pookie play date : mo phillips!

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mo phillips. holy warm crap i adore this man. seb and i have booped and bopped all over town to check out the big assortment of kid musicians p-town is currently offering. they are all good. mo is the best. mo is effervescent. mo is energetic. mo is entertaining. mo performs mad original music that he writes and composes (shout-out to “occasional yogurt”, a personal fav), a lot of which is done with his two sons and elementary school students. if mo were a sandwich shop, he’d be Brass Tacks (his favorite nbd). plus the man has a kiss ass sense of humor and that “it” thing. he loves what he does and the chillrun, that’s right, chillrun can tell. i look forward to every friday morning at 10am so that seb and i can bike (when it’s nice) or drive (when it’s nasty) to the Treehouse kid shop/play room and spend the next hour with mo. mo phillips 2

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i have memorized my favorite tunes of his and sing them back to seb ad nauseam all the damn time. mo treats the chillrun like the mini half-cooked cartoon-like characters they are and all us grown folk appreciate the levity he brings to what might be a bonkers stressed out parenting day. example; there’s a song where he asks the chillrun to shout out different animals for his, “go to sleep” song and one week, a little one offered up something decidedly non-animal, like toaster oven or crackers or something to that effect. and mo loved it. ate it up. was like, “that’s amazing, yes, toaster oven, ‘let’s go with it” and put it in the song where an animal usually goes. i was already drinking the kool-aid and in that instance, i was like, yeah, this dude is the truth. he is endearingly silly and young at heart and i hope he stays that way forever.

go see him whenever, wherever you can. some weeks, the Treehouse is packed and other weeks a smaller crowd shows up. either way is a solid time. plus the room he performs in is perfect – chillrun can be present in the magical mo bubble or wander around the room and play with tons of toys; a train table, a kitchen set-up, buckets filled with puzzles, building blocks and interactive toys plus there’s a separate little room where the chillrun can hide away and play or in the case of my son, retreat to poop.

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he also plays happy hour every week across the street on Williams Ave. at Poa Cafe, the fam-friendly spot i yammered on about here. sip on an adult bevvy with actual alcohol in it or suck down a yummy chillrun-friendly smoothie with a side of nutritional yeast-dusted popcorn. either way, you’re golden.

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mo’ mo! mo’ mo! mo’ mo! but for reals, go see and support this dude. he’s the goat of chillrun musicians.


*eight. the number of times the word chillrun was used in this post kay thanks*

we eat dirt. hella dirt.

dog park 1while working on what’s turning into a massive do it your damn self teepee post, i felt the need to showcase my bebe slopping around in the mud at a dog park we frequent often, happy as his little kissable piggy ass could possibly be.

we recently swapped my 13-year old chichi for a 1-year old shepherd/fox hound mutt (don’t worry and no judgement on re-homing a senior dog because 1) that heifer was so loved and spoiled her whole damn life it’s sick. i brought her home at 8 weeks and we had hella good years together. she saw me through the college years, one night stands and a grip of burritos. in exchange, she had more picturesque canyon walks and pig ears than her tiny chichi tummy could handle and 2) because of this, i suppose i expected her to accept a new baby, one that came out of me and was part of our crew and curb her neurotic and jelly behavior around him. all he ever wanted to do was talk her for walks as soon as figured out being mobile, share all his baby snacks with her and bury his face in her fur.

but she didn’t care. she growled and snapped and gave him his first life wound, the tiniest scar on his left eyelid. it wasn’t on purpose but after that incident followed by several more months of waiting to see if she’d get her shit together, holding her little face in my hands and telling her to please be nice to the baby and to not make me choose because that wouldn’t end well for her. she made things so stressful it was hard to hang on some let’s just play music and have a dance party with my child and my dog in my own house. i knew she had to go. it was heart breaking and i was super emo but one night after she growled in his face right before bedtime and made him cry for the umpteenth time, i snapped her picture while she was curled up on her favorite animal print pillow and put her ass online. it was really real. i was really upset over the whole f’ing situation.

