More than 80 campers were lined up in the shade outside the National Constitution Center wearing matching red t-shirts. I spotted them right away and knew that my little happy camper was standing there among them anxiously awaiting his chance to see a set of George Washington’s original false teeth. As I joined the rowdy group, I was given a cheerful “chaperone” sticker. It was my Soldier Boy’s first trip to the NCC and I wanted to be there for it.
I have visited the NCC many times since moving to Philadelphia last fall. I’ve been as a tourist who wants to know more about the Constitution. I’ve been as a freelancer working with the NCC’s marketing department. Whether I’m there for fun or for work, I always discover something new about the Constitution and our country. And each each time I go, I’m reminded that my knowledge of “We the People” is, in a word, inadequate. This was to be my first visit with the Soldier Boy – my nine year old American history buff – and I was determined to learn alongside him and experience the NCC from his perspective.
We made our way into the NCC’s feature exhibition for summer, Discover the Real George Washington. The children immediately crowded around the glass display of Mount Vernon. Side Note: Even in miniature, Mount Vernon is majestic. I could tell the boys were excited because their voices grew louder (in spite of being reminded to use “inside voices”). Not a one could help but touch the glass (in spite of being told not to — repeatedly). And in that moment, I remembered why I don’t volunteer to chaperone field trips anymore.
Meandering through the exhibition, I tried to keep my kid close so we could examine each display. It wasn’t easy with that many campers swarming the halls and I know we missed some good things. But GW’s dentures did not disappoint. They were fascinating and gross. We studied them as long as we could, carefully considering what it must have felt like to wear such a contraption in our mouths. After much discussion, we decided to be thankful for modern dentistry.
Next stop was the Kimmel Theater for Freedom Rising, a multimedia presentation highlighting themes of the Constitution. We found our seats in the round theater and watched with wide eyes as the show revealed the compelling impact the Constitution has had on our nation – past and present. Side Note: Grab a tissue on the way in because Freedom Rising will make your eyes well up with tears and your heart swell with pride. Want a sneak peek? View a trailer of Freedom Rising.
The Core Exhibition was next. Again, the kids were swarming the touch screens and interactive displays. My personal favorite was the American National Tree, which celebrates 100 Americans who have shaped the nation’s history. The Boy and I looked for faces we knew and learned about the ones we didn’t. Side Note: Each year the NCC adds a new profile. The next one will be added during the Constitution Day Celebration on September 16, 2011.
When we stepped into the hallowed space of Signers’ Hall, the crazy campers had no reverence for it. Fortunately, the NCC staff were used to it and shared an insane amount of information about the lifelike bronze statues of the original signers of (and the three who refused to sign) the Constitution. The Boy signed a copy of it himself under GW’s watchful eye.
We separated from the group and discovered one more opportunity to enjoy our time at the NCC with the Giant Board Game in the Grand Hall Lobby. The Boy became the game piece and was asked a number of questions about the Constitution and American history. He answered every question correctly and won! Tired –and happy we got to see the teeth – we left the NCC knowing we’d return again soon.
The NCC has a robust daily program calendar and hosts a many special events throughout the year. In the lobby, Delegates’ Café serves an affordable lunch with a nice menu and you can dine there any time without touring the NCC. I’m a fan of the Maple Chicken Sandwich. The Newspaper Man likes the garden salad (and it’s under $4!).
Ending Soon: Discover the Real George Washington is open through this Sunday, September 5, 2011. And the kids free summer promotion ends that day as well. So if you don’t have plans this weekend, now is the time to take the family down for gander at GW’s false teeth.
Save the Date: The Constitution Day Celebration is coming up on September 16, 2011 (Constitution Day is actually the 17th). Witness a Naturalization Ceremony, watch the American Tree Induction Ceremony (with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) or play Who Wants to Be a BILL-ionaire to celebrate the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.
Location: On Independence Mall
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Only Blocks from Independence Hall
Sunday to Wednesday: 9:30-5:00
Parking: The NCC has a parking garage that can be entered from Race Street. If it’s early enough, I circle the block to search for street parking on Arch Street right in front of Ben Franklin’s final resting place at the Christ Church Cemetery. It’s a bit more affordable than the garage, but the time limit is three hours so plan accordingly.
