Post Christmas Family Traditions

Cultured Coffee and Waffles- Canton, Ohio
This post is sponsored by Evenflo

This past Christmas was a little less than the magical experience I had been hoping for. Okay, it was a lot less than magical, and a huge reality check for me! Leading up to Christmas, I had been hand-making gifts, decorating the house, baking cookies, and spinning holiday records, all with the hopes for the ultimate joyful experience when my kiddos would unwrap presents and enjoy our family Christmas traditions, with sparkling eyes. But instead we got crusty-eyes, snotty noses, and kiddos who literally slept through the entire day of Christmas festivities with Phil’s family. I felt devastated. This was not what I had planned! Of course, my heart hurt for my kiddos who were miserable and also missing out on the joy of the holiday. But my heart also broke for myself, that I was missing out on the magic that Christmas is for parents of little kids. What a disappointment!

But as I snuggled my sick children, I realized that even if we weren’t making the memories I had been envisioning, we were still making memories, and I needed to adjust my attitude, just like I’m always telling me kids to do. So I made the most of our couch-time, introducing some family-friendly series movies and series to the girls, like Little Women and Little Men, starting every day off slowly and snuggling a lot in my bed, and just chilling out together each day for an entire week. Maybe it’s what we all needed, even though Phil and I thankfully didn’t get sick too. Rest, reconnecting, and bonding. I suppose it’s exactly what I had deeply wanted for our holiday week, even though I had envisioned it differently.

Evenflo Sibby Stroller

I had also planned to continue our annual tradition of heading out after Christmas to a favorite local Canton spot, Cultured Coffee and Waffles. But since the kiddos were sick, we postponed the outing for a few days. (And I satisfied my cravings by making waffles at home!) The week of snuggling brought lots of snowfall, and I was tempted once again to just cancel our plans and stay inside (forever). But we decided to bundle up and go out in the snow with our Evenflo Sibby stroller, and I’m so glad we did! Sometimes traditions can be a burden, but sometimes they just require a little effort (and lots of winter layers) to keep family traditions alive.

Evenflo Sibby Stroller

Lucy was still not feeling 100%, and I couldn’t get her to take any pictures, but I’m also learning that sometimes I can ruin my plans for family fun by making the kiddos be in photos! Choose your battles, they say!

Speaking of battles, it can be so hard to motivate myself to get out and about with the kids in the wintertime! There’s usually snow here in Ohio, and lots of germs out and about. But we’ve learned that for everyone’s sanity, we have to get out. When we do, we have so much fun and feel very refreshed!

I’m also learning to head into each season with less pressure and expectations for myself and for my children. Of course I’ll always want things to be special and magical for my children, but life’s always throwing curveballs, and learning to adjust and make the most of what we’re given is what makes each moment special!

Cultured Coffee and Waffles- Canton, Ohio

Cultured Coffee and Waffles- Canton, Ohio

When I posted photos from our snowy stroller outing a couple of weeks ago, I got a lot of questions about how well our Sibby stroller did in the snow. It was my first time taking it out with lots of snow on the ground (much more than there was this most recent time), and I was a little worried about how well we’d be able to navigate sidewalks that hadn’t been cleared yet. And I’m happy to say we fared well, and the stroller made it through! The Sibby does have a platform that clips onto the back of the stroller for a second child to stand on and ride along, but Lucy wanted to walk through the snow in her new snow boots (pictured here), so we opted not to use the platform, and I’m not so sure it would’ve done as well in the deeper snow anyway.

Thank you to Evenflo for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

Evenflo Sibby Stroller

Evenflo Sibby Stroller

DAYTRIPPERS | Exploring Our State

Ohio City Cleveland

Before we knew we’d buy a new home and renovate the first floor this Summer, I had big plans to get out and explore the corners of Ohio with my kiddos. Phil and I love to dream of traveling to far-off places, flying to the west coast, seeing historic coastal cities down south, or booking a trip abroad. Our recent trip to San Francisco was truly a bucket-list experience for us Ohio folks, but the reality of it is, we can so easily miss the fun things our own region has to offer!

We live in Northeast Ohio, an hour south of Cleveland— what they like to call the “north coast” of the U.S. We sort of feel disassociated from cities on the opposite corner of Ohio, like Cincinnati and Dayton, which have never seemed like destination cities to me, but are so close, we really need to visit them more often and uncover the treasures that are surely waiting for us to discover them! But we’ve been so busy working on the house, we could only spare one day this past weekend to do something fun as a family, which made a day trip up to Cleveland’s Lake Eerie the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday! 

