boston you’re my home: our seventh boston trip

Oh Boston, you’ve stolen our hearts, once again! We’re back from our ‘Family Summer Getaway’ and I’m still in a vacation hangover! Does it happen to you? I’m never really ready to come back from a vacation… you know, even if I love our home, there’s just something about being away together and exploring and enjoying new (or familiar) places that makes me want to stay there, just a little longer.

So when we decided to bring the boys to Boston this summer, my Mom and Frank told us they would tag along and we were so happy about it! We had 4 days to work with and a very long to-do list, but we couldn’t wait to get started!

We decided to rent a mini-van, yep, and it was AWESOME. Now that I’ve traveled comfortably in my mini-van for a week, I kind of regret not getting one when the boys were babies and I was carrying that enormous double stroller in my Matrix (I called it my Go-kart, and I hated it!!!). So after having planned everything carefully and having packed everything in the van the night before, we all watched the movie Fever Pitch, went to bed, and then left in the early hours on Tuesday morning. We made a quick stop at Timmy’s for breakfast on-the-go and then on our way we were. I keep on saying “up until now” every time I talk about this, but my boys are really good travelers. Like really really good! Logan might have asked 20 times “are we there yet” in the first half-hour (of the 6 hour drive), but honestly, I think he was just trying to be funny more than he was interested in knowing! We had perfect weather for a long drive, made 2 stops along the way and then we finally reached Burlington, Massachusetts (a gorgeous Boston’s suburb). Our hotel wasn’t ready, which is really annoying when you’re travelling with kids who need to unwind after a long drive, so we decided to go shopping and grabbed lunch at the Burlington Mall, where Liam found a new love for Lego! We went to Lego stores before, but this time was like “TA-DAM”. He bought a Harry Potter Lego kit and I was so happy that he was excited about this… like, Harry Potter Lego, really??? I finally have a reason to buy them Legos… yep, my mamma’s heart was full!

Then we drove to Fenway Park to take the Fenway Tour. But first, we had our first (of many) stop at Target! I swear I didn’t brainwashed my kids, but they LOVE this store just as much as I do, or maybe even more! They actually asked to go to Target every morning, no kidding. Brian loves Target as well, but you could tell that he was starting to get annoyed the moment I asked him to take a video of me and my shopping cart going up the shopping-cart-only-escalator!!! Yep, the boys and I get really excited about things like that! Wait until you see this part in my Boston video, yep, I look like a real tourist (and probably a total moron), but seriously, isn’t this impressive or what!?

So the first time we went to Boston, 11 years ago, we did the Fenway Tour, but since we had 4 family members who had never experienced it before, we decided to do it again. A full hour about the Red Sox, Fenway Park and Boston history, where you visit some behind-the-scenes areas, the Green Monster, the commentators and media press box, as well as various hot spots of Fenway. If you’re going to Boston, you definitely have to do the tour whether you’re catching a game or not… Once you’ve been through Fenway, you understand why this is America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. It is truly something, even for a non-baseball fan.

Then it was time for our traditional dinner at our fav Downtown Boston restaurant, Maggiano’s. Yum! Hello ginormous mozzarella marinara sticks, delightful bread, delicious gnocchi and bigger than your fist meatballs! It was simply delicious, as always. We’ve discovered Maggiano’s during our Honeymoon, and since then, everywhere we go, if we can find one, we HAVE to go!!! So after a long long day on the roads and visiting Boston, we finally arrived at our hotel at about 10 pm; the boys were drained, and so was I. So I took a few minutes to quickly unpack, then showered, and then hit the pillows for a great night’s sleep.

Wednesday morning was lazy and slow. First stop of the day: Target, as we had some shoe problems the day before… Liam had blisters from walking and Logan’s Crocs were now apparently too small… like really buddy, you tell me this in Boston after wearing them all summer? So we got there, I went directly to the kids shoe section, Brian got me a Starbucks cold fruity drink, we made our way through the entire store, bought a few things I absolutely and definitely needed, and yes, that made me very happy as it was such a great start to my day! Be still my heart… two visits to Target in two days!!! And to be continued…

We then drove to the Boston Common Public Park, right in the middle of the city, and immediately fell in love with this spot. Here’s a fun fact… on my first trip to Boston, again, like 11 years ago, the ONLY thing I had asked Brian was to do the Swan Boats ride in that park, and to that day, and in the previous six times we’ve been to Boston, we NEVER even went near the park, nor seen the Swans; but we did see about 20 Red Sox games *eye rolling*!!! So, believe in your dreams my friends, because they do come true! And it was truly a dream come true… right in the middle of the park, you can take a 15 minutes ride on these cute Swan Boats through this beautiful and peaceful pond, and all that for a mere 4$. YEP, four (one, two, three, four) dollars!!! It took me 7 trips to Boston to finally get him to bring me on a 4$ boat ride… and right after he had done the ride and seen the park, and all the giant trees, and the beautiful flowers everywhere, that’s all he could talk about for the rest of the day! That evening, he even told me, right before we fell asleep, that from now on, he really wanted to go back to the Boston Common Park every time we’ll be in Boston. I wanted to punch him, but just said ‘I’d love to go as well’ *eye rolling again*. So, back to our day… after the boat ride and a long stroll through the park, it started to rain a little, so we decided it was time to cross the street and get to Frank’s only request of the trip: Cheers.

So when we first talked to my Mom and Frank about possibly going to Boston, he said right away ‘I’m in, but only if we go to Cheers’! Although Brian and I were not really into 80’s sitcoms, to have lunch at the real Cheers’ bar where they filmed the popular TV show, well yeah, of course I’m in! We took a lot of pictures, had a great time, and a great lunch, and of course the guys had a few beers. We were all really happy we went, especially Frank. So with a bit more rain in the forecast, we decided to head back to the hotel, take a swim between storms and then go back to the mall. We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, which is always a hit for us, only this time I had the best dessert ever, a Godiva’s Cheesecake. OMG. Pure heaven. I can’t wait to go back and have it again. We all had dessert-to-go, and one of my favorite moments of the trip is definitely my video of Logan eating Frank’s banana cheesecake in the hotel room… I can’t explain, but yeah, let’s say he really enjoyed it!!!

Thursday morning was spent at the New England Aquarium. The boys have been loving rays for a while now, well like since the movie Moana came out about a year ago, and we had told them all about the exhibit where you can touch rays, so let’s say they were quite excited about visiting the aquarium. We all had a lot of fun, but no one did more than Logan. He was really into this aquarium experience, as from the moment he found a map when we came in, he took control of the tour and made sure we went and saw every single thing inside. It was just like we were having our own private visit with the cutest tour guide ever! Once we were done, we crossed the street to visit Quincy Market, an open-air shopping and dining experience. We all had different food from different vendors: pizza, nachos, clam chowder, lobster rolls and Magnolia Bakery’s cupcakes (for me!). And oh god were they pretty and delicious!

So after lunch, we were all starting to get tired, especially with that heat and humidity, but on our way to the parking lot, Logan spotted some fountains and decided to get into his underwear and play a little. He was in heaven. He would have spent the entire day there… me too buddy! So we drove back to the hotel, took a quick nap and then got ready to go to Fenway for our game. But first, another trip to Target! Yes, we did it, we went to Target 3 times in 3 days… I know, get a life… but really, Target is my LIFE!!! Well, you know, we were there early, we parked in the Target underground parking and it was still raining a little outside, so why not!

Liam is really into baseball this year, he loves to watch the games with Brian and play catch in the backyard. The idea to go to Boston started with him watching a game and seeing #28 hitting a homerun. So he was extremely happy to be there. He wanted pictures of everything. While Liam was all about #28 JD Martinez, Logan was showing us everything he could find about our Beloved #34 Big Papi. Brian had enrolled the kids in Red Sox Kids Nation and they got free game tickets, some lanyards with their names, some field dirt and some pins. Take you so much Red Sox Kids Nation, you made our trip and our kids’ Fenway experience so much better!

