This is trippy: Tips for a business trip away from your child

Even though I see rain and fog out my hotel window right now, everyone assures me that yes, I am in Texas.

I’m spending most of the week in Austin for business during a regrettably cold and wet stretch (while Portland is enjoying sun and temps in the high 60s—argh!). This also marks the longest I’ve ever been away from Peeper.

I went on one business trip before, and we both did fine—a fact that definitely helped me click “buy” on my plane ticket here. Peeper and I are both a little more independent now, so I figured we’d do even better this go around.

That has been mostly true. My mom is staying at our house and watches Peeper while Eric is at work. They spend a ton of time together even when I’m not hunting for vegetarian BBQ in the country’s most meat-centric state, so my absence wasn’t an enormous transition.

Still, my mom tells me that Peeper asks for me when she wakes up and calls, “Where Mama go?” when looking around my bedroom. The fact that she misses me both breaks my heart and feels like a tiny hug. (Is that weird?)

This trip has armed me with a few techniques for traveling without my sweet toddler. For parents leaving their littles at home, then, I have a few pieces of advice. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Painting abundance

When we were growing up, my siblings and I sometimes had to go to Carma’s. Looking back, the day care surely wasn’t legal—it entailed dozens of kids and one grumpy woman more concerned about her soaps and her dogs than the children under her care, it seemed.

I vividly remember the vinyl couch and carpet covers that protected against spills. I remember one time when a queue of little kids stared at me as I sat on the toilet—a mortifying experience that told me I was holding up their pre-nap pee. I remember Carma once fixed me an egg salad sandwich instead of my usual PB&J and I sat at the table, horrified, deciding between eating a hated food or getting scolded.

Most of all, though, I remember that each child was allowed only one piece of paper to color. I would plan out my artistic vision, carefully choose my crayons and cover every inch of white—on both sides, of course.

Looking back, my heart breaks for 5-year-old me. There I was, stuck in a miserable day care I hated, with my one escape—Crayolas and art—arbitrarily limited.

Peeper, thankfully, is blissfully unaware that a limit on paper could actually exist. When she paints, she does so with a gleeful abandon, mashing her palms in the paint and clapping her rainbow-hued hands together. “Another one!” she says as she fills each page with smears of color. Before long, art covers the table, counters and even the stove.

Toddler painting - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Out favorite children’s books: Zoo books

Ever since we went to Zoo Lights, Peeper has been talking about the zoo.

When I say we’re taking Finn for a walk, she says, “Zoo!” When I buckle her into her car seat, she says, “Zoo!” When we brush our teeth, she points to the picture of the rhino in the bathroom and says, “Zoo!” (Yes, we have a photo of a rhino in the bathroom. Don’t you?)

We’ve hit up the zoo a few times since then, and she continues to talk about the otters, tiger, rhino and fish she saw there. (She’s staying mostly mum on the hippos, though, after the recorded hippo calls the zoo plays completely terrified her.)

Peeper visits the giraffes at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois during Christmas.

Peeper visits the giraffes at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois during Christmas.

Luckily, we have a membership, but we just don’t have the time to trot over to see the animals every. single. day. So Peeper gets her zoo fix on my lap in the rocking chair during storytime (which, in our home, is pretty much all the time).

Here, then, are our favorite zoo-centric reads. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

19 months: New House

Eric and I stood in the bare living room, grinning at each other. We had just received the keys to our new home, the first property either of us has owned. We were saying good-bye to cramped apartment living, chain-smoking neighbors and car alarms that consistently blared in the middle of the night.

We had ordered pizza because that’s what you do the first night in your new place. Finn and Edie had been sprinting in circles, taking advantage of all the space and complete lack of furniture.

We weren’t going to spend the night; we had hardly begun packing, in fact. We were just about to head back to the apartment when we changed Peeper’s diaper.

Then—but of course—she peed on the floor.

The house was officially ours.

Moving with a toddler - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Nutella pielettes: RIP Michele Ferrero [recipe]

If you’re a billionaire who brought the world Tic Tacs, Ferrero-Rocher and—even better—Nutella, what better day to die than Valentine’s Day?

Michele Ferrero, who invented the delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread, passed away over the weekend, leaving a world that much more delicious thanks to his sweets empire.