Sometimes you really need to take a long vacation away from it all, but other times, exploring your own state is just what you need to feel refreshed and in love with your home. So last weekend, we installed Juniper’s brand new Evenflo Stratos carseat, loaded the Evenflo Sibby stroller, and drove an hour up north to play on the beach and enjoy a bit of Cleveland.

Cleveland Beaches

hungtington beach bay village ohio

hungtington beach bay village ohio

cleveland beaches

Lake Erie in the summertime is such a joy, because it really does feel like you’re at the ocean. The water sprawls endlessly across the horizon, the sun shines brightly above it, and the Cleveland skyline is easily seen in the distance. A couple of hours at the beach is plenty for a Sunday afternoon with little ones, and as the summer sun dried our wet hair and lulled Juniper to sleep, we loaded up up the kids again to find a parking spot in our favorite Cleveland neighborhood, Ohio City.

evenflo sibby stroller

sibby stroller

When Juniper was an infant, we could just pop her Evenflo Sibby infant carseat out of the base, and snap it into to the Sibby stroller, without missing a beat or disturbing her sleep. It’s a super convenient travel system for not interrupting naptimes at moments like this. But now that she’s getting older, we had installed her new convertable carseat and had to remove her from the carseat and transfer her to the stroller. She just chilled in the reclined stroller until she remembered we were getting ice cream. Then she was wide awake!

Ohio City Cleveland

Ohio City is the kind of neighborhood full of beautiful, historic homes, owned by folks who obviously care about their homes and their community. Schools, churches, playgrounds, restaurants, boutiques, markets, and bars all happily coexist and are bustling with people on the weekends. It’s easy to walk around and pop into a few boutiques and restaurants and enjoy city life, without actually being in downtown Cleveland. And all of this is within minutes of the beach.

We like bringing the Evenflo Sibby stroller along with us on days like this, because Lucy can ride on the platform on the back when she’s tired of walking, but we don’t have to haul a double stroller in and out of shops and restaurants throughout the day. Strollers can be such a hassle in restaurants, but this one is compact, but still easy to push, and comfortable for Juniper to relax in.

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

The kiddos’ favorite place to visit in Ohio City is Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream shop, which is a local chain who makes there ice cream right here in Cleveland. In fact, the kitchen is surrounded by glass walls so you can watch the ice cream being made while you’re enjoying eating it. Or, you can pick a window seat and watch the people walking down West 25th street. Lucy and Juniper like coloring pictures at the kids’ seats while waiting for the train to make its way back around the perimeter of the shop, carrying pints of ice cream as it chugs along.

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

Mitchell’s Ohio City location is in a charming old theater (converted into an ice cream factory) and situated in the midst of one of the best area for shopping and eating in West Cleveland. Just down the road is the Westside Market, another must-stop place for us when in the neighborhood, and a string of shops and restaurants. On Lorain Avenue, driving west, you’ll find several great vintage furniture and clothing shops that alone make the drive to Cleveland worth the trip! So much to see and do.

Mitchell's Ice Cream Ohio City

Cleveland makes the perfect destination for a day trip, but if we didn’t live so close, I could easily fill up an entire long weekend with activities, and it wouldn’t be enough time! I always tell people how great Northeast Ohio is, but I’m not sure they believe me. The problem is, many people from the area seem to get pleasure from complaining about Northeast Ohio, but they don’t make the effort to get out and see more of the treasures the region has to offer. And I’m sure it’s like that all over the world!

We’ve all felt, from time to time, that it would be so nice to live somewhere else. But with that kind of attitude, it’s too easy to miss out on seeing and doing all of the special things your home has to offer! Feel like there’s nothing in your hometown? Then drive an hour or two in any direction and try something new! It can be the perfect refresher you need to see your home in a new light.

Do you ever go exploring new places close to your home? If I traveled through your state, what are some lesser known places we should visit?

Thank you to Evenflo for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

How to Create an Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

When I think about my childhood summers, I think about never-ending games of Capture the Flag, sharing swiftly melting popsicles with the neighbors, catching lightning bugs in a jar with holes poked in the lid (did that even help those poor things?), solo bike rides around the neighborhood with no hands on the handlebars, discovering creepy earwigs crawling on my sleeping bag during campouts on the back porch, chlorine-crusted hair that still smelled of campfires in the morning, watching neighborhood pick-up baseball games from the roof of my dad’s Oldsmobile Cutlass. I know my memories are colored with the nostalgia of an idyllic childhood, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of a carefree childhood that perhaps my children will never enjoy.

