Top 5: Late-Summer Art Encounters

➊ Handmade clothing and art, live music and a kids-only play zone pop up in the Beaumont neighborhood during Fremont Fest, August 3.     
➋ Little pickers will go wild over 120-plus booths of flea market finds at Junk Refunk Street Market, also August 3, in downtown Canby.     
➌  Sate that Old Portland nostalgia at the long-lived Alberta Street Fair August 10, teeming with street buskers and local artisans.    
➍  Get hands-on at Gateway Discovery Park during a free Art Workshop on the Porch August 10, focused on ethnic art designs.    
➎  Celebrate Oregon’s colorful heritage at the eclectic Oregon City Festival of the Arts August 10-11.  — Erin J. Bernard

Good Deeds: Miles for Mom Lawyers

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If you’ve read recent news reports about the conditions in which asylum-seeking children are being detained at the border, you’re probably feeling alternately heartsick and infuriated … and wondering just what you can do to help. (We know we are.) One easy, but significant, way you can contribute: Get lawyer moms to the border. The organization Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG) is partnering with Lawyer Moms of America through L4GG’s Project Corazon. They are funding trips to the detainment centers at the border for lawyers who are working pro bono to help migrant families who have been separated. Here’s how you can help: Pledge to donate your airline miles for their travel. Go to lawyersforgoodgovernment.org/donatemiles and fill out the form. Someone will contact you when your miles are needed. — Denise Castañon

Gear Guide: Pint-Sized Packin’ 

Pre-K jitters, begone! Your preschooler will stand just a little taller in one of these back-to-school pack picks, which riff on big-kid sensibilities but are designed with smaller bodies — and that bright-and-busy preschool color palette — in mind.

A backpack and a clunky lunch bag? That’s lots for small hands to manage. Lighten the load with the Wildkin Pack ’n Snack, featuring a food-friendly insulated front pocket. $32.99. Available at Target and wildkin.com.

Havoc-prone kids will love the compact, built-to-last Tough Traveler Kiddy Pack. Parents sing the praises of these American-made packs, which can endure for decades. $46. Available at toughtraveler.com.

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Discerning preschoolers will dig the sleek-and-simple STATE Mini Kane Backpack, whose bright color palettes lend fashion-conscious pre-K kiddos some serious hipster cred. $60. Available at statebags.com.  

Battling backpack resistance? Coax your kids into cozy animal-themed bags from Skip Hop’s Zoo Collection, but beware: They might never agree to take them off again. Matching bottles and lunch bags available. $20. Available at skiphop.com.  — E.J.B.

Ask Dr. Doug 

Q: My sixth grader is begging me to get a smartphone. Some of her friends had iPhones when they were in elementary school! I have also read recent news reports that kids who use social media are more depressed. I worry about what she could be exposed to, and I’m not sure how to handle it. What do you usually recommend?        

A:  First, congratulations on thinking this through. Too often, the introduction of smartphones and social media is a knee-jerk decision without considering the risks and benefits.

Smartphones and social media are not going anywhere. And I think we all would agree there are many benefits to them, including being able to connect with friends and family. Fretting about new technology isn’t new — from TV to video games to AOL Instant Messenger, every generation has worried about what new technology the next is using, and if it might be harmful. 

At the same time, there are real risks to unlimited smartphone access. There is good evidence that screen use impairs our sleep (us included). The “always on” mentality of having to post and comment means many kids struggle with anxiety around use. (FOMO is real — some of us just get better at caring less as we get older.) Kids who already struggle with anxiety and depression, and who may not have as many social supports offline, tend to struggle with social media use and may suffer through cyberbullying.

Here is what I usually advise thinking about. First, wait if you can. A few extra years of not having an Instagram account are not going to irreparably harm your child. A great resource for this is Wait Until 8th, (waituntil8th.org) an organization that encourages delaying introducing smartphones until kids are ready for high school. 

If using screens at home with younger children, parental controls are a must. Unsupervised access to YouTube is a bad idea, regardless of how much they love the latest star. As parents, we want to be able to have discussions with our kids about more mature topics at the right pace, when they are developmentally ready. 

Once kids get to eighth and ninth grade, they can probably get around our controls — remember watching horror movies at your friend’s house after your parents had said no? It’s important to start before then with open-ended discussions about how they would handle certain situations, including bullying and healthy body images. Lay the foundation that they can talk to you about these topics, and stress the values that are important in your family. They will roll their eyes, but I assure you they are listening. 

Adolescents’ developmental tasks center on trying out new identities and starting to figure out “who am I?” That means separating from parents, and that means privacy. I think it’s reasonable at this age to expand the highway from two lanes to four, but keep the guardrails up. And state that technology is a privilege, not a right. 

Rather than ban all social media, be curious and ask them to show you how they use Instagram and Snapchat. If you have an older high schooler, ask them what a finsta is! Give them examples of how nothing is ever really private once shared. Thinking through consequences is not the strong suit of the adolescent brain.

Teens crave connection with peers, and that’s not a bad thing. Let’s help them connect in ways that are healthy and help them grow while teaching them what we value and what’s important.    

Playlist: Portland Rocks!

Let’s just go ahead and call it. Portland has the best independent music scene for kids in the country. This month we’re looking at three new albums from local artists.

Connectedness to nature plays heavily on the album Can You Feel It? from newcomers Jessa Campbell and the Saplings. And tracks Waltz of Trillium and Ant and Goodnight Pacific Northwest speak specifically to the flora and fauna in our particular neck of the woods. (Shout out to local treasure Paul Brainard for his dreamy steel guitar on that last track.) Campbell, mom to a 2-year-old son, delivers pure and enchanting vocals on each song, all of which she also wrote and arranged. Catch Jessa Campbell at Pickathon, and Know Thy Food on Mondays at 10:30 am.

From the rollicking GO! to the slow-tempo groove of Dark Divide, the album Amongst the Tall Trees from Pointed Man Band is “kids’ music” that grown-ups can enjoy as much as their tiny counterparts. Also, Pointed Man Band is the epitome of Portlandness — a little quirky and crunchy, but ultra-cool. And nature and hope are big themes on the album and collide perfectly in the song Eagle Creek. Catch Pointed Man Band on the second Saturday of the month at Mississippi Pizza.

From the outdoors to … robots. Ants Ants Ants recently released The Robot EP, with four tracks that your bot-obsessed kid will love. The super fun songs have a techno/disco feel with lyrics about robots snoozing, dreaming and cutting a rug. Catch Ants Ants Ants Thursday, August 1, at 10:30 am at Sellwood Library. — D.C.

Bookshelf: Graphics to Grab

Don’t call ’em comic books! With their amazing illustrations and compelling storylines, graphic novels are a true treat for readers of all ages. Here, Kim Tano and Madeline Shier, the children’s book buyers at Powell’s, Portland’s favorite independent bookstore, pick their favorite new graphic novels for kids.

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen 

A gorgeous first graphic novel published by Oni Press, a Portland graphic novel publisher. Pilu of the Woods explores how to process feelings (which manifest for Willow in the form of little monsters), which can grow and take over if we don’t confront them. For ages 8 and up. $12.99.

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

On the night of the Autumn Equinox Festival, townspeople float their paper lanterns down the local river. Five boys on bikes swear this will be the year they discover where the lanterns end up. As the evening passes, some turn back. But Ben and Nathaniel stick together to embark on a magical adventure in this cinematic graphic novel, reminiscent of Miyazaki films and Japanese folklore. For ages 10 and up. $14.99.

Glitch by Sarah Graley

Izzy and her best friend, Eric, can’t wait to play the new version of Dragon City. When Izzy grows impatient waiting for Eric and starts playing alone, she finds herself in the middle of the video game! Can she save her friendship in the real world and defeat the boss battle in the video game world? For ages 8 and up. $14.99.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Fans of Telgemeier’s earlier books and signature charm are sure to fall in love with Guts, but it’s perfect for new readers, too! Raina’s fifth grade year is marked by anxiety: she’s afraid of throwing up, scared to eat anything that might upset her stomach, and nervous about her classmates finding out she goes to therapy. That anxiety won’t magically disappear, but Raina — along with her readers — can learn to manage it. For ages 8 and up. $24.99.Sea Sirens written by Amy Chu and illustrated by Janet K. Lee 

This beautifully illustrated adventure (akin to an underwater Wizard of Oz) features a Vietnamese-American protagonist. When a giant wave sweeps surfer Trot under, she and her grumpy rescue cat, Cap’n Bill, are saved by Sea Sirens and taken to their incredible underwater kingdom. But danger awaits: The Sirens are at war with the Serpents, who lurk in the darkest deeps. For ages 8 and up. $20.99.

Just Jaime by Terri Libenson 

Middle school is tough enough as part of a close-knit clique. But when your best friend texts you that you’ve been voted out? That’s world-shattering. It’s the last day of seventh grade, and Jaime is alone — or is she? Maybe she has more friends than she thinks — friends who don’t need her to be anything but Jaime. For ages 8 and up. $12.99. 

Chalkboard: Back-to-School Bucks

Kids. They’re expensive. And back-to-school is one of those times of the year when you feel it most acutely. According to the Deloitte Center for Industry Insights, parents are spending more than $500 on basics like pencils, markers and paper, as well as on new clothes and shoes. Meanwhile, teachers are also spending to prep classrooms and buy extra supplies for students who cannot afford them. The local nonprofit Schoolhouse Supplies helps teachers offset the upfront cost of a new school year by holding “shopping sessions” at its Free Store for Teachers. Educators from districts including David Douglas, Portland Public and Reynolds can gather everything from binders to notebooks to art supplies, for free. Schoolhouse Supplies also offers a list of resources for parents who need help filling their children’s school supply list. Families in the Wilson cluster can register for the Grauer Back-to-School Project at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. And kids who need new back-to-school duds can “Shop with a Cop” through the Sunshine Division. Visit schoolhousesupplies.org for their full list of resources.  — D.C.

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