Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 Goals Update

April was a chilly, rainy month, but I didn't mind too much since I spent much of it visiting my in-laws in El Salvador!  I'm hoping that May will bring some warmer, drier weather.  Despite my two week vacation, I'm still on the hook for my 2011 goals that I set out for myself in January.  Click here for more information.

Visiting my in-laws was on the list, specifically because my husband's grandparents on his mother's side are still alive, and our son is their only great-grandchild.  Having living great-grandparents is a pretty special thing in my opinion, so we're making the effort to visit once a year.

My thesis is still moving along, and I've set a date of the end of May to have a completed 1st draft.  I'll let you know how this goes at the end of next month!  I have a chapter and a half to write, and a conclusion.  I work on my thesis 3 days per week and have my son home two days, so I'll have to make good use of my time.

Improving our outdoor space and garden was on my list, and today we revamped the flower garden at the front of the house, digging out grass from where it didn't belong, creating a nice edge and putting down mulch.  We also planted a boxwood in a space that's been driving me nuts since we moved in two years ago, and also decided upon which plants to put in when it warms up a bit more.  I'm really pleased with the results, and I can't wait to see it in the summer when everything's in bloom. 

Spending time with family was also high on my list of priorities, and we were blessed to spend time with both sides of the family this month and to see my husband's youngest brother who we haven't seen since 2008. 

Finally, I've posted everyday as per the blog dare.  Some days have been a struggle, but I'm thrilled to have kept up with the daily posting for the past four months.  When I started this blog last December, I thought I would post something once or twice a week.  The blog dare has helped me make my blog a high priority in my life, and I'm thankful for that. 

Until next month...

Friday, April 29, 2011

So did you watch?

I thought of a lot of topics for today's post, but let's be honest, the Royal Wedding took over the imagination of the world today.  I'll admit it, I got up early to watch, and I'm glad I did.  I'm not a Royal follower or anything, but I enjoy these once in a lifetime type events, so I made a point to catch it.

I remember watching Princess Diana's wedding as a child with my mom and my grandmother, so I blame them for my interest!  I know that no one needs a run down of one of the most covered events in history, so I'll limit my post to the 5 things that struck me the most.

Five Things on a Friday: Royal Wedding Edition

1- Kate Middleton & Prince William: She looked beautiful and her dress will become a timeless classic.  Her sister's dress was stunning as well, and the children in the wedding party were super cute and well behaved.  The Prince looked pretty darn cute himself, all blushing and shy.  Maybe it's just me, but was anyone else surprised at how many names he has?  My goodness. 

2- The Queen: I want to look as good as the Queen does at 85 years old. She was radiant in yellow, and could pass for a woman 15 years younger.  Her husband was pretty spry for pushing 90 as well.  I also noticed that she didn't have to sing along to God save the Queen.  But her husband sang.  Good man.

3- The Ring: I held my breath when it looked as though that ring wouldn't go on the bride's finger.  Every woman's nightmare.  Then I realized that she didn't put a ring on his finger.  Wonder why?

4- The Kiss: The balcony kiss was a bit awkward, but then I know that my wedding kiss was a bit awkward too, and I didn't have a million people screaming in my ear at my wedding.  On second thought, their kiss was pretty good, all things considered.

5- The Fascinators: British women don't screw around when it comes to their hats.  Or fascinators,  as  they are officially called.  I informed my husband that I have a new addition to my bucket list: Attend a function that requires a fascinator as part of the attire.  Not just a hat; anyone can throw on a hat.  I want to wear one of those crazy, precariously perched works of art that cost more than the rest of the outfit put together.

One last thought- I wonder if any of the Royals are gluten free?  Do you think there's a meal choice option on the invite?  Do you call up Buckingham Palace and explain your dietary restrictions if you have celiac disease?


Kate was a commoner. 

You just never know.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recipe: Smothered Pork Chops

This recipe is one I tried from a cookbook that belongs to my sister that is geared to cooking with children, called Cooking with Kids.  I don't make much pork, but there was a sale and I bought a pack on impulse.  I remembered this recipe and gave it a try.  This would make a great sauce for chicken or for ribs as well.  I like my sauces thick and this one thins out as it cooks, so I will probably add some cornstarch or some arrowroot next time, or cook it a bit longer to thicken it up.

