Weekend Recap (Late Edition)

Yes, I know it’s Friday. Am I the only one who has to play catch-up all week after a 3-day weekend? I’m not complaining at all. But damn, this week has gone by quickly. This past weekend was one of this tales of parenthood that makes you wonder how we survive it all. I like to call this one Traveling with a Sick Toddler in a Single-Bed Hotel Room. Or How Not to Do It.

I have to preface this recap of the weekend with the tale of the sick toddler. Last Wednesday I got the dreaded “daycare call” and was told that Madman had a low fever and had crawled onto his cot 45 minutes early then promptly passed out. He hadn’t eaten and had acted dazed all morning. I picked him up after nap and he was just a cuddly, tired lump all afternoon. On Thursday Mark and I tag-teamed staying at home with him and by that evening he had still not eaten and broken out in a rash. A trip to Urgent Care later and we had a raging double ear infection (yikes! that wasn’t even on our radar) and either strep or Hand, Foot & Mouth. The CNP who checked him didn’t bother to get a throat culture since she was going to prescribe antibiotics for his ears anyway so if it was strep we were covered. If it was Hand, Foot & Mouth that’s just a waiting game. As Friday progressed we were pretty sure it was Hand, Foot & Mouth and the poor boy was miserable and looked diseased.

So! Saturday was my cousin’s wedding in Columbus – an event my entire dad’s side of the family would be at, including my brother and nephew from Florida. So we headed down to the hotel with Sir Coxsackie and his sister, leaving at nap time in the hopes that someone would get at least 2 hours of sleep in the car. He fell sleep right on cue (with snacks in hnad, watching Clifford). All was going according to plan. That is until he woke up 20 minutes later. And never fell back asleep. Oh boy…


Too bad he didn’t stay like this

We arrived at our hotel which was full to the brim of sports teams – apparently there were both soccer and baseball tournaments in the area over the weekend. Yippee. We got the early check-in we asked for but we had single king room, not the double queen we wanted. Turns out ALL the double queen rooms had been booked by the sports teams. Fantastic. We get to the room and throw the girl in her swimsuit and I took her to the pool – we had been promising it the whole day. Mark stayed in the room with Madman, hoping that maybe he’d doze off. After a swim and visiting with some of the family we headed up to get wedding-ready only to find out that Madman had refused to sleep. Yikes.

We arrive at the church literally 2 minutes before the 4:00 PM wedding started … oops! … and I ended up hanging out in the vestibule with Madman who just wanted to run around. He was getting more and more clingy and whiny by the moment but he did have a chance to play with my cousin’s kid for a bit (I was told he wasn’t contagious anymore and I hope that was right). After the pretty and short ceremony we did family photos and more chatting before we headed to the reception. We drove the long way, once again going that Madman would close his eyes for just a few minutes with no luck. At the reception Madman wanted nothing to do with anyone but me. He wanted to be held at all times and was super cranky. In the meantime Matilda was super-excited to see all of her cousins. She was bouncing around like a pinball from one to another and back. She couldn’t wait to dance and see the bride again. Madman held out as long as he could but by 7 Mark took a very tired and cranky boy back to the hotel.

Matilda & her cousin B, my brother with Matilda,
Matilda’s reaction when the bride and groom entered the reception

Matilda and I stayed and she was thrilled that we were seated right where the wedding party came in. She was so attentive to every detail and tradition and LOVED to clink the glasses to get the bride and groom to kiss. Finally, around 8:30 the dancing started. Matilda shook her groove thing for about 3 songs until she declared herself DONE and wanted to go back to the hotel. Apparently the crash after her 1st Shirley Temple was a hard one.

My parents, married 45 years this fall, were one of the last 2 couples dancing during the anniversary dance,
Matilda and the drink of red dye and sugary doom,

Stephen (my cousin) and Sara – the happy couple

Now, remember we are all in a single-king room with a pack n’ play for Madman. Matilda and wade through the packs of 8-9 year old boys roaming the hotel halls with no parental supervision (OMG) and tip-toe into the room at about 10 PM to find the boys wide awake. Madman had not had a single moment of sleep since about 11 AM. Matilda crawled into bed and quickly fell asleep but Madman was running laps in his crib. At one point I saw him try and nearly succeed at climbing out. He FINALLY crashed around 11. Then for the rest of the night I had a 5 year old who thought she was a barnacle attached to my back. That is until she woke up at 2:30 crying about her ear hurting. I corralled her in the bathroom where she cried and screamed refused to take any medicine for a good 20 minutes. I finally got her to take some motrin and she quickly fell back asleep. Of course, even after all of this Madman was up at 7 AM so Matilda got another round of swimming in as Madman and I toured the halls of the hotel.

