Play Room. September 2015.

Words of wisdom for Oregon’s reigning Teacher of the Year, a bumper crop of baby carriers and back-to-school book picks.

Take Five: Oregon’s Teacher of the Year
Getaway: Silverton, Ore.
Top 5 … Fall Family Fun Runs
Playlist: ¡Ay Caramba!
Bookshelf: School Days
Gear Guide: Carried Away
Bookmark This: Daddy’s Alright
Good Deeds: Coats for a Cause
Chalkboard: The Eyes Have It
Ask Dr. Dena

Take Five: Oregon’s Teacher of the Year

Gresham High’s Michael Lindblad, tells us about chatting with the Secretary of Education — and chasing around after his twin boys.

Lindblad in his natural element — his classroom.
Lindblad in his natural element — his classroom.

Q: Tell us about your highlights of 2015 so far.

A: I represented all hard-working Oregon educators, speaking on behalf of equity and mentorship programs for at-risk, Latino youth, and younger teachers, and met political leaders like President Obama, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Gov. Kate Brown. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, told me about the time he spent working on the border with students in New Mexico, and how much it meant to him.

Q: What’s so great about the International Baccalaureate degree?

A: The IB curriculum is about international perspective, service learning, and challenging all students to push for excellence in communication. I believe in it because it prepares our students for college and reduces costs. I’ve been inspired by how many of our students from Gresham High School became the first in their families to attend college.

Q: Tell us about some of the charitable service projects your students have done over the years.

A: Usually there is an international focus at GHS, but the students suggested over ten years ago that we should also help local, regional, and national communities. We helped the folks in New Jersey (after Hurricane Sandy) a few years ago by working with Jazzy Bagels to make and sell Jersey subs. All proceeds were sent to victims. We adapted many projects to help Nepal when the earthquake happened there. The students learn so much by having to dress up, come up with a plan, and personally approach local business leaders.

Q: Gresham High has one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the state. How has that informed your teaching?

A: The Spanish-speaking population has inspired me to keep working hard to change our curriculum, teaching strategies, and equity plans to address the needs of all students. Our principal, John Koch, really wants to raise the performance of Latino males and increase their graduation rates.

Q: You’re the father of twin toddler boys. How do you balance that with a demanding job?

A: My wife and I thought we were done having kids after we raised her daughters for 13 years. We went to Maui to celebrate the beginning of our travel life and a few months later we got a double surprise! I love the boys and they have created inspiration for the whole family, but we feel like hockey goalies in our house trying to protect against shots coming from all over the ice in the form of climbing out of cribs, slashing or destroying the living room and climbing counters. It’s been tough, but I have a great family, which has helped. — Julia Silverman

Getaway: Silverton, Ore.

Discovering the Hobbit House at the Oregon Garden.
Discovering the Hobbit House at the Oregon Garden.

Make the most of Indian summer in this bucolic small Oregon town with a couple of big-name attractions under its belt. Start the weekend off at lovely Silver Falls State Park, where hardy kids can hike the famously slippery 8.7-mile Trail of Ten Falls. Or bring your bikes and pedal along 4 miles of paved bike path to a swimming hole and a nature-inspired playground. The cool WPA-era South Falls lodge at the park is a great place for a cold drink (or a hot chocolate) after you’re done. The museum at the nearby Mount Angel Abbey has a well-edited collection of North American mammal artifacts — just remember to use inside voices, given that you are at the home of an active group of Benedictine monks (if you’re lucky, some of the limited edition beer they brew might be for sale in the bookshop.) For the littlest kids, you really can’t beat the Oregon Garden, which boasts a separate area just for them, including a hobbit house, an area to dig for “dino” bones and a treehouse from which to survey their kingdoms. Hit The Gathering Spot in Silverton for breakfast (Did someone say organic cinnamon roll pancakes? Gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options, too) and try out the Mount Angel Sausage Company for dinner — they have a neat patio where the kids can play cornhole while you wait for your order, though admittedly it’s not exactly spa food. (Spaetzle soup, anyone? With a chaser of weiner schnitzel, perhaps?) Stay overnight at the Oregon Garden, which has rooms starting at just over $100 per night, or pitch a tent at Silver Falls State Park via— J.S.

TOP 5…Fall Family Fun Runs:

Portland Marathon

➊ Help kick cancer’s butt at the Hero Up for Children’s Cancer race, September 5 in Tigard.

➋ Older kids will love getting doused with shiny hues at the Color Run on September 12.

The Portland Marathon on October 3 hosts four children’s events including one for kids with disabilities.

Portland Parks and Rec’s $5 5Ks are free for 17 and younger. For even shorter legs, the October 18 1K at Pier Park starts at 8:45 am.

