5 tips to make bomb twice-baked sweet potatoes

Tips for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Eggs

Twice-baked potatoes were one of my favorite dinners when I was growing up. I’d wait impatiently for them to bake and snag a top—a little piece of potato skin with melted cheese—as soon as they were out of the oven, inevitably burning my mouth. But it was so worth it!

Why I love twice-baked sweet potatoes

When figuring out what meal to bring another new mama friend (something was in the water about 9 months ago—I have so many friends who just had babies!), I thought back to how comforting twice-baked potatoes were and decided to make a batch—but with sweet potatoes. I love their flavor and all the extra vitamins and antioxidants that accompany their orange flesh.

Because I’m so bad at feeding myself, I made extras for my family, of course.

I love twice-baked sweet potatoes because you can throw in whatever you have on hand. I added onion, broccoli, peppers, tofu and cheese—not a bad combo, if you ask me. I considered whipping up a recipe to post here but the beauty of twice-baked sweet potatoes is that you don’t need a recipe. Just bake the potatoes, scoop and mash the insides, saute a combo of veggies-meat-whatever you need to use in the fridge, and bake ’em all again until heated through—usually around 20 minutes. That said, who couldn’t use a few tips to make even better twice-baked sweet potatoes? Read more

Kiwi on the way!

2015 is shaping up to be a big year for us: We bought a house, Eric will finish his first full-time year of teaching and he’ll graduate with his teacher’s certificate and another master’s, and—drum roll—we’re expecting another little bug!

Kiwi, as we’ve taken to calling Baby #2 (Peeper Jr. just didn’t seem right!), is due mid-July—right after (but hopefully not on) Peeper’s second birthday. So far the pregnancy has gone very smoothly, as long as you don’t count feeling horribly ill for three months straight.

Peeper Mama BeachPeople keep asking me if being pregnant is different the second time around. The most striking difference, I’ve found, is that I got bigger way faster—I’m showing about a month sooner than I did with Peeper. I was also a bit sicker in the first trimester and felt more tired, but that could have been because I was busy running after a toddler and so couldn’t rest as much.

Now, at 21 weeks, I’m smack-dab in the middle of the pregnancy—and the second trimester honeymoon period. I find myself thinking, “What the hell were we thinking?” a lot less often these days. Not that we don’t want Kiwi 100%—it’s just that when your first child is a hot mess and you haven’t eaten anything that wasn’t beige in like two months and you are tired enough to lie down on the kitchen floor and never get up, the thought of adding a nurse-all-the-time, sleep-none-of-the-time newborn into the mix sounds like a lot of crazy. Peeper bump hugSo I’m fully enjoying my in-between trimester. I love feeling Kiwi kick and can’t wait for the first time Peeper feels her little sister move. Sometimes Peeper waves hello at my belly, greeting Kiwi. And in the last week, she has taken to lying with her head on my growing bump as I rock her during wind-down time.

Peeper’s still too young to get that she will soon relinquish her only-child status, but I like to think that she and Kiwi are already forging their sister bond. My siblings and I grew up casting each other in elaborate make-believe games, arguing over whose turn it was to bring down the dirty laundry and relying on each other for pretty much everything. I can’t imagine life without them. And I can think of no better gift than to give Peeper a sibling.

This is trippy: Tips for a business trip away from your child

So you're going on a business trip without kids. Here's how to get through the family free travel - and enjoy it! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Even though I see rain and fog out my hotel window right now, everyone assures me that yes, I am in Texas. I left Oregon a few days ago for a business trip without kids—all on my own! (Cue the happy dance/tears.)

I’m spending most of the week in Austin for business during a regrettably cold and wet stretch (while Portland is enjoying sun and temps in the high 60s—argh!). This also marks the longest I’ve ever been away from Peeper.

I went on one business trip without kids before, and we both did fine—a fact that definitely helped me click “buy” on my plane ticket here. Peeper and I are both a little more independent now, so I figured we’d do even better this go around.

That has been mostly true. My mom is staying at our house and watches Peeper while Eric is at work. They spend a ton of time together even when I’m not hunting for vegetarian BBQ in the country’s most meat-centric state, so my absence wasn’t an enormous transition.

Still, my mom tells me that Peeper asks for me when she wakes up and calls, “Where Mama go?” when looking around my bedroom. The fact that she misses me both breaks my heart and feels like a tiny hug. (Is that weird?)

This business trip without kids has armed me with a few techniques for traveling without my sweet toddler. For parents leaving their littles at home, then, I have a few pieces of advice. Read more

19 months: New House

Eric and I stood in the bare living room, grinning at each other. We had just received the keys to our new home, the first property either of us has owned. We were saying good-bye to cramped apartment living, chain-smoking neighbors and car alarms that consistently blared in the middle of the night.

We had ordered pizza because that’s what you do the first night in your new place. Finn and Edie had been sprinting in circles, taking advantage of all the space and complete lack of furniture.

We weren’t going to spend the night; we had hardly begun packing, in fact. We were just about to head back to the apartment when we changed Peeper’s diaper.

Then—but of course—she peed on the floor.

The house was officially ours.

Moving with a toddler - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Toddler adventures: Portland Japanese Garden

Raising a toddler is typically anything but meditative. But as Peeper and I wandered the Portland Japanese Garden, the serene space nudged me toward a more Zen mindset.

When Peeper wanted to tromp across a bridge over and over and over, I savored the extra time to admire the peaceful pond. When she plopped herself down to sift gravel through her fingers, I stared at the view of Mt. Hood.

She enjoyed the garden in her way, and I enjoyed it in mine. See: Visiting the Portland Japanese Garden was a lovely, restorative experience.

“A Japanese Garden is not only a place for the cultivation of trees and flowering shrubs, but one that provides secluded leisure, rest, repose, meditation, and sentimental pleasure… The Garden speaks to all the senses, not just to the mind alone.” —Takuma Tono, designer of the Portland Japanese Garden
“A Japanese Garden is not only a place for the cultivation of trees and flowering shrubs, but one that provides secluded leisure, rest, repose, meditation, and sentimental pleasure…
The Garden speaks to all the senses, not just to the mind alone.” —Takuma Tono, designer of the Portland Japanese Garden

In 2015, members of a bunch of Portland-area attractions can see the others in the alliance throughout the year. (Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of where you can go when.) We are members of the Oregon Zoo, so I wanted to check out January’s attraction—hence our adventure to the Portland Japanese Garden. Read more

18 months: 10 things about Peeper

Peeper is now closer to her second birthday than her first. As much as this gives me whiplash and makes me think, Wha?!, it makes complete sense: She is hurtling forward, both figuratively and literally, every second of every day.

Chicken whisperer - Ten Thousand Hour MamaWith as quickly as she changes, I wanted to record a few Peeper gems to celebrate her half-birthday. 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?