Kids’ Dance Classes at the Rock School

Here’s your chance to try a kids’ pre-ballet or hip-hop class FOR FREE Read more

rock school dance classes

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Do you have a little dancer — or would-be dancer — in your house? You’re going to want to check out the Family and Friends Open House at the Rock School of Dance on April 1.

First — in case you don’t know about the Rock School: The internationally acclaimed dance school has been around for some 50 years, training young dancers through supportive, caring instruction in everything from ballet to pre-ballet to “children’s dance” to hip-hop to pre-gymnastics. (“We want our students to grow as individuals in the process,” the mission declares.) The place offers fun dance instruction, but it’s also no joke: They’ve developed dancers who have ended up in some of the world’s most renowned dance companies.

Anyway: The programs are diverse and extensive, and you can read more on the site — and even better, you can check it out live and in person at the open house! There will be complimentary snacks and treats, a performance, crafts and even FREE sample classes — one pre-ballet, the other hip-hop. The event is April 1, from 1 to 3:30 p.m., at the Rock School at Broad and Washington.

One more thing: If you enroll your kiddo in the summer classes (aimed at kids from about 3 to 12) at the open house, you’ll get a five percent discount and waived registration fee.

Gear Up: Must-Have Sleep Stuff for Babies and Kids

Because we don’t mess around when it comes to sleep. Here, the expert picks, from a magic swaddle substitute to the best bedtime stories and beyond Read more

sleeping gear magic merlin

This post comes courtesy of sleep coach Erica Desper*, founder of Confident Parenting, and a self-described “recovering sleep-deprived mama.” She says: “After solving my struggles with my own son, I now spend my days and nights helping other parents do the same. Here are some of favorite tried and true products to help your little one sleep more soundly.”

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Dohm Sound Machine
I am a fan of using white noise for babies and children and leaving it on for the duration of nights and naps. Be cautious not to choose a device that shuts off after just 20-45 minutes as this can increase the likelihood of baby waking during sleep cycle transitions or being disturbed by household or neighborhood sounds. Many parents swear by the Dohm for masking pets, siblings, traffic and more. It costs about $45.

Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
So many babies have trouble transitioning out of the swaddle but, for safety reasons, you’ll need to eliminate that before baby can roll. What’s a tired parent to do? Enter Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. It looks like a snowsuit and is made of a weighted material so baby’s arms can be free but she still has that contained feeling she’s missing from the swaddle. Just be aware that you’ll need to ditch the Merlin once baby learns to roll in it. The suit costs about $40.

Zipadeezip
Another swaddle transition product parents love is the Zipee. This is essentially a stretchy sack you zip baby into, arms and hands included. It allows baby to feel contained enough to cope with the new freedom of being unswaddled. Unlike the Merlin, you can continue to use the Zipee once baby is rolling. The Zipadeezip costs between $30-40.

Twilight Ladybug
While you’d like to think that older children are past sleep issues, it is very common for the development of the imagination to bring on a new round. Adding a source of light and one that your child can control can be very soothing and help redirect their nervous energy into an action. The Twilight Ladybug or Turtle cast soothing stars on the ceiling for a set amount of time and can easily be turned back on by your child if he wakes overnight.

OK to Wake Clock
Early riser? For children age 2 and up, a toddler clock can help them distinguish when it is and isn’t okay to wake for the day. In their defense, 11 p.m., 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. all look very much the same, especially in a blacked-out room. A toddler clock (with time and reinforcement) can help your child learn to return to sleep when they wake too early … or at least to wait quietly in bed until the clock wakes. Some great clocks to check out are the OK to Wake Owl, the Kid Sleep Classic and the Gro Clock, starting around $28.

Magnesium Oil
Restless sleeper? Even with a balanced diet, most of us are deficient in Magnesium, which plays an important role in sleep. Combine that with the fact that most kids are picky eaters, and a deficiency is even more likely. You can ask your child’s pediatrician to check her levels and check out Kid Safe Calming Magnesium Roll-on Oil or Balm for about $20-29.

Weighted Blanket
Another great tool for restless sleepers or children who have anxiety, sensory processing issues or ADD/ADHD is a weighted blanket. These provide enough sensory input to help a busy mind and body settle down and drift off more easily. Price varies based on weight, blanket size and manufacturer or if you are DIY savvy you can make your own!

Relaxation Bedtime Stories for Children
If your child is anything like mine, extricating yourself from the room at bedtime is quite a feat. One sure way I can step peacefully out of the room is by putting on Lori Lite’s Indigo Dreams Relaxation Bedtime Stories for Children. These help my son to not feel so alone in the room and provide a distraction for his “worry brain”. These are available on cd or wherever you stream music.

