Papal Visit and Pedestrian Safety


As a teenager, my parents took us on vacation to Mackinac Island, a resort island in Lake Huron that has a ban on motor vehicles. Without a driver’s license myself, I was hardly inconvenienced by this prohibition, but dragging my suitcase by foot and hurling it onto a horse carriage, I was skeptical about a week without cars. As we explored the island on bikes though, it was refreshing not to look over our shoulders for cars constantly. And riding up a hill on horseback was way more fun than the backseat of my mom’s station wagon. Yet as we shopped around the downtown area and zig-zagged down the street without a car in sight, I still stopped to look both ways out of habit.

As we near the papal visit in Philadelphia and the driving and parking restrictions that come along with that, I am reminded of what it is like to live in a city without motor vehicles. There is something refreshing about knowing that we can’t use our car this weekend and that we will be exploring by foot, staying close to home, and getting back to basics. No fancy outings, just home-cooked meals and playing at the park with friends. A weekend with the 1800’s charm of Mackinac Island.

Having the streets clear of cars may seem like a good opportunity for kids to play in the streets and I imagine that there will be some block parties, t-ball games, and reckless bike riding. Anytime we walk or play in the street at a similar event, whether street fair, block party, or snow day, I remind my kids that this day or event is different and that we wouldn’t usually do this. These moments stand in stark contrast to the usual rules we have for safely walking and crossing streets in the city and it is important that the kids understand the difference.

Why is it so important that I talk to my kids about safely crossing streets when there aren’t cars around?

In 2011, almost one-fifth
of the children between the ages
of 5 and 9 killed in traffic crashes were

Traffic safety needs to be reinforced at every opportunity. In addition to the usual mantra of stop and look both ways, there are a few other traffic rules that we abide by:

– stop at EVERY corner. In Philadelphia, there are many tiny streets and alleys that barely look like cars could fit down them. While these roads may be closed to vehicles, I don’t expect my children to make this distinction. A road, is a road. They stop and look for cars at every corner they come across.

– wait for an adult to cross. While my children know the rules of how to cross a street and sometimes have the liberty to run or ride ahead of the slower moving adults, they know that they do not cross the street without an adult escort.

– once you start crossing the street, you don’t stop. A shoe falls off, forgo it. Don’t stop walking or pedaling until you reach the opposite curb.

– if you are on wheels, wear a helmet. Whether bike, trike, scooter, or skateboard, if there are wheels beneath their feet a helmet is required on their heads.

the car doesn’t move until we are ALL buckled up. While this isn’t a pedestrian rule, it may be the most important traffic safety rule of all. Although it seems as if it would be impossible to forget to buckle up your child, sometimes getting everyone into the car can be hectic and things can be forgotten. So my kids know that if they aren’t yet buckled in and they think the car is going to move, they need to call out that they aren’t buckled up yet. Checks and balances.

The upcoming papal visit and Halloween both offer ample opportunities for reinforcing traffic safety rules and modeling safe practices for young children. For more information on this topic: NHTSA, Car Seat Lady, Safe Kids Worldwide.


[All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.]

Beach Girl Goes City, or How I Became a Shoobie Mom


Although there are some warm days coming and a few days until it is officially Fall, there is starting to be a chill in the air and we put on our sweatshirts for the first time in months yesterday. This Summer we had a great time visiting the beach, with our kids playing on the same sandy shores that my husband and I grew up on. After sixteen years of city-living though, our days as beach locals feel far away. We are now those tourists that we grew up observing, dragging our chairs, umbrella, cooler, and shovels across the dunes, then schlepping it all home again 90-minutes down the highway. As a child I took for granted living in a vacation destination and wondered why all these people trekked from afar to my hometown. Sixteen years removed from that destination, I see the appeal and find myself one of the shoobies making day trips to the beach.

Overhearing city-dwellers talk about how much they love September at the beach after all the tourists leave makes me cringe. I remember so many Septembers growing up, watching the tourists who own second homes on the island trickle in and out each weekend. The thinning crowds were a reminder that Fall and Winter were near and soon our towns would be ours again. Traffic lights would be turned off. Speed limits would be raised. Businesses would close. Homes would be empty. It would be peaceful. The buzz of the Summer would be gone though, and as much as the tourists would be out of our way, we enjoyed Summers on the island as much as they did. We mourned the cooler days ahead, the return to school, the fading tans. Those boarded up businesses were ours– friends’, parents’, neighbors’– and we would be unemployed, trying to survive until next season. So while September was certainly a transition, it came with mixed emotions. It was more than just a less crowded beach and lower humidity.

And yet I am now one of those vacationers, transiently supporting the economy, feeling some entitlement of ownership, as if years of my tourism are equal to living there and making a living there. The scars of Hurricane Sandy on my childhood home sting, but I did not have to survive them. My kids will never know what it is like to grow up in a tourist destination– factoring rental home turnover into your driving plans, learning to drive a boat before a car, surf reports as daily school announcements, and seasonal fluctuations in your hometown census. They will see it like the tourists we wondered about, loved, and hated.

