Big News at Mister John’s Music

Thanks to some renovations, our favorite music teacher in Philly has more room for his awesome after-school classes Read more

mister johns music philadelphia

If you’ve spent anytime with Mister John, then you know: This is the kind of guy that’s gonna have a major impact on your kids. (He’s actually had an impact on my whole family.) So we’ve got some good news for those hanging out on the wait list for one of his classes or trying to figure out your after-school sitch this fall — Mister John’s Music recently underwent a renovations and now he has more room for more classes.

The lower level of his adorable Bella Vista shop now has a piano lab, sound-proofing and lots of space for more of his awesome guitar, piano, ukulele, fiddle, percussion and choir lessons for kids and adults. (One highlight to look forward to? The spring concerts, in which the chorus students perform with the music students, kids and adults—this year’s theme will probably be ’80s music. Toto’s Africa, perhaps? There will also be some neighborhood festival performances, too. Outdoor risers are being constructed as I write!)

And really, even if you do none of this, you should check out his videos on Instagram, just because they’ll make you smile.

The Perfect New-Mom Present

There is literally nobody who will not love this idea (PLUS! We’ve got a deal!) Read more

new mom gifts philadelphia

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When it comes to baby shower gifts and presents for new moms, I love gifting a massage or a facial or some little treat. Everyone tends to give mamas stuff for the baby, which is helpful and lovely … but as any new mom can tell you, it’s also fun to get a little special something for yourself (duh) at a moment when your own needs are the last thing on your mind. And one of the primo spots to go for such a gift is Philly-based Hands at Home, which offers massages and facials IN YOUR OWN HOUSE. It’s just sort of perfect: Not only do new moms generally need a little encouragement/permission/motivation to spend time on themselves, but since most of us stress out at the idea of getting out of the house and getting back within those short, tiny windows of time you get with a newborn, cutting the travel time out of the package can make the difference between getting the special TLC or not. And man, does a little TLC at that moment go a long way.

The services that Hands at Home owner Nicki Dekunchak (a mom herself) and her crew offer include a whole range of massages (Swedish, prenatal, deep tissue, reflexology), as well as peels and facials (the works — steam, exfoliation, extraction, mask, massage). A gift card allows the new mom to choose which service she wants/needs the most, which is obviously a nice option. And of course, it’s not like this sort of thing should be exclusively in the “gift” category of your brain: you can also just make yourself an appointment, mamas — in which case you should know that in addition to home visits, Nicki and her team also make office visits, complete with 20-minute peels and chair massages. Also! Mention Wee Wander when you buy your gift card or book your appointment, and you can get $10 off!

To get on the books, order a card or ask a question, you can email (or call) Hands at Home here.

 

Wee Bits: On Raising Readers, The Best TV Episode Ever, A Life-Changing Facial Mask, And The Best Nursing Bras

Reads, news, happenings and other tidbits for Philly parents this week Read more

wee bits philadelphia news

Hey guys, sorry we’ve been a bit slow in Wee Wanderland — summer always means vacations, piles of deadlines, family obligations and more general chaos than usual. But we’re back to the (mostly) regularly scheduled programming this week … until the next round of chaos, anyway!

This NYT guide to raising readers is SO inspiring, and filled with SO MUCH helpful stuff. Couldn’t love it more.

Interesting: The importance of self-directed play (a.k.a. recess). Via Education Week. 

I got totally lost in this fascinating list from Ringer (which I found via Go Fug Yourself girls) of the century’s best episodes of television — literally, 45 minutes, just GONE. You will also get lost, I’m betting. (Seriously, there’s everything: My personal favorite, Justified, to Walking Dead to Mad Men to Laguna Beach — for reals — to Price is Right to The Crown. Compelling!)

PSA! The fall session music classes at the beloved Mister John’s Music are now open for registration! 

Another heads up: Did you know that West Philly’s Lightbox Film Center features a family matinee on a Saturday each month? (Their mission? To advance “underrepresented and unexpected modes and makers of moving image art.”) On August 18, the 2 p.m. family matinee is Napping Princess, a Japanese film set in 2020, three days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, featuring a young girl who must save her father, who’s been accused of stealing technology from a powerful corporation. Sounds cool.

