WIN FOUR FREE Tickets to the Great Lakes Science Center and more!

**UPDATE: Congratulations Renee!!! You have been randomly selected as the winner of the Great Lakes Science Center ticket giveaway!!!  Please check your email for more details!**

Fall is here and as the weather gets chillier in Cleveland, the Great Lakes Science Center is always a really fun way to spend some good quality family time indoors!

Now is an especially great time to get to the Great Lakes Science Center because there are some new interactive exhibits to check out.

The latest exhibit is called 2TheXtreme: Math Alive!  It’s open now through January 2nd.  There are approximately 40 interactive experiences which takes math  into the applied worlds of design, engineering, technology and science (and helped to answer my daughter’s question, “What does MATH have to do with a SCIENCE center?”)

2theXtreme Math Alive!

2theXtreme: MathAlive! is designed to appeal to visitors of all ages and levels of math ability.  There is so much to do, you can spend hours at this exhibit alone.

Among the fun to be had, visitors can:

  • design and play their own video games
  • take the controls to master engineer various aspects of a modern city
  • edit their own animated movies
  • compete against others in a mountain bike race
  • jump into a ‘binary dance party
  • or program and control Curiosity, NASA’s next Mars rover.

My family enjoyed trying out all the different stations.  My daughter, who says she is not a fan of math, was able to see just how important math is even when it comes to her favorite sports, skate and snowboarding.

After spending time at Math Alive!, we headed out to tour the Steamship William G. Mather.  I have seen this gorgeous gigantic ship many times in the beautiful Northcoast Harbor, but this was my first time going inside.  When I was told it would take 45 minutes to an hour to tour the ship, I thought, “No way!” but once I got inside, I was amazed.

There really is so much to see and learn on this tour.  If you haven’t taken the tour yet, you have two more weekends before it closes for 2015 (and then you’ll have to wait until May 2016).  We loved it! It was so interesting and as long as you’re dressed appropriately for the weather, it’s a beautiful time of year to see the views of Lake Erie and the Northcoast Harbor from the ships perspective.

Here are some highlights of our tour but remember, there is still so much more to see than this:

Another exhibit we really enjoyed and wished we had hours to spend at was the Cleveland Creates Zone!

Cleveland Creates Zone

The Cleveland Creates Zone helps make science, technology, engineering and math come alive for you. Through critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation and collaboration, the Cleveland Creates Zone inspires young and old to flex their mental muscles, use new ways of thinking and find creative solutions to solve the following challenges:

  • Parachute Pod – Construct a parachute and drop it from the pulley or float it in our wind tube. What design do you think will work best to safely land your weight?
  • Race Car Pod – Build a car out of LEGOS and clock your speed as you race it down the track. What factors can make it go faster? Can you slow your car down?
  • Rocket Pod – Fabricate a paper rocket and send it soaring with our rocket launcher. Can you direct your rocket’s trajectory and path using fins and a nose cone?
  • Light Connections Pod – Create a lit sculpture by joining rods and connectors to our light table. Try to illuminate your entire piece. If a section doesn’t light up, can you figure out how to fix it?
  • Shoe Cobbler – Make a shoe out of found materials such as fabric, cork, paper and duct tape. Use our shoe forms to create your shoe, just like a real cobbler!

So many things to create! So little time!  Just like real life!  We all had our favorite stations.  My daughter was bound and determined to make a faster race car and a more reliable rocket, while my son and husband were honing in on their parachute skills.  Later we all collaberated on a shoe design. I needed all the help I could get even though I was armed with plenty of fabric, duct tape and safety scissors.  My husband was creating a great moccasin when unfortunately, the announcement came across letting us know that it was already time for the Science Center to close.

Here are some highlights of the Cleveland Creates Zone:

In addition to these exhibits, there’s still so much more including the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, the Polymer Funhouse, and of course OMNINAX!

We watched “Born to be Wild” but there are two other films showing at the OMNIMAX.

As you can see, there is a lot to do at the Cleveland Great Lakes Science Center and we had a hard time seeing it all during a days visit.

The Great Lakes Science Center offers prices for a day pass to experience everything within the Science Center as well as combinations that include an OMNIMAX FILM, or a tour of the Steamship Mather or all three.  Or, since you’re going to need more than a day to really experience all they have to offer, the Great Lakes Science Center also offers memberships that pay for themselves in just two visits!

