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?

Keep your kids busy on the plane: DIY travel activity kits

The last time I flew with the girls, I was by myself. So I schlepped two kids, a couple of carry-ons, Peeper’s lovey and a whole bunch of anxiety onto a plane. I was, understandably, worried about flying with kids solo.

How do you keep your kids busy on the plane—especially when you only have two hands? I wondered.

With luck, and the kindness of a few understanding strangers, we survived that flight. I learned a few lessons, though, that I want to share here: tips on building travel activity kits we’ll be using when we’re doing road trips and flying with kids over the holidays. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the busiest travel days of the year staring us down, we could all use some ideas to travel as a family.

Looking for ways to keep your kids busy on the plane, too? Want to limit their screen time? Want to survive the flight without the rest of the passengers threatening to throw your family out an air lock?

Learn from my experience—and be prepared. You’ll stress less at 30,000 feet in the air when your kids are happy with these travel activity kits!

Traveling on the busiest travel day of the year? Keep your kids busy on the plane—or on a road trip—with DIY travel activity kits. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

What to do between Portland and Spokane: Road trip with kids

In the late spring, my younger sister had a beautiful baby girl. I tried to be all level-headed about giving her new family space, not crowding her with visitors, etc etc etc but on the inside I was all, OMG LET ME AT THAT BABY!

We planned a road trip to Spokane to visit just as soon as we could. I booked an AirBnB and sent an exclamation-point heavy series of texts to my sister. Then—I realized I’d have to drive nearly six hours from Portland to Spokane. With two kids.

Me: …

All my googling found, well, not a whole lot between here and there. But if you happen to make that road trip, here’s what to do between Portland and Spokane, especially if you have kids.

Going on a family road trip in Oregon and Washington this summer? Here's what to do between Portland and Spokane - especially with kids! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Filling my bucket: A kids-free beach weekend

In the depths of winter, when every day as a mom of two felt too hard to endure, I had this kids-free fantasy: I’d check into a hotel, I’d lie down in the king size bed, and there would be no one there to touch me. I would take a shower and eat a meal someone else cooked. Maybe I’d watch some TV. But mainly I’d be away.

The fantasy always felt cruel because it seemed utterly unattainable. I had a toddler who cried whenever I picked up my baby. I had a baby who was often in pain from reflux, who hardly slept, and who wouldn’t take a bottle. Even though we had the means to pay for a hotel for a night, I couldn’t go.

I felt trapped.

I remembered this fantasy a few weeks ago when—wait for it—I spent an entire kids-free weekend at the beach with friends.

I remembered the pain, the desperation, the dark hopelessness of those teary days. But the memory didn’t sting like a fresh cut; rather, it was an ache of a more distant pain. And the salt water of the Oregon coast helped heal me.Girlfriends kids-free beach weekend minivan Read more

Tell me a story

Tell me a story grandpa granddaughterEvery night, Peeper’s wind-down routine is the same: Last Play with a timer. Negotiations to get another Last Play. Teeth-brushing. Stalling to get out of teeth-brushing. Jammies. Book. Song.

And recently, after the lights are turned out, she has asked for a story.

***

When I was growing up, my dad loved to tell us kids stories. He’d invent characters and a plot then string them along in drawn-out dramas. He told us a scary tale about a ventriloquist’s dummy that came to life and a mummy who chased a bunch of explorers—but just because he wanted a cough drop.

He’d tell us these stories in the car, mostly. The tales kept us enthralled between point A and point B—but he’d impeccably time a cliffhanger to the moment he turned off the Shempmobile, his blue Dodge Caravan. He always left us wanting more.

It’s legend, in fact, that one summer he stretched a story about Fluffito, the world’s fluffiest dog, to last a road trip spanning a dozen states. He told about Fluffito’s adventures as he made his way up from local to regional to national to finally international  fluffy dog competitions. But, unbelievably, he didn’t finish by the time we returned home.

Before I could hear the end of the story, in fact, my sister ruined the punchline:

“He’s not so fluffy!”

(Yes, we waited 3,000 miles for that.)

***

I can’t help but think of my dad’s storytelling when Peeper curls up on my lap, waiting for the tale to begin. They’re significantly shorter than my dad’s yarns, but Peeper listens just as raptly as I used to.

Every night Peeper asks for essentially the same story. She wants to hear about how Finn lost his bark. My challenge, then, is to invent a new twist every night—how his bark froze when he was walking to the North Pole, how a crab pinched his nose at the beach and made his bark disappear, how he jumped so high on the trampoline that his bark bounced out of his throat, how a wave from the river splashed into his mouth and made his bark too wet.

Peeper enjoys them all, I think. But every so often, I spin a winner.

“Oh, that’s a good one, Mom,” she’ll say as she slides off my lap and climbs into bed.

Maybe my stories will become longer and more complicated as Peeper grows older. I doubt I’ll ever tell an epic of the same caliber as Fluffito, but you can bet I’ll continue to imagine ways for Finn to lose his bark.

Tonight, and tomorrow night, and every night she asks me, I’ll begin. “Once upon a time…”