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Philly summer begins! Settling in, trains, and dinosaurs

We’re in Philadelphia for 8 weeks this summer!

I know it’s going to fly by. Indeed, a week has already gone. But it was a bit of a settling in week, and our au pair took the traveling opportunity to take a vacation and MJ spent the week in NYC for work, so I was here solo with the boys. I took Monday off from work to get the house step up, grab groceries, complete a bunch of tasks, and get our babysitter for the week settled in. We secured our babysitter through a service and it worked out really well, but even with the help it was a challenging week. Plus, I simply missed MJ and was grateful when he got back on Friday night.

All things considered, the boys did really well, but they were suddenly shifted into a very different place and schedule, so we had some tough moments and sleep wasn’t quite where it needed to be. On Monday I made up little cards with activities on them so the boys knew what options they had, from Play-Doh to playing outside in the sprinkler, and we really lucked out with hot, dry weather making all the options available to them. Still, they were stuck close to home. To help with this, one evening after work I took them out to Target (which they enjoy!), and another evening was spent the library and playground. The library was fun for me too, I decided not to bring physical books with me on this visit even though I have a couple in progress, and instead just requested the books for pickup at my local library here. It worked beautifully!

Since we put the boys together in a room recently, I also had to set that up. We arranged delivery of Aaron’s bed, but it didn’t arrive until Tuesday so I brought up the crib mattress to their room and Aaron slept on the floor for a couple nights. Not optimal, but we all survived and I was able to assemble his new bed on Tuesday evening and get the room all set up. The only remaining problem is how bright it is in the morning even with blackout curtains. The curtains simply don’t provide enough coverage, and they’re waking up much too early. We’ve ordered some more comprehensive window coverings and will install those soon.

There were also some bugs. A hole in our sliding screen door out to the deck let in wasps that made a small nest between the screen door and the glass door. This is not a new problem, so we had some wasp spray already and I soaked the nest and was rid of it by Wednesday. There were also tiny ants near that door, and when we picked up the ant traps at Target it was immediately clear that we aren’t the only ones with that problem, they were nearly out of stock! Yuck. It’ll take some time to finish eradicating the ants, but we’re making progress.

With our new found love of Lego, I had promised Adam we could get a battery-operated Lego train set once we got to Philly. He’s been watching videos on YouTube about this train and some others, so was pretty excited, and on Saturday we got to work on it, and swiftly got the engine done so we could actually run it on the track, hooray! We still have the other two passenger cars to build.

The rest of Saturday was spent close to home as MJ did a bunch of house tasks and then we spent the late afternoon and evening visiting with family. For dinner, we went out with MJ’s step sister and her son, and Aaron had some delightful cousin time. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream, which the boys managed to cover themselves in. Oof. It’s a good thing we still pack a change of clothes when we go out to eat.

Sunday we met up with them again to go downtown! The boys finally got to go on a SEPTA Regional Rail train, which they’ve been asking to do forever.

From Suburban station, we walked over to the Academy of Natural Sciences to see dinosaurs!

Last time we went was back in December and I think Aaron was a little surprised and scared at just how big dinosaurs were. Now a full 5 months later, he seems to have made peace with it and had a wonderful time. He also really loved being there with his cousin, who he’d insist would join him at various animal displays.

After the museum, the boys were delighted to take bus (SEPTA slinky bus!) over to Reading Terminal Market, which the boys had never been to and I hadn’t been to for years. I forgot how overwhelming it is there, but we managed to find food that we were all happy with and even found a table where all 6 of us fit. At the end we picked up some treats! We caught a 2PM train back home.

This week our au pair is back with us and we’re settling in to what we developed as our regular summertime routine. I’m working loosely 9AM-5PM east coast time and building out all our activities around that. Over the weekend we booked a weekend at the New Jersey shore, and bought tickets to a Phillies game that we’ll be attending with some family and friends later this month. Investing in a vacation home here was always a bit of a gamble, but I’m grateful we’re able to finally spend a bunch of time here, using it precisely for what we always intended. It should be a great summer.