For one boob nap, a second child becomes an only child

As I tap this one-handed on my phone, I’m nap trapped. My toddler has fallen asleep breastfeeding, leaving me unable to put away all the kids’ new toys, go through unopened mail, unpack our suitcases or do any of the other things on my list. But I am not complaining. Today, I’m happy for this boob nap.

Kiwi rarely falls asleep on me these days. And on the occasions she does, I can’t let her snooze on me. I don’t have that flexibility; I have a preschooler.

But Peeper went down to Eugene with her dad to pick up our dog, so for today I am mom of only one kid. And that “only child” has a doozy of a cold. So it’s really not that shocking she fell asleep at the breast—and why I let her keep sleeping on me, boob nap style.

When my toddler fell asleep in a boob nap, I stayed put. She and I both got exactly what we needed. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Fall art exploration: Painting with chestnuts

When I was little, I walked with my dad across the University of Oregon campus just before school started. I held his hand as we meandered under the centuries-old trees and kicked the crackling fallen leaves. I often stooped to pick up acorns and chestnuts.

I’d find them in my pocket all fall and winter long—little treasures squirreled away.

Even now I can’t resist picking them up. I run my thumb over the smooth shell like a worry stone and remember those crisp autumn walks with my dad.

The other day, on one of those cold but bright fall mornings, my girls and I took a walk. It was just chilly enough for me to be grateful for the furnace baby strapped to my chest, and Peeper stopped every few steps to investigate something or other while Finn waited impatiently.

We approached a chestnut tree and the mess of nuts, shells and leaves surrounding it. Squirrels scolded us overhead while Peeper picked up a handful of chestnuts and talked about how pokey the burst-open shells were.

We brought a bunch home and started a “special project,” as she has taken to calling her art endeavors. We incorporated the treasures into our fall art crafting—take a look and you and your little may love painting with chestnuts, too!

Process art with autumn treasures and painting with chestnuts: a fun way to celebrate fall! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Why I love breastfeeding my toddler

Not too long ago I wrote about all the reasons why I’m a big fan of breastfeeding, in spite of the really, really hard stretches we’ve gone through to get to the pleasant parts. But the other day, when I was breastfeeding my toddler as we waited for Eric in the grocery store parking lot, I had to laugh. Kiwi kept standing up on my lap, turning her head to look out the window, and practically tap dancing all over me—staying latched all the while.

Breastfeeding a 14-month-old, I thought, is not like breastfeeding a baby.

But we’re still going strong. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to breastfeed—until it stops working for us, I suppose—but I’m enjoying it while I still have this special time with Kiwi.

In the spirit of celebrating what we have, then, here are 10 reasons why I love breastfeeding my toddler.

It's not always easy, but breastfeeding a toddler has a ton of rewards. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 14 months: Copycat kid

Despite the two years that separate them, Kiwi and Peeper sometimes look like twins—well, a long-haired twin and one with barely enough hair to put up in a whale spout. But this past month, Kiwi’s love of doing everything her big sister does means I have two kids who give me twice the trouble and twice the joy. Because Kiwi is a walking, talking, singing copycat kid.

Kiwi the copycat kid does just about everything else we do. She blows her nose when I have a cold. She combs her hair with a sock when Peeper’s getting her pigtails in. She washes Peeper in the bath just like I do.

In one part of the Cinderella CD we listen to every single darn time we get in the car, Peeper sings along to the chorus—“Ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhhh!” Kiwi does the same, though without much of a tune.

Peeper is learning how to turn a cartwheel in gymnastics. She was showing us the other day, and Kiwi tried to mimic her—and actually got pretty close! Kiwi’s cartwheels were more like headstands, but she did accidentally do a somersault, too. Peeper was thrilled: She clapped and exclaimed, “She’s doing it! She’s doing it!”

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, my toddler is really buttering us up! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Kiwi is all eyes—and then she gets it. After watching Peeper or another one of us, she launches into her own version, whether it’s dancing or scrubbing down her high chair.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well, Kiwi is really buttering us up.  Read more

Mt. Hood family hike: Little Zigzag Falls

One of my favorite things to do as a family is head outside and walk around in the woods. Peeper, who is now 3 years old, loves it too—but she also loves to ride on Dad’s shoulders when she gets tired. (She’d be able to hike a lot farther if she didn’t ping pong back and forth on the trail so much: She’s like an overexcited dog who runs and runs and runs once she’s outdoors!)

