I think Monday was the busiest day of our vacation. We left Aunt Melodie’s at around 8am and made it to Philadelphia by around 10:15. Then we stopped at Flocco’s http://www.floccos.com/, our favorite local shoe store to get the kids some new shoes. Freshly outfitted we headed over to Gowen Circle and spent about half an hour wandering around our house. You can see Callie standing next to the trunk of our giant sycamore – of course we gave it a hug! The house looks great (as you can see, right)--the yard is taken care of and all my neighbors report that the tenants are very nice people. Hooray! Then we stopped in briefly at Tot Lot to see some old friends and say hello… That was strange – saddest part was finding out the super steep, old school ‘dangerous’ slide had been removed. Another victory for paranoia…. sigh… Next we headed over to the Fairmont neighborhood. We lived in Fairmount before Mt. Airy and driving in was the first time I saw the classic Philadelphia city skyline. I actually teared up, if you can believe that! We spent lunch with Rachel, Jessi and Jacob - our old and dear friends – it was so great to see them. The kids played a classic game of paper bag monster while we chatted. Rachel and I met when we were both pregnant for the second time and Callie and Jacob were born only one day apart in the same hospital! Each year we try to get together near their birthdays – one year we even had a joint party – and then they kiss each other! I tried to recreate the photo again at this visit – Callie was more than willing but Jacob, well, not so much! Rachel still says he cites Callie when asked who he will one day marry. Hey, if it ever happens, this blog called it first!
Do you realize it is still only early afternoon on MONDAY! Oh yes, there’s much more! Zander really wanted to play at the amazing Jenks playground one day so we headed over. French readers, take note, this is what a primary school playground should look like! While there we reconnected with AJ, Elah and Adi as well as Leah, Mikeala and Anya. It was great to play at Jenks and catch up with old friends. I was a bit sad that Griffin and Anya didn’t reconnect – they used to be so close! But I guess, for 3 year olds- 9 months is a long, long time! Elah and Callie had a great time together though! Then all three families went out to Chinese (Peking Duck and Mongolian Lamb – awesome) at the King’s Garden. Finally we arrived at Grace’s house and, after getting the kids to bed, I was up until about midnight catching up with her! My voice was actually strained by the end of all this. I think, for so many months, I haven’t been blabbing like crazy (which is what I usually do) and my vocal cords are out of shape!
On Tuesday we hung out in the morning with Silvia. I made crepes for everyone. I shall transcribe here the fabulous conversation I overheard Callie and Sylvia having. Don’t ask me how this one got started!
Syl (5) and Callie (6) on war….
S: I hate war
C: Me too!
S: You know, Cal. I’m Quaker, so that means I don’t believe in war.
C: But Syl, war is real. Actually, there are wars happening for real right now.
S: I know, but I’m never going to want to go to war.
C: Me neither.
S: If they ask me to go to war, I’ll just say no – because war is so bad.
C: Well, but, you know, you might end up like my Grandpa. He didn’t want to go to war but he had to. He had to because it was his duty. Do you know what duty is Syl?
C: Duty is what you have to do even if you don’t want to do it
S: Oh, so maybe I’ll be lucky and not have to go to war – or maybe unlucky and have a duty
C: Well, actually he was lucky!
C: Because he survived!
Soon we were joined by more pals. It was terrific to see Aiden and Liam and Collette--the best seeing how Zander just ran off to play with them – they were immediately engrossed in a fabulous cowboy fantasy. This is the kind of play Zander really, really misses in France so I was happy to see he got to do a bit of it with his old friends. It’s funny, how different kids and adults relate. When I see my friends, it’s catching up time: how are you? what have you been doing? what’s changed since I last saw you? etc…… etc…. I mean, for Collette and her family, it’s new jobs, new house etc… etc.. inquiring minds want to know! For Callie and Zander, it’s just hi and then straight to playing together again – there is no sense that time has passed at all. Hopefully that will hold another year and transitioning back home will be easy.
For lunch we headed over to Smith Playhouse - http://smithkidsplayplace.org/ This is an amazing Philadelphia institution that gets better year after year – no visit would be complete without a trip (or 10) down the 40 foot wooden slide! There we met up with my old college fencing teammate turned amazing friend and confidante, Sarah and, of course, her wonderful offspring, Maevelita (they call her Maeve, but I have a thing for nicknames for special people in my life. I was ‘day-care’ for Maeve from about 6 weeks old to about 9 months and this child has such a special place in my heart. The thing that is so wonderful, though is how, even 2 years later, Maeve still remembers me. She looks at me and a little gleam goes into her eyes… hey… I know you! I guess taking care of her as a baby made an indelible impression in her mind. I was delighted, as always, with all the new improvements being made at Smith – including this vending machine – yes, it vends out diapers, baby wipes, band aids and hand sanitizer – every kids’ playground needs one! We spent the rest of the afternoon together. Sarah and I split a giant funnel cake sundae at the local ice cream place near Smith. I usually refer to this place as the Ghetto Cream, since it is in a bit of a dicey area – but, you can’t beat the taste, or the price at this place. That giant thing, actually needing a BOX to support it, costs less than 5 dollars! We then headed over to the Wissahickon, visiting our ‘secret’ beach – Maeve and Zander had tons of fun together
getting messy and building a fairy pool at the side of the stream. Sarah and I talked and talked and talked and then we talked some more. I really miss talking to her! We could always chat for hours…. sniff! Her online business, definitely check it out for amazing skin and health products can be found at: http://www.lilithsapothecary.com/Index.aspx She is getting so successful with it, she can’t keep up with her life and her normal 9-5 job! I wish all the best for her – hang in there Sarita-chen! Unfortunately, the only shot I got of my dear friend was when she was helping her daughter over the rough rocks by the edge of the stream…. Sorry mom – that’s what happens once you’ve got kids!
We headed back to Grace’s for one more night. Eric, an expert wilderness survivalist, spent an hour or more showing Zander how to make fire with a bow – yeah, that’s right – truly amazing! Of course, Zander was fascinated, and frankly, I was too – it was incredible how fast it actually got hot. I have the coolest friends on the planet, right? I know whose house I’m headed for if Armageddon comes a’ knocking! Unfortunately, they never actually ended up getting the coal to catch on the tinder – but it was awesome anyway. Thanks Eric, Grace and Syl – for being there for us! Tomorrow it’s cousin time – hip, hip, hooray!