Category: New PGH Family Fun

New PGH Family Fun: Classic Movie Nights at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh. I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh. Then, I write about them here! 

Classic Movie Night in our house :)
Classic Movie Night in our house :)

Classic movie nights. I can still remember them clearly from my own early childhood. Once a year, my mom would let me stay up late to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” I would cuddle up on the couch with her, munch on popcorn, and marvel at Oz. Glinda, ruby slippers, a Horse of a Different Color, a hot air balloon ascending towards the sky. It was magical. It was special.

Now that I’m a parent, I still appreciate classic movie nights; although, in part,  it’s for different reasons. Sharing that piece of my childhood with my kids is deeply rewarding. Plus, as my children discover these stories for themselves, I can see their imaginations just EXPLODE.

IMAGINATION. It must be the best part of being a kid…

I was recently browsing through the Children’s Museum website when, lo and behold, I discovered a new program this summer: Classic Movie Nights.  The festivities begin this coming weekend with a screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I recently had a chance to interview Emily Simons, Arts and Programs Manager at the Museum, about Classic Movie Nights and here’s what she had to say:

 

What is Classic Movie Night?

Classic Movie Night is a chance for folks of all ages to visit the Children’s Museum after hours and enjoy iconic family films for a reasonable price. With special additional programming from Pittsburgh Filmmakers and dinner and snacks for sale, each of our three summer movies is a complete, fun, and affordable evening out for the whole family.

 

What movies will you be showing?

The first movie in the series will be “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” this Saturday. On August 9th, we will be showing Mary Poppins and on September 7th, we will be showing The Dark Crystal. Depending on how this initial summer series goes, we would love to continue screening family films, vintage cartoons, animated features, etc. Please send your suggestions for our next films to esimons@pittsburghkids.org.

 

How much does Classic Movie Night cost?

You shouldn’t have to break the bank to have quality family time! Tickets are only $2 in advance (https://shop.pittsburghkids.org/e-commerce), $3 at the door and FREE with Museum admission (Just show your wristband on the day of the movie for a free ticket). The Children’s Museum also has $1 admission/person with an EBT card everyday, and with admission you can stay for the movies.

 

What time does the movie start?

The Museum exhibits close at 5pm.  From 5-5:30, guests can purchase dinner, popcorn, and drinks in the Big Red Room Cafe. Also, our friends and collaborators from the Pittsburgh Filmmakers will be in the Theater at this time, giving a hands-on presentation about film: what it is, how it works, and the difference between film and digital media. Everyone will be able to touch real film and take a small piece of it home. Filmmakers will also be screening some short films from their Youth Media program, demonstrating how kids can get involved in the film production process. The feature presentation starts at 5:30pm.

 

Are children encouraged to be cozy for the event?  

We love it when folks make themselves at home here. if that means footie pajamas or slippers, we say, bring it on! We have theater seating for adults and a large carpeted area reserved for the cozy, sleeping bag crew. The Theater (and the entire Museum) is also fully wheelchair accessible.

 

Why did you decide to start this program?

Movies are such a wonderful, immersive way to experience stories, meet lovable and despicable characters, and learn important lessons. Plus, seeing them on the big screen is a magical and enthralling experience for young children. We specifically chose movies that are iconic, quality, and quirky. Many of us grew up watching these films and now we want to share them with the children in our lives!

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I must say, I am consistently impressed by the brilliance of the Children’s Museum and its programming. “Classic Movie Nights” is no exception. The series promises to be fun, educational, and affordable way for families to share some QT. Plus, it represents a very promising collaboration between the Museum and one of the city’s many creative assets, the Pittsburgh Filmmakers. I personally love these sorts of collaborations because it implies something really great: the city’s organizations are finding innovative ways to work together in order to enrich our children’s lives. I’m all for that!

New PGH Family Fun: The Bloomfield Saturday Market

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh.  I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh.  Then, I write about them here! 

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I’m a huge farmer’s market fan and used to visit them frequently before I had kids.  I have fond memories of these trips:  wandering through the stalls lazily, swinging my quaint basket full of goodies, poking at fresh fruits, curiously inspecting cuts of meat, all the while daydreaming about new recipes to try.  It was a full morning’s affair, an event unto itself.  It was wonderful.

And then I had kids.  And food shopping changed for me.  Now, I infrequently visit farmer’s markets.  Instead, I hit up the big grocery stores.  That way, I can get everything I need in my very limited amount of time.  List in hand, plan in mind, I’m all business.  But, it’s just not as much fun!

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Christina Howell, Manager of the Bloomfield Saturday Market

For that reason, I was thrilled to hear about the new Bloomfield Saturday Market, a farmer’s market with a uniquely kid-friendly vibe to it.  I was also excited to learn that it is headed up by Christina Howell, a member of the Bloomfield Development Corporation, and a mom that I know from the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library.  I recently had a chance to interview Christina about the Market and here’s what I found out.

 

What is the Bloomfield Saturday Market?

The Bloomfield Saturday Market is a new 23-week, open-air farmer’s market located in the heart of Bloomfield.  It’s two-parts farmer’s market and one-part family-friendly festival! The market offers fresh produce, cheeses, meats, oils, prepared hot and cold foods, all with an emphasis on locally-grown and produced products.  Each week we’ll also feature one or more of the following events: healthy cooking demonstrations, live music, children’s activities, safety activities (car seat inspections, smoke detector giveaways, etc.), healthy living information, and so much more.

 

Where is it located?

The Bloomfield Saturday Market is located in a lot at 5050 Liberty Avenue between S. Winebiddle and Gross Streets.  It will be open every Saturday until November 1st from 9a-1pm, rain or shine!

 

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What kinds of vendors do you have at the Market?

We have everything from original Bloomfield-themed graphic art to vegetarian empanadas, Greek yogurt and hummus to a mobile wood-fired pizza oven. Healcrest Urban Farm brings their unique Tea Pops that use the fresh herbs that they grow in Garfield.  JP Farm’s organic lettuce is, according to my husband, “the most amazing” lettuce he’s ever eaten.  Freedom Farms also brings their “Meet your Meat” bus filled with grass-fed, free range, hormone-free meats.

 

Driving a firetruck at the first Bloomfield Saturday Market
Driving a fire truck at the first Bloomfield Saturday Market

Is the Market kid-friendly?

Yes!  We plan on having kid-friendly activities most weeks.  For example, this weekend the Citiparks Roving Art Cart will bring their Bike-Powered Smoothie Machine.  One person rides the bike and creates enough energy to power the blender to make the smoothies.  We will also have live acoustic music performed by Bobby V.

During our first weekend, we had a fire truck on site for the kids to climb around in and explore.  At the end of the month, EMS will be on site to perform car seat safety checks.  We also always have picnic tables, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and backyard games for the kids.  Also, a new addition this week is a “Family Support Tent” created by the Allegheny Health Network that offers a changing station and shaded seats for nursing or bottle-feeding caregivers.

 

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Why did you decide to start this market?

The Bloomfield Development Corporation (BDC) came up with the idea when trying to identify something that would create and sustain a sense of community, while also improving the health of residents and the business district. I’ve lived in Bloomfield for 8 years, and my husband and I are raising two young kids here. We lacked a central community gathering place that was accessible and welcoming to everyone.   And every weekend I took my family to a farmer’s market or concert or kid-themed activity outside of my own neighborhood.  In the first two weeks of the market I have met more neighbors than I did in the entire time I’ve lived in my house!  I think it’s a wonderful way to engage with the community and showcase all that Bloomfield has to offer!

*****

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After hearing about the Bloomfield Saturday Market, we decided to check out its Opening Day. We made a grand entrance, just in front of the bagpipe band that was the live entertainment for the morning.  We were immediately greeted by Sparky the Fire Dog, who delighted the kids.  We then splurged on a breakfast pizza from Woodfired Flatbreads, stockpiled some cookies from Good L’Oven Bakery, bought an iced coffee from Zeke’s, climbed around in a fire truck, and drew with some chalk.  We even reconnected with a couple of families that we haven’t seen in awhile!

