The mom: Leigh Calarco, mom to Skylar who’s two (“going on 14!”), wears a whole lot of hats: The longtime Philadelphian and Fairmount resident has four (four!) jobs at the moment. A former freelance lifestyle writer, she changed gears when she and her husband (a real estate broker and property management guru) bought a real estate brokerage in town. Their company, MGC Real Estate Group, is a joint effort, and Leigh is Vice-President (“boss lady”), Real Estate Agent (“meaning I search for MY next house all day, every day”), Social Media Coordinator (“‘like’ should be my middle name”); and Executive Assistant to her husband (“basically, I’m his b***ch”). It is, she says, “a lot of work, and a lot of fun … though more sleep would be amazing.”
Where does your little one attend daycare/preschool/school? Sky is starting preschool at Friends Childcare in July (yeah, it’s summer, but we city parents gotta grab those spots when we can get ‘em!) Can’t believe it, don’t want to believe it, but we are also so excited, and have loved the feeling there from the minute we toured! When we told her she would be going to school, she firmly responded: “I ladybug backpack!” It was ordered 5 minutes later.
Favorite kids’ classes: Ah, so many in Fairmount! We really took advantage of all there was to offer from the time she was a wee, wee one. All Around This World Music class is phenomenal, as is the new Baby WordPlay space! The story time/free play at the Fairmount Arts Center (and the Free Library) is a go-to, as is Zoom Dance at Wake Up Yoga. Sky is a non-stop kind of kid, so engaging classes just about every day is our lifeline.
Best way to spend a Saturday: If it’s summer, we will be on the beach in Longport, where my parents have a home, meaning both my family and my sister’s family are living the good life from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the rest of the year, since all of our weeks are non-stop, and my husband barely sees Sky (owning a new business mean long hours but hopefully huge rewards), our weekends are pretty lazy and almost always involve brunch (we are regulars at Figs in Fairmount; the owners are so nice and welcoming and the food is spot-on straightforward); a trip to the infamous and ingenious Tot Lot; and, if we’re lucky, a date night for us!
Parents’ class: I was a regular at the breastfeeding class held weekly at Ali’s Wagon. We nursed, we cried, we laughed, and asked endless questions, but most of all we supported each other during those treacherous early months of not know what in the hell we had all gotten ourselves into. I met two of my closest mommy friends there whose daughters are Sky’s little BFFs…whatever that means for two-year-olds, but it makes us mommies feel good
Date night: Pre-Sky, we frequented Radicchio Café, a BYOB in Old City (they know us, we love them, and the food is straight out of Italy). But, Post-Sky, we require cocktails! Parc, V Street & anywhere with a margarita are musts.
Hidden gem for families in or near the city: It’s by no means hidden, but it sure is convenient having the zoo in walking distance from our house. There’s so much to see and do that we could go there 5 days in a row and every day would be a different experience.
Rainy day go-to: We recently joined the Academy of Natural Sciences, and it’s honestly one of the best memberships out there. We hop on the 32 bus and are there in no time. The third floor play space is perfection, and Sky talks about the butterfly room endlessly.
Favorite app for parents or for kids: Instacart! We would all starve otherwise – it’s changed my life.
Best fast massage, spa treatment or some other treat for you: A fresh haircut and color makes me feel human again.
Kid-friendly restaurant: La Calaca Feliz is THE best. Sky eats a vat of guac and plays in the outdoor patio (they don’t seem to mind – or they act like they don’t) while we suck down margaritas and shovel in tacos. Then we walk home happy, full and ready to pass out.
Favorite cultural activity or event: Eakins Oval in the summer is the bees knees for all Fairmounters! From the beer garden, food trucks, kids’ games, and lounging areas, it’s the perfect place to unwind post work and just hang.
Gear you can’t live without: Massive amounts of coffee, Aquaphor and the beloved sound machine! It’s cheap ($20) and allows us to live like normal humans in our tiny row house while Sky snoozes. She will be using it until she leaves for college.
Person/professional you cannot live without: Our nanny! She has been with us since Sky was 5 months, and we honestly couldn’t have done this whole buy-our-own-business thing without her. She gets me and my neurotic antics, has an incredible amount of patience with our rambunctious little lady, and truly completes us. I beg her every day to move into our fictitious 3rd bedroom, and pray she never leaves us…ever.
Indulgence you can’t live without: Uber! We have one car, and my husband pretends he’s the only one who needs it.
Exercise: Yoga. Walking to my studio two blocks from my house is something I never want to live without.
Place for baby/children’s clothes: Online shopper is my 5th job title. I don’t go to stores, never have for myself, and never will for Sky … yet. Norm, my UPS delivery man (yes, I know his name and vice/versa) makes sure we’re OK if a day goes by when he doesn’t deliver something to us. Back to the clothes…Old Navy and Target for the cheap; Gilt and Crew Cuts for the goods; Mom-mom for everything else.
Favorite children’s book: The Giving Tree was my childhood, and is now becoming hers. Amazing.
Fun kids party spot or party entertainment, or both: My house! We have yet to do a big birthday party for Sky, and aren’t planning on it until she actually asks for one.
Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: EVERYTHING is a phase. Truth.
Best parenting book you read: I honestly didn’t read one. My older sister was my go-to in the beginning, and my husband is as logical and practical as they come. Thank. The. Lord.
Favorite parenting hack: Skylar thinks when she goes to sleep, we do, too! This will change soon, I’m sure, but for now, it’s a stroke of genius.
Favorite toy or kid entertainment in your house right now: Play-doh for indoors; micro-mini scooter for outdoors.
One thing you wish Philly had that it doesn’t: A subway system that, I don’t know, was a city-wide system! Philadelphia has come so far by way of restaurants, parks, cultural centers, etc., a mass transit system that actually takes you everywhere would be a life-changer.
Best part of raising kids in Philly: Being able to walk out my front door and literally have the world at our fingertips is what I love most. If I’m out of coffee, I walk around the corner. I never have to get in a car — my stroller is my car. We can hit up museums, the zoo, the splash pad and an amazing restaurant all in one day – though that would be kinda nuts. But seriously, there’s nothing like raising kids in the city, and going along for the unbelievable ride.