The Thankful Tree

Teaching Gratitude


Teach kids Gratitude

Is not in my experience an easy and graceful task.  At least not for my girlies.

But I know that by training our minds to look for gratitude, to look for the good things in life, we can, in fact, train our mind to keep looking for them, and this, this is something that is important to teach my girls, for me and my husband.

So back in 2014 the girls and I made the above gratitude tree as part of our November celebration and part of getting ready for the holiday season and Thanksgiving.  The girls helped me color in the tree and then they each helped write what was on each of the leaves and we added to it as the month went on.

And for the ages of my girls this perfect for their attention span, their need to do everything with their hands, and lots of color and texture.

We didn’t do it this year though, partially because I didn’t think of it, and also because we have a new piece of furniture on that wall.  But we do have a daily practice around gratitude.

Every night as we all sit down for our evening meal everyone is says something they are grateful for.  Preferably something from that day if it is time specific, so this time of year you can’t simply say that it is one day closer to Christmas, you have to also say something else.

Small or big, it’s all good.  Just the other day my youngest actually said she was grateful for one of her sisters, which is a big first for her, and considering how she has been treating them lately, really good to hear.

It is a nice ritual to set the tone of the meal, calm everyone down, take turns listening because we can’t hear if we all go at once, and let everyone have a chance to say something, which in a family of six can be a small miracle in itself at times.

How do you teach gratitude to your kids?  How do you practice it yourself, and is it something you model?

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Is it Too Early to Plan for Christmas?

Ideas to keep my sanity during the upcoming countdown…..


I know today is Halloween, but really is it too early to plan for Halloween?

My kids have been listening to Christmas music off and on for two months now.

My local community has their Early Bird Saturday shopping event this Saturday.  Which means getting up extra early and shopping at 6 AM to discounts at local stores, free coffee, and community and friends.  That combined with expected online Black Friday shopping and I expect to have all my shopping done before the 1st of December.

At 11, 9, 5 1/2 and 4 the fervor around the Christmas holidays is going to be fierce.  I expect it to start by Thanksgiving at the latest as my girls have been asking our Amazon Alexa how many days it is until Christmas since we were about 70 days away (or was it 90, I really can’t remember).

My 4-year-old is going to be especially hyped up if the countdown to her birthday earlier this month is any indication.

This is not my first rodeo, and she’s not my first four years old.  So I have plans.  Plans within plans.  Perhaps maybe even (ahem) evil plans.

Starting a couple of weeks ago I started making a list in Evernote to keep track of ideas for activities we could do each day from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas.  I got the kids involved, asking their ideas as well, and they contributed the science related projects.  I did not want a lot of the things to be about sugar, seriously they get enough of that anyway without help.  I also have some extra ideas in case anyone changes their minds or we need to sub something at the last minute.

I wanted as many of the activities to be experience based, and that, by and large, can fit in a two hour or smaller block.  I will be setting up my calendar soon, with each activity written on a posted note, that way if we need to move an activity around for whatever reason we can do that.  For instance, I know we will be going Christmas Carolling with Girl Scouts, but I don’t know for sure which meeting that will be yet.

And this works no matter what holiday you celebrate, being pagan you’re not going to see anything overly religious on this list.  I may continue this idea into the new year with different themes, we will see how well this goes first!

Here is the list in case you need ideas for your own family:

  1. Putting up the Christmas tree
  2. Decorating the house
  3. Make Christmas Cookies
  4. Santa Lucia Day
  5. Christmas carolling
  6. Read Christmas Stories
  7. Christmas Dance party
  8. Meet Santa
  9. Make Pork Pies
  10. Make Christmas Ornaments
  11. Advent Party
  12. Nutcracker Ballet
  13. Christmas Movie Night
  14. Make Christmas Bread Shapes
  15. Drive and see Christmas lights
  16. Hike in the Woods
  17. Put together puzzles
  18. Spend the day in our PJs
  19. Scavenger hunt (outside)
  20. Wrap presents
  21. Color in the Christmas coloring books
  22. Prep for Saint Lucia Day
  23. Make Egg Nog drink mulled cider
  24. Christmas Party
  25. Christmas Chemistry Peppermint Wafers
  26. Make Glow in The Dark Snowflakes
  27. Make fizzy gingerbread men 
  28. Make Christmas Playdough 
  29. Make Peppermint Bowls With Friends
  30. Make Gingerbread houses and people
  31. Magnetic Olaf
  32. Make Ice Ornaments – directions at the bottom of the page.
  33. Build Christmas Boats and see if they float:
  34. The Science of Yeast 

I would love to hear what you do to keep your kids busy during the countdown to the holidays!