➎ Kids can break in their Halloween costumes at the Run Like Heck half-miler on October 25– Denise Castañon

Playlist: ¡Ay Caramba!

Play_Room_-_Playlist-1Rock out during Hispanic Heritage Month to Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band’s latest release, Adelante. This Grammy-winning husband and wife team deliver a snappy, upbeat album of songs in Spanish and English. Your kids will love boppin’ along to the doo-wop “Speedy Gonzalez.” Plus the tambourine-heavy counting song “Seis” will have your kids singing, “unos, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis …” in no time. And rule-bending foodie kids will dig the rap “Guacamole Boy” and “The Taco Song.” Educational — and just plain fun — Adelante is the perfect soundtrack for your next kids’ fiesta. — D.C.

Bookshelf: School days

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 reading about going back to school. Find these selections at Powell’s Books, 1005 W Burnside St., or online at And don’t miss Saturday storytimes at 11 am.

Ages 0-2

PlayRoom-Bookshelf-Chu'sFirstDayChu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex

It’s the first day of school and panda bear Chu is nervous about everything new and what the other kids will think of him. Will he make friends? Will his teacher be nice? An amusing read aloud that is fun for the parent and the child alike. $7.99.

Playroom-Goodnight_SongsA Celebration of the Seasons: Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown

You know her best for Goodnight Moon, but Brown wrote many other poems, a selection of which are published here for the first time. There’s one for each month, accompanied by drawings from 12 different contemporary illustrators. It’s all set to music on the accompanying CD, too. $17.95.

Ages 3-5

Playroom-Bookshelf-IfYouEverWantToBringAnAlligatorIf You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

Just in case it occurs to you to bring your large reptilian friend to show and tell, narrator Magnolia warns you that it may not be a great idea. Fascinating alligator facts and a very funny read. $17.

SmallestGirl_in_ClassSmallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts

Little bitty Sally McCabe finds her big and powerful voice in this wonderful tale that encourages leadership and individuality from a Grammy-nominated musician. $16.99.

Ages 6-10

Playroom-Bookshelf-StarWarsWorkbookStar Wars Workbooks: 2nd Grade Reading by Workman Publishing Company

Learn well, you will. One of a new workbook series featuring Star Wars characters for ages 4 to 8. This one has lots of great worksheets, fun crossword puzzles and word searches that focus on reading comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. (A sample question: Circle the correct homophone in this sentence: Luke is a Jedi knight/night.) $8.95.

FuzzyMudFuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

From the bestselling author of Holes, this timely and powerful detective novel deals with the environment, bullying and friendship. The suspenseful story nails the details of daily school life against the backdrop of a possible ecological disaster. $16.99.

Thirty-one percent of children in Oregon live in single-parent families. That’s 253,000 kids statewide.
— The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT 2015 Data Book

Gear Guide: Carried Away

Portland mamas and papas are big into babywearing. And what’s not to love? You keep your little one close and happy, your hands are free, and the swaying of your movements makes babies very sleepy. Carriers can be costly, but many parents love babywearing so much they don’t even bother with a stroller. Here are our recommendations for the best carriers around.

Play_Room_-_gear_-_Little_FrogLittle Frog Ring Sling

Mollie Jacobson, owner of, recommends the Little Frog ring sling for newborns. (The ring sling can be used up to 35 pounds.) It features a different color at the bottom edge, so it is easier to get a snug fit This ring sling is also easy to adjust between two different wearers, making it a perfect wrap for newbies. Size M, $75.

Play_Room_-_Gear_-_LillebabyLÍLLÉBaby Complete All Seasons

With its lumbar support and cushy shoulder straps, the All Seasons is pure comfort. The zip-down front panel allows you and your precious cargo to cool off in warmer weather. This soft-structure carrier is spendy, but incredibly versatile, with six wearing positions and no infant insert needed. For babies 7 to 45 pounds, $139.99.

Play_room_-_gear-_BecoBeco Toddler Carrier

For committed babywearers looking to upgrade from an infant carrier, Jacobson recommends the Beco Toddler. It’s got a great cushion, even for heavy kiddos. Plus it comes in an array of beautiful prints and includes an attachable zippered pouch for stashing your phone and keys when you are out and about. For toddlers 20 to 60 pounds, $200. — D.C

Bookmark This: Daddy’s Alright

Play_Room_-_Bookmark_ThisWhile most of his posts bring the funny, Clint Edwards’ blog title, No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog, isn’t meant to be comical. He did not have a father growing up and has had to figure out the dad thing on his own. This father of three in Lebanon, Ore. honestly captures the challenges, joys and moments of hilarity that life brings when you are raising kids.

Here’s a snippet from his post, The 7 Stupidest Questions I’ve Heard About My Baby: “‘Are you making sure to help your wife?’ You know what, it’s the craziest thing. Now that she’s had the baby, I just don’t care about her anymore. Her job is done. Why treat her like something of value? She had a 7lb baby ripped from a gaping wound in her stomach (C-section), and ever since she’s been home from the hospital, I’ve been having her spend long hours in the kitchen making me sandwiches.

The answer to your question is, yes! I have been very caring to my wife. In fact, I witnessed what the doctors did to her in order to make this little miracle happen. It was brutal. I almost passed out. And once it was all done, I realized that she’s the strongest person I know.” Check out more of his writing at— D.C.

Good Deeds: Coats for a Cause

Play_Room_-_Good_DeedsFor Oregon and Washington’s foster kids, being placed in a home can be an emotional time. Often kids come to a new foster placement with only the clothes on their back. That’s where Sleep Train (formerly Sleep Country) comes in. For 11 years, the company has run a coat drive to help foster children keep warm and dry during our chilly Pacific Northwest winters. They partner with several nonprofits in Oregon and Washington that offer aid to foster families and provide counseling for kids in crisis. This year the drive runs from September 14 to November 1. Have your kids help you ask friends and family for donations of new coats in person and on social media. Then take all the donations you’ve gathered to any Sleep Train store. Visit for more information. — D.C.

Chalkboard: The Eyes Have It

Sources: Casey Eye Institute, OSHU, Elks’ Children’s Eye Clinic,

It’s so simple, when you really think about it: If a kid can’t see properly, they can’t learn to read. And yet, far too many kids suffer from vision disorders that can be treated and reversed, so long as there is early detection. The most common of these is amblyopia, which occurs when kids have unequal focusing power in their eyes. Kids don’t know that the world shouldn’t look that way, so they are unlikely to complain, the way they do when they have an upset tummy or a tickle in their throat. If not detected, amblyopia can affect the communication between the eyes and the brain, slow a child’s academic progress and, in extreme cases, even cause blindness. So what to do? Oregon lawmakers took one big step when they mandated in 2014 that all kids entering public school for the first time needed to show proof of a vision screening — but they included no money. That’s where the See to Read program, from the Casey Eye Institute at OHSU and the Elks Eye Clinic come in. For the past few months they’ve been doing free screenings at libraries and Head Start programs all over Oregon. (Catch them at the Beaverton Library Resource Fair on October 17). The screenings are quick and painless — a photo gets taken of your kiddo’s pupils and the information is automatically processed. If a problem shows up, you’ll get a referral for a more complete test. Remedies might include a temporary eye patch or eye drops, or perhaps corrective lenses. And really, what’s cuter than a little kid in glasses? — J.S.

Ask Dr. Dena

Playroom-AskDeDenaQ: My 5-year-old snores as loudly as his father! I’ve noticed, too, that he often breathes through his mouth. Could this be a sign that he needs his tonsils and/or adenoids removed?

A: There are many reasons children snore.

Snoring happens when the air can’t move easily through your nose and/or mouth during sleep.

Some snoring is short term, such as with a cold. Surgery is only considered when snoring happens regularly for a long time. In addition to problems with tonsils and/or adenoids, habitual snoring could be from a chronic stuffy nose (allergies), extra tissue blocking the throat when relaxed during sleep (obesity) or other medical problems.

What you are asking about is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA happens when the upper airway is either partially or totally blocked during sleep. Removing the tonsils and/or adenoids is often helpful for OSA because it removes part or all of the obstruction.

People with sleep apnea can stop breathing temporarily hundreds of times each night. This can keep them from getting the amount of oxygen they need while they sleep.

Snoring and mouth breathing are some of the most obvious signs of OSA. Other signs can be daytime sleepiness, morning headaches or other symptoms of poor sleep such as attention, learning or behavioral problems. Many children with hyperactivity are really just sleep deprived.

After ruling out other problems that can be fixed without surgery, such as allergies, OSA is usually diagnosed with sleep lab studies.

While an adenotonsillectomy is a frequent treatment for children with OSA, there are nonsurgical options too. Weight loss is the first recommended intervention for obese children. Children with OSA should be kept safe from tobacco smoke and other indoor pollutants and allergens.

An adenotonsillectomy usually takes less than an hour and is a day procedure. The operation is performed through the mouth and afterwards you may see small patches on each side of the throat where the tonsils were removed. An adenotonsillectomy is not a fun procedure. Your child can feel sore for 10 to 14 days after the operation and will probably need to take pain medications.

Dr. Dena Ross is the medical director of Randall Children’s Pediatric Care-Emanuel. Got a question for Dr. Dena? Tweet us at @Metro_Parent or find us on Facebook at MetroParentPortland.

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