Why? Family Halloween Events!

Have you noticed that Halloween events are everywhere these days? It’s a fun holiday to celebrate and there are lots of ways to enjoy as a family:

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What: Hauntaquarium

Where: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

When: Fridays and Saturdays, October 20, 21, 27, and 28 from 6-9pm

What: Trick or treat stations, animal encounters, crafts and experiments, games, magician, face painters, costumed SCUBA divers, and more

Tickets: $12 for non-members, $10 for members, free for kids under 2. Buy here.

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What: Boo at the Zoo

Where: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

When: Fridays-Sundays, October 20-22 and October 27-29

What: Trick or treat stations, carousel and train rides, a Monster Mash Dance party, Zoo admission, and more

Tickets/admission: $10.50 for non-members and $9.50 for members in advance (add $1 if purchasing at the gate). Buy here.

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What: Mall Trick or Treat

Where and When: 

Great Lakes Mall Trick or Treat is Wednesday, October 25

Eton Chagrin Boulevard Boo-Tique Trick or Treat is Thursday, October 26

South Park Mall Mall-o-Ween is Sunday, October 29

Great Northern Mall Mall-o-Ween is Sunday, October 29

What: Trick or treat around the mall stores

Tickets/admission: Free

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What: Owls & Howls

Where: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

When: Saturday, October 28 starting at 10am

What: Games, crafts, pumpkin decorating, animal enrichment, museum admission

Tickets/admission: Free for members, included with general admission for non-members ($15 for adults, $12 for children ages 3-18, $12 for seniors, free for children under 2). Buy here.

However you celebrate, have a fun, safe, and happy Halloween!

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Why? Weekends!

It was another glorious fall weekend in Cleveland, this one packed with lots of family fun! Here’s what we did:

Halloween Hayrides

On Friday, we headed to Lake Metroparks Farmpark for the Halloween Hayrides.

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We started with a hayride past several fun, not-too-spooky stations with everything from traditional Halloween scenes…

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…to movie characters…

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…to cute decorations.

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The hayride drops you off where you can select your path: scary or not scary. We stuck with the not scary side, where we enjoyed glow dancers…

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…festive decorations…

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…and yummy concessions (Corbo’s Bakery apple fritters are not to be missed.)

Before we left, Jeffrey had to take a pony ride, too!

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The Halloween Hayrides have definitely become a favorite Halloween event for us. And while they are sold out for this year, keep your eyes open for next year’s ticket sales!

Pumpkin Party

Saturday morning was the annual Pumpkin Party at Jeffrey’s school. They create a mini pumpkin patch for the kids to pick a pumpkin and decorate, as well as other crafts and donuts and cider to enjoy.

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And since the weather was so fabulous, the kids got plenty of time to play outside on the playground too!

Marvel Universe Live!

Saturday afternoon, we met up with Jeffrey’s godparents Amanda and Scott for Marvel Universe Live.

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Jeffrey is just starting to get into superheroes and Amanda and Scott are very into superheroes, so it was the perfect activity. Jeffrey enjoyed the show (he thought most of the fight scenes were simply funny due to the number of flips and crazy moves) and declared Spiderman and Ironman to be his favorites. For me, I love that Jeffrey and his godparents can connect and have so much fun together!

Birthday Party

Sunday, we had a fifth birthday party for our niece Hannah. Elizabeth was pregnant with Hannah at our wedding…time flies! The party was at West Side Gymnastics Club and Jeffrey had a blast bouncing and playing with his cousins.

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Home Cooking

Despite all the activity, we managed to squeeze in some dinners at home too. I made my favorite homemade mac ‘n cheese, which has hatch chiles and chorizo.

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I use this recipe, but add in the chorizo. So spicy and comforting and yummy!

On the lighter side, I made swordfish with tomato relish (recipe here) and rice and broccoli pilaf (recipe here).

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Lots of good, fresh flavors in this meal! With as crazy as our schedules can be, I miss being able to cook at home and it was nice this weekend to have the time to make some meals for us.

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Boo at the Zoo!

As Halloween approaches, it’s time for one of Cleveland’s favorite Halloween traditions: Boo at the Zoo at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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This year, Boo at the Zoo is expanded this year to three weekends: October 13-15, October 20-22, and October 27-29. There are also an expanded number of trick or treat stations, as well as unlimited 4-D Theater movies, carousel rides, and train rides, in addition to long-time favorites like the Monster Mash Dance Party and Magic Show. Plus, you’ll see the Zoo decorated for the season, as well as get to see the Zoo animals.

If you are a Zoo member, Boo at the Zoo tickets are $9.50 in advance and $10.50 at the door.  For non-members, tickets are $10.50 in advance and $11.50 at the door.

On Sundays, you can also purchase a dinner package with kid-friendly food, entertainment, and character visits. Cost for Boo at the Zoo and the dinner package is $27.50 for Zoo members and $28.50 for non-members.

This will be our third year attending Boo at the Zoo and it is truly one of our favorite ways to celebrate Halloween in one of our favorite places in town.

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Click here to purchase tickets. Hope to see you at Boo at the Zoo!

***Disclosure: I attended the media photo call for Boo at the Zoo. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Legacy Village Christmas in July Bar Hop!

As we reach the halfway point to the Christmas season, it’s time to celebrate Christmas in July with some of the great restaurants and bars at Legacy Village.

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On Thursday, July 13 from 5-9pm, don your best festive clothing and head to Legacy Village for the Christmas in July Bar Hop. Admission to the Bar Crawl is $10 and proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Participants receive a koozie, a photo with Santa, access to Christmas in July menu items and drink specials, and the opportunity to win Legacy Village prizes.

Restaurants participating in the Bar Crawl include Bar Louie, California Pizza Kitchen, The Melting Pot, Granite City Food & Brewery, Stir Crazy, Brio Tuscan Grille, and The Capital Grille.

With a wide selection of restaurants, a fun theme, and a great cause, you won’t want to miss the Christmas in July Bar Crawl at Legacy Village! Registration is limited, so click here to secure your spot today!

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from backyard vinyasa, we had lots of other weekend plans! On Friday, Matthew’s family came over for an early Father’s Day BBQ. The kids played in the pool and yard like crazy, the grown-ups had a chance to catch up, and everyone enjoyed lots of summery treats, like watermelon and a homemade sundae bar.

Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to Legacy Village for Meet the Machines. This event packed Legacy Village with all kinds of vehicles from police cars to fire trucks to construction equipment to the Euclid Beach Rocket Ship Car.

You could even get in some of the vehicles to drive and explore!

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I really appreciated how spread out the vehicles and activities were, giving everyone plenty of space to see and enjoy everything. Plus, there was a huge variety of vehicles, so every kid could find something cool to check out.

Beyond just the vehicles, there was live entertainment, giveaways from local companies, and crafts. Jeffrey loved decorating his CAT construction hard hat!

Legacy Village’s Meet the Machines was really well put together, which made it just as much fun for the adults as for the kids!

On Sunday, Matthew selected an activity to do with Jeffrey for Father’s Day and he chose to go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo had free admission for dads on Father’s Day and we saw a lot of families taking advantage of this fun way to spend time together.

The animals were definitely putting on a show on Sunday, too. We got very up close and personal with the giraffe…

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…lion…

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…and tiger.

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It was a really great morning with lots of good family memories made! Stay tuned this week for more information on Zoo membership and all the great reasons to check out our Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

After that, we headed to my parents house to stuff ourselves with guacamole and margaritas, as it should be on Father’s Day!

It was a fun, family-centered weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Really, this post should be titled, “How to Do Wall-to-Wall 3rd Birthday Festivities.” We had lots of celebrating to do for Jeffrey’s birthday! On Friday, I visited Jeffrey’s class with cupcakes and a birthday story.

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Jeffrey requested rainbow cupcakes for his class, so I summoned every ounce of Pinterest-y creativity to create these:

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I took white cake mix, divided it up and added food coloring. Then I spooned each color into cupcake papers. And the result was kind of psychedelic and definitely kid-approved! Jeffrey loved putting the sprinkles on too!

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On Saturday, we hosted lots of Jeffrey’s friends (and our friends, too) at Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream‘s Ohio City location.

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We of course love the taste of Mitchell’s ice cream, but having the party right at the factory location added in the magic of watching the ice cream be made right in front of our eyes!

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Plus, the Rialto Room (upstairs) at the Ohio City location is bright, cheery, and the perfect spot for hosting a party, with views of both the factory and West 25th Street.

Since Jeffrey calls Mitchell’s “the ice cream train store” (because of the trains in each of their locations), we made our party Thomas the Tank Engine-themed. Before we enjoyed our ice cream, we munched on pizza from Rascal House.

Then, it was ice cream time!

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Our guests got to select their favorite flavor and we had to have plenty of sprinkles, too! Delicious!

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Jeffrey had such a wonderful time celebrating with his friends and their families! When everyone was singing “Happy Birthday,” I kept watching his face and it was filled with such pure joy. That’s the kind of moment you live for as a parent!

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I also can’t say enough about how easy it was to plan a party at Mitchell’s and how wonderfully helpful and sweet the staff were to us. I couldn’t have asked for more from this fabulous Cleveland business! If you want to have a party in the magical land of ice cream, click here for more details.

Then, on Sunday, there was one more party to be had, with our immediate family. Since Jeffrey is all about Paw Patrol, we went with that as our theme. Check out our matching shirts!

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Jeffrey also had this amazing Paw Patrol cake from Luna Bakery’s Custom Cake Shop.

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Luna’s cake designer worked with me to find out about Jeffrey’s favorite characters and create a cake that was just perfect. It even included a hand-painted Cali the Kitten on the front! It was not only adorable, it was delicious too! We chose chocolate cake with strawberry cream. Yum!

And Jeffrey got a very cool Big Wheel for summer biking adventures!

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It was such a fabulous weekend celebrating our favorite little man!

Today we’ll attend the Memorial Day parade in downtown Willoughby to help commemorate the day and remember those who sacrificed everything for our country.

I hope you are enjoying the unofficial start of summer!

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Why? Happy Birthday, Jeffrey!

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

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Photo Credit: Lane Baldwin Photography

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.)

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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? 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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