81 posts categorized "Childhood"

Reality for a Saturday night: a dislocated arm

April 17, 2014

Last Saturday night, we were gathered with several families for a potluck and merriment.  There were 5 kids under the age of 5.  There were 5 kids over the age of 5.  The younger kids were playing pretend fighting.  There was also a dad giving 'superman' rides to the little kids, then there was a dad hanging kids upside down.  My 4.5 year old boy was dangling upside down from a dad, when the dad's own boy said, "Dad, do that to me, do that to me!"  and he yanked my boy's arm.

The boy was crying wanting to have the same upside down ride from his dad.  My boy was crying because his arm hurt.  Other kids continued to play.  It was generally chaotic.  There was crying, and there was screaming from playing.  We did not respond immediately.  

My boy's cries were rather shrill.   His cries were ongoing, whereas he would have usually stopped fussing by now under normal circumstances.  We went to go see what was wrong.

Our boy was crying on the couch where everyone was getting situated for a movie.   He was holding his arm.  When we went in to look at him, he said, "My arm hurts" and he was tearing as he held up his injured left arm with his right.  We offered him an ice pack.  He reached for it with the uninjured right arm.

We sat with him for a while, observing.  He had stopped crying.  His arm looked like it was turned inward.  He would not let anyone touch.  We held out my phone (a treat!) and asked him to play a game on it.  He reached with his right hand.  We held down his right arm and asked him to play a game on it.  He wouldn't.

The family gathering was attended by a good representation of medical staff: two nurses and a pediatric neuroscience physician's assistant.  We cleared the room of kids and sat down to focus on our boy.

With his arm turned inward, one of the dad-nurses palpated and felt the forearm bone indeed dislocated from the elbow.  Not dealing with children often, neither nurse felt equipped to replace the dislocated forearm.  The pediatric neuro PA, also, dealing mostly with brains and not with limbs, did not feel equipped to do the job.

Another dad, non-medical in background, entered the room.  "OH!  Yes, this has happened 6 times to our 3 year old son," and he offered to fix it the same way his doctor showed him.  In two quick and confident moves, he repositioned the forearm into the elbow socket and motioned the hand up to reach the shoulder to confirm proper placement.

PHEW!  Wow, what excitement on a Saturday night!  What a scare it was for us for a minute there.  Have you had experiences with dislocations?  Perhaps emergency situations?

"Mama: Why can't I go to the petting zoo?"

April 08, 2014

Some schools or daycares just don't let up on the endless "optional" offerings: the pizza party for $7, the school tee for $10 or the petting zoo for $5.  Then, there are larger requests: yearbooks for elemtary kids for $30 or a mid-week family camping trip for $100 per adult (so, wait: I'm going to pay for daycare, then I will take days off from work, and then I will pay still for my kid to go camping then for me to camp with him? Holy wow).  I cannot keep up; these costs add up across multiple kidlets.

While this is the reality, it can be sad.  Tonight, my boy said: "Mama, why can't I go to the petting zoo?"  Well, we just don't have another $5 for you to pet the goats that they are bringing into the school yard tomorrow.  

Sad face.

What else are you going to do? 

"Mama, Jack said I was small": When size matters

January 16, 2014

"Mama, Jack said I was a small boy," said my four-year old, a little forlorn.  "He said I couldn't play basketball.  Aren't I a big boy?"  Many children pride themselves in being independent, being "big", being capable, and - yes - being athletic and coordinated.

Growing up, I was often on the smaller side.  I was an autumn baby, always a bit younger than all the rest.  I think I was pretty fit and active, and I had a good shot at being chosen early on teams for games like capture the flag.

A friend commented the other day that her son was feeling less confident on his basketball team, being one of the shorter members.  He, a fifth grader, was about the same height as his 2nd grade sister.

Does size matter?  A few years back, we talked about being vertically challenged and some medical interventions.  But for those that let height run its natural course, how has size played out on the playground, on sports teams, in friendships and beyond?  Is it a big deal when they are younger?  Is it a bigger deal when they are older?  Is it not a big deal at all?

I have a dream, that someday, boys won't call their brother 'stupid'

January 24, 2013

My five-year-old is so much like me, sometimes I blink and wonder if we're not one and the same. He really loved the lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr.; he had an amazingly deep and broad grasp of them. ("He was against the bad laws," he said. "And he broke them to show how bad they were.") Bravo, kid!

I was trying to get his older brother to finish his homework, tonight, all about how we're living Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. My oldest was frustrated because I'd told them all we had to help Truman do his homework before anyone could play on the screens (employing the much-maligned-by-me football coach strategy). When Truman said he couldn't think of anything to write, his older brother called him stupid! I was pretty mad.

"Everett," I said, "you're being really unkind."

Fast as a wink and outraged, Monroe shot, "you're not living Dr. King's dream!"

And Everett and I both burst out laughing, and finally, I was able to return to making subscription lists for the magazine.

How have your kids reacted to the school's annual MLK, Jr. history lesson? I love this time of year because it seems we're all studying the same thing; but I never know if the context gets lost, or not.

And May Day Flowers Bring...

May 03, 2012

Monroe_mayday
"You made my day!" said the woman at the doctor's office, grinning. I'd brought Monroe with me, carrying a little jar of simple flowers from my garden, tied with twine. I needed a tetanus shot and it was May Day and I was overcome on April 30 with a sudden urge to Do It.

We started with the next-door neighbor and we went bonkers; several neighbors on our block, including a few we've never met. The receptionists at the doctor's office. Truman's teacher. A friend. Drunk on our gratuitous gifting, my two younger boys ran away from two of the houses in full giggle and victory. "This is the best May Day EVER!" said Monroe (and the only one we've ever celebrated, making it a low bar).

It was such a joy to me, even more than the recipients of our random secret gifting. It was so easy; picking a few of the volunteer flowers and tulips from our yard, fill in with mint and herbs, put in old canning jars, tie with kitchen twine and a little May Day greeting, deliver as quietly as possible. To see the faces light up -- not just of the recipients, but my boys in victory after our "missions" -- was a thrill. So much fun, in fact, that I might do it again before next May 1.

Have you celebrated May Day the old-fashioned way? If you haven't, have you found unexpected joy in some simple and secret act of small generosity? Any other ideas? I need another mission.

How is summer camp starting off?

June 30, 2010

Four years ago, we sent our oldest child to her first summer camp.  It was a program for kids kinder-age through sixth grade.  The program included many excursions throughout the city and also off to the coast, Gorge, and many other day-trip adventures.  The thought of our daughter romping around the city park, loosely monitored at the playground border by the sun-loving camp counselors frightened us.  Kids were sent to the potty on their own, allowed to lunch wherever they wanted in the expansive picnic area of the park.  I don't know.  We were just a bit scared of it all, the great big world at large and our little five year old roaming free.  I know that's not the way it was, but that's the way we felt.  We were nervous.  It was her first foray into bigger-kid activity, her first step out of the protected preschool zone.

Every day for two weeks, the campers took the bus to Sellwood Pool from NW Portland (a looooong trek!) for swim class.  Afterward, they would frolic in the play area for a couple of hours, then head back to the pool for open swim.  On the second day of camp, my husband and I arranged to take a "run".  We actually put on our running gear, drove to Sellwood Park, got out of the car and jogged around the park, trying to steal glimpses of our big girl in her new expanded environment.  We had just set out for our jaunt when we were caught, seen by the lead camp counselor.  Knowing we'd been seen, we jogged over to the counselor, and said "Oh!  We were just out for a run and thought we'd see how things were going."  But, of course, things were just fine.  Our girl was having the time of her life, and so were the other campers.  Camp counselors were having fun and had a good grip on the whereabouts of each child.  It was just a new level of independence for us and for our girl.

