How public assistance saved my family

With House and Senate Republicans are trying to push through a repeal and replace bill to cut the Affordable Care Act, and with so much shaming going on around people who need any help from the government, I feel compelled to share my own story. You see, before Obamacare went into effect, I was denied insurance at a new job because I had a preexisting condition—I was pregnant. Public assistance saved my family.

Government assistance was the reason why we are not still saddled with thousands of dollars of medical bills. It helped me feed myself and my infant. A series of safety nets caught me and my family. Even with the help of the government, we relied on family members and strangers to stay fed, healthy and warm.

By sharing my story, I knowingly open up my own personal experience to judgment. But I do so because it’s easy to shame a stranger, but a lot harder to assume the worst about someone you know.

How public assistance and health insurance helped us before Obamacare went into effect. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

A mom’s guide to prepare for sleep training

So your baby doesn’t sleep, which means you don’t sleep. Mama, I so have been there. If that’s the case, you may be ready to try sleep training—extinction, Ferber, cry it out, or whatever name you’re using. And if that’s true, you need to prepare for sleep training.

And I’m not talking about prepping your tiny Sleepless in Seattle. I’m talking about preparing you for sleep training.

Because while sleep training is hard on the baby, it’s equally (if not more) difficult for Mom.

I’ve sleep trained both Peeper and Kiwi—and am SO FREAKING GLAD I did. But it’s still hard to worry about your baby and know you could end her tears by sticking a boob in her mouth or bouncing her for 2 hours on a giant yoga ball.

Despite that anxiety many of us moms feel, studies repeatedly show that sleep training is not harmful in the long run. A recent study out of Australia showed that the babies in a Ferber-like sleep training (where they’re allowed to cry for gradually longer periods until they fall asleep on their own) had just as strong bonds with parents and fell asleep on their own faster than their peers in a control group who did not do sleep training. What’s more, they actually had lower evidence of stress in the afternoon than babies who weren’t sleep trained.

Plenty of parents still debate sleep training, and that’s fine. But for someone reading this—likely a parent who is ready to give it a try—having someone try to convince you that sleep training is unsafe is just not helpful.

That’s why I offer these tips to prepare for sleep training. They’ll help you stay strong, get through the few tough days and make it to the other end. When you and Baby are sleeping better, I’ll take a bet that you’ll be glad you tried sleep training, too.

Prepare for sleep training, cry it out or Ferber—by prepping yourself, Mama! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

3 1/2 years old: Halfway between big and small

Over Christmas break, Peeper and her cousin were sitting on stools in the kitchen. “You’re so big already—don’t get any bigger!” her Aunt Meghan teased. Everyone laughed—everyone but Peeper. She burst into tears.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“I don’t want to stay small!” she wailed.

Peeper loves to be a big girl, but she also craves the security of being our baby. This push and pull between big and small colors every day. Just as she’s halfway between 3 and 4, she’s halfway between big and small.

A beautiful flower crown for my preschooler daughter. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler and my husband have a special daddy-daughter bond. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler's curiosity is wonderful to witness. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small at 3 1/2 years old, I love my daughter more each day. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Halfway to big

Peeper is at the stage where she revels in getting bigger. We persuade our picky eater to try vegetables and take a few more bites because, as she believes, vegetables make you grow. She stretches her arms as wide as they’ll go after meals, showing us just how much longer her arms got after a meal of spaghetti or peanut butter banana. And she jumps with all her might—”Look how high I can jump!”—to test just how much she’s grown in the last 15 minutes.

She also enjoys being a big sister. “Kiwi is saying a new word!” she’ll exclaim. “She’s trying to say blueberries. That’s right, b, b, b, blueberries, Kiwi!”

She also loves to teach Kiwi new skills, whether it’s blowing spit bubbles (seriously so gross), spinning, eating cereal (“You go like this”—crunch crunch) or climbing the elliptical machine. Peeper is her little sister’s biggest cheerleader, applauding her every milestone.

Whether they're dressing up or playing gymnastics, my girls are inseparable. Ten Thousand Hour MamaAs a big sister, my daughter takes good care of her little sis. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler is her little sister's biggest fan and cheerleader. Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters in the snow

Halfway to small

Yet being big isn’t always part of Peeper’s plan.

Every so often, she becomes Baby Peeper. She’ll crawl into Kiwi’s crib or lie down on the changing pad. Once she even insisted on wearing a diaper over her undies.

