Cedar Point Sunday Funday

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On Sunday, we continued our current trend of pretending we’re on vacation while we have family in town by taking them to Cedar Point for the day. We got lucky again and had perfect weather, with not a lot of people visiting the park that day. A couple of rides were closed due to high wind, but we hardly noticed. Full disclosure–Andrew and his dad are the roller coaster riders in the family. The rest of us were just tagging along, but I had never been to the park and really want to see it. I can’t really call my self an Ohioan until I’ve been to Cedar Point, right?! Andrew and his dad had fast passes and took off on their coaster quest as soon as we got there. Andrew’s mom (Karen), two aunts (Kauleen and Kathryn), Ellie and I strolled around the park trying different foods and taking Ellie on any appropriate rides. The park has a great area for toddlers and kids with a Peanuts theme that we spent a lot of our time in. Ellie loved it!

DSC_8278-3She even got to meet Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and Sally. This was her first encounter with theme park characters and she seemed to gravitate toward them even though she was a little intimidated at first. She would get really close to them, run away, get really close, run away. It was pretty funny to watch! She eventually warmed up to them, even fist bumping and high-fiving them to say hello.

We made our way to my favorite area of the park–Frontier Town. I loved seeing the leather, sign, jewelry, candle and gem shops made to look like cabins from the frontier days, and the water rides were so fun to watch. We stood a little too close to the Snake River Falls ride and got pretty soaked! Ellie even got to pet goats, cows, bunnies and llamas at The Barnyard.

Andrew and dad made it through all the roller coasters that were open (some of them twice) and met us for a snack. Andrew got to ride one of the Peanuts rides with Ellie and she had the time of her life flying through the air with her dad. She’s our little daredevil baby. We briefly checked out the Dinosaurs Alive area and got to see model T-Rex’s and other prehistoric creatures on our way out of the park.

We had a FANTASTIC time, but I didn’t realize how many family rides we missed until after we left. The sky ride was closed for the day, and we bypassed the antique cars, the riverboat ride and the Lake Erie railroad. The next time we go, I’ll better plan for what we want to do so we don’t miss anything rather than winging it like I did on this visit. Overall, it was a great day trip and now I can proudly say I’ve been to Cedar Point. ūüôā

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Day Trip to Put-in-Bay

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*Thank you to Miller Ferry for providing my group with round trip ferry tickets and a golf cart during our visit. As always, the opinions of this blog are my own based on my experience.

Andrew, Ellie and I had an amazing day at Put-in-Bay with Andrew’s mom and two aunts Saturday. ¬†This was our first visit of the year and we couldn’t have picked a better day–the weather was BEAUTIFUL! Our last visit to South Bass Island was in October during Oktoberfest and I blogged about it here. We had such a good time then, I knew it would be the perfect place to bring our guests. We started our trip where we always do–on the Miller Ferry from Catawba. The ferry provided our visitors with their first real view of Lake Erie and they couldn’t believe how vast it was. Honestly, sometimes it still surprises me too!

After about 18 minutes on the ferry, we stepped into our vacation for a day. There were a lot of people arriving onto the island, but it never seemed too crowded. We quickly grabbed two carts from E’s Golf Carts and were on our way. I’m glad I had reservations because by the time we got there around 11:30 a.m. there weren’t any carts available without one! Our first stop was our favorite restaurant on the island, The Upper Deck of the Boardwalk. We end up going to the Upper Deck every time we visit because the lobster bisque is TO DIE! Ellie ate her weight in french fries and the girls got to have a little afternoon cocktail. We tried several dishes that included bleu cheese chips, lobster mac and cheese, and the lobster BLT. Needless to say, we were all happy by the end of the meal.

Andrew’s aunt Kathryn especially likes botanical gardens, so after lunch we took the group to the Butterfly House at the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. The Butterfly House is a 4,000 square foot aviary filled with 50 types of butterflies from all over the world and just as many beautiful flowers. It was so cute watching Ellie walk along the brick paths and seeing Andrew point out butterflies to her. The space was well contained, so we were able to let her run around a little and not worry about her getting too far.

