Fractured Fairy Tales

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 26th, 2015 23 Replies

I love that Amara’s Dad is involved at her school. He works full time so he doesn’t get the opportunity to be there as much as her Mom does but he always takes the day off for special events like the trip to the OC Animal Shelter, The Gold Rush Days and Jog-a-thon — just to name a few. Recently he took the day off to speak to Amara’s class.

I asked Justin how this all came about. According to him, Amara’s teacher had asked him if he would come in and help with a writing project. Most of Amara’s classmates know Mr. Justin and they know that one of his books, Underhouse, is on the shelf in their classroom. Underhouse is not available to the public yet. He has also written 2 other books that are, Dúranaki Chronicles and Quarantine Lost. They are both available to download free at Justin’s site. As long as we are bragging about Justin let me just mention he is also an inventor on 4 patents.

Back to his visit to Amara’s class… He suggested making a parody musical of their play. Mrs. S’s class always does a play each year that ties in with something they are studying. Last year I got to see the 5th grade do The American Revolution and it was amazing. I can’t wait to see what she has planned for this year. But back to Justin, she already had fixed plans for the play. Instead, she suggested they work on Fractured Fairy Tales. They would be short parodies that the students would write and then perform.

According to Justin he spent about a half hour in the class giving a presentation to the students titled “So You Want to be a Writer”. He even created a 23-slide power point presentation. This is my favorite slide!

Justin's slide from his So You Want to be a Writer presentation

A month later, Justin took another day off and I went with him and Jenna to watch Amara’s table and a couple of others perform their Fractured Fairy Tales for some of the younger grades. I think I enjoyed watching it as much as the students did. My face hurt from smiling.

Since I had asked Justin about this project, I decided to ask Amara about it, too. I wanted to get her perspective on the whole thing. She said that Mrs. S had asked Daddy to come in and talk to them about “being more creative in their writing”. After he left each table (which is 5 students) picked a fairy tale to write a short parody they would act out. Her table had wanted to do Red Riding Hood but “another table got it first” so they were doing Jack in the Bean Stalk. They spent the first week coming up with ideas. They spent the second week writing their scripts, which “the whole table had to agree on” and apparently, that wasn’t always easy! Week 3, they practiced and made signup sheets so that the other teachers could sign up and the different groups would come and do their skit for their class. After each performance there was even a Q&A. Amara’s table began by explaining to their audience that they had to use a stand in as “Jack” had gone home sick! They were still great.

I am such a lucky Grandma to get to be part of all of this.

Why Jenna likes to Read

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 19th, 2015 25 Replies

There has been a lot of excitement at Amara’ school recently. The PTA received a $5000 grant from Lowe’s to help Santiago Scholars become Super Readers. They are planning a huge kickoff event for Read Across America over the first week of March. I am thrilled to be on this committee (more on that later). During one of our first committee meetings, Jenna, Amara’s Mommy, was relaying to the other Moms the story of why she loves to read. I love that Jenna tells this story. This is my version.

I missed out on many things when Jenna was growing up. She did too. I was working 70+ hours a week as a district manager for a restaurant chain in Michigan, which meant I wasn’t always was never there to help her with her homework or to tuck her into bed at night. I certainly never got weekends off. I was responsible for 5 stores and they were all many miles apart. I spent much of my working hours on the road driving. Most of the restaurants were at least an hour or two away and often I wasn’t there for very long. So sometimes on the weekend, I would take Jenna with me. She always got lunch (and ice cream) when we got there so she went willingly. She knew the staffs at all the stores. They spoiled her and she loved it.

Still, the drives got long. One of the fun things we did on those trips was to share whatever book I was currently reading – she would read it to me while I drove! My own personal audio book! If she got stuck on a word, she would spell it out. If I thought she should be able to figure out herself, I would encourage her to sound it out. If the word was just too big – I told her what it was and she went on with the story! We kept it fun.

Some of the books probably weren’t “child appropriate”. She was in the 3rd grade at the time and I was really into Stephen King. She loved and vividly remembers reading “Cujo” to me. I don’t think it did her any real harm. It certainly instilled in her a love of reading. She has always been an avid reader with a huge book collection, a Nook and a Kindle! These may not sound like the best of times but we both enjoyed and remember them.

