Looking Back

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 25th, 2014 6 Replies

This will be Amara’s 11th Thanksgiving. We don’t always get to spend the actual day with her and her parents but we are very lucky to get to see them all the time! We have so many great memories (and pictures). It really is fun to look back on each of those Novembers and see just how much our little girl has grown!

You can click the picture below to make them larger.

This Thanksgiving we are all spending at her home. The Kids are deep frying a turkey and it will probably be the best Thanksgiving yet. I hope you enjoy yours!

The Worst Driver Ever

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 15th, 2014 25 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

My mother really was the worst driver ever. I remember when we moved to California and she had to take the driving test. She proudly told the story of how she almost failed because she didn’t know the three hand signals. She explained to the tester that in Michigan no one stuck their hand out the window to signal – it might freeze! She talked him into passing her. He really shouldn’t have!

I don’t remember my mother ever buying a new car. She always bought very well maintained used cars and usually they were Oldsmobiles. Those cars would quickly go from being in great shape to have dents everywhere! We hadn’t been in California for more than a week when the CHP pulled up behind her with his lights going. Since she was in the fast lane, she just pulled to the left and stopped! The policeman was not amused. He had to do a traffic break so that she could pull back into traffic and merge all the way to the right. She did not talk him out of that speeding ticket! Of course, there was also the time that the motorcyclist ran into her. She said she wasn’t to blame. We used to joke that mothers should get their children off the sidewalks when my mom was driving.

I remember one time when I was about 8 that we drove for miles with a police car behind us flashing his lights. She was sure it was my Uncle and that he was just clowning around. It wasn’t my uncle and she did get a ticket!

But what I remember most were the number of times my mother hit the fire hydrant at the end of our driveway and broke it off! Our house sat at the top of a hill with a horseshoe shaped driveway that went all the way around it. The fire hydrant sat to the left of the driveway just a few feet from the street. While that hydrant was painted bright red, my mother somehow managed not to see it more than once. There was the time she was turning into the driveway and managed to miss the driveway completely and hit the hydrant! Yes, there was a geyser! I remember sitting in the car and wondering if it would ever stop. She hit that hydrant at least twice when our driveway was coated with ice. She couldn’t get enough traction to make it up the drive and the car slid backwards and hit it. Now we had frozen geysers and that made the driveway even worse!

I see pictures from the fifties and sixties of children playing in the water of the fire hydrants. I do remember times when they would open the hydrants in the summer but what I really remember most is the times my mother opened it with the car! I have to wonder if any of the people who have lived in the house since have had so much trouble navigating the driveway.

The house I grew up in with the fire hydrant out front.

This picture is courtesy of my sister Sandy who went and took it for me. Of all the photos I have of the front of that house I couldn’t find any that included the fire hydrant. Thank you baby sister!

Fun with Amara

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 7th, 2014 21 Replies

Now for the important stuff! Last time I told you about all the fun I’ve had at Amara’s school lately. This post is all about the fun we’ve been having with Amara at our house.

Amara jumping

One of the best things about living so close by is that we get to see Amara a lot. I got to pick Amara up from school a few times last month. If I am going to pick her up from school, I usually plan to do it on Wednesdays as they get out early on Wednesdays. Wednesday is also band day. This means that Grampy and I have gotten some spontaneous concerts. She loves her new trumpet and she is sure improving.

Amara playing her trumpet for Grandma and Grandpa

I picked her up the Wednesday before Halloween. We were going to make a Halloween surprise for Mommy, Daddy and Grampy! I had seen a cute idea online for Candy Corn Parfaits and we were going to make them! They were very simple, just pudding, cake and Reddi-Wip. Oh, and some candy corns to top them with! Jenna just loves candy corn. I made an orange cake (with extra electric orange food coloring of course) while she was in school so that it would be ready. I let her make the vanilla pudding with electric yellow food coloring. I smiled when she told me she, “had to be careful and not use to much or else you would be able to taste it”. I love that she knows this stuff! We made the candy corn parfaits in little Ball jars and they came out really cute although next time we would wait to whip them until right before serving as it did kind of melt. So we just added more!

Amara and her candy corn parfaits

Amara spent the night with us last Saturday night. She had brought a movie but Grampy vetoed watching Beauty and the Beast for the jillionth time! Lucky for Grampy I had been out on Netflix trying to find something else we could watch and had stumbled upon the old 1991-1994 TV series, Dinosaurs. Grampy and I had loved this series when it was on but we weren’t sure how Amara would feel about it. She seemed very skeptical of it at first and I told her she only had to watch one episode and if she hated it, we would never watch it again. When it finished she proclaimed, “I loved it!” and wanted to watch another episode!

