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Whether you’re figuring out your pregnancy style or looking to stay stylish by renting cute maternity clothes you can send back when they no longer fit, maternity subscriptions boxes and rental services are a fun and fashionable option for expecting moms. Here are a few of our favorite rental companies and subscription boxes for women working a bump. Just add leggings and t-shirts and your wardrobe is done!

 

Motherhood Rental

Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod are behind this new subscription service, giving you an easy, fun way to get your hands on their large assortment of new releases, best sellers and seasonal fashions.

What you get: Three items with each order from pieces you've saved as favorites
How it works: Shoppers choose at least eight styles and prioritize them as a must-have or something to save for later in pregnancy. Motherhood Rental sends three items that you have the option to purchase or return in the prepaid bag and swap out for other fashions. Swap items as often as you like or need to, to accommodate your bump. Once returned, clothes are wet-cleaned and dry-cleaned and sent through a high-heat steam tunnel, and no dyes or perfumes are used in the cleaning process.
Best for: All pregnancy stages and occasions, from special occasion outfits to designer denim and leggings
Cost: $69/month
Check it out: motherhoodrental.com

Nuuly

The folks behind URBN (the parent company of Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters) founded the rental company Nuuly earlier in 2019, but it wasn't until recently that they began offering maternity styles. Choose from rental pieces from brands mentioned above, along with premium denim from Citizens of Humanity, Paige and DL1961. Whether you're looking for a stylish outfit for your babymoon, you want to test out denim before splurging or simply need to revamp your wardrobe month to month with your changing body, Nuuly has you covered.

What you get: Choose six items each month
How it works: First you build a profile detailing your height, weight and account details. This part of the process isn't necessarily geared towards maternity wear since your size and shape changes month to month. So we suggest filling it out but then going straight to the homepage to browse by the Maternity category. Filter by size, available now or type of style (denim, tops and dresses). Save to your closet, which you can peruse later, or add directly to your Nuuly bag. Return your six items in the reusable zippered bag with the pre-paid label within 30 days or opt to purchase an item if you really love it. Before your 30 days is up, choose which styles you want delivered in your next Nuuly. Nuuly must receive your returns before sending out your next shipment.
Best for: Moms who might want to try premium denim without splurging on a pair of jeans or women who just want to add a bit of style (think maternity wear that doesn't look like traditional maternity wear—no ruched dresses here) to her wardrobe. Also, plus-size moms will find lots of gorgeous fashions; the brand goes up to 5X.
Cost: $88/month.
Check it out: nuuly.com

Le Tote Maternity

Le Tote does “fashion rental for everyday style,” and anyone can go back and forth from the classic to maternity versions of the service. Fill out a style profile, and then a stylist chooses clothes and accessories for you. You can say “yea” or “nay” to these items before they’re ever sent. Payment is for membership, not per item. Keep anything you like.

What you get: Maternity clothing items and accessories.
How it works: Fill out a style profile to have a stylist choose clothes and accessories for you. Choose which you like and replace any you don't. You'll then get a tote with clothes and accessories based on your current needs and fashion preferences. When you’re ready to change it up, return the items (or buy them to keep them permanently) and get a new tote.
Best for: Women who need a little office wear and a little weekend wear.
Cost: Membership plans start at start at $59/month.
Check it out: letote.com/maternity

Stitch Fix

No subscription required. Fill out a profile about your style preferences, price requirements and measurements, and a stylist will hand-pick five fashion pieces to be delivered to your door. Order on demand or get a monthly box. For women in sizes 0-16 and XS-XXL, Stitch Fix provides fashions for all three trimesters and post-baby. For sizes 1X-3X and 14W-24W, they offer maternity-friendly tops through your second trimester and post-baby.

What you get: 5 hand-selected pieces per delivery.
How it works: Keep what you like, send back the rest. Shipping is free both ways.
Best for: Moms-to-be that are feeling hopelessly style-less now that they're pregnant.
Cost: $20 styling fee per delivery, which is credited toward items you purchase, and then pay only for what you keep.
Check it out: stitchfix.com

Rent the Runway

This rental service offers maternity pieces and bump-friendly non-maternity styles. Rent the Runway also has maternity-wear stylists on call that you can contact for free. Ask them fit and style questions or general questions about the service.

What you get: Four pieces at a time.
How it works: Enter your due date to see styles that match where you are in your pregnancy or skip that and view all the offerings.
Best for: Mamas seeking stylish designer pieces.
Cost: Membership plans start at $69/trial month to $89/month when you continue.
Check it out: renttherunway.com/maternity

La Belle Bump

Clients get higher-end clothes that they actually like (yay!) without the investment of buying. Popular items include all kinds of cute dresses, like the one pictured above. Customers also like getting stylish outfits that aren’t the “cookie-cutter” looks you see everywhere else. The service also provides nursing-friendly outfits and special-occasion rentals.

What you get: 3 or 5 maternity pieces at a time.
How it works: Fill out a style questionnaire, and get items delivered to you. When you send something back (because you don’t like it, or you’re just ready for something new), you’ll get the same number of new items. Clothes available in maternity 0-14.
Best for: Formal wear, working women, stylish mamas seeking unique dresses.
Cost: $69/month for 3 items; $99/month for 5 items. Free shipping.
Check it out: labellebump.com

Mine for Nine

Browse for items you like to rent or purchase. Borrow by the month or longer. If you're not sure of your size, check out the item's clothing measurements (bust, weight, hips, inseam and back length) or select the same item in a second size for a small fee. If a borrowed item doesn't fit, return it for a store credit.

What you get: You choose what you borrow a la carte: dresses, tops, bottoms, suits, and coats.
How it works: It’s just like shopping online, but you're renting (with the option to purchase).
Best for: Professionals and people with specific needs and tastes.
Cost: No membership fees, no registration to check out outfits. Free shipping for orders over $75; $12.95 for standard shipping under $75.
Check it out: minefornine.com

 

—Kelley Gardiner & Eva Ingvarson Cerise

featured photo: courtesy of Motherhood Rental

 

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Find Your Favorite Baby Must-Haves

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Busy boxes more than live up to their name. With a little prep work, you can captivate babies and toddlers and keep them playing independently while you relax, make dinner, do laundry or straighten up the living room. Here are 10 ideas for sensory boxes to keep your baby busy. From easy to crafty, there’s something for everyone.

Build Your Box

Back away from Pinterest. Busy boxes don't have to be fancy or follow a theme. Just plop some interesting and baby-safe items in a box, and let baby explore, like with this random collection of goodies from Busy Toddler

Choose an Interesting Assortment

Anna from The Imagination Tree recommends finding items with different textures, materials, shapes and sounds to keep baby absorbed as long as possible, while promoting independent play.

photo: courtesy of The Imagination Tree

Cloth Napkin Sensory Bin

Even the littlest babes can enjoy busy boxes. This one from The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide uses cloth napkins, but you can substitute burp cloths. Babies can pull, touch, gnaw on and see all the different colors of fabric.

Fabric Fun for Older Babies

Add a new challenge to your bits of fabric by tying on small rattles or toys for baby to discover. Jamie from Hands on as We Grow recommends this as well as placing the fabric inside an old wipes box (recycling win!). Hiding the fabric pieces in the box adds an element of surprise and makes for fascinating pull-it-out and stuff-it-in play.

Group Objects by Theme

Rebecca from Jarful of Plenty likes to use themes like wooden toys, kitchen or musical instruments. Rotate your boxes or toy bins regularly to give your baby new stimulation.

Incorporate Beads

Dayna from Lemon Lime Adventures has a bunch of busy-box ideas on her site, like this one with beads. (Watch your little one carefully with this activity, especially if they're the type to put everything around their necks or in their mouths.) Babies can pull, feel and experience these long chains of beads. Teething necklaces work great for this activity. If you use costume jewelry, make sure the thread is secure so beads don't separate and cause a choking hazard.

Sort by Color

Even before toddlers know their colors, they can start recognizing, sorting or just enjoying playing with colored objects. The OT Toolbox shows you how to make these color-sorting busy bags. They're fun for babies and will grow with your child as he/she gains more dexterity.

Their Very Own Handbag

Most little kids love to dig into Mommy's purse. To avoid having your keys and credit cards go missing, give your child their very own purse (one of your old ones or a thrift-store find works fine). Fill it with baby-safe treasures like expired credit cards, a small mirror, anything you don't mind your child playing with that isn't a choking hazard.

Try Magnets with Older Babies

Here's another activity requiring more adult supervision.  Place a few magnets in an inexpensive metal pan or use a metal box like a lunch box (the lunch box makes it easy to bring this with you places). Magnets can be dangerous if ingested, so don't leave baby alone with anything containing magnets. You'll want to stick around anyway to watch your little one learn about how magnets work. This clever idea comes courtesy of Sisters, What! 

Felt Ice Cream Sundaes!

We can't get over the cuteness of these felt busy boxes from Nadia at Teach Me Mommy. Kids can create an ice cream sundae using simple felt pieces that anyone can craft with confidence. Head to Teach Me Mommy. for the instructions.

 

—Kelley Gardinerinves & Eva Ingvarson Cerise

 

 

10 Winter Baby Shower Favors that Celebrate the Season

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Make a winter baby shower extra special by giving your guests a baby shower favor that celebrates the season. Go for something useful, either to eat, drink or decorate with, and your guests will still be talking about these festive winter baby shower favor ideas come spring.

Lip Balm Thank You Cards

Make chapped lips smile with this thoughtful favor. Purchase this rustic, wintery thank-you card (it's a digital download from Etsy shop Crease Studio), and then pop on a round tub of lip balm. Leave one at each place setting for guests to discover during the meal. Choose lip balms in your shower's signature colors or buy an assortment of lip balm scents and guests can swap for their fave.

Mason Jar Apple Pie

When it's chilly outside, send home a favor that'll warm guests up later. Give your guests an almost fully baked mini apple pie they can finish in their own oven. Learn how to make them at Food Babbles. For February baby showers, add a little heart cutout on top to make this sweet dessert even more lovely.

Bird Feeder

Run Lucas Run's favor idea is for the birds in the best possible way. This clever heart-shaped thank-you gift for attending baby-to-be's big party is unexpected and different but always welcome. Guests can hang the pretty bird feed ornaments outside their window or on a tree in their yard and watch the birds enjoy.

