Summer Trip to Montreal

Our trip to Montreal was filled with adventures. I also Vlogged it here on my YouTube channel: Summer 2018 Montreal

Last week I blogged on how we made it work traveling with three little ones, so this week I just want to share a few pictures and details from the trip.

So, the main reason we went there was for my Nephew’s wedding!

We decided to make it a family trip and bring the entire family.

We spent about a week there, where we stayed at my brother-in-law’s home in Montreal (Pierrefond).

Montreal is very accessible without a car but we rented a car because it was much easier to get around with three kids. I surprisingly did a lot of driving and did not find it too intimidating driving there at all. I even drove all the way to St.Hyolite, which is about an hour from Pierrefond.

 

There, I got to see my nephew and niece, who I hadn’t seen in seven years!

The first few days, I didn’t go out that much because hubby didn’t join us until a few days later. The day I went to pick up hubby from the airport, I finally drove around Montreal and headed to Little Italy for a nice cup of espresso at Cafe Olympico.

 

A few days later we checked out a few other touristy spots such as Parc fontaine..

We ate poutine at la Banquaise…

I hiked Mont Royal with some family/friends…

 

And the day before we left, we all went to Le Vieux-Port.

 

We had such a good time with family. The great thing is that my hubby was able to see his brother and his family and I was able to see my nephews and niece!

The memories we make with our family is everything.

Tips on Traveling with Small Children

It feels so great to blog again! I took a long break but I am back.

This summer (last week), I traveled ALONE one way internationally with my 3 kiddos who are all under the age of 5. I had one lap infant and the two toddlers had their owns seats. My hubby joined us midway through the trip, so going back home was better.

I will share a few tips on what/how I did it.

1. Ziploc bags are everything! It helps you stay organized.

I had one Ziploc bag for all the chargers (phones, tablets, kindle, booklight, fitbit) !

I had another one for the day of travel and in flight snacks.

And I had one more for all the liquids: soap, lotion, hand sanitizer, and vaseline.

2. I made sure we traveled on an overnight flight. From Phoenix there are no direct flights to Montreal unfortunately, so I made sure to choose one that made more sense since I would be on my own. So our first flight was about 4 hours and all kids slept right through it. I made sure I changed their diapers right before the flight!

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By the way,  I get this question often, I got this cute laptop bag for my MacBookPro on Amazon HERE!

My 4-year- old is potty trained but best believe he wore a pull up for the flights! I am so glad someone gave me that tip right before.

3. Baby girl had a bottle as soon as we got on the plane so that she would easily fall asleep.

4. By the way, if you travel with kids you automatically qualify for pre-boarding! All this travel I’ve done in the past, and I just realized that this time around. Ha!

5. As far as the quantity of luggage. I had two checked suitcases and 3 carseats. As carry-ons, the boys had their backpacks with change clothes, snacks, underwear or pullups, and their pillows inside.

In my backpack, I had my own stuff and baby’s clothes, diapers, and wipes. I also had my laptop case and pushed a double stroller.

6. This brings me to my next point, a stroller or baby carrier is a must! My 4-year-old mostly walked but at one point he was sleepy so I put him in the stroller with my 2-year old and baby girl in the carrier/sling. That didn’t last long though. Lol.

Traveling with three, it was easier for my oldest to walk and have the two little ones in the double stroller. Everyone is different. Just my preference.

One thing I wouldn’t do next time is bring our carseats. We rented a car so we could’ve just rented one with carseats!

When we arrived to Canada, I had an employee help me carry them to the other side.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was grateful that someone offerred to help me fold the stroller before we got on the plane because I was struggling.

8. Don’t trust strangers alone with your kids. If you gotta go to the bathroom before the flight, take all kids with you! And in the flight, ask a flight attendant for help.

Overall flying into Canada was really not bad because they slept the whole time. Coming back, even though hubby was there to help, was more stressful. I think because it was in the afternoon and the kids were awake, cranky, hungry blah blah blah!

Anyway, thanks for reading. Next, I will share details of our trip to Montreal!

