A long holiday weekend started with a major, MAJOR, M-A-J-O-R spring clean. By the early afternoon, the house sparkled and smelled of fresh lemon and pine. There must be something terribly wrong with me because I love to clean, do dishes, and fold laundry, too. I love a clean house even more. Showered and dolled up by 4 PM on Friday, I was ready and excited to meet up with friends. We visited the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for their open house where a friend of ours is a resident artist. We also saw a copper pour which was spectacular and reminded me that art can be physically demanding in addition to requiring incredible creativity.
The girls were back on Saturday and we resumed our family-oriented weekend visiting Smith Memorial Playground on a beautiful warm winter’s day. It is nice to see that Eliza is finally catching up to Sophia in her playground skills and our role as parents is less and less physically involved. The girls initially wanted to go to the zoo but our family was not the only with such aspirations and traffic was awful getting there which meant that the zoo grounds would be crowded. Everyone was very happy with the playground and a whole lot of fresh air.
Eliza and Sophia visited Baba and Deda where Sophia learned how to make varenyky (pierogies) and they both caught up with their cousin. This picture above is timeless and transcends many generations in my family; I have memories of the very same braids, wearing an apron with a little rolling pin in hand, ready to make something in the kitchen. And before me, my sister, and before her, my mom, and her mom before that. These three — there are no words only knowledge that this bond is solid and made for life.
Valentine’s Day is just about the only highlight of February and a subpar one at that. You won’t now be surprised to hear that Evan and I don’t celebrate the holiday. Don’t get me wrong — we used to but ceased probably the year after Evan made me a scrumptious late evening meal of bone marrow with parsley salad. Nothing screams poetic love like a giant beef bone charred to perfection and split half way to expose marrow.
Cheesy as it may be, Valentine’s Day is just the opportunity to break up the monotony of cold winter days. The Fleisher Art Memorial‘s Print Love-In provided just the respite from a weekend of Legos, arts and crafts, and more of the same old.
The girls, Evan, and I spent the most glorious 1.5 hours we had in quite some time learning and making. Screen printing, lithography, and many other printmaking methods made available for practice by novices young and old. Not only were the premises impressive but also the artists who served as most patient and willing teachers.
Watchin so many little hands reaching across the print screens excited to see how the picture turns out may have shaken the Valentine’s cynic out of me. And, Evan and I were pleased to observe Eliza and Sophia as most enthusiastic budding artists.
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I once told Sophia that I would take her to Italy if she learns to eat pasta with all sorts of different sauces. Italy, after all, is one of the few places in the world where you could eat pasta at both lunch and dinner and chase your meal with gelato without too much guilt. Traveling isn’t just about eating though and museums provide a welcome respite from the heat, crowds, and the occasional gluttony. Visiting museums especially ones with the opposite mission from the Please Touch Museum (which believes immersion through interaction is important) is an acquired skill for children. Evan and I are keen on ensuring that Eliza and Sophia acquire said skill here in Philadelphia and at an early age, too.
For those not in the know, the first Sunday of every month is a “Pay What You Wish” at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. We took the girls just as it opened to visit the beautiful collections of which the Japanese Tea House and the transported Abbey proved among their favorites. Sophia’s absolute favorite work was Degas’ “The Little Dancer…” sculpture which she spent quite a bit of time taking in.
The beautiful day at the art museum capped off a fun-filled weekend which started with amazing fun with Grammie and Pop and all-the-awesome-and-new-to-them-toys-Grammie-always-has.
Today, as it turns out, is just over a year since we moved into our home. We lived in the city before moving to our home for fifteen months having rented a block away from where we currently are in Old City. This neighborhood, however, has been home to us before—before we had kids and moved away to pursue careers in the D.C., area.
The time seems apropos to evaluate what is great and what not so great about our home, the neighborhood, and the city. The commuting logistics: we live in Old City which is also where I work on N3RD street. Evan telecommutes 3-4 days a week from home. Sophia’s school and Eliza’s extra curricular classes are a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute drive from our house. We’re big supporters of public transportation; A bus that goes directly to school is a few minute walk from our place, too.
