Portland city kids

Oregonians talk about urban living with children
by: , Mel Favara and her 20-month old daughter Ramona Runklel.

Mel Favara

Mel Favara, mom of 20-month-old Ramona Runkel, is a writer and English teacher and host of 1,000 Words, an experimental writing-reading series that challenges local writers to put together a 1,000-word piece to read at live events that occur every two months.

Favara says Ramona really enjoys the events, especially the live music portion, and that other people often bring their children.

(See 1000wordspdx.blogspot.com)

She says having a baby has been good for her writing.

'I'm so much more focused now,' she says. 'It really helped me take it to the next level because I now have to fight for writing time, and when I get it, I'm all about it and doing nothing else. I just feel so much more grounded.

'It's a funny paradox: Now that so much of my identity is about being Ramona's mom, I feel like I am more of the artist that I meant to be before, because I feel so much more solid on the ground.'

On the downside, she says, 'I have so much less time than I used to, and that's a bit of a drag, but I get so much more done than I used to.'

Her favorite thing to do with Ramona is go on walks through the neighborhood, 'spying' on other people's gardens and checking out the neighbor's ducks and the chicks in a nearby store. They are 'constantly making discoveries,' she says.

- Anne Marie DiStefano

To see more pictures of city kids and their parents click on the blue icon in the upper right-hand corner of the picture.

Ruth Adkins

Ruth Adkins, a Hillsdale resident and market research analyst who was elected to the Portland Public Schools board last May, finds that she now has to juggle her career with her volunteer board job and family, which includes husband Todd and kids

Harriet, 9, a fourth-grader at Rieke Elementary; Louise, 14, a freshman at Wilson High School; and Jane, 17, a junior at Wilson.

Adkins said she's been switching between various part-time jobs over the past 18 years, trying to make ends meet and be home at least part of the time with the kids. The plus side, she said, is that she's never bored.

The downside is trying to juggle the needs of her three kids with the needs of the 46,000 in the school district, she said, and 'feeling like you are never giving enough of yourself to any of the pieces of your life.'

Getting a home-cooked meal on the table is a challenge, she said, but her kids pitch in and have been supportive of her taking on the role on the school board.

Her favorite things to do with the kids: visiting Oaks Park,

biking on the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade (or anywhere that doesn't involve hills, she says), getting burgers and shakes at Humdinger Drive-In on Southwest Barbur Boulevard, walking to the pool in the summertime, going to movies and getting caramel corn at Lloyd Center.

'As the kids get older and life has gotten more hectic,' she says, 'we're trying to hold on to some of the things we used to do as a tradition, like berry picking in the summer. When they were little we used to all go to the Belmont Library together to check out a bag full of picture books and then get cookies at the Coffee People on Hawthorne. Simpler times!'

- Jennifer Anderson

Deborah Kafoury

Deborah Kafoury is a candidate for the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. She resigned her seat in the Oregon House of Representatives in February 2004, partly because of the demands of parenting two young children, and partly out of frustration from having little influence as part of the minority party in that chamber.

She and her husband, Nik Blosser, subsequently had a third child. Blosser, president of Celilo Media Group, publishes the Chinook Book.

Her kids are Alexander, 7, a second-grader at Duniway Elementary School; Jacob, 4 1/2, who attends preschool at Whole Child Montessori; and 2-year-old Anna.

If Kafoury wins her race (and she is a heavy favorite), the commute from her Eastmoreland neighborhood will be 10 minutes, down from 60 minutes when she was driving to Salem. She'll also get to focus on children's and family issues at the county, as well as programs serving vulnerable citizens.

'I think you really have to prioritize whether something you're going to be doing is more important than spending time with your children,' Kafoury says. 'If

I'm going to spend some time away from my children, I want to do something that's constructive.

'Once you have children, you realize how important it is to be in their lives, but you also need time to be an adult.'

That said, 'We love to go to the park,' she says.

'Sellwood is our favorite.'

- Steve Law

Naomi Pomeroy

Single mom Naomi Pomeroy runs Beast restaurant in Northeast Portland, but 7-year-old daughter August Hebberoy often is close at hand.

When August isn't attending the International School, she helps out at the restaurant and finds privacy (along with a place to do her homework) in her own little nest - a room at the back of Beast.

Pomeroy says that her roles as chef and parent forced her to make a choice.

'I came to this crossroads where I could have decided to take a nine-to-five job and spend a lot more time with her, but I actually decided to take a job based more on my own personal need for self-expression.

'I decided to set an example of what life can be like if you do what you love. I decided to inspire her in that direction. And she's able to be here most nights. It's actually quite an ideal situation.'

And when Pomeroy and her daughter escape the restaurant, what are they likely to be doing together?

'We go out to eat,' Pomeroy says.

- Peter Korn

Emily Harris

When 2 1/2-year-old Sabina Oldham and her dad, Collin Oldham, show up at Sellwood Park one sunny afternoon, it's the first time she's seen her mom all day.

Emily Harris is the host of the radio show 'Think Out Loud' on Oregon Public Broadcasting. She goes to work at 5:30 a.m., before Sabina rises for the day. But she leaves her daughter a note to read when she gets up. Today's said, 'Good morning, Sabina. I love Sabina.'

'Hi, Lovedove,' Harris says to her daughter, extending her arms with a big smile.

Harris' husband freelances as a classical cellist.

'He's totally my secret of success as far as me managing what I manage.'

The family lives a couple of blocks from the park. Harris says they have a membership at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry but spend most of their time in the neighborhood.

'We do a lot of stuff around here,' she says. Sometimes, she says, they'll just take a walk around the block before dinner. They visit the gnome that lives in the rosebushes down the street. They also enjoy story hours at the library and meals at the Muddy Rudder Public House.

'They have PB and J and carrot sticks for two bucks,' Harris says.

Harris spends her afternoons with Sabina and works at night after Sabina goes to bed.

Harris says being a parent has opened her to new experiences, which she finds valuable as a journalist. The Portland native has worked as a reporter in a Moscow, Berlin, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., but she says parenting is a whole different ballgame:

'Teaching someone how to love is a lot different than teaching someone about Serbia.'

At the park, Sabina finds throwing pine cones in a mud puddle more interesting than the merry-go-round. Over at the swing set, she bangs a stick on one of the supporting poles, and then spins around the pole.

'I'm pretending it's a maypole,' she says gleefully.

'A maypole? How do you know about maypoles?' Harris asks her.

'There's another thing about working parents,'

Harris says. 'I miss about half of it.'

- Toby Van Fleet

Bob Sallinger

Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland Audubon Society, is dad to 5-year-old Peter, who attends Sunnyside Elementary School, and 3-year-old Annabel.

'A big part of my work involves trying to protect nature in the city,' he says. 'Having young children gives that work much more immediacy and urgency. Peter and Annabel remind me every day how important it is to have trees to climb, and critters to discover and natural areas to explore.

'They both play a big role in my work, helping to take care of animals at the wildlife care center, coming out in the field to monitor peregrines, and even attending the occasional hearing. Working with wildlife does not lend itself to a nine-to-five existence, but we deal with that by integrating the kids into the work … and they seem to think that's pretty cool.'

Their favorite things to do in the city are exploring the wilds of Portland and climbing at the rock gym.

- Lee van der Voo

Mike Barrett

Mike Barrett is in his fifth season as the Trail Blazers' television play-by-play announcer. The Albany native and his wife, Shelly, live in Tualatin with their children, Jack, who turns 3 in June, and Gabby, 17 months.

'It's difficult being away so often, because we work a lot of nights and weekends and are on the road a lot,' Barrett says. 'But being on TV, the kids at least get to see me a lot, even though I don't get to see them. Like a lot of the players, including Steve Blake and Joel Przybilla, I have a webcam I can hook into my laptop in my hotel room, so I can turn a phone call into a video call, which is really nice.

'For seven months it's very busy, but the summertime is much quieter and I get to spend more time with them. And the good thing about working at night, I'm able to be there when my kids get up in the morning.'

When he's in town, the family gravitates toward simple stuff.

'We go swimming a lot in the summer,' he says. 'We go to the park a lot. I'm trying to get Jack into golf. I bought some miniclubs for him, but he usually just ends up hitting his sister with them.'

- Kerry Eggers