A while back, I made a batch of Nutella pielettes—basically, tiny tart-pies—for a friend’s pie-off party. Alas, they didn’t win, but I think they turned out pretty phenomenal.

In honor of Ferrero and his mouthwatering legacy, here’s the recipe. Don’t forget to toast to the late real-life Willy Wonka when you pop one of these morsels into your mouth.

Nutella pieNutella pie crust Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

To arms over leggings

Chances are, if you’ve seen me in the last, oh, four or five months, I haven’t been wearing pants. I have officially embraced the no-pants revolution and am rocking leggings just about erry day of the week.

Unfortunately, my new way of life is being attacked on all sides. First, there was the blog post heard ’round the world—you know the one I’m talking about, in which the writer vowed to abandon all stretchy fabric to avoid inspiring lustful gazes.

(Is it just me, or does that justification fall dangerously close to the she-deserved-it argument that says a woman’s outfit triggered her rape?)

Now, lawmakers in Montana want to ban yoga pants in public—at least flesh-covered ones (which, insanely, would make that transcendent video of Sergei Polunin dancing to Hozier illegal). I hesitate to call upon the Right’s go-to argument of the slippery slope, but HB 365 would pave the way to legislating my sartorial choices and comfort, regardless of the color of my leggings. After all, Republican David Moore added that yoga pants “should be illegal in public anyway.”

Perhaps women should go back to wearing floor-length skirts at all time—heck, they should just stay in the kitchen, where they definitely won’t risk giving any men-folk impure thoughts. Maybe that’ll be the next bill.

In the meantime, though, I’ll continue wearing leggings because I damn well want to.

I’ll wear leggings because they allow me to chase after my daughter and because they don’t have belt buckles that dig into her back when she sits on my lap.

I’ll wear leggings because they’re comfortable and they feel good. Even if pants and skirts aren’t exactly corsets/Spanx/Chinese foot binding, they’re not always the most comfortable thing to slip on, and I reserve the right to pass on them.

I’ll wear leggings because I want to show my daughter that women should wear whatever the eff we want. We are responsible for ourselves; we are not responsible for others’ feelings and thoughts. We do not have to restrict what we wear to moderate what someone else might think.

I’ll wear leggings because sometimes it’s all I can do to brush my teeth and hair, and getting dressed in an actual outfit is just too much.

I’ll wear leggings because politicians and prudes don’t want me to.

Join me—or not—but let’s all call out ridiculous attempts to legislate women’s bodies and what we decide to put on them.

Viva la leggings!

Viva la leggings!

PS – I loved “How Accepting Leggings as Pants Made Me a Better Feminist.” (To wit: “My leggings epiphany has shown me that I need to tell my Creepy Subconscious Slut-Shaming Cave Dweller to shut up. Judging a person based on what they wear is weird and wrong. And in the case of women, it furthers sexual objectification and the idea that appearance is a woman’s most important characteristic.”) Yes, yes, yes!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Toddler Valentine’s Day cards: Sending love from little hands

Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap—It’s a Hallmark holiday, it makes singles feel like crap, etc.—but at its most pure, the day is all about telling those you adore how they light up your life. What’s not to love about that?

But as many of us know (you haters included, I’d bet), it can feel downright awful when your mailbox is empty of heart-shaped doilies and amorous puns.

At a recent playdate Peeper and I attended, we did our best to alleviate some of the pink blues for a few folks.

We helped the toddlers craft handmade Valentine’s Day cards that our friend delivered to seniors in a memory care facility. Peeper’s friends really got into the craft, too!

Toddler Valentine's Day card Toddler Valentine's Day card 2We did a similar play date to make Christmas cards for Meals on Wheels, and we had so much fun that it’ll have to turn into a regular holiday get-together!

We simply cut heart shapes out of painter’s tape, stuck them to cards let the kiddos at ‘em. One piece of advice: Wait until the paint is fully dry before peeling off the tape; otherwise, the tape doesn’t come up clean.

Toddler Valentine's Day cards 4Our friend later told us that the seniors loved the cards: They showed them to each other at dinner, smiling. Some of the memory care patients might not remember what year it is, but pretty much everyone likes feeling remembered.

Has there ever been a time when a valentine—or any other thoughtful gesture—surprised you and made you feel special?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments