Doctor Barbie

 

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Doctor Barbie has a laptop. She comes with other accessories, like a white lab coat and stethoscope of course, but one of her largest and most prominent medical tools is her laptop. As a pediatrician’s daughter, my child selected doctor Barbie from the aisle of infinite Barbie options because she knew I was most likely to purchase this one when otherwise walking the store repeating the mantra “no more toys.” So Doctor Barbie and her laptop now live with us and my daughter plays doctor, not by examining patients but by having her type on the keyboard.

“Do you use a computer like this one, mama?” she asked during one of the baby Barbie’s check-ups. I do not remember a Doctor Barbie in the 1980’s when I played with these silicone women, but I would imagine that her accessories included a reflex hammer and maybe even a microscope. My reflex hammer, purchased in medical school and balanced precariously in my white coat pockets for select months of my training, now sits idly in my home office. Alas, I conceded to my daughter that yes, mama spends a significant portion of her day typing on a computer, just like Doctor Barbie.

When I entered medical school I underestimated how much computer time would be in my future. I knew I would need it for documentation and to look things up on the great all-knowing Internet, but I could not imagine that computers would become fixtures in every exam room, touchdown space, and office that I would enter throughout my routine day. There are no longer verbal orders for medications or procedures; if it is not in the computer system, it does not exist.

One of the struggles many doctors face is how not to let the computer become a wall between us and the patient. How can I type while the patient is talking to maximize capturing the accuracy of what they are saying in my documentation and my workflow efficiency without becoming impersonal? There are some conversations that start innocuous and slowly as they move toward ultra-sensitive or highly emotional, the pace of my fingers on the keys slows to an eventual halt. The click-clack of typing does not engender a patient’s trust in divulging intimate details of their life. At some point though, it must be documented and so I retire to my work-space to type up the encounter, which is the only way others will appreciate and value it.

In addition to being my medical chart, my computer is now my laboratory, image library, pharmacy, textbook, immunization schedule, and growth chart. System outages can create a temporary pandemonium so disorienting that years later I can still remember the exact date of each episode. I remember in one such event walking around with a three-inch thick dusty medical textbook photocopying blood pressure charts for different ages and genders when my younger office staff said, “Oh Dr. Lockwood is so retro.”

Having computers in my career has certainly brought with it many advantages, particularly improved knowledge sharing between physicians and between physicians and patients. I am thankful each day for a good computer and typing teacher in Middle School, who is likely just as important as any medical school professor. The computer allows certain safety protections, reminders, and guidelines that allow for better patient care. I no longer need to decipher the scribbles of other physicians when everything is neatly before me in Times New Roman.

The makers of Doctor Barbie got me right, at least in accessories if not in body proportions. Watching Doctor Barbie type through her check-ups makes me cringe because of how close to the truth it is. She may not be the doctor I imagined growing up, but is certainly the modern doctor I have become. I am grateful to Doctor Barbie though because she reminds me to be mindful not to let the advantages of technology push out the traditions that made me fall in love with medicine.

 

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

Stop Motion Filmmaking for Kids: Goldfish® Tales Animation Xperience Contest

“I took like 100 pictures,” my five-year-old proudly told me when I came downstairs. Sure enough, my iPad storage capacity was met with a camera roll full of awkward angles of the floor, bookcase, and fingertips. His fresh passion for photography was inspired by our recent adventure in making stop motion films for the Goldfish® Tales Animation Xperience Contest. I decided to attempt this project as a way to entertain him on one of seven days off from school, but I imagined that it would mostly be me trying to halt him from eating all the Goldfish® before we made the film. I was pleasantly surprised that we actually had a film in the end.

The contest involves making a short stop motion film featuring Goldfish® crackers, with $5,000 prizes awarded for Best Use of Goldfish®, Best Story, Best Up-and-Coming Animators, and Best Overall.

craft supplies

I have never made a stop motion film, so this project was more experiment than anything. First, we looked at our craft materials and household items for inspiration. Then, we came up with our story-line and acted it out. Next, we recorded the film frame-by-frame. Lastly, we uploaded it to YouTube for viewing!

Polar Surprise

So sure, the story isn’t very complex and only makes sense if you have the mind of a five-year-old. The lighting and focus are spotty. The timing is off. But it has lots of heart and we had fun making it. My son does not even know there is a contest involved, he only knows that we made a film together. Watching him excitedly dream up and plan his next film, and his next, makes me smile like those cheesy yellow crackers.

View our film here: https://youtu.be/3Th5TdluJsw

You can submit a unique video every day until February 27th. We may have more coming…

[Disclaimer: This video is an entry into a contest sponsored by Pepperidge Farm, Inc. I was not compensated for this post but my video is entered into the Goldfish® Tales Animation Xperience Contest and I was given craft supplies.]