Gone are the days when parents simply tell their children to “go play outside and be home by dinnertime.” I am old enough to remember hearing all of the neighborhood moms calling their children to come home for dinner. But that will never be me. I feel like if my kids are outdoors, it’s my duty to vigilantly watch their every move, maybe not hovering, but certainly engaging with them and looking out for their safety. It stresses me out to the point where they don’t tend to go outside as much as they probably should. But I worry about child abductors, broken legs, stray balls begging to be caught, and heck, even bee stings.

Did my parents think about those parental concerns as much as I do now? Maybe they did, but perhaps they felt safe enough, knowing their neighbors well enough that they felt comfortable giving us a little more independence each Summer. Either way, I lived for those hot, carefree days, and I often wonder if my children will be able to experience a similar childhood. Lately I’ve thought maybe I should just let go of the pressure to recreate something similar for them. After all, we live in different times.

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Now that Phil and I are using most of our spare moments to renovate our new house, I worry even more that my children are missing out on some kind of idyllic image of what I want their childhood to be. Maybe I’m too worried about personal productivity and my children’s safety, and therefore am missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a mom. Am I being too hard on myself? It’s not as if I have them plopped in front of the tv while I mindlessly scroll through apps on my phone. But I do try to be aware of how we spend these days of their childhood, as fleeting as they may be.

My own parents worked on home renovations during much of my childhood, and my dad was always building furniture in his garage workshop. (Now you know where I get it from, eh?) But I don’t remember missing out on fun family experiences. Did they purposefully set aside time to put down the hammer and power drill to get out and bond as a family? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes! How else would I have such great memories with my family as a kid?

I know that I’ll never be comfortable just telling my kids to “go outside and play,” unless I can see them easily from where I sit or work, but that doesn’t mean my kids won’t have special memories of Summers as I did. It just requires a little more planning, I think. And hey, I like planning, so I’m pretty confident I’m up to the task!

Recently I made a list of all of those things I mentioned earlier that made my childhood summers feel magical, and I realized I don’t actually need an idyllic Pleasantville-style neighborhood to make any of them happen. They just require making space in our lives, which means knowing when to quit working on house projects so we can spend time with our kids, without phones or other distractions.

Idyllic Childhood Summer

So what does our Idyllic Childhood Summer list look like? It’s not a list to make me feel stressed about completing it or failing as a mom, but it gives us some fun ideas of things to do together as a family, building our relationships with our kids and gifting them with memories that I hope they’ll always cherish. And if we don’t get around to everything this summer, hey! There’s always next year, right?

  1. Help Lucy learn how to ride a bike
  2. Have as many picnic dinners as possible
  3. Go berry picking
  4. Take the kids to the beach
  5. Catch lightning bugs
  6. Enjoy a campfire and make s’mores with friends
  7. Go to the fair and let Lucy go on as many rides as she wants
  8. Make popsicles to share with friends (Did that already!)
  9. Go camping with friends (probably will just be in one of our yards!)
  10. See fireworks
  11. Pool days
  12. Play dates at the park

Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Idyllic Childhood Summer

We recently got Lucy a Radio Flyer balance bike to help her gain confidence riding a bike without needing training wheels. It’s been difficult to motivate her to try something more challenging than a trike, but The Radio Flyer travel agency has given us some fun ideas to motivate her to get outside and learn to ride, engaging her creativity as we imagine fun destinations she can get to from within the comfort of our neighborhood park! But only on her Radio Flyer balance bike. :)

enter to win

When I think of timeless, nostalgic toys, Radio Flyer is the first brand that comes to mind. The classic children’s toy company was started in 1917 by Antonio Pasin, whose dream was to “bring joy to every boy and every girl.” Today Radio Flyer is still admired for their attention to quality and consistency in quality and design. Some things really do never change!

To celebrate their 100 anniversary, Radio Flyer is giving away one toy daily until June 30th. Check out the Stars and Stripes Giveaway and enter to win! The prize changes every day. Share your own family’s Radio Flyer adventures on Instagram and tag them with #radioflyer100 for an extra chance to win.

Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Did you have a red wagon when you were a kid? We used ours to transport supplies for fort building and other neighborhood adventures. Maybe I should add a Radio Flyer wagon to our summertime list, eh? Oh, and be sure to check out Radio Flyer on Facebook and Instagram for an extra dose of nostalgia!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Radio Flyer. The opinions and text are all mine. 

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