Expert Advice about COVID-19 Vaccines and Safety for Kids

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After a long and anxious wait, COVID-19 vaccines are now available for kids age 5 to 11. Getting young kids vaccinated is critical for protecting our communities, since this is a large age group, and taking this step will give millions of parents peace of mind. 

Paul Lewis, MD, a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician in Portland, Oregon, who specializes in infections in kids, says that as winter and the holidays approach, this is a good time to get kids vaccinated. He suggests using the COVID-19 vaccine authorization as an opportunity to get kids caught up on other vaccinations as well, since many people have fallen behind on regular appointments during the last 18 months. He also suggests that all children over 6 months old get their flu shot this year. Fortunately, he says, it’s no problem to get both shots at the same time.

We know parents, caregivers, and others may have questions about the safety of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. In this Q&A, Dr. Lewis answers common questions about it.

Have your own questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? We’re hosting a Facebook Live with Dr. Lewis on Tuesday, November 30 at 12:15pm PST. Submit your questions for Dr. Lewis below!

 

How well does the COVID-19 vaccine work for kids?

For kids under 12, the COVID-19 vaccine is incredibly effective. A recent study, affirmed by the Food and Drug Administration, that included more than 3,000 kids who got the pediatric dose of the vaccine found that it was more than 90% effective at preventing infection with symptoms.

 

How does the vaccine for children 5 to 11 differ from the vaccine for people 12 and older?

The pediatric vaccine is identical to the vaccine that’s used for older teenagers and adults, but the dose is one-third of the adult dose. That dosage was chosen because it was just as effective at providing protective antibodies but had a much lower rate of side effects.

What are the most common side effects?

Of the thousands of kids who were part of that recent study, zero had serious adverse events. Some kids get sore arms, redness or swelling, and a smaller percentage might get fatigue, muscle aches or fever. But they’re getting side effects at lower rates than teenagers and adults.

 

What is the risk of myocarditis?

Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, has occurred in young men who’ve been vaccinated but is pretty rare, with a handful of cases per million vaccination doses. Many cardiologists think that, since this is generally more common in teenagers than school-age kids, it’ll be less common after vaccination as well. 

If my child has underlying health conditions, should I go ahead with vaccination?

Studies on this are ongoing. We know that older adolescents and adults with immunocompromised conditions or on immunosuppressive medications respond less well to vaccination, but they do respond. We also know that if they get COVID-19, they’re more likely to have worse outcomes, including needing hospitalization and intensive care. If someone has an underlying condition, such as an immunosuppressive condition, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, we recommend getting an age-appropriate vaccine.

If my child is used to wearing a mask, can’t I just rely on that for prevention?

Social distancing and wearing masks are important layers of protection, but they are hard to continue day after day, especially for kids at recess or at lunch. So the vaccine is a big, thick layer of protection to help with all those other measures, and people should use them together. 

How should I prepare my child for a vaccination appointment?

I’ve never met a kid who wanted to get a shot, but kids are resilient. You can help by explaining that you’ve been vaccinated and, while it does hurt, the pain goes away quickly and you’re there for them. At Kaiser Permanente vaccination sites, there will be people who are used to dealing with children and who know that there is a lot of emotion and fear. Kaiser Permanente staff and parents can work together to make it a minor experience for kids.

To schedule a vaccination and learn more, visit kp.org/covidvaccine/nw.

 

 

 

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November is Native American Heritage Month and it’s an important opportunity to recognize and honor the original inhabitants of North America. Help kids (and their grown-ups) make that connection by filling their tummies with indigenous cuisine. These recipes are also great for cooking with kids. We caught up with Chef Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart of Etiquette Catering in Rapid City, SD for some mouth-watering menu items that incorporate traditional Lakota ingredients.

“As the original inhabitants of this land, it is important to teach all children the significance of indigenous foods, history, and existence,” says Chef Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart. “We all reside upon the ancestral lands of indigenous people.”

With full recipes below, Chef Tilsen-Brave Heart has curated a special menu for Native American Heritage Month and beyond. The following mouth-watering dishes incorporate ingredients like pumpkin and bison, which are major food staples for the Lakota people. You’ll also find foods like cranberries and rice that are also indigenous ingredients.

Magic Pumpkin Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash

  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • Olive oil

  • 1 stick of butter

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock

  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Roast a large peeled and cubed butternut squash at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

  2. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of garlic powder, sprinkle kosher salt, and cracked black pepper

  3. Toss with olive oil and put in on a baking sheet before putting in the oven

  4. 1 stick of butter melted with a chopped medium yellow onion, sprinkle with some salt until translucent.

