Kids and Kitties: The Kawaii Kitty Cafe Opened in Queen Village

cat_cafe

We are a cat-loving family with a 12-year-old marshmallow-bodied Russian Blue cat, who our children literally smother in love every day. However, when I heard there was a cat cafe opening in Philadelphia, I was hesitant about whether or not I would want to eat somewhere that had cats creeping around and wondered how the Health Department would handle that as well. This past week though the Kawaii Kitty Cafe opened in Queen Village and every time we walked passed their large windows with kitties sunning themselves and patrons relaxing with oversized coffee cups, my interest was piqued.

Inside I was relieved to see that the cafe and kitty room are physically separated and although it wasn’t the main attraction, my chai tea was actually really delicious. The space was clean, and despite the seven cats in the small space, it was odorless. The pastel decor was soothing and the Ikea decor was comfortable both the cats and humans. The kids were ecstatic every time a kitty popped out from one of their hiding places. The greatest challenge was reminding the kids to be gentle and limit their squeals of joy, which delighted me much more than the cats.

The Kawaii Kitty Cafe is modeled after others that began in Tokyo, then spread internationally and nationally, with Philadelphia being the fourth city to follow this trend. For cat lovers, the cafe offers the peacefulness of any other coffee shop, but with the added benefit of snuggling cats. For parents, it is a place to watch your kids play with cats without committing  to years of emptying a litter box. For those looking to rescue a cat, the Kawaii Kitty Cafe offers you the opportunity to try before you buy. All of the cats there are from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and are adoptable. In fact, the staff informed me that they started with 12 cats and by the end of the first week, only 7 remained.

Since the cats are all shelter cats, there are some ground rules for the Kitty Cafe, including a warning that the cats may scratch or bite. Both my son and I left with relatively minor scratches, which we were able to wash with soap and water in their bathroom before leaving and again use the hand sanitizer conveniently located by the exit.

Not only am I happy that this cafe chose Queen Village as its home, but that they have good tea, taught my kids self-control and respect for animals, and support a great cause! I think it is safe to say we will be making another reservation at the Kawaii Kitty Cafe sometime soon. The kids loved that one of the cats, Lord Fluffy Bottom, looked just like our own Arthur and was equally grumpy when they disrupted his nap. Luckily they also enjoyed petting Mr. Ravioli, taunting Daniel Day-Mewis with the laser pen, and sneaking a few too many cat treats to Pawlie Walnuts. I was glad that Aunt Pearl was already adopted or Arthur may have had a new roommate.

 

Reservations are recommended at the Kawaii Kitty Cafe, so book it here.

For information about Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society: PAWS

For information on Cat-Scratch Disease: CDC Healthy Pets Healthy People

Pets and Children, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

 

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A Grateful Graduate

chalkboard

Today is the day that my first baby graduates. He will walk across a stage and get a diploma. OK, so it’s only preschool graduation. And if watching his friends graduate last year is any predictor of how it goes this year, it may be more full of tantrums than tassels. Either way, I’ll be teary eyed.

Part of me is obviously emotional about my son growing up and moving on, but another part of me is sad over leaving his current school. After four years there, it has started to feel like a second family. One of his teachers has known him for three of the past five years of his life! While daycare sometimes gets a bad reputation, it has given us so much. We fled to daycare urgently when we found ourselves with a dangerous nanny and while I initially appreciated it for his safety, I resented the germs, the fact that it was less individualized, and my loss of control over his day-to-day routine. There were tears, bitings, and stitches, to add to my working mommy guilt. But then there were so many other times that I watched him flourish because of his school. He has made lifetime friends, been loved by his teachers, and learned innumerable things that I wouldn’t have taught him (and the nanny certainly didn’t). He not only learned to read, write, and do math, but he built, climbed, sang, and painted regularly. He’s learned some Spanish and American Sign Language. He’s on a first-name basis with local musicians, a librarian, and an opera-singing barista. He knows his way around the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the orchestra. He has grown from a mostly non-verbal, garbage-truck-obsessed, wild toddler to a passionate, artistic, Lego-loving preschooler. And now the community that helped raise him will watch him sing his graduation song and walk across a stage toward his future.

