Grandma Pen Pals

Grandma Kc wrote this on August 21st, 2016 15 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 16 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.

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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.

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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.

Father and Daughter 80s Dance

Grandma Kc wrote this on June 28th, 2016 19 Replies

Did you ever get so far behind in something that you thought about just giving up? Ever since we found out that Amara would be going to OCSA next year things have just gotten crazy busy! So many things needed to be done for the last time. I may just give you the highlights on some of the events but the 5th Annual Father Daughter Dance definitely deserves a post all of its own!

Ticket to the Father and Daughter 80s Dance

This year the theme was an 80s party and I think this was the most fun theme yet! Jenna created the cutest flyer and matching ticket. The dance committee had fun getting together to plan and create all the decorations. Pinterest gave us so many great ideas! Jenna had put a call out on NextDoor that she needed cassettes and boy did she score! She got boxes and boxes of them. Some that had never even been opened! She painted them bright neon colors and they were scattered everywhere. She also used them to make lights for the raffle tables but I didn’t get a picture of them. One of the mom’s with the help of her family created 6 HUGE Rubik’s cubes to set near the stage. Everyone wanted to take those home!

The Stage and the giant Rubik's Cubes

The PTA hired an awesome DJ – Gio who is one of the school maintenance men and well liked by all the students and staff. His music was wonderful and there was a lot of dancing going on!

The 80s centerpieces with the ghost and Pacman

Once again, the lunch tables would be the dining room and the tables were covered in neon table clothes and decorated with centerpieces in matching neon colors and Pacman cutouts. Everything would be perfect.

Bomb Diggity setting up for the dance

Dinner wasn’t as big of a success as Gio was. The PTA had hired a hot dog truck to serve corn dogs, french fries and churros for dessert. The perfect 80s meal and they even served lemonade. They came highly recommended and had great reviews on Yelp. They were confident they could easily handle serving about 300 guests in 2 hours. About an hour in Jenna realized that the food line was not moving. They were having problems with their propane but instead of telling Jenna they just tried to fix things but by then they were too far behind to catch up. One of the moms ran out and got pizzas to serve to the dads and daughters who hadn’t eaten yet.

Backdrop splattered with neon paint

I did the pictures again and Jenna and I had decided to use black corrugated cardboard splattered with neon colors for my backdrop! We had so much fun doing it the day before the dance. Splattering paint takes you back to your childhood again. We did it at school so that we could leave it to dry flat. We had little ones walking by wondering what we were up to and why we were having so much fun and they weren’t!

Kc's NametageAnother little detail – all of the volunteers wore 80s attire and nametags that Jenna had made with a picture of the volunteer from the 80s. This is mine! We tried gathering pictures of all of the teachers from the 80s but sadly, we only got a few to participate. Those 5 looked rad and the students loved trying to figure out who was who.

Better than all of this is how rad all the dads and daughters looked. Taking the pictures, I get to see how cute everyone looks! This year was the best but I think I have said that every year! But seriously, I have never seen so much neon in one place! Lots of the little girls shared with me that their moms had lots of fun helping them dress 80s and doing their hair! Even I had fun trying to find just the right outfit to wear!

Amara and Justin dancing

It was a wonderful evening. Once again, we had perfect weather and the event was sold out. The hot dog truck made it right on the bill and as a special apology, all of the photos this year were 8x10s instead of the regular 4x6s we usually do. I have loved taking these pictures for the last 5 years and being part of the dance. It has been fun photographing the same dads and daughters and watching the daughters grow. I will miss it.

Amara and Justin at the 80s Party

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

Turning Twelve

Grandma Kc wrote this on May 8th, 2016 16 Replies

It really is hard to believe that Amara turned 12 years old two weeks ago!

birthday collage

Her birthday celebrating started with presents, cake and ice cream at our house. Grampy celebrated his birthday recently, too and as a gift for both of them I made a Shutterfly Book entitled “Amara and Grandpa 2004-2015″. The book turned out amazing but it was a lot of work! I went through all of my thousands and thousands of pictures looking for the perfect ones from each year. Photos of just the two of them. While that narrowed it down a lot, I still had a couple of years with over 50 pictures. I had decided to make the book 22 pages long — 2 pages for each year. I didn’t think I would ever get the photos down to a manageable number but I did and the book really turned out great! Finally! Because it took so long to finish Grandpa got his a couple weeks late and Amara knew nothing about it. We also got her two soap making kits and I am hoping she will bring one of them back on one of her future sleepovers so that I can watch her make them.

Pages from Amara and Grandpa's Book

The real partying started on Saturday afternoon! Amara had invited 3 girls and 2 boys to join her for a party at Rockin Jump where we had the Mother and Son Event. This would be followed up by a pizza party and around 10 PM the boys would be picked up and the girls would spend the night. I went to take pictures, as Jenna and Justin would be busy jumping, too! Justin had so much fun playing dodge ball with kids on the trampolines and he showed them no mercy! Amara looked so athletic climbing the rock wall and they all had fun in the jousting pit. Jenna refused to joust – she’d seen how hard it was to crawl out of that foam filled pit! It got scary for a moment when one of the girls lost their glasses in the pit! I not only went to take pictures but as transportation to help get all the kids back to Amara’s for pizza and lots of shenanigans! I had the biggest car so I got Amara and the girls. Best part of the ride home was listening to the girls laugh at a Donald Trump video! I am just amazed at how politically aware they are!

Rockin Jump Collage

Sunday morning was the annual Orbeez War and the boys and I were coming back for that! Jenna and Justin had made a huge tub full of Orbeez and their lawn looked amazing when it was all done. Much like Amara, Fred, and the fake snow every Christmas, I hope these kids never outgrow the Orbeez Wars. I know Justin never will! He is still the girls’ favorite target and much like the dodge ball, he shows them no mercy! He even comes dressed for battle!

Orbeez Collage

FYI — Amara filled her cap with Orbeez so that she wouldn’t have to keep going back for more!

Amara had a wonderful birthday! I can’t wait to see what the next year and OCSA will bring for our girl!