October: Standing for Her

I was given some information on Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims to help raise awareness of domestic violence and what we can do to help victims. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This post is not sponsored, but brought to from the bottom of my heart. 

Source: www.centerforvictims.org

Being honest, October is a tough month for me. Almost seven years ago, I got out of an abusive relationship, then in October, had a baby as a single mother. Knowing this month is the month to bring about awareness should make me feel stronger that I got out, but it does bring up some bad memories and angry feelings that there are still women out there in situations like I was.

Situations where women feel like they have to wear long sleeves, explain bruises, or not go out to see their friends at all because it’s just too hard to tell your story. Situations where women cannot give the whole truth to their families and friends (like I have yet to really, truly do because I carried such shame and baggage over it). Situations where children hide their ears under their pillows at night because they don’t want to hear dad yelling at or hitting mom.

We joke that “the struggle is real”, but it is. 

It really is. I found stats on the No More campaign page that states:

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetime
  • 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape

That’s a really frightening statistic, considering how many women and men we know, right? It’s real. And let me tell you, even a small hit or verbal abuse is unacceptable in my book. Everyone deserves to be safe and supported, which is why I am thankful for places like Center for Victims.

With this being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, there are plenty of ways we can get involved in helping victims of domestic violence such as men taking a pledge to not participate in violence in women or wearing purple and telling people you are doing it in honor (or memory) of a loved one who has been in a DV relationship. Places like Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims are here to provide “free and confidential services, advocacy, and education for victims of all crime in Allegheny County”, not just victims of domestic violence. They also accept financial donations or goods (such as used cell phones, toiletries, or diapers).

I’d like to ask my friends, family, and followers to consider making a donation to the Center for Victims via either a used cell phone or a financial donation. Sure, we’re mostly virtual connections around here, so if you’d like to donate financially, you can send a donation right online. If you’re interested in donating a used cell phone, drop me a line at lilburghers@gmail.com so we can coordinate a pickup.

If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or abusive relationship and are in Pittsburgh, you can contact the Center for Victims via their 24-hour support line (1-866-644-2882). If not, you can use this state-by-state resource from the National Network to End Domestic Violence website. You deserve it. You are worth it. 

Rutz Skincare: Infused with Love

*articles may contain affiliate links*

 

As I told you yesterday, I owe my 2 days of makeup free face to Rutz Skincare products. These organic skincare products are “rooted in goodness” as their website says. It’s obvious that love and care go into the creation, packaging, marketing, and selling of the line.

Seriously. Look at my face. No makeup. Out in public two days. No one looked at my funny. It meant a lot to me because the past few weeks, my skin has HATED me. Even when I swear by my usual go to acne cleanser. It was pretty embarrassing to get a facial in the state my skin was in – but I found I really need those moments in time. Oh, the photo!

No filter!

Not only did I get to test out the products in my in-house facial at Metamorphosis Organic Spa, but I got to take home four products that really have made my skin glow.

Rutz Skincare Products

First up is the Just Breathe facial wash. This is a smooth cleanser that literally lets your pores breathe. A little goes a long way, and I think the price is well worth it.

Next, I use the In Your Face elixir mist as a skin refresher. I’ll admit – I haven’t quite mastered the “close your eyes and spray the mist on your face” move quite yet. I’ve hit my eyes twice now and it wasn’t pretty. This is something I am working on. Luckily, the mist is 99% natural and did not burn my eyes. 😉

Speaking of eyes, Eye Conquered  is a light-weight moisturizer that obviously you’d use on your eyes, but it’s also perfect for lightly dabbing all over your face. Before going to bed on Saturday, I couldn’t help but post a photo of the label – I love that these products are based in Pittsburgh and “infused with love”!

And finally, I got to give the Smooth Talker rich moisturizer a try. This is perfect for tired feet and dry hands…or a “baby spa” evening with your ‘lil ones who were jealous of your night at the spa. It’s incredibly smoothing but without the greasy feel. I am truly in love with this product and will likely blow through my sample within two weeks. Good thing a full size tub is only $24!

