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 23 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!

The Beginning of a New Journey

Grandma Kc wrote this on April 8th, 2016 39 Replies

It is the beginning of a big change! Jenna announced it on Facebook last night:

“I’ve got good news. Amara got into Orange County School of the Arts! Starting next (school) year we will be leaving our Santiago Elementary and Santiago School PTA family. That is all.”

I’ve been wanting to share this story with all of you but wanted to wait until we knew how the story would turn out before I told it! Santiago is a wonderful school and we are sure going to miss it but next year Amara will be attending OCSA with a conservatory in “production and design”.

Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), colloquially called “OH-sha”, which is retained from a mispronunciation of the previous acronym for the previous name of the school (respectively “Orange County High School of the Arts” and “OCHSA”), is a 7th — 12th grade public charter school located in downtown Santa Ana, Orange County, California, United States. The school caters to middle and high school students with talents in the performing, visual, literary arts, and culinary arts. The educational program prepares students for higher education institutions or employment in the professional arts industry. Both the academic and arts program have prompted recognition in the US News’ “Best High Schools” program. OCSA recently changed its school name from “Orange County High School of the Arts” (OCHSA) to “Orange County School of the Arts” to reflect the inclusion of middle school students. from Wiki

For those of us who remember the old movie and TV show “Fame”, it is something like that only they also offer culinary, creative writing, digital media and so much more.

Overhead photo of OCSA

Photo from OCSA

Amara has been dreaming of going to OCSA for years now but couldn’t apply until she was ready to start 7th grade. Because OCSA is a charter school, you have to apply to get in. There is no guarantee you will make it and the process isn’t an easy one! Amara has been taking art classes on Saturdays since she was about three. When this school year began, she also started taking a class one night a week with her art teacher on “How to get into OCSA”. She could apply for two conservatories. Now I admit that word confused me but it is kind of like selecting a major. Amara applied for Visual Arts and for Production & Design. Applications had to be submitted online by January 15th and then you wait to see if you get an interview! Amara did not get an interview for VA but was scheduled to interview for P&D on February 6th.

Amara's wolf costume for OCSA

The interview process wasn’t an easy one either. They were given a subject – The Three Little Pigs – and they had to bring a stage mockup, a costume they created and photos of themselves or someone they had made up as a pig! Once the interview was over, we started waiting again. Parents of students would be notified sometime around the first week in April.

Amara's first day of Kindergarten

April 1st rumors started flying that notifications were being sent. Jenna was freaking out every time an email hit her inbox! The waiting was killing all of us! Jenna got the notice on April 7th that Amara had been accepted! Amara is on Spring Break and Justin had taken the day off to take her to Disneyland! I’m pretty sure her and Justin’s screams of excitement could be heard all over the park! But she is not done at Santiago yet. There is still a lot to enjoy over the next few months — like The Father Daughter Dance!

Amara on her first day of 6th grade

It will be exciting to see what next year brings!
Congratulations to Amara and to her Mommy and Daddy, too!