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Tips & Tricks

Flying Favorites

Mia Choate

When it comes to flying, packing airport and plane goodies is my survival plan. With more than a dozen flights under their belts (including one fully boarded Bermuda bound leg, delayed for an hour at the gate, then 12 hours in overnight at a Holiday Inn Express in Queens!) … it hasn’t failed me yet; they’ve become a fun part of our flying Traditions.

We’ve recently retired our rolling-stuffed-animal suitcases for “Portfolio Bags” which are light, have handles, are thin, water resistant and zip. They hold all of my ‘tricks’ for seamless and fun flights: as well as i-pads, and ear-buds, and stash perfectly under the seat ahead of you. They’ll be the best $10 you’ll ever spend on Amazon. A quick snip of the odd “thank you for my everyday. winner!” pleather-label, some hot-glue and sequins … and they’re good to go.

We’ve flown with decks of cards since the big-girls were little: littler ones love the feel, laugh hysterically at the two-thumb-shuffle. Older kids can make pairs, play math-war, and even Go Fish! I swear by magnetic play-sets and games: Hang Man for our budding speller, ‘On The Farm’ for our littlest, and Tangrams for our pattern-sleuth, are all coming with us on this trip. Checkers, Chess and fuzzy pens, colored pencils, blank-notepads, markers, dry-erase boards and markers, coloring-books, sticker-books, ‘mystery bags’ … and no flight is complete without Purell wipes.

A fun straw-for little ones who need to pop their ears, or 5 pack-of bubble gum are also great to include. Tissues, their favorite books (the next in a series their reading is always a fun surprise!), look-and-find and behind-the-flap board books, too!

For littler flyers, consider loosely wrapping (no tape or perfect corners!) each item in tissue paper. Everything at once can be overwhelming and opening something every half hour or so helps if you’re on a long flight or have a long delay.

Let me know if I’ve missed anything that you love and use, below!


Saying Thanks, at Seven

Mia Choate

The importance of taking time to say thank you, was instilled in me by my Mom from a very early age. My Mom writes the kind of thank you notes that people keep. Her stationery has always been flawless: simple and monogrammed or a classic all-cap. She has the perfect handwriting of a Catholic School pupil: sweeping cursive words that read like a song. Instilling this tradition, and routine, in my girls, is incredibly important to me. What you're teaching them, is to be grateful. And to say it. Piper turned seven at the end of May. We've had a list of thank-yous to write since then, and while the tags are off, the toys have been played with, Lego set's built ... the notes, remained unwritten. 

So here's what we did. Piper and I went over the sweet list of gifts she received from her friends. We wrote the "body" of her thank-you notes to be somewhat all-covering. Friends who gave her a singular gift: their cards say, "thank you for my awesome gift." ... friends who gave her a few things, their cards say, "thank you for my awesome gifts!" In a few cases, friends who couldn't attend made THE most special side celebrations for her. For them, we thanked them for each celebration, separately and specifically. Everything she wanted to write, we included.

We decided how many we needed of each, and printed them ... in grey ink. She picked the font, she picked the wording of her name, and made sure the dolphin matched the theme of her party. She was involved in every single step ... of saying "thank you." This morning, after breakfast, with a pencil (to match the grey ink, and for it's erase-a-bility), she wrote in the "Dear _______," and signed them "Love, Piper" As she completed each card, she brought up the gift that person had gifted her. It was like she was opening them all, again. 

And, she was doubly grateful. 

Are these a work-around? Definitely. Are these swooping little letters, saying thanks ... twenty-three times? Definitely Not. But, they are a small step in teaching her this practice that she'll continue to use all throughout her life. This afternoon, I'll address them and she'll put the stamps on, run them to the mailbox and maybe, just maybe, she'll high-five me when she gets back inside. Seven-year-olds, she tells me, don't really high-five as much as six-year olds do.