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

Wee Bits: A New Nature Preschool, Breastfeeding Insanity, Excellent Baby Carriers, Kidchella and Same-Day Toy Delivery

News, reads, happenings and other stuff Philly parents should know about this week Read more

Hey! Everyone! There’s going to be a new nature preschool at Smith Memorial Playground! 

Up is down and down is up in 2018, and apparently no issue under the sun will remain untouched or stay out of the fray in this insane moment in time. (And the Cut has an interesting take on this.)

Hey, remember a few weeks ago, that Inky story about the kids from Mighty Writers making bookmarks and sending Spanish-language books to the immigrant children held in a detention center in Berks County? Welp, here’s a depressing epilogue!

Speaking of which: The Cut asks how many kids have been returned to their parents at this point … and the answer is (you guessed it): Not Many.

The Strategist weighed in on baby carriers. 

The wonderful Tildie’s Toy Box is hosting its two-year birthday party on Sunday the 15th, you guys: Starting at 11:30 a.m., there’s going to be a fire engine for kids to explore; at 12:30 p.m., there will be a drag queen story time in the Castle Corner, and at 1 p.m., there’ll be a performance with Lori and Jeremy from Music Monkey Jungle. (They’re also giving away custom Tildie’s yo-yos with a $30 purchase AND doing make-and-take crafts!)

Also in toy store news: Did you know that Momo’s is now offering same-day delivery in Center City for $10? AND: If you are sending something to CHOP, delivery is FREE. (What a sweet idea.)

“Our family isn’t what we expected but we’re making it work.” A lovely little piece from the Wash Po.

Camp flash sale alert! Philly Phield House is running a deal: You can register for one of the remaining co-ed summer camps by midnight on Thursday, August 12, and get $25 off any camp! Call for details!

Outdoor movies — still happening! And PFS just released its Movies on the Block lineup!

One last bit on the summer-fun front: There are still two dates left for the Kidchella Music Festival at Smith Memorial Playground: Friday, July 20 and August 17!  Families can show up at 4 p.m. for free play and family fun (music state, art stations, giveaways and such.) The show — an awesome line-up of family-friendly live performers — starts at 6 p.m. Also, there are food trucks on site. (Picnics are also welcome.) Tickets are $10 per person; $5 for members and PA ACCESS cardholders. Read more and buy tix here!

 

Three Great Summer Reads For Moms

A little laugh, a little fluff, a little heartbreak. Perfect! Read more

reads for moms

I’ll be honest — I almost called these beach reads, but let’s be real: There’s no reading on a beach when you have children, only chasing and sunscreen-applying. The more accurate thing to call this list is “three reads you might try to tear through during nap time and for the 10 minutes you can stay awake before bedtime every night.” And I know — three isn’t so many, but if you can complete three books before Labor Day, then by most busy-mom standards, you’re doing quite well, no?  

Choice 1: Amatuer Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swearwords, by Kimberly Harrington
I would like to read this book. (Truthfully? I would like to write this book.) The reason I feel confident suggesting it here having not yet laid hands on it is because various media (like The New Yorker and New York Times) have published a handful of excerpts from the book, and I have loved them. This stuff is funny, y’all — Kimberly Harrington is funny and very smart. (She’s a writer for McSweeney’s, and has also written one of my favorite non-funny gun commentary pieces of all time.) This book is next on my list.

Choice 2: Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton
So this was actually a big (award-winning) hit in 2017, but if you’re like me, you’re roughly 5 years behind the latest big hits at any given point in time. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly, highly recommend it for three reasons. 1) The writing is excellent, and the plot — a tale of an young, unwed Quaker in 1883 who is attempting against every odd to keep her baby — is one of the more compelling (if harrowing!) narratives I’ve read in a good long time. 2) It takes place in Philadelphia (and the author is one of us) — and the story unlocks an entirely new dimension of the city for you. You learn some absolutely fascinating (also, horrifying) things. 3) This will touch your mama-heart like very few books can. At least, that was my experience. I finished this book two weeks ago, and have thought of it every time I hold my own baby. It might sound trite to say it, but I swear it made me appreciate motherhood in a new way. (It also feels quite timely, I should add, given the current events at out border right now.) It’s very much worth the read, although I will say it’s exactly a fluffy summer book. For that I’ll give you …  

Choice 3: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Did you know the author of Devil Wears Prada just published a follow-up? And that it focuses on Emily, Miranda Priestly’s (now former) assistant? Haven’t yet read, but this is a no-brainer in terms of a juicy little diversion, yes? Good Reads gives it 4 outta 5 stars …

 

Gear Up: 9 Things That Will Make the Beach Easier

Guaranteed. Read more

beach essentials for toddlers

Let’s be real: Going to the beach with little kids is never really going to be easy. But, like everything else in life, it can be easier if you have the right tools. Though, honestly, every article I’ve ever read about the subject has offered advice either so vague (“sun gear!”) or so painfully obvious (“swim diapers!”) that I felt compelled to make my own list of the things — things big and small, but very specific things — that have become our beach essentials, our go-tos, our can’t-live-withouts. You know, beyond the swim diapers. Duh. Read more →

Wee Bits: Lego Fun, Fourth of July Plans, the Best Maternity Swimsuits, and Everything You Need for Summer

News, happenings, reads and other good stuff for Philly parents this week Read more

wee bits spring

Visit Philly gives us a katrillion things to do to celebrate the Fourth of July. 

Speaking of: Lego-freaks will be excited to hear that on Thursday, July 5, the Independence Visitor Center is hosting a day-long LEGO mosaic brick building event with Legoland, starting at 10 a.m. Families can help construct four different mosaic designs, including iconic Philadelphia landmarks. (And at 2 p.m., Legoland will unveil its Lego model of the new Comcast tower — made of 49,728 bricks!)

Thomas the Tank Engine is coming to the Garden Railway Morris Arboretum in a couple weekends! (Always a big hit!!)

38 maternity suits you’ll want to wear, promises The Cut.

Meantime, the Strategist offers up the very best (I mean, allegedly) of everything you need for summer. 

I’m sorry to be a drag, y’all, but huh. You don’t say. Imagine that — there’s no easy way to fix the obscene havoc and destruction that has been wrought.  (Again, here are some things that normal folks can do to help the people trapped in this nightmare.) (Meantime, Philly’s own Mighty Writers sent Spanish-language kids’ books to immigrants detained in Berks County, according to Philly.com.)

Speaking of: In the midst of a particularly rough news cycle (speaking of, our hearts are with the latest victims — this time, fellow journalists — of more gun violence yesterday), this Cut story made me glad. Quoth the protesters: “Where are the children?”

Mamas of newborns — the wonderful Little Moon + Arrow boutique in Queen Village is hosting pediatric sleep specialist Maria Lopez of Not A Peep (whom we’ve featured!) for a course on ways to calm a crying baby and promote healthy sleep habits. July 18. Details and tickets here!

Heads up: You can still register for (the quite reasonably priced!) Zoom Dance day camp at Equilibrium on South Broad Street, you guys — and camp sounds awesome. Aimed at 3- to 7-year-olds, the camp includes dance, yoga, music, capoeira, science experiments, messy art projects, constructing sets and costumes, tactile/sensory stations, free play, playground time, library trips, and quiet time. Sounds fun, no? Sessions run July 9 through August 31.

A big ol’ list of free stuff to do with the family from Philly Mag!!