Staycation 2015: The End

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I’ll save you the suspense: It was one wet weekend.


We headed up to Mohican to check into the lodge and get Barrak ready for his race, a 50-mile trail race through Mohican State Park.


The Amish restaurant, Der Dutchman, is right off the exit so we stopped there for lunch. They have great fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

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The Mohican Lodge is charming but it smells a little like a dry cleaners. There’s heavy, hot dampness but it also smells clean. A little creepy and 197os too, like we were staying at the Overlook Hotel…


…right down the street from Crystal Lake.


Barrak shaved himself a Thomas Magnum mustache to get his racing mojo on.


And Magnus got his first pair of water wings since the pool didn’t have life vests or a shallow end.

Highlights of the evening: after swimming in the over-chlorinated indoor pool, we ate deep-dish pizza on the balcony of the lodge’s restaurant, then Greta puked it all up around 10 p.m. while Magnus watched the last 30 minutes of Thelma & Louise. I don’t think anyone got a good night’s sleep thanks to the AC turning off then roaring back to life every 15 minutes.



Barrak got up at 4 a.m., left the room at 5 a.m., and started his race at 6 a.m.

When the kids and I got up a few hours later, it was pouring. Looking out from the balcony, my heart just sank knowing Barrak was out there running it. Turned out he would be running in that rain until after nightfall.

After a disgusting French toast breakfast that tasted like white packing peanuts drizzled with maple syrup, the kids and I checked out of the lodge, paid for Bucky the stuffed animal deer that had been so helpfully placed in our room, and drove over to try to meet Barrak at the half-way point of the race.


The kids waited so patiently for Barrak at the half-way mark aid station. Under a tree. In the rain. We finally got to see him. Due to the conditions–the trails were like chocolate milkshakes–he was behind his usual pace. I was starting to get worried about a twisted ankle or something. By the time he came through, the kids and I were soaked. I thought he might decide to throw in the towel but he decided to keep going.

After seeing Barrak, we estimated we had another 6 hours to kill, at least. So we toured nearby Malabar Farms, which is the estate once owned by Louis Bromfield, a novelist, screenwriter and farmer. The big claim to fame is that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married in the Big House on the property. The house is preserved with all the furniture, artwork, books, etc. from the ’40s. Greta thought it was neat. Magnus thought it was BORING. I was just proud of myself for finding the damn place.

After that, we went back to the lodge, had lunch, ran into a co-worker in the ladies room (so random!) and hit the indoor pool again (there’s a sauna!)


Finally at 8 p.m. Barrak finished his first 50-miler. The kids ran out to him and crossed the finish line with him. Aside from severe chafing and an iffy toenail, he was in good shape and eager to “get the fuck out of here.” He was just done. So were we.


We celebrated Father’s Day back at home and enjoyed the simple pleasure of wearing dry clothes and having dry hair. And the second season of True Detective premiered. It’s gonna be a good summer.


Staycation 2015: The Middle

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Rained out! So any thoughts of a pool day were torpedoed. Instead, I took a Les Mills BodyPump class at the gym (such a weird feeling when you’re a 9-to-5-er to be at the gym at 10:30 in the morning) and we cleaned out the junk cabinet above the computer, which had been a hodgepodge of cough syrup, crazy glue, lighters, acrylic paints, allergy pills, a razor for scraping gunk–you know, all the stuff you wouldn’t want within easy reach of children. Barrak has been a tear reorganizing the garage, the basement, closets…everything. So I started the junk cabinet and he finished it. He’s got a knack for it I have to say.

I had dinner with a friend Wednesday evening at Basi Italia. I had rigatoni with spicy pomodoro and we split a butterscotch budino, which is an Italian pudding, with almond cookies and freshly whipped cream, strawberries and drizzled butterscotch. Custards and creme brûlées are not typically my cup of tea, but this was really good. Light.


No staycation would be complete without a trip to the zoo. And no trip to the zoo would be complete without photos of Greta navigating with a zoo map and Magnus on an animal statue.

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When we got home, I had some things to do on my own. But when I saw Greta plant herself at the computer, I just couldn’t leave her. So we decided to go do girl stuff, just the two of us.