Sunday morning we spent at my aunt’s house in Columbus for breakfast and more family time before we hit the road back to Cleveland. This time Madman was asleep within minutes and actually slept most of the time, thank goodness. When we got home we did fun things like make a meal plan for the week and go grocery shopping. We did, however, check out Old Carolina BBQ for dinner and it was delicious.

Monday was spent installing our air conditioners to ward off the 95 degree heat, sprinklers and then Mark and Matilda went to a cook out with friends why Madman and I stayed home and watched way too much TV. Then, since Matilda got the sprinkler I pulled out all the sandbox buckets and a big plastic tub onto the drive way and let Madman go to town in the water. Of course, the night ended with 3 window AC units blasting in the bedrooms which meant we were in for a game of “electricity roulette”. If you don’t know the rules you’ve probably never lived in an old house. The game is where you ask yourself “If I turn this on, will it blow a fuse?” Turns out when the item in question is a tiny nightlight the answer is yes. Ahhh – I love old houses. Good thing we keep a stash of a few dozen fuses around. Once that was fixed we all fell into bed for the night.

Hope your holiday weekend was good to you and that your week has gone as fast as mine. TGIF – time to do it all again!



What We’ve Been Doing (Instead of Blogging)



First tube slide

First Chucks

Chalk art



Cloud gazing

NYC in August (Loved!)

But I was so happy to see my city again

I swear he grew 3″ while I was gone

A week at “grandma & grandpa camp” and suddenly she’s this big kid

Watching The Avengers blow up CLE

Pretending she’s a teenager

16 months = endless entertainment

What have you been up to this summer?

Race Day

…continued from here
Dark and early Sunday morning Mark’s alarm went off at 4:30 so he could eat breakfast well ahead of the 6:30 race start. I crawled out from under the covers at 5:15, scooped up the Madman and dropped him off in my parent’s room, and we headed for the car.

Ready to run

A quick drop off near the starting line and I went back to the hotel where they were just setting up the breakfast. I grabbed a bagel, banana and coffee and went up to the room to watch the weather. While it wasn’t raining when I dropped Mark off the radar didn’t look good. By the time my mom brought the kids back down to my room at 6:15 there was a steady downpour outside. Yuck.

At 7:15 we gathered in the lobby with signs, noisemakers and umbrellas and all headed outside. The hotel was right on the marathon course at about mile 6 ½. There was a good size crowd already gathered and we found a spot right along the midline of the road. The leaders had already passed that point but soon we saw some of the 30,408(!) runners trudge up the hill and around the curve.

The best cheering section ever

My mom spotted him first and we all cheered and yelled as he ran by. The rain had tapered off to drizzle at this point and he seemed pretty chipper. (I had 8 different signs for cheering, the one my dad is holding above got the most smiles/laughs from runners).

Blurry but happy!

We went back to the hotel and I left the kid with my parents, threw the rest of the signs in the car and headed over to Hyde Park Square to meet up with the course at mile 11. Except I never made it there. From the hotel the only way (as far as I could tell) to get there was to cross the marathon course which, obviously, wasn’t happening. I circled around for a bit in the adjoining neighborhoods and finally parked and found the route. I got set with my camera and signs, asked a volunteer where we were – mile 10ish – and pulled out my phone to see where Mark was. According to his Facebook updates via Runmeter he was already at mile 12. Shit.

I hustled back to the car and mapped my way to the “Party Zone” at mile 21.5. I wasn’t too worried about missing Mark at 10 because my cousin and aunt were planning to cheer at miles 14 and 17 (which, for spectators, were only a few blocks apart). I got to my spot around 8:50 and checked Facebook again – he was already at mile 18 – he was flying!

