If I can wash my kid’s hair, I can do ANYTHING

Oh, the screaming.

I shudder to imagine what the neighbors thought was going on at our house. But it was just bath time.

Over the last six months or so, when it came time to wash my kid’s hair, Peeper would disappear and a panicked, sobbing, shrieking beast took her place.

It was torture, apparently, for her, and it was no fun for us parents, either.

But what I ended up learning helped make all the screaming, the crying and the frustration a little more worth the struggle.

Learning parenting lessons is hard. When I finally was able to wash my kid's hair, it felt like such a win! Ten Thousand Hour Mama 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

Family reunion

I recently took my first trip without Peeper. After 16 months of spending every day together, I headed up to Seattle for a business trip. It was a short jaunt—I was gone only one night—but, as I wrote earlier, I worried how she and I would handle the separation.

It felt good to be busy. Between meetings and visiting my sister and brother-in-law, I didn’t have much time to dwell on how much I missed Peeper. When I had a few minutes of down time, I walked around and stumbled across the adorable Once Upon a Time toy store in Queen Anne and of course bought her a little present.

That night, though, as I sat in the quiet hotel room, loneliness threatened to swallow me. The spacious room with its two queen beds, sitting room and kitchen that seemed so luxurious in the day felt yawning and empty in the dark.

The next morning, we videochatted. Seeing Peeper’s smiles filled up the hollow space inside me. Peeper kept peering over the top of the computer on her end, looking for me.

Ten Thousand Hour MamaAs I drove home later that day, I imagined our ecstatic reunion—like the tearful homecomings you see at the airport or veterans seeing their loved ones after coming back from war. (I know, I have a very healthy imagination.) Impatient, I cursed 5pm traffic and watched the clock, predicting what Peeper would be up to at that moment. Read more

A motherhood mulligan

Eric and I have been disc golfing together since we met. When we first started dating, we’d drive to Dexter State Park and play a round, flirting between throws.

Now that we’ve been married for six years and have a toddler, disc golfing looks a little different: I skip most holes because I’m too busy chasing Peeper and preventing her from eating rocks, sticks and hunks of dirt. But one thing hasn’t changed—I still call “mulligan” when I hit a tree with my drive. I don’t keep score anyway, so what’s the harm in a little do-over?Ten Thousand Hour Mama - Champoeg Disc Golf

Ten Thousand Hour Mama - Champoeg disc golfI was recently interviewed by friend and former colleague Lee Walker Helland about motherhood mulligans—the things we wish we could have done differently. Her story, First-Year Do-Overs, just ran in American Baby. (Take a peek to read my interview and hear what other moms would have changed about getting out of the house, accepting help and sleep training.)

I talked, of course, about breastfeeding. If you want to catch up on our BFing journey, you can read about it here, here and here, or just read a good summary here. Thankfully, our story has a good ending: Peeper is still breastfeeding, and I’m so grateful to have been able to nurse her this long on my terms.

Is there anything you would have done differently in parenthood?

Nine months

Peeper has been in the world almost as long as she was inside me. Today she turns nine months old.

The other morning, Peeper and I were snuggling in bed after we’d woken up. We were playing, and I tickled her belly and armpits. Laughing, she threw herself down. She giggled and buried her face in the pillow as if to hide.

My breath caught. She just seemed so. grown. up.

Ok, so she doesn't always look grown-up.
Ok, so she doesn’t always look grown-up.

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Why (occasionally) leaning back from motherhood helps me be a good mom

It has been 6,240 hours since I became a mother. I’m more than 60 percent of my way to becoming an expert.

I’m only half-serious, of course.

Working hard some of the time allows me to play the rest of the time.
Working hard some of the time allows me to play the rest of the time.

Some experts say that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to reach the top tier in what you’re pursuing—soccer, piano, basket weaving, whatever—research that underlies part of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers (hence the name of my blog). I’m doing my best to become a good mom. I figure that all these hours of breastfeeding, changing diapers, peek-a-boo, bath time and front carrier walks add up and are teaching me not only about my daughter but about what it takes to be a loving, kind, patient, dedicated mother.

A new book by Daniel Goleman, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, asserts that logging a lot of hours doesn’t cut it, though. This article over at Brainpickings summarizes some of Goleman’s points.

He maintains that your attention when you’re practicing is a necessary component to reaching your full potential: You can’t just phone it in if you want to be great.

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A selfie with a purpose

Mid-mornings are precious to me. After the first few hours of the day, when I change, feed, nurse, change again and play with Edie until her first nap, I have a few minutes to myself.

This morning, like usual, I take the chance to drink a cup of decaffeinated tea and tool around on the Internet. I catch up on email, check Facebook and read blogs. Today I came across the newest post from Deb at The Monster in Your Closet. She writes, “I don’t want to be or waste my time striving to be someone else’s image of perfection. I do want my kids to understand the beauty of human bodies–and faces–is not in how they look but what they do.”

Deb posted several selfies of her gorgeous pregnant self and linked to the inspiration for the post over at Square One Notes. Sandra from Square One invited other writers to post a photo of themselves. “I need to know it’s okay to live in a world where we like ourselves,” she says. “I want my daughter to grow up with a sense of self worth and confidence so that others will hold her in the same regard. Help me show her it’s okay to be in our own corner.”

Now this is something I can get behind.

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