Fenway never gets old… I am not a baseball fan, never been, never will, but there is something about Fenway Park that definitely makes me a Red Sox fan. From the moment you enter the park, with the music, the people, the food, the smell, the grass, the atmosphere; it’s pretty surreal. So we ate some ‘Fenway Franks’, French fries, popcorn, peanuts and had a few beers. The Red Sox might have lost but we still had a great time and we can’t wait to go back. Logan was done by the 3rd inning and missed most of the game, but then woke up just in time to dance to Sweet Caroline, followed by a tough emotional moment from both of them when they realized that they had lost! Next time they’ll win, I promise.

Next morning, which was the last day of our little getaway, came way too fast. We packed up the mini-van and drove away from beautiful Boston, sad that our summer vacation was almost done. We had planned to stop for lunch in Burlington, Vermont… Church Street was super busy and we were looking forward to spending more time there, but another storm was coming in, so we decided to hit the road back home earlier.

It was a nice drive through Vermont, but I was happy to finally get back home. The boys cried when we returned the mini-van to the car rental place as they knew it was the end of our trip. They just love to be away with us and always look forward to all of the trips and family getaways we plan with them. At least, we have another one on the horizon boys… but until then, we will think about the great time we had in Boston and all the memories we made there, including Liam’s many pictures at Fenway and all of Logan’s hilarious videos (yeah, he was on a roll that one)!

Until next time Boston, we love you!

 

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annual girls weekend

A couple of weekends ago it was my yearly-girls-weekend-getaway with my girlfriends; ohhh yes, easily one of my favorite and most anticipated weekends of the year. So after prepping all week long for it, including packing lunches in advance, placing all the boys clothes on their bed for the next couple of days, making sure they had their pirate costume ready for a special pirate day at school, putting a dollar each in their agenda for popcorn day, and making sure they both had their electronic device charged for ANOTHER special day at school, well I finally had time to get my OWN bag ready!!!

For the sixth year in a row now, my girlfriends and I are leaving the husbands and kids behind for a full weekend away from home. So far, we’ve been to Quebec City, Mont Tremblant, Montreal, Saint-Sauveur, and Fiddler’s Lake. You can read more about last year’s getaway to Fiddler’s Lake here. So this year, the five of us rented a cottage on Air-B-N-B (first time using this service) and it was simply awesome!

Amelie, Vero and I left Thursday after work, then got manicures and pedicures, then got some Mexican food for diner and then headed out to Wakefield QC. It was pouring rain outside and we got stuck in some kind of traffic jam in Ottawa, like what are the odds of that happening at 8 pm on a Thursday night? But other than that, it was a smooth ride in to Wakefield. And then all that was left was to find the cottage. In what seemed like in forever, we finally found it. Not easy to find, somewhere hidden in the woods, all alone, on the side of the mountain, in what seemed like zero civilization, there it was, one of the cutest log cabin ever. One of my friend, the not-very-brave-one, got a bit scared when we pulled into the driveway, but once we were inside, all fears went away as we were just sooo happy to be there.

We unpacked, had a few drinks and then putted on our bathing suits for a trip outside to the hot tub. Heaven! It was pitch black, no kids, no husbands, no noise, except for our favourite tunes and our great convos! We then went to bed right away and slept like babies. Next morning was extremely lazy. We then met the other two girls, Julie and Lysane, at the Nordik Spa at 11 am.

Last time I went to the Nordik was in like 2008. Yep! That long ago. And I must say that it will now probably be a matter of weeks before I go back. I’ve visited many thermotherapy spas in the last 15 years and this one was simply one of the best. I had heard so many good things about it, like about all the new lounge areas, restaurants and bars and so much more. I am truly impressed about all the did to the place since the last time I went. To say we had the best of time is an understatement. We ended up spending 10 hours straight at the spa. The forecast was for a lot of rain, but it held off until about 9pm, so we ended up having a full day of sunshine, which made it even better. One of my favorite spot was the infinity pool, where lounge music fills the air and where you could bring drinks into the heated pool. Let’s just say that we spent a good portion of our day there while making up scenarios on how we would improve the Nordik Spa if we’d own it. I’d say we came to a consensus that it was almost perfect as it is, only missing some floating nachos plates! Well, what? Us girls love snacks!

I later had a hour long massage and it felt so good. The therapist used lavender essential oil, of course my fav, so the smell was just perfect and the massage felt like heaven. So thanks a lot stranger, you were the best!

We then came back to the cottage pretty late, got in bed not too long after and I was immediately out! Next morning we woke up and then even managed to go out for a run. We always bring our running shoes but never use them; well this time we did! We went for a run in the village because the hills near the cottage were way too steep! It was really cold and windy, but running by the river was great. We then treated ourselves to chocolate croissants on the way back to the cabin! Seriously, a well-deserved threat girls.

Every year, we have to bring and share some of the things we’ve discovered since our last getaway. This year I had brought the movie The Greatest Showman; and it was a HIT! We watched it while eating chili, trying not to sing along so the ones that had not seen it could actually listened to it! After the movie, we all shared about our favorite finds of the year over drinks and snacks. We also talked about our goals for the next year (that’s where I mentioned, 2 years ago, that I would like to start a blog!). I absolutely love these talks with my girlfriends, so fun to share about our lives, and about our hopes… it’s a like a new year resolution, but just better, just between us. I think it’s now my favourite part of the weekend.

So later, we decided to get some food delivered to the cabin, which mean we didn’t even get dressed up at all on Saturday. Yeah, that’s what I call a lazy girls vacation, and it felt good, and I think I needed it. It was actually fun to stay in and just continue to chat about everything and anything. I was really looking forward to bringing the girls to The Chelsea Pub, as I had eyed a few items on the menu, but I guess I’ll just have to go back soon as I’m still craving for it!

But like all good things, our weekend had to come to an end. With a freezing rain storm closing in on us, we decided to pack our stuff early, then lounged on the couch as long as we could, and then locked up the cottage and headed home. We did stop for brunch at Biscotti & Co. And OMG, hello, can I live there? The decor, the food and the ambiance was just too cool. Vero and I shared a goat cheese and orange salad and a warm ham & cheese sandwich (on like the best bread ever), leaving us just enough space to try their delicious Dulce de Leche Cheesecake. Again, OMG! I just love everything Dulce de Leche!

So, even after spending an amazing and relaxing weekend with my girlfriends, coming back home after being away for a few day is always great. I truly love my home and I always terribly miss my family when I’m gone. I do need some time with my girlfriends, it is so important, but home is home. Like they say, home is where the heart is, and it really is! And I loved that both of my boys jumped in my arms as soon as I got through the doors.

Well, now that my 2018 girls getaway weekend is thing of the past, we now have to start thinking about next year’s getaway; and since the second year I’ve been trying to convince them all to do this in NYC. And I’ll do the same now! Come on girls, SATC style, let’s go have breakfast at Tiffany’s!

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mirror, mirror, who is the fairest of them all

Well let me tell you… I think I may have found it, the fairest of them all, and it’s actually not too far from home! My family and I have spent last weekend in some sort of winter wonderland fairy-tale, and I am so excited to tell you all about it.

So as I said in last week’s post, we were invited by the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid for the Holiday Village Stroll weekend; and I can tell you that we won’t forget a moment of it. It was a weekend filled with so many Christmas lights, numerous Holidays activities, breathtaking views, as well as memories that will last us a lifetime.

Here’s how it all happened… so earlier this year, while we were planning our summer vacation in Lake George, I was browsing online, looking for some activities for us to do over there; I remember Googling something like ‘what to do in the Adirondack’ and then stumbled upon this cute hotel in Lake Placid, the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa. Right there, simply by looking at the hotel’s website, I knew I had to visit it one day. So then later, like sometime in October, I looked further into it and saw some of their winter pictures on their website and Trip Advisor… and I simply fell in love with the place. I then decided to contact them to let them know I was planning on visiting Lake Placid in December to take some pictures and to blog about it… Fast forward a few weeks later and MLI had officially invited us to spend what seemed to be like the ultimate December-Holiday-weekend.

It felt like November would never end, as we couldn’t wait for our weekend getaway to arrive. The boys were so excited when we told them we were going on a family vacation; yet, kind of disappointed when we told them we were driving to get there. They always associate the word vacation with plane! But now, let me tell you, they are both quite happy that the Mirror Lake Inn is just a short drive away, as they both desperately want to go back.

