Play Room. January 2016

Kid cholesterol tests, a playlist for calorie-burning and the stats on premature births in Oregon.

Take Five: Shafia Monroe
Getaway: Hot Springs Havens
TOP 5…Messy Art Studios
Bookshelf: Health Matters
Gear Guide: Hot Mitts
Good Deeds: Day of Service
Bookmark This: Running With Tongs
Playlist: Move It
Ask Dr. Corey
We Recommend

Take Five: Shafia Monroe

Play_Room_-_Take_5-jan16Being a midwife has been Shafia Monroe’s life’s work. Horrified by the infant and maternal mortality rates in the African American community, she decided to empower mothers by becoming certified as a midwife. Monroe was inspired by the work of 19th century African American midwives, and wanting to follow in their footsteps, she founded the Portland-based International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) in 1991.

Q: What’s the mission of the ICTC?

A: The ICTC’s mission is to increase the number of Black midwives, doulas and healers in order to reduce infant and maternal mortality and increase breastfeeding rates. We have state representatives in Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, California, Illinois, Virginia, and Oregon, and internationally in Columbia and Haiti.

Q: Why is it important for women of color to have access to culturally conscious midwives?

A: Women of color and their families benefit when cultural understanding is demonstrated by their health care provider/midwife. Women of color have historically received poor treatment in the medical industry, creating lack of trust in the system; the providers don’t understand the priorities of women of color, or their foods, traditions or family values. Accessing culturally conscious midwives increases trust for pregnant women of color, and decreases stress that has proven to negatively affect pregnancy outcomes.

Q: ICTC has sent a delegation of midwives to Sierra Leone. What kind of work did the group do there?

A: The purpose of the ICTC midwife delegation was to share prenatal care practices with the midwives of Sierra Leone. We stayed in the Yele Village and worked with approximately 24 midwives. We found that they provided prenatal care from their cultural lens, and we added the Western method of prenatal care to support better birth outcomes, focusing on hydration and caloric intake for a healthier pregnancy and birth experience.

Q: Grammy-winner and holistic healer Erykah Badu has worked as your spokesperson. How has she helped address the need for more midwives of color?

A: Erykah Badu has lent her name and time to the ICTC, to help reduce infant mortality, increase awareness on the use of doulas and midwives and to promote breastfeeding. She has been featured in numerous media feeds, attends our international Black Midwives and Healer Conferences as our keynote speaker and tweets about her work as a doula, and about the ICTC Full Circle Doula Birth Companion training program.

Q: How many doulas have you trained?

A: I created the ICTC Full Circle Doula/Birth Companion training in 2002 with the goal of having a diverse workforce for families to pull from. Since that time, I have trained over 1,800 doulas.

— Denise Castañon

Getaway: Hot Springs Havens


Baby, it’s cold outside! Warm up with a visit to one of the hot springs that dot the landscape around Oregon and SW Washington — potent reminders of the geothermal promise that lurks just below the surface around the region. One potential day trip is to the well-loved Bagby Hot Springs, 40 miles or so southeast of Estacada — note that there is a $5 per person fee, payable at the trailhead. The hike to get there is a pretty level 1.5 miler, on a trail wide enough for a stroller that parallels a fork of the Collawash River. Once you’re in, you’ll find both private tubs, carved out of cedar logs, and communal pools — but this is a popular spot, so if you’re there on a weekend, be prepared to wait in line (and possibly deal with some public nudity or intoxication. There are regular patrols now, which has tamped down the party atmosphere considerably). If you’re willing to venture a little farther afield, keep driving to Breitenbush Hot Springs, east of Detroit and about a 2.5-hour drive from Portland. Here, you can rent a no-frills cabin for your family, and eat their hearty, vegetarian, buffet style meals, and soak to your heart’s content in several different pools (some are clothing optional, and some are adults only.) There’s a library for taking shelter once you are done soaking, and trails through the surrounding Willamette National Forest to explore, but no TV or Wi-Fi — this is a get-away-from-it-all kind of place. Day passes are also available.

— Julia Silverman

TOP 5…Messy Art Studios

Play_Room_-_Top5-jan16➊ Hit up weekday morning drop-ins at Spark Arts Center for the preschool set.

Portland Child Art Studio includes clay in its art supplies at its Friday and Saturday open studio time.

➌ There are no time or supply limits at Art a la Carte in Vancouver’s “all you can make” art bar.

Smartypants offers a drop-in open studio complete with “sensory stations.”

