34 posts categorized "Mama Bloggers"

Happy No Housework Day?

April 07, 2014

Denise on BlogHer's Facebook page announced, "Happy No Housework Day!" Not that she is celebrating the day properly. Not that I am any one to judge.

I've had my own very (very very very) tortured relationship with housework. On one hand I love housework; I said once that every essay I write could begin, "I am washing the dishes. I am washing the dishes again." And in this daily task is often a kind of meditative calm that I desperately long for when I'm too busy to wash the dishes (or too busy to wash the dishes contemplatively).

Today is such a day. Too busy for housework, though indeed I will do some, I suppose, thank goodness I have people in life who take so much of the load from me. I can never decide, do I love to do housework? Do I value creating more; writing and painting colors on walls and growing things in the garden?

Continue reading "Happy No Housework Day?" »

Working mothers, hipsters, and what we see when we look at other moms

February 17, 2012

My blog buddy Liz Gumbinner won an award for being a fabulous working mother. And while I don't know any of the intimate details of her at-home life, beyond those on her blog, I can attest that she gets so much done I quake in her shadow, amazed, and her children always wear the most adorable clothes! But, as she says, she doesn't do it all. There are sacrifices she makes -- some so dear she writes long blog posts about them -- and she wanted to acknowledge that. That none of us "have it all." She wrote of the other honorees, "...mostly there a lot of [acceptance speeches] stories in which everyone has a perfectly supportive husband, doting children who never miss us, stellar colleagues, and no need for “me time.”"

Continue reading "Working mothers, hipsters, and what we see when we look at other moms" »

BlogHer '11 Conference: A Report on Mommyblogging, 2011

August 18, 2011

I have been a "professional blogger" since before that was really a thing, starting out making $3 a post in 2004 at BloggingBaby.com. I wanted to go to the Very First Blogher conference, in 2005, but was a bit hampered by an infant baby (Truman) and no money. In 2006, I managed to get a spot on one of the panels and a roommate -- Asha from Parenthacks -- and brought my infant along. Jonathan and Everett drove down to San Jose in a Flexcar minivan and the boys hung by the pool with other daddybloggers while we women browsed the casual panels. Arianna Huffington was there. Dooce was there! So were all the OMB's, Original MommyBloggers. Even then, though I knew almost everyone, I felt like a bit of an outsider, not as famous as Dooce or even Melissa Summers; not as commercial, not as edgy as just about anyone. Since then, Blogher either didn't fit into my career (the finance management I was working for by then at Aol wasn't really interesting in me writing about a bunch of women bloggers) or my family.

This year, I knew it was time to reinvest. I bought my ticket back in February when I had extra cash and was planning my year. I booked a room at a hostel and, after much debate, a flight by myself, no family at all, to San Diego for Blogher '11. As both an insider and a decided outsider -- I don't really get involved in the same communities as the OMBs, even though I do enjoy reading their work and think they're brilliant and lovely women, I don't do giveaways or participate in the more commercial social networks of the new crop of MBaB (MommyBloggers as Businesses) -- I wasn't sure. Would I have a blast? Would I feel left out? Would I learn a lot? Would I roll my eyes?

As with anything, it's all about who you spend your time with. On the second day, I walked past a woman in the hall on her phone. It was in the middle of a panel session -- I'd ducked out in the middle to switch sessions -- so it was quiet. "It's like being with 3,000 babies who only want to talk about themselves," she said. I thought about some of the questioners at the sessions -- those who preambled their queries with a 60-second (or more) bio in which they list their dotcoms and economic interests. Yes, some of them just wanted to talk about themselves and their own unique concerns (I'm sure I've said things that could be construed as such). But most of the women I was encountering were just as eager to talk about us. Issues we have in common; how we can make a difference using social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of it); who we are and how sharing that is making our lives better.

the wonderful Jessica and the lovely Charlene. you know, they're both lovely AND wonderful.

The first two sessions I attended had me in tears, rolling-down-my-face sniffling tears. The first one, Blogging Your Way to Self-Acceptance, talked about so many things I feel that the OMBs were all about: finding your own truth, telling a story that speaks to the universal, being true to yourself. Brené Brown started, taking us all outside the hustle and bustle of sponsors and products for a beautiful hour-and-a-half. She said, "one of the things that I have come to learn is that our worthiness, our ability to really engage with the world from a place of I am enough, that worthiness lives inside of our story. ...we have two choices and that's own our story and share our story or stay outside of your story and kind of hustle for our worthiness, which I have done a lot of in my own life, perfecting, pleasing, performing, proving, and it's just exhausting and I don't think it's sustainable." The way I heard her was this: believing that our own truth is worth sharing -- and doing so in a personal, authentic way -- is not just an exercise in self-worth but also a necessary and world-changing act.

Shauna James Ahern, the Gluten-Free Girl, was someone I already knew I loved through Twitter. I wasn't sure if I knew what she was doing on this panel, though -- until she started talking (oh!).

