Meeting Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mark

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 23rd, 2014 6 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 three 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.

Fifth Grade Fun

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 12th, 2014 28 Replies

A friend sent me an email the other day and asked, “How is our 5th grade pumpkin doing?” It got me thinking that many little things have happened since the new school year started.

After having 11 teeth pulled the first week of summer vacation, Amara got her new pink and purple braces put on the week before school started. Let me tell you, things have changed. When I was in school or as recently as when Amara’s Mom was in school, braces were not cool! Of course, they weren’t pink and purple either! She is so proud of her braces and couldn’t wait to show them to everyone on her first day back to school.

Amara sporting her new braces and her uniform!

The first week back Amara was invited to join the RAK Club, which stands for Random Acts of Kindness. To be invited the teacher challenged the students to go out over the weekend and do a random act of kindness for someone. They then had to write a report about what they did. The teacher took those reports and the photos most of the students had and created a RAK quilt out of them using construction paper to make it look like a quilt and she hung it in the Media Center.

The RAK Quilt

For her act of kindness, Amara purchased a lottery ticket for an elderly lady at the grocery store! Her Grandpa Jay loves to buy lottery tickets and I think she thought this was a very special thing to do for someone on a limited income. The lady was very touched!

Amara and her new trumpet

Music classes have started again. Last year Amara played a rental trumpet. This year her other Grandparents bought her one of her very own! She was so excited to show it to me, “It has 2 mouth pieces Grandma!” It came with a beautiful padded case and Amara bought herself a new music book that fits right in the side! I love that she has chosen the trumpet to play!

Haster Basin Recreation Area

Recently Amara decided we needed to have donuts for breakfast. We hadn’t had donuts in a very long time and on our way back we realized that the park where we used to feed the ducks had finally reopened. It is now the Haster Basin Recreation Area and is part of the flood control system. We decided to go back after donuts and check it out. I wanted to take my camera and Amara wanted to take her sketchpad so that she could sketch landscapes. We took a couple of baggies full of birdseed in hopes of feeding the ducks. The park is beautiful but you can no longer get close to the ducks or the birds. Amara and I talked about the fact that with the California drought, the water levels are very low and it looks like they have built the basin in hopes of them someday being much higher.

Amara sketching the landscape at Haster Basin

Amara’s most recent excitement is Camp OSCA. OCSA is a charter school for grades 7-12 and each year they offer 10-week free beginning level arts training workshops in dance, drama, guitar, vocal music or visual arts for students in grades 4 through 6. Amara is taking drama – acting! To make it even better one of her best friends is in the class with her, which is extra special because they are not in the same classroom at school this year.

On top of all of this Amara is still taking her art classes every Saturday and she informed me last week that her teacher has entered two of her pieces into some contest. I have no details. Yet!

The Computer Club hasn’t started back up yet this year but Amara can’t wait for that, too!

It is going to be another wonderful year!

The Book Fair-ie

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 7th, 2014 25 Replies

When I told some of my Grandma friends that I was volunteering at the Dollar Book Fair and that the volunteers were all going to dress up my friend Grandma J came up with a brilliant idea. I should go as The Book Fair-ie! She suggested I sprinkle glitter over the students when they purchased a book but we both decided that could get messy and glitter is expensive. So I waved my wand instead!

Book Fair-ie in training. Kc at age 12 months

Book Fair-ie in Training

The theme for the Book Fair was “What is your Super Power” and all of the books were one dollar! Most of the volunteers dressed up as their favorite Super Hero and everyone had a great time. Jenna was the Super Reader and if you knew my daughter, you would know how true that is.

Jenna the SUPER Reader and 4 SUPER Scholars

It was so fun to watch students get stacks of books! One Mom even told us that her house had recently burned down and she loved the she could replace 18 books for $18. There wasn’t even any tax! This made it so easy for the kids, too. With the regular book fairs, the volunteers spend a lot of time helping the students count their money and then find a book that they can afford to buy. This was so simple! They would come in with their teacher and their dollar bills held tightly in their fists.

Dollar Book Fair after setup

The students loved my Book Fair-ie costume, especially my wings and my wand. A few little girls may have even borrowed my wand once or twice! It had tulle on it and they loved that! On Friday, Jenna asked me to go to some of the different classrooms to deliver Book Bucks to the teachers. This was definitely the best part! Parents and students had purchased Book Bucks for the teachers so that they could purchase books for the classroom. I went to each class and knocked before entering. As I opened the door and went in their eyes got very big and so did their smiles. I explained that, “I am the Book Fair-ie and I am here to deliver books to your teacher.” The teachers all played right along and I now know how it would feel to dress up as Santa! It was magical. As I left I waved my wand and told them all to be sure to read and to come visit the Book Fair. It may have been the most fun I’ve ever had volunteering. My face hurt from smiling!

Kc the Book Fair-ie and 2 Book Fair helpers

I love volunteering at Amara’s school! It gets me lots of extra hugs from Amara and from many of her friends, too. Plus I get to hang out with Jenna and some really cool PTA Moms (and Dads!). Hanging out with these young people is helping me to stay younger!

What is your SUPER power?

2,566 books were sold last week!
I can’t wait until I get to be the Book Fair-ie again!

Caffeine Crazies

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 4th, 2014 28 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I don’t know how my mother got up in time for work when we lived in Michigan. I do know that when we moved to California it became my responsibility to get up, make her coffee, bring it to her and wake her up. I would sit there while she drank that mug and then go back to the kitchen to make her a second one while she got up and started to get ready. I couldn’t just hand her that first cup and leave as she was likely to set it down and go back to sleep.

This coffee ritual started when I was 13 years old. I really don’t remember when it ended.

I do remember her brown mug. For years, she drank her coffee out of a very large brown ceramic mug. Fortunately, she liked instant but it had to be made exactly right. It needed to be strong but more importantly it needed to be the perfect temperature for guzzling. It had to be just hot enough to wake her up but cool enough that she could drink the cup straight down. I became an expert at getting that coffee the perfect temperature. She wasn’t the kind of mother to hand out praise very often so getting the coffee right was a big deal.

mom in front of the nursing school on graduation day

I was also in charge of making sure my mom’s nursing uniform was clean and pressed. This was back when nurses wore a white uniform, white stockings, white nursing shoes (I was also in charge of making sure they were polished) and their white nurse’s cap. I was never allowed to press her cap but I remember standing there and watching her as she carefully pressed the black ribbon onto a new cap and then carefully folded it. That black stripe was very much a status symbol. It meant she was an RN and she really was proud of that.

mom's nursing school graduation picture with her stripe on her cap

I don’t know why I was in charge of her uniforms but I do understand why I was in charge of the coffee. Both my mom and sister could sleep through anything! That never changed! I remember Judy sleeping through the first earthquake we ever experienced. It happened the first month we lived in California. We were still staying with my aunt and uncle which meant Judy and I shared the very uncomfortable sofa sleeper. I was wide-awake and terrified! She was sleeping.

As a grownup, Judy could set two alarm clocks and sleep through them both. Like my mother, she needed her caffeine when she woke up so she came up with the most disgusting concoction. She would pour herself a large Pepsi over ice and top it with a spoonful of instant coffee! She drank it with a straw because it would bubble up out of the glass like some strange science experiment and she had to drink it fast so it wouldn’t overflow onto the table. It was really was disgusting!

Judy in the early seventies

Is it any wonder I never learned to like coffee until I was 20 and working nights at the phone company?

Just Frittering Around

Grandma Kc wrote this on September 24th, 2014 27 Replies

Ever since Amara and I started making monkey bread together 3 years ago, I have made monkey bread for the Teachers Appreciation Breakfast put on by the PTA the week before school starts. Last year when I did it, I whined for days because my car and kitchen smelled so good from monkey bread and I never got any! This year since the breakfast was on a Friday I informed Amara that when she slept over we were getting up and making monkey bread for Grandma Kc! I did share. We made 2 loaves and Mommy and Daddy joined us for breakfast. That monkey bread was so delicious. The scent in the car had just about driven me crazy by Sunday.

