I think there was a Week 17?


I can barely keep up. Let’s see what we can dig up from last week, since [gulp] it’s already Thursday of Week 18!

More online classes (we’re booked up through mid-August), including the following:

  • “Magical Potions” – sounds fun, right? And in some ways, it was exactly as promised; however, most of the potions required adult supervision. Like Rock Candy (boiling water) and a Sparkly Volcano (need I say more?). Luckily they provided instructions and materials so maybe we can try them some weekend.
  • Presidential Secrets – boosted by the release of Hamilton on Disney+ (which was incredible) and the fact that both Zoe & Ella know every single word to the soundtrack, Zoe loved this class. She went so far as to look up and create her own research project on LaFayette and was so excited to learn his whole name: Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette

A few flops were Improv for Ella (taught by a college student who has clearly never taught small kids), Find Your Muse for Zoe (which ended up being not-so-interesting art projects), and Big Cat Safari for both (which ended up being mostly videos).

Regardless, it was still a week of learning, and on one of the almost identical days of last week, our first (and last) MEL Science Kit showed up. These kits are expensive, though we found a coupon, but looked so interesting for our girls, who love making slime and doing hands-on projects. Zoe calmly and with conviction let me know she wanted to “do it by herself” with her sister, outside, and promised to read all the instructions closely.

Hahahahahahahaha. After they both immediately put on safety goggles, I was hopeful. Maybe 10 minutes later, Zoe couldn’t get the top off of one the small bottles… That’s when I found out what was in the kit. The experiment she was working on was a “Tin Hedgehog“. When I looked it up, I saw “Difficulty 1 (of 3), Danger 2 (of 3)”. Oops? I won’t even read to you the ingredients, out of shame, but on the bright side, no one got hurt.

On the less bright side, the bottle Zoe had asked me to open said this:

  • In case of eye contact: Wash out eye with plenty of water, holding eye open if necessary. Seek immediate medical advice.
  • If swallowed: Wash out mouth with water, drink some fresh water. Do not induce vomiting. Seek immediate medical advice.

Guess what? She hadn’t read it. Her eyes got huge. Then we read the other bottles (already opened), that had similar concerns. Regardless, I cancelled our MEL Science subscription immediately. We simply don’t have time to keep them safe and work full-time, and to be honest, while the starter experiments sound cool, they took very little time to complete and were ultimately not that cool.

When/if we get life under control, we can pick back up at any time and have the full starter materials to take on new challenges. (That line was written by the “I feel so guilty that I don’t have more time or energy for my kids” voice in my head.)

Anyway, we also took on more sewing projects (no chemicals needed!), and Zoe is getting comfortable with the sewing machine! But first, in the back of a book that Ella read during her “Reading with Nina” time, there was a project to make your own suitcase. It was basically two pieces of paper taped together with a pipe cleaner for handles, and you tape magazine photos inside. When I couldn’t find a magazine quickly, I made a tactical error and gave Ella an American Girl catalog.


The girls are now both obsessed with getting American Girl dolls. As the brilliant parents we are, we quickly rolled out an earning plan, where they earn beads for good behavior and trade them for cash to save up for a doll. Unfortunately, there’s a 10-week COVID delay on getting the dolls they want, so we decided to front them the money and order them now, but they can only open the boxes by earning them. Our next project, which required only hand-sewing, was masks for the dolls. We currently have OG (Target brand) similar dolls, so we’re practicing on them:


With the sewing machine, Zoe made a 20×20 square pillowcase, including sewing in our first zipper, and used the leftover super-soft fabric to make a small pillow for Ella. We also did a no-sew fabric project, using a stapler and tape to decorate box and make a home for our annoying cat, Jasmine.


She barely goes in there. We tried everything to coax her in the first time. The only thing that worked was Bart turning the box on its side, which got her interested in climbing in. Then, when we weren’t looking, she decided to hang out. Of course. Cats.

For the weekend, we went back to Descanso Gardens on Saturday (outdoors, great and enforced safety procedures). Below and at the top of this post are some pictures from that adventure, including Ella showing us a “tooth” (Zoe had a loose one last week), which was just a peanut.


We saw more gorgeous flowers, and it may be the only public place that feels fun and safe. In contrast, we went to the mall to try and fix my glasses prescription at a store that has been closed. We were careful, expedient, and it was not crowded, but still. I am on an endless quest for the perfect mask and have maybe 8 of them so far… If you have recommendations, please share!

On Sunday we hosted a backyard, socially distanced lunch for two friends we love dearly. It was so great to see PEOPLE, and we were able to celebrate one of their birthdays together – complete with homemade cupcakes made by Zoe. That said, things are NOT normal. Though I know we have to find more activities we ARE comfortable with and that life must go on, but (not to spoil Week 18) with California basically shutting down again, I remain concerned.

Bless my poor husband who is careful but much more comfortable than I am. He is trying desperately to uncover compromises that don’t, well, compromise our health. We finally booked a 3-day “vacation” at a tiny house Airbnb in August, but as things are going today, who knows. For now, the girls are ecstatic at even the idea of it.

To end on a random note, we attempted a Peach Dumplings recipe (fresh peaches, sugar and crescent rolls) which we didn’t cook long enough but has potential. Oh, and we released 4,500 ladybugs on my garden, which has an aphid infestation that is likely to destroy it. Not sure it will work, but it was fun to release all those ladybugs and hope.


Speaking of hope, I hope you are all safe and well – and stay that way. I’m still committed to continuing my flower photo journey, so here’s another one. Stay Safe!


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