  5. Add 1 can of organic pumpkin puree

  6. Add 2 cups of coconut milk

  7. Add 4 cups of chicken broth or vegetable stock

  8. Add the roasted butternut squash

  9. Simmer for 30 minutes

  10. Then blend with an immersion blender

  11. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds

 

Wild Rice, Cranberry and Bison Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground bison

  • 1 lb Italian sausage

  • 3 tbsp. butter

  • 1 yellow onion

  • 6-8 baby portabella mushrooms

  • Qtr. cup dried cranberries

  • 1 cup wild rice {optional: purchase wild rice from: https://redlakenationfoods.com}

  • 2 cups bone broth or vegetable stock

  • Olive oil

  • Kosher salt 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  2. Melt 3 tbsp. of butter with a half chopped yellow onion Sauté

  3. Wash and clean 6-8 baby portabellas remove stems and chop add to the butter and yellow onion

  4. Add qtr. cup of dried cranberries

  5. Add 1 cup of wild rice, continue to saute all together (you are popping the wild rice, it will become fragrant)

  6.  Add 2 cups of bone broth or vegetable stock, lower heat and cover to simmer; set timer for 25 minutes

  7.  In another pan saute  2 tbsp of butter and the other half of your chopped yellow onion, cook until translucent

  8. Add 1 lb of ground bison, 1 lb of Italian sausage and 1 tbsp of garlic 

  9. Cook until brown over medium heat 

  10. Add wild rice and bison mixture together

  11. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt over portabellas 

  12. Stuff with bison wild rice mixture

  13. Bake for 15 minutes; serve warm

Bison Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs buffalo meat

  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil 

  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder

  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

  • 1 tsp. paprika

  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric

  • 3-4 bay leaves 

  • Mirepoix (chopped onions, carrots, celery)

  • 6-8 cups of beef broth/stock or water

  • 6-8 russet potatoes

Instructions:

  1. Braise 2 lbs of Buffalo meat (1-inch cubes) with half an onion (fine chop), in a warmed stockpot with 3-4 tbsp. olive oil 

  2. Spice 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 2 tbsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, and 3-4 bay leaves 

  3. After browned, add Mirepoix (chopped onions, carrots, celery), and can of diced tomatoes 

  4. Add 2 cups of water or stock/broth and simmer on medium-low heat for 30-45 mins or until tender. (Stir occasionally, more water or stick/broth may be needed) times will vary with the size of meat and location

  5. When meat is tender add 6-8 cups of beef broth/stock or water, bring back to boil 6-8 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces or bigger 

  6. Cook an additional 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender 

  7. Remove from heat and let stand for 10-15 minutes, serve

Buffalo, Cranberry and Wild Rice Meatballs with Blackberry Wojape

Ingredients:

Meatballs

  • 1 lb Buffalo (Can be substituted with beef)

  • 1/4 lb Italian Sausage

  • 1 cup Wild Rice

  • 1/2 cup Yellow Onion

  • 3 cups of Chicken Bone broth

  • 1/2 cup Rehydrated Cranberries

  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs (optional)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp. Salt

  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder

  • Dash of Paprika

Blackberry Wojape 

  • 1 cup Berries

  • 1 cup Sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups Water

Instructions:

Meatballs

  1. Clean wild rice with cold water 

  2. Saute wild rice with 1/2 cup of yellow onion and some oil for 5 minutes, allowing the rice to gently pop

  3. Add in 3 cups of bone broth per 1 cup of wild rice

  4. Add in rehydrated cranberries, cover and simmer for 45 minutes 

  5. Add in 1 cup finished wild rice to buffalo 

  6. Add 2 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce

  7. Add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (optional) 

  8. Add in 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and a dash of paprika 

  9. Place meatballs on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until internal temp is 165 degrees

Blackberry Wojape

  1. Add into a pan: 1 cup of berries (of your choosing), 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp. of cornstarch and 1 1/2 cups of water 

  2. Render down for about 10 minutes

  3. Drizzle blackberry wojape on top of the meatballs and enjoy 

 

 

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The 18 Coolest Gifts for Tweens & Teens This Year

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If you buy something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.


Quite possibly the hardest group to shop for, tweens and teens are unlikely to make it easy on you by providing a detailed list of what they want this holiday season. But, that’s where we come in! We consulted with young experts (in our own homes) to bring you this list of the best gifts for teens and tweens this year. You’ll find everything from the LED lights they want for their room to cozy gear for lounging around the house all day. We know you’ll find some winners here!


DIY Mochi Ice Cream Kit

$34   BUY NOW

Sweet and chewy on the outside, ice cream on the inside, these mochi treats will be their new favorite dessert.


LED Lights Kit

$30   BUY NOW

We're not sure why, but all the teens and tweens on our list want these LED lights for their rooms. They can change the colors via app or the included remote control so that they can feel like they are at the club. But at home.


Professor Maxwell's VR Atlas

$65   BUY NOW

Travel the world in virtual reality with this set that has kids learning about culture, cuisine, history and more.


Evereden Kids Happy Face Duo

$39   BUY NOW

Introduce your tween to the importance of skincare with this new line for kids. The face wash and cream include good things like probiotics, amino acids and omegas.


Kindle Paperwhite Kids

$160   BUY NOW

This all-new reader delivers thousands of books without any of the distractions like games, ads and videos. Bonus: It's waterproof and comes with a two-year guarantee.


Barefoot Dreams Youth Collection

$98   BUY NOW

Your favorite loungewear now comes in kid sizes but be warned, they may never take them off.


POP! Deluxe: Mando on Bantha with Child in Bag - The Mandalorian

$30   BUY NOW

Mandalorian fans will love receiving this quirky Funko POP! in their stocking. The Child is even along for the ride.


