Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recipe of the Week - Basic White Sauce

With a basic white sauce you can make macaroni and cheese, pasta alfredo, scalloped potatoes, anything that needs a nice creamy sauce.

White Sauce
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c all purpose flour
4 c milk [not non-fat]
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy bottom large skillet. Add onion and saute until soft and opaque. Stir in flour until damp. Add a bit more olive oil if the flour doesn't all get damp. Slowly whisk in milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.

For mac and cheese, remove sauce from heat and add 2 cups of shredded cheese. Stir until cheese all melts. Pour over cooked elbow pasta. Or pour over steamed broccoli and cauliflower for a delicious side-dish.

Notes - You can use whole, 2% or 1% milk, but not skim/non-fat milk because the sauce needs fat to mix with the flour and thicken up. If you want extra creamy sauce, use 2 c milk and 1 c heavy cream.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

family update 12/19/11 - complete!

hello mamas and friends ~

Delivery complete! In addition to EVERYTHING on the requested lists, we were able to add: lotion, conditioner, Kleenex, and a few holiday items (for both families); batteries, three board games, gloves, holiday gloves, used leap kid computers, and holiday books (for the girls). We raised $725 in cash and gift cards; plus whatever each mama spent who shopped on their own.

Thank you to everyone who contributed and shopped. My running friend Amanda, her son Oliver and my son Owen did the final shopping at Fred Meyer on Saturday. Where if you tell them you are helping another family are extremely helpful finding sales items, coupons, discounts and dealing with cash, gift cards, etc. The boys were very funny trying to pick out dolls and games for the girls. And had many opinions on what kind of black shoes a teenage boy would like.

In addition to the cityMama donations, other staff at PBOT, some of my mama friends and my mom contributed and shopped.

Thanks again for your generosity and thoughtfulness.

Happy Holidays.

Courtney co-chair, cityMamas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Quick Turkey Noodle Soup
Servings = 4
Time = 1/2 hr

4 c chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless turkey breasts
1 small onion
1 large carrot
2 large kale leaves
1/2 bag egg noodles
2 t salt, divided
1/4 t pepper
1/2 t dried thyme

1. Place turkey in a pyrex dish with lid. Microwave for 3 minutes. Flip turkey over and microwave for 3-5 minutes or until done through. Remove to cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces. It's OK if it's a little bit pink because you'll boil it more in the broth.
2. While turkey is cooking, bring broth to simmer over medium heat.
3. While broth is coming to simmer, dice the onion, peel and slice the carrot into 1/4 inch rounds, de-vein the kale and cut leaves into thin 2 inch strips.
3. Add veggies and turkey to broth. Add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and thyme. Simmer until carrots are fork tender.
4. While veggies are cooking bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the remaining 1 t salt and the egg noodles. Boil 8 minutes or until aldente.
5. Drain noodles and add to soup. Taste and adjust spices.

Notes - You can add any spices you like to this soup - sage and rosemary are good. Also, use any veggies you like - celery, canned corn, frozen peas, rutabaga, parsnip, etc.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review - The Autobiography of Santa Claus

As told by Jeff Guinn

This book is perfect to read with older kids as they transition from a deep belief in Santa to questioning his existence and finally to understanding why Christmas is magical even if the big guy doesn't visit your house.

The story chronicals Santa's life from being a little boy in 280 AD to when the magic starts to happen to meeting his wife and fellow gift givers. In the end everyone is left to still believe in Santa but also to understand that we all have to embody Santa's spirit because he can't be everywhere and he has to focus on the kids that really need him.

It's a long read, 280 pages, and too difficult for kids to read to themselves. It will be best enjoyed read out loud, cuddled under a blanket by a fire. I read the book to Jordan last year, when she was 8, and she loved it. She still thinks Santa is a possibility but understands that she has to be Santa too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Need some homemade gift ideas?

My sister asked me recently to help her think up some great holiday gifts on a dime.  I am a fan of crafting, though lately have very little time to make stuff.  But there are lots of ideas out there!  If you are looking to save a little money, want to give a homemade gift, make gifts with your kids, or just need a little crafting time, here are some ideas!

For younger children:

Homemade Felt Board

If you’re looking for a gift that keeps giving, for Christmas last year, I made felt boards for my kiddos.  They have played with them all year, and recently have been asking me to add more cut-outs.  So this year, I’m cutting out a few more sets for them.

