Hipster Henry

The Parent's Guide to Philadelphia

Brooke Lanier: Art Classes for Kids

BL_ AT EASEL

Brooke Lanier Fine Art

201 S. Camac Street – 4th Floor – Philadelphia, PA 19106  brooke.lanier@gmail.com / website>

CLASSES START NEXT WEEK. $30 OFF SELECT CLASSES

It’s not often that I cross paths in the city with a trained and actively working fine-artist that enjoys working with children. However, I found exactly that located on the corner of 12th and Camac Streets.  Hidden on the 4th floor of the 12th Street Gym is Brooke Lanier’s one-room studio. Brooke is a mild-mannered artist with amazing talent that showcases a beautiful studio with impressive work.  You can also find some of her beautiful artwork online, as I did, while writing this review. Click here for my favorite: “Swimming Pools.”

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I signed my boys up for these lessons/classes because I wanted to give them an experience that is fun, while also being at an advanced skill level. It’s also nice, especially for Henry who loves to draw, to take it up a notch and challenge his art skills. Additionally, it is always amazing for my boys to experience using charcoal drawing in a space other than my house.  (side note: I have spared the walls in my house from their charcoal hands… but not my pants didn’t fair so well.)

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I think that one of the things that makes my classes different is that I try to teach age-appropriate technical skills and art history.  Since class sizes are so small, we can have good discussions about how things are made and why people choose to make the things in the manner they do and so on.Brooke Lanier

When we first me at her studio, Brooke let my boys join her to paint, allowing us all to get an understanding of what that experience is like. Working with Brooke is different then our previous experiences and was better in so many ways.

Children in Brooke’s classes are taught how to take their love for drawing and apply it to real subject matter like landscapes, animals and portraiture. I realize that Henry might be too young to understand the concept of “contrast,” as this was confirmed while I watched Brooke explain it to him as he painted. However, I also see him absorb some of this information… so, I’m not totally crazy. Besides I want my kids in advanced environments where people talk up to them. I have learned with Henry not to shy away from more advanced learning because he responds really well to it. And I’m sure some of your little ones might learn the same way.

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And if you really want to learn about contrast, maybe you should speak to my youngest son Ollie. He taught us a totally different meaning of the word as he exercised his 3-year-old rights and treated Brooke’s studio like a racetrack. Ollie is a couple of years away from working with Brooke.

If your child loves to draw I would suggest contacting Brooke to schedule a visit to her studio and find out more about the work she is doing with her students.

Brooke starts working with kids as young as 5-years-old in basic, landscape, animal drawing, portraiture and painting.  Click here for full class descriptions. 

To view more student work from Brooke’s studio click here.

About Brooke:

Brooke earned her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her MFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art, and has an international exhibitions record, which also sets her apart.  In 2007, Brooke was part of a group show in the Smithsonian for 4 months and was featured in a two page spread in The Chicago Tribune’s Weekend Magazine.

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Pieces from the series: Swimming Pools by Brooke Lanier

 

Philly In Movement: SUMMER CAMP

PIM Camp Ad Step 2
SUMMER CAMP: INMOVEMENT
Weekly Camps: Runs July 7-August 29

500 Kenilworth St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 / 267-239-0844

$50 off when you use the promo code “HIPSTERCAMP”
PROMO CODE VALID UNTIL 6/15/2014
My family has one more year before I need to start looking into summer camps in Philadelphia. Soooo being the type-A person I am I have already started kicking the tires on the places the boys take classes that also offer summer camps. Weekly kids gymnastics classes in Philadelphia have become apart of our routine.
PIM Collage for Camp Post
Thanks to the magic of Wifi I stay at my boys weekly InMovement classes (out of view)  and work. Because of that I am able to get a really good understanding of the sense of community and the relationships between the coaches and students at the studio. It is very clear to me that it is like a little family there but with a mix of tough love. I see the older kids loving their instructors and the challenges of the class and the see the instructors having fun with them but maintaining high expectations for each move. It is hard to have a gymnastics studio right in the city because space is such an issue.  I think we are lucky to have InMovement in the community for the kids and it is worth trying. If you are on the fence about it call the owner Sara Trindade. She is often on site and after a simple conversation she will be able to tell you if it is a good fit for your child. I have eavesdropped on a few conversations and Sara is always really honest with parents when it comes to finding the right fit for their child.
Camp Details:
Weekly Camps: Runs July 7-August 29
Time: 9:00-3:30 (Before care and after care available through the Queen Village Art Center)
Price: $325/week.

