When Contacts replace Glasses

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 25th, 2015 9 Replies

A few years ago, Amara started wearing glasses, which was not surprising since her Mom had worn them as a child and pretty much everyone else in the family wears them. She had asked her Mom when she started wearing contacts and her Mom told her to go ask me about that story.

Jenna's school photo in her glasses about 1985

It was the mid 80s and Jenna must have been about 12 or 13 when she decided she wanted to wear contacts instead of glasses. Jenna had worn glasses all the time since she was about four so you couldn’t blame her. I took her to the eye doctor at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. I don’t remember the name of the place but it was similar to Lens Crafter. After spending some time with the doctor who was unable to get the contacts into her eyes he sent us home – with the contacts! We would figure it out. I wore contacts at the time but they were and still are hard lenses so I wasn’t sure how much help I was going to be but she wanted them and she was convinced we would get them in – eventually – so home we went.

Jenna couldn’t even get her finger within 3″ of her eye without snapping her eye lids closed. She tried and tried. Then I tried and tried. There were many tears and a lot of frustration and 3 days later, they had still not been in her eyes but we had somehow managed to lose one on the bathroom floor. We found it all shriveled and dried up a few days later. I am thinking it was 5 years before she ever tried contacts again.

Last weekend Amara asked me when I had started wearing contacts. I was about 17 and I hated my glasses and couldn’t see a thing without them! I have very vivid memories of how much those contact lenses hurt that first week but I was determined! Now I just want to get cataracts so that I can have the surgery and throw my contacts and glasses both away!

Yesterday Amara had her eye doctor’s appointment and I got to go with her and her Mom. She needed to have her prescription increased and would need to start wearing her glasses most of the time. “What about contacts? I’ve been thinking about them for a while”, Amara said. Her eye doctor thought it was a great idea but Amara would have to go through the training to learn all about them. Unlike her Mom’s experience, Amara would have to learn to clean her lenses and take each one in and out 3 times by herself before she could take them home. She got a little frustrated at times but she did it! We were all so impressed. She started yesterday wearing them for 2 hours and would increase by 2 hours until she gets to 12 and that is her limit. We went shoe shopping afterwards and she loved being able to see so well without having her glasses on.

Amara in her new contact lenses and her pink and purple braces

She is just growing up much too quickly!

Jenna the Super Mom

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 15th, 2015 32 Replies

You may have seen me bragging about this over on Facebook but just in case you missed it, let me tell you that Jenna was just voted Parent of the Year for 2014-2015 at Amara’s school. We have all known that she is a great Mom, daughter, wife, friend and everything else but as Jenna put it so perfectly, “It is an honor just to be nominated, but it’s totally awesome to win too!” I am thrilled she got this much-deserved recognition.

She really does so much at Amara’s school and is loved and respected by students, parents, teachers and administration. One teacher even mentioned that Jenna and Justin needed to have more children so that they could keep them both around after Amara leaves the school. She is always a familiar face on campus and knows many of the students by name. They will all run to give her hugs or to get her advice. There have been many times when Jenna and I are at Target and a parent will approach her with “Don’t you work at the school?” They are always surprised when she tells them she just volunteers and no she isn’t paid. She is just doing what she loves to do and doing it very well.

Jenna as a Super Reader

I certainly don’t give my mother credit for who I am and I don’t take any credit for the amazing person that Jenna has turned out to be either. But she certainly is amazing and we are all very proud of her.

P.S. I want a bumper sticker that says, “My daughter is Parent of the Year at Santiago Elementary”.

Our Little Trumpeter

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 8th, 2015 32 Replies

Amara at the Honor Band ConcertA couple of weeks ago I went with Jenna to pick Amara up from school. When the bell rang, Amara came flying out of the classroom, “Grandma, I made Honor Band!” I swear she was so excited she was jumping 2 feet off the ground while she told me. I knew that she had gotten some special music to learn and that she would have to audition. I had promised her I would take her shopping for the music book of her choice if she made the cut. She was so excited to have been picked.

Santa Ana Honor Band Program

Every year the Santa Ana Unified School District presents “the Honor Band Concert featuring Outstanding Student Musicians from Elementary, Intermediate and High Schools”. Each level would perform two or three selections. The music teachers from each of the schools had selected their best. Their students had been practicing their pieces for the last week but it wasn’t until the day of the concert that 92 5th graders from 37 different schools came together for 3 hours to practice together!

They all looked so proud sitting on stage waiting to play and they never missed a beat. We were all impressed at how well they played and how professionally they all behaved.

You can click the pictures to go to larger view.

Once again, we are all very proud of Amara!

The Super Reader Project

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 5th, 2015 25 Replies

It has been a wonderful week to be a Grandma and to be the Cat in the Hat!

But I have to start at the beginning. A few months ago, the Santiago PTA received a $5000 Toolbox Grant from Lowe’s. The grant was awarded to create a Super Reader School at Santiago. I have been lucky enough to be on the Super Reader Project committee!

Just some of the guest readers

Our first focus would be National Read Across America Day, which takes place on Dr. Seuss birthday March 2, 2015. Since we didn’t receive the grant until January, it meant we really had to get busy. One of the things they wanted do was to also get the community involved. So to kick off Read Across America our friend Monique brought in speakers from all walks of life that went to the classrooms and read a Dr. Seuss book and a book of their choosing to the class. There was a Senator, 2 reporters, a police officer, a chiropractor, a military police officer and a stylist just to name a few – including Justin! The idea was to have children understand that at the end of the day the one thing all of these guests had in common was a love of reading.

Bookplate and front and back of Bookmark

The grant also allowed the PTA to give each classroom $50 worth of books that the teacher or class picked out themselves. We also wanted to give each student a memento of the day. Jenna designed a beautiful bookmark and matching bookplates to go into all of the new books so that years from now students will know how important they are to Lowe’s and the PTA. A bunch of us spent Sunday afternoon putting those bookplates in the books and organizing them for delivery to the classrooms. Everyone brought their kids and the kids spent time counting out the bookmarks and labeling them by teachers. A lot went into pulling Monday off!

Scholars helping count and label bookmarks

Monday morning began for the speakers with coffee, juice and baked goods. When the time came for them to go to their appointed classroom, one of the RAK Ambassadors escorted them. Mrs. S had been coached them on small talk the day before. They took their roles very seriously and I think they impressed our guests.

The Cat in the Hat with some of the RAK Ambassadors

After the guest speakers finished, Jenna and Mo turned into Thing 1 and Thing 2 and I turned into the Cat in the Hat. We spent the day delivering those books to the classrooms and giving the students their bookmarks. I wrote a Dr. Seuss style poem and the students loved it. I was swarmed by Kindergarten and 1st graders who wanted to shake my hand or better yet give me a great big hug.

The Cat in the Hat with Thing 2 and Thing 1 in the classroom presenting books

The students and the teachers were all excited to get their new books. Many of the teachers were spending the day reading and in one classroom they were all excited to share their Dr. Seuss books with me.

The Cat in the Hat and a roomful of Dr. Seuss readers

Last night was our big Book Fair and the PTA collaborated with Barnes & Noble Booksellers to do an online and in store book fair. The online event runs for 7 days and last night was our big in store event. A percentage of all the purchases would go to our school. I went in costume as the Cat again; Jenna dressed as the girl from A Bad Case of the Stripes and Mo was Amelia Bedelia from the book series. We even had Speedy show up – he is the school mascot! Our “Super Librarian” came to read to the students, as did our awesome vice-principal!

You can click the pictures to go to larger view.

It really has been a wonderful week to be a Grandma and to be the Cat in the Hat!

Fractured Fairy Tales

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 26th, 2015 27 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.