Be Well Family: This Is a Mother’s Brain at Bedtime

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The Scene
10:45 p.m., any given weeknight

The Ritual
1. Washes face, brushes teeth, applies moisturizing face oil and eye cream.
2. Climbs into bed. Thinks to self: I’ll just settle in here with my book club book and wind down for a bit
3. Wait, did I pack Luke’s lunch for tomorrow?
4. Yes.
5. Or is that last night that I’m remembering?
6. No, it was definitely tonight because we had that whole conversation about how I couldn’t get the smell of musty old cheese out of it.
7. Ack, I forgot to order a new lunch bag.
8. Puts Kindle down; reaches for phone.
9. Though I wonder what would happen if I bleached the old lunch bag?

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Be Well Family: I Tried Those Period Undies. Here’s My Review.

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It was possibly the shortest text exchange that my best friend and I have ever had.

Christy: I think you should get a pair of those period underwear and write about it.
Me: Done.

If you are woman of menstruating age, chances are — no strike that — you most definitely are wondering how these magic undies work. The curiosity is unavoidable: Images of period panties — albeit sponsored ones — pop up on my Instagram feed about a billion times a week. I’ve also read countless stories about the young founder of Thinx (the most well-publicized brand in the period panty genre), Miki Agrawal, and her chutzpah, for talking about and tackling something as taboo as periods.

I zipped over to the Thinx website and was instantly confronted with some conundrums to work through. First, there are six styles of underwear, each holding a different amount of fluid. It makes sense that heavier flow times call for larger underwear, while light days can be thongs, but if I’m having a boyshorts kind of day and don’t want VPLs, the underwear might affect what I want to wear that day. And Lordy, getting dressed for work is hard enough.

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Be Well Family: 9 Awesome Drop-In Gyms for Kids in Philly

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This time of year is rough: Everyone is dying to get out and run around after a long, cooped-up winter, but the seasonal rain, mud, wind, a freezing day, even — God forbid — snow can really get in the way. On more than one occasion, the city’s (and suburbs’) indoor kid gyms and active-play centers have saved us: Not only can you find spots geared toward everyone from toddlers on up through teens, but without fail, these places are always good for at least a couple of hours of hardcore energy-burning, nap-inducing activity. And while many local spots offer regular weekly classes, every indoor play place on this list also has time dedicated for drop-in open play … meaning no commitment or pre-registration necessary.

Fusion Tumbling and Fitness, Fishtown
This second-story studio is simple but awesome: A big, sun-drenched, open space with floor mats and tumbling equipment and even a small inflatable bounce house for open-play time. The bread and butter of the place are its classes (tumbling and gymnastics for babies on up through teens), but four days a week, there’s time designated for supervised open play for little ones aged one to five, as well as open gym time for kids aged 6 and up. Members pay $5 for open play time; non-members pay $10, with $5 for siblings. Read more »

23 Free (or Basically Free) Things to Do With The Kids in Philly This Winter

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Who among us isn’t always looking for more ideas of things to do with the kids? Ones that won’t break the bank? Especially at times like this, when it’s incredibly cold out, and the usual things like the playground and walking around the city are exercises in torture? Here, a list of ideas for things to do with your kids any given (snowy, frigid, wintery mix) day that don’t require a) making reservations b) spending a fortune or c) freezing your face off.

Ikea. The mega-store in South Philly boasts a supervised play space for kids who are between 37 and 52 inches tall (and potty-trained) — and it comes with the bonus of letting you get a little uninterrupted “me-time” with the Malm and Fjellse. (Note: the playspace inside the Chick-fil-A, which is located in the same shopping center as Ikea, is also clean and usually not over-crowded.)

Fireman’s Hall. The great little Old City museum housed in a former firehouse has historic tools, uniforms, a bunch of carriages and trucks, and a fun interactive spot for kids upstairs. (Bonus: It’s staffed by current and past firefighters, which is just cool.) Admission is free, though donations are suggested. One tip here: Hours can be erratic, so you might want to call before you go.

Smith Memorial Playground. Kids won’t even miss the potato-sack slide (which is closed for the winter) after they realize they have the run of this three-floor playhouse. You might think the toys could use a little TLC, but your child won’t bat an eye. Make sure to head downstairs, where there are trikes and scooters to ride around a track, and to the art rooms, where staffers lead activities. It’s free, but donations are encouraged. Read more »

Be Well Family: My Christmas Decorating Fail

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My mother has the most beautiful Lenox holiday china – white, ringed with simple holly leaves. We used that china (along with special holiday napkins) in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s virtually every year of my life. That wasn’t all: She also has multiple nativities; stockings my grandmother crocheted; a snowman that sings a holiday medley when you press a button; an advent calendar we’ve had since 1980; plus several poinsettias, wreaths, mini trees for the front porch, candles, table-runners, Nutcrackers, the whole deal. I realize as I catalog it here that it maybe sounds a little over-the-top, a tad vulgar, but believe me when I say that it really isn’t, and it never was: It was magical. It felt special.