First, we went to Sweet and Sassy and used our certificate for a free toenail polish change (she also got a glitter star on her cheek). Then we browsed in the mall, checking out Justice, Claire’s and Barnes & Noble. Then, because the sun was out (finally) we had gelato cones at Coppa Gelato in Westerville.

This little outing is one of my favorite memories of the week.

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Staycation 2015: The Beginning

After two back to back years of going to Destin, FL followed by two back to back years of Disney World, we decided to keep our summer vacation low-key this year.

Although my visions of spending weekdays at the pool were rained out, we had some fun times nonetheless.

Here’s how the week started out:


We had awesome burgers for lunch at Flip Side at Easton. Then we bought some new sunglasses for the kids at GAP Kids, and saw the movie Jurassic World. Big fun!

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Because Barrak is Clark Griswald, we were on the road to Cedar Point, the amusement park in Sandusky, OH, by 8 a.m. Magnus was too short to ride many of the rides. There was a special Dinosaurs Live attraction with huge animatronics, which was cool to see on the heels of Jurassic World. The Peanuts, including Snoopy, are a big deal at the park. Magnus got a stuffed Woodstock.

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Greta rode the Gemini (above). Such a classic. I rode it with her. It felt so good to scream so unabashedly. Magnus rode something called the Pipe Scream with Barrak and Greta. I wouldn’t ride it – too nauseating for me. In fact, they were 20 minutes delayed getting on it because of “guest illness.” When he got off it, he was AMPED. He drank an entire bottle of Dasani in two long chugs.

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We battled some pop-up rain showers but made it work. We were there until 4 p.m. (!)

After leaving Cedar Point, we drove 20 minutes away to Kalahari, which is a sprawling resort with an indoor water park you wouldn’t believe, and an outdoor pool we didn’t get to use much because of the unseasonably cool temps and rain.

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Kalahari has an African animal theme, which Magnus’s pet elephant, Elephant, was pleased about.

We showered, got back in the car and Google Mapped our restaurant destination, Bay Harbor. Turned out, we ended right back on Cedar Point property, next to the marina.

The food was good but Barrak described it as a “sensory deprivation tank” which is very apt. We were the only table there for most of our dinner. There was NO music or Muzak or even white noise. It was weird. You could hear every clink of silverware. Greta had a $6 PB&J. Magnus had most of my $35 filet mignon.


More mom-screaming on indoor water slides at Kalahari, including one that felt like we were being flushed down a toilet on a raft. Some of these water slides are big enough for a family of four to go down together on a raft. There are huge drops that make your stomach flip, and in pitch-dark. In retrospect the place seems a little risky and loosey-goosey on safety. But, we survived and had a ton of fun.

After we checked out, we drove up to Port Clinton to have fried perch sandwiches at Jolly Roger, a local favorite.


Then we picked up some supplies for the 4th of July (to set off out of state, of course).


I love the drive between Columbus and Sandusky. So many pretty farmsteads. And bratwurst shops in Bucyrus!

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Home sweet home with a glass of pomegranate sangria and a bag of Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn.


Give me your hand


When Greta was a toddler, I used to reach my hand out to her in the backseat of the car while I was driving. She would reach out with her little paw and we’d hold hands for a few minutes. Usually we did it after she’d been upset or gotten in trouble, like if she had thrown a tantrum when we were leaving the mall or if I had lost my temper with her and snapped at her. In other words, I was feeling like a horrible mother and she was feeling unloved. It was our way of wordlessly connecting or patching something up. It’s our thing.

After a while, she started doing something that was so funny–it was an early flash of her fantastic, advanced sense of humor. When I’d reach back, she’d slip off her shoe and put her little fat foot in my hand.

Now that she’s 7, she still does it and it still makes me smile.

Seared salmon with creamy cilantro dressing

Good gravy, June is almost over and I haven’t blogged since late May. Eek! Been busy. I’ll soon put up a post with a recap of our stay-cation.

In the meantime, we made this salmon the other night for dinner and it was really good. Thought I’d share.

No real recipe. Just a large salmon fillet salt and peppered, seared in olive oil (flesh side down), then flipped and finished in a 375-degree oven. It came out after 10 or so minutes. We had it on a bed of store-bought spring greens with that creamy cilantro dressing we like to keep on hand. Pretty good for a weeknight dinner! Roasted cherry tomatoes would have been good on the side.