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Our Trip To Disneyland and Orange County

My husband had a work conference in Anaheim and since it is not too far, we thought it would be nice if we all went. Since his conference would only be two days (Wed and Thursday), we would have Tuesday and Friday to enjoy California! Well, the main reason why I wanted all of us to go is mainly because it was the final week of the semester, which is usually hectic for me. And since I knew I wouldn’t have anyone to help me with the kids, there was no way I would make it out that week without losing my mind if hubby was not around.  I knew at least that if we were all with him (Arizona or Cali), I could always escape to work after his conference.

Anyway, so on Tuesday morning we headed out to the airport, late and all on a rainy day. And of course we missed our flight, but it’s okay because we got on the next flight.

Once in Orange County, we had lost so much time because we originally planned on going to Disneyland all day. We decided to go still–even if for 4, 5 hours.  Going to Disneyland on a Tuesday is much cheaper than Friday, Sat, and Sunday, by the way.  Our kids got in free because they are still under 3. Yay!

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What most people do is that they get a hotel within walking distance. We happened to be within walking distance of Disney because of my husband’s work conference was at the Hilton, and I’m glad it happened that way!

Anyway, so most people stay in that area so that they can go to Disneyland in the morning as soon as the doors are open, take a break between noon and 3pm, and then go back all the way until the parade. 

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So anyway, the entire time on our way to Orange County, we prepared our oldest and told him he was going to see Mickey Mouse. We assumed that by the time he actually saw him, he would be scared, like most kids. But we were wrong!

He was excited, surprised, and really happy to be at Disneyland!

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We had a great time, but that first day got really really chilly in the evening. And of course, that night I was too tired to work so we all called it a night!

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The next day my husband went off to the 2nd floor of the hotel for his work conference, and I was with the kids, ready for more adventure so we went to Disneyland Downtown. By the way, Disneyland Downtown is sort of a shopping center with stores, restaurants, and entertainment, and it is COMPLETELY FREE! You get there through the main entrance of Disneyland.

That evening, we had a nice dinner and I had a nice glass of margarita. Wrong move. I was  now ready for bed after that drink. BUT… I had no choice. I had to work.  I am not much of a drinker. The last drink I had was at least last year in August. I know this because that is also the day I had my first hangover. I had one drink on an empty stomach. I know…rookie mistake! So, anyway …I had a dilemma. I needed my espresso in order to stay awake but the closest Starbucks had already closed for the night. I decided to go downstairs to the bar, and I was glad I did so because the bartender also had an espresso machine and hooked me up with a triple shot latte.

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The next day was very similar so I will not bore you with the same details, but on Friday, oh boy Friday! It was beautiful. I was done with work and had submitted all grades, so I was ready for some beach time before heading back to Phoenix.  We were all ready for the beach! Given that it was our first time in Orange County, we wanted to check out only one of the best beaches there. So, we decided on Laguna Beach! The drive there was about 30 minutes from the hotel, and we got to realize that Orange County seems more livable than L.A.

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The beach was peaceful, beautiful, and simply serene. I don’t have much more to say so I will simply let you all enjoy the pictures!

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Our Trip To Los Angeles and the Real Daytime

It was a spur of the moment decision. I won tickets to a live taping of my favorite talk-show, The Real Daytime and my hubby saw how excited I was so he said he’ll make it happen for me.

I’m a sucka fo TV. Especially dramas and comedy TV shows. In my other life, I would be a tv writer somewhere…lol.  So the opportunity to visit Warner Bros was exciting.

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May I add that this was our first trip without the kiddos! Their wonderful grandmother was able to stay with them.

Once we arrived in LA, the first area we were in was North Hollywood, and we were not impressed.  This is Hollywood? Let’s just say it’s strictly businesses and then some not so pretty sight seeing in these streets…we only had one hour before we had to be at Warner Bros, so we looked for the closest spots for lunch. I love French food and patisserie, so we found  a cute French café called Lou- The French on the Block and decided to give it try.

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Upon entering, we were a bit skeptical and almost went somewhere else until the owners greeted us and realized they were  French !

We started speaking French and talking about our backgrounds  etc. As they say, it is a small world because one of the owners turned out to be from the same city I grew in: Sarcelles !

They were really friendly and we talked with the pastry chef for a good 15 minutes about the cultural differences in LA and Europe. Intriguing conversation.

May I add that the croissants were to die for.

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We proceeded to Warner Bros  for the taping of The Real. What we didn’t know was that we would be waiting outside for almost two hours before actually getting into the studio. We took pictures with a banner of The  Real, stood in line for security check-in and we signed waivers.

After a long walk through Warner Bros ‘lot, we finally entered the studio through a back door (backstage).

The set was already in place and their staff took us to our seats. Music blasting. Happy people. Smiling fans.  There was a woman named Bridget  who was some sort of hype-man for the audience to keep us in good spirits.  She encouraged people to dance and show off their moves to receive  prizes such as t-shirts, coffee mugs and etc. Some people took it a bit too far with their dancing-almost embarrassing. But it was entertaining.

Anyway,  finally the stage manager explained to us when to stand up and cheer + clap.  The show was about to start.

Fast forward,  it was interesting to see how everything takes place…live. Sometimes the hosts  messed up and we had to start over. Overall,  it was funny and a great experience. One thing I noticed is how the hosts, Adrienne Houghton,  Tamera Mowry, Loni Love, and Jeannie Mai all seemed genuine , real , and honest. You can sense that they are really friends.  Jeanie’s husband, Freddie was part of one segment . They also all seem smaller than they appear on TV.

Oh and at one point,  Israel Houghton showed up out of nowhere and he was just standing on the side, with security and other members of the production crew. It was kind of cool seeing him in person!

Once the taping was over, we headed to downtown for dinner at a place called Brick. It is mixture of African, Spanish, and American food. The food was great!

The next day, morning arises and here we are at Blue Jam Café in West  Hollywood. Very good breakfast!

My cappuccino was bold, strong, and very good but way too much whip for my  liking.

As we were leaving the cafe, I saw a French Patisserie right across the street (Melrose) called La Choquette, and of course, I had to check it out! They were also French from France, and the croissants-to die for.

With a full stomach, we proceeded to Hollywood Walk of Fame….

 

And then off to Hollywood Hills . There are lots of confusing addresses to get there but the best one we found was by typing the address of Hollywood Dog Park off Canyon Lake.

 

Then we absolutely had to drive through Beverly Hills.  Fancy cars and fancy people everywhere.

We finished our afternoon by driving all the way to Malibu. We passed through Santa Monica but did not stop there. Not enough time. I wish we knew how bad the traffic would be but we did not realize what we’d gotten ourselves into. Getting to Malibu was a headache and getting out of Malibu back towards LA to get out of LA was even worse. It took us about four (4) hours instead of 45 minutes. I will never complain about Phoenix traffic ever again after this.Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

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I guess it was all worth it because I captured some lovely photographs of Malibu beach  during sunset.  Mind you, while we were in the car–stuck in traffic!

Halfway though,  we stopped in downtown. I needed some coffee. Lol. I searched for the nearest coffee shop  (not Starbucks) I mean REAL AUTHENTIC Coffee shop and there was one less than a mile away. It turned out to be one of the best ones in LA. They roast their coffee right in front of you an all. Really cool.  See for yourself . It is called Stumptown Coffee.

To wrap it up, LA was fun to experience.

We didn’t visit everything because it was a short trip mostly for the Live taping but I’m glad we got to see Hollywood  and etc.  I definitely want to visit again. As much as I would love a dream job as a TV writer, LA is fun to visit, but not to live in.

I’ll keep my writing instructor  job for now. Hehe!

 

Our December Trip to San Francisco

So, this post is extremely overdue! Better late than never, right?

I’m writing about our trip to SF (San Francisco) in December. It was quite interesting. Definitely not as we planned or imagined it would be. I would not suggest visiting SF in December if you have kids with you or if you’re pregnant. Quite windy and rainy. And oh…the never ending hills.

We stayed in a nice hotel in the neighborhood called “Nob Hill”. It was in walking distance to China Town and a lot of other places. We did not rent a car because we wanted to have the San Francisco tourist experience. Next time, we will definitely rent a car though.

Many people rave about the food in SF. About how this wonderful city has the best food ever. So… we had HIGH eexpectations. Unfortunately, we were highly disappointed. San Diego is much better when it comes to food.

