117 posts categorized "Education & Learning"

Sensory Integration Disorder - Questions!

February 06, 2007

Keith posted a comment recently seeking recommendations from the urbanMamas community:

My wife and I (can I be an UrbanPapa?) (urbanMamas note: Keith, of course you are an urbanPapa!) have a 5 year old with SID, and are trying to navigate the process. Throughout, it can be very intense and we worry about getting the right supports for our son, we fret over the intensity of what we have to manage . . . we just want to get it right, and help him be happy.

He is in a Montessori school that has been a good fit for him, and since his referral from the ESD he is in program at Grout for kids with special needs. They're serving him for adaptive and social/emotional delays there.

We're doing OT at Therapy Solutions now for his SID. We have been happy there and are looking forward to working with Barbara Avila who does RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) training for parents. Challenge is that it's not covered by our insurance, and costly.

Questions:

  1. Who is doing the best OT work for SID locally? Is there anyone who is an expert, as opposed to "Yeah, we do 'some of that'"?
  2. Does anyone have any strategies to manage uber-tantrums? We feel our son's tantrums are anxiety driven, and when he goes there, he screams uncontrollably, kicks, hits, etc. Very little seems to work, short of restraining him, and just re-assuring him that we love him, we're there for him, etc. It's emotionally exhausting for all of us (including, we suspect, his 3 year old brother). Help. Any ideas?
  3. Has anyone done any RDI work and found it helpful for SID?
  4. Is there any support group going out there? We live in SE, Mt Tabor area.

Celebrate! Portland Public Schools

February 02, 2007

The season of school info, selection and such is in FULL swing. Most schools are having informational events as well as providing opportunities to tour classrooms. Check with individual schools to find out what on-campus events they may have planned - including what events may be REQUIRED if you are considering a charter school.

THE BIG EVENT where you can get an overview on the myriad of educational choices at every Portland Public School is this Saturday, February 3 from 10:00 am to 3:00pm at the Portland Expo Center: “Celebrate! Portland Public Schools.”

A lot of fun activities are planned for the day in addition to learning about individual schools and the mechanics of the enrollment process. You can find out more info by calling 503-916-3304 or checking the website.

Infant/Toddler Sign Workshop

January 21, 2007

Thanks Leslie for passing on this info. We're sure many other urbanFamilies will be interested:

Due to loads of requests from local parents, LilyToad is teaming up with the Portland Early Learning Program to offer an infant/toddler sign and language development workshop on Sunday, Feb. 4 from 4-6 pm. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. $45 per couple includes 2 hour workshop and a highly acclaimed infant sign book. You can register either at LilyToad or on-line at here.

Daycare to Preschool in One Spot?

January 18, 2007

Our son Anders turned 2 in November, and we've thought all along that we'd put him into a pre-school program in the fall. It seems like a good age for him, and based on what our nanny says and how much he loves playing with other kids now, I think he'd enjoy the transition to a larger, more structured environment. However, we've just started sharing the news that we'll be having another baby in August...while we're thrilled about the addition to the family, I'm worried about making the transition to preschool a smooth one for Anders. I dont want him making a negative connection between the baby and going to school. (I expect him to make plenty of negative connections because of the baby, so hopefully I can avoid this one?!) :)

So, more recently, we've been thinking about trying to get him into a program sometime this summer so that he can get through that transition and (hopefully) be excited about it before the baby comes. From reading previous posts about daycare options and preschools, lots of things come to mind about the timing of my ideal situation...Which brings me to my question...What are my chances of getting him into a preschool starting in May or June? Or should I be looking at a center such as Growing Seeds that offers daycare as well as preschool with the intention that he could do daycare in the summer and start preschool in the fall? Any suggestions on centers (preferably in N/NE) that offer both a daycare and preschool situation? Or, any great N/NE preschools that could take him at 2.5 in May or June? I know that many preschools run on a typical September to May school year, but I wonder if any offer summer programs too? I figure I'm not the only mama around who's had to think through timing like this and come up with a strategy...any suggestions?

Getting Ready for Auctions

January 15, 2007

Auction season is right around the corner, and many of us will be involved in organizing, procuring, and advertising. Auctions are employed by our schools small and large, private and public, preschool and elementary. Not only is it a great way to raise funds for a school, it's also usually a fun way to socialize with teachers, administrators, and parents of the school community. Shane is working on organizing classroom projects for auction at the event:

We are getting ready for our annual auction fundraiser at my daughter's school. Does anyone have any ideas for classroom projects that worked well?

Montessori Schools in Portland

January 14, 2007

Even though the new year is still so new, it's time to start thinking about the options for the fall. Lydia is gettiing a head start and researching Montessori preschools:

I'd like to ask other urbanMamas about the Montessori schools in Portland. My daughter will turn three during the 07/08 school year, so I'm researching now and getting ready to apply by the end of next month. We live in the Mt Tabor area - so far we've visited the Franciscan Earth School and Harmony Montessori and had good impressions of them both. I'm particularly interested to hear from any mamas who are NOT happy with the schools their children attend, and why.

Another eastside Montessori School is Providence Montessori.

On the westside, there is Childpeace Montessori, Odyssey Montessori, West Hills School, Two Rivers, Child's View.

We welcome your feedback, if you'd had experiences with these schools.

Love & Logic Workshop

January 09, 2007

The workshop last September experienced a great response, and it's back again.  The session will include a brief overview of Love and Logic (focusing on the 0-5 age group) with lots of time to walk through specific scenarios.  The session hopes to help take the ideas from the Love and Logic books and learning how to really put them into practice in day-to-day situations with kids.  Here are details:

Love & Logic Workshop
Thursday, January 18
6:30 to 8:00 PM
held at Growing Seeds North, 6501 NE MLK

  • Presenter: Tracey Johnson, LCSW
  • Cost: $15 person or $20 a couple
  • No child care will be provided/a parents only event
  • Please RSVP to Amy at Growing Seeds at amy@growingseeds.net by Friday Jan 12th
  • 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 Talk - did you buy?

