Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ladybug Theatre

It's been the usual week of fun adventures - Tuesday at the Childrens' Museum, where this time we decided to play with clay and sculpt fun shapes and animals, and both kids put on a singing, dancing, and drumming show on the theatre stage. (Liesl sang the goodnight song from The Sound of Music - doing her best to live up to her name. :) )

Today we tried something new again, a puppet show put on by the Ladybug Theatre company, called Little Red Riding Hood and Baby Bear. The children loved it - they laughed and laughed and so did I - a good combination of adult and childish jokes, a great little dialogue between the narrator and the puppets, just the right length of time and interactivity for little ones. Really fun. We plan to go back again.

I've been thinking a lot about how much richer and more interesting our children's lives have become since we moved here. Instead of going to the same daycare every day, to play with the same toys and children, we go out and about to music shows, puppets, museums, zoos, hikes, etc.  I think there's a lot more 'scope for the imagination', and I've started seeing it reflected in some of Sebastian's artwork and in his story-telling. Of course, they don't have friends, and we meet up with other families only occasionally, so they are getting very much less practice in learning to play, cooperate, and resolve conflicts with their peers.  They were both very steeped in that constant give-and-take during daycare and school.  Hopefully we'll find ways to regain some of that very important social interaction in the near future, but for now I'm happy to be exploring so many new and fun things with them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weekend fun

On Saturday morning we showed Steve one of our favorite hikes, along the Balch Creek trail in Forest Park.  It's the perfect length for Sebastian, and Liesl loves to run and "hide" behind trees on the downhill part of the loop.  After naps, we went swimming at the Southwest Community Center pool.  The pool was amazing - a waterslide, fountains, kiddie wading area - and Liesl in particular was totally thrilled.  And then on Sunday was the Portland International Auto show.  They both loved climbing in and out of all the cars and trucks, watching the Jeeps do their obstacle course, and racing down the bouncy kid slide that was set up in one corner.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


This morning we went on a little hike from Burnside up a steep set of stairs (264! we counted! thanks, Bompy) into Washington Park. We crowed when we were finally higher than a big apartment building we could see. We ran around and under big trees. Liesl whacked clumps of dirt and leaves and trees with a big stick.  We balanced on stone walls and ducked under bike rack "tunnels".  At the end, Seb said, "I love hiking. It's my favorite thing to do with you, mommy."  I think the move to Portland will feel entirely worth it to me if he can sustain that feeling for his whole life. :)

During his post-lunch, pre-nap writers workshop, he chose to draw a picture of our morning hike. You can see the tall building, the stairs, the trail, the crazy trees, and the #20 bus that runs along Burnside.

We also visited the Portland Central Library and happened upon a storytime for toddlers. Liesl happily jumped right into the action - amazing how different she is from Sebastian, who never wanted to join a crowd of children, never would have walked up to a teacher to introduce himself, and really hasn't ever been into a library storytime.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


We spent the morning at OMSI, the science museum. They have a science playground section for younger kids and both Sebastian and Liesl loved it. There was an area for exploring animal habitats and tracks, an area with blocks and wooden trucks, a water play section, a sandbox, and an art studio. We had a terrific time.
We have established a good weekday routine -- a morning adventure exploring the city, returning home for lunch and naps, and then staying in or nearby in the late afternoon.  After naptime we go to the playground or on the local trails, draw and paint, read stories, do puzzles, play with dolls and animal friends and trucks and cars, and (most importantly) we cook dinner and bake. Yesterday was a special treat: peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips.
Thanks, aunt Trishie, for the awesome new paints!!
Seb driving the minivan filled with friends. Liesl reading to them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

a musical puppet show

We tried out something new today - a musical puppet show called Red Yarn, at a cafe, in company with some other moms we met through  This was our second time with the group, called New-to-Portland moms, which was started just this month by another recent Portland transplant.  So far, it's been fun. We miss our friends and I miss having adult conversations, and we obviously have at least one thing in common with these people.

The man performing was good - he played the guitar and sang, and got the children up and dancing and singing along, and he mesmerized them with the puppet theatre.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

to the dogs...