Last year, we experienced a whole new level of independence.  Then eight, our girl went to a camp at the University of Portland, an all-girls camp for kids aged 8 to 13.  Again, she was at the bottom of the age-bracket, and so we felt so new to the increased level of freedom.  Lunch was a whole hour and it was open campus.  Campers were allowed to picnic outside, head to the dining hall to buy food, or go to the snack bar for more treats.  The expectation was that the girls could manage themselves, and no one could go anywhere unless they were in pairs and unless they told a camp counselor.

I couldn't very easily get out to the University that week, to spy a glimpse on my girl, so I sent a friend, a professor at the University.  And, soon enough, I got a quick report via email letting me know that our girl was happy, safe, and comfortable.  It was about 45 minutes into the free hour of lunch, and all was well.

Summer camps, for many of us, is a time to try something new, to stretch boundaries, to collect new experiences.  It can be an emotional time in high transition, going from week to week in different places to learn about different topics.  I'd love to hear your stories about how these first couple of weeks of summer camp is going.  I'd especially love to hear stories of sneaking and spying on your littles, perhaps faking a "run in the park" or even hiding in the bushes just to catch a peak!

The cult of spring: Perspectives on mamas' need for nature

March 29, 2010

Monroe_ipod_touch
I have just negotiated a new quasi-peace in the house -- Monroe, I declare, is no longer allowed to use the iPod touch to play fruit matching games due to tearful angry meltdowns when he gets even a taste, while depriving him wholly keeps relative calm -- when I open the newest issue of Brain, Child. The cover story takes me several hours to begin; honestly, it sounds as bent for artificial controversy ("let's get mommies talking!") as any of the other mommy war-type content that has lately been flooding the journal's pages. Titled "Guilt Trip into the Woods," it starts as all long essays in mothering magazines do: with a little anecdote. Family, consisting of blogging journalist mama, dad and seven-year-old son adopted from Asia (this seems relevant to the writer), must decide where to go on vacation: nature, or New York? They pick New York, kid loves it, can't get enough of Times Square and the 10-story movie ads. He's just not a nature guy, says mama.

She's feeling bad about it, after all; she's been reading and seeing stuff online about getting kids out to nature. The focus of much of her ire is the echo of the headline, Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods, with generous distaste left for the National Wildlife Foundation's Green Hour (for which, incidentally, I wrote a blog post last year). But writer Martha Nichols is not a believer. "...perhaps most disturbing for environmentalist moms and dads, I’m discovering that the nature movement—green and forward-thinking as it appears at first blush—looks an awful lot like a conservative message cloaked with some liberal fig leaves." She goes on to explain that she's feeling guilty, in the "morning when there’s barely enough caffeine in my system to cope, NPR seems to pummel me with stories about why our multi-tasking, Internet-chained pace isn’t good for kids..." but "whether nature is the only solution is the question," and though she connects with the concept of loving nature herself -- remember that pine tree I used to climb when I was a kid? she asks -- " long before I finished Last Child in the Woods, I wanted to chuck it across the room."

Sunflower_journal
What comes down to it is this: her son isn't the nature journaling type. "He’s never been one to draw daisies in a journal if I suggest it. Instead he’d sketch a jousting tournament or a new comic strip, no matter how much I burble about the veins of a leaf. Or he’d rip the leaf apart—which for Louv might be just the ticket for a young naturalist—except that what fascinates Nick is the landscape inside his own head." She begins to describe the "fellow believers" of Louv as sectarians, they "present themselves as valiant nature warriors facing a horde of technology Visigoths," they're "nature evangelists," they're "polemical."

Continue reading "The cult of spring: Perspectives on mamas' need for nature" »

Finding the a team to join - soccer, basketball, volleyball?

March 22, 2010

Back when I was in high school, I played varsity sports - tennis, soccer, and basketball. I was occuppied every night of the week with practice or games.  I'd come home at 7pm, hungry and tired, without having done a bit of homework yet.  Those were long days, but I would never give up the experiences I gained from playing on team sports.  I learned life-long lessons in sportswomanship, determination, time management, and - perhaps most importantly - bonding and close friendships with my fellow teammates.

I went to a private school, where we had a team/league for every sport.  My brothers, who went to a public school, had our local sports leagues to fill their sports needs - mostly soccer and baseball.

My eldest is now 9, in fourth grade, and she really wants to learn a sport and find a team.  She has one extracurricular activity that we have committed to, but not a sport.  Are there sports leagues in town that you just find out about?  Do the public schools all have sports teams?  How else can we help her harness her interest and eagerness to learn about basketball and soccer - not only to learn the sport but also for friendly competition?

Valentine's Day (observed): what's in your child's valentine box?

February 12, 2010

Valentines_shetha

What was Valentine's Day like when you were a kid? In my kindergarten at Sunnyside School, I distinctly recall a special paper bag we made for Valentine's Day and taped to our desks; every kid would circle the room dropping off the little cards in the bags. Later, I remember a shoebox I decorated with hearts and in which I invested so many hopes and dreams: for candy, for childhood true love.

This year, after a few messy hours pouring paint and glitter glue onto paper at CHAP with some of the awesome urbanMamas and children, we spent several days at home cutting out hearts, gluing, and for Everett, writing silly jokes in pencil all over construction paper (interspersed with hearts of course). His favorite: a sappy saying, which he finds hilarious, from a puppy valentine book we got from last year's Valentine's Day, or perhaps a re-telling of 'Jingle Bells,' complete with toilet humor. For Truman, I ended up making little Cupid's arrows from one of his great sponge paintings brought home from preschool. He wrote his name in the "from" section. Everett had to finish Truman's task: "it's too much work!" said he, although he painted one enormous valentine for his favorite friend, from scratch.

All but one of the valentines that came home in Truman's bag from preschool were storebought, and most of them had candy attached; it didn't surprise me, as this year I read a few blog posts and Twitter statuses that seemed to indicate a backlash to the craft-drudgery of creating valentines for kids (not that I've seen, in either of my boys' schools or even my own dining room table, a Martha Stewart-worthy alternative). So I was curious: how much work did you do this year? Did you do it all and resent it? Does your school opt out of Valentine's Day? Did your kids make their own and love every minute? Or were you (like me, to hear Truman's cries yesterday morning) a wicked taskmaster bent on forcing her child to write his name a good dozen-and-a-half times? Or did you feel that siren call of the Spiderman valentines and do the store-bought thing?

Andrew_with_valentines

Avoiding depression for kids and families

December 22, 2009

Everett_sad
We're struggling a lot with depression and anxiety here; my husband's afflicted, and so is my oldest son. More and more lately, I remember my parents worrying about the depression of one of my sisters, who has thankfully grown into an emotionally-balanced adult. Around this time of the year, it's always compounded, and speaking from experience I know that trying to enjoy the holidays with a loved family member predicting the imminent end of the world as we know it is a challenge, indeed. Sara writes:

I've posted before asking for advice about depression-proofing my daughter. She's now five, an articulate, silly, curious, thoughtful kid with a decidedly negative personality. She seizes on the negative elements of every experience, and creates huge drama-tornadoes of misery and despair. I am very concerned that she is going to grow up into an unhappy adult, the person (we all know this person) who sucks the joy out of everything. We spend a lot of time talking to her about this, trying to guide her toward more positive ways of thinking ("you're talking about the problem; do you need help talking about a solution?"), etc., and it has helped a lot at various times, but... not now. Now it just seems to be making her feel worse, like not only is the (in my opinion) minor inconvenience that she's experiencing Absolutely The End of The World, but she's also A Terrible, Terrible Person because she can't look at it positively. It is clear to all of us that this is her personality, not just a phase (though being five is NOT easy, so there's some phase-y-ness in there, too). She is never going to be a glass-half-full person. I don't want to change who she is, and I don't actually think there's anything wrong with inclining to the negative. I just don't want it to be all she is.