We left on Friday at noon with snacks packed for the drive, as well as the iPad and Nintendo DS… which they played with until they both fell asleep right after we passed the US Customs. The ride was so smooth, and beautiful, mostly on country roads, with more and more freshly fallen snow covering the tall pine trees along the way up into the Adirondack. On our way there, we’ve listened to both our favorite Christmas albums, Michael Bublé for me and Zooey Deschanel’s She and Him for Bry (please don’t judge him!), while chatting the entire way. When we first spotted the Mirror Lake as we drove downhill towards it, the sun was hitting the mountains behind; and the view was just stunning. The boys woke up, and finally, we had arrived; all of us excited to be there. The first view of Mirror Lake Inn as we pulled in was just as expected: breathtaking. I knew it was going to be gorgeous, I mean I had already seen hundreds of pictures of it, but it was so much bigger, and even prettier.

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was the smell of the lobby the first time we entered the inn… I’d describe it as a delicate firewood-pine trees-oranges smell. It was welcoming, and comforting, and Christmassy, and I loved it. We made our way to the reception desk only to be greeted with homemade chocolate chip cookies. Let just say the MLI reception desk kind of does it all… and also kind of ruined the reception desk of all of our future travel destinations that won’t greet me with cookies!!! I will not share how many I ate during our stay, but I will say this… I fully took advantage of their chocolate chip cookie hospitality; and so did Logan!

We were then shown to our room. The first thing I noticed was the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows with a view on the lake and mountains. The view was simply the best, but the comfy king size bed, the pull out sofa bed for the boys, and the two leather chairs by the windows were also pretty awesome. While we were making ourselves at home, we heard a knock at the door… ‘Hello there’, as we were welcomed with a cheese tray, drinks, and some more cookies!

The first thing the boys wanted to do was to go to the pool, so Brian took them swimming while I took the opportunity to explore the inn and take some pictures. So many things and places to see, and so much beauty and history, everywhere I looked.

Here are some facts… Mirror Lake Inn is a family own business that started way back in the 1920’s. Mr. Wikoff created the Mir-a-Lac Inn and it became well known all over the States. It took an even bigger leap when the inn hosted an entire Olympic team during the 1932 Olympics. Since then, the inn has kept on getting bigger and better throughout the years. The MLI is now own by Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, whose son Andrew is a two-time Super G Olympic medalist. Andrew’s medals are shown at the reception and you can admire them for as long as you want while enjoying some cookies. MLI is known for its charm, its amazing staff and its delicious food. Here’s another fact: oh my god, the food is simply amazing!!! Every single item we ordered throughout the weekend was so delicious; but I have to say that the absolute best thing I’ve tried was the shrimp and squash gnocchi that Bry got at the Taste Bistro & Bar on Saturday night for dinner.

So, after the boys came back from the pool, we all changed and got ready for our 6:30 reservation at the four diamond restaurant, The View; and what a view it was! We were seated right by the windows overlooking the lake. Lake Placid was covered with snow when we arrived, but somehow, the lake was frozen and as clear as a mirror… I guess that’s where the name comes from! That’s actually not a fact, it’s just an observation, so don’t quote me on that; but it was truly beautiful. The lake was completely frozen, yet you could still see the sand at the bottom of it. So, back to The View. Well I’m pretty sure that all servers from The View or from all the other MLI restaurants are great, but Tess was just the best. She was so nice to us and the boys, bringing them special treats and making sure we all had a great time. Liam even asked her if he would see her the next day. Sadly he didn’t. But every time we would go close to the restaurant during the weekend, he would look out for her. He was so cute! You may or may not see this, Tess, but thank you so much for making our diner even more special. By the time we were done, Brian had one of the best salmon dish of his life, Liam probably now owns the world record for the fastest eaten spaghetti ever, while Logan was real super classy with his French fries and side of vinegar that we had brought from our last visit to McDonald’s (as the States only serve Malt Vinegar and Logan is NOT a fan of it but needs his vinegar on his fries!). As for me, well I was so full from my amazing filet mignon that I had to share a raspberry creme brulee with Brian! So good. But so glad we only ordered one dessert, because right after we were done, Tess brought us some nice chocolate truffles, mixed nuts and homemade mint chocolate. I could easily get used to that! Overall, the boys did really well (with the help of their Nintendo DS, of course), and I must say that it was one of our best meal ever.

After dinner we visited the library, my favorite room at MLI, which is located right beside the reception desk and common lounge. This room is so cozy, with oversized furniture, comfortable couches and a huge fireplace. We borrowed some games from the front desk and the boys played chess with Bry and then Chutes and Ladders with me. They also spotted an Elf on the Shelf and became obsessed with it, having to go find him every morning. It was actually a great start to our day to go visit the library; with lots of doors and windows and the sun pouring in… I could have sat there for hours to enjoy the fireplace and to relax. The library was mellow, and warm, and it really made us feel welcomed. It was a great place to spend our first night in Lake Placid. Right after playing a few board games, we decided to call it a night… well some of us did, as one of us decided to visit the Taste Bistro & Bar and listened to the live music while discovering some of their local craft beers as well as their amazing display of single malt scotch!

Next morning came way too fast for my Loggy boy, and by 6am, him and I were snuggling on the big chairs by the windows, in the little nook in our room, and played games and chatted.  Once we were all up, we went down for breakfast where we ate way too much. The mini chocolate croissants were heaven! At 11am, it was Storytelling Time at the Mirror Lake Inn. Everyone from the village was invited and I’m pretty sure they all showed up. Set in the Wikoff room, right beside a huge Christmas tree and a gorgeous fireplace, a women made us sing carols and really got us to participate. Logan loved when she sang Rudolph, his favorite Christmas song. He was so cute, and I tried to make a short video of him singing along, but as soon as he noticed me filming, he stopped! Then the owner of the Bookstore Plus came to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The man who played the Grinch was AMAZING. You should have heard his voice… move over, Jim Carey!

It was now time to visit the Lake Placid village! So we got all dressed up and made the short walk to the central part of the village. We had to stop a few times to throw some snowballs on the lake, always a hit with my boys; especially on the frozen-like-a-mirror Mirror Lake! They had so much fun watching the snowballs explode on the ice, they kept on saying ‘this one was made of flour’. We then got to see Santa arriving in style on the local firetruck. The boys wanted to wait in line to see him, but I knew we would meet him later that evening, so I said no; felt like the Grinch there! We then browsed through the boutiques, ate freshly popped popcorn, and had Starbucks. We then came back for lunch at The Cottage at MLI, a small and cozy restaurant right on the water. The decor was so different, just like a ski lodge, and I loved everything about it. Delicious food once again. We had a pulled pork sandwich and French onion chicken burger sandwich. DELISH. After that, the boys wanted to go to the pool once again, so we decided to head back to the room.

So while they went swimming, I took what I’ll call “a holiday nap”, it’s a little fancier than a regular one, just because I was on a holiday, you know! The boys came back from the pool, but Logan was so tired that he immediately fell asleep with me, while the other two played some games… Logan was up since 6am, so letting him nap at like 4:30 pm was the biggest fail of all. MLI offers a visit from Santa and his Elf to its guests; so of course I was all over that. And of course I made sure they were wearing their new matching pj’s and all. Santa was scheduled to knock on our door at 6:30, so I tried to wake up Logan just past 6, but he didn’t want any of it. He was done. But when we heard the knock, we all ran to the door, even Logan who was still kind of asleep came with us to see who it was… and it was Santa! Sleepy Logan gave him a quick hug, then went back to bed and that was it for him! So Santa and his Elf came in, Liam told him what he wanted for Christmas, while Loggy was staying still, face first into the bed. So unlike him! Oh well, we’ve tried everything, we even tried to bribe him into coming to sit on Santa, but no, he was having NONE of it! Liam loved that Santa came to our room, although he became a little shy when Santa spoke to him in English (he really tried his best to speak a little French and I’m grateful for that!), so I had to be the interpreter. Santa then did a magic trick for us and Liam was really impressed! All in all, we ended up forcing Logan into a family picture with Santa, which actually turned out to be okay, so I take that as a win!

