This land is our land: Lessons from a town hall meeting and folk song

As the high school gym filled with people, the room got noisier and noisier: people chatting, the squeak of metal as folks shifted in folding chairs, iPhone alerts, a kid laughing as she climbed the bleachers. Then another sound rose above the rest: People singing. From all over the gym, others joined in. Within moments, the nearly 2,000 people who had gathered for this town hall meeting were singing “This Land is Your Land.”

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

I have no idea who started singing—it wasn’t a staffer from Senator Ron Wyden‘s office, I’m pretty sure. Rather, the inspiration seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. I hadn’t thought of this song since I was a kid, and I’m actually surprised I remembered the words.

But maybe I remember them because deep down, this song represents something fundamental about America. The country is made up of diversity—both in its land and geography as well as its people. And as this Woody Guthrie classic makes clear, America includes us all.

Activism // town hall meeting // make a difference // Ten Thousand Hour Mama 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

St. Patrick’s Day preschool activities: Rainbow curriculum

True story: Along with Radiohead’s Creep and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Around the World, Kermit’s Rainbow Connection is one of my go-to karaoke jams.

So naturally, when it was my turn to host our co-op homeschool preschool this week, I wanted our St. Patrick’s Day lesson to include lots of activities with rainbows!

If you’re looking to infuse your fun with some St. Patrick’s Day luck, or get all rainbow-y on a regular day, here are some activities from me as well as links to additional ideas. Happy St. Patty’s Day! Read more

Kiwi is 7 months: Sisterhood

Baby fox toy Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now,
I know you’ll like it if you give it a chance now,
Come on baby, do the Locomotion!

The last month Kiwi has been all about moving around!

She’s not crawling, although she’s made it to all fours and is occasionally rocking, the first steps toward that milestone. But she intentionally rolls toward a destination where she’s set her sights—a beach ball, her toy piano, and especially Finn.

Baby fox toy Ten Thousand Hour MamaBaby and dog Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe also moves by whale tale splash, a special move she’s waiting to patent. While on her back, she lifts her entire body up to her shoulders and slams it back down on the ground. She swivels around like this and, by all measures, looks very proud of herself.

Sisters forever

Kiwi has also started the Peeper Fan Club. She is, of course, President. The two of them have also started a band. Kiwi does solo side projects, too.

Kiwi Rock from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.

Sisters band Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters band guitar Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe’s pretty much obsessed with Big Sister. Peeper can do no wrong. Even when she is hitting Kiwi in the face with a pom pom or grabbing toys away, Kiwi stares and giggles.

Sisters Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Oh so tired

Over the last few weeks, everyone in the house has been passing a cold back and forth. Kiwi has been sniffling for what seems like forever. During the day she’s still her usual cheerful self, but the nights have been brutal.

Every night is worse than the last. My euphoria over her successful sleep training has been replaced by despair as I feed her to sleep every two hours. And the last few nights, she has been awake in the deep, dark hours when everyone else is snuggled safely in their dreams.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart; parenting two is even harder. But when I’m living in a sleep-deprived fog no quantity of caffeine can touch, beautiful rays of light break through: the love these girls share.

Shine on, sisters.

Sisters Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Weekly smile: Rock of ages

Driving home from preschool earlier this week, we got stuck in horrible traffic. A semi and car had crashed ahead of us, and we had no opportunity to exit before becoming mired in the standstill. As my car crept along, idling more often than moving, my impatience grew.

Then Peeper started singing from the backseat.

“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,” she began. She paused then added, “Sing it with me now, Mom!”

We spent the rest of the trip home singing Raffi and Christmas songs at the top of our lungs.

A music-loving family

Music has been central to many smiles in the last week. I brought out a tiny toy piano, which has fast become Kiwi’s favorite toy. She’s clearly a virtuoso, as this video shows.

Tummy time jams from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.

Another night, Peeper exclaimed, “Let’s start a band!” The whole family got in on the action—banging drums, strumming a ukulele, tapping piano keys and jingling bells.

If only we’d remembered to break out the mini accordion Nana got Peeper for Christmas!

We’ll announce our tour dates soon. Until then, we’ll keep jamming.

Rock of ages

Trent’s World hosts a Weekly Smile link-up, where bloggers post tidbits of happiness. The internet could use a little more positivity, and I’m glad to share what made me smile in the last few days!

For the love of Mexican music

Peeper has found a new passion.

We were out to dinner in Seattle (at Mama’s in Belltown) this week, and Peeper was teetering on the edge of Meltdown Canyon. She had been going to sleep much later and skipping naps altogether in our few days out of town, and I was beginning to think that a sit-down dinner in a restaurant was simply asking too much. But we’d already ordered, so we made a go of it.

That’s when the music started.

Toddler Mexican ballad music
The musicians even let Peeper strum the guitar; this is her clapping and strumming along.

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10 Ways I’m an Awesome Mom

Take a sample of parenting blogs out there and you’ll read a lot of bloopers.

We mothers, especially, are quick to point out our failings and our foibles. Perhaps it’s easier (or more cathartic) to confess the time you melted a Tupperware lid in the dishwasher, causing poisonous fumes to fill the apartment, than it is to reflect on the millions of other times you scrubbed plates clean without incident. After all, washing the dishes without a hitch—or, for that matter, the millions of unremarkable moments of motherhood—aren’t particularly newsy.

But in anticipation of Mother’s Day (coming up this Sunday for anyone who’s forgotten!), I’m stepping out of the self-deprecating, self-questioning rut I sometimes fall into.

I’m celebrating what a wonderful mother I am.

Here, then, are ten aspects of motherhood I totally have down.

mom helping toddler walk Mexico Read more