Don’t give up (on Halloween)

At least one great thing happened in Week 30: October arrived. First of all, I’m pleased we all made it this far. And then obviously, though I don’t need to say it, we’ve entered one of the best months of the year. And yes, somehow I’ve fallen a week behind, again.

Honestly, the past 2 weeks have flown by! More work from home, more homeschool, more Groundhog Days. But we did have some bright spots!

For example, we figured out that if you move ALL the markers, tissues and toys out of Ella’s reach, and put ONLY one pencil, her iPad and her workbook on her desk, there’s a 62% chance she’ll be more focused at school. And for Zoe, if you remove her iPad from her room, there’s a 100% chance she will choose instead to tear up tiny bits of paper to keep her hands busy. There’s also a 100% chance she will ask you for the iPad the second she leaves her room for lunch.

We also had a dramatic moment during Week 30 when, after we learned where to see Zoe’s homework progress and grades during virtual “Back to School” night, I uncovered 12 missing items on the list. You can guess what happened next, Zoe spent the next 2 afternoons catching up, which I’m proud to say that she did. This also proves that a “Yes” response to “Is your homework done?” is no longer sufficient… Mommy knows where to look.

But wait. I said there were BRIGHT spots in Week 30, and there were! Since we intend to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, the awesome company we work for offered to loan any office equipment staff might need at home. I immediately requested a chair; the IKEA office chairs we have at home have been progressively less awesome the more hours I sit. Anyway, on Wednesday of last week, I went back into our empty LA office to get a better alternative.

Having spent over 21 years with this company, 90% of which was in a vibrant office filled with people, I did not like seeing the empty one. In fact, if you’ve ever seen a movie with post-apocalyptic scenes, you’ll understand how I felt when I saw this on my desk:

Jesus and buddha aside, apparently everything stopped in March. Uh oh. This was supposed to be a bright spot. Remember the CHAIR?! Moving on.

At some blurry moment in Week 30, Ella complained because Zoe had some LEGO thing that she didn’t have (wash, rinse, repeat). So I grabbed a green square, stuck a tiny LEGO mouse in its center, and asked her to build a mouse house. She did.

How cute is that? She even gave the mouse a twice-its-body-sized carrot to eat and a pumpkin for later. Yum.

On Friday morning, the Johnson Family got our flu shots, er, vaccines!

You’ll have to trust me that Bart also has a cute blue band-aid, too. My arm wasn’t long enough for a full family selfie. But before that, with four of us in a tiny pediatrician’s office, the nurse with four needles asked who wanted to go first. Having already been terrified about Ella’s reaction (last time I basically had to hold her still for the flu shot), I instantly volunteered to show how easy it was.

Then out of the blue, Zoe spoke up and said, “I’ll go first. I want to get it over with.” That kid amazes me. It was over in a second (best flu shot ever), and there was only moderate whining from Ella as she sat in my lap for hers. Mission accomplished!

On Friday night we hosted another luau of sorts. Not to be confused with Week 19’s outdoor luau extravaganza, this one was a low-key indoor affair. But we did have piña coladas, pulled pork and Hawaiian music. We also had my sweet mother and LEGO scenes built for the occasion:

We played a quick round of Pictionary and learned about the lives of those LEGO friends, who apparently have a lot of leisure time.

Over the weekend we went back to our outdoor haunt, Descanso Gardens, which promised pumpkin-themed displays to kick off their Halloween season. It was the first weekend for that, so not everything was setup, but we had a BLAST anyway because, if you’re under the age of 14, they encourage you to DRESS UP IN COSTUME! Our girls love any chance at getting into costume. So that explains the Zombie you see up top and this gorgeous mermaid:

Yes, she’s wearing eyeshadow that she applied herself, and her sister braided her hair. Zoe’s zombie makeup was also her own design, though it faded in the upper-80-degree weather we experienced. Lesson learned.

Our entire time at the gardens was spent with these two cuties finding places to pose for a zombie vs. mermaid moment. Look closely at this one, one of my favorites:

Watch out, Ariel! Many, many more scenes followed, preceded by a “Mom, get this one!“, a few of which I’ll share here:

That last one was near the end of our garden adventure, when they were both hot, tired of their own fun ideas, and not willing to wait in line to actually go into that pumpkin house. There was no line for the bench.

At one point in the forest section, Bart had the brilliant idea. I switched the camera filter to Noir and captured individual shots of Zoe Zombie chasing Ella Mermaid. My favorite shot was this one:

I also learned something new! If you select multiple live photos on an iPhone and click the share (square with the up arrow) button, one of your options is to “Save as Video”, which I did. Here are 24 live photos stitched together in just one click:

As I said, we had some bright spots in Week 30. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that Zoe is now taking a coding class on Wednesdays with her friend, so that’s fun! She also wrapped up her second session of Metrocraft, during which she built a city along with a group of kids online. That’s cool.

Both our children also love YouTube Kids, where they incessantly watch videos of LEGO creations and how-to videos for arts and crafts. That’s where Zoe got the idea to make her own butterscotch chapstick by melting butterscotch chips in the microwave and, with help from Dad, somehow getting that concoction into an empty chapstick tube:

In case you’re considering this idea yourself, don’t forget to let it warm up a bit after you get it out of the freezer. Otherwise, you’ll be like our disappointed little girl who thought her craft didn’t work. Oh, and before you ask, yes, that chapstick was gone (eaten) in less than 30 minutes.

We’re still living as best we can over here and are thankful to be healthy and safe. I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from Descanso and will do my best to wrap up Week 31 (which is over tomorrow, gulp) in the next few days and get back on track. Stay safe out there!

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