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and then i went to bed and slept because i thought surely no one would want to take on an old, cantankerous chihuahua. a week went by and nothing. and i felt like i would just have to find a way for all of us to co-exist without someone hacking up a fur ball and it would suck but this was girl, my only child for so long. and i loved her. but then, a few afternoons later, i got an email from Jewel Starz, her real name y’all i swear. the day we showed up to bring her Nina, she was dressed in a printed muumuu and a huge arty necklace. i found out she used to live on Haight & Ashbury in the 70’s selling hand sewn denim skirts. street cred yo. she was, incredulously, everything i could have ever wanted for my Nini and i will forever be thankful that she came into our lives and saved my cranky chichi from a life of baby misery. Nina now lives on an idyllic farm in Sherwood with Jewel, Jewel’s bff, some llamas, goats and a South American styled adobe filled with women’s liberal reading material and purple paintings.

llama farm picnot only have i received multiple email updates complete with attached photos and videos but Jewel invited me to come out to the farm one afternoon this summer to squeeze Nina’s face. i am there. i am bringing the iced tea, cookies and a copy of something manifesto-y and feminine.

nina with jewel

and a video, compliments of Miss Jewel. click and watch if you like llamas. or chihuahuas wearing raincoats near llamas. or anything in life that is cute : Nina and the llamas

and then, faced with the choice to live a dog-free life, i chose the road in life i usually choose, the harder, more exhausting and questioningly sane one. i searched the Humane Society website and craigslist like a crazy and found another animal to bring into our world. what’s a life lived that doesn’t resemble a menagerie? is my motto.

so i now cater to not one but two 18-month olds. because that’s a brilliant idea. also a short road to a white, padded room where meds are administered. but Mateo is at the same time magical and maniacal. he is extra sweet with Sebe, everyone’s bff at any dog park we take him to (which has to happen every. single. day. so much for the incremental me-minutes i had. who needs time in a day to take a shit anyway? so overrated) and even shields us from other canines that he deems unsafe to be in our bubble. for that, i luuuuve him. he’s just a puppy still. with crazy puppy energy and drive and the intense need to be outside as much as possible, even if that means jumping the baby gate and bolting out the door when no one’s looking. oh well. we all make choices.

so here we are. another day hanging at Fernhill park, which has the ultimate dog park. like, the king of all dog parks. like, if Fernhill was an ice cream, it would be Salt & Straw. and holy shit this post got long-winded by i have a point and that point is that as a new mom, i am taking full pride and joy in allowing my child to get as dirty as possible as often as possible. when else in life can you plop yourself down in a dusty, dirty mud hole in the middle of a dusty, dirty dog park and go to town like you were cooking up and taste-tasting the world’s best chocolate cake? so go forth and get dirty my love. get head to toe all up in your mouth and hair and ears and eyes and in between your toes and bellybutton filthy. i. love. it.

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“we can go play in the mud some more”. let’s go my love of loves. let’s go.

parent. hood.

yesterday morning, in our new normal of frantic getting out the house haze – you know, the one where the baby has been up since 6am, you dragged yourself out of bed at 6:30am to get him (this is not illegal people, i promise – the crib is a safe, warm space where, if your child is like ours, talks to himself in sometimes legible, sometimes illegible chatter until he finally decides he’s had enough monologuing in the dark and proclaims loudly, “OUT PLEASE”). it’s at this point that i go get my bundle of infinite joy and am greeted simultaneously by a thick wall of poopy diaper funk and nose snot. good morning sunshine. then the dance begins. the kiddo is hungry. he lets you know. the dog needs to pee. you need to pee. and poop (i’m assuming). and wash your face and brush your teeth and look for something to wear not covered in grimy baby hand stains and dog park dirt. and baby daddy who works from home (most of the time this is an amazing arrangement) has important conference calls to be on. baby daddy is also hungry and would appreciate a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee, light and sweet kay thanks. while still marinating in his own overnight poop juices, i set Sebe in his high chair and give him a piece of Dave’s Killer Bread and some yogurt to tide him over while i brew hot water for oatmeal and/or start a batter for french toast sticks. give the dog his breakfast. entertain Sebe while the rest of his breakfast is cooking. this is any combination of singing/dancing around the kitchen re-enacting scenes from West Side Story, The Sound Of Music or Sex And The City (i do a damn good Samantha), all while OPB’s morning stories play in the background. gotta get the news in somehow. make coffee. throw extra french toast on plate for baby daddy. bathroom time. change poopy diaper for a clean one while Sebe takes every. single. thing. out of the cupboard under the sink. he squeezes butt paste out of the butt paste tube. he pulls all of the floss out a full floss container. he plays hide & seek in the shower curtain. clean diaper on. i collect clothes for the both of us. Sebe runs around the house harassing the dog/trying to find my cell phone/feeding himself more of whatever he can pull off the kitchen shelves. sometimes this is rice. uncooked. read his favorite book. twice. clothes on. collect snacks, an extra diaper, snot rag, book or toy he hasn’t seen in a while to keep him occupied in the stroller/bike/car ride. fill milk bottle. shoes and socks on. check the time. we’re late. jackets on. halfway down the stairs. forgot something. up the stairs. down the stairs again. grab keys off hook. out the door. small baby fit when he wants to push his push cart around the neighborhood. we can’t do that right now, Seb. later this afternoon, after your nap, we can push your push cart all up and down and around this neighborhood to your hearts delight. walk around the corner. can’t find car key. it’s not in my hand, not on the ground, not anywhere. attempt to get wherever we were going is gone. back in the house. bug baby daddy to help us look for the key. i swear something in this vein happens all. the. time. before Seb, i was what you could call hella type a. slowly, daily, having a baby is helping beat this out of me. some days i can totally laugh it off and relish the joy that is motherhood and the life juggle. other days, well, other days, especially if Sebe is just not feeling it either, it’s a lot more of an effort to keep from wanting to curl up in the fetal position on the floor that is most likely covered in spilled cheerios and every pot and pan we own (thanks Seb) and weep ever so slightly. but i still wouldn’t trade this new life for anything. serio. it just gets really real but holy shit i love this little human more than i thought capable of.

day progresses. rest of the morning is rich and full and happy. little snack. nap time. diaper change before nap time. baby daddy has stayed home to help with car key situation. AAA is called. we’re borrowing the car from my mom. she has to come over to sign for the whole picking of the lock and copying of the key. of course i lost our only copy. my ma lives a busy life, she has shit to do. AAA is late. they said they’re on their way. i apologize for the umpteenth time, tell her to help herself to whatever she can scrummage in the kitchen and drag Seb off to the bedroom. diaper comes off. key falls out. key. falls. out. Sebe giggles in his nap-needing delirium.


in navigating mom world, with all its ups and downs and loaded emotional scenarios, it is these moments that complete me. i lie on the floor next to my perfect, sleepy child and laugh uncontrollably. he picks up the key and puts it in his mouth. don’t worry,  it’s only covered in pee.

reading material : kid books you (maybe) shouldn’t read to the kids


even before pushing Seb out into the world, i was pretty amped about getting to stock up on a lifetime of kids books. my parents put so much solid effort into reading with my brother and i and now, as a (semi) grownup, i continue cherishing the written word. even if these days, it comes in small dosages of the new york times and not completed novels. we were gifted a good number of books from friends and i’ve been slowly adding to my list of beloved classics as well as discovering new gems. we’ve been reading Seb a small handful of the same books since he was born and now, as a 19-month old, he recognizes the titles of these books and the story lines. it melts my heart. i totally plan on shouting out these regulars but i’ve had so much fun with a few for-kids-but-not-for-kids books that i wanted to gush about these – the chile books that stay on the adult shelf. i bust them out when I need some comic relief and they make for some amazing coffee table accoutrements.