Sunday morning I asked her what she wanted to do for breakfast and I suggested we might want to try making a coffee cake, something we hadn’t done yet. She liked the idea but what she really wanted was pancakes! So blue and purple pancakes it was! We followed that up with a bike ride. It was such a beautiful day and the sky was so pretty after the little bit of rain we had gotten.

“Now what?” “Do you want to bake something?” She finally decided she wanted to make cake, a white cake but colored every color of the rainbow! Why not? She got her batter all made and we had 6 bowls on the counter along with the 6 required food colors. Food colors are something I try to keep a lot of on hand. The only thing I was allowed to do in the making of this cake was to divide the batter into the bowls. She did everything else and made all of the decisions. I found some mini-M&Ms up in the cupboard. She carefully sorted them by color into 6 more small bowls.

When the cake was finally cooled, she topped it with some yummy buttercream frosting she had made. Then instead of using those M&Ms to make a rainbow or something she just started scattering them all over the cake! I asked her why she had bothered to sort them and she just grinned. I think she did it so she could eat a bunch when she thought Grandma wasn’t looking! There was not a clean bowl, utensil or piece of silverware anywhere in my kitchen when she left on Sunday. It was so worth it.

Amara and her rainbow cake collage

I also picked Amara up this Wednesday. She had started growing some crystals over the weekend and I wanted her to see how they were doing! Of course if I was going to pick her up we really ought to go have yogurt afterwards and so we did!

blue crystals growing in a bowl

I love that she is only one mile away!

Fun at School

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 5th, 2014 27 Replies

I’ve had a lot of fun over the last few weeks. Not all of the fun events were exactly centered on Amara. Some were centered on her school. This post is about some of those school activities. The next one will focus exclusively on Amara and our recent fun together.

Of course, anytime I do anything at Amara’s school it means I get lots of extra hugs and kisses just because I am on campus and I can! Plus these days usually involve seeing her before school and sometimes even afterwards, depending on how long I am there. Sometimes I am lucky and even get hugs from other students. A Grandma can never get too many hugs!

Kc and Jenna at Movie Night October 24, 2014

Last month I volunteered for my third Movie Night. I got to be the greeter! Living in southern California, we can have outdoor movies on the grass in the middle of October and it will still be warm enough for shorts. Movie Night is a free event that the PTA sponsors each year. Of course, Jenna volunteered and Justin was the official “child wrangler”! He watched over some of the PTA kids while their Moms worked the event. The movie is free but they do sell food, drinks, popcorn and fun essentials like glow sticks! It was so neat to look out on a sea of shadows twirling and spinning glow sticks before the movie started. There were some technical difficulties and the movie started a bit late so it was a good thing the kids could entertain one another.

FIBO collage of Amara and her class

The Tuesday before Halloween was the first FIBO art presentation at Amara’s school, another PTA sponsored event. It was also crazy hat day. I went with Jenna to help out, take pictures and just to enjoy it. It meant I got to see Amara before school and when her class came in for their presentation. I got lots more hugs! The presentation was about Osamu Tezuka, The Father of Manga! It was incredible and it certainly sparked the interest of the students. Over the next few days, they had hands on instruction in their classrooms, too. I didn’t get to be there for that but I did pick Amara up that day and she was so excited about what she had learned.

Italian Street Art Collage October 30, 2014

The FIBO art presentations had been for Kindergarten through 5th graders. Thursday the PTA presented Italian street painting for the 6th through 8th grades. I was with Jenna at school all day as a volunteer photographer. They had the same wonderful artist last year. She helped them to create these beautiful chalk masterpieces. Again, we got so lucky with the perfect weather. The students loved it so much that after school was dismissed some of the students came back to do more! Some even brought younger brothers and sisters along to help, too. Amara is hoping they will bring her back again next year when she is in the 6th grade!

I am so glad that we live close to The Kids and Amara and that I have the opportunity to be part of all of this!

Shenanigans with Sandy

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 26th, 2014 25 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

So I told you the story of the first time I met my sister Sandy. I shared the story of the first time Amara met Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark. I’ve posted about my trip home to Michigan in 2012 and spending the week with Sandy and Mark. However, there are many little stories from when Sandy and I were younger that I haven’t shared and this seemed like the perfect time.

The best-known story is the one about the blueberry muffins. We still haven’t lived this one down. Mom Number 2 had made muffins for dinner one night while I was there. They were by far the best blueberry muffins I had ever eaten. Michigan has huge blueberries that just burst with flavor. I had become accustomed to the little tiny (and expensive) things they call blueberries in southern California. Mom’s blueberry muffins have become my most requested food item anytime I go home.

