This time of year, as things get hectic and there are toys and temptations at every corner it’s a great time to slow down and focus on the many blessings in our lives.  Having conversations with our children about what they are thankful for can be heartwarming and at times even comical.  Creating a book to detail these stories is easy, and makes a wonderful keepsake or gift for a loved one.  Even the youngest of children can help with this project, which makes it even more special.

Take blank scrap papers and fold each of them in half.  Using a hole punch, make several evenly spaced holes just inside the folded edge.  Thread the paper together using string, yarn, ribbon or whatever you have on hand.

Crease each of the pages open to form a fold and have your child decorate each page.  If they are old enough to write, they can write a note or tell a story. If not, you can ask questions and fill in the story for them.

Just don’t forget to make one to keep for yourself!

Planning to hit the Black Friday sales this week?  Why not change the color and the impact, and make it a Green Friday instead?

Here are a few ideas to help you make this holiday shopping season green:

  • Make donations to honor someone.  Consider making a donation in a loved one’s name.  Here are some organizations we love and support.
  • Give time or skill, not stuff.  How about a gift of date-night babysitting, a home cooked meal, lawn mowing, or laundry for a month?  Or if you have a special skill like gardening, massage, scrap-booking, video editing, or musical skill, how about giving a gift of one of those talents?  Who doesn’t want their family pictures finally organized?
  • Buy gently used.  Wonderful and less-expensive presents are easy to find in consignment stores, used bookstores, online, and even in thrift stores, and you’ll give an item a second life instead of a ticket to the landfill.  If you’re looking online, Craigslist, Freecycle, and eBay are good places to start.
  • Upcycle.  If you’re handy, buy presents at thrift stores and spruce them up a little.  See this site for some creative inspiration and guides to upcycling just about anything you can think of!
  • Buy sustainably-made products.  Look for products made with recycled or renewable materials.  Steer clear as much as you can of plastics, and instead go for gifts made from natural, organic materials.  Another way to reduce impact is to buy items that will last, and can be handed down to others in good shape.  When buying for kids, check out Healthy Stuff to make sure that your gifts are free of toxic chemicals.
  • When you go shopping, remember your reusable bags, take public transportation if you can, and have fun!


Tis the season for toy catalogs and commercials galore – here is an idea to help your kids avoid the “gotta have it all” attitude and reuse some of toy books at the same time!

Rather than resisting the catalogs, allow your child to look through the pages and think about what they really might like.  Ask them what toys their siblings, friends and family might like.  This can lead to some great conversations! Then, depending on your child’s age, either allow them to cut out the toys they are most interested in receiving, or have an adult provide some assistance.

Once the pile of toy pictures is complete, recycle the remaining catalog and begin the process of “editing”.  Decide on an acceptable size for child’s wish list/letter to Santa.  Explain that if all the toys that were cut from the catalog don’t fit, then choices need to be made.  This allows your child to really think about what he wants and get creative arranging the pictures into a collage.  When the list is complete, if a new picture comes along it needs to be pasted on top of an existing picture.

A Santa collage allows younger kids who wouldn’t be able to read a written letter to Santa to see what they have chosen for their list.

Do you write letters to Santa with your kids?

We’re so pleased to share a podcast interview with Caroline Blakemore, co-author of Baby Read-Aloud Basics.

Tanya spoke with Caroline about the many reasons to read to babies, tips for reading to babies, how reading aloud changes from the newborn to toddler period, and more.  Caroline shared why, as a reading specialist for older kids, she became such an advocate for reading to babies, as well as her opinions of programs that claim to teach babies how to read.

You can listen to the podcast using the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download it at our free iTunes store!