Twin Lakes: Family friendly hikes on Mt. Hood

Throughout the school year when Eric teaches, we typically spend every weekend taking turns working and playing with the girls. So this summer, when Eric’s job is much less demanding, I wanted to make a point of spending more quality time together as a family. When we got a rare weekday off together earlier this summer, we searched for a family friendly hike on Mt. Hood and headed up the mountain to Twin Lakes. Boy, was I glad we did!

This kid friendly hike on Mt. Hood to Twin Lakes is perfect for family travel outside Portland, Oregon! Ten Thousand Hour MamaThis kid friendly hike on Mt. Hood to Twin Lakes is perfect for family travel outside Portland, Oregon! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The hike was perfect. It was challenging enough to make me feel like I got a bit of a workout and had a breathtakingly gorgeous payoff at the end. The girls loved the hike—especially since they got to swim in a pristine lake on Mt. Hood. (What’s not to love?)

I’d recommend this family friendly hike on Mt. Hood in a heartbeat. Here’s all you need to know!

This kid friendly hike on Mt. Hood to Twin Lakes is perfect for family travel outside Portland, Oregon! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

How to keep kids busy at a restaurant: Mom tips

Back in my pre-kid days, I had grand visions of taking my children out to eat in restaurants. I imagined them sitting properly in high chairs, ordering their meals with a “please” and “thank you,” trying new foods and making only a minimal mess—with no screen time, of course. Oh, did I have it coming.

But my imagination doesn’t have to be all wrong. Now that I have two kids—who happen to be picky eaters, BTW, and won’t eat unless they are being read to—I have learned some tricks on how to keep kids busy at a restaurant.

7 tips on how to keep your kids busy at a restaurant - tried + true tips from a mom of picky eaters! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

That doesn’t mean we eat out often, and it doesn’t mean my kids are always model citizens at a restaurant. But it does mean I’m not crushed by anxiety at the thought of my kids throwing french fries. It does mean I get to eat my meal when we go to a restaurant as a family. (Or at least most of it.) And it even means I was brave enough to take my kids to a sushi restaurant—and that my picky eaters actually tried sashimi! (The tempura helped.)

It’s not magic, and it’s not rocket science. Here’s how to keep kids busy at a restaurant. Read more

7 ways to raise a conservationist: Kids + the environment

There has never been a more important time to raise a conservationist. Every day headlines bring more bad news about droughts, climate change, melting polar ice, threatened species and deforestation. I couldn’t blame you for being depressed.

Yet there is room for hope, and perhaps the best way to ensure a better world for our children is to raise a conservationist right in your own home.

It's more important than ever to raise a conservationist. Families and children can do good and protect the environment, too. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

After all, kids are more likely to teach each other lessons that will stick. (Have you ever heard a kid tell a peer to recycle something or turn out the lights? They’re way more likely to listen than to another parent’s lecture!)

Kids also encourage their families to make positive changes for the environment. I remember becoming a vegetarian in high school, largely because of environmental reasons, and sharing what I learned with my parents. I definitely didn’t convert anyone (nor was I trying to), but my parents started to serve more plant-based foods that had a smaller environmental impact.

Perhaps the most impactful (and easiest) way to raise a conservationist is to simply get outside: A study from Cornell University found that the more time a child under the age of 11 spent outdoors, the more likely he or she was to care about the environment as an adult. The impacts of Vitamin N, as outdoor time is sometimes called, translate into action, too: Adults who spent time outside when they were growing up were more likely to take action to protect the environment.

You don’t have to stop there, though. These 7 ways to raise a conservationist won’t take a ton of effort but can mean a world of difference for the planet.

It's more important than ever to raise a conservationist. Families and children can do good and protect the environment, too. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Camping crafts: Kids let their creativity go wild!

Back before we had kids, Eric and I camped regularly—and spontaneously. We’d throw the tent, sleeping bags and a cooler in our 1985 Volvo station wagon and head into the woods. These days, camping with kids requires a bit more preparation—including figuring out some kids activities that will keep them happy in the camp site. Since the girls love art so much, it made sense to come up with some camping crafts so they could create in nature.

Camping crafts like this nature collage art project keep kids happy when you're family camping—and require almost no prep or supplies! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

We haven’t gone camping with the kids yet this year, but we camped for Father’s Day last year—and the girls loved doing this camping craft. They did it one morning when they needed a little out-of-the-sun quiet time after hiking, sprinting around the campground, making friends and walking over hot coals. (Just kidding! We’re waiting until they’re at least 6 to walk on the camp fire.)

Camping crafts like this nature collage are a wonderful way to incorporate art into your family camping this summer. Read more

Must-do kids activities in Portland: Oregon bloggers’ recs

Having a bunch of blogger friends is the best. They’re like a combination of the hive mind, Yelp, google and a travel agent, except with really awesome photo skills. When I need recommendations on where to eat or what to do in Portland, Oregon, I ask my Portland bloggers buds first; ditto where to stay at the coast, or what to cook for an upcoming BBQ. So when I wanted to collect a bunch of must-do family and kids activities in Portland, I knew who to ask.

I posed this question in a handful of Portland bloggers groups I belong to:

When friends and their family visit Portland from out of town, where do you send them?

Lucky for me (and you!) they sent a bunch of responses. Read on for insider tips, recommendations and curated travel plans for the best Portland family-friendly spots and kids activities!

Blogger recommendations for the best restaurants + kid activities in Portland, Oregon! family-friendly travel // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

7 ways to help on this World Refugee Day

You can make a difference. Here's how to help refugees. // volunteer // charity // give back // Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Six years ago, Syrian teen Nabil fled Syria with his family. They stayed for four years in a small apartment in Jordan, all the while doing everything they could to find a permanent, stable, safe home. Now Nabil and his family have settled in Seattle, where he plays forward on his soccer team, volunteers with a Muslim organization to reach out to local homeless people and welcomes other Syrian refugees as they arrive and begin to rebuild their lives.

This World Refugee Day, which is marked across the globe on June 20, nonprofits, governmental organizations and regular citizens like you and me can recognize the immense resilience of refugees like Nabil. I got to interview Nabil for my work with Microsoft Philanthropies, which is sharing stories of refugee youth to direct donations to its nonprofit partners such as the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, the UNHCR and more. And stories like Nabil’s, and the tens of thousands of others like him, inspire us to want to know how to help refugees.

 

7 ways to help refugees for World Refugee Day - and every day. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Meals for new moms: Bring just what they need (& want!)

Everything you need to make delicious meals for new moms - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

When each of my girls was born, the steady delivery of meals was an enormous help. I couldn’t figure out how to breastfeed, much less feed myself, so the food friends brought nourished me in a way I deeply needed. In addition, their visits proved to be a much-appreciated and reliable contact with the regular adult world whose primary concern was not how many wet diapers the baby has had today. So if you’re considering making meals for new moms, I say to you: DO IT.

Since my big girls are no longer babies, I’ve had the opportunity to pay everyone’s kindness forward. I’ve brought quite a few meals for new moms and their families, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about what to do—and what not to do—when delivering meals to new moms.

So if you’ve signed up for a meal train, YOU ARE AWESOME. Know that by making a meal (or bringing takeout—that’s totally not cheating!), you are showing this new mama that she is loved, supported, cared for—and that her village will help lift her up as she undertakes the most monumental change of her life.

She is a new mom, and you are helping her become the best mother she can be.

(And that’s a big deal.)

If you’re not quite sure what to bring or what to do, though, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to making meals for new moms, I share these 12 tips to help you make life easier for the family more focused on umbilical cord scabs than dinnertime.  Read more