Beach Days

As a Clevelander, I’m fortunate enough to live in close proximity to Lake Erie. Is it the best place to swim, lay out, or hang out? Probably not. But, for a toddler who hasn’t seen the beaches of the Caribbean or walked in the sand of Mexico, it’s pretty incredible.

This weekend we had a little bit of down time, so we decided to head to the lakefront. What a beautiful weekend of sunshine, warm weather, and the lightheartedness of summer.

CLEcitymom Beach Days

The awe and wonder of waves hitting your child’s feet for the first time is one of the most magical things I’ve experienced.

Watching J-bird grab the sand in her hands, draw little shapes with her fingers, and discover the not-so-pleasant feeling of wiping your face after you’ve been digging in the sand was so incredible.

CLEcitymom Beach Babe

It’s so easy to take these experiences for granted, especially when you’ve traveled a decent amount and seen many amazing things. But, wow… watching a toddler discover the world really puts it all back into perspective!

So here’s to a new week. May the beauty of this world remind us of how big and amazing our God is.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. — Psalm 19

Cheers,

Anna

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Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

We recently took a fabulous trip to NYC…with a toddler. To my surprise, she handled all the traveling like a champ and seemed to have a wonderful time, as well.

Being raised in the city, J-bird is in love with tall buildings, people watching, and riding the “big train.”

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Our trip was somewhat Hamilton themed. We visited his home “The Grange”, the dueling grounds where he was shot, the Morris Jumel mansion where President Washington had meetings, Fraunces Tavern, where Washington gave his farewell address, Trinity Church where Hamilton is buried, and of course, we saw the Hamilton musical on Broadway.

It was magical.

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

There were definitely some key things we did or brought that helped make this trip a success.

For the car, an almost 8 hour drive, we had some fun activities and a very enjoyable ride. Here’s a list of a few tips that helped make it work for us:

  • Bring a few “new” items in a special bag. Our new items were:
    • Play dough
    • Magna Doodle
    • A new coloring book
  • Bring lots of snacks.
  • Bring a few dolls or staple toys you know your child loves
    • J-bird spent a decent amount of time in her own imaginary world with her stuffed animals and her purse…she LOVES having a purse

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Navigating the city required a few more staples…

  • Purell gel and hand wipes
  • Snack containers with plastic rings that you can attach to the stroller
  • A very very very lightweight and easy to open/close umbrella stroller with a cover
  • Snacks on hand at all times
  • Water bottles with good lids to keep the tops clean and leak free

I cannot even explain how much I loved traveling to NYC. The city is electric. I love seeing so many people pursuing their dreams. 

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Oh…and the food is amazing. We eat vegan and had absolutely no problem finding food. Our favorite spots included Superiority Burger and By CHLOE’S.

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Cheers,

Anna

City Gardening with a Toddler

Gardening with a toddler is a memorable, sensory filled experience that I am so glad I did with J-Bird (aka my kid).

Watching her touch the seeds and the soil was so fascinating. We live in the city, and she’s spent the majority of her life in the concrete jungle known as Cleveland, so grassy plains and earthy adventures are not really childhood memories for her.

Raised Bed Garden

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

You may be wondering why our garden is in a giant plastic bin.

Cleveland has a lead problem. We have lead in our paint and lead in the city soil. So, the best option for gardening is a raised bed that doesn’t have access to this lead-filled soil. As a working mom who is also in school, I just don’t have time to build a beautiful raised bed. This bin situation is quick, easy, and still loads of fun.

So we took one of our large plastic bins (you can get one for about $5 at Target, Walmart, etc…), drilled large holes in the bottom for drainage,  and filled it with organic raised bed soil from Home Depot. The bin was filled with 2 bags. (Don’t mind the grass the fell into our bin. Totally unintentional!)

Soil

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

We then planted our seeds according to the directions on the seed packs, watered the soil, and let the fun begin. It’s been a few weeks and we are starting to see results!!!

I love going out and checking on our garden with J. She loves touching the dirt and gets so excited to see the plants growing.

Seeds

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

It’s not a big garden, but with a small child, it is very manageable and a fun experience that doesn’t cost much. You even get to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!

We planted peas, spinach, and kale!

I’m sure a super mom out there could take this to the next level and have fun painting the bin. I’m far from a super mom- more like a fly by the seat of my pants kind of mom, so our bin is just blue. But you know what, it works.

Plants

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

We had so much fun with this little spring adventure.

Here’s a rundown of the supplies:

  • 1 large plastic bin
  • A drill or any kind of sharp object you can make holes in the bottom with
  • 2 bags of organic raised bed soil
  • Seeds
  • A watering can (you can always use a plain old cup if needed)
CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

I hope you try this with your littles! It was so fun!

Cheers,

Anna

when we’re done hibernating

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I have officially entered “hibernation mode.” I think I was made to live in the Bahamas but somehow ended up in Cleveland. This cold weather is leading to a lot of hand lotion, hot chocolate, and layers.

We did end up venturing out into the cold this weekend to the W. 78th St. studios and enjoyed spending time with friends and seeing some really awesome art. As we were driving back through Gordon Square Arts District, we noticed a bunch of new businesses that have popped up around W. 65th since we lived there a few years ago.

