Published as Play Room in PDX Parent magazine


Kids to Know: The Roller-skating Dynasty

For 15-year-old Annie MacKay and her cousin 16-year-old David Hamblin, roller skating is more than a competitive sport, it’s a family tradition. The two competed in the World Roller Skating Championships in France last October, earning the 6th spot (in the world!) in the Junior Couples Dance category. Oh yeah, and they were the youngest couple in the competition. “Our mothers were both competitive roller skaters, so we were practically born with skates on. Basically as soon as we could walk, we could roll,” says Hamblin, who attends Roosevelt High School. Plus David’s brothers Charlie and Bobby, and Annie’s sister Susie, are all competitive skaters, too! David’s mom, Amy, is their coach, so the whole family is at practice together at the Oaks Park roller rink. The two get rolling four days a week in the early season, then ramp it up to six days a week when a big competition is looming.

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Their family members keep a close eye on their progress, especially Annie’s mom, Emily MacKay, who is the Marketing and Events Manager at Oaks Amusement Park. “That our moms are there [at practice] all the time and can have a flow between work and skating is huge,” says MacKay. Hamblin adds, “There is no place in the world (literally!) that gives its skaters more support than Oaks Park. We would not be the skaters we are without The Oaks.” — Denise Castañon

Playlist: Bilingual Beats

What sets Mi Amigo Hamlet’s album Happy Land is Tierra Feliz apart from other bilingual records is the high level of musicianship. This is no watered down rumba and merengue for kids, but real deal Latin music with fun and educational lyrics preschoolers will adore. The title track from Guatemalan-born Hamlet Meneses starts things off, with strong and infectious Latin beats that keep rolling through the whole album. And I dare you and your kids not to start dancing  when the bongos come in on the song Los Instrumentos. — D.C.

TOP 5 Sources for Valentine’s Day Inspo

➊ The kits at Paper Source feel handmade, but are easy for the crafts-challenged to put together. 
➋ Local art supply store chain-let Collage is bursting with Valentine-themed stickers, stamps and other goodies. 
➌ Many local libraries sponsor Valentine-making parties in the first half of this month — check websites (and page 47) for more info. 
➍ Spend an afternoon at SCRAP in downtown Portland, where donated and recycled art supplies can be repurposed into fun and creative valentines. 
➎ Visit PNW-chain Craft Warehouse’s stores in Beaverton and Gresham for great deals on supplies for an at-home card-making party. — Julia Silverman

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Getaway: Leavenworth, Washington

In most people’s minds, the small, North Cascades-set town of Leavenworth, Washington, is a stage-set, a series of picture-perfect Bavarian-themed storefronts, thanks to the former logging stronghold’s decision to recast itself as a bit of the Black Forest in the PNW. But look more closely, beyond the beer steins and gingerbread trim, and you’ll find an authentically family-friendly getaway, set in one of the most beautiful pockets of our region.

Start your visit with a horse-drawn sleigh ride at lovely Eagle Creek Farms, about eight miles from downtown Leavenworth. Warm up afterwards with some hot cider by their wood stove. Or book a tour at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where it’s Christmas all year long and the resident Rudolphs will happily graze right from your hand. Keep the snowy theme going with a family hike at the nearby Icicle River, including a stop at a local fish hatchery that releases more than a million salmon every year, or just meander along the signed trails at the city’s Waterfront Park, where there are strategically placed benches for snack breaks. Visiting in the winter means that you can hit up the Leavenworth Ski Hill, which has a 100-foot tubing hill, with rental tubes on site (and the requisite hot cocoa afterwards at the Ski Hill Lodge).

For indoor fun, check out the town’s one-of-a-kind Nutcracker Museum, with thousands of different Nutcrackers on display. Don’t forget to pick up a surprisingly difficult scavenger hunt guide at the museum before you enter. When it is time to fuel up your crew, check out the Leavenworth Cider House, which has a short-but-sweet kids’ menu and an indoor play area.

And don’t miss the Gingerbread Factory, with its candy-bedecked gingerbread houses available year-round. Finally, give in to the whole Bavarian-theme thing with a stay at the Bavarian Lodge, smack in the middle of downtown, which has an outdoor heated pool and make-your-own-waffles at breakfast time. — J.S.

Good Deeds: Kicks for Kids

Portland is sneaker nirvana, thanks to Nike, Adidas, KEEN, and any number of smaller companies that have flocked to our small corner of the globe. But not every kid can afford a spanking new pair of kicks every time their feet grow. (Memo to kids: Man, your feet grow fast! It’s hard to keep up.) That’s where My New Red Shoes comes in. After starting up in the Bay Area, the nonprofit expanded to the Portland area in 2015, serving students in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. Since then, more than 2,000 kids in our region have received new shoes and clothing, via the organization’s “Clothing for Confidence” program. They partner with local shelters, schools and service organizations to reach kids, including familiar names like the Immigrant Refugee Community Organization, and Impact NW’s Schools Uniting Neighborhoods programs.

You can help: Donations of new athletic shoes of any size for kids ages 5 to 18 are always welcome. They also hold regular volunteer events, where volunteers help pack up bags for students, including a new pair of shoes and a handmade card with well wishes, packaged in a fabric bag that can do double duty as a pillowcase. There’s no age limit for volunteers, and events are held throughout the year, usually when groups get in touch with offers to help. Follow them on Instagram for more information on upcoming volunteer opportunities via @mynewredshoes or get in touch with Portland Director Michela Bedard at [email protected] — J.S.

Chalkboard: Child Care Prices

You don’t need us to tell you that day care and preschool are expensive. But just in case, a new report from the Oregon Department of Health Services bears that out. According to researchers from Oregon State University, prices increased markedly for just about every age and type of care over the past 25 years. Day care centers, which employ multiple staff members and often offer parents the longest hours and the most flexibility, saw the greatest price increases, with prices increasing faster than inflation in the last 10 years, particularly for infant and toddler care. Still, in-home centers weren’t too far behind; while prices stabilized somewhat during the recession of 2008-2012, they’ve been on the rise since then, even for small, in-home caregivers. So how much are you paying? Well, hourly prices for small, home-based toddler care rose from $1.75 to $3.50 in the past 25 years, while for center-based care, the price jumped from $544 a month to $1,400 a month for full-time care. Researchers also found that it matters where you live. In Portland and its suburbs, where salaries are higher and the job market is more varied, you’ll pay more for child care than you would in rural Oregon. — J.S.

Apps We Love: Color and Create

Drawing Pad by Murtha Design, Inc.

A simple and versatile drawing app that will let your kids doodle away. Kids can choose from a variety of drawing tools such as pencils, crayons, markers and even stickers. iPad, Android, Kindle Fire. $1.99.

Faces iMake – Right Brain Creativity by iMagine Machine Israel LTD

Kids can create collage portraits using everyday objects in imaginative ways — think macaroni art for digital natives. iPad. $2.99.

Toca Hair Salon Me by Toca Boca AB

This app allows kids to insert photos of themselves (or you, or your pet) and then creatively wash, cut, curl and color hair. (Younger kids may need help sizing and lining up face images.) Get ready to see what you’d look like with a curly rainbow mohawk! iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire. $3.99. — D.C.

Ask Dr. Doug

Q: We recently had our first baby, and while those first weeks were hard, she was sleeping for five- to six-hour stretches at night by the time she was 3 months. She’s 4 months now, and now she’s waking up every two to three hours again. Is this the dreaded 4-month sleep regression? What should we do? 

A: Sleep issues are one of the most common questions I tackle in my practice, and for good reason. A good night’s rest is essential to not just feeling functional the next day for us as parents, but for overall health, brain development and growth for our kids.

What you’re describing is 100 percent normal, and is based on how sleep changes in babies as they grow.

Newborns spend their sleep time between active sleep (REM sleep) and quiet (deep) sleep.

But at around four months, their sleep phases become more like ours — light sleep, down into deep sleep, then up into dreaming sleep for a sleep cycle. This means 4-month-olds spend much more time in light sleep, with more chances to wake up during the night. Some babies put themselves back to sleep without a peep, but most don’t!

If babies are used to falling asleep a certain way, when they come up to light sleep, they want those same conditions recreated. This is called a sleep association. The analogy I like to use is if we went to sleep in our beds and woke up at 2 a.m. on the living room floor, we wouldn’t just roll over and go back to sleep (well, maybe we would as sleep-deprived parents).

In the same way, if babies fall completely asleep while nursing, or while being rocked, often they’ll wake more at night and need our help getting back to sleep.

Four- to 5-½-months-old is a perfect time to make sure your bedtime routine is consistent and predictable and to work on sleep associations at bedtime.

Try to get your baby down where you want her to sleep for the night (while sleepy, but still a bit awake), so she can feel comfortable falling asleep on her own. Often bedtimes naturally move earlier at that age, too.

If she is rolling consistently, you need to wean her out of the swaddle. This can be its own challenge, but there are lots of transitional swaddles to try that may help.

Please remember the safest sleep environment for an infant is a flat, firm surface next to your bed, with no blankets or soft bumpers.

Keep in mind there is no one off-the-shelf solution for sleep problems at each age. Be sensitive to your routine, your goals and your child’s temperament. Some babies are laid back and regardless of what we do, they’ll progress towards longer and more independent sleep. Some are a bit less into the whole nighttime thing, and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

And please don’t be shy about bringing up sleep issues with your pediatrician. My goal is always to take care of the whole child, and I frequently spend entire visits just focused on sleep. Here’s hoping for more sweet slumber for your little one!

PDX Parent Staff
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