Do you want to build a snowman? Marshmallow snowman topper

If you live around Portland like we do, chances are you just got dumped on. I woke up this morning to about 7 inches of thick, packable snow—the kind that makes an awesome snowball and doubles over tree branches. So naturally, we pulled an Anna and asked, Do you want to build a snowman? I answered YES! and made both the regular kind out of snow and a marshmallow snowman topper.

When it snows (or you just want an edible craft), this marshmallow snowman topper is perfect to set on a cupcake! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

How to raise strong women: Guest post

“I challenge assumptions about women. I do make some people uncomfortable, which I’m well aware of, but that’s just part of coming to grips with what I believe is still one of the most important pieces of unfinished business in human history—empowering women to be able to stand up for themselves.”

-Hillary Clinton

How to raise strong women and independent girls with confidence. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

A few months ago, a woman lost the presidential election. We all know who this woman is and we’re all well aware of what a grand disappointment and sorrow her losing has brought upon millions of Americans, both locals and expats. This is yet another reason why we need to raise strong women.

We’ve all trusted a change was about to happen; we thought for a second our daughters will have someone other than us, their mothers, to learn from. We hoped a woman was going to be heard.

Winning the election would have been more than just a democracy refreshed; it would’ve been a beacon of hope for all the young women out there, all the brilliant, ambitious, yet to be accomplished young girls who are at the beginning (or at the peak) of their professional lives. This was supposed to be a change, a milestone so grand that everything would’ve gotten a different flavor.

In her emotional post-election speech, Hillary spoke about many things, addressing one aspect in particular: “…and to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Thank you.

With a bitter taste in our mouths but refusing to surrender, we will raise strong women. With us as their teachers, our daughters will learn (and understand) the following: Read more

My end of 2016 Gratitude List

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a gratitude list of 50 things I’m grateful for. I remembered that post recently when I thought ahead to the New Year. I feel a lot of fear when I think about what is to come next year and beyond, but fear doesn’t do a lot of good unless it motivates some sort of positive action. I have been working to incorporate doing good every day (more on that later), but positive action can also include acknowledging all the things that are right with the world. After all, a perfect antidote to anxiety and uncertainty is reflecting on the many reasons to be thankful.

If you’re like me and you’re feeling anxious—whether that’s from the incoming president or post-Christmas bills—I invite you to make a gratitude list, too. It may just help you feel better about the end of 2016 and look forward to the New Year.

This New Year, instead of making resolutions, I'm writing a gratitude list. What are YOU thankful for? Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Why I give: Helping children and reuniting families in Syria

Our Thanksgiving was a little bit crazy, a little bit mellow, and a little bit oh my gosh I can’t believe I ate pie at three meals today. The entire Ryan clan convened at my parents’ house, so we did a lot of game playing, taking walks in the rain (so Oregon!), eating (obvi) and snuggling.

All that together time made me a whole lot of grateful. And as I gave my girls extra hugs, played with my baby niece, had actual face-to-face conversations with family members who live across the country and took ridiculous photos to commemorate our time together, I gave thanks for our good fortune to spend time together.

I’m still riding the high of our rare days all together, especially since the last time we all gathered was at my brother’s wedding three years ago. I’m also remembering that many families—way too many—don’t have the privilege of coming together at home. So today, on Giving Tuesday, this is why I give to a cause close to my heart: to support families who have left their homes to escape danger, poverty or war.

On Giving Tuesday, this is why I give: to support kids and families who want to build a better future. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(See my post from yesterday on more about Giving Tuesday and donating on any budget.)  Read more

Stretch your holiday charitable giving: Donate on any budget

My family isn’t unlike yours, I bet: Our budget is always tight, especially during the holidays, when we face extra expenses like Christmas presents, travel and OH MY GOSH CANDY CANE JOE-JOES. (Don’t deny it; you stock up, too.) But that doesn’t mean we scrimp on our holiday charitable giving.

Generosity and a commitment to helping others are central family values in this house. For us, that means giving to nonprofits throughout the year, but we always increase our donations during the holidays. (The giving spirit is in the air—or wait, maybe that’s pumpkin spice and evergreen scent!)

When it comes to our holiday charitable giving this year, I want to get the most bang for my buck. I’m betting you do, too. So no matter if your budget is super tight or as expansive as Bill and Melinda Gates’, here’s how to make the biggest change with your money.

This Christmas, make sure every dollar makes the biggest impact with your holiday charitable giving. 10 tips to make generosity and charity possible for any budget. Read more

Keep your kids busy on the plane: DIY travel activity kits

The last time I flew with the girls, I was by myself. So I schlepped two kids, a couple of carry-ons, Peeper’s lovey and a whole bunch of anxiety onto a plane. I was, understandably, worried about flying with kids solo.

How do you keep your kids busy on the plane—especially when you only have two hands? I wondered.

With luck, and the kindness of a few understanding strangers, we survived that flight. I learned a few lessons, though, that I want to share here: tips on building travel activity kits we’ll be using when we’re doing road trips and flying with kids over the holidays. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the busiest travel days of the year staring us down, we could all use some ideas to travel as a family.

Looking for ways to keep your kids busy on the plane, too? Want to limit their screen time? Want to survive the flight without the rest of the passengers threatening to throw your family out an air lock?

Learn from my experience—and be prepared. You’ll stress less at 30,000 feet in the air when your kids are happy with these travel activity kits!

Traveling on the busiest travel day of the year? Keep your kids busy on the plane—or on a road trip—with DIY travel activity kits. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Fill a stocking for the homeless: Kids doing good

“Everyone has a home, right, Mom?” Peeper asked me the other day.

“No, sweetie. Some people don’t have homes.”

Peeper’s question opened the door to talk about homelessness—and what, exactly, it means. Even better, it inspired us to do something.

Her question prompted us to fill a stocking for the homeless with the most in-demand items that help people without reliable housing. We’ll give the stocking, which was sewn by volunteers at the local nonprofit Fill a Stocking, Fill a Heart, to a business collecting them for people who don’t have enough. When reading about Fill a Stocking, I learned that the stockings go to lots of people, including homebound seniors and kids in foster homes. I also learned that many of the people who receive the stockings won’t get any other present this holiday.

For at least one person, my kids and I will give back this Christmas.

This holiday, it's easy to do good and give back—with your kids. Fill a stocking for the homeless with the most-needed items, like a blessing bag. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more