Sunday, July 31, 2011

Clang Clang Clang went the trolley...

I love the trolley. Is that gross?

I'm a big fan of public transportation in general. I will take two trains and a bus if it will keep me off the highway. (Anyone who's ever ridden shotgun with me will understand. I'm a Nervous Nellie behind the wheel...and Distracted Donna if someone's in the passenger seat.) While living in Jersey City, I would sing the praises of the PATH to anyone who would listen. "It's clean! It's quick! It's cheap! I get to NYU in 10 minutes! It only smells a little in the summer...!"

But here in Philly we have the trolley. Growing up, most of my high school friends didn't get their licenses until after graduation, since we could just hop on the trolley to visit each other or go to the Springfield Mall. Yeah, it smelled kind of funky, and the conductors were less than pleasant, but it was cheap, convenient, and got you where you needed to go.

And now we have a trolley stop right down the street. If I worked in the city, it would be a dream commute. (In fact, when the houses on our block were built back in the 30s, most residents commuted into the city...which explains our narrow street/shared driveways/teensy garages.) Two years ago, at the height of my son's "Thomas the Tank Engine" obsession, we spent many an evening sitting at the stop and waiting for the trolleys to pass.

SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) has recently been overhauling the tracks and stations, so our stop is now shiny and new (and lacking that lovely urine aroma.) So yesterday, we took a little trip on the trolley into Media (America's first "fair trade town"), had some burgers at Zac's, wandered around Ten Thousand Villages, and came back in time for naps. KG wasn't too impressed (she just wanted to run up and down the aisles, and Mean Mommy wouldn't allow it), but Teege loved it--announcing "WE'RE ON AN ADVENTURE!" to the other passengers and narrating everything that we saw (through a four-year-old's eyes, a creek becomes a river, some trees become a forest, and a group of stores becomes "a cool city.")

Don't get me wrong--I sure like my comfy Corolla. But for a touch of nostalgia and quality time with the fam, the trolley fits the bill.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Superhero Camp!

I cannot sing the praises of The Creative Living Room highly enough.

For the kid's third birthday, I wanted to do something special...particularly because his little sister was almost done cooking, and life as he (and we) knew it would never be the same. (Little did any of us know what a blessing KG would be...I was just wracked with guilt over how Teege would deal with sharing us. Who knew that he would become the best big brother ever?) We toyed with the idea of the usual "bounce house" places, but our Teege is a little on the shy side, and those places can be kind of alarming.

So I checked out TCLR, a lovely little place in Swarthmore, which offers all kinds of arts classes for children and adults. Allison, the teaching artist, custom-designed a dinosaur party for Teege. She led them through an hour and a half of music, creative drama, art projects, and games. We topped it off with pizza in their art room and cupcakes that my sister and I had baked. People still talk about was kind of amazing. :)

When KG was born, I took her to their "Goo-Goo Gang" classes--a morning of music and activities for newborns, with an important dose of mommy-bonding. There were also "special guests": a baby sign-language expert, Reiki practitioner, infant masseuse, etc. One of the other moms started teaching an adult ballet class at TCLR (see earlier post), which kicked my butt in the best way possible this past year.

During the summer, most classes are on hiatus, so they offer a bouquet of week-long camps with various themes--Princesses, Music & Art, Animals, Greek Myths, Pirates & Mermaids, you name it. Teege just finished a week at Superhero Camp, and loved every second of it. They created their own superhero identities on the first day (he was "Starfish Man," with the power of the sea!), did super yoga, had super snacks (i.e. blueberry power smoothies), told stories, made up songs, went on a field trip to the local police station (to visit the REAL supers), and had a scavenger hunt on the last day looking for the "Litter Caper."

This place ROCKS.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Pool Yourself Together

I'm sitting in what has become my unofficial uniform of the summer--gold Old Navy flip flops and a slightly damp 2-piece bathing suit (modest tankini and skirted bottom, a favorite choice post-pregnancy). Out back, three beach towels are flung over the clothesline. It's official--we're a pool fam.

Oh dear Lord no, we haven't achieved Clark Griswold's dearly held dream of a pool in the backyard. We joined the local swim club this year.

The DH was a bit skeptical when I first broached the subject several years ago. To a born-and-bred Cali boy, the whole concept was a bit puzzling (especially since the Pacific Ocean was just a few blocks away.) Add to that a significant chunk of change required for membership, and one can understand my beloved's apprehension.

But our new neighbors urged us to join the waiting list when we moved to the 'hood, and "Mare" (the mayor of the block who called everyone "hon") offered to be our sponsor. So when our name came up this year, we plunged right in.

And it has been FABULOUS.

The swim club has become our favorite place to go when the kids are rammy, we feel imprisoned by the air conditioning, or we just want to escape for a bit. Since we don't go "downdashore" (unlike most Delco/Philly peeps, we're trekking up to Maine in August), it's so nice to just take a quick dip, catch some rays, and be back by lunchtime. It's even served as a pick-me-up when we're tired or just "meh" (i.e. last month I received some pretty disappointing news, and instead of moping around the house, we packed up the kids and jumped in the pool.)

No better cure for the summertime blues than a little sun and chlorine. :)