These are the best nursing bras, according to The Strategist.

Exactly what I’ve been wondering (via the Cut): Is the Summer Fridays face mask worth the hype? 

Y’all, the featured exhibits at Please Touch are awesome over the next few months: First, there’s the ongoing “Hello From Japan” exhibit (a mini-Tokyo experience, with play sushi, Japanese writing, karaoke, bamboo forests, and more) through September. Then, they launch the Thomas & Friends exhibit — a STEM-focused exhibit with the train every toddler is obsessed with. And! August 25 and 26 is their Space Odyssey Weekend  a weekend of special space and Star Wars-themed programming, including Jedi Training, music by Wookiedelphia, intergalactic storytime, and more. 

I think you’ll enjoy the hilarious Tankini Files post on the never-ending cycle of kid-snacking. It’s almost too much truth to handle.

Hey, everyone: Phield House summer camp has been extended for two extra weeks — you can still register for a week or two of sports/games by the week or the day. The weeks; August 13 and August 20. Open for 6- to 14-year-olds!

I know this is old news by now, and I also know it has zilch to do with parenting, but I cannot help myself: If you have not already read this delicious NYT Mag profile of Gwynnie and Goop, I highly, highly suggest it. A wonderfully written piece that articulates a lot of the Goop-longing/Goop-eyebrow raising that draws us in.

A brief back-to-school announcement: August 17, from noon to 3 p.m., the Germantown Boys & Girls Club (in partnership with Messa and Associates law firm) will host its Back-to-School Bash, an event held each year to donate back packs filled with school supplies to the first 1,000 students in attendance. (There’s also food and fun for the kids and their families.) Kids in attendance will receive a ticket with which they can claim their book bag filled with supplies for the upcoming school year.

And finally: The Friends of the Wissahickon are holding their annual Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, Aug. 15 from 3 – 5 p.m. in front of The Cedars House on Forbidden Drive. So — if you happen to be in the mood for a hike, you can enjoy free ice cream, live music and crafts. Sounds like a nice little outing, no?

 

 

Why Am I Just Now Learning About This Bath Seat?

Keter Bath Seat is where it’s at Read more

keter seat

I always figured that once I had two children, I’d throw them in the bathtub together, for reasons of convenience and cuteness. But I’ve had two children for going on a year now, and until last week, it was two separate baths every night. (Haha, okay, not every night. Like, every two nights. Fine, three or four nights, sometimes, whatever.) I just couldn’t deal with a wiggly four-year-old and a wiggly wet baby (who sometimes falls over for no reason) in a big, deep tub. I feel like people team-bathe all the time — isn’t Instagram loaded with adorable photos of multiple babies in the tub? — but hoooow?

Here’s how, I just learned: This thing called the Keter Bath Seat. Do you know this seat? It’s a simple little flat chair with suction cups that stick to the bottom of the tub, holding the baby (up to 16 months or about 28 pounds) upright and firmly in place in a tub full of water, and, unlike similar seats that have side-of-tub rods and suctions, this one is pretty compact, so the the big kid is free to do his wiggly thing while the little one can be cool and soak and splash without my having to keep my hands on her the whole time. ALSO: Two baths for the price/time/energy/patience of one, wheeee!

A couple things, if y’all don’t already know about this thing: 1) It’s not sold anywhere but by the company that makes it, alas. 2) It doesn’t suction well (or at all, I’m told) if there’s any non-skid surface in the tub already. 

Stuff That Nobody Registers For But Everyone Loves

Things every new(ish) parent should have around Read more

gift ideas for new moms

Sometimes you get to the registry and everything is already bought. (Well, everything under $150.) Sometimes you get bored of buying the same Aden + Anais swaddles over and over. Sometimes, you just want to give a gift long after the shower, and you’d like it to be useful and not just cute. For all of those cases — or honestly, if you just want to know some good stuff that EVERY mom should know about/have, even when it’s not glamorous or cute enough to make it onto anybody’s wishlist — we offer up this, our list of random and under-the-radar but tried-and-true parenting gear that everybody loves once they have it.

