Tuesday, August 9, 2011

99-W Drive-In

Channel your inner Olivia Newton-John this summer with an outing to the 99-W Drive-In out Highway 99 in Newberg. Though it's a trek from inner Portland,  it's well worth the trip.

99-W is the last drive-in theatre in the Portland metro area - and it's thriving. In fact, on summer Friday and Saturday nights, the 275-plus car spaces fill as early as an hour before showtime.  The crowd's a great mix: families with kids in PJs and beds in the backs of their pickups or minivans mingle with car buffs, loyal locals and teenagers seizing one of the best-known make-out opportunities in the history of entertainment.

The entire experience is as sweet and charming as it gets: the snack bar is filled with old drive-in memorabilia, and sells treats at prices actually proportional to what you're getting (no 32-ounce, $7 "small" sodas here - which in itself is refreshing). Before the show, kids play on the swings and adults sit in lawn chairs actually - gasp - chatting with each other. And the evening starts with live birthday announcements, vintage reels and a giant sense of small-town community.

It's a great outing for kids - (see this week's Family Fun Review). Yes it makes for a late night, but heck, that's what summer's all about! It's also a romantic date for adults or a great way for a group of friends to see a movie and actually get to chat with each other when they feel like it without disturbing their neighbors.

Most of all, the 99-W Drive-In is a portal into a sweet and ever-more-rare slice of American life - in which entertainment is a special event that supports local businesses, doesn't break the bank, and fosters community over digitally-driven isolation.

Trust me: one trip here and you may just start singing, "Hopelessly Devoted to You" full-voice. Just don't do it in your nightgown, Sandy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

O-O-O-O-OK-LAHOMA! right here on the waterfront

Take your sweetie courting this summer the old fashioned way - in a surrey with a fringe on top. These are pedal-powered surreys that you can rent from Kerr Bikes and ride around the waterfront, explore downtown in or or even take for an adventure on Springwater Corridor (picnic optional). There are two surrey sizes, so you can make it a family affair too - little kids love riding in the baskets in front and letting parents do all the work! (Read more in this week's Family Fun review.) You don't even need much sunshine - in fact, cooler weather is welcome on those steep bridge ramps. And unlike Rogers and Hammerstein's surrey, there's no horse poop to clean up afterwards.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's U-Pick Time!

Summer ain't summer without fresh-picked berries and cherries. And while New Seasons and farmers markets have luscious offerings, there's no better way to jump into the season than to spend a half-day at one of the area's many u-pick farms. You get fresh air, a little exercise (each hour of reaching and plucking burns away at least a pint of Ben and Jerry's, right?) and the freshest berries possible! And you often pay less for the privelege.

For a roundup of some great berry picking spots around Portland, plus links to produce calendars for greater Portland and Oregon, check out this week's Family Fun review. If you have a favorite spot, send it to me in the comments below.

Happy picking!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Helping families find fun

Great news! Not only is the sun making its first center-stage appearance in Portland in what seems like 30 years, I've just signed on as Metro Parent magazine's Family Fun editor, which means I'll be posting weekly reviews for them on fun events and adventures of all types. I'll notify you here when new stories are posted, so you can stay current without having to check back on your own. Let me know in the comments box if you have any great ideas for places to review.

Check out this week's review on the Starlight Parade, which is this Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Metro Parent Family Fun pages

Monday, February 21, 2011

Parent, Love Thyself!

We’re all busy, so let’s get right to the point: we parents are constantly striving to improve our children’s physical and emotional health. But do we do the same for ourselves? Do we make sure we get to bed on time? Eat our veggies? Play outside? Limit screen time? Not so much.

Does it really matter? Yes, yes, yes. Diet and obesity has overtaken tobacco use as the leading underlying cause of death in our country. But aside from avoiding that obvious setback called the end of life, we take care of ourselves not just to stave off illness, but to add quality to our lives. Taking care of yourself improves your parenting, your professional work, your love life, your family functioning and your general sense of well-being.

So how do we parents work self-care into our demanding, modern lives? Enquiring parent-minds found out during  “Nurturing the Person Inside the Parent” – the last in a series of three evening workshops at Sunstone Montessori School by naturopathic-doctor-cum-family-health-educator Krista Anderson-Ross.