You can find out more about the lovely / loving you line of Rutz Skincare (by the way, it’s said “roots”!) on their website, Facebook, and Twitter OR head over to Metamorphosis Spa for a treatment with these products. Either way, you win and will feel the love.

Look Good. Feel Good. With Metamorphosis Spa

*articles may contain affiliate links*

 

It’s been a crappy few weeks in my world. Crappy as in…my first migraine, saying goodbye to my Grandma, a trip to the ER, a sick visit/breathing treatments for Arianna, packing, and more. But we are moving past that, and for part of it, I have to thank the ladies of Metamorphosis Organic Spa of Pittsburgh. Myself and three other Pittsburgh Mom Bloggers (love my tribe!) were treated to an evening at the Spa to relax, look good, and feel good. Might I say, it worked.

First of all, one of my peeves about Pittsburgh is parking. Yes, my trip to Metamorphosis Spa started out with a small parking headache. I hate parallel parking in Lawrenceville, but knowing what was awaiting me, I sucked it up and got a spot. It is not impossible just trust me. And well worth it when you walk up to this:

Metamorphosis Spa

I was stunned at the beauty, and I hadn’t even walked inside. When you do, however, you immediately feel an energy from every employee and customer. It was 6:00 on a Thursday evening and the place was full of business. Clients getting their hair cut/styled, yogis coming in for class, and us mom bloggers joining each other back at the beauty bar/pedicure area (which is my favorite part of the whole spa because purple paint, gorgeous chandeliers, and vintage wallpaper that I just had to share).

So serene and gorgeous @spapgh

…and how happy do Nicole and I look in the pedicure chairs?

Source: Rutz Skincare Facebook

I spoke of energy, then post us “sleeping”. We were just so relaxed just by being there. Forget their wine bar,  the serene music, the amazing massage I got on my tired feet (more on that another day), or the other services offered. We were just happy being there!

While we were there, the other mamas got a chair massage while I enjoyed a foot soak and rub (with Rutz Skincare “Oh-So Smoothie” and “Smooth Talker”, available at www.rutzskincare.com –and another post on this organic company whose products are what Metamorphosis uses/swears by). Additionally, we got a mini facial (which used the “Just Breathe” cleanser and “In Your Face” Elixir face spray…ahhhh-mazing).

Can I seriously tell you something about this facial?  I am ready to be signed up for a treatment every single month just to relax in the facial room and have someone else scrub my face. Facials start at $55 and last 45-60 minutes. Additionally…I seriously have not worn makeup the past two days because this made my skin so healthy and happy (will post that photo on my Rutz review, but if you follow me on Instagram, you already have seen the look). Sign me up now.

We chilled in the beauty bar and learned about the services that Metamorphosis Spa offers and I really didn’t want to go home. There’s a yoga studio that’s intimate (about 8-10 people per class) and will start offering kids’ yoga soon. There are two adorable massage rooms with sliding barn doors to open up if you’d like a couple’s massage. And a sauna treatment can be added to your experience for just $5.

Holiday gift? You can so count me in for a trip to @spapgh to relax here. ♡

Seriously, I hope some of my girls or my husband will be on board for a return trip. I am ready, and it’s only been three days since I left. Thank you, Metamorphosis Spa, for hosting us Mom Bloggers!

Check Metamorphosis Spa out on Facebook and Twitter!

Walk in, feel the energy immediately. @spapgh

Styleout on a Sunday

Disclaimer: I was asked to review services at a local business. All opinions are 100% my own. I received services in exchange for this post.

Sundays are a great day for some me time (usually). Today I had planned on traveling out to Ross Park Mall (off of McKnight Road in Pittsburgh) to review Styleout Bar and get some me time. Arianna has been sick, so since she was finally feeling better, we made it a family trip instead. When we got there and she asked to stay with, however, family time had to come to an end. Ladies, if you’ve never had a blowout, set yourself up for one and be open to the hour of pampering. Trust me, you’ll just feel better.

Here’s how I got styled out today…

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First, I should let you know that I did not set my own appointment the Styleout Bar. A PR Rep assisted me with finding the best hour in my schedule, and we decided 12-1 today worked best. But, I did get an email confirmation on Thursday that was 1) super helpful and 2) slightly confusing as to whether or not I confirmed I’d be there. (I was able to click confirm more than once and it didn’t ever give me a message that I was truly confirmed, but AWESOME nonetheless.)

I learned ahead of time (and some while on site) that Styleout Bar has four locations, one of which is in Pittsburgh. These blowout bars are designed to place focus on luxury blowouts – so there’s no hair cutting or coloring to be found in these salons. You can, however, get your eyebrows threaded, nails done (enamel or gel), and professionally applied makeup in addition to the blowouts.

On our way to Ross Park, I had to figure out where would be best to park. Parking in our city stresses me out. Even at locations that have abundant parking (like the mall). Luckily, I hopped on the Ross Park Mall’s website and was directly guided to entrance 4 (between Nordstrom and Sears). Major win in my book.

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When I first arrived at Styelout Bar, it was pretty much what I expected from their website information. It was bright and clean, and I knew right away it was where I was going (without having to consult the storefront signage). The only thing that disheartened me is that I was the lone customer until someone came in as I was checking out. Hint: More ladies need to be treating themselves in this city.

Styleout Bar

 

And clearly, I needed to treat myself. Well, to be fair, I went for a run and tan this morning, so I was looking a ‘lil disheveled before going inside. Let me be honest. I am a busy mom and a I probably often look like this:

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I needed help.

Cynthia was more than willing to help out, and she not only made me feel beautiful, she was friendly and welcoming, too. I got seated in a comfy salon chair and didn’t have to look at my mop anymore (the mirrors are above the bar that the stylists use to hold their tools which is awesome because you can’t see how things are progressing). We talked about my hair and what I typically (don’t) do to it and she gave me a book with a list of several different looks to pick from. I liked the Classic Straight which would have given some volume, but because my hair does have a natural wave, opted for a mesh between that and the loose curls of Muse (just to see what my fine hair would do).

I got to partake in my favorite activity – having someone else wash my hair – and relax. My stylish (Cynthia) gave me a very large wineglass of water which made me feel special, too. It was an all around comforting experience. Before I knew it, the hour passed by and my hair was ready for the reveal. I was pleased (but I’m gonna make you wait another minute before sharing the photo).

We talked about h0w long it will last (I’ll likely have volume for a few days and not need to shampoo my hair until Tuesday or Wednesday). Some ladies (with thick hair, for instance) can  make a blowout last  a week. My hair felt light and airy, but she used products on me – so we talked about the two she used and I eagerly purchased them with the promise I’d go light with t hem.

While we didn’t talk about me setting up a return visit, I think I might. Or, I might think about bringing a friend or two there for a girl’s night (they’ve got packages) or perhaps let Arianna get a blowout someday. To be pampered is definitely worth it.

I left Sytleout and tried to find my family. Greg and the kids walked right toward me and didn’t even recognize me. I had to follow them into a store and say HEY. It was that good. Now I just need to learn to take more morning me time and do this more often. Right?

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You can schedule your own time at Styleout Bar at http://www.styleoutbar.com/. They are on Facebook and Twitter, too. Blowouts start at $35.

The Mountaintop

Disclaimer: I received tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Source: City Theatre

It’s late night on April 3, 1968. The audience is in the walls of Memphis’ Lorraine Hotel, room 306. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. enters the room for the last night of his life. This night followed one of Dr. King’s legendary speeches, his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

In a mix of history and fiction, playwright Katori Hall depicts Dr. King’s last night as one spent “with” Camae, a hotel maid, as he waits for his friend Ralph to return with a pack of cigarettes.

Admittedly, at first I was a bit uncomfortable watching as Dr. King (played by Albert Jones) and Camae (played by Bianca LaVerne Jones) took City Theatre’s stage with some dirty, flirtatious dialogue. It felt on the verge of irreverent, but something told me, “just wait, just wait”.

(L-R) Bianca LaVerne Jones, Albert Jones Credit: Kristi Jan Hoover
(L-R) Bianca LaVerne Jones, Albert Jones
Credit: Kristi Jan Hoover

As Camae brought to light some of the things about Dr. King (that may or may not have been true), it was evident she knew a lot about him. And with good reason.

I won’t spoil the play, but the dynamic between Dr. King and Camae came to a beautiful intersection. It ends with a moving look at how “passing the baton” in the Civil Rights movement went from Dr. King to today. It was so intense that I told Greg I thought he was going to squeeze my hand off…after we gave a standing ovation through tears. I knew I was going to cry!

(L-R) Albert Jones, Bianca LaVerne Jones Credit: Kristi Jan Hoover
(L-R) Albert Jones, Bianca LaVerne Jones
Credit: Kristi Jan Hoover

In short, this is a must-see for anyone who is able to make it to City Theatre by February 9.

Stylish Sundays at Swank Hair Studio

Disclosure: I received a free “Blogger Blowout” from Swank Hair Studio in exchange for writing this post. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

I am literally blown away by the service I received on Sunday when I went to Swank Hair Studio for their first “Stylish Sundays” event. There were so many things I loved, it’s probably best to make a list.

Jealous yet? Stay tuned to the end of this post for the details on how you can get the experience from Swank that I did.

Swank Hair Studio
Source: Swank Hair Studio

1. The studio was gorgeous. It’s located in Lawrenceville (at 3507 Butler Street, Pittsburgh) and has historic touches with modern colors, lighting, and beauty. My pictures might not do it any justice (the camera is acting up), but I’ll try to show you…

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2. The event itself. Stylish Sundays is an event series the Studio has started this fall, offering 1/2 price blowouts from 10-3 (no appointment necessary) and a bonus for your return visit – when you book your next appointment at the event, you’ll receive 10% any service AND if you book a chemical treatment, you’ll receive a free lip -or- eyebrow wax!

3. More love for the event! Pretty Living PR, a PR firm here in Pittsburgh, is helping with the series. If you’re in business and need some PR consulting, the ladies of Pretty Living PR are available during the event for complimentary PR consultations (including social media, press coverage, and more!). What a great resource for women in business in Pittsburgh.

4. Getting my hair done. I have been a hot mess when it comes to my hair. In September, I got (what I thought was) a great hair cut (yes) and color (maybe not so much) and have been trying to keep it up and look fabulous ever since. I literally ran a brush through my hair, got in the car, and headed to Swank. Melissa, the owner, took control of my hair. She actually investigated it (realizing the blue streaks I got and thought “went away” turned my hair GREEN), and tackled the task of giving my ‘do a blowout. It was my first ever, so I am not 100% sure what to have expected, but she went above and beyond, making me feel fabulous. I’ll be back, and not just because I was asked to come check them out! 

5. The service. All the stylists, Pretty Living PR, and small business ladies in the studio were so kind and fun. They let me bring the kids, and even shared stories of their own kids. I didn’t feel left out of some inner circle (yes, I’ve felt this way at a salon before) or pressured to get some service. It was truly exceptional. And, I really felt like…

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6. More about the event! Stylish Sundays offers not only the great things I’ve mentioned above, but features local businesses during the event. This time around, it was sweets from Bella Christie  (yum, hadn’t had them yet, but will be finding their truck next time I am in Aspinwall!) and Alexia Rose Jewelry. I did a ‘lil shopping, and so did Arianna. Love that they have helped other small businesses get business, too! Women in business have to stick together! 

Bella Christie
Red Velvet Cake Pops!
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Gorgeous finds, great prices!

