21 November 2014

Book update: First draft SUBMITTED (and a thank you gift for you)

I JUST SUBMITTED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE PARENT HACKS BOOK TO MY EDITOR.

CAN YOU TELL I'M EXCITED ABOUT THIS?

 

A photo posted by Asha Dornfest (@ashadornfest) on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:44pm PST

This site exists because of hundreds of you were willing to share.

People I didn't know -- busy people, aren't we all so busy, so busy sometimes we forget to take a moment for ourselves? -- stopped what they were doing to share a tip that made their lives easier. They did this hoping it would help someone else.

It's such a simple, small thing. But, really, it's the biggest, best thing, isn't it?

This is the first milestone on the book's path, but it's a big one worthy of celebration. Today I'm celebrating YOU.

Those are my kids holding the fancy crystal glasses filled with sparkling cider. When I launched Parent Hacks, my son had just started kindergarten and my daughter was a toddler.

Thank you. THANK YOU. I'm writing this book to honor YOU and all that you've contributed to this site, all that you've given me.

Cheers, with the fancy crystal!

Steven Smith Peppermint LeavesLet's celebrate! Leave a comment on this post any time today or Saturday.

One commenter (chosen at random) will get a box of my very favorite tea, Steven Smith Peppermint Leaves. I wanted to get you something from Portland that I really love. I drink *a lot* of this tea.

Trust me, you've never had peppermint tea like this. (My family is so sick of hearing to me go on about this tea.) Steven Smith is a Portland treasure. If you ever visit, you should check out the tasting room. It's amazing.

I wish I could get tea for every single one of you.

I'll email the winner on Sunday (so be sure to include your email address).

Powell's BooksI'm gifting another Portland goodie -- a $20 gift card to Powell's Books -- to one of my newsletter subscribers. You're a subscriber, right? Watch your email for today's newsletter! (If you've not a subscriber, sign up right now! The newsletter drops today at 10 AM PST!)

10 November 2014

Flying with kids: 5 smart family boarding strategies

Flying with kids: 5 smart boarding strategies #parenthacksHas family air travel gotten more difficult in recent years?

I recently took a flight in which you had to pay extra for "preferred" aisle or window seating, another in which there were fees for both checked and carry-on baggageand another where the only complimentary beverage was water.

Fees for carry-on? Seriously?

A few airlines have even done away with early boarding; reserving it for Platinum Super Diamond members traveling solo with tiny laptop bags, not people traveling with squirmy kids, car seats, and massive diaper bags.

I now live in the blissful land of Travel With Older Children, but I remember what it was like to fly when they were little. We were once the people with that kid.

Given all the changes in recent years, I figured it was time to revisit the topic of flying with kids.

Here are some ideas for streamlining the boarding process, but I hope you'll chime in, especially if you've recently flown with your kids.

1. Get your seats assigned as early as you can.

There's tension between buying your flight reservations early (so you have flexibility in seating choices) and waiting for a good fare.

I'm a dealhoud, so it pains me to spend more money on a flight than I have to. But when you're flying with little kids, in my opinion, it's worth paying more for comfort.

Jet With Kids posted a great strategy for maximizing the chances you'll have an empty middle seat.

2. Get to the airport earlier than usual.

Seriousy, do it. You will be so much happier spending an extra 30 minutes at the gate than you will rushing your family through the airport. (As if rushing throught the airport with kids is even possible.)

Getting to the airport early...

  • gives you a shot at better seating (those gate agents can work wonders)
  • gives you ample time for snack and beverage purchases, diaper changes, bathroom visits, and running off energy
  • gives you peace of mind as you slog through the security line
  • gives you time to pick up last-minute items you forgot at home

3. Pack empty sippy cups in your carry-on bag

You already know you can't take liquids through security. Fill cups or mix formula at the gate using bottled water or the drinking fountain. (Airplane water can be nasty and may not be available when you need it.)

4. Gate check carry-on luggage you don't absolutely need.

Most airlines let you gate-check luggage for free. This includes the umbrella stroller (bring a soft carrier on the flight). The less you have to wrestle with on the plane, the better.

5. Skip early boarding.

I lament the loss of early family boarding more on principle than in fact, because, really, why get your kids on the plane any earlier than you have to?

If family boarding's a thing and you're traveling with another parent, send one adult ahead to get the seats buckled in and the bags situated. The second grownup + kids can board right at the end, after everyone else is seated and the aisle has cleared.

If you're traveling alone, just board at the end and ignore any dirty looks while you get your kids settled. Those people are jerks.

Others have written great posts on this topic as well:

OK, folks, what did I miss? Share your flight boarding tips (or links) in the comments.

Photo Credit: Ma1974 via Compfight cc

07 November 2014

Book update: First draft almost done

Writing, writing, writing.

So much goodness swirled around this week, but I've barely looked up or shared any of it. I'm heads down finishing the manuscript for the Parent Hacks book, which is consuming most of my conscious thought at the moment.

This is only the book's beginning; my first attempt to transform what we've been doing here for the last nine years into something new and special.

Writing the first draft of the Parent Hacks book is like going through a box of nine years' worth of snapshots. The goal is a beautiful album representing those years, but to get there one must sort and edit and choose. Sorting and organizing aren't my strong suits, so this is, I think, the hardest part for me.

Also (as if it's not obvious), I'm a sentimentalist. Going through over 4000 posts and 35K comments has brought back so many memories!

You'll get to be more involved with the book during its next phase -- when I get the manuscript back after its initial edit. By then we'll have something concrete to talk about. I want to know what YOUR favorite hacks are. What YOU think should go into the book.

You'll meet my publisher, Workman. There are reasons I think Workman is the perfect publisher for this book. I'll introduce you to the people working with me to make this happen: my editor and the book's illustrator (ILLUSTRATOR!! EXCITING.), among others.

You'll also meet one of the most superstar Parenthackers of all...someone I've been talking with since practically the first day this blog went live. She's contributed so many hacks over the years, and she knows the contents of this site almost as well as I do. This person (who I will reveal in another post!) has lent perspective and guidance as I've written the first draft. I think of her like an angel sitting on my shoulder.

So! All is well. I'm a terrible multitasker, so apart from taking breaks to chat on Facebook and Twitter, I'm pretty much devoting my time to finishing this draft. My deadline is November 19. You know what I wish? We could all get together for coffee on November 20.

In the meantime, tell me how you're doing! Tell me about your Fall, your holiday plans, and what you're reading. Or what's on your mind. Or just say hi. It gets lonely during a big, quasi-solo project (especially now that it's dark SO EARLY). Your voices cheer me to no end.

Comment, Facebook, Twitter, wherever you like. Thank you all for making this possible. I want to do you proud. XOXO

31 October 2014

Not ready for Halloween? Here's your 2-item to-do list.

There's still time for this to be the best Halloween ever.

Read more

30 October 2014

In support of teenage trick-or-treaters

My teenage son is going trick-or-treating this Halloween. I'm happy about it, and here's why.

Read more

29 October 2014

6 last-minute Halloween costumes you can make using stuff you've already got

None of these costumes will they blow you away with their cleverness. That's the point.

Read more

27 October 2014

23 October 2014

Turn leftover picnic supplies into reusable, adorable Halloween decorations

Turn the last few picnic supplies cluttering your pantry into easy, clever Halloween decorations.

Read more

21 October 2014

Glow in the dark no-carve Jack-o-lanterns

Create a glow in the dark pumpkin by coating it with non-toxic zinc sulfide powder. Part Halloween decoration, part science project.

Read more

15 October 2014

8 Jack O'Lantern hacks to make decorating your Halloween pumpkin easier (including not carving it)

Pumpkin carving is one of my favorite Halloween traditions, but it's not the most kid-friendly project, nor is it without effort and mess. Time to hack the Jack O'lantern. Parent Hacks readers are a practical bunch, and together we've come up eight ways to simplify Halloween pumpkin decorating. Perfect for...

Read more

ALL hacks in November 2014 →

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