Why I give: Helping children and reuniting families in Syria

Our Thanksgiving was a little bit crazy, a little bit mellow, and a little bit oh my gosh I can’t believe I ate pie at three meals today. The entire Ryan clan convened at my parents’ house, so we did a lot of game playing, taking walks in the rain (so Oregon!), eating (obvi) and snuggling.

All that together time made me a whole lot of grateful. And as I gave my girls extra hugs, played with my baby niece, had actual face-to-face conversations with family members who live across the country and took ridiculous photos to commemorate our time together, I gave thanks for our good fortune to spend time together.

I’m still riding the high of our rare days all together, especially since the last time we all gathered was at my brother’s wedding three years ago. I’m also remembering that many families—way too many—don’t have the privilege of coming together at home. So today, on Giving Tuesday, this is why I give to a cause close to my heart: to support families who have left their homes to escape danger, poverty or war.

On Giving Tuesday, this is why I give: to support kids and families who want to build a better future. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(See my post from yesterday on more about Giving Tuesday and donating on any budget.)  Read more

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

Still thankful

It seems a little late for a Thanksgiving post, but a) I was feeling under the weather over the holiday and didn’t much feel like writing, and b) gratitude doesn’t have an expiration date.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it’s the perfect time to reflect on the everyday blessings that are easy to take for granted in our busy lives. My family takes turn around the dinner table to say what we’re grateful for (usually while wearing a paper napkin on our head—a weird, inexplicable Ryan tradition).

Allow me, then, to pretend I’m wearing a napkin-hat and share a few things I marveled at over the holiday weekend. How—I mean how?—did I get so lucky? I am thankful for:

These photos were taken at Dorris Ranch, one of my favorite places on earth.
These photos were taken at Dorris Ranch, one of my favorite places on earth.
Peeper loved the tractor!
Peeper loved the tractor!

These goofballs. There is absolutely no one else I’d rather spend my days with.

Puddles - Ten Thousand Hour MamaFamily. Half my siblings live on the opposite end of the country and spent Thanksgiving with friends at a cabin in upstate New York, but my younger sister and her hubby braved the holiday traffic from Seattle to stay with my parents.

I didn’t see my relatives often when I grew up, so I especially value the time Peeper gets to spend with her grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. Plus, she’s always learning something from Auntie Amy—this time it was the best puddle-stomping techniques.

Grandpa Shempy joins Peeper for craft time.
Grandpa Shempy joins Peeper for craft time.

Abundance. We have more than enough to meet our needs. Our plates are full, our homes warm, our needs met. We have medical care. We are safe. Our water is clean.

Beyond basic necessities, we are surrounded by those who love us. We also have the opportunity to love others. Is there anything better than that?

Bubbles - Ten Thousand Hour Mama IMG_6367Growth. Now that I’m a mama, I get to see the world through Peeper’s eyes. She finds joy in everything—sprinting around her grandparents’ house, feeding Grandpa Shempy’s fish, picking up sticks, hugging Finn and chasing bubbles, to name a few. I, then, get to delight in the these things even more because of her toddler enthusiasm.

The world can feel depressing and cold, especially if you spend much time listening to the news. We could all use more wonder.

Toddler smiles - Ten Thousand Hour MamaI hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too! What are you grateful for?