A few minutes later I got a call from my cousin, Carrie. They got a little lost but, were now at mile 16 – had he gone past yet? My heart fell; according to Runmeter he was already well past that spot. And Mark hadn’t seen a familiar face for over 12 miles. I felt awful!

But if he was at 18 already I would see him shortly at 21.5. I cheered as I waited; lots of people were looking ragged. Just beat down and ready to stop. I fact one guy cramped up as he went by and I helped prop him up as another spectator massaged his calves. After 20 minutes I got worried that maybe he was injured and had to stop…he should have gone by me by now.

Then my phone rang – Carrie and my Aunt Gretchen were driving along the route to get to the finish and they saw Mark! They were able to pull over and cheer for him – what a relief! He had just passed mile 19 when they saw him….apparently the Runmeter App had gone wonky and the mileage was off.

Then around the corner he came. He looked pretty beat down, but he was still running. I yelled and rattled the cow bell and tried to take a few photos. I wanted to do everything at once; I was so excited to see him. I fact I started crying a little bit and he told me later that he did, too.

Five miles to go

I jumped back in my car and hightailed it downtown for the finish. The crowd was huge and I had to drive around several blocks before I find a parking garage with open spots. I ran down to the finish area and shimmied my way up to the barricade. I was on the wrong side- the half-marathon lane was directly in front of me – but I didn’t want to risk missing him cross the finish as I tried to get a better spot.

My cousin called and said they were on the other side, right next to the finish line. Now all we had to do was watch for him to come down the final quarter-mile. After not very long I spotted him. I screamed and yelled and waved around my sign and as he passed by he spotted me.

I cried.

Mark crossed the finish at 4:21. I am just so damn proud of him.

By the time we got back to the hotel we had 15 minutes to clear out*. So we threw everything together and headed north to my cousin’s apartment. She graciously offered her place for Mark to shower and relax.
I had set up a lunch for everyone at nearby InCahoots*. Mark was able to sit and rest for a bit and M was excited to give him the gifts we had purchased to commemorate his accomplishment.
Official Flying Pig Finisher hat and jacket
After a little more time visiting and resting at Carrie’s apartment we all hit the road for home.
My Aunt in the center (my cousin took the photo)
Notice the awesome shirts my sister got for the kids
Despite the rain and long drives it was a terrific weekend. One that I hope I never forget. Mark just started running last June. He turned 39 2 weeks ago. He trained through a Cleveland winter – rain, sleet, snow, wind, slush, and ice (even a few rogue skunk encounters) – nothing stopped him. More than once he returned from a 10+ mile run with his coat and hair covered in frost. He even bought running cleats for traction in the snow and ice. He did almost all of his runs after the kids went to bed, hitting the pavement after 8 PM, so he wouldn’t miss any time with them.

Mark is truly an inspiration to me. I love you, Mark!

*You’d think that when an entire hotel is full of runners that maybe they’d have a pretty flexible check-out time, considering the timing of the race. But no, the Spring Hill Midtown was pretty rude and we had to be out by noon, even though they told me (a Marriott Rewards member) a week prior that a late check-out “should be no problem”.

**They were fantastic about accommodating us. And the food was really good, too. I would totally recommend them if you are in the area. (I got nothing for saying this, they were just great to us).

Race Travel Report

This past weekend we picked up the kids from school early, loaded up the station wagon and drove the 4+ hours down to Cincinnati for Mark’s 1st marathon. To say it was a great weekend would be an understatement. You might think that only runners can write race reports, but spouses who spend hours planning and organizing the logistics of an out-of-town race also have a story to tell…

Such a great traveler (thank god for travel DVD players)

My parents also drove down for the weekend which was not only a nice thing to do (coming to cheer for their son-in-law) but also turned out to be an invaluable asset. The extra hands to help wrangle the kids was a godsend for me as I stressed about getting around on race day. I can’t thank them enough for giving up their weekend and helping out.

On Saturday they took MAD while Mark, M and I headed to the expo. It’s a bit overwhelming being a first timer, but M had a great time checking out the booths and getting freebies. As a runner Mark got a nice backpack and a tech shirt. After we left the expo we decided to check out a bit of the course. It ran right past our hotel at about mile 6.5 which was smack dab in the middle of a major uphill climb. In fact I was worried at the steepness and length of the hills. Mark did a good deal of hill training but the terrain in Cleveland can’t compare to that of Cincinnati. In fact, miles 3 to 9 were all uphill. He wasn’t worried, though. On our drive I tried to scope out where I would cheer and we saw some really beautiful neighborhoods.

