Mommy + Writer

Cleveland Daycation – West Side

It’s time for an adventure don’t you think?

We’ve lived in northeast Ohio for a few years now and yet we have a whole grocery list of places in the area we haven’t yet explored. We’re trying to change that this summer by going on daycations around town.

These little ventures aren’t just thrown together – we try to plan it like we would an out of town vacation so the kids feel like it’s a real getaway.

Our first daycation exploration was to Cleveland’s West Side.

 

Here’s where we visited:

 

Lunch at Happy Dog

5801 Detroit Ave.

Choose from 50 toppings on an all-beef or veggie dog. Peanut, pickle, mustard hot dog? You can get that here. If all the choices seem too overwhelming select one of their creative, suggested combos. Fill out the form with your selected toppings and then give it to your server. Along with hot dogs there are tater tots with cool dips like Jamaican jerk mustard mojo, Buffalo wing hot sauce, and more. This place gets pretty hopping at night so my advice is to go during the day with your kiddos.

 

Eating at Happy Dog

Dessert at Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop

6800 Detroit Ave.

Sweet Moses is just a short walk from Happy Dog – enough time to recover from an extra helping of tater tots. This old-style dessert parlor includes a mouth-watering assortment of homemade ice creams and treats. We chose the Gordon Square Sundae, which has a dense brownie at the bottom topped with Bananas Foster ice cream, caramel, and hot fudge. Oh, and whip cream and a cherry. We couldn’t resist getting one of their brownies to go, too. The brownie is served like a popsicle dipped in chocolate and toppings.

 

Sundae at Sweet Moses, Cleveland

Stroll Through Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop

17462 Lorain Ave.

Both the recent Avengers movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were filmed in Cleveland. And Superman got his start in this town that was a stand-in for Metropolis. We wanted to embrace Cleveland’s comic book roots so we took time to work our way through Carol and John’s Comic Shop, which has been an institution in this town for over 20 years. There are several bins with $1 comic books perfect for a child that wants a souvenir for the day.

 

Visiting a Comic Book Shop

Hike Around Fort Hill Loop

Rocky River, North Olmsted

One-hundred-and-thirty-five steps – we counted them! This 1.3-mile loop takes you to the top of Fort Hill where you can see Rocky River and watch planes take off above the trees from the airport that’s literally in the backyard of this preserve. Save some time to go through the Rocky River Nature Center that’s at the base of the trial. The step trail only takes about 30 minutes or less depending on how many breaks your kiddos take on the stairs.

 

Rocky River Preserve

Movie Time! The Amazing Spider-Man 2

We finished off our adventures by taking in a movie.

Fort Hill Loop View

For more tips on how to plan a great daycation head on over to my post at Wandering Educators (coming soon).

 

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6 mistakes every mother should make

Ice cream night at Jeni's

So I’m not a perfect mom, that’s no news flash. But I must admit I sometimes fall prey to that idea of being close—you know, the mom that volunteers every week in her child’s classroom, works part-time, mows the lawn, reads to her kids every night, plans amazing meals. Sometimes when I forget a permission slip, or miss a deadline for a class sign-up, I have to remind myself, we all make mistakes. Some mothering mistakes are worth making, keep reading for a few you really should try!

Letting your kids eat junk food.

Now I’m not saying you should let your kids eat Cheetos and brownies for every meal. But the occasional bowl of rocky road ice cream and King-size Hershey bars doesn’t guarantee your child will have heart disease when he’s 50. Food creates memories at our house, so bring on the brownies.

Forgetting deadlines to register your child for activities.

Often at the beginning of the school year I get so excited about all of the classes and activities offered after school that I make plans to sign up my kids for too much. Luckily, I often miss the enrollment deadlines. Children need free time (so do moms!) so every once in a while don’t turn in the soccer/pottery class/Spanish camp form.

Bribing your kids to be good.

We’ve all heard you’re not supposed to bribe kids to get them to do something, right? But I dare you to find a 3-year-old that doesn’t respond to doing whatever you say—like cleaning up her room–for a Dum-dum (I guess that’s a mistake double-whammy, bribery and candy).

Giving kids too much TV time.

We have a designated movie night every Friday. We eat dinner in front of the TV and watch movies. I’ve given up feeling bad about our TV habit. Instead, I look forward to sharing some of my favorite flicks with my kids. We’ve watched some classics, like every episode of Scooby-Doo, and some clunkers (see The Last Airbender, The Last Mimzy…). But watching them together has given us a common language to talk about things.

Leaving your house a mess.

I like to have my house clean—who doesn’t? Yet when it comes to kids some messes are worth leaving alone or else you’re going to drive yourself crazy cleaning all day.

Moving in on your kid’s space.

There are plenty of terms out there for moms who are deemed overly involved in their kids’ lives—helicopter parent, hovering parent. But I’ve found the more I know what’s going on in my children’s lives, the better I can help guide them through the tough times and celebrate with them the good times.

The mistake list could go on—and on. The truth is sometimes as moms we’re too hard on ourselves. And often what might be considered a mothering blunder can turn into a real blessing.

*I wrote this piece a few years ago for MetroParent and I thought with Mother’s Day coming up Sunday, I just had to share.

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Foodie ideas from The North Carolina Museum of Art

Iris restaurant inside the North Carolina Museum of Art

My kids couldn’t join me on my trip to Raleigh and Fayetteville, North Carolina, for the Midwest Travel Writers Association conference. But, I’m trying to get as many ideas from my travels–and tastes–as I can to bring back and try with them.

Here are just a few from my stop at Iris, the North Carolina Museum of Art‘s restaurant where I had lunch. The seasonal menu had plenty of tempting dishes, but I always try to choose something I can’t do at home, so I went for the risotto. From the menu: farro piccolo risotto, lemon, thyme, dijon parmigiano-reggiano cheese garlic sauteed broccolini crispy fried leeks.

Whew, what does that translate to on your plate? A whole grain cooked like risotto, generously doused with Parmesan cheese, fresh lemon and hints of thyme and mellow dijon mustard. To the side, the tender broccolini, slightly cooked in butter and garlic, all topped off with thinly sliced, fried leeks (think gourmet French’s fried onions).

At home: I’m going to try using whole wheat berries more in savory dishes. My kids grind wheat berries for flour, but I’ve been meaning to try them

Farro risotto

toasted then tossed into salads. Maybe one of these days I’ll even try making them into risotto…

For dessert at the NCMA (you didn’t think I was going to skip it, did you?) I had the apple tarte

tatin with roasted cinnamon ice cream. Presented in deep white bowl with a web of spun sugar, the combination of warm apples and cool cinnamon paired perfectly. Now, if I were to try spun sugar at home, I’d like set off all the fire alarms with the smoke I’d create trying to get the cooked sugar to that just-right temperature where it was melted, but not burned.

At home: For all the flavor of this dish, without all the work, you could peel then saute apple slices in butter and sprinkle them with a little fresh lemon and cinnamon before serving. Instead of making cinnamon ice cream from scratch, soften vanilla bean ice cream until you can stir in ground cinnamon (I’d throw in a little nutmeg and a hit of cayenne too). Then you can either re-freeze the ice cream or serve it just after you mixed in the spices. Place the ice cream atop the sauteed apples and in lieu of the more dramatic spun sugar, my thought is to dress up each individual portion with a cinnamon stick.

Apple tarte tatin

Your turn: do you have a family favorite dish (or dessert) inspired by one of your travels?

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MKES in Ladies’ Home Journal, KIWI and more

THE best snack on a hike--one kid-sized Pink Lady apple.

Thanks readers! Crawling around the web you might be surprised where you’ll find MKES featured. Here’s some recent cross-postings. Enjoy!

Tales from the Mothering Trenches

Ladies’ Home Journal featured 12 mommy bloggers–and MKES was included! Check it out.

Fun Afterschool Snacks

For great ideas on finding and using organic products, I open the pages of KIWI magazine. I wrote a guest post for them on fun, creative after school snacks for kids. My youngest was all for being my ‘official tester’ on this one.

13 Communication Tips from Writers

Popular marriage blogger Alisa Bowman, whose book, Project: Happily Ever After comes out this December shares tips from a pool of writers on how to get your point across to your spouse. I was able to share one suggestion–and it didn’t even have to do with food! Truth be told, some of my biggest disagreements with my hubby have been over food prep. I figure if we’re getting heated over whether to add chicken broth or water to refried beans–not disagreeing over discipline techniques, money–we’re doing okay.

Road Trip: Take the Kids to Michigan

At A Traveler’s Library, authored by traveler and avid reader Vera Marie Badertscher, I was able to share a few books that helped us get to know Michigan a little better. Surprisingly, I didn’t even talk about food in the post–shocker!

Four cheese grilled cheese

Martha and Me takes a closer look at the recipes from Martha–yes, THAT Martha’s magazines and cookbooks. Believe it or not, some of Martha’s recipes don’t always end up as tasty as they look in pictures. Mother, writer and food fan, Brette Sember gives you the goods on the best recipes and offers some of her own. I passed along one of our family’s variations on grilled cheese–first off, you can’t just use one cheese!

Bad Mommy Moments

We all have them and mine just happens to do with, you guessed it, food. Click over to Mothering to read more about moments in mommyhood that we’d rather forget.

There’s more to come!

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Look for my latest article in KIWI Magazine: Service Birthdays

Photo credit: Calico_13

With its emphasis on organic foods and healthy living, KIWI magazine is one of my new go-to places for parenting advice. In the June/July issue you can read about how to create “Birthday Parties with a Purpose” (from KIWI’s front cover) which was inspired in part by my kids’ efforts to have a different kind of celebration.

Kids’ parties are fun, but sometimes they lack, well, substance. My oldest daughter has been asking for a ‘give-back’ party this year instead of your standard bash. She doesn’t want presents, she wants to collect donations from friends to give to our local animal shelter. And as for party games, she wants to make dog and cat beds for the shelter. As a parent I couldn’t be more thrilled–she’ll be helping out someone else on her special day instead of just itching for more gifts (presents that are usually forgotten after a week anyway!).

Has anyone else tried service birthday parties with their kids?

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