Philly InMovement offers Movement Enrichment camps and Gymnastics Camps that are sure to please your child!! We do a wide array of activities including rock climbing, slack lining, dance, parkour, yoga, group games, water fun and, of course, GYMNASTICS! We place emphasis on being playful and curious while discovering all the different ways in which our body can move. Through gymnastics circuits campers learn the elements of gymnastics with safe and proper technique. Campers will explore the fundamentals of tumbling, beam, bars, and vault. Camp is open to children of all levels!Sara Trindade, Owner / Founder InMovement

 

Kids on12th: Swimming Lessons

!2th Street Kids Gym

Kids on 12th: Swimming Lessons

204 South 12th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 / judy@kidson12th.com

A question that I am constantly asked about is where I take my boys for swimming lessons in Philadelphia. I recently started taking my two boys to 12 Street Gym (via Kids on 12th, the organization responsible for the handling all the kids swimming classes).

You have two options when choosing swimming lessons for kids, you can pick from “group” or “private” lessons. My boys love to play and love being around their friends. Sometimes their “social” behavior prevents them from paying attention in their after school classes, which is why I opted to try the  “private” swimming lessons.

Judy Hershman (judy@kidson12th.com) is the children’s swimming instructor at Kids on 12th. Originally, I was hesitant about how she was going to manage both of my boys in the pool at the same time, however, Judy is clearly a professional and had no problem with my energetic little crew. In fact after a few minutes the boys acted like they had know Judy forever. Reminding me that if you are willing to take them in a pool they will be your best friends for life.
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The lesson started with both my boys hopping right in the water. Judy had one of my sons, Oliver sit on the steps while she took my other son, Henry out into the water. She did some training and then returned, allowing the two boys to trade places. They never wait long in between turns and now whoever is waiting ends up kicking around while they wait for their turn.

I am seeing the boys improve from each swimming lesson. They are getting more comfortable with having their faces under water, being dunked, and floating on their backs. So far a lot of the lesson is focused on them using their arms – in order to develop their swimming technique. Judy calles out “bullet” arms and “rocket” arms over and over to help them remember how they should be moving their arms. The kicking the feet part we have down. If you are a parent of boys you know exactly what I mean.

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Most of the classes that my boys take are for learning something new while expensing some energy, but this class is one that I take a lot more seriously.  So far, a huge reason that I like this private lesson is because Judy stays on top of them and is very attentive. Her being attentive makes my boys realize they can have fun in the pool, yet they know they are there to learn. One activity that showcased this was a game in which Judy throws balls around the pool. My boys are expected to swim to the balls, not just by floating or kicking, but they are encouraged to use their arms too, something that is not natural for them. Since Judy’s instruction, I can see them getting better with each lesson.

 

12streetkids ollie on back

Currently there is a private lesson that starts right before ours that also has two brothers. I’m guessing these boys are probably about a year older than mine (making them 4 & 5 years old). The oldest boy is already in the pool swimming confidently by himself, while the younger boy is not very far behind. He probably only needs a couple more lessons before he will be swimming on his own.

12th Street Henry rocket arms My boys literally watch the clock until it is time for their swimming lesson. They are excited all day whenever they know they have them.

I know a lot of families taking children’s swimming lessons at the various YMCA’s across the city and are very happy with the results. We did that two years ago and happen to have a very different experience. With the boys being around the ocean and pools for the majority of the summer I was really looking for lessons that were a little more intense to get them swimming a little quicker if possible. My boys love swimming lessons with Judy and as a mom I am really happy with the big smiles on their proud faces and how they are progressing.

Details / Parking

  • The pool is located on the lower level of 12th Street Gym.
  • There is metered parking but during our evening time slot I can never find any so we park in the lot directly across the street which is $8.00.
  • There are plenty of places to go grab dinner at after the lessons.
  • During our lesson there are about three other private lessons going on in the pool. There are chairs and tables around the pool where parents can sit and watch the lessons.
  • There are two showers, a bathroom and a small changing room.

 

 COST:  I will be honest the cost of the class is higher then others. Which is one of the reasons I wanted to share our experience.  The lessons are really good and I am happy with the individual attention the boys are getting in their lessons. I am also happy with how they are progressing and how much they love going to their swimming lessons.

Kids on 12th offers beginner group swim lessons every Tuesday at 4:45 or Saturday at 2:00.  The fee is $96 per child for an 8-week session plus a pool fee of either $10 per child paid at the door every lesson or you can buy a pool membership for $29.95 per month per child with a minimum purchase of 3 months. They also offer private lessons by appointment.  The fee is $35 per child per 45-minute lesson if they take separate lesson or $25 per child per 45-minute lesson if they share the lesson, plus the pool fee.

Dark Star Pirate Cruise

Dark Star Pirate Cruise henry title

Dark Star Pirate Cruise

6200 Park Blvd, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260 

(609) 729-3275 visit website>

DSPC_PIRATE OUTFITWhen a deal for the Dark Star Pirate Cruise popped up on Living Social I grabbed a few and this weekend I treated everyone to a pirate themed Sunday. The Dark Star Pirate Cruise leaves out of Wildwood Crest, NJ. You can buy pirate stuff when you book your tickets but I decided to stop by Halloween Adventure and grab my own stuff. I went overboard and got them hats, hooks and….maybe a parrot for their should. That might have happened. I got the boys outfitted and off we went. There were a bunch of kids dressed up so feel free do what you like.

There was plenty of free parking right across the street from the Starlight Fleet Harbor. Once you get to the harbor the ticket office is around the corner. While you are getting that squared away a pirate crew members has her face paint ready and gives the little ones a quick pirate mustache or beard.

From there you hop on the ship and off you go. The whole boat is open with seats for the parents at the stern and the children sit starboard. That said everyone is really involved during the 60 minute adventure around the bay.

Everything kicks off a little slow but I promise you it picks up. The crew consist of the Captain, two pirate crew members and your man behind the wheel. They entertain the kids and loop in the adults as well with their antics and jokes. It did take the boys a bit to warm up. Honestly I think they were just confused. They knew it was not a real pirate ship but to them a lot of real things were happening. They were not scared just shy.

DSPC MAP

However they warmed up when the pirate treasure map was busted out and the Jolly Rodger was hoisted. Mid-way through the cruise you start to look for treasure but you are “attacked” by another pirate that is also looking for treasure. The “attack” is a rouge pirate that is in a little speed boat that circles your ship. At that moment the kids are told to man the cannons and all the cannons that line the ship turn into powerful water squirters. There is no trigger to pull they just have to aim it at the rouge pirate to protect the ship. This is perfect for the younger ones and makes it really easy for everyone to participate. Around the rouge pirate goes giving the kids plenty of chances to get him. The boys loved this part. The great things is this happen twice during the cruise and by the second time the kids know exactly what they are doing. Everyone does get a little wet during this part but nothing crazy.

DSPC _rouge

The cruise wraps up with the pirate limbo and  everyone helping to pull a treasure chest out of the sea. Each child get’s a piece of treasure and then is sent over to the Captain who serves them some grog…which turns out to be root beer in a little plastic pirate cup they get to keep. By this time the boys were ready for a break and loved that it was root beer. They settled back on their benches and we headed back to port.  The boys got their official pirate certificates and they were all set.

DSPC _ROOT BEER

Verdict. 

