Give the Gift of CLE

The holidays are sadly over and you may not be thinking about gifts right now, but I certainly am! Why? Because my birthday is just a few weeks away. And as is the curse of having a birthday around the holidays, people often don’t want to celebrate, don’t know what to get me, or even sometimes forget. Do you have a friend or family member who just got everything on their list for the holidays, but has a birthday coming up? Fear not – here’s a potential gift idea … CLE Pack!

CLE Pack is package featuring products from local Cleveland organizations. You can pick a package of 5, 7 or 9 items and they range from foodstuffs (sweet treats and savory snacks), local collateral (like tote bags or can holders or stickers) and other fun items like chapstick, keychains, etc. CLE Pack sent me a package of 7 items to try out for free (thanks, CLE Pack for the early birthday gift!) and I loved it.

Some fun facts about CLE Pack:

  • CLE Pack was just started in August 2018. Igor Oliyarnik is the founder and the idea was born over 4 years ago when he saw a similar business in Baltimore called “Baltimore in a Box”.
  • The most popular items in the package are the food. Bertman Mustard has been the #1 seller, followed by Campbell’s popcorn and Malley’s Chocolates.
  • The founder, Igor Oliyarnik, is not originally from Cleveland. He was born in Ukraine and moved to Cleveland with his parents when he was ten years old. He shared: “I’m now in my 30’s and proud to call Cleveland my home. I think the city has a very unique personality and a bright future because of the people that live here. It has been great watching the city improve in many different ways over the last two decades that I’ve been here.”

The items I chose for my package included:

  • Malley’s CLE Chocolate Bar
  • Fear’s Confections CLE Chocolate Bar
  • Ohio Pure Maple Syrup
  • Crazy Monkey Baking Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Cookie Crunch
  • Bertman Ball Park Horseradish Sauce
  • Sweet Moses Cleveland Chocolate Bar
  • Cleveland Landmarks Tote Bag

I LOVE that CLE Pack is all local Cleveland items. And while I was familiar with some of the companies they include (like Malley’s, Bertman and Campbell’s), CLE Pack also introduced me to some new local brands, like Crazy Monkey Baking.

CLE Pack would make a great gift for more than just a friend whose birthday is coming up. In fact, I was thinking that CLE Pack would also be a great unique gift for:

  • A new neighbor, especially one new to the city
  • A friend that has moved away and misses their Cleveland favorites
  • A hostess gift for that family who has everything
  • Members of a wedding party or close family coming into town for a wedding

Some questions for you:

  • What would you choose?
  • Have you had any of these items?

Disclosure: I was asked by CLE Pack to promote their products. In exchange, I recieved a free box for myself. As always, views are my own.

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?

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!

Visiting the Farm (plus beer, running and more)

It was another great weekend in CLE, and it was nice to have a weekend to ourselves with no weddings or big events planned. Which meant we of course ended up packing in tons of fun activities into the two days.

Friday night started with an impromptu birthday celebration for B’s brother. We went to the Flats for pizza, beer and bocce with the kids to celebrate FW’s uncle John.

After dinner, we got to take a walk along the water with FW’s cousins.

Saturday, we started off the day with a walk (me and LM) and bike ride (FW, B and his grandparents) to the farmers market.

After picking up some veggies for dinner and taking in the music, we headed home. Because we had some fun activities planned for the rest of the afternoon – FW and I were going to my Ladies Craft Beer Society together! My friend Reanna was hosting and she has a large property with bees, chickens, goats and more.

FW loves animals and couldn’t wait to see the chickens and the goats. So, after I hung out with the ladies and completed my craft (the macrame plant holder FW is holding), it was time to explore!

FW LOVED the chickens and goats. He was able to feed them both and follow them around for a while. He really enjoyed the farm and now of course I want some chickens!

Saturday night, B grilled up some veggie burgers and veggies we had gotten at the Farmers Market. I love farm fresh meals in the summer!!

Sunday morning started with a stroller run for the family- B took LM and I took FW for a 3.33 mi route. After we finished, we decided to keep running another 1.5 or so miles to literally run some errands. I was pooped (and FW’s face shows how I felt).

Sunday afternoon included some pancakes for FW. He even helped make them.

And naps! All around.

Followed by yard work, groceries for the week (and a little meal planning/prep) plus cleaning. This totally counts as cleaning, right?

And to end our weekend, per usual, we enjoyed Sunday dinner at B’s parents’ house. FW and LM are so lucky- they got to see Grandma and Grandpa 3 days in a row this weekend (and 4 days for Grandma, who babysat on Thursday!).

Some questions for you:

  • What types of chores, if any, do you do on weekends?
  • Do you take naps?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

A “Toasty” Weekend

We had a HOT weekend here in Cleveland – it was 95ish or so degrees both days and humid. Or as FW says, “toasty!” So, we had to find some ways to keep 2 kids entertained and stay cool.

Friday night started off with a walk to get some ice cream at a nearby ice cream shop. It’s about a mile walk there (FW didn’t make it the whole way there or back on foot).

FW enjoyed sharing ice cream with both of us.

Also, this little lady turned 1 month old!

Saturday morning tarted orly – B and his dad were going to chop down a tree in our backyard. It was starting to grow and invade our neighbors’ house so they asked us to do something about it.

FW joined in – he watched over the chopping with donuts:)

And made sure the ladder was safe to use.

Then, we took a little family walk. It was HOT out so we didn’t make it too far.

That afternoon, B had plans and was out of the house for a few hours. It was my first extended time alone with the two kids … and to be honest – it was hard! They got along for some time, but there were a few meltdowns from both of them at some points. 

When B came home, I was READY to get out of the house. It was past dinnertime and FW (and B) were hungry. So, B went with the kids to pick up pizza, and I went for a short run. It was 90 and humid and I’m so out of shape from not running after giving birth, but it felt SO GOOD to be outside and moving!

And, my favorite local pizza – plus wine and soda! – for dinner.

Sunday morning, we watched some World Cup and went for a walk before it got too hot. We walked to some local lakes where FW likes to watch the fish.

The afternoon included trying to keep cool – hanging out in the AC, watching some World Cup inside, and relaxing on the porch. A perfect weekend for the summer!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you get out and run in the heat this weekend?
  • Do you have AC?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps.

Weekend Recap: Cleveland Marathon Weekend!

Well, Cleveland Marathon weekend has come and gone. It’s always such a great weekend and I love all the events that I get to take part in – thanks to being an ambassador – that I’m a little sad it’s over.

I’ll start by saying that I was having mixed feelings about this year’s events. Why? Being 39 weeks pregnant (due date=THURSDAY), I was unsure of my ability to run/walk. Sure, when I signed on in the fall, in my head I thought, “If anything I can at least walk 6 miles – that’s nothing.” But as I got further and further along, I realize that walking a 10K with extra weight,  a baby in my belly pushing on my bladder, and little sleep (yay third trimester), may not be what I wanted to do at this point in my pregnancy.

BUT I’m so glad that I did. I really do love running and even when it’s not so comfortable (a.k.a. NOW), it’s great to be part of a fun race with fun crowds and a great location –  CLEVELAND!).

In any case, my weekend started early with fun marathon events.

First, the Expo! Cari and I headed to the Expo and had to take our annual race weekend photo. A little different than last year’s photo, huh?

This year …

Last year!

Then, it was time for the pre-race reception/dinner. As a race ambassador I get to get dressed up and mingle with all the VIPs (sponsors and elite runners!) in town the night before the race. The event always has good food, live music, a great location – it’s at the beautiful Galleria – AND I get to see my fellow ambassadors!

Saturday morning started early (but not as early as Sunday …) with our alarm going off to get ready for the Cleveland Marathon 5k. This is my third year participating in the race’s Challenge Series, which involves running an event on Saturday (either a 5k or 8k) and then an event on Sunday (either a 10k or full/half marathon).

The race was fun and not as painful as last weekend’s 5k for some reason. Oh, and B wore FW in a backpack and RAN ALONG SIDE OF ME. I still can’t believe he did that.

HE RAN LIKE THIS

After the race, we hung around for a little and checked out some of the event they had going on. The real event is Sunday, but they had some tents and things set up. Including a place that had THESE things – FW ran over to it and immediately started playing. Let’s just say I know what he may need for his birthday!

Then, picked up some bagels from our favorite local bagel shop. They had piping hot apple cinnamon bagels right from the oven, which was a perfect post-race meal.

Then, we hit up La-Z Boy. We had ordered a chair for our nursery back in March, but for some reason it was delayed and we didn’t find out until this past week. So, we had to go back in the store and pick out a new one so it would arrive in time – hopefully it’s delivered this week before Baby #2 arrives!

no chair photo, but here’s FW inspecting his bagel

We played it low key in the afternoon. It involved a walk outside (FW loved splashing in all the puddles), and B made us pasta for dinner (my request – a perfect pre-10k meal!).

 

Sunday morning started even earlier – my alarm got me up around 5 so that we could have enough time to get ready, get FW up, eat something and head downtown before the 6:30 road closures.

Despite the weather forecast looking picture perfect, it rained steadily as we drove downtown, as we walked to the start and as we started the race. Despite being wet, I was happy that it stayed in mild temps and I didn’t overheat (which happens a lot faster at this point in my pregnancy).

I’ll be sharing a full race recap, but all in all the 10k went well. Was it  a lot harder on me than the 5k? Yes. Was I sore before and during and after the race? Yes. But did I feel super proud for having completed a 10k at 39+ weeks pregnant? You bet. And FW and B kept me company throughout the entire route, which made it even better.

After the race, we got some hot coffees. Mine was delicious (or I should say is delicious – I still have some leftover :)) – it had honey and cinnamon in it!

Then, we met up with Dave and Anson for or usual Happy Dog lunch. I got a veggie dog with veggie chili and an egg on top – it was really good!

 And since we were in the neighborhood, we picked up a few groceries as well.

Admittedly, I pretty much crashed after that excursion. I’m not typically a big napper, but when FW took his afternoon nap, I took a short one as well. My body was TIRED from the 10k – I felt like I had run much more!

That night, we finished up the day with dinner at B’s parents house. As always, a good end to a quick weekend. And FW always has a good time playing with his cousins, aunts and uncles.

Some questions for you:

  • Ever run a longish race in the rain? How did you stay dry or warm?
  • Do you like naps?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps.