On school choice: any decision is the right one

March 21, 2014

For years and years, we have had to make school choices, even from a young age.  Which childcare and why?  Which kinder?  Which middle school?

Our oldest is entering high school in the fall, and we have had to make choices.  What is the right environment, the right size, the right academic mix?

We have asked these questions of ourselves before.  Ten years ago, I stayed up worrying about what decision to make.  We have faced these choices several times since.  At the end of the night, at the end of the day, my co-parent and I have agreed on one thing: whichever school we choose, it will be the right one.

To have a choice is a luxury.  To research our choices as fully as we do is so much more than other families are able to do.  To have communities - like our playgroups, neighborhood families, our local yahoo groups, or urbanMamas - where we can discuss every angle and pro/con for every option is a treasure.

As we enter this decision-making season as acceptance and wait-list notices are being issued, rest assured that the school you choose is the right one.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - MARCH 21-23, 2014

March 19, 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.

Special Down Syndrome Day at Dizzy Castle. World Down Syndrome day is this Friday March 21st. Dizzy Castle is offering free admission for children with down syndrome from 9am- 12pm.  Members from NWDSA will be attending in hopes everyone will have the opportunity to meet new friends! Siblings will receive discounted admission of $7 for children 3 and over and $3 for children under 3yrs old.

Cut Arts Silhouette Portraits at area locations. Karl Johnson's silhouettes are all hand cut, original works of art. Each one created live by simply looking at his subject matter and cutting out an exact likeness freehand with scissors.
Thurs. 3/20: 10am-6pm (Child's Play)
Fri. 3/21: 11 to 5pm (Mamababy Boutique)
Sat. 3/22: 10am-6pm (Village Toys)
Sun. 3/23: 10am-6pm (Coffee Kids)
Mon. 3/24: 10am-1pm (PDX Posh Baby) 2:30-6pm (Beaverton)
Tues. 3/25: 10am-5:30pm (Spielwerk Toys)
To make an appointment, please contact the store of your choice for a 5 minute appointment. All ages are welcome, even the squirmy ones. Original portraits $25.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - MARCH 21-23, 2014" »

Happy St. Patrick's Day, but: How do kids celebrate?

March 17, 2014

Irish_cooking
"What IS St. Patrick's Day?" questions have been coming fast and loose from the kids around me today. My best answer is "a celebration of Irish culture," but when I looked up the Wikipedia page on St. Paddy's Day I don't think I realized that the religious feast day in Ireland to celebrate the isle's patron saint includes a Lenten loophole -- restrictions on lush behavior are lifted. (Don't tell those people in kilts -- kilts? -- I saw already drunk on Friday night.) So I started describing how and why people drink like crazy on St. Patrick's Day.

"All people do is EAT and GET DRUNK?" came the angry rejoinder. I got a demand to "do something fun outside!" -- but other than hunt for four-leaf clovers or gold pots at the ends of rainbows, I can't think of a thing.

What do you do with the kids for St. Patrick's Day, other than wearing green and making (my favorite part) Irish food? Anything we can fit in before the end of the day?

Reorganizing your dreams through a divorce

March 16, 2014

I've been quiet here, because for the past six months I've been in the throes of divorce. I think I knew even in the months leading up to the decision what I would eventually do, so for a long time beforehand I was afraid to say anything because everyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve and everything I write.

There has been a lot of hard in this process, and it's far from done. But I think one of the worst parts has been to reorganize my dreams; for myself, for my family unit, for my boys. I've done such expansive and heedless things as write a piece on how I don't plan for divorce with my finances (I still stand behind that post); I've written extensively about what some people call "radical domesticity" and been one of the subjects of a book about it. I know I've said a dozen or a thousand times that I've chosen in the past several years to let my husband take the primary breadwinner role -- his work was intense, too, serving in the Army in Kuwait for three years -- and lead a life that's low on luxuries so I could spend time with the kids, at home, with my writing. (Really, the ultimate luxury.) I've loved how much I could shape the environment for my kids, especially my oldest, who I've unschooled for much of the past three years to help find him a place he can truly belong.

Now I have to find a way to navigate the life I want with a distinctly different set of resources.

Continue reading "Reorganizing your dreams through a divorce" »

WEEKEND WARRIORS - MARCH 14-16, 2014

March 12, 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.

Impulse! in NE PDX. OCT's hilarious student improvisational troupe, take the stage to deliver fast-paced comedic scenes and games - all based on audience suggestions. No scripts, no costumes, and no idea what's about to happen! Recommended for ages 7 and up. Thursday, Friday & Saturday 7pm. Tickets $10 in advance / $12 at the door.

Friday Storytime + Craft Activity at The Craft Factory. Now you can listen to picture books while crafting the morning away. Friday 10:30am. Storytime craft special: $5 for any two ornamental crafts.

Red Yarn at Warehouse Cafe. Weaving together energetic live music, puppetry and storytelling, Red Yarn teaches positive values while reviving American folklore for a younger generation. Audiences will sing, dance, act, and experience the joy of community during this interactive show. Friday 10-10:45am. $5 donation.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - MARCH 14-16, 2014" »

WEEKEND WARRIORS - March 7-9, 2014

March 05, 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.

Music with Mr. Hoo at Village Ballroom. Mr. Hoo (one half of The Alphabeticians), plays fun music for kids and their grown-ups. He plays guitar and kazoo, and sings songs that get the audience clapping and moving and singing along. Friday 11am-noon. $5/family.

Free First Friday at the Children's Museum. Enjoy free admission the first Friday of every month, with special crafts, activities,and musical guests. Friday 4-8pm.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - March 7-9, 2014" »

WEEKEND WARRIORS - FEBRUARY 28-March 2, 2014

February 26, 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.

Ladybug Nature Walks at Ventura Park. Explore nature in Portland parks with trained naturalists! For ages 2-5 with grown-up. Stroller friendly. Friday 10am. $4/preschooler, no charge for adults.

Story Time with Olive and Dingo at Pie Spot. Not your average Story Time!! Full of comedy, songs, stories, balloons and laughter. Sure to get the jumpers jumping, the dancers dancing, wigglers wiggling and the noise makers cooing. Friday 3-4pm. $5 per child for balloons and entertainment.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - FEBRUARY 28-March 2, 2014" »

Throwback Thursday: Family Management

February 20, 2014

This is what we do day-to-day.  On the brain of late:

"Mama, you never keep promises"

February 19, 2014

"Mama, you never keep promises," she says.

You know what hurts most about being a working-poor single mama of three remarkable girls who deserve to receive everything life has to offer? It's not necessarily the political or policy issues that work against me. Or even the need to defend myself while simultaneously doubting myself. It's those words.

I do keep the promise of good food, a comfy bed, a trip to the doctor when they need it. But those are non-negotiable items in the contract of motherhood: I meet their basic needs no matter what it takes. And as oft I can I give them an ice cream cone, a day at the beach, a guinea pig, even. Those are childhood entitlements, so I consider them basic needs, as well, though they have no idea how challenging it is to provide them.

But the day at an amusement park, the weekend camping, the lessons in whatever interests them or the big gift they really really want, well, those are un-kept promises, it's true. Actually, I don't promise them, I typically tell them "Someday I will make this happen for you when I can." So they want them. From me. Because I'm mama. This is the part I think is hard to understand for anyone else outside this fishbowl. It means that even the most simple things for me are left undone - a yoga class, an hour walk, a doctor visit - because they all have a concrete cost that's just too hard to justify. To me they are not fixed expenses or basic needs. Yes, I would love to focus on my art, take care of my body, take care of my heart.  Of course that makes sense to me.  But in the balancing sheet of the life and sacrifice of single motherhood, it just doesn't make sense to move dollars into your children's 'expense' column, even though they go into your 'income' column.  It just doesn't feel right.

