70 posts categorized "Arts & Culture"

A balancing act: A guest post from a performing artist parent

May 10, 2014

Guest post from Camellia Nieh, who will be performing with TEMPOS Tuesday and Wednesday.

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photo © Dan Kim

A year ago, my husband I joined a performance group called TEMPOS, blending acrobatics, dance, and physical theater with live music. My husband writes and performs music for the group, and I perform acrobatics. Acrobatics is my passion…it makes me feel strong and alive. Music is my husband’s. We feel so lucky to have found an outlet that enables us both to work creatively together.

Our six-year-old son, Uzi, is less thrilled about our artistic projects. TEMPOS takes up a lot of our time. Friends and family support us a lot with childcare, and we have a fantastic babysitter whom he loves. But Uzi still wishes we would just stay home with him every night. Sometimes he cries when I have to leave for a rehearsal.

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photo © Ty Chance

I feel conflicted about the time I invest in creative pursuits. My husband is less conflicted. He assures me that it’s better for Uzi to see us dedicating ourselves to what we love. That it makes us happier, more balanced parents, and that it sets a good example, too. Fundamentally, I think he’s right. My hope is that when Uzi is older, he’ll look back and be proud of us for being performers. He’ll feel enriched by the evenings he spent hanging out backstage, tumbling with a crew of playful acrobats, or in the music studio in our basement, learning drumbeats and experimenting with the mixing board. Also, my mother sacrificed her personal aspirations to raise our family, and while we’re deeply grateful to her for devoting so much of herself to us, it was also hard always knowing that she felt so unfulfilled.

How do you balance what you love to do with the needs of your children? Do you feel conflicted about the time and resources you invest in doing things you love? Do you wish your own parents had invested more in their own passions, or less?

Happy St. Patrick's Day, but: How do kids celebrate?

March 17, 2014

"What IS St. Patrick's Day?" questions have been coming fast and loose from the kids around me today. My best answer is "a celebration of Irish culture," but when I looked up the Wikipedia page on St. Paddy's Day I don't think I realized that the religious feast day in Ireland to celebrate the isle's patron saint includes a Lenten loophole -- restrictions on lush behavior are lifted. (Don't tell those people in kilts -- kilts? -- I saw already drunk on Friday night.) So I started describing how and why people drink like crazy on St. Patrick's Day.

"All people do is EAT and GET DRUNK?" came the angry rejoinder. I got a demand to "do something fun outside!" -- but other than hunt for four-leaf clovers or gold pots at the ends of rainbows, I can't think of a thing.

What do you do with the kids for St. Patrick's Day, other than wearing green and making (my favorite part) Irish food? Anything we can fit in before the end of the day?

Throwback Thursday: Extracurricular Activities

September 19, 2013

As we settle into our school-years, some of us settle into a schedule of extracurricular activities.  Today's Throwback Thursday recounts past conversations on extracurriculars:

And some open threads:

And - finally - what do you do while waiting?

Weekend Warriors - July 26-28, 2013

July 24, 2013

Here’s the scoop for the weekend. For more ideas on what to do this weekend, check the Events Calendar on Metro Parent's PDX Kids Calendar and the urbanMamas calendar page.

Enjoy free admission to the Portland Art Museum. Enjoy free and easy bike parking, free Museum admission, and snacks from some of Portland's finest pedal-powered food carts, including Taco Pedalers, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, Moberi-Bike Smoothies, Masala Popcorn, and more. Friday 5-8pm.

Flicks on the Bricks at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The Square will be transformed into Portland's largest outdoor movie theater for the entire community to enjoy. This Friday Finding Nemo. Friday at dusk. Free!

Kids' Discovery Hike. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this Northwest forest while learning about native plants, wildlife, and the inspiring history of Portland's Forest Park. Designed for kids ages 4-10 with parent accompaniment, hike is free but space is limited, so reserve your spot now! Saturday 9:30-11:30am.

Continue reading "Weekend Warriors - July 26-28, 2013" »

New moms: What gets you 'out of the house'?

October 18, 2012


Now that my little ones are older -- my youngest is five, and all of my three boys are in school -- I sometimes forget what it's like to be a new mom. That's one reason I love the writing playgroups I've started with Stealing Time and my long-time "home school MFA" classmate Mara Collins; at once I'm doing something I love (talking about writing and reading) and connecting with, mostly, mothers whose children are very young. Even though it's distant for me, remembering what it was like to be a new mother without a lot of community and validation was really hard. It was about that time, though, that I met a mom's group, and then soon after the lovely ladies of urbanMamas.

So I could relate when I asked our new member Tuesday why she had come. She didn't have a writing project specifically in mind. "I just want to get out of the house," she said. That's as good a reason as any!

It brought me back to the feelings of my young mama days, how I wanted to somehow stay relevant to the world and yet still honor my new role as a mother; how hard it was to get to know the new mother self while at the same time learning how to deal with a small very needy being; how little was left at the end of all that and yet how much I needed to use what little was left in an altruistic way.

We're planning to start rolling out the writing playgroups to other neighborhoods and cities starting in the winter, to give more people this chance to "get out of the house" in a way that engages your brain and still honors your motherhood (or, if you're an at-home dad, your fatherhood). If you're a new mom, how do you connect with all the other selves that sometimes get muffled in motherhood? If you're not so new any more, how did you do it back then?

One day alone: What would you do?

November 03, 2011

I'm in St. Paul, Minnesota, where as I flew in I said to my seatmate, "it looks like a picture book! Like... Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." Today's beautiful weather is supposed to last through tomorrow, too -- clear and gorgeously sunny and cool-but-not-cold.
Urbanmamas_hamline_church250 Urbanmamas_Guesthouse250

I came to Hamline University for a reading of a piece for which I won an award; it was a little indulgent to make the trip, but worth it in many ways. I got to be a guest in a creative writing class today, and I have the reading tomorrow night. All the boys are staying with a different relative or friend, and are happy to have a few days with a beloved family member.

I'm in a university guest house and have nothing -- absolutely nothing -- I have to do between now and tomorrow at 7 p.m. I can't clean house or can tomatoes or go on errands. A glorious, perfectly rare, day alone. I'm planning to run 8 or 9 miles, go to a coffee shop, and write, and not worry about how long I'm taking with any of it. It is such a gift, and I'm grateful as can be.

What would you do with one perfect day alone in another place?

Halloween Costumes Verboten at Buckman; How 'Bout the Candy?

October 17, 2011

However tempted I am to say something like, "Halloween was simpler when we were kids!"; it's just not true. When I was of trick-or-treating age, I was faced with an enormity of moral and safety concerns each October 31st. My family, very faithful Conservative Baptists, approached Halloween with great suspicion thanks to its age-old ties to the Devil himself. A few years, we went to church on Halloween for witch-free celebrations (that's where I got my first goldfish!); I always chose "good" costumes, princesses and fairies and, ok, I really only ever wanted to be a princess. Also, we had the specter of razor blades and poison, which must have happened one time ever, and yet most of our parents were sure there were razor blade vendors on every block. Beware of the caramel apples! Take heed of the popcorn balls!