Continue reading "BlogHer '11 Conference: A Report on Mommyblogging, 2011" »

Best in mama blogging

January 12, 2010

I read Babble's 'Top 50 Mommy Bloggers' with mixed feelings. First, I was pleased that a local blogger or two and many mamas (and one dad) I consider longtime friends -- people who really deserve approbation for years of hard work and amazing content -- were getting recognition. There was ParentHacks, who won the category 'Most Useful'; I really think of Asha as an original urbanMama (in spirit if not in fact), she's been inspiring us for as long as I can remember. Dutch and Wood from Sweet Juniper are so warm, inspirational and creative -- and both eloquent and moving writers -- that I can't imagine any 'best of blog' list without them. (And yes, Dutch's popscycle is on my fave family bikes list.) Citymama used to be a Portlander (she'll always carry our city in her heart, yes Stefania?); Alphamom is generous and sweet and oh yes, stylish!; Mom 101 is so smart and connected; thanks to the fact that my job as a professional blogger started in parenting blogs, I've had the pleasure of meeting, chatting with or working with many of the other top 50 (but no, I can't say that I know Dooce, famous mommy blogger numero uno).

But hey: it's the in-iest of in crowds and the whirlpool of popularity, I feel, misses a lot of the true gems, the sorts of parenting writers who work their craft for no other reason than because they must, who forge beautiful writing in a "build it and they'll come" mindset to which I, too, have come to subscribe. No matter how many come, the castles of words and images keep slowly forming, each at their own pace. In my opinion, Sweet Juniper is the only true, sparkling treasure on Babble's roster; the other mamas I consider gorgeous, pearls of great price were receiving, at best, a few dozen "likes" from the open-for-nominations list Babble began after its editorially-selected rankings were published. Perhaps the soul-startling bloggers aren't great places for Mattel and H&R Block to advertise, but they're quiet and sweet and real.

If I were making a "best of all possible mama blogs in the best of all possible internets" list, it would include these:

  • Sweet | Salty. I discovered Kate only in the past year and we were well-met. Her journey to a mama's joy despite the loss of one of her sons as a newborn has me gasping.
  • Notes to Self. Kyran weaves stories with such mastery that my face is hot with emotion just peeking into one of her blog posts.
  • Secret Agent Josephine. Unfailingly charming and creative, Brenda always makes me smile.
  • Slouching Past 40. Sarah's poetry makes me weep and her parenting writing is so full of stunning sight and insight -- it's to what I aspire.
  • Oleoptene. Well-met in Portland, Mara's eloquent, cerebral musings are worth the time it takes to unpeel their layers.
  • Irene Nam. A Parisienne who writes in English just for us, each post a small gift, a poem. Her photographs sing to me in whispers.
Some of these are nominated on Babble's list; others aren't (you can vote for urbanMamas and me, too, if you're so inclined). It's proof that popularity is not always key to greatness, nor does greatness lead to popularity; it's proof that sometimes the quietest music reaches deepest into your heart.

Of marketing and mamas

July 28, 2009

I have an MBA, and I've spent some time in the trenches of corporate marketing. I have used the phrases "create buzz," "grassroots marketing," and "target consumer," and I may have put these words on a PowerPoint slide. From time to time, I may have said some things in which I didn't quite believe for the betterment of the company's profit margin. Ahh me! I am the enemy.

Or, I was [insert superstitious gesture here]. Since moving to the "content" side of the online media world sometime in 2003 (as a newish mama), I have become enmeshed in the ever-burbling debate about blogs, marketing, editorial guidelines, ethical standards, the power of disclosure, and where and how bias is appropriate. In 2008 I quit my full-time job and told myself that never, ever again would I promote any idea, product, service, or piece of writing I didn't believe in down to the soles of my soul.

Momfulness It's hard to draw lines. They're so seldom neat around the borders, when looked at up close; and perhaps I've drawn them in Christmas colors in a world full of folks with red-green color blindness. Not for the first time, in a recent post a mama called us out, asking if we could refrain from writing about things for which we didn't pay ourselves, saying the freebie would necessarily taint our review. Asking us to keep the advertising in the upper left hand column; bringing to our attention the current debate about the FTC's so-called "mommy blogger" rules, a proposed set of standards that would require bloggers (moms and dads and childless folks too) to disclose if they've been paid to write a favorable post.

While there is much debate about the FTC's rules and the tactics of both mommybloggers and marketers who pitch to them -- I'll get to that -- let me just put this line in black: we at urbanMamas have never been paid to post about anything, and we have a strict and long-held policy that we will always disclose any financial payola with regard to a product, service or idea we've pitched.

Continue reading "Of marketing and mamas" »

Mamas & Blogs & Facebook: is it too much?

April 15, 2009

When we started urbanMamas almost 5 years ago, I was mama to just a teeny little babe who would wake me up at all hours of the night.  After a feeding at 2am, I would sneak downstairs, open up the computer, and check out the feeds I'd read.  I'd devour the stories, gobble them all up along with a middle-of-the-night snack.  Thank goodness Facebook wasn't around then.  I may have never slept.

Through time, I realized it wasn't terribly healthy to be crawling out of bed and catching up on mama blogroll, as it would keep me up for 1-2-3 hours during prime sleeping time.  I went through a period when I forced myself to stay in bed.  I had to resist the urge, that pull into the blogosphere vortex. 

Now that the kids are older, I am on a much more regulated sleep schedule, but I am still drawn to catch up with friends on Facebook or to check out what's the haps on urbanMamas and other favorite mama conversational sites.  I know I'm not the only one!  An urbanMama recently emailed:

I am hooked on Facebook.  I check it 3-4 times a day and love reading updates, new photos, posting status updates and commenting on my friends' walls.  I can't help it, I feel so connected to people miles and miles away.

I also check my blog rounds throughout the day during my breaks from school, our toddler, and all of our responsibilities. I like being a part of these social networks and forum like discussions but I feel like I am contributing to a society more in touch with ourselves, and less in touch with each other.

How do I moderate this habit?  Any suggestions that have worked for you?  When I am not around a computer I am more creative; and when I talk to friends and hang out with them it is so much more fulfilling than messaging or writing comments on their blog or wall.

Is our generation going through a change of communication, what's going on?  How do I balance traditional social etiquette and lifestyle while being modern, wireless, and digital?


March 13, 2008

As always, there is lots going on this weekend, mamas.  We're gonna use some of the extra daylight to get the chillins out and about - and worn out!  Feeling the luck of the Irish in anticipation of Saint Patrick's Day?  Head on out to Kell's Saint Patrick's Day celebration. The kid-friendly (before 5:00 pm) street fair action includes Irish cheese tasting, face painting, crafts, Celtic dancing, and much more.  Know of any other can't be missed activities this weekend?  Spread the word on the Urban Mamas calender


Friday Morning Indoor Playgroup: Join Central Portland Families at their new Friday morning indoor play space at the Pearl Court Activity Center, $3 suggested donation. 10:00-11:30 am.

Mocha Moms: This weekly support group meeting (aka chat and plays) allows moms to discuss important parenting (and personal) issues while the children play. Mocha Moms is a support group for mothers of color. Anyone who supports the mission of Mocha Moms is welcome. Milagros, 11:00 am-1:00 pm.

Ladybug Walk: A 60 minute walk around Laurelhurst Park for preschoolers.  Rain or shine, no registration necessary, $2 per child. 10:00-11:30 am.

WEE-Post at the Waypost: Join other little ones for puppet making and this week's reading: "Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge" & "Whoever You Are" by Mem Fox.  3210 N. Williams, 11:00 am.

Story and a Stroll: Enjoy a short, guided walk that involves education about rocks and a reading of "Rocks in His Head".  Geared for kids 3-6, rain or shine, free.  Pre-registration required.  Tryon Creek State Park, 1:00-2:00 pm.

Bring a Dollar, We'll Make you Holler: This fund raiser for the Village Free School brings together several different performers (including Professor Banjo, Marilee Hord on fiddle, the Dancing Berbers, and others), a clown, face painting, giant bubbles, yummy food, raffles, an all ages spelling bee, and more. Sound like a great time for only 100 pennies. The Bagdad Theater, 3:00-5:00 pm.


Pearl Bunny Hop: Hop along the streetcar loop to collect treat-filled eggs from eight kid-friendly businesses along the way.  Peter Rabbit and Apple the clown will make appearances and there will be other activities along the way.  Bunny Trail maps available from participating businesses now.   Bunny hop starts at 10:00 am.

Pretty Posy Pins: Learn how to create a flower pin using colorful fabrics, beads and other materials. Wear them yourself or give them as a fashionably fun gift. Northwest Library, 2:00-4:00 pm.

Delectable Designs with Cupcake Jones: Learn about the origins of foods like vanilla and chocolate found in this year's Every Family Reads book, "Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!" by Pat Mora. Then, create a mouthwatering masterpiece of your own by frosting and garnishing your own cupcake! Recommended for ages 5 and up. Gregory Heights Library (7921 NE Sandy), 3:00-4:00 pm.

Mudeye Puppet Show: Join the folks from Mudeye Puppets for an interactive show starring Cora Gated, the cardboard kid. All puppets made from reclaimed materials. $5 per child, $20 per family, at Backspace (115 NW 5th), 10:30-11:00 am.

Knitalong Kick-Off Party: There’ll be cocktails for the adults, choices of messy and dry activities for the littler ones, food for all, door prizes, and books to buy, with authors of Knitalong and a few designers on hand to sign them.  The party coincides with the store’s Ides of March Fiber Festival, which will be going on all around us and in the parking lot. Abundant Yarn in Sellwood, 4:00-6:00 pm.

Symphony Storytime: The Oregon Symphony is on the road for interactive, musical storytimes. This series focuses on storybooks, music, instruments, sound and fun musical crafts. Each week features a visit from an Oregon Symphony musician who will play and provide an introduction to his or her instrument and orchestral music. Enjoy music, hands-on crafts and fun for all ages!  Midland Library, 2:30-3:30 pm.

One Fish, Two Fish: Enjoy this bilingual performance (English/ Spanish) full of audience participation inspired by the classic Dr. Seuss story with Hay Caramba’s Kathy Karbo and Blanca Vazquez! Free.  Sellwood Library, 11:00-11:30 am.

Block Printing: Learn this fun printmaking technique with artist Kathryn Menard. Pre-registration required. Belmont Library, 3:00-4:00 pm.

Pacific Northwest College of Art: Free and fun art workshops. Children will screenprint on T-shirts and create mixed-media drawings. All materials, including T-shirts are provided.  11:30 am-1:30 pm.


Urban Mamas Toy Swap and Lead Testing Event:  If you've got too many toys in your house or it's just time for some different ones, bring your gently used toys, games, and puzzles and swap them for some "new" ones.  Toys that don't find a new home will be donated. The Portland Development Commission will also be on hand to test toys for lead-based paint. Urban Grind, 3:00-5:00 pm. 

Tears of Joy Puppet Exhibit: More than 30 puppets and masks from 35 years of Tears of Joy Theater performances are on display. Central Library, 12:00-5:00 pm.

Shamrock Run: Get the kiddos out for the 1 k Leprechaun Lap or do the 5k, 8k, or 15k yourself!  Waterfront Park, 8:00 am.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS: March 14-16" »

Wish lists: for our mama community

December 17, 2007

Me_at_ikea_160 Things have not been (how shall I say?) "easy" for me this year, and talking with other mamas, I find that several of us have had an unfortunate Year: 2007. The Golden Pig may be auspicious, but it hasn't been working out great for us.

While we all hope that our fates will re-align come 2008, I find myself often both asking and (not) answering the question, "what can I do to help?" and finding that it's a difficult topic. What can we do? Often, the thing we need is harder than the reason for needing it. If I could get a wish this holiday season, it might be something like this:

  • If it's late at night, and you're scared about pregnancy/labor/a strange rash, don't be afraid to call and ask me to give advice/get medicine/make you feel not so alone.
  • Come over and watch the boys for a half-hour so I can get out of the house.
  • Appear at my door with fresh-baked treats.
  • If you see me headed to the store/coffee shop, ask me to pick something up for you. I won't mind.
  • When I ask how you are, be honest. Let me help.
  • Never mind the state of my bathroom.
  • Take my children to your house to play, sometimes. Be patient with them, even if I can't.
  • Know that I thank you, that I feel your gratitude too, that there is no need for cards, unless sending them makes you happy.

What's your wish for your community?

urbanMamas poster gals for Portland blogging culture

December 13, 2007

Horn-tootin' time! A few weeks ago, Steve Woodward from the Oregonian emailed asking about just why Portland is such a great town for blogging? Turns out we've been ranked the second best blogging city in the nation (behind Austin, Texas: ironically, the originator of the 'keep Portland weird' campaign. Austin has to be first in everything, waaah!). Today the article was published on the front page of the 'Living' section and I was pleased to see both me and betsywhim (who contributes to, like, 30 blogs) representing the Portland blognoscenti. You can find the article here online but it's lots easier to read in print.

We know why we think Portland is such a good blogging town (and I'll quote myself): because Portland is so rainy and, more often than not, you're stuck inside and can't interact at the playground or the beach -- blogging is a way of connecting. It's also because you all are so non-judgmental and supportive, contrary to what we hear in the news and see on Other Cities' Communities. I think another aspect is that writers are drawn to Portland for its literary scene and bunches of us are spilling out our literary guts in blogs. What do you think?

Let Eco-Mama know what you're thinking!

November 06, 2007

A little while ago, we posted on the urbanMamas exchange a "Chinook Book Call for Local Columnists".  Thanks to that post, we've landed an urbanMama a freelance gig with EcoMetro, and she's now writing a regular column for them.  Jenn wrote us to give us an update:

I've been a longtime reader/occasional poster, and just wanted to give you all a giant thank you -- not only are you an awesome resource, you also landed me a blogging gig! I would never have heard
of the EcoMetro website's call for "green" parenting bloggers had it not been for a quick scan of Urban Mamas one afternoon, and now I have a weekly column with them entitled Eco-Mama.  What can I say? "Hooked on urbanMamas ... Worked For Me!" :)

I would LOVE feedback from other Urban Mamas as to what issues, products, and services they would like to see addressed in future columns. So far I have a column on cloth diapering resources in PDX, one on organic baby food options locally, and another forthcoming on the programs of the Oregon Environmental Council (eco-friendly childcare and baby showers).  Feel free to post these kudos/shameless self-promotion/feedback requests any way you see appropriate -- I just wanted to give a shout-out and say thanks again!

You can email Jenn at Jenn.Crowell.blogger@ecometro.com.

Do you Facebook?

September 25, 2007

First, there were the yahoo-groups, which eventually led to the creation of urbanMamas three or so years ago.  But, beyond the online groups, there are blogs and websites that convene oodles and oodles of people.  A while back, it seemed like all the cool kids were on Friendster.  Now, they're on MySpace.  Or Twitter?  Even Portland mamas and papas are on MeetUp.com.  It's online social network gone wild.

A former Portland mama just emailed me an invite to FaceBook, the latest and greatest of this genre of social webs.

I'm not sure I'm there yet.  Has anyone used Friendster, MySpace, Twitter, MeetUp, or FaceBook?  Have you met mamas or papas like you?  Or, reconnected with old friends (like my friend swears she did?)?  I think I can barely handle keeping up with favorite feeds we read and the yahoo groups....

Do you Yahoo!?

August 01, 2007

Most of you know that urbanMamas grew from a yahoo-group a few years ago; that group is now defunct.  Here at urbanMamas, we often get emails from mamas and papas all throughout Portland, looking for a playgroup or like-minded parents or stay-at-home parents or working parents.  We come in all strains and varieties.  Chances are, there's a yahoo group out there for you to connect with other parents!

I am personally a member of lots of yahoo groups.  My old standbys for Portland family-related groupie action include: Mamananda (an active & supportive group of mamas in North Portland), the Overlook Network (a group for family-related announcements in the Overlook neighborhood), urbanMamasRun (a group of mamas of all levels who like to run and connect for races or runs), and outdoormamaspdx (mamas who hike, bike, paddle and a forum for planning monthly excursions).  Tonight, I just found and joined MOB_Moms on Bikes, and can't wait to use the group to talk about family biking gear or even get together for family rides.

The yahoo group world is endless.  There are the Sellwood Playgroup Association groups.  There are 85 "Portland Mom" yahoo groups and about 137 "Portland Families" yahoo groups.  From an archived post, Kirstin offers:

If you're in Milwaukie, there is a chapter of Moxie Moms in your area:

There is a group called Clackamas County Moms:

And, there are two larger Portland groups for all Portland-Metro areas:

Do you Yahoo!?  Which groups do you belong to?

Feeds we Read

July 24, 2007

Inspired by our recent ability to RSS to urbanMamas comments, which allows us to keep abreast of all the urbanMamas conversation, we got reacquainted with our feeds on our google reader (just recently having switched over from bloglines).  Blogosphere, o blogosphere, how much do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  While there are blogs upon blogs of mama musings (don't forget to peep the urbanMamas blogroll), I dusted off all the other feeds in my reader:

  • Food.  Just in case the hunny and I can steal away for some nice dining without the little folk, it's nice to read up on what's hot and what's not on Portland Food and Drink or ExtraMSG.
  • Drink.  Just in case the hunny or the mamas and I can get away for a little drinky-drink or happy hour, we hit up BarFlyMag or Unthirsty.
  • Gettin' Around.  Not only is BikePortland.org our ultimate resource on all things bikey, but it's also a great resource for current events and news on many regional public transit issues and upcoming policy.  For this multi-modal transiting family, it's a good daily read.
  • Other stuff.  Toward the bottom of my list, I save room to glance at PDX MetBlogs and the Portland Business Journal.  I also keep a hot list of things we may want off craigslist - the current item du jour is a tandem bike.

Now that I've shared, what about you all?  What feeds do you read?

Eek! Email Error!

April 19, 2007

Ahhh, email.  So easy-to-use!  So easy-to-talk-through!  Ever crafted an email and hit "SEND" when you meant to hit "SAVE"?  Ever blurted out all your inner-most thoughts in an email thinking you could save it for later but then - !poof! - cyberspace whisks it away to send to the [un]intended recipient? Ever type something you didn't really mean? Ever been unnecessarily mean, sacrcastic, catty? Ever live to laugh about it later?Send

The authors of the new book SEND is looking for your "tales of misdirected emails and other errors of email etiquette".  Share your stories!

As a li'l somethin'-somethin' for your quips: urbanMamas would like to offer a couple of free tickets to the Just Between Friends pre-sale on Friday, April 27th, to some of the wackiest, craziest stories of email errors.

P.S. The authors, David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, will appear at Powell's this Sunday, April 22nd, at 7:30PM.

urbanMamas policy or r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

March 15, 2007

We have been talking about writing this for ages, and we finally came up with something on which we all agreed.


urbanMamas was created as a place for the frank and open exchange of opinions, information, and support for parents living in and around Portland, Oregon. We welcome readers and commenters to interact freely as long as you follow our two cardinal rules: treat others with respect, and be honest. We reserve the right to delete comments we feel are harsh and judgmental of one another; however, we support healthy debates given they follow rules #1 and #2. Please know that the opinions expressed here are opinions of a vast and diverse set of individuals, and treat them as such.

Judgment, honesty, and what we're doing here

March 14, 2007

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader to my blog. She titled it "obese" (for a moment, I thought it was spam) and pasted in a photo of Everett I took when he was about two, and I had looked up his height and weight on a BMI chart and found him to be morbidly obese, according to the government's calculations. (He was, and still is, a muscular, healthy kid, who obviously just doesn't fit the chart for "normal.")

She wondered why I talked about healthy eating so much but had an obese child! She wondered why the police picked up my children all over the neighborhood (during the snow day, Everett was so excited that he ran ahead of pregnant me and slow Truman, towards the park, and was found by a policeman as I hunted for him a few feet away). She wondered how I could have three children when I couldn't even take care of one. In essence, she wrote all those things I think in my dark times.

She wrote all the worst invections I use against myself, when I'm feeling overwhelmed, out of control, so damned imperfect. She wondered why I "pretend I'm perfect."

It was a blow. But I've come across people like her before, on Blogging Baby, where I wrote several times daily for two years before moving into the role as editor of BloggingStocks, which has an equally passionate but much less judgmental audience (yay for that). And I didn't immediately question my role as a parent, or decide to take down my personal blog altogether, or even cry. I've developed a bit of a thick skin.

But not everyone has. In fact, moms as a group are some of the most susceptible to this sort of shrieking judgment. While most of us wanted to be parents, very few of us had any sort of real preparation for what life would be like. We read the pregnancy books, it's true, and we joined the due date forum on Babycenter. Maybe we started a blog, maybe we had friends or sisters who were new parents, who helped us acclimate.

Let's face it, though, there's no college degree, no job experience that really prepares you to be a mother. To be a mommy-mommy-mommy, to be needed 24 hours a day even if you have to work 6 or 8 or 12 of them, to have everything in your life and body change, to change your sig file from some funky quote from a beat poet to "Sarah, mama to Everett, 4.5, and Truman, 22 months! <3 :)" To have the way everyone in the world looks at you change; to have a constantly evolving challenge for which you're not ever sure you're qualified. Because no child is perfect, no parent is perfect, no family relationship is perfect.

That why we need a community that only supports, only helps, only loves, only tells the truth constructively. That never, ever judges people for their human-ness -- but is, at the same time, frank and useful. That's what we created at urbanMamas, that's why we love Portland so much (because we found you!), that's why we're able to get through some of our worst days, our nastiest emails, without deciding to throw in the towel. That's why sometimes, we'll remove comments that don't support this community, that rain down personal judgment to other mamas. Maybe I can handle it (sometimes). But maybe it's a hard day for you. Maybe you can't.

And if there's one thing we want to do right, it's that: to protect we mamas from the judgment that we're all too eager to bring on ourselves.

(This doesn't mean that we don't want negativity here. We love negativity, if it's appropriate -- if you tell me you had a bad experience at a restaurant, or if you want to throw your pediatrician in the reject pile, we support your frank yet compassionate reviews. That's also what we're about. Please continue to report the truth from wherever you are.)

more urbanMamas' launchy love

August 24, 2006

Launches must be in the air this week. Today, Stefania (a.k.a. Citymama and former PDX-ite) IM-ed me with the link to the beta launch of her much-ballyhoed new job, ParentsConnect. I've been following the murmurs for a while given that another longtime friend of mine, who also has connections to Portland, is a featured ParentsConnect blogger.

The site's still in its early stages; it seems to endeavor to be a mixture of iVillage, Blogging Baby, and DotMoms. It's certainly wonderful to see so many sites cater to mamas, but it's interesting to wonder: just how much purchasing power are the marketing guys behind them attributing to us? Kind of makes you want to band together and demand more from them all, does it not?

One thing I know: it's fabulous that one side effect of this surge in places for mamas (and papas, grandparents, and babysitters) to connect is offering so many of us the ability to work from home. Yay for that!

Ma Blogging

July 14, 2006

New mama & blogger Liz is seeking some advice about fine-tuning her blog.  Any bloggers using Blogger can toss some friendly advice her way?

Last month when I was up at 3am breastfeeding my 2 month old son, I discovered your blog, along with all of the other local mama blogs. I immediately wanted to create one for my new son - but I had to backtrack to my first trimester to post all of the milestones. I found myself on a mission to get it done & it is finally up to speed. I started off w/ blogger, but maybe I will use type pad eventually. I still haven't figured out the "bells & whistles" for example I have no fave links listed as much as I have tried to add them. I am using a standard template - but this too I tried to change in html with no luck. Are there any blogging 101 classes for mamas?

PDX Mama Bloggers / Writers

July 01, 2006

Are You a Real Mom?

June 22, 2006

Calling all witty mama writers.  The editor of Real Moms Speak is looking for a few more writers.  Here's the scoop:
  • Deadline is Monday, June 26
  • Criteria for Responses:
    1. Less than 100 words in length
    2. Humorous tone -very important
    3. Fits the theme: Motherhood is a battle but one worth fighting
  • Check the web site for sample answers.
  • Chapters still needing insight include:
    • “Society: Being a Good Mother in Spite of It” – What expectations/messages do you feel society has for you that you try to reject in order to be a good mom?
    • “Sex after Baby: Who’s Got Dibs on My Breasts Tonight?” – I need some variety besides the standard, “We don’t have much sex anymore.” Think about issues like there being stages in a marriage—life with infants and toddlers is tough on the sex life but it gets better later on; this stage forces you to get better at communication; this stage provides a good excuse for getting your husband to take you on frequent vacations.
    • “Motherhood Myths: Timeless Truths That May Prove False”- What did everyone tell you about motherhood that hasn’t turned out to be true for you? Keep in mind that your response should help women have a more realistic image of motherhood.

Saying Hi

June 20, 2006

We're pleased to announce that Tony (of Milagros fame) and Cybelle have joined us as new contributing authors.  Look for their postings in the very near future.  And, hopefully soon, we will reintroduce all of our authors who have done a wonderful job thus far of contributing to the content on this site.

Literary Mama Meets W[h]ine Night

March 07, 2006

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

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

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

urbanMamas is a Portland Pick!

February 23, 2006

Woohoo, mamas! urbanMamas just got Portland Picked! If you don't subscribe to this uber cool weekly newsletter put out by another cool urban mama, Kathi O'Neil, you simply must. Check out this week's picks at www.portlandpicks.com and subscribe today!

Thanks to Olivia and Hau and the other uMamas founders for all of their hard work in making this online community a truly supportive environment full of fresh, helpful resources, and to all of the uMamas who contribute and comment and read/lurk! 

urbanMamas famous at Blogher?

February 21, 2006

I suggested an idea to Elisa Camahort, the organizational mind behind the Blogher conference (July 28 and 29 in San Jose, Calif.), about leading a "Room of your own" session on group blogging. At first, it seemed eh to her, I think. Then I wrote about urbanMamas on Blogging Baby and fleshed out the idea for her. It's about community building, I said, not just management of disparate voices and personalities.

I feel that I've been co-parenting, both here and with the wider audience at Blogging Baby, with all my blogging buddies for the past year-and-then-some. I've made a number of decisions thanks to input from brilliant minds both here in Portland and across the world, thanks to comments on my posts, that I wouldn't have made in a vacuum. I feel that I've connected in an amazingly special way to other great Portland mamas through urbanMamas. I'd love to see you all come and cheer for the idea of having a "room of your own" over on Elisa's Blogher blog. And, come conference time, I would love, love, love if other urbanMamas could come with me to talk about this thing that we built, together. Even those of you who've joined us - as authors, commenters, or just as participants in our gatherings - recently.

On becoming a "mama blogger"

February 20, 2006

I'm excited to share something with y'all: I have two new articles up at the wonderful Mothers Movement Online. In The Blogging Mom Clique: Anyone Can Join, I talk about what it was like to join the community of blogging mothers (of course, I mention urbanMamas!). In A Weblog of One's Own, I outline how to get started with your own blog.

If you've never been to MMO before, be sure to click around. The editor, Judith Stadtman Tucker, does an amazing job of collecting links, presenting original material, and writing her own super-smart editorials, all of which focus on the intersection of motherhood and feminism.


February 14, 2006

...  Okay, well, the City of Portland is still calling it history month, but ...

Mayor Potter's office invites you to contribute your story or the story of a woman you admire.  Starting March 1, the City will post the stories (250 word limit) on a website (you will need to register with PortlandOnline to submit your entry.)

I have no idea how this little project will turn out, but it sounds like a nice effort.  All I can say is: we've all got a special story to tell, whether it be about being a full-time mother or about juggling a traditional career with mamahood or about creating a non-traditional profession in order to focus more on mamahood.  We have wonderful anecdotes daily about the joys, the humor, the quirkiness, the challenges, and the frustrations.  We share them every day - our stories & herstories - here on urbanMamas.  Maybe you want to share them with the City?

Practical Parenting Wisdom

January 15, 2006

Have you checked out (Portland's very own) Asha's new blog about practical parenting wisdom - Parent Hacks?  Well, you should.  It contains lots of nuggets of information in easy to digest posts that are quick to read and apply.  The beauty of it is that these words of wisdom aren't from the mouths of experts but from what I think are the true experts - parents that are in the thick of raising kids.  I often prefer the advice of other parents over the advice I glean from parenting manuals.  Way to go Asha!

What Can't Sarah Gilbert Do?

December 15, 2005

I took up Sarah's (that's Cafe Mama, Everett's Mama, Truman's Mama, Blogging Baby editor, Kenilworth-Abernethy blogger - oh, and don't forget contributor to Slash Food, TV Squad, and a founding urbanMama) open offer on a holiday card photo shoot.  We were a bit late heading out the door, and found Sarah waiting patiently with adorable Truman hanging from her hip/front carrier.  Everett was amusing himself by running around the square.  On top of that she had bags, blankets, and her camera along with her.  It really didn't feel like a photo shoot at all since we sat for one pose as she snapped away.  As we chased after the kids and pretended to look at trees, she took some more candids.  Again, it didn't feel like we were getting our pictures taken as I was more absorbed in making sure the kids were o.k., and chatting with some of the other mamas who showed up for the socializing.  Now, for my point!  Sarah is incredible.  She's such a busy mama, but to do a photo shoot with both of her boys with her, in busy, busy downtown, was a feat unto itself.  I am always in awe of other busy mamas (Sarah included) and being inspired by all that they do.


Literary Mama

It never ceases to amaze me the vast talent pool of mamas here in Portland. We are so lucky. Portland mamas are savvy, literary, wired, and always busy.  If you haven’t had the chance to check out the various PDX mama bloggers, I would suggest you do so! These mamas are full of insight, wit, humor, and provide a great on-line community base of knowledge about all things good and bad about parenting.

Recently, I happened upon Asha’s blog, a gifted writer and mama. Here’s a great example of her work.  It’s an article (Mama Bought the Cafe)she wrote for Hip Mama – an on-line zine.  It just happens that it was about Audra Carmine, a young mama that bought the Junior’s – a café in my wonderful neighborhood! You must read this article.  It’s beautifully written, and Asha has a wonderful way of connecting with the reader.

If you’re a mama blogger, let us know!  We’d love to link to your interesting post, or send us the content and we will post it for you.

Thanks for the w[h]ine!

December 04, 2005

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us at w[h]ine out last night.  It was a great time to meet, reconnect, and just unwind.  We had a great hostess at Pour, and we had some lovely libation.  I just love being able to personally connect with all of you, urbanMamas, up close and personal.

We will definitely do it again before too long.  W[h]ine nights will always be a favorite event for me, but we can also plan to do coffee/play dates so we can include our little people and partners too!  Can't wait to meet more of you.  Until then, read & share here on the site.  Thank you, all - you help to make urbanMamas the online community we always envisioned.

Dang, What She Said About Public Schools!

November 30, 2005

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

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

Lurking Pays Off

I'm a lurker.  I admit it.  Mostly because I usually don't have anything clever to say.  When I load up my feed on a nearly daily basis, I get excited when my favorite links appear in bold indicating there's a new post.  So, from my daily fix, I came across some exciting news.  What's more exciting than a flushable diaper?  The fact that it's available at every Portlander's favorite store.  We can forgive them for not stocking the elusive Nature Boy & Girl.  Thanks for the heads up, AfrIndie Mum!

Update:  Yes, I forgot the most important part.  I'm referring to G Diapers.  Got that Google?

Wanna Contribute?

November 22, 2005

When we started bouncing around the idea of creating an on-line parenting resource for the Portland metro area, we really envisioned that eventually the breadth of contributors to the site would expand to include other mamas interested in writing about and sharing their experiences - the good, the bad and the ugly!  In some of the early brainstorming sessions, we hoped to create something like the Berkeley Parenting Network which dear Erica greatly missed since her move away from the Bay Area.  So, here we are, about a year later, with something we strongly feel and hope that could be as useful to us mamas in Portland - this nifty thing we call the urbanMamas blog.  To keep up the momentum we wanted to create with the launch of this site, we are soliciting help from all you mamas out there.  Here's how:

  • Send us an email.  Do you have interesting and insightful content for the site? Send us an email at urbanmamas [at] gmail [dot] com with your name, email address, and let us know if and how you'd like to be identified.  We would more than gladly post your column, question, or tidbit of knowledge!  Please understand we get tons of emails a day, and we may need a few days to get back to you.
  • Send us info about events.  The urbanMamas calendar is so awesome only because of all your suggestions of fun & wacky & cool things to do in and around Portland.  Have a suggestions for an event for all the mamas, kidlets, and families out there?  Send us an event invite via Outlook, Google Calendar, or any compatible iCAL format and we will add it to our events calendar.  The more info the better, and be sure to include a link where we can find out more.  If you can't send an event invite, feel free to put all the info into an email to us.
  • Post on the Childcare Forum.  So you wanna post a childcare related question?  Or maybe you have an opening at your childcare facility or preschool? Or maybe you want to rave about your fabulous nanny?  Or perhaps you're looking to sell / purchase, or pass along goods and services to fellow urbanMamas?  We're testing out a way to allow the urbanMamas community at large to post on the childcare and exchange forum.  Here's how it will work.  We've set up a junior level author account so that you can log into our blogging software directly to compose your question.  The complete instructions are found here.

The urbanMamas community is committed to providing a welcoming, nonjudgmental, open, supportive environment where parents can seek and share parenting advice.  The urbanMamas site is a purely grassroots effort and is maintained on by a few volunteer mamas in their spare time.  urbanMamas reserves the right to unpublish comments deemed to be detrimental to the openness we strive to achieve.

Guide to Preschool Philosophies

November 10, 2005

I was just re-surfing CafeMama's website and found a new addition: her guide to preschool philosophies.  I love it!  It's a great resource.  Thanks, cafemama!