Visiting the ‘US Open of Surfing Championships’ — Yeah!!

US Open of Surfing

This year the “US Open of Surfing Championships” were held in Huntington Beach, California from July 20-28th ending this past Sunday. I was very excited to learn that Max could join the kids and I for the finals this year – it was his first trip to the competition (and my second year with the kids after a long break from going in my 20’s). I have to say that I absolutely love watching live surfing competitions and feel blessed that I have that opportunity living in Southern California.

my little sunshines

The weather was crummy; we saw less than an hour of sun as the day passed, but it did not damper my mood. After being challenged to park (eventually forking up $30 for the day) we made our way to the beach! We found a spot on the sand and watched the women’s and men’s semifinals and part of the finals. Okay, I should say that I watched the surfing. After snack time the kids hit the ocean with dad while I continued to watch the professionals make their signature moves in the Orange County waves.

the 'pool' skateboard style

Eventually we continued on to booths and did some shopping at the “Vans Off the Wall” beach-side store! Matteo ended up with a hat that he would not take off– including wearing it all day to school after I wrote his name on it with a Sharpie marker. We also checked the skateboarders and BMX bike riders. Next we ate lunch at a restaurant and went back to the beach for boogie boarding time that I participated in. The ocean was freezing; but after running around pulling the kids for a while I warmed up.

We were exhausted as our fun filled family day ended at the “US Open of Surfing”. Driving home I already started looking forward to returning next year to watch the world’s best down in Huntington Beach, California once again.

Here is some more of what I saw walking the beach….

the big screen

HB Pier

skateoards beach-style

little sunshines (2)

family picture

the packed beach

(day 232)

Can you ever have too much Nutella?

gigantic Nutella jar

I was putting up groceries in the cupboard the other day when I noticed a new jar of Nutella that Max had bought. Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread that is very popular in Italy. I have noticed over the past few years it being marketed more in the United States as well, but I believe it will never reach the same popularity as in Europe.

Max buys his Nutella at the Italian market where you have a choice between buying the Canadian version or the Italian version. As I looked at the gigantic glass jar (almost 3 3/4 cups – 750g) I recalled that he had told me that he had bought the larger jar because it was Italian and better quality and in a glass jar verses a plastic jar that the Canadian version come in.

I use Nutella on croissants and bananas. Malina loves it more than anyone else in our family I believe. Max puts it on toast. I think we will have to make some crepes to use some of it too – I still don’t know how to make good crepes, so I will leave that task to Max to conquer. Regardless how we use it I know that we will have enough Nutella to last for the next few months with this jar!

You can read more about the topic of our Nutella obsession on my blog A rare treasure – the Nutelleria (Bologna).

(day 231)

Jamaica Vacation

a raft on the sea

When it was decided that our vacation would be to Jamaica we came up with 3 different options on where to stay. These towns included Negril– which has a 7 mile beach, Ocho Rios– close to may of the attractions, or Montego Bay– where we could easily explore the town and visit the beach. We decided to stay in Montego Bay so we could spend time away from the beach too. We also opted to not stay in an all-inclusive resort so that we would explore the island more; it was a great decision.

We stayed at the Gloucestershire Hotel which is located across the street from Doctor’s Cave Beach. From our hotel we could see and more importantly reach the Caribbean Sea in just moments paying a few dollars to access the beach. We also could easily walk downtown to visit the local vendors and almost all the restaurants in the area were easily assessable.

dunns river falls

dunns river falls

In addition to our trip to the Martha Brae River to bamboo raft (this I featured yesterday) we climbed the Dunn’s River Falls. We were able to find a driver for the day with help from our hotel concierge. Looking back visiting Jamaica was ever so relaxing. There are so many places to visit in the Caribbean Islands that I have no clue where I might end up next, this time with my family, but my visit to Jamaica was a very enjoyable island getaway with friends.

Below are some more photos from this trip.

view from hotel

Me at the beach

Jen at the Beach

View from our hotel room & Doctor’s Cave Beach

downtown Montego Bay

downtown Montego Bay (2)

a local with fish

Downtown Montego Bay

(day 230)

Bamboo Rafting in Jamaica

bamboo rafting

I was lucky enough to visit Jamaica one time with some friends for a week. It was only a 5 hour flight from Los Angeles until I arrived to a beautiful paradise. I will be sharing some of my experiences from this trip for the next day or two, but by far my favorite day trip included visiting the Martha Brae River to go bamboo rafting.

posing with our driver

We hired a driver for the day to take us here and a few other places around the island. Here is a photo of our driver and I relaxing with a fruity drink before our river cruise tour began.

our rafting captain

the locals

the locals (2)

animal harmony

Our rafting captain took us on an hour cruise covering three miles on a beautiful afternoon. My friends and I had a blast. I loved seeing the locals on the land as we made our way down the river. One of my favorite moments was when I saw a cow and a bird standing next to each other in complete harmony.

guiding the raft

Eventually I had to give steering the raft a try myself and I am glad to say that I did not flip it over!! If you are ever in Jamaica I would highly recommend taking some time to experience the river cruise first hand.

(day 229)

Is it time for music lessons?

drum time

It’s time to sign Matteo up for some type of lesson to use some of that extra energy that he has. Guess what?? I can’t decide what lesson to sign him up for!! At first I thought soccer was the answer, but then he was not interested in taking it. Maybe I shouldn’t have given him an option?

Next I thought perhaps he would like gymnastics- that is what he asked to take after all. It might be the answer? Or maybe not. He seems to be a natural at baseball, but I have no clue where those lessons are going on; and then came a revelation…. He loves music. In particular he is in love with the drums. To date he has had 2 basic drum sets and neither has survived his wrath. So recently we looked into drum lessons and are at the point where he needs to go in for an assessment with the teacher to see if he’s old enough to focus for lessons at age 4.

One friend asked how I would go about listening to him playing all the time and I had a great answer, “He’ll only play in the studio”- at least to start. For now we need to find the right time for his assessment and go from there. Wish us luck!! And in the meantime my little swimmer will continue working on his free style and butterfly strokes in the pool during his summer swim lessons.

(day 228)

I am all partied out!

the kids- party #1

This past weekend was a weekend full of parties. I had relaxed the weekend before and thank goodness because there was no time to relax this weekend. Having kids I find that we constantly have parties to go to. I actually only commit to going to parties of close friends of either the kids or myself, otherwise it is just too much.

I did learn my lesson to never commit to going to two parties on the same day from experience. I tried that out last year with party #1 starting at the beach at 11:00am and party #2 starting at 3:00pm in the city. The kids fell asleep on the drive to location #2 and we didn’t make it home until after 7:00pm that night. Luckily party #2 was for one of my friend’s kids and I was able to socialize with adults there, eat a good dinner, and drink a beer while the kids enjoyed themselves too. I was wiped out when the evening ended.

So this weekend we had two parties over two days which I thought would be better than two parties on the same day. It was better, but only slightly! Saturday we headed to a mother/daughter tea party that my friend held for her daughter’s 5th birthday. I personally loved the theme since I am a big tea drinker (I do not like coffee). It was so beautifully and creatively decorated. The kids and I had a lovely time. Oh yes, my little Matteo joined us as well for the girl’s party since Max could not look after him. Luckily he is only 4 years old and loves to be with girls and go to girl parties.

After the party we had to begin preparing for party #2 the next day which was a baby shower that I was co-hosting. I forgot how much work it is to throw a party. Wow, so much to do, and for some reason never enough time to finish everything. I am happy to say that as of now both kids have decided to skip having parties this year and opted for trips to amusement parks instead. Yeah for mommy!!

By 9 o’clock in the evening we were home from the day out partying, eating dinner, and shopping for prizes for the games I was organizing. The next day we were up and out of the house by 8 o’clock grocery shopping for more items and picking up the cake for party #2. The party was a great success and everyone in my family had a great time in addition to the guests of honor. Mission accomplished.

Eventually making our way home driving alongside the beach I wanted to take a nap like my little munchkins who were sleeping in the back seat; not an option. Arriving home I had a beer and fell asleep on the couch until it was time to go out for dinner. After this experience I have come up with yet another rule for myself- don’t commit to going to a party one day and host one the next- it is just too much. I wonder what lesson I will learn next!

time for tea

(day 227)