I'm left with little emotional bandwidth to do much else as my own dreams quickly diminish in the rear-view mirror on our journey.  I make compromises to my heart that anyone looking inside might find unimaginable, but they don't see the internal accounting in my head. Yet even still, I'm left with those words, so innocently spoken as mere fact from her perspective.  I'm meeting the basics, yes, yet there's still more because you teach your kids to dream, and childhood is magic; they deserve *that* childhood entitlement even more than anything else.  Yet, it's also true too that I have been home teaching my youngest girl (and one more though he recently moved away) for months now because I just couldn't fathom sacrificing the gift of time and focus that my prior professional life stole from me with my first two.  And she just sat down and read her first book to me, at age 4, with a look on her face of having conquered the tallest mountain and an air of confidence that displayed to me *of course* she conquered the tallest mountain.  I gave her hope and knowledge.

That's how it balances out and I pray that someday all three of my girls will have the graceful gift of perspective to see this.  Someday, with any luck, my girls will know this struggle to be present for them right now is the greatest gift of all.  It sure is hard when you're raising your kids alone.  I want to be someone who keeps promises.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - FEBRUARY 21-23, 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.

Ladybug Nature Walks at Kelley Point Park. Perfect for preschoolers and parents who want to explore nature in Portland's parks with trained preschool naturalists! Children are guided along the trails of various parks in all corners of the city by an Environmental Educator. Walks go at just the right pace and introduce children to forests, water, insects, plants and animals. Ages 2-5 with grown-up. Stroller friendly. Friday 10am. $4/child.

Lori Henriques in Concert in Lake Oswego. Award winning musician Lori Henriques performs jazz music for the whole family. Friday 7pm. $5 suggested donation.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - FEBRUARY 21-23, 2014" »

WEEKEND WARRIORS - FEBRUARY 14-16, 2014

February 12, 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.

Valentine's Day for the Animals at the Zoo. Watch zoo animals enjoy Valentine's Day enrichment treats and toys. Friday 10:30am-2:45pm. Free with Zoo admission.

Great Backyard Birdcount. The Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 14-17 is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Everyone is welcome--from beginning bird watchers to experts.

Preteen POP Night- BFF Fun at Art Ala Carte. A chance for creative kiddos (9-13 yr olds) to make new friends, create art and learn from local artists. Pop night features POP music, POP corn, soda POP and POP art. Friday is a special Vday edition giving parents a chance to enjoy a romantic night out. Parents can stay in the studio and hang out- or they can make it a date night at one of the many delicious restaurants on Alberta. Friday 6-9pm. $15 use promocode PDXKIDS for 15% off your tickets - purchase here.

Valentine's Night at Out of this World. Includes pizza & salad buffet, drink, dessert & a $5 game card. Dance and play with your kids with their DJ-hosted Stellar Play and Valentine's dance starting at 7pm. Try your luck with Bingo and hourly giveaways and light up your kids with glowstick bracelets. Friday 6-9pm. $12 age 5-Adult, $10 age 2-4 yrs, Under 2 free.

Find more Valentine's Events on the PDX Kids Calendar Family-friendly Valentine's Events Guide.

Spring Community Day at Oregon History Museum. Take a look at a temporary exhibit created by Roosevelt High School students about local "Freedom Fighters," community leaders who have fought for social justice. Meet the students and some of the Freedom Fighters themselves. Also, take one last look at the Windows on America exhibit before it closes. Free admission all day from 10 AM to 7 PM, activities for all ages between 11 AM and 3 PM.

Final weekend to see Oregon Children's Theatre's Charlotte's Web. Intelligent, funny, and heartfelt, the book by E.B. White has captivated young readers for generations. When an affectionate pig named Wilbur is saved from slaughter and sent to live on a nearby farm, he finds a barnyard full of animals who quickly become family. But it's the most unlikely of friends that prove to be his best - a spider named Charlotte who uses her skills to save Wilbur's life once more, even as her own is slipping away. Saturday 2pm and 5pm, Sunday 11am (show added) and 2pm. $15-30.

Johnny & Jason Mini-Concert at Green Bean Books. Welcome the talented musical duo Johnny & Jason. They'll be singing songs from their latest album, "Be Alive!" It's music for kids... and their adults! Saturday 1-1:30pm. Free!

Let the Wild Rumpus Start at Cascade Park Community Library. Craft program based on Maurice Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are." Saturday 3-4:30pm. Free!

Wildlife Care Center Open House at Audubon Society. Once a year, Portland Audubon's Wildlife Care Center opens its doors to the public and gives visitors a peek at what goes on behind the scenes in Oregon's oldest and busiest wildlife rehabilitation facility. Also meet and greet the education birds, raptor education station, Q&A with vets, kids can make raptor art and get their faces painted. Sunday 11am-5pm. Free!

African Flower Dance at Troutdale Library. Join the Mathias Galley African Dance Ensemble in learning the ceremonial African flower dance that is performed during weddings, births and holidays. Mathias will do a short performance before teaching these moves to the audience. In this fun and energetic workshop, Mathias will use native instruments, including African drums and bells, to get the audience up and moving to the beat. Sunday 2-3pm. Free!

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

ND on OHP?

February 11, 2014

Devon needs recommendations for a Naturopath that accepts the Oregon Health Plan. She asks: Both my little girls (5 and 1) are on the new Care Oregon/Health Share Medicaid program. So far in their protected lives, they've only been treated by my acupuncturist (a pediatric specialist from out of town) and our midwife/ND here in town (Catherine at A Gentle Beginning). We love both of them, and we pay for them. For financial and practical reasons, I really want to get my ladies set up with a PCP within our provider directory (these terms! infuriating!). Are there even MD/NDs in the Kaiser/Providence/CareOregon network? Does anyone have any advice - either a beloved family doc who might be within our network (and then actually accepting new OHP patients...) or experience with the Health Share network itself (which is so overwhelmed by calls right now they just tell you to hang up)?

The Intangible Reward: A Novelty

Yesterday morning, I received a call from the math teacher: "This is Mrs. Williams calling about your daughter."  I wasn't certain what would come next.  She went on to explain that the students participated in an intense math competition all last week, with team groups solving multi-step problems.  Our daughter's team won.  The prize: calls to the teammates' parents to recognize their efforts, accomplishments, and abilities in collaboration.

A sweet gesture.

I have been recently immersed with promoting carpooling, walking, taking transit to school.  To do so, our school has employed heavy incentive tactics.  Smoothies for kids that walk to school.  Coffee for parents who carpool (i.e., drop off 2 or more students in the school lot).  Pencils, stickers, iTunes gift cards, small toys, tokens for the arcade: the whole lot.

In our object-heavy lives, it is a breath of fresh air to receive that intangible reward.  So: Thank you, Mrs. Williams, for that reminder and for the recognition.

My son: always the bad guy

February 08, 2014

Granted, I'm a little biased.  I like to think that my boy isn't always the culprit, the instigator, the initiator, the bad guy.  I know he's no angel, but I don't think he's always the bad guy, like his friend's mom likes to make out.

My boy's BFF is a like-aged boy.  They have similar interests (cars, planes, trains).  Sometimes they like to play "fight" or "karate".  They punch in the air near each other, play fighting.  They wrestle to the ground.  Sometimes, someone gets hurt.

My boy's BFF is sensitive, and my boy errs on the less sensitive side.  Any scratch can cause tears for a sensitive child.  When there is conflict, my boy's BFF is quick to raise the issue: "why did you push me?"  My boy, now hyper-sensitive about being accused, will often run from the scene, guilty-like behavior.

Once home, I will ask: "What happened today?  Why did you push?"  My boy will say: "Because he hit me first."

The scenario has played out several occassions in the same way: My boy, wrongfully accused, runs from the scene.  His BFF, potentially the instigator, cries out and points a finger.

I'm not one to intervene, but - at some point - I would like to set the story straight with the BFF's mama, who believes her son is always the victim.

Throwback Thursday: Valentines Up Next

February 06, 2014

Ideas from the archives on celebrating the patron saint of love:

What does your Valentine's Day hold for you & loved ones this year?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - February 7-9, 2014

February 05, 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.

Free First Friday at the Children's Museum. Enjoy free admission the first Friday of every month, with special crafts, activities,and musical guests. Friday 4-8pm. Free!

Portland Opera To Go Presents: La Bohème in SE PDX. Do you like stories? Music? Comedy? Theater? Then you like opera! If you have never been to an opera, Portland Opera To Go's 50-minute, English language adaptation of Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème is just the way to get acquainted. Friday 7pm, Saturday 1pm. $5 under 12 years, $10 for adults, $20 for a family of four.

Free Family Day at Washington County Museum. Join Museum staff and volunteers for free hands-on history and art activities for the whole family. Bring the kids and create a project to take home, enjoy stories, see and touch artifacts, learn about local history and more. Saturday 10am-1pm. Free!

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - February 7-9, 2014" »

When we fight: Kids say the darndest things

February 04, 2014

This morning, my boy woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  He didn't want breakfast, he didn't want to get dressed, he didn't want to go to school.  He was sour, through and through.  He was wearing on his dad's patience with every "no" and refusal.  Negativity rose further to physical manifestations.  Our boy threw a dish rag at his dad.  And, to climax: "I don't want you to be my dad anymore!"

I wanted to give our boy & his dad some time to cool off.  I said to our boy, "That isn't loving or kind," which is sometimes my auto-response to negative comments or behavior.  

Kids say the darndest things, even things like "I hate you, Mama".  Many times, these statements are made in the heat of a moment; they are things they might not really mean.

Before long, and before we were heading to school, our boy went to his dad to apologize.  "I'm sorry, Dad".  And, his dad to him, "I'm sorry, too.  I was just frustrated."

No doubt these moments happen in your household, too.  How do you diffuse the situation and close the loop?  How do you make amends?

Throwback Thursday: Kinder Questions

January 30, 2014

With the new school year soon down the road, many mamas & papas are starting to talk about starting school, which school to visit, getting on the Round-Up circuit.  To help further this process, we thought we'd offer up some topics from years past in this week's Throwback Thursday:

Here are the upcoming dates for Connect to Kindergarten dates at PPS schools.

Your strategy or thoughts on upcoming round-ups and school searches?

Screen Time and Family Screen Policy

I just watched a New York Times mini-documentary on China's Web Junkies, and it simply shocked me.

I don't spend much time fearing things, but internet addiction in kids/teens really scares me. Ever since I read a research-based article connecting the Thurston High School shooter to heavy usage of violent video games, I've made a commitment to never allowing violent games in our home. "Using" the internet has all the makings for a serious addiction: easy access, mindless pleasure and a way to fill the void inside. As the video clearly shows, loneliness is both the root and the outcome of craving connection through the internet. If we're honest, many of us parents are already addicted. I know I am on some level. Email and the worldwide web were emerging as I began my career, and I've never worked without the company of a computer. Now I can/need to view my three email accounts from my phone and research anything that pops into my mind. Facebook can be all too tempting, as it does serve as a social medium for staying connected with my friends in town and across the globe. There can be pure joy found in heartwarming messages that come at just the right moment. But, in my opinion, connecting socially online shouldn't happen while your kids are craving your attention.

As busy parents, I don't expect anyone to go offline, but its important to become aware of our usage in the presence of our kids. We are settling the cultural norm by demonstrating our values. If we don't give our kids the deep and genuine attention they crave now, it's all too likely that they will turn to the internet or other addictions when they grow up. If you're following my new blog, you'll know that my family recently drafted our first Family Screen Policy.

Despite his friends getting vastly more screen time, our does son seem very satisfied with earning a limited amount through reading. Our kids are still way more interested in sports, making art and getting outside, but at least now we both have some guidance about when it's allowed. I've also found that I'm walking my talk more now and fighting the impulse to check-in online when the kids are around. Does your family have a screen policy? Have you witnessed or felt addicted to the internet? How important (or challenging) is it for you to unplug?

This is guest post by Darcy Cronin, a mother of three, blogger, and small business adventurer. Darcy became certified as a Simplicity Parenting Coach to help busy families create paths toward meaningful values and more sustainable lifestyles. Follow her blog and sign up for workshops at Darcy's Utopia.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - January 31 - February 2, 2014

January 29, 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.

Chinese New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden. Gung Hay Fat Choy (Happy New Year)! It's time to celebate The Year of the Horse at Lan Su Chinese Garden. People born in the Year of the Horse are generally popular, smart, and strong. Activities include lion dancers, a visit from the Portland Police Mounted Patrol Unit, a martial arts demonstration, arts and crafts, and much more. Learn more about this most colorful and joyous of all Chinese festivals during the two-week celebration at Lan Su, January 31-February 14, 2014. 

Here in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, we have many opportunities experience the culture of Chinese New Year, from dances and performances to crafts and stories. Click here for a great guide to events for you to celebrate with your family - from PDX Kids Calendar.

Weekly Storytime + Craft at Craft Factory. Friday morning storytimes are free, with a storytime craft special: $5 for any two ornamental crafts. If your child would like to do something other than the ornamental craft, they are welcome to choose a regularly-priced ($12) base. Friday 10:30-11am.    

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - January 31 - February 2, 2014" »

The Pressure of Production: how far does it go?

A text was followed by an email, with basically the same message.  Short, sweet, urgent: "What are tips for increasing production?"  Sent by my sister-in-law, first-time mom to a four-month old, now back at work as an elemtary teacher, she wanted to know every trick in the book to keep supply ample, abundant.

We have an archive chock full of advice for pumping, so look there for discussion on the classic working mamas nursing conundrum or for the mama who pumps a lot.

Does production wane as the babies age?  But, even more importantly, how we navigate and negotiate this constant pressure to produce, the constant burden to make more milk to nourish our young, the everyday need to make sure our babies continue to mark progress tracked by ounces and pounds.  It is a worry and a stressor, and it can certainly mess with supply.

At what point do we introduce supplements?  At what point to we throw up hands and say: "I just cannot make enough for you, baby girl, as much as I love you and as much as I want to make more."  It's not for want that many of us cannot supply.  Have you experienced this pressure to produce?  Have you accepted other non-nursing avenues to nourishment for our littlest ones?

Breakfast Time: what do you do?

January 24, 2014

In households across America, weekday mornings are frenzied rushes of breakfast making/eating, lunch preparing, signature collecting, and homwork finishing.  Many mornings, I will find my teen with her headphones in, listening to music, while my ten-year old sits on a stool staring at a blank wall, and the 4-year old might be begging for help putting on his shirt.  Indeed, it is a mad rush to get breakfast prepared, but - once seated - then what?  Sometimes we make morning conversation, sometimes we compare dreams, sometimes we listen to NPR, sometimes we listen to pop radio.

Once you make your breakfast - eggs, oats, cereal, smoothies or something entirely else (sometimes we eat cake!)- and once your kids do the same, do you sit down and chat?  Do you each have an independent activity like reading separately?  Do you watch TV or listen to the radio?

Weekend Warriors - January 24-26, 2014

January 22, 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.

Story Time with Olive and Dingo at Pie Spot. Not your average Story Time - full of comedy, songs, stories, balloons and laughter. Sure to get the jumpers jumping, the dancers dancing, wigglers wiggling and the noise makers cooing. Friday 3-5pm. $5/child for balloons and entertainment.

Dizzy Castle Cosmic Nights. Dizzy Castle Cosmic night. Come party at the castle every Friday from 5pm-9pm! Dizzy the Dragon's dance party is an unforgettable experience with lasers, mirror lights, black lights, fog machines, strobe lights and much more! Plus each child recieves a free light saber or LED glow ring. Click here for a coupon for a free light saber or LED glow ring. Friday 5-9pm. $10.

Continue reading "Weekend Warriors - January 24-26, 2014" »

"Mama, Jack said I was small": When size matters

January 16, 2014

"Mama, Jack said I was a small boy," said my four-year old, a little forlorn.  "He said I couldn't play basketball.  Aren't I a big boy?"  Many children pride themselves in being independent, being "big", being capable, and - yes - being athletic and coordinated.

Growing up, I was often on the smaller side.  I was an autumn baby, always a bit younger than all the rest.  I think I was pretty fit and active, and I had a good shot at being chosen early on teams for games like capture the flag.

A friend commented the other day that her son was feeling less confident on his basketball team, being one of the shorter members.  He, a fifth grader, was about the same height as his 2nd grade sister.

Does size matter?  A few years back, we talked about being vertically challenged and some medical interventions.  But for those that let height run its natural course, how has size played out on the playground, on sports teams, in friendships and beyond?  Is it a big deal when they are younger?  Is it a bigger deal when they are older?  Is it not a big deal at all?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - JANUARY 17-19, 2014

January 15, 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.

14,267 Used Books Book Sale in Vancouver. Thousands of books of all kinds for sale. Children's books, young adult, fiction, non-fiction, you name it - they've got it! Proceeds benefit the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Summer Reading Program and the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation. Friday & Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 11am-3pm. Free!

Preschool Play at Children's Gym. A program where parents of 3-5 year olds can drop their children off at the gym from 9:30am-1:00pm. It is a great time to run errands, make a lunch date, or just have a few hours of relaxation time. Let the kids play in the gym and do arts and crafts. There's time set aside for a snack and lunch. Weekdays 9:30am-1pm. $25-40.

Mountain Park Rec Center Family Concert Series Debut: The Portland Opera. Event features a 50-minute, kid-friendly performance of "La Boheme" by members of the Portland Opera. With Portland Opera-to-Go, English adaptations of famous operas are fully staged, with sets, costumes and piano accompaniment. Friday 7-8pm. $5.

Grandparents Day at the Craft Factory. Special craft time for  grandparents/grandparent-like-people and littles. Saturday 10am-2pm. $12 - two-for-one.

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - JANUARY 17-19, 2014" »

Mamas: Finding your BFF

January 13, 2014

Moving to Portland was scary and exciting all at the same time.  We heard rave reviews of the city, we were thrilled at the opportunity to try it out for a spin.  We arrived, 7 months pregnant with 3-year old in tow, and we knew just one or two other people, my partners' colleagues.

The rest is almost history.  That was over ten years ago, and I met my mama BFF within months of moving to Portland.  When we first moved, I was eager to hit the mama-dating circuit, to meet other like-minded families, to share fun & adventures with new-found friends.  We gave birth to urbanMamas.com where countless other mamas & papas have made connections - found life-long friends, care providers, jobs, support through transitions like moves or divorce - all through the urbanMamas community.  Needless to say, I found my mama BFF plus so many other dear, close friends.  

And, then: we moved.  

Two years after the move, I have to say: I am still seeking a new partner-in-crime, a new best mama pal.  I am still seeking that special someone(s) who will make me laugh so hard I pee, who will talk to me about peeing when I run and how to deal with it, who will talk through career issues like working part-time or trailblazing mamahood in the workplace.

Maybe when you find your mama BFF, it's one and only.  Maybe it just takes a bit more time.  Maybe it requires being even more outgoing than ever.

When you move to a new place or start at a new school and start afresh: how do you make friends?  What are you looking for?  Candlelit dinners & walks on the beach?  Similar-aged kids, similar lifestyles, similar family structures or values?  What have you found was the absolute thing that draws you to another mama?

 

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?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - JANUARY 10-12, 2014

January 08, 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.

Mommy & Me - Io e la Mamma - Italian Playgroup for children and caregiveer - NW PDX. This program is open to all children, ages 18 to 36 months, from those who are new to the language to those who speak it in their everyday lives. Native Italian teacher, Lucia Biancalana Cantone, hosts simple crafts, songs, nursery rhymes, games, and free play. Friday 10-11am. Free!

Eight Free Days at Lan Su Chinese Garden. Much more than just a beautiful botanical garden, Lan Su is a creative wonder -- a powerfully inspiring experience based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that melds art, architecture, design and nature in perfect harmony. Free admission through Saturday 1/11 with donation of non-perishable food for each entry.

Portland Boat Show at the Expo Center. Kids 12 and under can build a small boat to take home free. Grown-ups can discover the latest boat lines, technology and accessories, and a huge selection of previously owned boats, fun features like beer tasting, the huge Escapade Houseboat and more. Friday 11am-9pm, Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm. $10, free ages 0-12

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - JANUARY 10-12, 2014" »

Resolutions: do you make them? what about the kids?

January 06, 2014

As I sift through the archives, I am nostalgic reading our resolutions of yesteryear.  From Sarah, "New Decade, New Resolutions" (circa 2010) featuring writing letters, having conversations, generally stopping to smell the roses.  Two years prior, we were thinking similar themes, "Mama Resolutions for 2008", including reading more and spending more quality time with the spouse.  Some years, we focus on more healthy eating as a resolution (circa 2009), or some years we talk about new resolutions as new life-long commitments.

At the moment, I am not sure.  In years past, I would take out my list of resolutions from last year, cross out the year on top and replace it with the new year date ("read book, learn new piano song, diversify fitness regimen").  I think I shouldn't even think about resolutions anymore for fear that they will continue on unfulfilled.

What about the kids?  Are you starting to talk to them about setting new goals and meeting them?  Is there a lot of resolution-talk in your household?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - January 3-5, 2014

January 01, 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.

Portland Child Art Studio - Open Studio. Introduce your child to all different kinds of artistic mediums and the endless ways that they can explore and create with the materials at hand. Friday & Saturday 10am-5pm. Suggested donation of $10.

Open Studio Drop in at Art ala Carte. Come visit the "all you can make art bars" - salad bars filled to the brim with feathers, googly eyes, crayons, beads and every other imaginable supply. Pay one low price at the door and allow your child to create as much as the want. No reservation required. Friday 10am-5pm. Saturday 10am-4pm.. $9 for 0-4, $11 for 5 and up.

Penny's Puppets presents "Three Billy Goats Gruff" at Central Lutheran Church NE PDX. This adaptation of the traditional tale will be a favorite for all ages. The mean and friendless Tarrent the troll guards a bridge that crosses to yummy beautiful green pastures. The hungry 3 Billy goat brothers would like to cross it and eat what is on the other side. Help them find a solution - sing, dance and cheer on the three clever Billy goats as they try to go across the bridge and outsmart the Bullying troll. A mini- musical original by Penny's Puppet Productions. Friday 10:30am. $5/each or $17 for four.

Closing weekend for Northwest Children's Theatre's Peter Pan . Peter Pan, Wendy, and the Lost Boys are back for the holidays! Be a part of the most popular show in NWCT history as the "boy who would not grow up" flies from London to Neverland, does battle with Captain Hook and his cowardly pirates, and revels in the adventure of childhood. Best ages 6+. Friday 2pm and 7pm. Saturday & Sunday 2pm & 6pm. $18-$22

Free First Friday at the Children's Museum. Enjoy free admission the first Friday of every month, with special crafts, activities,and musical guests. Friday 4-8pm. Free!

Eight Free Days at Lan Su Chinese Garden. Much more than just a beautiful botanical garden, Lan Su is a creative wonder -- a powerfully inspiring experience based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that melds art, architecture, design and nature in perfect harmony. Free admission Saturday 1/4-Saturday 1/11 with donation of non-perishable food for each entry.

Once Upon a Time Family Theatre Presents Little Red Riding Hood in SE PDX. Join Little Red Riding Hood as she explores what friendship really means.  Once Upon a Time Family Theatre is a magical mix of theatrical simplicity and grand storytelling for kids and their families. There's always a slight twist to the traditional story that keeps these productions fresh. Though simply produced, these delightful and engaging productions will soon have everyone fully absorbed in the interaction of live theatre. Help bring this tale to life on our Stage!  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are available online. Saturday noon-1pm. $1/child, $2/adult.