Teachers Appreciation Breakfast Table

Teachers Appreciation Breakfast

When we were done eating Amara announced that she thought we needed to learn how to make apple fritters. A few days later, I was visiting Treasure Box Tuesday over at Yesterfood and one of the featured recipes was for Apple Fritter Bites. It seemed like an omen and I emailed it to Amara for her approval.

When she spent the night with us last weekend the big plan was to get up on Sunday morning and make them. Saturday night we watched the Great and Powerful Oz for the 3rd time! The things we will do for our grandchildren. Grampy says he can now recite whole sections of it from memory!

After the movie, Amara took a bath. This is quickly becoming part of our routine. We don’t always do it but we definitely do it when she comes armed with a Pinky Pie glow stick! This nighttime bath ritual consists of me lighting a big candle on the vanity, she throws 2 or 3 glow sticks in the tub, and I turn off the lights! This time we added her Pinky Pie Wand and I added some Vaseline Gentle Breeze bath beads to the water. She loves that the water turns blue and I really think it relaxes her. She sleeps so peacefully afterwards.

At least until Grandma comes in and wakes her up. We bring our cats in at night and I couldn’t find them anywhere. Since I had been out in the garage doing laundry I thought that maybe one of them was out there. Of course, the only door into the garage is in Amara’s room. I was fine until I shut the door and she just bolted upright in bed! I told her it was just me and that I was looking for Twiggy and Twursula. She kind of glares and me and says, “Well, can I have a drink of water?” and she flops over on her side. She has water right next to her bed so I took the cap off it and stood there waiting. “Amara, do you want to drink this water?” She turns and kind of looks at me and says, “Sure” and rolls over and goes back to sleep. She remembered none of this in the morning!

When she finally got up Sunday morning she decided what she really wanted was a bubble bath and for me to wash her hair! Like most households, on school nights a shower and washing her hair are not leisurely activities! At Grandma’s you can play in the tub as long as you want and she did.

Amara mixing up the apple fritter bites

When she was finally done, we set about making apple fritter bites. Grampy thought he would die of starvation before we got them done. They were delicious! I peeled and chopped the apple. Amara had grated the top of her knuckles at her house the other day helping Mommy cook. I was not risking any kind of injuries! I also did all of the frying but Amara did everything else. She found all the ingredients and did all of the measuring and stirring. Cooking with her is so much more fun than doing it alone!

Apple Fritter Bites coated with glaze

Amara declared the apple fritter bites to be better than any of the monkey breads we have made so far. Grampy liked them but he still likes the original monkey bread the best. Amara had a moment of inspiration and said, “Why not combine them?” It is now our goal to create an apple fritter monkey bread. I went looking for recipes and didn’t find exactly what we want. I think this one we may create ourselves.

There will be pictures!

Her First Crush

Grandma Kc wrote this on September 19th, 2014 25 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

This story isn’t exactly about me it is about my sister, Judy. But I was there to watch it all.

I think she was in kindergarten so I would have been in 1st grade. It was probably springtime as I remember we were upstairs in our room, the windows were open, and the curtains were blowing. It is bizarre the things that I remember. Judy had brought two friends home from school with her. One was her best friend from down the street, the one from the peanut butter fudge episode. The other was a boy! My sister really liked this boy, too. You remember how crushes were when you were 5 or 6 and you just wanted to chase boys.

And kiss them.

Well at some point Judy snuck downstairs and got my mom’s red lipstick out of the bathroom and brought it back upstairs. She and her friend applied a heavy coat of it and proceeded to shower the boy in question with kisses all over his face and head. He had the typical buzz cut boys had in the 50s so those red lipstick marks showed up really well! I have no idea where my mother was while all this was going on but when the giggling and squealing got loud enough she came charging upstairs to see what was going on.

There he sat covered in kisses and there they stood giggling over what they had done. I was quietly trying to retreat to a corner where I wouldn’t somehow be blamed for all this. She was very angry with them because now she was going to have to call his mother. It was about then that she grabbed the tube of lipstick from my sister and really began to fume. It wasn’t just lipstick; it was her new red indelible (and very expensive) lipstick. Those kisses were not going to be coming off anytime soon! My mom was really going to have some explaining to do.

kisses everywhere

The boy did not come to school the next day!