South Philly mama Jessica Perkins is not only super creative, but super knowledgeable about the types of toys that kids respond to. She owns Mama May i, an adorable online store filled with her simple, handmade, colorful, wholesome playthings, that magically keep kids enthralled for hours. (I can attest — the rainbow-hued wooden cups and balls recently kept my toddler occupied through a three course restaurant tasting menu.) You’ll see her hanging with her smiley kids — Layla (6), Lillian (3), and Lincoln (1) — at the most fun places around town.
Neighborhood of residence: East Passyunk Crossings
Favorite park: We love Columbus Square because we always run into preschool and neighborhood friends.
Special snack: My little ones love the seaweed snacks fromTrader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Sometimes I get crazy looks from other parents when I ask “would you like seaweed or apple slices?”. They also love getting avocado rolls from Izumi. Our favorite treat, especially in the Summer is Pop’s homemade water ice – particularly the lemon. It’s like fresh squeezed, frozen lemonade (rinds, seeds and all) — so refreshing!
Cold weather or rainy day activity: We have a round-robin of favorite indoor places to explore: The aquarium to see the sharks and hippos; The Academy of Natural Sciences to check out the hissing cockroaches and butterflies; Please Touch Museum when I have enough energy to chase them all around; and the NJ Discovery Museum where they love to play dress up in the theater.
Warm weather activity: We absolutely love spending at Bartram’s Gardens – especially exploring in their monthly programs with the amazing educators. You can find us at FDR park under the “climbing tree” or at the Pippi Exhibit at the Swedish American Museum; at Smith Playground enjoying some time on the huge slide. We LOVE geocaching together as a family – it’s an outdoor scavenger hunt that typically leads to family adventures the children talk about for months.
Kids’ class: Our favorite classes so far have been at Bartram’s Gardens (Little Explorers and Homeschooler Days); The Art Museum Homeschool classes; The Workshops at the Philadelphia Zoo; Open Gym at InMovement; Saturday Art series at UArts, and we just discovered the Little Minnows classes at the Philadelphia Water Works.
Special place near the city: We have a season pass to Sesame Place. It’s a quick ride up the highway and my little ones simply love dancing, playing, and riding with their favorite friends. Having the season pass makes going so easy. Sometimes we will go for just an evening. They love the shows and the parade especially!
Toy store: I love watching my little ones product-testing with the new things I create for my toy company, Mama May i. My six year old has been very interested in learning how to sew. She has come up with several “toys” to gift to friends and family over the years and I love that she gains inspiration and confidence from watching Mama design and create.
Kid-friendly restaurant: The Silver Diner. On Tuesday nights they have kid-themed fun. One evening the girls dressed up as pirates and won a prize. There is fresh, local food and on Tuesdays there are usually balloon artists, free face-painting, and a kid-craft. The kids think it’s such a treat!
Transport of choice: I love my Tula Toddler. I use it for my one-year-old as a front carry and I pouch my 3 year old on my back. It’s a great way to get in some extra cuddle/snuggle time while still being able to move freely around the neighborhood.
Fun kids party spot: My absolute favorite place for a party has been outside at the park. There is a little place by a climbing tree at FDR Park where we celebrated Lillian’s 3rd birthday. It was simple but so much fun to be outside with friends in the sun. We had pinwheels, and played ball, rode bikes, had a piñata, made a few outdoor movement type crafts and had Pop’s lemon water ice instead of a birthday cake. It was perfect!
One thing you wish Philly had that it doesn’t: More kid-friendly, family-friendly restaurants. I haven’t found a place where we can eat grown-up food and feel comfortable while wrangling three little ones.
My favorite part of living in Philly with my wee one is: I love that there is so much to do with my family in the city. I love that when we walk our out front door we are greeted by friends and faces and conversation. I love that when we arrive at the park we are greeted by strangers that become fast playmates over the course of one afternoon. I love that more and more families are choosing to stay here, grow here, and build community here. I love how many learning and cultural activities are available within a few-block radius of our house for our homeschool adventures.
PS: Jessica is offering Wee readers a special discount on her awesome toys. Enter “WEEWANDER” and get $5 off an order of $30 or more (excludes shipping, cannot be combined with any other offer).