Play Room. June 2015


Playroom-Getaway-Astoria Column, Don Frank Photography

Hike it Baby’s hiker-in-chief takes five, plus the best in new kindie music and our top picks for u-pick berries.

Take Five: Shanti Hodges
Getaway: Astoria
Top 5… U-Pick Spots
Bookshelf: Summer reading
Good Deeds: Delivering dignity
Playlist: Road trippin’
Gear Guide: Life savers

Take Five: Shanti Hodges

Hike It Baby founder Shanti Hodges has spread her love of getting outdoors with the littles nationwide. Here this Overlook Park mom of 2-year-old Mason shares how it happened and her favorite PDX hiking spots.

Play room - take 5Q: Why did you start Hike It Baby?

A: When Mason was born I didn’t have very many friends who had little ones. I was at Alma at a wonderful new mama group, but I wanted to be outside. So I asked a few women if they wanted to go walk with me the next week at Lower Macleay. That first week five women showed up. The next week 10 women showed up and then 15 and so on. I saw this was a way for people with little ones to gather. From there it evolved.

Q: How did you take it national?

A: It was sort of accidental. My friend Sarah came to visit and we went hiking. A friend of hers in Wisconsin saw her Facebook photos from the hike. Her friend contacted me and said “Can we do this in Racine?” At the same time another mama moved from Portland to Corvallis and she said she wanted to get Hike it Baby going in Corvallis. This didn’t happen overnight and has taken a team of amazing people. We are all volunteers so that’s the hard part because it has gotten pretty huge.

Q: What’s been the best part of it for you?

A: The amazing friendships I have made and the incredible feeling I get when I see pictures flooding my Facebook page of happy families hiking all over the country.

Q: What’s your favorite hike in Portland?

A: Wildwood Trail is one of my favorites because there’s so much of it, but I also really love Tryon Creek. Tryon is so beautiful and easy to just walk and walk in.

Q: What’s your advice for a new mom who feels she’s too out of shape to hike?

A: Our number one rule is leave no mama or papa behind. We have fast-paced, slow and mellow toddler walks, park meet ups and more. My number one goal when I step out on the trail is to slow down mentally and enjoy my experience with my son. If I get a work out, great. If I just have an awesome conversation while a mom sits and nurses, awesome. I had been a size 14 most of my life and had felt very out of shape. Since hiking at least one to three times a week for the last two years, I have now gone down to a size 6-8. Just putting one foot in front of the other and putting one walk on your calendar a week … just one, will change your life. — Denise Castañon

Getaway: Astoria

Playroom-Getaway-Astoria-Meglar-Trolley, Don Frank PhotographyThe secret’s out about this awesome town on the mouth of the Columbia River. Start your visit at Fort Clatsop National Historical Park, where you can trace Lewis and Clark’s journey to the sea and explore a replica of the fort they built to shelter them over the long winter of 1805-1806. Afterwards, stretch your legs by hiking the Fort-to-Sea trail — smaller kids will want to turn around when you’ve reached the summit of Clatsop Ridge, in about two miles. Back in town, rent bikes from Bikes and Beyond and head out on the Astoria River Trail, a 5-mile-long wooden boardwalk that reminds you that for all its tourist gloss, Astoria is still very much a working port. You’ll go under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the world’s largest truss bridge, which spans the mighty Columbia. Not cyclists? The quaint Astoria streetcar covers part of the same route. On nice days, it’s worth a trip up to the top of the Astoria Column, a 125-foot tower painted with murals that recall key moments in Oregon history. Another option: Hit the riverfront Columbia Maritime Museum, which has hands-on exhibits for little sailors and buccaneers alike. For lunch, plenty of people swear by Bowpicker Fish & Chips, across from the museum in a converted gillnet boat; for dinner, try the new Buoy Beer Company, where kids can watch the sea lions lounging on the pier while you eat. Stop by Finn Ware, a Scandinavian-themed gift shop, to pick up souvenirs (last time, we got our kids a plastic Viking helmet). Stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel on the waterfront, where there are free snacks at happy hour and views of the river from most rooms. — Julia Silverman.

