The mom: You might not know Tina Dixon Spence, mom to Jeremy, 22, and Baron, 2.5 — but we bet you know her work. Tina’s the brains and talent behind the awesome Buddha Babe bibs (and blankets, and teething rings) you’ve been seeing around the city for a while now. In fact, she just launched AW16 — her fall collection of fun toddler scarves and maybe the most adorable printed bibs yet, as well as gift sets, swaddles and the cult-fave Buddha Blankies. But running that growing company isn’t the only gig for the No Libs resident: “By day, I am an Executive Assistant. I’ve been an EA for various companies — big and small — for most of my professional career. Basically it entails keeping track of another CEO’s life, which is kinda scary considering I have my own runaway train to keep on track as well! Since I became a business owner, I have really started to appreciate my role at work and desperately need the kind of support that I give to my boss. This assistant needs an assistant!”
Geographical background: I was born in Chestnut Hill, and then in 5th grade we moved to Lafayette Hill, just over the county line. After college and stints in New York and South Africa, I made Philly my home.
Where does your little one attend daycare/preschool/school? It doesn’t get much sweeter: Baron attends the Lassin Early Learning Center, which is operated by Federation Early Learning Services (FELS) — my current employer! Lassin is located next door to headquarters, so I have a commute-mate, which is super convenient unless I want to call out for the day.
Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon as a family: Honestly, we are always so busy. A weekend without commitments usually involves no pants, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on repeat and Play-Doh pizza-baking. Nobody goes anywhere, and it’s amazing.
Date night spot: Ha! I’ve driven by Heritage a lot lately — and it looks like a cool date night spot. But remind me again: What’s a date night?
Hidden Gem for families in the city: Not really hidden, but trick-or-treating on Delancey Street is pretty much everything.
Rainy day go-to: The living room.
Favorite app for parents or for kids: Instacart. Well, it was … until they stopped bringing Wine & Spirits.
Favorite fast massage, spa treatment or some other treat: I live for Mi Cumbia in Rittenhouse Square. The coconut pedicure is beyond belief, and my favorite self-care treat. Maybe I’ll get to go one day this year (le sigh).
Family-friendly restaurant: Currently obsessed with N. 3rd. Not just because it’s only a walk away, but also because they do a great grilled cheese that doesn’t make me feel guilty for giving it to Baron at least twice a month. And the staff loves on our dog Delilah so much she thinks she lives there, under a table in the shade.
Favorite cultural activity or event in Philly: Brazilian Day Festival. Because those are my people.
Gear you can’t live without: Ummmm, a Buddha Bib! Baron doesn’t drool anymore, but is it weird that I carry one in my bag on the off chance that we are out somewhere and I spy a kid who’s in need?
Person/professional you can’t live without: My girlfriends. All three of them.
Indulgence you can’t live without: Nights alone in my studio where I’m not really making anything, but rather blasting Bossa Nova, diffusing a relaxing essential oil blend, and drinking Malbec. That’s my Tina-Time, and I cherish it.
Place for baby/children’s gifts: Well, I must brag that my local stockists have the best of the best! Minnow Lane (Fishtown), Momo’s Tree House (Old City) and Hatch (Online). Happy to say I was a customer first at each of these places, and the relationships I’ve developed with the store owners has been nothing short of magical. I don’t think I’ve shopped for Baron or for gifts anywhere else in over a year!
Favorite children’s book right now: The Day the Crayons Quit. Currently our biggest battle in the playroom is keeping the lids on markers and Play-Doh, so this silly story helps me teach Baron how important it is to respect and take care of the things he loves.
Fun kids party spot or party entertainment: As a summer baby who grew up with a backyard pool, I’d have to say I’m partial to the at-home party. Baron was born in November, however, and we haven’t had a party for him yet. It’s a struggle that my DIY brain has yet to conquer, because I could go overboard in a nanosecond. So much easier to just go away, at least until he starts asking to bring along friends.
Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: “They will do what they want to do, when they want to do it.” Baron was not a fan of tummy time, was slow to crawl and didn’t walk until he almost turned two. I’ve learned to let it go, simply marvel in his self-paced development, and totally ignore those assessment questionnaires, thus saving my sanity and thoroughly enjoying every moment of his precious life!
Favorite toy in your house right now: Those big bags of little dinosaurs, complete with the trees, are providing hours of laughs. And also plenty of panic as we try to keep Delilah (our Boston Terrier) from biting off a T-Rex’s head.
One thing you wish Philly had that it doesn’t: A monorail. Because sometimes I just want to glide over it all to get from point A to point B.
Best part of raising kids in Philly: There is ALWAYS something to do. And it doesn’t matter how much money you have or don’t have, there is always something fun, educational, creative or entertaining to partake in.