Magnolia Park – Hillsboro

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What’s to Love:  Magnolia is a very cute little park in a semi-residential area of Hillsboro.  I say “semi-residential” due to the fact this area of Hillsboro has a combination of planned residential areas surrounded by retail/businesses.  I’m not sure how this city plan works for Hillsboro.  I will say with confidence that Hillsboro has one of the most comprehensive park systems you’ll find anywhere. You could spend weeks (or more) exploring all the various options for parks.  Check-out the map!

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Orchard Park – Hillsboro

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Orchard Park - Hillsboro, ORWhat’s to Love:  If your family is into disc golf, the 21 acre Orchard Park is worth the drive to Hillsboro.  The park has a VERY nice 3-par, 9-hole course with a paved path winding throughout the length of the course.  The paved path makes a 1/2 mile loop, which is a decent length for beginning bikers or kids on scooters.  

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Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park

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IMG_0508What’s to Love:   This is an update to the original Lumberyard article published in May of 2012. In our first article, this awesome indoor bike park wasn’t even officially open. We were some of the first outsiders they let in to preview the terrain. As I stated back then, I was completely awestruck by the genius of the entire place. With the bike culture in Portland, I knew this business would serve the community for a long time. Well into the second year, we took another look, and it remains a place that tests the skills of everyone from toddlers on push bikes to the most advanced mountain bike, free-ride, and BMX riders. If you haven’t been to the Lumberyard, I urge you to check-it-out!

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Rocky Butte – Joseph Wood Hill Park

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Rocky Butte - Joseph Wood Hill ParkWhat’s to Love:  I’ve explored the rock climbing area up at Rocky Butte many times.  I’ve been turned off by the trash and noise from highway 205, which runs underneath the bluff.  The climbing itself looks pretty good and worth a shot.  I’ll give that a try this summer with the kids.  This trip, I was interested in exploring the structure on the summit of Rocky Butte, which I’ve heard offers excellent bouldering.

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Holly Farm Park

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Holly Farm ParkWhat’s to Love:  Holly Farm Park is a lovely park right off Capitol Highway in SW Portland.  While next to a busy road, this small park has a nice vibe and a strong community feel.  It’s well kept with a relatively large lawn, newer play structure, paved paths, and a very cool mini-skate-park.

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Ripzu Indoor Skatepark

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Ripzu Indoor SkateparkWhat’s to Love:  On May 2nd, 2012, Ripzu will be reopening!!!  They were able to work things out with their landlord and will be moving the entire space into the side with the mini-pipe.

On our ever continuing 2011 skatepark tour, we managed to find this gem in Vancouver, WA.  Ripzu has been open about a year and a half, but it seems like a brand new facility to me. Everything is in excellent condition with a superior riding surface and one of the nicest layouts for beginning riders in the Portland area.  

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ComedySportz “4” Kidz

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What’s to Love:  ComedySportz “4” Kidz is an improvisational comedy show that will have the whole family laughing.  I’ve seen the regular “ComedySportz” version before, but this was my first time to the “Kidz” version – it did not disappoint!  I can’t say enough about these performers who get up in front of families without a script and pull off such an entertaining show.

Haven’t seen the show?  Luckily, ComedySportz hosts the “4 Kidz” special once per month (3rd Sundays at 2PM).  You’ll want to attend soon with your family, and luckily, ComedySportz is giving away 4 tickets to one drawing winner via Portland Family Adventures.  Make a comment at the bottom of this article or on Facebook by Wednesday, April 25th (12PM), and I’ll enter your name in the drawing.

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The Source Climbing Center – Vancouver, WA

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The Source Climbing CenterWhat’s to Love:  For climbers, especially with kids, it doesn’t get much better than here in the Portland area.  We have some world-class bouldering and climbing gyms all within a 15 mile radius of downtown Portland.  Opening November of 2011, The Source Climbing Center in downtown Vancouver, WA is the latest addition to the climbing community.  Beautifully designed, The Source was built from scratch and offers a totally separate area for young children and beginners interested in climbing.

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Parent & Child Yoga

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Before I get into this yoga business, I have to mention Shine Integrative Physical Therapy (SPT). For 20+ years, I’ve experienced chronic neck pain, and I’ve tried about everything to fix it. While most of what I’ve tried did yield positive results (including yoga!), the physical therapy and care I’ve received from SPT has made the pain almost non-existent.  If you’ve experienced the same-old-same-old from physical therapists, you might want to give SPT a call.  You won’t regret it.

Let’s talk about yoga!  As you may or may not know, I have been a yoga instructor myself since around 2002.  If it were up to me, all schools would be required to begin with various yoga practices including breathing exercises, meditative reflections, and simple postures.  I think this would improve the quality of education.  I think it would help focus student attention during long days filled with listening and sitting.

Most likely, your kids are not experiencing yoga at school or anywhere else for that matter. SPT not only offers excellent physical therapy, but to help compliment their care, they offer plenty of yoga classes.  One class in particular (Parent & Child Yoga) caught my attention while waiting to see one of Shine’s therapists.  Instructor Leslie Wilda also has put together a regularly occurring yoga-pajama party.  Here is an excerpt from my interview with her.

PFABefore we get into some specifics for kids and parents, please tell us a bit about yourself and your credentials concerning yoga instruction.

Leslie:  I came to know yoga later in life. I was in my mid thirties and living in Sri Lanka when a friend brought me to a class that was being taught by a Sri Lankan who did not speak English very well but could fold himself into this incredibly small pose. It was interesting, so I went back. It wasn’t until the birth of my son in 2007 though that I developed my own home practice as a way to ease the challenges of being a single parent. I then completed a 200 hr teacher training with Shiva Rea as a way to enhance my practice.

When my son turned two I attended a kids yoga training by Rainbow Kids Yoga because I wanted to learn ways to practice with my son, but instead I had this “aha” moment during the training and I immediately knew that I wanted to change my career path and begin sharing yoga with kids. I’ve been teaching kids for two years now and it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

PFAWhile you run a mobile studio (Yoga Playgrounds), it seems that you have a Parent-Child Yoga class setup with Shine Physical Therapy at their Shine Yoga studio.  As stated in the introductory paragraph, I had such an incredible experience working on a chronic neck problem with their physical therapists, and I noticed they integrated yoga into their therapy.  Can you talk a bit about your relationship with Shine?  What are some of the advantages to working with a reputable group of physical therapists and being part of their structure?

Leslie:  I think yoga therapy is becoming increasingly widespread as research begins to highlight its many benefits. Last year I completed my first generalized kids yoga therapy training and am continuing my studies to broaden the foundation of knowledge and tools I currently have to enable me to work with kids having a variety of specific health issues. I was fortunate to begin teaching at Shine when they opened last November.

Having a great working relationship with physical therapists who are experts in their field allows me to draw on their vast base of knowledge and apply it to what I already know. This association between kids’ yoga and physical therapy also lends credibility for many people who have never heard about yoga therapy. More and more people are learning that yoga can help kids who face a variety of health issues like anxiety, depression stress, constipation, asthma, ADD and much more.

PFAI’m a yoga teacher myself, but I can’t imagine teaching a room filled with kids. Yoga is usually such a quiet and reflective practice.  What does it look like for kids and parents?  Do you let their energy become part of the practice itself?

Leslie:  For one thing, a kids’ yoga class is definitely a lot noisier and more-fast-paced than a traditional adult yoga class.  And as anyone who has been around kids knows….they don’t always do what you want them to do. Many times I’ve had to let go of any preconceived notions about what I thought class would look like and just go with the flow, which is what yoga tries to teach us anyway. My classes offer a balance of structure and spontaneity so that the kids are learning as well as getting the opportunity to express themselves creatively. Classes for very young kids (ages 2.5-5) and their parents, like the ones I offer at Shine on Wednesdays at 9:30 and Fridays at 10:30 are very playful.  Music, fun props, stories, partner poses and giving silly names to poses all help keep the kids interested, and although the energy level in class is always high, kids really love the relaxation time at the end of every class.

PFAThere might be some parents who might not want to go because they do not practice yoga.  They might imagine some of the common stereotypes associated with yoga:  a dark room, chanting, people meditating, being bent into a pretzel, etc.  However, they might think yoga is beneficial for their child.  What can you tell these parents to alleviate some of their concerns?

Leslie:  For some adults, that is what their yoga looks like. But yoga is a personal activity that looks different for everyone, and I would encourage anyone who has never experienced it to give it a try, especially at Shine where the first class is free. They will find those stereotypes just don’t hold true for my kids’ classes…although many kids do enjoy bending themselves into pretzels with seemingly no effort at all!

PFAWhy should kids do yoga?  What are some of the gains you’ve seen with kids who practice regularly?

Leslie:  I could go on and on here. The movements, the focus on breath awareness, and the relaxation inherent in a yoga practice all help kids develop better body awareness and improved self-esteem….both very powerful components of a healthy body image. Yoga can also help kids regulate their emotions, manage stress and calm themselves….tools that will be useful to them their entire lives. Yoga also encourages better posture, coordination, focus, strength, self-discipline and self-control…plus it’s non-competitive and encourages positive peer to peer interaction. And it helps kids set the foundation for lifelong wellness…in both their
body and their mind.

PFAIf this sounds interesting to parents, how do they get started with the class at Shine? What do they need to bring to class?

Leslie:  The first class at Shine is always free, and parents can sign up for class ahead of time on the website or they can just drop in. I recommend comfortable clothing, but nothing else is needed. Classes for kids ages 2.5 and a grownup meet Wednesdays at 9:30 and Fridays at 10:30, and every other month I offer an evening yoga pajama party at Shine for kids ages 5-9. Kids come dressed in their pajamas and we go on a magical yoga journey while parents enjoy a night out on their own. It’s great for both the kids and their parents.

 

Stoneworks Climbing Gym

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Stoneworks GymWhat’s to Love:  This is our third update to our first visit way back in 2007. Stoneworks continues to grow by adding  bunch of new climbing, auto belays, and a “highball” bouldering area with walls up to 20 feet high. This is perhaps the friendliest gym you’ll visit on your quest to get pumped up. In addition, Stoneworks offers excellent instruction, unpretentious, and no attitude whatsoever from fellow climbers.  If you and your kids have never climbed before, Stoneworks Gym is an excellent place to learn the basics!

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Little Big Burger

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Little Big BurgerWhat’s to Love: Portland has some great burgers, and we’ve sampled many of them.  Is “Little Big Burger” Portland’s best?  I don’t know, but it’s currently my favorite spot to indulge in a burger and fries.  My kids love it too, and even though very cramped, it’s a kid-friendly spot (two locations).

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Mosier Tunnels

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Mosier TunnelsWhat’s to Love:  The Mosier Tunnels are locate just outside Mosier, Oregon and are a couple of exits east of Hood River, Oregon.  Located high up on bluff, they are part of what used to be the old Columbia Gorge highway.  This roadway is now closed to cars for an impressive 4.7 miles, which will bring you all the way back to Hood River.  This is a perfect destination for a family bike ride, especially when combined with so many other destinations nearby. 

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Curious Comedy Theater

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What’s to Love:  My band for kids and families (The Toy Trains) recently had a show at The Curious Comedy Theater with other local “Kindie” artists Johnny & Jason and Mo Phillips.  Check-out the video clips below in the text of the article.  I wanted to do a short write-up about this wonderful little (non-profit) theater that provides a wide variety of comedy shows and special shows just for kids and families.

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Bouldering at The Circuit Gym

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What’s to Love: I’m republishing this article because The Circuit now has a Northeast location (410 NE 17th Ave.) as well as their SW Macadam location (6050 SW Macadam Ave).  The NE location is EVEN BIGGER than their Macadam spot, which is hard to believe.  Also, the NE location has more kid-friendly climbing with a cool slide and bridge structure.  I’ve included some pictures and a video clip.

Over the years, The Circuit has been one of my absolute favorite indoor places to take my oldest son (now 7). We were going so often that I had to get a yearly membership, which can be paid monthly via automatic debit (nice!). This is an amazing experience for young children, and we started our first son here when he was around two years old. Bouldering is a form of climbing where there is no need for a rope due to the fact that you’re never very far off the ground. The emphasis is practicing and mastering hard sequences of moves.

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Soccer – Portland Timbers

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Portland Timbers' SoccerWhat’s to Love:  I have to confess – I’ve spent most of my 42 years not caring too much about soccer, and I still don’t know much about the game.  However, when the Portland Timbers joined the ranks of Major League Soccer and the old PGE Park was renovated (becoming Jeld-Wen Field), I found myself drawn into the Timbers’ incredible fan base.  I watched footage from the first game on YouTube and now find myself listening to the games on a little radio I purchased.  As I listened, my curiosity kept growing – I needed to know more about what was going on inside that stadium!  

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Revolution Parkour

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IMG_0547What’s to Love:  “Functional Fitness” is a trendy term these days.  What does it mean?  I’m sure I could gather many definitions from practitioners, teachers, and students.  To me, it means exercising in dynamic/non-linear ways like rolling, tumbling, climbing, twisting, turning, jumping, leaping, grasping, etc.  Most importantly, the movements have to be done with a mindful intent on the technique.  Oh yeah, it MUST be fun!  It’s the type of fitness that makes you feel like a kid again.  Revolution Parkour houses one of the first Parkour Academies in the country, and after experiencing a course first-hand with my son, I can certainly attest to the “having fun” aspect.

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Marine Drive Bike Path

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Marine Drive Bike PathWhat’s to Love:  The weather is getting nice!  If you’re looking for a relatively-flat, straight, paved, bike path for a nice family cruise, the Marine Drive section of Portland’s “40 Mile Loop Trail” is a good option.  The roughly 12+ miles of paved path parallels Marine Drive in North Portland, right alongside the Columbia River.  

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John’s Incredible Pizza

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John's Incredible PizzaWhat’s to Love:  Open just a couple of weeks now (Grand Opening on Tuesday, March 29th, 3PM to 9PM), we spent nearly 3-hours at John’s Incredible Pizza playing games, enjoying the rides, and eating.  This place is HUGE (46,000 square feet) with over 110 games, but it’s the little things that actually make John’s worth a visit.

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Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP)

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What’s to Love:  Love art at home but hate the mess and clean-up?  Simple solution – turn your kids loose inside the Art Factory of the Children’s Healing Art Project.  It’s sort of like being inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but with paint, brushes, push carts, and colorful smocks.  Don’t be afraid to make a masterpiece or a mess.  All the while, know that your dollars are helping fund an innovative nonprofit that helps ailing children and their families.

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PlayDate PDX

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PlayDate PDX SlidesWhat’s to Love:  Playdate PDX features a 7500 square foot indoor play space for kids, which is certainly one of the nicest I’ve seen in the last three years of Portland Family Adventures.  The facility is perfect for parents who want to both interact with their kids and relax a bit.  The business model is another home run in a town that offers so many great opportunities for families.

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