A Weekend Away With Friends: Hocking Hills

B and I just got back from a weekend away with the kids. It was our first trip since our summer getaway to Toronto and Ithaca, and it was our first trip ever with some other couples with kids. And it was a success! We all got (some) sleep, had good food and had fun on some hiking trails. We spent the weekend away in Hocking Hills, about a 3 1/2 hour drive from our house (longer if you’re traveling with 2 kids and one gets carsick about halfway through …).We got into town around 8 ish or so on Friday night. We had dinner with the kids and just hung out for a while talking after the kids went to bed late. We were beat – the car ride down had not been easy. LM cried for a good portion of the trip, FW needed to get out to go to the bathroom when we were in the middle of nowhere, and then LM got carsick twice. But we did have this pie waiting for us when we got there (made by my friend Anson).Saturday, we started off with breakfast. I had made a French toast casserole that we just had to heat up before the day began. Our activities began with a drive to Ash Cave and a hike to the cave. We hiked the Gorge and Rim Trail. Those trails were only about 1/2 mile or so, so we ended up walking a bit on the Grandma Gatewood Trail before turning around and making it back to our car for a picnic lunch.After lunch, we opted for another trail – this time to Old Man’s Cave! We hiked the lower falls and Gorge Trail, both of which were fun and not too hard to do with the kids – we had the little ones in backpacks and preschoolers with us at all times (basically FW was holding my hand as we walked up the tons and tons of stairs and anytime we were along the cliffs).Then, back to the cabin for nap time. We finished the afternoon with a cookout, complete with s’mores and the s’mores cookie bars I had brought.

These were pretty good 🙂

Sunday morning we had to pack it up and leave. But not before one last hike! This time we walked a little around the property. It was 80s and the kids were getting tired so it wasn’t too long of a walk – just enough to get out some energy before the car ride home.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Being around 5 children at a time could be a little overwhelming, but I would definitely do it again!

Questions for you:

  • Have you been to Hocking Hills?
  • Have you done a trip with other couples and their families?

A Few Days in Ithaca

And just like that, the vacation that I have been looking forward to for several months is over. Earlier in the year, we had planned a short getaway with my parents and brother. We had decided to check out the Finger Lakes, finding an AirBNB in Ithaca that would host us for the few days. My brother flew in from Berlin, my parents drove in from Albany and we all stayed together.


The trip was great. It was so wonderful to be able to spend time with my family, and LM and FW loved all the “Nonna, Grandpa, Sweetie and Uncle Greg” time. We also had a good time checking out the city and some nearby sites. Some of the highlights included:

Grabbing dinner and ice cream around Ithaca Commons.

Hiking to and splashing around Taughannock Falls.

Lunching and wine tasting at Thirsty Owl Winery.

Exploring the area – I went running along their waterfront path one day and my family and I took walks as well.

It’s always hard to finish vacation, but this one is especially hard because of the great family time we had.  I don’t know when my parents, brother and I will be all together again!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to Ithaca?
  • Do you vacation with your family?

A Few Days in Toronto (With Kids)

Happy Canada Day (a day late)! B, FW, LM and I are spending the week off on a vacation and starting the week off with the four of us in Toronto. Shortly after LM was born, we got the kids passports, but haven’t used them. So, we decided to take a drive across the border and spend a few days in Canada.

If you’re planning a trip to Toronto anytime soon and have kids, here are a few things you may be interested in doing. Even if you don’t have kids, these are some fun things to do.

First (not in Toronto), spend some time in Niagara Falls

On our way up north, we stopped in Niagara Falls for lunch and a boat ride to see the Falls. We met up with some friends who live in Canada and joined them on the Hornblower.


I really enjoyed the boat ride! It was so amazing to see the falls up close and it was the perfect length of a ride for kids (20 minutes or so). Pro tip: Buy your tickets in advance online, and then you won’t have to wait in a long line to purchase tickets. We only had a 10 minute wait or so to take the funicula (which was also fun) down to the boat to the falls. And we definitely got wet!

See a Blue Jays Game

The Blue Jays were in town when we were and we were able to catch a game on Canada Day. This meant there was some pre-game entertainment (including a giant Canadian flag being unrolled onto the field, as well as some people rapelling a flag onto the field) and a great giveaway (a “relaxed denim Maple Leaf hat”). We got to the game early to catch all of these and stayed for all 9 innings to catch a win. Bonus – they also have poutine at the concession stands!

Toronto Blue Jays game Canada Day flag

Toronto Blue Jays game Canada Day flag

See that guy on the roof? He is about to rappel down

Grab gelato and sit by the waterfront

We were lucky enough to have some gorgeous weather the whole time we were there — sunny, upper 70s — and on two evenings we decided to get gelato and walk along the water. One night there was even a live band playing so we got in some music (and FW got some dancing).

Go for a run or walk along the water

You know me – I need to get in at least one run on vacation. So one morning while B was giving LM and FW a bath (super dad!), I got in a run by the water. The Martin Goodman Trail is a long bike path and running path near the water that runs for many miles, which was perfect for me to enjoy a run by myself. It would’ve been great for a stroller run as well. It was perfect weather during the run and made for the perfect way to start my day.

Go to Chinatown (and eat copious amounts of dumplings)

One day we walked from our AirBNB in the financial district to Chinatown and grabbed lunch. We went to the Dumpling House and ordered steamed dumplings, pan-fried dumplings and a green onion pancake. LM enjoyed all of it – and even FW ate a few of the dumplings (minus the filling #pickyeater). The waitstaff also loves kids – they kept carrying LM around the restaurant while we ate and playing with FW.

Dumplings at The Dumpling House in Toronto

These were our pan-fried dumplings

Waitstaff carrying LM

Some of the other kid-friendly restaurants we visited included Cafe Landwer (their kids’ breakfast had amazing toast toppings!), Pie Bar (their kids dinners come with gelato for dessert) and Jack Astors (their kids menu has steak, build your own tacos and more!).

Find a playground

Because you’re with kids, you may as well find a playground for them to run around/swing around/play around on. On our walk one morning we found a small playground with some swings, slides and a seesaw, which made both our kids happy campers.

Relax with drinks (after the kids are asleep)

Our AirBNB had a balcony with an amazing view of the city. There was a lot going on downtown and the humming/buzzing of the cars moving all night was relaxing (for me). One night after the kids were in bed, we just sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the night. It was the perfect end to a long day of vacation! (Vacation with kids = tiring)

View from our rooftop patio

We only had a few days, but I’d definitely go back. The last time B and I were there was before kids, several years ago and the middle of winter, so much has changed. The next time we go, we’d probably do a few more kid-friendly activities, like visit their zoo, see the aquarium, or go to the train museum (which was right across the street from where we were staying). We just didn’t have enough time to do it all!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Toronto?
  • Are there some standard things you try to do when vacationing with kids (e.g., find a playground, etc)?

24 Hours In Detroit

Well, that weekend went way too fast. Know why? We were hardly in Cleveland at all – we spent 22 hours in Detroit!

What does one do with 2 kids when they’re in Detroit for a day? Well, we spent most of the time with family. B’s brother lives downtown and his other brothers and dad were in own visiting, so we met up with them and hung out.

We did walk to the Eastern Market, which was a cool outdoor/indoor market with lots of different food vendors.

FW even got a free apple from one of the vendors!

After walking around the market, we ordered pizza and got some beers at Eastern Market Brewing I really liked their Session IPA and FW loved the pizza from Supino. He had 2 slices!

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We saw some cool artwork. there are beautiful murals all over the city, and I really liked these two – the Welcome  to Detroit right under Stevie Wonder. 

Then, while the boys went to the Tigers vs. Indians game (Indians won!), LM and I walked around a little and got dinner. She loved the veggie sandwich from Avalon. Brownie not pictured.

Sunday morning we woke up to rain. And not a “hey it’s just drizzling, we’ll put on our raincoats and be fine” kind of rain – but the kind that had us bundling in our raincoats and as we walked outside we were immediately soaked. Even as we left the hotel, some guy commented, “You’re going outside? You’re gonna get wet.”

