Valley Voices

This mom’s goal was to enjoy 11 weeks of summer with her sons, and she did

Silva Emerian with her sons Silas, left, and James.
Silva Emerian with her sons Silas, left, and James. Courtesy

I haven’t written a “summer vacation” essay in a very long time. My boys, however, had to write some version of it when they started school recently. Recounting our summer adventures allowed me to relive the joy of the past three months and reminded me how much I relish spending time with them. The older they get (they are 11 and 14 now), the more fun we seem to have.

Our school year tends to be very structured, with classes, piano lessons, sports and other after-school activities filling our schedule. Once summer hits, I like to put my planner aside and leave lots of open squares on our calendar. We live for easy mornings sleeping in, lounging around in our pajamas, and eating a later brunch (or early lunch!) instead of breakfast.

We don’t have much FOMO (fear of missing out) in our family. We don’t need fancy vacations, monthly trips to Disneyland, or excursions to wild places — although these are super fun. Some summers are more exciting than others, but it’s OK to have a summer of rest, too.

Since we can’t stay in our PJs all day every day (well, we probably could, but we know we shouldn’t), my boys did find some ways to stay active. All through June they attended a tennis clinic at school for three mornings a week. They also had weekly swim parties with their friends from school. This kept the kids connected through the summer and was really fun for the moms as well.

My older son has a summer birthday. That day was all about him, enjoying lunch with his friends and dinner with family. And as his gift, we attended a cubing competition at UCLA. That’s right — he’s a cube-solving whiz. The competition was thrilling and we got to see our kid in his element, twirling a much more advanced cube than Rubik could have imagined, lining up all the colors within seconds. He placed quite high considering this was his first time competing, and made some new friends in the process.

Fresno offers so many fun options for families, even in the summer heat. We devoured the amazing French toast at The Brioche Lady, laughed hysterically at the crazy antics of the guys at the Dude Perfect Show tour stop at the Save Mart Center, and sampled fresh fruit at the Old Town Clovis Farmers Market.

On top of all that, my kids attended Vacation Bible School, spent a week each at summer camp in Frazier Park, and had sleepovers with friends. We spent many afternoons at various coffee shops around town reading, playing on our electronics, and playing cards together. We even managed to squeeze in a visit to the orthodontist for my younger son to get braces.

With just the right balance of lazy and busy, we savored each day of our summer break without anywhere we had to be or any homework we had to do. We read for fun. We ate ice cream for dinner. We probably watched too much television. We stayed up late. We woke up late. And we laughed.

As the start of school crept up on us, we bought backpacks and new sneakers — for much larger feet than we walked into summer with. We talked about what to expect starting middle school and high school. We prayed for our teachers and the new kids and for good grades and good habits. Even while dreading the early mornings and impending homework assignments, we smiled at the thought of eventual cooler weather and seeing friends every day.

What did I do on my summer vacation? I spent just about every waking moment with my boys. And now that they’re back in school and I have a chance to pause and reflect on that fullness of time with them, I am so grateful. Grateful for the conversations, the quiet moments, and the growth and maturity that came over the past 11 weeks at home.

Poet Celia Thaxter wrote, “There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” And so we will carry summer with us into a new school year and all the adventures that autumn will bring.

Silva Emerian of Clovis is a freelance writer and editor, wife and mother to two active boys. Email:; her blog is; on Facebook and Instagram @onmyshoebox.