Category Archives: Entertainment

The perfect summer weekend

The weather this summer has been average at best, and between summer events, vacation, and a work trip, we hadn’t had much time to enjoy summer in our neck of the woods until this weekend.

Friday night we enjoyed a picnic at the park overlooking the pond. We fed the ducks, and I even participated (yay me!), until the ducks came up on land, of course, at which time I made my way back to observe. With plenty of hiking trails and a walking path that spans the perimeter of the pond, we enjoyed a beautiful summer evening outside.

Saturday morning Brian had his final session of this summer’s MBA class, so it was just little B and me. We spent the morning at the library doing art and crafts and picking out this week’s selection of books. If you know me, you know that I love libraries for personal and professional reasons, so Bridget’s and my conversation as we were leaving was priceless. I had checked out our books on the self-checkout machine overlooking the children’s area while she played with the train set. As we were leaving, and walked past the checkout counter, Bridget looked up at me and said, “We not pay, Mommy?” No, Bridget, we don’t have to pay…one of the many reasons your library card is the most important card in your wallet.

Saturday evening, thanks to my Mom, Brian and I enjoyed our first date out in a very long time. We had dinner at my favorite local restaurant, House of Hunan, in Medina (my mouth is watering as I write this thinking about their General Tso’s Chicken….yum!). We then went back and forth a hundred times before we settled on my movie selection, The Fault in Our Stars. If you check out my reading history, you’ll be able to quickly tell that I like sad books. I don’t know why, but I do. I also enjoy book-to-movie adaptations so this was right up my alley. At least I thought. The only thing sadder than reading a sad book is seeing it play out in front of you. The movie was good, but probably not the best choice for our first date out in a while. Needless to say, I owe Brian and will let him pick the next few to make up for our wonderful evening turned terribly depressing.

Sunday morning was all about summer. We spent the morning at the Hinckley Lake beach, which has a beautiful view of the Reservation. We then headed to the Ledge Lake Pool which overlooks the lake. The water depth is perfect for Bridget because she can touch, so we had so much fun playing, and she was out like a light as soon as we got in the car.

As you can gather from the title of my blog, and every post I write, we’re a simple family that enjoys simple things. And there’s nothing simpler and more enjoyable than spending a summer weekend with my two B’s.

I hope you’re all enjoying summer!





HIMYM sound-off

Last night was the highly-anticipated series finale of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother; the final episode of nine seasons; when we finally got to see how Ted met the Mother, and learn her name; and the end of the story of the cast’s longtime friendship. Even though the final season was average at best, I was giddy all day yesterday waiting for eight o’clock.

And then in 60 minutes, that giddiness was gone. As Robin so eloquently said often during the show, “What the damn hell?

Here is your forewarning: This post contains spoilers. Every media outlet, social network site, and fan blogger has sounded off on the finale. I have no ground-breaking conclusion or unique perspective to offer. I’m just a fan of the show, who was incredibly disappointed and let down at last night’s finale, and is seeking written therapeutic release so I can move on with my life. As my husband so kindly reminded me last night and this morning, “It’s a TV show. They aren’t real people. Get it together, Shannon.”


I always try to focus on the positive, so I’ll lead with that.

Tracy McConnel, aka, the Mother was exactly who I pictured Ted would marry. She was sweet, funny, quirky, and beautiful. They cast well for her important, but minimal, role.

Lily and Marshall lived happily ever after as we expected they would. No surprises, but a satisfying wrap-up to their beloved love story.

We finally saw Barney’s soft side when he held his daughter for the first time and it was legen…….wait for it……dary. Simply beautiful, and as someone who gets to witness a father’s love for his daughter every day, it really pulled on the heart strings.

And now for the moments that tarnished nine years of a good thing:

They had us watch an entire season that spanned the wedding weekend of Barney and Robin just to have them get divorced 20 minutes into the final episode (3 years in “real-life”). What a waste of a final season.

We waited nine years to meet the Mother and they gave us a rushed 10 minutes of how they met? Nine years for 10 minutes. Seriously?

We’re supposed to believe that Ted allowed them to date for seven years and have two kids together before getting married? Not a chance.

Although it was foreshadowed all season, I still can’t believe we waited nine years to meet the Mother only to learn that she got sick and died shortly after? For a comedy, this story twist just didn’t fit.

And finally, above all, I can’t get over the final two scenes where Ted’s kids call him out for liking Aunt Robin and encourage him to go after her…and then he does. What the damn hell? This made it seem like Robin was his true love all along and the Mother was second best. Not cool, HIMYM producers. Not cool. I was never on the Ted & Robin bandwagon and this episode certainly didn’t change that.

I am a sucker for happy endings, so my ideal final scene would have been this: Turn the camera back on Ted, and as he says, “And kids, that’s how I met your mother,” have Tracy enter stage left. And Ted would finally have gotten what we have been hoping for him to all along.

But then again, happy endings don’t produce viral media coverage and a million tweets, I suppose.

Fellow HIMYM fans, what are your thoughts?


A parenthood milestone for me

I crossed a parenthood milestone this past weekend. I watched Disney’s Frozen…and sincerely enjoyed it.

Now I grew up watching Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. My favorite movie was The Fugitive, starring the dreamy Tommy Lee Jones. Animated movies were just not my thing (or maybe more so that they weren’t my mom’s thing). I watched a few here and there—Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Flintstones, and Beauty and the Beast—but that was about it.

So when Brian and I were pregnant with Bridget, we often chatted in wonderment about what we would be like as parents. Who would teach little Bean to swim, who would be the disciplinarian (we are still figuring this one out), and, of course, who would take Bridget to the movies?

Based on the fact that I hadn’t made it through an animated film since I was a small child, the conclusion was that Brian and Bridget had a lot of movie dates ahead of them. Until Frozen came along that is.

It is adorable, funny, happy, sad, and all in all, a great story. I realize these qualities are probably not unique to kids’ movies, but kids’ movies are new to me. And from what I can tell from my Facebook feed, I’m not the only adult that fell in love with this movie.

Thank you, Disney, for introducing me to the other side. Now I can look forward to my future Saturday afternoons with Bridget under one arm and popcorn in my other.

Beating cabin fever

Tired of the frigid temps and non-stop snow? Us too! We’ve exhausted our play room and the mall playground. Unfortunately it’s too cold to get out and play in the snow, so we ventured out and experienced beautiful CLE’s offerings.

In January, we visited the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of my coworkers, we have an annual family membership, so we visited the Rainforest and the Aquatics & Primate Center (all indoors and heated!). I love the zoo any time of year, but felt like we found a hidden gem this round. Apparently people either don’t realize it’s open year round or they stay in during this weather because it was basically empty. Front row parking, no lines, heated shuttles, and up close and personal with the exhibits…it doesn’t get much better than that.

This past weekend, we visited the Children’s Museum in University Circle. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this venue. Some parents love it, others don’t. We really enjoyed it aside from the drive, somewhat expensive admission ($8 per person), and my germophobia in high gear. There is so much to do there: a farm experience, bus, grocery store, bank, house, hospital, water table, weather center, and Bridget’s person favorite, the large indoor sandbox.


We could have easily spent the day there, but we’ve learned our lesson the hard way. No one wins in a Bridget nap-free day.

How are you beating cabin fever with kids? Thanks to good ol’ Phil, we’ve got another five weeks to occupy so ideas are welcome!

Portable North Pole

Thanks to the recommendation of a co-worker, I discovered Portable North Pole; a super cute personal video message from Santa.

Simply visit the website: and enter your child’s information (you can do it for any child or adult): name, age, photo, state, what they’ve been asked to work on this year, an item on their wish list, and if they’ve been naughty or nice (most of the information is in multiple choice format). Santa then uses this information to customize a message to the child.

It’s free, fun, and high quality. Bridget was on the nice list this year, but asked to continue working on not throwing temper tantrums.

We showed Bridget her video from Santa tonight. She was enthralled. When it was over, she waved to the screen and said, “bye bye, Hanta!” She’s still working on the “s” sound.

Try it for yourself!

Happy 202nd birthday, Johnny Appleseed!

September 26 marks the 202nd birthday of Johnny Appleseed. Don’t worry, I didn’t know that either. To be honest, I don’t know much about Johnny Appleseed. But I now know that Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, Ohio throws a darn good celebration in honor of his birthday.

This weekend was the 40th annual Johnny Appleseed Festival at Mapleside Farms. It was our first time visiting the farm, but I had always heard that it was THE place to enjoy the fall in Northeast Ohio. I can now confirm this to be true. We had the best time there today.