TOP 5…U-Pick Spots

BlueberryBoy_SummerofFun-July13➊ At Blue Bee Farms on Sauvie Island it’s all about the (no spray, no pesticides) blueberries, all season long ➋ West Union Gardens in Hillsboro is known for its unusual varietals, including tayberries, loganberries, blackcaps and gooseberries. ➌ Bring a picnic to Morning Shade Farm in Canby, where you’ll find huckleberries and loganberries ripe for the picking. ➍ Local families swear by the berries (and kid-friendly atmosphere) at Bella Organics on Sauvie Island ➎ Philbrook Farm in Vancouver keeps it simple, starting with Hood strawberries in early June. – J.S.

Bookshelf: Summer reading

These books about summer adventures — reommended by Kim Tano and Richard Corbett, the children’s book buyers for Powell’s Books, Portland’s favorite independent bookstore — will be perfect when it’s time to come inside to cool off. Find their picks at Powell’s Books, 1005 W. Burnside Street, or online at

Ages 0-2

Playroom-Bookshelf-HideandSeekHarryHide & Seek Harry on the Farm by Kenny Harrison

It is a summer day on the farm and Hippo Harry is trying his best to hide behind a sunflower, behind the fence, in amongst the pigs and more. This delightful romp will give the gift of giggles to both the parent and the child. $6.99.

Playroom-Bookshelf-TeddyBearPicnicThe Teddy Bears’ Picnic by Jimmy Kennedy, Illustrated by Alexandra Day

If you go into the woods today you better be in disguise, because the teddy bears are having a picnic! This classic is now in a new board book edition, inviting the parent and child to sing or read aloud the rhyming text together. $7.99.

Ages 3-5

Playroom-Bookshelf-IceCreamSummerIce Cream Summer by Peter Sis

A boy’s letter to his grandfather at the height of summer reassures him that he is still studying math (how much ice cream he can eat by the end of summer) and cartography (where chocolate valley and pistachio cliff exist) in this wonderful book on our favorite summertime treat. Strange-but-true ice cream facts and glorious illustrations make this an obvious summer picture book pick by an award-winning author. $17.99.

Playroom-Bookshelf-PoolPool by JiHyeon Lee

Two young strangers dive into each end of a crowded public pool and emerge as friends as they encounter unusual fish and sea creatures. Beautiful drawings and a quietly touching story make this wordless picture book a great pick for readers of any language or age group. $16.99.

Ages 6-10

Playroom-Bookshelf-WhereverYouGoWherever You Go by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Join Rabbit and his animal friends as they amble along delicately illustrated landscapes in this picture book. The lilting rhymes make this a book kids will keep on the shelf and re-read in years to come. $17.

Playroom-Bookshelf-CodyandtheFountainofHappinessCody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb

Cody is a whimsical girl who loves small animals and especially the first day of summer vacation. But as the summer begins, it is turning into one disappointment after another — that is, until she meets Spencer, a new friend who is looking for a lost cat. A new chapter book filled with wit and love. $14.99.



Good Deeds: Delivering dignity

Play Room - Good DeedsCatlin Gabel junior Nadya Okamoto, 17, knows the inconvenience and indignities of being homeless all too well. Her own family has experienced it firsthand. That inspired her to found Camions of Care, a nonprofit that distributes feminine hygiene products directly to homeless women in Portland, Salt Lake City and Guatemala each month, to restore some decorum to their menstrual cycles. To date, they’ve handed out pads and tampons to 730 women, and aim to serve more than 1,000 by the end of 2015, partnering with big names such as Seventh Generation. Okamoto’s team of fellow students from Catlin Gabel raise funds, work with partner nonprofits and deliver care packages to homeless women in the metro area each weekend. Okamoto has received national recognition for her efforts, including being named a Hasbro Community Action Hero. You can help the cause by donating funds or sanitary supplies, or by volunteering. Visit for more information. – D.C.