Glue or double-stick tape felt to a sanded piece of wood (about 8” x 10” or whatever size you want) or thick foam core.  You could also glue magnets to a sheet of felt that is cut to fit inside of an old cookie sheet and use that.  We used wood, hot-glued felt around the front, and sealed up the seams with another piece of felt on the back.  We had lots of fun making shapes!  I ‘googled’ the shapes for the stories I wanted, printed them out, and cut them.  There are also lots of resources out there.  Here’s a great post on several variations of the homemade felt board, plus links to some templates.  http://best-toys-for-toddler.blogspot.com/2011/05/homemade-toys-for-toddlers-felt-board.html

Homemade I-spy jars
I’ve also seen these i-spy jars around and want to make them some time but haven’t done it yet.  Seems simple and fun!

Homemade Crayon shapes
I haven’t done this yet, but this blog has a good tutorial and pretty pictures!

Soap Crayons
One ice cube tray
Liquid food color
2 Tablespoon hot water for each crayon
1 cup soap flakes
Small bowl

1.   For each color, put two tablespoons of hot water and one cup of soap flakes into a bowl.
2.   Add as many drops of food color to the mixture as you wish. Stir the soap mixture until it thickens. This takes time, so be patient!
3.   Press spoonfuls of the first color of soap into the sections of the ice tray.
4.   Mix enough soap in other colors to fill the ice tray, following the above directions again.
5.   Let the soap crayons dry for one or two days. Gently bang the ice tray to loosen the crayons.
6.   Pack them in a box for gift-giving.

For a teens or adults:

Bath Bombs / Bath Fizzies
2 Tablespoons citric acid (you can get this at a pharmacy)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
3 Tablespoons coconut oil (or any other emollient oil like almond, avocado or
apricot kernel oil)
1/4 teaspoon fragrance oil
3-6 drops of food coloring (if desired)
Paper candy cups

1.  Place all of the dry ingredients (first 3) into a bowl and mix well.
2.  Place coconut oil into a small glass bowl and add fragrance and food coloring.
3.  Slowly add oil mixture into dry ingredients and mix well. Scoop up small amounts of the mixture and shape into 1" balls.
4.  Let the balls rest on a sheet of waxed paper for about 2 to 3 hours, then place each ball into a candy cup to let dry and harden for 24 to 48 hours.
5.  Store bombs in a closed, air-tight container. To use, drop 1 to 3 bombs into warm bath water.

Homemade Bath Salts
1 cup Epsom salts
Measuring cup
2 jars with lids
2 colored of liquid food color
1 pretty 8 oz. jar
A few drops of your favorite perfume
1/2 yard of ribbon, 1/2" to 1" wide

1.  To make these good smelling bath salts, first measure 1/2 cup of Epsom salt into each jar with a lid.
2.  Add 15 drops of food color to each jar, one color per jar and put on the lids. Shake the jars until the Epsom salts are dyed evenly.  If you want your colors to be darker, add more food color and shake again. Take off the lids and let the salts dry overnight.
3.  Now, make sure your pretty jar is all clean and dry. Then pour the dyed bath salts into the jar, alternating colors (you may want to get colors that go together well).
4.  Add a couple of drops of perfume to the bath salts, put on the lid and tie the jar with your pretty ribbon.

Homemade Refrigerator Magnets
Custom magnets are fun and easy to make. The local craft store (your new best friend when making gifts yourself) will have all the supplies you'll need: magnets, and clear or lightly colored flat circular glass stones. When you get the glass stones home step one is to customize them. You can do this by gluing a photo or scrap of pretty paper with fun designs on it to the flat side. With the stone customized and glue dried attach the magnet to the bottom. The persons most likely to enjoy these are grandparents (use photo of grandkids), tween or teen age girls (use photos of friends, hunky movie stars or funky designs).

Need more ideas?
If you google “homemade Christmas gifts”, there’s a lot out there.  Here are a few websites that have conveniently compiled many ideas.  There are so many to choose from – it’s fun to look through!  There’s something for everyone, but don’t get overwhelmed.  Also, some of these sites have lots of ads.  Sorry about that.