My son ate two pork chops when I tried this recipe for the first time, so I thought I'd share it.

6 pork chops
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
 3 tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
dash salt and pepper

My additions to the recipe:
2 handfuls baby spinach or chopped kale
dash of hot sauce
chopped green pepper and parsley for garnish

Oven 350F
1- Season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in pan and brown pork chops on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
2-Put pork chops in a casserole dish and cover with chopped onion.  If using spinach or kale, arrange around the pork chops
3- Mix ketchup, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in a bowl until combined.  Add hot sauce if using.  Pour over pork chops.
4- Cover and bake for 1 hour.
5- Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped parsley or green onions.  Serve on a bed of rice or spinach.

Still in the casserole dish, without any garnish

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

First, from the strange fact of the day file, I learned at the botanical gardens that Vaporub takes its name from the vaporub tree.  Who knew?

Apparently the tree is native to Central and South America.  Proof that nature provides the best medicine!

And second, just because I came across this photo while looking for the vaporub one and it made me smile, my little munchkin all wrapped up like a burrito, on the hammock in 35C/95F weather, with his snowman teddy bear:

                                                        HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cook Book Review: Gluten Free Cakes from Around the World

Title: Gluten Free Cakes from Around the World: Traditional and Time Tested
Author: Patricia J. Browne
Format: ebook
Price: $9.97
Buy it HERE at the Gluten Free Around the World website

Disclaimer:  The author of this book provided me with a free copy  in return for my review.  I did not receive any payment, and I do not make any money from book sales.  My review is an honest personal assessment of the cook book based on the results I had baking some of the recipes.

Review:  Gluten Free Cakes From Around the World is a collection of cakes that are naturally gluten free.  No complicated flour substitutions required.  The book is divided into sections by cake type, not geographical location, and includes nut and nut free cakes, cakes with grains, seeds, roots and tubers, chocolate and chocolate free.  The author provides substitution ideas for those who are dairy free, like my son.  She also includes a section of toppings and fillings, categorized into dairy and non-dairy sections. 

I was impressed to see that the table of contents included cakes from a wide cross-section of countries, including Spain, Mexico, Italy, Czech Republic, Martinique, Russia and Morocco among others.  I even found a cake in there from the closest city in Italy to where my Dad was born, Pescara.   I'm looking forward to trying that cake out! 

I chose two cakes to make, and I intentionally chose two of the simplest cakes that did not require any complicated equipment or tricky procedures.  I'm not a particularly skilled baker, and I didn't want my results skewed by my lack of baking prowess!  The first cake I tried was the Easy Orange Garbanzo (Chickpea) Cake from Mexico, which used cooked chickpeas as the base.  I whipped it together quickly while dinner was cooking for my taste testers, and it baked while we ate.

Easy Orange Garbanzo Cake

The result was a lightly flavoured cake that reminded me of a coffee cake, although denser.  The recipe called for dusting the top with powdered sugar, but I didn't have any so I just sprinkled some regular sugar on top.  Not nearly as fancy, but it did the trick.  The flavour was a nice mixture of cinnamon and orange, and it passed the taste test of my two year old.  The recipe states that it serves 6-8, and we definitely got that many slices out of it, but that's without anyone wanting seconds.  I would suggest baking two of them or slicing the cake into squares, rather than traditional slices. 
Slice of Easy Orange Garbanzo Cake

We were in a bit of a hurry to taste it, so you can see from the photo that we didn't let it cool properly and the bottom is still a bit moist.  Entirely my fault, not the fault of the recipe.

The second cake I made was the Simple Walnut Cake from Italy, and I prepared it for Easter.  The cake was simple to make and only needed 4 ingredients: eggs, walnuts, sugar, and lemon juice.  It sounded too good to be true!  My toddler helped me prepare this cake and it was almost as easy to make as a cake from a mix.  This cake had a springy, almost angel food cake quality to it.  I would recommend making two and layering them with a cream-cheese style icing if dairy isn't a problem, or to use a glaze on top.  The cook book recommends dusting with icing sugar, which would be nice too.
Simple Walnut Cake
Simple Walnut Cake

I was encouraged enough by the results of the two cakes I made to want to try more of the recipes.  I love that so many of the cakes don't need any flour at all, and are so simple to prepare.  The two cakes I made had a wonderful texture and flavour, and were well received by my taste testers aged two to sixty two.