So I need your help, community. How can I help my daughter grow up to be at least a not-miserable person? How can I help her learn more positive approaches without communicating to her that her feelings (and her basic personality) are wrong and bad?

What advice do you have for Sara? If you also have family members struggling with depression and anxiety, how do you find your way to a happy holiday for you and the more cheery members of your family?

Outside time, all the time?

May 03, 2009

As I type this, my two older boys run around outside in our (blessedly) big back yard. The youngest was outside, too, until naptime overtook him with a thunderstorm of neediness. Everett asks, "could you bring me something to eat out here?" and I unhesitatingly say, sure.

I've just been reading this about a U.K. preschool whose students spend nearly every moment out-of-doors. And I've been "studying" my kids' behavior and finding an unsurprising result: the more time outside, running, jumping, digging, collecting worms, fighting all those bad guys who seem to inhabit our block, or just lying in the dirt with a serious expression and a dump truck; the happier everyone is. Everett's therapist asks, "what do good days look like?" My answer is "plenty of intense outdoors play" and I immediately wonder what I'm doing with him in public school at all.

Everett_monroe_backride

For a lot of complicated reasons, I've been considering home schooling him. With what will I fill his days? I wonder, imagining dozens of mini-power struggles over adjective worksheets. And then discarding all that wonder with the thought that maybe, we'll just have math, reading and outside time. Lots, and lots, of outside time.

Out there, we have a hundred lessons in science, math, social studies, vocabulary, agriculture; it's the Green Hour supercharged. I wonder if we'll have enough for him to build the skills in which he's lagging while at the same time protecting him from the often too-stressful, too-troubled environment of the school he's attending. Unschoolers have already been convinced, I know. For those of you who do homeschool, unschool, free school, or some variant thereof -- even just for preschool -- tell me how you've balanced "curriculum" and teaching children the parts of speech, multiplication tables, and all that with a sufficient amount of outside time. Have any of you considered changing your child's schooling to allow more time outside? How has the thought process gone for you? Have you tried it and gone back to the way of the formal schoolroom? Have you just longed for more untrammeled running, free-range kid raising time? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

How many books is 'enough'?

November 02, 2008

Truman_reads_abundantyarn

"One more time?" says Truman as we finish his latest book crush. This came in the "red bag" from school, part of a Multnomah County program to make sure underprivileged kids have books in the home.

Seriously? One more time? I thought. Even though I loved the book, I had things to do! But part of the whole reason I quit my job and am doing a few hours' daily freelance work is so I could do this, read it ah-gain. I read it again, expressively, and closed it decisively. "All done!" I said happily.

"One more time?" says Truman. "Read it ah-gain?" And this time I say, "no, two times is enough!" and head to the kitchen to finish the dishes. But I have to wonder: how many times is enough? Last night while Monroe was sleeping on my lap I read Inch by Inch four times in a row (and then it was requested again at bedtime). Later I listen to him, sitting studiously on the couch, "reading" it to himself. Be still my heart.

So repetition is good, I know from my sisters' early childhood development classes. But how much can I stand? How about you? When do you call it quits on "one more time"?

Please support the Children's Levy!

October 21, 2008

We don't make a habit of endorsing candidates or ballot measures, but we're making a special exception for the Portland Children's Levy.  The Levy (Measure 26-94), is up for renewal this year.  It's the very last thing on the ballot and likely to get overlooked, which would be too bad because it's just one of those things we can feel proud our hard-earned tax dollars are supporting. Please, please take a minute to find it and vote YES.

The levy funds the Children's Investment Fund, a wonderful, cost-effective program that, since 2002, has been supporting programs that:

  • help children who have been abused,
  • help kids in foster care to succeed,
  • provide early childhood education and
  • after school/mentoring support.   

This levy has supported amazing programs like the Children's Relief Nursery, the Children's Receiving Center, the Salvation Army's Shelter for Women & Children, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Head Start, Portland Impact, the Peninsula Child Center, and a bunch of other programs with proven positive impacts for our city's most at-risk kids.

The levy has helped over 16,000 kids each year since it began in 2002. It receives its funds from a property tax of $0.4026 per $1000 of assessed home value (about $5 a month for the average Portland home).

I spent some time calling voters tonight, asking them to support the Levy, and I must report that no one is against this levy.  The only thing that will keep it from being renewed is the fact that a lot of people just don't know anything about it.  In a contentious election year, it's hard to get a city ballot measure into the dialog.

Please, encourage your Portland loved ones to support this measure. Send them an email, or this post, and let them know that a vote for the Children's Levy is a vote in support of *all* of Portland's children.

Want more information? Check out the FAQ's and Endorsements.   Or contact the campaign directly at (503) 224-6160 or info@childrenslevy.com.

Puppy Love: When do childhood crushes begin?

September 12, 2008

When I was a little girl, I think I had my first childhood crush when I was in kindergarten.  I can't remember his name, but I can definitely remember his face.  He had freckles, red hair, and a round face.  I liked him because he played tag vigorously on the playground.  We would tag each other in a weirdly flirtatious way.  My second childhood crush was the next year.  I remember his name (I think).  Brian Lee was a boy I liked because he would play backgammon with me during before-school and after-school care.  My "interests" continued on a regular basis for decades afterwards.  I remember feeling like my interest in these boys was more than just "friendship".  There was definitely a romantic element to all of it; I'm not sure why or how.

When our oldest daughter was in first grade, she had a friend with whom she was very close, cuddly and intimate.  Michael was a 5th grader (an older man!), and I would often find them two playing together, just them two, alone at the top of the play structure.  When I would ask: "what do you and Michael play?", she would said, "Um, well, we play 'brother-and-sister' and stuff."  Hmpft.  (Are you sure you aren't really playing 'mommy-and-daddy'?)

When our girl was in second grade, there was a third grader (smaller age difference this time) about whom we heard a lot.  I may have heard in passing that so-and-so "liked" our daughter.

Now, our girl is in third grade.  I just spent an hour on the playground with 20 second and third graders, supervising school pictures, and I was struck by this energy among the kids, a different sort of playfulness that lends to what I remember as behavior when a kid likes-likes the other.  It seemed like that flirtatious charge.  From my own experiences of puppy love starting as early as kindergarten, I can believe that even the littlest kids can have a "crush" on another.  But when I look at my girls, I think, "They're too young!"

Has puppy love entered your household?  Do you hear of the kids coming home with a "crush on 'so-and-so'"?  Or, do I have just a bit more time before that all starts?  What *is* puppy love, anyway?  Is it all stemming from oversexualized images in the media?  Or is it a sweet, innocent legitimate attraction between two kids?

I oughta record that!

July 28, 2008

Nothing new in the fact that kids say some amazingly funny stuff.  It's also nothing new that I have yet to record any of it, despite the fact that people remind me to with amazing regularity.  So today, when a few greats were uttered in the backyard, I wondered: if I post them on uM, does that count as recording them?  Can my children use a blog as their mother's scrapbook (since I so ain't creating my own)?  Time will tell, I guess.   Regardless of how history (and my kids!) treats all this blogging stuff, I am compelled to share these two from my 2-YO daughter (sadly my 5-YO doesn't generate nearly as many):

  • While watering the garden with a hose: 'Mama, it sounds like pee-pee.'  'Yeah,' I said, 'like when Daddy and your brother pee-pee.'  'No,' she replied, 'like the plants are pee-peeing.'  Never even crossed my mind.
  • While eating watermelon outside with my 2-YO after my husband and son had both fallen asleep inside the house: 'Shhh, Mama, we have to be quiet with our teeth because Daddy and brother are sleeping.'  Those noisy teeth, waking everyone up again.