Happy crafting and happy holidays!  Share with us if you’ve found something you like.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

This time of year is so busy and it seems like there is alway a party or event that I'm cooking for. This week it's two work potlucks, mine and Jeremy's, and Saturday it's Jordan's piano recital and cookie party. Thankfully I like to cook. But even with my enjoyment of late night baking, it's hard to muster the energy to also make dinner. Here are my recipes for healthy meals during the holidays:

1. Never underestimate the sandwich. Whole wheat bread, deli turkey, cheese, lettuce, mustard - done, dinner. Or get fancy and use rye bread, cream cheese and sweet pickled beets with the turkey - trust me, it's delicious. Or sourdough with pesto and sundried tomatoes. Everyone can have what they want and it takes about 15 minutes.

2. Pasta, pasta, pasta. Cook penne pasta according to package, skipping the oil. Choose a really good pre-made spaghetti sauce - something thick with garlic and basil. Bring it to simmer and add pre-cut mushrooms and a small can sliced black olives. Mix sauce with cooked pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add salad-in-a-bag and you got dinner in about 20 min.

3. Quick Mexican. Saute a diced onion in olive oil. Add a can of drained corn and a can of drained black beans. Add a can of diced tomatoes and a small can of green Chiles. Sprinkle with cumin. Take a small bag of tortilla chips and crush into a grease rectangle glass baking dish. Scoop the corn/bean mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle with a couple handfuls of pre-shredded cheese. Bake at 350 F until the cheese melts. It takes about a half hour start to finish.

4. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. This winter standby is a go-to for us. Adult-up the grilled cheese by using gruyere instead of cheddar and adding deli-sliced ham. Have fun with the tomato soup toppers as well - we love gold fish crackers. This take about 10 minutes total.

5. Grilled Chicken Satay. Sounds way to fancy to be easy right? Wrong. Fire up the grill - yes, in the middle of winter. Cut the chicken in to 1-inch wide strips. Grill until done. While the chicken is grilling make some rice. Use a boil-in-a-bag or minute rice or other quick plain rice. Then, take 1/2 c of creamy peanut butter and add 1 T soy sauce, 1 T warm water, 1 tsp brown sugar and 2 T fresh chopped cilantro - whisk together. Taste and adjust to your desired sweet/salty preference. Adjust the saucy-ness by adding more water. Lay chicken over rice and top with a healthy dollop of peanut sauce. Total time is about 20 minutes.

When all else fails, order pizza. If you get thin crust, skip the greasy pepperoni and add a couple veggies, pizza is actually pretty good for you. Bottom line is to cut yourself some slack. All that matters is that people eat something somewhat healthy and hopefully spend a minutes together as well. If that means take-out, that's OK.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Great article on work/life balance

A few quotes from a great Huffington Post article:

Big surprise: "The study finds that being happy at work becomes less important to women's overall well-being when they have pre-school children, possibly because this changes working mothers' priorities."

"Or we could read it as evidence that women, in prioritizing child-rearing -- in other words, their personal lives -- identified that no matter how much you care about your job, work isn't the ultimate source of fulfillment, no matter how successful or powerful you are, not even for men, who were also included in Georgellis' study."

As HuffPost 50 editor Laura Rowley put it last week, "The company that can create jobs where a woman can work from 8:30 to 2:30 is going to win and win really big."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lunch this week

This week: same Monday - Wednesday : hummus (Barbur Foods), tabuli (Barbur Foods), Kashi Pita Crisps, olives, cucumbers, mandarins. Owen: snacky lunch two days, hot lunch and salad bar two days. I am volunteering at school Friday - not sure if bringing our lunches or having hot lunch, but we eat together. /courtney

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Quick Weeknight Stew
Servings = 4
Time = 30 min

2 T olive oil
1 1b stew meat
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 c chicken broth
2 large peeled carrots, sliced into rounds
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 red potatoes, cut into cubes
Handful button mushrooms
1/2 t salt

1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add meat, onion and garlic. Cook until meat is browned on all sides, but not done through.
2. In a shallow dish, mix the salt and pepper into the flour. Sprinkle over the meat, onions and garlic - stirring constantly until flour is all moist.
3. Slowly pour chicken broth over the meat mixture, stirring constantly.
4. Add veggies and remaining salt. Cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are soft; about 10 minutes.

Notes - You can use any veggies you like in the stew. You can add any spices you like - rosemary, thyme, sage, etc. or you can just go with salt and pepper.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

holiday organizing

from Beth @ NW Organizing Solutions. We will have regular posts from her in 2012 - I took this from her email newsletter/courtney.

The holidays will soon be here and perhaps you are starting to feel the stress. There may be more than 12 days until Christmas, but there is also a lot to get done. How can you get ready for this wonderful celebration without arriving at the big day frazzled and exhausted?

Consider the following 12 ways to help you have a wonderful, organized, and stress-free holiday.

  1. Free up your mind by carrying a small pad of paper with you to write down the many thoughts that will be circling in your head over the next few weeks. Capture on paper your things to do, groceries to buy, and places to go, so your mind can enjoy the season.
  2. Keep your decorating simple. You don’t have to decorate as if it was a show home. Remember it’s the people that are important not the decorations. As you unpack the decorations, sort and purge those that you haven’t used in years or those that don’t look as good as they used to. Showcase your best.
  3. Be choosy about what you put on your calendar. There are so many great activities at this time of year. Think about each opportunity and evaluate it by asking yourself if you will really enjoy it, if you will still be able to celebrate the holiday and if you will be spending time with the friends and family you want to be with? Don’t be afraid to say “no” to some events.
  4. Start working on your holiday cards early. The task of writing all the cards at once may seem overwhelming, so break it down into more manageable tasks. Try addressing the envelopes one day, writing a portion of the cards on another, and finishing on yet another.
  5. Create a gift list and keep it handy. List all the people you have to buy gifts for and some ideas you think they might like. Keep this with you wherever you go, because you never know when the perfect gift might present itself. Check off when you have purchased gifts for each person, so you can avoid doubling up or having to make that last minute trip for a forgotten gift.
  6. Carve out a time to do your baking. Once you decide what you want to make and determine the necessary ingredients and the amount of time needed, schedule baking time on your calendar. If you plan to do lots of baking, consider baking some items well in advance and freezing them.
  7. Set up a wrapping area. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Just by gathering paper, tape, scissors, gift tags and ribbons near a large flat surface, you will help make the process go smoothly. Remember that using gift bags and tissue paper is a quick and easy way to wrap a gift. Also consider using a few large rolls of paper with one color theme instead of many small rolls to eliminate waste and reduce the types of ribbons and cards needed.
  8. Update your Christmas card and address list. As cards arrive, record who you received them from and any address changes so you’ll be ready for next year. After the holidays are over, save only the photos or special notes and recycle the rest.
  9. Plan meals in advance. Make a list of all the food items you plan to serve and gather the needed recipes. Make a few simple meals ahead of time and freeze them. You won’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen, so you can have more time to enjoy the season and the people important to you.
  10. Keep a recycle and donate bin close by. Don’t let the catalogs, newsletters, gift wrap, and miscellaneous items take over your home. Once they have been read or used, drop them into the recycle or donate bin.
  11. Reach out to those less fortunate or those who may be hurting. It may be someone you know or someone you have never met, but you can still show them that someone cares. You don’t have to spend lots of money on a gift. A visit to someone who is lonely or a warm meal to someone who needs it is a wonderful gift.
  12. Take time to celebrate. Remember your Christmas doesn’t have to be picture perfect, but a time to celebrate the greatest gift of all and to enjoy the season with those who are important to you. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gus's Garden Blog - Kids in Gardens and Nature

Welcome to Gus's Garden blog about gardening with kids. Upcoming posts will discuss more gardening ideas and encounters in nature.



Laughing Planet: small salad with chicken ($5.50). Not enough so also got berry smoothie with soy milk ($5.75). /courtney

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Chicken Fried Rice
Servings = 6
Time = 45 min

1 1/2 cup rice
2 c water
1 T butter
2 boneless chicken breast halves
2 T olive oil
2 large carrots
2 eggs
3/4 c frozen peas
3 green onions
3 T soy sauce

1. In a soup pot, bring water and butter to boil; add rice, cover and reduce heat to low. When all water is absorbed, remove from heat and keep covered.
2. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Use kitchen shears to cut chicken into bite-sized piece and place in skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink.
3. While chicken is cooking, peel the carrots and then chop into 1/4-inch halfmoons. Dice green onions.
4. When chicken is done, scoop into a bowl. Add remaining one tablespoon olive oil to skillet and cook carrots until fork-tender, or desired consistency.
5. While carrots are cooking, crack eggs into a small dish and scramble with a fork. When the carrots are done, push the carrots to one half of the skillet and cook the eggs in the other half.
6. When the eggs are cooked, mix chicken, frozen peas and cooked rice with the carrots and eggs. Then stir in soy sauce and green onions. Taste and adjust soy sauce to desired saltiness.

