Time to Give Moms a Break

The past few months have not been easy. I had the longest cold known to man (okay, I’m exaggerating, but it lasted about four weeks). My 9-month-old daughter had a cold that turned into three back-to-back ear infections, followed by hand-foot-and-mouth disease, followed by impetigo and currently has a cough that just won’t go away. My son vomited all over our kitchen rug and then, the next week, fell off a table and split his lip open, and then also came down with hand, foot and mouth. I had an eye infection, followed by conjunctivitis. Our kitchen sink clogged up, a pipe burst at our house, we found out we need a new water heater, a new roof and my car completely died.

Easy problems? For sure. Could it be worse? Definitely. But like most moms, I’m tired. And like most moms, I mean it: I recently read that new parents face sleep deprivation for 6 years after a baby is born, and moms do more so than dads.

So, what can we do? Let’s stop scrolling through Instagram and judging one another. Let’s give one another a break.

The new mom you know? Bring her diapers and easy-to-eat snacks one day. It can be easy to forget to eat some of those early days.

That mom you know in your office who is constantly leaving early/coming in late due to family commitments but emailing at midnight? Cut her some slack and maybe see if you can take something off her plate.

The mom you know who is having a hard time? Buy her a coffee, and maybe bring her a pack of tissues on one of those days she may be feeling extra emotional/hormonal.

The single mom you know or mom whose partner is never around? Offer to watch her kids one day. Even if it’s just for an hour so she can shower in peace or grab a solo bite to eat.

The mom you know who seems to have it all together? She probably doesn’t. Check in on her — send her a text message and let her know you’re thinking about her. Sometimes that’s all someone needs to hear.

We’re all busy. We’re all tired. So let’s lift one another up. It’s the only way we’re all going to survive — and thrive — as moms.

This post originally appeared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website.  I occasionally guest blog there – you should check them out!

A Rainy Easter in CLE

We had a rainy weekend in Cleveland – it rained pretty much nonstop from Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening. It made for a flooding backyard, some indoor runs and a REALLY early wakeup on Thursday to run before the monsoon started. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a little snapshot of our Easter in CLE.

Friday, schools were closed for Good Friday, so I worked from home while watching the kids. (Meaning, I got up and worked, entertained them, worked while they were napping, did more entertaining, and then worked again at night) BUT because of the aforementioned rainy weather, we were stuck inside for pretty much the entire day. Thank goodness for play-doh and art projects!

Saturday brought MORE rain. So, we spent the morning inside doing some spring cleaning – FW even helped out!

I popped on the treadmill for a few miles, and then after naps, we headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to color eggs. FW had a blast dumping them in the dye.

We stayed there later than we intended to and all of a sudden it was dinnertime. Thank goodness for Aladdin’s takeout – it satisfied everyone in our house, even FW (the picky eater) and LM (who loved my hummus, beans, peas and rice!).

Sunday was Easter morning! We started with an Easter egg hunt for FW and LM.

Then, after Mass, it was time for Easter. We ended up spending all day with B’s family and FW and LM got to play with their cousins.

Look at that big table!

After Easter, we did finally get outside to enjoy the finally nice weather. It had stopped raining, leaving us with a gorgeous afternoon!

Some questions for you-

  • What was in your Easter basket growing up?
  • What’s your favorite holiday from a food standpoint?

Weekends with Family

I love weekends with family! And this weekend was one of those weekends, as my parents were able to come into town to visit. The last time they were in Cleveland was October, so it had been some time!Friday afternoon coincidentally was a grandparents’ event at FW’s school, so they got to see him in his element as he performed a song and then they watched a puppet show.And then Friday night included pizza from our favorite local place – Marottas! They had been closed for renovations, but they reopened about a week ago. So yes, this was our second week of pizza pickup from them. I love roasted garlic on the pizza!Saturday morning, the whole family walk to breakfast at Luna. Their almons croissants are amazing.Followed by a little time on the playground. The weather was perfect!In the afternoon, we celebrated our friend June’s first birthday. She had a kindermusik class, and both LM and FW had a blast!

Sunday morning came too quickly. After some bagels, my parents were on the road again and it was time to say goodbye.

As they drove back, we had a relatively low key day. We did not get in any of our usual weekend chores – no grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, etc. Instead, I caught up on work and then got outside for a run.

That night, we celebrated B’s sister Mary’s birthday. That ends what seems like a month of birthday celebrations for B’s family! FW will be disappointed not to sing Happy Birthday at next week’s dinner.

Questions for you:

  • How do you handle grocery shopping? Do you go once a week or when you need to something?
  • What’s your go-to bagel?

