Dear Diary,

This summer, my daughter will split her time between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She’ll go on multiple vacation, attend multiple summer camps and even blow out her birthday candles on multiple cakes.  It’s a bit much, yes. But such is the life of a co-parented kid. In order for her summer schedule to occur, we had to coordinate and compromise. In the past, my ex and I didn’t budge. The court mandated order dictated our daughter’s schedule. Make plans on your pre-determined dates. That was our response when the other requested additional time or a swap. But time heals all wounds, and ours are pretty much mended. We’re far from friends–although he called me his bestie recently, But we’re learning the meaning of the word flexible and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel–our daughter’s health and happiness.

To make the most of my time with my little girl, I turn to Summer 18, a youth-centered campaign that provides thousands of local children, grades K-12, with fun, educational learning activities.  Tt’s is a collaboration between Mayor William Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the United Way’s Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time(APOST) as well as various community partners. I can search for summer programs that fit my daughter’s interests and needs by visiting the campaign’s website,

We plan to check out our favorite hot spots, like the Carnegie Museums.

And since her schedule is changing so much, we’ll search the event calendar, powered by Kidsburgh, for festivals and other happenings.

Plus, check out these low- to no-cost activities.

Go to the Movies

Bring your blanket or chair, and visit a Citipark’s Movie in the Park for family activities and fun starting at 8 p.m. Once the sun sets, they start the show, including flicks like Coco, Peter Rabbit and Paddington. Check out the schedule here.

Make a Splash

Go swimming at public pools across Allegheny County for a few dollars. You can even enroll your child in free swimming lessons.

Tap Your Feet

Move to the beat of free concerts in the park, or learn to line dance. Check out the schedule here.

Be Social

Join Diary of a First Time Mom, APOST and the Summer 18 partners as we kick off summer at the#PGHSummer18 Twitter Party. You can share stories about your summer plans. Plus you’ll find out about a ton of opportunities for children and youth across Allegheny County. The party gets underway Friday, June 15th at 12:30. Log onto APOST’s account to follow along!



About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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