Fifth grade reporter sends greetings

I have a large stack of cards from last year that never got stuffed, addressed or sent. The photo is stellar and professional, thanks to my photographer sister-in-law, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the time factor and the realization that sending Christmas cards stresses me out.

I promise I’m not a season’s greetings hater. I like to reflect on the year–good and bad–and dare I say, brag on my kids a bit. I just don’t always have the time and energy to pull off the mailed-card mayhem. I do, however, always have time for this little slice of the newspaper. So, with the special help of my very own “Fifth Grade Reporter” who came up with the questions and conducted interviews (yes, that’s a nod to you, HES), here’s our family Christmas letter:

Hello everyone. Your fifth grade reporter, Gracelyn, here. It is the middle of December 2018 and my mom asked me to help write our Christmas letter this year. With my lunch menu reporting skills, and my love for writing, I decided to help her out.

Our family had a fun year, including a vacation to Colorado.

Mom, what did you do on vacation this year?

“We stayed in a tiny house in Woodland Park, which was itself an adventure. We explored Garden of the Gods, drove up Pike’s Peak–which was terrifying–toured Cave of the Winds and hiked a couple trails–one of which was also terrifying. I really enjoyed the peaceful community park that was a couple blocks from our tiny house, and the brick oven pizza we had on our first evening in Colorado.”

While I’m interviewing you, what was your favorite house project this year?

“The two biggest house projects we tackled this year were remodeling the master bedroom and replacing the stair rail. It was exciting to rip out the old maroon carpet in the bedroom, and as we replaced it with our DIY hardwoods, I learned how to use the nail gun. That felt exhilarating. Replacing the stair rail made a big difference in our living space, and it was fun to work with your dad in designing and building it from scratch. I can’t wait to tackle the rest of the flooring on the main level this winter!”

Now for Jemma. She’s my 8-year-old sister who is in Mrs. Knoll’s third grade class. She’s working hard on learning her multiplication tables, but that’s not what she says was the hardest thing she did this year. Her hardest thing happened in gymnastics class at The Core of Hillsboro.

Jemma, what was the hardest thing you did this year?

“My back tuck. The back tuck is hard. When I started to learn, I kept doing back layouts instead. My coach, Rylee, helped me learn how to do a back tuck.”

Jemma, what’s something that was new this year?

“We got a new hedgehog named Hedgie! I wrote a persuasive essay for a school assignment about getting a pet hedgehog because they are my favorite animal. Mom and Dad have always said no when I asked before, but when I gave Mom my essay this time, she just laughed. The next day we drove to Emporia, and when we got there, Mom gave back my essay with a sticky note that said “yes”. I love having a new pet.”

Now, here’s my brother, Case. He is 6 and is in Mrs. Faul’s first grade class. This year he learned how to ride a tiny motorcycle before he learned to ride his bike without training wheels. That surprised my dad. A couple weeks later, he started riding his bike without training wheels, and I helped him learn!

Case, what was your favorite movie this year?

“The Grinch. Dad took me by myself to the theater because the girls didn’t want to go. The movie was funny. My favorite part was the screaming goat.”

Case, what was your favorite art project this year?

“The Grinch. I made it in art class at school, and it looks good!”

As for me, I have Mrs. Wiebe for my teacher this year. It is my last year at the elementary school, which Mom says she has a hard time believing. I tried swim team for the first time and enjoyed it. Mom and Dad said that me winning “most improved swimmer” for my age group made them cry a little. Weird.

One of my favorite parts of the year was going to STARBASE camp with my fifth grade class for a week. STARBASE is a day-camp where we learned about science, math and engineering. We also programmed robots and built rockets.

One of my least favorite parts of the year was sleeping at church camp away from home. But the camp during the day was awesome.

Now we’ll hear from my dad, Brad. He is the director of technology at USD 410. Next year I will go to school in his building. He knows cool stuff, like fixing cars and using power tools. He lets me use the power drill sometimes, and I helped him change the doorknobs on our front door.

Dad, what was your favorite song this year?

“My favorite song was “Joy” by For King and Country. It is a good reminder, and makes me smile.”

Like any good Fifth Grade Reporter, ending with a joke is important. My dad is the king of dad one-liners– “I did that once,” “Or we could just leave it,” “Who are you?”, and “I wish I were there.”

This has been a report by your fifth grade reporter. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Have a great day. Bye.

Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing, visit her blog,

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