We Traveled More than 8 Hours In the Car With 2 Kids and Lived to Tell About It

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go … Whoever wrote that idyllic song probably wasn’t traveling with two kids under the age of three during the holidays. Because just a few months ago, we packed up the car, put the kids in their car seats, and drove the 7+ hours to Nonna and Grandpa’s house for the holidays. And let me tell you, it was anything but idyllic. Babies were screaming, naps were missed, toddlers were crying “I wanna get out!” and that was only in the first hour. But we survived and here are some tips we learned along the way:

Don’t Expect it to be the Same as a Pre-Kid Trip

Before we went on our first road trip with my now toddler, I asked one of my friends if she had any tips. She replied, “Expect it to be awful and throw all your fond road trip memories out the window.” Is that harsh? Yes. But it makes a point. Long trips with two young kids are not easy. They’re not relaxing. But they don’t have to be awful; just manage your epectations and be prepared (see below).

B and I in Vietnam – traveling BEFORE kids

Pack Enough Toys/Activities/Games

Toddlers and infants are not made to sit in one place for eight hours. (But really, who is?) That means an eight hour car trip can be anything but fun for them, which means it’s not fun for you. So bring activities to distract them. Here’s a rule of thumb I like to follow: bring at least one new toy or activity per hour of your car trip. So for a six hour car ride, here are some of the things we bring for the toddler:

  1. Coloring book/paper and washable crayons
  2. Matchbox cars
  3. Paint-with-water activity book – we like the Melissa & Doug Water Wow! books
  4. CDs – we like to go to our local library before a trip and pick out kid-friendly CDs to listen to. Our toddler gets a kick out of picking them out and then choosing them during the car trip.
  5. Books – I like to bring 3-4 and let my toddler pick out 1-2 himself. This one, Let’s Play, is a good one that is interactive. 
  6. Post-it notes – they can stick them places and then you can clean up easily. They can color on them with aforementioned crayons. They can stick them together to make shapes.

For the baby, we brought things like baby books, rattles, blankets, and toys that lit up and made noise.

Bring Snacks

Bring plenty of snacks and food for the trip. In addition to meals, plan easy-to-eat and less-mess snacks for the car or any stops. Bonus points if the snacks are new or not part of your usual repertoire. Some of our favorites include Annie’s fruit snacks, pouches, yogurt covered raisins, Annie’s cheddar bunnies, Barbara’s Puffins cereal, grapes, sliced pear, grilled cheese cut up into fun shapes.

Be Flexible

Don’t go into the car trip with a rigid plan. Will you sit in the front or in the back with the kids? Be prepared to do either. Will you stop exactly two times for one hour each and make it to your final destination in exactly nine hours? Maybe not (what if the baby has a blowout after your 2nd stop?). Will your kids nap at their usual naptime? Possibly. It’s okay (and probably a good idea) to make a plan before you get into the car, but just be prepared to throw it out the window or adapt if needed.  

Plan Stops

If you don’t have a hard timeline (see above tip: be flexible), plan a few fun stops along the way. For an eight-hour car trip, it’s nice to plan one or two stops where our toddler can run around and use up some energy. For us, this has meant finding a park that is not far off the route (bonus points if there’s a playground) and near some kid-friendly restaurants so that we can stop, grab a bite to eat and then run around and play. Yes, this takes time, but it makes the trip much more fun for our toddler.

Leave at Night or Around Naptime

We have only done this once and it was the best. After about one hour of crying and whining, the kids slept for almost the whole ride. Getting them back to bed once we got to our final destination wasn’t easy, but it made for a quiet and hassle-free car ride.

Have a Secret Weapon (or Two)

Sometimes all the toys, snacks and stops are not enough. That’s when it’s time for your secret weapon. For our baby, this can mean a few extra toys that light up or play music. For the toddler, this means toys that aren’t used on a regular basis, such as his toy laptop and my iPad with Sesame Street or other kids’ TV downloaded on it. We don’t always have to bring these out, but they have definitely helped make the trips easier.

Questions for you:

  • What’s the longest you’ve ever traveled in the car with kids?
  • What age do you find easiest to travel with kids?

Note-  this post contains a few affiliate links. And aversion of this post originally appeared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website.

Surviving the Polar Vortex

We did it! We survived our week of COLD. Was it easy? No. Do I want to do it again anytime soon? No no no no no! But we survived, and here’s how.

Living in the Midwest right now and growing up in the Northeast, I’m used to cold winters. I don’t like them, but I’m used to them. But this past week was the COLDEST I’ve ever experienced.

For example, I woke up Wednesday to THIS.

School was actually closed for FW and LM, so we had to be creative with entertainment for them. Dressing them the same counts as entertainment, right? 

There was lots of play doh involved. 

And just some good old fun with paper. 

We had some good food, including these egg cups, which we now make every weekend. 

And B made this chicken noodle soup from scratch. It was so good and hit the spot with the cold weather.

We also had to get our favorite pizza before they close for renovations. What are we going to do without this NY style pizza for 6+ weeks?!

Friday at work, we celebrated the kick off of February with a heart healthy breakfast. A coworker made these steel-cut oats and brought in fruit for us all as well. 

We all wore red for Go Red for Women Day, too!

The weather finally warmed up and we got in a walk on Sunday. It was SO nice to be outside and not freezing! It was 50 degrees when we went out.

But yes, we still had snow. So FW built a snowman – or an “Olaf” as he calls him.