“Gagagaga,” she’ll say, copying baby talk. But then she’ll do a remarkable, spot-on impersonation of her little sister. She’ll point, make Kiwi’s signature “mmmmn” sound and scrunch up her nose in the perfect imitation of her sister’s smile.

Seriously, she could take this act on the road, it’s so good.

And every so often, Peeper will become a baby again, snuggling in my lap in the rocking chair. She’ll tuck her head under my chin and pull her knees up to her chest. While she’s resting on me, I sing her favorite lullabies and marvel that this child, halfway between big and small, ever fit inside of me.

Peeper is all lanky limbs these days. I laugh when she shows us her impressive wingspan (“Look how long my arms are!”) because she takes after her dad, whose arms are so long he needs a specially fitted golf club.

She is changing into a big child. She has lost the baby fat that gave her such beautifully chubby cheeks. She may be halfway between big and small, but she’s hurtling toward big at a pace that takes my breath away.

Halfway between big and small, my preschooler is growing at an astonishing pace. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy little girl is halfway between big and small. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Staying big and small

Unlike her joking Aunt Meghan, I don’t want to keep Peeper small. I love witnessing how she grows, develops and changes every day.

She wakes up each morning a new person. Although some things are consistent—her favorite color remains purple, she still hates washing her hands—the dawn could bring any other new development.

Tomorrow could be the day she finally lands a perfect cartwheel or

While I wake up just as excited as she does to see what the day brings, I cherish the times she turns back into Baby Peeper. Those moments, whether she’s a goof copying her sister’s baby talk or a cuddlebug who finds a cozy spot on my lap, remind me of the days when she was my everything, my all. When I was her world and she was mine. When the universe shrunk to the size of just us—a mother and a baby halfway between big and small.

No matter how big she gets, my daughter will always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaWhether she's big or small, she'll always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small, my preschooler is just where she's meant to be. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

How to fix a clogged duct: 10 breastfeeding tips

If I had a dollar for every time I googled “how to fix a clogged duct,” I’d be able to afford that 2017 Disney World trip Eric apparently promised Peeper last month. (I was all, “You said what?” So now we’re going to Disney.)

You see, I get clogged ducts on the regular. I’ll notice the signs of a clogged duct: a painful spot on one breast, a lump, a red spot, swelling, and oh did I mention the pain? By this point—going on 18 months breastfeeding Kiwi and almost as long with Peeper—I know how to fix a clogged duct. Breastfeeding mom friends of mine sometimes text me and ask for tips to get rid of ’em, so now I’m sharing these 10 techniques with you all.

I’d hope, of course, you don’t actually need these tips to fix a clogged duct. But if you do get one, you’ll want to try whatever works until it’s gone. After all, clogged ducts can turn into mastitis, a really nasty breast infection accompanied by fever, chills and super painful swelling.

So try these 10 tips and with a little luck, your boobs will be back to normal ASAP!

How to fix a clogged duct when you're breastfeeding, even ones that won't go away. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

For one boob nap, a second child becomes an only child

As I tap this one-handed on my phone, I’m nap trapped. My toddler has fallen asleep breastfeeding, leaving me unable to put away all the kids’ new toys, go through unopened mail, unpack our suitcases or do any of the other things on my list. But I am not complaining. Today, I’m happy for this boob nap.

Kiwi rarely falls asleep on me these days. And on the occasions she does, I can’t let her snooze on me. I don’t have that flexibility; I have a preschooler.

But Peeper went down to Eugene with her dad to pick up our dog, so for today I am mom of only one kid. And that “only child” has a doozy of a cold. So it’s really not that shocking she fell asleep at the breast—and why I let her keep sleeping on me, boob nap style.

When my toddler fell asleep in a boob nap, I stayed put. She and I both got exactly what we needed. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Holiday gift guide: Books for babies

Halloween has come and gone, which means Christmas is right around the corner—at least if you’re listening to radio commercials and shopping, um, anywhere. (I swear the Christmas displays were up before I could stalk the aisles for discounted Halloween candy.)

But with all the tasks I’m juggling, I’m a big fan of getting holiday shopping done early. You too? Well, good news: here’s our baby-tested holiday gift guide, books for babies edition.

The 10 best books for babies: This gift guide makes your Christmas shopping list easy for kids in the family! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(This post contains affiliate links, which means clicking and buying gets me a few pennies.) Read more

Chew on this: The 10 best teething products and tips

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Policies and Disclosures page for more info.


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