This year, in Portland, we have a modern flavor on the ages-old debate over Halloween. At Buckman Elementary, costumes will be banned for the second consecutive year; the principal "says celebrating Halloween at school excludes some kids and can be very offensive." (My six-year-old's school, Grout, is allowing costumes but banning weapons and gory/offensive/skimpy "content.") This has brought up all the debates you'd think ("what's happened to childhood?" "Halloween is an American celebration" "children need to have the opportunity to use their imaginations and dress up, but I do not believe this needs to be accomplished through Halloween"), and a few new twists. A few commenters on Think Out Loud said that they were disallowed from costumes by their family due to strict religious beliefs, and they appreciated the opportunity to stand up for their beliefs (in one case) or to soak up the "normalness" of the culture around them (in another case).

I'm not very passionate either way on this one; costumes at school, for me, means I have to have them ready earlier (I'm a very-last-minute homemade costume aficionado). And I do understand that they are distracting from the learning environment, and agree that there are ample times outside of school to wear costumes. On the other hand, I disagree that Halloween costumes in particular create disparity and cultural discomfort. As one commenter said and I agree wholeheartedly: these differences are always apparent, and Halloween costumes don't highlight them more or less than any other day at school. In my experience, you can see the cultural/economic differences best in the clothing worn to school when it's cold and rainy outside. (And as someone who was once a very poor high school student and is now a high school coach, I'm telling you, the disparity issues only get worse and more obvious every day that goes by in public school.)

Want more reasons to feel ambivalent about Halloween? The candy. It's not just probably pretty bad for you and your kids (and even I let my kids gorge for a day or two on Halloween and a few other holidays; childhood, right?). It's also the product of child slave labor.

Continue reading "Halloween Costumes Verboten at Buckman; How 'Bout the Candy?" »

Friday Family Movie Night: Ponyo

July 22, 2011

I had been sold a dozen times over on Hayao Miyazaki's work before Ponyo came out in 2009; a friend was so enthralled with My Neighbor Totoro that she held a special showing at the Clinton Street. But I was skeptical; I'm not generally a fan of kids' movies that anthropormorphize -- especially, I thought, fish. How bizarre was that? A little boy falling in love with a fish?

Besides, everyone said, My Neighbor Totoro was way, way better. So I put it off, skipping it in the theaters (as I usually do), and always turning away from opportunities to see it on the small screen. Finally, one night, nothing else appeared to strike our fancy, so the boys and I tried it On Demand. I was -- to use an eye-rollingly appropriate figure of speech -- swept away.

When it comes down to it, I do love magical realism, and Miyazaki is such a master of the form that I found I was quickly able to set aside my quibbles with the practicality of boy+fish love (especially at such a young age!) and just fall head over heels for the lush-but-dark world he paints. The boys were no less adoring of the characters and style than I. We all stayed rapt through the very end of the movie, the credits, and then we rewound to listen to the theme song again (Ponyo, Ponyo, tiny little fish! She's a little fish from the deep blue sea!).


As the movie opens, five-year-old Sosuke finds a goldfish trapped in a bottle. She is, however, one of hundreds of sister-goldfish who are the daughters of a wild red-headed magician and a luminous sea-goddess. Ponyo -- Sosuke's name for her -- is a formidable child, and steals magic from her father to return to Sosuke. This magic, unleashed, creates a universal imbalance; threatening Sosuke, his mother, and father, a sailor who's gone out for an extra trip.

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: Ponyo" »

Are you, will you, 'Portlandia'?

January 21, 2011

I've only watched the prior-to-premiere videos, but from what I've seen, urbanMamas resembles Portlandia very much. The new short IFC series -- six 30-minute episodes -- skewers everything we know, love, hate, and are in Portland: even our very own logos (yep, we've got a bird on it, several in fact!). Tonight's episode, up at 7:30, evidently will poke fun at the very Portland practice of knowing very very very much about where our food comes from.

Can I talk? I've got spaghetti sauce on the stove; the pork comes from Tails and Trotters, whose butchers-in-chief I've chatted with on many occasions. The mushrooms come from a buying club and they are definitely local. I canned the tomatoes, and they're heirloom, and from a nearby farm, and I grew the garlic. I'm wearing a thrifted apron and awesome brand-new pants from a free pile (brand-new to me, anyway). I just cut my boys' hair, not too short, in my living room. I'm treading on thin ice, though, by eating spaghetti from a package, avec gluten... it's whole wheat and organic though!

It's fun to make fun of ourselves sometimes, and I'll surely take the first opportunity to watch it (on Hulu?). The ironic thing (or one of them) is that it's really not very Portland to have cable, and even regular cable packages don't include IFC. And I have to admit, I wish a tiny bit that someone who is actually from Portland had written this. [Note, edited: Carrie, as I learned, has lived in Portland for several years, though the rest of the show's writers haven't.] Will Fred & Carrie miss all the truly Portland things to laugh at? Will the comedy hurt? Are they stealing "that's so Portland," the thing we always say to ourselves when we see two guys on tall bikes dressed in hipster-thrift store-Santa suits giving big cans of Pabst to homeless guys on Christmas afternoon, and turn it into "that's so Portlandia"? Will we, as one person who posted on the Facebook page suggests, be truly Portland by already being "over" the show after two episodes?


note: that first picture is amazingly, everything Portlandia pokes fun at. That's at the farmer's market on a Saturday last fall before Thanskgiving. That woman has an appliqued bird on her sweatshirt. No one is using an umbrella. And they all have their locally-roasted direct trade drip-on-demand artisan coffee in hand...

StoryCorps is coming to PDX, August 12-14, 2010

June 30, 2010

It was a looooong while ago when StoryCorps' airstream trailer planted in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square. Was it 2005?  I remember it.  We were still relatively new to Portland, and the StoryCorps project had *just* launched.  Have you heard StoryCorps?  The program is designed to "provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives." 

Well, five years later, StoryCorps is one of those features that the kids and I love to hear on OPB.  Our ears perk when we hear the StoryCorps jingle.  Well, now, we have the chance to try to record our stories.  StoryCorps is coming to the Central Library on August 12, 13, and 14.

In specific, they are looking for stories "that capture the roles that public libraries have played in people’s lives," a very particular angle on the StoryCorps. I, for one, love retelling stories, commemorating them for later, reading and rereading about moments of our lives that seem like just yesterday. Our lives are one anecdote after another. Sometimes, after listening to a StoryCorps episode, I will think, "if I ever have the opportunity to record via StoryCorps, what story would I share?" Many of my most meaningful and powerful anecdotes are stories of me with my mother, father, grandmother or grandfather. I would love to archive stories of me as mother, too.

If you could share *any* story for the StoryCorps project, what would it be? And, don't forget, be sure to call the Library if you are interested in sharing how libraries have changed *your* life.

1st Thursday, Last Thursday, 3rd Thursday, 1st Friday - what about the kids?

April 29, 2010

When we moved to Portland, we heard a lot about the First Thirsday gallery walk, where studios open late, pour wine, host live music, and welcome people flowing from one spot to the next in the Pearl District.  Sounded cool.  Later, we also found out about Last Thursday art walk on Alberta.  In fact, I think we had an urbanMamas gathering once, way back when, meeting up at Vita Cafe for some eats before meandering out along NE Alberta.  Second Thursday Music walk on N. Mississippi Ave has come and gone, but sometimes I see faves like Black Wagon opening up their doors late for art installations, snacks, music, and fun on some Second Thursdays.  Well, now, there's a Third Thursday in downtown Kenton, also featuring food, wine, specials, neighbors and fun.  And, a First Friday in the Central Eastside?

