Why? Weekends!

It was a relatively low-key weekend, which is great because it feels like the next couple weeks are completely packed! On Saturday afternoon, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to visit baby Nolan, the new arrival for our friends Nathan and Lane.

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Nolan is just precious and we couldn’t be happier for Nathan and Lane! Since you always take the new parents food when you visit, we stopped to pick up lunch at On the Rise Artisan Breads.

From my curry chicken salad to Matthew’s pork bahn mi to Lane’s burrata sandwich, everything looked, smelled, and tasted just delicious! There’s such care put into the food at On the Rise. And we couldn’t pass up the amazing chocolate chip cookies!

On Saturday evening, Mom and I headed to another John Carroll University Founders Day celebration, this time with the newly-founded Akron Canton Alumni Chapter. We went to a restaurant that’s long been on my list: Trattoria Vaccaro.

We enjoyed a sampling of flatbreads and cheese before settling in for a huge and delicious meal. We had a limited menu to select from, which didn’t skimp of the flavor. I chose the lasagna bolognese.

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It’s honestly rare that I can’t (or don’t) finish an entree, but my goodness, this was gigantic! And so good! The bolognese was so flavorful and there was so much meat and cheese in each layer of the lasagna.

Mom selected the vegetable risotto, with zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. It was lighter than most risotto I’ve had and filled with flavor!

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For dessert, we had our choice between a selection of decadent and delicious mini parfaits.

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I’m so glad I was able to not only celebrate Founders Day with even more alumni, but also finally get to Trattoria Vaccaro! I will definitely be back to this warm, welcoming, traditional Italian spot.

Sunday, we had plans to attend a charity 5K at Jeffrey’s school in the morning, but Jeffrey was unfortunately feeling under the weather. So, a relaxing day at home was what was called for. With a little help from Heinen’s prepared foods on the potatoes, we made a delicious grilled chicken dinner (I am obsessed with Cidergeist Bubbles, FYI) and we wound down the weekend quietly.

Also, this weekend I shared my first post as a blogger for Northeast Ohio Parent. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share our great Cleveland adventures on their site. I have found them to be required reading since having Jeffrey, so being a part of their team is truly an honor. You won’t see any changes here at Why CLE, but I’ll give you a heads up when I’m posting there (and if you’re not already familiar with the site, check it out!) 

How was your weekend? Are you feeling the oncoming busy-ness of spring in Cleveland?

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Why? Weekends!

***Note: Thoughts and prayers are with the Godwin family, our local and national law enforcement officers involved in looking for this man, and all those affected by his actions. Please be vigilant and safe. There are several reputable new organizations reporting reliable details on this story. I encourage you to select on your own and to stay informed.***

It was a lovely Easter weekend in Cleveland! On Friday, I took Jeffrey to Playground World for their Easter Egg Hunt.

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While it was really (I mean, really) crowded, the staff at Playground World did a great job at sectioning the Egg Hunt by age groups and keeping everyone organized and safe. It was a really well run, although simultaneously crazy, event!

Friday evening, perhaps seeking some extra zen after the Easter Egg Hunt, I attended an Easter Yoga Workshop at Harmony Yoga. Harmony teacher Kanela led us through a challenging vinyasa flow, mixed with reflections on spirituality and the Easter season. It was a perfect way to center and remember what Easter is all about before the busy weekend ahead!

On Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to the Cleveland Botanical Garden‘s annual Easter Egg Hunt. This is such a lovely event, from the chance to experience Big Spring (still open at the Garden through Sunday, April 23) to fun crafts to seeing the Easter Bunny to the Egg Hunt in the Hershey Children’s Garden.

Jeffrey also loved seeing the Easter Buggy, a hot pink car complete with bunny ears, nose, and tail!

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Saturday evening, we hosted our parents for a traditional Holy Saturday dinner of kielbasa, sauerkraut, and pierogi. So many family holiday traditions center around food and it’s wonderful (and delicious) to be able to keep them alive!

