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Five Questions for a Playgroup Coordinator

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Updated: Monday, August 22, 2016

Ginny Badros is the PAMP Playgroup Coordinator for the North Los Altos Playgroup. Her job involves administering the group, coordinating member events and moderating the group’s forums and postings.

This playgroup uses Facebook groups to communicate about activities. “I post park or home playdates to encourage company for my kids and others,” she says. Playgroup members also post their own playdates, events and other topics. Ginny often organizes and communicates regular Mom’s Night Out events for the group as well.

“What I love about being the PAMP North Los Altos Playgroup Coordinator is experiencing myself and my children meeting and making new friends and lasting friendships,” Ginny said.

Telling us about her latest accomplishments and goals at home, Ginny says, “Teaching my 3 ½ year old his first knock-knock joke – now he won’t stop telling it; potty-training my two-year-old; getting back into playing piano and performing at my first recital since fifth grade! My mid-term goal is to complete building our family’s Los Altos Hills forever home by mid - 2017!”

Ginny lives in Los Altos and has been a PAMP member for almost four years. Her family consists of Jax (3.5 years), Alexis Jade (2 years), Baby #3 coming next year and two adults who are kids at heart!

1. What is the last non-kid movie you saw? Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).

2. Are you a Bay Area native or transplant? Transplant. I was born in the big city of Guangzhou, China, then immigrated to the small city of Duluth, GA, and transplanted to the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area in 2006.

3. What’s at the top of your to-do list? Making a decision on the toilets to install for the forever home that I’m building in Los Altos Hills.

4. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? Cookie Monster -- so obstinately focused and goal-driven while being incredibly huggable at the same time … what’s not to love? Plus, he is perpetually surrounded by delicious cookie treats - Yum!

5. Why are you a PAMP volunteer? I view it as a wonderful opportunity for myself and for my kids to meet and make new friends and to establish lasting friendships.

Tags:  spotlight 

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Hiking with Toddlers…for the Lazy

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Updated: Monday, August 22, 2016

So you’ve decided to go hiking with your toddler.

Believe it or not, hiking can actually be a lot of fun with a toddler, especially with all the options for trails we get to enjoy here in the Bay Area. We have access to a wide variety of parks with redwoods, rolling hills, beaches…all within a relatively short drive.

You may ask: “Why don’t I just sit in the backyard, let my toddler poke a few sticks in my eye, go watch a couple nature documentaries, and call it a day?” Well, here’s a list of reasons to encourage (which is a euphemism for “to guilt”) you to venture out into the great outdoors:

  1. It improves eyesight. Apparently myopia is on the rise and it appears to be due to children spending too much time indoors. Studies have shown that children need at least 3 hours of daily outdoor time to be protected against near-sightedness. Being in nature is also a workout for your eyes as they shift focus from near to far and vice versa.

  2. It develops a habit of being physically active. Instead of getting exercise from the weekly gymnastics class, or chasing the cat, a nature walk can provide more of a challenge for developing muscles and coordination (i.e. mastering uneven terrain, jumping over logs, going uphill/downhill, and even the occasional slip or fall).

  3. It may be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. 

  4. It reduces stress. Okay so maybe your toddler isn’t stressed out, but children are like little mirrors of their parents’ moods and when you are anxious or tense, your child senses it and usually adopts that behavior. So sometimes letting your toddler set the pace for the nature walk is as much of a benefit to you as to your child.

  5. It stimulates mental development. A child’s brain is constantly developing new connections, and nothing is better than a three-dimensional environment where they can touch, look, listen and smell their surroundings to stimulate the creation of more neural pathways.


But how? For some parents, going anywhere involves packing as if they were going on a week-long excursion through the remote tropics. And yet I can barely remember to put on pants before I leave the house (this may have happened once, I will neither deny nor confirm it, though).

In my defense, whenever I take my 3 year old out, it’s usually an impulsive decision – a quick stop at the park between errands – and I typically forget the essentials, such as sunscreen as the sun blazes down and I can actually hear my skin sizzle, water, spare diapers, snacks… etc. My son would walk up to strangers and beg for food like a starving little gypsy child.

And while I’m not the best person to advise how to go hiking with a toddler, I have learned ways to get around my mental lapses and come up with some basics. For example, I keep spares of anything essential – sunscreen, wipes, diapers, small water bottles – everywhere: the car, the stroller, the carrier, my purse… And while it does make for more clutter than if you had just one bag that you can take along (which I will undoubtedly forget), at least I’m somewhat covered.   

