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!

March in AmaraLand — the Cliff Notes

Grandma Kc wrote this on April 1st, 2016 24 Replies

March has been a very busy month. I can always tell how busy by the number of pictures taken. Now let me try to catch you up on everything we’ve been up to lately.

Jog-a-thon kick off.

March 1st was the first ever Jog-a-thon Kickoff Assembly! The PTA had always wanted to do a school wide assembly to get the kids excited about running and to try to motivate them to raise more money; kind of like a pep rally. This was such a cool event! They brought in a fitness instructor from the local Fitness Boot Camp who got the kids all up stretching! Wish I could share those pictures! She was so motivational, too. She spoke to the students about always trying to do one more – raise one more dollar or do one more lap than last year. The PTA also brought in Miss California 2015. She re-emphasized the whole idea of just doing a little more. The kids loved it but my favorite moment was when I was escorting Miss California to the quad and one of the kindergartners commented to her, “I love your crown.” She was so sweet and replied back, “Me, too!” They really did a great job of getting the kids all ready to run. It will be interesting to see if they raise more money this year because of it.

Jog-a-thon Kick Off Rally

Science Fairs

Amara’s school is trying hard to bring more science to the school. The students have always done science boards but this year they kicked it up a notch. The students had to present their projects to different teachers. They also had scientists come in and judge them. In addition, every Thursday night for four weeks different grades put their projects on display for the parents to come and see. Amara and one of her friends did so well that they will be going on to the County Science Fair!

Amara holding her Science and Engineering Expo certificate

2 Jog-a-thons

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ve probably read about Jog-a-thon and how much I love my squirt bottle! You’ve heard it all before and if you haven’t you can read it here. This year was as much fun as all the others and in fact, it was twice as much fun – because we had 2 Jog-a-thons! Due to a field trip scheduled for the day of the first jog-a-thon, most of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students would be off campus on a field trip. So! We held a second mini-Jog-a-thon just for them the following week!

Amara in Seussical

Amara had also been busy getting ready for her role as Mrs. Mayor in Seussical Jr. It was an afterschool program that the PTA sponsored. It was just amazing to watch thirty-four 4th. 5th and 6th graders performing together after only 10 weeks together to learn their parts. The show was amazing.

Amara on stage as Mrs. Mayor is Seussical Jr

Sleepover and the Lazarus Effect

With all of this going on Amara still got to spend the night with us one weekend. Dinner and a movie has always been one of our things but finding the right movies lately has become more difficult. Gone are the days of Barbie movies! Grampy is very glad about that. Amara and I sat down together and started scrolling through Amazon and came across the Lazarus Effect and since it was PG-13 we went with it. She loved it and it was a pretty good movie. Now she wants to watch Pet Sematary but she may end up watching that with Mommy and Daddy. They love scary movies, too!

Bowling for Babies

The next day was the 4th Annual March of Dimes Bowling for Babies fundraiser. Amara and I have gone every year but this year I suggested she bring a friend. Bowling with a friend would be lots more fun than just bowling with Grandma.

I needed to stop by the bank for cash before we headed to the bowling alley. The bank happens to be across the street from another of their friend’s. Remember these are 6th graders. We pull into the parking lot and her friend has a HUGE homemade “Feel the Bern” sign in her window! I love that these young minds are aware of politics. I don’t care who they like I am just glad they are paying attention. We talked about it in the car and Amara thinks it would be wonderful to have the first woman president but not if she isn’t the most qualified person for the job! Pretty wise for her age. I love that her friends have all been talking about this and much like the rest of they can’t quite figure Trump out but he sort of scares them! I love these kinds of conversations with them. Amara has such great friends and we had a wonderful afternoon topped off with yogurt.

Cat in the Hat book distribution

I got to don my costume again and help deliver books to the classroom. The PTA bought books for each teacher’s classroom library. The money came from the proceeds of the Book Fair and the teachers get to choose the books! Of course, any day I get to be The Cat is a very good day!

