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?

Weekly Running Recap: Vacation With a Side of Running

I’m not a good vacation runner. That’s right, my runs tend to be little to none when I’m out of town with the family.

Why? To be honest, I feel guilty. I Theknow I shouldn’t, but I feel bad if I am gone from my family due to a run. I have serious FOMO as well and even if it’s just 30 minutes, I feel like I’m missing out on quality family time. I’m getting better about just going and running (because it’s what I like to do), but for the most part, I don’t run as much on vacation.

And last week was one of those weeks. My running mileage ended up around 11 miles total for the week, with runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Here’s a look at what the days entailed:

The first day was just a long walk (5+ miles) throughout Toronto. We ended up covering several miles by foot (I made my step goal of 11,000+ steps), but it was all walking. And posing for photos like these 🙂

The last day in Toronto, I did get in a 3.5ish m run before our long car trip to NY. I even got a running pic with the CN Tower in the background!

In Ithaca, I went for a 3ish m run along the water one morning. It was peaceful, but it took me almost a mile to get to the waterfront trail.

Another day in Ithaca, we took a 2 mile hike to some waterfalls. It was 90 degrees and HOT but worth it – we took the easy trail (especially since B was carrying not one but two kids) to these gorgeous falls.

And then, one last run for the week – 4 miles in nearly 90% humidity. Too hot for me! (And look who stole my water bottle)

Some questions for you:

  • Do you run while traveling on vacation?
  • Did you travel for the Fourth of July week?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

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!

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?

 

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.

First Trip as a Family of Four

We survived our first trip as a family of four! This past weekend, B, FW, LM and I took a long car trip to New Jersey for my cousin’s wedding. (Thus the later than typical posting) The wedding was on a Monday, so we decided to make a long weekend out of it, and hit the road Saturday morning, before coming back to Cleveland on Tuesday.

On the way there, we made plenty of stops to break up the trip and also make sure there was some fun involved. First, we stopped at the Shaker Woods Festival, a woodworking festival in Northeast Ohio. B actually bought some handmade wooden brooms for him and FW.

On the way out to Jersey, we also stopped in Pennsylvania to see Mitch, our friend from college. He and his wife, Becca (we went to their amazing lake wedding a few years ago) now live in PA and have a daughter about FW’s age!

FW and their daughter, Natalie, got to play.

It was a perfect place to stop and a great way to catch up. They made us an amazing dinner (there was bacon in every part of the meal) and I wish we could’ve stayed longer.

The next day, we had plans to meet up with my friend Jane, who lives in Brooklyn. It was a gorgeous day, and we decided to visit the Prospect Park Zoo to help entertain FW, who loves any and all animals.

FW also loved all the interactive exhibits.

Jane is one of my best friends from home, and I am so glad we got to catch up and she got to meet LM.

The next day was the wedding! We had the whole day to ourselves, so we first enjoyed breakfast at the hotel. FW liked the waffles.

After, we decided to drive a ways to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty at Liberty Park.

There was also a playground, so FW was able to get out some energy.

Then, it was wedding time! It was a very traditional Jewish wedding, with many unique customs.

It was great to see my family, most whom I hadn’t seen since Christmas.

Including my brother, Greg, who lives in Berlin.

FW loved seeing his Nonna and Grandpa.

I loved showing everyone LM.

And of course celebrating the BEAUTIFUL bride.

And now we are back to reality … and I’m back to work from maternity leave. It was a nice summer home, and hopefully going back to work won’t be too difficult.

Some questions for you:

  • How many first cousins do you have?
  • Are you done with weddings for the season?

Visiting Annapolis with a Toddler

A few weeks ago, B, FW and I took our third vacation as a family of three. (The first was a weekend in Columbus when FW was 2 months old, the second was a trip to Atlanta/Cincy/Asheville when FW was 8 months old) After our time in New York seeing my family and friends, we hit the road for another car trip – this time, to Annapolis.

I had never been to the city before, and in our few days there, I really liked it. I would definitely visit again and recommend it if you are traveling with a baby/toddler. (Side note: Is FW really a toddler? It’s hard for me to believe, but at 14 months, he sure is close to being one if he isn’t already.)

Here are some ways to pass the time if you go:

Walk down Main Street and check out the water. View the boats, get a bite to eat, and take photos of the water. We did this each day we were there. With FW we watched the ducks in the water, “woofed” at the many dogs that were walking by, pointed at the many boats and read the historical markers along the way.

Tour the Naval Academy. Most of this tour was pretty toddler friendly – it was a lot of outdoors, walking (or strolling) around, and FW was able to walk or sit and be somewhat loud (he’s at the age where he likes babbling AND shrieking) while we got the scoop. The only parts that were difficult? The chapel and John Paul Jones tomb – both were not places that were built for running/shrieking babies. 

A highlight of the tour? The noon formation. All of the students (or midshipmen as they are called) line up and do roll call at noon before lunch and the band plays some music as well. FW and I enjoyed this part very much!

Take a walking tour. While this tour was a great way to get an understanding of the history of the area, it wasn’t FW’s favorite. In full disclosure, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a toddler-friendly activity, especially if you have a toddler who likes to walk, talk, run and touch every single thing. The constraints of the walking tour (walking when the guide was walking, not touching the historical exhibits, etc.) were a little too much for FW. The tour was also 2+ hours, something that most toddlers may have a hard time following.

Going out to eat. And by out I mean OUTSIDE. We lucked out with the weather while we were in town and got to enjoy a few meals outdoors. I find patios much more FW-friendly (we can get up, walk, be loud, etc.) and Annapolis had quite a few of those. My favorite restaurant while we were there was The Iron Rooster- we actually ended up going there twice – once for brunch and once for lunch – and they even had a kids menu and crayons for FW to color with.

Get ice cream. I made it a goal to get ice cream nightly, and FW enjoyed sharing cones and cups with us. He enjoyed my peanut butter ice cream and B’s chocolate.

Find a playground. Let’s face it – most of the activities we did weren’t made for FW. They were baby-friendly activities, but they weren’t necessarily things he would enjoy doing. So, we made sure that we did find some ways for him to have fun and one of the things we did was find a playground. The playground at the Annapolis Elementary School was perfect! It had kiddie swings, little slides and plenty of area for him to play and run around. We went there before dinner one night and he got so tired out he slept for the first part of our meal, which as any parent knows, is great!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been on a vacation with a toddler recently? What activities do you recommend?
  • Have you been to Annapolis?