Category Archives: Behavior

A lot to be thankful for

It’s been ages since I wrote a post and I’d love to say that I’ll do a better job in the future, but it’s impossible to predict how busy life can be, especially with the holidays coming up. So what have I been up to these past few weeks? Months? I’ve mostly been working on expanding my career opportunities in the teaching field, by studying and taking several exams to work towards my teacher certification. My hard work has paid off since I passed my three exams with perfect or almost perfect scores and I can now get my foot back into the educational field. This is only the first step of a long process, during which there will be more studying and more tests to take, and even larger obstacles to overcome down the road, but I know it will be worth it in the end for my kids and myself.

Besides studying, I’ve spent more time on creative activities, including drawing and painting for myself, as well as teaching two art classes at my kids’ school as a volunteer. My goal is to create enough artwork and crafts to make them available for sale online sometime in early 2015. I’ve also recently created five new nature photography calendars for 2015 (the five themes are a year in Southern California, bees and other insectswater lilies, flowers and blooms, and water). The good news is that you can save 65% off on any of my calendars this weekend, so if you’re looking for a unique gift this holiday season, this is a great opportunity.

2015 photo calendar on San Diego

2015 photo calendar on San Diego

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Besides taking steps to realign my career goals with my personal aspirations, a lot of good things have happened (and a lot of bad things too, let’s be honest!). I have made new friends and strengthened existing friendships. I have made additional efforts to stay active and healthy. I have continued encouraging my kids to be curious and inquisitive about the world around them. I have challenged their thinking process and their academic abilities. I have taken them on an amazing vacation to the East coast, where they got to see and learn so much about US history with their own eyes. They enjoyed it so much, they can’t wait to go back and discover more. I also found great roommates, who ended up being way more than what I hoped for. It’s funny how life works sometimes. And of course, now that Thanksgiving is over, our favorite time of the year is coming! Today we’ll start decorating our house for Christmas, playing Christmas songs and reading more and more stories with a holiday theme. And I think our elf on the shelf will be back very soon too. All we need to feel more in the mood is for Mother Nature to turn down the thermostat so it’s not 85 degrees during the day anymore. I don’t think that’s much to ask.

When I say I have a lot to be thankful for, I’m not kidding. This is our jar of good things as it stands one month before the end of 2014. I can’t wait till my kids and I go through it to remember some of these great moments. What are you feeling thankful for this holiday season?

Jar of good things that happened in 2014

Jar of good things that happened in 2014

Advertisements

Goofy Monday: Is the tooth fairy for real?

Toothiana - my favorite tooth fairy from Rise of the Guardians

Toothiana – my favorite tooth fairy from Rise of the Guardians

It’s been a long time since I posted a Goofy Monday and since I’ve managed to take notes about a few goofy moments over the summer, I thought today would be a good time to share them with you. A quick reminder: Son #1 turned 8 over the summer, Son #2 is 6 and 1/2.

The dangers of skydiving
Son #1 (thinking out loud): “Skydiving right into a cactus. That’s one way to feel pain fast.”
You don’t say! Ouch.

History explained in simple terms
Son #1: “When you say a year, BC means before cavemen, and AD means after dinosaurs.”
Me: “That’s just about right.”

How to make women happy
Son #2: “Mama, do you like it when I do something the first time you ask me?”
Me: “I LOVE it!”
This little guy is going to have some very happy girlfriends…

What happened to my birthday month?
Son #1: “Mama, you’re not treating me like it’s my birthday month. You’re telling me to DO things.”
I think he could learn a thing or two from his brother.

What a great summer school teacher I am!
Son #1: “c-7=46, so c=53.”
Me: “Wow, this summer homework is really working.”
Son #1: “No, Mama. I just have a sharp mind.”
Being a mom really is an ungrateful rewarding job.

Is the tooth fairy for real?
Son #2 lost a tooth yesterday and it started this conversation.
Son #1: “Mama, how do we know you don’t take the tooth and put the money there instead of the tooth fairy?”
Me: “Well, which version do you prefer?”
Son #1: “The tooth fairy.”
Me: “Me too.”

Have your own kids told you something recently that made you laugh? Or cry? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

 

Are you a scanner or a diver?

Do you ever have one of those light bulb moments? I recently did, and it’s probably one of the best things that’s happened to me in years. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an article from the UK magazine Psychologies called What do you do when you want to do everything? Of course the  title intrigued me and as I kept reading, I kept thinking, yep, that’s me alright. The article goes on to mention a book by Barbara Sher of the same title, which happens to be sold in the USA as “Refuse To Choose“. I decided to buy right after reading this article. As I started reading it, nodding my head in agreement, I had an epiphany: I am a scanner, and there’s nothing wrong with me!

So who are scanners and divers? You’ll either be one or the other, but you can’t be both. Most people are divers, which means they usually stick to one career path, maybe one hobby (which may change over time) and they focus deeply on them. They become “specialists” in their areas of interest and want to learn as much as they can about them.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are scanners. They tend to be curious not about one thing, but many (not specifically all at once). They don’t like to specialize in an individual field as they find the outlook too restrictive. They enjoy learning about a new subject but eventually get bored once they understand it and move on to another area, job, interest or hobby. Here are a few questions that Barbara Sher asks at the beginning of her book, Refuse To Choose. You don’t have to answer yes to every single question, but if you do to most, you may be a scanner.

Are you a scanner - Refuse To Choose by Barbara Sher

Are you a scanner – Refuse To Choose by Barbara Sher

Many times in my life I have heard people tell me, why don’t you pick one thing and just go with it? You already have experience in this, or a degree in that field. Just stick to it! And that’s been my problem all along. I don’t want to stick to single one thing for my whole life. How boring would that be? To me, life has so much more to offer than a small slice of pie. I want to have it all! Well, technically, I don’t want all of it but I do have a few interests close to my heart I want to be able to entertain on a regular basis. So this is my life as a scanner, the way I’d like it to be from now on, in no particular order (well, except for the first one on the list):

I am a mother, a teacher, a photographer, a linguist, a reader, a mentor, an artist, a writer, a volunteer and a lifelong learner.

Putting it down on paper makes me realize my list isn’t that long, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it all. Barbara Sher even helped me figure out what type of scanner I am (a cyclical Sybil scanner), so I can plan my life around my many interests. I’m really looking forward to this new way of thinking, and living.

If you’re a scanner, you may enjoy Barbara Sher’s book, as well as The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life – A Creative and Practical Guide by Margaret Lobenstine, which I also read recently.

Do you consider a scanner or a diver? (No wrong answer here). What do you consider your main life interest(s)?

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?