S'mores to Go

This winter wonderland from Life with Grace features s'mores for guests to take home, ideally to enjoy over a warm fire. Guests of all ages will enjoy this favor for any winter party, and the packaging makes it even more precious.

Snowball Pops

This sweet treat from a Frozen-themed party is one you won't want to let go. Your guests will love these classic white "snowball" marshmallow pops from Yellow Bliss Road. Not only are they easy to create, they make a lovely, wintery display when lined up all in a row.

Snowflake-shaped soap

Choose from several colors and more than 100 scents for this glycerin soap shaped like a snowflake. They come packaged in a cello bag all ready for your big party, and you can choose whether to add ribbons and gift tags to your order at an extra cost. Available at Etsy shop Sweet Soap Treat.

Hot Cocoa Mason Jars

Everybody loves a warm beverage on a cold day. These adorable mason jars with snowflake decorations from Catch My Party show off the delicious layers of the hot cocoa experience. Add crushed peppermints for a minty twist, or decorate your jars with a small candy cane guests can use to stir their drink.

Tea & Honey Stick

A sachet of tea and a honey stick is just sweet enough for a winter baby shower, and it fits perfectly with this "Mommy to Bee" theme from Bonfires and Wine.

Glitter Feather Pens

These glitter-feather-decorated pens by Vintage Pretty are a perfect giveaway for an angel-themed baby shower. Gold and white brings all that glitters to the cold winter season.

Hot Cocoa on a Stick

Feel free to get creative with this hot chocolate on a stick from Make and Takes. Bake your own marshmallows if you like, but that's not required to make these economical and yummy favors that guests can pop into hot cocoa or even coffee.

—Kelley Gardiner

 

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Calm Before the Storm: Babymoons You Can Drive To

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Baby is on the way. Pretty soon your perfect duo is going to become a terrific trio. Take these last weeks to enjoy your alone time together with a romantic getaway. While traveling a great distance may be more of an undertaking then you feel you can handle, there are plenty of perfect spots only a short drive away. Check out our top picks for the perfect baby moon. Read on to find out more.

Seattle-brookcatherine53-flickr

photo: Seattle skyline by brookcatherine53 via flickr

Seattle

For a more active vacation, head to our neighbors to the north to take in some culture. If you haven’t been to Seattle lately (or ever), do the tourist thing and hit up Pike Place Market and Seattle Center with the Space Needle and Experience Music Project. If that’s old hat to you, explore the Old Ballard neighborhood from the comfort of the Hotel Ballard. While you’re there, don’t miss out on the Mexican food at La Carta de Oaxaca, and get the molé.

Hotel Ballard
From $239/night
5216 Ballard Ave. NW
Seattle, Wa
206-789-5012
Online: hotelballardseattle.com

View from Skamania Lodge-Jonathan Miske-flickr

photo: Johnathan Miske via flickr

Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge is perfect for a babymoon because it’s gorgeous year round and because of its close proximity to your Portland birthing center. Portlanders usually make this a day trip, but a longer stay will allow you and your sweetie to really relax and take in the natural splendor. Skamania Lodge has long been a favorite of Portlanders, as it’s only 45 minutes away from town, but has both a lovely natural setting and plenty of things to do. You may not feel up to ziplining this time around, but there are plenty of other things to do: a ride on the Sternwheeler, a photography tour, local waterfalls, or a mani/pedi at the spa. Or, get in a bucket at the driving range, or leave that up to your partner to tackle while you’re getting those toes you haven’t seen in awhile fancied up.

Skamania Lodge
1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way
Stevenson, Wa
509-427-7700
Online: skamania.com

photo: Ilya Gorenburg via flickr

Bend

Choose your adventure: Stay outside of town at a vacation rental to enjoy the high desert air and mountain views, or stay in town to check out arts, food, and entertainment. The High Desert Museum, just south of town, doesn’t just have historical exhibits, but also houses native animals like a bobcat, lizards, and birds of prey. In town, you’ll also find a few spas that offer prenatal massage, like the Jinsei Spa, which also offers couples’ massage if you’re so inclined. Dads-to-be get stressed, too! The Hillside Inn Bed and Breakfast is in a hip neighborhood, so you can walk to coffee shops and cafes. Plus, the balcony suite offers a little more privacy, being the only guest room on that floor.

Hillside Inn Bed and Breakfast
From $180/night
1744 NW 12th St.
Bend, Or
541-389-9660
Online: bendhillsideinn.com

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach-danebrian-flickr

photo: Brian Johnson and Dane Kantner via flickr

Cannon Beach

Cozy, but not too sleepy: If that’s what you’re looking for in your beach vacation, Cannon Beach is perfect. There are art galleries to peruse, shopping to do, and tasty food to eat, but we won’t blame if you if you just want to lounge in your chair, read a book, and watch the ocean for a few days. And the Stephanie Inn, with its ocean view rooms overlooking Haystack Rock, is the place to do it.

Stephanie Inn
From $319/night
2740 S. Pacific
Cannon Beach, Or
855-977-2444
Online: stephanieinn.com

Newport-Ryan Harvey-flickr

photo Ryan Harvey via flickr

Newport

While Cannon Beach trades in tourism, art and postcard-perfect views of Haystack Rock, Newport has a bit more hustle and bustle, with its touristy Mariner Square (with Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Waxworks, and Oregon Undersea Gardens), busy Bayfront district serving the busiest fishing harbor in the state, lighthouses, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. If you’re feeling up to crabbing or boating (those of you with stable stomachs and solid balance), the Embarcadero Resort has a marina, private crabbing dock and crab pot rentals. If you’d prefer to take it easy, enjoy the harbor view and floating in the resort’s salt water pool.

Embarcadero Resort
From $149/night
1000 Southeast Bay Blvd.
Newport, Or
541-265-8521
Online: embarcaderoresort.com

—Kelley Gardiner and Annette Benedetti

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Dig In! A Parent’s Guide to Portland Dining Month

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March in our town brings on a different kind of madness: Portland Dining Month. Restaurants throughout the city are offering crazy-awesome three-course meals for just $29. With a record 122 eateries participating this year, we dug through the list to bring you seven kid-friendly spots worthy of your next family feast. Read on for the scoop.

Ken W via Yelp bierbrasserie pdxphoto: Bazi Bierbrasserie via Yelp

Bazi Bierbrasserie
It may be a beer bar first and foremost, but kids are very much welcome at this unassuming spot off Hawthorne. And if the Timbers game is on, fans of all ages can enjoy it together on the big screen TV. Suggested beer pairings will be available for mom or dad to add on, too.

First course: Arugula salad with watermelon and feta
Second course: Tomato and kale soup
Third course: Choice of chicken sandwich with bacon and bleu cheese or housemade veggie burger

Sun.-Thur. 3-11 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 3 p.m.-1 a.m.
1522 S.E. 32nd Ave.
503-234-8888
Online: bazipdx.com

Country Cat-Hungry H-Yelpphoto: Hungry H. via Yelp

The Country Cat
Country Cat may have cheffy gourmet cachet, but they also offer crayons to toddlers. Kids are seen and heard here, so you know it’s a friendly place for an older kid to explore new foods and expand their palates a bit. And who would turn down their third course, cupcake in a jar?

First course: Wild mushroom Texas toast
Second course: Peel-and-eat shrimp with Meyer lemon and avocado
Third course: Chocolate cupcake in a jar with fudgy icing

Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. daily
Dinner: 5 p.m.-close daily
7937 S.E. Stark St.
503-408-1414
Online: thecountrycat.net

Kens Artisan Pizza-eyeliam-flickrphoto: eyeliam via flickr

Ken’s Artisan Pizza
Kids + pizza = love, and Ken’s is always a contender for the best pizza in town. You won’t get any arguments from kiddos about this one, and you might even get a view of the wood-burning oven as you wait for your pie. Pretty cool. Be aware, though—this place is popular enough that lines often form before the doors even open. Expect a wait, especially on weekends.

First course: Caesar salad
Second course: Fennel sausage and onion pizza
Third course: Brownie sundae

Mon.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.
Sun. 4-9 p.m.
304 S.E. 28th Ave.
503-517-9951
Online: kensartisan.com

La Calaca Comelona-Kevin V-Yelpphoto: Kevin V. via Yelp

La Calaca Comelona
When the weather starts to warm up, the patio and garden at La Calaca Comelona beckons with Mexican food that everyone can enjoy. But even on the coldest and rainiest night, “The Dancing Skeleton” is a colorful and welcoming place to tuck into a family meal.

First course: Sopa tarasca with pinto beans
Second course: Enchiladas morelianas stuffed with cotija cheese and onions, topped with oven-roasted pork
Third course: Corn flan

Mon.-Sat. 4-10 p.m. (closed Sun.)
2304 S.E. Belmont St.
503-239-9675
Online: lacalacacomelona.com

creme brulee ring side pdxphoto: RingSide crème brûlée by James A via Yelp

RingSide Steakhouse
Want to introduce junior to a classic white tablecloth dining experience? Portlanders have been enjoying fine service by tuxedoed waiters at Ringside for 65 years. And after a facelift in recent years, this favorite has been given new life. Their normal three-course menu is $39, so $29 is a steal.

First course: Choice of baked onion soup or mixed greens and vegetables salad
Second course: Steak medallions with chasseur sauce and seasonal vegetables; choice of side
Third course: Madagascar vanilla bean crème brûlée

Mon.-Wed. 5-11:30 p.m.
Thur.-Sat. 5 p.m.-midnight
2165 W. Burnside St.
503-223-1513
Online: ringsidesteakhouse.com

Hubers-Aurelius M-Yelp

photo: Huber’s by Aurelius H. via Yelp

Huber’s
The oldest restaurant in town is a great place to chat about Portland’s history… and in a classy but unfussy atmosphere, perfect for one-on-one parent-kid nights. They’re famous for their Spanish coffees. Yes, it’s very much an adult beverage,  but kids love the elaborate tableside show (think fancy pouring and fire) that comes with each order.

First course: Caesar salad
Second course: 6 oz. New York steak
Third course: Tiramisu

Mon.-Thur. 11:30 a.m.-midnight
Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sun. 4-11 p.m.
411 S.W. Third Ave.
503-228-5686
Online: hubers.com

Papa Haydn-yoruhana-flickr

photo: Papa Haydn by yoruhana via flickr

Papa Haydn East
No kid we know will turn down a trip to Papa Haydn, provided it ends with a trip to the famous pastry case to pick out one of the decadent desserts. The Westside location on NW 23rd is serving a salad with chicories to start, followed by a pork loin.

First course: Choice of organic field greens salad or house-smoked salmon profiteroles
Second course: Choice of Hama Hama clams with ramen noodles or mushroom risotto
Third course: Choice of any single dessert (!)

Mon.-Thur. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-midnight
Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
5829 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.
503-232-9440
Online: papahaydn.com

Insider Tips

  • Go as early as you can for dinner to avoid lines.
  • You’d be wise to pack a small snack for the kids (and yourself) in case you do end up waiting for a table.
  • The restaurants typically offer most of the items on their regular menus, in addition to the prix fixe courses, in case everyone in the family does not share the same level of sophistication in their palates.

Which Portland Dining Month prix fixe menu sounds best to you? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner

featured image: US Dept. of Agriculture via flickr 

 

7 Indoor Playspaces to Get the Winter Wiggles Out

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Kids need lots of time to run, jump, explore and play. When winter weather threatens to keep your clan indoors, or if local park is growing old, consider mixing things up with a trip to an indoor playground. These are some of our favorite indoor play spaces.

play-boutique

photo: Play Boutique

Play Boutique
Play Boutique is a little upscale, as the name might suggest, but without being too fancy. Sure, kids can enjoy “fruity fondue,” but there are also whole wheat corn dogs on the menu. Check the schedule for “stay and play” times, which offer open play on a drop-in basis. They also offer “drop and shop” services, where you can leave the kids in their hands for a few hours if you need to get some errands done.

464 First Street
Lake Oswego, Or
503-675-7529

12345 SW Horizon Blvd.
Beaverton, Or
503-352-5202
Online: playboutique.com

PlayDate PDX
Bring a date of your own, and catch up on some much-needed grown-up time as your kids jump in the foam pit. There’s Stumptown Coffee (or wine) for you, Wi-Fi, and plenty to keep the kids busy (climbing a castle, shooting foam balls) long enough to catch up with a friend or some work. It can get crowded, especially on weekends, so head there first thing in the morning for more peaceful play.

1434 NW 17th Ave.
Portland, Or
503-227-7529
Online: playdatepdx.com

Out of This World Pizza
Your kids will flip for this interstellar west side play area. One part pizza place, one part arcade and one part playground, you can keep all ages happy for hours at a time. Play time is unlimited, and there’s Wi-Fi for mom and dad while the kids climb through three stories of the “astronaut training center,” bounce houses and rock climbing walls.

6255 NW Century Blvd.
Hillsboro, Or
503-629-8700
Online: outofthisworld.net

munchkin-playland

photo: Munchkin Playland

Munchkin Playland
Looking for a tot-friendly play place where you won’t have to worry about your toddler? Muchkin Playland is a scaled-down play place especially for children under 42 inches, and they cater to the 4 & under set. Have an older kid? There’s a small area with a play kitchen and some other toys that they can enjoy, for a reduced fee. You’ll pay less for cruisers and crawlers, too, so you can enjoy a change of scenery without playing an arm and a leg.

18335 NW West Union Rd.
Portland, Or (Near Tanasbourne and Hillsboro)
503-533-5438
Online: munchkinplayland.com

Safari Sam’s
Safari Sam’s doesn’t mess around when it comes to family fun. They boast Oregon’s largest jungle gym, a more physically demanding jungle gym for kids 9 & up, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, bounce houses. There’s also a game room, if you have energy for skeeball after all that.

16260 SW Langer Dr.
Sherwood, Or
503-925-8000
Online: jungleoffun.com

jj-jump

photo: Courtesy of JJ Jump

JJ Jump
Hop your way to a good night’s sleep! Both locations have a variety of inflatables. There’s bouncing as well as mazes to make your way through, basketball hoops with balls and inflatable slides. The Clackamas location has an “Extreme” portion for older kids who’re looking for a bit more excitement: a zip swing, neon lights, climbing wall, and video games. For younger kids, check out the creative play area for a break from jumping.

9057 SE Jannsen Rd.
Clackamas, Or
503-723-3600

7500 NE 16th Ave., #2-D
Vancouver, Wa
360-213-2524
Online: jjjump.com

mjcc-portland-photo-by-naim-hasan-photography

photo: Naim Hassam Photography

Mittleman Jewish Community Center
Sometimes mom and dad want a playground of their own, and the MJCC has amenities that appeal to everyone from infants to seniors. Enjoy the indoor soccer field, pool, gym and a lot more. Club J offers supervised play time for ages 6-12, while mom and dad go do their own thing. Three times weekly, parents and kids up to 5 can drop in for indoor playground play ($5 for guests, free for members).

6651 SW Capitol Hwy.
Portland, Or
503-244-0111
Online: oregonjcc.org

What’s your family’s favorite indoor spot for letting off some steam? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner

From Pie to Thai: Cooking Classes for Kids

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Sweet and surprisingly good — just the kind of classes you want for your kids, right? Cooking classes not only satisfy the hunger burning in your little ones’ tummies but also their desire to make something of their own. We especially love getting kids in the kitchen as the holidays approach. Here are some fun places for kids and families to get hands-on experience learning how to cook and bake

turnip-the-heat-w-boys

Photo courtesy of Turnip the Heat

Turnip the Heat
Turnip the Heat has a cooking class for just about anyone who can mix up some batter. Preschool “cooking and tasting” classes for ages 3-5 are meant to introduce young minds and taste buds to new ideas and flavors ($10). Family classes like the upcoming Festive Fall Foods ($38) allow kids 8 and up to participate on their own or for parents to tag along. All classes end with an opportunity for the young chefs to sit down and enjoy the feast together.

Locations vary
503-317-2287
Online: turniptheheatcooking.com

Sur La Table
This kitchen company’s bread-and-butter is classes for adults, but kids can get on the action too. In fact, “Spooktacular” Halloween classes for kids Ages 8-14 are coming up. The whole family (ages 6 and up with participating adult) can get in on a Family Fun: Sweet Holiday Gifts class that makes chocolate peppermint bark, homemade marshmallows and cinnamon-coated graham crackers. Sounds like sticky good fun. Winter break also brings a 5-day cooking class for kids 8-12, with a tour through Mexico, Italy, Asia, America and a final day all about chocolate.

1102 NW Couch St.
Portland, Or
503-295-9685
Online: surlatable.com

the-merry-kitchen

Photo courtesy of The Merry Kitchen

The Merry Kitchen
Plenty of holiday fun is had in Julie Merry’s Merry Kitchen. Fall brings baking with apples and a full Thanksgiving dinner family class, and December brings gingerbread house making and edible gift making. Families can expect lots of fun themed classes designed to engage even the most hesitant chefs. The Star Wars and Harry Potter classes are sure to be a hit and might even turn your culinary skeptic into a fan of cooking. Register early, because classes do sell out. Note: family classes are held at a different location for more space. Classes are available for ages 3 and up.

5202 NE 72nd Ave.
Portland, Or
503-946-8357
Online: themerrykitchen.com

Portland’s Culinary Workshop
If your kid is serious about learning to cook (or serious about having fun and eating), send them to Portland’s Culinary Workshop. Classes for kids 8-12 and 6-12 include the principles of cooking, pasta from scratch, Thai food, vegetarian and vegan food and   cookies and pies. Most classes last 2 hours and cost $45.

807 N Russell St.
Portland, Or
503-512-0447
Online: portlandsculinaryworkshop.com

Blake’s Decorette Shop
The Decorette Shop is all about beautiful and bountiful sweets, so it’s no surprise that their classes are the same. Upcoming kids’ classes include volcano cake, Halloween candy making, cookie decorating and cupcake decorating. Be forewarned: you might have a hard time leaving the store without buying some cookie cutters or specialty sprinkles.

11945 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, Or
503-620-5100
Online: decoretteshop.com

nourish-nw-1

Photo courtesy of Nourish Northwest

Nourish Northwest
Need a palette cleanser after all that holiday indulgence? Nourish Northwest transforms whole foods and local and seasonal ingredients (yay veggies!) into healthy choices your kids will love to eat. Take one class ($30) or a four-class series ($100) in the Cooking Around the World series. Ages 7-12 are recommended and dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice. Note for gluten-free families: The Everything Pumpkin series is gluten-free.

4418 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Or
503-234-7280
Online: nourishnorthwest.com

Have your kids had a blast learning to cook at a local class? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner

Yarn Arts for Tots: Where to Get Knitting

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Kids love creating with their own hands -— and they love doing what mom and dad do, too. Knitting and other fiber arts take and teach hand-eye coordination and patience, and teach the satisfaction of watching small amounts of hard work turn into something beautiful and useful. Is your kid ready to learn finger knitting, crocheting or knitting with needles? Here’s how to get started!

knittingphoto: by apicturebookmind via Flickr

When to Get Started

Kids might be ready to knit or crochet between seven and ten years old, depending on their dexterity, attention span and patience. As Keli Hanson from Knit Purl in NW Portland told us, writing with a pencil and knitting use similar fine motor skills, so children comfortable writing or drawing with some precision should be relatively comfortable working needles and yarn. This YouTube video has lots of helpful hints, as does the popular book Kids Knitting. Crocheting may be even easier to teach.

Finger Knitting

Finger knitting is a way to get kids into yarn art before they have the dexterity to handle needles or the patience to fix stitches that will inevitably slip. Weave yearn over and around your fingers to create loose swatches that can turn into scarves or a red carpet for your dolls’ fanciest runway events. Check out a simple video on finger knitting.

Getting Started

When teaching kids to knit, you’ll want to start with yarn that isn’t too fuzzy, so they can see their stitches clearly. Many people tend to get big needles, thinking they’ll be easier, but little hands need scaled-down needles and yarn. Wood needles hold onto yarn more readily than metal. Make sure your needles or hooks are on the short side.

