Blog Archive

September 16, 2018

Hawaii - Day 3 - Kauai East Side

Fern Groto River Cruise
Sunday was planned with the least amount of driving. We headed to Smith's for a river cruise to the Wailua State Park/ Fern Grotto. We made the mistake of routing a google map to the grotto and the route took us up the mountain and then immediately down again. Thankfully my navigator (Nina) figured that out and apparently the river port was just across the hotel.

This was one of the recommended family friendly activities in the travel book and Travel with Kids so I was surprised that we seem to be the only family onboard. :)) Also, it was not much of a hit with Lily but she liked having an opportunity to take pictures with her camera. (Unfortunately, we forgot to bring charger for it so it didn't last long)


Ke Ala Hale Makalae Bike Path
After which, it was too hot to go to Smith's tropical paradise/garden+park so we decided to have lunch instead. We striked out again with Pono Market. Since we were already parked in the area, we decided to go to Ono Family Restaurant and got Adobo Moco and saimin. Afterwards we then shared our first shaved ice of passion fruit, coconut, pineapple combination with macademia ice cream at Ono Ono shave ice. For me, this is the best (and the cheapest one too) out of all the shaved ice we tried on the island and this wasn't even listed in our itinerary so it was a pleasant surprise.


We stopped by Safeway to buy some supplies then headed back to the hotel to get our coupons for the bike rental. I only got two but should have asked if we can get three because the bike trailer for Lily on my bike is counted separately. Anyway, it only cost us an additional $5 per hr ($10 total) so it was not a big deal. 
Doing the Ke Ala Hale Makalae bike path was an achievement. Tamang pagod at araw lang...workout started at 3pm.:p One thing I would do differently for next time is to inspect the bike first. 
There was a checklist we had to sign to agreeing that "we will ride on the designated path","be responsible if we damage the bike" and that sort of stuff so I should have taken that as a cue. We were too eager to start because we had to return the bikes before the shop closed for the day (5pm) when I realized too late during the ride that my bike didn't have a horn(?) and the light(?) was broken. Good thing Topeng was riding behind us to serve as the buzzer(?) to keep us safe and the "defects" on my bike was not penalized on me.


After which, we looked for Fuji/baby Beach but we we're not sure if were on the right place and if it still safe to swim at that time so we just relaxed a bit then headed back at the hotel to share dinner.

September 15, 2018

Hawaii - Day 2 - #WoodNChe

Cheche was my college thesis mate and the last time I saw her was almost 10 years ago. How time flies and now she is getting married which we are now using as another excuse to go on vacation. :)
Although we were not able to attend the rehearsal, Lily still did a splendid job on her flower girl duties. After getting the basket and hairclip for our flower girl, we headed to St. Catherine Parish for the 10am wedding ceremony and went back to the hotel for the reception.



By late afternoon we were able to get some Lydgate Beach and Kalamani playground time at the back of the hotel. Aside from its proximity to our hotel, what I love about this beach is that the rock formations makes it look like two pools which is perfect for kids to swim in. There were a lot of sticks washed up on shore but were not that bothersome. Afterwards, we used our meal credit to get dinner in the hotel before Lily sleeps again.

September 14, 2018

Hawaii - Day 1 - Aloha, Kauai!

Finally, our first vacation for 2018! And just in time to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary! Thanks and congratulations to our friend Cheche and her now-husband Richwood, we got some vitamin sea on their destination wedding.



Planning the trip
Initially, we booked our flight, hotel and car via Expedia but after learning from our friend that they booked their latest Florida trip via Costco, we decided to explore that option as well and I'm so glad we did! The Costco package we got includes:

  1. Round trip TUS-LIH flights
  2. Alamo car rental (full size sedan)
  3. Add-on choice of activity: we chose Luau Kalamaku with train tickets
  4. Accommodation at Hilton Garden Inn Wailua Bay which includes:
    • Welcome drink vouchers for days! We weren't able to use them all... That's how much it was.
    • Welcome shell necklace for each person
    • Use of beach mat, beach towels and cooler
    • 2 hour bike rental
    • $30/day meal credit. Tip: Breakfast buffet before 730am is only $15.
    • Sunrise ceremony

Obviously, I highly recommend Costco travel. It was cheaper than anything else we looked at plus it pretty much did the planning for us. I'm surprised we haven't tried this before.