Here are some tips for when you want to get out into nature:

  1. Try out a backpack carrier before purchasing. I am on the tall side with a freakishly long torso (most shirts end up looking like half-tops on me), so my back and shoulders learned the hard way how important it is to have a carrier that fits properly. Make sure the base rests on your hips so that your shoulders aren’t carrying the brunt of the weight. I also suggest getting a pair of hiking poles to keep your balance on rocky or hilly terrain because the dry loose gravel can be pretty slippery. The poles can also save your knees as your kid gets big enough to challenge the weight limit of the carrier.

  2. Research the trails. If you forgo the carrier for the jogging stroller, just make sure the trails are stroller friendly. I’ve actually had a wheel or two pop off while I was coming down a pretty rough and steep slope. The great thing about jogging strollers, though, is you can keep a spare stash of supplies in the back pocket somewhere (a baggy with wipes and a spare diaper, a hat, sweater, sunscreen…) and forget about it.

  3. SNACKS! Unless my son has the random urge to actually get out and walk around, he tends to prefer to be carried or pushed in a stroller, and he will generally only last about 15 minutes before he starts complaining. But once I started bringing snacks to nibble on, he seems content to quietly sit back and watch the scenery.

  4. Poison Oak is EVERYWHERE. I always encourage my son to do some exploring even if it means going at an excruciatingly slow pace while he insists on scrutinizing every piece of debris, but I am notoriously bad at identifying poison oak despite the little rhymes about how to recognize it (“leaflets three, don’t touch me ,”… or something like that). I usually just assume any low leafy plant is poisonous. The leaves are green in the spring, and then start turning reddish in the summer until they become a bright red or pink in the fall. 

  5. Ticks. The best way to avoid ticks (and poison oak) is to follow the common rule of hiking and stay on the trail. Ticks are usually in higher grass, but it is always a good idea to check around the sock line and the scalp after a hike. When you check your dogs, ticks tend to settle in or around the ears, or between the toes and armpits, so those areas are worth special attention. If you find one that has already bitten and you are concerned about Lyme disease, check for more info here. And here's how to remove a tick

  6. Engage, engage, engage. I had illusions of going on long nature walks with my son and that he would get a thrill out of hiking as much as I do, but more often than not, he would prefer throwing rocks at a puddle of water for an hour, or ask to go home to watch Curious George. It may seem like a futile attempt, but it is important to engage your child with nature by pointing out everything to them and talking about it, and eventually their interest will grow. Let them collect some souvenirs such as leaves and acorns, balance some stones in a pile, take pictures, touch everything (almost everything, that is) and talk about the textures, and share some of your knowledge of the local wildlife or plant life (and if you don’t know much, like me, look up the info together when you get home, or try joining some local ranger-led tours).

Most importantly, if you enjoy yourself, your child will enjoy it, or at least learn to enjoy it with time, especially if you follow up the hike/nature walk with a trip for ice cream or a special treat at a café.

Alix Pora is Engagement Director for PAMP, baby herder and imbiber extraordinaire.

Tags:  activities 

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Save the Date for the Fall Fun Day at the Farm!

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Updated: Monday, August 8, 2016

Back by popular demand - we are holding another "Fun at the Farm Day"! Saturday, September 24th starting at 10am.

Cost is just $10 per PAMP family and $25 per non-PAMP family.

It's always a fund day Pastorino Farm. Come out and enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, hayrides, train rides, bouncy houses and more! There will even be a pumpkin patch! PAMP will provide light snacks and water.

Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay is 30 minutes from the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area. Come and enjoy all of the great activities and spend time with fellow PAMP members. The event starts at 10am, but you can show up any time and spend as much or as little time as you want. Children of all ages are welcome.

RSVP here!

Tags:  activities 

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Tips for Newborn Sleep

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Updated: Monday, August 8, 2016

Understanding how to best prepare a newborn for quality and consistent sleep may not be something many of us already know.

When baby arrives, not only will she need to adapt to her new environment, you will also need to learn learn how to recognize her needs. Creating positive sleep associations (any behavior before baby falls asleep) very early on will greatly facilitate the process later.

Keep in mind that if there are older siblings involved, it's probably best to have them sleep in a separate room if possible until baby develops a sleep routine. It is not unusual for siblings to experience some interrupted nights. Quality one-on-one time with sibling during the day and applying a consistent bedtime routine will help resolve this episodic regression.

So how can I create the best sleep habits?

During the Daytime:
-Have baby be part of your daily routine.
-Observe and listen to the different kind of crying of your newborn. Talk to him, learn to understand his needs and what he is expressing through his cries.
-Expose baby to normal light and noises during the day. During naps, keep the room with daylight and normal daily noises this will start teaching your baby about the difference between days and nights.
-Massage baby after a bath.
-Wake her up (gently) after a 3-hour nap.

