Category Archives: Holidays

Why? Weekends!

One last extended holiday weekend recap coming your way…

On Thursday, I planned to take Jeffrey to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for their New Year’s at Noon party, but when we pulled up at 10:30, there was nowhere to park and a huge line outside the museum! I love that so many kiddos wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with the dinosaurs, but we decided to head to somewhere a little less crowded.

We ended up at the Great Lakes Science Center and had a really fun morning! There were some special winter activities happening through last week, including an hourly snow party with music, dancing, and indoor snow!

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Yes, I wore the glitter booties. This was my New Year’s Eve out.

Jeffrey also made some model DNA, played with magnets and molecule blocks, and set his sights on working for NASA when he grows up, just like his godfather Hans!

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I was pleasantly surprised how much Jeffrey enjoyed the Great Lakes Science Center and how much a toddler could get out of it. We’ll definitely be back (but as a heads up, the Science Center is closed for winter maintenance through Friday, January 8).

For the fourth year in a row, Matthew and I opted to stay in on New Year’s Eve and make a nice homecooked meal. Since we decided to wait until after Jeffrey went to bed to make our dinner, we started the evening with some cheese and charcuterie.

Then it was time for the main course, with a surf and turf from two of our favorite local food shops. We got our filet from Pinzone’s Market Fresh Meats and our lobster tails from Euclid Fish Company.

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Add in some mushrooms and onions cooked in Lanning’s steak sauce and a delicious Old Vine Zinfandel (thanks to Kimberly and Chris for getting us hooked on this one) and you have a pretty perfect meal. Plus, we love just being able to relax, put on our pajamas, and ring in the new year in comfy style.

For dessert, we had individual tortes from Michael Angelo’s Bakery: Bailey’s for Matthew and tiramisu for me. With a split of bubbly and these decadent sweets, we celebrated the end of a fabulous year!


Friday, I started the new year off right with a vinyasa flow at Harmony Yoga taught by Melissa (also of Balance & Brews). Balance & Brews has some great events planned for the new year at Hofbrauhaus, Portside Brewery, Platform Beer Co., and Market Garden Brewery. Check out the complete schedule here.

Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I met up with our friends Tracy and Nina for some indoor fun at Café O’Play.


Café O’Play has so many great activities to keep kids occupied, from a toddler play area to a video game floor to a large basketball area to big slides and climbing to a dance room. Plus, the café offers yummy and healthy food. I love a one-stop shop too…to be able to play and have lunch at the same location is great! I know we’ll be spending a lot of time there this winter to burn off cabin fever!

The rest of the weekend was spent de-Christmasing the house and generally getting ready for the return to a normal schedule for everyone. The holidays were so much fun, but real life is pretty good too!

How was your weekend? How did you ring in the new year?


Why? Happy New Year!

As we usher out 2015, I find myself looking back fondly on a year that brought a lot of changes to my schedule, my work, and my friendships. And while these changes weren’t all painless, I can’t help but be pleased by everything this year has brought and where the road has led.

I’m normally not much for New Year’s Eve celebrations and definitely not one for resolutions, but I find myself making a few as I look toward 2016:


1. To make time to “time-out” every day. Whether that means using my new adult coloring book (a fabulous Christmas present from my sister-in-law) for #15minutesofcolor or reading a book (I miss reading. I read a book on our vacation and realized how much I miss it) or maintaining my once-a-week yoga class, I want to actively carve out a bit of space in each day. It makes me a better person for the people around me (and for myself).

2. To start using a written planner. I received one as a gift and I really want to use it to keep life sorted, make to-do lists, and the like.

3.  To continue to actively cultivate friendships. I’ve learned a lot this last year about giving friends what THEY need, not just what YOU need; about adult friendships being equal parts enjoying commonalities and celebrating differences; and about how to be discerning with your time and your affection. Friendship is an active process. I am so proud of and sustained by the friendships I have and I want to continue the active process of growing them.