It’s been so fun living in the city of Cleveland and watching new life, new business, and new enthusiasm for growth and development in the area.

As a mom, I’m excited to share the city with Baby Girl. Driving through the neighborhoods of Cleveland we started talking about how much fun it will be to take Baby Girl to places like Sweet Moses for some vegan ice cream or Happy Dog to build her own vegan sausage concoction.

The Cleveland neighborhoods are so vibrant and inviting. While I do love the beautiful snow and excuse to drink hot chocolate whenever I want, I am excited for warmer days and the adventures that will follow throughout this year. My almost one-year-old has a lot of Cleveland to explore!

What are your favorite places to visit in the Cleveland neighborhoods?

Wishing you warmth and sunshine.

xo

CLEcitymom

Babies on trains

Babies on Trains

I strap BG in her stroller, throw the diaper bag under her, and take a quick 5 minute walk to the train stop. If we are really late, we jump right on the train as it pulls up. If we planned our time well, we wait on the platform listening to music over the loudspeaker and get a little giggling in before we board.

Once on the train, we go to the designated area for strollers and put the brakes on. I pull her out of her seat and she sits or stands on my lap looking around at the people around her. As the train pulls away she looks out the window at the beautiful bridges in the city, trees and shrubs along the tracks, and even gets views of our iconic crooked river. She giggles as I describe to her what we see and loves that she is free to bounce on my lap. A few people try to wave at her or say hello. I politely respond and get back to baby. As we approach our stop, I strap her back in her stroller and we wheel away for another quick walk to our destination.

The more I’ve used the train to get from one CLE neighborhood to the next, the more I love it!  If you’ve never tried the train, let’s go! Visit RTAs website to learn more about how to ride or join me on a trip to one of Cleveland’s great neighborhoods to get some vegan ice cream! 

Hope you are having a great week!

xo
CLEcitymom

Giggles and Personality

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7 months of having Baby Girl in our lives has been one epic adventure. Each month she’s learning something new and her personality is shining bright.

The latest aspect of her personality that is starting to pop through is her giggling and full-out belly laughing at me, David, and the most random, horribly timed things.

For instance, we were reading her the story of how God sent the plagues to Egypt so that Pharaoh would let His people go. The most inopportune time- the moment where David reads, “and then God sent the worst plague of all and Pharaoh’s firstborn son died,” Baby Girl busts out laughing. I can only wonder what she thought was so hilarious.

Or those times when David and I are having a serious conversation and she just keeps smiling and laughing at her daddy. Baby Girl, he’s trying to be serious…stop making him smile.

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The joy she brings to our home is amazing. I’m so thankful for her life and for her bubbly personality. I sometimes think about how I can’t wait for her to talk, walk, or do the next big thing. I just want to dwell is this present phase, soak up the smiles and the laughter, and enjoy each day.

Her joy challenges me to be a joyful person, to love life, and to be grateful for all that God has blessed me with. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, work stress, frustrating people, or whatever.

Let’s be thankful for today.

xo

CLEcitymom

dining out in the city with kids

Dining out in Cleveland with kids

Do you love eating out as much as I do? I mean, the penny pincher side of me doesn’t really like going out, but the working mom in me is like, “BRING IT ON!”

It doesn’t even have to be fancy. You could win me over with a burrito bowl.

Cleveland is such a foodie city. We’ve got so many great options for all different taste buds. It is so fun having out-of-town friends come visit and introduce them to places the The Melt, Happy Dog, or our Iron Chef’s restaurants, Lola or Lolita.

But since having a kid, my perspective on eating out has changed slightly. Instead of just looking for fun menus and intriguing atmospheres, I’m looking for things like changing tables, the right noise level, and quick dining experiences in the event of a fussy baby.

Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly dining options…

Breakfast: Bon Bon Café in Ohio City.
Delicious food. A great place for vegan and non-vegans. And… A changing table! The noise level in the café is also perfect. It’s loud enough that your kid can make noise, but not too loud that you can’t hear each other. Try the tofu hash next time you visit. It’s fabulous.

Lunch: 5th Street Arcades in Downtown Cleveland. 
There are a few options in the arcades for lunch. We love going to the Indian restaurant, Indies. Jack Flaps also just opened in the arcades. You can also grab a smoothie or vegan lunch at Pure and Supreme Cuisine. There is open space in the arcades for kids to run around, the noise level is perfect, and public bathrooms are right by the restaurants. It’s just like going to the mall’s food court- simple, casual, and kid-friendly.

Dessert: Mitchell’s Ice Cream on W 25th in Ohio City. This place is perfect. Changing table, check! Ice cream making that you can watch, check check!  Vegan chocolate ice cream, check check check!!

Good old baths and bedtime have kept us from eating out too much at night, so I am still on the hunt for some good dinner options. Right now we stick more to takeout in the evenings – thank you Barrio for the endless supply of tofu tacos and giant bags of tortilla chips and Tea House Noodles for satisfying my husband’s craving of Rica Rica sauce. You know how to make us happy.

I’ll keep you posted as I find more great kid-friendly spots in Cleveland!

So here’s the real question…Where do you like to eat out?

Xo,

CLEcitymom