Raising two kids: It gets easier

Last weekend was full—in the best way.

On Friday night, a high schooler who lives across the street babysat the girls while Eric and I went to the opera. We dressed up, met up with friends, had a fancy schmancy drink and enjoyed the Portland Opera’s The Magic Flute. We hadn’t been to the opera—something I truly love—since last Valentine’s Day.

Portland Opera The Magic Flute - Ten Thousand Hour MamaOn Saturday we met up with a friend and his kids for a round of disc golf and swimming in the river at Milo McIver Park. Then we went to my brother’s house, where we played corn hole and let Peeper plant cucumber and lettuce seedlings. To round out the day, friends and their baby came to our house for dinner.

Parenting gets easier riverFinally, on Mother’s Day, we drove up Mt. Hood for a hike along the Salmon River.

Parenting gets easier family hikeOn the drive back home, I reflected on the packed and truly fulfilling weekend. It struck me that we never could have pulled off all those activities—some planned, some impromptu—just a few months ago.  Read more

Filling my bucket: A kids-free beach weekend

In the depths of winter, when every day as a mom of two felt too hard to endure, I had this kids-free fantasy: I’d check into a hotel, I’d lie down in the king size bed, and there would be no one there to touch me. I would take a shower and eat a meal someone else cooked. Maybe I’d watch some TV. But mainly I’d be away.

The fantasy always felt cruel because it seemed utterly unattainable. I had a toddler who cried whenever I picked up my baby. I had a baby who was often in pain from reflux, who hardly slept, and who wouldn’t take a bottle. Even though we had the means to pay for a hotel for a night, I couldn’t go.

I felt trapped.

I remembered this fantasy a few weeks ago when—wait for it—I spent an entire kids-free weekend at the beach with friends.

I remembered the pain, the desperation, the dark hopelessness of those teary days. But the memory didn’t sting like a fresh cut; rather, it was an ache of a more distant pain. And the salt water of the Oregon coast helped heal me.Girlfriends kids-free beach weekend minivan Read more

Valentine’s Day: A walk in the park

Valentine's Day balloonsCookie sprinkles, a rented movie and a rainy hike: this is what our Valentine’s Day dreams are made of.

We celebrated Valentine’s Day in a pretty low-key way over here. We baked cookies and brownies (because chocolate). Peeper helped make individual pizzas and even ate hers—bell peppers and all. (Thank you Daniel Tiger episode—”Try new foods ’cause they might taste good!”) Eric and I watched Silver Linings Playbook while snuggling and eating popcorn on the couch. (It was the first time we watched a movie together at home since Kiwi was born. It may have taken us two nights to finish, but we did it!)

We also ignored the forecast of 100% rain and headed to the woods.

Spending a holiday outside

We went to Wilderness Park, our go-to hiking spot. Peeper set off at a sprint, and one boot flew off as she zoomed down a hill. Kiwi kicked and babbled as we meandered through the deep greens of the forest. Raindrops pattered on our jackets, but the weather had scared off just about everyone else: We had the trail to ourselves.

Halfway through the hike, I realized this was exactly how we spent last Valentine’s Day. Only Kiwi is a gurgling, smiling, squirming munchkin on the outside, and Peeper has gotten huge: She no longer needs a hand when climbing over logs, and even Finn can barely keep up with her.

DSC_0372Walking under the Douglas firs, I reflected on how much has changed in a year. We have survived our share of rough transitions—from one to two kids, from the rock n play to the cosleeper, from not sleeping to sleeping sometimes.

We have grown into our family of four. And this Valentine’s Day, we had even more love to go around. IMG_6116

A bug’s life up close

Peek in a creek - Ten Thousand Hour MamaSpring has come early to Portland. All week the sun has been out, sparking thoughts of running through the sprinklers, popsicle-sticky fingers and sipping wine in the afternoon sun.

Yesterday I threw open the windows and door to the deck. Peeper, of course, darted outside to play in the sun. I took advantage of her independence and Kiwi’s nap to do some dishes.

“What kind of bug is this, Mama?” I heard Peeper ask from outside.

I stepped onto the deck. There was Peeper, lying belly-down on the porch, her nose mere inches from a beetle.

“I don’t know, sweetie. What does it look like?”

“Hm. It’s kind of black and kind of white. It’s very interesting,” she said.

Together, we watched the beetle march up the side of the house. Then it must have tripped over an invisible thread of a spider web. Suddenly, a tiny spider—maybe a tenth of the beetle’s size—darted out. The spider crawled over the beetle, leaving iridescent strands over its hoped-for prey.

Peeper and I watched the drama. Would the beetle escape, or would the spider catch a giant lunch?

The beetle ended up breaking the spider’s hold. After another minute, Peeper pushed herself up off the deck and went back to playing basketball in the planters.

I returned to the dishes. But I smiled as I scrubbed oatmeal from a pot. For a few minutes, Peeper had invited me into her world. I watched the age-old struggle of eat or be eaten with the wonder of a child.

As Peeper notices the smallest of details, she inspires me to see our world anew. She pushes me to ask questions and, when I don’t know the answers, to find out—or at least imagine what could be. She makes me want to get down and examine life nose-to-nose.

Up in the air

Flying with kids Alaska AirlinesFlying with kids is probably in the top 10 hardest things you do as parents, somewhere below labor but above having having The Talk about the birds and the bees.

Flying with two kids—and no partner—is worse.

But, as I write in this month’s Metro Parent, taking flight with a toddler and a baby can also be an opportunity to open yourself up to the kindness of strangers.

Take a read here, or pick up a copy of Metro Parent in Portland!

Happy house-iversary

One year ago we moved into our West Linn home, which, thanks to Peeper, we still call New House.

We’ve been here long enough that people have stopped asking us how we like our “new” neighborhood, house and town. But I’m just as grateful today as I was on that first day we moved in.

Toddler trampoline Read more

North Pole, Oregon

In the days leading up to Christmas, Peeper kept sneaking glances out the window. “It’s going to snow soon,” she said.

Yet the rain continued, and snow refused to accumulate.

The lack of powder was even more cruel considering a huge snowstorm stopped her Aunt Amy and Uncle Luke from driving down for the holiday. At least Peeper got to see all the snow on FaceTime when we talked with my sister.

Then finally, finally, over the weekend it snowed!

Snow storm in Portland Read more