And I got in my first outdoor run in more than a week. It was so much better than running inside!

So, we didn’t go stir crazy with the weather. And this week the weather looks like it will be so much better. Is it still winter? Yes. BUT it may be warm enough for us to go outside for more than 10 seconds at a time!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you survive the polar vortex?
  • Any tips for keeping toddlers entertained during the dead of winter?

Celebrating My Birthday with Food and Running

I’m still feeling the love from having a really great birthday week this past week. It was a week of good (and too much!) food, friends and even some runs. I felt the love from so many friends and family who reached out or whom I saw and made me feel special – thank you to everyone!

Here’s a look at the week in terms of runs – Wednesday was my birthday and no matter what the weather, I knew I had to start the day with a run. It ended up being 30 degrees and rainy/slushy, so pretty awful. But I got out there and got in a few miles before work, which was what I wanted to do!

Here’s a little how the week looked in terms of celebrating the big day.

B and I got tickets to see Erik Griffin at Hilarities. I was sitting so close to the stage! I could literally touch the stairs the comics walked up to get there (seen in the photo below).

AND we got a photo with him after the show!

We also got in a great meal at Marble Room. I think B liked his steak.

I enjoyed the surprise birthday cotton candy they brought out! It was the size of my head — no, bigger!

FW surprised me with flowers.

B and I got breakfast – which meant a rosemary bagel and decaf almond milk latte for me.

LM helped me with laundry.

And also just pretty much held on to me all Saturday morning.

FW’s cousins came over Saturday afternoon for grilled cheeses.

And I got wine with some ladies in the early evening – again, to celebrate my birthday.

FW and I also did some baking this weekend. I made some of his favorite muffins – these are lentil banana chocolate chip muffins from The Lean Green Bean. This time I cut down the chocolate chips and tossed in half a zucchini and maybe 1/4 cup of mashed cauliflower for some added veggies.

Sunday was another cold one. When I woke up, I was all ready to go running outside, but the cold temps kept me inside again. I managed to make it 5.25 miles on the treadmill, which was my longest treadmill run in ages! I’m still building base mileage for my Cleveland half marathon training, so I didn’t mind staying inside.

After the run it was time for brunch at B’s parents’ house. FW got in some more quality time with his cousins.

And then we got home just in time for nap time. Which meant that I had some time to do some more meal prep – I made some energy balls (or boobie bites – they have brewers yeast, flax seed and oats, which is all good for breastfeeding) for snacks and egg cups for breakfast.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key. FW and LM played and B made us dinner.

And because we were home, the kids actually went to bed at a decent time for a Sunday night!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you dreadmill it this weekend, too?
  • Are you training for anything?

I’m linking up with the weekly wrap.

Can Every Winter Weekend Be Like This?

We had a great weekend in CLE. It was seasonably warm (got into the 40s on Saturday!), no snow, and just a few casual plans. Which meant that we got to somewhat relax, spend time outside, get in some exercise and enjoy some family time. AKA – it was my type of weekend.

Friday night included takeout Indian food from a new Indian restaurant in our neighborhood. It was pretty good – but there was no naan on the menu!

Saturday morning started early (LM woke up at 6 and FW shortly after), but FW was easily entertained with some new Christmas toys. He loves his drum set, but it definitely made it hard for B to still sleep!

After B got up, I got in a 5 mile run. Weather in the mid-30s felt GREAT, I was actually hot with my gloves and headband. It was great to run in my new Skirt Sports clothes, too – I love my new capris (you can’t have enough running capris) and the Wonder Wool shirt kept me warm.

After the run, it was time to meet up with friends at the new Van Aiken District food hall. The place was hopping for the morning – and it was actually mostly families with young kids running around.

They have a few non-food shops and a few food places open right now, and a small kids play area. We will definitely be back.

The kids fell asleep in the car on the way back from playing and running around, so our typical afternoon “quiet time” was a little off – but that meant we were able to get in some grocery shopping, plus some “me” time in the car. There was no way I was going to try to move FW from the car seat to his bed, so we stayed in the car. And then, because nap time was done early, were able to get in a little afternoon walk while the weather was still semi-nice. We even stopped at a nearby playground and FW was able to run around and play.

That night, B made a favorite dish of mine – halibut! It was beyond good.

Sunday we had brunch plans with Dave and Anson. It had been a while since FW had seen Celia and he was pretty excited to play with her new toys and run around her house.

While FW was napping, since the weather was still nice out, I decided to take LM for a walk. We ended up walking to the grocery store and picked up a few last minute items to do some meal prep.

I made some egg cups for quick breakfasts. B is back on slow carb, so I’m trying to find easy breakfast that don’t involve bread, etc. for him.

Then, FW’s cousins came over for an inpromptu visit. They stopped by with little gifts, including this cute blanket!

And suddenly, the weekend was over. It went by fast for not having much to do! Some questions for you:

  • Did you get in some outdoor time this weekend? Yes, it was great to get in 2 runs, 2 walks and a trip to the playground.
  • Do you do meal prep? What do you make?