Play Room January 2018

Kid to Know: The Ultimate Creative

I wish I was as cool as 11-year-old Hobbs Waters. Not only is Hobbs an amazing dancer who’s been dancing since he was 5, and training formally at Classical Ballet Academy in Sellwood for the last two years, but he’s also an incredible visual artist who’s had several shows of his artwork around town. To help fund his dancing career (shoes are the least of the expenses that add up when you want to become a professional dancer), Hobbs started screen printing t-shirts featuring his art and selling them online at (The name’s inspired by a family nickname for his mom.) He has used the proceeds to help offset the cost of dance competitions, audition fees and studio fees, and is saving for the Youth American Grand Prix regionals this month. The YAGP dance competition is a huge deal, with $300,000 worth of dance scholarships up for grabs — not to mention the priceless mentorship opportunities. He’s also focused on his summer intensive program auditions and is looking at trying out for The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, The Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow and The Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. But that’s not all: “I have a t-shirt trunk show planned for February at Black Wagon (boutique) on North Mississippi. I am working on a social justice-inspired abstract painting series, which I plan to show and present a collection of essays about the work, hopefully in the next six months. I am also starting to plan a community clean-up day for spring because community involvement is important to me,” says Hobbs. To top it off, he so politely referred to me as “Ms. Denise” during our email exchanges. (Insert smiley heart eyes emoji here.) Seriously, go buy some t-shirts to support this cool kid. — Denise Castañon


Trend Alert: Walk-in Care for Kids

We’ve all been there — the kid falls off from the monkey bars or spikes a scary-high fever. You need help, and fast, but it’s after hours or on the weekend, and the pediatrician’s office is closed. Used to be your only option was an expensive trip to the emergency room (and that is still where you should head for the direst of situations), but a new option has been popping up around Portland of late — urgent care clinics that are kid-specific. The trend started with ZoomCare, those walk-in clinics with 20+ locations in Portland. Most of those clinics have on-demand pediatric urgent and emergency care, and one, on NE Fremont, houses a special “well-child” clinic. Newly opened is Go To Ortho in Lake Oswego where kids can get immediate, walk-in care for suspected broken bones and fractures. (Handy for soccer Saturdays in the fall and spring …) And our very own

Dr. Corey (see his regular column on page 10) has just opened Pacific Crest Children’s Urgent Care in NE Portland, a brand-new facility where you can get a same-day appointment between the witching hours of 3 pm-10 pm, seven days a week. Monkey bars, do your worst. — Julia Silverman


TOP 5 …Indoor Play Spots

➊ Brand new Two Sisters Play Café opens this spring in Milwaukie and aims to bring scrumptious foods to those with sensitive diets, plus a play structure and toys and activities for the kiddos. 11923 SE McLoughlin Blvd. ➋ Make Do Art Studio in the Foster-Powell neighborhood offers classes and open studio time for toddlers to middle schoolers.
➌ The indoor play structure at The Wiggle Room in Hollywood provides a great way for kids 5 and under to get their energy out. And find our review at
➍ Beloved toy store TinkerMaker Toys (formerly known as Art of Stem) has moved to a new location in St. Johns, complete with a play space that helps babies and toddlers build sensory and motor skills. 7401 N. Burlington Ave. ➎ Giant Kids Club Fun & Fitness in Vancouver offers a huge play structure, a ball room, six slides and more. — D.C.

Playlist: Toddler Tunes

Within 10 seconds of my playing the album, Micah and Me Is Here, my 2-year-old son piped up excitedly, “This is Micah and Me!” Toddlers all over the Portland metro area will be similarly pumped by the release of the trio of dads’ first album. Micah and Me knows its fan base; my 2-year-old and 5-year-old are routinely singing Dump Truck and Baby Shark after listening to the album. They also have been requesting Micah and Me’s version of Itsy Bitsy Spider, during which they take great pleasure in singing the “stinky, smelly spider” verse. And my husband can attest that Micah and Me has very accurately captured a typical “Dadurday” at our house with the song Super Daddy Fun Day, right down to the “jumping on Daddy’s belly” to wake him up. Catch Micah and Me at 10 am every first Friday of the month at Beanstalk Montavilla. And find the album on iTunes or at — D.C.

