Four years is a big age difference between little girls, and even more pronounced the older they get. I know at some point, it won’t matter at all, but since middle school, Zoe has gotten a lot of our time, uh, I mean, Zoe’s had a lot of extracurricular activities. Girl Scouts, gymnastics, piano, singing and now musical theater–there’s never a dull moment.
But lately, Ella has been giving Zoe a run for her money in the activity category. She’s been taking piano with Zoe for a while now, and last Fall she had her own theater experience with Drama Maniacs, an after-school program where the kids get to help make up the show. Just a few weeks ago, she picked up gymnastics and has almost mastered a cartwheel already.
But even more exciting, back in October, Ella started taking karate at a local studio called Karate 4 Kids. Zoe tried her hand at karate there back when she was 4 years old (board breaking proof here), but I think it was just too early for her (and she really really hated doing push-ups, which they have to do when they’re not listening). She had fun at their board Break-a-Thon and loved their Ninja Nights (parents night out where they eat pizza and play games). But discipline was not her favorite… so Zoe never ended up even testing for a belt.
Ella, however, is remarkably competitive–and is slippery enough to avoid those push-ups. Plus, she likes progress, so after just a few sessions, she asked the Master Lee (she’s head of the dojo) when she could test for a belt. Ha! Though it was not quite time yet, when it WAS time for her to test, we’re proud to report that little Ella GOT that belt. Here are two of the exercises she had to do to earn it: Build a House (you’ll see) and Count to 10 in Korean.
Woo hoo! The best part? This is only belt two out of eighteen, so we’re hopeful she maintains that desire to progress and get great at something. I must admit, and my mom will attest to it, that when I was young, I had an attention span of about 9 months. Gymnastics and piano were two of my attempts at greatness, but I just didn’t want to practice. In my defense, our piano teacher was boring (not like Miss Beth, who has taught my sister’s kids and now mine).
I also took up the flute late in the eighth grade when I got jealous of all the fun my talented sister was having in band. She played the clarinet and was very good–although my young and sassy self always referred to that instrument as “the cow”. Anyway, unlike my brilliant sister who went on to perform in marching band in high school and is raising two incredibly talented musical children, I didn’t make the cut and ended up in dummy band. I know that doesn’t sound nice, but that’s how the band director treated the four of us who refused to give up band but should have… Yes, there were only four of us, and he usually waltzed in, threw a piece of music at us and left. Not kidding. And so, my flute days went the way of gymnastics and piano, and I became a cheerleader. But this post is about Ella.
Turns out she is a natural at the piano as well! Both girls have been taking virtual lessons for a while now, until Zoe got too over-extended to continue. However, the age difference was very obvious. Zoe learned to sit with poise, perform like an entertainer, and sing while playing. In contrast, Ella’s biggest learning was to sit still, and not on her knees on piano bench… none of which she enjoyed learning. Then all of the sudden, it clicked. She’s got an outstanding ear for pitch and fast little fingers–and with a little reminding, she can even sit on the bench like a piano player. Check out her recent piano recital performance:
This kid’s got talent! Look out for a post about her upcoming Drama Maniacs performance in May, which it turns out is not just an on-stage performance, but also a musical. On top of all the “talent” stuff, Ella is most definitely a Maker. She can hardly see a problem without coming up with a solution or alternative, including this homemade “iPad” she made on a whim:
Yep, that’s a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with a paper frame and her unique version of the Apple pen (an Expo dry erase marker) with its very own holder. Before you ask, no, she does not prefer this iPad to her actual iPad (don’t get me started on Robux…and that is not a typo), but hey, that paper iPad is clever, right?! If you think that’s something, check out the robot she made for her school project:
Here are the two paragraphs she had to write about it:
LUCKY, the Cyborg Dog
By Ella Johnson
For my robot I made a cyborg dog, which means he is half dog, half robot. His name is Lucky. There is a remote control that is used to control his body parts. He rolls, cleans anything, and has activities you can do. You can see the scraps from his cleaning on the back of the robot. Last, he is able to clean any surface, both inside and outside, and bumps don’t even slow him down. In fact, he can be used anywhere! Plus, if you get tired of cleaning, you can play some games.
I made my robot using cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, a broken dog headband, a marker, a tic tac toe game, wheels, wood sticks, tubes, a plastic bag, scraps, pipe cleaners, beads, tape, glue, a math game, and part of a foam door bumper. First, I took two cardboard boxes and stacked them on top of each other and made one of them a hat and the other one the body. Then I decorated them with aluminum foil, pipe cleaners, dog ears, and part of a door bumper I cut into a button. Next, I decorated the sides with the tic tac toe game, the math game, the plastic bag with the scraps in it, the dog tail, the tubes, the pipe cleaners, and the markers. Last, I put the wheels and wood sticks on the bottom. I had a lot of fun making my cyborg dog.
See? Clever. In fact, she may be a little TOO clever. Here’s a special home project she made to fool me into thinking that she was sitting in her hammock (as she often is), instead of hiding in her closet laughing at me as I talked to the fake Ella covered in a blanket in the swinging chair:
You’ll have to use your imagination, but when covered, I promise these weird objects looked just like a little girl curled up in her hammock. She gave herself away immediately by laughing at me from her hiding place, but I’m pretty sure there will be more tomfoolery in my future from this one.
Oh, and an update on the bicycle riding she kicked off in January while we were in Austin with cousins: On February 26, Ella rode that bike for 8 miles! As a family, we went to CicLAvia, where they close off the streets for a stretch of 5 miles and allow wheeled riders (bikes, skates, etc) to take over. We didn’t have time to do the entire circuit, but for her first time out on a ride of that length, she rocked it. It probably helped that we were riding in the streets and there were people everywhere playing music and enjoying themselves. Who had time to check the mileage? At the end of the second block, she turned to me, and said, “Mom! I am having so much fun!”
And so, that sums up our most recent version of Ella. Smart, strong, talented and clever. Love it. And if you wonder how I’ll survive that mischievous little imp (no idea where she got that from), it’s all worth it when I get to see these gorgeous smiles:
And it doesn’t hurt when I get blatant bribery notes like the one below. I think we’ll be just fine.
Plus, before you know, I’ll be dealing with this, so I may as well just buckle up:
6 thoughts on “Ella Gets Busy!”
What a great addition to the Johnson family and me!!! Ella & Zoe are adorable, talented, creative, loving, energetic, athletic, intelligent and beautiful❤️ Mom you, as usual, did a magnificent job of portraying this in your writing💫 Thanks for the magnificent snap shot into Ella’s life! What an amazing family🥰 I’m so glad I’m part of it! Reading one time was just not enough; I’ve spent an hour enjoying seeing it over and over❤️ I know Zoe was an hard act to follow but Just as Zoe was exceptionally great at everything Ella is also great at everything! The Jonson are all truly amazing💕love to all! Nina
Thank you, Mom! Love you ❤️
Oh, Ella ❤️. I have a sister four years older than me and it was rough growing up. She was the beauty queen, talented pianist, sang like an angel, and everyone loved her. I competed by all A+s in school and being the wild child who loved life or so Moma said. Today, she and I are best friends and she kind of mouthed me since Moma died. She forgave me for wearing her clothes, hiding behind the sofa to listen to her dates, and ruining her lipsticks lol. Zoe will mother Ella, I bet! Donna
This is so sweet, Donna! And I sure hope you’re right. I can say my sister and I didn’t appreciate one another until much later in life, too…
I can’t stop laughing at Ella’s expression in the robot photo. That’s going to be used in her bio one day when she’s famous a la Marie Curie. Love it!
Agreed! Who needs a headshot when you have these gems?!