Parent Education Class or Program
Winner: Hop to Signaroo
Hop to Signaroo snags top honors again this year for helping parents give their tykes the gift of communication — before they can talk. Founder and instructor Nancy Hanauer, a credentialed teacher with more than 20 years of experience teaching American Sign Language, has helped more than 2,000 babies learn to sign so they can tell those silly parents what they really need. One relieved parent shares that her 5-month-old daughter “learned how to tell us when she needed her diaper changed, without having to cry.” Parents also love Hanauer’s teaching style, noting, “She is patient and helpful” and that she is “extremely entertaining in class.”
In addition to the 12-week peer support programs in which parents “learn so much from other parents,” PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) offers a popular Parent Talk lecture series. As one respondent says, “PEPS’ lectures plus the established network were a blessing and survival kit for me as a new parent.”
Also ranking high on the list of your parent-education essentials is Swedish Hospital. Swedish covers a wide range of valuable topics in classes focusing on everything from prenatal preparation (like there really is such a thing), such as “Breastfeeding Preparation,” “Boot Camp for New Dads,” and “Labor, Birth and Beyond,” to more specific classes, such as “Baby Safe for NICU Families,” “Infant Massage” and “Exceptional Grandparents.” One reader notes, “Great variety! I took an elective C-section prep class — who knew?”
Readers heap on the accolades for Penny Simkin. “Penny’s style is very warm, and she uses child-friendly language without talking down to kids,” says a voter. Throughout her impressive career helping families since 1968, Simkin has amassed a wealth of experience and teaches with a “knowledgeable and balanced approach.” In short, “Penny is simply incredible!!!” (She earns every one of those exclamation points!)
Parent Support Program
If it takes a village to raise a child, imagine what raising a parent takes! Readers love the learning and support they draw from the PEPS 12-week program in which new parents are matched with a facilitator and other new parents from their neighborhood to take those first wobbly steps of parenthood together. “It gives you people who are in your shoes that you can talk with. It is a wonderful support system!” says one fan. Perhaps best of all, the rewards of PEPS connections continue well beyond those initial weeks: “PEPS has been and continues to be a big part of my life. After 16 years, we are still meeting with our PEPS group. I would vote over and over for PEPS if I could.”
Sarina Behar Natkin and Melissa Benaroya of Grow Parenting are licensed clinical social workers, certified Gottman educators and certified Positive Discipline parent educators. Their mission is to help families raise healthy children and experience more joy while doing it. Says a reader, “Melissa and Sarina are outstanding speakers — they are a fantastic community resource. I have had friends who have seen them for coaching, and they have helped a ton!”
Children’s sleep consultant Rebecca Michi rates as another favorite parent resource, one who supports the community of mothers in Seattle with both free sleep consultations and one-on-one paid consultant work. “Baby sleep issues can be detrimental to parents and children — Rebecca is a great resource to get everyone happy, healthy and on track for a good night’s sleep.”
Listening Mothers connects an online community of expectant moms, parents, grandparents, extended families and friends in the shared goal of “nurturing powerful relationships between parents and their children.” Readers love the two programs Listening Mothers offers in the greater Seattle area for parents of young children. As one reader shares, the program provides “down-to-earth, honest conversation amongst moms with newborns.”
ParentMap voters do love their pediatricians and flocked in astounding numbers to brag about them. This year, we had a three-way tie for first place. Thomas E. Numrych, M.D., Ph.D., of Virginia Mason Sand Point Pediatrics, has been tending to children in the Seattle area since 1995, when he completed his internship and residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital. You tell us that “he is just fantastic” with your kids and that he’s “quick” — both indispensible traits when you have a screaming, feverish toddler in your lap.
Sharing top honors is Christianne Eldred, M.D., of Ballard Pediatrics. A graduate of the University of Washington and the UW School of Medicine, Eldred completed her pediatric residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital and at the University of Washington. Dr. Eldred enjoys working with adolescents and is active in community outreach programs sponsored by the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. You love her because she’s “a good listener” and has “an excellent rapport with little ones.”
Our third winner is Emmanuel “Manny” Eusebio, M.D., of the Northgate office of Pacific Medical Centers. Dr. Eusebio trained at the University of Minnesota and Seattle Children’s Hospital. According to you, he is “great with kids and their families,” “kids love him,” and more than one commenter extolled his “compassionate” nature.
Kathy Risse, M.D., at Virginia Mason Sand Point Pediatrics, is a “down-to-earth, knowledgeable doctor” and so “nice, normal and easy to talk to.”
The Polyclinic’s Gary B. Spector, M.D., provides his patients with “no-nonsense, intelligent, informed medical care with a focus on prevention and the enhanced talent of caring for families of sick children. He is truly amazing!”
Another Virginia Mason Sand Point Pediatrics favorite, Kristin Nyweide, M.D., “remembers each kid and spends time to connect with kids and parents to answer all questions.” Her colleague Michael Dudas, M.D., “answers all of our questions, is caring, compassionate and great with kids.”
Readers share that Pacific Medical Centers’ Akiko Hall, M.D., M.P.H., is an “awesome diagnostician.”
In one of our favorite comments in this category, Robert Telzrow, M.D., of Ballard Pediatrics is described as “the Jimmy Stewart of pediatricians, whose knowledge and demeanor are unparalleled. He builds such confidence, even when faced with greatly challenging children.”
Editors’ note: Your heartfelt responses reflect just how important it is to find a dentist who can allay fears (yours and those of your kids) and create a calm, positive experience that sets children on the path to lifelong oral health. We can’t trust just anyone to take care of our favorite smile, now can we? This year, there was a strong showing in this category; ParentMap readers salute these exceptional pediatric dentists for their compassionate and expert care of each and every little patient, each and every little tooth. We call all these dentists “winners.”
Superlatives fell like the ubiquitous Northwest rain once again this year for Dr. Roger Lucas of Lynnwood Kids Dentist. Readers praise the warm, upbeat, comfortable, efficiently run and “entertaining” atmosphere Dr. Lucas and staff provide for families. (Really, who wouldn’t want to play “Mario Kart” while getting their teeth cleaned?) Dr. Lucas is a bit of a tooth whisperer — credited by parents as being a “genius with his work” and “caring, gentle, and great at making kids feel good about themselves and their teeth.” As one mother enthuses, “My kids can’t wait to go to the dentist! What a win for mom!”"
Seeing the world from a child’s point of view is something that Dr. Camille Sata (7900 E. Green Lake Drive N.; 206-522-1565) seems to have down pat. It starts when kids arrive for their appointment, entering through a perfectly kid-sized portal, and extends into the fun-packed waiting room where Pooh Bear’s tree awaits. Sata’s “open-plan office, and gentle and genuinely kid-friendly staff” work to convince her pint-size patients that there is nothing even remotely scary about going to the dentist. Another bonus? Dr. Sata’s “solid, pragmatic care and advice” are “not too pricey.”
We can also credit Dr. Troy Hull of Greenlake Kids Dentistry for the preponderance of pearly whites flashing in the Green Lake neighborhood. One parent put a cap on it: “Young, refreshing and super tech-savvy, this office knows today’s kids (and modern parents!).” Dr. Hull’s dental philosophy is to always put the child first, especially when that child may have special health care needs. As one grateful mother shares, “They were so kind with my autistic son after a terrifying visit with a different pediatric dentist. They let him take breaks to play with toys and they were very, very patient with him.”
Northwest Pediatric Dentistry, serving patients in Ballard and Magnolia locations, popped in the votes this year due to the dynamic dental do-goodery of Dr. Kristin Johannsen and Dr. Jeffrey Marks, who both elicit raves and a run of exclamation points: “She’s amazing, so great with kids!!”; “He’s so kind and gentle” and “has great rapport with the little ones. Kids love him!!!”
Queen Anne tots flock to Seattle Kids Dentistry and Dr. Purva Merchant (who is a former Miss India and top of her class in dental school, thank you very much!), also a finalist in last year’s Golden Teddy Awards. Parents love that Dr. Merchant sees patients on Saturday, is “great with toddlers,” and “makes going to the dentist a fun experience.”
