DIY colorful tomato cages

60-second DIY tomato cages - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper, in all her almost-three-year-old wisdom, has become quite the picky discerning eater. Tool around the internet searching “picky eater” and you’ll find about a billion recommendations to miraculously make your preschooler ask for seconds of that spinach-quinoa-frittata you whipped up. The tip that has made a lot of sense to me, though, is having your kid help grow the food you want her to eat.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a black thumb. I have somehow managed to kill a half-dozen cacti and succulents in the last year, not to mention the less hardy plants that have perished on my watch.

But I refuse to give up—especially if persistence means fewer power struggles around the dinner table. So this spring and summer we are growing some edible plants in planters.

First up on Peeper’s homegrown menu: tomatoes!

 DIY colorful tomato cages

Getting her hands dirty

Peeper was so excited to plant the tomato starter. She’s been checking on it daily as the poor plant languished in its tiny pot for weeks. (See my earlier note about killing plants. Oops!)

We couldn’t find the trowel in the rat’s nest of our garage, so Peeper helped scoop potting soil with a little Mason jar.

DIY colored tomato cages

What kids learn from growing food

I’m most excited about the (theoretical) expansion of Peeper’s menu, but there are other benefits to helping kids grow food.

Planting a seed, tending to it and watching it grow is a tangible lesson in where food comes from. Hands-on gardening teaches kids about the life cycle and the effect of the environment (like what happens to a plant after a rain storm or a scorcher).

Growing food also teaches kids about how a plant grows. Peeper got up close and personal with the tomato plant’s roots as we loosened the packed dirt around the root ball.

Planting tomatoes and DIY tomato cages

Kids also learn ownership and responsibility. Peeper has asked to water the plants we repotted and loves to check their progress. The patience she’ll gain, too, as she waits for a tiny green tomato to turn into a beefsteak is a bonus for any preschooler.

Making a pretty tomato cage

Once we repotted the tomato, we had to stake in the tomato cage. We explained to Peeper that tomato plants grow big and heavy, and the cage helps support it.

When I’d gone to the hardware store to buy the cages, I wanted to get the beautiful, brightly colored ones—but couldn’t justify paying three times more for a pink or green one.  Instead, I bought the regular silver tomato cage—and gave it a 60-second facelift!

Spray painting DIY tomato cages - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

DIY colorful tomato cages

Using stuff you probably already have in your garage, you can make a tomato cage even prettier—in about a minute!

60-second DIY Colorful Tomato Cages


  • a metal tomato cage (mine cost less than $3 at the hardware store)
  • cardboard or newspaper
  • spray paint (I used a can that was lying around from a previous project, so it was free!)


  1. Lay out your cardboard or newspaper on a flat surface. Make sure it’s bigger than the tomato cage so you don’t spray paint the ground.
  2. Set the tomato cage on top in a way it won’t move around.
  3. Following the directions on the spray paint can, spray a layer of color on the tomato cage.
  4. Wait until the layer of paint is dry, then turn the tomato cage over. Spray paint that side.
  5. Wait for the paint to dry fully, then stick the tomato cage in the ground. It’s ready to support those tomatoes in style!

A (very unconventional) baby shower for #2

When my sisters emailed me about the need to start planning a baby shower for Kiwi, I told them no. “People don’t throw a shower for second babies,” I told them.

The idea of registering for things we didn’t need, playing games and opening a mountain of presents in front of guests—read, the usual baby shower—didn’t appeal.

Undeterred, my sisters convinced me by proposing a thoroughly unconventional baby shower (or sprinkle, as some folks call the more minimal baby showers).

Pirate Putt-Putt Baby Shower Black light putt putt baby shower Read more

Happy Easter!

We’re not churchgoing folks in our family, but we spent Easter celebrating in our own way.

Most weekends, Eric and I have to tag team care of Peeper: One of us will take her on an outing while the other gets work done at home. On Sunday, though, we both walked to the nearby park and Peeper played to her heart’s content. Toddler Easter basketLater, I gifted them both their Easter baskets, and the Easter Bunny was practical this year: He filled them with things like socks and a belt—oh, and cheddar bunny-filled plastic eggs for the little one, which was a big hit.

The best part of the holiday was that family and friends visited. Peeper planted some lilies outside with Grandpa Shempy, and Peeper read countless books with her aunt and uncle who visited from Seattle. Toddler planting flowers with grandpa - Ten Thousand Hour mama Reading on your lap - Ten Thousand Hour MamaI guess the holiday made a big impression on our toddler. She was wound up from all the company and festivities so took a long time to settle down for bed. After I set her in the crib, we overheard her saying something through the monitor.

I turned up the receiver’s volume and we listened intently.

“Happppppy Easter! Happppppy Easter!” she was repeating to herself.

However you celebrated—if you celebrated—I hope you and yours had a wonderful Easter! Happy Easter! Ten Thousand Hour Mama