22 posts categorized "Entertainment"

Spring break in the rain

March 26, 2014

Oh! The "opening weekend" of spring break for PPS was gorgeous. Epic. We have put tables and chairs outside and are eating meals there when the weather is good enough, and this weather took "good enough" to extreme. We were planning the summer in all its beauty, the kids were all asking, could we go to the pool? How about tomorrow? No one jumps to the logical extreme like a child with a taste of warm spring sun. Monday, I took a bunch of kids with me to the nursery, and we picked out plants with the glorious excitement that can only come in that sort of beautiful weather. I went for a run with my oldest through the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden and it just seemed like the most beautiful spring break ever devised.

And then came the rain. I went running yesterday at lunch and the wind had begun to lift all the blossoms off the cherry trees on the waterfront and they were blowing everywhere like, I said, snow or ash or confetti. When we went out with kids it was for errands and we got so wet.

Later I went to the thrift store on bikes with kids and we dodged the rain on the way home and we laughed and brought home our finds to show off with relish but I got back and saw the just-begun garden and was hit with the wow realization that the rest of the break would be like this: little if any opportunities for digging or planting or outside adventure or sipping coffee in the little "cafe."

If you have your children at home for the rest of the break, what are your plans to cope with the downpour that looks pretty constant from here on out? Or if you have them in camps, how are they liking the wet weather? How about this weekend: a rainy visit to the beach or just holing up at home?


September 11, 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.

Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. Four days of fun-filled activities, including live music on four stages, free Kindergarten with rides and shows, arts and crafts show, and more! Thursday - Sunday. Most events are free. 

Tallulah's Daddy at Cafe Au Play. Come sing and dance while Tallulah's Daddy sings and plays his guitar, bass and cajon. Friday 10-11am. Suggested donation.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - SEPTEMBER 13-15, 2013" »


August 14, 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.

Clackamas County Fair in Canby. A classic county fair filled with amazing BBQ, a rodeo, rides, and entertainment for the whole family. Runs through August 18th.

Ladybug Nature Walk: Irving Park. Naturalist led stroll. Ages 2-5, with grown-up. Stroller-accessible. Friday 10-11am. $4/child.

Once on This Island at Broadway Rose Theater. The Broadway Rose summer teen workshop participants present an enchanting, calypso-flavored musical fable that tells the story of forbidden love between people from two different worlds. Thursday - Saturday performances. $8.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - AUGUST 16-18, 2013" »

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" »

Northeast Sunday Parkways

June 20, 2013

PicFrameCome see us this Sunday, June 23rd, at Fernhill Park (near the playground) as a part of Sunday Parkways- an 8 mile loop that is closed off to cars and wide open to bicyclists, skateboarders, scooter riders, walkers, runners, hula hoopers...!

We have some yummy treats provided by Saint Cupcake and Dry Soda as well as fresh-off-the-press uM stickers and Stealing Time subscriptions, tattoos and stickers!

Be sure to drop off a business card in our raffle jar too- one lucky winner will be drawn at random to get a free month of advertising on uM! 

So... pump up those bike tires, grab your helmet and rally the kids! We cannot wait to meet you! Want to coordinate a group ride? Let's chat about it on our FB page!

Click here to view the NE Sunday Parkways map and highlights. The route opens at 11am and closes at 4pm.

Friday Family Movie Night: Tangled

September 02, 2011

When Tangled was coming out into movie theatres, I was reading (in a late-night rush) the sassy, beautifully-drawn graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge. In a fit of hopefulness, I decided the Disney movie must be based on the graphic novel -- it, set in the old West, gave Rapunzel a whole different mien. No naive and helpless girl wasting away in a tower, Shannon Hale's Rapunzel is fantastic with rope work (using her hair, naturally) and as handy as MacGyver. She's a cowgirl, and Jack, the male "lead," is an amalgam of the Jacks of fairy tale lore -- and not nearly so fearless and skilled as the heroine.


While there are similarities in the two -- Disney's Rapunzel also uses her hair like a lasso, and both handsome rescuing types are thieves seeking to get enormous chips off their shoulders -- this is no competent, fearless, feminist heroine. Nope: this is classic Disney, with the Grimm storyline shook up a lot so that we can make her a princess. Most of the Rapunzel origin stories have the girl's parents cast as poor, ordinary folk (although her savior is typically a prince), and her father, not a king, but a thief, forced by his wife's terrible cravings for greens (variously, rapunzel, rampion radishes, and lamb's lettuce, which grows wild in my garden, mama!) to climb Mother Gothel's wall and steal them. He is found out and the baby, surrendered as punishment.

This Mother Gothel is more foraging naturalist than enchantress, and the mom's pregnant craving is not for spinach-like leaves, but for healing from a terrible illness. The only substance that can heal her is a magic flower, one Gothel has been keeping under wraps in order to remain forever young. (Young-ish -- the transformed Gothel reminds me of Cher in her late fifties.) When the flower is accidentally left uncovered, the good people of Rapunzel's nation find it, healing her mother and embuing the child with the flower's magical powers.

Gothel, learning that Rapunzel's hair is her power as long as it remains uncut, steals her and secrets her away in the fairy tale tower. In order to maintain her evil aura despite depriving her of magic powers, Disney makes Mother Gothel passive-aggressive, controlling and emotionally manipulative. She is the ultimate bad mom. (And, honestly, this makes her much creepier than some simple cackling, potions and curses might.)

Rapunzel is Disney Princess through-and-through. She's got it all: progenic, creative talent (painting and star-charting); enormous oft-blinking eyes; bouncy pastel wardrobe; cute, supportive and intelligent small animal sidekick (Pascal, a chameleon who sounds like a squeaky toy); uncannily winning ways; clever, spunky dialogue.

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: Tangled" »

Friday Family Movie Night: Toy Story 3

August 26, 2011

As I was graduating from high school when the first Toy Story zoomed out into the world with its trademark gleeful spirit of everyday magical realism, I haven't watched any of this series as a new release. But I first thought of the series as something to appreciate as more than a kids' blockbuster when my then-co-writer for the Wharton Follies (a kind of Saturday Night Live / parody musical for business school students) took her little brother to Toy Story II. Liz couldn't stop talking about how clever it was: when Mrs. Potato Head told her husband, "I packed your angry eyes!" Liz rolled with laughter.

Still, it would be many years later, until I myself had children, before I first watched the original and sequel to the Toy Story franchise. I was charmed, of course, and dressed Everett in a homemade Buzz Lightyear costume at age four. We began to "collect" Woody and Josie dolls from the Goodwill Bins. When Toy Story 3 came out, I watched Twitter reports from friends across the country, who universally said "I cried." Oh no. I didn't need a tearjerking magical talking toy movie.

I'm still not quite sure why I was so reluctant, but I finally agreed to see it when my boys begged me for a Friday family movie night this spring. Toy Story 3 begins in a very different place than the other movies, reflecting the time that's passed in the real world; Andy, now out of high school, is headed toward college, and his toys have (up until the movie's opening) become accustomed to life as toys rarely played with. Even his kid sister is barely interested in Barbies any more; and, his mother tells him, it's time to give it up. He needs to pack, store, or throw away his toys.

The next few scenes could have been written by anyone who's seen 20 minutes of Toy Story; Andy, after some consideration, becomes nostalgic, puts Woody in his box to head to college and the rest of his beloved toys in a bag to take to the attic. But, he's distracted, and the bag is taken away by his mother -- Woody, fearing for his friends, bravely abandons his cushy retirement to a shelf in the dorm and dives in to save them. In a hurtling, flying, impossible few scenes, he manages to keep everyone from the actual trash (this will become a nailbiting and recurring theme that could look like so many tussles between family members -- save the toys from the garbage!), and instead, the toys end up in a day care.