Although it wasn’t my farmer’s market experience of yesterday, it was actually more than it used to be.  Because it’s not just about me anymore.  Our visit to the Bloomfield Saturday Market was about my kids and my husband, sitting on a curb, mesmerized by the band.  It was about seeing old friends and catching up with them.  It was about supporting local businesses and farmers.  And it was about Bloomfield, learning more about it and appreciating the dynamic people and places who are a part of it.

Plus, I got ten, so-much-more-appreciated-now minutes to explore the market by myself, while my family watched the band.  Which was just perfect :) !

*****

Want to connect with the Bloomfield Saturday Market on social media?  Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

New PGH Family Fun: “Hop into History” at the Heinz History Center

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh.  I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh.  Then, I write about them here! 

 

There are some places in Pittsburgh that I gaze at wistfully, dreaming of the days when my children are older and we can visit them.  One such spot is the Senator John Heinz History Center.  This Smithsonian-affiliated history museum has consistently been voted one of the “Best Museum in Pittsburgh,” and yet, I’ve NEVER brought my kids to it!  Although I’m not entirely sure why, I’ve long had the perception that a history museum is NO place for little kids.

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Mariruth Leftwich, a local mom and new Education Manager at the Heinz History Center

Fortunately, I’m happy to say that I was WRONG!  I was recently contacted by Mariruth Leftwich, the new Education Manager at the Heinz History Center.  She is making some innovative changes in the educational programs at the museum, including expanding them to involve 2-5 year olds!  She wrote:

“I know people do not naturally associate history museums with 2 to 5 year olds, but they are both near and dear to my heart and I believe strongly that ALL museums should be accessible to all ages of visitors.”

She then went on to tell me about some of her new programming at the museum including a Hop Into History educational series for 2-5 year olds!  Here’s what I found out (in her own words):

 *****

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Little ones can explore the Heinz History Center, too!

What is the new “Hop Into History” program?

The “Hop into History” program will help very young children explore current exhibits at the museum.  For example, the first series of “Hop into History” workshops is associated with our new exhibit, Pittsburgh’s Lost Steamboat: Treasures of the Arabia.  The steamboat Arabia was launched from Pittsburgh in 1853, carrying everyday household goods to Western pioneers. Unfortunately, it sank in the Missouri River and wasn’t excavated until nearly 150 years later by modern-day treasure hunters below a Kansas cornfield!!

Our upcoming “Hop into History” series will encourage young children and their caregivers to join in the fun of discovering the steamboat Arabia story in an age-appropriate manner.  The sessions will be led by myself and Lynda Wingerd, a well-known local Kindermusik instructor.  It will combine songs, stories, movement, and activities in our galleries.

 

When is the first program?  What is its theme?

The first program will be on May 28th from 10:30-11:15am.  The theme of this session will be “Digging for Treasure,” exploring the shipwreck and eventual discovery of the Arabia. This workshop will feature Steamboat Arabia-related songs (several with lyrics and actions created just for this session!), a game where we will load up boats with important ‘treasures,’ a hands-on exploration of artifacts from the boat, an activity where the kids will dig in a mock archaeology set-up, and another activity where we will bury objects the kids think would be considered “treasure” today.

 

What other sessions do you have planned?

Other themes planned for the summer “Hop Into History” series are:
  • June 18th: Full Steam Ahead, exploring boat building and life during the age of steamboats
  • July 16th: Go, Go, Go, exploring transportation in Pittsburgh’s history
  • August 20th: Down by the River, exploring the importance of rivers in Pittsburgh

 

What is the cost of these sessions?

The program is free with museum admission, which is $15 for adults and free for children five and under.  Advance registration is required because of limited space.  Please email Mariruth Leftwich at maleftwich@heinzhistorycenter.org or call 412-454-6390 to register.

 

heinz2

In what other ways is the Heinz History Center young child friendly?

