56 posts categorized "Travel"

Weekend Warriors 5/24-5/26-13

May 22, 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: Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Walk through parks, gardens and natural areas with your youngster (2 - 5 years old)  and a nature guide. All walks begin at 10am rain or shine, $3 per child*, no charge for adults. Friday 10am.

Rose Festival CityFair at Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The metropolitan fair features live exotic animals, a wide variety of shopping, carnival rides, special attractions and a customized fireworks show choreographed to your favorite classic rock hits on May 24 at 10 pm. Weekends May 24-27, May 30-June 2 and June 6-9. $7 ages 7 and up.

Nature Classroom Discovery Day at Tryon Creek. Bones, animal pelts, live animals (including new corn snake Pockets), and all sorts of other cool stuff. Saturday 10am-1pm. Free!

 
Sofia the First Extravaganza at Clackamas Town Center.
Join Radio Disney AM1640 for a royal extravaganza! Listen to the story of Sofia, learn some royal manners, and do some royal arts and crafts. Kids 16 and younger can enter to win a Sofia the First Prize Pack. Dress up for the royal occasion and be crowned by the royal Radio Disney Road Crew. Saturday 10-11:30am. Free!  

Dino Party at the Children's Museum. Opening weekend of the Museum's newest traveling exhibit, Dinosaurs: Land fo Fire and Ice. Activities include storytime, puppets and clay. Saturday 11am-2pm. Free with museum admission.

Steve's Creature Feature at St. Johns Library. Explore the amazing world of reptiles with Steve Lattanzi. Kids will be able to safely see, hear and touch some of the most amazing creatures on earth. Saturday 11am-noon. Free!

Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park. Snowcap food drive, mutton bustin', barnyard fun, walk on the wildside, alpaca pavilion, petting zoo, pony rides, thrill rides, miniature golf, roller skating and more! Saturday, Sunday & Monday 12-7pm. Free admission, activity costs vary. 

Read to the Dogs at the Belmont Library. Improve your reading skills and make a new friend by reading aloud to a therapy dog. Sign up for a 30-minute session.  Registration is required.  Please call 503 988 5382. Saturday 1-3pm. Free!

Creature Cabins at Tillamook Forest Center. The animals of the Tillamook State Forest have made themselves at home. They occupy nests, holes, dens and more. Come and learn about the special places where animals live. Saturday 1:30pm and Sunday 11:30am. Free!

The Alphabeticians at Mississippi Pizza. Where else are you going to find a kid's mosh pit? Saturday 4-5pm. $10/family.

Mo Phillips Rocks Out for Kids at Flying Cat. Fun, rockin' music for your little ones. Sunday 10-11am. $5 suggested donation. 

Take a family tour of the Portland Art Museum. Enjoy a tour with a docent skilled at engaging visitors of all ages.  Tour is free with admission. Sunday 12:30-1:30pm. $15 adults, free under 18. 

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 5/17-5/19/13

May 15, 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.

Kid's Nature Night Out: Volcanology at Cooper Mountain.

Volcanoes are explosive and large and have produced some of the rocks in the nature park. Come learn about them and find your own special rock on a geology night hike. Suitable for ages 6-12 years. Advanced registration required. Friday 6-9PM. $25/child.

Family Friday Concert at Community Music Center. The Oregon Renaissance Band is a 10 to 12 member ensemble dedicated to performing and recording music of the Renaissance, played on faithful reproductions of historical instruments. Friday 7:15pm. Suggested $5 donation.

Kids Cook at the Portland Farmers Market. A deliciously fun cooking program for young chefs-in-training. At these classes, kids learn about the seasonality of food, meet local farmers and gain first-hand experience preparing ingredients purchased fresh at the market. Pre-registration is strongly recommended, as class size is limited. For kids ages 7-11. Saturday 8:30-10am. Free preview class.

Children's Nature Fair at Leach Botanical Gardens. A variety of children's arts and crafts, along with Mad Science's Fire & Ice show, slug races, music, ladybug walks, worm activities, 25 cent mini ice cream, and fun geology and volcano adventures! Saturday 10am-2pm. Suggested donation.

Tualatin River Bird Festival in Sherwood. Bird and nature walks, environmental education, storytelling, a live bird show, and opportunities for children to build bat and bird houses, and bee boards. Saturday 10am-4pm. Free!

Cyclops- A Free Play for all ages at Capitol Hill Library.
A short comedy for children of all ages. With audience participation, volunteer sheep, a 10 foot puppet, rhyming pirates, silly shepherds, a reluctant hero  and a last minute understudy with a few missing cues, this fun-fest is not to be missed.  Saturday 11-11:45am. Free!  
  
Builders Bonanza at Art ala Carte. Over 3,000 unique pieces (Legos, duplos, tracks and more) for builders to create with. Spread out on floors and tables to create anything and everything.  Bring home all of your awesome creations! Saturday 3-6pm. $10/child.

Kenton Street Fair. 80+ vendors (crafts, nonprofits, artists), a coaster car race at 11 am, 4 stages with over 40 bands, and a large children's area with pony rides (small charge), a skate ramp, a kids craft area and kids stage and much more! Sunday 10am-6pm. Free!

Montavillage Fair. A free afternoon event includes food, local vendors, yard games, live music, social services, arts and crafts, sustainability events, and a free raffle (for gift certificates generously donated by local businesses). Sunday 1-4pm. Free!