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On Easter Sunday, we divided our time between the families, with brunch with my family and dinner with Matthew’s family. Of course, we took time at home first to inspect all the goodies left by the Easter Bunny!

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Lots of candy and lots of Paw Patrol filled up Jeffrey’s basket this year! He’s understanding more and more about each holiday and really gets excited for each celebration!

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I hope you had a great weekend, whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, or simply the Indians and Cavs various victories!

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Why? Please Touch!

A couple weeks ago, Jeffrey, my mom, and I headed to the Akron Art Museum to see the amazing Please Touch exhibition.

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Please Touch puts aside traditional museum rules of behavior and encourages visitors of all ages to touch all the artwork.

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You can spin the wheels of “Today I Feel” or express yourself on this sweet message board.

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You can experiment with this fun face or move around all these colorful shapes, too.

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Jeffrey also loved the windows with cool critters (AKA the “Horrible Adorables”) inside and fun stories to find.

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All the artists who worked on Please Touch are from the Northeast Ohio region and have created something truly unique, fun, and special for kids of all ages!

Beyond just the exhibition itself, there are tons of fun toys to keep your kids entertained in the beautiful lobby of the Akron Art Museum.

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This was such a wonderful way for Jeffrey to experience art and to feel like a part of it! Please Touch is a gift of the Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation and is open at the Akron Art Museum through July 16. And the Akron Art Museum offers Free Thursdays as a gift of the J.M. Smucker Company, so that’s a great thing to keep in mind as you plan your visit!

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from Yuri’s Night, there was lots of other fun to be had over the weekend! On Friday, as you know, we woke up to this:

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So, it was indoor activities for us! Jeffrey and I met up with one of his little friends for an unofficial birthday celebration at Chuck E Cheese’s. Jeffrey has so much fun playing the games and winning tickets!

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Friday night, in order to try to warm up a bit, I made hatch chile mac ‘n cheese (recipe here), but added in some shrimp too. It was hearty and tasty and definitely helped warm us up!

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On Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. As Jeffrey’s enthusiasm for the holidays increases, it’s always great to find new ways to enjoy the season!

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Aside from getting to meet the bunny, we enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet.

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And we got to visit some of the newest members of the Farmpark, including some 3-day-old lambs!

I am continually impressed by the Farmpark’s events and the Breakfast with the Easter Bunny was no exception! If you want to enjoy Springtime on the Farm, you can check out a wonderful indoor play area, plus lots of new critters through May 7.

On Sunday, Jeffrey and I met up with my parents for brunch at Punch Bowl Social. This gave a whole new meaning to Sunday Funday! Punch Bowl has a great Bloody Mary bar, with Pope’s Kitchen mix and lots of fun fixings.

 

I ordered the blue plate special of shrimp and grits, with tender belly ham and jalapeno. The flavors in this dish were spot on, which is great because it will be joining the Punch Bowl permanent menu toward the end of the month.

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Mom went with the chicken and waffles and I managed to snag a bite. Crispy, sweet, spicy, and so good!

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After we stuffed ourselves, it was time to burn off some of our brunch with a family bowling outing.

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This was Jeffrey’s first time bowling and Punch Bowl made it so easy, with a ramp for rolling the ball and gutters that popped up automatically for his turn (although I could have used them myself, too). We all had a wonderful time and lots of laughs!

I’ve continually been impressed with our experiences at Punch Bowl Social, from the food and drinks to the game options to the hospitality. Stay tuned for a more full description of our morning on Cleveland Plus soon!

We capped off an active and completely lovely weather Sunday with another fun race as part of the Healthy Kids Running Series. And then lots of sleep!

What a great weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I was invited to brunch with my family at Punch Bowl Social in order to write a piece for Cleveland Plus, as well as sharing some thoughts on this blog. Our food, drink, and fun were complimentary. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Universal Architect!

Remember how I was talking a few weeks ago about making connections through social media with like-minded folks doing cool things in Cleveland? Well, no sooner than I said that, another great connection popped up. Angela, the designer behind Universal Architect, reached out for a way to collaborate.

