Saturday, January 22, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Ravioli with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Servings = 4
Time = 25 min

1 18-oz package refrigerated spinach and cheese small ravioli
1 T olive oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1 8-oz package, pre-cut mushrooms
1 t all-purpose flour
1/2 c half-and-half
2 T warm water
2 T sun-dried tomato pesto (or chopped up sun-dried tomatoes)
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 c fresh Asiago cheese

• Heat olive oil in heavy skillet and saute onions until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until lightly browned.
• Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boil. Add ravioli and soft boil for 5 minutes.
• Stir flour into veggies. Add half-and-half, water, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir until sauce just thickens, then remove from heat.
• Divide ravioli into 4 bowls. Top with 1/2 c mushrooms sauce in each bowl and sprinkle with 1 T cheese

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ideas for 2011 Meetings?

Comment  and let us know!  Help shape the year of topics for 2011!

A list of collected ideas is below:

  • Part-time/flex-time rules, experiences, perhaps with COPPEA, DCTU, other unions and Moms who have some experiences navigating this world
  • Buddy system for New Moms
  • How to talk to your children about sex/stranger danger
  • How to talk to your children about bereavement/loss 
  • Kindergarten Roundup Update
Do any of these resonate with you?  Let us know!

Your CityMamas Co-chairs: Lora, Darcy & Courtney

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Chicken Curry
Serves 4
Time = 1 hr

1 c uncooked rice
4 small chicken breasts halves
Olive oil
1 1/4 t salt, divided
2 t garlic paste, divided
2 t ginger paste, divided
1 onion, diced
1 T butter
1/2 t whole cumin seeds
2 T cashew paste
1 c tomato puree
chili powder to taste
1 t paprika
2/3 c boiling water
1 t masala
1/2 c coconut milk

- Cook rice according to package directions; keep warm.
- Heat olive oil in skillet. Use kitchen shears to cut chicken into bit-sized pieces, sprinkle with 1/4 t salt, and cook, with 1 t each garlic paste and ginger paste, over medium-high heat until done. Transfer, with juices, to a large pot over medium-low heat.
- Add more olive oil to skillet and saute onions until golden. Add to pot with chicken.
- Add butter to skillet and cook cumin seeds until aromatic. Add to pot.
- To pot add all ingredients through masala. Taste and adjust spices.*
- Add coconut milk and bring to a soft boil. Cook to desired consistency. Serve rice.

*I am wimpy when it comes to spicy foods and can only handle a pinch chili powder. My husband likes his much more spicy. So, I split the curry before adding the chili powder and his gets 1/2 to 1 t.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January Meeting Notes: Spring Break and Summer Camps!

Special thanks to CityMamas Sandra Wood and Andrea Matthiessen and Portland Park &; Recreation's Joan Hallquist for facilitating today's discussion on Spring Break/Summer Camps!

Before our meeting, we quickly discussed events/film suggestions for the City's Women's History Month (March 2011) Planning Committee, which Lora had offered to take to the CityMamas group.  The theme is: Our Women Making History, and the focus will be on local women.  If you have any suggestions in this vein (especially with a local mom bend), want to know more, or have any questions, please email Lora.

Also, we are taking suggestions/recommendations for topics in the upcoming meetings!  Some suggestions to date have included:
  • Part-time/flex-time rules, experiences, perhaps with COPPEA, DCTU, other unions and Moms who have some experiences navigating this world
  • Buddy system for New Moms
  • How to talk to your children about sex/stranger danger
  • How to talk to your children about bereavement/loss 
  • Kindergarten Roundup Update
If any of these are at cost, would the group be willing to pay $5-10/per person?  Lora will check on DEEP funding.  Please send any other suggestions/recommendations to your co-chairs: Lora, Courtney, Darcy.

Joan, from Parks:
Portland Parks & Recreation offers many camps for all ages!  For the older kids (teenagers), Junior Leaders is a great way to build community service hours and learn to be a leader!  Also, they can enroll in becoming a Junior Lifeguard to teach swim classes.  Highly recommended by Joan, who is the mother to a teenage daughter herself.

Year-round opportunities are on all PPR "Sites" (go to the website above, click on "Find a Park" and click the "Community Center" button to find the site near you.  Other sites include Multnomah Art, Environmental Community Center, and Community Music Center.  Many of the camps also interface with OMSI, the zoo, and pools.

Note: The Portland Parks summer schedule comes out on the 2nd Monday in April (unfortunately, several months after many of the private camps open registration and consequently become full).  Call your specific site NOW if you are interested in a certain program, especially to find out if there's a wait list for pre-school, as these fill up the fastest.

Also, check out PPR's Summer Free-for-All, which includes concerts and movies in the park, the playground program, and the mobile program - all free, and many include lunches (for 18 and under - parents are on their own).

Sandra and Andrea: 
  • Plan your summer according to WHEN you need care (about 11 weeks of summer).  Figure out start and end dates, plus your vacation weeks.
  • Plan vacations along the traditional weeks (Sunday - Saturday), because most camps are offered Monday - Friday.  This way, you don't have to pay for camps that your child won't be attending completely.
  • Talk to other parents to coordinate your child's camp with friends (camp can be scarier than daycare or school - lots of unfamiliar faces, unfamiliar routine)
  • Consider if the camp has a before or after camp program since most camps are 9-3
  • In planning, think about commute
  • Give your kids a choice in camps?  Allow them to pick from choices of camps that are convenient to get to, in your budget, etc.  Ask if there were any camps from last year that they didn't like
  • Recommend scheduling your summer so that you have some "down time".  Don't overschedule vacations and camps every other week. 
  • Put together a matrix - chart your schedule.  This can include:
    • Location
    • Cost
    • Before/After care? Times
    • Available ages
    • What friends can also attend camp - carpool?
    • Phone number of camps
  • Register early.  (Andrea usually has the summer scheduled by end of March - which makes the earlier point about PPR's schedule coming out as late as April difficult.)
  • Start your child in camp as early as before kindergarten (that way, if they are still in daycare and don't like camp, they can always return to daycare - also a good transition before kindergarten)
  • Sandra organized a "girl camp" one week for her daughter and two other friends (3 kids seemed a manageable number).  Each parent took a day off to spend with the girls, and they had "unscheduled" time.  Less expensive and less scheduled.  Recommends this once in the summer.
  • CityKids will allow kids throughout summer, as long as they are under 6
  • Recommended, tried camps among Moms present:
  • Many of these camps are open now!  Check them out.
  • What about cost of camps?  Portland Parks ~ 150/week.  Other private camps can cost up to $300/week
  • MetroKids comes out with Summer Camp guide March 2010  - last year's edition is not online anymore :(
Other suggestions?  Comments?

September Meeting Notes: Panel Discussion with PPS and PTAs

Special thanks to our PTA moms: Amy and Rebecca and also to our Portland Public Schools reps: Judy Brennan and Nancy Hauth!

There are some great materials on this page, including a calendar of activities to do before kindergarten and also, the ABCs of Kindergarten.  Great stuff!

Question 1 – How to start getting involved at your school
  • Be very specific with the teacher about wanting to be involved
    • Be open to the teachers style and what that teacher needs; focus on learning achievement
    • Don’t be afraid to ask how to do things or asked to shadow a more experienced volunteer
  • You can volunteer for other things as well
    • Cafeteria or library – ask the office about what they need
    • Kindergarten round-up always needs volunteers and it will get you plugged in early
    • Room parent – kids love it!
  • PTA is a great place to be involved on committees and get to know other parents
    • Each school is different but PTA generally focuses on fundraising, e.g. events, books for library, support artists-in-residence – budges vary depending on the schools
    • Sometimes it’s best for committees if working parents pair up with stay-at-home parents to spread work and time
  • Site Council – governance with staff and teachers; there are usually 2-3 parent positions
  • Anecdotally, there is not much difference between working and non-working parents
  • Get to know parents of students in upper grades – helps you navigate the school, teachers, etc.
  • Keep yourself grounded in achievement and learning for your child and other children in the classroom
 Question 2 – Communicating with your child
  • If your teacher sends out weekly communications, then you can use that to ask lead-in questions of your child
    • You have to pretend you are the talk show host and they are the guest
    • Be open to teacher’s communication style
  • Facebook parents in the PTA or in your child’s class – get to know them
  • In Portland, the Parent Assist tool is being revamped and will be a good online tool
 Question 3 – What about before/after school care
  • Many schools have programs but you need to inquire early and often because space is limited
    • Ask about this at Kindergarten Round-Up
    • When you meet teachers, administrators or other parents ask them what questions you should be asking.
  • There are other programs, not specific to the school, that are good alternatives – YMCA is an example
  • Multnomah County Child Care Resource and Referral can help you find a good program
  • When you start interview programs for your child be “business-like” about it.  Figure out what you need most to make your schedule and life work and focus on those things.
 Question 4 – What is the best way to work with the principle
  • Always start with the teacher.
  • If you have worked with the teacher, send an email or letter to both the principle and teacher about what happened. 
    • Be diplomatic
    • Focus on the issue
    • Keep written communication for a record
  • The principle and/or vice principle is usually at the PTA meetings, so you can chat with them then
  • Don’t wait until you are really upset or until you have to say “We’ve been having trouble all year long.”  Address things right away so you can be level-headed and get it resolved before it becomes a big problem.
  • Try to act like your child is an employee and you are addressing a concern with their manager.  Don’t be in “mom mode”, be a business woman.
 Last words of advice
  • You are your child’s 1st teacher.  Be open with them and set a good example of how to deal with difficult or frustrating situations.
  • Give yourself credit – this is hard
  • Maintain a good sense of humor
  • Pick your battle wisely – think if this is really worth the anxiety
  • Always speak positively about school, tell your child about your good school experiences
  • Keep an open mind about the teacher – they may not be your favorite but they may be doing a great job teaching your child. 
  • Practice opening lunches before school starts (some kids have trouble with juice boxes, containers, etc.)
  • Remember that many teachers are also working parents

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Serves 8
Time = 1 hr

4 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/3 c low-fat milk
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 T olive oil
1 large egg
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1/4 t black pepper
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried basil
1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese
2 lb lean ground beef*
Cooking spray
4 c marinara sauce
4 hoagie rolls, split in half
Pre-shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Tear bread apart and place in a bowl. Pour milk over and let sit.
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft and opaque. Remove from heat and let cool.
Crack egg into a large glass bowl and beat with a fork. Add salt, pepper, thyme, basil and cheese - stir.
Stir in onions and garlic.
Add beef and bread to bowl. Use fingers to mix thoroughly, breaking up the bread.
Coat a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Form meatballs - 1 inch rounds - and place on cookie sheet. The meatballs can be nearly touching because they will shrink in the oven.
Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes or until lightly brown on top and juices are clear.
At the same time, heat marinara sauce on stove over medium heat.One serving equals half a hoagie roll with 3 meatballs, 1/4 c sauce and 1 T Mozzarella cheese.

Next Meeting: Thursday, 1/13

Next Meeting: Thursday, 1/13 @ 12:00 - 1:30
LOCATION CHANGE: Room 5A, 1900 Bldg.
Topic: Summer Camps - planning and ideas. Presented by Sandra Wood of BPS and Andrea Mathessien from Housing. They will start at 12:30. First half hour will be family update, holiday updates and ideas for next meeting(s). Bring your camp and meeting ideas. Hope to see you Thursday.