My nephew lives in Maryland.  He’s finishing up first grade.  His class recently read the book Flat Stanley.  In a nutshell, Stanley is flattened by a bulletin board.  Since he is now only 1 1/2 inches wide, he fits in an envelope and can travel around the world having adventures.  Everyone in my nephew’s class made their own Flat Stanley and sent them off on an adventure.  Nick and Sally were glad to have company here in Ohio.   Here’s part one of our adventures.

April 14 – Flat Stanley attended a cheese making class at Mayfield Road Creamery.  He learned about pressing Havarti cheese and checked out the cheese storage room.


April 15 – Flat Stanley went to church with the family.  He listened to band practice and ironed in the play room.


He also played with some tools before making an appearance in Nick’s Sunday school classroom.


After church, he headed to Miles Market.  He rode in the cart and picked out some delicious fruit.


April 16 – He visited the JCC playroom and met Miss Deana.  After a quick trick there, he went to Beth’s spinning class.


Once he left the J, he stopped at the post office to mail a package.  He loves the post office, but he was glad that it wasn’t time for him to leave yet.


April 17 – He headed back to the JCC and was able to do some needed cement work.  It was back-breaking and a chair massage was in order once he completed his work.


After his massage, he met Mr. Jerrell.  Once he left the JCC, he realized he needed to get an oil change and made a trip to Lube Stop.


After a nap, he decided to build a Lego house.


Stay tuned for more about his Ohio adventures tomorrow.

 Posted by at 2:38 PM

Sally still needs a nap everyday.  Most days, we make sure to be home in the afternoon and she usually sleeps for 2-3 hours without any fuss.  If she’s not home, all bets for a nap are off.

Nick still needs a nap 2-3 times a week, but hardly ever takes one.  Usually, Stephen can get him to nap on the weekends.  During the week, he is already planning his “nap time” project as we head upstairs after lunch.  He’s also the little negotiator…. wanting a timer set for just 1 minute or sometimes 4 minutes.  He doesn’t quite understand time yet.  Most of the time, I spend nap time trying to keep him quiet so Sally can sleep.

Today, I enjoyed quiet time.  Last week, my friend asked me if I wanted to do babysitter swapping.  I answered with a resounding YES!  Today, we tried it for the first time.  I gave up Sally’s nap, but it was totally worth it.

I dropped the kids off a little after 1PM and picked them up a little after 4PM.  3 hours of quiet and I didn’t waste any of it sleeping.  I was able to run a couple of quick errands, clean up and do a bit of paperwork.  The best part was having some quiet time to myself.

Friday afternoon, I’m taking my friend’s little ones.  I’m glad our kids like to play together and I hope our schedules can mesh to continue this for a while.

I’m already thinking about my quiet time for next week.  Maybe a bicycle ride will be in order.  I’d love to get some miles in this year.


Stephen was home for work on Friday.  His company has a spring holiday which happens to fall on Good Friday.  I took the opportunity to get a hair cut and run some errands with Nick.  It’s super nice to spend time one on one with the kids.  Since I am a stay at home mom, I don’t get the opportunity very often.  Saturday, I was able to spend some time with Sally.  She got a bang trim and then ran a couple of errands with me.  It’s hard to believe that I used to think one kid was hard.  Compared to having two with me, one is easy-peasy!

One of my favorite parts of Saturday was a visit from my sister and niece.  They had a baby shower to go to and I had the gift.  Since they needed to pick up the gift, we got to spend some time together.  My sister is like me.  She likes to pack way too much into each day.  So, Stephen, she and I divided up the to-do list and off we went.

I had the most fun job.  My niece wanted her hair cut.  I can’t remember ever having one on one time with just my niece.  It was super nice.  When we arrived at the plaza for her haircut, I asked her if she still held hands in the parking lot.  She said no.  Then, I asked her if she would hold my hand just because it would be fun for me.  She said sure.

He mom said she could do whatever she wanted with her hair, as long as it wasn’t a boy cut.

Here hair is naturally curly.  So, getting it straightened was on her to do list.  Here’s a before and in process shot.


Once it was cut to the desired length, Jessica started straightening it.  It took a while to get it all done.


Check out the after photo!  She looks about 4 years older to me.


Later, we caught up with her mom.  I asked her if she liked the hair do.  She said It was the first time I saw her with that extra “I just got a haircut that’s so awesome I can’t forget how good I look ” bounce in her step.  I couldn’t agree more.  I’m going to be spending a couple of weeks at my sister’s this summer.  I think my niece and I will try to sneak out for another hair cut or Starbucks or both.  I’m also going to try and figure out something to do with my nephew.

If was so nice to have some one on one time.  I need to remember how important that is for all of my close relationships.

 Posted by at 7:00 PM

Next up after our church festivities was a trip to Akron.  We had plans for pictures and lunch at my parent’s house.  Stephen had brought our tripod so we could use the timer function for photos.  The kids helped him get set up by posing.


Soon, it was time for the group shot!  We don’t get all 12 of us together very often.


The kids (and maybe some adults) wanted to do a silly photo.


Here’s my niece and nephew being goofy with their parents.


Here’s a couple of serious family shots.


Next up was egg hunt #2.  The kids really enjoyed running around my mom’s yard.


After lunch, the kids wanted to collect, wash and paint rocks.


Grandma didn’t have paint, but markers did the trick.


After the rock project, my mom, one of my sisters and I took a nice walk.  Soon after, it was time to head out to our last stop for the day.

We had a great time visiting at my mom and dad’s house.  It was fun to see everyone.

Tune in tomorrow for our 3rd and final Easter installment.

 Posted by at 9:28 PM

My birthday week of celebrations started last Saturday.  Stephen and I went to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.  It’s only about 6 miles from our house, but we had never taken the time to go.


It’s a nicely done museum.  I’m not a big fan of reading at museums and most of this museum involved a bit of reading.  But, I really learned a lot and enjoyed it.  One of the sections of the museum is artifacts.  It was my favorite part since I like looking at things.  I was most surprised at all of the famous entertainers who changed their names from Jewish ones to Christian names.   Here are just a few examples:

  • Woody Allen – Allen Konigsberg
  • Jack Benny – Benny Kubelsky
  • George Burns – Nathan Birnbaum
  • Mel Brooks – Melvin Kaminsky
  • Rodney Dangerfield – Jacob Cohen
  • Judy Garland – Frances Gumm

It makes me sad that people felt like this was necessary.  But, I’m glad that these people were able to be successful.

The other thing at the museum that really struck me was how many Jews were killed during the holocaust period.  I can’t even imagine six million people being killed.  It really makes me sad.

We ended our museum trip with dinner at Moxies.  We had a gift card and enjoyed our dinner out.

Stephen made me birthday brownies.  These consist of brownies, layer of homemade caramel, fudgy frosting, and then topped with toffee crunch.


On Sunday, we shared them with my lifeguarding class and at my Grandma’s house.  The brownies were a hit, but the kids enjoyed their time with Great Grandma much more.


Tuesday started out with flowers with friends.  The day ended with a family trip to Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream.


On Wednesday, Stephen and I met my family for dinner.  Mom, dad, my sister Carol, my brother Frank, and his girlfriend Darla made the trip up from Akron.  We enjoyed dinner at Paladar.  It was delicious.

I tried something new to me.  I had the pork chop with cornbread stuffing and crispy green beans.


April 3 was also Darla’s birthday.  We made sure to get a photo of the birthday girls.


My birthday week concluded tonight with gifts from the kids.   They got me a pizza stone and paddle.  I think they secretly picked it out so I would make pizza more often.  Coincidently,  I had just read a dough recipe that I’m anxious to try.

All in all, I had a great birthday week.


Today, we invited my parents up for a visit to Lake Farmpark.  It was a chilly and beautiful day.  My parents had never been to Lake Farmpark, so we had fun showing them around.

The first stop was the solar panel station just outside the main entrance.  Nick was happy to show grandma how it worked.  Nick and Sally both enjoyed the wagon ride.  No trip to Farmpark would be complete without a ride.


One of my favorite parts of visiting this time of year is all of the baby animals.  It seems that every time you visit, there are some newborns that are just a few days old.


After the barn visit we headed up to the Plant Science Building.  In honor of maple sugaring, there were a couple of crafts for the kids.


The staff is always so friendly and these volunteers were no exceptions.  Lori helped Nick and Sally with rubbings of plants and spider webs.  Joe was happy to answer all of Nick’s questions about the aquaponics system.  He even brought out some fish food so we could try to see the Koi.  I’ve been to Farmpark many times and I never knew there were fish!  Thanks to Lori and Joe for being so great with the kids.


Last year, we went up to the the sugar house too soon.  The park opens at 9AM, but we learned from experience that you don’t want to go until you see smoke!  After spending time with the above activities, we headed to the evaporator.  I was excited to try the maple stirs since we missed out on them last year.  Basically, they give you a serving of hot syrup and you mix air into it with your stirrer.  Once it’s cooled a bit and creamy, you enjoy it.  They were delicious.  For $1, it’s a unique treat.  Next time, I’ll remember to get them one or two at a time.  It was hard to stir ours and help the kids at the same time.  After we finished our treats, I purchased a gallon of maple syrup.  It was $48 minus our 10% discount.  That’s a good price for fresh, local, syrup.


After we looked around at the displays for a bit, Stephen took Nick on a quick side trip to see some of the tree sap.


In addition to the formal maple sugaring weekend, the quilts were still on display.  Quilts are amazing pieces of work.  We found ourselves wishing the creators listed how many hours they took.  I’m not sure how many quilts were on display, but it was well over 100.  They were spread out in several areas of the main building.


The kids were both exhausted by the time we finished lunch and both took great naps.  It was a great family day.


Many times on Saturday, I am happy as a clam to stay home and clean while Stephen takes Nick and Sally out for a couple of hours.  But, we also know that we need time doing things as a family too.  We decided to head to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens for their annual orchid show.  I’ve never really paid attention to orchids before.  I remember getting a corsage at Easter from my grandpa.  I’m pretty sure they were usually orchids.  I also know that orchids are expensive.  I didn’t know that they came in so many shapes, sizes, and colors.


At first, I wasn’t very impressed.  There were a couple of displays in the hall and Clark room.  There was also a big display in the main lobby.  It was very busy.  It turns out that today was vendor day, so there was a room set up where you could buy orchids.  It was hopping.


We made our way to the children’s area.  Sally quickly got to work at the store.  We also checked out the kitchen garden.  I never knew that vanilla came from an orchid.  I have a greater appreciation for them now.  There was a display about making your own vanilla.  I think I’m going to try that this year.  I’ve heard that it takes from 2-6 months.  So, if I start it this spring, it should be great for holiday gifts.


Nick really liked the baking section.  He and Sally enjoyed the costumes.


After a break for a quick lunch, we headed to the Glasshouse.  I am so glad that we didn’t skip this part.  We didn’t see butterflies since we didn’t go up to the second level, but we did see a few gorgeous birds.


We also quickly realized that the Glasshouse is where most of the orchids were.


There were displays everywhere!




My favorite orchid find were the ones that looked like daffodils.



We had a great time and will probably try to go again with friends before the show ends on March 25th.


Today, we had our family photo taken at church.  The church is having a directory made.  I think the last one was about 5 years ago.  We haven’t been at the church that long, so this is our first experience.

We didn’t know we were doing a directory until one Sunday, a congregation member was taking appointments for photos.  I couldn’t schedule our appointment that day since I didn’t have my calendar with me.  A couple of days later, I emailed the contact person and scheduled us for 10:40AM.  That was the earliest time still available on Saturday.  I thought it would be ok since it was still a bit before lunch time.  The appointments were 10 minutes apart, so I figured that even if they were running a little behind, it was be ok with the kids.

It looks like the company makes a deal with the church that we’ll give you a free directory, $25 credit for each family toward photos and 20% off each order.  In exchange, you let us come into the church for 2-4 days to take photos and then sell them.

We arrived at 10:29AM today.  I was happy that we were a bit early.  I didn’t catch the photographer’s name, but he was very friendly.  The actual photo taking went fairly well.  Nick and Sally got a little bored toward the end.  The guy was having Nick lay in a weird position at the end and he didn’t like it and was a bit grumpy.  But, all in all, it was a good shoot.  There were a few of the whole family and a couple of Stephen and me, along with a couple of Nick and Sally.

After the photos were done, we waited in the lobby for a few of minutes and then Eric called us into another room.  Sally went to the play room and Nick wanted to come with us.

Eric started by showing us a few photos and having us pick out which photo we wanted in the directory.  It’s hard with the kids.  We loved Nick in one photo, Sally in another, Stephen in yet another.  You get the idea.  We picked our photo and then Eric started showing us some grouping and montages of photos.  Then, he asked us what kind of package we wanted.  It felt odd that he didn’t have a list of packages with prices.  We didn’t even know where to begin.  He wrote a few things down.  Then, he had a piece of paper with montage, 8×10, 2 5×7, etc.  He asked us what we thought.  I told him that I didn’t know if we were talking about $50 or $500 and that I didn’t have any concept of photo prices.  The package he had scribbled on the tablet was $880.  Ouch!  That’s more than we spent on our wedding package and I thought we splurged.

I was very uncomfortable with the pricing on the fly.  Why wasn’t there a price list, even if the price list was just for our church?  It was very odd to me.

We asked few questions and about a couple of idea packages like a 8×10, 5×7 and a page of wallets.  He told us that they didn’t do pages of anything.  Wallets had to be ordered in sets of 6 with 12 as the minimum.  If we got 12, we could order 2 different poses.  That sure sounded like pages to me.

The more we talked, the lower our prices became.  At one point, Stephen leaned over and whispered something in my ear.  Eric looked at Nick and said, “It’s not nice to whisper. You should remember that.”

I asked how long we had to decide on the photos and he said now.  In the next couple of minutes he  finish our order and then send them off.  The company keeps the images for 2 years, but we wouldn’t get any discount if we waited to order later.

In the end, we walked away.  We weren’t prepared for any high pressure sales tactics.  We were uncomfortable with the pricing and hadn’t discussed a budget for family photos.  The photos were good, but they weren’t great.

I hope the directory turns out well, and we’ll definitely be more prepared for our photo shoot next time around.  For now, we have a couple of friends that have offered to photograph us and that works just fine for us.  As soon as the weather gets a bit nicer out, we will go to a park and have photos taken so we can fill our walls with photos we love at a reasonable price.


Last night, Stephen and I had an early Valentine’s Day dinner at Fahrenheit restaurant.  Our first date was on February 14, 2004.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years.

I have been following some of the local chefs lately.  I really like Michael Symon and enjoyed seeing him at the Fabulous Food Show.  I’ve also caught a couple of episodes of The Chew.  Stephen and I both like The Iron Chef and attended the watch party at Noodlecat for Team Sawyer a couple of weeks ago.

So, naturally, I wanted to support Rocco Whalen and his accomplishments for losing over 100 pounds at the Fat Chef watch party last night.  Rocco is one of 12 chefs that are being featured on the Food Network’s new show.

We arrived at the restaurant at 8PM for our dinner reservation.  We were seated in the far room where we’ve eaten for company parties before.  For the first 30 minutes or so, we were the only ones in the room.  It was like a private dining experience.  I had tomato bisque soup and lobster macaroni and cheese.  Both of them were heavenly.  I also really like their olive tapenade for the bread.  I must duplicate it at home soon.

As 9PM approached, there were more and more people around. I caught up with Crystal from Eat, Drink Cleveland and Julie from Wearing Mascara who were there for the watch party also.


I thought the show was well done and did a good job of depicting the challenges of weight loss, schedules and consistently being around food.  Kim Gibson from the Cleveland are was also featured.  Cleveland was nicely represented.  I was a bit disappointed in the watch party itself.  Rocco never came into the other room (where we were sitting) to introduce himself or say hi.  He gave a short speech in the other room.  We couldn’t hear it very well.  I’m sure he was with family and friends.  His TV star trainer Brett and local trainer Dan were both there as well.  Apparently, Brett surprised him by coming.  The watch party included an appetizer buffet.  We didn’t partake since we had dinner right before.  The restaurant was packed and there was lots of cheering for Rocco during all of the commercial breaks.  In total, he lost 25% of his weight for the show and is still working hard to get to his goal.

I wanted to say hi and get a photo at the end of the party, but Rocco was mobbed and we were beat, so we headed home.  We were up past midnight, which is way too late for a work night.

I think we are done with watch parties for a while, but my list of restaurants to try out in the Cleveland area keeps growing.


I recently found out that an acquaintance of mine has breast cancer.  She noticed a lump and a week later it was the size of a golf ball.  The doctors didn’t bother with a biopsy, they just removed it.  Now, she is preparing for a double mastectomy.  She’s 21 years old!

When I hear things like this, it really makes me think hard about how I live my life.  You never know if you are going to get a tomorrow or what you may be faced with tomorrow.  I’m also reminded of the book “Eat That Frog” that I have been reading.  It’s all about tackling the hard stuff and things that matter most.

I’m glad that I get regular physicals and keep tabs on my health.  I do self exams and have had a couple of mammograms.  Except for my weight, I’m in great health.  I’m working on the weight and have been making plans for more healthy eating and exercise.

Live your life to the fullest everyday!

 Posted by at 10:23 PM