For $12 each (children under two get in free), we took full advantage of the farm’s activities. We took Bridget down America’s longest slide of 350 foot. We think she liked it, but our pictures tell us she wasn’t so sure. We took a pig train ride through the corn field and apple farm. We know she loved this as she giggled and pointed at the apple trees as we passed by. We walked through the beginning parts of the corn maze, and then finished the morning bouncing on the largest trampoline pillow in Ohio. We left with a gallon of fresh apple cider and homemade cheese popcorn; both of which may not see the end of today.

If you live in Northeast Ohio, you must add a visit to Mapleside Farms to your fall to-do list. We are planning to head back in October when the leaves have turned to enjoy the beautiful acres in view.

Here’s a snapshot of our day:

PicMonkey Collage

Our Summer Solstice Celebration

Summer is officially underway in CLE and it definitely feels like summer: hot and humid. Yep, just like summer. To celebrate the start of summer (and Brian returning from a week away in Dallas, booo!), we took our first family trip to the zoo.

Although we didn’t get to see all of the animals, and some, including my favorite, the bears, were hiding in the shade, it was a lot of fun. It’s true what people told me, that when you have a child, you live life again through their eyes, and this experience was definitely one of them.

Here are a few pictures from our trip:

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Sunday, we broke out the swimming pool, Bridget’s birthday present from Grams. Bridget has always enjoyed bath time so I was happy when she got right in and started playing. It made me even more excited for family vacation this summer where we’ll be spending a lot more time in the water.

I also can’t get enough of her in this bathing suit, which was a gift from my Aunt Pattie who said (in her words), “Every baby girl must have a bathing suit from Nordstrom’s.” Right….




We are two days into summer and we have already accomplished more summer activities than we did all summer last year. I wouldn’t trade those few months last summer indoors for anything in the world, but I’m learning that each phase of Bridget’s life brings something new and exciting, and I am trying to soak it all in–and hopefully some sunshine while we’re at it.

Happy summer!

Down on the farm

We found this petting farm very close to our house called Spring Mist Farms. What a neat little gem!

It’s open every Wednesday from 10-8 pm. Admission is $4 for children and $1 for adults. For less than $10 and an hour of our evening, we got to…

Meet and feed Charlie the camel. He greets you, literally, while you pay admission. He’s the sweetest little (big) guy. Bridget couldn’t take her eyes off of him and I had to drag Brian onto the next animal because he was so enthralled with him.

Take a pony ride with Bridget, saddle and all. It was quite the upgrade from her giraffe scooter at home and after the initial hesitation, she seemed to enjoy it.

Be escorted in a carriage by another horse. In my next life, I want to be an equestrian. Horses are such beautiful animals.

Pet (or view for some) goats, donkeys, sheep, llamas, reindeer, elk, pigs, cows. Oh and turkeys, ducks, and chickens; but I tried not to spend too much time with them.

This place was such a great find: cheap entertainment, very nice staff, and close to home. We will definitely be back.




Friday favorites: Distractions from the news

This week’s “Miracle in Cleveland” media coverage has consumed me. I can’t stop watching and reading about this horrific story. I am so happy that the women were found alive, but sympathize for their long road ahead.

Distracting me from the news this week were a few lighthearted forms of entertainment:

The Voice: As a previous loyal American Idol fan (before it jumped the shark), I am glad I found this show to fill the singing competition void in my life. This is my first season watching and it is soooo good. The judges are very likable, and I am always entertained by the dynamic between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Team Adam all the way, baby!

How I Met Your Mother: I have been a long-time fan of this show. How could you not be with the cast of characters, complete randomness, and frequent Cleveland shout outs? But admittedly, this show has also seen better days, and I’m mainly still watching to meet Ted’s future wife (aka the “mother”). Well I’m pretty certain that we will finally meet her on Monday’s season finale and I’m pumped.

The Book Thief: I hope to start this month’s book club title soon, The Book Thief (I’m a little behind, obviously). I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book and I’m a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it’s set during WW II.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend.

Do the Harlem Shake

I work with a fun and creative group of people. For the busy and stressful days, we always manage to sneak in some fun.

First it was the flash mob (as I shared previously), and now it’s the Harlem Shake. (If you haven’t seen the 537483575 versions of the Harlem Shake on You Tube, grab a bowl of popcorn, kick your feet up, and watch a few. They. Are. Hilarious. My personal favorites are the Sea World, University of Georgia’s men’s diving team, and the Army editions.)

My co-workers and I created our own version of the Harlem Shake. Enjoy!

Can you find me in the crowd? Hint: I may be wearing a snuggie.