Santa left our room at 6:45, and since we were all still pretty full from our late lunch, we decided to go out to see all the beautiful MLI and village outdoor nightly Christmas decorations. So we all got dressed up once again and went out for a pre-diner walk. Probably took 500 shots of the beautiful outdoor holiday decors. The weather was perfect, and we had the best of time, just enjoying the surroundings and ourselves. Came back to the inn at about 8:30 for diner at The Taste Bistro and once again, the food was great. The gnocchi Bry ordered were simply to die for, and it’s my new mission in life to make as delicious gnocchi’s. I’m accepting all recipes; so if you have one, please send it my way! We then went back to our room, put the boys to bed and sat in our large chairs by the windows while quietly enjoying the view one last time. What a perfect day it was… minus the “Leave-me-alone-I-don’t-want-to-look-at-him” thing with Santa!

Already Sunday; our last day in Lake Placid. Well, at least we all woke up later than usual, which was great. Snow was gently falling outside, making everything white. Even the Mirror Lake was all white, no more mirror-like-lake. But it was perfect for some more pictures! So we packed up our stuff, talked about our weekend and what we had loved the most. We had a Breakfast with Santa planned, and finally, Logan was back to himself and real happy to see him! We had a great big round table by the fireplace and the Christmas tree all by ourselves; the brunch was so good, and the French toast were just awesome! We took some more pictures with Santa, and this time everybody was smiling and happy!

After brunch we made a final tour and said goodbye to our favorite places. My boys are really emotional, and they both cried, as they didn’t want to leave, but I can’t blame them, as I didn’t want to leave either. We took one last family selfie and we were on our way to Whiteface Mountain. Such a beautiful drive to get there on a snow covered road. But once we got to the ski resort, the snow and wind were stronger than at the inn, and we were told that the gondolas were closed because of a blizzard at the top of the mountain. We had planned to do the gondola ride to the top and the bobsled ride down the track. But we were so sad when we learned about the gondolas that we just left and forgot to ask if it was still possible to see and try the bobsled Olympic track. What a mistake. We both wanted to see it, and possibly try it. I only realized once back home that we had completely forgot to ask about it while at Whiteface Mountain.

So, since the mountain was closed, well we decided to take the long way back home, which actually consisted of the fastest way home with a stop at the closest Target. Of course, cause I just love Target!

During our drive back, we talked about what we had loved the best, which were the pool, the cookies, throwing snowballs onto the frozen lake, the Christmas lights, the smell of the inn, the people we had met, the restaurants we had tried, the stunning mountains, and much more. So many memories during such a small amount of time. That’s what the Mirror Lake Inn did to us, it created memories that will last a lifetime. Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my family, traveling and having the time of our lives. And we sure did this weekend.

This wonderful weekend was put together for us by Mr. Caligiore, and from the four of us, Thank You so much for the amazing and wonderful opportunity, and for making sure we had the best of time. MLI surely knows how to make their guests feel welcome; and they do it in a way you don’t see everywhere. The staff was so nice to us, eager to help with anything, and always so friendly. When you’re there you can feel that it’s not just the one person you meet who’s nice, but that they all are, as a group, you know, like it’s just their thing! Well, that’s how we felt. Everyone was so nice to us.

So here’s my official review of the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa: if you’re thinking about visiting Lake Placid or its surroundings, you HAVE to stay at the MLI, or at least make time to visit and eat at one of their restaurants. The Holiday Village Stroll was an amazing weekend for a Christmas fanatic like me, but this place is clearly stunning all year round.

We will be back soon, that’s for sure. I just can’t wait to visit the Mirror Lake Inn again. For next time, I am debating between bringing our skis and going up in the gondolas or bringing our swimsuits to enjoy the MLI beach and Lake Placid sun; either way, I know we will have a great time. This place is simply the best.

Thanks for the memories Mirror Lake Inn.

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last summer roadtrip

So one more last minute summer road trip before going back-to-school seemed like an excellent idea…  And it was! Late last week, in the mist of what seemed to be one of the most hectic week of the summer so far with Brian selling his truck, buying a new car, while getting everything ready for school, we decided to book 2 rooms at The Great Escape Lodge in Lake George, along with my sister-in-law Annick and her kids, as well as my father-in-law Joe, who all needed a getaway as much as us; so the more the merrier!

All packed up and excited, we left at 8am and made the 4-hour drive to the lake.  Once there, it was sunny, and hot, perfect weather… so we spotted a terrace by the water and had lunch.  We all wanted to take a boat ride to explore the lake, but since Brian and I had already taken our kids on the steamboat Minnie Ha Ha three years ago, we wanted to see if there were any other options to go on the lake.  So Joe told Brian ‘just go see how much it would be to rent a boat’.  Half an hour later we were on the lake in our pontoon!!!  Oh yes, we rented a nice pontoon for an hour on the lake and it was the best decision of the trip.  It was so much fun.  The boys were a bit afraid but once we were on board, they had a blast.  Cruising at our own pace, alone, with the kids waving at the huge steamboats, it was just awesome.  All that was missing were the drinks and nachos!  So we stopped in the middle of the lake where my nephew did an awesome back-flip from the side of the boat.  He was then joined by Liam for a quick swim, and then by Logan for a one second dip!  The boys fell asleep not long after while we were all enjoying being on the water.  It was such a blast that now the idea of owing a pontoon is roaming my husband’s mind ALL THE TIME since we came back from that boat ride.

We then explored the beach, the main street, made a few wished in the pond and bought a few souvenirs.

The boys were really anxious to see their ‘Maison de vacance’ (vacation house as they call it) so we then made our way to our hotel.  It was AMAZING.  It was huge, with an awesome indoor water-park, an arcade, multi levels treasure hunts and more.  I volunteered for the Target trip to get us drinks and snacks while the rest of the crew tried out the water-park.  Apparently they were having way too much fun, because although I spent over an hour going aisle by aisle with a Starbucks in my hand, when I came back to the hotel they were still at the pool and riding the slides.  Oh well, Target or water-slides, I guess it was a perfect way to end this great day for all of us.  We then all headed out for a late diner and came back full, ready for our next day adventures.

I really need to invest in hotel-rooms-black-out-drapes.  Not sure if it’s the exhaustion or if it’s the dark room but we sure slept late on vacation!  The Six Flags Great Escape amusement park was literally of the other side of the road to our hotel, connected with walkway for pedestrian.  No driving or parking fuss, just wake up, get ready and enjoy the park.  With almost no wait time at every rides, we were able to complete our to-do ride list and even do the water ones twice (it was over 30 degrees outside!).  Best part about the barrel water ride?  For 25 cents you can blast the boats with water cannons.  Hilarious!  We spent way too much time there but it was for sure the best money we spent on that trip!  Joe couldn’t stop laughing every time we would get someone soaking wet while feeding us with quarters to keep on going: 8 cannons shooting all in different directions with one of us at each of them waiting for a boat to come!!!  Yeah, hilarious!

We were done with the park at around 4:30, so instead of doing their favorite rides a second time, it was unanimous, and the kids all opted to go back to the hotel to spend more time at the water-park before diner.  This time I went.  Oh boy, not sure when was the last time I enjoyed water-slides that much.  My goal was not to get my hair wet, but that lasted for about 15 minutes until a giant water bucket dropped hundreds of liters of water directly on me.  Thanks Bry for telling me to stand ‘right there’ if I wanted to stay dry as the bucket was about to empty itself.  Well, my fav will always be the lazy river, and Logan’s too.  Liam went out of his comfort zone and tried to surf, and he was sooo good!  He’s not too keen on trying new things but he warmed up to the idea and went on his own to try it.  He loved and did it 6 times.  I was so proud!  My nephew did it like 50 times and was so natural on it at the end.  One more day and he would have been able to surf like they do in the movies!

I’m pretty sure Lake George is the capital of the mini putt.  Within couple KMs on each side of our hotel, I saw at least 6.  We chose to go at the Pirate’s Cove one.  Kind of ashamed to admit it but it was the boys first time… but it won’t be the last.  They loved it and were way better at the end.  Of course Liam got attached to his golf ball and then cried when he lost it in the 18th hole!!!  Well I didn’t cried because of my golf ball, but I almost did when we arrived at Martha’s Ice Cream and it was closed.  It was Dole Whip day after all and I was so looking forward to it!