Go The Fuck To Sleep by Adam Mansbach

we’ll start with the mega million copy bestseller that everyone has heard of. real quick though, i would like to go on record and say that Adam Mansbach, the book’s author, is hunky. as. shit. a while back, baby father scored us date night tickets to see a special touring version of The Moth live storytelling and Adam closed out the night talking about creating the book and his life since the world went bonkers for it. he is from Philly. he loves hip hop. he has swagger for days. he is a loving husband and father. he is one sexy, sexy beast. Adam said he wrote the book in 23 minutes while in his underwear after a multi-hour exhaustion fest of trying to put his daughter to bed for the umpteenth time. for anyone not familiar with how this feels, Adam’s sweet story sums it up. it’s mirrored frustration all parents have on some/all nights with our wee ones. but written in the most genius way and accompanied by darling illustrations. it’s amazing.

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in a much-needed follow-up, You Have To Fucking Eat is Manbach’s (also bestselling, doiii) sequel and again, brilliantly illustrates what all parents, at one point or another, are secretly hissing under their breath while witnessing yet another bite of perfectly good food get spit out/pushed away/thrown off the highchair tray. you can absolutely raise a child on bread and yogurt. i’m watching it happen.

i hope he makes more in the series. they remind me that everything about raising a child is hilarious, if you’re able to step away and not sob out of sheer frustration/exhaustion/take your pick remember that these are precious, fleeting moments in time.


All The Buildings In New That I’ve Drawn So Far by James Gulliver Hancock

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my bestie gave us this one. she helps folks pick out the cutest and hippest in kid presents at one of Portland’s most fun kid stores, Black Wagon. so when it comes to gift-giving herself, Rae is the bomb. being the big apple sucker that i am and secretly wanting to raise a Manhattan-ready child, i love this book.



it’s 64 pages of romantic hand drawn buildings all over the island and neighboring boroughs. Hancock covers the classics and the modern and includes the sweetest info tidbits like, “You can always find your way by looking for the Empire State Building” and telling us that the Chelsea Hotel was once home to folks like Madonna and Frido Kahlo. as soon as Seb learns how to stop ripping book pages when he gets frustrated, this one might make it down off the adult-only shelf and into the nursery.


i’m sure I’m missing some gems for this category. i know I need to get my grubby hands on a copy of, “Dads Are The Original Hipsters”. how super un-Portlandia of me not to own a copy of that. but pops came here in 1976 with his Birkenstocks and beard on fleek and mom had her flower crowns, high-waist shorts and a Volkswagon Beetle. i mean…not to toot a horn or anything but damn if that’s not some solid unaware pre-hipster stock. god bless them both for being extra extra before their time. toot toot. #sorrynotsorry


pookie play dates : art a la carte





a few mornings ago Sebe and i were faced with the eternal dilemma (or one that only a 19-month old and his stir-crazy mother can have); a city full of mommy and me things to do, which one to take on today?! as with lots of these events, i often see them listed on the pdx kids calendar several times until one day, they seem like the perfect fit for those couple of hours. and too, as the pookie gets older, more of these events feel doable. it’s much more fun when he can participate and it’s not just myself getting giddy over say, a shaving cream table.




i’ve biked past art a la carte’s new northeast location so many times and always wondered what was happening inside. Complete and utter art making magic, that’s what. there are lots of open studio hours every week. we went on a Wednesday when it’s open most of the day, from 10am-5pm. we got there right as doors were opening which in hindsight, was lovely because it meant that we had the place to ourselves for a few wee moments before the Spring break crowd tumbled in. I don’t even know where to start – the place is basically set up to let anyone from ago 0-120 come in and go ham with supplies like vibrant finger paint, art easels, a ton of bins filled with everything from pom pom balls to stickers to plastic toys to glitter to empty egg cartons that can be regular or hot glued onto a ton of paper/cardboard choices. and the shaving cream table. there’s a shaving cream table. it is awesome. Sebe mostly wanted to try and squeeze out the last few drops of cream from the can. Only my chile would find the can more interesting than the entire cream-filled table complete with tons of interesting toys with which to play with the shaving cream.