Perfectly Imperfect Stories

$18   BUY NOW

It's hard being a kid. This book is full of inspiring stories of famous people like Michael Phelps and Frida Kahlo who were able to overcome struggles with mental health to achieve their goals.


LEGO THE BATMAN - BATMOBILE™

$100   BUY NOW

This newly released LEGO set will be as fun to build as it is to display in your teen's room. It has true-to-life features and is inspired by the 2022 THE BATMAN movie.


Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

$100   BUY NOW

This sleek gaming keyboard with exposed LEDs is the perfect addition to your teen's desk setup, especially if gaming is their life's focus.


Travel Cord Roll

$20   BUY NOW

We could all use a little more organization in our lives. This travel roll will keep all your tween's cords and headphones from tangling in their bag.


Opopop Gourmet Microwave Popcorn

$40   BUY NOW

Flavor-wrapped kernels are the name of the game with this gourmet popcorn that offers options like Maui heat, cheddapeno and salted umami.


Ultra-Compact Microphone

$70   BUY NOW

Your budding YouTuber or podcaster will be able to record with little background noise. Its ultra-small size means it won't clutter their desk space.


Frankie Frog Ambient Light

$22   BUY NOW

With this little cutie on your nightstand, you can't do anything but smile.


Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro Camera

$120   BUY NOW

It's all about instant gratification when you pop this little cutie in your backpack. Snap pics of your friends and print 3x3 photos right from the camera.


Cdrop Subscription Box

$32   BUY NOW

If your tween is obsessed with everything Claire's, this is the gift for them. Choose a one-time or monthly subscription and they'll get surprise glam delivered right to their door.


X Rocker SE+ 2.0 Gaming Chair

$199   BUY NOW

Comfort is top of mind when your teen spends all their awake hours gaming. This chair comes with two built-in headrest speakers and folds to store when not in use.


Personalized Cozy Blanket

$100   BUY NOW

Whether they're into rainbows and unicorns or basketball and UFOs, you'll find an awesome blanket that suits them. They are so cozy you might steal them for yourself.

—Kate Loweth & Editorial Team

Editor’s Note: Prices and availability reflect the time of publication. Images courtesy of retailers.

If you purchase something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.

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Portland Kids Weekend Events: Dec. 3-5

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Light up your weekend family time with events that celebrate the winter months with flair. From live theater to lights on the raceway, there’s so much to do before Christmas hits. Read on to find out out top picks for things to do with your family this weekend.

photo: via pixabay

A Carol for Christmas

A Carol for Christmas is a new musical inspired by Charles Dicken’s classic ghost story and set in the Midwest during America’s 1930’s Depression Era. The themes of greed, bigotry, contempt and apathy ring true today as they did then. The cry for the gifts of love, life and caring, give us all a chance to shed the chains of our past and give hope for a better future. A Carol for Christmas shows each of us, what, when embraced, a world of joy, friendship and giving might do for the greater good. The original score written by Janet Mouser and James Campodonico is filled with new holiday songs that celebrate the season. A show for young and old alike, don’t miss being a part of this exciting, world premier musical presented by Stumptown Stages Musical Theatre.  Event Details.

Starry Nights Live

Planets, constellations, the zodiac, shooting stars and satellites are all in the night sky if you know when and where to look. Navigate by the stars and discover how you can become a backyard astronomer. This live presentation focuses on the night sky during the current month. Event Details.

Worlds Beyond Earth

Narrated by Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o, Worlds Beyond Earth tells the story of the surprisingly dynamic worlds that orbit our Sun. Based on authentic scientific data from groundbreaking space missions, Worlds Beyond Earth takes viewers on an exhilarating adventure through our cosmic neighborhood. Immersive visualizations showcase the solar system with unprecedented accuracy, including a landing on the cratered surface of our own Moon, a dramatic flight through the swirling rings of Saturn, and soaring encounters with distant worlds of active volcanoes and buried oceans. Featuring breathtaking visuals and cutting-edge science, Worlds Beyond Earth is a dazzling celebration of the Age of Exploration and the unique conditions that make life on Earth possible. Check Website for a list of dates and times. Event Details.

Winter Wonderland at the Raceway

You want to be impressed? Maybe a little blown away, but also stay warm and cozy? Get the family to Winter Wonderland! Recognized throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi”, the 29th annual Safeway Winter Wonderland powered by Advantis Credit Union, will grab your attention with glimmers and glows around every corner. The Northwest’s largest light show spans the track at the raceway, making a great drive on a chilly night. Over 250 giant set pieces are alight, many animated, all fun. Running since 1993, the Winter Wonderland is going cashless this year. All proceeds from the event benefit the Sunshine Division, which provides food and clothing to Portland families in need. Event Details.

Christmas Ship ParadeThe Christmas Ships

The Christmas ships are coming! A fleet of ships have sailed down the Willamette and Columbia Rivers every year for 67 years. Grab a perch with a view (restaurants along the route book up quick!), pack your thermos and blankets, and watch the floating lights go by. This is a great parade, and the best part is, you can catch it almost every night in December! Be sure to check online for when they’ll be closest to you, as the route changes. Perfect for tiny boat enthusiasts! Event Details.