Tuesdays with Mommy: City Hall Tower Tour

North

If you can stand ascending about 31 floors in a 4-person elevator that feels like it is from 1871, then you will be rewarded with a 500-foot observation deck with the best views of Philadelphia. I’m talking about the tower in Philadelphia’s City Hall where a 27-ton statue of William Penn looks over the city. On a clear day like the one when we visited, you can see miles of amazing views including the city skyscrapers, Art Museum, Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and North and South Broad Street. Our tour guide mentioned that the day prior he had a birds-eye view of the Presidential visit and protests, and after some negativity toward Philadelphia during that visit, it felt great to be looking down on our gritty city bustling with hard-working, diverse people in the birthplace of democracy.

skyscrapers

Saying that this is the best view of Philadelphia is a bold claim, given the nearby shinier, 57th-floor One Liberty Observation Deck. In contrast, this tower is an old, no-frills historic outing complete with a a chain-smoking government employee and ledges coated in a half-inch of dust. With only five of us up there though and no commercial advertisements in the way, it felt like it was just us and the city. After we left, my son drew a photo of us in the tower with birds flying beside us, which although I do not remember seeing, is certainly how it felt.

Inside the City Hall clock tower
Inside the City Hall clock tower

We visited the tower on a day that my son was off from school and the City Hall Visitor’s Center employees were more than happy to give him some fast facts to bring back to his teacher. We learned that the 37-foot statue of William Penn is the tallest statue atop any building in the world. Also that it took 30 years for the construction of City Hall and during that time both the Eiffel Tower and Washington Monument surpassed it in height. It remained the tallest occupied structure in the U.S. until 1909 though and the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987. Overall, this was a fun and educational trip that I would recommend for any city kid (or adult) looking to explore a piece of Philadelphia history without crowds or much tourism fanfare.

Broad Street

Details:
Tours available: every 15 minutes
Mon-Fri 9:30AM-4:15PM 
select Saturdays 11AM-4:00PM 
weather and capacity permitting 
Cost: $8 adult, $6 senior/military, $4 student/youth, child < 3 is free. 
PHLvisitorcenter.com/CityHall

Philadelphia Summer Camp Round-Up

field

Living in a beach town, there was little impetus to leave in the Summers for camp. Instead we spent our days at the beach or pool with our nanny. After moving to Philadelphia as an adult, I soon learned that there was a huge camp culture I had missed out on as a child. There are many reasons a child may attend Summer camp. For some, it is a necessity due to a dual working household. For others it provides enrichment to prevent the academic Summer slide. While for others it may provide an enrichment of experience: city kids going to the country, country kids going to the city. Or it may balance your child’s academic interests: a bookworm may attend a sports camp, or an athlete may attend an art camp. Whatever the reason though, the Philadelphia area has you covered with many, diverse options.

I recently attended the Philadelphia Family & Main Line Parent Summer Camp Fair at the Franklin Institute. Below is a partial (sorry if your camp was excluded) list of local camps with a few highlights that I learned at the Fair. There are many factors to consider, such as location, cost, timing, content, etc., so view their individual websites for details and talk to your child to find the best fit.

Tall Pines Day Camp

Monroe Township, NJ

Ages: Pre-K to 6th grade

I know a lot of kids who love this camp and I have to admit it looks exactly like what I imagine summer camp to look like. Imagine 66 acres of sports fields, a giant pool with a waterslide, a lake full of kayaks, a ceramics studio, theatre, mini golf, zip line, and archery. Located in the New Jersey Pinelands, so as a pediatrician, I have to advise that you watch out for ticks! Also, Tall Pines is nut free, Celiac friendly, and has vegetarian options.

Penn Charter

3000 West School House Lane, Philadelphia

Ages: 3-14 for day camp; 5-15 for varsity camps

Programs include specific camps for sports, chess, animation, film-making, robotics, Spanish language, sports broadcasting, and business. My son was excited about the Codecraft Academy Camp- Learning to Code in Minecraft, which unfortunately for him is only for 9-15 year-olds. I was excited to see Salvemos El Medio Ambiente, a Spanish immersion camp exploring environmental issues through hands-on science projects.

Durango Farm

Exton, PA

Ages: 6 and up

An 80-acre camp to learn hands-on experience in breaking and training young horses, preparing for horse showing, building jumper courses, daily riding lessons, and games. Students do not need to own a horse, but need to bring their own riding helmet and paddock boots.

