Play Room February 2018

 

Kid to Know: The Consent Advocate

You’ve seen those two words washing down your feed, #MeToo. And you’ve probably wondered how you can keep your kids from ever having to go through the pain/shame/fear of being a survivor. So here’s the good news: Things are changing for our kids — with the help of our kids. When current Micha-El Waldorf School 8th grader Irie Page listened to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speak in Portland in 2016, she took Malala’s message of “everyone’s voice matters” to heart and decided to throw a “philanthropy party/community lecture” to celebrate her 14th birthday. “After realizing that Emma Watson would not be coming to Portland for my birthday, I decided to host Mike Domitrz,” says Irie. “I found out about Mike from my mom. We had been having many conversations about consent (among other current topics) and she had told me about him and his work with The Date Safe Project.”

The Date Safe Project helps to educate teens and adults about building respectful and consensual relationships, including asking first before kissing another person. Irie and her mom, Sarah Page, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the venue and speaking fees. And then her idea went viral. Portlanders responded in droves, and Portland State University provided the 220-seat Lincoln Recital Hall for free. Then the event switched to a bigger venue because of the response. “The Lincoln Performance Hall at PSU holds 470 people. There were approximately 520 people there! There were lines to get in an hour and a half before we opened the auditorium! I never imagined it being as huge as it was!” Irie says. Domitrz donated his speaking fee of $6,500 back to Irie for her to give to an organization that helps prevent sexual assault. So in between applying to high schools and performing in the Portland Revels, Irie is researching nonprofits, to figure out where to donate the money. And she’ll continue to be an advocate for consent. Up next, she and her mom will be working with a local middle school to host another consent event. To get updates on future events, please search Facebook for “Supporting Consent/Respect: Teen Relationships.” — Denise Castañon

Getaway: Sunriver

Sunriver, the sprawling destination resort just south of Bend, is a cherished summer tradition for plenty of Portland-area families. But as the closest lodging to the ski trails at Mount Bachelor, it’s also a prime winter destination, especially with a long weekend and spring break on the calendar in February and March. Book a house via Vacasa or Airbnb. Pro tip: Make sure that the house comes with passes to the Sunriver Homeowners Recreation and Aquatic Center, affectionately known as SHARC. Otherwise you’ll need to pay a steep $15 per person admission price. Once you’re in, you’ll have access to a fab indoor pool and a winter tubing hill. For more outside fun, you can also hit the covered skating rink at the Village Mall. Nearby, there are plenty more opportunities to play in the snow; we like the Edison Sno-Park, about a 15 minute drive, for great sledding and snowshoeing with kids. Venture into Bend for dinner; our managing editor vouches for the delicious and healthy kids’ menu at Jackson’s Corner, which has locations on Bend’s east and west sides. — Julia Silverman

TOP 5 Playdates and Coffee

➊ Fillmore PDX: Tucked away in Taborvilla, this place serves up a winning combo of Coava Coffee and thin-crust pizza, plus a sweet little play area for babies and toddlers. 7201 NE Glisan.
➋ Just Bob: A welcome haven in the hip Alberta Arts District. Come here for all-day breakfast, a well-edited kids’ menu and play area, and specialty mochas. 2403 NE Alberta.
➌ Mocha Express Milwaukie: A hidden gem in a hot suburb for local families. A spanking clean play area and a full range of coffee drinks, plus bonus bubble tea. 14813 SE Webster Rd.
➍ Wattle Tree Place: A sweet, super-healthy Vancouver spot with kombucha as well as coffee and every alternative milk you can think of, plus an outside fairy garden for kids to explore. 306 E. 16th St., Vancouver, Wash.
➎ Blue Kangaroo Coffee: A beloved and easy-going Sellwood joint with a small play area and super hot cocoa for kids; bonus points for roasting their coffee in-house. 7901 SE 13th Ave. — J.S.

Gear Guide: Birthday Props

That first birthday is a big one.

It means you’ve made it as a parent for a whole year! That’s worth celebrating — and capturing in photos. Make those photos Insta-perfect (with less work) by ordering custom photo props from local crafting wizards.

Risa Rocks It offers made-for-you banners in all manner of color combos and styles, from pink and frothy to rock ’n roll. Starting at $20. RisaRocksIt.etsy.com.

Sure, a birthday suit makes cleaning up smash cake frosting a breeze, but ratchet up the cute factor with a matching onesie set from Josie and James. $40. JosieandJames.etsy.com.

Memorialize your babe’s stats and favorite things with a custom poster from Letters and Dust. You’ll find all manner of themes, from trains to Star Wars to Alice in Wonderland. $20. LettersandDust.etsy.com. — D.C.

Chalkboard: Nowhere to call home

So much is heartbreaking about the rising tide of homelessness in Oregon, and perhaps none of it more so than the bump in numbers of homeless students statewide. That number measures students without a permanent home — so it includes those that may be living on the streets as well as those that are in motels, shelters or couch surfing with friends or relatives. In part, the increased numbers are because the state is doing a better job of keeping track of all the kids who need help, but there are also a number of familiar reasons contributing to the surge: the high cost of housing, low-wage jobs, and parental substance abuse. In Multnomah County alone, there are more than 4,000 people living in shelters or on the streets, according to a count that dates to February of 2017. For more on how your family can help, see this month’s Good Deeds column. — J.S.

Amount of federal dollars Oregon received in 2016-2017 to pay for homeless student outreach staff, plus clothing, shoes and school supplies.

Good Deeds: A Clean, Well-lighted Place

The nights are cold and long this time of year, and beds at local shelters are in short supply. So congregants at Beth Israel synagogue in NW Portland decided to open their temple to
75 moms, dads and kids this winter, including hot meals served each night by volunteers, as well as a safe, warm place to sleep. There are bathrooms (but no showers), and small amounts of storage space available for each family’s possessions. Staffers from Portland Homeless Family Solutions are keeping things running smoothly, and volunteers are welcome, to help cook dinner, read with kids, help with homework and to donate much-needed items. The shelter will be open every day from 6 pm-8 am, through April 30. Kids are welcome to help, so long as they are accompanied by grown-ups. Email Bethany@pdxhfs.org to volunteer or Emma@pdxhfs.org to arrange to make a donation. — J.S.

Pay Attention: Health Care Alert

From the who’d a thunk it department: Even though the Trump administration made the window for signing up for health care insurance through the federal marketplace much shorter, the number of Oregonians who enrolled in the program for 2018 actually topped last year’s total. According to state figures, just over 157,000 people were enrolled when sign-ups ended in mid-December of 2017. That’s 2,000 more people than the previous year — which means frantic, passionate outreach efforts by local nonprofits, health care advocates and coordinated care organizations, like Health Share of Oregon, must have paid off. It’s not all rosy, though — thanks to the administration’s elimination of the requirement that everyone needs to either purchase insurance or pay a fine in the tax plan that narrowly passed in late December, many insurance companies are planning higher premiums and scaling back services in Oregon and elsewhere. And the story’s not over yet: If you are one of thousands who allowed your health care insurance to roll over, as opposed to shopping for a new plan on the marketplace, you’ve got until the end of this month to make changes in case your carrier is no longer providing insurance in your area. Large insurers, like Moda Health and Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield are scaling back the regions in which they provide coverage, according to a report in the Portland Business Journal, so read the fine print. For Oregon Health Plan members, agents at Health Share Oregon can help walk you through your options; find them at healthshareoregon.org. — J.S.

Ask Dr. Corey: All Tied Up

Q: My 2-year-old has a tongue tie. I’ve heard the surgery to fix it is quite painful, but that if we don’t fix it, it can cause speech problems and eating disorders later in life. Any advice?

A: Tongue tie — a thicker than normal connection of tissue that attaches the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth — is a hugely debated topic amongst parents and health care professionals, so I’m glad you asked!

Part of the issue when it comes to researching a topic like this is that there is no “tongue-tie test.” We can tell if there physically is a tongue tie present, but there’s absolutely no way to prove that this tissue is the source of a given problem.

Tongue tie gets blamed for a whole lot of things, including speech problems, eating problems later in life and dental issues. The link between breastfeeding difficulties and tongue tie is pretty well established. But the links where the other problems are concerned are not as clear.

There have been a few small studies on speech problems in children with tongue tie (either treated or not). I can safely say that the data is completely unclear. Some of the studies find no increased rates of speech problems in children who have had their tongue ties clipped, compared to those who haven’t. Another study (of lower quality) found that there were more problems with speech in children who did not have their tongue ties clipped.

As far as I am aware, there are no scientific studies looking at eating problems later in life due to untreated tongue tie. That’s not to say that it can’t cause those problems, just that no one has tried to answer that question in a scientific way.

Tongue-tie surgery shouldn’t generally be that much more painful than routine dental work. It’s a procedure that can be done in a dentist’s office under local anesthesia, providing the child can be helped to sit still for long enough to actually get the clip done. Lasers have also successfully been used to reverse tongue ties.

While any surgical procedure carries risks, I believe clipping a tongue tie is certainly on the safer end of the spectrum. The other important thing to keep in mind is that there is probably a pretty large group of people with tongue tie that have no issues from it at all.

So where does that leave us? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer. The way forward is up to each family and whomever is performing the procedure.

One piece of advice, though: I am always a little leery of anyone claiming that getting this done will “definitely help,” or “definitely not help.” It’s not a straightforward question at all and I think it’s important that as health care providers, we are honest about that.

Bookshelf: Get Ready to Rumble

For elementary school bookworms all over Oregon, winter is Battle of the Books season, when kids form teams to read and discuss an assigned list of books, then answer questions about the books during showdowns with other teams. Our trusty book experts, Kim Tano and Richard Corbett from Powell’s Books, Portland’s beloved independent bookseller, picked their favorites from this year’s list. Kiddos too young yet for the competition? These also make great (if sometimes sobering) read-alouds!

I Survived the Eruption of Mount Saint Helens, 1980 by Lauren Tarshis
There are plenty of Portlanders who remember the Saint Helens eruption, and the subsequent ash raining down on the city. This entry in the popular “I Survived” series paints a vivid picture of both the eruption and the lives that were changed in its aftermath. $4.99.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Harrowing, hopeful and beautiful, all at once. The Red Pencil is the story of Amira, and what’s left of her family after her small Sudanese village is attacked by the Janjaweed militia. Told entirely in verse, with poetic illustrations by Coretta Scott King award winner Shane Evans. $8.99.

Wild Wings by Gill Lewis
Unlikely friends Callum and Iona work together to protect an osprey nest at a family farm in Scotland. A wonderful novel about overcoming odds, friendship, loss and environmental conservation. $7.99.

Poppy by Avi
The fear-some owl Mr. Ocax rules the mice of Dimwood Forest. That is, until Poppy, a daring mouse, decides to fight back, turning the fast-moving story into an adventurous and allegorical animal tale. $6.99.