Why? 2018!

2018 was, well, a year. To be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve on a good year and this year was more challenging than most. I’m having a hard time separating the bad from the good, so I’m mostly just ready to welcome a new beginning.

But when I look back on it, there were certainly fun moments in 2018, along with a lot of growth, strengthening of relationships, and deepening of commitments.

In 2018, we ate…

…we drank…

…we traveled…

…I yoga-ed and barre-d…

 

…we sported…

 

…we got cultured…

 

…and we got to the Point.

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We loved…

 

…and lost.

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And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.

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It’s been a hell of a year and while I’m honestly not sad to see it go, I do hope the lessons, the growth, and the friendships stay with me into 2019.

May the New Year land softly, however you may feel about 2018. XO

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a pretty quiet end to 2017 over here. Here’s the weekend recap:

Yoga Roots and barre3

I ended 2017 and kicked off 2018 with my two favorite workouts in my two favorite places to do them: Yoga Roots and barre3. Yoga Roots helped me send out 2017 with a fabulous flow in their studio with marvelously heated floors. And barre3 started my 2018 with their “b3 All In” kick off.

It’s definitely an evolution for me to want to end one year and start another centered around workouts. But I’m committed to keeping both fitness spots part of my new year!

New Year’s Eve Party

On New Year’s Eve, we all went to a party hosted by our friends Jason and Patty. This casual, kid-friendly New Year’s Eve gathering let everyone from kids to grown-ups ring in 2018 together.

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I made Buffalo Chicken Dip for the party (similar recipe here) and we also munched on some really tasty pizza from Longo’s. Jeffrey actually stayed up until midnight to yell “Happy New Year!” and pop some confetti poppers. It was a fun way to ring in 2018!

The rest of the weekend was spent staying warm…

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…visiting family…

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…and getting ready to resume a regular, post-holiday routine this week. Jeffrey feels the way all of us do about that.

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How did you ring in 2018?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a wonderful Christmas weekend, filled with family and friends and presents and food!

Cupcakes and a Story

On Friday, Matthew and I met up with friends at White Flower Cake Shoppe for their Cupcakes and a Story event. We got to hear a sweet winter story, as well as see how to decorate 4 different Christmas cupcakes.

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While our decorated cupcakes never look quite as good as the originals, they sure are fun and tasty to make!

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Cookie Baking

From cupcakes to cookies, we spent most of our day on Saturday baking cookies and wrapping presents. I try to make everyone in the family their favorite type of cookie, so we had lots of varities from shortbread to thumbprints to double chocolate peppermint.

And Jeffrey was my best helper…or taste-tester, I should say!

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Christmas

We’re lucky to have both of our families in town and to be able to split the time between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with everyone.

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We all got lots of great presents under the tree! Jeffrey loved his sled (and then we got enough snow to actually use it)…

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And my mom continued her tradition of buying Jeffrey musical instruments (and then sending them home with us).

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Jeffrey also scored big with some of his favorite character toys: PAW Patrol and Cars. His excitement for Christmas this year and his enthusiasm as he opened each present was really wonderful to see!

Matthew got a couple beer-themed gifts, which is perfect in such an awesome beer city! We both can’t wait to read “Cleveland Beer” and this Cleveland wooden six-pack holder from Wood ‘n What Knot (available at Merchant’s Mrkt) is perfect for parties!

My mom loved this custom cutting board that I got from Lovely Paperie & Gifts. It has a handwritten recipe from my great grandmother laser cut on it. These cutting boards are such a unique and touching way to showcase a recipe!

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Speaking of cutting boards, check out this awesome board from my brother-in-law!

And I of course got a little sparkle…

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…and a little Cleveland, which is always the perfect combo for me!

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Is it Opening Day yet?! 

Hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend and enjoy a nice week before round two of holiday celebrating!

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Why? Lucky Number 7!

Today is a dual birthday: my grandfather turns 93 and Why CLE? turns 7. And one has no idea what the other one is!

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So, first and foremost, happy birthday, Gramps! From WWII to the Cleveland Police force to helping raise me, so much of his life has been spent in service. That kind of commitment is inspirational. And I love that he and Jeffrey have a relationship! Jeffrey is lucky to have that!

As for the blog, truly, I can’t believe it’s been seven years. So much has changed since I started writing, for Cleveland, for myself, and for the blogging medium.

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When I started this blog, Cleveland wasn’t on the national scene as a must-visit place. As most of you know, the title of the blog came from the idea of having to explain why I moved back to Cleveland to people who lived here.

When Why CLE? began, all the pieces for Cleveland’s amazing renaissance were starting to fall into place, but to see the arc of it over the last seven years has been remarkable and inspiring. I don’t get asked Why CLE? nearly as much anymore, but I keep telling you why because preaching to the choir is how you get them to sing.

As for me, this blog has followed my own arc. Much like Cleveland, the pieces were starting to fall into place for my own personal renaissance when I started the blog. But even I couldn’t imagine all the things life would bring, from marriage to motherhood to an ever-evolving career path.

The blog has adapted to this arc and I am so grateful for being able to grow and change, yet still maintain your readership and interest.

The blogging medium has changed too. Instagram wasn’t on the radar when Why CLE? started and attention spans were a wee bit bigger than they are even now. For me, I’ll always be drawn to the longer-form writing, to content that supports the pithy social media posts (which absolutely have value and are fun in their own right).

I guess all this is to say that, as I look back, there’s been a lot of changes over the last seven years, but I am so grateful to still be here, in my little corner of the Internet, chatting with you. The readers, the friendships, the insanely amazing experiences, and the chance to deepen my love and appreciation for this incredible city are things I don’t ever take for granted.

As a small token of my appreciation, I have a Cleveland mystery box giveaway for you. There are some great things in the mystery box, including restaurant gift cards and fun local products.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment here introducing yourself. Maybe I know you already, but it’s always nice to know who my readers are and a little bit about why you’re here.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, December 17 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day.

Good luck! And thank you for an awesome lucky seven years!

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Why? Weekends!

It was a fun and busy pre-Halloween weekend! Here’s what we were up to:

Story Time and Cupcakes

On Friday morning, Jeffrey and I attended a sweet event at White Flower Cake Shoppe in Solon. We were treated to two Halloween stories…

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…and instruction on how to decorate Halloween cupcakes with White Flower’s famous and fabulous buttercream icing.

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Each child attending received 4 cupcakes to decorate.

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And while ours didn’t quite look like the example cupcakes…

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…they were still VERY tasty!

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Story Time and Cupcakes was only $10 and was a fun and unique activity. The next Story Time and Cupcakes is scheduled for Friday, December 22 with a holiday theme. Click here to learn more!

Playhouse Square Children’s Theater Series: Hansel and Gretel

For the second year, we bought tickets for the Playhouse Square Children’s Theater Series. The Series includes 4 shows between October and May. The shows are age-appropriate in theme and length and are a great way to introduce children to live theater.

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The first show of the Series was “Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat.” The show was fun and engaging, with lots of great musical numbers, creative costumes and sets, and a talented cast. This was Jeffrey’s first exposure to a true musical and he almost immediately asked if he could get up and dance during the show!

Tickets are still available for the other three shows in the series: “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” in January, “The Gruffalo” in March, and “Guess How Much I Love You and I Love My Little Storybook” in May. If you have a child that you want to introduce to the theater, this is the perfect way to do it!

Willoughby Brewing Company

After the show, we stopped for lunch at Willoughby Brewing Company. Matthew and I always enjoy their in-house craft brews (he had the classic Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter and I had the Pumpkin Ale) and Jeffrey enjoys the trains and cheeseburgers!

Matthew ordered the BrewCo Burger, with bacon jam, fried egg, marinated tomatoes, and beer cheese.

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It was messy and delicious!

I had the lemon garlic parmesan shrimp pasta, with a generous amount of shrimp, red peppers, spinach, and pappardelle.

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It was light and flavorful! We all enjoyed our post-show lunch!

John Carroll University Homecoming and Family Weekend

On Sunday, we all headed up to my alma mater, John Carroll University for Mass and brunch as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend. I always love having Jeffrey up on campus running around my old stomping grounds! This time, he tried to open up my old mailbox.

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I had the worst mailbox location!

If you’re an alum in the Cleveland area, join the Cleveland Alumni Chapter for a social at Terrestrial Brewing Company on Thursday, November 16 starting at 5:30pm. Registration is free and there will be complimentary appetizers and a cash bar. Click here to learn more and register.

Halloween Party

From there, we had more Halloween fun in store for Jeffrey. My grandfather recently moved into an assisted living facility, which hosted a Halloween party for the families of the residents. There was trick or treating, a piñata, and pizza, punch, and cookies.

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But the best part was seeing Jeffrey have quality time with his great grandfather! Jeffrey is lucky enough to still have two great grandfathers and time with them is so valuable and enriching.

So, that was our weekend! Are you ready for Halloween? Like us, are you already on candy overload?!

***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? Weekends!

We capped off a busy, wonderful holiday season this weekend and rang in 2017! And I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of ready to get back on a normal routine, as fun as the holidays were.

But before normalcy returns, we have one more holiday weekend to talk about. Friday afternoon, I met up with my friend Adrienne who was in town from Colorado. I was able to snag a bit of time with her during her busy visit. And I couldn’t think of a better spot to take her than The Greenhouse Tavern.

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We ordered the always-amazing chicken wing confit (even more amazing when on happy hour for only $9) and I got my favorite rose prosecco that they serve, while Adrienne went for the Greenhouse Ale on happy hour special. The Greenhouse Tavern is such a great representation of Cleveland’s fabulous food scene, plus any chance to show off East 4th Street is also fantastic. It was the perfect spot to catch up!

From there, I made a quick stop by Nadine‘s house for some long overdue in-person catching up, then it was off to a family holiday party. I was the only person attending from my branch of the family tree and I finally felt like a grown-up, sitting around the table drinking, laughing, and getting filled in on everyone’s everything.

Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I headed to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their Noon Year’s Eve Party. I was even more excited to be there when I found out that it was kicking off the Cleveland Metroparks centennial year. I can’t wait to see all the things the Emerald Necklace has in store to celebrate!

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The weather was chilly but manageable and it was nice to be able to take a spin around the outdoor parts of the zoo. The tigers were particularly active and I caught this amazing picture of Jeffrey with one of the beautiful cats.

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I’ve said it before, but the Rosebrough Tiger Passage is truly extraordinary! And during the New Year’s countdown, the zoo’s director, Dr. Chris Kuhar, teased that there will be another new cat exhibit coming in 2017!

Back to the Noon Year’s Eve festivities, the kids could make party hats and share their re”zoo”lutions (ways to help animals and the planet in the next year), have a dance party, and participate in a noon countdown with tons of confetti and fun.

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It was a really great way to involve Jeffrey in celebrating the new year, since keeping him up until midnight would be nothing short of craziness!

As for Matthew and I, after a quick stop with Jeffrey at a friend’s house for a New Year’s party, we spent the evening at home with a fancy dessert (prepared by Matthew), some prosecco, and “The Secret Life of Pets” (a must-watch, for real).

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It was a low-key New Year’s Eve (we made it to midnight, though!) and frankly a wonderful way to bring in 2017!

On Sunday, we went over to my parents’ house for dinner. Typically, my mom makes the traditional Eastern European pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut. But this year, she spun the tradition and made a standing pork roast with apple pecan stuffing and mashed potatoes.

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It was incredibly delicious and I think everyone, even my grandpa, liked this new take on the traditional New Year’s meal.

So, that was our weekend! I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about the way we sent out 2016 and welcomed 2017. How was yours?

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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.

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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!

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

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…we had an audience with Santa…

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

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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.

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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.***

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Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Joanne (Comment #76), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Our Lady of the Wayside’s Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It was a great weekend and the perfect mix of relaxation and busy-ness. On Friday, Mom, Gramps, Jeffrey, and I went to one of our favorite fish fry spots: Ridgewood Inn. A dive bar, for sure, but also one of the tastiest fish fries you’ll find.

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There aren’t many places that can keep 4 generations of customers happy at the same time. I ordered the beer-battered yellow lake perch and substituted potato pierogi instead of french fries. The fish was good, but it’s the pierogi that really steal the show at Ridgewood Inn. Pan-fried and smothered in onions, they are little pillows of Polish happiness. Gramps insists they taste like the ones his mother used to make, so you know they have to be good.

Saturday was a mainly around-the-house kind of day, with a little bit of yoga at Harmony Yoga thrown in the morning. That afternoon, we took Jeffrey up to Great Lakes Mall for his first visit with the Easter Bunny. As Jeffrey is starting to get to the “stranger danger” age, I wasn’t sure how it would go. Luckily, there were no tears and, after a couple minutes, he broke into his signature Jeffrey smile.

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It was a great first visit with his new furry, floppy-eared friend! I was glad we were allowed to take pictures with our own cameras too, so we have the whole progression of settling in and making friends with the bunny.

On Sunday, Matthew and I enjoyed a date afternoon. We started out with seeing “Dirty Dancing” at Playhouse Square.

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We got our tickets through the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. If you’re a local alum, the Chapter offers discounted tickets to various Playhouse Square performances throughout the season. Coming up on Sunday, April 25 is Beauty and the Beast and on Sunday, August 2 is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

I really enjoyed the production of “Dirty Dancing.” It was very true to the movie, in all its cheesy, romantic glory. And you could tell the audience were all fans of the movie, especially given the applause at classic lines like, “I carried a watermelon” and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

After the show, Matthew and I headed across the street for an early dinner at Cibreo.

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I enjoyed the 1921 cocktail, with Prosecco, St. Germain, and local honey, which was sweet without being overly sweet. Matthew and I shared the bruschetta, with wild mushrooms, marsala, and Pecorino.

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Both the taste and the presentation were fantastic! For our entrees, I had the ricotta gnocchi, with duck, brodo, candied carrots, greens, parsnips, and Pecorino. The gnocchi were light and a great compliment to the rich flavor of the duck.

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Matthew had the chestnut ravioli, with leek cream, prosciutto, and cherry gastrique. The pasta dishes at Cibreo are smaller, meant to be part of a coursed meal. With an appetizer and dessert, I think they are the perfect size.

Which brings me to dessert. Matthew had the chocolate panna cotta, with white chocolate shavings and candied orange. I had the classic tiramisu. Both were delicious and great ends to a very tasty meal.

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We’re so lucky to not only have world-class theater in Cleveland, but a thriving neighborhood surrounding it that allows you to make the perfect date afternoon all in one place.

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the boards of both the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter and Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win some cool items from local makers in my blogiversary giveaway? Check it out!***

I feel like there’s always one week in December that has all the pre-holiday madness crammed into it. This past week/weekend was it for us! So busy, but so fun! On Friday night, Matthew and I got all fancied up to attend my company’s holiday party.

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I love any excuse to get dressed up! The event was held at Lorain County Community College, which I did not know had an event space, but really did a lovely job with venue and food. It was a fun night celebrating a great year for the company and enjoying drinks, laughs, and even some dancing with my coworkers.

Saturday morning, I needed some detox to be able to keep up all the holiday plans, so I met up with my friend Chrissy at Evolution Yoga for Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow class. The class was the perfect kickstart to my day! I’m being reminded more and more how much even a semi-regular yoga practice enhances my life. Definitely adding that to the New Year’s resolution list!

That evening, Matthew, my parents, and I had an evening at Playhouse Square planned. We started with dinner at Hofbrauhaus.

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The interest in Hofbrauhaus shows no sign of slowing down! We arrived at 5:30 and waited a bit over an hour for a table. But the line moved fairly quickly and the tents over the patio, plus the option to buy beer outside kept everyone warm and in good spirits.

We snagged a great table, right near the band, who played everything from traditional polkas to “Margaritaville,” which sounds a bit different on an accordion!

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The patrons were loud and festive and the whole meal was a true experience. It’s definitely more than just the food when you go to Hofbrauhaus! That said, we did enjoy some very tasty schnitzel, pretzels, and sauerkraut balls.

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Stuffed and happy, we headed on to see “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the State Theatre.

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White Christmas is my must-watch-every-year Christmas movie and I expected to see the movie that I have memorized brought to life on the stage. While many parts were the same, there were story and song differences that surprised me.

While the show closed in Cleveland on Sunday, there are still lots of ways you can celebrate the season at Playhouse Square:

The theaters are beautifully decorated, as is the outdoor Playhouse Square area, so head on down and get in the Christmas spirit with a show and some pretty decorations!

Sunday morning, Jeffrey strolled through his first 5K at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.

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We met up with the other members of #TeamGrinchPaws (Alicia, Hans, Grady, Drew, and Lisa) at Legacy Village for this fun event.

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People were decked out in festive clothes, there was a merry elf working his way along the course, and we checked out some ice sculptures too!

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Best of all, the festive fitness fun benefited the Arthritis Foundation! Thanks to #TeamGrinchPaws for getting us out and moving on a Sunday morning!

To wrap up the weekend o’ holiday busy-ness, we headed over to my parents’ house to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday! What a milestone!

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Happy birthday, Gramps!

How was your weekend? Are you feeling the pre-holiday busy-ness?

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Why? Jeffrey’s Baptism!

Sunday was a big day as we celebrated Jeffrey’s baptism. The ceremony was held at St. John Vianney by the same priest who performed Matthew’s and my marriage ceremony.

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We were so lucky to have both sides of our family able to attend this special day.

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Jeffrey did really well throughout the whole ceremony and didn’t cry one bit when the water was poured over his head! All the practicing in the bath paid off!

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Our wonderful godparents (all six of ’em!) were all in attendance and we’re so grateful for their already strong presence in Jeffrey’s life!

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After the ceremony, we headed to Match Works Tavern for Jeffrey’s first official party. We had a room off their patio and the staff made it a lovely afternoon for all of us. We enjoyed strawberry spinach salad, grilled veggies, cheese, hummus, and chicken salad croissants.

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We also had a delicious white and chocolate layer cake with chocolate mousse filling from Cakes to You. And my Mom added to the sweetness with personalized M&M’s as party favors!

IMG_8299All in all, it was a truly lovely afternoon celebrating our wonderful little man! Thanks to everyone who helped make it so special!

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