7 must-dos for a kid-free business trip

7 must-dos for a kid-free business trip
Original photo by Jeremy Sternberg, creative commons

You’re on a kid-free business trip, so you’re probably feeling equal parts guilty and giddy. Chances are, you haven’t been away from home and kids in so long that the prospect of dealing with traffic and the TSA, crossing time zones, working long hours and eating what passes for a continental breakfast sounds positively like a vacation.

It’s also likely that you might not know what to do with yourself. I’ve been there, though, so I’ve done you the solid of making a little list of all the things you must do on your next kid-free business trip.

While you’re gone, drop me a line and tell me all about your kid-free extravagances like eating in a restaurant with no play place and sleeping on an un-jumped-on bed. Read more

What my love is worth

preschooler love bed snugglesThe other morning I was sitting on the floor, playing with Kiwi. I snuggled in close to her, ruffling her downy hair with my nose.

“I love you,” I whispered.

Then I looked up at Peeper, who was drinking milk at the table.

“Psst,” I started. She looked at me. “I love you.”

Peeper set her glass down.

Now can I have a popsicle?”

And that’s how I know the value of my love: It is preschooler leverage to get dessert.

Get your picky eater to try kale

In certain circles (*cough, cough* Portlandia), kale is shorthand for all things healthy. Want to make a smoothie? Kale’s in, spinach is out. Whipping up a frittata? Make sure those eggs come from organic-free-range-vegetarian-fed-deliriously-happy hens, and throw in some kale, too, obvi. Making a salad? Forget the romaine; you need to massage some kale instead.

But if your kid is anything like my picky preschooler, kale is not on the menu.

Until now.

(Sort of.)

picky eater kaleHow my kid started to eat kale

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*Forehead slap*

Amidst a sea of toys, books and stray socks covering the carpet, Peeper worked on a puzzle. She concentrated as she arranged several robots, fitting their wooden heads, bodies and feet together.

Then she moved on to a number puzzle.

As she was putting the numbers in their places, she paused. She moved one piece over to the robots.

“Look, now it’s a forehead!” she shouted.

And just like that, my preschooler is a punster.


Pregnant at the beach 2

Burned belly button - Ten Thousand Hour MamaI just wrote about how I prefer to wear a bikini even though I’m pregnant. I think my growing belly is beautiful, and I don’t mind letting other beachgoers see.

Another pro to wearing a swimsuit while pregnant: You can eat a giant burrito and not worry about slipping into a tiny suit. You can be all, “Hey, that’s totally my baby bump!” and it’s true.

But as I’ve discovered, bikinis while pregnant are not all fun and games. The inside of my poor belly button, which has pretty much never seen the light of day, is a bit sunburned.

So along with putting vinegar on the tops of my feet (gah! I always miss that spot!), I’m using the sunburn-soothing home remedy on my belly button, too. Now I smell like Easter eggs from belly to toes.

How to take your toddler for a hike

As all parents know, doing anything with a child automatically bumps it up into a new category of difficulty.

Ran out of milk and bread? Good luck buying groceries when all your toddler wants to do is push your cart into other shoppers.

Packing for a trip? Oh, how nice, but your little one is tossing every item of clothing out of the suitcase. You didn’t really need to bring underwear, anyway.

Taking the dog out for a walk? Luckily, I just wrote a column for Metro Parent, Portland’s parenting magazine, with explicit instructions on just how to take your toddler and pooch on a hike. Zip over here to read the step-by-step instructions or pick up a free copy around town. Be sure to comment with your own suggestions on how to take a munchkin out for a walk. I could use the advice!

Peeper refusing to move an inch on the trail.
Peeper refusing to move an inch on the trail.

4 ways to smile through your toddler’s cold

It seems as if Peeper *just* got over a cold, but here she is, snotty and congested and sneezy all over again.

Being sick is rotten, and I wish I could take away my munchkin’s discomfort. Since I can’t, though, I’m looking on the bright side. Here are my top four reasons to smile in spite of—or because of—Peeper’s cold.

1. Happy! She’s no Pharrell, but much of the time she apparently feels like a room without a roof, if you know what I mean. Sure, she gets cranky and clingy, but for the most part she’s like this, drippy nose or not:

Happy! from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.

2. Story time. Peeper always loves a good book, but when she’s sick, we spend long stretches cuddling and reading. These days her favorite books are ones that have pictures of everyday objects. I name everything for her—over and over and over and over—and her pointer finger gets a real workout.

Reading and dog cuddles - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Finn, not to be left out, joins us, too. And this week we were in luck: My aunt sent a package of books my cousins (the oldest of whom is now in college—what?!) used to read. Thanks, Aunt Anne: You’ve doomed me to page through My First Word Book a million times a day for the rest of time.

3. Laughter. When you don’t know how to blow your nose and adults are constantly swiping at the snot collecting on your face, a sense of humor definitely helps you get through the day.

Sick toddler - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

We do just about everything we can to laugh, including wearing pants-hats.

4. The outdoors. Eric’s dad abides by the philosophy that few things can’t be improved by getting outside and blowing the stink off ya, and I couldn’t agree more. Fresh air and a little exercise may not typically be prescribed for a cold, but we think it’s a pretty good Rx.

Sick toddler - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

When you look on the bright side of being sick, what do you see?