It’s December?!

What a blur. I cannot believe it’s December. This year has flown by–and yet felt like one long day. Though the girls have now had ample time to acclimate to homeschooling, we struggle every day with focus, and some days they’re still working on homework until just before dinner. To be clear, that’s because they put it off, get distracted playing with toys/video games, or simply forget to start. And with full-time jobs, we simply can’t monitor them full-time.

On the bright side, Zoe got a 100 on her science test yesterday! She was giddy. Of course, that was after a tearful few days when we discovered she had gotten behind on turning in her homework again and had not been entirely honest with us about being “done”. But let’s go back to the bright side: Zoe caught up on her homework AND Ella found a new way to focus!

On Wednesday of last week, I looked out the window from my desk and saw this:

Our kids have done yoga before, but they don’t DO yoga. So to see Ella in tree pose looking at a screen… I was intrigued. Later that day, she pulled me into the living room and insisted I check it out. On her own, she had found a GoNoodle video about focus (yes, we talk about focus ALL THE TIME). I know GoNoodle is for kids, but I highly recommend you bookmark this video and give it a try. And if you have kids, do it immediately.

Ella was so excited about this that the next morning before breakfast she pulled the whole family together for the video and said, “We have a busy day today. We’re going to need to focus.” HA! She’s not wrong. Later that morning, to capitalize on the trend, I took two pieces of white paper and drew a big green dot on each. On Zoe’s I wrote “CHOOSE THE GREEN DOT“. On Ella’s I wrote, “SCHOOL IS THE GREEN DOT“. And I started using the blue dot as the enemy. When Zoe was clearly distracted in her room while she was supposed to be getting ready for school I said, “I think we’re having a Blue Dot moment.” It worked.

No, I have not found a magic bullet. Later that day Zoe was in tears as she’d made a blue dot choice to watch a show while she was sort of doing homework and ran out her time one her iPad, meaning she couldn’t have a fun movie night in the back room with her sister. Lots of tears this week. Small problems, big reactions over here. But who can blame us? We spend 24/7 with one another.

More reasonable tears happened the previous Wednesday when Ella, in an attempt to use a flexible tripod to setup her iPad to record a video of a camping scene she made, shattered her iPad screen on our tile floor. Lots of tears that day. They were not mine. I sprung to action and on my lunch hour took it to a repair shop and had it back the next morning.

But don’t think we’ve lost the Holiday Spirit over here! We have not. I had intended to make trace-your-hand-and-make-a-turkey sugar cookies for Thanksgiving, an idea a friend shared, but that didn’t happen. So why not make look-it’s-my-hand-with-holiday-sprinkles ones? I don’t see why not!

The funniest part of this idea? Watching your daughters realize that the larger their hands were, the larger the cookies would be. Let’s just say these cookies were inspired by actual hands.

It’s also not a bad time to have a kindergartener. Ella’s teacher is going above and beyond to make the holidays special. He sent home a bag of various art supplies, popcorn and snowman soup (hot chocolate, candy canes and chocolate chip cookies), and a wrapped gift for the kids to open at a party on the last day of school before break (Dec 18). Ella cannot wait. Here’s the card she made him along with the gift he sent:

In case you want to play along, next week will be HOLIDAY SPIRIT WEEK! I’m especially interested in the Snooze Day Wednesday, you?

I also respect that he made it optional and sent instructions NOT TO GO OUT AND BUY THINGS. What a guy. Zoe’s 5th grade class is a little too cool for such shenanigans, but she was also part of a really cool event recently. She was invited to join a “Young Storytellers” virtual group, where the kids write a play and actual adult actors act it out on screen. We got to watch it last week (it was 20 minutes long including intros and thanks), and it was so cool. If your school doesn’t do this already, or you’re looking for a way to volunteer virtually, you should check it out. The kids in Zoe’s class who participated were so proud of themselves, and honestly, they wrote a clever play about bring your kids to work day gone wrong. The kids get separated from their scientist parent in the middle of a chemistry lab and hijinks ensue. Kudos!

I have no pictures of that, but I do have a performance you may like. Check out the first ever Falalalala duet from the Johnson sisters:

(CLICK FOR VIDEO)

And to top off the holiday fun, guess who just showed up?

It took the girls 3 days to notice her. As the elf’s little helper, I did not say a word and just waited. Sparkle Heart Gem (yes, that’s her name) has been with us since 2014. If you don’t remember how I fell for this high maintenance, over-priced, but wildly effective elf, check out the original elf blog post. And let me tell you, to this day they wake EVERY morning and look for that elf, then cackle with delight when they find her.

Anyway, Monday is the first of the 12 days before Christmas, if you can believe that. And Hanukkah is well underway. The Holidays are upon us. Hope you are finding moments of joy in the midst of this terrifying pandemic. All we can do is keep ourselves safe (and thus, one another safe), look for beauty and hope that better days are on the way for everyone. That’s my Christmas wish.

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