The Philadelphia School

2501 Lombard Street

Ages: Grade 1-6

TPS has weekly themed camps where kids explore sports, swimming, and gardening. I was particularly interested in their June 19-23 Survival Skills themed week, where students learn to pitch a tent, build a fire, hike safely, and practice orienteering skills. They also offer an overnight Wilderness Survival Camp for the middle school age. Or if wilderness isn’t your thing, they have a Hamilton themed camp July 10-14th. Save $5 with coupon code FI5OFF.

St. Peter’s School

319 Lombard Street

Ages: 3-15

Themed enrichment weeks for the Pre-K to 5th grade crowd include Global Friends (exploring cultures and histories around the globe), Mad Scientist’s Lab, and Battle of the Bands. Your 3rd-5th grader can join a Specialty Camp like the Mini United Nations the week of June 26th or learn about architecture by researching and exploring the city in Touch the Sky the week of July 31st. Students play on a turf field with playground and cool off in wading pools in between adventures.

Miquon Day Camp

Conshohocken, PA

Ages: 4-11

Their slogan is “summertime the way it used to be” and from what I have heard, the days here do resemble my childhood. Innocent, unplugged, and magical are some of the words that Miquon uses to describe it’s camp. Highlights include swimming, crafts, drama, music, and nature. Located in a 10-acre wooded area, children jump with frogs in the creek, climb a rustic playground, and swim twice daily.

Penn Museum

3260 South Street

Ages: 7-13

Anthropologists in the Making is a camp that embarrassingly reminds me of the anthropology courses I took my first year in college, but for elementary school students! My favorite weeks are July 17-21st Body Art theme (“scars, tattoos, and piercings… oh my!”) and July 31-Aug 4 Medicine: Ancient and Modern (“discover ancient Egyptian cures that are still used today.”). Campers get to go behind the scenes at the museum and interact with professionals in archaeology and anthropology. I wish I could sign up!

Friends’ Central

1101 City Avenue

Ages: Pre-K to 12th Grade

Camps here include the standards of swimming, music/drama, arts and crafts, sports, and nature, but also opportunities to explore robotics, 3D printing, and fabrication. For students in grades 7-12, a Summer Scholars camp offers specialized, yet informal instruction in SAT prep, applied math for physical sciences, college application essays, and mathematics. Save with code TFTB10017.

Primrose School

1635 Market Street

Ages: 4-10

Themed weekly camps include a field trip (Wissahickon Park, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Orchestra, etc), Dilworth Park splash play, dress up days, and a “snacktivity.”

Franklin Institute

271 North 21st Street

Ages: Pre-K to 9th grade

Focusing on the three S’s: “silliness, smiles, and science.” Campers get behind the scenes at new exhibits and do hands-on STEAM projects. What kid doesn’t want to spend their Summer exploding things? Of note, camps run until 4PM (which is late for Summer camp) and through the end of August (which is rare).

Philly Art Center

multiple locations

Ages: 4-14

Camp here includes two studio sessions per day with playground breaks. Tweens can opt for ceramics, sewing, comics, and more as well.

Philly InMovement

500 Kenilworth Street

Ages: 5-12

Know someone who might like a ninja or jedi camp? Themed weeks here include gymnastics, rock climbing, slack lining, dance, obstacle courses, yoga, group games and more.

Friends Select

1651 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Ages: 4-13

A highlight of this  camp includes swim instruction in an indoor pool. For the 9-13 year-olds, there are Lego Robotics, Drone Making, and CSI themed camps. There is also an on-site playground, tennis courts, and turf field, which is amazing for its Center City location.

We have picked our Summer camps for 2017-2018 based on location, theme, and cost. I have chosen things that I think will help challenge my son so that he remains engaged academically over the Summer, but that also allow him to play, explore, and get messy. It is also important that there is enough time for us to connect as a family, so we’ll be taking some vacation time as well. It may be 40 degrees outside, but it is never to soon to start planning your Summer!

 

[I was NOT compensated for this post. I have no affiliation with the above camps. All opinions are my own. I am not responsible for the content of external sites. You should use your own informed judgement when making decisions for your child.]

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Kids Parties in Philadelphia: An update on venues for your next birthday party

bowling

I wrote in 2015 about kids birthday parties in Philadelphia and it remains one of my more popular posts, so I thought it was time to update my list. Please take a look at the prior list though for ideas as these are in addition, but not to replace, the aforementioned venues. Most of these are places where I have attended parties, but I am including others that may be of interest to you as well.

Academy of Natural Sciences: Parties here can be tailored to your child’s age (3 and up) and interest, but often include things such as a dinosaur fossil dig, butterfly  garden, and petting reptiles. Parties are a balance between hands-on educational activities and time in a private party room for food and cake. Cost: Starts at $335 for members, otherwise $375 for non-members, for the basic package.  Additional fees if more than 20 guests. Food and gift bags available at additional cost.

