Balboa Island Cheer-Ups

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This hardly ever happens but this last Saturday we had NOTHING planned. So we called a family meeting and hashed that out. Free time! Let’s use it!

The kids would have been perfectly content to sit in their rooms watching Youtube and Musically videos on their phones for hours on end but we knew we needed to get everyone together to do something a little more productive.

Me, being the super organized anal person that I am, grabbed a nearby white board and wrote down all the things we’d like to do.  I added things like “weed the atrium” and “paint the hallway.” They added things like “Soak City,” “Griffith Observatory,” “Ojai Lavendar Fields…”  This went on and on and in true bicker-sister fashion and nobody agreed on anything EXCEPT Balboa Island, probably because there was a candy store involved for the kids and a walk involved for me. (I’m the self-appointed resident health nut that annoys everyone.)

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Balboa Island for breakfast! Who knew! We have a shortage of good breakfast places in our neighborhood and the ones that are good have long lines around the building on a weekend. We didn’t know we could take a quick hop and a jump over to Balboa Island and have GREAT Mexican food at a place called Wilma’s Patio for breakfast. Hot Diggety! Bug and I were so happy. We could have Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday and never complain. The Persians in the house, not so much. Thankfully, Wilma had had other options too.  Joon had strawberry waffles and Payam had some kind of spicy Italian scramble. Everybody was happy.

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Then we did my favorite part: the walk around the island.

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I love looking at all the miniature houses and admiring the gardens.

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I didn’t mention this earlier but Joon has been navigating some difficult friendship alliances at school lately. It’s like being on a show of Survivor with people getting voted off the island sometimes.  This is totally normal for her age and Bug has had to deal with them too. But this particular friendship that’s been troubling Joon has really gotten her down.  It’s affected everything. Everyday she comes home saying she hates school and school hates her.  So even though she wanted to just sit in her room wearing her black sweatshirt with the hood pulled over her head and plugged into her headphones and ignoring everyone we really pushed her to get out and cheer up.

So when Payam suggested renting a Duffy boat and taking a little cruise around the harbor I knew it would be just the trick.

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And it was! Bug and Joon loved it! They chatted and bantered away like only sisters can. The sunny day drenched us with brightness. It was really hard not to enjoy the warm weather (that’s actually finally trying to be nice for a change instead of being all sweaty-sweaty dog’s breath), the cool breeze, the pretty water and all the boats everywhere.

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It did us all good. Joon is still struggling but we all felt connected. Sometimes I feel like she shuts us out and deals with it all in her head. She’s a tough cookie and it makes me sad that she internalizes her emotions. Growing up is so hard. I remember dealing with friendship break-ups myself and it was PAINFUL! Just because you are younger and bounce back quicker doesn’t mean it isn’t the same kind of pain we feel as adults. So we’re trying to be gentle with her.

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I think she’ll be fine. She just needs time.

Locals Rarely Get it Right

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Yesterday we packed a picnic dinner in a cooler and headed down to the beach to stake out a fire pit. Little did we know everyone was staking out a fire pit on a Monday night. Monday? Really? Here I thought I was being proactive and heading out at 5:30 when my ideal photo-taking time in my head was actually 7:15 (the magical glow light hour).

Sure enough, the beach was crowded and every single fire pit was taken. Everyone and their cousin was at the beach on a Monday night because it’s summer and everyone is on vacation!

Except me. I was going to the beach to take photos for a job.

So I did the next best thing: I went fire pit to fire pit asking everyone politely if we could just “borrow” their fire pit for half an hour. Amazingly the first fire pit I walked up to said yes! Payam got a fire going in minutes and I snapped away for my shoot. The girls posed. We ate hot dogs and marshmallows and then we hustled out of there.

Sadly, in my haste to not overstay our welcome at the borrowed fire pit, I kind of missed my ideal photo-taking light by an hour or two.

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It’s okay. I didn’t get the *magical shot* I had my heart set on but I got several “good enough” shots.  And as a bonus I got the whole family out of the house and outdoors to the beach for some good old-fashioned FREE entertainment.

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You’d think that since we only live 15 minutes from a beautiful beach we would be down here all the time. I hang my head in shame. We hardly go at all. Maybe once a month if we remember. I think because we live so close to it, we never think to “make a day of it,” We just go for a quick hour here or there, which isn’t really doing the beach right. To really enjoy it you do have to go early, camp out and stay long. I think as locals we kind of miss out on that and it’s a shame.

So yesterday, even though it was for a job, was a small stab at getting it right. We didn’t camp out and stay all day (which would have been a good idea for staking out a fire pit and getting my *magical shot*) but we did stay late. We sat on the sand and watched the sun set until it changed the whole sky into an ombre layered dessert of pastels. It was so beautiful and best of all it was FREE!

We looked around at all the visiting families laughing, snacking, swimming, playing tag football…and realized how incredibly smart they were. They got it right.

Now if I can just get off the couch more often and get it right too!