 

Ari’s new bracelet Source: Swank Hair Studio’s Facebook

7. How much I loved staring at myself the rest of the day. And that I know you all deserve a day like this, too. You can get your special treatment (1/2 off a blowout) at any of the remaining Stylish Sundays at Swank from 10 AM to 3 PM on November 10 or December 8. More information, and to “RSVP” is on their Facebook page and event page.

See? Amazing. Thank you, Melissa and Swank Hair Studio!

Blogger Blowout
Source: Swank Hair Studio

 

Want your own time to get pampered? Swank Hair Studio gave me a $10 Gift Certificate for being one of the first ones through their doors on Sunday. I want to share the love and am hosting a giveaway. One lucky reader will get a $10 gift certificate for Swank Hair Studio. Enter through 11/8/13.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Deer Lakes Park

Today, I am sharing a local gem with you, Deer Lakes Park. We’ve been there many times before, but this last trip was an eye opener–there’s a secret playground that is hands-down the best in the area. (Thanks to my co-worker for sharing it with me!) This post will also be posted on South Hills Mom, a blog about kid-friendly resources in Pittsburgh’s South Hills. Head on over and say hello for me, ok? 

My family is no stranger to Deer Lakes Park, an Allegheny County Park in Tarentum. (Okay, technically it’s a lot closer to West Deer than it is to Tarentum, where we live.) We’ve spent hours running around the ponds, searching for frogs and fish, and enjoying this playground:

Source: Allegheny County Park’s Website

The playground is just fine, there is a variety of equipment that the kids enjoy, but it’s pretty much just a standard playground. (I’ll admit, the mulch ground cover isn’t my favorite since the four of us typically wear flip flops.) Not shown is a spray park, but we’ve never taken the kids there because when it is open, it is quite busy.

When a co-worker told me about a “hidden” playground out in the picnic grove area, I was excited. When cousin E spent the day with us, we decided it would be the perfect day to burn some extra calories and have a picnic and playdate in the park.

Deer Lakes Park
Our Picnic at Deer Lakes Park

That picture doesn’t do the park justice, but I’ll admit blogging about the day wasn’t at the top of my mind (sorry!). What is behind our picnic table is a park that has a rubberized ground cover, is accessible, and has sections for ages 2-5 and 5-12. Probably not surprising, our accident prone Evan fell while there, but it wasn’t on the rubber, just inches away. If he had fallen on the rubber, he likely would not have skinned his ‘lil knee. By accessible, I mean that you can get the entire way up to the top via a ramp that starts right at ground level. And the age levels are marked off by clear signs:

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And the swings are even clearly marked as to what age they are for. We know this, because it helped us determine that Evan is a ‘lil peanut for sure:

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Beyond your “standard” swings, slides, and monkey bars, this playground has a rock climbing wall, spiders’ nest, bridge, fun mirrors, telescope, balance beams, “crocodile rock” swinging obstacle, and more. Greg may not have been the best role model and took on the playground as though it were an “American Ninja Warrior” course because the equipment was so fun. Arianna loved being a ‘lil daredevil and climbed to the top of anything and everything she could. E and Evan equally enjoyed the course, too.

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While I love the park, I feel that I would have hated it if Evan had been any younger (he’s a small 32 months). There are a few educational tic-tac-toe boards and artwork (like the American Sign Language Alphabet and “hello” in several languages) ; however, there are no parts geared toward under 2, including the swings.

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Educational Tic-Tac-Toe about trees!

Adults would appreciate the rubberized ground, but there’s not a track nearby. One other thing I didn’t love about it was the porta potty (never fun with a ‘lil one who is usually potty trained but has stress accidents). (To be fair, I think many parks have porta potties.)

All in all, Deer Lakes Park is definitely a gem that we’ll keep in our back pocket for nice days. Sure, it’s a bit out of the way, even for us; however, the kids (and adults) loved it. The ‘lil Burghers definitely give this portion of the park our seal of approval.