But back to the first time, Sandy and I shared her room whenever I visited. She had bunk beds and I got the top bunk. We knew that if those muffins were left downstairs in the kitchen our little brother John would eat them all before we got anymore. So we took them to our room. We ate some and we may have forgotten and left the rest under the bottom bunk. The ants found them and so did Mom Number 2. I remember the phone call I got about a week later, “Did you girls hide blueberry muffins under Sandy’s bed?” I was scolded! I really was part of the family.

John and Pooh eating ice cream

A side note to the bunk beds. Back then Sandy was terrified of thunderstorms and I used to tease her about it. I was afraid of earthquakes having just gone through the 1971 Sylmar quake. Sandy used to think it was cute to shake the bed frame of those bunks and yell, “Earthquake!” I loved having a little sister!

That same trip Sandy and I dropped water balloons on the heads of John and one of his friends from the bedroom window. At 20, I probably wasn’t setting the best example for my 12-year-old sister or 8-year-old brother but I had never had a brother before and it was fun! Sandy claims to have no memory of this event. Since John went running and whining to Mom Number 2 about it, I bet she remembers! I am pretty sure she told us girls that we had to stop!

During one of my visits to Michigan Mom had to work some of the days I was there. She let me take her to work so I could use her car. Sandy and I went to Jonesville so that I could visit some of the places from my childhood. Mom and Dad’s anniversary was in another week so we decided to drive to Coldwater and get them a gift certificate for Gracie O’Shanahan’s. It was one of their favorite places to go. We were about halfway there when the DJ on the radio station said it was 4:45. There was complete panic as we were supposed to be back to pick Mom up from work at 5 PM. I may have exceeded the speed limit trying to get back. When we pulled up Mom wasn’t out front waiting for us as we expected her to be so we parked and went inside. She was working away and the clock on the wall read 4:10. wW had been listening to some rock station out of Indiana. From 1970 – 2006 Indiana didn’t observe daylight savings time. We were early!

Sandy and John a few months before I met them.

I have other shenanigans with Sandy to share but they will just have to wait until next time.

Meeting Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 23rd, 2014 16 Replies

This is another episode of Previously on Amara and comes from June of 2009. Amara would have been 5 years old.

This was the summer that Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark rode their Harleys from Michigan to southern California and back. Yes, my sister is a biker chick! Amara and her Daddy had never met Aunt Sandy and no one but me had met Uncle Mark. They had a wonderful ride cross-county and met all sort of interesting people along the way but we like to think the best part of the trip was when they arrived here.

We have a large map of the United States on the wall in the hallway, Amara and I had been talking about how far it was from Michigan to California, and every day of their trip, I would show her where they were on the map. I explained to her that they do speak English in Michigan. It was the longest day ever waiting for them to finally arrive. We had a big lasagna dinner planned and Amara was so excited to finally meet them. They were tired when they finally got here but it was a wonderful evening.

Sandy went with me and Jenna to pick Amara up from preschool the next day. It was the last week of school. It was so fun to watch Amara yell across the playground to one of the other teachers, “This is my Aunt Sandy. She rode her motorcycle all the way from Michigan just to meet me!” We four girls had a wonderful lunch that day and Amara told the waitress the very same thing! Such pride, it was so cute to watch.

While Amara was certain Aunt Sandy came solely to see her Sandy and I hadn’t seen each other in years and we couldn’t wait to spend time catching up. We spent one afternoon just sitting and chatting about everything and nothing while Sandy ran some laundry. They had been on the road for 12 days by the time they got to our house and doing laundry with me was a lot more fun than the Laundromat!

Sandy and I also played tourist and went to the Crystal Cathedral, which is just a few short blocks away. The grounds and all the statues are just amazing regardless of your religious beliefs. The cathedral itself is just breath taking. But because the Cathedral is made of glass, it is not air-conditioned. I can’t begin to imagine how hot it must get in there when we have some of our triple digit heat and it is over 100 before 11 AM.

But what neither of us could really believe was the bathroom! OMG, it belonged in a palace somewhere! I understand that God’s church is supposed to be beautiful to honor him but I don’t see any reason bathrooms for us mere mortals need to be so lavish. Think of all the food that could have been bought with the money they spent on marble tiles, gold fixtures and cherry wood stalls. I wish we would have had one of our husbands with us so we could have had them check out the men’s room!

Their last evening with us Jenna cooked an amazing taco dinner and we celebrated my birthday a week early. Jenna even baked me a special cake. Sandy and Mark got to meet all of the Kids animals especially Uri (Upper repertory infection) who at the time was the youngest of the cats and very lovable. We spent part of that evening Wii bowling – Amara rules at Wii bowling and had even earned her gold bowling ball. She was very focused on her game! I think she beat all of us that night.

Those few days went very quickly but none of us will ever forget them. Amara hasn’t gotten a chance to see her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark since then but having met them, she knows who they are and talks about them all the time!

Family is important and Amara loves hers.

The pictures will display much larger if you click below.