My one wish for the cook book would be the addition of photographs alongside the recipes, mainly since many of the cakes are unfamiliar and it would be nice to have the reassurance of the photos to compare with my final results.  Other than that, I was pleased with what this cook book had to offer.

Verdict:  I recommend this recipe book.  The cake recipes are unique and interesting, and are a nice change from the typical commercial mixes available for gluten free cakes.  Several recipes have short ingredient lists, with inexpensive items.  I really appreciated the international selection of cakes I otherwise would not have known about, and I particularly enjoy the fact that these cakes are naturally gluten free.  It reminds me that not EVERYTHING has to be made with white flour, and expanded my taste buds at the same time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Menu Plan

This week's plan was a little rushed due to the Easter Weekend, but I managed to get one together today!  Unfortunately, cooking for the week in advance did not happen, so I'll be cooking day-by-day this week.

Monday: Oven Baked Turkey Strips with a Green Salad

Tuesday: Smothered Pork Chops on a bed of Wilted Spinach and a Waldorf Salad (just apple slices for the little guy)

Wednesday: Pureed Green Goodness Soup with Baked Polenta Rounds and leftover Salad

Thursday: Refried Beans with Guacamole, Tomato Salsa and Corn Tortilla Chips

Friday: Breakfast For Dinner: Egg Omelette (or as my son calls it, Egg Waffle), Sliced Turkey Sausage, Home Fries and Fruit Salad

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Easter was lovely today, spent with my parents, my sister and my niece.  We even had a few unexpected visitors at my parents' place in the afternoon.  After a windy, chilly morning, the weather changed and the afternoon was sunny, warm and beautiful! 

My son and my niece enjoyed their Easter Basket of non-candy/chocolate goodies, particularly the springy suction cup eggs:

Stickers, Bubbles, Sunglasses and Springy Eggs

As you can see, my son particularly enjoyed his sunglasses.

Later, the two little ones enjoyed my niece's brand new swing set
Those papers you see are the instructions; the set is NEW  
We also enjoyed a wonderful gluten free dinner:
-onion soup
-baked ham and lamb chops
-spinach salad
-mashed potatoes
-Brussels sprouts

Followed by rice paper fruit rolls in a homemade sauce and a gluten and dairy free walnut cake I made with the help of my two year old.  I'll be posting a review of the cookbook I got the recipe from on Tuesday.
Gluten and Dairy Free Walnut Cake

We even managed to sneak in a little quiet time in the backyard after we came home this afternoon. 

I have a lot to be thankful for this Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Could it be....Spring?

It's as though Mother Nature has finally decided to let her hair down!  The sun was shining, a slight breeze was blowing and there wasn't a cloud in the sky (most of the time).  I was so inspired that I wound my way through the still limited pickings at the local garden centre, just to take advantage of the weather while it lasts! 

Warm weather makes me more productive, I think. 

Patio set was put together and out.

One garden bed topped up with soil and turned. 

Seedlings ready to be sowed indoors.

Walnut cake baked for dessert tomorrow.

One children's wagon assembled.  I have nothing good to say about how ridiculously difficult it was to put that sucker together.  Then we took it for a spin around the block.

All in all, a fun, productive day.  The sun should shine more often!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gluten and Dairy Free Good Friday Dinner

Tonight for dinner, my mom and my sister put together a great meal that everyone could enjoy. 

On the menu:
-oven baked cod with salt, pepper and dill, served with lemon and dairy free butter
-home-baked gluten free cornbread made with rice milk
-corn salad
-oven baked fries

For dessert:
-gluten and dairy free almond macaroons
-baked apples with melted chocolate and crumbled almonds

It was all so good I forgot to take a photo.  I won't forget to take pictures on Sunday! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gluten and Dairy Free Easter Egg Hunt & a Great Dollar Store Find

Easter Egg Hunt Alternative to Chocolate/Candy Eggs

This year,  my son is old enough to start the Easter Egg Hunt tradition.  Being gluten and dairy free poses somewhat of a dilemma.  My husband and I considered substituting alternatives on the hunt, such as jelly beans, but somehow it didn't have quite the same ring to it.  Instead, I took a cue from my son's daycare.  I'm going to purchase those fill-able plastic eggs in several colours and fill them with items like Easter stickers, crayons, and perhaps a few fruit-juice gummies.   Since he's only two, a few eggs will be more than enough to keep him happy.

The Golden Egg Idea
For older children, I saw the cutest idea at Walmart.  It's a large golden egg that opens up and it comes with a set of clue cards.  Instead of searching for a bunch of chocolate eggs, the child searches for clues that lead to the one large egg that presumably contains a larger, more significant gift.  Certainly a marketing ploy, but it could certainly be recreated without purchasing the pre-packaged kit.  A homemade egg or a large Easter Basket could be substituted and homemade clues could make the hunt even more personal.  Definitely something for me to keep in mind for future years!

Candy Free Gifts

I purchased identical gifts for my son and my niece: A colourful basket filled with bright sunglasses, a large bubble wand, sparkly stickers, and a bunch of springy eggs that jump off the ground and are supposed to be caught in a small basket.  All for under $10 per gift.  If I were more creative I would have made them gifts, know.  I'll take some photos on Sunday.

As for the dollar store find, my sister brought me one of these:

It's an egg holder with a selection of water paints for painting eggs.  Please don't judge me for the brown egg, I know it's not the best for showing off the colours but really, my son is two and doesn't know the difference.  He was more excited to put the stickers on the egg than he was to paint.  The colours themselves are a little transparent on the egg, but the holder is genius. 

The lever on the left pulls back and then clamps down on the egg to keep it in place.  Really simple to use, and the egg can be rotated manually to paint on each side.  It also allows for a uniform drying process, especially if used by older kids who create masterpieces.  All for around $1.  Not too shabby.  And obviously, it doesn't have to be confined to eggs.  I foresee Christmas ornaments spending a little time in there come December....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A few more shots from the warm botanical gardens on this chilly, rainy Wednesday

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting my gluten free world in order and...snow.

Today was the day to put everything in order now that we're back home.  We sent the little one off to daycare (he was NOT happy to go back after two weeks of fun with us) and set about laundry, groceries, etc.  After spending two weeks feeding my son foods that are naturally gluten free, I saw a difference in his behaviour.  He was better behaved generally and in better spirits than usual.

Just to clarify, we're not people who regularly eat a lot of packaged foods, especially since the gluten free ones are so expensive.  I post my menu plan each week and prepare his daycare lunches as well, but we do still serve him some prepared foods; waffles, gluten free cookies, fish sticks, etc.  I think we're going to cut this out as much as possible.  His behaviour while we were away was fantastic, except for the one time he was given a handful of some covered nuts with gluten in the coating by a well meaning relative before we could stop him.  For two days my son was a little terror.  We always knew that gluten-containing foods changed his moods, because we saw evidence of it when we originally cut it our of his diet.  But his change in behaviour when he started eating all natural foods was remarkable as well. 

I'm not going to lie and say that I'll never serve my son a frozen fish stick again, or that a prepared gluten free waffle won't occasionally be part of his routine, but I'm going to try and make those foods the exception, rather than the rule.  My husband poured himself a bowl of GF cereal this morning, and I laughed because for two weeks our breakfast was fruit, or yogurt (not for the little guy), or eggs, or some other food that we had to prepare from scratch, but the first thing we turned back to was prepared cold cereal when we got home.  It opened my eyes a little bit.

So I'm starting with breakfast.  Our counter currently has mangoes, bananas, a papaya, a canteloupe and oranges, and our fridge has strawberries and blueberries.  He loved his fruit filled breakfasts on vacation, so I'm going to continue with them here.  I chopped a bunch of fruit when I brought them home from the store, so in the morning I just have to dump them in a bowl, ready to go.

I'm not superwoman- there will be waffle-filled mornings, I can guarantee it.  But instead of cereal, waffles, cereal bars, etc. being the go-to, I'm going to try to make them the last resort. 