Deer Lakes Park, 1090 Bailey Run Road, Tarentum, PA 15084

Navigating to the park wasn’t tough, but if you’re not from the area, it’s not the easiest to find. First, to get to Deer Lakes Park, you’d probably exit 28 at Creighton, then turn to the right and then left at the light by Sheetz. At the next light, Bailey Run Road, turn left and follow it out to a stop sign a few miles in. Take a left, then the park entrance is off on the right about a mile up that road. You’ll see the (original) playground on the right, then about a mile up the road on the left is the entrance to the grove area. Take it all the way back. All the way! At the last grove, down on the right, is THE playground. (Okay, talk about Pittsburgh directions!)

If you’re interested in more photos from our adventure, check out my set on Flickr–there were so many fun moments that I couldn’t include them all in this post.

A Win for Families in Pittsburgh: #ppsafterschool

Disclosure: This content has been compensated as part of an Early Childhood Education promotion for Pittsburgh Public Schools. However, all opinions remain my own. #ppsafterschool

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Source: Jason Cohn

What’s the main reason Greg and I maintain a working mom / stay-at-home dad family balance? Because balancing work, child care, and soon school are not the easiest jobs in the world. We’re lucky that I’m able to work to provide for the family, but not everyone has that flexibility. As you know, we went back and forth in the spring about what to do regarding Arianna’s (pre-)schooling, and finally settled in on a public school program that fits our family’s needs.

Our decision would have been a whole lot easier if we lived in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district. Their Early Education Childhood Department “provides children, ages birth to five, with a comprehensive, educational program” with some of the programs being at no-cost to income eligible families.  There’s even a “Ready Freddy” program designed for kids Arianna’s age (4 going on 20, I mean 5) that is part of the PPS’ “Transition to Kindergarten” outreach. With programs like this, her October birthday never would have been an issue. She would have stayed in the preschool program for ages 3-5 then transitioned to kindergarten in 2014.

(Like any parents, we know think our kid is a genius. She went to pre-3 for 2 years at a private school, then we hoped to test her into private kindergarten. The school wasn’t really supporting our decision, so this year she’ll be in a public school program and start kindergarten when her same-age peers do. Let’s hope she can be tested for gifted SOON!)

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Source: Jason Cohn

The Early Childhood Program supports learning at an early age to help children avoid the “start behind, stay behind” paradox. As a former teacher, that’s why I pushed so hard to ensure my kids had access to programs like this. With me spending the majority of my time away from the kids, I want to be sure they have resources to prepare them for school. (Greg is amazing with the kids, but when it comes to working on writing, reading, and math, we agree that we’ll be relying on teachers for help with this area.) If our children have this background, they will start kindergarten at or ahead, setting them up for success down the line (like when it’s time for standardized tests).

Beyond the fact that the Early Childhood Education Program is offered five days a week, six hours a day, includes breakfast and lunch and at no cost for many families, Pittsburgh Public Schools will be offering an incredible win for families of Pre-K to 5th grade students this year–an after school care program. (This is exactly why I fretted so much about school for Arianna, I was going to have to rush around either before or after school to have her in an “all day” preschool program.)

For families with children enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools (Pre-K to 5th grade), there are five schools offering this program–Pittsburgh: Brookline, Colfax, Crescent Early Childhood Center, Morrow, and Phillips. Students will be able to enroll in part-time or full-time care (provided until 6:30 PM, daily) at a low cost ($28 per day for 2 days a week to $13 per day for 5 days a week). In exchange, they will get homework help and participate in thematic programming and partnerships with local organizations like the Carnegie Science Center, Gateway to the Arts and Jump Start. The students will be in a safe environment and work on age-appropriate activities.