And yes, we tried different types of restaurants–but they were all disappointing. Either I was disappointed or my husband was. I did have a good Cafe Mocha once, but that was about it. We were really sad about the food because we actually had a lot of money to spend on food, so we looked forward to it with me being the “foodie” that I am.

Also, it rained for 3 days out of the 6 days that we were there. I know that no one can possibly control the weather but it ahh, what can I say?  We ended up stuck in the hotel for two days in a row because our son was getting sick. 

 

Best part about the trip was seeing the Painted Ladies.

 

IMG_20151219_153350-1024x1024Other than that, it is a beautiful city to visit.

Would I visit again? Ummm maybe. but it is not a “MUST VISIT AGAIN KINDA TRIP”. At least in my opinion.

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Our Trip to San Diego!

Once a year, my husband and I go to San Diego. This year was the first time we went with an additional person, our son. I must say that it was even more fun.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Mission Valley. The hotel itself was beautiful, with a Hawaiian style theme. Our room had a balcony with a nice view!

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We started off with spending an afternoon at LaJolla Cove Beach.

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Bébéchou was scared of getting inside the water. It got better on the second day.

Then we walked  around LaJolla,  and had dinned at Karl Strauss, and it was simply delicieux.

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On July 4th, we had breakfast at The Mission Cafe.

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…and proceeded to spend the afternoon at Coronado Beach in Coronado. We tried going to the Mission Bay area, but it was impossible to get through anywhere. I can’t believe parking spots costed $100!

 



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On Sunday, we went back to the Mission for Breakfast, but it was too crowded, so we ordered take out and headed back to the Valley of the Sun. 

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Our Trip to Seattle!

Okay, this post is about two weeks overdue. The Hubz and I have always wanted to visit Seattle, WA. As you all know Seattle is home to Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft and many other big companies.

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We were always fascinated with the idea of possibly living there at some point. Before I go on, let me say that it did not RAIN once for the four days that I was in Seattle. Some may call it luck, but anyway…The first thing I noticed and liked right off the bat about Seattle was how nice people were and the culture diversity I saw in downtown! From the moment we arrived, every person was extremely nice to us everywhere.  I have a nice example from the picture below. We were at a French Cafe called Le Panier.

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We were eating our food, minding our own business when I noticed a lady who kept glancing over at us, smiling.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but you are such a beautiful family. May I take a picture of you for you, please?” She asked, almost begging.

Mind me, we were not taking any pictures. In the past I’ve had nice people ask to take our picture when we’d be struggling to take the perfect selfie or taking turns taking pictures of each other, but this was not the case. First, we found it a bit odd, but agreed awkwardly anyway!

wpid-2015-02-14-02.22.43-1.jpg.jpegMy husband kept joking that she was going to steal my phone! Anyway, I don’t know what it is but people in Seattle were amazed by our little family. Everywhere we went, people played with our gorgeous son or complimented on our family.  Le Panier was pretty good. We both had the jambon/frommage sandwich with chocolate and almond croissants.

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I also had one of the best café latte ever as you can see.

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This was on Valentine’s day, so it was quite a busy day!

Anyway, this French restaurant is located at “Pike Place” , which is a designated tourist area with lots of attractions (in downtown).

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What we did not like about Seattle was that the hours of operation of restaurants is quit weird compared to Phoenix. Most restaurants in the downtown area close between lunch and dinner .This was very confusing for us. Also, some restaurants near Pike Place run out of food after a certain time. We went back to this area a few days later at around 5pm, and were disappointed that we spent $25 for parking, because it turned out that three restaurants that we tried to dine in “ran out of food.”

How do you run out of food? I still can’t wrap my head around that. We were so pissed. We ended up eating at good ol’ Red Lobster close to our hotel.

I did get a chance to see the First Starbucks, but the line was always way too long. I guess I was not that determined to get coffee at the World’s First Starbucks like everyone else in line.

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The cool thing that happened there was that someone proposed to his girlfriend from the Space Needle, but the sign that read” Will You Marry Me” was at Kerry Park. Somehow from the top of the space needle, she was able to look down at Kerry Park and see this:

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…And came to the conclusion that although Seattle is a nice city, it is not for us. We don’t see ourselves living there, but it was definitely nice to visit! The weather was too depressing. Although, it did not rain, it was just too grey and cold.  The main reason why we wouldn’t live there is simply because we were just not impressed and it was not what we imagined.

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The Big Apple Trip I Never Wrote About

So,  I never had the chance to blog about my experience in NYC last year. I’ve always been fascinated with the city life since I was born in Paris and grew up there for some time, so I’ve always wanted to visit NYC. I never really had the chance before until last year. It was my graduation from grad school and my birthday weekend all at once. I told my husband that all I wanted was to go to New York city for that weekend since we would be in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA, two hours from NYC ( I got my CW degree from a low-residency program there).

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Anyway, the drive from Scranton to NYC was not bad at all. I was pretty much filled with excitement. As we entered NYC, I got even more excited. I used to want to live in NYC. This trip changed the way I now think and see  NYC.

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Now, we only had one day to explore NYC. I wanted to see everything in one day (I know now that it is impossible). So we decided to get on a hopper. I recommend that if you are only there for a short time. IMG_2707 IMG_2737 IMG_2746

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So, then the adventure started! If you are tall, make sure you do duck every now and then because my husband hit his head on a tree! That was painful, so be careful. Other then that, the trip was fantastic. We went from the downtown (Manhattan) area to Brooklyn. We did not get the chance to go through uptown.

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Once in Brooklyn, we witnessed a bride and her wedding party.

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Once in Times Square when the night fell, that is when the craziness started. I always heard about how New York traffic was bad and how people do not know how to drive. Well, it’s true! I was so terrified. Getting out of the city on a Saturday night was awful and I will never forget how scared I was. I kept yelling at my husband. “Don’t drive like them. They are crazy.” I was looking at the cops thinking, “can’t you see how these people are driving?”

I guess that’s a normal day for them. If I lived in NYC, I would absolutely never ever ever drive.  We went to dine with some burger joint. The burger itself was $19. Plus the fries, the total was about $25 for one person. That’s pretty expensive comparing to here in the valley (Phoenix).

Also, there are no public restrooms. Let me rephrase that, there are no decent pubic restrooms. I have a pretty weak bladder so that was no fun.

I really enjoyed it, but I would not recommend that anyone try to see all of NYC in one day. We were exhausted. It’s just impossible.

Trip To Montreal, Canada! (Thoughts On Life/Grad School)

First off, I want to thank my new subscribers! Thanks for joining my ‘online world’ and I hope my posts will serve you well. It has been about a week or so since I posted anything, but I am back. Back in Texas too, actually. I was in Canada and then Pennsylvania.

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All went well, and I am loving my new school WILKES, and my cohort. I met a lot of people who share the same passion as me and it was a great feeling. I still can’t believe that I decided to go to grad school right away. Lol. It has not hit me yet I guess, but I am happy about my decision.

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Honestly, I still remember when I thought I could not take any more of school, but God gave me the strength. Don’t let people discourage you and tell you that you cannot do certain things. If you want to do something, go after it. They do not know your heart and the desires of your heart; therefore, you should not let people talk you into what you do not want. I was hesitant about continuing school, but then I decided that I had nothing to lose. Of course, some people thought I was crazy, telling me that I should stop school as if they are walking in my shoes. Saying things such as, “Didn’t you get enough of it already? Live a little.”

I mean, there is nothing wrong with living a little, but I had a different goal.  So, be goal-oriented and determined no matter what and you will go far in life.

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Make sure God is always on your side with whatever decision you take. Have peace about it—if you don’t, then maybe it is not the right decision. Don’t lie to yourself. I mean, no one is perfect, but you know what is good or bad for you. Make the right decisions at the right time and be real with yourself. You know what you can and cannot handle. Be smart and DO NOT live your life for other people! The book of Luke says,

“If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

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Just a word of advice…people will always discourage or disappoint but let that motivate you. One important lesson I learned this summer is to guard your heart. I have always been a fan of that verse, but I really understood it this summer.

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“ABOVE ALL ELSE, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23.

Don’t allow that door to open if it is not meant to be. Don’t awaken what should not be awakened. Don’t stir up fire and you will get burned. Don’t mess with what isn’t yours. Guard your heart. Don’t let anyone close to it who is only there to shatter it into pieces.