Next morning we packed our stuff, and made a stop at the downstairs’ arcade.  These arcades should be illegal, it’s basically casinos for kids (or adults in Brian’s case).  We always leave discouraged… like we spend 50$ and then the kids get a 1$ gift for the thousands of tickets they won.  Go figure!  At least they had fun.

I knew a quick trip to Target would cheer them up.  And it did!  We then stopped at some outlets store and had lunch at an old school A&W where they still have car service.  We rode Go-Karts and THEN it was time to whip.  Dole Whip at Martha’s Ice Cream.  That place is a must if you’re in the region.  My father in law had the biggest ice cream come I’ve ever seen in my life… and he finished it!  Hopped back into the cars and made our way back.

We’re already planning where we’re going to go next year, and it will for sure be longer; as two nights is clearly not enough.  You have to visit Lake George.  It’s our 3rd time with the boys and we always find new stuff to do.  Hope you’re ready for back to school; I know I’m not!  Can’t believe summer is already over.  I still have 4 days left of vacay and I plan on making the most of it.  Summer 2017 went by so quickly, but still, I enjoyed being off work and at home with the boys so much.

Have a great last weekend before back-to-school everyone!

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canada day and a quick getaway

So last weekend was Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations across the nation.  We were not planning on going downtown Ottawa for all the big festivities, but I was very excited and really looking forward to our own celebrations, and BBQ’s, and friends, and local fireworks and Canada Day cake… but by Saturday afternoon, most of our plans had fell through, mainly due the crappy weather, so I was just miserable, at home, with nothing to do on this long weekend.  So I decided to take a nap.  Even then, I was so bored I couldn’t even fall asleep.  So I sent a text message to Brian, who was playing Mario Kart with the boys downstairs, asking him if we could go somewhere; like anywhere!!!

Of course, I knew he wouldn’t say no to that!

So I sent him the text at 3:30 pm… by 3:45 we had agreed on a destination, and by 4:00 we were out the door, and on our way to the USA on Canada Day!  Well, that doesn’t sound too much patriotic, but I got to say that we did look at some destination in Canada first; Brian wanted to go see his beloved Red Sox in Toronto, but it just didn’t work out.

I love Canada!  I truly love everything there is to love about our awesome and unique country, and I am so proud to be Canadian, but seriously, if there’s one thing the American got right is that they didn’t let Target go bankrupt!!!  So while Brian was booking the hotel online, I was figuring out the shortest route to get to my beloved Target!

We left at around 4pm and didn’t stopped until we made it to Watertown’s Target.  I promise Brian before the trip I’d be good and reasonable and wouldn’t spend too much as this was last minute and clearly not planned in our summer budget!  Well I kept that promise for about two hours.  Still can’t believe that store didn’t worked out in Canada.  Obviously not because of me, as I visited the Orleans store at least once a week while it was open!  Even the boys were excited to see the giant red balls outside.  So within one hour in the store I had already found so many things I didn’t even know I absolutely needed!  It felt so good, and I was so happy, with my Starbuck in one hand and a red shopping cart in the other.

We then got back on the road.  Brian had book a nice hotel in an awesome neighborhood of Syracuse, NY.  We stayed at the Marriott in Armory Square; surrounded by old buildings, beautiful flowers lining streets and string lights everywhere.  We loved it as soon as we saw the location of the hotel.  We arrived shortly before 9, check ourselves in, unpacked and then headed down to the lobby for some drinks and snacks while waiting for my mom and Frank.  They too, had decided to join us on our crazy last minute getaway.

I don’t know a lot about Syracuse, but I’m pretty sure we had the best location in town.  At 10 pm, we ventured out to find a place to eat.  Right by the hotel there was a great place, Pastabilities, only to find out that the kitchen had just closed minutes ago.  It’s definitely on the list for our next trip.  So Brian then walked into a cute little alley and found a place called Modern Malt.  He came back to get us, and as soon as I walked in, I was in love with the place.  Retro style Diner with a pretty glass dessert display, a colorful aqua and orange decor and some delicious looking chocolate milkshakes on the menu!  We shared a fig jam and caramelized onion burger on a brioche, and it was sooo good!!!   Wish we would have had more time in Syracuse in order to go back for breakfast.  They had some waffles-with-everything meal and it looked just delish!  I honestly would have tasted everything on the menu.

Sunday morning was slow and relax.  We enjoyed breakfast in the lobby while planning out our day.  We drove to a few stores my mom wanted to go to and then it was Destiny shopping!  Spent a few hours browsing the stores.  Found a few things.  Then the boys did a rope course that they loved.  Unfortunately, they were just a few inches shy of making it to the big course.  Next time.  We shared some awesome nachos at Margaritaville for lunch.  Then played arcade games where Liam won the roulette tickets jackpot and where Brian wanted to spend the rest of the day!  By late afternoon we were all tired and decided to head back to our rooms for a nap and swimming.  Swimming for Brian and the boys, and yep, a nap for me!  Not sure what it is about hotel pools, but they’re always the best according to my boys.  They ended up meeting some other kids, and their mom had floating balls that they were all throwing in the pool, and they raced, and it was just so much fun apparently… oh well, nothing beats a nap in a comfy hotel bed!!!

For diner, of course we had to go to The Cheesecake Factory.  It was, as usual, so good!!!  And bonus, I ate my cheesecake for breakfast the next morning!

Next day came by way too quickly and it was already the end of our short and unplanned but so much fun summer vacation.  So we packed our stuff, got in the car and started our journey back.  We made another stop at Target (upon my kids request, I swear), then Cracker Barrel and then home.

I love these last minute getaway road trips.  Luckily, I have people who love crazy ideas and always want to tag along.  We’re all sad that it went by so quick.  But we had a lot of fun spending time together, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before we go back!

For now, at least, it seems like we brought back the sun with us; so let’s enjoy our backyard pool a little and let’s hope summer is here for good!!!

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yearly girls getaway

It was our fifth anniversary this year… every year we plan, we book, we prepare what we need to bring and then we leave our families for an ENTIRE weekend!  Last weekend was our annual girl-only-spa-weekend-getaway!

We have one rule: never go to the same place twice… but I have to admit that this might change next year as this year’s location was almost perfect!

So back in January, we all met and started to look at the available deals online.  We previously went to St-Sauveur, Mont Tremblant, Montréal, and Québec city, but this year we all really needed/wanted to relax, so we decided to go somewhere more on the ‘country side’ where we wouldn’t be tempted to go out as much; and Fiddler’s Lake was the perfect fit for what we had in mind.

Friday morning we dropped off our kids to school, and on our way we were!  Our first stop was Ofuro spa in Morin Heights.  A Zen-like spa, with Nordic baths, relaxation zones and massages.  It was rainy/snowy, and we felt like we had the place to ourselves.  After 5 hours of total relaxation, we picked up food and drinks for the weekend out and headed to the cottage.  As soon as we got there, we were already in love with the place.  It was huge and luxurious, but with a country look to it, three bedrooms, and floor to ceiling windows with a beautiful view of the nature and trees that were surrounding us.  To make this place even more awesome, we had our very own outside sauna and spa just to ourselves.

On our first night we ended up eating comfort food, watching old music videos and singing crappy songs!  We made a gigantic nacho platter, my ‘famous’ guacamole, and some wings.  And then, as full as we already were, we still decided to heat up a Chocolats Favoris chocolate fondue can with some fruits around midnight!

Ok, so it looks like all we do is sit and eat.  But there’s more to that.  Every year, we set up some personal goals to achieve.  Anything goes.  Last year, I wanted to create a blog (check!) run half a marathon (10km is a half marathon right???) and start up playing guitar again.  So clearly, the blog part got done, the guitar, not so much but I started playing piano again with Liam.  So it’s almost the same…or so I kept telling myself.  As for the half marathon, I just added it to the 2017 list!  We also share our favorite products we discovered throughout the year.  It’s so funny, we never know what’s in store!

Saturday morning, without any kids to wake us up, we all slept in.  Which means we were up by something like 7:30!  It was nice though to spend a lazy morning in our pj’s until 10 and then go out and jump in the spa.  We stayed in there for 3 hours, then had some cheese and charcuterie for lunch.  Then, well of course, it was nap time.  It’s harder to nap when you hear your girlfriends talk and want to sit there and have fun with them, as I didn’t want to miss a thing… but my vacation-mode-laziness and crave for a nap took over… so yeah, I ended up taking a short hour nap, and then went back outside in the spa for another 2 hours or so.  God it felt good.  And it was all we needed, a lazy no rush day with nothing planned, with sunshine, a nap, and all of us lounging in our pj’s.

