Where did January GO?!

We left off on January 16, as the girls had planned a FLOWER party, which (as you can see above), happened. And in case you’re wondering, on Ella’s nose is makeup, her version of a “flower”. Oh, and that’s apple juice in those plastic wine glasses. We even actually found a “flower” music station on Amazon music for our backyard party! And speaking of that backyard…

We just spent the past 2 weekends working on ours, and OMG, I’ve been sore for the past 10 days. When’s the last time you dug a trench? Me? Never. Wait, twice in the past 2 weekends. The first one was shallow, just along the side of a metal border of our lawn that we needed to move.

Picture the scene above with us digging out one side of a 5-inch steel barrier for 25 feet. I won’t brag, but much of that was me, as I was determined to finish it. My husband did the hard part of working the metal pieces out of the soil and cutting four sections that are to remain in the ground, shorter. I actually even sent him away to Home Depot just to get him out of the way while I dug out the next 36 feet.

We’re reducing the footprint of our lawn and hope to seed new grass. I begged (Bart wants fake grass or none). In case you missed my feelings about grass, check this post from 2013, the first time I talked him into it. But I digress. Back to the digging.

At first, the girls were helpful, excited to get their hands on shovels, but as you’d imagine their interest waned when they realized it was actual work. Time really flies when you’re determined to finish something. I’ll fill in the blanks later, but as I mentioned, I dug trenches twice. You see, while we had the ground disturbed, my husband wanted to fulfill his dream of installing a French drain.

I know nothing about these. Nor did I even read the link I provided above, as I never, ever, ever want to even think about one again. For the purpose of our story, I’ll say that I know it helps get water drainage away from your house and that you need to dig a trench that gets deeper and deeper and deeper as it moves away from that house to help the water drain. Not “a little” deeper, but 1 inch deeper for every foot away from the house. At its deepest our trench is 28 inches. I almost died. Here’s our drainpipe above the ground:

Here’s that same pipe down in the trench we dug (not quite finished but close):

I won’t say I did most of this one by myself, as my husband is quite the digger, but it most definitely took us both working hard, for hours. The girls were pretty much useless on this one. I had them distracted for a while in the yard pulling up the lightly buried mesh our last landscaper left on the bottom of the sod (which is not good…), but even that ended up being not super fun after a while. It’s pretty fun when you get a section going, but again, it’s work. Here’s that project underway:

Honestly, we made a tactical error on Saturday by getting them involved in clearing my raised garden bed. All they really wanted was to push a wheelbarrow, once. When they realized that was also not the game they’d hoped, I ended up pushing 10 loads of dirt to relocate it from the backyard to the front, which only removed about half the dirt. I have all this left to do:

One reason we stopped where we did was that this bed has been taken over by Four O’Clock flowers, which I love (more on that here). In that post you’ll see that these flowers generate HUGE tubular bulbs under the soil and sprout new foliage all along the tube. Here’s one of those funky tubes we found in the garden:

Here’s a wheelbarrow of them…

And so, we wore out ourselves and our children over the past two weekends. But then, gardening is honestly safer than many things we could have been doing. We’ve been hunkering down at home for many weeks now, as LA’s COVID numbers continue to flare. Headlines like this make home look really appealing:

Understanding why we can’t go out much led Ella to write this on our sidewalk two Saturdays ago while I thought she was just drawing rainbows:

And that’s what we’re doing: Staying Safe. Our girls understand enough about what’s going on to also know that others are struggling much more than we are, and so, our weekly Sunday lunch donations have continued. The art just gets better and better (or at least different):

Every week, I remind them to put LOVE into their drawings and pack those lunches with care, knowing that someone on the receiving end could use a smile right now. It’s not much, but I hope it makes a difference. Piano lessons have also continued, and though I’m completely biased, I think these kids might have some talent!



OK, so Baby Shark isn’t a masterpiece, but unlike her ear for music, Ella’s attention span is not fabulous. There’s also been a heck of a lot of Minecraft lately, with the girls building worlds upon worlds upon worlds, mostly without snipping at each other but not entirely…

Awww, a moment of sisterly love. We’ll take all of those we can get. In between all the points above, homeschool continues. Some days are better than others (did I mention Ella’s attention span?), and homework remains something we parents have to nag about relentlessly.

Oh, and LAUSD did a really cool thing and started school late on January 20th so the students could watch the inauguration. I cried as I watched my children cheering to see the first female vice president sworn in to office. No matter how you feel about the election, as a parent of little girls I cannot help but rejoice as any glass ceiling is shattered to make room for them to dream.

And so, never a dull moment over here in the self-quarantined Johnson household (or the world). As I read back over this post it may not seem like we’re having as much fun as before, though I’m proud that we are teaching our kids to make the most of the situation, even if digging is the best fun we can come up with sometimes.

Hope you’re all staying safe out there! Oh, and where the heck did January go?!

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