The idea behind Universal Architect’s designs, which are both Cleveland-centric and universal, is that we are the architects of our lives. So, what are we building?

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Photo credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

I love this concept and suggested to Angela that I could be the architect of my perfect Cleveland day. She graciously offered to come along and take pictures (check out her awesome photography work here), all while I modeled some of the Universal Architect clothing.

We started our day at Pour Cleveland, as any perfect day must include a perfect cup of coffee.

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

From a lovely latte to Jeffrey playing “I spy” with the morning rush hour traffic on Euclid Avenue, it was just the right spot to kick off our day.

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

Next up was a stop on East 4th Street, because what Cleveland day is complete without a stroll down this now iconic street with it’s amazing selection of restaurants?!

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

And despite the rain, we had a great time!

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Photo credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

You never know what the weather will be in Cleveland, so you just need to bring your own sunshine!

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography

From there, we visited a couple iconic Cleveland sports locations: the LeBron James sign

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

…and Progressive Field.

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

With just 11 days until Opening Day at the time, excitement was definitely in the air. Sports are such an integral part of the culture of Cleveland that including them in my perfect Cleveland day was a must!

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

We ended our morning at the West Side Market because there’s no better place to experience some of the history and culture of Cleveland.

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

The Market and the renaissance of the West 25th Street/Ohio City area is such a great example of how we can honor our past and build for our future in the same space.

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Photo Credit: Angela Fach Photography, Shirt: Universal Architect

Whether you’re building your perfect day or your perfect life; whether you’re in Cleveland or elsewhere, Universal Architect’s positive messaging is fun, inspirational, easy-going, and uplifting. And what better foundation than those qualities to build upon?

Definitely check out their line of women’s shirts, canvas prints, and their Monthly Intention Shirt Club. We are all the architects of our own lives and we can look so cute while we’re building!

***Disclosure: I connected with Universal Architect via Instagram. When I pitched the idea of being the architect of my perfect Cleveland day, Angela offered to come along to take pictures and provide the attire. I received the image files from our photo shoot, as well as my choice of one Universal Architect shirt. I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun first weekend of April! On Saturday morning, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to see Sesame Street Live at Playhouse Square. We purchased “Sunny Seats,” which not only provide great seats for the show, but also a Meet-and-Greet beforehand.

Jeffrey got to meet Elmo, Grover, and Telly, with lots of hugs, fist bumps, and dancing (on both sides). Seeing his total excitement over getting to meet the characters was the best part of the day!

Then it was on to the show, which was themed “Make a New Friend.” From classic characters and songs to new ones, the show was bright and engaging and filled some sweet and heartfelt lessons.

 

We all had a great time and from the laughter and dancing from the rest of the audience, we weren’t alone in feeling that way!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I attended the fifth annual Mass and a Meal event put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. This mainstay chapter event combines Mass at Holy Rosary in Little Italy with dinner at Nido Italia for a really nice evening! My favorite part of the event is getting to have dinner with other alums, usually people I didn’t know before, and sharing stories and memories of our time at John Carroll.

The food at Nido Italia is always so good, served family-style for our event. We enjoyed breaded eggplant, salad, bread, lemon chicken, cavatelli, and spumoni. We were stuffed! But we couldn’t be that close to Presti’s Bakery and miss a chance to take home a couple cannoli!

If you’re a John Carroll alumni looking to connect at an alumni event, click here for a list of upcoming happenings in Cleveland and beyond!

On Sunday, we hosted friends for brunch. We’ve found brunch is a great time to get people together, but since we wanted to include kiddos and all, it was easier to make brunch in and be able to linger over our bloody mary or mimosa and talk as long as we wanted.

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I made crab, roasted red pepper, and gruyere strata (recipe here) and baked almond French toast (recipe here). These two recipes made me not have to make the always difficult brunch choice of savory or sweet…just have both!

Beyond good food, the company was wonderful! I especially love seeing Alicia‘s daughter Brenna and Jeffrey playing together!

