14 July 2014

GIVEAWAY: Tickets to the Portland screening of BOYHOOD

BOYHOOD Movie

It's one thing to make a movie. It's another to do something completely new with the medium.

From the promotional material for BOYHOOD:

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. It's impossible not to watch Mason and his family without thinking about our own journey.

I can't comment on the movie as I haven't seen it yet, but the NY Times review is fascinating and Rebecca's review at Girl's Gone Child blows me away. Watch the trailer and tell me you don't feel a major tug.

(Update: I just found out that for a few of you the trailer's not appearing on this page. Click here to watch it on YouTube.)

As the mother of a teenage boy the concept hits me right in the gut. I'm feeling it even more so now because my son is away at his first sleepaway camp. He's been gone for three weeks so far with another to go, and it has been a hugely eye-opening time of growth for all of us.

The PR folks for BOYHOOD have offered me 20 screening invitations to give away to 10 readers + their guests. Which means we could have a movie date together! Rael and I will be at the screening, and it would be so fun to see you there.

Here are the details:

1. The screening is on Monday, July 21 at 7pm in the Portland, OR area.

2. Therefore, only Portland-area readers are eligible to enter. Please only enter if you can commit to attending the screening! (It would be sad if the giveaway winners ended up not coming.) The movie is rated R, so your guest needs to be old enough to watch it. Teen-to-adult is my guess.

3. If more than 10 people enter the giveaway, winners will be chosen randomly.

4. The PR company is running the giveaway via email. They will notify the winners via email on Thursday, July 17. 

I hope to see you there!

To enter, send email to PORTLAND@43KIX.COM with the subject line ‘BOYHOOD – PARENT HACKS’ and your name in the body of the message.

07 July 2014

AMAZON DEAL: Big Book of Boy Stuff for Kindle only $1.99

The Big Book of Boy Stuff by Bart KingBart King is on my mind for five reasons. I saved the best for last.

1. He's the author of two of my kids' favorite books.

He's written many books, but two of my kids' longtime favorites are The Big Book of Boy Stuff and The Big Book of Gross Stuff.

2. He's a local author, like really local.

I think we might live within walking distance of each other.

3. We finally met in person. 

My kids were a little starstruck when I told them Bart and I were at an author event together. He's interesting, generous, and full of good humor about the book business.

4. He has a new book out.

It's called The Big Book of Superheroes and a review will appear here shortly.

5. The Kindle edition of The Big Book of Boy Stuff is on killer sale right now.

At Amazon, the paperback is over $14, but right now (not sure for how long) the Kindle edition is $1.99.

A dollar ninety-nine! HELLO CHEAP SUMMER BOREDOM BUSTER.

(Sadly, the Kindle edition of The Big Book of Girl Stuff doesn't have the same discount, but it's still pretty inexpensive at under $7.50.)

If the days of summer are starting to feel pretty long, this might be a fun diversion.

Buy now at Amazon: The Big Book of Boy Stuff (Kindle edition), $1.99

Amazon deals change quickly, so if you're interested, don't wait long.

07 July 2014

Let Amazon help you better navigate your local library

Amazon: We're Going on a Book Hunt Summertime is my favorite time at the library. This hack originally appeared in 2011, but it's the perfect time to bring it back to light. -- Asha

"I don't have anything to read!"

Such is the lament of a kid who speeds through books like I speed through magazines. I've got a quick reader, and his appetite for good material is insatiable.

I've already discovered the best reading hack of all -- our local library. The library has saved us hundreds of dollars on books my son reads in a matter of days, not to mention space and time that would have gone to storing and organizing those books.

The trick, however, is to find a good source of fresh material and recommendations. We live in Portland, Oregon, home of the famed independent bookstore Powell's, always a great source of staff recommendations. Our library has good librarians and booklists of all sorts. But what has worked best so far is to lean on Amazon's well-built "let us show you other things to spend your money on" functionality.

Specifically:

  1. We go to Amazon and search for a title my son loves.
  2. We then examine that book's page for leads to other, similar books (read on for details).
  3. We log onto the library website and put those books on hold and have them delivered to our local branch.
  4. As the books arrive my son reads them, noting which ones he liked best. (We might buy those, as he like to read favorite books over and over.)
  5. We plug new favorite titles back into Amazon to widen our search for new material.

Here's what we explore on a given Amazon book page:

The "Customers who bought this item also bought" and "Customers also bought books by" sections. These are the first places to hunt. We let the collective experience of other readers guide us to new books and authors we might like.

The reader reviews. People take the time to write amazing reviews on Amazon. Often they will compare the title to other books they've read. We've found many a book by reading a well-written review.

Listmania lists and reader guides. A Listmania list is a collection of books or Amazon products users put together by theme. A guide is a narrative version of the same thing. Both are good ways to seek out new titles.

Similar items by category and subject. Wide-ranging, but helpful.

The author link. We check out other books the author has written. Many children's book authors write in a number of genres, which is a good way to break out of a rut of say, fantasy novels.

So far our Amazon research has yielded a slew of new titles. Not all have panned out, but that's the beauty of checking them out at the library first. Also, the research skills my son is gaining are priceless.

How do you find new books for your kids to read?

04 July 2014

Turn a binder + pencil pouches into a portable travel play kit

Photo credit: Jen of Mama Papa Bubba

Jen of Mama Papa Bubba turned a binder and a set of pencil pouches into a sweet portable activity kit for little travelers. Click through to her post for the full how-to.

Her homemade toys would take a fair amount of time to make yourself, but you can easily use this idea as a jumping off point for simpler readymade kits. How about stickers + a few art supplies + index cards? Or a small toy collection?

Big thank you to Australian Doctor's Spouse Network for sharing this via Facebook using #parenthacks! The hashtag, you guys! It's working!

Got a hack to share? Post it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and add the hashtag #parenthacks. For more guidance, here's more detail on how to use the #parenthacks hashtag. 

03 July 2014

Have you seen the vacuum cleaner ponytail hack?

WHAT?!

While this might not be the most practical of parent hacks -- it would take me longer to drag the vacuum cleaner from the closet than it would to use the traditional comb-and-rubber-band method -- this man gets points for ingenuity, originality and entertainment value!

Hat tip to Shannon Carroll and Jim Lin for passing this gem along.

Got a hack? Post it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and add the hashtag #parenthacks. Here's the full scoop on how to use the #parenthacks hashtag.

02 July 2014

Should you force your kids into new activities?

Photo credit: Flickr/way2go

When Christine and I launched Minimalist Parenting, interviewers inevitably asked us:

But aren't you afraid "minimalist parenting" will lead to lazy, unmotivated kids?

It's not a bad question. How can kids come to know their capabilities without a push (sometimes a firm one) out of their comfort zones?

Kristen Howerton wrote a fantastic piece about why she forces her kids into new activities. In it she describes the trial-and-error results of signing her kids up for classes and sports they don't initially want to try. In some cases it was a bust, but in others, it opened doors to new interests and friendships.

Which brings me to Christine's and my response to interviewers: 

"Minimalist" is not the same as "minimal." 

Minimalist parenting begins with connecting with your own priorities and values and then developing the confidence to lead with those values no matter what other neighborhood families or "parenting experts" are saying. Or (in this case) what your kids are saying.

In the book, Christine shares the story of how her mom wouldn't let her quit violin lessons. It was maddening for Christine at the time, but she's grateful that her mother forced her to challenge herself. Not only did she go on to become an accomplished musician, she learned something important about pushing through "the dip."

Another crucial minimalist parenting mindset is the notion of flexible decision making. As we like to say:

Course correction beats perfection.

At any given time, we make the best parenting decisions we can based on the information we've got. If, later on, new information emerges that changes our thinking, we make adjustments. It's not wishy-washy -- it's smart.

From Kristen's post:

I feel like this is one of those tricky aspects of parenting. I want my kids to naturally fall into their passions, but I also know that sometimes they need a gentle nudge. If I was totally hands-off my kids would probably choose video games and candy as their passion. And while those things can be fun, I want them to dig a little deeper.

...It’s trial and error, and if it’s clear to me that something really isn’t a fit, I’m not above changing course. But I also think that sometimes, kids benefit from adults who are willing to make them stretch outside of their comfort zone.

What do you think? Are you pushing your kids to try new things this summer?

01 July 2014

Kill viruses on wooden toys by freezing them

If you've ever witnessed the single-minded furvor with which some toddlers play with their Thomas the Tank Engine train sets, this hack merits a spot in your regular rotation.

From Alexandra Isenberg on Instagram:

Best way to clean wooden toys (especially during cold season!) is to freeze them overnight. Wiping them works for dirt, but freezing them kills germs.

Why not throw the entire collection into a freezer bag and let them chill out together?

Thank you, Alexandra!

UPDATE: After some focused Googling (which I apologize for not having done BEFORE publishing this hack), I learned that while freezing kills dust mites and viruses, it does not kill bacteria. So, this hack might slow the spread of cold and flu germs, but it's not a method of sanitation.

Big thank you to Katherine in the comments for the reality check.

Got a hack to share? Post it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and add the hashtag #parenthacks. For more guidance, here's the full scoop on how to use the #parenthacks hashtag. 

30 June 2014

Use a marble jar and a timer to manage screen time

A brilliant way to manage screen time for your kids over the summer: The marble jar (Cool Mom Tech)

I first became familiar with the Marble Jar when my daughter was in preschool. The teacher used this simple, tactile reward system to help the class literally see and feel the results of their responsible behavior. So much more immediate than a star chart!

Cool Mom Tech upgrades the marble jar for use with older children just in time for summer: add a timer and a chore list and it becomes a straightforward way to connect responsibilities to screen time privileges (there's more to it: read the full post for details).

Another way to manage screen time: a simple point system that allows kids to collect screen time "currency" for finishing their chores.

How does your family manage screen time during the summer?

Photo credit: Cool Mom Tech

20 June 2014

Keep valuables hidden while at the beach by storing them in a rolled-up diaper "safe"

Keep valuables hidden at the beach by storing them in a rolled-up diaper

Not only is this a brilliant hack for keeping your valuables hidden, it's the funny setup for a scene in which would-be petty thieves unwrap poop-filled decoys on beaches all over the world.

Thanks for sharing, New Mom Thoughts!

(She found this uncredited photo in a Facebook group. If anyone knows who created it, please leave a comment so I can properly link up.)

Post your hacks on your favorite social media platform with the hashtag #parenthacks. For more guidance, here's the full scoop on using the #parenthacks hashtag.

11 June 2014

Summer fitness deal: structure + flexibility + $10 discount through Friday

Summer fitness! Easier in some ways (sun, warmth) but harder in others (lack of school year routine, vacation "breaks).

Aspire Fitness NW Summer Fitness Challenge

If you're looking for support, the next session of "Home Sweat Home" -- my friend Alisa's 8-week online strength training program -- is about to begin.

Alisa is a fabulous personal trainer and motivator extraordinaire, and her online "camp" is perfect for busy parents, fits into any summer schedule, and is an unbeatable value.

Home Sweat Home is $50 for 8 weeks, but through 6/13/14, get $10 off with the code SUNFUN.

That's three challenging video workouts per week, ongoing support, and access to a certified personal trainer for $5 per week.

An amazing deal, and a wonderful way to take care of yourself this summer.

Register now for the summer session of Home Sweat Home, and don't forget to use the code SUNFUN to grab your $10 discount.

09 June 2014

A new and better way to share a parent hack: #parenthacks

As I talked about in my "What's Next for Parent Hacks" post, parent hacks don't just live here -- they're circulating all over the Internet.

The trick is finding the good stuff.

Introducing #parenthacks

I'm moving the Parent Hacks submission process from email to social media. 

When you include #parenthacks with the tips or links you post on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media profile, I can find, curate and share your submissions here on the blog as I've always done.

Submit a hack to Parent Hacks #parenthacks

Why #parenthacks is better than email

1. It's easier.

Chances are you spend time in social media every day. By posting on your profile and tagging #parenthacks, you can hang out where you like while staying connected here.

2. You avoid my scary, scary inbox.

Honestly, I've been the bottleneck for a while now. If you've ever sent me a hack you've already seen my apologetic autoresponder. I've done my best to keep up, but I know I've let a lot of your great ideas slip by because I couldn't stay on top of my email.

(I probably should have hired someone to help me years ago, but to tell you the truth I didn't want to put a filter -- even a human one -- between us. Illogical and unproductive, but true.)

3. Your hack gets immediate airtime.

I've got searches set up on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and Tumblr and I check them every day. While I won't post everything that comes by (editorial privilege), I'll often share, retweet, reblog and regram.

What's cool: the #parenthacks "stream" on each social network will have its own personality. People talk and think differently in different places, so I predict each social network will inspire different conversations.

4. You get clearer credit.

I've always linked to hack contributors' blogs when they've asked me to. But now I can pass on your good ideas directly. Plus, many folks who have social media profiles don't have blogs.

If you've written up a hack on your blog, you can still share the link and tag it #parenthacks so I can find it.

5. You give someone else a vote of approval.

If you come across someone else's idea you think should get Parent Hacks attention and love, pass it along, tag it #parenthacks, and I'll credit you both.

6. You widen the conversation.

This is the biggest deal of all. When you post your hack in social media, others get involved in the conversation, giving you feedback, offering advice and help, possibly pointing you (and potentially all of us) to new solutions. 

Every time you use #parenthacks you encourage smart, helpful conversation about parenting.

The reason I started Parent Hacks was because I didn't see my experience reflected in the parenting advice of the time. Collective wisdom is powerful. Let's make our voices heard.

Every time we declare "here's what worked for me" we help other parents feel less alone.

The risks of using #parenthacks

This move isn't without risk. I'm not in control of #parenthacks as I am over the content and comments on this blog. Hashtags can get "highjacked" by people who want to make mischief or obnoxiously self-promote.

While I'll be participating on every channel, I don't intend to take on the role of Social Media Etiquette Officer.

But the benefits outweigh the risks. Sharing ideas is what social media is made for, and this community knows itself well enough to handle a few ruffians or overzealous promoters.

When I think of the good that could come from widespread intelligent, generous parenting conversation of the sort that's been happening here for years...well, I think it's worth the leap.

This is an experiment: let's see if we can make it work.

What qualifies as a parent hack

In case it's not clear, here's what a parent hack IS, followed by some examples:

1. A helpful tip or shortcut that simplifies life with kids.

In crowded places, Sharpie your cell phone number on your kid's belly. #parenthacks

#parenthacks WIN! The upside down crazy straw "locks" it in!

2. A clever, unexpected use for a household product.

Use a binder clip to cover the Home button on your iPad so the toddler won't keep pressing it. #parenthacks http://www.pinterest.com...

3. A link to a useful tip or conversation on the Web (yours or someone else's).

Via @Lifehacker: Cover the toilet autoflush sensor with toilet paper http://www.lifehacker.com... #parenthacks

4. A NON-PROMOTIONAL testimonial for a product or service you personally use and consider indispensable.*

The Wet Brush is the only way I can painlessly detangle my daughter's curly hair. thewetbrush.com #parenthacks

* Marketing and PR professionals, see #3 below.

What does NOT qualify as a parent hack

Please do not use #parenthacks for the following:

1. Snark, negative comments, drama or other jerky behavior

2. Blatant self-promotion

If you've got a great tip or recommendation written up on your blog, by all means, share it! But if you just want to grab the attention of the Parent Hacks community without earning it by contributing a relevant hack, please don't use #parenthacks. That sort of self-promotion never works -- in fact it harms you in both the short- and long-term.

3. Marketing or PR pitches

Products have always been part of Parent Hacks. Sometimes the right purchase really can make life easier (like my Wet Brush example above).

But I ask that you respect the intent of #parenthacks: authentic, helpful conversation and community. That means it's mostly non-commercial.

If you use #parenthacks simply to plug your product/service/website, it will reflect badly on you, your work, and your company. This savvy community sees right through superficial marketing tactics.

Also, I'll publicly call out companies and/or people who try to co-opt #parenthacks for irrelevant promotion.

If in doubt, you can always ask (tweet me at @parenthacks, message me on the Facebook page, or get in touch using the Parent Hacks submission form). I'm happy to clarify.

Submitting hacks if you don't use social media

If you're not a social media user, no problem; I've set up a submission form just for you. I'm using Tumblr's "Submit" form which lets you submit text, pictures, and other media. Plus, you have the great benefit of avoiding my email inbox.

Questions, comments, concerns?

Please leave a comment and let's talk about this.

04 June 2014

Why Blogging Isn't Dead for Me: Parent Hacks Then, Now, & Ahead

This is a continuation of my attempt to tell you what's next for Parent Hacks. Thank you for indulging my need to talk things out in order to get them clear in my head. 

If backstory's not your thing, feel free to skip to the "What's Ahead" section. But if you're interested in one writer's changing relationship to her work, read on.

In the beginning

In December 2005, I stayed up late 10 nights in a row and launched Parent Hacks.

Here's how my life looked then:

  • I had a six year-old son and a two year-old daughter.
  • I was on a break from writing to focus on the kids.
  • I was new enough to Portland that I didn't have much community.
  • Books and magazines were the main source of parenting information, and very little “expert advice” seemed to apply to my experience.
  • Parenting blogs were fairly new, mostly personal journals, and not widely read, except for Dooce.
  • There was no Facebook, Twitter or social media.
  • As a parent I felt in over my head, and, at times, lost.

Parent Hacks was my way of asking a simple question:

Is anyone else having a hard time with this parenting thing? 

I hoped for a response, and maybe even other (wiser? saner?) parents' suggestions for what was working for them.

I got a response. A big, smart, generous response.

Then

Over the next several years, parents sent in their tips, ideas and questions. We talked, sometimes in the blog comments, other times via email. Friendships and mentorships were born here.

Parent Hacks allowed me to be a part of an ongoing conversation that was practical, personal, and often about more than parenting. 

I came to understand that we all feel in over our heads at times. And, that we also have moments of genius and ingenuity. Sharing those moments made us all a bit smarter and helped us all breathe a bit easier.

This blog opened professional doors I never even knew existed, and introduced me to people I now consider some of my closest friends.

At the same time, my life got more complicated. My son's school experience and health skidded off the map. My husband founded an Internet startup (anyone with startup experience will deeply understand the demands this places on a family). My daughter, while healthy and happy, had developmental question marks of her own. 

I hit some scary lows while navigating that time. Doctors told us my son’s challenges were lifelong, and for a time the future was pretty murky.

(Guess what? Those challenges are so far behind us it's hard to remember them clearly.)

The Internet changed as well. How we use it, what we expect from it, its role in our lives.

In short, everything changed. But I kept writing, not always sure what I was doing. Sometimes this blog would go dormant for weeks while I wrestled with my offline demons. Your advice and companionship often kept me steady.

Now

Here's how life looks now:

  • In September, my son will start high school; my daughter, middle school.
  • My kids are thriving in school and life.
  • Portland is Home.
  • Startup life led to jobs at several fabulous companies and organizations for my husband, Rael.
  • The Internet is many parents' first stop for information and support. We can now look to each other as easily as we can look to "professionals."
  • Parenting conversation is happening in many forms (tweets, posts, articles, books, videos, podcasts) and on many levels, from individuals to media companies, from first-time parents to medical experts.
  • I feel grounded as a parent.

In 2005, Parent Hacks gave me the community I wished I'd had as a new mom. Today, the feedback and connection I longed for is available all over the Internet and social media. New parents can reach out, ask for help, share an idea (theirs or someone else's), and get a response. Parent hacks are circulating everywhere, even places like Mashable and Buzzfeed.  

Isn't that amazing? And wonderful?

Sure, the Internet and social media can be the source of overload, drama and plenty of crap. But we spend time here because we can share something real. The roles of writer and reader -- speaker and listener -- are more flexible than ever. 

THAT'S why I'm letting the "blogging is dead" funeral march pass me by. Blogs may no longer be at the cutting edge but the spirit behind them is alive and well. 

What's ahead

I've never been good at envisioning a plan and BOOM executing it. My entire career, including Parent Hacks, has been one intuited leap followed by another. Luckily a stepping stone always materialized before I fell into the river. ("Fell into" is the right phrase, because it describes pretty much every job I've ever held.)

It's been quiet around here because I wanted this next step to be more intentional. This site contains more than my words -- it holds years' worth of your contributions. I don't take that lightly.

Here's what's ahead.

More Parent Hacks: #parenthacks

The conversation we started nine years ago could only live on a blog, but today it can happen anywhere in social media. Parents are swapping ideas all over the place which is just what the Internet was made for.

At this point, asking you to submit your hacks to me just creates a bottleneck. I want to enable conversation, not choke it.

Social media is the perfect place to share hacks, so let's do it.

Post your hacks on your favorite social media profile and tag them with #parenthacks.

Facebook updates, Instagram photos, tweets, pins -- whatever -- if you include the #parenthacks hashtag in your update, I can find it.

As always, I'll curate and share hacks on the blog, but this way you can also follow the #parenthacks hashtag wherever you like to spend your time.

If you're not a social media user, you can still submit your hacks using this form.

Here are all the details about how and why to use #parenthacks, plus 6 reasons I think it's a very big deal.

More writing: a Parent Hacks book

I'm a much better writer and conversationalist than I am a "problogger" or entrepreneur. These last nine years have taught me plenty about my strengths and weaknesses. Much as I admire the women and men who've run with the business opportunities that have grown with the blogosphere, that's not where my passion (or skill) lies. 

Writing is my foundation, and conversation is my fuel. And so:

I've started writing my next book: a Parent Hacks book. 

It's more than a "best of Parent Hacks," which could be accomplished with a series of blog posts. This book is going to be something beautiful, something only possible with a book.

Over the years, I've had a number of opportunities to write a Parent Hacks book and I've always declined. This site represents much more than a pile of tips and distilling it into a book felt both static and redundant.

But the life of books has changed dramatically in the last couple years. I'm not just talking about the move toward ebooks; I'm talking about how books and the resulting Internet conversations now go hand-in-hand, each strengthening the other. Writing Minimalist Parenting with Christine showed me that in a powerful way.

That's just the beginning of the story. There's more, so much more. About why I'm doing this now, about the publisher and the amazing set of circumstances that brought us together, and about how I hope the book and this site will do something together neither could do alone.

I'll tell you everything in future posts. (This is already too long.)

I'm both excited and intimidated. In some ways this feels familiar, but it's also new territory. There's a lot for us to talk about.

More me: ashadornfest.com

Parent Hacks opened the door to friendships across the country. Isn't it funny that I feel like our kids have grown up together? And that we have, too?

The reason I've been able to do this for so long is because Parent Hacks isn't solely about me; you have more good ideas than I could ever have by myself and anyway the whole point here is collective wisdom.

And yet I find myself wanting to share in a more personal way than I have in the past. I want you to know me, and I want to know you -- as families and as people.

My kids are older now which means three things:

  • They can give their input and permission about the stuff I write about our family. In fact, they're asking to be more involved in my online life. This excites me no end.
  • I have a longer-term perspective on parenting than I did when I started blogging.
  • I have space in my life to explore new things.

Rather than clutter this site with my personal experiments and family photos, I'm rebooting my personal blog at ashadornfest.com.

That's right, old school blogging! Back to the future!

Let me tell you, setting up a blog today is way different than it was 10 years ago. I'm a little out of my depth, but it's totally fun to be a newbie again.

I'll invite you over as soon as it's live.

Is she done yet?

Phew. I hope I haven't completely exhausted your patience. Thank you for putting up with my wordiness and need to process.

If you have questions, thoughts, musings, memories, suggestions, concerns, ANYTHING -- even if you just want to go BLAAHHHHH like I just did -- I'd love to hear it in the comments. If you've never commented before, now's the perfect moment to start.

Here's to the next thing together. Thank you for this. I LOVE YOU GUYS. *sigh* *ice cream for everyone*

20 May 2014

Useful or not: touchless flush for home toilets

Touchless toilet flush: useful or not?

I just received a product pitch as a potential hack: a kit that adds a touchless flush sensor to home toilets. You wave your hand in front of the sensor and the toilet flushes. No touching handles.

Part of me thinks this could be a fine hack, but another part of me thinks hmmmmm.

Useful or not? I'm asking for your honest opinion here. Should I review the touchless toilet flush kit for Parent Hacks?

I've started a "Useful or not?" Pinterest board for products that skirt the line between helpful and clutter. It's not always obvious, and the answers are different for everyone.

16 May 2014

The prologue to the introduction to the next chapter

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 12.39.42 PM

I spent last week writing a post about what's next for Parent Hacks. The post is crap. Seriously, it sucks. Be glad I didn't publish it.

I then went offline for three days to chaperone my daughter's camp field trip in the Oregon desert. It was an amazing experience: high desert ecology, 5th grade social dynamics (whoa), fossils, rattlesnakes, hanging out with my kid (whoa), plus my first dramatic injury. (I look like I've been in a barroom brawl.)

I'm back. I have a dentist appointment. Injury isn't serious, and I've got a good story to tell. All is well.

Usually time away unlocks my thoughts, connects the dots and helps the words flow, but I'm standing here speechless as before.

I think a single post about "what's next" just can't hold all that I'm feeling right now -- about you, about what we've created here together, about how today's Internet (as opposed to the Internet of 2005, when I launched Parent Hacks) makes parenting both easier and harder, and about how I fit into all that now.

* * * * *

Two things happened recently that set some deep part of me on fire: I attended the Portland show of Listen To Your Mother, and I got the special Teen edition of Brain, Child Magazine. Both, filled with stories, beautiful, important stories.

I felt so proud, not because I was on stage or in the magazine. I felt proud of US, all of us, who are here, talking about what it's really like raising our children. Telling our stories, responding, sharing, comforting, challenging and sometimes, just listening. I've been doing a lot of listening these days.

It's so important, this dialogue. I think it's the most important thing we can do here.

* * * * *

1. I am so grateful and excited to be here with you, now.

2. More than anything else, I want my work to be helpful. I want Parent Hacks to contribute something worthwhile. How that looks is different than it was in 2005.

3. I'm writing a new book, and I can't wait to tell you about it because really, it's our book.

The story continues: Why Blogging Isn't Dead for Me: Parent Hacks Then, Now & Ahead

11 May 2014

Happy Mother's Day, friends

Photo credit: Flower by Solarisgirl/Flickr

I hope you've got special plans today.

Maybe your family has planned something...or not. Maybe they're scrambling because they forgot. Maybe none of you are the planning types.

It doesn't matter. Take a deep breath and embrace this day as yours.

Listen to something uplifting or funny. If you're lucky enough to be in one of the 32 cities staging showings of Listen To Your Mother, grab a ticket and go. (I'll be cheering in the audience at the Portland show this afternoon.)

Eat something delicious.

Look at something beautiful.

Wear something that makes you feel like you. Pretty dress, pajamas, hiking boots, whatever.

Know, deep inside, you are important, appreciated, and loved.

Photo credit: Flickr/Solarisgirl

14 July 2014

GIVEAWAY: Tickets to the Portland screening of BOYHOOD

It's one thing to make a movie. It's another to do something completely new with the medium. From the promotional material for BOYHOOD: Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named...

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07 July 2014

07 July 2014

Let Amazon help you better navigate your local library

I've already discovered the best reading hack of all -- our local library. The trick is to find a quick source of new material and recommendations...

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04 July 2014

Turn a binder + pencil pouches into a portable travel play kit

Jen of Mama Papa Bubba turned a binder and a set of pencil pouches into a sweet portable activity kit for little travelers.

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03 July 2014

02 July 2014

Should you force your kids into new activities?

When Christine and I launched Minimalist Parenting, interviewers inevitably asked us: But aren't you afraid "minimalist parenting" will lead to lazy, unmotivated kids? It's not a bad question. How can kids come to know their capabilities without a push (sometimes a firm one) out of their comfort zones? Kristen Howerton...

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01 July 2014

Kill viruses on wooden toys by freezing them

If you've ever witnessed the single-minded furvor with which some toddlers play with their Thomas the Tank Engine train sets, this hack merits a spot in your regular rotation.

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ALL hacks in July 2014 →

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Asha's Book

  • At Amazon: Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less

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