The boys had a great time and already asked to do it again. I think you only need to do this once but the the experience was really fun. At 60 minutes it is just long and short enough to be enjoyable. The crew is sweet and makes sure all the children are involved. All the kids wear name tags and they address them by name and incorporate them in everything. I think the boys have a very happy mix up fun and confusion as they tried to figure out if the whole thing was real or not. The ship is also very clean and and new looking. Your not taking off on a rickety bucket. The Living Social deal made it easy for me to invite the grandparents so I would keep an eye out for another one of those. I did find a $2.00 off coupon in the This Week in Cape May booklet. You should be able to use the promo code TWICN14 to take advantage of this. 

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Good to know.

DSC_0487Booking the tickets did not go off without a hitch. When I called to book it I could not get anyone on phone. So I emailed with our Living Social voucher numbers and someone did get back to me. The weekend of the cruise I went back to the email to confirm everything and I noticed they confirmed the right day but the wrong date. I emails to confirm we were set for the right day and date and then in the end 2 hours before we were supposed to leave they canceled the cruise b/c they did not have enough people. We had to rebook for the next day at 11:00 a.m. I’ll be honest I did pitch a tiny fit b/c at that point I was worried the entire thing was either never going to happen or be a total disaster….which thankfully it was not. You might want to confirm your cruise the morning of – just in case.

Tipping is expected at the end of the cruise for the crew. You can place your gratuity in the Captain’s hat on the way out.

DSPC_CREW

Pick the right time because if you take a cruise during the day it is going to be hot out in the bay. You do leave port and drive around the bay but you are never really moving fast enough to be cooled off by a breeze.

YAY CLAY! Studio

YAY Clay! Studio with name

YAY CLAY! STUDIO

3237 Amber Street, Philadelphia, PA 19134 (Port Richmond)

Contact: Keith@madebykeith.com / 201-953-0340

In addition to reporting on the new we also need to update our original favorites on the site. Last week we went back to YAY CLAY! STUDIO in Port Richmond. Clay and pottery classes for toddlers can be hard to find so I was so glad to learn that not only has YAY Clay! been thriving but they have expanded into a new and bigger space.

YAY_04 Keith at the Wheel

YAY_04 dark room

In our original review I called YAY CLAY! one of the citie’s best kept secrets. Even though it is no longer a secret (I hope we helped with that) it is still one of the best “out of the box” options for kids and families.  YAY CLAY! is in the Port Richmond section of the city. Founded by Keith Grabowsky, YAY CLAY provides adult, children and parent / child classes for all ages in free form clay and on the wheel. Another thing I want to call out is if you have a child that is dealing with ADHD, ADD or autism Keith has done some really great work and specializes in working with children that are affected by these issues.

YAY_04 Room with door

Experience.

7.-YAY-CLAY-Keith-and-Henry-1024x812THEM. A lot of thing still hold true about YAY CLAY! Keith is still very kid centric. What I mean by that is he is high energy, uses silly words and makes kids feel comfortable right away. Kids are doing everything there from working on the wheel to working in free form clay. YAY CLAY! has its own kilns and they fire right on site.  This is the only place that I have seen that will put toddlers on the pottery wheel. I didn’t get on one till high school and seeing Henry try it last year was a really cool experience. This was something completely new to him and he loved seeing a lump of “mud” turn into a plate. If you have never thrown a pot before it is hard and messy. Keith sits right down with the kids and helps to guide their hands and introduces different tools  to form the clay.

YOU. YAY CLAY! is a little different from most things I tell you about because this space actually has adults and kids competing for studio time. Date night has also become kinda a thing at the studio. Book some time with Keith, bring in some wine and you can try something new by jumping on the wheel. There is nothing better than outing something fun, new and challenging in the mix with your significant other.

YAY_04 LivingroomEVERYONE.  The new larger space has also become a hot spot for birthday parties for ages 4 and up. YAY CLAY! let’s you be as DIY on hands off as you want. I always appreciate when a place let you bring in your own food to help off set the cost of a party. You can bring in some snacks, cupcakes and have some gourmet hipster pizza’s delivered from  Pizza Brain and can call it a day and actually get to enjoy the party. Keeping with the current trend YAY CLAY! is BYOB  knowing that the official “gift table” with presents piled high has given way to a morning mimosa section for the adults at most parties. Also there is a nice game room to keep the Dad’s happy- complete with vintage video game machines and fussball (pssst….the dart board is behind the studio door).

