Happy 2nd birthday Kiwi!

A love letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

On the morning of Kiwi’s 2nd birthday, our brand-new two-year-old woke up and wanted to snuggle in Mom and Dad’s bed. Minutes later, Big Sister Peeper woke up and joined us. Not to be left out, our dog Finn hopped up onto the bed, too. So the first thing we did on Kiwi’s 2nd birthday was snuggle in a big family pile. I can’t think of a better way to start any day, but especially the birthday of our youngest.

Mornings are understandably hectic, thanks to two working parents trying to get ready for their jobs, two kids who would rather goof off or read books than eat breakfast or get dressed, and one dog who takes his sweet time doing his business on our walks. But on Kiwi’s 2nd birthday, we let the usual morning hubbub take a backseat. Spending a few minutes together as a family, undistracted, didn’t come with a ribbon or fancy wrapping paper. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful gift.

A love letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday. Ten Thousand Hour MamaA love letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday. Ten Thousand Hour MamaA love letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday. Ten Thousand Hour MamaA love letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

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

Sometimes motherhood is awesome

If you’ve read this blog often enough, you’ve seen my posts about how hard motherhood can be—like the time one kid trailed poop after her all over the house, or the long length of time breastfeeding was insanely hard, or the roughly 12 months I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours in a row. But sometimes motherhood is awesome.

Take, for instance, the other day. Peeper and I made cookies for absolutely no reason other than the fact that sugar and chocolate chips are delicious. When they were done, the heavenly smell of perfectly browned cookies filled the house.

Shockingly, Kiwi was still asleep—couldn’t she smell the chocolate chip cookies?—so Peeper and I got some more one-on-one time.

I decided to teach her a vital life lesson.

Teaching my kids how to bake and sharing the ritual of cookies and milk—2 ways motherhood is AWESOME! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Dunking cookies and bonding

Some life lessons are hard to teach—like that friends aren’t always nice to you, or that there are people in the world who value girls less than boys. This was not one of them.

I poured two cups of milk. I placed two chocolate chip cookies on plates. I sat Peeper down at the table.

And I taught her how to dunk a cookie in milk.

Peeper had never dunked a cookie, but the practice combines two of her favorite things—dessert and milk.

She and I ate our milk-softened cookies, still warm from the oven, and giggled. It felt as if we were sharing a beautiful secret. The feeling of doing something special just for us filled the room like the scent of baking chocolate.

Cookies and milk and motherhood

Kiwi woke up a few minutes later. I still try to limit her sugar as much as I can, so before I got her from the crib I cleaned up the evidence of cookies and milk.

When Kiwi and I rejoined Peeper in the living room, Peeper looked up at me and smiled. She had a smear of chocolate on one cheek. As I smiled back at her I thought, Motherhood is awesome.

The toddler no phase: Kiwi is 21 months

At 21 months, Kiwi has developed an ornery, argumentative streak. I know that 2-year-olds love the word “no,” and apparently Kiwi is entering the toddler no phase a few months before she officially enters her terrible twos.

Of course Kiwi isn’t actually terrible, but the no phase is strong with this one. She says “no” more than any other word by far. I knew this was coming—Peeper started her own no phase immediately after her second birthday—but repetition is slightly ridiculous.

If the terrible twos come early, the toddler "no" phase comes with it. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Egg carton faces craft: An upcycling kids project

Upcycled kid art // Egg carton faces // Recycling project // Ten Thousand Hour Mama

One thing being a mother of two kids teaches me—repeatedly—is that just because they’re both mine doesn’t mean they’re the same. Or even similar. For example, Peeper could paint, glue, color and craft forever. Kiwi, on the other hand, will eat paint for a moment then splatter it everywhere before getting down from her chair, leaving a trail of purple and orange in her wake.

So the other day during Kiwi’s nap, I suggested Peeper and I do a craft together. We opted for something new and different—after all, when you have so few uninterrupted opportunities to do a kids craft project, you want to make it count! So we brought all our upcycled supplies onto the deck and made egg carton faces in the rare Oregon springtime sun.

Egg carton faces craft // Upcycled art // Recycle art // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 19 months: Her own language

When Kiwi was born, she started talking—not crying—from the moment the midwife placed her on my chest. I thought her beginning moments would be a sign of another loquacious child, like her older sister Peeper, who says things like “lactobacillus acidophilus” without batting an eye.

Yet as another example proving that siblings are anything but identical, Kiwi grew into a toddler who barely spoke. She relied on grunting and pointing more than anything else. But now, as she turns 19 months old, she is communicating more—through expressive grunts, pointing, sign language and a few words—a mixture that makes up her own language.

Language and talking milestones // 19 month old toddler with her own language // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Handmade Valentine’s Day cards & free download

Forget roses and prix fixe dinners. This February 14, I just want a few handmade Valentine’s Day cards.

And chocolate.

Because always chocolate.

Ever since I was a kid, Valentine’s Day has always meant friendship and platonic love. When I was in maybe 3rd grade, my younger sister lost all her valentines. All the tiny packs of candy, the Disney-themed cards, the hand-signed doilies—gone. She was heartbroken.

Later that night, I went through my own haul. I crossed off “Catherine” on every darn card and wrote in my sister’s name instead.

I then gave her a paper sack filled with cards from my classmates to cheer her up.

It should be no surprise, then, that when I think of Valentine’s Day, I don’t get goo-goo over the romantic aspects of the holiday. Instead, I melt at the memory of mailboxes made out of Kleenex boxes, carefully writing friends’ names on Ariel the Little Mermaid cards and the chalky taste of Sweethearts I choked down in the interest of reading the messages.

Now that I have kids, I get to relive the sweet, innocent side of the holiday—partly through crafting handmade Valentine’s Day cards.

Handmade Valentine's Day cards // Cute + easy crab valentines. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more