Winner: Penny Pumpernickel Pants Playcare
Whether it’s a last-minute dental appointment or a weekly session at the yoga studio, sometimes you need to find someone to watch the kids for a few hours. Drop-in daycare can be a real sanity-saver if you find a good one you can trust. Penny Pumpernickel Pants Playcare offers just such a service and ParentMap voters rave about Ophelia de Serres, or Mrs. Penny. “Great at-home daycare setup with the convenience of drop-off hours. My daughter had a blast in the well-stocked play area and played well with the other kids who are all closely supervised. It is intimate so I know my kid isn't going to get overlooked.” Mrs. Penny has won the hearts of many readers, who describe her as “a fantastic lady” who has “created a lovely, thoughtful space for the kids” ages 2½ to 4.
Once again, Adventure Kids Playcare, a franchise center with two locations in Issaquah, gets due appreciation for their “attention to kids.” You describe the centers, which welcome kids from 6 months to 12 years, as “easy, clean,” with a “quality staff.” The only complaint? You “wish there were more like them in other parts of the city!”
Another repeat finalist from last year ’s Golden Teddy Awards is Blossoming Buds Cottage, which provides flexible care for kiddos age 2 ½ to 5 in the Wedgewood/Viewridge neighborhood of Seattle. Parents extol the virtues of the “super kid-friendly” staff, great activities, parents ’ date night twice a month, and the convenient loading/unloading zone.
Another favorite, in part because of a great Parents Night Out program, is Kidstown at the Stroum Jewish Community Center. Readers say the “staff is excellent and kids always have a blast.” You love them because of their “great faculty and programs” and their “safety first” attitude.
Nanny or Babysitting Service
Winner: A Nanny for U
A Nanny for U might “provide wonderful, caring nannies on short notice” but they also can help with finding families the right temporary childcare, doula, or housekeeper, and they specialize in domestic solutions, corporate care and event care. This is their second year as ParentMap readers’ favorite because “they are all friendly and highly skilled at what they do. The administrative staff are also extremely helpful and friendly.” And it’s not just the families who praise their professional and caring service. One nanny wrote, “They placed me with my full-time family. I love working for them and felt like ANFU got to know me as a person, not just my resume.”
Annie’s Nannies Household Staffing staffers “truly care about their customers AND their nannies, not just the bottom line. They try to find matches that work for both parties.” According to one reader, Annie’s Nannies is the “most ethical agency with the best staff.”
Seattle Nanny Network has also earned a reputation as being “great at helping find that good parent-child- nanny relationship. More than one voter unabashedly gives them top props: “They are the BEST!” Credited for being high-integrity “problem solvers,” the folks at Seattle Nanny Network excel at giving “parents peace of mind.”
Parents also tap into Care.com , a huge network in the United States, Canada and the UK, to find caregivers for kids, seniors, pets and their home. Parents trust their background checks and references.
Let’s face it, as fascinating and fun as ParentMap is, you all like to read other great stuff on the web, and you gave us some of your favorite go-to blogs for a little straight-shooting with a sprinkle (or big pile) of humor on top. Add these brilliant blogs to your bookmarks:
Meredith Bland, Pile of Babies
Meredith Bland, freelance writer and blogger shares her completely irreverent spewings on Pile of Babies three times a week and is the mother of twins. You love her because “from poop to politics, she is hilarious.” This is one to read after the kids have gone to bed — just be careful you don’t spew wine on your keyboard.
Lea Geller, This Is the Corner We Pee In
A regular contributor to ParentMap, Lea Geller is not just funny, you think she’s “hi-lar-i-ous!” We’re not sure how she actually finds the time to write her blog, This Is the Corner We Pee In, considering she is a mother of five (count them, five) and dabbles in law as a part-time attorney. But write she does, and well at that.
Jenny Lawson, The Blogess
According to one reader, “NOTHING is funnier” than Jenny Lawson, and ParentMap voters are not the only ones who think so. A little-known publication, The New York Times, put her book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened on their bestseller list in the #1 spot.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, Seattle Mama Doc
The Seattle Mama Doc isn’t in the business of making us laugh so much as learn, which makes Swanson’s inclusion in this funny blogging mamas lineup quite a coup. Readers love and trust her “great information for parents” and describe the style of her blog as “just real.”