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aside from the sheer joy i derived from watching the budding basquiat in my tiny one come alive but holy hell – it was incredible being in a space where every surface has already been covered in glue, glitter and gunk from hundreds of previous sticky little palms. i didn’t have to worry one nanosecond about what Seb was doing or touching or ruining. for maximum fun, all the products put out by the carte, including those bold finger paints,  wash out easily with soap and water (i can vouch for this). even so, i definitely recommend dressing yourself and your mini me in crappy outfits so you can seriously go to town and not give two shits about getting covered in color. after an hour and a half of messy play, Seb and i both left covered in gunk and glitter. the rest of the day, the kiddo looked like he had the best night of his life in pure portland style; strip clubs and food carts, curtesy of multiple snack breaks, which they also totally allow.




with nap time calling, we headed out on a total art high with gluey fingertips, pen-marked faces and Seb’s first collage – okay so I might have helped a little bit but only because he can’t work a hot glue gun yet, sheesh, everyone’s a critic.

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i can’t wait to go again. c’mon, let’s go glue our fingers together.


$11 per artist (no fee for adults!)
kiddos get to keep everything they make aaaand you can come, go and come back in the same day!!! just ask for a hand stamp before leaving.


pookie play dates : waggle n flap family dance party




IMAG0302i had seen this dance party listed on the pdx kids calendar a few times and finally had the chance to go with the kiddo. girl, let me tell you, i know it said they play funk and hip hop on the description but i didn’t think it was going to be like, a legit first club experience for the under 5 set. the party is held once a month at the roomy and window-filled Village Ballroom in the N. Dekum hood and hosted by the adorable, bouncy Mary Rose, who non-stop twerked and twirled for the entire hour and a half. jams are provided by dj acid wash who, on the day Seb and i went, appropriately sported a neon turquoise denim jacket and hot pink trucker hat from the 80’s. dude played Kanye. dude played delicious world beat. dude played Beyonce remixes. Mary Rose hauls a giant suitcase full of sparkly costumes and eco-friendly crayons and drawing paper to add even more fun. and there’s a soft corner for the little littles and those either to shy to shake it or need a sweat break from shaking it a lot. i did my best to get Seb to drop it like it was hot but since it was his first time and he is 18-months old, i mostly boogied with him in my arms. i think next time he’ll be ready to put on something with sequins and do the worm. or robot. or whatever the hot move for 2-year olds is.
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Kiddo Outing – SpielWerk Toys

SpielWerk Toys

SpielWerk Toys

Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm / Sunday 10am-5pm

SpielWerk would probably go under the same category as Powell’s Books, a store that sells things but supplies a kid-friendly port-in-the-storm space where you are welcomed and encouraged to come and kick it, in whatever state of sloppiness or exhaustion you may have found yourself that day. This toy store is delightful and I often feel like I’m in some quaint European city while browsing through their goods, which is exactly what I think the store owners hoped for, as they source many of their items from small studios in Europe. They believe in classic and simple, handcrafted toys that inspire imagination. The first time Seb and I snuck in was to bridge the gap of time between putting in our group number for brunch at Tasty n’ Sons (the outing of which was only made possible by visiting friends – two hour waits for breakfast with an infant on board is not only cruel but should be made illegal. that being said, nothing can fuck with their Potatoes Bravas or their Radicchio salad, which is served in a pre-chilled bowl and is the greatest morning companion to warm eggs and potatoes and a mug of Stumptown coffee, made with several spoonfuls of sugar and fresh cream, which they always have, and is always fresh). I’d walked past the place so many times but never been inside. The whole front area of the shop is an open play space. At the time, they had a cardboard kid house, a mini height-right table filled with stuffs and thingys to play with and a giant wooden loft with a make-believe house and kitchen underneath and a stairway up to the second story, which was enveloped in a gauzy, fairy covering. I got to sit and sip still-warm coffee while Seb did his baby thing with a couple other kiddos. The whole brunch wait time flew by so much more painlessly than ever before and I was so thankfu that the next time I needed to pick up a baby gift, I made it a point to spend my loot there.

Kiddo Outing – Portland Children’s Museum

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4015 Southwest Canyon Road
(503) 223-6500 (it’s right next to the Zoo and the Forestry Center)


9am-5pm seven days a week

Everyone aged 1-54 $10

Annual membership for you, baby daddy/partner, kiddo and up to two different guests every time, $80. Again, absolutely worth it. These annual memberships make the best holiday-time gifts if you have family in (or out) of town and they ask what you’d like for your kiddo.

FREE the first Friday of every month. Go. Spend the whole damn day there.

The Portland Children’s Museum is absolutely magical. It starts before you even enter the building with an outdoor corn maze and gigantic hand-wheel operated metal gyro thingy. They’ve taken full advantage of their operating size and turned every nook and cranny into an explosive experience for tiny brains. There are 11 play rooms like the pet hospital, the theater, waterworks, clay studio, a building Bridgetown room and several rotating exhibits (currently it’s a yellow brick paved road leading into a spacious Wizard of Oz hall), for which the imaginative ideas are endless. I started taking Sebe to the Children’s Museum when he was still way too young to do anything but have me carry him around while I oooed and ahhhed at all the things he could play with. At 17 months, he is now old enough to get into it and he has the best time walking around until he sees or bumps into something he’s jazzed about interacting with, which is almost everything except the water room; he’s just shy of being tall enough to reach into the pools of water and gets super frustrated that he can’t splash (a baby frustration-driven tantrum is just so sad). So we avoid that room. For now. The OMSI water room is smaller and simpler but much more height friendly.

Kiddo Outing – OMSI!

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Dad at OMSI

I couldn’t help but feel like we were getting away with a wonderful crime these last few months – the sky was blue, the sun was bright and the usually soggy sidewalks were way too dry. With a non-stop 17-month old munchkin, I can attack the weekdays with all their activities. Between the community centers, libraries, kid-friendly cafes and Church basements, the Monday through Friday block is packed and all moms have to do is show up (“all” gives the illusion that getting out of the house with an infant is easy. ha.). But many of these are closed during the weekend forcing us to fend for ourselves during rainy, chilly weekends. Lately, I’ve been wishing I had set up more inside play dates during the week so that I wouldn’t be last man standing come Saturday. With a small apartment and a cranky Chihuahua who Sebe will go after to take out his pent-up stir-craziness on, we have to get the fuck out the house. We definitely go on bundled walks when all else fails, which is great except when mittens and hats keep getting pulled off. Blue baby hands are not a good look, I’m pretty sure. I know Portland is small and these things are easy to find but maybe there’s one someone didn’t know existed, thus helping salvage a stir-crazy weekend day.






1945 Southeast Water Avenue
(503) 797-4000


9:30am-5:30pm Tuesday-Sunday

Adults $13 + $5 per parking space

Kiddos 3-13 $9.50

The annual membership is seriously the way to go – you and your baby daddy/partner or any guest plus a kiddo under 3 is $85 a year and comes with free parking. Go just four times and you’ve already paid for it. So. Worth. It.

First Sunday of every month is $2 entry. Go. Spend the whole damn day there!

OMSI is so special. It’s an acronym, standing for Oregon’s Museum of Science & Industry and it’s been around since 1944. I remember when it was housed where the Children’s Museum currently is (see below) and it was rad back then. I also remember watching them build their new digs on the East waterfront and being like, whoah, this is going to be amazing. And it is. The museum boasts permanent and rotating exhibits for bigger kiddos and a gigantic, interactive room for the littles, complete with water, sand, lego, woodland creatures and grocery store areas, plus tons of science-y stuff and a soft baby play corner. They also have a large room for robotics and messy, sticky, wonderful projects like making your own goop. There’s an area for eating, restrooms and water fountains all inside kiddo-land so you never have to leave. Never ever. Oh, and my Dad volunteers once in a while for the bigger kid exhibits. Ask him anything, science-related or not. You’ll get answers.