45 posts categorized "urbanHome"

urbanMamas Episode 6: Tamara Rubin

February 08, 2015

Below is a partial transcript from the urbanMamas Podcast Episode 6 where we welcome Tamara Rubin, Executive Director of the Lead Safe America Foundation and creator of the documentary, MisLead: America’s Secret Epidemic. Tamara is a Portland mama to 4 kids, 2 of whom were lead poisoned in 2005.

Click here to listen on iTunes. Click here to listen direct.

Links and resources for lead testing your home are available at the bottom of this transcript, as well as how you can help support MisLead and increasing awareness of the prevalence of lead in our schools, homes and environment. Please help this information go viral. Share this post on your Facebook page, email it to your community groups, your daycare, your school, your local legislative office, and help us fill a petition to get 100,000 Portland parents on board with demanding we fund lead clean up in Portland Public Schools.


We’ll start with the Icebreaker Hat

Tamara: "If you had to move out of Portland, where would you go and why?" Well actually I've been having a lot of difficulty with the Portland Public Schools, and the school system keeps referring my son to schools with lead hazards. And since he has medical fragility and has a compromised immune system from being poisoned as a baby, I don't want him to go to a school with lead hazards and his doctors have said he shouldn't go to a school with lead hazards. But the PPS says "Well, all of the kids here are going to schools with lead hazards, so why should your kid be any different?" And so I've been looking desperately for a school without lead hazards, and we've interviewed at several schools. We just found one in Lake Oswego that we, hopefully, may get a transfer to. And if that doesn't work out, I might have to move to L.A. because they have a publicly funded public school that is a safe school for autistic kids on the spectrum, anywhere on the spectrum, from pre-K to early 20s. And is free, but if you live out of district it's a $20,000 a year private school. And it has integrated therapies, like occupational therapy, speech therapy, focused learning for any deficit areas like reading. And it's like a magical school. And so I would go to L.A. and try to find a place to live in the L.A. unified school district so my kids could go to school for free.

R: Let's talk about lead!

K: So, you have this documentary, MisLead, and you've been working on it for awhile now.

T: Yeah, I've heard from other documentary filmmakers that the average documentary gets produced in about 4 years, and some take 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years. And so this is now the beginning of our 4th year, we just hit the 3 year mark in December. I feel bad that aren't getting this message out faster, but also I'm going with the limited funding I've had to work on the film, and we're doing something that I don't know that any other documentary has done, is we're trying to make a feature film that hopefully will be shown in theatres and will have a Hollywood and NY premiere, but we're doing it completely on donations. So over 900 people have donated something, either time or a dollar or $10,000 to help pull this together.

K: $10,000. Good job whoever you are!

Continue reading "urbanMamas Episode 6: Tamara Rubin" »

How do you view housework?*

February 09, 2012

photo Sarah Gilbert; guest post MaryJo Monroe

I have one child, who is now 6. When he was a toddler and I was a full-time stay-at-home mom just starting my consulting business, I used to look around my house at the end of the day with guilt and depression, noticing the pile of laundry that didn’t get folded, the dirty dishes still lying in the sink, the toys still sitting out on the floor. And I didn’t have the energy to do a thing about it. But here’s the clincher: The business I was starting was an organizing business. I am a professional organizer.

Continue reading "How do you view housework?*" »

A dog as your house alarm?

March 05, 2010

I've had sketchy things happen in our 'hood, on occassion.  We get some unannounced knocks at our door.  Our car has been broken into in front of our house.  With my partner out late for work often and with our 100+ year old house getting creaky, I can get scared of dark corners.  I have thought about getting a dog to act as a sounding board, but - geez! - aren't three kids enough?  Well, an urbanMama recently emailed faced with a similar conundrum:

Hi Mamas, my husband and I are having a dog dilemma. He wants to get a dog to alert us of people on the property.  We have had someone in our unlocked shed and in our cars on the nights we forget to lock them.  I understand and support his need to protect his family.   My issues are that we have a three and a half year old and a one year old.  Our house is small but the yard is huge.  I am not wanting to take on the responsibility of an animal that needs real care.  We have two neglected cats who are outdoor only since my son was born.  I don't think it is fair to them to add another animal when they are getting very little attention.  The final concern is the cost of having a dog and taking proper care of him/her.  I know that I will have to cave at some time but would like to figure out what is the best plan for getting a dog that will be good with the kids and worth the bark.  We will not be getting a puppy.  I will go to the pound for a dog and have no plans on paying for something fancy. Your thoughts mamas?

Shoes, shoes, shoes: how to control the clutter?

