Kiwi is 11 months

11 month old baby bruises

If my kid is covered in bruises, please don’t worry. It’s just that her ambitions are outpacing her motor skills.

There was one week when Kiwi had several bruises on her head, a goose egg above her eye and a gash on her gums. She had taken several headers, pulled both a chair and and end table on top of herself, and slipped in the tub—twice. All the bonks made me feel terrible, but it’s hard to rein in an 11-month-old baby who is set on cruising and climbing. Read more

A fashionably fierce sweater craft

Kids sweater craft: Princess and the Pony

Princesses are everywhere these days.

Disney has overrun the toy aisle, Pandora stations and the playground.

Now, I’m not a hater: I adore certain Disney movies, and Peeper’s first movie was Cinderella. But I can’t help but notice that a lot of princesses are, well, passive.

That is not the case with Princess Pinecone, the titular royalty in the picture book The Princess and the Pony.

A princess book with sass

Princess Pinecone lives in a society of warriors. But her parents haven’t quite caught on: They give her cutesy sweaters instead of cool warrior presents like shields, spiked belts or—what she truly covets—a fierce warrior horse.

When her birthday rolls around, she does get a horse—sort of. Princess Pinecone gets big-eyed, doughy pony who farts too much.

But she can’t give a birthday present back, she figures, so she keeps the pony. What happens at the next warrior brawl surprises everyone.

Getting crafty

After reading The Princess and the Pony about a hundred times, I made a book-inspired craft for Peeper. And I’m not the only one: Check out the brute-inspired crafts at the Raising Fairies and Knights Monthly Crafting Book Club!

Monthly Crafting Book Club

Princess Pinecone and the rest of the brutes in the book come to realize that cute can be strong, and you don’t have to be just fierce or just adorable—you can be both.

So Peeper and I created a fashionably fierce sweater craft.

This sweater craft is great for fine motor skills—though if your little is as young as Peeper is, she may need a little help winding the yarn around the paper.

Princess sweater craft

It’s also very open-ended. There’s no “right” way for the sweater craft to look: The process of winding and stamping (and hand-slapping, if you’re Peeper) is much more important than the final product.

After all, process art helps young kids feel more confident, since they don’t “fail” to make their project look identical to the model one, writes the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

So hit up your library for a copy of The Princess and the Pony, then join us for some cozy—and fierce—fun.

Kids sweater craft Princess and the PonyKids sweater craft Princess and the Pony

Fashionably fierce sweater craft


  • cardstock paper
  • yarn
  • painter’s tape
  • paint
  • cotton balls


  1. Cut out a sweater shape from a sheet of cardstock.
  2. Tape one end of the yarn to the “back” of the sweater. Then have your child wind the yarn around the sweater. (You may have to help by guiding her hands or playing out the yarn.)
  3. When your child is done wrapping, tape the tail of the yarn to the back of the sweater. This will secure the yarn so it doesn’t move.
  4. Squirt out as many colors of paint as your child would like. Invite her to stamp the paper with a cotton ball (it’s so cozy, like a sweater!). The more she paints over the yarn and fills up the white space, the more contrast she’ll get.
  5. When she’s done, untape and unwrap the yarn. She’ll see the white lines left by the yarn—giving her a striped sweater!

Don’t forget to try out the other The Princess and the Pony crafts at the Monthly Crafting Book Club!

Princess and the Pony monthly crafting book club

Celebrate summer with messy painting

Art, at its best, is a full-body experience—at least according to my kids. And with summer here (happy first day of summer!), it’s the perfect time to get outside for some messy painting.

On a recent afternoon, Peeper, Kiwi and a few friends did just that. I squirted paint onto plates of shaving cream, and the kids dove in: Within minutes, we were all messy. And within minutes, we were all having so much fun.

After all, we often tell kids to be neat. Use a napkin. Don’t spill. Wash your hands. Keep your hands to yourself. 

With the weather warming up, though, it’s a great excuse to play outside. And with a little set-up—and a lot of shaving cream—you can let your kids’ creativity go wild. Come on, color outside the lines!

