97 posts categorized "Family Outings"

Weekend Warriors: September 12-14

September 10, 2014

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.

Friday, September 12th

Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. Enjoy, music, dancing, food, cars, and much more at this annual event.  Most events are free. Thursday-Sunday, all day. 

Music with Miss. SaraMag at Rust Coffee Lounge. Sing, dance, and move with this dynamic performer. ASL is incorporated into the show. $5 suggested donation. Friday 10-11am. 

Storytime at Pie Spot with Olive & Dingo. Don't miss stories, songs, and balloon creations with this zany duo. $5 suggested donation. Friday 3-4pm.

La Luna Nueva: Andean Dreams at Milagro Theater. A representation of the Andean world with music and dances inspired by the Quechua literature of the ancient Inca Empire. $12 children under 12; $23 adults. Friday-Sunday 7:30pm. 

Swift Watch at Chapman Elementary. It must be fall! Swift watch is on. Check out this not-to-be missed event every evening in September. Free. Begins one hour before sunset. 

Continue reading "Weekend Warriors: September 12-14" »

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?

Lost child in a crowd: "Where is he?!?"

January 09, 2014

Over the holiday break, a couple of the urbanMamas families were able to get together and had an outing at an amusement park.  

We had four parents and six kids, ranging in age from 4  to 13.  At the ticket booth, there was lots of discussion amongst the kids: who would ride with whom on what ride, which ride they would do first, which rides they did NOT want to do, and how many rides they could accomplish before closing time.  Amongst the mamas, there was discussion too: how many tickets to get for the 4-year olds, how many rides were open (on a limited operation day), how many rides they would fit in before closing.  Add to this, the haunted house stationed directly behind us at the ticket booth (scaring the two 4-year old boys with ghoulish noises and blasts of smoke), and the obnoxiously loud free fall ride, complete with screaming patrons, immediately adjacent to the ticket booth.

Upon purchasing tickets, we distributed them to the older kids and they rushed off.  With them gone, we could focus on the littles and the kiddie rides.  I turned to my 4-yr old and said, "ready to go on the car ride?"  I looked for his other 4-yr old buddy and - realizing he wasn't there - asked my mama friend: "Where is he?"  She said: "WHAT? Oh my god!"  We split and started running in opposite directions, my 4-yr old's little hand firmly in mine.

I dialed my husband, who was with the other dad locking up stuff in cars, and asked: "He wouldn't happen to be with you, would he?"  Response: "What? No! Why?"

We started walking and canvassing.  This boy couldn't have gone far.  He was *just* right there.  Just right *here*.  His mama went to the security office and filed a report.  I took my 4-yr old and said, "Show me where your friend would go.  Would he go in here?"  We went into the gift shop and shouted his name.  "Would he go in here?" We went into the arcade and shouted his name into that dark cave of blinking lights and beeps and honks.  We keep walking and calling his name.  We saw the batch of big kids queue up for the bumper cars, big smiles on their faces, unaware of the circumstances of their little brother.

My husband walked up stairs to the "people mover" ride, for a bird's eye view.  I continued to walk the main floor.  He couldn't have gone far; he couldn't have gone far.  His mama feared the worst, the absolute unthinkable.  Four parents were scouring the place, calling his name, keeping eyes ever alert for the little guy in grey sweatshirt and light blue jeans.  We were all levitating in a place of panic.

I bumped into my husband who was describing the boy to a security guard.  He said, "He's wearing light jeans and a grey sweatshirt..." and I added, "A grey sweatshirt just like THIS!"  Just then, out of the crowd, our lost boy appeared so I could show the security guard exactly what sweatshirt he was wearing.

A sigh of relief, complete and utter relief, about 15 minutes felt like an eternity.  We held on tight until we were all again reunited, our two families for a grand total of ten bodies.  It turns out our little buddy was so bothered by the loud screams and noises of the ride, he just scootched over a bit to get away from the noise.  When he turned around again, he didn't see us, so he walked and walked to try to find us.  Once he reached the end, he turned back and walked toward the entrance.  He heard us calling for him, so he kept walked toward where he heard our voices.

After this whole experience, we all realized we didn't have a plan with our kids on what to do when lost.  What do you advise?  Have you lost your little?  How did you reunite?


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" »

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.

Summer faves: What should we do?

August 19, 2012

I love the summer. Heat wave, string of grey days, whatever. The summer is my fave. And August is typically the month in which I seem to do it all; I start the month with the annual Blogher conference somewhere fantastic (this year was New York City), I spend lots of time with the cross country team I volunteer coach for, I can lots of peaches and tomatoes, I run the Hood-to-Coast race. If I'm lucky, I go camping.


The best thing I did this year was camping with my boys and the cross country team. Both Cleveland's and Grant's teams go each year to Silver Falls State Park a few hours to the south of Portland. It was incredible; not only did the boys and I have a glorious time unplugged, with the usual joys of camping -- cooking over a fire, going days without a screen in front of us, climbing and wading and running and making stacks of pine cones and looking at the stars -- plus (for me) the running and (for the kids) the bonding with a bunch of great teenagers. It was a great give-back for the time I give to the team; they were like a big family, embracing my kids and taking responsibility, and my kids' appetites for being a part of the team throughout the season and when THEY are high schoolers was whetted.

My two older boys are doing Trackers Earth camps this week, and then the summer is almost over! I've done so many things I hoped I'd do, but I know I've probably missed some great things, too. What was your favorite thing this summer? What is the one thing you can't go back to school without experiencing? Is there anything you mourn missing out on?

Summer Street Fairs: sometimes just a pain?

June 04, 2012

A sign of the summer approaching is when you start to see event listings of street fairs or other al fresca fetes occuring on a more regular basis.  Among my favorites in Portland include the Mississippi Street Fair and the Hawthorne Street Fair.  With the advent of Portland's Sunday Parkways, now in its fifth year (wahoo!), some street fairs coincide with the neighborhood's street closure to corroborate the energy and excitement of a street fair coupled with a Sunday Parkway route.

In our new neighborhoods in the East Bay Area, one way we've been started to get to know our new environs is to spend some time at some of our local street fairs.  In the past month, we've gone to the East Bay Bike Coalition's Happy Hour (a street party in Old Oakland celebrating Bike to Work Day), the 12th Annual Park Street Spring Festival (right in our own Alameda's downtown), and First Friday at Jack London Square (a collection of performances, food vendors, artisans, pop-up boutiques on the waterfront, an event that coincides with Oakland's First Friday Art Murmur).

What I love about street fairs is seeing the people in my neighborhood, other families, shop owners, performers, food purveyors.  I love to support craft producers; I love to mingle with others in a dense, closed-off area, let the kids do a little exploring on their own.  The energy is real: other people in the crowd welcome meeting and making a new friend; there is an air of community spirit and comaraderie.  