For the itinerary, we tried limiting ourselves to kid friendly activities based from Internet searches as usual and Lonely Planet's Kauai book. Unfortunately, a lot of places were already obsolete due to a recent flooding last spring affecting mostly the north shore and businesses closing. On the other hand, it helped relax our itinerary.


Another thing that we started using as part of our itinerary planning is Google Maps (My  Maps), this helps us plot and mark all the locations we plan on going to. Unfortunately google does not allow you to save custom maps for offline use (boo!!)

Day one: Arrival Lihue

We arrived afternoon so first thing on our agenda was to get lunch. Our plan was to go to Hamura Saimin (recommended by travel book and Cheche) but when we got there it was closed for the entire week that we were there!:(( 


This lead to our next option Duke's which turned out for the better. We got our first 'taste' of sand and sea while waiting to be seated and had hula pie for dessert. 

We weren't expecting to get wet before checking in the hotel but Lily couldn't resist the waters of Kalapaki Beach. 


After which, we headed to Walmart to get some supplies. They were not kidding when they said that there are chickens everywhere and I'm not referring to the ones on the frozen section. Lily got a kick spotting them and running after them. 

After checking in and getting settled at the hotel, it was already dinner so we headed to Kauai Family Cafe to get some Filipino food but it was closed! Why?! After an internet search, we ended up in Saimin Dojo. At least, we got a dose of saimin (noodle) for the day. 

With the 3hr difference, Lily was already sleeping by the time the order arrived but she still enjoyed her Keiki (kids) chicken teriyaki meal for breakfast the following morning.

January 23, 2018

Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

Every time we go back from Phoenix, we see this sign on the side of the highway which I always thought was just a rickety side show. I was mistaken obviously as the place was very enjoyable for all ages!

I'm also trying to shift medium from taking lots of photos to taking lots of videos. So far I'm liking the Pixel 2 + Zhiyun Smooth Q combination. Maybe a drone next? :))

July 31, 2017

Boston 2017

My cousin Marianne invited us to her wedding so we took this opportunity to extend our stay in MA to tour Boston.

Accommodations: Staying in Downtown Boston is very pricey. Even the tours that we went to described the cost of houses/apartments/parking there as such. We stayed at the cheapest one we found at that time which is Revere (probably pronounced as in Paul Revere) Hotel Boston Common ($160/night). I think this is the first time I stayed in a boutique hotel so I'm not sure if the amenities or lack of it is usual in these type of places. Likes: Environment friendly because they don't change towels and sheets daily unless requested and toiletries (shampoos, conditioners, body wash/shower gel, lotion, facial wash, hand wash) are "locked" in regular sized instead of travel sized containers. Historical themed decor. Custom pillow menu (though we didn't try it as the default ones are comfy enough as it is). Dislikes: No breakfast included, no fridge, no microwave which means not family friendly and healthy nutrition-wise. We had brunch outside (usually near or in the attraction where we were going) all throughout our stay, had to order dinner enough to eat for just 1 meal and can't pack lunch (unlike other bigger families/groups I observed so we were stuck to eating usual fast food options in the attractions: burgers, fries). Note to self if we have more kids.

Transportation: Initially, I thought we could ride the subway but it turns out their subway stations are not that near to attractions so riding it did not save time and would just add to the probability of us getting lost. I even downloaded the MBTA transit app for reference but it worked the same as Google Maps so we never got to apply the information it provided. Renting a car is not an option considering the price of parking and their maze of streets. Another option which we could have but didn't explore was bike rental (included in our pass) but I'm not that confident in my bike riding skills plus the attractions that we went to were mostly indoors. We primarily just walked or took an Uber. On the plus side, we always achieved our daily steps and active minutes. Comfy shoes and a stroller are a must. Being active is really a thing in Boston. No wonder the marathon is held here.

