Peeper is 4: Fourth birthday reflections

A few days ago, both the girls woke up at 4am. Eric tried to get them back to sleep, but Peeper was having none of it. “Yesterday Mama told me I have three days until my birthday. But now I have only TWO days until I’m 4!” This girl is just a little excited for her fourth birthday.

We’ve been talking about her birthday for a while now, but only recently has it seemed concrete to her. After all, concepts of months and weeks are a little abstract for a preschooler. So the week leading up to her fourth birthday, we talked about how many days were left until she turned 4.

And now that day has come. Happy birthday, my sweet, fierce, loving, compassionate, hilarious, sassy daughter!

Happy 4th birthday to my daughter, the silliest preschooler I know. Ten THousand Hour MamaHappy 4th birthday to my preschooler! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

3 1/2 years old: Halfway between big and small

Over Christmas break, Peeper and her cousin were sitting on stools in the kitchen. “You’re so big already—don’t get any bigger!” her Aunt Meghan teased. Everyone laughed—everyone but Peeper. She burst into tears.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“I don’t want to stay small!” she wailed.

Peeper loves to be a big girl, but she also craves the security of being our baby. This push and pull between big and small colors every day. Just as she’s halfway between 3 and 4, she’s halfway between big and small.

A beautiful flower crown for my preschooler daughter. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler and my husband have a special daddy-daughter bond. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler's curiosity is wonderful to witness. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small at 3 1/2 years old, I love my daughter more each day. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Halfway to big

Peeper is at the stage where she revels in getting bigger. We persuade our picky eater to try vegetables and take a few more bites because, as she believes, vegetables make you grow. She stretches her arms as wide as they’ll go after meals, showing us just how much longer her arms got after a meal of spaghetti or peanut butter banana. And she jumps with all her might—”Look how high I can jump!”—to test just how much she’s grown in the last 15 minutes.

She also enjoys being a big sister. “Kiwi is saying a new word!” she’ll exclaim. “She’s trying to say blueberries. That’s right, b, b, b, blueberries, Kiwi!”

She also loves to teach Kiwi new skills, whether it’s blowing spit bubbles (seriously so gross), spinning, eating cereal (“You go like this”—crunch crunch) or climbing the elliptical machine. Peeper is her little sister’s biggest cheerleader, applauding her every milestone.

Whether they're dressing up or playing gymnastics, my girls are inseparable. Ten Thousand Hour MamaAs a big sister, my daughter takes good care of her little sis. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler is her little sister's biggest fan and cheerleader. Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters in the snow

Halfway to small

Yet being big isn’t always part of Peeper’s plan.

Every so often, she becomes Baby Peeper. She’ll crawl into Kiwi’s crib or lie down on the changing pad. Once she even insisted on wearing a diaper over her undies.

“Gagagaga,” she’ll say, copying baby talk. But then she’ll do a remarkable, spot-on impersonation of her little sister. She’ll point, make Kiwi’s signature “mmmmn” sound and scrunch up her nose in the perfect imitation of her sister’s smile.

Seriously, she could take this act on the road, it’s so good.

And every so often, Peeper will become a baby again, snuggling in my lap in the rocking chair. She’ll tuck her head under my chin and pull her knees up to her chest. While she’s resting on me, I sing her favorite lullabies and marvel that this child, halfway between big and small, ever fit inside of me.

Peeper is all lanky limbs these days. I laugh when she shows us her impressive wingspan (“Look how long my arms are!”) because she takes after her dad, whose arms are so long he needs a specially fitted golf club.

She is changing into a big child. She has lost the baby fat that gave her such beautifully chubby cheeks. She may be halfway between big and small, but she’s hurtling toward big at a pace that takes my breath away.

Halfway between big and small, my preschooler is growing at an astonishing pace. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy little girl is halfway between big and small. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Staying big and small

Unlike her joking Aunt Meghan, I don’t want to keep Peeper small. I love witnessing how she grows, develops and changes every day.

She wakes up each morning a new person. Although some things are consistent—her favorite color remains purple, she still hates washing her hands—the dawn could bring any other new development.

Tomorrow could be the day she finally lands a perfect cartwheel or

While I wake up just as excited as she does to see what the day brings, I cherish the times she turns back into Baby Peeper. Those moments, whether she’s a goof copying her sister’s baby talk or a cuddlebug who finds a cozy spot on my lap, remind me of the days when she was my everything, my all. When I was her world and she was mine. When the universe shrunk to the size of just us—a mother and a baby halfway between big and small.

No matter how big she gets, my daughter will always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaWhether she's big or small, she'll always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small, my preschooler is just where she's meant to be. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

My daughter made me cry (and I’m so glad)

The other day, my daughter made me cry.

It wasn’t because Peeper punched me in the eye (on accident!) while we were playing. And it wasn’t because she drew this picture of me.

My daughter made me cry—not because she drew me with a unibrow and lopsided boobs, but because she told me just what I needed to hear. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(Yes, I’m so #momglam with my unibrow and lopsided boobs.)

No, it was because she said the words I didn’t even know I’d been waiting to hear.

Sometimes, we moms don't know what we need to hear. My daughter made me cry by saying them. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

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

Flashcards fun: 5 ways to entertain your kids for $1

Think back to high school or college and you will probably not have fond memories of flashcards. I know I don’t. I break out in a sweat when I remember quizzing myself on the date of the transcontinental railroad for my AP US History test and, later, on the mating habits of bonobos. (That last one was for Evolution of Human Sexuality, an unforgettable anthropology class in college, in which my professor stood on a chair at the head of a 300-person lecture hall and pretend-birthed a baby doll. Awesome!)

But unless you’re prepping your kid to get into that genius pre-K program (please tell me you’re not), your preschooler hasn’t formed an anxious association with flashcards just yet. So it’s time to get in on some flashcards fun!

All you need for these 5 games is a pack of flash cards—just $1 at the store. Your kids will have fun with these easy, portable kid friendly activities! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Peeper is 3

It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago, my beautiful Peeper made me a mom.

I will never forget that day. Early that morning I woke with contractions. A bit later, Eric, my sister, Finn and I went for a hike. My water broke on the car ride home. At the hospital, I endured excruciating back labor that made me wild with fear. But just after 9pm, I met the tiny person who had grown from two joined cells to an entire person, and my life broke open in the most joyous way possible.

This preschooler is 3 years old and brings me so much joy. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper’s third birthday marks a division in my life—a clear before and after. But she continues to rock my world every day we spend together. Read more