Nap hikes: The gift of silence

When Baby wouldn't sleep, I set off into the woods—and she fell asleep! Nap hikes are a blessing for both of us. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

We recently went camping for the first time as a family of four. It was Kiwi’s first time sleeping in a tent. And as I feared, my notoriously terrible sleeper slept pretty much not at all.

We stayed at Stub Stewart State Park just one night—a compromise to our usually longer trips since we figured sleep would be such a nightmare—and it’s a good thing, since I sat upright in our Forester with Kiwi alternately breastfeeding and dozing on me the entire night. I didn’t even attempt to get her to nap in the tent because I was tired, not insane.

So for each of her naps, I buckled her into my baby carrier and set off on a hike.

But even in my bleary, exhausted state, I treasured those nap hikes. Read more

Family camping at Stub Stewart State Park

Family camping at Stub Stewart State Park, less than an hour outside Portland, Oregon, is great for families new to pitching a tent with kids. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than a family camping trip? That was my thought when I booked a campsite at Stub Stewart Park, an Oregon state park less than 45 minutes west of Portland.

As soon as I committed us, though, I had flashbacks to the last time we went camping. (I wrote about my sleepless nights in the tent for PDX Parents’ Happy Campers, a guide to family camping in the Northwest.)

This trip—made slightly more complicated by the addition of a second kid who, btw, wakes every few hours even in the controlled, sound-machined environment of home—didn’t disappoint in the Lack of Sleep Department. But the memories we made camping as a family of four at Stub Stewart more than made up for the dark circles under my eyes.

family camping at Stub Stewart State Park setting up tent

If you’re looking for kid-friendly camping spots near Portland, here’s the lowdown on family camping at Stub Stewart State Park.  Read more

Happy campers

Happy campers family camping toddler tentS’mores, winding down around the camp fire and more stars in the sky I’d ever seen: Camping while I was a kid became one of my favorite family activities.

With the Memorial Day weekend just hours away, I’ve been thinking about those experiences in the great outdoors and planning a few for our family this summer. With Kiwi due in July, we’ll likely be keeping our ambitions modest, but still—our tent and hobo pie makers are calling me.

I wrote a guide to family camping in this month’s Metro Parent (see it here in a link or PDF!) with suggestions of the Northwest’s best yurts, car camping sites and backpacking trips. I also gathered great advice from family camping experts on how to make outdoorsy trips fun for the whole crew.

My favorite tip, from Bonnie Henderson, author of Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon:

“Hiking with kids is all about having them have an experience outside, so it’s not about how far you go or the destination. When you go with the kid agenda, it’s about just being outside and having fun.”

I wanted to soak up all the advice, considering our own first family camping trip had its share of ups and downs.

In preparation for this year’s camping season, do you have any tips for family camping? Please share!

From near and far: Summer family visitors

Summer in Oregon is pretty much the best time/place combo I can think of. With the state’s beautiful weather, easy access to swimming holes and unbeatable hot-weather harvests, it’s no wonder we get a ton of visitors this time of year.

It’s just mid-August and a slew of family members from afar have made the summer even more wonderfully full.

Grandparents - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Portland Zoo - Ten Thousand Hour MamaGrandparents - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Eric’s parents drove their mini-RV out from Michigan. They hadn’t seen Peeper since January, so she was quite a bit different! They witnessed her first solid food then; this go around, they joined us for her first camping trip. We also visited the zoo, though Peeper was more interested in playing with leaves and bark chips than watching the animals. And we captured a rare moment: Peeper with all four of her grandparents.

Bill Ryan - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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My brother, aka Uncle Fuzzy, jetted out to surprise a friend for a camping bachelor party. Thankfully he had a few days to hang with Peeper, too. We went berry picking and played at the park, but the highlights were tickle fights and roughhousing at home. Even better: Uncle Fuzzy will be out later this summer, too!

Welches, OR Old Salmon River Trail - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Ten Thousand Hour Mama

My sister from another mister Monica and her son T joined us for Peeper’s birthday celebration in Welches. We discovered an island along the Old Salmon River Trail and plotted a camping trip at the secret spot. T pretended to fish in the creek, and Peeper pointed at the water a whole lot.

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My younger sister and her husband moved from Berkeley to Seattle this summer. Now that they live much closer, that means more games of chase and high fives lessons for Peeper.

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We also visited Mr. T for his big 4th birthday party. He loved his superhero costume (which I ordered from the Etsy shop Fun Kidz Stuff) and his alien-themed party in the park. I enjoy eating blue-frosted cupcakes and wearing bobble alien headbands as much as the next guy. But most of all I loved being with those I care about.

Have you had family visitors this summer? What parts of your town or state do you show off?