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Connecting Deeply and Navigating Your Pre-Teen’s Emotions

Andrea Parker shares the beginning of her journey in navigating the many changes of having a tween at home.  She even includes some practices that she and her daughter use to stay connected.


I am Andrea Parker, founder of The Rejuvenation Grange. I am a mom, an innovator, a connector and a teacher who thrives in nature and wants to guide girls and women to lead from the heart.

My mission in life is to help people young and old create their equilibrium, become the best they can be and rediscover their passion through innovation and play.

I see myself as that boat that guides them across the turbulent waters or self-determination to that magical place where they can be uplifted and unchain themselves from their fears so they may thrive.

Come and Join Me at or my group Soulful Innovators on Facebook,

How to Work From Home Around Your Kids

Amanda Lopes-Bregoli of Refocus on Being is the women who taught me how to be a virtual assistant and the tool she is sharing with us today – Work Blocks, has literally changed my and my families life and has allowed me to stay at home while homeschooling my four amazing daughters.

Check out her video below and see if Work Blocks could open up new doors of productivity, even if all you are trying to do is get anything done around your kids!


How To DeStress Yourself and Your Child through Tapping

Today Sheila Henry brings us a short video on how to use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or tapping to lower our and our children’s stress levels.

Have you ever done tapping before?  I love her suggestions of how to do it with your children. Join Sheila in this under 10-minute video below and let me know how your experience with EFT is in the comments!


Sheila Henry, MFT


Licensed Counselor (MFT #8408) for 30 years

Member: ACEP (Assoc. Comprehensive Energy Psychology)

Former member of the Los Angeles Chapter National Speakers Association

Member of the California Chapter Marriage & Family Counselors

Former board member of the San Diego Chapter of Marriage & Family Counselors Active Rotarian for 15 years

Professional Mom’s Success Coach

Author of Professional Mom’s Guide to Success & Sanity, How to Balance Career and Home Life with Less Stress.

At Peace with Screens…

This we are joined by Michelle Thompson, P.h.D, JD who writes about what screen time has meant to her only son.  And how she is at peace with it, at least for the moment.


I remember when Angry Birds was released as a game you could play on your device of choice. My sister’s partner let my son James play it at a restaurant. He LOVED it. He was five.

I downloaded the game on my laptop. That worked well because I wrote my dissertation on it, so he only had access to it when I wasn’t writing . . . and I was writing all of the time.

Fast forward to 2012, and I bought an iPad. I had games on it (Angry Birds and all its iterations), but it was MY iPad that I used to deliver college lectures and . . . edit chapters of my dissertation. That’s right, while James was hooked, he had limited access to that device.

Then James earned and was given rather large chunks of money as gifts. Do you know what he did with that money?

Buy an iPad.

I gave him an old smartphone of mine that didn’t work well. He wanted a new one. He bought an old model iPhone. With money he earned.


While Angry Birds no longer capture his imagination, YouTube, apps with endless memes, and Clash of Clans absolutely do. It’s not infrequent that you say something to him and get silence. I’ve been known to FaceTime with him – in the same house! It’s often the only way I can get his attention. My partner often gets nothing because he isn’t listening and she doesn’t use FaceTime (I think it’s fair to say that electronically, she’s the EXACT OPPOSITE of my son and I. She doesn’t use apps!).

However, he is the child who comes home and does his homework well. He participates in soccer and track. He’s actually really good at them. He twitches all the time if he doesn’t get enough exercise. He’s a great traveler and loves to cook. He spends time with our dog and practices the piano. His friends’ younger siblings LOVE him. He babysits.

He’s an only child, so I know that he’s easily bored. I know that boredom is often necessary to create.

But the screens get in the way.

Yes, I want this to change. I won’t give up the fight for figuring out how to separate him from screens without becoming entertainer-in-chief.

I don’t want this to be a never-ending fight. I want his mind in this with me. I want him to understand why this doesn’t work well for him. I know that much more connection with him is needed.

So for now, I’m at peace with his screens. For now.

Michelle Dionne Thompson, Ph.D., JD is the Founder and CEO of Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting, a primarily coaching business that works with women in law and academia to set and meet aligned goals sanely in the midst of insane industries. A recovering lawyer and a historian, she also teaches college and is writing her first book, Jamaica’s Accompong Maroons (1838 – 1905): Retooled Resistance for Continued Existence.