Jenna's Library

Today, Amara is an avid reader, too with a book collection of her own. Her Daddy is a published author and started her life off by reading to her every night before bed until she finally reached the age of wanting to read to herself. She has been known to fall asleep reading with her lights on, just like her Mommy!

So our love of books and reading is passed to another generation.

Animal Lovers

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 13th, 2015 22 Replies

I’ve bragged about the fact that Amara belongs to the RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) Club at her school but I can’t help it. I love that they refer to themselves as Ambassadors of Kindness. There are thirty 5th graders in RAK. I know 30 sounds like a lot of 5th graders but keep in mind there are five 5th grade classes at her school. RAK meets every Friday morning an hour before school starts. You know it is important to these students or they wouldn’t be willing to give up an hour’s sleep.

Each trimester they pick a project to promote on campus and there most recent project was Cause for Paws. For the last month or so there have been signs and big blue boxes all over the campus at Amara’s school. They collected food and toys and even made 50 chew toys out of old blue jeans they collected. It was impressive how much they had collected.

The best part was last Friday when 20 of the RAK students, 10 middle graders from Leadership along with some parents and teachers delivered all of these items to the OC Animal Shelter. This is the same shelter where Grampy and I had gone so often to looks for Twursula when she went missing. The RAK Club teachers had arranged for everyone to get a tour of the shelter when they delivered their donation. Amara’s teacher had also arranged for SAUSD Channel 31 to send a reporter along to tape the visit. They then took that video and created the following music video for the shelter. I hope you enjoy it!

Santiago OC Animal Shelter Visit Music Video from sausdnews on Vimeo.

Road Rage

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 8th, 2015 25 Replies

As parents, we have probably all done something in front of our children that we look back on with regret. I made my mistake in front of Amara’s Mommy and her friend and I still feel guilty about it. It was around 1989 and I don’t think they called it road rage yet. I am embarrassed to admit it but for a few minutes I think I lost my senses and I raged.

What a terrible example to set for Jenna and her friend. They were about 15 at the time and we had just gone Christmas shopping. We were pulling out onto the street between the parking lot and Robinson’s Department Store when two girls stepped out into the crosswalk in front of us. I stopped in plenty of time but for some reason these girls had attitude! As they sauntered across the street they started taunting Jenna and her friend. One girl kept shouting, “What are you looking at?” I told the girls to be quiet and I was a bit frightened.

I drove a short distance to the corner and as I turned right the insanity overcame me. Those girls were walking and I was driving a 2000-pound car. Why was I intimidated? I drove around the block and went back looking for those girls. It was a short block and they were still strolling through the parking lot when we got back. I admit it. I chased those girls! I was going to teach them a thing or two. I only chased them in the parking lot and only for a very short distance. I never meant them any harm and I didn’t intend to hit or hurt them, I was just mad at them for being so aggressive. Wow, and what was I doing?

This was certainly not one of my prouder parenting moments.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who has had a momentary lapse in judgement.

A Banana Tattoo

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 3rd, 2015 24 Replies

No, Amara didn’t get a tattoo! She gave a banana a tattoo!

A couple of weeks ago she was telling me about an idea she saw on Pinterest for tattooing a banana! Yep, Amara has a Pinterest account! Unfortunately, I didn’t have any bananas. This weekend when she slept over I had bananas!

Amara tattooing a banana

I think she had forgotten but when I reminded her, she immediately grabbed her phone so she could check Pinterest, picked out the perfect banana and grabbed a toothpick. She sat down at the table and with each new thing she added she would bring it to me and Grampy to admire. She said the original tattoo artist used a pushpin so I found her a couple of those in different sizes. It was fun to watch her switch tools as she designed! She did all of this while the monkey bread baked and we waited for Mom and Dad to arrive. She couldn’t wait to show them her new art!

Amara scrambling eggs for breakfast

I fried the bacon and Amara asked me if she could be the one to cook the scrambled eggs. She has never done this at my house before – not sure if she has done it at home but she has certainly been watching. They were probably the best scrambled eggs any of us has ever had!

After breakfast Amara got her new camera out to take pictures of her banana art. This meant I had to get my camera out and take pictures of her banana art. Jenna laughed, “The banana has its own paparazzi.”

The tattooed banana and after it was peeled

Amara told me the tattooing wouldn’t do anything to the banana so yesterday I peeled it and she was right! With the exception of some tiny dots where the cat and owl eyes were you couldn’t even tell. I sliced it up and put it in Jell-O for Grampy! Sometimes it is the simplest things that are the most fun.

New Cameras

Grandma Kc wrote this on January 26th, 2015 28 Replies

Many months ago, I started begging Grampy for a new camera for Christmas. Nine and a half years ago, he had given me my current camera for a wedding present! He knew I really wanted a new camera back then and he had been reading up on the soon to be released Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT. (I knew none of this at the time.) He really wanted me to have it for our honeymoon to Sedona and the Grand Canyon but it wasn’t released until a month later. I took my first picture with it on June 23, 2005. I have loved that camera but even my cell phone had a camera with 12 megapixels. My Canon only had 8 and as much as I loved that camera, I really wanted a new one.

I did my homework and read up on when was the best time of year to buy a new camera. The answer is December as the new models have usually just come out and you can get great deals on the older model. Perfect! I was thrilled at the idea of getting the Rebel T3i and in October, I started watching prices on the body only for a T3i. I already had 3 lenses so I was hoping to find a great deal.

Every morning as part of my routine, I would check Google shopping and Amazon and every day the price was the same. It was about a week before Christmas when I found a late Black Monday sale and the price was amazing! For at least 12 hours, I didn’t breathe and I debated whether to do it. I am NOT a spontaneous shopper! I have to beat things to death! But I did it! I ordered it and I was so excited.

Until I got up the next morning to an email from the company saying I had to phone in to confirm my order. I just did not have a good feeling about it! I called and was on hold forever before hanging up and calling back only to be on hold for 5 minutes again before I hung up! I replied to their email that if they wanted to confirm my order, here is my phone number – you call me! Within 5 minutes, I had an email reply apologizing and asking me to dial through to an extension. Still not feeling good about this but I called back. The man I spoke with, who could in no way could be called a gentleman began with a very confrontational attitude to tell me that I would NOT have it by Christmas. I tried to be patient and told him I knew that but for the great price, I was willing to wait. This is when he got really nasty and says the reason it is so cheap is that there is no lens or battery included. I again patiently told him I was upgrading and already had the lenses. He comes back with, “Yes, but your battery won’t fit and the battery and charger are $200. Yours won’t fit – go check, I’ll wait!” My reply was, “Just cancel the order.” “Fine!” And he hung up on me!

I was so disappointed! On the other hand, I had new resolution. I was not buying my camera until the price came down somewhere reputable like Amazon.

Waiting turned out to be the exactly right thing to do. On January 7th, I took my daily Amazon visit. The T3i body was on sale at the same price it had been since October only this time I noticed there was an ad for the T5i body. Better yet, it was only $40 more than the T3i was and it even came with lots of extra stuff! Seven long days later it arrived and I have been in love with my new camera ever since.

Now I must back track for a moment. One day when I first began discussing with Jenna how much I wanted a new camera, Amara asked if she could have my old one when I did. I thought about it for 5 or 6 seconds and said yes. Later I decided I probably should ask her parents what they thought of the idea. They had actually discussed it and thought that Amara was mature and responsible enough.

I went through the camera drawer, got out all of the manuals, the extra battery and the charger, and put them in the spare camera bag for her. I let her have the original lens that came with the camera. I even gave her the new tripod that came with the new camera. I already have a good one and she was thrilled that she could put the camera on the tripod and set the time and jump in the picture! But the first pictures she took were of her longtime friend Twursula. And of course, I had to take a picture of her taking those first pictures! She will be 5th generation camera bug!

You can click the center pictures to go to an even larger view of cuteness.

PS I love that when I got to her house this morning she was taking pictures of her new kitten, Walter!

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