Trick or treat sign: Free Halloween printable

This is my first year as a mother when I’ve actually felt on top of Halloween. And that’s 100% because I decided to not go all DIY.

I’m so glad I’m half-assing Halloween.

When Peeper said she wanted to wear a Cinderella costume, my inner feminist cringed—but then I hopped on Amazon and ordered her a damn Disney dress.

Kiwi is still too little to have much of a preference or even know there’s a holiday coming up. So I figured that hey, she has fleece giraffe-print pajamas, so why doesn’t she dress as a giraffe? #twoforonepajamas

Now I have to get out and show off these top-tier costumes. And if you’re like us, you won’t be spending all of Halloween at home, either, waiting to give out tiny chocolates to almost equally tiny Elsas and Pikachus. We’ll be taking the girls out to get their own candy (which we’ll quickly appropriate, obvi). So I wanted to set out a trick or treat sign welcoming the neighborhood kids to help themselves to the treats I’ll leave on the front porch.

And hey, so can you, because you can download this Halloween trick or treat sign for free!

Download this free trick or treat sign printable to leave with a candy bowl on your porch this Halloween! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Download your free Trick or Treat Sign!

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(Sorry, the free printable does not come with free candy.)

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Our favorite children’s books with no words

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes a wordless picture book is worth a big ol’ internet shout-out. These, our 10 favorite children’s books with no words, are just those.

Wordless picture books still have a lot of story in 'em. Here are our favorite children's books without words. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Wordless picture books can be intimidating to adults: You have to wing it, since there is no text to read. But making up a story as you go along—and letting your child have a go at storytelling, too—is fun and fosters pre-literacy skills in little readers.

Children’s books with no words encourage imagination and curiosity in kids; they lead little ones to begin to tell stories; they prompt kids to look for plot clues in illustrations; and they promote close listening, as the story may change each time you read the book.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out these children’s books with no words the next time you’re at the library and see for yourself. Read more

If I can wash my kid’s hair, I can do ANYTHING

Oh, the screaming.

I shudder to imagine what the neighbors thought was going on at our house. But it was just bath time.

Over the last six months or so, when it came time to wash my kid’s hair, Peeper would disappear and a panicked, sobbing, shrieking beast took her place.

It was torture, apparently, for her, and it was no fun for us parents, either.

But what I ended up learning helped make all the screaming, the crying and the frustration a little more worth the struggle.

Learning parenting lessons is hard. When I finally was able to wash my kid's hair, it felt like such a win! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Fall art exploration: Painting with chestnuts

When I was little, I walked with my dad across the University of Oregon campus just before school started. I held his hand as we meandered under the centuries-old trees and kicked the crackling fallen leaves. I often stooped to pick up acorns and chestnuts.

I’d find them in my pocket all fall and winter long—little treasures squirreled away.

Even now I can’t resist picking them up. I run my thumb over the smooth shell like a worry stone and remember those crisp autumn walks with my dad.

The other day, on one of those cold but bright fall mornings, my girls and I took a walk. It was just chilly enough for me to be grateful for the furnace baby strapped to my chest, and Peeper stopped every few steps to investigate something or other while Finn waited impatiently.

We approached a chestnut tree and the mess of nuts, shells and leaves surrounding it. Squirrels scolded us overhead while Peeper picked up a handful of chestnuts and talked about how pokey the burst-open shells were.

We brought a bunch home and started a “special project,” as she has taken to calling her art endeavors. We incorporated the treasures into our fall art crafting—take a look and you and your little may love painting with chestnuts, too!

Process art with autumn treasures and painting with chestnuts: a fun way to celebrate fall! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Chew on this: The 10 best teething products and tips

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I’m considering starting a baby consulting business. Consultations will go like this.

My baby is cranky. She’s probably teething.

My baby doesn’t sleep. He’s probably teething.

My baby wants to eat all the time/won’t eat anything. She’s probably teething.

My baby bites me/other kids/the dog/wood chips at the playground. He’s definitely teething.

But after having two kids who have grown lots and lots of teeth, I have tried just about every product and technique to relieve teething pain. Here, then, are my recommendations for the best teething products.

Teething hurts! Thankfully, these tips, toys and best of the best teething products will help your baby feel better ASAP. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Why I love breastfeeding my toddler

Not too long ago I wrote about all the reasons why I’m a big fan of breastfeeding, in spite of the really, really hard stretches we’ve gone through to get to the pleasant parts. But the other day, when I was breastfeeding my toddler as we waited for Eric in the grocery store parking lot, I had to laugh. Kiwi kept standing up on my lap, turning her head to look out the window, and practically tap dancing all over me—staying latched all the while.

Breastfeeding a 14-month-old, I thought, is not like breastfeeding a baby.

But we’re still going strong. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to breastfeed—until it stops working for us, I suppose—but I’m enjoying it while I still have this special time with Kiwi.

In the spirit of celebrating what we have, then, here are 10 reasons why I love breastfeeding my toddler.

It's not always easy, but breastfeeding a toddler has a ton of rewards. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

How to bake with kids

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Warm muffins, melt-in-your-mouth rolls and all the pumpkin spice you could wish for: hello fall! Now that autumn days are cooler and crisper, I’m ready to take my oven out of its summer retirement. It’s no wonder that Peeper has been wanting to help me in the kitchen, too: She asks to help me make muffins at least once a week.

Of course a preschooler’s “help” in anything, especially an activity that involves dumping large quantities of messy flour, requires a certain amount of air quotes. But she loves it—and inviting a child to participate in choosing, preparing and serving food can encourage her to make healthier food choices in the future, according to research. (Um, do chocolate chip cookies count as a healthy food choice?)

Through plenty of experience, I have come across tips on how to bake with kids—without them losing a finger on a hot oven (or you losing your mind).

How to bake with your kids - fall cookies & pumpkin spice muffins, here we come! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more