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Sunday afternoon, Jeffrey had his first race in the Healthy Kids Running Series. The program offers a five-week race series, open to ages from 2 through 8th grade. For Jeffrey’s age division, the kids run a 50-yard dash.

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Jeffrey did a great job! Beyond just the race, there’s pre- and post-race stretching and local businesses that provide healthy snacks.

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It’s such a fun activity and a great way to ease into an organized, group sport. I’m excited for next week’s race!

And to counterbalance the healthiness, we made a stop at Rosati’s Frozen Custard on the way home, which just opened for the season this weekend. The Higbee’s Chocolate Malted was calling my name!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Botanical Garden Big Spring!

Spring is slowly coming to the outside world, but while we’re waiting, we can experience all the warmth and beauty of spring at Big Spring at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

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From the moment you walk into the Garden, you can smell the beautiful flowers. And then you look up and see these whimsical flower umbrellas scattered throughout the lobby.

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It feels bright and welcoming and exactly how Spring should. If you head into the Garden of Fun, there’s a ladybug maze (with a train this year…it’s like the knew Jeffrey was coming), the Mad Hatter’s tea party, Toadstool Dress-Up Theater, and fun paddle boats to sail. This area is perfect for little ones to explore and enjoy!

 

There’s also the Discovery Log, with little critters to see, as well as a fairy garden and some areas on hands-on exploration upstairs.

For the grown-ups, the beautiful flowers, butterfly releases, and oversized chess and checkers games will charm you. Weather-permitting, there are also outdoor activities planned in the Hershey Children’s Garden.

Big Spring is happening at the Garden from now through Sunday, April 23. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 3-12, and free for children 2 and under, as well as members of the Cleveland Botanical Garden. The Garden is open 10am-5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 10am-9pm on Wednesdays, and 12-5pm on Sundays.

Come experience the wonder of Spring, even before the outside world catches up to it!

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Why? Every Bean Boutique!

One of the toughest parts of raising a child is trying to let them be who they are without society’s expectations and roles boxing them in. Jeffrey has always naturally gravitated toward cars and trucks, blues and greens…typical “boy” things. But he has plenty of girl friends his age who would go toe-to-toe with him in a Hot Wheels race.

The other day, Jeffrey picked out a toy for himself at the store: a stuffed Rainbow Brite horse (Starlite!). When the woman ringing us out asked if this was for my daughter, I was shocked. It’s a horse. With a rainbow mane. If that’s not cool regardless of gender, I don’t know what is. Besides, how much does this child of the 80’s love that my kid owns something Rainbow Brite? A lot. That’s how much.

So, you can imagine how much the ungendered message of Every Bean Boutique resonated with me.

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I’m going to let Nikki Yeager, the mom and entrepreneur behind Every Bean Boutique, tell you about it in her own words (my questions are in bold and Nikki’s answers are in italics):

Tell me about Every Bean Boutique. How did you get started?

I have an 18 month old son at home and I love hand-me-downs. We have an equal mix of boy and girl hand-me-downs and always dressed our son in whatever was most comfortable, most practical and/or most fun. To us, it didn’t matter what he was wearing because clothing isn’t, by nature, gendered. It’s just fabric meant to serve a purpose (warmth, shelter, etc.) and we favored the options that served that purpose best. 
When we started getting negative comments from other parents and even our own family members, we realized how big of an issue we’ve made dressing children in “gender appropriate” clothing. I want to remove that categorization. My son loves to wear headbands like me and shoes like his dad. That doesn’t mean anything about him besides the fact he thinks his parents are cool and wants to dress like us. 

I want every kid who would like to express himself/herself through clothing to have a brand that allows them to do just that. Parents who would like high quality clothing options, regardless of the sex of their child, should also have a place to find that. In my mind, the majority of kids like tutus. Bodysuits are always a good idea for infants and toddlers. And yes, even little girls should have pockets to put cheerios and rocks in. So I set out to make all of those items and present them in a way that didn’t exclude any children or parents from purchasing.

What has been the response to Every Bean’s message? 

So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive which is a little surprising because I had anticipated more push back. What’s the most interesting part of engaging with customers about our mission is seeing who is most touched by our message. I started Every Bean assuming I’d be appeal almost exclusively to parents who were young, liberal and primarily living on the coasts. What I’ve found is the opposite — the most enthusiastic fans have been middle aged, Midwestern women who have grown children and are now buying products for their grand kids. For example, one woman told me a story of her now adult, married son who wore pink, purple, green, blue, yellow… really, every color when he was young. He got a lot of joy out of expressing himself with weird, bright clothing. One day she took him to a store to pick up some new clothing and he stood in front of a girls’ clothing rack for about 10 minutes starting. Finally, he pulled himself away and said “Oh! Mommy, I get it. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys!”. He never wore pink again. He was a five year old boy and because we force this idea of gendered clothing on our children, he had to give up one of the things he got joy from. At five years old! 

What are some of your most popular items?

Our popular items depend largely on where people find our brand. People who shop online love our one-piece bodysuits. Everyone seems to be split on the “Anything I want to be” and “So many colors in the rainbow” design. However, anyone who sees our products in person loves the tutus. I’ve had a really hard time finding a way to photograph them in a flattering light, but their quality speaks for themselves in person. Plus, who makes an adjustable tutu?! Almost no one else. 

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Where can we buy Every Bean products?

Right now you can buy our products online at everybean.boutique or contact me directly at everybeanboutique@gmail.com and I can put you in touch with one of several Sales Consultants who sell Every Bean directly to consumers. For those of you who prefer traditional shopping, we’re in discussions with two Cleveland boutiques right now to carry our products and we’ll announce those as soon as our products hit their shelves.

Tell me your Cleveland story. What do you love about the city? Favorite places to go, with or without your son?

I grew up on the East Side and am incredibly thankful for my upbringing. Because Cleveland is a relatively small city, I found it easy to explore my interests and find support for my different projects early on. It’s much easier getting attention when you’re in a smaller pool of people!

Now that I’m a grown up, I moved to Ohio City where we found a lot with two houses on it and I have to say, I adore the price of real estate here. I’ve spent some time in NYC and it gave me a very different level of appreciation for what I can get for my money in Cleveland. We moved my parents and grandma into one house and me, my husband and baby into the other so we all live in one spot now. I don’t know any other city where we’d be able to both afford and find that type of living situation. It’s incredible to have so much family around to help when you have a little one. 

As for favorite places to go, I spend a lot of time by myself working from coffee shops. In particular, Phoenix Coffee and Passenger’s Cafe in Ohio City. When I’m with the baby, we almost exclusively go to The Big Egg on the Detroit Shoreway. It’s just a little diner with cheap food, but the women there have nearly adopted my son. They know him by name and treat him like a king when he arrives. Whenever we walk over, you’d think he was headed to Disney World based on his excitement level. 

What’s next for Every Bean Boutique?

Pants! Actually, if anyone reads this knows someone who can do small batch manufacturing/construction of baby goods, please let me know. We have a design for soft cotton pants with cargo pockets (because for some reasons my son had pockets on literally every pair of pants he had, but my friend’s baby daughter started seeing fake-pockets by 9 months) and leggings in outrageous patterns. 

We’re hoping to expand our physical presence in both boutiques and medium size stores and eventually, on a larger scale, make retailers reconsider how they arrange and market clothing to children. A simple redesign of most stores’ displays could create a free environment for kids to pick up any clothing they like, rather than what they’re being told is “appropriate”. When we communicate with anyone who is helping to promote or sell our brand, we always offer educational material on how to present clothing in a non-gendered way and how to discuss that concept with consumers. Hopefully we’ll eventually see a fundamental change in how clothing is sold. 

I hope Nikki’s enthusiasm and positive message resonate with you as much as they do with me. I’m only sorry I can’t squeeze Jeffrey into those onesies anymore! And to give you even more incentive to head on over to Every Bean Boutique for your little or someone else’s, here’s an 10% discount code: just enter code LAUNCH10 at checkout!

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Thanks to Nikki for sharing her story with me and for doing such awesome things in the CLE!
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Why? Weekends!

The luck o’ the Irish was with us for a fun weekend! On Friday morning, a leprechaun visited our house and left these adorable sugar cookies (from Luna Bakery & Cafe) as a more fun, festive breakfast option.

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I love how excited Jeffrey gets about holidays at this age! It makes celebrating them a lot of fun. And while our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have changed from bar-hopping…

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Back in the day…

to cookies for breakfast and dinner with my parents, we can still have a good time (and corned beef, beer, and an Irish coffee for dessert).

On Saturday morning, my friend Tracy and I met up for a SkyFit class at SkyZone. This was quite a tough workout that combined cardio, strength training (thanks for the arm strength, yoga!), and stretching, all on the trampolines. While I’m not sure this will be a regular in my workout rotation, it was a fun way to spend an hour and I always appreciate a friend who’s willing to try something new!

Saturday afternoon, we took Jeffrey to his first Easter egg hunt of the season (already?) at the Broadview Heights Rec Center.

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The aquatic Easter egg hunt had plastic eggs floating in the pool that the kids could grab while splashing through the water (and since registration was divided by age, it was easy and safe for the kids). The eggs were traded in for a seasonal goodie bag with bubbles, stickers, and more.

Plus, after the egg hunt, we got to meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy juice and cookies, and make a craft, too.

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As I mentioned, Jeffrey is getting so much more excited about each holiday, so this was a fun way to kick off the Easter season!

On Sunday, Jeffrey’s weekend of fun and sweets-eating continued with his friend’s birthday party. The party was PJ Masks-themed. I definitely wasn’t up on this, but the characters are super cute, particularly my little super hero!

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We had a fun, family-centered weekend. Now we’re just ready for some warmer, dryer weather! How was your weekend? Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a weekend filled with eating, shopping, and yoga, which is pretty perfect, if you ask me! On Friday, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I met up with Matthew’s dad for a traditional Lenten fish fry at St. John Vianney church.

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Fish fries are everywhere in Cleveland this time of year, but the church ones, with homemade food and friendly little old ladies tend to be my favorite. We enjoyed breaded fish, mac ‘n cheese, pierogi, and more.

From there, I headed to a special Balance & Brews event at Athleta. Aside from a great one-hour practice, we also got a chance to save 25% off on all the merchandise in the store.

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As is only appropriate for our weather lately, I bought both a puffer coat and a sundress. Balance, indeed.

On Saturday, we took Jeffrey to another show as part of the Children’s Theater Series at Playhouse Square. We saw Dino-Light, a magical and heartwarming tale presented by Lightwire Theater.

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I loved how Jeffrey was really engaged with the story and is still talking about some of the characters. There is something so special about live theater and to have a way to experience that with your children in an environment designed for them is really wonderful.

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Then, it was off to meet up with my friend Sara at Banyan Tree for a trunk show for the local activewear line of Grace & Ricci.

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The line is versatile, comfortable, and made to go easily from out-and-about wear to workout right to your washing machine. Their motto of #SweatWithGrace certainly seems to be true. You can sweat with grace and style, too!

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And while Saturday’s event was a one-time trunk show, you can regularly purchase Grace & Ricci online or at Cleveland Yoga Beachwood.

Sunday, I spent my afternoon at a yoga workshop focused specifically on balance poses at Harmony Studios. These poses have always been a challenge for me, so I really appreciated the chance to take a deeper dive into how to do the poses and keep my focus and composure.

Plus, the workshop was taught by one of my favorite and long-time teachers, Michael, which added a level of trust and understanding to the process that was really helpful.

 

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I see you Half Moon. And I got you.

 

What a great way to end my weekend/start the new week! How was your weekend? Do you have a favorite local fish fry that you enjoyed?

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