There are, however, some trends in our street fair experiences that I do not enjoy.  Perhaps it takes us a while to mobilize, leave the house, and make it out to said street fair.  Once there, kids and adults alike might be irritatingly hungry.  Perhaps I haven't packed enough snack food to hold us over to find a proper meal or to wait the long lines at the food vendors.  The food vendor selection might not offer something everyone might want, and there might be complaints as a result.  There may or may not be easily accessible restrooms for our toddler who - when he has to pee - HAS TO GO right then and there.  Perhaps there are just too many people, that results in taking forever to make decisions on what to eat, what booth to visit, or where to situate.  There might be no water fountain in plain sight to refill the water bottles we emptied on the hot bike ride over.  The sun might be going down and suddenly our tank tops leave us shivering with goosebumps on our arms.

Street fairs are a summer right of passage, they are a beacon of the warm days to come, they are a sign of the long days of sunlight that are here.  We all love them.  But: do some of us hate them, too?

Supermoon! Where is the best place to moongaze?

May 05, 2012

Tonight is the Supermoon! Evidently, every once in a while, the moon comes extra close to the earth in its elliptical orbit, and that closest point coincides with a full moon -- it will be closest within a few minutes of the "official moon phase" of its fullness. This makes the moon appear 16% bigger and 30% brighter (or thereabouts) than usual.

(Or, according to National Geographic, "Due to the moon's egg-shaped orbit, there are times when our natural satellite is at perigee—its closest to Earth—and at apogee, its farthest." Hand that off to your high school-aged kids for SAT study.)

Our immediate neighborhood is terrible for moongazing; we're at a flat part west of a very steep hill, so that by the time the moon appears over the apartment building roof to the east of us, it's lost much of its enormity. Also: apartment building roofs do not make for lovely backdrops.

My favorite views of the moon have all been serendipitous; there is an amazing vantage point at the intersection of 39th/Cesar E. Chavez Blvd and Hawthorne, where you can often see the moon slink up behind Mt. Tabor, hanging low and spectacular over the bank (I know. Such romance!).  I've also seen a stunner at the intersection of SE Market and 77th, getting ready to come down the hill to Bridger school. I'm sure the southeast approach to Mt. Tabor, from 73rd Ave, would also be a great place.

Any favorites? Have you watched the moon somewhere stunning? (and if you see it tonight, post pictures! Please!)

The battle I chose to lose: candy vs. road trip

February 22, 2012

"Pick your battles" is often shared as parenting advice.  As parents, it forces us to weigh pros and cons, it forces us to consider the lesser of two evils.  We probably do it every day, multiple times a day.  Sure, why not let them eat cake for breakfast!

Along those lines, I wanted to share my most recent decision.  We were on a family road trip over the long weekend, and we had already exhausted our toddler travel tips & tricks.  Well, what now?  Our toddler scanned our snack bag and found the bag of gummi bears.  I didn't hesitate much to hand over the whole bag, open up, and let him could consume it all while watching a video on one of our smart phones.

Continue reading "The battle I chose to lose: candy vs. road trip" »

When family values collide

November 23, 2011

We spent several days this week with my parents, who I love dearly and who are terrifically loving and patient with my boys. Except for this one thing: Oh My God. My parents consider this "swearing." They are non-negotiable on this point. And my children have been raised in a house where "oh my god" is a far more acceptable phrase than, say, bleep bleep bleep mother bleeper. You get the picture.

My younger two are pretty good at accepting the will of the authority figure. At grandma & grandpa's, they follow the rules most of the time and -- if they were the sort of kids to slip now and again in an exclamation -- it would probably be something else (mama says "sh!t" sometimes. she always apologizes).

Not so my oldest. His faults tend toward the repetitive and the profane. When he's upset, he says "oh my God" and worse. (Note: he has also decided that he doesn't believe in God, which doesn't help his compliance any.) The more horrified the adults around him seem to be, the more he's likely to slip up. His obedience works in inverse proportion to the number and intensity of reminders and explanations.

My mother lost her patience entirely a few times, and there were several consequences meted out. I -- well, we'll say I didn't have the relaxing family togetherness time I'd hoped -- at least, until after the kids fell asleep each night. However I might prefer "OMG" to other things, my parents don't agree, and consider all his exclamations as equally unwanted.

Grateful as I am for a child who speaks his mind to power (he'll lead rebellions one day, I'm sure of it), it's not easy when such seemingly small differences in nuclear family values collide. As you (perhaps) prepare to spend some time with extended family this weekend, are there any particular conflicts between your kids, your partner, or even yourself, and your family members? I had to laugh, a little, when I heard on NPR someone saying that they wouldn't talk about weather patterns any more after a rather heated exchange at dinner with a large family (if we can't talk about the weather -- oh dear!). Is there any way you prepare for these inevitable differences of opinion? Are your families able to talk about it, or is it best to avoid certain toxic combos?

Fiets of Parenthood - For biking families (and bike-curious families!)

August 17, 2011

We would like to invite you all to join us for a family biking extravaganza! This Sunday, August 21 from noon to 4 pm we will be hosting fiets (and feats!!) of family biking like you've never seen before! There will be kiddie and parent races, great prizes, and lots of friends of family biking. All this fun will be happening at Clever Cycles at SE Hawthorne and SE 9th. This year the event will be benefitting Kidical Mass PDX. For more information about the event you can read the event pagefollow parent_fiets on twitter, and read a little more about last year's event. If you feel like you'd like a little company on the way to the event, perhaps you'd like to join in the Kidical Mass Caravan. We hope to see you there!!!

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

July 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

Fiets of Parenthood on a !sunny! Saturday

June 10, 2010


When we planned the date for Fiets of Parenthood, the family bikextravaganza, I didn't realize that we conflicted with a number of things, such as the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade (it's been on the first weekend in June for several years and... I assumed), and a family bike ride in conjunction with Cirque du Cycling. But I also didn't ever really believe that it would be... beautiful! Gorgeous! Sunny!

You're going to want to be outside Saturday after all this wet, wet, oh my goodnesslord, wetness. We hope you can fit in a bunch of extraordinarily fun things, and we hope Fiets of Parenthood will be one of them. It's possible! It's possible for us to plan an event in Portland, in June, with popsicles, and have it be 80 degrees and sunny -- so anything is possible!

Saturday, June 12th, 11-2. We have a Facebook event page if you want to connect there; a Twitter stream; and we have news: both Morrison Child & Family Services and Community Cycling Center will be in attendance, and benefit from sales of t-shirts, stickers, buttons and raffle tickets on the day of the event. Even if you don't think you're up for a friendly competition, there should be plenty to see & connect with. Hope you can come!

Seeking Spring Warmth: A journey from Seattle, WA to Warm Springs, OR

March 26, 2010

We love when we hear that non-PDX mamas are reading!  A Seattle urbanMama recently emailed, seeking your suggestions on an excursion their family is planning:

I am Seattle mama who subscribes to PDX's urbanMamas. We (family with 2 young boys, ages 2 & 5) are going to Kahneeta (Warm Springs, OR) for Spring Break, making the 5 hour trek from Seattle to Warm Springs, OR. [After extensive research it's the warmest place within driving distance at this time of year, we want a vacation, to be warmer but are on a budget so plane travel is out].
Any recommendations on fun things to do en route-- good for car breaks? I was thinking Multnomah Falls but don't really want to head 20 miles off the road. Maybe there is something to do/see/we shouldn't miss off of Hwy 26 in the Mt. Hood area?  It's been surprisingly hard to find any helpful info on the internets via Google searches. Lots of reviews of Kahneeta (we are doing 1 night teepee, 2 nights hotel room, since it will be April) but not so much about the road to and from! Or even things THERE, although it looks like R&R is really the point (pool, mini golf, a few hikes).
Also maybe fellow readers have advice about Kahneeta?

Seeking more summer-esque getaways?  Consider these suggestions from Tony at Milagros.

Baby, it's cold outside (sometimes): Where to birthday party?

February 17, 2010

I have had occasion to pat myself on the back for "scheduling" (hehe) my children's birthdays in the generally warmer months. But still, it's Portland! So, even in April, a birthday cannot be expected to be held out-of-doors. We've chosen to hold most of our birthday parties around the house; but for big celebrations, it doesn't really work (and who wants to clean?). Andy asks:

I was just wondering if any of you wise mamas out there had suggestions for places to have birthday parties during these cold, rainy months. Both of my kids are blessed with winter birthdays. When they were young we would just have small family gatherings at our house but now that they are a little older and want to invite more friends it just doesn't work out to have it at home, where the kids end up running in circles around our very small house. We'd like to avoid having it at Chuck E Cheese for many reasons, but don't have a huge budget to rent expensive spaces, especially given that their birthdays are just a month apart. Do you have any suggestions of places to hold small-ish birthday parties that won't break the bank?

I'd love to hear ideas, as my soon-to-be-eight-year-old has demanded a biggish party, with friends, this year. Our birthday party category turns up recommendations for a two-year-old's party; a post about indoor climbing gyms, with ideas for parties there; a good word for the Academy Theatre's birthday parties; and thoughts from those who have had parties at the Children's Museum. I'd love to hear your other ideas, especially those with less cost-per-partygoer!

Car-free Peacock Lane tonight

December 14, 2009


The Peacock Lane lights display is a favorite from as far back in my childhood as I can remember. It's only the second year, however, that the event has had an official car-free night; the evening before "opening day" is reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists (and rollerbladers, skateboarders, or other modes of transport without engines).

This year, it won't be nearly as frigid as last year and I'm hoping I'll convince my boyfolk to go. It starts at 6 p.m. tonight and goes through 11 (as if any parents stay up that late on a school night! ;)... will you be there? My advice, if you go: bring a thermos of hot cocoa and perhaps a few home-baked cookies. And if you're not on bikes, Trimet is very convenient; one year we got off at one end, walked the length of the lane, and got back on the bus at the other end. Like a limo, but cheaper...

temperate parents, dealing with cold weather, whoa!

December 10, 2009

Tuesday was the first day I'd had to take the kids out on the bike in this cold, cold weather and I did a great job of bundling. Hats, scarves, double layers of pants and socks, mittens... I was so proud of myself! I sat Monroe and Truman on the back of my mamabikeorama and headed off to preschool. Luckily the road was open, because a few blocks away from school my load suddenly got much lighter and my bike wobbled. Monroe, trying to hold on with his fat slippery mittens, had fallen off.

So that was the first bloody face of the cold snap. His lip and chin were scraped, but he'd recovered enough to be put back on the bike (in the bike seat between my handlebars for good until the weather changes, I decided) after about 10 minutes. Our second bloody face came Wednesday, when Truman decided to check to see what his dad meant, exactly, by "that spot that looks wet is actually icy." He came home to me with the worst bloody nose I've seen in years.

It must be easier for parents of more regularly frozen climes; are they born with an innate knowledge of how to adjust to the cold? I feel so inept. I'm glad I've learned these lessons (no slippery mittens on the back of the Xtracycle, hold a kid's hand the first time he discovers an ice hazard) without permanent injury. I've been scouring thrift stores for snow boots and kids' ski pants and wishing I was more prepared. How have you been dealing with the cold weather? Are you finding any of your regular rhythms awkwardly (or delightfully) changed? Is there any gear you love and can't do without? Have you been surprised with any bloody lessons?

One thing I love is how thrilled the boys are every day when they go outside to ice crystals and frost in the shadows, it's magic to them and I confess to longing for last year's snowy quiet.

Nutcracker Round-Up 2009

December 03, 2009

It's that time of year again.  For many families, watching a Nutcracker production is part of the holiday ritual.  The Oregon Ballet Theatre, of course, offers the premier show in town, but ticket prices are at a premium.  OBT's proudction runs throughout the season, from December 12 through the 27th, with shows on Thursdays (shows at 7:30), Fridays (shows at 7:30), Saturdays (shows at 2pm and 7:30pm), and Sundays (shows at 1pm and 5:30pm).  From what we can tell, tickets run from $17 to $130.  This year, OBT is offering the opportunity to sponsor a child and send him/her to see the show for $15.

How about some other productions and dance companies?  Here is what we've found so far.  Feel free to add others we missed and check out last year's round up, too.

  • Columbia Dance performs December 18 through the 20th with shows at 7pm (Friday), 2pm and 7pm (Saturday), and 1pm and 5pm (Sunday).  Peformance to be held at the Royal Durst Theatre in Vancouver, WA; tickets are $15 (adults) and $10 (children under 12).  12/18 thru 20. Vancouver
  • Vancouver Dance Theatre performs this weekend, December 4 through the 6th with shows at 7pm (Friday, and Sunday) and 2pm (Saturday and Sunday).  Performance to be held at Fort Vancouver High School; tickets are $15 (adults) and $10 (children under 18).  They even have a discount coupon on the website!
  • Classical Balley Academy performs this weekend also, December 5 and 6 with shows at 2:30pm (Sat and Sun) and 7pm (Saturday only).  Performance to be held at St. Mary's Academy (downtown PDX); tickets are $17 (adults) and $12 (children under 9).
  • NW Dance Theatre presents the "Nutcracker Tea" December 18 through 20 with sows at 7pm (Friday and Saturday), 1pm (Sunday), 2 (Saturday), and 5PM (Sunday).  Performance to be held at PCC Sylvania; tickets range from $10 to $26.   Complimentary refreshments to be served!

