10 posts categorized "Date Night"

Favorite restaurants with and without kids: Portland 2013

March 18, 2013

Most of my fancy eating out is with kids, and by myself, so I pick restaurants that are indulgent and times when the place isn't packed. When we want to celebrate something, my boys and I invariably go to Pok Pok; it's best between 1 p.m. and 5 on a weekday (usually, our celebrations are right after school). It's always fun to sit among the tourists who have been told that THIS is the place they should come and they MUST eat the fish sauce wings. (Also, they like to gawk at Portland's foodie kids inhaling shrimp chips and drinking vinegars.) When we want to treat ourselves to dinner out, it's Gladstone Street Pizza on a Monday or a Tuesday after the dinner rush if we're splurging, or Little Big Burger if we're on a budget.

My husband's coming home for leave this weekend, and I'm thinking about planning something fancy for a date night sans kids. I read the comments on this thread on Eater PDX and came away thinking Ava Gene's, the new restaurant on 34th and Division (the old Lauro spot) run by Duane Sorenson was the way to go. I've also been wanting to try Aviary, Tasty & Sons, Le Pigeon, and the Woodsman Tavern.

We've gone to the Whiskey Soda Lounge and Olympic Provisions on previous date nights, and loved them. I'm also a big fan of Xico for fancy nights out.

Of course sometimes I look at the menus and think, "pork chop with mushrooms and stewed beans, $30, I could make that for the whole family for that price!" and I wish I'd just eaten at home. Which places are your favorites for going out with and without the kids right now? Which blow your mind with their innovative cuisine? Which would you have skipped and made your own at home?

Friday Family Movie Night: How to Train Your Dragon, Movies in the Parks

July 15, 2011

Are you a Netflix subscriber? If you're like just about every urbanMama or dad I know, you probably are, and you may be shaking your fist in the general direction of Netflix headquarters thanks to the price changes (you say "increase," they say "lowest prices ever") announced this week. When I wrote a post about it for WalletPop, after "library" the first great free alternative that sprung to mind was the ultimate big-screen, close-to-home experience: Movies in the Park. No: it's not streaming over your internet, it's not something you can pause while you answer the phone. But as a family entertainment experience, a Friday Family Movie Night like no other, it's as good as it gets.

Portland Parks scatters its free movie nights around the city and lets neighborhood boards weigh in on the movie selection. There is something for everyone; vintage Oregon favorites like The Goonies (Sellwood Park, Sunday, July 31); brand new movies like Karate Kid (the one with Will Smith's kid, Knott Park, Saturday, July 16); adult recent releases that may have been on your own Netflix queue, like The King's Speech (Laurelhurst Park, Friday, July 29) and The Social Network (Laurelhurst Park, Saturday, August 27). There is the climbing wall for the afternoon preceding most showings, often free popcorn or other goodies, and local bands. With Tangled (Glenfair Park, Tuesday, August 2; Hazeltine Park, Sunday, August 14), a hair styling and braiding competition. I've only been to a few of these showings over the past few years, but everyone who's gone to one agrees: it's like a block party or a truly old-fashioned drive-in movie theatre, where families show up with wagons and picnic baskets and blankets to share with young singles and older couples, babies fall asleep on their fathers' shoulders and get walked home while their mother and siblings watch the end of the show. It's as Norman Rockwell as you can get, with a big screen movie.

How to Train Your Dragon is showing several times this summer, and as it's a movie my family saw and loved, I'll review it with this column, too. (And oh yes: How to Train Your Dragon is not available streaming on Netflix, for the record.)

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: How to Train Your Dragon, Movies in the Parks" »

What's your favorite date night?

June 10, 2011

Let's say that you have a sitter.  And, absolutely no plans but to want to hang out with your partner. Maybe you can choose do wo whatever you want.  What would you do?  Dinner & a movie?  A long walk?  Window shopping somewhere?  Drinks at a bar?  A show or theater?  Live music?  I'm sure we all have different interests, but I would love the inspiration of your favorite/dream date night ideas.

Solo parenting: Squandering child care

April 13, 2011

On Sunday, I arranged for my sister to come watch the boys as I rode up to the prettiest and hilliest part of NW Portland for an interview for a job writing a book. I was breathing hard as I locked my bike, and the interviewer met me there. By 15 minutes into the chat I had so little hope of getting the position that I almost stopped worrying about it; it was one of those situations where, despite the likeability of the people on the other side of the table and our obvious shared interests, I knew we just didn't mesh.

When I got the email message on Tuesday -- I hadn't gotten the gig -- I wasn't upset about anything but this: I'd squandered my child care! With my sister pregnant and in possession of a day job, we have our regular Tuesday/Thursday gigs (errands and writing group) and sometimes one other day. I'd used up my share and knew it would be too much to ask her to babysit Wednesday... when I had rare dinner plans with the other urbanMamas. Emails and phone calls to my regular backup caregivers were fruitless.

In the end, I was happy how the situation had turned out; the gig would have been a lot of work for a payoff that wasn't quite enough to give up some other opportunities (and not enough to afford a new regular caregiver). Except I felt so cheated that I'd "used up" my small tender of loving care for my children. As a solo parent while my husband is in Kuwait for the Army, this is one of the most valuable resources I have, and I'd thrown it away!

