disney’s epcot

Back when I first started to plan our 2019 Walt Disney World family trip, I wasn’t sure if we would be visiting Epcot. We were going to be in Orlando only for a week and the original plan was to visit three of the four parks, leaving Epcot out. Then, while looking out for some online deals, I found out about the Canadian resident special, where you buy tickets for 3 parks and get a 4th one for free… which pretty much settled the deal for me! So just like that we were going to Epcot as well which made me very happy! 

I won’t lie, it’s never been my favorite park. The rides aren’t up my alley, and I always felt, when compared to the other parks, that it was lacking a little bit of magic. But when I started to look for what not to miss at that park, now that we were going, I realized that we were visiting during the Garden and Flower Festival, which got me quite excited about our day around the world at Epcot!

We had a few ups and downs during this visit at Epcot but I’m still super glad we closed the loop on the Disney Parks and visited all four during our trip.

It was our third straight days of hitting the parks but we still managed to get to Epcot pretty early. It was our last Disney Park as well as our last day in Orlando, so even if we were all tired, we were all very happy to be there. First, I really want to tell you all about what happened while going through the security gate in the morning. So you know, before entering any park, you have to open all the bags and basically tear apart your stroller… well, while I was re-packing the first back pack, the security guard asked me if I had visited Animal Kingdom the day before. So I said ‘’yes, I did’’… and he told me that he was at Animal Kingdom the day before and could clearly remember going through my purse at the security line! I burst laughing, as I couldn’t believe it; of all the purses in Disney, this guy really had a thing for my awesome 20$ purse from Wish! Here’s a link from my mother’s day gift list if you ever want one: WISH STRAW PURSE

As soon as we made it into the park, my first impression was simply WOW! The scenery from the freshly planted flowers and garden everywhere was gorgeous. The first flower bed was huge and filled with butterfly topiaries, perfect for some beautiful pictures as it was right under the Epcot sphere.

A few minutes into the park, we decided to split right away to let Brian’s crew to go for some rides while I went with the boys to visit Baymax, Joy and Sadness, Goofy, as well as Mickey and Minnie. I love meet and greet, I feel like we should have done more, but some of these lines are pretty long, so we only did the ones the boys really wanted to do. I love when the characters take a moment to chat a little and have fun with the kids, but at the same time, I get it, you know, the wait time is already brutal, so if they’d spend one more minute per kid, it wouldn’t end!

It was now time for my first ride of the day, and Logan and I were in heaven when we rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends. This ride is so cute and when you walk out you are greeted with huge aquariums. We loved it.

All day long, everywhere we’d go, we were surrounded by beautiful garden and flower beds. It was gorgeous. Also, Epcot has new play/rest areas where kids can play and run safely while the parents may sit for a bit. We visited two of them and were absolutely over the moon for them. Days are long at the park and we’re always telling them to hold hands, stay close, sit here, stand there, be quiet, wait in line… but when they were playing in these areas, they were free from all the rules, and they ran, and climbed, and laughed and had so much fun playing with each other. These areas were filled with veggies, fruits, herbs, plants and lots and lots of flowers, with comfy chairs all around for parents to sit and relax. I honestly think it was the best hour I spent at Epcot that day, relaxing while the boys were having fun with all of the other kids. What a great idea. ‘’All that’s missing is a margarita bar’’ Brian said when he joined us there for a few minutes!

We started our tour around-the-world while being very hungry, which made things a bit more complicated. All of our friends that travelled to Disney in the last few years had told us ‘’leave the kids at the house and go to Epcot alone to do the around-the-world showcase; have a drink at every country and I swear you’ll have the best time ever’’. THAT was not our experience. I’m sure it’s great when you do this as adults, grabbing a bite here and there with a few drinks along the way, but the reality is that even though there’s a lot to eat, picky little eaters aren’t that impressed with fancy seafood or raw meat dishes. Many of our friends told us that Epcot was their fav, but it isn’t my fav, far from it. I wish Brian would bring me back there right now, ‘as adults’, so it would become my fav as well!!! But he told me I wasn’t allowed to ask about Disney for at least another 2 years (cause he’s so boring sometime) *eyes rolling*

I/me and the kids actually had a meltdown in England as we were getting hungry and it was getting pretty hot outside. What’s funny is that I/me and not the kid actually had a similar meltdown at the exact same spot five years ago. Brian was very happy to remind me of it! Maybe that’s why I’m not allowed to talk about Disney for another 2 years!

So right there we split to allow everyone to have exactly what they wanted to have for lunch. To be fair, I have to say that the park is so much better than I remembered from 5 years ago, but I think it still misses something like a McDonald somewhere between Canada and the USA, so my kids could eat chicken nuggets and be full and happy like I was after my fancy cheese plate with a demi-baguette and a butter croissant in France!

After lunch, we regrouped and visited the rest of the showcases, Jojo met Snow White, her favorite Disney princess, the boys met Ana and Elsa, Brian and friends found a margarita bar in Mexico, where we met with Donald and took some funny pictures.

One of my favorite part of Epcot is definitely Norway. Frozen was the boys’ favorite movie from age 2 to 4, but not so much anymore. Yet, let me tell you that they were very excited when we met Ana and Elsa… and not so much because we were actually meeting them, but because Ana started to talk to them in French, which made their day! Also, the new Frozen ride is the best. So glad we had Fast Passes for it, because the 2-hour wait time would have probably made it not my favorite part of the park! They apparently modernised an older ride and adapted it into Frozen, and I have to say they did an awesome job at it. I never rode the previous ride before, so I had no clue what to expect, but it was as beautiful as it was exciting and thrilling! 

Then, we walked towards Mexico where there was a Mariachi band playing the Coco soundtrack. I couldn’t stop listening to them. And then Miguel came out and all I could do was scream to the boys that Miguel was here. I was wayyyyy more into it than they were, even though they truly LOVE the Coco movie. I have to say that I might have cried a little while watching the Coco mariachi playing band. Logan had been wanting to see ‘Donald Mexico’ all day, as he called him. We were super lucky to meet him as we found him while there was almost no one in line. Donald was so much fun. He even made a few jokes with the boys. Logan was obsessed. The pictures of Donald Mexico are his favorites of the entire trip. By then it was very hot outside, but luckily, Mexico has the best gazebo by the water! So we found some great seats, ordered some nachos and guac, beers and margs and sat in the shades for a little while. It was nice to sit down, and enjoy some food by the water and just relax a little. Definitely one of the best spot in Epcot!

