Philly Moms Speak: 19 Super Helpful Books for Parents

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You know how people say parenting is lonely? It is. And while books can’t give you a hug, they can be a reassuring voice, validate that inclination you have, solve problems and make you laugh through the trench warfare that is parenting. There are tons of great (and not-so-great) tomes out there, but this set in particular was recommended by a group of trusted Philly parents. Read up.

When you are expecting …
On Becoming Babywise. I swear by this book and recommend it to anyone who asks about sleep stuff or is just generally clueless about schedules. It’s small, which I love, because some baby books are just as long (and just as left open to interpretation) as the Bible is.

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. Like Babywise, this book breaks down a schedule into very clear, step-by-step instructions. Admittedly, these methods aren’t for everyone — some people find them too rigid and/or are horrified by the idea of sleep training — but if you are into very specific, very clear directives, you’ll dig this one too.

The Baby Name WizardNot just helpful in terms of providing thousands of ideas, but the background info and name analysis is surprisingly fascinating — like a little anthropological dive into why certain names evoke certain feelings, and why certain names get so popular.

For once the second one comes along …
Siblings Without Rivalry. Tips and tools to ease the transition and deal with sharing and disagreements as kids age.

Read more »

Be Well Family: Best Classes for Yoga With Kids in Philadelphia

Philly has a wealth of stellar yoga studios, but this batch is known for being kid and family-friendly, so you don’t have stress about a dirty diaper or temper tantrum ruining anyone’s zen. Most offer pre-registration and drop-in options, but you’ll want to check the site or call first to be sure. And it might make sense to sign up for their newsletters; many offer kid/parent/baby workshops throughout the year, too.

When you want to drop in, try … Yoga Habit (Fairmount)
Yoga Habit offers all the usual slew of yoga classes, but has an environment that really keeps things easy. To boot: their Little Warriors class, which is for walkers to age 4, and parents/caretakers can participate or not. There is music, movement and storytelling, plus yoga basics. Basically, it’s easy and chill. You can pre-register or drop in. Read more »

5 Classic Eats from Philly Bakeries That Every Philadelphian Must Try At Least Once

A tray of Italian Cookies | Illustration by Chantal Bennett

1. Italian Cookies

Everyone has a favorite (ricotta for us), but it’s not about individual cookies; it’s about showing up with the giant plate of all the cookies. The bakeries of South Philly always have dozens to choose from, but come holiday time, get there early or leave with a sad face. Try them at: Isgro Pastries, Varallo Brothers Bakery and Termini Bros. Bakery in South Philly; Swiss Haus Bakery (not technically Italian, but scores of cookies are available daily) in Center City and Old City.  Read more »

Be Well Family: A Quick Stove-Top Mac and Cheese Recipe That’s Perfect for Kids

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I’m not an alarmist, but this New York Times article about how chemicals are in boxed macaroni and cheese freaked me the eff out. It doesn’t have anything to do with the product itself, it’s the way the food is packaged, and that process causes harmful (hormone disrupting) chemicals to seep into the food. And because of all of that, buying organic or all-natural or the Cristal of mac and cheese won’t matter — the chemicals were found in all of it.

This was a huge blow, as boxed mac is a weeknight staple in our house. Or, shall I say, was a staple. So, I rushed to find a recipe that was as instant as it could be. I wound up tweaking and combining a few, and think the final result is pretty good. It only takes about 15 minutes, doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, measuring or hard prep, and the kids liked it. My only criticism is that it loses creaminess when it’s reheated, so I usually just toss in a splash of milk and a little more cheese before I nuke it. And to jazz it up a bit, I crush potato chips on top, an idea I snagged from Mac Mart on 18th Street. Note: This makes a pretty big batch, enough for family dinner or plenty to reheat throughout the week. Feel free to half it.  Read more »

Billy Joel at Citizens Bank Park: Five Takeaways

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On Saturday night, Billy Joel came to Philly and sold out Citizens Bank Park — again. Mayor Kenney even declared September 9th as “Billy Joel Day” in Philadelphia, seeing as he’s the first artist to play at, and sell out, the stadium four years in a row. The weather was perfect and Joel pounded on the keys for about two and a half hours, with no opener and no breaks (save for the encore). If you are a Joel fan — I know not everyone is — you probably found the show to be memorable. Here, five takeaways: Read more »

Mommy Makeovers: The Plastic Surgery Trend Philly Moms Are (Reluctantly) Obsessed With

Photography by Colin Lenton

After a decade of marriage, I assumed that having a man who isn’t my husband stare at my boobs would be more titillating.