We went to the dogs this weekend - the Rose City Annual Dog Show, at the Expo Center on the north side of Portland. It was moderately fun for us, and really fascinating for the kids. They've both become somewhat fascinated by dogs recently, spurred in part by their love of Joe and Mary's dog Holly, and they were very excited about the prospect of the dog show.  There were definitely parts of the show that made you remember the movie satire Best in Show, but other parts were really charming. For one, everyone let our kids touch their dogs. And the agility competition, where dogs race around an obstacle course jumping over gates, running through tunnels, weaving in and out of poles, and running up and down little hills, was really fun to watch.

Seb loved the German shepherds, Liesl loved the pugs and boxers, and I loved the Malamutes.

In other news, the weather was gorgeous - sunny, crisp, clear - and we went out hiking at least a little bit every day. Today we walked a portion of the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park and the children had a grand time "hiding" from me. Liesl is getting stronger and faster and she can make it a good distance now before getting tired.
Seb helping Liesl down a steep, rocky part. He is such an amazing and sweet big brother sometimes.

Surprise! said mommy, hiding behind a tree.

Friday, January 18, 2013

roller skating

On Wednesday I took the kids roller skating at Oaks Amusement Park - in the summer, there are carousel and bumper cars and assorted other rides, but in the winter they just open up their big indoor space for preschool skating. It was really fun, for all of us. Seb and Liesl were both very game to try it out and kept standing up and moving forward after their many spills. I got skates too, and spun and twirled and raced around. I was particularly proud of our boy, who is often tentative when approaching new things, for his willingness to persist.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

my smitten kitchen crush

I have a total crush on a food blogger - which is really unusual for me. I'm not usually one for crushing in general, and I don't follow recipes very often, and I don't like most food blogs - neither their tone nor their recipes. But I am having a serious thing for Deb Perelman's smitten kitchen. I discovered the blog about six months ago and have found myself reading through her recipes just for fun. I've made easily a dozen recipes from her site, maybe more.** see below for list**

Tonight's foray was her apple sharlotka, a Russian apple dessert that appealed to me for its ratio of apples to batter (very heavy on apples) and for its ease.

I think we might prefer apple crisps or pies, for their texture, or it could be that I just didn't cook it long enough, but it was still pretty good. Seb said it was his favorite cake ever and ate two pieces, so I guess that's good enough.

*updated to include a list: cauliflower and parmesan cake; strawberry biscuits; strawberry cake; blueberry muffins; kale salad; butternut squash and chickpeas; butternut squash soup; chocolate chip cookies; pumpkin muffins; granola bars, squash and greens pizza!
More, more: peanut butter cookies

Monday, January 14, 2013

exploring Portland's children's scene

We have been very busy exploring some of the amusements that Portland has to offer children, and are so far very happy with what we've found. There are lots of fun things to do and see inside during this winter.  Plus, from a New Yorker's perspective, everything is practically deserted. :)

We have been to the Portland Children's Museum twice, the Oregon Zoo twice, OMSI - the science museum, the new train museum, the Hillside community center's indoor park, the Chinese Garden, and an indoor playspace with giant ladders and multiple tunnels and slides called PlaydatePDX.  And we have gone for joyrides on the Max train and streetcar, because we can, and it makes Seb happy.  And to the library, of course - my Multnomah county library card was the first Portland ID I received. :)

Still to come: ice skating, roller skating, swimming, other indoor playspaces, the children's theatre, storytelling....

These pictures are from our first visit to the Children's Museum, with my mom:

On our second visit, we spent most of our time at the special exhibit on Chagall. They had some amazing interactive exhibits, and the kids loved painting. Especially Liesl:

Steve and Seb got haircuts at the barber shop, and Liesl was so jealous and insistent that we had to pretend to cut hers as well. Big tip to the very kind lady who combed Liesl's hair and pretended to cut it.

At the Zoo, which has a new baby elephant. (Not pictured here. :)  )

Our second visit to the Zoo was today. We spent a long time watching Lucy, the baby elephant, and then visited the lions. After that, we were freezing, so we went into the aviary and saw some beautifully bright tropical birds.

At the Chinese Garden in old Chinatown, with a short visit to Voodoo doughnuts beforehand: