Happy New Year!


Yep, I’m still talking about 2019. But on the bright side, I am almost caught up! You’d think a “Happy New Year” post would wrap things up, but I have one “these moments are too cute not to post” that you won’t want to miss!

Anyway, back to this post… On Christmas Day, my college roommate (and sister from another mother), Tara came out with her fabulous family to stay with us! It was another jam-packed kidfest that, like Thanksgiving, was filled with adventures. Oh, and before I forget to explain, the beautiful pretzel that was bigger than Ella’s head at the end of the last post was a gift from Tara for Christmas.

Our first day together included a trip to the BEACH, because people who live in Wisconsin apparently miss the beach. Which is ironic, since some folks who live in LA rarely go to the beach… You always want what you don’t have. But anyway, we headed to La Cabana, an iconic mexican restaurant that’s been in Venice since 1963.

Then we headed over to Venice Beach, a colorful, lively beach you’ve probably seen in movies, for some real beach action. Here’s the before picture:


I say “before” since, though I never would have guessed that in 59-degree weather (and who knows how cold the water was) any of these kids would touch that water. Which is why we didn’t bring suits or even shorts for our girls. Then they started picking up shells near the water. Then they rolled up their leggings. And then:


That’s a little girl who got fully doused in water and was bawling about it. So THEN my sweet husband went up and down the beach seeking beach towels (which we also hadn’t brought), and that looked like this:


Regardless, everyone had fun. As we sat in the 1+ hour traffic-filled car ride home to the Valley, we remembered why we rarely go to the beach. Though I must admit that being by the ocean, even in less than perfect weather, is pretty awesome.

Another standout adventure? ICE SKATING. Something I hadn’t done in, wow, I don’t know how long. But it was going to be Ella’s first time on the ice, and since Bart had injured his shoulder over a decade ago ice skating with my niece, I knew he wasn’t going on that ice. He looked at me dumbfounded when I was putting on skates, and I said, “she’s not going out there without me”. Mama Bear.


We went to an outdoor rink that had retro music playing, a small but adequate surface, a lot of kids banging into walls, and a beautiful LA sky. Ice skating was something the Wisconsin kids had a lot more experience with, but Zoe and Ella held their own. In fact, though Ella started out pushing, then riding on, then barely holding on to a cute seal “helper”, by the time we left (90 minutes later), she almost forgot she was on ice and started walking off towards the exit. Ha! Fierce.


Needless to say, we had a blast. The kids played well together, we had more how many people can we stuff in a minivan time, and I cherish every minute I get to spend live with my Tara and her sweet family.


All good things come to an end, and on January 30th the Mercks headed back to Wisconsin, though I still think they should consider an LA move. That left us Johnsons to our LA tradition of spending New Year’s Eve with our friends who have twin boys about 6 months older than Zoe.

It’s always awesome to ring in the new year with friends, and this year’s Great Oreo Challenge did not disappoint. If you’re up for watching a grown man move an Oreo from his forehead down to his mouth (it’s a nail-biter), check out this video:


As always, we barely made it past East Coast midnight, and it was a perfect way to start off 2020 and say good riddance to 2019, an interesting year to say the least. Of course, I’m thankful for all the memories and time with family and friends I had in 2019, but seriously, I am looking forward to an even more awesome year for all of us in THIS one.



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