Wordstock: a gift for Portland's bookish families

October 11, 2009

I ran into Sarah Hart, a friend whose husband is the director of the annual Wordstock festival, yesterday. She was brimming with enthusiasm, and it was all for her son: 'I have to get him to Laini Taylor!' she said, checking the guide I had open to Saturday's schedule. I made a note of it; soon, my children will be reading young adult fiction, and Sarah's son -- and other teenagers like him -- at Wordstock this weekend are key to discovering the next great kidlit gems.

The Wordstock festival, a fairly new entrant into the Portland fair-festival-convention-happenin' scene, is a gift for bookish families like mine. This year's focus on young adult fiction is particularly great; the Target Children's Stage is packed with talented authors that will surely be the devotion of our kids in years to come. A day's ticket for an adult is only $5, and children 13 and under are free. Here are a few highlights you may want to check out today:

11 a.m. -- Eric Kimmel and Amy Costales
. Eric has written 100 books, and his mythology-focused children's books like Anansi and the Magic Stick are 'funny' and silly' and beautifully illustrated. Amy is the author of Abuelita Full of Life, a bilingual and multicultural author whose book is described as 'sweet' and 'gentle.

Noon -- Nicole Rubel and Chris Dudley.
Chris is a former NBA star who wrote Chris Dreams Big, about his childhood struggle with diabetes. But I'm more excited about Nicole, whose Rotten Ralph series about a naughty kitty is very popular among young children.

1 p.m. Jennifer Holm, Matthew Holm and Addie Boswell. Jennifer and Matthew, a brother-and-sister writing team, write the Babymouse series, of a "a sassy young mouse who dreams of glamour, excitement, adventure, straight whiskers, being queen of the world," targeted at grade school-aged girls. Addie Boswell is a Portland author and artist who has written Rain Stomper, a book that looks a little like an updated version of Ramona Quimby.

2 p.m. April Henry and Sundee T. Frazier.
April is a local celebrity: a best-selling author of mysteries for teens and adults. Sundee has written Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It, an award-winning book about a biracial boy who loves science.

5 p.m. Heather Vogel Frederick. Heather's Mother-Daughter Book Club series is very popular and Heather says it "fills her need for a daughter -- I've got two boys!"

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" »

In which I drive a hybrid Ford for a weekend

June 16, 2009

Most of you know my family is fully car-free (we finally got rid of our three-years-lying-fallow car last month). And at least one of you expressed shock to hear I was test-driving a Ford Escape hybrid this past weekend. Was the world coming to an end? No, the people in Ford's social media group are working to create buzz about their hybrids by offering 'em to mama bloggers for test drives, and I was an eager participant. So was my husband, who, though he was weaned from his mother's chauffeur services on his 10-speed, and actually spent some time in the early '90s as a bike messenger, is a bit of a car addict.

One of the reasons I was eager to forgo our car was his nasty habit of driving to Trader Joe's... three blocks away. But when we found out he'd be going to Iraq this summer; changing our financial situation from just north of "desperate" to a few ticks shy of "flush," he began to sneak this phrase into conversation: "I've been thinking when I come back, we could use some of my money to get a hybrid..." Or this one: "If I get that job as a cop I could drive to work in a hybrid..."

"No!" I'd say, firmly. "No cars!" I love the money we save, $200-300 per month just in gas, insurance and tags; I love that we have to think carefully about all our bike trips, keeping us closer to home; I love my conscience, clean as the air around me as I bike. I've made a significant reduction in my workload so I can spend more time with the kids, in the garden, cooking food; we don't have room in that budget for even the barest car expense. I don't want that to change.

But. I'm all for a test drive. Just to see. Thursday morning, some nice people from Ford delivered us the sparkliest Escape Hybrid you've ever seen. I immediately hopped in with Truman and Monroe to pick up some film on the way to preschool (an impossible task on the bike; my fave film store is Citizen's Photo, about 4 miles from home). They leave us with a rundown on our car... $33,725 including "destination and delivery" for the model in our driveway. But "THIS VEHICLE NOT FOR SALE," said the page. At least there's that...

Continue reading "In which I drive a hybrid Ford for a weekend" »

Kids and the world, can't we all just get along?

April 28, 2008

For some reason I've been reading a lot of people's opinions lately about when, and where, it's "appropriate" to take your children; and how many people, even parents themselves, often wish children weren't around. Earlier this week at a knitting event, Larissa had a particularly ugly run-in with a woman who evidently was in the "children should be neither seen nor heard" camp, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who was speaking during the whole brouhaha) weighed in on her blog.

While it was long and, in the Yarn Harlot's particular style, a bit self-effacing and entirely funny, it was also just about the most honest and lovely and graceful statement about how adults and children should interact in public (no matter where or when they are) that I've read in some time. It made me feel a little bit better about the other night, when my two older boys, a little wired from being tired and hungry, crawled back and forth under our table at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant (La Bamba on Powell, where the servers are always lovely and indulgent). They disrupted no one but me and the older couple sitting next to us couldn't have been more generous about it. "We had young children once!" they said gaily.

Continue reading "Kids and the world, can't we all just get along?" »

Favorite Must-Do Holiday Event

November 24, 2007

If there is one "must see" or "must do" event this holiday season, what would it be?  What would you recommend?  Sara wants to know! She writes:

I'd like to take my 3-year-old to one splurge-y holiday-season event this year, like a dance, music, or theater performance. My budget is tight, so I'm hoping Urban Mamas will help me identify the single Very Best Event! She loves music and dancing and stories, and will sit through engaging performances for an hour or so, but obviously it can't be too long or too boring-for-kids.

Mamas: Your best free activities & low-cost shopping?

October 29, 2007

For some of us, low-cost living is the reality.  We just don't have dual incomes or excess funds to go around.  Even when we are pinching pennies, there is still plenty to do with the kids.  We are sure of it!  What are your favorite free haunts?  Where do you go?  What about for household or children's items?  Where can you find decent quality, low-cost goods?  An urbanMama emails:

Can you give me ideas for how to go out and about (or stay in!) with my 3 kids (ranging 3-12) without spending money - or spending very little?!  I am up-to-speed with the library and the parks, but need more inspiration!  Also, shopping suggestions - both for household and childrens stuff.  Thanks (ps. the naked mamas party was a huge help!)

Leave the Kids at Home!

September 11, 2007

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

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

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

See the Swifts at Chapman Elementary

September 10, 2007

We had a surprise picnic on Saturday to see the birds - Vaux's Swifts to be exact- at Chapman Elementary.

The Swift Watch happens every night this time of year until about the end of the month. As dusk nears the sky fills with hundreds and then THOUSANDS of birds. They dart this way and that and fall into formation, creating a huge funnel cloud of wings that pivots around Chapman Elementary's enormous chimney. Then, without warning, ALL of swifts fly INTO the chimney! The flock is so dense that from a distance it must look like smoke is flowing back to its source.

Pack a picnic, brings a big sheet of cardboard  - yes, you heard me right :), dress for the weather and get out there soon because this odd evening dance typically ends by September 26. Find out more about the Chapman Swift Watch on the Audubon Society website.

Going to Seattle!

August 24, 2007

Thuan is seeking all your wisdom on visiting that larger Pacific Northwest city to the north of us:

We've lived here five years and I'm ashamed to admit we've only been to Seattle once since we moved here. But don't despair for us, because we're taking Amtrak to Seattle for Labor Day Weekend! I'm super excited, but I am realizing that I don't know have any idea where to stay, what to do, especially outings that are baby-friendly. Anyone feel fluent in all things Seattle?

Also has anyone taken Amtrak with babe in tow?  Should I bother bringing a carseat (we didn't purchase her a seat) or will we be fine walking around with her for FOUR hours??  Should I purchase Pippi a seat?

Getaway to Cannon Beach

August 23, 2007

One thing we absolutely love about Portland is how close we are to so many easy getaways: down to southern Oregon, in search of sun, camping, resorts in Columbia Gorge, central Oregon, and so many other amazing family outings.  Sadie Rose is thinking about a Cannon Beach getaway:

I have another question on a totally unrelated topic. My mom, grandma, and brother are all coming to visit in late september, and I'd love to do a weekend getaway to Cannon Beach. If anyone knows of any good rentals and such I'd love to hear some recommendations, rather than just wing it.

Heading South

August 22, 2007

The fleeting days of summer are upon us.  Many of us will be out on our last trips of the summer: road trips, coastal trips, camping, and more.  Rae Ann is driving down to Southern Oregon and is looking for kid-happy suggestions of diversions along the way:

My in-laws live in Ashland (I know, lucky us!), so we find ourselves trekking south rather frequently - we're headed there on vacation next week.  Now that our kids are 2 1/2 and 15 months, we find ourselves having to stop a little more frequently to accommodate their short, restless legs.  Instead of hitting up every other rest stop, I'm wondering if anyone out there has some favorite hole in the wall restaurants, coffee shops, or parks that are right off the 5, kid-friendly, and provide a break from the cramped confines of the car.

Summer Sun Seeking

August 15, 2007

The weather this summer has been, well...a little disappointing. There have been many more cloudy days than we have been used to. Normally our summer trips include excursions to the mountains and the coast to escape the hot days of Portland - including occasional triple digit temp days. This year we have been escaping TO the sun.

Here is what we have discovered within a couple hours of Portland. Beyond escaping dreary summer days these will be potential sun escape options for fall and spring:

Kah Nee Ta Resort

This resort/casino on the Warm Springs Reservation is pretty family friendly. We stayed in the lodge and although there is a casino, the entrance is separate from other accommodations so you don't even need to know the casino exists - unless you WANT to know...

Pluses: 20 miles from ANYTHING with sweeping desert views from every lodge room. The lodge has a sauna, steam room, work out room and pool for guests and wifi access by the dramatic fireplace. The Village area of the resort has an enormous pool that is spring-fed and great for kids. Other amenities include a spa, kayak rentals/outings, horseback excursions, golfing (and mini-golf for kids), and nearby hiking trails.

Minuses: 20 miles from ANYTHING which limits your food options to what is on-site.  The food is fine and reasonably priced (breakfast was included as part of the High Desert Escape Package that we booked) BUT there are limited options for vegetarians - vegans may be completely out of luck. The Chinook Room has a kid's menu.

Tips: Bring a cooler with items for lunches and snacks. Do NOT forget the sunscreen and use it liberally. For a little vegetarian variety when dining in The Chinook Room, ask to have the Longhouse Salad which is on the menu for The Juniper Room next door (they share a kitchen). At breakfast ask to substitute fry bread for toast. Rooms are 50 percent off August 26 - 30 and September 3 - 6!

A few family camping options east of the mountains we have visited - within a couple hours of Portland:

Columbia Hills State Park

Pluses: Swim. kayak, and fish in Horsethief Lake, enjoy boat access to the Columbia, hike and climb at Horsethief Butte, and see the petroglyphs and pictographs saved from Petroglyph Canyon (which disappeared under water when The Dalles Dam was built). Few day-use folks and small, comfortable campground makes for a relaxed time. Very close to The Dalles if you forgot something.

Minuses: Camping is first come, first serve but the campground is small - less than 20 sites, the only restrooms are porta-potties (they are building a new bath/shower house), you need to drive to trail heads, and like all camping in the Gorge itself train noise is a nightly occurrence and it can get VERY windy.

Tips: Try to get there around "check-out" (noon-1 pm) to secure a camping spot. Bring earplugs for sleeping (although I recommend this for ALL campgrounds). Stretch your legs in Hood River on the way there or back.

Maryhill State Park

Pluses: Sites may be reserved in advance, you can enjoy the bizarre juxtaposition of enjoying a view of Mt. Hood and of Stonehenge, easy access to the Maryhill Art Museum, swimming and fishing on the Columbia, tour farms and vineyards in the area, showers and restrooms on site (bring quarters for the showers!).

Minuses: The swimming area is small and not that appealing, the wind protection is limited, and there is no real hiking to speak of on site. As noted, all camping in the Gorge itself means train noise at night and possible high winds. Same Tips as Columbia Hills.

Cove Palisades State Park

Pluses: Sites - including cabins - may be reserved in advance, great swimming, boating and fishing on Lake Billy Chinook, 10 miles of hiking trails in the area and plenty of boulders to climb on.

Minuses: Very popular day use area so the number of people and level of boat traffic on the weekends can be significant, weekdays are more subdued. Longer drive from PDX than the above options.

Tips: Take a break on the banks of the Deschutes River on the way there (there is access near Warm Springs). If you want a significant break, spend a couple of hours at The Museum at Warm Springs and learn about the cultural, traditional and artistic heritage of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Let us know your local sun-seeking suggestions as well!

Riding the Rails

August 08, 2007

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

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

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

Mid-Summer Thoughts: Concerts in the Park

July 23, 2007

A few weeks of concerts are now behind us - be it concerts at the parks, Kruger's farm concerts, Zoo concerts.  In the past few weeks, we've seen triple digit temps and rain, which has definitely affected whether we pack the picnic or not.  Last week on a rainy Wednesday, we decided to brave the weather and hope for the best: we hit Peninsula Park for some 'hot 20s jazz'.  The rain decided to stay away, but the concert was cancelled for good measure anyway.  It was just as well: we caught up with old friends and spent the evening picnicking right on the stage.

In the past few weeks, we have picnicked at Sellwood Park, Fernhill Park, Peninsula Park.  We've had several evening jaunts at Jamison, too, of course!  We have found that we all enjoy it most when:  1) the play area is within line of sight from the grassy area so the kids can play while parents catch up on the picnic blanket, 2) we are able to position ourselves in the spot that is just-so -- not too close to the music so we can still catch up with friends, and 3) we have enough provisions for the hungry picnickers.  For these reasons, we have enjoyed our concerts at Fernhill - with the merry-go-round in plain sight from the parents' perch on the grass - even though Peninsula Park is more of our neighborhood park.

So, we ask: Which parks have been great for you and your picnicking family?  What's in your picnic basket?  (We typically have tofu slices, prosciutto, grapes, straweberries, baguette, cheese, water, wine)  How many concerts in the outdoors have you hit so far this season?  How early do you get to the park - a little early to score the perfect spot or after the first set has already begun?

Travelin' with Tots

July 16, 2007

A trip to paradise for most people rarely conjures what most parents face as the realities of traveling with a toddler and an infant. But due to my brother's wedding, we found ourselves taking the leap with our two sons Dash (age 3) and Juna (age 3 months) to fly to Hawaii. After much consultation with fellow parents and the internet we settled on two groundrules. Pack light. Be flexible.

Pack Light:
We found a discount on a time share in a family-oriented condo on ebay because a family just like ours couldn't face the "getting there.." a 16 hour itinerary from the east coast. It made our 6 hour flight seem like a piece of cake! Despite everyone's warnings about packing light--which we thought we'd heeded--we still found ourselves saddled. The bags packed, included our one shared bag that contained t-shirts and swimming suits plus wedding outfits. Then there was the 48 lb food bag--upon everyone's advise about the cost of food in HI was to bring a host of dry goods to last 2 weeks. Had we surpassed the 50 lb limit our "savings" would have been lost in the extra fees to lug such a big bag!

Then there was the "magic" bag filled with plane surprises for our 3 yr old we hoped would be enough to keep him from kicking the seats of the unsuspecting passengers near us or going awol at the flight attendants snack area; the "Baby Bear" flight harness, sling, and two car seats--enough "tie 'em down" equipment for any self respecting parent to use in the name of safety or tantrum control; snacks; mini DVD player (yes we saccumbed to borrowing one!); a hopeful adult book; and diaper bag and whew this was supposed to be a vacation?

Boatbrothers Be flexible:
Letting our 3 yr old stay up until he passed out on the couch in order to insure a good nap on the plane the next day. Turns out he was just tired and wired the whole trip and the day lasted longer because it's 3 hours earlier when we arrive. Both boys woke us up at their usual time (7:30 mainland time) which just happened to be 4:30 am Hawaii time.

As we arrived at the airport I saw another couple we knew also braving the same flight. Mom looked like she'd just been through a sleepless night in hell -- and dad quickly came over and whispered his one feverish wish--to have a single moment alone with his wife...now that would be paradise.

Lost in translation: If you shop at New Seasons then Hawaii prices won't scare you. Don't bother bringing food. Shop at the local farmers market where you can get 7 papayas for a $1 or pick up mangoes and avacados for free outside your condo. And strangely (and so politically incorrect!), Costco and Walmart are the easiest places to get basic dry goods for cheap.


What are your favorite travel tips for parents?

The Henderson Family

Family Disco Party!

July 10, 2007

Need to shake your booty while Baby Loves Disco is on summer hiatus? Well mark you calendars and get ready to dance while supporting a wonderful organization. As a celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, La Leche League of Portland is hosting a Family Dance Party:

Sunday August 5th from 2pm-5pm
at the North Star Ballroom
635 N. Killingsworth Ct, Portland, OR

The LLL Family Dance Party is a family event. Adults must be accompanied by a child!DJ’d dance music, bubbles floating over the the dance floor, face painting, and healthy snacks and drinks for kids and adults.

Advance tickets are only $7 each for dancers 12 and over (kids under 12 are FREE!). Purchase your tickets on-line here!

Concerts in the Park

July 02, 2007

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

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

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

Camping Virgin

June 20, 2007

Last year, we had a great thread on Family Friendly Campgrounds. Heather emails with a twist to the family camping adventure, seeking suggestions for places to rent a trailer and great places to take it:

I am a mother of a very active three year old son. My husband and I would like to attempt our first camping trip. We are far from being outdoorsy. My idea of a vacation is staying in a five star hotel with room service! But I think it would be a great getaway for our family and I would like to start some traditions on our own. Ideally, we would like to tow or drive a smallish camper somewhere not to far out of Portland. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to rent a trailer and great places to take it? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Portland Swimming Holes

June 18, 2007

Here in Portland, we do love our urbanFountains such as Jamison Square.  But, Kristin is looking for your suggestions on swimming holes:

I have very fond summertime memories of swimming in a lake near my childhood home in Montana, and want to give my kids the same type of experience. Do any mamas have great recommendations about swimming holes around Portland?

Git yer strawberries!

May 29, 2007

Before the blueberries, there are strawberries. Where do you go? Sauvie Island or elsewhere? Sarah emails:

I'm looking for recommendations for u-pick strawberries, preferably organic or minimally treated. we've been to Kruger's on Sauvie Island but I'm not sure of their pesticide policy... does anyone know or know of other good places to pick with kids?

Hike The Coast!

May 24, 2007

A while back we posted a list of some of our favorite Gorge Hikes. Here is another quick reference list for family hiking on the Oregon Coast. There are PLENTY more to choose from but hopefully this provides a few ideas. Listed from North to South:

Tillamook Head: This trail gains quite a bit of elevation (about 900 feet) so it can be challenging for the kids but you will be following in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition! You can access this trail from the north in Seaside (parking is free) or from the south in Cannon Beach at Ecola Park (day use fee). Really a great trail but be prepared for many rest stops and it is recommended for older kids who may enjoy the historical connection as well as the natural beauty.

Cape Falcon and Neahkahnie Mountain Trails: Both of these hikes can be accessed from Oswald West State Park. The hike to Cape Falcon leads through a coastal forest and ends at the top of the cape. It is about 3 miles round-trip.

Neahkahnie Mountain is the only peak on the north coast that rises directly above the sea. You can travel on the trail through the woods and past the Devil’s Caldron back to the highway. If you make the return trip from this point the total hike is about 2.5 miles. If you want to continue up the mountain, cross the highway and be prepared for an elevation gain of about 1200 feet over the two miles to the top. But you will enjoy spectacular views of the ocean when you get to the summit (do it on a clear day!). Take US 101 to Oswald West State Park (about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach). No fee.

Munson Creek Falls: Not right on the coast but only about 8 miles from Tillamook this is the highest waterfall in the Coast Range. Dropping over 300 feet, the falls are a dramatic sight and the hike is an easy ½ mile each way. Take US 101 about six miles South of Tillamook and then head east on Munson Creek Road for 2 miles. No fee. If you like waterfall hikes, check out this recent article in Oregon Coast Today.