We then split again while I visited Ralph and Vaneloppe, played some more in the kid’s area and rode The Land, an interesting ride about our planet Earth, while Brian went and did the Test Track and a few other rides.

Our last Fast Pass was for Soaring, which was one of everyone’s favorite ride 5 years ago in Orlando as well as 2 years ago in California. The Fast Pass was not for another hour though, so Brian and his sister decided to walk back across the lake to Italy in order to place some reservations at the Via Napoli Pizzeria. Once they arrived, the maître d’hôtel didn’t take their reservation since the 12 of us weren’t there with him ready to eat. The wait time was well over 90 minutes and we would have all made it there easily in time… but no, it didn’t work, no reservations for us that evening. It was our favorite restaurant the last time we went to Disney World and I really wanted to eat there again. But not this time! So they walked back to us, got a margarita on the way, told us about the reservation, which actually got me pretty bummed. We then did Soaring, and while everyone kept on talking about how they remembered it from last time, I couldn’t really get it as this was going to be my first time. I kind of knew what I was getting into, and was a bit worried as I often get afraid of heights, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Sadly, Soaring was our last ride of the trip. (Insert tears ride here)

After we did Soaring, I was still mad (I was pissed!!!) that our diner plans had fell apart, I was sad that we were done with the rides, I was hungry, we still had nowhere to go for dinner, and the fireworks were about to start in less than an hour. I can guarantee you that this is usually a great combination for another adult meltdown at the park! But I did held it together and we found this place called The Umbrella, where they serve chicken fingers and burgers. Definitely not the amazing and memorable meal we had planned to have on our last day, but… well, I guess it was actually somewhat memorable as we will probably never forget the fast-food we had at The Umbrella on our last day! Oh well, I was about to realize that there are worst thing in life than this… like not getting a good spot for fireworks. Yep… we had all the time in the world to find a good spot, but no, we were stuck behind some cedar trees and a store. We could see the higher ones, just not what was happening below. I still managed to cry, and Logan too. He was a hot mess by the end; tired and emotional… just like me.

After the last firework disappeared in the sky, that’s when it hit me. It was truly time to say goodbye. Definitely my least favorite moment at Disney. It was hard. With more tears. More emotions. More I want to stay. More when are we coming back. More love from watching the boys being filled with all the Disney magic, but also more sadness knowing this will never be the same as they are growing up so fast. More love than sadness though, for sure. I am so happy we visited Epcot.

So we left the park with our hearts full. What an amazing trip. And like the Genie says: “Today’s special moments are tomorrow’s memories.” And we are definitely left with a lots of those – unforgettable memories.

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disney’s animal kingdom

After a break from all the Disney magic on Tuesday, Wednesday was the day we were visiting Animal Kingdom, my favorite park during our last family trip and still my favorite one this time around. It’s kind of weird for me to admit that Magic Kingdom is not my favorite park anymore, as it definitely was (and it was by far!!!) when I was a kid. The castle still makes me cry, from the moment I see it walking in in the morning to the moment I see it walking out at night, but Animal Kingdom has something different to offer, not sure if it’s the surroundings, the nature, the animals, or the overall vibe, but it’s simply the best.

Since we didn’t have any Fast Passes booked that morning, we decided not to rush out the door and had planned to get to the park a little later, at about 9:30 rather than our usual 8:30 from the first two parks. Big mistake!!! First, we had to wait 20 minutes in the parking lot before we could get on one of the trams that gets you to the park. Then, after we made it to the park, the line went on forever to get inside. To make matters worse, the waiting time for Avatar’s Flight of Passage, the ride everyone most wanted to do, was already at 195 minutes when we got there. Well, as much as I wanted to do it, there’s no way I was gonna wait over 3 hours when I just got to the park with so many things I want to do and see. Oh, and with two kids in tow, I wasn’t willing to risk my sanity that early in the morning for a ride! But my father-in-law did! More on that later!

The first ride we did after splitting up was It’s Tough to Be a Bug, which is a fun an entertaining 3D show based on the Bug’s Life movie. We all loved the show, as well as the waiting line to get there, which brings you around, beside, through and under the Tree of Life. I have to say that I am in awe for the Tree of Life, as it’s as beautiful as it gets. Looking at it simply makes me happy, and makes me want to be a better person, and live better, and do greater things, does that make any sense? So as much as I love it, someone loves it even more than I do. If I’m in awe for it, Brian is like next level in awe for it. Most of the pictures or selfies you’ll see from the two of us come from me saying something like ‘hey, let’s take a selfie’. But this time around, he’s the one who asked me ‘hey, can we take a selfie here’. And I’m glad he did, as I think this ended up being one of our best pictures of the entire trip.

After that, while my father-in-law was still not even close to being halfway through the Avatar waiting line, we split up even more, with half of us going on one side for Primeval Whirl and Expedition Everest, and the other half going towards Triceratop Spin (a Dumbo-like ride) and the Boneyard (yeah, I was part of that half!). We  ended up spending a long time in the Boneyard, letting the kids run wild. They could have easily stayed there all day long. We actually came back later on since this was all they would talk about. It’s the perfect spot to sit and rest, while letting them have fun running, climbing or going down slides.

So far the day was simply perfect, with some of the best weather to visit a park; a beautiful day, something like 25 degrees Celsius, sunny, with no clouds in sight, but not too hot either. By about 1:30pm, we were starting to get hungry, so we had a quick lunch at Flame Tree BBQ and then met up with Brian’s crew to get ready for our Kilimanjaro Safari, as we all had fast passes for that ride. Like I said earlier in the post, my father-in-law had decided to do the Avatar ride at about 10:30am, and at 2:45pm we finally heard back from him when he texted us that he was next in line. So what was supposed to be a 195 minutes wait actually ended being a 260 minutes wait. Yep, they waited over 4 hours for the ride. They explained that once it was almost their turn, after like 3 hours, something happened, like the ride broke, and then they had to wait almost another hour before they would start it up again. BUT, at least, they got in and then both said it was the best ride ever! They were really impressed by it and told us we should definitely come back later that day to try it, as it was totally worth the wait. Well, I’ll tell you right away that we ended up not doing it later on as the wait time was still over 3 hours when we came back, which is way too long of a wait for kids like mine; especially when they were asking every 15 minutes about the Boneyard where there was actually no waiting line. I would have had a tough time trying to explain that one for 3 hours. Next time for sure, though! 

