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.

Read more

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

20 months

Peeper’s jump from 19 to 20 months hit me hard.

I was in my hotel room while on a business trip when my mom emailed me a video of Peeper. Whereas Austin was foggy, rainy and cold, Portland had the kind of weather that just begged to be enjoyed outside. So Nana and Peeper had spent most of the day at the park near our house.

I clicked the video and watched as Peeper climbed a set of stairs, sat down at the top of the slide and zoomed down—all. by. herself. She looked so grown-up navigating the playground that the realization hit me like a two-ton steer: Peeper is big.

Toddler backpack - Ten Thousand Hour MamaMaybe it took a little distance to gain the perspective that she has become such an independent toddler. Now, if you don’t have kids, the feat of sliding solo might not seem so impressive. But it wasn’t that long ago that Peeper was unsteady on her feet; a short time before that, I celebrated when she could sit up by herself. I can still feel that warm, floppy newborn weight in my arms from even before that.

What a contrast to today.

This 20-month-old Peeper doesn’t often let me forget that she’s leaving babyhood far in the dust. She runs down hills and climbs over big rocks, flashing me a triumphant smile when she gets to the top.

cannon beach - Ten Thousand Hour MamaReading Busy Town - Ten Thousand Hour MamaPlaying with bubbles - Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe works to get what she wants, too. When, for example, she asks for a song at dinner, I explain that I can’t exactly sing with my mouth full and that “Old MacDonald” will have to wait. “Sing a song,” she repeats. Then, “Mama sing a song. How about Dada sing a song? Sing a song right now. Sing a song meantime? How about sing a song!” She’s as focused as a border collie with a tennis ball.

She’s not all single-minded independence, though—at least not yet. She still snuggles on my lap and wants to be held. Even if her requests of “Up, Mama!” are exasperating while I’m trying to cobble together dinner, I’m grateful that she still craves closeness.

This is the back-and-forth she and I will navigate. One minute, she’ll be tromping around the playground without my help. Then the next minute, she’ll whoosh down the slide—into my arms. Oceanside Toddler - Ten Thousand Hour MamaToddler Sandy River Delta - Ten Thousand Hour Mama