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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strawberry jam forever

It’s official, we’re on vacation.  And what did I do on my first day of vacation?  Wake up super early and went strawberry picking.  Dragged the boys, as I thought they would like it, but within 5 minutes they were already bored.  Turns out they really like jam but not as much working for it and picking up berries.

So I woke one minute before my usual 6:10 am alarm.  Way to go.  Lounged with the boys and then got ready to visit Les Jardins Lamoureux in Hawkesbury.  Jojo, Lulu and my Mom tagged along.  Within one hour we had 7 huge baskets filled to the brim.  It was a gorgeous morning, perfect weather, but boy, picking strawberries is not easy!  I will now have much more appreciation for the berries that I will buy at the store!

Logan had a meltdown.  He picked about 11 berries before he called it quit.  So I decided to fill his basket for him, but as soon as I started putting some in the basket, he started balling.  You can’t touch his food; I should have known better!  Well, nothing like a 4 years old meltdown in the middle of a strawberry field.  He kept on saying ‘I only want 11’.  Oh well, too bad.  I filled the rest of it!

We came back home and took our first summer vacation nap.  Two glorious hours of sleep and then waking up to the smell of strawberries in the entire house.  Heaven.

I think we made 5 batches of jam in a 12 hour period.  The boys didn’t liked the strawberry picking, but making the jam, they loved it… with all the licking and the sticky fingers and the happy faces.

I used a Club House envelop.  The recipe is on the packets but I’m sharing anyway!

No Cook Strawberry Freezer Jam

What you need:

4 cups of strawberries

1 1/2 cups of sugar

Club House Freezer Jam packet

Glass jars

How to:

Wash jars.  Chop the strawberries and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar and mix.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Even though they say not to, I blended the berries.  I’m not a fan of chunky jam.  So at this point, I used a hand held mixer and blended the berries.  Sprinkle the gelling powder and mix well for 3 minutes.  Let stand for 5.  Stir again before pouring in the jars.  Seal tight.  Store in fridge for up to 6 weeks or in the freezer for a year.

So now I think we have more jam than what we’d probably be able to eat over the next 3 years… so if you’re in a jam, drop by our place and pick up a jar!

I know what’s for lunch today: Strawberry sandwiches.  Our fav!  Now, if only the warm weather would cooperate it would actually feel like a vacation and I could enjoy some freshly picked strawberry outside by the pool.

Have an awesome week mylemondroplife followers!

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christmas eve eve

Excitement is in the air, stores are full and we are ready to party!  It’s Christmas Eve eve and our household could not be more excited about the next couple of days!

We got our Christmas cards done in time, the cake is ready, all the presents are wrapped up and we are listening non-stop to Christmas music!

The boys got to go to Brian’s workplace this morning while I slept in, tidy up the place and went for some last minute errands.  Once we all got back home, it was time to decorate our store bought gingerbread cookies (no time for the real deal this year)… but so what… as long as we got sugar and candies, right?  And boy we did!  I think that more icing sugar went into the boys than on the cookies!  I gave them little paintbrushes for helping spread the icing… by then end, they were painting themselves… fail!

I found some of the cutest Rudolph’s gingerbread at Bulk Barn… and I had high hopes for these pretty cookies… but no, it seems like we have no future in cookie decorating!  At least they’re delicious!

So tonight for Christmas Eve eve, we are staying in, watching Home Alone and Elf for probably the 500 times this month (but for the last time this Holiday season, I swear), while finding one last thing for our Elf Willy to do before he leaves for the North Pole tomorrow, until next December.

Wishing you all a great Christmas week, with all the food, the drinks and the signing that makes the Holidays so special.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is signing loud for all to hear

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