Interview With Roller Girl Author, Victoria Jamieson

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Roller Girl, the children’s graphic novel, written by Portland author and mother, Victoria Jamieson, tells the story of Astrid, a young girl who falls in love with playing roller derby and the positive ways in which it impacts her life. The story centers on Portland’s league, the Rose City Rollers, and features familiar bridges and scenes, as well as a few local derby athletes, within the pages. Roller Girl has been on the NY Times Bestseller List for 17 weeks and recently won the Newbery Medal of Honor. Her second book, The Great Pet Escape, was just released this week. Here’s what we found out when we caught up with Jamieson.

Victoria Jamiesonphoto: Courtesy of Victoria Jamieson

RT: What’s your background? 

I grew up on the East Coast—first in Philly, and then in Florida. My mom worked both as a children’s librarian and an elementary school art teacher, so my brothers and I were constantly surrounded by books and art supplies—there was no escaping it! I always loved coloring books and drawing, and I just kept doing it.

My family moved to Florida when I was 12, and visits to Disney World convinced me I wanted to be a Disney animator. I went to the Rhode Island School of Design intending to major in Animation. My first few classes cured me of that, though! Animation required long, solitary hours, and I didn’t have the patience for it. I majored in Illustration instead.

After graduation I worked odd jobs in odd places (a cruise ship, a shopping mall in Montreal, a restaurant on Shark Beach in Australia). Eventually I landed in New York, where I got a job as a design assistant with HarperCollins Publishers. In 2009, my husband and I moved to Portland, and I’ve been writing books ever since.

Roller Girl Cover

photo: Suzie Ridgway

RT: What was your motivation for writing Roller Girl

I discovered roller derby in 2008 and immediately fell in love. After moving to Portland, my first priority after finding an apartment was to join the Rose City Rollers. I love everything about roller derby—the players, the comradery, the sport itself. I learned so much about myself playing roller derby and coaching others. I knew I wanted to write a book about roller derby eventually. At the same time, graphic novels for children were becoming more and more popular. The two seemed a perfect match.

RT: What did it feel like to win the Newbery Medal?  How did you hear of the news, how did you celebrate? 

Winning that award was… amazing. Surreal. I knew that the awards were announced that day (January 11th, the day after my birthday). Roller Girl had received many kind reviews, and I’d heard the words “Roller Girl” and “Newbery” together enough to get a little nervous about the announcements. There’s no shortlist like for the Oscars, however, so I really had no idea if it was even being considered by the committee, and I tried very hard not to get my hopes up.

The “call” goes out very early in the morning to the recipients. The convention was in Boston this year, so they called me at 6:30 a.m. EST, which was of course 3:30 a.m. here. I had just fallen asleep after feeding the baby. I then woke the baby with my screeches and my laughter. But it was worth it.Roller Girl 3

RT: How do you balance work/life with a little one? 

This is a tough one—I’m still trying to figure it out. He is 16 months old. He is in daycare part-time, and I treat those precious hours like gold. No phone calls, no goofing around on the internet- straight to work. Same thing when he goes down for a nap. I don’t care if I’m in the middle of cooking dinner- if I have an hour or two I use it. I also try to work after he goes to bed at 7:30 or 8, but lack of sleep sometimes gets the better of me in the form of sickness or unbearable grumpiness. I basically have no social life.  

RT: Any advice for moms who think they have a good idea for a children’s story?

My advice for anyone with an idea for a children’s book is to DO IT! The world needs more stories. My second piece of advice is to educate yourself about the business. A wonderful resource for this is SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). It’s an international organization and the Portland chapter is just wonderful. They offer workshops and critiques throughout the year, and a big conference once a year in the spring (registration just opened for this).

Also, not to sound too self-serving, but I teach a Continuing Education course in Writing & Illustrating Children’s Books at Pacific Northwest College of Art. The next one starts April 2nd. Everyone is welcome, no matter your experience or skill level. And lastly, I would recommend attending events at our wonderful Portland children’s book stores: Green Bean Books, A Children’s Place, Annie Bloom’s and of course Powell’s. Portland has a very vibrant and welcoming group of children’s book writers and illustrators—join us!

Roller Girl 1

RT: What’s next? 

I’m working on my next graphic novels now. My newest graphic novel, The Great Pet Escape, was just released on February 16th. It’s about classroom pets running amok in a school at night. I’m currently writing my next graphic novel for middle grade readers. It’s not a sequel to Roller Girl, but I hope the same audiences will enjoy it.

Find out more about Victoria Jamieson online at

Every child who picks up this book cannot put it down until they have read it from cover to cover. Have your kids read Roller Girl? Let us know in the comments below! 

—Suzie Ridgway

11 Awesome Apps for Portland Parents

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So many apps out there seem to fall into one of two camps—incredibly useful or completely useless. To that end, we checked out some of the handiest apps for Portland parents and have located 11 we think are the best. Whether you’re hopping on TriMet or heading to one of the Multnomah County Libraries, saving money with the Chinook Book or looking for the restroom inside Powell’s, take a quick minute to download these essential apps that will make life as a parent a little less busy and a lot more fun.

Take a Walking Tour

The free GPSmyCity app allows you to take a self-guided walk through over 470 cities around the world, including Portland. The app notifies walkers about everything from famous attractions to hidden gems as you stroll along.

Available on iPhone, iPad and iTouch at for free.

  • Permission from if use link in article as credit

What are your favorite apps as a Portland parent? Let us know in the Comments below!

— Suzie Ridgway

Mission Possible: Indoor Skydiving at iFLY

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a birthday girl! Don a flight suit and goggles with your kids, then take your turn at feeling the rush of air pushing you up with a force around 100 mph. iFLY Portland just opened its 12th indoor skydiving location in Tigard and is the only indoor skydiving facility in Oregon. Here’s what we discovered when we defied gravity for ourselves.iFLY


photo: Courtesy of iFLY

Before Your Flight

Show up one hour prior to your scheduled flight and sign waivers at one of the computers in the downstairs lobby. The staff will call your name to give you wristbands before you head upstairs to the main area.

Benches surround the the wind tunnel so you can sit and watch as other people one at a time perfecting their Superman-style position with the help of an instructor. The cylindrical tunnel is 14 feet across. There’s a somewhat flexible mesh floor with wind pushing up from the basement three stories below. Four clean electric motors power the wind in the tunnel.

About 30 minutes before your flight, you will go into a small room, be introduced to your instructor, then you’ll be shown a short video. The video shows optimal body positioning as well as what three different hand signals used in the tunnel mean. Because it is so loud in the wind tunnel, you have to wear earplugs. The hand signals are for the instructor to get you in optimal flying position by straightening your legs, bending your legs or reminding you to relax.

After your short training session, you’ll go to the equipment Gear Up counter to receive your flight suit, helmet, goggles and ear plugs. Now’s a good time to corral your kids into the nearby restroom, before zipping up your flight suit, which goes on over your clothes.

Tips for Your Flight
Leave the jewelry at home, or lock it up in a nearby locker because no jewelry can be worn (that includes wedding rings) and long hair will need to be tucked up inside your helmet. Be sure to wear shoes that fit well and tie on tight. They have some in all sizes for borrowing in case you forget yours.

iFLY Tunnel

photo: Courtesy of iFLY

During the Flight

Your crew will sit on a bench near the tunnel and when it’s your turn, the instructor will let you know. You enter the tunnel doorway with your arms crossed over your chest as the instructor guides you in. Once you enter, you immediately take your proper flying form. Luckily, you have to keep your chin up, because beyond the mesh floor is a drop to the basement, three stories below. An instructor is with you the whole time. There are handles on your flight suit to let them easily position you or to keep you centered, away from the tunnel walls. There’s a screen that tells you how fast the wind is moving and counting your time down. This is also the area where your photo and video is being taken. Smile!

Flights last one minute. Near the end of your minute, the air cranks up and the instructor will fly you up about two stories and circle around for a High Fly. They usually do this twice for each person during the last 10 seconds of your flight. It’s breathtaking and completely worth it, but you have the option not to do it if you don’t want to. Lights will flash when your flight is about to end, then the instructor will help fly you to the door. Grab the door frame with both hands and gently touch down outside the tunnel.

After everyone in your crew has flown, the instructor will take a turn flying and showing you all kinds of cool stuff, like flips, twists and sticking to the walls like Spiderman. They’ll fly to the top of the tower, then dive bomb down and either stop just before the mesh floor, or gently bounce off of it.