In the Fall, we will start over with the unknowns of Kindergarten. He will make new friends, meet new teachers, and build on what he has learned. I will have the new school worries that I had four years ago: will they understand him? will he be loved? safe? supported? will he make good friends? There are so many questions that loom, but I am excited that there are many graduations for me to cry at in the future. I am approaching this first graduation with gratitude for four great years to begin a lifetime academic journey. As for saying goodbye, I am glad that he has a little sister remaining at the school so I can procrastinate for a few more years.

 

For information on finding, selecting, and paying for childcare in Philadelphia: CCIS

To get involved in the Pre-K for PA campaign: PCCY

To find quality childcare providers in PA: Keystone Stars

Book Club

books

I went full mom, as my writer friend said when I told her the news that I joined a book club. Although I have always loved reading, a book club was never something I considered until recently. The work-life hustle had taken me away from reading for the past few years, unless of course you count US Weekly or InStyle magazines, but in the past few months I had started reading more consistently. This led to a new friend suggesting I join her book club, and in the spirit of trying new things I soon found myself ordering the chosen book on Amazon and diligently budgeting time to read each night. Now in the second month of book club, despite a less engaging read on the docket, I am excited about continuing this new, albeit yes very 50’s housewife, tradition.

Here are the things I am learning to love about book clubs:

1. Finding a new community of women. Making new friends as an adult is hard, so having a small group of women from my neighborhood who I can have dinner with once a month is an easy entryway into making new friends. Our book club meets at local restaurants rather than in our living rooms, which makes it feel more urban cool than the stereotype I had imagined.

2. Reading books without pictures. I read all of the time. Usually board books, Dr. Seuss, lift-the-flap, and of the Where the Wild Things Are variety though. So it feels great getting back into some good literature and popular fiction. Actually it feels like returning to a room of old friends.

3. Me time! The limited time squeezed between my children’s bedtime and my own is easy to fill with chores, mindless TV, and internet shopping. Book club has encouraged me to instead carve out time for reading that truly feels dedicated to myself, centering and grounding the end of my day.

4. Discussion. In many of my circles of friends, discussion tends to gravitate to a few common topics: husbands, work, and children. It feels great to have outlets where I can vent about or celebrate these various topics, which in reality are the three most important parts of my life. However, it also feels great to meet up with a group of friends and not significantly talk about any of these things and rather focus on the themes from the book. A little academic discourse over a plate of pasta, without having to feed anyone other than myself or retrieve crayons from the floor, is like time traveling to six years ago and feels great for a few hours.

5. Reading outside my niche. I tend to gravitate toward similar types of books and authors, so having others make my reading selections for me is a great way to be exposed to books I might otherwise not read. Some will be successes and others will not be finished, but I am learning along the way.

I fancy myself to be a writer, so it is important to remain an active reader. Also, I teach about the importance of reading at every patient well visit encounter and give out new books through the Reach Out and Read program. I read with my children every day and encourage them to read on their own too. And although there are books in nearly every room of my house I was not doing much reading of my own. Previously feeling like somewhat of an imposter, I am now ready to recommit to modeling the literate life I want all children to lead.

 

Recent Reads:

Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Talking to Parents About Guns

Alice

I had a talk about guns with another parent. It was awkward to initiate but in the end I was so glad I did it. A few months ago my four-year-old was invited to a drop-off birthday party, his first party at someone’s home without me. The party hosts were a family I have known for a few years, but not well enough to know their stance on gun ownership. I have also met enough gun owners to know that I can’t presume who may own a gun based on appearance, religion, or any other demographic. Therefore, I knew I would have to ask them, but I dreaded doing so for fear of offending.

About six months ago we were at another party and as my son and a boy played upstairs out of my sight, I heard them talking about holding a gun. My heart nearly stopped and I sprinted upstairs to find them pointing a small, plastic water gun. It was then that I realized that I must ask playmates about guns in their home, possibly even when I am with him. I ask about guns at every new patient well visit, so why wouldn’t I ask it of my children’s friends? The importance of gun safety has been reinforced over and over as preventable gun injuries and deaths flood the media headlines.

So in contemplating dropping my preschooler off at a birthday party without my close parental supervision, I knew I had to think about what potential risks may be there and face him. The following is an excerpt from my email to the host parent:

As a pediatrician mom, I have to ask two questions though: does anyone smoke in your home? and do you have any guns? I hope you don’t take offense to these questions, but in my line of work I have decided that these are two issues that I need to screen for when my children are out of my care.”