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: Toy Story 3" »

Friday Family Movie Night: Ramona and Beezus

July 29, 2011

When Portland learned that Ramona Quimby would be modernized and done up all High School Musical-style (with a Beezus, Selena Gomez, straight from a starring role on the Disney Channel), there was excitement at first -- Klickitat Street, on the big screen! -- and then disappointment. Other than a few establishing shots, the movie was filmed entirely in Vancouver, B.C., where they have all the movie fun. (But at least we get to be Boston in Leverage, so there.) And there was the usual concern about reflecting the book. Would it be faithful? Would it be good?

Well, it definitely wasn't faithful to the book series, at least not in a way that any Ramona fan would deem acceptable. Charming and fun and faithful to the mood and episodic style of the books, though, sure. Though the movie is titled "Ramona and Beezus," it's nothing like the first book of the Ramona series which shares its title. Instead, the book is set roughly in the time of both Ramona and Her Father and Ramona Forever, mashed up, with a Beezus from Ramona's World (15 and spouting French to annoy her sister) and the family makeup from Ramona and Her Mother.

20th Century Fox

It's this mashup that gives the movie its inner life, and also its contradictions. Ramona is, as in the book series, always screwing up situations because of her active imagination, impatience, and earnest belief in the magnitude of her own actions. She gets angry at her family and squirts an entire toothpaste tube into the sink. She is made fun of at school and exacerbates the problem by trying to crack a boiled egg on her head -- and having it turn out to have been raw. (Oops. And it's picture day.) She hears that the situation with the family's home is precarious, so she starts a lemonade stand to earn money to "save" it.

The central story line from Ramona and Her Father -- that her father has lost his job and is trying without much luck to find a new one -- is here, and is so modern it might as well have been written, well, today. This week even. The romance between Aunt Bea and Ramona's friend Howie's uncle Hobart is darling, if a little obvious (in both versions), but the real sweetness is between Aunt Bea and Ramona; a sweetness the viewer is meant to believe, Ramona needs desperately. Can she afford to live without it? She's odd girl out in her house. Beezus is the responsible older sister -- who, as in the first book in the series, has no patience for Ramona's pestiness, and tortures her. Baby sister Willa Jean is just adorable, even when she's putting applesauce on her head. Dad is achey-breaky-unemployed and mom is working overtime. How's she going to survive without Aunt Bea?

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: Ramona and Beezus" »

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" »

Have a Safe Fourth Celebration

July 04, 2011

America's annual celebration of our independence is seemingly inextricable with "safety." As with so much else, we have become hyper-focused on the safety of our children (while, sometimes it seems, forgetting to worry about adults -- who drive drunk and make all sorts of ill-advised choices -- every year setting houses on fire with fireworks and hot dog grills), often to the exclusion of fun. There is virtually no exhortation of hope for children's pleasurable entertainment without an equal or greater-than concern for their bodily wholeness. After all, explosions and fire and the zoomy use of fossil fuels are what this holiday's about.

Not that we don't let the kids have fun. Here in Portland, on a Fourth-of-July weekend in which the fireworks are saved (officially) for the very tail end of the holiday period and warm weather has finally come our way, anarchy reigns. By late Monday, the parks with picnic tables had been so heavily used that the garbage cans were not only full; extra garbage bags were stacked up seven deep next to the cans. Illegal fireworks are so rote in neighborhoods -- and so little enforced -- that kids know where the best ones usually are.

Riding through Portland's streets late in the night and winding in and out of parks with my little boys aboard may seem like riding through a war zone, with sulphurous smoke weaving through the rose bushes and cherry trees, explosions going off in every direction, gangs teenagers, wearing halter tops and graffiti-style tees, whooping and hollering and utterly without adult supervision, and garbage slung all over our parks -- but it doesn't. I feel safe in this anarchic place, safe and enveloped in community.

On NPR, there was a story about how a political scientist found that the key determinant in how well we survive disasters (not fireworks so much, but earthquakes and tsunamis and such) is how well we know our neighbors, and how connected we are to our community. I'm thankful that I know my immediate neighbors, and many others through my involvement with community organizations (like urbanMamas and Portland Green Parenting and volunteering with the high school cross country team) -- so that, when I ride around in this anarchic time of celebration, I figure that I must know some of those teenagers, and that we will look out for each other, and I -- and my kids -- belong in this place.