    January 02, 2007

    As a follow up to a previous post on Dunstan baby language videos, has anyone actually purchased them?  Jillian is wondering:

    I was wondering if any urbanMamas have purchased and watched the Dunstan Baby Language DVD as seen on Oprah)...?  I remain curious about it, but before I spend $60 I'd love to see if others out there believe it's worth the money.

    Planning for Kindergarten

    December 11, 2006

    Sometimes it seems like the Kindergarten cut-off is a bit arbitrary.  September is a common month, with a least 20 states using a day in September as the cut-off.  We found a partial list different states' cut-off dates here.  There are reasons to wait, and there are reasons to try to see if your child should enter kindergarten with the rest of his/her friends.  Jessica wonders:

    My son is a September baby and so misses the public school kindergarten cut-off date. That means that all his pre-school friends will be going on to kindergarten without him. It’s not that I think he’s some kind of crazy genius, but I do think he’s ready to go on to kindergarten – he’s got great social skills, which is probably the most important thing. On the other hand I don’t want to push him, but I also don’t relish the thought of another year of the same class.

    It seems crazy to have to think about this so far in advance, but I guess the testing would need to get done soon. So.  Anybody got suggestions?  Anybody gone through the testing the school district requires for early admission?

    Time out for Teachers

    November 29, 2006

    urbanMamas, we got wind of a great idea and offer.  The 5th Avenue Suites offers a very special package called "Time Out for Teachers".  It's $89 for a Deluxe Room and $99 for a one-bedroom suite.  The day of luxury includes complimentary valet parking, an evening wine reception, and coffee & tea service in the morning.  It sounds like a wonderful treat for all the teachers that do hard work educating our children.  The special runs now through January 8, 2007; from March 16 to April 9; and from May 25 to 29.  Sounds like it could be a great group gift for the teachers in your lives!

    If you or a friend or if any of your children's teachers/care providers would be interested, please feel free to pass this on them.

    Return to Audubon

    November 26, 2006

    We have a house full of people waiting for a baby to be born, which is a little stressful. So when the sun made a special guest appearance yesterday, my Pop and I took off for a hike. Not wanting to be too far from the house, we went stomping on the Wildwood Trail.

    During that trek, we took a break at the Audubon Society of Portland and I spent every minute there mumbling to myself..."Why has it been a year since I brought Mila here?" Not only are there plenty of kid-friendly trails, you can view birds that have been rescued by the Society.  This menagerie includes Julio the Great Horned Owl and Finnegan the Peregrine Falcon. You will also find a natural history display and The Nature Store.

    The Nature Store has plenty of educational and whimsical items for young and old alike. PLUS you can save $10 off your purchase of $30 or more if you have a CHINOOK BOOK!  To top it all off the Society has guided hikes, kid camps, and other educational activities all year round - including a performance by children’s musician David Hall on December 9 at 1:30 pm.

    One of my New Year resolutions will be to get my family there more often (this joins Tryon Creek State Park  on an always expanding list), I hope to see you there:

    Audubon Society of Portland
    5151 NW Cornell Road, Portland OR 97210
    Off-street Parking on site

    *Another option is to park at Macleay Park and hike the Lower Macleay Trail to the Wildwood Trail (the junction is at the Stone House, continue straight at that point - don't go up the hill). The trail stays level as it follows Balch Creek and briefly heads uphill before reaching a parking lot. Head west 1/10 mile from the parking lot to the Audubon Center. This scenic hike is approximately 1 1/2 miles each way and is definitely kid-friendly.

    Connected Parenting Series

    November 25, 2006

    Zenana Spa and Wellness Center is offering a Connected Parenting Series.  Here are the details:

    A 6 week Class and Discussion/Practice Group series. A new session starts January 10th - register now to reserve a spot - childcare fills quickly!

    Cost: $120 per person, $160 per couple, plus $45 for childcare for one child, $65 for two in the same family for 6 week session. SLIDING SCALE available - contact Lyla@zenana-spa.com.

    Meets once per week for 1.25 hours per week. This group is focused on the primacy of connection in parenting children of all ages and on parenting without punishments or rewards. Look deeply past difficult behaviors to discover the underlying needs of our children (and ourselves), and begin to use concrete tools to respond effectively to parenting challenges. Incorporates concepts from the work of Alfie Kohn, Lawrence J. Cohen, Dr. Gordon Nuefeld, and Mary Sheedy Kurchinka as well as the professional and personal experience of Lyla and Emily.

    Facilitated by: Lyla Wolfenstein, B.S., IBCLC, RLC - Parent Educator, Lactation Consultant and Mother of 2; and Emily Troper, ECE - Early Childhood Educator and Mother of 4
    Schedule: Wednesdays from 10am - 11:15am

    Baby Talk

    November 15, 2006

    Did anyone see the Oprah show earlier this week about the woman who has "unlocked the secret language of babies"? An Austrailian woman named Priscilla Dunstan has studied the cries and sounds of over 1000 babies and is now working with a team at Brown University to further study the sounds that babies make prior to crying. She's deducted that all babies say five words to communicate what they are needing..."neh", "owh", "heh", "eair" and "eh"... I gotta say, it was pretty fascinating! Conveniently, she has a DVD coming out at the end of the month that will teach parents and parents to be the sounds and how to listen for them with your own baby. We had a fussy one, and I do think I would have shelled out the cash for another tool that could possibly have helped us during those first few months of fussiness. Go to oprah.com or dunstanbaby.com for more information if you're curious. Was anyone else as intrigued as me by this story? Would you buy the DVD for yourself or a baby shower?

    Tapestry of Tales Festival

    November 07, 2006

    We failed to share this information before the festival kicked off last weekend.  No fear, there is still plenty more storytelling this weekend!  This is the seventh year of this family storytelling festival, hosted by Multnomah County Library:

    Children learn some of their most important reading lessons at the dinner table. These rich opportunities help children develop and practice their oral-language skills in interesting ways. They also acquire new vocabulary as adults around the table use more sophisticated and unusual words to communicate images and information about other times and places. 

    This year in addition to the many public performances, the festival's outreach programs will bring stories to over 5000 elementary and middle school students throughout the county. There will also be a workshop to help county SUN School program coordinators learn to incorporate stories and storytelling into their after-school programs.

