Summer memories, 2021

Although the kids have already headed back to school, here’s a quick recap on the summer for memory’s sake.

With COVID-19 vaccinations in the spring, summer plans opened up more than last year but we were still being cautious as our youngest isn’t able to get vaccinated yet and there are still breakthrough cases of people getting sick with the virus even after being vaccinated.

Each of the camps the boys went to had mask requirements (Z to a teen leadership skills at one JCC and the younger boys at the JCC camp where I work, as well as one week of LEGO camp for my youngest.) In June, Z went to play basketball for a couple hours a day at his new high school during the weeks he didn’t have camp. So June was pretty scheduled.

Here are some summer highlights:

A few hours in Sedona

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we sent to Sedona for the day, which was a nice break from the heat. We hiked Red Rock State Park, which included a beautiful creekside tour kept cool by big trees, then walked around the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, where we had a delicious lunch at The Secret Garden Cafe.

Red Rock State Park

Vegas trip

For several years, we have visited my aunt and cousin (and my cousin’s family) in Vegas each summer, usually for the Fourth of July. We skipped the trip last year for obvious reasons so were especially excited to make the trip this year.

We headed out on a Friday (after camp) and stayed in a Homestead Suites in Henderson near my aunt’s house. The hotel just reopened its breakfast buffet the week earlier so after breakfast we headed to my aunt’s house then met my cousin and her daughter at Area 15 in Las Vegas.

Area 15 offers a variety of immersive experiences, such as virtual reality, axe-throwing, zip-lining and – the reason we were there – OmegaMart.

One day a few months ago, our 12-year-old told me, “Mom, there’s a grocery store in Las Vegas that I really want to go to, can we go there sometime?” Huh? We ended up watching some videos on YouTube about it and I decided that we’d go this summer as part of a pre-bar mitzvah present. Before going, when people asked me about it, I couldn’t really explain what it was because it I didn’t really understand it myself. But it was a really unique and fun experience.

The entrance is set up like a grocery store and all the products are actually pieces of art by a variety of artists. Then you walk through a cooler and are immersed in this other world of lights and music and interactive, immersive exhibits. I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it, but it was a fun and unique experience.

Area 15 had art installations outside the entrance.

Next, we went with my aunt to an immersive Van Gogh exhibit, where images of his the artist’s work were projected on the walls of a large room accompanied by music and a some narration. It lasted about a half hour or so and was a relaxing experience.

After that we dropped my aunt off and went swimming at the hotel then out to dinner at Balboa Pizza in The District at Green Valley Ranch, a cute little California surfer restaurant with really good pizza. Then some ice cream then headed back to the hotel.

The next morning we met my aunt, cousin, cousin’s hubby and daughter at Lindo Michoacan, gourmet family-owned Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious and the company was wonderful!


Plano, Texas

The next summer trip was a mother-son pre-bar mitzvah trip. I took J with me to visit my sister in Plano, Texas, where she lives with one of her daughters and granddaughter. The last time we saw adorable Grace, she was a baby so it was so exciting to see her at age 2, walking and talking and it was so fun to interact with her in real life rather than just seeing pictures on a screen.

J and I took a Lyft from the Dallas Love Field airport, which is about 30 minutes from my sister’s house. My sister made dinner and got special desserts to celebrate our August birthdays.

Over the weekend, we went to the Heritage Farmstead Museum – lots of cute farm photo ops, especially with Grace and the animals! She and Jadon fed the chickens and there were also goats, turkeys, ducks and a donkey. One thing I thought was cool was that even though it was a historical farm built in 1891, it had some modern-day aspects, like a QR code on a blacksmith display that opened up a video about what a blacksmith does. There was even a one-room schoolhouse! We also went to the Jack Carter Pool, which included water slides and a lazy river (as well as a cute toddler area for our little toddler). Good thing we went on Saturday because 24 hours later, there was a huge storm that surprised as we headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up some food for dinner.

Earlier in the day on Sunday, my sister introduced us to Dreamscape, a fun immersive virtual reality experience – we helped reunite a family of whales in “The Blu” and met some aliens in “Alien Zoo” (you can even “pet” an alien…)

The next morning, before getting ready to head to the airport, my sister dropped us off at the Oak Point Recreation Center in Plano, where Jadon and I went on a (slightly muddy) hike. It was so green and beautiful and a great place to get a break from the desert!. It was awesome having this trip with Jadon, as well as some sister time and niece/grand-niece time (my nephew also stopped by for a visit, which was great!). It was also fun to see my sis’s new Air BNB (which is part of her house and is where we stayed).

Other summer memories

Between the trips, there were visits at Savta’s pool (and the giant watermelon, strawberry and sundae rafts); COVID vaccinations for the older boys; gardening in the backyard; an indoor-unmasked Father’s Day; bar mitzvah lessons; an all-nighter that lasted until about 3 a.m. (Adam wanted to stay up all night and Jadon, Adam and I watched “Zathura” then Adam and I watched “The Little Rascals” after everyone fell asleep); Zach met his friends at the outdoor malls for dinner and movies on several evenings; a high school tour; haircuts (including Jadon, who donated his very long ponytail to Locks of Love for his bar mitzvah project); landscaping (both the front and back yard) and house painting.

Father’s Day
Jadon’s hair before his haircut
Jadon with Nadia, who has been cutting the boys’ hair for their entire life.

This of of course doesn’t include the hours spent in front of screens, but those pictures wouldn’t be as fun to share.

August brought birthday celebrations, back-to-school preparations, and a long list of things to do for J’s bar mitzvah (which included the landscaping and painting, which we wanted to do before we had guests over for that day).

We are now on the other side of all that and taking a big breath.

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