Gear Guide: Baby Bike Seats

New Year’s Resolution: Bike more with the kids. We’ve got you covered with our picks for the best kid bike seats on the market. (Note: We know you love your bike and your baby, but experts don’t recommend putting bike helmets on babies until they are at least a year old, when their head and neck are strong enough to support the weight of a helmet).

Several of Portland’s most family-friendly bike shops sell only the Thule line of bike seats for kids, which is a pretty great recommendation. Top of the line is the Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi, which is a startingly light 5.8 pounds (before you add the kid, of course), made from easy-to-clean material, gets high marks for easy installation and has a newly redesigned safety buckle that’s virtually impossible for little hands to pry open mid-ride. Designed for ages 12 months to 6 years, up to 48.5 pounds. Find it at Clever Cycles and Sellwood Cycles. From $175.

At Bike Gallery, with several metro-area locations, the pick is the TopPeak BabySeat II, which is nice and plushy for maximum tush comfort, and features foot rests and safety straps that grow along with kids, plus double safety latches to make the ride way less tippy. Maximum weight is
48.5 pounds, best for ages 12 months to 5 years old. From $180.

Experts seem to be moving away from front-mounted bike seats, which can be a bit unstable, and expose your kid to injury in case of a crash. But there’s also the undeniable joy of being able to talk with your kiddo while they are on the front of your bike. Try the Thule Yepp Mini, which has many of the same features as the Maxi, including a shock-absorbing seat, but do note that it’s only recommended for kids ages 12 months to 3 years old, up to 33 pounds. At REI. From $150. — J.S.

Chalkboard:The state of our kids



Oregon’s economy may seem solid, but a disturbing number of kids and families are still barely hanging on to the margins, according to a new, comprehensive report from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation. The survey looks at four specific areas — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community — crunches the numbers and comes out with side-by-side state comparisons. For Oregon, it isn’t pretty. We are far behind leaders like New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Minnesota; neighboring Washington ranks 14th overall. What’s behind our poor numbers? We’ve got the country’s third highest percentage of high schoolers not graduating on time, plus below-grade-level reading skills among nearly two-thirds of fourth graders statewide. Pre-K attendance is also low in Oregon, with 57 percent of kids not attending any early learning programs, even by the age of 3 or 4. How to make things better? Children First for Oregon, which partners with the Casey Foundation to collect data for the study, says education is the key, and that the state needs to prioritize dollars for lowering class sizes and lengthening the school year. — J.S.

Ask Dr. Corey: Be a Sport

Q: Our whole family loves soccer, and our 3-year-old is excited to start playing. But I’m worried about the possibility of ligament damage (like ACL or meniscus tears) and that it could lead to juvenile arthritis. What do you think?

A: I grew up in a sports household. My sister and I were actively encouraged to participate in some sort of physical activity while growing up and I have fond memories of most youth sports leagues I participated in. (Though I think my youth basketball camp instructors would have allowed that I didn’t have much of a future as a professional basketball player.)

Sports participation — and physical activity — in general is a great way for kids to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. These activities can also teach discipline, patience, and help kids learn to socialize and communicate.

However, in any scenario that involves children running around at high speed, especially young kids who may not have full control over their motor systems, injuries will undoubtedly happen. Thankfully the vast majority of these will be minor strains, sprains, bumps, cuts, and bruises.

There are some things you can do to both foster a culture of sport and activity as well as keep your child safe. This advice applies not only to preschoolers, but teens and young adults as well.

Just starting sports earlier probably doesn’t impact your child’s health very much. The bigger impact comes from early specialization in sport, leading to overuse injuries and fatigue. These factors are much more likely to negatively impact your child’s risk of more severe injuries, like ligament damage and risk for arthritis later in life.

I generally recommend the following for children who play sports:

Rest! One to two days off per week for school-aged kids and older — and consider more for younger children.

Eat! A healthy snack with some protein, fat and carbohydrates within 20-30 minutes of finishing a game or practice.

Sleep! Getting adequate sleep at night is very important for your body to heal after activity.

Try different sports! Picking only one sport early on increases risk for more serious injury and problems later in life — and there’s no evidence that it makes it more likely your child will get that professional sports contract.

In short, I think it’s great your kiddo wants to try soccer. Keep it light, keep it fun, and they will be great!

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