Cape Lookout: Cape Lookout is one of the best whale-watching sites on the Oregon Coast. The ideal whale watch season is winter but there are hundreds of gray whales that stay off the Oregon Coast in the summer, so you may still see one this time of year. The hike is about 5 miles round-trip. Go to Cape Lookout State Park  located off of US 101, 11 miles southwest of Tillamook to access the trail head. Day use fee.

Cascade Head Trail: This one is on our to-do list. Mainly because it offers access to an area that is home to the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly as well as a variety of rare wildflowers. The trail is six miles one way and can be accessed from the north or south. Both trail heads are off of US 101 a little south of Neskowin, Oregon.

804 Trail: This is an old road that is now part of the Oregon Coast Trail. It starts at Smelt Sands Park in Yachats. It passes a lovely rocky coastline that is great for exploring – especially at low tide – and ends at a seemingly endless sandy beach. Level, easy and about 1.5 miles round trip. Turn west on Lemwick Street just after you enter Yachats on US 101. No fee.

Cape Perpetua Hikes: There are many to choose from in the area. All are perfect for kids. Take the St. Perpetua Trail up to the lookout (about 3 miles round trip). Although up hill there are plenty of views early on to keep the motivation going.

Other trails in the area include provide access to the blowhole near Cooks Chasm (plan your trip for high tide) and to a giant sitka spruce. Both of these hikes are level and easy and only about two miles round trip. All of these trails can be started from the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center located 2 miles south of Yachats on US 101. Day use fee.

Heceta Head Lighthouse: This area is just a little north of the Sea Lion Caves. The beach next to the parking area is a great spot for a picnic, wading in the water, and kite flying. The trail to the lighthouse is only ½ mile (1 mile roundtrip) and you may be able to enjoy a tour of the lighthouse at the top. On US 101 about 13 miles north of Florence. Day use fee.

Happy trails!


Exploring Oregon Coast Tidepools

May 20, 2007

Img_0378Oregon's coastline provides a mix of sandy beaches and rocky headlands. This mix creates a lot of opportunity to see a rich mix of sea life in coastal tidepools. Tidepools are found all along the 350+ mile coastline but many great viewing areas are easily accessible from state park and public scenic areas.

We were recently in Yachats and spent a few mornings exploring tide pools in the area. We enjoyed seeing chitons, snails, limpets, barnacles, sea stars, mussels, anemones, crabs and more!  But there are many tidepool areas even closer to Portland including:

1) Ecola State Park - About two miles north of Cannon Beach. This area also offers access to the Clatsop Loop Trail which connects with the Tillamook Head Trail that we explored this February - a good trail for older children due to the elevation gain and length.

2) Oswald West State Park - About 10 miles south of Cannon Beach just off the 101. This is also one of our favorite camping spots and there is some great hiking in the area including a hike to Cape Falcon (about 3.5 miles round trip, uphill getting to the top but still a nice family hike).

3) Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge - 10 miles west of Tillamook on the Three Capes Loop. Added bonuses are touring the lighthouse and the vistas in the area.

4) Cape Lookout - About 18 miles south of Tillamook also on the Three Capes Loop. There is a family-friendly campground at this park as well.

If you are going to explore tide pools, be ready to get wet, wear some sensible shoes - maybe even some gloves, and be ready to do some scrambling on rocks to find some wonderful surprises!

Consult a tide table and plan your exploration to coincide with low tide - which means being on the coast in the morning. Watch out for exposed animals as you walk along. For the best viewing, head for the lowest tide pools that are closest to the ocean. In the lowest pools, you are likely to see the most activity as well as the greatest variety of animals. But be mindful of the tide location and of the ocean at all times - don’t let yourself get stranded or surprised by a rogue wave.

When viewing the pools, tread lightly and be respectful of the animals. Don’t pry any animals from their locations. A gentle touch on a sea star by a curious little girl (or excited adult) is not entirely out of line but try to avoid touching of the animals as much as possible.

Also, these are great areas for a picnic, so pack a meal to enjoy once your exploring is over. When you are ready to go, leave everything where you find it - except for garbage! Pack out any trash that you find (or any trash that you brought). It is never too early to instill some outdoor ethics in your kids.

One final practical item to keep in mind, many - but not all - parks require a day use fee. If you are going to hit more than a couple of parks/areas that require a fee, consider getting an Oregon Pacific Coast Passport which will give you unlimited access for 5 days for only $10. Have fun!


When Mama meets Mama

May 18, 2007

It can be really difficult to meet new people.  It's even more difficult when you're busy tending to your child(ren).  Conversations are difficult to hold and a child somehow senses when you are trying to talk, and usually (inadvertently) thwarts your efforts to keep your attention on said conversation.  Gaia is looking to get past the first awkward (and distracted) hellos at the park and find a mama's group nearby:

I am a young mother and hardly know any other moms in the area.  I live in SE on mt tabor with my daughter who is 7 months.  We love taking walks and spending time outdoors in the nice spring weather.  Also a nice cup of tea is always good on a rainy day! I'd love to learn about a mom's group in my neighborhood or somewhere in the SE area.

Special Mother Day's Event

May 07, 2007

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

2-for-1 Tickets for The Sippy Cups

April 20, 2007

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

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

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

Tip Toeing...

April 12, 2007

Tulips1_2 We headed out the to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm yesterday to enjoy the annual Tulip Festival.

The tulip field is at its peak right now and was absolutely beautiful. They haven't had to do much topping of the flowers so most of the field is full and in full bloom.

In addition to the fields they have a kids area with slides, horse swings, rubber duck races, and more. They also have a "cow train" which is a train of cars shaped like cow that snake through the fields ($2 per person). There were a couple of food vendors but we packed a lunch and enjoyed a picnic with a view of the fields. On the weekends, there are more activities including a craft fair, pony rides, and special entertainment.

The Wooden Shoe Farm is about a 45 minute drive from Portland. Directions may be found on the Tulip Festival Website. Tulip festival admission is free on weekdays, $5 per car on weekends.

urbanEaster stories

April 09, 2007

We served up an Easter full of very cute chicks and very pastel-colored Easter candy. I didn't even color eggs this year as my heart belongs to my future urbanChicken eggs! And, though one or two came highly recommended, we didn't make it to any Easter egg hunts. We ended up at a lovely-but-packed service at the beautiful St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church (across from Trader Joe's in the Hollywood District), where we were happy to see lots of children.

Now, as I look at photos of other children around the world finding their eggs, I'm wishing maybe we had. Did you do an organized Easter egg hunt this year? Would you recommend it for next year's Easter celebrants? Did you find an even better holiday tradition to follow? Please add your favorite pictures to our flickr group; tag them 'urbanEaster' and I'll include some in a mosaic later this week!

The at-home gardening vacation

Today, I am recovering from my week-long vacation.
[photo credits: 1-4 cafemama; 5 fionnsnana; 6 trillium~mama]

It's not a typical recovery though. Usually after a vacation, I'm feeling shell-shocked from the impact on my bank account and exhausted from late nights and lots of bag schlepping. Not this time: I took an at-home gardening vacation. It was an idea born of necessity (husband in Kansas for reserve duty, tight budget, etc.) and last-minute plans -- my boss is going on maternity leave starting Wednesday so this was my chance! But I'd recommend it highly to anyone else who works a vibrantly engaging job (i.e., I think about it every minute) and rarely takes vacation.

More important than the whole r&r thing, I have a sense of accomplishment and a foundation that will allow me to do little things throughout the spring and summer to maintain -- and fully develop -- my yard. I feel a little less awful when I hear those gloomy tales of climate change on the BBC late at night (gardening is good for the planet!). It gave me a chance to just spend time in the dirt with the boys, a rare opportunity as I'm soon to be devoted to a new human being. This definitely ranks up high in recharging potential alongside "leave the kids with grandma for a week while you go somewhere alone" (something my mom suggested and she did, herself, when we were young) and "long weekend with your favorite urbanMamas and their families." What vacations have you found the most satisfying? Any local destinations or activities to recommend?

Get Yer Boots On!

April 01, 2007

There are many wonderful hiking options in the Columbia Gorge, here is a quick list of some of our favorite Gorge trails that are within an hour drive of Portland. We have included options that should work for families of any variety of ability and experience. FYI- we are hosting another "Family Adventuring 101" discussion at the store on April 25:

Bridal Veil Falls: Bridal Veil Falls State Park has a nature trail and a trail to the falls. Both are short and easy - less than a mile. The trail to the falls is steep in parts but still fine for kids of any age. Getting There: Exit 28 off I-84, head west on the Historic Columbia Highway for about 1 mile, the park will be on the right hand side.

Latourell Falls: A couple miles west of Bridal Veil on the Historic Columbia Highway is Latourell Falls. These falls plunge from a height of 250 feet. An easy 2 mile loop trail is accessible from the parking lot on the at Guy W. Talbot State Park. Fine for kids of any age. The loop ends on the road so be careful of cars when you finish up. Getting There: Exit 28 off I-84 head 3.4 miles west on the Historic Columbia Highway. The park will be on the left hand side.

Angels Rest: This one is for older kids. It is quite steep and the “pay-off” isn’t until the end, so younger ones may get a little restless. I hiked it with a friend’s six year-old and he held up great and was very proud of his accomplishment. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the top while taking in the incredible view. 4.6 miles roundtrip. Getting There: Exit 28 off I-84, the parking lot for the trailhead is right at the junction for the Historic Columbia Highway shortly after you get off the I-84.

Multnomah Falls - Wahkeena Falls Loop: I have hiked this loop countless times. I have hiked it many times with Mila on my back but she hasn’t pulled off the whole thing under her own power yet. She has made the hike up to Multnomah Falls and I hope to try this loop with her again this summer. Overall I think this hike should be fine for a five or six year old with some hiking experience.

It is a nice hike with views of the Gorge along the way. The steepest section being the hike up to the top of Multnomah (about a mile). From there you go over a stone bridge. Don’t go on the closed Perdition Trail. Head up the Larch Mountain Trail (441) to the junction with the Wahkeena Falls Trail (420). Once you hit the Wahkeena Trail, head east past a junction with trail 419 (you can take that trail to the north to shorten the hike slightly) and then downhill past Fairy Falls (a lovely sight) to Wahkeena Falls. Once you are at the base of Wahkeena Falls, take the Gorge Trail (400) back to the Multnomah Falls parking area. The total hike is about 5 miles. Getting There: I-84 East to Exit 30 Multnomah Falls.

Horsetail Falls to Ponytail Falls: The neat part of this hike is going behind the falls. This is an easy hike although the initial section is steep. From the base of Horsetail Falls head up to Ponytail Falls (also known as Upper Horsetail Falls). The trail goes into a basalt cave behind Ponytail. The trip to Ponytail and back is only 1 mile and an east trek for young hikers. Fine for kids of any age. You can continue on the lovely Oneonta Trail from Ponytail if you would like a longer hike. Getting There: I-84 East to Exit 35 head west on the Historic Columbia Highway about 1.5 miles. The parking lot is on the right, the trailhead will be on the left.

Wahcella Falls: This is a family favorite. The trail follows Tanner Creek and although it has a couple steep parts, it stays relatively level. The falls at the end of the trail are lovely and the trip is only 1 mile each way. Mila has been walking this one by herself since she was 2. We combine this hike with checking out the fish at Bonneville Dam. Getting There: I-84 to Exit 40. Take a right off of the exit, the trailhead is right there. A Northwest Forest Pass is required or a day pass may be purchased at the trailhead.

Eagle Creek - Punchbowl Falls: Whenever friends come to visit Oregon for the first time and want to take a hike, I take them to Eagle Creek. It is a spectacular trail that passes countless waterfalls and offers stunning canyon views.The trail itself is a unique piece of work with expansive bridges, ledges carved into cliffs, and a tunnel behind “Tunnel Falls” (about 6 miles down the trail).

Parts of this trail requires some surefooted work. The more precarious sections have a cable handrail. Definitely not a trail for a large group of kids, individual kids not in a listening mood, or anytime the trail is wet. The trip from the trail head to Punchbowl Falls and back (4.2 miles roundtrip) has one section of trail with a cable handrail and with the right little hiking companion, it is a great experience.

Getting There:  I-84 East to Exit 41. A Northwest Forest Pass is required or a day pass may be purchased at the trailhead.

Now there's a nice to-do list for the sunny weather! Happy Trails!

Sunriver Resort: A great getaway?

March 07, 2007

We've got some family coming into town for Spring Break, and the Kids Rule special at Sunriver Resort caught our eye. We're looking for a low-key time, a place to enjoy the Pacific Northwest (my inlaws are coming in from New York), a place where we can enjoy some fun activities as a family. Have you been to Sunriver Resort? What do you think of the accomodations? What about the activities? Did you find it too resort-y -- needlessly overpriced activities or amenities?

Kid rock: The Grease Ball!

February 27, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Ballgowns and tiaras optional!

Ladybug Walks 2007

February 17, 2007

Just yesterday, the Ladybug Walks for 2007 began. You can expect guided nature walks every Friday, sponsored by Portland Parks & Recreation, held at various parks and gardens througout Portland. Walks begin on Fridays at 10AM and cost $2 per preschooler (and no fee for accompanying adults!). You can "touch slimy slugs, smell tree bark, look under rocks, feel crinkly and soft leaves, hear musical bird songs, and experience many changes of the seasons." Check out a Ladybug Walk at a neighborhood park near you!