Mo Phillips and The Spaghetti Pants Dance Band at Kennedy School. Mo and the band are back together for another supa dupa freak out. Sunday 6-8pm. $7.

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.

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

February 22, 2012

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

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

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

BlogHer '11 Conference: A Report on Mommyblogging, 2011

August 18, 2011

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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.

Urbanmamas_jessica_charlene
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" »

Children Allowed, but not welcome

August 11, 2011

Recently, I had to use a Groupon (or one of those types of offers) for a facial.  I booked 6 weeks in advance, or even more.  I was excited.  I hadn't had a treat like this in a long, long time.  The morning of the facial, my sitter for the day cancelled, and I was home with my 7-year old daughter all day.  Rather than forfeit or reschedule, I decided to bring her along.  I told her our plan for the day, which included chores, lunch, the facial, some errands, and free swim.  She was excited.  She packed her bag for the day, which included a book and some water and a small snack for her to have during the 60-minute facial.  I know my girl.  She would be cooperative.

I suppose I didn't give it too much thought.  I suppose I could have.  It was a one-person operation, I figured.  We would disturb only ourselves.  I have actually had to bring a child with me before to a bodywork appointment and it was fine.  I was extremely put off by the response I received when the aesthetician opened the door.

She took one look at me, then looked long and hard at my daughter.  The look on her face was baffled, confused, and irritated.  She said, "OH", with a tone that I heard to mean "What the heck is *this*?" and "I don't do kids here."  I explained, "My sitter backed out at the last minute and this is all I could do."  She said, "OH." a few more times, with the same tone, exaggerated and really annoyed.  I tried to put the tone aside and so I could enjoy the 60 minutes I had been looking forward to for weeks.

My daughter was silent for those 60  minutes.  I forgot she was there.  She was reading and having some water and playing pretend games in her head.

Even if it was not explicit that kids were not allowed, it felt like the business operator's response indicated kids shouldn't be there.  I've been into some stores before that literally seem to flinch when I walk in with my kid(s).  Sometimes, I'm made to feel like the kids are a disease.  When it comes to airline travel, kids are an annoyance to other travelers and there is the constant proposal that there be kid-free sections of the plane.  Restaurants and supermarkets (like a Whole Foods location in Missouri) are following the kid-free movement, outright banning children or implementing the ban during specific hours.  (Ever take the kids to Happy Hour?  Always!)

Are there places you wouldn't bring your children, even if kids are technically allowed?  Are there circumstances under which you would support the kid-free movement?  Do you think the kids should be allowed to come along wherever you are entitled to go?

Sending them to grandmother's house... and beyond.

August 08, 2011

Now that my eldest is eight, my mother reminded me that next year he'll be old enough for his "9 year old Yaya trip." The idea being that my mother (yaya) and he would plan and take a trip together - a special place they agree on. It's a brilliant idea, really, that my mother gleaned from another friend of hers who is especially well versed in the art of grandparenting.

Granny_g But wait... nobody asked me if *I* was ready. And wouldn't he get home-sick? Or at least family-sick? He's not been apart from us for more than a single night. Even then, he wasn't very far away (a short drive at the most!) My mother is also not local (although she's an extremely frequent visitor). I'm not sure if she is ready to host a journey solo with my eldest. They spend some time together but there's the awkward situation she would be put in if this trip were to happen. The awkward situation of her being the parental figure, if necessary.

There are two thoughts that keep nagging at me. First, I really don't want to burden her with my child. I know that sounds silly. After all, she's had lots of parental experience (and success - I hope!). I just feel like as a grandparent, she'd want to be more liberal in their relationship than a parent and child would be. So would she just assume the parental figure if things come down to that? Second, they haven't spent all that much time together. In the past, their personalities have gone head to head a few times. I have to admit, my eldest can challenge the limits of even the most patient types!

So I think that maybe we will wait. Until he is 10, perhaps, or 11. That way the experience will be a better one for both of them. The experience that my mother envisions them having. A growing and bonding time together that they will remember for their whole lives. Have any of you sent your children off with grandparents for grand adventures? Have you had any great successes (or great disasters) in trusting both your parents and children to go off on their adventures? Any advice you may have about making trips like this work is welcome!

Traveling with the Toddler: Tips & Tricks

March 28, 2011

I have done a lot of traveling in the past few months with my toddler, for work and for play.  Some of it has been plane travel, some of it car travel.  Now that spring break is over, we are wrapping up our travels, for a little while at least.  It has been an adventure, to be sure, and I love that we are adding so many memories to our book of life.

The kids have been almost angelic through it all.  I thought I'd share my top few tips for traveling with the toddler, to add to our travel archives.  These tricks have worked for me, so I thought I might share, even if they won't work for everyone.  I welcome you all to share your top tips & tricks as well.

  • Napping: in the car, carrier, stroller.  You know better than anyone how your babe will nap best.  Find that technique and exploit it.  Many families know their kids will sleep in the car & will start the road trip then.  My kid doesn't sleep well in the car, so we avoid starting the road trip at his nap time.  He naps well in the carrier or stroller, so sometimes we go for a long walk to get him to sleep, then use that naptime to go to the museum & entertain the older kids.  If it's a work trip, sometimes we get tuckered with some playground time, then go for that long walk, which can potentially buy me 3 hours of work time.
  • Snack food: bring it.  I have heard the words "I'm hungry!" at the most inopportune time.  My pockets and bags are full of high nutrition food like CLIF or Luna bars, nuts, crackers, apples, bananas, sometimes even PB&J.
  • Breakfast food: it takes too long for us to mobilize and get out.  If my kids had to wait that long before breakfast, their stomachs might start to eat up their insides.  My true and tried trick is to bring instant oatmeal packets for some nourishment even before we make coffee with the in-room maker.  Recently found Better Oats with reduced packaging & even cheaper than the Quaker Oats variety.
  • Dipes: We use cloth at home & gDiapers when we travel.  The gInserts are really absorbent & I don't even have to change the outer cloth cover but once a day!  Super efficient means less to pack.
  • Stroller-less:  My toddler is pretty small, so I can manage to carry (via Ergo, usually) him when he needs to be carried.  I started to notice that he objected to riding in a stroller, preferring instead to push the stroller.  He's a toddler, wants to walk, explore.  Traveling on the plane without a stroller means you don't have to wait on the other end for gate check to bring it out to you.
  • Entertainment: I have a small pouch where I carry his two favorite cars, about 8 pieces of duplo, a stack of post-it notes in different colors, two crayons/markers.  That's about it.  My emergency entertainment are pictures of his sisters on my phone and his single most favorite song (Rhianna's "What's my name").  Also, of late, I have used Google Maps on my phone to find the closest park where we can get our swing on.

Work, Travel, Toddler: Does it mix well?

March 08, 2011

I have been open with my recent challenges, juggling  a full-time working from home routine with our recent child.  One of the more stressful juggles has been the travel.  With my organization's 60 staff spread nationwide, we get together for a big staff meeting at one location every 6 months.  

One year ago, it was New York.  Lucky for me, we have family there.  It was the perfect opportunity for my in-laws to meet our newest baby, who was about 4.5 months old then.

Last fall, it was in Seattle.  I felt lucky to have it so close, as I worked with another mama to make a trip of a lifetime: two mamas, two toddlers, full-day schedules, one nanny, one two-bedroom apartment (that is an epic story for another time). 

There have been a few other overnights mixed in: Oakland, Tucson, San Francisco.  These are places where I have had some extended family or friends who could watch the babe for a bit while I focus on work.

Next week, it's Memphis.  Not only do I think about the challenge of two-legged flight cross country, with a center seat assignment on all legs (will he be entertained and generally still in that center seat?), I also think about how much less portable this babe is, as small as he is.  As baby grows into toddler, I am wondering when I should draw the line?  My previous children nursed until 2.5 years old.  Am I destined to be traveling for work with this child for another year if we intend to nurse until then?  Part of me is not ready to be away from him, not for a whole night.  I wasn't ready to be apart from him when he was 9 months old, and I'm not sure I am ready now.  Another part of me worries that I just cannot juggle it like I used to, now that he likes to bounce balls, clank spoons on tables, and draw on everything.  I can't just tote him into the meetings, nurse him, bounce  him to sleep in a carrier, and continue to focus on the meeting at hand.

Part of me worries still about trying to nourish him at all times, nursing on demand every moment possible and feeding him high-calorie foods to bulk him up.  I could not do that if we were apart for 4 days.

I know my situation is very unique.  I bring my baby to meetings all around the country.  I like to see just how "family-friendly" the organization really is.  And, managers are tolerant and accepting of my choice.  Dare I make the long haul next week?  Would you?

Also, have you heard of employers that offer traveling employees an allowance of up to a certain amount (I've heard up to $1500) to cover costs of a sitter out-of-town or the cost to travel with a sitter?

Have toy, will travel: best travel toddler toys

February 15, 2011

There are a few plane trips coming up for us and our 1.5yo toddler.  Please help me think of the best easy-to-pack, always-entertaining, not-too-messy toys to pack.

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

March 26, 2010

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

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

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

In which I drive a hybrid Ford for a weekend

June 16, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

A ride to PDX Int'l: Taxis with Carseats?

November 24, 2008

Gearing up for holiday travel, urbanMamas want to know: how do you get to PDX airport without having to check-in the carseat?

My husband and I are taking our 6+ month old daughter to Connecticut for Christmas and are hoping to avoid having to bring a car seat along.  We have one waiting for us at the other end (thanks grandma!).  Our plan was to take either a taxi or shuttle to the airport.  Does anyone know of a good company that will provide one?  From about half an hour of Google searches nothing comes up.  If we did have to bring out own, anyone have any experience with storing things in a locker at the airport?  Good/bad?

Did You Staycation?

September 08, 2008

We stayed close to home this summer and it seems like we were far from alone. 

Some highlights for us were biking all over town - it was our first real bike summer with Gael, a lot of trips to Sauvie Island, and a return to Pickathon. The farthest afield we went was a trip to Yachats. It was all wonderful and in many ways easier than planning and executing a BIG SUMMER TRIP - not to mention cheaper. 

Did you take you a staycation this summer? Did you discover any new gems - or revisit old favorites - in Portland or a short drive away? 

Separate airplane sections for those annoying kids?

August 19, 2008

U17347486Before I had kids, I was one of those people who dreaded a flight near kids.  Of course now that the shoe is squarely on the other foot, I have incredible patience for all parents flying with children.  As do many other people, I have been delighted to find.  Except the man in front of us on our last cross-country flight who asked the flight attendant to have us moved - and mamas, trust me on this one, we were having fun but we were seated and definitely not crying.  And not a word to me, mind you.  So infuriating. 

Continue reading "Separate airplane sections for those annoying kids?" »

Recommendations for vacation with a 9-month old?

August 07, 2008

What a lovely thing it is to plan a family vacation.  An urbanMama recently writes:

I'm trying to plan a 3-5 day vacation for my husband, myself, and our 9 month old.  I'm interested in hearing from other mamas about places with 4 hours of Portland where we can go that might be extra baby friendly.   Perhaps a hotel with in-room child care or extra nice crib-type amenities.  Maybe someone out there has the perfect baby-friendly vacation idea?

In the past, we've chatted about Astoria, Seattle and Ashland.  Any other suggestions for travel within a 4 hour radius of Portland?

Flying Solo: Unaccompanied Minors

July 24, 2008

416877367_4d4b953723 My nieces (ages 11 and 12) came out for a recent visit.  They flew from the Midwest to Portland unaccompanied on their second solo flight sans parent or family.  When I asked them how their flight was on the way out, it was the typical 'tween "boring" response.  On their return flight, I navigated the process, helped them check in and filled out the required paperwork and waited with them at their gate until their flight took off.  Waiting to fly unaccompanied were three other kids, a pair of siblings probably older then them and another boy, aged 10.  Being far from our family, it's always been our intent to have our kids spend an extended stint with family out-of-state.  The question though, at what age have / would you let your child(ren) fly unaccompanied?  The youngest that's allowed is 5 years old, far younger than my own comfort level.  So far, from my nieces experience, they encountered few problems and my sister would certainly allow them do it again.

Mama Getaway: where would YOU go?

July 07, 2008

We spent the weekend with a few other very close family friends, all in different stages of their lives as parents.  Some were newer parents, some were conceiving of conceiving, one was pregnant, and another was parent to a 12-year old.  Our spouses took a morning to have an activity of their own, and they are also planning on participating in a very fun weekend excusion, sans families.  We, left manning the fort and entertaining the offspring, got to talking: we should plan a getaway of our own, mamas-only.

Will you dream with me?  If you could plan a getaway, to take time all to yourself away from the family, where would you go?  What would you do?  Just because I want to daydream, let's pretend we didn't have to worry about money or logistics.

Sleeping Under the Stars

June 30, 2008

In my pre-baby life, I would spend a good portion of my summers camping under the stars.  I love the long lazy days, delicious campfire meals, and beautiful warm, starry nights.  In my opinion, there is little else that can relieve the "urban blues" better than a few nights reconnecting with our great mother Earth.  Also a perfect solution if you need a way to get away on the cheap.

However, since my amazing little sidekick arrived nearly two years ago, I have abandoned this great pastime due to pure intimidation.  I am overwhelmed by all of the things that I need to bring and the logistics involved.  This urbanMama writes asking for advice from you experts out there.  Please help us both get back in the fun.

I want to take a fun but cheap summer vacation and thought camping would be the way to go.  The only problem is that my boyfriend and I find the entire process of taking an extremely mobile seven month old camping incredibly intimidating.  We were hoping we could get some tips on how to make it a fun and hopefully relaxing experience.

Eating Healthy on the Road

June 12, 2008

Over Memorial Day, we started the summer off with a little road trip to Vancouver, BC.  We found a last-minute deal at a downtown hotel.  Knowing that we would be away from home for three full days, I got nervous about what to eat.  I hate to be caught off guard, with ravenous children unwilling to wait.  I, myself, cannot function when hungry; low-sugar is not a good state.  Two hungry kids, too tired and poorly fueled to walk around and sightsee, can be a real downer.  Under such circumstances, it is easy to resort to junk/fast food, just to make it to the next destination or activity.

So, I packed food like a mad-mama.  I brought bananas, apples, carrots sticks, granola bars, some milk in a cooler, packets of instant oatmeal (made with hot water out of the in-room coffee maker), string cheese, pretzel sticks, a jar of peanut butter, a couple of yogurt cups, and a water bottle for each of us to refill all along the way.  Once at our destination, I am a fan of hitting up the local market to restock with fresh local produce, milk, and other healthy snacks.

We don't have many trips planned for the summer, but I'm sure lots of you do (lucky mamas!).  Can you share your best tips and tricks on eating well while on the road?

Have babe, will fly? How to clean the bum & the bottles

June 01, 2008

We are very much planning for summer travel season 'round here.  An urbanMama seeks your words of wisdom when it comes to traveling with a 9-month old:

How do you change a baby's diaper in the most sanitary fashion, and how do you clean the baby's bottles on the plane?

TSA at PDX: good or bad?

May 31, 2008

The urbanMamas are a traveling bunch, as we have seen time and time again.  Emails abound with talk of your latest travel.  We're jealous!  Our most recent email comes from an urbanMama who wants to know if you have had experiences, one way or another, with the TSA folk at PDX, with respect to dangerous baby liquids and gels:

My seven month old and I will be travelling to the East Coast this spring and internationally this summer.  We have read TSA's guidelines on the amount of breastmilk/formula/baby food allowed onboard, and then we read the many complaints on the TSA blog about how TSA agents have complete discretion to decide what is a reasonable amount.  Has anyone had good/bad experiences flying with a baby out of PDX? 

The high cost of gas

May 29, 2008

Gas_5 Our family took a nice little road trip for the recent three-day weekend.  On our way home, when we stopped for gas, I was aghast to see what we were paying at the pump (in a town just north of Seattle, WA): $4.09 for regular unleaded.  It's happened  We’ve broken through another dollar point.  I thought to myself, “Are we the only family taking a road trip this weekend?  Are people staying home because of the high cost of gas?”

When we got home to a close-to-zero bank balance, it feels so urgent now: we are going to take the bus and bike more than ever!  It is time to reprogram Trimet’s transit tracker on my phone's speed dial and commit our favorite stop ID’s to memory. 

What about you?  With gas prices up around $4 per gallon, are you forced to make different transit arrangements?  Aside from biking, walking, or bussing, are there any other suggestions you have for being less car-reliant?  Do you have a way of connecting with other families at your school for carpool arrangements?  Have you given use of your personal car, opting for Zipcar or car rentals instead?

Your thoughts: Great Wolf Lodge, WA?

April 12, 2008

Ahhh, getaways are so fun to plan!  Lucky Heather is considering a trip:

I always get great input from urbanMamas.com…I am hoping if anyone has made a trip up to the new Great Wolf Lodge in Washington?  Apparently it is a kids type resort with a 60,000 square foot indoor water park, etc.  Most of the reviews I have read on tripadvisor.com, etc. are TERRIBLE!  Just wondering is anyone has their two cents to share about it.  Because I sure don’t want to make the trip up there plus the expense just to be totally disappointed….or to disappoint our 4 year old! 

"Is your child really TWO?"

April 01, 2008

Airlines require children over the age of two sit in a purchased seat.  Even though, some of us have opted to purchase a seat for our children even if they were younger than two.  Have you ever knowingly evaded those airline age limits, and called your over-two-year-old a "lap baby"?  Have you had to prove your child's age?  Sue is faced with the dilemma:

My family is heading to the East coast for the Holidays and using air miles to fly. My youngest is turning 2 on Dec 11 and I am wondering if anyone has flown when their child was slightly over the age limit for buying a ticket. She is a big kid and talks a lot so I am worried about being questioned about it. Has anyone ever been asked to prove their child’s age when not buying a ticket? The issue is compounded by the fact that we are flying first class at least one leg and do not want to buy a ticket at that price. We only have enough air miles for three tickets. I was thinking of just buying a regular ticket for her but sitting separately (one of the adults of course). I just hate buying a ticket when she will probably sit and nurse the whole time in my seat. Any experience would be helpful.

Is anyone traveling?

December 20, 2007

Have you noticed that many of us here at urbanMamas have been busy?  A few of us are busy getting the families ready for travels to see family over the winter break.  We know quite a few families who are packing up their things, getting ready to go.  We also know quite a few families who are staying local, or perhaps renting a cabin up in the snow for a night or two.

We thought it'd be a good time to highlight a few travel posts that could be handy for the traveling folk:

For those who are staying closer to home, perhaps we can share some snowy fun ideas?

So, will your family be stay close to Portland for the winter break?  Are you heading out of town to visit with family and friends, or have you already gone?  Do share!  We'd love to hear what you are up to....

How to deal with jet lag

October 23, 2007

urbanMamas, have you trapsed across time zones, resulting in some consequences for both you and the babes?  Ally is traveling next week and would love your suggestions:

I wanted to ask other mamas for advice regarding jet lag. I know there have been many postings regarding what to do with a toddler on an international flight (if anyone has flown the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt I am all ears) However, I am wondering what other mamas have done about jet lag with their wee ones. We are taking our 18 mo old son to Europe next week and I am worried about how we will deal with his jet lag (not to mention my own).

Camping Gourmet: Dining Al Fresco

September 05, 2007

Dsc_0285_2 When I spotted the Lauro Kitchen’s recipe for Mussels in Cataplana in FoodDay this summer, I knew it had all of the ingredients for the perfect camping meal.  I clipped out the recipe hoping to use it on our second camping expedition this summer, but it wasn’t in the cards.  Meal prep for camping doesn’t require all that much preparation, but I wasn’t organized enough to create the meal on the fly.  We settled for salmon and pork chops instead.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and I seized the opportunity to test it out.  The night before our trip to Nehalem Bay, I cooked up the chorizo and veggies to make the sauce hoping that letting it sit overnight would give the flavors some time meld together.  That, and the fact that assembly at dinner time would be much easier.  At camp the next evening, I layered the sauce and some steamer clams in an aluminum pan, wrapped it in more foil and placed it over our fire.  We used steamer clams since it was the only thing available on the coast.  The result?  We paired it with a loaf of bread, a salad and some wine, and were amazed at how delicious and ridiculously easy it was to cook over the campfire.

Who cares that your tent is full of dirt and sand, or that the kids are covered in from head to toe in the great outdoors?  Eating and drinking under a canopy of trees in the fresh air cannot be beat, and when you’re eating well, it makes camping that much better.  The next evening JJ and I used our spare aluminum pan for sausages, peppers and onions.  We chopped up two packages of mango chicken sausage from Trader Joes, a couple of bell peppers, and a medium sized onion.  We wrapped it in more foil, and cooked it over the grill until the onions and peppers reduced down nicely.  Voila!  We had a second incredible meal that took little effort.

I’m sure there are many camping gourmets out there.  We want to know what are some of your favorite camping recipes?  Any meals that are sure to please and impress fellow campers? Anyone with a homey stew recipe that will sure to warm our bellies on our next camping trip?

The car-free family: Getting to the beach on the Amtrak bus

August 29, 2007

Walking_beach As you may have read (or heard on KBOO), my family has given up our car, preferring to ride the TriMet bus, walk, or bike with the kids. We love how connected we are to the community, we love that we save money on gas & insurance & maintenance, we love that we're being good to the earth! But it's really hard to, say, go to the beach. Or come back from the beach during Hood-to-Coast -- Jonathan and I were both delivered at the finish line by our respective vans, and the boys were delivered by their grandma. Umm... now what?

Martin and Larissa were in the same boat, more or less, as their family car went kaput. So we all put our Google fingers to work and discovered the Amtrak bus. (Yes! Amtrak has a bus!) Every evening, the bus leaves Union Station in downtown Portland at 6:20 p.m. and travels down Hwy 26, arriving in Astoria at 8:50 p.m., including stops in Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Astoria. You can request stops at Elsie, Manning, Necanicum Junction, Gearhart, and Warrenton, as well. The bus turns around the next morning, leaving Astoria at 8:30 a.m. and arriving in Portland's Union Station at 11:00 a.m.

We picked the bus up at 9 a.m. at Del's Chevron in Seaside, quickly loaded our two families' considerable gear, and took our comfy seats aboard the bus. Though the legroom wasn't amazing and the other passengers didn't seem entirely pleased when I had to pry a screaming Truman's hands off the steering wheel, the boys soon quieted down and we enjoyed a lovely ride back to Portland -- arriving on time! -- and then hopped the #17 bus home. A one-way ticket for an adult is $16, while children ages 2-16 are $8. Other bus lines go all over Oregon, from Salem to Corvallis to Bend to Newport. If you, too, are car-free by choice or by necessity, it's a good option for travelling with your family. Best of all, children under two are free and, on this trip at least, there was plenty of room to seat them beside us. I'd love to hear other stories about getting outside of the metropolitan area without a car!

Travel Suggestions: Astoria

August 27, 2007

The urbanMamas definitely seem like the travel-happy bunch.  Monica is seeking suggestions for a trip closer to home.  Any thoughts?

I'm looking for some insight on where to stay in Astoria.  I've got a history-obsessed daughter, and I'd like to take an overnight trip to the area to see Fort Clatsop, etcetera, but I need some recommendations on where to stay.  I'd love to stay in a B&B, but it seems most do not welcome children.  She's an incredibly well-behaved and mature 6-year-old, but, still, a child nonetheless.  Also, B&Bs seem to require a 2-night stay.  So, does anyone know of a great place to stay that is well-situated for walking around and experiencing Astoria and also close to Fort Clatsop?  Many Thanks!

Going to Seattle!

August 24, 2007

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

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

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

Heading South

August 22, 2007

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

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

Take a bite out of the Big Apple

August 17, 2007

MEmpirestatebuildingaria is so lucky, traveling to New York City as a family for the first time!  We are sure that some urbanMamas can offer some great suggestions on family activities in the city.
My husband, one year old baby and myself are adventuring to the east coast f or the firt time as family.  We are in a very short budget and are staying with friends in " the village" and Brooklyn for the next couple of weeks.  We ... are ready to walk ourselves and our son all over town.   Any hot tips in cool things to do? They have to be cheap/free/cool.  No shopping please!

Getting ready for Red-Eyes

August 16, 2007

urbanMamas are a traveling bunch!  Doe emails and requests your tips and tricks on flying red-eye:

I'm packing up to bring our 8.5 month old back to Vermont for a visit. Looking forward to the green mountains, but I'm nervous about the red eye to get there.  We've done well on shorter flights, but never done the overnight thing. Our girl Hanna is a good sleeper and typically goes down at 7-8 pm with a bath and breastfeeding.  She'll wake up once or twice to eat during the night.  Thanks for any advice.

Summer Sun Seeking

August 15, 2007

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

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

Kah Nee Ta Resort

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

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

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

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

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

Columbia Hills State Park

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

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

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

Maryhill State Park

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

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

Cove Palisades State Park

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

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

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

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

Traveling with a Nanny - Setting Expectations

August 02, 2007

Holly will be vacationing with a nanny (how awesome is that?) and she wants to know a fair wage.  Any thoughts?

We are planning a family vacation to Hawaii in October.  We’ve invited a college-age sitter from our children’s daycare to travel with us and act as our nanny for the week.  We’ve never traveled with a nanny before and have some questions about compensation, time off and reasonable expectations.   

So far, we have purchased a plane ticket for the sitter and she has agreed to sleep in the kids’ room – in her own bed.  We also intend to provide all meals and give her some free time off each day. 

Our initial thoughts are to pay the nanny between $8 - $10 per hour.  We are thinking that this will cover the money she could have made by working at the daycare for the week, and it’s tax free.  This is for two preschoolers and one infant.

We don’t plan on being absentee parents on this vacation.  We see nanny acting as a helping hand and extra pair of eyes.  We are hoping to reach an agreement that is favorable for nanny and us.  We would love to hear from the UrbanMamas.  What sounds fair to you and is there anything else we should consider? 

Flying with Kids: An Annoyance to Others?

July 26, 2007

We've had many discussions on urbanMamas about flying with children.  Recently, the New York Times featured an article about the "misbehaving children" (a complete misrepresentation in my opinion) on airplanes and the added stress for passengers with little sympathy for kids.  The article provides a flight attendants perspective of hellish experiences when kids are on board, and sensational stories such as a flight attendant demanding a parent give her child Benadryl.  As parents, we probably have utmost empathy for those traveling with kids since it can be stressful.  We've taken trips dozens of trips with our kids, and our interactions with other passengers have been pleasant.  However, the stories recounted in the article seem like the exception.  Or, are they?  Have you had other passengers hassle you because your child was throwing a fit?  What about the TSA?  Any horror stories to share?

We're going to grandma's!

July 19, 2007

I remember when I was a kid, I'd beg my parents to let me stay at my cousin's house for the weekend.  The first night was so fun - we'd stay up all night, set up sleeping bags in the living room, watch movies.  By the second night, though, I'd miss my bed, my own pajamas, my room, and my parents.  I'd get homesick, even on just the second night.

When I was ten, my parents decided it would be a wonderful life experience for me and my brothers to spend the summer - three months - in the Philippines.  We rotated houses, staying with my grandmother and a myriad of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I definitely thought it was novel, since I convinced my aunt that I was allowed to have ice cream sundaes every day.  But, after the first week, I was homesick.  And, I had several, several weeks to go.  My two brothers were 6 years old and 4 years old that summer.

When we came home, finally, my mother gave us each the hug of all hugs.  She clung to us like she'd never let us go.  She told us, "We will never, ever, ever leave you for that long again.  Ever."

Our girls are lucky enough for have four grandparents - my parents and my husband's parents.  For a long while now, they have been trying to finagle a way to get the girls to spend a week in San Francisco (with my parents) or in New York (with my husband's parents).  The girls and I have spent only a few instances apart.  Just a handful, really.  I didn't spend a night away from either of them until they were each three years old, at least.

Maybe it I am the one who is having a hard time being OK with the time apart.  But, I do think that the time apart may be more challenging than they may think.  Have you had your child(ren) go away and spend time at the grandparents' or with other family?  How has it been?  Have you loved the time apart or hated it?

Travelin' with Tots

July 16, 2007

A trip to paradise for most people rarely conjures what most parents face as the realities of traveling with a toddler and an infant. But due to my brother's wedding, we found ourselves taking the leap with our two sons Dash (age 3) and Juna (age 3 months) to fly to Hawaii. After much consultation with fellow parents and the internet we settled on two groundrules. Pack light. Be flexible.
Planex2

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

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

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

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

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

Dashhapuna

What are your favorite travel tips for parents?

Aloha!
The Henderson Family

Picture This: December Vacation in Mexico

Some mamas are awesome about planning ahead. Anne is one of them!

We are looking to travel to Mexico over the December holidays with an almost 2 year old. We normally travel with backpacks in cheap shoestring traveler settings and would like to avoid the unpredictability of this method while traveling with a two year old. Has anyone spent a vacation on a beach in Mexico that they can recommend for kiddos???

Car Rentals & Car Seats

July 11, 2007

Travel with the little one can be difficult, but do you have any experiences with rental cars and car seats that you can share with Sarah?  She writes:

Hello, I'm the mom of an eight-month-old and I'm preparing take a plane trip with her -- alone -- later this month to surprise her grandparents. Because it's a surprise visit, I am renting a car to drive from the airport to granny's house, and I had a question I would like to put out to other traveling mamas who read your blog. I was wondering if you might consider posting it.

...What kind of experience have you had with rental car companies that provide infant car seats? I'm planning to rent a car with a car seat at O'Hare in Chicago but I'm worried that the seat might be difficult to install, substandard, or have other problems. Has anyone had good luck doing this? Can anyone recommend a rental company that provided particularly good service regarding the car seat? Right now I have a reservation with Budget.

urbanMamas & the Low-Car Diet 2007

July 09, 2007

Inspired by Sarah's showing in last year's Low Car Diet, a couple of urbanMamas volunteered themselves for the Low Car Diet 2007, the second annual.  We figured, with our fair share of TriMet adventures, biking with the trailer and/or the tag-along/trail-a-bike (configuring ourselves into one long train has become the standard method of transport) ... so, why not?  Why not just give up the car entirely for a month?  How hard could it be?  We're already relatively "low-car" as it is.

In the weeks preceeding today's Low Car Diet start date, I have been having cold feet, thinking: "What have we gotten ourselves into?"  It's one thing for a single person to give up the car; that's a sacrifice in and of itself.  But, for a family of four to give up the family car, how would this work?  We have been cherishing our days of ease, hopping into the car to traverse Portland's quadrants to meet friends for dinner or for a playdate.

Now starts the real challenge.  Can we pedal or ride transit from our N. Pdx home to our friend's birthday celebration in Sellwood this evening?  Can we manage to show up on time for swim every single day?  With temperatures hitting the mid-90s this week and with some TriMet buses not air conditioned, will will melt into our bike seats and just weep hot tears?

Read more about this year's Low Car Dieters, cheer us on, and read more about our trials and tribulations as we start this 30-day saga.

New Seat Belt Laws in 2007

June 30, 2007

Thanks to folks everyone who encouraged us to update our info, since New Seat Belt Laws in 2006 will soon be dated. As of Sunday, New Seat Belt Laws apply:

CHILD RESTRAINT LAW: (effective July 1, 2007) Child passengers must be restrained in approved child safety seats until they weigh forty pounds. Infants must ride rear-facing until they reach both one year of age AND twenty pounds.

BOOSTER SEAT LAW: (effective July 1, 2007) Children over forty pounds must use boosters to 4'9" tall unless they have reached age eight.

Hike The Coast!

May 24, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy trails!

Img_0308

Exploring Oregon Coast Tidepools

May 20, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dream with me...

April 29, 2007

My husband is lucky enough to work for a company that offers a paid sabbatical for every 7 years of service...2007 marks his 7th year, and as of July, he's eligible...we've been waiting for this treat for a long time! For a couple of reasons (new baby coming in August, and wanting to enjoy the perfect summers in Portland) I think we're deciding to postpone his time off until the first of next year. We're thinking Jan/Feb 08 although we could go a little earlier or a little later...

What are we going to do with this luxurious block of time? We definitely want to travel, we want to take the long trips that we haven't been able to take since college, we want to visit family and we want to spend time as a family--just the (what will be!) 4 of us, since most of our vacation time is spent visiting family. And of course, we want to see something new...The two trips that are definitely on our agenda are a trip to Norway to visit his family and a trip to a beach--if I'm leaving Portland during the rainiest time of the year, and visiting Norway during the darkest and coldest time of the year I definitely want some time to warm my toes in the sand and get a little sunshine!

So uMamas, where would you take your family if you had the luxury of time and a little money to spend? What have been your favorite winter getaways since becoming a family? Have any of you been on a fabulous European vacation in the middle of winter? Skiing in the Alps, maybe? And where are your favorite sunny getaways that are family friendly? Is Hawaii too expensive for families, even though they say it's easier to get to than Mexico or the Carribean?  And if you check Europe and the beach off our list, where else would you go? Someplace faraway and exotic (as exotic as a family with a 3 year old and an infant can handle!) Or would you hop in the car and take a road trip?

On a Jet Plane: When to Buy a Seat

March 27, 2007

We're certain that there are many well-traveled parents out there who can provide Liz some friendly advice on her question.  She writes:

Hubby & I want to visit friends in San Diego in the middle of April - our son will be 1 years old by then.  Do we need to get him his own seat on the plane? When he was younger we flew with him on our lap with this harness vest for flying - it worked great we would probably have to buy the bigger size now.  Also we were thinking of making a day trip to Tijuana, Mexico (never been) is that a crazy idea to go with a 1 year old? We will have a rental car & drive from San Diego.

Break!

March 22, 2007

Next week is Spring Break for Portland and Beaverton Public Schools. That's a change in the schedule for all of us. For some of us who may work fulltime, spring break means a hunt for day camps. For some of us, spring break means a search for new and fun activities for ourselves and our kids. There are things going on out there, like Free Swim Lessons at some pools and surely a whole host of other funness to be had. There are camps at the ol' standbys: the Zoo Camp or Children's Museum Camp. What else is there? Art camp at 100th Monkey Studio? Kung Fu Camp? Maybe leisurely mornings and long bike rides? Walks to our favorite parks to catch up with neighbors and friends?

What's Spring Break '07 like for our family? Monday through Wednesday, our girls will hang with one of their bestest gal pals (a sitter share!). We have family coming in late Wednesday, who'll spend some QT with the girls on Thursday. On Friday, we'll zip away for a long weekend getway at Sunriver, and that'll be that!

How 'bout you all? Care to share some plans for your upcoming week?

Mama Getaway

March 16, 2007

We shoud all be as lucky as, Anne.  She's palnning a kid-free outing and needs some referrals for Seattle-area shops.  She writes:

I'm planning my first all-by-myself get-away from my kids (4) and (2). I've been to Seattle before but this time I'm looking to do a little shopping. I'm looking for Hip Momma clothing especially, but also any other cool, out-of-the-way out-of-the-ordinary type shops. (i.e. not Pike Place Market which I love, but I'm trying to branch out.) Anyone out there with suggestions?

On the Road: Breastfeeding-Friendly

March 01, 2007

I'm in Philadelphia for the week. I went to dinner yesterday, and a sticker on the door stopped me in my tracks. Bfwh_logojpg "Breastfeeding Welcome Here!" it read. I smiled and felt proud to be supporter of this business. I felt like breastfeeding mamas were being welcomed with open arms, hugs, and kisses, ushered right into this little restaurant. It's amazing what a feeling a sticker can impart.

In Portland, the image is a little different, but the sentiment is the same.
Lnkbflogosm The State Department of Health has a department committed to promoting breastfeeding in the workplace. Other great resources incldue the Nursing Mothers Council of Oregon and Washington and La Leche League of Oregon.

Props to those businesses out there who support breastfeeding mamas. Feel free to give a shout-out if you're a Portland business that actively welcomes nursing mamas like us!

International Travel for Babies

February 05, 2007

Diana has an upcoming trip with, not a toddler in tow, but a younger 6-month old:

I am a new mom (getting "schooled" as we speak) of a delightful and active (!) 6-month old baby girl named Mayumi. I am planning to bring her home with me to the Philippines to meet the rest of my family in February. The flight from here to the Philippines is 10 hours long. I was not lucky enough to get a red-eye flight so I was wondering if you moms have some advice for keeping babies occupied (or at least quiet) inside the plane for most of the trip (if it is even possible).