    Check out the calendar for upcoming festival events now through November 18.  Also check out "other storytelling events" for upcoming storytelling (Tuesday Nov 7, Saturday Nov 11, Sunday Nov 12).

    Powell's Raises the Bar

    November 05, 2006

    Powell's Books, independent bookstore extroirdinaire, wants to give 50,000 books to Beaverton and Portland public schools.  You can buy a $5.95 "book pledge" when you go into Powell's, and each one is good for a book for the schools.  The School Book Challenge will run from November 11, 2006 to January 1, 2007.  For each book pledge purchased, Powell's will give another TEN books to the schools.  Buy your book pleades now!

    Read the full press release.

    Sensory Integration Disorder: Support

    November 01, 2006

    Here's a question that arose from the original post Finding Preschools, Part 31 - Sensory Integration Disorder. Kirsten writes:

    Does anyone know of any parent support groups for SID? Or a kindergarten option for a school which would be good for kids with SID? We are new to Portland, from Wisonsin, and are not very familiar with any elementary schools.

    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?

    Portland Public Schools Local Option Levy 26-84

    Pdxschools You've probably seen the yard signs around Portland, but what does it really mean?  Mama Picture This sent us some factoids so we can spread the word on this measure for the upcoming election.  For more information, visit:  http://www.hope4schools.org/ .

    Why do Portland Schools need a local option levy?  The Portland Public Schools Local Option Levy will pay for 380 teaching positions (including some in every school) and for updated curriculum and materials. These teaching positions will help to prevent overcrowded classrooms and will allow teachers to spend more time with students who need individual assistance. The levy will also provide up-to-date textbooks, workbooks, and teaching materials as well as vocational and technical classes that provide skills that prepare students for the workplace.

    What happened to the previously approved local option levy? Portland voters approved a local option levy for schools in 2000 but it expired last year.

    Continue reading "Portland Public Schools Local Option Levy 26-84" »

    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:

    Money Honey

    October 06, 2006

    For sure money talks.  What age is the right time to start learning?  How should allowances work, if at all?  Thanks for your email Sadie Rose:
    How do we do it??  What is the best way to teach our little ones how to spend, save, earn, value?  Sometimes we can't just rely on example (wink, wink).  But really, I am dying to hear how other uMs and uFams teach their children the best way to handle this thing called money.

    Growing Seeds Parenting Series

    September 21, 2006

    A new parenting series is taking place at the Hollywood location of Growing Seeds. I went to the first class which focused on the Love & Logic philosophy of caregiving. I found it helpful to hear other people talking about issues they face with their kids and new ways of approaching the challenging parenting situations I face with my son every day. I'll be at the training next week and hope to see some of you there. Here's the flyer:

    Would you like more ideas for helping your child with…
    · Name calling
    · Physical aggression
    · Hurt feelings
    · Standing up for themselves in a positive way without needing an adult’s help
    · Sibling fighting/relationships
    If so, please join us for a training on….

    Bullies and Victims:
    How to help your child be neither

    WHEN: Thursday September 28, 6:30-7:30
    WHERE: Growing Seeds Hollywood
    DETAILS:
    · Presenter: Tracey Johnson, LCSW
    · Cost: $15 person or $20 a couple
    · No child care will be provided
    · Please RSVP to Amy at Growing Seeds amy@growingseeds.net

    Crafty Sundays at Contemporary Crafts Museum

    September 20, 2006

    Yet another great suggestion from an urbanMama, Sharai:

    Hi Urbanmamas! I was searching online for arts & crafts experiences for my 6 year old son, and discovered the Contemporary Crafts Museum, which I've always meant to visit. Looks like they have a cool (and free) Family Discovery Sundays program once a month (next one is THIS Sunday), and also kids day camps on school holidays (camps are fee-based).  Admission to the Museum is always free.

    November Elections

    September 18, 2006

    This site usually stays away from politics, which is fine.  Some may think these types of discussions aren't relevant to mama-ing or are too divisive.  It's my opinion that while political discussions are divisive, even in liberal Portland, they need to be had...everywhere.   In addition, I couldn't disagree more with the idea that today's politics don't affect our kids.

    My first goal is to inspire even more discussion among yourselves, your families, your friends, your friends families (lofty goals!) about how today's issues reflect your values.

    My second goal is to make sure that we (family & friends ALL over the country) are all registered to vote in November.   This is a precarious time in history and for our kids sake, we need to think carefully and honestly about our role in delivering them the type of world that they deserve. 

    The first step is insuring your voice is heard by electing officials that reflect your values.

    For voter registration info go to: http://www.rockthevote.com/2006-voter-registration-deadlines.php

    How to combat 'junk culture'?

    September 14, 2006

    There was a recent article in the UK telegraph, Junk Culture 'is poisoning our children'. It revolves around a letter written by a group of child development professionals who claim that modern life leads to more depression among children.

    Says Mardi:

    It is a topic I've been thinking about, now I have a baby and I'm looking around at the world he'll grow up in. What do other mamas with older kids think about this newspaper article? Is anyone taking steps over limiting computers or tv and the like in their household? Having lived overseas for much of my life, the marketing machine in the US is particularly insidious in its reach over children I think.

    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!

    Richmond Elementary School: Spring Festival, Sat 4/22

    April 18, 2006

    Thanks, Alison, for the heads up!

    If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids this Saturday head on over to Richmond Elementary School in SE. They are hosting their Spring festival which will have a ton of activities for individuals of all ages. The aim is to have it resemble a Japanese spring festival with activity booths, yummy foods and entertainment. For more information check out their website.

    It is April 22, 2006 at 11am-5pm.
    Richmond is located at 2276 SE 41st Ave.

    'Sesame Beginnings': What do you think?

    April 07, 2006

    I caught a bit of NPR's Talk of the Nation last Monday, "'Sesame Beginnings' Target Baby TV Viewers."  The show featured the VP of education and research for Sesame Workshop.  She said that the Kaiser Family Foundation studied the effects on media on children ages zero to six (I very much dislike using the term "age zero", but whatever.  The study *pdf here.) and the study showed that babies ages "zero" to two were watching programming like Sesame Street, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Guidelines recommend no screen time for children under 2.  Sesame Workshop, bright folks they are, said, "Well, wait a minute.  Sesame Street is made for preschoolers, not for infants.  Let's come up with something more age-appropriate for the babies!"  Sesame Beginnings was born.  On the show, the VP from Sesame Workshop kept emphasizing that the dvd was created for families, with babies younger than 24 months old.

    Critics say that some studies show slow language and cognitive development when babies under 2 are exposed to media.  I'm aware of the AAP media guideline (no screen time for under 2 set), but I'll admit we've done it both ways.  One of our daughters watched a whole lot of stuff from age 6 months or so.  I'm not too worried about her congitive development, as she's under 6 and doing stuff like reading, multiplying, and crocheting.  Our other daughter watches very little of anything at she's 2-1/2.  Whatever.  "On Demand" Sesame Street is pretty spiffy when they're wound up and I need to get something on the stove.

    All in all, I just feel a bit betrayed by Sesame Workshop.  I feel like Baby Einstein (now owned by Disney) can take care of all the baby-targeted video stuff.  One of our girls loved the first of the Baby Einsteins.  The animated Disney stuff, however, she didn't care for.  Sesame Workshop produces Sesame Street, for my preschooler.  Not baby-programming.  It just seems a little much, like they want to get a piece of the disney Baby Einstein market.

    I'm curious to hear what you think.  Do you think you'll buy a Sesame Beginnings dvd?  Do you think you'll boycott?  Also, more conversation about Sesame Beginnings at Blogging Baby: Experts Slam new Sesame Street DVD for the under 2 set.

    (Btw, Kirsten, was that you who called in?!  In support of programming for the younger set and sharing your experience of teaching your little one to sign through use of video?  Fun to hear an urbanMama on the air!)

    Summer is right around the corner, Part 4

    March 30, 2006

    Ok, so I'm not so good at consolidating all of these summer camps. Thanks, Kat, for the reminder about Rowanberry School's summer program:

    Rowanberry School Summer Art Camp offers two sessions, each 3 weeks long, T-W-Th, from 9AM to 1PM. The first session runs July 11 to 27; the second session runs August 1 to 17th. Cost per session is $325. The first session focuses on painting techniques with watercolor, acryllics, and tempera. The second session focuses on clay sculpting. Teacher/owner Angela says the camps will have "a focused art component each day, but it is really 'low key', plenty of time to play in the treehouse or garden, run through the sprinklers, make lemonade, you know, all the essentials of summer!"

    Summer is right around the corner, Part 3

    Thank you, Blair, for your comprehensive list of suggestions on summer camps!  Without further ado, here are some additional suggestions for summer program offerings:

    Camp Vida (*pdf)at Providence Montessori, 4911 NE Couch St, 503-215-2409.  The *pdf links to the 2005 program; they're still working on the 2006 program.  I called and the program should be about the same.  It looks like it starts 6/19, runs 5 2-week sessions each with different themes.  Cost is about $95 per wk for half day / $195 per week for full day, and there are before- and after-care options for more money.

    Franciscan Montessori Earth School, 14750 SE Clinton, 503-760-8220.  I spoke to someone yesterday and they're mailing a brochure for the summer program. Schoolita Alegria, 1814 NE 33rd, 503-288-5574.  They offer Bilingual School Summer Camp Fun, 6/26-8/10, Ages 3-8, includes Spanish, Art, Movement, Small Class Size.

    Harmony Montessori, 1740 SE 139th, 503-255-5337.  The 2005 Summer Camp info can be found here.  I spoke to the director yesterday, she's super nice, and she's working on the brochure right now.  She said it will run from the last week of June through August, a 7-week program.  There are 3, 4, and 5 day options and it runs from 9am -3pm.  Ages 3-6.

    Sunnyside Montessori House of Children, SE 122nd in Happy Valley, 503-698-4203.  Summer Daycare open from 6:30 am to 6 pm, M-F from the beginning of July to the end of August.  Full day, includes lunch & 2 snacks, $450/month. Half day, includes lunch & 1 snack, $350/month. Daily rate, includes lunch & 2 snacks, $27/day. Hourly rate, $4/hour.  I got this info in December so it may need to be updated.  The school serves kids 3-6, potty trained, so I assume the summer camp does too.

    International School, Language Immersion Summer Camp, ages 3 - 5th grade, Downtown, 503-226-2496.  There are four sessions, each 2 weeks, from June 19 to August 11. Themes are: Solar System, Forest Life, Planet Earth, and Exploring the Ocean. For older kids there are OMSI workshops with additional themes, trips to the zoo and to Waterfront Park, swimming at RiverPlace Athletic Club.  Half day sessions (2 weeks) are $300, full day $400 and daycare is available until 6pm.  Snacks are provided, but you must provide lunch.

    Willowbrook Outdoor Summer Arts Program, 503-691-6132.  The program looks like a big, true summer camp, at a park in Tualatin, but it also accepts children as young as 3 year olds.  Looks interesting.  The sessions run from June 26 to August 4, M-F, 9am-3:15pm. Drama & Theater, Music, Dance, Arts, Crafts, Nature, Writing, World Arts, Ceramics, Basketry, Weaving, Photography.  Attend weekly or daily, full or half day, aftercare is available.

    Summer is right around the corner, Part 2

    (A follow-up to the previous post on campsSummer is right around the corner)...  I came across two other fullish-day summer programs that sounded neat.  And, please email other suggestions!

    Summer Academy at the Emerson School: There are weekly sessions (running M-F, 9AM-3PM, $200 per session) in multi-age groups.  The programs, conducted by licensed school teachers, sound awesome: "Math in the City" for K-5th graders; "Metro Mapping" for K-5th graders; "Portland Poetry Workshop" for K-5th graders; "Summer City Treasure Hunt" for 2nd-5th graders; "Creative Writing Workshop" for K-5th graders.  Sounds awesome!

    Growing Seeds North, Summer School-Age Program:  The program will serve children aged 6 to 10 years old, and there will be one classroom of 15 children each session.  Program runs from 7AM to 6PM, and there will be a two-week long session focus areas.  The five sessions for the summer are: Claude Monet, M.C. Escher, Pointillism, Pablo Picasso, Photography & Sculpture.  Cost is $150 per week and you can choose weeks from June 19 to Sept 1.  More info at 503.288.1171.

    Summer is right around the corner, Part 1

    March 09, 2006

    So, I know we just had snow today, but I'm still thinking about the summer, which is just three months away! Our biggest girl is 5-1/2 this summer, and I am hoping that she'll have more summer options than before. Here's our list with some highlights (she's not going to all, but these are just a 'few' of the things we're thinking about):

    Ethos Music Camp: For five (non-consecutive) weeks through the summer, from late June to the end of August, Ethos offers a variety of music camps focusing on guitar, percussion, piano, strings, and even hip-hop and rock band ensembles. Cost is $195 per week, from 9-5 daily, grades K-12. Ethos is a well-respected music school with several community programs for school-aged children. Each child can enroll for a maximum of 2 sessions per summer.

    Grace Art Institute Camps: Last year, it was India. This year, it's Greece. This summer Grace Art Institute summer camp will explore the fascinating and historical Greek culture. Cultural folktales are the heart of each week's curriculum and campers choose to immerse themselves in a variety of performing and visual arts, including dance & music, drama, glass art, ceramics & sculpture, fibre arts, visual arts, book arts. Cost is $205 per session, from 9-3 daily with a Friday art celebration, ages 4-12. (Before & After care can be arranged.)

    smARTworks / PNCA: for 1st graders to middle school, this year's focus is storytelling. Cost is $235 per week and camp runs 8-5pm.

    Children's Museum summer camps: These are among the pricier ones, but I thought I'd still put it out there. Camp runs 8:30 to 2:30 ($200) with aftercare available ($90). Still, there is art, drama, activities, games, crafts.

    Audobon Society: "Audubon Summer Camps inspire children to love and protect nature, in the very best way, by exploring, learning, and having fun." Camps run for ten weeks throughout the summer. Half-day (9-1) sessions for first graders, and full-day sessions for 2nd graders and older. I can't find the cost in an obvious place online, so let me know if you find it!

    Oregon Zoo Summer Camps: Use interactive activities, crafts, zoo exploration to learn more about the animals. All camps include guided zoo tours, animal visits in the classrooms, Discover Birds show, visits to the family farm and pygmy goat kraal, lorikeet feeding, songs, games, stories, a train ride (except Penguin Camp), snacks and a ZooCamp t-shirt. 3rd – 8th grade camps include a visit to the Washington Park play structure and Elephant Barn picnic shelter. Half-day camps for kindergarteners ($85 for members/$100 for non-member); full-day camps for 1st graders and up ($190 for members/$220 for non-members). Before and after care available.

    YMCA - Camp Collins: Day camp for children in grades 1-6. "Campers will participate in archery, arts and crafts, hiking, nature activities, climbing tower, field games, and believe it or not, much more!" Camp runs for 9 sessions; fees are a sliding scale ranging from $165 to $215 per week. Daily bus service to camps run from Alameda school (NE), Gresham and the North Clackamas Aquatic Center.

    Camp Ky-O-Wa: "Explore a trail in the woods, enjoy the cool waters of a lake, try your luck at fishing, bounce on a trampoline, sing camp songs, and discover other fun summer activities. Camp Ky-O-Wa is an integrated day camp for children ages 5-11, with and without disabilities." Sponsored by Portland Parks & Recreation.

    Summer Nature Camp: Also by Portland Parks & Recreation, for children ages 5-12, week-long sessions "provide youngsters with a firsthand experience with nature through hiking, storytelling, scientific observations, and forest crafts."

    OMSI Summer Science Camps: Junior Naturalist camp, Naturalist camp, Adventure camps. These camps are serious all-week camps at various locations throughout the state. Without a doubt, our kids could get an invaluable experience (camps run $385 for the week). But, our biggest girl is still eons away from spending the whole day and night away from us! Programs run for youth ages 7-18. Camps run from 1 to 3 weeks long! We are SO not there yet. Someday!

    Mad Science: For some reason, I had it in my head that Mad Science camp would be so fun for our biggest girl once she became of age. Now, I see that they've only got one location in the inner eastside, and it's isn't even a full-day (it's only 9-3pm). So, it won't work for us, but maybe the locations and times will work for you! It's about $129 per week for ages 4 and up.

    And, actually, this listing of summer camps is pretty good.

    Public Pre-K Offerings

    March 08, 2006

    Did you know that Portland Public Schools offer pre-kindergarten programs for any Portland kid 4 years old on or before September 1 of the year they're planning to enroll?  Here's the scoop, direct from the PPS early education web site.  I've included links for easier perusing:

    Half-day programs

    • Beach - Dual language, Spanish Immersion program, 1710 N. Humboldt, 503-916-6236   
    • Chief Joseph, 2409 N Saratoga, 503-916-6255
    • Sabin, 4013 NE 18th, 503-916-6181
    • Vernon, 2044 NE Killingsworth, 503-916- 6415

    Full-day programs

    Full-day, fee-for-service pre-kindergarten

    • Richmond Elementary, full-day and half-day Japanese Immersion pre-kindergarten program. 2276 SE 41st; 503-916-6220.

    Make sure to download the School Catalog to read up on the stats and offerings at each school.  Any mamas with experiences they'd like to share?

    Literary Mama Meets W[h]ine Night

    March 07, 2006

    We are so fortunate to have so many well-read and well-written mamas amongst us.  Here's what Shari has to say:

    I don't know how I got so lucky (pinch me--no, don't--two of my kids are vomiting today, so I'm suffering enough), but I have the privilege of being the new Creative Non-Fiction editorial assistant for Literary Mama (www.literarymama.com) and have an essay in the upcoming anthology, "It's a Girl", edited by the brilliant Andrea Buchanan. There will be some local MotherTalk events and bookstore readings in conjunction with the book's upcoming release and I'm collecting the email addresses of women who would like to receive an Evite to these events. So drop me an email or leave a comment here! (We'll be planning events in Seattle, too, so if you have friends up north who want to receive an Evite, have them contact me with their email addresses and ask them to specify "Seattle.")

    I hope to see lots of UrbanMamas at the readings and MotherTalks (dates and locations to be announced--more shall be revealed). We are fortunate to have some amazing local contributors who you won't want to miss--and, anyway, who couldn't use another excuse to get out of the house, talk with other mamas, drink wine, and--did I mention TALK? Check out the MotherTalk blog site (http://mothertalk.blogspot.com/) for more insights on what it's all about.

    Transitioning from Life with Daddy and Mommy to Preschool

    February 22, 2006

    Dear Urban Mamas,

    We have a 27-month old daughter who has spent her life to-date with either her Daddy or Mommy.  Next week, she's starting pre-school three full days per week.  We're anxious about the transition for all three of us.  Do any of you have suggestions about how to prepare and/or cope?  I would sure appreciate it!

    Thank you,
    Kaaren

    Summer Programs in Portland

    Hi!  I ran across your web site as I was searching for summer programs.  My family is planning on spending a month in Portland as part of our search for a new home.  Our current home is Cleveland, Ohio.  Can you ask your Mamas about summer programs for 3 year olds.  We will be staying in the Milwaukie area.  I hope I can join you for an event this summer.  Your groups sounds fun!
    Thanks,

    Japanese Preschool Playground Fundraiser

    February 21, 2006

    I would just like to let other urbanMamas know that the Japanese preschool my 4 year old daughter Mia attends is holding a fundraiser in two weeks (Saturday, March 4th) from 11-2 in order to raise money for a new playground. There will be an obstacle course-a-thon, a silent auction including area restaurants and Bonneville Hots Springs certificates, and SUSHI and Japanese-style baked goods.

    Kohitsuji Preschool is located at the Japanese International Baptist Church in Tigard on SW Spruce street off of Hall between 217 and 99W (8500 SW Spruce St., Tigard, OR  Tel: 503.246.4680) . The playground will be used by the church kids, the Kohitsuji kids, and kids from Sakura-kai (thursday evening Japanese language classes).

    Please come and buy a cookie or macha tiramisu or some rolled sushi if you have the time.

    Thanks,

    Kirsten

    If you would like more information on Japanese language opportunities in the Portland area, check out the JASO website on the subject here, or feel free to email me.

    2006 NEWBERY AND CALDECOTT AWARDS

    February 13, 2006

    I'm not so sure how we pick out books.  For grown-up books, I am usually always pleased with a pick from Oprah's old book lists (Did you know that Oprah also has a kid's book list sorted by age group?)  For the kids' books, I like to use the Library's book lists (also sorted by age group).  I'm also always drawn to the prestigious Newbery award (for illustration in children's books) and the Caldecott award (for children's story books).  How happy was I to see the winner of this year's Newbery: Chris Raschka, a longtime fave in our household.  Run to Powell's to pick up your copies now! 

    ... snipets below courtesy NYTimes.com ...

    On Jan. 23rd, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, announced the winners of the 2006 Newbery and Caldecott Medals in San Antonio, Tex. The most prestigious awards in children's book publishing, they honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

    Every year there are only two Medal winners, but there can be an unlimited number of Honor awards (or none). This year there are four Caldecott Honor books and four Newbery Honors as well. A listing follows of the 2006 Medal and Honor books, with brief descriptions taken from the award citations.

    2006 RANDOLPH CALDECOTT MEDAL FOR ILLUSTRATION:author Chris Raschka, for "The Hello, Goodbye Window"

    The Hello, Goodbye Window, By Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka. Michael di Capua/Hyperion, $15.95.
    "In this sunny portrait of familial love, a little girl tells us about her everyday experiences visiting her grandparents' house."

    FOUR CALDECOTT HONOR BOOKS

    Rosa, By Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier. Henry Holt, $16.95.
    "With Giovanni's spare, elegant prose and Collier's iconic illustrations, celebrates the quiet courage of Rosa Parks."

    Zen Shorts, By Jon J. Muth. Scholastic, $16.95
    "Muth's story of inquisitive siblings befriending a wise panda is told through luminous watercolors interwoven with three lessons."
    Review

    Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride, By Marjorie Priceman.  Anne Schwartz/Atheneum, $16.95.
    "An aerial adventure over 18th-century France," involving "three animals swept up in the winds of history."

    Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems, By Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange. Houghton Mifflin, $16.95.
    "Eleven joyful songs of everyday pond life throughout the seasons," in a "combination of visual drama, poetry and scientific facts."

    2006 JOHN NEWBERY MEDAL: Lynne Rae Perkins, for "Criss Cross"

    Criss Cross, By Lynne Rae Perkins. Greenwillow Books, $16.99
    "Follows the lives of four 14-year-olds in a small town," and "deftly captures the tentativeness and incompleteness of adolescence." An Illustrated Excerpt (PDF format.)

    NEWBERY HONOR BOOKS

    Whittington By Alan Armstrong, illustrated by S. D. Schindler.Random House, $14.95
    "Weaves together three tales: Whittington the cat's arrival on Bernie's farm, his retelling of the traditional legend of his 14th-century namesake, and one boy's struggle to learn to read."

    Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow By Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Scholastic Nonfiction, $19.95.
    Explores Hitler's rise to power "through the first-hand experiences of young followers . . . a powerful addition to Holocaust literature for children."

    Princess Academy By Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury USA, $16.95.
    The girls of a mountain village are sent away to princess school when the prince of the realm must choose a bride. "A fresh approach to the traditional princess story."

    Show Way By Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Putnam, $16.99.
    A "magnificent poem" that "tells the story of slavery, emancipation and triumph" for each generation of the author's maternal ancestors.

    Here are all past Caldecott winners and here are all past Newbery winners.

    Bookish

    January 29, 2006

    Submitted by one of our readers, Lisa:

    I was sitting and staring abstractedly out of the window when my eight-year-old son sat down next to me. “What are you doing?,” he asked.

    I’m thinking,” I said. “Thinking about my newsletter—you know, the one I’m working on about books for children. I have to write something for it that will make people want to read it.”

    “Oh,” he said knowledgably. “Like advertising. You need some of that head print—you know, those big letters—that says GET NEW BOOKS FOR YOUR KIDS or SOMETHING NICE FOR A RAINY DAY

    “That’s a good idea,” I said. “Can you remember that for me?”

    “I think you should remember it for yourself. Or—I know—I have some old papers in my room I don’t need anymore. You can write it on the backs of them.”

