In May, we road-tripped to NYC for some much needed vacation. We had some key toddler activities that really helped us make it through. (You can read about those HERE).



If driving from Cleveland to NYC wasn’t enough of a challenge, we embarked on our biggest road trip yet driving the Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and back to Ohio. Day 1: a five hour drive. Day 2: A six hour drive. Day 4: a three hour drive. Day 5: a seven hour drive.

With. A. Toddler.

We brought along the classics from the last trip, but I knew we were going to need a few more goodies.

So, I went to my favorite store in the world, Marc’s (and my husband’s least favorite store), and stocked up.

This time, I bought a few new books, flashcards/picture cards, and a massive amount of stickers.

I really had no idea if any of these things would work, but to my surprise, they did!

The real MVP of the trip was the sticker book. For $1.49 (this is why I love Marc’s), J-bird had a new book about a party in the jungle. At the end of the book, you could make a party hat and load it up with stickers.

I am not joking when I say that this occupied J-bird’s time for about 3 hours! Yep!

Stickers take a lot of concentration to peel off, and then for a little creative mind, placing them in just the right place is very important, not to mention ripping them off and placing them on mommy’s arm, the seat, or anything really.

What a hit.

For your next trip in the car, test out some stickers and let me know how it goes!




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



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



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!)


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.


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.


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!



the one year birthday party

My child is one! I had so much fun throwing her a birthday party (with lots of help from my parents) and wanted to share some of the memories with you.

Her day of course started with birthday waffles. How could it not?

After breakfast we got ready and headed out to my parent’s house for the festivities. Birthday Girl had 3 outfits to wear that day…her “I’m cute so let’s take a picture” outfit, her “smash cake tutu” outfit, and the “okay people, leave me alone now” outfit.

I’m sure I had more fun with the outfit changes than she did.


Our festivities included lunch, with lots of her favorite vegan foods, a little photo booth session, the smash cake, and presents.

What was on the menu at a 1 year old’s vegan birthday party?

Appetizer: Squash and Carrot Soup
Salad: Big green salad with lots of fresh veggies
Main: Lentil Bolognese over pasta
Dessert: Fruit
Drinks: Sparkling Wine
Dessert: Vegan Cupcakes


Birthday Girl was hilarious with the photos. She’s such a squirmy active girl, so it took a lot of effort to get her to smile at the camera.

And then came the smash cake. Holy. Cow. This cake was delicious. (and yes, I totally ate some of her cake) #MinimalistBaker, you know what you’re doing. It was really fun making the cake. I couldn’t really justify spending money on a cake that would most likely end up on the ground, so I made it myself. It turned out delicious!



Our last activity, opening presents, was a lot of fun. Birthday Girl did it all by herself! She knew exactly what to do with the bags and tissue paper. She was really cracking us up though with the cards. She was super into a pink cat card from my grandma, and the other cards that were big. The cards that were smaller she would just toss to the side. Picky little girl! As the presents kept going she would periodically return to playing with the cat card. Sorry Birthday Girl, you are not about to get a cat.



I think the other highlight of the party was BG showing off her newly acquired skill of responding “baaa” to the question, “What does the sheep say?” How could you not love that?

This girl has stolen our hearts. She’s loves to laugh and be with people. She just started walking this week, so the adventure is definitely going to continue to get interesting! Up next…climbing!




the day it all started


February 25th… One year ago today, I woke up with the anticipation of Baby Girl arriving at any moment. It was my due date, so get it together kid…it’s time to come out.

I went to work hoping to make it through the day without my water breaking all over my cubicle, or something horrifically embarrassing like that. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead, I started feeling the tiniest contractions every 30 minutes in the late afternoon. “This is it,” I thought.

Little did I know that it would be 48 more hours of contractions, 3 visits to the delivery unit, and a heck of a lot of pain and screaming before I would get to meet Baby Girl.

One year later, I’m planning a birthday party, sipping my coffee, and enjoying the giggles of my little girl.

In one year so much has changed in our lives. Date nights require babysitters, the apartment gets really quiet after the 7:00 pm bedtime commences, and getting out the door is no small task.

Our vocabulary has changed to include baby babble, our Amazon cart is full of diapers and wipes, and our apartment looks like Toys R’ Us’ vomited all over the place.

Despite the chronic sleep deprivation and busy schedules, this has been the best year of my life. Baby Girl is full of personality, loves to laugh, and is a social butterfly. She will literally stare you down until engage in conversation with her. She thinks it’s hilarious to jump on Daddy’s pillow in the morning while he sleeps. She gives very open mouth kisses and puts the phone up to her ear when you say “hello.” She is incredibly active and basically never stops moving. Her favorite thing to say (and then giggle) is “ba-di-gum.” Maybe one day we’ll figure out what she means.

This is my girl.

I’m treasuring up the last two days before Baby Girl turns one. The countdown to the smash cake has begun!




Toy Rotation Baskets


Toy Rotation Baskets

Want a quick weekend project that is going to save you time and money?

In about 10 minutes, I created Baby Girl’s Toy Rotation Baskets. What is this, you might ask? This is a way to stop buying new toys all the time and reduce the number of toys you have to clean up every day. This is a way to keep the novelty in what you already own.

So what did I do? First, I laid out all of the toys, stuffed animals, teethers, and books that we own, outside of the big toys like the exersaucer or activity mat.

Next, I made piles of similar items. All the stuffed animals go in one pile, books in another, etc.

Finally, I grabbed 4 baskets and divided each type of item equally into the 4 baskets. What we are left with is 4 different baskets that all have each category/item type.

Now what? To keep your current possessions fresh and novel to both you and baby, put one basket out for 1 to 2 weeks. At the end of the time frame it goes back on the shelf and the next basket comes out. Tadaa! New toys! New books! New stuffed animals! Awesome!!!

Here’s my one exception: anything that baby is incredibly attached to or you seriously need all the time, keep out all the time. For us, it’s Sophie the Giraffe. Sophie is our best friend.

So now you’re able to save money by not buying new toys, and save time by having less to pick up every day.

We’ve been trying this out for a little bit now, and love it! The basket is even a fun part of the playtime options as Baby Girl can flip it over and climb on it. I’ve also come to enjoy toys I didn’t even realize we had or barely touched before.

What do you do to keep the novelty in what you already own?

Have a great day!