A Day in Photos – Miami

South Beach

I once had a job where I traveled to attend conferences from time to time. A few months after Max and I were married I was given the opportunity to visit Miami Beach, specifically the neighborhood of South Beach, Florida. He was supposed to come with me, but I ended up going with my girlfriend Katie to visit Florida. I headed out a few days early and explored the beach, nightlife, and the city of Miami. I loved the Latin flavor of the area and how warm the Atlantic Ocean was in December (so unlike the cold Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles). I still recall the sand being manageable to walk on (flattened down) and the beach was much wider and longer than our local beaches. Here are a few photos from what I saw.

 View of Miami

The Atlantic Ocean

Wondering around South Beach

Wandering around South Beach 2

Wandering around South Beach 3

Wandering around South Beach 4

Miami Beach

CocoWalk Marketplace

Beautiful pool on Miami city tour

Miami City Tour

(day 252)

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“The Adventures of Pinocchio”

wood shop 1

Last night I began reading a chapter book to the kids. We only have a few to choose from so it was an easy choice to pick “The Adventures of Pinocchio”. It was not until I was married to Max that I learned that the wooden marionette (puppet) named Pinocchio is Italian. He is from the region of Tuscany (Tuscana). Visiting Florence (Firenze) you can find Pinocchio souvenirs everywhere. On our last trip to Florence while checking out the newsstand in the train station I purchased a copy of the English translation of the book by Carlo Collodi (pen name for Carlo Lorenzini).

Here we are two years later and are I have finished reading the Forward and Chapter 1: “How it happened that Mastro Cherry, carpenter, found a piece of wood that wept and laughed like a child”. I am so ready for this adventure myself, forget the children! Okay, let me rephrase that, I am glad that they will learn the real story of Pinocchio as children (as will I as an adult). I love the Disney version as well, and yes, we definitely have that 1940 classic movie as well.

Malina may not have read every day all summer as was requested on her report card, but I will be reading every night for the next month the story about a wooden puppet who became a real boy after many mischievous adventures around Northern Italy starting back in 1881.

wood shop 2

(day 251)

It is almost time for another weekend getaway

sea world

I love to travel. I will go just about anywhere once. My favorite places to go are Paris, Northern Italy (where Max is from), San Francisco, and Maui (where we were married). Living in California I am really blessed because there are so many great places to travel to within the state and most are less than 7 hours away. This is a very good thing since we are not leaving the state of California this summer.

Malina’s birthday is in two weeks and my little girl will be 7 years old!! The original plan was to spend the day at Disneyland in Anaheim. She opted for that over having a birthday party (excellent decision Malina) ! Later I realized that her birthday is actually over a holiday weekend (Labor Day) – so instead of going to the happiest (and subsequently most expensive) place on earth we are heading south to Sea World in San Diego. Although we go to San Diego once or twice a year the kids have never been to Sea World and the land of Shamu (the orca whale) before. So, yes I am now counting down the days until the weekend getaway to San Diego which is only a few weeks away!

And now that I think about it we will also stop at Mission San Luis Rey (40 miles north of San Diego in Oceanside). I know my family will love visiting another mission with me since it has been 4 months since I have dragged them, I mean taken them, to a mission!

(day 250)

Santa Cruz through a child’s perspective

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

I have a very special place in my heart for the town of Santa Cruz, California. The first images that I saw of this town were in the vampire movie “The Lost Boys”. The boardwalk looked amazing and I always wanted to visit the town to explore in person. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area for one year I never made the trip there being that Santa Cruz was at least two hours from where I lived and I did not have a car.

Visiting Santa Cruz finally for the first time in the spring of 2012 I loved it! We spent our entire day on the boardwalk first eating lunch and enjoying the rides. After our visit I quickly purchased a DVD of the movie “The Lost Boys” to revisit the town from time to time.

Returning again this year on spring break we stayed overnight and we were able to see more of Santa Cruz. The town consists of an “eclectic group” of people and reminds me of a nicer Venice Beach- keep in mind that I will not take my kids to Venice Beach again until they are teenagers. Max thinks that it is a good town for students, surfers and the hippie type of lifestyle. He vows to return with us here next year. The kids and I fondly talk about our time here time to time and sometimes they ask me if we can return to Santa Cruz for the day. They still do not realize that Santa Cruz is more than six hours from Los Angeles.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk- Mike-Ryan-Malina

Photo: Mike, Ryan and Malina on a big kid ride


The other day I was on Facebook and my friend Mike did a post about visiting the boardwalk with his family. They live less than an hour away from Santa Cruz and we actually met up with him and his family on our last visit to Santa Cruz. I loved what he had to say so much that I would like to share it with you all too:


Well Santa Cruz as always you didn’t disappoint. And my kid has learned a lot of new terms. The way he was looking around at everything was crazy. He has been there a lot, but this day was really busy and everyone, as in every type, was at the boardwalk.

Driving to the boardwalk could only be compared to the scene from the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” with Chevy Chase. When, I believe, they are driving through the Southside of St. Louis, and the kids are staring out of the windows checking out things they have never seen before. My kid had his window down, eyes wide open and firing questions at me non-stop.

Throughout the day here are some of the questions I got to field:

Ryan: Daddy what’s that smoke smell?
Me: It’s marijuana.
Ryan: What’s marijuana?
Me: It’s really bad. Hugs not Drugs!
Me: People smoke it over here like it’s a cigarette.

Ryan: Daddy someone just walked by with a parrot on their shoulders; are they a pirate?
Me: No, they are just a resident of Santa Cruz.