The catch: If Eric doesn’t join us on the hike, I can’t carry her because I’m wearing Little Sister.

On a recent late-summer morning, though, we found a perfect compromise with a Mt. Hood family hike, without Dad. The girls’ grandparents and I took the kids to hike Little Zigzag Falls, just outside Government Camp, Oregon. It was the perfect short hike for kids.

Oregon's Little Zigzag Falls is short, easy and has a gorgeous waterfall: Perfect for kids and families on Mt. Hood! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Small effort, big payoff

When it comes to hiking with kids, you can’t just walk up a mountain, motivated by the faraway view at the top. No matter what that now-legendary marshmallow experiment says about kids delaying gratification, no small child will hike miles and miles for the promise of a long-off scenic outlook. (Well, at least mine won’t.)

Just a half-mile from the parking area, you'll hike to Little Zigzag falls: a hike perfect for kids & families on Mt Hood! Ten Thousand Hour Mama A half-mile hike to Little Zigzag Falls on Mt Hood is easy for kids and the whole family in Oregon. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The Little Zigzag Falls hike was the opposite of that: The Mt. Hood family hike is short and quickly comes to a beautiful, impressive waterfall.

Kid-friendly hiking trail

Turn left on the trail at the gravel parking lot (which also has a porta potty: another bonus for kids). This begins the hike, which is just a half-mile long each way: a perfect length for little kids and recent walkers.

Even Kiwi, who started walking just a few months ago, hiked much of it!

The trail is level without a ton of roots to trip over. It meanders up within sight of the creek but not so close that kids can easily fall in—an important factor for children who are a little wobbly.

The path also weaves under and around tons of deadfall. Kids will love walking beneath a giant fallen tree and spotting logs in the creek. Ask them why no one has removed the trees “blocking” the creek—you may be surprised what they think! This can be a wonderful opportunity to teach about ecology, how different animals like different habitats, and our hands-off relationship with nature in parks.

Reaching Little Zigzag Falls

At the top of the trail, you’ll reach Little Zigzag Falls, which crashes down just over 40 feet. A rustic wooden bench off the side of the trail is a great place to pause for a snack and rest. Once kids have regained their energy, they can clamber over logs to a mini-beach just below the falls to throw sticks into the creek.

Tip: This spot just below the main viewing area is a perfect vantage point to shoot a photo of the group still in the main clearing. You can capture the entire falls and the whole family!

Looking for a Mt Hood family hike? Little Zigzag Falls is short with a big waterfall payoff. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

The falls marks the point where you turn back toward the parking area. Adults and older kids can hike up above the falls on a little off-shoot just down-trail of the bench. Be careful, though: This trail isn’t well maintained and has muddy spots. You can, however, see the falls from up above: pretty cool!

Little Zigzag Falls hike: Details

Directions: To get to the Little Zigzag Falls Trailhead, head east out of Portland and Sandy toward Government Camp on Highway 26. Turn left (north) on Kiwanis Camp Road, just west of Government Camp. You’ll reach the parking area at the trailhead after about 2 miles.

Features: Waterfalls, shade, small canyon, creek, old growth forest

Good for: Families, kids, babies in carriers, rugged strollers

Must-know: A picnic table just off the trail several hundred feet from the trailhead makes a great place for a snack or lunch.

A short hike—and a picnic!—will get you to Mt. Hood, Oregon's Little Zigzag Falls. Gorgeous! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Do you have recommendations for a Mt. Hood family hike? Have you ever been to Zigzag Falls?

Kiwi is 13 months: Always on the move

The other day, Kiwi sat at her high chair with a washable marker clutched in one fist. Using wide, sweeping motions, she moved her entire body to cover the paper in bright stripes. Her coloring was like an energetic dance—and that is how she approaches everything.

If she’s awake, my 13-month-old is moving.

This 13 month old cheered on Team USA during the Olympics! Ten Thousand Hour MamaNow that this toddler can walk, she loves the splash pad all summer long!Now that she's mobile, the beach is even more fun for this toddler. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThe beach is full of fun—and opportunities to dig sand!—for toddlers. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more