Trick or treat sign: Free Halloween printable

This is my first year as a mother when I’ve actually felt on top of Halloween. And that’s 100% because I decided to not go all DIY.

I’m so glad I’m half-assing Halloween.

When Peeper said she wanted to wear a Cinderella costume, my inner feminist cringed—but then I hopped on Amazon and ordered her a damn Disney dress.

Kiwi is still too little to have much of a preference or even know there’s a holiday coming up. So I figured that hey, she has fleece giraffe-print pajamas, so why doesn’t she dress as a giraffe? #twoforonepajamas

Now I have to get out and show off these top-tier costumes. And if you’re like us, you won’t be spending all of Halloween at home, either, waiting to give out tiny chocolates to almost equally tiny Elsas and Pikachus. We’ll be taking the girls out to get their own candy (which we’ll quickly appropriate, obvi). So I wanted to set out a trick or treat sign welcoming the neighborhood kids to help themselves to the treats I’ll leave on the front porch.

And hey, so can you, because you can download this Halloween trick or treat sign for free!

Download this free trick or treat sign printable to leave with a candy bowl on your porch this Halloween! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Download your free Trick or Treat Sign!

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(Sorry, the free printable does not come with free candy.)

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How to bake with kids

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Warm muffins, melt-in-your-mouth rolls and all the pumpkin spice you could wish for: hello fall! Now that autumn days are cooler and crisper, I’m ready to take my oven out of its summer retirement. It’s no wonder that Peeper has been wanting to help me in the kitchen, too: She asks to help me make muffins at least once a week.

Of course a preschooler’s “help” in anything, especially an activity that involves dumping large quantities of messy flour, requires a certain amount of air quotes. But she loves it—and inviting a child to participate in choosing, preparing and serving food can encourage her to make healthier food choices in the future, according to research. (Um, do chocolate chip cookies count as a healthy food choice?)

Through plenty of experience, I have come across tips on how to bake with kids—without them losing a finger on a hot oven (or you losing your mind).

How to bake with your kids - fall cookies & pumpkin spice muffins, here we come! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 14 months: Copycat kid

Despite the two years that separate them, Kiwi and Peeper sometimes look like twins—well, a long-haired twin and one with barely enough hair to put up in a whale spout. But this past month, Kiwi’s love of doing everything her big sister does means I have two kids who give me twice the trouble and twice the joy. Because Kiwi is a walking, talking, singing copycat kid.

Kiwi the copycat kid does just about everything else we do. She blows her nose when I have a cold. She combs her hair with a sock when Peeper’s getting her pigtails in. She washes Peeper in the bath just like I do.

In one part of the Cinderella CD we listen to every single darn time we get in the car, Peeper sings along to the chorus—“Ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhhh!” Kiwi does the same, though without much of a tune.

Peeper is learning how to turn a cartwheel in gymnastics. She was showing us the other day, and Kiwi tried to mimic her—and actually got pretty close! Kiwi’s cartwheels were more like headstands, but she did accidentally do a somersault, too. Peeper was thrilled: She clapped and exclaimed, “She’s doing it! She’s doing it!”

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, my toddler is really buttering us up! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Kiwi is all eyes—and then she gets it. After watching Peeper or another one of us, she launches into her own version, whether it’s dancing or scrubbing down her high chair.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well, Kiwi is really buttering us up.  Read more

Hello ice cream truck, goodbye summer

“Hey, what’s that noise?” I asked. Peeper looked up, her eyes wide. She turned to look out the window. “Let’s go see!” I said. I figured we had to do this one thing before we said goodbye summer.

As quickly as I could, I got our shoes on, picked up Kiwi and dashed outside. The metallic tinkling tune was fading as its source moved farther away. Undeterred, I hurried us along the quiet street.

Then, to my relief, the cheerful song got louder. And then we saw it: the ice cream truck.

Visiting the ice cream truck and saying goodbye to summer inspires me to take stock of what I learned about my daughters—and myself. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

A few times this summer, the ice cream truck has stopped in our neighborhood. The driver must have known about the groups of kids who rove through our block. They play chase, ride scooters, flirt and let the summer afternoons drift by as if time did not exist.

Yet I hadn’t taken my girls out to have their first ice cream truck experience. The truck always seemed to come right before nap time. Or, more honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with the sugar buzz, no matter the time of day.

But summer is coming to a close. Before we said goodbye summer, I wanted the girls to say hello, cream truck! Read more

Kids volunteering at home: Little Loving Hands

I received a free craft kit from Little Loving Hands to try out. As always, all opinions here are my own.


My Peeper, she has one of the kindest, most empathetic hearts I’ve ever known. She brings Kiwi’s favorite toys to her when Little Sister is crying. She covers me in kisses if I stub my toe (including the time a few weeks ago when I’m pretty sure I broke my pinkie toe—ouch!). She gets choked up if a character in a book is sad.

So it’s natural that she wants to help others.

Volunteering with kids at home is as easy as making crafts for homeless children. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Volunteering opportunities for preschoolers and younger kids are slim pickings, though. I keep an eye out for children’s volunteering activities but rarely find a way to bring her along.

So we create our own volunteering opportunities at home. We make cards for Meals on Wheels. We do the monthly activities, like cleaning up the nearby park and making bird feeders, sent to us by Giving Families. And recently, we made a craft for a homeless child living in a shelter with the kit from Little Loving Hands. Read more

Glitter marble painting: Kid crafts

Glitter gets a bad rap: It sticks to everything, makes its way into every crevice in your house and can apparently scratch a kid’s cornea—yada yada yada. But I am a Glitter Cheerleader.

I love the way glitter catches the light. I wear a craft project’s collateral glitter with pride, even days later. (Doesn’t glitter in your hair or on your blazer just say, “I’m a mom of a preschooler and I’m not afraid to flaunt it!”) And I love the way Peeper gets so freaking excited whenever I suggest we do a glitter art project.

The other day, when I suggested we try something new—glitter marble painting—was no exception. Her face lit up like a glittered disco ball.

You've tried marble painting, but what about GLITTER marble painting? Your kids will love this easy process art! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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Mt. Hood family hike: Little Zigzag Falls

One of my favorite things to do as a family is head outside and walk around in the woods. Peeper, who is now 3 years old, loves it too—but she also loves to ride on Dad’s shoulders when she gets tired. (She’d be able to hike a lot farther if she didn’t ping pong back and forth on the trail so much: She’s like an overexcited dog who runs and runs and runs once she’s outdoors!)

The catch: If Eric doesn’t join us on the hike, I can’t carry her because I’m wearing Little Sister.

On a recent late-summer morning, though, we found a perfect compromise with a Mt. Hood family hike, without Dad. The girls’ grandparents and I took the kids to hike Little Zigzag Falls, just outside Government Camp, Oregon. It was the perfect short hike for kids.

Oregon's Little Zigzag Falls is short, easy and has a gorgeous waterfall: Perfect for kids and families on Mt. Hood! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Small effort, big payoff

When it comes to hiking with kids, you can’t just walk up a mountain, motivated by the faraway view at the top. No matter what that now-legendary marshmallow experiment says about kids delaying gratification, no small child will hike miles and miles for the promise of a long-off scenic outlook. (Well, at least mine won’t.)

Just a half-mile from the parking area, you'll hike to Little Zigzag falls: a hike perfect for kids & families on Mt Hood! Ten Thousand Hour Mama A half-mile hike to Little Zigzag Falls on Mt Hood is easy for kids and the whole family in Oregon. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The Little Zigzag Falls hike was the opposite of that: The Mt. Hood family hike is short and quickly comes to a beautiful, impressive waterfall.

Kid-friendly hiking trail

Turn left on the trail at the gravel parking lot (which also has a porta potty: another bonus for kids). This begins the hike, which is just a half-mile long each way: a perfect length for little kids and recent walkers.

Even Kiwi, who started walking just a few months ago, hiked much of it!

The trail is level without a ton of roots to trip over. It meanders up within sight of the creek but not so close that kids can easily fall in—an important factor for children who are a little wobbly.

The path also weaves under and around tons of deadfall. Kids will love walking beneath a giant fallen tree and spotting logs in the creek. Ask them why no one has removed the trees “blocking” the creek—you may be surprised what they think! This can be a wonderful opportunity to teach about ecology, how different animals like different habitats, and our hands-off relationship with nature in parks.

Reaching Little Zigzag Falls

At the top of the trail, you’ll reach Little Zigzag Falls, which crashes down just over 40 feet. A rustic wooden bench off the side of the trail is a great place to pause for a snack and rest. Once kids have regained their energy, they can clamber over logs to a mini-beach just below the falls to throw sticks into the creek.

Tip: This spot just below the main viewing area is a perfect vantage point to shoot a photo of the group still in the main clearing. You can capture the entire falls and the whole family!

Looking for a Mt Hood family hike? Little Zigzag Falls is short with a big waterfall payoff. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The falls marks the point where you turn back toward the parking area. Adults and older kids can hike up above the falls on a little off-shoot just down-trail of the bench. Be careful, though: This trail isn’t well maintained and has muddy spots. You can, however, see the falls from up above: pretty cool!

Little Zigzag Falls hike: Details

Directions: To get to the Little Zigzag Falls Trailhead, head east out of Portland and Sandy toward Government Camp on Highway 26. Turn left (north) on Kiwanis Camp Road, just west of Government Camp. You’ll reach the parking area at the trailhead after about 2 miles.

Features: Waterfalls, shade, small canyon, creek, old growth forest

Good for: Families, kids, babies in carriers, rugged strollers

Must-know: A picnic table just off the trail several hundred feet from the trailhead makes a great place for a snack or lunch.

A short hike—and a picnic!—will get you to Mt. Hood, Oregon's Little Zigzag Falls. Gorgeous! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Do you have recommendations for a Mt. Hood family hike? Have you ever been to Zigzag Falls?