Or you can win 4 Full Admission Tickets (includes general admission, 2theXtreme: MathAlive! Exhibit, Steamship William G. Mather, and OMNIMAX) here, thanks to the Great Lakes Science Center! 

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Visit  Great Lakes Science Center’s webpage and leave me a comment telling me which exhibit or OMNIMAX film you can’t wait to check out.

2. Visit Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Kiddos on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Kiddos on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to go w/ & win 4 tix to check out the latest exhibit ! !

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Thursday, October 22, 2015  at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced the following day.

General Information

Fall/Winter Operating Hours:

  • Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Sunday, noon – 5 pm

Steamship William G. Mather October Hours:

  • Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm
  • Sunday, noon – 5 pm

Get Social with the Great Lakes Science Center

***Disclosure: I was provided full admission to the Science Center for my family and four full admission tickets for a giveaway to my readers, by Great Lakes Science Center. All opinions are my own.***

Talk Like A Pirate Day – Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Ahoy all mates, join in the pirate fun!

Talk Like a Pirate Day


With all hands on deck, create various pirate crafts, join in a treasure hunt and meet a dressed up buccaneer for a pirate tale!  We’ll be watching for you lads and lassies from the crow’s nest. 

Aye, all activities included with paid Museum admission or membership.

September 19, 2015 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland
10730 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106


Get social with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland:

Twitter @CLE_KidsMuseum



Grandparents Day at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland


Celebrate National Grandparent’s Day by bringing a special guest to The Children’s Museum of Cleveland.  Along with photo opportunities, we will compare games of today and yesterday, and create our own old fashioned toy.   Share this day with special people in your life.

All activities included with paid Museum admission or membership.

September 13, 2015 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Visit The Children’s Museum of Cleveland  for more information.

Get social with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland:

Twitter @CLE_KidsMuseum



Read more about the plans for the future of the museum here.

Simon Kidgits Club Inspires Kids to get Active at Summit Mall

Kidgits logo If you have children ages 3 – 8, mark your calendars for September 19, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Simon Kidgits Club invites members to get up and moving with the addition of their first Kidgits Health and Fitness Day at Summit Mall.


Health and Fitness Day will educate Kidgits members about maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. The inaugural event will include health and fitness-themed activities, crafts and more. Prizes will also be given to Kidgits Club members.

The Simon Kidgits Club is a fun and informative program that focuses on health, wellness, education, safety and entertainment for children ages 3-8. The Simon Kidgits Club has kept children and parents alike amused for over a decade with various events and activities while providing incentives for club members, such as special offers, rewards and games. Annual membership is $5 and gets you into all events for a full year.

For more information about the Simon Kidgits Club events at Summit Mall, or @SummitMall on Twitter.

About Summit Mall

Summit Mall is located at the intersection of Route 18 and Ghent Road in Fairlawn, Ohio. Anchored by Dillard’s and Macy’s, Summit Mall boasts more than 120 specialty stores including Ann Taylor, Apple, Banana Republic, Brighton Collectibles, Brookstone, Coach, Eddie Bauer, Gymboree, Hot Topic, Loft, New York & Company, Pandora, Swarovski Crystal, Vera Bradley and Victoria’s Secret. Whether you’re shopping for others or treating yourself, you’re sure to find what you need at Summit Mall, where there are more choices.           

About Simon

Simon is a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development and a S&P100 company (Simon Property Group, NYSE:SPG). Our industry-leading retail properties and investments across North America, Europe and Asia provide shopping experiences for millions of consumers every day and generate billions in annual retail sales. For more information,

Future plans for The Children’s Museum of Cleveland

The following information is taken from a press release from The Children’s Museum of Cleveland regarding the future of the the museum. (Click here to see the press release in it’s entirety):

Future Plans for The Children's Museum of Cleveland

Plans are underway for The Children’s Museum of Cleveland’s renovation of the historic Stager Beckwith mansion in Midtown.

Stager Beckwith Mansion - Future Home of the Children's Museum of Cleveland
Stager Beckwith Mansion Future Home of the Children’s Museum of Cleveland – Photo courtesy of

Since purchasing the property in December 2014, the Museum has collaborated with exhibit designers and early childhood stakeholders to create a Museum that brings children and adults together in innovative ways to learn through play.

