The best parks in West Linn, Oregon

Some people ask, why move to West Linn? Here’s one reason why: When we were getting ready to move two years ago, we were looking for a welcoming neighborhood in a family-friendly city. So when we began exploring West Linn, Oregon, we knew we found home. It has an incredible school district, access to the outdoors, a small-town feel outside Portland—and a wealth of parks. We love to spend time outdoors as a family, and as soon as we bought a home and moved, we began exploring the best parks in West Linn.

There are so many great outdoor spots to play, we could hardly choose a favorite. It’s just as well, because mixing it up keeps my kids happy! When I get the girls packed up and tell them we’re going to the playground, they ask, “Which park, Mama?” Will it be the one with the dinosaur skeleton? Or the one with the giant rocks you can climb in the splash pad? Or the one with the two-story high slide built into the hill?

So many choices!!!

The best parks in West Linn, Oregon, outside Portland // family travel // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

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

The 10 best handprint crafts for kids: Friday fun day

I am a huge sucker for handprint crafts for kids, but even I think some of the ideas circulating on Pinterest are, well, a bit of a stretch. Hey, it’s a handprint, but it’s also a walrus! Or a leprechaun! Or a tank!

So when I went looking for arts and crafts ideas to memorialize my kids’ hands, it took a lot of scrolling to find ones I actually want to do. I have saved you some of the searching and picked out 10 handprint crafts for kids that are adorable.

You’ll want to keep ’em forever, if only to remind yourself that yes, once your kid’s hand was that tiny.

The 10 best handprint crafts for kids and families - 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

Peeper is 4: Fourth birthday reflections

A few days ago, both the girls woke up at 4am. Eric tried to get them back to sleep, but Peeper was having none of it. “Yesterday Mama told me I have three days until my birthday. But now I have only TWO days until I’m 4!” This girl is just a little excited for her fourth birthday.

We’ve been talking about her birthday for a while now, but only recently has it seemed concrete to her. After all, concepts of months and weeks are a little abstract for a preschooler. So the week leading up to her fourth birthday, we talked about how many days were left until she turned 4.

And now that day has come. Happy birthday, my sweet, fierce, loving, compassionate, hilarious, sassy daughter!

Happy 4th birthday to my daughter, the silliest preschooler I know. Ten THousand Hour MamaHappy 4th birthday to my preschooler! 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