Friday, August 21, 2009

11. Philadelphia – the final chapter


So we head, again, back to the land we adore, the city of brotherly (and sisterly) love…..


It’s Andre’s first chance to be in our home town and he will spend his first day here watching over the health and safety of 7 children.

That’s right, I’m taking off again!  Every year for about 4 or 5 years my good friend Heather and I have had a Mom’s Day Out.  Of course, we planned on doing it for this trip and I’d been looking forward to it for months (or possibly ever since the last time was over).  We had an amazing day together.  We left around 10am and started out with pedicures (the 3rd time I’ve ever had one, thanks) and then headed over to Village Thrift. I am a dedicated thrifter and one of the things I miss the most about Philadelphia is all the amazing deals I can get.  We ate lunch and then started thrifting. (Yes, in my world, ‘thrift’ is a verb)  We actually ended up spending 5 hours in the store.  That’s right, 5 wonderful hours, wandering through the aisles, trying on clothes, chatting, gossiping… oh, and that would be with no children at our knees and no sense that we had to rush to get back to…. well, anything!  It was heaven!  Plus, I only spent about $20.00! Mindful of the space constraints, I ended up with only a groundhog beanie baby (I was born on groundhog day, plus they are Andre’s favorite animal), a pair of jeans and 2 tops, a book, four water guns and the game Twister (I know, you are thinking, Twister?? But, hey, according to wikipedia this game is nothing less than ‘sex in a box’.  Also, It was 85 cents, and brand new – I couldn’t resist!)

We had dinner and then went to a movie too (soooooo decadent) – we saw My Sister’s Keeper, which, as a parent, was terrifying (what if my kid gets cancer?) and depressing (I must have cried about 10 times) but a very good film nonetheless. I didn’t get home until after 10pm and all the kids were already asleep – what bliss!  It’s days like that that keep me going. Can’t wait until next year.

Meanmini_P230709_19.21while, back on the ranch, Andre’ and the kids spent the morning together doing essential chores like  ordering Zander’s birthday cake at Acme and purchasing Moose Tracks ice cream.  In the afternoon into the early evening they  went over to Heather’s house where Heather’s mom and Andre’ kept 7 kids occupied all afternoon – even though it was pouring rain all day long and NO outside play was possible!  Andre’ says he used the divide and conquer strategy to help them all get along, and it worked pretty well.  Zander had a great time building with Jackson’s Kinex and playing with Colin as well.  Take a look at the car he built in the video below.  Around 5 or so, Jeremy came home from work and helped out as well to get dinner together.  Then my crew headed over to Shana’s for bedtime.  Whew!


The next day we hung out with Shana, Greg, Ayla, Baz and Isa in the morning.  I love the video above of Griffin dancing mini_DSC00767with Ayla and Isa – obviously they prescribe to the ‘twirl around’ school of dance, whereas my son is more of a breakdancer type – Isa starts to get into his groove by the end though.  Then we headed over to almost the last item on our ‘have to do when we visit home’ list – Chumini_DSC00768ck E. Cheese – where, as the commercials claim, a kid can be a kid: (and a parent can relax in air conditioning)  While there we met up  with Callie’s dear friend and most faithful pen pal, Cloe, and her mom Hana, plus her younger brother, Sam.  It was great to eat overpriced, greasy pizza and watch the kids have fun on lots of little games together.  Cloe took Callie home with her for a fun-filled afternoon of hanging out together while the rest of us hit a local thrift store for new hats and a few pieces of luggage to replace some stuff that was literally breaking to pieces after our sustained travels. On the way home from this I stopped off to say hello at The Big Backyard. This is the cooperative pre-school I have known and loved for about the past four years and I would say a MAJOR part of my existence for the 3 before I came to France.  In fact, I was the president for the 2007-2008 school year.  It was fun to see old familiar faces, especially Judith, the director, but it was also a bit strange for me. I gmini_DSC00750uess, on a lot of levels, I thought of BBY as my home, and, returning, I realize I just plain don’t belong there any longer.  Oh strange inquietude…

mini_DSC00751In the early afternoon we headed over to one of only 3 circus schools in the entire country – the Philadelphia School for Circus Arts  Located only a few minutes away from our home in Philly – it is a wonderful place to promote circus.  Also, it just happens to be owned by my amazing friend, Shana, (the one, left, way up in the silks) who we are staying with the next few days.  Go Shana!  We got to hang out there and spent a long time playing around in the school, mostly with the silks.  Griffin loved it, as you can see, but Zander was the most fascinated – I think circus class may be in his futmini_DSC00752ure when we come back home.  Of course, the silks are perfect for peek-a-boo as you can see with Isa, below left. The Kennedy Clan is just another amazing set of people to be around.  They have 3 mini_DSC00748little ones, just likmini_DSC00749e us, and adore traveling. Shana and Greg were both trained in European circus schools.  Greg, Shana’s spouse, is a world famous juggler – see his website at (and take the time to watch a video – you won’t regret it).  He was accepted as a major act in the next version of Cirque du Soleil – giant happy dance!  This means mini_P240709_16.50[02]that, around the time we are returning to ‘normal’ US life, my good friends will be leaving to be a traveling circus family for 3-5 years. You thought we were adventurous? I’ve got nothing on these folks! We will miss them but can’t wait to hear all about their adventures abroad. We hung out that evening with the Kennedy’s while Daddie went to meet up with his AgilePhilly compatriots. Due to some miscommunications, he ended up spending about an hour and a half waiting outside a restaurant and eventually coming home only to find out his friends were at a table inside – how disappointing for all involved!  I felt especially sad, since I have been having so many wonderful opportunities to hang out with my friends this vacation. Poor Andre’ only had a solo trapeze act….

The next mini_DSC00760morning Andre’ and Shana ran in the local 5K called Run for the Hill of It along the Wissahickon.  I took a yoga class at my old gym, FitLife, and the kids hung with a P250709_15.50babysitter.  We then had lunch at Pete’s  Pizza – cheesesteaks and Italian stromboli (both on our ‘must eat this while at home’ list) and then headed back to Gowen Circle for our final chance to hang with friends.  This was our way of reconnecting one last time with anyone that we didn’t get a chance to see up until that point, and to reconnect with many we had seen as well.  It started at 2:30 but we had no guests at all arrivP250709_15.50[02]e for the first hour or so.   This was a major bummer to Zander, as you can see, since this was also sort of supposed to be his birthday party. We had told him it wouldn’t really be like a normal party – but he was hoping anyway!  Then the first person who showed up was my great old  college fencing teammate (they just keep on popping up, don’t they?), Jill!  I was so happy to see her – she has been fencing again and has lost tons of weight and just in general seems happy and great.  I was also glad to finally meet the kids of her significant other, Josh.  Soon afterwards, everyone started showing up.  I was especially happy to see Eric, one of Zander’s good friends from the Big Backyard and then, also, at Jenks.  I think he literally grew a foot since last summer!  Also there were: Heather’s family, Shana’s family, Catherine’s family, Cloe’s family, Phoebe’s family, Rodi’s family, Sienna’s mom Sara, and Julie’s family (I think I got everyone – there were lots of folks!)   I tried to get them to play a French game with us but it was hard getting everyone organized – I was lucky to even get them to be sort of still long enough for this photo, but here they are, on the hill next to our house.  Left to right we have: Pheobe, Alexa, Kara (standing), Callie, Noemie, Cloe, Eric, Jackson, Colin, Zander, Isa, Ayla, Baz, Peter, Joanna, Rachel and Griffin!  (Missing but at the party were Tyler, Eleanor, and Miriam)


mini_P250709_17.11 Then we cleaned up and and headed over to the Trolley Car Diner for onmini_P250709_17.12[01]e last dinner – 3 or 4 families came with us and we walked.  It is funny how much the walk itself was valuable.  I really miss our little block!  So many of our neighbors had beautiful flowers and plants and it was great fun just to observe the kids holding hands, talking and bonding as they walked along the lane.  And, of course, then there was ‘the wall’.  This wall saved my life 2 summers ago when we had no car and I was walking everywhere.  The only way we made it up that final hill was the promise of a walk along the wall that runs at the edge of the New Covenant Campus.  Here are some shots of the kids walking along it.

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     My only regret over this gathering was that I truly didn’t have enough time to chat with all the friends who came. I wish I could have spent hours and hours with you all.  Until next year, friends!

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