We walked a little around before hopping into Avalon (yes, again – but B and FW hadn’t been there) for breakfast. If I lived here, I could see myself going there a lot.

We had plans to walk around the city some more and check out the River Walk before our hotel checkout time, but even when we left the restaurant, it was still a complete downpour. So we went back to the hotel and before we knew it it was time to check out.

We will definitely have to go back to Detroit again soon – hopefully next time the weather will hold out and we’ll get to do some more stuff.

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Detroit?
  • White pizza or saucy pizza?

 

Dancing Wheels Brings Reverse * Reboot * Reveal to Cleveland

Disclosure: I was contacted by Dancing Wheels to help promote their upcoming Reverse * Reboot * Reveal! show. I was compensated and provided tickets to their June 14 event, which I had to decline due to pre-existing commitments. As always, all views are my own. Go see the show!

When Mary Verdi-Fletcher talks about dancing, you can hear the excitement and passion in her voice. Born into a musical family (her father was a musician and her mother was a Vaudeville dancer), she always saw herself as growing up to be a dancer.

Mary, however, was born with spina bifida and grew up in a wheelchair. Yet today, Mary is more than a dancer. This inspiring Emmy-award winning woman is the president and founding artistic director of Dancing Wheels Company and School. Dancing Wheels is a professional, physically integrated dance company uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. The company’s mission is to educate, advocate and entertain through compelling, innovative dance.

Being in Cleveland, we are fortunate enough to be not only the home of Dancing Wheels, but also their world premiere performance and 38th Annual Gala, Reverse * Reboot * Reveal! This June 14 event will feature the works of three internationally-recognized disabled choreographers.

An Interview With Mary Verdi-Fletcher

I was  able to talk one-one-one with Mary and got to hear more about her experience and Reverse * Reboot * Reveal. Here is a peek at our conversation:

How would you describe Dancing Wheels?

Dancing Wheels is a physically integrated dance company, which means it’s comprised of dancers with and without disabilities. Today we are also integrated in that the company has dancers that make up different ages, ethnicities, genders, and abilities.  

How did Dancing Wheels get started?

As the daughter of a dancer and a musician, I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. It didn’t matter to me that I was in a wheelchair – my parents never told me it was something I couldn’t do, so I always believed I could.

As a girl, a non-disabled friend and I partnered together and started experimenting to see what types of dancing we could do with one another. We ended up entering a nationally televised dance competition that was happening – Dance Fever – and when we got out on the stage, I remember the silence when the 2,000 shocked people in the audience saw me in my wheelchair. But when our song – It’s Raining Men – came on and we busted into our performance, the crowd went crazy. We even got a standing ovation! The rest is history – our story spread, and I eventually founded Dancing Wheels in 1980.

What can someone expect to see at a Dancing Wheels performance?

Dancing Wheels is a dance like you’ve never seen before. We work with a wide variety of choreographers who develop a performance with lots of speed, energy, movement and grace.  People are often surprised at how well our dancers move in the chair. They often forget the effort it takes to propel the chair; our dancers truly make the gliding seem effortless.  

What can people look forward to at the 38th Annual Gala, Reverse * Reboot *Reveal?

The world premiere performance and 38th Annual Gala called Reverse * Reboot * Reveal! is taking place June 14 at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square and will feature the works of three internationally-recognized disabled choreographers.

Reverse*Reboot*Reveal! will be wrapped before and after with a benefit gala. Over 200 VIP guests and supporters will enjoy pre-performance hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. After the performance, all attendees will be invited to meet the dancers and choreographers for a dessert and champagne celebration.

The event will include special guests, including Ben Vereen, the Tony, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning entertainer.

Inspired Yet?

Want to see something like you’ve never seen before? Tickets can be purchased for Reverse * Reboot * Reveal here: https://dancingwheels.org/reverserebootreveal/. And learn more about Dancing Wheels, including Mary’s amazing story (did you know she has an Emmy?!), here: https://dancingwheels.org/.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever seen a Dancing Wheels or similar performance?
  • Are you musical? What musical talents do you have?