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?

 

How I’m Learning to Deal with Picky Eaters

I have a confession to make. Last week alone, I fed my kid “chik’n” nuggets, grilled cheese and quesadillas … and I’m okay with it.

I never intended to buy frozen food, heat it up and serve it on a regular basis. I know my mom never did that (did you, mom? Because the only thing I’m pretty sure you bought frozen was tortellini, but you made it with your homemade sauce so that doesn’t count, right?) … and before kids, our dinners consisted of grilled meats and fishes, healthy grains, homemade sauces and dressings, salads and even homemade bread. So what happened?

how to deal with a picky eater toddler

I have a picky eater. My (almost) 3-year-old doesn’t like vegetables. Not even the so-called “kid-friendly” vegetables like broccoli or carrots (yes, people have told me that these are the veggies kids like). He doesn’t even really like pizza!

So how are we surviving? Here’s how I’ve learned to live with it:

  • Stop comparing and beating myself up. Before having kids, I’d heard people say that if you feed kids what you eat then they’ll have to eat it. Let’s just say that that’s not the case. That’s what we’ve tried to do, but my son is perfectly happy not eating dinner. If we’re eating something he doesn’t like, he’s happy going to bed without eating and then waking up at 3 a.m. starving. For his well-being (and attempt not to wake up at 3 a.m.), I prefer that not be the case.
  • Never give up. Just because he doesn’t like something the first time (or the 5th time), doesn’t mean he always won’t like it. And, the more he sees us eating different foods, the more likely he is to try them. You can imagine my astonishment when one day he reached for a drumstick off my husband’s plate and took a bite. And now “chicken on the bone” (as he calls it) is something he loves.
  • Find a food your kid loves and sneak the good stuff in it. My son loves muffins. We call him the muffin man. So you’d better bet that we’ve made spinach muffins, lentil muffins, zucchini cauliflower muffins, etc. Is he eating spinach or lentils or zucchini on a regular basis? Not by itself, but definitely in a muffin. And, after he’s eaten the muffins, I do tell him what is in there. His favorite muffin is a banana, zucchini, lentil, chocolate chip muffin.
  • Make mealtime fun. The last thing I want is to make dinner stressful. So maybe we’ll put the peas on his plate in the shape of a letter C. Or maybe the roasted carrots will be standing up. OR, maybe I’ll hide a gummy fruit snack under a few pieces of vegetables for him to find. And if he doesn’t eat them, he doesn’t eat them – but at least they make him smile.

Do you have any tips for fellow moms of picky eaters?

Note: This post originally appeared on my page on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website. I blog for them on occasion- see what else I have to say there!

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.

Last September Weekend

If you can believe it, September is gone. And to celebrate, I’m sharing a quick weekend recap, one-sentence-per-photo style.

We kicked off the weekend with a trip to the Natural History Museum.

It was a gorgeous Friday to enjoy their outdoor animal area (which has some play areas for kids).

Saturday we did some shopping at the West Side Market.

It had been too long since we had been there.

We took an afternoon stroll around the neighborhood.

And ended up on the nearby playground.

The weekend also included a little run with this lady in the stroller.

We also got in a nice walk around the neighborhood.

And finished up with dinner at the grandparents’ house with the cousins!

A quick post for a weekend gone way too quick.

Some questions for you:

  • How many cousins do you have?
  • Did you run this weekend?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Living For Weekends

Welp, last week was my first full week back at work after maternity leave. And I’m not gonna lie, it was a doozy. I put in more hours than I have in a while, and working late plus little sleep (yay toddler and 3 month old) made me SO pumped for the weekend! And thank goodness, it was a good weekend.

B and FW made dinner Friday night, which meant we were able to have homemade pizza on the porch!

Saturday started out with breakfast for FW and me. We both had eggs – his were in fun shapes.

Then, I took FW out for a run.

It was pretty much perfect running weatherweather- low 60s and cloudy. We got in a little more than 4 miles.

Also, when did FW get so old? He looks so old compared to LM!

For dinner B made homemade pasta, which is pretty much my favorite comfort food. He also grilled some scallops for the perfect meal.

It stayed perfect weather for an after dinner walk.

Sunday morning started with pancakes! B made us all breakfast.

The day included some catching up on work, chores (yay for laundry … and then more laundry after a blowout) and a trip to The Container Store.

The rest of the day was low key, especially since it was pouring rain and super windy all day long. We didn’t make it outside for a walk or run or anything. Instead, we watched football and did some reading.

But, we did make it to B’s family’s home for dinner. FW got to enjoy some time playing with his cousins.

AND how excited are you for this? I’m a little afraid on how it’s going to portray CLE, but excited to see what’s in store for one of my favorite podcasts.

Some questions for you:

  • Did you have crazy rainy weather this weekend?
  • What kind of workout do you do if you can’t get outside?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Keeping Warm in the Burbs

It was another COLD weekend here in Cleveland. The temps were highs in the single digits, with windchills making it much much colder. It made it hard to want to go outside, but as you can imagine, with an 18-month-old energetic boy, staying inside all weekend is not an option.

Some highlights from the past few days:

FW had his 18-month checkup. He’s still a little guy, but everything looks a-okay. Plus his doctor’s office is decorated with jungle animals, which he quite enjoys!

FW and B made breakfast over the weekend! Scrambled eggs and some local nitrate-free bacon from a local butcher.

It was delicious!

We stayed bundled up inside and outside.

And even ventured out to Ohio City for lunch and a trip to the Market.

Jambalaya soup for me 🙂 

A few minutes in the snow.

Then it was back inside for some baking. FW likes these muffins and they’re pretty healthy – they’re spinach and banana. 

Yes, FW likes these – a fistful in his mouth!

I also made some almond butter. We had been running low and spending time indoors gave me some time to do so. 

I took Saturday off from exercise, but I did get a few miles – inside – on Sunday. It “warmed up” but was still “feels like -1” with winds 15 mph and higher, so I decided to stay inside. I am so so so grateful for my treadmill – I’ve been getting in many miles this week with it!

Also, while staying inside this weekend, B and I got up to speed on Game of Thrones. OMG … I can’t believe I will have to wait until 2019 for the next (and final!) season to come out.

So now we wait.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you watch Game of Thrones?
  • Were you stuck inside this weekend?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

It’s Almost Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah and almost Merry Christmas! I can’t believe that we are just one week away from Christmas and can you tell I’m excited? We crammed in a few wintry/holiday things this weekend – here is a look at some stuff we did, one-sentence-per-photo style.  We …

Took care of a little holiday baking with these graham cracker toffee bites (yes, again) and lemon cookies.

Shopped for, wrapped, and dropped off gifts and meals for our annual holiday adopt a family with some fellow BC alumni.

Went for a short, slow run in the snow.

Ordered takeout Thai food.

Played outside “in the snow” with FW and his friend Celia (full disclosure: FW actually was in a super clingy mood and didn’t want anything to do with said snow except when Celia pushed him on his bike).

Ate pancakes in our PJs.

Ate pizza (in two hands!) in similar clothing.

Sorta played in the snow.

Hung out with B’s family, including Great Grandma, for Sunday dinner.

And we helped them decorate their Christmas tree!

So let’s just say it was a pretty good weekend and we CANNOT wait for Christmas!

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!