As promised, this will be a catch-all post of some remaining moments worth remembering from 2019. Then I’ll move on to 2020 (finally), since [gulp] January is over. Done. Gone. Wow.

Let’s start with a FUN GAME! No joke. This is good for all ages, easy to pull off and fascinating. All you need is one piece of paper per person, something to draw with, and  imagination. I came up with it under pressure, for good reason.

You see, we had had a long day (actually a long weekend) of “kids”. Just our kids but sometimes two kids can feel like ten kids. All we wanted was a peaceful glass of wine with dinner (not for the kids). I had a pad of paper and 2 pens in my purse.

Usually we just hand them paper and markers or pens and let them draw, but I just knew that wasn’t going to last long. So instead, I handed each ONE “special” piece of paper and a pen, then gave them SPECIFIC ITEMS (any will work) and challenged them to draw ANY picture they wanted – but it MUST include all items. No peeking at one another’s paper.

Here’s what a barn, 2 pigs, a horse, 3 flowers, the sun, 2 clouds and of course, a fairy looks like in two different brains:


The REALLY fun part? When they’re done, ask them what THEY see that’s different. My favorites? Ella’s fairy, Zoe’s sun with shades and the fact that one chose landscape, the other portrait orientation. They loved it. Of course, pointing out the orientation had an impact on round two, but they still had fun with a deserted island, a palm tree with coconuts, starfish and 2 dolphins in love.


So if you’re ever bored in a group of adults OR annoyed with a group of “can’t sit still” kids at a dinner table, give this game a whirl. You’re welcome.

UP NEXT: The Clever Chumash.

Zoe had her first school project this year (fourth grade). The kids were studying Native American culture and were given a tribe to research during school and craft a story to tell others about them. They could use a choice of visuals – a diorama, a poster, a tri-fold display. Most kids chose the diorama. Zoe chose the display.

We headed to Michael’s to gather the materials we’d need, but if you know me you KNOW, I’m at least mildly OCD about getting stuff done. I prefer to call it “attentive to detail”. Judge this story as you will, but it was our FIRST foray into working on an “at home” school project.

Zoe had done her homework (extensive research) and had a LONG laundry list of facts, details, random trivia about her tribe: The Chumash. As we were about to get started, she rattled off everything she knew and was ready to go. I was less ready. All I could picture was a muddled poster filled with weird data points – and how that story would be delivered based on that poster. Messy. I prefer NOT messy. Ask my husband.

And so, as any great parent would do, I taught her a methodology I learned last year from a professional presentation design course, which begins with tiny post-its. Following is the gist, and I highly recommend it if YOU have to present, well, anything:

  1. Start with a blank piece of paper (legal is best, letter is fine).
  2. Write ONE idea or data point on EACH post-it and stick them all to that piece of paper in rapid fashion (don’t stress over details and put all ideas down).
  3. Group your post-its into common themes – that doesn’t mean you can’t use ONE idea as a stand-alone part of your story, but as you group them, you’ll start to see a story form and know where you have (or need) supporting facts to tell your story. It also helps you remove information that doesn’t fit your narrative.

After doing the above, Zoe realized she had THREE main themes: A cool timeline of their history, lots of interesting facts about their daily life, and some unusual points that were provocative. She was clear on how she’d share that info. You’d think I’d let her start working on that tri-fold. Nope. Next, I had her draw out what her poster would look like (including which data points) on a letter sized page. NOW she was clear.

Feeling proud (and that “wow, this will be easy now”), I encouraged her to get started and make that poster happen. MANY HOURS later, we had a super cool poster, straight from Zoe’s fabulous brain (some detailed paper cutting done by mom). She wrote every word, found every picture and (per above) crafted a cohesive story. It was fabulous:


If you ever wanted to know about the Chumash, zoom in and check it out. Nice work, Z!

UP NEXT: Smiles for Nina’s Knee.

In mid-November, my mom had her knee replaced. As with most people who have knee pain, she’d put it off as long as possible, but she was READY. Leading up to the actual event, there were lots of details to figure out, much of which my sister handled, partly because she’s in GA with my mom, but mostly because she’s awesome.

My contribution? An ear. Not an actual ear, but I listened as all the nitty-gritty decisions were made and tried to keep up with what was happening, from afar. My sister is remarkably capable – and my mom remarkably determined – so to be honest, I was somewhat useless in the planning phase.

But on one call with my mom, she mentioned in passing how I always made goofy faces in pictures, which is 100% true. I know this well, but my mother likes a good posed photo, with everyone smiling – something she specifically asked my wedding photographers to make sure they got, out of fear she’d only get a bride with her tongue stuck out, I guess. And that was a possibility, and I did get ONE of those (see below – and it’s awesome), but many really awesome ones (thanks, Mom).


Anyway, back to the knee story. Feeling a little helpless, I decided to cheer my mom and send positive vibes as she prepared for surgery. So I took some of the very few selfies with smiles that I’ve ever taken. That’s a gift, right?


Ok, so one’s a little goofy, but still, a smile. I ended up coming home for a super quick trip mid-December to see Mom for myself (she’s a trooper!) and to see my nephew become a teenager. That was nice. Regardless, in no uncertain terms, my sister is the REAL trooper and the best advocate anyone could hope for – thank you, Shawn!

And so, there goes 2019 – in abbreviated format. Yes, I know that was several blogs but it also covered over 3 months of a lot going on, so I think overall, there could have been a LOT more posts. And so without further ado, here are two final cutie pie pictures of the stars of this blog – one of Ella at a cowboy birthday party at Griffith Park pony rides and one of them both in a surf shop looking sassy. The end.

January, here we come!


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