YAY_04 Birthday

YAY CLAY is a ceramic studio that operates 7 days a week. The studio is open from morning until night and aims to work around parent and children’s schedules – so just let them know what days and times work best for you. You can keep track of what YAY CLAY! is up to on Facebook. If you need any additional information just call Keith directly (information above)!

For all our picture of our experience at YAY CLAY check out HipsterHenry Flickr

 

How to Get there:

Take 95 North to Allegheny Ave. Drive up Allegheny and make a right onto Amber Street. YAY Studio is in the second big brick warehouse space on the right. The building number is clearly marketed on the outside.

YAY_04 outside

Summer at Johnson’s

133 Church Street, Medford, NJ, visit website

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Everyone has a go-to spot with their kids. The silver bullet of fun in an otherwise average day. Ours is Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, NJ. It is a solid 30 -40 minutes away but the boys can literally spend 3 hours there easy. Toss in picking up an easy dinner in the farmer’s market and you can call it a night. If you have never been to Johnson’s click here for the break down.

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If you are a regular then you know about the playground, hayrides and splashpad – the reason why I always have bathing suits and towels in my car. Be sure to check out the new digger section in the Discovery Barnyard.

Johnson’s literally has something going on every night of the week till the end of August.  Tuesday is pay the temp hot dogs and ice cream. Wednesdays are family fun nights 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm  with a theme that changes each week: Pony Palooza, Princess and Pirate Dress-up and Super Hero Dress-up. Fridays are Classic Car Shows and BBQ. Every weekend they have a festival with moon bounces, music, and serve up a special menu.

Superhero night

This weekend is Armed Forces Family Fun Fest….with an actual Black Hawk Helicopter Fly-in, K9 unit dogs, Jugglers, Balloon Art and Face Painting to mention a few things.
Below is their summer calendar which you can also find here on their site. Weather permitting strawberry picking will start at the end of the month followed by cherries and sugar snap peas in June!

 

SUPPA Time

SUPPA OUTSIDE

SUPPA

1040 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

visit site>

Living in NoLibs you learn that nothing is forever in the land of restaurants except the living American Apparel ad that is PYT. However we have a new one on the block and hopefully this one will stick around. SUPPA is in the old Full Plate location at the end of the second block on Liberties Walk. With two jumpy boys in tow I did a “drive by” of the menu at SUPPA and really did not think there was anything for the boys. However when the Thai place on the corner was randomly closed for a Tuesday I marched the crew back to SUPPA and down we sat.

We placed our order at the front, grabbed a few “this is a special night” ginger-ales and took a seat. SUPPA is very welcoming to families. It has a small shelf with some games on it and a few toys that the boys messed around with while they waited for their food. SUPPA is modern, casual and very laid back.  The menu to me is a world tour in casual and eclectic comfort food. From Vietnamese to Middle Eastern they covered all their bases.

 

SUPPA mac n cheeseOur food was out shortly and it was time for the real test to start. I ordered a bowl of  mac-n -cheese (as a peace offering ), falafel sandwich and a steak and rice burrito. Both meals came with a heaping side of popcorn.  The boys happily ate their dinner while we played connect four and looked at their books (this sounds way more peaceful then it was). I had a bite of everything and it tasted great. The mac-n -cheese was creamy and won over my picky eater Ollie.  The burrito was a two hander for Henry and my falafel sandwich was awesome.  The meal was relaxing and uneventful and in my world that is a huge compliment.

*In one of our recent Facebook debates of what makes a good kid’s menu local Mom Jennifer made the comment that she hates when restaurants serve Kraft Mac-n-Cheese. Jennifer would be very happy with SUPPA’s home spun version of yumminess.

Suppa Collage

 

I would go back there again but even now I am looking at the menu on-line and I still think  it “looks” tough for dinner when it comes to kids. I would encourage you to try it because I didn’t  hear a peep out of my picky eaters which says a lot.  But I also am encouraging myself to go back at the same time because they had daily specials on a chalkboard which I missed in the distraction of the boys that sounded really good.

Also they do serve brunch and that menu looks like a no brainer of goodness.

SUPPA MOM AND OLLIE Next time I go I am going to grab one of our board games and bring it along. There is outdoor seating of tables for two that I might try next time with the boys so they can ride their bikes on the walk while we wait or do drive by bites.

Hopefully the husband and wife team of SUPPA can find a home on Liberties Walk with everyone’s support. It also never hurts that Georgeann Leaming co-ower + chef may have won a little Food Network show called CHOPPPED.  Watch episode. I am hoping if Georgeann can take on reality show judges she can take on this finicky hipster neighborhood. 

*Worth Noting. You can park in the parking lot behind Liberties Walk to about 2:00 a.m. if you are a patron of one of the restaurants or shops.

 

Tuesdays: The New Friday

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Miles Table

1620 South St.

Philadelphia PA 19146/ visit site> 

Hours: M-T {8-8:30} Fri-Sat {8-9}  Sun {9-6}

My kids are in the picky eating stage like it is their job right now so when my mom friend told me that I needed to go to Miles Table Restaurant over on South Street it went in one ear and out the other. I love going out to eat. I love not having to clean up the kitchen and I love spending time with the boys instead of making dinner BUT right now that comes at a cost. The cost of ordering food they promise they will eat but never really do. I leave feeling guilty that I have wasted money again just because I wanted a “night off.”

Then my mom friend said the magic words: “Kids Eat Free on Tuesday at Miles Table.” Now we are talking and off we went. MT outside.jpg

Miles Table reminded me a little bit of Marathon when Marathon was good…you know – back when aioli sauce was the new thing.  It is the kind of place that balances good food, modern atmosphere but has no fear catering to families. At Miles you grab a table and place your order at the counter and they bring it out to you. They have a great and varied menu and the food did not come out speedy and it did not take forever either….letting me know that they are making it fresh and nothing is just sitting back there. It gave us plenty of time for me to ask the boys what they did at school and for them to tell me they could not remember. It is a nice little game we like to play everyday.

 

Here is why I liked it:

  • Yes, The kid’s menu is free on Tuesdays but it is still really good. Usually when kids eat free it is the usual quickie suspects.  I just might have tasted my boy’s food…in the name of research…and Henry’s eggs were fluffy and awesome and Ollie’s pasta was perfect. He ate the whole thing. I repeat he ate the whole thing.  Which to me makes anything I have to say in the rest of this review just “filler.”  Their food looked so simple and good that I actually felt bad getting it for free.

Miles Food Collage framed

 

  • BYOB. (enough said)
  •  There is also an ever-changing menu that caters to adults. This means you can go in every Tuesday (let alone everyday) and not eat the same thing.  mt menu.jpg
  • Breakfast all day. (enough said)
  • Atmosphere is upbeat, modern and a little slick. Making me feel like just because I would like to enjoy a meal with my kids I don’t have to give up my desire to be in a place that does not have bright purple walls with circus decals.

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  • They offer gourmet pizza. (enough said). Ollie saw one at another table and told me we would be getting that next time.MT orange juice. .jpg
  • Great coffee and latte options (looking at you new mama’s )
  • The lollipops on the counter were a nice incentive for them to finish their dinner.
  • Henry did not finish everything on his plate and I left with a $12.00 bill and did not feel guilty at all.

What didn’t I like?

When my mom friend asked me what I didn’t like after I thanked her for telling me to go….I said nothing. The only thing I can think of is that Miles Table is not in my neighborhood.