The best place to start with the very basics — figuring out what you’ll need if you don’t have a stash of your own — is your favorite local yarn shop. We’ve never been to one of these knitter’s paradises that didn’t have a friendly staff ready to convert new knitters and crocheters. Here are just a few of our area’s yarn shops that offer yarn art and knitting classes for kids.

Happy stitching!

Dublin Bay Knitting Company-Yelp

photo: Dublin Bay Knitting Company kids’ corner via Yelp

Dublin Bay Knitting Company
They love teaching kids to knit! There’s no age minimum at Dublin Bay, whose instructors have worked with yarn artists four years and older. Private lessons are available for $12 an hour, normally from noon-4 p.m. Call ahead at least a day or two in advance to reserve a time. Have a larger group? That can be accommodated, too. Just give a call to set it up.

1227 NW 11th Ave.
Portland, OR
503-223-3229
Online: dublinbay.net

Knitting Bee
Kids’ knitting circles with a dedicated instructor mean help just the way your little knitter needs it! Kids can learn from scratch, or get help with ongoing projects. Come to one session, or as many as you’d like. Pre-registration is required to hold your spot, at $15 for each 1.5-hour class.

10934 SW Barnes Rd.
Portland, OR
503-439-3316
Online: theknittingbee.com

Knit Purl
Children in Knit Purl’s Knitting Basics class have been accompanied by a parent or grandparent in the past — a great “Grownup and Me” date if you’re trying to learn about knitting yourself. Feel free to contact the store or the instructor with any questions.

1101 SW Alder
Portland, OR
503-227-2999
Online: knit-purl.com

Nitro Knitters
Nitro Knitters offers private lessons in their Beaverton store in Pacific Place Center, at $15 for half an hour (perfect for short attention spans), or $30 for an hour of one-on-one instruction.

10047 SW Nimbus Avenue
Beaverton, OR
503-372-9318
Online: nitroknitters.com

Northwest Wools
Northwest Wools supports knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving and felting, and many sessions start with a “tour” of the yarn shop, the different types of yarn available, and the different fiber arts that kids can participate in. Most classes are held on a private or semi-private basis, including advanced techniques for kids who’ve already learned the cast-on, cast-off, knit-one-purl-two basics.

3524 SW Troy St.
Portland, OR
503-244-5024
Online: northwestwools.com

Rewear
Rewear can set up individual lessons for your kids in any type of yarn art you would like — one hour of individual lessons usually runs $20, or set up small classes for a group of siblings or friends.

3335 SE Washington St.
Portland, OR
503-939-5673
Online: rewearkids.com

Starlight Knitting Company-Veronika Y-Yelp

photo: by Veronika Y. via Yelp

Starlight Knitting Society
Drop by anytime for personalized lessons and instruction. Lessons are $25-35 an hour depending on the instructor, but like many knitting shops, help is available for small questions on ongoing projects for no charge.

7028 SE 52nd Ave.
Portland, OR
503-777-1715
Online: starlightknittingsociety.com

Twisted
Twisted offers Learn to Knit classes just for kids, but they’ll often wait until they have a few requests to schedule one — so make a request! Classes are for up to four children ages eight and older, and are held in three one-hour sessions so everyone gets a chance to learn, practice, and thrive.

2310 NE Broadway
Portland, OR
503922-1150
Online: twistedpdx.com

Do you have a favorite yarn shop? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner

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With fall comes rain, and that’s not a bad thing — apart from being necessary and keeping our city beautiful it provide hours of active fun for little ones! You and your kiddos don’t have to stay cooped up just because of a few little raindrops. Get ready to romp, jump and splash because we have rounded up some of the best places to turn puddles into water play when the rain clouds start to roll in.

 

puddle-stomping

photo: by Will Graham via Flickr

Oregon Zoo
Might as well have something to look at while you’re stomping through the rain. The Oregon Zoo’s animals just might celebrate with you by jumping in some puddles of their own. There’s also plenty of covered area when you’re ready for a dry spell. Check the website for admission fees.

Location: 4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Phone: 503-226-1561
Online: oregonzoo.org

Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
These cool guided hikes take place rain or shine, so put on your boots and make your way through Leach Botanical Garden. Ages 2-5 can enjoy exploring the garden with age-appropriate guided activities. $3 per child, babes in arms free.

Location: 6704 SE 122nd Ave.
Phone: 503-823-9503
Online: leachgarden.org

Tiger-Oregon Zoo-brx0-flickr

photo: by brx0 via flickr

Ladybug Walks
Your preschooler can enjoy the best of the outdoors with staff from Portland Parks, mid-February through November. Ladybug Walks feature a different park to explore every week with plenty of fun places to stomp and splash when rain comes rolling in. So go a little or a lot. Stroller-friendly walks where noted. $4 per preschooler.

Online: portlandoregon.gov

 

Director Park
Splash in the middle of the city! Director Park is made for wading and splashing, with a fountain providing the water in the summer, and the sky providing the rain the rest of the year. There’s an oversize chessboard on the ground, a covered terrace, and two Elephant Deli Locations nearby for a snack and a warm drink.