Bedtime & at Night:
-Start a bedtime routine (bath, massage, dim light, lullaby, calm ambiance).
-Swaddle baby -- it will help with Moro reflex and avoid some undesirable waking up.
-Put baby down when she is drowsy but still awake.
-Don’t talk during night feedings and keep the room dark and quiet. Use a flashlight with minimum light or a dimmer switch.
-Don’t change diapers unless necessary -- use one size up diaper for the night.
-Keep the room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees.
-If breastfeeding, keep feedings short (no longer than 15 minutes). Try to not have baby fall asleep while feeding. Very gently stimulate him by touching his feet.
-Don’t rush to your baby at the first cry -- give her a chance to self-soothe and learn to go back to sleep between sleep cycles. Note that she will make some noise while sleeping, which is very common.
-When baby reaches about 12 to 13 pounds, he is physiologically (but not always emotionally) ready to not be fed at night. He is also ready to develop consistent sleeping patterns. A consistent routine with cues is important.

Newborn Sleep Patterns
-The first stage of sleep is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement), which is an active sleep phase that lasts about 25 minutes). During this stage of sleep, the brain activity is high which explains why Moro reflex (jerky movements) is observed as well as fluttering eyelids.
-Then NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement represents a deep sleep that lasts another 25 min). During this stage, muscles are relaxed and breathing is regular. Energy is restored, and growth and development occur.
-Babies do not differentiate between day and night.
-Babies need 16-18 hours of sleep until 4 weeks old, and then around 14 hours per day.
-Between 3 and 4 months, babies first sleep cycle is going to change to deep sleep followed by active sleep like adults’ sleep.

If your baby develops colic, always consult a doctor first to make sure that there are no other medical conditions. Colic is characterized by long periods of crying that appear on healthy babies around 2 to 3 weeks after birth and can last until 2 to 3 months of age. Late afternoons and evenings are usually when the crying is at its pick and it can last sometimes for a few hours. Keep in mind that colic doesn't last forever and will eventually disappear.

Things to try for colic:
-Warm bath and massage with baby oil.
-Leg cycling (to help release gas).
-White-noises like fan, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, etc.
-Walking with baby in a sling.
-Car rides.
-Hold baby in your hands on his belly and rock him gently.
-Stay relaxed and calm to diffuse calmness to baby.
-Ask for help if nothing works that day.

Patricia lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two teenagers. She is a Pediatric Nurse and Sleep consultant for The Sleeping Infant, she helps families get better nights using a holistic and individualized approach.

Tags:  parenting 

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Thank YOU for a Wonderful Family Day!

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Thanks so much for coming out to yet another fabulous Family Day! We had great weather, wonderful people, awesome vendors and so many fun activities and offerings.

"I've loved PAMP since we joined over four years ago," said Regine. "We always love Family Day. As a stay-at-home mom of three kids, the variety of activities that PAMP offers is so important!"

Special thanks to all of our sponsors, vendors and volunteers. We couldn't make the day a success without you! 

"Family Day is such a great way to see people in the community," said Lori. "We love Family Day and all of the quality activities that PAMP hosts and endorses."

If you weren't able to make it, don't worry -- we'll be doing it again next year!


Tags:  news 

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Smartphone Photo Tips for Parents

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2016
Eager to get better photos of your kids this summer? Here are 3 easy steps you can take to get better shots, no matter what phone you’re using.

1) Pay attention to the light. Light is the most important aspect of a good photo. The word “photography,” means “writing with light.” Ask yourself, where is the light coming from? A good rule of thumb is to position yourself so that the light (a window, a lamp, whatever it is) is behind you. If it’s behind your baby’s head, you’re going to get that grainy, dark appearance on their face with a bright washed-out area behind them. Move around to the other side for better lighting. 

2) The four sides of the frame are your canvas. Painters have brushes. Musicians have instruments. Photographers have light and a rectangle to use as tools. That means when you are composing a shot, you want to frame it deliberately. Make sure everything you would like to see in the frame is showing, and make sure anything you don’t want to see is not showing. Stand, sit, move or simply tilt your camera up or down, and you’ll completely change the composition and the photo’s impact.

3) Go easy on the filters. You should definitely use filters to make photos pop and give them vibe, but if you want to keep these for posterity, tone it down a bit. In a few years, current filters are going to look really dated — ahem, remember when we used those “frames” in all of our Instagram shots? Most photo editing apps provide a sliding scale that allows you to apply a percentage of the filter to the photo. Generally, stay under 50%. You can use other enhancements like sharpening and contrast to add a little more oomph, but use those sparingly as well. If something looks fake about it, it’s not right.

