I’ve stopped trying to figure out my daughters’ poses in pictures. You were probably thinking they were inspired (or insisted on) by me, but nope; I have zero control of either one of these small people, in photos or otherwise. That said, what we can control is where we go (or don’t go), for now at least.
For the kids’ Spring Break, we went to the desert for a few days, and it was super fun! We stopped for one night in Palm Springs for a little pool time, then headed out to Joshua Tree for a true desert experience. But first, bikinis.
We actually bought those at the hotel store (frivolous and overpriced), where they had few options, but it turned out that the girls WANTED to match. How long do you think that will last? We’ll just enjoy it while it does because it makes for great pictures. I can barely get past the fact that people don’t wear masks in a pool, but it was hot, and our girls were super excited to get pool time. On the whole, people were very good at keeping distance (and wearing masks when out of the pool). Besides, we weren’t there for long before heading further east.
Before that, we simply enjoyed being away from home (it’s been way too long), with a golf course view, a balcony bagel breakfast, and a tiny “park” with a roadrunner sculpture fit for riding.
We also went out to a delicious Italian dinner on a patio, where we were determined not to use iPads but ended up handing over my phone and Airpods anyway. It’s hard to eat out with kids…
Those are two sun-kissed, pool-exhausted children. After our brief Palm Springs visit, we headed to an Airbnb in Yucca Valley that was extremely cute. So cute that Zoe instantly said, “Mom, can we live here?!” It was furnished with funky vintage items everywhere, and I also loved it. But what children fail to recognize is that OUR house would be cuter without all their stuff strewn about. And even that cute house would be a total wreck if we “lived” there as they do at home. Anyway, we’re not living there.
We did go out to dinner in JT at a “saloon” with an outdoor courtyard, which also had a painted hippie bus parked at the entrance, complete with pastels, butterflies and stars.
At dinner we played my favorite “entertain the kids without iPads” game of “Three for the Win” (I just made that up). I’ve shared this on the blog before, but it’s honestly one of the easiest table games I know and requires very few items. Here’s how it goes:
- Everyone gets some paper and a pencil (or colored pencils)
- Someone (usually me) picks 3 words that MUST be included in each person’s final drawing
- Each person draws their own scene, incorporating the 3 words
- We pretend to vote on which one is best
Below you’ll see what our family came up with for “Meerkat, Flag, Flower”:
That’s right. My husband can’t spell “Meerkat” and avoided drawing one by making a meerkat house… Not sure who “won”, but we did 4 rounds of drawings while we waited for dinner. The options are endless! But back to our trip. Our Airbnb home was off the beaten path, with few close neighbors, accessible by a dirt road. On the property was one of the biggest Joshua trees I’ve seen.
You’ll notice the base of the tree is surrounded by rocks, but what you may not notice is that many of those rocks have been decorated by the guests. In fact, the host left out art supplies for anyone feeling creative and encouraged some rock drawing. Our girls contributed these (Zoe, then Ella):
We actually had a very relaxing time out in the desert, where my husband found a private Yoga Nidra session for me. If you’ve never done it (I had not), I highly recommend. It was one of the most restorative things I’ve done in the past year, and I’m not one for sitting still for very long… Before we left, we also headed to Joshua Tree National Park, an otherworldly landscape filled with–you guessed it: Joshua Trees–and rock formations that look like giants were just there playing and left their rock toys out.
Lots of people head to this park to climb rocks, hike around, and take pictures. You could spend days checking out the entire park, or if you’re looking for something to do, they have free virtual experiences you can enjoy right from your pandemic friendly home! The girls loved scrambling on the rock formations, which almost killed me to watch, and also reminded Bart and I how very very very out of shape we are… He used to go ACTUAL climbing out there with friends, which is why he kept asking Ella to NOT make “big moves”.
I had to explain to him that a) Ella only knows big moves, and b) Ella has no idea what “big moves” means when it comes to scrambling over rocks. On our way home when we asked what they had enjoyed most on their trip, both said, “rock climbing!” Gulp.
We came home on Wednesday because Bart and I both had a lot of work to pull off on Thursday and Friday. I’ll skip those days for this post, but add in our Easter weekend! First of all, we were prepared. In fact, out in the desert we had brought money-and-treasure-filled eggs my mom had mailed us, which the girls loved hiding, finding, hiding and finding again! We had more eggs (with candy) at home, which we of course hid on actual Easter. I’m pretty proud of the egg hidden in this photo, which you can find if you look closely enough (I had to “find” it for the kids):
Yes, those are fluffy unicorn baskets, which I had ordered well in advance then forgot all about until my sweet daughter said on Easter morning, “Mom, did the Easter Bunny come?” Of course he did, I assured her, as I sent them both back to their rooms. Then I scrambled to print out and hide scavenger hunt clues (this site has a fun scavenger hunt for most holidays), which ended with them finding those fluffy unicorns outside the front door where of course the Easter Bunny had left them.
Bart made a delicious Easter dinner, including a homemade key lime pie!
On the Saturday morning before Easter, we headed to our favorite garden (Descanso) to meet our friend Mary, and walked around to see SO MANY flowers in bloom! There we got another in my favorite photo series, which I’ll be saving for Ella’s wedding:
I have no idea why she agrees to that every time, but I’ll take it while it lasts. The girls even found an actual bunny in the bushes at the garden, a baby bunny! We weren’t able to get close enough to find out if he pooped jelly beans (if you don’t watch the movie HOP every year for Easter like I do, you may not get that reference…) They also found a bunny they could catch, and sit on.
And so that’s how the Johnson girls passed Spring Break, which is better than the college kids who descended on and shut down Miami Beach, if you ask me. It sure feels like everything’s moving towards a state of BETTER, but I really hope we can all hold on a bit longer and stay diligent so we can shut this virus down. Speaking of hope, Zoe was so inspired by her rock decorating, she brought her message of hope home to our driveway. Stay safe out there and HOPE you’re all doing well!