22 posts categorized "About You"

Help us maintain uM!

September 11, 2017

Dear Mamas & Papas:  This community has been in existence for a decade.  In that time, the mamas behind the site have come and gone, with more help in some periods than others.  

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Reorganizing your dreams through a divorce

March 16, 2014

I've been quiet here, because for the past six months I've been in the throes of divorce. I think I knew even in the months leading up to the decision what I would eventually do, so for a long time beforehand I was afraid to say anything because everyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve and everything I write.

There has been a lot of hard in this process, and it's far from done. But I think one of the worst parts has been to reorganize my dreams; for myself, for my family unit, for my boys. I've done such expansive and heedless things as write a piece on how I don't plan for divorce with my finances (I still stand behind that post); I've written extensively about what some people call "radical domesticity" and been one of the subjects of a book about it. I know I've said a dozen or a thousand times that I've chosen in the past several years to let my husband take the primary breadwinner role -- his work was intense, too, serving in the Army in Kuwait for three years -- and lead a life that's low on luxuries so I could spend time with the kids, at home, with my writing. (Really, the ultimate luxury.) I've loved how much I could shape the environment for my kids, especially my oldest, who I've unschooled for much of the past three years to help find him a place he can truly belong.

Now I have to find a way to navigate the life I want with a distinctly different set of resources.

Continue reading "Reorganizing your dreams through a divorce" »

Mamas: Finding your BFF

January 13, 2014

Moving to Portland was scary and exciting all at the same time.  We heard rave reviews of the city, we were thrilled at the opportunity to try it out for a spin.  We arrived, 7 months pregnant with 3-year old in tow, and we knew just one or two other people, my partners' colleagues.

The rest is almost history.  That was over ten years ago, and I met my mama BFF within months of moving to Portland.  When we first moved, I was eager to hit the mama-dating circuit, to meet other like-minded families, to share fun & adventures with new-found friends.  We gave birth to urbanMamas.com where countless other mamas & papas have made connections - found life-long friends, care providers, jobs, support through transitions like moves or divorce - all through the urbanMamas community.  Needless to say, I found my mama BFF plus so many other dear, close friends.  

And, then: we moved.  

Two years after the move, I have to say: I am still seeking a new partner-in-crime, a new best mama pal.  I am still seeking that special someone(s) who will make me laugh so hard I pee, who will talk to me about peeing when I run and how to deal with it, who will talk through career issues like working part-time or trailblazing mamahood in the workplace.

Maybe when you find your mama BFF, it's one and only.  Maybe it just takes a bit more time.  Maybe it requires being even more outgoing than ever.

When you move to a new place or start at a new school and start afresh: how do you make friends?  What are you looking for?  Candlelit dinners & walks on the beach?  Similar-aged kids, similar lifestyles, similar family structures or values?  What have you found was the absolute thing that draws you to another mama?


Resolutions: do you make them? what about the kids?

January 06, 2014

As I sift through the archives, I am nostalgic reading our resolutions of yesteryear.  From Sarah, "New Decade, New Resolutions" (circa 2010) featuring writing letters, having conversations, generally stopping to smell the roses.  Two years prior, we were thinking similar themes, "Mama Resolutions for 2008", including reading more and spending more quality time with the spouse.  Some years, we focus on more healthy eating as a resolution (circa 2009), or some years we talk about new resolutions as new life-long commitments.

At the moment, I am not sure.  In years past, I would take out my list of resolutions from last year, cross out the year on top and replace it with the new year date ("read book, learn new piano song, diversify fitness regimen").  I think I shouldn't even think about resolutions anymore for fear that they will continue on unfulfilled.

What about the kids?  Are you starting to talk to them about setting new goals and meeting them?  Is there a lot of resolution-talk in your household?

Of Place and Space: urbanMamas & California

March 12, 2012

 For my family, it is a tale of four cities... so far.

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Almost exactly one year ago, I received a call while I was away for a work trip (I was in Memphis.  With our toddler.)  My husband had bittersweet news.  He was accepted into a doctoral program at UC Berkeley.  They were offering him a complete scholarship.

My heart skipped many beats in that phone conversation.  I might have cried.  Whether they were tears of joy for my partner's accomplishments or whether they were tears of sadness knowing I had to leave, I am still not sure.

What ensued (what still ensues) were (are) weeks of intense planning for the transition: changing schools, selling our home, finding a new one, preparing ourselves financially, setting up a new home, starting at new schools (for the 4 of 5 of us in our family), making new friends.  The most difficult part: hugging our community goodbye.

Continue reading "Of Place and Space: urbanMamas & California" »

Working mothers, hipsters, and what we see when we look at other moms

February 17, 2012

My blog buddy Liz Gumbinner won an award for being a fabulous working mother. And while I don't know any of the intimate details of her at-home life, beyond those on her blog, I can attest that she gets so much done I quake in her shadow, amazed, and her children always wear the most adorable clothes! But, as she says, she doesn't do it all. There are sacrifices she makes -- some so dear she writes long blog posts about them -- and she wanted to acknowledge that. That none of us "have it all." She wrote of the other honorees, "...mostly there a lot of [acceptance speeches] stories in which everyone has a perfectly supportive husband, doting children who never miss us, stellar colleagues, and no need for “me time.”"

Continue reading "Working mothers, hipsters, and what we see when we look at other moms" »

What are your Winter Solstice traditions?

December 23, 2011

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, and I have read a few of your comments this month about your winter solstice traditions -- just enough for my appetite to be whetted, and not enough for any actual knowledge. You say they're simple and magical and lovely, but what are they?

At Hip Mountain Mama Blog, she talks of gifts and breakfast burritos (maybe I'll have those for day-after-solstice!). According to a great Chronicle post, gift-giving, bringing a tree indoors and decorating it, kissing under the mistletoe, jingle bells and reindeer are all connected to solstice traditions that only in the 18th or 19th centuries became adopted by Christianity. Helping those in need in the community does go back to the original St. Nicholas and early Christmas celebrations, but the concept surely didn't begin with him; in no time like the winter are the needy more in need. In pre-industrial societies, the poor would be the ones who hadn't stored up enough food for the winter. In that way, feeding others might be a very pagan thing to do. (Toy drives probably wouldn't have the same resonance.)

For all those who celebrated the season yesterday, either as an addition to or instead of a religious celebration, please let us know how you celebrated! I'd love to take a peak at your magical, simple ways.

Laboring through Labor Day

September 06, 2010

[These are the words to start the post that buzzed through my brain that couldn't sit still that skipped through the weekend that ended the summer that Sarah built...]
In the ongoing debate between 'can't wait' and 'apprehensive about' school starting, I'm firmly in the latter camp. Much though I tempt the children with excitement in my voice and hope in my heart, I'd rather it just stay summer. I've done the Labor Day holiday many ways; camping trips and barbecues and (in the investment banking days) charity picnics where everyone wears big hats; but since I've had kids going back to school, it's been a buzz of preparation and me looking at a list as long as my arm of all the things I wanted to finish, but didn't quite, this summer.

There are peaches in a box in the floor and another one with 20 pounds of cucumbers for pickling; there is a pattern I printed out for preemie-size diapers -- my sister just had a four-pound, nine-ounce baby Friday, teeny and healthy as can be; the laundry with special new clothes is still hanging on the line; the snacks still need to be put into the backpack; I haven't washed dishes since yesterday night. On errands, we stopped to pick up dill from a friend's house for the pickles, and Suzanne was busy with tomato sauce while her son played in the backyard, having already done "all the pickles I need!" on Sunday. Other friends are tallying up their weekend like radical homemaking box scores, three loads laundry, three pints zucchini bread & butters, two apple upside down cakes, 32 pints tomatoes...

Though Labor Day is meant as a break from work, we mamas seem to be mostly laboring. It's nice labor, of course, but surely not what the Founding Holiday Declarers meant. How did you labor this Labor Day?

The new Mama Mag

April 04, 2008

5 1/2 years ago when I was expecting baby number 1, I was ravenous to learn about birth, nursing and motherhood. I was turned on to Mothering magazine by my midwives ( I am still forever grateful for their sage wisdom).  I kept my subscription for 2 years.   At that time some of the articles were feeling a bit stale to me and not necessarily relevant to my situation. I was ready for a change.  About the same time I became pregnant with second daughter and reading anything was thrown out of the window.  My mind was mush. 

Fast forward a few years. I am getting pretty comfortable with my place as mama and I feel I can take on a little side read now and again.  I've picked up Cookie which is a nice change to the typical parent mag layout, but really I can't relate to buying couture clothes for my children or redecorating their room in the latest post modern fashion, much less dress myself like a runway model to hit the coffee shop.  A recent article on MothersMovement.org called out such reads as "parentbling".

I can think of many other magazines to fit under this category. And I must admit, I have enjoyed flipping  through the ad filled pages of Parenting and the likes of other gifted subscritions as a substitute for television while I nursed and tried to make it through the day.  I must also admit that at times I actually enjoyed it. I found it interesting to see what parenting in America was "suppose" to be like. I think it helped me relate, or not, to other mamas at times.

Today, my friend turned me on to a new magazine called Wondertime.  I haven't had a chance to take it in too much yet, but it looks like a more down to earth sort of read. The website links to a stay-at-home-dad blog and a mama turned eco-blogger along with ideas on how to celebrate spring and debates on when to buy organic.  I am intigued.  Could this be the right combination of intellect and eye candy?

I have to thank Mothering for the years of compassionate parenting information that I gained. It is still one of my favorite magazines and I would recommend it to all new and seasoned parents. But for those who are looking for a bit of light reading along with entertainment to comlipent their parenting intellect which new Mama mag should a mama grab?  What do you enjoy about the magazines you read?

Sharing our birthing stories

February 07, 2008

With all this business about The Business of Being Born, we get to thinking, we'd love to hear more stories of our births! Some of us birthed at home, at hospitals, at birthing centers.  Some of us birthed alone, with partners, with friends, with family.

So, it's ON!  Let's share our birth stories here (and read Monica's story for inspriation) or here (when we talked about the culture of induction).

Recongizing the Diversity of urbanMamas

January 27, 2008

We were surprised the other day, when we heard in passing that urbanMamas seemed to be a homogeneous community geared toward "privileged" stay-at-home moms.  The judgment felt ironic to hear, especially since this site is maintained and operated in the off-hours by a handful of mamas, who are all full-time working mamas.  We receive many emails and requests in any given day, and we do our darndest to publish all of them.  We hear from stay-at-home mamas, single mamas, working mamas.  We are middle-income mamas, lower-income mamas, and higher-income mamas.  We are mamas who live in Portland, and we are mamas who live beyond.  We are all of it, here on urbanMamas.

Maybe it's us, but we pride ourselves in the diversity among us.  We love all of you, mamas and papas and many other caregivers, who come to urbanMamas to contribute your honest thoughts and respectful perspectives.  And, they are not all the same.  It rang true when we flipped through comments in a recent thread on saving for college.  We are in different places, financially.  We are different parents, philosophically.  We are have different backgrounds, inherently.

We all have struggles as mamas, and we are here to share thoughts, commiserate, find support.

Certainly there is a certain profile of the mama who feels most comfortable actively participating in our daily conversations.  But, we know there are more of you who read than who comment.  We are certain that our urbanMamas fabric is complex and deep.  We have heard from over a hundred of you as you introduced yourselves a la We Are Family, and we want to hear from you again.  How do you consider youself privileged or underprivileged?  Are you a stay-at-home mama, work-at-home mama, work-out-of-home mama?  Are you single or partnered, car-free or car-less, straight or gay?  Are you white, black, brown, red or purple?  How do you feel marginalized or alientated by our conversations?  How can we, urbanMamas, provide you with more of a voice, represent you more? 

Kindergarten: Raise your hand if you're scared!

August 31, 2007

If you haven't noticed my eldest son, Everett, is starting kindergarten in 10 days, well, you probably have noticed. I'm terrified and excited and nervous and thrilled all at once. A friend a few neighborhoods over emailed, hoping to get together with some other prospective kindergarteners at Abernethy to quell her son's fears -- but Everett's going to Grout! I'd love to meet some to-be-newbies in my own neck of the woods. I wonder how many other mamas are equally nerve-wracked.

Is your oldest child starting kindergarten this fall? Or are you a recent transplant with a child entering a new school where you know next to no one? Or are you the parent of a transfer student? Please pipe up if you'd like to meet other like-minded fellow mamas and kiddos; where is your little one starting school this year?

The Mama Identity

August 04, 2007

So often when we become mothers, or parents, the focal point in our lives shifts onto the new beings who we're responsible for 24/7.  It's very easy to get caught up in the day to day activities and forget altogether about how life was before baby arrived.  Some folks say it's not worth reminiscing since things are different now, what's the point?  Others say it's important to remember your roots, as they are inherently your child's roots too.  So how do you connect with your pre-parenthood roots?  How do you maintain your identity aside from the "Mama Identity"?  One mother offers this story:

This mother is a rock and roll star.  I play in a band that has a regular gig at a popular venue in Portland.  I'm the only "chick" in the band, and the only parent, which means there isn't much talk about mothering/parenting issues -- nor is there more than talk about music, and "boy bantering," which is nice to have.

I love that my daughter can see me playing & singing up on stage, an equal w/ the guys, completely respected as a musician.  I love that she sees mama on stage and understands on some level that it's natural for a woman to be in the spotlight.  But the truth of the matter is, I would do it even if she didn't get that out of it.

In my experience, musical improvisation is hard, but parental improvisation is harder.  So getting together w/ the guys to play is a welcome respite.  It lets me use parts of my brain that don't get much of a workout otherwise.  And even though I'm a mom, I'm not staid.  I'm still a punk, I'm still a rude boy (girl).  I still thrill to the Sex Pistols and the first Pretenders album; I still like striking a pose and acting hard; I still delight in putting on a show, and showing off; I still dress for the occasion; I still feel vibrant and alive onstage,
and I don't feel the least bit bad that at this point in time, my daughter can only watch and not yet participate.

Do other mamas have something all to themselves that is not traditionally Mama-like, or directly beneficial to hearth/home/family?

Sometimes when I contemplate doing something that is frivolous or self-serving... mommy guilt looms over my head and I usually dismiss the idea.  Then again, sometimes I indulge the temptation.  Maybe it's just a w[h]ine night or perhaps a trip to the spa.  But nothing quite as exotic as being in a band.  How exotic is your indulgence?  How do you connect with yourself aside from your parental position?

Feeds we Read

July 24, 2007

Inspired by our recent ability to RSS to urbanMamas comments, which allows us to keep abreast of all the urbanMamas conversation, we got reacquainted with our feeds on our google reader (just recently having switched over from bloglines).  Blogosphere, o blogosphere, how much do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  While there are blogs upon blogs of mama musings (don't forget to peep the urbanMamas blogroll), I dusted off all the other feeds in my reader:

  • Food.  Just in case the hunny and I can steal away for some nice dining without the little folk, it's nice to read up on what's hot and what's not on Portland Food and Drink or ExtraMSG.
  • Drink.  Just in case the hunny or the mamas and I can get away for a little drinky-drink or happy hour, we hit up BarFlyMag or Unthirsty.
  • Gettin' Around.  Not only is BikePortland.org our ultimate resource on all things bikey, but it's also a great resource for current events and news on many regional public transit issues and upcoming policy.  For this multi-modal transiting family, it's a good daily read.
  • Other stuff.  Toward the bottom of my list, I save room to glance at PDX MetBlogs and the Portland Business Journal.  I also keep a hot list of things we may want off craigslist - the current item du jour is a tandem bike.

Now that I've shared, what about you all?  What feeds do you read?

urbanMamas policy or r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

March 15, 2007

We have been talking about writing this for ages, and we finally came up with something on which we all agreed.


urbanMamas was created as a place for the frank and open exchange of opinions, information, and support for parents living in and around Portland, Oregon. We welcome readers and commenters to interact freely as long as you follow our two cardinal rules: treat others with respect, and be honest. We reserve the right to delete comments we feel are harsh and judgmental of one another; however, we support healthy debates given they follow rules #1 and #2. Please know that the opinions expressed here are opinions of a vast and diverse set of individuals, and treat them as such.

Judgment, honesty, and what we're doing here

March 14, 2007

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader to my blog. She titled it "obese" (for a moment, I thought it was spam) and pasted in a photo of Everett I took when he was about two, and I had looked up his height and weight on a BMI chart and found him to be morbidly obese, according to the government's calculations. (He was, and still is, a muscular, healthy kid, who obviously just doesn't fit the chart for "normal.")

She wondered why I talked about healthy eating so much but had an obese child! She wondered why the police picked up my children all over the neighborhood (during the snow day, Everett was so excited that he ran ahead of pregnant me and slow Truman, towards the park, and was found by a policeman as I hunted for him a few feet away). She wondered how I could have three children when I couldn't even take care of one. In essence, she wrote all those things I think in my dark times.

She wrote all the worst invections I use against myself, when I'm feeling overwhelmed, out of control, so damned imperfect. She wondered why I "pretend I'm perfect."

It was a blow. But I've come across people like her before, on Blogging Baby, where I wrote several times daily for two years before moving into the role as editor of BloggingStocks, which has an equally passionate but much less judgmental audience (yay for that). And I didn't immediately question my role as a parent, or decide to take down my personal blog altogether, or even cry. I've developed a bit of a thick skin.

But not everyone has. In fact, moms as a group are some of the most susceptible to this sort of shrieking judgment. While most of us wanted to be parents, very few of us had any sort of real preparation for what life would be like. We read the pregnancy books, it's true, and we joined the due date forum on Babycenter. Maybe we started a blog, maybe we had friends or sisters who were new parents, who helped us acclimate.

Let's face it, though, there's no college degree, no job experience that really prepares you to be a mother. To be a mommy-mommy-mommy, to be needed 24 hours a day even if you have to work 6 or 8 or 12 of them, to have everything in your life and body change, to change your sig file from some funky quote from a beat poet to "Sarah, mama to Everett, 4.5, and Truman, 22 months! <3 :)" To have the way everyone in the world looks at you change; to have a constantly evolving challenge for which you're not ever sure you're qualified. Because no child is perfect, no parent is perfect, no family relationship is perfect.

That why we need a community that only supports, only helps, only loves, only tells the truth constructively. That never, ever judges people for their human-ness -- but is, at the same time, frank and useful. That's what we created at urbanMamas, that's why we love Portland so much (because we found you!), that's why we're able to get through some of our worst days, our nastiest emails, without deciding to throw in the towel. That's why sometimes, we'll remove comments that don't support this community, that rain down personal judgment to other mamas. Maybe I can handle it (sometimes). But maybe it's a hard day for you. Maybe you can't.

And if there's one thing we want to do right, it's that: to protect we mamas from the judgment that we're all too eager to bring on ourselves.

(This doesn't mean that we don't want negativity here. We love negativity, if it's appropriate -- if you tell me you had a bad experience at a restaurant, or if you want to throw your pediatrician in the reject pile, we support your frank yet compassionate reviews. That's also what we're about. Please continue to report the truth from wherever you are.)


February 14, 2006

...  Okay, well, the City of Portland is still calling it history month, but ...

Mayor Potter's office invites you to contribute your story or the story of a woman you admire.  Starting March 1, the City will post the stories (250 word limit) on a website (you will need to register with PortlandOnline to submit your entry.)

I have no idea how this little project will turn out, but it sounds like a nice effort.  All I can say is: we've all got a special story to tell, whether it be about being a full-time mother or about juggling a traditional career with mamahood or about creating a non-traditional profession in order to focus more on mamahood.  We have wonderful anecdotes daily about the joys, the humor, the quirkiness, the challenges, and the frustrations.  We share them every day - our stories & herstories - here on urbanMamas.  Maybe you want to share them with the City?

It's on! - Sharing our Birth Stories

December 12, 2005

I was snuggling 3 and half month old Jack this morning and thinking about the wild day that was his "birth" day. I love birth stories because they are the powerful end of one story and the beginning of another.  Although, I am moved daily in extreme ways by our kids (some wonderful and some frustrating), I find that there are very few moments in life that pack as much love, pain, drama, anticipation, joy, fear than giving birth.  So, in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would share Jack's story as told by my husband (this was an email we sent out to friends and fam after Jack was born - it's a bit long, but most people enjoyed it)...

Continue reading "It's on! - Sharing our Birth Stories" »


December 04, 2005

My husband is Japanese: born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. So my two daughters are biracial. Or you could call them "halvsies" or "hapa" or "mixed". I prefer the term "swirled" (and I love this company's products) because it doesn't have the connotations of "half" or of being only part of something rather than a whole unto themselves.

One concern I have living in South Beaverton is how my children will be accepted into the community and what I can do to help them.  One reason we chose to live here is that there is a community of Japanese and intercultural U.S./Japanese population in this area. However, it is resoundingly white outside of that circle. I worry that I will never really understand my daughters' identities or problems as I am also resoundingly white. (In fact, when we lived in California, I was often asked if my daughter was adopted.) I do not want my children to ever be ashamed or regret their dual heritage.

So this raises many issues I believe I share with Portlanders who have chosen interracial or international adoptions: how much of the non-U.S. or non-mainstream white culture do I encourage in them? By sending them to a Japanese preschool am I hurting their chances of becoming mainstream Americans? Should I send them to the local elementary school (which will be mostly white) or try to find an international school we can afford? How does greater Portland treat ethnic Asians in general? Will my children always have to answer the question "Just what are you anyway?" because we live here?

Since I am new to this area, I don't have much experience with these issues yet here in Beaverton/SW Portland. I may be worrying over nothing. Anyone else out there with a bicultural/biethnic/or transracial family? Anyone else out there experienced a situation where multiethnicity was an issue?

An introduction

December 03, 2005

Greetings!  My name is Serena and I have been honored with an invitation to join urbanmamas.  I live in NE Portland, near Alberta Street, and am the mama of Max, who is 4, and Genevieve, who is 3 months.

My blog is a continuation of my old zine, "Have You Seen the Dog Lately?", a messy ode to low brow art, pop culture, urban adventures, progressive politics, and other fixations. 

I'm cooking up some posts on cartoony art happenings (fun for babies to goggle at), neighborhood Spanish-speaking opportunities, and strange-but-true tips for entertaining children.  I look forward to exchanging ideas with this vibrant community.

Peace! xoxoxo --Serena

We Are Family

November 07, 2005

So, one of the mamas came up with a fantastic idea.  We'd love to hear from all of YOU who our visiting our little experiment of a Web site. 

This is my (Hau) take on the origins of this Web site.  This whole Web site began as a mama-induced fantasy about building an on-line community.  We all met on-line via the now seemingly defunct PDX-Moms Yahoo! group (a bit sad).  It took us a while, but after a few face-to-face meetings and playgroups, it was destined to be that the on-line friendship would blossom into something much more.  Through this great invention called the *Internet* we keep in touch.  We email, we blog, we do more e-communication than chat on the phone.  But when we get together, it's so easy to pick up from where we left off because the dear Internet allows us to keep in touch even though we live in the same city.  My hope for this Website is to not only be a resource, but to build community.

With that, a more intimate view of who we are, I'd like to invite you to tell us about yourself.  Come on, don't be shy!

New Beginnings

October 27, 2005

Recently, we lost the original content of our www.urbanmamas.com site due to a server meltdown. Rest assured, we are working diligently on getting the site back up and running. Until then, you can visit us here.

For the interest of time, while we try to recreate some of the original content on our site, I encourage you to check out fantastic wealth of information provided by local Portland mamas. The beauty is that these mamas post their experiences, rants and raves on-line for easy access and sharing. These mamas really do know what they're talking about. Check it out! And, if you have a favorite link to a local resource. Please do share! We look forward to hearing from you.