Why? Happy Birthday, Jeffrey!

Every cliche about time flying and children growing up so fast is true.

Photo Credit: Lane Baldwin Photography

It is unbelievable that it’s been three years since you were born, Jeffrey.

Photo Credit: Lane Baldwin Photography

I am amazed by your intelligence and curiosity; I am sustained by your love; I am made hopeful for our future by your kindness; I am challenged by your growing pains; I am inspired by your openness to everything the world has to offer.


This currently says it all for me. I am and always will be so proud of you, my best buddy.

Happiest of birthdays with all of my heart.



Why? Weekends!

What a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! We kicked things off on Friday with a family overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky.

Jeffrey loves water parks and it’s always so fun to see as he grows that he’s able to enjoy more and more at the park. Great Wolf Lodge’s water park is great for toddlers, with several slides, a lazy river, and a splash pool that are all perfect for his size.

Our room was the family log cabin, which let Jeffrey have his own private section of the room, which was not only fun but functional.


Aside from the water park, we also spent time at the Northern Lights Arcade. Jeffrey had a blast playing the games and winning lots of tickets! This was a great place to go after dinner or before the water park opened the next day.


Speaking of dinner, we had both of our meals at the Gitchigoomie Grill, which offers a nice menu of family-friendly favorites. Jeffrey enjoyed the grilled cheese and cheeseburger. Matthew’s and my favorites were the mac ‘n cheese with smoked sausage and bacon and the brisket sandwich with onion straws and horseradish sauce.

And while you’re at it, stop by Baskets to get some fruity blender drinks while the kiddos enjoy the water!


Great Wolf Lodge is really great for family’s with younger kids. From accessible food menus to a water park with lots of age-appropriate fun to tons of extra activities like story time, dance parties, and kids yoga to wolf ears at check-in, the entire experience was a great time for all of us!


On Sunday, Matthew surprised me with a decadent Mother’s Day brunch at Fahrenheit. Since Fahrenheit began brunch service in March, I’ve been dying to try this new menu at one of my favorite restaurants.


First, let’s discuss the amazing cocktail line-up, from several varieties of mimosas and bellinis to creative Bloody Marys. I had the Grand Cava, with Grand Marnier, Cava, and fresh raspberry.

Next up, the Marcona almond sticky buns. Holy layers of breakfast sweet goodness!


We also shared the chicken sausage with roasted apples, which added a nice touch of savory to all the sweet!


For my brunch, there was no doubt what I was going to order: the jumbo Cap’N Crunch pancakes with vanilla milk reduction and maple syrup.


I am a cereal fiend and the combination of this breakfast classic cereal with light fluffy pancakes and that milk reduction…perfection!

What was even sweeter was sharing the day (and the entire weekend) with my wonderful family and feeling surrounded by love and happiness (and Cap’n Crunch and Cava.)


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!


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


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!


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!


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!


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


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.


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


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.***


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.


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…

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.


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.


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?


Why? Barre3 Solon!

On Valentine’s Day, I had a chance to start the day with a little self-love by taking a class at Barre3 Solon. The studio was all decked out for the holiday and our teacher, Elizabeth, made love for your body and mind a central focus of the class.


I’ve taken a handful of barre classes, but it had been awhile since I had taken one. So I really appreciated Elizabeth’s detailed explanations of the postures and moves, as well as offering a range of options and modifications for each posture.

What usually keeps me away from or makes me not want to repeat a new workout is feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing and can’t possibly keep up (Zumba, I’m looking at you). So, being able to walk into a relatively new-to-me class and feel welcome, comfortable, and like this was something I could get a handle on was really valuable.

Not only did Barre3 Solon make me feel welcome, but they made Jeffrey feel right at home, too!


They have a beautifully-appointed play area that is staffed during the morning classes, so you can get your workout in, while your kiddo has some fun! Scheduling workout time can be a challenge, as any mom knows, so a place that offers the ability to get in your workout and ensure that your child is happy is just awesome!

The play area is not the only beautifully-appointed part of the studio. From the retail area to the complimentary water, coffee, and oranges to the towel service to the bathrooms that offer a full compliment of toiletries to freshen up after sweating at the barre, this is a great space!

I will confess to being sore for a day or two after the class, but the good kind of sore. The kind of sore that means I worked hard. While I don’t know that anything will ever replace yoga as my go-to activity, I really liked what Barre3 provided not only in the workout, but in the environment. And we all know that changing up your workout routine and using different muscles is good thing. If you want to give it a whirl, just meet me at the barre!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Barre3 Solon to take a complimentary class of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


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.


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!


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.


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.


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).


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.


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?


Why? Best of 2016!

So, I think a lot of us are feeling like 2016 was long and filled with a lot of negativity. But here’s the thing…like any year, there was both good and bad. And frankly, while I think there’s a lot to learn from some of the not so good things that happened this year, I’d much rather focus on the good for now.

I wanted to share my personal Best of 2016, Cleveland-style:

Best Trend


People catching on to Cleveland’s fabulousness. The RNC, the NBA Finals, and the World Series shined an almost perpetual spotlight on our town this year. And we shone right back.

