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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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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bry’s sangria

Heeeello long weekend!  Well you know what? Although I’m off work for the next two months, summer long weekends are still simply the best!!!  So who’s ready to celebrate Canada 150th anniversary?  Got any plans this weekend?  Well if you do, you should definitely add this recipe to your drink diet on Canada Day.  And if you don’t, well don’t worry, any day of the summer months is a perfect day for my sangria.  Well, I should say Bry’s sangria!  It’s one for the books, apparently!  You will be making this every summer weekend, I swear.

It’s great anywhere, as long as it’s served on ice; but it’s definitely better when drank by the beach, in the pool or sitting on the patio!  For myself, I prefer it with a lots of ice and a side of fresh guacamole.

So it all started two years ago while on a road trip to Toronto and the Niagara region.  Can’t remember the restaurant we stopped at, but we stayed awhile ’cause the sangria was sooo good, according to my sister-in-law and Brian.  The waitress was the best and after many pitchers, she wrote down their sangria recipe for us on our bill (which Brian then modified to his taste, obviously adding more booze to it!)…

On any given summer weekend, you can surely find a double pitcher of this, waiting to be served to our guests.  Brian has been working on the recipe for a while, and he now thinks we have a winner.  So, stock up on the ingredients and make this on the next sunny day… hopefully sooner than later!

Bry’s Sangria

What you need:

1 bottle of white wine (we use Bodacious White for the high level of sugar)

4 oz. of Malibu Rum

3 oz. of Triple Sec or Cointreau

2 oz. of your favorite Rum

1 cup of pineapple juice

3 cups of raspberry lemonade

top with sprite

1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar (depending on the amount of sugar in the white wine)

fruits: lemon, lime, orange, raspberry and strawberry

How to:

Slice your fruits and squeeze some of the juice in the pitcher.  Add the sugar with the fruits in the pitcher.  Add all the liqueur and juices.  Stir.  Leave in the fridge for about an hour or two before serving.  Once cooled and ready to be served, add the ice, the sprite and mix well.  Serve over ice with some of the fruits.

Beware, two can EASILY get tipsy with only one pitcher.  So enjoy responsibly and have fun on this special day.  Happy Canada Day all!!!

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sweet caroline and farewell big papi

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Boston is one of our favorite city.  Beautiful skyline, by the dirty water, gorgeous big old houses and vintage buildings, too many things to visit and home of the Red Sox.

I bought our first tickets to our Beloved Ballpark 9 years ago for Brian’s birthday (mistake #1).  We had never went to Fenway Park, or Boston.  We ended up watching 4 games in 3 days… (mistake #2).  Didn’t even had time to visit anything, or just to do anything, but boy did I end up knowing a lot about the Sox.  You know what Drew Barrymore went through in the movie Fever Pitch with her crazy-red-sox-fan-boyfriend doing nothing else than talking about baseball, well that resumes my first weekend in Boston (except I didn’t got hit by a foul ball, thank God).

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Since then, we have been to Boston every other years.  Always with ball games in mind, with never enough time for my ever growing list of things to do, or things to see.

This past weekend was no different.  But at least one thing got crossed of my list, Salem!

It was a last minute road trip with our friends Pat and Mel; and it was one of the best!  The last few days leading to our trip were discouraging, with a shitty weather forecast, as it was supposed to rain non-stop for the entire weekend, but it didn’t, only a few drops on Saturday.  Wouldn’t say gorgeous weather but we had an awesome time nonetheless.

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 We left very early on Friday morning, maybe too early for some of us, making a first stop for coffee at 6 am and then heading to the border.  Vermont is just gorgeous this time of the year, I wanted to stop and take pictures of everything; the mountain, the lakes, the views, everything was just so nice.  Then on our second stop, at the New Hampshire Liquor Store, I let out a very LOUD scream out of nowhere, Pat hit the break, Brian told me WTF as he thought we had ran over someone or something, but no, no one was harmed, it was just a scream of excitement as I’ve just spotted the most perfect, gigantic, orangy 1200 lbs pumpkin in a pick-up truck!!!  I almost jumped out of the running car!  The boys were annoyed by myself a little, but I was just so happy!  So I took a few selfies with this beauty, Pat bought a Cinnabon something bottle of something, Mel some bottles of wine and Brian a nice bottle of Scotch that he was so excited to get for ‘half the price’ he would have paid in Canada he said, but in the end, I think my pumpkin was the most exciting thing at that Liquor Store and so worth my screaming.  For me it was just the best way to start an October road-trip!

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Once we got to Boston, we visited our favorite mall, stores and had a great lunch at Panera.  Spent way too much time in a Sports Memorabilia shop with Pat and Bry, at the official New England sports gallery/store; Brian was like a kid looking at everything and showing me all the David Ortiz signed framed he could find, hoping I’d tell him to get one!  He got one, and I couldn’t care less, but my only request of the day: FIND ME A TARGET!  They did, and they left me there for a while!!!  God I miss that store!  I love you Target.  Then, we made our way to the heart of Boston to eat at one of our favorite restaurant, Maggiano’s.  We found that italian-family-style restaurant on our honeymoon in Vegas, and now, every time we’re in the states, we try to find one.  We shared many appetizers, including my ultimate favorite one, the Mozzarella Marinara, all that melted cheese, it’s to die for!  Great pasta dishes and perfect crème brulée!

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 On Saturday we visited Salem, which in itself is worthy of its own post!  So stay tuned Witches!!!

 On Sunday morning we packed all our stuff and headed to a place that is very dear to my husband, Fenway Park… America’s Most Beloved Ballpark and Home of the Boston Red Sox!  I’m not a sports fan, but there’s something about this place that melts your heart and makes you want to cheer and scream for the Red Sox.

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Brian’s favorite player, David Ortiz, is retiring at the end of the season, and the Red Sox were hosting a weekend long party honoring him.  Always at full capacity, Fenway was filled two hours before the first pitch with first timers, families, friends, loyal fan, and Red Sox Nation, ready to give a proper Farewell to their one and only Big Papi.  It was an emotional day at Fenway, celebrating one of the best player of our generation and one of the greatest Red Sox of all time (as he told me to say in my Blog).  I have to say that the ceremony was very touching, even for me.  Grown man crying, then smiling, then crying, aka Brian, people chanting his name, and everybody just having a great time.

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So Bry had a few beers, we had sausages and Fenway Franks, pretzels and some crazy pulled pork fries.  We sang take me out to the ball game and Sweet Caroline, my favorite one, always watching while we’re singing if we’ll appear on the big screen (it happened once and I have a picture to show it).  We were just so happy to be there, for his last game, all of us.  Thanks for all the memories Papi!

Then, after they lost, we left the stadium, full and ready for a long long drive back home!

Oh Fenway, we will miss you, but we will be back!  Boston you’re my home.

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