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Entries in Erin Karpewicz (4)

Tuesday
May222012

Deciding to Stay

Twelve months ago I am not sure I could have written a post for this blog spot—my family was ready for a move and a little more square footage, but not sure to where.   Would we stay or would we go? So far, we had loved raising our daughter in the city, but that was not a planned decision, our family simply evolved in the house I bought years ago as a single twenty something.  Now it felt like we had a lot more riding on the question of where to live.  We knew where our hearts were, but we had a kid now, it was time to listen to our heads.    

 

Where will she go to school?  Would she be the only child over age five in the area?  Where will we put all of our stuff?   Will we be happy without grass? Everyone has their own unique questions and possible answers, but these were weighing on our minds.  We decided to keep all of our options open and looked everywhere, downtown, further north in the city and in suburbs all around the beltway. 

 

Ultimately, we decided to buy downtown again and will be staying awhile.  In addition to listening to our hearts (all the usual reasons folks love downtown: playgrounds, restaurants, museums, shops and the harbor), here are a few other reasons we decided to stay: 

 

Short commuting time.  My husband works downtown and since he is away from home for work the most, having a short commute home for him was important to both of us. Nothing beats his 15 minute commute and now, the fact that either one of us can walk our daughter to or from her daycare is an amazing perk and greatly improves our quality of life. 

 

School choices.  Yes, you read that right- the school choices. Often people cite schools as one of the big reasons they are leaving. I understand that- there are obviously some really top notch schools in the surrounding suburbs.  But the fact is that downtown has some really outstanding schools as well, and I appreciate City Schools’ policy of giving me a lot of choice over which one my daughter can attend.  Being involved with DBFA has allowed us to meet other downtown parents who have already tested the local public schools with positive results.  There is also a growing list of private school options, for both preschool and elementary schools we have become aware of over the last couple of years.  I do not know anything for sure, but my understanding of what schools are out there, as well as my experience attending a downtown public charter school myself, makes me feel good about our options.  A list of great downtown schools can be found here

 

An alley instead of a yard.  At our old house, whenever we had a blizzard or even just a good snowstorm, we had a great time hanging out with our alley neighbors, sharing food, drinks and snow shovels.  The kids would play for hours and the fun extended throughout the year into hurricane season as well.  Our new ‘hood has an alley with tons of kids and we are looking forward to having alley neighbors again.  Although my husband initially wanted a yard, the low level of maintenance required of a townhouse eventually won him over because of our busy lifestyle.  If we want grass we walk around the corner and play for awhile, leaving the mowing to someone else!

 

Deciding to stay can be a tough decision.  If you are considering it and would like to talk with other parents in the area, let us know—email info@dbfam.org.  DBFA and its network of veteran downtown parents would love to answer any questions you may have. 

 

Erin Karpewicz lives in Locust Point with her husband and four year old daughter.  They recently moved from Canton where they lived for over ten years.  Erin has served on the DBFA Board of Directors since the organization’s inception in 2008. 

 

 

Thursday
Jan192012

Volunteering With Children: Meals on Wheels

Guest post by DBFA board member, Erin Karpewicz.

For me, volunteering and “giving back” has taken on different forms over the years—from rolling up my sleeves to work on a habitat house and going door to door on political campaigns to shuffling papers for nonprofit boards whose missions I love. But it has just been recently that I have started to think about how to volunteer in a way that involves my young daughter. Awhile back when our daughter was two, I “volunteered” my husband to move DBFA’s storage unit to a bigger space. She came with us and climbed over everything, ran through the halls, and had a ball while we moved everything and prayed she did not get locked in a storage locker. Afterwards, every time we would pass Canton Storage (in the “Natty Boh Building”) my child would say, “Mommy, I really want to go volunteeeeeer!” That was cute and all but I knew she did not understand what volunteering was all about and that would be one more thing to add to my List of Important Things I Need to Teach My Kid. But what the heck do you do with a toddler that is both socially meaningful and at least somewhat beneficial to those you are serving?

After both of my Grandmothers passed away last year, I felt that volunteering to serve other elderly people would be a good fit for me, and bringing along my daughter would hopefully elicit the same smiles and joy as when we would visit my Grandmother and her neighbors back in Ohio. I came across a brochure for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland and decided to give that a try, as I was familiar with their mission (I remember tagging along with my Grandmother as a child to deliver meals!) and was pleased that they did not require a significant time commitment.

After completing an online application, which also authorized the organization to conduct a background check on me, I was contacted by Vicky Hall, one of their very friendly volunteer coordinators. I told her that I wanted to bring my daughter and she was excited to have more young people coming in to help and talked to me about how to make it a “family friendly” experience, asked which location was best for me (they have more than a few locations, including on in Federal Hill and their main office in Highlandtown). Since that time, my daughter and I have volunteered one Friday per month. After a couple of trial runs with Vicky, which included her riding around with us until we learned the route of 8-10 homes (you may request the same route/stops each time), we got to drive and deliver meals on our own just before Christmas. Now that my daughter is four, it is easy for her to get in and out of the car and come with me to each door. Door to door, the whole route takes just about an hour. Sometimes she helps carry the meals, and folks along the way like seeing a young face along for the ride. We are still getting to know people, but already she has made some friends and scored a few treats along the way. 

Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, Inc. serves homebound individuals, regardless of age, providing professionally prepared nutritious meals via personal delivery. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit their website at www.mealsonwheelsmd.org or contact their office at 443-573-0925 or  volunteer@mowcm.org.  Meals on Wheels also provides opportunities to volunteer through its Phone Pals Program and is a great place to volunteer with school aged children during school holidays and teacher in service days.

Erin Karpewicz has lived in Canton for almost 10 years, where she now shares a home with her husband and three year old daughter. She works as a Projects Planner for Anne Arundel County's housing and community development agency and serves on the DBFA Board of Directors.

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Check back in coming months to read our Volunteering With Children series. If you would like to be included  in the series, or know of a great family friendly volunteer opportunity, please contact us at blog@dbfam.org or leave a comment in the comment section.

Wednesday
Jul132011

Downtown Farmers' Markets Guide

Guest Post by Erin Karpewicz

I love to cook, but since my time is so precious these days, I rarely make the fancy feasts that helped me win over my husband’s heart (he says I tricked him!).  Fortunately for me, and my family, plenty of farmers markets have popped up around downtown making a quick, healthy meal very accessible during these busy summer months.  Tonight, we got in late after swimming at our friends’ pool.  I hadn’t planned dinner, but I had lots of spinach, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes on hand, so I just whipped it all up with some eggs and cheese to make a quick frittata.  Dessert was the batch of cherries my 3 year old busily pitted while I cooked.  Nothing fancy, but all was tasty, plus I managed to get some vegetables in our bellies after pigging out on pizza and cupcakes for lunch. 

The Southeast Anchor Library’s Outreach Coordinator is at the Highlandtown Farmers Market doing a kid activity every week.  Here she is making bead bracelets with some children.

The great thing about our local farmers' markets is that along with the vegetables, most of them feature naturally raised beef, eggs and milk products, as well as food venders selling meals on the spot and local crafts people.  You no longer have to run out to the ends of another county to pick up some organic milk, and picking up a CSA share is an option at a number of markets these days.  Going to the market can be a fun family friendly outing in itself, with interesting things to see and do.  Not to mention, my daughter will be more likely to eat the vegetables if she helps pick them out.  Below is a description of some of our local farmers markets, and a few of my family’s favorite things about them.  I hope you will share some of yours in the comments section!

My daughter playing with the hula hoops provided by the library at the Highlandtown Farmers Market.

Highlandtown Farmers Market
Thursdays, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
400 Block of Conkling Street
Runs through October 13, 2011

Important Information: Ample metered parking on nearby streets.  Market accepts debit cards. 

What We Like About It:  I might be biased, since I live down the street, but it is so great to have a weeknight market to pop over to when I need some supplies before my regular weekend grocery run.  This market is also a great place for a stroll with my daughter, with plenty of room to roam around and enjoy the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s kid activities, hula hoops and ice pops.  When we went last, there was a ukulele player who was biking around the country performing… I cannot wait to go back and see what’s next!