Best New Hangout

Cleveland Public Square is back this year and is an absolutely amazing gathering space! From the summer fountains and colorful critters to the Christmas tree and skating rink, it’s all happening in the Square!

Best Perpetual Hangout


Oh, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, you have my heart. It has been suggested that I live there. I do not. But I would.

Best Sports Moment(s)

It’s honestly a toss-up for me between the Cavs winning the NBA Championship and Game 7 of the World Series, which might not have had the outcome we wanted, but had everything you could ask for in terms of excitement.

Best New Restaurant(s)

So many great additions to our dining scene in 2016! Mabel’s BBQ is everything a Cleveland restaurant should be: hearty, meaty, casual, and unpretentious, with just a bit of “yeah, an Iron Chef cooked this, you gotta a problem with that?” And The Plum Cafe and Kitchen is inventive and delicious and as pretty as it is tasty.

Best New Attraction


The Rosebrough Tiger Passage at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened in June 2016. It is really beautiful and allows for an amazing, up-close experience with the tigers. Our Zoo just keeps getting better and better!

Best Staycation


We went to Kalahari this past February and had a great time! If you’re looking for somewhere close by to get a splash of summer, I highly recommend it!

Best Vacation



Best Photo Opp


I love the script Cleveland signs that popped up around town this year! Instagram away!

Best Birthday Party


The Cleveland Museum of Art celebrated its centennial year in 2016 with a lot of fanfare, including (my first) Solstice that packed this incredible Cleveland institution.

Best Birthday Party Runners-Up

Jeffrey’s second birthday and my thirty-fifth were both memorable and fun and wonderful!

Best New Business(es)

I love everything about GroundSwell Collective, from the practice space to the instructors to the philosophy to seeing it’s backstory on “Cleveland Hustles.” It’s been an awesome addition to Gordon Square this year! And Merchant’s Mrkt is just a great concept: local small businesses coming together to share space and sell their wares collectively.

Best Volunteer Opportunities

I’ve been honored to work with Playhouse Square Partners, the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter, and the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala Committee this year.

Best Thing I Never Thought I Would Do


When Be Studios invited me to come in for a pole dancing class, I did what any girl would do: I rounded up some of my favorite ladies, threw on my glitter booties, and went for it! But I think the bigger part of that was feeling that I’ve grown a lot this year in my self-confidence and my ability to show that.

Best Cleveland Day


It was hot and long and crazy and worth every minute to attend the Cavs Championship Parade. And even more than seeing the players and the trophy, I loved seeing how everyone came together and how happy and kind we all were to each other. And the confetti. The confetti was cool.

Best Jeffrey Day


Jeffrey’s first day of school was really hard, but also really wonderful. I can’t believe how he’s grown in confidence and independence and how proud I am of him! Every day with him contains wonder and happiness, but this is the biggest stand-out from 2016.

Just the Best

What would make your Best of 2016 List? Take a moment to acknowledge the best of the year almost gone by! Here’s to an even more fabulous 2017!

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners and the President of the John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter. I have been invited to complimentary events mentioned in this post at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Be Studios. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

Phew! We made it through Christmas! It was busy and fun and filled with lots of great family time.

We spend Christmas Eve with my family and enjoy a traditional Eastern European meatless meal of breaded fish, mashed potatoes, and creamed peas. We have this meal once a year and we all find ourselves craving it!

We also share the traditional Polish Christmas wafer, called oplatek, before the meal. NPR recently did an article about these and I was so happy to read about how this tradition carries on beyond just our home (article here).


My mom also found Jeffrey the most adorable reindeer cake from Michael Angelo’s Bakery. Jeffrey has been nuts for watching the original “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” this year, so this cake was the perfect treat for him!


We went to Mass at St. Basil the Great, which hands-down has one of the best music ministry programs around! Then it was home to get Jeffrey in bed and prepare for Santa’s arrival.


One of the things Jeffrey asked Santa for this year was a hippopotamus (gotta love that song)! So, since Santa can make all wishes come true, Jeffrey got his hippo in the form of our dog Tobey dressed as a hippo.



This was by far my favorite Christmas present for Jeffrey, even though Tobey was less than thrilled with his situation.

Jeffrey’s big gift this year was a Step 2 Lifestyle Deluxe Kitchen. Jeffrey has already been busy making “cookie coffee,” pizza, and tacos for us in his new kitchen. I love toys that encourage imaginative play and can grow with Jeffrey for years to come. This definitely fits that bill!


Christmas afternoon, we had dinner and more presents at Matthew’s dad’s house. My favorite part of the day was seeing how Jeffrey loves playing with his cousins. He’s finally gotten old enough to join in on the fun with them. And while I’m sure as the youngest (and the only boy) he has some torture coming his way, his cousins are genuinely sweet and wonderful with him!


It was a fabulous Christmas! My heart is full from all the wonderful memories we made!

And now it’s off to figure out where to put all the new stuff and to figure out our agenda for the week, since Matthew took this week off between the holidays! How was your holiday weekend?


Why? Merry and Happy!

From all of us…

Photo Credit: Lane Baldwin Photography

…to all of you, wishing you all things merry, happy, festive, and bright, whatever and however you celebrate this time of year!

May the warmth of love, the spirit of generosity, and the kindness to all fill your heart and home!