After a day-long of doing nothing but relaxing, we all got dressed up and ready to go for diner in Saint-Sauveur.  I had the best Goat Cheese salad ever and then some pasta.  It was nice to be out but all we wanted to do was to go back to the cottage and enjoy some more time in our spa (where we spent another 2 hours that night!!!).

You know what, as much as I love love love my spa weekend, at some point I think about my boys and wonder what they are doing and what’s happening at home.  I just love being at home.  I was a stay at home Mom for almost 4 years and not one day I wished I was elsewhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m always so excited to leave on this little getaway, but a part of me sometime makes me miss them.  At least I know they’ll have an awesome time with my husband!  So before I left, I packed up their little suitcases for the weekend and prepared them some snacks.  This year, they had a sleepover at my mother-in-law on the Friday, and then on the next day, the 3 of them met with my girlfriends’ husband and kids for a playdate that turned into another sleepover.  Our four husbands, with our 9 kids, under one roof, with countless pillows and blankets, chips and candy, and I’m pretty sure without any curfew!  It must have been quite the evening…  Even I wouldn’t tackle such a task!  But my boys were pretty excited to tell me all about their last minute sleepover at their friends and their ‘party without Mommy’!  Apparently it’s happening again next year.  We’ll see about that!

So, back to us at the cottage!  The next morning came by way too quickly.  We packed up our things, tried to find a nice terrace for lunch, only to find hot dogs and poutine!  We did a bit of shopping, and then we were on our way…

It’s always fun to go away but there’s nothing like coming home.  I was greeted by my babies with more kisses than I could have asked for, and that was the best thing ever.

Now it’s all over, and I can’t wait to plan our next getaway.  I really hope we get to do this every year.  I just love spending some relaxing time with my girlfriends; we’ve all changed so much since University, and we sometimes don’t see each other’s enough, but in the end, we’re still the same we’ve always been: just an amazing and truly unique crew that loves spending time together, doing nothing else than alternating between our pj’s and couch and our bathing suits and spa for an entire day!

On my list of places to visit for our annual getaway: Lake Placid, Niagara on the lake, New York and Las Vegas!  Let’s see where we go next time!!!

2016
2016 Cache a Maxime
2016 Québec
2016 Québec

 

2015 Montréal
2015 Montréal
2015 Mont Tremblant

 

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vegas with kids? oh yes we did

Never say never.  Yes, we are those parents who brought their kids to Las Vegas!

I’ve been to Vegas a few times prior to our last trip and I’ve always said I would never bring my kids there.  But, well, surprise, surprise, our boys came to Vegas with us for 4 days last summer!

We love Las Vegas.  We had such an incredible time at our Honeymoon in 2009, and then again in 2013, both times staying at the gorgeous Wynn Encore… every time we go to Vegas it seems different yet always so much fun!

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to bring our kids to the city of sins, but luckily we had our double stroller (that stroller saved our lives multiple times) and many siblings to help us entertain the boys.

If you’ve read my posts on on our California trip, you know we had the time of our lives over there.  So Vegas is the second part of that 10 days trip.  We left Anaheim on the Tuesday morning, in our rented super nice minivan and drove off to the desert.  It was a really smooth ride, sometime too smooth going 100 mile per hour without even feeling it!  The boys were great, and within less than 4 hours we were at The Mirage checking-in.  We had 2 great connecting rooms with the best Jojo in the world!  Thanks Jojo for the room!!!  My Mom and Frank had arrived the day before and Brian’s family had arrived earlier that day.

We all met at the gorgeous pool for a swim as the HEAT was just crazy.  Wow!  I’ve always been to Vegas in the summer, but I had never seen a Vegas heat wave.  We couldn’t touch the pavement as it would have burned our feet instantly.  It was so hot we even saw an orange construction cone melting on the street.  It went up to 47 degrees at some point.  The air felt non-existent, like it was difficult to breath in.  So we had a few icy margaritas at the pool while enjoying a swim, and then went back inside to cool down and for a nap.

Later that day, we all met at the Forum Shops at Cesar’s Palace to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, yep second time in a week having dinner at the Cheesecake Factory… it was that good and we knew our family would enjoy it.  We had an awesome dinner and the best server.  We then took a walk down the Strip at about 11:30 at night and it was still above 35 degrees…

So the week before we were at Disneyland, and it was magical to see the boys’ reaction when meeting all of the characters… well Vegas was different… as they were scandalized and so confused to see Olaf and some Minions on the sidewalks without their costume’s HEAD while taking a break… so not like Disney!!!

Wednesday was wedding day!  Since the last time we had been there, the restaurant Giada had opened at the new hotel The Cromwell, so we decided to have brunch over there.  The restaurant is simply beautiful.  We had a great booth overlooking the Strip and Bellagio.  We shared a brick oven pizza and ceasar salad while the boys had the fanciest chicken strips and some amazing gelato ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

Then, we went back to our room and got ready for the wedding.  Drove over to The Little Church of the West and met up with our family and friends that had made the trip to see my mom getting married.  Took lots of pictures and then it was wedding time, or wedding minutes!  My Mom was gorgeous, and I was the one walking her down the aisle; both of us giggling all the way down.  It probably took less than 5 minutes for her and Frank to get married.  It was quick and beautiful.  We then headed out to one of our favorite restaurant, Maggiano’s.  It was really nice to be all together and celebrating this special day.  We had a wonderful time and the food was delicious, as always.

My Mom and Frank wanted to go to the Paris hotel where a band was playing in a little casino side cabaret.  And that’s when having kids in Vegas started to be a pain.  Until then, we didn’t really had any trouble with the kids, as we were able to go through all of the casinos in all of the hotels, as long as we wouldn’t stop, like NEVER.  You have to be in constant movement in the casinos or someone will come and warn you.  So thanks to our awesome stroller, it was easy for us to keep the kids seated (with the iPad or a toy to play with) for sometime an hour or so.  But that night it became a bit more difficult after we were told we weren’t allowed inside the cabaret with the kids… It was kind of sad for Brian to miss my mom’s wedding ‘reception’, but I understand their rules… so I stayed at the cabaret while Brian was circling around the casino.  Eventually, he left with the boys to bring them back to the room; a 15-minute walk took 1:30 with the stroller due to some of the elevators being broken, escalators too small for the stroller, and some closed walkway.  Basically, it was a pain.  So I stayed a little longer to listen to the band and dance with my mom on this special night.  There was an hilarious couple who were clearly out dancing us; kind of pretending they were on Dancing with the Stars!  It was hilarious!  Right before it was time to go, Jojo caught the bouquet, and then we said our goodbyes to the newly married couple!

On Thursday we took a quick trip to the Premium Outlets, met up with my friends Anik and Jannick who flew to Vegas for the wedding.  Came back for a swim and a nap, and THEN, got dressed up for the big event: LOVE by Cirque du Soleil.  We saw LOVE 7 years ago, but we wanted to see it again.  At first, when we booked our trip, the show was on hiatus.  But 3 weeks prior to our departure, a 10th Anniversary LOVE show was announced.  So we jump at the occasion and bought some tickets for us, Jojo and Brian’s dad.  Red carpet and all for Ringo Star, Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s son and Sir Paul McCartney.  We could see them from our seats; and it was just a unique experience to watch that show and listen to the Beatles’ music with Sir Paul sitting next to us in the crowd.  Fantastic show; we’ll see it again one day that’s for sure.  At the end, Sir Paul came on the stage and sang with us.  It was such a beautiful moment that I will never forget.

Matante Lulu babysat the boys in our room while we attended the show. Merci Matante!!!  By 10:30 the show was over but we weren’t ready to call it a night, so we all left for Fremont Street.  At 11:00 at night, parents of the year award goes to us!  And it was so inappropriate; the boys saw things they should have not seen for another 15 years!  The naked nuns being one of those!!!  I’ll just say it’s the last time for a while that I will venture out to Fremont Street!