➎ Older kids will dig projects (like building a robot) at The Craft Factory in Multnomah Village.

— D.C.

Bookshelf: Health Matters

Kim Tano and Richard Corbett, the children’s book buyers for Powell’s Books, Portland’s favorite independent bookstore, spend their days digging through the best in kid lit. Here are their top picks for kid books about making healthy choices. Find these selections at Powell’s Books, 1005 W Burnside St., or online at And don’t miss Saturday storytimes at 11 am.

Ages 0-4

Playroom-Bookshelf-BookofSleep-jan16Zzzzz: A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

Told from the perspective of a watchful night owl, this lullaby of a board book checks in on how different animals drop off to sleep — some sleep standing up, others while moving, still others with eyes wide open. Kids can spot the owl on every page — until the very end, where the sun comes up and the owl drifts off to slumber. A delicately illustrated book to teach kids about the vital importance of a good night’s sleep. $6.99.

Playroom-IWillNeverNotEver-jan16I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato by Lauren Child

Lovable Lola is a VERY picky eater — she doesn’t like carrots or mashed potatoes and especially not tomatoes. But her big brother Charlie has a plan — those aren’t carrots, those are orange twiglets from Jupiter! And silly Lola, those mashed potatoes are cloud fluff from atop Mount Fuji. This iconic book from Child, an acclaimed British writer/illustrator, will crack up even the pickiest of eaters. $6.99.

Ages 4-8

PlayRoom-Bookshelf-IamYoga-jan16I Am Yoga by Susan Verde

A great book for kids to become aware of the mind-body connection in a noncompetitive and playful way. This beautifully illustrated book (Peter H. Reynolds also illustrated the popular Judy Moody early reader series) flows through the importance of flexibility, strengthening, relaxing and centering. A kid friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included. $6.99.

Playroom-UnboredAdventureCover-jan16Unbored Adventure: 70 Seriously Fun Activities for Kids and Their Families by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen

This book is packed with great suggestions for young adventurers and their grown-ups — from urban exploring and outdoor survivalist skills to sustainable crafts and excerpts from classic children’s literature. Get outside, get active and explore, with the third in the highly recommended Unbored series. $16.

Ages 8-12

Playroom-Bookshelf-Body_Book_for_Boys-jan16The Body Book for Boys by Jonathan Mar and Grace Norwich

This is an essential advice book for boys ages 10 and up, teaching them in a very matter-of-fact manner about their changing bodies. Get the facts on everything from deepening voices to chest hair. It comes complete with quizzes to test your knowledge, too. $8.99.

Playroom-Bookshelf-The_Care_&_Keeping_of_You-Revised-jan16.png`American Girl The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls by Valorie Schaefer

From the very popular American Girls series comes this fun and comprehensive guide to changing bodies appropriate for girls ages 8 and up. Need to know about pimples and periods, healthy eating and hair care? It’s all in here. (Older girls, ages 10 and up, might check out volume 2.) $12.99.

Gear Guide: Hot Mitts

Gloves and mittens that go beyond the basic with inspired design or technical touches.

Play_Room_-_Gear_-_glommit-jan16Cabela’s Kids’ Windproof Glomitts

The dexterity of a fingerless glove meets up with the warmth of a mitten in this hybrid hand warmer. Perfect for chilly outings when kids will need the use of their fingers, but want to stay warm the rest of the time. $14.99.

Play_Room_-_gear_-_Liam_&_Isla-jan16Liam & Isla Snap Collection

Toddlers and mittens, how do you keep them together? With this super-smart snap-into-coat system. The toasty fleece mittens are waterproof, insulated and feature grips on the palms. The coat is a warm poly-fleece blend and features sweet, decorative details. From $50 for coat and mittens.

Play_Room_-_Gear_-_NorthFace-jan16The North Face Denali Thermal Etip Gloves for Girls or Boys

Even in the teeth-chattering temps, your tweens and teens can keep swiping with touch-screen compatible fleece. The palms of the glove help them keep a secure hold with a special sure-grip fabric. $29.

— D.C.

Good Deeds: Day of Service

Play_Room_-_Good_Deeds-jan16Teaching your kids about giving to others less fortunate is a lesson best taught hands on — and early. So this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day volunteer with your family at Northwest Children’s Outreach. This volunteer opportunity allows children as young as 4 years old to serve others. You’ll be sorting and packing up donations of clothes, books, diapers and toys that will go directly to children in need. Do note that Northwest Children’s Outreach is a religious organization, and volunteer sessions may begin with a short prayer. For more information on donating directly to them, visit

To reserve a spot for the Monday, January 18 volunteer sessions, visit

— D.C.

Bookmark This: Running With Tongs

Play_Room_-_Bookmark_This-jan16Like many people, blogger Lindsay Ingalls has struggled with her weight. After studying to be a holistic life coach and following a vegan diet, she had found a balance and achieved a healthy weight, but having children threw her for a loop. “On the one hand having children has made me even more focused on living a healthy and active lifestyle,” says Ingalls. “On the other hand there is the weight gain due to pregnancy, the struggling to lose the baby weight, and learning how to balance taking care of myself and my family.” And blogging about her challenges and successes keeps this Southeast Portland mom of two honest. Her journey may inspire you to try one of her plant-based recipes or be more active with your kids. In one post on the Jeff Galloway run/walk method of taking short walking breaks during races, she writes, “I may never run a race without walking or be an elite runner but I am a runner. I run for me. I run for fun. I run to release stress. I run because it gives me joy and I run/walk because it’s what works for me.”

— D.C.

Playlist: Move It

earbuds-playroom-jan16Hitting the gym or the track for the first time in a long time? Pop in your earbuds, cause these songs are perfect for mamas and papas to keep pumped through a hard workout. (Take note: There are some “not suitable for kids” lyrics here!)

Burn – Ellie Goulding
Right Now – Rihanna and David Guetta
Work B**ch – Britney Spears
Mama Said Knock You Out – LL Cool J
Good Feeling – Flo Rida
SexyBack – Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
Dogs Days Are Over Florence and the Machine
Lose Yourself – Eminem
Jump Around – House of Pain
Let’s Go – Calvin Harris and Ne-Yo
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

— D.C.

Chalkboard: Early Birds


Good news/bad news here, folks. The good news is that Oregon’s rate of babies being born prematurely (or before 37 weeks for a singleton) is the lowest in the nation, according to a new study from the March of Dimes, well below the national average. Put it another way: More than twice as many babies are born too early in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, the worst-performing states in the study, as in Oregon. That matters because complications from early births are one of the leading causes of death for infants; of course, many prematurely born babies survive and thrive, but some do struggle with breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss and intellectual delays. So how did Oregon hit this milestones? It’s partly due to a joint effort by the state’s hospitals, who have agreed to not induce birth or schedule C-sections until a woman is at least 39 weeks pregnant, unless it is medically necessary. Oregon has also been experimenting with efforts to convince pregnant woman to stop smoking — in Eugene, one clinic has even experimented with paying women up to $200 to stop smoking during pregnancy, with good results. But the outlook isn’t all rosy. Black and Native American women had higher rates of premature birth in Oregon, hovering around 10 percent. State officials say they’ll continue outreach programs to improve those numbers, and the March of Dimes says its goal is to see a national rate of just over 8 percent by 2020.

— J. S.

Ask Dr. Corey

Q: I see that the AAP is now recommending that kids get their cholesterol levels tested as soon as age 11. This seems early to me. Can you explain?

Playroom-AskDr.Corey_jan16A: If you have a child 9 to 11 years old, you may have heard from their physician that a cholesterol test be done as part of their checkup. If you’re anything like most people, the usual response is, “Isn’t that an old person problem!?” The reality might surprise you a bit.

Before 2011, a cholesterol test would have been recommended if there was a concerning family history, such as a family history of heart attack or stroke before a certain age. As of 2011, the recommendation changed to screening for all children, known as universal screening.

There are several compelling reasons to follow universal screening protocols. The first and one of the most important is based on the results of medical studies which indicate that atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels) and cholesterol-induced damage to blood vessels starts in childhood. Another reason to consider universal screening is because familial hypercholesterolemia (abnormally high cholesterol inherited through one’s family) has been estimated to affect as many as 1 in 250 people.

Even in medicine, though, things are often not completely cut and dried. There are many physicians who care for children who don’t think the evidence is completely clear and choose to continue to follow a risk-based approach to screening.

My opinion is that each family should have an open discussion with their child’s physician and choose an approach to screening that makes the most sense to them. Your doctor is here to help you navigate these complex medical issues and should be happy to address additional questions and concerns.

Dr. Corey Fish, a Pacific Northwest native and graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, is a pediatrician at Sellwood Medical Clinic. When he is not at work, he likes backcountry skiing with his wife and their border collie/Australian shepherd mix, and playing his guitar. For more info: Got a question for Dr. Corey? Get in touch at editor(at) and we’ll pass it along.

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