Over the Labor Day holiday, we traveled to Michigan for an end of the summer family trip.  While we were there, we had dinner with my cousin, Ed and his beautiful fiancé.  It was so nice to meet Julia.  We made her a welcome to the family care package with some of her favorite foods and it was fun.


The kids had a great time with them as well.


Stephen and I split two dishes, although one dish would have been plenty.  We had the macaroni and cheese con pantalones.   It was a bit spicy and extremely delicious.  We also split a tasty sandwich called the Bueno Vista Social Club.  I liked that their menu had a huge variety of items.

Their menu can be found at the website.

One of the definite highlights was their root beer menu.  They have 28 different root beers.  It was really fun.  I had only had a couple of them before.  I ended up choosing the Dang Butterscotch Root Beer.  It really tasted just like those butterscotch hard candies.


The kids each received a kid’s menu along with a full 24 count box of crayons to help entertain them at the table.  We didn’t let them keep the crayons, but we were impressed with the huge box of colors.  It was such an improvement over the typical 4 color boxes.

We had a great evening out.  I can’t wait to see Ed and Julia at Thanksgiving.


We were out of town for the weekend, but made it back to the Cleveland area in time to head to my Grandma’s birthday party.  I have an awesome family and love to make it to as many family events as possible.  We arrived just in time to have dinner before the music started.

Once we had eaten, the kids got busy making new friends and playing hide-n-seek.  Sally hid by covering her eyes so no one could see her.  The boys had no trouble finding her.


Soon enough, it was time for the Blue Ribbon Bluegrass Band.  The band is great and it’s fun to watch my brother, uncle and cousin having so much fun.  It was also fun to hear the kids screaming as they counted for hide-n-seen over the music. IMG_4880

There was dancing.


Toward the end of the band’s set, Grandma was serenaded by two professional world class piano players.  It was her highlight of the evening for sure.


We ended with birthday cake for both Grandma and her son Matt.


It was a fun evening and a great end to the weekend.  We’re glad to have tomorrow at home to catch up on laundry and meal planning for the week ahead.

 Posted by at 9:11 PM

Wow, it’s been such a busy summer and I still have many posts to catch up on.  Back in June, the family completed the rest of the Spree For All.  You can read about the first part here.

We had reason to be in Munroe Falls for a party and decided to leave a bit early to finish up the hikes.  Our first stop was the bike and hike trail.


It was a very hot day and there wasn’t much shade.  But, soon we were to the turn around point and heading back to the car.


Sally loved running ahead and then making sure we were still watching her.


Next up was the towpath trail at Memorial parkway.  This walk included Mr. Spider.


Soon enough we reached our turnaround point.


Our last stop was the Overlook trail.  We were all getting a bit tired, but the kids were troopers.  There was also shade!


Sally wanted a spot on daddy’s shouders.  Soon enough we had completed the Spree For All.


We had a great time and Stephen and I loved sharing the Metro Parks with the kids.  We have many fond memories of the Summit County park system.

 Posted by at 9:14 AM

Last summer, most Wednesday evenings, you’d find our family eating dinner by the dinosaur at the Cleveland Natural History Museum.  Once we were done, we’d visit the museum for a bit and head over to Wade Oval Wednesday for people watching, the farmers’ market and music.  This year, our schedule has been crazy on Wednesdays, but on August 1st, we finally made our way down.

Apparently, we chose the busiest night of the year to go.  Parking was particularly difficult.  After waiting about 10 minutes, we were able to get a spot at the museum.  There’s lots of parking around the oval, but we have parking included with our membership to the museum, so we like to park there.

We ate our packed dinner inside the café while I had a pre-trip meeting with a few other Capitol Reef participants.  Then, we headed across the street to Wade Oval.

Sally was in a silly mood.  Both kids were glad to see the farmers’ market.


The market at the oval is small.  There are about 8 tables or so.  We didn’t really need anything and didn’t shop, but it was still fun to look at the items and quiz the kids on their produce knowledge.


We made our way around to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  The kids enjoyed a few minutes in the Children’s Garden.


Soon, it was time to head back to the car.  We made our way through the crowd.  Many people came out to see the reggae band.


I’m not sure if we’ll make it down for WOW another day before Labor Day comes, but I’m sure glad we were able to make it down once this summer.


A couple of weeks ago, Nick was in camp at the Great Lakes Science Center.  Since Sally and I were driving down to pick him up around lunch time, we decided to meet up with Stephen for lunch.  Stephen works near downtown, so it worked out well.

Koko Bakery had been suggested to me by several friends, but I hadn’t made the effort to check it out.  It’s located in Payne Commons near E.37th and Payne.


We didn’t have any trouble finding the place.


It’s a bakery, but they also sell rice bowls and other lunch items.  We decided to buy things out of their display cases (hot and room temperature).

We started with 3 wrapped hot dogs, a bacon and cheese bun and another breakfast bun.  We also got a juice for the kids to share and a watermelon bubble tea for me.  I loved the bubble tea and can’t wait to have it again.


After we consumed our first tray, we picked up a pork bun and a couple of sweets.  An egg tart, a cream Danish type of bun and a custard filled bun.


Including our drinks, our bill was less than $20 and all four of us were full.  There wasn’t fruit and veggies at this meal, but it was a fun special treat.  We’d definitely stop there again.  Everything was fresh and delicious.


On Friday, the last hurrah with Nick, Sally and their cousins was a trip to to Brainard Spray Park.  The park is location on Brainard in Lyndhurst between Mayfield and 271.  There’s not really a sign or anything.  It’s just part of the big park facilities.  There’s a playground, skate park, ball fields and the spray park.


When we arrived, they were having some issues with the water, so it wasn’t on yet.  And, we were curious if the weather would hold out.  My nephew actually posed for this photo.  once the water was on and he figured out he could squirt people, he was off.


Everyone was having a great time!


In just a few minutes, everyone was drenched.  Then, the staff heard thunder and shut everything down.  It’s only 20 minutes unless there’s more thunder.  It was still sunny out so we didn’t think the park would be closed for long.


We dried off and headed behind the spray park to the playground.


I remember these merry-go-rounds from when I was little.  They still make me dizzy.


Sally took her time enjoying the swings.


Soon enough, the water was back on and we were getting wet again.


We didn’t stay long at the park since we had to get my niece and nephew ready to go home.


But, it was a nice outing close to home and everyone had a great time.

 Posted by at 8:26 PM

Between my sister’s house and the beach house, we stopped to visit my in-laws for a couple of nights.  They live in Dover, DE, so they don’t get to see the kids very often.

Grandma got out some magnetic marbles for Nick and Sally to play with.


In preparation for a week at the beach, Grandma bought the kids each a set of sand toys.  They worked well with water in this test run.



There was also time for reading and snuggling.


And there was time for bubbles and play dough.


Here’s a photo of the kids with Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Derek and his friend Danny.


Here’s one of happy grandparents and grandkids!


Here’s Danny and Derek and one of them with the kids.


We had a nice visit and headed to the beach from here.

 Posted by at 9:19 PM

On Friday, June 22nd, we had the opportunity to pick blueberries with my in laws in Delaware.  They have a great U-Pick place just a few minutes from their house.  We visited Fifer Orchards last fall for apples, but this was our first experience with blueberries.  The berries were plentiful.  It was a very hot day for picking.  We were glad that we arrived just after they opened.


Here are some photos of the crew picking.


We were glad that we had water bottles, especially for the kids.


After picking, Nick and Sally enjoyed a few minutes on the swing.  I found the reminder sign interesting because I hadn’t really seen them before and I noticed them several times on our vacation.  It basically says not to eat fresh fruits and vegetables without washing them and gives specific procedures for washing and sanitizing surfaces etc..


A trip to Fifer isn’t complete with ice cream, so we all enjoyed some even though it was mid morning.  While we were there, my mother in law picked up some beautiful produce.


I always enjoy their displays.  We had a great time and ended up picking about 8 pounds of berries.


I’m not sure who was happier, Sally or Grandpa.  Everyone had a great visit to Fifer.  Some of the blueberries were made into syrup, we left a few in Delaware for the in laws to enjoy, and the rest were happily enjoyed at our beach house last week.

 Posted by at 9:33 PM

Today was a nice holiday.  I started out with Kate’s spin class at the J.  She’s a maniac and it was a great class.  She had a new playlist and it rocked.  On my way home, I stopped at our garden since Stephen and the kids were there watering and putting in tomato stakes.

After lunch, all 4 of us took naps.

For dinner, Stephen grilled spiral hot dogs.  They were fun and tasty.  We’d probably make them again.


After dinner, we rode out bikes to the concert at the Lyndhurst Community Center.  The Hillcrest Concert band played.  We met some friends there and had a good time.  It was getting pretty dark on the way home and we raced home to beat the storm.  There’s lots of lightning, thunder and firecrackers tonight.  Hopefully, we’ll get another dose of rain.

It was 91 degrees when we got home, down from a high today of 95.  I’m ready for a shower, some R&R and then bed.


We started off our vacation in the Baltimore area so I could help with my niece and nephew.  I decided to be extra ambitious and planned a couple of field trips.  I’m pretty used to taking Nick and Sally to different attractions, but it’s a whole different ball game to take 4 kids.  The first day we traveled down to the Inner Harbor and went to the Maryland Science Center.  I had given my niece and nephew a membership for their birthdays and our Cleveland Museum of Natural History membership was reciprocal.  I missed the parking deck, but was able to find on street parking in a residential neighborhood just 2 blocks further.

After entering the museum, the Rube Goldberg device grabbed everyone’s attention.



While my nephew continued to be mesmerized by the machine, the others enjoyed some of the other attractions in the Newton’s Alley room.


Since we got there right at 10AM on a weekday, it wasn’t crowded.


Next, we visited the efficient car exhibit.


The kids took turns designing cars on the screen.  Anything that you are allowed to touch usually is loved.


Nick knew just what to do with the sound reflector.  Turns out, it wasn’t his first time seeing one.


Eventually, we made our way to the kids room.  It was great.  It was staffed at the door and that made it super easy to keep track of everyone.  I found my lifeguarding surveillance skills being put to good use during our outing.


Everyone seems to enjoy the train table.


Sally’s favorite was water play.  My niece liked it too.


There was something for everyone in the kid’s room.


I let Nick participate in a Johns Hopkins research study about kids and math.  Nick loved it.  My favorite part was when the researcher showed him a piece of paper with a seven and a four on it.  She asked him which one was bigger.  He told her that they were the same size (meaning that the font/height was the same).  At the end of our outing, I tried to get a group shot of the kids.  Turns out there was an experiment being set up behind me, so it was hard to get them to look at me.


So, we went over and checked out the demo before departing.  Once we got back to the car, we had picnic style lunch at the car.


It was a great outing and gave me confidence for the next adventure.