Do you know where this snapshot was taken? If so, post a comment below to enlighten the rest of my followers and feel free to share your thoughts on this inspiring place!
Extra credit goes to the person who can tell me what my Soldier Boy is doing!
It was Friday night. We had a nice weekend planned visiting friends and family down in Maryland, so I needed to make a quick run to Target (FYI: I’ll use any excuse to go to Target).
While I was gone, Miss Sassafras took a head-first dive off our bed. When the husband called to tell me how upset she was, I instructed him to keep her awake until I got home. It was nearly bedtime and she had been at the beach all day.
I left Target immediately – unfulfilled I might add.
Two minutes from home the phone rang again and the report wasn’t good. Miss Sass had begun to vomit, which is a symptom of head trauma and usually means concussion (or worse). After a few frantic calls to the pediatrician, she and I dashed off to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (locally known as CHOP).
The drive downtown was nerve wracking. Of course, every idiot in Philadelphia was on the road and in my way. I was already tense about finding CHOP without getting lost (and thus delaying treatment). It didn’t help that she wanted to sleep and I wasn’t really sure I should let her. I tried to keep her awake. After she puked a few more times, her head eventually went limp and she was ‘out’.
It was a scary kind of ‘out’. It was the kind of ‘out’ that comes with complete and utter loss of muscle control. She was entirely limp. Her head wasn’t nestled comfortably into the side of the carseat. It was dangling in front, chin to the chest and flopping around as we zoomed down the Schuylkill. It was terrifying.
We made it to CHOP fairly quickly and to my relief she woke up and walked into the ER on her own. She was almost immediately triaged by a friendly male nurse who could tell right away she was green around the gills. He agreed she probably had a concussion and sent us back to the waiting room. It was there that we sat, vomit bucket in hand, communing with hacking coughers and kids with broken arms.
The chairs were uncomfortable. She was cold. I put her in my lap, facing me to help warm her up. Probably not the wisest decision I’ve ever made because she started puking again. Most of it ended up down my shirt. Another mother took mercy and brought me some paper towels. I felt obliged to explain “this vomit is not contagious,” to anyone within earshot. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), Miss Sass had emptied the contents of her stomach hours earlier so I only had gastric juices and bile all over me. To my surprise it dried quickly. It was the odor that remained with me.
After about two hours, we were put in a room in the ER. They checked her vitals, attached monitors and told us she would need a CT scan. Later they checked her vitals again. Another couple of hours later, they carted her up stairs for the scan. Another hour later, the results came back all clear. We tried to give her fluids, but the puking continued. The resident wanted her admitted and that took another hour or two to execute. We finally got a regular hospital room around 6 a.m. This time, we both passed out.
She awoke around nine feeling rejuvenated and hungry. I woke up disoriented and groggy – like I was the one with a concussion – but the change in her demeanor was promising. The nurse gave us a menu and I ordered Miss Sass’s breakfast – chocolate chip pancakes and yogurt. I prayed it would stay down. I wanted no part of chocolate upchuck cakes.
In the meantime, a Play Coordinator came by and took Miss Sass’s “toy order”, which consisted of a doll house, crayons, stickers and paper. A little while later, the PC returned with the toys. About that time breakfast arrived. My little sassafras was right at home eating breakfast in bed surrounded by toys. I told the staff they were making it too comfortable for her and she would never want to go home with treatment this posh.
Breakfast appeared to be staying down and the hubby and Soldier Boy arrived a little while later to relieve me. I was only home about an hour when I got a text that she was being discharged. *WHAT A RELIEF* I passed out in the bed and stayed there most of the day. They arrived home a short time later and Miss Sass snuggled up with me. Before long she was hopping around and raring to go.
5 Things I Learned on My First ER Visit to CHOP:
- Some waiting rooms can bring an excruciatingly new meaning to the term “waiting”.
- Chairs in ER exam rooms are only comfortable for about an hour. Anything after that and you’ll wish you’d brought a camping cot with you.
- You don’t have to imbibe in happy hour or party all night to wake up with a hangover.
- It’s good to have hard-headed children – no matter how frustrating they are at times.