The living logistics: our dry cleaners is a 30 second walk as are no fewer than 3 coffee shops. There’s an amazing toy store a minute away and Sophia takes classes at a great studio located 5 minutes on foot from our home. Eating out is a pleasure what with having these amazing gems nearby and we remember our engagement party every time we walk by this one. Our whole family is really into the arts so having the Arden and all the galleries nearby is also a huge treat. My favorites are the Clay Studio and The Center for Art in Wood. Come summer time, we are a two blocks away from the Franklin Fountain, three blocks from what was rated the best ice cream in the world, and a mere 10 minute walk to Franklin Square complete with a carousel and a mini-golf course.
The outdoors logistics: Philadelphia is very historic and the city has designated a lot of sites and parks as public spaces. Independence Mall is just around the corner from us and Washington Square Park is a ten-fifteen minute stroll.
And so while we have a car and a garage to house it, we don’t strictly need said vehicle. There is something to be said for walking to work and one’s commute being a mere 10 minutes. However, that something is much, much, darker when its raining, snowing, or is super windy outside. I also don’t love trash days because trash days in the city mean trash piled out on the sidewalk. I wish we had more living space but I also know that more space would mean more stuff and we don’t really need any more stuff. I am certain our girls are quite confused about what one does with a back yard seeing as how they have two small decks but no back yard of their own. They are, however, very good at navigating and know their own neighborhood very well. Sophia and Eliza are comfortable taking public transportation and aren’t overwhelmed by the freneticism of a big city. Lastly and most importantly Old City has become not just a neighborhood, but our neighborhood.
So the answer to “Are we glad we stayed in the city?” is a resounding yes. Until next time, a few years from now when we take another stock of life in the city.
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The dull drums of winter really are here. That inevitable slowdown we all feel after the humdrum of the holidays and after realizing that spring, any sign of it anyway, is still months away. Being in the city helps since we can walk to quite a few places and an outing for an activity or change of scenery doesn’t have to be a big event. We took the little ladies to the theater on Sunday to see A Year with Frog and Toad. I thought it to be simply spectacular. There was something for both kids and adults to enjoy and seeing Eliza take in her very first theatrical performance was amazing. Eliza sat through the two hour performance, taking it all in, without fidgeting or whining.
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There’s something marvelous about a weekend morning spent in pajamas. Those mornings are the kind have hot chocolate with your breakfast. Homemade hot chocolate. We’re tend to start with crafts where play doh and painting are among favorites. Not to be outdone, imaginative play is still king and Sophia is finally old enough to play real hair salon. Thankfully, she now has a playmate to be her customer and that playmate is rarely me. The fruits of her labor are evident in the picture below.
And, as I mentioned before, she’s also keen on photography. This is what she took all on her own yesterday.
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Coffee, it turns out, tastes even better when enjoyed in bed over some TV early on a cool winter’s morning. Maybe it was the coffee or perhaps it was the luxury of leisure. Whichever it was, that pot of coffee drunk in its entirety, was just glorious. That was Sunday right before the girls were picked up from their time at Grammie and Pop’s house. Hesitant to stay overnight at first, Sophia and Eliza were even more reluctant to leave. It seems that grandparents really are magical. There were tea parties with tiaras and pretty dresses, doll houses, and dolls, wikki stix, and so much more.
Photography and its role in our house is expanding since both Eliza and Sophia have shown interest. It was only natural since we take quite a few pictures and I am hoping that their interest grows because I’d like to teach them claymation. Sophia participated in a claymation activity at a local clay studio and was interested.
Of course it wouldn’t be a weekend if we didn’t do a bit of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I ended up with roasted strawberries while trying to make sweet-dried ones. It was a happy accident/failure as they were the most intense strawberry-flavored bites amplified that much more by vanilla ice cream. We’ll be repeating our accidental success come summer and strawberry season.