What I have always wanted to know: how kid-friendly is all of this?  Have you done one of these art/music walks with the kids?  Did they love it?  Didn't love it?  Perhaps you've made it a date night to enjoy without the kids?  Share thoughts and experiences - we've been wondering this for a while!

Art and motherhood: A difficult combination?

November 16, 2009

At Wordstock last month, I sat in on several readings and discussions by writer mamas, and recently I've been very closely following other mothers and writers on Twitter and Facebook. I'll admit to a fascination that's part curiosity and part ... jealousy? longing? ... as I watch them juggle motherhood and their art. From a distance, it seems they're doing it better than me.

I've finally gotten to the point where I believe I could finish my book proposal any day (really!) and I'm finally having a essay published in print this month. After years writing online, I'm coming into this artist-writer bit, slowly, with lots of squeaking and complaints from my family. It's been hard, especially on those nights where my oldest has decided to go off melatonin, a gentle sleep aid we'd been using to good effect, and I must restart the process of coaching him on calming himself. For three hours.

A friend Tweeted she was locked in her bedroom this weekend, finishing a few last chapters of her book as her husband wrangled her boys. Another acquaintance, a writer dad, seems as if he's frequently out of town on book readings and fabulous events, trading off childcare duty and glamorous writer things with his poet wife. I asked an author I admired at Wordstock how she managed to write with children -- and she's a single mother, having adopted a little girl internationally. "Very expensive childcare," she answered.

Then yesterday, I read in the Oregonian about this fabulous couple here in Portland. They're both visual artists and she's an accomplished writer. They're gorgeous and cute and funny and successful. They have a three-month-old baby. I'm so jealous! (On the same page: a story about the Decemberists' guitarist and his lovely girlfriend, Seann McKeel, who've started a series of concerts for children and parents to help entertain their three-year-old child. She's also an artist. Oh!)

In my house, juggling art and motherhood don't go that well. A two-year-old literally hangs from my arm when I'm in the middle of typing an especially inspired sentence. I go to a coffee shop to write for three hours, and when I come home, the slow cooked meal I'd begun has burnt and homework hasn't been done -- my husband was focused on the littlest and his nap, the laundry...

Are you, too, trying to combine some passion -- whether it's writing, art, a political or non-profit endeavor, or a really rewarding job -- and motherhood? How have you managed? Do you sometimes feel that everyone but you is doing great? Or do you have secrets, tricks of the trade, that make it all come together?

Is the 'Where the Wild Things Are' movie a good thing?

October 01, 2009

In many ways I'm the exact sort of person who would most love the movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic book of disobedient boys and their fantasy lives. I adore Where the Wild Things Are, and often demand to read it to my own wild boys when they'd rather read Thomas or the Berenstain Bears. As the parent of a boy (or two. or three) who could most definitely be classified as rambunctious and rebellious -- the movie synopsis adds "misunderstood," which probably fits too -- and seeks to both celebrate and ease these character traits, I love the wild-boy-as-hero concept. In point of fact, I started a Max-inspired wolf suit for Monroe last year for Halloween (it was never finished, and I'm currently undecided as to whether I'll try to finish it for this year; it certainly still suits his personality).

And yet, the trailer troubles me. Yes: it seems to be a luminous work of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers. The art is gorgeous, though very different from the book. But the boy is clearly quite a bit older than the way I envision Max (I see him as a five- or six-year-old; certainly no older than eight) and, of course, a 48-page picture book isn't enough material for a whole film. So there are additions, context, timeline juggling. Max is given the family troubles necessary for a boy who could tell his mom "I'll eat you up" (a single mom who's started dating, it seems, and difficulty at school), and a far more complex relationship with the monsters. Evidently, he's developed into a king, not simply given the crown because he stares into all their yellow eyes without blinking once.

It's rated PG; I'd hoped for "G"; probably due to the adult relationships depicted (I'm guessing here as I haven't yet found a more detailed synopsis of the movie's script). Spike Jonze has said the movie's plot came to him when he was despairing over the breakup of his own marriage. I worry that the pure, musical story of a boy escaping into a dark-but-empowering fantasy to deal with his anger will be saddled with context that doesn't work for every child. Instead of honoring the way Max relates to my own children -- Everett's certainly said many things much like "I'll eat you up," and Monroe has done them wordlessly -- I'll be obsessing over how different Max's mother is from me. In other words: this is all about Jonze's world view, and I need it to be far more malleable. This is a book I really honor, and I fear it will become too fraught with a specific and, while relatable, rigid family story.

My boys have seen the trailer and are eager to see the movie; I'd promised in a moment of rashness I'd take them to the theater (something we've never done). Now I wonder if I'd rather leave my knowledge of the movie to my usual: read reviews, watch it 10 years later when it comes out on network TV. What do you think? Will you see the movie? Will you bring your kids to see it? Are you, like me, terrified of having a movie ruin the book? Or do you think the new soul of Jonze's Wild Things is worth whatever the book loses?

Kids @ the theater: What's your fave?

September 24, 2009

I've been lugging my children to see plays for years in Portland, but have only found one kid-oriented theater that truly jives with my idea of telling appropriate stories and using appropriate humor to children.  And, importantly, I want to avoid examples of behavior that I'm not wanting to come home with us - you know, siblings pestering each other, people being rude to each other and laughing about it, etc... Which I've seen plenty of - and often at prices I'm very sorry to have paid. 

The one I just can't get enough of is Play After Play in SE Portland.  Have you been?  It's minimalist theater that leaves lots to kids' imaginations - they describe it like this:

Play after Play sets the stage with movement, sound and music. Our performance style is simple and engaging, with almost no set, costumes or props, allowing children to use their imaginations as they journey with us.

Then after the play, they play.  At first I was a bit put off by it, but I've come around and my kids love it.  In their words:

After the Story, we invite the children to Play with us one on one in the “play space” (a large area covered with mats). In our Play we meet each child's quality of energy with respect and gentleness. We model loving gentle play with an emphasis on safety and caring for each other. We respect every child's decision to enter into play or not.

And it's affordable, and family-run, and cozy, and just plain real.  Very Portland.  You can see their fall schedule here.  Their opening show for 2009-10 is "The Greatest Treasure: A Story from China."  Did I mention that each month they present a real story from a different country?  

All that said, I'm sure I'm missing some excellent ones, and that whether or not they fit with my idea of appropriate is of course not the best criterion for others.  Which local children's theaters does your family love?  And why?

Ideas for Entertaining the Nieces

July 10, 2009

Entertaining guests can be a lot of fun, but what if you're guests are used to the good life?  One of our readers would like some advice on entertaining her nieces.  She writes:

My brother and his family live in the midwest. My two nieces are seven and nine and to be honest, I've never established much of a relationship with them. Of course a big reason for this is distance but it's also due to the nature of my sister-in-laws parenting style. Both she and my brother are extremely overprotective (read neurotic) and when the girls were little, their parents would never really allow us do things with them alone or get to know them in a meaningful way. As long as the parents were around...well, you get the idea.

So my brother's family will be here for a two week vacation this summer. I really want to make the effort to get to know the girls and establish my own relationship with them. I want to plan a day to take them out just the three of us. Here's my question: these are girls who live very very privileged lives in terms of the kinds of toys/gifts they get and the places they go.

I'd like to come up with a fun idea of what to do without spending a lot of money. They love, love love animals and arts/crafts.

BTW, I'm not the most "creative" when it comes to kids activities (including activities with my own child).

For what age is Treasure Island?