- I have many blessings to count today. Our visit was brief. Our departure was cheerful. That’s not always the case as I learned when the elevator I was on picked up a weary parent from the oncology floor.
Thanks CHOP for the quality care you gave Miss Sass and that you are giving so many other children. My wait was worth it. I pray that other parents’ waits are too.
So … um, yeah … this is a bit awkward. As you probably haven’t noticed, I haven’t been around here in a while.
There’s no real excuse for it, but I’m going to make one anyway.
I was busy.
Last time I posted, things were chugging along fine at The 502. Spring was in the air and the little league baseball season was about to commence. All that snow was a fading memory.
Then the landlord called.
See, he wanted to put The 502 on the market before summer. The concept was all fine and good except for three things:
1) Our lease lasted until September
2) We still had three+ months before school ended
3) We were so crammed into the place anyone coming by to see it wouldn’t really be able to see it.
Still, this was our chance to leave The 502 behind and get comfortable in a more permanent place. So we set forth on finding another new residence. In a matter of weeks, we found our place and moved. Again. And for the second time in 18 months, we chose to move back to the city – this time to Philadelphia (last time to Birmingham).
We’re living in Chestnut Hill to be specific. We’re so happy with our new ‘hood (yeah, we liked Narberth too, but it wasn’t going to work for us long term). We live one block from the train station and half a block from the shopping on Germantown Avenue. Our street is packed with families. We feel at home. I guess city neighborhoods just suit us better.
The decision to move into town came with complications. Soldier Boy had to finish out the school year and was already playing baseball in Lower Merion. Miss Sassafras was still enrolled in daycare in Narberth and taking swim lessons at Friends Central. I was juggling three clients. Hey, I’m not complaining. But I was BUSY.
I was making two round trips (sometimes three) from Chestnut Hill to Narberth to deliver and retrieve the kids from school / sports. I did it for almost two months. It was pretty miserable and reminded me to appreciate the fact that most days my commute is about 15 footsteps from my bed. Once school ended, the summer camp routine began – schedules, day trips, supplies, etc.
To say the last few months have been intense is an understatement. Heck, the last five years have been intense. And even though my office (and some other rooms) are still stacked with moving boxes, there’s a certain tranquility creeping in these days.
Maybe it’s there because we won’t have the rug pulled out from under us in Chestnut Hill like we did at The 502.
I think it has more to do with moving from the outside in. Hello Philly. It’s good to call you home.
Finally! Some “snow” I’m happy to see!
These snowdrops are a welcome change from the deep layer of snow that blanketed Philly from Christmas to March.
Welcome spring! It’s good to see you again even if it’s one day at a time!
After last Friday’s beautiful weather, I mistakenly praised Punxatawny Phil for such a fortuitous and accurate prediction of early spring. Considering it’s my first winter North of the Mason-Dixon line and the whole Eastern seaboard has oohd and aahhd over this rodent year-in and year-out my entire life, I was hopeful that the groundhog’s forecast would indeed be reliable. I believed him. Or at least, I wanted to.
Alas, I was betrayed. Betrayed by cheerful whiskers that greeted us with good news I was all too eager to accept as fact. I guess spring time in February was just too much to expect this far North because I awoke this morning to a fresh blanket of snow and a 2 hour delay at school. After a stressful Monday managing clients and kids, that is not the news I wanted to hear at 6:30 this morning.
Next year, I’ll be more skeptical of the groundhog. Next year, I’ll be less naïve when he does or doesn’t see his shadow. Next year, I’ll be spending late February in Florida for spring training.
This transplanted Georgia peach can dream can’t she?
I was flying solo with the kids last night and knew early in the day that I would not feel like making dinner. So we took a special trip out to Wayne, PA, to visit PBandU, a kid-friendly eatery that specializes in peanut butter sandwiches. That’s right, peanut butter sandwiches.
These sandwiches are nothing like the PB&J’s of my childhood. JIF and Bama jelly smeared between two slices of Wonder Bread and stuffed in a plastic baggy –mushy, twisted and warmed courtesy of the hot Georgia summer.
No, these are “fancy” PB&J sandwiches which you can tailor to your mood or taste. That’s right “U” can skip the “J”, customize the bread, choose the fixin’s and even go crazy with the peanut butter. *stomach rumbling? read on*
The sandwich that tops the menu is the PB and bacon, cheese & pickle. Yes, I know. It sounds odd. PBandU convinced me (via Twitter) to “try the PB, bacon, cheddar, pickle – no kidding, it tastes like a burger! trust me – it’s amazing! The sweet and salty combo is always a good thing.” And I figured “why not?”
While it was unusual, it was also quite delicious – and gone in a few short minutes. I gave the kids their choice and they went for a PB and nutella, fluff & m&m’s sandwich each. Yes, I know. I’m a bad mommy for serving my kids m&ms IN their dinner, but hey… sometimes you gotta let things slide.
The soldier boy gobbled his up faster than you can say George Washington Carver. Miss Sassafras took longer and we ended up saving half of her sandwich for lunch tomorrow. Lord, what will her teacher think when Miss Sass opens her lunchbox at school … She’ll probably think “Yum! Where can I get a sandwich like that?”
The PBandU menu is pretty robust and includes your choice of peanut butters– smooth, crunchy, “homestyle” (which is described as between smooth and crunchy) and chocolate. You can choose from a list of pre-determined sandwiches like the ones we had or you can customize your sandwich by adding apples, bacon, carrots, pound cake, pretzels, chocolate chips, fluff, cream cheese, jelly (of course, in three flavors) and an assortment of other fixin’s. There are a variety of breads to choose from as well, including bagels and Gluten-free bread.
My kids are anxious to get back to PBandU. It’s a good thing I liked the atmosphere as much as the sandwich. The restaurant was cheerful, airy, colorful, kid-friendly and well-branded. The tables are shaped like peanuts and one wall is covered in compelling peanut factoids my son was all over. They’ve got a play room in the back where the kids can keep busy while sandwiches are being made or while I check email via the complimentary wifi.
Next time you’re out in Wayne and in need of a great, affordable place to feed the family stop in PBandU for some new, old-fashioned comfort food. Winter hours are Monday-Friday 10-8, Saturday 10-10 and Sunday 10-6. If you’re taking tots, be sure to bring them in clothes that can handle a little bit of mess. The PB and nutella with fluff was too sloppy for Sunday clothes. When we visit again I’ll also remember to bring a pack of wet ones to wipe down hands and faces afterwards.
163 East Lancaster Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087
484 367 7799
“We had to walk in the snow two miles to get to school … It was up hill both ways.”
The Soldier Boy’s walk isn’t up hill – and it isn’t even that far –but this is the kind of winter storm that would have closed my little elementary school down South for a whole week. It’s piling up on top of a permafrost of snow already 4-6″ high.
And as I wonder if I’ll ever see the ground again, I keep reminding myself:
Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Only 18 days ’til pitchers and catchers report.
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t been around too much lately. That’s because I started a big marketing collateral development project for one of my clients. It’s basically taking up normal working hours and then some, which doesn’t leave much time for exploring the city and writing. As much as I’ve enjoyed the leisurely pursuit of all things Philly since we moved here in October, paying the bills is first priority and thus this project is first priority.
It is my hope that as the project continues (and I become more comfortable with it) I will be able to improve the work life balance so that I can have the time I need –and desperately desire—to focus on content for the PhiladelphiaOutsider.com. Remember, I said ‘hope’ because with all marketing collateral development projects, there is a flurry of activity that begins after the design concept has been established and before the content is approved… and then another flurry begins when the final content is being incorporated into the design and reviewed for approval. It can be a clunky, messy process and it’s right up my alley. But it could keep me tied up, so remember I said I ‘hope to improve the work life balance’.
I’ve missed running around town looking for interesting places or things to do. In fact, I’ve felt pretty disconnected from Philadelphia ever since the project began. That’s probably because I spend almost all day everyday in the home office at my desk. It’s a quiet place to work. But it’s also lonely. So I’ve decided I’m going to try to “office out” at least one morning each week. Pack up the old laptop and find an interesting coffee shop or beautiful train station to work from for a few hours. That’ll help me feel connected again.
I’m taking suggestions. What’s your favorite place around town to set up shop for a few hours?