I had been to the Butterfly House before and was already a fan, but I had never been to Crystal Cave and really wanted to see it, so that was our next stop. Crystal Cave lies 42 steps below Heineman’s Winery and is the world’s largest known geode. The cave is covered in blueish crystals called celestite that range from 8 to 18 inches long, and it was accidentally discovered in 1897 by workers digging a well for the winery. This cave is truly amazing–it is small but packs a large punch. It may be the coolest cave I’ve ever been to, and I’m not talking about temperature. ūüôā

Our cave tour also included a tour of the winery and a glass of wine, so we enjoyed our wine while Ellie got a nap in.DSC_8165-14

After our break at the winery, we toured around the island in the golf carts and made our way back to the ferry. Put-in-Bay is one of my favorite places to take visitors. The next time Andrew’s mom and aunts are in town, we’ll be able to take them to a whole different set of sites on the island.

Cleveland Summer

Andrew’s parents and two aunts have been visiting us over the last couple of weeks from three different states–Nevada, Louisiana and California. We’ve had a great time while they’ve been here and they’ve been able to spend a lot of quality time with Ellie, but having them here has made me realize how different our behavior is when we have visitors compared to when we don’t. Here’s what I mean…

We go to restaurants owned by famous Cleveland chefs.

We go to Indians games against the Dodgers (who haven’t played in Cleveland in 14 years).

We celebrate Father’s Day with two dads.

We become artists who fuse glass to make beautiful mosaic pieces.

We have fun with Snapchat and Instagram filters.

We layout by the pool all day.

We play outside into the night.

We have daily baby fashion shows.

We let Ellie eat like Beast and drink from the bathtub faucet purely for entertainment value.

We plan and take kick-ass tours of Cleveland to show how awesome our city is.

And most importantly, we give Ellie the chance to spend quality time with her grandparents and gr’aunts that she doesn’t usually get.

Panama City Beach Vacation

img_4054There is no better feeling than the anticipation of an upcoming trip, and no worse feeling than when it’s over. Andrew, Ellie and I just returned from an amazing stay in Panama City Beach with my family last week and I’ve struggled hard this week to be happy and motivated back at work. Who wants to sit in front of a computer all day when you’ve just been laying on a beach?

Needless to say, it was a great week, with lots of catching up with family, watching the waves roll in and sightseeing. The weather was mostly perfect, and on the days we had rain we checked out the local attractions until the storms passed.

We stayed at the beachfront Princess Condos on the east side of PCB at Laguna Beach for 8 days. The first two days and the last two days the water was perfect for swimming so we stayed pretty close to the condo. Ellie was apprehensive about walking on sand at first. She lifted up her little feet, looking at the sand like, “what is this stuff?” It was so cute! By mid-week, she had it figured out and spent the rest of the time running up and down the beach like she owned the place.

This was also Ellie’s first time in a swimming pool, and Andrew was a good teacher, making her comfortable in the water. We got her a puddle jumper to help her float. I didn’t know this before, but puddle jumpers are coast guard approved and can be used as life jackets on boats. It came in handy later in the week. Ellie spent as much time outside the pool playing peek-a-boo and exploring as she did inside it.

We spent our evenings hanging out in the condo together and out on the balcony watching the sunsets. The balcony was my favorite part of the condo. It spanned the entire length of the unit and had plenty of space for all of us to mingle and for the kids to play.

Tuesday morning was rainy and the beachfront was closed for swimming, so a few of us went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Andrew didn’t want to go, so he and Ellie stayed home. I had never been to a Ripley’s museum before and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I think the adults in the group enjoyed it more than the kids actually.

The beachfront was still closed Wednesday morning, but it wasn’t too rainy so we decided to check out Gulf World. The dolphin show was the highlight of the visit. The kids loved seeing them dance, blow bubbles and jump high out of the water.¬†DSC_7631

Thursday morning we rented a pontoon boat to nearby Shell Island. The kids loved finding hermit crabs and sand dollars, and we liked the untouched beauty of the island. It’s protected so there are no resorts, condos or retail businesses on the island.

Friday night Andrew and I went with Morgan and Ethan to Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf, and it was probably the best mini golf I’ve ever been to. We had so much fun! Ethan gave Andrew a run for his money, but Andrew came through in the end.

Mom and dad watched the kids for us while we went out and this was what we came back to:img_4211

We spent our last full day on the condo’s beach. The sky was beautiful and the water was super clear so it was the perfect way to end our trip. Ellie had the time of her life with her cousins and grandparents and we can’t wait to take a family trip like this again. I didn’t get through all of the clothes I brought for Ellie, so we have to go back just so she can wear them all!

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DIY: Gallery Wall

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With all of the toys Ellie has, she gets the most joy from the simplest things. A couple of weeks ago, we were outside playing and she had the time of her life climbing on and off a wicker chair on our back patio. The moment was so cute, I took pictures of her reactions, and when I realized how many photos I had I knew they would make the perfect photo gallery on the wall at the top of our second floor stairs.

The wall is the first thing you see at the top of the floor and I’ve wanted to put something there for a while, I just didn’t know what. I debated between canvas and picture frames and decided on frames so I could easily change the photos out as Ellie gets older. I found this frame set on several web sites and loved how the champagne color accented our tan walls.

 

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I needed two sets to accommodate all the pictures I had. I knew I might have two or three¬†frames left over but figured I could use them somewhere else. This set is a lot bigger than it seems. The largest frame is 11×14 and the smallest is 8×8, so it didn’t take as many of them to fill the wall as I expected. I ordered pictures in the sizes I needed from Shutterfly, and once I had them in the frames I laid them out on the floor in front of the wall to figure out how I wanted to put them up.

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Andrew likes to use a level and tape measure to hang pictures, but I’m more of a “nail holes now, fill them later” kind of girl. It took me a couple extra nail holes to get it right, but I knew they would be covered by the frames. I’m so happy with how the collage turned out. I didn’t want to configure the frames into a perfect square or rectangle, I wanted them to look sort-of unplanned because that was what the moments in the pictures were–completely spontaneous.

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DIY: Peel & Stick Kitchen Backsplash

I’ve wanted a kitchen backsplash since we moved into our house over two years ago, but I could never commit to a tile I liked enough to make a permanent change to our house. I had never considered peel and stick tile either–I thought it would look like a sticker on our walls, so when I saw these¬†peel and stick mosaic Smart Tiles at Home Depot, I was surprised by how much I liked them.

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The more I thought about it, the more I realized the peel and stick design could be a perfect fit for us. We didn’t have any of the tools or materials needed to do a regular tile backsplash, we had almost no experience installing a backsplash, and I wasn’t sure I would want to¬†have the same tile two or three years from now. I decided to give it a try, and with Andrew’s help, we have a kitchen backsplash that we both love but can easily remove when we get tired of it.

The application process was fairly easy.¬†We used TSP to wipe the walls down and let them dry, and we used a fabric cutting board and a utility knife we had on hand to cut around outlets and other odd areas. Andrew’s precision paid off when it came time to cut the pieces that went around the window.

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Overall, it was a really easy process and I think it looks great. When I look at it, I don’t immediately think, “oh, that’s a sticker.” I really liked that we could take our time installing the tiles; we didn’t have drying cement to worry about so we were able to put the them up at our own pace and in between playing with Ellie. All we have to do to remove them is run a hair dryer over the tiles and they’ll peel off without taking off the paint. I estimate this project cost us about 50% of what putting up a tile backsplash would have and I definitely recommend this as an easy project for first-timers.