Can you share a LOL kid saying from this summer, and give us all a chuckle this Monday morning?  Plus, do tell if you've got a tricky system for actually recording or remembering them.  I'm open to it even if I know deep down it just ain't gonna happen - the recording and the remembering, that is.  But the best part is the joy I get in chuckling to myself when they say such great stuff so very earnestly.   Truly a joy of parenting.

Face Painting Anyone?

April 04, 2008

It's party time, but who's providing the entertainment?  urbanMama Anjani writes:
My son's third birthday is approaching, and while I think he's still young enough that we can get away with a play date-style party without too many frills, I was thinking it'd be fun to have someone come for a while to do face painting for the kids (and I don't know, maybe
balloons in cool shapes).  Does anyone have any good recommendations for this?  Our budget is limited (heck, I'd do it myself, if I had any artistic skill.) so I'd also be willing to consider someone who does this recreationally; we don't need someone to put on a big show.

Building the Dress-Up Wardrobe

March 21, 2008

Cole_princess_2 I need your help, Mamas.  I've somehow avoided dress-up play for this long but I can't avoid it any longer!  I am hoping to build a dress-up wardrobe for the kids by shopping at thrift shops.  But where to begin?

I figure I'll get some pieces, mostly tops, that represent different professions (the uniform section) and some accessories (sunglasses, hats, scarves, ties, etc) but what else should I look for.  Have your kids picked a favorite dress up item?  Things that I should consider when selecting the clothes for dress up (fabric care, etc)?  Let's hear what's in YOUR dress-up bin!

Suggestions for a 7yo bedwetter?

February 26, 2008

Mamas, any suggestions?

I have a seven year old who is still wetting the bed every night. I’m interested in knowing if there are other parents out there who have found particular books or bedwetting alarms helpful with their child.  I am considering using a bedwetting alarm and am looking at two in particular, one called the Potty Pager and the other made by Malem, but have no idea how to choose one.  The book Dry All Night: The Picture Book Technique that Stops Bedwetting also intrigues me.  Any advice would be appreciated.

Childhood Milestones: The Solo Playdate

February 19, 2008

As our kids branch off and make new friends at school, did you have apprehensions about that first playdate at his / her friend's house without your presence?  You know, the one where you just introduced yourself to the child's parent, and then left on an errand for an hour or two?  Tracy has a probing question for you.  She writes:

My son is 3.5 years old. Until he started preschool last fall his "friendships" were with playgroup friends and a couple of children of my friends, basically people I've known for a long time and trust with my child. But now, he's making friends in his school and I'm not sure how to support that while still providing the supervision and protection I think he needs. I would be happy to invite another child over to the house to play, but I am not really ready to have him go somewhere else to play until I get to know the other parents very well. If I feel this way, do other parents? I don't have a problem inviting someone over with the invitation for the parent to come as well should that be what they want. But how can I do this without offending the other parent if/when they reciprocate? Obviously if they invited me to their house I would have no problem, but what if they just invite my son? At what age have people just allowed their child to go to someone's home for a play date without them? Are other parents offended if I ask the questions like does anyone smoke at your house, are there weapons there, etc? I'm willing to admit to being considered overprotective in the eyes of some, but I can't help it. Any guidance from been-there-moms would be very helpful.

Is this only the beginning?

February 12, 2008

Seven years ago, when my first daughter was a baby, I spent moments of each day wondering: "Am I doing it all wrong?"  Now that our girl is seven-and-a-half approaching thirteen (it seems), I am still wondering the same thing: "Am I doing it all wrong?"

Yesterday was the Monday of all Mondays.  I tell ya.  It was a completely ridiculous workday for me when I felt like I did. not. have. enough. seconds. in the day to finish every report, call, analysis, whatever before fetching the girls.  Then, when I picked up my girl and her girlfriend from school, it was nothing. but. rant and whine. rant and whine. about. every. single. thing.  "Why didn't you pack me peanut butter sandwich for lunch?" ("Because you packed your own lunch this morning.")  "I'm so thirsty! Why isn't there any milk?" ("Because you drank it all this morning and brought the rest for your lunch.")  "I'm bored.  Why can't we go biking?" ("Because your friend doesn't want to, why don't you ask her to go biking?")  "Why don't we ever get to do what I want?" ("Well what do you want to do?")

She says, "Mama, I want to bake cupcakes."  So, I put away what I was doing, and we start sifting flour and mixing up confectioner's sugar for icing.  The beaters haven't even stopped beating before I hear it (the whining) start, "I never get to do it first" or "Why don't you ever let me lick the bowl" or "This is so boring".  I swear to the heavens, I was just not getting anything right.  At all.  And, what was painful was that it was all my fault.

As I recount this story, I realize that it makes it sound like my 7.5 year old is nothing but I royal brat.  But, I swear she isn't.  She is mellow and sweet and respectful.  Really she is.  Usually.  But, sometimes, something just sets her off and everything is all wrong.  Not only is it all wrong, but it is also always all my fault, in those instances.

All of this to say: is this some pre-pre-pubescent condition?  Have other mamas and papas gone through this with their 7-10 year old girls or boys?  This almost-irrational, uncharacteristic, passionate, uncontrollable emotion?  Is this just the beginning?  Or is it me?

..."If you don't, I won't be your friend"....

January 21, 2008

I am generally from the mama-standpoint that the kids will work it all out, no matter what the issue.  But, when I hear my oldest child, a second grader, come home to tell me that she had to share her lunch with some other children because they were saying "if you don't share some, I won't be you friend"....  I feel like I showing up at their lunchroom the next day to tell those kids: "bug off!  Don't eat her lunch!"

When we have playdates here at our house, and I hear through the baby monitor friends tell our girl(which still stationed in the kids room and - let me tell you - we hear the darndest bedtime chatter!): "you'd better let me be the mommy/borrow this shirt/use the sparkly pen/borrow this book or else I won't be your friend"..., and I have admit, I get a bit riled up and feel like I want to quickly jump to her defense.

I wonder to myself, "how many times does this happen?"  We know our girl is not the most assertive gal; she's really quite shy.

My husband and I, when we pick up snipets of these experiences, talk about using our words ("I'm not comfortable sharing my lunch"), about how our friends will always be our friends even if we choose to do not what they say, about how we can engage an adult if we have tried using our words.  She's run into the "I won't be your friend" threat many times already and has admitted to us that she's given in, even if she hasn't wanted to.

I would love your thoughts: what words of encouragement would you offer your child?  what tips or advice would you give?  when, if ever, would you get involved and have words with the other child?  when, if ever, may you bring it up with the other child's parent?

Let's talk about sex... with the kids???

January 11, 2008

Do you remember the very first time you learned about sex?  Do you remember learning about the body and its sexual parts?  How old were you?  How do you think you'll approach it with your kids?  Will you approach it differently depending on their age?  Holly emailed the other day:

I recently read your post “Let’s talk about sex” and loved all the information and honesty.  I then realized I had a great opportunity to ask other parents about how and at what age they spoke to their children about sex.  We have a 5.5 year old daughter and a 2.5 year old son.  I have been given mixed information about when and what to tell them.  Does anyone have any advice?

Your child and mature media

November 05, 2007

As our children get older and older, we start to wonder whether certain topics or scenes are appropriate for their ability to understand.  Do you censor the media that your child is exposed to?  Are you inclined to let your child self-censor?  Emily recently emailed her question, wondering if she and her spouse were the "squarest parents ever":

Our almost eight year old son thinks we are the squarest parents ever. Maybe we are, but we feel pretty strongly about limiting television, not owning any sort of video game system, and carefully screening movies for appropriateness, etc. I do feel somewhat hypocritical, however, as both my husband and myself were not raised by such picky parents. My husband has his old comic book collection in the basement, and is knows minute details of most science fiction and martial arts movies. WE both saw Star Wars when it came out in 1977, and WE were only 8 and 9 years old. We have planned on letting our son watch SW when he turns 8 in a couple of months, but he seems to be the last kid on the planet that hasn't seen it. Many kids in his class have seen ALL the Star Wars movies. And all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Transformers, all the Spiderman movies, Fantastic Four, and other mostly PG 13 movies. I don't get it, these are seven year old children. And younger. Many of these kids (including younger cousins) even have several different game systems and play fighting games that are rated for teens. II often refer to http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ to check out the scenes that might be violent or too mature and am curious about whether other parents do the same. We have bent on a few things: we'll allow supervised computer games on my laptop-even on controversial websites (to us, anyway) like bionicles.com lego.com, or even some cartoonnetwork.com games. We let him watch Saturday cartoons till nine-thirty or so. He's allowed to read some comic books.

My son really thinks he's ready to see more mature films, but I know he is not. We recently watched Black Beauty together and he covered his eyes and cried when one of the human characters got stabbed. He would probably react the same to the violent imagery in PG-13 movies, and once those images are in his head they are not going anywhere. But he's feeling left out and too sheltered, and maybe he his.  Are we surrounded by inattentive parents, or are we too paranoid?  Anyone else in a similar situation?

How learn how to lose gracefully?

October 28, 2007

I'll be the first to admit, I like to win.  But, many-a-time, I'm a loser.  While many activities for our children are much less competitive than activities from our generation (very generally speaking),  we still value lessons learned from winning and losing.  Consider this:

I'm looking for some advice from other parents or relevant books I can read to help deal with some win/lose competition issues my sensitive 4-year-old son is having.  I know he's at an age that starts getting into kids' games where winning and losing is part of the game, so hopefully this is just a stage he's going through.  He takes games very seriously, gets very excited when things do go his way and work out the way he wants, and if they don't, he bursts into tears and is inconsolable for a while.  This is happening in the kids soccer class my son is taking now, which he loves, looks forward to each week, but typically he comes crying to me on the sidelines at least once every session.  Maybe they'll be playing a game of freeze tag and he's not able to tag someone when he's one of the "taggers", and he'll come crying to me all upset that he wasn't successful. Conversely, in a previous class he was able to tag a kid and freeze him and he talked about it excitedly for the rest of the day.  Another game they play is where the kids all try to catch the coach, who's kicking a soccer ball around and trying to escape the kids.  If my son isn't the one kid who catches the coach, he comes crying to me.  The coaches are great and downplay the concept of "winning" and "losing" and emphasize that they're all a team, and if one kid
succeeds they all do, they're all trying their best, etc.  So I don't fault the class or the coaches at
all, in fact they're great and always try to help my son get over his sadness quickly and move on. He really enjoys the majority of the class and says he doesn't want to stop going, and I don't think pulling him out of the class is going to help him.  I'd just like to help him develop some solutions to dealing with his feelings and emotions.

Continue reading "How learn how to lose gracefully?" »

Acting out after sibling's birth: I miss the old sweet child!

September 27, 2007

I think every mama of more than one child has had some angst over the resulting complex relationships; and it's the rare eldest kid who doesn't act out at least a little in the weeks and months following the transition from "only child" to "sibling." Mama G is having some family growing pains of her own:

I am a mama to a four year old girl and a new baby girl (born Sept. 2nd). Since baby #2 has arrived, things have been pretty crazy. My 4 y/o is totally in love with her and wants to do everything to help with her, "new baby sister" but she is giving me and sometimes her father a really hard time. She has begun to talk back, cover her ears when I talk to her, yell at me, refuse to nap, refuse to eat, refuse to do most of anything I ask of her.  Yesterday she actually raised her hand to hit me while I was helping her to take a nap. 

I've tried spending special alone time with her, I've tried talking to her about her behavior, I've even tried taking away privileges and I feel like nothing is working. This behavior is totally atypical of her. I know it will pass (or at least that is what I keep telling myself) but I feel like I need to do more to help her through this period. Does anyone out there have any specific parenting books they have read and would recommend? Are there any parenting classes in Portland that you have attended and found worthwhile (we are in the NW but can also travel if it's worth the effort). Has anyone else been through a similar experience?  Help! I miss my daughter and know she is hurting... would love some urbanMama advice. Thanks!

What has helped you through these tough parenting straits? We've talked a bit about preparing for a new sibling, but it would be great to hear more advice.

Under pressure: How many extracurriculars do you have?

September 26, 2007

Everett_ballet_shoes In August, we signed Everett up for two after-school activities: ballet, which he'd been doing for several months, and Do Jump, which I knew he'd love. So the first week of school he went to ballet on Saturday morning and acrobatics on Tuesday afternoon. The following weekend, we went to his grandma's house and read a new-to-us Berenstain Bears book called Too Much Pressure. Brother and Sister discover they're doing too many activities, and at the end they agree to only do two each. Brother picks computer club and soccer.

Simultaneously, we began having trouble with Everett's behavior, and called in some heavy -- and expensive -- hitters to help us figure out how to fix it. Ballet went out the window immediately, at least for the next few months: the balance of the year's substantial tuition just couldn't fit in the budget along with therapy. Then yesterday, we had a blow-up in Do Jump and I began to question the intelligence of doing that (we've already paid through November). I told Everett I was thinking about cutting it out of his schedule.

"That's ok," he said. "I want to do computer club!"

*Sigh* That wasn't exactly my point (but at least his reading comprehension is good!). Now I'm wondering, how many activities are right for children once they start preschool or kindergarten? Especially when you're having trouble acclimating? Is "zero" the right number for a five-year-old? What works for you -- and if your children are older, when did the time seem right?

Scout Dilemma

September 18, 2007

The other day at the Kite Festival, I noticed that the local cub scouts were the ones selling snacks and the like.  My two younger brothers were cub scouts, and I felt like a den big sister or den second mother.  We hosted a few den meetings at our house, and I can still clearly recall the oath we would recent at the start of every meeting:  "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my coCub_scoutsuntry...."

This email comes from a mama who would love your insight:

My 7 year old son really wants to join Cub Scouts. We went to the initial orientation meeting, and even wrote a check for his membership, but I still can't shake that feeling that I just don't want to be a part of that particular organization. Though my husband was a scout for a short time, and my own brothers were scouts, we don't practice any religion and feel uncomfortable with the amount of "God-speak" involved in the scouts. We'd want to be a part of the den, but feel hypocritical pretending to lead a prayer. Though I was raised Catholic, I haven't wanted to be a part of organized religion since I was about twelve. I can't shake that paranoid feeling about sending my own son off to strangers that hold so many conservative beliefs! Isn't there an alternative scouting-type organization? A more liberal, more focused on camping and less soldier-like, less preachy alternative? Am I being uptight and ridiculous?

When friends go bad, and other troubles of childhood

September 12, 2007

Everett came home from school yesterday wanting to quit kindergarten. In his folder, next to the little "SUPER!" sticker from Monday, was a note: "Everett had a really rough day today." The teacher wanted to talk with us about it, later. It seemed likely that she'd never dealt with a child as difficult as him.

