Instead of spending money on fancy New Year’s Eve decorations we use for a few hours, we decided to make our own. That’s right. You’re looking at handmade letters Zoe and I crafted out of rainbow construction paper and a poorly written 2021 “sign” on a light-up cloud dry erase board the girls got from Santa. Oh, and if you look carefully above the letters you’ll see a handmade FIREWORK made from rainbow colors of pipe cleaners. Zoe even made us homemade headbands (see below) using a hot glue gun!
Ironically, Zoe also found a couple of “Happy New Year” necklaces we bought last year. What timing! Though we would have preferred to spend the evening with our favorite NYE friends in person, as is our tradition, we enjoyed some Zoom time with them instead. But first, we Johnsons kicked off the evening with a fancy cheese FONDUE, for which Bart had sourced 3 special cheeses and some odd liqueur to make it “authentic”. Bart and I loved it. Our children hated it, but they loved the bread chunks and accoutrements (pears, pickles, fondue forks), so I think it worked out OK.
Though we had planned to try out some online games with our friends (the Oreo challenge, charades, would you rather…), we ended up playing a couple of rounds of Battleship and watching the sad-but-hey-it’s-something New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in Times Square show. We celebrated the East Coast midnight countdown, then found the West Coast version of the show and made it until almost 11 pm just “hanging out” on Zoom. And then, for the first year ever, our girls stayed up until actual MIDNIGHT!
Zoe almost fell asleep in a chair but really wanted to make it to midnight, so we ended up hosting a freeze dance party followed by a lively charades game with two girls taking turns acting out everything from a monkey to building a sandcastle using a list of charades words for kids I found online. What a great way to ring in the new year, with laughter and friends and family. I’ll take it.
In the days that followed New Year’s Eve, we had some “take the day as it comes” family time together, with no plans or stress. It was lovely. The girls spent time with their friends online, giggling and building cool Minecraft worlds using their infinite imaginations. They also (for the most part) got along great! May that trend continue. Ella even talked Bart into a night in mommy & daddy’s bed – a really special treat!
Who can resist a sleeping angel like that? Even when she basically refuses to stop talking, then spreads out and brings some friends… On Saturday, we picked back up our jigsaw puzzle obsession and assembled this gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright one, which I highly recommend:
On Sunday we experimented with COLOR! Hair color, that is.
Don’t panic. It’s a very gentle hair color brand called Overtone, which a friend had recommended. It’s SO gentle that the color is quite subtle; though both girls had wanted a vibrant outcome that didn’t materialize, they were very excited to simply have something new to do. Plus, this color is so easy on your hair (it’s a conditioner!), and comes in a container with enough product for multiple applications, we can add more as we go along. Oh, and unlike most hair dye it smells great!
After only 15 minutes (per instructions) of leaving the product on, the super bright pink and purple you see above resulted in very muted hues. They both say they’ll consider leaving it on for longer next time, but to get them to sit still for even 15 minutes was quite the accomplishment. We’ll see.
On Sunday we also started what I hope to be a new weekly tradition. One of our friends has been making lunches every week during the pandemic to donate to local groups that provide food to those in need. To participate, you make 10 lunches including a sandwich, chips/treats, a drink and napkin in simple brown paper lunch bags, labeled. They encourage bag decorations, which of course our girls were happy to do:
Kind volunteers around the Hollywood area collect the lunches at their homes (designated drop-off points) and deliver them to local groups for distribution. We’ve been looking for something safe and impactful we can do as a family to help others. It’s hard to find ways for kids to contribute and understand how lucky we are. These lunches, made with love, are a perfect way to give back.
So the first few days of 2021 have been pretty terrific. I even got to play virtual backgammon with my sweet sister to wrap up the weekend, which ended like this:
I’ll let you guess which of us won. Or don’t. We had so much fun it didn’t really matter. She setup a phone on a tripod angled at this cool backgammon set, rolled for us both and moved our pieces. The only thing missing was the hug at the end. Some day.
I hope however you kicked out 2020 and started off this new year you got a chance to feel grateful for the positives and HOPEFUL for the future. May 2021 be better for us all. Happy New Year!