There are so many amazing memories of those years growing up at the beach, but it did not take me long to recognize that I was destined for the city. At eighteen, I was eager to leave my barefoot bikini Summer for the busy city that never sleeps. That September instead of watching tourists leave, I watched them return to the city and every September since, I have spent on the other side. Although I sit removed by distance and time, as I hear tales of their beach rentals, I hear it as that barefoot bikini girl who worked at the bead store and had beach bonfires at night. I remember days on the bay, pulling starfish off bulkheads and picnics on barrier islands. I long for outdoor showers with muscles fatigued from swimming. I hear gulls smashing crabs on our dock. I remember the smell of low tide coming through my bedroom window and waking in a beam of sun. And I realize that no matter how long it has been since I left, it will always be home.

A New Music Class for Kids in Queen Village


Ever since I first saw the sun-drenched dance studio on a sleepy side street, I was eager to find a class there for my kids. Philly PACK is exactly what’s it acronymous name stands for: a performing art center for kids. With the exception of one creative movement class, all classes are for kids ages 4-13, but mostly over the age of 5, which made it hard for my toddler and preschooler to enroll. Then, I heard about Mister John’s music class, an introduction to music education and movement for children from birth to 10 years old, held Thursday thru Saturday at Philly PACK.


I attended a recent Open House for Mister John’s music class with my 22 month old and 4 year old and while it is challenging to find something that captures both of their attention, Mister John was able to do so within minutes of walking in. Quickly noting a Frozen t-shirt on my son, he burst into an acoustic version of “Let it Go” and my son’s eyes nearly popped out seeing someone other than Elsa or his classmates belting out those famous lyrics. As the class continued to fill up, there was drumming, marching, and bubbles set to show tunes, popular music, and children’s classics. The class was as fun for the adults as the kids though, since the hokey songs typically sung at children’s music classes were kept to a minimum and when done, included twists like signing in Spanish.

Mister John

While we did not sign up for a class yet, I intend to work one into our schedule this year. Fall session 1 begins 9/3 and Fall session 2 starts 10/29. I would love to start teaching my littlest one music appreciation and hopefully cancel out the genetic lack of rhythm and tone that I passed along!


FYI: Mister John also does kids parties ($175/30 mins or $225/50 mins) and Philly PACK rents their space for $100/hr with a 2 hour minimum.


[I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I have no affiliation with Philly PACK or Mister John. I am not responsible for the quality of your experience with these vendors.]

Summer’s Simple Moments


*This post was previously published at the Today Show Parenting Team site*

All Summer long I have heard friends and coworkers talk about their extravagant vacations and ask in turn where my family was going this summer. Each time I responded “nowhere” feeling somewhat inadequate. Why weren’t we traveling more? Should we plan something quickly? It became a subject that I started to dread and as each person returned from their trip to the shore, Disney, or abroad, I attempted to dazzle them with tales of the playground, grocery store, and living room.

Then one Sunday, sitting in church reading Proverbs, our pastor reminded me that “the most important things are the ones we do over and over again. These things shape who you become.” This inspired gratitude for my daily routine, which although sometimes monotonous, creates the memories that I will remember forever.

Shortly afterward, my toddler and I walked around the block with her pushing a toy baby stroller when a stranger walking by yelled “treasure these moments because they go fast.” As cliché as it sounded, I smiled down at her and took a mental snapshot. We had a day full of some of our usual Summertime habits– playing at our local playground, walking around our neighborhood, and swimming in our inflatable pool. We made pancakes for breakfast and had take-out from our favorite pizzeria for dinner. We took naps. We read books. It was as Saturday as Saturdays are. And I couldn’t help but keep thinking about those words that “the most important things are the ones we do over and over again.” I realized that all of these seemingly small moments shape the mother I have become and I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything more glamorous.

So as Summer simmers out into Fall, I appreciate all of the small moments that shape our family without envy for the fortune of others. Someday we will make it to Disney, but that will be but one memory in a collection of mental postcards collected over years of daily treasures. We are rich in our love, humble in the path before us, and happy in our simple life.


[This post was previously published here at the Today Show Parenting Team site. Every month the Today Show features some of the Parenting Team bloggers on the actual Today Show. Please head over to my post and hit the “Vote Up” button to help it get the Today Show’s attention! You can vote once per day.]

Making Up Answers About Make-up and Beauty


I do not know why children are drawn to following their mother into the bathroom, but it seems that every mom I know has a hard time showering or using the bathroom without children hanging from her legs.  One day as I was rushing to put on make-up before work, my son came in and asked what I was doing.  His question made me realize how odd my everyday practice of applying mascara was from the perspective of a 4-year-old.  In my haste, I brushed past his question with a quick, “because that’s what mommy’s do,” only to have him rebound with the favorite word of preschoolers: “why?”  I put down the mascara brush and looked at him, seeing in his eyes how confused he was about my beauty ritual and I paused before responding.

I have thought for a while about how important it will be in raising children to create a positive body image in them by not disparaging my own appearance.  As a child who is told they have their dad’s eyes or mother’s hands, or even more emphatically that they look just like a particular parent, hearing a parent speak critically of their appearance sends the wrong message to the child about his/her own.  I imagined that this would become more salient during adolescence, but my preschooler’s curiosity made me recognize that the lessons we learn about beauty start from the beginning.

So in the moment, I chose to talk about my make-up routine as one step in the process of getting ready, similar to brushing my teeth or putting on my shoes. I refrained from using descriptions that reference beauty or self-improvement, although most of the language I have for cosmetics falls in these categories. As my children continue to grow in their awareness of my beauty rituals and the industry surrounding them, I will continue to seek better answers to their questions that will hopefully allow them to develop security and love for their own natural bodies.


If you have any resources on this topic, please share in the comments!



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