Exhibit: Quilts for Empowerment

Celebrate the opening of Quilts for Empowerment, an exhibit created by survivors of obstetric fistula and gender violence in Kenya. Event Details.

Sunday Garden Session

Tend to the garden with friends. No previous skills required! There are specific tasks weekly but generally they center around: mulching, planting seeds/starts, weeding, harvesting, composting, working in the greenhouse, and more! Event Details.

Skating at Oaks Park

Roller skating is active, indoor fun perfect for the rainy NW! This beautiful Roller Rink is famous coast-to-coast as the premier skating establishment in the U.S. and is not only the oldest roller rink in the country but also has the largest skating floor west of the Mississippi! So strap on a pair of skates and enjoy moving to music all afternoon long. Event Details.

Bowling at Grand Central Bowling

Get your little bowlers ready to knock down pins at their favorite bowling alley. Grand Central Bowling is open and ready to host your family for an afternoon of fun. When you aren’t knocking down pins, mom and dad can grab drinks while the kids play arcade games. Event Details.

—Annette Benedetti

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The holiday season is filling your weekend with spectacular events. From a bubble magician to crafting, holiday lights and more, we’ve put together a list of weekend events that will fill your whole crew with cheer.

photo: via pexels

Amazing Bubble Man at Clinton St. Theater

Louis Pearl has been thrilling audiences around the world for over 30 years with the art, magic, science and fun of bubbles. He is a favorite at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he has enjoyed twelve years of sell-out success. Louis explores the breath-taking dynamics of bubbles, combining comedy and artistry with audience participation and enough spellbinding bubble tricks to keep everyone mesmerized. From square bubbles, bubbles inside bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, giant bubbles, bubble volcanoes, tornados and trampolines to people inside bubbles, the Amazing Bubble Man conjures shrieks of laughter and gasps of amazement from all ages. Event Details.

Pittock Mansion Christmas

Pittock Mansion Christmas celebrates the wonderful world of animals with this year’s Critters Make Merry exhibit. From reindeer and polar bears to lions and mice and a few in between, volunteer decorators transform the Mansion’s rooms into enchanting animal havens. Event Details.

Oregon Zoolights

Kids and adults alike agree: it wouldn’t be the holidays in Portland without a visit to ZooLights. A bigger than ever light display guides visitors on a glowing tour of the zoo with over a million and a half lights! Tunnels and moving displays are a bright attraction, and all your favorite animals are there, too. This year, there’s a new way to illuminate the season. In addition to walking through a dazzling display of 1.5 million lights, visitors can explore the magic with a new drive-through experience. Event Details.

Merry Happy Everything

Get into the holiday spirit with an evening of nostalgia, hilarity, and musical performances. With every performance featuring a special surprise guest artist sharing stories about their holiday memories, this show will bring you loads of cheer and joy! Event Details.

Spectrum Holiday Art Market

Spectrum Art Market returns for one final market of the year right in the heart of SE Portland. Featuring 17 LGBTQ2SIA+ artists, you will find fresh and unique gifts in an intimate and energizing maker’s space. Event Details.

The Best Local Toy Stores for Holiday Shopping

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For a truly unique toy for your loved one, you’ve gotta ditch online shopping and big-box stores and hit the streets.  Portland mom and pop shops are where the best gifts are at! Find that extra-special holiday gift for that extra-special someone in your life, at one of these Santa-approved shops. We’ve rounded up the best places to buy toys in town. Read on to find out more!

Finnegan's Toys & Gifts

A staple of a native Portlanders childhood, Finnegan's Toys & Gifts has kept families happily entertained with their wide array of toys since 1977. With COVID, the local shop has given up its iconic corner location, however, you can still order exciting toys, puzzles and more from their online store! Think of it like a local Amazon for all things childhood excitement. They offer shipping or pick-up for receiving your purchases, pick-up happening at "UnderU4men" during their business hours in downtown Portland. Support Finnegan's Toys & Gifts during this transitional period by finding your little one(s) the perfect holiday gift!

800 SW Washington St.
(503) 221-0306
Online at: finneganstoys.com

Oodles of Toys

Need "oodles" of inspiration for gifts for your tyke? Take a trip to the Sellwood neighborhood for a shopping experience sure to beat the offerings of your local Target or Fred Meyers! From stuffed animals and plushies to board games and playsets, Oodles of Toys has you covered. Schedule an appointment to shop in person, or stop by and they'll put you into the schedule! They even offer to do virtual shopping via Facetime or Google Duo chat, as well as online ordering with curbside pickup. They'll make it convenient for you and give you all the inspiration for the best gifts for your family. 

7727 SE 13th Ave
(503) 719-7670
Mon - Saty: 10 a.m.- 6p.m.
Sun: 11a.m. - 5 p.m.
Online: oodles-of-toys.business.site

Thinker Toys

Thinker Toys has been a figurehead of Multnomah Village since 1994 and there's one reason for it: their toy selection rocks! They are a destination for children and parents alike, offering adult board games like Catan, and child tinkerings like PlayMobile. Head to Thinker Toys to peruse all their entire selection in person, or head online for their options for shopping, curbside pickup and local delivery! Whichever way you decide to get your Thinker Toy gifts this holiday season, it is sure to a magical and exciting experience!

7784 SW Capitol Hwy
(503) 245-3936
Mon - Sat: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Online: thinkertoysoregon.com

Hammer + Jacks

Need a creative spin on movement-based toys? What about a cute, locally made "Slow Down" sign for your front yard when the teens in your neighborhood pass by? How about a toy set that is both thoughtful and stimulating? Wow, if only there was a Portland toy shop offering all these awesome gift ideas... oh wait! Have you heard of Hammer and Jacks? Located in southeast Portland, this cute boutique toy store will be sure to make you want to buy gifts for your loved ones AND yourself! Head online to book a private in-store appointment or order online, or drive over for walk-in shopping. 

6406 SE Foster Rd.
(503) 894-9150
Mon, Wed, Thur, Sun: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fri & Sat: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Online at: hammerandjacks.com

The Yo! Store

Wait, wait, wait. Is this store supposed to be for the kids or for the women that mother them? Visiting the Yo! Store in northwest Portland, you'll find stuffed animals and aesthetically-inclined children's books next to a garment rack of cool jean jackets or ceramic plant pots! It seems like this store really gets it, making the child shopping experience pleasurable for any parent. You'll be outfitted with the hippest bibs and bonnets, stylish nursery lights, sleek earrings, and toys from the brand Kid O. I didn't know I needed Yo! before I found it so go this holiday season and buy everything.

935 NW 19th Ave.
(503) 453-6488
Tue: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wed-Sat: 10a.m.-5p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Online at: yoportland.com

—Annette Benedetti

featured image: 5712496 via Pixabay

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Your Dream Family Getaway to Anaheim, CA Awaits

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You don’t have to travel overseas to get to the most magical place in the world. You just have to make your way to Anaheim, California where you’ll encounter sunny skies, surfable beaches, science-y wonders and, of course, Disney Land! Read on for a rundown on where to stay, eat and play during your dream family getaway to Anaheim.

photo: Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center

Stay

The Westin Anaheim Resort
If you are looking for a getaway home-base that offers a little luxury combined with everything you need in one place, The Westin Anaheim Resort is the perfect spot for you to call home while in Paradise. This brand new Four-Diamond hotel is steps away from Disneyland, so bring your strollers and walking shoes because you won’t need a vehicle or Uber to get around. Along with its gorgeous accommodations that feature signature amenities and Westin’s beloved Heavenly® Beds for parents (your kids won’t be the only ones sleeping like babies), your crew can swim in the outdoor pool or exhilarate your body in the Westin WORKOUT® fitness studio featuring Peloton bikes when you aren’t playing with Mickey and Minnie. Plenty of onsite eateries make feeding the family without having to go far a sinch! Options, including a steakhouse, Mexican restaurant and rooftop bar. 

 Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center

If you are planning an extended stay in Anaheim, The Element Anaheim Resort will quickly make your family feel at home. This eco-friendly hotel features guest rooms that come with fully equipped kitchens, spa-inspired bathrooms, and of course Heavenly® Beds. Make sure to book one of their Kids Suites which offer bunk beds and a separate play area and TV for the little ones. And this spot makes mornings easy with a complimentary Rise breakfast featuring a make-your-own parfait yogurt station, a fresh range of whole fruits and other healthy options parents are sure to love. Additional hotel perks include a heated outdoor pool for hours of water play along with an outdoor patio complete with seating and two barbecue grills.

Play

A trip to Anaheim wouldn’t be quite as magical without a trip to Disneyland! If you want a real insider tip take our advice, get up early and get to the park right before 8 a.m. when the fun begins. Disneyland features two amazing theme parks—Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. We suggest getting a multi-day ticket so you can make the most of your visit and hit both parks. Prices start at $76/day. Make sure to hit all the classic rides including Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones Adventure! And make sure the Star Wars fans in the family experience the brand-new Rise of the Resistance ride!

Disneyland isn’t the only activity Anaheim has to offer. While on vacation make sure to hit one of the beautiful nearby surfable beaches like Huntington State Beach where the kids can splash in the waves and play in the sand while parents surf. For a break from the sun, let your little ones get science-y at the DiscoveryCube OC, Anaheim's Hands-On Science Center. This massive building houses award-winning exhibits that kids can interact with. Your auto-fanatics can make their own race car in the physics lab and learn the science behind the sport while playing hockey. From exploring outer space to playing with dinos, there’s more to do at this massive science center than your family can possibly pack into one day…but give it a try. We dare you.

photo: Annette Benedetti

Eat

Whether you spend your day on the beach, at the park or exploring the science center, one thing is guaranteed to occur: big appetites and hangry kiddos. Keeping everyone’s tummy full can feel like a full-time job when you are on a big family vacation, but it’s super easy while in Anaheim. Right outside the Westin’s front door, lies one of the best Mexican eateries in town, Puesto. Enjoy noshing on award-winning tacos, burritos, and ceviche. And don’t forget the margaritas for mom! This family-owned and operated restaurant serves up handmade tortillas and an innovative approach to traditional Mexican cuisine with California's fresh, local ingredients.

If you don’t want to leave your hotel to eat, or you are looking for an elevated dining experience, then you’ll want to check out Westin’s own restaurant Tangerine Room. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tangerine Room has a continuously evolving seasonal menu that showcases local flavors. Enjoy signature dishes such as our SoCal benedict with cage-free eggs, burgers, sandwiches, quality steaks and so much more.

For dining experiences that get you out of your room and fill you up with the best bites the area has to offer, we suggest Poppy & Seed a local eatery that features spacious seating arranged both inside and out in a unique greenhouse setting. While the atmosphere is beautiful, the food is irresistible. This location is one of Orange County’s newest dining experiences created by the award-winning chef and restauranteur Chef Michael Reed. The menu serves upscale American small plates including smoked duck breast, spaghetti, and even burgers for your babes. Don’t forget to relax with one of their cocktails at the end of a long day.

Finally, the foodies in your family will definitely want to take a trip to the Packing District, the OC’s original food hall located in a historic 1919 citrus-packing house. This food hall is home to over 50 restaurants and culinary artisans. There is literally something for everyone in your family and more. From sushi to vegan pizza to tacos and tequila, you’ll have to return every day of your trip to try it all.

photo: Annette Benedetti

A trip to Anaheim offers your family the quintessential California vacation experiences that can be had over and over again as your children make their way through all of their ages and stages. What you don’t fit in one visit, will be waiting for you when you return, which your crew is guaranteed to want to do as soon as they are on the road home.

—Annette Benedetti

Editor’s note: Travel expenses were paid for by Marriott Bonvoy all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

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Local Portland Gifts for Everyone on Your List.

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Even if you’re not one of those people that allow Christmas to start the day after Halloween, you might have to admit that this year it’s been creeping in– with recommendations to shop early, you might be compiling a list already! If your holiday gift list is looking slim so far, we’ve rounded up the best recommendations from local Portland stores for the whole family– Dad, Mom, Big Kid, and Baby. Read on for some great ideas from great local places to check out!

Dads:

 

Staghorn Fern from Pistils Nursery

Get your plant dad a stunning Staghorn Fern Plaque to grace his wall-- these large antler-like fronds are like a piece of living taxidermy: a dramatic statement for any man cave or living room! Local plant gurus Pistils Nursery have been in business for 20 years, sharing the gift of green and gently encouraging those with blacker thumbs. Their flagship store on Mississippi, along with a new location in Slabtown showcase everything from rare and unusual plants to the coveted swiss cheese monsteras, along with chic planters, pots, and accessories. If Dad is still growing his plant passion, try a ZZ Plant (otherwise known as Zamioculcas amiifolia). One of the most low maintenance houseplants around, this is a great "set it and forget it" plant -- at least for a few weeks at a time.

Pistils Nursery
3811 N Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR
2139 NW Raleigh St.
Portland, OR

 

Vintage Trail Blazers Jersey from Laundry

Tucked into Old Town/Chinatown, Laundry is like a candy store for the sports-loving Dad in your life. Full of thoughtfully curated vintage merch (like jerseys, caps and tees) from a wide variety of sports and sports brand, you can cross a few things off your list here in no time. For the Blazers fan, find Damian Lillard and Andre Miller jerseys, or go further afield with a bright orange Netherlands soccer jersey, among hundreds of others. And they have kids sizes, too!

Laundry
140 NW 4th Ave
Portland, OR
Online: laundrypdx.com

Scientific Heroes Glassware from Boys Fort

Maybe you have absolutely zero idea what Dad wants-- that's totally normal. Hop over to Boys Fort, where you'll find dozens of options for the Dad who has everything. Formerly downtown, they've moved their store into Urbanite on SE Grand Ave but kept it packed full of goodies, like leather wallets, unique decor, stylish Portland maps, books, hot sauce, and even an Albert Einstein pint glass, all geared toward the modern Dad. If you're still at a loss, ask them to help-- you'll walk away with an expertly curated set of gifts in no time.

Inside Urbanite
1005 SE Grand Ave
Portland, OR
Online: boysfort.com

Gifts for Moms

photo: Courtesy of Little Otsu

New Planner from Little Otsu

For the Mom brimming with ideas, plans, schedules, or creative brainstorming, head to Little Otsu to get her all decked out. You'll find beautiful paper goods and from all over the world that will make her home office pop and inspire! Get her set for 2022 with this vibrant planner from England, or brighten up her desk with a colorful Italian stapler.

Mom can jot down all her ideas in a myriad of journals, with fountain pens, colored pencils, highlighters, and more. Don't miss the sweet collection of books and zines, including great options for kids.
 
 
Little Otsu
3225 SE Division St.
Portland, OR
 

The Hottest Fashions from The Yo! Store

A vibrant store melding color, vintage, adults, kids, European style and American fun into one warm experience, the Yo! Store is ready to knock a few things off your list. Founded in 2016, they've been sourcing quality goods from small independent makers worldwide for years, culminating in a store that's like having your best friend say "here, try this."

You'll find clothes (quilted jackets! stylish sweatpants! polka dot sweaters!), jewelry, bags, and colorful socks for mom, but don't stop there. Stuff her stocking with nail polish and candles before moving on to the kids sections, where adorable clothes, books, and toys await. 

The Yo! Store
935 NW 19TH Ave.
Portland, OR
Online: yoportland.com/

Doug Fir Chai from Roots and Crowns Apothecary

Get mom a warming blend of tea with chai spices, complete with foraged Doug fir tips at this home brewed apothecary. You'll also find hand crafted brooms, candles, artwork, and journals alongside the house line, full of rose-scented face serums, mineral makeup, herbal tinctures, and bitters.

Roots and Crowns Apothecary
1812 NW 24th Ave.
Portland, OR
Online: rootsandcrowns.com

Gifts for Kids

photo: Courtesy of Black Wagon

Cheeseburger Pillow from Black Wagon

This Mississippi Street store is chock full of fun, for kids ages 0-14 (and up)! Even the most teen of pre-teens won't be able to resist this soft cheeseburger floor pillow-- they're designed for all ages, tough enough for interactive play yet cozy enough for catching up on their favorite shows, games, and creative activities.

Or test their skills on Christmas Day with a wooden pinball set, along with a huge variety of puzzles, games, and musical instruments next to a whole wall of adorable clothes.

Black Wagon Kids
3964 N Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR
Online: blackwagon.com

Anything from Hello! Good Morning!

This adorable store has found a new home inside Cargo, an import shop that's been in business for over 20 years (and is worth checking out in it's own right!). With a background in animation, owner Amy has expertly curated the small space so that everywhere you look there's something bright, colorful, amusing, and whimsical. Bright journals, kids books, vintage toys, ceramics, and even those rubber finger monsters mingle together in a fun and inspiring space. Your only problem will be which things to bring home with you, and which leaves to come back for later! 

Hello! Good Morning!

Inside Cargo

81 SE Yamhill
Inside CARGO
Portland, OR

Online: hellogoodmorningkids.com

Wooden Gnome Home from Spielwerk Toys

Being a kid is hard work sometimes, and Spielwerk gets that. That's why they stock their store with all the best tools of childhood: toys, games, puzzles, and more that helps kids think creatively, solve problems, and goof around. Find your child's new favorite friend here with a wooden gnome home, or a whimsical fairy doll. And stay tuned-- they're working on launching their own line here in Portland!

Spielwerk Toys

3808 N Williams Ave Ste 121

Portland, OR

Online: spielwerktoys.com

Gifts for Babies

photo: Courtesy of Green Bean Books

Board Books from Green Bean Books

The folks at Green Bean Books are the best kind, ready to offer you their favorite new book along with a secret smile. Full of kids books of all kinds, head here to start Baby off right with a set of adorable board books.
 
Their top picks this year are:
What's in the Box? written by Isabel Otter illustrated by Joaquin Camp. An interactive lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel book with a plethora of boxes to open with silly things inside. Perfect for baby's gift opening practice during the holidays.
Dog's First Baby by Natalie Nelson. A new baby's impact from a dog's perspective: very sweet and charming. Don't worry, a cat one is scheduled to be released in March too!
Where Is Everyone? by Tom Schamp. An interactive lift-the-flap with goofy animal characters doing ridiculous things to discover.
 
Green Bean Books
1600 NE Alberta Street
Portland, Oregon
 

photo: Courtesy of Grasshopper

Woodland Activity Blanket from Grasshopper

The newest people in the world deserve the best things-- get the baby in your life this adorable Woodland Activity Blanket from Grasshopper, full of sensory bumps and crackling paper. Located on Alberta St, this store serves up a wide range of goodies for the little ones in your life, from babies and up! Useful items along with thoughtful design combine to offer goods that even adults will want to play with, like these sweet Babyoshka nesting dolls. You'll also find books, clothes, art, puzzles, games, baby essentials, and so much more!
 
 
Grasshopper Boutique
1816 NE Alberta
Portland, OR

—Katrina Emery

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Bring the magic of the season into your household this year with the scent of fresh pine. There’s no better time than now to start or continue the family tradition of cutting down your own Christmas trees at one of Portland’s U-Pick Christmas Tree farms! Many farms are still allowed to hold their COVID-Friendly festivities, so you can bundle up and cut down your favorite! Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and check out these great farms we’ve rounded up.

Furrow Farm

This is your one-stop spot for gorgeous trees with all the trimmings (think mistletoe, wreaths, and garlands)—plus a whole lot of festive holiday fun to boot. Choose from a variety of both pre-cut and u-cut firs up to 15 feet tall. This is a beautiful third-generation family farm that raises hazelnuts, cattle, and horses alongside their seasonal trees. While they’re unable to offer their usual tractor ride and hot cocoa, you can bring a thermos of your own and walk their beautiful trails, then spy the varied farm animals. Be prepared with masks and be ready for holiday fun!

Open starting Black Friday-Every Day as long as supplies last
Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Prices: $10/foot 
25877 NW West Union Rd.
Hillsboro, Or
503-647-5288
Online: furrowfarm.com

Thornton’s Treeland

Tucked minutes away from downtown Vancouver, Thornton’s Treeland offers not only trees but a beautiful lifesize Nativity scene, hot chocolate and coffee in their rustic old barn. You’ll also find wreaths, crafts and even some treats for the kids in the barn. They are still running daily hayrides through the trees, where you can take your pick of firs like Douglas, Noble, Nordmann, Fraser and Grand (prices vary by variety).

Nov 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sat.- Sun.
360-573-8733 
7617 N.E. 119th St.
Vancouver, WA
Online: thorntonstreeland.com/

JTB U-Cut Christmas Trees

At JTB Christmas Trees in Gresham your family can have a fun time walking through the fields and picking out your own tree. This beautiful farm has over four acres of Noble, Grand, and Douglas firs to choose from. They provide all of the tools you need to easily cut down and transport your tree, and they offer free shaking and baling to clean out the debris and make it easy to install in your home. Note:  This spot opens on the 26th but may have an extra short season due to limited offerings so get out there early!

Nov 26 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
18124 SE Richey Road
Gresham, OR
Online: jtbchristmastrees.com

 

photo: photo: courtesy of Helvetia Tree Farm

Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm

The magical red barn at Helvetia is full of local gifts and decor like handmade wreaths and lavender products. Elsewhere, you can find an open fire pit with free marshmallows, and visits with Santa Claus; you can make a whole magical afternoon of it at this family farm. Noble and Turkish trees are available for u-cut, at heights of up to 10 feet, with free shaking and baling. Plan ahead-- they’re only open for one weekend due to a tree shortage this year!

Nov. 27-28 only.
9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Prices: U-Cut $65 (any size), Pre-Cut $50 (any size), Douglas Fir $40 (any size)
12814 NW Bishop Rd
Hillsboro, Or
503-334-0905
Online: helvetia-christmas-tree-farm.com

Sauvie Island Farms

After the berry-picking crowds of summer have dispersed, it’s time for fir trees at this popular third-generation family farm. U-cut Douglas, Grand, and Noble fir trees are available, alongside fresh wreaths and cedar garlands. While this farm doesn’t come with all the holiday activities, these prices can’t be beat, so you have some extra cash for more presents or goodies.

Nov. 26 & 27th
9 a.m.-5 p.m. 
19818 NW Sauvie Island Rd.
Portland, Or
503-621-3988
Online: sauvieislandfarms.com

—Annette Benedetti

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Portland Moms Groups & Clubs

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Whether you are a new mom, or a well-seasoned coraller of kids, a little extra support never hurt. Finding moms to talk to and lean on as you make your way through all of the stages of motherhood is an important part of staying healthy, happy and top of your game for your kiddos. The following is a list of Portland moms groups offering local parents support. Read on to find out more.

Day Hike Moms
This is a Day Hike Group for moms and their children in the Portland area. This is a way to get out of the house, out of a rut, to explore nature with your kids and to become part of nature again. It is a great way to exercise, feel some serenity, and teach your children about what life is outside the city.

Jewish Moms 
Connecting Jewish Moms across Portland, to each other, to community events and to their Judaism. Members share  great activities, fun bargains, questions, events and outings that a Portland Jewish Mom would enjoy... especially in the rain!

Mamapedia
Mamapedia connects moms at every stage of their children's lives to compelling content from the source they trust most: other moms. Every day, moms turn to Mamapedia.com for advice on everything moms need: parenting, health, family, finance, pregnancy, nutrition, and travel; and on children of every age from infant to adult. Our vibrant local community network (formerly known as Mamasource) offers a place where moms can connect with each other in a supportive environment that serves as their very own local online moms group.

Portland Moms
This Facebook group is where fun, child loving, Portland area moms can share ideas and meet others. This is for the Portland mama looking to share kid-related tips, stories, deals, and adventures with other Portland parents.

Portland Mom Collective
Portland Mom Collective is a community — online and off — of women raising kids in the PDX area. The group is passionate about bringing moms together in a supportive community and encouraging you in your parenting journey.

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photo: istock

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS)
MOPS is a place to find friendship, community, resources and support for you as a woman and mother so you're not alone. Moms have found community through MOPS for almost 40 years - MOPS is the mothering authority. MOPS holds and shares the collected wisdom of mothers and experts.

New Moms of Portland
New Moms of North Portland is a small group for new moms in and around North Portland that meets for support, play dates and to get out of the house and have fun. This group is a safe place to vent, share, ask for help, and support each other without judgement. Keeping the group small makes it easier to foster trust and build real friendships.

Oregon Moms
Whether you're a new mom searching for the best Oregon has to offer kids, or an experienced Oregon Mom who'd like to share some wisdom on raising kids in Oregon - Oregon Moms FB Group is the perfect tribe for you. Learn about fun places, events for families, and your candid, insightful input and reviews can be added.

Single Parents 
This group is for single parents of young children who would like to get together for regular play dates in Portland.

Portland-Area Working Moms
The purpose of this FB group is to provide a place for moms to discuss issues unique to working parents. Moms give each other support, input and advice on topics that working mom face in daily life.

The Portland Step Mom Facebook
The Portland Step Mom Facebook is a club for step moms to share experiences, difficulties and triumphs with other step moms in the Portland area.

—Annette Benedetti

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