Best kids’ books about fall leaves: What we’re reading

Autumn is my favorite season. As much as I love summer, by the end of August I eagerly await fall’s crisp evenings, the trips to the pumpkin patch, the excuse to cuddle under a quilt and drink tea, and the changing leaves. Oh, how I love fall leaves! Good thing for me, Peeper and Kiwi share my love of autumn, so it’s no surprise we’ve collected a list of our favorite books about fall leaves and autumn.

We love autumn—and children's books about fall leaves. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

After all, autumn is the perfect time to crack open a book after running around outside.

Jump in puddles, get muddy at the farm, collect fallen leaves, collect a pocketful of acorns—then head inside to read a stack of children’s books about fall leaves. Need some ideas? Check out this list then request a few—or them all!—from your local library. These make for a great unit for homeschool, if that’s your thing, or just a lovely read-aloud to learn about autumn.

The best children's books about fall and autumn - perfect for homeschool lessons. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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The best children’s books about grandparents

September 10 was Grandparents Day—a holiday that should come more than once a year, I say, especially because of how phenomenal my kids’ grandparents are. Although Grandparents Day has passed, we continue to love reading these children’s books about grandparents—and I have a feeling your kids’ grandma and grandpa would love them, too!

The 15 best children's books about grandparents will make your kids smile—and are a great gift idea for Grandma or Grandpa. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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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

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

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

Dorris Ranch: Eugene, Oregon family friendly hikes

We travel to Eugene as a family every few months—my parents live there, so we drive the two hours from Portland often to visit the grandparents. When we brainstorm family friendly activities in Eugene, Oregon, we always come back to hiking Dorris Ranch, a great hike for kids and families.

Dorris Ranch is a 250-acre park in Eugene, Oregon, that is an operating hazelnut orchard. You can stick to the path, wander among the rows of hazelnut trees, eat a picnic along the Willamette River or hop on the multi-use Middle Fork Path, which runs to Clearwater Park and connects to the 8-mile-loop Mill Race Path.

The scenery is gorgeous any time of year, and this Eugene kid-friendly hike is easy for babies in strollers, toddlers and big kids ready to race ahead.

Eugene, Oregon kid and family friendly hikes: Hazelnut orchards of Dorris Ranch. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

My linea nigra is gone: The changing marks of motherhood

Just like I realized one day that I no longer have a baby—holy shit, she is a toddler—I recently realized my linea nigra is gone.

That dark line that snaked from my belly button on down disappeared in an equal but opposite proportion to the growth of my baby. In almost imperceptible ways, Kiwi got bigger day by day. She rolled over. She sat up. She crawled. And now, somehow, she grins and peeks around the kitchen island at me, itching for me to chase her down the hall.

Likewise, my linea nigra faded bit by bit, and I didn’t notice until it was gone. I was busy with other things, I guess—things like, you know, doing my damnedest to keep my new family of four alive. More recently, being a mother of two has felt easier, or at least less heartbreakingly hard. So it makes sense that I only now registered its absence.

Pregnancy // Motherhood // My linea nigra is gone // Pregnant belly // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more