SkyZone: So while this isn’t technically in Philadelphia (it’s actually Moorestown, NJ), it seems to be a popular destination party for Philadelphia kids. Parties here will certainly tire out your guests as they travel around the various zones of this large indoor trampoline park. Packages include all food (pizza) and drinks in a private party room. As a pediatrician, trampolines make me nervous, but my kids always have fun here. Cost: Starts at $220.

Aspiring Champions: Also not in Philadelphia, but nearby in King of Prussia. Parties include 1.5 hours of coached wiffleball, dodgeball, basketball, soccer, touch football, or kickball, plus food and paper products. Works best for ages 6 and up. Cost: Starts at $350 for 15 kids.

Chuck E. Cheese: the South Philadelphia location of this pizza arcade chain offers parties where the kids can run around with a pre-loaded token card playing all their favorite games and earning tickets that are traded in for trinkets at the end. Then while eating pizza they get to dance with Chuck E. Cheese. Again, the pediatrician side of me needed to bring a lot of hand sanitizer to this one, but my son had a blast. Cost: Starts at $15.99/child.

HFS Parkour Center: What kid doesn’t want to have a ninja party, where they can swing from ropes and jump off walls? There is plenty of room for parents to hang out and watch while the kids play. Paper goods are included, but you bring your own food. Cost: Starts at $290 for the first 10 kids, $24/kid after that.

Snapology: A one-hour themed party where the kids build Lego creations with the help of a professional. You must supply the party venue and food. Cost: $250 for 12 kids, $8 for each additional kid.

Play Arts: Parties here include ninety minutes in the hippest play space in town with a Pinterest-worthy party room decked out in sustainable paper goods. Add-on options include $150 for an art activity. Bonus: Play Arts aims to make the party stress-free for parents. Accommodates 15 children and 30 adults. Cost: Starts at $350.

Mister John Music: If you aren’t part of the Mister John fan club yet, you will be after one of his parties. Mister John will plan an interactive music experience based on the age and musical preferences of your child. You need to provide the venue and food. Cost: $175 for 30 minutes, $225 for 50 minutes.

South Bowl: Children under 12 can bowl for one hour and then feast on a lunch buffet before cake and ice cream. The uber cool party room also has arcade games and billiards for parents and children looking to take a break from bowling. Cost: Starts at $26.95pp for 15 kids, $33.95pp for more than 15 kids.

PEP Bowl: Less modern than South Bowl, but an intimate, retro bowling experience that also supports a good cause. You provide food and decorations. Cost: $45 per lane per hour.

iFly: Adventurous kids age 3 and up can try indoor skydiving in King of Prussia. Parties include priceless video clips of your little one flying. Cost: $609.95 for 24 flights shared by 12 people.

Kids at Play: This indoor sensory playground in East Falls includes a zip line, ball pits, and archery. Parties occur while the gym is open to the public as well, but there is a private party room for food and cake, which is provided by you. A great option for all kids, but especially those with special needs. Parties on Sundays only. Free t-shirt for birthday kid. Cost: Starts at $250, with 10% off for members.

Philadelphia Rock Gym: Rock climbing guided by PRG experts, pizza, and private party room Cost: Starts at $22/climber with 10 climber minimum.

Camden Children’s Garden: Take the ferry from Penn’s Landing to a whimsical garden with a butterfly greenhouse, train, carousel, and splash area for children aged 3-11 from April through November. Cost: Starts at $70 +$1.50 for each ride token.

Goldfish Swim School: 2 hours of private access to a pool with lifeguards, private party room with food, and tropical decorations for up to 24 kids aged 4 months to 12 years. Seem fairly low stress, except for having to get in a bathing suit in front of a crowd. Cost: $450

Independence Seaport Museum: Your little pirates will go on a scavenger hunt, do an art project, and tour a submarine. For $150 a “real” pirate will make an appearance and for $5 per person you can row in the Penn’s Landing basin. A private party room with paper products is provided for up to 50 guests aged 4-12. Cost: Starts at $300 for 20 guests, $25 off for members.

ZoomDance: 80-90 minutes of creative play and dance centered around a book that you choose. Best for ages 4-8 and able to accommodate mixed age groups well. You provide food and paper goods. Cost: If in Headlong Studios in South Philly, $330 for up to 12 kids, $395 for up to 25 kids. They will also come to you if you have an appropriate space for $180 for up to 12 kids, $245 for up to 25 kids. Bonus: if you are planning an adult party, ZoomDance will provide “worry-free distraction time” by entertaining a group of 4-25 kids for 45-120 minutes!

I hope this is helpful in planning your next birthday party. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but represents some of the options in the Philadelphia area. Wherever you end up, I hope you have fun!

 

[I have no affiliation with any of these businesses. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.]

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