The baby briefcase
I received one of these for my first child, and I actually use the same one for both children now — a handy, simple place to store social security cards, immunization records, birth certificates and all the other paperwork that you don’t want to disappear into the vast void of refrigerator warranties and marriage licenses and car titles and the rest of the adult paperwork you’re supposed to be keeping track of. This small file folder makes me feel — in this ONE instance — like a very organized, highly responsible parent who knows where all the important files are at any given moment.

Mustela gift set 
Mustela has been around for decades now, but it’s been gaining speed in recent years in the baby world because it’s awesome — plant-based, hypoallergenic, and really helpful with cradle cap or dry patches or eczema. Also, it smells better than literally any baby product you have ever smelled anywhere. It’s not as fancily packaged as some newer, fresher-looking products, but trust: This stuff is the best.

A Shutterfly gift card and some classic frames.
Because one of the hardest tasks as a parent is finding the energy/time to do something with the bazillion of photos we take, a little nudge in the right direction is welcome. Yes, people can do Chatbooks anytime they want — but perhaps it wouldn’t have taken me four years into motherhood before I hung a single photo on a wall in our home if I had had the Shutterfly and the frames already here, ready and waiting. (One less excuse, you know?) My personal favorite for simple but tasteful frames is West Elm, where they come gallery-style and pre-matted.

Corner covers … and other wildly boring but practical goodies
I know — could this be any duller? But I cannot help it — when I find something that is the very best, I simply must tell other people about it, even when it is something as pedestrian as corner covers. And these are great ones! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate these clear, almost invisible corner covers — I put them on everything because they actually do the job they’re supposed to: They stay on and keep the kids from God knows how many head wounds; they don’t damage my furniture; and — unlike the vast majority of options out there — they’re not some gross gray or brown or some ugly bulky thing that completely ruins the aesthetic around here. Stick these guys in a basket with tiny baby hangers, really good nail clippers, FridaBaby’s nose suckers and Windi (for gas), and one of those poncho-bibs, and you’ve got a great gift made up all the random everyday stuff nobody talks about but everyone really needs/loves.

Silicone Stuff
We live and die by the so-easy-to-wash silicone place mats, bibs and food binkies that we’ve gathered over the years. Cloth bibs are cute, but look disgusting after about two wears — and who needs more laundry? The place mats are especially excellent for home and for restaurants during that window of time when your little one can’t be trusted with a plate but can pick up food that is put down in front of her. And the silicone food binkies work the same way as the mesh ones — that is to say, they’re an awesome way to let your little one eat food in a way that doesn’t involve you spooning it in — but aren’t as icky. Excellent gifts or buys, all of ’em!

 

The Oval Is Back

And Bigger/Better Than Ever!?! Read more

The Oval Philadelphia

Does anyone even remember what summer was like before all of the pop-up parks took over this city? What did we even do for cheap fun with our children on these slow, hot weekends?

I bring this up now because this weekend, one of the seasonal favorites makes a (long-awaited!) return: As of July 20, the Oval (in front of the PMA) is back, y’all, and there’s going to be lots of good stuff in an EXPANDED version of what we’ve liked in past years — and when we say “expanded”, we mean it both in the sense that it is literally going to offer more room to wander around (they’re closing some of the traffic lanes around the museum) as well as more programming and fun. (In fact, this year, they’re calling it Oval+.)

You can expect a huge mural (done, of course, by Mural Arts, which collaborated with the very cool illustration studio The Heads of State), as well as an 800-square-foot sandbox (read: bring hand wipes), lots of amusements, lots of seating, a misting pavilion, a beer garden, food trucks, and tons of programming — movies, dance parties, Zumba, yoga, kids’ music jams, family-friendly games, DJs, face-painting, bike-riding lessons for teens and grown-ups, and more. (Here’s the full lineup of everything that’s happening.) Yay, summer!

Photo credit: AYee for the Fairmount Park Conservancy