April 23, 2008

The urbanMamas community is always such a wealth of support and perspective.  Shari emails:

I'm thinking about taking some or all of my kids to the Oregon Children's Theater/Captain Bogg & Salty showing of Treasure Island. But it has been so long since I read the book, I can't remember for what ages it would be appropriate. Is anyone familiar enough with the book or the show to make a recommendation? My children are ages 5 and 5 (boys) and 8 (girl).

Singing / Voice lessons?

January 14, 2008

Well mamas, we bring to you another good question.  Andrea has a little singer and wants to encourage her talents so she asks:

Is there a thread on finding singing lessons for 5 year olds. My daughter really wants to take a class but I didn’t see a thread on it.

I don't think we've addressed this question yet, so let's hear it.  Who's found singing lessons for the little ones?

Boogyin' with Baby

October 02, 2007

Thanks for the recent email from a mama looking to the rest of the urbanMamas for true & tried musical hits with the pint-sized wonders:

My daughter is enthralled with music.  She comes from a long line of shower  singers.  She is coming up on 11 months, and she is already a "singing" and dancing fool! She loves especially to hear familiar songs.  We have a couple of good compilations that papa has made, and three other CD's  that are both parent and child friendly:Baby_loves_disco

1) The Bottle Let Me Down--alternative musicians doing children's music
2) the beautiful and local 'Pink Martini'
3) hilarious children's songs by Joe Scruggs--- 'Traffics Jams' is my favorite album

Does anyone have any tried and true favorites? I'm sure that by the time she is three, I'll be listening to the same song for the hundredth time. But for now, I'd like to give us as much variety as possible!

And, in honor of groovin' to some beats kid-style, we'd love to give all commenters on this thread a chance to win a pair of tickets to next upcoming Baby Loves Disco (on October 14, 12N at the Crystal Ballroom).  We've got two pairs to gift away, so let us hear who your sings or plays favorite tunes!

Leave the Kids at Home!

September 11, 2007

1332228674_151ff30756Life changes after kids, but we try to lead a life that is inclusive and one that exposes our little ones to different experiences.  When it comes to family-friendly activities,  Portland cannot be beat.  And even better?  You can barely go wrong with any of the events that's offered all summer long.  Or can you? 

Recently, we attended the Oregon Symphony Outdoor concert.  A much touted family-friendly event.  Even the announcers mentioned it twice during the program.  But then again, we were an island of little energetic boys in a sea of adults and people who could sit still and remain quite during the performance.  As soon as the program started, our little guys gushed with excitement.  It didn't help that Carter and his buddy Andrew fed off each others energy level.  Amidst the glares, really only from the couple in front of us, we tried to listen to the music and watch the dancers.  It was a bit hard at first to enjoy the music and picnicking with our families as we struggled to hush and calm down our 4 year olds every 10 seconds.  At some point, I realized that it wasn't our problem.  It was an outdoor concert, and that it was intended for all to enjoy.  To expect a couple of 4 year olds to sit in complete silence is terribly unrealistic.  Perhaps we should have tried to explain that to the man sitting in front of us.  I opted for quietly threatening under my breath that if he glared at us one more time, I would take a picture of him and post about it on urbanMamas.  Ha!  Don't you mess with an urbanMama, especially one with a camera.  As much as I wanted to do this, I rationalized it was petty.

Needless to say, I was beside myself when I happened upon this great photo in Shetha's collection of pictures of our outing.  And would you believe that she accidentally caught the man in "half glare"? Just curious how others deal with public scrutiny.  Would you have said something?  Have you felt the rift between families and non-families out in public?

Concerts in the Park

July 02, 2007

The wonderful family-friendly and FREE Concerts in Portland Parks starts FRIDAY! Parks all over the city will be filled with music. There is something almost every night this summer and something for every taste. Click here for a printable flyer listing all of the summer concerts.

We help organize the concerts at Fernhill Park and are very excited about this year's line-up. All concerts at Fernhill Park begin at 6:30 pm but there will also be art activities for kids at every concert that begin at 6 pm:

  • July 6 – The Ward Stroud Band will cover the blues from the early delta style to modern standards with a healthy dose of original tunes for good measure.
  • July 13 – Dirty Martini is a blissful union of three of the Pacific Northwest’s finest singer songwriters Lara Michell, Stephanie Schneiderman, and McKinley.
  • July 20 – Erin Rothrock and Aaron Cross present the phenomenal Northwest Community Gospel Choir. The choir is made of singers from churches throughout Portland and has performed with the Oregon Symphony and been featured on OPB.
  • July 27 – Portland Security Traders Association present Intervision. Combining elements of soul, rock, jazz, and pop, Intervision will draw you in and get you dancing with their unique and infectious groove.
  • August 7 - The Buckles serve up classic honky-tonk and hard-core twang right out of the playbooks of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

Summer Reading 2007 - Starts today!

June 01, 2007

It's that time of year again! The wildly successful and popular Summer Reading program starts today, June 1, and runs until August 31, 2007. Find tons of resources for kids' reading and participation, including booklists (sorted by age group) and opportunities for sending book reviews or sending in kids' own poems.

Don't delay! Head to your neighborhood library today, and start your summer reading.

Special Mother Day's Event

May 07, 2007

Mothers_manifesto_7 Mother’s Day weekend kick-offs Saturday, May 12th at the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd) with a special celebration of motherhood that also provides mamas a unique opportunity to learn and talk about the issues that are important to them: Motherhood Manifesto Day!
  •  10 am - 2 pm Mother’s Day Market:  Local women-owned businesses that offer creative goods and services with particular appeal to mothers will turn the lobby of the Hollywood Theatre into a fun-filled bazaar. Admission to the Market is FREE!  
  • 11 am - FREE Special Performance by Super XX Man! Super XX Man creates bittersweet folksongs of love and memory, sure to soften even the most hardened cynic. According to Bob Boilen of NPR’s All Songs Considered, “If we’re going to choose 10-songs every week, let it be Super XX Man.”
  • 1:30 pm - Special Screening of The Motherhood Manifesto. This screening will be followed by an unique opportunity to discuss the issues presented in the film with the filmmakers. Admission is only $7 and all proceeds will support momsrising.org and the 2008 Portland Women’s Film Festival.
  • Special Raffle! Movie ticket holders may enter a FREE raffle and get a chance to win some great prizes like gift certificates for Milagros, Natural Light Photography, and Campbell Salgado Studios, free pilates Classes from Divine Pilates, great products from  Blueprints for Footprints, Global Sistergoods, Zoom Baby Gear and more!
Get advance tickets to the showing of The Motherhood Manifesto on-line or directly from the Hollywood Theatre box office at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR. See you there!

2-for-1 Tickets for The Sippy Cups

April 20, 2007

Tickets for The Sippy Cups Portland concert are available 2-for-1 through ticketmaster for a limited time.  The password for this special deal is JELLO.  Simply enter this code into the special promo box.

We are also giving away  two free tickets at Milagros. You may enter the raffle to win tickets at the store. No purchase is necessary. The winner will be notified on April 28th.

The Sippy Cups will be performing in Portland on Saturday, May 5 at the Aladdin Theater - 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., All Ages, Tickets are $15

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

Summer Camps 2007: Theater Arts

April 05, 2007

Now that Spring Break is over, it's that time of the year again, time to start thinking about what fun the kids will have in store for the summer. Be sure to check out previous camp suggestions. To add to those, here are a few theater/performance summer camps geared toward the older children, ages 7 and up.

