The $2 hack to make my kids sleep on vacation

“Vacations are so relaxing and easy!”—said no parent of young kids. Ever. We recently spent four days in Newport, Oregon, which was lovely but not restful in the least. On top of all the prepping and packing and passing back of 18 varieties of snacks on the drive to the central Oregon coast, neither kid sleeps that well away from home. Somehow, though, despite feeling a bit run down on vacation, my creativity remained intact, and I am now obsessed with the parenting hack I pulled off to make my kids sleep on vacation.

Like on most vacations we take, I couldn’t make my kids sleep on the first night. Although I had brought noise machines and loveys and special blankets, we didn’t have the blackout curtains we rely on at home. Once morning dawned, with both kids wide awake, I knew I had to try something different.

My protests of “it’s too early” didn’t cut it.

Family travel can destroy sleep habits. Fortunately my $2 hack to make my kids sleep on vacation totally worked! Zzzz - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper opened the blinds and begged to differ. “Look mama, it’s sunny!” She said. “It’s not too early!” So we spent the early-early morning semi-conscious on the couch, praising the geniuses who invented Saturday morning cartoons.

Then on my way to the drive-through coffee shop (OMG CAFFEINE THANK YOU), I stopped at the dollar store down the street. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I dropped $2 on aluminum tin foil and pulled off one of my best parenting hacks yet—which not only helped make my kids sleep on vacation but also stopped me from swearing off family vacations entirely. (Win!)

This $2 hack to make my kids sleep on vacation is a game-changer for family travel and vacation! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

How to write a baby shower card: New mom parenting truths

Last year my sister and I threw my younger sister a baby shower, and while it was a lovely afternoon, it also sent me tripping down memory lane to my own showers (like this one and this pirate-themed sprinkle). It also made me think about how to write a baby shower card—and whether I wanted it to be super sweet, slightly snarky, or a combination of both.

At my sister’s baby shower, I couldn’t help but smile at the simultaneously awkward and sweet present-opening tradition, where she sifted through tissue paper-filled gift bags and tried not to cry.

I also remembered reading the touching sentiments people had written me—and the inane platitudes printed on baby shower cards. It’s pretty much guaranteed that if there’s a picture of a stork on the card, the inside message will mention “sweet bundle of joy” or “miracle of birth”—cliches that make me puke a little mimosa in my mouth.

If you’re trying to figure out how to write a baby shower card for the special expecting mama in your life, don’t fall back on some general comment or call it good at “congratulations.” Write out one of these parenting truths—with, of course, the humor and understanding of one mom to another.

How to write a baby shower card: Parenting truths for a new mom. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Parenting truths for a baby shower card

Many parenting truths are not Hallmark material. Here are a few realizations I had to make the hard way.

Feel free to co-opt them when you’re figuring out how to write a baby shower card of your own!

  1. You will be so tired that you will literally hallucinate. In the depths of newborn sleep deprivation, you and your partner will pass a phantom baby back and forth. When you wake up-ish, you will freak out because oh my god what happened to the baby? and of course she will be sound asleep in her bed.
  2. One does not simply put shoes on a baby. Trying to get those adorable Nikes and tiny Toms onto your baby’s itty bitty, squashy, totally uncooperative feet will make you feel like the most incapable person ever to have kids.
  3. Raffi is not all bad. Some of his songs you can actually get behind. And some of it is drivel that makes you want to puncture your eardrums with a teething wafer.
  4. Your wardrobe is no longer your own. Gone are the days you buy clothes because they’re cute and they make you feel good. Now the most important criteria are easy access to the boobs and ability to camouflage avocado puree.
  5. You’ll do everything you said you wouldn’t. You’ll breastfeed your baby to sleep, use all the sleep crutches and hand your phone to a fussy toddler when you’re in the checkout line. And you’ll still be a good mother.
  6. You’ll try to do everything you said you would—then give up. It turns out that cloth diapers actually do require more effort than disposable, pureeing your own baby food is a giant pain in the ass and making all those Pinterest sensory activities doesn’t feel worth it when your baby loses interest after 10 seconds. That’s ok—you probably grew up eating cold hot dogs and wearing clothes washed in regular laundry detergent, and look how great you turned out!
  7. Your baby will pee the second you change him into a dry diaper. Or the second you take off the wet one. (Where’s that peepee teepee?!)
  8. You will do whatever it takes to make your child feel better. Even if that involves sucking the snot out of her nose. With your mouth. Ew.
  9. You will become boring. Other people don’t care that much about how your three-month-old can roll over, or what her third solid food will be, but they will smile and nod. Which is a good thing, since you’ll be so sleep deprived that you’ll cut anyone who doesn’t indulge your mommy ramblings.
  10. You will be hopelessly, mind-bendingly, overwhelmingly in love. Seriously. There is no way to prepare for the monumental changes your heart will undergo. This one just has to be learned firsthand.

Do you have any tips on how to write a baby shower card?

Deep thoughts and life lessons from an ant infestation

It’s probably a bad sign when a household ant infestation feels like a metaphor for your life.

A few times a year since we moved into our house, tiny sugar ants appear. They swarm on crumbs and march in lines along room perimeters. After a while—and usually more rigorous housecleaning—they go back to whatever outside home they have.

This time is different. I keep fighting the ants, and, predictably, more show up. And they are spreading. They have found the bathroom, a room they’ve never infiltrated before. And I just can’t keep up.

Perhaps it’s not shocking that this particularly bad ant infestation mirrors a time in my life that also feels like every time I turn around, I have more to-do items that tickle me, nagging thoughts that won’t get lost and worries that swarm my distracted mind.

When my home had an ant infestation, the bugs—surprisingly—taught me some good parenting (and life) advice. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Bending backwards for your kids

When you bend over backwards for your kids and don't get a thank you, you just gotta laugh. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The entire family was driving down the highway recently when Peeper let out a wail.

“What’s wrong?”

“My heel’s in the wrong spot!” she screamed. Turns out her sock had turned around and she couldn’t straighten it.

I tried coaching her through righting the sock to no avail. As I was in the passenger seat, I twisted all the way around and stretched my arm back.

“Put your foot next to your head,” I told her. I was just able to reach her sock and fixed it.

I waited a beat.

“Do you have something you want to say to Mom?” I asked.

While I massaged the shoulder I’d nearly dislocated, I waited for the thank you.

Peeper was silent for a minute then spoke.

“I want milk.”

It was all I could do to hold my head in my hands and laugh.

That is parenting in a nutshell: You literally bend backwards to help them recover from some ridiculous problem and instead of saying thank you, they move on to the next demand.

At least we have humor, right?

What’s the most ridiculous big-little problem you e had to solve for your kids?

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day to Me: Celebrating All of Me

This guest post by Ali Wilkinson, the hilarious and thoughtful mama behind Run Knit Love, is part of a series called Happy Mother’s Day to Me. (If you don’t already follow her blog or Facebook page, you’re missing out!) In this series, mothers are celebrating themselves for the dedicated, loving, tireless mothers they are—and like Ali, they are celebrating all they are. Check out all the posts in the series!


 

Celebrating all of meI’m about to tell you a terrible story about myself. I know that may seem contradictory, since this is supposed to be a celebration of motherhood, but bear with me.

On Sunday night, a duck flew onto our neighbor’s roof. It felt surreal, like an omen. I mean you see ducks fly, but have you ever seen one on a roof? We debated getting a ladder to help her down, but then she casually, awkwardly flew down to our yard and started waddling around, looking pointlessly for her crew or for a lake—neither of which were within a mile of our yard.

Our neighbors across the street have an almost-two-year-old. He was playing out front with his mom, and I ran over to invite them to see the strange sight.

We admired the duck for a while, and then followed from a distance as she hopped down onto the street and began to walk away, as if it were totally natural. Taking the duck’s cue, we went our separate ways.

As I walked back up the path to our yard, my head filled with thoughts of wise and lonely ducks, the top of my left foot came sharply up on the underside of a rock overhanging the path. The pain was bright and harsh, and my foot immediately began to swell and discolor.

It’s Tuesday now, two days later, and because of a few things—namely, my three children—I haven’t had time to get it X-rayed yet. But it still looks like I have another foot growing off of it, and an angry purple C snaking around my toe.

So all this is to say, my foot hurts. Especially when I put pressure on it.

Cut to this morning’s school drop-off. Because of the three kids thing, we have (cue ominous music) a minivan. Normally my two younger kids sit in the front row and my oldest is alone in the back in a booster seat, but we temporarily have another car seat in the back row, giving my oldest two a chance to sit together. However, due to this being a (cue music again) minivan, it involves a great deal of contortion and pressure on my foot in order to strap my daughter in back there.

My daughter asked if she could sit in that seat this morning, and I said, being all let’s foster independence, “I’d rather you didn’t, because it hurts my foot right now to strap you in back there.” When I came to the car to strap her in, she had chosen to sit in the back row anyway.

I smarted, I fumed, but I basically held it together, and worked through the pain to strap her in.

I then spent the entire drive to her school unsuccessfully trying to give my new insurance information to our doctor’s office so I could schedule an appointment to get my foot looked at. This was not super successful given that I was trying to give them my vision insurance. The day was starting off (forgive me) on the wrong foot.  Read more