Books, Books, Books: Time to Create Your Own at Rockwood Library. Children will learn the art of making blank books in which to record their thoughts and drawings. During this class, an artist will work with children to create two personal hard cover accordion pleated books. Children can design their own covers or use decorative papers to create their one-of-a-kind books. Drawing materials will be on hand for children to decorate, draw or write in their completed books. Saturday 1:30-3:00pm. Free!

Tinkerbell Storytime at Midland Library. Tinkerbell tells her story about Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Lost Boys and all the adventures in Neverland. An interactive story time with live princess character "Tinkerbell" from Dragon Theater. The show features props, sets and interactive storytelling. Saturday 2-2:45pm. Free!

First Sunday at OMSI. Explore OMSI for $2 every first Sun. 9:30 am-5:30 pm. Parking $3.

Mr. Palindrome at Treehouse Children's Boutique. Mr. Palindrome (Natan Kuchar) wants to help kids get comfortable with words, even really, really big words. Along with some starting-point palindromes, Mr. Palindrome introduces concepts like "alliteration," "anagrams" and "onomatopoeia." Sing along and learn how to sing the "Backwards Alphabet," and a whole gaggle of "Tongue Twisters." Mr. Palindrome also demonstrates crafts like how to make a pencil case or build a cup tower, all simple and silly ways to have fun and learn new things. Sunday 1pm. $5.  

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - DECEMBER 27-29, 2013

December 25, 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.

Winter Whale Watch Week on Oregon Coast. Whale watching takes place almost year-round on the Oregon Coast. The whales migrate past on their way to and from the waters off Alaska and Mexico. We watch whales in the winter from mid-December through January. Volunteers will help you spot whales and answer questions at 24 sites along the coast. Dec 26-31st. See website for specific times. Free!

Penny's Puppets Fay the Fairy and the Pine Tree at Central Lutheran Church NE PDX. Ever wish you were something that you are not? Newton a little Fir tree wishes his pine needles were more important and beautiful to help him stand out, so much so that he makes a wish upon a falling star. Fay the Fairy comes to grant his wish. But is it really what Newton needs? Join Penny in this adaptation of a classic folktale and sing, laugh and dance our way to the answer. A mini- musical original by Penny's Puppet Productions. Friday 10:30am. $5, 4 for $17

Music with Mr. Hoo at Village Ballroom. Mr. Hoo (one half of The Alphabeticians), plays fun music for kids and their grown-ups. He plays guitar and kazoo, and sings songs that  get the audience clapping and moving and singing along. Friday 11am-noon. $5/family.

The Hullabaloo in Milwaukie: Red Goes Green. Little Red Riding Hood - with a twist! JANE a theater company has added a global warming message, songs, joke and LOTS of fun! Friday 7pm, Saturday & Sunday at 2pm and 4pm. Free!

Peter Pan at NWCT. Peter Pan, Wendy, and the Lost Boys are back for the holidays! Be a part of the most popular show in NWCT history as the "boy who would not grow up" flies from London to Neverland, does battle with Captain Hook and his cowardly pirates, and revels in the adventure of childhood. Best ages 6+. Friday 2pm & 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 2pm and 6pm, . $18-$22

Free Fourth Friday at the Portland Art Museum. Free Museum general admission and $5 admission to Samurai! from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets required for Samurai! special exhibition. A limited number of Samurai! tickets will be offered for advance purchase, so keep an eye on the Museum's Facebook page for an announcement when tickets go on sale. Friday 5-8pm.

FROGZ at Imago Theatre. Alligators, haunted strings, musical windbags and an endless cowboy are just a few of the incredible creatures that come to life in this fantastical show that has been acclaimed worldwide for over three decades. Best for ages 4+. Friday 7pm, Saturday noon and 3pm, Sunday 2pm. $31 adults, $27 youth, $15 kids.

Tess on an Alien Planet at the Echo Theatre. Tess on an Alien Planet is the inaugural live show produced by the Echo Theater Company. It is an original Science Fiction adventure utilizing aerial dance, partner acrobatics, and ensemble devised physical theater. Friday 7:30pm, Saturday & Sunday 1pm and 4:30pm. $15-22.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the Newmark. Step into the enchanted world of Broadway's modern classic, Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Based on the Academy-Award winning animated feature, the stage version includes all of the wonderful songs written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. Friday 7:30pm, Saturday 2pm and 7:30pm, Sunday 2pm. $30-$58

OMSI: Electrifying Science at Vancouver's Cascade Park Library. Learn all about electricity. Where does it come from? Is it all the same? Can you make your own? Saturday 2-3pm. Free!

Family Sleepover at Oregon Coast Aquarium. You'll have the Aquarium to yourself as you travel through exhibits on a scavenger hunt, participate in hands-on activities, and experience early morning behind-the-scenes. After a fun-filled evening exploring life under the ocean, be lulled to sleep by the soothing sights of the Passages tunnel. Includes a full dinner with vegetarian options, a late snack and a light breakfast. Families with kids ages 6+. Saturday 6-9pm. $60 person, member discount.

Stories of the Monkey King in SW PDX. Traditional Chinese and Japanese folktales told by Dr. John M.K. Wang in celebration of the holiday season. Hands-on puppetry fun from Ping Pong's Pint Sized Puppet Museum and bamboo stick jumping. Sunday 1-3pm. $15 adult, $10 children (8th grade and younger).

Family Open Studio at 100th Monkey. A special family only time in their open studio space. Work on one piece as a family or let each person follow the voice of their inner creative. Sunday 1-3pm. Prices vary. 

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - DECEMBER 20-22, 2013

December 18, 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.

Portland Child Art Studio - Open Studio classes. Introduce your child to all different kinds of artistic mediums and the endless ways that they can explore and create with the materials at hand. Fri & Sat 10am-5pm. Suggested donation of $10.

Spanish BabyTime Posada at TaborSpace. Come help celebrate a Latino Christmas tradition with a posada navideña. We will start with a few spanish nursery rhymes and finish with a piñata, crafts and food. Friday 10:30-11:30am. $3.

Family Park Night at East Portland Community Center. Low cost night out with the family. Indoor Park toys, sports and trampoline. 1st and 3rd Fridays 6:30-8:30pm. $1.25/child.

The Hullabaloo in Milwaukie. Little Red Riding Hood--with a twist! JANE a theater company has added a global warming message, songs, joke and LOTS of fun! Based on the grand tradition of British pant with songs by Greg Paul and book by Kim Bogus. Shows Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Free!

Tess on an Alien Planet at Echo Theater. Show is an original Science Fiction adventure utilizing aerial dance, partner acrobatics, and ensemble devised physical theater. Tess, a scientist, finds herself unexpectedly stranded in a surprising, lonely, and wondrous place. Opens Friday 7:30pm. $15-22.


Winter Break Open Studio at Art ala Carte. Extended open studio hours to make gifts, cards, decor and more! Bring a sweater in to "uglify" with pom poms, ribbons, beads, small toys and trinkets. Bring in stockings to "glitterfy." Or use the overflowing supplies from the art bars. Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm. $9 for artists ages 1-4. $11 for artists 5-105.

DIY Terrarium Day at Birds and Bees Nursery. Stop by anytime to make a terrarium for yourself or someone on your list, using tropicals, succulents or carnivorous plants! Saturday 10am-6pm. Prices vary.

Vibe Holiday Open Studio at TaborSpace. Vibe opens its studio for a variety of holiday projects for kids and families. Age appropriate projects will be available for kids ages 3 and up. Saturday 10am-1pm. $5 suggested donation per child.

Grandparent's Day at Craft Factory. Two-for-one craft special for grandparents and grandparent/grandchildren-like people with their grandchildren. Saturday 10am-2pm. $12+.

Mix Up Magical Reindeer Food in NoPo. Creative Recycling Workshops will be at Queens Mab so you can mix up some magical Reindeer food, a sensory experience for kids of all ages. Saturday 11am-1pm. $1 suggested donation.

Daddy & Me Free Indoor Play at Moxie Dance Theatre. >Free indoor open play time for Daddy's to bring their babies (0-4 years) to play. All surfaces are baby and kid friendly. Reservations required. Sunday 10am-2pm. Free!

Family Fun Time at Unplugged Games. Whether your family likes classic board games, card games, or is looking to learn something new, Unplugged Games has lots of great ideas to make family game time fun. Try one of the games from our library, or bring one from home to play with new friends. See a new game you want to learn? Our staff will teach you. Sunday noon-4pm. Free!
 
Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

Seeking Advice on Where to Give Birth

Another good question from one of our readers: I am expecting our first baby next year in February and i am still torn between delivering at Legacy Meridian Park (which is closer to our home, left me with a very good first impression during the hospital tour but doesn't have midwifes) vs. St. Vincent (which would give me the option to use a Midwife but is further away from our home, overall a much more large volume hospital and i just didn't felt very comfortable being at during the hospital tour). I was trying to find recent reviews on both hospitals but wasn't very lucky. I saw there were posts about Legacy Meridian Park on the urban mamas webpage but these were from 4yrs ago. Are you aware of any more recent reviews for either of the two hospital or have any advice for me on what i should be prioritizing when choosing a hospital: getting the right set of providers but being in an environment which at first sight i didn't felt very comfortable in vs. being somewhere where at first sight i felt comfortable but i need to stick to with providers (namely doctors) i might be nervous about as those might be quicker to intervene medically?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - December 13-15, 2013

December 11, 2013

Here’s the scoop for the weekend. For more ideas on what to do this weekend, check the Events Calendar on Metro Parent's PDX Kids Calendar and the urbanMamas calendar page.

Boxing Day at Gregory Heights Library. Unpack your imagination and come to the library to make art, build, play and pretend with cardboard boxes. Friday 10am-noon. Free!

Rock 'n' Roll PJ Party! at Little Wing in SE. Parents, enjoy a night out while your little musician rocks out! Wear your favorite PJ's, bring a pillow & snack, enjoy fun musical activities, games and stories with Little Wing! Friday 6-8pm. To register & for additional info visit portland.littlewing.com, then "Register Now". Current Students: $20; Potential Students: $25.

Make-A-Gift Faire! at Micha-el School. Give your child the unique experience of crafting special holiday gifts for loved ones and friends. All supplies provided. Cost: $4 per craft or $14 for 4 crafts. Appropriate for ages 3-11 yrs. Saturday 10am-2pm.

The Alphabeticians at Sunnyside Library. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can move and groove with something special each month. Mr. Hoo and Mr. E are going to rock out and make some noise at the library. Saturday 10:30-11:30am. Free!

Gnome for the Holidays on Alberta. Come find all of the festively painted gnomes hidden within Alberta Street business window displays and win great prizes!! Starts Saturday and runs through 12/22.

Second Saurday at Vancouver's Water Center. How are rainbows made? Why are bubbles shiny? Can you make a prism? Kids and their families are invited to explore a different topic through hands-on activities, games and stories. Saturday 1-3pm. Free!

Tuba Christmas Concert at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Downtown will pulse with the melodic sounds of big brass as over 250 tubas play in unison for the Tuba Christmas Concert. Saturday 1:30pm. Free!

Holiday Art Making at CHAP. For $5, you can come into the studio and have unlimited supply of paint, paper, glitter and collage materials. For an additional $5 artists can create an additional project such as a stocking, candle holder, ornament or picture frame. Sunday 11am-5pm.

Student Music Groups at Pioneer Courthouse Square - Sunday: Animate Voice Studio 11am-noon, Dance Fusion NW noon-1pm. Free!

Gnome Forest Festival Celebration at Green Bean Books. We're having a Gnome Story Time and Craft! Enjoy stories of these tiny magical creatures and then make your own clothespin gnome. Call to register 503-954-2354. Sunday 1-1:30pm. Free!

Honky Tonk Christmas with Brad Creel & the Reel Deel. Introduce your kids to Reel country music, playing your favorite holiday hits with that tradtional country twang.  There is food for the family and a dancefloor for the kids. Sunday 5-7pm. $5 adults, children 12 and under free!

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

UM on OMamas - Simplicity Parenting 101

In case you didn't catch the interview with The Oregonian's OMama, Amy Wang - check out her online article: 

Simplicity Parenting coach offers Portland course

While Amy and I bonded over pho, she took copious notes to learn the basics of Simplicity Parenting. We both had to laugh when she admitted that her week had been too hectic to really check out the new blog before we met. I know when I first read and reviewed Simplicity Parenting  I was far too busy with summer camping trips to even think about decluttering or setting a screen policy.

Face it, in this busy age, there's never really an easy time to begin to simplify. That's why the movement has encouraged three things above all else:

  1. Create "Small Doable Changes"
  2. Celebrate incremental success 
  3. Build a support network

If you are ready for more than a five-minute article based on a one hour lunch, then I hope you'll come to my free intro workshop and/or join the growing movement by signing up for my January workshops.

In anticipation of  the holidays, here is a fresh post from my new blog on Christmas Countdown vs. Simplicity Slowdown

May this season bring your family true fun and festivities!

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Darcy Cronin is a mother of three, blogger, and small business adventurer. Darcy became certified as a Simplicity Parenting Coach to help families create paths toward meaningful values and more sustainable lifestyles. Follow her blog and sign up for workshops at Darcy's Utopia.

Adopt a Family 2013 - from mine to yours

December 08, 2013

The urbanMamas community has a long history of adopting a family, pooling resources to be able to offer another family the brightest of holidays.  This year, my own family decided to adopt a small family, and I cannot tell you how powerful it has been from the beginning.

Our school district serves hundreds of children who are homeless.  My kids and I went to the district office to adopt a small family - a mom, her 4-year old daughter and her 9-year old son.  They don't have a wish list, but there are some suggestions on what to get them.  Toiletries in a portable bag for mom including deodorant and bath gels.  Compact blankets or sleeping bags that fit into a backpack for the kids, as sometimes there aren't enough blankets at the shelters.  Speaking of backpacks: a pack or duffle bag that can easily fit all of these items for easy transport.  Warm pants, coat, gloves, as the wintery season is now upon us.

The kids are putting love into thinking practically and sensibly about what the kids might love most.  Toys with many pieces might be frivolous.  Paperbacks instead of hardbacks?  They are value shopping, thinking what can we get more for less?  3 pairs of socks for $3.99 versus 2 pairs of socks for $2.99.

As they write their own wish lists to send to family who ask for them, they start to think of how superfluous their requests might be.  We live charmed lives, even if we feel like we cannot have everything we want.  We do, basically, have everything we need.  For this, we are so grateful.

This year, urbanMamas isn't hosting a family as a community, but there are many other opportunities to join other groups in their adopt-a-family efforts and wrapping parties.  If you have a group looking for more participants, please post below!

For a glimpse on our adopt-a-family achievements in the past:

ISO: Co-Parent, not Partner

December 06, 2013

A dear friend of mine has seen relationships come and go in the past 15 years.  Always knowing she wanted to be a mother, she has taken the plunge into fertility treatments and insemination.  She is not alone in this quest.  Many women find themselves in a predicament where they are partnerless but wanting to be a parent.  Have you encountered the same?  Perhaps the outcome is single parenting by choice or perhaps finding a co-parent, though not a partner.

A recent email came in from an urbanMama-to-be:

I am currently single and interested in finding someone that wants to become a co-parent. I was in a 6 year relationship with a man I thought I would marry and have a child with. We bought a home together in July of 2011. In November that year he told me he was no longer sure if he wanted to be a dad. We went to counseling, and tried for 1 year to help him come to a decision. He couldn't, so I left. We sold our home I'm May of this year, and I have been single and living in an apartment since. I want to be a mom, I'm 38, never did I see myself in this situation.

Simplicity Santa - FREE Simplicity Parenting Intro

December 03, 2013

Do you get overwhelmed by the stress of the holidays? Are you tired of adding more stuff to your already cluttered home? Do you want to start the New Year with less stress and more family joy?
 
Come to a FREE Simplicity Parenting Introduction:
 
Where: Milagros Boutique - 5433 NE 30th Ave (NE Killingsworth)
When: Thursday, December 12th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
RSVP: darcysutopiapdx@gmail.com or just post a comment below
 
Learn about the growing parenting movement that helps you simplify your schedule, declutter and destress your life. Based on the book, Simplicity Parenting; Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, this free holiday-inspired workshop will be led by certified Simplicity Parenting Coach, Darcy Cronin. 
 
urbanMamas is partnering to host this essential holiday event, and will be providing yummy snacks and wine. uM is also excited to announce that Darcy will be a guest blogger @UM. Darcy has been blogging at Sustainable Family Finances for almost five years, and will add a new perspective to our community. Learn more at her new blog, Darcy's Utopia.
 
So, whether simplifying has been on your perpetual to-do list for a while now or you're just curious, this free intro session is your way to find out about this alternative parenting movement. 
 
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Darcy Cronin is a mother of three, blogger, and small business adventurer. Darcy became certified as a Simplicity Parenting Coach to help families create paths toward meaningful values and more sustainable lifestyles. Follow her blog and sign up for workshops at Darcy's Utopia.
 
 

Suggestions for Vegan/Vegan-Friendly Infant Childcare?

November 26, 2013

The mamas and I are well beyond the infant daycare stages so we don't even have suggestions for Marianna in her search for vegan/vegan-friendly childcare. She writes: "Do you have a list or know of a list of vegan/vegan friendly daycares that will take infants as young as six weeks old?Unfortunately I just moved up here and will more than likely only get that six weeks off that is required by law. An from my research most daycares that are vegan friendly only take babies that are 6 months/toddler ages. I really don't want to send my son to a commercial type daycare, because I've heard a lot of them won't let you bring your own food and I don't want to bounce him around all over the place once we start him on solids (I'm making his baby food). I'm not due until April but I've heard its very hard to find childcare for an infant and wanted to start sooner rather than later. I apologize I'm a first time mom and not sure where to start but your site is the only place where I've seen listings for alternative childcare. If you could give me any advice I would greatly appreciate it." Any suggestions?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - NOVEMBER 22-24, 2013

November 20, 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.

 Music with Mr. Hoo at Village Ballroom. Mr. Hoo (one half of The Alphabeticians), plays fun music for kids and their grown-ups. He plays guitar and kazoo, and sings songs that  get the audience clapping and moving and singing along. Friday 11am-noon. $5/family.

Tableside Magic at Hillsboro's Out of this World.  Enjoy close up tableside magic with a roaming magician. Let the kids get their wiggles out with the areas best active play while you treat yourself to our fresh salad bar and handmade pizza buffet. Friday 5:30-8pm. Free with kids entry to play ($5/$7)

Columbia Gorge Model RR Show in NoPo. Get a close look at elaborate model railroad sets, including 4200 sq.ft. of HO Railroad, models of vintage passenger trains, models of steam engines of days gone by, model drive-in movie theater and track side signals that work like the prototype railroads. Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. $6 adults, $2 ages 3-11.

Tears of Joy Theatre presents "The Reluctant Dragon" at Imago Theatre. What happens when a dragon moves into the neighborhood? Find out in this delightful play based on the story by Kenneth Grahame. Arrive one hour prior to performance for free puppet craft activity. Tears of Joy celebrates a new performance venue at Imago Theatre. Saturday 11am and 1pm. Sunday 1pm and 3pm.

Dance Mosaic at Metro Arts. Experience a rich variety of dance works by gifted local and nationally known choreographers, spanning a variety of styles from classical to modern and ballet to jazz. Saturday 3 and 7pm. $15 Advance/$18 at the door.

Portland Baroque Orchestra Young People's Concert at First Baptist Church. A fun, educational, and interactive presentation of baroque music suitable for the whole family. Concerts are typically an hour long and feature selections of music from a concert in the current season program. Saturday 3-4pm. $10 adult, $5 ages 0-18.

Thanksgiving walk at Oxbow Regional Park. Celebrate the gifts of nature with Metro naturalist Dan Daly, Deerdance School's Terry Kem and others. Then gather around the campfire to hear the 'Thanksgiving Address' passed down by the Iroquois Nation. Hot drinks provided. Suitable for all ages. Advanced registration required. Sunday 10:30am-12:30pm. Event is free, $5 per vehicle to enter park.

Oregon Symphony Kids Concert - A Musical Feast - at Schnitzer Hall. Who has more fun with food than kids? And here in Portland, where Food is spelled with a capital F, even the music is delicious when it includes the Chicken Reel and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. With Pacific Youth Choir, Dance West and narrator Pam Mahon. Designed for kids age 5-10. Sunday 2-3pm. $10-$27

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - NOVEMBER 15-17, 2013

November 13, 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.

Holiday Tree Arrival in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Come downtown to welcome the arrival of Portland's 75-foot tall Douglas Fir to Portland's Living Room. Festivities include a visit from Santa, the Beat Goes on Marching Band, seasonal songs performed by the Dickens Carolers and free hot chocolate. Friday noon-1pm.

Family Park Night at East Portland Community Center. Join for a low-cost solution to a nigh out with the family. Includes Indoor Park toys, sports equipment & trampoline. Drop in 1st & 3rd Fridays from 6:30-8:30pm. $1.25/child. pg 11 on PDF.

Kids Morning Skate at Oaks Park. Skate games, 15 minute group lesson. The Hokey Pokey never goes out of style! For kids 10 and younger. Saturday 10:30-noon. $6.50/child.

Museum Family Saturday at the Maritime Museum. Families are invited to discover Portland's maritime history with a craft project to take home. Museum Family Saturdays, on the third Saturday of every month, are free to families with children under 18. Saturday 11am-4pm. Free!

Salmon Release at Tillamook Forest Center. Submerge yourself in the world of salmon. Explore life cycles, habitat requirements, and the underwater oasis of these dynamic fish. Visitors will be exploring the wild salmon habitat and walk a short distance to release live small fry into Jones Creek. Saturday & Sunday 1pm. Free!

Nature Day at Jenkins Estate. Explore and look for signs of porcupine, deer and Pileated Woodpeckers while learning  how we are all connected to the nature around us. Sunday 11am-3pm. Free!

7th annual Adoption Information Day. November marks National Adoption Awareness Month. The event will feature local adoption agencies and support resources. Topics will include How to Get Started, Financing Adoption, Overview of all types of Adoption and much more. Saturday noon-4:30pm. $5 admission

Rose Buds Jr. Roller Derby at The Hangar at Oaks Park. The Rosebuds bring you a double-header of derby action, as the Death Scar Derby Droids bout against the Rainbow Bites, followed by the Little Red Riveters vs. Undead Avengers. Saturday. Doors at 5pm. Event 6-8:30pm. $14-20.

Free Family and Community Day at Portland Art Museum. Discover the world of venerable samurai warriors and the virtues of courage, loyalty, perseverance, and honor through a day of storytelling, art-making, and martial arts demonstrations. Sunday noon-4pm. Free!

Play Date Music Show at Treehouse Children's Boutique. Play Date is headed to Portland after the Austin City Limits Music Festival for a fun music Party with you! Games will be played and prizes will be won. Dances will be taught and fun will be had. Sunday 1-2pm. $5 in advance, $6 at the door.

The Alphabeticians Full Band at Village Ballroom. The Alphabeticians, Portland's premiere family friendly musical duo, are going quartet!  For one show only, Mr. E and Mr. Hoo will be joined by Matt Clark (bass) and Scott Crabtree (drums) to play all your favorite Alphabeticians songs with a full rock n roll sound.  Breakdown to your favorite backbeats, go low with the bass jam, air guitar during the guitar solo and swoon to the sweet four part harmonies. Sunday 4-5:30pm. $5.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

WEEKEND WARRIORS - NOVEMBER 8-10, 2013

November 06, 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.

Youth Volunteer Day at Schoolhouse Supplies. Share the experience of giving back to the community with your children. Projects good for kids ages 5+, all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations required. Friday 10am-noon. Free!

Portland Child Art Studio - Open Studio Classes. Children will smudge chalk, sculpt clay, twist wire, drip glue, balance objects into sculpture, and cover their hands in gooey paper-mache. Monday noon-3:30pm. Tuesday 10am-1pm and 3:30-6pm. Wednesday 10am-1pm. Friday 10:30-11:30am. Saturday 10am-1pm. Suggestion donation of $10/child.

Date Night Drop Off at Collage Sellwood. Sign your kids up and go out for a date. Collage will have a plethora of crafts to keep them busy. Ages 6+. Friday 6:30-8:30pm. $20.

Veterans Day Weekend at Fort Vancouver. Enjoy history for free this weekend. The Fort is honoring those who have served and who are serving in the military. Saturday & Sunday 9am-4pm.  Monday noon-4pm. Free!

Star Wars Day! at Child's Play. Star Wars character appearances by Cloud City Garrison. Come in costume and take a picture with a favorite Star Wars character. Star Wars cupcakes, snacks and decor. Win prizes in the annual "Toy Walk". 20% of all sales on November 9th will go to support our local schools! Complementary gift wrap. Saturday 10am-noon. 

Columbia Gorge Model RR Show in NoPo. Get a close look at elaborate model railroad sets - vintage passenger trains, steam engines of days gone by, model drive-in movie theater and track side signals that work like the prototype railroads. Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. $6 adults, $2 ages 3-11.

The Children's Book Bank Book Fair at Clackamas Barnes & Noble. Marimba, live illustration, face painting, story times, science workshops and more. All proceeds of books purchased benefit Children's Book Bank (must mention you're shopping to support them). Saturday noon-4pm. Free!

Curious Garden at the Curious Comedy Theater. A special show for the whole family - especially kids 0-8 years old. Sunday 10:30am. $5 suggested donation.

Jump for Joy Farm Family Farm Day. With a variety of engaging farm activities for the day for kids aged 5-12, including family crafts, projects and more, with no clean-up afterwards! Sunday 1-4pm. $29.99 for 1 child and 1-2 adults.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Have fun out there! And don't forget to double-check event details by calling or checking the website of the venue, performer, or host organization.

Reminder: Lunch on Thursday, November 7.

November 04, 2013

Reminder: Lunch on Thursday, November 7. Details and RSVP here

WEEKEND WARRIORS - November 1-3, 2013

October 30, 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.

Music Class with Mo Phillips at The Treehouse. Join for a rockin' good time. Friday 10am. $5/child. Just one week left to support Mo's Kickstarter Campaign for the new album.

First Friday at Art ala Carte. Enjoy open studio every First Friday of the month on donation basis only. No studio fee all day! You choose how little or how much you want to donate! You can make monetary donations or bring in art supplies/recycled goodies or art related books. Most needed this month:bows, bells, baby food jars, mason jars, hardware, shoe boxes, small happy meal style toys, googly eyes, glitter and pom poms. Friday 10am-5pm. 

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - November 1-3, 2013" »

School Volunteering: "Just Tell Me What to Do"

October 29, 2013

We are in the throes of planning for one of our school's largest events and traditions, a fall harvest festival, featuring food from around the globe, cultural displays, and a midway section of carnival games.  A significant endeavor, planning meetings have been occurring regularly for the past few weeks already.

At one meeting, hoping to elicit dialogue and suggestions, a parent asked the open-ended question: "What is the best way to solicit food from the different continents?"  

There was silence.  It got awkward.  I wonder if he was looking for answers like "put a bunch of continents on slips of paper in a hat and have parents draw from it" or "use survey monkey to put together a questionnaire and facilitate sign ups" or something else?  One parent said: "Just tell me what I should bring, and I will bring it."

Continue reading "School Volunteering: "Just Tell Me What to Do"" »

Throwback Thursday: One this day in years past

October 24, 2013

What did we talk about on (or around) this day in 2012, 2011, 2010 and beyond?

WEEKEND WARRIORS - OCTOBER 25-28, 2013

October 23, 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.

Ladybug Nature Walk: Grant Park. Explore this natural area with your youngster (2 - 5 years old) and a nature guide. Friday 10-11am. $4/child.

Squishing of the Squash at Oregon Zoo. See some of the world's largest land animals demolish some of the area's largest pumpkins. Friday 10:30am. Free with Zoo admission. 

Storytime + Craft at Craft Factory. Bring the little ones for a free storytime, then stay to craft an ornament for $5. Friday 10:30-11am.

Monster Mash Baby Dance and Costume Party at West Linn Library. Dancing, bubbles, treats, and a photo booth for the 0-3 yr olds. Friday 10:30-11:30am. Free with pre-registration. 

Great Pumpkin Hunt at Garden Home Rec Center. Enjoy the howling fun activities, witch's brew and tasty cobwebs in the gym then head outside for the flashlight pumpkin hunt! Come in your costume for the costume contest and don't forget your flashlight. Friday 6-8pm. $10 

Monster Mash at Peninsula Park Community Center. Wear your costume and get into the spirit. Dance, make creepy crafts, and play bewitching games that only come out once a year. Fun for all ages. Friday 6-8:30pm. Free!

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - OCTOBER 25-28, 2013" »

Braces: just a scam?

October 22, 2013

I had braces for exactly 2 years, from ages 14 to 16.  The "Brady Bunch" had an episode about Marcia getting braces and how she had to adjust to them, accept them.  I suppose I thought they might just be a rite of passage.

Our 13-year old's dentist suggested we have an orthodontic consultation.  "The 45-minute consultation is free," the scheduler told me, "and we will walk through the doctor's recommendations, and all of your options and costs."  From the moment we set the appointment, it felt like a bit of a sales pitch.  My daughter was taught how to scan in at the front desk computer, brush up, and where to sit, "for the next time".  From my waiting room chair, I saw an endless stream of teens scanning themselves in, brushing teeth, and sitting to wait for the doctor.

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 The doctor and the assistant were super smooth and fast-talking.  They were uber friendly and joke-making.  The recommendation: extraction of 4 teeth to make room then braces, no headgear, for 24 months.  The cost: $6855.

Continue reading "Braces: just a scam?" »

Throwback Thursday: Trick or Treating, Pumpkins, Candy

October 17, 2013

I am sure our Search for the Great Pumpkin could use some updating!  Old haunts, new faves, please share.  

See what else families around town do for Outdoor Autumn Fun: apples, salmon, and - of course - the pumpkins.

And, always so much to talk about as it relates to Halloween:

WEEKEND WARRIORS - OCTOBER 18-20, 2013

October 16, 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.

SuperKids Resale Vancouver. Consignment event for families. Friday 9am-8pm. Saturday 9am-5pm. Sunday 9am-5pm. 

Weekly Storytime + Craft at Craft Factory. The storytime is free for all ages, though geared toward toddlers and pre-schoolers. Craft prices vary. Friday 10:30am.

Family Park Night at East Portland Community Center. Low cost night out with the family. Indoor Park toys, sports and trampoline. See page 11 of brochure. Friday 6:30-8:30pm. $1.25/child.

Family Friday Concert with Whistlin' Rufus at The Community Music Center. A volunteer-run series of once-a-month low-cost concerts for children & families. All Family Friday concerts start at 7:15 pm and run about an hour (no intermission). Admission is free, with suggested donation of $5 per person or $15 for a family. Doors open at about 6:45 pm. 

Continue reading "WEEKEND WARRIORS - OCTOBER 18-20, 2013" »