Thursday, September 23, 2010

Follower Alert - New BLOG address

This BLOG will remain as an archive. However, all new posts will be taking place at:

There is a link back to this archive BLOG from the main BLOG so if you ever need to look up any past posts it will be easy to do from there.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How Do You Celebrate Your Thanks?

If your family has a story to share about how you share your
thankfulness for the earth please share - I would love to be inspired by
you all - I know so many of you and you already inspire me. I will be
reading the stories you send to my children this Thanksgiving.

One of our stories is below...

I'll share something very personal with you - in the past five years we
"almost" became homeless twice. It is amazing how quickly it can happen
to someone and how hard it can be to find help. I was fortunate enough,
in both circumstances to be saved - literally at the last moment - by a
blessing. However, these experiences, combined with living overseas for
16 years and seeing the face of poverty in different countries - have
made poverty issues one of my main concerns (along with the environment
and empowering people to heal themselves). We give thanks every day that
we have a home, good food, clothing, and even some extras like pets and
an Ipod. At the same time I am shocked by the state of people in America
- how easy it is for credit card companies and banks to "rob" hard
working Americans, how easy it is to lose a job and how hard it is to
earn enough to pay for all the family needs - and how easy it would be
for anyone to slip from the blessed ones who have a home and job into
the crowds of those who don't - it is very easy and can happen in an

I remember last year my son asked me "Mom, if they charge so much for
gas, why don't gas stations look like palaces? Why are they so small and
not very good?"

That statement says so much. WOW. It is symbolic of how so many big
businesses focus on earning rather than on being fair. Although there
has been a slight rise in worker owned businesses
( Every day I try to remind myself
and my children not to function like that. But it is so hard. We are
ingrained, from childhood, and trained by ads and by alluring magazines
and displays at stores to always "want more". We are trying, as a family
to think differently. We already have everything we need. Really. We
have a home, food, clothing and plenty of books and toys. Logically,
then, we should be distributing our extra instead of making Christmas
lists of "what we want". It is a hard habit to break, but I feel it is
worth the effort. If we can all try to distribute more and consume less,
I imagine that it might reduce the poverty of a great number of people -
some of these people may even be our friends and relatives. Every time I
am tempted to purchase that $5.00 "extra" at the store I think - what
could someone else do with this money?

That is why, this Thanksgiving, we will be volunteering at a homeless
shelter instead of preparing a lavish feast. Now, don't get me wrong -
if we had a large family nearby or a gathering to travel to that was
close enough to travel to - we would be there - the gathering of family
is an amazingly important event and honorable and great tradition to
hold. However, we are unable to travel this year so, it being only I and
the three children, we feel the energy and food would be better shared
with others.

A friend of mine, who is a teacher, also sent me a wonderful curriculum
plan she is using with her class. I will be adapting it to our own needs
- basically just using some ideas from it but
not all. You can find it at:

If anyone else has resources or thoughts to share on this topic I would
love to hear them.

My children and I look forward to hearing other stories on how you all
share your thankfulness. There are so many different ways!

Blessings & Health,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning to Live with Different Temperaments

I had just finished with the Live Chat today for (Live Chats) and went to take my dog for a walk when I realized - how my experience with my dear puppy was such a good model for how we can learn to get along with people of other temperaments.

To understand this you have to understand a little about my background with dogs. I like to pet other people's dogs but I don't like them to lick me and I don't really like dogs that much (well until this year). I always said I was a "cat person" - for 40 years I believed this. I have five cats. I love cats. I don't want a dog. I think they are slobbery, silly and messy. I am allergic to dogs. They are bad for me. They take too much commitment. But then my son wanted one. He wanted one for five years. So finally I decided he was old enough to get a dog.

So why did I decide to do something out of my comfort level? Well, first of all, I didn't know enough about dogs to know I would actually be taking care of it when he was busy but ultimately I agreed because I love my son. So this is the first step in accepting new people and new things into our lives - love.

But how did I then get to this last step where I am completely accepting and loving of this creature and thankful for it as well? I even enjoy it!

The first step was not easy. My son wanted to stay overnight with a friend and the dog missed him. Another time my son was gone and the dog needed her walk. Both times it looked at me with those "puppy dog" eyes and I realized that it was dependent on me and that it had needs as a living creature. No matter how much I didn't want to walk the dog or let it sleep near me at night I had to do this - out of compassion. So compassion became the second step. It is so much easier to accept people and animals when we can look at them with compassion - not with a sense of anger, duty, being upset or annoyance - but compassion. When we can look at another living creature with compassion and not focus on "what they did to us" or "what we don't like" or "what is wrong with them" our heart's open to new experiences.

As I said this first step was not easy. I allowed the dog to sleep with me the first night and I woke up with a horrible allergy attack and could hardly breathe for two days. I took the dog for a walk but I didn't get my work done that day because I had not planned on the walk. And it was hot. I don't like the heat. But there were nice things too. I realized how fun it was to wake up and see these adoring eyes looking back at me - that mothering part of me appreciated that look - one that I've missed since my babies have grown into young adults. And the walk was good. I love nature and I had to admit that I have not been very good at getting out on those walks I keep "meaning to take". So when my son went on a vacation for the summer to see relatives for three weeks I decided to keep the dog with me instead of putting it with a babysitter for a few weeks. Why? Was this compassion again. Partially. But it was also me trying to save money, and feeling a sense of duty to this animal I had taken responsibility for. These reasons were not as noble as compassion but this is another part of step two - if noble reasons do not motivate - life will bring you other reasons and you can choose to complain about or embrace those reasons.

What I am saying is that life brings us what we need. I needed that dog and if I was not going to completely accept it out of compassion and love life would kick in a little bit more motivation. In this case it was funding and duty. Do you ever find yourself being "forced" into situations you don't want because of financial reasons or duty? Do you find yourself resenting this? Perhaps, embracing it would lead to the place you need to be more quickly. In my case I decided to embrace it. I was "stuck with" this dog so I mapped out my plan and did what I "had to do". I allowed it to sleep with me, but not near my face. My allergies got better and after a few days I didn't have any bad episodes again and it was awfully nice to have that adorable dog to keep me company when my kids were gone for three weeks. I think that is one place we bonded :)

I decided we would walk every day at 11am and go outside every day at 6pm. I started to look forward to the walks. I am the kind of person who loves to walk but I never took enough of them because I always like to have a "goal" for my walks (collecting herbs, walking to the store, walking with kids, etc...). Macee provided me with that goal each day. After two weeks I also noticed another change. I had lost ten pounds. I had been trying to lose that ten pounds for a year but never managed to keep it off and had not put it on the top of my priority list as I was "not that much" overweight. But I did feel better without that extra weight!

Two months later I've lost 17 pounds and I love my walks with Macee. We talk and play and see deer on the nature trail. The sunshine and the trees are beautiful and I love being motivated to take walks every day. If I try to skip them she comes to me every day at 11am and reminds me. I adore her and love to notice when she is happy (her tail is straight up) and am sad when she is not happy (like when her tail goes down if we pass scary dogs or traffic). I secretly miss sleeping with her and enjoy that she naps in my office every day as I work. I love her and completely adore her. When did this happen?

I think about this - here is a creature that is bad for me - I am allergic to her and I really took on too much responsibility when I purchased her - time-wise and financially. I didn't even like dogs and for the past month I've had to spend money and time trying to get rid of there are all these negative things. But, by being able to find the positive parts of our relationship, by opening up my heart to the gift she is (how else would I have gotten out for walks every day for the past three months - nothing else worked so far) I am able to accept her and love her and completely overlook (not focus on) the negatives.

When we can learn to do that with people that are different from us - when we realize the gifts they offer us and can look beyond the negatives - this is when we can start to get along better with people of different temperaments. It goes beyond understanding the different temperaments or "accepting them" or even learning "how to work with them" or learning about them. We must completely embrace them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Addictions as the Norm

I was thinking about addictions this week. I had a live healing/consulting session online with some clients about the topic of addictions this week. I had a reminder discussion with my son about addictions and with all that thinking I started to realize how much addictions have become part of our daily normal lives.

I see updates on Facebook saying "I am having such a craving for..." or "I have GOT to get that new...." or "I can't wait for the next episode of..." I even posted one a few weeks ago. I was "dying" to see the next episode of LOST. We seem to take pride in our addictions and in some ways they have become acceptable. I hear the phrase a lot 'I am so addicted to...." and then we all laugh because we all have our "addictions". Right?

Or does it have to be that way? How normal is this or have we just been brainwashed into thinking it is OK? Is it OK to joke about addictions and talk about them as normal and funny? I am starting to wonder after musing on the topic this week.

I am constantly monitoring my "addictions". Not for any noble reasons, but since I have been a child it has bothered me and felt a little "creepy" that someone else or something else was controlling my mind. I guess I was just born that way. I was never attracted to alcohol or drugs because the way they controlled me scared me. I used to turn off television programs ten minutes before the end because I wanted to show "them" that I didn't care what the end was (LOL). But still I find myself bombarded by temptations, invitations to become addicted to the next wonderful thing.

Why does a child want to continue playing a video game? Because there is always one more level to complete. Why do you want to ignore what you are doing and finish watching the TV show? Because there is an ending you want to see and then there is more next week because they never quite finish the story. Why do we want to buy certain foods? Because they contain sugar, MSG or other addictive substances. It is appalling the way that addiction has become an acceptable direct marketing tool. In fact, if you read some business magazines they actually suggest that you try to "hook" your clients, or "offer them something that fulfills a need on an ongoing basis" or "create a need". It is all about creating this "need". People "need" to watch that next episode, complete that next level, eat that food again, fulfill the craving for Starbucks coffee with MSG or Pizza Hut Pizza with MSG, people "need" to buy more of those special vitamins or scientific herbal formulas because they are scared our body will collapse if they don't, they need those prescription meds, they "need" to smoke that next cigarette, they need to drink that next drink, they need to take that next "hit"...uh can you see where this is going?

In our house the red flag waves if someone says "I HAVE to do that". Do you really feel you have to? Is it becoming compulsive? Do we want to encourage our children to be addicted to things?

When my children were little I was always "keeping an eye out" for this. When they became old enough to understand (9-12 years old) I explained to them how to look out for it on their own. Everything is marketed to us based on addiction. The goal of movies, TV shows, games, foods, fast food restaurants, online sites, etc...are to get us addicted. As long as you realize this and maintain control over your own behaviour you can avoid the addiction and enjoy the wonderful offerings that are out there for all of us.

So how can you define an addiction?

It is defined by Webester's dictionary as, "being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming." You can be addicted to behaviors, people, situations, feelings, drugs, alcohol, TV, anything.

So how can you tell if you are becoming addicted?

1. The first sign around our house is if someone says, "I HAVE to do that" or they throw a tantrum or become otherwise unreasonable when asking (demanding) an item or activity or something. Do you find yourself or a child saying that or feeling that? Then it is time to try #2.

2. A good addiction test is to stop doing something for a week and see how you feel. If you can't go without it for a week then you are addicted. In fact, this is such a good measure of addiction that I periodically take breaks from things myself and have my children take breaks from certain activities or foods to monitor how they are dealing with that input in their lives. If you are addicted then you will feel a loss, a pulling or a strong desire for this item during the week. You may not even be able to function without it.

3. If your desire for the item, feeling, person, or activity overtakes your ability to function with family and friends. If you are unable to meet the needs of your family, children, spouse or friends or maintain healthy relationships with them because of the activity then you are addicted. However, most people who are addicted to things don't recognize this symptom at all. This symptom can only be defined by those around you. If someone close to you says "Will you stop.....all the time" or "It seems like you are addicted to...." then you might want to check out the possibility that you are addicted. Beause most likely you would not know how strongly it is effecting those around you.

Just some food for thought...but not the kind with MSG or sugar ;)

Blessings & Health,

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Being Super Woman

Sometimes people ask me "How do you find time to do all that you do?" The interesting thing about that question is that I am often wondering that about the person who asked! I wonder that about so many people. And then I wonder...did they, perhaps, just stumble upon the same "method" that I did?

I don't actually set out to accomplish anything each day. In fact I'm not a very competitive person, I don't have a lot of faith in grades, test taking or any other methods that involve measuring success. I don't even feel very motivated some days. So how do I get anything done - LOL?

It comes from years of observing what works with me and what does not, years of meditating on what I am "meant to do" and what I feel at peace doing. Years of failed attempts in various projects and years of knocking on closed doors only to realize the windows were open the entire time. Basically, years of observing what I was doing to slow down my efficiency, my joy and my harmony in life.

Over time I started to ask myself what I really wanted from life. What is it that I really want? Simply put I want to give and receive love. I want to contribute in a positive way to my own life and those of others. I started realizing that there were some things that were "assistants" in this process and some things that were "road blocks" to this process. Here are some of the observations I made. I would also love to hear about the road blocks and assistants in your life.

Road Blocks

1. Competition. I would see what another person was doing and feel I could do better in some way OR, in many cases a person would indicate they were directly competing with me or they felt I was competition in some way. It was easy to get drawn into this. I would spend hours trying to be "better" or hours trying to convince someone I was not competing with them or...basically, I would spend hours following paths that were not my own. When I learned to focus and spend less time focusing on the outside I became happier, more efficient, and more true to my own heart and path.

One example is in business. I know there are many people working in the world of Waldorf, homeschooling, herbal healing, photography and other areas that I work in. Some professional business models insist that you need to "know what the competition is doing". However, I find it healthier to not even see these other people as competition and just let everyone "do their thing". If everyone focuses on what they are good at and they are able to bring their own unique contribution to the world, instead of worrying about being the best or doing something better or copying others, then what will come through will be of the best quality and everyone will benefit.

Another example is motherhood. The more I focus inward, instead of on the outward accomplishments of another mother, the better I am able to function for my own family.

2. Knocking on Closed Doors. So many times in my life I stood at a closed door knocking and knocking, looking for other ways to open it, trying to force it open, trying to pick the know what I mean! Then one day, I slowly started to realize that the windows were open the entire time.

One good example of this is when I moved overseas and was far away from my favorite Waldorf school. I spent days dreaming about how to get back, fantasizing about my husband losing his job, all sorts of things just to get me back to that school. Then I realized that all I needed to do was start my own school. 40 families of amazing friends and four years later I was more than sad to leave this group of wonderful people. However, at that time I realized that it would be an opening to something else wonderful. I left my heart open to possibilities and realized that leaving my full-time school opened me up to doing full time work with my online school instead of the part-time work I had been doing with it for years. And I love the work I am doing now so it turned out beautifully!

3. Trying to fit in. That was a struggle for me that I thought was done and gone in High School, but during my early adult years I realized that this struggle only ends when you declare it ends. I spent some of my early adult years trying to "fit into" different communities. Trying to be the perfect LLL mama, trying to be the ideal Waldorf mama, trying to be the ideal "compound wife" who attends teas and has a lively social life, trying to be the ideal mom who enrolls her child in the "right" extracurricular activities, trying to go to the fun events that everyone was raving about....

It was a slow process that started to happen more than 20 years ago...but at this point I am finally in a place where I have no problem at all telling people that I don't want to do something or go somewhere if it is not something I enjoy. If someone thinks I am "odd" I simply don't care. I've taken a great liking to the word "eccentric" :) However, what really happened was that over many years of doing it "both ways" I realized that it didn't matter if I did them "my way" or "their way" - people still responded to me the same way, people were still people.

4. I could go on and on. Perhaps on a different day I would even include three different ones. Those are the three that come to the top today. Perhaps I will add more later but I don't like long BLOG posts!


1. Giving up my vision of what is "ideal". For many years I measured myself and what I did against a "fantasy" vision of what everything "should" be like. We all have these fantasy visions. Is there someone in your life you admire that you try to emulate? Is there a Tv show or movie that inspired you and you want to be more like the main character? Is there a book that you find useful? Many people find that some new age or self-help books can be really motivating and inspiring. Sometimes these books, movies and people can be a wonderful boost for us and can really help push us in the right direction or add some energy where we previously felt uninspired.

However, when these visions become what we see more than our own lives, it can take over and become a road block instead of an assistant. Now, I make more of an effort to keep all those inspiring people, books and movies in their place. I focus on appreciating them and who THEY are, and not on how I can be more like them. I try to use that inspiration to teach me that I can also be wonderful and amazing like THEY are. THEY did it by following their hearts and I can too.

2. Intuition. When I was a child I used to play "mind reading" with a friend of mine. We would try to "read" each others minds and we actually had a lot of success. We WERE best friends, after all - it was easy to make a connection.

When I was a child and planned my day I completely based it on what I wanted to do, what I felt was right.

However, that quickly starts to fade away the first time a parent says "you should" or a teacher gives you a "B" grade on a paper.

It does not help that adult society labels everything. We have "doctors" and "experts" and "self-help" books. Everything we see around us tells us that we are not fit to help ourselves - we need to make sure to consult an expert.

As an adult you need to learn to trust your intuition again. It is a slow process but the way you start is by noticing the times you made poor choices and the times you felt really good about your choices. How did you feel BEFORE each of these choices? Keep a diary. Over a few weeks a pattern will emerge. Some "professional" psychics and intuitives share that they feel a "glowing feeling" in their solar plexus (gut) area when a feeling is based on intuition. Is that perhaps where "I had a gut feeling" comes from?

For me, it is more than a "gut" feeling. For me, when I have an intuitive feeling about something I feel almost a cold breeze on my face, like someone has opened up all the doors and walls around me. When I am making a poor decision I feel like I am being closed in on by walls or someone is suffocating me with a big blanket.

When I do consulting with people for homeschooling or health I try to help them to trust their own intuition more. About 80% of the people who come to me for help already know what they need. It is amazing how amazing we all are and how much we know. We are just scared, for some reason, to admit it.

The more you are willing to admit how much you know (and be completely comfortable with what you do not know) the more open your life becomes. At the same time you also need to be open to always learning more and realizing that what you "know" can change. Be open to what others have to say about what you do - listen with an open mind and always be willing to learn more, know more, or be better at what you are doing. Be open to being confident in what you "know" about yourself, your health, life in general, but at the same time realize that none of us really "know" anything! But then that is another topic...

3. Trading fear & duty for love & inspiration. It seems a lot of what we tend to do as people is motivated by fear. Even being aware of this I STILL find it sneaking in the "back door" of my life without realizing it! It is a sneaky nasty little thing! So what does this mean?

If my spouse or partner tells me they want me to do something for them or they tell me they are unhappy with me in some way I can change for them or make an effort for them out of FEAR (my end goal being to please them so they are not unhappy with me, or my end goal being they will be angry if I don't) or I can make an effort for them out of LOVE (my end goal being simply to make them happy because I love them).

Another example is with what we purchase. I can purchase a certain toothpaste because of LOVE (I love the taste and have found, from experience that the ingredients really help me) or I can purchase out of FEAR (the ads say this one is new and improved and I fear not using the latest advanced products, or I fear that if I use one that is not like this it will hurt me in some way).

Or what about how we raise our kids? I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about what movies we let our kids watch.; After we both wrote long paragraphs about why we made the decisions we did I realized that we were both being motivated by fear - she was scared that her kids would learn the things she did as a child and be exposed to horrible things she felt were inappropriate in her childhood. From my end, I feared that my children would be too sheltered as I was and then go out when they were 16 and make all these discoveries on their own when it was much more dangerous (like I did LOL). So we were making these decisions based on FEAR, not LOVE. Another friend I know consults a website that tells her if films are good or bad based on language, etc...etc...some classic and well done movies are on the "bad" list.

So what if we made these decisions on movies based on LOVE and intuition? Did we feel love when we watched the movie? Would we LOVE to share this with our child?

Once you become aware of this you will be amazed at how many decisions you make out of fear. I was certainly amazed! When I started tracking myself it seemed like about 90% of my decisions were fear-based. WOW.

So I would love to hear from others - what are your "road blocks" and "assistants"? What helps you to be more of who you are and to find that place of peace and harmony in your life?

For when you find an hour, a day or a week of that peace, any moments of that peace and harmony you can harness - it becomes like one of those scenes from the movies where Superman changes into his cape or when Wonder Woman puts on that ring - in those moments you are transformed and you have superpowers too.

Blessings & Health,

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thank You Note Meditation

Dear Blog Followers,

I know I post "few and far between" but I appreciate you following my thoughts. Remember, if you would like updates on please visit the site to see the new changes we have made there - we have added a local Des Moines page and I have added more contact information on the site under "Contact". I post most often to Facebook, Twitter, HerbnHome BLOG, EarthSchooling BLOG and my online lists herbnhome@yahoogroups and I reserve this BLOG for inspirational and contemplative thoughts I want to share with everyone.

Now, finally, the BLOG post!

I remember when I was a child I used to think writing thank you notes was a chore. As a teenager I thought it was a tradition that dated back to days of "formality" between people. As an adult I lost track of making sure I wrote thank you notes for everything. I would write them now and then, I would write them when I was inspired. I would say thank you. But it was only when I realized the real medatative worth and the depth that thank you notes have that I became a "thank you note" fan.

* Note - I am talking about hand-written thank you notes - not e-mail thank you's or E-cards.

Here are some of the things that made me a fan:

1. We often don't realize how good our life is or how thankful we are unless we take time to reflect on that daily. A daily meditation is good, and taking the time to write a thank you note is a good meditation for those who prefer active meditations. To write a thank you note you must first find the paper, choose a note or make a hand-made card, find a place to write, think about what you want to write, and then write about what you are thankful for. This entire process causes you to meditate on this positive thing that has happened in your life (be it a physical, emotional or spiritual gift).

2. In today's world children often don't realize how lucky they are. Having dishwashers, TVs, computers and hot running water have all become commonplace in the American household. Many items we purchase are disposible (even if they are recycled they are still being disposed of in some way), and and sometimes, if something breaks we have to buy a new one. I recently took an electronic iriscope to the repair shop. They informed me that nobody could repair it because there were too many small wires in the cord. This can make children develop an attitude of "just buy a new one" or "there is more of that where this one came from" or "this is not good enough...give me more." Writing thank you notes is a good way to allow children the experience of reflecting on what they have been given in life. By taking the time to write a note they are recognizing and reflecting on the effort, thought and cost that went into their gift.

3. Writing thank you notes can also be an RAOK (Random Act of Kindness). How about writing a thank you note to the person who served you well at the cafe? Or to the Sunday School teacher who volunteer's their time each week? Or to someone who inspires you? Or to a friend who took care of your child when you were ill? Many people are surprised and cheered by such small notes. They are so rare in today's world that they mean even more than they used to.

Sit down right now and think of one person you could write a thank you note to. Make a promise to yourself that you will send it out this week in the mail.

Blessings & Health,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Little Things

This year holiday time is tight. We usually end up celebrating a number of holidays in December because we have friends and families from different religions. This usually means that there are gifts to be purchased for all, gifts to be wrapped, cookies to bake and dinners to make.

However, this year, with the economy being so poor it became very apparent to me how much everything was costing. Sugar cookies and frosting cost almost $20.00 in butter and other ingredients, a tree costs $40.00, Turkey's cost $20.00, the meal costs about $45.00. Gingerbread houses cost $35.00, gifts, even at $5.00 a person were going to add up fast. And that was not even counting at least one gift for each child.

I had to cut somewhere. First we decided we would make gifts for everyone we knew this year. They would actually be much nicer than something we could buy anyway. Some family members are now getting gifts that would be posted on ETSY for about $75.00, which is a lot better than a cheap $5.00 gift from China that does not even support the economy. The kids have all agreed to accept the fact they will only get one small additional gift (not made by me) this year and we made sure to re-gift/deliver a lot of things we didn't want to Goodwill and other charities before the holidays so things we did not use so other people would be able to enjoy. Altogether we delivered 26 boxes of things - most of them in great or new condition.

It is interesting, because when you give away things your space and your house seems new - things around you that were buried reveal themselves and it almost seems like you received a gift yourself :)

Of course just being together is the best gift a person can have this holiday season. And the time we are spending together decorating and making things and baking is the main thing that makes this holiday special. However, gift giving is such a big part of the holidays, so that part was a challenge.

Gift giving can turn into a really big commercial me-athon. But gift giving can also be a lesson in giving and what role and function that has in a society. It can be a lesson in patience (waiting to open boxes) and can be a lesson in hope (hoping for things as gifts). Gifting is a sacred cultural practice (can you tell I majored in Anthropology) that needs to be

But the big lesson I learned this holiday season with gifts is that it is the little things that count. When I looked at our budget I had to fit a lot of things into a little money. The decision to let each child have only one small gift, was made because I realized, as I tried to cut other things from the budget that it is actually the "little things" that count more than the big gifts.

The most interesting item we decided to spend money on was wrapping paper. I have old bits of leftover wrapping paper from last year and I even have some that are in solid colors that will work for any holiday. I have tissue paper and we can always make wrapping paper. For me, I figured that was an easy $10-$15.00 I could save. Don't buy wrapping paper.

I was wrong. The children were crushed at the idea of not wrapping things in pretty paper they had chosen themselves. They found such joy in the idea of unwrapping things that Sunii even said he was going to wrap some old cereal boxes so it looked like we had more gifts under the tree and that he "really liked unwrapping things". Really. He was not just "being nice". The kids were really excited about the wrapping paper. So we went out shopping and each child was able to choose two kinds of wrapping paper - big tubes of sparkly decorated holiday themed paper-soon-to-be-recycled. I also chose one tube myself.

When I told them they would only each get one gift this year they seemed to understand "how things were" and were "ok". When I mentioned not getting wrapping paper they were very upset.

So we arrived home. Five tubes of wrapping paper. We wrapped the gifts we had, Sunii wrapped his cereal boxes, we wrapped some of the items we had made for people and there was such JOY in the house - just because of the colors and excitement of the wrapping paper (and thank goodness I had an entire package of bows from last year :).

It was a lesson to me. Sometimes when we think things are bad it only takes a small thing to change it. I thought that making things better would be impossible and that we would just be "making do". But my kids taught me that even a small gesture can make us feel special.

And we decided to do gingerbread houses instead of sugar cookies this year. Shhhh...don't tell anyone but I was sort of tired of sugar cookies anyway - whew! Glad I had an excuse not to make any this year :)

Happy Holidays!