47 posts categorized "Neighborhood"

The Door-to-Door Saleperson

October 14, 2013

It was a no-school/no-work day in our family.  It was a great day to sleep in and catch up on more intensive chores like digging out the depths from under the bed.  I had unearthed a lot of dust with all the tidying and I was just starting my detailed vacuum job when I heard a knock on our door.

In our new house in a new neighborhood, we get a lot more knocks on our door than before.  We have a lot more foot traffic.  When I opened the door, a youngish man in a tie stood with a slip of paper with the statement "We will Deep Clean & Dry Foam one room - NO CHARGE".  He explained he was showcasing the Kirby, that he wanted to demonstrate what it could do.  

He caught me at the right moment, just as I had been sweating for a couple of hours already cleaning and vacuuming, just as I was lamenting the condition of our carpet in the entryway and just as I was getting ready to ask a neighbor to borrow (again) her industrial carpet shampoo machine to deep clean the entryway.  When this man, with his trainee, offered a free deep clean in 30 minutes, no obligation to buy, I was sold.

Continue reading "The Door-to-Door Saleperson" »

Halloween: stay in your 'hood or commute to another?

October 15, 2012

On our neighborhood yahoo-group, I recently asked the question: "how many trick-or-treaters should we plan for?"  As I am one year new to this neighborhood, I didn't want to be left with a million bags of extra Twix (what will YOU give out this year?).  Goodness knows I still have a few baskets of candy from last year.

Schools might ban costumes, but many families will still head out into the night to enjoy the fright of the ghouls and gobblins begging for candy.  A neighborhood long-timer emailed: "do your kids a favor, take them to the other nearby neighborhoods to enjoy the decorations and sights!"  Last year, our first in our new neighborhood, indeed we went out-of-bounds.  We went to the neighborhood about a mile away (maybe less), which is well-known to be the place to go for any holiday.  Every single home on that street invests countless hours of planning and concocting the most elaborate displays.  Many, many families commute to that area to gawk.  Lines from the front door trail to the street, just to see first-hand the great work of those residents.  It was stressful.

To me?  The crowds are not worth it.  What's wrong with our own neighborhood?  So what if our houses aren't as big or decked out?  Residents who have been around for a few years say: "no one has come by in the past three years" or "a bowl of my jumbo Snickers were untouched all night".

There's still something to be said for staying in your own neighborhood, though, right?  In the name of getting to know others, in the name of community building, in the name of building momentum?

I just asked the kids, "Do you want to stay in our neighborhood to trick or treat this year?"  They didn't respond right away.  They thought hard about it, but they ended up saying: "No."

Your take?

International Walk & Bike to School Day - 2012

September 27, 2012

It is right around the corner, next week.  I thought I'd put a little plug out there to get us thinking about how we'll be getting to school next Wednesday.  It's International Walk & Bike to School Day.   20120927_100943

Last week at our local city council meeting, the mayor proclaimed October 3, 2012 "Walk and Roll to School Day 2012" in Alameda, and my family was there to acknowledge and receive the proclamation.  As part of my "thank you" comments, I highlighted the top three reasons I believe so whole-heartedly in walking and rolling to school.

  1. It creates community.  The moment we set foot out the door and head toward school, we see neighbors, wave "hellos", and exchange "good mornings."  In my 1+ year in my new neighborhood, I have never met as many families as I did in the first 5 days of walking to school.
  2. Increased physical activity can improve concentration.  Even when I have to sit through long meetings, leaving the room to do 10 jumping jacks can help me return with more focus.  A walk or bike ride to school can have the same effect on our kids.
  3. It reduces the number of vehicles at the school and reduces risk of accidents.  Cars, glare from the sun, kids walking (sometimes darting), opening doors: it all gives me the heebie-jeebies.  YIKES!

No doubt, many of our schools have traditions and ongoing walk & bike efforts.  But, what if we don't? Where to start?

Continue reading "International Walk & Bike to School Day - 2012" »

Etiquette on Multi-Use Paths

June 22, 2012

Now that summer is out and outdoor recreating is in (not that it was ever "out"), we find multi-use paths packed with walkers, runners, bikers, starting-to-bikers, toddlers, roller-bladers, skateboarders, dogs, squirrels, birds, and many other users.  There are clusters of middle- and high-schoolers, there are amblers with headphones on, there are darting animals, children.  Bodies travel at different paces - fast, slow, medium, stopped.  On a warm weekend day, the multi-use path can be an obstacle course.

Even the widest of paths aren't as wide as a car lane (11-12 feet across).  More typically, the path might be 7 or 8 feet across, just enough for two way cross traffic in single file.  Collisions and brushes with others can be frequent if you are walking/riding/skuuting 2+ abreast.  Weaving in and out of bodies takes skill, whether on foot or wheels.

How do we encourage the kids to "share the path" responsibly, reasonable?  My tips include:

  • walk/ride to the right, always.
  • 2+ abreast is ok, so long as there is no oncoming traffic
  • "single file!" is what I utter loudly when we spot oncoming traffic, and my kids immediately pull ahead of me and I drop to the rear position, and we will go in single file to allow enough width for passing
  • use the bell!  whether on a scooter, bike, jogger: we ring, ring from a distance behind and call "on your left" as we pass
  • ride straight, as much as possible, unless you are on a super-wide path.  
  • for the learning pedalers, learning scooters: walk/ride behind, to be able to call out and ask the little ones ahead to stop, pull to the side, or ride as straight as possible.
  • be defensive.  as with driving, we have to anticipate the unexpected: a dog on a long leash speeding ahead crosswise along the path, leash obstructing; a toddler darting out from one side of the path to the other, maybe chasing a leaf, squirrel, bird; an early bike-rider swerving considerably as you try to overtake/pass.

With a few close calls in just the past couple of days, I thought I'd collect your thoughts on how we can manage the multi-use paths safely, responsibly, and teach our kids to do the same?

Summer Street Fairs: sometimes just a pain?

June 04, 2012

A sign of the summer approaching is when you start to see event listings of street fairs or other al fresca fetes occuring on a more regular basis.  Among my favorites in Portland include the Mississippi Street Fair and the Hawthorne Street Fair.  With the advent of Portland's Sunday Parkways, now in its fifth year (wahoo!), some street fairs coincide with the neighborhood's street closure to corroborate the energy and excitement of a street fair coupled with a Sunday Parkway route.

In our new neighborhoods in the East Bay Area, one way we've been started to get to know our new environs is to spend some time at some of our local street fairs.  In the past month, we've gone to the East Bay Bike Coalition's Happy Hour (a street party in Old Oakland celebrating Bike to Work Day), the 12th Annual Park Street Spring Festival (right in our own Alameda's downtown), and First Friday at Jack London Square (a collection of performances, food vendors, artisans, pop-up boutiques on the waterfront, an event that coincides with Oakland's First Friday Art Murmur).

What I love about street fairs is seeing the people in my neighborhood, other families, shop owners, performers, food purveyors.  I love to support craft producers; I love to mingle with others in a dense, closed-off area, let the kids do a little exploring on their own.  The energy is real: other people in the crowd welcome meeting and making a new friend; there is an air of community spirit and comaraderie.  

There are, however, some trends in our street fair experiences that I do not enjoy.  Perhaps it takes us a while to mobilize, leave the house, and make it out to said street fair.  Once there, kids and adults alike might be irritatingly hungry.  Perhaps I haven't packed enough snack food to hold us over to find a proper meal or to wait the long lines at the food vendors.  The food vendor selection might not offer something everyone might want, and there might be complaints as a result.  There may or may not be easily accessible restrooms for our toddler who - when he has to pee - HAS TO GO right then and there.  Perhaps there are just too many people, that results in taking forever to make decisions on what to eat, what booth to visit, or where to situate.  There might be no water fountain in plain sight to refill the water bottles we emptied on the hot bike ride over.  The sun might be going down and suddenly our tank tops leave us shivering with goosebumps on our arms.

Street fairs are a summer right of passage, they are a beacon of the warm days to come, they are a sign of the long days of sunlight that are here.  We all love them.  But: do some of us hate them, too?

Seeking 100% Smoke Free Apartment

October 25, 2011

An urbanMama recently emailed:

Our family will be moving to the Portland Metro area and are keen to rent an apartment initially. We understand that Oregon passed a law last year stating that landlords need to disclose their smoking policies in writing. We also understand that just because an apartment complex is advertising itself as a "non-smoking" one, doesn't mean it is enforced. If any readers are currently living in an apartment complex which is advertised as being 100% smoke free and can vouch for it, please comment below. We are open to living anywhere in the Portland area which has access to public transportation. Thank you for your help!

Landmark high school reforms passes, closing Marshall, changing Jefferson

October 13, 2010

In a 4-3 decision last night, the Portland Public School board voted to close the three academies at the Marshall High School campus, a group of Gates Foundation-funded experimental small schools, at the end of the 2010-11 school year. The school had been in decline before the switch to academies, and in recent years, "falling enrollment and rising operating costs" -- along with parents who were generally desperate to get their children in stronger "community schools," as the PPS buzzword goes -- led to the near-inevitable decision. The students in those clusters will go to Cleveland, Franklin and Madison; the teachers will be distributed; the building will be closed.

Another decision, to change Jefferson into a "powerful focus school that offers students the opportunity to earn college credits even as they complete high school," is equally expected but far less understood (and voted for with a strong 6-1 margin). Northeast neighborhood parents, left with two options, Grant and a long-declining Jefferson, often chose Grant; the privileged students went to Lincoln; Jefferson was in dire need of a return to its relatively strong identity in the 80s and 90s as a performing arts school. 

Benson was already "saved," and Grant, despite early fears by parents and community members, was never really in danger (I submit that the idea was grandstanding by Carole Smith meant to soften the blow of her eventual decision; but that's entirely an unfounded conspiracy theory :). In light of our initial discussion when the first plan was released, what do you think? Is this the best option to fix an awkward-if-not-totally-broken school system? Could equity result if everything goes according to plan? How will your family be affected?

What's the best neighborhood for trick or treatin'?

October 10, 2010

With our kids a bit older now, they are looking for adventure.  We love to trick or treat in our own neighborhood, get the chance to see and visit with neighbors.  Our of our kids, though, has asked if we could celebrate Halloween in another neighborhood, maybe where all the houses, almost uniformly, are decked out to the nines, complete with zombies that awaken as you approach the door or with a gaggle of witches sitting on the porch, stirring a pot of their homemade brew.  We're looking for an area that has great spirit, that is friendly and safe (of course), and that has lots of kids and families sauntering about.  Do you have a recommendation?  What would you consider to be the "best neighborhood" for trick or treating?

Playing in the neighborhood, unsupervised?

August 13, 2010

As I type, the kids are outside, playing.  I am working on the kitchen counter, and I have no visual on the kids. But, I can hear them shooting and calling to each other.  So, even if I don't have a visual on them, I feel ok about them playing out front, where I can still hear them.

Then, one runs in and says, "Mama, can we ride our bikes around the block?"  I say, "OK, just stay on the sidewalk, watch for the [one] driveway, and always stay together.  Go once around and come check in."  With my older kids now approaching 10 and 7, I think they are more than old enough to start exploring on their own.  When I was their age, I'd be out playing in the neighborhood all afternoon with no check-ins with my parents.

At a friend's house earlier in the summer, our kids were invited by the other kid (age 10) to go two blocks to the neighborhood park.  His dad gave him a timer, set it for 15 minutes, and asked him to come back when the timer went off.  I thought that was a novel idea.  I just might use that trick.

Do you have older children, starting to experiment with walking to the neighbor's house a block away, going to the park with a friend or sibling, riding bikes around the block?  What sort of parameters do you lay out for them?  How old were the kids when you started to let them venture out on their own?

1st Thursday, Last Thursday, 3rd Thursday, 1st Friday - what about the kids?

April 29, 2010

When we moved to Portland, we heard a lot about the First Thirsday gallery walk, where studios open late, pour wine, host live music, and welcome people flowing from one spot to the next in the Pearl District.  Sounded cool.  Later, we also found out about Last Thursday art walk on Alberta.  In fact, I think we had an urbanMamas gathering once, way back when, meeting up at Vita Cafe for some eats before meandering out along NE Alberta.  Second Thursday Music walk on N. Mississippi Ave has come and gone, but sometimes I see faves like Black Wagon opening up their doors late for art installations, snacks, music, and fun on some Second Thursdays.  Well, now, there's a Third Thursday in downtown Kenton, also featuring food, wine, specials, neighbors and fun.  And, a First Friday in the Central Eastside?

What I have always wanted to know: how kid-friendly is all of this?  Have you done one of these art/music walks with the kids?  Did they love it?  Didn't love it?  Perhaps you've made it a date night to enjoy without the kids?  Share thoughts and experiences - we've been wondering this for a while!

Kindergarten roundups: The big giant fat decision

January 26, 2010

An urbanPapa friend and I engaged in a lively philosophical debate via chat yesterday evening while I should have been cooking dinner. At issue, the looming opening of school choice transfer applications for kindergarteners -- this Friday, January 29, at 8 a.m. schools throughout the district will begin accepting them, as well as registration forms for neighborhood kindergarteners. Should he apply for transfer, or just accept the fate his home purchase a decade or more ago had set for him?

I told him I thought Atkinson, his neighborhood choice, was a good one; he wondered about the test scores there, which were not what you'd call a "home run." Atkinson got a grade of "satisfactory" in the District's report cards [pdf link] (you can find other Oregon district report cards, with data on individual schools, here.) He asked what was partly a rhetorical question: "do test scores matter?" 

My perspective was this: test scores are a snapshot that tells you how well third, fourth and fifth graders in your district take tests. It has much to do with demographics; students who are minorities typically do worse, as do those for whom English is a second language. Yes, we know this, he said, but white students in Atkinson weren't doing great, either. This, I said, was again a snapshot of demographics; poorer students do worse, on average. This tells you nothing more than "the majority students in my school are not, on average, students with the high level of parent involvement that guarantees better results on standardized tests." It is not a reflection, I said, on teacher competence or whether or not your child will thrive there. It's just a demographic snapshot. Unless your neighborhood school is a war zone (I'm not saying we don't have any of those in Portland, just unless), your risk of a bad educational experience is equally great at a great neighborhood school, a poor neighborhood school, a charter school, or a private school.

Roundup_kindergarten Sidebar: Kindergarten roundups [pdf link] actually started last week: you've missed the dates for Arleta and Ainsworth -- sorry! Atkinson was this morning at 9:30 a.m., but has another at 6 p.m. Feb 4. Astor is tonight at 6:30 p.m. Forest Park and Rieke are tomorrow at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. The rest start next week. If you decide you love a school other than your neighborhood school, you must list it as first choice to have a chance in the lottery. Also: if there is choice between half-day and full-day kindergarten in your school, you will want to turn your application in right at 8 a.m. if you want the full-day option; they fill up fast. We have a growing resource in our schools forum, which provides at least a little information and a chance to connect with parents for each school in the PPS, many private schools, and those from some surrounding suburbs and towns. Last year, we talked about kindergarten roundups and school choice, although most of the comments there do pertain strictly to 2009.

He countered, saying, "there is no question that educational reputation affects people's lives. I can't say it affects whether they are happy, but it does affect what kind of jobs they get. For example, top competitive positions at corps and in government are filled predominantly by people from about 5 or 10 universities. Ivy League plus a few others. Shouldn't I give him that opportunity if it's there for me?" He acknowledged that stating this was a departure for him; he'd just as soon give a screed on how owning land should be illegal.

Yes, I said, but there are so many unknowns for a kindergartener, and the test results of kids who are now in fourth grade -- who won't interact with your son at all -- are hardly likely to influence this much.

Continue reading "Kindergarten roundups: The big giant fat decision" »

urbanMamas talk Housing & Parks with Nick Fish

July 14, 2009

3605804627_ca3aef479a_m Way back in Spring 2008, we met with city council candidates to talk about the city's policies for families.  We even hosted a mayoral forum to raise consciousness about family issues and hear what candidates were planning to make Portland a family forward city. 

You helped us to create a casual list of priorities that we called "the mamagenda."  We have not forgotten!  Some of the items on that list remain important to us, like: smoke-free parks; affordable, near-work child care; quality after-school programs; support for walking & biking to schools; healthy school lunches at PPS; paid family leave for city employees, and the list (of course) goes on.  Some of these issues have seen progress, others not so much.  It's been a year since all that talk and action.  What's on your list now?  Has it changed?  Is it the same? 

A few urbanMamas have the opportunity to sit down with Commissioner Nick Fish later this week to discuss ways he may be able to help us further a mamagenda.  Commish FIsh (heh!  We just had to ...  it rhymes!) oversees the Portland Housing Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation.  Are there issues within these two realms that are on the forefront for you and your families?

[Thx to Derek Coetzee & FLickr CC for the perfect city hall image]

Sunday Parkways 2009: How was it for you?

June 23, 2009

This year's Father's Day coincided with the second annual Sunday Parkways, the first of three.  We started the day by hosting a little pre-ride gathering where families from the neighborhood & beyond came by to check out one another's bike gear, test it out, and let the older kids ride solo on a one block stretch of the parkways near our house.  For me, the most magnificent aspect of this year's Sunday Parkways is how completely comfortable I felt letting our girls, ages 5 and 8, bike alongside their friends, aged 6 to 9, well ahead of us.  We had few worries about oncoming motor vehiclesIMG_1977.  They didn't want to stop!  They kept pedaling and pedaling and pedaling along.   The crowds were not too thick, so they were able to maneuver quite easily.  The route was relatively flat and intersected with just a few major intersections, where the kids knew to stop and wait for direction from the officers directing traffic.  Really - they would have ridden the entire 7.5 mile loop again if we'd've let them!  It was a great exercise in freedom and independence on our neighborhood streets.  It felt wonderful to see the community taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Apparently, with all our riding around, we missed plenty of action, from music and free tune-ups to bike play parks and more.  Check out the complete coverage on bikeportland.org.

Zinemama in a comment on another thread mused:

I'd love to hear other folks reactions to the Parkways. It felt a lot shorter than last year and a lot less crowded. It was fun, but for me some of the excitement about last year's event was missing. Maybe we were there at the wrong time of day (earlier in the day)?

Did you walk, bike, or play at last weekend's Sunday Parkways?  How was your experience?  If you weren't able to make it, there are still two more Sunday Parkways planned: one on July 19th in Northeast Portland and one on August 16th in Southeast Portland.  And, please, consider volunteering for Sunday Parkways.  The event's success relies on the contribution of many, many volunteers.

Veggie Growing 101: Starting Your Kitchen Garden in Portland

April 08, 2009

My neighbor, Camellia Nieh, is a great gardener -- I often admire her skills from my window and have tasted many of her cherry tomatoes and other goodies. She offered to write an introduction to vegetable gardening in Portland, and I said, yes please!

Camellias_gardenAs weather begins to warm, Portland gardeners begin to anticipate the joys of the growing seasons. Waking up on a sunny morning, strolling outside, and harvesting a basket of fresh tomatoes, basil, spinach, and chives for your morning omelet. Sending the kids out into the yard to graze on sugar snap peas, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes when they clamor for a snack. Browsing a bounty of ripening cucumbers, eggplants, and summer squash as you decide on a vegetable for dinner. Snipping a bowlful of baby greens to bring to a dinner party and garnishing it with edible gem marigolds, day lilies, and sweet violets.

The gardening buzz is everywhere. You’ve heard about the Obamas’ breaking ground for their vegetable garden at the white house, and about the resurgent victory garden movement. You know all the reasons. There’s the statistic about how our average meal travels 1500 miles to reach our plates, and the fact that switching to a local diet is equivalent to driving about 1000 miles less per year. And you’re painfully aware that the average American consumes a pound of pesticides a year, and that we don’t yet know how that chemical load will affect our kids’ growing bodies.

But if you’ve never grown your own food before, perhaps you’re not sure where to start. Not to worry. Growing edibles in Portland is easier than wrangling a wild banana slug. There are tons of resources in this town to help you get started, many of them inexpensive or free.

Continue reading "Veggie Growing 101: Starting Your Kitchen Garden in Portland" »

Considering a move to Lake Oswego/West Linn

March 29, 2009

urbanMamas are always generous with their honest perspectives and first-hand experiences.  An urbanMama is relocating to Portland, and their family is considering moving to West Linn and Lake Oswego.  Do you live in either of these cities?  Do you know other families there?  Please share!

My husband has accepted a job offer in Portland and we'll be moving the family from the midwest this summer.  My older child will be starting kindergarten this fall. We visited Portland briefly recently to get a sense of possible neighborhoods, and we plan to return in another month for our serious house hunting trip.  We're more interested in moving to the suburbs, particularly those with great schools as we currently live in a college town with fantastic public schools.  Right now our top choices include West Linn and Lake Oswego; West Linn and Lake Oswego on the top of the list primarily because of the reputation of the public schools, the smaller class sizes, low crime rate, proximity to the city, and the pretty neighborhoods. I am concerned about some comments I read on a city-data.com forum about Lake Oswego, comments that suggest it is full of pretentious, snobby, extremely wealthy and materialistic people.  We're pretty solid middle class; we don't wear designer clothing and our kids don't get fancy stuff.  We could comfortably afford only a small percentage of the houses we see listed in Lake Oswego.  Would it be a mistake for us to move there?  Would our kids feel left out or feel pressured about getting designer clothing, going on expensive skiing trips, etc.?  Or is what I have read just a generalization that greatly distorts the image of the "average" Lake Oswego family?

Choosing a neighborhood, Part II: Schools in the Inner City

March 17, 2009

About a year ago, we started talking about one mama's dilemma about choosing a neighborhood and whether she ought to consider moving to an "established" school district.  We have recently received an email from an urbanMama who wants to continue the conversation: 

I know I have plenty of time, my son won't be going to kindergarten until Fall 2010 but I've started to research schools in Portland because we're finally shopping for a house.  Yay!  Everyone seems to be pointing me in the direction of the westside or magnet/transfer option schools. Do I have to move to a suburb or apply for the risky transfer option in order to get into a good school?  I love the close proximity of everything in NE and SE but I don't want to trade my son's education for a cool, hip neighborhood.  But on the other hand, I'm not sure if I could handle living in the SW suburbs.  What are your experiences with schools in the inner city versus those of you living in SW Portland and beyond?

Safe Neighborhood for Single Mom

October 20, 2008

If you're a single mom in Portland, how much does neighborhood choice matter?  We recently received this question from a soon-to-be-single mama.  Any advice for her?

I will very soon be a single mom to my beautiful 2 year old daughter. And i am seeking advice as to what neighborhoods you know of that are safe and secure and have great schools. I currently live in NE Portland but outside of a good school district. I work in the Pearl district, 5 days a week.I would love to get feedback from other moms and if you know of a house or apartment for rent please let me know.

Surprise!?? There are lots of kindergarteners in Portland

October 07, 2008


In today's Oregonian, the blaring headline: "Finally, a bumper crop of Portland kindergarteners ... The growing enrollment is welcome, albeit unexpected." In 2008, the Portland Public School district enrolled 3,950 kindergarteners, a 4% increase over 2007 (all metropolitan-area kindergartens grew but Gresham and Lake Oswego). There are all kinds of ways to utilize these numbers; kindergarten enrollment is used to forecast enrollment for all grades (that's obvious!), and it seems to be an indicator of population growth. Due to relatively infrequent census surveys, often localities like Portland are left in a year like '08 just not knowing where the people are.

Silly PPS. I know people here on urbanMamas and elsewhere in the Portland blogosphere have been commenting on the growing population for years. From packed prenatal yoga classes to waiting lists for preschool spots to crowding at Piccolo Park: we've been noticing that Portland is a great place to have babies, and lots of people are doing so.

If I was doing the forecasting, I would have already picked this year to be a growth year, and promised growth in kindergartens for the next 10 years to come. I think 2010 will be a particularly huge one! What do you see in your crystal ball (also known as your neighborhood coffee shop mid-morning)?

Tomorrow: Int'l Walk & Bike to School Day


International Walk and Bike to School day is coming up on October 8th, this Wednesday. This is a one-time, state-wide event in which many schools participate. 90 schools throughout Oregon are signed up to promote healthy lifestyles by walking and biking to school. For more information on the program, see the Walk + Bike web site.

Are you in?

Choosing a neighborhood: Would you move to an "established" school district?

September 16, 2008

It's a great time to be talking about schools, now that tons of our kids have gone back to their respective schools or are starting school for the first time.  Just wanted to remind everyone that the Schools Forum is alive and kickin'.  Go on: rant and/or rave about your school.  Email us if you don't see your school listed, and we'll get it up there.

Now.  We have a mama who recently emailed who wants your thoughts on moving into desirable PPS neighborhoods or staying put?  What say you, mamas?

If I am a mama of a 15 month old and while I know school is not in our immediate future I spend a lot of time thinking (worrying) about what school she will attend. We currently live in NE Portland in the Woodlawn school district. We are wanting to move within the next year to a bigger home. My big question is this: Do we stay in our NE neighborhood and rely on the transfer, charter, magnet system to find a suitable school or do we move into a coveted neighborhood (Aladema-Grant)? It seems like there are many options in the PPS system but I don't know reliable those options are.  Do any of you have experience with the lottery system?  If you had to move anyway would you move to a "better" hood so that your kids could go to the neighborhood school?

Have you made plans for NNO 2008?

July 16, 2008

This year marks the 25th Anniversary for National Night Out, an evening designed to build community and:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

In years past, neighorhoods throughout Portland have celebrated National Night Out by organizing block parties, ice cream socials at the park, bike rides, group walks and just getting out and meeting our neighbors.

This just in from my neighborhood association:

The deadline to register your National Night Out party is coming up quickly! National Night Out parties can be planned for anytime between August 2nd and August 10th, although the great majority of the parties are planned for National Night Out itself on Tuesday, August 5th this year (always the first Tuesday in August). The website link for NNO information, party ideas and registration is www.portlandonline.com/oni/nno or you call register by phone at 503-823-4064. The deadline to register is July 22nd.

What are your plans for National Night Out?  What neighborhood activities have you participated in the past?  We're dying to come with great new ways to meet new neighbors: what are your suggestions?  A BBQ in the park?  Maybe a potluck in the neighbor's front yard?  A lemonade stand!  A neighborhood jam session on the sidewalk?  A dance party? 

Let the Neighborhood Garage Sales Begin!

May 22, 2008

GaragesalepublicdomainthumbEvery Spring I look forward to the Annual Laurelhurst Garage Sale (this year it's Sat 6.14), and every Fall I pine for the Irvington one.  At least half of our toys, gear, and kid clothing are from one or the other of these mammoth neighborhood sales.  And to think I've never once made it to the mama of all the collective garage sales, the Catlin Gable Rummage Sale at the EXPO (!!) center (mark yer calendars for 10.30 to 11.2 this year!).  I did try once, but with a sleeping infant in the backseat and a parking fee, I hightailed it back home without even stopping the car.  In retrospect not the best move!  Just think of the deals I missed. 

Do you love these neighborhood-wide sales, too?  Find your self planning your calendar around them (who me)?  I know I am narrowing my options by obsessing about just these two.  There must be others!  Do tell - I promise not to snatch up all the good stuff at 8 AM!

What's it like: NW Portland near Chapman?

April 17, 2008

Oh, the search for the right neighborhood can be exciting but tough!  An urbanMama emails:

We've recently moved to Portland and we've been in the midst of house hunting. We had our hearts set on the Sellwood/Westmoreland/Eastmoreland area, based on the things we'd heard from other parents about the area and our own impressions of the place. But we just found a wonderful house in the NW right near Chapman school off of 23rd that is perfect for us. Though it's obviously pretty darn different than Sellwood, we do like the amazing offerings all within walking distance or easy streetcar access in that area, and we've heard good things about that school cluster. But I'm a little concerned that we'll be the very rare family with small kids in that neighborhood.  Does anyone else live around there or have thoughts about moving there as a growing family?

Pining over someplace else

April 07, 2008

We all know that Portland's da bomb.  We wouldn't be here if it weren't.  There are lots of us who have shared that we come from many different places.  Recently, though, I've been thinking.... 

We were away for spring break to explore all that is Von Trapp (some of you know that I have two little girls obsessed with the Sound of Music).  During our time away from the States, we started to wonder: "Could we be better suited in a place outside the US?"  I found myself wanting to live in a place where farmer's markets were commonplace and the way-of-doing-business, not where farmer's markets needed subsidizing, organizing, planning, or all the rest.  I found myself wanting to live in a place where walking or cycling were the primary modes of transportation, not where cars were the dominant vehicle.  I found myself wanting to live in a place where space was efficient, not where space was just another thing to fill with all our goods.

Don't get me wrong.  We love Portland.  But, we just got this feeling that we just can't seem to shake.

Do you ever have this feeling?  The feeling of wanting to live somewhere other than Portland, OR?  The feeling of pining over someplace else?  Perhaps places outside of America?  Perhaps where you have lived before?  Perhaps to be closer to family?  Have you lived "abroad"? 

Or, do you know for certain that Portland is the place for you and your family?

How far is too far?

February 25, 2008

When it comes to distance from your house, how far is too far?  Where is your school in relation to your home?  How big of a factor is it in deciding the best school for your child(ren)?  How far is too far?

I have a question for you and your readers.  We just moved here (a week ago!) and we're in the midst of a search for a Montessori preschool for my three year old son to start in the fall. We're also house hunting for a place close-in. So in other words, we have no idea where we'll be living in the fall, but we need to pick a preschool now since it seems most schools' deadlines are this or next week.  My question is, how far have other parents travelled to make the daily preschool trek?  Is it insane to choose a preschool in SE and end up living in NW? Or vice versa? I'm kind of anxious about all this (hence this 3am email), so any advice would be much appreciated!

Do you get a lot of knocks on your door?

February 13, 2008

The other night, at 8:37pm, there was an unexpected knock on the door.  Though it is not unusual for us to have visitors come in and out of our front door, it is a bit unusual for someone to come by completely unannounced.  I got a bit nervous and asked my husband to get the door.  Turns out, it was someone campaigning for global warming.  My husband had to question a few times to make sure that she was against global warming and not "for" it.

In our three years at this house, we have been solicited 3 times.  Once, someone came to our yard while we were playing, he made small talk, asked about the kids, then eventually sat us down and tried to sell us this whole "educational reading kit", to which I kindly declined.  When he was frustrated that he couldn't make a sale, he said, "Are you telling me that you don't care about your children's educational advancement?"  I said, "No.  I am telling you that I would like you to leave now."

Once, on a very cold evening, I had a visit from an OSPIRG representative.  While I can recongize that it takes a committed person to canvass neighborhoods door-to-door and make connections person-to-person, we don't usually respond well to soliciations at the door.  I said I'd look up OSPIRG and take a look at supporting.  I think I may have signed a petition of theirs.

The third time, there was a neighborhood fellow who came to the door, asking us if we needed the lawn mowed or any other housework done.  We had just done a lot of housework that weekend, so I was not lying when I said that we weren't needing help at that time.  Before I was able to close the door, the neighborhood fellow started saying, "I just wanted to let you know that there are a lot of crazy people out there...."  And, I thanked him for his time and thoughts and said, "Good day."

Just moments ago, I received an email from our neighborhood association, indicating that there was some fraudulent fundraising afoot.  People have been soliciting funds, door-to-door, in a nearby neighborhood, raising money for the local high school or community center.  The email also indicated that these groups were not fundraising door-to-door, and that these people were probably looking to prey on the homes where they were soliciting.

So, we are wondering: Do you receive a lot of unexpected knocks on your door?  Are they friends or neighbors?  Do you often encounter door-to-door solicitors in your neighborhood?  Have you encountered fraudulent fundraising in your neighborhood?

Can you offer insight on the Kenton 'hood?

January 07, 2008

We are sure many of us can relate to moving into undiscovered territory.  Can you lend your insight to a mama considering a move into Kenton in North Portland?

We're looking at moving to the Kenton neighborhood with our 2 and 3 year old but have some reservations about the neighborhood. Any advice/info/insight from Mom's who already live there would be great. Coming from the highly walkable and community oriented Alberta Arts makes it seem like a big transition.

What's in your safety talk?

October 31, 2007

On a day like today, there will be kids of all ages on the streets of all neighborhoods.  When I was growing up, I was indoctrinated with the idea that there were syringes in my Halloween candy.  All our items needed to be screened by adults first.  Then, there was the year that bad things got so bad in the candy batches and the year that the teenagers were not only throwing eggs but also broken glass bottles -- that I was only allowed to go to "Safe Streets", the area in the neighborhood where all households were somehow certified "safe" and cops were at every corner.  From that year on, I recall that I was only allowed to go to "Safe Streets" for our trick or treating.

Our added twist to Halloween this year in Portland is that Jack McClellan is in our midst, and he has re-launched his website, posting the best places to watch girls in Portland.

What things do you tell your children so they know what is "safe" and what is not?  What precautions do you take for yourselves to be most aware of the community around you?  We have had some great suggestions on a previous conversation, "Knowing is Half the Battle", but we would love to hear more...

How to ease transition for tots?

October 23, 2007

Haven't many of us been in Cindy's shoes?  Can you make suggestions for how she can help make a smooth transition with their toddler?

We will be heading up to Portland from San Francisco in three weeks with our 2.5 year old son and this is our first time moving long distance with a child. Can any mamas out there share advice on how to move with your toddler? What is the best way to help him cope with all the changes, from the physical move itself (boxes everywhere, packing away his things) to saying goodbye to friends, school and life as he knows it? What wisdom do you have on transitioning upon arrival in the City of Roses?

It's going to be difficult for all of us...we're very sad about leaving, but are super excited for Portland to become our home. It seems that many mamas on the list have been in our shoes before. Please, please, please share your experiences, resources on getting settled, etc. THANKS!

Finding home with Market Data

September 04, 2007

One our way home last night, I was humored by an article about a data warehouse of info that crunches statistics and boils your neighbors down to 66 distinct types of households.  Though a bit bothered by how millions of Americans can be categorized into just 66 little boxes, I was curious.  From WalkScores to Zestimates, finding your new neighborhood can be done in the midle of the night but just punching in your zip code.  In our North Portland zip code, we have:

  • "American Dreams", Urban Uptowners -- ethnically diverse, multilingual neighborhoods, middle-aged immigrants, middle-class, mostly with kids.  They go sailing, go ice skating, read Ebony and the Sunday paper, and drive Lexus IS300s.
  • "City Roots" Urban Cores -- lower-income retirees, typically living in older homes and duplexes they've owned for years, often widows and widowers living on fixed incomes and maintaining low-key lifestyles.  They watch daytime TV, travel to South America, read Essence Magazine, watch Face the Nation, and drive Hyundai Accents.
  • "Close-in Couples" Midtown Mix -- predominantly older, African-American couples living in older homes in the urban neighborhoods of mid-sized metros. High school educated and empty nesting, these 55-year-old-plus residents typically live in older city neighborhoods, enjoying secure and comfortable retirements.  They shop at Macy's, eat at Denny's, read the Sunday newspaper, watch People's Court TV, and drive Suzuki Grand Vitara SUVs.
  • "Money and Brains" Uptown Urban -- high incomes, advanced degrees and sophisticated tastes to match their credentials. Many of these city dwellers--predominantly white with a high concentration of Asian Americans--are married couples with few children who live in fashionable homes on small, manicured lots. They shop at Nordstrom, eat at California Pizza Kitchen, read the Sunday newspaper, and drive Mercedez Benz E class.
  • "Multi-Culti Mosaic" Midtown Mix -- a mixed populace of younger Hispanic, Asian and African-American singles and families. With nearly a quarter of the residents foreign born, this segment is a mecca for first-generation Americans who are striving to improve their lower-middle-class status.  They go to professional basketball games, buy Spanish/Latin music, read Jet Magazine, watch Jerry Springer TV and drive Nissan Sentras.

Comical?  Curious?  Accurate?  Not?  Who are the people in your neighborhood?  Just enter your zip code and see.

Kindergarten: Raise your hand if you're scared!

August 31, 2007

If you haven't noticed my eldest son, Everett, is starting kindergarten in 10 days, well, you probably have noticed. I'm terrified and excited and nervous and thrilled all at once. A friend a few neighborhoods over emailed, hoping to get together with some other prospective kindergarteners at Abernethy to quell her son's fears -- but Everett's going to Grout! I'd love to meet some to-be-newbies in my own neck of the woods. I wonder how many other mamas are equally nerve-wracked.

Is your oldest child starting kindergarten this fall? Or are you a recent transplant with a child entering a new school where you know next to no one? Or are you the parent of a transfer student? Please pipe up if you'd like to meet other like-minded fellow mamas and kiddos; where is your little one starting school this year?

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.

It's raining plums!

August 03, 2007

Fruit is ripening on the trees of Portland and dropping on the ground in buckets.  We're going plummy!  Through my neighborhood yahoo group, I found about: the Neighborhood Fruit Tree Project and they are hosting Harvesting Parties that begin this Saturday!  You can sign up for a Harvesting Party in your area.  They'll be picking in a different part of town every Saturday through mid-September. As a Harvesting Volunteer you can take home free fruit and help make fresh food available to those who need it most...A portion of each harvest will be donated to a local food pantry.

To sign up, please call 503-939-4914, or send an email to fruitproject@gmail.com and you will receive the address for our meeting site and other details when you sign up.

Harvesting Party Schedule:

  • Saturday, August 4th, 10am - 1pm, Inner SE Portland
  • Saturday, August 11, 10am - 1pm, N/NE Portland
  • Saturday, August 18th, 10am - 1pm, Outer SE Lents Neighborhood
  • Saturday, August 25th, Time & Location TBA
  • Saturday, September 1st, Time & Location TBA
  • Saturday, September 8st, Time & Locaiton TBA

For more information, contact Katy Kolker at the Portland Fruit Tree Project: fruitproject@gmail.com or 503 939 4914.

"Empowering  neighbors to share in the bounty and care of urban fruit trees."

Summer Fun is Here!

July 12, 2007

Not only has it been over 100 degrees outside to remind us that it's *summertime* in Portland, but the all the other summer fun is now in full effect.  We've updated the urbanMamas calendar with as much info as possible, the highlights being offerings from Portland Parks & Rec:

  • Summer Concert Series - of course! - you can be guaranteed to find a free summer concert almost every single night of the week in the next two months. 
  • Pool fun days feature games, contests, music, "Itty Bitty Beach Parties", and Dive-In movies.
  • Movies in the Park run from July 20th through August 31st on Friday and Saturdays (and a few Thursdays in between!)
  • Rec 'n' Roll - the kids love this big green bus that rolls from park to park, sets up shop with all sorts of crafts and games.  Lots of neighborhood parks have drop in games and fun throughout the summer, from now until August 16th.
  • Wading Pools are officially open for business and will definitely be filled on "hot weather days" (days over 70 degrees. ...  that's today!)

Participate in an urbanFamily Focus Group

June 04, 2007

An urbanMama Nancy is mom to 4-year old Jake, and they live in the Pearl.  A group in their neighborhood are working to establish a community center, affordable family housing and childcare center in the River District. The group that is focused on housing (Central City Concern) would like to talk with parents who live or work downtown and earn a particular income (see below).   Do you live or work downtown and meet the below criteria?  Here is a chance to have your voices heard as part of designing a new community facility in the core of the city.
An exciting new housing opportunity for families is being developed in Portland's River District. Central City Concern, a non-profit organization, is planning to build a high rise apartment building with family size units that will make downtown living affordable for working families. The building will hopefully include a child care center, community center, and other family-oriented amenities.
We are interested in hearing from parents who live or work downtown, to get your ideas about how we can design the housing to best meet the needs of families. We are holding two focus groups in June, and we would like to invite you to participate. We will provide free child care and dinner, as well as a $25 gift certificate to Fred Meyer and 4 TriMet all-zone tickets to thank you for your help.
At the focus groups, parents will have an opportunity to share their thoughts about what kinds of design features and amenities will make this housing project work for urban families. We will have an activity for kids ages 8 and above to get their input, as well as child care for younger children.
In order to qualify to participate in the focus group, you must:
    • Have children living with you
    • Live and/or work in Portland's central city (downtown, inner east-side, and inner northwest neighborhoods) 
    • Income qualify: We ask that participating households have an annual income less than:
    • family of 2 

      family of 3

      family of 4

      family of 5

      family of 6

      family of 7







There will be two focus groups:
  • Monday, June 18th from 6:30-7:30 for families who work in the central city
  • Wednesday, June 20th from 6:30-7:30 for families who live in the central city
To sign up, or if you have additional questions, please contact Ben Gates, Central City Concern at 503-525 8483, ext 213 or bgates@centralcityconcern.org

Portland in a Day

Emily is considering relocating to Portland.  What are some of your suggestions to get the best taste of Portland in a short visit?  She asks:

My family (me, husband, two boys aged 2 and 1) are visiting Portland next week to decide if we will relocate, and where we might like to live.  If you had one week in town, where would you visit?  We want to see some touristy stuff, but mostly get a feeling for the different areas/neighborhoods and what it would be like to live there with kids.  We will be staying in the Hawthorne area near Laurelhurst Park, but want to travel all over (even suburbs) within the confines of naps and 8pm bedtimes. :)  Parks for toddlers, strong coffee, sushi and brewpubs are of special interest.  I am hoping to really get a taste of the local Portland flavor.

Franciscan Montessori Earth School Families – Where to Live?

May 14, 2007

Living close to a specific school is the choice for this urbanMama, but she needs some feedback on neighborhoods close to the school.  Here's her dilemma.  Can you help?

We’re thinking of enrolling our kids in the Franciscan Montessori Earth School, and we’re also thinking of buying a bigger house. But we’re having trouble figuring out where to buy if we’re planning to send our kids to school in outer SE. (We're trying to minimize the issue of the long drive.) We DON’T want to live in suburbia, and we DO want an established neighborhood that’s homey with safe, quiet streets, older houses. We love Eastmoreland, but it’s so expensive. We love Concordia, but it seems like that would be a bear of a drive to FMES. Are there any Franciscan families out there that can recommend their neighborhoods, that don’t mind their drive?  (We’re also a work from home family with lots of kids, so the other issue is we need a minimum of four bedrooms, maybe more.) All input welcome!

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!" »

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!

City Versus Suburbia Conundrum

March 07, 2007

We've had discussions on whether you would recommend your neighborhood and feeling a sense of community in Portland, but here's a different side to this question.  Melanie is wondering if you can find of a bit of suburbia in the city.  She writes:

Although my husband and I have lived all over Portland we always chose to stay close to the urban center, but after having kids we headed out to the burbs for lots of reasons: spacious affordable housing, wanted our kids to have other neighborhood kids to grow up with, good schools, very close neighborhood parks, strong community feel (at least in our Burb).  However, we miss living in close for all the usual reasons.  We've been batting around moving back to close in SE, but I'm wondering if I'm having a case of the "grass is always greener syndrome..."  I can give up the big house, I'd LOVE to give up the car a little bit more, but I'm wondering, do those of you that live in urban neighborhoods feel like you have a strong sense of community?  Do you know most of your neighbors, do you see your friends and neighbors at the grocery store, park, coffee shop etc?  Are there kids your kids' ages on your street?  Do most of the neighborhood kids go to the local public school or will you send them off to Central Catholic (or private school of choice) when they're older?  Those are the things I'm worried about leaving behind and would love to hear other mamas experiences with raising their families in the city.

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.

You should live WHERE?

December 07, 2006

You should live HERE. Yeah, you. Yeah, HERE. We've received email from the producers of a new show for HGTV:

We're currently producing a show for Home and Garden Television (HGTV) called "You Should Live Here," which is a "live life to the fullest" breakdown of where it's great to live in the US. Portland was recently named the Best City to Have a Baby, so we're looking to feature expecting parents who have really taken advantage of all that Portland has to offer. We're very interested in finding people to feature on the show. We'd love to see what couples are doing to get their homes ready, the funky shops they find their kids clothing and any other unique groups or activities they are apart of.

“You Should Live Here,” a brand new one-hour special airing on Home and Garden Television (HGTV), explores some of the best cities to live in the U.S. and the people who know best – you! This spring, this exciting new special kicks off with a fresh look at where Americans are choosing to live and play and a fun interactive poll for viewers at home to make their own decisions.

So, what’s the best city to live in? It all depends on what you’re looking for! Whether you’re looking for the best city to start your own business or the best city for extreme sports, we’ve got you covered with answers that just might surprise you. We’ve got over 20 cities to see and dozens of locals who would love to show you around. Along the way, we’ll be revealing HGTV’s viewers choices for their favorite city attributes, building to our Most Livable City!

urbanMamas represent! We know y'all know what's up. What are the top things to share with HGTV to show 'em what makes our fair Portland the Best City to Have a Baby?

Would You Recommend Your 'Nabe?

May 22, 2006

If you knew of a family relocating to the Portland area looking for a bike- and pedestrian- friendly neighborhood, would you suggest your neighborhood?  Donna writes:

We are a German/American family with 3 kids currently living in the UK. Kids are 8, 6 and 2 years old. Husband is German and I am the American. I have been away from the US for 15 years now. We are going to be moving to Portland in August 2006. We are looking for the small community suburb near Portland (or even in it). A place where one could cycle to local shops and the kids can walk to school. Does anyone have good tips on where to look in the Portland and surrounding villages/towns? Would love feedback. Your forum is excellent! Also looking for any German families living in Portland with young children.

Why Portland Rocks

March 30, 2006

A recent comment made on the We are Family post made me think not only about the fact that most of the mamas and papas reading this have probably moved here within the past 10 years, but it also started me questioning why I came back to this great hometown of mine.  As a former reporter in both southern Oregon and the Portland area, I got a unique perspective on why people keep moving here, and why so many Oregonians choose to stay. Since there are quite a few families I know who are thinking about moving here and reading this blog, I thought I'd share my top five reasons to raise my family in Portland:

1. The most abundant variety of great beer and wine anywhere on earth. This is the main reason we haven't yet packed up and moved to Paris.

2. The beach is only an hour away, the mountain is 45 minutes away, and the desert is just about three hours away - whatever we're in the mood for, it's close.

3.  Sydney's, Laurelwood and Peanut Butter & Ellie's. Places like this don't exist in most cities, and my pals across the globe are envious. Not to mention, we can take our son to almost any restaurant here (even Olea) and it's ok.

4. Here, everyone is family. We're here for you, always, and we know that you will be there for us when the time comes. It's the Portland way.

5. We get our Christmas tree from our nearby neighbor's tree farm, our organic fruits and veggies from different neighbors' farms down the street, our flowers from the local nursery down the street, and fresh seafood from local fisherman (aka, my dad and his buddies). It's not hard to go local here - it's just a way of life.

The list could stretch for miles, including public transportation, the amount of parks per capita, etc. but that's my top five. Let's help encourage other families thinking about moving here to join our big happy family! What's your top five for being here?

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!

Relocating - Seeking Advice

February 05, 2006

Hi--I currently live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Looks like we may be relocating to Portland in the next couple months.  I have 2 young boys, 4 1/2 and 22 months.  I am seeking information about places to live, cost of houses, etc.  We currently live in a city neighborhood in Milwaukee that is inhabited by lots of young families, teachers, and city workers.  We have access to lots of good parks and shopping.  I would like to find the same in Portland.  The city seems great and we are really excited.  I am happy to find this website and am looking forward to meeting other moms in the area.  If someone would take the time to respond to me I would really appreciate it!  I'm wondering, most specifically, what it's going to set us back to own an older 3 BR home in a pleasant area. 

OH, and schools of course.  That's important too.  I understand that schools don't start until 5K there, is that right?  We have 4K here.

Thanks so much!!!