Wee Bits: Exquisite Libraries, Flu Shots While Pregnant, The Magic of Big Bird, Halloween Nature Hikes, and Peak Leaf-Peeping

Reads, news, happenings and other tidbits for Philly parents this week Read more

wee bits

Love these lists of kids’ gift ideas from The Strategist. This edition? Great gifts for 5-year-olds.

“I need cheese for my egg” is my new work mantra. (Via The Cut.)

Parents.com gives us everything we need to know about getting the flu shot while pregnant.

This NYT story about Caroll Spinney — the man who has always played Big Bird on Sesame Street, and who is finally retiring — made me cry. It is very lovely.

Thanks Philly Voice, for telling us how to make a Gritty costume.

Speaking of Halloween: This Saturday (October 27) from 10 a.m. to noon, you can take the kids — in costume of course — for a fun stroll on Forbidden Drive. You can expect an easy, 1.5-mile guided hike (courtesy the Friends of Wissahickon), and also a chance to register in a drawing to win a kid’s party in your home, complete with a clown, balloon twisting and face-painting. The hike begins at the Cedars House Cafe below Northwestern Avenue, and registration is recommended. PS. Wear appropriate shoes! For more information contact Cesali Renn at renn@fow.org.

The Atlantic‘s photo tribute to exquisite libraries is really something spectacular.

Huh. Peppermint bark Oreos actually sound amazing. I’m in. (People.com.)

And now for something completely different: When was the last time you read beautiful poetry? You might appreciate this one. (I did!)

Rhythm Baby fans — from 10/29 until 11/3, every single class Julie teaches will include the annual Halloween costume contest. The most creative baby costume (ages 4 months to 3 years) wins 10 FREE music classes! (Winner will be announced the weekend after Halloween!)

Hey guys, were you aware that “peak fall foliage” in the greater Philadelphia region is likely going to be in the third week of October through the end of the month, with some species into early November? Me neither! But that’s what the director of horticulture at Morris Arboretum says, and that makes me want to plan a trip there.

And finally — a deal for great music classes in and around Philly. We Kids Rock is open for winter registration now, and there’s a discount!

So. Much. Halloween.

Grab those kids and prepare for sugar overload. Read more

halloween stuff philadelphia

Hey guys, you looking to really get your money’s worth (or, for you homemade folks, your time’s worth) out of those kids’ costumes? Well, you’re in luck — there is SO MUCH TO DO in coming weekends to celebrate Halloween with the children. I included some of these happenings in last week’s news round-up, but given how much is happening — and how many things we keep hearing about — we figured it bore repeating in post this week. Here, a snapshot of options for y’all:

WhatThe 7th annual East Passyunk Fall Fest and Spooky Saturday
When: October 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Details: You can expect the usual festive fun: child (and dog!) costume contest, live music, pumpkin painting, treat bags for the first 400 kids, food and drink, a craft fair, trick-or-treating along the street, and more.

What: South Street Headhouse District’s PumpkinFest and South Street trick-or-treating
When: October 27, from noon to 5:00 p.m.
The Details: The event is held inside the Headhouse Shambles and includes neighborhood trick-or-treating, performances from Philly School of Circus Arts, costume contests, a magician, pumpkin decorating, hay-wagon rides, pumpkin-pie eating contests, straw mazes … you get the general idea.

WhatRittenhouse Row Halloween celebration
When
: October 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Details: Kids (and grownups) can come in costume for trick-or-treating at Rittenhouse Row stores, restaurants, hotels and more. (At Capital One, between noon and 3, there will be stories read on the hour in the back of the cafe, and afterwards, kids decorate a pumpkin-frame magnet to take home.) You can check the website the day before to see participating stores, or look for the cats in the windows of participating businesses.

What: The annual SWCC 5K (Southwest Center City 5K Run)
When: October 27, at 8 a.m.
The Details: This (Halloween-themed!) series of runs raises money for both Stanton and Chester Arthur elementary schools. This year’s 10th annual race happens on, yes, October 27, beginning at 8 a.m., at Stanton Elementary. There’s the 5k, and also two kids’ fun runs — the Monster Mile (a 1.5-miler for kids aged 6 to 14, starting at 8 a.m.) and the Spooky Sprint (a 100-yard dash for kids under 6, which kicks off at 8:45 a.m.). There’s also a “fan zone” with games, trick-or-treating, and the Schmear It bagel truck. Sounds fun, no? Sign up here!

