Playroom February 2017

Take Five: Samantha Younes

Northwest Portland mom Samantha Younes couldn’t believe a city as arts-focused as Portland didn’t have its own kids’ film festival. So last year she brought the Portland Kids’ Film Festival (PKFF) to life. It’s coming back for its second year at the Hollywood Theatre, February 4-5. (Find showtimes and more at

Q: Last year was the inaugural Portland Kids’ Film Festival. What was the response?


A: The response was overwhelming — we nearly sold out of tickets for the animated shorts program! Watching families crowd outside the doors of the Hollywood Theatre on opening day was an incredible experience. I loved hearing feedback from the kids in the audience.

Q: Tell us more about the pajama party viewing and pancake breakfast on opening day.

A: The PKFF invites kids (and parents!) to wear their pajamas for the opening screening on Saturday morning. The only thing better than watching animated films on a Saturday morning is watching them in your pajamas!

Q: Do you have a background in film?

A: I don’t. I have a background working with families who have children with special needs. That experience was also a big motivator in starting the festival.


Q: Which screening do you recommend for families with preschool-age kids?

A: Kid Flix 1 (February 4 at 10:15 am and February 5 at noon) is a great choice for families with younger kids. It is a wonderful program of beautifully animated short films with sweet, simple storylines.

Q: How did you select the films for the festival?

A: There are so many wonderful films, it was very hard to choose! PKFF is a member of the European Children’s Film Association, which gives me access to fantastic content from all over the world. I am also very lucky to have support and guidance from Elizabeth Shepherd at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle. But overall I try to choose films based on what I would want my family to see. — Denise Castañon

Getaway: Around the Bend

Think Bend isn’t close enough for a weekend getaway?

Think again. A quick three-hour drive over Mount Hood gets your family to Oregon’s favorite winter playground. If you’re skiers or boarders, head directly to Mount Bachelor, but snow fun can also be found in the foothills around Bend for just the price of a sno-park pass. We like the Wanoga Snow Play Area, which has a great kid-friendly sledding area right near the parking lot, a warming hut with a fireplace to duck into for lunch, a food truck selling hot chocolate most days, and a network of snowshoe trails meandering around the Deschutes National Forest.

If snow isn’t your thing, head underground on a lava tube-caving expedition with local company Wanderlust Tours. (And get a very close-up look at a bat habitat while you’re at it.) If you’d rather hike, but aren’t up for a long drive to the trailhead, try the Pilot Butte trail, a 1.8-mile urban trail that climbs nearly 500 feet to give you great views of the surrounding peaks.

For eats, we wish the owners of the globally influenced Spork would open a Portland outpost — try the Dan Dan noodles, and order up a kid-sized rice bowl or taco for your littles, with a side of fresh veggies. Of course, Bend is known for beer, and its many breweries can get crowded, so try to hit Crux Fermentation Project at early happy hour. Seating is tight but they’ve got sweet coloring sheets for kids and the beer is terrific.

Check out for tastefully furnished vacation rentals that share a common lawn and hot tub, perfect for extended family getaways (and just around the corner from Bend’s beloved pirate ship park, too!). — Julia Silverman

Bookshelf: A More Perfect Union

Honor the legacy of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln this month with great kid books on American history, chosen by Kim Tano and Richard Corbett, the children’s book buyers at Powell’s Books, Portland’s legendary independent bookstore.

My Little Golden Book About Abraham Lincoln by Bonnie Bader
Meet one of the country’s most popular and accomplished presidents, Abraham Lincoln, also known as Honest Abe. Follow President Lincoln from his life as a child all the way to his election as the 16th president, and learn some fun facts along the way. $4.99.

We Came to America by Faith Ringgold
Ringgold’s folk-art illustrations anchor this moving picture book about all those who call this country home, from Native Americans to the immigrants that come in search of life in a peaceful democracy. A needed message of the power of diversity in our turbulent times. $17.99.

I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Excerpts of King’s famous speech on the steps of the  Lincoln Memorial in 1963 are paired with two-time Caldecott award winner and illustrator Nelson’s drawings in this must-have for any picture-book shelf. $18.99.

If You Lived with the Indians of the Northwest Coast, by Anne Kamma
A child’s eye view of the first Americans of the Northwest Coast. Read about how Native Americans such as the Tlingit, Haida, Kwakiutl and Bella Coola tribes lived, fished, created art and ran their communities in this perennial bestseller. $6.99.

Basher History: U.S. Presidents The Oval Office All-Stars, by Simon Basher and Dan Green
We love the Basher series of books! This fun introduction to the members of the country’s most exclusive club features the answers to which president had a pet
alligator, which president had his horse’s teeth brushed every morning and which one reported seeing a UFO. $8.99.

Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, by Kate Schatz
Totally inspiring women and their great accomplishments — from Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston —are featured in these bookseller favorites that are so popular we can’t seem to keep them in stock. Highly recommended! $14.95 — J.S.

TOP 5 …Date Night Locales

➊ Go for a soak and a sauna at Common Ground Wellness Co-operative’s lovely courtyard pool (but be aware, it is clothing optional.) 5010 NE 33rd Ave.

➋ Take a tango lesson, then join in a milonga (Argentina-speak for tango dance party, basically) at Tango Berretin, 6305 SE Foster Rd. All-levels lessons cost $10 from 8 pm-9 pm, and
the dance floor stays open until 1 am.

➌ Get locked up together at one of the Portland Escape Rooms — you’ve got one hour to puzzle through the clues to find the key and make your escape. Locations in Beaverton and Cedar Hills.

➍ Buy tickets for an upcoming taping of Live Wire, Portland’s answer to A Prairie Home Companion. Usually at the Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St.

➎ Reserve a private room at Voicebox Karaoke and belt out your favorite tunes with the disco lights on. 734 SE 6th Ave. or 2112 NW Hoyt St. — J.S.

We Recommend:

Spice up your Valentine’s Day with a dash of Hot Sauce nail lacquer from Portland-based Palate
Polish. All Palate Polishes are vegan, feature foodie-themed names (think mackerel,
black pepper, gum drop), and are free of five toxic chemicals common in many nail polishes, including dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde. $10 at Hazel & Pear, 3432 SE Milwaukie Ave. and Amelia, 2230 NE Alberta St. — D.C.

Pay Attention: Eye on the Capitol

With the Oregon Legislature reconvening in late January, lawmakers will have a very full plate, from the still unknown fallout of the new order in Washington, D.C. to what to do about a looming $1.3 billion hole in the state budget, thanks to spiraling health care and public pension costs. Plugging it without raising any new revenue could mean massive cuts to public schools and social services. Parents around the state will be watching another issue that hits extra-close to home: A proposal that employers need to give workers earlier notice before changing around their shifts. The proposal, modeled after legislation already in place in Seattle and San Francisco, would apply
to big employers, many in the retail and hospitality industries, that employ over
500 people. They’d be required to provide at least two weeks notice in scheduling changes. A change like that allows parents some breathing room in planning for child-care needs. But businesses have pushed back hard against the proposal, saying they need the flexibility to call workers in on short notice, especially if others call in sick or don’t show up. Follow the issue at — J.S.

Good Deeds: Help a Mama Out

Once your kids get older, it’s easy to forget what those first few blurry postpartum days were like. The sleep deprivation, the pain, the roller-coaster hormones, the crying — that’d be from the baby and you (and maybe your spouse, too). Most new parents start finding a new groove in a few weeks, but some are hit with the double whammy of postpartum depression. That’s where Baby Blues Connection comes in. This awesome nonprofit enlists parents who’ve been there, done that to answer a 24/7 “warm line” and give support and information to moms and dads who need it. And they’re looking for a few good volunteers. They have an upcoming volunteer orientation session on Sunday, February 12. Visit to get involved. And if you or someone you know might be struggling with postpartum depression, their support line is 1-800-557-8375. — D.C.

Playlist: Songbook for Dreamers

Local kindie music guru Mo Phillips just delivered up Spectacular Daydream, a sweet and whimsical new album that will make ukulele lovers rejoice. (The album jacket is actually an intricately illustrated ukulele songbook with chords and lyrics.) Even if you don’t jam on the uke, you’ll love the dreamy tunes as much as your kids will. Other PDX musicians joined forces with Phillips on the CD. Red Yarn collaborates on the song Hibernate, and master steel guitarist Paul Brainard lends a soulful, wistful sound to several tracks, including Saulie at the Airport, Ode to Bed and Sometimes You Gotta Go to Sleep. Available at and Music Millenium. — D.C.

Gear Guide: Goody, Goody

Looking for goody bags that go beyond stickers and candy? Check out these hip choices.

Find these nifty portable art and/or origami kits designed by a local Portland mama at Collage’s three locations on the east side, or online at Bonus points for the cool Japanese-sourced fabrics. $24.

Lip balm helps keep little lips from getting chapped in the cold winter air. The folks at Portland Bee Balm will customize the tube designs for you, and their balm uses just four ingredients: organic coconut and olive oils, beeswax, and Oregon-grown peppermint. $2.99 at New Seasons.

If a kid has notepaper and a pencil, they’ll always be entertained. Get them started with their very own Scout Book, mini-notebooks from a company run by two local parents. We’re partial to their We Choose Hope design, with all proceeds going to the ACLU. $9.95 for a three pack. Order online at — J.S.

 Tackling Fanconi Anemia

Among severe and unlikely genetic disorders, none looms larger in Oregon than Fanconi anemia, a frequently fatal disease that causes birth defects, bone marrow failure and increased risk of cancer. That’s largely because of the late former state Attorney General and longtime University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer and his wife, Lynn, who tragically lost three daughters because of complications related to Fanconi anemia. Despite strong advocacy efforts by the Frohnmayer family, who founded the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund’s family support group, there haven’t been significant medical advances in the treatment of the disease in about three decades. Now, though, there’s some new hope, in the form of a nearly $10 million grant to doctors at Oregon Health and Sciences University, from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The team, led by pediatric researcher Markus Grompe, M.D., has come up with new drug treatments that have shown promise in animals afflicted with FA. They’ll be conducting three projects over the course of five years, with an end goal of a human clinical trial. It’s the only major effort — nationally or internationally — in either academia or industry to work on a new treatment option for Fanconi anemia. Learn more at — J.S.

Ask Dr. Corey

Q: I have a question about supplementing breast milk with formula. My maternity leave will be over soon, and I am thinking about introducing formula, since I don’t have a huge supply stocked up. But I have heard that formula-fed babies tend to be at greater risk for obesity later on. What’s your take on this?

A: In a previous column, I briefly touched on the emotions that can arise in parents around feeding older children. Certainly, feeding infants brings up a lot of these same emotions.

Unfortunately, I often encounter new mothers who feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame, usually aided by unsolicited opinions of others, when they choose not to breastfeed, or are unable to breastfeed as well as they would like.

Don’t get me wrong, as a pediatrician, there are a great many benefits to breastfeeding. It’s cheaper, helps prevent illness, some types of cancers, and maybe even helps to prevent obesity.

However, it is my job, and the job of the community at large to support parents of new infants in whatever way is most helpful.

Many scientific reviews on childhood obesity have been published, studies that have included hundreds of thousands of children. Infants who are exclusively formula fed might be at higher risk for obesity later on, but as far as I know, this effect diminishes greatly with increasing amounts of breastmilk in the diet. And there are a large number of other variables involved in predicting childhood obesity, including genetics of the parents, health literacy level of the family, amount of physical activity, and types of foods consumed as the infant gets older.

There’s no question breastfeeding is best, but if your supply is diminishing, supplementing with some formula is not going to ruin your child.

In closing, I’d like to mention an anecdote I sometimes use to lighten the mood around what can be a very emotional topic: I did my pediatric residency training with some folks who were formula-fed babies. These people are now fantastic pediatricians. I’m quite sure that with love and support, your child will grow up to do wonderful things, too. Even if they get some formula! 

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