Location: 815 SW Park
Online: portlandoregon.gov

Lan Su Chinese Garden
What better place to go stomp in the rain than a garden that’s designed for walking barefoot? Textured stones give a gentle massage to little feet (and big ones, too), with plenty of shelter as needed, beautiful views, and lots of koi to wave to. A stop at the teahouse for a hot drink and a snack will revive any enthusiasm that might be dampened by the weather. $9.50 adults, $7 6-18, 5 & under free.

Location: 239 NW Everett
Phone: 503-228-8131
Online: lansugarden.org

Director Park Portland-brx0-flickr

photo: by brx0 via flickr

Portland Children’s Museum
The Outdoor Adventure area is ripe with opportunity for discovery, even in wet weather. It’s more than an acre of ADA-accessible outside play space, it offers a  toddler area for the little ones, a dig pit, outdoor sculpture, and a maze too. When you’re done splashing in the outdoor camping area, head inside to warm up, dry off, and of course, play a little bit more.

Location: 4015 SW Canyon Rd.
Phone: 503-223-6500
Online: portlandcm.org

Westmoreland Park Nature Play Area
Have fun embracing the weather at this park that always puts nature first. When they’re done making makeshift shelters out of branches, they might like digging in the sand. During the summer, kids can pump water and create channels they can stomp and play in. Imagine what all they can create from the water falling from the sky?

Location: 7530 SE 22nd Ave.
Online: portlandoregon.gov

Dawson Park
Universal access play means that everyone can participate in the fun. In hotter months, there’s a gentle splash pad, so the park is ready for wet kids. If the rain gets too intense, take shelter in the park’s gazebo, or at nearby kid-friendly Poa Cafe.

Location: N Stanton St & Williams Ave.
Online: portlandoregon.go

Check out some of our other favorite Portland parks that rule in the rain.

 

What are your favorite parks for puddle stomping? Let us know in the comments!

–Kelley Gardiner

Your Guide to Safe Sleep for Baby

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You’ve probably heard that “back is best” and bumpers are better left out of cribs. But according to a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, many parents don’t follow safe sleep recommendations — especially in the middle of the night. Even when advised of the risks and knowing they were being videotaped, parents put their children to sleep in a non-recommended way. We all want what’s best for our babies, but we’re also all exhausted. Here, we’ve got a reminder of the basics for safe baby sleep, and a couple of ideas for how to keep up your resolve when all you want is for the kid to sleep for five more minutes.

Back to Sleep-Caitlin Regan-flickr

photo: Caitlin Regan via flickr

Back to Sleep
Place babies to sleep on their backs. Yes, you went to sleep on your stomach, and you survived (or so Mom tells you), but the best research we have available says back is best. Make sure any babysitters know to place your little one on their back to go to sleep. When baby can roll over by herself, put her on her back to start, and stop swaddling.

Clutter-free Crib
Babies should sleep on a flat, firm mattress. Cribs and other sleeping environments like bassinets should be kept free of stuffed toys, pillows, loose blankets and bumpers. Those bumpers that get handed down might be cute, but keep them for the doll crib. They aren’t safe. Sleep experts say that just because products are sold in stores doesn’t mean that they’re safe for your little one, surprisingly, and hand-me-downs may have been recalled or no longer recommended for use.

Sleeping with baby
Talk to your pediatrician if you’re planning on co-sleeping. In the AAP safe sleep study, bringing your baby to bed in the middle of the night was very common, and often done without letting the other parent know Baby is there, and without having a safe sleeping environment prepared.

Sleeping with baby on a couch is especially dangerous according to studies, so make a plan on how to stay awake during late-night feeding sessions (Netflix and nurse, anyone?). Yes, it’s cute when Baby and Dad fall asleep together, but give Dad a nudge to wake him up, or pick up your baby gently and put him down in a safe place.

Baby Sleep-Pixabay

photo: Pixabay

The takeaway? Parents are tired, and they want their babies to sleep. Parents are much more likely to put their children to sleep in their own beds, or on their stomachs, after getting up with the baby at least once. We get that! Sleep deprivation does not make for rational decision-making at 2 a.m. What can you do?

Make it easy on yourself and baby. Consider keeping a safe sleep environment in your bedroom where you can feed, change and check on your bundle as needed during the night without too much fuss and hassle.

Get as much rest as possible. If you take naps during the day, you’re less likely to be exhausted at night. We roll our eyes sometimes at “sleep when the baby sleeps,” especially when you have older kids, but instituting a personal naptime is not out of line.

Don’t be afraid to move baby after they’ve fallen asleep somewhere unsafe. If they fall asleep on the couch, move them. Yes, they might wake up, which seems like the worst possible outcome at the time, but trust that they’ll make up for it later.

Ask your pediatrician before trying something new. Dr. Google suggests a sleep positioner, or sleeping on a wedge, and you just want the reflux (screaming) to get better. We’re been there. But make a quick call or email to your doctor or nurse on call before trying something beyond the recommended firm, flat sleeping surface.

Ask for help if you need it. Being exhausted and barely able to function isn’t something you should have to suck up and push through. Sleep when you can, and if you’re breastfeeding, consider asking a partner to bottle-feed during the night if you’re having trouble making it through. Even if you had planned to breastfeed exclusively, you can feel proud of making the best choice for your baby.

What’s your favorite baby sleep advice? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner