Celebrate summer with messy painting

Art, at its best, is a full-body experience—at least according to my kids. And with summer here (happy first day of summer!), it’s the perfect time to get outside for some messy painting.

On a recent afternoon, Peeper, Kiwi and a few friends did just that. I squirted paint onto plates of shaving cream, and the kids dove in: Within minutes, we were all messy. And within minutes, we were all having so much fun.

After all, we often tell kids to be neat. Use a napkin. Don’t spill. Wash your hands. Keep your hands to yourself. 

With the weather warming up, though, it’s a great excuse to play outside. And with a little set-up—and a lot of shaving cream—you can let your kids’ creativity go wild. Come on, color outside the lines!

Summer Fun Messy Painting Play Date - 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

Kiwi is 9 months: So in love with my baby

Kiwi and I are pretty much obsessed with each other these days.

I fell in love with my baby the instant I met her. Hell, I loved her from the moment I saw that telltale + on the stick I peed on. But this last month, when Kiwi turned 9 months, has brought our mutual adoration to a whole new level.

in love with my baby flowerin love with baby swimming pool

Take, for example, the moment I arrive home and walk in the door. As soon as Kiwi hears my voice, she squeals at a pitch high enough to make poor Finn flinch. Then she crawls toward me as fast as she can as a quadruped. She won’t stop until she’s in my arms.

And when I lift her up, I feel as if I’ve regained some essential part of myself. Read more

2 3/4 years old: All the feelings

Peeper is two and three-quarters years old, but she is more emotionally mature than many adults I know. (Sorry, guys!)

Take, for example, the other day when I spilled something in the kitchen while Peeper was eating breakfast. I must have made some grumpy grunt, because she asked what was wrong. “I’m just frustrated,” I replied.

She slid off her booster seat and walked over to me. She wrapped her arms around my legs and planted a yogurt-covered kiss on my knee.

“It’s ok that you’re frustrated, Mommy,” she said. “Now do you feel better?”

How could I not? trampoline jump girltutu and hat preschoolerblow bubbles Read more

Kiwi is 8 months

Baby dandelion Ten Thousand Hour MamaThis post is really late, but work/life/everything has been a bit much. Life ebbs and flows, and we’ve been at high tide for a while now.

But Kiwi moseys along, oblivious to deadlines and the empty fridge and the thick layer of dog hair on the unvacuumed carpet. (Ok, she actually does notice all that hair, especially considering a large amount of it ends up in her mouth.)

Kiwi is now mobile. She was so close to crawling for what seemed like forever, and then one day she finally managed to move forward instead of backward. She never looked back.

Ten Thousand Hour MamaBaby crawling Ten Thousand Hour MamaBaby with doll Ten Thousand Hour MamaNot being stuck in one place has revolutionized her life (and ours, obvi!). She is even more engaged now that she can spy something that interests her and get to it. 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

Becoming a good enough mother

Sometimes striving to be the best mama just ends in tears. Sometimes it's ok to just be a good enough mother. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I had it all planned out.

Peeper and I went to the Dollar Store for a special mama-daughter adventure. We got, among other things, an absurd number of heart balloons.

We made it home without any of the balloons floating away or causing a traffic accident. On the drive, I had told Peeper about how we’d take a picture with Kiwi and the balloons, and she could watch Daniel Tiger afterwards. (Yes, a blatant bribe. I stand by that tactic.)

So I set up the sisters with the balloons, turned on my camera and got ready to photograph some serious cuteness.

Ha.

Ha.

Ha.

Valentine's Day balloons sisters - Ten Thousand Hour Mama
“No that’s MY balloon!”

Peeper resisted. She flopped on her back. She cried. She squirmed away.

Peeper’s fit frightened her little sister, so Kiwi began to cry, too.

I gave up. I nearly cried. I did not feel like a good mother or even a good enough mother. Read more