Me? I have a $14 light-up wreath from the hardware store down the street (with no batteries installed yet), stockings I bought from Target, and a Christmas tree with all the usual fixings. We had an advent calendar, but I have no idea where it is. We did manage to find and display a Santa and Frosty salt-and-pepper shaker set, which we only own because my mom gave it to us, and an Elf on the Shelf, which we only own because my mother-in-law gave it to us. (Note: Not sure if tools of child behavior manipulation also counts as decoration?) Speaking of my mother-in-law: She is also a decorator of epic proportions. Her house basically transforms into a Dickensian Village every Christmas. She actually has a 100-square-foot holiday closet. No joke. Read more »

10 Awesome Mommy-and-Me Yoga Classes in Philadelphia and the Suburbs

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Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of  Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook

The thing about mommy-and-me yoga is that there’s often a little more to it than just squeezing in a workout. Sometimes you just want to get out of the house with that baby. Sometimes you have a toddler who needs to work out some wiggles. Sometimes exercising with your kid attached to you is the only way you’ll get any exercise at all. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 excellent options for mom-friendly yoga of all sorts, whether you’re looking for a serious sweat session or just a little postnatal support. There’s truly something for everyone (including the moms who want to drop that kid off for an hour).

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Be Well Family: In Praise of My Small Philly House

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Be Well Family is a collaboration with Wee Wander, a site dedicated to helping Philadelphia parents navigate their city. See more in this series here, or keep up with all of  Wee Wander’s tips, guides and Philly related parenting help on Facebook

Like a lot of us probably did, I grew up in a non-rowhome city, where even the small houses tended to be bigger than your average Philly house. Friends who still live in my hometown (friends who spent no more than we did on a home, I might add) have what now seems to me to be insane, glorious amounts of space — like, four bedrooms, a home office, a den, a laundry room. An attic. A playroom. Seemingly innumerable full baths. A powder room the size of my sole upstairs family bathroom. And, oh, my Lord, the closets. So many closets. 

I don’t want to sound like a spoiled jerk, because, well … look, we have a house. So we’re good, we’re lucky. But I can’t help myself from sometimes thinking about all that we could have — space-wise, I mean — if we lived somewhere else, or if we had chosen a different type of life. (I blame every single show I watch on HGTV for this line of thinking.) And then, last weekend, my mother-in-law asked me (rhetorically, I guess?) if we’d ever want to live in her house. Her sprawling suburban family house with more square feet of storage than my house has … well, square feet. I laughed, and said, “What would I do with all this space?” (Answer: Claim a bathroom as my very own; throw away the under-the-bed storage boxes for ever and ever; buy a giant, hulking couch; do some round-off-back-handsprings in the hallways. For starters.) Read more »

Swim Lessons in Philadelphia: 15 (Indoor!) Spots to Get Your Kid in the Water

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Ah, the children’s swim lesson. It’s an adorable rite of passage for babies and toddlers and little ones, and also the perfect cool-weather activity: The kids get some play time, some exercise, some new skills … and you get some adorable photo ops. Here, a helpful round-up of some of the city’s and suburb’s most popular spots for lessons. In many cases, new sessions of group lessons tend to start every 8 to 10 weeks or so; you can call or go online to see when the registration begins.

IN THE CITY
Christian Street Y, Graduate Hospital
The program: The Christian Street YMCA has a comprehensive swim program, and a large, clean and bright indoor pool. There are group lessons for babies and caretakers starting at 6 months, and group lessons (sans parents) for preschoolers ages 3 to 5, and it goes up from there with more serious instruction and participation on the swim team. (Private and semi-private lessons are also available.)  
The sessions: The programs run about seven weeks; classes are 30 minutes long.
Signing up: To take swim lessons, you have to be at least a program member, and then you pay for the classes on top of that membership. There are several other levels of membership you can explore, as well, and more extensive membership plans mean discounts on classes, as well as the perks of fuller membership. You can check out the deal with memberships here. Read more »

Things I Don’t Care About Since Becoming a Parent

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Does motherhood change you? I never really thought so. I’m the same me I’ve always been, only with a permanent plus-one. I mean, sure, I have less “free time” or “me time” (or just … time), and yes, I talk more about poop and preschool tuition these days and less about that story in the New Yorker or whatever, but those are all circumstantial changes related to living with a toddler. They’re not core changes. Read more »

8 Places for Hiking in Philadelphia with Kids

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The playground is fun and all, but going for long walks — in nature — is something that benefits everyone in the family. Babies can nap, kids can get some old-fashioned outdoor time, parents can get in some exercise. And ya know what? You don’t have to be a “hiker” or know how to cook beans over a campfire to enjoy the local trails. (You can even wear your skinny jeans if you want.) Here are eight great spots close to Philly that are worthy of the trip.

In Philadelphia
What: The Schuylkill Center in Roxborough is the largest privately owned tract of land in Philadelphia, and its entire raison d’etre is to connect people with nature. There are 340 acres of trees, streams, and fields, and three miles of totally doable hiking trails.
Why it’s great for kids: There’s an actual “center” here, which has a strong, kid-focused educational mission. That means a nature preschool, summer camps and solid weekend programming, including exhibits, hikes and activities. The trails will loop you through wooden bridges, ponds, and play areas. Picnics are allowed. Read more »

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