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?

Things to Do With a Kid Downtown

Don’t get me wrong – I love our new house in the ‘burbs and all that our new little city has to offer – but I do miss our lives downtown. There was always something to do, always something going on, and it was great walking everywhere (especially to work). And even after we got married and had kids – yes, there was still kid-friendly stuff to do!

Are you thinking of living in downtown CLE with kids? Or just looking for stuff to do with kids downtown? Here are some of the ways we had fun and the things I loved to do downtown with FW:

1. Take advantage of all the free attractions

When you’re a kid, there are so many things that are exciting — and the best part is, so many of these things are free! For example, FW, loves just watching trains, trolleys, buses, boats, etc. These are all things you can see— and ride— downtown. There are several trolleys that ride around downtown for free and you can hop on and hop off whenever you want. Also, FW LOVES looking at pretty much any vehicle, especially trains and boats and airplanes. The best place to do this? Walk down to Voinovich Park. On the walk, you’ll cross over train tracks. At the park you’ll see planes landing into Burke airport as well as boats in the water. If you walk down to the Flats, you’ll also get a glimpse of boats and trains. Walk along the waterfront path near FWD Night Club and you may even be able to catch not only a boat along the water, but also a train cross the bridge. Public Square is also a great, free place for kids. Not only can you watch the buses, but there’s also green space to run around, a splash pad in the summer, ice skating in the winter and plenty of year-round events.

2. Be willing to spend some money

In addition to the free attractions, there are other things to see and do right downtown. Some of the attractions that cater to children include:

3. Know the child-friendly restaurants

My husband and I lived in two apartments downtown, one near East 4th Street and one in Playhouse Square. Both areas had restaurants we’d frequent with our baby and toddler. Some of them include Winking Lizard (they have a kids menu AND a lizard that kids may enjoy checking out), Masthead Brewing Co. (they have high chairs and quick food, which is perfect for kids; it’s also loud, which is great for blending in with your loud baby), Corner Alley (they have games for older kids) and Hofbrauhaus (they have a giant enclosed patio with a playscape and live music). During sporting events or at night, these places can become not as friendly, so we stuck to them mostly during the day. Around the Flats, there also were so many places great for kids because they’re near the water (see above: cool views of boats and trains and bridges) and casual. Some of our favorites include Coastal Taco and Dante’s Inferno. Both are casual, have games for the older kids to play, and are on the louder side, so a screaming child may not get noticed.

There are so many great places to eat downtown, and the best part is, so many of them are child-friendly, especially if you go earlier in the day. If you’re not sure, definitely call ahead and ask.


4. Frequent the family-friendly events

All year long, Cleveland is home to child-friendly events. Most of these are events that people from all over Northeast Ohio attend. Some include:

Whether you’re looking to spend money or not, there’s so much to do in downtown Cleveland year-round. We loved our time living there with our toddler and hope you are able to enjoy some of the fun activities we loved, as well.

Do you live downtown with your baby or small child? OR do you spend a lot of time downtown with your kids? How do you keep them entertained?

A version of this post was shared on NortheastOhioParent.com.

Fitting In Running

The theme for this week’s running post “Fitting it in.”

Some weeks, running is harder than others to fit in. Work has been really busy these days, and I’ve been up late working nearly every night. So, waking up at 5 a.m. to run before work has been harder and harder.  I was also on a work trip this week, which meant not only working late and not being home, but getting up even earlier if I wanted to run (disclaimer- I did one morning, I didn’t the next). And if I do run, I often only have 30-40 minutes, so I’m not getting in the mileage I’d like.

So, it’s getting harder and harder to find time to run. And instead of getting down on myself, I’m going to look at the positive:

  • I still ran 5 days this week.
  • I ran outside 4 of those 5 days

Am I making excuses? Yes, somewhat. Was this week the worst week I’ve had in running in history? Hardly. But the lack of sleep  is taking its toll, and I need to do something to get more sleep so that I feel not only good to run in the AM, but also whole during the day!

Some questions for you:

  • What does a “good” running week look like to you?
  • How early do you wake up to run?

Double the linkup today! I’m linking up with the weekly wraps and linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs. 

It’s Good to be Home

I was gone for a few days on a work trip this week, and all I can say is, man, it is good to be home! This was the first time I’ve been away from LM and the longest I’ve been away from FW in more than a year and it was not easy. But I’m home now and got to enjoy part of the weekend with them. Part of the weekend because I didn’t get in until later in the afternoon on Saturday … and Sunday evening included some sick kids. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first part of my weekend started in sunny, warm Orlando! Looks nice, huh? Unfortunately I was only outside for about 15 minutes the whole time I was there- I was in a lot of meetings!

One of the things that I now need to do when traveling is pump. I was so greatful for the Mamava pods in the Orlando airport!

When I got home, it was a cool, fall afternoon. So, we hung outside for a little and FW had fun playing tee ball.

B made an awesome dinner that was perfect with the weather – a caprese salad and meatballs!

Sunday was B’s family’s annual golf outing. We had plans to go to a fall festival or apple picking on our way there, but FW slept in (yay!), so our morning got off to a late start and we didn’t have time.

On the way there, FW decided he wanted to golf, too. He got a kick out of riding in the cart.

And had fun hanging with his aunts and uncles.

We had a good time! That is until the hour ride home … FW got sick a ways from home. And by sick, I mean sick sick and we had to pull over and put him in new clothes. Before he got sick again. So, we ended the weekend on a not-so-great note, but he is hopefully on the mend today (while B is now getting sick …). Should make for an interesting week! My Monday will include lots of this — couch, empty bowl/basin, and a sick toddler. Fingers crossed LM and I stay out of the way of the sickness!

Some questions for you:

  • When was the last time you were sick sick?
  • Do you travel as part of your job?

Linking up here today.

Tips for Living Downtown With a Young Child

It’s been about a year since we moved our then family of three from downtown Cleveland to the suburbs. And while I love how family-friendly our neighborhood is in the ‘burbs, there are so many things I miss about living downtown. When we announced we were expecting, one of the first things people often asked was if we were leaving downtown Cleveland. Many people could not fathom how we could live downtown and have kids. Well, we not only made it work but we LOVED it! If you’re thinking of moving downtown or living downtown with babies or young kids, here are some tips.

1) Find a child-friendly place to live

When I lived downtown, there weren’t many self-proclaimed “child-friendly apartments.” That being said, we made our place child-friendly — we were lucky enough to have a 2-bedroom apartment in a relatively quiet downtown neighborhood before we even brought our son home from the hospital. Some other things to look for in a place to live include:

  • Working elevators — Can you survive with a walk-up apartment? Absolutely; people do it. But you’ll be happy you have an elevator when you’re lugging a stroller and groceries (and diapers!).
  • Lowish level — Bonus points if you’re not too high up in case said elevator breaks down (it’s bound to happen sometime!).
  • In-unit washer/dryer — Kids make a lot of laundry at all hours of the day. Depending on their age, there is spit up, diaper blowouts, other bodily fluids, finger foods, etc. Having an in-unit washer and dryer will make your life so much easier.
  • Close parking — In my apartment, we parked across the street, and sometimes that seemed far — especially in Cleveland winters! When you’re carrying a carseat (and aforementioned diapers and groceries), it will be really nice to have a parking spot that is close to your destination.
  • Thick walls — In our first apartment that we lived (sans baby), one of the interior walls was so thin, you could hear every single conversation that the couple next to us was having. This is NOT something you want when you have kids. You’ll not only be paranoid that your baby’s crying is bothering your neighbors, but you’ll worry that every little sound will wake him/her up.
  • Bonus: Friendly management — Yes, this is important whether or not you have kids, but I personally found myself needing to talk to building management after having kids. Have your parents visiting and need an extra key? Diaper delivery running late and you need to get into the office to retrieve it ASAP? Need to park in a special spot for a day or so as you’re recovering from giving birth? Having an understanding building management — as well as one that loves kids — is a plus.

2) Get used to living with less

Babies and kids themselves don’t take up a lot of space. But there’s so so much stuff that they often come with – bouncers, endless diapers, changing tables, cribs, bassinets, playpens, bottles, etc. Since we had such a small place, we only registered and purchased the essentials. What does that mean? Our baby’s bedroom had a crib and a comfy chair (that had previously been in our living room). We did not have room for the traditional dresser or changing table. So instead, my husband made some drawers that would fit underneath the crib. He also built a changing table that would open up and close back into the wall. We didn’t have a bouncer or many toys. And, it worked out! Most of the time, we simply told family and friends to not get us stuff outside the essentials, and instead donate to our son’s education fund.

3) Be prepared to leave downtown for some necessities

One of the best things about living downtown is being able to walk everywhere — the grocery store (hooray for the downtown Heinen’s!), the mall (GREAT for AC in the summer and warmth in the winter), restaurants, entertainment like a splash pad, etc. But, while living downtown Cleveland is great, it does lack some essentials that you’ll need more of as you have kids. So, be ready to hop in a car and leave downtown for some things. For example, we found great childcare just outside downtown, in Tremont. Our pediatrician was in Lakewood. And, the urgent care that was walking distance from our apartment was unable to see babies, so we needed to seek emergency care elsewhere. Also, I love running with the stroller, but I found many of the sidewalks downtown a little bumpy for running with a baby. So, I typically headed to the Metroparks or Towpath when seeking a longer stroller run.

Some questions for you:

  • When you had kids, did you move? Or if you are thinking of having kids – would you move?
  • Have you lived in a major city with a child or baby?

Please note: I’m now blogging with Northeast Ohio Parent magazine! And, the original version of this post was on their site.