Itinerary: I listed some places from the Children's Boston portion of DK Eyewitness Travel Boston book I borrowed from the library. We bought Boston Go 3-Day Passes and I prioritized our itinerary from there.

Day 0 (Friday): Arrival at Boston Logan Airport
Arrived around 830 pm. Took an Uber to the hotel. 
Dinner of noodle soup at Dumpling Cafe. 


Day 1 (Saturday): Boston Common and You Wedding/Reception
Lily making tampisaw at Tadpole Playground triggered trip to the potty


Rode carousel at Frog Pond.

Brunch of lobster roll and crab sandwich at Luke's Lobster which tasted authentic but was not as cheap as expected (and fruit/hardboiled egg/spinach from nearby Walgreen's for Lily as she is not fond of sandwiches)

(Passed by Payless shoe store and bought a pair that looked better with my wedding guest dress :p)
Back at the hotel to prepare for wedding
Took Uber to St Theresa Catholic Church for You wedding (we were late. It was farther than I expected!)
You-Lintag wedding
Car pool to Balandan residence while the wedding party were having their pictures taken.
Topeng drove Ate Mayeth's car to the wedding reception at Cruiseport Gloucester. Partay!
Silly second cousins at the wedding reception
Lintag fambam at the wedding reception

Lily doing Brooklyn's hair
Familia ... teleserye version
Team Veridiano


Day 2 (Sunday): Boston Children's Museum, Boston Public Garden
Anticipating the family reunion later in the day, we postponed using the pass until the next day and went to one of the "cheaper" attractions. 
Brunch of Lobster Roll from McDonalds (Topeng's review: bland) and chinese/cajun food from <name of train station near Children's Museum)
Boston Children's Museum: biggest children's museum we've ever been in, has giant bubble play, theatrical shows, wall climbing, japanese house



Met up with Lintag fambam at Cookie Monstah waterfront
cookie monstah!

Walked along Quincy Market
Busy sa pagkain ng ice cream ung isa

Towards Boston Common then Acorn Street (most instagrammed street) then Boston Public Garden
Lily with her Tita Angie @ Boston Common

Lintag fambam in front of Massachusetts State House
Lintag fambam @ Acorn Street

Mrs Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, Quack 
Boston Public Garden with the girls
Dinner of kare-kare by Tito Boy, lobster and pansit palabok at Balandan residence.

More pictures here.

Day 3 (Monday): New England Aquarium, CityView Hop-On Hop-Off, Quincy Market
Day 1 of pass. Rainy day so initial plan of going to the duck tour from the aquarium foiled. 
Headed to the aquarium where there a lot of people
Parang meme lang

Had quick lunch of chicken tenders and fries to catch up the "Green Sea Turtle" show on IMAX @1pm
Our attempt to make a duck face

Afterwards Lily fell asleep so we took the Hop-On Hop-Off to maximize pass but unfortunately the rain made the trip hard to picture. Since we still had some time, we decided to go back to the aquarium.

Dinner of lobster mac n' cheese and clam chowder from Boston Chowda Co and chinese food, fruit (for Senyorita Lily) @ Quincy Market

And finally Uber back to hotel because it is still raining!!!


Day 4 (Tuesday): Boston Duck Tour, Museum of Science
Uber to Museum of Science. (Our uber driver recommended a lot of places which we hopefully can go to next time we visit Boston)
T-rex claw

10 am duck tour from Museum of +Science. Thank God for better weather!
Quack quack!
Inside the duck

Museum of Science tour. Closed later than expected.
seryoso, kala mo naintindihan

Afraid to get rained on and didn't have enough time to get there before the attractions closed so didn't push through with original plan of going on Harvard tour and other places on the Cambridge side.
Dinner of gyoza, takoyaki, pork ramen, curry seafood ramen @ ??? and Mein

Day 5 (Wednesday): Franklin Park Zoo, Skywalk Observatory

We took an Uber to Franklin Park Zoo and arrived around noon had usual limited fast food lunch options: burger, fries, chicken nuggets. Lily was hangry


Topeng found the zoo small but for me it was just enough for us to see everything in a day.

Not enough time to visit Mapparium so Uber to Prudential Center where the Skywalk Observatory is.

Lily was intent on listening to all the stops on the audio, just like me...though she had a hard time letting go of the listening device when we were leaving.
Dinner of Korean BBQ and hotpot soup at Hotpot Buffet in China Town. (Supposed to be with Ate Mayeth but she cancelled) Lamon galore, inaawat na kami ni Lily!
Daming gutom

Day 6 (Thursday): Bye, Boston

For next time To Do List:
- More bonding time with 2nd cousins for Lily
- Try more places to eat: Legal Seafoods, Penang
- More places to see/do: Cape Cod/beaches, Old Sturbridge Village, Cambridge (Harvard/MIT), Mapparium, other museums and cruises

July 08, 2017

Lily's 3rd Birthday

I was not really planning on having a party for Lily's 3rd birthday given there were a lot of events going on (e.g. weddings, my mom and sisters visiting, travel plans) but mommy guilt kicked in. Lily is more aware of birthdays and parties now so I didn't want her to miss out.

As I'm not that confident in my party throwing skills and I only committed to it about a week before the event (A.K.A cramming to the max), I just invited a few friends over and made it a merienda time event.

 Lily initially wanted it to be a Doc McStuffins themed party but there was not much to work from there. It was a good thing that her Lola Emily sent her a Belle dress that we came up with the idea to do a Beauty and the Beast themed one.


I bought the decorations from the dollar store, delegated the decorations to my sister Angel and the cooking to my mom and Topeng. Still I was stressed because I moved Lily's toys upstairs single-handedly to make room for the party and Lily won't take her afternoon nap beforehand (A.K.A having a case of FOMO). When the guests arrived, the food was not ready and Lily was still sleeping. Anyway, we got it over with and Lily was so excited to open her gifts!!! Thanks everyone for attending!


The following day I recycled the decorations and bought some cake for Lily's daycare. Note to self: balloons easily pop and find healthier snack ideas. I'd add "Make friends to invite to party" but who am I kidding.. I suck at making friends and throwing parties.:))


June 30, 2017

New Jersey 2017

We're back in New Jersey for the summer again. This time for my cousin Emily's wedding with Lily as a flower girl for the first time. We stayed there for less than 4 days, mostly in the Jersey Shore area. It was just right (In tagalog: sakto lang! :p) since we didn't go there the last time we were in Jersey and we had to save up our leaves to take my mom and sisters around Arizona afterwards.

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Day 1 (Saturday): Wedding Rehearsal
With no decent night sleep from our red-eye, non-reclinable seat, rainy flight from Phoenix to Newark, Topeng obliged to drive from airport to Bayonne to get my mom and sisters. We stayed there longer than expected as our passengers were still repacking their luggage. In the process, Topeng took a nap and we waited for and ate breakfast then I watched videos from Mommy's 60th birthday on NJ's laptop. Lily was so excited to see her lolas and titas that I couldn't get her to make up for lost sleep and even helped her Tita Angie wash dishes. The next thing we know, it was already lunchtime so we went to a Filipino turo-turo named Fiesta Grill. After dropping off Tita Penn and Ate Angie at Bayonne house, we finally are on our way to our accommodations. We passed by CVS for some supplies.

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Day 2 (Sunday): TwiceThePerks Wedding
This is it for Rory and Emily. This was the first US wedding that we have ever attended so we  were not sure what the proper etiquette should be. Unbeknownst to us that this is far from being a traditional wedding. The first hint that we had was the large amount of booze that was stockpiled on the back of the church and light buzz was served prior to the wedding ceremony.

One of the Lintags also was the officiant thanks to his online minister certification and lastly the reception was catered by several elevated foods since they were made in the food truck. :))
Add the several ice cream selection and garden games all in all this was one of the most fun and laid back wedding that we have attended! 


Day 3 (Monday): Asbury Beach
After some laid back wedding comes some more laid back beach bumming. We started the day late with some brunch and then hang out the whole day on the beach. It feels very strange not having a camera hence the lack of photos.



Day 4 (Tuesday): Flyback
Going home was a breeze and the mother and sisters-in-laws also came with us which was such a treat.