January 10, 2010

It's hard enough for just one person to control the clutter of the shoe, but add to that a kid or two and a partner, then there could be heaps of shoes, sandals, flip-flops, and slippers strewn everywhere.  Time after time, we *think* we've found the perfect solution to tame the shoes, but it always ends up in one big indiscernable heap, even after good, consistent purging and maintaining the stock to just the bare minimum number of shoes.  As a no-shoe household, we always end up with this heap in our entryway, and people constantly trip over the heap o' shoes.  We'd like to know: do you have the same issue?  How have you managed to control the clutter of the shoes?  Help us in our quest to organize in this new year!

Seeking recommendations: Local Landscape Designer

July 14, 2009

Some of us mamas are not visionaries in the garden.  I think I only know how to weed, and I only know where to weed once I am told.  I cannot plan or plot where to plant what.  I am glad I am not alone in my situation.  An urbanMama recently emailed:

After seeing all the gorgeous gardens around here, I have serious green envy. But I know nothing about landscaping, and previous efforts have involved picking plants I think are pretty at the nursery, sticking them in the ground randomly, and seeing if they live (usually not). I'd love some real help making a plan for the garden, with someone who actually knows about plants -- and is especially knowledgeable about low-maintenance, native species and edible plants. In my dream world, the result would look like a wild-ish French garden with flowers and butterflies that I could upkeep myself (in other words, easily). It would be good if that person knows about backyard design, since we could use help with layout, deck, etc.  Has anyone used a great local landscape designer that doesn't charge a fortune?

For those of you inclined to DIY in the garden, perhaps you'd like to peruse How does your Garden Grow?, Part 1 and Part 2, or Veggie Growing 101.

How does your garden grow? Part II

April 01, 2009

It's that time of year again.  In fact, we may even be a little late to the game to start thinking: how does your garden grow?  An urbanMama recently emailed to glean ideas for their new family garden:

My family and I have the opportunity to garden a 400sq ft plot starting in the next couple of weeks.  Since we have no dirt of our own, or even any attached to our apartment, we are really excited to get started.  I am hoping that the gardening-mamas out there might be willing share their experiences in order that we can make the most of ours.  Any suggestions about what grows really well here (the plot is in close-in SE) and what doesn't grow well here even if it should?  I would also welcome book titles, websites, etc. that people have found they can't live without.  Lastly, I recently aquired my MIL's large canning pressure cooker and would love to put it to use.  I haven't the foggiest idea how to use it and don't think I should go another summer without learning if I even need the pressure cooker.  Is anyone interested in scheduling/hosting some canning parties this summer with the understanding that some of us will need a little instruction? 

urbanMamas recommendation on a washing machine?

March 03, 2009

Most of us urbanMamas face the battle of the pile on a regular basis.  To that end, we'd like to help an urbanMama narrow her search on a new washing machine.  Can you lend your experience?

We have had a Sears "Kenmore" front loader for the past four years. Last week it stopped working.  The cost for repairs is enough that we are looking to buy a new machine. It has to be a front loader to fit in the spot in our laundry room.  I am not going back to Sears.  I have been burned one to many times buying through them.  I need a machine that can handle diapers, carpenter's clothes and all the clothes a newborn can spit up on.  What do you mamas have?  What do you like/dislike about your machines?

When your herbivore babe takes to the garden

June 10, 2008

When our oral-oriented kids share our love for gardens, how do you babyproof and purge the spurge?  Thanks, Camellia, for highlighting this issue:

My 7-month old is a voracious OmniTaster. I was gardening with him on my back yesterday when, quick as lightning, he snagged a piece of Euphorbia and brought it to his mouth. I quickly grabbed it away from him and wiped away the tiny drops of white sap on his face.

Later, he developed a red streak across his face and a raw sore where the sap had landed (for mere seconds!) After a harrowing Google search and call to the poison control center, we learned that not only are many Euphorbia highly poisonous, its sap can actually burn the skin. We were lucky he just got a few drops on his face--it could have been much, much worse if he'd managed to get it into his mouth or eyes (shiver!)

Euphorbia (common name="spurge") are one of the most common plants in Portland gardens. There are countless varieties, including poinsettias. I had a vague notion that they could be poisonous, but had no idea just how pernicious they were. The poison control center recommended not growing them if you have children under the age of five.

I wonder what other common garden and house plants are more dangerous than I realize. I've eschewed foxgloves and datura this year. I know we can't purge our homes and gardens of everything that might harm our children if ingested, but which plants are the really treacherous ones?  Have you removed plants or taken other measures to childproof your garden?

Composting for Beginners

May 19, 2008

There are many among us who have green thumbs and maturing gardens.  But, for the beginners among us, can you share with us how you started your compost pile?  Where can you go to learn more?  Samantha emailed:

I read the recent post on using compost for the garden, but I'm just starting out and wondering if there is an old post for favorite methods for starting a compost pile. I have questions such as: which kits to buy, to worm or not to worm? Also wondering if anyone's ever used a pet waste composter.

Metro has some great local resources on composting

What are your recommendations for tips and tricks on composting at home?  Books that are must-have resources?

Got Dirt?

May 15, 2008

Seems like lots of urbanMama and Papas out there are well on their way to getting their gardens set, as Sarah recently emailed for some suggestions:

We have a new raised bed for a vegetable garden, and I’m wondering where is a good place to get top-quality soil. We’d like to fill it with organic dirt (chemical free) if we can afford it. I know some home/garden stores sell organic dirt by the bag, but we really need a trailer full. Any tips on good dirt? It would be great to find a place that delivers.

Are there grants available for housing?

May 02, 2008

It absolutely takes a village, and part of our goal in building the urbanMamas community is to offer resources and guidance to all.  We received a recent email from a mama just outside Salem requesting help accessing grants or other financial assistance to buy a home:

My name is Starla I live in Stayton, OR.  I am 37 years old, single for 9 years. I have 3 kids each with a different type of mental disorder. My daughter is 14 with OCD, Trichotillomania, OCD Hoarder and ADD. One son is 12 with Autism/Asperger’s, PDD and ADHD.  Last but not least my 10 year old son with Bi-Polar and ADHD. My children are my world.  We moved to OR from CA so I can get my children more help through the school and Therapist, things are doing so much better here. I have a Home Day Care, that is so I can be more convenient when I have to drive my children to all of their appointments (therapist, Med Prescribers, a Home Skill Worker, or school teachers or counselors). I just went back to college in Oct. 2007, this is the start for me to a whole new career; my goal is to be a family Therapist for children with mental disorders.

Being a single parent with children with mental disorders, my job options are limited and the so are my finances. I would love to be able to buy a home for us.  I am renting a duplex so the maximum number of children that I can have in my Daycare is limited to 5 children.  If I had a home I would be able to have 10, and that would double my income.  Also my children are loud and they bother the neighbors on the other side of the wall (the neighbors know about my children and their mental disorders).  It is hard enough to try to control the children, and - when a neighbor comes over and gets in the middle of it - that makes it much harder.  My son (the one who has Autism) thinks that the neighbors want to kill him and I can’t get him to play outside, and he thinks that the owner want to kick us out (they don’t).  He lives in fear all the time. My daycare children are wonderful, and my children love them.  They all get along with the great.

If there is a grant that can help my buy a home for us that would help us out so much.

What are resources statewide (or even in Portland that could potentially have similar programs in other cities) that you could suggest? 

How does your garden grow?

April 28, 2008

I have two thumbs but neither are green.  My husband has a green thumb.  For the first couple of years here in Portland, I was pretty green with envy at folks talking about their berry bushes and spinach crop.  They told me of their children frolicking in their yard, plucking from their veggie beds whenever they needed snacks.  I thought: "Wow."

Last year, after lots and lots of reading and consulting others, my husband built two vegetable beds and we planted our own veggies for the first time.  One week last summer, I was eating radishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Another week, I was eating romaine lettuce day in and out.  "Regularity" was not an issue for me.

This year, we are working more closely together to decide what items we love to eat and want to plant.  We have also dug out another two big areas to grow more and are plotting / phasing our growing so we have some diversity in what we harvest at any given time.  I still feel so overwhelmed, though.  I am just glad that my husband has taken the lead on this project.

I've talked with other mamas that are just as daunted by this whole gardening thing.  So, if you don't mind, could you please share your bestest tips?  Do we start from seed?  Indoors?  Buy starts?  Aren't they expensive?  What part of the yard should we plant in?  What are your favorite vegetables to plant?  Favorite fruits?   How about a book where we can learn all the ins and outs of growing our own?

This conversation is inspired by a recent thread on one of my mama yahoo groups: shout out to the mamanandas!

Housecleaner Recommendations Part 4

April 03, 2008

Time for spring cleaning!  Renee emails:

I was looking through the archives for housecleaning recommendations, and they last posting I found was for March 2007. I was wondering if there are any more recent recommendations for a good, reasonably priced housecleaner in SE Portland ?

For past threads on housecleaner recommendations, check out:

Movin' on up: to a "big kid" bed

March 12, 2008

For those mamas who have already been through this, Courtney would love your insight:

What about “big kid beds”?  Assuming your kid slept/sleeps in a crib - How old was s/he when they moved up to the big kid bed? What was the motivation to move them, esp. without another kid that needs the crib? Can they just stay in the crib for as long as they fit? Do they need to move when they are toilet trained and need to go potty at night? When they asked (whined) enough?  Did you go with toddler bed with crib mattress?  Twin?  Full?  Bunk?  Best place to purchase any of the options?

Do you Roomba?

March 06, 2008

We're all busy mamas entitled to try to make the day-to-day a bit easier.  Is the Roomba the solution to clean floors?  Is it worth every penny?  Says Sarah:

Okay, so maybe not the most important thing in today's world. BUT, I'm always looking for ways to simplify my life. I am planning to replace my wood floors soon and I'm worried about taking care of them. Currently I sweep several times a day to gather the sand, cheerios and other food particles. In between those sweeps, the floor is still a disaster. I don't want to put in our new bamboo floor just to have it trashed by the traffic rubbing the sand and Os into the floor. AND, I'd like to NOT sweep several times a day. So, it's been available for a while and I don't know anybody that actually tried it.  Most of the reports I've read have to do with pet hair which isn't an issue for us.

Does anyone out there own a Roomba? Does it work well? Was it worth the money? Does it pick up Cheerios? What about sand? How does it maneuver around toys? I have hardwood, too many toys, no pets, 2 kids. Should I Roomba?

Tenant Rights: Yard & Chimney?

November 04, 2007

Phoebe recently moved to Portland and is wondering what are standard landlord vs. tenant responsibilties here in the Rose City:

The landlord of the house isn't providing yard maintenance and it's our responsibility to have the chimney swept.  When I moved to LA from New York I was shocked that most rentals don't come with refrigerators, do you know if lack of yard care and the chimney is just a common rental quirk of Portland?

Where to get backyard play equipment?

October 17, 2007

Fonda is seeking any thoughts or experiences you have with backyard play equipment:

I would like to buy a fairly basic but good quality play structure that will last a long time and won't overwhelm our backyard (swings, slide, some climbing features like monkey bars perhaps).  Does anyone have any suggestions on models and where to get them?  I've heard of The Kid's Backyard Store in the SW, are there any others? How much should I expect to spend on such a thing?

C'mon, what's your score?

August 08, 2007

Many of us urbanMamas and urbanPapas value efficient living, where we can have affordable housing close to transit hubs, schools, supermarkets, and other amenities.  Portland is already known for its award-winning transit system.  For a neat new tool give you a rough rating of the walkability of your neighborhood, check out WalkScore.com.  What's your score?

Continue reading "C'mon, what's your score?" »

Don't make me go...Tenant Rights

August 07, 2007

I began my search for an apartment for myself and Jackson last December. After just a few days on craigslist, I started making appointments to look at some places. The first place I looked at was it...it was perfect. Great location, nice space, hardwood floors, dry basement, yard, clean and bright. I couldn't believe how easy it was to find a great place. And the landlord even seemed like a dream, low key and uninvolved; but, living close enough to be able to deal with any problems in a timely manner.

Last month, we got some new neighbors (it is a duplex). A family from NY (I think I slip back into my Long Island accent when I talk to them) with two boys, 4 1/2 and 2 1/2. Again, I couldn't believe my luck. I've always wanted to have neighborhood kids for Jackson. With Ruby and Sam across the street and the three boys now in the duplex, the play date potential was very exciting.

About 3 weeks ago, I received a call from my landlord. His message said, "Hi Erica, as you probably know, I have sold the building and the sale is contingent on seeing your unit. So, we will be around tomorrow to take a look." What! How could I possibly know that the building had been sold if I had not been aware that it was even on the market. The new owner came through and a few days later a contractor went through the duplex, as well. Last Friday, I received another call saying that the sale fell through and some new potential buyers would like to check it out with their inspectors. We were home yesterday recovering from a stomach virus. The potential buyers were two young women. I asked them what they were planning for the building and, as expected, they would be purchasing the building together and would each live in one of the two units. My heart sank.

Now that you have the rather long-winded background, here's my question. What are my rights as a tenant? I looked online and it seems as though the new owners will not be able to change my existing year lease. However, it also seems as though I can be given a 30-day notice without any real reason. Does anyone have any experience with tenant rights, either as a tenant or a landlord?

Oh, and if anyone is looking for a great piece of property as an investment, I've got one for you to look at. And, it comes with some great tenants, too.

Brace yourself: IKEA set to open July 25

July 17, 2007

It's the moment we've all been waiting for! Or not?  The IKEA Grand Opening is fast approaching.  To prepare, the Port of Portland has even issued a traffic advisory and has prepared an IKEA traffic flow plan.  IKEA has been billed as the big-box that even Portlanders love.  Today's Oregonian tells us to brace ourselves for the traffic nightmare that this grand opening will bring.

According to all accounts, the store format will be the same as all the other 30 IKEAs in the US.  Another fun thing to look forward to will be the big bright and primary playroom where the kids can play while the adults wander through the maze of staged room after staged room.  We'll all be hungry after all that bouncing and playing (the kids) or shopping and hauling DIY furniture (the mamas & the papas), that we'll soon end up in the IKEA cafeteria, where we'll have 50 cent Swedish meatballs and other Swedish delicacies in true IKEA frugal fashion.  Kids will have bright red tables and yellow chairs, they will love their kiddie food trays and utensils.  It will be fun, won't it?

So, are you making your list and checking it twice?  Will you be heading out there on July 25th or soon thereafter?Ikea

Opening July 25!  Please bring your family for a morning of fun and festivities July 25.  Entertainment begins at 6:00 am, doors will open at 9:00 am.  July 26-29 Store & Restaurant open at 10:00 am.

6:00 am?  Will that be you waiting at the door?  That's mighty, mighty early....  but in case you'd like an earlier start:

Air out your camping gear!  Customers can begin lining up at IKEA Portland at 9:00 AM on Monday morning, July 23, 2007 - in advance of our July 25 opening.  We are going to be doing something special for everyone on opening morning so you do not have to be the first, second, or third customer* in line to share the fun.

* There will be no specific prize given to just the first, second, or third customer in line.

Cleaning Indoor Air

June 06, 2007

We're certain that many are sneezing and wheezing as you read this with allergens in full force.  However, for Amy, she thinks it may be something else lurking in her house.  She writes:

We have a (very amateurly installed) air conditioning unit in our 1920s house. Twice recently, when the temps got unbearable inside (mid 80s), we turned it on for a few hours. Both times, I got a sore throat that led to sinus infection within a couple of days. This last time, my husband got a sore throat followed by a migraine (which he has never had before) the following day. Amazingly, our 9-month-old daughter didn't get sick ... but we're wondering if our ductwork needs cleaning. (All this could be seasonal allergies or coincidence, but we're still leery.) I haven't been able to find reliable information about household air cleaning services - has anyone had their ventilation systems cleaned, and did it help noticeably? Any references for a reputable company? What about air purifiers? DIY solutions? Other ideas? Wheezingly yours, Amy

Keep it hangin'?

May 12, 2007

Mamas, how do you dry?  Sarah asks:

My husband and I have been thinking about air-drying our laundry on a clothesline in the back yard. I'm wondering if other urbanmamas are doing this? Does it save you money? Is it really time consuming? I quickly checked out Project Laundry List (Right to Dry) but they don't seem to have much practical information about line-drying. Other than putting up a clothesline and buying clothes pins, are there secrets or tips you'd like to share? Finally, I'm wondering if you line-dryin' mamas hang your skivvies outside? Somehow the thought of hanging my panties and bras outside makes me blush…

Moving to Portland & Seeking Advice!

May 08, 2007

In the most recent "Cities Ranked and Rated", a study of 400 metropolitan areas ranks Portland at number 3.  Even the Places Rated Almanac shows Portland at the top of list, as number 4.  Here at urbanMamas, we know we have a great thing.  We've had numerous conversations here about sense of place and our neighborhoods.  Many of us have lived in different cities and have made the decision to move to and stay in Portland.  Simply put, Portland's 'da bomb'.

Many of us know what it's like to research online to find the perfect neighborhood, school, and community.  We've received a few recent emails from folks moving to Portland, asking specific questions and seeking your input, advice, and suggestions. 

Amy and her family are moving to Portland from the Bay Area:

My husband and I are finally carrying out the dream we've talked about for years: Moving from the Bay Area to Portland.  I grew up in Southern Oregon, and came to the Bay Area for grad school, as did my husband.  Then we just kind of stuck around here. Now, we both work from home, have a toddler son, and we're ready to move. We really want to live near shops, good public schools, and parks —after commuting an hour each way every day to work for eight years, I'm done with driving for a while! Here are the neighborhoods we like:  Irvington, Alameda,
Beaumont, and Laurelhurst. (We want to live really close-in, even Mount Tabor and Multnomah Village felt a little too far for us). Does anyone have thoughts on those neighborhoods, in terms of being family-friendly, close to things, safe, and having good public elementary schools?  Also, some friends recommended we check out the west hills area and NW, but I was unsure after driving around there if young families live there and couldn't tell if the vibe was as friendly
as NE?  Seems like Chapman and Ainsworth are good schools, but I really want to be close to other families and good stuff to do with my son (libraries, parks, museums, etc). Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