Tips:

  • Keep it fresh by following them on Facebook to see what they are serving daily.
  •  If you have a super picky eater ask them to not put parsley on the buttered pasta.
  • Tuesdays can be a little busy so plan accordingly.
  • Word on the street is that when it is raining outside Miles Table is very quiet so if you prefer to have a quite family dinner celebrate a rainy night at Miles.
  • Parking: You can find a metered spot but if you go back a block or two towards Bainbridge or Fitzwater you will find 2 hour parking.
  • If you take your kids to Center City Pediatrics….consider making a Tuesday night appointment and then grabbing dinner because it is right down the street.

 

The Cat in the Hat

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The Cat in the Hat

Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122 visit site>
Running till June 22nd
 
The Cat in the Hat production at The Arden Theater is great. If you have not taken your child to see a play at the Arden Theater I am going to encourage you to give it a shot. I have been taking the boys since they were two. First I am going to talk about the play and then I am going to “experience pressure you” into thinking about taking your little one.

Cat in the Hat)ollie_ticket framed.jpg The play is on the Arcadia Stage, which is a little smaller than the main stage if you have ever been there. I am going to tell you about the play but I am not going to ruin it for you by telling you about the surprises.

CAT in the hat stage

 The play is an adaptation of the Dr. Seuss’s classic The Cat in the Hat and follows the story but in true Arden tradition they add their own flair.  This play is also 60 minutes long with no intermission (another reason why this is a safe one to try).

Cat in the House balanceThe play had me a little worried because the first 10 minutes are slow as Nick and Sally silently agonize over the prospect of the rainy and boring day that lies ahead of them. The first 10 minutes actually had me thinking this might be the first Arden production that I am not in love but as the performance went on everything came together. Arden performers did what they do best and had everyone laughing and hanging on their every move wondering what they would do next.

It is amazing what a cast of 4 actors, a stage hand and a sound and lighting engineer can put on. The show is funny, creative, and interactive and even has its share of exciting moments. I know for a children’s play it sounds like I am lying but you will have to trust me because I told you I was not going to ruin the surprises for you.  I will tell you that the best seats in the house are row 8 and down (you will see why) and Thing 1 and Thing 2 steal the show and become everyone’s favorite within seconds.

Cat in hat Thing 1 Thing 2The play has what I call Saturday Night Live moments.  After an exceptionally funny line or action the audience reaction is so great that the actors themselves are forced to join you in a laugh or a cracked smile.  After every performance it is an Arden tradition to have the actors come out and answer questions from the audience.  Kids get to ask how they did certain stunts or about their costumes. Then after that the performers go out into the lobby where the children have a chance to ask them more questions and get their picture taken with the cast members.   

Matt and Henry outside of ArdenTaking toddlers to plays… I understand that this might seem a intimidating. The first time I took the boys I went with the understanding that if it didn’t work out we would leave and that would be fine. I also went during the day when they do the school trips. The boys loved watching the other kids and no one is louder than a large group of school kids so your little ones squeaks are hardly an issue. This specific play is only one hour with no intermission. That makes this the best first timer play in the city. If you are on the fence I would say go for it. I am so glad I did because now it is a family tradition that we all look forward to. My boys love to go to the movies but there is nothing like watching them shift in their seats to get a better view of the actors and with their eyes glued to the stage. 

One of my friends made the comment a month ago that on FB it looks like my boys don’t give me a second of trouble and everything looks so easy so I am going to include this picture of me tacking Henry to force him to take a picture with me. I am sure this will look familiar to several of you.

Runaway Henry Framed

GYMNASTICS CLASSES

Let’s talk gymnastics.

I have been on the hunt for a gymnastics class for the boys. I have been over the bridge, through the woods and wound up back in the city after checking out three very different gyms: TNT, Fusion Tumbling and Fitness and Philly InMovement. Here are the three gyms I checked out and where we eventually ended up! We even have a special deal for you on classes if you read all the way to the bottom. Been to one of these gyms and have a comment…please leave one at the bottom!

TNT/ Maple Shade, NJ

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I checked out a competitive gym over the bridge in NJ called TNT (right behind Elite Climbing) thinking that a big gym in the urban-burbs would give the boys a better experience. The gym is great but they were doing the same things as the gyms in the city for the toddler age group and it cost more. I also noticed that while the girls were doing splits and crazy moves on the rings and balance beams the boys in the same age group were climbing ropes and doing push-ups. Now I am not planning for the boys to advance to the Olympics but I was looking for a gym that provided a track for them to advance if they ended up liking it. The waiting room was also jam-packed and overflowing with parents and younger siblings. It was clear that experienced parents got there early and staked their claim on the limited spots to sit. Did the boys like it ? YES- very much. Am I willing to drive over the bridge and pay the higher class fee…no. TNT does let you try a class for free so if you would like to check it out click here. If you have a girl and you really want them in gymnastics you should check it out. Worth noting they are really nice there and signing up the boys for a free class was easy. Ollie decided last-minute that he wanted to do it and started to meltdown in the waiting area. They had the room so they added him to the class on the spot…sparing us all.

Fusion Tumbling and Fitness / Fishtown

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Next I scooted over to Fishtown to check out Fusion Tumbling and Fitness. Fusion Tumbling and Fitness on a Friday night was honestly what the boys needed. It is a big open space with tumbling mats but very little equipment. The parking was easy and it let them get their energy out. But after a few weeks I realized that my boys needed more structure to keep their attention. After talking to a bunch of parents in the class we were all kind of undecided. As parents it was an easy and fun way to end the week but we wanted more equipment …if you asked the kids you would have a hard time getting them to stop and give you an answer because they were more than content to run around and get their sillies out. Philly Fusion is one you have to decide on for yourself. I will tell you that the community is behind this gym and wants them to succeed as do I. Will we check it out again next winter when they have been around a bit longer and it is too cold to run around outside….chances are YES.

Philly InMovement / Queen Village

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It was a birthday party of Henry’s classmate that brought us back to Philly InMovement. The boys loved it and loved working with the instructors. Right now they are taking a class that has six kids with two instructors. Two instructors are key. It allows the kids to keep moving – giving my boys little time to get distracted…seeing that seems to be our current issue. Boys will be boys but I still expect the to pay attention in class…which leaves little room for less structured options.

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What Philly InMovement lacks in space  compared to the other gyms it makes up for in equipment and structure. The program is well planned out and the kids were doing more at Philly InMovement in their age group then the other gyms. The boys did tumbling, moves on the balance beam and the rings and the bars. The boys had fun and at Philly InMovement they do challenge the kids and it is way more than going through the motions. It ended up being the right mix of what I was looking for.

Another point to make….Hello, Helicopter Mom Support Group my name is Sibyl. I think my helicopter mom speed is on low but I will admit I hang out at their classes. With the Philly InMovment classes being a drop off class that is right off South Street I can actually go out and grab coffee or sit in the waiting area, where they can’t see me, and use the WiFi to catch up on work and by work I mean catch up on Facebook.

When I really like a class I want families to get a chance to try it and with parents on the hunt for camps for the summer this is a great way to test the waters. Philly InMovement has been kind enough to open a few spots in their Monday night Mini Rollers/Short Wheelers class for ages 3-5 for HipsterHenry readers. The class has started so you will be prorated AND because you are kind enough to actually take the time to read what I write you will also be getting a 15% off discount when you enter promo code “hipstergym.” The class is on Mondays from 5:45 to 6:30 and will run from April 21st to June 16th (8 weeks) No class on Memorial Day.

To sign up: Go to this link and create an account or sign in if you already have one. https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ASP/home.asp?studioid=6381

1. Go to “kids classes” tab

2. Find “Mini Rollers/Short Wheelers” Mondays 5:45-6:30 and click “sign up now” button

3.Click ‘Enroll”

4. Select “Prorate Standard Class” which is $160 and it will add it to your cart. (if you have a SIBLING click on “Continue Shopping” and go through process again)

5. Put ‘hipstergym’ in PROMO BOX and click “Apply” for a 15% discount

6. Click “Check Out” to go through payment process

 *Please note that the sibling discount is only an option when signing up for a full session (first class was March 31st)

Happy tumbling and I hope this helped you find the right gym for your family.

 

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