Portland hike to the Witch’s Castle with kids

Lately Peeper has been on a mystery/spooky story kick—a predilection I could attribute to my own childhood love of scary stuff but is mostly due to her Grandpa Shempy’s long made-up mysteries about something called the Monkey’s Paw. So when I had a free morning and the kids miraculously ate their breakfast on time and without protest, I decided to try hiking Portland’s Witch’s Castle with the kids.

Hiking Portland Oregon's witch's castle with kids is a fun outdoor activity when you travel as a family - or if you live here in the Northwest! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I originally heard of Portland’s Witch’s Castle in Forest Park from my blogging friend Renee. She wrote about hiking to the castle with her teens, and I’ve wanted to do it myself ever since then—but with my littler kids, of course.

Since the day’s forecast called for some rain, I wanted to choose a forested hike so we wouldn’t get totally drenched if it did drizzle. Forest Park, with its immense Douglas firs, provides quite a bit of shelter from the Oregon rain—but as luck would have it, the skies stayed mostly clear. (Thanks, weather!)

Rain or no rain, though, the hike was gorgeous—and the Witch’s Castle lived up to its spooky, and awesome, reputation!

Hiking Portland Oregon's witch's castle with kids is a fun outdoor activity when you travel as a family - or if you live here in the Northwest! Ten Thousand Hour MamaHiking Portland Oregon's witch's castle with kids is a fun outdoor activity when you travel as a family - or if you live here in the Northwest! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Mama truth photography: Beauty in the everyday crazy

Mama truth photography: Beauty in the everyday crazy

The morning Portland family photographer Ashley of Weeno Photography was scheduled to come to our house for a Mama Truth Session, I nearly called it off. Eric had been out of town for days. It took me two hours to get the girls to sleep the night before. And then they woke up at 5. But I didn’t cancel. Instead, I thought to myself, “Ashley is about to get more truth than she bargained for.”

Lately, the girls have been challenging. They’re chronically tired and we have been struggling to ensure they get more rest. They fight over ridiculous things (“I want the yellow bowl.” “No mine lellow!”). Kiwi cries and throws epic tantrums that we can do nothing to soothe.

So I’m not entirely sure why I thought I wanted a Mama Truth Session, where photographer Ashley LaMattino-Perlberg comes to your house to hang out for a few hours and captures whatever happens, from making a snack to soothing a booboo.

I think it was our initial contact. “The beauty in the everyday is always there,” she said. “And yet it’s so hard to see it ourselves. That’s why these sessions are so important!” Her words resonated deep within me. And it turns out she is so right.

A Mama Truth family photography session from a Portland photographer showed me the beauty in the everyday crazy of motherhood. Ten Thousand Hour MamaA Mama Truth family photography session from a Portland photographer showed me the beauty in the everyday crazy of motherhood. Ten Thousand Hour MamaWhy mamas deserve candid photos of themselves—and not only staged family photography—to show the everyday beauty of motherhood. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I’m so grateful we did a Mama Truth photography session, which Ashley did for free for my family. The photos are beautiful, yes. Even more, though, the photographs showed me the beauty of my everyday life with my kids. And get this: Below, you can enter a giveaway for a chance to win half-off a Mama Truth Session with Weeno Photography. And anyone who mentions this blog post by the end of October will get $100 off a Mama Truth family photography session. Read on to find out more and enter!

We received a free family photography session in exchange for a blog post. As always, all opinions are my own. Read more

Kids’ mini mural crawl in North Portland, Oregon

Kids’ mini mural crawl in North Portland, Oregon

This summer I’ve fallen in love with street art. I think it started when two blogging friends and I hit up some of our favorite murals in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Lisa from This Beautiful Day, Jenni from A Well Crafted Party and I caught up (and goofed off) in front of some of the city’s most dramatic street art. Just about every chance I’ve gotten since then, I’ve made detours and special trips to visit Portland murals—and have been bringing my kids along, too. One of my favorite trips was a mini mural crawl in North Portland that both kids joined me for.

This mural crawl for kids was one of the most fun family activities I’ve done recently, partly because it was even more enjoyable for me than it was for the girls. (Pretty sure I’m not alone in planning 99% of our family activities around what the under-5 set wants to do—but not this time!) That said, Peeper and Kiwi really got into the kid-friendly mural crawl in North Portland. (See the photos for proof!)

A mini mural crawl with kids in Portland, Oregon is an awesome family friendly activity when you travel to Portland. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThis kid friendly mural crawl in Portland, Oregon is a super-fun outdoor activity for the whole family when you travel to the Pacific Northwest. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Part of the fun was the novelty of the family activity: We’d never done something quite like this. Peeper loved directing me and Kiwi so she could take a photo. (She has a good eye, doesn’t she?) Plus, the girls were fascinated by street art. Their wide eyes seemed to say, “Wait, you mean artists can paint giant pictures outside? I thought you said we couldn’t paint on walls!”

