Friday, December 19, 2014


At the beginning of December, Steve took a day off work and we headed up to Cleveland for a long weekend.  We spent the first day seeing  a few sites around the city while waiting for our good friends Mitch & Alice to get off work and spend the rest of the weekend with them!

We first stopped at West Side Market.  It's a little Market where you can buy fresh food (meat, produce, etc) or they also have some little dessert booths or some "fast" food options.  We walked around a few times in search of what they had to offer.  Right away, Steve spotted a bratwurst but I was hoping to find something I could split with Bean.  Several minutes, many laps, and still no food, I finally got a bratwurst, too and just fed Bean pieces of bread.

(Trying to find food at West Side Market)

After lunch, we drove over to Viaduct Park.  It was a beautiful little park kind of hidden in the middle of the city.  It used to be the site of a working mill, but now is just a stream and tunnel. After the park, we had to make a pit-stop at a McDonald's for a potty break! That was the big downfall of the day. No restrooms at any of our stops, we will definitely plan that one better next time.  We then headed to our friends' house.

(Bean trying to figure out why on earth we are out in the cold.)

(That tunnel used to be the site of a big turbine/saw mill)

We feasted on a delicious dinner of pizza and macaroni & cheese (our friend works for Nestle and shared with us some of her perks!).  After dinner, we moved Bean's car seat into their awesome mini-van, loaded everyone up (4 adults & 3 kids) and headed to the Stan Hywet estate in Akron. The estate was decked out with Christmas lights! You could walk around the grounds through some of the lights and also got to go through the mansion that was decked out in Christmas stuff.  The weather wasn't the greatest, it was cold and rainy, but we made the best of it.  One of Steve's friends from college Blake brought his wife and met up with the group.  It was fun getting to see everyone again!

(Bean's first encounter with Santa! She was unfazed by the meeting.)

(Our group trying to stay dry. We finally decided it was inevitable to get wet and ventured through the rest of the grounds.)

(The Stan Hywet main house on the estate)

(So pretty yet so much rain! If only it was snowing!)

(I carried Bean around the whole time in the carrier. We knew strollers weren't welcomr in the bug house and thought it best to just keep her contained against me.)

(Last two cars in the parking lot!)

After literally shutting down the estate, we headed back to Mitch/Alice's place for the night.  The next morning, we woke up and scrambled to get everything pulled together.  We needed to be out the door by a certain time so that Alice and I could meet up with her co-workers so that we could run the A Christmas Story 5k!  We may not have left the house at the desired time, but it all worked out.  We met up with her co-workers, got to the starting line, and talked strategy before it was race time.  Some of the group wanted to walk while a few (3 of us!) wanted to legitly run.

The race started and we made plans to meet up at the finish line.  I ran with Alice's 2 co-workers Esther & Erin.  Esther was a little crazy and darting in and out of all the other runners.  About 1/4 of the way in, Erin and I decided we couldn't keep up with Esther and we'd just be each other's running buddies.  I was definitely running faster than I was used to, but I was still able to keep up.  We couldn't find the mile markers and were just having to guess how much longer we had.  We were behind the 10 min pile pace guy.  At around the 18 min mark, we knew we had to at least be over halfway.

The route itself was nothing special.  It did start in downtown Cleveland, and we got to run over a historic bridge; however, after that it was just running through neighborhoods basically.  The point of the race was to run to the house that A Christmas Story was used in the film.  The area is really run down and proceeds from the race are helping to build the area back up.  The run got boring other than seeing people in costumes and the occasional kid sprinting by us.  Erin saw a marker for mile 3, so we knew we were close.  We rounded a corner and low & behold, there stood Steve, Mitch and the kids.  They finally spotted me and started cheering.  They were on the final street and we could see the finish line in sight.

(I'm in all black with crazy pink/yellow shoes- right behind the person in blue/green. Erin is just to my right. Homestretch!!)

Erin said, "Let's sprint!" I said sure and started to, but my body had different ideas.  I immediately started heaving.  Yes, heaving! I had to cup my hand to my mouth (I lessened my pace but kept running, after all that finish line was so close!) and I began to plot where on earth to throw up at.  Erin took off and looked back, but I waved her on.  I saw a trash can just past the finish line.  I heaved a few more times but kept the contents down (lovely, right?).  I made it to the trash can but my body had settled down by then and I was okay (I guess I shouldn't have eaten 2 banana muffins right before running, my mistake).  My official time was 29:56 -- what?!  That put my average pace around 9min40sec per mile.  The fastest I have ever been able to run is just over a 10min mile!  I'll take it!  Erin beat me by a few seconds.  She came in 487th place, and I came in 498th place out of 2388 people! Wooo! We waited at the finish line for the rest of the girls to finish up.

(Waiting on the last girls! Alice is super excited in the link all the way to the left.)

(The group after we were all done! There was an error in the medal shipment and Alice got the 2nd to last medal! Whew!! Anyone after her time was shipped a medal later.)

(Bean celebrating Mommy's PR)

I was done at that point, so the guys, the kids, and I headed to the van (my tummy was still a little queasy and I was read to sit!).  Alice hung with her coworkers just a bit longer and then met back up with us at the van.  From there, we headed to an amazing hot dog place for lunch.  At Happy Dawg, you got to build your own hotdog!  Steve's toppings included pork & beans, spaghettios, and mac'n'cheese (just to name a few).  I went with chili, mac'n'cheese, a pickle spear, and sauteed onions.  I shared with Bean and she ate all my mac'n'cheese.  After lunch, we headed to a famous candy store that claims to be the largest.  I'd believe that it holds the largest variety of candy.  If you can think of it, it was probably there.

(The best hot dog in the world. Well, 2nd to mine - I had chili instead of spaghettios on it.)

(Just what we wanted to do, eat hot dogs after running! And look how adorable Libby is. She insisted on sitting in the booth next to Steve and right beside Bean.)

(Bean scored a free candy cane from the candy store. It was her first and she loved it. She's in the Ergo carrier again. I had hopes of her transferring from asleep in the car to asleep in the carrier. Ya, right.)

From the candy store, we had to make a quick stop at a Walmart to buy one of the kids some shoes (and since Bean isn't walking, you can do the math on who needed them).  We then headed to Brandywine Falls to walk around and see a big waterfall.  It was pretty cold, but once we got down by the rocks, we were shielded by the wind.  We loaded back up in the van and drove to another area in the park to see a beaver marsh.  It was too cold for beavers, but we ventured out anyways.  I was getting pretty cold and Bean was due for a nap, so we called it a day and headed back to the car.

(Bundle Bag Buddies)

(Alice braved wearing Libby in my carrier. How awesome is that thing? And check out that waterfall!)

(Learning about Beavers at Beaver marsh. You had to continuously turn a crank to hear the info.)

From the park, we headed to dinner at Melt Bar and Grilled.  They are known for their crazy grilled cheese sandwiches.  Steve got a mac'n'cheese grilled sandwich, while I got a spicy pulled chicken grilled sandwich. As we left the restaurant, Steve's friend Blake just happened to be driving by.  We were actually headed over to his house so Steve randomly decided to jump in the car.  Bean and I crawled back into the van and we headed to Blake's.  Alice and I decided we had had enough taken the kids in and out of the car and since it was close to bedtime, we would call it a night and head back to their house.  Blake, Mitch, and Steve stayed and had a "jam session".  They played all sorts of crazy songs using Blake's band set up. The didn't come back to the house until almost midnight! I crashed once they got home.

The next morning, we got up and decided to go out for breakfast.  We were going to go to a local brunch place, but it was too busy. So we ended up at a Bob Evan's where we were entertained by a balloon animal guy.  The kids were loving it! Mitch and Alice had tickets to a big football game and had a sitter coming at 11 to watch to the kids (that sitter just happened to be my running pal Erin!).  We didn't leave Bob Evans until after 11, haha, ooops!

(Bean got a monkey in a tree from the hilarious balloon guy.)

We got back to their house, packed all of our stuff up, and then hit the road to return home.  On the way back, we took a different route and made a stop in Huron, OH.  That's where Steve's grandparents & dad grew up.  We made a stop at their gravesite, drove by the old house, and made an extra special stop at Toft's Dairy for some ice cream.  Mmmmmm, it was as good as we remembered it! We got home just in time for me to make it to choir cantata practice, unpack, repack, and hit the road for Cincinnati the next morning!

(Getting to "visit" Grammy & Grandpa)

(We did an awkward drive by and snap a quick picture of their old house. The new owner was in the yard. I really wanted to chat and tell him who we were, but Steve wouldn't have my shenanigans. Maybe next time.)

(Tofts! Need I say more?)

(Sharing ice cream with us. I got pumpkin & Steve got cookie dough. Pretty neat to think about Bean being 4th generation Ackerman to enjoy the ice cream!)

(When we got home, we discovered Bean had mastered climbing onto our footstool. Now it is "outside the gate". And don't worry, she only had the balloon under our supervision!)

1 comment:

  1. I Loved reading about all your adventures. You three are always on the go. My favorite pic is the tofts ice cream with Lindsey!
    Cant wait to see you soon!!