Baby Steps. 

And just in case you were wondering, it snowed today.  Yes, that's right, snowed. On April 19th.

Looked lovely against my tan.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back Home

Today's flight went pretty smoothly, although my son was obsessed with the tray on the back of the seat.  The wonderfully patient young women who endured his kicks for over 4 hours deserves praise.  I apologized for his kicking at the end of the flight and my son said "Sorry lady".  Other than trying in vain to get him to quit kicking whenever he got bored, things went fairly smoothly.  Again, there were no gluten free options for him on the Canjet flight, so we brought along grapes, strawberries, juice boxes, etc. to keep him satisfied and it worked out pretty well. 

If I had the choice, I think I will always opt for early morning flights rather than daytime ones, because he was revved up and refused to nap.  His little suitcase full of activities worked fairly well, although there's really only so long a two year old can play with any one thing.  I am relieved though to know that he takes well to flying, especially in his car seat.  He didn't want to be in it the whole time, but it kept him pretty well contained for the most part and it allowed him to see out the window properly. 

It's nice to be home again, but I'm already missing my in-laws in El Salvador.  I hate that my son can't see that side of his family the way he sees my side.  Here are some of the images that made the trip worth it:
My son with my husband and all of his brothers

Etienne with his great-grandparents

My son and his grandmother

Botanical Gardens on a Sunday

Today was our last day in El Salvador.  This afternoon and evening have been a whirlwind of packing, preparing food for the flight tomorrow, visiting relatives, etc.  This morning however, we made time for a trip to the botanical gardens, part of a huge swath of protected forest in the heart of the city.  Since I don't have time for a great post today, I'll leave you with some of the photos from our visit to the gardens.  Tomorrow is a travel day, so wish me the same luck that provided us with such a smooth experience on the way here!  I'll let you know how it goes!  My menu plans will be back next week. 

I don't think there are iguanas in any of the botanical gardens where I live

A little slice of paradise

Part of the desert flower display

My brother-in-law Juan amidst the bamboo

Mini Pineapple

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cocina para Celíacos, the cookbook

My mother-in-law was worried about cooking for my son when we came to visit, so she borrowed a book from a friend called "Cocina para Celíacos", a Spanish language cookbook called "Cooking for Celiacs."  The book was first published in Argentina, and many of the desserts are typical to that country, such as the Alfajora cookies.  She offered to photocopy some of the recipes for me from the book, so today I went through it recipe by recipe, looking for those to take home.  It turns out that the book has more dessert recipes than anything else, but what I like about it is that many of the recipes seem fairly simple, with only a few ingredients and fairly simple instructions.

It turned out that she didn't use the book the whole time we were here, but I'm looking forward to trying out some of the bread and cookie recipes when I get back.  I love trying authentic international recipes.  My current goal is to become more adept at preparing gluten and dairy free recipes, and so in addition to some of the recipes from this book I have another cookbook that I'll be testing when I get back home.  I'm sure this will be disastrous for my fitness goals, but I'm trying to convince myself that I'll only have a bite and will give away the rest to my "taste-testers".  Let's see how that goes!

Friday, April 15, 2011

5 Things on a Friday

My trip to visit my in-laws in El Salvador is almost over.  On Monday we'll be heading for home, our two weeks in the sun behind us.  Reflecting on my trip, I wanted to post my 5 favourite memories of the trip so far:

1- My brother-in-law Juan's surprise arrival from Cancun last night, so he could meet my son for the first time.  Writing this post, I'm only just realizing that I still haven't taken a picture of the two of them together!

2- Family: My son has spent the last two weeks with a side of his family he rarely gets to see.  He has followed his three uncles around like crazy, played with his aunt, hung out with his grandparents and spent time with his great-grandparents as well.  Four generations together is a special thing indeed.  And being the only grandchild and great grandchild, he's been treated like a king.  Life will be different when we get home!

With his great-grandma

With his Tio Carlos

3- Watching my son discover the ocean for the first time, feeling the sand between his fingers and jumping with excitement every time the water washed over his feet.