Continue reading "Moving to Portland & Seeking Advice!" »

The Hot and Cold about Heat Pumps

As we embark on a journey of home remodeling, we've been giving lots of thought as to which type of appliances to install.  It can all be overwhelming when you think of it all at once.  So for now we'll start with heating and cooling; Catherine and I wonder:

We've just decided that our big project for the year is to replace our ancient electric furnace with something new.  Going green would be great, provided it doesn't blow our budget!  A heat pump seems like a great device, but the reviews vary a lot.  Does anyone out there have a heat pump in their home?  Do you like it? Does it perform well? Do you have gas or electric furnace backup?  I'm wondering if they live up to the hype as well - will we see a drop in our nearly $400 heating bill from last December?

Any other setup that anyone would like to recommend?

Buying Local: Organic Mattress

May 06, 2007

Lara is in search of a local store that carries organic mattresses.  Are you aware of any?

I would like to buy an organic crib mattress for my daughter who will be moving into a crib soon. I know you can order them online but I would prefer to go to a store so I can see it first. Does anyone know of such a store in Portland and if not, any recommendations for ones purchased online?

Tell us about Concordia

April 27, 2007

Bella is in search of your experiences wtih the Concordia neighborhood:

We have been house hunting for a couple months now and are about to make an offer on a house in west Concordia, near 25th and Ainsworth.  The house is a great fit for our family but we're not too familiar with the area as we've always lived in Southeast.  I would love some urbanMama wisdom ASAP!

Question for 2-house families

April 21, 2007

urbanMamas and Papas, Sadie Rose would love to hear how you have juggled scheduling for your child(ren) who have two or more places to call "home":

I have a 2.5 year old boy, and he goes to his dad's one night a week. But now, things are changing and he's going to be there nearly (but not quite) half the time!

I was just wondering if anyone out there has any ideas on the best way to do the split household with a little guy. I was nearly twelve when my parents divorced, and as I headed into my teens, I liked the longer stints at each house so that I didn't have to go back and forth so much. But clearly, with a toddler, I'm not going to do it as I would with a teenager. At this point, we have developed a schedule where he goes to his dad's house 2 nights in a row, comes back to me for 2 nights, back to dad's for 1 night, and then back to me for 2 nights.

It sounds complicated, and I suppose on many levels, it is. I am just wondering if any uMs have any other ideas or experiences or advice on this matter. We are barely even through our first week with the new schedule, so I'm not even sure how it's going to go. Time (and emotions) will tell.

NOT a Chemical Romance

April 06, 2007

Now that spring has sprung, we - along with many of our neighbors - are out toiling on our land, sprucing up the yards, trimming back the shrubs, killing off the weeds?.... Dana asks:

What do you ladies know about weed killers/fertilizers in particular? My lawn is a hideous melange of crabgrass, weeds, and a little actual grass. My husband would like to use Weed and Feed on it based on a recommendation from my entirely environmentally-inept-chemical-using-republican-stepmother. No seriously I love her but the woman actually doesn't know how to recycle. I taught her this weekend. She says that Weed and Feed is not long lasting and that the chemicals break down after a few weeks. I would really love to believe her. On the other hand I want my son to be able to play in the grass this summer with a clear conscience.

Does anyone know about chemicals like this? Or does anyone know of health/enviro friendly alternatives?

Quick! Make a bed!

March 29, 2007

We have a mama in need!  Cheryl's expecting a slew of visitors and needs to accommodate them with some extra sleeping space.  Here is her plight:

We have some unexpected out-of-town guests coming to stay with us next week and we are short on accommodations. To save them from camping out on our floor, we'd like to put a sleeper sofa in our playroom, but don't want to invest in a new one, and as we need it ASAP, we don't have time to go the craigslist route. Can anyone recommend a second-hand furniture shop that has a decent selection and good quality items?  Thanks for your help (and our guest's backs thank you as well).

Where to buy household goods?

March 08, 2007

We believe Portland is special because we have so many options to help reduce the footprint we leave on the Earth. We are also very conscientious about how and where our belongings and goods come from. Mardi emails:

I have been reading the comments on earth-friendly/non toxic cleaning supplies and have been really inspired by so many great ideas.

I have yet another thing I'm grappling with. I recently watched "Walmart- the High cost of Low price" and - although I don't shop at Walmart - I feel like I need to rely less on stores like Target and Fred Meyer too, especially since I read a Coop-America rating of companies. While not as much as Walmart, Target still does have a record of sweatshop abuses. Oh and it's confirmed, Sam's Club is owned by Walmart.