Everett_contemplative
It was almost 9 p.m. (after official bedtime) before I got Everett to explain to me exactly what had happened. The little boy who'd declared himself Everett's "buddy" on Monday had decided to bestow that honor on a different little boy. He'd gone on to change his mind several times that day. Everett, never great at dealing with emotional blows, had ended up in a full-on freak-out by the end of lunchtime, screaming and kicking and asking for everyone to leave him alone (exactly the thing he needed, I explained to his teacher today at drop-off: alone time to calm down).

This morning I scanned the room with narrowed eyes looking for the child who was torturing my baby. I found him, and saw immediately that he was a beautiful boy, tall, confident, and possessed with just the sort of power that will allow him to continue his emotional warfare well into adulthood. (I quake at the thought of girlfriends played against one another in college. Yes, I am that dramatic.) The "great idea" I'd given Everett the night before -- how 'bout all three of you be buddies together? -- was never communicated, despite Everett's hard work to get it across. ("I need to tell the two of you something!" he said three times, poking them gently in their chests to get their attention. "No!" C. kept saying happily while I ground my teeth in anger.)

I've done the obvious stuff: explaining to Everett that really good friends won't take away their friendship, and that he should try to spend time with other kids who obviously wanted to be his friend; reminding him about all the great friends who will always be his friend; telling him we love him. I can see that will be hard to negotiate in the face of C.'s charm. Geez, the Queen Bee stuff is starting already and he's only five (so much for that "boys are easier than girls" theory). Does anyone have any ideas? Or can you distract the teacher at recess so I can take C. behind the dumpsters and rough him up a bit? (Kidding! Kidding! Sort of...)

Tessy & Tab: How did you know?

September 11, 2007

About a week before one of our first summer trips to the beach this year, some mail arrived for Tati, our 3-1/2 year old.  It was her first issue of Tessy & Tab (yay for this locally produced tot-mag!), "Tessy & Tab have fun at the beach".  Toward the end of the summer, as we were packing up for a week with the kids' grandparents in New York, more mail came for Tati.  In that issue of Tessy & Tab, "Tessy & Tab went on a trip", and I must say that their examples probably provided impetus for Tati to be particularly independent on this trip; it was our first trip without a stroller or any other carrying device.

Back from our end of summer trip and preparing for Tati's first few days at her new school (today being her first longer day), we were met by psychic mail again.  This time, "Tessy & Tab go back to school."

Tati gets excited when she sees her preschool magazine in the mail pile waiting for her.  More than that, she loves when the Tessy & Tab adventures are stories that she can completely relate to, at that moment, in her life.  She lights up and gets so excited to be able to connect with Tessy & Tab.  When I think about it, who wouldn't light up and get excited?

Another wonderful thing about Tessy & Tab for our family is that our older girl, Philly (aged almost-7) loves to read issues to her little sis and she loves to help her little sis start to recognize letters.  We know other Tessy & Tab subscribers who love the tot mag for the big-kid-helps-little-kid experience too.

We'd love to hear about Tessy & Tab experiences, as well as feedback on any other preschool periodicals.  We've heard of Ladybug Magazine?  What about periodicals for the older set?  I myself am an old Highlights fan...   

Kindergarten: Raise your hand if you're scared!

August 31, 2007

Grout_hallway
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?

Get to sleep! How do you change a child's bedtime?

August 30, 2007

Boys_sleep
My husband and I are confirmed night owls, always have been, always will struggle with it! I've read studies that a predisposition to early rising or staying up to all hours is hereditary, so you can imagine that our kids are just like us. Unfortunately, we're all night dwellers in a world designed for the early bird. And (what with Everett starting school at 8 a.m. in 11 days) I'm trying to change our ways.

Let's take yesterday as a case study: I woke the boys at 8 a.m., only 45 minutes past my goal time of 7:15. Truman (28 mos) took a nap, nearly three hours in the late afternoon. I tried to wake him up starting at around 90 minutes, but it didn't 'take' until 5:30 or so. All day I did admirably on what I call Project: Schedule; we ate meals at regular times, went largely without TV, tried to have a post-lunch settle down. Around 8:00, I started my recently-established routine: bath, maybe a glass of milk, brush teeth, books, good night! A few minutes before 11, I checked on them and they were quietly playing. 10 minutes later, Truman trundles down the stairs, and we do the carry-back-upstairs three or four times before finally, it's nighty-night.

Zoinks! What should I do? I just can't seem to get them to go to sleep at a "normal" time (I'd hope for something in the 9 p.m. range). I've been working on this for a couple of months now, some days assiduously, some days (I'll admit) a bit lackadaisical. I've tried some tricks that didn't work, like spiking the milk with Benadryl (I gave up after a week feeling guilty), aromatherapy bubble bath, even reading books that all have a bedtime theme. How can a mama get a couple of energetic boys to sleep already?

Tantrums & Meltdowns

August 21, 2007

Other urbanMamas have discussed before, could it be that three is more terrible that two?  It very well could be the case.  How has the number 3 fared for you?  Mary emails:

My son turned 3 this past week, and while I know that it is completely normal for kids this age to throw tantrums when they don't get their way (we here 'I want', 'I want' a LOT), my husband and I are having much frustration with the complete crying screaming meltdowns that have been happening lately.  I have been diligent about getting him snacks and meals at the appropriate times to ward off low blood sugar, but the tantrums continue to happen.  We have made the rule that he cannot have his milk until after he eats his meal (whatever time of day, breakfast, lunch, or dinner) because he fills up on milk and then refuses to eat anything.  Today before his normal lunch time, about 11am, he started in on the whining and crying asking for his milk (he had just had a snack of cheese at 10:15) so I fixed him his lunch early and told him that I would be happy to give him his milk after he ate his lunch.  Complete sobbing meltdown.  He wouldn't even sit on my lap and take a bite at all.  Finally he asked for a nap, so I took he and his sippy of water up to bed.  I feel awful about putting him down hungry, but I don't want to back down from our milk-after-eating rule because I know that is a slippery slope with the rules.  He cried for a bit after I put him down but did go to sleep (his usual nap time is 12:30, give or take a bit).  My typical mantra is 'this too shall pass' but I am quite frustrated!!  Any advice??

Just a few weeks left - counting down to school

August 14, 2007

Portland Public Schools kicks off the 2007-2008 school year in just three short weeks.  Will your child be going to school for the first time?  What sorts of things have you been doing to get ready for school?  Stocking up on the back-to-school suppply list that the school sent you?

We caught wind of a new product by Portland-company Blue Lake Children's Publishing.  It's called the Kindergarten Countdown Toolkit, and it comes with a DVD, a stack of Tessy & Tab magazines, and a kindergarten checklist.  The checklist has great tips for building up to the first day and week of school: visit the school, prepare for riding the bus or commuting to school, routinize the sleeping schedule, make a list for things to bring to school, and -- my personal favorite tip -- plan a special "first day" family dinner.

Another great idea is to start to get to know new families at your new school.  We've already been invited to our daughter's new school's end-of-summer picnic, and we already have our older daughter's back-to-school picnic on our calendars.  Sarah C recently posted that she belongs to a google group for her daughter's school, Beach Elementary.  We are figuring that there are many school  yahoo/google groups out there -- like Alameda Elementary, Creston School, Arthur Academy -- are there more?

Kindergarten is truly one of those first milestones you will definitely not forget.  Megan's daughter will be starting this fall, she asks:

Stella is starting Kindergarten (too soon!) at Vernon, and I'd love to find some other families to have some playdates so she might have a familiar face or two on her first day of school.  Do you guys know of anyone?

Are you in the same situation as Megan and would like to meet others from your school?  Start posting in the comments and let's see if we can help any of you connect! Any other ideas on how to prepare for the next school year, especially for those who are just starting their first days?  Three weeks will be gone before we know it!

Sewing with kids: when do you start?

August 12, 2007

Sewing_the_sling
When I was visiting my sister a few days ago, her 13-year-old step-daughter was busy working on her first sewing project (after a lesson from her grandma). Even though she's clearly old enough, I was surprised at how well her little bib had turned out. The next day Everett and I were busy choosing projects from Amy Karol's fabulous beginner's book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing and the number of projects he demanded was, well, impossible. I started thinking about teaching him to sew...

When we were kids, we always begged to use the sewing machine, but mom made a rule: you had to be eight years old to use it. I'm pretty sure, though, we started in with hand-sewing before that (and you can bet our great-grandmas were sewing before they knew the alphabet). I'd love to hear your experiences (or plans) -- if you're into the textile arts as I am, when did you learn to sew? When did you, or do you plan to, teach your own children?

Oh yes: and if you're looking for that perfect gift for a teenager (or adult) who's taking up sewing, Amy Karol's book would be a nice place to start.

Riding the Rails

August 08, 2007

urbanMama Heather is looking for more rails to ride for her three year old kiddo:

My three year old LOVES trains, streetcars and the like.  I am always looking for different train-type themed activities for us to do?  Anyone have any suggestions for train rides they loved, train themed parks, trains museums, etc. that might be more unknown or usual?  We have made our fair share of Amtrak, Max and Portland Streetcar rides.

There are several other events that come to mind.  First, after visiting the zoo this weekend, we should not forget the zoo train.  Occasionally the Oregon Heritage Rail Foundation has special events with our very cool steam and diesel engines.  Their ultimate goal in their events is to have a rail museum here in Portland sooner than later.  If you don't mind heading north across the Columbia River, then you could try the SP&S Railway Museum.  If you think he'd like to observe some miniature trains in action there are sometimes shows at the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club.  If you drive east you could catch a ride on the Mt Hood Rail Road.  Any moms have additional train-related event/activity suggestions for a three year old? 

What would you do - let her keep the binky?

July 29, 2007

BinkyLet's just say that one day, you were walking around the Division-Clinton Street Fair, moseying about with some other urbanFamilies.  Let's just say that you happened upon another urbanFamily's home, where they were having a mongo garage sale.  Now, let's just say that lots of the urbanKidlets got a hold of some pacifiers (all clean ones, some new) at said garage sale and your 3-1/2 year old urbanKiddo insists on going home with the binky in her mouth.  Let's just say that we catch her sucking on said binky almost every single moment in the past 24 hours since she's found the novel little thing, never ever having had taken to the binky as a baby in the past.  Let's just say that she goes to sleep with it in her mouth and she also took her nap with it.

What would you do?  Yank the damn thing outta her mouth and chuck it in the trash?  Or, just let her suck on the thing and decide herself when enough is enough?

We're going to grandma's!

July 19, 2007

I remember when I was a kid, I'd beg my parents to let me stay at my cousin's house for the weekend.  The first night was so fun - we'd stay up all night, set up sleeping bags in the living room, watch movies.  By the second night, though, I'd miss my bed, my own pajamas, my room, and my parents.  I'd get homesick, even on just the second night.

When I was ten, my parents decided it would be a wonderful life experience for me and my brothers to spend the summer - three months - in the Philippines.  We rotated houses, staying with my grandmother and a myriad of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I definitely thought it was novel, since I convinced my aunt that I was allowed to have ice cream sundaes every day.  But, after the first week, I was homesick.  And, I had several, several weeks to go.  My two brothers were 6 years old and 4 years old that summer.

When we came home, finally, my mother gave us each the hug of all hugs.  She clung to us like she'd never let us go.  She told us, "We will never, ever, ever leave you for that long again.  Ever."

Our girls are lucky enough for have four grandparents - my parents and my husband's parents.  For a long while now, they have been trying to finagle a way to get the girls to spend a week in San Francisco (with my parents) or in New York (with my husband's parents).  The girls and I have spent only a few instances apart.  Just a handful, really.  I didn't spend a night away from either of them until they were each three years old, at least.

Maybe it I am the one who is having a hard time being OK with the time apart.  But, I do think that the time apart may be more challenging than they may think.  Have you had your child(ren) go away and spend time at the grandparents' or with other family?  How has it been?  Have you loved the time apart or hated it?

What Website to use for Pictures??

July 03, 2007

All of must have byte upon byte of photos of our darlingest little bon-bons.  We have memorialized everything from the first bath to the day she lost her first tooth.  What to do with all of these pictures?  How to best share them with family and friends across lands and oceans?  Something like an urbanMamas flickr pool?  Sarah emails:

I have just under 15 bazillion pictures of my 1 1/2-year-old daughter trapped on my computer and on memory cards. I would like her to actually SEE some of these pictures one day but just can't seem to get myself down to the drug store, with toddler in tow, to scroll through all of them on a touch screen and print them out while someone taps their foot impatiently behind me. Plus, I've been disappointed with the quality at those do-it-yourself photo kiosks.

I am ready to enter the world of online photo uploading and processing but don't know where to start.  SnapfishShutterfly? I have no idea.  Are they all about the same? Are there some Web sites that have definite advantages or disadvantages?  Where have other mamas been particularly happy with photo quality, security concerns, and price? Or is there a local digital photo processing place that is even better? More organized mamas, please show me the way...

Relocating with a preschooler

June 13, 2007

Many of us can relate to moving to Portland with child in tow. Perhaps you can share so first-hand experiences with Gina?

We are relocating to NW PDX this August with our 4 year old daughter. With a big move, and a new baby coming the same month, I'm worried her world is going to really beturned upside down and I'm desperate to find a nurturing school where the teachers will make her feel welcome, engaged and excited about the big changes in her life. I've heard some good things about the Tigard Playschool Co-op and am planning to make a visit soon. Does anyone have any thoughts/comments on this school or suggestions of other schools to consider? Have any of the UrbanMamas out there moved with a preschooler? What did you do to make their transition easier? I sure appreciate your advice and look forward to getting to Portland!

Pirates Pirates Everywhere: Must I, Too, Walk the Plank?

June 07, 2007

A pirate-learly mama opines about the craze, surely she's not alone.  Care to offer your 2 cents?

It's a fact: young children are into pirates. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? I know what I think, but really, really want to know what you think. I am genuinely confused and wonder if I am the only parent who has pirate issues. In short: pirates thieved for a living. The skull and cross bones is scary. Sword fighting is a aggressive. Appropriate for young children (mine is 4)? Are your kids into pirates? If so, are you OK with it? If so, how do you see it? If not, how do you avoid it?

Birthmark / Mole Removal

May 10, 2007

Virginia needs some advice on other mama's who've opted to have skin imperfections taken care of on their child.  She writes:

I know this is a long shot but I figured I’d see if anyone out there has been through anything similar.  My 21 month old son has a mole on the side of his face between his cheek and eye.  It looks like a birthmark (and that’s what every doctor told me it was) but my gut told me it was something more.  Thus, I took him to a pediatric dermatologist and I was right.  It’s a large flat mole and very noticeable (over 1 cm in diameter).  I’m his mama so I don’t care but there is no doubt that we will have it removed, probably around his third birthday.  The risk of skin cancer with this type of mole is 1 in 3 plus I don’t want him to have to deal with any teasing/bullying because of it.  Have any of the other urbanMamas ever dealt with a similar issue?  I’m most concerned with the anesthesia involved with the surgery, plus it’s plastic surgery.  I could really use some support and would love any info from someone who’s been through something similar.

School Preferences: Public vs Private

May 04, 2007

Just a couple days ago, OPB was airing a story about how students seem to be disappearing from public schools and moving to private education.  I've always liked to think that no matter what, I would send my children to public school, unless it was detrimental to their health or well-being.  Of course my eldest is still a pre-schooler so I don't know for sure until the time comes what will be the right choice for our family.  One local mama, Laura, asks this question:

We have a year to decide where our child will go to school. We are debating on whether to send him to Portland Public Schools (we're not impressed), private school (expensive) or move (flee) to the burbs. Any thoughts?

For us, our neighborhood is non-negotiable.  We love where we live and it is our community.  So for now, we are planning on sending our child to PPS.  How about you?  Have you thought this through, and what decision works best for your family?

More kid rock: The Sippy Cups

April 16, 2007

Portland's a hip-and-hoppin' place to hear kid's music! Another popular kiddie rock band is coming to town -- The Sippy Cups.

Calling kids of all ages… The Sippy Cups are coming - a high energy rock show for families whipping up imaginative original tunes and rock favorites into a whirlwind circus of humor, audience participation, and a magic party atmosphere!

Combining skilled musicianship, a love of classic rock and for children; this San Francisco group plays music under the motto “Milk, Music & Mischief.” Definitely not your average acoustic singer-songwriter type of kids music, great pains have been taken to make sure this music appeals to parents as much as their children. We’re pleased to present this magical blend of music & mirth making to Portland’s Aladdin Theater!

Showtime: Saturday, May 5, 1pm (doors open at noon)
Where: The Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue
Tickets: $15 (all ages), available at Ticketmaster and the Aladdin Theater box office

Thoughts on Arthur Academy?

April 10, 2007

An urbanMama and an urbanPapa would love to hear from you.  They are considering a PPS charter school, of which there are now five (for lower elementary grades) in the Portland Public School district.  In specific, they are looking at Arthur Academy:

We're hoping to hear from people whose children have attended one of the Arthur Academy charter schools.  We know they use Direct Instruction, which we've read up on extensively. We're still trying to decide what we think about it. But more importantly, we're interested in the experiences - positive, negative, neutral, anything, that parents whose children have attended can offer.  Did your child enjoy school and learn?  What concerns did you have?  Was the lack of usual school amenities like libraries, cafeterias, auditoriums, a problem?

So many people (perschool teachers, parent friends who have experience in teaching who are considering it for kindergarten, etc) tell me it is a wonderful program but I have yet to hear from any actual parents with kids who have attended or do attend. Any feedback at all would be much appreciated!

I Don't Want to Go to School!

March 26, 2007

Every time we tell my son "it's time to get ready for school" his inevitable reply is "but I don't want to go to school!"  This started over a year ago, and even though I kept telling myself it's just a phase, it hasn't stopped yet.  Late last winter I was just starting the pregnancy with son #2 and despite my best efforts to contact pre-schools and get my elder son enrolled, the strong urge to procrastinate won out and I didn't lift a finger until November that year.  This means we MAY be able to get him in to another pre-school by next fall (2007).  That's a big MAY.

Currently he's only going to his care center 2 days a week at most.  Sometimes if he's sick or there's a weather day, we haven't taken him in.  Add to that the two and a half months he was home with me for my maternity leave, and maybe he thinks just whining about it will mean he can stay home instead (or better yet, go to Granny's house!).  When he starts his denial I try to engage him in a conversation about what it is he doesn't like about school, so we can address what his issues are rather than just dismissing them.  Usually he says he doesn't like when his "friends" at school hurt him (which doesn't necessarily mean physical hurt, but also emotional hurt).  The scenarios he describes are not unusual interactions for 3 year olds, as far as I can tell, so I offer him some solutions for dealing with the situations that arise.  I've discussed his concerns with the teachers and tried to probe them for solutions, but they have their own issues in trying to deal with the gaggle of kids in the classroom, so my little guy's needs just get lost in the mix.  In my heart of hearts, though, I know that this is not the place for him to do his best growing and learning.  But, until our number is up at any of our other choices, this place will have to do.

Am I the ONLY mama who totally missed the preschool boat?  I mean I heard it was difficult but I think needing full time preschool 2-3 days a week and needing to get enrolled more than a year in advance really threw me for a loop.  I think I really mucked this one up and I hope my little guy doesn't suffer for my mistake.  Hopefully, I'll get a call that our dream situation has arrived, and then things will get better.  I also can't help wondering if we actually make the change, he'll still not want to go to school because ultimately, he just wants to be with his family instead.

Kid rock: The Grease Ball!

February 27, 2007

From Portland's own Belinda and Tova, hosts of Greasy Kid Stuff:

Greasy Kid Stuff, the hip, hit radio show for alternakids and their parents, presents the Grease Ball!

Captain Bogg & Salty, The Jellydots, A mini-squadron from The Sprockettes, DIY silkscreening from Orbitbug, designs by Jessica Wolk-Stanley. Make your own $2 Greasy Kid Stuff bandana! Plus flip books, thumatropes, and fun filmy stuff from Indiekid Films.

A $5 complete and yummy kid menu, and great food for adults too!

It's all happening Sunday, March 18, 2:30 p.m. at the Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St. in Portland. Doors open at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under (ages 2 and under free). Tickets are available in advance through Ticketmaster and may also be purchased (cash only) at the Wonder Ballroom box office (open Monday through Friday, noon–6 p.m.) and Café Wonder (Tuesday through Saturday plus show nights, 5 p.m.–close).

Ballgowns and tiaras optional!

Ski Bunny: Her First Time

February 02, 2007

We've had several great romps up on Mt. Hood, playing in the snow tubing at Ski Bowl or snowshoeing all around.  We've finally come to the time that our six year-old is ready to hit the slopes for the first time.  We bought her skis (super-discounted at Copeland's Grand Closing!), but - now - how to begin?  Should we do a lesson?  Should we just head up the tug-rope at Meadows and take it from there?  Last year, Shetha mentioned renting skis for $5 at Meadows and using the tug-rope for free.  Is that still accurate?  The Meadows rental page seems to show that Jr. rentals are $20?  Should we head to Ski Bowl because it's smaller (and closer)?

Internet Safety

January 25, 2007

It feels like one of the hottest news topics are uncovering online predators who victimize youth who are naive in their use of the internet. Web-use is a reality, for all of us, and it will also probably be a reality for our children. Does anyone have any experience with parental controls on the internet? Any guidelines for internet use for the younger ones? Murphy writes:

Hello! I have my little sister living with me, she's 9 yrs old (soon to be 10). Of course she is very interested in using the internet to chat with her friends. I'm ok with emailing, not a big fan of the chats. We wanted to know if anyone loves or hates the different parental software out there. The computer is in the family room and we have the computer password protected so you can't even log in. We know that won't work forever. I would love any help in the world of internet safety software.

Birthday Party for a 3-year old

January 20, 2007

Can we help out Kim with planning a kid- and adult-friendly birthday party? C'mon! We only turn 3 once:

I was hoping to get some advice/suggestions about a three-year-old birthday party. I am trying to do something that would be enjoyed by both the kids and the adults. Any thoughts?

Be sure to check out our Birthday Party section for previous posts and ideas.

Mama and Me Knitting

January 19, 2007

The folks over at Sydney's Cafe have an idea. How about a mama-'n'-me knitting group every week? Are you interested? Of course, all mamas are welcome, regardless of whether their kiddies are knitting!What time would work best (considering the cafe closes at 6pm in the evenings)? Would 4 or 5 o'clock work one evening each week? A weekend time?