4- The food!  Some of my favourite foods are found in abundance here- beans, avocados, plantains, salty cheeses, tropical fruit, and it has been so easy to find gluten free options for my son.  His health has been great since we've been here, and although there are few specialty gluten free products, most traditional foods are naturally gluten free. 

5- Taking Etienne to the Tin Marin kids museum:  This place is fantastic- it has something for children as young as preschool to as old as teenagers.  My son had fun playing in the pretend supermarket, filling up his cart with fruits and vegetables.  Then he checked out the butterfly sanctuary, the bubble room where he made giant bubbles, the pretend hospital, dentist office, bank, etc.  Some of the science exhibits were beyond him, but the hands-on exhibits made him very happy.
Etienne at one of the bubble tables

Outside of the gravity house

At the "supermarket"in the museum

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Wonderful Surprise!

I had a whole big post planned today, but it's all gone out the window and I'll have to post it tomorrow.  Tonight, while I was touching base with my family at home, I received a fantastic surprise!  My brother-in-law who is studying tourism in Cancun (I know, studying is a relative term when the University is in Cancun) waltzed into the kitchen completely unannounced!

There are four brothers in my husband's family, and two live outside of the country.  This is the first time that all four have been together since 2008, and the first time that our son met  his youngest uncle.  It took about 20 minutes for him to completely warm up to his Tio Juancito.

My brother-in-law Juan decided to make a surprise visit when he heard that we were going to be visiting in April.  Unfortunately he could only come at the end of our trip due to exams, but we have a whole long weekend ahead of us to enjoy him!  Have a wonderful night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday from El Salvador: Part 2

These two are going to miss each other!

San Salvador for Children: El Mundo Feliz

Today we took the munchkin to a play place called El Mundo Feliz.  "Happy World."  El Mundo Feliz is an indoor play place for kids, and it has something for children from preschool until young adolescence.  There's no charge to get in, but everything takes tokens.  We paid 25 cents per token, and with $8 dollars we spent about an hour there.  From a gluten free perspective, it's a disaster, with virtually no options for someone who can't consume gluten, but we weren't there to eat.  As a fun family place to take your kids, it was a hit.

The very gluten-filled cafe where one can have pizza.burgers/nachos/etc.

On the right hand side of the building are the video games/arcade portion.  Many of the games are imported from the United States and are in English.  Some are in Spanish.  Many of the games reminded me of the kind of games at a small town fair, where you fish for a treasure, or shoot at targets to win prizes.  Others were a bit different, like the air hockey tables.  Being a Tuesday afternoon, there weren't too many people there, but there was a healthy number of 13-15 year old kids playing the video games.

We stuck to the central and left hand side, which had a variety of preschool appropriate rides.  My son is obsessed by cars, so virtually everything he wanted to ride was a vehicle.  There were two areas with go-cart type cars, a small one where parents accompanied their children, and a larger one where older children could ride alone.

The smaller car area

The larger track

Note the "flower power" car from the blurry photo above.  My son rode in it three times, and refused all offers to change to a different vehicle.  Despite the angry look on his face, he was having a lot of fun.  He was upset that my husband insisted on helping him steer, because he wanted to do it himself.

Finally, there was a large section with the types of rides one finds in malls, the ones you put some change into and they move around on their stand for a few minutes.

Etienne in his Pink Panther police truck

His favourite ride however was a merry go round of cars.  The ride just went in circles, but it lasted about 5 minutes, and he refused to get up when it was over.

Mommy, on the "Car-go-round"

La Abuelita, in another vehicle, same ride

Whaddya mean I have to get out?

Overall, he had a lot of fun.  It's difficult to find places that have a lot of variety for someone as young as my son, and this place hit the mark.  For an older child of 7 or 8, who could stay and eat in the cafe, this place could provide a few hours' worth of fun.  We were there about an hour, and he left happy and tired.  Definitely a place I would recommend to anyone looking to spend some time like the locals, and entertain their kids at the same time.

Located on Blvd. de los Heroes.  Open 7 days a week. Check their website for more information.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

El Salvador: Life's a Beach!

We spent the last two days splitting our time at two different beach houses on the Costa del Sol.  It's been a wonderful experience for our son.  Here are a few photos of our time in the sun: