PittsburghMom

PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Heather Starr Fiedler.  Heather created PittsburghMom in March 2008 and began this journey.  Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (9) and Benjamin (7), a college professor and General Manager of PittsburghMom. She's busy, but not too busy to blog about her sometimes serious, sometimes painful and often humorous thoughts on life and share her favorite Pittsburgh spots for families.

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Flying solo is easier than it used to be

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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My husband was traveling this week. He spent the week in Seattle, WA. This is his second trip this month and he will travel again in November to LasVegas for a week. I had a lot of time to think while he was away about our differences in routine when we have two parents in the house every day versus one.

When my children were very little he used to travel an average of one week a month. Looking back now, I'm not really sure how I got through that. It certainly was challenging. I remember finding it most difficult in the summer when I was home with them all day. I actually preferred going to work when I could get a little bit of a break and some adult time and only had to find a few hours worth of "toddler entertainment activities" a day. But somehow I survived it and I seem to of forgotten much of how hard it was.

Now my children are seven and nine and life is really so much easier. I kind of chuckled to myself this week when I sent them upstairs to take a bath and get their pajamas on and read their library books while I did my exercise video. A few years ago that whole concept would have been so foreign to me. But just like I asked, they manage to get themselves bathed, dressed, and get their homework done without any help at all. It makes solo parenting so very much different than when they were little.

What I came to realize this week is that not much changes in our daily routine now when my husband is away these days. The kids are very independent and can help out around the house. They can get themselves dressed, brush their teeth, and even clean up around the house.  They eat regular meals (adult food) and so I can cook a normal dinner and the three of us can eat together just like we would if my husband was home. In those early days I would make them their baby/toddler food and I would end up eating a bowl of cereal at 10 o'clock at night.

I think the two biggest differences now are that when my husband travels I get to binge watch on things like Gray's Anatomy and Scandal (which I rather enjoy) :-) and now when he leaves instead of him kissing me goodbye and saying "Take care of the kids", he kisses them goodbye and says "Take care of mama"  And they do.

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75+ things to buy your Pittsburgh kids for christmas this year that aren't toys

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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If your're anything like me you have TOO MANY toys in your house as it is. We had so many toys (that my kids hardly ever played with) that I started a toy drive a few years ago to collect gently used toys to give to needy families (donate your old toys!)  As Christmas approaches, I'm ever-more aware that my children are growing out of toys and look for alternative gifts to give them instead. Gifts of experiences, education and family memories.  Here are some ideas for non-toy gift ideas for your Pittsburgh families this holiday season

Season Passes

 


Shows & Experiences

 


A Class or Season of Lessons

  • Swimming
  • Sports
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance
  • Karate
  • Musical Instrument
  • Pottery Class- or paint your own pottery
  • Art Class
  • Craft class (ie. knitting)
  • Horseback riding lessons




Family Experiences

 




Actual Gifts that aren't Toys

  • A monthly subscription. Here are 10 great ideas for monthly subscriptions that are kid-friendly
  • Books
  • Games
  • Movies
  • CDs of music
  • Craft kits
  • New backpack
  • Puzzles
  • Science kits
  • Computer Programming kits from Arduino or Raspberry Pi
  • New art supplies
  • Magazine Subscriptions (we love National Geographic Kids)
  • Fun new clothes (based on their favorite game or tv show)
  • Sporting equipment
  • Fun Bath Supplies (color-changing water tablets, crayons that write on walls, etc.)
  • Wrist watch
  • Piggy bank. This is a great one for kids
  • Journal
  • Jewelry Box
  • Magic Kit
  • Cookbook & Apron/Chef Hat
  • Easel
  • Chalkboard
  • Telescope
  • Magnifying glass
  • Compass
  • Fishing Pole
  • Flashlight
  • Gardening tools
  • Bug-catching tools 
  • Binoculars
  • Globe
  • Online subscription to an educational game like SumDog
  • New decorations for their room
  • A new bedding set
  • iTunes gift cards
  • A pet! 

PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Heather Starr Fiedler.  Heather created PittsburghMom in March 2008 and began this journey.  Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (9) and Benjamin (7), a college professor and General Manager of PittsburghMom. She's busy, but not too busy to blog about her sometimes serious, sometimes painful and often humorous thoughts on life and share her favorite Pittsburgh spots for families.

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Overconfident

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Most parents spend a lot of time thinking of ways to build their children's confidence up, to encourage them and tell them about all of the great things they are doing. I, on the other hand, have the opposite problem.  I'm trying to figure out how to gracefully knock my kid down a peg. :-)

You see, our little man is Mr. Overconfident. He seems to think he already knows everything that school, life and even Dear Old Mom could possibly teach him. He refuses to let me show him anything because he says he already knows it.

Every day he comes home from school and when I ask him what he learned he tells me that he learned nothing because he already knows it all. Of course his grades don't reflect that, so I know it's not a matter of not being challenged.  He's learning, he just refuses to believe it.

For example, I've tried to teach him to tie his shoes for the past year, but he tells me he already knows (but won't show me because he doesn't feel like it at that exact moment). I know quite well that he does not know how to tie his shoes but he refuses to let me teach him.

I'm not exactly sure how to bring him back to reality without making him feel like I don't believe in him. How do you gracefully say to your kid "you're not as smart as you think you are " :-)

Or maybe this healthy sense of self-confidence will serve him well in his life and I should just leave well enough alone.

Do they still make velcro shoes in teen sizes?

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RADical Days - Week of October 6

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Not very many people are familiar with the work of the Regional Asset District tax.  Each year residents and visitors pay a 1% County Sales tax that helps support things like parks, arts organizations, libraries, museums, sports facilities and public transit.  Each year, as a thank you to the taxpayers, those "Assets" are opened to the public for free on for 20 days as part of "RADical Days".

During RADical days, various Assets offer free admission, tours or classes.  Take advantage of RADical days this year and let your tax dollars give back to you!

The schedule of free days/events can be found on the RAD website or you can also get RADical Days alerts on your mobile device. Text RAD to 79797 to get RADical Days alerts – plus arts and culture updates throughout the year. There is no charge to receive RAD text message alerts; however, your standard message and data rates may apply.

Follow RADical Days on Facebook.  Download a two-page flyer with listings: color pdf or black/white pdf.

This week's RADical Days events include lots of great options!

 

Monday, October 6

Brentwood Public LibraryPittsburgh Poetry Exchange
Free admission: 7pm
The Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange is a literary institution in the community.  Led by Michael Wurster, this group meets to workshop poems.  Poets of all experience levels are invited to come share your work and give feedback to other writers during this friendly exchange of ideas and expertise.
3501 Brentwood Road (South Hills)

 

Tuesday, October 7

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-MainHOW: Hands-On Workshop Series – Making Soap
Free admission 6-7:30PM
Join us for HOW, a series of hands-on workshops for adults and teens. Learn from skilled craftspeople. Roberta Jones, from Laurel Mountain Bees in Murrysville, will teach you how to make your own homemade soap using beeswax. Materials provided. Registration is required for this event. Register by calling 412.622.3151 or online at carnegielibrary.org.
4400 Forbes Ave. (Oakland)

Audubon Society of Western PA - Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve
Nighttime Owl Prowl
Free admission: 7pm
See advance registration and location information on September 30.

 

Wednesday, October 8

Northland Public Library: Foreign Film Presentation
Free admission: 1:30-3:30pm
Adults are invited to come to the library and enjoy a foreign film presentation.  No reservation is required and refreshments will be served.
300 Cumberland Road, Pittsburgh 15237 (North Hills)

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh–East Liberty: The Labs: Design Workshop
Open to students in grades 6-12, this teen-only workshop will focus on designing and fabricating props and costumes for CLP-East Liberty’s Haunted House, open to the public on November 1st.
130 S. Whitfield St. (East Liberty)

 

Tuesday, October 9

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall
Free admission: 10am-4pm
See location details on September 29.

 

Friday, October 10

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall
Free admission: 10am-4pm
See location details on September 29.

City Theatre: Young Playwrights Finalists – Play Readings
Free admission 7pm
As part of the 2014 Young Playwrights Festival, City Theatre will hold public readings of the top three finalists’ plays from the 2014 Contest. Be the first to hear these creative high school writers’ words come to life on stage in the Hamburg Studio! For ages 14 and up.
1300 Bingham Street (South Side) • citytheatrecompany.org

 

Saturday, October 11

Bulgarian-Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center
Free admission: 9am-3pm
Preserving and presenting the cultural values and rich traditions of the Bulgarian and Macedonian people, stop by for a tour of the largest collection of Bulgarian art, audio recordings, film, video, costumes, jewelry, textiles, books and artifacts in the United States.
449-451 West Eighth Avenue (West Homestead) 

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall
Free admission: 10am-4pm
See location details on September 29.

Fort Pitt Museum
Free admission: 10am-5pm
Get to the Point of Pittsburgh’s history and experience the dramatic, world-changing events that occurred right here in Western Pennsylvania.  Stand side-by-side with life-like museum figures, learn about the colonial era through hundreds of artifacts, and explore Pittsburgh life in the 18th century at the Fort Pitt Museum, located in historic Point State Park.
Point State Park, 101 Commonwealth Place (Downtown)

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust – Sketch Crawl
Free admission: 10am – 2pm
A four-hour drawing marathon!  Join in any time.  Bring a sketch book, drawing instruments, lunch and a chair. Draw what you see on a journey through some of Downtown’s scenic plazas. Rick Antolic, accomplished artist and illustrator, will be on-hand at each scheduled location to assist with sketches as needed. For all ages; children 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Check-in at Trust Arts Education Center, 805/807 Liberty Avenue (Cultural District )

Frick Art & Historical Center
Free admission 10am-5pm
Experience the Frick's new Orientation Center; explore Clayton, the restored Frick family mansion, by taking free, self-guided tours; and enjoy a beautiful display of fine and decorative art at The Frick Art Museum. FREE family activities, including scavenger hunts, games, and art activities!
7227 Reynolds Street (Point Breeze) 

Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Free admission: 10am-5pm
Come explore the history of life on Earth, then visit what is arguably the first museum of contemporary art in the United States, all in one dynamic destination!  Enjoy hands-on activities for kids and grown-ups, and see some of the most exciting collections of art and science anywhere on Earth.
4400 Forbes Avenue (Oakland) • carnegiemuseums.org

Kelly-Strayhorn Theater - Regent Theatre Centennial Celebration
Free admission: 10am-noon
Enjoy family-friendly entertainment, meet your neighbors, share your sotry and help celebrate 100 years and counting.  The first 100 to attend will receive a free season-long membership.
5530 Penn Ave. (East Liberty)

Pittsburgh Opera: Brown Bag Concert
Free admission Noon-1:00 PM
Free and open to the public, these one-hour concerts feature our Resident Artists and our arts partners in the George R. White Opera Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. No reservations are required; doors open at 11:30. Bring your lunch!
2425 Liberty Avenue (Strip District)

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust: Ghost Stories
Free admission:  noon-1pm
Gather the whole family in the Trust Arts Education Center to hear storyteller Alison K. Babusci share her most popular program featuring spine-tingling tales as well as hauntingly funny ones.  This program will delight all ages.  Bring your PJs and a pillow if you’d like.  Recommended for ages five and older; children must be accompanied by an adult.
805/807 Liberty Ave. (Cultural District)

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hazelwood: Ballet FUNdamentals
Free admission: 2 pm
Get an insider’s look at the story, dancing and magic of the upcoming Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre performance of The Sleeping Beauty. Enjoy a special storytime and learn about ballet from a ballerina. Recommended for children age 3 to 11.
5006 Second Avenue (Hazelwood)

MCG Jazz and Youth & Arts Festival
Free Admission: 5-6:30pm (Event ends at 7:15 p.m.)
1815 Metropolitan Street
Expand your creative horizons with MCG Youth & Arts’ demonstrations and projects! Eat desserts prepared by Bidwell Training Center’s culinary students! Visit our store for orchids, artwork, and more. Groove to award winning Bob Mintzer and his R&Big Band’s open rehearsal at 6:30 pm in the MCG Jazz concert hall!
1815 Metropolitan Street (North Side)

 

Sunday, October 12

The Andy Warhol Museum
Free admission 10am-5pm
Provocative, challenging, energizing and exploring all that art can and should be.
At The Warhol you have the chance to truly experience art. Whether you see the permanent collection, a performance, a visiting artist’s work, or just have lunch, you’ll find something to talk about, chuckle over, delight in, or ponder for days.
117 Sandusky Street (North Shore)

Sen. John Heinz History Center and Western PA Sports Museum
Free admission: 10am-5pm
Relive a few classic battles at the Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.  Enjoy all six floors of this Smithsonian-affiliated museum, presenting American history with a Western Pennsylvania connection.  Feel the pride of our region by exploring the lives of Pittsburghers who have changed the world through a variety of engaging exhibitions. Performances by Allegheny Brass Band (1:30), Children’s Festival Chorus (2:30) and South Hills Chorale (3pm). 
1212 Smallman Street (Strip District) • www.heinzhistorycenter.org

THE MATTRESS FACTORY
Free admission: 1-5pm
A contemporary art museum + experimental lab featuring site-specific installations created by artists in residence from around the world. Located in the Mexican War Streets of Pittsburgh's North Side since 1977, the Mattress Factory is hailed as the best facility for installation art in the United States. Accessibility: The Mattress Factory's facility at 500 Sampsonia Way is fully accessible; enter from free parking lot at 505 Jacksonia Street. Facilities at 516 Sampsonia Way and 1414 Monterey Street are partially accessible. Wheelchairs are available upon request at 500 Sampsonia Way.
500 Sampsonia Way (North Side)

 

This is totally an outlier, but there is one final RADical day in November

Sunday, November 9

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Free admission: 9am-5pm (gates close at 4pm)
Combine learning, fun and exploration!  Thousands of wild animals, including sea lions, leopards, elephants, polar bears, giraffes and penguins, representing every continent offer a stunning view of our world.  Sponsored by PPG Industries. Performances by Pittsburgh CLO Mini-Stars (12:30pm) and Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestra (3:30pm).  Please note: the Zoo entrance is next to major construction on Butler Street at the Highland Park Bridge - delays are possible if construction continues past October.  Check back here as the date gets closer for updated information.
One Wild Place (Highland Park) • pittsburghzoo.org

 

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Pittsburgh Family Fun - Games N' At

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Pittsburgh Family Fun goes to Games N' At

We recently had the opportunity to visit Games N' At on the South Side.  I'd heard about this place for years, but always had it in my head that it was for adults and not for kids. One rainy Saturday recently, though, I decided to pack up the kids and see for myself. I was most definitely wrong. Games N' At is for both adults AND kids, which makes it rather unique. I think my husband and I had just as much fun as the kids do. We went in thinking we'd hang out and relax while the kids played, but the setup doesn't really allow for that, so we were *forced* to play. And we ended up having a great time.

Games N' At is housed in what looks like an industrial building from the outside, but feels like an old house on the inside.  It's not new and modern. Don't expect anything flashy. It's old and creaky and has lots of character. We were greeted at the front door by a singing fish (my 7-year-old had never seen one and was fascinated).  

The layout is rather choppy with different things in different rooms (hence the "house' feel) and two different upstairs areas (one housing a ping pong table and XBox games and one housing a duckpin bowling alley).  The pricing structure was a little unusual as well, but we found it to be quite fair.

To get "through" the front cafe area, you must pay for an "Unlimited Play" package.  Parents cannot accompany children unless they pay too.  The packages, however, are not unreasonable.  $5 will get you a one-hour pass and $8 will earn you two hours. For that pass, you can play everything in the place except the four token games and the duckpin bowling. Everything else is turned on for unlimited play including pool tables, air hockey, driving games, XBox, ping pong, pinball, etc.    The duckpin bowling was $2/game (we did it and very much enjoyed it, it's great for little kids who can't quite roll a regular bowling ball yet)

The first floor game rooms consist of a pool table room, the aforementioned token game room (we didn't play any token games, we stuck to our unlimited games), a large room with the pinball, shooting games, driving games and air hockey, and a "classic" room with throwbacks like Frogger, Asteroids and Donkey Kong.

Games N' At also offers birthday party packages and specials such as "College Student" nights and family pizza/game packages.  All of their pricing and party packages can be found on their website (links to the left) https://sites.google.com/site/gamesnatsite/Home


Hours, Location, Pricing

2010 Josephine Street
Pittsburgh PA 15203

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - Field trips and groups only
Thursday  4 p.m. - Midnight
Friday  4 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Saturday Noon - 1 a.m.
Sunday Noon to 8:00pm

Unlimited Play Pricing - 1 hour  $5    2 hours $8    3 hours $11    4 hours $14

Birthday Parties range from $15-$21 person including games and food
Party Packages


Photos

 


The XBox room, which is adjacent to the ping pong room (not pictured)

 


The billards room

 

Duckpin bowling (each game is $2 per person)

 

The main arcade room


The other half of the main arcade room



The "token game" room. They have a prize redemption center if you play token games

 

 

 

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