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Best ways to beat the heat with the kids in Portland

Is it hot enough for you? Portland is smack dab in the middle of the kind of heat wave that has many of we mamas wilting (especially those of us who grew up in temperate climes, and/or don't have air conditioning in our homes). It's hard enough when you're just you and have to decide how to deal with the discomfort and short tempers of extreme heat; and then comes motherhood and the testiness is compounded. And if you're the mama of three, like me, somehow hanging out beside a pool seems the very least relaxing thing in the world -- you're the lifeguard to three little ones and, eek! Talk about water torture.

There must be a better way! We've talked before about ways to beat the heat, so I've developed a list of some of my favorite antidotes to the hotness. What are yours?

1. The Multnomah County Library. Branches are air conditioned and you can catch up on your Summer Reading if you haven't already sped through the "map" -- or start now if you haven't already! Most branches have computers set aside just for kids with educational games and books; here is a link to story times. Or just sit in a corner and read. Woodstock and Belmont are our neighborhood faves.

2. Wading pools in Portland Parks. While the wading pools' days are numbered (state regulations and concerns about chlorination standards mean that standing-water features are being phased out as of last year), the people at Portland Parks & Recreation work hard to extend hours and open as many wading pools as possible when it's hot. I know from the neighborhood listserv that Creston Park's wading pool is open 11 to 7 through the heat wave; is yours open more hours, too? Let us know!

3. Solpops and make-your-own popsicles. Inspired by Solpops, the fruit-positive popsicles that are sold at many farmer's markets and now New Seasons, I made my own popsicles the other day. Convenience food it wasn't, but I loved the process and the promise of super-concentrated fruity iciness. I made mine by rinsing and pitting (if appropriate) fruit -- I used cherries, blackberries and currants -- and simmering it with a cup or two of water and a half-cup of honey for about 20 minutes. Then I pushed the mix through a sieve (if you don't mind seeds or have fruit that is already peeled, like bananas, you could just mash or blend or Cuisinart it) and poured into shot glasses, putting sticks in once they started to freeze up. When I was a kid we had our own popsicle mold and we froze Kool-Aid: a much quicker and easier method.

4. Spray water features at Irving Park and Essex Park. These are just my two favorite; it's fun to get wet, wet, wet and not have to worry about the dangers of standing water. Be sure and bring a towel or two if you come by car or bike with absorbent seats, and sandals or other shoes that are good in the water are a better bet than bare feet.

5. Bike rides to the river. It may not be exactly cool, but the breeze off the river is at least less hot than the one through my window. And there are plenty of shady spots on the Eastbank Esplanade, my favorite for biking. And one great part about the heat is that it keeps lots of people off the road. Who wants to sit in a car and have the heat magnified? All the better for family biking; you can generate a little wind going down hills and cars and other bikers are going slow, anyway, so no one minds if you're taking your time. We wear lightweight longsleeved shirts in the sunniest parts of the day to reduce the effects on our skin.

6. Jamison Square. This cascading water feature is a favorite of many Portland parents; it's not my favorite as it can be frenetic when it's hot, and it's big enough so it's hard to keep track of multiple children. Also, many of the neighborhood's permanent residents are childless, and sometimes it shows. Even given its drawbacks, I've spent many a fun hour splashing with kids here. [Note: I just talked to the Portland Water Bureau, which says the fountain is on, and not to worry if you see the fountain off; it won't be off for long.]

7. Sauvie Island picnic. My Twitter friend Rebecca recommends a picnic at Sauvie's Island for older kids; get more of that breeze-off-the-water effect and, if you're feeling up for it, maybe a few pounds of pick-your-own peaches on the way home?

8. Park Blocks. If you must get out of the house and fear your children won't do well in a place requiring quiet, the Park Blocks provide lots of shade and great stretches of sidewalk for happy running. On Wednesdays from 10 to 2, the Portland Farmer's Market sets up shop behind the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, so you can grab lunch or some berries to take home and make into popsicles.

9. Bake a pie. OK, so this may be just for me, but sometimes I just have to embrace my inner Southerner (I lived in the South for several of my single adult years) and just revel in the heat. Why not? Could I really be more uncomfortable? So I get out my lard and my flour and my favorite calico apron and, hey! at least in an hour I'll be hot but I'll have pie.


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Albina library is closed today through Thursday, back open on Friday, so you'll be out of luck if you head there for the A/C over the next couple of days.

We post a few ideas yesterday as well including a link to Portland Parks full list of pools, wading pools, and spraygrounds:


Love the pie idea, btw! We often go on pie quests while traveling, an activity inspired in part by this delightful book:


Hmmm...embrace the heat and make jam? Oh hell no. Leave the kiddies with daddy and work late!

don't forget matinee at bagdad: air conditioned and cheap

My girl has a broken foot and is in a short leg cast, so water activities and many walks and biking are out for us. So we're more focused on the indoor stuff this year. :-(

If movies are your thing, we love the Academy Theater (http://www.academytheaterpdx.com/) on 79th and Stark. Starting this week they are bringing back daily matinees. The price is right (they are second-run movies), there are a few organic snack offerings (and typical movie fare), fresh fruit and salads and Flying Pie pizza. Plus, since they serve wine/beer, minors must be accompanied by a adult, which always seems to go a long way for us in making the movie-watching more enjoyable.

A tip for making popsicles less drippy -- add a bunch of whole milk yogurt!

Okay, it won't win any awards for the most creative way to beat the heat, but we just got back from the playland at Clackamas Town Center (we had to run an errand there, and the mall was so cool we decided to stay for a while). I sipped an iced coffee and watched my toddler go wild in a packed house. She loved it.

Are you, like, reading my mind? Thanks for the links!

Academy Theater on Stark!

They are incredibly kid friendly, have amazing AC, always have a kid movie playing, and the new refurbished theatres in 1940's style are gorgeous!


No kid movies playing any time soon at Academy, according to their website. But they do have babysitting!

In the past two days: We went bowling, and ice skating. We made gak, play dough, and puffy paint and blank books. We turned the covered porch into a water feature. We made giant bubbles and got some giant bubble wands. We beaded necklaces. We stamped. We used my old typewriter and wrote letters. We dressed up and had a tea party indoors. We got out the tap shoes and pots and pans. We jumped on the bed. We made simple popsicles (juice, some fruit garnish, freeze, done). We read every book we own, twice. We went to Finnegan's (cold) went to the library (cold) and rode the train (cold) to Whole Foods (cold). We made fondue for dinner. I am too tired to drink my beer. How much more of this?

We love the Academy theater but there seem to be less and less kid-friendly films there. Matinees mid-week in the summer would be good too.

Otherwise, the usual cooler-offers....the kiddie pool at home, the library, OMSI.

today we embraced the heat. not too much of a choice, really. blow-up pool in the back yard, cook-out with the neighbors after 8pm, walk the baby around in the stroller after 10, wait for bf to install window a/c unit around 11:00.
i spent a very very long time eating my lunch at new seasons today!

*go ice skating at LLoyd Center (via MAX)
*the Avalon arcade on Belmont (not so much for the younger set, but I'd say 4+ is good)...plus there are a couple kid friendly matinees there.
*the Lewis River at Lewisville Park - a 25 minute drive from Portland - chill, great water for swimming, and good for all ages.

Thanks for promoting the library as a great cool spot. In addition to lots of books, many of the branches have board games available for all ages. Just ask!

I have made my own popsicles for years. Sometimes I freeze a leftover smoothie, sometimes I put whole pieces of fruit in the juice. This summer's favorite is lemonade/OJ combination (with fructose for my food-sensitive kids) and sliced bananas -- yay! orany berries you fee like. Yesterday I froze some cherry Soda (Knudsens and remember to stir out the fizz and add a little sweetener so those frozen taste buds wil like them Iknow, it sounds gross0 and then I put a few split cherries inside. Sky's the limit!

there are free movies at lloyd center on t/w at 10 am and $1 movies at Clackamas on Weds at 10.

We're eating a lot of frozen grapes, yum!

I've got a list of the extended wading pool hours - as well as links to info on other splash pads, fountains, etc. And a link to the free (Lloyd Center and other Regal sites) and $1 (Clackamas Town Center) kid movies this summer - all on www.stumptownmom.com

my goodness laura! I just had to comment to say I am in awe... I can't manage to go anywhere fast on a day like this, and it's all I could do yesterday to feed the children and myself and keep the dishes washed. and fondue for dinner is a great idea!

perhaps... maybe... we'll make it to the wading pool today :)

Daddy just took L to "Pizza Planet" aka Out of This World indoor playground in Hillsboro. If they're not back in an hour, their AC must be working. $7 for unlimited playtime, we don't do the treats but they're supposed to be fine. Our challenge is trying to find ways to not just beat the heat but get some exercise, too! I didn't know about ice-skating at Lloyd Center, that's a great idea. And we're having lots of frozen berries in our cups of water, makes them cool AND more exciting to drink.

leave...go to the beach for the day....

We beat the heat last night by going to Glowing Greens mini golf (downtown) which was inside and air conditioned. And pirate-themed which pleased my five year old son! It's a bit spooky - all under black lights and moving skeletons - but we had a good time and stayed nice and cool.


Anybody know where to get popsicle molds? I have one that holds four....it isn't enough in this heat! Here is the most recent recipe I've tried and like:

MamaJoy - There were some at new seasons a month or so ago.

I found them at ACE hardware in the Pearl...of all places!

Michael's (The old OR Craft and Floral) had popsicle molds about a month ago for $1.00 and New Seasons off Division had them last week for (I think) $5.00

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