So Friday was our last day of our 10 day California/Vegas trip.  We explored a few more hotels, gambled a little, took a few pictures and met up again with Jannick.  We had drinks at Serendipity on the strip side patio and did a bit of shopping.  Rounded up the gang and had one last dinner at the Mirage buffet.  Our flight was delayed and the boys were amazing staying up late once again.  We got lucky though, as the four of us were upgraded to first class seats for our red-eyed flight back to Montreal.  Let’s just say the boys looked really jet-set in first class with their drinks and provided iPad!  I could really get used to travelling like this!

So, in the end, it was not that bad bringing the kids to Vegas, but I wouldn’t recommend it (although they seemed to have enjoyed their trip and the night life!).  Logan really enjoyed Las Vegas as he sang ‘Viva Las Vegas’ so many times during the week, he was so cute!  Vegas or anywhere else, we just love to travel with people we love; it’s the best.

We will be back in Vegas for sure… next time at our beloved Wynn Encore… but without our boys by our side!  We love traveling with them, and of course I’m already planning on bringing them back to see Mickey soon, but Vegas is our own Disneyland, and we can’t wait to go back by ourselves!!!

Viva Las Vegas!

 

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last week of winter

First, I would like to announce the very lucky winner of the essential oils holder giveaway: Anne-Renée Caporicci!  Kind of forgot about it over March break, but better late than never!  Thank you to everyone who shared, liked and promoted my blog.  And thanks a lot to our friend from Scotty Wood Design for the great gift!  I wish I could give everyone a prize! You are all so great, thanks again for following mylemondroplife!  I promise I’ll do another giveaway very soon.

So last week was March break, finally!  We had been waiting for it for like forever.  We had a long to-do list, but not much got a chance to be crossed off.  It wasn’t on the list, but we did end up spending three straight days in our pajamas!  It should have been on the list cause it felt sooo good.

On our first day off, we slept in… well past the usual 7am.  A luxury!  And then we took the boys and their cousins to a few games of laser quest.  We met a friend from Liam’s class, played arcade games, had a lot of fun, and then we went for an ice cream cone at Chocolats Favoris.  Laser quest followed by ice cream cone is one of my boys favorite things to do!  One of my favorite as well.

Back home, we had Brian’s sister and brother over for dinner.  My brothers-in-law practically took over my home and Brian’s toolbox and repaired every minor things our house needed fixing for!  The question needs to be asked: where was my husband when they learned all of that?  I don’t want to know!  Well, thanks guys… please come back in May for the outside fixin’!

Sunday was snooze fest.  We each took turns for naps and being lazy.  These days are the best!

Monday was Trolls Day.  The boys have been obsessed with the movie and CD.  The music is awesome, or was awesome, for a while.  Logan got the soundtrack for Christmas and it’s all the music we have been listening to in the car since.  I can’t listen one more time to ‘Can’t stop the feeling’.  The movie has also been on a loop at home since we got it.  So, to make them happy on their first real March break day off, I decided to have a special day to honor Trolls.  My mom made the most awesome Trolls hat, it’s hilarious!  We also had popcorn and Trolls cookies and cones while watching -once again- the movie.

We had the best of days on Tuesday.  I had planned the chocolate paint activity with my cousins!  You can read more about that in my last post.  The kids had so much fun being together.  But it made me feel old, as I can remember spending time with my cousins during March break doing fun activities our parents had planned out for us.  Now, it’s our turn.

On Wednesday, as soon as Brian came back from work, we left for the cottage for a three nights little family getaway.  It was Brian’s first days off since our California adventure last summer, and the kids were really excited that the four of us were leaving on a ‘trip’.  Logan was expecting we’d take a plane and go to Disney, but no, not this time Loggy; it was only a short road trip to my uncle’s cottage in Morin Heights.  We were lucky enough to have the cottage for ourselves for the weekend (as my uncle was away down south with my mom for the week).  Morin Heights is a cute little village near Saint-Sauveur in the Laurentians.  We had packed our snowshoes, a bunch of kids movies and some snacks.  First stop was for a late diner at Patate Labelle in Lachute, a snack bar where you can get some of the best fast food around.  For me it was a poutine; HEAVEN!

Once we arrived, we made a fire and snuggled on the couch for what seems like hours.  By that I mean the boys on the iPad and myself taking a nap!

Next morning, we braved the cold and got out to the Glissades des Pays d’En Haut. We met up with our friends ‘les Roy’ and went sliding/tubing.  It was one of my favorite as a child and still is.  That place is so much fun with some really fast rides, but with next to nobody on the hills, bonus, there was like no waiting time.  After the first ride we already knew that our little Logan was not a fan.  Poor Loggy, he saw the hills and he started to cry, so I decided to skip a few with him, but we did managed to bring him back with us later for some more rides… but he definitely had more fun jumping on the tubes and eating snow than going down the hill!

We did the rafting and tornado slides and they were crazy!  I mean the 8 of us in one circle type of boat going down the hill while spinning and spinning, watch out!  I screamed the entire way down!

So we went back to the cottage, and then, of course, I took another nap… what can I say, for me, cottage + fire = I need a nap.  Well not only at the cottage, it’s actually one of my main priorities when on vacation.  But then I was ready for our feast.  Our friends joined us at the cottage, and we had cheese fondue, cheese raclette and another fondue.  But even after that amazing meal and all that good cheese, I got to say that the best part was the dessert!!!  Vero had made some croissants filled with Cadbury Easter eggs.  To die for… while the guys’ dessert was another craft beer… they found a spot in Morin Heights where there was a ton of Beau’s beer that they can’t find at our local LCBO… but as excited as they were, nothing could have come close to what I felt eating that Cadbury Egg croissant!  Shortly after we were done with the desserts, we were all so full, and the kids were all so exhausted that we called it a night.

Friday was already here and we went snowshoeing in the mountain trails.  I’d say it was a tad dangerous and a little extreme for some 4 and 6 years old, but it was just gorgeous.  After snowshoeing, we went for a French onion soup, then a nap, and then some main street shopping in Saint-Sauveur before ending up in a pub to celebrate St-Patty’s Day… with craft beers, burgers and an awesome dessert.  And then, one last night at the cottage, with the end of March break approaching way too fast…

On our way back home, we had to go say goodbye to Brian’s aunt, and on our way there we went to the theater to see Beauty and the Beast.  No spoiler alert here, just go watch that movie.  Wow!  We had dinner with Brian’s family, and then it was time to drive back to Rockland… and time to end our March break the same way we started it, in our pajamas!  It was a week filled with great snacks, great adventures, great friends, and many great naps… just the way it’s supposed to be!

Next, summer break!

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california dreamin’

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I remember, years ago, dreaming about going to Hollywood with my friend Annick to visit the land of our all-time favorite movie, Pretty Woman, renting a convertible and cruising down Rodeo Drive!  Well, sadly it never happened, but at the same time, Thank God we never went, because after spending a week there, let me tell you one thing: what a freaking mess it is to drive in LA!!!

So, we decided to travel to California and Las Vegas back in January.  I love planning trips, the excitement, the dreams and all the things you will do!  I never imagined LA was going to be this BIG!  We had a great flight, the boys were awesome; they just love going on a plane. They were so quiet, and happy, and relax, and sleepy.  Don’t worry, I did not exaggerated on the GRAVOL, I just followed their Doctor’s recommendation, or course!

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So we arrived in LA, all excited, ready for our big trip.  Once Brian got our minivan keys, we were ready for our driving journey!  My mom had rented a AirBNB for the week near Venice Beach, so that’s where we drove first.  We had guacamole and drinks, talked about our flight, about LA, and then we left to explore the city!  First stop: Venice Beach.  The beach was just gorgeous, with water for miles, beautiful sand, and a perfect gleaming sun.  We walked on the beach and Logan face planted the moment he started running for the Ocean!  It was hilarious!  They had a great time finding the smallest of seashells and just being pushed by the waves.  We should’ve spent more time at the beach on that first day, but we thought we would have time to come back; which we didn’t.  Next we explored the Venice Beach Boardwalk, an experience in itself.  Let’s be honest here, Venice Beach is not what I expected… let say there’s nothing glamorous about that place.  It was first on my list and now it may be last if we ever go back to LA.  We had snacks and walk for a few miles and then we started to get jet lag.  We had seen enough, so we drove to Anaheim, where we were actually staying.