Summer Fun Messy Painting Play Date - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

DIY colorful tomato cages

60-second DIY tomato cages - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper, in all her almost-three-year-old wisdom, has become quite the picky discerning eater. Tool around the internet searching “picky eater” and you’ll find about a billion recommendations to miraculously make your preschooler ask for seconds of that spinach-quinoa-frittata you whipped up. The tip that has made a lot of sense to me, though, is having your kid help grow the food you want her to eat.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a black thumb. I have somehow managed to kill a half-dozen cacti and succulents in the last year, not to mention the less hardy plants that have perished on my watch.

But I refuse to give up—especially if persistence means fewer power struggles around the dinner table. So this spring and summer we are growing some edible plants in planters.

First up on Peeper’s homegrown menu: tomatoes!

 DIY colorful tomato cages

Getting her hands dirty

Peeper was so excited to plant the tomato starter. She’s been checking on it daily as the poor plant languished in its tiny pot for weeks. (See my earlier note about killing plants. Oops!)

We couldn’t find the trowel in the rat’s nest of our garage, so Peeper helped scoop potting soil with a little Mason jar.

DIY colored tomato cages

What kids learn from growing food

I’m most excited about the (theoretical) expansion of Peeper’s menu, but there are other benefits to helping kids grow food.

Planting a seed, tending to it and watching it grow is a tangible lesson in where food comes from. Hands-on gardening teaches kids about the life cycle and the effect of the environment (like what happens to a plant after a rain storm or a scorcher).

Growing food also teaches kids about how a plant grows. Peeper got up close and personal with the tomato plant’s roots as we loosened the packed dirt around the root ball.

Planting tomatoes and DIY tomato cages

Kids also learn ownership and responsibility. Peeper has asked to water the plants we repotted and loves to check their progress. The patience she’ll gain, too, as she waits for a tiny green tomato to turn into a beefsteak is a bonus for any preschooler.

Making a pretty tomato cage

Once we repotted the tomato, we had to stake in the tomato cage. We explained to Peeper that tomato plants grow big and heavy, and the cage helps support it.

When I’d gone to the hardware store to buy the cages, I wanted to get the beautiful, brightly colored ones—but couldn’t justify paying three times more for a pink or green one.  Instead, I bought the regular silver tomato cage—and gave it a 60-second facelift!

Spray painting DIY tomato cages - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

DIY colorful tomato cages

Using stuff you probably already have in your garage, you can make a tomato cage even prettier—in about a minute!

60-second DIY Colorful Tomato Cages


  • a metal tomato cage (mine cost less than $3 at the hardware store)
  • cardboard or newspaper
  • spray paint (I used a can that was lying around from a previous project, so it was free!)


  1. Lay out your cardboard or newspaper on a flat surface. Make sure it’s bigger than the tomato cage so you don’t spray paint the ground.
  2. Set the tomato cage on top in a way it won’t move around.
  3. Following the directions on the spray paint can, spray a layer of color on the tomato cage.
  4. Wait until the layer of paint is dry, then turn the tomato cage over. Spray paint that side.
  5. Wait for the paint to dry fully, then stick the tomato cage in the ground. It’s ready to support those tomatoes in style!

Feeling my Pulse

Love Conquers Hate Pulse shooting
image from Human Rights Campaign

I’ve hesitated to write this post. It feels as if all the heartbreak, anger and confusion about the recent mass shooting of the Pulse night club in Orlando has already been better expressed than I could attempt. But I can’t get the Pulse shooting out of my mind. Read more

What my love is worth

preschooler love bed snugglesThe other morning I was sitting on the floor, playing with Kiwi. I snuggled in close to her, ruffling her downy hair with my nose.

“I love you,” I whispered.

Then I looked up at Peeper, who was drinking milk at the table.

“Psst,” I started. She looked at me. “I love you.”

Peeper set her glass down.

Now can I have a popsicle?”

And that’s how I know the value of my love: It is preschooler leverage to get dessert.

Chocolate strawberry pops {Kid friendly recipe}

Welcome back, strawberry season. And hellooooooooo chocolate strawberry pops!

If you haven’t been stuffing your face with fresh, just-picked, locally grown strawberries, what the heck have you been doing? Just walk by the farmers market and you’ll smell strawberries warming in the sun.

And it’s u-pick season! If you’re in the Portland area, check out this article about the best u-pick berry farms from PDX Parent.

Now, the girls and I aren’t opposed to simply eating strawberries plain by the pint. But if you’re looking for a healthy dessert your kids can help make, you’ve found it. Recipe below!

Chocolate Strawberry Pops Healthy Dessert Recipe Read more