What to Do When You Dread Your Bed
For children 6 and up who are experiencing anxiety surrounding sleep, this book is fantastic. It is intended to be read by parent and child together to help get to the root of the struggle and provide the family and child with coping tools.

While these tools may not be all that is needed to tackle your little one’s sleep struggles they can be a great complement to your overall plan. And if you don’t have a plan, a sleep consultant can help!

 

Erica Desper Confident Parenting

*About our author: Erica Desper is a certified child and infant sleep consultant who has worked with hundreds of parents in and around the Philadelphia area and internationally to improve their family’s sleep. Having struggled with colic, feeding issues and more than a year of massive sleep deprivation with her own son, Erica launched her business Confident Parenting in 2012 with the goal of helping other parents better understand and survive their baby’s developmental stages and sleep patterns while maintaining their sanity. Erica works with parents to understand the science of sleep, set the stage for healthy sleep habits and to remove common obstacles that interfere with sleep. Her philosophy is that there is no one-size-fits all solution or method but rather, the right one for you and your family. She offers a range of options so you can address sleep with a plan and timeline that feels comfortable for you, and follows you through the process of implementing the plan through phone and email support. She also teaches several group classes including “Why Won’t My Child Sleep”, “Newborn Sleep 101”, “Introduction to Infant Massage” and “Fussy Baby Solutions”. To learn more about the options for one on one support or to see what parents are saying about their experience, visit BeAConfidentParent.com.

 

Wee Bits: Big Cash for Philly Schools, Play-A-Palooza, Big Little Lies, and Free Trees For Your House

The week’s news, reads and tidbits for Philly parents Read more

This is awesome news from Philly.com: “Energy savings could yield $600M for Philly schools” 

Saw this random advice on keeping ticks off of your body, and it seems worth a shot, no?

Given our recent review of Thinx underwear, we would be remiss to not include in our round-up this NY Mag piece that just came out about the sexual harassment claims launched against Thinx boss Miki Agrawal.

Not for the first (and certainly not for the last) time, Sesame Street’s wonderful ways of teaching and talking to all children has made me cry.

Are you watching Big Little Lies? If so, maybe you’ll be as interested in this piece about couples counselors weighing in on the show’s domestic violence as I was. From The Cut.

Hey! You can get a free tree from the city for your block! Here’s how, via Curbed.  Read more →

Wee One-On-One: Maria Lopez

A Philly supermom shares her favorite stuff Read more

maria lopez wee one on one

The mama: If you don’t know Maria Lopez, well … this time next year, she might be someone you want to know. Maria, who’s mom to Alina, 4, and Luna, 19 months, happens to be in the process of getting certified to be a sleep coach. She’s relatively new to Philly, too — though you wouldn’t know it based on her knowledge of fun kids things to do around town. (See below!) The Fishtown resident moved from Atlanta about a year and a half ago, and originally hails from Bogota, Colombia. Here, her scoops on everything from awesome kids’ dance classes to the best gin and tonics in town.

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Neighborhood of residence: Fishtown

Preschool: Mi Casita

Favorite kids’ classes: Ballet and Toddlers in Tutus at Palmer Pond Art Center. We love the small size of the classes and the laid back atmosphere.

Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon as a family: We usually visit a kid-friendly museum. We also walk to our local playgrounds and restaurants.

Date night: Dinner at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons or Root. Mulherin’s has pizza that’s out of this world, and Root is famous for its overall great food and selection of gin-tonics. Afterward, we head to the bars on Frankford Avenue. Fishtown Social is our favorite — it has a nice selection of cold cuts, cheese and pairing wines.

Favorite spring break or summer camp: My oldest daughter, Alina, will be old enough for summer camp for the first time this summer. We signed her up for one week of the summer camp at the Franklin Institute and are very excited about it!

Special find for families: We recently discovered Minnow Lane. It’s a unique kids’ store with tons of learning toys, books and clothes. They have a space where they hold special parent classes and events for kids.

Rainy day go-to: Play Arts. It’s a huge indoors play space with toys ranging from tricycles to Legos. They also have dress-up and a pretend house with two floors. There is plenty in there to keep the kiddos busy for hours. You can grab something to eat and drink at their snack bar.

Holiday tradition: The Elf on the Shelf, Baby Jesus and Santa visit us. We bake a birthday cake for baby Jesus on Christmas Day, and we have a Colombian tradition where we sing and tell Baby Jesus stories every night for nine days before Christmas.

Outing or event you avoid: We try to avoid huge crowds. The Trader Joe’s crowd during the weekend — we all know about that line that wraps around the store. Please Touch Museum during holidays is a no-no for us.

Outing or event you love: We love the observatory events at the Ben Franklin, the spring and fall festivals all over the city and Christmas at the City Hall.

Favorite app for parents or kids: We love Skymap. Our oldest daughter loves everything space, so we use it when it’s cloudy outside to know what’s up in the sky. It shows where the planets and constellations are related to where you are standing and your line of horizon.

Family-friendly restaurant: Fette Sau. We find the girls like most of the food on their menu and the staff is very friendly.

Favorite cultural activity or event in Philly or ‘burbs: The Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Park is beautiful at night.

Gear you can’t live without: We can’t leave without our Stokke stroller. It turns into a high chair, which is a lifesaver when eating at restaurants with no high chairs. It also collapses to be pulled up and down stairs.

Pro you can’t live without: Our incredible pediatrician, Dr. King from Chestnut Pediatrics. His practice is very small, only three doctors. He is always available and spends a long time with us each visit. The kids love him, too.

Indulgence you can’t live without: Chocolate in all its forms. Can’t. Live. Without. It.

Place for baby/children’s gifts: Minnow Lane.

Favorite children’s book right now: Dear Zoo, Good Night Gorilla, and a National Geographic book about space.

Favorite outdoorsy thing to do with kids: Gardening in our patio and berry-picking at Linvilla Orchards.

Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: Don’t be hard on yourself. We all have days when we sit back and feel like horrible parents. No one is perfect, and no matter what, you are perfect to your kids.

Best parenting book you read: Happiest Baby on the Block, Happiest Baby Guide to Sleep and The Baby Whisperer. I found all three of these to help so much with soothing the girls when they were infants, getting them into a routine and sleep-training them.

Favorite parent hack: We purchased a clock that has a bear that’s awake and a bear that sleeps. You can set the clock to light up the bear that’s awake any time you want. We taught our daughter that when the bear is awake, that’s when she can come and get us. It has worked like a charm.

Favorite toy in your house right now: Luna is really into Legos these days, and Alina loves her telescope. We use it up on our rooftop terrace on clear nights.

One thing you wish Philly had that it doesn’t: Good quality public schools. It has been awesome to see parents at the different communities working together to improve their schools, but the schools still need help. Also, free parking, haha. We also need one more Trader Joe’s.

Best part of raising kids here: There is just so much to do for kids here! We love the kid-friendly museums, Fairmount Park, Smith Playground, you name it. There is always something to do, no matter the weather. We also love how exposed kids are to diversity, art and history. We also love that the beach is only one hour away.  

My Kitchen Sink, Myself.

The endless, futile quest for homemaking perfection Read more

dorothy robinson kitchen sink

This post comes courtesy of Wee friend and writer Dorothy Robinson, who is mom to 4-year-old Sam and 1-year-old Kit. You can — and should! — catch more of Dorothy on her (hilarious) blog, The Tankini Files.

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All I wanted from life in my 20s was fame, fortune and gigantic professional success.

In my 30s, all I want from life is a farmhouse sink.

Every time I wash dishes (which is aaaaallllllllll tttthhhheeeeee ttttttiiimmmmeeeee), I sigh and wonder what I did wrong in life to have such an old, non-fancy sink that only holds, like, two mugs and a plate before it’s too crowded to actually wash any dishes.

WHY GOD, WHYYYYY?

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I even feel this way after I bought a fancy dishwasher two years ago with three rows (three! So swag. I know now what the Real Housewives must feel like, sans the daddy issues).

It’s so stupid. I hate it. My sink … and my thinking about my sink. Why must farmhouse sinks enchant me so?

I’ve become so much more of a materialist since I moved to the ‘burbs. Before, in the halcyon days of my city-dwelling youth, I never cared about the depth of my sink because that would have been … weird. But now that I’m 37 with two kids, I really, really care about how deep my sink is.

WHY ISN’T IT DEEPER? WWWWHHHYYYY?

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The amount of shit out there you are supposed to do to your house seems endless to me. And, I must say, I resent how this has taken over my brain and spare time. I hate that my brain is now so concerned with what Our Medicine Cabinet Says About Us  than I do about reading, writing or other, small artistic pursuits I used to take part in.

I’m in a grey area: I’m not bohemian enough to totally not give a fuck but I’m still bougie enough where I care about what my cabinet finishes say to the world.  And right now, I’m worried they scream, “Poor person with bad taste!” When, in reality, I’m a semi-poor person with just okay taste.

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Here’s the thing. I could get a farmhouse sink. We are not destitute. But I find the house decor stuff — and the implementation of said stuff — to be so stressful. I get great anxiety when I think about picking out tiles and paint colors and cabinets and whatever it is I’m supposed to do to have a nice house.

Apparently, due to current thinking on the subject, my house is to be filled with things I love. But what if I just don’t love things?  Like, I’m supposed to love my side table on my bed? Love it?  Really? I didn’t even know I was supposed to think about it.

I guess I don’t feel like I’m being interesting if I spend all my time thinking about what to spend money on. It’s not my talent. Being able to navigate Pinterest, charging my credit card and then hiring a handyman isn’t a skill. It’s me … spending money. That’s supposed to impress the world?

But I guess it does! Because here I am, feeling anxious about it and recognizing I’m not spending enough to keep up with the Joneses and / or make my other friends jealous. I just want them to feel the envy I feel when I gaze upon their farmhouse sink. Is that too much to ask, world?

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This morning, it was dark in my room and we have no recessed lighting because, I guess, we’re actually feral animals who just wear grown-up adult clothing during the day to trick the world into thinking that we’re adults. A while ago, I broached the subject with my husband about getting some lights installed in the ceiling upstairs in the bedrooms and he was like, “Why? We have lamps.”

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Which is TRUE STATEMENT.  Lamps = light. But  today I couldn’t find the one pair of black pants I wanted to wear out of the other 4 pairs of black pants I own and I almost started crying at how terrible my life is because I didn’t spend money on recessed lighting or that  we’re not fancy enough to have bought a home with recessed lights or a house with a farmhouse sink. And then I became sad I was even ruing my big, beautiful, lucky life.

Because, have you seen my children? They really are incredible. Look at them.

sam and kit

They are my farmhouse sink, y’all — except they aren’t, you know, a kitchen appliance you can buy at Ikea or, if you’re feeling especially rich, Rohl (I’ve done my research). They take up all of my money, spare time, and energy. Sometimes I feel so helpless, like I can’t do anything (I wrote an essay here about how hard it was for me to make a cup of coffee, just so you know the baseline of what I’m working with). But I have to do a reality check most days and remind myself the reason why I can’t take on home improvement projects is that I already have two really big projects I’m currently working on — and their names are Sam and Kit. And they are phenomenal. (Like, if Restoration Hardware sold children, they would sell my children. Primo, y’all.)

But once they get older, watch out. I’m coming for you, farmhouse sink. And I’m going to put so many (so many!) dirty dishes in you, you won’t even know what hit you.

 

Dorothy RobinsonAbout our author: When Dorothy Robinson was young and single, she lived in Philadelphia where she was a writer and editor. She is now in Maplewood, NJ, married, and works in global communications. It happens. You can follow her on Twitter @dorothyrobinson or visit her blog, The Tankini Files.

Wee Bits: The Best Baby Shower Gifts, Snowstorm Insanity and a Nation of Paid Maternity Leave

The week’s news, reads and tidbits for Philly parents Read more

news and reads philadelphia wee bits

Via Philly Mag: $1,000 fines for saving parking spaces in the snowstorm! 

The Atlantic explores why everyone buys the same three things before a snowstorm. 

New! Mindful Mamas Yoga is launching a mom-and-kid yoga class (kids 0 to 5 welcome) at the Play Cafe, from March 22 to April 26. $24 a class or $120 for the session. See details here!

What a great piece in Wash Po: “Here’s what not enough people talk about: just as new babies are vulnerable, so are their mothers. And a mother’s mental health is crucial—not just to her, but also to her baby. A depressed and anxious mother isn’t able to provide the nurturing that her baby needs to develop and grow. And if that depression and anxiety is caused or worsened by the breastfeeding experience, breastfeeding isn’t worth it.”

Schmuck. 

Related to that: A thoughtful, scary piece from NPR: I’m pregnant. What would happen if I couldn’t afford health care? 

Hey, somewhat related to that: Moms in India get 26 weeks of paid maternity leave now. 

Maybe I’m just in a mood, but this list of 20 quotes from children’s books that every adult should know made me weep.

Funny, honest little piece from the NYT about a mom’s instinct to “bully back.” 

Great piece from our friend Dorothy at Tankini Files about her remedy to the loneliness of parenting. 

The Cut’s take on the best baby shower gifts is great –– not only have we rec’d many the same things many times, but there’s some new, cool stuff on here that seems awesome.

If y’all haven’t already seen this, it’s a fantastic WSJ follow-up with the BBC dad whose kids crashed his interview. It’s lovely.

Finally: The X-plan idea has been making the rounds on social media, and it’s definitely a good idea worth the read. Via Philly.com.