But this situation is all business — just one of many consultations the plastic surgeon has booked this week in his Washington Square office. In my mind, there was going to be some touching. I thought maybe the doctor would push them back up to where they used to be — could be again! — while I small-clapped in delight. I knew he wouldn’t circle fat spots with a black Sharpie — that was way too Hollywood — but I thought there would at least be some kind of computer model, like on HGTV, where an animation pops up to show you how an ugly-ass den is going to be transformed into the great room of everyone’s dreams. I was hoping to have something tangible that I could get excited about. A takeaway of sorts, so I could go back and show my husband and say, Look! Look at all that I could be! And so I could start a tankini bonfire and get some triangle tops Amazon Prime-ed over.

There is none of that. Read more »

Be Well Family: Four Easy and Healthy Smoothie Recipes for Kids

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There was a time when my firstborn’s favorite food was curry chicken salad. But then, a familiar story: The older she got, the less she ate. Less quality, quantity and variety. My biggest concern is that she’s not getting enough protein. (She recently declared herself a vegetarian, at age five.) As the first day of school began to approach, I started to wonder how I could get healthier (aka protein-packed, belly-filling) breakfasts in her, so she can make it through the long school day.

My answer: smoothies.

I know, I know, I’m late to this game. (You’ve been making smoothies for your kids for years, I’m sure.) But I’m here now, and I’m psyched about this new morning routine. I started by getting a new blender. After polling some friends (and ruling out the crazy expensive Vitamix), I got this NutriBullet from Amazon. It’s 80 bucks, is a cinch to use and clean and isn’t too imposing on my kitchen counter. I’m pretty obsessed. (Thanks, friends!)

Then, I did a séance to bring back the chef that died in me after I had kids and got buzzing. Below are four recipes that my daughter, in her best Chopped Junior judge impersonation, has approved. They are somewhat healthy (veggies, fruit, yogurt and I sprinkle in a little protein powder that I call “unicorn dust”) and sweet enough for her to like.

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Best of Philly 2017: Acupuncture Is the New Botox

Philadelphia magazine’s brand new Best of Philly issue has arrived, both online and on newsstands. In the issue, you’ll find the best in everything from fitness studios to brow grooming to brewpubs. Below, a little taste of this year’s issue.

It’s funny, I thought to myself as I drifted peacefully into that weird stage just before sleep, that having a dozen needles stuck in your face can actually be relaxing. I was lying on a table, a heat lamp warming my toes, in a sage-walled treatment room of the Healing Arts Center in Old City while founder Steven Mavros moved quietly around me. On the center’s website is a long list of reasons why people do acupuncture — weighty concerns like infertility (for which Steve has cultivated a loyal following), MS and migraines. Which is why I appreciated the decidedly un-hippie vibe of both the office and the man. I was here for wrinkles.

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Be Well Family: The Ultimate Guide to Spraygrounds in Philly

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It’s that time of year, y’all: Long, hot summer days, and kids who are dying to be outside for every single moment of them. It’s why Wee Wander’s annual list of spraygrounds is so popular and why we’ve updated it for 2017.

But first: The official, city-listed hours for most city-run spraygrounds are generally 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends, “with varying schedules” — with definite emphasis on the “varying schedules” part. Hours of operation have been known to be sporadic and do vary. So here, where we could, we’ve provided the latest known hours, though some sprinklers are run simply by community volunteers and don’t necessarily have set schedules. (In short? A quick call to the park or park rec center before you go might keep things from getting tantrum-y.) Also, it’s very helpful to follow your local park or parks on Facebook: Information tends to be updated pretty regularly there.

Anyway. Without further ado …

If you’re near: Art Museum
Check out:
Sister Cities, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The water: There’s a reason people are obsessed with this place: In addition to the active, cooling water jets that are embedded in the bluestone plaza, there’s also magical, shaded little wading/boat pond, and water trail where kids can splash and play, as well as float boats and other toys that you borrow from the park or bring from home. Also: The Logan Square Cafe on-site sells ice cream, snacks, pizza, salads, sandwiches and more … plus, there’s a Rita’s stand some days on the plaza.
The hours: The pond is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; the jets generally tend to run at the same hours. All is weather-permitting.

Read more »

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