Visitors are often surprised to find out that the Heinz History Center is very child friendly and we are working hard to make it even more so in the coming year!  There are currently two exhibit spaces geared towards children:

Kidsburgh is an interactive two-tier playplace that features:

  • Isaly’s ice cream counter and hat-designing station
  • A life-sized cow for ‘milking’ in a section that describes how ice cream is produced
  • Building a city scape with foam blocks on a table designed as “The Point”
  • Liberty Tunnel Slide that slides down into the cafe/Great Hall area
Discovery Place is another kid-friendly exhibit that features:
  • A train table
  • A steamboat ‘game of chance’ game
  • A “Steel Mill” climber, which is an indoor play set where kids can wear construction helmets to climb through a make-believe mill
  • A range of activities that accompany stories of kids in Pittsburgh from the past featuring historic museum objects alongside hands-on activities (sewing, penmanship, model car racing, pickle jar packing, and hairdressing).
  • Computer trivia game
  • Stained glass design activity
  • A Lewis & Clark themed tent and log cabin

In the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum (housed on the 2nd and 3rd floors), kids can try out golf, throw a football, design a medal, see how high they can jump, and pose with sports figures from Pittsburgh history. Most of the other exhibits also contain hands-on or interactive components that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.

I also have to say that our Mixstirs Café is very child friendly and the cookies are amazing :).

 

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What other young child-friendly programming do you anticipate starting in the future?

Based on the success of the summer “Hop into History” series we hope to create monthly programming for under-5s, and perhaps even expand to include a program geared towards birth-2.

Soon we will also have family backpacks available for free checkout at the front desk that provide activities for 2-5 year olds in the main exhibit, Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation. The activities include stories, eye-spy games, an activity for making a Ferris wheel, coloring sheets, mini-puzzles, and toys for creative play.

Over the course of the next year we will also be completely redesigning the Discovery Place exhibit to make it an even more engaging creativity lab and adding a special under-5s area.

*****

I was really excited to hear about the new “Hop into History” series at the Heinz History Center for a few reasons.  First off, my daughter will be finishing up preschool in a couple of weeks.  After that, the entire glorious (but long) summer extends before us.  I could really use some new organized activities to fill our days!  Also, I appreciate the fact that both of my kids (ages 2 and 4) can participate in the activities together.  Finally, in my pre-child years, I used to be a huge history buff. The “Hop into History” series will allow me to revisit my former passion in a kid-appropriate way!

So–THANKS to the Heinz History Museum and to Mariruth Leftwich for launching this new series and for embracing the uniquely family-friendly spirit of Pittsburgh!

Want to connect with the Heinz History Center on social media?  Here are links to its Facebook page and Twitter account.

New PGH Family Fun: Katy Rank Lev’s “Get Your Act Together” Parties

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh.  I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh.  Then, I write about them here! 

*****

I know this series is supposed to focus on new family-friendly fun stuff in Pittsburgh;  however, I’m going to start this article out on a morbid note.  Bear with me! It will be worth it.

Late last year, a friend of mine and a fellow Pittsburgh parent passed away suddenly after a horrible accident.  He had two young children and a wonderful wife.  Many Pittsburghers were stunned by his death.  Some of us still are…

In the aftermath of this tragedy, my husband and I learned about the dangers of not having a “Last Will and Testament.”  My deceased friend’s “estate” became tied up in probate court, meaning that his widow was unable to access their funds for months.  After her experience, my husband and I got worried.  What if (god forbid) something similar happened to us one day? Eventually, we consulted with a lawyer to draft a will for us.  After hearing the price tag, almost $1000 (!), we walked away empty-handed….

Katy Rank Lev, founder of Pittsburgh's family-friendly "Get Your Act Together" parties.
Katy Rank Lev, founder of Pittsburgh’s family-friendly “Get Your Act Together” parties.

By pure happenstance, soon afterwards we received an email from Katy Rank Lev and the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library.  It provocatively asked:

“Do you have your act together?”