What: The Schuylkill Center’s annual Halloween hikes and hayrides festival
When: October 26, from 6 to 10 p.m.
The Details: Hike through a candlelit forest to meet nocturnal animals (eeek!), then enjoy hayrides, crafts, food trucks, s’mores and more. $5 online pre-registry for members only; $10 tickets at the door for the general public.

What: Smith Memorial Playground’s Healthy Halloween 
When: Saturday, October 27, 10 a.m. to noon.
The Details: The annual event invites families to come in costume to enjoy the petting zoo, nature play, arts and crafts, live music, healthy snacks and more. Admission is $10 per kid, though members and Access card holders get in free. You can get tix here.

WhatFranklin Square’s Pumpkin Decorating Saturday and Trick-or-Treat Trail 
When: Saturday, October 20, noon to 2 p.m. and Saturday, October 27, noon to 3 p.m., respectively
The Details: Kids can decorate their own pumpkin this Saturday and spend next Saturday customizing their own Halloween treat bag, then following the trail map to find “tasty surprises” throughout the park. Both FREE events are recommended for kids 10 and under. (You can also tack on a trip on the Lightning Bolt Express train for a few bucks, or play a round of spooky mini-golf if you’re there from 6 p.m. on.)

What: Boo at the Zoo 
When: This weekend and the following weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Details: Kids are welcome to wear costumes for the zoo’s trick-or-treat safari (there’s a map and everything!), and enjoy a trip through the not-so-scary extinction graveyard focusing on animals that have gone extinct or are in danger of doing so). There’s also a hay bale maze and a photo opp in front of the giant pumpkin wall — and members are welcome to arrive an hour early (8:30 a.m.) to enjoy the less-crowded zoo.

What: Witches & Wizards Weekend (the festival formerly known as — sigh — the Harry Potter Festival)
When:
The event begins on October 19, but the family-friendly stuff is really on October 20, noon to 5 p.m.
The Details: In Chestnut Hill — specifically, Chestnut Hill College, Woodmere Art Museum, and designated locations surrounding Germantown Avenue — families can watch a Quidditch Tournament, do the straw maze at Woodmere Art Museum, do crafts for kids at the Hocus Pocus Headquarters, see live circus performers and Mad Science demonstrations, or take a hayrides … to name a few options. It’s free to attend, with pre-registration here, and tickets are sold on-site for fun, kid-centric paid activities at the Hocus Pocus Headquarters.

What: The Annual Fairmount Halloween Festival and Parade 
When: Sunday, October 28, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The Details: Kids come in costume for a parade, art-making, music and general merriment.

What: Seaport Spooktacular 
When: Saturday, October 27, 1 to 6 p.m.
The Details: Kids can trick-or-treat on the decks of Cruiser Olympia, or decorate pumpkins and glowing charm bracelets or a pumpkin scrimshaw, or visit the mad scientists’ lab to dig up “some ghoulish surprises.” There are also ghost stories on Schooner Diligence, a face painter, cider and more. (Costumes encouraged.) You can get tickets here.

 

 

Spotlight: The Discovery Center

A gorgeous addition to the roster of family-friendly outdoor adventures in this city Read more

One of the things I appreciate most about this city is how easy it is to not just access nature, but to be so surrounded by it that the city feels miles and miles (instead of just blocks) away. (See: the Wissahickon, Bartram’s Garden, the Heinz Wildlife Refuge, the majority of Fairmount Park ….)

The latest of these natural escapes in the city is The Discovery Center, a partnership between the new Philadelphia Outward Bound School and National Audubon Society (Pennsylvania chapter). The future site of the Outward Bound school welcomes visitors to its grounds, which are part of Fairmount Park, and which border the beautiful Strawberry Mansion Reservoir. It’s birder’s paradise, where 200 species flutter and enjoy the lush woods and (seemingly) untouched ecosystem. The location is basically just across the street from Smith Playground, where we’ve all been a million times — though I never realized there was a) a body of water and b) such peace to be found here.

If you visit, you’ll see that inside the gorgeous, spare building that is the official Discovery Center — which just opened a couple weekends ago — there are floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the reservoir, as well as maps, a coloring station, bathrooms and, soon, an indoor rock wall. The center also loans out small, lightweight binoculars for you to take on your walk. The path runs along the perimeter of the Reservoir, and it’s perfect for taking in the views, appreciating the nature (and the zip-line, which looks like it’s going to be pretty rad — it will be open at select times to the public), and spotting birds and owls. The path itself is relatively flat (though not so smooth that you’ll want to bring a stroller, I don’t think) — it’s wide and well-kept and makes for a wonderfully accessible nature hike for little walkers. (The trail goes halfway around the reservoir — from the center to the end of the trail and back is a total of about 1.5 miles.) The center is also building a water walk out onto the reservoir (ETA 2019), but even while we await a chance to enjoy the climbing wall and zip-line and water walk, the place is still very much worth the visit: It’s just a little slice of wild in the middle of our city.

