Introducing our new contributor

We are always looking to improve and expand the voices we elevate here at urbanMamas. I met Renate many moons and a couple of lifetimes ago, and – thanks to social media – we’ve kept in touch. We recently reconnected in person a few months back, and I am so glad.

Mama to twins who she birthed with her soulmate partner by her side, she has worked her way through college and already had many careers in cosmetology and environmental science. Mamahood suits her swell; many days she spends engaged in her community contributing to LB Littles, tending to her urban garden of 4 raised beds out back, juggling twins, and baking artisan from-scratch gorgeous loaves at RenateBakes.

Renate brings energy, authenticity, eco-mindedness, and thoughtfulness. We are excited to welcome her to the urbanMamas family!

Help us maintain uM!

Dear Mamas & Papas:  This community has been in existence for a decade.  In that time, the mamas behind the site have come and gone, with more help in some periods than others.

Now, we are looking to you to help figure out a way to keep the site useful.  Forevermore, the childcare forum continues to thrive, as this will always be a necessity for mamas and papas out there.  In addition to that, we want to still provide value.  If you are interested in talking about how we can keep the community going, please email me personally: olivia [dot] rebanal [at] gmail [dot] com.  I’d love to chew on this with you.  Until then, please keep up with us on FB, for that’s pretty much the only way I seem to be able to represent uM these days!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of Place and Space: urbanMamas & California

 For my family, it is a tale of four cities… so far.

Photo_75994AD8-AC83-F7EE-DCC1-43A7FC64E1C2 (1)

Almost exactly one year ago, I received a call while I was away for a work trip (I was in Memphis.  With our toddler.)  My husband had bittersweet news.  He was accepted into a doctoral program at UC Berkeley.  They were offering him a complete scholarship.

My heart skipped many beats in that phone conversation.  I might have cried.  Whether they were tears of joy for my partner's accomplishments or whether they were tears of sadness knowing I had to leave, I am still not sure.

What ensued (what still ensues) were (are) weeks of intense planning for the transition: changing schools, selling our home, finding a new one, preparing ourselves financially, setting up a new home, starting at new schools (for the 4 of 5 of us in our family), making new friends.  The most difficult part: hugging our community goodbye.

Continue reading “Of Place and Space: urbanMamas & California”

A note on civility and community

When we met in 2004, the foundresses of urbanMamas were all seeking a central place on the 'net to get together with other likeminded mamas; to find and share reviews of kid-friendly businesses, events and things to do; to get advice on the issues that were especially pertinent to mothers living here in Portland. We came up with the name "urbanMamas" and we all loved it — it represented who were were then and still are now. Women who love the opportunity to raise children in a city, who are proud of our identity as mothers. At the time, we were all working full-time in office-type jobs; now, we have a variety of working situations.

We have put in a lot of work here, and we don't do it for the free wine and antipasti at our w[h]ine nights. We do this because we still believe it's something our community needs. A place without a corporate agenda. A place that's not selling anything but our admittedly passionate ideas. A place where we can be honest — and you can, too, without fear of being censored or attacked.

That last bit is causing problems lately. Our honesty has often been getting us, not support and advice and community, but personal — and often hurtful — attacks. We are called "elitist" with such regularity that it's become a caricature. Sometimes our commenters are attacked by other commenters, which at worst becomes an ugly east/west or working mama/at-home mama showdown.

What we're going to do is this: start enforcing our community standards. No personal attacks will be left published, even if the comment is half-helpful.  Arguments among commenters will not be tolerated, unless they are civil and constructive. There is never — ever — a reason to tell another parent she is being a bad parent. As they say in therapy, label the behavior, not the person. And even then! Let's please not label! If someone comes here for advice, give it in love, or keep your thoughts to yourself.

If there are volunteers to help moderate the community, please leave a comment to this post and we'll get in touch.

Announcing: the urbanMamas community section

Late last year, we worked long and hard to update the site, snazz it up a little and make it easier to manage.  As always, we welcome your feedback.  It's an improvement, to be sure, but it's not perfect.

Now, we are pleased to announce another new little doodad, the urbanMamas community.  We want this to serve as a real forum section, where there can be a more fluid conversation with one another. Thank you to all of you who are already using it!  This will be an area less moderated than our main site.   And, the urbanMamas community section is intended to replace the uM childcare forum and the uM exchange.  We'll be archiving those forums shortly and rendering them inactive.

Take it for a spin, let us know what you think.

Blurry Fonts? Do this!

We just wanted to thank everyone again for all of the great feedback on our site redesign.  After some investigation, it looks like the blurry font is not an issue with the font, but perhaps something that can easily be fixed by adjusting your Internet Explorer browser setting and/or your computer appearance setting.  Have you been avoiding the site because the blurry fonts have been straining your eyes?  Well, hopefully this will do the trick. If it doesn't? Please let us know!

For Internet Explorer users, try this first:

Click on “Tool
2. Click “Internet

2. Click “Advanced” Tabs.
Multimedia, Uncheckthe “Always Use ClearType

4. Click OK
5. Close and Restart Internet Explorer

For all others, try this:

Windows Vista: Control Panel > Personalization > Window Color and
Appearance > Effects: "Use the following method to smooth edges of
screen fonts"

Windows XP: Control Panel > Display > Appearance > Effects: "Use
the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts"

urbanMamas Category Redux

As you all are aware, we are not perfect especially when it comes to assigning categories to the urbanMamas post. That's not a category cloud to the left. Oh no, that's a storm!  It's a bit embarrassing and we are ready to nip it in the bud. Now that the Website has a new look, we would like to clean house and start decluttering the categories. The problem is, we are overwhelmed.  As with any tedious task, we don't know where to start.  We keep procrastinating, and putting it off for another day. Maybe this is where you can help, what are your top 10 parenting categories? What do you search for when you come to urbanMamas? Suggestions?

Ta-da! A new look for urbanMamas

Have you noticed some of us have been a bit distant lately? We miss you, and it's not just the work of parenting that we love, it's because we've been spending lots of hours on… this. Ta-da! The new urbanMamas logo and web site design went live this evening thanks to the logo design work of Linda Diteman and the web design work of Blue Mouse Monkey.  We know there are plenty of bugs to work out. If you find one, email us with deets. We'll do our best to respond and fix the problems.

In the meantime, please do let us know what you think. We told the designers that we wanted an earthy, simple look — and then they asked us to define our community here in words. These are some of our responses:

  • respectful, inclusive, savvy, ecologically-conscious, velaphilic,
    hard-working, multi-tasking, supportive, communal, resourceful, fit,
  • busy, juggling, simplify, nonjudgmental
  • passionate, spirited, community-minded, creative, sustainable, bikey,
    committed, activist, exuberant, generous, inclusive, stripey

I think the design came out a lot of those things. One suggestion that "our logo should look good on a stripey t-shirt" was meant a bit as a joke, but I think it actually might! Later this week we'll offer new organic urbanMamas tees for sale. In the meantime, I already feel more peaceful and energized … and earthy … just looking at our site.

urbanMamas partnership with studio vitaminwaterZERO, KINK launches

Studio_zerologo_200 We here at urbanMamas are more about create-it-and-they-will-come than active outreach to the mama community in Portland, and when one of our readers came to us with an opportunity to reach a new audience — and participate in a fun campaign to help us train for the Hood-to-Coast, which many of us run each year — we were excited about the possibilities. So today, a joint effort with vitaminwater ZERO and KINK FM launches, and we'll steal the blurb from the web site: "studioZERO is a series of lifestyle workshops for all members of the
KINK and urbanMamas Hood to Coast teams and "home invasions" for the
founders of
and KINK fm morning show host Sheila Hamilton. Conducted by Portland
experts in fashion, fitness and nutrition, they're going to show you
how it can be done!"

While the ladies that founded urbanMamas are not product loyalists, we were thrilled with the chance to — we hope — invite more Portland mamas outside of our circle of influence to join our supportive community of parents and children. And we're hoping that you'll enjoy watching as we take advantage of the experts who will give us tips on how to better make use of our cross training and can assess our bike-to-work-and-farmer's market fashion choices. We'll have the opportunity to post videos to report on our training process, and recount some fun things with other aspects of our life-as-mamas, too.