I was so relieved that the answers to these questions were no and that the mother applauded my asking and decided that she would also start asking others the same questions when her children were out of her care. Some have asked me though what I would have done had the answers been yes. This is a trickier situation and I think the decision about how to handle this is personal for each family. For me, gun ownership itself is not immediate criteria for defriending, however, I would want to know that they responsibly kept the gun and ammunition separated and locked up out of reach of children. If these criteria could not be met, I would definitely not let my children play in this household. As for smoking, I would not allow my children to sleep over a household where there were smokers. For a limited time period like a birthday party, I would ask that no one smoke during the party or near the children. If these accommodations could not be met, I would have to decline the party invite.

Fortunately, my son was able to attend this party without any friendship lost and no risks to his health or safety. I am also glad I was not afraid to ask these important questions. I know that as I continue asking in the years to come, the answers I receive will not all be so easy and I am ready to handle those challenges. If only I could offer him a similar level of protection as he goes off into the world without me.

 

Gun Violence Facts and Statistics, from CHOP

Gun Violence Prevention by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Firearm-Related Injuries Affecting the Pediatric Population, AAP Policy Statement

Gun Safety, from CHOP

 

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

Healthy Meal Ideas from Produce for Kids

This is a sponsored post.

What’s for dinner? This is the question that plagues us each night. We go through spurts of creativity in our cooking but then fall back into a rut again of repeating the same recipes over and over. My children fall into the same broken routine too, demanding the same foods, typically carbohydrates, and therefore eating a limited variety of fruits and veggies. So when Produce for Kids asked me to partner with them to promote their new campaign to promote healthy foods and recipes while raising funds for food banks, I thought: yes!

PFK-Logo-webProduce for Kids is launching a campaign with ACME Markets from April 29-June 2, to raise funds for local Feeding America food banks and offer ACME shoppers healthy meal solutions, recipes, and tips. Last year’s campaign raised more than $17,172.50 for local food banks. ACME stores will display the Produce for Kids and Feeding America logo next to products supporting the campaign, such as Mexican Hass Avocados, Earthbound Farm®, Eat Smart® Fresh Cut Vegetables, Fresh Express® Packaged Salads, Kings River Packing California Citrus, Maries® Dressings, RealSweet® Vidalia® Onions, Setton Farms® Pistachios, To-¬Jo Mushrooms, and Wholly Guacamole®. Buying these items will support the campaign and then you can find recipes that use them at ProduceForKids.com.

Impact GraphicAfter browsing the recipes, I found a simple one for Sesame Chicken and Broccoli that caught my eye. I chose this basic recipe because it solves two problems for me. First, my children are very picky vegetable eaters, but they love broccoli. So a recipe that uses broccoli is one I know will be readily accepted by them. Second, as a dual working parent household, there are nights that we do not have much time to grocery shop or cook a healthy meal. This recipe uses only a few ingredients and things that are often already in our refrigerator. It is so quick to prepare that we can have time to play at the park after school and work and still have time to eat a nutritious dinner rather than ordering a take-out version.

Sesame Chicken and BroccoliSoft colored abstract summer light  background for design

(courtesy of ProduceForKids.com)

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups broccoli florets
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons Marie’s® Sesame Ginger Coleslaw dressing
  5. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken and heat until warmed through. Add dressing and sesame seeds and stir to combine.

We tried this recipe for the first time as a weeknight dinner when we were exhausted and out of ideas for dinner. The kids called the sesame seeds “sprinkles” and were delighted by their new dinner option made out of their old favorites. We do not have a clean plate rule around here, but we do try to prevent food waste and encourage eating “growing foods” before treats. With the Produce for Kids recipes though, I may be able to turn some growing foods (like avocados) into treats (like dark chocolate avocado brownies) for my picky eaters. With healthy food choices that support a good cause, this campaign gave us many reasons to feel good about what’s for dinner.

 

Follow Produce for Kids on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat (ProduceforKids) for more recipe ideas and healthy eating tips all year long. Share your own healthy recipes and ideas during the campaign using the hashtag #produceforkids.

[This is a sponsored post. I have no affiliation with Produce for Kids, Acme, or Feeding America beyond this campaign post. All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.]

 

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