    So we did.

    What I can tell you right now is this. BOOKISH is a bimonthly review of books for children and families. Each issue contains the following features:

    A Note to the Reader: an essay by the editor on matters related to reading and children

    Reading Matters: a column about reading with children

    Words and Pictures: capsule reviews on one or two topics for children in four different age groups

    Tattered Pages: an extended review of one book to read over and over

    Seen and Heard: a conversation with children, an observation of children, or an historical essay about children and childhood

    End Matter: a bibliography of the books reviewed in the current issue that you can take with you to the library or bookstore

    In addition, alternate issues will feature Stories Sans Frontières, an exploration of books written in countries other than the United States.

    Books are the starting point of this review, but they are not the end point. Because I believe that great books are the stuff of life, because I think that the stories they contain reflect something true about the nature of human experience and about the centrality of narrative to that experience, I also use BOOKISH to talk about the work of the imagination, about the experience of childhood, about time and memory, as well as more prosaic though no less important matters, like how to read with children, and where to find books. My intention is that BOOKISH be thorough, though not comprehensive—in other words, that I will discuss many good books on a given theme, but not all of them. I will only discuss books that I have read myself, word for word and cover to cover.

    If you’d like to see a trial copy, please email me at lsilverman@bookish.info, and I’ll send you one as a pdf—your choice of Dragons, Making the World A Better Place and Books from Canada, or Pigs, Mud and Rain. And I can give you a little more background about myself and the review, if you’d like.

    What do you do for Back-Up??

    January 23, 2006

    I've been meaning to post this for a while, but Blogging Baby's "Another Day Off???" reminded me that spring break and other days off are right around the corner!  If only my work vacation schedule could follow the school vacation schedule, then I wouldn't have a minor heart attack each time the two-week winter break or one-week spring break comes up, not to mention the handful of "faculty in-service days" when the school is not open for the children!  Even our small in-home school follows the Portland public school calendar.  Rightfully so.  It still doesn't prevent me from having a hard time digging up temporary care for the girls.  What to do?

    * Start early & Scour craigslistcl is always my first stop for finding ideas for our irregular childcare needs.  From cl, we found a family with a nanny who was looking for a full-time share with another family.  That was two summers ago, and we are still close friends with the family.  Not only did we find wonderful, happy, quality care, we found a family of friends, too.  We've also found wonderful in-home schools through craigslist.  We take plenty of precautions, of course, but at least it's a place to start.

    * Ask established daycares / schools if they can accept drop-ins: beyond Grandma's Place, there could be room at your nearby child development center during vacation periods, due to absent children travelling or taking extended holidays.  The classrooms will be fully staffed, but children vacationing with their families may leave a spot or two open for some or all of the days.  Most recently, we sent our girls to Growing Seeds (in the Hollywood neighborhood) for almost all of last week.  We paid a flat drop-in rate for each child, and they enjoyed GS's wonderful nurturing environment.  We actually feel lucky that they got to spend some time there.  (See Danielle's great comments on Growing Seeds.)

    * Keep a list of back-up care providers: In the past two years, we've tried to assemble a list of people to call.  There's the sitter we once met via criagslist and interviewed to be a potential summer sitter for us.  There's the former substitute teacher at one of our daughter's schools.  There's the teacher of one of my colleague's children.  There's our neighbor's college-age daughter who is home for spring breaks, summers, and winter breaks.

    * Pool resources:  In an impromptu cooperative way, we've pooled resources with another family.  On one occasion when our sitter had a medical emergency, three of the four parents finagled work-from-home or used vacation time.  Each parent did a shift with the four kids, and we somehow made it through a week without even having to seek beyond our small circle of parents.  Also in another instance, a friend - with two kids of her own - offered to take in our two girls for a day.  To an extent, it works well.  Kids close in age can occupy one another for good stretches of time!

    So, have you ever been put in this situation?  Any tips to share? 

    Another mama looking for a preschool - N.NW.NE

    January 17, 2006

    So, I met another one of us - a mama scouring options and search far and wide for the best situation for her 16-month old son.  She needs FT care in the very inner N.NE.NW areas.  Her son is now at the Peninsula Children's Center, and she's looking for a new space where her son can grow, live, learn!  Any ideas or comments?  Growing SeedsRowanberry School (Angela?)?  Escuela Viva?  Any other great in-home schools?

    Schools, Glorious Schools

    January 14, 2006

    Greetings, mamas!  I went to the Celebrate Portland Public Schools event that was so kindly posted here.  It was an embarassment of riches, and truly got me excited about the many options out there.

    However, there's a problem: others seemed equally as excited about these options, and it seems we may all be competing for very few spaces.  With that in mind, are there some savvy mamas out there who have more information on Beach Elementary (Spanish immersion), Clarendon (Spanish immersion), Vernon (my neighborhood school, which has Spanish enrichment), and Trillium Charter?  How hard is it to score a slot in a dual immersion Spanish program if you're not in the neighborhood?  My instincts tell me Clarendon may be a possibility, because it's further out there.

    Gracias, mamacitas!

    --Serena

    Do you love your preschool?

    January 13, 2006

    I've heard from a few mamas recently are looking for preschools in coming months.  In the name of sharing and making connections, we want to hear from you!  Does your child attend a preschool you absolutely love?  Share, share, share!

    Helpful info to provide includes:
    - General Area (N/NE, SE, SW, NW) and Neighborhood
    - PT or FT?
    - Approach to play and learning
    - any and all of your first-hand experience with teachers, other parents at the school, and other anecdotes.

    Celebrate Portland Public Schools

    January 04, 2006

    We have tons of choices here in Portland with our public school system.  Neighborhood, charter, magnet, immersion.  Arts, science, language.  For the past couple of years, I have been dodging making the decision.  Next year, our biggest girl will need to go to first grade.  The question is 'Where?'

    Next week, Portland Public Schools hosts their annual Celebrate! PPS event at the Convention Center.  It's on Thursday, January 12, from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  I suspect I will be on information overload.  But, I need to be.  12,000 people were there last year.  So, it'll be worth taking advantage of the free shuttles from a few of the schools.  See the poster for more details.  See the tens of thousands of you there.

    ... back to your regularly scheduled program ...

    Parenting Conference - Good Idea or Bad Idea?

    December 30, 2005

    So I have all my inspirational ideas at around 6-7 AM, or right before it's time to wake up.  This one, I want to get out and see if it's a good idea or not...

    Apparently, Parenting Conferences already exist.  This morning, though, I had something different in mind.  In my "dream" state, I was having a gathering at my house where parents themselves were going to be giving talks and demonstrations about parenting ideas and information that they had each gathered.  See, in my day job, there are technical conferences every year.  A professional in the field writes a paper about something they've researched and submits it to the technical conference board, where it's either accepted or declined (I don't think many are declined).  For parenting, though, I envision something where each presenter may or may not decide to do research, depending on what they want to present.  Some of the sessions could be round table discussions or activity sessions too, involving the children.  I see this as an event where the whole family comes to learn, maybe separates up for some classes, and then goes home with a bunch more information than they arrived with.  It sort of imitates some of what we do here at the urbanMamas site.  Some of the sessions I envisioned in my dream were:
    How to photograph your child (this could be digital/film/age specific)
    Helping your child communicate (age specific)
    Breastfeeding round table discussion
    How to encourage physical activities that are safe (activity class w/ child designed to reduce injuries for your child - I could use a class like this hehe)
    Is your child getting enough sleep?  This one might be a good one for some research about what books say and then could turn into a round table discussion about what different parents have observed.

    I guess what I envision is a chance for parents to come together and share their lay knowledge about what works for them in parenting, or what doesn't work.  It would be a chance to learn things and connect with people in the community.

    So what do you think?  Good idea or Bad idea?

    The truth comes out ...

    December 19, 2005

    So, every mama needs a little break, right?  I've put the girls in front of a noggin show or in front of "Sound of Music", if I need a three-hour break.  We have also used the computer.  When Raph travels, I need just a little diversion for Philly while I put Tati to bed.  The key to Tati's bedtime routine is a little undistracted alone time with mama and her nam-nams.  SO, I usually set Philly up on the computer for some games to keep her quiet and occuppied.  In her earlier computer days, Philly played games on www.noggin.com or www.pbskids.org.  Now that she's a little older (5), I feel like all the matching games or basic pattern puzzles are getting a little too easy for her.  Everyone deserves a good challenge.  I recently found a great website: www.starfall.com.  It's super for early readers, helping kids sound letters out and spell words.  The sections are set up by difficulty, so she can work from easy to more challenging (I've taken the Silent-E for granted!  It's a hard concept to teach!).

    If you have older kids, do you have any websites you'd recommend for activites that encourage reading, spelling, addition or subtraction?

    Escuela Viva

    December 18, 2005

    Has anyone heard anything about Escuela Viva in N. Portland (close to Emanuel Hospital)?  All I know is that they advertise in MetroParent, the program is dual languange and follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy.  But, any first hand or second hand info would be greatly appreciated; they almost all sound great on paper.  I'm looking at preschools again and would love to find a spanish immersion or dual language program.  Thanks for any info. 

    Mama New to the Beaverton Area, Any Advice?

    December 12, 2005

    hi,
    my family just moved here from chicago 2 weeks ago. we have a 4.5 year old who was attending a public montessori program there. we've moved here mid-year and have succumbed to the suburbs. we are a little bit lost and trying to find a pre-k that's a good fit for him. we are excited about public schools in the area but were bummed to find out that our neighborhood school doesn't run full days for kindergarten. we were looking forward to portland's options but we've been priced out to the edges. any advice for us? we live in beaverton. my poor son is eating his shirt collars he's so nervous about all of these changes. i'm afraid to just plop him somewhere without getting some idea of what other's experiences are.
    thanks,
    melia

    Balancing Act

    December 06, 2005

    A friend and I were talking yesterday about balance.  The conversation was started because a friend of hers recieved a grant for her work as an MD.  In accepting the grant, this busy mama of 3  is to do research or writing on how to balance work, marriage, kids, etc.  So, what is balance?  Does someone appear to be balanced because they manage to keep everything together?  Or, is it because they are able to do things for themselves.  I guess for me, life would be balanced if my family and I were able to do things together as a family, keep the house in presentable shape, manage to get the trash out on Mondays, and Jason and I would each be able to do things for ourselves.  Some running, biking, a haircut more than 2x/year, etc. you get the picture.  Additionally, we need to do things together without the little man who constantly craves mama and papa time. 

    Right now, life seems pretty unbalanced; I'm in school, working nights and being a mama.  Jason is working full time, studying for the Bar and being a papa.  We tend to play tag team on the weekends so that we both have the study and/or sleep time we need.  We have yet to find a regular babysitter (who has time to look for one) and barely have time to look into any of the work that we would like to have done in the house.  I can barely keep up with the wash and am forever putting away folded clothes.  It all seems a bit crazed; but, who doesn't have a crazy schedule these days? 

    What about the rest of you busy mamas?  Do you feel like life is balanced?  How do you define balance?  How do you achieve balance?  I'd love to hear how other people are doing.

    Dang, What She Said About Public Schools!

    November 30, 2005

    For some time now, I've been thinking about posting about the fact that I am in favor of sending my children to public school.  Because I won't do the topic half as much justice as this well-written piece, here's what some mamas had to say In Defense of Neighborhood Schools.  I echo their sentiments.  Oftentimes my husband and I will land on the discussion of education, and without hesitation I advocate for sending my sons to a neighborhood school, the very school that Leslie refers to in her piece. 

    Community is such a beautiful thing, and it's one of the reasons why I we haven't considered moving to another city, or even to another neighborhood even though our family is quickly outgrowing our house.  Both my husband and I share this vision of letting our sons walk or bike to our neighborhood school.  We see our sons surrounded by a great support network of families which also happen to be our neighbors and friends.  Should we need a last-minute babysitter or someone to pinch hit for us, we could call on our neighbors to step in.  We see the value in developing deep meaningful friendships that begins at an early age, and can be so easy when your best friend lives within such close proximity.  The fate of public schools can only improve with strong support of the community and sending your kids to your neighborhood school.  Both my husband and I are products of public education, and we turned out just fine.