Playlist: Road trippin’

From reggae to rock, hit the highway with these new kindie releases from PNW family musicians.

Play Room - Play List - Recess MonkeyHot Air, Recess Monkey

On their 12th album, these Seattle teachers/music makers mix smart, fun-filled lyrics with catchy tunes that entertain kids and grown-ups alike. “Thunder and Lightning” is reminiscent of Talking Heads, while “Hand Me Downs” funks out, “First Things First” races to a ska tempo and “Carry a Tune” is a sweet, old-timey sing-along. All the songs touch on the overarching themes of flight, adventures and discovery.

Play Room- Play List - The Harmonica PocketSundrops, The Harmonica Pocket

This ode to the warm, glowing ball in the sky could only be written by Pacific Northwest residents who’ve endured a long, wet winter. Most of these sweet, acoustic songs are in praise of warm sunshine, including the title track, plus “Sing in the Sun,” and a minor-key arrangement of the enduring standard “You Are My Sunshine.” Play this album to help excited kiddos to wind down after a busy summer day.

Play room - play list Pointed man BandFlight of the Blue Whale, Pointed Man Band

Operatic in scope if not style, Flight of the Blue Whale tells the story of a fox and mole catcher who set out to rescue a whale from a siren’s curse. This first studio release from Portland’s Pointed Man Band is a standout rock album that parents who don’t like “kid music” will adore. In fact the song “Apodidae Reggae” just might inspire a family dance party in the kitchen.


Play room -Play List - One World ChorusCelebrate Bob Marley, 1World Chorus

Aaron Nigel Smith’s 1World Chorus — made up of kids ages 7 to 18 from Kenya, Colombia, the United States and Jamaica — played all the instruments and sang all the vocals on this tribute album. You’ve never heard sweeter versions of “Redemption Song” or “Three Little Birds.” A portion of the record sales will benefit free music programs in schools.


Play Room - Play List - Red YarnDeep Woods Revival, Red Yarn

As the first track “Boil Them Cabbage” started playing, my 2 ½-year-old ran to get her guitar (i.e. my hairbrush) to jam along. Other young fans of Portland’s Red Yarn (and their grown-ups) will no doubt rock out to the rest of this American folk album that tells the story of young Red stumbling onto a “critter” revival while visiting at his grandparent’s farm. Favorite tracks include the high-energy “Skip to My Lou,” and title song “Deep Woods Revival” with its vivid depictions of an animal gathering and a gospel-type chorus. Catch Red Yarn’s release shows on June 21 at Historic Old Church. – D.C.

Gear Guide: Life savers

When it comes to personal flotation devices for children (aka PFDs), do not mess around. State law requires that all kids under the age of 12 wear a life jacket if they’re heading out in a boat of any kind; it’s just common sense. And PFDs for the littles can provide you with some peace of mind, too, if you’re visiting one of Oregon’s many lakes, rivers or local pools this summer. Here are our picks for the best PFDs out there for ages 0-2, preschoolers and bigger kids.

PlayRoom-GearGuide-NemoInfantStohlquist Nemo Infant PFD This one’s for infants and toddlers between 8 and 30 pounds. Parents give it the thumbs up for the comfy, not too bulky fit and for the durable handle on the back that lets you grab a wiggly swimmer if they try to slip your grip. $39.99 at Next Adventure, REI.

Playroom-GearGuide-PuddleJumperStearns Kids Puddle Jumper U.S. Coast Guard-approved, the puddle jumper is popular among the learning-to-swim set who appreciate the freedom of movement it allows and the fun designs. About $20; At or Target.

PlayRoom-GearGuide-ExtrasportPFDThe Extrasport Volks Child Youth PFD is made for kids from 50 to 90 pounds. It’s got big open armholes and an easy zipper so they can take it on and off by themselves, and gets high marks for being quick-drying — perfect for water gun fights during a rafting trip. At press time, on sale at Next Adventure for $29.99, marked down from $54.00. — J.S.

PDX Parent Staff
PDX Parent Staff

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