Ryan: Daddy why is that guy laying on the ground next to a grocery cart?
Me: He probably got tired walking home from the store with his groceries and just needs a nap.

Ryan: Why do they only have sodas in that stroller? Where is the baby?
Me: The soda (Probably 6 12-packs of beer) probably got tired and needed a nap. The mommy probably is already at the beach (And no we never saw a baby).

Ryan: Why does that man have paint (tattoos) all over his face?
Me: He just wants you to know not to bump into him.

Ryan: Why is that person’s hair like that?
Me: It’s called dreadlocks. It happens when you don’t wash your hair for like 5 days.
Ryan: Don’t let me go 5 days without shampooing okay?
Me: It’s a deal!

Ryan: Is that man homeless?
Me: Sorry buddy I think he is.
Ryan: Is that dog homeless?
Me: I think so.
Ryan: How come the homeless man gets a dog and I don’t?
Me: Because, if you remember, I am allergic to all animals.

Ryan: Why are the police talking to that dirty man?
Me: He probably wants to be his best friend.

Ryan: Why are those people drinking out of brown bags?
Me: Because they think it looks cool.
Ryan: Why would someone drink out of a bag? Are they drinking soda?
Me: No beer, they are called ‘tall boys’.
Ryan: Did you ever drink out of a bag?
Me: Yes, but I stopped doing that. You’ll probably do it someday.

Ryan: What’s that smell?
Me: It’s Santa Cruz

Ryan: Daddy that woman’s really dressed up.. Look at those pretty shoes..
Me: Yeah, she’s probably going to a fancy party. She probably is waiting on a friend to give her a ride. (She was a prostitute)

Ryan: What’s that smell?
Me: Oh, it’s pee.
Ryan: But we are not in the restroom.
Me: I know.

Ryan: What’s that women carrying to the beach, is it a toaster?
Me: Don’t be silly it’s just a rice cooker (Seriously one of the weirdest things, but just go with it I thought… I think it’s a good idea since I like rice and don’t really know how else I would bring it to the beach).

Ryan: That woman has very shinny pants.
Me: They are called chaps. And no Ryan I have never seen anyone with chaps and ‘Daisy Dukes’.
Ryan: That’s right because we are the Southern Boys. Can I be Luke today?
Me: Sure bud!

Ryan: Why does that woman have a big metal thing through her nose?
ME: To catch buggers.
Ryan: Daddy, seriously why?
Me: Little man I have no idea why people do that. Go ask her I would love to know.
Ryan: Dad (Rolling his eyes).

Ryan: Dad why is that woman smoking holding her kid?
Me: I don’t know that mommy is making a bad choice.
Ryan: Let’s go tell the cops.
Me: Sorry bud it’s not illegal, it’s just a bad choice.

Ryan: Why is that guy carrying a suitcase to the beach?
Me: He is probably having a cruise ship pick him up (Seriously a large hard case suitcase to the beach).

Ryan: Look dad an iguana, a live iguana on that man!
Me: Cool.
Ryan: Don’t you think that is weird?
Me: No, we are in Santa Cruz.

Ryan: This place is the best, can we come back tomorrow?
Me: I agree little buddy it is the best. Not tomorrow but soon!

*** Mike, thank you for letting me share this conversation that you and Ryan had on my blog. I too love Santa Cruz and can’t wait to return. So, we’ll see you guys same place, same time, next year? ***

Santa Cruz Boardwalk- Matteo-Ryan-Malina

(day 249)

Happy birthday to me

me @ 10 years old


Here I am blowing out the candles on my 10th birthday.. so many years ago


Today is my birthday and I am taking the day to celebrate ME. As a wife and mother I often put myself last, which is fine, but every once in awhile I do put myself first. The general rule is that on my birthday I have made it a point to do whatever I want. After dropping the kids off at camp and school in a little while I will have the whole day to myself.

This is how I will spend the day:

(1) Lunch with Max at the restaurant of my choice

(2) Going to the mall for a “little” shopping

(3) Taking a walk along the beach- or maybe biking at the beach (by the way- for those of you that have read my recent posts the kids figured out how to ride their bikes without the training wheels).

(4) Going for a nice swim in my favorite pool

I’m not committing myself to doing all of these things, but will definitely do two or three of them!

It is so wonderful to be alive & healthy!!

(day 248)

Organized Chaos at the Uniform Store

inside the uniform store

School is around the corner for Malina. Many schools in the area start today, but we have two more weeks. Preparing for school we first bought a new backpack and matching lunch sack recently. This past weekend we made the trip to the uniform store.

It was a little difficult to locate the uniform store. After 5 minutes of driving around we found it. There were people everywhere in front of the store and no parking. Then we found parking. Walking into the store I was in shock looking around. Even more people were inside and we learned that instead of walking around the store choosing your items you actually had to go to the counter and wait for someone to help you.

After a few minutes of waiting we were helped by customer service representative named Julie. It was a lesson in patience, but we eventually we ended up with everything on the list except for one jacket. At one point during our hour in the store the clothing manager walked by and said “Why are you still here, it’s been quite some time since you arrived? (jokingly)”. My reply was “I am thorough and want to purchase everything on one trip”. I also noticed that there were so many people in the store at another point that they had customers waiting for others to exit the store before more could be let in.

Hundreds of dollars later we left the uniform store and the late morning of organized chaos. Look below at our reward: Malina is set for her first day of 2nd grade at her new school.

in the uniform

(day 246)