Friday Family Movie Night: 3 Ninjas

April 22, 2011

It's Friday again, and another recent movie my family watched and loved was 3 Ninjas. A number of the free movies 'On Demand' have been from my own childhood; this was one that was released, instead, while I was working 12-hour days as a young investment banker whose very last priority would have been watching children's films (especially those targeted at little boys). Now that I'm a mother of three boys who love samurais, knights, and most especially, ninjas? I jumped when I saw the title.

My favorite part was that the three boys very much mirrored my own boys' relationships, except that the youngest in the movie was most like our middle child -- different coloring than the other two and the once often excluded from the other brothers' games. (We got to talk a lot about how important it is for brothers to stick together and be a team, even if one is frustrating or has a different personality than the others.)


© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

3 Ninjas is the far-fetched but sweet story of brothers whose maternal grandfather is a real ninja; a retired one, of course, who now loves nothing more than to care for his three grandsons all summer long at his country little-boy paradise. The movie opens at the end of a summer of ninja training; their parents are about to pick them up, with dark overtones of the possibility dad (an FBI agent who works all the time) will not indulge them to train with grandpa again. While I mourn the absence in my life of a ninja father who had the energy and desire to fill my own boys' summer with discipline and karate and alarms that light up Japanese masks, dad is having a hard time with his latest bad guy: a ninja wanna-be named Hugo Snyder.

Oops! As it turns out, Snyder is an old student of grandpa's. He visits the country homestead where grandpa is getting ready to say goodbye to the boys, first begging and then threatening with an offer to come teach his army of bad guys ninjitsu... but not before the boys get a chance to try out their summer of education on Snyder and his militia.

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: 3 Ninjas" »

Friday Family Movie Night: Inkheart

April 15, 2011

It was almost a year ago that we started having regular Friday family movie nights, and for months I've been meaning to start providing some of my feedback on the movies we watch. It's hard to find reviews for movies from a whole-family perspective (i.e. is this movie going to simultaneously enchant my children, keep my interest, and not freak out my three-year-old?) -- so providing that will, I hope, be a service for other parents and at the same time inspire you to give some great recommendations for future movie nights. Most of the movies I watch are available On Demand either free or for the lesser rental fees (I try to avoid the $4.99 new releases), and often on Netflix streaming as well.

One of my recent favorites was Inkheart, one of the large number of movies produced in recent years based on relatively new YA books. Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke, is now on my shelf (a violation of my usual rule: read the book first so the movie doesn't give you spoilers) and I'm eager to read what I understand is a substantially different story than the movie.

Inkheart, the story of a man whose mysterious ability to pull characters out of the stories he reads aloud into the "real world" threatens to destroy his family, starts magically in a deeply terrifying way for a mother. You know what's about to happen as the father in the story -- Brendan Fraser (I know, but he's good) as Mo "Silvertongue" Folchart -- begins to read Red Riding Hood to his daughter, Meggie, as a baby. His wife (Sienna Guillory) looks lovingly on. And then, through the dark clouds, floats a red cape...

By the next scene, Meggy is a tween and her father is in search of a mysterious book. She believes her mother left them when she was a baby; her father has never told her the truth, although she knows he is looking for something important as he travels the world in search of old books. We slowly learn how the "silvertongue" gift works -- when a character is pulled out of a book a character from the real world must go in his place -- and the only way to get back is to read them back (somehow, I was unclear how that would work although it's set up as a solution early in the movie).

The fictional Inkheart, the book Mo was reading when his wife disappeared, is out of print and written by an eccentric old Italian man. It's a dark medieval fantasy, with an evil lord who summons a monster called the Shadow to help control his subjects. Two villains from the book, and Dustfinger (Paul Bettany, the best character in my opinion), a fire-eater from the evil lord's court, are sent by the evil Capricorn to retrieve the silvertongue. They have their own silvertongue, but he has a lisp and brings people into the real world with flaws (enchantingly, with black words tatooed across their bodies) -- Capricorn wants Mo to read the Shadow into existence and give him dominion over the modern world into which he's been brought.

Continue reading "Friday Family Movie Night: Inkheart" »

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...

How & what do your kids play?

January 11, 2011

Over the weekend, while getting the chores done downstairs, I went upstairs to find laundry - clean and dirty - strewn everywhere.  There was also a pillow on the ground.  My daughter stood, with each foot planted firmly a reusable shopping bag, with a broom in her hand.  "What are you doing?!?", my voice elevated and stern.  "I have to keep away from the hot lava, and I am rowing to go to the bathroom."

Part of me wanted to scold her and tell her to fold up the clothes, put my shopping bags where they should be by the door, and bring me my broom.  Another part of me knew exactly what her strategy was.  I used to play hot lava too, throwing all the couch cushions on the ground and hopping from one to another.  Anyone who touched the ground was "dead."

A NYTimes article over the weekend talked about how many of our children today - while they can figure out how to work the newest iPhone app - can't figure out how to get a game of stickball going in the neighborhood.  Kids are unlearning how to play, spending less time outside at playgrounds, not given recess time at school, engaged in structured sports and other extracurricular activities under tight schedules.  Parents are less willing to allow chaos and disorder in the house, more stressed and unwilling to handle kids' volume when playing.

I don't want my kids to forget how to play.  I want to encourage them to make fun out of white paper, an adventure out of thin air, and - sigh! - a fort out of all our blankets and furniture.  I want to hear inspiring stories of play at your house.  Do you feel like your kids sometimes show signs of having forgotten how to play ("mama, I'm bored!"... it happens to us!)?  Are you irritated by the side effects of the most fanciful of play (holy mess, Batman!)?  Or, do you maybe make a game out of the clean-up itself?

mama's little (electronic) helper: screen addictions, mama style

June 02, 2010

We go in cycles with screen time dependencies in my house: sometimes, I feel we're balanced and getting all the imaginative play / book / outside time we need... and then there are the other times, when I have to stop myself from getting shrill. And who am I to talk, anyway? Not only do I spend plenty of time on the computer writing (or, more likely, trying to focus on my writing and instead only playing around -- err, "connecting with community" on Twitter or flickr or, yeah, you know the story), but lately, there's been Word With Friends on the iPod Touch.

It's a simple little application very much like Scrabble that's got me hooked. I've been staying up too late some nights to come up with a great word, and sometimes reaching for it when I should be paying attention to my kids' adorableness (which has begun to reach outrageous new levels) or reading. I've been trying to stay my hand from reaching for that. What harm can it do, right? (Right? Right?)

I was seriously heartened to learn another mama I know -- one who reads more than just about anyone charged with the upbringing of a goodly number of children -- had lately become enamored with Plants Vs. Zombies on the iPhone. It's even better on the iPad, she told me, groaning. She's made rules for herself to keep it under control. (I shouldn't have, but I tried it. And, Oh no.)

Have you, too, fallen under the electronic sway of a little game or online predilection? How do you keep it under control? What is your electronic little helper?

Best ways to beat the heat with the kids in Portland

July 28, 2009

Is it hot enough for you? Portland is smack dab in the middle of the kind of heat wave that has many of we mamas wilting (especially those of us who grew up in temperate climes, and/or don't have air conditioning in our homes). It's hard enough when you're just you and have to decide how to deal with the discomfort and short tempers of extreme heat; and then comes motherhood and the testiness is compounded. And if you're the mama of three, like me, somehow hanging out beside a pool seems the very least relaxing thing in the world -- you're the lifeguard to three little ones and, eek! Talk about water torture.

There must be a better way! We've talked before about ways to beat the heat, so I've developed a list of some of my favorite antidotes to the hotness. What are yours?

1. The Multnomah County Library. Branches are air conditioned and you can catch up on your Summer Reading if you haven't already sped through the "map" -- or start now if you haven't already! Most branches have computers set aside just for kids with educational games and books; here is a link to story times. Or just sit in a corner and read. Woodstock and Belmont are our neighborhood faves.

2. Wading pools in Portland Parks. While the wading pools' days are numbered (state regulations and concerns about chlorination standards mean that standing-water features are being phased out as of last year), the people at Portland Parks & Recreation work hard to extend hours and open as many wading pools as possible when it's hot. I know from the neighborhood listserv that Creston Park's wading pool is open 11 to 7 through the heat wave; is yours open more hours, too? Let us know!

3. Solpops and make-your-own popsicles. Inspired by Solpops, the fruit-positive popsicles that are sold at many farmer's markets and now New Seasons, I made my own popsicles the other day. Convenience food it wasn't, but I loved the process and the promise of super-concentrated fruity iciness. I made mine by rinsing and pitting (if appropriate) fruit -- I used cherries, blackberries and currants -- and simmering it with a cup or two of water and a half-cup of honey for about 20 minutes. Then I pushed the mix through a sieve (if you don't mind seeds or have fruit that is already peeled, like bananas, you could just mash or blend or Cuisinart it) and poured into shot glasses, putting sticks in once they started to freeze up. When I was a kid we had our own popsicle mold and we froze Kool-Aid: a much quicker and easier method.

Continue reading "Best ways to beat the heat with the kids in Portland" »

The Big Bang: Celebrating the 4th with Fireworks

July 01, 2009

Growing up, our backyard featured a great view of our neighborhood's fireworks extravaganza.  We'd have a bbq every year and set out lawn chairs.  Everyone would 'ooooh' and 'aaaahhh' over every bang.  Nowadays, with our kids, I feel a bit less enthusiastic about watching firework shows on the 4th of July.  In fact, fireworks give me great anxiety, but that's a whole other story.

Do you, as a family, do the fireworks thing on the 4th?  If you do, where do you go?  An urbanMama recently facebooked us:

Where do you go to watch fireworks?  We have a 5-year old, and 2 year old twins. We were wanting to go downtown and thinking of taking the MAX, but really don't want to have to go into the large group with all the kiddies.  Any other ideas?

TV might cause autism, definitely causes chaos

August 04, 2008

I recently cut off the cable at our house. If you knew me three years ago, you would be shocked. I've always been pretty relaxed when it comes to media's effects on my kids, but in the past few years I've seen more and more negative results of too much TV (even though I tried to limit the amount and quality of their exposure, I often failed due to a huge number of factors). Even when they weren't watching TV, my 6-year-old and 3-year-old were arguing with me about it.

I wrote about this for Culinate, and was amazed by the quality and quantity of the responses to my piece (where I was, mostly, talking about giving up Rachael Ray and replacing her with beloved cookbooks). The day after my piece went up, my boss sent me this article from Slate, which gives evidence that TV watching in young children might cause autism. I had to gulp, because my middle son is speech delayed, and I had to wonder if it was his frequent exposure to his older brother's television shows at a young age. The theory is that babies need three-dimensional stimuli, and an abundance (in my book, "abundance" means more than an hour a day, even in my loving, attentive, active and book-reading household, our TV days were often more like 3-4 hours) of two-dimensional stimuli is ultimately harming. No, I don't think this is isolated to the sorts of parents (or more likely, low-cost in-home infant care) where babies are strapped in car seats and plunked in front of TVs. This is homes like mine, where mama is trying to juggle too much and lets the kids watch three hours of Nick Jr.

I'm not suggesting that everyone cut their cable off, too (well, I am suggesting that, but I would never judge you for not doing it), but I think it's worth taking a closer look at the various studies and my anecdotal data. In my house, TV causes chaos, and so far I've been a better mama without it.

Summer Concerts at Edgefield: Family-Friendly?

July 13, 2008

Why surely we have our lower-cost/free summer concerts throughout town (check out summer, parks, fun, sun, 2008), some mamas & papas are looking to other concerts.  Does anyone have experience bringing kids to a concert at the McMenamin's Edgefield?  An urbanMama emailed:

There's a band I would love to see coming to play the Edgefield this summer. My daughter is 4.5, and I've taken her to outdoor concerts at the park and the zoo before, which were obviously family friendly. We've had a great time, and I'd love to take her to this all-ages show at the Edgefield with me. Before I invest almost $50 for a ticket for her though (Thanks Ticketmaster!), could any other urbanMamas advise as to the family friendliness of the Edgefield shows? I've never been to one before, obviously. Do other people take their kids along to these? Did they have fun?

Books on Family Fun in Portland

July 08, 2008

Of course the internet is a fantastic resource for finding out what's going on around town for the kids, places for serious family fun.  The uM calendar page is just one great place to get started.  But if you're offline, on a road trip, not near a computer (gasp!), what print resources do you love?  I have had Out and About Portland with Kids on the shelf for years, along with the Insiders' Guide Fun with the Family in Oregon: Hundreds of ideas for Day Trips with the Kids.  Do you even use books to find fun for the family?  If so, which ones do you love?  Why? 

Summer, Parks, Sun, Fun - 2008

June 11, 2008

It is so hard to think that school is out and summer fun is set to begin.  Nothing but grey, but - come July - all that grey will be worth it, right?  Portland summers are gorgeous. 

Beyond clear blue skies, sunshine, and temps in the sweet spot of the 70s, Portland has free entertainment and activities throughout the summer months - fun for all ages and in all parts of the city.

  • Pools throughout the city will host Fun Days, Itty Bitty Beach Parties, Teen Swim Parties, Parent Appreciation Day (July 19th at All Pools), and Dive-In Movies (featuring the "Bee Movie").  The full schedule here.
  • Summer Movies at the Park start mid-July and run into September.  Movies start at dusk and happen in parks all throughout the city.
  • Traveling Rock Walls - we haven't found too much info about the traveling rock wall, but if it's anything like it sounds, it's bound to be fun for the climb-lovers among us.  Looks like the rock wall will make appearances at community centers and parks throughout the city.
  • Summer Playgrounds start on June 19th, offering daily drop-in recreation for kids aged 5-12 including games, sports, and arts & crafts at 23 parks throughout the city.  Free lunches for kids will be available daily midday at 17 parks.
  • Mobile Playgrounds come to a neighborhood near you!  Four fun vehicles will circulate throughout town every day of the week.  Print out the schedule and keep it handy.
  • And, of course, the summer concert schedule 2008 is out.  The line up is full with talented performers representing a breath of styles, including the Portland Festival Symphony.  We love seeing friends and neighbors at the park, some of whom it seems we only see at the summer concerts.
  • Oregon Symphony hosts concerts in the neighborhood, this year in late August at Mt. Scott Park and Tom McCall Waterfront park
  • Regal Films offers free movies (rated G and PG) on Tuesday and Wednesdays from July through mid-August.  Showtimes are 10am.  A movie theater is a great respite from the heat on hot summer days.  A complete schedule here: http://www.regmovies.com/nowshowing/familyfilmfestivalschedule.aspx?state=OR

We have other summer favorites, which are not FREE, but still worth the honorable mention:

  • Oregon Zoo Concerts - featuring Wednesday night Zoo Tunes (free for Zoo members level "plus" and higher or $10 admission) and "Premium" concerts (running $17-24 admission)
  • Kruger's Farm Concerts - happen on Thursdays in July and August from 6:30-9:30pm.  Admission is $10 per car and new this year is a $50 season pass.

With all this activity, you wonder: how will I ever keep track?  Not to fret our beleoved mamas.  The *entire* Summer Concert Series is already on the urbanMamas calendar, and we'll be sure to get up all the aforementioned fun stuffs onto the calendar lickity split.  Have some summer fun to add?  Email us at urbanMamas@gmail.com and tell us: "Put this on the urbanMamas calendar!"

What's On Your Netflix Queue?

May 14, 2008

The deep and heavy parenting topics are great, but sometimes I personally love to compare notes on mindless stuff. The big thought-provoking question for me these days is, what's on your Netflix queue?  I'll share mine, if you share yours.

Do tell, what's on your list?  Any must see movies that should make it to the list, especially those great "mood-inducing" (a.k.a. cheesy romantic movies) favorites?