Notes - To save some time you can use "minute" rice, pre-cooked chicken and pre-shredded carrots. To make healthier, use brown rice instead of white. In the picture, I served the fried rice with a side of roasted cauliflower sprinkled with cumin and sea salt.

What was for lunch?

Roast beef roll up with lettuce and soy chive cream cheese on whole wheat/ high fiber tortilla, baby carrots, apple slices, bubble water. Owen had "snacky" lunch since he ate his leftover bean and cheese quesadilla for breakfast (with pear slices and apple juice).

Monday, November 28, 2011

  • The Five Minute Mom’s Club

    I was given this book by a mama friend for my birthday. Irony is that it took me 6 weeks to get around to reading it!

    It is a quick read and a nice collection of ideas and resources. She does not claim to be an expert, and relies on other books, websites, moms, etc. for ideas and helpful tips.

Takeaways for me:

  • Use a mesh bag in the laundry for clothes you don’t want to put in the dryer.

  • Get back to the weekly dinner rotation: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Leftover Wednesday, Asian Thursday, Pizza/Movie Friday, etc.

  • My son is a visual and hands on learner – I should take pictures and work with him first on what he needs to do each day (brush teeth, make bed, etc.). Let him check them off a check list on his own (age 6 1/2).

  • My system of different laundry bins and washing laundry separately is still a good one. (son, workout, mama/daddy, kid sheets/bed, mama/daddy sheets/bed, kid bathroom, mama/daddy bathroom, kitchen towels/cloth napkins). Don’t all necessarily have separate bins, but are washed and sorted separately.

  • Validation for delegating and paying people if you can afford it. I have learned I do not like gardening or yard work - I paid someone to clean up my yard, plant some plants, clear out some plants, and clean my garden plot. She also gave me ideas for what to do next year (I will hire her!). Also able to afford someone to mow the yard twice a month and a heavy duty cleaning once a month. This is also forces us to clean up the yard, change/wash sheets, purge magazines, return library books, clear out the clutter at least once a month. Also a great excuse to go out to dinner as to not mess up the kitchen.

  • Just because clothes were worn once, does not necessarily mean they are dirty and need to be washed. I do this with my own clothes, but not my son’s.

  • My son can and should do more related to getting and making his own food and drinks. He loves to help (and is able), but too many things are out of reach or not in a good place. This will require some reorganization of the kitchen and fridge – so not done yet. Winter break maybe?

  • We need a better area/system for school papers and backpack unload and storage.

  • It should be important to you, not someone else. Frozen brown rice is fine for my family, otherwise we would not eat it since I burn it and frozen takes 3 minutes. Nightly everything from scratch and we all eat the same thing – not as important to me right now as all being at the table together eating similar things at least 4 nights a week (pizza/movie night included!).

  • Book is a bit dated as it relates to smart phones, electronic calendars, etc.

  • Also very car culture-centric.

What are your 5 minute tips?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

This is a great kid-friendly side dish. It's a fifty-year-old recipe - when my mom was a little girl, Rose and Clarence Anderson were such close friends of the family they became honorary aunt and uncle. Rose developed this recipe and it became a staple of the Thanksgiving meal. It's easy enough that kids can help make it and it's delicious enough that everyone will love it.

Rose Anderson’s Lime Jello Salad
Servings = 8 side servings
Time = 1 hour, plus chilling

2 small packages limeJjello
Hot water
1 small can crushed pineapple in juice
1 small container fine cottage cheese
1 small can condensed milk, chilled

1. Pour 1 ½ cup of water into a glass mixing bowl. Place in microwave and cook for 3 minutes.
2. While the water is heating up in the microwave, drain the juice from the pineapple but keep the juice in a dish (you will use both the juice and the pineapple chunks).
3. When the water is hot stir in jello, ½ cup of sugar and pineapple juice. Keep stirring until the jello is all dissolved.
4. Let the jello sit until soft, like pudding. It may take more than a ½ hour.
5. When the jello is soft scoop it into a medium-size glass or ceramic dish. Use the dish you want to serve the jello in.
6. Carefully stir into the jello:
a. Cottage cheese
b. Pineapple chunks
c. ½ cup of mayo
d. Prepared condensed milk
8. Cover and place jello salad in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Keeps up to 3 days.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

cityMamas Happy Hour

First cityMamas Happy Hour

Join us for a glass of wine (or two), some snacks and conversation.

date: Thursday, December 15
time: 4:30 - 6:30
location: Trees, in the PacWest Bldg.

Join for 15 minutes or the entire two hours. Hope to see you there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's for Lunch?

Laughing Planet, pears, cucumber. Southwestern Burrito: no pico, no cheese, no rice; light beans; add chicken, light vegan sour cream, and spinach, on whole wheat. $10!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Mtg Notes: Future of cityMamas, Books & Lunch

Thanks to all who attended our meeting today.  Lunch was hosted by DEEP, our parent organization (thank you!). We have an awesome group of Moms working at the City!  We know there are many more of you who could not attend today but who gave us great feedback and who will be a large and active part of cityMamas moving forward.
Thank you also to all of our Moms who filled out the survey!  The results were posted earlier this week - they can be found here.  Today, we shared a brief overview of what we heard, and discussed how we can together respond to your voices! 

Here's the short version of what we heard:
  • We mostly represent moms with young children (babies to early education), but there are many others with children from middle school and beyond.
  • We need to work more on outreach (Thank you to those who volunteered to help with this!  I will be contacting you soon...)
  • Although the timing and location of our meetings often do not work for everyone, the group collectively does not want to just be a "social network" via the web.  That said, many of you read our blog or Facebook posts, and want us to continue to expand our blog functions.
  • Our most popular meetings and topics of highest interest are: parental coaching, life coaching, organizing, home/work balance, finances, and health and food.
  • Many of you responded that you can help us!  If you haven't, but you are interested in outreach, blog posting, meeting organizing, or you-name-it, please contact us!  We'd love to hear from you.
Based on what we heard from you, for 2012, cityMamas would like to make the following changes:
  • We will start rotating format of meetings: once a quarter host a professional (e.g. Practical Parenting, life coach, organizing solutions, etc.); once a quarter host a social event; once a quarter have a mom-lead topic
  • According to the survey, happy hour was popular for a social event, so we’ll host the first one DECEMBER 15 at Trees, 4:30 to 6:30.  Come when you can, come for 15 minutes, stay for all two hours, come meet fellow CityMamas!
  • We’ll post more to the blog: book reviews, “what’s for lunch?”, mom testimonials, guest posts from our quarterly professionals, food topics – in addition to the weekly recipes.  A number of moms notified us that they want to help us with posts, so we will tap into you!  Please let us know if you want to write/post on a topic.  We will either allow you permissions to post, or you can send us your post/book review, etc.
  • ‘New Mom Buddies’ – a number of you responded that you want to help us with this.  We will get organized and hopefully start making this available starting in 2012.  This is not a full-time commitment!  Just a chance to give a new mom your support or listening ears.  Another mom offered to be support to moms who are in the throes of teenage years.  Let us know if you’d like to be a buddy!
  • If your location/schedule does not allow you to meet with the larger group, but you want to host a cityMamas gathering in your office (PDC, 1900 bldg, etc.), let us know!  We'll post it!  cityMamas is for you - if you have any ideas for how you want to be involved, contact us! 
 We had a great discussion during our meeting today.  Here's some of what we heard:
  • HR should have CityMamas info/flier for new moms as part of FMLA packet (Lora to check in with “outreach team” and new moms to weigh in on what would have helped them as new moms returning to work)
  • Can moms post that they are attending an event/activity outside the group (e.g. zoolights, children’s museum) to the blog?  (YES – email one of the co-chairs and they can post to blog)
  • Are there guidelines for pump rooms?  CityMamas should do draft something up (In the past, CM advocated for pump rooms in the Portland Building and gave some desired features – we could revive this list and contact Debbie?  DEEP?)
  • How much advocacy can CityMamas do? (co-chairs to check in with Debbie/DEEP)
  • Other ideas for meeting topics: 
    • Safety/Emergency preparedness (future mom-lead/city-lead topic?  Darcy will post her family’s experience/tips/what’s in her emergency kit)
    • “Mom tips” – e.g. technology or otherwise (future mom-lead topic?)
    • PTA/School involvement (future mom-lead topic or blog?)
    • "Family-friendly" city - how can we advocate for change via the Portland Plan or otherwise? (future mom-lead topic or blog?)
Moms - did I miss something?  Comment below...
Courtney also gave us a quick reminder about cityMamas' Fourth Annual Adopt-A-Family.  This is a great way to help families in need and to teach our children about giving to others.  If you are interested in giving this year, please look at the spread sheet and let Courtney know what you'd like to donate.  If you want to give cash, that is always welcome too.  Or, better yet, if your child is enrolled in a Portland Public School that uses Scrip, use it to purchase gift cards at participating stores, such as Fred Meyer and "double dip"!  Talk to Courtney for details.  

No December meeting - See you at Happy Hour!  Details/reminder to follow.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Talking Turkey

I don't know about other people's families, but on Thanksgiving day everyone in my family is in the kitchen helping prepare food. Grandma is making crust for the apple pie. My mom is stirring gravy. My husband is mashing potatoes. I'm forming rolls. Jordan, my daughter, is given small tasks so she feels included. And we are all chatting up a storm. Hearing stories from when Grandma was a little girl on the farm and having to catch the turkey. Laughing about how my mom went into labor with my brother the day after Thanksgiving. Telling Jordan about honorary "aunt" Rose who made up the Jell-o salad recipe that we still serve today more than 50 years later. By the time dinner hits the table, it is well infused with love and laughter and maybe a few tears.

But there is also the stress of the holiday meal. So, here are my tips on de-stressing and how to get kids, and husbands, involved:

1. Make sure everyone, men included, have a dish they are responsible for making. Mashed potatoes are a hard one screw up - peel, boil, mash, done. He can do the potatoes early on Thursday, then scoop them into a buttered crock pot, set on low - they'll stay warm and moist until dinner time. He doesn't even have to miss football.

2. Start early. Figure out what can be done before Thursday. The Saturday before I make cranberry sauce. Jordan helps by pouring water and sugar into the berries. She can also prep the jars and lids so they are ready for me to fill up. Wednesday, Jordan and I will make the Jell-o salad and the pumpkin pie. Jordan can measure ingredients and stir. Early Thursday morning, she and I will start the dough for the rolls. I've had Jordan kneading dough since she was five.

3. Don't make new stuff. Every year all the magazines and newspapers come out with new fangled green bean casserole recipes or stuffing or whathaveyou. Personally, I don't need the added stress of trying something new and hoping it works out. My family has been doing the exact same dishes since I can remember. The way we end up with new items is when a new person joins the family. My brother's wife's family tradition is a apple-cranberry pie. She brought one when they were dating, it was a big hit and is now part of the meal.

4. Laugh. Mistakes will happen. One year we peeled the potatoes into the garbage disposal and tried to run it. We broke the garbage disposal and water came flooding under the sink and all over the floor. As we were cleaning up the mess, the news was on and they were going over tips for the day. One of the tips - don't put potato peels down the garbage disposal. Right. Check. I've also burned the pie crust, used salt instead of sugar in the Jell-o, added vanilla instead of soy sauce to the green beans. Each time we just laugh about it and it makes a great story to tell in the kitchen the next holiday.

5. Keep kids busy. Have a couple crafts for kids to do. Every year Jordan makes the name tags for the place settings. This year she is also going to make a Thank You Sunflower. You take a small paper plate and color it all brown. Then you cut out petals from yellow construction paper. Each person writes what they are thankful for on the petals and tapes them to the paper plate. Note - I suggest choosing the crafts and going to the craft store two weekends before Thanksgiving, so it's not yet another thing you have to do at the holiday.

6. When all else fails, drink more wine.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with lots of friends, family, love and laughter and really, really good food! If you want any of our family's recipes, shoot me an email mindybrooks34@yahoo.com

Thursday 11/16: we will have lunch!

One last reminder about our meeting: Thursday, 11/16 @ 12:00 (Fir Creek, 3rd floor, PDX Bldg) to review our survey, talk about next year, sell books, review sponsor a family, etc.

Lunch will be provided! We will have a deli tray (make your own sandwiches), fruit salad, and cookies from Bridge City Cafe (formally Paradise). Thank you DEEP for the funds. See you there.

New "college prep"

As working families, we all realize the high cost of childcare. I thought you find this article interesting:


A study finds placing one child in day care costs as much as paying tuition at the University of Oregon

I like to think of high quality child care as "college prep!" Hypothetically this should make saving for college easy after kids have entered grade school, but typically costs continue for after school care and summer camps...


Check out our survey results!

We've posted our survey results online for everyone to review. We'll discuss them at our mtg on Thursday, but there's no need to review really. The important part is what we are planning next and how you'll be a part of it...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Book Review: Raising Cain

In being responsive to our October survey, I am posting a book review for Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.  I read this last February for a book club with some friends who have been reading parenting books.

It was a pretty sobering book:  the premise is that boys aren't receiving the "emotional literacy" to respond to the situations and changes that they face throughout boyhood - instead they often resort to stoicism or solitude.  The topics of sex, alcoholism, depression, suicide, and violence, for this mother-of-a-four-year-old-boy were a bit alarming.  I definitely became more self-aware and probably self-conscious of everyday interactions with my boy...  maybe even paranoid.  Unlike the other books I've read, Raising Cain didn't include a "how to" or guidance to prevent such horrible outcomes that were presented as case studies... until the very last chapter.  I am so glad I stuck with it, but WOW.  The book could have been more instructive throughout.  At least to prevent some hyperventilating.

The following is a great, quick book review from BookBrowse:  http://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm/book_number/188/raising-cain

For my matter-of-fact "Cliff Notes", I found the following chapters most helpful/enlightening:

  • Introduction - The authors give you a sneak peak at why they felt this book was important to write, so it gives some good context.
  • Chapter 1: The road not taken: turning boys away from their inner life.  - Here the authors make the case for boys' "emotional illiteracy" - the inability to express emotion without resorting to anger or withdrawal.  This is very interesting stuff, and it may make you see the world in a whole new light.
  • Chapter 2: Thorns among Roses: The struggle of young boys in early education.  - Here is the case that the early education is slanted against boys and boy behavior!  So, you moms of young preschool and early-education sons will find this fascinating and a little disturbing. 
  • Chapter 4: The culture of cruelty.  This focuses a lot on bullying and pressures specifically that boys face.  Again, very eye-opening.
  • Chapters 5 & 6:  Fathers and Sons, Mothers and Sons.  These two chapters explain the importance of male and female role models, and how they provide distinct and critical functions.
  • Chapter 12: What Boys Need.  AT LAST!  I read the entire book to get to this chapter.  Up until this point of the book, I kept thinking, what do I do???  So if you are really anxious, read this chapter.  
I'm over-simplifying, of course.  But what are book reviews for?  If anyone has unique concerns about discipline, anger, solitude, depression, romance, I would definitely advise consulting those chapters - and the whole book for that matter.  I admit that as a mom of a four-year old boy (at the time I read it), I was looking for a softer read about general boy behavior.  This book sure packs a punch.  And I'm glad it did.

One last thought I will leave about Raising Cain:  It encourages us to always give our sons a safe place to express emotion.  Expect and embrace the exuberance and activity that boys exude and then celebrate it!  For me, that provided a sense of relief and a nod that it's going to be okay.  (I was pregnant with boy#2 at the time I read this, and that's what I needed to know).

Has anyone else read this?  p.s.There's also a PBS documentary about Raising Cain, which after reading the book, I didn't think I had the stomach for - did anyone see it?

Thoughts to share?

What's for lunch - remote test

Leftover Monday - pork chops, mashed cauliflower, steamed broccoli and mustard caper sauce. /courtney

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fourth Annual cityMamas/Faith & Friends Sponsor a Family

It is the time of year when we come together and provide for others. This year we have two families and are again partnering with Friends & Faith. As in the past, after we have bought the requested items, we can supplement with new or gently used items (esp., books, toys, clothes, and jackets).

Please let me know what you are able to donate this year. (Email or phone call). If you would like to give cash, check or gift card to purchase a specific item or for the general shopping fund, that works too. Just be clear what you would like the money to be spent on.

I could use a co-chair for this effort. Please let me know if you can help. Shopping would be the weekend of December 16-18. Drop off is Monday, December 19.

Please have all items/money/gift cards to Courtney (9th floor, NE Corner, Portland Bldg.) or Mindy (7th floor, 1900 Bldg) by the end of the day on Wednesday, December 14.

Contact me directly and I can send you the spreadsheet with requested items. It was also sent out via email.

Thank you in advance for your time and generosity.

Courtney Duke
cityMamas, co-chair
Bureau of Transportation