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Source: Jason Cohn

This sounds like a great alternative to balancing schedules and rushing around at the end of the work day, doesn’t it? For my family, a program that combines the Early Childhood Program and the After School Program would be a huge win. Just enrolling Arianna, we’d get after school care for $13 per day or less than $300 per month. (This would be in addition to the PreK program, which would be at no cost for income eligible families or about $650 for those who don’t meet the income eligibility.) Across nine months of school (since the program runs the school year schedule), the year-long spread of costs would never come close to the impact day care could have on a single income family. Although we chose to go the public school route this year, putting a low cost like this on education would be well worth it, in my opinion–when compared to other high quality programs, the value and cost are so worth it. Especially because the curriculum prepares the PreK students to enter Kindergarten classroom by aligning standards so there’s no gap.

If you have children in Pittsburgh Public Schools and are interested in applying, the application deadline is August 9, 2013 (which is next week!). Applications are available online at www.pps.k12.pa.us/earlychildhood or parents can request a hard copy by calling the Early Childhood Department at 412-325-4291.

I am participating with a number of other Pittsburgh bloggers to write about this incredible opportunity for Pittsburgh families. If you are interested in reading the other posts, I highly suggest searching Twitter and Facebook book for #ppsafterschool for more posts from us. 

Pittsburgh Tip: River’s Edge

For Greg’s birthday, I got him a certificate for River’s Edge Canoe and Kayak (in Leechburg) for all day tubing for two. We redeemed it over the weekend and quite honestly can’t wait to go back.

Disclaimer: We participated in this activity at our own cost, but thought our readers would enjoy learning about this Pittsburgh Fun activity. All opinions are 100% my own.

River's Edge Leechburg

Our day at River’s Edge technically began when Greg made our reservation. He got us a 1:30 reservation, but that’s not a normal time to start tubing. They recommend between 12 and 12:30 due to the need to have time to get the whole way from drop-point to ramp before they close; however, since we had oil changes scheduled, they were a little flexible with us. (I think this impacted the distance we got to travel, but it really was okay with me…we had plenty of time and distance on the water.)

When we pulled up, there was ample parking (and they’ll hold your key so you don’t lose it in the river). We had to sign waivers and got to look around their store. Not only do they have tubing, but River’s Edge has a variety of services including canoe/kayak rentals, bait shop, and landscaping. Next we got loaded into a van and whisked about 2 miles up river. The path down to the river was a sort of steep (I want to find out if there’s an easier “launch” spot so my dad could come with us some time!) and led us to a shallow-ish area where we were able to launch our tubes.

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The river felt amazing on this hot day, but we got launched and started a slow, beautiful journey down river. To be honest, it was nice to put the phone down and just BE with my husband for a few hours. We talked, we laughed, he imagined something was going to grab him out of the water (and thus tried to stay out of the deeper areas). We lounged along the river bank and saw some deer. We swam, we went down “rapids” once and then walked back up to do it again. (Dear Greg, I can’t wait to actually go on rapids, sir.) We enjoyed the sun. We laughed (did I mention that already?). We rested. We were at peace.

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Our 2 miles took us about 2 1/2 hours and then we were back at the ramp at River’s Edge. It was a great day, and comes at a great price for a date or a group outing (it’d be very fun to link a bunch of friends up and tube down the river).

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You can link up with them on Facebook and stay up to date with all the latest fun happening on the River. Greg and I highly suggest you get on up river and enjoy a peaceful day. Bring along sunscreen, a cooler, and a water proof pack to hold a camera. You won’t be sorry. Have fun!

Oakland Farmers Market

One of my favorite things about summer is getting fresh produce. We’re lucky to live in a city full of great places to get fresh veggies, including The Oakland Farmers Market.

On Fridays, you can visit this market in Schenley Plaza from 3-6 PM. While I haven’t been myself, I am intrigued and will try to make it out there one of these days. Not only is there fresh food, there are also some local vendors mixed in:

-My Goodies Bakery
-Christoff’s Farm &Greenhouses
-Sito’s
-Dillner Family Farm
-Quiroz Farm
-Zeke’s Coffee
-Vibo’s Italian Bakery

You can find out more on their website (http://oaklandfarmersmarket.org/) or on Only in Oakland on Facebook.

Oakland Farmers Market

If you’ve been, share your experience in the comments!