Hey, Nineteen.

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If you don’t know that reference (and for the record, I was Zoe’s age when the song was released), it’s a song by Steely Dan about an older man dating a 19-year-old and how they have nothing in common. Sort of like being a modern human and relating to a pandemic. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch. Let’s just wrap up Week 19.

My children have finally hit Zoom fatigue and had very few classes of interest last week… But one that DID hit the spot: Make Your Own LEGO Stop Motion Movie! If you’re not familiar with stop motion animation, it doesn’t require a lot. There’s a free app called Stop Motion Studio that strings together the 100s of shots you’ll need to make a single video. That’s no typo. Even a short video takes over 100 shots. What it really requires? Patience and imagination.

Thankfully, Zoe got excited about making a video for Uncle Frank for his birthday, and her 2nd movie EVER (the first was a short, jumpy learning experience), looked like this:

(CLICK FOR VIDEO)

Ella got mildly interested, since they are both still OBSESSED with LEGOs… so much so that they regularly argue over bits and pieces, especially the LEGO Friends minifigures. Annoying. But their creativity as the build and explore their creations is fantastic! There are LEGOs all over our floor(s), all the time.

They learned some valuable lessons this week. For example, if you put down a towel to pour out your hundreds of LEGOs, it takes less time to put them all back in the box. Also, it’s better for you to negotiate with your sister than to have Mom & Dad end up mediating… Oh, and it’s OK for your LEGO friends to NOT have the perfect outfit for every occasion if that means you have ALL the outfits and your sister has none.

Other adventures this week: Edible Slime, State Quarters and Boo Boo Buddies.

I am not going to advocate for edible slime. I think they had fun making it and enjoyed the first few bites, but ultimately, they left most of it stuck to the bottom of a glass, a mixing bowl and our kitchen sink. Plus, ew.

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Zoe’s been working this summer to learn the US States, something that apparently is important in 5th Grade – plus, she loves history! We bought a scratch-off wall map, which sat on her dresser for 3 weeks. No interest. Then she hung it up and learned a few states, and lost interest. We bought a US map jigsaw puzzle. I’ve tried for 2 weeks to bribe her with beads (for her doll savings plan) to use. Still unopened.

So why not, in the middle of a pandemic when the US is running out of coins, buy her a US state coin collector’s map? I did that. It was a huge hit! The day it arrived, both girls sat down with our coin jar and started filling up the map.

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In my defense, I didn’t know there was a coin shortage when we got the map – and it DID work to get them interested. We’re missing a lot, and are unlikely to go seek out more during this coronavirus surge. But hey, it was fun for a while!

And though these girls bicker so often it’s driving us nuts, there are some bright spots. I ran to get the camera to capture the tender moment of Zoe taking care of Ella’s boo boo. Sisters can be nice to each other. Proof:

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On Saturday, after I did some gardening, we had an intentionally lazy day and knew we were going to a “drive-by bye-bye” for our friends who are moving to Oregon. They setup outside, made a really cute sign, and welcomed masked, socially distanced friends. We would have all preferred hugs and a proper goodbye, but we all remain thankful to have our friendships -and our lives.

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Knowing we didn’t have any real plans after that, and wanting to avoid a night of bickering little girls, I proposed an idea: Tropical Night In! We could put up decorations, plan a themed meal, and of course, have piña coladas. The girls were totally into it, and Bart instantly said, “I have Hawaiian Chicken in the fridge”. It was ON.

To make it a party, we invited my mom (she even knows how to hula!). But first, we needed to create a party invitation. In true recent fashion, the girls wanted to build a LEGO set with a tropical theme, which we did (I failed to get a picture of this). We stopped short of making a stop motion movie (bummer), but Zoe whipped up an idea for a short movie we sent over by text. It worked.

We scrounged around the house to find an Aloha beach towel, some fun tiki-like cups and tropical looking plates. I printed some of my flower pictures of hibiscus flowers (the state flower of Hawaii). Bart made Hawaiian chicken, bought some Hawaiian buns and fresh pineapple, and cooked some refried black beans (to pretend they were poi, because who really wants to eat poi?). With John Cruz’s Island Style playing in the background, we had a fabulous dinner. My mom even treated us to some hula, dancing to Elvis’ Blue Hawaii to wrap up the night.

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Yes. It was a RANDOM Saturday night. And yes, we’re still painfully aware that this virus is raging, breaking records every week for cases and deaths – and LA in particular is a mess. But I hope that one day these girls take from this experience the fact that life is what you make of it, no matter what mess you’re in. And any moment can be special with a little love and effort.

On Sunday we headed back to Descanso Gardens, choosing a new route we’d never taken. I’m pretty sure we have many more trips of “routes not taken” before we even explore the whole gardens once, which is pretty cool. Plus, it’s so nice to be outside somewhere that feels safe.

Oh, and turtles. Meet Snappy.

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He’s not really a snapping turtle. In fact, we looked him up; he’s a red-eared slider turtle. During our last two trips we saw in the same pond what appeared to be the same turtle, so we named him Snappy. Turns out this species is on the world’s 100 most invasive list. Wow. That explains why we saw tons of them today as we explored the gardens further. Including this guy (gal?), who swam right up to Ella:

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We looked at lots of gorgeous flowers in the Rose Garden and alongside all the paths, saw two ponds, two brooks and a lake. We took several pictures for my flower collection, including this beautiful rose one that Zoe took:

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And now, I’ll leave you with more pictures of beautiful flowers and beautiful girls. I hope your week 19 was tolerable, and that you’re all safe and well. Next week, if all goes well, Zoe will see the orthodontist for her LAST checkup before they remove those braces. Please cross your fingers! It’s time. Take care of yourselves!

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