Spring break

I can’t help but get on my soapbox and complain about the fact that every school has their break at a different time. Amara’s finally started today. We had the perfect first day. Jenna, Amara and I went to the pet store for hermit crabs supplies, shopping at Ross and a trip to Hobby Lobby so Jenna could get more embroidery floss. Amara and I are hoping to get to go to Rock n Jump while she is on break. If we go during the week they get their second hour free – like they could last that long! Plus, it is supposed to be 88 degrees her on Wednesday and Amara and I have a beach trip planned! She’s spending the night tomorrow night so more adventures are in our future, too.

Told you March was busy!

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 8th, 2016 31 Replies

It was a great day to be a cat.

Cat in the Hat with the Lorax

Cat in the Hat with the Lorax

I had been looking forward to playing the Cat in the Hat ever since I played him last year! Last year the PTA had celebrated Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’s birthday in a big way. They had received a grant from Lowe’s to help upgrade the school library and to bring new books to the classrooms. As part of that celebration, they also brought in about 20 special guests to read to the classes. While we didn’t have a grant with lots of money to spend this year we knew we wanted to bring back the guest readers and I knew I wanted to be The Cat again!

2016 Special Guest Readers

2016 Special Guest Readers

Last year I had delivered books to the classrooms with the help of Thing One and Thing Two. This year I would be one of the guest readers! We miss you Thing One.
The Cat in the Hat with Thing 2 and Thing 1 in the classroom presenting books

2015 The Cat in the Hat with Thing 2 and Thing 1 in the classroom presenting books

They had readers from all walks of life, the idea being that no matter what you want to be when you grow up you need to know how to read! As The Cat, I got to read to Kindergartners and 1st graders. Justin read excerpts from his own book as he did last year. This year Justin’s Mom was one of the readers and Jenna even read to some 3rd graders and some SDC students. They also brought in a head chef from one of our local restaurants, a realtor, a Politician, an attorney, a photographer, a studio artist, a doctor of chiropractic, a retired police office and business owner and many others. One of the return speakers was a graduate of Santiago who is a newspaper reporter. He spoke to one of the upper grade journalism classes and they loved him! There were also 2 (huge) football players.

TwursulaStoryBookI originally planned to read The Cat in the Hat since I knew I was reading to Kinders and 1st graders and I was dressed for the part. I had gotten to thinking on my way to Jenna’s that morning. Justin was reading his book to the students so maybe I should read my book to them. I’ve told this story before but when Amara was very little our kitten Twursula was lost for 2 weeks. As she grew older, I used to tell Amara the Twursula story at bedtime. At some point I thought I should turn it into a book for her through Shutterfly so I had. When I got to their house that morning I asked Amara if she knew where the book was and she did!

Cat-in-the-Hat with the Scholars

Cat-in-the-Hat with the Scholars

The kids really loved hearing all about Twursula and how hard we had looked for her. Of course, I ended up reading The Cat in the Hat to most of them too and I also read a book written by one of the teachers called Maggie Manners and the Tea Party. But the best part was when I was done reading, in each class I got mobbed and hugged! In one class there was a student crawling up my leg as I tried to balance while 20 others hugged me! Doesn’t get much better than that!

Cat-in-the-Hat getting a group hug

Cat-in-the-Hat getting a group hug

For me the fun lasted all day! I stood near the gates as the students arrived and had a blast having my picture taken with them. Same thing happened at dismissal. Cell phone cameras really do come in handy! I was having so much fun. I got so many great hugs!

Cat-in-the-Hat with Amara and friends

Cat-in-the-Hat with Amara and friends

I wrapped up my day as the Cat at the Book Fair at Barnes & Noble that evening. By then this Cat was exhausted and really needed a catnap!

The Cat in the Hat and Amara at the Book Fair

The Cat in the Hat and Amara at the Book Fair

It was a great day to be a Cat!

UPDATE: Pamela from Grandma Honey’s House wanted to share her grandsons being the Cat in the Hat but WordPress is being difficult and won’t let me add them to the comments but they are so cute I had to share them. 12768255_547353582108861_6177062576579058937_o 12794449_547352288775657_9052346658618832283_n

The Second Annual Mother Son Event

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 4th, 2016 26 Replies

I know I am behind in my blogging (and my reading) but we have been busy having fun! Someday I am going to get caught up!

Last year the PTA hosted their 1st Annual Mother and Son Event. I didn’t attend. It was a good thing I hadn’t volunteered as it was the day after I came down with those terrible shingles. As a reminder, if you are over 60 and haven’t gotten your shingles vaccine stop reading this and take time out to call your doctor. Shingles are not fun.

But let’s get back to what was fun. Last year the Mother Son event was a bowling party, which the boys and their moms enjoyed. The bowling alley has since closed so the committee planned the event at the local Rockin’ Jump. This place had everything from vertical rock climbing towers to a jousting area! Those boys had so much fun trying to knock their moms into the pit, which was filled with foam rubber blocks. Climbing out of those blocks wasn’t easy either!

Jousting Collage

They also had dodgeball arenas (on trampolines!) and one of the moms took a ball right to the head. She didn’t care, she got right up and started playing some more but the kid that got her was very proud! And when the kids weren’t jumping or climbing, they were lining up to pay extra to get into the Hurricane Simulator booth! They feasted on pizza, sodas and cupcakes and according to one Mom her boys were so exhausted they were asleep in the back seat before she got out of the parking lot!

I had volunteered to take pictures of the moms with their sons as I do at the Father Daughter Dances. It really takes 2 people to coordinate taking the photos. In order to keep everyone straight I have them hold the photo form with their name on it as a test shot. Then my assistant takes the form away from them and keeps them in the order taken. I needed an assistant! We put the call out to all the usual volunteers and we even posted a request on Facebook but most of the usual volunteers were going with their sons. I didn’t want them helping as I wanted them having fun!


Jenna called me the day before and said, “Well, I think I found you a volunteer for tomorrow.” The way she said it had me worried especially when she added, “You can’t look a gift volunteer in the mouth!” Oh my, who did she get? Did I mention I didn’t know I was on speakerphone? Jenna bursts out laughing and says, “You get Amara!” I was thrilled! I said. “I will have to do something nice for her” when she says, “Oh you already do enough things for me!” I had tears! I was touched! She was the best assistant, she was SO good about the fact she couldn’t jump, and she really wanted to!

Amara and Grandma Kc at Rockin Jump

Towards the end of the event Amara did get to play in the Hurricane Simulator and I promised her that 2 weeks from this Saturday I will take her and one of her good friends to Rockin’ Jump as a way of saying Thank You.

Just another chance for me to spend time with Amara!

Mom Pride

Grandma Kc wrote this on January 31st, 2016 19 Replies

For many years now I have made Amara calendars for special members of her fan club – OK, family! This year I really got a late start on them but they finally were mailed! The hardest part of making the calendars is picking out just the right pictures for each month. January 2016’s page needs photos from January of 2015 and so on. While that part takes the longest it is certainly, the most fun and I found some pictures that reminded me of posts that needed to be done. Still I procrastinated until a friend asked me to post to Facebook three of my favorite Mom moments. Here is that photo.

Jenna Collage

Early last year I told you about Jenna receiving the Parent of the Year award for Santiago. They had a huge celebration and presentation at the school board. It was an evening I will never forget. That was in April of last year.

The first week of June Jenna came to pick me up to do some shopping. Before I could get out the door, she came in the house looking very nervous. She had gotten a letter from the City. Not a letter to Justin or to the family but to HER. She was terrified to open it. I think we both cried when we read it.

Letter from the City Council

I was so glad I got to go! The awards were presented in the City Council chambers so we had to go through strict security procedures to get in. They even checked Amara’s purse and ran the metal detector over all of us. It was really very impressive. There were other recipients from other schools, too. Of course, we had to sit through a lot of other City Council business before they finally got to the important part but it was worth the wait. We were lucky enough to have gotten front row seats. It was another wonderful night of Mom pride. I couldn’t help but cry when they called her name.