Due to an upcoming commercial redevelopment on its current property, the Museum’s lease is NOT being renewed. As such, the Museum will close its University Circle facility on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016 and begin to serve the community through a dynamic series of programs held throughout the community until the time when the renovation in Midtown is complete and the Museum is ready to open its new home to visitors.

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland is the only cultural institution in Northeast Ohio focused exclusively on the education of children birth to 8 years of age, a formative time when learning happens through play and social interactions.


Through an imaginative and creative style of design focused on whole child development, the Museum will turn the mansion’s spaces into areas filled with laughter and play based learning:

  • Twelve thousand square feet of brightly-lit exhibit spaces will cover all forms of play and are designed to support the development of 21st century skills: creativity, problem solving, communication and collaboration.
  • On the ground floor, the large ballroom will brim with a complex system of kid-sized buildings, allowing children opportunities to build, work, and live in a dynamic adventure city exhibit. This exhibit will combine physical activity, imaginative play, and free explorations.
  • Adjacent to the ballroom, the commercial kitchen will be transformed into a wonder lab where children will become scientists as they explore with water, experiment with air and create with magnetic gears.
  • First floor exhibits will include an early childhood room focusing on birth to 3 years of age and arts & parts room where children can tinker, innovate, create and build.


Museum operations, programming and exhibits will continue at the current University Circle facility through Jan. 3, 2016.

  • Young Architects: Designing the Future opens Sept. 12, 2015. This special exhibit highlights famous architects as inspiration and uses various block building media for a hands-on interactive learning experience for young children.
  • In addition, visitors will enjoy daily programs that celebrate the fun, learning, and early childhood development that has been experienced in the current building by three generations of children since 1986.
  • Until the end of 2015, The Museum will continue offering its Sensory Friendly Times, the second Saturday from 9 am to 10 am and third Thursday from 5 pm to 7 pm of each month when families with children with special needs can enter the Museum free of charge. During Sensory Friendly Times, lights are dimmed, music is turned off and attendance is controlled so that children with special needs can explore the Museum at their own pace while parents can connect with each other.


As a vital part of the community’s education ecosystem, the Museum will continue to provide learning through play experiences for children birth to 8 years old during the renovation of and transition to the new Midtown facility.

Starting in 2016, Museum Without Walls will bring the Museum’s educational and entertaining programs to Northeast Ohio’s communities and will reflect the design and learning principles of the coming exhibits and future programs in the new facility.

Museum Without Walls is made possible through collaborations with community organizations.

  • Its partnership with Cleveland Public Library will provide Museum programs in branches throughout the city.
  • The Museum will partner with TIES Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM to design and launch an Early Childhood Mobile Fab Lab. This mobile digital fabrication lab will enable children 3 to 8 years old to design, tinker and play using digital platforms and materials of the 21st century. This Early Childhood Fab Lab will be the first in the nation.
  • The community also will be able to connect with the Museum and enjoy special Museum programs at festivals throughout the region.

To keep the community informed of the Museum Without Walls community programming, updates on the future Museum, and fun ideas for at-home activities with children, the Museum will launch The Little Builders Club.

All families who have subscribed to The Children’s Museum of Cleveland eNewsletter will be enrolled in this club automatically when the current facility closes and the Museum Without Walls launches.

Visitors to Museum Without Walls’ programs also can sign up for this free information resource.

(Click here to subscribe to the eNewsletter and to stay up to date with The Children’s Museum of Cleveland!)

Offering a variety of hands-on, family-oriented exhibits and programming, The Children’s Museum of Cleveland is Northeast Ohio’s only destination and resource for young children birth to eight years old, parents and caregivers to engage in fun, innovative, interactive play that accelerates the child’s creativity, development and education.

The Children’s Museum is currently located at 10730 Euclid Avenue in University Circle. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The Museum’s operations are funded in part by the generous support of over 1,300 member families, and these members always receive the benefit of free admission. The Children’s Museum of Cleveland receives public support with local tax dollars from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, to preserve and enrich our region’s artistic and cultural heritage. For more information about The Children’s Museum of Cleveland visit

Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland – a Fun and Rewarding Experience!