Through October 31, you can visit Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; come November, it’s Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is FREE (though they accept donations), and they do offer programming to be on the lookout for — gardening courses, for example, plus bird walks and plant walks.

Wee Bits: So Much Halloween Hoopla, The Pain of Seasonal Clothing, Raising Boys Who Respect Women, And A New Delaware Waterfront Destination

News, happenings (including SO MUCH Halloween stuff), reads and other tidbits for Philly parents this week Read more

pumpkins wee bits

Nice Slate piece about raising boys who respect women (and act according to that respect).  I don’t know a single mother right now — moms of boys, girls, whatever — who isn’t thinking about this.

The New York Times reminds us that this wretched situation is not over, not hardly. 

I know we all saw this story about how the planet is a second away from obliteration (sorry, I’m a party in a bag today, right?), but I appreciated in this BBC story, at least, a few tips of what we can do NOW while we wait for more people in charge of running the world to grow brains (or, more likely, until we elect different people in charge of running the world). Anyway: Meatless Mondays and vegan cheese and air-dried laundry, here we come.

Okay, for something that doesn’t make you want to go lie in a darkened room for a time: This funny piece from Dorothy at Tankini Files is ALL OF OUR LIVES. (At least, all of the lives of us people who have small closets.) I am surrounded by clothing tubs as I type this.

I’ve only seen snippets of this Kiera Knightly essay about motherhood that she wrote as one of the many essayists in Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), but the snippets I’ve seen are great.  (Via Refinery.)

There’s a new space to hang on the Delaware Waterfront, y’all, and it sounds wonderful. Welcome (back), Cherry Street Pier, which opens today!

The Philly Tweens website we mentioned last week — a new, much-needed site for parents of kids aged 8 to 14 — is officially live!

It’s that time of year again, everyone: A TON of Halloween stuff to know about. So here goes:
— South Philly peeps: The 7th annual East Passyunk Fall Fest (and Spooky Saturday) is happening October 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — you can expect the usual festivity: child (and dog!) costume contest, live music, pumpkin painting, treat bags for the first 400 kids, street food and drink, a craft fair, trick-or-treating along the street, and more.
— Meantime, the same day is also the South Street Headhouse District’s PumpkinFest and South Street trick-or-treating, from noon to 5:00 p.m. It centers around the Headhouse Shambles, and includes neighborhood trick-or-treating, performances from Philly School of Circus Arts, costume contests, a magician, pumpkin decorating, hay-wagon rides, pumpkin-pie eating contests (gag), straw mazes and more!
— That day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is ALSO the Rittenhouse Row Halloween celebration — kids (and grownups) can come in costume for trick-or-treating at Rittenhouse Row stores, restaurants, hotels and more. (At Capital One, between noon and 3, there will be stories read on the hour in the back of the cafe, and afterwards, kids decorate a pumpkin-frame magnet to take home.) You can check the website the day before to see participating stores, or look for the cats in the windows of participating businesses.
— The annual, family-friendly SWCC 5K is a (Halloween-themed!) little series of runs that raises money for a couple of our public schools — Stanton and Chester Arthur. This year’s 10th annual race happens on, yes, October 27, at 8 a.m., at Stanton Elementary. There’s a 5k, but also two kids’ fun runs, the Monster Mile (a 1.5-miler for kids aged 6 to 14, starting at 8 a.m.) and the Spooky Sprint (a 100-yard dash for kids under 6, which kicks off at 8:45 a.m.). There’s also a “fan zone” with games, trick-or-treating, and the Schmear It bagel truck. Sounds fun, no?  Sign up here!
–And finally: On October 26 and 27, from 6 to 10 p.m., the Schuylkill Center is hosting their annual Halloween hikes and hayrides festival, which includes a hike through a candlelit forest to meet nocturnal animals. (Eeek!) Afterwards, there’s hayrides, crafts, food trucks, s’mores and more. $5 online pre-registry for members only; $10 tickets at the door for the general public.

Fun news — Historic Philadelphia just announced that the Franklin Square fountain will be getting a renovation, and a new fountain show including music, lights and dancing water. ETA: This summer.

