Summer’s over and I’m back!

Yesterday was one of those bittersweet moments. I was excited for my boys to start first and third grade, but it also meant that our two months of summer vacation had ended. Sure, my kids can drive me nuts but they’re also a great source of entertainment, fun and never-ending questions.  I took a much-needed break from blogging and some other things to concentrate on my kids, as well as doing some soul searching when it comes to my career path opportunities. I’m stuck in more ways than one where I am, so it’s been a challenge trying to figure out what to do with the given circumstances. I drafted a plan and now that the kids are back in school, I hope to have more time to refine the individual steps. Time will tell. Hopefully I can share some progress and good news as I go along.

I thought I’d share some of our summer adventures in pictures. We finished June by celebrating my birthday and taking off for a week’s vacation once again in the Southern California wooded mountains, in the small town of Idyllwild. There we smelled the pines as we hiked in the forest.

Walking in the woods in Idyllwild

Walking in the woods in Idyllwild

We enjoyed beautiful sceneries and stayed reasonably cool while San Diego experienced a major heat wave while we were gone. We had plenty of picnics in the middle of nature, including by this adorable pond.

Pond and trees by Idyllwild California

Pond and trees by Idyllwild California

We enjoyed the 4th of July parade, which has an entertaining hodgepodge of participants, including musicians, old cars, rescue dogs, firetrucks, and even a special visit by Santa Claus.

Fourth of July parade in Idyllwild

Fourth of July parade in Idyllwild

The skies turned darker as the parade reached its end, until it… rained!!! We were so happy to feel the raindrops, we went out and danced in them for a while. We had more rain and even thunder for the rest of the day and overnight. The smell of wet earth the next day was one of my best memories of this trip.

Raindrops on car windshield

Raindrops on car windshield

Somehow the rain followed us back to San Diego because within the next week, we had a HUGE thunderstorm over our house. Tons of lightning directly followed by thunder, and rain. A lot of rain in very little time. Flash floods, anyone? It lasted maybe 30 minutes but we opened all the house windows to take it all in.

Back home, we enjoyed a lot of free time, and celebrated my oldest’s eighth birthday. The boys also took part in a few more structured activities, like swim lessons, and basketball camp. We celebrated the end of camp with this basketball food art.

Food art - basketball

Food art – basketball

My oldest seems to have inherited my talent for food art. He loves playing with his food as much as I do.

Food art - carrot face in dressing

Food art – carrot face in dressing

Talking about art, the boys had a great time at art camp. This year’s theme was “under the sea”. Lots of bubbly and spooky water creatures came back to our house at the end of camp. The last day features an art show, where you can see every kid’s creation that week.

Art camp show

Art camp show

I had planned to spend some time sharpening my drawing skills this summer. While I forced my kids to do homework, they forced me to draw for them, mostly characters from their favorite video games, including Clash of Clans. Man, that stuff is hard to draw!

Clash of clans character drawing

Clash of clans character drawing

Fortunately I also found a little time, although not as much as I wanted to, to draw other things, like this paper kite butterfly from a photo I had taken a while ago.

Paper kite butterfly in watercolor pencils and black liner

Paper kite butterfly in watercolor pencils and black liner

I wasn’t the only one with the urge to create. Inspired by a comic strip by Calvin and Hobbes, my eight-year old decided to write his first self-help book. This is the cover. Move over, Dr. Phil, you’ve got some serious competition!

When children write self-help books

When children write self-help books

His book contains three steps (illustrations included), the first one being “nobody cares so stop whining”. I just wish the kid would follow his own advice sometimes.

We tried to stay cool on hot days. One way to do that was with water balloon fights. The boys have fun and they (not me!) get to pick up all the balloon pieces after that. :-)

Water balloon fight

Water balloon fight

Of course our summer wouldn’t be complete with the yearly visit from our snake, the infamous red coachwhip! Yep, that’s three years in a row… You can read about the snake’s first visit, and the second one.

Red coachwhip snake in our backyard

Red coachwhip snake in our backyard

But guess what? Unless this snake laid eggs that hatch babies that want to come back next year, there won’t be a snake visit next year. That’s because this guy/girl managed to wrap itself really badly into the netting and died. So I untangled it and threw it in the bushes over our fence. That night, I heard a lot of rustling in those bushes. I thought, wow, the snake wasn’t dead after all! I went outside with a flashlight to see what was going on, only to find a … raccoon! He must have smelled the dead snake and was trying to get it out of the bushes to eat it. I guess they don’t call it the Wild Wild West for nothing.

Of course this wouldn’t be summer in San Diego without wildfires. We had a few near and far from our home. This one was only a few miles away but the wind was blowing smoke and ash in our direction. Never a good thing. Fortunately there was little wind and the wildfire was extinguished the same afternoon. We really have the best firefighters around.

Wildfire in San Diego's Mission Trails summer 2014

Wildfire in San Diego’s Mission Trails summer 2014

Finally, I’ll spare you the photo and I’ll just tell you I got… shingles! My lower back had been bothering me for a while, but since I often have nerve pain there, I didn’t really pay attention. That’s until I saw a red patch the size of a silver dollar on my lower back. At first I thought I had been bitten by a nasty spider, because it hurt just the same. Fortunately it didn’t get any bigger. After some online research I loaded up on vitamin B complex, lysine, and this amazing immune system boosting herbal supplement called Virattack. After a week of treatment, the pain was completely gone (the red spots are fading little by little). If you ever get shingles, give this a try before you go for the heavy-duty prescriptions.

So this is a glimpse of our busy summer in pictures. A lot of fun and adventures, and never a dull moment. How was your summer?

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21 responses to “Summer’s over and I’m back!

  1. Nice that you’re back! The boys are growing up really quickly, too!

  2. Your boys are getting so big! Wow. I love the self-help book. Those words are something we’d all do well to follow! Also loved the raindrops on the car window picture, but I’ll be honest and admit I scurried my eyes past the snake pic. Shudder.

    So sorry to hear about the shingles but glad you’re improving. And I wish you the best of luck with your continued soul-searching as you settle into the next phase of your life.

    • Sorry about the snake picture. I guess I should have put a warning. At least I was kind enough not to share my shingles rash, although it was a lot milder than some photos posted on medical sites… It’s exciting to see my boys grow but sometimes it goes a little too fast for my taste. One day they’ll turn into rolling-eye teenagers who think they know so much more than I do. They’re already succumbing to peer pressure, especially when it comes to playing video games (so they fit in). I try to show them there’s a lot more to this world than their little bubble but it’s an everyday process!

  3. Sounds like a crazy fun summer! I’m glad you got to dance in the rain – I love that wet earth smell after the rain too. The self-help book is so funny – that could be a good idea for a children’s book. It’s been a whirlwind here with work and family things so I’m looking forward to a quieter, cozier fall. We’ll see if that ever happens. :)

    • Haha, I can imagine this self-help book turned into a children’s book, especially knowing that the next steps involve a lot of painful head banging! I hope you get to enjoy a quiet fall. It’s hard to have that here with all the back to school activities. And the fact that it’s about 100 degrees every day until November. Yuck!

  4. You guys have kept busy. Love that self-help book. The world would be a better place if EVERYONE took your son’s wisdom and put it into action in their lives.

    • Haha, believe me, you really want to stop at Step 1, because Step 2 and 3 will cause you a lot of physical pain. There definitely are a lot of people who’d rather complain about everything and anything rather than enjoy smelling the roses every day.

  5. Welcome back! Hope you are feeling better each day. :)

  6. Belated Happy Birthday my friend. Wishing you lots of great Summers ahead and days full of fun adventures. Looks like you and the whole family had an amazing, exciting, memory rich unforgettable Summer. The self help book your son created made me smile. My son needs to make one like it. It is hard to say goodbye to Summer. I just got back and it’s back to school as soon as we arrive. In a way, it helped ease the jet lag and homesickness. A toast to great school days and events ahead! Have a wonderful weekend and all the best to you and your family.

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes! It’s definitely hard to say goodbye to summer, especially when it’s been so much fun and it’s given us the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones. Have a great weekend too!

      • I noticed yesterday that Sunset ended earlier and early morning walk colder. I guess, hints of Fall are finally here as Summer is slowly slipping away. We spent our last weekend in Austin with our closest friend and family. I guess it was our farewell party for Summer and all the fun memories of this season. Have a wonderful week. Best of blessings to you and your family.

      • I wish we had hints of fall in San Diego. Unfortunately September and October are the hottest months of the year, and so far temperatures have been well above 90 degrees every day this month. I love fall and I really miss it. I can’t wait to make apple pie when the weather gives us a break.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful summer . . . except for the snake. Glad that you got to dance in the rain.

    LOVE that Self Help Book. I had a friend who detested whiners. His refrain: STOP YER BELLY-ACHING!

    Beautiful butterfly. Glad you had a chance to fit in some drawing and soul searching.

  8. This quote?

    “Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn’t know where he’s going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety and worry—his life becomes one of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing… he becomes nothing.”

    When I read this, I don’t see whiners. But he is saying that people without goals are all nervous Nellies and worry-warts.

    As long as they keep their frustration, fear, anxiety and worry bottled up inside, your son shouldn’t have to beat them upside the head. :mrgreen:

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