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The Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Baltimore Museum of Industry Parking Lot and Pavillion (1415 Key Highway)
Runs through October 8, 2011

Important Information: Plenty of free parking in lot for those not close enough to walk.  Market will be closed on September 3rd due to the Grand Prix race. 

What We Like About It:  This market has a great mix of vendors, from farm produce to naturally raised beef, but it is not crowded so you can move around with a stroller and take your time.  The covered pavilion provides a wonderful amount of shade in the hot sun, and the museum’s outdoor sculptures and proximity to the Inner Harbor make for great kid diversions. 

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Fells Point Farmers Market
Saturdays, 7:30-11:30 a.m.
Broadway Square (at the end of Broadway and Thames St.)
Runs through November 12, 2011

Important Information: $3 parking in PMS Garage on Caroline for those not in walking distance.

What We Like About It:  Broadway Square was also the site of an open air farmers' market over 200 years ago… it’s fun to go back to our food buying roots!  This is a beautiful market, with an increasing variety of produce and products, and like the other neighborhood based markets, you do not have to fight crowds.  I love this place because after I have loaded up on food stuff, I can keep shopping at all of the quaint retail establishments that surround the square.

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Baltimore’s Farmers Market and Bazaar (JFX Farmer’s Market)
Sundays, 7:00-12:00 noon
Under the Jones Falls Expressway (JFX) at Holiday and Saratoga Streets
Runs through December 18, 2011

Important Information: See website for directions and parking information, list of farmers and vendors. 

What We Like About It:  People come from all over Baltimore to do their weekly shopping at this bustling market, so nothing compares to its expansive variety of farmers, vendors and artists/craftspeople.  When my daughter used to get up at the crack of dawn, this was the only place where we could find signs of life so early on a Sunday morning, as well as Mini Donuts, Zeke’s coffee, and Nutin But The Juice fresh squeezed OJ.  Yummy.   

Erin Karpewicz has lived in Canton for almost 10 years, where she now shares a home with her husband and three year old daughter. She works as a Projects Planner for Anne Arundel County's housing and community development agency and serves on the DBFA Board of Directors.

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For more information on local farmers' markets, visit our website. If you have a City Spot you would like to share, please email us at blog@dbfam.org.

Monday
Mar142011

This City Spot: Canton's Waterfront Promenade

From the corner coffee shop to the waterfront promenade, we each have treasured downtown spaces that make the whole city feel like home. In DBFA’s new series, This City Spot, each Monday we will be highlighting one of your special places with a few words and pictures.

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Guest post by Erin Karpewicz, DBFA Board of Directors

I will admit it- there are some days that I wouldn't mind trading my concrete patch in for an expansive backyard with grass.  But one of the many things that keep me happy and content where I live is our close proximity to the waterfront path that runs along Canton's southern border. We do not live on the water, but for me it's a quick walk or jog to access the public promenade- usually by way of the Korean War Memorial, and then I have an amazing "backyard" that makes me feel like I am as lucky as any millionaire with waterfront property. Sometimes I bring my daughter and we watch the ducks, or the boats, or the collection of people fishing during the summer. But mostly I spend my time here alone, early in the morning before she is awake, or occasionally with my running buddy and neighbor, running a slow 10 minute mile enjoying some “me” time.

The path bends and weaves and provides a lot of interesting landmarks to keep us entertained on our route.  The best part is being surrounded by silence, while looking out onto the water in the early morning light-moving along with my own uninterrupted thoughts.  The experience is completely energizing, and can take just 30 minutes for me to come home feeling like a million bucks.      

Erin Karpewicz has lived in Canton for almost 10 years, where she now shares a home with her husband and three year old daughter.  She works as a Projects Planner for Anne Arundel County's housing and community development agency and serves on the DBFA Board of Directors.

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If you have a City Spot you would like to share, please email us at blog@dbfam.org.