for OCSA so the festivities started around 1:30. There were food trucks and each conservatory had a table. At those tables you could win raffles tickets to use either in the prize drawings or at the dunk tanks where teachers were scheduled to be. There was face painting and a DJ but the best part was the young dancer dressed all in red. He was so fun and entertaining and he got students all up and dancing including Amara!

It really is such an amazing school filled with so many talented students.
Amara is going to have a wonderful year.

Grandma Pen Pals

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 21st, 2016 30 Replies

It all started back in February of 2013. I had written the blog post “STAR Awards” and it featured this picture.

Amara and the girls getting STAR Awards

This is a picture of Amara and 2 of her best friends — best friends both then and now. They had all gotten STAR Awards. STAR is the “Standardized Testing and Reporting Program”. I had gotten permission from both of the girls moms to post the photo. It was at this same time that I had been nominated for Grandparenting Blog of the Year for 2013 and I needed votes! The Mom of one of the girls in the photo sent my blog post on to her Mom to read (and to solicit her vote) and I got the sweetest email from her that evening. I’d posted a picture of her granddaughter! That is her in the middle. We soon became Grandma Pen Pals! She lives in Michigan which is where I grew up. We had granddaughters who were best friends and daughters who were best friends. How could we not be friends, too?

Grandparents Day 2009 at Preschool with Amara and 2 friends

The fact that this Grandma lives in Michigan gave us another thing in common. In fact, it is because she lives in Michigan that her granddaughter and I had become special friends long before the STAR post. She and Amara went to preschool together and I got to be grandma for the day to her and another of Amara’s friends at the Grandparents Day Celebration. Long distance Grandmas can’t always be there so I had 3 granddaughters that day!

First Day of School

You know how I love to take pictures. I had tons of pictures of this girl and her entire family that I could send her and I did. I know how lucky I am to get to see all the everyday stuff that she was missing out on. I was always at school with my camera and I just made it a point to try and remember to get pictures to email her. We have even gotten to meet a few times when she has visited California.

Last Day of School 2016

So fellow bloggers — get involved at school and take some pictures. You never know what Grandma you could be helping out or what friend you might make!

This post has been linked to the GRAND Social blogging event at Grandmas Briefs.

Wrapping Up Summer 2016

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 17th, 2016 20 Replies

It has been a fun summer and I am really behind in my blogging! Hard to believe summer is almost over and Amara will start the school year at her new school next week. But let me fill you in on what has been going on recently.

Amara and I have had a couple of wonderful beach days! We’ve had our usual sleepovers, watched some great movies, done some baking and made a lot of gummies! Amara and I were really excited to try out our new gummy worm molds! The Modern Gummy which is the company that makes the gummy bear molds we use emailed me and asked if we would like to try out these new Gummy Worm molds in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon. If you or your grands ever want to make gummies I highly recommend their molds! The detail on the bears is amazing and the worms look like the kind you buy at the store.

Gummy Worm Collage

Since Amara has started making gummies I have been on the lookout for different Jellos. I found these crazy Jellos at Big Lots which we used for our first batch of worms. Amara asked lots of questions about whether she would be able to eat them. We explained it was just flavoring and not alcohol but she was so sincere in her questions! There is a running joke around here that Justin (Amara’s Daddy) doesn’t like me because he won’t make me Margaritas! It really is just a joke but Amara loves to keep things going and told her Dad he couldn’t have any of the Margarita gummies! Funnier yet was when she tried one. She looks at me and says, “I can see why people like Margaritas!” That Jello really did make neat gummies – they were extra sparkly. The piña colada ones were kind of bland but we liked the Strawberry Daiquiri ones, too. We are becoming gummy experts.

We also had a summertime visit from Fred and his parents. Usually they come to visit at Christmas time and I get fake snow for the kids to play with. Since we had so much fun with Orbeez when the girls came to visit I thought it would be fun and it was supposed to be warm! I didn’t tell them what I had planned but I told Fred and his Mom to be sure and bring a change of clothes. We had a blast! We finished off the afternoon with hot dogs and the brownies that Amara and I had made the night before. l love that there are Orbeez in the yard again.

Speaking of having made the brownies the night before – it is a good thing we did as Amara slept until noon when I woke her up! She has been sleeping 12 or 14 hours a day for the last month or so. Jenna attributes it to another growth spurt! She has grown ½” in just the last 2 weeks and is now over 5’4” tall. I think she is taller than Aunt Sandy! As a reminder Amara comes from tall stock! Her Mommy is 5’10” and her Dad is 6’4”. They did one of those calculations and it says she will be 5’11” when she gets done growing! Jenna used to always tell me that when she was taller than me she got to be boss. She had a growth spurt at 18 and blew by me! I wonder if she will let Amara be boss if she is taller.

UPDATE: While I was writing this Jenna called to say they measured Amara this AM and she grew another 1/4″!

We have a few things yet to come before the big first day. Amara is coming over tomorrow to make gummies to take to school and share on her first day. Friday she and Mommy are getting their “back to school” haircuts and I get to go with them. I would get a haircut too if I could figure out what the heck to do with it!

As I write this Amara and her parents are at Registration and Orientation. School will officially start next Tuesday. When the students got their acceptance letters back in April the 7th graders were given an opportunity to test for math placement. Amara got into Advanced Math. She has always been a good math student and was on the Mathletes Team last year. Getting into Advance Math means her schedule will allow for Spanish, too.

Amara got to meet a lot of her new classmates last weekend. OCSA hosted a swimming party and BBQ for the new Production and Design students and their parents. She made a couple of new friends and reconnected with a friend who had left Santiago a few years ago. Amara was so excited that they both got into OCSA and even more excited that they got the same conservatory!

Amara atregistration

She has so much fun in her future! I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

Birthdays Together

Grandma Kc wrote this on July 9th, 2016 24 Replies

One of the saddest parts about our friends moving to Texas last year is that the girls no longer get to celebrate their birthdays together. So when Mo told us they were coming to visit this summer I thought it would be fun if I threw the 3 girls a little birthday party!

Before the girls moved last year, they spent an afternoon with Amara and me. I wanted to do something with the girls while they were here – just the 4 of us again so why not have a birthday party.

I thought back to Amara’s birthday parties and the number one activity is always Orbeez! I knew our little mini-party would have to include an Orbeez War. I started them soaking on Wednesday evening and they’d made me smile as I kept checking them and adding more water.

Every good party needs cake and ice cream. Sadly, ABC Cakes, which we used for so many years for Amara’s parties, went out of business. The idea hit me – Baskin Robbins? An ice cream cake?

Now what to have for lunch? Grandma Honey and Grandma Joyce have both recently blogged about how much fun they had making pizza with their grands so why not have pizza? I know Amara LOVES pizza!

Jenna and I spent one afternoon shopping for birthday presents and decorations. The girls knew they were coming to spend the afternoon but none of them knew I was planning a birthday party. When they arrived and saw the Birthday banner they all asked whose birthday it was. I told them we were going to celebrate all of their birthdays. I don’t remember if it was Jenna or Mo who said, “You get a birthday! And You get a birthday! And you get a birthday! Everybody gets a birthday!”

We started our party by making pizzas. I cheated and bought refrigerated pizza dough and canned sauce. Mo had clued me in that Celia likes black olives and Sophia only likes cheese. Amara is a pepperoni girl. I was craving chicken alfredo pizza so I had gotten a can of alfredo sauce and cooked and chopped up a chicken breast. Each of the girls made their own pizza. I convinced Celia to make part of her pizza chicken alfredo. Worked out great as she was so busy eating olives while she cooked that she might not have had enough left to do an entire pizza!

We set up the Ponopoly game while the pizza was cooking but didn’t get very far before they were done. Our crusts could have been a little crisper but we enjoyed every bite! It was while we were eating that I brought to the girls’ attention the huge tub of Orbeez sitting on the patio! Oh, the happy faces!

Once they were done eating pizza, they changed into bathing suits and headed for the backyard. I also grabbed a bunch of the Super Soakers out of the garage. Just so you know – it is possible to suck up smashed Orbeez when you try to suck water out of the Orbeez tub! I actually think they get smashed in the process! We ended up getting another bucket to use for just water. The four of us got drenched and my yard is covered in Orbeez! I love all the colors.

When there were no more Orbeez to be thrown and we were exhausted from chasing each other we dried off and headed back inside. It was time for cake and to open presents! I probably should have let the ice cream cake sit out longer before I cut it but I was anxious and so were the girls. White cake with cookies and cream ice cream, what could be better? Of course, it was so hard they could hardly eat it, which brought on lots of giggles as they invented ice cream cake on a fork!

Presents were opened and shared and we ended our afternoon playing cards while we waited for the Moms to come and pick them up. It really was a wonderful afternoon!

You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Happy Birthday Celia, Sophia & Amara!


UPDATE: About Orbeez – The truth is we actually use Jelly BeadZ because they are more economical and the kids don’t know the difference. My understanding is they were originally used for plants, to give them moisture which makes them very safe to use in the yard. They start out about the size of those little beads we used to string to make Indian bracelets and given enough water they swell to about the size of a marble. In a day or two they shrink back to bead size but the sprinklers will often bring them back to life.

No More Purple Calendar Dates

Grandma Kc wrote this on July 5th, 2016 24 Replies

I use Google calendars a lot. I have them color-coded so I can tell things apart. Jenna created a Google calendar for the PTA and I have it color coded purple because well – it’s Jenna’s calendar so it should be purple! May and June had many purple appointments.

The week after the Father and Daughter Dance was the Book Fair, four days of purple events. While the F/D Dance theme had been the 80s, the theme for the book fair was the 60s! Lisa, who organized the book fair, did an amazing job with the decorations. This was also my last opportunity to make a guest appearance as the Book Fair-ie, which is what I did on the first day. The students were wonderful and I am going to miss being the Book Fair-ie. I think I found someone to replace me next year and she will just tell the students that I retired! My legend will continue!

The Book Fair goes 60s collage

Lisa also asked me to take family pictures the evening of Open House for posting to Facebook. What a blast! One of the Mom’s had created a VW Bus cutout to use as a prop. Don’t you love Pinterest? Lisa bought cute 60s backdrops and even had a table full of props like glasses, love beads and tie-dyed scarves. The kids and some of the parents really got into it! Such fun!

Donut Party for Box Tops Winners

Another fun event was the Donut Party the PTA threw for the class that had brought in the most Box Tops for the entire year. I was Box Tops chair so this was my baby! We raised over $1600 this year! We had originally planned to have a pizza party but the students voted and they wanted donuts – Crispy Crème Donuts with juice and milk! They have the best teacher and she had them up and dancing as soon as they were done. One of many fun parties.

Hit the Rit Collage

And there were lots of fun parties! The Principal had challenged all the students to score over 75% as a class on some testing and if they did, he would treat them to either popcorn or a Paleta party! I forget how many classes made it but Jenna and I spent one entire day delivering Paletas and popping popcorn to deliver! When you come into a classroom with Paletas or Popcorn, you are very well received! It was another fun day but boy did we smell like popcorn when we got home that night.

Speaking of popcorn, months ago Jenna overheard one of the teachers challenging his class to read a thousand books. She told the class if they did the PTA would give them a popcorn party. They did and we did but we also found out two other classes had done it. Seemed only fair to give them a popcorn party, too!

Cat in the Hat Collage

The last Monday of school, I made my last appearance as the Cat in the Hat at both drop-off and pick-up. In case you can’t tell, I really get into this and I had so much fun reminding students that they had to read their books this summer and posing with them for pictures! One little girl came up to me and said, “I know you’re not really The Cat”. I told her she was right and asked her how she knew. She tugged on a lock of my hair and said, “Your hair.” I asked her to please not tell the other students and she got the most solemn look and said, “Oh, I won’t!” Such a great day and such great memories. I will never forget any of this and I am happy to say that one of the other PTA moms will be taking over this role. She will be awesome and the kids will love it.

Now have you ever wondered how many dozen Crispy Crème Donuts will fit in the back of an Equinox? Well the answer is at least 76 dozen! That is 912 donuts! I picked them up at 7 AM and I wish we had thought to take a photo. Some customer stopped and took one as we were loading! One of the other PTA events was the Honor Roll ceremony for the K-5th graders. They did them in groups and after each group received their awards, the student and their parents were treated to a donut from the PTA! We were done with that around 11:30 just in time to setup for the 8th grade Yearbook signing party. We had left over donuts, which they loved!

Many of you have commented that Santiago will really miss Jenna and me. I have to tell you how they showed it! The Volunteers Tea that the staff puts on turned out to be a luncheon this year. It was great and there were a few tears especially when the Principal and 2 of the teachers presented Jenna with a huge bouquet of flowers and told her how much she would be missed! Mom pride!

Jenna at the PTA President's Dinner

Then at the PTA President’s Dinner Jenna and I were both presented with bouquets made of gift cards. One of the moms had taken up a collection from all the teachers and staff. It was so nice! Jenna also received a very special gift – a 2015-2016 Yearbook signed by most of the students, teachers and administrative staff. What a cool gift!

Santiago Super Mathletes Collage

While this isn’t a purple event, Amara did leave Santiago in style! Amara did a lot of extra- curricular activities this year such as band, track and theater but J&J were extra proud of her for making the Mathletes team! She also got straight “A”s this semester. In fact, she only got one B the entire year! We are very proud of you Amara!

Friends since preschool

The last day of school brought many tears. Amara has gone to school with many of these students for 7 years – some since preschool and she will miss them. We will miss them, too.

There won’t be any more purple calendar dates.