In this email, I learned that Katy Rank Lev, a local mother, has made it her mission to organize “Get Your Act Together,” or will-signing, parties at local family-friendly venues like the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library (PTLL).  Her goal is to help DIY-minded, young families (like us!) take care of these important documents in a convenient and affordable way.

Recently, I had the chance to interview Katy and learn more about her “Get Your Act Together” parties. Here’s what I found out (in her own words):

 *****

What are your “Get Your Act Together” parties?

At my “Get Your Act Together” parties, I bring mobile notaries to a space I’ve rented (or even your house) and people come with their prepared documents:  Last Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc. The other adults at the party act as each other’s witnesses and the notaries can stamp the documents to make them official.

 

Katy and her family
Katy and her family

What makes your “Get Your Act Together” parties unique?

Other people have organized “will-signing” parties.  However, they are generally for adults-only.  For us, childcare logistics were a huge part of what held us back from “getting our act together” previously.  For that reason, I consciously choose kid-friendly venues for my “Get Your Act Together” parties so parents can actually bring their kids along.  That way, parents can take care of something really, truly important while their kids are doing something stimulating and fun.

 

How do people prepare for your “Get Your Act Together” party?

To prepare for the event, families need to get their documents together beforehand. This is the hard part!  You can choose to have a consultation with an attorney, or you can take a more DIY-minded approach and use some of the resources available online or in local libraries.  Our family used Rocket Lawyer when we did it last year (they offer these documents for free during the month of April!).  The website walked us through all sorts of yes/no and short answer questions in order to help us fill out the paperwork, much like TurboTax.

Once you figure out your wishes, you fill out the document templates, print them, and bring them (unsigned) to the event.

 

Playing at the Toy Lending Library!
Playing at the Toy Lending Library!

When is the next event?  Where?

I am organizing two “Get Your Act Together” parties for this spring.  The next one will be on April 28th at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library. The play space is great for the young kids to explore while their parents take care of this very important business.

I’m also hosting another event on May 19th at Shining Light Prenatal Education.  Shining Light is a brightly-colored, kid-friendly venue with a wide open floor, yoga balls to rolls, and yoga bricks to explore.  Many young families utilize this business and their tag line: “Illuminating Your Path to Parenthood,” speaks to the idea behind these parties.  After all, these sorts of documents just matter so much more once we have kids. Getting them squared away lifts a huge burden, leaving room for parents to really focus on living with their families!

 

What is the cost to attend a “Get Your Act Together” party?  What does it cover?

Right now, the events cost $31.20 per person.  An odd number, right? But I’m really just trying to cover costs and keep things affordable.  The fee covers space rental, the mobile notary fees, and three stamps per person.

 

katy4Why were you inspired to start organizing these parties?

I stumbled across Chanel Reynolds’ website. She is a young mom in Washington state whose husband was killed in a tragic cycling accident. She didn’t have any of this legal paperwork together and spent months dealing with probate court and spent thousands of dollars settling her husband’s affairs.  She decided to do something about it and her website has all sorts of templates, checklists, and resources.

As a freelance writer, I decided to interview Chanel and several family lawyers for an article I published in Bust.  In the process, I learned that only 36% of Americans have a will!

The scary truth is:  If you do *NOT* have a will and you and/or your partner should die, the estate will most likely go into probate. This means going to court, hiring lawyers, and spending months trying to access funds and assets meant to take care of your children!

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Who am I kidding?  I know that this entire article was somewhat morbid.  Getting your will, POA, Living Will, etc. notarized is not really a fun experience.  After all, we’re young and healthy.  Why do we need to worry about this stuff anyway?  Well, I can’t tell you how glad I am that we attended Katy’s first “Get Your Act Together” party at the PTLL last winter.  While my kids played happily amongst the toys, my husband and I formalized important decisions that we have discussed over the years.  Who will take care of our children if something happens to us?  What life-saving measures would we want if either of us became incapacitated?  Who will execute our wills?  And many more…

I sleep more easily at night now…

At some point in the future, I know that we’ll sit down again with an attorney and create a more complex, detailed Will.  However, at this point in time, my family’s situation is relatively simple and we don’t have the funds to spend on attorney’s fees.  We felt comfortable creating these documents ourselves using online resources and then making them “official” at Katy’s party.

THANK YOU to Katy Rank Lev for helping to make this intimidating experience affordable, convenient, and family-friendly for Pittsburgh parents!  AND for fooling our children into thinking the whole thing is just another fun playdate :) !

Want to connect with Katy Rank Lev and find out more about her “Get Your Act Together” parties?  Check out her website here.  And here is the site to register for her next event.

New PGH Family Fun: Rent the Chicken!

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh.  I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting, unique, and fun NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh.  Then, I write about them here! 

I’ve been flirting with the idea of raising backyard chickens for a few years now.  Although I’m not a “homesteader” by any stretch of the imagination, I aspire to become more self-sufficient. Keeping hens for their eggs seems like a great place to start!  Plus, I love the idea of embarking on a new domestic adventure with my children.  Bringing some new animal friends and a little taste of rural life into our home sounds like a lot of fun!

What’s kept me from getting chickens up to this point?  Commitment phobia!  I’m concerned about signing on for the ~10yr life span of a chicken.  For this reason, I was thrilled when a friend recently sent me information about a new local business: Rent the Chicken!! Last week, I had a chance to interview the owner, “Homestead Jenn” and here’s what I found out about Rent the Chicken (in her own words):

 

Homestead Jenn and Homestead Phil, owners of "Rent the Chicken"
Homestead Jenn and Homestead Phil, owners of “Rent the Chicken”
What is “Rent the Chicken?
Rent The Chicken is Homestead Jenn and Homestead Phil’s answer for families who want an opportunity to experiment with “urban homesteading” by raising backyard chickens without signing on for a long term commitment.  We provide families with two egg-laying hens, a portable chicken coop, 100 pounds of quality chicken feed, a water dish, and a custom Rent The Chicken feeder for a 6 month period.  Renters should expect to experience a slice of urban homesteading and the benefit of 8-14 farm fresh eggs per week!

 

What is the cost to Rent The Chicken?
The cost for the standard six month Rental Period from May/June through November is $350.  We ask upfront for a $50 non-refundable deposit, which can be paid through our website with paypal, by sending a check, or with a major credit card over the phone.  Full payment is due at time of drop-off.  We also offer an upgrade to organic non-GMO feed for an additional $50.  In order to reduce the cost, Rent the Chicken offers a Referral Program.  For each friend or family member that you refer, you receive a $50 discount on your 2014 Rental Period.  If you have FIVE friends or family members sign up before your delivery date, you do not need to pay anything more than your original deposit (and non-GMO feed upgrade if applicable)!

 

"Rent The Chicken"

What breeds of chickens do you have available for rent? 
Currently we have White Rocks.  Golden Buffs, Rhode Islands, and Black Australorps are due to arrive soon. These are all breeds that are known for their egg-laying ability AND are hardy enough for Pittsburgh winters!

 

Where is your business based?  
We live just north of Freeport, PA, about 40 minutes northeast of Pittsburgh.  We will transport the hens and their supplies directly to your house.

 

Do you provide information about raising chickens for amateurs like me?
Upon receiving a paid deposit, we mail a copy of Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele to help our Renters be more prepared for their upcoming visitors.  At delivery, we give a detailed tutorial on how to care for them and the functions of the portable coop.  We are also available to answer questions via email, Facebook, text message, and telephone before and during the Rental Period!

 

What are the rules regarding keeping chickens in Pittsburgh?
There are two schools of thought about keeping chickens within the city limits of Pittsburgh.  One is the official law, which requires an expensive permit, the need for a lot of land, and no roosters.  Unfortunately, these permits are rarely approved.  Another school involves P4-Pittsburgh Pro Poultry People.  They are a group of urban-poultry keepers in Pittsburgh who seek to promote the joy of chickens within the city limits without permit requirements.  They believe in a) asking neighbors for their approval before getting chickens b) assuring neighbors that fresh eggs will be plentiful c) reassuring neighbors that hens are usually more quiet than neighborhood dogs d) maintaining odors to a minimum and e) doing your best NOT to attract rodents.  If a Renter is reported and does not have the permit, the chickens will not be confiscated and fines will not be issued without prior warnings.

 

renthechicken5Why did you start this business? 

We have a growing desire to bring the “farm” closer to peoples’ tables, including our own! We raise chickens for their eggs and buy locally-raised beef and pork.  We also grow a nice garden and can our vegetables to eat year-round.  We combined our lifestyle choices with the knowledge that our friends also aspired to raise backyard chickens…and Rent the Chicken was born!

 

What do you think are the benefits to families of keeping chickens?
There are so many benefits!  The eggs are of better quality with 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, more omega 3 fatty acids, and more vitamin A, E, and beta carotene.  Also, raising backyard chickens is an exciting experience for the entire family!  It’s so much fun for children to pour the chicken feed, watch the chickens eat, and open the back hatch of the coop to retrieve eggs daily!

 

*****
Anyway, I really love the idea of Rent the Chicken.  I think it could make great strides to expand the “Farm to Table” movement, especially to folks (like me) who are just teetering on the edge of being ready to commit more fully.  Plus, I think my kids would love having some new backyard companions for the beautiful, warmer months ahead!!
Want to connect with Rent the Chicken?  Here are links to its website and Facebook page.  Those with questions are encouraged to give them a call (724-305-0782) or send an email to info@RentTheChicken.com.

 

New PGH Family Fun: “Congregation” in Market Square

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Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

Congregation is a free, family-friendly art installation that made its North American debut in Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh last weekend.  It is the inaugural project of the all-new Market Square Public Arts Program, an effort to enliven Market Square during the quiet winter months.  I took my family to see it on Sunday night and here’s what we learned:

 

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My husband and son enjoying “Congregation.”

What is Congregation?

Congregation is a public art installation that “uses sound and visual elements to transform Market Square into an interactive stage.” What the heck do I mean by this??  Let me paint you a picture:

Imagine you are walking near Market Square at dusk.  You are lost in your thoughts, making the same old, cold commute you do every other Winter evening.  Suddenly you hear instrumental music–soaring, inspiring, loud enough to lose yourself in.  You see a large, bright video screen in the distance.  It gives you a bird’s eye view of Market Square.  In it, you see people of all ages, dancing around, waving their arms, laughing with each other.  You are curious.  You are drawn to this music, these lights, these people…

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You enter Market Square.  You look up at the large video screen and see yourself in it.  You also notice that your presence has been registered by thermal technology.  You now have a beam of light that is all your own.  A variety of visual effects follow:

1) At times, the lights create a visual link between you and others.  When viewed on the video monitor, you can see how these bars of light create a living, moving web that connect you with everybody else.

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2) At other times, spotlights illuminate particular parts of the Square.  Groups of people gather in these radiant circles and watch themselves on the large screen.  You wave your arms.  You dance around.  You gain a sense of camaraderie with the total strangers around you.

3) At other times, the light follows you throughout the Square and changes its character depending on your movements.  In this way, you are transformed into a direct participant in the art.

Does this give you some sense of the installation?  It’s incredibly difficult to explain in words and photos certainly don’t do it justice.  Understanding its beauty really requires taking part in the experience.  But, let me say this:  it gave me such an intense sense of interconnectedness with those around me that it actually brought tears to my eyes at one point!

 

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Is it kid-friendly?

The big question for me.  I had my doubts about bringing my little ones to see Congregation on a cold winter’s night. I’m definitely glad I did.  I think it is highly unusual to find an art installation where kids are totally free to interact with it.  In this sense, Congregation is extremely kid-friendly!

Here are some other things to consider when bringing your children:

1)  They won’t get the same meaning out of this installation as you do.  Instead, my kids enjoyed the feline-like act of chasing the lights around. They were also entranced by the grownups acting silly with each other.

2)  The problem with a wintertime outdoor art installation is that it can be cold.  We visited it on a warmish night.  I would definitely suggest bringing your kids on a similar evening.

3)  Since the installation didn’t open until dusk, it was somewhat late for my kids to be out of the house.  We ate dinner before visiting it and went right to bed as soon as we got home.

 

Kit Monkman, one of the artists who created Congregation.
Kit Monkman, one of the artists who created Congregation.

Who designed it?

The artwork was created by KMA, a collaboration between two UK-based artists named Tom Wexler and Kit Monkman.  I had a chance to meet them on Sunday and they were intensely passionate about this art installation.  It was a pleasure to hear them talk about it with so much enthusiasm.

 

How long will it be in Market Square?

Congregation will be in Market Square every evening until March 16th from dusk until 10 pm on Monday-Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Congregation is presented by Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the City of Pittsburgh with production support by the Office of Public Art and Flyspace Productions.

 

 

New PGH Family Fun: “XOXO, An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness”

XOXO, An Exhibit about Love & Forgiveness
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi
XOXO, An Exhibit about Love & Forgiveness
XOXO, An Exhibit about Love & Forgiveness

This Valentine’s Day weekend the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is premiering its new special exhibit, XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness.  I had a chance to preview it on Friday and I thought I’d share what I learned about it.  Before I start, though, let me just say this:  XOXO is beautiful.  It is creative.  It is powerful.

I left feeling proud that our Children’s Museum had created it.

To put it simply, XOXO is an exhibit about emotions, including love and forgiveness.  As children and their caregivers explore the space, they can participate in a variety of activities that are designed to help them understand, appreciate, and express their emotions. And, with all of its usual genius, the Children’s Museum explores these relatively mature concepts in an imaginative and interactive way that even young children can grasp and enjoy.  I think that kids will leave this exhibit having undertaken nothing less than a journey of self-discovery.

A handmade box that children can create for someone they love
A handmade box that children can create for someone they love

The Children’s Museum uses a variety of activity areas to explore different emotions. Kids can:

  • Write down a loving thought and press it into a token that they can keep.
  • Create a handmade box for somebody they love.
  • Write down or draw angry thoughts on a piece of paper and crank it through a paper shredder as a means of “letting it go.”
  • Use Face Blocks to explore how different emotions LOOK.
  • Hug a soft sculpture that responds with a comforting sound to explore how love FEELS and SOUNDS
  • And tons more!
Face Blocks
Face Blocks

The exhibit also encourages children to communicate their emotions to their caregivers by providing prompts at each activity area.  For example, at the Hug Sculpture the adjacent signage asks:

“HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GIVE OR GET A HUG?”

At the paper shredder activity, the signage asks:

“WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL MAD, SAD, OR HURT?”

Ideally, caregivers will spend time slowly going through this exhibit with their children.  It is NOT designed to be a part of the museum where you can sit down on a bench and take a breather.  But don’t be discouraged!  As you guide your child through this exhibit, you will witness something magical.  Your child will start to understand their emotions, appreciate them, and finally start to talk about them with you.  By handling this process patiently, you will yourself engage in an act of love.  Or, as it so eloquently says at one of the activity stations:

“GIVING SOMEONE YOUR FULL ATTENTION MAKES THEM FEEL IMPORTANT AND LOVED.”

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Ever since I left XOXO, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it (it does that to you as you’ll see :)).  I think our families NEED it. Our children are growing up to face academic pressure, social pressure, bullying, violence, body image issues, etc.  They NEED to be able to accept and express their emotions if they are going to be able to navigate it all successfully.  I think XOXO can help them learn these skills.

Thanks to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for realizing the importance of emotional intelligence and for nurturing it in our children.

“XOXO, An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness” will be at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for six months.  It will then become a traveling exhibit and will visit children’s museums throughout the country.  Admission to XOXO is included in the price of admission to the Museum.  XOXO was inspired and funded by the Fetzer Institute, an organization working to promote love and forgiveness in our global community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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