When my daughter was born, we were faced with an unexpected emergency.  Even though she was born full term, her lungs would not work on their own as they are supposed to.  Instead of getting to hold my new daughter, she was whisked away to the NICU for emergency efforts to save her life and then life-flighted from the hospital she was born at to Cleveland Clinic.

At the time, we lived about an hour from the Cleveland Clinic, but my husband and I wanted to spend every moment we could at the hospital.  On top of this, we also had our 3 year old son to care for.

This is when we learned about the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.   (RMH).  I have to admit that while I had heard of the RMH before and seen the donation boxes at the McDonalds fast food chains, I really didn’t know anything about this wonderful organization.

“The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland offers a place to call home at little or no cost so families can access the best health care, regardless of their location.  (They) allow families to stay together, which can help their children heal faster and cope better.” (Read more about them here.)

When we first applied to stay there, all the rooms were filled but a room opened up the very next day and that is where we stayed for two weeks while my daughter recovered.  Thankfully, my daughter made a full recovery and my husband and I have always been so grateful for this wonderful facility for making it possible to be so close to her during that difficult time.  Its a charity we have wholeheartedly supported ever since.

Last year, I was able to learn about some other ways to support the Ronald McDonald House.  One way is by getting involved with their Family Meal Program.  (Click on the link to find out three ways to do this.)

One of the goals at the Ronald McDonald House is “to provide all the comforts of home for families, including nutritious meals donated by volunteers. Having regular meals provided helps our families in many ways. It eliminates the burden of making time to prepare food, thus allowing families to spend more time with their hospitalized child. It also removes the financial hardship of purchasing groceries or eating out and offers healthy options for families.”

Many people who know even a little bit about the Ronald McDonald House are under the misconception that the RMH is financially supported fully or at least heavily by McDonalds corporation.  However, the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is neither owned nor fully funded by McDonalds.  

Instead, Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland relies on donors to operate the large facility.  On average it costs over $75 per day to allow a family to stay with them to be close to their child in the hospital – however they only ask families to make a $20 nightly donation to stay with them and they never turn a family away due to inability to pay.

Last year, I had the privilege and wonderful experience of  working with RMH’s Laura Doyle to organize a volunteer meal for the Cleveland Ronald McDonald House along with several other Cleveland area bloggers who participated by either donating food and/or helping prepare the meal in the RMH Kitchen.

Photo Courtesy Karin McKenna
Photo Courtesy Karin McKenna

We created a meal of homemade panko crusted chicken strips, homemade mac and cheese, fruit salad, veggie crudites and cupcakes.  (We prepared the cupcakes in house and provided frosting and fun toppings for the guests to have fun decorating themselves.)

While the guests surely appreciate all meals provided for them, we wanted to make something a little different than the typical spaghetti or cookout food.  I give a lot of credit to my fellow volunteers because making homemade breaded chicken strips for 100 people is quite the ambitious task, but thanks to all the hard work and awesome cooperation, the meal was served hot and right on time.  As a bonus, we had so much fun doing it!

Photo Credit

IMG_20140721_153258 (1) IMG_20140721_153309 IMG_20140721_174015

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

We received many thanks and expressions of appreciation from all who enjoyed the meal.


My fellow bloggers and journalists each had their own interesting and unique perspectives of this event.  Please read about them in the following links:


Trust me!!!  If I can organize a volunteer meal for 100 people, you can too!

When I first committed to doing this, I felt overwhelmed but now that I have experienced it, I cannot wait to volunteer again!

I can’t even tell you how rewarding and fun it is.  It’s something you have to experience for yourself to really understand!  You may also feel that it is too overwhelming to plan a meal for such a large group but believe me, there is a lot of help and support by  the staff and regular volunteers at the RMH who will make it seem almost effortless.

If you are interested in organizing your own volunteer group for the Cleveland RMH, you will find the most help by checking out Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland’s website which has everything you need to know.  Also the staff is incredible!  They appreciate all volunteers and are available for you to contact with any questions.

Also be sure to get social with the Cleveland Ronald McDonald House.  They even have a new Pinterest page with meal and activity ideas:

Cleveland Ronald McDonald House on Twitter

Cleveland Ronald McDonald House on Facebook

Cleveland Ronald McDonald House on Instagram

Cleveland Ronald McDonald House on Pinterest

#TasteTheChange with FREE Appetizers at Northeast Ohio Applebees – July 21, 2015

To celebrate it’s 35th year, Applebees, the nation’s leading casual dining chain, is marking the occasion by showcasing its new and improved menu of craveable bar-and-grill classics!

To make this news even more exciting, all Northeast Ohio-area Applebee’s restaurants will offer FREE sampler plates of it’s popular new Sriracha Shrimp and Churro S’Mores appetizers to their guests as what may become the largest-ever free food-sampling event.

I used to hang out at Applbee’s a lot as a teenager and I admit, I hadn’t been to an Applebee’s in quite a while but when I was  invited to come sample their new and improved menu, I was definitely intrigued.

After sampling 7 of their new menu items, I was completely impressed.  This wasn’t the typical chain-restaurant fare that I was expecting.

We started with a new handcrafted drink.  My husband enjoyed the Bourbon and Berries.  I am a big fan of sangria and a good sangria is hard to find but my Blackberry Sangria was so delicious, I had two!

Blackberry Sangria

Next we got to sample the new appetizers; the Srirachi Shrimp and the Thai Double Crunch Bone-in wings.

 The Srirachi Shrimp  was one of the favorites of mine and of the bloggers who were sampling the menu along with us. When I hear “Srirachi Shrimp”, I think of breaded shrimp tossed in Sriracha sauce, but Applebees version is so much better.  It’s a BBQ spice and Sriracha chile lime sauce which makes for a really sweet and tangy flavor.

Remember, you can try it yourself for FREE this Tuesday at your local Applebee’s!


I typically don’t order burgers when I go out to eat but Applebee’s new All-In Burger made me a believer!  There are four to choose from and I tried the American Standard.  This burger was serious melt-in-your-mouth-heaven!  I wanted to just keep eating burgers but I knew I had several more surprises ahead of me to taste.

All In Burger American Standard

Next we tried 3 of Applebee’s 4 new Handhelds.

Next time I go to Applebee’s, I’m seriously going to be torn between ordering the All-In burger and the new Brew Pub Philly.  This sandwich is a ciabatta bun loaded with Montreal Steak, peppers and onions, smothered in the most delicious American and craft beer cheese and topped with crispy fried jalepeños.  It is served with an extra side of that crazy good beer cheese for dipping! Wow!

Brew Pub Philly

The Handheld that came in a close second for me was the Triple Hog Dare Ya which is pulled pork, ham, and bacon topped with cheddar cheese and my favorite, crispy onions, with a signature grill sauce on a ciabatta bun.

Triple Hog Dare Ya

While I like the meatier, savory, saucier types of sandwiches, my husband is more of a fan of the lighter, healthier tasting meals,  and so he really enjoyed the Maple Bacon Chicken Piadini; cedar seasoned chicken, cheddar, maple mustard and bacon on a grilled piadini wrap, which I thought tasted very fresh and homemade!

Maple Bacon Chicken Piadini

By the way, all sandwiches and burgers come with free refills of fries or their new house chips, which we also sampled and are also very tasty!

Finally it was time for dessert!  The NEW Churros S’Mores! How can you go wrong here? Cinnamon Churros, melted chocolate and marshmallows?

I don’t think I need to tell you how wonderful these were…. I will save that for you to find out for yourself because Applebee’s is giving away FREE Churro S’Mores tomorrow from 11 am to close!

Churro S'Mores

Honestly, I’m really glad I had this opportunity to try Applebee’s new menu.  I am looking forward to going back again and again.

If you’re free tomorrow for lunch or dinner, you really need to make plans to stop in to Applebees, get your free appetizers and try some of their new food and really #TasteTheChange.

By the way, if you feel so inclined, be sure to tag your opinions via social networking with the #TasteTheChange hashtag.

Also, be sure to check out Applebee’s Menu  to see what other new things you have to look forward to on your next visit there!

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*The free sampling offer will be available at nearly all Applebee’s locations nationwide on July 21, from 11 a.m. to close.

Valid at participating locations on 7/21/15 only. Dine in only. Minimum one Sampler per party. Additional Samplers may be provided depending on party size. Selection of sampler(s) provided may vary. No substitutions. See participating restaurant for details.

I was invited as a guest of Applebee’s to a media sampling event to try the new menu items.  All opinions are my own.