Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My view: UTA should be catering more to mothers.

I'm kind of a UTA power user if you will.  I am amazed each time I ride at just how friendly and helpful my fellow riders are most of the time.  Some of our funnest afternoons have been spent just riding and shooting the breeze with people on the train.  The drivers are, for the most part, really, really great too.
Some will even play along when Grayson asks where their "train man hat" is.  They are generally helpful and cheerful.  Most of the time.

What is not helpful is that UTA's policies, for the most part, are not mother friendly.

Here is where I am coming from:
In Salt Lake we live in a bowl, one that collects the poison from our tailpipes inside where we all breathe and, according to the experts the biggest solution is for us all to drive less.
Knowing that while I think it is helpful to cater the public transit system to commuters it is not
going far enough.  Who do you think is driving while everyone else is at the office?

That's right: Moms.

Here are my suggestions for making UTA more mom and child friendly:

1) Allow strollers.  NOT just folded ones. Everywhere.  Busses included.  Look, I get it.  Strollers are kind of a pain but do you know what else is a pain?  Lugging kids AND a stroller.  Have you ever tried to go grocery shopping with kids and then fold up your stroller and carry everything on a bus or train?  Or simply going without a stroller and arriving somewhere and having to carry your young children everywhere because you rode transit.  Without a stroller you bar mothers from riding transit because once they arrive at their destination they are kind of stuck either carrying tired kids or running after their kids.  Not very glamourus(or even possible).

Right now UTA has signs on each of their ramps on TRAXX and on their website they state buses that state that strollers are not allowed on the ramps and busses that kneel will not kneel for strollers.  Even though, most of the time, they will bend this rule it is still quite the gamble to get the kids out of the house, to the stop and then just hope that the driver is going to let you on.  This is enough to deter most people from making the effort.  If instead they are met with a smile and a helping hand to reward them for their efforts imagine what a difference that would make?

2) Make it fun and FREE for all kids.  Why not have the train man wear a train man hat?  Maybe even once a week?  Why not have it be Polar Express themed during the holidays?  Why not give stickers to young riders?  This is Utah, you have to do something great to get people out of their cars and give them, especially moms, a reason to go to the extra effort.  Everyone wins if more kids are riding.
We are training future transit riders, the air is cleaner and moms can interact with their kids more during the ride.  Why are we charging kids when they are at their most influential?  We need to see them as riding transit for free as a gateway drug if you will.  An SUV is free according to most families.  Don't add dollar sighs to riding transit.  It just doesn't make sense for the long run.

3) Have Mom ambassadors that will show new riders the ropes.  Look, I know that in the big cities you have to go it alone but usually moms have already been lifelong riders and get it.  We are teaching not only kids but oftentimes their parents how to use transit for the first time and integrate it into their lives. A helping hand can go a long way when you are already out of your element and throwing the kids in the car is oh so tempting.

There you go, these may seem simple but I think it would make a huge difference to ridership in our family friendly state.

Us, walking to the Traxx Station for a day running errands on transit.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stealing the show.

This was Revi's 6 Month shoot but I had my little boy by my side as always so I couldn't resist getting a few shots in this beautiful light in the most amazing fall I can remember.

It is his heart that will always stand out.  In a crowd, while reading stories, while picking out pastries at our neighborhood bakery.  He is kind, he is careful and he is curious.  His kindness is  a disarming kindness, the kind that doesn't happen often.  I am excited to see him every single time I do.  He is also a joker. He is my littlest boy, and he barely fits in my lap.  I am in awe!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Perfect Rainy Day in SLC

Today was what I consider to be heaven.  Everyone woke up in an ok mood, we all got out the door by 9 and it was RAINING!  Rainy days are my absolute favorite.  There is something about carrying an umbrella and being packed in restaurants with strangers and the smell in the air.  It is just pure magic! 
So today we decided to spend the day at City Creek.  It started at Starbucks, then we shopped for a few hours, Revi slept in the sling, and Grayson just hung out.  We rode the train, watched the train from the skybridge, grabbed lunch, grabbed kids clothes, grabbed groceries and then headed home on the train for naps. 

All in all one of those days that makes me feel so lucky to live here and have two little amazing shopping buddies!

Our 6 Month Old

 I don't really know what to say.  This month has been a bit rough and I think that is ok to say but not always easy to allow myself to think.  My beautiful, curious, smart and sassy little girl wants to be attached to me day and night and while I am flattered, it is taking it's toll.  She is desperate for me, every minute of every day and it makes me wonder if that means I am doing it wrong, or right or if I ate too many cookies while pregnant with her or if I am not giving her the right kind of attention or stimulation or that she has low self esteem or that she is too demanding.  Any and all of it my fault.

Sigh.  Mommy guilt is alive and well in our house!

But. Guess what else is happening?  Grayson and Revi have developed their own language of sorts.  They babble back and forth and laugh hysterically and then start all over.  Then they reach for each other and hold hands and then more laughter and then more babbling.  It just doesn't get any better.  It doesn't.  Their bond is already apparent and I am just hopelessly in love and breathlessly watching it unfold.  That pretty much sums it up:

I am hopelessly in love and breathlessly watching it unfold.

My life is a dream and a whole lot of work.  And there are tears.  Almost every day.  Both happy and  and bittersweet and also tears of frustration and sometimes even moments when I know that I cannot go on another minute.  And then I do. And then I am proud.  I know that I am giving every single ounce that I can to make their life healthy and beautiful and interesting and educational and clean and fun and well, a life they will remember fondly.  And that makes me know that a moment has not been wasted, and that makes me happy.

I am so intrigued by my little girl.  She and I share a bond that is intense and still unfolding.  I am both amazed and overwhelmed that I get to experience having a daughter.  Especially one as fierce and soulful as Reverie is.  She is unlike any other person I have met.  She is captivating and demanding and beautiful and whip smart.  She will leave a deep and lasting impression on the world.  Just watch. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ring Around The Rose(y) Another perfect Saturday in my neighborhood.

I have to say this program is a gem among gems in our city. Ring Around The Rose is low cost and very, very high return. Where else can you see professional dancers, up close and have it be, as they say, "wiggle friendly" at the same time? As big BIG fans of the arts I have to say I have been looking forward to taking Grayson all year. We made a morning of it. Doug was out of town so I invited my MOM and we took a stroll through the farmers market on our way over and took a quick stop to "ride the pigs" as is customary on our walks past Vivace.
As we walked in I couldn't get over how excited I was to be taking these little ones to the theatre! I know it seems a little....simple? But I really hope they get the same thrill I get from live performance art or at least gain an appreciation for it. Having these experiences so close at hand is one of the more amazing parts of living in Salt Lake City and I LOVE it!

We wandered in out of the rain with our stroller(we had the double since Grayson insisted he sit and it was raining out) The ushers kindly explained to me that strollers weren't allowed but I could check it no problem(HUGE PLUS for walking mamas! BIG bonus points!!) We were there early so we went and found our place and waited for the magic to begin!

 As we were being seated a very nice woman exclaimed gesturing to Grayson : "oooo is that a boy!?" "is he going to be a dancer? We need more boys in the arts!" to which I replied "we hope so!" kind of haphazardly because, to be honest, I haven't really thought about what I want Grayson to be when he grows up. That is for him to decide and well, the woman brought up a point I hadn't really noticed until then.

 He was the only boy at the performance.

 After a brief moment of panic I began to wonder why and if we were going to feel awkward? I saw lots of Dad's with their daughters(hopefully giving mommy a much needed morning off), and little girls with their Moms but Grayson remained the only boy present.

 So I watched him. Carefully and his behavior and how he was reacting to the (holy crap wonderful) performance. For this month( all are different BTW which is so fun!) they had crayons in front of them with a blank piece of paper running along the audience. Grayson knew just what to do with those tools and put them to use! He was the only one though.

 This made me wonder just what to do!? It seemed to me that I wanted my son to enjoy the experience, but also wanted him to be polite and follow the rules. No one seemed to mind too much and no one said not to color but it left me wondering: how do I guard his creativity and individuality without being impolite or imposing on others? Also: I felt HORRIBLY guilty for even thinking twice about him being the only boy at the performance.
 So I let him color and he watched the dancers(half of which were male much to my delight) and we had an amazing experience.

The woman sitting next to us seemed slightly annoyed at one point, her little girl was politely sitting still and coloring on command but I just let him go(of course within reason) but it seemed to me that if I can get my 2 year old little boy to sit still for almost an hour with crayons and watch the magic of dance that is a win. Also he got to be exposed to some pretty amazing dancing by both Female and Male dancers which I loved. I felt content with our policy on this one, but it made me wonder: why weren't more boys present? why, when the ENTIRE performance had a narrator talking about and encouraging creativity was everyone else encouraging their kids to sit still? And finally WHY did I care? We were following the rules and being respectful so why on earth was I letting what others might be thinking take away from the amazing day we were having?

 My kids are so young that I find myself trying to figure out "what our policy is" on a lot of things. That day I concluded that it is ok to be different and ok to color when there are crayons present and OK to be the only boy. We, as always, enjoyed a very full saturday in our downtown village. And we are beaming with pride that Ring Around The Rose is part of it. Go! You will not be disappointed.  Oh and if you have boys?  Bring them, they will love it!

See the full schedule here and if you see us there be sure to say Hello!  We LOVE meeting fellow parents and Urbanites!

 Ring around the Rose is giving away a family pass to one performance to one of our readers. I will select the winner at random from the comments :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Come one, come all!(and get around like a pro)+Greenbike Giveaway!!!

Well HELLO Utah!  Welcome to my neighborhood! Since record crowds are expected in this neck of the woods this weekend. I thought I would give you the insider's scoop on how to have a great time and not stress about getting here.
Bottom line:  crowds=fun as long as you know how to be smart and land in the right place at the right time.  Repeat after me: you can do this and you will ROCK it!  Our city is so very easy to get around!  Once you arrive, all of the events are less than a block from a Traxx stop and are all within the free fare zone.   So whether you arrive by car, bus or rail, once you are here, get ready for some fun!  This just might be the most packed weekend yet for our little city!

First off: Start with doing yourself a favor and downloading the Salt Lake City Mobile app.

Android here
and iTunes here

Not only will this app show you where available parking is, how much and how long you can park, it also finds all of the closest lots according to your location so you can move around with ease!

If you are driving and think you might want to utilize street parking(you must be feeling lucky) you will definitely find downloading the quickpay app  helpful for paying for parking from your phone. 

iTunes here
Android here

I would HIGHLY, highly recommend either taking transit into the city or planning to drive in and then ditch your car.  With Traxx and the free fare zone surrounding all of the events you will find that your car is more of a hindrance than anything.

 Mommy tip:  pack your stroller with everything you will need for the day including water, snacks, diapers and your wallet and sun hats if you plan to walk around a bit.  Ditching your car is really not all that hard(and is preferred) on weekends like this one in DSL.  You won't be sorry you did.
There are SO MANY options for eating on the go don't even bother packing a lunch if you aren't in the mood!

And NOW for the cheat sheet for free fare zone stops.  Choose your event and the list below will tell you where to get off.

Comic Con Exit Traxx(Blue or Green Line) at Temple Square and walk 1 block S to 100 S

Twilight Concert Exit Traxx(Blue or Green Line) at Planitarium and walk 1 block S to Pioneer Park

Greek Festival Exit Traxx(Blue or Green Line) at Planitarium and walk 1 block E along 200 S

James Taylor with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Exit Traxx (Blue or Green Line) at Temple Square

Disney Pirate and Princess adventure show Exit Traxx(Blue or Green Line) at Arena

Farmers Market Exit Traxx(Blue or Green Line) at Planitarium and walk 1 block S to Pioneer Park

Brazilian Festival Exit Traxx(Blue or Green Line) at Gallivan Plaza

NOT Free Fare Zone but just a few blocks from Downtown so I thought I would throw it in!
Utah State Fair Exit Traxx(Green Line) at Fairpark

Pro Tip:  Most of the Traxx trains are stroller roll on friendly, however some of the BLUE LINE trains require you to use the access ramp or fold your stroller.  Listen to the announcement just before the train arrives on the platform to see if you need to get on the access ramp. 

 Green Bike SLC is giving away 3- 7 day passes to three people who leave a comment guessing where the photo below was taken. Hint: It is downtown and has to do with trains! The first 3 to get it right win!  Thanks Greenbike!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Connect Pass Deal

This Groupon for a deal on the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass  is a great way to get to know Downtown and on the cheap!
City pass grants admission at 13 area attractions, including Utah's Hogle Zoo, the Leonardo, Discovery Gateway, and zipline at Olympic Park.

Go grab one while you can!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Case for a "family accessable" Downtown

So I live here, I love it, I see our city for all of it's beauty and use it for my everyday playground with my children. My values have lead me to live this life with my children while they are with me all day long. I see it as very very important that they know how to navigate a city, talk to strangers, and be near different types of people and feel at home. We, as a family, choose to live in the smallest footprint we can and waste as little as possible and a city, our city, has allowed us to live our values in a very real way. Our city is, in the words of our Mayor Becker: the cultural heart of the region, a crossroads of the west. And it is chuck full of amazing things for families to partake in. Our beautiful state has the distinction of taking 3 spots in the top 10 cities for most children per woman. We have large families and well, we seem to like it that way. I don't see this ending or changing much in the foreseeable future. So this begs the question: Why aren't we striving to be the absolute most child accessible city in America? You will notice that I did NOT say family friendly or family exclusive or overrun with out of control children. The term family accessible, since as far as I know I just coined it, means to be mindful that families with children will be consuming every aspect of the city and making it seamless to show up and have a good time. I am essentially talking about good usability from every person's point of view, including the youngest among us. Since I consider myself a "power user" to borrow a phrase from the technology world, I have to say that we have a long way to go. It seems that we are trying to deny who we are creating a great city for. We are, as Utahns, family oriented, honest, generous, creative, responsible, kind and industrious. It makes sense to me to have a downtown core that reflects this and is ever mindful of the people who are already here, not just those we hope to attract. Now. This is not, in my mind a call to make our cultural center look like all of the rest of the suburbs with strip malls and endless free mindless parking. That is not at all what I mean. What I do think would be amazing is to be a trend setter in the land of downtowns. Let's reflect, and serve, the people who live here and show the way for the way a city CAN be innovative in the way we treat our littles and the people who are caring for them all day. Case in point: remember when IKEA opened? Now THEY are a trend setter in the same way but with retail. They have found a way to support families and still be accessible to all ages. Now. If I had to pick a store that I wanted my city to be compared to it might be something more upscale I have to admit but that does not mean that we cannot take a page from IKEA's book. We could start small: how about making sure that all of our trains and buses are stroller accessible? As it stands you cannot ride a city bus with a stroller unless you fold it and carry it on. WHAT? who made this rule? They obviously either 1) never had children or 2) never used a stroller or 3) were purposely trying to dissuade mothers with children from riding. Which brings me to my next point: why are children required to pay a fare...ever? I think it is a no brainier for UTA to be grooming their next generation of riders by getting them on the train/bus/trolly at a young age and making them comfy. If they become lifelong riders the investment is miniscule. Courting their moms to bring them on by not torturing them and allowing them to be comfortable? A no brainier. Who exactly do we think are are going to be filling all of these transit lines we are building for the next generation if not the next generation of Utahns? Next up: Housing. 2-4 bedroom condos/townhouses should be the norm and somewhat affordable. Lots and Lots and LOTS of outside space for little ones is key. My kids and I walk/ride transit almost everywhere, 365 days a year. We use our car, on average, 1x a week. How many families can say that? It is healthy for us, we get exercise, there is no getting everyone in and out of carseats, if someone wants to nap or if the baby needs to nurse so be it! We just keep walking/shopping/visiting with neighbors or business owners that we see everywhere. We almost never have a plan for the day besides getting food to make for dinner, everything else is up to where the wind takes us. We have a blank slate of sorts when it comes to who we ultimately want to be as a downtown and I think it would be not only wise but so innovative to really strive to be the worlds most accessible downtown to kids. This doesn't mean that we have to exclusively cater to families, just be the very best at welcoming them. Afterall, this is Utah. We have kids. It is kind of our #1 export and we like it that way. What are your ideas for making Downtown SLC a place you would want to spend more time with your kids?

Our Birth Day. Grayson 2 Years Old!

Today is our Birth Day. Technically it is the day that Grayson was born. 2 years ago, at 3:24AM our beautiful, kind, curious, magic little boy was born into my arms, in our home, and I became a mother(and Doug a father). But in my mind, when reflecting on that day we all were born and were changed forever. We became something we weren't before. A human, a Mother and a Father. In our tiny little bathroom in the middle of the night we all had our jobs: Mine to listen to my body, and my little baby and work together to bring him into the world, and Doug's to keep the rest of the world at bay so we could transform. We all had our parts to play and in our own way were changed. So, on this day, for the rest of my days, I will always consider this day our Birth-day and lovingly so. To my littlest boy: you are everything that is good in this world. You have shown me so many wondrous things, about myself, your Dad, the world and life. I will never stop being in awe and in love with you. Mama

Monday, August 26, 2013

Reverie 5 Months!

These quite literally took us all day to finish.  We started right after breakfast and worked straight through until 1AM last night.  We took breaks for naps and to eat.  Thanks to Doug for taming the chaos and understanding just how important it is to me to do these photos from time to time.  My cell phone acts as day to day documentation of our lives but you just cannot replace having formal pics.  At least I cannot.  I love how her attitude is beginning to show.  She has been such a go getter from the beginning and I cannot believe she is almost 5 months old! 

She is our loud little one.  She made more noise in her first week than
Grayson did in his first month!  She never really had a newborn cry and
as Doug always says: "she has a set of pipes!".  She loves to have talks
 and if I don't talk to her at least for a few minutes every day(one on
one. eye contact conversation)  she gets really upset.  I always just
sigh and hope that it always remains this way even though I know it will
 not.  We are just peeking our heads out of the newborn phase and
getting back to somewhat normal life and trying our best to get some
semblance of a routine in place although with a 2 year old that is
proving difficult.  They are both such happy and curious children and I
just cannot wait to see what they do next every day!