By mid-afternoon, it was time for my favorite ride of the park, the Kilimanjaro Safari. You know you are an over enthusiastic Disney fan when you’d prefer to do the ride in loop rather than going for the real thing in Africa! This ride is simply the best. Actually, thinking about it, it almost makes me want to plan a trip to Africa just to enjoy the sceneries and watch the animals a little bit longer. I truly wish it would have lasted a longer, as it just went by so quickly. I just googled the length of the safari, and it’s actually 22 minutes, which is longer than I thought. We saw so many animals, spotting a few special or rare ones I think. Liam was ecstatic when he finally saw some crocodiles, as he had been looking for one everywhere we’d go ever since we made it to Orlando. Well, of course he was looking, as Brian had told him that we very may see one in Florida, maybe even in our backyard pool. Way to go Brian! So there was like at least ten of them, and you could see that this was too much joy for Liam, telling me ‘‘the crocodiles, there… mommy, look, the crocodiles, take a picture, please, take one… have you taken a picture?’’ with his little over-excited voice. I was so happy for him to finally see a live one. And then, out of nowhere, my 14 years old nephew told us that the ride was fun but that it would be even better if the animals were real. We all looked at each other, wondering if he was kidding, and then all burst out laughing! We were halfway through the ride and all along he thought the animals were fake… we told him they were real, but he still had doubts, that is until we got stuck there for a few minutes as 2 rhinos were blocking the path. They were so close to us we could have probably touched them (apparently it would have been a very bad idea) if we would have wanted! Writing this… I’m bawling. Not because the rhinos scared me or anything, but because I just wish I could go back there, at Animal Kingdom, with my boys, and re-live that day all over again.

We then had two more things to do, first was to go to the Asia section of the park to recreate one of my favorite picture ever, and then to make our way into Pandora’s, the new Avatar land, where we had fast passes for the Na’vi River ride. So we got to Asia, got Liam’s picture in front of the same blue door as in 2014, then stopped for some margaritas, and then made our way to Pandora. The first thing you see is that gigantic rock hanging thing from the movie, which is breathtaking. The boys (and Brian) still haven’t seen the movie, so they didn’t really understood what Pandora was all about, but I have to say that it’s simply beautiful, and clearly a must see, whether you’ve seen the movie or not; there’s nothing quite like it. I actually wish we would have had more than one day to explore everything, so that way I would have had plenty of time to spend wander around the park and do Flight of Passage. So we were in Pandora to ride the Na’vi River, which is an It’s a Small World type of ride, with colours that are simply out of this world. The blend of the flowers, the music, the neon colours everywhere and the kind of jellyfish floating around us was wonderful.  

2014
2019

After we were done with the Na’vi River, we had used all of our Fast Passes for the day, done all the rides we wanted to do (except the other Avatar ride), seen the Nemo musical, ate too much Mickey shaped ice-cream bars and popcorn, they had drank enough margaritas to keep themselves hydrated, so we decided to call it a day. A decision I now fully regret! For one, I forgot to buy my Starbucks park mug. I can’t believe I forgot about it. I got one from each park except Animal Kingdom, my favorite one. Seriously, I was so pissed about it when I realized I had actually forgotten to buy it, I cried. Second, I’m a rope drop to fireworks kinda gal and we didn’t even get to watch the night show. And finally, I definitely didn’t take enough pictures (for my taste) on that day.

But you know what, I had a great time at Animal Kingdom, and at the end of the day, being with our family on this trip was the very best. It’s not about where you go or what you do (or the mugs you buy!), but it’s about who you share these moments with. And spending some time with my mom was the best. Animal Kingdom was her favorite too and for the boys to spend so much time with her, throughout the day and the entire week, it was just awesome.

So, as soon as I’m done telling you about our days at the different parks we visited (next will be Epcot), I will be posting a list of all the things you absolutely have to do at Disney, with our favorite rides, what to skip, the best meals we got, the best shows, etc., and guess what will be at the top of the list? Animal Kingdom. If you go to Orlando or Disney, you absolutely have to go to Animal Kingdom. It’s a MUST. And while you’re there, could you PLEASE get me a Starbucks mug?!!!


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disney’s magic kingdom

On our second day, my fav, and obviously everyone’s fav, the day I had longed for over a year, our beautiful Magic Kingdom. The castle, the fireworks, the Dole Whip, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and also, the perfect occasion to finally wear my skirt! Yep, my skirt, which I bought over 3 years ago dreaming of wearing it one day at Magic Kingdom. Well the skirt did not disappoint! And neither did the castle and everything else.

Following a long and hot first day at Hollywood Studio, everyone was very tired, but I still managed to convince them all to wake up super early in the morning for our day at Magic Kingdom. I really wanted to make sure we wouldn’t miss anything. The last two days were catching up on us big time, still, we were out of the door on time and ready to rock this day. I knew it was going to be hot and sunny again, but I hadn’t planned that by 7:30 am the humidity would have already frizzed my just curled hair. So much for the cute pictures I was supposed to take! Oh well… at least I had the perfect skirt on!

We entered the park with 2 things in mind, first, to recreate our group picture just like we did in 2014 in front of the castle, and then to rush to the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to ride it before the waiting line would be too long. Well, we weren’t the only one with that plan in mind I guess! We made it to the ride but there was already about 2 hours of wait time, so we postponed it and did Peter Pan’s Flight (one of my fav) and It’s a Small World (definitely one of my fav) back to back instead, all that within the first hour of being in the park, not bad, right?

Then it was time for our first treats, FINALLY! So we all had either a Lost Princess cone or a Peter Pan float, except for me, of course, who had to try them both. You know, you got to understand something here, I would have probably just had one like everyone else, but both treats were on my what-to-eat-at-Disney list, and as an almost famous small town blogger, well I felt the need to please my followers and report back on both treats… and now that I have tried them both, well I can honestly say that they are arguably some of the most delicious treats ever. See, isn’t the point of blogging to have an excuse to eat things like Princess Cones and Peter Pan floats? Pretty sure it is.

After that, we split up in half to go ride Dumbo and Space Mountain. I left with my crew while Brian went to Space Mountain with his crew and their fast-passes; his crew being everyone doing the more extreme rides while my crew being the ones who were looking forward to riding Dumbo. Unfortunately for him the ride was “broken”. Fortunately though, they were told they could use their fast-passes in any other ride, so since they only had 10 minutes left to use it, they opted for the closest one and rode Buzz Lightyear… without the boys, which is THE ride they wanted to do at Magic Kingdom!

Meanwhile, we did another one of my fav, DUMBO! Isn’t it the cutest ride of all time? I could spend my day in that ride and never get bored! The colours, the cute elephants, the circus tent, everything about that ride made me happy. Then it was time for some churros, larger than life donuts, and some more popcorn! As I told you in my last post, popcorn was like a meal for Liam in Disney!

After that we rode Under the sea and then finally decided to wait in line for the Mine Train. I am not a big roller-coaster fan, but this ride is adorable, with a few intense corners, but still smooth enough for easily scared kids like mine. Overall, I loved everything about it… except for the 2-hour wait line, I guess. I have to say that now that I have done it, if I had to go back to Magic Kingdom today, I would definitely stay behind and spend that 2 hours exploring more of the park; but we hadn’t done it before, so we really wanted to do it. And we were travelling with one of Snow White’s biggest fan after all!!!

We then grabbed lunch and watched the parade. It was gorgeous, but it kinda seemed shorter than I remembered. Maybe it’s just me and my wish to make moments like this last forever! Then it was time for Big Thunder Railway, which Brian’s crew rode twice in a row since we all had fast-passes booked but the Dumbo crew didn’t really wanted to do it. Then it was time for Splash Mountain, which ended up being one of our favorite moments of the trip. He’s not the type to get adventurous, like he’s usually the complete opposite of it, and don’t ask me why, but when Liam saw the big drop and the water splash it caused, he told me he really wanted to do Splash Mountain. I was sure he would chicken out at some point, but no, he didn’t. And not only he didn’t chickened out, he actually waited in line for over two hours without saying anything about the wait time and the fact that they were not moving as they had to deal with another “broken” ride half way into the line. I actually didn’t do it, as I went back to Logan and my Mom while the others waited it out. I am so happy he did it, as he loved it so much; and the picture tells it all, with is little face, huge grin, 2 little arms up in the air while having the time of his life. MAGIC!

Oh, so while they were waiting in line for Splash Mountain, I had to find something else to blog about or to take pictures of, so I headed out for some Funnel Cake and some more ice cream. So I guess I should officially report back to my followers, before I forget, that these treats were also extremely delicious!!!

Then we did Pirates of the Caribbean and the Magic Carpets. OMG, the Magic Carpets ride is AWESOME. Who knew? I had never done it before, but was simply hilarious! We had an awesome time riding it… like, there’s a camel that spits water on the other riders when you press on the button… I couldn’t have asked for more, it was so much fun, as we laugh and screamed the entire time! Then we had some more Dole Whip and popcorn while we made our way to the Mad Tea Party tea cups ride. I’m not really into the spinning rides, especially after all the treats I have had so far, so we just sat in our cup and enjoyed the smooth ride without the extra spinning.

We then went back for some more pictures in front of the castle before sunset, but I had so many problems with my fancy camera during this trip that our pictures aren’t super nice, or not as nice as I had hoped for, I guess. I know it may sound superficial, but I’m super bummed about it, as I really wanted to take better pictures throughout the trip. I kind of want to cry about it, but between the cam problems, my frizzed hair, the boys’ constant eye-rolling and messing around during picture time, Logan’s tong sticking out everywhere and Liam’s missing front tooth, it wasn’t that easy to get some picture-perfect shots.

It was almost time for the fireworks, but luckily we were able to squeeze a short visit with Mickey and Minnie for some pictures in their 90th anniversary outfits! So cute and so much fun. The boys loved it!

By 8:30 pm, we were all there, in the middle of the street, waiting for the fireworks with a treat in our hands. Honestly, we could have found a better location, but we were all tired, and the consensus was to find a place close to the exit where we’d see most of the show. I was hoping for something similar to what we saw at Disneyland three years ago, where the entire Main Street was part of the show, but it wasn’t. It was still great, but maybe not as spectacular, or as magical. I am wondering if the fact that the boys were not that into it played a part into how much I enjoyed the show, who knows.

I still cried almost the entire time. No surprise there! And at the very end, I felt like I was 10 again, watching Tinker Bell fly down from the castle. I’m not crying; you’re crying!!!

Leaving the castle was emotionally draining. As soon as the last firework blasted, Logan became a mess, crying because we were saying goodbye to the castle. At the same time, I was crying thinking of my kids growing up, and that I will soon have to say goodbye to their magical spirit, and that once it happens, things will never be the same. I mean, I know we’ll be back, but my babies are growing up and I know we will never re-live this trip, or any of our previous Disney trips. And that is the hardest part for me to accept right now. Maybe that’s why I take so many pictures and videos, trying to capture every little thing, moment or feeling.

So many things I didn’t get to do at Magic Kingdom. The purple wall, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger ride, eat a corndog, get the perfect picture in front of the castle and visit the princesses. But still, I have to say that this was a pretty near perfect day in one of the most magical place on earth. Thank you Magic Kingdom for letting me believe and live through all of your fairy-tales and enchanted stories, even at 38 years old. Hope you’ll bring the same joy to my sons as they grow up.

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disney’s hollywood studios


So we just came back from our March-break Disney trip, and since I got way too much things to say, too many pictures to show, and way too much excitement for only one blog post, I’ve decided to do multiple ones, like one for each themed park! For those of you who won’t have the patience to read all of the posts, at least look at the pictures I’m going to share, as I’m sure you’ll see the magic through them all; and if I had to summarize our trip, I guess I could do it with something like ‘’We had, as expected, such a magical time, as we rode our favorite rides, Dumbo, Star Wars, It’s a small world, Peter Pan, Nemo and Toy’s Mania, we ate way too many Mickey Bars and too much popcorn, screamed from the top of our lungs in Tower of Terror, Slinky Dog and Expedition Everest, watched some beautiful parades, shows and fireworks, and even had the chance to hug and kiss Mickey and Minnie dressed in their special 90th Birthday outfit’’, but there’s so much more to it. So for everyone who wants to hear all about it, here’s the part 1 of the longer version of our Magical 2019 Disney World family trip.

So this all started a long long time ago, like probably 35 years ago, when, as a child, I kind of developed a slight obsession with everything Disney. Over the years, this slight obsession became a little more obvious, and now that my boys share this passion with me, I know I can go all out at any time and I’ll always have these two smiling faces beside me, willing to follow me, waiting to see what’s next. Prepping for this trip with them two has been the most pleasant time, and being able to live up to everyone’s expectation was the cherry on top of a fabulous week in Florida.

We left for the airport just before 3am on Friday morning, and beside Liam and Logan, I don’t think anyone else got much sleep! The excitement was at an all-time high, with the messages coming in one after the other in our Disney chat, from like midnight until it was time to leave. We took 3 cars to the airport, arrived early as planned, but then spent way too much time at security, only to board the plane with not even time to grab a coffee. The flight was great, as we were all sitting together, the 12 of us! Yep, 12 of us, which is a small crew compared to our group of 18 from about 5 years ago. We made it to Orlando, got our mega van and SUV we had rented, and then drove away with the windows down while enjoying the warm Florida weather. We left home at about minus 26 Celsius and within a few hours we were enjoying a sunny day and 26 degrees! I’ll take that at any time!

We had a little Target situation to begin with, as I drove our rented SUV to one store while Brian drove the van to another one, about 25 minutes apart… I just want to confirm that I was at the one we had previously agreed on! (NO, I wasn’t!!!). So we all met and did the grocery (at MY Target) and then found our beautiful house in a nice and quiet neighbourhood. Within minutes the rooms had all been figured out and the kids had all jumped in the backyard in-ground pool! What a long day it had been, so while everyone else was swimming, I decided to take a short nap before it was time to head out to the Outback Steakhouse, my father-in-law’s new favorite restaurant.

Although I hadn’t slept much the previous 2 days, I could hardly sleep as I was way too excited to visit Hollywood Studios in the morning. We rushed to the gate and then ran to the new Toy Story Land to ride the Slinky Dog Dash roller-coaster. What a thrill it was!!! I loved it. I was lead to believe that it was a kid’s roller-coaster, but no, it wasn’t… well, let’s just say that it was not one for mine! And maybe too intense for some of the adults as well. My Mom and Brian’s aunt Lulu still hadn’t recovered from the ride hours later while Liam and Logan screamed and cried and hated it the entire way. I actually have a pretty memorable video of Liam from the entire ride that proves it. They hated it but then they both really wanted the Slinky Dog toy, they’re so hard to follow sometimes!

The older kids and some of the adults had some fast-passes for Aerosmith’s Rock N Roller Coaster, so we took a break from the heat and watched the Frozen sing along while they went for their ride. And even though we were all beyond tired of the snow back home, we all got teary eyes when it started to snow at the very end. That’s what the magic of Disney does to you!

After a few more rides, we snacked on our first Mickey Bars and Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches, bought the Toy Story refillable alien popcorn bucket and had some nachos. Nachos and popcorn are meals, right? Well they definitely were that week.

We then walked back to Toy Story Land for Toy Story Mania! My fav and Liam’s fav at that park for sure! This ride is EVERYTHING! Fun, fast, cute and competitive. Poor Logan, as he got his butt kicked. Nobody’s taking me down! We would have ridden this ride 100 times if they had let us… but man the waiting lines were just brutal. That’s what March Break was for us! Long lines, but the best of times.

Finally, one I am not too proud of, and one I probably lost 2 years of my life riding, Tower of Terror. I have no recollection of the moment prior, but all I can think of is that they either tricked me or forced me into it, cause I remember myself saying ‘’no way, I’m not stupid, I’m not doing it’’, but then I was all buckled up in the ride screaming ‘’WTF!!!’’. So they say that a picture is worth a thousand words… well I look at this one, and all it tells me is that this was my first and last time in that ride. And that picture is actually all I can remember from the ride cause I literally kept my eyes shut the entire time!

It was still early in the day, it was sunny and really hot outside, so we decided to go back to the house for a quick swim and nap and then come back to get diner at the park and catch the Fantasmic show. I just love that show. I could watch it over and over. It’s simply one of the best and most beautiful show ever. We were sitting up close, so we got a little wet, which actually minimized the appearance of tears as I was taking it all in, realizing that our first day was almost over and that this week was going to fly by. To be continued…

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15 favorite things to pack for a trip

Are you heading out on vacation for March Break? Well I know I am! I’m sooo ready for our vacation, it’s not even funny anymore. I swear, a week is way worse than a year! We’ve been planning this Disney trip for a long time, I’ve been looking ahead to this for months and months, and it’s now just around the corner and I simply can’t wait any longer…

The boys have been trying every pair of shorts they own… an unfortunately, they outgrew most of them since last summer; and trying to buy a new summer wardrobe during winter is not that simple. So the last few weeks it’s been mostly shopping, shopping and shopping!

One of my favorite thing about going on a trip is the prepping! You know, making sure we have everything, that we’re not forgetting anything, and that we have things organized in a way that our trip will be even more enjoyable. So I’ve rounded up my 15 favorite things to pack up in my suitcase when we’re going on vacation. Whether it’s Disney, a trip to the beach or a weekend getaway, these items will keep you organized, ready for any situations and so damn proud of yourself to have everything you need for that awesome trip.

Liam wearing his cooling towel; he wouldn’t take it off!

Let’s get started!

1-Ziplocs: Yes, I’m starting my list with Ziplocs. I actually rarely leave the house without one in my purse, so, bringing a box with me during a vacation is a must. I pack up all my skin-care product, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, etc. into large Ziplocs, so if something leaks, then I’m covered. The worst thing I could ever imagine when opening up my suitcase would be a major spill on my favorite outfits. I reuse my large Ziplocs every trip, leaving them in my suitcase until our next getaway. The large ones are the best, you can keep some in your backpack and use them for dirty clothes, diapers, or even to keep your fancy camera dry. They’re also great for carrying snacks with you or storing them while you’re on a ride. Or to bring back some Funnel Cake back to the hotel room! I find we waste less food this way when we’re in the parks or at the beach. Ziplocs are ESSENTIAL on vacation. Now you know it!

2-Phone charger: You always need backup. Phones are dying so quickly now and you don’t want to miss out on an important call, or the chance to capture the perfect sunset, or fireworks, or a Mickey Mouse hug! Buy a portable charger, keep it fully charge in your bag and no moments will be missed.

3-Fancy camera: I know you’ve got one, so bring it, that’s why you bought it. It’s sooo easy to just use our phones but honestly, there is a difference. If you’re traveling with a group, maybe alternate the person in charge of taking pictures every day, or just let someone else take the pictures once in a while, at least you’ll be in a few of them!

A stroller ride in the Boston Common.

4-Stroller: So we’re on the verge of leaving for Orlando with our 8 and 6 years old and we ARE bringing 2 strollers. Kids are kids and travelling is hard. A meltdown and so easily avoided if they don’t have to walk when they are tired or too hot. We did California and Vegas with like 45 degrees Celsius heat about 2 years ago and we didn’t get ONE complaint. If you’re doing a theme park, wrap a ribbon or scarf to easily spot your ride. You can even leave it near a ride and pick it up later when you need it. Renting a stroller is expensive, so bring yours or borrow one, because you will need it. Also, you get from point A to B much faster when you’re not waiting for their little legs to catch up!

5-Cooling towel: Going somewhere hot? Well then this is a must! Wet the towel, ring out the water and feel the cooling effect immediately. Great for everyone but especially kids. The coolness will sooth and refresh them or yourself! You may buy these are the pharmacy or Amazon.

6-Shoe Rack: So this one I stole from my friend Vero. You know these plastic shoe racks from the Dollar Store? Buy one, place on the back of the bathroom door in your hotel and place all your personal products. Hair brushes, lotion, toothpaste and brush, your jewelry, etc. The counters are never big enough for all the stuff you bring, so this way, all your stuff is at the same place and in order. I don’t like when housekeeping touches my stuff when cleaning, so this way, she doesn’t have too. Leave in your suitcase once you’re done until your next adventure!

7-Hand sanitizer: OMG this one hurt just writing about it! The worst thing about going to a trip to Disney? The touching of EVERYTHING! Ropes, hands, fences, and the oh-shit bar in the rides… YARK!!! I probably go through a small bottle of Thieves hand sanitizer a day. My boys are already well trained in the hand washing department but a day in the park is no normal day. I can already hear the germs! So yea, buy the sanitizer and shower everyone with it every 20 minutes!

8-Muslin blanket: I don’t care how old your kids are, if they’re tired or irritated, then need a blanket. I love the Aden & Anais muslin blanket. Light and airy, perfect for warm days and cooler night. Can be used to shield the sun at the beach or during nap in the stroller. If nobody wants it, used it as a cover for your bum while you’re waiting for the parade! Roll it up in the bottom of your backpack and it will be there just in case.

9-Water bottles: Don’t bring your fancy one. You’ll be too sad if you forget it somewhere. A plastic one that can be clipped to the backpack or the stroller is all you need. Fill half of it with water the night before and freeze, then fill the rest in the morning and you’ll have cold water throughout the day. One of the best way to make sure you have the best time on your vacation is by staying hydrated. It’s so easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re busy. I always bring a bottle of Pedialyte for the boys to drink in the morning before we start the day. Keeps them refreshed and at least I know that whatever they drink and eat during the day, they have a base that keeps them well hydrated. I should probably do the same!

10-Sharpie: Yep, a sharpie. It’s totally needed for collecting the autograph of your favorite Disney characters! Can also be used in so many other useful occasions.

11-Sunscreen: Wear it, every day, whether you are skiing or relaxing at the beach. Buy it before you leave, sunscreen at your resort or at the theme parks will be double the price!

12-Poncho: Buy a few ponchos at the Dollar Store and store them in the backpack. You’ll hope you won’t have to use them but you’ll be glad you brought some if it does! And paying 10$ US for a poncho is no fun. We used ours for the Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Was I ever glad I was wearing mine!!! Unfortunately, a few from our gang were not so lucky! Once you’re done with your ride or once the sun is back, you fold them back up and place them in one of your large Ziplocs you brought.

Logan; always up for a snack!

13-Snacks: You want to keep your kids happy? Keep them full with treats!!! Kidding. With healthy snacks of course. What’s worse than having to deal with a meltdown because someone is hungry? Probably dealing with ME when I’m hungry!!! Bring dry snacks and fruits for when waiting in lines or just walking around. Plus, you can’t ONLY eat junk, so having a few veggies or fruits handy is perfect for the rumbling tummies.

14-Games: What to do for long flights, long waiting lines or long stretches of time when you need the kids to be entertained? GAMES. Uno, Sushi Go and Bingo are just a few of our favorites. Bring out a card games at the restaurant while you’re waiting for your pizza or while waiting to board the plane. Cross-words, books and tablets are great for quiet time, so load up new games on the iPad and buy a few books at the Dollar Store. I’ve found some fun and free Disney themed bingo cards on Pinterest and printed them. We’ll be taking these out and playing while waiting in line. Bring out the sharpies to cross off the ones you get. No mess, no tiny pieces and a Mickey Bar for the winner!

15- Anti Chafe Balm: This last one is not super glamorous but it works and it’s a MUST! I bought mine at the running store and I’ve been using it when it’s super-hot outside or when I know I’ll be walking during a long period of time. Spread a layer between your thighs and underneath your arms and you’ll see. I’m telling you, this will make your Disney adventure truly MAGICAL!

So there you have it, my list of things you absolutely must bring on your next trip! Do you plan on getting away soon? I hope you do. But if you don’t, no worries, just start thinking about what could be next, as this is almost as excited as doing it. I’m always on the lookout for our next adventure. It’s sooo much fun to decide where to go next, to plan ahead, to travel, to explore new places and see new things. Well, planning is all done here, next will be to wake up at 3 am in a few days and go catch our flight. Happy March Break my friends!

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a weekend in vegas

Well, nobody will call us party poopers, that’s for sure; we even flew to Vegas just to prove it! Our friends Vero and Mat were spending 10 days on the west coast and in Las Vegas, and for over a year now, we had talked about the possibility of meeting them in Vegas for the weekend at the end of their trip. Of course we wanted to, we’re both Vegas obsessed. But after we had booked a family trip to Disney for March 2019, the Vegas prices for the October long weekend started to go up, which means our hopes for an incredibly fun and crazy weekend in Vegas seemed to fade away as the days went by. BUT, never say never! While I was taking the boys Halloween pictures at the pumpkin patch, Brian booked the trip, on his phone, without even telling me. Then on our way back home, he told me to call my mom and tell her she was babysitting next weekend, cause we were going to Vegas!

 So with less than 5 days left to schedule everything with the boys, pack our suitcases and get ready, we were beyond anxious. By Wednesday night, we still hadn’t told our friends, and that’s when Brian had the crazy idea to film us “à la Love Actually” with sign cards telling them we were going to Vegas. It was so funny, both of us in the doorway holding our cards, with Liam filming and Logan laughing at our acting skills… I wouldn’t want anyone to see this, like NEVER! Yet, we still sent it to our friends and then immediately started to get flooded with boomerang videos of their excitement. It’s was simply HILARIOUS!!!

Came Friday, we drove the boys to my Mom, said our goodbyes, and then came back home for the shortest nap, before catching our flight early in the morning. Wish we had a direct flight, but 8 hours later, around lunch time (Vegas time), we finally made it to the Strip. We had booked last minute, with not too many hotel options available… so we ended up staying at the Bally’s, and I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised from the moment we walked into our room. It was super big, like it could have easily fit 2 king size beds with room to spare, it was pretty, cozy, recently renovated and located right in the middle of the strip. Oh, and we got a free room upgrade on the top floor with a really nice view! I like to think we got this cause they know I’m a famous blogger, right!?! We actually loved our experience at the Bally’s and will definitely consider staying there again in the future! They are currently renovating parts of the casino and I can’t wait to see what it will look like next time we’re in town.

So we met with Vero and Mat in the Bally’s casino and then made our way to the Linq’s Promenade for lunch and Barley & Flour. We had some delicious pizzas as well as a few drinks on a terrace before getting on our gambling journey! Over our three days in Vegas, I’d say we probably tried every type of slots machines there is, one after the others, it’s was just incredible. Of course our favs are still BUFFALO, Hangover and Sex and the City, where we actually won a few bonus rounds! The only one who didn’t win was Mat. He has the worst luck I’ve ever seen. Poor him. While Brian was raking it, he kept on losing some more, but he was a good sport about it and kept on cheering for us! Next time it will be your turn, Mat, I can feel it!

We visited the Caesar’s and the Mirage, then went back to our rooms to change and met at Mon Ami Gaby for a late diner. We got a great table on the patio, where we could watch the Fountains of Bellagio. Our server was so nice, he even spoke to us in French for most of the night after he had heard Brian’s accent. Everything about our steak dinner was perfect, but by the time we were done, it was close to midnight (3:00 am our time), and I was starting to feel the time-zone difference. So we played in the casino a little and then called it a night.

Now, here’s the tricky part about your first night in Vegas (especially if you’re from our time-zone)… well, you usually go to bed very late because you want to party as much as you can, but then you wake up very early because of your internal clock! Which sucks, especially with no kids around and pitched dark blinds. So with only a few hours of sleep, we met our friends at Giada’s restaurant at the Cromwell for a late breakfast. We had brunch there 2 years ago when we travelled to Vegas for my Mom and Frank’s wedding, and I really wanted to go back, as it’s such a gorgeous and awesome restaurant. We got another great table overlooking the strip, and some of the best looking plates you will find. Food was to die for and the best part, we got a 5$ brownie. But, wait for it, as it’s a way better story than it sounds… When we entered the restaurant, we saw a gorgeous trolley, full of beautiful glass canisters and cake stands. Full of different kinds of brownies, sauces, toppings, ice creams and candies. We all wanted one so badly, and I was certain that I had seen somewhere that it was only 5$. So even if we were super full after finishing our meal, I was able to convince them, and we decided to get one for the 4 of us. So they made us fill out a form with all of our preferences and selections. We probably asked the server about 10 times if someone was really going to bring the trolley to our table. And they did! So the trolley arrived, I was taking pictures, Brian videos, and Vero some boomerangs (while Mat wanted to get away from our crazy table)!!! Right after the waiter left, they all agreed that I had to be wrong about the price and that it had to be at least 20$, or even much more… but it was so worth it, whatever the price it was going to be! Then we got our bill, and guess what… to our surprise (and by then to my surprise), I was right!!! Let’s just say it was the best (and most delicious) 5$ ever we ever spent in Las Vegas! Finally, before we left, we took the almost-necessary picture in the famous Giada’s photo booth… well, it may have taken us 20 shots before we could have a decent one, but who cares, we were having a blast and had nothing else planned for the day. 

Yeah, absolutely no plans!  We had an awesome day in Vegas, walking around, having drinks, casino hoping, gambling here and there, checking out stores and just spending times together. We took a small break (from like doing nothing) and stopped at a Mexican cantina for margaritas and nachos. YUM!

Then, we went back to win some more money at the Mirage… let’s just say that the Mirage casino is REALLY good to us. We don’t gamble a lot, but we managed to win a few hundred dollars there. So far it was such a great Day-2 in Vegas! 

After that, we went back to our hotel for a quick outfit change, as we had some reservations at Lago by Julian Serrano at the Bellagio. And our great day became an even better one when we got ourselves a table on the terrace, right on the water, literally behind the Fountains of Bellagio. It was Magical. Every 15 minutes, the music from the restaurant would be dimmed down and the music from the fountain show would surround us. We had the best seats in the house and we knew it. It was simply breathtaking. Our server was incredible and also super funny. The table of twelve next to us had ordered 4 huge tomahawk steaks for the group, so when they saw that, Brian and Mat had to ask the waiter where they could find it on the menu. The waiter responded it was usually available only for special order, but that he could make an exception for us… for a mere 350$ each! WHAT???? No thank you! I’m surprised I didn’t die laughing right there from seeing the deception in Brian’s face. But I’m pretty sure the tomahawk wouldn’t have topped the incredibly delicious food we’ve ordered and shared that night: Burrata cheese with red peppers and garlic; Bruschetta Pomodoro; Almond-basil pesto linguini; Braised duck and cheese polenta; and a bone-in rib-eye steak. It will forever be one of the best and most amazing dinner experience I have ever had in my life. It was priceless. They could charge double the price for these tables and I would still ask to sit there. Wish I was there right now!

So, once diner was over, Brian, Mat and Vero had no more wine left, and the four of us started to discuss whether they were having more wine there while enjoying the fountains, or if we were going somewhere else. That’s when Brian decided to walk over to the other table, the one who had the expensive tomahawk steaks (and probably expensive wine), to steal two full left-over wine glasses. I would usually be sooo mad at him for doing something like this, but this time, I couldn’t even say a word as Vero and I were dying laughing as he was walking back toward us with the two glasses in his hands and a huge smile in his face! That’s when the server came out, laughing as well, telling him that left-over wine at 500$ a bottle was usually reserved for the kitchen staff! Vero and I were still laughing out loud, and I was getting very close from peeing my pants! Yeah, part of me was ashamed, but the other part was like, YOLO! 

After diner, we went to the Cosmo hotel, then to Planet Hollywood, where Brian and Mat got a 3 for one… 20$ for two margaritas and a free bull ride. I will spare you the video, but let say Mat was smart enough to drink his margarita while Brian did the ride. The girl right before him was like a pro and lasted a whole song while he lasted about 20 seconds and hurt himself while doing it. What. An. Idiot. But I love him!

After that, we walked around the strip, had more margaritas, played some more casinos, and then the time came where we had to say goodbye to our friends, as they were catching a flight back home early in the morning. Our time together was so short, wish we had at least another day with them, but we had sooo much fun, and made so much memories, and are so happy we decided, last minute, to meet with them in Vegas for the weekend. A weekend I will remember forever! 

On Monday morning, it was super nice outside, so we decided to walk to the MGM Park. Once we made it there, we decided to rent a car, not because we were lazy and didn’t wanted to walk back to the hotel, but because I wanted to scratch a few things of my to-do list. First off, Bad Owl Coffee Shop for a late breakfast. I had just recently discovered this Harry Potter inspired coffee house on Instagram and I reallllly wanted to go. And I was not disappointed! Cozy, dark, gloomy but inviting, full of memorabilia, multiple quotes on tables and walls, and it seemed like everywhere you’d looked, you could find a little something you had missed earlier. Oh, and a menu worthy of the Great Hall. As if it was faith, I had the Alan Rickman table… probably my favorite HP character, although I truly love them all! So we shared the waffles and I had the best Nutella latte ever. Wanted to stay longer, but I also wanted to scratch more off my list. So guess what I had seen on my way there: a Target! Of course I needed a Target stop. And then, after a little shopping spree, we drove to Seven Magic Mountains, which is about 25 minutes away from the Strip. You drive through the desert and then, in the middle of nowhere, you see 7 bright and colourful rock totems. This was sooo AMAZING to see. It truly was magical, and the colors on the pictures are simply amazing. Wish we had stopped 2 years prior with the boys, they would have loved it.

Once we left the desert, we made one last stop at the North Premium Outlets, and then we went back to our hotel to spend the rest of the days just walking around and enjoying the fact that we were in Vegas. As soon as we parked the car at our hotel, I was really hungry and I knew exactly what I wanted to eat! So I scratched off another thing on my list, In-N-Out Burger! Yep! We definitely should have In-N-Out Burger in Canada. I would be the first in line! Brian had the Gordon Ramsay fish and chips with a Guinness in a cup, which he definitely enjoyed! But then, after two days of being really lucky with our gambling, well we started to lose some (most) of our winnings, so Brian decided to gamble a little less and focus on all the margarita places we could find, having a drink here and there, just relaxing, walking around, and enjoying each other. Not sure when was the last time we actually went away just the two of us, but it felt great. We talked about our life, our jobs, the boys, our friends, the future trips we’d like to do, our house and how fun this weekend was. We had thought of going to a super fancy place for dinner, but the time difference was catching up on us, so we decided to not go back to the room and change, and go directly to one of our favorite restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory. We were exhausted, we had walked over 30000 steps, so during dinner I wanted to cry thinking about having to walk back to our hotel. But, as usual, we had such a great time, and once again, our server was super friendly and nice, our food was delicious, hello Bellagio Chicken, plus the to-go Godiva Cheesecake was the bribe I needed to walk back to my room! 

We played a few rounds of Buffalo on the way, then made it to our room, ate some cheesecake, packed-up our stuff and then it was time for bed. Next morning came by too quickly. We drove to the airport and then started the long journey back home. I was sooo anxious to see the boys, but it had to wait in the morning as we arrived back home past 1 am and went directly to bed as I was working a few short hours later! 

What a trip. Vegas, you were amazing to us, once again! Thanks to my Mom and Frank who took care of our boys and made this trip possible and stress free for us. And lastly, Vero and Mat, thanks for letting us tag along your 10th year wedding anniversary trip. This weekend will forever be remembered, from the video we sent you, your boomerangs, the moment I jumped into your arms when I first saw you, Brian’s incredible gambling luck, the 350$ piece of meat and wine stealing, the bull ride, all the margaritas, the ultimate brownie, the Lago diner and our singing performance by the Bellagio Fountains, the long walks, the long talks, and the countless laughs we shared with you guys. We love you so much and can’t wait for the next one! Maybe for OUR 10th year anniversary, next year?

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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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