Directing your DNA
If the loads of science showing the benefits of healthy behaviors like eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and nurturing your mental health hasn’t been quite enough to motivate you to take care of yourself, an exciting new chapter in modern research could really light your fire: it’s called epigenetics.

In very simplified terms, epigenes are little on/off switches that live outside each gene. Researchers are learning that certain behavioral factors – among them eating well, exercising, sleeping well and having a positive mental attitude – can influence whether your epigenes turn a gene on or off. So, if you have a gene for arthritis, say, or cancer, you may have more control than you thought over whether that gene causes you problems.

Beyond the science, of course, is our own qualitative data: when we get more sleep, we feel better, tolerate toddler tantrums with more Zen, think more clearly and don’t crave sugar and other bad foods as much, right? And when we exercise, we feel sharper and more energetic, we feel better in our clothes, and our self-image soars. And…and…and… -- the list goes endlessly on.

Krista’s Top Five
No matter what your motivation – be it genes or jeans – Dr. Krista recommends adopting these five behaviors into your life:

#1 – Go to bed earlier, and sleep 7.5 to 8 hours per night, in a dark room. As Dr. Krista says on her website WholeFoodMatters.net “The very best thing you can do for your overall health is to get enough sleep.”

Because of your circadian rhythms and sleep’s relationships with cortisol levels and when your body releases the beneficial hormone melatonin, each hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after. A regular pattern of 11PM bedtimes can wreak havoc on your hormone levels (like thyroid, sexual hormones and others) and affect many of your body’s functions. And because your eyes can absorb light through their lids, disrupting the deep sleep required for melatonin release, it’s crucial to sleep in the dark. One parent reported a dramatic improvement in her sleep (and her well-being) once she simply started wearing an eye mask to bed. And avoid technology – computer, TV, PDA – for 60 minutes before bedtime, as it has been shown to disrupt your body’s ability to relax.

#2 – Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you’re a 190-pound man, you need 80 ounces each day. Coconut water – the real stuff, not the kind saturated in sugar – is a great way to get some of your hydration – it’s full of electrolytes and other good stuff.

#3 – Get 20 minutes of active exercise a day. No need to work out for hours. But getting your heart rate up for 20 minutes a day helps control insulin levels (a key factor in preventing cancer), slows the aging process, and of course increases stamina, strength and balance.

#4 – Supplement Vitamin D3. Again, Dr. Krista: “Vitamin D3 is essential for the absorption of calcium in teeth, bones and muscle.  It’s a hormone regulator and prevents cancer by promoting cell differentiation. It plays an essential role in immunity and blood-sugar regulation as well as cardiovascular, muscle and brain health.”

Most of us – especially in the Northwest, don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun – or from food. These is some evidence that while “normal” levels of Vitamin D will help fight bone loss and rickets, you need to be in the “optimal” level to receive many of its benefits. That range is 50-70 ng/ml. Vitamin D testing is a good idea to ensure you’re not overdosing or underdosing, as the dosage range depends on age, health, size and other factors. As a general rule, you need 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight. So, a 50-lb child needs 2,000 IUS a day; a 150-lb woman needs 6,000.

#5 – Balance out the modern diet with daily supplements of Omega 3, probiotics, calcium, and anti-oxidants. In the old days, we ate organ meats, fish and other whole foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aside from being crucial to brain functions, studies have shown omega-3s to be more effective at fighting depression than anti-depressants. In the old days, we also grew our food in soil rich in probiotics, and our cows and chickens ate good bacteria along with the grass and dirt they ingested. Probiotics are crucial to intestinal health – and as Dr. Krista points out, 80 percent of our immune system is in our guts. Eating raw and fermented foods like sourkraut, miso and kambucha can help; probiotic supplements are still usually needed.

For more information, contact Dr. Anderson-Ross at 503.804.0133 or via her website, www.wholefoodmatters.net.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Step One: Eliminate
I’m sitting at my cluttered desk in front of a Mac that crashed a while ago. All my files, emails, music, photographs – everything – were lost. I had backups for some of it (like family photos and business documents, thank goodness), but not all. For example, when I inserted the backup disc called “Writing”-- a file that held everything I’ve ever written in 15 years -- the computer message said, “You’ve just inserted a blank disc. What would you like to do with it?”

I haven’t cried that hard and that dramatically since my teen years.

Now, I’m feeling a little more Zen. I can breathe again and do not feel like the world, the Universe and the Gods are all against me.  I see that I partly had really bad luck, and partly had a hand in this drama. So now I have a much better backup system. After all, this is my business, and my life. And more importantly, I don’t want to create dramas – honestly, I don’t. I want to save my energies for the things I truly care about, like having fun with my family and friends, and creating great work, and maybe volunteering.

So I am taking steps to minimize drama. One of them is called One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds, a/k/a the Zen Organizer, according to the book jacket. I am committing, as she insists we do if we are to truly realize the fruits of our own unique talents, to an organized life. Once you do that, and create a Dream Board to help you visualize where you want to be, you follow the book’s steps to organize your entire life – home, finances, kitchen, office, photos, everything – in one year. Each month focuses on a different area of life.

If you’re interested, I’ll post here…so come along! You might just glean some golden nugget that will be a catalyst for your own life out of this journey.

I believe in starting at the beginning, so here’s what the introduction says, in a nutshell. A disorganized life is usually the symptom of patterns/behaviors/identities/issues that began early in your life. Identify those to help solve the root problems. Meanwhile, learn her tips and tricks in each chapter, which all center around three basic organizing steps: Step 1: Eliminate. Step 2: Categorize. Step 3: Organize.

I have to laugh. Step 1 is Eliminate? Check, check, and double check. I guess my computer life, at least, is well on its way to being organized.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer, Despite Itself

Berry picking on the Hood River Fruit Loop
So it’s the second-to-last day of August, and it’s raining. 2010 was the Summer That Wasn’t in Portland, but somehow, despite that, our experience of summer has been much more satisfying than last year’s (see The Best of Both Seasons, below). We’re all ready (and I mean I’m ready) for school to begin again. And I’ve heard the same from other families. Here are four things that I think made the difference:

1. We took breaks between camps. In between weeks that were crammed full of work for me and Mike and camp activity for the girls, we took the risk of having a week here and there that was, uh, unscheduled. Which was a little scary for Mom, I must say. Especially when Mom needs to be bringing home some bacon every week. But with well-timed play dates and help from family (and ok, if you must know, Walt Disney did his share too) we survived. The plus was, we got a little time that felt different from the regular school year, where we had the freedom to sleep in, meander the neighborhood, visit with friends and do as we please.

2. We bought a family pass to Wilson High Pool, which ensured we swam a LOT. Especially in the 3.5 days this year when it was truly hot.  Walking home with wet towels over our shoulders, smelling like chlorine and Banana Boat and munching bags of over-salty, oddly bright-yellow popcorn, we were creating memories we could anchor around.

Behind the scenes at NW Trek Wilderness Park
3. We road-tripped and camped. Summer without at least one road trip is like grocery shopping without hitting the wine aisle – it’s just not acceptable.  Our adventures weren’t epic – mostly to Southern Oregon; one to Eastern Oregon, and a couple of small camping trips sprinkled in– but we kept our family adventure cred. And we still have Labor Day!

4. We gardened. Well, when I say “gardened” I mean we planted approximately $46 worth of seeds and starts with the premature (it turns out) pride of being both self-sufficient and thrifty (a veritable recession-era Victory Garden is what I envisioned). That investment of cash and energy has thus far yielded 4 small, but might I say delicious, strawberries, one under-ripe cherry tomato (from the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of sad, spindly tomato plants – seriously, who grows a cherry tomato plant with but a single tomato??), and enough basil to maybe garnish a tiny cup of soup. But, hey, the girls had a great time watering. So what that I have to explain to them each evening why we’re not out harvesting our bounty for dinner like our overachieving neighbors? Just gives us more time to watch Disney!