ARTS IN ACTION SUMMER CAMP: Arts in Action and New Moon Productions proudly present a truly unique artistic experience for young people. This summer camp enables youth ages 8-16 to create their own musical theatre piece based on the Unitarian Principal, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”. The students will be guided by nurturing professional teachers to write, edit, create music, rehearse, and perform their original theatre piece. Through this process, the young artists will gain self-confidence, artistic growth, awareness of the strength of community, and most of all – a safe forum where they can express their views and feelings. Tuition for this summer camp is $399. The camp will take place July 16–28, Monday through Saturdays, 9:00am-3:00pm. Performances will take place the afternoon or evenings of July 28 & 29. To receive a registration brochure or for more information, please call 503-402-1994.

MUSICAL THEATRE PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP: “THE WIZARD OF OZ” (a musical – with music from the classic motion picture). Feel the thrill of performing of “Wizard of Oz” at the Washington Park Amphitheatre with full costumes, props, and a beautiful set! That is what is in store for our students at the end of this exciting summer camp brought to you by SUN Community Schools, New Moon Productions, and Portland Parks & Recreation. This extensive musical theatre camp features instruction by theatre professionals in many areas including: acting, improvisation, dance & movement, singing, voice production, and other performing skills. The camp is open for students ages 8 - 17. Every day students will work with the instructors on improving their artistic skills as well as rehearsing the show. This program also boasts a unique mentorship program in which all the instructors and interns involved in the camp put on an adult cast version of the same show. The camp runs June 18–July 13, 2007, Monday through Fridays, 9:00am-3:00pm, and it takes place at Grout Elementary School (SE Holgate & 32nd). Performances take place at the Washington Park Amphitheatre (next to the Rose Garden) on the weekends of July 14, 15 and 21,22. The tuition for this camp is $650 (reduced last year’s price!). Some partial scholarships are available. To register or for more information, please call 503-916-6421. Some questions can be answered by replying to nmtheatre@comcast.net.

MADE for Kids, Summer Theater Camp at Concordia University: "Improve your skills at acting, singing & dancing as we create a fully-staged productions". They have a one-week camp for kids entering grades 2-5 and two-week camp for kids entering grades 4-7.

MetroArts Returns for It’s 15th Encore! Now in it’s 15th year, MetroArts Kids Camp gives 7-12 year olds a chance to experience all the arts – music, dance, theater, and visual arts – for one or two weeks at the Portland Center for Performing Arts. Kids crank up their creativity through hands-on activities involving each art form and also enjoy live performances, video demonstrations, and classes taught by professional musicians, dancers, actors, and visual artists. The camp is directed by grammy-nominated Artistic Director Niel DePonte, Oregon Symphony principal percussionist, Oregon Ballet Theater Conductor, and arts educator. GOT KIDS? NEED CAMP?
July 16-20 & 23-27, 2007 / 9am-4pm, Monday through Friday / $160 per week

All New GreenHouse Summer Camp for Kids and Teens: "Join us this summer in our new Pearl District location as we launch GreenHouse Kids & Teens — age-appropriate explorations of theater and performance. Are you looking for a fun and productive way to stimulate your family’s imagination? Would you like to introduce your talented children to a creative new peer group? Perhaps you’re living with a rising star who could use an entrée into the professional performing arts community through the city’s flagship theater. Whatever your aspirations, GreenHouse has something for you within each of three age groups."

It's Seussical!

February 28, 2007

Everyone loves Dr. Susss. The first week of March will be celebrated by many as Dr. Susss Celebration week, part of the Seussentennial fun. Theodor Geisel's birthday is March 2. In his honor, the National Educational Association has instituted a day to Read Across America. Also to celebrate, our daughter's classroom will "read away the day", coming to school in jammies, bringing loads and loads of books, and read, read, read.

Multnomah County Library has a bunch of stuff planned to celebrate Dr. Seuss. The fun starts tomorrow at a library near you. See this flyer (*pdf) for all Seussical events.

Seuss Storytime: Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with stories!

For preschoolers:
Thursday, March 1, 10:15–11 a.m. @ Midland Library
Thursday, March 1, 11–11:30 a.m. @ Central Library
Tuesday, March 6, 10:15–10:45 a.m. @ Hillsdale Library

For toddlers:
Wednesday, March 7, 10:15–10:45 a.m. @ Hillsdale Library

It's a Seuss-a-thon!: In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, drop by the Belmont Library and be read to by volunteers from neighborhood schools and the community.
Friday, March 2, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. @ Belmont Library

Celebrate Seuss!: National award-winning storyteller Christopher Leebrick shares Dr. Seuss stories as well as delightful multicultural tales. Suitable for ages 5-105!
Friday, March 2, 3–3:45 p.m.@ Northwest Library
Saturday, March 10, 2–2:45 p.m. @Rockwood Library
Thursday, March 29, 2–2:45 p.m.@ Midland Library
Free tickets for seating will be available 30 minutes prior to the program.

Seussational! Crafts! Games! Seussical snacks! Become a Daisy-Head Maisy! Play with your Green Eggs and Ham! Create your own zoo animal!
Saturday, March 3, noon–3 p.m. @ Capitol Hill Library

Discover the Lorax: Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with a reading of The Lorax, and create your own three-dimensional Truffula tree with artist and storyteller Kathy Karbo.
Saturday, March 3, 1–3 p.m. @ Capitol Hill Library
Sunday, March 4, 2–4 p.m. @ Gregory Heights Library
Saturday, April 7, 1–3 p.m. @ St. Johns Library

Registration required; call 503.988.5397.

Dr. Seuss Birthday Party Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with stories, games and more!
Sunday, March 4, 2–4 p.m. @ Fairview-Columbia Library

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!

An antidote to the commercialized, cheesy kids music out there

Oh the wonderful things that our fellow urbanMamas share with us.  And of course, this comes from Shayne Berry.  She writes:

We went the first few years of my daughter's life before stumbling upon this genre of talented, intelligent folks making great music for families.  I feel like it's my motherly duty to share our finds with my fellow UrbanMamas.
Our most recent find is Frances England.  She created her album, Fascinating Creatures, as a fundraiser for her son's co-op preschool in San Fransisco.  It spread like wildfire on the Internet and is now available on Amazon.  Her engaging subjects (tricycles, trains, planting a garden, jazz musicians) blend nicely with her mellow voice and simple instrumentation.  Her melodies are catchy and singable- we adore this record.
Elizabeth Mitchell is another great find.  She was a preschool teacher/indie rock star before making kids' records.  Her most recent, You Are My Little Bird, was put out by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and follows two other fabulous records by her.  Her husband and daughter accompany her on many songs and her records feel as though the listener has been invited into the living room of this cute, musical family.  She has a knack for choosing great old folk songs to cover with her soothing voice and upbeat, simple music. Many a car ride has been calmed with her albums.
Lastly, Dan Zanes has been called the godfather of kids music-with good reason. His hip, lively take on Folk, Americana and World music is so infectious that I find myself even playing these records when my kids aren't around.  Dan and his band are extremely talented and provide family with a stark contrast to all the kids music on the market that has been created with synthesizers and drum machines. He also has a concert DVD that gives even more insight into how much he loves and connects with these songs.  If I had to choose one record to start with, Rocket Ship beach is fabulous but all his albums are must-haves.  They have all inspired countless sing-alongs and impromptu dance parties.  Even my husband gets these songs stuck in his head. 
I think that much of kids' music today has been created to follow a trend or make a buck. The thing that sets these three musicians apart from most is the sense that they started playing these songs for themselves, for their families and friends and it just so happened that other people started listening.
You can hear samples at Amazon.com
There are other artists who follow these same ideas, many were mentioned in a 2006 Family Music Poll:  http://fidsandkamily.blogspot.com/

By the way, Dan Zanes is coming to the Aladdin Theater on April 15th!

Ariel Gore, Hip Mama, in Portland

February 16, 2007

Ariel Gore, publisher.editor of e-zine Hip Mama, will be at the Central Library leading reading and discussions. See her live in action at the Central Library on Saturday, February 17, from 1 PM to 2:30 PM. Event is hosted by Multnomah County Library.

Free kid dance party this Saturday at Powell's

January 30, 2007

Belinda and Hova, hosts of Portland's own "kid rock" radio show, Greasy Kid Stuff, are staging a dance party in the children's book area of Powell's (Burnside) this Saturday to coincide with Neal Pollack's Alternadad appearance. Sure to be a fun hour of booty-shaking with music both kids and parents will love! The dance party will run from 3-4pm, and Neal will be reading afterwards.

You can listen to Greasy Kid Stuff every Saturday morning at 8am on 94/7 Alternative Portland.

Crafty Mama Bazaar This Saturday!

January 25, 2007

There are a lot of Crafty Mamas in PDX and we will be showcasing a handful of them this Saturday, January 27, 11 am - 3 pm at Milagros. Featured artists include:

  • Cynthia Thompson of Zoom Baby Gear
  • Christina Bissell will feature a variety of handmade toys, bibs, burp rags, book bags and more
  • Gretchen Gawlik makes fun, hip, re-designed shirts and onesies.
  • Elizabeth Webber creates greeting cards, gift tags, stationery, bookmarkers, magnets, and other paper art using photographs and vintage images.
  • Angela Flynn helps you make a special keepsake by creating personalized ceramic hand and footprints of your little miracle.

We will also have complimentary organic coffee and tea service for the event. All the sales go directly to the Crafty Mamas, so please come out to the Crafty Mamas Bazaar this Saturday and see what these local mamas have to offer.

Music Classes for Preschoolers

January 03, 2007

Thank you, Susan, for sending in your question:

I’m wondering if you could post a question about music classes for preschoolers.  I enjoyed taking my older son to music classes at the Community Music Center, but now with my three year old, I’m wondering about the other options out there.  The Music Together classes especially intrigue me, however they cost twice as much as the classes at the Community Music Center.  Are they that much better?  Anyone have experience with other places?

Baby Loves Disco coming to Portland

December 13, 2006

I recently got this email due to my Parent Hacks gig, but it's ideal to share here:

once a month beginning in january, portland's legendary crystal ballroom will be transformed into a child proof disco as toddlers, pre-schoolers and parents looking for a break from the routine playground circuit let loose for some post nap-time, pre-dinner fun. make no mistake, this NOT the mickey mouse club, and barney is banned. baby loves disco is an afternoon dance party featuring real music spun and mixed by real DJs blending classic disco tunes from the 70s and 80s guaranteed to get those little booties moving and grooving. the fun spills out from all corners of the club: bubble machines, baskets of instruments, a chill-out room (with tents, books and puzzles), diaper changing stations, a full spread of healthy snacks provided by Wild Oats and dancing, LOTS of dancing (and yes, the bar will be open for mommy and daddy!).

at its core, baby loves disco is a community event that brings kids together with kids and parents and parents together with parents, guaranteed to be the best time you've had at a kids event.....

venue: crystal ballroom - 1332 w. burnside street. 503.225. 0047
tickets: $12 tickets per walking human. buy tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com
time: 2-5pm (feel free to come early or late - 1 hour of baby loves disco is a lot!)
dates: sundays, january 14, february 18th, march 11th.

for more info and to learn all about baby loves disco check out:

Wintergalactic Puppet Show

December 06, 2006

The Wintergalactic Puppet Show comes to planet Portland this December! Bruce Orr of the Mudeye Puppet Company and Penny Walter of Penny's Puppet Productions have joined forces to create an all-ages holiday puppet show with aliens, forest creatures and even a yeti! Join Quarg, a clueless alien with good intentions and Ralph, a streetwise furry rodent on their adventure to Mount Snowball to uncover the secret of a mysterious glowing beacon. Building puppets from all reused materials in an original script, two of Portland's best known puppeteers have collaborated on a unique and colorful puppet show for the young and old. See the write-up in last week's A&E.

Carla writes:

I saw the show this past weekend at Nocturnal. I can't say I'm completely unbiased, as my husband is Bruce of the Mudeye Puppet Company. We have worked together for four years. We go into schools and make puppets out of reused and recycled materials with children. We also do performances and workshops. This is the first show I am not officially a part of, as I am now three months pregnant and we are making a few changes! But I did sew Ralph, one of the main characters!

Saturday December 9th at 10 am and 12 noon
St Johns Community Center
$7 for adults and $5 for children. Group rates available.
Performances are 45 minuets to an hour (Q&A / meet the puppets after the show)

Questions? Contact Bruce Orr at bruce@mudeyepuppets.org or 503 805 0291. Contact Penny Walter at pennywalter@comcast.net or call 503 282 9207.

Crafty Mamas Wanted

December 03, 2006

Calling All Crafty Mamas!

We had a lot of fun hosting Crafty Mama Fairs during the Art of Living in November and the UrbanMamas Bazaar in August.  We are now planning on making the Milagros Crafty Mamas Fair a regular thing beginning on Saturday January 27 from 11 am - 3 pm. After that, we plan on having a mama-made art fair on the fourth Saturday of every month. Our hope is to rotate vendors so there is always something new each month.

If you would like to considered as a vendor, there are a couple of things to keep in mind: 1) You have to make or design the product you are selling (sorry, no resellers) and 2) if you are using any manufactured goods as part of your craft/product (for instance if you are screen-printing on a t-shirt) you MUST be using certified sweatshop-free materials.

We will have five slots a month and we are keeping the table fee as low as we can so that we may provide an opportunity to folks who may not otherwise do this sort of thing. If you are interested in participating, please send us an email at milagros@milagrosboutique.com

Captain Bogg and Salty's Winter Wonder Ballroom Show this Sunday

November 30, 2006

If you're a fan of pirates, or of good kid-friendly rock, or of energy-filled live shows, don your best pair of stripy socks (or other pirate garb) and head over to Captain Bogg and Salty's Winter Wonder Ballroom show this Sunday. We saw Captain Bogg at the Portland Pirate Festival over the summer (I recount the experience here), and have been die-hard fans ever since.

Captain Bogg & Salty’s
Winter Wonder Ballroom Show
Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
1 hour, all-ages show begins at 2 PM.

Children 2 and under: FREE
Age 3 to 12: $5
Age 13 and older: $9

The Wonder Ballroom
128 NE Russell
Portland, OR 97212

Tickets available through Ticketmaster or at the Wonder Ballroom box office.

Movies + Kids Portraits?

November 28, 2006

With the holidays just around the corner, there has been tons of urbanMama conversation on photographers.  Why not go and catch a movie while the kids' photos get snapped?  Thanks, Stephanie, for the tip!

Photographer Rachel Kubik will be at the Academy Theater on December 2nd and 3rd between 11AM and 9PM with a location studio setup to take your children's portraits.  Simply make a reservation for babysitting with the theater.  When you drop your child off sign up for pictures at the registration table,and pay the $15 fee. Then you can go and enjoy a movie while we have fun playing and taking great pictures!  She will put 10-20 shots of each child on a CD and mail them to you right away.  The digital files will be yours to do whatever you like with them. You can purchase additional copies of the CD with a custom designed cover for $10 apiece.  These make great inexpensive, but priceless Christmas gifts! Make your reservations at the theater early to guarantee a space!

Stephanie adds: I've seen some of Rachel's work in person - her portraits decorate the play space at the Academy Theater and they are wonderful. She has additional examples of her portraiture posted on her web site.

Dashboard Shrine

November 02, 2006

One auspicious evening, four mama playwrights gathered in a room to read scenes and share their vision.  Within weeks, The StageSlingers was born, with the mission to create and produce original and brilliant theater.  We approached Brenda at the ever-lovely Tour de Crepes, who agreed to host our shows.  Our inaugural event is this Sunday evening.  Here's the scoop:


Writers, artists, performers, and musicians gather at this Salon de Muertos, spinning surreal tales and fiddling Romanian gypsy dirges in the shadows of a candlelit altar.  Join theater troupe The StageSlingers for an evening evoking dreams, death, and the beyond. The program of suspenseful stories, urban legends, fantasies, and folktales celebrates Day of the Dead and Todos Santos.

Sunday, November 5th at 7pm

Free admission

Tour de Crepes

2921 NE Alberta Street


A couple of women from the UrbanMamas circle will be performing, and we would love to see some urban mamas in attendance! 

RecycledArt: Something New from Something Old

October 23, 2006

It's always nice when we hear about something new and different among the great offerings in Portland.  Better yet, it's something fun, educational, and makes use of one of our favorite themes: "reduce, reuse, recycle".  Yay for Leisha!

RecycledArt offers stimulating, hands-on, educational art and science workshops for kids ages 3-10. Students take common, everyday objects and turn them into something totally out of this world!  They paint, sculpt, draw and build from the inside out while sharing ideas and making new friends.  RecycledArt unites the wonders of science with the creativity of art and we help to make the world a better place to live by learning about renewable energy sources and brainstorming ways to create less trash through reducing, reusing and recycling materials.

Remember tupperware parties?  Well, RecycledArt workshops are offered in a very similar style.  We come to you!  A RecycledArt workshop hostess invites up to 10 children to attend a 1 hour, custom themed activity.  As a workshop hostess, your child attends for FREE!  AND..your child will receive a treasure box filled with found objects that they can later use to explore their creativity!  In addition to workshops, RecycledArt also offers birthday parties!  The cost per artist is $10.

So...while the kids are learning cool science facts and having fun making art, the Mom's get a chance to relax and share a cup of coffee or go for a walk.  RecycledArt also offers pecial packages which include an on-site, chair massage, manicures and pedicures!

For more information on our workshops and packages, send us an email...makerecycledart@yahoo.com or contact Liesha Eberst at 503-901-9324. 

Mother Talk: "What do you do all day"

October 20, 2006

Update:  Hey, everybody. It's less than a week until our next MotherTalk: a chance to get out of the house, gather with interesting women, and share some wine and goodies. Please help spread the word! Invite a friend and get a chance to win Amy Scheibe's book: WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY? If you haven't RSVP'd to the Evite yet, please do; if you haven't received an Evite, email Shari at smacblog [at] gmail [dot] com. It's Wednesday night, October 25, at 7:00 p.m. Hope to see you there. After all, who couldn't use a night out with the girls?

The Mother-Talkin' Mamas are at it again!  The next Mother Talk event is set for October 25th.  Save the date!  Amy Scheibe, author of the hilarious novel "What Do You Do All Day?" wilWhat_do_you_dol be our guest. Amy's novel is a fabulous mix of chick lit with a thread of mystery -- the story of a woman in  the throes of processing her desire to be at home with her children and to have a career.  The novel's heroine, Jennifer Bradley, is a hilarious, sharp-witted feminist and antiquities expert, now at home with her small children.  It's a great read for those looking for a fun novel with thoughtful themes.  Don't miss this opportunity to meet Amy Scheibe, and to get together for wine and treats with other hip Portland mamas!  Send us the address of a friend who wants to be added to the MotherTalk mailing list (with her permission, of course) and we'll put your name in the hat for a drawing to win a free copy of Amy's book!  We hope to see you there.

We've Got Short Shorts!

October 15, 2006

This is a vanity post. It doesn't have a direct relationship to kids, parenting, or what have you, so read on at your own peril...

During Jen's pregnancy (she's due 11/25), I have been at the store more and more. A common query I receive is "so what else do you do?" I usually respond with "a lot" or "too much".  I'm not trying to be evasive, I just don't have a short answer for that question. Basically, although it hasn't been formally accepted as a psychological defect, I am certain that I suffer from a rare condition that should be known as "Career-ADD".

My work experience has run the gambit from musician to filmmaker to rock climbing guide to writer and everything in between. My affliction also makes it nearly impossible for me to work for anyone but myself. Thus I have never held a "real job" for more than two years - much to my father's dismay.

SO! Despite the fun provided and energy required by Milagros (and, yes, I truly LOVE partnering with my dear wife on that venture), my condition still results in me straying into WAY too many other projects.  And this, fearless readers, brings me to the whole point of this post and an explanation for the title...

One of the "other things that I do" is direct the Portland International Short Short Film Festival. This film fest is better know by its distasteful acronym (my apologies to any gentle readers out there). Anyhoo! P*** Fest! showcases films from around the globe that clock in at 10 minutes or less - indeed, my short attention span goes beyond my "career"... wait, I think I see something shiny...

Where was I? Oh yes! If you have a hankering for some super short cinema, and who doesn't?..Run, don't walk, to the historic Hollywood Theatre October 19 - 21 for the 5th Annual P*** Fest! ...and we are doing more this year than just showing films, why should I limit myself?...

All you mommies who drink should join us at the kick-off party at the Jupiter Hotel on October 19. Fearturing Full Sail Beer and a performance by Portland's own sexy/dance/mayhem provocateurs, Fleshtone. The party is FREE with a festival All-Pass or your ticket stub from the first P%%% Fest! show. It's $5 for everyone else - still a bargain...

Any  would-be filmmakers should check-out our panel discussion "How to Support Your Short Film Habit by Getting Paying Gigs on Richer People's Projects" on October 21 in the dreamBOX at the Jupiter Hotel...

And anyone else who suffers from "Career-ADD"...Fear not! I plan on starting a support group soon...it is definitely on my to-do list...somewhere...

Do Re Mi: Seeking Piano Lessons

October 11, 2006

We have a six-year old, who is so SO so interested in playing the piano.  My husband and I both learned when we were little, so for the past couple of years, we teach her little things and songs on our piano at home.  But, there is only so much we can teach!  We have always wanted to steer clear of over-programming our little ones, though, so we have decided to defer the piano lessons.  Until now.  We signed up for a 10-week class at Ethos Music Center called "Kinder Keyboards".  It was a group lesson for kids 5-7.  After two sessions, we realized the class wasn't for us.  The group was unruly and it was a lot of waiting around as the teacher went from child to child.  In the meantime, waiting children didn't know what to do with themselves.

So, I ask: have you had any great experiences with piano lessons, either private or group?  At what age did you start your child's lessons?

See Mama Read

October 07, 2006

Mamas, this sounds like a superb event.  Thank you, Kate, for sending it over!

Multnomah County Library presents "Zinesters Talking".  Come hear three of Portland's mama zine makers read about the trials and delights of birth, parenthood, and more.  Featuring:

Reading: It's a Girl & It's a Boy!

September 09, 2006

Thanks, Shari, for passing on info. We definitely enjoyed previous readings of It's a Girl:

On Tuesday night, September 12, I'll be reading from my essay in IT'S A GIRL: WOMEN WRITERS ON RAISING DAUGHTERS. Also reading that night will be Jennifer Lauck and Marjorie Osterhout, who are also contributors to Andrea Buchanan's IT'S A GIRL and IT'S A BOY anthologies. The reading is at Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, at 7 p.m. on September 12th. Come one, come all, urbanMamas! I'd love to see you there!

Fun for the Whole Swashbuckling Family!

August 29, 2006

Lynx Ahoy mateys! It is not too early to mark your calendars in ink for a pirate festival fit for the whole family. The Portland Pirate Festival brings a cargo-load of music, flair, and fun to scenic Cathedral Park on September 23. Among the many activities, the event will feature performances by Captain Bogg & Salty and other groups, pirate re-enactments, a pirate play village, and - most impressively - a replica of a "privateer ship:"  The Lynx.

Don't be afraid to come in costume!

Free kid movies at Lloyd Mall this summer

June 26, 2006

Every summer, Regal Cinemas puts on a Free Family Film Festival: every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10AM, local Regal theaters show a free G or PG movie. In Portland, that means the theater in lovely Lloyd Mall. So brave the food court and come on down...first come, first served. I'll be at Curious George tomorrow with my kids!

Lloyd Mall 8
2320 Lloyd Center Mall
Portland ,OR 97232

06/27-06/28 Curious George (G), Robots (PG)
07/04-07/05 Jonah: A Veggie Tale Movie (G), Zathura (PG)
07/11-07/12 Doogal (G), Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (PG)
07/18-07/19 Clifford's Really Big Movie (G), Yours, Mine & Ours (PG)
07/25-07/26 Rugrats The Movie (G), Madagascar (PG)
08/01-08/02 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (G), Nanny McPhee (PG)
08/08-08/09 Rugrats In Paris The Movie (G), Hoodwinked (PG)
08/15-08/16 Wallace & Gromit (G), Aquamarine (PG)
08/22-08/23 March Of The Penguins (G), Cheaper By The Dozen (PG)

Clinging to Culture

June 19, 2006

As Mamas (and Papas) it's our job to help our children learn about themselves and the world around them.  I've found that for our family that involves helping immerse Andrew in the cultures that we have come from.  I think some of this is bound to just occur on its own, but we also put some effort into teaching Andrew about his background cultures.

Andrew_dishdashaHere Andrew is doing a little dance as he's recently been bathed and dressed in one of his several dishdashas.  My father, being Middle Eastern, and working mostly in the Middle East, has a line on all things Middle Eastern and is happy to send an endless supply of goodies.  Not only do we have fun Middle Eastern dress for Andrew, but we have fun Middle Eastern music, and several Arabic books that are just right for his age (and I can barely read them but hey, we can learn together, right?).  Andrew's learning his counting in Arabic and knows a few words here and there, but I admit, we don't practice enough around the house.  Andrew has also tasted many middle eastern foods, and likes most of them.  Especially pita bread smeared in hummus.  His true immersion took place during trips to both Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.  As my husband and I were pretty well travelled at Andrew's age, it makes us happy that he can do the same and have those experiences, too.

Other than the Middle Eastern background, we have my mom's side which I call "Texan" and my husband's side is Dutch/German and British.  Lately, due to the many fun filled hours spent with Granny, Andrew's taken to calling tomatoes, bananas, grass, class, and bath by their British pronunciations rather than their American ones.  I don't even notice it anymore, but it catches people offguard sometimes... and always produces a giggle (which I suspect is part of the reason why he's doing it!).  Andrew also quite enjoys traditional German drinking music, played on an accordian of course.  Although, he tends to splash his milk around a bit while waving his milk stein in the air...

Besides teaching Andrew about his heritage, I also take opportunities to talk about other cultures when they arise.  I hope he can learn to appreciate all of the cultures out there, and I hope he can experience many of them throughout his youth.  We're very lucky he has such a rich cultural heritage.  Do you have a fun family cultural story to share?  Or how do you find it best to present your children's heritage to them at a young age?  I know we have a lot of cultures represented by our readers and I'd love to hear how you cling to your cultural heritage...

Rock'n Roll Mamas on Live Wire

June 12, 2006

Filmmaker Jackie Weissman and Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses will be talking about Jackie's documentary, Rock'n Roll Mamas, on the next taping of Live Wire, a live radio show at the Aladdin Theater and broadcast on OPB. What's Live Wire? I'd never heard it myself, but it looks and sounds fascinating: the website describes it as "Fresh Air meets The Partridge Family, but without the bus." (Here's more.) Who could resist? Other guests include esteemed Oregon writer Karen Karbo, more musicians, some haiku, some comedy...and, I'd imagine, a few surprises.

Event details: Friday, June 16, 8pm (doors open at 7pm), Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue. $10 advance (Aladdin box office or Ticketmaster)/$12 at the door

Summer Reading at Multnomah County Libraries

June 06, 2006

This will be our third summer in Portland, and the third summer our girls will participate in Summer Reading Fun at the library.  It's an awesome program, complete with little incentives along the way.  Thank you Katie, Reading Promotions Coordinator at Multnomah County Library, for sending this in:

As a mama myself and the coordinator of the Summer Reading Program at the library, I just wanted to make sure everyone knows about the free and fun programs we have at the library all summer long - great options for preschoolers and school age families.

First, the Summer Reading Program is fabulous! Families can sign up together and track their reading on a fun game board.  As your reader works their way around the "game" they get to come into the library to pick out fun prizes.  This year our prizes are better than ever. Everything from fun, silly things like gooey eyeballs and racecars to free burrito coupons from Chipotle and swim passes to the park pools.  Our grand prize is a trip for a family of four to Disneyland.  It's all free and designed for fun - while also being based on research that shows families who read together start a lifelong trend in their children and that children who are already reading can keep up the skills they've just learned over the school year by the simple act of reading a bit everyday.  We even have extra-extra small shirts for the youngest of reader/listeners!  It's a great tradition to start for your family!

In addition to the game, each library is hosting dozens of free, fun programming like puppet shows, music concerts, craft programs, storytimes and book groups.  Since we live in NE, we use Albina, Hollywood, and Belmont regularly - don't just limit yourself to one branch.  Check out the event page for activities near you!

Motherhood Literary Salon

May 15, 2006

Enjoy a remarkable evening with three remarkable writers who will discuss their latest projects as well as life, mothering, and feminism. Don't miss this opportunity to join in conversation with New York Times best-selling writer Hope Edelman, award-winning novelist Cheryl Strayed, and New York Times best-selling memoirist, Jennifer Lauck.

The evening comes together to honor the release of Hope Edelman's new book, Motherless Mothers, as well as Cheryl Strayed's first novel, Torch: a story about love, loss, grief, and redemption. A great excuse to gather together, sip wine, and share great conversation with other women and mothers.

Tuesday, May 16th, 7PM.  If you leave a comment below, we'll make sure you get the evite with full details!