Sarah Sloboda is a modern photographer for stylish families and kids based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her renowned style of photographing kids has been featured in Rangefinder magazine and many other publications. 

Tags:  technology 

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Four Questions for the Events Manager

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2016

Brittany Campbell is the Events Manager for PAMP. She not only manages a team of volunteers who host PAMP’s small events, she also plans and schedules the day-to-day activities, classes and workshops found in the events calendar, and does the planning for PAMP’s large events. She’s the queen bee behind the upcoming Family Day as well!

“I really like connecting with our volunteer hosts,” Brittany says. “Without them we could never run all the events we do.”

Some of her day-to-day tasks include scheduling small events like soccer, swim, gym, music and messy play classes, scoping out local businesses to partner with on new events and helping volunteer hosts prepare for Parents’ Night Out, Hidden Villa Tours, Firehouse Tours and Mommy-to-Be Meetups.

After coming back from maternity leave following the birth of her baby boy, Brittany says, "My most recent accomplishments included having a shower, getting out of the house in a clean shirt and picking up sushi takeout for dinner." Asked about her upcoming goals, she laughs, "Finishing a book, making a healthy dinner and getting more than 4 hours of sleep in one stretch.”

Brittany has been married to her husband for 5 years, and in October of last year they welcomed a wonderful baby boy named Cameron into the family.

1. What is the last non-kid movie you saw? Depends on whether you think the latest Star Wars movie is a kids movie.
2. Are you a Bay Area native or transplant? Transplant -- from Ottawa, Canada.
3. What’s at the top of your to-do list? Travel, always.
4. Who is your favorite Sesame Street character? Cookie Monster.

Tags:  spotlight 

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Book Drive at Family Day

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Updated: Thursday, July 14, 2016

PAMP is proud to partner with 10 Books a Home (10BH) for a BOOK DRIVE at Family Day this year. 10BH is an early education Child-Parent Home Tutoring Program located in East Palo Alto.

Please bring your donations of gently used or new books appropriate for preschool-aged children (3-5 years) to the Family Day event to support this great organization!

10 Books A Home gives 2 books per month directly to each child in the program. 10BH puts all book donations to work by giving AND READING them to children – the basics of school-readiness. Parents sit in on every lesson, so they too learn new ways to read with their children.

Learn more about 10BH:

Who is 10 Books A Home (10BH)

10 Books A Home (10BH), founded in 2009 in East Palo Alto, CA, is an early learning child-parent home tutoring nonprofit whose mission is to support high poverty families in nurturing their preschooler’s intrinsic learning motivations so they enter kindergarten positioned to be and remain above grade level.

What 10BH Does

10BH provides a year-round, 2-year child-parent home tutoring program (Child-Parent Home Tutoring Program). The program offers home tutoring and educational resources to high poverty families in exchange for parent participation. Preschool-aged children receive weekly lessons in their homes from the age of 3 for two years until they begin kindergarten. Volunteer Role Models use 10BH’s educational resources and staff support to provide the tutoring and tailor each lesson around the child’s unique learning motivations. Parents participate in every lesson and in between lessons use educational resources and staff support to complete weekly reading and homework with their children.

Program goals
The program’s goals are twofold: (1) encourage the child to fall in love with learning by nurturing their intrinsic learning motivations, and (2) support the family in transforming their home to continually support their child’s love of learning. The impact the program seeks to achieve is long range: every child served will begin kindergarten positioned to remain at or above grade level until high school completion. 10BH longitudinally tracks academic performance from K-12 to understand its impact.

10BH's vision is to serve 1.6 million high poverty preschoolers annually by 2035, which comprises the nation's poorest 20% of preschoolers. 10BH’s dream is to tip high poverty communities into reforming themselves by empowering large numbers of children and families in local communities to annually enter kindergarten positioned to be and remain above grade level.


In 2012, two East Palo Alto family friends had the opportunity to apply to 10BH. One applied and one did not. In 2016, both women’s children were in second grade – with one major difference. The former 10BH girl performed at the top of her class while the other girl struggled academically.

In 2016, the mother who didn’t apply signed up her youngest child for 10BH. In her registration appointment, she told the story above and added, “I’m not going to make the same mistake again.”

Keep up with 10BH's progress in the following ways:

  1. News Page  - Regularly published reports, blogs, newsletters, press releases, etc.

  2. Facebook - The daily going-ons of 10BH

  3. Youtube - Regular updating of new lesson videos, how to videos, learning activity demonstrations, etc.

  4. Other - Twitter, Linkedin

Tags:  news 

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The ABC's of Spotting Eye Issues in Infants & Toddlers

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

As parents, it’s so exciting when we bring home that little bundle of joy and begin to anticipate their future growth and achievements.


For infants and toddlers, their developing eyesight is of the utmost importance. But for those little ones that don’t necessarily communicate so well, it can be difficult to know if they are experiencing problems with their vision.

Experts agree that children should have their first eye exam at six months and then the next before they enter school, usually around age five or six. They also report that 5 - 10% of pre-schoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems. So the gap between birth and 24 weeks and waiting another half-dozen years is a critical time for parents to be on the lookout for possible issues with their youngster’s eyes.

What to Look For
While it would take an eye expert to diagnose something like
astigmatism (a warping of the curvature of the cornea), there are still some ways parents can take charge of their child’s vision during this young age.

Take a look (pardon the pun) at these three red flags when it comes to your children’s eyesight. They’re easy to remember given this A-B-C format. You should check regularly for these important signs to safeguard your child’s sight:

This one is perhaps the easiest to spot of the three. By the age of 4-6 months, a baby’s eyes begin to stabilized and should be properly aligned. If they’re cross-eyed (strabismus), have a wandering or “lazy eye,” they should be taken to see an ophthalmologist immediately. There are treatments available that can help to correct these conditions before they become permanent.

When your child is playing with books and other toys, do they bring the object close to their eyes to get a better look or draw it away at arm’s length? By the age of 18 months, a child’s vision should begin to mature enough to see things clearly at a reasonable distance. If they’re not focusing on items, this could be a sign there is a problem with the proper development of their vision. Also watch for squinting as they could be trying to correct the problem themselves.

Look for cloudiness in the pupil and surrounding area, which could be a sign of infant cataracts. Although rare, this condition needs to be treated immediately to prevent further damage. Similar to older children and adults, if not treated surgically, the tissue continues to deteriorate and it could cause permanent vision loss or even lead to blindness.

Be on the lookout for any unusual vision or eye behavior that seems out of the ordinary. For example, while it’s cute to watch a baby rubbing their eyes with their tiny, little fists, if they’re doing it consistently, there could be trouble.

When it comes to protecting our children’s invaluable vision, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and take them to “see” a professional.


Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.

Tags:  health 

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Choosing Appropriate Kids’ Apparel for Sunny Days

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A bright, sunny day should never be wasted. In addition to the vitamin D goodness we get from being outdoors, Early Childhood News shares that outdoor play helps develop a child’s physical and social skills. But like any other weather element, the sun can inflict harm on our children -- so it’s important to make sure our kids are dressed in the right clothes that will allow them to run around without getting too warm, while also maintaining their wellbeing.

Finding that balance between breathable fabrics and protection from the sun can be tricky at times. To help you out, here are a few tips on picking the proper children’s clothing for the outdoors.

Choose fabrics with the best UV protection
There are certain fabrics that are evidently best suited for sweltering heat and humidity, but not everything is made equally in terms of protection against UV rays. While cotton, linen and silk are lightweight and highly absorbent, the tightness of the weave as well as the color of the material also play integral roles in blocking UV rays according to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Because of the climate, the three fabrics mentioned still work best for the sun in terms of breathability. However, if you would like to test the level of protection of the clothes, simply hold up each garment at the sun and see if the rays penetrate the fabric. If they do, it’s best to pick out another shirt for your kid.

Make sun safety fun with colorful accessories
The key to making a potential health concern fun is by incorporating exciting elements to it. In this case, stylish and vibrant accessories that Tootsa blogger Lisa Dwyer Hogg lists, including hexagon sunnies and ice cream ponchos, will encourage children to protect themselves when they step out in the sun. Putting on hats, shades and sprays can be annoying, and the reason for their use may never be fully understood by kids -- but if accessories can make your child look and feel cool, you’re all set!

Shoes can make all the difference!
Warm weather may have kids wanting to wear sandals, flip flops or even go barefoot to run around in the grass or on a sandy beach. Unless you’re heading out to the beach, pool or just going on a casual stroll, the previously listed footwear are not the best choices despite the demands of the climate. Sandals and flip flops will put your children at risk for splinters, stubbed toes and even bee stings. And for any child that is just learning how to walk, WebMD says that closed toe shoes are still your best bet.

According to J is a mother of two young boys who love to play outdoors, so she is an expert on dressing them for maximum safety and fun. Other than family hikes, she loves DIY projects, trying out new recipes and reading. Watch out for her own blog soon!

Tags:  activities 

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