4. To be more present. Whether with Matthew, Jeffrey, friends, or just in the “time-outs,” there are many times I’m there, but also in 6 different places. Whether that’s putting down the phone, shutting off the “monkey mind” as yogis say, or simply focusing more, I want to make an active effort to be more here (or there, you know what I mean).

So, that’s my list. What’s on yours?

I wish you a happy, safe, and fun New Year’s Eve and a wonderful start to what will hopefully be your best year yet!


Why? Weekends!

It was a wonderful holiday weekend! Matthew had Christmas Eve off from work, so we had four solid days of family time.


On Christmas Eve, we went over to my parents’ house for a traditional Eastern European meatless meal. There were also plenty of presents and a lovely Christmas Eve Mass at St. Basil the Great. Their music program is just amazing…even the children’s choir will blow you away!

Jeffrey also took on the role of “bouncer” at the nativity. Hey, it’s a busy time and the Baby Jesus just needs some rest…


When we got home, we put out cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Jeffrey came up with a very original way to leave these treats: he dropped all the cookies into the glass of milk!

Christmas morning at our house was my favorite part of the weekend! Seeing Jeffrey in his jammies, checking out all his new toys and just having such a sense of wonder at everything is truly an incredible moment.


This year, his “big” present was a Step 2 Flip & Doodle Easel Desk, stocked with stamps (his favorite), markers, and colored pencils. He has already created some awesome artwork, under the watchful eye of Play All Day Elmo, another favorite present.


As for me, my favorite present is something completely impractical and yet amazing: these kate spade glitter booties. Matthew completely surprised me with them and I’m never taking them off! I think they go well with my Christmas jammies!


On Christmas afternoon, we headed to Matthew’s dad’s house for lots more family time and a room filled with excited kids, presents, and love!


It’s great to see Jeffrey developing relationships with his cousins, aunts, and uncles!

Matthew’s dad got us started with what we spent the majority of our Christmas money on this year: memberships to local institutions. We acquired or renewed memberships to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Botanical Garden and Holden Arboretum, and the Lake Metroparks Farm Park. Memberships make great gifts or good ways to use Christmas cash. We’ll be able to enjoy these spots all year long!

On Saturday, we made another trip to the Wild Days of Winter (AKA indoor Candy Land). We love exploring this fun, inventive, and colorful exhibit! It’s open daily from noon to 5pm through January 3.


While we were at Penitentiary Glen, we couldn’t pass up playing on the train either! The mild weather has made for some great adventures!


We had dinner that night at Don Tequila, where we discovered that Jeffrey REALLY likes salsa! Who knew?!

So, that was our extended holiday weekend. Lots of good family time, too much food, really generous presents, and wonderful memories! Hope yours was great, too!



Why? Weekends!

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s Christmas week! As any pre-holiday weekend should be, ours was filled with friends, food, and fun!

On Saturday, we hosted what has become one of my absolute favorite holiday traditions: TWC Christmas (TWC = Tri-County Wives Club). Everyone brings food to share for one fabulous dinner. From leg of lamb to squash “bread” pudding, there’s no end to delicious and savory options we concoct.


We also do a White Elephant gift exchange, which brings endless laughter and no shortage of random new items to each person’s home.


But mostly, we take time to be thankful for each other, for another year of our wonderful friendship, and for the chance to celebrate together.

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I couldn’t be more grateful for these folks or for the chance to have our home filled to the brim with their love and laughter!

On Sunday, we somehow found room after all the eating on Saturday to have brunch with my parents at One Red Door. I’ve seriously turned into a brunch person in the last year or so! I chose the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote. They were fluffy, just sweet enough, and totally delicious!


Mom had the chicken and waffles. Matthew and Dad both had the lobster omelette, which was not stingy with the lobster meat and served with Hollandaise sauce for dipping.


I grabbed bites of the other entrees and loved them, especially the hot sauce with the chicken and waffles. If you find yourself near Hudson, One Red Door is a yummy brunch option!