Bib secured, pigs ready to fly

We grabbed lunch at nearby Mt. Adams Bar and Grill, which was a very cute and accommodating place with good food. (Once we found parking. Mt Adams is a darling area, but parking is really hard to find). Afterwords Mark and MAD took a nap while my mom, M and I checked out the beautiful Eden Park which was across the street from our hotel. We soaked up the sunshine and warmth while we could – the Sunday forecast had a 90% chance of rain. As it was my first time in Cincinnati-proper I was really impressed with the parks, houses and architecture. Cinci has much more to offer then I had thought.

My mom doesn’t usually have a spout of water coming out of her head

For dinner we headed over to Kentucky for dinner at Pompilio’s. I had researched pasta places extensively and had called the restaurant earlier in the week. While they wouldn’t take reservations they insisted it would only be a 30-45 min wait at 6 PM, even with the Reds game and the marathon. We got there and saw crowds waiting outside. I made my way through the (smokey – I forgot not every state has the same wonderful smoking ban that OH does) bar and the hostess told me it would be a 3 hour wait! Thank goodness for smartphones because we were looking for a new place immediately. We ended up at Martino’s On Vine near the UC campus. It was a great place; not crowded, fantastic service and good prices. My cousin, Carrie, who lives in Blue Ash and my Aunt (from Columbus) came down to join us and it was great to catch up with them. Mark got his big plate of spaghetti and meatballs and was a happy camper.

My parents, wonderful people that they are, offered to take M to the hotel pool then have her sleep in their room on the pull-out couch so Mark would get good sleep. We eagerly accepted since the night before no one really got any sleep with all 4 of us in a single hotel room. I was able to keep MAD pretty quiet all night so Mark was able to get a pretty solid 6 1/2 hours of sleep before is alarm went off at 4:30 on Sunday morning.

Race day is a whole other story…

What I did on Vacation

P1060477We started off with a stop in North Carolina to see my college BFF, Lindsay.

P1060482We played in the fountains

P1060490And jumped in the pool

P1060498Then M perfected her bellyflop in the tidal pools on the beach (and for some reason insisted on calling them “dewyflops”).

P1060501We played in the waves (and “fed” them sand and shells)

P1060525And let the beach style our hair.


We took a boat ride to see dolphins and explore some of the shoals exposed by the low tide

P1060575And found starfish, hermit crabs and tons of shells.

P1060600We played on the beach some more

P1060624And found a really, really big horseshoe crab.

P1060652It was a perfect week of sun, sand, ocean and exploring!

…AND the Kitchen Sink

“Those that say you can’t take it with you never saw my car packed for a vacation trip.” ~ unknown
The bags are pretty much packed (except for my husbands stuff, and well – he can do his own).  All the extra stuff is laid out on the dining room table.  I’m eating a dinner of the few perishables left in the house: 2 apples, left over birthday cake and milk. We are so ready to go – first a stop over to see my college BFF in the booming city of Saxapahaw, NC.  Then it’s off to the beach.
Oh, and here’s my new traveling tip: check out restaurant.com for the zip code you will be visiting before you leave.  If you are as lucky as I was, you will score gift certificates for a couple of places for mere pennies (thank you 90% off sale!) and maybe find a new favorite restaurant at your destination.
Au Revoir!

“Those that say you can’t take it with you never saw my car packed for a vacation trip.” ~ unknown

The bags are pretty much packed (except for my husbands stuff, and well – he can do his own).  All the extra stuff is laid out on the dining room table.  I’m eating a dinner of the few perishables left in the house: 2 apples, left over birthday cake and milk. We are so ready to go – first a stop over to see my college BFF in the booming city of Saxapahaw, NC.  Then it’s off to the beach.

Oh, and here’s my new traveling tip: check out restaurant.com for the zip code you will be visiting before you leave.  If you are as lucky as I was, you will score gift certificates for a couple of places for mere pennies (thank you 90% off sale!) and maybe find a new favorite restaurant at your destination.

Au Revoir!

