Will My Kids Get Free Books?

I just heard some great news.  And it’s exactly what I need after the amount of money we spent on the kids this summer, with fun outings, babysitters, summer camps and more.  A new project has just been launched, called the Bazillion Books for Kids.  Last week, thousands of books were collected at the Memorial Coliseum and thereafter delivered to schools that were told to pass them out to children, to take them home and keep them!  We’ve never heard of anything like this until now and, to date, it’s not affected us anyway.  But now that Jayden is starting First Grade, it couldn’t come at a better time!

And it’s not just one or two either. As Carole Smith, superintendent of Portland Public Schools informed us, each kid will be taking home between 10 and 12 books each! Portland-area schools are going to be taking around 100,000 books from the program.  Not surprisingly, Sam Adams, our Mayor, is delighted at this project that aims to “get books into the hands of children who don’t have them at home.” Of course, we do, but the fact that all of Jayden’s classmates will be enthusiastic about taking books home will result in peer pressure and hopefully end up exciting him too.

I really am so pleased about all of this.  Getting kids interested in books at a young age is just the perfect way to start their literacy development off on the right foot.  I know that this is the reason I became such an avid reader and loved literature – my parents were constantly showing me different books – and I’ve always vowed to do the same with my own kids.  Now is the perfect opportunity for me to do just that.

Bite of Oregon Festival

We’ve not done all that much with the kids over the summer vacation because Daniel and I have had pretty tough deadlines throughout July and August at work.  So when Daniel suggested last weekend we go to the Bite of Oregon festival with the kids and his mom, I thought it would be a great idea.  Jayden was thrilled as his best friend’s family was going to.  Turns out, so was the rest of the city…or at least it felt that way.  I later read that close to 50,000 people had the same idea as we did – to go to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park for this annual happening!

So while I initially felt a bit sick when I got there on seeing the tremendous hoards of people, I lightened up when I saw that the entrance fee was at 50 percent of its original price.  There was tons of food (which Ethan gobbled up and I enjoyed), lots of beer and wine (Daniel was in heaven) and celebrity chef, Aaron McCargo Jr. who used to host Big Daddy’s House.

I watched some of the chef demonstrations which Ethan got a kick out of (Daniel is convinced he’s going to be our chef in our old age as he loves food; so much so that he often throws up from eating too quick).  Indeed, overall, a fun time was had by all.  Tons of money is raised for Special Olympics Oregon too and that means a lot to me.

 

So apart from finally doing something fun with the kids in the summer, we helped a good cause too!

 

The Waterfront Blues Festival

It’s all been happening here in Portland and the summer’s only just started!  I truly love summers here; they’re always a lot going on for both children and adults.  A few weeks ago we had the Waterfront Blues Festival at Tom McCall Park. What I loved about it was that there was something for everyone.  Daniel told me it’s the 25th time they’ve done it, on a yearly basis!   It first began as the Rose City Blues Festival, as a tribute to the homeless.  It still has that theme, as it has a mission: to eliminate hunger for all.  So it’s a great fundraiser (which is important to teach the kids, that while we’re doing something fun we should think about others less fortunate than ourselves), by donating $10 for entrance as well as at least two cans of food. What’s great is that all donations go straight to Oregon’s Food Bank.

For me personally, I loved the Steve Miller Band and James Hunter.  But what was great also is that it was very kid-friendly too with all the fireworks, kids’ dance classes, Blues Guitar Workshop and more.  What a blast.  So everyone in the family enjoyed it.  Can’t wait to go back again next year!

High Quality Oregon Health Care

I was really pleased last week when I learned that two of Oregon’s large hospitals scored an “A” grade from the Leapfrog Group for safety standards.  I was actually treated at one of them – Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center – and remember thinking that it was quite nice.  It’s located in Clackamas but I went there as I heard it had a good neo-natal unit for when Ethan was born.  I’m not familiar with the other one that scored an A – McMinnville’s Willamette Valley Medical Center – but I love the Cornerstone Coffee Roasters for their Jiminy Cricket Milkshakes!  But I digress.

I like to hear positive news stories about what is going on in my city, or state. It’s good to know that healthcare is a top priority for Oregonian officials and that safety standards are always trying to be maintained and improved.

The hospitals were evaluated via a few bodies including: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Over 26 points were assessed, through three main categories: process measures; structural measures and outcome measures.  The data that was analyzed is available to the public.

Let’s hear it for Oregon, and let’s keep the good news about our state coming in thick and fast.

 

Eater’s First Pizza Week

I am not such a huge fan of pizza, but Daniel and the boys just love it.  So they were really happy to hear about Eater PDX first-ever Pizza week in Portland.  What this means is that for all the restaurants in the region that have never served pizza, they now have a chance to concoct and serve up a special Eater Pizza to be accessible to restaurant-goers for that entire week.  Every day for a week, a new item will be highlighted and reviewed at Eater PDX, with the first one being Greg Perrault’s June restaurant at 2215 East Burnside Street. 

Our friends checked it out.  They were thrilled with the entire flatbread concept of a clam pizza.  We asked them if they knew how it was made.  So apparently, it’s all down to Perrault’s techniques.  His dough is where it’s at – the ingredients include: whole-wheat flour locally milled from Greenwillow Farms; and sprouted radish seeds.  Then, he does something quite unusual with it. Instead of baking, he actually grills the dough on a medium heat. The dough is sautéed and then flipped on its other side.  Perrault put on the leaves, cheese, clams pickled ramp steams and coppa in layers and then the whole thing goes on a rack in a hot oven until the clams pop open.  At that point, Perrault drizzles the dish with a cream flavored anise seed.