Light a Candle at Your Own Risk

I love candles. I burn them year round and have them lit almost every night. I love the warm glow of the flame, the way they light up a room and how the smell can take you to a specific memory or just make your home smell like the season.

Through my “going green” adventure last year one of the things that caught my attention is how harmful candles can actually be for us and the air quality of our home. I never really thought twice about this and what I read made me vow to never purchase any of these candles again. The article below (as well as other research) is what changed my mind about burning candles that were now 100% all natural.

Danger from Everyday Candles?
by Life Holistic

Did you know that most candles are made from the sludge in the bottom of a barrel of oil which is bleached and texturized with a chemical called acrolein?

They’re called paraffin candles and burning one puts all the same horrible toxins and carcinogens (cancer causing agents) into the air in your home that burning diesel fuel in your home would.

The National Candle Association estimates that more than 7 million people in the US alone burn candles every year.

By Gary B.
But testing by the EPA has confirmed that those candles, and the smoke and soot they give off, contain several dangerous chemicals in significant quantities. These chemicals include known or probable carcinogens, neurotoxins and reproductive toxins.

The American Lung Association also warns that burning paraffin candles can emit toxins (in measurable amounts) into your home’s air.

It might shock you to learn that after burning just a few paraffin candles in your home, the overall effect on the quality of the air in your home could be worse than the air in major cities like Los Angeles!

Not only is your health affected, but the health of your pets and children as well.

Cathy Flanders who has been at the forefront of addressing health and safety issues involving candles says, “With the current ‘candle-craze’ and increased candle burning in homes, expectant Moms need to be aware of the fact that the emissions from some candles are toxic, reproductive toxins, neuro-toxins and/or carcinogens. This has been a growing cause for concern for the EPA and children’s health agencies.”

And it might hit your pocket book soon too. Not only is the price of oil spiraling out of control, but you might have a nasty surprise the next time you go to renew your homeowners insurance.

The NIA Group (Insurance and Financial Services) lists the following problems with paraffin candles in an article on their website:

1) Reduces the internal air quality in your home.

2) Damage by particulate deposits on interior and exterior walls, carpets, furniture, appliances, window treatments, floors and other surfaces.

3) Contributes to health problems from inhaling particulate matter or ingesting harmful chemicals.

4) Spews hazardous chemicals that are either in the paraffin wax, the wick, or are present when paraffin wax is burned….Acetone, Benzene, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Toluene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene and Lead

They go on to say…

“Another surprise is that the candle-making industry is not required to tell consumers about the ingredients used in their products, including when a wick is used which contains a lead core.”

No one knows for sure if paraffin candles cause cancer, but there are at least 4 cancer-causing chemicals associated with paraffin candles.

The EPA lists these chemicals on their website:

1) Benzene (EPA classification as Group A, known human carcinogen).

2) Carbon Tetrachloride (EPA classification as Group B2 probable human carcinogen).

3) Trichloroethane (EPA classification as Group C, possible human carcinogen).

4) Toluene (EPA classification as Group B2 probable human carcinogen).

Would you burn animal fat in your home?

Most of us would answer an emphatic No! or Yuck! to that question, but like something straight out of a horror movie, you might react in horror to realize that you probably are burning animal fat in your home when you burn paraffin candles.

That’s because many paraffin candles contain large amounts of animal fats to give them a more textured or rustic look.

So what’s the alternative?

Believe it or not, the answer comes from soybeans.

The soy plant produces a waxy substance that not only burns cooler, but can burn up to 50% longer than paraffin wax.

Since soy wax is derived from plants, its a renewable resource that’s a pleasure for candle makers to work with.

Some of the surprising benefits of soy candles include:

* Burn with no toxins, carcinogens or choking soot.
* Burn up to 50% longer than paraffin candles.
* Cruelty-free, contain no animal fats.
* Non-toxic, biodegradable, derived from a renewable resource.
* Cleans up easily with soap and hot water.
* Better for the environment.
* Use no nasty chemicals to release fragrance.
* Supports the American farmer – not foreign oil.

As more and more people learn about the harmful effects of burning paraffin candles in their homes, they’re substituting soy candles with surprising results.

For the holidays and winter season I love to burn pine scented candles. Since I wasn’t buying them anymore I decided to make them. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it actually was.

I melted soy wax on the stove in a double boiler, added 100% organic pine essential oil and poured it into a mason jar. It was that easy. I also made a sandalwood candle for Tom to light when he does his morning meditations. Added some paper around the jar, tied a bow and voila, a pretty homemade, sandalwood scented candle.

 

Goodbye and Thank You 2011

Over all I would have to say this year has been an excellent year for us. We did, after all, welcome our newest addition to the family… Ms. Ava Rose. I feel comfortable saying goodbye to this year and very ready to start 2012.

In 2011 I made the resolution to explore my spirituality side and lead a healthier lifestyle for myself and family. By no means are these resolutions over. They will continue for the rest of my life, but at least this year I did get the ball rolling. I didn’t explore spirituality as much as I would have liked (goal for 2012…more focus on it), but I do feel like we’ve made great changes in our lifestyle.

  • We have stopped eating meat and cut back on dairy products
  • We eat more organic and local produce
  • We now use eco-friendly/organic cleaning and toiletry products (store-bought or we make our own)
  • We use reusable grocery bags
  • We buy second-hand when possible
  • We recycle
  • We use cloth diapers or eco-friendly ones (love Nature Babycare products)
  • We joined our local Nature Center to have another outlet to enjoy nature
  • Mindful parenting

These changes, will of course, be ongoing. In addition to these I would like to add a few for 2012.

  • Make our home more energy sufficient
  • Have a more successful summer/fall garden to eat from
  • Simplify our living by – organizing and getting rid of any unused items in our house, put ourselves on a more strict budget, etc…
  • Spend more time in nature
  • Explore spirituality as a family
  • Start more family traditions around the seasons, holidays and for no good reason at all

So long 2011. Thank you for being good to us. Bring it 2012.

Our 2011

January – Lila turned 2 and I turned 30 something. We share the same birthday.

February – We welcomed a new pet into our family. Lila named the fish Happy.

March -We welcomed Spring with some flower planting.

April – Lila met the Easter Bunny.

May – We had our photo shoot pre-Ava.

June – We finished Lila’s “big girl” room and started the nursery.

July – We welcomed Ava Rose on July 4th!

August – Lila introduced her favorite place, the Nature Center, to her baby sister.

September – We had a blessing for both the girls at our family cabin.

October – Both girls enjoyed their Halloween…our little pirate and ladybug!

November – Both girls wore matching sweaters for Thanksgiving.

December – Ava enjoyed meeting Santa for the first time. Lila did not enjoy seeing Santa for the third time.

Celebrate Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice!


Solstice means the sun stands still. The winter solstice is the day when the midday sun is at its lowest point above the horizon. There’s a lot to love about these chilly winter months — an excuse to curl up inside and read a book all weekend, eat yummy warm foods, and wear big comfy sweaters, jeans and boots.

In celebration of the winter solstice, I’ve put together some fun activities for this season. So pull out those attractive puffy winter jackets and look forward to a snow day. Winter is upon us.

Get outside! Snow or not, enjoy what the season has to offer!

  • Build a snowman
  • Go sledding
  • Snowball fight
  • Ice skating
  • Skiing
  • Snow angels
  • Go on a walk
  • Bird watch – what birds are now visiting you for the winter season?

Stay inside and enjoy the darkness!

  • Sip hot cocoa
  • Cozy blankets
  • Read that book you’ve been meaning to get to
  • Warm fires
  • Family/friends game nights
  • Family/friends movie nights
  • Arts and Crafts — make paper snowflakes and decorate inside with them
  • Cooking yummy soups and stews
  • Baking breads and cookies
  • Have a candlelight dinner

Winter Solstice book suggestions (for kids):

  • The Winter Solstice, by Ellen Jackson
  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice, by Wendy Pfeffer
  • A Solstice Tree for Jenny, by Karen Shragg
  • The Winter Book, by Rotraut Susanne Berner
  • We Gather Together, by Wendy Pfeffer
  • Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations around the World, by Heather Conrad
  • A Winter Solstice Celebration, by Didi LeMay
  • Winter Moon, by Jean Craighead George

Here are some fun links that offer other ideas for Winter Solstice activities for the kids.

A Social Network Christmas

This morning at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) our mentor mom showed us this video. I thought it was great. Whether you are a believer of Jesus or not, I think you’ll get a kick out of this video.

O Christmas Tree

Christmas Traditions, Christmas Trees and Christmas Pj’s!

Every Christmas since Tom and I have been together (that would be 6 of them) we have always had a real tree. I loved it when we lived in Chicago. We would walk to the nearest tree lot, pick our tree, and both of us carry or drag, maybe a little of both, the tree home. We would then decorate it, while listening to Christmas music, noshing and drinking a delicious red wine, and fighting the dogs for the ornaments. Our first year here in Cincinnati we did not get a tree because we were traveling. Last year we drove to the nearest lot with Lila and picked out the perfect tree. We then came home, turned on Christmas music and decorated the tree with Lila helping (sort of). Until this year we always had a tree that was tall, perfectly triangular and had no holes. It would be draped in white lights with red and silver ornaments. We started adding non red and silver ornaments when Lila was born when we had to get the traditional My First Christmas ornament and also when she would see the singing Elmo ornament in the store that would look “just perfect on the tree mommy!”

This year our new traditions started. With the edition of Ava to our family and Lila really being old enough to understand and enjoy a tradition we set out to make one. New tradition number one: Christmas tree, Christmas pj’s and Christmas ornament – all in one.

Tom and Lila went to our local Christmas tree farm. They skimmed rows and rows for the perfect tree. Lila had spotted a few that were, well, not so great, so Tom tried to steer her towards a few that were in better shape.

Finally she picked one and Tom agreed. It wasn’t perfect but it was branchless either.

Tom chopped it down and they brought it home.

Lila jumped out of the truck dancing that they found the tree.

I really wanted them to have matching Christmas pajamas to wear Christmas morning but didn’t want to wait until then to give it to them. So we decided every year when we decorate the tree the girls can open their first present – holiday pajamas. Then they can open their second present – their yearly traditional ornament. The idea is that we would all wear our pjs (Tom and I would not be matching…sorry.), listen to Christmas music and decorate the tree. There will probably be hot cocoa involved and hopefully a little vino.

So unfortunately I couldn’t find matching pjs for the girls both they both received their new Christmas pjs to wear during the decorating festivities.And Ava poses by her first ornament, of course!

While Lila did enjoy decorating the tree I think she enjoyed taking everything out of the boxes and playing with them more. Maybe next year it won’t be so much Tom and I hanging the ornaments but all of us.

She was finally satisfied when it was time to add the tree topper, our big red star!

Our Christmas tree went from being a perfect stylish white, red and silver tree to now a not-so-perfect, multicolored, miscellaneous Christmas tree. We call it our family tree.

Holiday Cleaning, the All-Natural Way

It’s the holiday season. Which means shopping, wrapping, cooking, decorating, attending parties, hosting parties and cleaning. Whew. As though we don’t have enough to do already.

In previous posts I gave options for “greening” your holiday cooking, decorations and presents. Now I’d like to talk about how to clean our homes with environmentally friendly and safe for our family cleaning products. Most of them we have in our homes already.

Here are a few cleaning recipes that I’ve been trying around the house and so far, so good.

All-Purpose Cleaner
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp. baking soda
1/4 gallon (1 liter) hot water
A few drops of essential oil for scent (optional)
Mix all ingredients in a bucket, stir, and let it cool for a few minutes then pour it into a spray bottle.

Furniture Polish
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle. Be sure to shake well before use. If you have extra left over store it in the refrigerator because of the lemon juice. It could sour. Tip: only use this solution on unvarnished wood furniture.

Glass Cleaner
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp. liquid soap (I love Dr. Bronners Castile Soap)
2 cups water
A few drops of essential oil (lemon cuts grease well)
Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Using crumpled newspaper works best to clean the surface.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda
Mix ingredients and pour into toilet. Let it sit for a few minute, and then scrub with a toilet brush and flush.

Some essential oils I like to add for scent and disinfecting are Tea Tree oil, Lemongrass oil, Lemon or Orange oil.

Please see previous post Green Your Spring Cleaning for more natural cleaning ideas and solutions.

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Olive Oil and Rosemary

We made this soup yesterday. We made it in the slow cooker and let it cook all day. It was very easy, healthy and delicious!

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Olive Oil and Rosemary
Serves 4-6


2 cups dried white beans (great northern, cannellini, “navy,” lima)
6 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
salt (I always start with a minimum of 1 tablespoon and go from there)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Rinse the beans thoroughly and place them in a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker along with the water, onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours, or until the beans are nice and tender.

If cooking on the stovetop, plan ahead.  You’ll need to soak the beans overnight, covered by three inches of water. In the morning, drain and rinse. Add beans to the water, onion, garlic and bay leaf, bring to just a boil, then lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Remove the bay leaf.  Using a handheld immersion blender (much safer than trying to pour all of the hot ingredients into a blender!), puree the remaining ingredients to the desired texture.  Add salt to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on some fresh rosemary and Parmesan.

Thanks Yoga Journal!

Good Day/Bad Day

Wednesday’s Top Ten
from a mom’s point-of-view

  1. I started my day playing castle with Lila. The Linney was queen, Tuck was king and Ming Ming was princess (all the Wonder Pets). Pirate Mickey stopped by for lunch. They had corn and grapes.
  2. Went to Michaels and Hobby Lobby with both girls. Bad idea.
  3. The cart was almost too small to hold Ava’s car seat and definitely to fit the car seat, the diaper bag, our coats, what we were buying AND Lila. But she insisted and somehow Supermom came out and I made it work. Let’s just say you couldn’t tell Lila was in there.
  4. Michaels aisles were NOT made for carts, let alone carts with baby car seats and toddlers.
  5. I did not find one thing on my list that I went to get between both stores. However, I did find some cute decorations for Lila’s birthday party in January…all reusable!
  6. I hung our Christmas lights outside. The fresh air did wonders after my not-so-wonderful shopping trip. Lila put on 2 different hats and mismatching gloves, pjs, and rain boots and sat out to watch.
  7. I received a package. A HUGE bag of meal worms for our lovely bluebirds. I put some out and they were here instantly. Love it. Tip: ordering in bulk online is way more cost-effective than buying a little bag from the local bird store.
  8. Ava was in the best mood I had seen her in. She was smiley, giggly, cuddly and so adorable. I couldn’t stop kissing those squishy cheeks.
  9. Lila and I butted heads. She was put in quiet time for the first time. She didn’t understand it. I told her she had to sit on the steps quietly until she calmed down and that she wasn’t listening to what I was saying. She told me she didn’t have to.
  10. I put myself in a time out to calm down.

Ways to Green Up Your Holiday Season part 3

This is our first Christmas as vegetarians. I think I will make our Christmas dinner. This is huge because Tom is the cook in our family. With it being just the four of us and no meat to cook how can I go wrong, right?!?! Well, I’ll keep you posted. I’m starting now to look for recipes that deserve to be our first vegetarian holiday meal. Our local farm sent out an email with recipes using their produce that’s available. I think I’ll start there. So to “green” up our holiday meal I am using local food, being sustainable and supporting the small farmer. Not bad for the first one, eh?

With our adventure in going green this year I’m challenging myself to bring that into our holiday season as well. I’ve started researching ways to  “green my holiday” and thought I’d share links and resources that I have found helpful with information or good ideas. Please feel free to share how you plan to green your holiday season.

Here is part 3 of just a few tips along with links and resources on how to minimize, simplify, save and go green this holiday season.

Holiday Meal Planning

Add organic or local grown foods to your holiday menu and cocktail list.
Eat Well Guide
Organic Cocktail Recipes
Sustainable Eats

Here are the ingredients I have to work with for our holiday dinner – Turner Farms.

Other resources

Eco-friendly Christmas

Organized Christmas

For the Birds

This Weeks Nature Activity

While we are all stocking up our cupboards for the winter months lets not forget our little feather friends outside. Whether it’s a simple bird feeder or a handmade suet cake the birds will appreciate the extra food left out for them.

Pine Cone Suet Bird Feeders

The kids will have a lot of fun making these feeders and even more fun hanging them up.

Supplies list as follows:
Pinecones
string
1/2 cup suet
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups corn meal
2-3 TBSP water
1/2 cup of peanut butter
birdseed
1/4 cup of dried fruit, or seeds (optional)

Mix the suet, vegetable shortening and the cornmeal together add the nuts/dried fruit to the mixture, add the water as needed, you don’t want the mixture too crumbly or it won’t stick to the pine cone.

Cut enough string, about an arms length, for as many pine cones as you will use. Tie the
string onto the end of the pine cone; make sure the string has a loop on the other end to hang on the tree.

Spread a little peanut butter on the pine cone, it acts like glue, then cover the pine cone in the suet/shortening/corn meal mixture.

Finally roll the pine cone in the birdseed while pressing the birdseed into the pine cone to make sure it sticks.

You are ready to hang the pine cone feeder outside on a branch.

Squash Stew

 

 

This veg version of an Argentinean stew (carbonada criolla) is perfect for when the weather turns chilly. The filling can be made up to two days ahead, then baked in acorn squash shells just before serving.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 6 dried pitted apricots
  • 4 dried pitted prunes
  • 6 small acorn or butternut squash
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for coating squash
  • 1 small Spanish onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 14.5-oz. can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved
  • 1 small Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced (1 cup)
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Directions

1. Place apricots and prunes in bowl, and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Soak 2 hours, or overnight. Drain, and coarsely chop fruit, reserving liquid.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut circular opening in squash tops, and reserve tops. Cut small slices off bottoms of squash so they stand up straight. Scoop out and discard seeds and fiber from squash. Rub outsides of squash shells and lids with oil, and place on prepared baking sheet.

3. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and oregano; sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and tomatoes and juice; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add potato, sweet potato, and reserved apricot-prune soaking liquid, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes are almost soft. Add corn and apricot-prune mixture, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more. Add beans, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 5 minutes more.

4. Ladle 1 cup stew into each hollowed squash; place lid on top. Bake 60 to 90 minutes, or until fork can easily pierce through squash.

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/

Celebrate Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today, I am thankful. I am thankful for…the love of my life, my girls, family, laughter and happiness. Today, and every day, I am thankful for my life.

November
23rd – for time with my mother-in-law.
22nd – for the beautiful scenery on our drive through Kentucky.
21st – for some one on one time with Ava. There’s nothing like biting those squishy cheeks.
20th – for a few minutes of skyping with my brother.
19th – for the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes when she walked in the Disney Store.
18th – for the creativity Lila has. Such a storyteller!
17th – for an early morning dance party with the girls. Yep, only awake 45 min and already partying. That’s how we roll. LOL.
16th – for Lila’s 3 hour nap.
15th – for falling asleep to a thunderstorm last night.
14th – that my husband was able to come home early to be with the girls while I was sick.
13th – for our family meal, even if it was ordered pizza eaten picnic style in the living room in front of a football game.
12th – for hearing the laughter of my two girls.
11th – for the veterans! Thank you to all who have served.
10th – for time spent with a wonderful friend.
9th – for my beautiful friends at my MOPS group.
8th – for the sunshine and the few minutes to do yard work.
7th – that Lila was excited to go to school and cooperated with me while getting ready.
6th – for the pancake breakfast with my family.
5th – for the beautiful sunny afternoon with my family.
4th – for the roof over my head.
3rd – for my health.
2nd – for my beautiful girls.
1st – for my husband.

What are you thankful for today? What’s the best thing that has happened to you today? Whether it be large or small, be grateful.

Gratitude is heaven itself.
~ William Blake

Ways to Green Up Your Holiday Season part 2

With our adventure in going green this year I’m challenging myself to bring that into our holiday season as well. I’ve started researching ways to  “green my holiday” and thought I’d share links and resources that I have found helpful with information or good ideas. Please feel free to share how you plan to green your holiday season.

 
Here is part 2 of a few tips along with links and resources on how to minimize, simplify, save and go green this holiday season.

Holiday Decorating

  • Buy energy-saving holiday lights.
    LED Christmas Lights
  • Make your own decorations
    11 Natural Holiday Decorating Tips
  • Have a decorations swap to get gently used new ones for your home.
  • Support local tree farms and get your Christmas tree from them. Make sure it was grown without pesticides. Plastic trees are made with PVC.
  • Recycle your Christmas tree.
    Earth911

Other resources

Eco-friendly Christmas

Organized Christmas

I Am Thankful.

November
23rd – for time with my mother-in-law.
22nd – for the beautiful scenery on our drive through Kentucky.
21st – for some one on one time with Ava. There’s nothing like biting those squishy cheeks.
20th – for a few minutes of skyping with my brother.
19th – for the sparkle in my daughter’s eyes when she walked in the Disney Store.
18th – for the creativity Lila has. Such a storyteller!
17th – for an early morning dance party with the girls. Yep, only awake 45 min and already partying. That’s how we roll. LOL.
16th – for Lila’s 3 hour nap.
15th – for falling asleep to a thunderstorm last night.
14th – that my husband was able to come home early to be with the girls while I was sick.
13th – for our family meal, even if it was ordered pizza eaten picnic style in the living room in front of a football game.
12th – for hearing the laughter of my two girls.
11th – for the veterans! Thank you to all who have served.
10th – for time spent with a wonderful friend.
9th – for my beautiful friends at my MOPS group.
8th – for the sunshine and the few minutes to do yard work.
7th – that Lila was excited to go to school and cooperated with me while getting ready.
6th – for the pancake breakfast with my family.
5th – for the beautiful sunny afternoon with my family.
4th – for the roof over my head.
3rd – for my health.
2nd – for my beautiful girls.
1st – for my husband.

What are you thankful for today? What’s the best thing that has happened to you today? Whether it be large or small, be grateful.

Gratitude is heaven itself.
~ William Blake

10 Ways to Show Gratitude as a Family

Every day as I’ve been thinking about what I’m grateful for I’ll also ask Lila. Now she’s only two so I don’t expect too much. I try to explain what it means to be grateful, but not sure how much she actually understands. Her answers always seem to be the things that are right in front of her, like Maia (our dog) or The Wonder Pets, which happened to be on tv at that moment. She’ll eventually get it. I just asked Ava what she was thankful for and she gave me a look and continued to chew on her toy. Now she’s only four months so that is a good enough response for me. Doesn’t hurt to start early🙂

We are one week away from Thanksgiving.
Here are ten ways to show gratitude as a family.

  1. Thank your partner for everyday thoughtfulness – in front of your kids.
  2. Change gears and rethink what might otherwise be a complaint. Help your children practice giving thanks rather than complaining.
  3. Begin family dinners by thanking someone at the table for a special kindness they have shown you.
  4. Start your children on the wonderful habit of looking the person they are thanking right in the eye.
  5. Frequently remind your kids how grateful you are that they were born.
  6. Thank-you notes never go out of style. Even the youngest child can draw a picture or dictate a note. Thank-you notes don’t have to be just for gifts.
  7. Begin the magical tradition of a “thank-you fairy,” who leaves little goodies and notes for jobs well done.
  8. Go the extra mile to thank the people in your life – from the dry-cleaning lady to the guy who bags your groceries. Your kids are watching.
  9. Be thankful for your friends and let them know how you feel. Ask your kids to come up with specific ways to appreciate and acknowledge their friends.
  10. Thank God right out loud when you are moved to do so. “Thank you God for this glorious morning.”

Busy But Balanced by Mimi Doe