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The boys fell asleep within 30 seconds, Jojo within 10 minutes, and we made it to Anaheim in no less than almost 2 hours with the never ending traffic.  We found our room, we unpacked, we freshened up, and with a second wind, we were now headed to Downtown Disney for a great diner at Napoli’s and a very late night on the town!  We had been up for almost 24 hours by the time we went to bed that night.  But after a short night of sleep, we spent the day at Disneyland.  One of my favorite place on earth.  When can I go back?

On Saturday, we had the chance to attend the most beautiful wedding ever.  Betsy and Andrew got married in LA.  The church was beautiful and the venue was out of this world.  We will never experience anything like this ever again.

Of course we had a few bumps on our way to the church!  We had an hour drive to the wedding, and as always, we were tight on time.  The boys were loud and agitated all morning long, but luckily for us, we had a dvd player in our rented minivan and the boys were really into that new movie we had bought that morning: Star Wars Lego, so we didn’t hear them for the first 45 minutes.  The last 15 was completely different thought.  Liam started to feel sick, while on the highway, right before our exit: ‘maman, I think I’m going to be sick’… Brian just said ‘F***ck…’ and looked at me in despair, knowing what was coming.  We were in our wedding attire, the boys were in their wedding attire, we had no wipes, no water, 2 pj’s and one plastic bag from Target because of that Star Wars dvd we had bought earlier that day!  So yeah, well said, f*ck

I got out of the passenger’s seat, unbuckled Liam, brought him in the back seat, I sat on the floor, my dress gathered around my waist, taking him out of his clothes as he was now so pale… and then it came all out… most of it in that Target plastic bag, all of this while driving at over 75 mph!  It was a nightmare.  I took one of the pj’s and wiped him with it!  Thank God we were only minutes away.  So we made it to the church, got out of the minivan, found a wedding guest who was nice enough to give me a bottle of water, cleaned him up, and dressed him up.  In no time he was top shape and we were ready, with even 5 minutes to spare before the wedding!  It was such a beautiful ceremony.

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Before going to the reception venue, we had an hour or so to burn, but I had a plan.  An In-N-Out plan!  So Logan and I got ourselves crazy good burgers while I took one of my favorite picture of the year!  Boy I could use one of these right now!  In-N-Out burgers are the best.

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We ended up in Santa Clara and drove by the ocean, until it was time to climb up that mountain to get to the reception.  That’s when I found my new fear of heights!  Ouff… we had to stop at least 5 times while driving there, as I had to put my feet of the pavement and take a few breaths.  But once we got there, it was paradise.  Felt like a movie.  Wedding out of dreams, at the Blackberry Creek Farm, where California meets Italy.  The food, the flowers, the dishes, the sky.   The bride and groom were gorgeous.  We dined under the lights in a valley surrounded by big trees.  All the details were thought of.  The boys played in a tree house, with a chandelier inside… my kind of playhouse!  And my kind of wedding!  In the end, we had such a fabulous time.  Thanks again for having us!  This place was just perfect: http://www.kellygulch.com/

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On Sunday morning we drove to Beverly Hills.  We snapped lots of pictures of boutiques, street signs and famous places.  I finally drove down Rodeo Drive (not in a convertible thought, but in our nice minivan!).  Then we visited Griffith Park and Observatory to see the Hollywood sign.  That new fear of heights reached another level that day while driving up there, and I was not able to enjoy the view from atop the mountain.  So we drove back fast enough to sea level, where I’m very comfortable!

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We made our way to Santa Monica Pier.  Wow.  The sky was clear, the sun was bright, it was so crowded, with music and people everywhere, yet, at the end of the pier, everything seemed to be so calm, and so peaceful.  This was Brian’s favorite moment of the trip, he seemed so happy to be there.  I have tears thinking about that moment  we spent over there, just staring at the never ending ocean.  It’s like we were alone in the world, it was just breathtaking.ca15

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We then played a few arcade games, won a few Shopkins for the boys, and watched a few performers along the way.  The beach was too crowded… we tried to swim, the boys wanted to go in the ocean again, but the waves were too strong.  We just stayed there for a few minutes and then packed up our stuff with a few pounds of sands in our swimsuits and we were on our way back to Anaheim.

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We had diner at The Cheesecake Factory… it’s good thing we don’t have one of those here…I would live there.  DELICIOUS food, and those cheesecake, huh… just kill me now!!!  No let me eat my cheesecake first, then kill me!

Monday was our last day in California.  We went to Disney California Adventure.  You can read about our time at Disney in one of my previous post.  The boys are now asking daily when are we going back there.  I don’t have an answer.  But I know it will happen again, eventually!  We had such a great trip, but we didn’t even have time to see half of what we wanted to see.  Next time we’ll have a convertible, lots of time, and we’ll drive from Napa to Disneyland!

Sunsets and palm trees, we love you.

 

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it’s just a little hocus pocus…our salem day trip

14567601_10154356482131293_2202737002413096952_oHocus Pocus, my favorite Halloween movie!  Which was mostly filmed in…SALEM!

The first time we went to Boston, in 2007, I saw a Salem sign on the way there and I just SCREAMED!  I had no clue where Salem was but I knew this was the witches town, and witches equal Halloween, and Halloween equals fun!  I wanted to go right away, Brian didn’t, so finally we settled that we would stop on our way back…  I think he was hoping I’d forget about this while we were in Boston, but oh no I didn’t, I thought about it all weekend long…

So, on our way back we took the Salem exit, found a little village, not a ‘cute’ little village, though, like I imagined, but anyway, we were there and we started to look for witches!  I had my Salem-witch-hunt-map ready, but strangely, it seems like I couldn’t find anything, it was just so confusing, the street didn’t match, there were no stores, nothing scary really.  So we stopped at a General Store and Brian went in and asked where the most popular Witches Dungeon was, and, yeah, well, the answer was ‘sorry Sir, but what you’re looking for is Salem, Massachusetts.  Here, you’re in Salem, New Hampshire’.  So Salem, Massachusetts was left of the bucket list, until 3 weeks ago!

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So during our last minute October road trip to Boston, we finally planned a full day in Salem!  Woohoo!  We had no particular agenda, I just wanted to walk and visit this really ‘cute’ and unique village.  October is very special for Salem, they call it Haunted Happenings, has they host a month long  Halloween party!  Yep, my kind of place.  We got lucky, as it was also the Food Truck Festival while we were there in the  Salem Common, a park right in the middle of this historic village.  It was full of amazingly delicious food trucks, with so many people, a little bit of rain, some New England Clam Chowder and a few lobster rolls; we all enjoyed our food truck lunch under a huge pergola!

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We walked on the red line all day, which guides you through town.  Going through shops, little cafés, delicious bake shops, while stopping every 15 feet to take pictures.  We saw the CLUE house (ya, like the game, where a real murder happened!!!), the Bewitched statue of Samantha, and a wand shop called Wynotts.  Everything was stunning…simply scary stunning!  I was in heaven.  The houses, the trees, the crooked sidewalks; I am just in love with this place.  I can’t wait to go back… yeah, well, I’m going back next year, just decided!!!  Next year I want to bring my mom and the boys.  They would love it.  So bucket list for next summer: Salem!  And this time I wanna do the Red Trolley Tour and the Hocus Pocus tour (it was sold out).

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As I’ve said before, I’m not into the scary stuff, but even I loved walking in the Salem 300 years old cemetery…it was kinda creepy but yet so fascinating, or something like that!  The old stones, the huge tombs, the graved names, the old trees and the very old iron gate; it felt like in a movie.  Well, it was like in a movie… as this cemetery is the exact same one you see in the movie Hocus Pocus!

So next year, I want to spend more time just sitting in a pub or café, take a tour, visit Dani and Max’s house, visit the witch dungeon, and do the Salem Escape Room!

You have to visit, and if you do, please bring me!  It’s just a little Hocus Pocus!

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Ah say ento pi alpha mabi upendi

Ah say ento pi alpha mabi upendi

In comma coriyama

In comma coriyama

Hey, hey, high, high

Say bye-bye!

Bye bye!

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