That's my quick assessment. And I'm curious, how did it go for you? How did you feel about summer this year? Are you ready to go back to Fall's routine? Let me know - and happy Labor Day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tips for Portland's New or Soon-to-Be Parents

Metro Parent published a couple of my stories recently that help new or expecting parents in the Portland area live more fully.
Check out:

"Pregnant in Portland? 10 Things You Need to Know" and
"After Baby's Born: The New Parents' Need-to-Know List"

...in Metro Parent's online "Your Baby & You" special issue. Lots of other great information in there too!

Just click on this post's title, above, to be linked to the .pdf. Or go to http://www.metro-parent.com/issues/baby09/index.html.

Happy parenting!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The best of both seasons

The kids went back to school today, making it official: summer's over.

Time to show the sunny months -- with their adventure, freedom and weekends that start Friday at 3 -- the door. And as they walk out, you stand up a little straighter, pat your hair into place and look the back-to-business months of fall square in the eye. Sigh good-naturedly. Invite them in to set up shop in your favorite chair. Ask what they need, and then go get it. You know it's time.

In reflecting on this changing of the seasonal guard today -- as I catalogued our summer activities, wondered where two-plus months went, and felt a little shell-shocked by how dramatically one day can change the communal zeitgeist -- I wondered how the two sides of us - Summer Us and Fall Us - might mix. The best parts of both, working together to make us adventurous, free of spirit AND productive. As we move into the comforting routines of September, whether it be at work, in school, or at home, how do we hang on to the special joy of summer, with dinners on the patio and kids playing until after dark, while also enjoying the autumnal satisfaction of a misty day spent ticking off boxes on the meaty to-do list we neglected for three months?

I for one will try, as an experiment. How? Perhaps by injecting a little more spontaneity into the predictable structures that school-time brings our family. Maybe skip a school event and head to the beach for some storm-watching and indoor s'mores making. Maybe it's a November trip to a yurt. Or splurging on fresh berries in October. Or maybe it's just an attitude, reflected in subtle ways: A bright color worn on a dark day. A dinner revolving around fresh herbs and good tomatoes for as long as one can get them. A willingness to let the kids stay up late one night, even though we'll all be wrecks the next day.

The point isn't to deny the seasonal rhythms our ancestral beings need. Nor is it to eschew the renewed focus on the practical, the predictable, the work of life that we all seem to aspire to in fall. It's about acknowledging that, like old friends, maybe you don't need to shut one out in order to enjoy the other. And in mixing them, you may find some pleasant surprises.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Country Song for Spring

Country music always reminds me of being on the road. I found this song I wrote in my early 30s (which, was, um, not too long ago). I always like country music in the spring, and maybe this song will make a few of you smile. I find the message to take charge of what you want is always a good, fun reminder for me. And if you have any Dixie Chicks connections please pass it along.

I’m Writing Your Love Song to Me
Copyright 2000 by Sarah Pagliasotti

You say that you love me but you can’t let it out,
You just can’t express how you feel,
Well, I need to hear something -
I need some connection,
To believe that your place here is real.

So since you’ve become so dang speechless
But for me words are flowing out free,
I’ve decided to do us a favor
And I’m writing your love song to me.

You’ve been tongue-tied too long, and it’s getting me down
so let me just write you some verse.
It may seem like bad news
to do it this way,
But believe me, hon, no news is worse.

And since you’ve forgotten your romance
But I need some sweet poetry,
I’ve decided to do us a favor
And I’m writing your love song to me.

You’ll pick your guitar and sing to my soul
The moon will be your spotlight
You’ll speak of the beach
and dancing together
And how our love makes the world right.

You’ll sing of the lilacs and beauty and how you
Feel like the birds understood,
And bird by bird
your song will say
What, word by word, you never could.

It may need some practice, a read-through or two
To feel comfortable with these strange words
But do practice, my sweet,
Cause the perfect it makes
Is the loving that we both deserve.

Well, since you’ve been so strong and silent
And I want to be weak in the knees,
I’m courting myself in your honor
And I’m writing your love song to me.

Yes since you’ve become so dang speechless
But for me words are flowing out free,
I’m doing us both a big favor
And I’m writing your love song to me.