They Do as You DO, Not as You SAY: Create a Gratitude Tree

Favorite Holiday Tradition: Gratitude Tree, ExtraordinaryMommy.comI live by many rules as a parent – many of them are wisdom passed on to me by smarter generations – my parents included. Take for example, the phrase, ‘because I said so’… that little gem was one I swore I’d never repeat, but it’s now a known and feared quantity in our home. My small people know if that is the answer you get, you’ve likely pushed too far.

I believe firmly in teaching kindness and gratitude in giant hugs, in bedtimes and brushing teeth, in fruits and vegetables, in saying yes to candy in moderation, in protecting each other, in looking my small people in the eye, in saying sorry only when it’s necessary, but meaning it when you say it, in laughing until you can’t breathe, in being a permanent student of life and in having ‘yes days’ to fuel all of our souls.

But the biggest lesson I have learned as a parent is this: I can have all of the rules in the world. I can ‘teach’ until my voice runs out and my hair turns gray, but my small people will not do as I say, they will do as I do.  It is up to me to model the behavior I want to see in them as they grow. This means being kind, brushing my teeth, eating my vegetables, laughing and…. you understand.

Part of this practice – it isn’t always easy…. is finding news ways to live these rules together.

Enter our newest family holiday tradition: The Gratitude Tree. In the video, we explain HOW we did it (easy-peasy, I promise) and more on the WHY.


So, what do you think?

Have you ever created a Gratitude Tree in your home? (If you have and you’ve written about it – or created a video – share the link…. I want to see!) Friends spreading gratitude is my FAVORITE.

And beyond that, I just would love to know… what are you grateful for? I’d love to add your words and heart to our tree!

Happy Thanksgiving and beyond, my friends.


The Beauty of Tradition: A Veil, Her Eyes and A Small Girl’s Soul

I went to sleep the other night…. the mother of the sweet baby girl.  Born with a full head of dark brown hair, brown eyes reminiscent of milk chocolate…. a smile that can make you melt. She toddled through my dreams saying her first word, ‘bit’ for blanket, holding my hand, snuggling into my bed and sucking her thumb.

When I woke, I found this….


An angel of a girl, no longer toddling…. full of questions, spunky, sassy and with freckles that I have spent hours trying to memorize like astromers do their favorite constellations.

This weekend, Delaney will make her First Communion… an incredibly important step in the Catholic faith.  She has spent the better part of her second grade year preparing for it.  This feels like her first ‘grown up’ moment.  We have had so many beautiful, meaningful conversations surrounding what will happen for her this weekend.  She is taking it all so seriously…

And another part of the treasure for me comes steeped in tradition.  The veil you see on her sweet head is over 100 years old.

I wore it on my First Communion.

Danielle's First Communion 1981

So did my mother.

My Mom's First Communion 1957

And so did my grandmother.

And that veil?  Was created from my great-grandmother’s wedding veil.

Delaney and I took these pictures as a ‘trial-run’…. she chose her own dress, but allowed me to be the stylist for her hair and veil (though having her hair done does not rank high on my tom-boy’s list of things to do).

She was so reverent about the veil, took such good care as we moved around outide and was so beautifully spirited…..choosing different poses and enjoying every moment with me.

I’m going to watch her on Sunday…. walk down the aisle of the church…. in that dress and veil.  She will still be seven when she walks out the door, but she will have carried on a glorious family tradition and given me one more memory to decorate my dreams as she gets a little older day-by-day.