I'd like to know what other mamas do to avoid the big retail shops where they can. I'd prefer my money not going to line the pockets of Target or Fred Meyer execs. What do you do when you need everyday household stuff like stationery or garbage bags or socks?

Favorite Earth Friendly/Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies?

February 24, 2007

Although I wrote down the names and numbers of several of the housekeeper recommendations recently posted on urbanMamas, we're still trying to hold out on our own for just a little longer. Ask me how I'm feeling about outsourcing our household cleaning needs this summer when it's 100 degrees outside and I'm 9 months pregnant...

Some of the recommendations mentioned gals who are using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, and lately I've been thinking a lot about the sprays and wipes in my cleaning bucket and wondering what I can switch to that is not only more earth friendly, but also non-toxic. A few weeks ago I picked up a bottle of all purpose Citrus Sage spray from Imus at Linens and Things because it had the words "environmentally responsible" and "non-toxic" on the label. It's ok for countertops and small spills, but I'm wondering about the more hard core stuff for toilets, bathroom sinks, etc.

Any urbanMamas or uPapas using some great products that are worth recommending?

Housecleaner Recommendations Part 3

February 20, 2007

Virginia is looking specifically for independent housecleaner recommendations:

I’m getting ready to make the transition from full-time stay at home mom to full-time work at home AND stay at home mom. Since my husband and I are both self-employed we are lucky to be able to pull this off and still be at home with our toddler. However, there is no way I can keep the house clean on top of it. Can anyone recommend a cleaning person? I’m looking for someone who is more of an “independent contractor”. I don’t want to hire a company unless there is a person that one of you would specifically recommend. I need someone to come in every other week and “super clean” the bathrooms and floors. I’d appreciate some great recommendations.

Non-toxic carpet cleaner?

February 02, 2007

Now that we have little ones inspecting every nook and cranny of our homes, we are vigilant about maintaining clean quarters and trying to use non-toxic cleaners in the process.  Chanda asks:

I have a baby who is about to take off crawling, and I suddenly am very aware of the state of my floors...!  I am looking for an environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, baby-friendly carpet cleaner.  Any ideas?  Does Stanley Steemer do a non-chemically rug cleaning?  Also, I am looking for an eco/child-friendly drycleaner.  Does anyone have any leads?

Help a Mama help her Mama

January 09, 2007

People in Portland love their neighborhoods, and there are many reasons why. Dana's mom is considering moving to Portland from Ashland:

My question is regarding what areas of Portland people have found a sense of community, with a progressive attitude, and decent price range for real estate. What neighborhoods have people experienced that they know and maybe even like their neighbors?

If she were to move up here it would be really important for her to find a neighborhood that could still give her some of those things that Ashland did. Of course Portland is a big city and Ashland is not, but Portland has nice little pockets of cool spots. Although one usually follows the other its not just about the shopping and good restaurants for her. I think she wants to be able to get involved in the community some. Join some local groups, walk to the coffee shop and see people she knows, and of course support for local libraries. One thing I find you run into w/ bigger cities is life gets faster and everyone goes about their busy lives. She wouldn't like that.

I live in Piedmont so I'm not sure what other neighborhoods are like to live in. I know she likes Alameda, and Irvington, and Grant Park areas. Maybe Mt. Tabor but not sure if that will be in her price range or not (400-500K) or in SE some place. She would love to find a little place w/ a separate apartment or a duplex or something to rent out as well.

To Ship A Car

January 06, 2007

Does anyone have experience with shipping a car? Wynne emails:

I was wondering if you might be able to help a mama out. We are in need of an additional car (we have one wagon, three large dogs, a husband, a baby, a mama, a stroller and more babies to come sooner than later). Yes, i like to ride my bike and carpool; I am green and eat organic, but we still need an additional car. Anyway, we are looking for something quite specific and can only seem to find it online, far away. We need to learn about shipping cars. The quotes I've gotten so far are $1k to $1700 (eek!), and we want to hear about other people's experiences. Is that a reasonable quote? Is it safe? Does anyone recommend any specific companies?

Organize THIS!

November 22, 2006

It was just about a year ago, the day before Thanksgiving, when I invited a space organizational consultant in to help us purge and organize.  It's always, always good to go make time to go through stuff and chuck the stuff you haven't touched in years.  Why keep it around?  Kaaren is feeling the similar itch to reorganize, plan, shuffle, and strategize:

We're in desperate need of a professional organizer, particularly for our home office (which we both work from), but also for other parts of the house.  We need to purge, organize and establish systems for paper and clothes, the two things that consistently encroach upon our home and sanity.  Do any of you have any experience with someone who helped you, who you could recommend to us?  (We're in close-in NE)

P.S. What a great gift!  A certificate to a couple of hours with a space consultant?  A gift that could potentially keep on giving.

Designing the urbanHome

November 02, 2006

What makes your home a home? For us, storage and wide open space plans are key. Practicality, form and function... who has the time to figure it? Could you help a mama out? Suzame asks:

I'm hoping some mamas out there can recommend an interior designer. We aren't looking for a total home makeover; we have one room -- our living room -- that's a puzzle to us in terms of getting the right furnture combo (it's overly big and maybe we have bad feng shui). Anyway, I've never worked with an interior designer before and have been dragging my feet in terms of getting together with one -- it seems like such a splurge. But I really can't come up with a way to make our living room livable. I don't want to spend a fortune -- I don't even know what they charge -- I just want someone who is professional, gets our style and our needs, who can make some recommendations on the type of sofa (or furniture combo) we need to get to make our living room more homey.

Now that you've selected a space, how do you move your family?

October 10, 2006

This weeks begins a countdown to a first for me: moving with a family. Our current house has been our residence since before our first child was born. It's the only home my toddler has known--how will he react to leaving it? I've read posts on the subject and know about unpacking the children's things first, but how else to smooth the transition?  Anyone with stories, tips, or gotcha's to share?

How do you choose a space for your family?

October 02, 2006

We are house-hunting, as we recently sold our home. Our seach has yielded a series of "almost perfect" houses. Almost perfect, but only one bathroom and on a different floor than the bedrooms.  Almost perfect, but too far away, in an undesireable school district. Almost perfect, but slightly too small. Each house has been so almost perfect that we almost love them, but there's that one something about them doesn't fit.

It's an interesting dilemma. Buy the house that's big enough, but not in the area you wanted? Buy the house that's smaller than you wanted, but with desireable yard/school district/neighborhood? Or rent and keep looking?

How do you choose a space for your family? What's important to you in a home? In a neighborhood? Would you prefer lots of room in a second or third-choice area, or a tight squeeze in a dreamy neighborhood? Or would you hold out for the perfect combination?

Glider For Sale

August 21, 2006

Hi Mamas,

I put our barily used GliderMedela nursing stool on Craigslist and thought I would put it out there to you all as well.  It's in perfect shape, super comfortable and as far as gliders go, not too terribly ugly.  Here's the listing if you are interested: http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/bab/197014644.html

Hope your havin' a good day!


Housecleaning Recommendations - Part 2?

June 06, 2006

We want clean houses! Can anyone make any more recommendations on some housecleaning referrals? I had recommended ours to a couple of folks, only to find she's not taking any more clients!

For reference, see Housecleaning Recommendations - Part 1.

Can you recommend a realtor?

March 22, 2006

There's no place like home sweet home.  Andy is in search of a home in SE and asks:

I am looking at buying a house sometime in the near future and am wondering if any urbanmamas have used a realtor they would like to recommend.  We are looking at purchasing in SE and I have no idea where to start.  I've been looking online, but would love a good suggestion from someone whose been through buying a home for the first time.  Thanks!


February 14, 2006

I felt so special when I saw my submissions up on ParentHacks.  First, my not-so-secret recipe for the housecleaning solution of choice.  And, second, my little trick for sanitizing sponges.

ParentHacks are always looking to share your favorite parenting secrets, your survival techniques or makeshift solutions (like a Sippy Cup on-the-go) or other brilliant ideas.  Send in your parent hacks!

Furniture store?

February 10, 2006

We are getting a refund this year and since I am in the business of spending (not earning anymore) money - I have a few things I think we "need"...  We need new bedroom furniture and wondered if anyone had any local store reccomendations?  We like a Pottery Barn aesthetic - heavy wooden bed type looks.  We aren't really into uber-modern looks or antiques. Just good quality, kinda hip and inviting and comfortable looking.  Oh yea and affordable...  While Pottery Barn isn't outrageously priced, if there is a place that is more affordable, great.  Anyway, let me know if you have any ideas. 

Housecleaning recommendations?

February 06, 2006

Okay, I give. I just can't keep the house as clean as I'd like to, and I'm ready to call in the pros. I've had housecleaners before, but I always end up canceling because a) it strains the budget, b) I feel mildly guilty about not doing the dirty-work myself, and c) the scheduling hassle sometimes makes it inconvenient (no matter how I set it up, there always seems to be a vacuum cleaner running while my youngest is trying to nap). But, at this point, I need to bite the bullet and ask for help.

Does anyone have a housecleaner they love? Who's reasonably priced?