After brunch, Jeffrey and I went to a Kindermusik holiday play date, with plenty of classic holiday songs, pretend ice skating and snow ball fights, and more. It was a great way to combine the Kindermusik we love with the holiday season!

Sunday evening, we had another round of guests at the house with some of Matthew’s friends from high school and college, along with their kids.


Jeffrey chillin’ with the guys

It was a completely different scene from Saturday night’s party: replace leg of lamb with pizza and add in a much messier playroom, but I wouldn’t trade either one! I love that we can have a weekend that rolls up so many of our favorite people and allows for plenty of good adult and kid time!

So, that was our weekend: a revolving door of holiday merriment! How was yours? Are you ready for Christmas?!


Why? Holiday Play Date!

On Friday, I hosted a holiday play date for Jeffrey and some of his little friends. I always love having people over, especially when the house is all twinkly and festive. So now that Jeffrey has buddies, I have another reason and another group to have over to the house.

We decorated cookies (I’m still finding sprinkles in the kitchen) with inches upon inches of frosting and loads of red and green sprinkles.


And, of course, after you decorate the cookies, you have to taste test them!


We also had some fun Kidz Bop Christmas music, mac n cheese (great kid-friendly recipe here) and chicken nuggets, a holiday book exchange, and treat bags filled with local favorites from Malley’s, Step 2, and more.

The playroom was a bit chaotic at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! It was such a fun way to celebrate the season with the small ones.


It was also a great chance for the moms to chat, enjoy some hot chocolate, and get to know one another (since Jeffrey’s friends come from a lot of different places/activities).

When I started working from home last January, I was so grateful for the time with Jeffrey, but it was also a difficult transition and a bit isolating at first. I’ve been really lucky to meet wonderful women from Kindermusik, swim class, Stroller Babes, and library story time. I’ve even rediscovered and strengthened friendships with high school and college friends, who have kids around the same age as Jeffrey.


I’ve been calling them “mom friends,” but in the same way I don’t call my friends “blogger friends” or “college friends,” it’s time to drop the qualifier and say, these are my friends and I am so thankful for them! We get to share such fun times with our kids and each other and they have certainly made me feel warm, welcome, and more fully happy with my decision to be at home with Jeffrey.

Plus, I see how Jeffrey gets excited to see his friends and for the adventures they have together.


Not from the play date, clearly. My home is not decorated like the Connor Palace Theatre.

Seeing him make friends has been a truly heart-warming experience! I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble they get into next!


Why? Weekends!

It was another busy, fun, and festive weekend! On Friday, I had some of Jeffrey’s little buddies for a holiday play date (more on that later this week).

Saturday morning, I volunteered with other fellow Playhouse Square Partners members at Tinsel Town. The lobby of the Connor Palace Theatre was filled with Christmas crafts, hot chocolate, pictures with Santa and Slider, and lots of other festive fun.


There was also a Chinese raffle and silent auction to raise money for the Bus Fund, which helps make trips to Playhouse Square possible for school children.

My volunteer task was escorting Slider around the event. As a longtime Cleveland Indians fan, this was a perfect job!


Matthew and Jeffrey attended the event and had a great time! They got to decorate cookies and make candy cane reindeer…


…we had an audience with Santa…


…and perhaps my favorite was the balloon artist who made a dinosaur wearing a Santa hat to match Jeffrey’s sweater!


It was a great way to spend the morning, taking in the beauty of a Playhouse Square theater, getting to have some holiday fun, and helping raise money for the Bus Fund!

On Saturday evening, Matthew and I returned to Playhouse Square to see the Cleveland Play House production of “A Christmas Story” with the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter.


We started with Christmas Ale and cookies at Parnell’s Pub, then headed to the show. We also got to take in the Festival of Trees in the Allen Theatre lobby, which is open daily through December 24, and features beautifully-decorated trees from local designers and businesses.

A Christmas Story” was a charming rendition of the movie that we’ve all grown to love. I especially enjoyed the interactions between the narrator (adult Ralphie) and the child Ralphie. You can see “A Christmas Story” now through December 23.

And if you’re a John Carroll alum, the Alumni Christmas Reception is happening this Thursday, December 17 at the Dolan Center for Science and Technology from 6-8pm. This is truly one of my favorite events of the season. It’s free to attend, but you need to RSVP and can do so here.

On Sunday, I started my day with a little necessary zen at Evolution Yoga with Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow. Since my next stop was the mall for Christmas shopping, the relaxation was much needed.

In the afternoon, we celebrated my grandpa’s 91st birthday! What a milestone!

So, that was my weekend! Lots of festive, merry, good times! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of the Education Committee of Playhouse Square Partners and the chair of the Educational/Cultural/Spiritual Committee of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. These committees planned the respective events in this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Lake Metroparks Holiday Fun!

Last week, we checked out two Lake Metroparks holiday events and had a blast at both! First, we spent an afternoon at the Wild Days of Winter, a life-sized Candy Land adventure at Penitentiary Glen Nature Center.


You receive your own set of game cards to play the Candy Land game, but if your kids are around Jeffrey’s age, you mostly just explore the lights, colors, and themes.


The game board areas have been modified to highlight the fun things you can do in the Lake Metroparks throughout the various seasons. The camping area was a particular favorite, since tents make for great peek-a-boo sessions.


After the Candy Land fun, you can also make a s’more-nament (an ornament that looks like a s’more) for your tree.


We had a great time exploring the Wild Days of Winter! This is a truly creative event that kids of all ages can enjoy. Wild Days of Winter is open daily through January 2 from noon-5pm and is free (suggested donation for the s’more-nament is $1).

We also went to Country Lights at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. I had heard great things about this annual event, but I was honestly blown away by the amount and quality of the activities at Country Lights.

We started at Santa’s Workshop, where Jeffrey got to choose the type of toy he wanted to make (a firetruck in our case, but there are tons of cool options). Then, an elf helped build the toy right in front of our eyes!


Then it was off to paint the toy. Jeffrey’s firetruck is interestingly spottily painted with pink and white. It’s definitely his own unique creation!


After Santa’s workshop, we explored the indoor areas of the Farmpark, decked out with lights, characters, and all manner of festive decorations.


We also tried our hand at cookie decorating. Jeffrey is a fan of frosting, clearly.


We headed outside for a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Farmpark, which is covered in twinkling lights.


We also stopped in at the barn to see the Holiday Horse Show, as well as Santa’s train room (I think Jeffrey would still be there if it was up to him).


Country Lights is sold out for this year. I know I’ll be waiting eagerly for the tickets to go on sale for next year’s event. This is a whole lot of holiday magic packed into one location!

Lake Metroparks definitely knows how to celebrate the holidays in ways that every member of your family can enjoy!



Why? Weekends!

It was a weekend filled with some fabulous seasonal activities! On Friday night, Jeffrey and I met up with my sister-in-law and her daughters to see the pretty holiday lights at Deck the Hall at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.


The expansive grounds, the conservatory, and the manor house are all beautifully decorated for the season. We got to see Santa light the courtyard tree, where you can also snuggle near the fire and enjoy gingerbread cookies, hot chocolate, and the like.

There is also a fun Gingerbread Land perfect for the smaller visitors. I enjoyed seeing all the lights, but definitely underestimated how much time we’d be spending outside (think: bundle up and bring the stroller if you’re taking little ones).


Deck the Hall continues through January 2. Tickets are $18 for adults and $7 for children 5 and up and can be purchased online.

Saturday evening was all about taking a little time to refresh my soul, which is also important this time of year especially! I attended a special yoga class at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio taught by my friend Ylonda. We start the class with chanting, followed by a strong vinyasa flow, and a live cello performance during savasana. It was powerful and relaxing all at the same time!

After class, Alicia and I headed to Bomba Tacos and Rum for some post-yoga sustenance and girl talk.


I love Bomba’s build-your-own guacamole and variety of mix and match tacos. We had the spicy peppers, corn, and tomatoes…yum! I also picked 3 tacos: the braised beef, the chorizo and potato, and the crispy shrimp. I got some mystery taco instead of the crispy shrimp…it was good, but I can’t tell you what it was!


It was a much-needed evening of lots of things that are good for my soul!

On Sunday, our family took a magical journey on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad‘s Polar Express.


We all wore our jammies, just like in the movie! From the moment you arrive, you step into the magical story, with your own golden ticket that gets punched by the conductor.


The elves on your car read you the story of the Polar Express and provide you with delicious cookies and hot chocolate for the journey to the North Pole.


When you reach the North Pole, you will see dancing elves, Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa himself.


Santa joins the train and gives each child their own very special Believe bell. The elves then lead a sing-along as you head back home.


I had heard amazing things about the Polar Express ride and the hype was absolutely right. The volunteers at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad create a magical experience for passengers of all ages. Jeffrey had a wonderful time and so did we!


The Polar Express is sold out for this season, but be sure to mark your calendars and get your tickets early for next year.

It was a wonderfully festive and happy weekend! And all of it, every moment, fed my soul in wonderful ways! How was your weekend?



Why? Weekends, Part 2!

Aside from turkey and Winterfest, we also decorated our house for Christmas and attended the Cleveland Pops Happy Holidays concert over the weekend.

Matthew has always had a live Christmas tree and, since we’ve lived together, he’s converted me to the beauty of the live tree. On Saturday, we went with Jeffrey to pick out our tree.


Jeffrey had definite opinions as to which tree we should take home and I think he did a great job selecting it! We also have a small tree in Jeffrey’s bedroom, as well as lots of other sparkle throughout the house. I love having the house decorated and twinkly! And putting the ornaments on the tree with Matthew and Christmas music is one of my favorite moments of the season.

On Sunday afternoon, Matthew and I attended the Cleveland Pops Happy Holidays concert at the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square. I love any excuse to go to Playhouse Square, but especially at this time of year, when the theaters are so beautifully decorated!


Before the concert, the upstairs lobby was filled with animal shelters with adoptable pets, a particular favorite cause of the Cleveland Pops. I managed to restrain myself from taking home one (or more) of the pups, but I did make a donation to the Sanctuary for Senior Dogs. This organization is specifically dedicated to caring for and adopting out senior dogs. As the dog mom to two adopted senior dogs, I think that’s a pretty great thing to support!

The concert itself was like a musical cup of hot cocoa: warm, seasonal, and designed to make you feel great. The Cleveland Pops orchestra and chorus dazzled the crowd with a wide selection of holiday favorites, from old-school classics to modern favorites like Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs.


The NEOS Dance Theatre performed during selections from The Nutcracker.



Fox 8‘s Todd Meany regaled the audience with his reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” as well as helping to lead the audience sing-along at the end of the concert. Hearing the entire Connor Palace Theatre filled with people singing “White Christmas” and other holiday favorites got me a little choked up! (I’m a big Christmas cheeseball, really)

And of course there was an appearance from Santa himself!


The concert was such a wonderful way to get in the holiday spirit! And I’m continually impressed by the quality and variety of the arts community in Cleveland!

The Cleveland Pops is celebrating its 20th year and has some great upcoming concerts planned. The one that caught my attention is the Cleveland Pops 20th Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration. The concert will be a Broadway Revue featuring vocalist Connor Bogart O’Brien at the beautiful Severance Hall. Following the concert, members of the Pops, as well as the No-Name Band, will play in the Severance Hall lobbies to ring in the new year with music and dancing. Tickets range from $46 to $112 and are on sale now.

I hope you check out a Cleveland Pops performance soon! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

So, that’s the holiday weekend in the books! Hope yours was wonderful, too!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Cleveland Pops to attend a performance of my choice with 2 complimentary tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***