On Friday, November 20, after celebrating Thanksgiving virtually at school, Ella announced to the family that we were about to spend 9 days together. WOO HOO! (her words, not mine) I, on the other hand, having planned nothing other than Thanksgiving day, almost passed out. NINE DAYS?!
To start, let me share that Thanksgiving secret I mentioned. You see, we’ve been trying to keep in touch with family on Zoom calls, but, as I’m sure you know, a Zoom call can be challenging. So when I mentioned to my sister I thought it would be a great idea, I PROMISED we’d make it fun. Ironically, SHE was the one who came up with the fun part!
We found a Turkey craft online, and my lovely children prepped the materials to ship out to make it easy for everyone to make their own. We also printed and laminated Thanksgiving BINGO cards. The girls even made homemade cookies to sweeten the deal (get it?). Here’s some of that prep in action, along with the care packages:
I then found a Google Slides Thanksgiving template online and coaxed Zoe and Ella into providing musical entertainment. Zoe kicked off with a song (Underdog); we taught the family 6 ways to say Thank You in other languages; and then we went around the “room” sharing what we were thankful for using our crafty turkeys. Zoe guided a simple scavenger hunt, and I even talked them all into dancing to a silly Happy Thanksgiving song that Bart found on Alexa. To top all that off, we hosted this “show” twice (once with Bart’s family as well, sans craft).
I’ll let you be the judge, but I’d say both calls worked out AOK:
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The weekend before Thanksgiving we started our 9-day family adventure. On Saturday the girls decided to create an underwater world outside for our dinner.
Note the drawing on the wall by the “hostess’ station” (the orange starfish is the hostess, of course) and the fact that Ella is in a bathing suit. Zoe is on video with my mom, showing her around before it got dark outside. Never a dull moment over here.
The following day we headed to Ventura for a family bike ride. There’s a long, paved bike path between Ventura and Ojai, which seemed like an easy, safe way to get out of the house. We started out with Zoe out front, Bart following, then Ella, then Nervous Nelly me. You see, Ella still has training wheels. Maybe 5 feet into our ride, one of those wheels got caught on the curb, and Ella fell over the bike, head-first, and started sliding down a deep ditch filled with scattered, large rocks…
I jumped off my bike as I saw her headed towards those rocks, just before which she jutted her arms and legs out like Spiderman and stopped the slide. Frozen in fear, she looked up at me with a “What now, Mom?!” look as I grabbed her leg and dragged her back up. Mommy power.
We wandered around a mostly closed Ojai downtown and found a secluded restaurant down an alley where we sat outside and enjoyed a cheese plate while the girls drew cute pictures like this one:
The drive home was gorgeous and made me wish we had an RV so we could drive anywhere we wanted, without worrying about public bathrooms or where to sleep. It’s so easy when we spend so much time at home to forget how incredible the world around us is.
On Tuesday Bart had to work, so we three girls headed to our favorite new haunt, Descanso Gardens, which continues to provide a safe, socially distanced getaway. We met up with a friend and her twin boys, and the kids showed us just what “social distance” should look like.
Safety first, folks. Two more adventures we had were the at-home kind. First, I finally got around to assembling a romper I had cut out but never sewn (yes, Oma, THAT romper). I only had to rip out two seams; once when I sewed the sleeve on upside down and once when I sewed the shorts legs to one another. Oops? Even with my fixes, it was STILL a mess (she’s holding her hands over the buttonhole section I couldn’t figure out). Sorry Z.
The other adventure was a simple, but funny one. Ella lost her favorite Beanie Boo, Sky the unicorn kitty. To solve the problem, she took it upon herself to create and post a “LOST” sign near the kitchen. Days later, Sky was found, in perfect health. Thank goodness.
Disaster averted. And for the record, Sky had never left the house. It’s amazing what you can find when you look for it. Or maybe “LOST” signs are more effective than I thought?
Anyway, the day after Thanksgiving we did what we do every year: OMG CHRISTMAS!!!!!! We selected a tree at a tiny lot that donates its proceeds to children, and the girls loaded it up with our random assortment of (mostly homemade) ornaments, walking down memory lane. They laughed with glee as they rediscovered their own artwork. So freaking cute.
Though again, I’m ahead of myself. You see, every year we document the final touch: The Tree Topper. In case you’ve missed the excitement, here’s an old post with some videos of how this tradition started. Back then we (clearly) gave little thought to how in the world we’d keep the tradition going as our beautiful girls kept growing… Curious how that turned out?
Zoe insisted that Ella “go first”, meaning that she’d put the star on, we’d take it down, then Zoe would really put the star on. Thank goodness Ella is too young to understand that (or to care). Anyway, here goes:
And now for the finale, Zoe’s tree topping:
On Sunday we headed back to Descanso to attempt to take pictures for our Holiday Card, another annual tradition I cherish. This year, however, there are no mall Santas or photos in front of huge public Christmas trees. But we made do. I’ll share those photos AFTER we get the cards out. Stay tuned!
And please, please please. Stay safe.