JENNIFER JACKSON’S PORT TOWNSEND NEIGHBOR COLUMN: Little guide for parents takes the cake

WHICH CHURCH OFFERS free child care at a “Mom’s Time Out” from 9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Monday mornings?

Which gourmet, waterfront restaurant welcomes families and has a “kids eat free” night Wednesdays?

And where in Jefferson County can you buy a diaper cake?

If you know what a diaper cake is, you may also be in the market for the latest accessory for new parents: The Little Guide for Little Ones (and Their Families) — Birth to Five Resources in Jefferson County.

Created by three mothers, the guide — which made its debut at a book release party Saturday — is designed to ease the shock of a life-changing event.

“I had no idea of what it was like to have child,” said Shelly Randall, a writer/editor who helped compile the guide.

“It took awhile to find a community of other moms.”

Three creators

A year in the making, the guide was the brainchild of Robin Mills, a teacher in Chimacum School’s Pi program.

The mother of Ruby, then 4, and Bailey, 2, Robin came up with the guide as a fundraising idea for the Port Townsend Cooperative Playschool, which is affiliated with Peninsula College’s Family Life Education program.

Mills recruited graphic designer Tonya Cole, whose twins, Ana and Jack, were 2 years old at the time, and Randall, whose son, Soren, was a year old.

All donated their time to create the book.

“It’s been a long haul in our limited spare time — a project of the heart,” Randall said.

Randall had lived and worked in Port Townsend for 10 years but discovered that once she gave birth, her social options narrowed.

But she had a place to start expanding it: the women she had met in the Fit Momma classes for expectant mothers at Discovery Physical Therapy.

After Soren was born, she discovered another social outlet: the Breastfeeding Tea on Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jefferson County Public Health Department in Port Townsend.

“It was my lifeline, the thing I looked forward to once a week,” Randall said. “You could get out of the house with your kid.”

That’s why the Breastfeeding Tea is the first thing listed in The Little Guide, under the “Connecting with People” heading in the “Getting Acquainted” section.

Another example is a weekly drop-in parenting group in Quilcene on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — where kids play while parents exchange war stories, discuss concerns with a public health nurse, browse the resource library or exchange books and children’s clothing.

Another resource: the First Teacher program’s free monthly newsletter and development guides for children from 3 months to school age.

The Little Guide also lists playgrounds, pools, parks and beaches in Jefferson County, as well as Sequim and the Silverdale area, and play spots near ferry terminals and airports as part of the “Out and About” section.

The “Events and Activities” section offers five pages of classes and camps, grouped by type (music, art, exercise, etc.), that include age eligibility.

Options offered

“One thing about the guide is the different options, like two pages of preschools,” said Sarah McNulty, mother of Noah Isenberg, 2. “If you Google Port Townsend and preschool, you get two.”

For Bridget Gregg, the first connecting point was the Port Townsend Library’s Baby Hour.

Gregg moved to Port Ludlow from Seattle five years ago after her son, Riley, was born.

At Baby Hour, she learned about the Port Townsend Cooperative Playschool, where she now goes with her daughter, Norma.

Norma Avila, who has two sons, Carlos and Daniel, said the Cooperative Playschool was an important resource at a time when she had a huge change in her life.

Both Gregg and Avila brought their children to the book release party, which was held at Randall’s house, as did Luke Cherney, who brought daughter Evelyn and her friend Aurora.

“It’s nice to have something like this, where you’re not relying just on word-of-mouth,” Cherney said of the guide.

More births

When Evelyn was born, Cherney said, the nurses told him and spouse Audrey Cherney, a childbirth educator who is expecting again, that Jefferson County was experiencing a bump in the number of babies being born. So a resource guide for parents is an idea whose time has come.

Other “Did You Know?” listings: When your child turns 4, Grant Street School offers a series of three free classes called “Ready for Kindergarten.” A local dentist offers free “happy visits” to familiarize young children with the dental office and the importance of dental hygiene. At a local grocery store, kids can sign up for a card that entitles them to a free apple, banana or carrot at each visit.

And on Page 21, under “Diapering Resources,” you can find out where to order a diaper cake, the ultimate centerpiece for a baby shower.

People whose children are grown can buy a guide to be placed in a church, public health center, women’s shelter or other community outreach program, the editors suggest.

Having the guides available at the three WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clinics would be a natural way to reach mothers of young children throughout Jefferson County, she said.

“The conduit is there,” Randall said.

And the guide, sized to fit into a diaper bag, makes a great baby shower gift for an expectant mother, Randall said, because that’s when she has the time to read it.

The Little Guide is $10 and is available at Henery’s Hardware stores in Port Townsend and Quilcene, Sport Townsend and Seams to Last.

To order a copy by mail or support the project by buying copies to be distributed, send a check to the Port Townsend Cooperative Playschool, P.O. Box 768, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

You can designate where you want the copies to go and in whose name.

For more information, e-mail Robin Mills at ptcpfundraising@gmail.com or phone 360-385-2517.

For more information about Port Townsend Cooperative Playschool, e-mail PTCPmembership@gmail.com or phone Dana Maya, 360-301-6626.

________

Jennifer Jackson writes about Port Townsend and Jefferson County every Wednesday. To contact her with items for this column, phone 360-379-5688 or e-mail jjackson@olypen.com.

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