Weekend Road Trip

Last Friday as I was sitting at work I had the overwhelming feeling that we needed to get out of town.  Mark is working on the never-ending freelance project, the weather has been rainy and cool and we are still several weeks away from our “official” summer vacation. I had enough Marriott Rewards Points burning a hole in my pocket for a couple of nights stay so I started trying to figure out where we could go.  I wanted someplace only 2-3 hours away, a location that would be new(ish) to all of us and a place that was very kid friendly.  So after looking at the map and Marriott locations, I booked 2 nights in Pittsburgh. I have only been there once – for about 2 hours, and Mark hasn’t been there since before we met. I DM’d Kyle Roth on Twitter, a former Pburg resident and huge Steelers fan (brave man, living in Cleveland), for some ideas and within about 15 minutes I had a list of activities and recommended restaurants.  I love Twitter!

As soon as we a got home we threw together suitcases and hit the road. We were staying in the Shadyside neighborhood and arrived around 7:30. Despite all the great restaurants in the area and suggestions from friends on Twitter we ended up at Max & Erma’s.  I normally loathe chains, especially when traveling, but sometimes when it’s late, your kid is hungry and you are in a strange place  they are they easiest choice.  I will say that we briefly checked out a couple of other places which were either too busy (a wait for seating) or too fancy to take the girl before settling on M&E. After dinner we checked into our hotel where I had booked a king + sofa bed since it was the only thing available on-line.  I asked if they had any 2-bed rooms available and the desk clerk typed furiously on two different computers for a bit and finally said “I don’t have any 2-queen rooms, but why don’t I put you in a king suite? That way you can have your own room and your daughter can have the sofa bed in the living room.” SCORE!  The room was huge – kitchen/bar area, king bedroom and a living room.  I am so spoiled – this is really the ONLY way to travel with a kid for more then one night.

Saturday morning we got up, ate breakfast out of the food we brought and headed over to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum to be there when it opened.  It is such a fun place!  I loved the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood area …they have an actual sweater and pair of his shoes!  The whole place was great – especially the studio art area and the waterworks play area.  Mark and I were in awe of the fantastic re-use of the old buildings. We spent about 3 hours playing before we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  In the afternoon we headed over to The Strip area and strolled around. It is full of ethnic markets, knick-knacks shops, more ugly Steelers crap then you can imagine and lots of characters.  Unfortunately we got there just before most of the stores were closing.  Next trip we will go down on a Saturday morning to enjoy the markets. We checked out Kaya and while it looked very good, was not what we were in the mood for. So we headed back to Shadyside and went to Harris Grill (which was the one with the wait the night before); it’s been around since 1927 so we figured they were doing something right. They have an awesome patio and a menu filled with pub food – sandwiches and appetizers – exactly what we were after. The menu is very funny to peruse and Mark and I both got sandwiches with sides of mac & cheese.  Very good, hearty food and you gotta love a place that has “bacon night” when baskets of crispy bacon are free at the bar. They also had a great beer and cocktail list.  We were there early, but it had started to fill up when we left.

Today we got up and arrived at Pamela’s Restaurant right as it opened and it was already just about full.  I had the flapjacks and they were everything they are said to be. Yum!  I can see why they have devoted fans of those pancakes. By the time we left there was a line about 4 tables deep. We went back to the hotel, packed up and had plans to spend a good chunck of the day at the Duquesne Incline and downtown followed by lunch at either the Original Hot Dog Shop (aka The Dirty O) or Primanti Brothers (which is very much like what we can get at Panini’s in Cleveland) before heading home. But we packed up our car in a downpour and the skies were grey and rainy in all directions.  We decided to still do the incline (which M loved; the industriousness of the people who came up with that thing is amazing) and then since it was still rainy and grey we headed home.  Of course about 10 miles out of town the skies cleared and the sun came out.

All in all it was a great trip – lots to see and do, beautiful vistas and great food.  It’s a very easy drive and we will be going back soon, maybe for just a day trip. The only two negatives I can think of is 1) parking sucks everywhere and 2) you can’t go a block without seeing fugly Steelers junk for sale.

Of course on the way home we stopped at the new(ish) Sonic in Streetsboro and managed to spill not one, but TWO Diet Cokes all over the inside of my car. So getting home early allowed me time to scrub, wash and vacuum it all out. Welcome home!