After the Flight

Last, you’ll head back over to the counter, return your gear and receive certificates if you were able to fly for any length of time unassisted. On your next visit, you’ll be able to learn new things, like chair sits, progressing each time from there. At the counter, you can also purchase photos and videos of your family’s flights.iFLY Portland

photo: Courtesy of iFLY

More Opps for Flying

Mid-January, iFLY Portland will be offering up a Kids’ Club after school activity program for ages 3-17. Kids can play fun flight games and learn about being part of a team, how to stretch properly, how to fly with others and how to create routines. Each Tuesday, kids will take turns flying for 5 minutes. The Tunnel Tots club is for kids ages 3-9 and The Flying Forces club is for kids 10-17. Photos and videos are included in the price. $275/child for 4 sessions (total of 20 minutes flying time). Kids Club and adult league information can be found here.

iFLY also offers field trips and homeschool STEM-based programs, depending on your needs. More info about their educational programs can be found here.

The Details

Plan on the entire experience lasting 1.5 hours, start to finish.

Pricing: $69.95 is the starter package that includes 2 flights for one person and all the gear. Click here for a full list of flight packages.

Also, if you have had a shoulder dislocation, back injury, weigh over 250 lbs. or are pregnant, you should not fly. A full list of restrictions can be found on their website.

Ages: 3 & up
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.; 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat.; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.
10645 SW Greenburg Rd.
Tigard, Or

Have you ever dreamed of skydiving but were afraid to leave the ground? Let us know in the comments below!

–Suzie Ridgway

Portland Writers’ Resolutions for 2016

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Meet your Portland Red Tricycle writers, bringing the best of the best parent stuff to you on the regular. Not only are they an uber-talented, hard-working crew, they’re also moms, dads and community-minded folks just like you –braving the throngs of hipsters at the latest food carts, composting everything, washing mountains of cloth diapers and stomping through thick mud in the rain to find the perfect holiday tree. Read on to find out what they’re hopeful for and working hard to accomplish in 2016. Happy New Year, Portland readers! We love you!

Ty Adams

In addition to perfecting my sand bunny sculpting skills, my resolution for 2016 is to get more involved in the non-profit I founded to promote sustainability and renewable energy education for kids. After recently publishing a fun, little children's book this month that goes to support the charity, I'm also looking to improve as a shameless self-promoter and marketer extraordinaire. (I'm probably jumping the gun a bit on that one.) Anyone whose resolution is to support more educational non-profits can check it out at

What’s your resolution for the new year? Let us know in the comments below!

–Suzie Ridgway

A Howling Good Time: Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge

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If you’re looking for a holiday trip that’s nearby but feels like a storybook world away, it’s time to make a reservation at Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge. Pack up the kids, pjs, swimsuits and wizard capes and point the car north for a smile-inducing, festive and active holiday vay-cay the family will be talking about all year long. Here’s the inside scoop on what we discovered when we checked out ourselves.

Great Wolf Lodge - Gingerbread House

photo: Suzie Ridgway


It’s Snowland time at Great Wolf Lodge and that means everything is decked out for the holidays, from special family suites to Santa visits. You see it as soon as you enter the lobby: huge snowflakes suspended from the ceiling, cascading white lights, sparkling holiday trees and green garlands all greet you. Periodically throughout the day, the lobby is also filled with indoor snowflakes (aka bubbles) falling from the ceiling.

On the other side of the lobby’s Clock Tower, Santa is perched and ready for his close-up. You can’t miss him: he’s next to a life-size gingerbread house made from real gingerbread. If you make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House, your family can eat dinner sitting at the table inside the house. Kids can also visit Santa’s letter writing depot to write a letter to Santa and mail it in his official mailbox in the grand lobby.