I'm wondering if other parents who spend lots of their time solo, whether for a travelling spouse, an absent partner, or a very busy one -- or who are doing the job on their own full-time -- feel similarly. How do you use your precious commodity? How badly do you mourn when you've wasted it? Do you, too, feel as if you have to pack a million things into those few hours each week?

Dating as a Single Mama: Do you involve the kids?

June 25, 2009

Single mamahood has its unique challenges, one of which involves how much (if at all) to involve our young ones.  An urbanMama recently emailed:

I have been a single mother since before my daughter was born, so I have been raising her 24/7/365. She has always had men in her life, one especially who is a father-like figure, and has been an on-and-off partner over the years. Currently, we are just very close friends. But recently, I have met someone and I think that it could lead to some sort of ongoing relationship (I’m not counting my eggs before they hatch…) and I am wondering about how to deal with this with my almost-4 year old. She has been included in several get-togethers over the past couple of weeks, and seems to be handling it ok, but she may not be aware that we are anything more than just new friends. I have single mom friends who date, and everyone seems to handle it differently. Some keep their parenting lives and their dating lives completely separate, which I imagine would be easier for those who share custody and have some time to themselves without having to find a babysitter each time. Others include their kids in the relationship from the beginning. Some concerns I have are how this new friendship will affect my daughter’s relationship with our close male friend, and also how it will affect her if he becomes part of our lives, and then the relationship ends at some point (as many relationships do….). I am feeling all sorts of guilt related to my daughter and my relationships and I don’t want to stress her out too much. But I definitely want to see where this new friendship is going to lead, because Mama is definitely having some fun!  Can anyone give me some guidance from their personal experience with dating as a single mom?

Happy Hour is for Mamas & Papas too

May 09, 2008

There are a fair number of us urbanMamas who like to have a glass of wine at the end of nutty days.  We received a recent email from a mama who wants to get out and enjoy deals on drinks and nibbles:

We have a tiny baby, only 5 weeks old, and she's very easy to take places right now (for the most part, with the occasional meltdown of course).  But pre-baby one of our favorite things to do was happy hour.  I am looking for places that we can go just after my husband gets off work at 5 and just get a drink, maybe a cheap happy hour snack.  Honestly, mainly a drink.  We keep hitting up the Laurelwood but I know there must be other places that we can go have a beer or two with no pressure to buy dinner.  On the east side is a plus.  Any ideas?  Thanks!

Where is your favorite happy hour spot in town that allows minors?

Valentine's Day Suggestions

January 29, 2008

It has been 2 years since we talked Valentine.  The holiday is coming up again, and -- if an urbanPapa asked for ideas to celebrate with his beloved -- what would you suggest?  An urbanPapa emails:

I have known my lovely, wonderful wife for almost ten years, this means ten years of birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries, and...wait for it....Valentine's Day. Over the years, I have tried to stay away from more routine ideas on these days - giving flowers and chocolates for instance. Coming up with new and unique ways to show my adoration was pretty easy in the early years, became harder once children arrived on the scene, and now I find myself a little tapped out on ideas. So please help me urbanMamas! I need some creative ideas for celebrating Valentine's Day.

C'mon urbanMamas, help an urbanPapa out....

Seeking Baby-Friendly Restaurants

November 12, 2007

Mamas, where have you gone with the little itty-bitty baby to enjoy dinner out?  Liz emails:

I have an 11 week old and the husband and I are trying to take advantage of this time when she is still portable to eat out – what are some baby friendly restaurants around town? We have been to Screen Door a few times and since it is very noisy in there, no one ever seems to notice if she cries – BUT no changing table in the bathrooms so I improvised and changed her on the benches outside. Any other favorites for urbanMamas that get sick of being cooped up in the house?

Discipline and the co-parent: When do you discuss?

October 08, 2007

Discussion_monroe I just came upstairs from our family living room, seething at the way my husband had just asked Everett to do something. The something was fine, it was the communication. I have a better way! I wanted to shout. But our house is small, and we've been working on keeping our arguments away from the children. Now I'm fidgety and anxious, waiting to tell him how I wish he'd handled the situation.

But when is a good time to hammer out this discipline stuff? I know there won't be time tonight between finishing work, dinner, bedtime, nursing, me falling exhausted into bed. We famously once spent a couple of hours of our "date night" heatedly discussing how whose method was wronger at a hotspot, only stopping when another patron asked us to. We were creating a negative vibe in the whole restaurant, he said! (We apologized and ended up becoming friends.) Besides, date nights or even couples counselling appointments are far too few and far between to save up all the little things.

When sleep deprivation is setting in (what with a little baby and a full-time job), how do you carve out time to get to some common ground with the little issues of co-parenting? How do you negotiate these disagreements without causing a rift in your family fabric?

Bonneville Hot Springs vs. Skamania Lodge

June 21, 2007

Betsy has a planning a getaway, and wants you to weigh in on your thoughts about an overnight destination sans kids.  She asks:

I can't think of a better forum to help me with this 'nice to have' problem... We have a trusted friend babysitting OVERNIGHT for us in July.  This will be our first night away in 3.5 years and two kids.  We want to have a quick getaway and our thoughts turn to Skamania Lodge or Bonneville Hot Springs.  The web reviews are so varied on the two places that it has scared me out of making a decision.  Our requirements are low travel time, nice room, golf nearby (urbanpapa), spa (urbanmama), TV in the room, reasonably good food, and not too noisy.  Where would you go for ONE night?  Or do you have another idea?  Thanks for your help.