Blog Archive

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.


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.


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.

May 20, 2017

San Diego 2017

The Franciscos were due for some 2017 spring travel. Topeng chose San Diego this time around in just in time for the flowers blooming in Carlsbad's flower fields. He also was excited to test the Lumix LX100.

We arrived April 2, Sunday at East Village. It was our first time getting an AirBNB  and it was not bad. Likes: near Grocery Outlet, has kitchen and laundry. Dislikes: not that child safe (the stairs lead directly to the bedroom) and parking (but I guess this is the case for any downtown location, it also includes parking which although far saved us several $$$. After settling in, we walked to Burger Lounge to get dinner.

Monday was spent in San Diego Zoo. We got the 1 Day Plus ($58/adult, free for kids under 3) which includes all the features of the 1-Day Pass (One visit to the San Diego Zoo®, Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Express Bus --hop-on/hop-off 4 stops, Skyfari aerial tram, and all regularly scheduled shows), plus choice of one 4-D Theater experience. 
I was a bit apprehensive about getting the "plus" because the last time we took Lily to a 4-D show (Ice Age in Central Park Zoo, July 2016), she got scared/overwhelmed and probably was not ready for it. This time she was ok with it...still couldn't keep the glasses on but she watched Rio intently. We were able to use all of the inclusions of the pass (except for the scheduled shows) but we were not very systematic so there were places on the map that we passed more than once.

Tuesday, we went to Sea World. More animals but sea animals this time.:p We thought the package/ticket with All Day Dining, Reserved Show Seating and Photo was a good deal but was not able to maximize it as much as we thought we would. 
I'm not really sure how the Reserved Show Seating works but we were not able to use it when we watched a couple of shows (Killer Whale Presentation and Dolphin Days) probably because we arrived late. At first, it was hard to gauge whether Lily liked the show because she was not as talkative but was munching away on some snacks as usual. Either she takes after me (aka NR) or her parents are just much more excited that they had to make sure that she sees what's happening.:)) 
She did remember the dolphins/whales the following days.:) 
She really enjoyed the Sesame Street Bay of Play which has a splash pad, toddler trampoline and photo with Sesame Street characters. They should have put that farther from the entrance because she had too much fun that she didn't want to leave to see the other exhibits and main attractions.:)) 
All Day Dining gets you an entree (mostly fast food options),side/dessert and drink in 1 hour intervals and excludes snack items so we shouldn't have been greedy given that we were going to the beach after a couple of days.:)) 
Also, Lily was still small for most of the rides so we didn't have as much photo options.

Wednesday, we got lunch from Jollibee then headed to the Flower Fields at Carlsbad. It seems like main attractions are not really Lily's thing since she gets attracted to the playground and food the most.:)) After some picture taking, I completed the stamp collection, supposedly for kids, by myself. The stamp collection could have gotten me $1 discount for the mining activity but did not avail it since they only take cash, same as the food stalls.

Thursday is beach day! It has been a while since we've been to the beach (I believe it was 2 years ago, in the Philippines) and this was our opportunity to flaunt our "beach body". Still, I was not able to grab that opportunity because it was too cold and I packed a rashguard...manang mode! :))  Anyway, our first stop Children's Pool Beach were we saw some seals and Lily enjoyed some sand/water play. Since we're no longer showing our beach body, we binged on lunch nearby @ Bubba's Smokehouse BBQ :)) Sleepy from the lunch, we napped in the car upon arriving in La Jolla Beach then headed to the beach for more sand time. Lily was singing Moana while playing in the shore which was amusing. Too bad I wasn't able to document it since we had to leave our gadgets in the car before we can get in the water.

Friday was spent in downtown to avoid traffic during a street event. The Children's Museum is walking distance from where we were staying so we spent most of the day there.  I was worried that we won't be able to see the entire place again because when Lily sees something she likes, she won't leave.:)) Fortunately, she seems to like everything...sandbox, cars, magnets, clay sculpting, painting, books, coloring fishes. I hope I remember to replicate these activities at home instead of screen time.

Saturday, before we drove back to Tucson, we had lunch at Goldilocks and got some other much craved Filipino treats and pasalubong in the area. We lost all the weight from all the walking those past few days but gained them all back (and more) during our Goldilocks binge. :))