Great Wolf Lodge - Cookies and Violetphoto: Suzie Ridgway

As part of this festive experience, many of the guest rooms are specially decorated with white christmas trees with blue ornaments, swags of green garland draped over headboards and curtain rods, along with a special snowflake bedding throw and shower curtain. A story book, Unique as a Snowflake, and soft, fleece blanket are under the tree, waiting for you to take them home. Last, but not least, the staff will quietly let you know at check-in what time that night a Great Wolf Kids character will be showing up at your door to deliver milk and cookies. Just ask for a Snowland Suite when you make your reservations.

great wolf lodge splash zone

photo: Great Wolf Lodge via Yelp 

Indoor Water Park

The water park is undoubtedly the main attraction at the lodge and is perfect for families and friends with a variety of ages, from babies to teens. The room is kept at a balmy 84 degrees. There’s an enormous wave pool with churning waves that goes from zero depth to 5-feet. Get ready for the waves to begin when you hear the wolves howling! A second large pool provides basketball hoops, floating animals to climb on and a rope challenge course. For the brave-hearted, the Howlin’ Tornado, River Canyon Run and Alberta Falls slides wait for riders with two and four-person rafts.

For babies, toddlers and preschoolers, there’s a zero depth, dump bucket area with fountains, a couple of crawl-around forts, slides and water shooters that they can sit on like motorcycles. The red and yellow slides, Totem Towers, on the climbing structure, Fort Mackenzie, provide enough fun for kids who are done with the toddler slides, but not quite ready for the big ones. Watch out when you hear the cowbell ringing, it means gallons of water are about to come rushing to the floor below from a giant Great Wolf Lodge bucket on the top of the fort.

Safety reigns supreme here. Lifeguards are everywhere and there’s a variety of different sized life jackets available at no extra charge are stationed at a kiosk between the two large pools. Clean towels are also provided in the pool area at no extra charge.

great wolf jen k via yelpphoto: Jen K. via Yelp


There’s something magical indeed about letting your kids roam around, getting exercise while hunting for clues with their magic wands. If they’re old enough to find their way back to you, you can let them roam on their own. Head to the MagiQuest store on the lower level to select and activate your wand. The staff will also give you a book on how to get started and what you’re looking for throughout the exploratory journey. The first clue hunt, MagiQuest, will take questers on a walk for a total of over 10 miles and 60 flights of stairs throughout the resort. The Shadow Quest hunt, the second hunt, is to be done on your next trip. Insider tip: try not to reserve a room near a stairwell! Kids are constantly running up and down them, starting as early as 8:15 a.m. and late into the evening.

If your kiddo is too little for the quests, or if you’re short on time, you can just buy and activate a wand at the MagiQuest store, and go around pointing at stuff throughout the lodge. The wand will make squirrels teeter-totter, raccoons swing, bear rug eyes light up, treasure boxes sparkle and pictures on walls to speak.Wand and Paw Pass

photo: Suzie Ridgway

Activity Passes

The lodge is great in the fact that activities can be done a la carte or as part of a package. The Paw Pass ($79.99), for example, comes with a lanyard to be worn by each child. On the back, is a list of exactly what they can get on the back of the pass. In addition to saving 42% off the price of adding the same items a la carte, they’re also high on the easiness factor, which we love, because it takes the the guesswork out of figuring out which activities to do. As a bonus, you walk away with enough quality souvenirs, like a wand, a personalized leather bracelet and a stuffed animal, to name a few, to keep you out of the gift shop on your way out. Possibly. See a list of Packages here.

Great Wolf Lodge Scoops

photo: Suzie Ridgway

Kids’ Spa and Arcade

As if all of the other fun wasn’t enough, there’s also a kids’ spa, Scoops, where you sit on ice cream sundae benches and get manicures, pedicures and mud masks. There’s also a the Northern Lights Arcade that rewards kids with tickets to redeem.


The lodge is a like an enormous island unto itself, meaning that you don’t need to go off the property for anything, including food. There are several restaurants, snack shacks and treat shops around the main lobby, upstairs and in the pool area. Be sure to buy the breakfast buffet at The Loose Moose Cottage at least once on your trip. It’s totally worth it for even the pickiest of eaters and includes everything from fruit, yogurt, cereal and pastries to bacon, waffles and eggs cooked to order. If you need a restroom, there are none in the two main restaurants, but there are airport-sized ones just off the main floor lobby, just after Starbucks.


Great Wolf Lodge Diaper Den

photo: Great Wolf Lodge

Insider Scoop

Making travel even more convenient, Great Wolf Lodge just added the Diaper Den program for guests with babies. Just ask for a Pack ‘n’ Play when you book your room and the staff will proactively place a Diaper Genie in your room to keep that distinctive diaper smell at bay. They’ll even give you a voucher for a free swim diaper for the pool.

When you check in, each adult will receive a wristband that acts as their water park pass, room key and room charge card all in one. Kids will receive a wristband that only gets them into the water park, but they also get fuzzy wolf ears to wear.

Included in your stay is access to the water park, fitness center, unlimited WiFi, Great Clock Tower and evening Story Time. The Great Clock Tower friends come to life periodically throughout the day, providing stories and songs about the northwest. PJ story time also happens each evening, in the same spot just off the grand lobby, near the massive fireplace.

Great Wolf Lodge Baby with Wolf Ears

photo: Great Wolf Lodge via Yelp

Water park access is available at 1 p.m. on the day you check into your room, even if you’re not able to get into your room until 4 p.m. And you can stay all day at the water park until 9 p.m. after you check out of your room.

Got leftovers, snacks or mimosa fixins? There’s a mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker in the room. Also, there’s an in-room recycling bin, as well as a trash can.

Check the website for discounts on rooms and activities.


Snowland runs now through January 3rd.

Rooms start at $299.99/night.

Great Wolf Lodge
20500 Old Hwy. 99
Centralia, WA

Have you checked out Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!

–Suzie Ridgway

New Community Hub: Gnome’s Home

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If homesteading makes you think of relocating to the forest, we’ve got a big surprise for you. Gnome’s Home, a new and cozy community hub, just opened its doors in October and offers creative classes in self-sufficiency for adult and children including canning, perfume mixology and simple doll-making. Read on to see why we fell in love with Gnome’s Home when we took a peek inside.
Gnomes Home - Families Together

credit: Pauline Zonneveld

The Space

If you’ve never been, the space is a hidden gem. Located behind (and in the backyard) of the Heart in Hand preschool, near the corner of Killingsworth and 30th Ave., you could easily walk by and not notice. A few doors down from Milagro’s Boutique, on the same side of the street, is look for the little Heart in Hand sign posted on a fence. Open the gate, cross through the large front yard and then head through the house out into the backyard. There you will see a brand new structure, dubbed the Gnome’s Home.

Inside, the space is super clean, organized with a carefully planned layout. The floor plan is open, with plenty of windows that let natural light stream into the room. In the main area is a kitchen area and a big, soft, circular rug to sit on while you chit chat and learn how to do things.

There is a large, fenced outdoor play space, as well, complete with a chicken coop and a play structure. The outdoor area is mulched and under the cover of trees, so kids can go out rain or shine.

Gnomes Home - Tallulah with Waldorf Doll

credit: Pauline Zonneveld

Classes for Kids and Their Kinfolk

Adult and child classes are offered individually or in seven week sessions, depending on the class. Families together can learn yoga moves, take Suzuki-based violin lessons, or do a little doll crafting, cinnamon cookie baking, DIY holiday cards and wreath-making. Individual classes are from $15-$80 and the seven-week sessions are $100 for an adult and child. Additional children can attend for $25 each. Check the class schedule here to find out what’s coming up and when to enroll.

Waldorf Parent Child Classes are also offered weekly for parents with kids up to 4 years for $200. They take place every Tuesday morning from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and introduce parents and children to the Waldorf approach to parenting, as well as to the Waldorf school curriculum.

Adult Classes 

If you’re looking for a regular night out of the house to craft up a little social time, here’s a solution. Learn how to make essential oil perfume and about homesteading, like gardening, canning, plant dyeing, keeping chickens and how to take care of sick children. Some of the classes allow kids to accompany parents. Just make sure you check each class description first. In general kids 10 and over are welcome. Heart in Hand Table

credit: Pauline Zonneveld

The Owner

Owner, Yvonne de Maat has been a certified Waldorf teacher since 2005 and is also a Simplicity Parenting group leader and yoga instructor. On most days at the Heart in Hand Preschool, you can find de Maat joyfully singing, baking, crafting and telling folk tales through puppets with the little ones.

Heart in Hand Preschool and Gnome’s Home
5405 NE 30th Ave.

What homesteading classes would you like to take? Let us know in the comments below!

—Suzie Ridgway




10 Things You HAVE to Do in November

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When the leaves and apples are down, we always turn to November to provide us with the key to the holidays. From BMX bikes and girls with microscopes to tree lightings and sci-fi dance parties, the following activities will keep your family busy while you’re dreaming of turkeys and gifts. Here are 10 things you need to do this month in Portland.

Nitro Circus

photo: Nitro Circus by stickergiant via flickr creative commons

1. See Flying Bike Stunts at Nitro Circus 
Watch the best of the best BMX bike athletes and FMX (freestyle motocross) riders perform high flying, unbelievable stunts, jumps and routines at this circus themed show. Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m., $49-$89/person, All Ages. Event details.

2.DIY at Barnes & Noble’s Mini Maker Faire
As part of Barnes & Noble’s commitment to building literacy in children, they’ve partnered with Make: Magazine to present a Mini Maker Faire at every Barnes & Noble store across the nation for this weekend. Maker Faires are community-based learning events that inspire everyone to become a Maker and connect with people and projects in their local community. Guests ages five and up can experience hands-on learning and making opportunities in creative thinking, art, design, construction, programming, coding and 3D printing. Nov. 6-8, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Free, Ages 5 & Up. Event details.

GirlFest 2015

photo: Courtesy of GirlFest


3. Girl Power at GirlFest
Celebrate all the cool things about being a girl with the Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington, with activities and entertainment including tribal belly dancing, photography, creating origami cranes and how to wire a light. You don’t have to be a Girl Scout to participate. Nov. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $10-$15; Free for kids under 4, All Ages. Event details.

4. Honor Our Vets at Portland’s Veterans Day Parade 
Grab the kids and mini flags and share your love for veterans at Portland’s one and only Ross Hollywood Veterans Day Parade that’s been honoring the lives and service of veterans for over 40 years. The parade will be making its way through the Hollywood District, filled with veterans, marching bands, floats and community groups starting at NE Tillamook and 40th Ave., heading up Sandy, ending at NE 48th. Nov. 11, 9:45 a.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.

Happy Carrot

photo: kyntharyn74 via flickr creative commons

5. Veggie Lovers Unite at VegFest
If you’re a vegetarian or looking to lessen your animal products consumption in general, the annual VegFest will have plenty of resources for you, with 100 vendors, chef demos, free samples and speakers focusing on subjects including proper nutrition as a vegan athlete and on raising vegan children. Nov. 14-15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., $5-$8/person; Free for kids 12 & Under, All Ages. Event details.

6. Get Wild About Art
Go wild with the Portland Audubon Society’s Wild Arts Festival, featuring nature-inspired art and books. Poets, artists and children’s author readings will take place throughout the weekend. Audubon’s education birds will be there, too, so kids can get up close to vultures, hawks and owls. Nest boxes and handcrafted items for gifting (or keeping) will also be available for purchase. Nov. 21, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Nov. 22, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.

Oregon Zoo Turkey Trot

photo: Oregon Zoo Turkey Trot by Dave Green

7. Trot With Your Tots
Before the big meal, put on those turkey costumes, pack up the jog stroller and head down to the zoo for the Turkey Trot, an annual 4-mile, untimed, multi-generational stroller-friendly walk/run that takes participants from the zoo to the International Rose Gardens. Three kid-only fun runs take place as well. Definitely stay after for the post-race pumpkin pie. $25,000 of race entry fees benefit the zoo animals. Nov. 26, 8 a.m., All Ages. Free, Event details.

8. Floats + Santa = Holiday Kickoff
Skip the early morning black Friday shopping and head to downtown Portland instead for this beloved annual parade of marching bands, 25 floats and 650 costumed characters and the arrival of Santa. After the parade, join Santa in Santaland, downstairs at Macy’s. Nov. 27, 9 a.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.

pioneer-square-christmas-treephoto: Glenn Williams via flickr creative commons

9. Get Festive at the Tree Lighting Ceremony
Gather with thousands of other Portlanders at the Square to celebrate the annual lighting of the 75-foot Douglas Fir, provided by Stimson Lumber Company, followed by live music and holiday sing-alongs. Rumor has it that the square is packed by as early as 4 p.m. the day of the lighting, so get there as early as you can. Nov. 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.

10. Set Phasers to “Fun” for OryCon
Cos play wearing sci-fi lovers will flock to the convention center this weekend for gaming, art buying, trading collectibles and getting up close to meet sci-fi-influenced illustrators, authors and musicians. The OryKids programming for children includes gaming, crafts, music, science and writing-based activities, along with costuming workshops and a dance party. OryKids activities are best suited for kids 3 & up. Nov. 20-22, times vary (see website), $20-$35/adult per day; $10-$15/kids 6-12 per day; Free for kids 5 & Under, All Ages. Event details.

What do you love about November in Portland? Let us know in the comments below!

—Suzie Ridgway

Fall in Love with Junie B. Jones: The Musical

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The spunky, spitfire elementary kid, Junie B., from the beloved chapter books by Barbara Park, sings her heart out about her struggles and triumphs on stage for the Oregon Children’s Theatre production, Junie B. Jones: The Musical. Whether you’re an old fan, or it’s your first time meeting Junie B., this wacky-hour of belly-laugh inducing fun will not disappoint. Grab your tiny theatergoers and read on for our inside scoop on the show.

Junie B Crewphoto: Owen Carey

The Story

The play is an adaptation of the book, Junie B. Jones: First Grader (at last!) and follows this feisty girl as she makes her way through first grade. Her story includes writing in her Top Secret Personal Beeswax Journal, getting her first pair of glasses, navigating new and old friendships, riding the school bus, getting a new lunchbox, eating sugar cookies and performing in the kickball tournament’s halftime show—all with big lessons learned along the way.

The snappy music and dance numbers include 16 songs that are incredibly memorable and catchy. Kids will love the opening number, and will begin howling with laughter when Lucille, Camille and Chenille introduce themselves. Future playgoers should be warned. Top Secret Personal Beeswax will be firmly implanted in your brain for days after the play, even if your kid isn’t singing it at the top of her lungs.

Junie B. Jones Art Activitiesphoto: Suzie Ridgway

Before & After

Get to the theater early because upstairs, kids will have the opportunity to to craft up some Junie B.-style glasses with materials provided by Art a la Carte an hour before showtime. The craft tables are easy to spot on the second floor near the elevators. Upstairs, you can also see sketches, by artists Adrian Wallace and Becky Hawkins, from dress rehearsals hanging on a wall between the elevator and concessions for people to view up close.

Junie B Jones Sketchphoto: Adrian Wallace sketch by Oregon Children’s Theatre via Facebook

After the show, stick around for autographs with the characters from the performance. The line is really long though, so make sure your little one is up for the wait.

Looking for more to do before or after the play? The Multnomah Library’s Central location (801 SW 10th) is close, or get those wiggles out while running around the South Park Blocks behind the Newmark, between SW Park and 9th avenues. The theater also has a list of nearby activities and restaurants. Click here to see it.

Eat, Drink & Go Potty

There’s a concession stand on the second floor of the Newmark for the youngest among us if you’re looking for a super quick bite, like a giant pretzel, chocolate chip cookie, candy or a bag of chips. But, if you’re looking for more options, hit 21st Century Pizza (1221 SW Jefferson) for slices. Because the show is only 60 minutes, be sure to head to the restroom before the show, as there’s no intermission. Also, only closed containers are allowed in the theater, so drink the wine you purchased in the downstairs bar and eat any food that you have before finding your seats.

The play is one of the OCT’s Ticket to Read performances, whose mission is to link literacy with live theater. The program gives low-income students a free theater ticket and a copy of the Junie B. Jones book upon which the play was based. The program is designed to get kids even more excited about reading. Want to know more about it? Click here.

OCT June B. Jones Junie and Herb                                                photo: Owen Carey

Getting There

Parking can be tricky downtown, so give yourself plenty of time to secure a spot. If you’re lucky enough to find street parking on Broadway, make sure you find one that can handle 90 minutes. You could also park in the nearest lot two blocks away at the Fox Tower (775 SW Taylor), or Smart Park (123 SW Jefferson).

There’s a set of elevators and ADA restrooms making the Newmark Theater accessible for wheelchairs, as well as strollers.

When: Showing now through Nov. 22nd
Cost: ranges from $14-$32.
Where: Newmark Theatre
Antoinnette Hatfield Hall
1111 SW Broadway
Ages: 4 & up

Do you love Junie B. Jones and will you be going to see the musical? Let us know in the comments below!

—Suzie Ridgway

6 Scenic Places to Park for Nap Time

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One minute you’re belting out Elmo tunes in a duet with your tot and then suddenly you’re performing a solo: welcome to the car nappers club. The next time your kiddo sacks out mid-errand, don’t rush home and unbuckle (we mean wake) them. Just head to one of these scenic spots where you can let them nap while you take in the view, catch up on emails or catch a few winks yourself. Click through the slideshow to see our picks.

Council Crest

After hitting the massive playground in Washington Park, exploring the Portland Children's Museum or checking out the zoo, use your GPS to guide you to SW Council Crest Dr., where you'll find the park at 1,073 ft. above sea level - the highest point in Portland.

SW Council Crest Dr.

photo: Pixabay via creative commons


Do you have a special parking place to offer up to other parents?  Let us know in the comments section!

—Suzie Ridgway


Make Some Noise at OMSI’s New Guitar Exhibit

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Get ready for your kids to unleash their inner Guitar Heroes. With the world’s largest playable guitar, a rave room, custom rock star photos and dozens of guitars on display, OMSI’s new exhibit, Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World, is definitely going to rock yours. Read on to get the scoop.

OMSI Kids And Giant Guitar

credit: OMSI

The World’s Largest Guitar

Walk in and behold every hair band rocker’s dream: wall-to-wall guitars under glass, including a larger than life, 43.5-ft. long, 16 ft. wide, 2,244 lb. Gibson Flying V, the world’s largest, playable electric guitar. This monster axe was built by the Academy of Science and Technology in Houston and was certified the largest by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001. Kids are allowed to climb on it, turn the knobs (almost to 11) and pluck its thick strings.OMSI Guitar Ock Rock

credit: Suzie Ridgway

Keep on a’Rockin

An impressive collection of every guitar imaginable is situated throughout the large hall, including the ancient Chinese pipa that can be traced back to the Quin Dynasty. You can also ogle modern acoustic and electric guitars on display, like the the Ock Rock, the only playable 8-neck guitar in the world, as well as—wait for it—the air guitar. Facts accompany each of the guitars that range from antiques to guitars of the future that include televisions built right into the instrument’s body. Touchscreen displays in the exhibit allow for hands-on fun throughout with a variety of games that expose kids to the sounds and stories of different instruments. Other highlights include music you can play with flip-flop soles, and an impressive array of percussion implements including xylophones

OMSI Guitar: Touchscreens

credit: OMSI

The Science of Sound

Keep an eye on the the clock over the stage near the front of the exhibit as it counts down to the next Science of Sound show. You’ll know it’s starting when you hear the gong. Grab a seat on the rows of benches and get ready learn about how sound travels through air, how sound waves can make a candle flame flicker and more with the help of a charismatic, lab-coat wearing scientist/performer playing with Tesla coils, water goblets and a Ruben’s Tube.

OMSI Guitar La'Ha

credit: Suzie Ridgway

Rave On

Head toward the rear of the exhibit, on the cafeteria side, and you’ll see a small, black tented area with jams pumping out of it. This is the La’Ha Laser Music Room. An iPod lets kids control whether the music will be Ambient, Drum Circle, Spoken Weird, Trap, Glitch Hop or House. After that, it’s up to the other people in the room to break the laser beams on the metal, triangular structure in the center of the room to add sounds to the music already in progress. It’s like a family rave in there.

OMSI Guitar photo maker

credit: Suzie Ridgway

The Picture Maker

Don’t leave without having your kids’ photo snapped in front of the giant white screen near the back of the exhibit. You can customize it into a rock n’ roll photo with disco balls, lights, microphones, guitars and stencil designs using a remote control that looks like a tiny spray paint can. Take one home for $5 or just have fun creating it for free. Additional copies for friends are just .50 cents.

Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World runs now through Jan. 10, 2016
1945 SE Water Ave.
9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
$9.50-$13.50; free for members and children 2 & under; $5 parking

Are you planning to rock out at this awesome exhibit? Let us know in the comments below!

—Suzie Ridgway