Published in PDX Parent as Play Room

Kid to Know: Madam Governor

Did you know Oregon currently has two governors? Yes, there’s Kate Brown. And then there’s Erikka Baldwin, a fifth grader from McCornack Elementary in Eugene who was sworn in this January as Oregon’s Kid Governor. The Kid Governor program started up in Oregon two years ago by the late Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to help kids learn about civics. (That’s Richardson, at right, at Erikka’s swearing-in.) Erikka first heard about the program from her teacher, Karen Olsen, and decided to run on a platform of helping shelter pets find forever homes. First she won the spot to represent her school, then her teachers, friends and family helped her make a video explaining her three-pronged approach to getting animals out of shelters. When she was selected as a finalist, her video went public and other fifth graders across the state had the opportunity to watch all the candidates’ videos and choose who they wanted to represent them. “We weren’t allowed to necessarily campaign for ourselves like you see presidential candidates do before an election. Instead our message and our video did the campaigning for us,” says Erikka.

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Her platform hinges on raising awareness. She plans to ask fifth graders across Oregon to create posters to advertise shelter pets. Then she wants to ease the stress of being in a shelter by having kids come read to animals. “This will help the dog or cat by having a friendly kid keep them company and will also help the kids become better readers,” she notes. And finally, she wants shelter pets to come to school events as special guests to help the animals get noticed by more families who may want to adopt them.  

Since being sworn in, Erikka has had a busy term. She’s been interviewed on the radio shows Think Out Loud and Wake Up Call. She appeared on KOIN news in Portland to help adovocate for shelter pets and do the weather forecast. “Most importantly to me though was that I had the opportunity to do the Pledge of Allegiance at (Richardson’s) memorial service,” in March, says Erikka. “This was a very special moment for me because I got to be a part of honoring someone who I will never forget.” Keep up with Erikka’s accomplishments at or.kidgovernor.org. — Denise Castañon

TOP 5: Date-Night Splurges

1. At the swanky Studio One Theatres cinema in SE Portland, you can settle in to a comfy reserved seat and enjoy a cooked-to-order dinner, or just share a bucket of gourmet popcorn.   

2. Meet up at Portland Craft Bar for adults-only workshops, including making your own rope baskets and reusable gift wrap.

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3. Go see Native Gardens, the hilarious, Desperate Housewives-meets-John-Cheever take on suburban living at Portland Center Stage (opens May 18).

4. Skip the drive to Newberg and go wine tasting at Dame, the intimate new bottle shop on NE Killingsworth’s restaurant row.

5. Catch a live recording of Live Wire, Portland’s answer to A Prairie Home Companion, in its 15th anniversary season. At the Alberta Rose Theater.

 — Julia Silverman

Playlist: Let’s Hear it for the Ladies

I’m always surprised that the genre of kids’ music seems to be dominated by men. (Big stars like Laurie Berkner and Elizabeth Mitchell are the exceptions to the rule.) So this month, we’re shining a light on two new, outside-the-box albums from female artists. First up, Lissa Schneckenburger’s Thunder in My Arms is at once a beautiful and blunt meditation on raising foster and adoptive children who’ve faced trauma. The lyrics veer far from the typical bright, silly themes we see in most music for families: “And they say ‘child don’t you worry’ but if you had known what I have known/Then you would worry.” But Schneckenburger’s pure, expressive vocals imbue the album with grace and hope. This album’s exploration of the hardships and joys of being a foster parent seek to offer a measure of solace and understanding to foster parents in the thick of it.

Next up Philadephia-based duo Julie Beth and Anya Rose of Ants on a Log offer up the quirky eco-feminist album Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline! The album is actually closer to a book on tape than a straightforward compilation of songs. Inspired by real events in Philadephia, Curious tells the story of two sisters who engage in community activism to stop an oil refinery from adding more air toxins to their already polluted neighborhood. The can-do attitude of the album’s protagonists Clio and Taylor, who face multiple hurdles from adults who don’t take them seriously because of their age and gender, are sure to inspire any activists-in-training in your house.  — D.C.

Gear Guide: Take-a-Seat

The Chicco KeyFit30 ranks year after year as one of the best infant car seats around for value and ease of use. Four to 30 pounds, up to 30 inches. $199.99.

The Britax B-Safe 35 has a smaller footprint than many car seats, so it’s a great pick if you have a compact car. And it’s also a good choice if you have a taller baby. Four to 35 pounds, up to 32 inches. $219.99.

The UPPAbaby MESA is five-star ranked by the National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration for ease of use for correct installation. You won’t even have to rethread the harness straps as your baby grows. The seat fabric is also moisture-wicking — a great perk for summer road warriors. Four to 35 pounds, up to 32 inches. $349.99.

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 is not only light on your wallet, but light to carry, too, making this a smart choice if you’ll be toting a car seat up and down stairs. The higher weight and height limits also make this seat a long-lasting value. Four to 35 pounds, up to 32 inches. $149.99. — D.C.

Bookshelf:  The Author Next Door

Turns out, your kid’s favorite author just might be your neighbor. The Portland area is home to any number of kid-lit superstars. Here, Kim Tano and Madeline Shier, the children’s book buyers at Powell’s, our city’s beloved independent bookstore, single out a few of their new favorites.

The Good Egg by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald

Author Jory John has written 15 children’s books, including Penguin Problems, Giraffe Problems, the middle reader series, The Terrible Two, and this wonderfully charming picture book sequel to The Bad Seed. The titular Good Egg puts so much pressure on himself to help everyone else be so very good that he cracks and eventually realizes he has to take care of himself first. Pro tip: Jory John’s next book, That’s What Dinosaurs Do, also illustrated by Pete Oswald, will be coming out later this month. $17.99.

The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol

Illustrator Vera Brosgol has been a storyboard artist with local film company Laika on feature films like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. She won an Eisner Award for her debut graphic novel, Anya’s Ghost, and a Caldecott Honor for her first picture book, Leave Me Alone! Her latest, The Little Guys, follows a group of tiny forest dwellers who already know they can accomplish anything if they work together, but need a little lesson in being kind to the others around them. $17.99.

The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies by Kyle Sullivan and Derek Sullivan

Twin brothers Kyle and Derek Sullivan split their time between Portland and Seattle. A charming collaborative debut about facing one’s fears, The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies — the Sullivans’ first foray into picture books — is a perfect read for kids who look forward to Halloween all year round. $17.95.

Science Comics: Wild Weather: Storms, Meteorology, and Climate by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill

We love the Science Comics series! Covering topics from dinosaurs and sharks to volcanoes and coral reefs, each volume is educational for children and adults. In Wild Weather, MK Reed and Jonathan Hill explain the very complicated topics of storms, meteorology and climate, from how sleet is formed to how meteorologists predict the weather. Best for ages 10 and up. $19.99.

Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat by Emily Chenoweth, Johnny Marciano and Robb Mommaerts

Author Emily Chenoweth has made her way from Ohio to New York to Portland. She’s now making the journey from adult fiction (Hello Goodbye) to kids’ books with her new series, Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat. The first two books of Klawde’s adventures are available now, and follow the former High Commander of a distant planet of warring cats through his exile on planet Earth — namely Elba, Oregon. Kids who love Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man or Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys series should definitely give Klawde a try. $14.99.

Good Deeds: Listen Up, Pup

It is hard to imagine a sweeter, more photogenic kid-friendly volunteer opportunity than this one. Sign your emerging reader up to read to a certified therapy dog at your local Multnomah County Library branch. (Call 503-988-5123 to find the next opening at a branch near you.) Kids get to practice their reading in front of a completely non-judgemental audience; doggies get practice being around unfamiliar humans, and in listening attentively. Cuddles and petting encouraged (Just check out Archimedes, the snuggle puppy in the picture here). That’s a win-win all around. — J.S.

Chalkboard: Baby Bust?