Jenna certainly hasn’t let that award go to her head. She is not sitting back on her laurels this school year. She is President of the PTA and is loved and appreciated by all. She knows all of the teachers and most of the students by name. She does so much for so many of the students at Santiago. She is such an amazing person and such a positive influence. The students and teachers all know they can count on her and that she is there for them if they need her.

I am pretty sure Jenna has never said “No” to anyone! I am very proud of her.

Aliens, Gummies and Light Bulbs

Grandma Kc wrote this on January 25th, 2016 18 Replies

Amara at the track meetI know I say it all the time but we are so lucky living only a mile away from the Kids. We love being local grandparents. It means we get to see Amara a lot. Last Friday was the first PTA Popcorn Sale after school and Amara was right there to help run the fresh popcorn from the workroom to the sales table. She has PE as her last period and she seldom changes out of her gym clothes after school. She looked so cute running with that popcorn. It reminded me of her last track meet! If I hadn’t been there volunteering I never would have gotten to see her helping. She does make a Grandma proud. Of course, I am extra proud of Jenna for organizing the whole thing. She really is amazing.

It has been a while since I blogged about our typical sleepovers. Just because we see her often doesn’t make it any less fun or any less special. We just don’t do big thing like the Zoo every time. Instead, we do fun things together. More often, we do dinner and a movie at home. We do make lots of memories!

I had decided long before Amara arrived Saturday that I didn’t want to cook. I discussed it with Grampy and we agreed to let Amara decide where we should go or what we should do. I figured we would either go somewhere or get hamburgers or something to bring home to eat while we watched a movie. Amara was so glad I didn’t want to cook because she wanted pizza! She said she’d been craving it for days and it had been a long time since we had it so pizza it would be.

While we were waiting for the pizza, we decided on a movie, Independence Day. Amara and her Mommy have been binge watching the X Files in anticipation of the upcoming 6 episode special so I figured it was a good choice and it was. Amara really liked it. We promised her that when the sequel to Independence Day comes out we would take her to the movies to see it!

Amara making Gummies

I forgot to mention that Amara arrived with a bag of goodies Saturday night and announced – “We’re making gummies!” She had seen a video on making gummy Legos and while she didn’t have Lego molds she did have Star War molds, Easter Egg molds and heart molds! She and her Mommy had gotten all the Jell-O, Knox gelatin and Karo syrup that we would need. We were making gummies! It became our theme song on Sunday morning. Each batch did not make very many gummies so I think we ended up making 5 batches, the last one being a double batch of orange. We had fun in the kitchen and they were awesome! They smelled amazing and while I am not a big gummy fan a fresh cherry one is very tasty! Especially if you helped your Granddaughter make it and it was the first one she popped out and cut in half to share with Grampy and me. While the gummies were setting up, we had other things to do.

Idea for a decorated light bulbI had seen an idea on Facebook and it reminded me of the time that Amara made balloon animals. I just knew it was something I wanted to do with her so before she got here I had gone out and gotten some new light bulbs and a fresh set of Sharpies. She loved the idea and we had so much fun sitting at the dining room table making them, chatting and getting up every now and then to check her gummies! I have the best-lit bathroom in the world! Every time I turn on the lights, I will think of her! Now I have to add that I almost never have all of those bulbs screwed in because long ago we went on an electricity austerity program. I am going to have to rotate which ones are turned on. I don’t ever want them to burn out. Amara seemed so proud when I told her that no one else had lights in their bathroom like mine! Plus she and I each did one for the dining room! My lights just got brighter!

Decorated Light Bulb Collage

Since Amara’s gummies needed to set up for 4-6 hours she only unmolded the one heart and took the home to unmold. But she sent me pictures!

FInished Gummies Collage

It really was a great weekend!