Uh-oh, I might live to regret this Portland, Oregon mural crawl. Oh well, it was worth it!

This kids mural crawl in Portland, Oregon is a great family travel activity! Plus, you'll get incredibly family photos in front of street art. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Clothes for moms who do all the things

Clothes for moms who do all the things

Nearly every mother I know has a hustle. Or three. Or more. There’s something about motherhood these days that practically none of us is “just” a stay-at-home-mom or career mom or a mom period. We’re also entrepreneurs, bloggers, creatives, homeschoolers and so much more—not to mention being a partner, friend, sister, daughter and a whole list of other awesome roles. Enter: clothes for moms that do all the things.

It may sound silly, but my daily style impacts my ability to be so many things at once. (Anyone else think of Hermione and Ron’s interaction in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? Ron said, “One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.” Hermione replies, “Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.” AMEN HERMIONE!) When I need to be ready to get the girls ready, jump on a conference call, bust out a blog post, plan the week’s meals and have the mental energy left to have a conversation with my husband that goes beyond Daredevil plot points, I need an outfit that works for me.

So when I partnered with Athleta to write a blog post about their new fall collections, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Athleta’s lines are just that: clothes for moms who do all the things.

The best clothes for moms are comfortable—and beautiful—because working moms and SAHMs need to feel gorgeous. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThe best clothes for moms are comfortable, practical, beautiful - and washable! Ten Thousand Hour MamaClothes for moms should be simultaneously gorgeous and practical, professional and comfortable. This Athleta dress is my new favorite outfit to do all the things. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I received an Athleta gift certificate in exchange for writing this post. As always, all opinions and content on this blog are entirely my own.  Read more

The best parks in West Linn, Oregon

Some people ask, why move to West Linn? Here’s one reason why: When we were getting ready to move two years ago, we were looking for a welcoming neighborhood in a family-friendly city. So when we began exploring West Linn, Oregon, we knew we found home. It has an incredible school district, access to the outdoors, a small-town feel outside Portland—and a wealth of parks. We love to spend time outdoors as a family, and as soon as we bought a home and moved, we began exploring the best parks in West Linn.

There are so many great outdoor spots to play, we could hardly choose a favorite. It’s just as well, because mixing it up keeps my kids happy! When I get the girls packed up and tell them we’re going to the playground, they ask, “Which park, Mama?” Will it be the one with the dinosaur skeleton? Or the one with the giant rocks you can climb in the splash pad? Or the one with the two-story high slide built into the hill?

So many choices!!!

The best parks in West Linn, Oregon, outside Portland // family travel // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Twin Lakes: Family friendly hikes on Mt. Hood

Throughout the school year when Eric teaches, we typically spend every weekend taking turns working and playing with the girls. So this summer, when Eric’s job is much less demanding, I wanted to make a point of spending more quality time together as a family. When we got a rare weekday off together earlier this summer, we searched for a family friendly hike on Mt. Hood and headed up the mountain to Twin Lakes. Boy, was I glad we did!

This kid friendly hike on Mt. Hood to Twin Lakes is perfect for family travel outside Portland, Oregon! Ten Thousand Hour MamaThis kid friendly hike on Mt. Hood to Twin Lakes is perfect for family travel outside Portland, Oregon! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The hike was perfect. It was challenging enough to make me feel like I got a bit of a workout and had a breathtakingly gorgeous payoff at the end. The girls loved the hike—especially since they got to swim in a pristine lake on Mt. Hood. (What’s not to love?)

I’d recommend this family friendly hike on Mt. Hood in a heartbeat. Here’s all you need to know!

This kid friendly hike on Mt. Hood to Twin Lakes is perfect for family travel outside Portland, Oregon! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Must-do kids activities in Portland: Oregon bloggers’ recs

Having a bunch of blogger friends is the best. They’re like a combination of the hive mind, Yelp, google and a travel agent, except with really awesome photo skills. When I need recommendations on where to eat or what to do in Portland, Oregon, I ask my Portland bloggers buds first; ditto where to stay at the coast, or what to cook for an upcoming BBQ. So when I wanted to collect a bunch of must-do family and kids activities in Portland, I knew who to ask.

I posed this question in a handful of Portland bloggers groups I belong to:

When friends and their family visit Portland from out of town, where do you send them?

Lucky for me (and you!) they sent a bunch of responses. Read on for insider tips, recommendations and curated travel plans for the best Portland family-friendly spots and kids activities!

Blogger recommendations for the best restaurants + kid activities in Portland, Oregon! family-friendly travel // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more