The birth rates are falling! The birth rates are falling! OK, OK, Chicken Little. Calm down. After all, it’s not like zero babies were born in Oregon last year. In fact, there were more than 42,000 new little Oregonians in 2018. But that is about 7,000 fewer babies than just about a decade ago. That doesn’t mean that last year’s crop of new babies will get plenty of elbow room when it’s time for kindergarten, since about 50,000 people or so per year move to Oregon from elsewhere, plenty of whom arrive with kiddos. But the decline in the birth rate is making people take notice. So why is it happening? Well, for one thing, women in Oregon and around the country are putting off having their first babies for longer, in favor of careers, school and life. That means that when women do get around to having kids, they’re having fewer of them, since they’ve got fewer child-bearing years left. And while the recession of 2008 may have mostly receded, it still left its scars. Having a baby is expensive, starting with child care and lasting all the way through college, and for many millennials who can’t even afford to buy a house in Portland’s still-overheated market, adding a child may feel out of reach.  — J.S.

Apps We Love: Just Breathe

It seems like everyone we know is using a guided meditation app these days, extolling the virtues of Calm or Headspace. Turns out, tuning into a mind/body connection is great for kids, too. Check out these apps developed to help the short set do just that.

Breathe, Think and Do with Sesame Best for toddlers and preschoolers, this app features familiar Sesame Street characters teaching kids how to deal with frustration and stress. Kids get to help a cuddly blue monster make the best possible choices; the app also includes some deep breathing exercises to help kids — and their new monster best friend — calm down from big emotions. Plus, it’s available in English and Spanish. iOS and Android. Free.

Meditations for Kids Great for elementary-school-aged kids and up, this is a guided meditation app including exercises that invite kids to move, stretch and make noise, along with help for coping with situations from being scared of the dark to not wanting to sit still in school. iOS and Android. 99 cents. — J.S.

Ask Dr Doug

Q: I am having so much trouble with breastfeeding. She’s our second, and feeding is painful and very different from our first. We’ve seen two lactation consultants, and both were concerned that she might have a tongue tie. Our pediatrician isn’t so sure. I’m not sure what to do. Any advice?      

A: You’re not alone in feeling confused about this. Most of the recent debate around tongue tie comes from a good place ­— a desire to help moms meet their breastfeeding goals, but without performing unnecessary procedures. Both concerns are important, so let’s think through this.

First, what is a tongue tie? We all have a band of tissue under our tongue that connects to the floor of our mouth, called the frenulum. When that tissue is too short, too tight, or too far forward, it impacts tongue movement, and can be called restrictive. Tongue tie can lead to pain with breastfeeding, feeds that take a long time due to poor milk transfer, reflux symptoms from swallowing air, or poor weight gain for your baby.

Ultrasound data shows us that the middle of the tongue moving up and down is the most important part of getting milk when nursing at the breast. That means the old idea of, “If your baby can stick out his tongue, he’s fine” isn’t true. And you can’t diagnose tongue tie from a photo. It’s a functional diagnosis, taking into account how the tongue moves and how it fits with the breast.

Why the recent uptick in diagnosing tongue tie? When you know better, you do better. There are many reasons breastfeeding may not be going well, but in the past when someone might have said, “It hurt too much so I stopped” or “I’m pumping plenty but he never seems to get enough from the breast,” tongue tie may have been playing a role — it’s just that no one looked for it.

You may have heard the terms anterior and posterior ties. This has to do with where the shortened tissue attaches to the tongue. Anterior ties are visible when babies cry and they’re hard to miss. Posterior ties are not mysterious or made up — you just have to know how to properly examine a baby’s oral function and anatomy to diagnose them. Posterior ties are further back under the tongue, and can result in a poor latch or uncoordinated suck. There may or may not be much pain. Usually feeds take a long time, as milk transfer from the breast may be inefficient. Some babies may have issues with bottle feeding as well.

There are many other reasons breastfeeding may not be going well (the list is long!), and that’s why it’s so important to take a team-based approach with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant before deciding how to proceed. If after skilled lactation help, you feel a release is warranted, your doctor could perform a quick procedure in the office called a frenotomy, where he or she snips the frenulum. This releases the tension on the tongue, improving mobility and resulting in less pain for a mother and better transfer of milk.

I hope you have a supportive team as you navigate these decisions. And please remember there are lots of ways to feed a baby, and no mom should feel shamed for her feeding choices. Parenthood is challenging enough without adding more judgement!

PDX Parent Staff
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