And for this weekend: Please Touch Museum is hosting its OutFest Family Festival this Saturday, October 13, celebrating LGBTQ families, allies and the “many ways families come together.” There’ll be drag queen story time! (Among other things.)

Heads Up: It’s Now Officially The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Fall (a.k.a. Pumpkin Season) at Trader Joe’s, y’all Read more

trader joe's fall

Well, you know what time of year it is, friends — and this means it’s pumpkin season at Trader Joe’s, and time for our annual love letter to all the seasonal bounty that place offers right now. (My husband remarked to the checker that the percentage of pumpkin crap seems to be doubling each year — the checker basically affirmed the suspicion.) This year, in addition to the traditional favescider, Pumpkin O’s, Toscano cheese with cinnamon (the best — the BEST — of all TJ’s cheese, IMO), pumpkin waffles (which we buy in bulk and freeze to eat all winter), zucchette pasta in the shape of tiny pumpkins — this year, we’re also gorging on “fall harvest” salsa (gently spicy and a smidge sweet), pumpkin pancake mix, Halloween Joe Joe’s (like Oreos with orange icing, which is way better than it sounds),  petite pumpkin spice cookies (they’re iced; they’re amazing).

 

Wee Bits: Babies in the U.N., Hilarious Philadelphians, Fall Fun This Weekend and The Best Maternity Belly Bands

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

wee bits

Ah, first baby in the U.N.! 

Cool: Philly’s school board now has two members who are actually students. (Via Philly.com.)

I thought this Times story about Chinese parents accompanying their kids to college and camping out (literally!) for a month while the kids settled in is equal parts concerning, intriguing and … well, sweet?!

Feel like you’re yelling too much lately? (Or always?) There’s still room in parenting coach Brandi Davis’s $10 webinar entitled, aptly, Stop Yelling This Week. 

This Palumbo business is beyond — beyond — disheartening.  Via the Notebook.

Hahahahahahaaaaaaaaa. Sometimes I love the people of this city.

The best maternity belts and bands, according to experts, according to The Strategist.

This story about truth (“Stop Lying”) from The Cut came out at a moment when I have been feeling a more desperate urge than usual to instill a respect for honesty and honor in my children. (I suspect I’m not the only one.) Quoth the author: “Dishonesty is toxic.”

Feeling fall-y this weekend? It’s Fall Family Weekend at Morris Arboretum (October 6 and 7), from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’ll be scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, apple sampling and more. 

Guys! Promising new website alert — Phillytweens.com, coming soon. Aimed at parents of kids from 8 to 14, which is great, because I don’t think there’s a lot out there in that realm right now!

Time for the yearly reminder about the teal pumpkin project for kids with food allergies!

Eleven local schools — including Meredith and Greenfield — are officially National Blue Ribbon schools. Via Philly.com.

The PMA has some good fall family stuff coming up, y’all: Expanded hours, more family-friendly programming, art-making, and a few events on the horizon you should know about, including the Art Protection Squad event this Sunday, October 7. From 10 a.m.. to 3 p.m., kids can earn “squad” badges as they travel around the Museum. (“Heroes from our Conservation department will share how they use science to keep art safe.”) Admission is pay-what-you-wish. Then, on October 24, there’s trick-or-treating from 5 to 7:30 p.m., and (again!) pay-what-you-wish. There will be art-making, a professional pumpkin carver dubbed “the Pumpkin Genie” there displaying her artistry, and, of course, some goodies for the kids.

Don’t know about y’all, but this piece from the New Yorker about migrant kids still in tent camps inspired me to resume my daily calls to my senators.

From Philly Mag: Just for fun —  here’s a funny little story about a planeful of Eagles fans on their way to Nashville to see the game on Sunday. (Spoiler: They drank all the liquor on board.)

More fall fun, guys: This weekend, there’s a bunch of fun stuff at Smith Memorial Playground (free mini-plays from Philly Young Playwrights; architecture fun from Design Philadelphia; the cardboard challenge from Fab Youth Philly) … and you should also keep in mind the healthy Halloween celebration on October 27 ($10 per kid, or free with Access cards), complete with music, nature, a petting zoo, art projects and more.

Wow, this Star Wars baby furniture is amazing.  From Parents.com.

And last but not least: ZoomDance is here for your vacation camp needs on election day (November 6) and Veteran’s Day (November 12). Betcha forgot those were both school’s-out holidays, eh?