The mom: If the name Lejeune sounds familiar, well … it’s probably because it’s my last name. (Hi, this is Christy writing.) Allie Lejeune is my sister-in-law; I asked her to do a One-On-One because she’s also a total badass mom (her kids are Jane, who’s 5, and Ben who’s 3) with a super-active family life, a million good ideas and the type of sense of humor about parenthood and life in general that I aspire to have. She’s a suburbanite, based in Worcester, and well-versed in all the awesome kids’ stuff within a 30-mile radius; she’s also the executive director at Impact Education, where she helps develop educational programs for physicians, pharmacists, nurses and managed care/payer professionals — the goal being to improve patient care across the board.
Did you grow up in Philly? No, I grew up in Madison, NJ (go Dodgers!). I’ve lived in the Philly area since 2005 and I love it here.
Where are your kids in school? Our kids attend a wonderful school in Ambler called Twin Spring Farm. The teachers are incredible and they work hard to create a loving, caring community for our kids and the parents, too. The school offers unique after school programs, like micro-farming and engineering club, and they have a strong focus on community service and the arts. Their summer camp is amazing, with daily swim lessons, Splash Town, arts and crafts, and the sweetest little train that takes the kids around campus.
Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon as a family: Giving up on the laundry and heading to the Forbidden Trail to hike and skip rocks on the creek. Then we’ll go to Merrymead Farm to visit with Franklin the Pig and eat Razzle Dazzle ice cream (black raspberry with crushed oreos, because dreams do come true).
Special find for families that you love: While the kids were taking swim lessons at Goldfish Swim Club in Fort Washington, we found the Harvest Book Company. They have pop-up book sales once or twice a month and you can get very inexpensive vintage children’s books. Also, you don’t want to miss out on the Growing Express Consignment Sale hosted twice a year at Trinity Church in Ambler.
Rainy day go-to: We’ll go to Little Pod in North Whales, which has indoor jungle gyms, bounce houses, and games, or we’ll head to the Ambler YMCA, which has a fun kids’ room and indoor pool. But on most rainy or snowy days, I’ll rearrange the furniture and inflate our bounce house in the dining room.
Holiday tradition: We like to greet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Ambler Train Station before Christmas.
Family-friendly restaurant: Olcé Pizza Grille in Skippack is a BYOB serving delicious artisanal pizzas and salads family-style. The menu changes often, and when the weather is nice you can eat on the patio. It is completely acceptable for the kids to run around on the grass while you actually get to finish your dinner at a normal pace.
Indulgence you can’t live without: Working out with my personal trainer, Me Kang, at the Ambler YMCA. She’s cheaper than therapy and she makes women strong both mentally and physically.
Place for baby/children’s gifts: The Clothing Patch in Spring House has beautiful classic baby gifts and children’s dress clothes. For kids’ birthday parties, I always go to Learning Express in Blue Bell. They have a great variety of educational toys and crafts and most importantly, they wrap for you.
Fun kids’ party spot: We just had a PJ Movie Party at the Ambler Theater. The venue is beautiful and you can bring your own movie.
Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: “Stop worrying about judgment from others. We’re doing the best we can…which is plenty.” –My wise husband. “Sometimes you gotta let loose and rock out with your kids.”—P. Diddy’s Mom in VH1’s Behind the Music.
Favorite parent hack: I recently found Bob Ross, The Joy of Painting, on Netflix. It is the perfect show to calm my kids before bedtime. Watching him paint those “happy trees” is so relaxing.
Favorite kid entertainment in your house right now: Couch cushions, blankets, and chairs to build epic forts.
One thing you wish Philly had that it doesn’t: My parents! They are only two hours away using the 202 Superhighway, but I wish they were down the street.
Best part of raising kids here: The people. As full-time working parents, my husband and I are the first to admit that we can’t raise our kids alone. Our friends, family, coworkers, and sometimes complete strangers have been incredibly supportive during tough times.