Tag Archives: water balloon fight

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?

Our jar of “good things that happened in 2013”

“I hope that this year to come, you make mistakes…Make new mistakes. Make
glorious, amazing mistakes…Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make
your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~Neil Gaiman

Happy new year! I wish you and your loved ones a year filled with happiness, love, friendship, kindness, caring, fun, and new experiences. I don’t really make new year’s resolutions anymore, but rather a list of projects I want to accomplish each year. I got a lot crossed off my list in 2013 but I have a few leftovers I’m shifting to 2014, and a lot more to add. I’m looking forward to making some things happen this year.

If you follow my blog, you may have heard me mention our jar of “good things that happened in 2013” a few times. As the year comes to an end, we tend to remember the bad but not always the good. For the first time in 2013, my boys and I used this jar to focus on the positive and help us remember all the good things that would happen to us throughout the year. As 2013 started, I was wondering how we’d get our jar full. After all, it’s quite a big jar.

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

But as we opened our jar yesterday, it was full to the top. And full of many great events we forgot about. So in no particular order, here are a few of our many favorite.

When it comes to nature, we were especially lucky this year. We saw baby bunnies playing from the window of our cabin while vacationing in the Southern California mountains. Apparently rabbits love to play leapfrog.

Bunnies playing in Idyllwild

Bunnies playing in Idyllwild

While hiking in a local park a few months ago, we spotted a mule deer down the trail, and a few hours later watched a teenage boy pull a huge wide mouth bass out of a pond.

We saw a painted turtle laying eggs while walking in our town’s park. Something we won’t forget for a long time.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened Lemur Walk, an exhibit with no fence between you and the animals, so we got to walk with the lemurs. Very cool!

Lemur walk at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lemur walk at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Oh, and let’s not forget I freed a snake by myself that was tangled in our backyard!

We saw Dino Jaws, a great exhibit with lifesize animatronics at the San Diego Natural History Museum. We also enjoyed their Mammoth and Mastodons exhibit later in the year.

Dino Jaws at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Dino Jaws at the San Diego Natural History Museum

We visited our first lighthouse. We took a 90-minute train ride on a old train at the San Diego Southwest Pacific Railway Museum.

My kids has their first try at fishing with friends of mine. That same day, we went on our first pedal boat ride and had a blast.

More things we did together: not one, but two Easter egg hunts (one at a local park, one in a museum); a very fun mother/son laser tag event at school; a water balloon fight in our backyard; apple picking in the fall; pumpkin surface carving for Halloween.

Surface carved pumpkins

Surface carved pumpkins

My kids learned to swim. They have a lot more to go but it really clicked this year.

They crashed a birthday party and got to hit the piñata a few times and collect some candy!

My youngest lost his first tooth and is now quickly catching up to his brother.

My sister came to visit us, after we didn’t see each other for three years. Great highlight of 2013.

I learned how to make homemade yogurt and I haven’t gone back to store bought since.

I completed PiBoIdMo, coming up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. It got me motivated to write picture books again.

My kids got several awards at school for their efforts and good behavior. My youngest graduated preschool and got a big dinosaur book because he was the boy in his class who did the most book reports. Dinosaurs, roar!

We got our elf on the shelf, Wink. We said goodbye to him on Christmas Eve and we can’t wait to see him again sometime later this year.

We went to Legoland California and saw the lifesize X-wing starfighter. Apparently, this was a big deal because I put it in the jar not once but three times! We also went to enjoy some Christmas lights and concerts there. We spent the evening of New Year’s Eve there watching the Lego brick drop (on right of photo below) and the fireworks. What a great way to finish a great year!

Brick drop at Legoland on New Year's Eve

Brick drop at Legoland on New Year’s Eve

Overall, this was a great experience for us and we loved recollecting each event as we read our pieces of paper. We’re looking forward to putting more good things in our jar, which now states “good things that happened in 2014”.

What good things happened to you in 2013 you’d like to share?